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Marine's Wife Vanished; American Teen Freed from Israeli Jail; Revisiting UNC's Paper Classes Scandal; Sterlings Due to Face Off in Court Tomorrow; Top Travel Trends This Summer; Navy Gets First Female Four-Star Admiral; Immigration Battle Heats Up; Great White Shark Bites Swimmer
Aired July 6, 2014 - 16:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
FREDRICKA WHITFIELD, CNN ANCHOR: The completed three bedrooms smart home will be outfitted with customized features and in a ray of high- tech features all controlled with an iPad. It will help him regain a part of what he lost in the line of duty. His independence.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
WOODY JOHNSON: Our freedom is not there by accident. It's there because we have our young men and women who serve. He's got a challenge going forward. Hopefully the house is a little bit of an aid to them.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WHITFIELD: More than just an aid, (INAUDIBLE) says the gift is going to mean everything to him.
Hello again, everybody, I'm Fredricka Whitfield.
Topping the news at this hour. We start with a mysterious disappearance, Erin Corwin simply vanished eight days ago. The pregnant wife of a U.S. Marine was on her way to a national park close to home in southern California and she hasn't been seen since. Nick Valencia is here with more on the investigation and what family members are saying.
NICK VALENCIA, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Truly a mystery. The search has intensified for 19-year-old Erin Corwin. It's focused around her home in 29 Palms.
LORI HEAVILIN, ERIN CORWIN'S MOM: It couldn't have asked for a much better teenager. She's a little on the timid side. Maybe a little bit on the naive side. But once she got to know you, you had a friend.
VALENCIA (voice-over): Loving words from a mother, her only own wish now is for her 19-year-old daughter to come home.
HEAVILIN: The last conversation we had was a week ago Friday and we probably talked for at least an hour, just about my trip coming out here, we were going to go to Sea World and the San Diego Zoo, and she was like, if you knew how much of an animal lover she is, you would know how excited she was about that trip.
VALENCIA: But the next morning Erin Corwin vanished without a trace. She had been scoping out locations in California's Joshua Tree National Park to take photographs when she went missing. Her husband who is in the U.S. Marine Corps reported her disappearance the following day.
More than a week from the air and by foot, search teams continue to look for Corwin. Police saying her disappearance is suspicious with homicide investigators taking the lead in this case.
CAPTAIN DALE MONDARY: We know that she is out there, it's just a matter of us trying to figure out exactly where. We are also looking at it as a potential criminal investigation. So we don't want to destroy any evidence that we may be able to recover.
VALENCIA: Earlier this week, police did find Erin's car in 29 Palms near the military base where her husband is stationed. He's not been charged, and no other clues have surfaced. As for Corwin's mother she doesn't believe her son-in-law could be linked to any potential foul play.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: (INAUDIBLE) you start working your way out.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You or have you ever been suspicious he may be tied to her disappearance.
HEAVILIN: Absolutely not.
VALENCIA: And in the days since her daughter vanished, she learned she's going to be a new grandmother. Erin is pregnant.
HEAVILIN: I mean it just doesn't seem real, I'm cooking in her kitchen and she's not there right now. Her ring tone on my phone is a horse neighing and galloping and I would give anything to hear that ring tone, anything right now.
VALENCIA: Erin Corwin's mother, Lori, says she's known her son-in-law for eight years and is absolutely not suspicious that he may be tied to her disappearance. They have started a Facebook page, Fred, for more information about the 19-year-old.
WHITFIELD: And so reportedly, the husband thought she might be going to a retreat or overnight stay at a ranch but then was there any more information where that ranch is? Whether anybody ever saw her?
VALENCIA: That's a great question, great point. Investigators have not released much information. A lot of this information is not even being released to the mother of Erin Corwin, they're keeping tight lipped around this and many, many questions about this. The investigation is focused around here home there in 29 Palms where her car was found.
WHITFIELD: All right. Well the hope is she will be found alive and well. All right. Thank you so much, Nick Valencia keep us posted.
An American teenager is now free from an Israeli jail. This is the same teen who says he was beaten by Israeli security forces. The beating was caught on video and has sparked outrage around the world. CNN's Ben Wedeman has the story and we should warn you, this report does contain graphic images.
BEN WEDEMAN, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Fredricka, Jerusalem was relatively quiet today but the atmosphere remains very tense. One bit of good news, a 15-year-old Palestinian-American boy was released from Israeli police custody, but that's not the end of the story.
