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CNN NEWSROOM

Tragedy Shifted Gun Laws in Scotland; Unrest in Korean Peninsula; Elephants Dead in Malaysia; U.S. Navy Ship Grounded; Injured Snowmobiler Caleb Moore Passes Away

Aired January 31, 2013 - 12:30   ET

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


(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MYRNA GARCIA, SUPPORT NETWORK FOR CULT VICTIMS: He was love. Jesus was asking everybody to practice sex because, through sex, they were going to get power.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SUZANNE MALVEAUX, ANCHOR, "CNN NEWSROOM INTERNATIONAL": This sounds a little crazy to me. They actually believed that he in some ways looked like Jesus?

I mean, what -- how did that happen where this connection was made and people kind of bought into that?

RAFAEL ROMO, CNN CORRESPONDENT: We actually have video of the website that they operated -- that's still up -- where he takes a look at some images of ancient paintings of Christ and then he places those pictures in front of his face. saying. "Look at me. Look at my eyes. Look at my forehead. Look at my nose. I am Jesus. I look just like Jesus."

But he was taking advantage, according to Miss Garcia who is, by the way, a psychologist. People who were in some sort of emotional situation and who had some means.

And he had -- they were very good at targeting people and making sure that they were alone ....

MALVEAUX: Vulnerable.

ROMO: ... and they had nobody to defend them. And that's when they took advantage?

MALVEAUX: And this guy? Where is he now? What is he doing? Is he locked up somewhere?

ROMO: All 14 of them, they are locked up in Mexico City, all 14 of them, six Spaniards, two people from Brazil, two from Bolivia, two from Venezuela, and then from Ecuador and Argentina.

All 14 who were operating this cult in Mexico were arrested in a raid by Mexican security forces. MALVEAUX: All right, fascinating story. Thank you, Rafael. Appreciate it.

We are also following the story of a man with a gun who burst into an elementary school, started shooting. Sounds like a familiar story, right?

Well, this happened in Scotland. This was almost two decades ago. Completely changed the gun laws in the United Kingdom and we're going to tell you how.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MALVEAUX: The school shooting in Newtown, Connecticut, is fueling new calls for gun restrictions here in the United States.

Well, in Dunblane, Scotland, a similar tragedy 17 years ago stirred outrage across that country, led to major changes in gun laws.

Not everybody is happy with the outcome.

Here is our Nic Robertson.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

NIC ROBERTSON, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIOINAL CORRESPONDENT: When it comes to changes in gun law, this small, sleepy Scottish town has a story to tell.

It was the power of the people here a decade and a half ago that helped push through radical reforms in British gun law.

It begins March 13, 1996 in Dunblane Primary School. At 9:35 a.m., local man Thomas Hamilton walks in carrying four pistols licensed to him and 743 rounds of ammunition, more than one bullet for every child and teacher in the school.

Four minutes later, he has fired 109 rounds. Sixteen five-year-old children died along with their teacher. Ten other children and three teachers are injured. With the last round Hamilton takes his own life.

Mick North's daughter, Sophie, was killed. Steve Birnie's son, badly injured.

MICK NORTH, FATHER OF VICTIM: After two or three days, my concern was that somebody with a gun had done that. You don't have shootings without guns.

ROBERTSON: North was not alone. Other parents began calling for gun law changed.

They were helped by a countrywide demand for reform, more than 700,000 signatures collected. That's more than one for every hundred people across the nation. Although he spoke out at the time, North has been silent of late, agreeing to talk to me, re-open old wounds, because he hopes his experiences can help the people of Sandy Hook change gun laws, too.

NORTH: One of the main lessons, I think, is that you have to keep the issue alive. And, as we found, it's interest in those closest to the victims from the media that often allows the issue to keep going.

STEVEN BIRNIE, FATHER OF VICTIM: The personal sort of things had to be there in order to make it real for people.

ROBERTSON: Is it painful?

BIRNIE: Yeah. It still is.

ROBERTSON: Since the Dunblane attack, handguns have been banned and tougher background checks are in place to have a weapon you must be checked by police, cleared by your doctor and have two independent witnesses who can testify to your good character.

What criminal experts are telling us is that over the past decade in Britain, gun crime has more than halved from 2003-2004 when there were more than 24,000 gun crimes to just last year when there were little more than 11,000.

BILL MOONIE, CALLANDER TARGET SPORTS CLUB: The laws were a sop to the people who, quite rightly, felt this was a terrible, disastrous happening. We didn't like them. They were expensive for individuals and for clubs.

But, at the end of the day, we're fairly content with it.

ROBERTSON: Bill Moonie, chairman of the local gun club, saw firsthand the horror Hamilton wrought, but worries that, while homicides from licensed weapons like his are down, killings from illegals weapons are up.

