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THE SITUATION ROOM

Deadly Violence Skyrockets In Iraq; North Korea's Nuclear Was Threats Fall Silent; Tsarnaev Brothers Contemplated Suicide Bomb Attack On July 4th; Seven Americans Killed In Plane Crash In Afghanistan; Brain Abnormalities Could Predispose Bombers And Killers

Aired May 4, 2013 - 18:00   ET

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


DON LEMON, CNN ANCHOR: I am Don Lemon. THE SITUATION ROOM with Wolf Blitzer begins right now.

JIM ACOSTA, CNN HOST: New details emerge about the Boston bombing suspects, their alleged plot and hard partying friends accused of a cover up.

Plus, as the National Rifle Association holds a high profile meeting, we will look at the pressure gun control advocates are putting on senators that didn't vote their way.

And a skull leads archaeologists to expose a shocking secret about America's earliest settlers and what they did to survive.

Welcome to our viewers in the United States and around the world. Wolf Blitzer is off. I am Jim Acosta, and you're in THE SITUATION ROOM.

Federal authorities are learning more about the Boston marathon bombing suspects and their plans, including the fact that they initially hoped to launch the attack on July 4th.

CNN's Brian Todd joins us from Boston where he has been doing great reporting for us in the weeks since the bombing -- Brian.

BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Jim, what we are learning from a law enforcement official briefed regularly on the investigation, telling our Susan Candiotti that the Tsarnaev brothers originally contemplated carrying out a suicide bomb attack in Boston on July 4th.

This was before though changed their plans, according to this official moved up the timetable because the bombs they were constructing were completed earlier than they expected. And this official told Susan that the Boston marathon was chosen as a target only a day or two before the event. Now, that if they had carried out that attack in Boston, a suicide bombing attack in Boston July 4th, that's a huge event here in Boston, some 500,000 people gather along the Charles river esplanade to watch fireworks and listen to music. So, you can imagine the kind of carnage that could have been caused by that attack.

Now, the official told Susan that the bombs were built in the apartment in Cambridge, Massachusetts where Tamerlan Tsarnaev lived with his wife and three-year-old child, but the official says it is unclear what, if anything, Tamerlan Tsarnaev's widow, Katherine Russell, knew about the attack. Her attorney, Jim, said she knew nothing about it.

ACOSTA: And Brian, what more do we know about the friends accused of trying to cover up what the Tsarnaev brothers were up to. What more do we know?

TODD: Well, Jim, you know, we are getting new information about the bond the developed between the surviving suspect, Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, two Kazakh students and an American student named Robel Phllipos. It is a bond that brought them together at a small college not far from here called UMass Dartmouth, but it also a bond that ended up with all four being jailed.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

TODD (voice-over): They could related to one another from the start. Russian speakers, immigrants trying to assimilate into American life. But one of them had been at it longer, and the other two gravitated toward him.

Dzhokhar Tsarnaev's friends and acquaintances says was fully Americanized. He could moved easily in different circles. But Dias Kadyrbayev and Azamat Tazhayakov from Kazakhstan struggled with English and with school here at UMass Dartmouth.

Kadyrbayev's lawyer says he befriended Dzhokhar Tsarnaev because Tsarnaev had been in the U.S. a long time, spoke English well, knew the ropes. But Raja Nageswaran, a fellow student at UMass Dartmouth says despite their dependence on Dzhokhar, the two Kazakh students could still create a stir on their own.

They like to get noticed?

RAJA NAGESWARAN, FRIEND OF KAZAKH STUDENTS: Yes. I mean, they had a black car and I saw their car multiple times last semester, and it was very noticeable because they played loud music in their cars and they used to screech their tires all the time. I felt that they wanted to be noticed.

TODD: Nageswaran didn't know the one suspect Robel Phillipos, but says he knew Kadyrbayev, Tazhayakov, Dzhokhar Tsarnaev them from parties they all went to.

What were they like socially?

NAGESWARAN: They were social animals. They used to dance, used to drink and they used to like to play games together with other people.

TODD: What kind of games?

NAGESWARAN: Like FIFA.

TODD: Like Video? NAGESWARAN: Yes, video games.

