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CNN 10 - April 10, 2018

CNN 10

The World is Watching What Happens Next in Syria; Facebook Moves to Provide Transparency

Aired April 10, 2018 - 04:00 ET


CARL AZUZ, CNN 10 ANCHOR: Was there an illegal chemical weapons attack in Syria over the weekend? And what could that lead to in the war-torn Middle Eastern country?

These are the questions we`re exploring first today on CNN 10. I`m Carl Azuz.

The civil war in Syria started in 2011. It involves different rebel groups fighting the Syrian government. There are also terrorist groups involved.

But one reason why it`s gotten so much international attention is because it`s torn into a proxy war, with countries outside of Syria supporting different groups inside of Syria. The U.S., for instance, is battling the ISIS terrorist forces in Syria and it`s supported certain rebel groups in the past. Russia and Iran are also involved. They`ve been supporting Syria`s current government and neighboring Israel, whose official stance on the war is neutral, has acknowledged attacking some Syrian military targets.

The United Nations Security Council held an emergency meeting on Monday to talk about a suspected chemical attack that happened on Saturday. Syrian activist groups say helicopters dropped bombs containing a toxic gas on a rebel-held city named Douma. They say dozens of civilians were killed in the attack and they provided graphic video footage of victims.

CNN couldn`t verify whether the video is authentic. The Syrian government and Russia say it`s not but what happens next is anyone`s guess.


FRED PLEITGEN, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: On April 7th, 2018, there was an alleged chemical attack in the rebel enclave called Douma, just outside of Damascus. The opposition blames Syria government forces for it. Now, the Syrian government denies the allegations, saying that they were fabricated. All of this has big international consequences as well.

The United States came up with a strong statement. President Trump laying the blame on Syrian President Bashar al-Assad and also holding Russian President Vladimir Putin accountable as well. The big question is, what is going to happen next?

Certainly, the U.S. has said that no options are off the table. So, this is something that could include potential cruise missile strikes, potential airstrikes. But, of course, the United States also has to factor in the fact that the dominant power here on the ground in Syria is still the Russians.

The Russians are also issuing a stern warning towards the United States, saying that any sort of intervention on the part of the U.S. could have what they call very grave consequences.

One of the things that has happened is that there were missile strikes on the Syrian military base in the center of the country around Homs. The Russians are saying that they believe the Israelis were behind those strikes. The Syrian government is also holding Israel responsible and says that several people were killed there.

SUBTITLE: Israeli officials have not issued any response to reports of the strike.

PLEITGEN: So, right now, you have a situation on the ground here in Syria where certainly all the players are very nervous. All the players are very close to one another and all the players are very much at odds with one another, which is really something that could make it potentially very,

very dangerous, not just for escalation on the ground in the Syrian civil war, but also for the outside powers to come into conflict with one another.


AZUZ: Tens of millions of people will soon be able to see how they were affected by a data breach of their Facebook account, if they haven`t already. The social media company started rolling out a tool for this Monday.

Controversy erupted last month concerning Facebook users` personal information. Several hundred thousand people downloaded an app years ago, whose developer was allowed to collect information about the users, their friends, their locations and likes. This apparently led to the collection of information about 87 million Facebook users. And that information was provided against Facebook`s rules to a company named Cambridge Analytica.

"The New York Times" reported that Cambridge Analytica used the info to influence how Americans voted. Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg is scheduled to discuss the data controversy with Congress on Tuesday. Meanwhile --



Well, Facebook announcing a number of changes to combat election meddling. It`s a push for more transparency around advertising, and the social media company will now actually begin labeling all political and issue ads. And they`re also as a part of this going to show who paid for those ads and require anyone who wants to run a political or issue ad to verify their identity and location. So, they`ll have to be approved in order to do this.

Now, this is an expansion from Facebook`s prior moves. These measures would have applied to political ads -- so, ads mentioning candidates. But, you know, this expansion also covers issue ads, which if you think about issue ads, they cover hot button issues that don`t even mention candidates.

