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CNN NEWSROOM

Tragedy in Tucson; Snow and Ice Gridlock South; Arizona's Image Questioned; Two Die After Arizona Cuts Transplant Funds; Hero Intern Jumps to Giffords' Side; US Stocks Hit By European Fears; Congress Considering Increased Security for Members; World Reacts to Tucson Shooting

Aired January 10, 2011 - 09:00   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


KYRA PHILLIPS, CNN ANCHOR: T.J., thanks so much. 9:00 on the East Coast, 6:00 a.m. out West. We're following two major developing stories this morning for you.

First, a court appearance today for the young man accused of opening fire on a congresswoman and her constituents. Six people dead, 14 others wounded. Representative Gabrielle Giffords still clinging to life.

And a massive winter storm in the south could snarl air travel across the U.S. The extreme weather stretching all the way from Texas to the Carolinas.

We begin with the tragedy in Tucson. Across the nation flags flying at half-staff in honor of those gunned down in the rampage. Two hours from now President Obama will lead the nation in a moment of silence.

We're covering all of the angles of this developing story this morning. We want to begin with our coverage with CNN national correspondent Susan Candiotti who joins us live in Tucson. Susan.

SUSAN CANDIOTTI, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Hi, Kyra.

You know today for the first time the suspect in this case, Jared Loughner, will be facing down a federal judge in Phoenix. He will be hearing the charges against him, again for the very first time. So it's just the beginning of a long legal journey for him as federal investigators again try to piece together what happened.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

UNIDENTIFIED 911 DISPATCHER: Hello. Hello.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: There was a shooting at Safeway.

CANDIOTTI (voice-over): The calls to 911 paint a picture of the chaos that unfolded as a crazed gunman opened fire outside the Safeway grocery store.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It looked like the guy had a semiautomatic pistol. And he went in. He just started firing. And then he ran. There was multiple people shot. UNIDENTIFIED 911 DISPATCHER: OK. Oh, my God.

CANDIOTTI: The man who allegedly pulled the trigger, 22-year-old Jared Lee Loughner, has so far been charged with just the crimes related to victims who were federal employees, including two counts of murder for killing a federal judge and a congressional aide, two attempted murder charge for killing two other aides, and the attempted murder of Congresswoman Giffords.

Loughner apparently isn't talking in custody, and the FBI isn't commenting on his motive.

ROBERT MUELLER, FBI DIRECTOR: I will say and will emphasize there is no information at this time to suggest any specific threat remains.

CANDIOTTI: Investigators did reveal what could be a key piece of evidence. Discovered in a safe in Loughner's home, a letter from Congresswoman Giffords, thanking him for attending a similar neighborhood event back in 2007.

Investigators say they also found a separate envelope with what appears to be Loughner's signature and the following words. "I planned ahead." "My assassination." "Giffords."

Loughner's past also includes a troubled time at Pima Community College, where he was first suspended, and then quit last October after what the school said were multiple run-ins with campus police.

BEN MCGAHEE, LOUGHNER'S FORMER COLLEGE PROFESSOR: He was physically removed after probably the third or fourth week.

CANDIOTTI: To return to campus, Loughner was told he would have to present a doctor's note, stating he would not be, quote, "a danger to himself or others."

(END VIDEOTAPE)

CANDIOTTI: What allegedly pushed a troubled college drop-out over the edge? Was he acting alone?

Well, the FBI continues to talk to a lot of witnesses including extremist groups and so far the indication is he seemed to be operating on his own -- Kyra.

PHILLIPS: All right, Susan Candiotti live from Tucson. Susan, thanks.

We want to take a closer look at the suspect and troubling signs that raise a lot of red flags. The sheriff now in charge of the investigation says that Loughner had rallied against government, quote, "mind control," in online miffs.

His worrisome behavior came to a head at the community college that he attended off and on from 2005 to October of last year. Now campus police talked to him on five separate occasions because of his disruptions. On CNN's "AMERICAN MORNING," we even heard from his college instructor who was rattled by Loughner's bizarre behavior.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

KIRAN CHETRY, CNN ANCHOR: He struck you as somebody that you were actually worried about. You recounted in one interview over the past couple of days --

MCGAHEE: Absolutely.

