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Afghanistan Calls Off Talks With Taliban; President Obama To Announce Nuclear Drawdown Plans In Berlin; President Obama Questioned By German Press On Surveillance, Drones, Guantanamo; Miami Heat Force Game 7; China, North Korean Officials To Meet; U.S., Jordan To Hold Joint Military Exercises

Aired June 19, 2013 - 08:00:00   ET


KRISTIE LU STOUT, HOST: I'm Kristie Lu Stout in Hong Kong. And welcome to News Stream where news and technology meet.

President Obama addresses the controversy over the U.S. government surveillance program and just what they can and can't see.

Afghanistan (inaudible) planned talks with the Taliban a day before the U.S. government is set to meet the militant group.

And seconds away from defeat, the Miami Heat come back to get even with the Spurs in the NBA finals.

A Transatlantic alliance and a call to reduce nuclear warheads are expected to be the focus of a major address U.S. President Barack Obama is set to deliver in Germany. He'll be speaking at Berlin's iconic Brandenburg Gate in just about an hour from now.

And for Mr. Obama, this will be an encore of sorts. Now he spoke in Berlin back in 2008 before a crowd of more than 200,000 people. And back then, he was a Democratic presidential candidate. And he won the crowd's support by speaking about unity.

But this time, Obama is the U.S. leader dealing with wars and other controversies and his audience today will be much, much smaller than the crowd back in 2008.

Our Jim Boulden is live in Berlin. And Jim, a smaller crowd, we're expecting that. And they'll be hearing what's being billed as Obama's bold vision for cuts in nuclear warheads. What should we expect to hear?

JIM BOULDEN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, that's right. If you recall back in 2010 Russia and the U.S. signed START 2 and it was ratified as a treaty, major treaty, to cut nuclear warheads on both sides to about 1,500. He's suspected to call for another deep cut, maybe up to a third, something about 1,000 nuclear missiles on both sides of this, if you will, on Russia and the U.S. side. And it's a bold initiative according to the White House, because it's something that would be quite controversial on congress.

So he's going to talk about the geopolitical ramifications of trying to cut back on nuclear weapons. And you think it harks back really to the idea of the old Cold War being in Berlin. We think back 50 years ago when John Kennedy spoke in West Berlin and 26 years ago with Ronald Reagan.

So he wants to evoke some of that as well in this speech, Kristie.

LU STOUT: And that is why this speech is taking place at the Brandenburg gate.

Now Obama earlier today he held talks with the German Chancellor Angela Merkel. And judging from the press conference, they seemed to reach a mutual understanding about the NSA surveillance program. What did they say?

BOULDEN: Yes. I think it was very interesting. It was one of the first times we've been able to hear what Mr. Obama has to say about this in detail. So he was asked about the NSA programs. And he spoke about them in generalities, but he did say that he's, I think, reassured Chancellor Merkel that they were proportionate, that there was balance. He even said himself that he was quite skeptical about these programs when he became president and then he looked at them and he used the word scrub. He said he scrubbed them and made them a bit more balanced in his mind.

And he also said that he thinks these programs to not only monitor sometimes phone calls to a specific phone number, but also monitoring internet traffic has actually stopped some terrorist threats.

Take a listen.


BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We know of at least 50 threats that have been averted because of this information, not just in the United States, but in some cases threats here in Germany. So lives have been saved. And the encroachment on privacy has been strictly limited by a court approved process to...


BOULDEN: Now, President Obama also said, Kristie, that when he gets back to the U.S. he's going to see if he can declassify some of the information around these two specific programs, because he says he thinks some of this could be more transparent. And it's something that he will be pushing for when he gets home, Kristie.

LU STOUT: U.S. president promising more transparency on the government surveillance program there in Berlin. Again, we're awaiting this speech at Brandenburg Gate by the U.S. president where he will address this bold vision for nuclear warhead reduction.

And set the scene for us, Jim, because the last time again when Mr. Obama was there in Berlin in 2008, he spoke to these huge ecstatic crowds. But what is the mood there this time around?

BOULDEN: It's a very different mood, Kristie. Yes, you're right. He spoke to 200,000, I think it was, away from the Brandenburg Gate, because he was still a candidate, so he wasn't allowed by the government here to use the Brandenburg Gate as a backdrop, because they thought it would be sort of unduly unfair during an election year.

And so it's going to be an invited crowd of several thousand people this time. You know, when you read the press here and you hear what people have to say, they have a much more sober assessment of the President Obama compared to candidate Obama. Some of the euphoria has gone. But even said in his press conference today that there are things that you hope you can do as a candidate that you can't do as a president, because he has to deal with congress.

So people here are very concerned at the fact that Guantanamo Bay is still open as a detention center. He spoke about that in the -- to one of the questions, very first question actually from the German press. And said he still his goal to have it closed, but he can't do that on his own, because of objections from congress.

