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President Obama Travels to Malaysia; Search for Flight 370; Interview with Steve Wang; Connecticut Teen Killed on Prom Day; NRA Holds Annual Convention; Georgia Passes New Gun Law

Aired April 26, 2014 - 07:00   ET


VICTOR BLACKWELL, CNN ANCHOR: New this morning, President Obama arrives in Malaysia for an historic trip. The first American president to visit in nearly 50 years and it comes exactly 50 days after Flight 370 vanished.

CHRISTI PAUL, CNN ANCHOR: An honor student, class president, viciously attacked in the hallway of her own school. Now questions about her killer's motive. Was this all over school prom?

BLACKWELL: And the NRA, the big meeting in Indianapolis. They are firing back at critics and bringing out the big gun in the Republican Party.

PAUL: And a rare twister hits the (INAUDIBLE) state. This is only the beginning, though, folks. We have new warnings this morning about a violent weekend that's coming to all of us here.

Well, grab your oatmeal or your cup of choice this morning, whatever it might be, because we are on a mission to make sure you are informed for the day.

I'm Christi Paul.

BLACKWELL: I'm Victor Blackwell. We both had oatmeal this morning.

PAUL: Yes.

BLACKWELL: 7:00 here on the East Coast, 4:00 out West. NEW DAY SATURDAY. And we want to start this morning with this historic trip, as we said at the top of the show. President Obama is getting that red carpet welcome in Malaysia.

PAUL: Yes. He arrived in Kuala Lumpur just a little while ago. Nearly seven weeks, though, when you think about it, to the day since Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 took off from that very same city and just vanished.

BLACKWELL: And the president says he remains fully committed to the search for the missing plane and the 239 people aboard it. But his trip is being dogged by this growing crisis in Ukraine.

President Obama is warning Russia to get ready for more sanctions.

PAUL: Want to bring in CNN's Will Ripley now. He's in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.

Will, so we thought it was the big welcoming ceremony for President Obama. What's on his agenda today there in Kuala Lumpur first and foremost?

WILL RIPLEY, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, Christi, Victor, you guys used the words red carpet welcome just now and that's exactly what's also in the front page of the local paper here. President Obama truly is a superstar in Malaysia. They are very excited to have the first U.S. president in 48 years visiting. And there's a lot of -- there's going to be a lot of events happening celebrating his visit. And that will happen with a state dinner later tonight.

We know the president is at his hotel right now. He'll be leaving a little over an hour to head over to the state dinner where he -- is expected to make some remarks. You can -- you can expect to hear the president talk about a lot of key issues, trade being one of them. Counterterrorism being another. And also MH-370 as well.

The president is going to use this platform as an opportunity where he'll be broadcast live to millions of people here in Malaysia and around the world on CNN. He's going to use that opportunity to express the condolences of the United States and also push forward the agenda of searching for solutions so that the world can learn something to prevent another 370 from ever happening again.

BLACKWELL: Hey, Will. I don't know if it was wit that paper that you just held up, but the president spoke with a paper about the U.S. commitment to searching for this jet. What did it say?

RIPLEY: He said that the United States wants to continue to invest resources and there are already a lot of U.S. assets in place assisting with this search, including the Bluefin-21, the key piece of equipment, that underwater drone that is mapping out the ocean floor, trying to find any trace of the data recorders. The search, by the way, which has been so far unsuccessful. And with the search area almost fully complete. They're now going to have to expand the search area north.

So the president is going to say that the United States is committed to helping the Malaysian government along with all of the other countries in this coalition a search for 370 in addition to offering, again, just the condolences of the United States on behalf of all the people here who feel for the Malaysians and others in Asia, the Chinese and many others, who have been touched so closely by this tragedy.

PAUL: Will, give -- is there a sense there that with President Obama being there, that his presence is going to put more pressure on the Malaysian government regarding this search? I mean, they have really been under fire for not being -- especially by the families who say they're not being more transparent?

