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Queen to Sign Equality Pledge; Son Says Final Goodbyes to Mother; South by Southwest Festival Ramps Up; Your Week, Your Opinion

Aired March 10, 2013 - 14:00   ET


FREDRICKA WHITFIELD, CNN ANCHOR: Hello, everyone. I'm Fredricka Whitfield, you're in the CNN NEWSROOM. A look at our top stories right now.

Life for nearly two billion people could change soon. Tomorrow, Britain's Queen Elizabeth will sign a new charter that will affect the entire Commonwealth of Nations. The Commonwealth is a voluntary group of 54 independent nations. The charter the Queen will sign tomorrow promises to fight discrimination in all forms.

It surely will shake things up in countries where women are considered second-class citizens and people are actually imprisoned for being gay.

CNN's royal correspondent Max Foster joining us now from Newberry, England on the telephone.

So, Max, is it clear whether these countries will comply with this charter that will be signed?

MAX FOSTER, CNN ROYAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, it's interesting. Fifty-four countries had to agree to this. They did so in December and tomorrow the Queen will sign it as a formal process really. She's head of the Commonwealth. But she isn't endorsing it personally. This is what 54 countries have agreed. And this is the first time that the Commonwealth has had a single doctrine really setting out the core values of the organization and the aspiration of its members.

Now as you say, it will be an element of this document that opposes all forms of discrimination, whether rooted in gender, race, color, creed, political belief or other grounds. And those other grounds are being set -- the feeling is that that is about sexuality, they don't want to put sexuality in there because some countries involved here actually have -- don't have sexuality laws, so there is some sensitivity about it.

But what this whole exercise really is about is having a core set of values that gets rid of all forms of discrimination and 54 countries have agreed to it and the Queen is signing it. So it does become a formal agreement between these countries.

WHITFIELD: OK. But you did just say that the -- while the Queen is signing it, she isn't endorsing it personally. Isn't signing it essentially endorsing it? FOSTER: Well, it's a formality in the same way she is head of state in the United Kingdom, doesn't have any political role. So she didn't write it and she didn't -- wasn't involved in any of the process leading up to the agreement. And she will be expected to sign whatever they agreed. But she does believe in anti-discrimination rules. She's very pro-women, obviously.

And I do expect her to speak tomorrow after she's signed it. And she will talk about a special emphasis on inclusivity. Everyone involved in this goal, especially those who are vulnerable. So she is throwing her support behind it. But it's not her initiative.

WHITFIELD: OK. Max Foster, thanks so much. This will be the Queen's first time getting out and about after being hospitalized for that stomach bug not long ago.

All right. Back here in the U.S. a horrible accident in Ohio. Six children, all of them teenagers, were killed and two others injured in a single car accident in Warren, Ohio. Police say a Honda SUV went off the road around 7:00 this morning, hit a guardrail and then rolled over into a pond. The investigation into the cause is still ongoing and -- the victims' families are still being notified.

And criticism of the Transportation Security Administration's new rules. Passengers will be able to carry small pocket knives on to airplanes starting April 25th. Some lawmakers are criticizing the TSA's move, including Massachusetts' Representative Ed Markey who says, quote, "In the confined environment of an airplane, even a small blade in the hands of a terrorist can lead to disaster. The additional responsibility of assessing which knives meet the new requirements could be a distraction for already-overburdened screeners at TSA checkpoints," end quote.

His fellow congressman, Steven Lynch, joins the chorus of critics.


REP. STEPHEN LYNCH (D), MASSACHUSETTS: You can't even bring a cup of coffee in many cases on to an airplane. And here we are, allowing small knives? I think it's a bit much.


WHITFIELD: The TSA says the new rules are in line with international regulations.

As thousands of American tourists head to Mexico for spring break, the recently appointed tourism minister of a western Mexican state is killed. He was shot to death by gunmen while driving in his car. Authorities say the attack may have been related to his private business dealings.

And the conclave to elect a new Pope is just two days away now. Today the cardinals celebrated masses in private chapels, cathedrals and basilicas across Rome. They will hold one more pre-conclave meeting tomorrow before casting their first ballot on Tuesday.

A son is desperate to see his dying mom. But before he can be with her, he has to catch a connecting flight with only minutes to spare. Seemed nearly impossible. What happened next is something you'll never forget. It is a CNN exclusive.