CHETRY: -- that when you turned your balk to the chalkboard, you -- in the back of your mind -- thought what if he had a gun.

MCGAHEE: Right. Because he was saying these random comments, his outbursts, like how can you deny math instead of accepting it? And I was like, throwing me for a loop there.

CHETRY: And so you --

MCGAHEE: I was very concerned.

CHETRY: You brought it to the attention of the community college officials. And --

MCGAHEE: Counselors.

CHETRY: Yes. Did you have to really come back at them several times to get them to take this seriously?

MCGAHEE: At least two or three times and the dean as well. Until he took final action.

CHETRY: And what was that final action?

MCGAHEE: To ask him to be removed from the class permanently.

(END OF VIDEO CLIP)

PHILLIPS: Loughner has been appointed a public defender who has extensive experience with high profile cases. Judy Clarke defended the Unabomber, Ted Kazinsky and assisted in the case of confessed al Qaeda operative Zacarias Moussaoui.

There's no word whether Clarke will be in court today when Loughner makes his first appearance.

Well, Congresswoman Giffords is in critical condition this morning and doctors say that they are cautiously optimistic that she will survive. That's despite the bullet that passed right through her brain.

The fact that still -- that she's still alive is surprising to a lot of people. So earlier on "AMERICAN MORNING" we talked with our neurosurgeon, chief medical correspondent, Dr. Sanjay Gupta.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) DR. SANJAY GUPTA, CNN CHIEF MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: She was able to follow commands, act prior -- to even going into the operating room, meaning someone was telling her to do something like raise two fingers, she was able to hear that, process that, and then execute the command.

That showed a pretty good high degree of neurological function and also one of the important things in a neurosurgical perspective, as devastating as this injury is and was, that the bullet, the trajectory of the bullet, stayed on one side of the head. That's so important. And it's one of those things in neurosurgery that we know that the lay public may not.

But if the bullet passes left to right or right to left that makes things significantly worse. That did not happen in her case.

(END OF VIDEO CLIP)

PHILLIPS: Now the husband of Congresswoman Giffords has issued a statement as well about this shooting rampage. He says, quote, "Gabby was doing what she loved most, hearing from her constituents when this tragedy occurred."

Mark Kelly goes on to say, "Many of you have offered help. There's little that we can do but pray for those who are struggling."

The congresswoman may have been the most well-known of the victims, but the six people who died have left behind their own grieving families. And heartfelt stories. The victims range from young to the old. And yet another person who led a life of public service.

Christina Green was the youngest victim and at 9 years old her life was virtually book ended by tragedy. She was born on September 11, 2001, the very day of the terrorist attacks.

In fact, she was profiled in a book that featured kids born on that awful day. The book's title "Faces of Hope." Green's parents say that seemed to fit the life that she led for nine years.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ROXANNA GREEN, CHRISTINA'S MOTHER: I just want everyone to know and I think a lot of people that know us and knew Christina Taylor that, you know, we got robbed, she got robbed of a beautiful life that she could have had.

JOHN GREEN, CHRISTINA'S FATHER: There's going to be a lot of those kind of moments that -- I had one this morning waking up. She comes up and says daddy, it's time to get up. And she didn't do that this morning.

(END OF VIDEO CLIP)

PHILLIPS: One of the older victims is being hailed as a hero. Seventy-six-year-old Dorwin Stoddard was trying to protect his wife. He pulled her to the ground and was covering her with his own body when he was shot in the head. He died at the scene.

His wife Mavy was shot three times but survived. Family members tell us she is doing remarkably well and could be released from the hospital very soon.

The federal judge killed in Saturday's shooting was the chief judge for Arizona's U.S. district court. John McCarthy Roll was born in Pittsburgh and worked as a court bailiff earlier in his career. He graduated from the University of Arizona and attended law school at the University of Arizona and the University of Virginia.

