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Young American Diplomat Killed In Convoy Attack; North Korea Could Be Days Away From Testing A Missile; Warren Family Mourns Son's Suicide; Louisville And Michigan To Face Off In NCAA Tournament

Aired April 7, 2013 - 14:00   ET


FREDRICKA WHITFIELD, CNN ANCHOR: Welcome to the CNN NEWSROOM. I'm Fredricka Whitfield.

The stories topping our news at this hour: a young American diplomat is dead in an attack on a U.S. convoy in southern Afghanistan. A civilian and three U.S. service members were also killed. We'll have details.

And North Korea could be days away from testing a missile. Tensions are so high on the Korean Peninsula, it's creating a ripple effect. A U.S. missile test is being delayed so as not to send conflicting messages to North Korea.

And the family of megachurch pastor Rick Warren is in mourning following the suicide of his 27-year-old son. Matthew Warren battled mental illness all of his life. Coming up, we'll go live to Warren's church in Southern California for reaction.

To Afghanistan now, where six Americans were killed in two separate attacks yesterday. One of those killed has now been identified as a 25-year-old diplomat named Anne Smedinghoff. She was part of a military convoy delivering books to schools in southern Afghanistan. Four other State Department workers were injured in that attack. U.S. secretary of state John Kerry reacted to her death.


JOHN KERRY, U.S. SECRETARY OF STATE: When I was in Afghanistan, she was part of my team. And she was someone who worked hard and put her life on the line so that others could live a better life.


WHITFIELD: I'm joined now by Athena Jones at the White House. I understand the parents have also spoken out about their daughter's death, right?

ATHENA JONES, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Good afternoon, that's right, Fredricka. This was a young woman who joined the Foreign Service three years ago right out of college. Her parents released a statement; I'll read part of it. "The world lost a truly beautiful soul. She particularly enjoyed the opportunity to work directly with the Afghan people and was always looking for opportunities to reach out and help make a difference in the lives of those living in a country ravaged by war. We are consoled knowing that she was doing what she loved."

You heard from secretary of state Kerry. He met this young woman less than a month ago while traveling. And I should mention also that this young woman is believed to be the first U.S. diplomat killed since the Benghazi attack in Libya back in September, Fred.

WHITFIELD: This attack, it's renewing concern, is it not, on Capitol Hill, about this handoff of power?

JONES: Well, it is, Fred, and I had a chance to speak with Senator John McCain. He said actually that he's always been concerned about the handoff. He believes the U.S. is sending the message that we're leaving -- not that we're winning, but we're leaving. I also had a chance to speak with Senator Lindsey Graham about this today. Let's listen to what he had to say.


SEN. LINDSEY GRAHAM (R), SOUTH CAROLINA: We would be crazy to leave Afghanistan without an insurance policy for us. Somewhere around 10,000 to 13,000 troops post-2014 with American combat power available would end the Taliban's hopes and dreams of retaking Afghanistan.


JONES: And so there you heard that. Of course, the number of troops set to remain after 2014 still needs to be worked out. But you hear senators voicing some concerns about what we saw just yesterday, this attack that killed -- these two attacks that killed six Americans. Fred?

WHITFIELD: All right. Athena Jones, thanks so much from the White House.

JONES: Thanks.

WHITFIELD: All right, North Korea could test a missile this week, according to South Korea. Seoul based that assessment on the North urging workers to leave an industrial complex near the border by April 10th. U.S. officials say they want to avoid any misperceptions, so they're delaying a planned missile test in California. A top U.S. and South Korean official cancelled trips to Washington this week to stay in Seoul.

Megachurch pastor Rick Warren is mourning the loss of his youngest son. Matthew Warren died of a self-inflicted gunshot wound on Friday. His father says the 27-year-old Warren had a lifelong battle with mental illness. In an e-mail to his congregation, Warren and his wife said this, quote, "No words can express the anguish, grief we feel right now."

Nick Valencia joins us live from outside the Saddleback Church in Southern California. A man who has helped so many people deal with their own tragedies, Nick, now he's got to deal with his own. What is being said there? NICK VALENCIA, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Fred, they say at Saddleback Church this really is more of a family than a church. And that's become very clear to us. Even those who didn't know Matthew Warren personally are grieving here today. Their prayers are with the Warren family.

Now, Warren -- Matthew Warren, the 27-year-old -- played a very important role in the church, but it was also a very quiet role. He was behind the scenes. He worked at the Saddleback Warehouse distribution center, where books and DVDs are sent out. But he did play a very important role. And earlier, the church provided us with two people who knew Matthew very well. They talked about how sweet he was, how extremely compassionate he was, how he was able to tell people that were in pain because he too, Fredricka, was suffering from so much pain.