Despite that, he says British gun law could have prevented Sandy Hook. His point? Licensed weapons in the U.K. are now stored so securely under lock and key and police oversight that even other family members cannot get them.

MOONIE: It was his mother's weapon. How did he manage to get access to that? In Britain, it would not have been possible.

ROBERTSON: In Britain, it wouldn't have been possible?

MOONIE: No. It shouldn't be possible.

ROBERTSON: For 17 years, Dunblane has reflected on its loss, contemplated the lessons learned. The belief here, it has not been in vain.

Nic Robertson, CNN, Dunblane, Scotland.

(END VIDEOTAPE) MALVEAUX: Tonight at 8:00 Eastern, Anderson Cooper is looking at both sides of the gun debate. That's 8:00 Eastern tonight here on CNN.

How close are the North Koreans to launching a nuclear weapon? South Korea says too close for comfort.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MALVEAUX: There is a war of words intensifying on the Korean Peninsula. South Korea today issued a statement warning of a severe outcome of arch-rival North Korea if it carries out another nuclear test.

This comes after North Korea threatened to conduct more rocket and nuclear tests. The U.N. slammed the recent rocket launch while Seoul worries the north is ready and able to conduct a third nuclear test. It's waiting for the leader to give the go-ahead.

Britain's Prince Charles takes a ride on The Tube. He and Camilla traveled one stop. It happened yesterday.

The royal ride was marking the 150th anniversary of the underground commuter railway. It is the first time that the prince has ridden The Tube since 1986. He looks comfortable there.

Check this out. This is unbelievable. Look at that. That's not a dark cloud. Those are birds flying in sync over Israel. We'll explain how.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MALVEAUX: This is a disturbing story out of Malaysia. More than a dozen elephants have now been found dead. This is in a protected forest. They are rare Borneo pygmy elephants. It's an endangered species. Look at them there. Officials believe there are only about 1,500 of them alive in the world. Well, 14 of the animals have died in recent weeks. Wildlife officials, they don't know why. They're wondering why this is happening.

Want to bring in our Philippe Cousteau. He's a conservationist, explorer, president of the Earth Eco International.

And, Philippe, do we understand what's happening here to these rare elephants?

PHILIPPE COUSTEAU, EXPLORER, CONSERVATIONIST: Well, Suzanne, there's a strong suspicion that those 14 pygmy elephants were actually poisoned. And World Wildlife Fund and other agencies are on the ground right now trying to get to the bottom of this. But as I said, it's not an uncommon -- necessarily uncommon act that human wildlife conflict leads to the killing of animals. But this -- this scale of 14 elephants is pretty unprecedented.

MALVEAUX: Why would they be poisoned? How would that happen?

COUSTEAU: Well, this region of Borneo, Saba (ph), is -- large parts of this area, while it's covered, and 60 percent of it in forest, it's -- a lot of it's scheduled to actually be converted to farmland. And one of the problems is that, you know, a lot of palm oil plantations are going in and that encroaches on elephant territory and people and humans come into conflict. Palm oil is worth a lot of money and the other agriculture that they're conducting, so people tend to try and remove the elephants.

MALVEAUX: So you're saying they intentionally are leaving out poison for these elephants? That they are trying to kill them?

COUSTEAU: Oftentimes what they do is lace pineapples or hearts of palm -- elephants love hearts of palm, not to so much human beings, with fast acting poisons. And actually these elephants, while the necropsies, equivalent of an animal autopsy, has not been completed, they believe that due to hemorrhaging and ulcers in the intestinal tracts and bleeding, that they were indeed poisoned.

And I was actually on the next door island of Sumatra a year ago with CNN doing a documentary about this issue. And it is increasingly common as palm oil, which is used in chocolate and soap and all sorts of different products, is becoming very, very popular and very lucrative for Malaysia and Indonesia.

MALVEAUX: Is there anything -- I mean are people being held accountable? Are there investigators who are going after these folks who are poisoning the elephants?

COUSTEAU: Well, there are indeed. As I mentioned, World Wildlife Fund is very present and active in this area. We actually were with them when we were in Sumatra. And, you know, what's so concerning, Suzanne, is there's only 1,200 of these elephants left.

MALVEAUX: Wow.

COUSTEAU: So literally in one fell swoop, 1 percent of the population was wiped out. But that doesn't have to happen. There are solutions establishing wildlife corridors between areas. We visited local communities in Sumatra that had found nonlethal methods of helping to keep -- with firecrackers and lights and loud horns to keep the elephants from encroaching on land.

MALVEAUX: Sure.

