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Ukraine Conflict Takes Deadly Turn; Obama, Merkel to Discuss Ukraine; Owners Agree to Move Quickly on Sterling; Interview with Amanda Knox

Aired May 2, 2014 - 08:00   ET



KATE BOLDUAN, CNN ANCHOR: Good morning and welcome once again to NEW DAY.

We're going to begin this hour with what very well may be a tipping point in the Ukraine conflict. Russia saying all hope is gone for a diplomatic deal. The Kremlin making the announcement after two Ukrainian helicopters were shot down during an assault on separatists. Russia saying Ukraine's use of its military is a crime and saying its calls for a national dialogue hypocrisy.

We've got complete coverage for you at this hour, beginning with senior international correspondent Arwa Damon who is in eastern Ukraine.


ARWA DAMON, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Kate, the Ukrainian military retaking nine barricades outside of the key cities of Slaviansk and Kramatorsk in an operation that began in the early hours of the morning.

According to the ministry of defense, two helicopters were shot down. Two officers, military officers, killed, a number of others wounded as well.

The Ukrainian forces at this stage not pushing into the cities that are being held by the pro-Russian militants. A lot of the buildings that are under their control are in residential areas are in the center of the city. Any sort of combat in those areas would see a lot of destruction and a lot of bloodshed. This coming the day after the pro-Russian camp seized yet another building this time where we are in Donetsk, that is the prosecutor's office that has seen fierce clashes. But eventually pro-Russian militants did manage to control the building after they humiliatingly forced riot police off the scene -- Chris, Kate.

CUOMO: It gets worse and worse there, Arwa. Be safe.

Now, President Obama and German Chancellor Angela Merkel are not giving up hope that there's a diplomatic solution. They're going to meet in hours to discuss what can be done in Ukraine.

Let's bring in senior Washington correspondent Joe Johns following this meeting.


JOE JOHNS, CNN SENIOR WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT: Well, Chris, they are meeting at a critical time. Both countries are trying to put pressure on Russian President Vladimir Putin to de-escalate tensions on Ukraine. Though, once again, the Obama administration is finding itself walking something of a diplomatic tightrope. Merkel is Europe's big mediator with Russia and she and Mr. Obama will no doubt discuss more economic sanctions but at some point the question is how much is too much, putting the screws on a major trading partner at some point ceases to be in the interests of the German government.

Germany gets a third of its oil and gas from Russia and some of Germany's best-known companies, Volkswagen for one, have huge stakes in Russia.

So, any type of sanction has a potential economic blowback and it's just a sign of how the west has a limited toolbox in dealing with the situation in Ukraine, Chris.

CUOMO: All right, Joe, thank you very much for the reporting.

Let's bring in CNN military analyst James "Spider" Marks. He's a retired major general and former commanding general of the U.S. Army Intelligence Center.

General, thank you for joining us.

Let's leave the politics aside and deal with the urgency on the ground. What do you believe the situation is? Who is Ukraine fighting? What do you think the stakes are?

MAJ. GEN. JAMES "SPIDER" MARKS (RET), CNN MILITARY ANALYST: Fighting two elements really. You do have pro-Russian separatists that are in east Ukraine, but they're being supported directly, not only in terms of what I would call over-the-horizon support, weapons support, but also they have Russian forces are on the ground instigating this and these are the folks we've seen routinely that have unmarked uniforms and have their face masked.

So, you have professional military forces on the ground in smaller numbers, probably special forces trained, special forces-type operators and you have Russian separatists that really just needed a small spark to get this fire going.

What it requires is patience at this point and discipline on the part of the Ukrainian military. Clearly, the government in Kiev has an obligation, Chris, to ensure that this thing doesn't completely spin out of control. And we're looking at the images right now of what you and I would call chaos.

CUOMO: Yes. MARKS: That has the real potential to spill over and the next image you don't want to see is a bunch of tanks rolling into town crushing a bunch of civilians. So, the Ukrainian military probably has a task that exceeds their capacity right now in terms of skill sets. They probably have the kit. They probably don't have the patience which is exactly what they need.

CUOMO: Now, is this a metaphor some of the footage we're seeing of unarmed people with sticks and stones just taking it to Ukraine forces that have, you know, deflection shields, you know, and full-body armor on and yet they're running away? I mean, is that a metaphor for the fact that Ukraine doesn't have what it takes to deal with this militarily?