TODD: The criminal complaint says Dias Kadyrbayev was closer enough to Dzhokhar Tsarnaev that he repeatedly visited Tsarnaev's home and met family members. Court papers say Azamat Tazhayakov once set off fireworks on the banks of the Charles River with Tsarnaev, and that Tsarnaev the two Kazakhs a month before the marathon attack that he knew how to make a bomb. But there's no indication any of the three arrested students knew about the marathon plot. Before he was accused of obstruction, Azamat Tazhayakov 's father said he couldn't be involved.

AMIR ISMAGOULOV, AZAMAT TAZHAYAKOV'S FATHER (through translator): We were shocked. Everyone knows my son, never fought anyone, never been in touch with radicals.

TODD: Phillipos and Dzhokhar Tsarnaev were in the class of 2011 at Cambridge Rindge and Latin high school. All four young men enrolled at U Mass Dartmouth later that year. In a video, we believed he posted on you tube, Robel Phillipos described his background in Cambridge.

ROBEL PHILLIPOS FRIEND OF BOMBING SUSPECT: Grew up in a mild mannered way of living, wasn't too poor, wasn't too rich, I was, you know, average guy.

TODD: Now, friends are trying to piece together how three average guys got caught up in the marathon bombing investigation and may wind up in prison. Was it a calculated attempt to deceive investigators? Nageswaran thinks it may have been a clumsy effort to help a friend.

NAGESWARAN: They might have been scared initially because they're international students. They may have panicked.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

TODD: And their arrest has unsettled the small college once again two weeks after law enforcement agencies swarmed the campus and evacuated it right around the time after Dzhokhar Tsarnaev's capture -- Jim.

ACOSTA: Brian Todd, thanks very much.

Now, authorities were aware of the older brother Tamerlan Tsarnaev well before the bombings in Boston. They had indications he might be radicalized, and even put him on a watch list. So what happened?

CNN's Tom Foreman looks into that.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

TOM FOREMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): A curious trip to Russia, loud confrontation at a mosque, visits to radical Web sites and behavior that made even relatives disapprove. RUSLAN TSARNI, SUSPECTS' UNCLE: What I think was behind it, being losers.

FOREMAN: Just some was enough to have Tamerlan Tsarnaev on at least one government watch list well before the Boston bombings.

Rick Nelson is an expert on government databases.

So, why didn't the watch list prevent this?

RICK "OZZIE" NELSON, CENTER FOR STRATEGIC AND INTERNATIONAL STUDIES: Too difficult for the watch list in and of itself to stop the attack. The watch list is just data. It is information.

FOREMAN: There are many watch lists in government agencies, from border patrol to the FBI to the CIA. And the names of both the older brother Tsarnaev brother and his mother were on one called the terrorist identities data mark environment or tide a low level list of about 700,00 names. Something that came to a first line of defense.

There's no active surveillance of people on tide. Their names are kept in case they show up in connection with other serious threats. Then, they may be bumped up to no fly or selectee lists where they would be scrutinized much more closely just in case an attack is in the works. But --

YUSURI VALI, ISLAMIC SOCIETY OF BOSTON: With these particular suspects, you know, there's nothing that they did that suggested that they were going to do something like this.

FOREMAN: That's the problem. Lone wolves like Eric Rudolph and Unabomber evaded capture because they didn't interact with others enough to reveal plans.

NELSON: At the end of the day it is very difficult because with many of these individuals, we don't know when they are going to cross the line from rhetoric to violent action.

FOREMAN: Secure experts argue watch lists can still be enormously valuable to investigators tracking terror negotiation after an attack. But the fact that the Boston bombings were the work of someone already on a list is now in itself being looked at very hard.

Tom foreman, CNN, Washington.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

ACOSTA: Turning to what's a growing battle over gun control with the NRA's annual meeting underway this weekend, gun control supporters this week deployed some of the most powerful voices, the family members of gun violence victims to confront some senators face to face.

Here is CNN's chief congressional correspondent Dana Bash.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE) DANA BASH, CNN SENIOR CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Caren Teves' son was killed in the Colorado movie massacre.

CAREN TEVES, MOTHER OF SHOOTING VICTIM: Can you let him know that Caren Teves was here again.

BASH: She has been trying unsuccessfully to see her senator, Republican Jeff Flake, since he voted against expanding gun background checks last month.

To capture her frustration, the gun control group mayors against illegal guns sent her to try again, this time inviting cameras.

TEVES: I want him to look the mother in the eye that's lost her child. I want him to see the pain.

