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ERIN BURNETT OUTFRONT
U.S. To North Korea: Don't Threaten Us; New Details In D.A. Murder Investigation; Family Sues Over Jackson's Death; NRA Scores Big Over Obama
Aired April 2, 2013 - 19:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
ERIN BURNETT, CNN ANCHOR: OUTFRONT next, North Korea. It says it plans to restart one of its long dormant nuclear reactors and the secretary of state, John Kerry, responds unequivocally.
Plus, Michael Jackson's family in court, they say his concert promoter caused his death. Does it add up?
President Obama versus guns, does the NRA already won the debate? Let's go OUTFRONT.
Good evening, everyone. I'm Erin Burnett. OUTFRONT tonight, nuclear reaction. North Korea says it now plans to restart a nuclear reactor that it shut down more than five years ago. Secretary of State John Kerry responded this afternoon saying the United States will not accept North Korea as a nuclear power.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JOHN KERRY, SECRETARY OF STATE: Let me be perfectly clear here today. The United States will defend and protect ourselves and our treaty ally the republic of Korea.
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BURNETT: Kyung Lah is live tonight in Seoul tonight. Kyung, what do you know about this reactor and what it's capable of? When they say we'll start it up again, when does that mean it would be up and running?
KYUNG LAH, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, just going back briefly in to the very short history of the reactor, this is something mothballed in 2008 and 2007 and in 2008, Erin, it was blown up spectacularly on television for an international audience and viewed carefully here in South Korea.
Well, that seems like now a lifetime ago. What this means, reactor coming back online means that it could be back up in as quickly as six months. This is according to experts who have actually been to the facility. It could produce enough plutonium to build a nuclear bomb in just one year according to those same experts.
Now let's put this into perspective. North Korea is already believed to have between four to eight nuclear weapons, enough plutonium to have four to eight nuclear weapons. So this is a threat that's been around for the peninsula for some time.
This is upping the ante. The North Korean young leader saying, OK, United States, you are trying to school me with the destroyers coming in, with the F-22 stealth fighters coming in. Well, this is my play. That's what the message is here.
We also want to point out that here in South Korea, there isn't widespread panic over this, but there is significant concern, a concern especially because 2008 was so symbolic, so meaningful here. There's a concern that that is now long history, we're entering a new era.
BURNETT: Thanks, Kyung. OUTFRONT now, Republican Congressman Peter King of New York, a member of both the Homeland Security Committee and the Intelligence Committee. Good to see you. Congressman, appreciate your time. How significant do you think North Korea's decision to restart that nuclear reactor is?
REPRESENTATIVE PETER KING (R), NEW YORK: I think it's significant because it shows another step that Kim Jong-Un is taking and my concern is that he is taking step after step and he doesn't know how to get back.
Now he may want to take these steps anyway. He may be trying to force a confrontation or he just could be trying to get attention, try to make a point and doesn't know how to get himself back in. In either event, I consider it very serious.
Certainly, the South Korean government considers it serious. The Obama administration does and I actually give them credit. I think sending the B-2s, the F-22s, by allowing the South Korean government to expand the range of its rockets shows how serious they're taking it.
I think we have to take it very seriously. You know, no need to panic, but this is the most sustained I would say type of pressure or full my nations we are seeing from the north in a while.
BURNETT: You know, George W. Bush, one of the larger west coast missile defense system to help protect again North Korea. President Obama when he came into office said he didn't want to do that. He put the plan on ice. He has now authorized it. So we have an expanded missile defense system. It's going to be done in 2017.
As you know, the former Defense Secretary Robert Gates said North Korea would have a missile capable of striking the west coast of the United States a year before that missile defense would be ready. Did President Obama wait too long?
Because you know, you were just saying here saying, look, I'm glad he sent the B-2s. I'm glad he sent the F-22s. But did he blow it on the missile defense?
KING: I think he did. I think that was a serious mistake. Sort of an ideological decision I think he made that it's something to not be pursued and cut it short much too quickly, much too early and he is just trying to play catch up on that.
I do think all the recent actions I'm supporting. I strongly believe that they made a mistake in cutting that system short several years ago. If they had been kept in place, if the program is allowed to go forward, we would be in a much better position today.
BURNETT: What is our position in terms of what would cause the United States to act? Yesterday, Jay Carney said the question of a pre-emptive strike is not a serious question. I spoke with David Kang yesterday, the director of the Korean Studies Institute at USC and asked what would cause the U.S. to act.
It was the quote/unquote "red line," to use the word that everybody uses and he said I think the red line is if they attack us first. If they do, that could mean American casualties before America strikes? Is that the world that we live in? Is that right thing now?
KING: I don't want to be putting anything out there other than to say I don't think we have to wait until we're attacked. If we have good reason to believe there's going to be an attack, I believe we have the right to take pre-emptive action to protect ourselves.
