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High-Profile Arrest in Kaufman County; "Bleacher Report" on Masters, Lakers; Starving Sea Lions on California Shores.

Aired April 15, 2013 - 13:30   ET



SUZANNE MALVEAUX, CNN ANCHOR: The op-ed is titled "Gitmo is Killing Me." This is a powerful piece published in "New York Times" by a prisoner at Guantanamo Bay. In it, the prisoner writes, "I've been on a hunger strike since February 10th and have lost well over 30 pounds. I will not eat until they restore my dignity." The prisoner says he has been jailed for more than 11 years and has never received a trial. In the op-ed he says he became sick last month and refused to eat. Well, now he says the military is force feeding him. He says to go ahead, and said, "They tie me to a chair in my cell. My arms, legs and head are strapped down. I never know when they will come. Sometimes they come during the night, as late as 11:00 p.m." When asked for a comment, a spokesman from the Pentagon says the department does not discuss individual detainees who are not currently before military commissions.

A school in New York is in hot water. This is for an English assignment. Tenth graders were asked to think like a Nazi. So it happened at Albany High School just last week. Students were assigned an essay to answer the question, and I quote here, "How do I convince my teacher that I think Jews are evil," unquote. Well, the students were told to imagine that their teacher was a Nazi and build an argument using their research of historical propaganda. School administrators have now apologized to the parents. They said this assignment was an attempt to link an English class with a history lesson.


MARGUERITE VANDEN WYNGAARD, ALBANY CITY SCHOOLS SUPERINTENDENT: I thought the assignment was ill conceived. I thought it was inappropriate. I thought it was -- I can't describe it in any other words.


MALVEAUX: So the teacher who assigned that essay is now on leave.

In Kaufman County, Texas, there was a high-profile arrest. This happened over the weekend. Eric Williams -- you see him there -- well-known former justice of the peace, is accused now of making a terrorist threat. His bail, staggering $3 million. That's because two murdered county prosecutors were the ones who previously prosecuted him for theft by a public servant. Well, police have been clear about not calling him a suspect at this point, but they certainly are interested.

Ed Lavandera joining us from Dallas here.

Tell us what happened over the weekend that actually led to him.

ED LAVANDERA, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, there's been a great deal of activity. We're talking about a man who was the former justice of the peace in Kaufman County. He was convicted last year in a case that involved a theft of government property there in Kaufman County.

And on Friday afternoon, investigators swarmed his house and spent hours searching it. And then on Saturday morning, we learned the news that Eric Williams was picked up and arrested for making a terroristic threat. And he's being held on a $3 million bond.

And then a few hours after all of that news broke, we learned that investigators had descended on a storage shed about 15 miles away from Eric Williams' home where they spent many more hours combing through that storage shed. Local media outlets here in the Dallas-Ft. Worth market are reporting that inside that shed investigators found some 20 firearms and there was also a Crown Victoria, a police-style looking car that was taken out of that storage shed as well. We're told by law enforcement officials that this is in connection with the ongoing investigation of the murders in Kaufman County.

But, Suzanne, as you mentioned, still no official word from investigators that Eric Williams is a suspect or that he's been charged with any crimes related to those murders.

MALVEAUX: Do we know, have we heard anything from his attorney?

LAVANDERA: We haven't at this point. What we had been talking with him. Eric Williams is a name we've known about for some time. We've spoken with his attorney from time to time, but over the last few days, we've gotten no response.

Remember, Eric Williams was a former justice of the peace who was convicted by Mark Hasse, the assistant district attorney that was killed back at the end of January. Hasse prosecuted his theft case of county property there. And that's the connection there. At the end of that trial, Eric Williams told the court that that verdict in that case dramatically altered the course of his life. Interesting comments there as we look back at what happened about a year ago.

MALVEAUX: Thank you. Appreciate it. We'll follow it closely.

In the world of sports, Kobe Bryant expected to be out six to nine months. That is right. But the Lakers playoff, hopes still very much alive. We're going to explain in the "Bleacher Report," up next.


MALVEAUX: Awesome weekend in sports. Pretty incredible history made at the Masters Golf Tournament. Some tense moments for the L.A. Lakers after Kobe Bryant was injured.

Jared Greenberg, he was there with all the highlights in the "Bleacher Report."

JARED GREENBERG, BLEACHERREPORTER.COM: History made at the Masters. Seven-times Australian to finish second. Today, some are calling Adam Scott's victory the greatest moment in the history. Four shots off the lead entering Sunday's final round. Scott was brilliant. On 18 for birdie, Scott takes the clubhouse lead. An historic victory appeared to all but be in the books. The 2009 Masters champ said, "Hello, friends, I'm still hanging around." Angel Cabrera calm, cool, collected. Phenomenal shot. He also birdies sending Scott back out to the rain. It took a second play-off hole to determine the winner. Scott for the win? You bet you. An emotional victory, his first major. Now he's got to figure out what color shirt goes with that 3- 4-2 jacket, also known as the green jacket.

