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Uniformed Gunman Kills Troops; Vatican Preps For Papal Conclave; Report: Blast Injured Five Firefighters; New York City To Ban Big, Sugary Drinks; Ryan Revives Obamacare Challenge; Foreclosed Homeowners Buying Again; Snow Leaves Roads Icy In Iowa; South Korea, U.S. Begin Military Drills; Crue's Vince Neil Hospitalized; Two Years Since Deadly Quake, Tsunami; Facebook's COO Ruffles Feathers; Open Cage Door Leads To Death; Six Teens Killed In Ohio Crash

Aired March 11, 2013 - 10:00   ET



CAROL COSTELLO, CNN ANCHOR: Happening now in the NEWSROOM, six teenagers killed in a car crash. Police say they were speeding and should not have been driving that SUV.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We got to come together out here as a community because we can't just lose each other like this.


COSTELLO: Plus, the red curtains are up, the chimney installed, the vote on a new pope about to begin. Could America's rock star cardinal be tops on their list?


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It's disheartening to come out here and see all this marine debris in an area otherwise so remote.


COSTELLO: And it was two years ago today the earthquake and tsunami hit Japan. The crisis isn't over yet. It's arrived on our beaches and our dinner plates.

Also --


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: When it comes to ambition to lead, to be the leader of whatever you're doing, men outnumber women.


COSTELLO: Facebook coo Sheryl Sandberg and her feminist call to arms, but are women buying her message to lean in? In three words, not so much. You're live in the CNN NEWSROOM. Good morning. Thank you so much for being with us. I'm Carol Costello. We begin this morning in Afghanistan where 66,000 U.S. troops are on duty and on edge. This morning, a gunman wearing an Afghan uniform opened fire on NATO and Afghan service members.

We now know that Americans are among those killed, but exact numbers have not yet been released. Now this insider attack is the latest violence and comes amid deepening tensions, and a visit from the new Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel.

CNN's Nick Payton Walsh is in Beirut with more on this latest attack. Good morning.

NICK PATON WALSH, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Carol, NATO confirming two dead Americans, but as you said the exact number unknown. There are, apparently, some Afghan soldiers among the killed and injured as well, and perhaps some NATO injuries.

This happens in vitally important place though, Wardak Province, the details of the attack unclear. But it happened on the day in which President Karzai had ordered U.S. Special Forces to leave that province.

After allegations in the last month, they've been both denied by NATO and had been involved in the murder of an Afghan militia working on their behalf. So a deeply tense time this attack comes, but also, as you mentioned, just on the heels of Chuck Hagel's first visit to Kabul, U.S. secretary of defense there.

Seemed keen to build a good relationship with President Hamid Karzai, but finding the Afghan leader very stridently saying that he believed a recent attack was the result of U.S. Taliban colluding to try and maintain violence in the country to justify a longer term U.S. presence.

The accusations, of course, NATO dismissed out of hand, but it really brings to the floor the real tension here. President Karzai is facing a very tough challenge in the months and years ahead as he tries to get his successor into the presidential palace.

And perhaps he's banking on being an anti-American as a way of shoring up popular support in Afghanistan after this long NATO campaign, but really a visit that some nothing apart from highlight the increasing differences between Washington and Kabul -- Carol.

COSTELLO: Nick Paton Walsh reporting live from Beirut this morning.

Now let's head to the Vatican and the countdown to tomorrow's expected first vote on choosing the next pope. This morning, red curtains now hang from the central balcony at St. Peter's Basilica that's where the new pope will be announced and then make his first appearance.

And this American is among the dozen or so leading candidates for pope. New York's Cardinal Timothy Dolan is literally mobbed by well wishers in a scene worthy of a rock star. Dolan also enjoyed a warm reception from a standing-room only crowd when he said mass yesterday. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Your Eminence, you got applause inside the church.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I was wondering what was it you said?

DOLAN: Did you all get a copy?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes, but you said something and they applauded.

DOLAN: I said there's a great crowd here. Let's do two collections. We do it in New York.


COSTELLO: CNN's Chris Cuomo is in Rome at St. Peter's Square. Chris, you chatted briefly with Archbishop Dolan. Is he a real contender?


COSTELLO: Cardinal Dolan, I'm sorry.

CUOMO: Yes, Cardinal Dolan. We have to get that right. He has been comedically dismissive of his chances. You know, he had said early on, anyone who thinks I could be pope, those people have been smoking marijuana.

Yesterday he said he was ready to get home because he needed socks and he says he wants green socks because St. Patricks Day is coming up. But he's been using levity for this. He only got serious when he talked about the excitement of this being his first conclave and that he believes very much so in the hopes of the future of the church.

