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Anti-Muslim Backlash Feared in U.K.; Memorial Day Brings Extreme Weather; Thousands Protest Same-Sex Marriage; Venezuela Prison Like a Luxurious Resort; "Fresh Prince" Reunion

Aired May 27, 2013 - 12:00   ET



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

MALVEAUX: Anger growing in Britain after a soldier stabbed to death with knives and a meat cleaver. We're live in London with the very latest.

HOLMES: Plus, flooding and snow across the U.S. Today is the unofficial start of summer. So, what's going on?

MALVEAUX: And thousands of protesters show up in France to oppose same-sex marriage.

HOLMES: And this just coming in from overseas. We are hearing that more car bombs have gone off in Iraq.

MALVEAUX: Police say at least 31 people died, more than a hundred injured and wounded. A string of car bombs exploding. This is the city capital, Baghdad. We're following developments. We're going to pursue the update as we get more details.

HOLMES: Yes, just the latest in a long string of attacks there in Iraq. We're trying to get more details for you.

Meanwhile, a heartbreaking moment in London. The family of that British soldier visiting the spot where he was killed.

MALVEAUX: Lee Rigby stabbed and hacked to death on a London street. This is near the military barracks. It happened last week. Family members added their own tribute to the thousands of flowers and other memorials left by people who have now visited that site.

HOLMES: And one of the men arrested in this case was captured on video, you'll remember this, holding a bloody meat cleaver and a knife, saying that the killing was carried out because, quote, "Muslims are dying every day." Well, now there are fears of a backlash in the U.K.

MALVEAUX: Anti-Muslim demonstrations, they are taking place today and two men under arrest on suspicion of fire-bombing a mosque. Want to bring in Matthew Chance in London with the very latest. First of all, tell us who's organizing these protests? How big a problem is this?

MATTHEW CHANCE, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, the protests today in central London, one of them at least, is being organized by the English defense league, which is a far-right extremist group which says it's fighting against what it believes to be a spread of Islamic fundamentalism in Britain. Obviously it's been extremely spurred on by the tragic killing of drummer Lee Rigby in southeast London on Wednesday. It's trying to capitalize on widespread sort of public sympathy and anger because of that.

At the same time, you know, it drew perhaps as many as, you know, several hundred people out on to the streets. So still not a very broadly supported grouping by any means at all. There was a counterdemonstration as well organized by an umbrella group of groups against fascism and protesting about the fact that the EDL, as they're known, were on the streets at all.

But the protest does come at a time when there appears to be a growing number of attacks against Muslims in Britain. According to one charity here called Faith Matters, it says it's recorded a tenfold increase in the amount of attacks against Muslims since the killing of that soldier in southeast London on Wednesday. Talking about a range of violence including verbal abuse, spray painting of Islamic institutions here, but also the fire-bombing of mosques as well. The latest attack taking place on Sunday at a mosque in Grimsby in northeast England where police arrested two people on suspicion of arson after petrol bombs were thrown at a mosque in that town. So, a lot of anxiety and a lot of tension in locations across Britain.

HOLMES: And, Matthew, heard of another arrest today. So where are we at in terms of the arrests? How many are there and what is the conspiracy that police are thinking took place?

CHANCE: Well, that's precisely what they're trying to get to the bottom of, you know, what were the circumstances around this? Were there any other people involved in a broader conspiracy? And according to the metropolitan police, the police here in London, a 50-year-old man has become the latest suspect to be arrested. It brings to 10 the number of people that have been arrested in total, including the two murder suspects, since the killing on Wednesday. A number of them have been released without charge. Some others have been released on police bail and have to return to a police station at a later date.

I mean the key thing is that the murder suspects themselves have not yet been formally questioned. They're still recovering from their gunshot wounds at two separate hospitals in London under police guard. Under British law, not until they're brought into a police station and they've recovered from those injuries sufficiently can they be formally questioned. I think then we'll get a better picture of the extent of this conspiracy, if there was a conspiracy, or whether they just acted alone. And so many people in the country waiting for that development.

HOLMES: All right, Matthew, appreciate that. Matthew Chance out there in front of number 10 Downing Street. And, interesting, the occupant of number 10, David Cameron, is going to be setting up and heading a task force to look into extremist groups, this whole issue across the country.

MALVEAUX: Yes, a lot of fear there.


MALVEAUX: And, of course, what we're following today, Memorial Day marking the unofficial start here of the summer, but you wouldn't know it if you were looking at all the weather in some of the areas.

HOLMES: Unbelievable, isn't it?

MALVEAUX: Looking like the middle of winter in parts. This is the Northeast.


MALVEAUX: Almost three feet of snow falling in New York. A ski mountain in the Adirondacks.

HOLMES: Yes, apparently they opened some ski fields up there. Down here it's sweltering outside. Texas, the extreme weather actually turned tragic. Flooding there blamed for at least three deaths. This is in the San Antonio area. Drenching rain and floods also soaking parts of the Central Plains. Extraordinary.

