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Gunmen Seize Ukraine Parliament Building; Arizona Governor Vetoes Anti-Gay Bill; Winter Misery Affects Millions; Helping The Next Generation; Religious Beliefs Vs. Gay Rights

Aired February 27, 2014 - 08:00   ET



CHRIS CUOMO, CNN ANCHOR: Breaking news: violence in Ukraine as armed supporters of Russia seize a parliament building there. Now, Vladimir Putin launching military exercises nearby as the U.S. warns him: stay out.

KATE BOLDUAN, CNN ANCHOR: It shall not pass. Arizona's governor vetoing that controversial religious rights bill. One side rejoices, the other digging in for the next fight. This is bigger than one law, and we will get into the debate. We're live with the latest.

MICHAELA PEREIRA, CNN ANCHOR: Winter misery. Painful new lows hitting two-thirds of the country. Ice jams now clogging major waterways. Residents fearing what happens when it all thaws. This as the West Coast braces for rain.

CUOMO: Your NEW DAY continues right now.

ANNOUNCER: This is NEW DAY with Chris Cuomo, Kate Bolduan and Michaela Pereira.

BOLDUAN: Good morning and welcome once again to NEW DAY. It's Thursday, February 27th, 8:00 in the East.

We have more turmoil breaking out in Ukraine this morning after armed men stormed and took over a parliament building in the country's southern region and raised the Russian flag there. It came a day after Russia began surprise military exercises along the border it shares with Ukraine, much to the dismay of interim leaders.

CNN's Phil Black has the very latest for us from Kiev.

PHIL BLACK, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Kate, a large number of pro-Russian government stormed this local parliament building in a region known as the Crimea before dawn and it's said to be heavily armed in control and they are not negotiating.


BLACK (voice-over): This morning, around 50 pro-Russian gunmen seized the parliament building in Crimea raising the Russian flag. This just a day after tensions boiled over in the Ukraine's Black Sea border with Russia. Pro-Ukrainian and pro-Russian protesters facing up. At least seven people injured in the demonstrations despite police presence. Some fear this domestic unrest could possibly signal the beginning of international war games.

The violence is erupting on the southern tip of Ukraine here in the Crimea, just a few hundred miles from Russia. The dispute, many in the Western Ukraine want the area to have closer ties with Europe. While in the east, an area that belong to Russia until the 1950s some now want to rejoin the Soviet Union roots.

Pro-Russian militias are stationing troops and even an armored vehicle near the border as Russia launches surprise military exercises. Up to half a dozen warships are now at the ready in the Black Sea, a defensive more according to U.S. military officials.

But the U.S. is sounding the alarm against outside players. In an interview on MSNBC's "Mitchell Reports," Secretary of State John Kerry warned Putin that this should not be a continuation of Cold War games.

JOHN KERRY, SECRETARY OF STATE: We do not believe this should be an east, west, Russia, United States, this is not "Rocky Four," believe me.

BLACK: Meanwhile, in the capital of Kiev, pro-western protesters cut down the fence surrounding that parliament building, demanding they be close to the people -- a strong show of force in pursuit of a new Ukraine.


BLACK: Russia is now reporting the former Ukrainian Viktor Yanukovych who has been a fugitive here in this country, has requested personal protection from Russia and that has been granted somewhere on the territory of the Russian Federation. That could mean he's in Russia somewhere or perhaps within a naval facility, a Russian naval facility of the Ukrainian Black Sea coast.

Chris, back to you.

COUMO: Phil Black, thank you.

The firestorm created by Arizona's so-called "Religious Rights" bill is over -- but not really. Governor Jan Brewer did veto a measure that would have allowed business owners to refuse to serve gays and others if they felt doing business with them violated their religious beliefs. Brewer says she vetoed in part because of the potential for negative and unintended consequences.

Ana Cabrera is live in Phoenix.

I say not really, Ana, because they can still push a new law in Arizona and other states are looking at the situation as well, right?

ANA CABRERA, CNN ANCHOR: There's a lot of passionate conversation about this, not just here in Arizona but across the country. We know that Governor Brewer received more than 40,000 e-mails and phone calls in the past couple of days over this bill that many say would have swung the door wide open to discrimination. And so, it did cause a lot of hurt and divisiveness again here in this state and across the nation as other states are considering similar laws which we'll talk about in a minute.

