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Jenni Rivera Dies in Plane Crash; Mandela In The Hospital For Tests; Australian DJs Behind Prank Call Speak Out; Protests in Egypt Continue

Aired December 10, 2012 - 12:00   ET


ASHLEIGH BANFIELD, CNN ANCHOR: All right, thanks, everybody. Oh, by the way, I should let you know what the real reason was for them meeting. PSY apologized. He apologized on Friday for an anti-American rap performance that he did eight years ago. Had the chance to say so face to face with the president.

Now, I'm finished. Thank you, everyone, for watching. It's nice to have you with us. Stay tuned now for NEWSROOM INTERNATIONAL with Suzanne Malveaux.

SUZANNE MALVEAUX, CNN ANCHOR: Welcome to NEWSROOM INTERNATIONAL. I'm Suzanne Malveaux. We're taking you around the world in 60 minutes. Here's what's going on right now.

Millions now mourning an Mexican-American superstar killed in a plane crash in Mexico. Jenni Rivera was known for her traditional style of norteno and banda music. Just take a listen.


MALVEAUX: That is one of her biggest hits, "Por Que No Le Calas," or "Why Don't You Try It." Rivera released more than a dozen albums over her career. She had 15 platinum and 5 double platinum record.

Search crews are back today looking for Rivera's remains in that wreckage. Six others, including the singer's publicist, lawyer and makeup artist also died in that crash. Now the plane crashed in a remote mountainous area in northern Mexico. That is near the city of Monterrey.

Investigators don't know the cause yet, and Rafael Romo, he looks at who this Mexican-American superstar was to her fans and to her country.


RAFAEL ROMO, CNN SENIOR LATIN AMERICAN AFFAIRS EDITOR (voice-over): They called her diva. And for anyone who ever saw her on stage, it was easy to see why. She sang heart-wrenching ballots that spoke to the common woman, especially Mexican-Americans.

JENNI RIVERA, MUSICIAN (through translator): Every song, every lyric, I'm thinking of them and how I can relate to them with my music. ROMO: Jenni Rivera was born in Long Beach, California, to Mexican parents. Their story, that of many Mexican immigrants of humble origins. In an interview with CNN En Espanol in 2010, she spoke about how she sold music records at a Los Angeles flea market, and how the family collected cans for the meager income they could bring in selling the metal.

RIVERA: It is very flattering when they tell me that I'm a great artist, a great entertainer. But when I'm on stage, I can entertain the audience, that I can get in the recording studio and come up with a great production. But before all of that, I was a business woman. I'm primarily business minded.

ROMO (on camera): Jenni Rivera sold 15 million records and won two billboard music awards in a career that spanned just over a decade. But she was also a very successful businesswoman. She started several of her own companies, including Jenni Rivera Enterprises, which produced and marketed her own music, a fragrance brand, a jeans factory and a TV production company.

(voice-over): In October, people in Espanol named Rivera on its list of the 25 most powerful Hispanic women. She was famous for her electrifying performances on stage, but her image was also battered by scandal. A mother of five, she married three times, but the relationships were rocky and caused her much anguish and embarrassment.

RIVERA: Staying defeated, crying and suffering was not an option. I had to get back on my feet, dust myself off and press on. That's what I want to teach my daughters.

ROMO: During her last interview Saturday night, she told Mexican media that she needed time to get emotional well. Asked about her Christmas plans, she said "I want to be with my family, but God only knows what's going to happen."


MALVEAUX: Rafael Romo is joining us. And she really was an incredible woman and quite a figure. I mean, she really talked a lot about, in very candid terms, her own personal struggles. And she was an inspiration to a lot of people.

ROMO: She was very powerful, and the reason why she had so many followers, especially among women in the Mexican-American community, and also in Mexico, was because she was the kind of woman who would say, you may think you may be this big Mexican macho, but when it comes to me, I can have you eating from my hand in just two minutes. So that kind of theme, that kind of message, inspired a lot of women.