I don't think we have to wait until Americans are killed or wounded or injured in any way. I'm not saying that rushing in to war. Don't get me wrong. But if we have solid evidence that North Korea is going to take action then I think we have the moral obligation and the absolute right to defend ourselves by taking -- I wouldn't consider that pre-emptive. To me that's stopping an attack about to happen.
BURNETT: In your role on Homeland security, on the intelligence committees, in the briefings that you have received, what are you hearing? I wanted to ask this in the context of what Gordon Chang said.
He is the author of "Nuclear Showdown: North Korea Takes On The World." Frequent guest on this show and a few weeks ago he told me that North Korea could strike the United States right now. And here's how he said they could do it. I'll let you listen to him.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GORDON CHANG, AUTHOR, "NUCLEAR SHOWDOWN": They can take a Toyota pickup truck, put a nuke in the back and park it in any city.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BURNETT: Congressman, are you concerned about other ways they can attack us? Are these types of scenarios things that you talk about in those briefings?
KING: Well, in the world in which we live, we have to be on the lookout for that. We saw, for instance, how Iran was willing to deal with the Mexican drug lords in an attempt to carry out an attack in Washington, D.C.
We know that al Qaeda, certainly we are very concerned about al Qaeda bringing a dirty bomb or any type of nuclear device into the United States. The country such as North Korea, an outlaw nation with nuclear power, yes, they may not have the rocket capability to attack us at this stage.
But certainly we have to be concerned about them trying to bring something in to the country. That's why intelligence is so vital. We have to stay on top of this and why it's essentially working closely with the allies to see any type of movements at all, any type of activity.
And why it's so important that our intelligence, both CIA, FBI and all of them, NSA, DIA, all of them be on top of this 24/7.
BURNETT: All right, thanks to Peter King. Still to come, the Michael Jackson wrongful death trial is under way and the question is, is someone other than the king of pop responsible, $40 billion are at stake.
Plus, the IRS wants to make the tax process a lot easier. That's a miracle, right? Why is one company spending millions of dollars to keep the IRS from succeeding?
And the district attorney and his wife gunned down in Texas this weekend. We have breaking news on this when we come back.
BURNETT: We are back with breaking news in the investigation into the murders of a Texas district attorney and his wife. Mike McLelland and his wife, Cynthia, were found shot multiple times in their Kaufman County home over the weekend. Murdered eight weeks after the deputy district attorney was also killed in the same county.
Ed Lavandera is in Dallas tonight with breaking details about the investigation. Ed, what are you learning tonight?
ED LAVANDERA, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Hi, Erin. Well, ever since we learned about the death of Mark Hasse back -- in his murder back at the end of January, we know that investigators have been pouring over his case files trying to find any clues in there that might point them in the direction of someone who might have had a grudge against him, and want to kill these prosecutors.
There's been a great deal of attention focused over the last few days on the Aryan Brotherhood of Texas, that white supremacy prison gang and whether perhaps Mexican drug cartels that might have been involved in some way, but we are learning tonight that this investigation is going beyond that.
Not necessarily the place where investigators are focusing. They're focusing on a lot of local cases there, as well. In fact, some public corruption cases that we have learned about.
One case in particular where a man was convicted last year and he's out of jail but now serving probation, we're not naming him at this time, but we spoke with his attorney today and he tells us that on Saturday night, just hours after Mike and Cynthia McLelland's bodies were found murdered in their home that investigators reached out to this man.
And met with him at a Denny's Restaurant and that they asked him for a swab of his hands to test for gun residue. This attorney says that his client cooperated voluntarily. He had nothing to hide but, Erin, this point we don't know the results of those gun residue swabs were and what it means for investigators.
BURNETT: Ed, talking about looking at this individual, does this mean and obviously they're not yet sure and we are not naming the person yet, but does it mean investigators moving away from a possible connection to Aryan Brotherhood, which, of course has gotten so much publicity an attention?
LAVANDERA: I don't think we know enough at this point to say that they've completely moved away from that, but I think it's definitely fair to say that's not the only place they're looking. You know, investigators have said almost next to nothing since the McLelland's were found murdered Saturday night.
They were put out very little. Refusing to answer many questions, but that doesn't necessarily mean they don't have any leads or don't have information that they're pursuing. So, you know, they're playing it very close to the vest for reasons that only they know at this point. But I think it's clear to say they're looking at a wide array of options here at this point, Erin.
BURNETT: Thanks very much to you, Ed, reporting from Dallas tonight.
Now, our second story, OUTFRONT, Michael Jackson's wrongful death trial. Is concert promoter, AEG Live, responsible for the king of pop's death? Now, according to Jackson's family, the entertainment giant is libel because it hired and supervised Dr. Conrad Murray.
Of course, you know who he is. He is the man who court ruled gave Jackson a fatal dose of Propofol as he was preparing for a comeback tour. Can the family prove this in court? As we said $40 billion could be at stake.
OUTFRONT tonight, Sunny Hostin, a former prosecutor and a legal analyst for us, and Mark Geragos, a criminal defense attorney who represented Michael Jackson and is the author of a new book called "Mistrial."