But here in Arizona, in the end, the governor says she did what she had to do.


GOVERNOR JAN BREWER (R), ARIZONA: After weighing all of the arguments, I have vetoed Senate bill 1062 moments ago.

CABRERA (voice-over): It was the news so many had hoped to hear.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I am absolutely thrilled.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Happiness. It's about time. I knew she was going to do it.

CABRERA: Arizona's governor, Jan Brewer, vetoing a bill that would have allowed businesses to deny service to gays and lesbians based on the owner's religious beliefs.

BREWER: I call them like I see them, despite the cheers or the boos from the crowd.

CABRERA: The governor says the bill was broadly worded with the potential to create more problems than it could solve.

BREWER: I have not heard of one example in Arizona where business owner's religious liberty had been violated.

MICHAEL MCFALL, PROTESTED BILL 1062: I'm a business owner. And If she had signed it, I was going to move my business to California.

CABRERA: The reaction to her veto as passionate as the days of protesting that catapulted this bill and the state into the national spotlight.

The decision came as opposition reached the fever pitch. With some of the nation's most prominent lawmakers and business leaders joining the fight. The NFL was watching closely and the Arizona Super Bowl host committee for 2015 expressed concerns.

DARLENE MARTINEZ, PROTESTED BILL 1062: She didn't want to be known as the governor who lost the Super Bowl.

CABRERA: But not everyone was happy with the decision.

RUSSELL PEARCE (R), STATE SENATOR: I will not retreat because of some radical leftist activists don't like how we do things in Arizona.

CABRERA: The governor answering her critics with a call for unity. BREWER: Going forward, let's turn the ugliness at the debate over Senate bill 1062 into a renewed search for greater respect and understanding among all Arizonans and Americans.


CABRERA: So let's talk about the bigger picture now. We know of at least a handful of other states that are considering similar legislation, although this is the only place that's has actually gotten this far. But, right now, in Georgia, there's a measure working its way through the state house there that would allow private companies to actually ignore state laws on the basis of religious beliefs.

Again, supporters there saying this is to protect religious freedoms but critics again saying that measure is aimed largely at denying service to gays and lesbians -- Kate.

BOLDUAN: Ana, perfect example why this isn't just about Arizona. It's about much more than that, and it's happening at other states as well.

Thank you very much.

The cold is relentless and it's here yet again. The Midwest and eastern U.S. are dealing with another jolt of winter. But further west, the big story is the big threat of flooding.

Indra Petersons is watching it all for us -- Indra.

INDRA PETERSONS, AMS METEOROLOGIST: This is one of those years. Everyone keeps saying this is the worst weather we've ever felt. Well, we now actually have a weather misery index.

You'd be right especially if you are in Detroit, if you account for the snow and cold temperatures. This is the worst since we've been keeping records. And they're not the only ones. You have Chicago, Indianapolis, Philly, New York, and Minneapolis all coming in at the top five worst winters record-keeping, and here we go again with more cold air and even another snowstorm on the way.


PETERSONS (voice-over): For much of the country, February is ending on a low note as another arctic blast brings subzero temperatures to the Midwest and sinks temperatures below the freezing mark as far south as Florida.

Just look at this ice jam on Illinois Kankakee River. Miles of thick broken ice have stopped the river from flowing. Residents fearing what will happen when all of this ice melts.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: That's when the water is going to come up like a backed up toilet. The ice is going to come up and it's going to take out everything in its path. PETERSONS: The seemingly never ending bouts of the bitter cold and life threatening windchills have been among the worst on record. A new index tracking weather extremes confirms it. It's dubbed the misery index and for good reason.

The National Weather Service says Detroit is the hardest hit this season with more than 78 inches of snow and 13 days of lows below zero.

New York, Philadelphia and Chicago also rank high on the misery list for record snow fall and freezing temps.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: This really has been one of the worst winters in a lot of people's lifetimes. We haven't seen winters like this since the '70s in a lot of places.

