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Deal Reached on Background Checks; Korean Tension At Historic High; Politicians in UK Pay Tribute to Thatcher; Tragic Teen Death After Rape Went Viral; Rationing Baby Formula in England, China

Aired April 10, 2013 - 12:00   ET



MICHAEL HOLMES, CNN ANCHOR: And I'm Michael Holmes. Thanks for your company today.

We're going to begin, of course, North Korea topping the news, keeping the world guessing. It could launch -- test launch, anyway, some missiles at any time. And that is missiles, plural. That's what we're hearing from the Pentagon and that's what South Koreans are saying and nobody knows if the North Koreans are bluffing or not. We're live in Seoul in just a couple of minutes.

MALVEAUX: And here in the United States, a breakthrough in the gun control debate. Two senators announcing a deal that expands background checks. We're going to take you live to Capitol Hill as well.

And celebrity chef Anthony Bourdain live on our show today. He's going to talk about his new CNN show premiering Sunday called "Anthony Bourdain Parts Unknown," where he travels to unusual places like Myanmar to sample the local foods.

HOLMES: Yes, and we're really looking forward to that, huh?

All right, let's begin, though, with a bit of a breakthrough in the fight over new gun laws. Two senators, a Democrat and a Republican, reaching a deal on expanding background checks.

MALVEAUX: So across the network today, we are bringing you in depth coverage, guns under fire, a CNN special report on background checks.

Want to get right to Dana Bash on Capitol Hill with details of the deal.

Dana, we know it's all about universal background checks. The Obama administration wanted this, but it is not the complete picture here. It really is kind of a watered down version. What does he win?

DANA BASH, CNN CHIEF CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: That's right, the president, you hear him talking all the time about universal background checks. This does fall short of that, but it would expand the current law. Currently, background checks are only required at firearms dealers. This would expand it in two places, gun shows and Internet sales. But it would, as you mention, leave out all other private sales, which is, you know, a lot of -- a lot of interactions that are left out from this requirement of background checks.

The other key part of this, if you talk to gun control advocates, is that they believe that the idea that this legislation would force the sellers to keep a record, it's crucial because otherwise the background check wouldn't be enforceable and the gun itself wouldn't be traceable if it were used in a crime.

Listen to the Republican, Pat Toomey, who is the man who made this all happen because he is a very conservative Republican who has really never dipped his toe into this whole issue of guns, particularly when it comes to bipartisan compromise. Listen to him explain it.


SEN. PAT TOOMEY (R), PENNSYLVANIA: The common ground rests on a simple proposition, and that is that criminals and the dangerously mentally ill shouldn't have guns. I don't know anyone who disagrees with that premise from either political party or whatever folks views might be on broader gun rights issues. So if we start with the notion that dangerous criminals and dangerously mentally ill people shouldn't have guns, the question is, how can we accomplish that? Now, background checks are not a cure-all by any means, but they can be helpful.


BASH: Now, the reason why this breakthrough is called a breakthrough, is so significant, is because Senator Toomey, the Republican and the Democrat you saw standing with him, Joe Manchin of West Virginia, both have A ratings from the NRA. So the idea is that these are two men who believe that they can get others along and get the 60 votes that they need to pass what will essentially be an amendment.

But as soon as they were done with the press conference, Suzanne and Michael, the NRA put out a press release saying that they are opposing this. And I'll just read you the first line which kind of says it all. "Expanding background checks at gun shows will not prevent the next shooting, will not solve violent crime and will not keep our kids safe in schools."

So this is really going to be a true test for the power of the NRA, that they are going to now be up against two of their -- of their -- what had been their most loyal senators who are saying -- who are breaking with them and saying that they want to at least take these steps to move towards what they consider curbing gun violence.

MALVEAUX: All right, Dana, thank you so much. We know the first vote's going to happen on Thursday and then there will be a number of debates in the next couple of weeks.

HOLMES: Yes. And, of course, expanded clip size and assault weapons, they're off the table all together.

MALVEAUX: Completely.

HOLMES: Yes. MALVEAUX: The president hoping to get his new budget proposal. It will draw some Republican leaders to the table. It was delivered to Congress this morning.

HOLMES: Yes. For the first time he has included changes to Medicare and Social Security. But he stressed these deficit reduction proposals are not a starting point for upcoming discussions.


BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: If anyone thinks I'll finish the job of deficit reduction on the backs of middle class families or through spending cuts alone that actually hurt our economy short-term, they should think again. When it comes to deficit reduction, I've already met Republicans more than halfway. So in the coming days and weeks, I hope that Republicans will come forward and demonstrate that they're really as serious, as serious about the deficits and debt as they claim to be.


MALVEAUX: The president's budget and news from the Federal Reserve are pushing the markets higher today. Both the Dow and S&P 500 hitting new trading highs. As you can see, the Dow up by 118 points.

HOLMES: All right, right now it is 1:00 in the morning, Thursday, in North and South Korea. This anticipated missile test launch we've been waiting for really from North Korea didn't happen on the day that many analysts predicted it would.

MALVEAUX: But don't think that the tensions are any lower right now in Asia. In fact, the top American admiral in the Pacific today says he cannot remember when there was so much uncertainty about North Korea. So much guessing about what is the country going to do next.

HOLMES: Yes, let's go live now to Seoul in South Korea. Anna Corin is standing by there.

Anna, you know, the analysts, the military leaders are worried, you know, but one of the things that came out today that was interesting was, we were waiting for a missile launch. There could be multiple ones. What's the sense there in Seoul?

ANNA COREN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, that's exactly right. It didn't happen today or yesterday just gone, but it could happen in the coming days. And then that news out of the Pentagon that there could be multiple missiles launched. So what we do know is that two missile launchers have been positioned to the east coast with a Musudan missile. Now, this is a medium-range missile. It can travel up to 4,000 kilometers.

And this, if it goes ahead, would prove that North Korea is successful in launching a missile that could potentially strike here in South Korea, potentially strike Japan and U.S. bases in Guam. So while U.S. and South Korean military are certainly on heightened alert, you know, the feeling here in Seoul is one of, you know, business as usual. People have been living in this climate for, you know, 60 years, ever since the Korean war ended back in 1953.

Let's now have a listen to what one Korean man had to say.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translator): I am not worried about my safety. I am worried about our economy, which would be influenced. I don't think any war breaks out. I am just worried about the situation where foreigners might be scared, even if they do not have to be.


COREN: So that is the feeling from one South Korean man.

But as I say, people are generally getting on with their lives and a little bit oblivious, I guess, to what is happening to the north.

HOLMES: Yes, Anna, I'm curious, you know, the South, I mean everybody seems to feel this is a test and they're not actually going to shoot at anyone, but is there any more of a sense of what Kim Jong-un wants? It's like a recalcitrant child at the moment and nobody -- he's not coming out and saying what he wants for all of this.

COREN: Yes. That's a very good way of putting it. He's the naughty schoolboy in the schoolyard, isn't he? We don't know what he wants. We know that his nuclear weapons program is not for sale. He said that is nonnegotiable. That North Korea is going ahead with this regardless of the sanctions, regardless of the international condemnation.

So what does he want? Political leverage? He wants legitimacy? He wants a place at the bargaining table with the United States? You know, he's grabbing international headlines around the world. You know, this crisis on the Korean peninsula is pretty much dominating news right around the world, which would make this very young, untested leader extremely happy. So, you know, we can all guess as to what his motives are, what he wants out of this. But you'd have to assume, Michael, that at the moment he's just enjoying, you know, wreaking havoc in this part of the world.

HOLMES: Yes, which is what he's doing. Anna, good to see you. Anna Coren there in Seoul.

MALVEAUX: Yes, now she says that South Koreans, they're trying to take this in stride. They've been living with this for quite some time. There are other folks who are really feeling very tense about the situation.

I want to show you. This is the city government, Yokohama, Japan, jumping the gun earlier today. They actually sent out this emergency tweet today telling thousands of people the North Koreans had already launched a missile. The emergency statement saying -- it was prepared ahead of time, but somebody in their crisis management center sent it by mistake. City officials pulled it just a few minutes and followed it up with this apology.

HOLMES: Yes, no kidding. It reads this. "We will further look into why this kind of thing happened, and we will make sure there will be no recurrence."

Many, many people in Asia, of course, jittery today. Why wouldn't they be, living within missile range of North Korea. That's a heck of a mistake.