WEDEMAN (voice-over): Sporting two black eyes and a swollen lip, the 15-year-old Tariq Abu Khdeir leaves Jerusalem's magistrate court free on bail.
(on camera): How do you feel now you're out?
TARIQ ABU KHDEIR: I feel - I feel way better.
WEDEMAN (voice-over): Images caught on cell phone Thursday evening shows Israeli police punching and kicking the Tampa, Florida native on the ground, his hands bound behind his back. His parents say he was taking part but not throwing rocks.
Protesters sparked by the discovery of the burned body of his cousin, widely Mohammad Abu Khdeir widely believed to have been killed by Israeli extremists in revenge for the kidnapping and murder of three Israeli teenagers in the West Bank last month.
Israeli police continue to investigate Tariq's involvement in the protests. He remains under house arrest for nine days, not in the family home, but rather in a relative's home in the adjacent neighborhood of (INAUDIBLE).
(on camera): What do you think of the decision of court?
SUHA ABU KHDEIR, TARIQ'S MOTHER: I'm not really happy, because he's being - he hasn't been charged with anything and he hasn't been accused of anything, not charged with anything, and they have him on house arrest out of his own home and plus he's - they're making us pay a fine. It was 10,000 shekels and went down 3,000 shekels.
WEDEMAN: You'll pursue charges against the police who beat him?
SUHA ABU KHDEIR: Yes, we will, definitely.
WEDEMAN (voice-over): The Israeli justice ministry launched a probe into the incident. Tariq's father, Salah, has scant faith in the process. (on camera): Are you confident that the investigation will be fair?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What history, no.
WEDEMAN: As that investigation moves forward, the police have arrested several Israeli Jews for questioning in connection to the abduction and murder of 16-year-old Mohammad Abu Khdeir, indicating it may well have been a politically motivated revenge killing, and more fuel for the fire. Fredricka?
WHITFIELD: Ben Wedeman, thanks so much.
Since we are talking about an American citizen here, Washington has weighed in with a response. Sunlen Serfaty is at the White House with more reaction, we've been hearing from the U.S. State Department today. It's made very clear that the U.S. expects a lot.
SUNLEN SERFATY, CNN CORRESPONDENT: That's right, Fred. They have been direct in their response to this incident. They have condemned it, they've called for a quick investigation into it. We just received a new statement from the State Department. Spokeswoman Jen Psaki says "if the investigation is concluded promptly, Mr. Khdeir should be able to return to Florida as planned with his family later this month. We will continue to monitor the situation closely."
As we know, the Israeli justice ministry has launched an investigation and again today the State Department they reiterated that they want it to be credible and they want it to be transparent. Fred.
WHITFIELD: OK. Meantime, the president's agenda this week, also includes heading to Texas for a fund-raiser but the governor, Governor Rick Perry has invited him to check out the border with Mexico especially as debates heighten over immigration reform and what this White House is willing to do. Has there been any new response from the White House? Any change of thought on whether he will take the governor up on that offer?
SERFATY: They're not taking the bait just yet, Fred. The White House says no side trip scheduled to visit the border while he's down there for the pair of fund-raisers. Now interestingly enough, Perry was again criticizing President Obama today. He says that the president lacks effort and lacks focus by this and also Democrats voicing the same criticisms. Here's what one democratic congressman from Texas said this morning to CNN's Candy Crowley.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. HENRY CUELLAR (D), TEXAS: Well, again, it would be nice for him to come down to the border but again, with all due respect, he still is one step behind. They knew this was happening a year ago, last year and again they're not reacting fast enough at this time.
(END VIDEO CLIP) SERFATY: And the Homeland Security secretary today responded to this criticism and he says that they're confident that the administration will be able to stem this tide. Fred.
WHITFIELD: All right. Sunlen Serfaty, thanks so much, at the White House.
Overseas, Pope Francis will meet this week with victims who say they were abused in the Catholic Church. It's his first time he's done that since becoming pope. The meeting will take place at his private residence at the Vatican. Officials won't give a more details until after the meeting actually takes place.
Coming up, the NCAA is revisiting the so-called paper classes scandal at the University of North Carolina. Did school athletes take classes they never actually attended? Live report, next.
WHITFIELD: An update now on that scandal at the University of North Carolina. The NCAA is revisiting the so-called paper classes scandal involving hundreds of athletes and hundreds of classes. Sarah Ganim has more.
SARA GANIM, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Hey, Fred. Good afternoon. One expert calls this the, "mother of all academic fraud cases" but the NCAA barely did anything about it until now.
