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Buzz, Possible Break In Texas Murders; North Korea Celebrates, World Watches; Worshipped In North, Hated In South; Hiker Missing In Avalanche; FAA Orders Boeing 737 Probe; Exxon To Remove Part Of Damaged Pipeline; Dish Makes $25.5B Bid For Sprint; Kobe Bryant Out Six To Nine Months; Spring Snow Storm Slams West; Citigroup Earnings Up 30 Percent; Today's The Deadline To Pay Taxes; 27,000 Plus Running In Boston Marathon; Saying No To Standardized Tests; Senators Reach Immigration Deal

Aired April 15, 2013 - 10:00   ET


JARED GREENBERG, CNN SPORTS CORRESPONDENT: -- this is what everybody wishes for. A foul ball comes your way. Dad snags it, gives the son the pearly white, but dad, check out my arm. He fires it back out onto the field, possibly once-in-a-lifetime experience is gone.

His brother can't believe it. There's no crying in baseball. At least everyone thinks you have a fantastic arm and to top it off you did it on national television. Carol, all was not lost.

Usher came to the rescue and gave a kid the ball. If I'm a brother sitting next to him, this is coming back at the wedding. You know, best man speech, I'm bringing that back out.

CAROL COSTELLO, CNN ANCHOR: He'll be tortured the rest of his life. Thanks so much, Jared. The next hour of "CNN NEWSROOM" starts now.

Happening now in the "NEWSROOM," an ominous holiday in North Korea, it's today the day the day it launches a missile.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We are deadly serious about our obligations and about our desire, our intent to stand up to these provocative and reckless actions.


COSTELLO: Also, who owns your DNA? The Supreme Court looks at whether your genes can be patented.

Also, a big test in schools this week, a growing number of parents are telling their kids, do not study for it, and do not even take that standardized test.

And sex ed --


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Principals, every Monday morning at your school right after the pledge of allegiance we're going to do this, the following students contracted an STD over the weekend, they are --


COSTELLO: Scaring high school kids away from premarital sex. Appropriate for your child? You'll meet one student who said no. You're live in the CNN NEWSROOM.

Good morning. Thanks so much for being with me. I'm Carol Costello. We begin this hour in Texas where there's a feverish new buzz in a case that has put one small town on edge. It revolves around this man, Eric Williams, a former Justice of the Peace in Kaufman County, Texas.

This morning, he's in jail accused of making a terroristic threat, his bail a staggering $3 million. That's only one reason why his name is surfacing in the investigation of two prosecutors who were murdered.

Mark Hasse and Mike McLelland prosecuted Williams for theft by a public servant. Now police are not calling Williams a suspect, but clearly he is under blistering scrutiny. CNN's Ed Lavandera is in Dallas. Good morning, Ed.

ED LAVANDERA, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Good morning, Carol. Well, we first told you about Eric Williams several weeks ago after we had learned that the night the McLellands' bodies were found in their home and they were murdered.

Just a few hours later, we were told that investigators called ERIC WILLIAMS and met with him in the parking lot of a Denny's Restaurant and took gun residue samples from his hand. Since then over the last couple of days, we've seen the intensity and the look at him intensify quite a bit.

On Friday afternoon, investigators searched his home. On Saturday morning, he was arrested and charged with making a terroristic threat. As you mentioned, being held on a $3 million bond. And then Saturday night investigators descended on a storage facility about 15 miles away from his home in Kaufman.

Where local media outlets here in Dallas Fort Worth are reporting that some 20 firearms were found, including also a Crown Victoria police car style car in that storage shed. So a lot of focus and media outlets reporting that this storage locker is connected to Eric Williams.

A great deal of intensity focusing on Williams, but as you mentioned the official line so far, investigators haven't said anything especially that Eric Williams is a suspect in this case --

COSTELLO: Let's go back to Williams' theft, this theft that he was convicted of and prosecuted by these prosecutors. I mean, tell us about that. Was it scandalous in the small town? How aggressively did Mr. Hasse prosecute him?

LAVANDERA: Well, this is the connection here, Carol. So Eric Williams was prosecuted and convicted last year of theft of county property there in Kaufman County. He was sentenced to two years probation. Mark Hasse, the assistant district attorney that was gunned down at the end of January was the man who prosecuted that case.

We've been told by many people there in Kaufman County that he was very aggressive in this case against him. In fact, at the end of the trial, court transcripts show that Eric Williams said that my life has been changed drastically because of this.

