Return to Transcripts main page


Jewel Theft in Cannes; IRS Scandal Rocks the U.S. Government; Russia Says Weapons Deal Still On; Rescuers Search for Missing, Dead, After Texas Tornadoes; Bangladeshi Garment Factories Open Today; Healing After Boston Bombing

Aired May 17, 2013 - 12:00   ET



MICHAEL HOLMES, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: And I'm Michael Holmes. Thanks for your company today.

MALVEAUX: A million dollars' worth of jewelry swiped from a hotel -- this is in, Cannes, France. It is really like life imitating art if you think about it here. This is the second day of the film festival there and the jewels were supposed to be worn by several high-profile actresses.

HOLMES: Exactly. That's what actresses do. Atika Shubert joins us now from London with more details.

You've got this big film festival going on and this sounds a bit like a movie script itself, and rather a daring sort of thing to do, isn't it? They didn't just break into the safe. They took it.

ATIKA SHUBERT, CNN CORRESPONDENT: No, this was no subtle Pink Panther job. This is somebody who gained access to the room of a Chopard (ph) employee and literally ripped the safe off the wall. Now we don't know what exact pieces were inside the safe; we do know that they were estimated at about a million dollars.

But it could be anything from a pair, a large pair of earrings to a necklace. We just don't know. We're waiting for a statement from Chopard (ph), which is the jeweler, and hopefully we'll get some more details on what the jewels were, who was going to wear it. We do know that they were due to be put on the red carpet. So hopefully we get some more details on that soon.

MALVEAUX: Atika, are you hearing from any actresses who are a little worried now, like what am I going to wear?

SHUBERT: No one seems too worried just yet. I mean, when you consider a million dollars' worth of jewels, that's a lot for you and me, but for what's going on at Cannes, there are tens of millions of dollars that are worn every single day at the Cannes Film Festival. And that makes these kinds of events big targets for thieves. So it's not the first time this has happened.

HOLMES: It's not the first. Tell us about the others. SHUBERT: There have been other cases. Cannes has also been -- usually it's stores, for example. I think there are about $8 million worth of jewels taken from another jewelry store in Cannes. But for example, other major red carpet events have tended to be targeted in the past. Sometimes you don't often hear about it, however.


MALVEAUX: All right.

Atika, we've been debating, Michael and I, Cannes or Cannes. Which one are you going for?

SHUBERT: I guess it depends on how continental you're feeling. I tend to go with Cannes.

MALVEAUX: All right. Well, thanks a lot. We appreciate it. That's a lot of bling we're talking about.

HOLMES: I Cannes believe it.

Well, you have got 1.5 around --


MALVEAUX: -- trying to steal (inaudible).

HOLMES: You've got 1.5 around your neck right now. Yes. This is Chopard (ph). It's probably one earring.



MALVEAUX: (Inaudible) bling.


MALVEAUX: All right.

Well, is this America? Is the government drunk with power? Who is responsible for the IRS scandal? In Washington, those are the questions that lawmakers are demanding answers to, as well as the head of the agency. He is in the hot seat.


HOLMES (voice-over): Yes, outgoing IRS chief Steven Miller testifying at the first congressional hearing on this scandal. An investigation revealed that Miller was aware a year ago that the IRS was stonewalling conservative groups applying for tax exempt status. Well, at today's hearing, Miller apologized for the actions at the IRS, but some lawmakers are a little frustrated by the responses.

REP. DEVIN NUNES (R), CALIF.: You really are not taking any acknowledgement that you knew anything, that you didn't do anything wrong. You've said that numerous times on the record today, that you did nothing wrong. So I find it hard to believe: why did you resign or why are you resigning?

STEVEN MILLER, FORMER ACTING IRS COMMISSIONER: I never said I didn't do anything wrong, Mr. Nunes. What I said is contained in the questions. I resigned because, as the acting commissioner, what happens in the IRS, whether I was personally involved or not, stopped at my desk. And so I should be held accountable for what happens.

