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Search for Missing Malaysian Plane Continues; Universal Condemnation for Racist Comments; Discussion with Lamar Campbell & Otis Birdsong; At Least 18 Killed After Deadly Tornado; Egyptian Court Sentences Nearly 700 Supporters of the Muslim Brotherhood

Aired April 28, 2014 - 07:00   ET


CHRIS CUOMO, CNN ANCHOR: Good morning. Welcome to NEW DAY. I want to welcome our viewers across the U.S. and around the world. We do have breaking news this morning, killer tornadoes taking at least 18 lives in the heartland of America. In Central Arkansas, at least 16 people are dead, the damage widespread. Just take a look for yourself. This is what happened after a massive twister half a mile wide flattened homes, shattered suburbs of Little Rock, Arkansas. One confirmed death in Oklahoma. That's where a twister crushed a small town near the border with Missouri and Kansas. Another death also reported in Iowa. All of these numbers are so early. Search and rescue just beginning as the sun comes up. We have Chad Myers on location from the hard hit town of Mayflower, Arkansas. Chad, what's the latest?

CHAD MYERS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: I moved from the damage here at Mayflower to give you a perspective of the size. Last hour I was by the camera and then we zoomed into the shot. But I don't think you truly get what this building was. Chris, this building was a concrete block, a cinderblock building, some type of machine shop. This was an operating factory of some sort and now which is completely destroyed.

But the real problem today for the search and rescue teams and for the people picking up their lives in Mayflower, Vilonia, El Paso, is this. Let me show you this, those nails are everywhere out here. The buildings are shattered, the nails are everywhere. More people can get hurt after the storm than during the storm if they're not very careful.

Now, minor injuries, we do believe that most of the power has been shut off. But for a while a lot of the power lines were full. I'm being very careful moving through here because of those nails. But here's the electrical box, all the conduit, right there. A big structure, a very sturdy structure, completely destroyed. We know that I'm probably saying that this is F-3 damage because I can still see some walls, but there are buildings in Vilonia that we know of, especially one Dollar Store, there's nothing left except the concrete that that building was sitting on, everything else completely gone. That indicates damage probably of greater than EF-3, somewhere in four or maybe five. The National Weather Service will be out here looking at it.

I think now, though, counting the dead, helping the injured and rescuing those that may still be trapped, it is such a wide area that there may still be people that need to be rescued, Chris.

KATE BOLDUAN, CNN ANCHOR: So the search efforts not over. The recovery not even yet really beginning. Chad, thank you very much. Let's bring in two people who have seen this also firsthand, James Bryant and Austin Oberlag. They are meteorology students who were some of the first on the scene in Mayflower after the tornado touched down. Guys can you hear me? Guys can you hear me?


BOLDUAN: Good morning. I know it's early. Thank you so much for taking the time. As the sun is just about to come where you are, people are going to get the first real chance they've had overnight to see the pure devastation that we can see behind you. James, first tell me, what did you see, as you guys were some of the first on the scene after the destruction hit?

BRYANT: Well, it was a crazy scene when we pulled up. We knew there would be damage because we did see the tornado on the ground. We knew it crossed the freeway. We knew there would be damage. But we weren't really prepared for the scene we were about to roll up to. This is really bad damage. There were cars flipped everywhere. There were people screaming. It was a really tough scene. It was a good thing there were people around to help because it was a tough scene.

BOLDUAN: Austin, people describe the sounds that they hear when a tornado was approaching. Can you describe what you guys were hearing?

AUSTIN OBERLAG, WITNESS TO ARKANSAS TORNADO: Honestly, when we rolled up, we got out of the car, it felt a little silent. I think more just because I was taking in the scenes, just seeing the devastation, but when we got closer, you could hear, there was a woman in the middle of highway just yelling and crying. And it felt really real. It really hit home. It just -- just being able to hear the devastation, more than see it was more impactful. And just hearing a woman just yelling from the inside of an RV business, that her dad's business was destroyed and everything is gone, just seeing a woman inside a car just wanting help. It was real. I don't know any other words to describe it.

BOLDUAN: I think that's the best way to describe it, is very real and probably really unbelievable for many people as they're waking up this morning. When you guys came upon the scene. You were actually able to help a couple who I believe were trapped in her car until emergency responders could come. What happened to them?

