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Chaos in Ukraine; Honor Guard Troops Post Disrespectful Instagrams; Spanking in Schools; Another Bush Runs for Office; Political Families in the US

Aired February 19, 2014 - 11:00   ET


MICHAELA PEREIRA, CNN CO-ANCHOR: Outrage after U.S. troops post disrespectful funeral photos on Instagram. What were they thinking?

JOHN BERMAN, CNN CO-ANCHOR: A new plan to store pictures of every license plate on the road, where your car is right now, where it's been, sure, it might help law enforcement, but does this mean the government is stalking you?

PEREIRA: Spanking in schools, a state lawmaker thinks teachers should be allowed to bruise a kid's bottom and not get in trouble.

Hello and good morning to you, I'm Michaela Pereira.

BERMAN: And I'm John Berman.

Those stories and more, right now, @ THIS HOUR.

Chaos in Ukraine where protesters are standing their ground despite orders to clear out of Independence Square in Kiev.

This was the deadliest day in the three-month-long standoff between the government and opposition leaders. In fact, this was the deadliest day in decades there, leaving 25 people dead and hundreds injured.

Vice President Biden has called Ukraine's president, urging him to pull back government forces. The U.S. is threatening sanctions.

Protesters are furious that their president is taking cues from Moscow in refusing to sign a trade deal with the European Union. They want his powers limited.

We'll have a live report from this chaos in Independence Square in just a moment.

PEREIRA: So, you might be having a snack right now. If you happen to be eating a Hot Pocket, you better put it down and check the label.

Nestle is recalling two varieties of their popular snack, Croissant Crust Philly Steak and Cheese -- and Hot Pocket Philly Steak and Cheese.

The meat is the part that is being recalled. It is from the Rancho Feeding Corporation. It was recalled because the company said, quote, "processed, diseased and unsound animals were used for that meat."

So far, and thankfully, no illnesses have been reported

BERMAN: The Los Angeles archdiocese has settled the final priest sex- abuse case in a decade-long scandal that cost that church more than $740 million.

The church will pay $13 million to 17 men who say that the Reverend Nicholas Aguilar Rivera molested them when they were boys.

Eleven were set to testify that Cardinal Roger Mahoney and his aides helped the priest flee to Mexico before police were notified.

All right, @ THIS HOUR, Secretary of State John Kerry and European leaders are condemning the violence in Ukraine, France's president calling it unspeakable, unacceptable, intolerable.

You are looking at live pictures from Independence Square in Kiev. You can see the smoke. You can see the flames.

Secretary Kerry plans to raise the possibility of U.S. Sanctions against the Ukraine government, and President Obama is planning a statement on the violence, as well.

PEREIRA: Yesterday, a journalist died from a gunshot wound to the head. Twenty-four other people died in the fighting between police and protesters.

Ukraine, of course, was part of the Soviet Union, but is an independent nation. Protesters are demanding closer ties with the European Union rather than Russia, so, virtually, it's East versus West.

What they're upset about, also, is their president pleasing Moscow by killing a trade pact with the E.U.

Joining us from Kiev's Independence Square is our Phil Black. We can see the images, Phil. Give us an idea what is happening there right now.

PHIL BLACK, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Michaela, there is almost a strange calm over Independence Square right now. Through the afternoon, the crowd has built, and they are now there in the thousands again.

I would say they are listening to music and speeches, but it's not rousing stuff. If anything, it could almost feel like some sort of chilled-out, outdoor music festival if not for the barricades that they are continuing to maintain around them.

The fires, they are still burning in front of those barricades, and just a short distance from there, the lines of Ukrainian security services that are standing ready in full riot-gear. But at the moment, those security services are maintaining their distance. They are not moving close to the crowd. There has been no violence

It is such a different feeling to what we saw 24 hours ago, which was the deadliest day of this crisis, as you say. More than -- or at least, we say, believed, 25 people killed on that bloody day.

BERMAN: A good sign, Phil, that there has been no violence yet today. Any sense that either side is making concessions or prepared to?

BLACK: John, I'd say it is fair to say that the distances between them have never been greater after that violence yesterday, because, on one side, you've got the government taking a very hard-line position now, talking about radical extremists, gangsters with weapons and ammunition who are using them across the country, and they say they are now launching an anti-terror operation to deal with it.

And on the other side, you've got the Ukrainian opposition leaders and, increasingly, Western political figures, as well, who are clearly blaming the Ukrainian government for using unjustified levels of violence to stop what should be peaceful protests.

