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California Rape Case; Severe Weather in the Midwest; Glee Episode Controversy; Jonathan Winters Has Died; President's Budget Discussed; Examining Kim Jong-un's Family

Aired April 12, 2013 - 13:00   ET


FREDRICKA WHITFIELD, CNN ANCHOR (voice-over): With the tap of a finger and the click of a phone, a hacker takes over a plane. And, no, it's not a Hollywood movie. There really is an app for that, because it worked.

And two girls in separate places, both allegedly sexually assaulted, harassed and commit suicide. Is social media to blame?

Then, shots are fired on "Glee." The show is known for its music, but this week's episode hit a rough note when it took on gun violence. What critics are saying and why some Newtown parents say the episode simply pain (ph) too (ph) soon (ph).

This is the CNN NEWSROOM. I'm Fredricka Whitfield, in for Suzanne Malveaux.


WHITFIELD: All right, here are some of the top stories for you this hour. North Carolina A&T State University has lifted a campus lockdown. There were reports of a man with a weapon. The university website says classes resume at 2:00 Eastern Time.

And then on to Galveston, Texas. There was a shrimp boat on fire in the Houston ship channel. The Coast Guard reports three people were rescued by a nearby boater. No word though on what caused that blaze.

Two tragedies in two separate countries, sharing disturbingly similar details, in California and in Canada. Two teenage girls hanged themselves after allegedly being raped. Photographs of both alleged attacks were shared online.

One big difference between the two cases: in California the boys accused of the crime have been charged.

Dan Simon is following that story. He's joining us now from San Francisco.


WHITFIELD: So, Dan, the suspects, tell us more.

DAN SIMON, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Fred, first of all, you know it's a story that seems to have a familiar narrative. Here you have a large amount of alcohol consumed; there's a sexual assault. A photo is taken; it gets shared virally. And then, in this case, the tragedy here is the 15-year-old victim decides to take her own life.

The victim is 15-year-old Audrie Pott. She was a student here in the Bay Area at Saratoga High School. This occurred last September. Well, now it's now seven months later, now in September you have three 16-year-old boys who have been arrested and charged with two counts of felony sexual battery and one misdemeanor.

Now, Fred, we don't know all the details here. But what we know is they were at a friend's house; drinking was involved. The girl passes out. There's some kind of sexual assault; a photo is taken and then it gets widely distributed among the friends.

And after learning about this, Audrie posts this on Facebook. She says, "They took pictures of me. My life is ruined. This is the worst day ever."

And eight days after this assault takes place, she takes her own life.

This is what Audrie's family attorney had to say. Take a look.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: What happened to Audrie was tragic. It never should have happened. I hope that they're brought to justice. She has no idea what occurred until she woke up the following morning and had some drawing on her body in some private areas.


SIMON: Well, authorities aren't naming the suspects because they are, in fact, juveniles. They will have a court appearance sometime next week.

Now, the victim's family initially reluctant to speak about this, is going to have a press conference next week as well, Fred.

WHITFIELD: And, Dan, what are police saying about the lapse of time, the seven months?

They investigated for all of this time and then it resulted in the arrest?

Or was there something else taking place in that amount of time?

SIMON: It's a very good question. And there is widespread criticism in that community because it took so long for arrests to take place.

But what authorities are telling me is that they had to conduct several search warrants; they had to get computer records, phone records. And that takes a certain amount of time, combined with the investigation that takes place. So they are defending their actions here. But no doubt questions persist as to why it took seven months, Fred.

All right. Dan Simon, thanks so much.

On to the other case that is eerily similar -- different country, Canada, justice officials there are creating a panel to investigate the death of 17-year-old Rehtaeh Parsons. She killed herself after allegedly being gang raped.

Her parents say the boys who attacked their daughter showed a picture of the assault to fellow students and after that they say a relentless campaign of online bullying began and continued for a year and a half.

Police never filed charges in that case, saying that there is no evidence. But public outrage has been growing since Parsons' suicide last week. This new government panel will be looking into the alleged crime and how the case was handled.

And this case and the one in California begging the question is there more that parents can do to protect their kids? We'll look into this in the next half hour.