Also people here are talking about PRISM. This idea of snooping possibly on European citizens. And that concerned people. And also about drones, he was asked about why he's using drones to kill people overseas.

And he said, actually, let's be very clear here. He heard that in the German press there was called claims that maybe the U.S. was using German soil to direct some of these drones and he wanted to make it clear that wasn't true.

But you can see that's what the German press is focusing on and German people focusing on.

So a bit more of a maybe sober assessment of the President Obama, Kristie.

LU STOUT: Yeah, very different mood this time around. Jim Boulden joining us live from Berlin, thank you.

Now to Brazil now where the government is sending elite police officers and firefighters to beef up security in five states. And it's because of scenes like this, Sao Paulo city hall last night. A small pocket of protesters set fire to a TV broadcaster's van.

Now local media also showed images of vandalism and looting in the city center. And demonstrators say that they are angry about high taxes, corruption, and how much the country is spending to host the upcoming World Cup.

But elsewhere in the city on Tuesday, the atmosphere was more peaceful, even festive. Demonstrators have called for some time out today, but more protests are planned for Thursday.

Now Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff says that he government is, quote, "committed to social transformation."

Now Shasta Darlington joins us now live from Sao Paulo. And Shasta, Brazil is adding more force to deal with the protests. Tell us the latest.

SHASTA DARLINGTON, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: That's right, Kristie. It's really been a bit of a seesaw here. One day, all of Brazil really complaining about the use of police violence against these protesters. And then we get scenes like last night, the police almost purposefully taking a backseat to show the world, OK, you don't want us in there, this is what happens.

But it really did start peacefully. And as you, yourself said, the vast majority of the marchers here in Sao Paulo were marching down the main avenue in a very festive atmosphere. Watch this.


DARLINGTON: Brazilians back on the streets Tuesday night. Thousands of protesters packed into the main square in downtown Sao Paulo, the sixth demonstration in less than two weeks.

(on camera): This is just getting started. People are arriving. This is just like other nights. The very beginning, everyone is chanting, singing and really getting excited.

(voice-over): What started as a student protest over higher bus fares has snowballed with Brazilians saying they're fed up with the high cost of living and high taxes while the government spends billions on lavish sporting events.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We are here for the corruption, for the money that they spend on the World Cup construction, the stadiums, the money that they could have spent on education, on hospitals.

DARLINGTON: Tuesday's protest comes a day after some 200,000 people took to the streets across the country. While Sao Paulo's massive demo Monday night was largely peaceful, in Rio de Janeiro, protesters threw Molotov cocktails and in Brasilia they stormed onto the roof of congress.

Tuesday, Sao Paulo yet again the center of attention.

(on camera): We're an hour into the demonstration and people are starting to move. We never know where they're going to go. We just have to follow along and see where this march takes us.

(voice-over): A large group of marchers head to the mayor's office and try to storm it. They end up setting fire to a car. There was also looting.

For the first time since the protests started, President Dilma Rousseff spoke on national television.

DILMA ROUSSEFF, PRESIDENT OF BRAZIL (through translator): The magnitude of the demonstrations yesterday proved the energy of our democracy.

DARLINGTON: She also said their demands were being heard.

But back on the streets, demonstrators say they want proof, starting with lower bus fares.


DARLINGTON: Now, the real problem here, Kristie, are those images of people looting, setting a car on fire. These are the kinds of images that are going to alienate so many of the Brazilians who are beginning to support this movement. So we're really going to have to see going forward how people feel about this. Also the idea of sending in the -- basically, the national guard to these World Cup cities where the Confederation's Cup is currently being played, that is putting people off.

So we may see this losing a bit of steam, or we may even see protesters trying to get out on the street and prove that this is a peaceful movement.

LU STOUT: Yeah. And that's something to watch for when the protests pick up again on Thursday.

Shasta Darlington reporting live from Sao Paulo, thank you.

Now turning now to Turkey where protesters in Istanbul are changing tactics after nearly three weeks of anti-government demonstrations. Now dozens of protesters held a quiet vigil in Taksim Square, the epicenter of the movement.

And journalist Karl Penhaul is following the latest developments. He joins us now live from Istanbul. And Karl, plenty of people have been detained over the last few weeks. You are outside a courthouse, what is their status?


We've change tacks and we've brought you today outside one of Istanbul's main courthouses, absolutely massive building, one of the biggest in Europe I'm told, in fact. They've got plenty of space to deal with the detainees that have been taken in the course of these protests.

Today we understand from judicial sources that more than 100 detainees will be brought before the courts for the first part of the process. I doubt we're going to get any decisions or any convictions today, but this is where the legal ball starts rolling.

Now it seems, according to lawyers representing some of the detainees, that most are going to be charged with violating Turkey's anti- demonstration laws. But there is a core of about 21 soccer fans, mostly members of the supporters club of the -- of one of Istanbul's local soccer teams -- and they, we're told by their lawyers, are being charged with being members of organized crime groups.

