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Victims Rally for Gun Control; Kerry in China; Woods Penalized at the Masters

Aired April 13, 2013 - 16:00   ET


FREDRICKA WHITFIELD, CNN ANCHOR: Hello again, everyone. I'm Fredricka Whitfield. A look at our top stories right now in the CNN NEWSROOM.

It looks like the Miracle on the Hudson -- a passenger jet, trying to land in Bali, missing the runway, and then landing right there in the ocean. Everyone survived, and only one person so far is reported injured. About a hundred people were on board.

U.S. secretary of state John Kerry is paying a visit to China today. He's trying to put more pressure on North Korea to tone down its threat.

And authorities investigating the murders of a Texas district attorney, his wife and a top prosecutor have arrested a former Justice of the Peace. Eric Williams is in jail rather on a terroristic threat charge. Williams has not been named a suspect in the killing and denies any involvement. He was convicted last year of stealing county equipment and was kicked out of office.

For the first time in more than four years someone other than the president or vice president gave the Saturday White House address. This morning it was the mom of a child shot and killed at Sandy Hook Elementary School. Francine Wheeler urged the Senate to pass a gun control bill.


FRANCINE WHEELER, SON KILLED AT SANDY HOOK ELEMENTARY SCHOOL: David and I have two sons. Our older son, Nate, soon to be 10 years old is a 4th grader at Sandy Hook Elementary School. Our younger son Ben, age six, was murdered in his first grade classroom on December 14th, exactly four months ago this weekend.

For him and all of the others taken from us so violently and too soon we have to convince the Senate to come together and pass common sense gun responsibility reforms. That will make our communities safer and prevent more tragedies like the one we never thought would happen to us.


WHITFIELD: Let's bring in Athena Jones. The Wheelers and other families from Newtown, Connecticut have been in Washington pushing for some sort of new gun restrictions. Is there a feeling that the message is being heard?

ATHENA JONES, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Hi, Fred. Well, the message is certainly being heard at the White House. There is a big question though about whether it's being heard by everyone on Capitol Hill. Certainly the members of Congress who have been hard at work working on these new gun proposals, these new gun measures that are being introduced have heard the message. But it's still unclear what is going to happen ultimately with these bills.

I'll say that one thing most everyone agrees on is the need to keep guns out of the hands of the dangerously mentally ill. But the question is how to come up with an effective way to do that.


JONES (voice-over): James Holmes in Colorado. Jared Loughner in Arizona. (INAUDIBLE) at Virginia Tech, all with mental health problems and all able to buy guns to kill. With proposed new background checks stop others like them?

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.

JONES: But it's not simple at all. For one thing who is considered dangerously mentally ill. Under federal law if someone found by a judge to be "a mental defective or someone committed to any mental institution," but state standards vary widely and there are mental health records often don't make it into the database used to make federal background checks. Among the concerns, privacy protection. The Senate bill makes it clear that sharing these records won't violate federal law.

JOSHUA HORWITZ, COALITION TO STOP GUN VIOLENCE: What we need to do is we need to get all the records from the states into the federal system. Today, over 30 states barely report any record.

JONES: Take, Dennis Mayner (ph), suspected of killing a West Virginia sheriff 10 months after being released from a mental hospital. He could buy a gun because the state was slow in sending his records.

A judge deemed Cho, the Virginia Tech shooter mentally ill but that didn't stop him from buying a gun because those records weren't in the system. Holmes and Loughner fell through the cracks too because no court had deemed them dangerous and ordered them committed.

Advocates worry this debate is stigmatizing the mentally ill.

RON HONBERG, NATIONAL ALLIANCE OF MENTAL ILLNESS: Our concern is the way this discussion has taken place mental illness is being equated with violence. That has a very, very negative impact on people. Not only feeds right into negative stereotypes about people but it could even serve as a deterrent to people willing to seek treatment.

(END VIDEOTAPE) JONES: So the big question here, Fred, is whether or not this latest proposal in the Senate, this compromise reached would really keep guns out of the hands of the mentally ill because what this bill would do is it would exempt so-called personal transfers of weapons from having to go through a background check. And that means someone who is dangerously mentally ill could still get access to a gun through a family member, or in some cases a friend or a neighbor.

