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WEEKEND EARLY START
California Shooting Suspect Identified; Missing Teacher Apparently Found; Weather Update; Obama Talks with Chinese President; Kids Get Equal Access to Donors; California Shooting Suspect
Aired June 9, 2013 - 06:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
PAMELA BROWN, CNN ANCHOR: Good morning, everyone. I'm Pamela Brown.
We begin this Sunday morning with breaking news out of California. We now know the name of the suspected gunman in the rampage that left four people dead Friday in Santa Monica. You're looking at a 2006 year book photo of John Zawahri. Police say he began his shooting spree at a house where he killed his father, Samir, and his brother Chris. We also know more about his ties to Santa Monica College, his past run- ins with police, and the massive stash of weapons police say he amassed. Kyung Lah has more from Santa Monica.
KYUNG LAH, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The armed gunman, dead at the end of his rampage, had one intent say police.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He had heavily armed himself and he was ready for battle.
LAH: Police displayed his jaw-dropping arsenal and the black bag the gunman carried, the upper receiver to a .223 semiautomatic rifle, a .44 caliber handgun, and hundreds of rounds loaded into two dozen magazine clips. He had an additional 1,300 rounds he could have fired.
This is just some of his weaponry. Police also showed pictures of additional magazines. And the gunman dressed in all black, wearing knee pads and a vest, where you see him carrying the .223 semiautomatic rifle he used in the bloody rampage across the normally idyllic beach town.
CHIEF JACQUELINE SEABROOKS, SANTA MONICA POLICE: Anytime someone puts on a vest of some sort. comes out with a bag full of - full of loaded magazines, has an extra receiver, has a handgun, and has a semiautomatic rifle, carjacks folks, goes to a college, killings more people, and has to be neutralized at the hands of the police, I would say that that's premeditated.
LAH: But why? Police say in 2006, they were called to this house the gunman set on fire, where they believe he killed two of his relatives. At the time, the gunman was a juvenile, so police would not elaborate. Police don't know why he chose to shoot his way to Santa Monica College, but police revealed the gunman was a student at the community college in 2010, likely familiar with the library, where police say students hid in a safe room, miraculously dodging bullets the gunman fired through the walls. Officers say he probably didn't know any of his victims outside of his relatives, choosing people at random.
Victims like the father and daughter inside this red SUV, shot in the head and killed, Santa Monica College grounds keeper Carlos Navarro Franco. He was driving his daughter, a student at the college, to pick up textbooks when they came across the gunman.
ALFRED CREOLLO, VICTIM'S RELATIVE: Why it happened to them.
LAH: Relative Alfred Creollo says the daughter, who was transferring to a four-year college, may not survive her injuries.
CREOLLO: But to go out and just shoot randomly at other people, that he don't know or had any contact with, just don't understand why a person would do that.
LAH (on camera): A big question here and one that is yet to be publicly answered is how the gunman obtained his weapons, especially the semiautomatic rifle, which is highly regulated here in California. Police say the guns are now being tracked by the ATF.
Kyung Lah, CNN, Santa Monica, California.
BROWN: And we will have more on the suspected gunman and the shooting rampage in the next half hour.
Meantime, the crane operator accused of causing the deadly building collapse in Philadelphia is expected to appear in court this morning to face charges. Forty-two-year-old Sean Benschop covered his face with a red jacket, as you see, as he was taken into custody yesterday. He faces six counts of involuntary manslaughter and 13 counts of reckless endangerment for Wednesday's collapse that left six dead and 13 injured. A law enforcement source tells CNN, Benschop had traces of marijuana and pain medication in his blood after the collapse, but his attorney says he was not high.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DAINE GREY, BENSCHOP'S ATTORNEY: He and his family are extremely sympathetic and remorseful with respect to what happened. This was an accident, but MR. Benschop is not responsible and we believe that in time the facts will show that he is not responsible.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BROWN: We've also learned Benschop had a cast on his right arm while operating a crane to tear down a vacant building when a wall collapsed onto an adjacent Salvation Army thrift store. Philadelphia Mayor Michael Nutter issued this statement on the new charges, saying in part, "justice will only be served if Sean Benschop receives a sentence that buries him in a jailhouse forever, just like his victims were buried on Wednesday."