Now this goes to the core of what Prime Minister Erdogan has been calling these protesters, or some of these protesters all along. He describes some of them as terrorists. And the Basiktas football club is certainly a well organized club with a very loyal fanbase. And some of these supporters have been taking a role front and center in these protests.

And it seems now that the hammer could be coming down on them, because lawyers say that if a protester is convicted of charges of organized crime, they could spend up to the next 20 years in jail.

Now that surely will be a disincentive to other protesters. That said, looking around Istanbul as we were last night, this protest is far from over, because although there are very few people making their way still into Taksim Square, protesters have gone back to their own neighborhoods. And what they're doing now is organizing forums so they will continue discussing what the problems are and how they can take their continuing protest to the government to try and get some change -- Kristie.

LU STOUT: Turkey's courts playing a major role in this unfolding story there in Turkey.

In the last few days, Karl, I've seen these reports of Turkish police conducting raids across the country in major cities. So will the number of people detained, will that dramatically increase in the coming days?

PENHAUL: It is very difficult, and this is why I haven't spoken to you about numbers just yet, it is very difficult to get an absolute handle on how many people have been detained. For example, talking to the Istanbul Bar Association, they say that 400 more than -- just over 400 -- 411 people have been formally detained, they say. Now when they say formally detained, they've got 411 names that are stated to be within the legal process.

That said, they say that they have received calls from more than 2,000 families saying family members have been detained. So the Bar Association is saying there are at least 600 people only here in Istanbul that aren't within the legal system, or haven't appeared in courts yet, but have been detained.

The government isn't giving us figures right now on how many people they say they've officially detained or how many people may be awaiting formal processing in the cells. So a very fluid picture right now, but it seems, according to the Bar Association, that only in Istanbul there could be in excess of 2,000 people detained in relation to these protests.

It must be said, however, that members of the Bar Association have also been active in the protest themselves. We don't have any independent word on how many detainees there are right now, Kristie.

LU STOUT: Well, Karl, thank you for getting us this angle on the story, a very important one. Karl Penhaul joining us live from Istanbul, thank you.

Now you're watching News Stream. And still ahead, 17 years after TWA flight 800 exploded over the Atlantic Ocean, the producers of a new documentary hope investigators will reopen the investigation.

And take a look at this vehicle. Wow, monsoon rains flooding parts of India, sweeping cars, land and lives away.

And there is apparently friction over Washington's decision to hold peace talks with the Taliban. We'll bring you the latest on the fallout and what could be at stake.


LU STOUT: Welcome back.

Now it has been 17 years since TWA flight 800 exploded and crashed into the Atlantic Ocean. And next month on the anniversary of that disaster, a new documentary will be released. Now its producers hope that the information they have uncovered will push authorities to open their investigation.

Rene Marsh has the story.


RENE MARSH, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): It was a crash as horrific as it was mysterious. TWA Flight 800 explodes in mid-air 1996 off the coast of Long Island.

UNIDENTIFIED PILOT: It blew up in the air and then we saw two fireballs around it.

MARSH: All 230 on board the 747 dead. The cause after a 4-year 17,000- page NTSB investigation a spark from faulty wiring leading to the center fuel tank, but now six retired members of the original investigation team are breaking their silence. In a new documentary, they are challenging the NTSB's findings and calling for the investigation to be reopened.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I was convinced that the part had been damaged by a high explosion because of the entrance hole and the exit hole.

MARSH: These former investigators whose credentials range from the NTSB, TWA, Airline Pilots Union, and forensic experts now claim that radar and forensic evidence shows the wiring was not the cause of the crash.

(on camera): What would your analysis have been?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The primary conclusion was the explosive forces came from outside the airplane, not the center fuel tank.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Would that statement have been in your analysis?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: If I got the right one.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The agenda was that this is an accident. Make it so.

MARSH: These investigators say that the evidence they examined proves that one or more explosions outside the aircraft caused the crash. However, they don't speculate about the source of the explosions. Among the theories considered and rejected by the NTSB at the time was that a missile was responsible.

The filmmakers plan to petition the NTSB to reopen the investigation. In a statement the NTSB left that possibility open if new evidence is uncovered saying investigators and staff spent an enormous amount of time reviewing, documenting and analyzing facts and data, while the NTSB rarely re-investigates issues that have already been examined, our investigations are never closed and we can review any new information not previously considered by the board.


LU STOUT: And that was Rene Marsh reporting.

You're watching News Stream. And up next, we'll take a look at the NBA finals where there was a dramatic finish to game 6 between Miami Heat and San Antonio Spurs. More on that after the break.


LU STOUT: Coming to you live from Hong Kong, you're back watching News Stream.

Now monsoon rains in India have triggered deadly landslides, displaced 70,000 people, and we continue to get incredible video showing the power of the rising water there. Let's get more now with Mari Ramos, she joins us from the world weather center -- Mari.

