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AROUND THE WORLD

Escaped Python Kills Sleeping Boys; Americans Told to Get Out of Yemen; SABRE System Now Operational; New Irani President Ready for Negotiations; Lloyd's of London Offering Reward for Jewels; A Different Ball Game in Latin America;

Aired August 6, 2013 - 12:00   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


SUZANNE MALVEAUX, CNN ANCHOR: A giant snake about 100 pounds attacks two small boys at a sleepover. Should these dangerous reptiles be allowed as pets?

MICHAEL HOLMES, CNN ANCHOR: Plus, major flight delays around the world. It wasn't the weather or security this time. It was a computer glitch.

MALVEAUX: And the State Department is telling Americans in Yemen to get out. We're going to bring you the very latest on the terror threats.

Welcome to AROUND THE WORLD. I'm Suzanne Malveaux.

HOLMES: And I'm Michael Holmes. Thanks for your company.

It is a story that is enough to terrify any parent. You have two young boys away from home at a sleepover. This is in the small Canadian town of Campbellton in New Brunswick.

MALVEAUX: This could terrify anybody. I mean both of these young boys were killed in their sleep and the killer, this is a 100-pound python escaped its cage. It was in a zoo - well, not a zoo but a pet store right below.

HOLMES: A pet store, yes, yes.

MALVEAUX: It happened less than 100 miles from the U.S. border. It could have happened right here, though. People keep these things.

HOLMES: Absolutely. We've got Jack Hanna on the line, director emeritus of the Columbus Zoo and, of course, well-known host of Jack Hanna's "Into the Wild."

Jack, let's start off with what might have happened here. You know, that snake had to get from the store downstairs, upstairs into a bedroom, apparently through the ventilation. How uncommon must that have been?

JACK HANNA, DIRECTOR EMERITUS, COLUMBUS ZOO (via telephone): Well, it's obviously uncommon, but pythons can do -- snakes in general, when it comes to just being out there, can do just about anything. That didn't surprise me that a snake could get out of something down there, underneath there, and only one man ever held the snake, so obviously it was in a pretty wild state but knew the guy that - actually knew the guy. He the only one that held him -- handled him. So the snake got loose and these snakes can find their way out of anything basically. It went up through the ceiling, maybe the hole in the air conditioning vent, I don't know, or somewhere like that, and then just popped out and it was slithering down maybe the ceilings, those little soft ceilings. From what it sounds like, this little report I read, just that weight just fell through on top of them.

But what's confusing here is when one of these snakes, a python of that size, does make that first initial grab, let's put it that way to - I don't want to get into detail here. When he gets that grab, it immediately circles its prey. Do you follow me? Whether it grabs the leg, the - whatever part of the body, it will grab first and then circle around that -- whatever that is, animal or person. And every time you breathe -- take a little breathe right now. Take just a teeny little breathe. A millisecond breathe. Take that. And that snake's body will constrict immediately. So let's say you stopped. All of a sudden you breathe again just a little bit. He - in other words, he continues to do that. They quick -- quicker than a blink of an eye he can squeeze his body, and that's how the animal usually -- whatever that is, succumbs to what happened to these boys.

But what's confusing, if he fell, then why didn't (ph) they wake up? Number two, if he had one, what happened to the other one because a snake very rarely, it takes a while for the animal to let go, you know, release that one person, I guess, and go after the other one, unless both were got at one time and he wrapped his body around both of them, which, to me, is almost inconceivable.

MALVEAUX: And, Jack, explain this to us. Why would it be that somebody would have this kind of a large snake, even if it's in a pet shop, they were going to sell it to somebody? I mean that seems really unbelievable to a lot of us that this kind of snake would be something that someone would own.

HANNA: Yes. Here's this thing. I don't know myself if it was for sale. Some of the pet shops, you know, people that have these reptiles, have them there to either breed or have them there for show and don't sell them. I don't know - I couldn't say if he was or wasn't selling the animal.

The thing is, you know, people are fascinated by snakes. That's number one. Number two, snakes do have a bad rap. Snakes are a living creature like any other animal. However, let me repeat, a lot of people that get snakes for (ph) the youngsters, are a little three and foot pythons. And, by the way, in the state of Ohio, we have pretty strict rules - real strict rules if you have a python. Other reptiles, they are much different. (INAUDIBLE). That's different.

