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American Help On the Way; Nigerian School Girls Held Hostage; Why Do We Judge Monica and Not Bill?

Aired May 7, 2014 - 09:30   ET



CAROL COSTELLO, CNN ANCHOR: Good morning. I'm Carol Costello. Thank you so much for joining me.

This hour, American help is on the way for those 200 school girls abducted by Nigerian terrorists. Right now, the Pentagon is working out options on how to help rescue those girls before their captors make good on their threats to sell them into sexual slavery. Nigeria has accepted our help finally. President Obama's plan is to dispatch a team of experts. They would include military personnel, experts in intelligence investigation and hostage rescue. However, this American team is not expected to include operatives to actually carry out missions. In other words, no boots on the ground per say. This team will be based at the American embassy in Nigeria's capital. Nigeria's government is urging patience and bristling at accusations that it has mustered only a lackluster response so far.




OKUPE: We will get those girls. We will get them back. We will.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You hear - you hear the confidence of the Nigerian government. And we will be here - and we will be here to continue to ask questions (INAUDIBLE).

OKUPE: We have the capacity. We have the resources. We have the manpower and our military and security forces (ph) and the expertise. We I say this, I say with a lot of sense of responsibility (ph).


OKUPE: And (INAUDIBLE) people in the world, you know, just calm down. Give us time. We will bring those girls back.


COSTELLO: At the heart of this incident are the more than 200 girls who have been kidnapped, daughters, sisters, friends, ripped away from their school, from their families. A future once filled with promise now filled with terror, all because they wanted to get an education. The fight for knowledge is something young women around the world struggle for each and every day. Last year, CNN aired "Girl Rising," an incredible documentary about the efforts of young girls around the globe, including here in the United States, to get an education.

I'm joined now by Tara Abrahams, the deputy director of "Girl Riding," and Ramaa Mosley, the woman who sent an SOS to the world by creating #bringbackourgirls.

Welcome to both of you.



COSTELLO: I want to start with you, Ramaa. Your hash tag has resonated so loudly. The president of the United States has offered help to find these girls. Is he offering enough help, do you think?

MOSLEY: That is really not my job to say. You know, really what I wanted to do was to use social media to get the word out and to say that these girls are extraordinarily special and that we need to all get involved, and we all need to help in urging our governments to step in and help.

As to exactly how they help is really up to each of the world leaders to make that decision. But it's extraordinarily important that we rescue these girls and that we continue to protect school girls around the world and we say that they are important and that they batter to us because, you know, 5 percent of school girls in Nigeria make it to secondary school. And these girls were, you know, unique and brave and we need to have them back and we need to continue to protect all the other girls that are in Nigeria so that they can go to school and have a better future.

COSTELLO: You're right, Ramaa, this isn't the first time a terrorist group has attacked school girls. Their name Boka Haram, that's this terrorist group in Nigeria, translates to what, "western education is a sin"?

So, Tara, you have dealt with this for a long, long time. Is this the tipping point? Will the international community now think about this issue and act strongly?

ABRAHAMS: Well, I think we believe so and we hope so. Certainly the campaign that Ramaa has started around "bring back our girls" and that hash tag demonstrates the power of an individual with a network who themselves are connected to another network. And the power of that united action is what is going to help us demand from global leaders the action that is necessary, not just to address this situation, but to address the plight of girls around the world.

As Ramaa said, girls matter. They need to be valued. They should be in school if they would like to be, instead of being married at the age of 10, instead of going out to work at the age of 12. And that's what we're trying to fight against and campaign for in collaboration with all of our sisters and brothers around the world.

COSTELLO: So explain to me this sick mindset of this terrorist group who thinks western education is a sin, who think that it's a young woman's role in life to, what, have babies, have sex with men? I mean what is their mindset? What are they afraid of actually?

ABRAHAMS: I think that they're afraid that when girls are educated, they'll have power, and we have seen this. When girls are educated, they can transform the world. They can - they marry later, they have fewer children. The benefits to educating girls are countless. And oftentimes that translates into women having more power.