And Tiger Woods says he wants to be back on top again. And the way things are going -- and the way he's playing? That just might happen. Details straight ahead.


WHITFIELD: Thousands of stories make headlines every week, but there are few that could stay with you long after they break. And this next story is one of them.

A California man was flying to Texas to say his final good-byes to his dying mother. But the first leg of Kerry Drake's flight got delayed and he knew there was no way he could make his connecting flight to Lubbock, Texas, where his mom was hospitalized. But what happened next was truly amazing and I'll let Carrie fill us in from there. He's joining us now from San Francisco.

Kerry, thanks so much for being with us. And our condolences because I know it's been very tough trying to get to your mom. You did get to her in the nick of time. But really it's the journey of how you got there in the nick of time that's so extraordinary, too.

So you almost missed your flight, knowing you had what was originally going to be like a 40-minute amount of time in order to change planes.


WHITFIELD: The kind that got condensed because of a delayed flight. But then -- what happened that you were able to make that flight?

DRAKE: Sure, so I was on the flight from San Francisco to Houston. Trying to catch the last flight of the day from Houston on Lubbock. And I knew that it was very likely that I might miss that last flight. So I asked the flight attendant if -- you know, I told the flight attendant, Sophia, about, you know, the situation. And so she said she would do everything she could. Well, I guess she did.


You know, after the service and an hour or so later, another flight attendant, Lon (ph), came back and said the pilot was asking for the flight number from my flight from Houston to Lubbock. So I -- guessing what happened next is that they radioed ahead and made sure that everyone along the way was aware of what was happening.

WHITFIELD: And it really was an issue of compassion, wasn't it? Because you really, you know, had fallen to pieces in your seat. Realizing that you're not going to be able to make that connecting flight and that flight attendant saw, you know, you crying and wanted to know what was going on.


WHITFIELD: And you know, from the flight attendant to the pilot, and beyond, everyone was very empathetic and understanding your situation and really wanted to make something happen for you.

DRAKE: And they did. And so that's -- that's why I'm talking to you today is I just, me and my family want to say thank you. And you know, you know, when I realized that they were, you know, trying to help me is when I really became emotional and needed some extra napkins. The compassion was overwhelming.

WHITFIELD: And in the end, at the end of that journey, you were able to make that connecting flight. You heard them over the loudspeaker saying, you know, Mr. Drake, we've been waiting for you. You got on that flight. You were able to get to the hospital to see your mom and really it was a matter of hours in which you had that contact with your mom and that she would pass away, right?

DRAKE: That's right. I got to spend the night with her and my dad in the hospital room that night and about 4:00 a.m. was her last moment of coherence where she woke up and then the following morning she was dead. And had I not made that flight from Houston to Lubbock, I would not have been able to say good-bye.

WHITFIELD: Well, Kerry Drake, thanks so much for sharing your story. So glad you got a chance to be reunited with your mom and have those very precious moments and I know you've been sending --

DRAKE: Thank you.

WHITFIELD: You've been sending out a big thanks to United Airlines and everyone along the way for helping to make it happen. All the best to you.

DRAKE: Thank you, Fredricka, for helping me thank them.

WHITFIELD: All right. Thanks so much.

All right. It may be called the nerd prom? But it's one of the coolest places to be. We take you live to the South by Southwest Festival up next in the NEWSROOM.


WHITFIELD: An ex-boyfriend of former tennis star, Jennifer Capriati, is accusing her of punching and stalking him. Now police in Florida are seeking an arrest warrant for her. Police say Capriati had a run-in with Ivan Brannan Jr. at a gym on Valentine's Day and Brannan says Capriati punched him several times. Capriati's reps call the accusations, quote, "over-exaggerations." They are confident that she will be vindicated. In other sports news, the World Baseball Classic turned ugly this weekend when a huge brawl broke out during a game between Canada and Mexico.

Joe Carter has details in your "Bleacher Report."

JOE CARTER, THE BLEACHER REPORT: All right, so, Fredricka, the fight started actually because Team Mexico thought Team Canada was running up the score on them. We'll explain why in just a second. But here's the video. In the ninth inning, Canada had a six-run lead, Mexico was not happy that Canada's strategy was to add more runs to that lead.

