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Ukraine's Call for New Government; Russia Leads in Medal Count; Arizona Refusal to Serve Gays; Minimum Wage Hike

Aired February 22, 2014 - 09:00   ET


CHRISTIE PAUL, CNN ANCHOR: Rise and shine. It is Saturday. Hope you have the day off and it is yours for the taking. I'm Christi Paul.

VICTOR BLACKWELL, CNN ANCHOR: Enjoy whatever you will. I'm Victor Blackwell. 6:00 out on the West Coast. This is "New Day Saturday." First up this morning, we're going to take you straight to Ukraine's capital of Kiev.

PAUL: These are live pictures you're looking at here of the city's Independent Square. Anti-government protesters are still there this morning as you can see. But Ukraine's president is not. Apparently he left the city.

BLACKWELL: And now opposition lawmakers are calling for him to resign immediately. Let's bring in CNN's Phil Black in Kiev. Phil, so just a few days ago there was gunfire and fighting and we saw the fireworks and the fires there at Independent Square. What is the situation like now?

PHIL BLACK, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, we have seen some emotional scenes here today, Victor, as the bodies of some of those fallen protesters have been brought before the crowd to the stage in front of the square where there has been a prayer service where essentially this crowd farewelled these protesters who were shot down by Ukrainian security forces during the week.

And they bid farewell as heroes, shouts of glory and heroes never die. As I said, a great deal of emotion. Because the mood down in the square it is one of determination. It is still one of defiance and also great distrust. Because although a deal has been struck, these people say they are staying there until they are sure the Ukrainian government keeps its word and puts this deal into place.

PAUL: All right. Speaking of President Yanukovych. Is there any word this hour as to where he might be?

BLACK: Well, the word from the protesters as well as an official at the U.S. State Department is that he is headed for the city of Harkiev which is in the east of the country, close to the Russian border. This is his heartland. It is where his supporters are. It is in that Russian leaning east of the country that President Yanukovych has relied upon for support.

But we have not confirmed that. There has been no sight of him. People in Harkiev that we've been talking to have not seen him. But it seems that he has certainly left the capital, Kiev. A sign it may not be just a temporary departure. Because his residence in the outskirts of the city appear to be abandoned. They are now in control of protest groups. There are some people manning the gates. Those people are saying they want to keep those gates closed, keep people outside of the buildings. Because they say the residence now belongs to the Ukrainian people and they believe inside lots of evidence about what they think has been his corrupt rule of this country over the last few years.

BLACKWELL: Let's talk about this deal that was brokered. I understand that in many ways, cuts the powers of the president. Explain that for us.

BLACK: Sure. The protesters wanted three key things. One of them was the formation of an interim government. Sort of a national unity government with all parties involved just to get the country stabilized and move it on to presidential elections further down the track. But a key reform was changing the constitution to the way it used to look back in 2004 with the president did not have so much executive power, but was held in check by the parliament.

And so that is the change that he has agreed to. It is now considered a bit more balance. The president has fewer powers than he used to and the parliament and so the prime minister and his government will have more. The opposition got all of these demands. What they want is for these things to happen really quickly. That is why these people are still in the square. That is what opposition politicians in the country's parliament are still fighting for today.

BLACKWELL: All right. We will see if anything changes as part of this deal and where the president is.

Phil Black, thank you so much.

So, we should have a button or something that I can press when I say spoiler alert. I want to thank you. One more time. Spoiler alert. Another gold medal has been handed out this morning in Sochi. This one hurts for the U.S. in more ways than one. It really does.

PAUL: Yes, Andy Scholes, Bleacher Report. Sometimes he brings us great news. Sometimes not so much. Give it to us straight.

ANDY SCHOLES, CNN SPORTS: I'll say it again, I wish I had the button, too, like the red light. The men's snowboard parallel giant slalom. Run away from the TV for a little bit but then come back in 30 seconds to catch the rest of it.

All right. Vic Wild. The American snowboarder turned Russian has won gold again. He is the first man ever to win two snowboarding gold medals in a single winter games. As we said, this one really hurts for the U.S. because Wild he's from Washington. He originally competed for the U.S.A., but after becoming frustrated with the lack of U.S. funding for the support, Wild was granted Russian citizenship after marrying a Russian snowboarder.

