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Government Shutdown Continues; Republican Leaders Meet with White House; Second Autopsy of Deceased Teen Reveals Missing Organs; Starbucks Engages Customers in Government Shutdown Debate; Cyclone Threatens Coast of India
Aired October 12, 2013 - 10:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
VICTOR BLACKWELL, CNN ANCHOR (voice-over): Twelve days into the shutdown. Less than one week until we hit the debt ceiling, and here's what we have to show for it.
JAY CARNEY, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: There have been constructive talks.
ANA CABRERA, CNN ANCHOR: They're accused of plotting to kidnap husbands and torture them and ask for money. But these aren't your typical thugs. The accused are rabbis.
BLACKWELL: And ever try to use frequent flyer miles for a flight only to find out you are just a few short? Well, JetBlue has a solution in a groundbreaking addition to its loyalty program.
CABRERA: Good morning, everyone. Hope your weekend is off to a great start. I'm Ana Cabrera.
BLACKWELL: And I'm Victor Blackwell. It's 10:00 here on the east coast, 7:00 out west, and you are in the CNN Newsroom.
CABRERA: It's Saturday morning. Do you know where your Congressman is?
BLACKWELL: In this government shutdown, it's day 12, by the way. And you can bet your representatives are hard at work.
CABRERA: CNN's Athena Jones is on the job, as well, on Capitol Hill. And, Athena, we know House Democrats just held a meeting this morning. Tell bus that. -- tell us about that.
ATHENA JONES, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Good morning. They just came to the microphones here not too long ago and told us about the new plan, a plan today to try to force a vote on this spending bill that would reopen the government with no strings attached. This bill already passed the Senate. This is the fight the House Democrats have been fighting all along.
Their hope is to put on the floor -- or they just put on the floor a discharge petition that would require 218 signatures to then try to force a vote on this spending bill. Now, House Democrats say there are enough votes in the House to pass this clean spending bill. They indicate there are plenty of Republicans, certainly enough Republicans, who say they want to vote on a bill that would immediately reopen the government. And so, this -- this petition would allow those House Republicans to put their money where their mouth is.
Now, we asked them -- I asked, do they have any indication they'll get enough signatures from House Republicans? And they acknowledged they don't know for sure that they will. But again, this is their opportunity to try to make sure that these House Republicans step forward and do what they say they've wanted to do.
But that's just the latest plan here, here in the House. On the Senate side, there's a plan to vote today on a bill that would raise the debt ceiling for a year, so-called clean debt limit increase. That doesn't look like it will get enough support either. And so a lot of discussions going on here on the Hill today, but it doesn't look like much that's going to bring the ball forward.
BLACKWELL: Yes, we wonder if those 19 Republicans who said that they would vote for the clean CR, if they vote only if their leadership brings it to the floor. Will they sign this petition to get a vote on the floor for the clean CR? We'll see. Athena Jones, thank you very much.
CABRERA: Over at the White House, there seems to be some mixed messages right now about how much progress is actually being made.
BLACKWELL: First, we hear the lines of communication are open. But then another plan to reopen the government, that's rejected.
CABRERA: So Brianna Keilar is live at the White House to get us squared away. Brianna, is this back-and-forth hurting or helping the process? What do you think?
BRIANNA KEILAR, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Ana, here's the ugly truth, the back-and-forth is the process. This is just sort of how it's going to go. And over the weekend, while the markets are closed, probably no coincidence that the briefing here at the White House yesterday was pushed back repeatedly until it was after the markets closed. And the issue is that President Obama has said he's amenable to a short-term increase of the debt ceiling, but he hasn't committed to exactly how short term he would accept. Republicans had floated this idea of a six-week extension of the debt ceiling. But they weren't dealing with the government shutdown, and that would take us right till, when, right before Thanksgiving when everyone's doing their holiday shopping, and it turns out that is not something that really, I guess, hits the mark for President Obama. We really got the idea yesterday that that is something he will not accept. Here's how he explained it in his weekly radio address.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) BARACK OBAMA, (D) PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Manufacturing crises to extract concessions isn't how our democracy works and we have to stop it. Politics is a battle of ideas, but you advance those ideas through elections and legislation, not extortion.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KEILAR: And so, now, the waiting here at the White House, that's what's going on as a lot of the action is up on Capitol Hill. President Obama waiting to see what Senate Republicans and House Republicans can sort of agree on that might get through both chambers. Right now, a lot of attention on the Senate proposal, which would delay the medical devices tax. That is a part of Obamacare, but it's something that the president told Republicans -- Senate Republicans yesterday when he met with them, he doesn't consider it a core part. So that's sort of a signal he's amenable to maybe some changes there.