GANIM (voice-over): Hundreds of UNC athletes were enrolled in bogus classes, getting credits and good grades for doing little work.
MARY WILLINGHAM, UNC WHISTLEBLOWER: The reason they had to take paper classes was because they couldn't do the work. They needed to stay eligible.
GANIM: Whistle-blower Mary Willingham helped expose those paper classes after years of being part of the system.
WILLINGHAM: A couple of the most obvious, difficult and challenging for me was a student who really couldn't work anywhere close to a middle school level.
GANIM: The NCAA never interviewed Willingham as part of its original investigation into academic fraud and relied on UNC's explanation of the scandal which pinned all of the blame on a single professor named Julius Nangaro (ph), seen here in this YouTube video.
WILLINGHAM: It's not just Julius Nangaro (ph), it's what we, the university used, to keep athletes eligible.
GANIM: The NCAA did punish one athlete for cheating, former football player, Mike McAdoo. McAdoo says his advisers pushed him and his fellow athletes into the fake classes. MIKE MCADOO, FMR. FOOTBALL PLAYER: They made a big deal saying they didn't know, they didn't know he was taking these classes but they tried to make it seem like I was the only one taking these classes. I didn't make these classes up.
DIR. GERALD GURNEY, PROFESSOR UNIVERSITY OF OKLAHOMA: It is the mother of all academic fraud cases in athletics.
GANIM: That's University of Oklahoma Professor Gerald Gurney, he worked in athletics for 20 years and now researches academic fraud.
GURNEY: There's no doubt in my mind the cooperation of friendly faculty, the coverup and the excuses for this kind of behavior is egregious.
GANIM: After a flurry of reports, including a CNN investigation on the literacy rates of college athletes nationwide and mounting pressure from Congress and the public, UNC responded by ordering a new investigation and offering to share the findings with the NCAA. They hired a former federal prosecutor who, for the very first time, talked to key players involved in the scandal. And is looking at transcripts going back to the '80s.
GURNEY: It's quite likely that if it is shown that this is a long-term systemic scheme on the part of the university, that UNC will need to vacate wins.
GANIM: That could mean giving up two national basketball championship titles. As for Willingham, the university demoted her, she filed a lawsuit on Monday saying UNC attacked her character and retaliated against her for blowing the whistle to CNN.
WILLINGHAM: You will see the story, it will be framed for you perfectly in the transcripts.
GANIM: Now the prosecutor who charged that professor Julius Nangaro (ph), he told me Thursday he dropped the charge against him because he believes that it's more important for the community to understand what happened at UNC than it is for this one professor to be charged criminally. Fred?
WHITFIELD: And so, Sara, you say the university's investigating this. Is that an internal investigation or what more do we know?
GANIM: So a formal federal prosecutor Ken Weinstein (ph), he is conducting this investigation. You just heard that this was the result of a lot of public pressure. But his investigation, the scope of it is really quite big. He's going back 30 years worth of athlete transcripts. That's a lot of transcripts. He's also got 1.5 million e- mails and documents to go through, interviewed more than two dozen people. But probably the biggest get that he has and the most important piece of information gathered is the interview with that professor, Julius Nangaro (ph), because he's the only one who knows everyone else who also knew what was going on. And he's never talked, he's never talked to any other investigators. What he tells Ken Weinstein (ph), it's going to be huge for this investigation, Fred.
WHITFIELD: All right. Sara Ganim, thanks so much for bringing this to us. We appreciate it.
All right, perhaps you caught that interview with Joan Rivers, how about the moment that she stormed off in the middle of it? Well, now, a response to that. And a response to the question, was it a stunt?
WHITFIELD: All right. Lots of strong opinions since my interview with trail blazing comedian Joan Rivers aired yesterday. Some thought I was mean and negative, and others thought she was mean and hypocritical. Perhaps you missed it altogether.
A little background now. Joan Rivers who recently celebrated her 81st birthday, has a new book out "Diary of a Mad Diva." Her folks said she was available for an interview and I was more than excited about that. She was funny, and engaging along the way in the interview, and then something set her off and she stormed off the set during the taping.
We did try to reach out to her again before it aired, but no response. After our airing, Rivers did comment to the "Hollywood Reporter," which we will share with you after running the interview in its entirety.
WHITFIELD (on camera): Joan Rivers, what a pleasure. You look so fabulous. I'm so underdressed.
