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CNN NEWSROOM

Search for a Triple Killer; Gold Plunges to Two-Year Low; 9-11 Memorial Fee; Bieber Backlash; Bataan Death March Survivor Speaks

Aired April 15, 2013 - 14:30   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BRIANNA KEILAR, CNN ANCHOR: Why won't some students come to the United States to study? Not because it is too hard, but because it is too risky. That is according to Secretary of State John Kerry. Today, he told CNN's correspondent Jill Dougherty that gun violence in the U.S. is scaring off Japanese students from studying here.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JOHN KERRY, SECRETARY OF STATE: We had an interesting discussion about why fewer students are coming to -- particularly from Japan, to study in the United States. And one of the responses I got from our officials, from conversations with parents here, is that they're actually scared, they think they're not safe in the United States and so they don't come.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KEILAR: There has been a decline in Japanese students visiting schools all over the globe because of a shrinking population in Japan. That country does not see the frequency of gun violence that exists here, and laws in Japan actually prevent private ownership of all firearms.

In 2008, of 582 Japanese homicides, only 11 from guns. I'm going to open up the conversation now, Ben Ferguson is host of the "Ben Ferguson Show" on the radio, and Keli Goff is political correspondent for the root.com.

Welcome, Ben, to both of you. American gun violence is turning off foreigners apparently. I want to start with you, Ben. How should the U.S. respond to that?

BEN FERGUSON, HOST, "THE BEN FERGUSON SHOW": I don't think the U.S. responds to this at all because I think this is a ridiculous political point that he was trying to make. When you look at the overall number of students coming in from that country, overall there has been a decline consistently year over year.

Basically because of population issues, but I think for him to say one person said this and we should all start changing laws because fewer foreign students are coming here, there is a lot of foreign students coming here. I played sports in college. Every one of my roommates was a foreigner and almost every one of my teammates was a foreigner and none of them had concerns about this scary America with all these guns in this country. I think it is a political ploy.

I think it is bad PR for him to be doing this, representing America, acting as if there is some legitimacy to this. He should have said we don't have a problem in this country compared to other nations with violence, but that's not what he said because it is politics. Still acting like he's a U.S. senator.

KEILAR: Keli, what do you think?

KELI GOFF, POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT, THEROOT.COM: Well, it is bad PR. It's bad PR for America. That's thing number one. But thing number two, I think Ben made a couple of presumptions here. I didn't hear Senator Kerry say this is why we have to change gun control laws because a parent told me they are concerned about sending their kid here. He shared anecdotes --

FERGUSON: Well, he's implying.

GOFF: OK, you heard that. I didn't hear him say that. But, OK, if we're going to say that he was introducing new laws, I didn't hear the secretary of state say that. But the other thing too is you made a comment about you how you were surrounded by a lot of foreigners in school.

I'm not, you know, I'm a woman so I consider it rude for someone to ask my age, I won't ask for yours. But I think that there is a substantive point to be made that the level of gun violence seems to be escalating even with the gun support rally that happened yesterday where someone pulled out a gun and shot themselves.

So I do think that there is a sense that in country we have really lost control in a way we haven't seen since, you know, the western days when people would settle their disputes by, you know, doing a draw your weapon kind of thing out in the street.

And there is sort of that image, I think, of our country sort of becoming like that, where people think we're back in the pioneer days. I don't think that's a positive thing for America.

KEILAR: Let's talk, guys, now about former -- I want to move along to talk about former President George W. Bush because, first off, he's now a grandfather, so congratulations to him, big milestone there. The "Today" show had some photos of his granddaughter, and while Bush is likely to be grandbaby's favorite, he apparently recognizes the rest of the country perhaps not so much.

Listen to this response that he gave the "Dallas Morning News" about the fact that he paints. He said, people are surprised. Of course, some people are surprised that I can even read. Kelly, do you think he earned some points from his critics for that one?

GOFF: Well, absolutely, for being very witty. But the other thing too is does anyone actually remember why Al Gore lost the first election? It wasn't because of hanging chads in Florida. It wasn't because, you know, people don't know how to count votes, it was actually because of beer, I like to say.

Because of the -- everyone remembers -- sometimes people forget that the greatest predictor of who wins the presidency has never actually been pulled polls over the 20 years, it has been the question of who do Americans most want to have a beer with.

And George W. Bush won two times in a row against Gore and Kerry. So my point is Americans have always kind of liked George W. Bush, even people who didn't agree with his policies. So I don't think it is surprising to see us say congratulations he's become a grandfather.

And also his daughter Jenna is lovely for anyone who has met her. She's a lovely person. So I think it is not surprising Americans are happy for him and the new chapter in his life.

KEILAR: But Ben, he's not. I mean, he's not beloved. Gallop took a presidential poll in February. They found that Bush had only a 53 percent approval rating. Only Richard Nixon did worse. What do you think about that?

FERGUSON: I'm not surprised because media changed so much. Remember, Barack Obama ran against George Bush, not John McCain, in the first election. And even in the midterms and even this last election there were continuing to be people that were running against George Bush who hadn't been on a ballot in, what, seven years.

