tv CNN Newsroom CNN May 20, 2012 11:30am-12:00pm PDT
>> art, as vitali says, is a continuum. and for a legend like him, the years past tell a rich history. the years ahead offer a hopeful view, because of ubaldo's quiet dedication, rare talent, and persistent invention, it would the seem the conversation between man and art is far from over. for more on this episode and other agents of change, please go to cnn.com/thenextlist and join me on my live stream at cnn.com/sanjay. you can see my videos, blogs, and tweet as well as behind the scenes photos. i'm dr. sanjay gupta. we'll see you back here next sunday. hello, everyone. you're in the "cnn newsroom." i'm fredricka whitfield. the man responsible for one of
the deadliest terror attacks against americans has died. abdul bassett al megrahi is the only person convicted of the 1988 bombing of pan am flight 103 over lockerbie, scotland. al megrahi's family says the former libyan and intelligence officer passed away today at a hospital in tripoli. he was 60 years old. his death comes 2 1/2 years after his release from a scottish prison. al megrahi was let go on compassionate grounds because he had prostate cancer. he was expected to live only a few months. at the time of his 2009 release, the victims' families were outraged after he received a hero's welcome in libya. 270 people died when pan am flight 103 went down just minutes after takeoff from a london airport. the plane was bound from new york and more than half of the passengers were american. joining me now from new york, burt amorman. he lost a brother in that attack. he's also a former spokesman of
an organization representing the victims' families. good to see you, burt. so what are your initial thoughts upon learning of al megrahi's death? >> when i received the phone call about 8:30 this morning, i was pleased. he's finally left this earth. it was tempered because i was exhilarated when gadhafi was overthrown and killed last year. he was the big fish in this story. and on that day, megrahi became a small actor in this play. but please understand, i cannot emphasize this strong if you have, this is not the last chapter in pan am 103. >> it is not. so you are not satisfied with just the death of al megrahi and moammar gadhafi. you believe there is still more justice? >> oh, there's no question. a couple months ago, the french arrested a guy by the name of sanusi, who was gadhafi's chief intelligence officer. he has the key to the truth of pan am flight 103 and it's up to the obama administration and the cameron administration to aggressively interrogate him to get the truth.
i don't want know if they will, because i don't know if our government and the british government have the stomach to find the truth, because i believe it will lead to the doors of iran and syria. >> you don't have much confidence that the u.s. or the uk will further pursue anyone connected to the fligbombing of flight 103. >> it's now up to obama and it's now up to cameron. the families have persevered for 24 years and along with the support of the media, we've kept this as a front-page story worldwide and i do believe we could put the pressure on them to find the truth and i would love to meet with president obama. i met with bush 41 on april 3rd, 1989, for over 90 minutes regarding flight pan am 103 and i would love to have that one to one meeting with the president. >> well, let us know if that indeed comes to fruition.
berth ammerman, thanks so much. an all-important meeting in chicago before the meeting of the nato summit. president barack obama sat down with the president of afghanistan to talk about troop withdrawals. cnn's foreign affairs reporter elisa lavette is joining us. let's talk about that discussion between obama and karzai. what happened? >> reporter: they just met a little while ago, and basically, fred, it's all about getting afghanistan ready for the handover. at first, after 2013, afghanistan's security forces will have the lead for all afghan operations. there won't be any nato forces in a combat role. and after 2014, all nato troops will be out. so it's all about trying to train up the afghan security forces. president obama and afghan president karzai have hat in hand, looking for allies to help foot the bill for those afghan security forces. and president obama letting president karzai know that the
u.s. and nato allies will not be abandoning afghanistan. let's take a listen to what he had to say. >> the world is behind the strategy that we've laid out. now it's our task to implement it, effectively. and i believe that we can do so in part because of the tremendous strength and resilience of the afghan people. >> reporter: and so, fred, they're also going to be talking about what that post-nato role is. after 2014, how is nato going to be working in afghanistan with the afghan forces and the afghan government. and you see right now, secretary general of nato, anders grassman. today they'll be discussing smart defense. how in this time of tight budgets, how can nato do more with less? that's about sharing and pooling
resources and capabilities, such as drones, such as intelligence. they're also going to be talking about partnerships. how nato can partner with other countries, if you remember, in libya, it wasn't just nato allies that took part in that operation. it was also countries like qatar and the uae. so a lot of talk about today and tomorrow it's all afghanistan all the time. >> elise, thanks so much. while you were talking, we are looking at these live images of the president of the united states along with the nato secretary general, welcoming in many of those leaders, all there in chicago for this nato summit. thanks so much, elise. all right, right now, italy is serving the damage after a strong earthquake shook parts of the country earlier this morning. the u.s. geological survey says the epicenter of the 6.0 quake was just north of bologna. workers are still digging through the rubble, looking for survivors.