And, also, the Senate plan, Ana and Victor, would extend the debt ceiling for -- actually, beyond the election next year, and fund the government for six months. That's something that it sounds like is getting some traction among Senate Republicans and Senate Democrats. But will House Republicans be amenable to it? At this point, we don't know. It seems like a tough sell, and that may require some more adjustments up there.
CABRERA: So there's certainly developments in the House and the Senate.
KEILAR: But just ugly, right?
CABRERA: How they all come together, that's the key.
BLACKWELL: And this is how we make sausage. Brianna Keilar, thank you so much.
KEILAR: Don't look, guys.
BLACKWELL: A falling tree, something serious here, reportedly has killed seven people already as a potentially catastrophic tropical cyclone is bearing down on northeast India. A CNN crew shot this video. Look at this. This is just hours ago along the coast. Landfall is still two hours away, death toll already at seven.
CABRERA: And this storm is a monster. Phailin is more than 1,500 miles wide. That's roughly the distance from Maine to Miami. A storm that's much better than hurricane Sandy. Its winds are equivalent to a strong category 4 hurricane. And it's predicted storm surge could reach 23 feet.
BLACKWELL: Yes, almost 500,000 people have left that area. I want to go to meteorologist Karen Maginnis, in the CNN severe weather center. Karen, this is big. It is not even there yet. And already, the death toll is at seven. How bad could this get? KAREN MAGINNIS, AMS METEOROLOGIST: This is expected to be catastrophic. Will 1999 -- over 10,000 people reported dead. This is equivalent to what we saw, as far as the strength and the size. You look across the Bay of Bengal. It encompasses a good portion of the Bay of Bengal. It is imminent to make landfall. But at this point that really doesn't really matter whether the eye crosses the coast or not at this point. It's just that all of the wind, all of the rain has moved onshore all of the outer bands.
In the Ordicia area, the state right around here, they're expecting as much as a foot of rainfall. The rain comes in, on this northern edge. It comes out, or the rind will be towards the Bay of Bengal on that southern edge. But we're still looking at this not just in the next couple of hours, but over the next day or two to impact this region, with a storm surge, flooding.
They did evacuate hundreds of thousands of people. But this is an area that's very congested with potent potentially millions of people that could or will be affected. It is an agricultural area, an industrial area, and a lot of people are there just to protect their property.
Well, as we look into the next 24 hours, it comes onshore as a strong category four tropical cyclone -- what we would classify on the Saffir-Simpson scale, moves inland, still maintains the category two influence, becomes a tropical storm, and then an area of low pressure. But this is a region vulnerable to flooding, because of the low elevation, and the high concentration of people. Already seven fatalities, as you mentioned.
CABRERA: And two hours from landfall at this point. Thank you, Karen Maginnis, in our CNN severe weather center.
BLACKWELL: And we're going to stay with us, because we've got our New Delhi bureau chief, Lonzo Cook. He is there on the coast. He's going to give us an update on the conditions, how serious people are taking this, and although they might be taking it seriously, do they have the resources to get out of the way of the massive storm? Quick break. We'll talk about it in a moment.
CABRERA: Also still to come in the newsroom, the American people have a message for Congress -- "Get your act together." And they're sending it courtesy of Starbucks.
BLACKWELL: And later, the investigation into the death of Georgia teen Kendrick Johnson. Authorities say it was an accident, but evidence is raising a lot of questions. His parents say he was murdered.
CABRERA: Welcome back.
BLACKWELL: Hey, before the break, we were going to talk to Lonzo Cook, our New Delhi bureau chief there on the northeast coast of India. But because there's so much going on and the storm is on its way in, we lost him. I mean, we know that these things happen during storms. If we get him back, we'll ask him about the conditions there and the people there, and how they're dealing with this approaching huge cyclone. This is tropical cyclone Phailin, 1,500 miles wide, the size of the distance two Maine to Miami. We'll stay on top of this. This could be a catastrophic storm our meteorologist Karen Maginnis tells us.
