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Interview With Rick Santorum; California Fires

Aired May 3, 2013 - 18:00   ET


JIM ACOSTA, CNN ANCHOR: Happening now: huge clouds of smoke over the California coast. A massive wildfire threatens thousands of homes.

Relatives claim the body of a Boston bombing suspect, but there's still a controversy over his burial, as new details suggest he turned his home into a bomb factory.

And former presidential candidate Rick Santorum joins us from of the NRA's gathering in Houston, where they are slamming President Obama. Is it a victory party after the defeat of gun control legislation? We will ask him.

We want to welcome our viewers in the United States and around the world. Wolf Blitzer is off today. I'm Jim Acosta, and you're in THE SITUATION ROOM.

We're following a very dangerous situation in Southern California, a huge wildfire burning out of control for the second day in a row. Walls of flames are threatening homes and entire neighborhoods in Ventura County, northwest of Los Angeles. In some cases, fire crews are battling the flames from house to house, in terrible conditions with high temperatures, low humidity and steep terrain. More than 10,000 acres have burned. And right now, 4,000 homes are threatened.

Almost 1,000 firefighters are on the ground, and 14 helicopters and planes are helping battle the flames from the air. And take a look at this. This is what the fire looks like from space, the smoke filling hundreds of square miles of sky off the Southern California coast. We will talk to our severe weather expert Chad Myers in just a moment, about where that smoke is headed.

But first, let's go to Kyung Lah in Ventura County.

Kyung, how do things look where you are?

KYUNG LAH, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, it's a very different picture than what it looked like several hours ago. Firefighters have been really hammering these hillsides, Jim.

That's one hot spot over my shoulder there. You can see it kind of smoldering. These hot spots are a huge concern to firefighters. But take a look at this charred hillside. Firefighters -- when we came up on this, a lot of this was on fire. It's burned all the way down the ridge. And they have been hitting this area with water from the sky, but also trying to keep an eye on anything that might flare up again.

It is the winds here that are a huge concern. Here's what a firefighter told us just a short time ago.


LAH: Is it better today vs. yesterday?

CAPT. SCOTT DETTORRE, VENTURA COUNTY FIRE DEPARTMENT: What's better today is we are going to have more forces in place to combat the fire with. What's probably going to be worse today is the weather.

LAH: You are just going to let this thing burn right into the ocean?

DETTORRE: That's -- yes, that's the plan. When we have this much wind behind it, that's about really all we can do.

We get on the flanks. We want to get on the side of it. We try to contain it and we try to run this thing right into the Pacific Ocean.


LAH: So, what you're seeing, again, the charred hillsides, this is the northern part of this 10,000-acre fire. This is a large fire that covers so much land here, a lot of homes still under mandatory evacuation. A lot of residents are at some of these evacuation centers watching their television, trying to figure out if this fire is going to affect their houses.

Jim, this is a very early start to fire season. We're seeing conditions and fires that you normally see in October. Here, it is only May -- Jim.

ACOSTA: Wow. And California fire officials told us just that earlier today on THE SITUATION ROOM.

And, Kyung, I have to ask you, you look like you're in a safer location than where you were earlier this afternoon or earlier today. When I was looking at your live pictures from earlier, the sky around you looked red. It looked like it might have been difficult to breathe. What is it like for these firefighters battling these flames right now?

LAH: Well, I'm in the same location. We haven't moved. The conditions changed. And they can change rapidly.

We're talking in just minutes, the sky will go from being red to being pretty clear because of the shifting winds, very strong winds. What firefighters are going through is not just dealing with the winds, but I'm actually going to just pull up a piece of brush here. Look, you can just crack this stuff right in your hands, make it completely disappear. Imagine if you put fire to that. That is what firefighters are facing. Then they have got to put on the suits. They have got to stay hydrated and deal with all of these conditions at the same time, so a very tough job for firefighters. And, again, it's just May.

ACOSTA: All right, Kyung Lah, where it could be a very long, hot spring and summer in Ventura County, California. Kyung, thanks so much.

And weather is a critical factor, of course, in fighting this fire.

CNN meteorologist Chad Myers has that part of the story for us.