PETERSONS: On the west coast, a very different picture. Over the next two days, torrential rain will finally make a dent in California's severe drought, the state's worst in 100 years. But the downpours could create more problems than relief. Flash floods and mud slides are a big concern with as much as six inches of rain in the forecast.

All eyes on the skies as Hollywood's biggest names prepare to walk down the red carpet at the Oscars on Sunday.


PETERSONS: Well, let's check out these temperatures right now. Look at these dangerous windchills. We're talking about feeling like 43 below zero right now out towards Duluth. Even just teen out towards New York City with the wind chill, even as the South feeling like they are below freezing.

And, unfortunately, tomorrow, it gets worse as this cold air spreads farther to the east. You'll see temperatures feeling like below zero tomorrow into the Northeast, even these afternoon highs, very far below the average for this time of the year. Chicago, your afternoon high in the single digits. That's 30 below where you should be.

By tomorrow, see the cold air spread to the Northeast. You'll be 20 below where you should be, 20 as your highs into the Northeast. And that's not even the end of the story, because once again, we're watching another system guys, this late in the season, expect to go through the Ohio Valley Sunday night in through Monday, potentially hang right off the coastline which we do know means potentially more heavy snow by Monday morning.

Tough, tough winter, that misery index only going upwards.

BOLDUAN: Looks like it. Thanks, Indra.


PEREIRA: All right. Let's take a look at more headlines now. A scary flight for passengers heading from L.A. to Oakland, California. They had to be rushed off the Delta SkyWest jet after they smelled smoke in the cabin right after they landed. The captain was able to bring that jet to the gate. Passengers were able to walk down the stairs and off the plane. Interestingly, though, the authorities could not figure out the source of that smoke.

Breaking this morning, the Food and Drug Administration unveiling big changes to the nutrition labels. They're going to put a bigger emphasis on the total calories and added sugars and certain beneficial nutrients, including vitamin A -- or vitamin D rather and potassium. Serving sizes will also be amended to better reflect how much someone is consuming. For instance, you're not going to see nutrition facts for 8 ounces of soda in a 16-ounce bottle.

Also regarding food, new details this morning about that chemical and some products that's also used in yoga mats. This morning, a health research group says that same chemical is in about 500 foods that you would find in a grocery store. Everything from dinner rolls to tortillas.

The chemical is known as ADA. The government says it's OK in small amounts but some consumer groups want it out of the food supply entirely.

The older the father, the greater the risk to their children. An international team of researchers studied 2.6 million Swedish children and found that older dads have kids with learning disabilities and mental health problems at a much higher rate than younger dads. The conditions include ADHD, autism and bipolar disorder.

That controversial hot sauce plant near Los Angeles will live to see another day. The city council in Irwindale put off any decision on shutting down the Huy Fong Foods plant where Sriracha is made. You recall, some of the folks who live nearby said the odors are quite a nuisance and have made them sick. The city council will resist the issue in April. In the meantime, Sriracha continues -- Chris.

CUOMO: Sriracha lovers of the world unite.

President Obama announcing an initiative to help the next generation of African-American and Hispanic leaders. It's called the My Brother's Keeper Initiative.

And CNN anchor Don Lemon is at the White House this morning tracking this story.

Hey, Don.

DON LEMON, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Hey, good morning to you.

This is something that is close to the president's heart when I spoke to his senior adviser Valerie Jarrett yesterday. And it's an interesting story that you're going to hear in just a moment.

Chris, we have all heard the negative narrative about young black men, that in many cities, 80 percent of them have criminal records and one in three black men born today can expect to spend time in prison. Well, the president says he wants to change that negative narrative brought on by negative reinforcement.

And this is a quote from him. He says he wants to make sure that every young man of color who is willing to work hard and lift himself up has an opportunity to get ahead and reach his full potential.

So, today, he is using his power of the pen to sign a presidential memorandum to help with that.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You know, talk about what's going on with us and our feelings.

LEMON (voice-over): James Adams on the left with the dreadlocks has a commute unfamiliar to most high school students anywhere.

JAMES ADAMS, "BECOMING A MAN" PROGRAM PARTICIPANT: When I was in school, I would wake up, get dressed, put on my vest, put on my coat, and go to school.

LEMON: Not a fancy vest. A what?