And she spoke a lot about empowering women. She spoke about -- against domestic violence. Those themes that resonated with the community. And if you watch an interview, a lot of times there has to be -- there had to be a lot of bleeping because she was not afraid to --

MALVEAUX: To say -- tell it like it is. ROMO: Speak her mind, exactly the way she felt about a thing.


ROMO: Yes, she was not afraid at all. And that's how she will be remembered, I think.

MALVEAUX: And I thought it was interesting, too, because it was as recently as Saturday I read that she was talking about, you know, she's experienced pain and she's just like any other woman. She's not any different. Tell us a little bit about how she influenced her audience through her music.

ROMO: Well, the fact is that she married three times, she had five children. She became a mom at age 15. And there was a lot of drama in her life. And she made her life very much public. She was not afraid to do candid interviews in which she spoke about drama that she had just lived. You would see her talking about the problems that she had with a husband or a boyfriend, situations that her family lived through, problems with children. Even a video, a sex tape, that appeared a couple years ago that made headlines, not only here in the United States, but in Mexico. It was just incredible, the amount of media that she generated.

MALVEAUX: How did she get started? I understand that her godfather was a composer?

ROMO: Well, music runs in the family. Her father, Pedro, was a musician. She also has a brother by the name of Lupillo, also Rivera, who's very famous also in the Mexican regional genre. And she was just very gifted, not only in the musical talent, but also at being able to market herself. And you saw the video. She was just so very powerful. You would put her on her stage, and there was nobody who wanted to look away but to listen to her sing.

MALVEAUX: And I want to bring in our guest, one of the DJs who really enjoyed her music and knows her personally. Joining us from Dallas, Raul Molinar. He is known as "El Primo" in the airwaves.


MALVEAUX: Yes. Raul, tell us a little bit about what you know about her. I know that you met her when she first started out and you also attended her last concert in Dallas.

MOLINAR: Yes. Her last concert was Sunday, October the 28th. It was a complete sold out. And you know what also made news is that she was one of the first artists to ever sell out of her concert before the concert. So all the presale was gone, you know, a couple of days before the show.

MALVEAUX: Raul -- you want to jump in?

ROMO: Raul, it's Rafael Romo from CNN. I just wanted to ask you, you had an opportunity to meet her, to be with her, to really get to know her on a personal level. MOLINAR: Yes.

ROMO: So what's the thing that you're going to remember the most about her?

MOLINAR: Definitely the most important thing is that Jenni Rivera, before being an artist, she was real, you know. I mean her passion for her fans, her love for her fans, that's what really got her through all the tough times. You guys were commenting earlier ago, she's been divorced three times. I had the chance to interview her during her second divorce before 2003 when she got divorced. And, you know, when I received her at the studio and the station, I mean, I receive her like the way she is. She was a diva, you know. I got some flowers. I got a tray of fruit for her. And when I gave the flowers, I said, Jenni, welcome to the show. I mean she just busted out in tears like any other woman would.

And, you know, that's what really -- that's what I really remember of Jenni. She's -- and that's why she has so many fans all over Mexico, United States, Central and South America, because she was a real woman and she will express her feelings on stage, off stage, anywhere.

MALVEAUX: And, Raul, what are your listeners saying about her this morning?

MOLINAR: They are devastated. We were covering the news yesterday when we heard about the plane not making it to -- from Monterrey to Taluca (ph), her destination. Its destination. And we were covering the news since early. Everybody was in shock.

This morning, I woke up, I was in shock. I couldn't believe it. I mean it's just -- it's just -- it's just been a hard -- it's just been a hard few hours. And radio listeners, a lot of fans -- Jenni Rivera had true core -- hard core fans. And, I mean, everybody is devastated. There's been some rumors of kidnapping, of, you know -- but this is -- all of this is obviously not true.

MALVEAUX: Well, Raul, thank you so much for bringing us obviously your listeners and the real story about her and how special she was. And Rafael as well. Really kind of an extraordinary woman. Someone who had a lot of attention, but also was very much like anybody else really.