Chad, here's the question, I guess biggest question right now. Will firefighters be getting a break?

CHAD MYERS, CNN METEOROLOGIST: Yes. They are getting the break right now.

Yesterday, Jim, I'm not kidding you, the winds were gusting to 48 miles per hour out of the east-northeast right at where Kyung Lah is right here. This is kind of the coast. This is Point Mugu. This is Malibu right here. The winds today have shifted direction. This is a hot, dry wind. They come down the mountains. They warm up. It was still hot earlier today.

We still had right there in Camarillo 96 degrees earlier this afternoon. But now the winds have shifted direction. Now they are coming in from the ocean. And that's bringing in a cooler and a wetter wind, a more humid wind. That's the humidity you need to make this fire go away.

And eventually by Sunday night, that will be the rain that they need to put this fire away. It started here along the Ventura Highway, right there. You remember that song. Right here, this is Camarillo Springs, kind of a retirement community. Earlier, we showed you all of these just R.V.s on fire, at least a dozen of them there.

And the terrain, the topography is so steep, that the firefighters couldn't get there. For a while yesterday, the winds were so big, so high, that they had to take the planes, the fixed-wing airplanes, they had to take them out of the sky. It was just too dangerous for them to fly. All they had were little helicopters. You can't dump as much water out of a helicopter as you can dump out of an airplane or Phos-Chek, for that matter.

There were many homes today in danger, including this one here. You might want to go look up on Google. You can find a 747 home. It's actually made from 747 wings. The fire was less than 100 feet from that home. Firefighters have beat these one house at a time, beat the fire back. Now the fire's kind of running toward the ocean, running away in just this wildland area.

And what they're saying, just let it burn. There's nothing here to hurt. We will protect one house at a time and we will be good. The winds have died down, only 10 miles per hour right now, compared to 45 and 48 yesterday. Notice how the wind is just not taking those smoke plumes and sending them right across the ground.

Some of these smoke plumes are allowed to go up a little bit. When the smoke plumes go up, we know that the wind is dying down. They will get a handle on this, but it still -- I'm not kidding you, Jim -- this might take a week or two to mop up every hot spot here.

And this is now, we have talked about this, only May. In the last 24 months, Southern California should have picked up 29 inches of rain. They picked up 14. That's less than half of what they should have. So all of these sticks, all of this chaparral, it's all dead or dying, and it's so dry, it's going to burn all season long. This could be one of the worst fire seasons that we have had, remember, in a very long time, Jim.

ACOSTA: Chad Myers painting a grim picture for us. Chad, thank you.

We're also getting word of mandatory evacuations at Point Mugu Naval Base.

And one of the evacuated Marines joins us on the phone right now, Staff Sergeant Noah Stonehowell.

And, Sergeant, tell us what you are seeing right now.

STAFF SGT. NOAH STONEHOWELL, U.S. MARINE CORPS: Well, what's going on, sir?

I saw smoke -- I'm on Wynimi (ph) now. They evacuated us over here. We're sitting at (AUDIO GAP) area that they usually have for the Naval Reserves. We're just staying here and waiting for the smoke to clear so we can hopefully go back home. They should let us go home tomorrow hopefully around 6:00 p.m. That's the word we got. But we're just waiting.

ACOSTA: And what were the conditions like before you left?

STONEHOWELL: They were pretty bad.

Ash was everywhere, thick smoke. You could -- hard to breathe. But the firemen came in and took care of it and told us to hurry up and evacuate, get out of here, and gave us the direction to go.

ACOSTA: Yes. And, Sergeant, one thing that we have heard from a lot of people is that typically this is the sort of fire activity you see during the summer or late in the year maybe going into fall. Are you hearing some of that similar talk, and does that have people worried where you are?

STONEHOWELL: Yes, sir, I heard a little bit. A few guys that had been here a little longer than me, they were talking about it. They said that, you know, when it's usually dry later in the summer, this is how it gets. But it really surprises them that it's so early. ACOSTA: And are you seeing the same thing when -- when you're looking at the dry brush and just the conditions that could lead to a wildfire breaking out? Is the ground just that dry?

STONEHOWELL: Yes, sir, it is. It's horrible.

