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ANDERSON COOPER 360 DEGREES
Pirates Attack Another U.S. Ship; Homegrown Terror Threat?
Aired April 14, 2009 - 22:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR: Tonight, breaking news: Pirates attack another U.S. ship. The Navy is there this time. It happened off the coast of Somalia, this ship, the Liberty Sun, fired on by Somali pirates.
Now, if you thought the danger was over when the Navy rescued Captain Phillips two days ago, you were wrong. We have just learned there have been four more hijackings in the last 24 hours, four more ships taken, and now this attack.
The pirates are out there. They are busy, sworn to avenge their dead comrades. It looks like they tried -- tonight, an account from inside the ship as it was taking fire, e-mails home for merchant sailor Thomas Urbik to his mom."
"We're under attack by pirates," he wrote. "We're being hit by rockets, also bullets." He goes on: "We're barricaded in the engine room, and, so far, no one is hurt. A rocket penetrated the bulkhead, but the hole is small -- small fire, too," Kevin (sic) adds, "but put out. The Navy is on the way," he writes, "and helos and ships are coming. I will try to send another message soon. Got to go now. I love you, mom," he says, "and dad, and all my brothers and family."
A short time later, he sent another e-mail. "The Navy has showed up," he said. "We're now under military escort. I love you all, and thank you for your prayers."
Right now -- right now, we should say, the ship is under military escort, heading to Kenya. We have just learned it's being escorted by the destroyer Bainbridge, heading to safety.
Now, the Bainbridge, of course, was involved in the rescue of Captain Phillips two days ago. That ship, the USS -- the -- the Liberty, is delivering humanitarian relief.
Joining us now by phone from Wheaton, Illinois, is Thomas Urbik's mom, Katy -- Kathy (sic) Urbik.
When you first read that e-mail, what went through your mind? I mean, you must have just been horrified.
KATY URBIK, SON'S SHIP FIRED ON BY SOMALI PIRATES: Yes, I -- my heart stopped, as soon as I realized there wasn't going to be a "Just kidding" after his comment, because I had heard from him earlier this morning saying they had a plan with the Navy. They were being monitored. They had been practicing drills to get into the engine room. And I was kind of breathing a sigh of relief after yesterday, hearing about the pirates threatening to attack American ships and not -- not taking hostages, just shooting them.
And, so, I opened up my e-mail, and it was one of those surreal moments where, am I really reading this? And I think my heart stopped. And...
COOPER: What did you do after you read it?
URBIK: Well, I think God is merciful, because, as soon as I exited off that e-mail, I noticed another one had come in from him, and that was the one you read that said the Navy was there, and they were being escorted. So...
COOPER: Well, that's great that you read them all at the same time, thankfully.
URBIK: Yes, I think that's the way they get sent. I think the -- the signal only gets sent out at certain times. So, you could have a couple of e-mails accumulate before they get sent out.
COOPER: And your -- your son's been at sea since February. Did he even know about the hostage drama that unfolded just -- just, you know, last week?
URBIK: Oh, yes.
We have been in -- there's been very tense various e-mails between he and I this week of the danger. He -- he was thanking me for -- I was copying and pasting him all kinds of articles off the Internet about the situation, because he says their details were sketchy and often exaggerated.
So, he was asking me to keep feeding him information. And it's just been a -- you know, kind of on high alert at my house. I have been checking my e-mails every 15 minutes. And...
COOPER: I can imagine.
Have -- have you been able to speak with him on the phone yet?
URBIK: No, I haven't. I...
COOPER: What are you going to say when you do?
URBIK: The first thing I'm going to say is, I love you, and, you know, it's wonderful to hear your voice. And thank God you're alive. And thank God for our U.S. Navy, and thank God for God protecting you.
COOPER: Well, thank God, indeed.
Katy, appreciate you being with us. And I'm glad it has a happy ending.
URBIK: Yes, thank you, Anderson, very much. COOPER: Katy Urbik, mom of Thomas Urbik, who e-mail her during this attack and is doing OK right now.
We mentioned Captain Phillips. We have been awaiting word on when he is going to be reunited with the crew of the Alabama. That should take place any moment now, a couple hours from now, we believe.
Also, we have -- we're awaiting details on the four other hijackings that have taken place.
For the latest on that, let's turn to David McKenzie, who is on the scene in Mombasa.
David, what do we know about these four other hijackings?
DAVID MCKENZIE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Anderson, what we know is that these pirates have taken almost half-a-dozen ships just this week, four hijackings happening in the last few days.
Two of them were large freighter ships. They were taken in the Gulf of Aden. They were then spirited towards the Somali coast. At this stage, that Greek and Lebanese freighters, it seems that the crew is safe, but the pirates have them hostage.
And, then, on another front, there are two fishing vessels, Egyptian fishing vessels, Egyptian state media saying that pirates have also taken those ships -- Anderson.
COOPER: What do we know about Captain Phillips and his crew? They're supposed to be reunited in Mombasa, where you are. Has that -- that hasn't happened yet, has it?
MCKENZIE: No, it hasn't happened yet, Anderson.
And one thing that might put a spanner in the works is that Captain Phillips was in fact on that USS Bainbridge. And if he were still on that ship, then he would have yet again been involved in a pirate standoff and part of that Navy group that was saving that U.S. crew.
