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U.S. Woman Raped on Bus in Brazil; N. Korea Restarting Nuclear Reactor; Family Sues Over Jackson's Death; Venezuelan Elections Begin; Airpocalypse in China; Apple Apologizes to Millions of Customers; New York Realtors Schmooze Doormen for Info

Aired April 2, 2013 - 12:00   ET



MICHAEL HOLMES, CNN ANCHOR: And I'm Michael Holms. Hello, everyone.

Let's begin in Syria today.

MALVEAUX: Shocking and disturbing. That is the only way to describe this. A Syrian activist group says 6,000 people died in March. That is the deadliest month so far in the two-year civil war.

HOLMES: But the number, believe it or not, could be, and probably is, even higher. The United Nations says it is hard to account for many of the people because they have been killed in prisons or just disappear.

MALVEAUX: Want to get to the markets. We saw the Dow Jones hit a record trading high as soon as it opened this morning. The next number everybody is watching for is where is it going to close at the end of the day. For now you see it there. It's up 96 points. Yesterday was a quiet trading day because of the long holiday weekend.

HOLMES: Yes. Things are going to get busier this week as we head towards Friday's jobs report. But green arrows all over the Dow.

In Sydney, Australia, the world famous Sydney Opera House lighting up in blue. Why? Well, to mark World Autism Day. Just one of several landmarks being used around the world to raise awareness.

MALVEAUX: According to Autism Australia, one in 110 Australians have some form of the disorder. Now here in the United States, the figure is one in 88. Later this hour, we're going to have a story of three mothers fighting to get insurance coverage for their children with autism.

HOLMES: Want to take you to Rio de Janeiro now where we now know it was an American woman who was the victim of that brutal attack there. She was raped and robbed. A man with her, a Frenchman, was beaten and robbed.

MALVEAUX: So the whole thing, this happened on a public mini bus. This was near the city's famous Copacabana Beach area. Police also say they have made a third arrest in connection with this attack. Want to bring our Shasta Darlington in, who's in Sao Paulo, Brazil.

What do we know about this third individual?

SHASTA DARLINGTON, CNN CORRESPONDENT: That's right, Suzanne. We should remind our viewers that two men were arrested this weekend shortly after this horrific crime. And they've arrested now a third suspect last flight. And it's interesting, part of the way they were able to locate him was using surveillance video because these men stole the credit cards of the two tourists and went from gas station to gas station taking out cash. So the surveillance cameras at the gas station helped police locate these suspects. The third suspect was arrested in a city almost an hour away from Rio de Janeiro.

And this is just -- this crime is continuing to have repercussions throughout the country. Not only because of these huge international events coming. We've talked about this before. Pope Francis will be here in just three months. And millions of young people expected to flock to Rio de Janeiro for World Youth Day, to hear his sermons, to enjoy the celebration. Then World Cup. And, of course, Rio will host the Olympic games in 2016.

But there's a bigger issue that's beginning to play out as well, and that's the city's historic problem with crime and the feeling from some that they're only really taking notice now because foreigners were attacked. What about all of the Brazilians who've been at risk in the past.

Suzanne. Michael.

HOLMES: Yes, I was just going to ask you that. Let's be real about this. This is getting publicity because it was an American woman and a French man. And that must be irking local people who have had similar things happen and got a whole lot less reaction from authorities.

DARLINGTON: Exactly, Michael. We've had some horrible cases already. One woman came forward after the first two suspect were arrested to say, hey, those two men are the men who raped me in very similar circumstances just a week before. And this woman had gone to the police, she'd had to wait three hours to get into the hospital to do an AIDS test. And so she came forward and said, you know, I've reported this and nothing was done. Maybe, maybe if you'd helped me, these people wouldn't have suffered the same fate.

Now, as a result of that, the Rio police chief, who is a woman, has already fired two people. She's fired the police commissioner in charge of women's affairs. And also the police officer in charge of the medical hospital where this woman saw such huge delays and, unfortunately, she said the two police officers that she has fired are women. And she's just embarrassed and apologized that this is happening, that they have not been able to further, you know, their cause for women in Rio de Janeiro.