WHITFIELD (voice-over): The northeastern U.S. getting hit by a powerful line of storms today. In the South and Midwest the storms were deadly. Three people were killed in Mississippi, Missouri and Nebraska.

An iReporter captured this tornado right here as it ripped through a rural part of Mississippi. Dozens of homes were damaged across the Southeast. And thousands of people are still without power.

Tom Sater is in the CNN Weather Center.

All right, Tom, who is getting hit now? Or is there a break?

TOM SATER, AMS METEOROLOGIST: Well, we don't have any severe thunderstorm watches or warnings; we don't have any tornado watches, which is good news.

But we're in day three, the sound of chain saws can be heard from South Dakota all the way down Missouri, Arkansas, Alabama, Mississippi and most likely there -- we still have a few storms that are trying to pop up just south of D.C. Mainly most of the activity is from around Tampa down to Sarasota and Bradenton.

If you have a flight in the corridor here, say from Philadelphia, Newark, JFK, La Guardia, could have an hour to even two-hour delays. We're going to get up into the Northeast, where we have winter weather advisories in effect for parts of Maine, Vermont, New Hampshire, parts of Massachusetts, northern areas of New York State, where it's icing right now.

And this, well, another storm system on the way, where it is still snowing with the first one in the arrowhead of Minnesota, U.P. of Michigan. It's hard to believe that with the storm system here in April that 28 inches fell in Rapid City, South Dakota. That's more snow than they've had on any day in any month in any year. And here comes the next one. Another foot? Are you kidding me? We are behind in the tornado count so far, which is a good thing. But we could really see the season boom in the weeks ahead.

Here's the first one. Let's get this out of here just in time for the weekend. There will still be some snow, I think, Saturday morning in parts of Maine, but it's going to be a drier air mass; going to be a little chilly. That's it. But a lot of sunshine I think, as we get into Sunday.

So one system is gone; the next one comes down, Northern Rockies. This is going to drag more cold air. We're about a month and a half behind really in our seasons right now. But more snowfall Montana, North Dakota. Rain in advance of this. They're still without power. So the power crews working to restore power -- and South Dakota's window is getting a little shorter here.

Let's talk about some good news. Finally, this is an interesting note. In Atlanta, the pollen count as you know, Fredricka, anything that's considered high is 90.


SATER: It was 8,024.


SATER: Yes, (inaudible) off the charts.

WHITFIELD: That explains all the puffy eyes and the coughing and all of that.

SATER: Yes. The streets are clear -- yes. It looks good though for the weekend for the Masters. A little rain was around 12:30 and it's move out of the area.

WHITFIELD: Nice. Always so pretty with all those azaleas in bloom, too.

All right, Tom. Thank you.

SATER: Sure.

WHITFIELD: All right. Last night's episode of "Glee" is causing quite the controversy. So if you're a fan and you haven't seen it, this segment contains spoilers. It was about a school shooting. And scenes like this upset some people from Newtown, Connecticut.



Everyone just spread out and hide. Spread out and hide. Find a place to hide, please. Go over there.

(END VIDEO CLIP, "GLEE") WHITFIELD: All right. Nischelle Turner, joining us now from Los Angeles.

So, Nischelle, some Newtown residents said simply this was just too soon.

Did FOX or the producer of "Glee" reach out to them?

How did this all evolve?

NISCHELLE TURNER, CNN CORRESPONDENT: You know, apparently not, Fred, which is why some people are upset about this. Now they did warn viewers at the top of the show -- and I should point out -- that the people at FOX did try to publicize this episode ahead of time.

They released screeners for TV critics to review. That's how some people in Newtown learned about it ahead of time. The local paper there in Newtown, Connecticut, credited a critic from "TV Line" with giving the community a heads-up. And they ran a story ahead of the episode, warning parents what was coming.

But you know, that wasn't enough for some of the Newtown residents, like Andrew Paley, who is parent of children at the school who survived the shooting. He spoke with CNN earlier this morning. And here's how he explained how he was feeling about this.


ANDREW PALEY, NEWTOWN, CONNECTICUT, PARENT: We have no problem, at least the parents I have spoken to, that they aired an episode that had a school shooting. It's reality. It happened. It happened here. It happened at Columbine. It happened in many other places.

