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CPAC Starts; North Korean Threats; Missing Teacher in New Orleans; Samsung Launches S4

Aired March 16, 2013 - 09:00   ET


JOE JOHNS, CNN ANCHOR: Good morning, I'm Joe Johns, in for Victor Blackwell.

SUSAN HENDRICKS, CNN ANCHOR: And I'm Susan Hendricks, in this morning for Randi Kaye. It's 9:00 on the east coast, 6:00 a.m. out west. Thanks so much for starting your morning with us. And we start this hour with a little politics, conservatives at their annual gathering to set the tone for next year, called CPAC, the Conservative Political Action Conference.

JOHNS: And so far they've welcomed the likes of Romney and Rubio as well as Bush and Trump. But today there's another big name on tap, CNN political editor Paul Steinhauser joins me now from CPAC. Paul, who is the headliner today?

PAUL STEINHAUSER, CNN POLITICAL EDITOR: The big headliner coming up in a few hours, Joe, is Sarah Palin, I think you remember her, of course, the 2008 vice presidential nominee on the Republican side, the former Alaska governor. She, you know, Joe, she did not have a lot of impact on the last election last year 2012 but she's still a rock star among a lot of people here on the right at CPAC, which is the Conservative Political Action Conference. You said, it's the largest annual gathering of conservative activists and leaders from across the country. So a lot of people are going to be very interested to hear what she has to say today.

A couple of the big speakers today, Scott Walker, the governor of Wisconsin has become a recent rock star on the right as well as Ben Carson, the neurosurgeon from Baltimore who has really become popular in the last couple of weeks, not a politician but he's even on that straw poll ballot. That's what a lot talk about.

We get the results of that straw poll ballot, Joe, later today. I guess you could say CPAC is the first real cattle call in the race for the White House in 2016 so we'll definitely dissect those numbers when we get them. 23 people on that straw poll ballot, Joe.

JOHNS: OK. So just to be clear the reason why you're almost whispering is because there's somebody right behind you and apparently giving a speech. Look, I've been to this conference before, every time there is some type of a theme. What's the theme that's running through this year's conference?

STEINHAUSER: This year, you could say which way does the Republican Party go? Because they're really coming now, you know, just a few months from losing the presidential election for a second straight time. So people here conservative activists here, Joe, are trying to figure out which way the party goes. Does it moderate, does it try to reach out to independents in the middle or Joe, does it stay true to its conservative roots which a lot of people here want.

Now yesterday Mitt Romney who lost last November's presidential election came here and he touted a lot of people, a lot of governors from those blue states and purple states, he said those are going to be the future leaders of this party and he mentioned two people, Chris Christie from New Jersey and Bob McDonnell from Virginia, neither of whom were even invited here, which is interesting.

Another big speaker last night, Jeb Bush, the former Florida governor. He talked about the future of the party. Take a listen.


JEB BUSH, FORMER FLORIDA GOVERNOR: We must move beyond the divisive and extraneous issues that currently define the public debate. Never again can the Republican Party simply write off entire segments of our society because we assume our principles have limited appeal. They have broad appeal.

All of our successes at the state level and all of the work being done in the private sector that's incredible can be undone if we continue to lose presidential elections. We'll forfeit our ability to chart a better future for our republic. This would be tragic in every sense of the word.


STEINHAUSER: And Joe, Jeb Bush is of course, is somebody who is also thinking about running for president, possibly in 2016 but you know, his name is not on that straw poll ballot. Why? He said 2016 is too far away. He says it's too early for my name to be on such ballots. As you mentioned, proceedings already under way. You got Jenny Beth Martin right now from the Tea Party Patriots speaking behind me. It's going to be an interesting day here. This is part conference and part carnival, Joe?

JOHNS: Absolutely and I think we're really going to have to wait and see just what happens with that straw poll. It's always interesting at CPAC, never too early, I think, to at least start wondering who is going to be up next.

HENDRICKS: Yes, Jeb Bush could throw his name in.

JOHNS: You bet.

HENDRICKS; Not in the straw poll though.

JOHNS: We'll see.

And a programming reminder to watch chief Washington correspondent Jake tapper's new show "The Lead," starting at 4:00 p.m. Eastern Monday right here on CNN. HENDRICKS: Well, the Pentagon is taking threats from North Korea very seriously to the tune of a $1 billion expansion of the missile defense system on the West Coast.

JOHNS: Defense secretary Chuck Hagel says it's necessary for national security. Our Tom Foreman has more on the threat and how the defense system is supposed to work.


