Return to Transcripts main page


Two Killed When Bus Overturns; Senate Begins Gun Control Debate; Michelle Obama On Gun Control; Dow And S&P 500 Hit Record Highs; Ryan Seacrest Home Swatted; Jay-Z Blasts Critics Of Cuba Trip In Song; President Reaches Across the Aisle; Controversy over Cuban Vacation; Tornado on the Ground in Mississippi

Aired April 11, 2013 - 13:00   ET


SUZANNE MALVEAUX, CNN ANCHOR: Tornadoes, damaging wind, large hail, major cities in the line of fire today. Plus, the Dow opened at an all-time high today. It is heading higher. We are watching your money and asking should you buy or sell? And Ryan Seacrest, he is just the latest to get pranked, he along with Russell Brand, Rihanna and even Ashton Kutcher were SWATed. But what is SWATing and why do people do it? We're going to explain and we're going to have Harvey Levin from TMZ joining us live, up next. This is CNN NEWSROOM, and I'm Suzanne Malveaux.

At least two people have been killed. It's a terrible Turner bus accident. This is in the Dallas area. The bus had mostly elderly passengers heading to casinos in Oklahoma when it hit an impact buffer. At least 36 people, they've been taken to area hospitals, three of them with critical injuries. I want to bring in Bud Gillette of our Dallas affiliate, KTVT, joining us live from the scene of the crash. First of all, how did this happen?

BUD GILLETTE, CORRESPONDENT, KTVT: Well, Suzanne, this is a turnpike, the George H. W. Bush turnpike. And it's a feeder road, if you will, to a straight line to Oklahoma. And it's believed that's where the bus was headed this morning. I can stand back here and zoom in. You can see it is still a very active scene, that you hear helicopters overhead. What we're told is that the bus which was headed in the direction you're looking at, northbound, hit what's called a rubber impact attenuator, and that is essentially a rubberized barrier to keep people in the highway. Well, it hit that rubber barrier, went across that lane of traffic, the next lane of traffic, then hit a concrete barrier that separates the lanes. And at that time, it flipped over.

We had, as you pointed out, two people dead here at the scene. They're still trying to determine how many folks were on the bus. At last count, there were 45. It can hold 49, but it's theorized not everybody was on it and they would be picking some folks up to go, again, to Oklahoma. We had 36 people gone to a number of area hospitals, including nine to a major trauma center, Parkland Hospital, which, on a good day and without a lot of traffic, you can get there in 15 or so minutes. And they're used to handling this kind of thing. There was a mass casualty put into place here just almost automatically. We're told from the Irving Police Department that several agencies just started sending people when they heard. Didn't wait for a plan to be called or anything, they just started throwing police officers to help direct traffic, fire and ambulances and things like that.


GILLETTE: And they had the people -- had people swarming on the scene almost immediately. This is a major intersection and this is going to be closed down for several more hours as the Texas Department of Public Safety will do the investigation as this is a state highway.

MALVEAUX: And, Bud, we are looking at very dramatic pictures. Do we have any idea at all why -- what happened with the bus driver here? Why did the bus veer over in the first place? Do we know what happened on that bus?

GILLETTE: We don't know. We can probably find out because he survived the accident. He's in the hospital, according to the medical director for the Irving Fire Department here. And they'll be able to get specifics from him when he is available to talk to them. Again, we don't know what his situation is. We don't know how injured he was, for instance whether he's in surgery. There are a lot of people in surgery now, we're told, at least nine for this particular hospital, this trauma hospital, Parkland Hospital. But, again, he hit this rubber barrier, this rubber impact attenuator it's called, and apparently bounced across a couple of lanes of traffic before hitting the concrete barrier and flipping over on its side.

MALVEAUX: Wow. All right, Bud Gillette. If you have any more information, we're going to get back to you on that. We really appreciate the update.