He was nominated to the federal court by President George H.W. Bush in 1991 and became chief judge in 2006. Judge Roll leaves a widow. He was the father of three and grandfather of five. He was 63 years old.

We'll have continuing coverage on this tragedy later this hour and throughout the morning. If there's any development we'll bring them to you immediately.

As you know parts of the south are locked in the cold embrace of snow, sleet and a massive ice storm. These pictures came to us from iReporter David Rein right here in Atlanta. Schools and businesses closed across Georgia and the south.

Now getting around by car has also been a challenge. And so is air travel. More than 1600 flights already canceled today. In Little Rock, Arkansas earlier this morning there was a 10-mile interstate backup due to the severe weather.

CNN meteorologist Rob Marciano actually right across the street for us there in Atlanta's Centennial Park.

So Rob, how deep is it? What's it look like?

ROB MARCIANO, AMS METEOROLOGIST: Well, it's not often you get to do a live shots right outside the mother ship of the CNN headquarters for snow. And that's exactly what we're doing this morning.

A crippling snow and ice storm. It's not just Atlanta, as you mentioned. This thing started yesterday afternoon in north Texas, Arkansas, Mississippi, Alabama, many of those spots seeing record snows including Atlanta. Was down at the airport, almost four inches of snow. That was -- that's a record for this date.

Here in downtown we have changed over to sleet. That happened a long time ago. And now a little bit of freezing rain. The roads not very good. I mean they are trying -- some cars have come through Centennial Olympic Park Drive and try to cut through what is now packing down with a hard glaze here, and folks are having a hard time getting up the hill.

So very sporadic traffic on the streets, as you can imagine. A lot of people are just trying to stay home.

We're not equipped for this. We're talking about a city that has over a million people that has only 16 sand truck, only 11 snow plows. Because we don't normally get this. So, it's going to be a tough go getting around. The airport is open, three of five runways open but there aren't flights. They can't take off in this. They can't de- ice.

And certainly it messes up the engines driving around a taxi way or a runway. Power outages, 4,000, outages, people without power in Georgia. There's almost as many in Mississippi. We expect those numbers to grow now that the snow and sleet is beginning to change over to freezing rain.

And this is all moving now to the Carolinas, upstate Carolinas, seeing significant snowfall from Greenville up to Charlotte and this system is going to be making its way up toward the northeast for a blizzard. So -- or potentially a blizzard there.

Unbelievable. It's almost hard to believe we had a white Christmas down across the south and now we've got snow and ice storm that is really shutting this city down.

Kyra, back up to you.

PHILLIPS: All right. We'll keep talking, Rob. Thanks so much.

Bonnie Schneider also here in the CNN Weather Center looking at this storm and kind of the bigger picture. So what do we know?

(WEATHER REPORT)

PHILLIPS: All right, Bonnie, thanks.

Well, politician shot, constituents near her killed. People who need organ transplants denied. Health care, immigration debates turning ugly. Arizona's reputation once again cast in a negative light. We're going to talk about it.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JAN BREWER (R), GOVERNOR OF ARIZONA: I think that it is something that certainly a state would not like to have happen in their state, or -- Tragedies happen, and certainly we know that people should be held accountable and responsible for their actions. It certainly doesn't show favor on the state of Arizona, that we have a lot of good decent people here.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

PHILLIPS: Well, that was Arizona governor Jan Brewer answering a question about her state's reputation. The shootings in Tucson Saturday definitely won't help. We've seen big national issues like immigration, health care, gun laws, through the Arizona prism and much of the light has been very negative.

"The Arizona Republic" worries about it in an editorial, talking about the shooting right here, quote, "This incident will be used to stigmatize Arizona. It will fit into a narrative of the state as a place of hatred and rampant violence." CNN's Don Lemon has more on that negative narrative and how it all got started.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

DON LEMON, CNN CORRESPONDENT: These words caused a firestorm.