Tiger Woods made a push, three birdies on a five-hole stretch but a couple early bogeys. And, of course, that two-shot penalty from Friday's round really hurt Tiger's cause. He finished tied for fourth. The drought continues nine years since Tigers last Masters Championship. While the mission wasn't accomplished, Tiger said he still felt the love from the patrons.


TIGER WOODS, PRO GOLFER: They were fantastic. I had so much encouragement out there. They were absolutely incredible, especially yesterday. Starting out today, I couldn't believe the amount of support I had, and everyone's just trying to get me to shoot a low one. And I was very thankful for that.


GREENBERG: From Tiger failing to pick up a major to Adam Scott picking up his first, what were the biggest surprises from the 77th Masters, log on to for a look back at the week that was in Augusta.

Kobe Bryant expected to be out six to nine months, but the Lakers playoff hopes are still very much alive. Sunday night in their first game since Kobe's injury, Dwight Howard stepped up, leading the purple and gold, meaning if the jazz lose tonight or the Lakers win Wednesday, L.A. will earn the final playoff spot in the western conference.

A dream come true at a baseball game. A foul ball comes your way. Dad gets it and says, hey, son, here's the pearly white. But, hey, dad, look at my arm. Oh, no, he fires the ball back on to the field. Possibly a once-in-a-lifetime experience is gone in an instant. And his brother can't believe what he just did. Hey, there's no crying in baseball. No take-home prize. But at least you're a national television star now.

That's our "Bleacher Report" update. Back to you.

MALVEAUX: All right. Thanks, Jared.

Hundreds of starving sea lion pups are turning up now on California's shores. It's a higher number than usual. Why is this happening? And what can be causing these sea lions now to starve? Philippe Cousteau, he's joining us live to explain, up next.


MALVEAUX: A helmet maker, Riddell, found guilty in Colorado of failing to adequately warn players about the dangers of concussions. Now, they have to play a high school football player, Rhett Rudolphy (ph), more than $3 million. That is because the judge found that Riddell partially guilty for Rudolphy's (ph) injuries. Rudolphy's (ph) family led the case against the helmet maker. And the former player suffered brain damage while playing football. That happened back in 2008. He is now partially paralyzed. Riddell says in a statement, quote, "While disappointed in the jury's decision not to fully exonerate Riddell, we are pleased the jury determined that Riddell's helmet was not defective in any way." So the company plans to appeal. Riddell faces similar lawsuits in Los Angeles as well, plus a complaint by thousands of former NFL players.

Terrible trend now happening in southern California. This is really sad. More than 1,000 baby sea lions, they've been found starving to death on beaches from San Diego to Santa Barbara. This is all happened in recent months. The people on the beach, they're finding them wandering lost with their ribs protruding. Animal rescuers have been called in, but often it's just too late.

Philippe Cousteau is joining us from San Francisco.

First of all, Philippe, tell us why is this happening.

PHILIPPE COUSTEAU, CNN SPECIAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, that's the scary part is we don't really know exactly why it's happening. This is absolutely unprecedented mortality rates of six sea lions showing up, and certainly many dead sea lions as well. Up to half the population of baby sea lions are believed to be suffering from malnutrition. Far increase over last year. And traditional years, it's less than a third. And there's concern it could be declining populations of sardines and squid that the babies and mothers are typically feeding on at this time of year. Could be toxic algae blooms contributing as well to this. But we're not sure yet.

MALVEAUX: And what are the kinds of conditions that they find these little sea lions in?

COUSTEAU: Again, that's what's so concerning. Sea lions are a very adaptable species. They live relatively well in close connection with human beings. There's about a quarter million sea lions or more here along the coast of California. So having sea lion pups -- this is the nursing season, when the sea lions are being born, and nursing with their mothers. They're showing up, as you pointed out, with their ribs protruding, about 25 pounds. They should be on average around 60 pounds at this time of year. So it's very, very concerning. A lot of them are dehydrated and malnourished.

And one could argue that these types of marine mammals are like canaries in the coal mine. They really help us get a sense of the overall health of the ecosystem. So if sea lions are suffering, it's likely that something bigger is going on. They're the first visible signs of that impact. And people are using these beaches and resources as well, and it's very scary. And the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration has determined this as an unusual mortality rate, which really shows the level of concern that authorities have about this trend.

MALVEAUX: And is there anything that wildlife rescue agencies can do? Can they rehabilitate them? Can they get them back to normal?

