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U.S. Reaction to Russia Invading Ukraine; Stabbing Attack at Chinese railway station in Kunming; Oscar Awards Predictions; The Latest Laughs from "Late Saturday Night"

Aired March 2, 2014 - 06:30   ET


BLACKWELL: Number three, amid the allegations of rape, the NFL network has fired former Pro Bowl safety Darren Sharper. Officials confirm to CNN that the network terminated Sharper's contract. He's 38 years old and he faces charges of drugging and sexually assaulting women in New Orleans and Los Angeles where he has pleaded not guilty. He's also under investigation in Florida and Nevada and Arizona.

PAUL: Number four, the Navy now investigating what caused a supersonic combat jet to crash during a training flight in western Nevada. Now, the pictures you're looking at here are of the same model aircraft that went down. The Navy hasn't yet confirmed the status of aircraft nor its crew member.

BLACKWELL: And number five, the crisis in Ukraine turns violent. Look at this, reportedly injured dozens of people here at a pro-Russia protest in Kharkov. The Ukrainian military is now calling up all available reserves and deploying troops across the country. As Ukraine claims 15,000 Russian troops have descended on Crimea.

PAUL: International tensions are rising as the U.S. is speaking out against Russia accusing it of breaking international law.

BLACKWELL: U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry issued this statement and here's a quote, "The United States condemns the Russian federation's invasion and occupation of Ukrainian territory. This action is a threat to the peace and security of Ukraine and the wider region.

PAUL: Also, yesterday, we know President Obama spoke to Russian President Vladimir Putin for about 90 minutes and Obama warned that there would be consequences. Let's go to CNN's chief international correspondent Christiane Amanpour via phone. Christian, thanks for being with us. So, we know the White House has said, too, that the U.S. is suspending participation in prep meetings for the G-8 in Sochi. So, it sounds like he's kind of setting up the possibility that he would not attend in June when that happens. First of all, how strong a threat is it? Go ahead.

CHRISTIANE AMANPOUR, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, you're absolutely right. They have confirmed that they're suspending preparatory measures for that summit, which is, as you said, in three months' time. The real question is if Russia continues with its current military maneuvers, will the United States and the G-7 expel Russia from the G-8. That is a very real possibility and there are many analysts who say that that should happen. Number one, Russia is not a democracy, number two, it is not a first world economy and it was simply invited into the G-8 as a gesture by President Clinton to President Boris Yeltsin back in the '90s. So, that is a possibility.

In the meantime, the very immediate diplomatic move necessary to pull both sides back to the brink. The British Foreign Secretary William Hague is traveling to Kiev today to meet with the interim government there, the new interim prime minister and the Russian embassy here in Britain has issued a statement saying, again, reiterating what they believe to be their right in what they're doing, but also saying that President Putin wants to resolve this diplomatically. President Putin in his call with President Obama, as you mentioned, did not say that they would withdraw, but did say that they had the right to be there, but also said that Russia's next move in terms of a full-scale intervention would be based on Kiev's move. And so, that is, obviously, very important to watch what the new interim Ukrainian government does. If it deploys forces, if it tries to confront Russian forces. This would be a complete and utter disaster and the Kiev forces would be defeated. They are not nearly as strong as the Russian forces.

So, very high-level diplomacy continuing, needs to continue to pull Russia back from the brink. NATO ministers on meeting in an emergency session in Brussels today and Canada has so far done the most punitive diplomatic measure. It has withdrawn its ambassador from Moscow.

BLACKWELL: Christiane, the indications we have from the White House and sources at the Pentagon is that there is no military contingency plan for U.S. troops to go into Ukraine, to go into the Crimea peninsula. But if the president says that he supports Ukrainian sovereignty and the leaders in Kiev have said that they don't have the forces to fight off the Russian military, how is it possible that the U.S. will not be involved, even in some U.N.-led delegation of troops to go in and help the Ukrainian forces fight off the Russian forces, if they continue this advance?

AMANPOUR: I think that that is a complete nonstarter. You've heard the United States say that there is no plan B of a military sort. This would be a direct confrontation between NATO and Russia and that is completely off the table, as far as NATO is saying and the United States is saying. The Ukrainian forces do not have the where withal to confront the Russian forces. So far Russia has a minimal presence in Kiev in terms of rather in Crimea in terms of trying to flex its muscle there. Yes, it does have a big base and that is where this number of 15,000 comes from, apparently. But that is a long-standing Black Sea fleet base in Sevastopol, Crimea. If it does increase and if Russia does go forward with what it says is its right, that is to fully militarily intervene, this is going to be a major disaster and one that I do not believe certainly at this point now the U.S. or NATO plans to resist militarily. Bit will be a major diplomatic feat to try to bring Russia back from an invasion of another country if indeed it does that. And all anybody has to remember is what happened in Georgia and the Ossetia region back in 2008 when a similar type of crisis happened. Russia entered the territory, the then Georgian authorities decided to confront Russia militarily. And it was a disaster for the Georgian authorities. It took a long, long time to put that situation back together.