Whether I was personally involved or not, a very different question, sir.


HOLMES: All right. Well, you might remember a children's book, I don't, but maybe that's because I'm a foreigner, but you do.

MALVEAUX: I do. I remember it.

HOLMES: That's right. This book called "Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day." Well, it does kind of describe the week the president has been having, doesn't it?

MALVEAUX: Yes, that is the kind of week that he's been having, because the IRS hearing on Capitol Hill marking the end of a week where the White House has been understand siege, dealing with one controversy after another.

Want to bring in our Candy Crowley with us from Washington.

And Candy, I mean, I think that book kind of summarized it pretty well, one really, really bad day and a bad week.

And it is frustrating to watch these hearings, because I don't get the sense that we're getting really much new information out of this from the outgoing commissioner, Steven Miller, who was in the hot seat here.

He has taken issue with even the fact of using the word targeting, saying it's pejorative to say that they were targeting these conservative groups.

Is this helping or hurting the president here when he comes back and essentially seems like he's fighting this?

CROWLEY: It's certainly -- I don't think it's helping. I'm not clear yet whether it's hurting the president.

But every day that there are unanswered questions is another day when questions will be asked. So the president would really like all the questions to be answered in order to move on. So in that way, it does hurt him.

The IRS definitely, since the beginning, has said, oh, this wasn't political. This was a sorting issue. This was how they sorted. But in political Washington, that is just a very tough sell. And it kind of stretches everybody's notion of what political is. So that's something that may not ever be answered.

But questions like who did this, whose big idea was this, how many people did it involve, what have you done with those people, those sorts of things still have yet to be answered. So this goes on.

There's another hearing next week; as frustrating as this one was, maybe the next will be more frustrating. But it's one of those things. You know, Suzanne, when a witness goes up to Capitol Hill, they can count on half of the committee being with them. Right? It's depending on where you are in the political spectrum. Somebody is going to throw you softballs.

It's not happening in this. So all of these witnesses go up there and are facing fairly hostile panels.

HOLMES: Yes, I can't wait, Candy, to see your program, "STATE OF THE UNION" on the weekend. I'm sure your rundown is full already. You've got the IRS scandal, you've got the Justice Department seizure of journalists' phone records, the whole leaking thing. You've got the attorney general in the hot seat. Reports of suspected terrorists in the federal witness program gone missing.

I mean, in totality, how much of this sticks on the president? Even though he's standing there and saying, in most of these cases, I didn't know either.

CROWLEY: It depends on what you mean by sticks. If this continues on -- somebody asked me this morning if I thought that this would hurt the president's legacy, and I said I don't know; historians are going to have to deal with that.

But in the here and now, what this might do is really put a crimp in the president's second term agenda as well as complicate what's going to be the very tough part of ObamaCare going into effect.

So in that way, in the agenda way, it definitely could affect him. Has it done it yet? No, but what happens in scandals or in political controversies, which is where I think most of these are, is that both sides kind of revert to form and they don't want to work with each other. So that then is a threat to the president's second term agenda.

MALVEAUX: Candy, what are you working on for this weekend? Because clearly we are both -- we want to know. We'll be --


CROWLEY: All of the above.


HOLMES: There's no time for anything else. CROWLEY: I've asked for another hour. So, yes. We're going to do all of that. We're going to first get the take from the White House. Dan Pfeiffer is going out for the White House this weekend. So we can maybe ask him if they found answers for the lingering questions.

Rand Paul, who, as you know, is always an interesting guest and always has interesting things to say, we'll talk to him. And of course we'll have our panel to kind of dissect all of this and tell us where we're going.

MALVEAUX: All right. Thanks, Candy. I guess Dan is probably not looking forward to this weekend.


HOLMES: We'll try to get Candy an extra hour or two. I think she's going to need it.

MALVEAUX: You're not going to want to miss "STATE OF THE UNION," Candy Crowley, this Sunday. That's at 9:00 am Eastern, a great program there.