But, you know, when a snake gets this size, it's just become, as you well know, that people get tired of it, maybe it gets older - I mean, you know, gets bigger. And as that happens? What happens do you think, like in Florida, these warmer snakes - or states, they put the snake out there. Oh, this little snake will be OK. Well, look at the Everglades right now. They're consuming. There could be 10,000, 100,000. They don't even know how many are in the Everglades. It's not a matter that they go out and get people, by the way. Yes, this is an incredible incident up there, but I'm just saying, in the Everglade situation -

MALVEAUX: Yes.

HANNA: It's the eco system and the environment, these snakes could wreck. So obviously there's going to be - there already is.

MALVEAUX: Yes.

HANNA: Ohio, because of a terrible thing that happened two years ago that I was involved with. Passed some very stringent laws that were fair to everybody, and especially the safety of mankind in Ohio. But obviously what's going to happen as a result of this in Canada maybe is that, you know, they might not be able to get the pythons, maybe some snakes can be bought. But when snakes get to be - like the anaconda, you're talking these snakes can get to be 30 feet plus when they're full grown.

MALVEAUX: Yes.

HANNA: That's -- anybody can go down.

MALVEAUX: All right, Jack Hanna, thank you so much.

And, you know, Michael, there's still so many unanswered questions about this because he's absolutely right, you know, how did this -- how did it happen, you know?

HOLMES: And then two kids. That's the other thing.

MALVEAUX: Right.

HOLMES: That must be unusual. What a horrible story.

All right, we've got to move on now.

And the State Department has a message for Americans in Yemen, get out and get out now. This warning following two suspected U.S. drone strikes that actually killed four al Qaeda militants in Yemen.

MALVEAUX: That country is also at the center of concerns about a possible terrorist attack. Now, U.S. intelligence officials intercepted a message between the leader of al Qaeda and operatives in Yemen telling them to do something. So that is what they were so worried about, what that something is. Nick Paton Walsh, he is tracking developments. He is in Beirut, Lebanon.

And, Nick, first of all, intelligence about the possible terrorist attack suggested that the planning was in the final stages. What do we know about this attack? What have we learned?

NICK PATON WALSH, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, the media initial intelligence flurry about this focused it on being the previous Sunday that's just passed. Now that, obviously, left that (ph) and since it was a key day in the Muslim calendar leaving many to think that could have been some result of Islamic extremist fervor to strike on that particular day.

But something else has clearly occurred to warrant this U.S. diplomatic evacuation of non-essential staff, non-emergency staff, I should say, from San'a. I should point out too that U.S. travel advice for some months has been, if you're in Yemen, get out, don't go there. But there clearly was something today that prompted this airlift. I understand that maybe the secretary of state thought they had too many diplomatic staff in the region.

But, of course, people have to look at exactly what may have been the cause for this escalation. Something clearly after the chatter that led to the threat and warnings about Sunday that prompted 22 diplomat posts around the world to be closed. Now the focus is very much upon Yemen. Yemeni officials saying that a few al Qaeda operatives have perhaps moved into San'a at the moment. Fears perhaps that, as you say, that message to do something may be activating some kind of plot. But as far as exactly what the specifics are and how long this threat goes on for, people aren't sure, Suzanne.

HOLMES: It's surprising, Nick, that these two senior al Qaeda people were talking to each other. They must know they're being listened to. Is that an indication perhaps of better surveillance techniques or that they lapsed a little here?

WALSH: In many ways it is extraordinary. I mean the man who succeed Osama bin Laden, who lived in a secure compound in Abbottabad, in Pakistan without a mobile phone to keep himself away from American surveillance was clearly he was foolish enough or unaware of how great in advance American surveillance has taken on in the past few years that he send this message to his new deputy telling him to do something, so to speak.

So - and it's not as though the heads of al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, Nasir al-Wuhayshi (ph), would not have been under American surveillance too. So many questions as to how this significance error, obviously, by Zawahiri was made, Michael.

HOLMES: All right, Nick, thanks so much. Nick Paton Walsh there in Beirut.

You know, and it's interesting again - again, the franchises are the ones everyone's worried about, Yemen, Somalia. The orders coming from al Qaeda center, but that seemed to be fairly fractured.