ROMO: That's right. She had an incredible ability to connect with regular people. And I think that's how she will be remembered.

MALVEAUX: And very talented.

ROMO: Indeed.

MALVEAUX: Thank you.

The president of South Africa is trying to calm fears over the health of Nelson Mandela. He says that Mandela is doing very well now. There's no cause for alarm. But Mandela is a symbol, of course, of hope, freedom for the people around the world. Any developments regarding his health bound to cause concern. So he was taken from Johannesburg to a hospital in Pretoria. That happened over the weekend. He's said to be undergoing tests that are consistent with his age. The iconic leader is 94. Robyn Curnow spoke recently with Mandela's relatives in this exclusive interview.


ROBYN CURNOW, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Inside Nelson Mandela's home, two of his granddaughters are rearranging family photographs.

TUKWINI MANDELA, NELSON MANDELA'S GRANDDAUGHTER: This is my favorite picture out of all of them. My grandfather looks really, really happy here.

Do you think these would go well here?

CURNOW: Putting up family pictures, intimate memories of times spent with their grandfather.

T. MANDELA: This place here is where you catch him at his best.

CURNOW (on camera): You catch the real Nelson Mandela?

T. MANDELA: You catch the real Nelson Mandela. Not the politician. Not the, you know, world icon. Nelson Mandela the man, human being.

CURNOW: The family man?

T. MANDELA: Exactly.

CURNOW (voice-over): And Mandela was surrounded by his large family when these pictures were taken at his 94th birthday party. No doubt his loved ones are with him now, too, as he endures another health scare.

On Saturday, Mandela was flown from his rural home to a Pretoria hospital for tests and medical attention say South African authorities. In recent years, he's been in hospital for abdominal surgery and pneumonia, which his wife, Graca Machel, said had them all very worried.

GRACA MACHEL, NELSON MANDELA'S WIFE: To see him aging, it's something also which pains you. It's like he say -- you understand and you know that it has to happen. But that's -- that's -- I mean there's the spirit and this sparkle. You see that it's -- somehow it's fading.

CURNOW: Back inside house, though, two of his other grandchildren say that Mandela now sleeps much more, has struggled to walk unaided and often doesn't say very much.

CURNOW (on camera): But he must find it hard. Someone with so much dignity and self-control, getting so old and having to be so dependent on other people.

NDILEKA MANDELA, NELSON MANDELA'S GRANDDAUGHTER: I think he takes it in his stride. He's come to accept that this is part of growing old and it's part of humanity as such. At some point you are going to be -- each and every one of us will depend on somebody else. And he's come to embrace it.

CURNOW (voice-over): Nelson Mandela spent decades fighting for freedom. Now, older and weaker, his fight is against the march of time.


MALVEAUX: Robyn now joins us from Pretoria.

And, Robyn, I understand officials are trying to reassure folks, essentially. Not providing a lot of details about his medical condition. Do we know more about these kinds of tests that he's undergoing right now?

CURNOW: Hi there, Suzanne.

Well, the sun has just set here in Pretoria. It looks like Nelson Mandela will spend a third night in this military hospital behind me. And, no, we have no details on the nature of these tests. We don't know why he was flown by his doctors from his rural home in the eastern cape region to Pretoria. That's about a two-hour flight.

Now, we do know these tests are ongoing. And, of course, the South African presidency and officials, as well as his family, have been trying to reassure the public, down-playing this latest health scare. But the fact that they're not give a lot of details is, of course, creating a lot of speculation. Perhaps fueling more concern and worry about just how sick he is.

MALVEAUX: Do we have a sense of the way people are actually responding? I mean you say there's more concern now. And he is such a larger than life figure for so many people. What kinds of questions are they asking?