at least seven people are dead and 50 injured. a chinese activist is enjoying some rest and relaxation with family in new york today, but his journey here was a long and difficult diplomatic process. we'll talk to one of the people who made it possible. ♪ why do you whisper, green grass? ♪ [ all ] shh! ♪ why tell the trees what ain't so? ♪ [ male announcer ] dow solutions use vibration reduction technology to help reduce track noise so trains move quieter through urban areas all over the world. together, the elements of science and the human element can solve anything. [ all ] shh! [ male announcer ] solutionism. the new optimism.
south carolina coast on alert. bonnie schneider in the severe weather center with more on that. bonnie? >> hi, fredricka. it is unusual to have a storm in both the atlantic and the pacific in advance of the atlantic season june 1st. here we are in late may and we have tropical storm alberto that we are tracking off the coast of the carolinas. yesterday, this looked a lot more impressive than it does right now. our satellite perspective doesn't show much in terms of convection. the storm has really weakened a bit as it's drifted over cooler waters. yesterday it was over the gulf stream. now it's over slightly cooler waters. alberto's losing its punch. with that said, we have a tropical threat with a watch posted. as you can see, right along the georgia into south carolina coast, and that will continue for much of the day today. we still run that risk of strong tropical storm force winds. this is an area that's, unfortunately, been stricken with drought. so any rain really would be beneficial. i don't think we're going to see heavy downpours for too much longer. we are seeing some of that work its way into coastal georgia. that's where we've been
monitoring some heavy downpours. here's a look at the track right now. you can see the storm becomes extra tropical pretty quickly as we go into tuesday, even into wednesday. yesterday that cone of uncertainty was a little bit further to the east, impacting areas of new jersey, but today you can see that it's pushing further eastward. on a reader perspective, we have bands of heavy rain sweeping into southern georgia. that's where we're seeing some of the heaviest rain. you can see that right now. i'll zoom in and give you a closer shot of it. and some of the heavy rain has been hitting the brunswick area. but it's a small, tightly compacted storm. we're not seeing too much in the way of widespread areas being impacted. yesterday, though, what a day for tornadoes. it's still tornado season. you know, may is the number one month for most tornadoes. a tornado touching down in kansas yesterday, rain and hail. and you can see that debris being lifted off the ground from this tornado. incredible pictures. there's another perspective. we've actually had two different tornadoes we can show you pictures of. in kansas, this one's near witchta. incredible hail that fell as a result of these storms.
yesterday there were over 25 reports of severe weather in that region. so, unfortunately today, the severe weather threat continues. however, it is in a different part of the country. today, it's in wisconsin, of all places. some heavy thunderstorms around minnesota and wisconsin. we'll keep a close watch on this and let you know if anything develops in terms of a tornado watch or warning. >> frightening scenarios there. thank you so much, bonnie. appreciate that. a blind chinese activist is spending his first sunday with his family in new york. but chen guangcheng got here only after a tricky diplomatic back and forth between the u.s. and china. last month he escaped from house arrest and aroofed ee eed at t embassy in beijing. and after a lot of mediation, he was given clearance to leave the country. those images from yesterday. he spoke through a translator after arriving in new york. >> translator: at the most critical juncture, the american embassy in china provided a safe
haven and the american government has provided great distance and given me partial citizenship rights here. >> chen will begin his fellowship at new york university soon, nyu, offered this opportunity after the chinese government said he could leave the country to study abroad. chen's friend and nyu professor jerome cohen joins me now. he was one of those involved in the mediation that finally helped chen leave china. so professor cohen, how did this arrangement with nyu come about? >> well, chen and i have been friends since he came to new york for a brief state department visit in 2003, just nine years ago. and we subsequently became very friendly, we worked together in china. i visited his humble village in the fall of 2003. he visited me a number of times in beijing.