BASH: It is just one part of a coordinated effort to use this week's Senate recess to keep the gun control issue alive, despite losing the pivotal background check vote.

Earlier this week, the same group sent Erica Lafferty, daughter of slain Sandy Hook elementary school principal, Dawn Hochsprung to New Hampshire to confront republican senator Kelly Ayotte. They helped CNN get this footage. She also voted against expanded background checks calling them a burden on gun owners.

ERICA LAFFERTY, DAUGHTER TO SANDY HOOK SHOOTINGS: I'm just wondering why the burden of my mother being gunned down in the halls of her elementary school isn't as important as that.

SEN. KELLY AYOTTE (R), NEW HAMPSHIRE: I felt the enhanced improvements to our background check system. And as you and I both know, the issue wasn't td background check system issue in Sandy Hook.

JOE BIDEN, VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: The amendment is not agree to.

BASH: In order to find the 60 votes needed to overcome a filibuster, supporters need to change some half a dozen Senate minds going after Republicans and Democrats.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Mister Baucus?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: No.

BASH: Montana's Max Baucus was one of four senate Democrat to vote no on expanding background checks. A liberal group is trying to pressure him with this new ad, featuring as gun owning grandmother.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Aimed my handgun at the door and waited. Guns can protect us, but we're less safe with guns in the wrong hands.

BASH: The NRA isn't taking anything for granted, pushing just as hard to keep those senators in their corner, running radio ads, praising senate no voters like Ayotte.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: And this is why Kelly had the courage to oppose misguided gun laws.

BASH: Gun control groups insist senators who voted against expanding background checks widely popular are taking a hit with constituents. A new survey conducted by a pro-democratic polling firm showed Ayotte's approval rating dropping and found Flake now the most unpopular senator in the country, prompting him to say on his facebook page that probably puts me somewhere just below pond scum.

Outside flake's office, Caren Teves holds up a letter Flake wrote before voting no, telling her quote "strengthening background checks is something we agree on."

TEVES: After receiving this letter, I would expect senator Flake to look me in the eye and explain why he ignored me.

BASH: A spokeswoman for senator Flake told me the reason he voted on the background check measures was it was written too broadly and would encroach on private sales. But she told me that Flakes hopes change will be made so that he can ultimately support it.

I am also told senator Ayotte is willing to consider alternatives.

Broadly, I'm told by sources that there are discussions going on to revive gun legislation. But, to get the votes to pass, gun control advocates will have to accept something that is watered down, and it is an open question whether they're willing to do that.

Dana Bash, CNN, Washington.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

ACOSTA: Coming up, inside the mind of a killer, our doctor Sanjay Gupta investigates whether biology could help explain the Boston marathon bombings.

And next, chilling images of the final seconds of a doomed flight. Do they contain clues about what caused the fiery and deadly crash?

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

ACOSTA: We are following investigation into the fiery crash of a plane in Afghanistan that killed seven Americans. The stunning video of the plane falling from the sky has gone viral, may provide some clues.

CNN pentagon correspondent, Chris Lawrence, has the latest.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

CHRIS LAWRENCE, CNN PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): There were thunderstorms in the area when the Boeing 747 reportedly shown here stalled and crashed in Afghanistan. So, whether it is one potential cause, weight is another. STEVEN WALLACE, FORMER FAA OFFICIAL: The overall weight has to be within center of gravity limits. If cargo shifts in either direction, it is possible it could go out of the limits.

LAWRENCE: So, it is not just the total, but where that weight was positioned on the plane.

As part of the draw down in Afghanistan, the U.S. has been removing a massive amount of heavy equipment. So this 747 takes off for Dubai with five armored vehicles on board. Each weighing 13 tons and has to be locked in a certain spot. But, if one of the chain attachments were to fail, one loose vehicle could push 20, 30 tons to the rear of the plane.

A lot of people at home wonder, what's the difference between this flight and a 747 they might get on?

WALLACE: Well, This is a 747 400. It is a very widely used commercial passenger airplane with an excellent safety record.

LAWRENCE: And whether you are playing tourist to Australia or holy gear from Afghanistan, balance is essential.

Even carrying the space shuttle discovery on its back, this 747 weighs less than 500,000 pounds. Compare that to the same plane with hundreds of seats, passengers, luggage and food, it can weigh 800,000 pounds.