MALVEAUX: And tonight at 6:00 Eastern, our colleague Wolf Blitzer, he's going to devote an entire hour to the crisis in North Korea. You're going to want to tune in. It's a special edition of "THE SITUATION ROOM" and it starts at 6:00 p.m. Eastern.

HOLMES: Get this, the U.S. thanking Cuba, and effusively so, for turning over two American fugitives. Josh an Sharyn Hakken were booked into a Florida jail today. U.S. officials have said that the couple kidnapped their two young sons from their grandmother's Florida home and sailed them to Cuba.

MALVEAUX: Well, it was a CNN crew that found them in Havana. Hours later, they were in the hands of the FBI. Now, the couple is charged with several crimes, including kidnapping and child neglect. Hakkens lost custody of their children just last year after drugs and weapons were found in their hotel room.

HOLMES: In China, two more people have died from bird flu. That brings the death toll now to nine. So far, no evidence bird flu is spreading from person to person, which would, of course, be a critical development and would cause a serious epidemic potentially. But now the World Health Organization is investigating suspicious clusters of the virus within families.

MALVEAUX: So it's a sign what one family member could have actually infected another. At least 28 people have contracted the virus in China. And this, a bizarre twist. Chinese police have now detained at least 10 people for spreading rumors -- just spreading rumors about the virus. They allegedly made up reports of bird flu cases and then posted them on blogs. Can only imagine the panic that that can cause.

HOLMES: Yes, not something you want to kid about really.

OK, here's more of what we're working on this hour for AROUND THE WORLD.

Chicago has suffered from gun violence more than most cities in the U.S. Well, this hour, First Lady Michelle Obama is trying to do something about it.

MALVEAUX: She is in her hometown of Chicago speaking to high school students. Going to bring that to you live as soon as it starts.

And it sounds like a story from the Great Depression. Stores from Australia to the U.K. now having to ration baby formula? We're going to tell you what is behind the shortage.

HOLMES: And anyone can talk about French or Chinese food, but here on AROUND THE WORLD, we do like to do things differently. We're going to explore the colorful cuisine of Myanmar.

MALVEAUX: And who better to do it with than celebrity chef and new CNN host Anthony Bourdain. He'll join us.

And while we've got Anthony Bourdain love on the show, do you have anything you'd like to ask him? Well, feel free. Tweet us your questions @suzannemalveaux and @holmescnn. Be sure to include #askbourdain.


HOLMES: Welcome back. Here's some more of the stories making news AROUND THE WORLD.

MALVEAUX: In France, same-sex couples might be one step closer to marriage. Late last night, the French senate approved one part of a bill which grants gay couples the right to marry. Another vote is expected on the full bill tomorrow or Friday.

HOLMES: Politicians in Great Britain are paying tribute to former Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher. Have a listen.


DAVID CAMERON, BRITISH PRIME MINISTER: Today, we in the House of Commons are here to pay our own tributes to an extraordinary leader and an extraordinary woman. What she achieved even before her three terms in office was remarkable.

ED MILLIBAND, BRITISH LABOR PARTY: In typical homespun style on breakfast TV, she said this in 1995. "Consensus doesn't give you any direction. It is like mixing all constituent ingredients together and not coming out with a cake. Democracy is about the people being given a choice."

It was that approach that enabled her to define the politics of a whole generation and influence the politics of generations to come.


MALVEAUX: Thatcher passed away Monday at the age of 87 from a stroke. The Iron Lady, as she was nicknamed, was the first and only woman to lead Britain as prime minister.

Thatcher's funeral will be held next Wednesday at St. Paul's Cathedral.

HOLMES: In Nova Scotia, Canada, funeral plans underway for a teenager who was allegedly gang raped by a group of boys and then bullied about it on social media for a year and a half.

MALVEAUX: It is such a tragic story. Seventeen-year-old Rehtaeh Parsons was taken off life support a week after hanging herself.

Paula Newton is joining us live from Ottawa, Canada. It is such a tragic, tragic story. I understand that her mother now is speaking out about her life, her death and the circumstances around all of this. PAULA NEWTON, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yeah, Suzanne. Just imagine how tough it is for this story -- for this family to really talk about this story so soon after she died. They're going to have a funeral for her this weekend. But her mother, Leah Parsons, saying, look, I want everyone to know what happened to my daughter, and I want to know how it happened.