i bought him $100 worth of law books in 2003 and he made very good use of them with the help of his father, his oldest brother and his wife. we go way back, and this was a very emotional, very exciting time to have a reunion yesterday with his wife and him at the airport. >> so this nine-year friendship is one thing, but why did nyu decide to invest so much in chen and his family? >> he has an extraordinary experience in the chinese countryside. most people in china don't live in beijing, shanghai, and the many other modern cities. they live in rural, often poverty-stricken conditions. and what law means to them is different from what it means in the cities. chen can tell us a great deal. and he can tell us a lot about
how china needs to do more to protect the rights of those who are disabled people, as he is, because he's blind. we have a lot to learn from him. he's a very good speaker. and i'm sure he'll be giving some prominent talks. he's a very keen wit. he's highly analytical, very objective, a good observer, even though he's blind. we've got a lot to learn from him. >> so your feeling is his work as a human rights activist will not end now that he is out of china. but instead it will take on a different kind of role, a different kind of meeting, that his crusade will continue? >> he's only 40 years old. he's got probably 40 more active years ahead of him. hoo he's coming here to invest in a better education, preparation. learn about american law, international law, comparative law, comparing what he learns to the existing legal system in china. he's also already starting to
pick up english. he's a very quick study. >> and professor, is his visit open-ended or is there a timetable attached? >> well, i think he has an open future. he's going to work hard here. we hope he'll be able to go back to china. he's certainly not closing the door. and i think he will enhance china's capacity for improving its legal system in the next generation of china's leaders, who are going to be installed next fall, i think, can appreciate his kind of effort. >> professor jerome cohen of nyu, thanks so much for your time. >> thank you. it has been one year since a deadly tornado devastate joplin, missouri. well, tomorrow, a new beginning for graduating seniors at joplin high. their keynote speaker, president barack obama. i talked to one of the graduates. od days. and some difficult ones.
but, through it all, we've persevered, supporting some of the biggest ideas in modern history. so why should our anniversary matter to you? because for 200 years, we've been helping ideas move from ambition to achievement. and the next great idea could be yours. ♪ and the next great idea could be yours.
but people there will tell you there are reminders everywhere of so much loss. lydia mcallister was a junior at joplin high when that tornado wiped out her school. well, tomorrow, she and more than 400 classmates are graduating. she anticipates the day will bring relief and will be particularly special because of their keynote speaker, president barack obama. i asked her how excited she is. >> it's such a huge honor. honestly, i can't -- i can't even describe the feeling that we all have, because it's such an honor to have the president of the united states speaking at our school and politics aside, it's such an honor. >> what's next for lydia? well, she's soon off to the university of missouri to study journalism. and there's more from lydia. she shares her lessons learned and hopes for joplin missouri today at 4:00 in the newsroom. after making billions of dollars off facebook's ipo on
friday, mark zuckerberg shared another big announcement with the world. he's getting married, and of course, there was no better place to tell everyone. he and his longtime girlfriend went on facebook and changed their statuses to "married." all right. i'll have another -- that's the name of the horse, remember? i'll have another, well, it had another. the kentucky derby winner made it two for two with a win at the preakness. that means we are just a win away from having the first triple crown winner in 34 years. the next race is the belmont stakes on june 9th. and in oakland, california, firefighters spent more than three hours trying to control this fire at a warehouse. then in the same building, they found an illegal indoor pot-growing operation. initials say there were hundreds of plants and grow lights. the warehouse is next-door to an apartment building, but the fire did not spread. no one, thankfully, was hurt. all right, we've reported on the death of the man convicted
nations converge in chicago. the president of the united states being the host to this summit. among the issues that they plan on discussing, matters involving afghanistan, syria, and iran. we'll keep you posted on the sessions today. meantime, the only man convicted in the 1988 bombing of pan am flight 103 over lockerbie, scotland, will be buried tomorrow. abdul bassett al megrahi died today in libya at the age of 60. the former libyan intelligence officer was released from a scottish prison 2 1/2 years ago on compassionate grounds. he was suffering from prostate cancer. well, earlier today, i asked cnn's senior international correspondent nic robertson what evidence led to al megrahi's conviction. >> well, he's alleged to have bought clothes from a store in malta and packed them in a suitcase and packed them around the bomb, then that suitcase was put on board a flight to germany
and then on to britain and then, eventually, on to flight pan am 103, that was flying to the united states. the u.n. represent tv at his trial, at megrahi's trial in camp zeist in the netherlands call the the trial a spectacular miscarriage of justice. and megrahi has always maintained his evidence and said he would prove it before he died, and now has died and never proved it. >> and you had an opportunity to meet with him, visit with him. you were one of the last western journalists to do it. what kind of condition was he in at the time? was he even in a condition to speak with you? >> he wasn't in a condition to talk. that was perhaps the most shocking thing as i walked into the room in this rather grand villa where he was staying with his family, where he lived. this was a very ostentatious, very up-market premise, where his family was living.
there he was lying in a bed with an oxygen mask on his face, he was breathing oxygen coming from a bottle out the side of his -- it was a hospital bed, essentially, he was on in this room. his family told me he was in a coma. from what can i see, this is a man who appeared to be very sick, very ill, and certainly there was no way that i could communicate with him. it's no surprise that he has finally died from what we understand is prostate cancer, but, it has, of course, taken a lot longer than everyone expected. he was released from jail in scotland almost three years ago on the expectation he would only live for three more months, fredricka. >> thanks so much, nic robertson out of london. i'm fredricka whitfield, back with more in one hour out of the newsroom. time now for "your money."