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American Mother Behind Bars in Mexico; Update on Cleveland Kidnap Victims; Chinese Newborn Found in Sewer Pipe; Dubai Breaking Records

Aired May 28, 2013 - 12:30   ET




President Obama returned to the Jersey Shore today for an update on the recovery from Superstorm Sandy. He's going to be speaking in Asbury Park, New Jersey, in about an hour or half or so.

MICHAEL HOLMES, CNN ANCHOR: Yeah, we'll bring you that.

Now the president reunited with Governor Chris Christie for a tour of the area. Christie took some heat, of course, from Republicans, you may remember, when he appeared with the president just after the storm hit and just before the November election, and he praised what the president had done.

MALVEAUX: And on this visit, the president is meeting with business owners as well as homeowners helped by the federal recovery dollars.

Honduras has the highest murder rate in the world. Today, the two most violent gangs that operate there might actually do something to change that whole situation.

HOLMES: Fingers are crossed. Both groups are expected to announce that they'll be starting talked aimed at a truce.

Now the gangs already reached a truce in neighboring El Salvador and officials say the murder rate there has dropped dramatically.

MALVEAUX: A couple's trip to Mexico now becoming a nightmare, the wife is in a jail cell. She's accused of smuggling marijuana.

John Berman, he's got the story.


JOHN BERMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: An American mother of seven behind bars in Mexico, accused of smuggling marijuana.

Yanira Maldonado from Phoenix, Arizona, was traveling to Mexico with her husband Gary to attend her aunt's funeral. While returning home, the couple's bus stopped at a military checkpoint near Hermosillo, Mexico. Police allege they found marijuana beneath Gary's seat and charged him with smuggling. Then, they released Gary and arrested his wife, Yanira, instead, saying the marijuana was actually under her seat.

A Mexican state official with extensive knowledge of the case believes Maldonado was framed, telling CNN, she would not have been able to carry 12 pounds of pot onto the bus without being noticed.

Gary visited his wife over the weekend at women's jail in Nogales where she's being held.

GARY MALDONADO, WIFE ARRESTED IN MEXICO: Yanira saw me from a distance and she just kind of like started jumping up and down and giving me a big hug and we just cried.

BERMAN: The couple, who have seven children and two grandchildren between them, have denied the charges. Gary Maldonado claims they've never sold or even used drugs.

Their daughter, 21-year-old Anna Soto, pleading for her mother's release.

ANNA SOTO, DAUGHTER OF WOMAN ARRESTED IN MEXICO: I know there's people out there saying or asking did she really do it? Are you sure?

You know, it hurts, you know, to see that. If you would have known my mom, if you just would have met her, you just would have known she would have had nothing to do with it.


HOLMES: John Berman reporting there.

MALVEAUX: So the woman's 21-year-old daughter that we just heard about from John Berman's report can't believe, really, what is now happening to her own mom.

HOLMES: She talked to Wolf Blitzer, telling him what her mother is like and what she told her when they visited in jail over the weekend.

Have a listen.


SOTO: All I can say is she's a strong woman. And when I saw her. she just smiled like she's always smiled before, and I broke down in tears.

But she just told me that she was going to get out, for me to be strong, that she was innocent.

She wanted to tell my brothers and sisters that she loved them very much and she wanted me to take -- to thank everyone that has been helping her and she just seemed very strong and we cried a little bit.

I cried more than her. But she's -- I don't know how she's doing, you know, better than I expected.


MALVEAUX: You know what's interesting about this is that even a Mexican official says he thinks she was framed.

HOLMES: Really? Yeah, it's an extraordinary thing to go through, too, and who knows where it's going to end?

But we are tracking, by the way, her court appearance. We'll let you know when we hear anything about when she might be set free or has to stay in jail, for that matter, and go to trial.

MALVEAUX: We have more on that story, if you'd like to visit for details.

And coming up on AROUND THE WORLD, we're actually going to go to Cleveland. This is an update on the three women who were kidnapped as teens, held captive for a decade.

HOLMES: Also, we're going hear from neighbors who want the suspects' home torn down.

We'll be right back.