The airlines are so precise, they add five pounds to the average passenger's weight in winter to account for heavier coats and boots.

Chris Lawrence, CNN, Washington.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

ACOSTA: Coming up, inside the mind of a killer. Could biology explain the motive for the Boston marathon bombers? Our doctor Sanjay Gupta is investigating.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

ACOSTA: Some of the most important clues in the Boston bombing investigation may lie inside the brains of the suspects, possible abnormalities that experts say could have predisposed them to this kind of horrific attack.

Here is our chief medical correspondent doctor Sanjay Gupta.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

DOCTOR SANJAY GUPTA, CNN CHIEF MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT (voice- over): In the wake of tragedy come the inevitable questions, what makes a killer? Is there a switch that turns on a rampage? And why? Why would someone do this?

ADRIANE RAINE, CRIMINOLOGIST: You can say the person's evil. I think that's 13th century thinking. I think we have moved beyond that.

GUPTA: Adriane Raine is a criminologist. He is also the author of the new book, "the Anatomy of Violence." He spent more than three decades studying cold-blooded killers. He says there are biological explanations for violence. And Raine is convinced brain dysfunction may in part explain the terror unleash in Boston.

RAINE: Were they just completely normal people who decided one day you know what, we want to create mayhem, I don't think so. I think it is more complicated than that.

GUPTA: Raine says he first saw echoes of his own work with violent criminals when this image with 19-year-old suspect, Dzhokhar Tsarnaev was released.

RAINE: While others are running away, he was just walking away as cool as a cucumber. I mean, that where he struck me because I have seen this before in psychopaths and murderers in prison.

GUPTA: And then where these photos of the brother who was killed, Tamerlan Tsarnaev, boxing.

RAINE: We have found a neurological abnormality in the brain that predisposes to violence and psychopathy, and is also found in boxers. This is called (INAUDIBLE).

During fetal development as the limb pick regions begin to expand and develop, they compress or fuse the two leaflets all (INAUDIBLE) together. For some people because of mal-development of (INAUDIBLE) system, the gap never closes. It gives rise to lack of fear and psychopathic personality who could go and kill, you know, a number of people and maybe not have any sense of shame or remorse or guilt about doing that.

GUPTA: Now, another seed of fear is this omen shapes structure over here called the Amygdule (ph). This is the brain of a psychopath. And according to Raine's studies, this blue areas over here, they shrink in psychopaths and it makes the (INAUDIBLE) area dramatically smaller.

This part of the brain is very much involved in fear conditioning. You experience when you are thinking of doing something that's not right and then you get that awful feeling, no, I shouldn't do that. If that's broken, then perhaps an individual is more likely to perpetrate a horrific act like the Boston bombings.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

ACOSTA: Wolf Blitzer has more on this story in this interview with Doctor Sanjay Gupta.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: And Sanjay is joining us right now. How difficult was it, Sanjay, for the expert to discuss these alleged bombers without actually examining their brains? GUPTA: Yes. I mean, there's sort of an emerging science quality to this, Wolf. I mean, one thing that Adrian Raine has looked at a fair amount is serial killers. He has evidence on terrorists being able to look into the brains of people who commit mass rampage like this. That's harder data to come by. So, he's looking for similarities, for example, between serial killers and people who commit terrorism and seeing if there are some commonalities there.

So it's not, you know, ironclad by any means, it is an emerging science, but he is the guy sort of trying to investigate this.

BLITZER: What about the role of genetics, the two Tsarnaev brothers obviously related, is there a connection here, genetics and violence if you will?

GUPTA: You know, when you ask researchers who look at OK, how much of this is biology, how much of this is environmental, you get back the answer often it is about 50/50, you know. There's 50 percent maybe related to genetics.

Now, and when you talk about brothers like this, obviously, this becomes a very germane question. Two ways they sort to trying to examine this, Wolf. One is to look at identical twins and try and figure out identical twins who may have been raised in different circumstances, what are commonalities between them in terms of personality type, in terms of potential aggression. Obviously, if there's a criminal record, but also people who have been adopted, Wolf. Here the question becomes OK, if they were raised in a good home, have they had an upbringing that didn't raise any red flags, and yet they still develop some sort of criminal behavior, going back and looking at the birth parents and trying to figure out, you know, just how much of a role each played. But, I think, you know, right now, it is safe to say genetics plays a pretty significant role. They say half and half, Wolf.