HOLMES: Disgraceful really. MALVEAUX: Thank goodness they are -- they're trying to do something about this. Finally doing something about this. Shasta, thank you very much. We appreciate it.

We are also following this story. After week of threatening the United States and its allies as well, North Korea now saying that it is going to put some action behind those threats.

HOLMES: Yes, the isolated country says it's going to restart a nuclear reactor it actually shut down more than five years ago. That has South Korea on alert and the U.N. on edge. People around the world waiting to see what happens next.

MALVEAUX: And though the United States has stepped up its military presence, senior U.S. officials, they are downplaying this threat. I want to bring in our own Christiane Amanpour, who joins us from New York.

But, Christiane, you were there -- you were a part of this group and the CNN crew that was in North Korea that witnessed destroying that cooling tower, that nuclear plant, back in 2008. Did you ever imagine that this thing would be fired up again?

CHRISTIANE AMANPOUR, CNN CHIEF INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, look, it's really hard to see what's go on right now because there's so many questions. We were there five years ago when they showed us around Yongbyon, the very plant that they're talking about restarting. We actually saw them literally take things down and mothball them, wrap them up in saran wrap, if you like, and disable the vital functioning of the Yongbyon plutonium reprocessing plant.

We also then were invited back several months later in June and we watched them blow up the cooling tower, the very visible attribute of a nuclear power plant, and the essential -- part of the essential attributes of making that plant work and enabling that reprocessing of the plutonium. So now we see that they're talking about restarting it.

American officials and other scientists who we're hearing from say that they do not know how quickly or how well they could do that, but they may have built, the North Koreans, another plutonium reprocessing plant somewhere else and they may also have uranium enrichment plants. So all of these questions still remain to be answered.

In the meantime, the U.S., I talked to the chief Pentagon press secretary yesterday, and he had this to say about the maneuverings.


GEORGE LITTLE, PENTAGON PRESS SECRETARY: Well, we haven't seen any kind of troop movement on the North Korea side that would indicate imminent military action. So we think that things may be dialing down just a bit on the Korean peninsula. At least we hope so. Naturally, we're prepare for any contingency with our South Korean allies.

(END VIDEO CLIP) AMANPOUR: So a lot of this show of military might that the United States has been deploy to the region over the last several days and weeks is, as George Little said, designed to inspire confidence in their allies and to show the North that they are determined and capable should the North try anything.

The question is, will they? What remains me now of what's going on is, according to U.S. officials, the North is trying to be accepted as a nuclear power, to be dealt with, with the United States and by the United States and other key powers, as a legitimate nuclear power. And this reminds me of what Iran went through starting in 2005, determined that the world will deal with them as a nuclear power. Now, they say they're not after nuclear weapons, but that they insist on their right to enrichment. The North, apparently, is insisting on its right to be dealt with as a nuclear weapons power.

HOLMES: Christiane, you know, the -- when you look at, OK, what can be done there. You've got Ban Ki-moon, the U.N. secretary-general, saying it's gone too far, but diplomacy is the answer. This is one of the more sanctioned countries on earth. It doesn't seem to be working, does it?

AMANPOUR: Well, you're absolutely right. This is one of most sanctioned countries on earth. And yet this stuff continues. And the last couple of tests, you know, now they've tested three nuclear devices. They've done missiles. They've put a satellite in orbit. All of this shows that no matter how the sanctions are going, they are managing to move forward with their program. How much forward, how much capability, that is still a question that is unanswered and people, you know, are still having to figure that out. But you're right, what is the way to really stop this?

Now, the U.S. and others have told me that what they want to do is hope that China, which is practically the only country with leverage over North Korea, will bring its ally into line and continue to be a force for stability in North Korea and on the Korean peninsula. You know, we haven't yet seen a huge amount of that success from China exerting that kind of influence on North Korea, although we do see increased frustration by China over what the North is doing.

MALVEAUX: All right, Christiane, thank you very much. Appreciate it.

We've heard the Chinese officials today saying that they are worried about this news, that they're actually firing this thing --


MALVEAUX: Potentially firing this thing back up. That this is not good.

