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@THISHOUR WITH BERMAN AND MICHAELA

Australia, China, Malaysia Meet on Search for MH370; Students Hold NFL-Style Prom Draft; Update on Rob Ford Rehab; Stars Boycott Hotel

Aired May 7, 2014 - 11:30   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


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DANICA WELLS, WIFE OF FLIGHT 370 PASSENGER: Things have gotten worse. It's gotten harder as time has gone on. To be honest, I was confident they were going to find it in this high priority search area. Obviously they haven't. I've been preparing emotionally and physically too. I'm preparing a memorial. Now that they haven't found anything, I'm back to day one.

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MICHAELA PEREIRA, CNN ANCHOR: Imagine that emotional roller coaster. Her husband, Paul, is one of 239 people who vanished aboard flight 370. Officials from Australia, China, Malaysia are due to meet today plotting out the next phase of the search. It's expected to focus on the sea floor. They want to map that. Despite challenges, a new CNN/ORC poll shows that a majority of Americans think the hunt should continue. 69 percent think it should.

Let's bring in our aviation analyst, Mary Schiavo; our safety analyst, David Soucie, author of "Why things crash." Mary is with us via Skype. David Soucie is here.

It's interesting to see 70 percent of the people say the search should continue. Mary, just more than half say that we may never know what happened to this plane. What do you make of that?

MARY SCHIAVO, CNN AVIATION ANCHOR; I think that Americans are just so used to the NTSB finding the plane crash and getting on the scene and getting the information and while sometimes it takes a long time to find out the causes and make recommendations and in some cases as long as four years, TW800 remained a mystery for four years, they get a cause and recommendations and because here there's no plane, people are worried that we just will never be able to find the plane or find out what happened.

PEREIRA: You know, it's interesting. The Malaysian government has gotten heat, David, for how they handled the investigation and crisis. If we look at the poll results, only about a quarter of the respondents in the new poll say that Malaysians have done a good job.

DAVID SOUCIE, CNN SAFETY ANALYST: That's not surprising at all. I share that opinion as well. A good job, maybe they got a --

(CROSSTALK)

PEREIRA: It's a tough job. We will not disagree with that.

SOUCIE: It's not that they've done a bad job or botched the investigation, it's the communication. You have to let people know what's going on. We have family assistance act here. That tells you that you have to take time. It forces investigators to take time to do it and in my investigations we do a weekly report. Every time there's something, we do a weekly report and tell people. Especially the families even if you meet them in the room and show them that you're human. Let's do that. That's what's missing.

PEREIRA: One would hope those mistakes wouldn't be made next time. These are among some of the discussions one would hope when the officials meet today and they'll discuss this next phase.

And I'll ask you, Mary, and put it to David as well, what should their game plan be? More resources. An idea of what money will be. What else do you think should be part of their game plan?

SCHIAVO: I think they need to narrow their focus and then stick to it. The report that the plane might be in the Bay of Bengal and it was great that Bangladesh went to look for it. Every day. And I'm sure David gets them too. You get dozens of theories on where the plane is. They have to stick with their best information and the only information is where they are searching. That's really all there is. That's all they have to search. Put the plan in place to do that and stay the course. That's what they have to do because if there's more and more distractions, this will be expended out over months and then the issue with the cost is very important too because you can't just ask the U.S. government to put millions on the table because we have to appropriate it. Agencies can't just give you money because of the Anti-Deficiency Act if you use money and government for something else.

PEREIRA: It makes you wonder how long they can actually carry on because that cost runs up every day.

David, what is on your wish list?

SOUCIE: The fact that they are in Canberra is very important. They'll talk about money. No doubt about it. They're there for a reason. When they make a decision, they can move forward with funding and get it moving forward. I hope Australia steps up to the plate and say I want the whole investigation and not just the search. We'll see how that works.

PEREIRA: What an interesting idea. We'll see what happens. We'll watch to see what comes out of this.

David and Mary, as always, really great to have you both here.

We want folks at home to keep asking us questions. Tweet questions to us. We haven't nagged you about the hash tag for a while. We're on Facebook. Ask those questions. We want to generate more conversation about this.