So, he could be delayed somewhat. Today, the crew has been resting, decompressing from the very harrowing ordeal. They're all pretty happy, and certainly waiting for the captain to come back.
He's expected to come back tomorrow, Anderson. They will have an emotional reunion here in the Port of Mombasa. But with Captain Phillips on that USS Bainbridge, he might be delayed slightly -- Anderson.
COOPER: So, the -- the estimated -- he was supposed -- you said tomorrow. In terms of what day are you talking about, just, because of the time change, it's a little confusing?
Basically, we're talking about tomorrow afternoon into the day on Wednesday. The captain is expected to come here. He will have a reunion with the -- the crew on the -- in the Port of Mombasa.
They're keeping some of the details sketchy, Anderson, also because of security concerns. The Maersk shipping line is saying that the captain and the whole crew then will be sent off home to the U.S. on a chartered airplane. They will fly straight out of Mombasa and straight home to Andrews Air Force Base.
And, then, obviously, there will be a lot of excitement in the U.S. when they come there. And they will be going to their respective homes -- Anderson.
COOPER: Yes, no doubt a lot of excitement, a lot of joy, indeed, and a lot of relief. Wednesday afternoon, so, that's about five or so hours ahead of East Coast time in the United States. That will probably be Wednesday morning or early part of the day.
We will, of course, bring that to you live.
David McKenzie reporting from Mombasa -- David, thanks so much.
Four hijackings in two days, that's what we have just been talking about, about 80 so far this year. It's important to remember, while the crew of the Alabama is safe, and the crew of the Liberty Bell (sic) apparently safe right now, heading toward Mombasa and coming home, there are some 200 other people being held hostage right now by Somali pirates.
Erica Hill tells us who they are.
ERICA HILL, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): When it comes to their targets, the pirates don't seem to discriminate. They're holding ships and crews of all sizes from around the world, with one goal, millions in ransom money.
KEN MENKHAUS, FORMER UNITED NATIONS SPECIAL ADVISER: When we talk about $40 million, it's a huge amount of cash in very impoverished Somalia, in the northeast of Somalia, where the piracy is -- is -- is concentrated. And that creates a problem, because it creates a disincentive for political leaders to do something about it.
HILL: These Filipino men are among 23 sailors believed to be hostages aboard the M.T. Stolt Strength, a chemical hijacked on November 10.
There are another 24 hostages on board this German freighter. Pirates targeted the boat April 4. On April 11, this Italian tugboat and its 16-member crew were seized off Somalia's north coast.
(on camera): In all, pirates have attacked at least 80 ships so far this year, according to the International Maritime Bureau in London. Now, of those, 19 were successful hijackings. Now, take a look back at 2008, when pirates attacked 111 boats and hijacked 42.
(voice-over): The current hostages will likely be released unharmed when the ransom is paid, continuing a vicious cycle.
MENKHAUS: There really is only one solution. It's going to take a government that sees piracy and ending piracy as a critical tool in -- in improving their credibility in the eyes of the -- of the world.
HILL: The only problem with that solution, establishing a legitimate government in Somalia to make it happen.
Erica Hill, CNN, New York.
COOPER: And they haven't had one of those in a long, long time.
I should just make a quick correction. I think I called the ship at one point the Liberty Bell. It's obviously the Liberty Sun that is being escorted now by the -- the Bainbridge.
So, the question is, how do you negotiate with pirates? Go to our Web site at AC360.com for the story of one man who does it so well, they call him the pirate whisperer. That's on our Web site right now.
A dramatic warning here at home to tell you about -- the Department of Homeland Security tonight telling law enforcement agencies that homegrown right-wing extremist groups are growing. They're gaining strength, according to the report, by exploiting fears about President Obama's race, as well as fears about the economy.
Today, at Georgetown University, President Obama spoke at great length about the economy. He didn't discuss this possible terror threat, but he pointed to progress on lending and the stimulus. He also warned of more hardship ahead.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: 2009 will continue to be a difficult year for America's economy, and, obviously, most difficult for those who have lost their jobs.
The severity of this recession will cause more job loss, more foreclosures, and more pain before it ends.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: It's precisely those job losses and foreclosures that the Homeland Security report is now concerned about. The report also warned that right-wing extremists may try to recruit returning veterans from Iraq and Afghanistan who come back to find their jobs gone or their homes taken.
We should point out that the Department of Homeland Security does assessments like this all the time. They are routine. This time, though, the conclusion could be anything but.
Here to talk about it and help make sense of it is national security analyst Peter Bergen.
You know, Peter, we really haven't heard much about right-wing extremist groups much since the mid-'90s. Why is that?
PETER BERGEN, CNN TERRORISM ANALYST: Well, I think the Oklahoma City bombing attack by Timothy McVeigh, himself an Iraq war veteran, clearly, you know, did immense damage to the right-wing militia movement.
Recall Waco, Ruby Ridge. There was a lot of activity, the Michigan militias, other of these groups. But, you know, when you kill 168 Americans, any kind of legitimacy that these groups might have enjoyed basically disappeared.
And you may recall, Anderson, that, you know, President Clinton used the -- the occasion of the Oklahoma City attack to really be able to turn around the view of the federal government, which was under attack from -- you know, Newt Gingrich and others, Republicans.
And, so, there was sort of a sea change after the attack. And I think, since then, we haven't heard much about the right-wing militias.