BRYANT: We were unsure what exactly happened to them. We located them shortly after he arrived on scene. And they were not in the best shape, but they were stable. We were just keeping them stable until emergency services arrived. It took a while for emergency services to get here because of traffic and debris. It took a while for people to actually get all the way down here. There was an off-duty firefighter and also a nurse with us, and we were trying to keep them stable. Keep them talking to. They were all right. As far as we know, they were transported to the local hospital. Now the husband and wife who were in the RV dealership, we did get them out. They were shaken up but they were OK. And that's really good to hear.

BOLDUAN: That is good to hear. And Austin, the mayor of the neighbors town, he described the destruction as pure chaos in his town. He thinks they're dealing with something of a six to seven-mile tract of devastation. How would you compare Mayflower? I mean, it's close by. Both of these are relatively small towns. How would you describe the destruction in Mayflower?

OBERLAG: Just honestly, everything's gone from where it hit. The houses have been destroyed. Trees are down. It's -- when we rolled up to the scene it was definitely -- it was definitely chaos, to use the mayor's words. I mean, just with the cops rolling in and emergency services, it was definitely pure chaos for sure.

BOLDUAN: James, the mayor of the neighboring ted that we had on earlier, he said the good thing that people were received pretty early warning, that he thinks folks were prepared. Do you think folks were prepared?

BRYANT: I do. I do. We knew about this outbreak for a long time. We had been forecasting it for a week. Coming into the day, there were some things that may have you know, help did not happen. But it did look like it happened. There was a lot of good public awareness. Sometimes, things just go bad, and that's tragic. It really is.

BOLDUAN: This is Mother Nature at her worse, that's for sure. James Bryant, Austin Overlag, thank you both very much for coming on and thank you for your hard work getting on the scene and helping people until emergency responders could be there. First light is about to come up, and that means many of these families are going to get the first look at what they're dealing with in their town.

CUOMO: First look of day one. We've got to be careful about past tense here because there are more tornadoes, more threats, severe weather in the forecast today, some of it going to the same areas, right? Indra, you're looking at all of it. What do we see coming forward?

INDRA PETERSONS, AMS METEOROLOGIST: We still have even a moderate risk today. We're talking about 3 million of you under moderate risk today, that' from Tennessee back to Mississippi. But a good 24 million of you still under this light risk. We still have the same setup in places, Indianapolis, Cincinnati, Knoxville. All the even through Louisiana today, you have the threat for severe weather.

What is the concern? Notice, we still have tornado watch boxes, watch boxes even at this hour. We know typically, as we go through the afternoon, we start to see the systems really fire up. You kind of get that energy from the sunshine. Look at the warm moist air, the dry air behind it. This is the setup you need to see as the system really roll through as the front makes its way across the country. Yesterday, we saw a good loop here. As we went through the afternoon, we see all the energy that really played. That's going to be the factor again today. Once you get the sunshine in there, we'll be looking at the dangers especially in the afternoon and the evening hours. There goes the frontal system through the overnight hours in through tomorrow, being a light risk for 55 million people in through tomorrow, Chris.

CUOMO: Indra, thank you very much.

We're going to switch gears here. We'll keep monitoring the tornadoes, but we want to start talking to you about a different story here as well. You're looking at the pictures of everything we're seeing here, storm chaser video. If you want to help the victims of the tornadoes, because their outbreak is just one day, their need goes on for weeks, go to There you'll find links to organizations that are aiding them on the ground and you can get involved. It's a big part of the story is not just about devastation, it's how we help people recover.

And now, as I said, let's move on to another story this morning, the search for flight 370. If you thought the plane would be located soon, think again. It's not what the experts have been saying and now it's not what the searchers are saying. Overnight, Australia's prime minister said the operation has changed greatly. It will not be a more intense, those are the words, underwater search, covering a larger area, taking much longer. Eight months or more is the period we're being given right now.