BLITZER: Interesting stuff. Sanjay, thanks very much.

GUPTA: You got it, Wolf, thank you.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

ACOSTA: One of the Boston victims gave a dramatic emotional press conference as we got to hospital where he is recovering from shrapnel wounds.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JARROD CLOWERY, INJURED IN THE MARATHON BOMBING: I stopped a split second to tell the young lady here, Jackie, who is my friend's girlfriend, Jackie, get your butt in the street, and boom. And I just remember feeling engulfed like. And I got thrown out into the street, and just like the movies, all of the sound got taken away, and, you know, something inside me said get up, Jared, get up, you're OK, get up. I stood up and I was pretty lucid. And I remember like trying to count my fingers and feel my feet, and I'm standing, and thinking about like these kinds of things that I've learned about over the years. And I look at my hand, it was too much to look at. So I tucked it in. And I feel my legs, look down, I didn't want to look at those any more.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ACOSTA: Doctors say they pulled 40 foreign objects, including nails out of Jarrod Clowery's body.

Just ahead, Syrians under attack and angry. Why some are blaming the United States.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: They are kidding our people, even Washington knows, Washington knows they're tourists.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

ACOSTA: Massive and deadly car bombings in the heart of Syria's capital are raising fear the country's two-year-old civil war is entering a frightening new phase.

Frederik Pleitgen went to the scene of one attacks moments after it happened.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

FREDERIK PLEITGEN, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The wounded were still being evacuated when we arrived at the scene, just minutes after a car bomb ripped through the area in front of a government building. Mohammed Agha was close by when the attack happened.

MOHAMMED AGHA, WITNESS: I saw several bags full of parts of human beings here, they are carrying them (INAUDIBLE).

PLEITGEN: A crater marks the spot where the bomb was detonated, apparently hidden in the mini bus. Security forces are nervous, obviously, after the blast. If you look at the building, you can see just how bad the damage is, windows are blown out, the security fence blown away, and there is a lot of carnage here right in front of the old interim (ph) ministry building.

It is the second major bombings in just two days in Damascus as the civil war Syria drives on. And president Bashar Al-Assad clings to power, many in Syria's capital believe Iraq-style terrors attacks will become more frequent. Some blame Islamist extremist groups and the U.S. for supporting the opposition.

AGHA: They are killing our people, even Washington knows, even the west knows that there are tourists. Why are they providing them.

PLEITGEN: The U.S. says it provide only nonlethal aid to the opposition. And aside from political talk, others, like this woman, are simply shocked at what is happening to their country.

They're all our children, she says and it is sad. We are all Syrians killing each other. If anything, the increased bombings appear to be strengthening the resolve of Bashar Al-Assad supporters.

God, Syria, Bashar, and nothing else these men chant at the blast site while emergency workers are busy picking up the remains of those killed.

Fred Pleitgen, Damascus.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

ACOSTA: The Obama administration revealed this week that it is re-considering whether to arm the Syrian rebels. But the president said he still doesn't know if the Al-Assad regime is responsible for chemical weapons apparently used in Syria's civil war.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We have to do everything we can to investigate and establish with some certainty what exactly has happened in Syria, what is happening in Syria. We will use all of the assets and resources that we have at our disposal, we will work with the neighboring countries to see whether we can establish a clear baseline of facts, and we've also called on United Nations to investigate.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ACOSTA: Wolf talked about the president's Syrian policy this week with Vali Nasr, a former senior adviser to the Obama State Department and author of a new book called "the indispensable nation and its critical of the administration's handling of foreign affairs."

Wolf began asking about the words the president didn't use.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: What do you make of this, Vali?

VALI NASR, FORMER SENIOR ADVISER TO OBAMA STATE DEPARTMENT: Well, the president is very deliberate thinking about whether or not he is going to punish the Assad regime for use of chemical weapons. There's a lot dying on the line. If it is proved chemical weapons were used, they would have to act militarily to punish the regime, if the United States does not do that, then, its international credibility is at stake.

It is also very important what the president didn't say. He did not show a road map how the United States would get involved diplomatically in terms of a no fly zone, economically to address the myriad of problems arising in Syria from the spread of Al Qaeda influence, extremism, and humanitarian crisis. Basically, what he says is that the United States only will get involved if it is to punish the regime for use of chemical weapons. BLITZER: But when you say get involved, no one really believes the U.S. is going to get involved with so-called boots on the ground. But, do you think a no fly zone, air strikes, what the U.S. did in Libya, do you think that's realistic?

