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EARLY START

Truce Crumbling in Kiev; Closer Security Expected in Airports; Facebook Buys WhatsApp for $19B; Punk Rockers Attacked;

Aired February 20, 2014 - 05:30   ET

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


(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

DON LEMON, CNN ANCHOR: Breaking news this morning. Bloody protests taking over the streets of Ukraine. At least 20 people were killed today. We are live with the very latest for you.

POPPY HARLOW, CNN ANCHOR: Terror alert at the airport. Why Homeland Security believes terrorists could once again be using their shoes to smuggle bombs on board planes.

LEMON: And temperatures are rising. The snow has stopped falling, but there is a new weather warning for a big part of the country. Indra Petersons is tracking this one for us.

Welcome back, everyone, to EARLY START. I'm Don Lemon.

HARLOW: I'm Poppy Harlow. It is 31 minutes past the hour, 5:31 a.m. here on the east coast, and we are tracking breaking news.

LEMON: Yes. We're going to start with some breaking news and it's from Ukraine where this morning a shaky truce appears to have fallen apart in Kiev. Live pictures now. This is Independent Square where protesters clashed with police once again. At least 20 more people are now dead in today's fighting. The city torn apart by some of the worst violence in that country's history.

We're going to turn now to CNN's Nick Paton Walsh. He was down in Independent Square in the middle of the latest clashes. So, Nick, what did you experience and what's happening there right now?

NICK PATON WALSH, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Now, John, there is a temporary calm. I should say, every once in a while, it's shattered by gunfire that goes down to the left. About half an hour ago, I saw a couple of bodies being taken down there. This has been the main street where the clashes have happened. Let me wind back to this morning. Those of us in this hotel where I am broadcasting out of, many journalists woken by the sound of what seemed like gunfire nearby.

According to some of the protesters I spoke to, and their stories aren't unanimous, they're sort of scathing and differing, they said that at one point in the morning, the police withdrew back. They pulled back from their original positions. One protester saying it's because a police sniper fired at protesters, protesters fired back at them. Another suggesting a stun grenade went off, injured protesters causing them to move forward -- simply a tactic police used to create confusion.

Then, it seems protesters moved down towards the positions police had previously occupied, and then some sort of exchange of gunfire happened. We know the protesters, as many as 20, have been killed, according to opposition activists here. We've seen 11 what looked like dead bodies in the lobby of the hotel where I'm standing. It's been turned into a temporary medical center here.

What has since happened then is the protesters seeing a vacuum of police presence here and just the occasional bit of gunfire, and we've seen AK-47 rounds on news, the shells of them and actually some of the bullet heads have gone into the hotel where we are as well and many shotgun casings inside the areas where the protesters would have fired from. So, there clearly has been a lot of small arms used here this morning.

We're now, of course, seeing police being moved back and protesters taking up new positions further down the road from where they previously were, roughly recreating the lines of 48 hours ago police broke through.

The fear now, John, is because we're seeing this sort of stand-back approach from the police, although, we are still hearing occasional gunfire, which we can only presume is coming from their direction, it seems to be coming from their direction, what exactly is the next move by Ukrainian security forces?

Yesterday, they called terrorists -- they called these people terrorists and an anti-terror operation was needed against them. The president, Yanukovych, said that there were sort of radicals in the ranks of these protesters here. Now, even though nine hours ago, talk of a truce was being passed around between the opposition and the president, that's evaporated, and we're now seeing possibly the worst violence yet in terms of the use of live gunfire here on the streets of Ukraine.

John, this is the very center of Kiev. This is Times Square in Ukrainian terms. It's now, frankly, a war zone in many ways. The floor torn up to be used as missiles by protesters. A lot of things burned there, rubble, constant feeling, I think now amongst protesters, they're waiting for the response from the authorities. Back to you, John.

LEMON: All right. Nick Paton Walsh, thank you very much for that, Nick.

HARLOW: All right. Now to Venezuela, also racked by violence this morning. The opposition leader remains behind bars as the death toll from intense protests has now reached five. The latest victim, a 22- year-old beauty queen who was shot in the head during demonstrations in her home state west of Caracas.

President Nicolas Maduro in a televised speech overnight calling the protesters fascist saying anyone who doesn't like Venezuela should leave. The protesters are demanding Maduro resign because of the faltering economy there and surging crime.