Because of those differences and because you've got the Ukrainian government now hinting perhaps that the imminent use of force to end this crisis, I do think it is fair to say that any sort of solution does not seem likely any time soon.

PEREIRA: It is distressing to hear, it's distressing to see and I'm sure it's even more distressing to be there overlooking it all.

Phil Black reporting for us, live from Kiev, Ukraine, we appreciate that.

Now, we want to turn to an outrage here at home. A group of American troops apparently making fun of funerals for fallen soldiers and then, worse, posting it online.

BERMAN: These pictures, unfortunately, they went viral. Take a look here.

This one shows soldiers posing around a flag-draped casket. We have blurred their faces. The caption reads, "We put the fun in funeral, Your fearless honor guard from various states."

Another photograph, a soldier poses alone in a car. That caption reads, "It's so damned cold out, why have a funeral outside?"

Now, both these pictures were posted on Instagram on an account belonging to Specialist Terry Harrison. She is a member of the Wisconsin Army National Guard. She has been suspended indefinitely from the funeral honors detail.

We are joined now by CNN military analyst retired Major General James "Spider" Marks. James, I've got to ask you right now -- or, "Spider," I should say -- thousands and thousands of mothers and fathers, thousands and thousands of spouses have mourned over these flag-draped caskets. It really just breaks your heart and makes you furious, all at the same time.


What you have is a case of a couple of young soldiers, obviously without the necessary adult supervision or the discipline that's required to carry out this very sacred duty.

And they are acting very flippantly and with a great deal of respect.

Irrespective of the circumstances around this particular funeral or this particular duty that they have, they absolutely got out of line, and it should not be tolerated at all. And America should be outraged.

PEREIRA: We should point out that the casket was empty. The photos and comments don't indicate any misconduct during the performance of actual military funeral honors.

But you bring up a good point. You use the word discipline and honor. When you think of a military honor guard, those are the very words you would use and are in the title.

What on Earth could these young people have been thinking?

MARKS: Michaela, clearly, they weren't thinking.

Again, they need to have some -- their chain of command clearly is involved right now. They will get to the bottom of what took place. And they will ensure that all funerals for our dead are done exceptionally well.

Look, we have a long, long history, centuries, of how military funerals should take place.

There is zero room for interpretation or for some individual flare as these individual soldiers have said they might be capable of.

There's no room for that at all. This is a very sacred duty. It needs to be done with great honor and respect.

BERMAN: And it is a sacred duty. We should pay our respects to the hundreds of thousands of men that have performed it admirably over the centuries --

PEREIRA: Absolutely.

BERMAN: -- in the United States.

MARKS: Sure.

BERMAN: You know, Michaela said that they weren't breaking any rules during the performance of that actual duty. That picture was not snapped during a funeral.

Still, could there be any legal ramifications here? We often talk about the Uniform Code of Military Justice. What could happen to these soldiers in that picture?

MARKS: I think primarily what will happen is they'll certainly be disciplined. I don't think there would be any Uniform Code of Military Justice imposed upon them.

I think what's going to happen is they are going to be removed from their duties. And they will get "jacked-up," as we say in the military.

They will certainly get an earful in terms of what their duties are going forward. I don't think there is anything legal associated with this at all.

PEREIRA: Retired Major General "Spider" Marks, thank you for that.

It was interesting. I just took a peek on Twitter a little earlier, and folks have vilified this.

It doesn't matter how young you are, and if there is any sort of gallows humor, it doesn't matter what side of pro- or anti-war you're on, these are people that put their lives forward to free America -- keep America free, rather.

BERMAN: The outrage is universal.

PEREIRA: Yeah, it is.

BERMAN: And you'd like to think that these men and women in that picture, if they had a chance to do it over again, would never do it again.

PEREIRA: One would hope.

Let's take a short break.

BERMAN: Ahead @ THIS HOUR, a story out of Kansas that might shock you, but you know what? You might love it.

The debate over spanking in school, not over the right to spank, but in a way, the right to spank harder, that's next.


PEREIRA: You may or may not have known that 19 states let parents physically discipline their students. Kansas is one of them.

But listen to this. One state rep wants to let parents and educators spank harder.

BERMAN: Gail Finney is a Democrat from Wichita. She wants to allow up to 10 strikes of the hand. Redness and bruising on the skin would be allowed. Finney says it is about restoring parental rights and clarifying what's legal.

But some experts say that any form of spanking is bad.


AMY TERREROS, PEDIATRIC NURSE PRACTITIONAER, CHILD ABUSE EXPERT: Twenty, 30 years ago, we didn't sit in car seats and yet we do now.

