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Desperate Search For Abducted Schoolgirls; Terror Group Threatens To Sell Girls; Deadly Clashes In Eastern Ukraine; Investigators Try to Determine Cause of Circus Accident

Aired May 6, 2014 - 06:00   ET


CHRIS CUOMO, CNN ANCHOR: Your NEW DAY starts right now.

Good morning. Welcome to NEW DAY. It's Tuesday, May 6th, 6:00 in the east. We begin with a story that demands action. Two hundred young girls are missing, kidnapped from their school in Nigeria by Islamic extremists. The head of the al Qaeda affiliate, Boko Haram, is now threatening to sell the girls.

In a new videotape, he refers to them as slaves. A movement is growing online to free them, but the local government seems to be doing too little. Their allegations, they are actually trying to keep this situation quiet. So we have every angle of this developing story covered for you starting with Vladimir Duthiers in Nigeria -- Vladimir.

VLADIMIR DUTHIERS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Chris, this is the parents' worst nightmare realized. They had already feared these girls would be taken into this very remote forested area bordering Cameroon and Nigeria. Now nightmare scenario with the release of the video saying that he will sell these children in a human market because Allah has commanded him to do so.

Let's take a listen how this story first unfolded -- Chris.


DUTHIERS (voice-over): His is the face of terror, the leader of the group, Boko Haram, bragging that he was behind the kidnappings. I abducted your girls, he taunts with a chilling smile. He adds, I will sell them in the market by Allah. Nearly 300 schoolgirls ages 15 to 18 taken at gunpoint from their boarding school in north east Nigeria three weeks ago.

Another malicious attack orchestrated by this violent Jihadist group, which authorities say has terrorized Nigeria since 2009 killing thousands of innocent civilians. The disturbing comments and behavior underscoring their twisted ideology repeatedly calling for the end of western education saying girls, quote, "should go and get married instead of going to school."

Families in anguish, too frightened to speak to the media or share pictures of their daughters fearing retribution.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I'm a young mother. It's shocking.

DUTHIERS: Still unclear, the total number of girls missing whether any have been sold and exactly where they might be. Triggering anger and raising questions about whether the Nigerian government can rescue these girls.

JAY CARNEY, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: This is an outrage and a tragedy and we are doing what we can to assist the Nigerian government to support its efforts to find and free the young women who were abducted.


DUTHIERS: The act of terror igniting outrage. Protesters taking to the streets. The hashtag, #bringbackourgirls have gone viral online galvanizing global support with famous faces calling for immediate action.


DUTHIERS: As you can imagine, these parents are in utter agony. Their worst fears realized. They have said to us they themselves have tried to arm themselves with rocks, stones, anything they could to go themselves risking their own lives to bring back their daughters and now it looks like their daughters may be out of their grasp -- Kate.

KATE BOLDUAN, CNN ANCHOR: It's unimaginable, Vlad, thank you very much. The president of Nigeria is vowing to bring the girls back, but families of these girls say the government is not doing enough. Let's continue our coverage with Isha Sesay in Nigeria's capital city of Abuja -- Isha.

ISHA SESAY, CNN CORRESPONDENT: The outrage grows every day. Nigerians are asking, what is their government doing? Where are the details of the search and rescue operation? There was an information blackout here in this country with little to no information being shared as to what was being done to find these girls. On Sunday the president making his first on-camera statements about this matter saying the government is doing all they can saying they are using helicopters.

What number of troops are being dedicated to the mission? What proportion of the area has been combed? What leads have they followed up? So many unanswered questions. People here in Nigeria, it's created a sense of mistrust and they are saying that the government needs to ask for help. International assistance so they can move this along.

We spoke to the finance minister yesterday. She admitted they need international help and she's asking for it, telling us they will be reaching out. We know the U.S. government said they will aid Nigeria in this time of need. This is a desperate situation and it's not just a matter of the fact that these girls have gone missing.

I want to stress to you that this group has been in ports of Northern Nigeria here, but they have committed acts of terror in the capital. So there's are growing sense that what happened in the north could happen to people here in the capital who knows who will be next -- Chris.

CUOMO: All right, thank you for the reporting. There's a lot of talk going on right now and not enough action. Let's bring in somebody from Washington to help move the ball forward. Nicole Lee, she is a human rights expert what Trans Africa.

Nicole, thank you very much for joining us. First basic question, is the Nigerian government doing what it needs to do and if not, why?

