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CNN NEWSROOM

Boys Kidnapped in Florida; Children Die in Dirt Wall Collapse; Slain Texas D.A. Honored; Jodi Arias Claims Domestic Abuse; Obama Pushing Gun Control; Airline Losing Your Luggage; Congress Returns from Spring Break; Annette Funicello Has Died

Aired April 8, 2013 - 13:00   ET

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


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SUZANNE MALVEAUX, CNN ANCHOR: Tributes and remembrances pouring in from around the world in reaction to the death of former British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher.

Tragedy in North Carolina. Two young children buried alive at a home construction site. The latest report live up next. And many people, they go to Cuba, so why all the fuss over Jay-Z and Beyonce's recent trip? We're going to tell you why some say the celebrity couple could be in hot water.

This is CNN NEWSROOM, and I'm Suzanne Malveaux. We go to south Florida. Two boys now missing. Investigators in Tampa say that their father took them from the grandmother's home, tied up the grandmother and then took off with the kids. They believe they're actually on a sailboat with the mother, two-year-old Chase and his four-year-old brother, Cole. Both last seen in their pajamas.

I want to bring in Sara Ganim in -- who's in Miami here. First of all, explain this to us. The parents don't have legal custody over the boys but the grandmother did. Why?

SARA GANIM, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, this all goes back to June of 2012, Suzanne. That's when this family was actually taking a road trip heading back to Louisiana. In a town in Louisiana, they were in a motel when there was a disturbance and the police were called. When they arrived, they found that the parents were acting strangely. That, in addition to finding weapons and a small amount of drugs, they decided that they felt the kids were in too much danger and they actually took them into custody.

And they were in foster care for some time in Louisiana and the father, Joshua Michael Hakken. At that point, police say even went to the foster home armed and tried to take his kids back at that point. Now, he didn't -- he wasn't successful. He left. The foster parents called police. And then just Wednesday morning, he did this again while these kids were in the care of their maternal grandmother. And from there, you know what happened.

MALVEAUX: So, Sara, do they believe that these kids are in danger? That he would harm his own children? GANIM: You know, I spoke to a sheriff's deputy this morning in Hills Borough County. And he told me that all indications, at this point, are that the kids are not being harmed. And that they really wanted the parents to know this is an opportunity for them to reach out to law enforcement, to return home safely and then they could talk. This is clearly about a custody issue. And it's something that they want to be able to talk to these parents about. They want this situation to end well.

MALVEAUX: And, Sara, I understand they've also tried to get some other family members involved in all of this to try to convince them to hand over these kids?

GANIM: Right. You know, that same sheriff's deputy told me that this family's really been estranged from family members on both sides for several years. But they are taking all of the precautions that they normally take reaching out to people that they might have had contact with in trying to find these kids. Now, really, the main focus right now, I have to say, is on this boat called The Salty. And they left from the St. Petersburg area on Wednesday morning. There's surveillance video and there were witnesses that saw them get on the boat with the kids. And now, it's just a matter of searching that massive coastline with the help hopefully of other boaters to try and find them.

MALVEAUX: All right. Sara, give us an update when you have a sense of where those kids might be, if they find them and whether or not they're OK.

Tragic story out of North Carolina. Recovering the bodies of two kids, they were buried alive after a dirt wall collapse. And crews, they were digging since late last night really in a desperate search for a six-year-old girl and seven-year-old boy. Shannon Travis is in our D.C. Bureau with this story. Shannon, is there any sense at all, do they think, that they might be able to find these children? And do we know who these children are?

SHANNON TRAVIS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes. Suzanne, they actually have found them. Moments ago, I spoke with the sheriff of Lincoln County, David Carpenter. He told me the names of the two children who died in this tragedy. James Levi Caldwell, he was the 7-year-old boy. And Chloe Jade Arwood, she was the 6-year-old girl. They were cousins, Suzanne.