LEMON: This morning, if you're heading to the airport, expect closer security or scrutiny at the security checkpoint. Homeland Security is warning airlines to keep a closer watch on travelers because of terror groups that may once again be trying to hide explosives in shoes.

Intelligence officials tell CNN this is all based on information gathered overseas showing work may be under way on new methods of sneaking bombs into planes.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

PETER BERGEN, CNN NATIONAL SECURITY ANALYST: The DHS warning is non- specific, but the universe of people who have desire and capability is not large. It's al Qaeda and al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula.

PHILIP MUDD, FORMER CIA DEPUTY DIRECTOR OF COUNTERTERRORISM: I'd be as concerned about the bomb maker as I am about the bomb. You'd be surprised how difficult it is for a terror organization to find a bomb maker with the sophistication to build a shoe bomb. We're not talking about a roadside device, we're talking about something that can get past sensors at an airport.

So, I'd be trying to figure out not only how to stop the bomb but how to find whoever can make something like this.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

LEMON: The warning is apparently not tied to a known plot and comes some 13 years after Richard Reid (ph) attempted to detonate a bomb in his sneakers on a flight from Paris to Miami. That's led to new TSA rules that travelers must take off their shoes at airport security checkpoints.

HARLOW: A deal to tell you about between Iran and six world powers over future nuclear negotiations, as the latest round of talks wrap up in Vienna. Reportedly, all sides have agreed to a framework for future talks likely to resume in March.

Those negotiations are working towards some sort of long-term agreement to rein in Iran's nuclear ambitions and ensure that it does not build atomic weapons. It is expected to take at least six months before any kind of final agreement can be reached.

LEMON: Breaking overnight, a new report claims the U.S. broke its own rules in carrying out a drone strike in Yemen that left at least a dozen people dead. The group, Human Rights Watch, says the strike failed to comply with the Obama administration's protections designed to avoid civil casualties.

The people killed were part of a convoy leading a wedding. The report says shrapnel even hit the bride near her eye.

HARLOW: And this morning, there's another hang-up for a very controversial pipeline. A judge in Nebraska has rejected a law that would allow the Keystone XL Pipeline to run right through that state. Now, Nebraska's attorney general is appealing that ruling. President Obama has not yet signed off on the pipeline, which would carry some 830,000 barrels of oil from Canada to Texas every day.

LEMON: And breaking overnight, a new leak at the troubled Fukushima nuclear plant in Japan. Its operator says some 100 metric tons of radioactive water got out of a holding tank and is being absorbed into the ground. The company does not believe the water got into the Pacific Ocean. No water is now flowing into that tank.

HARLOW: And now, to the U.S. economy and whether or not it is improving in a meaningful way. Our Christine Romans got a chance for a rare interview with the U.S. treasury secretary, Jack Lew to ask him that very question. I know you also asked him about minimum wage, income inequality. What did he have to say?

CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN CHIEF BUSINESS CORRESPONDENT: Well, you know, it's so interesting, Poppy, because basically, they've gotten more work done in Washington the past four months than they have the entire two or three years prior to that, and Jack Lew, the treasury secretary, remarking that, you know, there seems to be -- he doesn't want to overstate it, but there seems to be this thawing, if you will, in Washington, that's allowing them to get some of the president's priorities done. Listen to what he thinks that's going to portend for the future.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JACK LEW, TREASURY SECRETARY: You look over the last year, we've gotten a lot done. We've made real progress implementing financial regulatory reform. We've seen a little bit of regularity return to Washington where, you know, we had a budget agreement at the end of the year, an appropriation bill in January. The debt limit was approved.

There was an agreement after years on a farm bill. And maybe, just maybe, we'll be able to for a couple of years continue doing business that way and keep doing the business of the American people.

ROMANS: More action in four months than we saw in two or three years.

LEW: Yes. And you know, you look at the economic growth over the last six months, a decided arc of progress.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ROMANS: A decided arc of progress, you know? And he notes that we have a lot of work to do. We talked about income inequality. We talked about how we have to grow these big, good, middle-class jobs, and that's still a trouble. He goes back again and again, you guys, to training, education, early childhood education, a very big picture of this administration still at this point. Raising the minimum wage still a priority. Will they be able to get that? Not clear. Immigration reform still a big priority.

He's actually more confident on that right now than he's been in some time. Meanwhile, look at the markets, guys, this morning. You know, around the world, looks like a sell-off. We'll see if that filters into the U.S. Futures are down right now. We'll be watching also WhatsApp, WhatsApp and Facebook. That's a big deal.