RIPLEY: Absolutely, Christi. And that has really complicated the president's visit here because remember, when you get down to it, the reason why we have a sitting U.S. president the first time in nearly five decades here in Malaysia is because this trade deal that the president is trying to hammer out where he has seen so far limited success, by the way, in the Asia Pacific region, most notably there was a setback in Japan where they didn't reach a deal.

So the president is here to try to convince Malaysia to get into the fold as Malaysia also faces competition from China which is trying to sell its own trade deal separate from the United States. And so you have the president on stage with the prime minister and you have this government that has been criticized so widely for the way that it handled MH-370, and here's President Obama trying to convince the world that the Malaysian government is ready for prime time when there are some real questions about transparency and other issues especially in relation to the missing plane.

BLACKWELL: And, quickly, Will, if you can, North Korea and Kim Jong- Un making some -- some news about this possible rocket test? Also this American man who, I guess, tore up his visa and allegedly seeking asylum there in North Korea. What do we know about the role that play in the president's visit.

RIPLEY: Well, it just goes to show that the climate here in the Asian Pacific region is somewhat unsettled right now because you have Pyongyang threatening another nuclear test which the president has said on this trip would only further isolate North Korea from the rest of the world more than it already is.

You have that defector, which we're still working to get more information about that but supposedly somebody who went to North Korea seeking asylum, and then you have a president who's trying to portray a good image of the United States, trying to get this trade deal push through, trying to secure an agreement on counterterrorism and other security issues and the region is certainly -- I wouldn't say the region is in turmoil, but it's definitely unsettled in some areas at the moment.

PAUL: All right, hey, Will Ripley, thank you so much for bringing us the very latest from Kuala Lumpur. We appreciate it.

BLACKWELL: Of course the president right now in Kuala Lumpur. Not a region we talk about often except for the last 50 days.

PAUL: Right.

BLACKWELL: It's been the center of this investigation into Flight 370, and now the search for the black boxes using this Bluefin, it's wrapping up there at the South Indian Ocean.

PAUL: Yes. Seven weeks. Think about it, seven weeks of surface then deep sea scans. And nothing, no wreckage has been found. Meanwhile, the high-tech on the water sub, as Victor mentioned, the Bluefin-21 is expected to complete its 14th ` mission at anytime now. A U.S. Navy source tells CNN that if the robot doesn't find any debris, search crews do plan to shift their focus slightly north.

BLACKWELL: Yes. Let's learn more about that shift.

CNN's Erin McLaughlin is in Perth, Australia with the latest.

What are we learning about the next phase of this search, Erin?

ERIN MCLAUGHLIN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Hi, Victor. As of this morning the Bluefin-21 had searched about 95 percent of that refined search area. Basically the best guess as to where the black box may be based on a series of calculations, really analysis of that second ping that that towed pinger locator had picked up. What they've been doing is they've been searching in a six-mile radius around that ping.

But now with most of that area ruled out, authorities have begun to talk about potential -- where they're going to go next. We understand the Bluefin-21 is going to be searching the area adjacent according to the U.S. Navy, slightly north, more towards the first wing that was picked up. So those are -- the initial next steps. We understand Australian and Malaysian authorities are currently hammering out a longer term deal agreement based on the Malaysians proposal calling for more underwater submersibles to be -- to be brought in at broader search area.

And we understand that deal is expected to be reached within the week at which point we could perhaps hear more details about the next phase or longer-term search operation.

BLACKWELL: All right, Erin McLaughlin there for us in Perth, Australia.

Erin, thank you so much.

PAUL: So think about it. It's been seven weeks of agony for these families. I mean, that's what it comes down to for a lot of people watching this. These families who are still waiting to just get any information about what happened.

BLACKWELL: We have Steve Wang with us. His mother was on board the missing jet.

Stephen, I -- in prep of this, I read about you, I read about your mom, and I just cannot imagine. Of course, our thoughts are with you and your family. I read that early on you were unable to speak your mother's name, to write your mother's name in relation to this. Has that changed? Are those feelings still as strong now in day 50?