(END VIDEO CLIP) BROWN: The search for a New Orleans teacher missing for 98 days appears to be over. A car belonging to Terrilynn Monette was pulled from a bayou yesterday. In the front seat, a body was found, presumably Monette's. Tomorrow, the coroner will perform an autopsy to determine if it is her. For now the family can only wait and wonder why it took so long to find her. Monica Hernandez, with our affiliate WWL has more.
MONICA HERNANDEZ, WWL REPORTER (voice-over): Cries of anguish from a family who's held out hope for 14 weeks. Crews pulled Terrilynn Monette's car out of Bayou Saint John. A body was found in the driver's seat.
SIERRA BRUMFIELD, MISSING TEACHER'S FRIEND: We never would have imagined that this would have happen. Now like, how do we move on? We really don't know how to move on.
HERNANDEZ: The Jefferson Parish teacher vanished in early March after leaving Parlay's Bar in Lakeview. Her story captured the heart of the community. Dozens of onlookers gathered at the bayou to show support.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Just show our respect to the family.
HERNANDEZ (on camera): Officials say crews had searched this area of the bayou at least three times before, raising questions for family and friends about why Monette's car wasn't found sooner.
ZINA SCOTT, FAMILY FRIEND (ph): Well, how long the car been there if they done searched this area? This area done been searched before. And it's really mind boggling to me.
HERNANDEZ (voice-over): Mark Michaud is the volunteer diver who used sonar to find Monette's car. The Slidell Police officer says he wanted to give Monette's mother a sense of closure.
MARK MICHAUD, FOUND MISSING TEACHER'S CAR: She's got her baby. She knows where she is. Now she can start her process of getting on with her life of knowing where her baby is. She's never going to have to, from this day forward, not know where she is.
HERNANDEZ: Already a family friend threw rose petals into the bayou in remembrance. Those who knew Monette say the discovery is bittersweet.
DONALD PARKER, COUSIN (ph): It's rough -- rough for everybody. Everybody that's been involved, it's been rough. So we've got closure for Toni that her daughter's dead. Myself and a whole lot of others that participated (INAUDIBLE), they're happy and sad. Happy and sad.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It's a relief. It's a relief. You know, we promised that we would never give up on her, and we stood by that promise.
BROWN: And that was Monica Hernandez from our affiliate WWL reporting there.
Meantime, Monette's mother is among those wondering why the search for Terrilynn took 98 days. And while she is grieving her daughter, she's also in shock.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TONI ENCLADE, TERRILYNN MONETTE'S MOTHER: Well, it's very hard. It's very difficult. You know, as you know, I've been coming down here every month since my daughter has gone missing. And, you know, I just - I can't believe that it has taken them this long to find this car. I'm just - I'm in shock right now. I'm just shocked.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BROWN: Well, this morning, South Africans are offering prayers at church services throughout their nation for their beloved former president, Nelson Mandela. The 94-year-old anti-apartheid icon was rushed to the hospital yesterday for a recurring lung infection. He was last listed in serious but stable condition, but there's been no more updates since yesterday. A spokesperson says the anxiety shown by people throughout the world is perfectly understandable with Mandela's health deteriorating. Well-wishers hoping to learn more about his condition are getting error messages on the South African president's website.
And back here at home, while the southwest bakes, the northeast is dry now, and the Midwest faces the prospect of even more rough weather. Meteorologist Alexandra Steele is here to tell us more about that.
More rough weather, Alexandra?
ALEXANDRA STEELE, AMS METEOROLOGIST: More wet weather. Hi, everyone. Good morning to you, Pamela. Good morning, waking up on this early Sunday morning.
What we're going to do, just kind of a radar scan, show you what's cooking literally and figuratively around the country. A lot going on.
All right, Kansas City, down to Oklahoma, scattered showers and thunderstorms firing up. And south of Des Moines as well. So driving 35 and 70. And look what's happening toward Texas. Dallas, airport warning right there right now. Flying out of there, you're certainly going to be held at the gate for a little while. I line of showers and storms dropping southeast. Oklahoma City, kind of dry through the day. This moved through. But, Dallas, you're going to see these showers and storms this morning and then re-fire through the afternoon. So kind of just keep an eye to the sky for that.
So, St. Louis, Cape Girardeau, Memphis, this is the chance in the Plains that we'll see serious weather potentially. Isolated tornado, but kind of large hail, some damaging winds, all part of the picture. St. Louis, even northeast to Chicago potentially, could see some strong storms.