All right, good to see both of you. Sunny let me start with you, Michael Jackson's mother, Katherine, his children, Paris, Prince and Blanket, they want $40 billion.
SUNNY HOSTIN, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: Yes, they do.
BURNETT: This is a lot of money. They are saying that AEG was responsible for Michael Jackson's death and they point to an e-mail that could be very damning. They point to an e-mail from the CEO of AEG to the show director Kenny Ortega, 11 days before Michael Jackson died.
And the e-mail said, "We want to remind Murray that it is AEG not MJ who's paying his salary. We want to remind him what's expected of him." Can this e-mail be explained away? This sounds like they're saying we paid him, we picked him, that's a link.
HOSTIN: That's a tough one for AEG. Certainly, they need to explain it. But Erin, I do think that they can explain it. Bottom line is this case comes down to who was responsible for hiring Dr. Conrad Murray? Who did he work for? AEG can say I didn't have a contract with him. Michael Jackson brought Dr. Murray to the table. We never paid him a dime.
And most importantly, they can point to what Dr. Murray said himself to detectives. He said, it was my understanding that although AEG paid for me, paid my check, was going to cut my check, I worked for Michael Jackson. That came from Dr. Murray himself. I think that --
HOSTIN: -- when you look at it all together, AEG has a pretty strong case defending itself.
BURNETT: Mark, sunny makes the case how to explain the e-mail away. That's why she's a good lawyer. Can they, though, explain it away because as she said, they'll point to the interview Dr. Murray gave police telling detectives, I'm Michael Jackson's employee, not AEG Live. That's my understanding.
MARK GERAGOS, CRIMINAL DEFENSE ATTORNEY: To which Brian Pannish, the lawyer, for the family is going to say, yes, of course that's what he said because he was talking to the cops. He ended up getting convicted.
The fascinating thing about this case is that the prosecution of Conrad Murray and the conviction, I think, does nothing but help the family in terms of recovering against AEG. Everything he says is now going to be filtered through the fact that he was convicted of involuntarily manslaughter and that they were the ones, AEG, paying his salary. They were the ones who were saying you have to -- you have to make sure this guy gets up there. We have a lot of money at stake. There's all kinds of testimony about the amount of money that AEG had at risk in this case. And the fact that Conrad Murray was convicted and presently in jail, it's certainly does not help AEG.
BURNETT: Well, let me ask you this, Sunny, to that point. Saying AEG knew. So, the president of AEG is a man named Randy Phillips. And he apparently saw some of Michael Jackson's problems and e-mailed people about them. On the day Michael Jackson was going to announce the shows for the tour, he sent an e-mail saying "MJ is locked in the room drunk and despondent. I'm trying to sober him up... I screamed at him so loud, the walls are shaking. He's an emotionally paralyzed mess riddled with self-loathing and doubt now that it is show time." They knew that this guy had problems.
BURNETT: So, is it possible they said, well, we know this guy likes to shop around for doctors. We're going to make sure he gets a doctor that's going to do what we want?
HOSTIN: His personal physician. Again.
BURNETT: Again, coming down to --
HOSTIN: Comes down to who did Dr. Conrad Murray work for? That's the bottom line. And Mark is a great lawyer. I heart him. He knows that. But I don't know that the Jackson family gets over that hurdle. And I actually disagree with Mark because the fact that Conrad Murray was, you know, found guilty of involuntarily manslaughter sort of helps AEG. Because a jury may think, well, someone is already been found responsible for this. Why do I find AEG responsible?
And I think the jury will also perhaps think, you know, he was addicted to Propofol, prescription pain meds. He is a grown man. He has to be responsible for himself. And I suspect that they may play some of the blame on Michael Jackson.
GERAGOS: Well, except I'll tell you what, Sunny. A downtown L.A. courthouse with somebody like Michael Jackson who -- and you have Katherine Jackson sitting in there. There's been all kinds of conspiracy theories that have abounded all the way throughout this and the prosecution of Conrad Murray. I think you may find that a lot of the jurors will say, yes, Conrad Murray was responsible. But who put him up to it? Who funded this? Who was the one who put him in the position to push Michael right in to his death? AEG.
It's a big money story. You've got -- it's almost even though they're asking for $40 billion, there is a David versus Goliath kind of theme here in this poor Michael Jackson, who obviously was in no shape to do this tour. And AEG who had the big bucks at stake, they're the ones who hired somebody, paid him to close down his practice and then basically sent him to his death.
BURNETT: Wow. Thanks very much, to both of you. There's some great irony to that. Obviously poor in many ways, but certainly financially is not one of them. But $40 billion is a lot of money. This trial is going on for a while.
Still to come, 12 soldiers and a civilian were killed in Fort Hood in 2009. The Pentagon, though, is refusing to award them Purple Hearts. Why?