STEVE WANG, MOTHER WAS IN FLIGHT 370: Well, it is real hard. And you know, I am afraid to go back home. I'm afraid to look at any picture and things about her. I'm afraid of talking her name and anything about her. Every time I think about it, I would cry. I'm very sorry about it. But I don't want to tell it now.

BLACKWELL: All right.

PAUL: Stephen, what -- what do you think she would say to you in this moment, in these moments that you are waiting?

WANG: Maybe she would say to be strong. She is proud of me. BLACKWELL: I know that it is difficult to be strong. We thank you for being with us. I want to get your reaction to something that the Malaysian prime minister told our Richard Quest in this exclusive interview earlier this week and we'll talk on the other side. Listen.


RICHARD QUEST, CNN AVIATION CORRESPONDENT: Prime Minister, are you prepared to say that the plane and its passengers are lost?

NAJIB RAZAK, MALAYSIAN PRIME MINISTER: At some point in time I would be. But not --


RAZAK: Right now, I think I need to take into account the feelings of the next of kin. And some of them have said publicly that they're not willing to accept it until they find hard evidence.


BLACKWELL: One month prior to that, he stood in front of the world and said that Flight 370 ended in the South Indian Ocean. How do you reconcile those two statements from the prime minister, Stephen?

WANG: Well, on the first, at March 24th, it is totally irresponsible simply from one source, from Inmarsat. For one calculation to give such a conclusion, you know? It is a clue, as I said, the clues were a result. But only the clues cannot be transferred as result. And it is what I believe even now. You know, you have to search, you have to find out what happens. But it is still not a time to give a result since, you know, there are no results until now. Nothing was found. There is some direct evidence we will stop. But if there are nothing, we will just keep on searching.

PAUL: Stephen, I'm sure you know Sarah Bajc, the partner of another passenger on this flight. She said she wanted to take questions directly to Boeing shareholders. You all got together and formulated 26 questions that you want answered. And Boeing is the target of one or two of those. Do you know anything about a plan to hear from them?

WANG: I'm sorry, the question, I haven't --


PAUL: Do you know anything about whether you will hear from Boeing or about what's going to happen at this shareholder meeting coming up?

WANG: Yes. Well, you know, as the producer, I think Boeing should be very familiar with all the systems on the plane and how -- all the things about how it works. And when we asked Malaysia Airlines, they cannot understand or they cannot give us an answer, the exact answer. But as a producer, we want Boeing to give an exact answer about the communication system, about the satellite phone, about the ELT and any other system which could help to locate the plane.

We want Boeing to provide us more information for both all the relatives and for the (INAUDIBLE) team to find the plane.

BLACKWELL: Do you believe your mother is still alive?

WANG: Well, I have to say, I'm not sure. There are 99 percent is a bad result. But if there is only 1 percent, we will keep on with it.

PAUL: What does your gut tell you?

WANG: Maybe.

PAUL: Maybe? Well, Steve Wang, you know, the world is watching. And I hope you all know that the world is also thinking of you and praying for you. We cannot imagine what this is like for you. We are so grateful that you would take the time to talk to us this morning. Thank you.

WANG: Thanks.

PAUL: Best of luck to you.


BLACKWELL: We would all in that position hold on to that 1 percent.

PAUL: Yes.

BLACKWELL: Hold on that 1 percent.

PAUL: You've got to show me something.


PAUL: Before I'm not going to believe.

BLACKWELL: Fifty days and nothing? That's not going to be enough for these families. I don't think it will be enough for any family.

PAUL: By any means.

BLACKWELL: Speaking of families, one is waking up this morning with heartbreak. They are planning to send this girl off to the junior prom last night but before she made it to the prom, 16 years old, stabbed to death at her school. We're looking into the possible motive here.