So, we've got those storms dropping south. Farther east, a very tropical, warm moist environment. All of this moisture and all of this rain lifting to the north. So, Birmingham, you've got a - maybe an early, cool start, but then all this rain's moving in. Atlanta, Georgia, as well. Showers and thunderstorms you'll see throughout the day today. I mean not a total washout, but Panama City on the beach there, scattered showers and storms.
Well, here's the good news. You're dry today. Boston, New York, temperatures in the 70s and low 80s. Washington as well. See about 83 degrees with some sunshine. But that will change. All this moisture kind of moving into the northeast, in New England, will bring the rain in to you. Not today, but watch what happens as we head toward Monday. So, back to work, kind of back to the ensconced of clouds and showers. Here we go through the day. Washington, Philadelphia, New York, Boston, and Portland, there's the rain on Monday.
Also, one other, big story. We are really cooking in the southwest. Las Vegas, 110 degrees today. Average high, 97. So it's supposed to be hot. But this ridge of high pressure and control in the southwest, really incredible warmth. Phoenix, 109., 110 by Tuesday. So, even a couple of degrees, Pamela, should be 103, but from 103 to 110, a big difference, and really the heat is on. That is some dangerous heat out there.
BROWN: People need to be careful out there. All right, thanks so much, Alexandra.
BROWN: Much more still to come on EARLY START WEEKEND.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What we're focused on doing right now, and you've seen this in the DNI (ph) statement, is frankly doing an assessment of the damage that is being done to U.S. national security by the revelation of this information.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BROWN: The secrets are coming out. So what is the Obama administration going to do about it? A look at whether security leaks will simply dampen the White House's credibility or sink it.
And one of Boston's most famous good fellas is finally having his day in court. The trial of Whitey Bulger starts this week. That will shine a light on his alleged massive criminal enterprise. We'll be right back.
BROWN: Good morning, New York City. It is just about 6:15 on the East Coast. A live look now at the sun rising up over Manhattan, as we see. It's going to be a gorgeous day ahead there, 81 degrees, sunny today. Get out there and enjoy it while it lasts. Rise and shine, everyone.
A meeting dubbed so terrific they're promising to do it again. President Obama and his Chinese counterpart, Xi Jinping, have now parted ways after their two day summit in southern California. They met for a total of eight hours on a range of pressing issues. Among them, North Korea, cyber attacks, and climate change. Chief White House correspondent Jessica Yellin has more on the informal meeting and its unusual desert back drop.
JESSICA YELLIN, CNN CHIEF WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): President Obama and Chinese President Xi wrapped up their sunny land summit with a late morning stroll in the California desert. President Obama declared the visit --
BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Terrific.
YELLIN: Over two days, the leaders met for a total of eight hours.
OBAMA: I'm very much looking forward to this being a strong foundation for the kind of new model of cooperation that we can establish for years to come.
YELLIN: The summit, held just four months after Xi took office, meant to launch a close, new relationship with the new Chinese leader.
PRESIDENT XI JINPING, CHINA (through translator): And at present, China-U.S. relationship has reached a new, historical starting point.
YELLIN: The backdrop was unusual, and not just because temperatures soared above 110 degrees. They met at Sunnylands, a private estate of the Annenberg family, better known for hosting Frank Sinatra and the Rat Pack and Ronald Reagan for New Year's Eve 18 times. Aides say it offered them a quiet space to work through a range of issues. Among them, North Korea. The leaders agreed to keep up pressure to rein in its nuclear ambitions.
TOM DONILON, NATIONAL SECURITY ADVISOR: I think we had quite a bit of alignment on the Korean issue, the North Korean issue, and absolute agreement that we would continue to work together.
YELLIN: Cyber attacks. According to the White House, the Chinese acknowledged they're a problem, agreed to investigate and work out the rules of the road.
OBAMA: I believe we can work together on this, rather than at cross purposes.
YELLIN: And climate change. For the first time, China agreed to work with the U.S. to limit the production of greenhouse gases.
President Obama gave the Chinese leader a parting gift, this bench made of California wood.
BEN RHODES, DEPUTY NATIONAL SECURITY ADVISOR: The bench was made out of a redwood. The two leaders were able to take a walk and, you know, were able to sit on what became the bench that the Chinese will be taking with them. YELLIN: Throughout the summit, the president and his aides were peppered with questions about new revelations involving government surveillance programs. White House officials had strong words about the consequences of these leaks.