HOLMES: Exactly. And they, as Christiane points out, they're the ones who can turn off the tap, the faucet literally for the fuel oil that keeps the country running. So they are the ones who do have leverage. Because the other sanctions, they're not working.

MALVEAUX: Yes, not working at all. HOLMES: Yes.

MALVEAUX: In Los Angeles, we're watching this. A jury selection starting this hour in the trail that is, of course, attracting worldwide attention. We're talking about Michael Jackson's mother and his children suing the concert promoter here that was supposed to be responsible for Jackson's comeback, alleging instead that they're responsible for his death.

HOLMES: Yes, we're talking about AEG Live. That's the company. Miguel Marquez with details.


MICHAEL JACKSON, MUSICIAN (March 2009): "This Is It." And see you in July.

MIGUEL MARQUEZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): "This Is It" meant to herald Michael Jackson's comeback. Like so many things in Jackson's life, and death, it's become a supersized trial. Reports the Jackson family seeking from concert promoter AEG as much as $40 billion for the wrongful death of the 50-year-old king of pop. Reports the Jackson camp denies.

KEVIN BOYLE, JACKSON FAMILY ATTORNEY: If the jury feels the family deserves $40 billion, that's what they're going to give. But I can tell you, no demand has been made by the Jackson family for $40 billion from AEG. That is just not true.

MARQUEZ: At the center of the trial, who hired Dr. Conrad Murray, found guilty in 2011 of involuntary manslaughter for injecting the insomniac pop star with the lethal dose of the anesthetic Propofol.

PIERS MORGAN, ANCHOR, CNN "PIERS MORGAN LIVE": What do you think, as his mother, caused his death?

KATHERINE JACKSON, MICHAEL JACKSON'S MOTHER: I don't know. All I know is they used Propofol and they shouldn't have used it.

MARQUEZ: The plaintiffs, Jackson's mother Katherine and his three kids, blame AEG. Its lawyer says there was never a signed contract and Murray, who was never paid anything, served only at the pleasure of Michael Jackson.

MARVIN PUTNAM, AEG ATTORNEY: If you look at the draft explicitly is that he was chosen by Michael Jackson to be there at Michael Jackson's behest. Michael Jackson was the only person who could get rid of him at will.

MARQUEZ: Possibly testifying, Jackson's 16-year-old son, Prince Michael, and 14-year-old daughter, Paris. Also on the list, but not expected to testify, the artist Prince, who has his own history with AEG. Musician Quincy Jones could take the stand to testify how much Jackson could have earned if he had lived.

Miguel Marquez, CNN, Hollywood. (END VIDEOTAPE)

MALVEAUX: Conrad Murray, he is telling his side of the story. This is the first TV interview from jail. It's an Anderson Cooper exclusive. That is tonight at 8:00 Eastern. You're not going to want to miss that, I'm sure.

HOLMES: Yes, exactly.


HOLMES: All right, here's more of what we're working on for this hour of AROUND THE WORLD.

Smog so bad it's actually shortening the lives of millions of people.

MALVEAUX: And it's not even getting better. We're going to take a look at the causes of China's pollution nightmare.

And, of course, if you think tax rates in the U.S. are too high, turns out we're not paying that much compared to a lot of other countries.

HOLMES: Yes, if you take a look around the world, take Denmark, for example. Sixty percent. Hello. We'll tell you who else is giving more than perhaps half of their salary back to the government.

MALVEAUX: An American superhero now made in China, for China. "Iron Man 3" getting a far east remix as Hollywood targets its globing audience.


HOLMES: Welcome back, everyone. Here are the stories making news AROUND THE WORLD right now.

MALVEAUX: Just a few days ago, Cyprus avoided a major economic downfall, but the fallout's just beginning. Today, the finance minister resigned. That finance minister, Michalis Sarris, did help broker a $13 billion bailout deal. He's among several people now under investigation, however, for the collapse of the banking system.

HOLMES: In Venezuela, the late president, Hugo Chavez, may be gone, certainly not forgotten. His appointed heir to the presidency, Nicolas Maduro, is making sure of it.