And the other point too, it's interesting, look at what the disruption has been and by the threat of something happening. Nothing's happened yet and yet look at the disruption. So al Qaeda, in many ways, is winning that, you know?

MALVEAUX: And we don't even know how long that threat was going to last.

HOLMES: Yes.

MALVEAUX: I mean that could be -- it could be months.

HOLMES: It could be, yes.

MALVEAUX: The day has been a bit of a headache. This is for air travelers here. People around the world. The reservation system, this is used by hundreds of airlines broke down leading to a lot of delays. And Richard Quest, among other things our resident aviation expert, joining us here in Atlanta.

Good to see you, as always.

RICHARD QUEST, CNN AVIATION EXPERT: Good to see you.

HOLMES: Yes.

MALVEAUX: It's a headache. It's a pain. So how does this work?

QUEST: They are called the GDS, the Global Distribution Systems. And they are the backbone of the aviation and the travel and the hospitality industry. There are various ones that follow. Galileo (ph), the older ones. SABRE is the one we're talking about. SABRE is the big one and that's the one that failed overnight.

For several hours, there was a massive outage where by the airline announced it was. The SABRE announced it was out. And then a few hours later, a couple of hours later, announced that it was back online again.

But these systems are used by the airlines for reservations to passengers and its cost to deal with the bookings, which passengers are on which planes, the meals, the luggage, all the things between the passenger and the airline is wrapped up in these systems.

HOLMES: That's a perfect storm you're talking about there. When all that goes down, everything goes down.

QUEST: It does.

HOLMES: What does this say about the system, though?

QUEST: For what it does - I mean it's not the airlines and the way they operate the aircraft. They have their own systems. This is about the airlines and their passengers. And what do you do? You have to do it by hand. You have to do manual check in. You have to start looking at lists and working out which passengers and what seat. And that's why there was this enormous flow over effect as this went wrong.

MALVEAUX: And so what did it look like, the airports? I mean we've talked many times about like just, you know, horror stories on the planes themselves, the delays and all of that. Were people really inconvenienced and was it really kind of a pain?

QUEST: You knew you were going to get there eventually. But it, frankly, you would not want to be traveling on the day that the GDS goes down.

HOLMES: Exactly.

MALVEAUX: Well, thank God it's back.

HOLMES: Yes.

MALVEAUX: We appreciate it.

HOLMES: Good to have you in town, Richard.

MALVEAUX: All week, right?

QUEST: All week.

MALVEAUX: All week.

HOLMES: He'll be appearing here all week.

MALVEAUX: Yes, we'll get him back. Yes, we'll get him back.

QUEST: (INAUDIBLE).

HOLMES: Your - you will too. They take (ph) you. They like him, you know, around here.

All right, here's more of what we're working on for AROUND THE WORLD this hour.

MALVEAUX: Hired to kill when he was just 13 years old.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The first day I had to take somebody's life. That's a day I'm never going to be able to forget. After that, I had no life.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: But you kept on killing after that first time at that ranch?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I had to.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MALVEAUX: Two American teenagers described how they ended up as hit men for a Mexican cartel.

HOLMES: Plus, substances banned by Major League Baseball, perfectly legal in other countries. Ahead, we'll look at what happens when players train somewhere else and then come to play in the U.S.

MALVEAUX: And it was straight out of a movie thriller. $136 million worth of jewels snatched from a hotel in France. Well, we're going to tell you how much the insurance company is willing to pay to get them back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

HOLMES: Welcome back. Here are some of the stories making headlines around the world.

A little more than a month after Egypt's military removed the president, Mohamed Morsy, from power, a prominent U.S. senator now calling it a coup.

MALVEAUX: John McCain, he made that comment to reporters. This was just a short time ago in Cairo. Now, he and fellow Republican Senator Lindsey Graham, they're meeting today with Egypt's interim leaders and they are hoping to convince them to return Egypt to civilian rule.

HOLMES: McCain and Graham traveled to Cairo at the request of President Obama. The Obama administration, of course, well they have not called Morsy's overthrow a coup. Morsy was Egypt's first democratically elected president. His removal setting off huge protests in the streets of Cairo.