So, think gun control or education.

And, you know, as part of this, the company also announced a searchable database where users can actually see how much the ads cost and also what kind of people advertisers are targeting. This is all about more transparency.

And one more move which is actually pretty interesting, the company is going to start verifying the people behind pages, if they have a big following. So, think about pages like the topics or organizations that you like on Facebook. And then think about 2016, Russian trolls actually use pages to pose as Americans on different sides of the political spectrum, to create division in America. Facebook found out about this after the fact.

Now, you know, this news is coming as Sheryl Sandberg made the media rounds. She`s asked a lot of tough questions. One question she was asked about, you know, will the company find more issues when it came to user data. Listen to what she said.


SHERYL SANDBERG, CHIEF OPERATING OFFICER, FACEBOOK: What we weren`t focused enough was protecting because that same data that you enable to use social experiences can also be misused.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Do you think there could be other breaches like the one we saw in Cambridge Analytica, where tens of millions of people`s status was accessed improperly?

SANDBERG: We`re doing an investigation. We`re going to do audits and, yes, we think it`s possible. That`s why we`re doing the audit.


SEGALL: And all of this is coming before a monumental week for Facebook. You know, the CEO, Mark Zuckerberg, will be testifying before Congress on Tuesday and Wednesday. You`ll have lawmakers posing very challenging questions to Mark about the company`s use of data in light of the Cambridge Analytica scandal and everything that`s come out, and also the weaponization of the platform for political purposes.

Back to you.


AZUZ: We have a new series this year that celebrates student athletes who are making things better in communities around the country. It`s called Positive Athlete. You can nominate someone you know at CNN.com/PositiveAthlete.

Today`s report is about a young man who lives on the Hopi Native American reservation in Tuba City, Arizona. He knows something about perseverance.


BRANDON WHITEROCK, POSITIVE ATHLETE: I started playing sports when I was about third grade. On the health side, I was kind of obese, because on the reservation, there`s a lot of bad things about being obese, and so, my grandma signed up and she said, all right, football would be a good sport to go in. So, I tried it and I liked it a lot.

Football is like an emotional type for me. I get to relieve my stress throughout the whole year.

PERCY PIESTEWA, BRANDON`S GRANDMOTHER: Brandon is a leader. If the football team was down, he`d get up there and he`d give them their pep talk. He does the same thing with the baseball team. Not only that, if some of the kids weren`t on task, he`d go tutor them. He`d help them do their homework, just to keep them eligible.

ANNOUNCER: Academic athlete of the year, Brandon Whiterock.

WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: Among the soldiers killed in Iraq was Private First Class Lori Piestewa.

PIESTEWA: He was 3 when his mom died.

WHITEROCK: When I was little, I didn`t know anything. I was like, oh, my mom is in heaven like, so just like it`s a childish stuff.

PIESTEWA: His mother just seemed to have taught him so well just in the very beginning stages of his life.

WHITEROCK: Everyone come to me, your mom is a hero, she did this for us, I used to know her, she always did this for me. And so, my inspiration was like live and be like her.

PIESTEWA: They both can light up your day just by smiling at you. That was Lori`s big thing. She had this awesome smile. And Brandon is the same way.

WHITEROCK: Other kids have idols like LeBron James or Larry Fitzgerald. But I look up to my mom. Every game I always played for her. I played my hardest for her.


AZUZ: At first, this looks like an elaborate fountain shooting plumes of water into the air. But the plumes are ice and they`re powered by explosives. Winters are cold in the far northeast China where the country borders eastern Russia. And parts of the Heilongjiang River were jammed with ice. So, workers drilled holes along a three-mile section of the river and planted explosives in them to break the ice. It also put on a spectacular snow show.

I bet it was a blast to put together. We hear they really got a charge out of it once they drilled down and planted powdered propellants that powered Porclatones` (ph) blue magic.

There`s a river of puns here. We sent a raft your way. We hope they float your boat. But it`s time for us to set sail on CNN 10.

I`m Carl Azuz.