The sheriff also tells me, this property was owned by the father of the boy. He says it's still unclear exactly what was being built and unclear if the proper permits had been obtained. That will be part of the ongoing investigation. Of course, we're talking about a massive dirt pit some 24-feet deep and 20-feet wide, Suzanne. Officials say the father had been working on the pit when apparently the two children were trying to retrieve some small childlike pick ax. When they did, this wall of dirt simply collapsed on them. Officials say they found the children this morning after 12 hours of digging and clawing. One body found at 6:00 a.m., the other at 7:00 a.m.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) BION BURLESON, LINCOLN COUNTY EMERGENCY SERVICES: We've been working a horrific scene here at this location for -- since 6:00 yesterday afternoon. That situation has now come to a close. The two young children's bodies have been recovered from the pit in which they were at.

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TRAVIS: Some 75 workers had been desperately searching for the children, digging through dirt with their bare hands. But after a while, it became clear the children could not have survived under so much dirt and without any oxygen. Sheriff Carpenter would not say the investigation will look at potential criminal wrongdoing. He is saying that whatever information they find will be presented to the district attorney to determine if charges will be filed -- Suzanne.

MALVEAUX: All right. Shannon, thank you. Such a tragic story.

There is also sadness, mourning today, this is in Kaufman county, Texas. A special ceremony for the county's district attorney, Mike McLelland. who you might recall was shot to death at his home. This happened just a little bit more than a week ago. McLelland's wife also was killed. There is a group known as the honor network. They are handling this ceremony. And what is going to happen here, they're going to fly flags at half staff at the courthouse to honor him as well as his wife. And police, they are still searching for the killers.

Now in Arizona, the Jodi Arias trial back in session this hour. And there's a psychotherapist back on the stand. She's been testifying that Arias was a victim of domestic violence and abuse. And the big question, of course, whether or not the jury is buying this.

Our Ted Rowlands covering the trial from Phoenix. So, Ted, tell us a little about this. Back in court again. We haven't heard what has happened for a little bit now. And now she says domestic abuse is in fact the reason why. How are jurors reacting, can you tell?

TED ROWLANDS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, it's been contentious, some of the testimony, Suzanne. Right now, they have begun today's session behind closed doors in chambers. Jodi Arias is back there with the judge and the attorneys. Not sure what the issue is today. It's another delay in this trial that's gone on for four months.

Alyce LaViolette will be back on the stand when court resumes. And this is the psychotherapist you're talking about. And she has painted a picture using some text messages sent by Travis Alexander to the jury that it would be possible because of the abuse that Jodi got from these -- from Travis Alexander, she's proving through the text messages, verbal abuse mainly, but she's trying to paint the picture to the jury that it was possible that Jodi Arias could have been reacting in self-defense. The prosecution totally disagrees with not only that theory but with Alyce LaViolette. Take a listen to a little bit of testimony of her going at it with Juan Martinez. It is very contentious.

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ALYCE LAVIOLETTE, PSYCHOTHERAPIST: You interview them. You ask questions. You do an assessment.

JUAN MARTINEZ, PROSECUTING ATTORNEY: So, when you're interviewing, you're not talking then, right?

LAVIOLETTE: Mr. Martinez --

MARTINEZ: Yes or no? My question is are you talking, yes or no?

LAVIOLETTE: Mr. Martinez, are you angry at me?

MARTINEZ: Ma'am, is that relevant to you? Is that important to you?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Ladies and gentlemen, please refrain from laughing in the courtroom.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ROWLANDS: And again, Suzanne, Alyce LaViolette expected back on the stand when court resumes and we are expecting that prosecutor, Juan Martinez, who is very aggressive with all the witnesses, will continue in that (INAUDIBLE) as he continues to cross examine this very key witness for the defense.

MALVEAUX: And, Ted, very quickly remind to our viewers exactly what this case is about. I mean, this is a woman who killed her boyfriend and now saying it's self-defense, but some people have a hard time understanding or believing her story.