MALVEAUX: Three weeks after three kidnapped Cleveland women were discovered locked in a home, neighbors still haunted by what allegedly happened inside of that house.

HOLMES: Yeah, now the community's actually raised hundreds of thousands of dollars for those victims.

Pamela Brown with their story.


PAMELA BROWN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Anthony Westry (ph) lives two doors down from the home where a decade-long secret came to a very dramatic end.

Is it sort of a creepy feeling to think for all years they were just two doors down.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: With the bogeyman.

BROWN: He's talking about Ariel Castro, the man accused of kidnapping Gina DeJesus, Michelle Knight and Amanda Berry, and holding them captive for years.

Now neighbors like Westry say they are just trying to adjust to their new normal.

If we were to spend a day with you, after what happened, right next door, what would it be like? UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Almost like a Mardi Gras. A constant stream of cars.

BROWN: But what's a tourist attraction for some is more of an eyesore for neighbors like Israel Lugo.

ISRAEL LUGO, HAUNTED BY KIDNAPPINGS: Every time you wake up, you see the same scene there. You've got to build a 60-foot gate metal around the house of horrors, as they say in Cleveland.

You know, it's a saying. It's in my backyard, but it's like I wish they could just go and knock it down.

BROWN: Though what allegedly happened inside these wall has left an indelible mark, the women's courage has inspired people in this community and beyond.

CHRIS KELLY, JONES DAY LAW FIRM: The e-mails keep coming and coming, wanting to help. And we're trying to channel those now more towards contributions to the fund.

BROWN: Chris Kelly of the Jones Day Law Firm runs the Courage Fund set up for the three women and little girl rescued earlier this month, raising more than $650,000, with the funds to be equally distributed into four separate trusts.

What does it say about the girls that they chose to put the money in a trust rather than take money directly now?

KELLY: They have the savvy and sense to know that they want to have the monies protected.

BROWN: Those who know the women say they're drawing on the same strength that helped them survive so many years in captivity.

KELLY: And they're exceptional human beings, having gone through this ordeal, and to be able to come out of it and start to heal and move forward so quickly is amazing.


BROWN: Now in addition to the hundreds of thousands of dollars in donations to the Courage Fund, there have been dozens of offers for free services for the girls, including free tuition for four years of college, free dental care, free spa services.

But the biggest need right now is still the financial help and, of course, privacy for these girls as they continue to heal.

MALVEAUX: Pamela, I understand that you spoke with the defense attorney for the alleged kidnapper, Ariel Castro.

What is the latest there? The last we heard that they were going to plead not guilty.

BROWN: Right. And he reiterated that this morning, Suzanne. He said essentially that no matter what charges he faces, that he will plead not guilty.

He said that they expect charges to come in an indictment sometimes in the next few weeks.

We asked him, of course, what charges do you think he will face, because right now he's facing those kidnapping and rape charges.

The attorney wouldn't specify but kept saying he's going to plead not guilty, so we'll see what happens.

MALVEAUX: All right. Pamela Brown, thank you so much. We appreciate it, reporting live from Cleveland.

Continue to follow the story on our website,

HOLMES: Yeah, all right. A baby -- this is an amazing, isn't it? It's a real talker, this one. A baby in China is heard by residents in an apartment building from the drain of a toilet and then a dramatic rescue takes place.

MALVEAUX: It really is amazing. This newborn actually had to be cut out of this pipe. We're going to show you this rescue. That is next after a quick break for "Around the World."


HOLMES: Welcome back.

And now to the story in China, an incredible tale of a newborn baby that ended up lodged in a sewer pipe. Incredibly, that child is in stable condition.

MALVEAUX: So, Hala Gorani, she is reporting that the neighbors now discovered the boy when they actually heard these cries that were coming from the toilet. We want to warn you guys, the pictures, some of them, kind of hard to watch.

HOLMES: But a happy ending.


HALA GORANI, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The dramatic rescue began after cries from a fourth floor apartment toilet. Alarmed neighbors saw a tiny foot and called the fire department. Unable to pull the baby out, rescuers went to the floor below and sawed away the entire section of sewer pipe. But still, the baby remained wedged inside.

