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Fans, Players Back Decision to Ban Sterling; Severe Storms Cause Extreme Damage in Southeast; Company Claims Wreckage Seen; Executions Halted in Oklahoma; Pro-Russian Militants Not Backing Down in Ukraine

Aired April 30, 2014 - 04:30   ET


JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: Players, fans and the coach, they're all calling this the right move.


DOC RIVERS, LA CLIPPERS COACH: These last three or four days have been very difficult for everybody involved. No matter what the race is, it's been difficult. I felt the pressure on my players, you know. Everyone was waiting for them to give a response. You know, I kept thinking, they didn't do anything, you know? Yet, they have to respond. And so, Adam responded.

And I thought that that was the sigh of relief that we needed. Is this over? No, it's not over. But, it's the start of a healing process that we need.


BERMAN: Doc Rivers, the Clippers coach, one of the wonderful leaders in the game of basketball. Fans embraced the decision from the NBA, holding signs pledging their support for the players. They are demanding a new owner, also.

So who are some of the names being mentioned? Entertainment mogul David Geffen. He's got a little money to spare. Former Philadelphia 76ers owner Pat Croce. They both said they are interested in getting in on some of that Clipper action.

Magic Johnson, by the way, the subject of one of Sterling's rants, so far has said he is not trying to buy the team. He owns the Dodgers right now. Definitely tied up elsewhere.

Experts say the Clippers could be worth north of a billion dollars. That's with a "B."

So far, Donald Sterling has not commented publicly. But the team, no longer under his control, obviously, posted this on his Web site. And all over the court, by the way, it says, "We are one." And of course, everyone there saying they support the commissioner.

ROMANS: He bought that team, I believe, in the '80s for $12 million. So if it really were to fetch $1 billion, it would make him a much richer man than he is right now. Now one "Forbes" (ph) investments bank said maybe $850 million.

BERMAN: It's still a lot of money.

ROMANS: That's a lot of money.

BERMAN: Milwaukee Bucs, Milwaukee, not Los Angeles, a wonderful place, but it doesn't have the marketing opportunities Los Angeles has. The Bucs just sold for about 500 million. Right? So the Clippers could go for much, much more.

ROMANS: It's a valuable franchise. It's much more valuable right now.

BERMAN: Yes. You know what? He's not going to suffer in this financially, but he'll be doing it alone. Not at the games.

ROMANS: I'm interested in what he has to say. I want to know. I'd like to think -- I wonder if he will speak today; what he's going to say, because that was a very decisive ruling.

BERMAN: He's the godfather. At the end of "The Godfather," where the five families were all Donald Sterling, just getting rid of them all at once.

ROMANS: All right.

Now to the other big story this morning, dangerous weather happening in a big part of the country today with heavy rain, torrential in some places. That could fall on millions of you from the Gulf Coast all the way to New England.

BERMAN: North Carolina feeling it right now after a tornado touched down in Stedman. That's east of Fayetteville. The winds tearing up homes and trees. There could be a lot more. I have to tell you, we are seeing a ton of rain here and wind and water. Look at that rain. Cars and roads, left underwater by the flash floods. Police had to move in and rescue some people from their cars.

ROMANS: Those same stores left -- storms, rather, left at least 35 dead in six other states, including Arkansas. Fifteen killed in Arkansas. Families today searching through what's left of their homes. They're remembering what it was like when those tornadoes hit.


JAMES GUIDEN, TORNADO SURVIVOR: Five seconds after I come here, they do this. We watched the whole thing. It was just all around us. We were praying the whole time.


BERMAN: The same story in southern Tennessee. Right now, authorities blame a two-mile-wide EF-3 tornado for this damage and the deaths of two people southwest of Nashville. The twister destroyed an elementary school, ripped apart homes and businesses, and left thousands without power. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: All I heard was a loud boom. And we went to the window and it was shooting up like a geyser.


ROMANS: That was the scene in Mobile, Alabama. Heavy rain causing the ground to drop, creating a sinkhole and a geyser that that woman spoke of. The waters also moved a shed, moved it right into a street nearby. That's a day after a tornado in the northern part of the state left three people dead.

BERMAN: Pensacola underwater this morning. Hearing from a lot of people there on Twitter. Take a look at these pictures. The intense rain just soaking the roads. If that's what they still are. They're more like rivers now. There has been one death, a drowning. Police are pleading with people, stay home. Do not try to drive anywhere. It is just too dangerous.

The danger continuing this morning for millions and millions of Americans. Indra Petersons is here to give us a sense of what people are facing right now.