Let's remember that the case of Adam Lanza, he got his gun from his mother. And so it could leave some people still not covered. Fred?

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

JONES: Thanks.

WHITFIELD: Today's NASCAR race in Texas is at the center of political controversy. A U.S. senator from Connecticut is upset over a decision by organizers to award naming rights of the race to the National Rifle Association. But the speedway president said he's heard few complaints and that the race is not about politics.


EDDIE GOSSAGE, TEXAS MOTOR SPEEDWAY PRESIDENT: There is no uproar. We got fewer than a dozen cards, letters and e-mails. The American public is not engaged in this. But the Senator keeps trying to stir it up. I can appreciate that. He's in Connecticut. We are in Texas. His values don't fly here.


WHITFIELD: Susan Candiotti is at the track in Fort Worth, a very windy Fort Worth. Susan, you know, we heard from the speedway president. What about NASCAR?

SUSAN CANDIOTTI, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, you know, NASCAR says it wants to make it clear that it is not taking sides in this. But Fred, it is paying attention to this controversy and questions that are being raise by Senator Chris Murphy of Connecticut on behalf of not only himself but he says of Newtown families as well.

By that I mean that NASCAR is now saying that it is taking note of what has happened here and that from here on out it is going to take a look at the way it approves of the sponsorships. In this case, NRA came to an agreement with Texas Motor Speedway, a final agreement just last month. And NASCAR said it was the one that approved of it. It didn't have to, but it did.

And so NASCAR says it is going to look going forward at how it can handle something like this in the future. For their part, fans say it is not that important to them.

WHITFIELD: So you talked to fans who say they don't have a problem nor do they really care about what the name of a race is. They just want to be able to go there and have a good time. CANDIOTTI: For them that's what this is all about. Many of them don't think that this is about politics at all. They are here to see the race. That's what they are telling me about when I asked them whether they feel it was insensitive for NASCAR to allow this race to take place at this particular time.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I don't see a problem with it at all. I understand his view. But to cancel the race or to not televise I think that goes a little bit too far.


CANDIOTTI: ... said I think it's bad timing, not only that but at the end of this race, for example, it is tradition for the winner to be given a couple of revolvers and to fire blanks and wear a cowboy hat. He said, again, it's a matter of he says, doing this now with the gun debate going on in Capitol Hill and for the sensitivities of the Newtown family perhaps this would be the year to drop that. But it will go on. Fred?

WHITFIELD: Susan Candiotti in Fort Worth, thanks so much.

Kobe Bryant's surgery for a ruptured Achilles tendon was set to begin this hour. The Lakers say the injury could keep him off the court for up to nine months. Bryant's injury came last night in a move he said he's made a million times. It happened at an inopportune time for the Lakers. The team has just two games left in the race for a spot in the playoffs.

And at the Masters golf tournament, Tiger Woods didn't suffer a physical injury but his score card sure took a hit after a bad drop on the course. He was penalized two strokes. It's become all the talk at the Augusta National Golf club. CNN's sports anchor Rachel Nichols is in Augusta right now with the very latest on the tournament and if Tiger is able to kind of make a move regardless of the penalties.

RACHEL NICHOLS, CNN SPORTS ANCHOR: Well, he hasn't really made much of a move so far. He's at even. And that's really not what you want if you have been assessed this two-stroke penalty. Because he thought he was going to be going into the day three back from the leader. Instead, he's now five back from the leader going into this day. And he only has two days to make it up. Halfway through the round hasn't made up that ground yet.

So it's really an interesting 24 hours for Tiger. And a lot of people thinking, should he have been penalized, should he been disqualified? He came out on Twitter and said that hey, he didn't know that he was executing the drop of his shot yesterday on 15 incorrectly. That when he signed his score card the official certainly didn't indicate that he had done anything wrong and that when he was called in to speak with him this morning he said that he was completely forthcoming and he said that he respects and accepts their decision that has set him back though, Fredricka, no question. WHITFIELD: And there is some criticism just within the ranks as well. Right? Among the other fellow golfers.