It's like -- it's hard to explain. You would have to really be used to that type of thing, you know, the touch the grass and the brush and you will see how dry it is. And that wind doesn't help either.

ACOSTA: All right, Staff Sergeant Noah Stonehowell on the phone with us, thank you very much.

And as you're seeing right now, these live pictures, evacuations taking place at the Point Mugu Naval Base, with five -- or 4,000 homes being threatened right now by this fire, 10,000 acres already burned by this wildfire. We will be staying on top of this throughout the hour here on THE SITUATION ROOM.

But coming up next, relatives claim the bombing -- the body of Boston bombing suspect Tamerlan Tsarnaev, but can they find a place to bury him? We will take you inside the growing controversy in Boston.

And an American citizen facing 15 brutal years in a North Korean labor camp. He had made a number of visits there. Why is he in trouble right now? That's coming up.


ACOSTA: Did Boston bombing suspect Tamerlan turn his own home into a bomb factory?

A source briefed on the investigation says residue of explosives was found on the kitchen table, kitchen sink and bathtub of the apartment that Tsarnaev shared with his wife and daughter. Meantime, there's a growing controversy over his body, funeral and burial.

CNN's Brian Todd is looking into that -- Brian.

BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Jim, Tamerlan Tsarnaev has been dead now for more than two weeks. But as you mentioned, the controversy surrounding him continues, as the community and his family struggle over how, when and where to bury him.


TODD (voice-over): He's causing emotional turmoil, even in death. Tamerlan Tsarnaev's body finally claimed by his uncle and sisters drew protesters to one funeral home, and that home only had him for a few hours.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Send him back to Russia.

TODD: The director of the funeral home in Worcester, Massachusetts, which currently has the body, says he's had trouble finding a cemetery that will take Tsarnaev for burial. A family spokeswoman says the body won't be taken to Russia, that he will be buried somewhere in the general Boston area.

We went around Boston and Cambridge asking people how they felt about that.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It's too sad for words. It's too sad. He shouldn't be here. He should never have come. If he had never come, it would have been -- none of this would have happened. He had every advantage he could have here. He shouldn't be buried here.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I don't really care where he's buried. To me, he's dead already. How much more can you punish him? I just -- to me, it's too petty.

TODD: The issue of how to bury Tsarnaev is also hugely controversial, especially within Boston's Muslim community.

(on camera): As for leaders here at the Islamic Society of Boston Mosque in Cambridge, where the brothers sometimes prayed, well, they want nothing to do with the funeral. They're not involved with it, and they no longer even want to talk about it. As one official here told me, they understand the Tsarnaev family's pain, but they're -- quote -- "utterly devastated by this entire experience."

(voice-over): After midday prayers at this Yusuf Mosque in Brighton, I asked Imam Ibrahim Rahim why so many top imams, including him, won't preside over Tamerlan Tsarnaev's funeral.

IMAM IBRAHIM RAHIM, YUSUF MOSQUE: Addressing his issue over addressing the -- his concerns over the concerns of the entire Commonwealth of Massachusetts, it just doesn't balance out. So we don't touch it to be respectful in regard for all the sentiments that are out there.

TODD: So in place of traditional burial with an imam, Rahim says he would advise the family to have a relative or another layperson preside, do it privately, with the traditional rites of washing the body, shrouding it, praying, placing him in the ground.

(on camera): Do you think he should be buried in Massachusetts, or in the United States even?

RAHIM: I don't know what his nation status is, but if he's not from here, then -- this is an American speaking, not an imam -- I think he probably should go back to his nation to be buried. But that's not up to me.


TODD: And aside from the questions of how and where Tamerlan Tsarnaev will be buried, there's also the continuing question of when. A family spokeswoman says relatives will not bury the suspected bomber until an independent autopsy is conducted -- Jim.

ACOSTA: And, Brian, we're getting word that the alleged bombers did not plan to attack the marathon. What more do we know about that?

TODD: That's right, Jim.

A law enforcement official regularly briefed on the investigation told our Susan Candiotti today that the Tsarnaev brothers originally contemplated carrying out a suicide bombing attack on July 4 in Boston. It could have possibly taken place along the Charles River Esplanade here. I mean, that's a huge event here in Boston. Some 500,000 people gather to watch fireworks and listen to music. There could have been just massive carnage.