In eastern Ukraine, the bloody battle pitting Ukrainian forces against pro-Russian rebels is getting worse. Five pro-Russian separatists were killed. 15 others were detained. This violence comes as Ukrainian forces try to regain control of some of the administrative buildings seized by separatists.

Charlie Crist is speaking about his, quote, "big reason for leaving the GOP." He says too many Republicans oppose President Obama because he's black. He says, quote, "I couldn't be consistent with myself and my core beliefs and stay with a party that was so unfriendly toward the African-American president. I'll just go there. I was a Republican. I saw the activist and what they were doing. It was intolerable to me." Republicans say the former Florida governor is playing the race card.

Clay Aiken continues to hold a slim lead is in his bid for Congress in North Carolina.

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PEREIRA: The "American idol" star turned Congressional hopeful has almost 41 percent of the vote. His opponent 39 percent. A slim margin. If that holds up, he'll exceed the threshold needed to avoid a runoff. He told supporters he was confident his campaign would be victorious. Quote, "I said earlier tonight, I preferred when they just opened the envelope," referring to his days on the "American Idol" stage. That would be a different kind of election, wouldn't it?

Coming up, sweaty hands and a bundle of nerves. That's what usually a person experiences when they ask someone out especially for prom but at one high school in California students are selecting prom dates like it was an NFL draft. We'll update you on that ahead.

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PEREIRA: Remember your prom night? Remember that? Sweaty palms, the whole nerves trying to get the hair just right. Prom night is meant to be a big night for high school students. A couple of kids who happen to like each other and their friends go to the dance together. We stress like and friends because in California, at a high school, there it is allegedly turned into an NFL-style draft where boys pay to get a better pick of girls of their choice. Boys gathered at a clubhouse to make their selections. Tweeting comments like this: "Many drafters on the prowl tomorrow for free agents so dress nice ladies."

Most parents are not pleased. The girls in the school seem to think it's kind of a harmless joke.

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VIVIAN ROWE, PARENT: If they treat women this way at this age, what will they do then when they are of legal age?

VERONICA VAROL, STUDENT: It's just an organized way of doing it. I don't think it's anything like that.

ADRIANNIA CREMO, STUDENT: It's supposed to be a funny thing that guys are doing and I don't think that girls are really being affected by it.

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PEREIRA: That's the part that I think might grab some people's attention. Girls are not being affected by it.

Let's bring in psychotherapist, Robi Ludwig.

When you hear someone say that?

ROBI LUDWIG, PSYCHOTHERAPIST: My thought is they are buying into being objectified and they don't realize it because they link being successful with being pretty. If the story was reverse and there was a draft based on good-looking guys, we wouldn't feel this strong about it. Men aren't powerful if they're beautiful. They're powerful if they're successful.

PEREIRA: Remember the days where they would have bachelor auctions. Have we evolved past that now and kids aren't getting the message?

LUDWIG: This story underscores there's a reality here that there is something to being beautiful as a girl and that does increase your chances in some cases of being liked especially for younger kids. It's linked with money brings up feelings of a paid escort --

(CROSSTALK)

LUDWIG: -- and that's disturbing. These boys are immature. I'm not making it OK. I don't think it's OK. I would be upset if my son and his friends were doing this. It's a byproduct of how they engage in sports and athletics. These are immature kids. Think about it. If you win this, whatever, pretty girl, you don't have to ask her out on a date. It's automatic.

PEREIRA: And then it also speaks to the fact that you will have two people that likely don't know each other going to prom.

LUDWIG: It would be awkward.

PEREIRA: The prom is awkward to begin with. That makes it even more awkward.

I have to tell you -- and we reached out to the school and we have a comment from them. I want to make sure to get in. I feel this is a really great teaching moment. I don't want to do too much finger wagging because we were all kids. This is a great teaching moment if they got the boys together and explained why this isn't a good way to look at women and help them understand that women are their equals. And if you got a great teacher to talk to young girls, don't you think it could make a great impact on them?