COUSTEAU: We don't have to kill these precious, incredible creatures that are already disappearing.

MALVEAUX: Absolutely. And, Philippe, tell us about this other story. There's a U.S. Navy shipwreck that's off the Philippines. The military said it's going to go in and chop it off -- chop it up and get it out of there. Is that the right approach? Can you tell us what's happening?

COUSTEAU: Well, this is -- I know another piece of bad news. As you said, a couple today. Unfortunately, this is a terrible tragedy. A U.S. Navy minesweeper ran aground on a coral reef. At a coral reef that happens to be a UNESCO World Heritage site in the Philippines. And, of course, you know, we've lost 25 percent of the world's coral reefs. Another 25 percent is rapidly declining.

So for this type of activity to happen -- for a U.S. Navy ship to run aground and destroy 10,000 square feet of precious coral that takes thousands of years to grow, is an absolutely tragedy and unconscionable. And we still don't know exactly what happened. Why the ship ran aground. That hasn't happened for 40 years. The Navy has a pretty good safety record in that respect.

MALVEAUX: Sure.

COUSTEAU: But certainly, at this point, all they can do is cut the ship up. If they were to drag the ship back off the reef, it would cause even more damage. So they're hoping to go in with ship-mount cranes, cut up the ship, which is mostly wood. Lift it back onto that crane and remove it from the reef. And then I hope the Navy will do everything they can to try and compensate the Philippine government and the world for that loss of precious coral.

MALVEAUX: Yes, because you're talking about, I mean, a whole ecosystem under water that is destroyed.

COUSTEAU: That's right. The most diverse ecosystems in the world are actually coral reefs. People think they're rain forests or terrestrial environments. They're not. They're coral reefs and they're disappearing far too quickly around the world.

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

Also, hey, I want you to stick around to check out this. This is pretty amazing here. I want to show our viewers. These are actually birds. Starlings to be exact. And -- so they are -- they are flying, they're synchronized here. And it looks like dark clouds. This is over Israel. And we understand that they do this to help them find food, but also to be, you know, a defense against birds of prey so they can appear like they're one big mass. Have you ever seen anything like it?

COUSTEAU: You know, Suzanne, I have never seen anything like this with this species of birds. Of course, in the ocean, a lot of fish swarm in similar ways. It is an effective defense that confuses so many birds in a condensed area. So many animals flying around, it can confuse predator. But if anything -- if nothing else, it is so beautiful, isn't it? I mean it's a reminder of the wonder of nature and how we -- how grateful we should be that there are still sights like this left in the world.

MALVEAUX: Yes, it is beautiful. But it also reminds you of that Hitchcock's "The Birds," too. There are two sides to it, I'm just saying.

COUSTEAU: So far there are no reports of that, but, indeed, that is in the back of one's mind.

MALVEAUX: All right, Philippe, thanks. Good to see you.

All right. So imagine this, living in smog that is so thick you would be willing to pay money for a lung full of fresh air. That is what we are talking about. That's how bad things are getting in China. But there's a businessman who's got a solution.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MALVEAUX: We have some very sad news. Breaking news, as a matter of fact. We are getting a statement here now from the family of Caleb Moore. He, you might recall, he was the snowboarder, just 25 years old. He was performing in the Winter X Games and crashed in the Winter X Games. He has since passed away. This was -- he was in critical condition on Tuesday. And he was performing a flip-off jump and was injured in that.

This is the family's statement that was just released by Chelsea Lawson (ph). The family confirming now of this snowmobiler, Caleb Moore, and his death. "On behalf of the Moore family, this morning, Caleb Moore passed away. He will be truly missed and never forgotten. The family wishes to express their deep gratitude for all the prayers and support they have received from all the fans, friends and family around the world that Caleb had inspired. They would also like to thank the physicians and the medical staff at both Aspen Valley Hospital and St. Mary's Hospital Grand Junction for their care and dedication."

Again, this is Caleb Moore, only 25 years old, now has passed away.

We're going to take a break.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MALVEAUX: Cameras in China captured this. This is a sinkhole swallowing up an entire building. This is the city of Guangzhou. Just take a look at this.

A 32-foot-wide hole opens up underneath the building causing it to crumble. Residents, they evacuated. The roads, closed off. Three more buildings then fell later in the day. Fortunately, no one was injured. This is what was left behind, a gaping hole.

"Time" magazine reports that the sinkholes, they're a growing problem in Chinese cities. Underground bomb shelters are blamed for dozens of sink holes in Beijing.

I'm Suzanne Malveaux.

President Obama's nominee for Defense Secretary facing tough questions now on Capitol Hill. The Senate Armed Services Committee is now holding a confirmation hearing for former Senator Chuck Hagel.