NASR: Well, in response to use of chemical weapons, it could use cruise missiles or targeted bombing of a site in order to punish the regime for this use of chemical weapons and deter future use. But actually getting involved in finishing this dangerous conflict requires reviving diplomacy, requires addressing the humanitarian issue, requires talking to the neighborhood about how do we help the opposition in order to change the tide of the war. It requires much more American leadership than we're seeing. It doesn't require boots on the ground, not now.

BLITZER: You served in the State Department, you advised Richard Holbrook, the late American diplomat on Afghanistan and Pakistan. And in your new book, "the dispensable nation," you tell powerful stories about tension between the State Department, the Pentagon on one hand and young aides in the White House. Give us just a headline what you have there.

NASR: Well, in the context of what we're seeing, what Richard Holbrook would have stood for was that the president was handle Syria the way president Clinton handled Bosnia, which is to empower America's diplomats to take leadership, to get the world community together, to create a diplomatic as well as the military path for breaking this conflict and ending it.

Whereas as what we are seeing is that you have a structure that is trying to make sure that the president doesn't take any decisive action on Syria, and to ensure that we stay out of this conflict, the consequence of which is that the conflict is snowballing and it is becoming more difficult to solve.

I think many in the State Department have favor from the beginning, including Secretary Clinton in alliance with General Petraeus of the CIA, that the United States should get involved in Syria much earlier on in order to protect America's interest and prevent this becoming the horrendous conflict it has become.

BLITZER: Certainly is a disaster. The book is entitled "the dispensable nation" American foreign policy in retreat. It is a powerful, powerful book. Vali Nasr is the author. He is also the dean of the John Hopkins University School of Advanced International studies, my excellent alma mater.

Thanks very much for coming in, Vali, for coming in. Congratulations on the new book.

NASR: Good to be with you.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

ACOSTA: Coming up, the reason North Korea's Kim Jong-un has backed off after weeks of threatening the U.S. Did the Obama administration play a role?

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

ACOSTA: Iraq is making news again and it is not good. Deadly violence between Sunni and Shiite Muslims is skyrocketing. Wolf Blitzer talked with our senior international correspondent, Arwa Damon, about the turmoil.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BLITZER: Our senior international correspondent, Arwa Damon, is back on the ground in Baghdad for us. She has been there many, many times over recent years.

Arwa, in a nutshell, how bad is the situation in Iraq now?

ARWA DAMON, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: It's as bad if not worse than it has been in years, Wolf. Many Iraqis are understandably incredibly fearful the country is moving down a path that will see the type of violence that transpired here back when the attacks were at their worst, 2005 to 2008, although for many Iraqis, this tit for tat attacks, the surge of violence really comes as no surprise.

We have been seeing a steady increase in attacks ever since the U.S. military withdrew, those have most certainly intensified especially over the last week. But, the tension that exists between the Sunni and Shiite population, those have also been intensifying, in part aggravated by the actions of the predominantly Shiite government led by Prime Minister Al-Malaki (ph). We have been seeing for months now demonstrations in Iraq's predominantly Sunni areas. We have been seeing clashes and right now, especially when we look at what's been happening over recent times, many people are warning that Iraq really is at a cross roads at this stage, Wolf.

BLITZER: And for this, the United States went to war, I guess a lot of people are wondering the U.S. lost thousands of troops, so many came home injured, spending a trillion dollars, something like that, and the situation there is as chaotic and brutal as ever, if you will. Is that what I'm hearing?

DAMON: Pretty much in a nutshell, yes. Iraq has certainly has not, by any stretch of the imagination, that turned into a thriving democracy. And of course, the situation here is only being further aggravated by what's happening in neighboring Syria. Not only does Iraq have its own set of challenges to deal with when it comes to appeasing the sectarian tensions that exist, but in many ways, what's happening here and what's happening in Syria is part of this greater power struggle between the Sunni and Shiite communities.

BLITZER: And my fear is no matter how long the U.S. stays in Afghanistan, the same disaster is going to be there as well.

All right, Arwa, we'll stay in close touch with you.

