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Homes Destroyed by Wildfires; Severe Storms Hammering East Coast; Genes Can't be Patented; Duchess Names New Cruise Ship; Search for Armando Torres; Girl Rising

Aired June 13, 2013 - 12:00   ET


SUZANNE MALVEAUX, CNN ANCHOR: On breaking news. This is near Baton Rouge, Louisiana. This is right now. That is where a chemical plant is burning. This is in the town of Geismar. There was an explosion. And you see that there, the fire sending up that thick, black smoke.

We are told now - right now that many people are injured. So we are following this story very closely. It is the Williams Olefins plant. And it produces chemicals used to make plastic. Not more details are available right now but you see people rushing there, running. There are emergency crews, choppers that are on this site, emergency responders trying to evacuate people around that plant.

Now, people in a nearby town, this is St. Gabriel, they are being told to stay inside, inside their homes, just as a precaution. We are watching this breaking news story and we're going to get you more details as soon as we have more information.

In Colorado, a battalion of firefighters now struggling to get an upper hand on two raging wildfires. We've just learned 360 homes have been destroyed. This is the Black Forest fire alone. No reports yet of injuries. There is somebody, however, who is missing. The Black Forest fire and the Royal Gorge fire are on opposite sides of Colorado Springs. About 9,000 people now have been forced from their homes. Officials said today they are expanding mandatory evacuation area around that Black Forest fire. Listen.


SHERIFF TERRY MAKETA, EL PASO, COLORADO: Wind is probably our number one threat. It is what has been the game changer, it is what has changed the conditions. I mean, I don't know any other word to describe it, but very dynamic. And again, the winds today are supposed to pick up. It's kind of the weather pattern that we are expecting to see. Not only see today, but see this continue on over the next few days.


MALVEAUX: Fire officials say the Black Forest fire has burned 15,000 acres. That is so far. Our Victor Blackwell, he's joining us live in about 30 minutes to give us an update from the ground.

But I want to bring in our Chad Myers.

Chad, how expected do we -- bad is the wind actually going to be in terms of moving this fire at a rapid pace?

CHAD MYERS, AMS METEOROLOGIST: Probably worse than yesterday and probably as bad as tomorrow. This doesn't get better in any big hurry. We have red flag warnings all across the west, which means wind gusts 30 miles per hour. When you get a wind gust that's that high, you can take the sparks and you can move those embers miles ahead and start new fires because of that wind.

It's going to be hot. Denver, 94 today. Salt Lake City, 90. Look at Vegas, 103. That's all the heat that's in the mountains. That's the air that's in the mountains. That's the dry air. Relative humidity today around 7 percent. The number of fires, large fires by state, at least a dozen fires out there.

Here's what's going on in Colorado. It's been so very dry for so long. Almost the entire state in some kind of a D-1 or D-2 drought. And the area right here that we're talking about, right near the fire in Colorado Springs, that is in a severe drought and has been in drought for a long time. A lot of that fuel is called sticks, twigs and shrubs, dead just ready to burn.

MALVEAUX: Chad, I want you to stay with us.

We are also turning now, this is severe weather, tens of millions of people facing today. This is in the eastern part of the United States. This is the same storm system that pounded the Midwest last night setting off tornados, huge hail and dangerous straight line winds there. You see it there, a tornado in Iowa destroying several homes and businesses. Luckily nobody was hurt.

Chicago got hammered with 50 miles an hour wind gusts, hail, and lightning. Take a look at those pictures. The Willis Tower taking a direct hit. Many of you know that landmark building as the Sears Tower.

Chad, I want to bring you back into the discussion here. I know that building well. I used to live in Chicago. It is very dramatic pictures when you see that. Obviously, people probably pretty afraid when they saw that. Which states do we think are going to get hit the hardest today?

MYERS: It looks like the Mid-Atlantic, anywhere from just south of New York City into Philadelphia, D.C., Baltimore, and I believe probably the most severe weather could be in the Carolinas, could be Raleigh, could be over toward the tide water of Virginia, even into Wilmington. That's going to be the area where it's going to heat up a lot. The weather did slide through the northeast. We had a U.S. Open delay because of that weather right there just drove (ph) right through Marion and now is moving out to sea, but there's more weather back behind it. They're going to clean this up at some point in time.