That official said that Tamerlan -- that Dzhokhar Tsarnaev told investigators that the marathon was chosen as a target only about a day or two in advance. They chose it. They moved up the date because the bombs were completed earlier than they expected. And that official also says that the bombs were made in the apartment of Tamerlan Tsarnaev that he shared with his wife and child in Cambridge.

ACOSTA: Brian, thank you.

Investigators are keeping a close eye on the widow of Tamerlan Tsarnaev.

Let's turn to CNN's Erin McPike outside Katie Russell's family home in North Kingstown, Rhode Island.

Erin, you spoke with Russell's attorney. What did he tell you?

ERIN MCPIKE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Jim, just to clear up any confusion about the meetings that Katie Russell has been having with the FBI, he said, it's not as though they're looking across a table and just staring at each other. They are in fact spending a number of hours questioning her.

And, Jim, the other thing I would add that I thought was very interesting is that he said the FBI is showing Katie Russell pictures and having her comment on them. Now, we don't know any further details about that specifically, but the attorney did make clear that a very thorough investigation is going on. He just wouldn't answer more burning questions, Jim.

ACOSTA: All right, Erin McPike, thank you.

Coming up, compensation for the victims in Boston. We will look at how much they could get, and I will talk to the mother of two victims. Both of her sons lost a leg.

Plus, records were set on Wall Street today -- details of what's behind the rally.



ACOSTA: Just ahead, former presidential candidate Rick Santorum joins us from the NRA meeting in Houston, where he's accusing President Obama of looking down his nose at people who cling to their guns and Bibles, his words there.

And coming up, an emotional tribute to the Americans who died in the Benghazi Consulate attack, and new information about who may be behind that attack.


ACOSTA: Happening now: Rick Santorum responds to Newtown families pushing for new gun control. He joins us from the NRA Convention in Houston.

Also, new details of the American man sentenced to 15 years of hard labor in North Korea. His sister is now speaking out.

And an emotional memorial for the Americans killed in Benghazi. We have new information about a possible al Qaeda role.

Wolf Blitzer is off today. I'm Jim Acosta. And you're in THE SITUATION ROOM.

Up to 75,000 people are gathering in Houston for the annual meeting of the National Rifle Association. It's taking on the air of a victory party after the failure of new gun control legislation in the Senate. The NRA meeting features several stars of the Republican base, among them, former presidential candidate Rick Santorum, who wasted no time attacking President Obama. Take a listen.


RICK SANTORUM (R), FORMER U.S. SENATOR: But when Barack Obama says he wants to transform America, and he looks down his nose at people who cling to their guns and Bibles, understand, he understands that the critical transition America has to make is to reject the Declaration, to reject that living, breathing document of the Constitution.


ACOSTA: And Senator Santorum joins us now from Houston.

Senator, thanks very much for your time. We appreciate it.

Let's get right to it. I guess you've been watching what's been going on this week at these town hall meetings that some of these senators have been having, Senator Kelly Ayotte being one of them.

Take a listen to this. This is Erica Lafferty. She's the daughter of Sandy Hook's principal, who was killed in the Newtown shooting. She was on with CNN's Carol Costello earlier today, talking about why she's been confronting politicians like Senator Ayotte on gun control legislation.

Here's what she had to say.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) ERICA LAFFERTY, DAUGHTER OF NEWTOWN VICTIM: I wouldn't say that I'm trying to shame senators. I'm trying to get them to answer a very simple question. And a lot of their defense has been, for example, the burden on people who are trying to sell guns. That's really irrelevant, in my mind. What about the burden on the family members who are victims of gun violence?


ACOSTA: Senator, if you were in Kelly Ayotte's shoes, what would you have said to Ms. Lafferty?

FORMER SEN. RICK SANTORUM, R-PENNSYLVANIA: I would have said the words of President Obama, which is, none of the actions proposed in the Senate bill would have done anything to alleviate violence in Newtown.