Plus, the IRS says it wants to make it easier for you to file your taxes. I mean, isn't that an incredibly wonderful thing from the government? So, why is a company that bills itself as your best friend when it comes to taxes spending millions of dollars to hurt the IRS?
And this is happening at a major national university in this country caught on tape.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
RICE: You (EXPLETIVE DELETED) fairy. You're a (EXPLETIVE DELETED).
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BURNETT: Our third story OUTFRONT, is the maker of Turbo Tax actually making your taxes harder? So, Intuit is the company behind Turbo Tax. It has spent millions of dollars lobbying the government to keep the IRS from taking over tax preparations. Turbo Tax claims it's to keep the government in check. But does that argument add up?
Tom Foreman's OUTFRONT with the story.
TOM FOREMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Americans spend billions of dollars and hours filing taxes, filling in all those the boxes, all those numbers.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I don't want to make any mistakes. I feel like it's too tedious, it's a lot of numbers.
FOREMAN: And if you say this should be easier to any economist, like, say, Joe Bankman at Stanford, he'll tell you --
JOE BANKMAN, LAW PROFESSOR, STANFORD: That's absolutely right, Tom.
FOREMAN: So why isn't it? Because the business of tax preparation is huge. And virtually every attempt to simplify taxes in recent years has been beaten back in part by the tax preparation industry. By companies like the one that gave us Turbo Tax, used by 25 million Americans.
BANKMAN: And if we could make the process easy for taxpayers, to simply file online themselves, it stands to reason that they'd save some money. And, of course, if you're in business providing services, that would be bad for you.
FOREMAN: Turbo Tax is made by Intuit, and that corporation has long lobbying Congress to, quote, "oppose IRS government tax preparation."
Right now, if you go to the IRS Web site to compute and file your taxes online, you must choose from a list of private companies to handle that job. Turbo Tax being one of them. It's free up to a certain income and then you pay.
"It's a conflict of interest for the government to play the role of tax collector and tax preparer," Intuit says in a written statement to CNN. "A government tax return system would lead to millions of Americans being deprived of the credits and deductions to which they are legally entitled." Jeff Eisenach with the American Enterprise Institute agrees. He says letting the IRS manage it all would expand bureaucracy, reduce privacy and maybe not even work.
JEFF EISENACH, AMERICAN ENTERPRISE INSTITUTE VISITING SCHOLAR: And it's not that they're bad or that they're stupid. It's that it is a big government agency, and big government agency have a hard time with big technology projects.
FOREMAN: We have driver's licenses. Things like that are all handled electronically by the government.
EISENACH: Well, a lot of those things are simple, right? But your tax returns are not simple. Your tax returns change every year.
FOREMAN: Still, some other countries are already doing it.
BANKMAN: This isn't rocket science to allow taxpayers to file taxes online for free.
FOREMAN: But for now, don't expect any changes here. Helping struggling taxpayers navigate our complicated tax code is worth a fortune, and the companies that do it best expect many more years of returns.
For OUTFRONT, Tom Foreman, Washington.
BURNETT: Well, still to come, President Obama versus the NRA. Has the gun lobby already won?
Plus, an American businessman found dead in Singapore. Police say it was suicide. His family says it doesn't add up.
And should overweight people pay more to fly? One airline vehemently, aggressively, under pressure says, yes.
BURNETT: Welcome back to the second half of OUTFRONT. We start with stories we care about focusing on our own reporting from the front lines.
Well, America's role in Mali could be expanding. During a visit to Bamako today, Senator John McCain said the United States will assist the French and coalition militaries to provide them with the equipment, training and technology needed to rid Mali of terrorists linked to al Qaeda.
Now, whether that makes sense depends on how you define equipment. According to expert Seth Jones (ph), who tells us that if America provides equipment like binoculars and those in the wrong hands, it's fine. It doesn't tip the balance of power. Providing weapons and ammunition would, and he says doing so would be unwise. Well, the Pentagon is refusing to award Purple Hearts to victims of the 2009 Ft. Hood shooting. The reason: the Pentagon says they were not the victims of an international terrorist attack. In a Defense Department position paper obtained by CNN, the agency says including domestic crimes would be a dramatic departure. But the Pentagon also argues that it would make it harder to convict Major Nidal Hasan, the man accused of gunning down 13 and wounding 32 others.
Texas Congressman John Carter, whose district includes Ft. Hood, tells OUTFRONT in a statement that the Pentagon is dead wrong and says the victims deserve recognition and compensation for what he calls a direct attack.
Well, under fire tonight, the basketball coach of Rutgers, Mike Rice. Practice video showed him berating players, pushing them around, using racial slurs. That surfaced today. And according to ESPN, Rutgers became aware of the video actually in December and the athletic director suspended Rice for three games and fined him $50,000.
But the video indicates more going on than the athletic director let on at the time. You can see some of the words below that he was actually saying. Now, the university may have to answer to Governor Chris Christie who view the video for the first time today, telling CNN there are questions about this behavior that need to be answered by the leaders at Rutgers.