And now because of Wild, Russia owns two gold medals that should have been around the neck of an American. Now, his recent gold has moved Russia into a tie with the U.S.A. on top of the medal count. Take a look at how it looks right now. Both countries have 27 right now. Russia though has more gold. Norway they own the most gold, they have 11 as we speak.

Now Team USA has a chance to grab another medal today in the men's hockey bronze medal game. But guys, it's not a medal that we're really going to be happy about. Yesterday, the U.S. lost 1-0 to Canada in the semifinals, very disappointing loss. This is the second straight Olympics that Canada has ended the USA's gold medal dreams. Now, the fallout from yesterday's loss for the U.S. is massive. A billboard in Illinois made a friendly wager for the two countries saying the loser of the game had to keep Justin Bieber.


SCHOLES: Guys, this billboard has since been updated. It now reads, worst bet ever with a picture of a bald eagle rocking a gold chain with the word Belieber. This is definitely not what the founding fathers had in mind.

PAUL: Nice to see everybody can be so clever about it.

BLACKWELL: I love it.

PAUL: Very clever.

BLACKWELL: I'm sure that is all over twitter.

SCHOLES: Victor, you are a belieber. You're probably happy.

BLACKWELL: Am I a Belieber. No, J.B. and I, we go back but we go back.

SCHOLES: He is in hot-lanta now. You can hang out with him.

BLACKWELL: No. We're not that tight.

PAUL: Andy Scholes, thank you.

BLACKWELL: Thank you, Andy.

PAUL: You know, we are only one week from March.

BLACKWELL: I'm ready.

PAUL: Signs of spring are everywhere. You know, so much for Ohio. They are saying it is awful, but look at Rocky River. Ice is starting to break up along the river. The thaw scared some homeowners though with that ice kind of cut over the river bank there.

BLACKWELL: Yes but it did not feel much like spring in Michigan. Wonder why. The U.S. 127 was shutdown when as many as 40 cars were involved in accidents. And of course, police blamed the icy roads and blinding snow there. And how is this for wind. Look at this sign. In Illinois, a gust blew over the sign and crushed a car parked below it. Imagine coming out of the business and finding your car under a sign. The good news is nobody was hurt.

PAUL: And hopefully they had insurance.

So wedding bells rang a little early in Chicago after a judge ruled that same-sex couples in Cook County and only Cook County don't have to wait until June to marry. That is when the state of Illinois is going to allow marriages between same-sex partners. Now couples rushed to the court house yesterday to get their marriage licenses. The clerk's office in Chicago even stayed open two hours late just to make sure everybody got what they needed.

BLACKWELL: Coming up, hot debate over a law passed in Arizona that allows businesses to refuse service to gays and lesbians. We are talking religious freedom versus gay rights.

PAUL: And all this talk about closing the wage gap, right? Now the Gap store is getting involved in this. Stay close.


BLACKWELL: Very soon in Arizona, it could be legal for businesses to refuse service to gays on the basis of freedom of religion. The bill already passed the house and the senate and it now goes to Governor Jan Brewer to sign. She has not said what she will do.

But similar legislation was brought up last week in Kansas. That bill was now dead in the Senate. But the list goes on. It has come up in six more states. Ohio, Mississippi, Idaho, South Dakota, Tennessee, Oklahoma. We have seen a wave of cases that had pitted religious conservatives against same-sex supporters.

And one of them in Colorado, where two years ago, a couple wanted to buy a wedding cake, but they were refused service when the bakery's owner found out that they were gay. Now the owner's attorney, Nicole Martin, she joins us. She's on the phone with us. We have in front of the camera, Robert Boston, director of communications at Americans United for Separation of Church and State. It is good to have both of you.



BLACKWELL: Hey, Nicole, let's start with you. The judge sided with the couple in this. Tell us where does this case stand now and take a few seconds to explain your legal argument.

MARTIN: Well, what is important for your viewers to understand is that my client Jack Phillips serves everyone in the community. He always has. He just does not serve all events or communicate all messages. Everyone can agree, Victor, that a wedding cake is quantitatively different than a box of brownies. It's special. It is an iconic symbol of marriage and that it says something.

And so because it says something, it is protected under the first amendment. Our very first freedom. The cornerstone of everything that America holds dear. It really isn't America any more if the government can force you under the threat of jail and fines to speak a message that is deeply at odds with your conscience.