COOPER: The report also talks about the danger of lone wolves, small -- small terrorist cells, small cells. Are we better prepared to deal with it since -- since Oklahoma?
BERGEN: No doubt.
I mean, when Timothy McVeigh, you know, purchased 1,000 pounds of fertilizer for an ammonium bomb, that kind of activity is -- basically would be very hard to do now. Now, you didn't have a Department of Homeland Security. Now, you didn't have these joint terrorism task forces around the country, fusion centers, where -- and the FBI, of course, having a very aggressive intelligence-gathering operation to -- to defeat these kinds of groups.
So, you know, to -- even if the right-wing militia movement does grow, which is possible, as this DHS report points out, it would be much harder for them to implement an attack in today's environment.
COOPER: The Southern Poverty Law Center also says a number of these fringe groups are growing, both -- both on the right and also other forms of extremists, a lot of them using, according to this report at least, the -- the Homeland Security report, using President Obama's race as a recruitment tool.
BERGEN: No doubt.
And, of course, the Secret Service is very concerned about attempts against the president's life. Michelle Obama and others around the president, when he was a candidate, asked for protection relatively early on because of those concerns.
The one thing that was really surprising to me, Anderson, in this, is the -- the number of veterans who have -- who the FBI identifies as joining right-wing militia groups, 200. Obviously a very small proportion of the number of veterans coming out of Iraq or Afghanistan, that's still 200 people.
COOPER: And we're -- the title of this -- we're -- on the bottom of the screen is recession radicals. I mean, around the world, in times -- tough economic times, extremist groups grow.
I mean, the Nazi Party came out of the Great Depression in Germany, and we have seen, you know, that story repeated time and time again. I think it's -- I think DHS is just doing what is appropriate, which is to warn local law enforcement that this is a potential problem.
COOPER: All right, good to keep in mind. Peter Bergen, appreciate your expertise. Thank you, Peter.
A sobering report. Let us know what you think about it. Join the live chat happening now at AC360.com. Also, check out Erica Hill's live Webcast during our breaks tonight.
Up next, President Obama at length, more of what he said about signs of hope for the economy, also signs of more trouble, more on how he thinks that ought to be rebuilt, too. We have got insight from David Gergen and Ali Velshi with what all those numbers mean to us.
And, later, deadly school bullying and how to keep your child safe.
Do you have a question? Text it to me about school bullying -- we will put it to our guests -- along with your name, to 94553. That's 94553.
We're talking about it tonight because a boy is dead after the brutal taunting he endured, including about his alleged homosexuality. The boy was just 11 years old. No one knows whether he was gay or not, but that didn't matter to the kids in his school who taunted him mercilessly.
Again, text your questions to 94553.
Also, the neighborhood mom and Sunday school teacher in court accused of brutalizing and murdering a little girl, horrifying new revelations in the case today -- we will take you in the court.
And, thankfully, not all grim news tonight -- at the White House, a debut for Bo the dog.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
B. OBAMA: That's a good-looking dog, though, let's face it. Huh? Golly.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: More now on the economy, some rough numbers today, retail sales down last month, wholesale prices way down, meaning retailers and consumers still are not buying.
Ali Velshi is here momentarily to work through what it all means to our bottom line, but, first, what President Obama had to say.
Listen to how he's threading the needle between hope and caution, while leaning strongly on the New Testament's Sermon on the Mount.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
B. OBAMA: We cannot rebuild this economy on the same pile of sand. We must build our house upon a rock. We must lay a new foundation for growth and prosperity, a foundation that will move us from an era of borrow and spend to one where we save and invest, where we consume less at home and send more exports abroad.
There is no doubt that times are still tough. By no means are we out of the woods just yet.
But from where we stand, for the very first time, we're beginning to see glimmers of hope. And beyond that, way off in the distance, we can see a vision of an America's future that is far different than our troubled economic past.
It's an America teeming with new industry and commerce, humming with new energy and discoveries that light the world once more, a place where anyone from anywhere with a good idea or the will to work can live the dream they have heard so much about.
That is the house upon the rock.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: Well, the president today.
Let's talk about your money with chief business correspondent Ali Velshi and senior political analyst David Gergen.
Ali, can we even say we're starting down the road to recovery yet?
ALI VELSHI, CNN CHIEF BUSINESS CORRESPONDENT: Sure, Anderson.
I mean, how many months have you and I talked about nothing but bad news all the time? All of a sudden, there's mixed news. And mixed news is taken as positive these days.
Here's one of the biggest things. We talk about the stock market so often because more than half of all Americans are invested through in some fashion in the stock markets through their IRAs or 401(k)s. Take a look at where we started this year, this January. We have come down, down, down. Around March 9, some people think we may have hit a bottom, close to 6500 on the Dow. But look what has happened. It hasn't been a straight line up, but we have seen quite an improvement, about 21 percent, since that bottom, to about 7920.
Take a look at some other measures of the economy and see what we're looking at. Housing, this is such a big deal. This is the first recession in U.S. history that's been triggered by a housing crisis.
Let's look at the median price of an existing home. Median means half of all homes are sold for less, half for more. Existing homes are what we would think of as used homes, as opposed to new homes.
Back when this recession started, December of 2007, look at the price there, $208,000. By February of 2009, this year, which is the latest month for which we have got records, $165,000, a drop of 21 percent. Take a look at jobs. You and I often talk about this, Anderson. It's the most important thing. You don't need to buy or sell your house every day. You do need an income.