JOAN RIVERS, COMEDIAN: Oh, you're not underdressed. It's hot and it's a steamy summer weekend, it's a nice way to put it.
WHITFIELD: It is indeed. Hey, look, what is it about the year 2013 that you focus on in this diary when you thought, "man, there is so much material I can't help myself, I've got to write about it."
RIVERS: It was my last book was on the best-seller list 19 weeks so my producer's not a fool, she said, "write another." So I said "about what?" She said, you're funny every day, write about what annoys you or makes you laugh every day. And that's how the book came about. It was so great to write, because every day the laugh, bitch, put something down.
WHITFIELD: Well, it's all in there, your experiences, your observations, things ripped from the news or entertainment headlines. For example, you write this, "I'm back in L.A. for a minor cosmetic procedure. I'm having a brow lift, tummy tuck, chin job, and lip implant or my plastic surgeon likes to call it the usual." So you know, Joan, you joke about yourself, you joke about these surgeries. I mean, everything is on the table, right?
RIVERS: Oh, well not on the table we take all of the skin off the table and made another person that works right beside me, I'm never lonely. WHITFIELD: And you're so honest about this plastic surgery. Usually people who get plastic surgery they don't want to tell anybody about it. Are you still getting them? Is it an addiction? What's going on here?
RIVERS: No. In California, I'm not sure you too, I don't know you specifically. How old are you?
WHITFIELD: Not yet. I'm near 50, how about that?
RIVERS: Well, I'm sure you've had your botox.
WHITFIELD: I've had nothing yet.
RIVERS: Well, whatever.
WHITFIELD: Not that I don't need it but you know -
RIVERS: You look good.
WHITFIELD: I'm chicken.
RIVERS: Every woman - you know, don't put your money in a car, put your money on yourself, you leave the car at the curb. In California, the women look extraordinarily beautiful and that's of course pulled so tight sometimes they you know go to the bathroom through their ears but it doesn't matter. They look good. They look good.
WHITFIELD: Oh my gosh. You're right. Everyone does look good in L.A. you write really about these interviews that you're constantly on junkets, whether you're talking about your books, your TV shows, all your enterprises and you write, "I must say I hate going on shows where the interviewer just reads the questions regardless of what's being said, me, I just killed my mother, interviewer, I understand you like shoes. I hate that!" At least link it up with did you go your mother's?
RIVERS: Yes, exactly, exactly. You know that it's always so easy to tell who's a good interviewer and a bad interviewer when they follow what the guest just said. You know? If John Travolta says I was coming out of the closet today, you have to say - What?
RIVERS: - were you looking for a suit or you're looking for a young guy? I mean, you have to follow up on the question.
WHITFIELD: Right. And do you feel like - I mean you have been, you know, a trailblazer in so many different ways, and you know it seems like you've covered it all. I wonder, are there projects involve you and perhaps alongside your daughter, Melissa, is there anything else on your list that you feel you've got to tackle one day soon?
RIVERS: Everything. I mean we're in the fourth year of "Fashion Police," we're in the second year of the "Internet Joan, in bed with Joan." I'm going back to Broadway starting in Washington at the National Theater in November. I wanted to do another book. I want to do another book. You just want to keep doing things. It's so much fun to make people laugh and get a check.
WHITFIELD: Wow. And so, you know, yes, in all of these, you know, I guess forays it's been very good to you, and you know you've got best- selling books, you sell out on stage, even with your fashion critiquing while it's very mean in some ways -
RIVERS: It's not mean, it's not mean, it's not mean.
WHITFIELD: Really, it's not mean?
RIVERS: It's not mean. I tell the truth. I'm sure I say the same things at all of your viewers say to their friends sitting next to them on the couch. You know, we're one of the few shows that says, that's an ugly dress, and it's OK. These ladies make $28 million a picture. You really think that Nicki Minaj cares I didn't like her dress, you know? When you're in that kind of bracket you don't really care.
WHITFIELD: You're not really worried about feelings being hurt.
RIVERS: Well, not when it's not about dresses, it's not about them. It's about clothing.
WHITFIELD: What about when it is about something, you know that really does seem off-limits to a lot of people? I mean even your book you kind of joke about the death of Casey Anthony's baby, Princess Diana surviving so many land mines and who she dated.
WHITFIELD: I mean do you feel like there are boundaries ever, you know, even it makes you uncomfortable or -
RIVERS: Let me tell you -
WHITFIELD: Or offend people or what?