MARKS: Well, absolutely. They do have a military. It's not up to what the Russians have certainly.

And clearly the acting president in Kiev, Turchynov, has got to -- I mean, he's got a tough situation right now. He's getting international grief not only from the United States but also from Russia. He's in the middle. And he's doing his best, but his best is not sufficient to this task.

Clearly, they are ill-equipped to handle this appropriately.

CUOMO: Well, this has been a situation that up until now has just been about tension. Now it is about violence and if it continues this way, who knows what's going to happen in terms of the politics.

General Spider Marks, thank you for the perspective. I'm sure we'll be talking about it again. Have a good weekend.

MARKS: Thank you, Chris. You as well.

CUOMO: Kate?

BOLDUAN: All right. Get ready for game seven. Tomorrow night in the Clippers/Warrior play-off series L.A. failed to close out Golden State in game six. Clippers' owner Donald Sterling, he's also facing an elimination of sorts with fellow NBA owners saying that they'll move quickly to oust Sterling from the club over his racist remarks. This comes as an ESPN report says Sterling who is 80 years old has been battling cancer, though, CNN has not independently confirmed this.

Let's get over to Ted Rowlands live in Los Angeles with the very latest. They say they're going to move quickly to kick him out.

How quickly is that, Ted?

TED ROWLANDS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, we'll have to see. The ten- member committee you mentioned voted unanimously, and they'll meet again next week. So, that seems to be moving.

Meanwhile, last night's game was an unbelievable finish, and the drama continues off the court surrounding Donald Sterling and his Clippers.


SPORTS ANNOUNCER: We've got game seven coming up in Los Angeles on Saturday!

ROWLANDS (voice-over): Battling until the buzzer.


ROWLANDS: The Los Angeles Clippers losing in game six by just one point.

TV ANNOUNCER: The Warriors stay alive.

ROWLANDS: The game overshadowed by the black cloud of Donald Sterling, but breaking overnight a new complication. ESPN and "The New York Post" reporting that disgraced owner is battling prostate cancer.

CNN has not been able to confirm, but after the game players said they were not aware that Sterling may have cancer, but expressed their sympathies.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: If that is true, you know, you know, my thoughts and prayers are with him. I mean, nobody deserves to go through something like that.

CHRIS PAUL, L.A. CLIPPERS: Yes, that's the first time ever. That's truly unfortunate.

ROWLANDS: Coach Doc Rivers also reacting to the news.

DOC RIVERS, L.A. CLIPPERS COACH: Didn't know it until just now. You know, I don't have a reaction to that, you know, I hope it's not true.

ROWLANDS: Meanwhile, NBA owners wasting no time in an effort to put a for sale sign on the L.A. Clippers. A ten-member ownership committee held its first meeting Thursday and agreed to move as quickly as possible on the process of terminating Sterling's ownership and planned to reconvene next week.

Amid the backlash of the controversy, the president of the L.A. chapter of the NAACP is stepping down over its since rescinded plans to give a lifetime achievement award to Sterling, saying in a statement that he's resigning in order to, quote, "separate the Los Angeles NAACP and the NAACP from the negative exposure I have caused the NAACP.


ROWLANDS: And "The L.A. Times" is reporting this morning that in 1982 the owners tried to get rid of Donald Sterling in much the same fashion over audiotape that surfaced when Sterling was talking about losing games intentionally. That effort failed. But it looks like this one will be very different -- Michaela.

MICHAELA PEREIRA, CNN ANCHOR: All right, Ted, thanks so much. Game seven, Golden State Warriors and Clippers -- I got to say, go Clips. Just saying.

Let's look at more of your headlines at this hour.

We're learning more this morning by an alleged plot by a Minnesota teen to murder his family and bomb his school. Police say 17-year-old John David LaDue kept a detailed journal outlining his entire principal. He reportedly was an admirer of the Columbine killers. Police allege he was just weeks away from carrying out that plot.

Shocking new findings on sexual assault. Federal investigators say they're looking at 55 colleges and universities to determine whether those schools mishandled assault and harassment complaints. Stunning numbers also from the U.S. military according to the Pentagon reports of sexual assault in the military spiked by an unprecedented 50 percent last year.

Little relief could be on the way at the gas pump. Analysts say prices may be close to peaking ahead of the summer travel season. They cite rising oil production and economic pressures that could force a reversal in the price spikes of recent months. Nationally regular unleaded gas averages about $3.69 a gallon, up about 14 cents from a month ago.