Unemployment, 8.5 percent right now, the highest in 25 years. When we started this recession, we were at 4.9 percent. The number of jobs lost since this recession started, 5.1 million. And, by the way, even the most optimistic view of this thing does not have us getting back to that unemployment rate of 5.1 -- 4.9 percent until some time possibly in 2013.
So, really mixed signals, but possibly some justification for thinking about a hopeful future.
COOPER: David, the president talked about the economy for about an hour today. Clearly, it's -- it's a major issue. Clearly, he needs -- he wants to be on the front on it. How did he do?
DAVID GERGEN, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: I think I did well, Anderson.
It was a very long speech. If you -- if you enjoy reading encyclopedias, you would love to read this speech...
GERGEN: ... because he -- he covered the entire waterfront.
But I think he did two important things. I read the speech -- others may read it differently -- as essentially trying to temper the kind of optimism we have had in recent weeks, as the stock market has improved, just as Ali showed.
There are -- you know, confidence has grown up. There an awful lot of people saying, anecdotally, maybe the worst is behind us. And the president is saying, yes, it's getting better, but we have got some bad -- brace yourself. We have got some bad news still to come.
And I thought that was important for him to do.
The second thing politically, Anderson, there were a fair number of Democrats who are beginning to worry -- I think in an unfounded way -- that, by spending as much time abroad as he has, the president would let -- would send a signal to Americans that he's taking his eye off the economy.
I don't think that's true, but, nonetheless, it was very clear today: No, I'm right back on the job. I'm working on this economy. It is my number-one priority.
COOPER: What's it going to take, Ali, though, in terms of fiscal policy, to start moving this thing forward?
VELSHI: Well, there's a lot of criticism about the amount of intervention, the amount of money that's gone into this by this administration and the end of the previous administration.
What President Obama was saying today, not so much about hope for the future, is that history has showed that if governments don't act early and aggressively, these recessions can be worse, they can be deeper, and they can be longer.
So, one of the cases he was making today was: Stick with me. We're going to have to put more money into this.
There's no appetite for that right now in Washington and amongst the American people. So, he's starting to sell the idea that there may be more intervention to come. And I think he was laying the groundwork for that.
COOPER: And, David, where are Republicans kind of positioning themselves on all this at this point?
GERGEN: Well, Republicans are pretty much in disarray.
They -- they -- the one thing they agree on is that they -- they're warning about the deficits, that there's too much spending. And I think they will -- I think they will be dragged kicking and screaming to any more intervention of the kind of Ali's talking about.
But they have not yet come up with a compelling alternative, one that has gained popular recognition. So...
COOPER: Tea-bagging. They have got tea-bagging.
GERGEN: Well, they have got the tea-bagging.
COOPER: But there was an interesting Politico survey that was out today that said that, you know, the president -- the trust level in the president on economic issues is extremely high. And, you know, and everybody else in the administration is well below him. But the Republicans are a little below that. So, Republicans have got a way -- they still haven't found their voice, Anderson. They're still -- this happens to a minority party after it's lost a couple of bad elections, but they're searching for their voice.
COOPER: It's hard to talk when you're tea-bagging.
COOPER: David Gergen, particular it very much.
Ali Velshi, as well, thanks very much.
Just ahead tonight: The woman accused of murdering this little girl has a day in court, her arraignment today, her tears, and the chilling new details about where the murder allegedly took place. This was the last time anyone saw that little girl alive.
Literally, an act of desecration, that's what some of the reports are coming out of court today.
Coming up next: the new bottom line on pork. Are lawmakers keeping their promise to rein in pet projects? Is the president living up to what he said during the campaign? He promised to go through the budget line by line. Remember that? We're "Keeping Them Honest."
And, later, the moment millions of Americans have been waiting for, especially a couple of kids named Sasha and Malia. Bo, the first dog, officially arrived at the White House and faced the media rush.
COOPER: A new report tonight on lawmakers spending your tax dollars on their pet projects, in other words, earmarks, or pork.
Now, some earmarks are totally worthwhile, vital, even. But, too often, our representatives try to keep them secret because they're hard to justify.
For all the talk of cutting earmarks and trimming fat, it turns out there's more of it than ever.
Drew Griffin tonight "Keeping Them Honest" -- Drew.
DREW GRIFFIN, CNN INVESTIGATIVE CORRESPONDENT: Yes, Anderson, despite all those campaign promises, from the president on down, to clean up the pork, the big pork book, the "Pig Book," they call it, catalogs 11,610 earmark projects, costing taxpayers $17.2 billion.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DAVID WILLIAMS, CITIZENS AGAINST GOVERNMENT WASTE: They believed the president when he came out and said that he was against earmarks. And what happened? The new Congress comes in. Oh, they continue to vote Republicans out in '08, mind you. But the new Congress comes in, and they have spent $1 billion an hour since taking office.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
GRIFFIN: In fairness, President Obama did inherit part this year's pork from the Bush administration.
But, "Keeping Them Honest," Anderson, Mr. Obama also approved a huge chunk of it, when he signed that big '09 spending bill in March. And, while Senator Obama didn't ask for any earmarks while he was campaigning, plenty in his party were asking for them. And, this year, the Democrats got the most.
One analysis of strictly Democrat or Republican earmarks racked up $2.6 billion for the Democrats, purely Republican earmarks valued at about $1.9 billion.