MALVEAUX: So our own Chad Myers tracking all of this.

Chad, why is this happening? I mean this is the start of summer here - the official start of summer. We're seeing snow and we're seeing a lot of - a lot of water, a lot of flooding.

CHAD MYERS, AMS METEOROLOGIST: Right. Well, you know, because the winter doesn't want to give up it's cold air. Spring says, wait, get the heck out of here. It's time for you to leave. Go back up north. And all of a sudden we have clash of hot and cold and all this humidity in the air.

Take out -- look at that number. In 24 hours, 10 inches of rain in San Antonio. The second wettest day of all-time there.

Is the rain over? No. Is it over for San Antonio? Yes. There's still flooding across parts of Iowa. Also still parts -- flooding here not that far from Kansas City. I'm seeing this training effect around Kansas City from Topeka right across I-70. One storm on top of where another storm just was. So there's potential for that today.

And then all of a sudden in the next couple of days, we could still see - and this is 24 hours to 48 hours ago from now to then, Chicago, Des Moines, all the way down to St. Louis almost, that red zone is four inches of rain or more. And any time you see that, you could easily get flooding when ground now is saturated. Two weeks ago we're talking huge drought. Now we're talking saturated.

HOLMES: Extreme weather, that's for sure.

Tell us about the snow. I mean it certainly feels extraordinary for this to be happening in the Adirondacks, but is it? I mean it seems ridiculous.

MYERS: You know, probably the coldest Fourth of July I've ever spent was on the top of White Face Mountain. We were down at the bottom going up the lift, because you can go up the lift in the summer. It was probably 70 at the bottom. It was probably 30 up at the top. But they saw so much snow. Get rid of all this here, I'll get to another little graphic here. White Face Mountain had 24 to 34 inches of snow, 18 inches at Jay Peak, Vermont. And it was the latest snowfall ever in Syracuse and Binghamton. Yes, sure, it's upstate, but this shouldn't be happening when you're looking at June on the calendar next week.


MYERS: Here it is.

HOLMES: It's amazing. Yes, thanks, Chad.

MYERS: You're welcome.

HOLMES: Apparently they've opened up a couple of the ski lifts up there for the weekend.

MYERS: Yes, true.

MALVEAUX: We're ready for barbecues down here. I'm sorry, it is summertime.

HOLMES: We are. Here it is.

MALVEAUX: We're ready to change that.

Today marking one week since the devastating tornado that shattered the homes and the lives. These out of Moore, Oklahoma. You may recall folks there still starting to pick up the pieces and try to move forward at least, but last night they paused to remember the 24 people who were killed by that monster tornado.

HOLMES: Ahead of the memorial service, President Obama visited Moore and saw the destruction up close for himself. He promised support for the residents, telling them we've got your back.


BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Like whenever I come to an area that's been devastated by some natural disaster like this, I want to make sure everybody understands I'm speaking on behalf of the entire country. Everywhere fellow Americans are praying with you, they're thinking about you and they want to help. And so I'm just a messenger here today letting everybody here know that you are not alone, that you've got folks behind you.

(END VIDEO CLIP) MALVEAUX: Oklahoma's governor says her top request is for help cutting through all the red tape just to get federal money to that area pretty quickly. She says the response so far has been great, but there is still a long, long way to go.

HOLMES: A lot of mess to clear up.

Here's more, meanwhile, of what we're working on this hour for AROUND THE WORLD.

Same-sex couples in France can legally marry this week, but thousands of protesters want to reverse that law.

HOLMES: And lounging by the pool, music, dancing. Sounds like a party, right? Well, it's happening at this prison. Where? In Venezuela. Yes, a prison with its own nightclub. We're going to check that out for you.

MALVEAUX: Plus, China's bling dynasty. The country's rich have money, lots of it, and they're spending it on everything from luxury cars to precious jewels. A lot of bling.


HOLMES: Welcome back, everyone, to AROUND THE WORLD

The U.N. human rights commissioner says the world cannot continue to ignore pleas from Syrians caught up in that bloody civil war. She was speaking in Geneva. She said that she feels utter dismay over the situation.

MALVEAUX: And Secretary of State John Kerry is meeting with Russia's foreign minister today as they are pushing for a peace conference to happen next month on this crisis in Syria. Both the Syrian government and the opposition have indicated that they actually might be willing to attend.

HOLMES: Whether it happens or not, we shall see. There are some doubts.

Meanwhile, Americans are growing more concerned about Syria. A new CNN/ORC poll says 36 percent of people are very concerned about Syria. That's up from 29 percent in August. Forty-three percent say they are somewhat concerned.

MALVEAUX: Most Americans say it is certain or likely that the Syrian government has used chemical weapons. And two-thirds say it would justify military action by the United States.