That he had lost his job as Justice of the Peace there in Kaufman County and that he also lost his law license. So we were told that this was a very dramatic case in that small town.

COSTELLO: Ed Lavandera reporting live for us this morning.

In North Korea, a reason to celebrate for the rest of the world a reason to watch, it's a holiday in the communist nation, a time to recognize the birthday of its founder Kim Il-Sung. For the first time in days we've seen his grandson, the current leader Kim Jong-Un.

Now he did not mark the day by firing a missile and defying the world, but for weeks this regime has threatened nuclear strikes on neighboring South Korea and on the United States. Today in Japan, Secretary of State John Kerry sat down with CNN and urged North Korea to behave responsibly.


JOHN KERRY, SECRETARY OF STATE: To make it clear, to hopefully reasonable, somebody who's reasonable in North Korea, as well as to the Chinese who have an impact on North Korea, that we are deadly serious about our obligations and about our desire -- our intent to stand up to these provocative and reckless actions.


COSTELLO: Today, there was no fiery rhetoric from North Korea, given the belligerent tone of the last couple of weeks that alone is noteworthy. And while that may be a nod to the importance of the holiday, passions still run high across the peninsula. CNN's Kyung Lah has the view from South Korea.


KYUNG LAH, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Screaming "stop the dictatorship," these right wing protesters rip through the North Korean flag in downtown Seoul, made clear their feelings about Kim Jong-Un and burned effigies of the young leader, his father and grandfather. The rhetoric may be cooling, but passions on the Korean Peninsula are not.

(on camera): What makes this protest particularly potent is the day that it's happening, the most important day for North Korea.

(voice-over): April 15th is a national holiday, the day Kim Il-Sung was born, the founder of North Korea, the grandfather of Kim Jong-Un. The now-leader reverently paid his respects to his ancestors.

On North Korean state-run television holiday viewing includes bizarre exercises displayed before a coquettish and popular girl band, concerts where singers proclaimed their love for Kim Il-Sung, a (inaudible) in the reclusive nation. All of this displayed with absolute blind devotion.

(on camera): Why is that devotion so important?

JASPER KIM, CEO, ASIA-PACIFIC GLOBAL RESEARCH GROUP: Well, that's basically what all North Korea has. It doesn't have devotion, political support from this leader, it can crumble within.

LAH (voice-over): North Korea watcher Jasper Kim says that's why, when you compare the all-powerful Kim Il-Sung to Kim Jong-Un, you can't help but notice a purposeful resemblance.

KIM: He's the youngest leader in North Korea's history. So what can you do? How do you mitigate the risk of internal resurrection against the third generation leader? I think one tactic is basically to make the third generation leader Kim Jong-Un look like the first generation leader Kim Il-Sung.

LAH: But on the day his country celebrates its founder, Kim Jong-Un has already proven he's not his grandfather.

KIM: He's younger. He's more aggressive. He's more audacious. What we know so far is every move he makes in bold strokes. It's high risk. It's high reward.

LAH (on camera): Inside Korea, is there a sense that this crisis is over?

KIM: It's not over. It's just the beginning and it will be continuous. This is not one of those things in the 20th century where a crisis start, gets really hot and cool off and ends. There's no end to this story.

LAH: Kyung Lah, CNN, Seoul.


COSTELLO: It's 8 minutes past the hour, time to take a look at other top stories. The search for a missing hiker is expected to resume today after a series of weekend avalanches. On Saturday, Mitch Huntgate, he was out with two friends when an avalanche carried them 1,200 feet at speeds reaching more than 50 miles per hour. That same day, a woman walking her dog was also caught in an avalanche on another mountain. She later died of her injuries.

The FAA has ordered inspections of the tails of more than 1,000 Boeing 737 jets to check for pins that attach to stabilizers to the fuselage. The FAA says a failure of the pins to cause pilots to lose control of the plane. The investigation will focus on 737s that entered into service in 1998 or later. Today, part of a pipeline that ruptured and flooded an Arkansas neighborhood with oil will be removed. Exxon announcing it will send a 52-foot chunk of that pipeline to a third-party lab for testing. An estimated 5,000 barrels of oil were released during the spill, which forced an evacuation. The cause is still under investigation.

Dish Network is ready to link up with Sprint Nextel. It's making a bid to buy America's number three wireless carrier for $25.5 billion. That's $5 billion more than an offer by a Japanese telecommunications company. If the deal goes through, Dish would be able to package TV and wireless services.