ADAMS: A bulletproof vest.

LEMON: It is a rough and tumble life for many young Black men like James and his friends.

ADAMS: Sometimes, I might take a different route home depending on the time of day when I know that is gang bangers outside.

LEMON: So, the street life of crime, violence, and dropping out of school become the convenient and many times only alternative, a stark contrast to this man occupying the White House.

BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I met with some young men from Hyde Park Academy who are participating in this BAM program. Where are the guys I talked to? Stand up.

LEMON: BAM stands for "Becoming a Man," a wildly successful mentoring program in the president's hometown on the south side of Chicago. Mr. Obama says he saw himself in the young men when he met with them last year.

OBAMA: What I explained to them was I had issues, too, when I was their age. I just had an environment that was a little more forgiving. So, when I screwed up, the consequences weren't as high as when kids on the south side screw up.

LEMON: Valerie Jarrett is the president's senior adviser.

VALERIE JARRETT, SENIOR ADVISOR TO PRESIDENT OBAMA: In a brief interaction, he transformed many of their lives and touched their hearts as they did him. And so, just imagine if we can do that all around the country.

LEMON: This afternoon, the BAM teens are at the White House for the announcement of the "My brother's Keeper Initiative" where Jarrett says willing foundations and businesses will donate at least $200 million over five years to programs like BAM nationwide.

(on-camera) What does becoming a man mean? What does that mean to you?

ADAMS: Basically it means like it's time to grow up, leave all childish things aside.

CHRISTIAN CHAMPAGNE, "BECOMING A MAN" PROGRAM PARTICIPANT: Becoming a man means become a man basically. You know, stop being childish. (INAUDIBLE). Persevere.

KERRON TURNER, "BECOMING A MAN" PROGRAM PARTICIPANT: Same thing what these two said. Take responsibility and deal with your things. Deal with your actions and whatever outcome is you got to accept it.

LEMON (voice-over): An outcome hopefully of change for a troubled generation.


LEMON (on-camera): For a troubled generation. Let's hope the next generation is not a troubled one after the president signs today, those business leaders, those foundation leaders will meet over the next 90 days to figure out exactly what initiatives work, what they need to do, how much more money they need and what they can do in the future to try to help those young Black men.

Again, a generation that can be lost but maybe not with this initiative. So, we'll see. Next 90 days, I'll report back -- Chris and Kate?

BOLDUAN: Don, thanks for being on top of it. You do wonder, though, there needs to be more pressure because it shouldn't be a 90 days. It should be now. That story that James told you about putting on a bulletproof vest after walk to school is not one any kid should have to live with.

CUOMO: Yes. Hearing those kids, I mean, they mean it in the right way, but when they say being a man is leaving childish things behind, that in their mind, being a kid, part of being a kid is dealing with violence every day as victim or perpetrator.

PEREIRA: And that's not just in one location. Unfortunately, that's the truth across the nation for a lot of kids. It's a reality.

BOLDUAN: At least, they're speaking up. They're very strong to tell those stories. Don, thanks for that.

We're going to take another break. Coming up next on NEW DAY, Arizona's governor has vetoed that controversial religious rights bill, but the debate is far from over. We'll talk with the president of the Catholic League about the bill and also what will religious leaders do? Will they let it go?


And Hillary Clinton making another stop in a swing state just as the polls show her at the top, the very top all alone on the Democrats' wish list for 2016. Is she revving up for a campaign? Or how does she get out of one at this point? We'll discuss.


CUOMO: Welcome back to NEW DAY.

This morning, opponents of Arizona's so-called religious freedom bill have reason to celebrate. The governor there, Jan Brewer, vetoed the measure that would have protected businesses that deny service to gays and lesbians and others on religious grounds. On the same day, a federal judge ruled that Texas same-sex marriage ban is unconstitutional.

So, do these and other victories for the rights of the LGBT community put those against them on the wrong side of history? To discuss, Bill Donohue, president of the Catholic League. Mr. Donohue, pleasure to have you here.


CUOMO: The first question is simple, why did you believe that Arizona needed this law?