PAUL: And the teen accused of stabbing 21 people in Pennsylvania in a high school there has been charged. We have some new details for you here next. Stay close.


BLACKWELL: Seventeen after the hour now. Investigators in Connecticut are trying to figure out the motive behind a deadly attack on a 16-year-old honor student. This happened yesterday at a school in Milford just a few miles from Newtown where 26 people were killed at Sandy Hook Elementary in 2012. PAUL: Yes. Police say Maren Sanchez was slashed several times at the hands of a classmate.

We're going bring in CNN's Nick Valencia.

This scares me besides the fact obviously that she died, but in school, with a knife.


PAUL: As many times as she was hit in the face and then the chest, right?


VALENCIA: 7:00 in the morning, this happened in the hallway at the school.

PAUL: Yes.

VALENCIA: Which is -- incredible circumstances there. This whole school, they should have been at their junior prom yesterday. Maren Sanchez should have been at her junior prom last night. The event was canceled. And investigators are looking into the possibility that she may have been killed because she refused to go to prom with her alleged attacker.


VALENCIA (voice-over): Police say high school junior Maren Sanchez was attacked by a classmate. She was slashed in the neck, chest, and face. They say the attack happened in the stairwell at her school around 7:00 in the morning. Staff members and first responders tried to save her life, but she was pronounced dead about an hour later at a local hospital. The school community is devastated.

DR. ELIZABETH FESER, MILFORD SCHOOL SUPERINTENDENT: Vibrant, very, very involved in Jonathan Law High School, an incredible contributor, someone who was loved and respected by both her peers as well as her students.

VALENCIA: Investigators recovered a knife at the scene. A 16-year- old male is being held at a local medical facility and a murder charge is pending. Police haven't determined a motive. The police chief cautioned against any speculation, including the idea that the boy was angry because Sanchez had refused his invitation to the prom.

CHIEF KEITH MELLO, MILFORD POLICE: We've heard those stories or that information. Whether or not that's rumor or whether or not that's fact, we don't know. And so I think it's important that no one here and no one out here speculate on these rumors.

VALENCIA: The victim's cousin read a statement from the family.

EDWARD KOVAC, MAREN SANCHEZ'S COUSIN: Maren should be celebrating at her prom this evening with her friends and classmates. Instead, we are mourning her death and we are trying as a community to understand this senseless loss of life.

VALENCIA: The school's prom scheduled for last night was postponed. Family and friends held a vigil at a nearby church and hundreds of people gathered at a local beach to release balloons. Purple was Maren Sanchez's favorite color. Her classmates are heartbroken.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: She was very nice. She was gorgeous, too.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: She was amazing. She did everything right. Everybody loved her. She was always -- she was always smiling.


VALENCIA: The community there in Connecticut, you can see, devastated. A very popular young girl, Maren Sanchez. I just watched a video actually before coming up here, a YouTube clip of her singing a song, a talented song writer, guitar player. A lot of people there missing her.


PAUL: My goodness. Yes. I can't imagine what it does to those young kids.

BLACKWELL: Absolutely. On the night of the prom.

PAUL: Yes. Nick, thank you so much.

BLACKWELL: Nick Valencia.

VALENCIA: You got it.

BLACKWELL: Thank you.

The suspect in another school stabbing earlier this month has been charged with 21 counts of attempted homicide. His name Alex (INAUDIBLE). He's accused of stabbing 20 students and an adult in Pennsylvania. Although two of the victims are still in the hospital, no one died in the attack. The teen has been denied bond. The criminal complaint said the suspect allegedly shouted during the attack, "My work is not done, I have more people to kill."

And authorities, looking through his locker found a document dated three days before the mass stabbing and it says, "I can't wait to see the priceless and helpless looks on the faces of the students of one of the best schools in Pennsylvania that realize previous lives are going to be taken by the one and only among them that isn't a plebeian."

PAUL: Well, the National Rifle Association meets with of course the presidential election in its sights. Another challenge, though, looming in its shadow. We're going to explain.