Now let's go to Orange County, California. A man there is facing terrorism charges this morning. A federal grand jury indicted Sin Vin Go Wynn on one count of attempting to provide material support for Al Qaeda. The FBI says he was arrested while boarding a bus in Mexico. But the indictment did not spell any specifics of his alleged criminal activity.
Three bikers have been indicted in connection with the violent clash involving the SUV driver in New York. You remember the video. This is Craig Wright, Reginald Chance, and then Robert Sims, and all of them are accused of attacking Alexian Lien in front of his wife and child. Four others have been arrested, including one New York police officer who was riding with that group.
And now we are going to go back and talk more about tropical cyclone Phailin. Falling trees reportedly have killed seven people. This potentially catastrophic tropical cyclone is bearing down on northeast India right now, expected to make landfall at 12:00 eastern time. Indian officials, they've been forcing people to get out. They're taking a "no-wait" approach, a "zero-casualty" approach, as they are calling it. They are saying get out even for the people who want to stay put.
BLACKWELL: Let's go to Lonzo Cook, New Delhi Bureau chief. Lonzo, give us an idea of the conditions there now.
ALONZO COOK, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: The winds have increased throughout the day, Victor. In fact, night fell a little earlier than normal here in the Bay of Bengal. Winds have risen, and the rain is really starting to come down.
We were at the coast a short while earlier, at the resort town, and we saw the waves lashing the coast. People had sought refuge, and we went to one local high school where 300 to 500 of the townspeople felt that they could successfully ride out the storm. That's one of the centers, the thousands of centers which are over this large stretch of the coast where government officials say that the local populous will be safe. Victor?
CABRERA: Of course, Lonzo, we know they have been through storms like this before. That's why they're getting out of there as quickly as possible right now. But as far as preparation goes, we know this could be extremely dangerous. Seven people are already dead. There's a huge risk for a 23-foot storm surge, so we're talking about massive flooding, major power outages. Are these folks prepared?
COOK: This is a very poor part of an already developing country, India. It's an agrarian part of the country. And it's really the low-lying areas which are most at risk. Now, in Ganges District, which will bear the brunt of the cyclone, has 3.5 million people, roughly of whom, 500,000 live in the vulnerable, low-lying areas. To the extent they can be prepared, officials seem to have learned some of the lessons of the 1999 disaster where 10,000 people died. And they were concerned that since this part of the Bay of Bengal had several near-misses over the last several years, they fear people could be complacent. But officials were taking no risks. It remains to be seen whether the precautions were sufficient to avoid a large loss of life. But interestingly, you mentioned power cuts. The power actually cut to a lot of the coastal districts as a preventative measure, to prevent dangers from electrocution in the storm's aftermath.
CABRERA: Very interesting. Lonzo Cook, thank you for joining us. Please stay safe.
BLACKWELL: That's an important phrase -- a phase of this to consider. After the storm passes, many of the fatalities are when the structures are compromised and when the flooding increases --
CABRERA: And when people try to venture out --
BLACKWELL: Yes, yes.
CABRERA: -- instead of staying put.
BLACKWELL: So we'll continue to stay on top of that.
You know, a lot of people are trying to send a message to Washington, and Starbucks has a way for them to tell their politicians -- your politician on Capitol Hill -- get the government back up and running, and now. Find out just how many people have signed up already.
CABRERA: Plus, are the Republicans and the president finally finding some common ground? We're discussing the latest proposal to reopen the government and avoid default. Stay with us.
CABRERA: It's the weekend. Hopefully, you're easing into the morning. You have your cup of coffee yet?
BLACKWELL: You can tell the lawmakers in Washington how you feel about the gridlock. Our Nick Valencia is in Atlanta at a Starbucks. The Starbuck they put out a petition for people to tell their lawmakers to get back to work, get the government back and working. How is the petition working out?