TOM FOREMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (on camera): The Pentagon is acknowledging that North Korea is becoming more of a global threat because of the speed at which it is developing its missile program and its nuclear weapon program. So how does the military want to respond to that? At the front line, by going to the Pacific Ocean where the fear is that North Korea on its best day might be able to launch a missile that would go all the way out and hit some parts of the United States.

What are they going to do about that? First of all they want more radar support. they want a new base in Japan here to be tracking on early what's happening. They want to beef up missiles in Alaska and California and of course they want steady monitoring from ships at sea, from airplanes overhead and from satellites, all watching to see if North Korea is going to launch at some point our way.

How would that work? Well if North Korea launches a missile all the early warning systems would send the coordinates of the flight back to these response missiles which would then fire and go up and try to hit it and take it out. Ideally they would like to hit it early on or in the middle and the last resort way over here but what they want is numerous shots added so they can stop it. That's really the goal and they have to have numerous shots because this is fairly new technology and it's not all entirely reliable. As I said, we don't know that the North Koreans at this point can really get a missile to go this far but our ability to intercept it and stop it is also a tricky, tricky thing to pull off.

Look at the things we would use for this, it's a two-stage missile. This is what we would launch out of Alaska or California and it would release something like this. This is called an exoatmospheric kill vehicle. It's made by Raytheon. You see its got little propulsion units around there. It also has an infrared guiding system in the nose and that when it gets released locks in on the nuclear warhead in this missile, and it will guide this in to actually smash into that, at about 17,000 miles an hour and tear it apart. It does not explode, this is about as big as a refrigerator. It just smashes into it and tears it apart.

You can imagine how difficult that is to pull off but this is the technology that we're trying to perfect so that we can stop the North Korean technology if and when they ever get it perfected and actually can threaten the U.S. mainland.


HENDRICKS: Certainly an amazing visual


HENDRICKS: It all give you a sense there.

JOHNS: Like threading a needle from thousands of miles away. That's amazing.

HENDRICKS: Really is. Tom Foreman, our thanks to you.

JOHNS: To New Orleans now where yet another day of searching is taking place, still hasn't turned up any sign of Terrilyn Monette. It's been two weeks since the promising 26-year-old vanished after celebrating her nomination as district teacher of the year.

HENDRICKS: A Houston search firm plans to have more sophisticated sonar equipment on hand to use by Monday to survey area waterways. CNN's Nick Valencia is in New Orleans. And Nick, what are police saying about their efforts to find Terrilyn?

NICK VALENCIA, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Police aren't saying much, at least publicly other than to tell us that they have no new leads in their investigation. As Joe Johns mentioned here today marks exactly two weeks since Terrilyn Monette was last seen.

She was spotted leaving (INAUDIBLE) bar in the lake view area of New Orleans at around 4:00 a.m.. Now investigators are focusing their search in a nearby park. Police tell us they believe this may have been a likely path that Terrilyn used on her way home. Throughout the week investigator will continue searching in the Bayou St. John area and as Susan mentioned they're expected to bring in more high powered higher resolution sonar equipment. Tim Miller, the founding director of Equusearch, that's that independent search and rescue team based in Texas, they came out earlier this week to help with the investigation and the search.

They expect to bring in that high powered sonar device so they can cover more area at a faster rate. I talked to Tim Miller earlier this week and he said he could identify a Coke can at about 1,000 feet. Now these bayous aren't that deep at all, guys, it; about six feet deep at its deepest part and they've been searching and combing these waterways but unfortunately they haven't found any sign of Terrilyn or her car.

HENDRICKS: Tim Miller is certainly focusing, he wants to do what he can. Terrilyn's poor mom is devastated over this. I understand there have been other discoveries in recent days in the bayous and canals around New Orleans, what are those?

VALENCIA: There has been. Equusearch has spotted a handful of cars, at least eight cars from what they tell us but these cars, Susan, they likely been there since Hurricane Katrina. They've gathered (INAUDIBLE) on them. They have no I.D. on exactly if these cars, they're not related at all to Terrilyn Monette's vehicle whatsoever. And also yesterday a body washed ashore on the industrial canal, it's completely unrelated with the Terrilyn Monette investigation. We're still waiting to hear more details on that but so far, just no new leads in this investigation and this family is desperately clinging to hope, they have no answers right now.

JOHNS: Nick Valencia, thanks for that report.

HENDRICKS: Well, lawmakers in North Dakota passed what could be some of the strictest abortion laws in the nation if they are signed into law. One bill bans abortions after a heartbeat is detected, which is normally about six weeks. The only exception would be if the pregnancy endangers the mother's life, no exception for rape or incest. Another bill bans abortion on the basis of gender or genetic defects. The ACLU is calling on North Dakota through Republican governor to veto that bill.