RIVERS: Life is very tough, and if you can make a joke to make something easier and funny, do it. Done. Do it. It's all - but darling, I don't know what your life has been like, but I have a lot of people who have gone through hell and if you can make -- Winston Churchill said, if you make someone laugh, you give them a little vacation. Maybe you take the worst thing in the world and make it funny, it's a vacation for a minute from horror.
WHITFIELD: Yes. People love to laugh.
RIVERS: Oh my gosh.
WHITFIELD: That's why people love you but they also know that you, you know, you have some shock value to you. I mean, you're on the cover of your book, you're wearing a fur and you knew there would be animal rights activists.
RIVERS: You know, this whole interview is becoming a defensive interview.
RIVERS: Are you wearing leather shoes?
RIVERS: Shut up I don't want to hear, you're wearing fur. You're wearing leather shoes.
WHITFIELD: I'm not an activist.
RIVERS: You're eating chicken, you're eating meat, I don't want to hear this nonsense. Come to me with a paper belt and I'll talk to you.
WHITFIELD: But you did hear it in some of the press conferences, people were upset you're just saying -
RIVERS: No. I'm going, I'm really going. All you've done is negative.
RIVERS: All you've done is negative. I haven't heard - I make people laugh for 50 years, I'm put on earth to make people laugh, my book is funny. I wear fur that was killed 15 years ago. I work for animal rights, stop it with and you do this, and you're mean and you're that. You are not the one to interview a person who does humor. Sorry.
WHITFIELD: Are we serious?
WHITFIELD: Yes, she was serious all right after that stunning moment. We did kind of wonder, hmm was this a stunt? But off camera she kept her microphone on as she continued to talk and drop four-letter words. Rivers did not return to the interview.
I waited patiently. We did, however, try to reach out to her afterwards but nothing. However, she did respond to the statement to the "Hollywood Reporter" saying, quote, "I do not do, and never have done, PR stunt. The CNN interviewer was a news reporter and not an entertainment reporter. She did not seem to understand we were talking about a comedy book and not the transcript from the Nuremberg trial."
Well, every question - "oh, every question was an accusatory one designed to put me on the defensive." End quote. All right. Well, I'm not going to make tit for tat here but this was Q and A based on the content of her book and the recent event at her book signing.
So, earlier in the week, TMZ released this video of animal rights protesters crashing Rivers' book signing in New York, putting her on the spot about her fashion choice on the book cover. At the time she treated it with humor only Joan Rivers can do and I thought by asking her about the reaction to her fur coat and the protesters there, that maybe she might deliver more humor.
Oh well, it was quite the opposite. Thanks for the opportunity still to talk to Joan Rivers.
All right. Donald Sterling just made the sale of the L.A. Clippers a lot more complicated with a last minute legal move. Where the case heads now. Coming up.
WHITFIELD: Bottom of the hour now. Welcome back. I'm Fredricka Whitfield. Here are the top stories crossing the CNN news desk right now. An American teenager is now free from an Israeli jail. The 15- year-old Palestinian American, Tariq Khedair appeared in court in Jerusalem today and was released to house arrest. The teen says he was beaten by Israeli security forces. The beating was caught on video and has sparked outrage around the world. Israel says the teen was detained at a protest that followed the death of his cousin earlier in the week. Several Israeli Jews have been arrested in connection with that killing.
Search efforts for Flight 370 will be ramped up in the Southern Indian Ocean. "The New York Times" says Malaysia's defense minister made the announcement today at the opening of an exhibit dedicated to the missing plane. Malaysia is sending three ships with survey equipment and sonar equipment underwater craft to the area. Flight 370 disappeared March 8th, with 239 people on board.
This was an instant classic, the men's final at Wimbledon. Roger Federer making a brilliant comeback in the fourth set to stay alive, that moment right there, Novac Djokovic prevailing in five sets to win his second Wimbledon title. He'll also move up to top player in the world when the rankings come out tomorrow.
The case to sell the L.A. Clippers may be going to the federal level. Tomorrow, Donald Sterling, will try to convince a judge that his estranged wife had no right to sell the team, and it's a little unclear when this sale might go through. CNN's Alexandra Field has more on what's next for the Sterlings.
ALEXANDRA FIELD, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Donald Sterling and Shelly Sterling, set to face off in a Los Angeles courtroom, $2 billion deal to sell the L.A. Clippers hanging in the balance. At issue, Shelly's takeover of the Sterling family trust, which owns the team and her subsequent decision to sell the team to former Microsoft CEO, Steve Ballmer. A deal she struck after doctors she engaged declared Donald Sterling mentally unfit.