NICHOLS: Yes, absolutely. It's been interesting though. David Duvall who was a rival of Tiger's, really Tiger's key rival for a long time came out on Twitter himself and said that Tiger should be disqualified. Then you have three-time Masters champion Nick Faldo with some extremely strong words this morning not only saying that he should be disqualified but if the club wasn't going to do it that Tiger should do, "the manly thing and disqualify himself."

Faldo, of course, is a member here at the Masters after having won the tournament. It seems that sometime after those initial comments somebody at the club had a discussion with him because he recently, maybe within the last half hour said, you know, maybe he was too hasty to make those comments. After understanding the whole process he just thinks everybody here did the right thing.

WHITFIELD: Wow. OK. That manly remark, ouch, man. OK. Rachel, thanks so much in Augusta.

All right. Tensions are high on the Korean peninsula and secretary of state John Kerry is trying to convince North Korea to cool down its rhetoric by talking to its biggest economic and political ally. We'll have more on that straight ahead.


WHITFIELD: And it's breaking news out of China. A new strain of bird flu is spreading. Chinese media is reporting the first case of H7N9, outside the eastern part of the country. A seven-year-old girl in Beijing is reportedly to be in stable condition. Her parents reportedly work in the poultry business. The bird flu strain has already killed 11 people and infected nearly 50 since last month in China. Five new cases were reported just today. The virus had not been seen in humans until last month.

U.S. secretary of state John Kerry is in China today. He wants leaders there to pressure North Korea to tone down its threats against the U.S. and South Korea. Kerry met with China's president and foreign minister a day after meeting with South Korean leaders.

Elise Labott is in Washington. So Elise, you know, what is the message that comes from John Kerry's talks?

ELISE LABOTT, CNN FOREIGN AFFAIRS REPORTER: Well, Fred, he came out of the meeting very optimistic about cooperation that he's going to get from China. He said him and Chinese officials now have unprecedented cooperation on North Korea and they are going to work to kind of tone down, as you said, the threats coming out of the region.

Take a listen to him during a press conference after his meetings.


JOHN KERRY, U.S. SECRETARY OF STATE: We both joined in stating that the United States and China remain fully committed to the September 2005 joint statement of the six-party talks and to its core goal. That core goal is the verifiable denuclearization of the Korean peninsula in a peaceful manner.


LABOTT: So, Fred, he heard all the right things but the question is what are the Chinese going to do? Are they, as the U.S. wants, going to use their leverage on North Korea, their considerable leverage, they're North Korea's most important economic and political backer to get Pyongyang to stop its belligerent actions and all these threats against the U.S. and South Korea and also stop the illegal flow of weapons and money that are really fuelling its programs. Sometimes the Chinese say that their influence is limited.

WHITFIELD: And so Elise, what are the concerns or what concerns remain about the possible ballistic missile test out of North Korea?

LABOTT: Well, I think you heard some reports coming out over the last couple of days particularly this report from the Defense Intelligence Agency that perhaps North Korea had a ballistic missile that it could pair with a nuclear warhead but it reached the United States, pretty much a lot of people, the White House, John Kerry and the head of the intelligence community, James Clapper, the DNI, really poured a little bit of cold water on that report saying they do not believe that North Korea has the capability to pair a nuclear weapon with a missile and reach the United States although it is very concerning that North Korea has been making a lot of advances in the technology.

So they say it's really prudent to take a lot of defensive measures. But I don't think Fred that there is a lot of concern right now that North Korea has a weapon that could reach the United States. They are a ways away from that.

WHITFIELD: All right. Elise Labott, thanks so much in Washington.

All right. Straight ahead, we are looking at two heartbreaking cases involving teenaged girls who were allegedly raped and bullied. We are digging deeper into the role of social media and what ultimately happened to both of those girls, next.


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WHITFIELD: In Canada mourners said good-bye today to 17-year-old Rehtaeh Parsons, the Nova Scotia teen died Sunday, three days after trying to hang herself. Her family said she was gang raped and a photo of the alleged attack was circulated online. No one has been charged with anything. Her family says she developed suicidal thoughts after the event which occurred almost two years ago.