Today is the official start of Venezuela's election campaign. The two top candidates spent the weekend holding rallies. Maduro has made Chavez the center piece of his campaign, perhaps not surprisingly, trying to tap into voter fondness for the late president. Maduro is up against Enrique Capriles. Capriles ran against Chavez in October's presidential election, did pretty well, lost by 11 points, though.

MALVEAUX: In Myanmar a horrific school fire killed 13 students. Police say 70 students were sleeping when the fire broke out around 3:00 in the morning, local time. They say an electrical device overheated and short circuited. In China, we've been seeing pictures now of smog so thick it is unbelievable. People walking around with face masks, we've seen these pictures.

HOLMES: Yeah, and you can't see halfway down the street. Now a new study finds that China's air pollution caused more than a million people to die prematurely in 2010. That's almost 40 percent of the total around the world.

MALVEAUX: Chad Myers joining us here. So, Chad, give us a sense why this is so, so bad in China.

CHAD MYERS, AMS METEOROLOGIST: Weather does play a little bit of a part of this. I lived in Columbus, Ohio for quite some time, and we had something called "seasonal effective disorder," where the sun never came out. That was like a hundred days where the sun never came out because the air was humid. The air never moved. It was stagnant. There was fog in the morning, and clouds stay in all day.

Well, they kind of had the same kind of idea there. There's not much wind. The clouds are hanging in, and the smog's just kind hanging on to that humidity.

Also coal-fired power plants, 80 percent of the power that they get is from coal fire. And increasing cars, 5 million cars now in Beijing. Industrial factories making stuff for us to use, obviously, here in America, and agricultural burning.

One thing called "air-pocalypse." Nine-ninety-three was the air quality index back in January and we consider 300 or more to be hazardous. China says it was only 500. That's because it's as high as their machine could register. Our machines there since the Olympics said it was higher than that. Right now it's 188. So even today with nothing going on, an unhealthy day here in Beijing.

Here's what it should look like. There is kind of the bay here. There's Beijing on a good day. And then we'll slide this bar over and we'll show you what it looks like, this gray haze that hangs over the city at times with the Beijing air just being choking for these people.

HOLMES: Unbelievable, isn't it? Yeah, Chad, thanks so much. Just -- and sitting in that basin like it does, yeah, it just doesn't go away. Chad Myers.

MALVEAUX: And the fact that their instruments don't even measure as high as it is. They don't even have the right instruments at this point.

HOLMES: You can't go above -- or it goes above like horrendous, yeah, horrible.

MALVEAUX: Horrendous.

Apple CEO is now forced to say that he is sorry to millions of customers. We're going to tell you what the tech giant did wrong and how he's trying to fix it.


MALVEAUX: Apple now is saying sorry today to millions of customers. This is in China, all because of complaints over the way the company was handling problems with its iPhone.

HOLMES: Alison Kosik at the New York Stock Exchange, a busy day for you, generally, but was most of the problem just over the way they were servicing the warranties on these phones? What was behind it?

ALISON KOSIK, CNN BUSINESS CORRESPONDENT: Michael, that's actually what set off this sort of campaign in China against Apple because what happened was CCTV -- that's China's state-run media -- it had this expose that it aired on Apple's warranty standards and customer service in China.

And the broadcaster reported that Apple was using refurbished parts to repair products in China and limiting some warranties. So those accusations, what officially happened is they took on a life of their own on social media. But Apple didn't say anything, no apologies. So that was interpreted as arrogance.

But then on Monday, suddenly, Apple came out, apologizing, with CEO Tim cook saying, in part, we recognize some people may have viewed our lack of communication as arrogant. We sincerely apologize to our customers for any concern or confusion we may have caused. And although Apple didn't actually admit to the accusations, it did say in the future it will make all repairs in China with new parts and that the devices will get a new one-year warranty after the repairs are made.

So I guess you're looking at Apple hoping to quell that whole controversy. Suzanne, Michael?

MALVEAUX: And, Alison, tell us a little bit about -- I know you've got another story. You've been watching this, and we're all going to pay taxes soon, filing our income taxes. But we're doing OK here in the United States compared to some other countries, right, who have higher tax rates?