JOHNS: Listen up all you tech fans, Samsung's new Galaxy S4 is finally here, it could be the next big thing to dethrone the iPhone from its reign. Well, maybe so. Maybe not. We'll walk you through all the cool features.


HENDRICKS: Move over iPhone, Samsung just released a new smartphone. It hopes an take the top spot from Apple here in the U.S.. Zain Asher was at Radio City Music Hall in New York for that debut and gives us an inside look.

ZAIN ASHER, CNN CORRESPONDENT: We're here at Radio City Music Hall for the launch event of Samsung Galaxy S4 phone. 4,000 people showed up to this event, much hype. Let me just show you what the phone actually looks like. I've got it in my hand in case you're wondering. It's pretty thin, it's relatively light. It's got a five-inch screen, all the better for viewing quality.

One of the cool features about this phone is that you can actually scroll through pictures on this phone using nothing but your hand. So you simply wave your fingers over the sensors above the phone and you can actually scroll through pictures.

Another thing is the tilting picture, you can actually tilt to scroll up and down as well but what is getting people hyped is the camera feature. You can actually delete people from a photograph you don't want be in your photograph. For example, if I take a picture of something and I have another person in the picture walking past, a stranger at an event or something that I don't want to be in the picture I can actually click on that person and actually delete them from the photograph.

Also the phone has rear cameras and front facing cameras that actually can be used at the same time. So I can take a photograph of something and have myself be in the photograph as well, pretty cool stuff. Certainly we anticipate this is going to be a huge threat to Apple. We don't know right now is how much this device is actually going to cost. We're hearing that it's going to be roughly in the same ball park as the Samsung Galaxy S3, so roughly around $200. We don't quite know yet for sure but we will keep you posted.

Back to you.

HENDRICKS: Looks like a pretty good deal. Zain Asher, thanks so much.

JOHNS: For more now on Samsung's latest iPhone, we want to bring in someone who has actually had a chance to play around with it.

HENDRICKS: Mark Spoonauer is the editor-in-chief of and he joins this morning us from New York.

JOHNS: OK. Mark, now you've now had the phone, you've been able to fool around with it a little bit. What do you think?

MARK SPOONAUER, EDITOR-IN-CHIEF, LAPTOPMAG.COM: Well I think there's a lot of wow features inside this phone as you just showed. And I think that's really is what it's coming down to is it's not so much about specs anymore and the size of the screen. That's important. I think it's about what your phone can do and what it's going to compel someone to buy your phone versus someone else's and it really comes down to some of the new features.

HENDRICKS: And Mark, is it true that the big thing that people are talking about is the ability to use your eyes to control the screen? Does that work?

SPOONAUER: Yes, it does. It works in a couple of ways. So one thing that you mentioned is the scrolling, so if you're looking at a piece of content it follows your eyes and then you tilt the device in your hand so you can look up and down at a web article without even touching the screen. The other thing that's cool is if you're watching a video and you look away and then you come back it pauses when you look away and it automatically resumes when your eyes go back to the screen.

HENDRICKS: That's freaky.

JOHNS: Wow, that's kind of spooky, isn't it? What is your favorite thing about the Galaxy S4 so far?

SPOONAUER: There's probably two things, one is the gesture support, so not only can you use it for going back and forth through pictures but for me if I'm doing the dishes at home and I don't want to touch the screen with my wet hands I can fast forward through tracks just by going like this in front of the camera and it also works in the car so if a call is coming through you just wave your hand and it automatically goes into speakerphone mode so you can keep your eyes on the road.

HENDRICKS: Next thing that's going to happen, it's going to read your mind.

JOHNS: Right. Surely eye identification, you know, like you see in the movies.

HENDRICKS: If your friends are looking at your phone. OK. All right, Mark, you have some complaints about the phone as well. Tell us about those. SPOONAUER: Sure, there's a couple of things. One is that even though the design is very thin and light, it does have a plastic built quality and some people are complaining about that especially iPhone fans, they are used to the sort of glass and aluminum but they are keeping the weight down. So that's the trade off. You want a big screen and a thin, light body you're going have to put up with the plastic design. The other thing is just there are so many features inside this phone that I think it should come with a glossary but it's going to make our jobs a lot easier. Because on day one we'll have all sorts of how to videos.

JOHNS: All right. So the bottom line question now, you've seen this thing, you see how it works, iPhone for those of you the gold standard, is it better than an iPhone?