DONOHUE: Because I think a lot of people of faith, whatever faith you may be, are fed up with the idea, starting with this federal government with the Obama administration, when it comes (INAUDIBLE), abortion, and same-sex marriage are basically pushing gay rights, encroaching on the rights of people of faith, whether it's denial in Illinois and Massachusetts about adoption for the Catholic Church, catholic charities.

We have an attorney general who tells the state's attorney general, don't even bother enforcing the laws when it comes to marriage. Look, gays as individuals, I'm with you on that, Chris. Let's protect them in the workplace. Let's protect them as individuals. What my concern is, and I think I speak for a lot of people of faith is the institution of marriage. That's a separate issue altogether.

CUOMO: So, when you look at Arizona bill, the law -- you're right. This is a bigger issue. It's a political issue. I'm not saying I agree with your position, but you're right about framing it. But legally matters here as well. Are you aware that in Arizona, the LGBT community is not a protected class? Are you aware of that?

DONOHUE: As a matter of fact, I don't even believe it. Quite frankly, we've had this -- religious freedom reservation act since 1997 at the federal level. Where are the examples of gays being discriminated against? If they're so discriminated against, how come they make more money than straight people on average?

CUOMO: But here's the -- there are a lot of reasons for how the community does that goes to their character and -- DONOHUE: Is somebody being denied in Applebee's getting a hamburger? Where are these examples of gay people being persecuted?

CUOMO: You need to reverse it, because this is about you asking for a law that allows business owners to not serve people who are gay because it's an infringement of their religious rights, and what I'm saying to you is, under the law in Arizona, there is no special protection of the LGBT community so a business member, if he wanted to or she wanted to could discriminate without violation. That's why the law was unnecessary. Do you get that?

DONOHUE: You know, this is an honest debate here. All I'm simply saying is this. Can you enumerate for me examples of gay people in Arizona who are having their rights violated by people of faith?

CUOMO: That's the exact right question, but, it's the reverse. It's, can you point out a business that was made substantial burden religiously because of what they had to do vis-a-vis a gay person?

DONOHUE: I think what this came about if I'm not mistaken is because of what happened in New Mexico when they did have had this amended law.

CUOMO: That's right.

DONOHUE: And the person is a photographer and says I don't want to do a wedding ceremony. If that person says, listen, the gay people come into my shop and you're a gay person, I don't want to take your picture. I have no sympathy for these people of faith. All right?

When it gets into the question of marriage ceremonies, whether it's in the secular vain (ph) like I gave an example or where we're going into the churches, that's --

CUOMO: Yes. But we're not going there.

DONOHUE: Oh, I think --

CUOMO: Nobody is saying that a religious organization has to perform gay marriages. Nobody. Nobody.

DONOHUE: If we have a federal administration, which ignores the express will of the people in DOMA and when you have the people taking an initiative in California saying we don't want gay marriage and then you get somebody -- judges overturn it, we're being besieged. The gay --

CUOMO: That's a scare tactic. This is -- you have to stick with the law.

DONOHUE: It's true.

CUOMO: Give me this first proposition. In Arizona, you don't know of any cases of businesses that were forced to do things that violated their religious beliefs with gay people, right? DONOHUE: Do you know of any examples with the gays or the ones claiming about this? Where are the examples that gays being discriminated?

CUOMO: That's not what the law did. See, that's not -- let's not be tricky because you have straight issues to debate here, but this isn't one of them. There is no case, the governor said it. The proponents couldn't up come with one and the law in Arizona does not give special protection to members of the community. You didn't need the law.

DONOHUE: Can we agree on this?


DONOHUE: We have religious rights and a collision -- with gay rights. We need to protect both. It's not an easy delicate balance. I'll grant you that. But my rights of freedom of religion are in the First Amendment to the United States constitution.

CUOMO: Yes, they are.

DONOHUE: Since when should they take a backseat? This law, this RFRA law in Arizona, you have to prove as a businessman that you were being burdened in your religious exercise. It didn't give the right of people to just go around anytime they want and say, I discriminated based on my faith.

That's why you had 11 Republicans and Democrats, Harvard law professors and others saying this has been mischaracterized in Arizona.

CUOMO: You didn't need the law because there is no special protection. I want to move off that point to the one you just made. Substantial burden to my faith.