KOSIK: Yeah, this is interesting, because we love to just complain about our high tax rates, right? Taxes come. We say, oh, no, not again. It's a universal feeling, isn't it? These numbers that came out show that actually Americans fall right in the middle, meaning, you know, if you want high taxes, go ahead and move to northern Europe because, in Denmark, the top tax rate is 60 percent and that's on all incomes above $54,900 a year.

In Sweden, Belgium, and the Netherlands, they have similar high tax rates and those really low top thresholds on those salaries. So then go ahead and compare that to the U.S. where the top tax rate is an average of 44 percent combined, those federal and state taxes And if you have to make -- but, of course, you have to make more than $400,000 a year to get hit with that high rate. In fact, 19 major developing countries, they've got higher tax rates than the U.S. Oh, and, by the way, this doesn't include sales tax, or what Europeans know as VAT, or the value-added tax. The VAT in Denmark is 25 percent. Twenty-five percent, that makes the 8.875 percent sales tax that we pay here in New York seem like a bargain.

HOLMES: Yeah. Yeah, I know. And, you know, speaking as the resident foreigner here, I always used to say that to people. I'm like, hey, guys, it's not that bad. Gas, as well. Everyone goes nuts about $4 gasoline. How about nine bucks?

KOSIK: Yeah, it's all about perspective. Oh, yeah, when you see what's going on outside your borders, you realize it ain't so bad here, I think, until the tax bill comes my way.

MALVEAUX: All the services you get, though, overseas. I mean, we should note that, as well.

HOLMES: Health care and all of that.

MALVEAUX: That goes into the mix as well.

HOLMES: That is true. When you go to Turkey, you pay nine bucks a gallon for gasoline. Four bucks is cheap.

All right, enough of that. Good to see you, Alison.

MALVEAUX: Thanks, Alison.

Talking about the housing market as well, booming back to life, New York realtors are desperate to get more listings now actually.

HOLMES: Yeah, happening in a lot of places around the country. New York, as you say, though, Zain Asher reports now that in New York they're even schmoozing doormen for info on who's planning to move.

Check it out.


ZAIN ASHER, CNN CORRESPONDENT: The city that never sleeps is running out of places to sleep in.

JARROD GUY RANDOLPH, CORE, ASSOCIATE BROKER: The low inventory is putting a lot of pressure on brokers, myself included, to go out and get new listings.

ASHER: In 2009, there were more than 10,000 Manhattan apartments for sale. This year, not even half that many.

RANDOLPH: You walk into an open house and there's 80 people there.

ASHER: And realtors are having to hustle to score listings.

RANDOLPH: I try not to be too aggressive.

ASHER: From schmoozing with doormen ... RANDOLPH: Doormen could be your best friend. You bring them coffee. You might take them out for drinks every once in a while. They know everything that's happening in the building. If someone's getting divorced, if someone passed away, someone's moving, they know everything.

ASHER: ... to mailing letters like this one to push homeowners to sell ...

RANDOLPH: They are very specific, highly targeted letters. I might mail an entire building.

ASHER: After sitting patiently through one of the worst housing slumps, homeowners are keen to flex their muscles.

WARREN RAND, SOLD APARTMENT: I think it's -- these guerrilla tactics are very interesting and pay dividends, at least in my case.

ASHER: Warren Rand recently sold his Hamilton Heights condo for $640,000 after a realtor contacted him out of the blue.

RAND: And it was an all-cash deal, so it was very quick.

ASHER: The short supply and the city's growing population are pushing up prices and commissions faster than usual.

RAND: They offered full asking price for our apartment.

RANDOLPH: This is actually one of the best years I've had so far.

ASHER: And it might get even better. Randolph recently secured this $2 million listing in Manhattan's upscale Chelsea.

RANDOLPH: It's a high-end property in a location where you have very low inventory.

ASHER: OK, I might have to start saving up for this.

RANDOLPH: Start saving up.

ASHER: Zain Asher, CNN, New York.


MALVEAUX: Might sell.

HOLMES: Yeah, I think so. You could be all right, yeah.

All right, new treatments having some dramatic success in the fight against autism.

MALVEAUX: The problem is, insurance companies, they don't want to pay for them. Next, we're going to introduce you to three Georgia mothers who are fighting hard to actually change all of that, and this is World Autism Day as well.