COOPER: All these projects, Drew, are -- are clearly vital and necessary for the government, correct?
GRIFFIN: Oh, absolutely.
GRIFFIN: No, not exactly, Anderson. That's why this is so controversial.
Take, for example, what we have already been reporting on your show for, what, two years now, right? The road to nowhere in West Virginia, we had that on your show just a couple weeks ago. Senator Robert Byrd gets $9.5 million for this lonely road to continue. That actually got the "Pig Book"'s highway robbery award.
Other winners: Iowa Senator Tom Harkin for $1.8 million in swine odor and manure management research; California Congressman Howard Berman, $200,000 for a tattoo-removal program; and former Republican Congressman Chris Shays, former -- he got voted out -- still, $1.9 million is going for the Pleasure Beach water taxi in Connecticut.
COOPER: The other part of this was about being transparent. And, I mean, you did that amazing report where you had a lot of people at CNN calling up all the senators and congresspeople...
COOPER: ... trying to get them to admit to what earmarks, and they wouldn't give the list up.
GRIFFIN: Yes, you know, we have come a long way. Now they do attach their names to the earmarks, but we spend incredible amounts of time digging through those huge bills.
You have to get a name from, you know, maybe page 500, and match it to a dollar amount somewhere else, and try to put it all together. It's a labor-intensive work. And, even now, the watchdog group Taxpayers For Common Sense says, 22 lawmakers have missed a deadline, Anderson, this year, 2010, to post their earmarks. This is on pork to come. This is pork they're requesting that we're going to be reporting on next year.
COOPER: And, again, the key is, I mean, there are -- some earmarks are important and vital to the country. But, if -- if they are vital, you would think these -- the congressmen and senators who support them would want their names attached and would want people to know about them and would make it easy for people to know about them. And that's certainly not the case.
Drew, appreciate it, "Keeping Them Honest."
COOPER: If you want to see if your lawmaker has any pork projects listed, we have a link to the "Pig Book" at our Web site, AC360.com. Check out how your representative is doing.
Up next: some stunning developments in the murder of a little girl. This is video of Sandra Cantu the day she went missing, skipping along there, seemed happy. Melissa Huckaby appeared in court today, crying, charged with her murder. But that's not all she is accused of doing. We have the latest.
And you need to know what happened to this little boy. Carl Joseph Walker-Hoover is his name. Kids in school taunted him. They called him gay, said he was feminine. What he did next is going to shock you. And, if you have kids, you need to hear this. We will also talk with an expert about the consequences of bullying.
If you have a question you would like answered, send us a text message with A.C., your name, then your question. Send that message to 94553. That's 94553.
And the long-awaited first dog was trotted out today by the first family. President Obama admitted to some minor concerns.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
B. OBAMA: Now, the only concern we have is, apparently, Portuguese water dogs like tomatoes. Michelle's garden is in danger. So, we're going to...
MICHELLE OBAMA, FIRST LADY: I don't think we have tomatoes.
B. OBAMA: Not yet?
So, we have got to figure out...
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: He doesn't know how to swim.
B. OBAMA: Yes, apparently, they have to be...
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: Updating our breaking story. Pirates attack another U.S. cargo ship off the coast of Somalia, firing rockets and bullets. They failed to get aboard, thankfully. A sailor on the Liberty Sun e- mailed his mom, saying that the crew barricaded themselves in the engine room. They put out one fire and that one rocket penetrated the hall.
A coalition navy ship came to the rescue. Right now the Navy destroyer Bainbridge is safely escorting the Liberty Sun to Mombassa, Kenya, to deliver food aid. Now, that's the same Navy ship, the Bainbridge, that came to the rescue of the Maersk Alabama just a few days ago. And that crew, the Alabama, is going to be reunited with their captain sometime on Wednesday afternoon.
New developments tonight, though, in the murder of an 8-year-old little girl. This is the last time that Sandra Cantu was seen alive. This surveillance video of her happily skipping down the street in Tracy, California. Now, that was back on March 27. Ten days later, farm workers found her body stuffed into a suitcase.
Today a Sunday school teacher faced a judge, accused not only of murder but other unthinkable crimes. David Mattingly has the latest in tonight's "Crime & Punishment" report.
DAVID MATTINGLY, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Charged with kidnapping and murdering her daughter's 8-year-old playmate, no words seemed to hit Melissa Huckaby harder at her arraignment than the accusations she also raped little Sandra Cantu.
JAMES WILLETT, DISTRICT ATTORNEY: As charged, she faces the potential death sentence or, alternatively, life without possibility of parole.
MATTINGLY: As she stood in court with tears on her cheek and her lips quivering, for the first time we also see the official complaint spelling out the case against Huckaby in black and white. Murder, kidnapping, lewd or lascivious acts and rape by instrument.
(on camera) But nowhere does it say why this loving mother, Sunday school teacher, and trusted neighbor would do these terrible things to a child. Police in Tracy, California, only say the more Huckaby talks, the more they became suspicious.
SGT. TONY SHENEMAN, SPOKESMAN, TRACY POLICE DEPARTMENT: Inconsistent statements that she had made over the course of being spoken to during the initial canvass when we were looking for Sandra, and then later on when she was interviewed, and then again when she was interviewed by "The Tracy Press," all of her statements were fairly inconsistent.