Overseas today, we're talking about Syria and one of the country's few remaining friends, that of course Russia.

HOLMES: Yes, Russia is showing just how strong their friendship is by announcing today that a deal they had already made to ship high tech -- these are air defense missiles to Syria -- that deal is still on.


MALVEAUX (voice-over): So it's a deal that the Russians say was made years ago, long before Syria's deadly civil war began. And they are going to go through with this, civil war or not. Russia's foreign minister said today he doesn't understand why some people have a problem with the arms sales.

HOLMES: Yes, we're talking about Sergey Lavrov. He said the missiles don't give the Syrian government any advantage in the civil war and, as he put it, business is business. He thought the media was making much ado about nothing.

MALVEAUX: Yes, very controversial. We're also looking at Nigeria. The military is claiming success today in a massive campaign against Islamic insurgents. They are operating in the northeast part of that country. Now, Nigerian fighter jets, they targeted militant camps, including Boko Haram. That group has killed more than 2,800 people, according to Human Rights Watch.

HOLMES: The president, Goodluck Jonathan promising he was going to act, and he did. We're talking about three states in the northwest of the country. They -- Boko Haram, of course, they want to introduce sharia law, this strict Islamic law, in the north of the country, which is mainly Muslim. Officials say at least 20 insurgents were killed in today's air raid and the military action is ongoing. MALVEAUX: And here's more of what we're working on for AROUND THE WORLD, the National Weather Service now saying at least 16 tornadoes hit North Texas; that happened late Wednesday night. We're going to take you to one of the hardest hit towns for an update on the cleanup.

HOLMES: And a Boston victim gets some unexpected help from a gold medal-winning athlete. Mary Daniel (ph) lost part of her leg in the marathon bombings and now a fellow amputee is showing her what can be done.



HOLMES: Welcome back, everyone. Here are the stories making news AROUND THE WORLD right now. A series of deadly roadside bombings in Iraq today, this all too familiar.


HOLMES (voice-over): One of them was on a group of worshippers as they left a mosque in Baquba (ph), a Sunni mosque. At least 40 people killed. More than 50 wounded. And in a separate attack, eight people died in a bombing as they left a funeral, this happening just outside of Baghdad.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE (voice-over): An American soldier will spend the rest of his life in prison. John Russell was a sergeant in Iraq in 2009 when he admitted shooting to death five fellow troops. This was at a combat stress clinic. Russell pleaded guilty at a court martial in Washington State and told the military court that he, quote, "did it out of rage." It happened on Russell's third combat deployment to Iraq and his attorneys argued that Russell suffers from PTSD.

HOLMES: Rescuers in Texas still searching for one more person still missing after the series of tornadoes that turned neighborhoods in to rubble on Wednesday night.

MALVEAUX: There are six people lost their lives. Dozens others injured. Some very, very badly. And now many who have lost their homes, they're just trying to come to grips really with what's happened and a new place to just live in the meantime.

HOLMES: Total destruction there.

Alina Machado joins us from Granbury, Texas.

You look at that destruction and it's just head shaking. How are people coping?

ALINA MACHADO, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, people are, as you can expect, in shock. They're still in shock. But I want to give you some information that we just received. It's some good news. Authorities here are saying that they have now accounted for all of the missing. So those initial seven people who were missing have all been found and have all been accounted for. Now, I want to give you a taste for the kind of damage and destruction that we've been seeing here in this town. I'm standing literally on top of a mobile home, of what's left of a mobile home. And as you can see, it's mainly piles of debris and pieces of wood like this, where you can see just these long nails in them.

Aside from that refrigerator and that wall, there is really not much left, there's not much that's recognizable. Now, this is about a mile from the hardest hit area. That hardest hit area is a subdivision called Rancho Brazos. That's where authorities here are saying most of the 110 homes in that subdivision were either damaged or destroyed.