RHODES: He's, frankly, doing an assessment of the damage that is being done to U.S. national security by the revelation of this information, which is, you know, necessarily secret because the United States needs to be able to conduct intelligence activities without those methods being revealed to the world.
YELLIN: During the summit, President Xi publicly invited President Obama to visit China. White House officials say the president agreed to come, and they're looking at holding a similar, informal summit outside of Beijing in the not too distant future.
BROWN: Jessica Yellin, thank you so much.
A little girl at the heart of the battle over the nation's organ transplant policies, well, she's taken a turn for the worse. We'll share with you the new development and Sarah Murnaghan's condition.
And hear from the mom of another little boy facing the same fight for survival. We'll be right back.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SARAH MURNAGHAN (singing): Twinkle, twinkle little star.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BROWN: Well, by now you've seen that little girl most likely. She is 10-year-old Sarah Murnaghan. The little girl who captured the hearts of so many. She has now taken a turn for the worst, we're told. Sarah is the little girl with cystic fibrosis whose fight for survival has sparked a national debate over transplant rules. Her mom posted on FaceBook last night that doctors have put a tube down Sarah's throat to help her breathe. Janet Murnaghan has told CNN that the step likely would mean Sarah would have only three to five weeks to live without a transplant. Around midnight she posted, quote, "it's been unimaginably awful here."
And this all comes a day ahead of an emergency meeting of the group that sets national rules for lung transplants. Members could change the policy that puts kids at the very end of the waiting list for adult organs no matter how sick they are. A federal judge last week intervened to get Sarah and another little boy, Javier Acosta, seen here, equal access to adult donors right now. CNN national correspondent Susan Candiotti sat down with Javier's mother.
SUSAN CANDIOTTI, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Pamela, good morning.
CNN spoke exclusively to Milagros Martinez, the mother of 11-year-old Javier Acosta. And what makes this family's story especially heart- breaking is that in 2009 Javier's brother Jovan died while waiting for a lung on the children's transplant list. He was the same age Javier is now and also suffered from cystic fibrosis.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MILAGROS MARTINEZ, JAVIER ACOSTA'S MOTHER: It's hard for me to tell my son, you know, you have to have faith and be hopeful. You know, this is going to happen for you. And inside knowing that the chances are slim. You know, it really hurts, to tell my only child now, you know, and knowing the facts.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CANDIOTTI: And turning 12 is significant in these cases because that's how old you have to be to get on a priority list for adult lungs. Juvenile lungs are much harder to find. If the current transplant rules do not change, children under 12 can only receive adult lungs after each adult on the waiting list turns them down first, no matter how sick they are. So now Javier Acosta and Sarah Murnaghan are joining other children who may be helped if transplant guidelines are revised. A judge ordered a 10-day injunction to remove the age restrictions on both Sarah and Javier.
Now, the National Transplant Procurement Program is meeting Monday to examine its policies.
BROWN: All right, Susan Candiotti, thank you so much for that.
And we will continue to bring the latest information on Sarah and Javier. We will update you on any developments from Monday's transplant board emergency meeting, but certainly our hearts go out to Sarah and her family as she continues this fight. As we said, she now likely only has three to five weeks to live without a transplant.
And coming up, breaking details this morning in Friday's deadly rampage in Santa Monica, California, that left four victims dead. We can now tell you who police say did it.
And, one of the country's most notorious fugitives is about to go on trial. We'll run down the case against James "Whitey" Bulger.
BROWN: And now for an update on mortgages. Rates climbed higher again this past week. Let's take a look.
ANNOUNCER: This is CNN breaking news.
BROWN: Good morning, everyone. I'm Pamela Brown. It's 30 minutes past the hour.
And we continue to follow breaking news this morning. We now know the name of the suspected gunman in the rampage that left four people dead Friday in Santa Monica. Right here, take a look. You're looking at a 2006 yearbook photo of John Zawahri. Police say he began his shooting spree at a house where he killed his father, Samir, and his brother Chris. Stephanie Elam is in Santa Monica this morning. She's been following this story for us.
And, Stephanie, what more have police said about the gunman?