So, apparently, her daughter was at a party. Everyone started drinking. Her daughter says that at least four boys gang raped her. What happened afterwards, Suzanne, was a picture of this alleged incident was circulated on social media. And after that her mother says that the bullying, the insults were just relentless.

I want you to hear now from Leah Parsons.


LEAH PARSONS, TEEN'S MOTHER: One girl that was her friend put on her status, "Sluts need to leave this school anyway." Just bullying and boys that she didn't know send her messages, you want to have fun? You did it with my friends. Why don't we get together? It just was nonstop.


NEWTON: You know, all this just tore this young woman apart. Her mother says they were trying to get her psychological help, but she was just emotionally distraught. And her mother says one day feeling completely desperate that she locked herself in the bathroom and her mother knew that she was in trouble.

Listen to Leah Parsons again.


PARSONS: I didn't even knock on the door. I just kicked it open and could feel the weight of her body on the door. I didn't think anything. I just opened the door and said, Rehtaeh, and I had to cut her down. She was hung. She was hanging.


NEWTON: Can you imagine? And so Leah Parsons has said her daughter hasn't even been buried. She's speaking out about this. And why?

Charges haven't been laid, Suzanne, and I spoke with police yesterday. And they said, look, we just did not have enough evidence to bring anyone to trial, not even for the fact that an image of this alleged incident was texted and e-mailed to people, even though that in itself is an offense under the child pornography laws here in Canada.

Today we do have a bit of an about-face from the provincial government. They say they will now look into the case again and see if any charges will be forthcoming. Suzanne?

MALVEAUX: All right, thank you. I understand, too, that she had moved away from her school and the social -- because of social media, because of those visuals and those messages that she was still traumatized by all of that. She could not get away from it.

Thank you so much. We appreciate it.

Twenty-nine current and former students shot in one Chicago high school last year, if you can believe that.

HOLMES: Yeah. Michelle Obama is visiting that school today to talk about gun violence. That starts in just a few minutes. And we will bring that to you live.

MALVEAUX: And ahead, celebrity chef and new CNN show host, Anthony Bourdain, joining us live. He is just back from Myanmar and Libya and he's got some stories to tell.


HOLMES: Welcome back. In China and England, families are being told they can't buy all the baby formula they might want to buy.

MALVEAUX: It's actually because the supermarkets are now rationing this out. Isa Soares explains why this is happening.


ISA SOARES, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Restrictions in Australia, curbs in Hong Kong, and now rationing in the U.K., feeding your baby has just gotten even more stressful.

Here, milk formula powder is being rationed at leading supermarkets because of surging demand in China. I've just tried to buy three cans of formula at the supermarket and I've been kindly asked to only buy two, but if you're a parent, you'll know this won't get your very far. If you've got a newborn, it will last about six to seven days. With twins, you'd be running out already.

Danone, who manufactures Actimel and cow and goat milk, say the restrictions were put in place to avoid bulk buying of what it called unofficial exports to China. The company apologized to British parents for any inconvenience.

Behind the rationing is China's thirst for Western-made formula. In 2008 the industrial chemical melamine got into the nation's milk supply, killing six children and leaving thousands seriously ill. As a result, many parents distrust formula produced in the country, preferring instead to pay more for international brands.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE (via translator): Even 2,000 yuan is not enough for a month's supply of baby food. All the family income spent on the baby's daily necessities. Most of it goes to its food.

SOARES: China's demand for milk has forced governments to step in.

In Hong Kong curbs have been introduced at customs. Travelers there cannot leave with more than 1.8 kilograms of formula. Last month, several people were arrested for smuggling more than the allotted quantity.

Australia, too, has introduced restrictions.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The reason for the shortage is that a lot of people were out buying it and sending it overseas, so people left here finding it harder.

SOARES: Manufacturers tell CNN that there's no shortage of supply.

That may be the case, but some may be stocking up. A quick search on eBay shows hundreds of packs of powder formula on sale in bulk.

Isa Soares, CNN, London.


HOLMES: Well, First Lady Michelle Obama back in her hometown today.

MALVEAUX: But she is actually there to talk about something very serious. Of course, we are talking about gun violence out of Chicago. She's going to be speaking to high school students as well. Going to bring that to you live as soon as it starts.