COUSTEAU: Well, indeed, they can. And there are several wonderful organizations, Marine Mammal Rescue Center up here in San Francisco. There's an organization, Marine Mammal Rescue Center, in Los Angeles. Sea World does a lot of work in San Diego. All of these organizations are dealing with a dramatic increase and influx of these sick and diseased sea lions.

And people can really help out by supporting these organizations and getting involved. And of course, we always recommend that if people do see a sick or dead sea lion on the beach, do not approach it. Call the local authorities. Stay well, well away and respect them.

MALVEAUX: All right. Philippe, thank you so much. We really appreciate it.

COUSTEAU: Always a pleasure.

MALVEAUX: Thank you.

In most parts of the country, the sun is out. And some investors starting to think about selling stocks now because summer weather usually brings a selloff. But is it really time to sell or time to buy? That's up next.


MALVEAUX: After hitting record highs again last week, the Dow Jones starting this week a little bit lower. You see it right there, the Dow Jones down 159 points. China reported slower economic growth this morning and that triggered a big drop in the price of gold. The markets followed as well. And, the question many investors are asking now, is this a time to get in or get out of the market.

Christine Romans explains that, with summer approaching, a lot of people taking vacations from their investments.


CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN BUSINESS CORRESPONDENT: The sun is up, stocks are up, what could go wrong?


ROMANS: The Go-Goes said it best in the '80s, "It's time for bathing suits, beaches, boating and selling stocks." Yes, we are headed into traditionally the worst six months for the stock market, May through October. Thus, that old Wall Street adage, "Sell in May and go away."

SAM STOVALL, CHIEF EQUITY STRATEGIST, S&P CAPITAL IQ: The market has outperformed itself, November through April, compared with May through October, almost 75 percent of the time. So it's averages plus batting averages that cause people to say, you know what, in the summer investors focus more on their tans.

ROMANS: This batting average is high. Since about 1950, from November to April, the S&P 500 gained 1400 points. In May through October, it's lost 97 points.

STOVALL: History says but doesn't guarantee we'll probably advance another 3 percent before stumbling from exhaustion like the messenger from Marathon.

ROMANS: The most recent marathon took the S&P 500 to record highs.

(on camera): Close your eyes and buy the highs?

STOVALL: Well, actually, I was thinking of a song called "Close Your Eyes."


ROMANS (voice-over): So if you decide to sell this May, think twice before going too far away.

Christine Romans, CNN, New York.


MALVEAUX: This is really interesting. A Michigan judge is not happy when a cell phone rings in his court. But get this, it is his own phone, so he gives himself a punishment. We'll tell you what he did, up ahead.


MALVEAUX: Before we end the hour, here are a few stories that caught our eye.

Parts of a popular national park in California are being closed because of graffiti. More than 300 acres of trails and giant rock formations are now off limits at the Joshua Tree National Park outside of L.A. That is because people are vandalizing rocks and taking and posting pictures on social media. If caught, the vandals could face fines as well as prison time.

Movie star, Hugh Jackman, got a bit more than a workout when he went to the gym this past weekend. The Oscar nominee was at the gym in New York when a woman pulled out an electric razor and started following him. She left him when security got there and police caught up with her on the street and arrested her. She is now charged with stalking.

And this one out of Michigan. So, you know, you are asked to turn off the cell phone at the movies or in court. Well, one judge forgot to turn off his own device during the hearing his phone went off, and the prosecutor was giving closing arguments. So the judge, Raymond Boot, seen here, found himself in contempt of court, paid a $25 fine.


And thousands coming out for the annual Boston Marathon today. All you runners, it was a huge day. Strong kick gave Ethiopia's Walese Dasisa (ph) the men's win. The women's division, Kenya's Mika Kovo (ph) finished in first place. In both races, an American finished fourth.

The rules are changing for the National Spelling Bee. No longer will the winner be determined by how well they excel at spelling. They're also going to have to define a few words in order to make it to the final round. It was the executive director of the spelling bee who said it is not just enough to know how to spell a word, but that top spellers should also know what those words mean.

And this is getting a lot of attention. Talking about free advertising. Kmart releasing an online ad, had a little potty humor in it, and it went viral. So here's what has so many people laughing.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Ship my pants right here? Ship my pants? You're kidding.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You can ship your pants right here.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You hear that? I can ship my pants for free.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Wow. I just may ship my pants.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes. Ship your pants.

Billy, you can ship your pants too.

UNIDENTIFIED BOY: I can't wait to ship my pants, dad.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I just shipped my pants and it is very convenient.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Very convenient.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I can ship my drawers.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I just shipped my nighty.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I just shipped the bed.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: If you can't find what you're looking for in store, you'll find it at right now and ship it to you for free.


MALVEAUX: Kmart says this ad has more than seven million views now on YouTube.

That's it for me. But CNN NEWSROOM is continuing right now with Brianna Keilar.