But, D.C., you had a line of weather go through this morning. Now there's more weather back out to the west of you that is going to roll on by. But I believe that that line may have taken a lot of the humidity and pushed it away for you. So that's why I'm thinking that the most severe weather may be a little bit farther to the south, including Richmond, Norfolk, all the way down toward Hampton, Rhodes and into Raleigh, Durham.

MALVEAUX: All right, got a lot of relatives to call down there.

MYERS: Yes, I know.

MALVEAUX: Warn them. Thank you very much, Chad. Appreciate it.

MYERS: You're welcome.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We support Edward Snowden.

CROWD: We support Edward Snowden, Snowden (ph).

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Snowden is our brother.

CROWD: Snowden is our brother.


MALVEAUX: Demonstrators in Hong Kong rallied today in support of Edward Snowden. He is the man, as you know, who leaked details of the government's secret phone and Internet surveillance programs. It's believed to be he is now hiding out in a safe house in Hong Kong. Snowden added another layer to this controversy during an interview with the "South China Morning Post." Now he told the paper U.S. intelligence agents have been hacking networks around the world for years, including hundreds of computers in China. He says the Chinese University of Hong Kong was among the targets.

Meanwhile, back on Capitol Hill, the FBI director facing questions now from lawmakers about the government surveillance programs. Robert Mueller testifying before a House committee today. Now he says the government is building its case against Edward Snowden.


ROBERT MUELLER, FBI DIRECTOR: As to the individual who has admitted making these disclosures, he is the subject of an ongoing criminal investigation. These disclosures have caused significant harm to our nation and to our safety. We are taking all necessary steps to hold the person responsible for these disclosures. As this matter is actively under investigation, we cannot comment publicly on the details of the investigation.


MALVEAUX: The Obama administration is trying to make the case that programs are vital to national security. That they've helped prevent dozens of terrorist plots. Well, the NSA director says that he's going to work on giving the public more details, more information and Snowden, in the meantime, says he plans to fight any attempt to extradite him from Hong Kong.

And today the U.S. Supreme Court ruling on an issue in the headlines recently because of actress Angelina Jolie. She brought this to our attention just weeks ago. We're talking about the gene mutation linked to an increased risk of breast cancer. Now, Jolie revealed that she had undergone a double mastectomy because of the mutation that put a much higher risk of her of the disease. Well, today, the high court ruled that human genes cannot be patented.

I want to bring in our CNN legal analyst Paul Callan to talk a little bit about this.

And there's a lot of different layers to this. So let's just kind of go through the case. It involves a company that basically identifies BRCA 1 and BRCA 2 gene mutations and the court made a decision about whether or not they could be patented. Tell us what the significance of that is.

PAUL CALLAN, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: Fascinating decision, Suzanne, that's going to have a big impact on women around the United States. This company Myriad developed a technique to isolate this gene that you just referred to. And that, by the way, was the gene that Angelina Jolie had tested and told her that she had a very, very high risk for the development of breast cancer.

Now, if an average woman wanted to get the same test that she got, it might cost as much as $3,000 to get the test because Myriad, the company that developed it, said that they had the exclusive right to sell it. So the Supreme Court looks at this and says, you know, you cannot patent a naturally occurring human gene. And what the company had done was, they had sort of pulled out this gene from someone's DNA and said, that's the gene that suggests breast cancer and they got a patent on the process.

Instead, the Supreme Court said you can't patent the gene itself. We will let you patent, however, a unique testing process that maybe only you have.


CALLAN: And they also said, if you take the gene and you make some kind of a synthetic version of it, or alteration to it, you can patent that. And that preserved the right of the company to make a profit on this. By the way, the company said it cost them $400 million in research and development to come up with the technique they used to isolate this gene.

MALVEAUX: So, Paul, two questions here. What does this mean in terms of competition for company who are in the business of this gene testing? And what does it mean for somebody who wants to get their DNA tested? Is it going to be more or less expensive?

CALLAN: Boy, it's a hard question. You know, the Supreme Court really split the baby here and they said to the company, we're still going to let you make a profit. But they also left open the possibility that competitors can come in and develop less expensive alternatives. So I think in the end women across America and others -- by the way, this will affect men as well when we develop technology relating to cancer -- are going to see cheaper tests available in the future because of the Supreme Court's decision.

MALVEAUX: All right. Paul Callan, thanks. We appreciate it.

CALLAN: Thanks.