MARI RAMOS, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Kristie, the monsoon arriving a full two weeks ahead of schedule caught thousands of people by surprise, millions even, across northern portions of India, trapping like you said, thousands of people on the roadways, many of them going to holy sites across the north.

Look at these images right over here, just amazing to see this line of people trekking through the Himalayas, you know, after the rain because they were trapped by the flood waters. The roads in many cases completely washed away.

Let's go ahead and look at the pictures. It's just really amazing when you see these cars just toppled over because the roadway is pretty much gone. The rivers just huge.

This is different than the flooding we had in Europe where it was slow moving, slow rising water, people had time to get away. In this case, it's rain that came very heavily in this particular area. It caught people by surprise. And the water -- flash flooding -- it went up very, very quickly and then down very quickly as well. The rivers rose rapidly and that is why we have seen so much destruction.

And the fear is that the death toll will continue to rise even though the rain has stopped and many of the rivers are starting to go down, the scope of the destruction is just now becoming more evident, as you can see, from many of these images. Towns and villages completely destroyed by the power of the water.

If you come back over here to the weather map, I want to show you very quickly areas to the north, including New Delhi, almost had no rainfall yesterday. Most of the rain has shifted now back over toward the east. Getting some reports of flooding in this area as well. And there is also a concern there.

I want to show you some of the rainfall totals that we've had from the last 24 hours and the -- those areas in the north, they were done again getting between Sunday and Monday, look at that, over half a meter of water compared to their monthly average of only 200. But big cities like New Delhi and also Mumbai have had more than their fair share of rainfall already.

Let's go ahead and head south and talk about rain here across southeastern portions of Asia, particularly the Philippines. You guys are getting a double whammy. You have two storms that are flanking you on either side. Iba had 189 millimeters of rain, Manila over a 100 millimeters of rain in the last couple of days. That has been enough to cause some significant flooding across those regions.

One is the tropical storm to the north, the other one is -- we can call it a tropical cyclone in the making. We'll have to see what happens.

There's a high chance that this could actually develop into something a bit more organized, so we're monitoring it closely. The combination of those two elements are bringing you some very heavy rain here over Luzon.

Look at this, Kristie, the red right there, major population centers here in Luzon, including Manila, could get up to 25 centimeters of additional rainfall in the next couple of days. So definitely the threat for flooding remains.

Back to you.

LU STOUT: All right, Mari, thank you for that alert there for our viewers tuning in from the Philippines. Mari Ramos there, thank you.

Now LeBron James said that he came to the Miami Heat to win titles, but it hasn't been easy. The Heat trailed the San Antonio Spurs by 3-2 to in the NBA finals. And the Spurs were just moments away from clinching the title in game 6 when this happened.

Trailing by three points, the Miami Heat get the ball to Ray Allen and he sends the game to over-time. And the Heat would go on to seal a very close win and tie the NBA finals at three games apiece.

Now game 6 has been hailed as one of the most exciting games in NBA finals history. Let's get more now. Andy Scholes joins me live now from CNN Center. And Andy, just where does this rank among the most exciting championship games?

ANDY SCHOLES, CNN SPORTS CORRESPONDENT: You know, Kristie, it's got to be right up there with some of the best we've ever seen. You know, as you said the Spurs, they were just seconds away from winning their fifth ever NBA championship. Heat fans were actually leaving the arena to go home to beat traffic because the Heat, they were down five with under 30 seconds to go. But then, as you saw, LeBron James hit a very clutch three pointer for the Heat. That got them back within two.

Then when they were down three -- this is the LeBron three I was talking about.

Then when they were down three, Ray Allen hit one of the best three pointers you'll ever see in the NBA finals. That sent the game into overtime. And in the extra period, as you said, the Heat were able to outlast the Spurs and get this win. And it saved their season. They will now get a chance to play in that winner take all game 7.

And even LeBron James after the game said this is one of the best games he'd ever been a part of.


LEBRON JAMES, MIAMI HEAT FORWARD: That was by far the best game I've ever been a part of. The ups and downs, the roller coaster, the emotions good and bad throughout the whole game. To be a part of something like this is something you would never be able to recreate once you're done playing a game. And I'm blessed to be a part of something like this.


SCHOLES. Yeah, and there you go. LeBron saying it right there.

Now the winner take all game 7 tomorrow night. And it's going to be in Miami once again -- Kristie.

LU STOUT: Let's talk more about LeBron. I mean, the Heat, they were built to win. But they were seconds away from losing in the finals for the second time in three years. So what would losing do to the legacy of LeBron James?

SCHOLES: Well, it was -- as of now, it would crush his legacy. You know, he came to Miami and in his press conference, or in his big hoopla with Dwayne Wade and Chris Bosh, he said they weren't going to win not one, not two, not three, not four championships. And this would be his third straight year getting to the NBA Finals. And if he lost this one he'd be just 1-3 in his career in the NBA finals.