Let's bring in CNN analyst David Gallo, he was the co-leader in the search for Air France 447, director of special projects at Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution, and Shawn Pruchnicki, air safety expert, aviation teacher at Ohio State University. David Gallo, you have been saying from the beginning, it took us two years, it took us 10 weeks of searching, we had a lot of time to think about it, we had a lot more evidence than they have in this case, it's going to have to take a long time. Now we are at that point. This isn't a surprise. Give us some perspective.

DAVID GALLO, CNN ANALYST: No. We're talking about a big area, 20,000 or something like that square miles. The vehicles, whichever ones they choose to use move, very slowly through the water, slower than you can walk for most of the time. It just takes a long time. It's like a flash light with sonar. You can see a lot of very bright beams, so you can see a lot close, but if you want to get a wider area you're going to sacrifice resolution. And you don't want to do that. You don't want to miss a spot where the debris might be.

CUOMO: Pruchnicki, follow up on the idea of why this is not failure. You know people are going to start saying that, they failed in the search. They failed in the search. Give me a quick follow on that then I want to ask you something else.

SHAWN PRUCHNICKI, AIRLINE ACCIDENT INVESTIGATOR: No, not a failure at all. This is about best probability, going in that area, turns up nothing. And now we go to a different area, the backup plan. That's the way the searches go. There's too many variables in place, and we have to go down the list of what's most likely and then go to the next one. That's exactly what they're doing.

CUOMO: I had a guy on the military side tell me this isn't "CSI." Things take a really long time. There's very little evidence that they're working off in this situation. Give them time if you care about the search. New equipment is going to be brought in, new parameters for the search. What and why, what do we know?

PRUCHNICKI: Well, the ability to bring in some different commercial operators with different technologies, different capabilities, diversity in thinking, all of these things are important when the investigation is switching gears, going to a different plan, more difficult terrain, larger search area. These are the tools and this is the mentality that you have to have to be able to tackle a job this big.

CUOMO: What are we going to see, David, the Orion? What are they going to bring in?

GALLO: Chris, if it was up to me, the AUV types, the Rema 6,000s from my own institution, and many Orion from Phoenix International, maybe one or two others one. But it's going to take multiple vehicles doing different things in different places.

CUOMO: Word from the Australian prime minister that they are going to bring in commercial actors here. What does that mean? Does that mean that people withdrawing military support? Are commercial entities sometimes better at this? David, what's your take?

GALLO: Well, there are several commercial companies that do, like Phoenix International has a commercial side of it we've seen it with Bluefin 21. And there are those companies that own assets that can get this job done. So they'll be brought in. And it's not clear how the academic world will play into this, but we'll wait and see how that folds in as well.

CUOMO: Shawn, the Malaysian prime minister told Richard quest we're going to release the preliminary report. The families will get it. What do we expect to be in it? Is this the kind of thing where we see a shocker? What do we look for?

PRUCHNICKI: No, typically not. In countries like the United States when these types of factual information is released it's just that. It's just the facts of what we know. And it's just the early on collection of data up to this point.

My personal opinion is I don't think there's anything hidden here. I don't think we're going to find anything shocking in the report. But what's nice about this is finally they have moved to this point in how they're running this operation that they are willing to share information, and make information more public, not something that's typically done in this part of the world. It's difficult for them. And I think that's why we've seen the hesitation. It's not the way that we do things here in the United States. I'm glad they're doing it. I hope it's going to give the families some -- a little bit of help in understanding what's going on. But it's going to be a collection of known facts, as few as we have.

CUOMO: Shawn Pruchnicki, David Gallo, thank you very much. I appreciate the perspective this morning. Kate?

BOLDUAN: Coming up next on NEW DAY, the fallout continuing this morning over racist comments reportedly made by the owner of the L.A. Clippers. The team maintaining a united front as many call for him to step down. But will he? A former NBA all-star is speaking out this morning.

And also ahead on "INSIDE POLITICS," President Obama wrapping up a whirlwind tour of Asia, agreeing to a larger U.S. troop presence in the region, and also what he says about containing China, ahead.


CUOMO: Welcome back to NEW DAY. A big story this morning. Universal condemnation for racist comments attributed to Los Angeles Clippers owner Donald Sterling. The controversy has taken center stage during the NBA playoffs.

Before Sunday night's game, Clippers players -- you're watching it right there -- turned their warm-up shirts inside out to hide the team logo.