What's really upsetting is that no one, none of the producers reached out to the town of Newtown to let us residents, who are so close to this, know that this episode was airing.


TURNER: You know, Fred, it's a little bit of a tough line for producers and networks to walk here. On one hand, you want to be very sensitive about the feelings of the families in Newtown.

But on the other hand, there are, unfortunately, a lot of people out there who have suffered from gun violence. And you can't really alert everyone all of the time.

WHITFIELD: All right. Nischelle Turner, thanks so much.

All right, folks. So let me know what you think about this -- your comments at the end of the hour.

All right. Also here's what we're working on this hour.

With the tap of a finger and a click of a phone, a hacker takes over a plane. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

WHITFIELD (voice-over): And, no, it's not a Hollywood movie, there really is an app for that. But does it work?

Then some liberals are mad at President Obama. We'll tell you why they aren't standing by their man.

And forget using cash, ditch the credit card, the bitcoin seems to be the future currency, or is it? We'll explain what it is, how it works. This is the CNN NEWSROOM.


WHITFIELD: We're just getting confirmation here at CNN that legendary American entertainer Jonathan Winters has died. He started acting in the 1950s at the dawn of television, appearing with Shirley Temple.

He was a favorite of late-night talk shows in the '70s and '80s. Winters was still active in show business, doing voiceovers for children's movie. A source close to the Winters families says the comedian died Thursday afternoon at his home in California. Jonathan Winters was 87 years old.

A phone app that could be used to hijack a plane? A hacker working as a security consultant says it could happen, because he has developed the technology to do it.

Hugo Teso unveiled his so-called PlaneSploit app at a security conference in Amsterdam. He says the app can be used to remotely attack and exploit airline security software.

Lisa Sylvester is joining us now from Washington with more on this.

So, Lisa, I understand the FAA is aware of Teso's claim but says his hacking technique poses no threats to real flights.

How can we be so sure?

LISA SYLVESTER, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, Fred, wow. What a story. So Hugo Teso, just a little bit of background about him, he's a security consultant and he has a commercial pilot's license. I mean, just a few minutes ago I actually finished an interview with him.

He's in Germany and he said that he spent the last three years developing this app that shows vulnerabilities in the flight management system of airplanes. Teso presented it as a conference in the Netherlands that he was able to, on a flight simulator affect the flying conditions, including changing the plane's altitude, changing what's on a pilot's display screen.

But we should caution about all of this. First, got to emphasize, just can't emphasize this enough, that he did this on a flight simulator, not on an actual real aircraft, for obvious security and safety reasons. And the other thing, too, is that he emphasized that this app alone is not enough to affect the plane, that you're also going to need the proper hardware.

We reached out to the FAA, and the agency says that the planes that we fly, that you fly and I fly, that we fly every day, that they're not in any kind of risk because this app that he's talking about doesn't work on certified flight hardware that's actually used in the planes.

And we actually have a statement from the FAA. The FAA saying, quote, "The described technique cannot engage or control the aircraft's autopilot system using the FMS flight management system or prevent a pilot from overriding the autopilot. Therefore a hacker cannot obtain full control of an aircraft as the technology consultant has claimed," end quote.

Now, Teso himself, when I interviewed him, he acknowledged that the pilots would be able to override the autopilot and take back control.

But still, this story is generating an enormous amount of buzz, particularly online. Teso emphasizes, you know, really what it's saying is that airlines need to focus not only on safety but also on security, Fred.

WHITFIELD: And so overall flight security, what does this mean?

SYLVESTER: You know what he's trying to say essentially is that, you know, these days think of modern airplanes; they're more becoming like these gigantic computers. And so they're vulnerable to hacking.

Our flying system is perfectly fine and safe, but he says, look ahead, start planning; make sure you have security measures in place so that you don't have hackers, you don't have somebody with ill-intent trying to bring down an actual plane, Fred.

WHITFIELD: All right. Lisa Sylvester in Washington, thanks so much.

All right, there isn't a more dicey diplomatic situation in the world right now than the one we're seeing in North Korea.