You know, Carol, I want to bring in John Allen, our senior Vatican analyst here because, you know, while it's exciting for us as Americans, John, to talk about Americans in the mix for being pope is not completely farfetched this time, true?

JOHN ALLEN, CNN SENIOR VATICAN ANALYST: No, I mean, I think that is the novelty of the conclave of 2013, for the very first time historically it's plausible even if not maybe probable, but plausible to think we might get an American pope.

You know, Chris, the old taboo used to be you can't have a superpower pope because half the world would think whatever he does is being scripted from an underground chamber in the CIA.

But, you know, we live in a different world in the 21st Century. America is no longer the only superpower and besides we now have some guys that are striking a number of other cardinals as possible popes.

CUOMO: It's interesting to explain especially to the American audience that unlike traditional politics where when you have a neck and neck battle between two candidates, there's usually a compromise position between those two. Here, if the two main candidates don't get it done, you may go to an entirely third new person, right?

ALLEN: Well, let's remember what happened in 1978, the second conclave that gave us John Paul II, there were two very strong Italian contenders going into that conclave, Cardinals Bernelli and Siri. They each had strong support, but neither one of them could get across the magic two-thirds threshold.

And so what happened in that gridlock is the cardinals in the conclave went shopping for somebody else and gave us the cardinal of Crack Allan Poland (inaudible) who took the world by storm as John Paul II. There are a number of handicappers who think we might see a similar scenario play out this time.

CUOMO: And that for all the discouragement we get about this not being about the horse trading and the gamesmanship that this is about the Holy Spirit, there is a lot of thought into who this should be and why. We hear the Italian, obviously, and the Brazilian very much. Why these two men and what makes it make sense they should be favorites?

ALLEN: Well, I think you also have to throw Cardinal Mark Ruelette from Canada into that mix. I think those three guys certainly will have strong support in the early ballots, why? Well, because what the cardinals seem to be wanting in this conclave are three things out of the next pope, a global vision, a capacity to evangelize, meaning get people excited about the faith.

And third, the capacity to govern, to lead a serious reform of the Vatican bureaucracy and each one of these three guys, in his own way, seems to put these three qualities together. Problem, Chris, is that no one of them perfectly incarnates that wish list. So these cardinals are going to have to take a tough look and see which particular cluster of qualities seems to come the closest.

CUOMO: John, thank you very much. We're going to be talking a lot about this. Carol, you know, John was telling me before this is also unusual these cardinals are more concerned what change they are going to get than who will be the change agent. So we are going to have to see what happens here. It will be an exciting process for sure -- Carol.

COSTELLO: Yes, and it all starts tomorrow. Chris Cuomo, thanks so much.

Other stories we're watching this morning, dramatic video of an explosive back draft in injury. Firefighters called to a fire at an apartment building when that explosion occurred. Five firefighters reportedly injured. None of them seriously, although one had extensive cuts from flying glass, as you can imagine.

Starting tomorrow, New York City begins its ban on big sugary soft drinks. The ban limits the size of drinks to 16 ounces. Mayor Michael Bloomberg's controversial move is designed to reduce obesity rates and covers everything from restaurants and theatres to fastfood joints and food carts.

As he gets ready to submit his budget plan tomorrow, Representative Congressman Paul Ryan is reviving a familiar fight, Obamacare. As the Republican chair of the House Budget Committee, Ryan isn't pulling any punches.


CHRIS WALLACE, FOX NEWS: Are you saying as part of your budget you will repeal Obama care?


WALLACE: That's not going to happen.

RYAN: Well, we believe it should. That's the point. This is what budgeting's all about, Chris. It's about making tough choices to fix our country's problems.


COSTELLO: Ryan's budget plan would balance revenue and spending within 10 years.

Here are some hopeful signs on the housing front. Many of the 5 million people who lost their homes due to foreclosure are actually starting to buy again. So let's bring in Alison Kosik, she is at the New York Stock Exchange to talk more about this. Good morning.

ALISON KOSIK, CNN BUSINESS CORRESPONDENT: Good morning, Carol. Low interest rates that we have right now are clearly helping because, of course, making it easier to borrow money, but especially for people who are looking to buy homes after they lost their last home to foreclosure.

Here's why. Because, you know, when you have late payments on mortgages, when you have to foreclosure on your house, when you sell at a short sale, all of that messes up your credit big time and foreclosure really hurts your credit score. In fact, it can knock up to 160 points right off of your credit score.

So if you've got a lower credit score that means you're at a higher risk of default and that means you have to pay a higher interest rate sometimes an interest rate that's really sky high. But there's plenty of evidence now, Carol, that foreclosed home owners are coming back into the market now.

