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@THISHOUR WITH BERMAN AND MICHAELA

Battle Over Confederate License Plate; DHS Issues Warning on Shoe Bombers; 1996 University of Maryland Hack Just Revealed

Aired February 20, 2014 - 11:30   ET

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


RAY MCBERRY, GEORGIA CHAPTER, SONS OF CONFEDERATE VETERANS: Every year we have, in the last several years, between 3,000 to 4,000 each year have requested the specialty license plate from the Sons of Confederate Veterans. And that was before we had the battle flag on their so prominently featured like we do this year. In the past, it's just been a small logo for the organization, which does have a battle flag on it. But 3,000 to 4,000 people each year have requested it. Again, I don't know how the figures came about.

JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: Do you understand how this can spur feelings in African-Americans in Georgia or people elsewhere in the country? The Confederate battle flag, you at least understand it means something different to other people?

MICHAELA PEREIRA, CNN ANCHOR: And it will be a visual daily reminder on the highways of Georgia?

MCBERRY: You understand that you're telling African-Americans who are members of our organization they're not allowed to celebrate their history and heritage as Southerners and as Sons of Confederate Veterans because people don't like it?

PEREIRA: Is there middle ground here?

MCBERRY: Yeah, I think the middle ground is everybody should respect everyone's right to celebrate their own history and heritage.

CHARLES STEELE JR, PRESIDENT SOUTHERN CHRISTIAN LEADERSHIP CONFERENCE: Can I make a twist in here?

PEREIRA: Sure.

STEELE: What I see is treason. Dealing with this type of imagery --

(LAUGHTER)

You tried to overthrow this country. It is a shame in this day of time.

BERMAN: He didn't try to --

(CROSSTALK)

STEELE: No. But his heritage --

BERMAN: The tried to withdraw from the union.

STEELE: His heritage had an input in terms of what he's trying to represent with the historicity of this particular image.

PEREIRA: There's certainly going to be a lot of opinions.

We encourage you at home to tweet us, @thishour.

Ray and Charles, thanks for coming. We know there's strong sentiments on both sides of the equation. Thank you so much for being here.

MCBERRY: Thank you.

STEELE: Thank you.

(CROSSTALK)

PEREIRA: Ahead @ THIS HOUR, a new terror threat. New fears of a shoe bomber targeting the U.S. What needs to be down to keep our skies safe?

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

PEREIRA: In the bloodiest day yet in Kiev there are reports of 100 killed in Independence Square. Showing you a live picture now. That ended a short-lived truce between protesters and police. We have just learned that Russia is sending a mediator to Kiev at the request of Ukraine's president, according to a Kremlin spokesman. Also, Ukraine's government says dozens of police officers are taken hostage by protesters.

BERMAN: I'm not sure a Russian mediator will be acceptable to the protestors there.

BERMAN: Meanwhile, thousands of protesters have been camped out since the Ukraine's president reversed their decision to sign a trade deal with the European Union. Instead, he took direction and aid from Russia. Protestors demand he give up powers.

A little while ago, I said CNN had confirmed that several police had confirmed officers were taken hostage. CNN has not confirmed that. The interior ministry in Ukraine has said several police have been taken hostage. We have not been able to confirm that.

PEREIRA: We're working to sift through the information. It is coming in frequently. We'll work to confirm and bring it to you.

Onto another concern here at home. Homeland Security is issuing a new warning to airlines: Watch out for attempts to hide explosives in shoes, liquids and cosmetics on U.S-bound flights from abroad.

BERMAN: Officials think terror groups are working on new shoe bomb designs.

I want to bring in former New York State Homeland Security director, Michael Balboni. Michael, officials say there's no specific threat. To me the idea they're looking at shoe bomb, that's specific. What's the discrepancy here?

MICHAEL BALBONI, FORMER NEW YORK STATE HOMELAND SECURITY DIRECTOR: The challenge is what do you share, when do you share it? It's a non- specific threat of moderate severity. You don't know what plane it could be on. You're heightening up security levels. But if you didn't do it, and god forbid something did happen, there would obviously be criticism but perhaps a chance to thwart what the effort is out there.