STEPHANIE ELAM, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, there's a few things more now that we know, Pamela. But one thing, we do know that that house that was burning, where there were two other victims found, we do know their names now as well. Their names would be - they're actually John's father and John's brother here, the last name being the same, Zawahri. First names would be "Sam," Samir, would be the brother and - I'm sorry, the father, and Chris Zawahri would be his father. We do know that now.
We're getting more information here. A couple things that's important to point out, though. Police have been saying that they do not think that this has anything to do with terrorism. That this was just a lone gunman who may have been premeditating this attack here at Santa Monica College, Pamela.
BROWN: So, Stephanie, do police know how John Zawahri amassed all of these weapons?
ELAM: No. At this point we still do not know any of that information. We're still getting information, obviously the breaking news coming out what their names are, but how he was able to gather so many different guns.
Also, the ammunition: he had a massive amount of ammunition with him, all of that still unclear on how he was able to get that all together and then come to Santa Monica College for this shooting, which, as he walked through, several witnesses say that he was just very calm making this maneuver but very well armed.
And also the fact he had on a vest to protect himself as well, Pamela.
BROWN: And as the chief said there, it was premeditated, according to him.
The burning question, the motive: what was his motive? Do we have any more clues as to that?
ELAM: Yes, that's the billion-dollar question right now. We don't know what his motive was. We do know that there have been reports that he was being treated for some mental illness. How that factors into this story, we do not exactly know. But at this point, we don't know what was driving him to go and commit such a heinous crime in the middle of an afternoon.
BROWN: Still so much to learn.
Stephanie, are we expecting any more updates on victims' names today?
ELAM: We may be. We're going to be out here all day, trying to see what more information we can get out because, obviously, in a story like this, what you want to know more about are the people who did lose their lives so that we can talk about their stories. But at this point, we just don't have it yet. We're getting things very, very slowly at this point.
BROWN: All right. Stephanie Elam, thank you so much for being with us this morning. Keep us updated.
In New Orleans, the coroner will perform an autopsy tomorrow on a body presumed to belong to 26-year-old Terrilynn Monette (ph). The missing teacher's car was pulled from a bayou yesterday, 98 days after she first disappeared. The car was found by a volunteer using his own boat and sonar device. By the way, it was in an area previously searched by police.
One person is in custody in connection with the killings of two American troops and one American civilian. It all happened in Paktika province; that's in Eastern Afghanistan. Sources say the attacker, who was killed, wore an Afghan army uniform.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GUNTER KATZ, ISAF SPOKESMAN: This day was very difficult day for ISAF. We had two tragic incidents.
BROWN (voice-over): An Italian soldier in western Afghanistan was also killed this weekend. Some people are concerned by ongoing attacks as NATO winds down its military presence in Afghanistan.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BROWN: And now to Arizona where police say a 4-year-old boy accidentally shot and killed his father.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BROWN (voice-over): They say the boy and his dad were visiting a friend, who is a military veteran and keeps guns for protection. The little boy apparently grabbed the gun, not knowing what it was, and then it went off. Police identify the father as Justin Stanfield Thomas, also an Army veteran. A friend called the accident, quote, "tragic," and said Thomas was a great father.
Take a look here. This is what's left of a wayward hot air balloon. It's one of two that crashed in the Denver area yesterday. High winds are to blame for this. One person was injured in this crash, and the other two people were hospitalized when their tourist balloon crashed while trying to land in a grassy field.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BROWN: The long awaited trial of James "Whitey" Bulger begins this week and could last all summer long. Bulger is accused of running Boston's infamous Irish mob for more than a decade and eluding police for almost as long. Deborah Feyerick has more on the riveting case that includes crooked cops, murders and mobsters.
DEBORAH FEYERICK, CNN CORRESPONDENT: After more than two decades as the reputed head of Boston's criminal underworld followed by 16 years on the run, this is how James "Whitey" Bulger returned home two years ago after one of the FBI's largest and longest manhunts.
Since that disgraced homecoming, Bulger has been incarcerated at Plymouth County Correctional Facility. He's accused of extortion, money laundering and 19 counts of murder, charges to which he's pleaded not guilty.
J.W. CARNEY, BULGER'S COURT-APPOINTED ATTORNEY: Mr. Bulger this afternoon stood up and said good afternoon to the jurors.
FEYERICK (voice-over): The trial will likely close a traumatic chapter in Boston's history as well as the history of the FBI. By all accounts, Bulger's ruthless empire was allowed to grow unchallenged in the '70s, '80s and early '90s because of this man, John Connolly.