It has been 607 days since the U.S. lost its top credit rating. What are we doing to get it back?
Well, the S&P 500 closed at a record high today, but a new report from Fidelity says 70 percent of the investors believe the United States is still stuck in recession.
And now our fourth story OUTFRONT: the NRA winning.
In the battle of President Obama versus the NRA right now, it looks like victory is going to the guns. Not one piece of federal legislation has passed since Newtown. No assault weapons ban. No limit on magazine capacity. No nothing. Not even background checks.
Today, White House Press Secretary Jay Carney brought up the issue of background checks.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JAY CARNEY, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: I think most Americans believe it makes absolute sense to check the criminal record of someone before they're allowed to purchase a gun.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BURNETT: He's right. Ninety percent of Americans agree with what Jay just said, literally 90 percent.
But yet, there has been no legislation touching background checks. So, why is the victory for now gone to the NRA?
OUTFRONT tonight, Jennifer Rubin, "Right Turn" blogger for TheWashingtonPost.com, and Mark Glaze, director of Mayors Against Illegal Guns.
All right. Good to have both of you.
Jennifer, can the NRA essentially declare victory? Here we are, months after Newtown, public support for gun protection is plunging, with the exception of background checks. We've had no legislation passed at the federal level.
JENNIFER RUBIN, "RIGHT TURN" BLOG, WASHINGTONPOST.COM: Well, I think we are in about the third quarter and the NRA is ahead by a couple touchdowns but the game's not over yet.
I think the president overreached very badly. He included a lot of things in the bill that were never going to be part of the legislation. It gave time for the NRA to organize. It gave time for the senators from red states, Democrats, to get some cold feet.
And I think they're going to come out with very little in this bill in large part because they asked for too much. The president has a habit of polarizing these issues, running around the country, badmouthing Republicans, doesn't endear himself to the other side.
But, really, the problem is on the Democratic side. Harry Reid would not include a bill that had Dianne Feinstein's favorite assault weapon ban in it.
BURNETT: Fair point. Mark, what about -- I mean, let's just take Connecticut, the state where Newtown happened. It is set to pass broad, new gun laws tomorrow. They're going to get more than 100 guns added to an already existing assault weapons ban. So, you can say that's good for your side of the aisle.
Background checks for all weapon sales and limiting the capacity of magazines up to 10 rounds. But anybody who has magazines that exceed that limit are allowed to keep them. They're grandfathered in. I mean, and the president of the Connecticut Citizens Defense League said there's nothing in the package that would have stopped someone like Adam Lanza.
Mark, if you can't win it in Connecticut, which is obviously probably one of the most pro-gun control places in the country right now, can they win it anywhere else?
MARK GLAZE, DIRECTOR, MAYORS AGAINST ILLEGAL GUNS: Well, they are going to win a huge victory and I don't want to jinx it by saying that. But it's going to be pretty comprehensive. And the issue of grandfathering is complicated, including the question of really put those genies back in the bottle. So, it's not necessarily that they couldn't get a tougher bill passed that might well have had partly to do with that.
BURNETT: Practical, logistical. GLAZE: But, look, the NRA is everywhere. They're not just the federal level. They do the bulk of the bad work in legislatures and usually unheard until the bill is passed.
BURNETT: Mark, what about -- when people say money usually wins this battle, politics, people say, look, you can buy a lot of what you want. NRA raised $1.6 million in February. That's a lot for them.
But you've got the backing of billionaire Mayor Bloomberg. You could outspend them in a heartbeat if you wanted to. But, yet, the pro-gun heart of this country still seems to be dominating. Why is that?
GLAZE: Well, first, I'm not sure I would agree that money buys everything. I think what voters actually want is by something, though sometimes special interests get in the way, and I think that this is one of those examples. Look, what I think you're seeing --
RUBIN: But special interests are the voters, Mark. You know, it's not that the NRA has more money than God. It's that they have more voters than the other opponents and there are people who are very motivated who make this a top priority and I think your complaint is not with the NRA, but with the American people.
GLAZE: You know, 74 percent of NRA members think every gun buyer should get a criminal background check. So why does the NRA leadership out there in Fairfax, Virginia --
RUBIN: Because they're not in a fight, this is a good example. That's a great question. It's a good example of overreach. The concern of gun owners is they then don't want their documentation staying with the federal government.
GLAZE: Which it never goes to the federal government.
RUBIN: Well, then, it should be a very easy thing and disposable.
The president and the Democrats not negotiated very smartly on this. One wonders whether they want to solve or whether they want to just have the issue.
GLAZE: So negotiating --
BURNETT: Jennifer, let me ask you a quick follow-up on that, though.
BURNETT: Asa Hutchison, who's the director of the National Rifle Association, funded study that just came out on schools just said tonight on Wolf Blitzer's show that he'll be willing to expand background checks. The opposite of what the NRA management says, but he is saying that. RUBIN: Well, the devil is in the details. The NRA has said they would be open to certain compromises, as well. They have to have some guarantees about in-family sales, they have to have guarantees about keeping the documentation on file.