You know what the story really is, what's old is new again. Richard Reid, the shoe bomber, the overt threat from England where they tried to use the liquid bombs. Again, it's one of the hydrogen peroxide- based explosives. And that's what they continue to use and they continue to target aviation.

PEREIRA: Let's talk about the bomb detecting technology. Has it advanced since 2009? What have we learned since then?

BALBONI: There are so many agencies like the Homeland Security Advanced Projects Agency. What happens there is they test all these different standoff detection systems. It hasn't gone to the point you can walk into a screening system and truly know what people have on them. Now, that doesn't mean we're not going to stop it. We are going to stop a lot of things because of the way the backs scatter, different techniques we tried over the years. These are types of things you have to put in place. The oldest in terms of trying to prevent a bombing, you don't look for the bomb. You look for the bomber, which means behavioral assessment training for officer, ability to spot what people are trying to do, getting on a plane. These are the types of techniques that have evolved since 9/11.

BERMAN: We were on a plane yesterday. I don't think we saw anything different. If you're a passenger flying in and out of the U.S., what are you likely to see now that there are new warnings?

BALBONI: Homeland Security, some is overt, some is covert. They use cameras and supervisors. You look at the entire an array of passengers coming through. At many busy airports, hundreds and hundreds coming through screening points at any given time of day. You're also seeing perhaps somebody posing as a passenger but is not a passenger, undercover folks. In addition, you may see more pat-downs, a larger selection of people pulled off the line saying can we talk to you. Some say, why don't we do like they do in Israel, which is have an interview, where you're traveling from, where did you come from, who you're with? That's impractical given the millions that fly in the U.S. everyday.

BERMAN: Michael Balboni, always great to have you. Thanks for joining us AT THIS HOUR.

BALBONI: Thank you.

PEREIRA: Ahead, another data breach. This time the University of Maryland. It goes back 16 years, back to 1998. Makes you ask the question, is any of our personal information safe?

BERMAN: Man, in the 90s? Don't want nobody know about that.

(LAUGHTER)

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

PEREIRA: An update for you. Homeland Security is cancelling plans to track vehicle license plate across the nation. We talked about it yesterday AT THIS HOUR. Later in the afternoon, Homeland Security officials came out with the order to cancel.

BERMAN: "The Washington Post" says the agency wanted the national tracking system to help them find illegal immigrants. Privacy advocates were concerned because law-abiding citizens could be tracked.

There are two big tech stories to tell you making a lot of news. First, a lot of people shocked to learn that Facebook --

PEREIRA: Mostly you.

(LAUGHTER)

BERMAN: I'm shocked to learn that Facebook is buying this WhatsApp thing for a whopping $19 billion. I mean, you know -- I know technology.

PEREIRA: Don't worry America. I explained WhatsApp to him.

The other big story, this one is really concerning. Hundreds of thousands of University of Maryland students and employees have been shocked to learn their personal data may have been hacked.

Joining us is CNN technology analyst, Brett Larson.

Good to see you my tech friend.

BRETT LARSON, CNN TECHNOLOGY ANALYST: Good to see you, too. A big day.

PEREIRA: Big day. Let's talk about WhatsApp.

(CROSSTALK)

PEREIRA: -- wasn't aware of WhatsApp. First of all, for the crowd, like John, explain how it works. And more importantly probably, why it's so valuable to Facebook.

LARSON: It's quite interesting why it's so valuable. Think of it as Skype for text messaging. It works across the globe, around the world. You can message anybody in the form of text message, groups of people. It goes over your data plan not your SMS plan. This is great in emerging markets, in countries where texting is expensive. It's a great alternative. State side, it's not as big as it is in other places only because most of our cell phone plans include unlimited texting. So we're not concerned. That doesn't mean it's less valuable.

PEREIRA: And -- ding, ding, ding -- why it's valuable to Facebook.

LARSON: Bingo. Facebook has struggled with a messenger app. But Facebook is also struggling to keep and attract younger users. That's where this comes in. Whatsapp has 450 million users every month.

PEREIRA: All over the world.

LARSON: Yeah. They estimate they'll send a trillion messages this year, out pacing text messaging.

BERMAN: I'm beginning to understand. The part that was confusing to me, Facebook bought Instagram, which to me everybody knows about. They bought Instagram for a billion bucks. This is $19 billion. That's a lot of money. What you can you with that?