BLACKWELL: The annual meeting of the National Rifle Association is under way. And members are already looking ahead to the 2016 presidential race and what they see as a potential threat to their gun rights.

PAUL: They also face a challenge, though, you know, at the end of the day, that looms closer. A new gun control campaign bankrolled by former New York mayor, Michael Bloomberg.

CNN's Alexandra Field joins us live from New York.

Good morning, Alexandra.

ALEXANDRA FIELD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Good morning, Christi and Victor. The NRA weekend is considered an important stop for potential Republican presidential candidates as well as other high-profile Republicans that, of course, gives them a big platform. At the kick off this weekend, they work heavy on criticism of the Obama administration's stand on gun policy as well as an effort to drum up support for a change in 2016.


SEN. MARCO RUBIO, (R) FLORIDA: Your current president should take comfort because in 32 months, he can return home to live in the anti- gun utopia that is Chicago.

RICK SANTORUM (R), FORMER PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: We are gun owners, all of us. We like to shoot. We like to hunt. And very importantly, we like to protect ourselves, our families and our homes.

GOV. BOBBY JINDAL, (R) LOUISIANA: The same liberal extremists that want to come take our guns are the same forces that want to take away our religious liberty, are the same forces that don't think we're smart enough to pick our health insurance products, are the same forces that don't think we're not smart enough to decide what sodas we want to drink or what foods we want to eat.


FIELD: Wayne LaPierre, the NRA's executive vice president, also took the stage. He was there to rally the crowd and he also showed a video launching the NRA's official response to a new gun control effort launched by former New York City Michael -- Mayor Michael Bloomberg. Take a look at this video.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Michael Bloomberg says he has $50 million to attack my gun rights. Well, I have $25 to protect them.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I've got $25 too.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He's one guy with millions. We're millions with our 25 bucks.


FIELD: All right. You can see the NRA there, ready to go toe-to-toe with every town for gun safety. That's the name of the new effort launched by former mayor, Michael Bloomberg. The organization says it is devoted to making the political climate more friendly to gun control policies.

The convention for the NRA lasts through the weekend. It's expected to draw 70,000 people -- Christi, Victor.

PAUL: Alrighty, Alexandra Field, thank you so much.

BLACKWELL: So it's nearing transition time in the search for Flight 370 because any minute now the Bluefin-21 could return to the surface after searching more than 95 percent of that search area. But will it be able to find the wreckage from Flight 370 and what happens next if the underwater scan turns up with nothing?

PAUL: Plus, I know it's the weekend and you want to get outside but there is a major weather threat moving across the southern half of the country. The damage already left behind. We're going to show you that and what's ahead in the next 24 hours.


PAUL: We have your mortgage update, rates are down this week. Take a look.


PAUL: It is 31 minutes past the hour right now. So glad to have your company. I'm Christi Paul.

BLACKWELL: I'm Victor Blackwell. Let's start this half with five things you need to know for your NEW DAY.

PAUL: Yes, number one, U.S. jobs, trade and the hunt for the missing Malaysian jet liner. That's what tops the agenda of President Obama's visit from Malaysia today. He's the first American president to visit the country in nearly half a century. He arrived as the search for Flight 370 may shift north in the Indian ocean now. The president says the U.S. is still fully committed to the search, which is now, by the way, in its 50th day.

BLACKWELL: Number two now. There is a pause in the search for more victims of South Korea's ferry disaster. Bad weather off the coast of Jindo Island has suspended that mission to the sunken ship. The death toll this morning, 187. Still more than 100 others missing.

PAUL: Number three, funnel clouds and tornado warnings spun their way through parts of the southeast and forecasters say more dangerous weather is coming. We just want you to be prepared here. Severe winds, thunderstorms ripped apart homes. This was in eastern North Carolina. Local authorities say at least two tornadoes did indeed touchdown. The severe weather forecast today across the plains and the deep south. So do be careful. BLACKWELL: Number four, Columbia University students are criticizing the way officials handle sexual assault on the campus and at nearby Barden College. Twenty-three students have filed a complaint with the U.S. Department of Education. They claimed university officials fail to protect victims and discourage the reporting of incidents. Columbia says it has not seen the complaint and cannot comment.