NICK VALENCIA, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, all morning, Victor, we've been standing out here in front of this Starbucks in Atlanta. It's part of our message to Washington coverage. And a lot of people here have some very strong opinions about what's happening, this partisan gridlock in Washington. We've been talking a lot of Starbucks customers. One of them is Relford Matthews. We were talking a while ago about this petition. It's the first time you heard about it. Do you think it will work at all? RELFORD MATTHEWS: I don't think it will make a huge difference. I think it's great effort on the part of the CEO of Starbucks, but I think at the end of the day, you have to get out and vote. At the end of the day, the votes, go to Washington, make a difference about who we decide to send there, and I think the House Republicans are a little bitter still over the loss of the election, you know. And I think, you know, this is great effort. But who's going to see it? And who's going to say, let's get government back up and running --
VALENCIA: Relford, it seems there are two sides unwilling to budge. How do you think we got to the government shutdown? Do you put the blame on anyone specifically?
MATTHEWS: I blame the House Republicans, honestly. I think they're still bitter over the loss of the election. Obamacare wasn't, you know, their -- they're still against Obamacare, bottom line. However, we have decided. The people have decided. You know based on the rules of the election. It's clear cut, they should go ahead and approve it, approve the budget so that we can move on and just live our lives like, you know, human beings.
VALENCIA: And this petition has tenets, reopen the government, pay the debts on time, come to a bipartisan agreement. This is Starbucks' message. What's your message, Relford, to the politicians in Washington?
MATTHEWS: Don't let your emotions get the best of you. I think that, you know, yes, you look bad a little bit losing the election. But let's pick up your britches, get back to work. I think a lot of people are relying on government agencies and politicians who make six-figure incomes. You know, it's easy for them to say let's shut things down when they have accounts on top of accounts of money that, you know, we don't have.
VALENCIA: Large disconnect between what's happening in Washington and what's happening here.
VALENCIA: Relford, thank you very much. Already, 1 million people have signed the Starbucks petition. You see some people think it sends a clear message, power in numbers. Others people think it might not do that much good. Ana, Victor, back to you.
CABRERA: Nick, certainly Starbucks is a place where Republicans and Democrats alike maybe blend together, and certainly CEO Howard Schultz hasn't strayed from trying to have a voice in the political debate. We know just a few weeks ago, a few months ago, he was weighing in on the gun debate, saying don't bring your guns into Starbucks locations. Now he is talking about the shutdown and trying to get people activated and motivated to voice their opinions.
VALENCIA: Yes, he certainly is no stranger to throwing himself behind politics. In fact, he spoke yesterday to CNN's Poppy Harlow in New York, and talked to CNN about what he thinks could happen if this partial government shutdown isn't ended soon. Take a listen. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
HOWARD SCHULTZ, STARBUCKS CEO: The consequences are dire. Our standing in the world, the fracturing of consumer confidence, the psyche of the American people, small and large businesses across the country will be significantly affected. No one will be immune.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
VALENCIA: More than 11,000 Starbucks stores nationwide, they average about 20 million customers ever weekend. It's the CEO's hope that every single one of the customers signs this petition. Victor, Ana?
BLACKWELL: All right, Nick Valencia outside of Starbucks in Atlanta. Thank you very much.
A year ago, she was shot in the head by the Taliban for trying to promote girls' education in Pakistan.
And now, she's meeting with President Obama at the White House. That story is next.
CABRERA: Bottom of the hour. Welcome back, everyone. I'm Ana Cabrera.
BLACKWELL: I'm Victor Blackwell. Five stories we're watching this morning --
CABRERA: It's been a busy morning on Capitol Hill. House Democrats giving a press conference, while Republicans just walked out of a rare Saturday meeting behind closed doors, they walked right past the media that was there, waiting to talk to them. Deidre Walsh, Capitol Hill producer, joins us on the phone. Deidre, what did you learn about all of this?
DEIDRE WALSH, CNN CAPITOL HILL PRODUCER: Good morning. House Republican leaders told their members this morning that the president rejected the offer that they gave to lift the debt ceiling and reopen the government. Their proposal didn't reopen the government right away. They're saying now the ball is in the Senate court, and that the president is now negotiating with the Senate. They have a couple of votes this morning on related issues. They probably plan to send their members home. The leadership will stay in town, and say they will continue to try to talk to the president. But they made it clear that the president has potentially frozen out the House Republicans and is talking primarily to the Senate right now.
BLACKWELL: Deidre, there was some hope that the president and the chair of the budget committee, Paul Ryan, could come to some type of agreement moving forward on once the negotiations actually started, aside from the debt ceiling or opening the government, the CR, that they could come to some agreement. That quickly, I guess, fell apart.