In fact, the statistics are very clear that a infinitesimal number of violent acts are committed with guns that are acquired in the way that this Senate bill wanted to stop them. So it's not answering the problem.

The problem is a much more complex problem, which the president doesn't want to seem to want to deal with, which is the pervasiveness of violence, the lack of sensitivity in life in our country, the glorification of violence by the media and particularly the popular culture, the problems that we have in our mental health system.

And there's are a lot of problems that are going on. Our lack of security in schools. There's a lot of issues. But to focus on one, in his eyes, I mean, again, the president admitted that the bill before the Senate would have done nothing to fix the Newtown, and then to use Newtown as a reason to change the law, that would have done nothing to stop the people in Newtown from doing what they did, that -- the persion at Newtwon from doing what they did, that's disingenuous.

ACOSTA: But Senator, isn't it possible --

SANTORUM: So I would say to Kelly Ayotte and everybody else, that to stand up for these basic freedoms of law-abiding people being able to acquire guns in a fashion that has been consistent in this country for 200 years, that has not been leading to the problems we're seeing in this country.

ACOSTA: But Senator, isn't it possible, though, that by expanding background checks, you might stop the next Newtown?

SANTORUM: You know, Jim, there are lots of things we can do to pass laws to stop people from hurting other people. But the question is, how do we balance people's freedoms? There's lots of things we can do with automobiles to make sure people don't get in accidents, there's a lot of things that we can -- or hurt somebody else. There's things we can do with knives to make sure people don't hurt any -- there's all sorts of things that the government can do to stop the next something bad from happening. The question is, you have to balance that with what the burden is on people, what price of freedom, the intrusion of the government, and all of these things are things that are just sort of thrown out the window as not mattering when it comes to guns.

But when it comes to a whole lot of other issues, they seem to matter a lot more.

ACOSTA: But Senator, whether or not it might have prevented what happened in Newtown, if 90 percent of Americans are in favor of this legislation, or this kind of legislation, shouldn't it pass?

SANTORUM: Well, you know, that's up to the elected officials to determine whether they defer their judgment on these things to what the public wants, or their job is to convince the public that what they're being sold -- and frankly they're being sold every single day by the mainstream media -- that this is some cure, this is some secret weapon that will end gun violence in America, they're being sold that day in, day out on the front page of almost every major paper and your network and others --

ACOSTA: But Senator, hasn't the --

SANTORUM: We need to do a better job of going out and convincing them that that's just simply not the case.

ACOSTA: But the numbers are there, though, that the background check system as it stands now does block some people from buying weapons who should not be buying weapons, whether they be mentally ill, whether --


acosta: -- whether it be that they have felonies on their records. Doesn't the background check system work to some extent?

SANTORUM: And we need to improve that system.

ACOSTA: Wouldn't you say it works?

SANTORUM: We need to improve -- sure, we need to improve that system. I would agree with that, that we need to do a better job in getting mental health records from states that don't contribute mental health records to the national system. And criminal records and all sorts of other things. There are lots of things we can do to improve the existing system.

But when it comes to the types of, sort of off-retail sales that are going on, that is not where the problem exists. And it is not an area that we need to focus on. We should focus on fixing the original, and the current system of doing background checks, as opposed to trying to expand it, when it doesn't particularly -- isn't effective right now.

ACOSTA: Let me ask you about another issue that faced the president this week. He was asked about the FDA's approval of over- the-counter sales Plan B -- the morning after pill. Listen to what the president said. He was asked about the FDA's conclusion that women, or girls, you might say, 15 and up, can purchase this over the counter.

Here's what the president had to say about that.


BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: The rule that's been put forward by the FDA, Secretary Sebelius has reviewed, she's comfortable with, I'm comfortable with it. I'm very supportive of contraception, because I think it's very important that women have control over their health care choices.


ACOSTA: Are you comfortable with it, Senator?

SANTORUM: You're talking about 15-year-old girls who have to get permission to get an aspirin in schools. And now we're going to make these contraceptants available over the counter for little girls, without their parents' knowledge. I think that's a horrific infringement upon parental authority. And I think it causes more problems.

We want to have a society that encourages parents and children to talk to each other, to deal with these issues together, instead of having the government make it easier for children to do things behind their parents' back.