CLARENCE W. DUPNIK, SHERIFF, PIMA COUNTY, ARIZONA: Arizona, I think, has become sort of the capital. We have become the Mecca for prejudice and bigotry.

LEMON: The Pima County sheriff and Arizonians have had one bumpy year.

(CROWD SCREAMING)

LEMON: In August, the state enacted a highly controversial immigration policy, the toughest in the nation, requiring police to check the immigration status of people suspected of crimes or pulled over for driving infractions. Critics called it racial profiling, and the governor took heat for backing it.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: What does an illegal immigrant look like?

BREWER: I --

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Does it look like me?

BREWER: I do not know.

LEMON: Even though Democratic congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords' district borders Mexico, she strongly opposed the immigration law. But after she backed President Obama's health care reform law, her Tucson office door was smashed.

Giffords' support also earned her a spot on a list of lawmakers that Sarah Palin wanted ousted. Giffords' district was marked on Palin's website with crosshairs. She spoke about it in March on MSNBC.

REP. GABRIELLE GIFFORDS (R), ARIZONA: The thing is, that the way that she has it depicted has the crosshairs of a gun sight over our district. When people do that, they've got to realize there's consequences to that action.

LEMON: And now that Giffords is fighting for her life from a near- fatal gunshot wound, Arizona has become the catalyst for two new national debates. Gun control and the power of words.

DUPNIK: I think we're the tombstone of the United States of America. That's the ridiculous state to where we have become.

LEMON: Don Lemon, CNN, Atlanta.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

PHILLIPS: And just a day before the shootings, Arizona was blasted because of its decision to cut Medicaid funding. And because of that decision, the state has denied nearly 100 people potentially lifesaving organ transplants. At least two people have died, and people like Randall Shepherd worry that they're next. He needs a heart transplant but can't get it.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

RANDALL SHEPHERD, DENIED HEART TRANSPLANT: It's obvious if the state's broke, it's broke, and I can kick and scream all I want. If there's no money for a transplant, then it's just not going to happen.

I think there's a lot of areas where cutbacks could be made before they get to the transplant cuts, before things that are actually affecting people's -- in a life and death situation. And I really feel bad for the governor, for the legislators, those who had to make this decision. And I certainly wouldn't want to be in their shoes. I wouldn't want to be the one making the call that results in somebody else living or dying.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

PHILLIPS: Now, you may remember, we actually talked to one state lawmaker who's trying to restore funding that would help Randall Shepherd and the others waiting for some type of transplant. He's urging the governor to use federal stimulus money to help.

A spokesperson for Jan Brewer says Democrats were asked more than a year ago for a plan that could work but, so far, all of them have offered up only empty rhetoric.

Well, as shots still being fired in the air, 20-year-old Daniel Hernandez ran into the danger to help Congresswoman Giffords. His brave actions may have saved her life. Hear the compelling story next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

PHILLIPS: In the chaos and tragedy of Saturday's shooting rampage in Tucson, some heroes emerged. One of them, Daniel Hernandez, an intern for Congresswoman Giffords, on the job just five days. You can actually see him, right there, holding Giffords' hand. His actions may very well have saved her life. Daniel Hernandez spoke with Kiran Chetry earlier this morning on CNN's "American Morning."

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DANIEL HERNANDEZ, INTERN FOR REP. GIFFORDS: I don't know if the gunshots were still going on when I was running toward the congresswoman. My only concern was trying to help those that needed the help. And then, after I got there and I saw that the congresswoman had been injured, I saw that she was injured pretty badly and I wanted to make her my first and only priority.

KIRAN CHETRY, CNN ANCHOR, "AMERICAN MORNING": And then, as I understand it, EMS, they had to secure the scene first before they were able to move in safely. Did you at any point think that she wasn't going to make it?

HERNANDEZ: No. Gabby, if you've asked anyone in Southern Arizona, is known for being a fighter, whether it's fighting in Congress for her constituents or fighting for her life now. There was never any doubt in my mind that she would pull through. And she's still going to pull through, because she's definitely a fighter.