WALSH: I think the bottom line is the Republicans' proposal did not reopen the government right away. The president said he's willing to talk about the other issues and talk about a broader budget agreement with Chairman Ryan and other House Republican leader, but he didn't want to do that until they agreed to reopen the government. And they weren't willing to do that in their plan.
Senate Republicans, on the other hand, are increasingly worried about the backlash to the government shutdown. And they want a deal with those issues right away. They have been talking to Senate Democrats and now the president is primarily focused on those discussions.
BLACKWELL: Yes. NBC/"Wall Street Journal" poll shows that favorability of Republicans down to 24 percent, of the Tea Party 21 percent, all-time lows. This is the image we have a few moments ago of the Republican leadership in the House just blowing by the microphones. The last time we saw the leaders blow by a microphone was when they met with the president at the White House. At that time, they decided that they wouldn't come out and blast the president. But at this time, they've decided that negotiations with the president, I guess, are futile, and that has fallen apart again. The president said he won't negotiate.
Let's talk about the Senate plan, though and the potential that this will get support in the House.
WALSH: Well, it's unclear. Several House Republicans leaving the meeting weren't totally clear on what the Senate plan was. They were disappointed that the president wasn't going to talk to them. Even though the House Republican leaders blew by the microphones, House majority leader Eric Cantor did talk to reporters off of off-camera, and expressed disappointment that the president rejected the offer and said the president is trying to see which Republican senator he can pick off. Eric cantor says he hopes the Senate Republicans will stand strong, they could speak with one voice. I think there's still moving parts to that Senate Republican proposal. A lot of conservatives here don't like it because they don't think it deals with Obamacare, which is the one issue -- why we're at this impasse right now.
BLACKWELL: Very quickly, we had at the top of the show that Democrats in the House were taking this --
CABRERA: This petition.
BLACKWELL: Yes, this petition to the floor. That was dead on arrival, right? They weren't going to get the 18 Republicans they needed to pass that, right?
WALSH: No. House Republicans, even those who want to reopen the government, and who vote for a clean funding bill, are not willing to defy their leadership and stand with Democrats on that kind of procedural move. That was clearly sort of a photo opportunity for House Democrats to again reiterate that, you know, they want to stand strong on the vote. But right now the House Republicans have not been willing to break with their leaders and try to force a vote on that bill.
CABRERA: And to bring everybody up to speed on that, you know, that was just this morning where the House Democrats said, we're going to take a petition to all of the House leaders and we're going to ask them to sign this petition that would basically force a vote on the House floor over a clean spending bill, that had no provisions about Obamacare or anything in that. And according to the running tallies, there are some 219, if you include the 19 Republicans and 200 Democrats, who had at least voiced verbally, saying that they would support a clean spending bill. But at this point it sounds like, you know, over the last 36 hours, that we'd hoped there would be progress, we have just taken a huge step back, Deidre, is that right?
WALSH: Well, I think it was always the case the 200 Democrats in the House were going to stand strong and say they would try to force the vote. But even those House moderate Republicans who want to reopen the government can decide what their leadership on the procedural votes, and they were not willing to do that. So we --
BLACKWELL: Go ahead.
WALSH: They will not be able to force a vote on the hill.
BLACKWELL: Deidre Walsh, our Capitol Hill producer, thank you for getting the latest as Majority Leader Cantor says Obama's rejected the House GOP offer and now the president likely moving to the Senate to talk about this deal that they're trying to put together there. We'll continue to follow it.
Of course, on Capitol Hill, both the House and Senate are wrangling with the various aspects of the shutdown. We saw the latest here with the House. And President Obama and House Speaker John Boehner spoke last night by phone.
CABRERA: And both pledged to keep on talking at the very least. We want to talk to Maria Cardona, CNN political commentator and Democratic strategist. She's joined by Will Cain, also a CNN political commentator and conservative columnist at "The Blaze." All right, so, let's start with you, Maria. Will Speaker Boehner hold his speakership over reopening the government? What's your perspective about how he's doing as far as being the leader of the House right now?
MARIA CARDONA, DEMOCRATIC STRATEGIST: Ana, I don't think that there is any other person that I feel more sorry about right now than Speaker Boehner. He is in an impossible position, because he has a small group of very conservative Tea Party members who are really not willing to do what's in the best interests of the whole country right now, and frankly, what the majority -- the vast majority -- of Americans want their legislators to do, which is to get to a deal that opens the government, reopens the government immediately, and then talks about the long-term budget issues.