ACOSTA: Finally, Senator, you ran for president, obviously, last year, didn't turn out so well. But 2016, as you know, is looming out there on the horizon. There were some reports recently that you were planning to go to Iowa, but fell ill and couldn't make the trip out there. You're running for president, aren't you?

SANTORUM: Well, no announcements today, Jim. But thank you for the plug. I appreciate that. We'll be heading back -- we're heading to Iowa, I think, in August. We'll be out there for the state fair for a few days. And we'll be, as here in Houston, traveling around the country talking about the important issues.

As I've said, very publicly, I haven't ruled out anything. Sort of behaving like, you know, like we're open to the idea -- I always say, you know, I'm not running, I'm walking. And just trying to walk the path and discern what's in the best interests of our country and the family and the things I care about.

ACOSTA: Going to Iowa is certainly behaving like a candidate.

SANTORUM: Well, you guys cover me when I go there, so it's always fun.

ACOSTA: That we certainly do. Senator Santorum, thank you very much for your time.

SANTORUM: Thank you.

ACOSTA: We appreciate it. We'll see you in Iowa. Thank you.

SANTORUM: I appreciate it, Jim.

ACOSTA: Coming up next, an American citizen sentenced to 15 years in a North Korean labor camp, is it because he may have given food to hungry orphans?

And coming up, we hear from a mother whose two sons were hurt in the Boston bombings. What she's worried about now?


ACOSTA: There are new indications that Al Qaeda played a key role in last year's attack on the U.S. diplomatic post in Benghazi. Those revelations follow an emotional tribute today to the four Americans who died in Libya.

CNN Pentagon correspondent Barbara Starr has the latest -- Barbara.

BARBARA STARR, CNN PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT: Well, Jim, CNN's national security team has exclusive information that one of the most dangerous elements of Al Qaeda was involved in the attack that the families are still mourning today.


JOHN KERRY, SECRETARY OF STATE: It's a hard day. It's a day that brings back pain, but it's also a day I'd hope of comfort, and of pride.

STARR (voice-over): Eight months after the attack on the U.S. compound in Benghazi, Libya, a state department memorial for diplomats killed in the line of duty, including the four Americans at the compound that night, Ambassador Chris Stevens.

KERRY: Everyone felt like he was a personal friend.

STARR: State department computer specialist Sean Smith.

KERRY: Shawn, throughout his career, went places that other people didn't.

STARR: Security officers Ty Woods and Glen Daugherty.

KERRY: Thanks to their bravery and sacrifice, 30 Americans escaped the attack.

STARR: But eight months after the attack, no one has been charged with their murders. CNN has learned western intelligence agencies now believe Al Qaeda operatives, working on behalf of their affiliate in Yemen, were involved in the attack. PAUL CRUCKSHANK, CNN TERRORISM ANALYST: Three Yemeni Al Qaeda operatives participated in the actual attack on the consulate in Benghazi on September 11th.

STARR: AQAP or Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula is the group whose former leader Anwar Al-Awaki is said to have inspired the attack at Fort Hood, Texas and the underwear bomb plot to bring down a passenger plane.

CRUCKSHANK: What is not known yet is whether these individuals were actually dispatched from Yemen specifically to launch the attack or whether they just happened to be in Benghazi and joined in.

STARR: The FBI also releasing three images, men it says were there during the attack. It's not calling them suspects, but wants to talk to them about what they know. Many in Congress are pressing for more action.

REP. JASON CHAFFETZ (R), OVERSIGHT AND GOVERNMENT REFORM COMMITTEE: We have four dead Americans, we have injured people, there's nobody that's been brought to justice.

STARR: The administration insists it is seeking justice.

PATRICK VENTRELL, STATE DEPARTMENT SPOKESMAN: Look, there's been a very politicized campaign over many months to have all sorts of theories out there, and all sorts of speculation.

STARR: But on this day, the vice president summing up the emotion.

JOE BIDEN, VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I must tell you, I wish I wasn't here today. Our country wants to make sure, wants to make absolutely sure that the incredible heroism each of your family members, each of your loved ones showed is remembered.