MATTINGLY (voice-over): Sandra Cantu was last seen skipping away from her home before her body was found ten days later in a suitcase at the bottom of a pond. Before her arrest, Huckaby told the local paper that was her suitcase, and it had been stolen from her driveway.
JENNIFER WADSWORTH, "TRACY PRESS": It's hard to get people to describe things and everything, but she just went right ahead and said, "It's black. It's huge. It's waterproof. It's a rolling suitcase. It has an Eddie Bauer logo on the front," more details than I asked.
MATTINGLY: In a crime that is usually linked to male predators, the case against the 28-year-old Huckaby is a disturbing rarity.
Her public defender asked the judge to impose a gag order on the attorneys. Huckaby declined to say whether she is guilty or not. She will enter a plea later.
David Mattingly, CNN, Atlanta.
COOPER: Now, coming up next, the consequences of bullying. Take a look. This little boy, Carl Joseph Walker Hoover. His parents say he was taunted daily by classmates who called him gay, called him feminine. Then a sudden turn of events. And what happened to him has happened to kids across the country, and schools, it seems, are not doing enough to stop it. We're going to talk with an expert. If you have a question you'd like answered about bullying, send us a text message with AC, your name, then your question. Send it to 94553.
Also, the first lady continued her tour of Washington today. We'll tell you where she was, what she said.
And take a look. This woman has taken the Internet by storm and Simon Cowell by surprise. We'll show you why nearly 4 million people have watched her performance. You will hear her, and you will know why. It's our "Shot," coming up.
COOPER: Tonight the story of a little boy, a victim of bullying. Surveys show that nearly half of all kids are bullied at some time during their school years. At least one out of every ten on a regular basis, sometimes with tragic consequences.
This is Carl Joseph Walker Hoover, 11 years old. His parents say he endured constant bullying at his school in Massachusetts. The kids there called him gay, said he was feminine. These days racial insults are not accepted, but all too often, insults based on perceptions of sexuality are ignored by teachers and school administrators.
That's what Carl's mom says happened to her little boy. She wants parents around the country to hear her son's story so that it never happens again.
Here's Randi Kaye, "Uncovering America."
RANDI KAYE, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): by all accounts, Carl Joseph Walker Hoover was a good kid, a Boy Scout who went to church every Sunday with his mother and prayed every morning before school.
The sixth grader started at the New Leadership Charter School in Springfield, Massachusetts, last September. But for Carl, school wasn't much fun. His mom says he was bullied daily by students who called him gay.
SIRDEANER WALKER, CARL'S MOM: Some people may say he was flamboyant. He was very dramatic.
KAYE: Sirdeaner Walker says she never asked her son if he was gay, but she says students called him feminine and told him, "You act gay."
(on camera) Carl's mother says she tried to help her son. She told me she called the school every week to get them to stop the bullying. She says the school told her it has an anti-bullying policy and not to worry.
(voice-over) Nothing changed. Eight months into the school year, the taunting finally became too much. Monday night, just last week while his mother cooked dinner downstairs, Carl wrapped an electrical cord around his neck upstairs.
When he didn't come down for dinner, his mother headed to his room. Horror greeted her in the hallway. Carl had hanged himself in the landing outside his third-floor bedroom. He was just 11.
(on camera) What happened? You called 911?
WALKER: We called 911. My daughter actually got me a knife, and I actually cut the extension cord myself to let him down.
KAYE (voice-over): Mrs. Walker says just hours before Carl took his life, he told her a female student had threatened to beat him up and kill him.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I'm so sorry for making fun of Carl.
KAYE: In this sympathy card from Carl's school, one student even apologized for making fun of Carl.
(on camera) The school's chairman of the board says he is deeply saddened by Carl's death. He says the school has consistently addressed bullying issues and has stressed the need for respect among students. He says he plans to investigate to see if the school's anti-bullying policies were followed.
(voice-over) And it's not just Carl. Bullying is often deadly. Yale School of Medicine found apparent links between bullying and suicide in children. Among the study's findings, bullied students are two to nine times more likely to have suicidal thoughts. Seventeen-year-old Eric Mohat (ph) from Ohio Shot himself in 2007 after his parents say students at his school repeatedly called him gay, "fag" and "queer.' The Mohats (ph) are suing school officials.
The district says it found no evidence to support the family's claims it ignored a bullying problem.
A survivor of breast cancer and homelessness, Carl's mother says her faith in God keeps her going. She hopes sharing her story will save another child.
Carl would have turned 12 on Friday. Instead of a celebration, his mother will honor the memory of her son: the boy with the big smile who said he wanted to be president so he could change the world.
Randi Kaye, CNN, Springfield, Massachusetts.
COOPER: She had to cut down her 11-year-old son with her -- with a knife and scissors, cutting off the extension cord.
Let's dig deeper into some of your text questions with Thomas Krever, the executive director of the Hetrick-Martin Institute, which is home to the Harvey Milk School here in Manhattan.
When you hear this story, you've probably heard a lot of stories like this from the kids in your schools.
THOMAS KREVER, EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR, HETRICK-MARTIN INSTITUTE: Unfortunately, I do. That's correct. Patrick martin institute is the nation's oldest and largest LGBT youth service agency. We work with young people from over 200 ZIP codes throughout the tri-state area. But certainly get requests, both nationally as well as internationally, from community members.
