Return to Transcripts main page


Obama Warns Ukraine; Kerry -- Global Climate Change, Weapon of Mass Destruction; Cee Lo Leaving "The Voice"; Sharon Stone Magazine Cover; Bush Announces Vet Initiative; U.N. Issues Report on North Korean Regime; Down's Syndrome Teen Signs with 76ers; 3-Year-Old Arizona Girl, Youngest Mensa Member

Aired February 19, 2014 - 15:30   ET



BROOKE BALDWIN, CNN ANCHOR: Bottom of the hour, you are watching CNN. I'm Brooke Baldwin.

And a difference in political opinion in Ukraine has led to deaths of 26 people from both sides, with government forces turning on its own people.

Two-hundred-forty people are in hospitals, more than 70 arrested and Ukraine's army chief had just been fired.

It began as peaceful, the protest there for a more westernized government. Now, one side claims police corruption, and the others say radicals are at work.

Jake Tapper joins me, the host of "THE LEAD" here. Just a short time ago, we played the sound from President Obama down in Mexico addressing the crisis happening in Kiev, saying it is up to the Ukrainian government to handle the growing protests appropriately.

I know you listened to what he said. What did you make of that, Jake?

JAKE TAPPER, CNN CHIEF WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT: The president, his most pointed moment in his remarks about what's going on in Ukraine was that there will be consequences if people step over the line.

And I guess the question, of course, is what consequences will there be? Some of the Obama senior advisers that traveled with him to Mexico talked about all the different possibilities in their toolkit, including sanctions against individuals responsible for the violence, pointing to, specifically, government officials.

But right now the threat remains fairly vague. Secretary of State John Kerry, of course, was a little bit more specific earlier in the day when he spoke in Paris about the situation in Ukraine.


JOHN KERRY, SECRETARY OF STATE: We are talking about the possibility of sanctions of other steps with our friends in Europe and elsewhere in order to try to create the environment for compromise. (END VIDEO CLIP)

TAPPER: The message all along here has been that Yanukovych needs to reach out to the opposition, needs to compromise, that the United States does not want to take the steps of imposing sanctions.

But there are others in Congress, Brooke, who are calling for sanctions immediately, including Senator John McCain and Senator Robert Menendez, the Democrat from New Jersey, who chairs the foreign relations committee.

BALDWIN: I know you will have much more on this as we've been all over this.

Jake Tapper and "THE LEAD" starts in a half hour from now. Thank you, sir, for that.

TAPPER: Thanks.

BALDWIN: So, you have -- when you look at the global picture, you have this crisis in Ukraine, you have a crisis in Venezuela, just a mess, total disarray in Syria, you have Iran, all falling in the lap of this man.

Jake just mentioned him. We just played some sound, Secretary of State John Kerry, and Kerry has come in for criticism lately, but none stronger than this.

Look at this. This is from our "CROSSFIRE" host Newt Gingrich, tweeted this.

"Every American who cares about national security must demand Kerry's resignation. A delusional secretary of state is dangerous to our safety."

That tweet came right after Kerry said this.


KERRY: Climate change can be considered another weapon of mass destruction, perhaps even the world's most fearsome weapon of mass destruction.


BALDWIN: So then Newt Gingrich went on to Twitter to tweet this.

"Does Kerry really believe global warming is more dangerous than North Korean and Iranian nukes, more than Russian and Chinese nukes. Really?"

And here he is, Newt Gingrich, along with Van Jones, two of my colleagues on "CROSSFIRE," so, gentlemen, welcome to both of you.



BALDWIN: So, Mr. Speaker, or my colleague, Newt Gingrich is how I get to refer to you now, I believe you have heard this exchange already, but let's listen again.

Taking you back to 2007, this is you and John Kerry discussing climate change. Roll out.


KERRY: What would you say to Senator Inhofe and others in the Senate who are resisting even science? What's your message to them here today?

GINGRICH: My message, I think, is that the evidence is sufficient that we should move towards the most effective possible steps to reduce carbon loading into the atmosphere.

KERRY: And do it urgently. Now -

GINGRICH: And do it urgently.


BALDWIN: So, Newt, again, this is 2007. You are saying, basically, is such a threat it requires urgent action.

But here, fast-forward seven years, you have John Kerry saying, hey, we need to take action. And then you say he should resign.

GINGRICH: Wait, there is a huge difference. I think we have to have a serious rational conversation. I think We can adopt positive policies and we have.