And, so, maybe they did spank or, worse, spanked as a child, but, now, we have research that has shown it is less effective than time-out. It tends to lead to more aggressive behaviors with the child.


PEREIRA: We're going to talk about this with Jada Watt. She is a student who actually received disciplinary paddling at her school in Texas and was bruised. There's Jada. You can see her.

Also, Dr. Daniel Bover, he's a pediatric psychiatrist in Miami. Also joining us, our legal analyst Sunny Hostin.

BERMAN: And remember here. What we are talking about is the legal right, in a way, to spank harder, to bruise, to leave a mark.

So, Jada, I have to ask you first. This happened to you. So, did it occur to you that being spanked harder would have made a difference in your behavior? Does that make it more or less effective as a punishment?

JADA WATT, SPANKED IN SCHOOL: It was definitely less effective.

BERMAN: Your mother, I should say, Jada, your mother gave permission to give them the right to have you disciplined physically like this.

What was her thinking when she gave that permission?

WATT: She was under the impression that a female was going to be doing it. That's always been the school rule, and she didn't know that it was going to be changed like that.

PEREIRA: It ended up being a male educator that gave you the paddling. Has your behavior changed, Jada?

WATT: I'm sorry.

PEREIRA: Has your behavior changed at school because of this?

You can be honest.

WATT: It didn't really change anything. It just made things more awkward.

PEREIRA: More awkward. Interesting. Well, let's bring in Sunny because I want to talk about this from a legal perspective. And it's really important that we clarify this. This came about because there was conclusion about the existing law. Spanking was allowed in schools but they wanted to implement this rule that would clarify this confusion about what was deemed child abuse and what was not.

SUNNY HOSTIN, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: I know. And I think that's what's so interesting. Many people don't realize in public schools, in 19 states, it is allowed. And in fact schools are the only public institution that allow spanking, or hitting, because it's not allowed in prisons, it's not allowed in hospitals, it's not allowed in the military. It's not allowed in mental institutions.

PEREIRA: We should add parental consent (ph)?

HOSTIN: Well, that's not always the case. It's interesting because some states, yes, the parent has to sign a consent form to spanking. Some states, they have to sign a waiver. Many, many states, they can do it even without the parent's permission and even against the parent's permission.

So I think that is fascinating. But the one defense has always been excessive force. Now in Kansas, we are talking about excessive force being okay, leaving a mark. And so I think that's where the tension has always been. But it's allowed.

BERMAN: Clarifying the rules. That's what they say they're trying to do in Kansas, where by the way they do require parental consent in Kansas.

I want to talk to Dr. Daniel Bober here right now. Dr. Bober, I'm a parent. I have two kids. You know, I think Sunny is a parent too. You want to wring your kids' necks sometimes. I think we can always stipulate that. But my fear is always that if I were to ever physically discipline them, they would turn around and do that to someone else. They copy everything.

DR. DANIEL BOBER, DIMAGGIO CHILDREN'S HOPSITAL: Well, this is basically state-sanctioned child abuse. The research is pretty clear on this. It may be legally right but it is morally wrong. And spanking your child adds to more aggression in children; it's even been associated with delinquent and criminal behavior. And it erodes trust between parents and children. So I think it's a pretty bad thing.

PEREIRA: So Danniel, there is going to be somebody that's going to say this, and let me play devil's advocate. We were spanked. We turned out okay. I'm not a violent person. What would you say to them?

BOBER: I would say of course there's many more variables going on than just that they happened to be spanked. But the thing is that time-outs work as well as spanking and it doesn't encourage kids to resolve their disputes with physical aggression, which is what we need less of in society. So I think that this is basically state- sanctioned child abuse and I don't think it is the way to go and I think it sends the wrong message.

BERMAN: I want to read the statement now from the representative who was proposing this bill. She made a statement on Twitter. She says she is aware of the blowback on this. We reached out to her. We didn't get a response, but she does say, "This legislation is intended to provide guidance to state officials in the administrative and judicial branches, serve as a guideline to parents, and protect Kansas children from abuse. This legislation is not, as has been incorrectly reported," she says, "intended to legalize child abuse in Kansas."

PEREIRA: Part of a bigger conversation that maybe we can have going down the road. Spanking in the home, spanking in the schools -- you know, again, you can find arguments on both sides. But one point is that I don't think any of us understand the idea to spank harder.

Sunny Hostin, Jada Watt and Dr. Daniel Bober, what a pleasure to have you here to discuss something that a lot of families are talking about today.

BOBER: Thank you.

WATT: Thank you.