ROWLANDS: Well, because she has lied repeatedly as to what has happened. Originally, she says, I wasn't there when her boyfriend, Travis Alexander, was found dead stabbed 27 times and shot. She said I wasn't there. Didn't know anything about it. Well, then when they started to show her the proof they had that she was there, she said, oh, I was there but there were some intruders came in and I just ran. Then she changed her story again to say, OK, I was there. I did kill him. But I did it in self-defense. The defense has a long road to go to try to convince this jury that now she's telling the truth. But this witness on the stand, it is really a good weapon for them because she's bringing to life the victim in this case as a potential abuser at least making it a possibility. But again, she's lied many times before.

MALVEAUX: All right. Ted, thank you. Appreciate it.

Here's what we're also working on for this hour. The president heading to Connecticut once again pushing gun control.

And don't you hate when an airline loses your luggage? Makes you miss the connecting flight. Well, there's a new report that is out now that you're going to want to hear. It is the good, the bad and the ugly of the country's airlines, up next.

And a study raising a lot of questions about a new possible link between red meat and heart disease. We're going to have answers after a quick break.

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MALVEAUX: Back to work for members of Congress as they return from their spring break today. One of the top items on the agenda, of course, immigration reform. The so-called gang of eight senators from both parties supposedly close, perhaps close to a deal. One sticking point, however, has to do with visas and wages for agricultural workers. A source telling us that the senators, they've agreed on some of the other tough issues including a so-called path to citizenship for undocumented immigrants.

Well, guns, government spending, 2016 presidential race, all those things all our political hot topics today. I want to bring in our own Wolf Blitzer, anchor, of course, of "THE SITUATION ROOM." Wolf, good to see you as always. I want to start off with something the president's focusing on as well. This is guns. You've got Senate negotiators now trying to come up with this compromise to expand, if you will, some kind of reform. Do we think that they are really close, especially when it comes to background checks?

WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR, "THE SITUATION ROOM": It's really amazing when you think about it as far as the background checks are concerned. All of the recent public opinion polls show overwhelming support, Suzanne, among the American public for universal background checks. In other words, anyone going to a gun show or going to a private individual to purchase a gun, there should be a background check to make sure that criminals, mentally ill, terrorists, people who are convicted felons shouldn't be allowed to buy guns.

Most recent poll show about 90 percent favor that, eight percent or nine percent don't support that. But it's going to still be a tough, tough road to get that approved in the United States, Congress, especially in the House of Representatives, right now where there still is this pretty strong -- among a lot of conservative Republicans and some Democrats, some pretty fierce opposition to expanding these kinds of background checks despite the overwhelming support of the American public. It's one of those things that happens in Washington when you have a lot of -- a lot of members of Congress who are totally, totally committed to making sure there's no reduction in the opportunity to go ahead and buy weapons.

So, it's a serious problem for the Obama administration and for a lot of the proponents of expanded gun control in the United States. Forget about the assault weapons type ban, forget about the magazine -- the magazines, trying to reduce that. They're going to have enough trouble just trying to get the expanded backgrounds check in place. By no mean it's a done deal.

MALVEAUX: How does the president actually get over that? Because you know, he's trying to build momentum here obviously visiting Hartford, Connecticut. This is not far from where the school massacre took place. Does he think that that kind of strategy to get people riled up is going to put enough pressure on the senators to get something done? BLITZER: They've got a full court PR press this week. The president in Connecticut today, the Vice President will be out full-force this week, the first lady doing separate events on guns this week. I think the president today is going to be pretty emotional. He will meet with some of the family members of those killed, the 20 first graders, the six educators, killed in that elementary school in Newtown, Connecticut. You'll see, I think, we'll see a pretty emotional president when he finally does speak around 5:45 p.m. Eastern later today. And it's all part of his strategy at least to try to get that expanded version of background checks passed through the House and the Senate. That's the thrust. But I guess the best thing he can do from his perspective is continue the bully pulpit. He and his top advisors will be continuing it this week.

MALVEAUX: Wolf, we got to talk about this. Obviously a lot of speculation Hillary 2016. Over the weekend we heard from the former president Bill Clinton saying this, he says, "America will have some very good choices for president." Are you reading the tea leaves?