And, you know, if you simply say we have to have it our way or the highway, which is somewhat what the president did his commission, then you're not going to make any progress. I actually think they could have made progress at something that was at the heart of Newtown, and that was the mental health problem we have in this country -- the ability to diagnose, the ability to evaluate and the ability to keep these people from guns. That would have helped in this situation.
GLAZE: I don't know what world Jennifer is covering, but it's certainly not the Washington where I'm spending my days lobbying and seeing a significant amount of what folks at the NRA thought should be considered being considered. There's going to be a big conference on the causes of violence including videogames. There's a big package on school security. There's going to be a real focus on --
RUBIN: It's true. The only parts of the bill that are going to get through are the ones that NRA backed. That's a very good point, including the school safety bill, which liberals really mocked terribly.
BURNETT: I'll hit pause at that point, but simply note for you viewers that people who are members of the NRA such a small percentage of gun owners in the country. So, if you're an owner, you may be amazed, the NRA does speak for you.
Thanks so much to both of you. Appreciate your time.
GLAZE: Thank you.
BURNETT: And now an update on the mysterious hanging death of a young American man in Singapore. Thirty-one-year-old Shane Todd of Montana was found dead in his apartment after quitting his job at a Singapore research firm.
Local police said it was probably suicide and presented a suicide note. But his parents say their son didn't write the note and he was murdered. President Obama met today with Singapore's prime minister in the Oval Office but there was no mention of the case during public remarks.
Miguel Marquez is OUTFRONT tonight with the latest on this international mystery. He's been covering it since the beginning.
And, Miguel, this case has received a high level of attention. The secretary of state, the attorney general have been involved.
What did Shane's parents tell you about the meeting today between President Obama and the prime minister of Singapore? Were they disappointed that there wasn't a public acknowledgment of the case? MIGUEL MARQUEZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT: They've had a lot of attention on it. I think that they're going to wait and see if there's anything happening behind the scenes on it. It would be very unlikely, given the way these things work, that there would be sort of a public announcement about it.
But I think they're going to wait, see, continue talking with the very high levels of the State Department and how much more to push this forward at literally the highest levels of government now. Pretty amazing -- Erin.
BURNETT: This is pretty amazing, Miguel. And, you know, some people may say, look, how did it get to John Kerry and to Eric Holder? I mean, that is the highest level of the American government. Why -- what are the national security impacts of this case that have gotten it to this level?
MARQUEZ: Look, they make a very, very compelling case. The more you look in to it. They believe that the company that he was working for, IME, which is a Singapore company, this is the parents saying this, that IME they believe was a front for Chinese companies that wanted access to high level Western technology and American technology. They believe that a company called Huawei, which is a Chinese company, was specifically interested in building a radar that would have military purposes.
So this is what they're getting at. They built a very, very strong case for why they believe their son was killed and murdered and it wasn't suicide.
BURNETT: When you have a chance to talk to them today, Miguel, you know, I talked to the parents before and asked them if there's anything to convince them this wasn't murder. Let me just play quickly what they had to say.
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SHANE TODD'S MOM: Well, at this point, nothing could convince us because there's not one shred of evidence that points to suicide. Everything points to murder including the pathologist report, Shane's external hard drive, the bathroom, the evidence in the bathroom.
SHANE TODD'S DAD: I've seen the marks on his neck. I had seen his hands that have been brutally bruised. I see the bruise on his head. This is something that we live with -- and we have lived with every day for the past eight months.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BURNETT: That was last month when I spoke to them. Are they still firm in their belief right now?
MARQUEZ: Oh, firmer than ever. There's nothing to indicate that their son was -- committed suicide. They believe very strongly that it was murder. All of the information and increasing amounts of information they have, for instance, the Singapore police say that they talked to two pathologists in the U.S. who confirm that it was suicide when pressed for that information, Singapore police said we don't have it -- Erin.
BURNETT: Thanks, Miguel.
And still to come, an American woman kidnapped, robbed and rape on a bus in Rio. We go to Brazil for have the latest developments on that case.
Plus, should overweight passengers pay more to fly? One airline CEO doubling down on that.
And another country falls victim to Bieber fever. In tonight's outtake, the cure.
BURNETT: And we are back with tonight's "Outer Circle", where we reach out to our sources around the world. So, tonight, we're going to Brazil where another arrest has been made in the abduction and gang rape of an American woman in Rio de Janeiro.
I asked our Shasta Darlington how police tracked down the third suspect today.
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SHASTA DARLINGTON, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Erin, police arrested a third man accused of kidnapping and gang-raping an American tourist aboard a minivan in Rio de Janeiro this weekend. They're also accused of brutally attacking her companion, a Frenchman.