PAUL: Number five, federal prosecutors are close to announcing criminal charges against New York Congressman Michael Grimm. This is according to U.S. officials. Now the FBI has been investigating Grimm's business dealings and his 2010 campaign.

You might remember Grimm. He may be best known as that lawmaker who threatened to throw a reporter off a capitol balcony after the reporter asked about illegal campaign donations.

BLACKWELL: So now 50 days, 50 days into the search for missing Malaysia Airlines Flight 370, investigators, they'd be right back where they started, essentially. That high-tech underwater search robot 95 percent finished scanning its initial search area.

PAUL: And after more than a dozen missions, if you think about it, a dozen missions, the Bluefin-21, it just hasn't found anything of significance.

BLACKWELL: Australian authorities now say that if the AUV turns up nothing, they're going to shift the robot to the north of the current zone in hopes of locating that missing jetliner.

PAUL: Want to bring in Kit Darby. He's a retired United Airlines captain. And on the phone Roy Truman. He's a senior vice president and director of Marine Operations for Odyssey Marine Exploration.

Gentlemen, thank you both so much for being here.

Roy, let me start with you real quickly. Do you think it's the right move to move the search north if we find nothing by the end of today and what do we do about the air search? Do you keep these planes in the air?

ROY TRUMAN, ODYSSEY MARINE EXPLORATION: Yes, good morning. Yes, I think it's a good move to move north. You know, soonest they have finished in the present search area, they are limited in which direction they can go because of the depth limitation of the AUV. So north is a good way -- a good direction to go. And they did also hear pings in that direction. So definitely they will continue using that asset while they bring other assets into the area to do deeper searching.

With regards to the aircraft, I think by now probably it's not really productive to continue the air search. It's been so long, the currents and the winds will have dispersed any wreckage that was floating or it's become waterlogged and sunk anyway. So I think they are better advised to put their resources into bringing more vessels and more underwater assets. BLACKWELL: Captain Darby, let me come to you with this. The Malaysians say that they are going to release a public report, the initial report on the disappearance soon. It's kind of a two parter. What would you want to see in that report and how much of what you want to see do you think is really going to be in it?

KIT DARBY, PRESIDENT, KITDARBY.COM AVIATION CONSULTING: What I'd like to see are some hard facts about where this airplane is and I'm afraid there's so little information that the report -- and that may be one of the reasons they haven't released it. It's hard for it to have any concrete conclusions without the facts to base them on. So while I'd love to see the report, I'm afraid the basis for it is not too strong.

PAUL: Captain Darby, based on what we know and what we have been told, do you believe that they're searching in the right area?

DARBY: Well, I was very optimistic. When we had the two pings, you know, two boxes, two pings, each at lower frequencies, and it -- it's certainly the best information we have so far, although I do like further north as well because I feel initially this military radar information from both countries show that an airplane went down, went back up. That would use gas and shorten its range. So I've always felt like if we had to go anywhere, it would be further north.

BLACKWELL: Roy, so the Bluefin-21 is obviously not the only autonomous underwater vehicle. We know that there is the REMUS, there's the Remora, there's the Orion. Do you think the Bluefin was the right one to start with?

TRUMAN: Yes, it was the one that was immediately available. It's run by U.S. Navy contractors and it's a fly away system. So it was able to be on site fairly quickly. There are other assets, the REMUS is a deeper AUV so they search maybe to the south or east and west a bit, their present search area, and I think they should bring other assets in also. Towed systems assign each asset to a certain area and broaden the search and come up with results in a more quicker fashion.