Now CNN spoke with two survivors, two people who were inside their homes, when this tornado hit and here's what they had to say about the experience.


PATTI LOPEZ, TORNADO SURVIVOR: I had my eyes closed. We were all praying. It was just -- it was awful.

It was the scariest feeling. I was worried about my kids. It was just an awful thing to experience.

ATYKA DITTO, TORNADO SURVIVOR: It felt like it lasted forever, but it probably lasted about four to five minutes maybe.

We just saw the funnel cloud and we just ran in and then we threw everyone in the bathtub, children first, and then we put the pillows and blanket on top of it.

We tried to get a matter, but we couldn't get a mattress. We didn't have enough time.

And then it hit immediately. The roof came in. It flew off.


MACHADO: Now, those people obviously survived, but six others did die in this storm. Most of the victims who died were in that subdivision inside that Rancho Brazos subdivision. They range in ages from 34- to 83-years-old.

But again, some good news out of Texas today, most -- all of the people, all of those seven people who were initially missing have been accounted for.

Suzanne? Michael?

MALVEAUX: All right, that is good news. Thank you so much. Appreciate it.

And, of course, a lot of the people displaced from their homes. I mean, you know, staying with relatives and other places, but there's a little bright spot.

HOLMES: And you see where Alina was.

They always say in these sorts of weather events that those mobile homes are most at risk because they're flimsy compared -- but you saw the damage at other places.

Well-built homes were just totally destroyed. It shows the severity of it. And, you know, just look at that, just complete empty pad, the whole structure gone. It just is incredible to see.

MALVEAUX: And now the tough part of people rebuilding their lives.

More than a thousand people died in a Bangladesh building collapse that happened last month.

And coming up, CNN is going to go inside another garment factory in Bangladesh to talk to the workers about whether or not they feel safe.

HOLMES: Yeah, this is Leone Lakhani, great report. She's going to talk to the bosses, too, about how safe they really are.


MALVEAUX: Garment factories reopened today in Bangladesh. They were shut down for three days as workers were protesting over low pay and poor conditions.

HOLMES: Yeah, of course, those demonstrations began after the factory building collapse last month. More than a thousand people, over 1,100, in fact, died in that collapse.

The government responding by passing laws that does make it easier for workers to form unions.

MALVEAUX: Officials also considering salary raises for those workers, and workers now get overtime for working weekends, as well.

Well, the garment industry in Bangladesh employs millions of folks. We know this. They put in long hours, low pay. We're talking about $38 a month.

HOLMES: It is. It's 80 percent of Bangladesh's imports is the garment industry.

Add to that that catastrophic collapse of the building last month where there were several factories and, of course, there is real reason for ongoing concern.

Leone Lakhani has been covering this for us and now takes us inside one of the factories there.


LEONE LAKHANI, CNN CORRESPONDENT: At this (inaudible) factory, workers stitch, weave, mend and sew clothes bound for Europe, six days a week from 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. Pushniara's (ph) been here for more than 11 years and seldom worries about her safety, but in the wake of the Rana Plaza disaster which left more than a thousand people dead, Pushni (ph) says she now questions how safe she is.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE (via translator): So many people died and no one knows what could happen at any time.

LAKHANI: Many of her co-workers worry, too.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE (via translator): Of course, it's natural to be scared when you see what happened at Rana Plaza.

LAKHANI: Fearful but forced to earn a living.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE (via translator): We are poor people. How will we pay our rent?

LAKHANI: At least, they say, conditions in this factory are good, especially when they compare notes with others.

They get paid late, or they have to work really long hours, or they have to travel really far just to get to work.

Most of these women say they live close by. There are some 2,000 workers here across four floors.

This building was designed specifically for the needs of the garment trade, the sheer number of people, the heavy machinery.

The problem lies when factories operate out of rented facilities that are just not equipped for industrial use.

Such was the case at Rana Plaza, a nine-story building that apparently couldn't take the load of the five garment factories within its walls.