MALVEAUX: Turkey's prime minister has an offer, as well as a warning, for protesters who are camping out in the heart of Istanbul. Now thousands are defying government orders to get out of Gezi Park. Well, Prime Minister Erdogan is offering a referendum so Turks can vote on whether to keep the park or build a mall there. Well, opposition to the mall, well that's what started the protests in the first place.

At the same time, the prime minister warns that in 24 hours the park will be cleared. That could mean more of this.

Riot police firing teargas, water cannons, stun grenades at protesters. This was all earlier this week and unfolded as we watched here on CNN. Amnesty International and the European Union have condemned the use of excessive violence by those riot police, Turkish officers. Well, five people were killed since the unrest started two weeks ago.

And in London, the duchess of Cambridge is now a godmother. Congratulations. But not in the sense, the traditional sense of the word. She did preside over a christening of a cruise ship. The last royal godmother of a Princess cruise ship was Princess Diana back in 1984. Now, look closely. This is probably the last solo appearance that you're going to see of the duchess until her baby is born. That's right. Richard Quest, he was there for all of it. Take a look.

RICHARD QUEST, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Suzanne, I'm over here. This is where the duchess of Cambridge named the ship. And they took nothing to chance, even writing on a piece of paper, "I name this ship Royal Princess. May God bless her and all who sail in her."

And then it was the moment when the duchess cut the rope. We waited to see if the Nebakanezer (ph) of champagne would break. The bottle smashed, which is a good omen certainly for the ship and probably for the duchess as well who is due to give birth next month.

In fact, this was the duchess' last solo engagement. We will see her again at other official ceremonies like the trooping of the color.

And, Suzanne, for those that wish to know, that was a Dalmatian mac that she was wearing. It cost about $250. And if history is any guide, it will probably be sold out by the end of the day, if not already.

As for the duchess herself, she looked radiant, she looked engaged and thoroughly enjoyed the day. It was, of course, her first naming ceremony for a ship.


MALVEAUX: Thank you, Richard.

Here's more of what we're working on for AROUND THE WORLD. More than 2,700 people kidnapped in Mexico in the last year. That is a big jump from the year before. So why the increase? And are tourist who visit Mexico safe?

And the little girl who sparked a nationwide debate over transplants now has her donor lungs. We're going to take you live to Philadelphia to see how she's doing.

And a Japanese diplomat is in trouble for telling his fellow diplomats to shut up at a U.N. meeting. We've got the video. Stay with us.


MALVEAUX: Here are some of the stories making news AROUND THE WORLD right now.

You're looking at demonstrations in Greece. Thousands of people have been protesting the government's sudden decision to yank TV and radio services off the air.

Now the government says it pulled the plug on state broadcasts because of corruption and mismanagement of funds.

Yeah, you see it there. The station went to black on Tuesday after decades of programming and, literally, the anchors walked off the set there.

Today protests grew even larger. Unions called for a general strike in support of the journalists.

The government is promising a new radio and TV station but with fewer staff.

And former South African president, Nelson Mandela, spending a sixth day in the hospital, Mandela is being treated for a recurring lung infection.

Now the latest statement from the South African government said he was responding better to treatment.

The icon of the anti-apartheid movement has been in and out of hospitals in recent years, and he is now 94-years-old. He has not appeared in public since 2010.

In Argentina, two commuter trains crashed into each other. It happened today right outside Buenos Aires. A CNN affiliate there says at least three people have been killed, 150 others injured. Right now the cause of the collision is not clear.

And today marks one month since an American went missing in Mexico, and witnesses say he was kidnapped by men with guns.

Armando Torres, he is 25-years-old, a U.S. Marine Corps reservist. His father and uncle were snatched at the same time. They're also missing as well.

The FBI is on this case and, Mexican authorities, they are looking for him as well, but so far there is nothing, not a word, not a clue.

Just a short time ago Armando Torres' sister was on CNN, said her family is just completely frustrated.


CRISTINA TORRES, MISSING U.S. MARINE'S SISTER: They're still investigating. We don't know anything at the moment.

Congressman Ruben Hinojosa has contacted my mother, and he said he is doing everything he can in his power to help bring my brother back.


MALVEAUX: I want to bring in Rafael Romo to talk a little bit about this.

This is a huge problem in Mexico, and I believe that it's up by 33 percent. What is going on?


Well, the problem is that when President Calderon, the previous president of Mexico, launched an offensive against the cartels, they splintered and some factions of the cartels started going into branching out into extortion, human trafficking, and, of course, kidnapping as is the case.