LUDWIG: We need to educate the women that think it's funny and OK. I agree with you. The principal should come out. This is unacceptable. Anyone who engages in this will not be allowed to attend the prom and teach why it's so important to treat people as more than superficially how they look.

PEREIRA: Let's look at the comment we got. We did reach out to school officials. They said they are not commenting at this time but sent us this e-mail. The principal said -- it was sent to the parents. "I'm sure the intention of this draft is not to be harmful but it may be. It's not OK for any student to be judged or objectified in any way"

LUDWIG: Here's the teaching moment. Even if you don't intend to be harmful, you can still be harmful. You can still upset the girl who is not part of the draft.

PEREIRA: We know that it can be hurtful and harmful if you aren't asked to prom. This does take it to a new level. You have been so valuable to us once again today.

Robi Ludwig, you have been so valuable for us. Once again, thank you.

LUDWIG: Oh, thanks for having me. Great stories.

PEREIRA: Really great stories.

Ahead at this hour, how is the most infamous mayor in North America liking rehab? We have a Rob Ford update for you. A bit of a doozy.

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ROB FORD, MAYOR OF TORONTO: I do not use crack cocaine nor am I an addict of crack cocaine. I'm not stepping down. I am not an alcoholic. I'm not a drug addict. I admitted to my mistakes and I said it would not happen again and it's never happened again at the Air Canada Center.

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PEREIRA: Those are some of Toronto Mayor Rob Ford's denials over the last year. He said over and over again that he's not addicted to any substance, crack at least. He apparently is enjoying rehab. Take a look at what he told "The Toronto Sun." Quote, Rehab is amazing. Reminds me of football camp like the Washington Redskins camp I went to as a kid."

Mayor Ford went to Redskins camp. I didn't know that.

Joe Warmington did the interview and he joins us right now from Toronto.

A pleasure to have you here, my friend, to talk to you about this. You had a chance to speak with the mayor yesterday. How did he sound? How did he seem to you?

JOE WARMINGTON, CORRESPONDENT, TORONTO SUN: He did sound tired but certainly was talking in an upbeat way and you can see by the quotes that for a guy that's purportedly in rehab, you don't hear it often but he seems to be enjoying it.

PEREIRA: Purportedly, interesting word you use. Why do you say that?

WARMINGTON: I don't have any verification that he's in rehab. I am a naive soul. I'm taking him at face value. The only thing missing was I did not have sexual relations with that woman. So that may be one he's OK on.

PEREIRA: Fair enough, Joe, because the fact is, he said a lot of things in the last while. He did mention he's stepping away --

WARMINGTON: But he's an addict. He's an addict.

PEREIRA: He is an addict. He's stepping away, but he is still staying in the race and still doing political stuff. Is that what he said to you?

WARMINGTON: Yeah, he says he's going to be in the race for sure. And he believes he can win it. I don't think that there's any question he can still win it, which is the big problem for the people that want him out of their. There's all kinds of reasons even before all this to want him out of there. But he has his supporters. The worst poll he's had was 26 percent. With six or seven strong candidates in the race, that puts him right up there amongst the leaders. Him coming out of this rehab center or whatever it is, you know, he is somewhere getting treatment.

The other thing, Michaela, is he's there voluntarily, he's not in jail. People are saying around here and around the world really this doesn't sound right, and all these kinds of things. It may not be. But the re reality is, he's free to do what he wants to do. The court didn't order him to go. He voluntarily went.

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PEREIRA: I wanted to ask you about that, Joe. Often, from what I know of rehab, you're there to get away from the things that contribute to your addiction. To sort of take a step away from the things that lead you to abuse and you have to be serious and you have to want to stick to it. Did you get the sense he's taking this seriously, taking his recovery seriously?

WARMINGTON: Only he knows for sure. But he certainly indicated to me he is. I've talked to him many times over the years. What I heard is a guy who's taking it seriously. He talked all about the kinds of things they're doing. These groups of eight. They break it down smaller. There's one-on-one treatment as well. He's in this group. He's pretty impressed with the people that are in rehab with him. Excited about it. There's two doctors, a CEO, professional athlete, all kinds of other community kind of people. So I think he's really enjoying that. He's not a big shot in there. And so, you know, that's what he indicated to me.