BLITZTER: I don't think you have to be a genius to suspect that Hillary Clinton would still very much like to be President of the United States or that her husband, the former president, or their daughter Chelsea would like her to be President of the United States. The first woman president of the United States. I think she still has that fire in her belly, if you will.

The only thing that would stop her in my opinion, someone who's spent 20 years covering the Clintons, it would be if her health deteriorated if that blood clot in her head, for example. And we hope she's completely cured from that for her to come back. If there were any health-related issue. She would be 69 years old if she were elected president in 2016. That's the same age Ronald Reagan was when he was elected president. If she's healthy, I suspect she's going to run. I think her family would like her to do so as well.

MALVEAUX: She looks very good. So we'll see if she gives it a go. And, Wolf, I know you've spoken to just about everybody including the former British prime minister Margaret Thatcher. Any thoughts or memories of her as well?

BLITZER: One thing sticks out. I was our CNN Pentagon correspondent on August 1, 1990 when Saddam Hussein sent 100,000 Iraqi Republican guard elite troops into Kuwait and went through Kuwait like a knife goes through butter, if you will. President George H.W. Bush was obviously then the commander in chief and he spoke with Margaret Thatcher. He was close with her when she was British prime minister. She writes in her memoirs but at the time it was widely reported when she said, I'll read you the quote, "this is no time, George, to go wobbly."

And she strengthened him. She encouraged him to make sure that the U.S. would not allow this Iraqi aggression in Kuwait to stand. As we all know, there were six months of a build-up. Half a million U.S. and coalition troops during operation desert shield and eventually in January of '91 resulted in Operation Desert Storm and the Iraqis were kicked out of Kuwait. Kuwait was liberated. She played a very significant role in making sure that the President of the United States was firm and responsive. And I think everybody agrees to that.

MALVEAUX: All right. Wolf, thank you very much. Appreciate it. Up next, gas prices going down, but for how long? We're actually going to get some answers for you on that. But first, stock market hitting record highs, might be wondering if it's too late to get in, but a smarter question might be whether or not it's time to get out. Christine Romans with that.

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CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN BUSINESS CORRESPONDENT: Kenny Rogers sang about it in "The Gambler," but knowing when to hold and fold is key to stock market wealth. Dow just wrapped up its best first quarter since 1998. The other major indexes have also soared, but you don't make any real money until you sell. One strategy is to cash-out to lock in your gains.

AMY SMITH, MARKET COMMENTATOR, INVESTOR'S BUSINESS DAILY: Most stocks that have great earnings and sales will run up on average historically about 20 to 25 percent before they begin pulling back in price. So you might want to think about locking in some profits at 20 to 25 percent.

ROMANS: And if you bought a stinker even in this bull market, don't hang on.

SMITH: You should always consider selling a stock if it falls seven to eight percent below what you paid for it.

ROMANS: If a company's profits start to decline, that could be a warning to get out.

NED RILEY, CHAIRMAN, RILEY ASSET MANAGEMENT: The first thing I tell people is to watch the momentum in earnings year over year. If there's a deterioration in the growth rate of a company's earnings, the one should be weary.

ROMANS: Weary is exactly how some money managers feel about this market. CNNMoney surveyed nearly 30 of them. Their prediction, stocks won't end the year much higher than they are now. Others say we're due for a pullback.

CARTER WORTH, OPPENHEIMER ASSET MANAGEMENT: One year, two year, three years, it's a great bull market. History shows when you have very euphoric bull phases, they give way to corrections. It's a normal think. From the November low we're up about 20 percent. And at this point this is exactly where a normative pullback or correction or pause occurs.

ROMANS: Problem is, most of us can't time the market, which is why the Oracle of Omaha's advice may apply.

WARREN BUFFETT, STOCK MARKET GURU: You want to be greedy when others are fearful and fearful when others are greedy.

ROMANS: So, next time you check your 401(k), ask yourself, are your feeling greedy? Christine Romans, CNN, New York.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

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MALVEAUX: Breaking news now. Annette Funicello has died. She was a Mouseketeer, known as the queen of the Micky Mouse Club. Want to bring in Nischelle Turner.