CHETRY: This has to be quite overwhelming for you, the range of emotions, people are calling you a hero, you're dealing with your very beloved congresswoman and friend here in intensive care still critical. What -- how are you right now?

HERNANDEZ: I'm doing fine. I think my main concern right now is making sure that we're taking care of those people who lost family members, taking care of their emotional needs, as well as those who are still in intensive care, because it's not just the congresswoman. There are various other people who were injured. And making sure that all of those people who were injured and those who lost family members are in our thoughts and in our prayers.

CHETRY: Also, her staffer, Gabe Zimmerman, right? Thirty years old, very loyal and --

HERNANDEZ: Much beloved.

CHETRY: Said to be loving man, lost his life. What has it been like dealing with that, as well as the congresswoman's injuries?

HERNANDEZ: Losing anyone is a big loss. But Gabe is one of the -- Gabby always had this great skill to attract people who are extremely loyal but also very warm and endearing. And the best people on the planet work for her office, because he is one of the best. So, losing someone like Gabe is a real loss. Not just to her staff but also the entire community.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

PHILLIPS: Hernandez says he doesn't deserve any recognition, but the praises keep pouring in.

The safety of our public servants in the spotlight, why our lawmakers are rethinking their safety, now, and what's being done to protect them. And Alabama among several southern cities hit by a snow and ice storm. Coming up, we'll show you more of the storm's impact, plus we'll let you know if it's headed your way.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(STOCK MARKET REPORT)

PHILLIPS: Well, it's about 6:30 out west now, 9:30 here in the east. Cold and snowy in the south. A giant winter storm has smacked an area from Texas to the Carolinas. A lot of folks not going to work or school today. The snow is so bad here in Atlanta, AirTran Airways actually canceled all flights to and from the city and its world's busiest airport. Gas prices up nearly a dime in the past three weeks, average price nationwide now $3.08 per gallon.

Some new research actually shows the chance of a child developing autism might be tied to how close together the mother spaces the births of her children. That study found that children conceived before the older siblings were a year old and three times more likely to be diagnosed with autism than those born at least three years later.

An hour and a half from now President Obama is asking Americans to pause in silence to honor the victims of the tragedy in Tucson. Here's what we know right now. Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords survived a bullet to the skull during an assassination attempt only Saturday. She was among 20 people shot outside a southern Arizona Safeway, six of those victims died. The representative, now in critical condition, sedated after undergoing emergency brain surgery to save her life.

And this is the suspect, 22-year-old Jared Loughner, a college drop- out painted as a disturbed loner by those who know him. He's due in court at 4:00 p.m. Eastern time.

The Congresswoman targeted on the job while doing the commonplace work for her constituents, chatting at the grocery store. That's what elected officials are supposed to do, listen to the people. The Congressional job approval ratings is at historic low, 13 percent according to the latest Gallup Poll. The Pima County Sheriff's Office says he can actually feel anger mixing with politics.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SHERIFF CLARENCE DUPNIK, PIMA COUNTY, ARIZONA: It's not unusual for all public officials to get threats constantly, myself included. And that's a sad thing of what's going on in America. Pretty soon we're not going to be able to find reasonable, decent people who are willing to subject themselves to serve in public office.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

PHILLIPS: Our Brianna Keilar is live on the hill.

So, Brianna, legislating is definitely taking a backseat to safety concerns for lawmakers right now. Could we actually see a shift in the way our elected officials are protected?

BRIANNA KEILAR, CNN CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: This is certainly part of a discussion right now, Kyra. This is a big concern for lawmakers and their families. And rank and file members of Congress don't have permanent security details.

You know, the discussion right now really seems to be centering around maximizing the measures that are already in place. There's going to be a briefing on Wednesday for lawmakers. This is going to be with the United States Capitol Police, the FBI will take part, the Sergeant at Arms on the House side will be part of this. And they're also going to be briefing of some of the staff members of these lawmakers.