So, there is a president, it's not a happy president and that is why international diplomacy led by the United States and, as I say, NATO and other Western allies are working very hard to try to pull this back in a diplomatic fashion. And it's going to be key to watch what the Ukrainian authorities do. They're already calling it a red alert. They're already saying that this is an unacceptable breach of Ukrainian sovereignty and, indeed, it is a violation of the Ukrainian or rather the international law that guarantees Ukrainian sovereignty and its territorial integrity. The question is, can all sides be pulled back from the brink now before it is too late?

BLACKWELL: All right. Chief international correspondent Christiane Amanpour, thank you so much.

AMANPOUR: Thank you.

BLACKWELL: Also, this deadly stamping rampage we talk about. This is in southwest China.

PAUL: Chinese officials say the work of terrorists is what we're looking at here. We'll have the details for you just ahead.


BLACKWELL: In South Africa the trial of Oscar Pistorius starts tomorrow.

PAUL: The double amputee Olympic sprinter accused of murdering his girlfriend just a little over a year ago. Pistorius claims that he mistook Reeva Steenkamp for a home invader when he shot her in the bathroom of his Pretoria home. Now, prosecutors say it was premeditated murder. The court is allowing parts of the trial to be televised. We're going to hear from his ex-girlfriend. It's going to be something else. We'll keep you posted.

BLACKWELL: Let's go to China for this story. Tragic. Authorities say that at least 29 people have been killed and more than 130 wounded in a deadly knife attack.

PAUL: Yeah, ten men armed with these long knives stormed a railway station. This is what we know in the southwestern part of the country and Chinese authorities are calling them terrorists.

BLACKWELL: McKenzie joins us live from Kunming. David, tell us what happened.

DAVID MCKENZIE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Victor, it's a really extraordinary and horrific event that happened here, where I'm standing. At this train station at least ten people, in fact, one appears being a woman, mostly dressed in black in a coordinated attack according to authorities and witnesses I have spoken to, they moved through the crowd with these long, two-foot long knives and machetes stabbing people at will. It seems like there were more than 100 injured. I've seen several people with pretty terrible head injuries in hospitals in this area. People in the shops behind me say that there was panic streaming out of the train station. Several people on the spot were heavily wounded. One man with a knife still stuck in his back. They are blaming this on what they call separatists from northwest China and certainly it's a shock to China this weekend.

PAUL: All right, so, the Chinese government, as we said, are calling the attackers terrorists. What was their motive? I mean other than killing, what is it that they want? What is it that they're opposing?

MCKENZIE: Well, from all I can see what they wanted was to strike terror. This didn't seem to have any other point other than getting into a crowd of innocent people and killing them. And that's certainly was their aim. Now they say these are from - these are separatists from northwest China. This groups, Islamic Group in Northwest China that has done attacks in the past. It is, in fact, these groups. But not here in southwest China. This would be very significant because this is outside of the area of stronghold and it would indicate an escalation of the terror threat here in China for a country that is very well known of having a very severe, security at times and they were unable to stop the carnage here at this train station.

BLACKWELL: All right, David McKenzie in Kunming, China for us. Thank you. We have got more to come after the break. Stay with us.



UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This is Agent DiMaso placing $75,000 in this briefcase for Mayor Carmine Poleto.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We are all going to get arrayed, aren't we?


BLACKWELL: And "American Hustle." An all start cast you see there, up for a whopping ten Oscars at tonight's Academy Awards. So, are you ready for Hollywood's biggest night?

PAUL: Clearly, I am completely underdressed.

BLACKWELL: Oh, me, too.

PAUL: Clearly.

BLACKWELL: We will show you why in a moment.

PAUL: Yeah, we will show you why. Because, well, you know, you've got Hollywood's glitzes and glamour, red carpet taking the stage. It's the 86th annual Academy Award show, just in case you're counting.

BLACKWELL: And, of course, in the matter of hours 3D thrillers like "Gravity" compete with blockbusters like "The Wolf of Wall Street," historic epics "12 Years of Slave." F0or the industry's greatest honor, of course, the Oscar.

PAUL: Oscar forecasting is as American as apple pie, people. So, this is why we are underdressed.

BLACKWELL: Yes. And I thought I looked fancy this morning. I don't know if you can see Jimmy's red shoes here under that banner.

PAUL: Oh yeah. Pull your shoes up.