And a similar case is playing out in California where three teenager California boys are facing charges of sexual battery in connection with the alleged rape of a girl who later committed suicide. I spoke about the case with Attorney Joey Jackson and our own Kyra Phillips, anchor of "Raising America" on our sister network, HLN.


ATTY. JOEY JACKSON: These are such tragic stories, right? It affects you as a parent, as a person, as a human being. It appeals to that. It's so sad. I think social media, you are seeing a big revolution between the way prosecutors are moving forward in gathering information and then using the information in courtrooms to piece together events as they occur.

WHITFIELD: Meaning there is greater wait on testimony? On eyewitness accounts?

JACKSON: Do you know what happens? What happens is now you not only have eyewitness accounts but you have pictures at many times to put together, the information so see if there was an attack, how it occurred. Who was involved? How many parties were there? What specifically was being done? You have a photo that's there and the sadder part, of course, is it's being put on social media and the consequences to individuals are so traumatic. Because they can't take it. And in this instance, "my life is ruined" says the girl. As a result of it, she commits suicide. Really tragic.

WHITFIELD: It is tragic. You know, and Kyra, we are talking about this almost seems like it's lifting a veil on a whole subculture here.

KYRA PHILLIPS, ANCHOR "RAISING AMERICA": This is what is so painful about this whole situation. It's called slut shaming. That is actually what it's called. And it is a trend. And if these girls, if this happens to these girls that they are raped and these pictures go on the internet then that's hard enough as a female, as a young girl to see that, right?

But then when these boys and these girls start calling her a slut and sluts aren't welcome here and you know, this is all your fault, imagine what it's like for a teenager to have to listen to and have to deal with. It really brings it back to the conversation as parents. We have got to raise our boys and girls differently. What about these boys who think it is OK to do this and put the pictures on the internet?

WHITFIELD: Where is the disconnect where it seems as though there is a juncture that young people have to come to and there is license now to take advantage of someone and someone's vulnerability?

PHILLIPS: We have to teach our girls to be confident and strong and stand up to situations like this. We have to teach our boys that you don't just rape a girl because she's drunk and take pictures of it and put it all over the internet.

WHITFIELD: What about the message that is sent, you know, by the legal system?

JACKSON: I think what you do see is you see legislation develop, right, to more effectively deal with cyber bullying.

PHILLIPS: It's a gray area.

JACKSON: Absolutely. Because what you have in the expansion of this whole internet and social revolution, is the law doesn't keep up with it. So as a result of that -


JACKSON: It's a patchwork all over. So there needs to be a universal standard. There needs to be more education that's done to it so people understand and now children understand as they grow up to be men that it is just not acceptable to engage in behavior to take advantage of anyone and to be gentlemen as you move forward.


WHITFIELD: So many families now are seeking that kind of advice.

All right, the star of the TV show "Veep" got to meet the real life vice president at the White House. That's one of the stories trending today.


WHITFIELD: All right. Here are some stories trending now. The star of the HBO show "Veep" meets the real president. Julia Louis-Dreyfus had lunch with Joe Biden at the White House. The actress joked that Biden asked her advise on several (INAUDIBLE) and that he, quote, "paid no attention whatsoever."

And critics of the late Margaret Thatcher had made "Ding dong the witch is dead" one of the top music downloads in the UK. The former prime minister's funeral is Wednesday.

And get ready to rock out to the sequel to "Gangnam Style." South Korean singer Psy has debut his new song called "Gentleman." He performed it live during a concert in Seoul today.

I want to tell you about a couple of special shows on CNN this weekend. Tonight at 8:00 Eastern time on CNN, don't miss "Day of Terror, Remembering the Oklahoma City Bombing."

And then tomorrow night, Anthony Bourdain brings his taste for adventure to CNN, a new show "No Boundaries." CNN brings you the world of Bourdain and his crew traveled to Myanmar, Libya, Peru and more at 9:00 Eastern on Sunday.

All right. That's going to do it for me. CNN "Newsroom" continues at the top of the hour with my colleague, Don Lemon, with all the day's top stories. I'm Fredricka Whitfield. Keep it right here for "Sanjay Gupta, MD."