So, sewer section and baby were taken to the local hospital, where firefighters and surgeons working together carefully began removing the pipe piece by piece. An hour later, success. A newborn baby rescued, the afterbirth still attached.

Chinese media said he's a baby boy, now in stable condition. Police say they're looking for the parents. They say no one has yet come forward to claim the child. Hala Gorani, CNN.


MALVEAUX: Unbelievable.

HOLMES: Isn't that incredible.

MALVEAUX: How that little baby was rescued. It's just incredible.

HOLMES: And the Chinese authorities actually put out a plea on the Chinese version of Twitter, Weibo, and called for the mother to come and hold your child and said the child is resilient and doing well, which apparently it is in hospital. There's been pictures released of it in hospital and doing pretty well. And apparently the mum did turn up and said she had panicked and she was terribly sorry and I don't know what's going to happen to her next but --

MALVEAUX: You wonder where the father is in all of this too.

HOLMES: Yes. What a sad story.

MALVEAUX: I mean clearly - but very fortunate this little boy is OK.

HOLMES: All right. Well, one week after a huge tornado tore through Moore, Oklahoma, a daring crew of storm chasers gives us the view from inside a tornado. Check this out.




MALVEAUX: It turns day into night in northern Kansas. Winds as high as 175 miles an hour, which would make it an extremely dangerous EF-4 tornado. And how this storm chasing crew stayed safe, we just -- it's unbelievable. I guess relatively speaking, it's amazing.

HOLMES: There it is.

MALVEAUX: Yes, there it is. This is known - a rolling fortress known as the TIV, the Tornado Intercept Vehicle. I'm actually going to have a chance to talk to one of those storm chasers in just about a half hour or so just to see what was that like. Unbelievable.

HOLMES: Yes, and was -- it's funny because those pictures were from a while ago when it actually paid a visit here at CNN. It's an extraordinary vehicle. And the sides come down and cover up the wheels so that it sits on the ground stable. And they say it was design to withstand 170 mile an hour winds. They got a - you don't really want to field test 170 mile an hour winds, do you?

MALVEAUX: But you look like, what is inside to actually be it -- to see it from that vantage point, very unique.

HOLMES: Fantastic.

MALVEAUX: And, of course, those are the guys who are able to give us the information that we need to be safe, to avoid what they are actually in the middle of.

HOLMES: Yes. They get a lot of valuable data out of it. Yes, it's incredible.



MALVEAUX: Sand, cars, and Guinness records coming up. How Dubai making money off of breaking records, world records.

HOLMES: Yes, it's a good story.

And if you're looking to move to the list of happiest countries, well, the list is out.

MALVEAUX: You're happy.

HOLMES: You know what I'm -

MALVEAUX: Yes, I - well -

HOLMES: Am I happy?

MALVEAUX: I think you're happy.

HOLMES: I look happy. I am happy.

MALVEAUX: Where do they smile the most? We're going to tell you, up ahead.

HOLMES: My people are happy.

MALVEAUX: Yes, a little bit of a hint there.


HOLMES: We're going to take you to Brazil now. The roof of a soccer stadium partially collapsing after heavy rain, and the people who run the stadium blame human error.

MALVEAUX: And they're supposed to be three big soccer matches at the stadium for next month's Federations Cup. And this is seen as just a warm-up for the World Cup, which is going to be held in Brazil next year. Critics say that Brazil has fallen behind now in its preparations.

HOLMES: It doesn't help when they break, too.

Now, let's go to Dubai. They're more concerned there with setting world records these days.

MALVEAUX: I love this. So much so, the Guinness Book of World Records had to open a brand new office. Leone Lakhani has the story.


LEONE LAKHANI, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): In the deserts of Dubai, these cars are on the verge of a new world record -- longest convoy of off-road vehicles. The number to beat, 150 in a row.


LAKHANI: And overseeing the event, Talal Omar, the head of the newly opened Guinness World Record office in Dubai. Omar has overseen more than 300 records across the world. He recently relocated from London to Dubai just to cope with growing demand from record breakers in the Middle East.