BLACKWELL: All right. Robert, what is wrong with that? I mean, this country was founded on religious freedoms. What is wrong with what she just said?

BOSTON: Well, I really think that this is an attempt to take the shabby doctrine of discrimination and bigotry and dress it up in the noble garment of religious freedom. We have public accommodation laws in this country. And in the state of Colorado, gays and lesbians are protected by those laws.

Well I think some religious conservatives are after here really is a new attempt at Jim Crowe. Back in the days when certain couldn't eat in restaurants or stay in hotels, get served by businesses. We moved way beyond that. I think it is kind of sad that we have these situations now where people are saying, I'm not going to serve you at my business because I don't like your lifestyle. It hasn't worked in court so far and I don't think it's going to be ultimately successful.

BLACKWELL: What about that as you heard from Robert that there are many people who see this, Nicole, as a way to just discriminate. I mean what stops your client or any baker or personal who owns a bridal shop or hair salon to put a sign in front of their window if the Arizona law is passed and signed into law, that just says, no service in celebration of same-sex unions.

MARTIN: The law shouldn't be stopping people from posting free speech in their businesses that's protected under the first amendment. Frankly, I find -

BLACKWELL: So you believe they should have the right to be able to put up the sign that says no service to any celebration of same-sex union?

MARTIN: If it is based on their deeply-held religious beliefs, if it's based in the first amendment. Absolutely. And that's what happened in my case.

BOSTON: What's next a sign up saying we don't serve Muslims or atheists? That is fundamentally at odds with America and the values that we believe in.


MARTIN: I find the comparison to Jim Crowe laws, I find it obscene. These bills expand freedom for everybody.

BOSTON: They expand freedom (INAUDIBLE).

BLACKWELL: Hold on. Let her finish, Robert. Go ahead, Nicole. MARTIN: Every one is still free to live their lives as they choose. These bills protect that right. Let me tell you why - let me give you a glimpse into why you are seeing a (INAUDIBLE) of these bills. Because the Supreme Court out of New Mexico decided that there was a price for your first amendment rights. Because the judge in my case decided that the speech and the rainbow colored cake of the plaintiff was more valuable than Mr. Phillips' first amendment right.

Now today, our Colorado legislature is poised to take away the religious exemption of mosques, temples, churches, pastors - take that religious exemption away under our public accommodation statue in Senate Bill 118. That is why you are seeing these bills. Because there is a great fear.

BLACKWELL: Nicole, I've got to ask you a question. I know we are running on time. But I got to get this question in, your legal strategy from what I understand, your client is Christian. He believes in the bible. He considers, I believe it was Leviticus 18:22 that says "Though shall not lie with mankind as with womankind. It's an abomination." So to serve that same-sex couple would be contrary to the word of the bible. OK.

Let me then go to another portion of the bible. Again, it is not moral. It is the legal argument. James, 2:8-11 which says "If you really fulfill the royal law according to the Scripture, you should love your neighbor as yourself you do well. But if you show partiality, you commit a sin and convicted as transgressors but whoever shall keep the whole law and yet stumble at one point, he is guilty of all. So again, not moral, but legally. If your basis of our argument is that your client believes in the words of that bible, is there not a huge legal vulnerability, maybe even a strong legal counterpoint that that Bible which he holds as the reason he should not serve them, not only says that god impartial, and also that he is compelled to serve him, and to do otherwise would be a sin. Isn't that case a bit vulnerable?

MARTIN: I don't think so. First of all, Victor, I'm not a theologian. But what I do know is that Jesus loves all, no matter who they are. No matter what they do. But I'm pretty sure that the savior of all mankind didn't come down and die on the cross for our salvation so that we could participate in the sin of others.

You know, we have the government has compelling interest in making sure nobody goes to that wedding reception or that wedding celebration and throws stones. But the government does not have a compelling interest to make sure that we participate in that wedding or that celebration.

BLACKWELL: Let me get Robert in very quickly because I have gone well over time. But Robert, let me ask you this. Which protections would you be OK with? Are there any protections that you would support?

BOSTON: Well, houses of worship have the right to decide who they admit as members, who they'll give the sacraments to. That is secure under the first amendment of the constitution. But when you open a business, you must meet the public accommodation laws which means you must serve the public. If you are not willing to serve the public, simple answer, don't open a business.

