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CNN NEWSROOM

Feminists Protest Barbie Dream House; Dozens Homeless After Texas Tornadoes; Cause Of Texas Blast Still A mystery; Mother's Day Parade Shooting Arrest; Boston Marathon Indictment Deadline Looms; Back To Boston Moments Of Impact; Powerball Jackpot Passes $600 Million

Aired May 17, 2013 - 13:00   ET

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


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Everything was destroyed.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It was bad.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And the people were injured. We saw the injured people and they asked if we could help them to the hospital, so we started loading people up. But the whole neighborhood was gone.

WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: The lives of many people in north Texas have been shattered and now they face the task of moving on after an incredible disaster.

And sparks fly on Capitol Hill over the IRS scandal. Lawmakers accused the agency of abusing its power. Its outgoing acting commissioner offers an apology but there are still many unanswered questions.

Plus, what would you do with half a billion dollars? I've got a couple of ideas. We're talking about the Power Ball Lotto frenzy sweeping the United States right now.

This is CNN NEWSROOM. I'm Wolf Blitzer in Washington. And we want to welcome our viewers.

Could be another couple of days before Texas storm victims are allowed back into what's left of their homes to assess the damage after tornadoes flattened an entire neighborhood. Six people were killed in the storms, dozens of homes destroyed. Now the good news. Everyone reported missing after the storms has been accounted for.

Alina Machado is joining us now live from Grandbury in Texas which suffered the most damage. Alina, do we know where those who lost their homes are staying? What they're doing? How are they managing?

ALINA MACHADO, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Wolf, they are holding up as best as can be expected. We know some of those people have been staying with family and friends. We also know there are two Red Cross shelters that are open in this area. One of those shelters is here in Granbury, Texas, and 31 people used that shelter overnight.

Now, I want to give you a sense -- a taste of the kind of damage and destruction we've been seeing here all day. I am standing on top of what's left of a mobile home here. As you can see, it's really mainly just a mile of debris. We've seen a lot of wood with pieces of nail like this one. And aside from that refrigerator and that partial wall, it's really not recognizable. You can' tell that this was a home. Now, this place is about a mile from the Rancho Brazos Subdivision, that was the hardest hit area, authorities tell us, that most of the 110 homes were either damaged or destroyed in this storm.

Now, CNN has spoken with two survivors, two people who rode out the storm in their homes and this is what they had to say about the experience.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

PATTI LOPEZ: 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: Felt like it lasted forever but probably lasted about four to five minute 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 then the blanket on top of it. We tried to get a mattress, but we couldn't get a mattress. It -- we didn't have enough time and then it hit immediately. The roof came in and flew off.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MACHADO: Those people obviously very thankful they survived. Six others died in this tornado. They were all at the Rancho Brazos subdivision and they were between 34 and 83 years old. Now, initially, here were reports that seven people were missing. Authorities said that they were searching for them. But today, just a few hours ago, we got some good news that all of those seven people have been accounted for and that they have been found alive. And, obviously, that is very good news for this community who is dealing with so much tragedy and so much destruction -- Wolf.

BLITZER: What a tragedy indeed. What a horrible story. Alina, thanks for that report.

Chad Myers is joining us now from the CNN Weather Center. Chad, I understand more severe storms expected this weekend. What do we know?

CHAD MYERS, AMS METEOROLOGIST: You know, Wolf, we've been in a tornado drought. We should have 500 tornadoes on the ground by this time of the year. We've had about 250. So, we're going to start to get active now and it's going to be Texas, Oklahoma, Nebraska and even sliding down towards even St. Louis and Oklahoma City by the end of the weekend. There are cold air showers out to the west over the mountains, even some snow. A lot of warm air in the east. When warm and cold clash, you get storms. Today, across parts of the upper high plains, Nebraska, parts of Colorado, but by Saturday and really into Sunday, here's where we start to get a lot of population here, from Madison, Wisconsin, almost Chicago down towards Saint Lewis into Omaha, Kansas City and Oklahoma City. That's the area I'm most concerned about. But even as we move into Monday, it could be St. Louis, Joplin, Branson, Fort Smith. And it could be another couple of days where we see tornadoes just one after another after another. We will keep you advised here right here at CNN.

BLITZER: And, Chad, I know there were at least 16 tornadoes that hit north Texas on Wednesday night. Is that a lot by any standards? How strong was the tornado, for example, that decimated that Granbury, Texas neighborhood?