JOEY JACKSON, HLN LEGAL ANALYST: What the doctors that she bought and paid for in order to evaluate him just that? Bought and paid for doctors and did his wife follow the proper procedures and proper protocols to remove him from the trust? And so I think you'll see that battle really developing in the courtroom.
FIELD: A provision in the Sterling family trust allows one spouse to take over if the other spouse is deemed mentally incapacitated. Donald's attorneys question the validity of the medical examinations, an argument Shelly's attorneys call baseless.
JACKSON: I think a Shelly Sterling win goes a long way, for finality, we can move on with our lives and her loss, boy, it invites litigation that can last a pretty long time.
FIELD: Following that infamous rant towards alleged mistress, V. Stiviano, the NBA banned Donald Sterling for life. They fined him $2.5 million and gave the Sterlings a September 15th deadline to sell the team.
RICK HORROW, SPORTS BUSINESS ANALYST: Bottom line is the NBA really wants this to be done, for a lot of reasons, certainty, increasing the value of everybody's franchise over $2 billion. Certainly that sale price raises all votes on this issue.
FIELD: Ballmer's blockbuster $2 billion deal, the biggest in the league's history expires July 15th with possibility of a one-month extension, nearing deadlines adding pressure to an increasingly complicated legal battle.
FIELD: This trial is set to start tomorrow. It should last about four days. But now Donald Sterling's attorneys are arguing that his case should be heard in federal court. They say that is because Donald's privacy rights were violated when his medical diagnosis was made public. We should also note here, Fred, that a source tells CNN that Donald's attorneys have had him evaluated by more doctors who have now judged Donald to be mentally fit. So a lot to argue over here -- Fred.
WHITFIELD: Still looming, that NBA deadline.
FIELD: Yes, that deadline that comes up September 15th. There is also the deadline on the bomber deal, which is July 15th. So now people have to sort out, you know, what happens here? Can the team be sold barring whatever happens in court? Right now, what we understand is that the NBA force a sale of the team on September 15th then all that money would be put into escrow while the legal end of this gets worked out. It could take some time.
WHITFIELD: OK, this story just gets more and more complicated every day.
FIELD: Yes, it does.
WHITFIELD: All right, Alexandra Field, thank you so much.
All right, many people are going on vacation this summer. Some of them more than once and they're also new travel trends, which ones can help you save money?
WHITFIELD: OK, so summer is a hot time for travel, right? More than 80 percent of people plan to get out of town before school's back in session, and a lot of people are doing it more than once so it can add up money wise. There are some trends out there that can perhaps help you save money. I'm joined now by "Travel Zoo's" senior editor, Gabe Saglie. So Gabe, good to see you.
GABE SAGLIE, SENIOR EDITOR, "TRAVEL ZOO": Fredricka, good to be with you.
WHITFIELD: There are five trends that you think, you know we should all take notice. One being, you know, folks are relying a lot more on their phones, particularly when they are booking travel or as traveling, in what way?
SAGLIE: I think from A to Z, I think, driven by millennials using and turning to iPhones and iPads and smart technology by the droves. We're seeing, for example, 50 percent of our own traffic leaving the web site and actually coming off of our mobile app, we've seen more than 4 million downloads to our app, one out of three using the app more than once a day.
So as far as researching your trip, who to do once on the ground, and how you share your experiences, it's all being driven by mobile. More and more companies using mobile outlets to provide exclusives on the road as well. If you want to find things that -- things to do you'll only find them on your smartphone device.
WHITFIELD: OK, and speaking of driving, that apparently seems to be the mode of transportation of choice, right? Instead of really hitting to the skies, people would rather hit the road.
SAGLIE: Yes, I think the open road is back on everybody's number one spot on the to-do list. Our latest survey shows that 57 percent of Americans are actually planning a weekend road trip as preferred summer vacation. A couple of things are interesting here. This flies in the face of higher gas prices, gas more expensive than 8 cents a gallon than a year ago and it's higher than predicted to be a couple of months ago by experts.
But I also think that this polar vortex drove airline prices out of the gate, January, February, we were seeing summer air fare prices up. As people began budget summer vacation this spring season, it just made more sense to get the kids in the car, pick a destination a couple hundred miles away and enjoy vacations that way.
WHITFIELD: All right, and then speaking of budgeting, sometimes folks are happy with one day-cation. Forget the whole weekend thing or a week, you know, get away, but just for a day?