BLACKWELL: All right. Nicole Martin, Robert Boston. Thank you so much for the conversation. We will take a break. We'll be right back.

MARTIN: Thank you.


PAUL: So here's the question. Would raising the minimum wage to $10 an hour help or hurt? This week, a new report helped answer that question.

BLACKWELL: Yes, the answer is it might do both. But President Obama does not seem to be relying on Congress to raise wages. He is calling on businesses to do it. Here is Alexandra Field.


BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: This is not just good policy. It also happens to be good politics.

ALEXANDRA FIELD, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): President Obama pushing a top initiative raising the federal minimum wage from $7.25 to $10.10 and now he praise on Gap, Inc., a company he hopes to be a trendsetter.

Gap, the parent company of Banana Republic, Old Navy and Athleta stores announced this week, it will raise the minimum wage for 65,000 employees to $9 by June of this year and $10 a year later.

LUIS VASQUEZ, MCDONALD'S EMPLOYEE: They still are not paying me enough to be able to survive.

FIELD: Luis Vasquez makes $8 an hour at a McDonald's in New York City. The fast food workers and the unions that support them have publicly lobbied for a much bigger pay hike, $15.

VASQUEZ: $15 an hour would allow me to move in to my own place and be able to pay my own bills.

FIELD: But in New Jersey, Delores Riley says if her payroll costs go any higher, she could be forced to shutdown her day care business.

DELORES RILEY, DAYCARE OWNER: I don't know if I can make it. I really don't think I could afford it.

FIELD: When New Jersey raised its minimum wage to $8.25 an hour in January, Riley said out of fairness, she felt she had to increase every employees salary, not just the lowest earners. Riley estimates she will pay an additional $10,000 to $15,000 in payroll this year.

RILEY: Which is a lot of money. I mean, I'm not a rich company. I'm certainly not the Gap.

FIELD: The president is calling for more companies to follow the Gap's lead along with action from Congress.

OBAMA: I'm going to be seeking Republicans who are able to work with us.

FIELD: This week, the Congressional Budget Office released its minimum wage report. One that adds fuel to both sides of the national debate.

PAUL STEINHAUSER, CNN POLITICAL REPORTER: To Republicans, the CBO report well it kind of hammers home their point that if you raise the minimum wage, you kill a lot of jobs. Democrats in the White House - they reject that argument and point to a different part of the report that says nearly a million people will be raised out of poverty.


FIELD: And while that debate moves forward in Washington. It is worth pointing out that 21 states have a minimum wage above the federal level of $7.25. Victor and Christi.

PAUL: All righty. Thanks, Alexandra.

BLACKWELL: We'll be right back.


PAUL: Time now for this week's CNN hero.

BLACKWELL: He is getting some help from Hollywood actor Gerard Butler. Take a look.


GERARD BUTLER, ACTOR: Please join me in honoring CNN hero and I'm broad that he is a fellow Scotsman, Magnus McFarlane Barrow.

I was actually a little bit star struck when I met Magnus. You are amazing.

MAGNUS MCFARLANE BARROW: Since then we become good friends. Now here I am in Liberia.

BUTLER: It should be me and Magnus. Nobody else.

BARROW: There's just a huge need here. There are so many children out of school and huge problems with malnutrition. We are providing daily meals so the children come to school.

It's a great partnership going on here. The parents, the elders, the volunteers.

When CNN heroes happened, we were feeding just over 400,000 children. Now we are well over 800,000 children every day. That's in the world.

Three plus four.


BUTLER: A lot of them didn't eat at all in a day before they came to school. Now they are motivated to come to school. They can focus. You know, education suddenly becomes a possibility.

Who would have thought when I gave Magnus the CNN hero award that I would be surrounded by the most amazing kids. It just shows you what one person can do when they show a bit of love.


PAUL: Purposeful work there. Every week, we are going to be honoring a new CNN hero. An every day person doing extraordinary things to help other people.

BLACK: Now if you know someone who deserves this recognition, go to now and tell us about them.

PAUL: We are so glad you spent time with us this morning. We are going to be back here at the top of the hour.

BLACKWELL: Yes, 10:00 Eastern.

Coming up right now, Christine Romans' exclusive interview with Treasury Secretary Jack Lew. Now President Obama wants to give 60.5 million Americans a raise but can the administration get a minimum wage increase through Congress?

PAUL: "YOUR MONEY" starts right now.