BLACKWELL: But Maria --
CARDONA: That's exactly the same position President Obama and the Democrats have.
BLACKWELL: How do you get there if the president says over and over I will not negotiate? You can't get to compromise unless you get to negotiating first.
CARDONA: Well, I think what Speaker Boehner needs to do, frankly, and it's so ironic that they talk about how they are listening to the American people when they're obsessed with defunding, delaying, or getting rid of Obamacare, when frankly the majority of the American people don't want to do that if it means getting -- if it means defaulting, and if it means keeping the government shut.
So Speaker Boehner needs to actually really listen to the majority of the American people and look at the "Wall Street Journal" poll from yesterday that said 70 percent of Americans believe that Republicans are putting their own self-interests first and their own ideology first before the interests of the country. That's a dangerous position for the Republican Party to be in right now.
And I think Speaker Boehner understands this. He's trying to listen to his caucus. But I think in his heart of hearts, he wants to do the right thing. And President Obama, frankly, has never said he won't negotiate. He just wants to negotiate with the --
CABRERA: Maria, we have to give Will a chance --
CABRERA: Excuse me, Maria, we need to get Will into the conversation, too. What do you think about what Maria just said in putting blame on the Republicans in this whole situation?
WILL CAIN, COLUMNIST, "THE BLAZE": Well, first of all, I'd love to answer the question about Speaker Boehner. Let's be honest. Speaker Boehner, I think, has done a great job. The bottom line is that he's had a situation where it's hard to identify an achievable goal and have the leverage to execute that goal. However, Speaker Boehner's problems aren't within the Republican caucus.
If Maria is right that the American people want to put the government shutdown behind us and want to see long-term solutions to the fiscal problem, we need to look at the squarely point of President Obama. It's been an all-too-easy narrative at this point that this is all the Republicans' part. According to Politico just about an hour ago, right, the Republicans came out of a closed-door meeting within their caucus, and the story is, we know some of this has been verified, the Republicans offered a deal to raise the debt ceiling and reopen the government on Thursday, and all they asked for, all they asked for is the potential to change structural entitlement reform, long-term structural problem, and for that, they would relook at the sequester.
President Obama rejected that because he wanted something. He wanted more revenue. If the government is shut down, and President Obama isn't the one making positive requests, who is the one holding America hostage? Who is making the most of this situation.
CABRERA: Wait a minute now. This now began over Obamacare, remember? And that's where the whole government shutdown began. What I'm hearing from you is this isn't about Obamacare anymore. We've moved past Obamacare. It's all about debt and figuring out ways to cut spending. And to prevent -- so -- so is Obamacare a lost cause? Was that not really what the goal was to begin with?
CAIN: Ana, as a principle, many of us, most of us, would like to do something to address Obamacare. Look, you must recognize reality. That is a near-impossible, unachievable goal, because this is the president's signature legislation. You can maybe trim the edges with the medical device tax and things like that.
The reason I told you solution to the problem, the Republican proposal, is because it begins to get to the terms of achievable. Addressing entitlement reform appears to be achievable. However now President Obama has affirmative demands. To reopen the government, he wants more tax revenue. We have to revisit the premises. While Obamacare isn't on the table, President Obama has demands.
CARDONA: But from what I heard, the Republican position does not -- the Republican offer does not open the government immediately, and that is what the president has a problem with. And that --
CAIN: What that mean, Maria --
CARDONA: It makes us revisit the whole issue in terms of raising the debt ceiling in November, which is also ridiculous because we'll go through this yet again in three weeks.
BLACKWELL: We have to -- we have to end this. I wish we had more time. But, Maria, Will, thank you very much. We'll, of course, get the latest from this call between the House Republican leadership and President Obama, and get the tick-tock on all of that. Thank you very much.
BLACKWELL: Up next, the parents of a teenage early found dead in a high school gym mat. They're demanding justice after a CNN investigation uncovers something almost unspeakable. It left them speechless. His organs were missing. His body was stuffed with newspaper. Our exclusive report next.
CABRERA: Kendrick Johnson would have turned 18 this week, but something tragic happened and his life ended far too soon.