Six, nine, maybe 12 months, that's how long we'll have to wait to see if Kobe Bryant can return to the basketball court. He's sidelined recovering from surgery to repair the Achilles tendon he tore in Friday's game.

The Los Angeles Lakers star is using social media to walk fans through his recovery, and he's also using it to vent with a post on Saturday that read, in part, this is such B.S.! All the training and sacrifice just flew out the window with one step that I've done millions of times. The frustration is unbearable, the anger, the rage.

Carlos Diaz joins us now. I kind of like this because it gave you an inside look at how athletes handle these injuries in real life. Of course, you'd vent.

CARLOS DIAZ, HLN SPORTS: Especially heavily medicated allegedly when they do that because, you know, he's in a lot of pain. Your Achilles tendon is a very, very tough injury to go through. You're talking about six, nine, 12 months coming back. That's the tough thing here for Kobe Bryant.

You know, he has to look at not only the end of this season, but what if it takes nine months. That's into the beginning of the next season. What if it's 12 months? Then is next season gone? You're 35 years old. I mean, you've been playing half your life in the NBA, but he later said, put in a post, now I'm supposed to come back from this and be the same player or better at 35?

How in the world am I supposed to do that? I have no clue. But he later said, one day the beginning of a new career journey will commence. Today is not that day. That post received more than 156,000 likes. So basically you have here a guy who is basically saying, I'm not done. But this is not an easy injury to come back from.

Personally, I think that Kobe does need to come back and show more of a gracious side because this year a lot of complaining this year, a lot of expectations that were not met from the Lakers. So hopefully not only does he come back a better player, but dare I say a better person because this year was a lot of postgame interviews featuring curse words and things like that.

So he was obviously frustrated. Let's hope he comes back next year maybe a little more mellow person with more of a focus on basketball rather than the postgame interviews that got a little out of hand.

COSTELLO: Maybe so, but still by his Facebook -- I mean, your body is your instrument if you're an athlete.

DIAZ: That's a good point.

COSTELLO: And if your instrument is damaged, a lot of players never come back from this injury.

DIAZ: And of course, the Lakers haters are blaming the coach, Mike D'Antoni, saying that he is the reason that Kobe goes down with his injury. He was played too many minutes. They ran him too hard. The tough part is not getting Kobe to play minutes. The tough part is getting him out of the game.

All right, I mean, he's one of the leaders in minutes because he loves to get in there and mix it up. But say what you want about Kobe. He brought it every game. I mean, he would get the guys on the team, but every game he was out there. He only missed two games all season.

He was out there for the most part putting in major minutes, near the top of the league in minutes at his age, it's unbelievable. So, I mean, you can say what you want about him, but he did bring it and maybe that's the reason, the mileage, the reason the Achilles tear happened.

COSTELLO: I don't know. I know you'll keep an eye on it. Carlos Diaz, many thanks. We'll be right back.


COSTELLO: It's 16 minutes past the hour, time to check our top stories. Spring snowstorms causing big problems out west, Interstate 94 just south of Farnzville, Minnesota, opened this morning after a snow storm and several wreck shutdown part of the highway. Denver expecting to get several inches of snow later today, this would set that all-time record for April.

Good news coming from Citigroup, the company's earnings increased 30 percent in the first quarter, earning them nearly $4 billion, which is far better than analysts expected.

Today, as you know, is April 15th, and of course, that means it's tax day. It's the deadline to pay Uncle Sam if you owe for 2012. If you need more time, be sure to file an extension today. And if you want to see how the government spent your tax dollars this year, check out the White House web site for a breakdown. That's

The Boston Marathon is now under way, more than 27,000 runners taking part coming from every state in the nation and more than 90 countries. Those runners are getting a ton of support, officials estimate more than 500,000 people are lining the course.

It's a growing national movement, parents choosing to opt their children out of taking standardized tests. Just days ago, some of them protested outside the Department of Education in Washington. They argue schools are becoming test prep factories where the joy of learning has decreased as stress increases over taking these tests. Elizabeth Laidlaw is a parent who's flipping back against standardized tests. She joins us this morning. Good morning.


COSTELLO: So for those of us who don't have children, kids are required to take a test every year from third through eighth grade just to see how they're doing, am I right?

LAIDLAW: That's the case in New York State, yes.

COSTELLO: And why do you think this is a harmful practice?

LAIDLAW: So the test itself is a one-time snapshot of the kids' performance. So I liken it to a beauty contest being measured by the contestants' driver's license photograph. It's just not a good measure. That's one reason why I have a problem with the test.