MIKE CONSTANTZ, SADDLEBACK CHURCH MEMBER: I was not on the mission trip, but afterwards, I got to know him better and knew, like you said, there were days where, you know, he was just this bubbly, outgoing, effervescent reaching out to people. And other days where he just didn't want to be around people. Just the pain, excruciating pain was too much.


VALENCIA: Coincidentally, today's sermon was the first in a series entitled "How to Survive Tough Times." Today's sermon was how to survive your worst day. It was delivered by Pastor Rick Warren's brother-in-law, Tom Holliday (ph). The pastor was not expected to be here. He's battling pneumonia right now. He gave a number of sermons over the Easter weekend.

But I want to read a statement the Warren family sent out Saturday morning with news of their son's death. It says, "Only those closest knew that Matthew struggled from birth with mental illness, dark holes of depression, and even suicidal thoughts. In spite of America's best doctors and prayers for healing, the torture of mental illness never subsided."

Many people are here grieving today, remembering the legacy and life of the youngest son of Pastor Rick Warren, 27-year-old Matthew Warren. Fred?

WHITFIELD: All right. Thanks so much. Very sad news. Our condolences, of course, going out to the Warren family.

And condolences to the Pulitzer family. Fashion icon Lily Pulitzer has died in Florida. Pulitzer was known for her bright, tropical print designs. She was also known for dressing people like Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis. Pulitzer once said, quote, "Style isn't about what you wear. It's about how you live." Lily Pulitzer was 81.

Searchers are scouring the Gulf of Mexico for two boys believed kidnapped by their parents. Joshua Hakken and his wife, Sharon, are accused of taking the two-year-old and four-year-old boys from their grandparents' house in Tampa. The grandparents had custody of the boys. Hakken and his wife are believed to be anti-government, and police say they may all be on this sailboat.

All right. Police now say this little girl left on a doorstep is Zoey Brown of Marietta, Georgia. Brown's parents were arrested Friday night. A man found Zoey on his doorstep in South Carolina Tuesday night. The four-year-old is doing okay. She is in a foster home until officials can try to locate any other relatives who may be able to care for her.

In Atlanta, it is down to the NCAA final two. Louisville and Michigan. Both earned spots in the NCAA championship game. That's tomorrow right here in Atlanta at the Georgia Dome. But as we wait for that tip-off, there's so much fun going on for the thousands of sports fans who have flooded the city. Among them, Nischelle Turner. She's at Centennial Olympic Park where some A-list stars have joined you there. And they're giving free concerts! So Nischelle, it seems like this is much more popular than the games themselves?

NISCHELLE TURNER, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, you know, that's debatable, Fred, but I will tell you this. This is a great place to be today because there are no games going on. So, it's a perfect place to come out to, Centennial Park, today, and listen to some free music from arguably one of the biggest stars to ever hit the music stage. And I'm talking about Sting.

You know, you talked about the tournament down to the final two. Today, we have the big three. Let me give you a look at what's going on here in Centennial Park. If you look up here, they just opened up the gates. So you see all of the throngs of folks coming in. There was this mad dash for the front when they opened these gates. I mean, people were hauling it. They were taking off, trying to be in the very front so they could see Sting.

Now, the big three will be playing today. That's Grace Potter and the Nocturnals, Sting, and Dave Matthews. Grace Potter takes the stage at 4:15, Sting at 6:00, and then Dave Matthews at 8:00. And of course, you know when you do live shots, you go, no, no, come back, you want to be on TV? Come on. All right, see? There you go. Where are you guys from?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I'm from California.

TURNER: How is that hot dog?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Absolutely wonderful.

TURNER: It looks pretty darn good. Are you guys having a good time?


TURNER: Who are you excited to see today? Is it Sting, Dave Matthews, Grace Potter?


TURNER: Blind Pilot! I would be remiss if I didn't mention Blind Pilot. They take the stage at 3:00 today. So, we've got Blind Pilot at 3:00, Grace Potter and the Nocturnals - thank you guys, have a good time -- at 4:15. Sting at 6:00, and Dave Matthews at 8:00, Fred. Now, you see, we even have folks from California like me out here enjoying the day at Centennial Park. This is called, I should say, the Big Dance Concert Series. Three days of free music. Lots of fun.