MALVEAUX: And while they're in Egypt, McCain and Graham also plan to meet with Morsy's party, the Muslim Brotherhood. Now, Egypt, as you know, a critical U.S. ally in the Middle East.

And Iran's new president says he is seriously determined now to resolve the dispute with the west over the country's nuclear program. That's significant.

HOLMES: It is. He's seen as a moderate. His name is Hassan Rouhani. He says he is ready for -- his words were "serious and substantive negotiations." But he does say that the U.S. must demonstrate good will and, again in his words, "not hide a secret agenda."

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

PRESIDENT HASSAN ROUHANI, IRAN: We are for negotiations and interactions. We are prepared, seriously and without wasting any time, to enter negotiations which are serious and substantive with the other side.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

HOLMES: Of course, now the real question, is this an olive branch? Is it an opening door? This is seen as a moderate. Or will it be more of the same? The Obama administration would have been very listening carefully.

MALVEAUX: Yeah, and, of course, it's the religious leader who really has the power in Iran.

HOLMES: Precisely.

MALVEAUX: We'll see.

HOLMES: Yeah, precisely.

MALVEAUX: It has all the ingredients like a movie, like a classic heist movie, really. You're talking about ..

HOLMES: I still say it was you. MALVEAUX: No, it wasn't.

HOLMES: I still say it was you.

MALVEAUX: No, I've got enough bling already.

Fancy hotel, this is in Cannes, France, thieves making off with $136 million worth of jewels belonging to a billionaire.

HOLMES: Yeah, so where are they? Lloyd's of London would like to know. They're the insurer and they're willing to pay to get them back.

Jim Boulden following the story from London for us. You know, $136 million, $1.3 million reward, I mean, that's not bad, I suppose. Why is it going up so quickly?

JIM BOULDEN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: It's not bad. As one person I talked to today said, it's a nice sort of retirement plan if you want to give that money. But remember the jewelry, of course, is worth a hell of a lot more money, isn't it?

An expert I was talking to earlier said, look, you know, sometimes insurers pay 20, 25 percent of the full value. secretly. You know, a lot of these deals are done very quietly. Many months later, they'll pay to get these jewels back.

But they're going to try this way first, this reward of $1.3 million, hoping it will spark some interest, especially now they are putting out photos of these jewels, very unique, very unusual jewels, so they're hoping it would be very hard to sell these.

Of course, many jewel thieves already have a buyer when they go into these places and steal something so valuable and so rare.

MALVEAUX: Yeah, so, Jim, does this kind of reward -- does it usually get any results?

BOULDEN: Yeah, I mean, most people think probably an inside job. It's not unusual that somebody would have inside knowledge what's happening.

But, believe it or not, unarmed guards in a hotel in an area where there were people walking around, $130 million worth of jewels, you would just think they would be a room locked away. There would be armed guards.

But I was told by somebody today, look, American hotels would have armed guards. In Europe, hotels, they don't like to have people with weapons, so the only person that seemed to have a weapon in that hotel that day, of course, was the thief.

HOLMES: It's kind of quaint in a way, isn't it?

MALVEAUX: They make it look easy.

HOLMES: Jim's right. In the U.S., they would have bazookas and AK- 47s, everything.

MALVEAUX: Come on.

HOLMES: Yeah, locked behind bulletproof glass. It's very quaint.

Thanks, Jim, Jim Boulden.

MALVEAUX: It's just like the movies. It's like a James Bond movie.

HOLMES: It is.

MALVEAUX: It's just fascinating. It's amazing it still happens.

HOLMES: I'm not going to give you up for $1.3 million.

MALVEAUX: I'm not big on the bling. It's all right.

Most of the 13 players suspended yesterday by Major League Baseball were born in Latin American countries, so in a minute, we're going to hear why big differences in the game could be contributing to the problems that some of the players are having here in the United States.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MALVEAUX: It's a fact that might go unnoticed even by many hardcore baseball fans, but this is interesting and it's something we're talking about. This is something interesting. Other than allegedly using banned drugs, most of the players who have actually been suspended recently are from Latin America.