I mean, it has been since 2004 for goodness sakes and so I think there is a lot of this where he -- I don't think he worries about it. I also say that because he's walked away from the spotlight. He is going to have a presidential library open. He's a family man.

I think that history, once people get away from it and start judging Barack Obama for his presidency instead of him acting as if he's always inherited problems, remember, Obama has been president for almost five years. That's a long time.

KEILAR: And I will say as we wrap this up, it does -- it did appear, guys, that he isn't too worried about it and said about as much to the "Dallas Morning News."

GOFF: President Carter who is -- who became very beloved after he left office, even though people didn't think he was a great, competent president. I think there are some similarities there.

KEILAR: We will see and time will tell, I guess. Keli Goff and Ben Ferguson, thanks to both of you.

GOFF: Thank you.

FERGUSON: Thanks for having us.

KEILAR: Now, just ahead, a shocking crime rattles a small community. Three people murdered. What authorities found inside the house that could provide a motive.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

KEILAR: Now to the search for suspects in a grisly triple murder mystery in Idaho. The only witnesses to the crime, two tiny girls. The youngest is only two months old and was found still wrapped under her dead mother's arm.

The three people were found shot to death in month in the tiny community of Holbrook in Oneida County, Idaho right near the Utah border. The victims, 61-year-old Brent Christianson, his 32-year-old son, Trent Christianson, and the son's fiancee, 27-year-old Yvette Carter.

Their bodies were found inside this rural home, which authorities say also housed $100,000 marijuana growing operation and the makings of a dogfighting ring. Dozens of pit bulls were taken from the property.

But the big concern today is for the two little girls, the baby and her 2-year-old sister who were found wandering the house unharmed or who was obviously the 2-year-old was. The children are with relatives now. The Humane Society is caring for the dogs and police are searching for the driver of a red semitrailer seen in the area.

A brazen attack caught on video as a bus driver pummels a passenger. Up next, you won't believe what led to this bizarre beat down.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

KEILAR: A bus driver in Lincoln, Nebraska, is in serious trouble for beating a passenger. Check out this security video. The unidentified rider gets pulled for of all things asking about the bus route. The driver identified as 43-year-old Troy Fisher punched the man dozens of times, even physically dragged him off the bus. Fisher has been fired and faces assault charges.

Just in to CNN, gold taking a big plunge and hitting a two-year low. This as the Dow tanks today. So let's go now to Zain Asher. She is live in New York. Zain, what's going on here?

ZAIN ASHER, CNN PERSONAL FINANCE/BUSINESS CORRESPONDENT: Hi, Brianna. Well, yes, gold trading below $1,400 an ounce, down more than 9 percent after falling 6 percent on Friday as well. Just a year and a half ago, gold was trading up $2,000 an ounce. Many analysts thought it had a lot higher decline.

So the reason for today's sell-off, principally slow growth in China, but in general it started gaming steam last week when Goldman Sachs advised shorting gold. Also the big rally in stocks has gotten the attention of investors who are parking their money into gold to protect against market volatility as well.

In general, gold is used to hedge against uncertainty so the fact that gold is falling right now might indicate people are actually feeling better about the economy -- Brianna.

KEILAR: Well, that may be good news. Zain Asher, thank you for that.

Up next, outrage as families of 9/11 victims learn a fee will be charged to reserve a pass for the memorial. Should people be charged to pay their respects? My panel weighs in next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

KEILAR: It is just a little fee, just two bucks, but it is not just any museum. The 9/11 Memorial and Museum in New York recently created a $2 service fee for visitor passes reserved in advance.

The 9/11 family members are exempt, but that hasn't prevented criticism. One retired firefighter who lost his son on 9/11 told the "New York Post," the fee amounts to making money off the people who died. But the memorial president says the fee helps cover operational needs of the museum and that it only applies to advance reservations.

So let's talk about this with my panel, Jenny Hutt is an author and a talk show host on Sirius radio, and in Los Angeles, we have David Begnaud. He is the radio host of "News Breaker with David Begnaud."

So, first off, guys, I'll start with you, Jenny, is it proper or do you think this is offensive to the victims and their families?

JENNY HUTT, AUTHOR/SIRIUS RADIO HOST: Right, so I don't find it offensive as long as it is not really a for profit endeavour. If this is just to cover operational costs it OK with me and the fact that the direct 9/11 families are exempt from having to pay this fee also is a better thing to be than if they had to pay.

KEILAR: What do you think, David?

DAVID BEGNAUD, HOST, "NEWSBREAKER WITH DAVID BEGNAUD": Yes, look, if it takes two bucks to reserve a spot, for me, if I'm traveling from across the country to visit this memorial spot, I don't have a problem paying it. Everything is an operational cost. Millions were put up, up front, to make this possible and I think it is an amazing place. I'll pay two bucks. Want four bucks, I'll pay it. I personally don't have a problem.