BLACKWELL: Kendrick was the young man whose body was found inside a rolled-up gym mat in his high school in Georgia. His death was first ruled an accident by authorities. But now a closer examination of the evidence is raising a lot of questions. Here's our exclusive report.
BLACKWELL: It's the second time Jacqueline Johnson cried next to her son Kendrick's grave. The first time, he was being lowered into the ground. This time, he's being pulled out of it.
Did you ever expect you'd have to exhume his body?
JACQUELYN JOHNSON, MOTHER: No, I didn't expect to have to bury his body.
BLACKWELL: In June, Kendrick's body was sent to Florida. The Johnsons hired Dr. Bill Anderson to conduct a second independent autopsy. In that autopsy, Anderson told the Johnson's he found evidence that he dried as a result of a blow to the neck and not accidental asphyxia after slipping into a rolled gym mat in school as investigators in Georgia had said. But what Dr. Anderson did not find shocked him.
BILL ANDERSON, PATHOLOGIST: When we got the body for the second autopsy, the organs -- the heart, lungs, liver, et cetera -- were not with the body.
BLACKWELL: The brain?
ANDERSON: The brain, they were all absent.
BLACKWELL: Every organ from the top of Kendrick's head to his pelvis gone, and his family had no idea.
KENNETH JOHNSON, FATHER: We have been let down again. And when we buried Kendrick, we thought we was burying Kendrick, not half of Kendrick.
ANDERSON: I'm not sure at this point who did not return the organs to the body, but I know when we got the body, the organs were not there.
BLACKWELL: So CNN contacted the two entities that had custody of Kendrick's body and access to his organs -- the Georgia Bureau of Investigations, which conducted the first autopsy in January, and Harrington Funeral Home, which the Johnsons chose to embalm and prepare Kendrick's body for burial days later. A spokeswoman for the state tells CNN after its autopsy the organs were placed in Johnson's body, the body was closed, then the body was released to the funeral home. State investigators say it's their normal practice. But what happened after his body arrived at the funeral home was anything but normal.
What was in place of the organs?
BLACKWELL: Newspaper. Dr. Anderson showed me the pictures of Kendrick's body he'd taken during the second autopsy.
It's a black Friday ad, J.C. Penney ad.
JOHNSON: Stuffed him with newspaper, like he was a garbage can, inside his body. It's unbelievable.
BLACKWELL: I'd imagine that that's a different kind of pain.
JOHNSON: Yes. BLACKWELL: Why do you think that there would be newspaper stuffed in your child?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I never heard of that before, never.
BLACKWELL: Neither had the founder of a national embalming academy contacted by CNN who said it's not consistent with the standards of care in the industry. Nor had the president of the National Association of Medical Examiners, who told CNN he's never heard of this practice.
Why would the funeral home discard his organs and stuff him with newspaper?
KENNETH JOHNSON: The question is -- why did he tell us?
BLACKWELL: So what exactly did the Harrington Funeral Home do with Kendrick's organs, and why was he stuffed with old newspaper? We went to their office to find out, but their response to us -- "No comment." However, in a letter to the Johnsons' attorney, Harrington Funeral Home owner, Antonio Harrington, denies he received Kendrick's organs. He writes, in part, "His internal organs were destroyed through natural process, and henceforth, was destroyed before the body was sent back to Valdosta." It's another disappointing answer for parents who want to know what happened to their son before, and now after, his death. And they admit they're struggling.
JOHNSON: It's unbearable, just about. Only thing that wakes you up in the morning is you keep pushing.
CABRERA: Wow, incredible job reporting on this, Victor. There are still so many question, obviously, left unanswered right now. We learned there are surveillance pictures from the gym where Kendrick's body was found.
BLACKWELL: There are -- there is surveillance inside the gym. And although you saw that story, just think now there is a camera -- four cameras inside the gym. We know that authorities looked at those cameras because they sent us these images.
Ask this question -- if authorities watched the vid video, if they watched the surveillance, and they saw Kendrick walk into that mat and get stuck, why was there then a four and a half month investigation? If you could have watched him go in on surveillance on day one, why then interview students all the way up to as late as April 26th? Why then test forensic evidence as late as may 2nd if on day one you had access to the cameras, and you see that they actually looked at the data on those. If you had video of him, then there's no reason to continue this long investigation that's been going on.
CABRERA: We have just the few images.