But, there was also a conference call over the weekend, and I think the numbers really speak to this -- 800 people, Kyra, on this conference call. You had members of the House of Representatives, Democrats and Republicans, their spouses, their top aides. And in fact, one member who was on the call said his 22 years in Congress, he's never been on a conference call like this with Democratic and Republican leaders.

This is a big deal here, Kyra.

PHILLIPS: Well, and there's also talk that members of Congress are thinking about carrying guns. What do we know about that now?

KEILAR: Yes. This, in particular, has to do with a Utah Republican, Congressman Jason Chaffetz. He actually says, you know, he's always had a concealed carry permit. But, in light of what's happened, he's going to be thinking about using it a little more.

And he said one of the big concerns for lawmakers, certainly for him is the security at his home. He said it's so easy to figure out where a lawmaker lives. One of the things that he's actually looking at is whether U.S. Marshals should be giving lawmakers some security the way they do for federal judges. He said he may formally propose this in his role as a subcommittee chairman.

PHILLIPS: Got it. Brianna Keilar, we'll be talking more about this.

Also later in the next hour the Arizona shooting echoing the past for a California Congresswoman. Remember Representative Jackie Speier? She actually saw assassins murder her boss. She was shot five times herself. Well, we're talking to her coming up in the next hour of the CNN NEWSROOM. You may be surprised what she says about security around members of Congress.

Snow, ice, and sleet packing a wallop to several states. A look at today's blast of winter weather across the country is next. (COMMERCIAL BREAK)

PHILLIPS: Well, the winter weather is impacting a lot of people this Monday morning. Let's take a look at how some of you are faring as we look across country now.

In Dallas, light snow there has given way to freezing drizzle this morning that could make slick roads hazardous as the slush could thicken to ice. If that isn't enough, morning fog around the Metroplex is hampering visibility for brave motorists.

Then, further east to Memphis, there are plenty of happy school kids today. Memphis City and surrounding county schools, all closed due to the snow. Much of west Tennessee and northern Mississippi are under a winter weather advisories until noon tomorrow.

Then right here in Atlanta, interstate traffic at a standstill, proof positive of the motorists who gave up in the futility of trying to drive through the snowstorm. A plethora of schools and businesses are closed. Winter weather also impacting today's inaugural plans for Georgia's new incoming governor in one of his last official actions. Governor Sunny Perdue declared a state of emergency.

Let's head out to Arkansas. We're talking with Bill Sadler now from the Arkansas State Police to find out how conditions are there.

Bill, what's it like?

BILL SADLER, ARKANSAS STATE POLICE (via telephone): Good morning, Kyra. The travel conditions in central Arkansas are treacherous at this time. The worst area is along Interstate 30, west of Little Rock, in the Benton area near the interchanges of Highway 70, where about 12 tractor-trailer rigs are jackknifed. And through the evening it's been very difficult for motorists to make it through there with those trucks that have blocked the highway.

So, recovery crews have been working with troopers, trying to get the highway cleared. The National Guard has been handing out basic necessities such as food and water to those who have been inching along, or just literally parked in the highway, waiting for the highway to be cleared.

Across the rest of the state, it's pretty much the same story but not nearly as bad.

PHILLIPS: So are you -- what are you advising to those in Arkansas right now, Bill? To just stay home? Stay off the roads? When do you think it will get better?

SADLER: The advisory from the state police is not to travel unless it's just absolutely, positively necessary, particularly in the central Arkansas area. Once some thawing begins to occur, and that may not be until tomorrow, it's going to be treacherous out there. Most local schools are closed. State government offices are closed today because of the weather. So it's not going to get better in the next 24 hours.

PHILLIPS: All right. We'll keep tracking it, as well. Bill Sadler with the Arkansas State Police.

Bill, thanks so much.

Well, the pictures are pretty but sometimes making TV is pretty tricky in this kind of weather. Here's what Rob Marciano's crew was up against this morning. That camera covered in sleet. They tried to clean it off. I don't know if that's an ATM card, credit card, but it's probably got a few gashes in it now. This is what it looks like now.