BARRY MAWN, FORMER FBI ASSISTANT DIRECTOR, NEW YORK DIVISION: He destroyed the reputation of the Boston office. A lot of very good agents were hurt and the whole office was tarnished.
FEYERICK (voice-over): Connolly was raised in the same housing project with Bulger and ultimately cut a deal with the alleged mob boss.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Whitey Bulger was a surprise informant to be had in Boston, and Connolly knew that.
DICK LEHR, FORMER "BOSTON GLOBE" JOURNALIST: UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And he did everything, including breaking all kinds of laws over the years, to keep that alive.
FEYERICK (voice-over): Protected by the rogue FBI agent, Bulger got names of other informants and rival gang members, people he's now accused of killing. He knew when police were watching, when they were moving in and knew when to disappear.
In 1994 Bulger got one of his last tips; he was about to be indicted on federal charges. He had planned ahead, stashing cash in various security boxes. He fled Boston, later taking girlfriend Katherine Greig. More 12,000 leads poured into the FBI while he was on the run, sightings in Ireland, London and south America.
TOM FUENTES, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: So in a way, he became the Elvis of gangsters. He was constantly being spotted somewhere. FEYERICK (voice-over): But in the end Bulger was found here in Santa Monica, three days after a public service announcement seeking information about his girlfriend.
The couple had been living under the alias Charlie and Carol Gasko (ph), a self-described Chicago businessman and his younger wife. Inside the partially shielded third-floor apartment, agents found $800,000 in cash and more than 30 weapons stuffed in the walls.
Whether Bulger planned to shoot his way out is anyone's guess. He was lured to the basement garage on a ruse his storage locker had been broken into. The feared Whitey Bulger was arrested quietly and without incident -- Deborah Feyerick, CNN, Boston.
BROWN: By the way, a little tidbit for you, in case you didn't know, Whitey Bulger? The movie, the Oscar-winning movie "The Departed" was based after him.
All right. South Africa and the world are waiting. They're waiting to hear word about the condition of former leader Nelson Mandela. We'll find out why news of his condition is so secret.
BROWN: Libyan authorities are pleading for calm after yesterday's rioting in Benghazi left 28 people dead there. The violence began when protesters attacked the headquarters of a militia group linked to the government.
Many in Benghazi are furious that former rebel fighters are still overseeing security there, despite the fact that former leader Moammar Gadhafi was ousted nearly two years ago. Demonstrators want security turned over to the military.
North and South Korea are trying to bridge their differences at the first official talks in two years. It's the latest sign of improved relations between the two countries. On Friday the North reconnected a hot line with the South. It's hoped that today's meeting will pave the way for higher level talks on Wednesday.
And in South Africa, Nelson Mandela remains in the hospital this morning. The last word was that the 94-year-old former president is in serious but stable condition. He's been hospitalized several times over the past few years, but every time, there seems to be a shroud of secrecy surrounding his condition.
Our Nadia Bilchik joins me now.
Nadia, great to have you here. As I said, there's always been this shroud of secrecy about how he's doing, about his condition.
Why is that? NADIA BILCHIK, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, the family really asked for privacy, but mainly the South African government wants there to be one message when he finally does physically depart from this world, and they don't want to cause any undue panic.
But I wanted to hear from the granddaughters. I spoke to them earlier this year about exactly where and (inaudible) about what they had to say about please not spreading any rumors about his health.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ZAMASWAZI DLAMINI, MANDELA'S GRANDDAUGHTER: As the family, we call on people, and we urge people to give us the privacy to be able to deal with whatever we're going through as a family in private.
I think many people are afforded, you know, that simple right to just, you know -- if their family member is in the hospital, that they can deal with it privately. So I think that it just boils down to the fact that it's a private matter, and whatever goes on with him, especially when it comes to his health, should be dealt with privately, as a family.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BILCHIK: They're asking for privacy, and although Nelson Mandela is no longer in official capacity, he is still a public icon and much beloved. So everybody wants to know how he's really doing.
BROWN: Absolutely. There's so much curiosity about that, and everyone on that note wants him to pull through this. They want him to fight. Every article I've read from people in South Africa and even around the world, they're saying we hope -- you know, he's pulled through so many times before. What, four hospitalizations this year?