So they intentionally hit Rene Tasoni with a fastball in the back. That's of course when things got very heated. Both teams ran on to the field. Pushing, shoving quickly turned to punches. In all, seven players were ejected.

Now after the game, Canada's manager tried to explain that he wasn't trying to embarrass Mexico by running up the score. But that he was doing it because of the point system in place at the World Baseball Classic. That his team felt like they had to score more runs in order to earn more points so they would have a greater chance of advancing to the next round.


ERNIE WHIT, TAM CANADA COACH: What happened tonight is because of the rulings that they have. Regular baseball, during the season, you'd never see that happening. But because of the run differential that they have, you play it like a 0-0 game the whole time.


CARTER: All right, let's talk a little golf. Tiger Woods started today's final round at Doral with a four-shot lead. On Saturday he was in total command of his golf game again. Even when things could have spun out of control. On the 17th hole, his tee shot turned tree shot. Watch the ball, as it gets stuck right in the palm tree, never comes back down, right there. He was penalized one stroke for that. He would go on to bogey the 17th hole. But on 18th, he fires right back with a beautiful birdie putt.

So after three rounds at Doral, Tiger has carded 24 birdies. That's a personal best for him. He started today's final round four shots ahead of Graeme McDowell and five shots ahead of Phil.

Well, Marquette won a share of the Big East title thanks to a buzzer beat anywhere overtime. Vander Blue -- yes, that's the guy's name. Vander Blue went hard to his right and got the shot to fall right before the buzzer sounded. Marquette beat St. John's, 69-67 in O.T. They now have a share of the Big East title with Georgetown. It's the Golden Eagle's first regular-season championship since joining the conference in 2005.

And Bernard Hopkins, man oh man, this guy just continues to shock the boxing world at 48 years old. He beat his own record to become the oldest boxer to ever win a major title. He beat his opponent who happens to be 17 years younger by unanimous decision.

Our friends at have much more on that fight.

Fredricka, wow, 17 years younger, 48 years old, still going for Bernard Hopkins, back to you.

WHITFIELD: Wow is right. (INAUDIBLE). That's smart. Thanks, Joe.

All right. The South by Southwest Festival is all about geeks and techies showcasing the latest innovations. But you usually don't think politics mixing with technology, do you? Well, this year two senators are teaming up at the event to pitch a bipartisan bill on immigration and innovation.

Our Laurie Segall spoke with Democratic Senator Mark Warner and Republican Senator Jerry Moran about their bill.

It's windy out there. Get inside. Hey, Laurie. Tell me all about the bill.

LAURIE SEGALL, CNNMONEY TECH CORRESPONDENT: It is. Sure. Sure. It's called the Start-up Act 3.0, and it's really about fostering entrepreneurship, fostering job growth. Because, Fredricka, when you think of where are the jobs, we keep hearing more and more in the tech sector.

That being said there are a lot of problems with immigration, with tax incentives. So essentially the bill is aimed at helping those -- specifically in immigration problems because a lot of times you have entrepreneurs that come over to these universities and they can't get a visa to stay and help with job growth.

I asked Senator Warner about this. Listen to what he had to say.


SEN. MARK WARNER (D), VIRGINIA: A number of other countries around the world are seeing an opportunity. Does it make any sense for that, mathematician, engineer, to graduate from Kansas State with a PhD, get job offers everywhere and move to Vancouver because he can't stay in Kansas because our immigration rules prohibit that?

That makes no sense at all. Other countries are getting ahead of us in terms of attracting world-class talent. What we want to do is we've got enormous assets in America in terms of -- I mentioned universities, in terms of access to capital, we've got to win the talent war as well and I think this is a step in the right direction.


SEGALL: Yes, the talent war is something we keep hearing more and more about in the tech community. And essentially this is what they're calling the brain drain. We need the talent to stay over here but we need Washington to help make that happen -- Fredricka.

WHITFIELD: And so how are they going to try and make that happen?

SEGALL: Well look, this is a bipartisan bill. They've got to go -- they've got to get this bill passed. That's not necessarily easy. Especially as we all know, Washington sometimes has a lot of trouble -- a lot of trouble agreeing on immigration reform and that kind of thing. So you know they said they're committed to working together. You know I think what we'll see the proof down the road. We'll see if they're actually able to make this happen because it's definitely an important one for the economy -- Fredricka.