HOLMES: There's been concern for a while about Lebanon being dragged into all of this. And it has at certain levels. And today we saw some more disturbing developments. Four rockets striking Hezbollah strongholds in Lebanon yesterday. Two of them hitting in a Beirut neighborhood. Hezbollah with a big presence there. Those attacks following a speech by Hezbollah's leader openly declaring the group is fighting in support of Syria's president. MALVEAUX: Of course, this is further complicating the situation as a report by Lebanese media that a missile was fired from southern Lebanon into Israel.

Well, this started as a day of peaceful protests, this is out of Paris, but it ended with violent fights between a small group of demonstrators and police. Watch.

HOLMES: This is the scene on Sunday in Paris. You've got tens of thousands of people turning out to protest that new law that was introduced allowing same-sex marriage.

MALVEAUX: Christian Malard, he is a senior foreign analyst with France 3 TV. He's joining us.

And, Christian, explain to us here why you have the majority of the polls showing that the French people do support same-sex marriage. So who are the people in the streets? Why the backlash?

CHRISTIAN MALARD, SR. FOREIGN ANALYST, FRANCE 3 TV: Let's put it this way, the people -- the essentially of the people you saw in the street demonstrating in Paris yesterday belong to highly catholic families sticking to Christian values for whom wedding, marriage is one man, one woman. And it's difficult for them to understand that homosexuals, woman, man, can get married together.

So this is -- they decided to get into the street. They're going to go on, even if the law has been passed to exert pressure, find an opportunity to exert pressure from the government in the future months, but at the same time, they know they won't charge -- they won't change the course of events, no way.

The law has been passed. We still hold on, stick to the law, so does the government.

MALVEAUX: Christian, if you would, put this in context for us.

Is this a very small group of people? It looks like a large group that was at least out there protesting.

MALARD: I would say yesterday when you add the number of the police and the one by the organizers, globally, you had 650,000 to 700,000 people demonstrating not too far away from Champs-Elysees on the (inaudible) area, and definitely these people, the majority, as I said, highly Catholic people.

But at the same time, we could find out that at the end of the demonstrations, the people who have been ransacking some areas are definitely belonging to extreme right groups.

And also from the rioters from the suburbs as we had in the past, people, Muslim people of the third generation were born in France and would take advantage of this economic crisis to demonstrate their way, which is very brutal way.

HOLMES: There is, Christian, a little bit of dissent in France about economics and other things. There is an underlying sort of anger there anyway. But when it comes to this law, and you make the point, it is passed. It survived a constitutional challenge. This isn't going to achieve anything, is it?

MALARD: Well, they're not going to change anything. As I said, the law has been passed. Constitutionally, the marriage -- the gay marriage, has been adopted. Now, you can see a kind of right-wing opposition movement of Sarkozy people who have been (inaudible) to Sarkozy in the past will try to recuperate this movement politically, knowing that in few months from now we will have regional elections

And they keep telling the people we have to sanction the government. We have to sanction President Hollande. Will they succeed on this? I am not so sure. People today speak about the rate of unemployment. And I think by that time gay marriage will be over.

HOLMES: All right, Christian, appreciate that. Christian Malard there of France Channel 3. Appreciate it. Good to see you.

MALARD: Thanks, Michael. Thanks Suzanne.

MALVEAUX: Thank you.

This is a bizarre story. You expect to see handcuffs, uniforms in a prison, but a nightclub? We're talking about a nightclub. Yes, this is in Venezuela. A prison inmate's dancing until dawn.

HOLMES: You've got to see this.


MALVEAUX: Check this out. There are thousands of inmates crammed into one of Venezuela's largest prisons, but they're not exactly roughing it.

HOLMES: You wouldn't call it that. They're hanging out at the pool, the disco, partying their prison time away.

Here's Rafael Romo to explain this.


RAFAEL ROMO, CNN SENIOR LATIN AFFAIRS EDITOR: A picnic-like atmosphere with people playing in the pool under the sun, but this is not a park or recreational facility. It's one of the largest prisons in Venezuela.

Welcome to San Antonio prison, located on Venezuela's Margarita Island, also home to a popular beach resort.

Carlos Nieto Palma, a human rights advocate, says San Antonio has become a recreational facility where you can find anything from gangster murals to weapons to drugs and alcohol. There's even cock- fighting rings.

Nieto Palma says the inmates recently had a grand opening for a discotheque with capacity for 600 people. He learned about the night club after getting this invitation on his cell phone.

CARLOS NIETO PALMA, HUMAN RIGHTS ADVOCATE (via translator): This invitation talked about a discotheque with stage lights and LED screens.

It also talked about a party lasting until sunrise where there would be bad girls with toys to play with them.

You can then assume that they also had drugs, alcohol and other things.

ROMO: This is not the first time conditions at the San Antonio prison have raised eyebrows.

A "New York Times" report in 2011 called the prison "a Hugh Hefner- inspired flesh pot."