SAGLIE: Yes, I mean, forget the staycation, now it's a day-cation, very smart for seeing low season travel now. For example, South Florida, we are seeing these four and five-star resorts offering a day experience, use the pool, spa amenity, fitness classes for the day.
WHITFIELD: But that works in you're in that locality, right?
SAGLIE: What they're doing is going after the affluent local resident and of course come high season, winter season, they'll be seeing enough of influx from international and domestic travel to not need these kinds of promotions as much.
WHITFIELD: I guess that's self-explanatory, people are eating local, you know that will help save some money, too. But it's the whole do- it-yourself kind of traveling. This means, what checking into hotels on your own? Picking up the key at one location, you are really cutting out the middle man or woman, so to speak, but in what ways are people, you know, tending to do this?
SAGLIE: Well, the flip side of this is the fact that it does take -- there's a learning curve here. More and more hotels are installing, for example, self-check-in kiosks, it's cutting check-in time down to 2 minutes in some cases. They are very savvy business traveler can do it in about a minute. Checking in, checking out of the hotel, on your own and avoiding the line at the front desk.
At airports seeing more and more of these automated passport machines being installed at airports. In fact, I think Atlanta is finishing up installing several there at the airport, allowing international travelers that are U.S. citizens to bypass longer lines at customs checkpoints and sort of breeze through to their baggage claim and to the final destination. Automating experience, shortening lines at hotels and airports definitely getting some ground across the industry.
WHITFIELD: OK, all of the trends and all of the things that soon we're going to be doing, just because you've now kind of shed the light on it for us. Thanks so much, Gabe Saglie.
SAGLIE: Thanks, Fredricka.
WHITFIELD: Fighting over immigration usually happens on Capitol Hill. But now it's happening in the streets with the mayor of a California city caught in the middle, told our Candy Crowley.
WHITFIELD: America's celebrating its 238th birthday and while commemorating American independence the country got its first female four-star admiral, Michelle Howard took the oath promoting her from vice admiral to admiral. She also began her new job vice chief of naval operations. Candy Crowley, anchor of "STATE OF THE UNION" and chief political correspondent. Candy, this is incredible page in history, isn't it?
CANDY CROWLEY, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: It really is. It really is. I tell you, how big a deal is it? I can tell you, that when the admiral went to get her four stars, they wear on the shoulder, she called and she said we don't have one of those for the female. They had to make it.
CROWLEY: For the first female. That's a big deal. She's a big deal in a number of ways. You remember the movie with Tom Hanks, with saving Captain Phillips? She was in charge of that operation. She's the one that gave the orders. She sort of first came to fame that way. But stepping back, remember, she's not just the first female four-star admiral. She's the first African-American female four-star admiral and has -- she knows has gone through a lot of barriers. Take a listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ADMIRAL MICHELLE HOWARD, FIRST FEMALE 4-STAR IN U.S. NAVY: Like most human beings there's challenges in our life, we're obligated to, when we -- when we have that challenge, confront it, think about it, take a deep breath, but also put it in context. There's a lot of times in life the barriers get down to one person and we are smart enough and talented enough and confident enough and working with our shipmates, we can come to resolution.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WHITFIELD: Wow, fantastic. What an inspiration. So, Candy, now let's shift gears quite a bit. Something that's shaken up the lands landscape, the issue of immigration. The issue has reached a fever pitch, especially as we watch these images of people in Murrieta, California, blocking buses of undocumented immigrants, women and children. You spoke to the mayor of that city. What's he saying about those protests that turned so ugly and what might happen the next time buses come through?
CROWLEY: I think the totality of the interview indicated that this is the mayor of a city, doesn't like the image that is out there of his city. He said, look, most of the people weren't really from Murrieta, it's about the safe of the children I'm asked him, if buses come back -- remember these buses had to be turned around and sent to another processing border facility. So I said, if -- if the buses came back, would you make it so that it could reach the federal facility? He didn't quite say yes, but certainly you can tell a lot from his answer.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I guarantee you, if a bus were to arrive at the Murrieta border patrol and those aliens were here, you would see that, we would treat them with compassion. The unfortunate part is that never occurred. Again, this is a democracy. For whatever reason, the bus was turned around, I'm not going deal with that now, that happened. It wasn't anyone's call. What I'm telling you right now if those buses were to arrive here tomorrow, enter the border patrol facility, you would see what Murrieta is known for, comparing, compassionate community.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CROWLEY: So again, a mayor, young mayor obviously, dealing with the idea, there's freedom of speech, but then there's the imagery that came out from there, which shocked a number of people. One last thing, Fredricka, in the interplay we also had on Congressman Cuellar who is from the border, can see Mexico from Laredo, which is part of his district, and the two of them, one's a Democrat, the mayor a Republican, and the two of them talked after the interview was finished and said, you know what? Let me call you next week, we can work things out. A ray of hope.