BLACKWELL: And - I mean Ebony's shoes, too.

JIMMY ALEXANDER: My shoes are nothing compared to Ebony.

PAUL: Right. Beautiful.

EBONY STEELE: You don't have to be anywhere special to celebrate the Oscars. Come on.


STEELE: Did you wear those because of what the theme is?


STEELE: It's the "Wizard of Oz, "75th anniversary of "The Wizard of Oz."


BLACKWELL: Still a formal introduction here. Jimmy Alexander, cohost of "Star 94's Morning" with Cindy and Jimmy and Ebony still cohost of the Rickey Smiley morning show. So, my first question here, let's start at the top. Best picture. Ebony first, what is your choice?

EBONY: I'm going to have to say it is going to be worth waiting. Because this is going to be the last award represented at the end of the night "12 Years a Slave." I just really - this movie - just when a movie moves people, when you laugh extremely or if you're sad about something or even time or period pieces, I just think they do extremely well. We've seen that with the actors being, you know, nominated in other categories. It's just truth and testament to how good this movie is. And I think it's going to just do well. I think it's going to get best picture.

ALEXANDER: Well, the thing about the Oscars, you know, as Ebony just mentioned, that it will be the last awards given out and Johnny Carson said it best, he said, you know, the Oscars is, you know, two hours of sparkling entertainment spread over a four-hour show.


ALEXANDER: And "12 Years a Slave" The Oscars love giving the award to period pieces about true people and depressing movies and this movie is the hat trick, I mean it is all about those things. So, it's going away with the Oscar tonight.

BLACKWELL: And great performances.

PAUL: Yeah, no kidding. OK, so, most categories, I know, a lot of times usually don't have a clear winner. Clear, clear, clear, but let's talk about what everybody is talking about with best actor, shall we?


PAUL: Who do you say?

ALEXANDER: There is no way Matthew McConaughey is not going to win that Oscar.

PAUL: There you go.

ALEXANDER: If it does happen then someone read the wrong name. That's the only way he doesn't win the Oscar tonight.

STEELE: Well, you put so much into it. If you just look at how he looked in "Dallas Buyers' Club." I mean the weight he had to lose, and once again, it is a movie that moves people.


STEELE: You know, about AIDS and HIV, the fact, the passion that he had to go to other countries to actually get the medicine and bring it back. I'm still going to (INAUDIBLE). I just think "12 years a Slave" just the way he played the movie from beginning to end, if you saw the movie and just the camera angles and just the write up about it.

ALEXANDER: I was going to say him, but I couldn't pronounce his name.


But back to Matthew, about a real person, it's sad and he had to lose weight the De Niro way. And he didn't even look like Matthew McConaughey.

PAUL: No, he didn't.

ALEXANDER: And I guarantee tonight, if he does win, he's taking a short off.

STEELE: Do you think so?


BLACKWELL: So, let's get to actress category. Already history made, breaking the record for the oldest average among the nominees, we talked about this when they were announced.

PAUL: Yes, for 40 plus!

BLACKWELL: Amy Adams, Cate Blanchett, Sandra Bullock, Judi Dench, Meryl Streep, all contenders. You know, Meryl Streep, every year - I mean it's not an Oscar show - to see if she gets a nomination. But who walks away with it?

STEELE: I want to say Cate Blanchett.


STEELE: Blue Jasmine with - when you watched that movie, when you see her in it, the fact that it's almost someone who was not quite right in their psyche and you kind of see the movie through their eyes. And me and Jimmy were talking. You were talking about the fact about somebody being the victim or the bad guy.

ALEXANDER: Yeah. Not often - not often do you see a movie that main character is not really a likable person, but she is such a great actress that you really do feel sorry for her.


ALEXANDER: I mean and it's pretty amazing, pretty amazing portrayal that she did in this film.

PAUL: Before we get back to, you know, best supporting actress. I want to ask about Ellen DeGeneres. Because you mentioned it. I mean it spread out over so many hours. What a job she has. She's going to be such a different take from Seth McFarland. What headline do you think she's going to make?

ALEXANDER: Well, it's going to be the friendly Oscar. She already said she's going to be in the audience a lot and, think about it, it is going to rain, probably, on these actors and actresses so all that plastic surgery, all that (INAUDIBLE)


ALEXANDER: It's going to smell like wet dog in there.

STEELE: Well, she's not new to this. She hosted what - seven years ago.

PAUL: Yes. Yes.

STEELE: It's her second time back and Ellen does so well that she already has a following and fans and I love people that do think even though they can't do them well and she even talks about how she loves to dance, but she can't do - just dance all night. So, I think she's going to have - I think what we're looking to, looking forward to is going to be great in what she presents and brings to the table.