$19 billion, you guys, $19 billion is what Facebook is going to pay for this company that's only five years old. The numbers are just stunning on this. Facebook shares are down in premarket trading, you guys, but I'm really not surprised because it is a very big deal. And also, that stock hit a record high yesterday. It's up like almost 30 percent since the beginning of the year's last earnings report.

HARLOW: Don still wants to know if he can get WhatsApp on his iPhone, right?

(LAUGHTER)

HARLOW: So, we'll see what happens. I was floored with that deal. It's going to be really fascinating to watch. Christine, appreciate it. Great interview. Thanks so much.

All right. Well, this morning temperatures are rising, spring is in the air, but with that comes a new warning. Our Indra Petersons is tracking it for us. We'll have that right after the break.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

HARLOW: All right. A lot going on with the weather today really across the country. Flooding fears in much of the country and the potential for some pretty dangerous storms. Our Indra Petersons is watching the weather this morning. Where are the biggest concerns?

INDRA PETERSONS, AMS METEOROLOGIST: I mean, it's hard to believe. We're still talking about blizzard once you talk about (ph) around the lakes and the upper Midwest. Heavy amounts of snow with blizzard warnings. I mean, notice the arrowhead of Minnesota looking for possibly over a foot of snow today. Same thing for upper portions of Wisconsin. That's just one piece of the story here, because look at the line of storms already making its way.

You see a lot of activity, even lot of lighting in Chicago. Tough day for you. You're going to be looking for some very strong winds really picking up as a line of storms makes its way through overnight tonight and intensifies. What am I talking about? We know we have these blizzard conditions, all this cold air up here, and we know the temperatures have been really warm into the southeast.

So, you have a huge contrast here as the system makes its way across. About 38 million of you today looking for the threat for severe weather. That's from Louisville all the way down through New Orleans. Strong thunderstorms, most likely we're talking about very strong straight-line winds, but also isolated tornadoes cannot be ruled out.

Keep in mind, by tomorrow, that same line of storms will make its way farther to the east, mid-Atlantic really down through Florida. Another 28 million of you will have that threat for severe weather. So, really a lot going on, and also the flooding concerns with just the warmer temperatures as well. So, busy, busy. LEMON: I like the way you say New Orleans.

PETERSONS: Did I say it funny?

(LAUGHTER)

LEMON: No. It's great. It's great. We like that.

HARLOW: Authentic.

PETERSONS: Thank you.

HARLOW: Authentic.

(LAUGHTER)

LEMON: Thanks, Indra.

HARLOW: Indra, thank you.

All right. Let's take a look at what's coming up on "NEW DAY." Kate Bolduan joins us now. Good morning, Kate.

LEMON: Good morning.

KATE BOLDUAN, CNN ANCHOR, "NEW DAY": Good morning, guys. Of course, we're going to continue covering the breaking news out of Ukraine. Violent clashes have broken out in just the last few hours between protesters and police, despite the fact that they said a truce was in place. That's clearly crumbling now.

We're going to break down what it's all really about and how a struggle between the U.S. and Russia plays a part in it. We're going to talk with our own Fareed Zakaria about the conflict and get his take.

And then, we're going to talk live with the parents of Jordan Davis. How did they react when they heard that the man who shot and killed their son was not convicted of murder, but rather, attempted murder? What are their thoughts on a retrial, the potential of that, and also, Florida's self-defense laws?

Plus, on the very same topic, we're going to hear from Florida state attorney, Angela Corey, about the case. Chris talks to her and we're going to get her take on what happened and what happens now.

LEMON: Can't wait to see that. Thank you very much, Kate.

BOLDUAN: Thanks, guys. See you in a bit.

LEMON: Coming up, two of the world's most famous punk rock activists attacked near the winter Olympics. This morning, they're speaking out about just what they went through. We're in Sochi with the very latest for you.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK) HARLOW: In Russia this morning, two punk rock activists are recovering after a brutal beating in Sochi. The women attacked by militia members armed with horse whips while trying to film a music video. Our Ivan Watson is live in Sochi with details. Ivan, what happened?

IVAN WATSON, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, this new music video has just hit YouTube. It's by this dissident Russian punk band, Pussy Riot, and it basically slams the Sochi Olympics and the Russian government's $50 billion price tag to pay for this. It also slams the Russian arrest and detention of critics of the Russian government, and the song is titled "Putin Will Teach You How To Love Your Country."