And I think this is not the first time, as you mentioned, that we've seen girls and women being used as weapons of war, being trafficked, being used as pawns in a political struggle. And that's what we have to stop. Girls are not there to be these weapons. They're not there to serve at the pleasure or the needs of other groups who would sooner kidnap them than send them to school.

COSTELLO: Ramaa, I love the story, you were going to go to Nigeria yourself. You're going to be physically there. But your daughter said, mom, I'm afraid for you, don't go there, and that's where you came up with this idea to use social media. But your daughter - I don't know, how old is your daughter? And she's certainly aware of this problem, which I think is a great thing.

MOSLEY: Yes, my daughter is 11 years old. And when I heard about this story on April 23rd, the first thought I had was, I'm going to Chiba (ph) and I started making arrangements to do that. And I sent an e- mail out to all my friends and I told my husband I'm going and he said OK. And when my daughter heard, she fell apart and she was hysterical and she begged me not to go. And she asked me to work on this from the United States and to try to make a commercial or a documentary and to help.

And so I had to really sit down and think, what are the tools that I have here that I can use to help make a difference. And so I just began communicating. I started tweeting to everyone I could think of. I tweeted to President Obama, Hillary Clinton, John Kerry. I started a Facebook campaign called "Bring Back Our Girls." It's a Facebook page where people could find information. I asked all my friends to change their profile pics and to represent this image that "Girl Rising" and I created to show our solidarity with the women in Chiba who have marched in red and it says "bring back our girls."

And, you know, I stopped every one of my friends and I said you have to get involved with this. And I have to say that I think that what my daughter inspired me to do has been much more powerful than maybe what I could have done if I had flown in, although my heart is still aching and I still wish that I could be there to help and to, you know, look for the girls and to comfort the families. But right now I'm very busy helping people around the world to, you know, find ways that they can get involved, whether it's to write their government leaders, to rally and to protest or to just continue sharing the word because really repression can only exist when people are too afraid or unable to communicate. And what this moment has taught me is that one voice can have power. And that if we use that power to communicate via social media and we tell the world what is going on, then we will be able to socialize this very important message that school girls in Nigeria matter and that they must be rescued.

COSTELLO: Well, you've done great work. We're so proud of you and we're proud of Tara. Thank you both so much for sharing your insights. So appreciated. Ramaa Mosley, Tara Abrahams.

MOSLEY: Thank you.

COSTELLO: Here at CNN, we're not giving up on these girls either. We'll bring you the latest developments as this story unfolds. If you would like to help girls worldwide trying to overcome barriers to education, you can go to our website. That address is I'll be back.


COSTELLO: All right. As you can see this morning's opening bell has already running and the markets open to news that a Chinese Internet search firm called Alibaba may launch the largest IPO in history. Wow! Looking at the big board right now, you can see the Dow is up, oh, almost 46 points. The real market mover could come later this morning when Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen testifies on Capitol Hill.

Checking some other top stories for you at 43 minutes past the hour, newly released 911 calls from the shooting at a Georgia FedEx facility include a heartbreaking plea from a husband to his wife. Last week police say 19-year-old Geddy Kramer stormed into the suburban Atlanta facility and shot six people before taking his own life. In the chilling 911 recording, Security Guard Christopher Sparkman sounds calm, even though he'd just been shot.


DISPATCHER (voice-over): Who did it, sir?

CHRISTOPHER SPARKMAN, SECURITY GUARD (voice-over): I don't know. Unknown gunman. He's got a shotgun. I've been shot. I've been shot.

DISPATCHER: OK. Stay on the line with me, OK? Stay on the line, OK?

SPARKMAN: Please, tell my wife I love her.

DISPATCHER: OK. What's your name?

SPARKMAN: I'm losing energy really fast.

DISPATCHER: OK. Stay on the line with me. You know where you've been shot at?

SPARKMAN: I've been shot in the gut left -- left side of the abdomen, above my waist. Please hurry. Please, God (ph), hurry. I do not want to die.

DISPATCHER: Yes, sir, they're on their way to you. (END VIDEO CLIP)

COSTELLO: Sparkman did survive that attack. He is one of two victims still recovering in the hospital.