Let's bring in a person who know the league and know the situation well. Otis Birdsong, four-time NBA all-star player and also chairman of the board of directors for the retired players basketball -- Basketball Players Association.

And Mr. Lamar Campbell, radio host, "Life After the Game" on Voice America Sports, former NFL player. Great to have you both here. Sorry to meet you under this context but an important conversation.

Otis, let me start with you, do you believe there's any mitigating what happened here, oh, maybe it's not him, maybe the context has to be taken into consideration, maybe he was tricked? Do you think any of that matters if true?

OTIS BIRDSONG, RETIRED BASKETBALL PLAYERS ASSOCIATION: Excuse me. I don't think that matters, Chris. He's had several allegations before since he's been owner of this team. And it just -- it's true. There's no doubt about it, it's true. I mean, we've known this for quite some time that he's felt this way. And now it's out in the open for the entire world to see.

CUOMO: So that's the word from Birdsong.

Lamar, when you hear this, the idea that, oh, well, we've heard worst. This isn't the worst thing we've ever heard. What do you make of that type of qualification of these statements?

LAMAR CAMPBELL, "LIFE AFTER THE GAME": I think it just speaks to the necessity of where we are with race relations in this country. You know, right now, as a former NFL player, we're dealing with the "n" word now being a 15-yard penalty. And I can tell you a lot of players believe that white only with the white, non-African American commissioner, we should have some say in the matter.

So this is a man that, as you know, is an attorney by trade, Chris. There's a lot of hush money with that type of wealth. And he swept a lot of things underneath the rug. And when we get to speak about social media, you know, for all of his transgressions previously, for him to be brought down, which seems like a jealous Instagram rant, seems fun to me.

CUOMO: OK, so we hear that the NAACP was going to give him a lifetime achievement award. They've since said no. So this was a man who had gotten a great level of acceptance, allowed to own a team since 1981.

Raises the question -- I know there's outrage from the players. There should be. The fans, they're calling on the commissioner. But isn't this about the owners, Otis Birdsong, right? Because the owners really influence each other the most. Where are they in this?

BIRDSONG: Interesting question. I was talking about this with my wife about this just last evening. And I'm surprised, being a former player, that none of the owners have spoken out. I'm sure commissioner Silver has spoken with a lot of the owners. But I am surprised that not one owner has come forward and said anything about the comments.

CUOMO: Do you think they are waiting to see what the truth of the matter is or is there something else at play?

BIRDSONG: I think they are waiting. You know, as commissioner Silver has stated, you have to let the process take its place. And I think all the owners are doing the same thing and following his leadership.

CUOMO: What we don't want to see, Lamar, is have this put on the players. It's horrible already for Chris, Paul (ph) and his crew. They're a great team. You know, the idea that they should boycott, I don't think it makes sense that the onus should be put on them. But what do you think the commissioner can do? What kind of teeth can they put into this?

CAMPBELL: I think this is going to be Adam Silver's first big test. And I do believe as far as the players, what they showed yesterday was a unilateral agreement of protest, you know, whether it was Tommy Smith or whether it was Eber Shabaznapier (ph), most recently with the NNCAA. You know, we use our stage (ph) as professional athletes to get our points across. I believe what they did last night was enough, but I think athletes understand the power that they have and their influence. I think they should stand up. I think something should be said as far as our athletes are concerned.

CUOMO: Kevin Johnson says, a former NBA great himself -- I don't know if he shot as well as Otis Birdsong -- but, you know, he is now the mayor of Sacramento. He says it's a defining moment. Why, Otis? Why does this become something that is a flash point that's more than anything that's preceded it in the league?

BIRDSONG: Well, I played twelve year in NBA, and I've been involved with the sport a long time. And this is the first time that anything like this has ever happened before with an owner making a comment like this, this has never happened before.

CUOMO: Enough never heard --

BIRDSONG: I've never, ever.

CUOMO: -- who was supposedly racist in their sympathies?

BIRDSON: Never, ever. In all of my years being involved in the NBA, I've never ever heard this.

CUOMO: The rumor that they got caught saying it?

BIRDSONG: I've never heard.

CUOMO: Never even heard the speculation?


CUOMO: But you did hear about this owner?