You know, the players he's compared to -- Kobe Bryant. He lost two, but he's also won five. And he's also compared to Michael Jordan. Michael Jordan a perfect 6-0.

So if LeBron were to lose this one and go 1-3 in his first four trips to the NBA Finals, that would definitely hurt his legacy going forward.

LU STOUT: All right, Andy, and from the gut who is going to win?

SCHOLES: Well, I go with the Miami Heat. You know, there's only been five game sevens in the NBA Finals in the last 35 years. And in all five of those, the home team has won every single one of the games. And you've got to think it's going to be hard for the Spurs to bounce back in this game seven after such a devastating loss in game six.

LU STOUT: Yeah, hard to imagine.

Andy Scholes there joining us live from CNN Center. Thank you.

Now the Afghan President lashes out as U.S. officials are set to be preparing for talks with the Taliban. We've got the details next on News Stream.

And as the war rages in Syria, the U.S. and Jordan conduct a joint military exercise. We'll take you to the drill.


LU STOUT: I'm Kristie Lu Stout in Hong Kong. You're watching News Stream. And these are your world headlines.

Now U.S. President Barack Obama has defended his government surveillance programs. At a news conference in Berlin earlier, he said the programs have struck a, quote, appropriate balance between civil liberties and security.

Now Mr. Obama is due to deliver a major speech at Brandenburg Gate in about half hours time. He is expected to call for a reduction in nuclear warheads by the U.S. and Russia.

Now Islamist militants have stormed the UN headquarters in Somalia. al Shabaab has claimed responsibility for attacking the compound in the capital Mogadishu. A suicide bomber detonated himself at a gate before other attackers entered the compound. And right now, it's emerging that the compound has been secured and is in the hands of African Union troops.

Now Japanese officials are concerned that storage tanks at the stricken Fukushima nuclear power plant may be leaking contaminated water. This after Tokyo Electric Power said it detected high levels of radioactive strontium in ground water at the plant. This comes two years after Japan's reactor meltdowns.

And the Taliban are claiming responsibility for a deadly rocket attack in Afghanistan. A Pentagon official says four Americans were killed in the attack on Bagram Air Base outside Kabul on Tuesday. And the attack came as NATO led troops formally handed over their security responsibilities to Afghan forces.

And just a day after that handover, Afghanistan has suspended security talks with the United States and today announced a government group will no longer take part in talks with the Taliban. That as U.S. officials prepared to meet with the Taliban in Qatar.

And our senior international correspondent Nic Robertson has covered the Taliban and Afghanistan extensively. He joins me now.

And first, let's talk about that announcement of the suspension of security talks between Kabul and Washington. What happened there?

NIC ROBERTSON, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: It seems that President Karzai is upset at the Taliban and the language that they used opening their office in Qatar. They used the language, this is the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan, not the Islamic Republic as Afghanistan is called, that they flew their flag.

But subsequent to that initial sort of reporting of his -- President Karzai's specific anger, we've now heard a statement from the president's office saying it's not just him, it's other political representatives and his high peace council whom he has now pulled from going to those peace talks in Qatar with the Taliban, with U.S. representatives that were expected tomorrow.

And the blame, they're saying, that the language in the Taliban statement said that they were continuing fighting. That's what we're looking at right now.

LU STOUT: Yeah, these talks tomorrow in Qatar, the first direct talks between the Taliban and U.S. officials. Hamid Karzai out of the picture. What kind of impact will that have on the talks?

ROBERTSON: Everyone has said that -- President Obama said expect bumps along the way. People behind this process have said, look, this is very slow. We're kind of lucky to get to this point. So I think everybody is really politically expecting to get these bumps.

And let's face it, in the past President Karzai has been very upset when these talks almost came to pass before. He's frustrated because the Pakistanis have a hand and a roll in these talks. He detests that notion. So we're seeing -- we're seeing the same old strains and stressed play out.

It's not over by a long shot, but this is going to slow it down. And let's face it, there's a year-and-a-half for this to be done before the U.S. has to pull out.

And those talks we're talking about between Karzai and the Americans, this is all about what happens after all the U.S. troops pull out. This is important stuff. And this is delaying it. It's not helpful.

LU STOUT: Now let's talk about these direct talks between at least the U.S. and the Taliban. So for Qatar tomorrow, what is on the table? What are the key demands?

ROBERTSON: Well, the United States wants the Taliban to disavow any connection to al Qaeda. And they sort of did that in their wording yesterday by saying that they are a nationalist organization and their interest is in Afghanistan and they won't let somebody use Afghanistan to attack the rest of the world, i.e. al Qaeda, that's what they mean.

And the Taliban, from their point of view, want all foreign troops out, which kind of comes as no surprise yesterday that when NATO hands over control of security in Afghanistan to Afghan forces, almost hours later the Taliban are announcing that they're opening the office, prepared to go into talks.