She was my favorite. I loved her. She was my all-time favorite.

NISCHELLE TURNER, CNN ENTERTAINMENT CORRESPONDENT: Just like so many people she was their favorite. We have today a lot of celebrities that had that one name, Madonna, sure. But she was pretty much the first who you could just say Annette and everyone knew who you were talking about.

She did pass away. We got official word from Disney. She was 70 years old. They say she died from complications with multiple sclerosis. She had been diagnosed with it in her later years reportedly she was pretty much bedridden, being fed through a tube at 70 years old.

Like you and so many others, they just loved watching her. She was that all-American girl. And interestingly enough, her name, Annette Funicello, she was Italian. At first the folks at Disney thought maybe she should change her name to something more Americanized. But then Walt Disney fought against it and said absolutely not. She's so original, unlike anybody we've ever seen and had as a mouseketeer. So we're going to keep it. So they did. She was 13 when she auditioned for him.

MALVEAUX: How old -- well, how long was she on Mickey Mouse? Because it seemed like she was the one that who just carried it all the way through.

TURNER: Exactly. Three seasons she was a mouseketeer and Disney kept her under contract and that's when they started making the movies, the ones we remember with Frankie Avalon on the beach, the beach blanket bingo, all of those movies that --

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MALVEAUX: She also sang too I understand.

TURNER: She did.

MALVEAUX: She was a singer as well.

TURNER: She did. Had a romance with Paul Anka as well and reportedly wrote "Puppy Love" and "Put Your Head on my Shoulder" because of her.

MALVEAUX: She was so beautiful.

TURNER: Just extremely beautiful. So you said, she reminds you of your mother. I know. Just a beautiful very classic beauty. And like we said, she kind of kicked off that teen dream boat stage. All the boys had a crush on her and all the girls wanted her to be their best friend.

MALVEAUX: She was amazing. Later in life what did she end up doing?

TURNER: You know, she still kind of dabbled here and there in the industry. But once she was stricken with MS and diagnosed, it became kind of her fight. And, you know, she struggled with it in her later years. And now we're seeing apparently she did die from complications. But we all know and love and remember her for her singing and acting and just kind of bringing a little levity and light to those, you know, 60's movies, iconic beach movies that we love.

MALVEAUX: Yes. We loved her. Does the Mickey Mouse Club, does it still live on? Or is it living on through basically what she used to do?

TURNER: It evolved into what we knew later in life when we saw the Justin Timberlakes and Britney Spears, and the Christina Aguileras become mouseketeers. But I would say as big and popular as they are now, she was still the mouseketeer that everyone knew and loved. She kind of made the way and paved the way for them to have the success on the Mickey Mouse Club that they did. Because everyone knows and loved Annette.

MALVEAUX: Annette Funicello. Well, certainly our condolences to her family, but wonderful memories.

TURNER: She did have a loving husband that took care of her in the later years and stood by her side in her fight with multiple sclerosis.

MALVEAUX: All right. Thanks, Nischelle. Appreciate it. We'll have more. We're going to take a quick break.

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MALVEAUX: Bit of good news here. Gas prices are now down five straight days in a row. National average down more than 30 cents from its highest point last year. Want to bring in Alison Kosik at the New York stock exchange. How long is it going to last, Alison?

ALISON KOSIK, CNN BUSINESS CORRESPONDENT: That's really the question. What it seems like is that oil prices may have bottomed out or topped out at this point. The thinking is they may go a few cents lower than where they are right now but really they're going to hold right around where they are. You know, it's interesting the past two years prices peaked around this time in April and May. And then they fell. Hopefully we've already hit the peak for 2013.

Of course what can (ph) throw things off course is oil prices. Oil prices can be so volatile, they're based on the economy here in the U.S., they're based on geopolitical events both here and overseas. So that can really be the wild card in moving oil around. Of course, oil prices they make up the good part of what makes up that gas price. Suzanne?