We've been following this story as well, the Senate voting, just in the last hour, to break a Republican filibuster move towards debate on new gun control proposals. The president called the families of the shooting victims of Newtown, Connecticut after that vote happened. Yesterday, we saw the first lady, Michelle Obama, making an emotional appeal in Chicago to stop the gun violence. And she talked about Hadiya Pendleton. That was the 15 year old who was shot and killed. This was just days after performing at the inauguration.


MICHELLE OBAMA, FIRST LADY OF THE UNITED STATES: And as I visited with the Pendleton family at Hadiya's funeral, I couldn't get over how familiar they felt to me, because what I realized was Hadiya's family was just like my family. Hadiya Pendleton was me and I was her. But I got to grow up and go to Princeton and Harvard Law School and have a career and a family and the most blessed life I could ever imagine. And Hadiya, oh, we know that story.


MALVEAUX: An emotional first lady. I want to bring in Dana Bash on Capitol Hill. And, Dana, I mean, you know, the first lady really feels that. I mean, that was just blocks away from her home. I mean, it really does hit her home. She grew up there on the south side of Chicago. This has turned into something that is very personal, I think, for the White House and also those families who were there inside the Senate chamber from Newtown who were watching that vote. What was it like? I mean, this is really extraordinarily different than what we normally see.

DANA BASH, CNN SENIOR CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: It really is. You know, so much -- so much of the debate around here can be done with sort of nameless, faceless people that they're talking about when it comes to legislation and how it would affect them. Not this -- not in this case and not at all, Suzanne. I was in the Senate chamber when the Senate voted. It's a procedural measure but a critical one that allows them to get to the point where they can start debate. I saw the Newtown families sitting there watching. And there's no question that the presence of these families, these parents of these little children who have been here for three days now, you see them in the hallways, it's palpable.

Now, at the end of the vote, you still had 31 senators who voted against moving forward. And, you know, to be fair, those people have very serious policy concerns about anything that has to do with curbing or putting new gun restrictions on the books -- on the law books. So, there really is a big policy difference and we have to be true to that. But it is -- there's no question that there really is a different feel here in the Capitol about this debate than we have had about so many others in the recent past.

MAL VEAUX: All right. Dana, I know you'll be following it very closely, obviously. In the next couple of weeks, they'll be putting out new proposals as well. And, of course, any gun control proposal is going to have to also be approved by the House. We're actually going to see what speaker John Boehner has to say about the gun control debate. His weekly news conference is going to happen in a couple minutes or so. We'll be listening in for any comments that he makes, developments and, of course, we'll dip into it live as we're monitoring that there.

Stocks edging higher today. Both the Dow, S&P 500 at record highs. Alison Kosik on the floor of the New York stock exchange. Alison, I'm going to turn off my phone here and let you talk.

ALISON KOSIK, CNN BUSINESS CORRESPONDENT: OK. You know what? Everybody wants to know what's driving this market higher? There are two things that are driving it higher. For one, the Federal Reserve is pumping billions of dollars into treasuries and mortgage-backed securities. That's pushing interest rates lower and sending investors the best game in town, the best investment in town and that's stocks.

The other part of it is actually a slowly improving U.S. economy, especially with housing. In fact, today we got some new numbers that first-time jobless claims fell more than expected last week. But the interesting thing is you're trying to point to one reason why you're seeing the market jet has been so high. There really is no major reason for this. You know, retail sales numbers are coming in today. They're not so great. The jobs market is really, really weak. So, this is really a big momentum play at this point. It looks like investors are just sort of not even looking at the information and instead you're seeing, let's see, the S&P 500 rocket higher, up 12 percent so far this year. The path of least resistance really is higher. Investors see this moving train and they want to jump on before it leaves the station. Guess what we're watching for now, Suzanne? Dow 15,000. Did you notice, we're getting close?

MALVEAUX: Wow, I know, right? That's pretty exciting. Should folks be -- this is -- this is a good thing.