STARR: Al Qaeda in Yemen, Jim, it is worth remembering, this is one of the Al Qaeda groups still, again, that can reach out and touch inside the United States, and clearly still has the organization, financing and capability to conduct terrorist attacks, something that U.S. officials say is very worrisome --Jim.

ACOSTA: We do remember, Barbara. Thank you.

And we are also learning more about the American citizen who is facing 15 brutal years in a North Korean labor camp, a tour operator who had made a number of trips to the communist north.

CNN foreign affairs correspondent Jill Dougherty has the story.


JILL DOUGHERTY, CNN FOREIGN AFFAIRS CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): His sister said Kenneth Bae never had trouble before traveling to North Korea, five times last year.

TERRI CHUNG, KENNETH BAE'S SISTER: He's only had the biggest heart for the people and the nation of North Korea. And, you know, he was really happy that he was helping in some small way to their economic growth.

DOUGHERTY: The 44-year-old Korean-American from Lynwood, Washington operated tours from China, bringing in businessmen. He was arrested in early November in Rason, North Korea, a special economic zone near the border with Russia and China. This week he was found guilty of unspecified hostile acts.

CHUNG: He's generous and giving, and maybe he could have delivered bread to orphanages once or two.

DOUGHERTY: Many people are malnourished or starving id extremely sensitive about food. After Bae was arrested, U.S. officials told CNN he was involved with a Protestant religious movement. That, too, could infuriate the north.

On his eight trips to North Korea, former New Mexico governor Bill Richardson has been a go-between. In January, on a trip with Google executive Eric Schmidt, he took a letter to Kenneth Bae from his family and asked to see him.

BILL RICHARDSON, FORMER NEW MEXICO GOVERNOR: The North Koreans were saying he had committed a crime. But they also said they were very mad at the United States for additional sanctions that we've put on at the U.N. after their underground blast. And I said to them, look, this is a poor man on a humanitarian mission. Let him go.

DOUGHERTY: Now Bae is sentenced to 15 years in a labor camp. But Richardson thinks there is hope he will be released.

RICHARDSON: This is what the North Koreans do. They sentence somebody, and the last four or five, then, they extract a price, you know, a visit by high-profile person.

DOUGHERTY: That's what happened in 20009 when the north free freed American journalists, Laura Ling and Euna Lee to former president Bill Clinton.

For now, Kenneth Bae's friends have started a Web site, free Ken now. He likes helping people, they say, and now they say it looks like that got him in trouble.

And potentially, there could be three people who could go to North Korea, and at least try to get Kenneth Bae out. And that, of course, would be Bill Richardson, Bill Clinton and Jimmy Carter. But with this unpredictable leader no longer the new young leader, Kim Jong-Un, it's really very hard to say how this is going to be resolved, Jim.

ACOSTA: Far from predictable. Thank you, Jill Dougherty.

Up next, we're talking to the mother of two men injured in the blast in Boston. Find out her biggest worry when she gets home from the hospital.


ACOSTA: Man in charge of the compensation fund for victims of the Boston marathon bombing say the families of the three people killed could each get more than $1 million. Amounts for those injured will be discussed in two upcoming town hall meetings. The money would obviously help with medical costs and some of the most severely injured victims are still in the hospital.

And joining us now from Boston is Liz Norden. Her sons, JP and Paul, both lost legs in bombings. They are in separate hospitals, but they did see each other for the first time this week. And Liz is good enough to join us under these circumstances.

I guess Liz, the first question to ask, how are your sons doing?

LIZ NORDEN, SONS LOST LEGS IN BOMBINGS: They are fighting every day. JP is actually in surgery, but they are fighting. So hopefully we're going in the right direction.

ACOSTA: And what is this recovery process been like these last couple weeks, not only for them, but for you?

NORDEN: It's been a long road. Almost three weeks now, feels like a lifetime, you know, back and forth to hospitals. You know, getting good information at one hospital and then not so good at the other hospital. It's just been a long process, you know, a roller coaster. But hopefully we are going in the right direction now and I'm just thankful they are alive.

ACOSTA: This obviously is going to be a long, tough process for both of them, for all of you. Financially speaking, what's that going to be like for your family? Are you going to be able to pay all of these bills that are going to be coming?