COOPER: What do school officials need to do? And what do they need to know? Because kids are coming out younger and younger in school. And whether they like it or not, whether school administrators are ready or not, they've got to deal with it.
KREVER: That's a great point. The challenge is, while we celebrate, on one hand, the fact that young -- that people are coming out at younger and younger ages, it comes with it, though, new challenges that we did not have five, ten years ago. So the median age, for instance, with young people coming out hovers around approximately 16 years of age.
And what's happening is, as these younger people are coming out sooner, what's missing is the cognitive ability of a 20-year-old or even a 19 or an older teenager. And so they're not safety planning. And so principals, school administrators, community members, all stakeholders really need to pay heed to the fact that these are younger people without the wherewithal to do that proper planning.
COOPER: And this little boy was 11 years old. He didn't self- identify as gay. His mom never asked him the question. You know, he was 11 years old, and yet he was being called, you know, all these slurs.
And it seems acceptable still in these schools to call these kids by these names based on sexual orientation. You couldn't call it based on race. They'd be kicked out. But calling the kid, you know, a slur based on his alleged -- his perception of sexuality is -- is OK.
KREVER: That's exactly right. We still live in a society where the most base derogatory taunt that a young person, perhaps 11 or 12 years of age, can come up with is calling another young person gay. So what is the message that we're saying there?
And the fact that we live in a country where just about 11 states have codified procedures or policies against such verbal, mental, physical harassment against LGBT young people, is really indicative of a continuing need. As progressive as we've been over the last 30 years, we've still got a lot of work to do.
COOPER: We've got a text question from one of our viewers, Lilibeth (ph). She asked, "Many states have passed anti-bullying laws. Have they been helpful in curtailing bullying behavior?"
KREVER: It's a great question. The majority of them are fairly new laws. And so it will take some time to really be able to look at the data to show what the effect has been.
But I'm very sure, especially at Hetrick-Martin, where we have policies such as that and help communities across the nation to develop such policies, that how can it be a bad thing? When something about dignity and respect is put into practice, to us, that's absolutely a step in the right direction.
COOPER: Suicide is obviously such a mysterious thing in so many ways. A lot still isn't known about it. But I mean, how can we tell a parent who's watching this tonight, whose child is being bullied for whatever reason, you know, they're obviously going to be concerned about the impact on the kid. What do you tell them?
KREVER: Get educated. Speak out. Learn more. Find out what the resources are. Contact either local or national organizations, whether it's HMI.org, our Web site, to find out more information. We'll connect them to local services.
Ask the questions. Don't be afraid to speak out. Do planning with your child, with your young person. Be inquisitive. Not judgmental but inquisitive. And work with your young person, with the young person in your life to really explore together what the answer would be.
COOPER: Thomas Krever, appreciate you being with us.
KREVER: Thank you very much.
Coming up on the program, an update on the breaking news, another U.S. ship attacked off the coast of Somalia, a sailor on board sending an e-mail to his mom, what he saw on the way. The latest on that coming up.
Plus, Michelle Obama's day in Washington. A busy day stepping up to the mike as she continues her tour of the nation's capitol.
And certainly a lot of people talking about Bo's big day at the White House. The first dog meets the press.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: There's too many people around.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Not yet.
BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: It is spectacular. And well deserved. He's a star. He's got star quality.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: Updating our breaking story. Pirates attack another U.S. cargo ship off the coast of Somalia, firing rocket-propelled grenades, automatic weapons, but they failed to get aboard.
A sailor on the Liberty Sun, Thomas Urbik, e-mailed his mom, saying that the crew barricaded themselves in the engine room. One rocket penetrated the hull. A coalition navy ship came to the rescue. The USS Bainbridge right now is safely escorting the Liberty Sun to Mombassa, Kenya. Coming to deliver food aid there. The same Navy ship, of course, that came to the rescue of the Alabama just a couple days ago.
Erica Hill is following some of the other stories tonight. She joins us with the "360 News & Business Bulletin" -- Erica.
ERICA HILL, CNN ANCHOR: Anderson, yet another delay in the deportation of Nazi war crimes suspect John Demjanjuk. U.S. immigration agents taking the 89-year-old into custody earlier today at his Cleveland home -- home near Cleveland, rather.
A federal appeals court, though, granted an emergency stay of Demjanjuk's deportation, based on his claim that travel to Germany would amount to torture.
As you heard Ali mention earlier, weak retail sales numbers coming out today, and that led to plenty of selling on Wall Street. The Dow dropping 137 points. The S&P lost 17. The NASDAQ dipped 27.
And in honor of tax day tomorrow, tea parties. Anti-tax demonstrators organizing events across the country to protest bank bailouts and government spending. Their inspiration -- oh, let's go back to 1773, the original tea party. American revolutionaries, of course, dumping the king's tea into Boston Harbor in a tax protest. I don't believe it was iced at that time. The first lady continuing her rounds of government agencies today at the Department of Homeland Security. Stop No. 9, if you're counting, and the first time in the department's six-year history that a first lady has visited, Anderson.
COOPER: There you go.
Coming up, Erica, a story a lot of us have been focusing on: the debut of Bo Obama. The first family showing off their long-awaited new puppy. We'll bring you all the highlights.
And this woman is stealing hearts -- I don't know if you've seen this video. It's great. Around the world, stealing hearts. The question is, did she steal Simon Cowell's? It's our "Shot of the Day."