And it's quite ingenious because it incorporates video of the arrest of the Pussy Riot band members here in Sochi on multiple occasions over the past several days and how they were beaten by Russian Cossacks in downtown Sochi yesterday. Now, I caught up with the band when they gave a makeshift press conference in a park here in Sochi after they were denied permission to do the press conference in a local hotel.

It was a bit of a bizarre scene, because a number of pro-Olympic students showed up, carrying around raw chickens and wearing a chicken costume and yelling, "we like to have sex with chickens." Pretty bizarre there. There were also a lot of plain-clothes Russian security officers on the scene filming the young women as well.

They're trying to raise the alarm and saying, alleging that the moment the international attention lifts, when all the foreign media leaves Sochi at the end of the Olympics, they're afraid that the Russian government will come down hard on them and on other critics of the Russian government -- Poppy.

HARLOW: Wow. No doubt a lot of people are going to be going to YouTube and watching that exact video. Ivan, appreciate it this morning for us. Thank you.

LEMON: The Miami Dolphins today are without a key coach and trainer. The team firing its offensive line coach, Jim Turner, and head trainer, Kevin o'Neill, in the fallout from the bullying incident that led offensive lineman, Jonathan Martin, to leave the team. Both men were mentioned in an NFL investigation into bullying. In a statement, the Dolphins' owner said both men exhibited poor judgment.

HARLOW: A community shaken this morning, a little girl kidnapped and killed. A children's football coach accused in that crime. What witnesses say they saw? That's straight ahead.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

HARLOW: Breaking overnight from Mississippi where dozens of people were hurt, including 11 teenagers when a church floor collapsed. It happened at a Baptist church north of Hattiesburg. As many as 79 people, including kids in grades 7 through 12 were inside when the floor suddenly gave way. Thankfully, all of the injuries are described as minor. Meantime, a middle school football coach in Missouri is now facing murder charges in the abduction and death of a 10-year-old little girl. Hailey Owens (ph) was snatched off the street just blocks from her home. Craig Michael Wood (ph) has been charged in her death. Police say they found a body they believe to be Hailey's in garbage bags in Wood's basement. Witnesses saw the abduction as it happened and helped police track down the suspect.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: My neighbor's yelling at this man and her to get away from -- he was yelling at her saying "get away from the car, don't go over there," you know, and telling him, "don't touch her, don't touch her." And, I guess, the man grabbed her and pulled her in the truck and sped off really fast.

DAN PATTERSON, GREENE COUNTY PROSECUTOR: Tragically, we're not able to say it's Hailey's. As a father of an eight-year-old and 11-year- old daughters, these are very hard facts to talk about. I'm just glad that he is captured and we'll be able to bring him to justice.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

HARLOW: Police say there is no evidence that Wood knew the girl. Wood worked in her school district but in a different school, and any motive remains unclear.

Meantime, another delay in the trial of James Holmes. Holmes is accused of opening fire at an Aurora, Colorado movie theater back in 2012 and killing 12 people while wounding dozens of others. A judge has ordered a new psychiatric exam for Holmes, calling the first one, quote, "incomplete and inadequate." Holmes has previously pled not guilty by reason of insanity.

And a delay as well in the trial of a former al Qaeda spokesman. A judge pushing back the proceedings against Sulaiman Abu Ghaith by one week to allow defense attorneys to collect testimony from self- declared 9/11 mastermind, Khalid Shaikh Mohammed. The trial will now begin on March 3rd. Abu Ghaith is a son-in-law of Osama Bin Laden and has pled not guilty of conspiring to kill Americans.

New Jersey's governor, Chris Christie, is set to meet the public today, holding his first town hall meeting since revelations that some in his administration may have orchestrated the shutdown of lanes leading to the very busy George Washington Bridge. This meeting is supposed to focus on hurricane Sandy relief, but it is, of course, very likely that Christie will be asked about this scandal and the investigation into some of his top aides.

And breaking overnight, a major security breach at the University of Maryland. School officials there say hackers have gotten access to digital records of more than 300,000 faculty, staff and students, all dating back to 1998. No word yet on how the breach occurred, but the university says financial data was not compromised.

That will do it for us here on EARLY START. Thanks for starting your morning with us. "NEW DAY" starts right now.