Now, police say they used surveillance video to track down this third suspect and that's because these three men, they stole the credit cards of the two tourists after they boarded the van and then went from gas station to gas station to take out cash and they used the surveillance video at the gas stations to track this man down. He's now been arrested.
But this crime has had a huge impact on Brazil. In fact, the police chief, a woman, has now sacked two different police commissioners and said that they failed to respond to previous reports of rape in similar conditions, Erin.
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BURNETT: Thanks, Shasta.
And now, let's check in with Anderson. He has a look at what's coming up on "A.C. 360". Hey, Anderson.
ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR: Hey, Erin.
Yes, we have more on the breaking news out of the Texas tonight. A district attorney there says law enforcement officers are under attack tonight and now new clues in the murder mystery of who shot and killed the district attorney Mike McLelland and his wife Cynthia. Police have new information on a person of interest and a possible motive. We'll have details on that ahead.
Also tonight, a "360" exclusive: his first interview from jail on the day a massive lawsuit by the family of Michael Jackson was lodged and begins against the concert promoter AEG. Dr. Conrad Murray maintains his innocence despite being convicted in the manslaughter in the death of Michael Jackson. We're going to talk to him from prison. We're going to ask him about that, his relationship with Michael Jackson and the wrongful death lawsuit filed by Jackson's family as I said that begins today against AEG Live.
Those stories and tonight's "Ridiculist" and a whole lot more at the top of the hour.
BURNETT: All right. Anderson, really looking forward to that interview. See you in a few minutes.
And now our fifth story OUTFRONT: Doubling down. An airline CEO says he meant it when he suggested people who weigh more should pay more for their ticket.
Samoa Air will charge ticket prices ranging from about $1 to $4 for every two pounds, and that's total pounds including you and your luggage. Just to be clear, Samoa Air is, well, OK, not as big as American or Delta or JetBlue. But you know what it is in this country, people. We start small, we test and then we go big.
Eight to 12 fit on each Samoa airplane, and the airline serves just a small number of islands in the South Pacific. But this could the so-called fat tax be coming to a Delta near you?
OUTRONT tonight, CNN contributor Reihan Salam, radio host Stephanie Miller and political comedian Dean Obeidallah.
Good to see all of you, all right?
So, Reihan, let me start with, you have the math works out. We've got two scenarios today from Samoa Air. If you weigh 160 pounds and you a 25-pound bag, you pay 35 bucks. If you weigh 300 pounds and have a 25-pound bag, you pay $63. So double. And then your weight is double. So kind of works out there. It's weight per weight.
You have airlines chief executive said there's no doubt in his mind it is concept of the future.
Is he right?
REIHAN SALAM, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: Keep in mind that part of what you are talking about is luggage. These are tiny planes for which the fuel costs are a huge part of the overall costs for the airline.
And so, again, you know, we are saying if you're a larger person, and you're bringing on a tiny tote bag, then you are as burdensome as a very small person like myself bringing on an enormous bag full of granite and another -- BURNETT: What about the situation when the bags weigh the same and the people do not? And one person pays twice as much as the other?
SALAM: Look, that's very painful but I'll say when you're talking about weight, we're not just talking about people who are fat, who are plump. You're also talking about who are very tall.
And as a shorter gentleman, I will tell you that short people, we are discriminated against in all kinds of egregious ways. It's about time that we get ours, Erin. Well, I say right on, Samoa Air.
BURNETT: The word plump is underused.
Stephanie, I know you think this is discriminatory.
But let me bring up the point that Reihan made about fuel. Reducing the weight of an airplane, I mean, a big airplane, by two pounds, saves $3,000 in fuel a year. Little things add up. They got rid of big heavy flight manuals for iPads and they are saving hundreds of thousands of dollars.
So, these little things make a big difference.
STEPHANIE MILLER, RADIO HOST: Well, you know, Erin, is this Michael Bloomberg's airline? It's clearly discriminatory.
I mean, listen, I don't fly -- like flying with people who have screaming infants. Could they be charged per decibel level that their child screams the entire flight? I don't like overly chatty people that talk too much when I'm clearly trying to sleep or read. Can they be charged per word?
I mean, where does this stop?
BURNETT: That would be fine with all of us.
MILLER: It's discriminatory against overweight people.
BURNETT: Dean, what do you think? Samoa has a serious obesity problem. The CEO said, look, it's that's part of the reason I'm doing this. I want to incentivize people to lose weight.
DEAN OBEIDALLAH, COMEDIAN: I think in theory it's a great idea. Frankly, how are you going to enforce this? People will lie about their weight. They will show up at the airport, you check in, then you weigh them?
We have signs, if you're this tall, if you're this thin you pay this much? If you're this big, I think it's ridiculous. The only job creation thing I see is fitness centers, having plans for you, you know, work out before you buy your ticket, save money.
But to me, I think it's really a corporate decision. They can do it. I think there will be a backlash. I think, ultimately, it will be viewed as insensitive and uncaring. BURNETT: All right. Could be the big airlines already do this. They say, I'm trying to look for the words, address your seating needs when booking, i.e., if you get on a plane and are too big for the seat, we're going to make you buy another one or kick you off.