MYERS: You know, sixteen's not a lot for an outbreak but Wednesday was not an outbreak kind of day. Shouldn't have had two tornadoes. But we had basically five we call them parent super cell thunderstorms, dropping tornadoes, sometimes they were skipping up and down, up and down. And the damage you see right there is EF-4, fujita scale EF, enhanced fugida scale 4, 165 to almost 200 miles per hour. And I saw a few pictures, Wolf, where there was nothing left of the home except the slab of the home itself. All of the sticks, everything else, gone. That indicates at least 200 miles per hour and it came so fast. It came with warning but it still comes very fast.

BLITZER: Very fast indeed. Let's see what happens over the weekend. Let's hope not much. Chad, thanks very much.

Meanwhile, a murder mystery in Nebraska right now. Police are looking into whether the recent death of a professor and his wife are related to the deaths of another professor's family members five years ago.

Kyung Lah is joining us now live from Los Angeles. She's got details. Zain, let's begin with these latest murders. What have you learned about the case?

KYUNG LAH, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Omaha police do tell us that they are looking into the double murder of recent retirees from Creighton University. They are Dr. Roger Brumback and his wife, Mary. They were both 65, Wolf. They were just planning on retiring and moving. Dr. Brumback just announcing his retirement from the Creighton University's pathology department.

You're looking at pictures of the crime scene, his home. He and his wife were planning on moving to West Virginia. Well, they were moving. The piano mover went to check to move the piano on Tuesday. And that's when he found the body of Dr. Brumback in the hallway. His wife, Mary's, body was also found inside. Omaha police are confirming to CNN that they did have a gun clip at the scene wedged in the doorway but will not confirm whether or not that gun clip had anything to do with the murders. A very unusual case. At this point, investigators are treating it as a double homicide -- Wolf.

BLITZER: This, Kyung, as you know, is the second double murder connected to the university's pathology department at Creighton University in Nebraska. What you can tell us about that case?

LAH: And this is where it really gets a little unusual. A very strange coincidence connected to Creighton University's pathology department. Take a look at these two pictures, 11-year-old Thomas Hunter and his house keeper, Shirley Sherman. They were fatally stabbed five years ago. This double homicide remains unsolved. Hunter, this little boy, his father, Dr. William Hunter, also worked at Creighton University's pathology department. An unusual coincidence especially in a rather quiet town like Omaha.

What the police will tell CNN is that they are looking into whether or not this case may have any connections to this latest murder. An unsolved mystery that has really taken a lot of people in Omaha by surprise five years ago continues to be a mystery, Wolf. They are hoping that more calls will be generated, that people will, perhaps, make some connections and that they will get more tips and be able to solve both of them.

BLITZER: Let's hope they do. All right, Kyung. Thanks very much.

Here's what else we're working on for this hour here in the CNN NEWSROOM. More than half a billion dollars, it's hard to imagine what you could do with that kind of cash. But people across the country are dreaming of winning the Lotto. I'll be going out to buy my own ticket later today as the Powerball jackpot continues to rise.

Plus, he was once a billionaire, but now Bernie Madoff doesn't have enough money to make a phone call from prison. Ahead, CNN spoke to him exclusively. We're going to tell you what his day job is in prison right now and why he says he can't sleep.

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BLITZER: Investigators still don't know what caused last month's horrific fire and explosion at a fertilizer plant in Texas. Fourteen people were killed, most of them volunteer firefighters who rushed to the scene. The state fire marshal says the fire may have been intentionally set caused by an electrical short or even a spark from a golf cart. Authorities began a criminal investigation into the blast last Friday. It was the same day a paramedic who responded to the explosion was arrested after police found pipe bomb making materials at his home.

Police in New Orleans have arrested a second suspect at a shooting at parade on Mother's Day. Authorities have not released the suspect's name, but they believe he and the first suspect, the 19-year-old, were involved in gang activity. The first suspect was charged with 20 counts of attempted second-degree murder during his court appearance yesterday. He's being held on $10 million bail. Three of those wounded are still in critical condition.

A deadline Monday in the case against the Boston bombing suspect Dzhokhar Tsarnaev. It'll be 30 days since his indictment and it's the last day his attorneys have to appeal it. The 19-year-old is charged with one count of using a weapon of mass destruction, another count of malicious use of an explosive. He remains at a prison medical center outside Boston.