You mean it's going down? What a nice distribution.

BOLDUAN: Don't say it. As soon as we say it.

CUOMO: Summer has a strange way of reversing.

PEREIRA: Isn't that interesting what happened?

CUOMO: Any downward trend. They never gouge.

Coming up on NEW DAY: the new Flight 370 report lays out new information about the plane's final flight. But it's what's missing that has families of the passengers outraged. We'll break it down for you.


BOLDUAN: Welcome back to NEW DAY.

Breaking overnight, Malaysian officials responding to the new report they released, detailing specific information on what led to Flight 370's disappearance or at least as much as they know so far.

But it's what's missing in the report that has led to new frustration from family members of the missing passengers. So, what's in this report and what's not? What more do we need to know?

Let's discuss it with David Soucie, CNN's safety analyst the author of "Why Planes Crash."

So, David, let's high line it for people. DAVID SOUCIE, CNN SAFETY ANALYST: OK.

BOLDUAN: There's a lot in the report and a lot missing, but let's talk about the major things that we know. Let's start with what we actually do know, which came out with this report what was in the cargo, that was a big question. The passenger seating chart, that was -- it's basic information that they're going to hand out.

SOUCIE: Just the facts.

BOLDUAN: Just the facts.


BOLDUAN: How that arc, how that arc north and south was calculated.

SOUCIE: This is important.

BOLDUAN: This gets to the Inmarsat data and those calculations. And also, that leads to the flight path options.

I want to ask you first about the cargo manifest. One thing that came out in it, there was mangosteen, where there's a lot of fruit --

SOUCIE: Mangoes --

BOLDUAN: -- in the cargo as well, but the lithium ion batteries that we know can be dangerous, there's some suggestion in this receipt that we saw that came with the report, that there was something, like, 5,400 pounds of batteries.

SOUCIE: Right.

BOLDUAN: Versus what we originally had suggested is 400 pounds.

SOUCIE: Yes. The magical 5,000 pounds batteries that showed up somehow.

BOLDUAN: Is that typical? I know very little about how much lithium ion batteries should be in the cargo hold of any plane.

SOUCIE: Well, look at it this way in 2010 Flight 3707 crashed because it had lithium batteries. Now, that was a mass quantity of lithium batteries and these are chain reaction-type batteries once they get to a certain temperature and they short out they'll get hot and put off gases that are flammable.

BOLDUAN: Does 5,400 pounds fit into the category of massive cargo?

SOUCIE: Not compared to 3707, but it still is very dangerous. It can be very dangerous. In fact, in the United States, they are not allowed to put that amount of lithium batteries onto a passenger aircraft.

In fact, the FAA thought to take it off completely where they couldn't ship them other than by ground, but what happened is there was a lot of fighting and lobbying by the industries that said, no, we still need to ship them.

BOLDUAN: So, this goes to one possible theory. This fits to the possibility that there could have been a mass mechanical failure or something happened with the plane. That's not the theory that they're working with, though, what went down, what happened with flight 370. That leads us to how the arc was calculated and where it took us.

What do we know now that we didn't? Where does this take us in terms of the arc? And that leads us to this map that we've been talking about.

SOUCIE: Yes. What's so fascinating about what came out in this report is something that was never mentioned before is the 40 degrees.

BOLDUAN: Why is that important? Simplify it for me?

SOUCIE: Because what it does it adds to our ability to put confidence in what they're saying here. To me, I still had questions about some of this stuff. There's some presumptions made not assumptions but presumptions which is kind of dangerous because you don't really have a lot of facts there and you're speculating ahead.

So, I was thinking how did they come up with this spot up here if they had these Malaysian points up here.

BOLDUAN: Yes, go ahead.

SOUCIE: Go with the colors here. That would be great, OK.

So, we have these points here the Malaysian radar. But here, you are 200 miles from where that Malaysian radar was. So, it's not picking it up there. You're assuming it goes to this spot.

BOLDUAN: Real quick before we go to what we don't know. With the data does this offer you more confidence in why they led us down here?

SOUCIE: Absolutely.


SOUCIE: Before this my confidence between one and ten was about at four and I say this because I actually have a mathematical algorithm that I use for this. But now it's up to about an eight.

BOLDUAN: So, it really did jump.

SOUCIE: Significantly.