KEILAR: We should point out that if you do get your pass day of in person, there is no $2 fee. This is just for in advance passes. So let's move on to our next topic, this is a story that involves both Anne Frank and Justin Bieber, probably two people that no one really ever thought would be linked in history no doubt.

Bieber visited Anne Frank's house, the Anne Frank house in Amsterdam last Friday, this was the day off during his tour in Europe and he left this description in the guest book. He said, truly inspiring to be able to come here. Anne was a great girl, and here's where he got in trouble, he said, hopefully she would have been a "Belieber."

Obviously some of the folks normally girls who are kind of crazy for him, those comments have drawn scorn from around the world. Anne Frank as we all know was 13 when she started writing and now famous diary about hiding in her family's home for two years. They were found by Nazis in August of 1944 and she died the next year in a concentration camp. What do you guys make of this, of him putting his foot in his mouth here?

BEGNAUD: Well, look, two schools of thought, I mean, in the beginning, apparently, when he first went in, they gave him a pop culture lesson and said Anne Frank loved pop culture. She had one celebrity photo on her wall.

So I guess, Justin Beiber assumed because she was into problem would she be into Bieber? I mean, it smacks of total arrogance. I get the guy is a teenager, but what world does he live in? It is like it is not the right thing to write in a guest book.

Now what is interesting, Brianna, is this, why would they put out that comment? Because if you and I signed that guest book, our comment wouldn't be on CNN, number one, but why do they put out Justin Bieber's comment?

KEILAR: We should tell our viewers that the Anne Frank house takes the comment and they put it on their Facebook page.

HUTT: Well, of course, they do because he's Justin Bieber. But that's why they did it because it -- we're talking about the Anne Frank house. Now I would prefer it if he had said, look, Anne was this exceptional, incredible young woman who had unbelievably tragic circumstances and my goodness, if she could have been a "Belieber," that would have been an honor for me.

Had he been gracious and graceful, I wouldn't have nearly as much a problem. But the guy is going through a bit of an idiot phase, if you will, he's had a lot of mistakes over the past six months and this is just another one of them. Do I really think it was about being arrogant?

No, I think it was about being ignorant and it is unfortunate. I would rather he was focused on the circumstances where she lived what it looked like, my gosh, I've been there, it is -- it is really mind blowing and incredibly sad, and that's what I think about, that the compassion towards Anne. It is just tragic.

BEGNAUD: A lot of the people who have read the diary of Anne Frank are people who are Justin Bieber's fans. So it is not like we are having to explain to his fans the story of Anne Frank, they get it. And so I think even young people, some of whom --

HUTT: Even he doesn't get it.

KEILAR: Obviously this is --

BEGNAUD: Exactly. He lives in another world.

KEILAR: Both of you very sort of upset about it. And I will say that we do have some prominent figures in the Jewish community who have come to his defense in the Anne Frank house itself and taking the high road here. So the fascinating thing is there is a lot of discussion around this. Jenny Hutt and David Begnaud, thank you for joining me you guys.

HUTT: Thank you for having us.

BEGNAUD: Thanks, Brianna.

KEILAR: We'll be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

DR. SANJAY GUPTA, CNN CHIEF MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Lester Tenney and his wife are packing boxes to ship overseas. They're the founders of "Care Packages from Home." It is a volunteer organization that sends goodies to servicemen and women in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Since it began 5-1/2 years ago, they have sent items to 150,000 troops and although it is a labor of love, a more personal reason drives Kenny. You see back, in 1940, he enlisted in the National Guard and was then transferred to the army division and ended up in the Philippines.

Then, Japan attacked Pearl Harbor. One day later, Japan invaded the Philippines. The fighting became so one sided that the U.S. had to surrender. And on April 9th, 1942, American soldiers were brutally forced to march to a POW camp, 80 plus miles away, in 100-degree heat with no food or water.

LESTER TENNEY, CARE PACKAGES FROM HOME: It was called the "Bataan Death March," not because of how many died, but because the way they died.

GUPTA: Tenney says there are no words to describe what happened.

TENNEY: If you couldn't take another step, you were killed, and they just killed you for no reason except for the fact that you did not move.

GUPTA: Tenney made it to the POW camp, and was eventually shipped to Japanese coal mines and survived until the end of World War II.

TENNEY: It was a feeling of freedom that you can't ever describe.

GUPTA: Now a retired professor of economics, he and his wife live in California. Tenney had never stopped thinking about his days as a prisoner of war, the loneliness, the fear. That's the reason he started sending packages to the troops.

TENNEY: They know where I've been, maybe they do, maybe they don't, but the one thing they do know, they do know that we care.

GUPTA: At 92, Lester Tenney is one of the few remaining survivors of the Bataan Death March. How did he survive?

TENNEY: I think my first thought after that was I can't die because the Japanese want to kill me and they're working hard to do it. If I die, then they win and I just was making sure that they did not win.

GUPTA: Dr. Sanjay Gupta, CNN, reporting.

(END VIDEOTAPE)