WHITFIELD (voice-over): And U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry is right in the middle of it. He's in Seoul, South Korea. It's his first stop on a three-nation swing through Asia. Kerry's first priority is to bring down the tension on the Korean Peninsula and to convince Pyongyang not to test-fire a ballistic missile.


WHITFIELD: U.S. officials think North Korea could test launch a ballistic missile at any time. As the U.S. and other countries prepare for all possible scenarios, many people have their eyes on the trigger man, Kim Jong-un.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) WHITFIELD (voice-over): The North Korean's leader rise to power sounds like a made-for-television movie. But knowing more about him could give us a better understanding of what he just might be capable of.

Brian Todd has a look at Kim Jong-un and his family dynamic.

BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): How did we end up with such a young dictator menacing the world?

It's a twisted tale of a third son, born, analysts say, to Kim Jong- il's mistress. Kim Jong-un was reported to have been pampered as a young man, sent to boarding school in Switzerland, developed an affinity for James Bond and the NBA, hence the recent Dennis Rodman visit. He'd spent virtually no time in North Korea's army when his father elevated him to a general's rank in 2010.

That was one of the first signs Kim that had leapfrogged his two older brothers.

Why? On the eldest, Kim Jung-nam, believed to be about 41:

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Kim Jung-nam made the mistake of taking his playboy lifestyle abroad and he was arrested by the Japanese police in 2001, trying to go to Tokyo Disneyworld.

And the Japanese police spent hours and hours with him, which means the CIA and other intelligence services learned a lot about him.

TODD (voice-over): Analyst Mike Greene (ph) says Kim Jong-nam's a gambler, lives in Macao, speaks to journalists too much for the family's liking.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: They can't kill him, but they can't let him run the country. He's not a reliable vehicle for the cult of personality for the Stalinist propaganda.

TODD (voice-over): Then the mysterious middle brother, Kim Jong-chul. Local media showed this photo, claiming it was him at an Eric Clapton concert about two years ago.

STEPHEN NOERPER, THE KOREA SOCIETY: Kim Jong-il found in Kim Jong- chul somebody who was reportedly effeminate, timid, did not have much political interest.

TODD (voice-over): Just as enigmatic, the young woman reportedly to be Kim Jong-un's 20-something wife, Ri Sol-ju, apparently a former singer.

Could she have any influence over him?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Is it possible she'll say what about the North Korean people? What about the starving people? Maybe, but that's certainly not the environment she grew up in.

TODD (voice-over): That background helps experts try to figure out what Kim Jong-un's thinking now.

TODD: What's your best take on his calculations now, what he's thinking?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The aim is to rattle us and frighten us and also the Chinese and the South Koreans and distract us from implementing Security Council sanctions and other pressure on the North.

TODD (voice-over): Greene (ph), who dealt with North Korea on the National Security Council, says Kim may also be trying to compensate for the fact that he's so young, 29 or 30. Analysts say he's got to show strength with the military.

NOERPER: He's trying to look as a young man of 30 in a Confucian society where age is respected as tough. And so that's his way of looking to the generals like he is in control.

TODD: But he may lose control if he can't produce a male heir. His wife, Ri Sol-ju, will be counted on for that, to solidify a dynasty that some analysts say is on shaky ground. There were reports late last year and early this year that Ri Sol-ju had been pregnant, may have given birth to a daughter, but nothing solid beyond that -- Brian Todd, CNN, Washington.

WHITFIELD (voice-over): And for more on this, watch a special edition of "THE SITUATION ROOM" tonight 6 o'clock Eastern time.


WHITFIELD: All right. Coming up, some liberals are mad at President Obama. We'll tell you why they aren't standing by their man.

And lately we've been talking about how officials across the country seem to be under attack. Now suspicious mail was sent to the man billed as the toughest sheriff in America.



WHITFIELD: It's expected Republicans might give President Obama a hard time over the budget blueprint he outlined this week, but some liberals are angry over the budget as well. They're upset over proposed changes to Medicare and Social Security.

Let's bring in chief political correspondent Candy Crowley.

So, Candy, the president wants to cut $400 billion from Medicare over 10 years and change the way Social Security payments are calculated.

What is it that those who have been strong advocates of him now saying?