BILCHIK: Absolutely. Yes, but one of his friends today in South Africa's "Sunday Times," Andrew Longani (ph), who was actually on Robben Island with Mandela, he was a former political inmate, he says, "Let him go." He says he's been hospitalized so many times. He's not well. And he's actually urging, particularly the family, to finally let him go.
BROWN: And we've seen that video; it was released back in March of Nelson Mandela with President Zuma of South Africa. And it's an image that we're not used to seeing. I mean, if you look at it here, he looks frail. He looks weak. And he didn't hold President Zuma's hand.
BILCHIK: Correct. And what Jacob Zuma wanted to achieve by this photograph is saying the global icon, the person responsible for taking South Africa from apartheid to democracy, we have a close affiliation. But as you've said, Mandela was very frail. And in fact, when Zuma reached out to him to grasp his hand, Mandela did not grasp his hand back.
BROWN: And as you mentioned, Nadia, Mandela, he is an icon. You are from South Africa. (CROSSTALK)
BROWN: You grew up there.
BILCHIK: And I spoke to Mandela's grandchildren yesterday, and I said, could they give me an update? And they said, at this point, no, because what I'm understanding is that the South African government is saying to the family, please don't say anything. And Mac Maharaj, the South African government spokesperson, said today, we have no more news.
But by saying we have no more news, all it does really is inspire people's curiosity.
BILCHIK: But at the end of the day, the government wants to be the person -- and I don't want to preempt his death because let us hope, Pamela, that he lasts until his birthday on July 18th.
But at the same time, given that he's so frail, the government doesn't want to cause undue panic.
And when I was there earlier this year, I spoke to people. I said, what happens when Mandela is no longer physically with us? And people are concerned that there may be some unrest some panic because he is such a figurehead.
BROWN: Not only in South Africa but around the world.
Why is that? Why is he so important to everyone?
BILCHIK: Because it's so extraordinary what he did. Here you have South Africa and the end of apartheid only happened in 1990, and he is the person who is credited with taking a country peacefully from anti- apartheid to one of the most democratic constitutions in the world.
And I say peacefully -- when you look at some of the other transitions and the spring uprising around the world, and you look at that and you see how peaceful -- you look at Egypt, you look at Tunisia and then you look at South Africa and realize what a peaceful transition it was.
Also one thing I want to mention about Nelson Mandela, when he left prison, President Clinton said to Mandela, aren't you angry with your jailers?
BROWN: I'll never forget this.
BILCHIK: And he says, no, because if I am angry, they still have power over me.
So a man who was forgiving and a man who is still loved around the world.
BROWN: Such an inspiring figure for everyone. Nadia Bilchik, thank you so much for sharing your unique insight.
BILCHIK: Thank you.
BROWN: Well, they may be a bit of an odd couple. Why Republican New Jersey Governor Chris Christie plans to team up with former President Bill Clinton. Your week ahead in politics is next.
CORY BOOKER, MAYOR OF NEWARK, N.J.: But I'm here today to officially announce my candidacy to be New Jersey's next United States senator.
BROWN (voice-over): As expected, Newark, New Jersey, Mayor Cory Booker announced his candidacy for Senate yesterday. He's trying to fill the seat vacated by the late Senator Frank Lautenberg. The special election is set for October, but the primary is just two months away in August.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BROWN: All right. Let's get everyone ready for the week ahead.
On Monday, the George Zimmerman trial, of course the neighborhood watch volunteer is charged with fatally shooting teenager Trayvon Martin. He says he shot the 17-year old in self-defense. All right. Didn't pop up there, but now we're going to go to an emergency meeting.
This is set for Monday as well, and it's to set national rules for organ transplants. Existing policies put kids at the end of the waiting list for adult organs. This comes on the heels of challenges by 10- and 11-year-olds who are sick and need new lungs to survive.
All right. Let's go to Wednesday now. James "Whitey" Bulger trial -- bet you've heard of him -- there we go. We got it. The alleged Boston mob boss is not only charged with extortion and money laundering, he also faces 19 murder charges.
And Thursday at the White House -- there we go.
This is my first time using this. So bear with me.
At the White House, President Obama will host a reception making the start to LGBT Pride Month.
And then Friday, we have good news Friday for comic book fans. "Man of Steel," there we go. We got it. "Man of Steel" opens, of course, the Superman movie for you comic book fans.
The new man of steel, British actor Henry Cavil.