CURNOW: You know, I recently spoke to Graca Machel, Mandel's wife, and she used a wonderful phrase. She said, Mandela was like a glue to differences. He was a bridge to differences. And it was his wise leadership, his calm sense of responsibility, that literally ushered this nation into a democracy. So all races, white, black, you know, young people, old people, across the economic divide, everybody has a very deep, emotional attachment to what Mandela did for them and what he still symbolizes. So, of course, there is a real concern. People, though, still very pragmatic. They know he's frail. He's 94. He hasn't been seen in public in over two years. So there is a sense, perhaps an acceptance, that, you know, just one day he won't be here.

MALVEAUX: Robyn, thank you very much.

I want to -- we're going to update you on any developments regarding his health.

And, of course, his struggle against apartheid made him a hero, but his family, he was also -- he's a husband, a father, a grandfather, much, much more. I had a chance to travel to South Africa in October and set down with Mandela's former son-in-law, Zweli Hlongwane, to talk about what Mandela means to the country and particularly to his family.


ZWELI HLONGWANE, MANDELA'S FORMER SON-IN-LAW: We call him dada, you know. We always respect that he's the foundation of this nation. He gave us, you know, these principles of humanity. He acts as a foundation for the whole nation. He was able to calm down, you know, the fire when South Africa was about to explode. But he spoke a lot of sense to a lot of, you know, people who were angry about what had happened.

CROWD (singing): Happy birthday to you.

HLONGWANE: He's the father of the whole nation. And not only in South Africa, but all over the world. He's that symbol of reconciliation, you know.

He taught the world that how important it is to be human, you know? So, he's not only a father of South Africa, but a father of the whole world.


MALVEAUX: Mandela was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1993. He was elected president in 1994, just four years after he was released from prison. We wish him all the best in his health.

Outrage now building up over the tragic death of a nurse in Britain who was tricked by a prank phone call from two Australian deejays. Now, the radio hosts are speaking out.

Plus, an American doctor is safe after a daring rescue operation in Afghanistan, but sadly, a Navy SEAL gave his life to make that happen.

And a girl from one of the poorest places on earth has emerged as one of the best chess players in the world.


MALVEAUX: The Australian radio show behind a royal prank has now been canceled, the deejays pulled off the air for now after the death of a hospital nurse.

Last week, these deejays pretended on the phone to be Queen Elizabeth and Prince Charles to find out the condition of Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge, in the hospital. Well, the nurse who transferred the call through the ward was found dead after an apparent suicide. The cause of death is still listed as unexplained.

I want to bring in Michael Holmes to talk a little bit about this and, these deejays, we heard them, we saw them. They're pretty despondent. I mean, they really take responsibility for this woman's death.

MICHAEL HOLMES, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yeah, well, they apologized if they did lead to the death and, of course, nobody knows that for sure at the moment, what her state of mind was. But, yet, they're very, very apologetic. They didn't expect it to go this way, obviously, and the interviews that were conducted on two of Australia's tabloid shows were quite emotional.

I think we've got a sound bite actually. Let's play that.

MALVEAUX: Let's listen.


MICHAEL CHRISTIAN, 2DAYFM DEEJAY: Shattered, gutted, heartbroken and, obviously, you know, our deepest sympathies are with the families and the friends of all those affected. And, you know, obviously, Mel and myself are incredibly sorry for the situation and what's happened. And, you know, we hope that they're doing OK and they're getting the love and support that they deserve and need right now, but I mean, personally I'm gutted.


HOLMES: Yeah, it's emotional. Both of them were in tears at various points in that interview. I mean, you can imagine. I mean, they thought they were just playing a harmless joke and look what happened.

MALVEAUX: And, so, is this typical of their radio station? Is it typical of them? Do they normally pull these kinds of pranks? Was this the first time they'd done something like this?

HOLMES: Yeah, I guess you could say this sort of thing does happen around the world, but this particular radio station, 2Day FM, they've been known for years to do stupid things and cruel things in some cases.

There was a memorable one of a girl who had just done her final exams in high school and was named as the top student in the state, so they call her up, pretend -- not these guys but somebody else from the radio station -- pretend that they're from the board of education, said there'd been a mistake and she'd actually done really badly. I mean, you know, charming stuff.