Typically, you know, banks making them wait anywhere up to seven years, the penalty box, before they approve a new mortgage. But lenders right now are really trying to work with people to help bring them back into the market sooner than the seven years.

They are actually taking into account extenuating circumstances that caused the foreclosure like maybe a divorce, layoff, major health issue or other one-time events. So lenders, they are being a little bit more sensitive as these former home owners who had a really rocky time are trying to get back in -- Carol.

COSTELLO: Alison Kosik live at the New York Stock Exchange.

Coming up in the NEWSROOM, Japan remembers a national tragedy, a deadly earthquake and tsunami two years ago today sending tons of debris into the ocean. Even now, Japan's toxic garbage is littering Hawaii's coastline.


COSTELLO: Just about 15 minutes past the hour, time to check our top stories. Heavy snow still causing travel problems across parts of Iowa this morning, dozens of cars slid of icy roads and into ditches in the western part of that state. Storms now moving to Michigan, it's expected to dump about a half foot of snow by this afternoon.

North Korea's Army declares the armistice agreement ending the Korean War invalid. That's according to a state newspaper. It comes as South Korea and the United States begin military exercises. The drill's scheduled to last two months and involve 3,000 U.S. troops. North Korea calls the drills an open declaration of war and is threatening military action.

Motley Crue lead singer Vince Neil is recovering from kidney stone surgery this morning. He was hospitalized yesterday after he walked off stage in a concert in Sydney. Guitarist, Nikki Sixx said Neil was doubled over in his dressing room 5 minutes until show time and tried to play through the pain. Neil is 52 years old.

It was one of the biggest disasters in history, March 11, 2011, a devastating earthquake and tsunami hit Japan. Close to 16,000 people died, and this morning, at the exact time that quake struck, Japan's emperor led the nation in a moment of silence.

You remember these iconic images, rivers and streams filled with debris. Two years later, the garbage is still washing up on American shores. Here's Kyung Lah.

KYUNG LAH, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Carol, it was two years ago when I was in Japan and the 9.0 earthquake struck. Hundreds of acres of debris sucked into the Pacific Ocean, schools, houses, entire cities. Well, that debris has been swirling through the Pacific making its way to the continental U.S. and now here to Hawaii, debris like part of this beer crate from Japan.


LAH (voice-over): Slamming the shores of one of Hawaii's most remote beaches, debris, big and small covering every inch of the beach coastline. The foreign markings tell where some of it comes from.

(on camera): These are definitely from Japan. This is some type of pickle. That's definitely Japanese.

(voice-over): Hawaii Wildlife Fund's Megan Lamson has seen debris from Japan hit at a growing rate since fall like a refrigerator with Japanese on the temperature dial, large buoys, even an intact fishing boat from Japan.

Sucked into the Pacific on that horrifying day two years ago, traveling through the pacific, volunteers like HWF have been fighting the already big problem of marine debris only made worse with the 1.5 million tons of floating tsunami debris.

MEGAN LAMSON, HAWAII WILDLIFE FUND: It's disheartening to come out here and see all this marine debris in an area that's otherwise so remote. Debris that's washing up from other countries.

LAH: This is not just a litter problem. Look at what's inside this albatross, a sea bird found dead, plastics fill its body. David Hyrenback and his team are researching the alarming rate of debris and the birds.


LAH (on camera): It is filled with plastic.

(voice-over): This is a stomach of a two-month old albatross.

(on camera): Is that part of a drain?

HYRENBACH: Maybe, it's a brush, look at that, you see?

LAH (voice-over): About 80 percent of this baby bird's stomach is indigestible plastic, fed this by its parents who confused it for food.

HYRENBACH: Morally, this is terrible. How is this possible, right? I mean, majestic, far ranging, beautiful birds, right, in a pristine place of the North Pacific. Then you open them up and this is, you know, what you find.

LAH: Hyrenbach says every single bird he's opened up had some sort of plastic, some large ones like these toys and lighters in the adult birds.

HYRENBACH: So it goes way beyond the albatross.

LAH: It's also in our fish. NOAA Fisheries biologist is cutting into the stomach of a lancet fish. It may look scary, but this is what yellow fin and big eye tuna eat, the tuna that ends up on your plate.

(on camera): What is that black thing?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: That is a plastic bag.

LAH: Like a grocery bag?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Just like garbage bag.

LAH: Nearly half of the lancet fish Jan's cut into had plastic.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: One thing that is a concern that we don't know is if chemicals are absorbed into the tissue of the fish, which is a problem if it's going to be eaten by other fish that we consume.

LAH: A disaster still in the making now widening its reach.