KOSIK: Oh, sure, it's a good thing. But also it's putting it in perspective. You know, some people are saying is this too much too fast. And it really isn't because if you sort of factor in inflation, the Dow is still actually below its record highs. Also, you have to look at the time period we're in. It's not unusual to see a rally this time of year, meaning from November through April. We are actually at the tail end of the best months for the stock market because if you look back in history, since 1950 during that best month -- those best months for stocks during November through April, the S&P 500 has accumulated 1,400 points. The worst months, of course, are from May through October. That's why, you know the old saying, sell in May, go away. Says one analyst, Sam Sobo, he's a Chief Equity Strategist at S&P Capital I.Q.

MALVEAUX: All right. Alison, appreciate it.

The prank is called celebrity SWATing. And "American idol" host, Ryan Seacrest, he is just the latest target. Police rushed to Seacrest's home in Beverly Hills yesterday after a 911 call reported armed men shooting their way inside his home. Well, when officers arrived, they found Seacrest at home but no armed men. The dangerous expensive prank, it has now come to be known as SWATing because police SWAT teams are often dispatched. The Seacrest joins a growing list of SWATed stars, including Brianna, Justin Timberlake, as well as Miley Cyrus.

Celebrity reporter, Harvey Levin of TMZ, live in L.A. Harvey, thank you so much for joining us. We really appreciate it. You've been covering this.


MALVEAUX: And I imagine this is pretty frustrating for a lot of celebrities and the police as well. What do they tell you?

LEVIN: Well, we know a fair amount about this now. There -- initially, it seemed like there was a 12-year-old boy who was behind the first cases of SWATing involving Justin Timberlake, Miley Cyrus, a couple of others. He got caught. And as soon as he got caught, we know that there was a group that took over and they are responsible for this spade of SWATing incidents over the last couple of weeks.

You will recall, Suzanne, I'm sure, that there -- that there was a hackers group that was getting into financial information from, you know, Michelle Obama on down. It is that group, we know, that is taking -- that is laying claim to doing all of these recent SWATing incidents, including Ryan Seacrest, P-Diddy, Kim Kardashian, Paris Hilton, Russell Brand, Selena Gomez, that this group is claiming responsibility for doing all of this. It is really frustrating the police departments in this area. And every time it happens, they send a dozen or more police cars out, helicopters. And the probability of somebody getting hurt in something like this is really pretty high.

MALVEAUX: And so, Harvey, I mean, this seems to be growing here. You say there's this one group in particular in that area. Do you think this is something that's becoming more popular as people get attention and they see, wow, we can get the police to come, we can get the SWAT Team to come and actually respond to these crank calls?

LEVIN: You would think so. And I guess the question -- the predicate of the question is, are there a lot of copycats doing this? Based on what we know, the answer so far is no, that this particular hacker's group is the one that seems to be doing all of them. And if you look at it, you know, a couple of times, we've seen three in a day. But they're taking almost glee in doing this. And they're basically picking a list of people that they think will get a lot of attention. And so far, they've succeed in that.

MALVEAUX: Yes. And, Harvey, I know the other story, we all have been following this, of course, Beyonce and Jay-Z's recent trip to Cuba. Now, Jay-Z has put out a rap basically defending himself and the trip. I want you to listen to this, this was just released moments.


JAY-Z: I done turn Havana to Atlanta fine, Guayabora shirts and bandanas, politicians never did (INAUDIBLE) for me, except lie to me, distort history. Want to give me jail time and a fine. Fine, let me commit a real crime. I'm in Cuba, I love Cubans . This communist talk is so confusing , when it's from China, the very mic that I'm using (INAUDIBLE) idiot wind, the Bob Dylan of rap music.


MALVEAUX: So, we just heard from Jay Carney at the White House. He said, no, he hasn't talked to the president and the president hasn't talked to him about his Cuba trip but that U.S. officials do say that it was sanctioned. What do you know about -- you know, is there any back story about Jay-Z or Beyonce on this trip?

LEVIN: Yes, it's interesting. I mean, look, when this happened, we put some posts up on our Web site and so did a lot of other people asking, you know, what exactly are they doing there? Because the pictures that came out were all pictures of them sight seeing. And you can't go to Cuba for purely tourism.