The other reason is how it's used. In New York State it's used to measure building performance. It's used to measure teacher performance, but its scores are not reported on the child's report card. The classroom teacher is not given the score of the test in a way that she or he could actually use it to help a child learn.

So it's the manner in which the test is used. And that I also have a problem with. This year with the common core being rolled out it's the case in my area of New York that teachers in September didn't have the curriculum that the children will be tested on tomorrow.

They introduced the curriculum at my daughter's school last month. They introduced it to teachers and they'll be -- the kids are going to be tested on it starting tomorrow morning, three days this week, three days next week.

COSTELLO: I've read so many horror stories about this that third graders are sent home over spring break to study for the standardized tests. So they're constantly studying for a test that doesn't mean much to them.

LAIDLAW: Right. And it's not a part of the learning process. It's my understanding that superintendents of districts are requiring buildings to implement these tests because the superintendents are getting pressure from the state.

They're sort of financially bullied into doing the test. The state is getting pressure from the federal government to implement the common core. And parts of the common core are these standardized tests.

So, you know, there's a cycle of bullying which has nothing to do with the classroom, nothing to do with teachers, nothing to do with children. They're pawns, but the beautiful thing is that children have the power to stop this cycle, and I see it as my duty as a parent to help my child, to help my child's teacher understand. COSTELLO: Your child opted out of the test, your child's in ninth grade now, right? So she opted out.

LAIDLAW: She did.

COSTELLO: So were there any ramifications? I mean, did she pay any penalty? What happened?

LAIDLAW: She didn't. We started in September of her eighth grade year at teachers' conferences talking with her teachers about this, and we got so much support. Teachers support the idea of getting standardized tests out of the classroom.

So by the time test day came there was one administrator in the building who was charged with making sure all kids took the test, and she gave us a little pushback, but we had already built a great relationship with her so it was not really a big deal for my daughter.

She had no adverse effects on her report card or on placement for the next year. So it actually empowered her, empowered my daughter, which was great.

COSTELLO: I know many parents feel the same way. Elizabeth Laidlaw, thanks for being with us this morning.

LAIDLAW: My pleasure.

COSTELLO: Just ahead in the NEWSROOM, eight senators have now reached an agreement that could affect roughly 11 million undocumented residents.


COSTELLO: To politics in Washington now, Marco Rubio leading the charge for immigration reform but not, he says, amnesty. So what could a potential deal look like? We'll learn tomorrow. Here's Athena Jones.


ATHENA JONES, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Republican Senator Marco Rubio blanketed the Sunday talk shows, appearing on seven networks to begin selling what would be the biggest immigration overhaul in a generation. Rubio defended a portion of the plan that would allow the nation's 11 million undocumented immigrants to apply for legal status.

SENATOR MARCO RUBIO (R), FLORIDA: They're going to have to be in the system at least ten years plus, plus all these enforcement things happen before we give you access to apply for the legal immigration system. In essence, we're not awarding anything anyone. We're just giving people the opportunity to eventually earn access to our new improved, modernized legal immigration system.

JONES: Rubio outlined three so-called triggers he says have to be in place before people here illegally can get legal status. A university e-verify system to help companies check workers' legal status, a tracking system to make sure immigrants who enter the country legally don't overstay their visas and what he called real border security, including fencing. President Obama has previously opposed tying a pathway to citizenship to border security.

RUBIO: I think a bipartisan group of senators believe that's a trigger and the president disagrees. Hopefully, we can pass a bill that has that in there. If we do, then you'll have a decision to make about whether to sign it or not. But that has to be a part of this.

JONES: Rubio insists the plan is not amnesty, but some Republicans like Alabama Senator Jeff Sessions aren't buying that.

SENATOR JEFF SESSIONS (R), ALABAMA: I think it's incumbent on Republicans, Democrats and every one of us to ask what is going to happen to working Americans whose wages have been falling since 2000, who are unemployed at a very high rate. It will impact them adversely.


JONES: Fixing the nation's immigration system is one of President Obama's top priorities. As David Axelrod, a former top adviser to the president said recently, immigration is a legacy item for the president, something he wants very much to see get done. Officials here say their pleased with the progress made so far and are looking forward to reviewing the bill -- Carol?

COSTELLO: Athena Jones reporting live from the White House this morning.

Still ahead "Talk Back" question for you this morning, do scare tactics prevent teenage pregnancy? or tweet me @carolcnn.