I recently, for example, wrote about a brand-new plant in Mississippi that does a dramatic job of carbon-capture that the Southern Companies developed. There are things we can do.

What John Kerry said on Sunday in -

BALDWIN: Jakarta.

GINGRICH: -- in Indonesia in Jakarta is profoundly wrong.

BALDWIN: How so?

GINGRICH: He said this could be the greatest weapon of mass destruction, the greatest threat that we face.

Now, you just showed Kiev. Russia is a neighbor to Kiev. Russia has several thousand nuclear weapons.

The Iranians announced the day after Kerry's speech, the Ayatollah Khamenei, the chief dictator, said nothing is going to come out of the negotiations. He doesn't mind them going on, but nothing will be agreed to. You have the problems of over a hundred nuclear weapons in Pakistan, for example, several hundred in China.

To suggest that climate change is comparable as a threat to human beings to these kind of weapons I think is lunacy.

BALDWIN: It seems like that that is a misstatement, because I have the verbatim in front of me, and it was John Kerry who said climate change can be considered another weapon of mass destruction.

We know all the miles he is traveling all (inaudible) --

GINGRICH: Wait a second. Read the next sentence.

BALDWIN: -- (inaudible) Iran -


BALDWIN: And we also know -

GINGRICH: Read the next sentence.

BALDWIN: -- down the road, we all need to curb our impact to climate change. Is that not a mischaracterization of what he said?

GINGRICH: No, no. Read the sentence. He says, "Indeed it could be the most dangerous."

VAN JONES, CNN CO-HOST, "CROSSFIRE": Perhaps. He said perhaps.

Let me say a couple of things here. First of all, I am proud that John Kerry is willing and able -- he's one of the few world leaders that's trying to connect some of the dots here.

First of all, he mentioned it in this speech. He does talk about terrorism. He does talk about the other threats.

But there is not a single problem we have on the world stage that doesn't get made worse if the climate is more destabilized.

If you even look at Syria, what's going on in Syria? Nobody talks about this. A million-plus people because of a big drought there flooded into the cities. That became a part of destabilization.

In Libya, 93 percent of Libya is arid. That became a part of destabilization.

We've got to be able to connect these dots. I don't think it's fair when you have a secretary of state as energetic and creative as John Kerry who said he should be fired over one line in the speech when the overall speech, I think, is very appropriate.

BALDWIN: Let me stay with you, Van, because I want to turn this around, because since Kerry has been in office, we have seen -- you bring up Syria. We have seen essentially zero progress there.

There is still the situation in Iran. North Korea is still a menace, and I think that's putting -

JONES: Zero progress?

BALDWIN: Hang on.

North Korea is still a mess. We're resetting relations with Russia. That's pretty tense.

Tell me what John Kerry has done at improving all of those situations.

JONES: First of all, we have the Iranians at the table. We are trying to figure out a way, short of going to war, short of starting another war, a ground war in the Mideast, to get them to back off. That's real progress.

Syria, I agree is a mess, but I don't think the American people or the Democrats or the Republicans wanted the president to start a war there. So, inside of not starting a war, which the Republicans didn't want him to do, he has been trying to be effective.

The Geneva situation didn't work out well, but not for a lack of trying. Now, they've got a reset.

But the idea that these problems are easy and simple to solve and that somehow John Kerry is off in (inaudible) when you can see every day he is on TV doing the best job he can, I just don't think makes sense.

BALDWIN: Newt Gingrich, please react, sir.

GINGRICH: Look, John Kerry is a sincere person. He's an energetic person. I agree with that.

He also has a set of values and goals that make no sense. If you read the speech from Jakarta, line by line, it is a speech that I think has a whole series of factual errors in it, and it's a speech that sets a standard for the State Department.

Remember, this is not some senator. This is the secretary of state for the United States telling the entire planet that we believe the greatest danger we face is global climate change.

I guarantee you, when Vladimir Putin -

JONES: Among them.

GINGRICH: -- was briefed on that, Putin thought to himself this is a guy who is not in touch with reality, and Putin decided that he could take more risks than he's already taking when he's dealing with an administration that is this misfocused.

BALDWIN: Go ahead, Van. You get the last word then I got to go, 30 seconds.

JONES: OK, look, you know how much I respect the speaker, Newt Gingrich. However that's completely wrong. You know who else agrees with John Kerry? The Pentagon, the CIA, they all say that climate change is a major threat to national security.