CANDY CROWLEY, CNN HOST: Well, they feel -- I mean, the overall feeling -- and this is from -- largely from outside groups. There has been mild criticism inside; certainly Senator Bernie Sanders, who is independent or -- has been extremely critical of this. He's always been quite protective of entitlement programs.

What's interesting is that, in some ways, that Republicans have been a little more hopeful about this budget than a lot of these outside groups.

And I think if I had to give you one word, it would be they feel betrayed. Almost everything you get from outside liberal groups has been, "We pounded on doors, we called a million people, we helped elect him and we're going to fight this."

So you do -- you do definitely get the sense of, wait a minute, we helped elect you and now you're doing something we specifically were against, which was messing around with entitlement programs.

WHITFIELD: So was this compromise now backfiring?

CROWLEY: No. And I'll tell you why. It's not a bad thing that liberal groups are upset with the president. It makes him look like he really has offered a compromise. It gives him some maneuvering room.

And again, as I say, there's been some criticism on Capitol Hill, but when I looked at a lot of the different reactions, it's basically been, oh, the president put out a plan and there's some things I don't like about and will work with it.

So I think, when push comes to shove, the Democrats on Capitol Hill, that is the elected Democrats, will largely go with the president. But we are so far away from what a final budget if we ever get one would look like that they're kind of standing back.

So it's the outside groups. And it gives the president a foil and, again, it makes him look more in the middle if you've got all these liberal groups yelling at him.

WHITFIELD: OK. Meantime, every weekend for decades over, every president has had an address. They used to call it the radio address on the weekend, a recording of the president's agenda or thoughts.

And this weekend, however, the president is not necessarily going to be delivering that address. But it will still be delivered, but by someone else?

CROWLEY: Yes. The president is going to have one of the moms from Newtown make the address this Saturday.

And you're right, the Saturday morning radio address, but now it's on Internet and every place else.

Ben Wheeler, a little 6-year-old who was killed in Newtown, this is his mother, Francine (ph). I think it's a testament to two things. This, as far as I know, is pretty rare for the president to hand over the microphone for these Saturday addresses to someone else.

And I think it tells you two things, one, that these families up on Capitol Hill, and with their phone calls, have been very successful in making the rounds and in moving some of these congressmen, obviously, and senators.

And obviously the president thinks he has made some headway.

I think the other thing it says is they are not there yet. Yes, this bill is now on the Senate floor and they will take it up, but there are so many amendments some which may make it on the floor, some which may not. But nonetheless, this is a hard, hard slog.

And as the president both acknowledging these are good lobbyists if you would use that name. They're not really, but they are very good for this cause. And that the cause has not yet from the president's point of view been won.

WHITFIELD: All right. And back to politics. Let's talk about the Republican rising star Marco Rubio. His work on immigration reform is getting a lot of attention.

Is this kind of the prelude to 2016 positioning?

CROWLEY: It's certainly a moment for him. And they certainly know that. This is a man who, so far as we can tell, is going to show up on seven different networks, including two Latino networks, to talk about immigration reform.

He has apparently signed onto what we're going to hear next week at a news conference. Like here is the Gang of Eight, as we call them, of four Republicans, four Democrats. He, of course, one of the Republicans.

Now, what he has to do and what his job is is sell this to conservatives, who have been resistant to some forms, particularly when it came to undocumented workers, about what their pathway to legalization would be, et cetera.

So this is a tough job for him, but it is a definite moment in the sun. But I got to tell you something.


CROWLEY: You know the sun burns when you get too close. So you've got to be, you know, this is a -- this is not always such a blessing to be in the spotlight.

WHITFIELD: Yikes. And sometimes the sun sets, right?



WHITFIELD: In some capacity. All right. Thanks so much, Candy Crowley, appreciate it.

And you can watch of, course, Candy, "STATE OF THE UNION" this Sunday morning, 9:00 am Eastern time. She'll be talking with Senators Rubio, Manchin and Toomey. And, again, it's a full lineup on the "STATE OF THE UNION" Sunday. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

WHITFIELD (voice-over): All right. But, first, two girls in two separate places. Both are allegedly sexually assaulted, harassed and commit suicide.

Is social media to blame?

And is there more that parents can do?

Let me know what you think. We'll talk about it when we come right back.