WHITFIELD: Right. Lots of fun and hey, lots of great music for really, literally a great big old band, at least today. All right, thanks so much Nischelle Turner right there in Centennial Park. Have a great time. Hey, try to stop and have a hot dog or something, too, while you're at it.

All right. Straight ahead in the CNN NEWSROOM, NASA plans to lasso a big hunk of rock on its next mission. Find out what the scientists are up to.

And North Korea seems ready to file a missile this week, and the whole world is on high alert now. Find out how China is reacting, next.


WHITFIELD: The South Korean government predicts North Korea is days away from a test of a missile. And the U.S. is reassuring China to crack down on its ally.

Could new comments from the Chinese president be a response? Here's what he said at an economic forum today. Saying this, quote, "No one should be allowed to throw a region and even the whole world into chaos for selfish gains while pursuing its own interests. A country should accommodate the legitimate interests of others." President Jinping did not mention North Korea by name, but it sounds like a little finger wagging there.

I'm joined now by Sue Mi Terry, a senior research scholar at Columbia University. She's worked for the CIA and the National Security Council. Good to see you.


WHITFIELD: So, is it likely that North Korea would take notice of what China is saying?

TERRY: Definitely, North Korea is taking notice of this. This is a very intriguing development. I would say China's policy towards North Korea is definitely evolving, to say the least. And we're seeing subtle shifts in its policy vis a vis the north. Obviously, China is North Korea's -- the most important influence. China is the only country that could influence North Korea. One country in the world that has any kind of leverage.

So this is definitely an interesting development. If you remember, in 2010, in March and in November, in the aftermath of the (INAUDIBLE) sinking when the North Koreans sunk the South Korean ship and then attack South Korean island Yeonpyeong, China did not criticize even back then. So this is definitely an intriguing development, I would say.

WHITFIELD: You say China can certainly influence North Korea, and it can also be the one to sort of penalize North Korea in a monetary way. Do you think that this is kind of the prelude to that? That China may say, we're going to cut back on some finances if you continue what you're doing?

TERRY: We'll see how much China is really planning to penalize North Korea. I wouldn't go as far as to say that China is completely reversing its policy towards North Korea, but it's definitely taking different measures right now to deter North Korea from taking further provocative steps toward South Korea and Washington, obviously.

WHITFIELD: So, North Korea has ignored China's other pleas not to do nuclear tests. China's foreign ministry said today it is, quote, "seriously concerned." So, what is China's worry?

TERRY: Well, China's worry -- I think for the first time, the Obama administration has shown very recently that we're quite serious, and we're not interested in playing this age-old game of North Korea acting provocatively and the world returning to the negotiating table to just give more concessions to North Korea.

The theme has changed. We have sent, obviously, just recent behavior, the strengthening of behavior with our actions with Washington, and coordinated actions and military exercises, flying B- 2s and B-52s. I think China has really taken notice of this and realized finally that this situation is very destabilizing, and they need to do something about it.

WHITFIELD: If North Korea doesn't listen to the admonishments coming from China, then what?

TERRY: Well, we'll see. The real question is -- and this is something we're debating ourselves among North Korea watchers and China watchers as well -- is that what kind of leverage does China really have? The answer is we don't quite know because China has never really exercised true oppression of the north for fear that -- they fear destabilizing situations, and they fear instability in North Korea.

So we have to see how serious China really is in suppressing the north. To really find out if it has the leverage that we think it has.

WHITFIELD: Sue Mi Terry, senior research scholar at Columbia University, thanks so much for your time.

TERRY: Sure.

WHITFIELD: Up next, we're headed straight to the Georgia Dome to catch up with CNN Sports' Joe Carter and all things NCAA. And later, comedian Kathy Griffin says it's sad but true. Find out what she's talking about in the NEWSROOM.


WHITFIELD: So the big dance started with 68 college basketball teams. But in a little over 24 hours from now, the final two will play for the NCAA title. Louisville versus Michigan. And Joe Carter is outside the Georgia Dome where the championship game takes place tomorrow. So Joe, Louisville and Michigan fought hard for these spots. What strengths do they bring?

JOE CARTER, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, I tell you what, Fredricka. Michigan, you can probably say this program is back. This team one win away from doing what the Fab Five was unable to do 20 years ago, and that's win a national championship. A fan yesterday coined a great phrase, called this team the Fresh Five. And last night's hero or last night's star, Mitch McGary. The big fellow, 6'10, 250 pound freshman. He was called upon to lead his team, not Trey Burke, the national player of the year. Michigan went on to win 61-56, and afterwards, John Beilein giving his player props.