PAUL: Gentlemen, Sarah Bajc, she's been one of the most familiar faces of the families. Her partner was on Flight 370. And she's consistently criticizing the Malaysian government, as you've probably heard, for not being sharing information, about not being more transparent.

Let's listen both here to something that she said earlier this week.


SARAH BAJC, PARTNER OF PHILIP WOOD: We're also extending our reach now. There is a subset of those questions, including some new ones that are much more technical that we will be bringing directly to Boeing. Boeing has a shareholders meeting next week. And if we're not getting information directly from Malaysian Airlines and from the Malaysian government, we might as well try to go directly to the source.

Boeing is a publicly traded company in the United States and that puts them in a position of a little bit more to fiduciary responsibility.


PAUL: So, Captain Darby, do you think Boeing has a responsibility to answer those questions and what is the likelihood that they will?

DARBY: Well, I don't think a shareholders' meeting is really the place for them to do that. I'm sure they are very interested as any pilot in a matter of (INAUDIBLE) extremely interested in this case and they'll do what they can. But the timing, probably not in the shareholders meeting.


BLACKWELL: Roy, last question to you, as the search expands, do you think that it could continue at this level -- 26 countries involved with both the investigation and the search. How long can they go on at this pace?

TRUMAN: Actually, searching is not so -- searching with AUVs is not so labor intensive as one might think because they launch the AUV, and then it runs autonomously on its own for, you know, 20 hours before they recover it. So the crews on board are sitting, waiting and not even looking at live data. They have to wait until the vehicle returns to be able to download the data, and then examine it.

So they have long bursts of inactivity, and then short bursts of looking at the data and seeing what they've found. Meanwhile, the crew are replacing the batteries in the AUV, ready to put it in again. So I don't think it's an exhausting schedule that they're working through at the moment. I think it's more psychologically affecting them, you know, because they are not finding anything.

PAUL: Yes. I think it would be so draining for them.

Roy Truman and Captain Kit Darby, so grateful to both of you to share your voice with us here today. Thanks for being here.

BLACKWELL: Thank you both.

Georgia just gave the go ahead to let residents pack heat in schools and bars and churches and other surprising places. Up next, why critics say the law goes too far.


PAUL: So if you live in Georgia, there's this controversial new gun law that's about to take effect. This summer, residents are going to be able to pack heat in places like schools, in bars, in churches, in government buildings, you name it.

BLACKWELL: Yes. Gun rights advocates say the new law gives them added protections. But critics are firing back. They call this new law extreme, they call it reckless.

CNN's Nick Valencia has more. (BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

GOV. NATHAN DEAL (R), GEORGIA: While we guard against tyranny, America cherishes this right to people who follow the rules can protect themselves and their families from those who don't follow the rules.

VALENCIA: Surrounded by the applause of hundreds of supporters, Georgia's Governor Nathan Deal signed a new wide-ranging gun bill into law this week. The bill, which passed the state House and Senate with overwhelming bipartisan support, is important for what it allows. Starting July 1st, the number of places law-abiding Georgians can carry their licensed weapons without penalty will expand.

(On camera): Places like the airport as it stands right now if you try to bring your firearm through a TSA checkpoint, you'd likely be arrested. Under the new law, you can do that. Your firearm will likely be taken away from you but it will be given back and you won't face criminal prosecution.

The law will also allow Georgians to carry guns into bars and churches so long as the establishment hasn't banned them.

REV. RAPHAEL WARNOCK, SENIOR PASTOR, EBENEZER BAPTIST CHURCH: I don't know of a church that plans to opt into this law.

VALENCIA (voice-over): Dr. Raffy Warnock, the pastor at Ebenezer Baptist, says most Georgians had no idea about the gun bill until it was signed into law. Dr. Martin Luther King preached at the church and his mother was shot and killed there in 1974.

WARNOCK: I shudder to think what that day would have been like, the kind of mayhem that we would have seen had everyone been strapped that day with a gun.