They had one girl on and put her on a lie detector, 14-years-old, and started asking about her sex life. And which -- and she gets really upset. Turns out she was raped at 12. I mean, this sort of thing, obscenities and they had a porn star on one who then went into great detail about what she did for a living.

Another one, Kyle Sandilands is one of the most controversial ones on the radio station. Basically, a female journalist wrote a negative story about him. He essentially said he was going to get her.

I mean, yeah, in a ...

MALVEAUX: So, what happens now? What happens to this radio station? What happens to these two deejays? Is there an investigation? I mean, what follows? HOLMES: Well, Scotland Yard in Britain is investigating and they've spoken to Australian police, you know, to just sort of pull together their investigation. We're expect the coroner's court decision to come out or the coroner to make a statement today, actually.

The company -- and we do have a comment from the company -- they say, "First and foremost, we'd like to express our deep and sincere condolences to the family for their lost. We're sorry for what happened." They say, "We don't claim to be perfect and we always strive to do better. We have initiated a detailed and rigorous review of our policy procedures to inform any improvements that we can make."

You know, this just virally in the Twitter and Facebook world, these guys were just eviscerated in the hours after this, 21,000 negative posts on their Facebook page. But, now, two-thirds of Australians, according to a poll, are saying we can't blame them for the death. We don't know what was going on with the woman.

MALVEAUX: And what about the nurse's family? What about her family?

HOLMES: Been surprisingly quiet actually. They've not said very much at all.

The sister spoke out and just expressed the horror of it and also alluded to -- that she's of Indian heritage and that this would have been an issue of shame for her to have done this, to have put the calls through and thinking it was the queen and that that may have contributed.

Of course, no one knows exactly yet, but two children are without their mother and you know ...

MALVEAUX: It's just tragic all around.

HOLMES: It's all the way around. Absolutely.

MALVEAUX: All right, Michael, thank you. Appreciate it.

Well, nobody wants to back down here. Egyptian protesters are now camped out. The president has his army standing ready. An aide to Mohamed Morsi spoke exclusively to CNN about the upheaval.


MALVEAUX: Syria's new opposition will brief European foreign ministers today on the country's worsening crisis. This comes as new images posted online are said to show jihadists taking over a key army base in Aleppo Province today.

A watchdog group says the take-over was a major blow to President Bashar al-Assad regime because this was the last major military base west of Aleppo city still under army control. U.N. and Arab League envoy Lakhdar Brahimi says a political solution is still possible, even though the situation he says is bad and getting worse. His comments follow the weekend talks in Geneva with Russian as well as U.S. officials. And Egypt's President Mohamed Morsi has given the army authority now to arrest people and to protect government buildings as the nation is preparing to vote this weekend on a controversial draft constitution.

So, what is happening in Cairo? Protesters and supporters of the president have been camped out around the palace for days. Opposition groups are calling for nationwide protests this is week, leading up to Saturday's vote.

President Morsi's chief of staff blames the uprising on a small but powerful group of business and media elites. Rifaa Tahtawi says -- tells CNN's Reza Sayah that the vote the on the country's constitution will not be held up.


RIFAA TAHTAWI, CHIEF OF STAFF FOR EGYPTIAN PRESIDENT MORSI: The question of delaying the vote for the constitution is it not possible. If the people in the streets believe they have -- they command the majority, why don't they go and say no?

REZA SAYAH, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: They don't necessarily believe they command the majority. They don't like the process by which this constitution was drafted.

TAHTAWI: In any democracy there is a rule, the rule of majority.


MALVEAUX: Opponents say that the proposed constitution was just slapped together in one day and, over the weekend, Morsi did strike down part of this decree that gave him basically unchecked powers.

A Navy SEAL loses his life during a daring rescue now. He was part of the same elite unit that took place in the raid that killed Osama bin Laden. We've got more from the Pentagon just in a moment.