And the breaking news about the pirates attacking another U.S. ship. Hear my exclusive interview with the mother of the sailor who's on the ship, sent her an e-mail, detailing the attack as it went, as it occurred.
COOPER: So heard more than you need to know about the economy and the White House plans for a speedy recovery? There is some real news out there.
First, they clamored for still photos like this one, but that wasn't enough. And finally, after months of anticipation, today, the official introduction. Joe Johns has the homecoming of Bo, the wonder White House water dog.
JOE JOHNS, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The White House press corps rushes to one of the biggest events yet of the Obama administration.
ED HENRY, CNN CORRESPONDENT: I'm all over this story.
B. OBAMA: There he is.
JOHNS: The first family and Bo the dog, all out to perform for the camera.
B. OBAMA: We all have to take turns.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Hi.
B. OBAMA: Malia, see if you can get him to sit.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Who's walking who?
B. OBAMA: Let's see. It's a little pressure here.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: A little. UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We don't have a treat.
B. OBAMA: We've got no treats. That's the problem.
JOHNS: At six months old, this is his fourth home and his third name. Bo's first owner called him Charlie, and his official registered name is Amigo's First Hope.
Can the president believe all the coverage the first pet is getting?
B. OBAMA: It is spectacular. And well deserved. He's a star. He's got star quality. He is. Look at him.
That's a good-looking dog, though, let's face it. Huh?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You going to be in a bed?
B. OBAMA: Not in my bed.
JOHNS: And the puppy does have his problems.
B. OBAMA: Portuguese Water Dogs like tomatoes. Michelle's garden is in danger.
MICHELLE OBAMA, FIRST LADY: I don't think we have tomatoes.
B. OBAMA: Not yet. So we've got to figure out...
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: He doesn't know how to swim.
B. OBAMA: Apparently they have to be taught how to swim. They have webbed feet.
All right, guys. I think you guys have got enough.
JOHNS: Enough? Of this? Not likely.
Joe Johns, CNN, Washington.
COOPER: Not hardly enough.
White House pets have come in all different shapes and sizes. Here's the raw data on some of the stranger ones.
A cow named Pauline provided fresh milk for President William Howard Taft and grazed on the White House lawn. There's Pauline right there. That's sort of PhotoShopped.
A pet Mexican parrot was there to whistle "Yankee Doodle" at the McKinley White House. That's clearly not the parrot. I assume that's not the parrot, stuffed somewhere.
The king of Siam gave a herd of elephants to James Buchanan, the nation's 15th president. Those are representative elephants, not the exact elephants.
And about 20 years earlier President Martin Van Buren got a pair of tiger cubs from the Sultan of Oman. That didn't go over too well with Congress, who suggested he send them to a zoo, and he did.
So for a lighter take on the new presidential pooch, check out Jack Gray's blog, "Bo Knows Kibble." AC360.com. It's worth a read.
Up next, the singing surprise. The must-see video, the moment at the mike that even shocked Simon Cowell. It's tonight's "Shot." She kind of sent chills through people in our office today.
And at the top of the hour, the breaking news, the pirate attack on another U.S. ship and a sailor e-mailing home. Exclusive details. We'll be right back.
COOPER: All right. We're back with tonight's "Shot," guaranteed to make you smile. A 47-year-old woman fulfilling her dream.
Susan Boyle has become an Internet sensation after appearing on "Britain's Got Talent," which is their version of "America's Got Talent." And our version is actually a rip-off of their version.
HILL: In a lovely little circle there.
COOPER: Yes. They come up with the shows; we rip them off.
Anyway, there were a lot of skeptics when she got onstage, largely based, apparently, on her appearance. That all changed within minutes. Listen to her version of "I Dreamed a Dream" from "Les Mis."
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SIMON COWELL, JUDGE, "BRITAIN'S GOT TALENT": All right. What's your name, darling?
SUSAN BOYLE, AUDITIONED FOR "BRITAIN'S GOT TALENT": My name is Susan Boyle.
COWELL: And how old are you, Susan?
BOYLE: I am 47. I am trying to be a professional singer.
COWELL: And why hasn't it worked out so far, Susan?
BOYLE: I haven't been given the chance before. I'm hoping it will all change.
(MUSIC: "I Dreamed a Dream")
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: Amazing. The judges, including Simon Cowell, were no doubt impressed. Nothing but praise for Susan. Susan's first-round performance scored nearly 4 million hits on YouTube plus worldwide press coverage. It's well worth watching online.
HILL: It's fantastic. And I have to say, as great as the video is of Bo Obama today, I think Susan is my favorite video of the day.
COOPER: Yes, yes. Getting sent around to a lot of folks.
You can check out all the recent "Shots" on AC360.com.
Coming up at the top of the hour, new pirate attack on another American freighter and a 360 exclusive" e-mails from aboard the ship as the assault went down. We'll be right back.
COOPER: Breaking news. Pirates attack another U.S. ship. The Navy is there this time. It happened off the southern coast of Somalia.
This ship, the Liberty Sun, fired on by Somali pirates. Now, if you thought the danger was over when the Navy rescued Captain Phillips two days ago, you were wrong. We just learned there have been four more hijackings in the last 24 hours. Four more ships taken and now this attack.
The pirates are out there. They are busy, sworn to avenge their dead comrades. Looks like they tried.