There's a real sort of level of sequencing going on here.

But the crux of all of this is can the United States work out a deal with the Taliban so that they can keep U.S. forces bases operating beyond 2014. And of course it's important to do this with President Karzai, too. Without him, how can it work?

LU STOUT: OK. It is important and significant that the Taliban is willing to talk. But still there is this insurgency going on in Afghanistan, another threat, the Haqqani Network. How much of a threat do they pose, especially now that Afghan forces are responsible for their own security now?

ROBERTSON: I was talking just a few minutes ago to somebody who is quite close to this process of talks right now. He feels that the political representation of the Taliban in Qatar at the moment has really the hand of Pakistan behind it. And there's a lot of field commanders for the Taliban in Afghanistan who are upset about this, and specifically who did he suspect would try to spoil this -- any talks on the ground? That would be the Haqqani Network with a likely agenda of increasing attacks around the Kabul area, possibly the attack that was witnessed last night.

We don't know it was the Haqqani Network, but potentially they could be one of the biggest spoilers here.

LU STOUT: All right, Nic Robertson, your analysis, insight always, always appreciated. Thank you so much for that.

Now, amid worries that Syria's conflict could spill over to its neighbors, the U.S. and other forces are holding military exercises in Jordan. Now, CNN's Ben Wedeman now on the maneuvers and the mounting concern.


BEN WEDEMAN, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: U.S. Marines arrive in Jordan for this year's Eager Lion exercises involving 4,500 U.S. military personnel, 3,000 Jordanians and 500 from other countries.

The exercises taking place against the backdrop of growing concern over the war in Syria. The Eager Lion, however, is not in search of prey insists Major General Robert Catalanotti, commander of U.S. forces taking part in the exercise.

MAJ. GEN. ROBERT CATALANOTTI, U.S. ARMY: We have not in this exercise identified any adversary. We have looked at it as any country could be an adversary and to be prepared for contingency planning.

WEDEMAN: These contingencies include a massive influx of even more refugees, chemical attacks and urban unrest. American F-16 fighters jets and PATRIOT missile batteries are part of the exercise, and at Jordan's request will remain behind.

But why no mention of Syria?

AMER AL SABAILEH, ANALYST: Because everybody knows that saying the word Syria now has a price, and especially Jordan that knows perfectly that Jordan will be the first to pay the price.

WEDEMAN: The real worry, the violence in Syria could spark something much bigger.

AL SABAILEH: We are talking about a new war that might be a real bloody war. And it might have also an expansion in the whole region and elsewhere.

WEDEMAN: King Abdullah, speaking at a graduation ceremony at a military academy, did mention Syria and hinted Jordan is worried.

"If the world doesn't move in this regard, as it should," he said, "or if this becomes a threat to our country, we are able at any moment to take measures to protect our country and its people's interests."

Doud Ansara (ph) did a brisk business in textiles from Syria for more than 30 years. Now, he's just selling off old stock. He wishes for better days, but leaves it up to the king to try to steer Jordan through this latest crisis.

"Abdullah is our king and he's responsible for all that," Doud (ph) tells me. "Whatever he decides, we're behind him."

Hoping Jordan will weather this storm as it has so many others before with a bit of help from its friends.

Ben Wedeman, CNN, Amman.


LU STOUT: Now CNN's Freedom Project has been working to bring awareness to the issue of modern day slavery. In the U.S. state of Ohio, federal prosecutors say a woman and her daughter were held here in this apartment for more than a year. An investigation is underway, but already authorities say that they have evidence that the pair was forced to perform manual labor under the threat of dogs and snakes. Now people have charged at least three with forced labor.

And Pamela Brown is following the story. She joins me now live from Ashton, Ohio, that's northeast of Columbus. And Pamela, just tell us how were these two women, how were they discovered and how were they eventually freed?

PAMELA BROWN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, this was all uncovered after a simple shoplifting incident back in October. Authorities say the suspects preyed on this mother's vulnerability, used her child against her as a way to use her as their personal slave.


BROWN: Inside this house, an Ohio woman and her child deprived of their freedom, dignity, and basic needs for a year and a half according to federal authorities.

STEVE DETTELBACH, U.S. ATTORNEY FOR NORTHERN DISTRICT OF OHIO: These individuals deprived this woman and her child of the most fundamental of American rights, freedom. This case is nothing less than a case of modern day slavery.

BROWN: And 26-year-old Jordie Callahan, his girlfriend, 31-year-old Jessica Hunt, and their friend Daniel Brown all charged with imprisoning a mentally disabled woman only identified as Essie and her child. Prosecutors say Essie was forced to do household chores and threatened with a pit bulls and a python. And according to a law enforcement source, she and her daughter were sometimes forced to eat dog food.

DETTELBACH: We're talking about people who were locked in rooms, forced to work all the time, people who were threatened and beaten and injured.