WHITFIELD: All right. Laurie Segall, thanks so much, from a blustery Austin, Texas, today.

SEGALL: Thank you.


WHITFIELD: All right. So how do you feel about whether the next Pope will be in touch with the Catholic people? And what about Hillary Clinton for president in 2016? Or what do you think about Joe Biden for president? It's your week, it's your opinion, and that's next.

But first, Dr. Sanjay Gupta has a preview of what he'll have at 2:30 Eastern Time.

DR. SANJAY GUPTA, HOST, "THE NEXT LIST": Thanks. Coming up on "THE NEXT LIST", neuroscientist Miguel Nicolelis, how he's helping people walk again with mind-controlled machines. These are advances you're going to have to see to believe. That's just ahead on "THE NEXT LIST."


WHITFIELD: At the Vatican, the conclave is set to begin Tuesday and that means we could see a new Pope soon after.

CNN's political editor Paul Steinhauser takes a look at what American Catholics think of changes in the church.

PAUL STEINHAUSER, CNN POLITICAL EDITOR: Hey, Fred. As Catholic cardinals huddle at the Vatican, back at home, most American Catholics are confident that the next Pope will be in touch with their needs. That's according to a recent CBS News poll.

And how does Benedict, who just stepped down as Pope, match up with his predecessor, John Paul II? Most American Catholics say John Paul helped the church while they say that Benedict was a mixed blessing.

Top conservative leaders and activists from across the country gathered here in Washington this week for CPAC, which is the largest and oldest annual conference for conservatives. As they get together new polling provides more evidence that the Republican brand has some problems. More than six in 10 questioned in a Pew Research survey say that the GOP is out of touch with the public. That's 16 points higher than the Democratic Party.


HILLARY CLINTON, FORMER SECRETARY OF STATE: I have absolutely no plans to run.


STEINHAUSER: That's what Hillary Clinton told CNN back in January. As she stepped down as secretary of state. But what if she does run for the White House again? How would she fare against some possible Republican candidates?

A new poll has her topping New Jersey Governor Chris Christie by eight points and leading Senator Marco Rubio of Florida and Congressman Paul Ryan by double digits in hypothetical 2016 presidential showdowns.

If Vice President Joe Biden is the Democratic nominee. The Quinnipiac University survey suggests closer contests. But please take these numbers with a grain of salt, 2016 is still a long way away and early polls such as this one are heavily influenced by name recognition -- Fred.

WHITFIELD: A long way away indeed. Thanks so much, Paul.

All right. We know there are a lot of problems with the U.S. healthcare system. Well, tonight at 8:00 p.m. Eastern Time, CNN examines the powerful forces maintaining the current system.


REP. NANCY PELOSI (D), MINORITY LEADER: The meetings are a good idea because you understand each other better. Not having these meetings is not why we haven't had progress before. We haven't had progress before because the Republicans were committed to blocking the initiatives of President Barack Obama.


WHITFIELD: Watch "Escape Fire: The Fight to Rescue American Healthcare," that's tonight at 8:00 p.m. Eastern.

All right. Here's a look at what's trending online at Nelson Mandela is out of the hospital. The former South African president was released after a successful medical exam and an overnight stay. Doctors say that the scheduled test showed Mandela is doing well. Mr. Mandela is 94 years old and had not appeared in public since 2010.

Another close encounter in space. A researcher said a piece of space debris left over from a 2007 Chinese missile test collided with a Russian satellite. The Russians used it to reflect laser beams but now it's unusable. The collision happened in January, but was only discovered last month.

In this south Atlantic ocean, people who live in the Falkland Island are voting on whether to remain a British overseas territory. Argentina disputes the British sovereignty. The Brits say the islanders have a right to self determination. Britain and Argentina went to war over territory in 1982. Argentina says the vote has no legitimacy.

And a heartbreaking diagnosis for a TV star millions of people love. I'm talking to neurosurgeon about the cancer fight that Valerie Harper is facing right now. And that ban on sugary sodas goes into effect this week in New York. So why are customers getting new rules for their coffee?

That's all coming up in the 4:00 p.m. Eastern hour. Stay right here, I'm Fredricka Whitfield, "THE NEXT LIST" starts right now.