NICOLE LEE, OUTGOING PRESIDENT, TRANSAFRICA: The people of Nigeria feel they are not going what they need to do. We have been hearing reports of intimidation of family members, but also activists who have come to the aid of the families to protest the lack of support from the Nigerian government. There are reports of arrests. We have heard that the first lady who has no constitutional authority whatsoever in Nigeria has been intimidating folks. Even here in Washington, Nigerian-Americans have been saying they have been told not to protest, not go to out, because that will harm the girls.

CUOMO: So explain this to me because this is not going to make sense to people. We're talking about the first lady, the reports are saying you're embarrassing the country if you protest. You're embarrassing the country if you beg for your children back. Do you believe those reports?

LEE: I do believe the reports because we're hearing them from all over, from credible sources. Certainly the families just want their girls back so there's no reason for them not to tell the truth. One of the things we have to realize is tomorrow in Nigeria becomes the world economic forum Africa. So Nigeria is in a situation where they want to be seen as a world leader. They don't want to be seen through this lens of terrorism. But they are going about it the wrong way.

World attention is not going to stop until we see tangible results of even just the investigation beginning to find these girls. And I believe that at this point, the world community, if not all the leaders around the world, are really behind these families and really are going to look for results before they kind of back down from protesting.

CUOMO: Well, let's test that a little bit, Nicole. It's a well- placed intention that you have, but this happened April 14th. And I would venture to guess if it happened in Paris, I would probably be there wondering when the U.S. force is going to show up with the girls. Is there a little Africa bias going on here?

LEE: Absolutely. If this happened in Chicago, it would be 24-hour news coverage from beginning to end. The truth of the matter is our imagery and our minds about Africa allows us to kind of see something like this and say this doesn't have anything to do with us. I do think the social media campaign, the idea of bringing back our girls, these are the world's girls now. These are schoolgirls in any part of our globe. So all of us can take ownership of the situation. That's what's really pushing the ball forward. CUOMO: What's the best information on the ground about the intentions of this man saying he's going to sell them? Is there any information about whether these threats have been made into efforts? Anyone who is watching the internet sites? Do we know anything about that?

LEE: Right now it's very difficult to tell whether these are empty and idol threats or real threats. We do know they are increasing their terror campaign in Nigeria all over the country. Certainly we know that human trafficking is a problem in Nigeria. Many groups are involved many human trafficking. I think the worst nightmare of the families are coming to fruition. The question is what is the international community going to do to find all girls that are being trafficked in Nigeria.

CUOMO: Almost a forgotten story is that human trafficking continues. It's a modern slave trade. It happens here in the United States with U.S. kids. But context, almost 300 kids taken, very vulnerable age because they are going to be considered full grown women there. Last question, the U.S. is saying the typical thing. This is outrageous and tragic and must stop. Is there proof we are doing the right thing? Is the U.S. doing what it needs to do? If not, let's call them out and start the pressure.

LEE: We're glad to hear Secretary Kerry say this is a horrible thing. The question is what is tangibly being done. Activists here in the United States and just regular people in the United States want to see that tangible action and that's why there are still protests being planned. There's one here today in Washington. So we're going to keep the pressure up. Tangible results must be seen from governments on all sides.

CUOMO: All right, do me a favor keep us in the loop on what you learn about the situation on the ground and how we can press with the right questions because the more information we have, the better we can help out. Nicole Lee, thank you very much -- Kate.

BOLDUAN: Let's turn now for more concerning signs this morning. Ukraine could be headed for an all out conflict. There are deadly clashes, troops lining up to protect key areas from separatists. The violence forcing a major airport in Ukraine to shut down. Now a new poll shows Americans are overwhelmingly against U.S. military intervention right now. Let's get the very latest from Arwa Damon who is on the ground live in Ukraine this morning -- Arwa.

ARWA DAMON, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Good morning, and we're at the Donetsk International Airport this morning, an announcement it was shut down. Now it's open to a handful of domestic flights. It's just an example of how chaotic the situation is becoming as the conflict grows more dangerous.


DAMON (voice-over): The city now the major flash point in the battle for Eastern Ukraine. Government troops trying to force their way into the city, which is being held by pro-Russian separatists. Civilians caught in the middle of it all. A woman was shot in the head, her husband raced her to the hospital. She did not survive. Militants blamed Ukrainian forces for the civilian casualties.