NORDEN: Honestly, I haven't even focused on that part yet. It's just -- that's the furthest thing from my mind right now. My mind is trying to get my boys in the right direction. So at night when I go home and have that two minutes, I think, what am I going to do. But that's barely been a focus on me. My focus is getting the boys on the road to recovery.

ACOSTA: So, let me ask you this. What should the rest of the country know about what your family is going through, what some of other families are going through right now, what can you tell everybody?

NORDEN: I'm not really sure. I mean, we are just going through a nightmare. What were going to through when, you know, my boys are being strong. And like I said, they are being so strong is what's keeping us going. And you know, we are thinking of everybody else that's going through this as well. It's a devastating thing. It's just, you know, horrible. But my focus -- my only focus is my two boys and the well-being of everybody else.

ACOSTA: Liz Norden, all of our thoughts and prayers are with you and your sons and everybody in Boston who are dealing with this.

And we appreciate your time very much. Thank you, Liz.

NORDEN: Thank you.

ACOSTA: And if you'd like to help Liz's sons, the family has set up the JP and Paul Norden benefit fund. You can k find the information on room.

Men, women, self-image and soap? Jeanne Moos looks at parodies of a commercial that's gone viral. That's next.

And, this quick programming note. On the next parts unknown, Anthony Bourdain takes us on then a tour of Canada with two of the funniest and most brilliant chefs of the great white north. That's an all new Anthony Bourdain, parts on Canada, this it Sunday at 9:00 p.m. eastern and Pacific right here on CNN.


ACOSTA: If imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, then the makers of a new ad campaign for Dove soap should be very flattered.

CNN's Jeanne Moos shows us the parodies that popped up after the original went viral.


JEANNE MOOS, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): You know you have a viral hit on your hands when everyone starts doing parodies. So to the makers of the now famous Dove video, let's hope your skin is thick rather than sensitive because it's getting hard to tell the original.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I'm a forensic artist.

MOOS: From the spoofs.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I have been a forensic artist for over 25 years.

MOOS: In case you're not one of the well over 25 million who have viewed the original video --

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Tell me about your chin.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It kind of protrude a little bit.

MOOS: It features an artist sketching women without looking based on their own descriptions of themselves.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What would be your most prominent feature?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Kind of a fat rounder face.

MOOS: He does a second sketch based on a stranger's depiction of each woman. The upshot is that the pictures of the women is they describe themselves are way less attractive from the ones based on the strangers were flattering description.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Just very strange.

MOOS: And while many were touched by the women's insecurities, the parodies zeroed in on what men would say about their looks.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Almost like a light Denzel Washington.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Tell me about your eyes.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: A lot of people say they are an abyss because they just don't end.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What would you say is your most prominent feature?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Probably my bulge.

MOOS: Cockiness like that resulted in the self-described sketches resembling movie stars unlike based on one like a stranger's description.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: That is not me.

MOOS: Another favorite theme was what men focus on when looking at women.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's a sketch you helped me create and that is a sketch that somebody described of you.

MOOS: The real and the parody videos spawn different conclusions. Women, you are more beautiful than you think. Men, you are less beautiful than you think. And boobs are just as beautiful as you think.

But most of the spoofs involve men acting like boobs.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I'm a lot better looking than I thought I was.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You are actually be the other one.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes. You suck at drawing.

MOOS: It's safe to try this at home.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: What about your eyes?

MOOS: My eyes are menthol blue. That's with or without my contacts.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Tell me about your ears.

MOOS: What?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Tell me about your ears. MOOS: Half deaf, extra large.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Describe your hands.

MOOS: Soapy like that Dove commercial.

That didn't stop it from going massively viral. I say viral?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: How would you describe your nostrils?


MOOS: Jeanne Moos, CNN, New York.


ACOSTA: And we are getting all laddered up here so, it's time to go.

Remember you can follow me and what's going on in the SITUATION ROOM on twitter. Just tweet me @Jim Acosta CNN and tweet the show, especially for that story @CNNSitroom.

That's it for us. Erin Burnett "OUT FRONT" starts right now.