One teen's so-called affluenza will cost his family more than $2 million to settle a drunk driving lawsuit. Ethan Couch, remember him, he caused outrage when his attorneys argued a sense of entitlement led to his poor judgment to drive drunk. He was sentenced to just 10 years' probation for causing a crash that killed four people and injured nine others.

"American Idol" winner Clay Aiken holds a razor thin lead in a North Carolina congressional primary. Aiken received 40 percent of the votes. That's less than 1 percent more than opponent Keith Crisco. Despite counting all the votes, the race has still not been called. We'll keep you posted.

Monica Lewinsky is back with a splashy "Vanity Fair" tell-all. So, let the games begin. Not only is Lewinsky posing fetchingly in the magazine, but she's dishing red meat about the woman who called her a narcissistic looney tune, as in potential candidate for president, Hillary Rodham Clinton.

Lewinsky writes, quote, "Yes, I get it. Hillary Clinton wanted it on record that she was lashing out at her husband's mistress. She may have faulted her husband for being inappropriate, but I find her impulse to blame the woman, not only me, but herself troubling."

Now it's not clear why Lewinsky chose to tell more of her story now, but one thing is clear, Lewinsky is 40 years old with no husband, no kids and no career. She continues to pay for an affair she had when she was 24 years old. She is the ultimate modern day Hester Prynne except she doesn't wear a big scarlet letter because she doesn't have to because we all know.

Joining me now is Mel Robbins a CNN legal analyst and commentator you wrote a CNN op-ed about Lewinsky that reads in part and I want to read a bit of it, quote, "Yes, affairs and other indiscretions are disgusting and immoral, but you can hardly be surprised anymore when you hear about them (looking at you Vance McAlister, John Edwards, Anthony Weiner, Donald Sterling). After all, you don't publicly execute people for these everyday offenses between two consenting adults. And yet that's basically what the world did to Lewinsky."

So welcome, Mel. I'm excited for this conservation actually.


COSTELLO: Because I just find it -- I find it actually sad that she continues to pay for this affair and Bill Clinton doesn't.

ROBBINS: At all. I mean he just won the congressional medal last year, for crying out loud. And I think she deserves to have the same level of freedom that he does. And when you think about the amount of money he makes per speech and how he's gone on with his life, clearly it's been very difficult for her.

And I think you and I were just talking about this. She's continuing to pay. There are writers right now, female writers, Maureen Dowd being one of them, trashing Monica Lewinsky for talking. And I find the trend of women attacking other women just so unbelievably discouraging, Carol.

COSTELLO: I know unbelievable, I know it's like -- I can't even wrap my mind around it. You said something interesting to me before, that you thought Monica Lewinsky might have decided to talk out because of a Beyonce song.

ROBBINS: Yes well for those of you that love Beyonce and I do, she has a song "Partition". And one of the lines is he Monica Lewinsky'd all over my blouse. And Monica even addresses this in her piece saying, "Hey, Beyonce, if you're going to use a verb that would have been Bill Clinton'd."

And I kind of have this theory that ok I'm making this up on my head of course she's 40 years old, she doesn't have a job, she doesn't have a husband. She cannot outrun this thing even when she moves to London. And she decided it's time to tell her story. And maybe just maybe the Beyonce album when it dropped in December of 2013 was the final straw.

COSTELLO: Maybe it's just because she turned 40. 40 is a milestone in people's lives. Maybe she just felt you know I can't beat it so I might as well own it. Why not?

ROBBINS: And here's the thing Carol like the piece of the story that's so powerful that everybody is going to miss, that all they do is continue to shame her for a mistake that she made when she was 24 years old for crying out loud, if people keep focusing on that or the political angle here, you're missing the powerful angle.

She had something humiliating in her past like we all do. And she's now facing it and she's finding something positive to do with it. She was telling the world, "Hey I was suicidal, I had no hope." And then I saw that story about Tyler Clementi who killed himself after cyber bullying. And I thought my gosh when Matthew Drudge broke the story, not only did I launch him into fame, but I became a victim of cyber bullying on a global scale.

And so she's saying in this article I'm going to take what happened to me and I'm going to use it for good. What I'm going to do is I'm going to talk to people about it. I'm going to reach out --

COSTELLO: Maureen Dowd calls her out on that and calls it disingenuous and pretentious that she would dare to bring up Tyler Clementi's name in all this. Because she's just you know intimating that Monica Lewinsky is using this tragedy to further herself.