BLACKWELL: Just those few.
CABRERA: You think they have more.
BLACKWELL: Yes. The question is, did they see that on camera?
CABRERA: A lot to find out.
BLACKWELL: Yes, indeed. And we will.
CABRERA: Coming up, JetBlue has a new plan. Here's a hint. It involves frequent flyer miles, and big news right after the break.
BLACKWELL: JetBlue knows the way to a traveler's heart -- through their frequent flyer miles.
CABRERA: The airline has just announced a plan that would let flyers pool their miles. And how does it work? What does it mean for your next vacation? We have travel expert Mark Murphy join us now. Mark, how do we pool the miles? Why would you want to do that?
MARK MURPHY, TRAVEL EXPERT: Well, most fliers are leisure traveler, especially with JetBlue, a leisure travel airline. They don't fly enough to have frequent flier programs, even make sense for them. So by being able to pool them together, at least if you fly once or twice a year, you can steal your friends' or family members' miles and pool it and book your own free ticket. That's probably the only way it will happen.
BLACKWELL: When we say pool, you mean that all of the JetBlue miles, I can't just say, hey, I have 1,000, 1,500 Delta mile, can you give me credit? All of the JetBlue miles in your family.
MURPHY: Exactly. Yes, just JetBlue.
MURPHY: And you have to have a designated head of Household, and the designated head of Household controls the miles. And the members can contribute anywhere from 10 percent to 100 percent of their miles to that pool. That's how that works.
CABRERA: Do you think other airlines will follow suit and do something similar?
MURPHY: I think the airlines all look at it. You know, it really comes down to competition. There's not a lot of competition on domestic routes anymore. So I think they'll look at the fact that you don't have to have points expire, I think that's important. I like that as far as this goes. A lot of times expire. JetBlue eliminated the mileage.
BLACKWELL: Mark Murphy, thank you for introducing the pooling program from JetBlue.
MURPHY: Exactly, thank you.
BLACKWELL: Next, we are live with Carlos Diaz in Texas.
CABRERA: He has the very latest on one of college football's greatest rivalries, as we come back.
BLACKWELL: That's a pretty nice flag.
CABRERA: The Rivalry Express shifts into high gear to bring you some of the biggest college football match-ups across the country.
Carlos Diaz joins us from live from Dallas where the Texas Longhorns take on the Oklahoma Sooners. Big game, Carlos.
CARLOS DIAZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT: It's the biggest one we've had so far. It's the Red River rivalry. They play it every year at the Texas state fair. And they've been playing it at the Texas state fair, the Cotton Bowl, since 1929. There's 92,000 fans, and it's a rivalry 364 days in the making.
They started playing this rivalry 108 years ago, each team traveling three hours from their respective schools. Oklahoma coming from Norman, Texas coming from Austin. And of course you have a three-game winning streak from the Sooners, blowing out the Longhorns 63-21 last year. It's such a big game, they're playing for three trophies, the Golden Hat, the Red River Rivalry trophy, and the Governor's trophy.
Turning to baseball now, Carlos Beltran provided all of the offense for the Cardinals against the Dodgers. Beltran doubled into right center into the bottom of the third. He scored both runners. And the game would remain tied at 2-2 until the 13th inning. And two on for Beltran again, and he delivers again, this time with a walk-off single. The Cardinals win last night, 3-2. Game two of that game this afternoon on TBS at 4:00. And of course game one of the tigers taking on the Red Sox is around 8:00 eastern tonight.
I'm telling you right now, this is the biggest rivalry we've had so far. It's the Sooners taking on the Longhorns. You don't want to be on the 50 yard line for this game, because they split the stadium right down the middle, and you have fans, they're jostling, going right each other on the 50 yard line. You want to be away from that a little bit, you know? That's firsthand knowledge. By the way, try the fried barbecue peanut butter and jelly sandwiches next time.
BLACKWELL: Oh, I will pass on that!
CABRERA: No wonder he has so much energy this morning.
BLACKWELL: Carlos Diaz, thank you very much.
CABRERA: That'll do it for us today. Thank you so much for being here.
BLACKWELL: Stay right here. Newsroom continues with Miguel Marquez. Miguel, my friend, how are you?
MIGUEL MARQUEZ, CNN ANCHOR: Very good. How are you?
BLACKWELL: Very well.