(WEATHER REPORT)

PHILLIPS: One Congressman is incensed about a Sarah Palin web post. And now that Congressman wants to change the law after his colleague was shot.

Reaction from around the world after the attempted assassination of U.S. Representative Gabrielle Giffords. That story and more ahead in your Morning Passport.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

PHILLIPS: The tragedy in Tucson has had a profound effect on lawmakers and it will not be business as usual on Capitol Hill this week.

Senior political editor Mark Preston at the CNN Politics.com desk with more on that -- good morning, Mark.

MARK PRESTON, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL EDITOR: Hey good morning, Kyra.

Yes, actually here in Washington, D.C. everything is pretty much on a pause as is politics. As we've been reporting over the whole weekend, the idea of repealing the health care bill has been put on hold. We won't see any action on Capitol Hill this week.

We won't see any politicking around it either. Democrats had planned to hold phone banks and rallies all across the country including two in Arizona to try to drum up support for it. Those have all been put on hold, Kyra. So, politics in the wake of this shooting have really been put on pause as it should be.

One thing that has come up is Sarah Palin and what her involvement, if any has been, in the shooting of Gabrielle Giffords.

Well, a lot of people are pointing to this Web posting that she put up called "The Take Back the 20". And what she did was, she put up a map of the United States with gun sights over the districts of 20 Congressional Democrats including Gabrielle Giffords.

Now, this happened back in 2010 and it was for the 2010 election. However, following the shooting a lot of people pointed to that and said this is an example of the heated political rhetoric that needs to stop.

Now, one of her spokespeople, Kyra, did an interview with the conservative host, Tammy Bruce and said in fact this was just a political tool, they never meant to incite violence. She said that anybody that tries to connect this to Sarah Palin, it's appalling. She said it's disgusting if anyone tries to do that.

And in fact, she said that they were not gun sights that were over these 20 Congressional districts Kyra, but in fact they were surveyor symbols. We'll let our viewers decide on that -- Kyra.

PHILLIPS: All right now, Mark, Representative Robert Brady is pretty angry about the Sarah Palin Web post. In fact, you've actually spoken to him about the action that he plans to take?

PRESTON: Yes. And in fact, Bob Brady he is a long time pope (ph) from the Philadelphia area, he plans to introduce legislation that would make it a federal crime to use any language or any symbols that could be perceived as threatening or inciting violence against a member of Congress or a federal official. Now, we know a federal judge was killed in the shooting spree out in Tucson on Saturday. Bob Brady says right now his staff is putting this language together. He said in fact what he's hearing from some of his colleagues is that they are so scared about what's going on specifically the spouses of -- of these colleagues, Kyra, are very concerned about their husbands and their wives.

But let's just leave this on -- on a very good note, Kyra. We're talking about all the sadness. We do have some good news.

Our own Paul Steinhauser and his beautiful wife Leslie had a baby on Saturday, Norah Katherine Steinhauser, she came in at six pound -- six pounds and nine ounces. Kyra, for all the bad news we've been reporting over the weekend, this is certainly some of the good news.

PHILLIPS: Oh, so what do you think, does it look -- who does it look more like?

PRESTON: Well, let's hope it looks like Leslie Steinhauser.

PHILLIPS: Yes, yes.

PRESTON: Rather than Paul.

PHILLIPS: That is true. And obviously a little more calm than our favorite Paul Steinhauser. That's great. Norah Katherine, she's absolutely beautiful and congratulations to Leslie and Paul. That's great. Mark thanks so much.

PRESTON: Ok.

PHILLIPS: We're going to have your next political update in just about an hour. And a reminder: for all the latest political news, just go to our Web site, CNNpolitics.com.

Well, we've reaction from around the world after the shooting of U.S. Representative Gabby Giffords. Your "Morning Passport" next.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JOE ZAMUDIO, WRESTLED GUNMAN TO GROUND: There were people running away as I turned the corner I saw. You could see it was like a wave out from the noise. Everyone in the parking lot was -- is running in their way away from it. You know all the people moving at once.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

PHILLIPS: Well, we're getting reaction from around the world in light of this attempted assassination of U.S. Representative Gabby Giffords.