BIRDSONG: Absolutely, for years.

CUOMO: So what made him special? Why was he insulated from, you know, people calling him out?

BIRDSONG: I don't know. I really don't have the answer to that question, but it has been known for years.

CUOMO: What do you got, Lamar?

CAMPBELL: You know, Chris, when you look at the history of ownership, they say it's a good old boy system. You know, you look at George Preston Marshall who is a noted racist, NFL hall-of-famer who named the Washington team the Redskins because he thought it was funny. This is something that Daniel Snyder is still dealing with today.

When you have owners that are hush about it. These are gentlemen that own the league; they run the league. And if they have this outlook -- any champion will tell you that championships are built from the front office down. And that includes the ownership.

So when you look at the L.A. Clippers as the other team -- the Los Angeles, that, you know, it's really not surprising that they've only won 19 playoff games in 30 years because of the culture that they've embraced there in L.A. with the owner there as well.

CUOMO: One of the things I'm sure you'll be talking about on your show, and let's leave our audience with this idea. Right now, the league is struggling with precedent. Otis Birdsong says we've never really dealt with something like this before, heard it before. Marge Schott, the owner of the Phillies, had a similar situation. The league had to deal with it. It's worth taking a Google search of that, seeing how they dealt with it there. And we'll see what happens here, the defining moment. Is it even taken up a notch.

Lamar, thank you very much.

CAMPBELL: Thanks, Chris.

CUOMO: Mr. Birdsong, a pleasure to meet you both. Sir, I've been fan of yours for many years.

BIRDSONG: Thank you, sir.

CUOMO: Sorry to meet you under this situation, but an important conversation. We'll keep it going.

Most importantly, what do you think about this? Culture is often about consensus. The race controversy surrounding Donald Sterling, tweet us with the #new day. Let's keep the conversation going. Kate?

BOLDUAN: Coming up next on NEW DAY, deadly storms ripped through the central part of the country overnight, tearing homes and towns just simply apart. We're going to get -- we're going to get an update on some of the victims from a hospital spokesperson ahead.

And we're also going to go Inside Politics where Sarah Palin stirred up controversy at the NRA convention. What she said about waterboarding, terrorism and Christianity, coming up.


MICHAELA PERERIA, CNN ANCHOR: And welcome back to NEW DAY. Let's take a look at your headlines at half past the hour.

At least 18 people have been killed after a deadly tornado outbreak tore through the central United States; 16 people dead in Arkansas. A tornado half a mile wide, devastating the communities of Mayflower and Vilonia. Rescue operations in the area are going through the area nonstop through the night. Another death reported in Oklahoma where a twister flattened a small town near the Kansas and Missouri borders.

To the search for MH-370, the Bluefin 21 is going deep again as it continues its 16th underwater mission scanning the Indian Ocean floor for any sign of that flight. Australia's prime minister announcing a new phase in the search, covering a much larger area and utilizing private contractors. This is a process that he says is expected to last six to eight months and will cost an estimated $60 million.

Violence is escalating in eastern Ukraine. The mayor of the country's second largest city Kharkiv shot in the back by unidentified gunmen. Earlier this morning, we're told he is in critical condition at this hour. In the meantime, the U.S. and Europe set to announce a new round of sanctions against Russian officials today.

New this morning, and Egyptian court has sentenced nearly 700 supporters of the Muslim Brotherhood to death, including the movement's leader. The charges are related to violent riots last year including the murder of a police officer. Riots erupted after security forces violently disrupted sit-ins held by Brotherhood supporters of former president Mohamed Morsi.

7:29 in the east. Those are headlines at this hour.

BOLDUAN: All right, let's get Inside Politics on NEW DAY now with Jake Tapper in for John King. Good morning, Jake.

JAKE TAPPER, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Good morning, Kate. Good morning, Chris. I'm sitting here. Let's go Inside Politics with Maeve Reston of "The Los Angeles Times" and Jonathan Martin of "The New York Times".

President Obama on this big trip overseas. And everywhere he goes, he's being hammered by critics and by some of the media for his foreign policy. He was asked in Manila specifically about his doctrine, the Obama doctrine. Here's what he had to say taking his critics head-on.