BLACKWELL: I think it would be great if she opens the show the way she opens her talk show.


BLACKWELL: With the music and the dancing, that would be great.


ALEXANDER: She is also a host. She knows how to run things, keep things moving and that is a help ?compared to actor and actresses who don't really have the experience.

STEELE: She's a comedian.


BLACKWELL: You know, before we get - we've got best supporting actress up here. But I want to ask, who do you think has been snubbed? Who should have been ...

ALEXANDER: Oprah Winfrey for "The Butler." I was shocked that she didn't get nominated for that movie.

STEELE: You know, I may have to agree with you on that one. I definitely think, because Oprah always surprises us, because we think she's going to change, remember her from "Color Purple."

PAUL: Right. Right.

STEELE: And she's still good. I actually - yeah, I think that's a great, great choice.

BLACKWELL: Very quickly. We just have time for the names. Best supporting actress.


ALEXANDER: June Squibb. If she doesn't win it, I will cry.


ALEXANDER: In "Nebraska," because no one says the F word like she does.



BLACKWELL: 84-years-old F-bombing. We talked to the producers yesterday that she was an excellent actress. Jimmy, Ebony, thank you so much.

PAUL: Thank you, guys.

ALEXANDER: God bless you.

(CROSSTALK) ALEXANDER: And we have a special award winner.

STEELE: We have business in (INAUDIBLE). OK. And it's for the best weekend morning show.



STEELE: Congratulations. PAUL: I'm going to fight you for this.


STEELE: Yeah, I'll get to fight over.


STEELE: All the people that said ....


PAUL: And my dog. I want to thank my dog.

ALEXANDER: OK. Play the music, play them out.

PAUL: Very nice!

BLACKWELL: They literally are playing music now. OK, thank you, guys.

PAUL: Thank you, guys.

BLACKWELL: So, Toronto's crack smoking mayor.

PAUL: That's a segue.

BLACKWELL: It's always a great ...

PAUL: That's a seque.

BLACKWELL: I love when we can start the sentence there. So, he's getting a dose of Hollywood this weekend.

PAUL: We're going to show you what happened when he landed at LAX, who he ran into at baggage claim. Do you think we could see him at the Oscars tonight?

BLACKWELL: If she brings him on stage ...

PAUL: Come on, people. Come on.

BLACKWELL: She wins the award for something.


PAUL: We are so glad to have you with us. You know, there's going to be a lot of star gazing at Los Angeles International Airport today. We're not talking Oscars. Hollywood's A-list obviously trickling in tonight for that. However, there is another sighting, right?

BLACKWELL: Yeah, there has been one celebrity sighting at the LAX baggage claim that even the paparazzi didn't expect.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Now, which celebrity are you most excited to meet?



JIMMY KIMMEL: How are you? Welcome to Los Angeles.

FORD: Thank you so much.

KIMMEL: It's great. Do you have your luggage?

FORD: I've got a little bag. Yeah.

KIMMEL: OK, well, let me take that from you, I'm your driver.



PAUL: That probably, that was probably one wild limo ride, don't you think?

BLACKWELL: Yeah. Toronto mayor Rob Ford there landed in L.A. And was greeted by, of course, you saw it, Jimmy Kimmel there with his luggage cart. Ford is due to appear on Kimmel's "Late Night" talk show Monday night at the host personal invitation. That one we shall not miss.

PAUL: Time for an early dose of laughter from last night's "Saturday Night Live."

BLACKWELL: Yeah, the cast took a stab at a recent chat between Ellen DeGeneres who is, of course, hosting tonight's Oscar ceremony and figure skater Johnny Weir.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: OK. It's time for my guest. He was a commentator for the Olympics and he will be covering the Oscars for E! Please welcome Johnny Weir.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Hi, Ellen. Thank you for having me here. It's so nice to be here and not in Russia. I mean can you believe all this was in Russia?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes. Did you have a hard time there at all?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: No, no, I just sort of blended in. By the end, I actually looked like a real local. Look here, this is a photo of me on the streets of Sochi. We could barely even see me, right? It's like a gay wears volgo (ph)


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Well, now, I love the way you dress and I feel like every time I see you you're wearing something new and crazy.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: No, no not every time.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Are you sure because it kind of feels like every time.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I think you're exaggerating, Ellen.


PAUL: Jim Parsons never ceases to amaze me and even as good as he did there I feel ...

BLACKWELL: Yeah, and that impersonation of Ellen, on point.

PAUL: I know.

BLACKWELL: She's all over that chair.

PAUL: So glad that you're starting your morning with us.

BLACKWELL: We've got a lot still ahead on "NEW DAY SUNDAY" starts right now.