MILLER: Well, listen, I make a joke about our friend over there that's too short sitting in the overhead compartment. I think people need to have compassion.
REIHAN: Many, many long flights I spent in the overhead compartment. It's quite comfortable in there, little dark but it's not that bad.
BURNETT: You're not that short.
REIHAN: I'm sitting on top of 12 phone books right now, just that you can't see them. It's movie magic.
BURNETT: Stephanie, is this the direction it's going to go? Because it costs airlines a lot of money. I mean, they are going to try -- they already charge you when you bring an extra bag. They charge you for the pillow, they charge you for the blanket. Weight and fuel are the biggest costs they have outside of labor from a pure business perspective.
How are we not going to go in this direction?
MILLER: Well, I mean, you're right, they are doing all kinds of things to cut costs, but look, you know, we can get into a whole argument, is this choice or is it genetics? People may be overweight for a lot of different reasons.
MILLER: I think this is unnecessarily shaming people.
OBEIDALLAH: Also, I don't think -- the cost saving, you have to look at the other side, there could be lawsuits. I'm used to be a lawyer. I actually represented airlines in some of my law work.
If you discriminate against people -- I know. I used to be a lawyer, then I became a comedian. Much happier. Much happier.
The idea of if you're discriminating against people because of a disability which is obesity has been deemed by some courts as a disability, then you can be fined.
Secondly, let's be honest, someone will get an eating disorder to save money on a ticket and sue the airline.
SALAM: I just want to push back on one thing.
BURNETT: In this country it could happen.
SALAM: I just want to push back on one thing. Stephanie before had criticized my mayor, Mayor Bloomberg.
MILLER: Erin, let me jump back in --
BURNETT: Hold on, Reihan, just finish quickly here.
SALAM: The one thing about that, Mayor Bloomberg has pursued certain initiatives in New York City at the local level. If other cities don't like it, they don't have to pursue them. Fair enough.
Now, similarly, this is one little airline in a little corner of the world that has decided to try something new. I think we need to see if it works. If it fails, it fails.
BURNETT: Thanks to all of you. We appreciate it. Please let us know what you think.
MILLER: Are we going to call it lord of the flies airline? Really? Are we going to kill the (INAUDIBLE) with the rocket (ph)? I mean, give me a break.
BURNETT: All right. Thank you.
I now want to get to tonight's outtake. A frightening illness swept across Norway that has led to erratic behavior in children and even forced school closures. This is serious stuff here because I'm talking about Bieber fever.
On April 16th and 17th, students in Norway were going to be taking their exams. The same days as the upcoming Justin Bieber concert in Oslo. So even though the exams count towards a significant part of the students' final grade, the schools figured most of the kids would skip them and go ahead and fail because they wanted to see Justin.
It's such a problem five schools in Norway moved the exams up a week rather than have such a large number of its student body fail.
This is not the first time Bieber fever has struck Norway. This is an informed decision these schools are making because almost a year ago, thousands of believers overpowered Oslo police right before one of his concerts. Authorities were about to declare a state of emergency for the country of Norway when Justin finally calmed the crowd down.
It's not just in Norway, either. In the past three years there have been similar Bieber outbreaks in Australia, Britain and even right here in the United States of America. Perhaps more frightening is the fact that Justin Bieber isn't just a carrier anymore. He's been infected with the fever himself. Probably by his quarantined monkey, Mali.
So, what do we do? Do we go all walking dead and hunt Bieber down? No, the best thing to do is just wait. Because teenaged girls are the most rabid fans in the world but also the most fickle. In the next few years, Bieber will do something inevitable. He will get older and the only guy making waves in Norway will be Garrison Keillor. Unless, Bieber turns to public radio, we should all be safe.
We'll be right back.
BURNETT: Big news out of Saudi Arabia today. According to news outlet al-Youm, Saudi women are finally allowed to ride bicycles but there are rules. Women have to wear the abaya and the shayla. I'll show you that in a second.
A male relative or guardian must accompany them. They can only ride in approved parks and they can only use the bikes for entertainment, not transportation.
Can you imagine riding a bike in that, especially when it's windy and when you can't show your legs? As for the entertainment, not transportation part, I'm not really sure what that's about. Maybe it's because religious clerics that still control the government believe that women will try to escape from their homes in 120 degree heat on massive highways where I have never seen anyone on a bike, but who knows?
To be fair, the rule also includes motor bikes which seems to be a small step towards real mobility, which is a good thing because Saudi women still have to be with male relatives in public, they still have segregated areas in banks and restaurants which aren't as nice as the male areas and they can't leave the country without male approval.
But all that pales in comparison to the big symbol of women's problems in Saudi. Women still cannot drive a car. This bike thing is just a fig leaf. When will women be able to take the wheel in Saudi Arabia?
"A.C. 360" starts now.