Throughout the eastern part of the country, the violence is growing. A Ukrainian helicopter was shot down. This is the Ukrainian government's strongest effort yet to clear out the separatists, but it's showing very little success. Russia, which is accused of fanning the flames of rebellion, instead blame it on Ukraine calling them to stop using armed forces against its own people.


DAMON: Michaela, what is making all of this more potentially volatile is the fact that there seems to be absolutely no progress towards any sort of political negotiation. Those separatists groups intend to go ahead with their May 11th referendum.

PEREIRA: Arwa Damon, with the latest on Ukraine. Thank you so much for keeping an eye on that situation there.

Now a look at more of your headlines at this hour. In just a couple hours' time, the White House is going to release a landmark report on climate change. One that's meant to be the definitive account of the effects of global warming on the day today lives of Americans. Jim Acosta is live at the White House with details for us.

JIM ACOSTA, CNN SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Good morning. That's right, the White House is warning that the nation's weather is about to get worse as a result of climate change. The warnings coming in a report that's due out in a couple hours from now. The report is expected to announce, you can see it on screen, that we'll be seeing warming temperatures, rising sea levels, increased risk of wildfires as a result of climate change.

The White House really wants the public to see this from a local perspective so they will be breaking down some of the local consequences region by region. The president is also going to be sitting down for a series of interviews with meteorologists are coming in from all over the country to talk to the president here at the White House.

We should point out this is a pretty tricky balancing act. Officials are saying they are going to take action when it comes to climate change. They are also touting oil and gas production many this country. While that's going on, the administration is taking its time when it comes to approving that controversial Keystone oil pipeline project.

A lot of endangered red state Democrats are worried they are up for re-election. They want to see the keystone pipeline project approved. You'll see the president talking about that as well I would suspect over the coming hours of this day. We should point out that Republicans are saying that, the president had a Democratic Congress during his administration.

He hasn't really gotten climate change legislation passed. Democrats say that's because Republicans have been stalling those efforts. A lot of big midterm implications when it comes to this issue heading into this midterm election cycle. Guys, back to you.

MICHAELA PERIERA, CNN ANCHOR: All right, Jim, that report coming out at 8:30. CNN will be watching that it. Thanks so much for that.

To South Korea, a diver has died while searching for bodies in the sunken ferry off South Korea. Officials say the diver had some sort of trouble with his oxygen supply some 5 minutes into his first dive. Other divers weren't able to resuscitate him, 35 people remain missing in the ferry disaster. More than 267 bodies have been recovered.

Federal officials telling CNN that a cold war era spy plane was behind the air traffic control shutdown in Los Angeles. An FAA computer system was fooled by U2 spy plane high altitude and then reacted as if it was flying much lower into much more crowded airspace. The hour long shutdown caused dozens of flights to be delayed, diverted and canceled at LAX. Always a problem when there's a diversion at lax.

Let's talk weather, because w know that also can effect flights. How is it looking out there?

INDRA PETERSONS, CNN METEOROLOGIST: Good today, but that is going to change very quickly Michaela. We are talking about a chance of severe weather again by the middle of the week. Let's talk about the setup first today. Into the northeast, kind of mild. You notice the temperatures pretty mild out there in the pacific northwest. But it's smack in the middle of the country we're starting to see the heat build and that will be a problem as we go in through tomorrow.

Out in D.C. this morning, you'll see some showers for the morning commute. Not a big system. It's what's behind it and starting to set up that they are really going to have to start looking at over the next several days. Red flag warnings, very dry. That's a concern out towards Oklahoma city where they are trying to battle the wildfires. And temperatures again today expected to be record breaking. The heat is building. The jet stream still lifting farther to the north. Temperatures in Chicago, enjoy it today. By tomorrow, it's not going to feel good. You are going to see temperatures rise as well.

So here we go. The set up I have been talking about. The cold air in the pacific northwest is going to clash with the record-breaking heat in the middle of the country. This sets up the threat for severe weather again through tomorrow and Thursday as the system slides across. That's going to be the big concern over the next several days. Then eventually we will begin to see some scattered showers into the northeast by the second half of the week. Nothing like what they are expecting in the middle of the country. We saw this last week. Definitely something to pay attention to as we head into tomorrow.

PEREIRA: Thanks so much.

CUOMO: I don't like the look of the map.

Coming up on NEW DAY, so now what? The hunt for flight 370, they are going back to the drawing board. But they are sticking to their assumptions about the current location. Is that a mistake? We have answers ahead.