Now factory owners like Safina Rahman say that tragedy tainted the image of others like her.

SAFINA RAHMAN, DIRECTOR, LAKHSMA SWEATERS: It has become a big, big challenge for us.

More than 2 million people are working in this trade, perhaps, maybe more. And if one has four people to look after in the family, it's almost 8 million people living on this trade.

(Inaudible), who is contributing to the economy?

LAKHANI: Rahman says the industry does have rules and operating codes, and in her factory, she says they are enforced.

Workers are assigned as fire wardens and trained in first aid.

he garment trade association, the BGMEA, says exporters can't even get licenses to operate unless they meet safety standards.

But until now, there were no provisions for structural safety in buildings.

REZA BIN MAHMOOD, VICE PRESIDENT, BGMEA: Before this Rana Plaza incident, BGMEA did not have the technical know how people to check the structural design.

LAKHANI: The Rana Plaza disaster forced the government to step up comprehensive inspections and the trade association to add structural standards.

Mahmoud says inspections of factories have now begun, but with more than 5,000 member factories, the task is daunting.

MAHMOOD: It's not an easy job, or it's not -- we cannot finish by overnight. So it will take a little bit of time.

LAKHANI: It comes as garment owners come under pressure from international clients to keep their costs down.

MAHMOOD: The challenge is we humbly request the buyers to increase the price because, to maintain compliance and all these issues, you need -- you know, you have to improve or upgrade the factories. For that, you need money.

LAKHANI: Money that will have to be spent to avoid another tragedy, and reassure Hurshni (ph) and the millions of workers like her in the country's garment trade.

Leone Lakhani, CNN, Taka, Bangladesh.


MALVEAUX: And you and I were talking about that. It's so important to all of us to have a responsibility for that.

That's why, you know, you go to the store and it costs $5 for a shirt, right, because people are making five cents an hour.

HOLMES: Yeah, exactly. Yeah, and we're all part of it.

All right, still to come, an inspiring story from Boston. Mary Daniel lost part of her leg in the marathon bombings.

MALVEAUX: Well, now a gold medal-winning Olympic athlete is helping her recover.

We're going to introduce you to two extraordinary women, right after this.


HOLMES: Welcome back, everyone.

A man arrested on terrorism charges in Boise, Idaho, made his first court appearance just a short time ago.

MALVEAUX: The 30-year-old is from Uzbekistan. He's accused of supporting the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan. It's a group designated by the U.S. as a terrorist organization. He's also charged with possession of an unregistered explosive device.

HOLMES: And in a separate case in Utah, he's accused of teaching people how to make explosives and weapons of mass destruction.

MALVEAUX: Two women in Minneapolis have been given long prison sentences for raising money in the name of the poor and then funneling to Somali militants with ties to al Qaeda.

HOLMES: Authorities say the women actually went door to door in Somali neighborhoods in the U.S., also in Canada, by the say, seeking contributions. They are both naturalized U.S. citizens from Somalia.

MALVEAUX: They were among a group that was sentenced this week in the federal government's investigation focusing on al Shabaab, which is believed to recruit young men in the Minneapolis area.

HOLMES: Worrying developments.

Now in Boston, it has been one month since the terror attack there, changing the lives of so many people in an instant, and the healing has begun, though, for many of the victims, some of them amputees.

MALVEAUX: And there is one woman who knows firsthand what it is like to adjust to life as an amputee.

Her name is Bonnie St. John and she is reaching out to help one woman on her journey.


MERY DANIEL, BOSTON MARATHON BOMBING SURVIVOR: I was near the finish line, and I was one of the people watching, and I was one of the victims.

BONNIE ST. JOHN, AUTHOR, "HOW GREAT WOMEN LEAD": The easiest way to do is to turn. Yes.

DANIEL: This is new to me, and I have to learn how to do everything from the basics.

There's Miss Bonnie.

I met Bonnie when she came to my (inaudible) to ...