ROBBINS: Well isn't Maureen Dowd doing the same? Isn't Maureen Dowd using the tragedy of the last 16 years and the way that Monica Lewinsky was dragged through the mud to pen an article that ignites controversy, so that she gets a lot of people that read her article? She's doing the same darn thing.

And so I think she's being completely disingenuous for writing what she wrote. And I think it's also crazy and it angers me when women do that. When women in power take a look at other women and use what they have as a platform to trash them. Now if Maureen Dowd believes that, so be it.

But as far as I'm concerned, Monica Lewinsky has a masters in psychology. She's written this article. She's facing her past and she has no idea what's going to come from it, but I think a lot of good will.

COSTELLO: Ok and she's being used politically because you know that was going to happen.

ROBBINS: Of course.

COSTELLO: In very insidious ways. Put it up the headline from the "Drudge Report." So the Drudge Report writes, put it up there so I can read it. There it is. "Lewinsky, Hillary blamed the woman." Now I agree with that Hillary Clinton should have blamed her husband about that. But Matt Drudge isn't writing that headline because he cares two bits about Monica Lewinsky.


COSTELLO: No Matt Drudge cares about -- well no what Matt Drudge wants is he click baiting people, so he makes his money based on how many people click and that's exactly what people do on his site. So that's why he writes the headlines like that. And obviously he's always going to do the conservative bend anyway.

COSTELLO: Right and "The Daily Beast" had this headline. So let's put that one up, ok, "Stop slut-shaming Monica." Now I whole- heartedly agree with that.

ROBBINS: Yes 100 percent, I 100 percent agree with that. And you know truth is she made a mistake. The world should move on. And maybe by writing this article, Monica finally will be able to. And the lesson for all of this is that the only way to escape your past and the only way to finally bury your humiliations is to own them and to try to find a lesson in them. And if she can help somebody, I applaud that effort.

COSTELLO: I think we should go out and have a drink.

ROBBINS: I would love to. How about now? Bloody Marys.

COSTELLO: Right now. Mel Robbins, thanks so much. I'll be right back.


COSTELLO: In Kevin Durant's life, every day is Mother's Day. You can see the love when Wanda Pratt shows up courtside to watch the Oklahoma City Thunder's star forward torch NBA opponents. And now you can hear the love between the two. This is so touching.

Andy Scholes, tell us more.

ANDY SCHOLES, CNN SPORTS: Yes, Carol. You know, this is definitely a feel-good story for the NBA when they definitely need it right on the heels of the Donald Sterling controversy.

Yes, you know, Kevin Durant is one of the most humble superstars we've seen in the NBA and he's just an all around good guy. And a guy the city and the state of Oklahoma really has needed over the last few years.

You know, when the tornadoes hit Moore, Oklahoma last year, Kevin Durant he was right there in the community. He donated $1 million right out of his pocket. He won a Kia car for getting the MVP award. What did he do? He donates that car to the Moore Youth and Family Services right away.

And he's a guy that people can really relate to. You know, when the NBA lockout happened just a couple years ago, Durant tweeted, "Hey, I'm bored." And you know what; some Oklahoma State students tweeted back at him, "Hey, you want to come play flag football with us?" What did Durant do? He goes and plays flag football with the students at Oklahoma State. Just shows what a great guy he is.

And in that speech he gave yesterday, really emotional. He thanked each and every one of his teammates and he saved his best for last thanking his mom. And you want to get your tissues ready, Carol, because this is great stuff.


KEVIN DURANT, NBA MVP: we wasn't supposed to be here. You made us believe. You kept us off the street. Put clothes on our backs. Food on the table. When you didn't eat, you made sure we ate. You went to sleep hungry. You sacrificed for us. You're the real MVP.


SCHOLES: It's great stuff from Kevin Durant right there, Carol. And as you can see his mom no way she was holding back those tears.

COSTELLO: You've left us with a really good image. Happy Mother's Day. Thanks, Andy Scholes. I appreciate it.

SCHOLES: All right.

COSTELLO: The next hour of NEWSROOM after a break.