VALENCIA: The lobby group that pushed through the Safe Carry Protect Act believes the new law will make the state a safer place.

JERRY HENRY, EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR, GEORGIACARRY.ORG: Violence is in the person, not in the gun. And until you figure out how to treat the violence, then you're going to have that. And taking all the guns off the street is not going to make anybody any safer.

VALENCIA: Nick Valencia, CNN, Atlanta.


PAUL: Now stick with us here because in the next hour, we're debating this controversial new law with Virginia Tech shooting survivor Colin Goddard as well as Jerry Henry, the executive direct of

BLACKWELL: The organization that strongly supported the law here in Georgia.

You know, another thing that's sweeping across the south, rough weather.

PAUL: Yes.

BLACKWELL: Very rough weather.

PAUL: Look at that picture. Tornadoes whipping through parts of North Carolina. We are going to tell you what's still to come, too.

BLACKWELL: Also forecasters say this is not one and done. It's not over. More about the potential outbreak.





PAUL: Devastating springtime storms striking parts of eastern North Carolina. And -- I mean, you look at this there. That is ominous. You see that and you think OK, I've got a good handle on what I think is coming.

BLACKWELL: Get somewhere quick if you can.

PAUL: Yes, yes. Twisters may also by the way hit the central and southern plains, the deep south. So people, we just want you to be ready.


PAUL: Hold on to your hats here.

BLACKWELL: Because it's coming. Meteorologist Karen Maginnis is watching this possible outbreak. We say possible but very likely. Where could the danger be?

KAREN MAGINNIS, AMS METEOROLOGIST: Yes. There is a high confidence that we will see in the next 24 to 72 hours this outbreak of severe weather that marches towards the east. First on Saturday, across the central plains then we move across the lower and central Mississippi River Valley and Missouri and Arkansas primarily in those areas but not exclusive.

And then toward the east and southeast as we go in toward Monday. A very vigorous weather system that's going to erupt over the next several days. Behind it, cooler air, but warm moist air coming up from the south.

Now when I come back within the next 15 minutes or so, we'll bring you more details about some of the specific cities where we're expecting that severe weather outbreak, not just for this afternoon but even into the beginning of the workweek.

Back to you, guys. PAUL: All right. Karen Maginnis, we thank you.

So when Flight 370 wreckage is found -- noticed I said when it's found.


PAUL: Believe it will be found, one of the big questions is, could information stored on passengers' cell phones provide clues about what happened?

BLACKWELL: This is fascinating when you watch this story. It's going to be -- it's unbelievable for what people can do. We're going to show you how data can be recovered from hardware that has been soaking in pressurized saltwater.


BLACKWELL: President Obama on an historic visit to Malaysia this morning speaking out on missing Flight 370. His message, now 50 days since that jet vanished.

PAUL: A 16-year-old honor student viciously attacked in the hallway of her own school. Now questions about her killer's motive. Yes, she died, and was it all because of a school prom?

BLACKWELL: Critics call it the guns everywhere bill. A sweeping new law in Georgia giving gun owners near free rein in churches and bars and school and airports. Parts of airports. But is it necessary? We'll have the debate this hour.

PAUL: And het ready to see a lot more of this. National Weather Service warns a violent weekend is ahead.

Well, we are so glad to have your company on a Saturday morning. Yes, Saturday. It seems you can just get up and be a little bit lazy if you want to. I'm Christi Paul.

BLACKWELL: You have made it to the weekend. Welcome. I'm Victor Blackwell. Coming up on 8:00 here on the East Coast. This is NEW DAY SATURDAY. First this morning we're waiting to hear from President Obama.

PAUL: Yes, he's attending a state dinner this hour in Kuala Lumpur with Malaysia's king and queen. Now the president is expected to make remarks in about 30 minutes at this point. He is the first American president to visit Malaysia in nearly half a century. And he's there nearly seven weeks to the day since Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 vanished.

BLACKWELL: CNN's Will Ripley joins us now from Kuala Lumpur.