INDRA PETERSONS, CNN METEOROLOGIST: Good morning. We're talking about this huge flooding concern. I mean, take a look at just the last three hours here, especially pay attention to Pensacola even out towards Mobile.

This is the last three hours. We're talking about rainfall rates as much as five inches an hour. Does that sound bad? Yes, definitely. But now, take a look at the last 24 hours. You can see really the wind just coming off the ocean. So you're looking at all that moisture there coming right off the Gulf. They've been inundated with this rain. It looks like it's not going anywhere anytime soon.

So with that, let's talk about how much rain we are expecting. Again, yes, it's going to spread into the Northeast, several inches there, but really focusing here into the Southeast where an isolated area could see up to eight inches. You have some places even more, especially that rain just continues to train over those same regions as that cold front really stays in place and only slowly moves forward.

The other side of this, we still have the severe weather. We're talking 36 million people, again today looking for the threat of some of those thunderstorms turning severe.

Today, just south of D.C., really all the way down through -- even through Florida. That's going to be the concern today again, really firing up toward the afternoon. Winds will be another story. We'll be talking about 30 to 45-mile-per-hour winds, especially as the afternoon continues today. But really, throughout the day, really feeling those strong gusts, even this morning.

So there we go. The cold front still slowly taking its time before it finally makes its way offshore by the weekend. So that's the good news for the weekend. Things will improve.

But just keep in mind: definitely cold today in New York City. Cold behind the cold. But notice, we have a warm front. By tomorrow, you're going to feel a huge difference. Temperatures really jump up just for about a day or so. More rain expected in the Northeast with that. Then that cold front kicks on through and temperatures kind of go right to about average or just below average as we go towards the weekend. Well, what a change with heavy rain expected, especially into the Northeast and Southeast.

ROMANS: Rain, rain go away. Thank you so much, Indra Petersons.

All right. This morning, officials in Australia dismissing a new claim that a private company may have spotted Malaysia Airlines Flight 370. They have spotted it deep beneath the Bay of Bengal. That's thousands of miles away from the search zone, where satellite data seems to indicate the jet went down.

Miguel Marquez, live in Perth, Australia, for us this morning. So Australian officials are saying, you know, "We don't think -- we don't think this is real."

MIGUEL MARQUEZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT: they are saying that. At least the joint agency is saying that. The Malaysian officials saying everything needs to be looked into. So I think it's fair to say that officials across the board don't want to dismiss anything out of hand.

But Australian officials saying that they just don't see that there's anything that leads them to this spot. Even the northern arc that the Inmarsat data led us on a few weeks ago, is very far away, 1,000 miles at least, from where this company, Geo Resonance, says this was found.

The way Geo Resonance says that they captured these images are spectral analysis images, not photographs necessarily. Was that they -- by satellite and plane. And they were able to key in on certain elements like titanium and copper and aluminum that the airframe is made of.

Everybody that CNN has spoken to doubts this very much. The physics don't exist; the technology doesn't exist. They say they want to know more about how they captured these images.

We just interviewed Geo Resonance, our Anna Coren has. They stick to their guns saying that they did not send any submersible down there. They captured it all by satellite and by plane. Individuals, experts in this -- in this field that we've talked to say it is possible to see it from the air or dig into the ground and see it, but you have to be close to it. You can't capture it underwater, certainly not 1,000 meters down.

Christine, back to you.

ROMANS: Miguel, what is happening with the search, then, today?

MARQUEZ: The Bluefin has -- for the second day now has taken a day off because of weather. The sea's just too high for the Ocean Shield to put it in the water. It will continue to search north of the area it's been searching. So toward ping one. It's been searching the area around ping two, and now it's moving toward ping one, just about 10 kilometers, 6 miles or so north of where it is. We know that that Bluefin can stay out there until about May 15th. That's when its mother ship, the Ocean Shield, has to come back into port for fuel.

Back to you.

ROMANS: Miguel Marquez for us in Perth, Australia. Thanks, Miguel.

All right. Breaking this morning -- breaking news. Executions are halted in Oklahoma after a prisoner was left alive and shaking for nearly 40 minutes after he should have died. What went wrong there? We'll have that for you after the break.


ROMANS: Breaking this morning in Oklahoma, new calls for a new approach to executions after a lethal injection went very wrong. Clayton Lockett died of a heart attack 40 minutes after being injected with an experimental drug cocktail that was supposed to kill him. Witnesses say he was talking for some time after the injection, and he was conscious.