Don't miss Anderson Cooper's special report "BACK TO BOSTON" later tonight. You're going to hear incredible stories from some of the photographers who captured the iconic moments from last month's bombings. Tonight, 10:00 p.m. Eastern, "BACK TO BOSTON, MOMENTS OF IMPACT, " an Anderson Cooper special report.

I've been busy making big, big plans for my big lottery winnings ever since I picked up my Powerball tickets in just the past few minutes. The jackpot for tomorrow's drawing, get this, has passed $600 million. It's getting very close to the largest lottery jackpot in American history. People feeling lucky in 43 states, Washington, D.C. and the Virgin Islands. They are scooping up tickets even as we speak. Let's go to Passaic, New Jersey right now.

CNN's Zain Asher is joining us. She's been talking to some wannabe multi-millionaires. Hundreds of millions of dollars ready to go to someone, Zain. Odds are very long. Someone's got to win eventually, right?

ZAIN ASHER, CNN CORRESPONDENT: And you never know, it could actually be you. You know what they say? You do have to be in to win it. And what tends to happen when the jackpots get this -- get this big is that people who don't usually play, decide, you know, that they're feeling quite lucky, and people who do usually play start to buy multiple tickets. But one thing I do want to emphasize is that if you are going out and buying like 10, 20, 30 tickets, it is, of course, very important that you don't spend more money than, of course, you can afford to lose.

Now as you mentioned, it is $600 million. If you opt for the lump sum, you're still going to walk away with roughly around $376 million. And just to put that in context for you, that is basically enough money to give a dollar to every single person in this country.

And at the end of it you can you would still have roughly around $60 million left over.

But let's talk about chances, Wolf, and this does apply to you. The chances of winning are one in 176 million. Those are your chances of winning tomorrow's jackpot, one in 176 million. I mean, with odds like that, you are basically talking about fate, although that is not stopping anyone.

I actually asked one woman, I said, hey, you know, if you woke up tomorrow and you had half a billion dollars in your account, how would you spend it? Here's what she said.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

GINA BALDUZZI, POWERBALL HOPEFUL: I would pay off my mortgage, I'd pay off my parents' house, their mortgage down the short. I would buy a shore house myself right on the beach. And definitely donate to the Cancer Society. My mother is a cancer survivor two times already. So I would donate to that charity and probably another charity and set up a college fund for my children.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ASHER: She's definitely obviously put a lot of thought into that. But a lot of people are saying the same thing, that they would give money to charity, they would take care of their loved ones, they would look out for people who have looked out for them.

Not a lot of people have been telling me that they would buy mansions or Lamborghinis or Maseratis or anything like that. People are really saying that they would give back, which I thought was quite sweet, Wolf.

WOLF BLITZER, CNN HOST: Is it me, Zain, or are we seeing more huge lottery jackpots in recent years?

ASHER: Wolf, it is not you at all. We are seeing bigger jackpots. We had the last one back in November. It was $587 million. Now this one, $600 million, up for grabs.

What happened was that basically about a year and a half ago, they changed the rules. They increased the price per ticket. So it went from $1 per ticket to $2 per ticket, and obviously if you're paying more money, if you're putting more money in to the system, then of course you are going to get bigger jackpots, Wolf.

BLITZER: The other day when the jackpot was about $300 million, I spent $6 and I bought three tickets, $2 each.

Here is the good news. Are you ready?

ASHER: Yes.

BLITZER: Zain, are you ready for the good news?

ASHER: Tell me the good news.

BLITZER: I won $4. I spent $6, but I won $4. I haven't cashed it in that jackpot yet, but I'm waiting. I'll cash it in at some point. Not bad. You invest $6, you win back $4.

ASHER: Four dollars, yes, if you get -- if you win -- right. So if you picked the Powerball, if you just get one Powerball ticket, right, one Powerball number right, you do actually get $4. It's not quite $600 million, but at least still something.

(CROSSTALK)

BLITZER: I assumed I was going to lose all $6 but I got $4 back. That's not bad.

All right.

ASHER: Yes, at least you won something, right?

BLITZER: Good luck. I know you're going to go buy a ticket or two yourself. Thank you.

And if you're a lottery hopeful like me, here's some advice: check your tickets carefully. You could win $4.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BLITZER (voice-over): This guy, by the way, almost lost out on a pretty sweet jackpot.

Richard Cerezo (ph) was cleaning out old lottery tickets from a cookie jar and he found a winner, a real winner, almost $5 million. The ticket he bought months ago. And of course he came forward, collected his check and the timing could not have been better. His family's home was facing foreclosure.