PEREIRA: Take a break here at this hour. A new generation of Bushes running for office. Didn't Barbara Bush herself say the candidate should come from other families? We'll discuss.


BERMAN: So remember what Barbara Bush said recently about having more Bushes in public office? That maybe it's time for other families to step up?


BARBARA BUSH, FORMER FIRST LADY: And if we can't find more than two or three families to run for high office, that's silly. I think the Kennedys, Clintons, Bushes, there's just more family than that.


PEREIRA: Well, apparently, one of her grandson is not listening. George P. Bush, Jeb's son, is running for Texas land commissioner. He has own big bus and everything.

Now, given how much land Texas has, winning that office could very well set the stage for another Bush, another George Bush, in fact, in national politics.

BERMAN: Allan Lichtman is an author and history professor, at American University. And Allan, of course there was that famous quote in the first race that Ted Kennedy ran for Senate when his brother was president. His opponent said, "If your name was Edward Moore, not Edward Kennedy, your candidacy would be a joke."

Now, we're not saying that George P. Kennedy or Joe Kennedy III up in Massachusetts that they're not accomplished in their own right. But it's fair to say it's hard to imagine them being in the position they're in if they didn't have the names that they had.

ALLAN LICHTMAN, HISTORY PROFESSOR: You are absolutely right. Though, as we know, Edward Kennedy went on to become one of the greatest senators in the history of the country. So this can cut both ways. He wouldn't have been elected had he not been a Kennedy, but if that had been case, the country would have been greatly deprived.

Look, we don't have an aristocracy in America. But we in fact do have an aristocracy in America, as you know. It's people who are well connected politically, who are wealthy, who have name recognition, who have the resources to run for office. You know, there's a quotation Joe Kennedy, the father, once said, "With the money I'm spending, I could elect my chauffeur."

PEREIRA: So Allan, let me ask you then, really though, given the name recognition factor, isn't that really our fault as much as it is theirs? Are we being lazy voters saying, "Oh, I recognize that Kennedy name on the ballot. I know they came from a political family. He'll do the job."

LICTHMAN: I hate to dump on American voters, but I think you're absolutely right. Unfortunately, American voters are very lazy and, look, they tend to send the same kind of people back to office.

Look at the Congress of the United States. It has approval ratings lower than Attila the Hun. And the American voter sends the same kind of people back to Congress. We need to be open to new kinds of people in politics, not just people from well-connected families or people with a lot of money. But where are the labor leaders? Where are the poets? Where are the artists? Where are the doctors? People who can enrich our politics, they're not there.

BERMAN: Where are the artists? That's what I want to see more of. I want to see more musicians in public office.

LICHTMAN: There you go.

BERMAN: Allan, one of the things about these families -- we talk about the Kennedys, we talk about the Bushes. There is a legacy of public service within these families. So these kids grow up talking about issues around the dinner table. They give -- or they grow up knowing that they want to give back. So there is that element of it there. I wonder though, if your goal is to get more families involved here, how do you do it? How do you get the musicians? Because really one of the only ways to break into politics is to have money.

LICHTMAN: That's right. There is only one answer to this, and unfortunately it will take either changing the Constitution or a very different Supreme Court, and that is complete public financing of campaigns and much tighter laws on lobbying and special interests. That's a pipe dream, of course, but that's the only way it is going to happen because our politics are now so money driven. To run even for a congressional seat in a competitive race, you need millions of dollars. To run state-wide races in even a medium-sized state, say, for U.S. Senate, you need tens of millions of dollars. Where do you get that? If you're a Bush, no problem.

PEREIRA: If you're a Clinton, no problem. But it's interesting, because we've both been going back and forth on this thing, when you see the fact that, you know, these people -- Chelsea Clinton, we just had her on screen a second ago. She was raised by these two bright people immersed in this, so there's obviously something that she could lend to it. But then on the flip side, if you don't, no fresh ideas. No fresh perspective. No artists in the White House.

BERMAN: I want that musician there.

PEREIRA: He does. He is looking for a rock star.

LICHTMAN: How about you two? How about you two?

BERMAN: Skeletons, man. Skeletons. Sorry.

All right, Allan Lichtman, great to see you today. Thank you so much.

You know, people used to ask me if my dad was Chris Berman at ESPN. And I'm like, no, my dad is Gary Berman. If my dad was Chris Berman, I might be anchoring at a different time slot.

PEREIRA: A totally different time slot.

We're going to take a short break here at this hour. Ahead, though, first, we had of course NSA spying controversy. Now the Department Homeland Security, they want to keep a closer eye on your car. Is this smart law enforcement or is it government stalking?