Now let's take a look at some of the numbers, and this is where the worry begins because, if you compare the first four months of 2012 with the first four months of 2013, you're going to see a big increase in kidnappings in Mexico, 555 so far this year compared to 417 last year.

As you mentioned before, that's an increase of 33 percent, so a lot of people worried about that increase given that the new president, Enrique Pena Nieto, that was one of the campaign promises, that he was going to tackle the problem and reduce the number of kidnappings in Mexico.

MALVEAUX: So where is this happening, Rafael? Is this all over Mexico? Is it focused in one particular area?

ROMO: It is not happening all over Mexico, and millions of Americans go to Mexico every year and, for the most part, have a safe and pleasurable experience.

It is happening in places where cartels are fighting for territory and a number of different criminal groups fighting for territory.

The place that you were mentioning before where Armando Torres went, that's the state of Tamaulipas just south of Texas where his father owned a ranch. That's where they disappeared about a month ago.

And just one more statistic to share with our viewers, Suzanne. When you look at the kidnapping rate in Mexico, and people who like numbers like to put it in just these terms, for every 100,000 people there are 20 kidnappings in Mexico. That's 2012 numbers.

But compare that to Columbia. Their worst ever, the year 1999, they had 6.22 per 100,000 people, so that gives you an idea of how bad the situation in Mexico is.

MALVEAUX: Do they have a sense once somebody is kidnapped -- this guy Torres, they're still looking for him -- that as time goes by they're not going to find him? Are they really doing an active investigation and trying to find this young guy?

ROMO: What's the bottom problem here? What's the bottom line?

The problem is that security forces are not strong enough to fight all of the organized groups, the cartels, and the gangs that are terrorizing people. That's really the problem in Mexico, that there is not enough security forces and some of the forces that there are corrupted and so that creates a problem in the case of Armando Torres and other cases that we have seen.

There are 12 people missing in Mexico, all young people who disappeared from an after hours bar that we know also about, a case of another five young people in Mexico City that disappeared. There was a case of 72 Central American migrants who went missing and they were later found dead in a ranch near the border.

But going back to what I was saying before, 20 million Americans cross into Mexico every year. And just to give you an idea of the perspective, it is New York, L.A., Chicago, Houston, Philly, and Phoenix combined, still a lot of Americans going to Mexico.

MALVEAUX: OK. All right, Rafi (ph), thank you very much. Appreciate it.

ROMO: Thank you.

MALVEAUX: Just some areas, particular areas, you have to look out for.

ROMO: That's right.

MALVEAUX: Coming up, an Indian family sleeps on the street under a tarp so their daughter can go to school. Their story, up next.


MALVEAUX: Got a quick update on the chemical plant fire. This is near Baton Rouge, Louisiana. Right now we're told that there are no reported fatalities so far. You're seeing pictures there.

But it's still an active scene. We're going to continue to bring updates as we get more information about that.

And all this week, we are focusing on girls' education ahead of the big CNN premiere of the film, "Girl Rising." Today we look at India.

This is where at least 78 million people are homeless. Many of them are kids, education really their own escape and inspiration.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: In Calcutta, India, homes made of plastic tarps are a common sight. For some people it's their only option.

But for girls like Roxana (ph), her family lives on the street so she can go to school

ROXANA (PH) (via translator): My name is Roxana (ph). I am in the fourth grade.

Next to the tree is a building and under that tree we have a home.

Here I am sleeping.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Roxana's (ph) family left their home in a nearby village so they could give her an education and encourage her talents.

ROXANA (PH) (via translator): I like to draw. It comes from my heart.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Screenwriter Sooni Taraporevala met Roxana (ph) during the making of the "Girl Rising" film and sees her drawings as an important means of expression.

SOONI TARAPOREVALA, SCREENWRITER: The art is what's so fantastic, so I think it can open us up to a lot of interior feelings and to reveal what's going on inside her.

ROXANA (PH) (via translator): I want to change where we live on the street to a better home.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Education say chance for girls like Roxana (ph) to see the possibilities ahead of them.


MALVEAUX: Good for her. Roxana (ph) is excelling in school. She is now in the sixth grade.

To learn more about her, visit The CNN film, "GIRL RISING," premieres this Sunday at 9 p.m. Eastern.

And coming up, Sarah Murnaghan had her lung transplant. That is right, but there is a tough recovery ahead.

We're going to take you live to Philadelphia to check up on her.