SPOONAUER: In terms of features, I think right now Samsung is in the lead and I think it is that wow factor that's going to cause a lot more people to jump ship.

HENDRICKS: So the last question here, you had to give the tester phone back to Samsung but Mark, would you buy another one? Would you buy one?

SPOONAUER: I think so. I want to spend more time with it. I'm especially concerned about battery life. Because the more that a phone can do you want to make sure it's going to last all day on a charge. So once we put it through our test of the site, for sure. I love the iPhone5 but I really think that the S4 is one to watch for 2013.

HENDRICKS: Mark wants a second date with the phone.

JOHNS: Clearly, he does. Battery life, though, how -- is the battery life really good on the iPhone 5?

SPOONAUER: It depends on how you are using it but there's been a lot of people who complained about it. What I do like about the iPhone 5 is that there's a ton of accessories out there like the (INAUDIBLE) where you just plug it in and it's like a case that doubles as a battery. What I do like about the S4 is that unlike the iPhone the back is removable so you can carry around an extra battery with you.

JOHNS: That's a good idea.

SPOONAUER: So I think that's really important.

HENDRICKS: I heard you can also delete people from certain photos, so no more photo bombing, because you can tap it and then -

JOHNS: Done, you're fired.

HENDRICKS: Yes, I like that aspect, right, Mark?

SPOONAUER: Yes, it is cool. The eraser feature you have to engage it before you take the picture so you can't do it after the fact and it only works for moving objects so if someone walks through your photo you can get rid of them but someone standing in there like an in-law you don't like you can't erase that.

HENDRICKS: Mother-in-law gone. Mark Spoonauer of, thank you so much.

JOHNS: All right. Now, take a look at this 600-year-old tiny discovery. We'll tell why scientists are calling it and why they say it proves there was trade between China and Eastern Africa many years earlier than thought.


HENDRICKS: In some cultures female genital mutilation remains a gruesome rite of passage. One of more than 140 million girls and women have endured, worldwide, being cut often means the end of schooling, but this week's CNN hero refused to accept that fate, the practice now illegal in her homeland of Kenya, still persists in some rural areas but (INAUDIBLE) is challenging that tradition giving girls the chance to shape their own destinies. Take a look here.


KAKENYA NTAIYA, COMMUNITY WORKER: I avoided the ceremony as far as I could. Most of the Massai girls (INAUDIBLE) are mutilated when they are 12. I really like going to school. I knew that once I go through the cutting, I am going to be married of and my dream of becoming a teacher was going to end.

My mind said run away and I had to face my dad and said I would only go through the cutting if he lets me go back to school.

It was done in the morning using a very old recipe knife with no anesthesia. I can never forget that day.

Eventually, I was the first girl in my community to go to college in the U.S.. I am Kakenya Ntaiya and I returned to my village, set up a school for girls so that they too can achieve their full potential.

When girls start at our school they are very shy but over time, we see them very confident.

How are you, girls?


NTAIYA:: They're doing very well. It's the most exciting thing. Our work is about empowering the girls. These girls they know being cut, they're dreaming of becoming lawyers, teachers, doctors, fathers. Fathers say my daughter will do better than my son.

Why should you work hard? To achieve your goals.

I came back for the girls in my community don't have to negotiate like I did to achieve their dream. That's why I wake up every morning.

(END VIDEO CLIP) JOHNS: A new report says there are 300,000 new millionaires in the U.S.. A report on what's causing the boom, coming up next.


JOHNS: As stocks rise so has the number of millionaires in America. New report finds the U.S. added 300,000 more millionaires last year and now there are almost nine million millionaires in the country. That's how many there were before the recession.

The financial consulting firm Spectrum says the stock rebound helped a lot of households recover wealth but not all of America is benefiting from stock market gains. Overall worth has gone down more than 12 million people are unemployed and the Census Bureau says half of Americans are poor.

HENDRICKS: A tiny discovery could have big implications about the way we think about world exploration. A few centuries ago scientists based at Chicago's Field Museum has unearthed this - a 600-year-old coin off the coast of Kenya. They say it proves that there was trade between China and Eastern Africa decades before Europeans have mapped Africa's coast.

Now the copper and silver coin has a square hole possibly to keep it on a belt, they're thinking. It was issued by an emperor in the Ming "Dynasty," who is instrumental in constructing Beijing's Forbidden City.

In our next hour we're going to meet a four-year-old boy with a rare eye condition who just achieved a big milestone. You don't want to miss that. Thanks so much for watching today. I'll see you back her at the top of the hour.

JOHNS: "YOUR BOTTOM LINE" starts right now.