(END VIDEO CLIP) ACOSTA: Weeks of saber rattling by North Korea, including threats of nuclear attack have mysteriously ended, but it is too soon to tell if it is because of pressure from China, diplomacy, or necessity.

CNN foreign affairs correspondent Jill Dougherty takes a closer look.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

JILL DOUGHERTY, CNN FOREIGN AFFAIRS CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The strongholds of our enemies will be turned into a sea of flames. After threatening to unleash nuclear war, why have North Korea's young leader and his generals suddenly gone silent?

The U.S. and South Korea just ended a massive two month joint military exercises that infuriated the north. Experts say that might have helped. Another possible reason.

JOHN KERRY, SECRETARY OF STATE: China and the United States must together take steps in order to achieve the goal of denuclearized Korean peninsula.

DOUGHERTY: Secretary of state John Kerry's lobbying trip to Beijing earlier this month, pressing China's new leaders to use leverage to get the north to cool it.

KERRY: And today we agreed to bear down very quickly with great specificity on exactly how we will accomplish this goal.

DOUGHERTY: Korea watchers believe transfers of money from North Korean entities in China back to Pyongyang have been curtailed, and shipments across the border slowed. But, at least on the surface, no public signs China turned up the heat on Kim Jong-un.

PATRICK VENTRELL, STATE DEPARTMENT DEPUTY SPOKESMAN: In terms of de-escalating rhetoric, that is a good thing. But the broader policy goal to remain in place which is the verifiable, denuclearization of the peninsula.

DOUGHERTY: But another possible reason for Pyongyang's silence says one Korean expert lies in the agriculture fields of North Korea.

JOHN PARK, HARVARD UNIVERSITY: In the past there have been cooling off periods that align with a time when manual labor is need in North Korea, and the biggest pool of labor in North Korea in this respect is the military. So right now we're seeing reports of soldiers going off for the planting season.

DOUGHERTY: Park says other soldiers are needed to work in mining and manufacturing, some of the largest state trading companies are allied with the North Korean military, the longer they stayed away, the less money they made.

Earlier this month, the north said it might return to talks on its nuclear program if the U.S. and South Korea would end their military exercises, lift U.N. sanctions, and stop criticizing Kim Jong-un.

Kerry hopes that China will do more and he is using some American leverage telling Beijing that if the north continues to threaten, the U.S. will have to continue maintaining a major military presence in the region, and that's something Beijing doesn't want.

Jill Dougherty, CNN, the State Department.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

ACOSTA: When we come back, a horrifying building collapse overseas is reverberating here in the United States and that could change where and how some on the popular the brand names you buy are made.

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ACOSTA: The fallout from a horrifying, deadly building collapse overseas is reverberating here in the United States. And that could change how and where some of the most popular name brands are made.

Here is our Mary Snow.

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MARY SNOW, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): In Bangladesh, more than a week after a nine story building collapsed, families still search for bodies of their loved ones. Most were garment workers, earning as little as $38 a month. They were pressured to show up for work, despite a warning about a potential collapse. The public outcry that's followed includes the Pope, likening their conditions to slave labor.

Retailers with products made in Bangladesh are facing scrutiny. Disney is now the first brand to pull out of the country's factories, saying in a statement Disney is a publicly held company accountable to its shareholders. And after much thoughts and discussion, we felt this was the most responsible way to manage the challenges associated with the supply chain.

Disney's decision was actually made before this tragedy based on other disasters. It is less than one percent to have factories and sources are located in Bangladesh.

Children's Place is one retailer that says it will not walk away from Bangladesh. The company says it has about 15 percent of its products made there and it says it will now work with other retailers and organizations to put in stricter safety measures.

Wal-Mart, Joe Fresh and the GAP took part in meetings this week to address safety concern, JC Penney, Benetton and Sears have also reaffirmed their support from proving working conditions. But one labor and human rights group says it's not enough, that the U.S. government needs to be involved.

CHARLES KERNAGHAN, INSTITUTION FOR GLOBAL LABOUR AND HUMAN RIGHTS: If corporate monitoring doesn't work, we need the right to know which garments are in which factories. And we need to have laws, enforceable laws to protect the rights of the workers.

SNOW: Among shoppers, one woman told us she will no longer argue with her family about going with the cheaper response.

And my response used to be why do you have to spend extra money, and you know, like you're spending a $10 backpack and it is costing 40 dollars. And you know, why can't we just buy the $10. You know, I'm beginning to understand why.