BROWN: According to court documents, Essie was also questioned at gunpoint and one of her alleged captors took out his knife and threatened to cut her finger off. Medical records show Essie visited the emergency room at least three times between 2011 and 2012 with a variety of injuries. Ashland police were tipped off after Essie was arrested for trying to steal a candy bar. When police showed up at the home Callahan allegedly showed the video of Essie beating her daughter but Essie says she was forced to do so on Callahan and hunt. On Piers Morgan's show Callahan's mother denies the allegations.

BECKY: The girl that supposedly hit them went when she wanted to go, whenever she wanted to go.

BROWN: This comes on the heels of another disturbing case in nearby Cleveland, the shocking rescue of three women held for a decade by Ariel Castro, both of these cases of alleged abuse stunning their neighbors, left wondering how this could be happening in their backyards.


BROWN: And according to a law enforcement source I spoke with, Essie and her daughter apparently knew the suspects before they were held captive. Authorities say a possible motive here were the government benefits that Essie collected as part of her disability.

Now there's still a lot of ongoing developments in this story. Authorities that we spoke with said expect more charges and possible more arrests in this case.

Back to you.

LU STOUT: You know, Pamela, it is such a sickening story. But thank goodness the mother and her daughter are now out of there and they're safe. Pamela Brown joining us live from Ohio. Thank you.

Now CNN's Freedom Project is committed to bringing you stories on the fight against modern-day slavery. And you can go online for more, including interviews, documentaries, and concrete ways that you can make a difference.

Now a flurry of diplomatic efforts are going on to try to ease tensions on the Korean peninsula. The UN secretary general Ban Ki-moon is set to discuss the issue with China's leaders this week. In Beijing today, North Korea's first vice foreign minister Kim Kye-gwan and his Chinese counterpart co-chaired what was called a strategic dialogue between their ministries.

Now Kim, who is also Pyongyang's top nuclear negotiator, also met China's special envoy for Korean Peninsula affairs.

Now China is North Korea's main ally and has come under increasing international pressure to persuade Pyongyang to stop its nuclear program. And I discussed the relationship between the countries with an expert panel for this month's On China.

Take a look.


BARBARA DEMICK, BEIJING BUREAU CHIEF, L.A. TIMES: The Chinese Communist Party I think thinks of North Korea as this, you know, small state that's in its own image, the structure of the North Korea government is very similar to the Chinese government. And in a way, it's the pure communist state. It's the undiluted brand of communism. And there's a lot in the China's founding mythology about how China intervened on behalf of the North Koreans in the Korean war and together they fought off the imperialists.

So it's almost sentimental at the party level. And North Korea's foreign relations are handled directly by the communist party. The foreign ministry is almost cut out. And it's just really hard on a psychologically for them to dump North Korea.

STEPHANIE KLEIN-ALBRANDT, CHINA ADVISER OF INTERNAITONAL CRISIS GROUP: I would go further with that, with the child analogy and say that they treat North Korea a bit like a wayward child. In a way, you want to be the one to punish your child, but you're not going to turn them over to the police.

ZHU FENG, PROF. OF INTL. RELATIONS, PEKINS UNIVERSITY: If China undercuts trade and stops the flow of fuel, I don't think they can stand for that. But the problem is I think that North Korea is very stubbornly thinking China will never just leave them alone, because China needs North Korea to be some sort of counterweight vis-a-vis the U.S. some sort of strategic threat to China.


LU STOUT: Good analysis all around. You can catch the full episode on China Saturday 12:30 pm Hong Kong time. You can also get much more special section of our website here, just go to

Now just ahead on News Stream, could the dominance of tech giants like Facebook and Google be making it easier for authorities to watch your activities online? Find out when we fast forward after the break.


LU STOUT: Welcome back.

And time now for News Stream fast forward. And this week, we're exploring how easy it is for authorities to wire tap the web. Now leaked documents said to be from the U.S. National Security Agency's PRISM program have brought the issue of government surveillance into focus. But have the technologies that make it easier for us to navigate online also made it easier for us to be spied on?

Now the New Yorker looks at that question in an article that was posted online this week. It was written by Tim Wu and edited by our regular contributor's Nicholas Thompson. He joins us live from our New York bureau.

And Nick, there in the U.S., the tech and telecom diet, it is dominated by basically Google, Facebook, and four phone companies. I mean, what does that mean for the U.S. government surveillance program?

NICK THOMPSON, NEWYORKER.COM: It means it's a lot easier for the U.S. government to survey us, because if we only use one social networking site, or if we only use one search engine, it means it's easier physically for the government to tap into our communications, but more important it means that the government has very close relations with these giant companies.

The government has lots of reasons it has to deal with Apple, with Facebook, with Google, with the other big players. The other big players need the government approval. They need it to approve mergers, for example. They need it to be on their side on anti-trust investigations. They have 1,000 issues pending before the government. So when the government says, and you know what, we need to tap into your serves in a certain way they're more likely to say yes.