BOLDUAN: Plus investigators know now a small piece of equipment is to blame for a terrifying circus accident. What caused it to fail? We're going to be live with the details just ahead.


BOLDUAN: Welcome back, investigators now say a single piece of equipment is to blame for that horrible Ringling Brothers circus accident that sent nine performers to the hospital Sunday. Eight remain there this morning as officials try to determine what caused the five-inch steel clamp to give way. Jean Casarez is joining us now with much more. Jean what is the latest?

JEAN CASAREZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT: You know Kate, 11 people were injured when equipment failure caused a circus act to go horribly wrong in Rhode Island over the weekend. New details are emerging as to what caused this horrific accident, and what is being done to make sure it never happens again. We do want to warn you, the video of the accident is disturbing.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: They didn't expect their equipment to fail.

CASAREZ: But something did fail causing performers of the Ringling Brothers Medeiros hair hang act to plummet 25 to 35 feet to the ground on Sunday. Eight women who performed acrobatics as a human chandelier along with one dancer on the ground were hurt with multiple compound fractures, including head and internal injuries. The occupational safety and health administration says it is far too early to say what happened, but state investigators have determined a steel connection point made to hold 10,000 pounds just snapped.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: A d-shaped metal ring that has a gate that opens and closes and allows you to connect two other pieces of equipment, that carabiner failed. It was a single piece of equipment that failed.

CASAREZ: Licensing regulations do not require any state inspections. Last year in Las Vegas, a performer with Cirque du Soleil fell to her death during a show at the MGM Grand. Similar to the one seen here. In October OSHA cited the circus and the venue for violations. OSHA tells CNN they require that a competent person selected by the employer must recognize potential hazards and make corrections before every performance. A circus spokesman says that was done.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We have an entire safety crew that's dedicated to traveling to all our units to make sure that steps are taken. All our equipment is inspected each and every time we load into a new arena.

CASAREZ: OSHA says one of the things they will look at in this investigation is whether there should be more. OSHA says, we will provide a safe workplace for all Americans. If it involves more regulations, that is important. After canceling all the remaining Rhode Island performances, the circus will move on to Hartford, Connecticut, May 8th. According to a circus spokesperson none of those performances will include the hair hang act.

BOLDUAN: All right Jean, thank you for that update.

CUOMO: The L.A. Clippers, they play game one against the Thunder in Oklahoma city and they win big. They call that a statement game when you do that. Andy Schultz joining us with the highlights in this mornings "Bleacher Report". The word statement, Andy, obviously meaning a lot more because this is the Clippers.

ANDY SCHULTZ, CNN SPORTS CORRESPONDENT: Yes, certainly right Chris. Home court advantage, continues to be nothing in this years playoffs. The Clippers go to Oklahoma city and put a beat-down on the Thunder. Star point guard Chris Paul usually doesn't shoot many three-pointers, he was just raining them down. He had a career high eight in the game, six coming in the first half. The Clippers run away with this one, winning 122-105.

Trending this morning, Pacers center Roy Hibbert did it again. The all-star center scored zero points and zero rebounds in last night's game one lose to the Wizards. Hibbert's teammates not happy with him afterwards saying he has to be a part of the fight. Two more playoff games tonight on TNT. Nets and Heat get things going at 7 eastern followed by the Blazers at the Spurs.

The NFL draft is not until Thursday night, but the Philadelphia Eagles may have already added a difference maker this week. The team announced they have signed U.S. Army ranger Alejandro Villanueva to a free agent contract. The former army wide receiver served three tours in Afghanistan and was recently promoted to captain. He said if he didn't sign with a team he was going to go back to Afghanistan for a fourth tour. He hasn't played organized football since 2009 but he said he stayed sharp playing HLZ football.

That means helicopter landing zone football. They used to play that in Afghanistan, and sometimes would even hear shots fired and have to hit the deck while they were playing. Good for him, I'm glad to see him get his shot in the NFL. I really hope he's successful.

BOLDUAN: Absolutely, well deserved. Andy, thank you. That's pretty cool.

CUOMO: If you want somebody who is hard and is going to be tested under pressure, you take a soldier over an athlete ten times out of ten.

BOLDUAN: I would say so.

Coming up next on NEW DAY, the next phase of the search for flight 370 is going to take a lot of time and a lot more money. Were the last two months of searching a waste of both? We could find out in a critical meeting tomorrow. We'll break it down for you come coming up.