LAH: The environmental activists here in Hawaii say there's nothing they can do about the tsunami debris, just clean up the beaches, but they do say if they look around here, they notice a lot of bottle caps for disposable plastic bottles. There is something they want the consumers to use, just use less plastic -- Carol.

COSTELLO: Kyung Lah reporting this morning.

Eight teenagers crammed into an SUV that seats only five. Police say they were speeding down a two-lane road and only some of them were wearing seat belts. Trip ended in tragedy. We'll take you live to Ohio for an update.


COSTELLO: Now is your chance to talk back on one of the big stories of the day. The question for this morning, will the Obama charm offensive work? President Obama is pouring on the charm, at least what passes for charm on Capitol Hill.

This week the president will make the 15-minute drive from the White House to Capitol Hill to visit lawmakers face-to-face, mano e mano, all in an effort to improve relations and modify those forced spending cuts. Republicans, well, say they are not totally charmed.


REP. KEVIN MCCARTHY (R-CA), HOUSE MAJORITY WHIP: I believe any time that both parties are talking, it's a good thing. Now, this should have happened four years ago. I'm glad it's happening now, but is this about politics or is this genuine?


MCCARTHY: Only time will tell.


COSTELLO: What's not so charming is the gamesmanship. Yes. That has not stopped. Republican Congressman Louis Gohmert introduced a bill making it illegal for the president to use federal funds to play golf that is unless the White House resumes its tours for tourists.


REP. LOUIE GOHMERT (R), TEXAS: We'll be able to get the Democrats and Republicans across America, people that don't even have a party because they are just Americans. They'll be able to get their tour of the White House and all it will cost is one or two golf trips less.

(END VIDEO CLIP) COSTELLO: Of course, Obama hasn't even played golf since the automatic cuts took effect. Still, one-time Republican Michael Bloomberg fired back in his Bloomberg kind of way.


MAYOR MICHAEL BLOOMBERG (I), NEW YORK: I find it fascinating people criticize him for taking people to dinner. He should be doing that every night. They criticized him for going and playing golf with people who he's got to deal with. He should be doing that every weekend. You always can work better with somebody that you have a chance to build a social relationship with.


COSTELLO: And while politicians bicker over dinner dates and golf, the full effects of those spending cuts are yet to come, but hope springs eternal, right? Talk back today, will the Obama charm offensive work? or tweet me @carolcnn.

Just ahead in the NEWSROOM, is the women's movement stalled, is feminism dead? One of the biggest names in tech thinks so, Sheryl Sandberg ruffling some feathers. You'll hear from her next.


COSTELLO: Good morning. I'm Carol Costello. Thank you so much for being with me. Checking our top stories, just about 30 minutes past the hour, tomorrow, 115 Catholic cardinals set to cast their first vote for the next pope.

Red curtains now hang from the central balcony at St. Peter's Basilica, where the new pope will be announced and make his first appearance. New York Cardinal Timothy Dolan is among the dozen or so leading candidates.

Sheryl Sandberg, the Facebook COO, pushing a new kind of feminist agenda.


SHERYL SANDBERG, COO, FACEBOOK: I'm not suggesting women aren't ambitious. Plenty of women are ambitious as men, what I am saying, and I want to say it unequivocally and unapologetically, the data is clear, when it comes to ambition to lead, to be the leader of whatever you're doing, men, boys, outnumber girls and women.


COSTELLO: She makes those comments in her new book, "Lean In." Her ideas and advice are proven to be polarizing, though critics say she guided to the top thanks to the help of powerful men like former Treasury Secretary Larry Summers and Google Chairman Eric Schmidt.

We now know that a caged door was left open leading to the killing of a young woman in California. Police say Diana Hanson, an intern at Cat Haven, a wild animal sanctuary, was cleaning another cage when the lion attacked.

In her mother's first statement, Donna Anderson said, quote, "I'm living the worst nightmare in losing a cherished child. Her legacy will live on in the support of conservancies such as Project Survival's Cat Haven.

In Warren, Ohio, a community reeling after a tragic accident, six teenagers died when their SUV veered off a road, flipped over, and rolled into a pond. Eight had crammed into a vehicle that only seats five. Some had seat belts on. Police say the car was speeding down a two-lane road and then this.


LT. BRIAN HOLT, OHIO STATE PATROL: As far as the vehicle is concerned, our preliminary investigation shows that none of the occupants of the vehicle had expressed permission to be in possession of the vehicle. However, no reports have been filed or anything of that nature at this time.


COSTELLO: Brian Todd is in Warren, Ohio, outside of Cleveland where a news conference has just wrapped up. What can you tell us?