JOHN BEILEIN, MICHIGAN HEAD COACH: The best has yet to come. He continues to practice hard. He continues to study the game. He's got, as I've said several times, such a high ceiling to his overall game. And by the way, his personality and leadership is terrific.


CARTER: Now, after losing to Michigan, legendary coach Jim Boehiem, let's just say he was a little edgy. During the post-game press conference, he basically lit up a reporter for asking if he'll return next season to coach. This is the 68-year-old's response.


JIM BOEHEIM, SYRACUSE HEAD COACH: Why ask that question? Are you going to ask John Beilein that question?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Well, we ask 19-year-old kids the same question, and they handle it better than you are.

BOEHEIM: You ask a 19-year-old kid if he's going to retire? Really? I didn't --

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: If they're going to be back next year.

BOEHEIM: If you're going to say something smart, at least be smart.


CARTER: Wow, wow, so testy words, Fredricka. But I have to back up the reporter here. He's not totally out of bounds because a lot of speculation was that Boeheim was going to hang it up after this season, given the fact that he has been there for 37 years and the fact that he's getting toward the end of his career. So it's not an out-of-bounds question for sure.

WHITFIELD: I don't think he likes that one, no, no, no. That one hurt.

All right. So Kevin Ware, let's talk about him. He's been a real inspiration for his team this week. And again, he was last night at the game. Courtside, right?

CARTER: In a big way, Fredricka. The team was down 12 points to Wichita State. Kevin Ware sitting on the sidelines, obviously leg broken, with churches, gets out of his seat, hobbles over to the team huddle, gives the guys a pep-up speech, kind of a pep talk, gets in their faces and says guys, we have to turn this thing around. A huge momentum shift for Louisville, and they talked about beating Wichita State.


PEYTON SIVA, LOUISVILLE GUARD: He's part of this team, and we know how much it would mean for him to be out there, and he's just trying to give us whatever we needed. You know, the extra motivation, the extra boost to get over the hump.

LUKE HANCOCK, LOUISVILLE FORWARD: Kevin is a huge part of our team. He's one of the emotional leaders out there. And you know, I guess he felt like he had to tell us something to get us going. He does it when he's out there on the court. He's going to keep doing it when he's not on the court. He's an emotional leader for this team.


CARTER: So from 68 teams down to two teams, the national championship game tomorrow night. Louisville/Michigan, just after 9:00 p.m. Eastern, Fredricka. A lot was said going into the tournament that it could be anyone's tournament. But here we have two top five teams - excuse me --all year long, these guys kind of hovering around. Both were ranked number one at one point. So through it all, we end up with two storied, two tough programs in the championship game.

WHITFIELD: Nice! And I love the whole brotherhood that is kind of underscored in the - I don't know. The trail, this journey, to try to clinch and clinch the championship. All right, Joe Carter, thanks so much.

All right. From basketball to football. Find out why the Jets' Tim Tebow is trending today. I have details.

Plus, NASA wants to grab an asteroid and move it closer to earth. Pretty serious about that one. That's just one of the big plans for space exploration. Find out what else they want to do.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE) UNIDENTIFIED MALE: My father thought I was a nut for taking the job. But I took the job working at Burger King. I became operations manager and director of Burger King in Europe.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: One, he's coming from a very strong corporate sector, and he says he's now paying for his sins.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Now, I want to use the knowledge that I gained and give it to others. So, I'm creating this living university here so that people can come enjoy themselves. And by osmosis, if nothing else, take over everything that we know.

Hello, everyone. My name is Juan (INAUDIBLE), and I'm the owner and founder of Rancho Margot.



WHITFIELD: All right, NASA plans to pull an asteroid closer to earth and then send astronauts to it. That's one story trending online right now. The space agency wants to use a robot-controlled aircraft to drag a small asteroid closer, and then send astronauts there to find out crucial information for dealing with bigger asteroids.

And Tim Tebow is probably not on the Seattle Seahawks radar. There had been rumors that the team was looking to snag him as a backup to quarterback Russell Wilson, but "The Seattle Times" says not likely.

And Kathy Griffin's talk show is being canceled. The comedian mentioned it during a stand-up show in Cincinnati on Friday. Her show has been on bravo for two seasons now.

And I'll be back at the top of the 4:00 hour. We're giving you a sneak peek at the new season of Mad Men. One of the show's stars will be here. Find out from the show's creator what the mysterious Don Draper will be up to.

Plus, you won't be seeing the Michael Jackson wrongful death trial on television after all. I'll explain why.

Keep it right here. "THE NEXT LIST" starts right now.