BOLDUAN: That leads me, let me push you on this. What we do not know. What we did not get in this report. We do not really know the speed and the attitude.

They are assumptions that they plugged in order to get us to the model. The four-hour delay, we don't know why any rescue effort was not initiated for four hours. The raw Inmarsat data we have not seen and also when the phone connected. The phone we were talking about -- let's get to the phone in a second. I want to ask you about the speed and the altitude because this is why I want to push you. How can you be so confident in where we're headed with where they believed the plane ended up if the speed and altitude that they're working with are assumptions?

SOUCIE: Well, they're assumptions within specific ranges, specific known quantities as far as how fast the aircraft can fly and at what altitude and how much fuel is burned at that altitude.

BOLDUAN: They have to make the assumptions because we don't have the data but they do it all the time.

SOUCIE: It's considered an axiom really, something that you don't challenge, because you have to start somewhere in this theory and so you kind of make these things that are unquestioned. We know the speed and altitude as it relates to that aircraft.

BOLDUAN: Why aren't we getting the raw Inmarsat data?

SOUCIE: That's part of the question. But my confidence has gone from a four to an eight with the location. So, this becomes less relative to me because you've added 40-degree mark.

BOLDUAN: Real quick. The phone call. We know the phone of the copilot connected or was searching at some point. This is an example of many of the details that was left out. Does it concern you that they don't have it?

SOUCIE: It concerns me a lot, Kate, and here's why -- if this statement of fact, which is really what the preliminary report is, these are the facts that we know, we've confirmed them and we have 100 percent that they're true. Why isn't that in the report, then? It makes me question.

Did this really happen? Or is it that they left it out of the report? There's not a lot that they left out that they knew.


SOUCIE: So, this makes me question this a lot.

BOLDUAN: It shows us --

SOUCIE: The fact that it was not in the report.

BOLDUAN: The report shows us what we know and it more shows us how much we don't know. And how much, yes, we need to learn a lot more from that. Thanks, what we know, what we don't know. We'll continue to look for it.


CUOMO: All right, Kate.

Coming up on NEW DAY, the April job numbers coming out in just a few minutes. As soon as they're in, we'll bring them to you.

And we're going to hear from Amanda Knox. After these she's still in legal limbo but she's only got one more chance at freedom. How does she answer the latest comments from the judge? There's a lot of discussion going and you'll hear the interview here. And we're going to have a special for you tonight.

So, stay tuned.


CUOMO: Welcome back.

Now to the exclusive interview with Amanda Knox, speaking out for the first time since an Italian appeals court reconvicted her of murder. She's stunned by the reasoning and seems to be choking back emotion. Knox once again denying any role in the killing, completely rejecting the court's shocking new theories, especially that Knox herself is the one who delivered the fatal stab to Meredith Kercher.

Take a listen.


CUOMO: Why do you think that this judge goes further than any other, that not only does he say this is the knife, not only does he say that you had it because of DNA around the bottom of the blade and the hilt, but he believes you were the one that actually killed Meredith Kercher?

AMANDA KNOX, CONVICTED OF MURDER IN ITALY: I believe -- I mean, I can't speculate what this judge's motivations are, personal motivation or otherwise. What I can say is that as this case has progressed, the evidence that the prosecution has claimed exists against me has been proven less and less and less. And all that has happened is that they've filled these holes with speculation.

I -- I did not kill my friend. I did not wield the knife. I had no reason to. I -- I was in the month that we were living together, we were becoming friends. A week before the murder occurred we went out to a classical music concert together. We had never fought.

And the idea -- I mean, he's brought up lots of things, crazy motives.

CUOMO: He doesn't agree with anything that you're saying right now, specific to the relationship, right? This judge believes that this fight was about money and that you stole money from your roommate and that that is what started this violent night. Is there truth to that?

KNOX: Absolutely not. He's getting this from Rudy Guede who is coming up with these things for self interest. And the truth of the matter is, one, I had no criminal record, so I am not the type of person who is going to violently kill someone for any reason.

And furthermore, I -- I had saved up to go to Italy. I was not in need of stealing any money. Unlike Rudy Guede who was a known thief, who was a known burglar, who did this on a regular basis to survive.

And why they would think that I was a thief when in Meredith's own purse there are Rudy Guede's fingerprints. It's based on nothing.

CUOMO: To step through what he sees as the fact pattern of that night and literally it almost as like a yes/no list.