And the week kicks off tomorrow with expected news from the Supreme Court. CNN political editor Paul Steinhauser takes a look at the political week ahead.
PAUL STEINHAUSER, CNN POLITICAL EDITOR: Good morning, Pamela.
The Supreme Court issues opinions tomorrow. By the end of June, the high court is expected to rule on such big issues as affirmative action, voting rights and same-sex marriage.
Tuesday the first big vote is scheduled by the full Senate on an immigration reform bill supported by a bipartisan Gang of Eight senators. Debate is already heating up.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. JEFF SESSIONS (R), ALA.: It will definitely give amnesty today.
SEN. BILL NELSON (D), FLA.: They're going to try to torpedo it. They're going to try to put poison pills that are so seductive as amendments that will kill the bill.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
STEINHAUSER: Also Tuesday a crucial showdown in the special Senate contest in Massachusetts as the Democratic and Republican candidates face off with just two weeks to go until election day.
Wednesday President Obama heads to the Bay State to lend a hand to the Democratic candidate, Congressman Ed Markey.
On Friday, an odd couple teams up, Republican Governor Chris Christie of New Jersey shares the same stage with former President Bill Clinton at a Clinton Global Initiative event in Chicago.
And Saturday --
SARAH PALIN, FORMER GOVERNOR OF ALASKA: With hard work, humility and the grace of our loving God, we will save our country.
STEINHAUSER: Sarah Palin goes in front of cameras as she speaks here in Washington at a key gathering of social conservatives.
BROWN: Paul Steinhauser, thank you so much for that.
Well, Broadway's best take the stage tonight for a special show. It's the Tony awards, of course, and a musical by Cyndi Lauper is leading the pack.
BROWN: Good morning, Washington, D.C., my former home, by the way. A live look now at the sun coming up over the Capitol. Beautiful shot here, take a look. Beautiful day there as well.
The president returns to Washington today following his trip to California and is meeting with the Chinese leader there. And of course, as we see, he's returning to a beautiful day, 84 degrees and partly cloudy in Washington today. And we're hearing from our Alexandra Steele up and down the Northeast, it's going to be drying out today before more rain comes tomorrow.
Glitz, glam, and choreography. The Tony awards are tonight.
BROWN: And leading the pack of nominations is the musical "Kinky Boots" by Cyndi Lauper and Harvey Fierstein. It has 13 nominations, not too bad, huh? But it does have some tough competition with "Matilda" and "Cinderella."
Also be on the lookout for Tom Hanks. He's nominated for Best Actor in a Play for his first Broadway role in "Lucky Guy."
And now to Boston, where openly gay NBA player Jason Collins marched in his first gay pride parade.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BROWN (voice-over): Here he's wearing Nike's rainbow "Be True" shirt and marching alongside his friend and former Stanford roommate Congressman Joe Kennedy. When Collins came out as the first openly gay athlete in a major U.S. sport, he said he wanted to march in the parade before but felt that he couldn't.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BROWN: And on the big screen, the action horror thriller "The Purge" starring Ethan Hawke is topping the box office this weekend. It's estimated to rake in $24 million beating out "Fast and Furious 6," which has held the top spot for two weeks now.
The magic thriller "Now You See Me" also exceeded expectations.
Following that was the comedy "The Internship" with Vince Vaughn and Owen Wilson. "Fast and Furious 6" and "After Earth."
(Inaudible) a little bit better, it seems like.
All right, tonight, only on CNN, Anthony Bourdain ventures into the Congo, but he and his crew ran into a little bit of trouble as they prepared for the journey of a lifetime.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ANTHONY BOURDAIN, CNN HOST (voice-over): Personal dream, if you will, to travel the Congo River, and now for better or worse, I get that chance.
We've rented a trusty vessel, and I shall dub thee The Captain Willard.
All right. Did you maggots load the chickens?
Finding food along the way, it's anticipated, will be a challenge. Refrigeration of any kind is impossible.
OK. Well, I'm psyched. My dream has finally come true.
Blocked by officials, this could be months.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BROWN: All right. You can see more of Anthony's adventure in the Congo on tonight's season finale of "ANTHONY BOURDAIN: PARTS UNKNOWN." That's at 9:00 pm Eastern right here on CNN.
Thank you so much for starting your morning with us. We've got much more ahead right here on "CNN SUNDAY MORNING" which starts right now.