TALAL OMAR, REGIONAL DIRECTOR, GUINNESS WORLD RECORDS: In the UAE, Saudi Arabia and Egypt, we've seen an increase of 300 percent to 400 percent in number of applications over the past five years.

LAKHANI: It's a new business direction for a publishing institution. The Guinness Book of Records was first published in 1955 by the man behind the world-known Guinness breweries. The publisher still makes 70 percent of its revenues from book sales. But the other 30 percent comes from things like adjudication, the process of judging record attempts.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Come on, come on, come on.

LAKHANI: The strong growth in the Middle East of people attempting records means this is where the company is now focused.

LAKHANI (on camera): It's going to take about three hours for all these cars to get through the course. They've been given a list of guidelines that they have to comply with. And if they break any of those rules, the record's off.

LAKHANI (voice-over): Perhaps not surprising for a country which has the world's tallest building and some of the world's most opulent hotels, the United Arab Emirates holds more than 100 Guinness World Records. But breaking records is not just about superlatives.

ALISTAIR RICHARDS, GLOBAL PRESIDENT, GUINNESS WORLD RECORDS: It is true to say that economically there are parts in the Middle East that want to showcase themselves and certainly they're using Guinness World Records to demonstrate to the world that they're more than just an oil-based industrial economy and culture.

LAKHANI: For these off-roaders, months of careful preparation has finally paid off.

OMAR: I can confirm that the total number of cars in the convoy is 153 cars.

LAKHANI: A place in the iconic Guinness Book of World Record follows and another good reason why Talal Omar is now based in the Middle East. Leone Lakhani, CNN, Dubai.


MALVEAUX: I always wanted to break a world record.


MALVEAUX: Yes. I'll have to figure it out. I've got to do something.

HOLMES: World record for putting up with me.

MALVEAUX: Oh, there you go.

HOLMES: Yes. You're on your way.

MALVEAUX: Here's the prize.

All right, so here's a question for you -- how happy are you where you live? There is a list now of the happiest countries in the world. We're actually going to get a chance to tell you which is number one up next. Tell us what you think.


MALVEAUX: He's on the North American leg of his latest tour, but Paul McCartney did more than just perform for his fans when he stopped by. This was in Memphis, Tennessee.

HOLMES: Yes, the former Beatle actually popped into Graceland to pay tribute to the king of rock 'n' roll. McCartney making his first ever visit to the home of Elvis Presley.

MALVEAUX: He even tweeted these photos. According to his Twitter account, McCartney dropped one of his guitar picks on Presley's grave, said it was so Elvis can play in heaven. That's nice. Pretty nice there.

So, Michael -


MALVEAUX: Are you happy? You seem like a happy guy.

HOLMES: I am so happy. I am so happy. That's because I'm Australian. And we've got proof that my people are the happiest people in the world.

MALVEAUX: Yes, we do.

HOLMES: This is official. This is official. We're talking about the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development. And with a name like that, you've got to be official.

MALVEAUX: Oh, yes.

HOLMES: They put out this index every year. They rank the happiest countries in the world.

MALVEAUX: And they surveyed 34 countries. Australia topping the list.

HOLMES: Of course.

MALVEAUX: So I understand the criteria is based on jobs, income, environment, health. Australia beating out Sweden and Canada. So they are the others that are like the happiest around. You know where we rank, the U.S.?

HOLMES: I do. I do because I did look this up, having been vitally interested in this very important economic study. The U.S., number six. Sorry. Number six.

MALVEAUX: Yes, but I'm not -

HOLMES: But the Brits are number 10.

MALVEAUX: I'm just as happy as you.

HOLMES: You are very happy. But you're just an intrinsically happy person.

MALVEAUX: You know, you've got to catch me on a good day.

HOLMES: I know, but it was very - it was yet -- and, by the way, third year for Australia. Third year in a row.

MALVEAUX: They say you got to go. My Aussie mate, you've got to go.

HOLMES: I'm so happy. I know. And they keep talking. All right, I've got to go. You stay.

MALVEAUX: You be happy.

HOLMES: Thanks for watching AROUND THE WORLD.