Congratulations, Richard.

The stakes at this hearing are very, very high. The IRS disclosure that it targeted conservative groups has the White House in some hot water right now. Lawmakers want answers. We'll have a live report from Capitol Hill. That's coming up.

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(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BLITZER: The outgoing head of the IRS gets grilled by lawmakers on Capitol Hill. A House committee just wrapped up a hearing. Lawmakers are investigating the IRS for targeting conservative groups that apply for tax exempt status. The acting commissioner, Steven Miller, told lawmakers it was not political; it was in his word, "procedural."

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

STEVEN MILLER, FORMER ACTING IRS COMMISSIONER: I do not believe that partisanship motivated the people who engaged in the practices described in the Treasury inspector general's report. I've reviewed Treasury inspector general's report and I believe its conclusions are consistent with that.

I think that what happened here was that foolish mistakes were made by people trying to be more efficient in their workload selection.

REP. PETER BOSKAM (R), ILL.: You're arguing today that the IRS is not corrupt, but the subtext of that is you're saying, look, we're just incompetent.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BLITZER: Dana Bash is following the hearing up on Capitol Hill.

Dana, lawmakers, they kept pushing for specifics, for names of people involved. They're not necessarily getting all the information they want.

What did we learn today during the several hours of testimony?

DANA BASH, SR. U.S. CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, a couple things. We learned at least from the perspective of Steven Miller and the inspector general, they confirmed that they did not -- they didn't report this up the ranks to Obama administration officials in the Treasury Department, that's their -- the IRS bosses effectively or anyone at the White House. And also we heard from Steven Miller that the reason that they went ahead and did this scrutiny, excess scrutiny, was because they were getting bombarded with requests for tax exempt status and this was a shortcut and, as you heard him say, it was not political.

The other thing, though, that we did learn, which really made members of Congress, who were already angry about him misleading Congress, was that a week ago today, Wolf, you remember, is when we found out about this. And the reason we found out is because Lois Lerner (ph), an IRS official, revealed it at an American Bar Association convention here in Washington.

What he admitted is that she did it because a question was planted so that she could actually reveal this information, because she knew that this inspector general report was coming out.

So that's something that we learned and then, of course, that raised questions of members of Congress, wait a minute, we've been investigating this; we were the ones pressing for answers for years. Why didn't you tell us at the same time?

And his answer was, well, I called to get it on the calendar, to which one of the congressmen you saw there, Peter Boskam, said really, that's all you got?

So that is something that, I think at the end of these four hours, there is no question that Republicans feel that they have many more questions that they need to answer. And they are going to have to do it with lower level IRS officials, who are more involved at the front lines.

BLITZER: And there is clearly a lot of anger at that hearing. Republican Congressman Mike Kelly, Dana, he's from Pennsylvania, he had a very fiery response. Listen to this.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

REP. MIKE KELLY, R-PENNSYLVANIA: The fact that you all can do just about anything you want to anybody, you know, you can put anybody out of business that you want anytime you want.

And I got to tell you, you talked about you're a horribly run organization? You're on the other side of the fence. You're not given that excuse.

And when the IRS comes in, you're not allowed to be shoddy; you're not allowed to be run horribly, you're not allowed to make mistakes. You're not allowed to do one damn thing that doesn't come into compliance. If you do, you're held responsible right then.

I just think the American people have seen what's going on right now in their government. This is absolutely an overreach and this is an outrage for all America.

I yield back.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: All right.

(APPLAUSE)

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BLITZER: Not often, Dana, you get applause at a congressional hearing like that, but he got some serious applause.

BASH: He did. Unclear exactly who was applauding, who was in the room, but I think that the reason is because he summed up the reason why this is such a big story, and such a big deal that resonates and it's why the Obama administration understands that; it's why the president tried to do damage control by personally going out and saying that Steven Miller was going to be fired.

Because everybody gets the IRS. And the fact that it was very clear today that there was a lot of bureaucratic mistakes and missteps that they can do that, that that's OK for them, but not OK for every single American and company and group out there that needs the IRS to approve what they're doing.

So that was really an example of him expressing that kind of frustration.

BLITZER: Certainly a lot of people frustrated and very, very angry.

All right, Dana. Thanks very much.

"Shameful" and "disgraceful," the president calling the U.S. military sex scandals a danger to national security. And now he's ordering Pentagon officials to crack down.

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