(CROSSTALK)

BERMAN: Four World Trade Centers?

(LAUGHTER)

12.6 hot dogs, which we know Mark Zuckerberg likes.

PEREIRA: You could binge on Netflix 198 years.

BERMAN: It seems odd to me that Instagram is $1 billion and this WhatsApp thing was $19 billion.

LARSON: Right. Also, they put in a bid for SnapChat, but that was only $3 billion.

PEREIRA: OK let's talk about the breach. That's a recurring theme of late. This time Maryland University records hacked. Over 300,000 students affected. The information included their Social Security numbers.

LARSON: Yeah.

BERMAN: Talk about that.

LARSON: Of course, we know our Social Security number is the key that unlocks everything about us. Everybody asks for it from your doctors' office to your gym membership. Everybody wants your Social Security number. If you say I don't want to give it to you, they can't run a credit check, think you're a deadbeat.

(CROSSTALK)

LARSON: Yeah. I tried to do it when I got phone service. They said I have to go to a payment office and give them cash. You want to keep your Social Security number private. These data breaches are starting to remind me of computer virus outbreaks in the late '90s early 2000's. If you're a hacker, it's bravado to say, University of Maryland, I did that. That gives you street cred in the hackers' meme. It's almost what they've become.

What's interesting about this one, so far, the University of Maryland has said there were no back doors open. These people just continued to pick locks until they got this information.

(CROSSTALK)

PEREIRA: They got data going back to 1998?

BERMAN: That's the part that concerns me. My new information, current information maybe, but this is old stuff.

PEREIRA: Old stuff. This is back when he had questionable hair choices.

(LAUGHTER)

BERMAN: How much data do you have sitting around that you forgot about?

LARSON: Right.

(CROSSTALK)

BERMAN: Brett Larson, it's been great to have you here. Nice talk. Join us again AT THIS HOUR.

LARSON: Thank you.

BERMAN: Ahead for us next, Canada --

PEREIRA: Wait. What?

BERMAN: Canada dominates the United States in polar vortexes and in Justin Bieber exports. Can they beat us in hockey today?

PEREIRA: Big game today.

BERMAN: And women's? A huge game. We'll take a look ahead when we come back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

PEREIRA: It is time to turn attention to Sochi. This is your spoiler alert. Give you a second to get away from the screen. We're about to give an important result. Cover your ears. Hit the mute button. Run out of the room.

BERMAN: Because we have learned a certain country from North America has taken the gold in women's curling.

(CROSSTALK) BERMAN: Canada. Canada just won women's curling. Congratulations.

Let's look at the medal board. U.S. still leading with 23, seven gold. Russia and the Netherlands tied with 22. Norway right behind them with the most golds.

PEREIRA: Canada has the most medals, including six gold, followed by Germany.

BERMAN: The event I'm super excited about, so many people talking about, Team USA taking on Team Canada, in minutes, in women's ice hockey.

PEREIRA: This is this battle for North America.

Andy Scholes is here from "Bleacher Report."

Boy, this is a grudge match. Team Canada dominated the last three Olympics. We know these teams on a personal level don't get along.

ANDY SCHOLES, CNN BLEACHER REPORT: Yeah, they don't like each other. Since this became an Olympic sport back in 1998, these are the only two teams that have won gold. USA took the first in '98, beating Canada. Since then, Canada has won the last two Olympics. In two of those Olympics, they beat USA for the gold. This is a rivalry. This is a game both teams have been shooting all year. The goalie for TEAM USA said we've taken the last eight months to prepare for this moment. You know they want to win. These two teams played in the group phase. Canada won that game 3-2. So we'll see what happens today. Puck drops in less than 10 minutes.

PEREIRA: Minutes away.

(CROSSTALK)

BERMAN: -- Andy Scholes.

Big event going on, women's free skating. Americans in contention.

SCHOLES: They are. They are. You know, they haven't won at this event in the last two Olympics, this and the last. They have three skaters now in the top seven, which is really good. That being said, medaling is going to be tough. The skater on top is the Korean sensation, the defending champ. She's probably going to take the gold. People are saying she's pretty unbeatable. But you have Gracie Gold in fourth, Ashley Wagner in fifth and (INAUDIBLE) in seventh. Good chance to a medal. They want to medal in this event because they haven't gone consecutive Olympics without coming home with a medal in the women's figure skating since 1948.