I guess everybody in the Pentagon should resign as well.

BALDWIN: Van Jones and Newt Gingrich, we're going to have to have part two on "CROSSFIRE" tonight, 6:30 Eastern.

JONES: We will, tonight.

BALDWIN: We'll be watching.

Guys, thank you very much.

GINGRICH: See you then.

BALDWIN: Coming up here, a couple of stories I know a lot of you are talking about today.

First, you have this major change coming to one of TV's most popular shows. We will tell you which star has now announced he is up and leaving.

And a former president, very candid about his time in Washington, D.C., President Bush, as in George W., opens up about a lot of things and also reveals what he misses most about sitting in that White House.

That's next.


BALDWIN: Some of the hottest stories in a flash, "Rapid Fire." Roll it.


BALDWIN: The video of a smash-and-grab happened in Texas. This is a Texas gas station. You see the surveillance video. Two masked men crashed the car into the convenience store early, early in the morning.

Keep your eyes focused on the screen. You will see what they grabbed. They didn't want cash. They wanted an 18-pack of beer for this.

Two guys hopped back in the car and away they go. No word if they have been caught.

Big announcement from singer Cee Lo Green. He is leaving "The Voice."

CEE LO GREEN, SINGER: I'm going to miss "the voice" too. I'm not coming back, guys.

ELLEN DEGENERES, TALK SHOW HOST: Oh, you're not coming back at all.

GREEN: I'm not coming back.

DEGENERES: I did not know that.

GREEN: I don't want to wear out my welcome there. I have so many other things I want to do.

BALDWIN: Cee Lo dropping the news during "The Ellen DeGeneres Show." He loved making music and hasn't released anything in years. His next album is almost finished.

Sharon Stone on the cover of "Shape" magazine in a bikini. She is coming to terms with the aging process and said that wasn't easy.

At one point Sharon Stone said she locked herself in the bathroom and forced herself to accept the aging process.

Thing she gave up to preserve her figure, alcohol.

President Bush, George W. Bush, pushing for more employers to hire U.S. veterans, he hosted a Warrior Summit at the presidential library to introduce the service initiative.

They will coordinate support for military veterans, helping them transition with resources for their families and get them jobs.

FORMER PRESIDENT GEORGE W. BUSH: I miss Air Force One. In eight years they never lost my baggage.

I do miss saluting men and women who volunteered to defend our nation during war. Many are coming home and are preparing for new missions as civilians. I intend to salute these men and women for the rest of my life.

Since 9/11, more than 2.5 million Americans have worn the uniform. They faced down our enemies, they've liberated millions, and in so doing, showed the true compassion of a great nation.

They are the one percent of America who kept the 99-percent safe, and we owe them and their families a deep debt of gratitude.


BALDWIN: Yes, we do.

So, in addition helping them get work, he says the initiative will also help end stigma and misconceptions around PTSD, post-traumatic stress disorder, and to help our men and women in uniform to get the help they need, get the treatment they need.

Coming up next, a stern warning from the United Nations about a nation making international headlines, the U.N. just released a 372-page report on North Korea.

In it, brutal details of torture and imprisonment of thousands of people, and now some are comparing those atrocities to what Adolph Hitler did decades ago. More on this eye-opening report, next on CNN.


BALDWIN: I know we've been focusing so much on the intense uprising in the Ukraine, but you need to see this as well.

Just take a moment to note, these images of resistance you would never see in North Korea, a country that's made headlines for nuclear threats and its leader in this bizarre-o relationship with NBA bad boy Dennis Rodman.

But the United Nations just released a report detailing a state so oppressive the authors say it does not have any parallel in the contemporary world.

Think about that. The commission finds there is an almost complete denial of the right to freedom of thought, conscience, and religion as well as of the rights to freedom of opinion, expression, information, and association.

The images of North Korea that accompany the report are disturbing. We don't have much video. We have cartoons here.

These are drawings, starving people eating snakes, people tortured so severely they are throwing up, all drawn by a prison-camp survivor.

Another survivor told the U.N. of a North Korean guard beating a pregnant woman because of her crying baby, and then the mother was forced to silence her child.


JEE HEON, NORTH KOREAN PRISON CAMP SURVIVOR (via translator): With her shaking hands, she picked up the baby and put the baby face down in the water.