ROBERT PATTON, DIRECTOR, OKLAHOMA DEPARTMENT OF CORRECTIONS: We began pushing the second and third drugs in the protocol. There was some concern at that time that the drugs were not having the effect, so the doctor observed the line and determined that the line had blown.

COURTNEY FRANCISCO, REPORTER, KFOR: Back when they closed the curtain, he said, "Man."

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes, he had full body upper movement. He was able to lift his head and his shoulders from the gurney.

FRANCISCO: He was struggling to talk, but those were the words that got out, "Man, I'm not" -- and "something is wrong."


ROMANS: Oklahoma has called off a second execution for at least two weeks as it reviews its execution procedures.

BERMAN: Very controversial.

This morning, investigators trying to figure out a motive behind a shooting at a FedEx sorting center near Atlanta. The gunman, who injured six people before killing himself, identified as 19-year-old Geddy Kramer, who witnesses say was armed like a soldier, with ammunition draped across his chest.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I saw him standing there, and the knife was on the ground. He had dropped his knife. He had bullets strapped across his chest. I mean, he looked like he was heading into war. As soon as I saw him, I ran the other way.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: A couple of loud pops, but I just thought it was some noises. Didn't think anything of it. And then somebody was running through saying, "He's got a gun. He's got a gun. Run." That's when we ran.


BERMAN: Police say the gunman also had at least one Molotov cocktail that he did not use. This morning, four victims remain in the hospital, one in critical condition.

ROMANS: No change of venue yet. So say prosecutors in Colorado, opposing a defense motion to move the trial of accused movie theater shooter James Holmes away from suburban Denver. The defense says intense pretrial publicity could bias the jury. But prosecutors say the judge should wait until jury selection before he makes that call. The trial in the shooting deaths of 12 people is expected to begin in October.

BERMAN: This morning, a Connecticut 16-year-old is facing murder charges as an adult. This is as we find out new details about the stabbing death of a classmate at their high school. Police say Christopher Plaskon calmly confessed to the killing just minutes after 16-year-old Maren Sanchez was attacked in a hallway. Witnesses say Sanchez had turned down Plaskon's prom invitation. My all accounts, she was a wonderful, wonderful, wonderful young woman.

ROMANS: A new law in Tennessee could land pregnant women who use drugs in jail. The governor has signed a controversial new law, which makes it a misdemeanor if a woman uses illegal drug that could harm her unborn child. Critics say women with addiction issues, they need treatment, not jail time.

BERMAN: A federal judge is saying no to Wisconsin's photo I.D. requirement for voters. The judge ruling that having to show an I.D. at the polls puts an unfair burden on minorities and the poor. This judge told a state it must seek judicial approval on any changes to the law. At least one state lawmaker called the ruling politically motivated. Wisconsin is planning to appeal.

ROMANS: A controversial regulation over the air you breathe will stand. The Supreme Court ruling 6-2 that the EPA can regulate smog from coal plants if it drifts across state borders. It's being called a major victory for the Obama administration and environmentalists. Opponents say these rules will drive up costs and force some coal plants to shut down.

BERMAN: This morning, the so-called "kissing congressman" is insisting he will not resign. That's despite pleas from House leadership and his own party, telling Louisiana Congressman Vance McAllister that he should step down before his term expires in January. House Majority Leader Eric Cantor has told McAllister he should just give up the seat now. So far, McAllister has only agreed not to seek re-election in November. This after a video resurfaced of the married congressman in a somewhat lengthy lip lock with a married female aide, who is not his wife.

ROMANS: All right. To Rio de Janeiro now, still set to host the next Summer Olympics, despite a scathing assessment -- scathing assessment from the International Olympic Committee. A top leader of that group calling Rio's preparations the worst he's ever seen, with planning critically behind schedule, with construction yet to begin on some venues and the water quality a major concern. In an unprecedented move, the committee is appointing a task force to help speed things up.

BERMAN: It's just gross. They're saying there's sewage in some of the places that have these team kayak races.

ROMANS: They say the second most important building hasn't even been built yet.

BERMAN: The second most important venue, after the Olympic, you know, main Olympic stadium, hasn't been built yet. They should get on that.

ROMANS: Yes. I think their clock's ticking.

BERMAN: Happening now, gunfire in the streets of Ukraine. Pro- Russian demonstrators taking over government buildings and taking aim at anyone who tries to stop them. We're live with the very latest, next.