I know him a little bit. And I do think that he legitimately is enjoying the opportunity to do something like this, because it's been on his mind. As he said in the column that you can read on torontosun.com, he either has to deal with it, die, or continue covering it up. The covering it up wasn't working. I talked to him about that. We're the ones that kind of brought out the video that put him into rehab. He said he was already going to go in anyway that day. Because when I talked to him last week, he sounded like death warmed over. It was really rough. It's pretty obvious that, you know, he had to do something.

PEREIRA: We're hoping he's getting the help he does need, we certainly do.

Joe, Warmington, with the "Toronto Sun," thanks for your great work on this and talking to us about it.

WARMINGTON: Thanks for having me.

PEREIRA: Still to come at this hour, stars boycotting the Beverly Hills Hotel as part of a protest against Sharia Law halfway around the world.

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PEREIRA: Certainly a long way from southern California to Brunei but big name stars are hoping their voices will be heard. The small Muslim nation on the South China Sea has adopted Sharia Law with its flogging and stoning punishments. Protester are setting their sights on the Beverly Hills hotel, which is tied to the Brunei sultan.

Kyung Lah has the story for us.

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KYUNG LAH, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Beverly Hills Hotel employees packing a city council meeting, pleading members to not pass a resolution condemning the laws of a country half a world away.

ANNA ROMER, BEVERLY HILLS HOTEL EMPLOYEE: It strangles our livelihood. It causes us to be unable to support our children, our families, my sick grandmother in Vietnam.

LAH: But the pleas fail to stop it from passing.

UNIDENTIFIED COUNCIL MEMBER: With tremendous honor, yes.

LAH: The Beverly Hills city council resolution targets this man, the sultan of Brunei, a small Southeast Asian country. Brunei recently enacted new Islamic Sharia Law that punishes adultery, abortions and same-sex relationships with flogging and stoning. The sultan is reportedly worth more than $20 billion, and has invested in the hotel chain that owns the storied Beverly Hills Hotel.

UNIDENTIFIED ACTOR: Maybe people will just become aware.

LAH: Celebrities now vowing to boycott the iconic hotel and the entire chain. Richard Branson tweeting, "No virgin employee nor our family will stay at the Dorchester Hotels until the sultan abides by basic human rights."

JAY LENO, COMEDIAN: It's all economic. How big an economic impact will it have? Let's find out and see.

LAH: The hotel says the boycott has already cost it more than $1 million but will try to avoid layoffs.

CHRISTOPHER DOWDRAY, CEO, DORCHESTER COLLECTION: It's going to hurt our employees. And they have -- this is nothing to do with them whatsoever.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: -- everybody who's turned out --

LAH: Jay Leno's wife believes ostracizing the chain is the only potent action capable of getting the ruler to rethink his law.

MAVIS LENO, WIFE OF JAY LENO: As hard as it is perhaps on the hotels that are being shunned, it's a little bit harder to be executed in a public square and stoned to death.

LAH: Kyung Lah, CNN, Beverly Hills, California.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

PEREIRA: Thanks for telling that story, Kyung Lah.

I want to end on a really touching note. Oklahoma City Thunder star, Kevin Durant, accepting his first NBA MVP award last night. As he thanked his teammates by name. But it's what got me is how he talked about mom.

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KEVIN DURANT, OKLAHOMA CITY THUNDER PLAYER: We weren't supposed to be here. You made us believe. You kept us off the street. Put clothes on our backs, food on the table. When you didn't eat, you made sure we ate. You went to sleep hungry. You sacrificed for us. You're the real MVP.

(APPLAUSE)

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PEREIRA: A perfect reminder, Mother's Day is this weekend. Do your mother proud. And of course tonight -- or tomorrow night is game two of the Western Conference semifinal, the Thunder take on my Los Angeles Clippers.

Hey, thanks for watching at this hour. I'm Michaela Pereira. "LEGAL VIEW" starts right now.