WHITFIELD: OK. Maybe hope for that same kind of dialogue taking place on Capitol Hill and maybe even involving the executive branch, too. Speaking of Texas, the president will be heading to Texas. It's still unclear whether the president will get to a border upon the invitation of Governor Perry there who says he wants to show and tell a little of what is taking place. Candy Crowley, thanks so much in Washington.
CROWLEY: Thanks, Fred.
WHITFIELD: And on the Pacific coast, a swimmer is lucky to be alive after getting bitten by a shark, coming up, the incredible thing he did when he saw shark's eyes in front of his and felt the jaws clamp down.
WHITFIELD: A terrifying moment, caught on camera as a swimmer's bitten by a great white shark.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He got bit. That's not --
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WHITFIELD: Fire officials say the seven-foot shark hooked on a fishing line when a group of swimmers went right by. One man, Steve Robles, was bitten across the torso. A paddle border and other swimmers and surfs are helped get him to shore. A photographer snapped this shot as people rushed to get him to paramedics.
I spoke to Steven Robles on the phone earlier this afternoon and he told me what happened in the water and how he's doing as he recovers now at home.
STEVEN ROBLES, BITTEN BY SHARK (via telephone): Just out of instincts, I took my right hand and grabbed its nose and tried to pry it off of my -- my chest, and once it released itself it disappeared immediately, it didn't come back. By that time I knew I was dead. The thrashing of the shark, his whole body, on my chest, thrashing, trying to bite into me. D Once he released himself, I was fortunate enough, I have -- I was with a group of us swimming pier to pier, going from Hermosa to Manhattan, we do this every Saturday, maybe a two-mile swim. Three of the swimmers were right behind me, about a stretch behind me, heard me screaming at the top of my lungs saying I got bit, I got bit by a shark, and I'm in a complete state of panic.
And then they started keeping me up on top of the water and started helping me get to shore and eventually a paddler showed up and got me on the shore. At that point the life guards and everyone was there, paramedics, a crowd of people were observing what was going on.
WHITFIELD: Incredible, Steven. You're unlucky to have been bitten but at the same time, very lucky that maybe it was indeed this responsive bite, that was took a bite out of you by mistake, if you listen to the other interviews in that piece, that you are an experienced swimmer, distance swimmer, you swim from pier to pier every Saturday with colleagues there. Along the way, has it always been a concern or fear or even a possibility that whether it be great whites or other shark activity is something that you as a swimmer would encounter there?
ROBLES: I've never -- I knew that there were great white -- baby great white sharks congregating in the north end of Manhattan beach and not bothered anybody, but what happened was, a fisherman was up on the pier, shamming for sharks. He's trying to catch a great white next to a bunch of swimmers.
WHITFIELD: Are people -- is that legal?
ROBLES: He had that shark on his fishing line for 40 minutes until he released it. Once he released it that shark was agitated and it swam near me, I was -- I was -- you decide to take his aggression out on.
WHITFIELD: Steven, how did you know -- sorry to interrupt you. How did you know what to do? I mean, to have the wherewithal to grab its nose, to punch it? I've heard shark experts say, sometimes you try to punch the shark in the nose or poke in the eye. Staring face to face at jaws, it seems like that would be tough to remember to do that. How did you have that instinct to do that?
ROBLES: I -- it was just a natural reflex action. I just -- I felt the shark biting into me and I was like, my God, this is it. My God, I'm going to die. This is really -- this is it. And I -- I just -- I said, no, no, I'm going to get this thing off of me and I grabbed its nose. Fortunately it let go. He could have gone the other way where he kept biting down and took me under water and that's it.
WHITFIELD: Wow, lucky in an unlucky kind of way, or vice versa, either way. Thanks to Steven Robles for telling us history and glad he's now at home recovering.
That's going to do it for me. I'm Frederika Whitfield. The next hour of the NEWSROOM begins - hey, Ana, there you are - with Ana Cabrera.
ANA CABRERA, CNN ANCHOR: Hello again, friend. Have a great rest of the weekend.
WHITFIELD: All right, you too.