BERMAN: New developments happening this morning in Ukraine, where pro-Russian militants are now in control of another stretch of that country after seizing another provincial capital and taking over more government buildings. Witnesses say police did little to stop them.

Our Nick Paton Walsh is live in Slovyansk in Ukraine this morning.

Nick, what's the latest you're seeing on the ground there?

NICK PATON WALSH, CNN CORRESPONDENT: John, we're hearing this today of yet another police building being taken over in a town called Horlivka (ph). The self-proclaimed chairman of the Donetsk People's Republic saying that they'll do this against police who are, he says in his words, enemies of the people.

That comes off yesterday's coordinated large-scale move in Lugansk (ph). That's to the east of where I'm standing near, Slovyansk. Lugansk is a completely different region. And that has so far been relatively quiet.

Yesterday, they took over the regional administration, the TV channel. Reports of clashes outside the police station. Lots of people, well- organized and now in control of key points of that city. There seems to be, John, things happening on the ground here at its own timetable. It doesn't seem to be affected by E.U. or White House release of a list of sanctions. And in fact, I spoke to Pushilin and asked him how he feels about being on the European Union's list of sanctioned people. He shrugged it off: "I'm not afraid. I've got no money or property in the European Union. We're carrying on regardless, even saying still they're continuing to hold these European military observers and want to change them for what they refer to as prisoners being held by pro-Kiev authorities here.

Real tension now escalating and the momentum still firmly on the side of pro-Russian militants -- John.

BERMAN: Yes, meanwhile, one town, one city after another falling with very little opposition there to the pro-Russian militants. Our Nick Paton Walsh in Ukraine. Thanks so much.

ROMANS: A deadly day in Syria with bomb attacks and mortar strikes leaving more than 50 people dead in Damascus and homes. The attacks hitting government-controlled areas, and they come just a day after Bashar Assad announced his plans to run for re-election. It's believed more than 150,000 people have now died in the civil war, a civil war that's gone on for more than three years.

BERMAN: Iraq seeing more violence today as that country heads to the polls to choose a new parliament. Security forces on duty at the country's 50,000 polling stations. There are already reports of attacks in Baghdad, Mosul and Kirkuk. That days after dozens were killed in pre-election violence. Some 22 million people are expected to take part in the first major elections since U.S. troops withdrew three years ago.

ROMANS: We now know more about an Italian court's reasons for convicting Amanda Knox again for the murder of her roommate. In a 300-page-plus decision, the appeals court says there is evidence Meredith Kercher was killed by more than one assailant and that she and Knox fought over money the night she died. Knox had an earlier conviction overturned in 2011 but was found guilty again back in January. She's in the U.S. planning an appeal, and she insists she is innocent.

All right. The search for Flight 370. A surprising claim here. Could the jet have gone down far from where anyone is looking right now? A look at the new pictures and what they might show and what the Australian government is saying about it.


ROMANS: Three minutes to the top of the hour, welcome back. We've been reporting a private company says it thinks it may have found the wreckage of Flight 370 or at least something that looks like a jet at the bottom of the Northern Indian Ocean. It's thousands of miles away from the current search zone. Many are skeptical. CNN's Tom Foreman explains why.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE) TOM FOREMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: All the searching above the water has largely been focused on the visible spectrum, the light you can see. Things you can take a photograph of, looking for wreckage, things like that.

What this company is talking about is the things that go beyond that. All sorts of energy that is emitted from all sorts of things out there that are part of the electromagnetic spectrum. Some are them are waves that are shorter than the light you can see. Some of them are longer than the light we can see.

And this company is saying, by looking at this information, they have found things on the ocean floor in this area that were not there before the plane disappeared, but they found there afterward. Things like this, large collections of aluminum in one place, which would resemble the outline of a plane based on what this company is saying. Also titanium in a large amount, also laid out as it might appear in the construction of a plane. Beyond that, there's also some copper out there, which they show as sort of in the same configuration as it might be in the wiring of the plane and even something that is similar to the engine pods, the alloys that are used in that.

Does this prove out to be true? Is this something that science believes in? Well, there are an awful, awful lot of questions.

First of all, many people are saying they don't know what technology could actually read all of this information through the water. These are people who do it for a living. And beyond that, there's a question among the critics of, if this lays out to look like a plane, then that would suggest the plane hit the water and went down intact, which many experts have said from the beginning would be almost impossible with a plane of this size. And secondly, if it did, how come nobody got out? Why were there no life rafts? Why is there no sign of anything, even to this date?

BERMAN: Tom Foreman with the key questions on this story.