What happens historically, and what Tim Wu argues so well in this piece, is that as large companies develop, as monopolies develop in telecom, they become almost arms of the government and that makes it much easier for the government to read our communications.

LU STOUT: Yeah, and this is such an interesting argument. Is it starting a debate there in the U.S. for more competition and more players to come onto the scene and challenge Facebook, Google, et cetera?

THOMPSON: No. It hasn't done that yet. We'll see. People haven't been making this argument yet. It's not something that's been really said during this whole NSA debate. But I do think it's a very compelling argument. And I think it shows there is a lot of problems with consolidation. And we do talk about it in the phone industry here. We talk about the problem of having only four telephone companies. Raises price. It makes it harder on consumers. The government has mostly allowed this consolidation to happen. So there is some communication there, some discussion about the need to expand it and make the markets more competitive. We'll see if this adds a little extra weight to that argument.

LU STOUT: And so what do we do in the meantime? What can we do as internet users, telco customers, to hide our data from especially internet snoops? Do you have any tips for us?

THOMPSON: Well, you know, at the New Yorker we built something called Strong Box which is sort of the best encryption we could possibly imagine, which is you use Tor so the information you send is totally split apart. Then it's PGP encrypted. And then we read it on a computer -- or we decrypt it and read it on a computer that's not connected to the internet.

So that's sort of maximum protection, but it's really inconvenient and it takes a long time. So if you want to send somebody -- you know, send somebody a secret document you could use Strong Box.

If you're just a civilian and you want a sense of privacy, PGP is a very good step. You know, Edward Snowden in his interview said that works.

You can use smaller services, right, you don't have to use Gmail. You can use Hush Mail or you can use something else. Who knows exactly what the government is getting from the smaller companies, but probably their relationship is less tight.

You can talk on the phone. People know -- you know, the government knows when you make the phone call. They know the number you called. They don't know what you say. So there are all kinds of things you can do to protect your communications if you wanted to be secure.

LU STOUT: Wow, another thing to add to the to-do list: encryption. Nick Thompson joining us live. Nick Thompson, of course, of the Thank you. We'll see you again next week.

THOMPSON: Thanks, Kristie.

LU STOUT: Now you're watching News Stream. And up next, no politics, no national bias, no religion, only music. The Idol series has come to the Arab World. And we'll tell you how the program is uniting the competition and its fans.


LU STOUT: Welcome back.

Now more than 10 years ago, aspiring singer, they began competing on a new kind of TV talent show. First, there was Pop Idol in the UK. That led to a U.S. version American Idol which has launched a number of careers. And now many spinoffs later, the international sensation has reached the Arab world.

Mohammed Jamjoom brings us the reality behind the screen.


MOHAMMED JAMJOOM, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: The theme is the same, the concept no different, but in the Arab world, as divided as ever, Idol is more than just a competition.

AHMAD JAMAL, EGYPTIAN CONTESTANT: You should vote for only for music not for nationality, not for religion, not for political issues.

JAMJOOM: Arab Idol, currently in its second season, isn't simply a ratings juggernaut, it's also the feel-good story of the year.

(on camera): At a time when the Middle East is so concerned with conflicts growing and sectarianism increasing, this show has done the near impossible: it's given the region something to smile about.

(voice-over): Take Farah Youssef, she almost didn't make it out of Syria. Her car was caught in the middle of a shootout when driving from Damascus to audition. The pressure of performing is nothing compared to how overcome she is when thinking about the civil war back home.

FARAH YOUSSEF, SYRIAN CONTESTANT: I see all that stuff happening in my country, so it's kind of very just -- very (inaudible). That's -- oh my gosh. Sorry. There are people, they have no future. I thank my god that I'm here. I'm building myself. I'm trying to be good. I'm trying to make the people love each other again.

JAMJOOM: And then there's fan favorite Mohammed Asaf (ph). Making the difficult journey out of Gaza, he barely made it to the tryouts in Cairo.

"There was a man who gave me his number," says Mohammed (ph), "who sacrificed his place for my sake when he heard my voice. I still ask myself how all this happened."

On Arab Idol, contestants, no matter their religious or cultural background, sing songs from all over the region.

"We're sending a message and unifying the Arab people," says Ziad. "A message of happiness and peace."

A respite for troubled times. Here, no extremism, just excellence; no misery, just music.

Mohammed Jamjoom, CNN, Beirut.


LU STOUT: A very uplifting story.

And before we go, we just want to correct an error that we made just a few minutes ago. We brought you a story about the talks between Chinese and North Korean officials today, but showed you pictures of an older meeting between different officials. It was unintentional. And we apologize for the mistake.

And that is News Stream. And we leave you with live pictures at the Brandenburg Gate in Germany where a crowd is gathering to hear U.S. President Barack Obama speak in a few minutes. And we will bring you that speech live when it happens. Stick around.