HOLMES: That's right. It's something they share in common. Rafael now explains why this is significant when it comes to the use of PEDs, or performance-enhancing drugs.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

RAFAEL ROMO, CNN SENIOR LATIN AFFAIRS EDITOR: At this baseball academy in Boca Chica, Dominican Republic, the future of baseball is literally in the making. These young players have a common dream, to make it in the major leagues. They have something else in common. They all idolize Alex Rodriguez and are devastated about his suspension.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE (via translator): It's tough for us Dominicans and difficult because we're talking about one of the greatest players, a star that shines no longer.

To retire the name Alex Rodriquez, a name that could have been included in the Hall of Fame, is something very sad for us.

ROMO: Rodriguez, born in New York to Dominican parents, was suspended Monday for 211 regular season games amid allegations involving the use of performance-enhancing drugs.

Twelve other players agreed to 50 game suspensions without pay. Ryan Braun of the Milwaukee Brewers, the only non-Hispanic in the group, got a 65-game suspension.

He and Rodriguez are the only suspended players not born in Latin America.

Dave Zirin is a sports editor at "The Nation" magazine.

DAVE ZIRIN, SPORTS EDITOR, "THE NATION" MAGAZINE: They're all either from the Dominican Republic, Venezuela or Nicaragua.

And this speaks to one of the issues of Major League Baseball in that they invest billions of dollars in baseball academies in Latin America in countries where performance-enhancing drugs are legal and available over the counter.

Some say it's case of Major League Baseball, frankly, trying to have their anabolic case and eat it, too.

ROMO: The Dominican Republican has currently more players in the major leagues than any other foreign country in the world. A count of Major League Baseball's active players' list shows more than 450.

Eight of those suspended Monday come from that Caribbean nation, three from Venezuela and one from Nicaragua.

Zirin says this is not a coincidence.

ZIRIN: The testing procedures are still incredibly flawed. Major League Baseball does nothing to make sure that the academies that they're setting up in Latin America are clean. And there's just a lot more work that Major League Baseball has to do going forward.

ROMO: Major League Baseball says it drug tests players under contract and prospective players.

MLB issued this statement to CNN. "The minor league drug program covers all players at the club academies in the Dominican Republic and Venezuela. We conducted over 2,000 tests in Latin America academies last season."

Back in the Dominican Republic, the current situation doesn't change the pride the players feel about the numerous baseball stars with roots in this small Caribbean nation.

We will keep on loving our ball players in spite of the things that have happened, says this young man as he makes a pause in his quest to reach the big leagues.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

HOLMES: And Rafael Romo is here with us. Now, from what you were saying in the story there, this stuff's all over the place, widely available.

ROMO: The main problem is the lack of oversight in some of these countries, and we're not trying to single out any particular country, but the Dominican Republic has most of the foreign-born players to the Major Leagues.

Some of these drugs can be sold over the counter. They can be -- they can -- you can get them from a doctor.

And a contact in the Dominican Republic was telling me that even some of the situations used for injured horses, in essence, steroids, in smaller doses, are used by some of these players.

But when you ask MLB, they say, no, we are very serious and very proactive about this. We're testing constantly in our academies and even those players who are not part of the academies are tested regularly.

MALVEAUX: So, Rafael, we talked to that writer yesterday and he said they're trying to have their anabolic cake and eat it, too, here.

I mean, he is assuming and he's making an assumption here that the league really is kind of turning a blind eye on this, that they know that they're getting players who are on steroids, who have used drugs.

Is he -- does he have a point here that, you know, this is something that they know when they recruit the players is already going on in their own countries?

ROMO: The other side of this is that you have thousands and thousands of kids who are very eager and willing to make it in the big leagues in countries like the Dominican Republic because they see how people from their country make it big in the big leagues.

So there's a lot of pressure on them to bulk up and this is one way.

HOLMES: Economic realities back home, and a lot of players, and Hispanic players, in particular, are supporting huge families back home when they do make money, right?

ROMO: Exactly. We're talking about extended families, friends and even communities that they support.

HOLMES: Yeah. Rafi, good to see you.

MALVEAUX: Very interesting.

ROMO: It is.

MALVEAUX: Appreciate it.

CNN is tracking down a suspect. This is in the Benghazi attack, but he's actually -- he's not even in custody and he says the U.S. government has never even interviewed him about those attacks.

HOLMES: Yeah, coming up, Erin Burnett is going to be here live with her special investigation, "The Truth About Benghazi."

We're going to have a bit of a preview chat about it all.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)