PEREIRA: Wow.

SCHOLES: That will be a long, long streak.

PEREIRA: If you're a speed junkie, there's a couple of events to watch. Free-style ski event today. Medal possibilities in lady's half pipe.

SCHOLES: That's right. That's one of the X Games moved to the winter Olympics. It's gone well for Team USA. David Wise, the men's competition, he took gold. The U.S. has four competitors in this event today. They have another chance to get a gold. Maddie Bowman is an interesting character. In an interview with "Mother Jones" she said she has a sports spirit animal, she calls it a pizzly bear.

PEREIRA: I don't know what a pizzly bear is.

SCHOLES: A combination of a polar bear and a grizzly bear.

PEREIRA: If you had a sports spirit, John, what would you say you'd be?

BERMAN: Pizzly bear sounds fierce. I would go with pizzly.

(LAUGHTER)

(CROSSTALK)

PEREIRA: Good to have you.

SCHOLES: Good to be here.

(CROSSTALK)

PEREIRA: Have you seen this video from Sochi? Olympian Kate Hansen took it. Look at this. People, that's a wolf. There's a wolf wandering around her hotel. Look right there in the hallway.

BERMAN: Maybe that's a husky.

PEREIRA: No, that's a wolf.

BERMAN: We know Sochi has a problem with strays. It's possible it could be a hybrid of some kind. We'll look at that again and figure out if it's a wolf.

Finally, I want to leave you with a doss of cable outrage.

PEREIRA: Your outrage even in Atlanta.

BERMAN: It's really national outrage, folks. A new ranking out by a company called Mercer of North America's Top Livable Cities. Here they are. Top five will shock you, or they should. The top five: Vancouver, Ottawa, Toronto, Montreal and San Francisco.

PEREIRA: I'm sorry.

(CROSSTALK)

BERMAN: Do you notice about the top four there?

PEREIRA: Yeah.

BERMAN: They're not here. They're in Canada. At least one of them, Rob Ford is the mayor. Don't get me wrong, we love Gordon Lightfoot.

(LAUGHTER)

Four of the five are in Canada? Isn't it cold there? Are turtle necks really that comfortable? New York is the city that never sleeps. In Illinois, they call it sweet home Chicago. Heart of rock- n-roll is in Cleveland. No one sings about Ottawa, do they?

PEREIRA: No.

BERMAN: So what's most livable about it? Most like to visit but wouldn't want to live there.

PEREIRA: Oh, come on.

(LAUGHTER)

BERMAN: Also, the population of Canada is 35 million. The United States is 313 million. If we're talking math, if Canada is so livable, why don't more live there?

PEREIRA: Because it's cold.

BERMAN: In closing, that Mercer company that did the rankings, guess where it's from?

PEREIRA: Canada.

My rebuttal. A couple of things. Hockey.

BERMAN: I love hockey.

PEREIRA: You love hockey.

BERMAN: And I like Rush.

PEREIRA: You like nice people.

BERMAN: Yes, I do.

PEREIRA: There's a bunch of them in Canada. I'm one of them.

Can I give you another one?

BERMAN: Yes.

PEREIRA: Beer. You're a big fan of that.

BERMAN: Yes.

PEREIRA: One last --

(CROSSTALK)

PEREIRA: And funny people. A boat load of funny people from Canada.

BERMAN: I love Canada. Don't tweet me hating from Canada. I don't mean half the stuff I say.

PEREIRA: @Johnberman.

BERMAN: Yeah, @Johnberman.

We want to leave you with a CNN story we told you about yesterday. This is a bit of a turn. A controversial spanking bill in Kansas.

PEREIRA: We had a great discussion on it yesterday.

BERMAN: We did. "The Wichita Eagle" is reporting that bill died.

PEREIRA: It would have allowed teachers to spank kids to a point their skin turned red or bruised. There were a lot of people concerned about that going through. It has died and no longer on the table.

BERMAN: Not going to happen.

PEREIRA: That's it from @ THIS HOUR from Atlanta. Thanks for joining us.

BERMAN: "LEGAL VIEW," Don Lemon sitting in today, starts right after this.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)