SNOW: Will you be thinking twice about where you shop?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Definitely. That was devastating. I mean, for people to die that way.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: People continue to shop in these places because the prices are so cheap. I would still do it.

SNOW: It says to me that the garment factory and Bangladesh makes up 77 percent of export in the country which is a $20 billion industry.

Mary Snow, CNN New York.

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ACOSTA: Up next a new discovery in a 400-year old mystery that goes back to America's earliest settlers. Turns out they had some secrets.

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ACOSTA: Archaeologists appear to have solved a 400-year old mystery that goes back to America's roots. It's a startling discovery about the way some early settlers, apparently survived a brutal winter while others starved.

Here's CNN Lisa Sylvester.

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LISA SYLVESTER, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): They came by ship with their hopes. James Town, the first permanent English settlement in North American in 1607. It was long believed that James Ford on the island had overtime washed away.

But in 1994 archaeologists work in the area started finding the remains of the original fort. And then, something even more astounding was discovered last year. Archeologists say this skull belonged to a 14-year-old girl of European descent. This is what they believed she looked like. They are calling her Jane. She was on board a ship that arrived in 1609. It couldn't have been at a worse time. The food supplies they were bringing in end Los Angeles were lost or spoiled in a severe storm. And the tensions were high between the Indians and the settlers. JAMES HORN, VICE PRESIDENT, RESEARCH COLONIAL WILLIAMSBURG: The fort is cut off, it's besiege by the power of times and these 300 men, women and children are trapped within the confines of the fort itself.

SYLVESTER: For hundreds of years, it's been a mystery how did the settlers survive. They had only enough food to last two months just as winter was settling in, a winter known as the starving time of James Town. No food, diseased, and war.

HORN: In the records there were accounts of the fact that when things were so desperate and it was very hopeless for the columnists that they resorted, some resorted to cannibalism. But, they were kind of making enigmatic references, some believed it, some didn't.

SYLVESTER: But now, they say they had evidence, the skull. It was found in an abandoned cellar of the fort. Douglas Owsley is a world famous forensic anthropologist. He says the cuts on Jane's jaw were from a very sharp knife consistent with effort to remove fresh consistent with cannibalism.

DOUGLAS OWSLEY, SMITHSONIAN'S NATIONAL MUSEUM OF NATURAL HISTORY: I can tell you that violence in terms of the mutilation of the bones, the fracturing, there's no way that this is just trauma. They have a very clear intent and the clear intent in this instance is the need to remove thus for consumption.

HORN: This discovery really to me has made such an impact on my empathy with the hard ships that the settlers went through for that time period and how close James Town came to failing. If it failed, the course of American history would be very different.

SYLVESTER: November of 1609, there were 300 settlers. At the time more provisions arrived the next spring, there were only 60 settlers left.

Lisa Sylvester, CNN. Washington.

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ACOSTA: And finally this evening, one of the final pieces of the tallest building in the western hemisphere is helping New York rise on the ashes of ground zero.

Here's CNN's Jeanne Moos.

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JEANNE MOOS, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): It's what people record, the star on top of the tree, the ball above times square and now New York's newest ornament has been lifted, the spire that will top off the world trade center.

The antenna on the world trade center was the last thing to come crashing down and now we've come full circle a new spire going up with an American flag attached for the construction workers --.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: To see this come off and cap it off, it's a beautiful moment for everybody, not just New Yorkers but America.

MOOS: Workers applauded as the spire was lifted. It was serve as a broadcast transmission center. There will be a beacon on top.

STEVE PLATE. WTC CONSTRUCTION WORKER: The beacon will be seen for miles around and give a tremendous indication that we're back and better than ever.

MOOS: Workers on lower force took pictures as this fire was hoisted pass them atop the 104 floor building workers savor the moment with upraised arms and dangling feet.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We just keep on getting up doing what we have to do.

MOOS: A giant crane lifted the 22 ton sections, the spire went fully installed and bring the building to a height of 1776 feet, the date America declared its independence.

This was the view from up there, with the spire looking like a rocket suspended over Manhattan, lift off.

Jeanne Moss, CNN. New York.

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ACOSTA: Welcome Sight.

Remember, you can follow what's going on in the SITUATION ROOM on Facebook. I'm Jim Acosta in THE SITUATION ROOM.

The news continues next on CNN.