LEVIN: You're just not allowed to do it so it raised questions. We called lots and lots of people including Jay-Z and Beyonce. They were mum. They wouldn't say whether they got a cultural exchange license or whatever. And everybody was just not talking about it. When this song came out early this morning, we were on the phone immediately. And I will tell you this, Suzanne, we called -- oh, gosh. We called 10 offices of either senators or Congressmen within 10 minutes or so of the time that the song actually came out and we put it up on the site. They all knew about it. I mean, it was so interesting. Every single one not only knew about it, they had already heard it. It was like they were sitting at the computer waiting for the release of a song. And they were all trying to find out as well. I mean, it was -- I have never seen -- I have never seen anything like this where Congress was so, you know --

MALVEAUX: Engaged.

LEVIN: -- poised to -- it was -- it was amazing. And they all wanted to know, based on the lyric, whether Obama in some way sanctioned the trip and felt that he might be in trouble for doing it.

MALVEAUX: Yes. I -- amazing, huh? When you got that moment, everybody, all members of Congress united on this one thing. What's Jay-Z going to say about this trip? Yes.

LEVIN: What's Jay-Z up to?

MALVEAUX: Anything juicy you're working on that we should be aware of?

LEVIN: Yes, there is a report out about a -- an athlete, somebody in the NFL where they're insinuating that this may be the first openly gay player. We have some information and that we're about to put it up on the Web site. This has gotten a lot of news in the 20 -- made a lot of news in the last 24 hours. And probably within 10 minutes, we're going to put something up on it. But this has become a real issue especially (INAUDIBLE) an interview with Magic Johnson a week ago after his son came out and Magic was saying, I want somebody to come out. So, this is kind of the next step.

MALVEAUX: Can you tell us who it is?

LEVIN: I will in 10 minutes.

MALVEAUX: Oh, 10 minutes. All right. We'll check it out, 10 minutes. Well, we're going to call you back, 10 minutes. All right. Harvey, good to see you as always.


MALVEAUX: Thank you. We appreciate it.

Here's what else we're working on for this hour. The president had Republicans over to eat last night. Can his dinner diplomacy bring together both sides over some tough issues?

Plus, we wanted to know how hard or easy is it to buy a gun at a gun show. So we sent a crew to three different states.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The seller is legally required to check ID like a driver's license to make sure the buyer is not from out of state. In this case, no identification asked for, no paperwork, not even a question like, what are you going to do with it?


MALVEAUX: And unlike these strikes, it's invisible, full of radiation. We're talking about dark lightning. What happens if it hits a plane you're flying in?


MALVEAUX: Guess who's coming to dinner? Well, the Republicans. The president hosting a group of Republicans for dinner at the White House. That happened last night. Wolf Blitzer is joining us to talk about the outreach.

Wolf, I want to talk about that but I also want to talk about what's developed here just in the last couple hours this brouhaha, if you will, over Jay-Z and Beyonce going to Cuba and U.S. officials saying they did have permission to do so and then Jay-Z releasing this rap if you will defending the trip and saying -- alluding to the fact he might have spoken to the president about it. Jay Carney just weighed in on this in the White House briefing and I want you to listen to this.


JAY CARNEY, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: Well, it's certainly not for show in the president's mind. The president believes both dinners and all of his engagements with Republicans have been constructive and useful. He is very much of the mind that exploring the possibility of finding common ground is in the interest of the American people and the American economy. And it's in the interest of trying to find bipartisan solutions to a whole range of issues, not just our budget and fiscal challenges but immigration reform, reducing gun violence.


MALVEAUX: All right. So, Wolf, that was obviously the bit of sound about the Republican dinner. But essentially what Jay Carney did say was that it's just a song. The president did not talk to Jay-Z.

What do you make of the fact that so many lawmakers, we just talked to Harvey Levin of TMZ, said that they were waiting to see if there was any kind of fallout here if in fact it was true what Jay-Z rapped about he had talked to the president about his trip. It's pretty odd, don't you think, that you've got so much attention that's being paid over this relationship between the president and Jay-Z?

WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: Yeah, and Beyonce for that matter. I guess people are very interested, obviously, in Jay-Z and Beyonce and their trip to Cuba which we now know did have authorization, did have that permit -- approval from the U.S. treasury department which is to approve non-journalistic if you will visits to Cuba. In this case they did.

A lot of people go and visit Cuba. There are a lot of American tourists who go and have this opportunity for a cultural exchange if you will. So what they really did was not all that extraordinary. A lot of Americans visit Cuba nowadays. And the Obama administration as you well know, Suzanne, they've made it clear they'd like to improve this dialogue, this openness if you will between Cuba and the United States hoping it will lead to easing of the problems within Cuba itself that have caused so many decades of disruption with the United States and maybe it will improve it down the road. They did let these -- they did return to the United States the parents of these two kids who abducted their children to Cuba. And they're now back in Florida. That would certainly seen by the state department and Obama administration as a constructive gesture on the part of the Havana government. So there's always something going on between the United States and Cuba. And now all of a sudden Jay-Z and Beyonce are in the middle of it. So that always makes it fun too.

MALVEAUX: Yes, you know, keeps it fresh.


BLITZER: By the way, I think the new song is pretty good, the new rap by Jay-Z. I've actually listened to it.

MALVEAUX: Yes, yes, we've listened to it numerous times. You've got to bleep out certain moments though.

BLITZER: Yes. I keep waiting for Alicia Keys to join in a little bit and start singing a little bit as well.

MALVEAUX: We'll see if she does. Tell us about that dinner last night, the Republicans there. How did that go over?

BLITZER: I think it went over well based on what Johnny Isakson, the Republican senator from Georgia who put the dinner together. The president called him and said can you bring over a dozen or so Republican senators, the second kind of dinner the president's had. The first one he had at the Jefferson Hotel, a swanky place, a nice restaurant here in Washington.

But this one was in the private family dining room over at the White House. And, look, they spent about two and a half, almost three hours talking about mostly budget and economic issues but a little bit on guns, little bit on immigration. My own sense is, look, the more you talk with each other, maybe something positive could emerge. Doesn't hurt to talk. And I think that this so-called charm offensive that the president is engaged in is helping ease this dialogue, ease this little non-Washington confrontation this -- typical Washington confrontation. The more you talk with each other, you have a meal, I think it might not necessarily help but certainly can't hurt.

MALVEAUX: All right. Good. Wolf, good to see you as always. Appreciate it.

BLITZER: Thank you.

MALVEAUX: This place looks like a war zone. That is what one person said after tornadoes left a path of destruction. The storms not even over. That up next. (COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MALVEAUX: Breaking news now. We understand there's a tornado on the ground. I want to bring in our Chad Myers who is following this. Chad, where is this first of all?

CHAD MYERS AMS METEOROLOGIST: It's been called a large and violent tornado by spotters and by meteorologists that are on the scene watching this crossing over highway 45 very close to Macon, Mississippi. A smaller town, but just kind of know this is early in the day for large and violent tornadoes already being reported.

We've seen some severe weather across parts of Louisiana. Travel you up the line. This is all going to charge to the east. Some schools in Alabama are already releasing children because they remember the last time there was a situation like this and what happened to Tuscaloosa.

There's the tornado. This is what I've been watching near Macon the background is black, Columbus, Mississippi, a very large town, this storm right here as it's traveled close to Macon, Mississippi, that's all rotation right there. That's the violent there as it travels to the north it may get very close to Columbus or just to the east. We'll keep watching it here. If it does approach a major city, I will break in right away, Suzanne.

MALVEAUX: All right, we will get back to you. Thank you very much, Chad. Appreciate it.

The gun debate on Capitol Hill has many people looking a lot closer at gun shows. Coming up, how a CNN crew was able to buy an arsenal of guns with just a pocket full of cash.