BALDWIN: John Park, let me bring you in, lecturer at Harvard's Kennedy School of Government.

And it's sick, reading the details out of this report. It's got testimony from some hundred-plus victims, but going through all of this, for me, it was what they did to this pregnant woman.

Did anything surprise you?

JOHN PARK, LECTURER, HARVARD'S KENNEDY SCHOOL OF GOVERNMENT: The document that we see right now is a collection of a lot of reports, a lot of snippets in the past.

The unique thing is that it's all gathered in one document, and as -- has the United Nations' seal on it.

It's being taken seriously. It lays an important foundation. This is a marker of sorts, going forward.

BALDWIN: As we go forward, we get a comment from the North Korean government calling the report an "instrument of political plot to defame the regime," but again, like you're saying, even the existence of this report all in one place is crucial because why?

PARK: The methodology is quite unique.

If you look at it, there are 80 witnesses who are interviewed not only in Asia but frankly all over the world.

There are 240 confidential interviews that were conducted and a number of experts who were consulted as well from those in the advocacy groups and others who researched this area for quite a while.

When you look at the collection of all of these different details and the key findings, the authors, three authors, are able to lay out key findings that inform their recommendations that hopefully will guide some kind of action going forward.

But even the authors are managing their own expectations. But I go back to this point that it lays an important foundation, a marker of sorts, going forward.

BALDWIN: When you talk about action going forward, what action? I mean, what signs are there that this -- these atrocities will stop?

PARK: It is a tall order. There's one particular recommendation that calls for the U.N. Security Council to adopt targeted sanctions on those deemed responsible for carrying out crimes against humanity.

Those type of targeted sanctions, though, it would be very difficult to move forward in terms of actually getting those as a resolution and implementing them.

But national authorities, governments around the world, can adopt their own targeted sanctions, and there are precedents of this.

But at the end of the day it really boils down to the implementation and the record there is quite thin.

BALDWIN: John Park, thank you very much, on this horrifying study out of -- what's happening in North Korea. Thank you.

Up next, a dream come true for a teenager who idolizes playing professional basketball, the 18-year-old has Down's Syndrome and signed a contract with the Philadelphia 76ers.

He hit the court, and we have some heartwarming highlights, next.


BALDWIN: A Pennsylvania teen's dream comes true to play with the Philadelphia 76ers.

The NBA team signed the 18-year-old, who has Down's Syndrome, and CNN entertainment correspondent Nischelle Turner introduces us to this young man who has become a star player.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: From Bensalem High School, number 33, Kevin Grow --

NISCHELLE TURNER, CNN ENTERTAINMENT CORRESPONDENT: Meet the new breakout star of the Philadelphia 76ers, already a fan favorite and the center of the team huddle.

His name is Kevin Grow. Before he was a free agent, the 18-year-old with Down's Syndrome was already a star player.

For four years, Kevin was the manager of Bensalem High School basketball team.

With two minutes remaining in the final game of the season, Kevin's coach took him off the bench and put him in the game.

He scored four three-pointers, knocking in this buzzer-beater.

After the play went viral, it was only a matter of time before the pros came calling.

The 'Sixers signed Kevin to a ceremonial two-day contract with the team.



BROWN: I know you can shoot, but can you play defense, too?

GROW: Yes.

BROWN: I say we give him a three-day contract.

TURNER: Kevin hit the court for team practice, sporting his new custom jersey, scoring extra points with fans and family.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The joy and love that he brings is just incredible.


BALDWIN: Nischelle Turner, thank you very much.

By the way, Kevin's mother says his accomplishments show others that they can simply dream big and not let a disability stop them.

Awesome for him.

A 3-year-old Arizona girl is the youngest Mensa member in her state.

CNN affiliate KNXV interviewed the parents of Alexa Martin. Her parents say she has an IQ, wait for it, over 160.

By the way, the average person's score, like you and me, 100.


IAN MARTIN, FATHER: She would recite her bedtime stories from the night before.

We're talking 20-to-25-page books, and she would recite them from the night before, not just recite them, recite them exactly.


BALDWIN: Her parents say she started reading when she was two. She's at a fifth-grade level now.

She's also, by the way, fluent in Spanish. Wow.

Well, I'm just going to leave it there. I'm Brooke Baldwin. Thanks for being with me. See you tomorrow.

"THE LEAD" with Jake Tapper starts right now.