CNN international anchor, Zain Verjee joining us live from London with a round of responses to this attack. So what are the headlines there, starting in Great Britain -- Zain?

ZAIN VERJEE, CNN INTERNATIONAL ANCHOR: Kyra, this has really captured Britain and the rest of the world's attention.

I want you to take a look at the headline in "The Guardian" newspaper says "U.S. Gripped in Row over Right Wing Rhetoric after Arizona killings". But also went on to say that this really points to the rise of political extremism in the United States.

Kyra, Fidel Castro weighed in, as well, and said this in his column, "Even those who don't share in all that politics or philosophy, we sincerely wish that children do not die, judges, congressman or any citizens of the United States."

I want to share something with you also Kyra, from Amer Mohammed from Egypt who posted this, saying, "Thank God the person who did the crime is no Mohammed or a Muslim but maybe America will conclude the person who stimulated him to do this kind of act was a Muslim."

So a lot of different points of view there Kyra but many people really seeing this as part of an evidence of a charged U.S. political climate.

PHILLIPS: All right. Well, a historic vote now under way in southern Sudan. It cost a few million lives in that nation's bloody civil war.

VERJEE: Yes, it did. You know what's happening there right now, Kyra, is a really huge deal. Because in a few months, we may see the creation of a brand new country, country number 193, I believe. This is a really big deal. Because this part of the world, Sudan, has been under civil war and oppression for so many years; two million people were killed in a civil war.

It's basically because the mainly Arab north was fighting the mainly Christian south. And so what's happening is they're voting in a referendum and they're going to decide whether or not to split from the north and have their own country.

So you know, Kyra, you were seeing like hugging and kissing and high- fives and people dancing in the streets. So this is a really huge deal. There are a few obstacles, though. One, oil, you know, they need to come up with a way to share it because most of the oil is in the south and most of the refineries and pipelines for the oil is in the northern part of the country.

Also there's this area called Abia (ph), that's really oil rich that's right on the border between the north and the south. So they need to figure out the borders, as well -- Kyra.

PHILLIPS: All right, now lastly, Zain, tell us about your rather unique interview subject. A real pirate and we're not talking about Johnny Depp. I know that's who you really wanted to sit down with.

VERJEE: This pirate was nowhere near as hot as Johnny Depp. If he were, Kyra, I would -- I would not be here. But this is not romantic swashbuckling piracy we're talking about. Piracy is a serious crime and it's getting out of control.

So many ships are hijacked and crews are taken hostage for ransom. The reason, Kyra that this really matters to the average person at home is because more piracy means the supply chain of goods that you buy and shop and oil that you use is going to be affected and the prices will go up.

I talked to one pirate when I went to Nairobi and here is what he had to say about why he did it.

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VERJEE: "There are no jobs and no money in Somalia, he tells us. That leaves no options", says Gedi. "You either job the Al-Shabab militia or government forces, or if you have relatives, you become a pirate".

Gedi says "His uncle, a pirate leader, phoned him one day, told him to visit the coastal town of Haradhere (ph) one of many pirate bases".

Like the young men in these pictures, he says, "I was taught to handle a gun, taught about ammunition, how to swim, survive, and how to attack ships."

There is no shortage of men like Gedi. According to one security consultant, more than 400 hostages are now being held from roughly 50 different hijackings since January 2010.

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VERJEE: Kyra, he got $60,000 for the one hijacking he participated in, in 2009. And he used that money to send his brothers and sisters to the UK and the US. And he told me, Kyra, that what he's doing now is waiting for a visa to Mexico so he can get there and then cross over the border illegally into the U.S. for a better life.

Zain Verjee, thanks for weighing in today.

At the top of the hour, we're going to talk to a Congresswoman who knows how dangerous it can be to get close to constituents. That closeness cost her boss his life just outside of Jonestown, nearly killed her, too. We're talking with Congresswoman Jackie Spear next hour.

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