CUOMO: How is it a substantial burden to your faith to take photos of a gay wedding if you're a catholic?

DONOHUE: Well, I think if people say, listen, I don't want to sanction polygamy or gay marriage or anything other than traditional marriage, I think, we need to respect that. And if you don't like it, you can shop around. I mean, it's not hard for gays to find somebody who's going to take a picture of them, is there? In Arizona --

CUOMO: How is it a substantial burden to your catholic faith to do that? Where in your faith does it say that doing that is very wrong?

DONOHUE: You know where this is coming from, it's coming from the fact, as I've said, between the courts, a lot of these I don't like the judges and what's going on in this administration and Washington and also some state legislatures. We feel people of faith that our rights are being whittled away in the name of gay rights having to trump on us. We need to have an honest discussion. I'd like to see -- CUOMO: How does gay marriage compromise your rights?

DONOHUE: Gay marriage, the problem with gay marriage is this. It makes a smorgasbord. It basically says that there's no profound difference socially speaking between marriage between a man and woman, the only union which can create a family. And, other examples --

CUOMO: Who says that's the purpose of marriage? If you want life- long companionship and --

DONOHUE: If a man and woman don't have sex, we can't reproduce, can we? We can't --

CUOMO: You don't have to be married to propagate.

DONOHUE: No, that's right.

CUOMO: And you don't have to want to have kids to be married.

DONOHUE: We have a lot of illegitimate kids in our society. I would hope we have less of them. Marriage is the great incubator against poverty. Look, I don't want alternative lifestyles to be exactly that. I want marriage to be given a privileged position --

CUOMO: Who says it's an alternative lifestyle? Why isn't it just a lifestyle?

DONOHUE: Well, you want to make it that way in a lot of people. Polygamy --

CUOMO: Why shouldn't they be equal? Why? What's the reason?

DONOHUE: Because it's in the best interest of society --

CUOMO: Who says?

DONOHUE: I'm a sociologist by training. Take a look at --

CUOMO: Divorce rate is over 50 percent.


CUOMO: Broken homes, social problems. All during the era of how you wanted it.

DONOHUE: No. If kids -- Kids do best in an intact family. The evidence is overwhelming. You need a father and a mother.

CUOMO: You need love and you need people to care for you, gay or straight.

DONOHUE: Once you get down the road of love as the condition of marriage, are you willing to -- how far do you want to go with that?

CUOMO: So, love shouldn't be part of marriage, but you should be straight. DONOHUE: Allen and Patricia Mutes (ph) went into the courts. I mentioned this to Piers Morgan a couple of years ago. I went through this. It's not a hypothetical. They're a brother and a sister. They insert the right to marriage and they are using the gay rights legislation as their trump card. That's where we're going with this. Polygamists also.

CUOMO: So, your concern about making gays equal is that incest --


DONOHUE: What I'm saying is that treat gays as respectful human beings the way they're supposed to be treated.

CUOMO: Which means they deserve equal rights under law not to be discriminated against by a business.

DONOHUE: You're bleeding individual rights into the institution. There's a difference. The institution of marriage is best set, we know from all kinds of reasons. That's a work that way. The institution of marriage is best set when we have kids raised by a father and mother. It doesn't always work out that way. But the idea of having two fathers and two mothers or maybe Tom, Dick and Harry want to get married. What are they going to say about that?

CUOMO: Do we have any proof that kids who come from a marriage straight or gay have different outcomes?

DONOHUE: You know, quite frankly, it's too early to say.

CUOMO: You're a sociologist.


CUOMO: You don't have any proof, but you're getting --

DONOHUE: Why would you want to do a social experiment --

CUOMO: You're getting upset about it and saying it definitively and you have no proof of what --

DONOHUE: I do have proof that kids who come from one-parent families don't do as well --

CUOMO: Does that matter, gay or straight? Does gay or straight matter?

DONOHUE: All I know is this.

CUOMO: Well, you should want gay marriage. You should want gay marriage because single parent families are a problem.

DONOHUE: Why would we want a social experiment with an institution which has served us well for over 2,000 years? Why do we experiment with this? CUOMO: Because you have single parent families and they deserve the right to do whatever a straight person does. You said with respect to those individuals --