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EARLY START

More Girl Abducted in Nigeria; Fighting in Ukraine Leaves Dozens Dead; Family Anguish Grows on Flight 370 Search

Aired May 7, 2014 - 04:00   ET

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


POPPY HARLOW, CNN ANCHOR: Terror in Nigeria. More young girls kidnapped, threatened to be sold to the highest bidder. Hundreds of children abducted and the desperate search to bring them back continues.

We are live in Nigeria with very the latest.

DEBORAH FEYERICK, CNN ANCHOR: Crisis in Ukraine escalating this morning. Deadly fights in the streets between soldiers and pro- Russian protesters. An election to elect a leader fast approaching as the country moves further into chaos.

We are live in Ukraine with what's happening right now.

HARLOW: Also this morning, a new phase beginning in the search for missing Malaysia Airline Flight 370. Investigators meeting today to figure out what comes next in the hunt for that missing jetliner. We'll take you live to Malaysia with the latest developments on that.

Good morning, everyone. Welcome to EARLY START. I'm Poppy Harlow.

FEYERICK: And I'm Deborah Feyerick, it is Wednesday, May 7th, 4:00 a.m. here in the East.

We begin in Nigeria where there are chilling new developments. A group of armed terrorists abducting at least eight more girls. As the world demands Nigeria do more to track down more than 200 girls kidnapped from their school and already held for weeks.

Now the U.S. is adding more tools to the search. President Obama insisting Boko Haram must be stopped.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Obviously what's happening is awful. And as a father of two girls, I can't imagine what the parents are going through. But this organization, Boko Haram, has been one of the worst regional or local terrorist organizations in the world. We've long sought to work with Nigeria on dealing with them. And we're going to do everything we can to assist them in recovering these young women.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

FEYERICK: So the U.S. is sending in a team of military law enforcement and other experts. But is it enough three weeks after these girls were kidnapped and before they are sold?

Vladimir Duthiers is live in Abuja, Nigeria.

Vladimir, first of all, have you seen any sort of evidence on the ground that there is a move to find these girls?

VLADIMIR DUTHIERS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Deborah, we have heard from the military and they have said that they are on a search and rescue mission to bring these girls home. But you heard President Obama say in that sound bite that he can't imagine what parents must be going through.

Well, we had an opportunity to speak to parents of two young girls who were taken during that abduction on the 14th when armed attackers stormed their dormitory while they were sleeping. The pain, the suffering that these parents are going through is something that you or I should never have to imagine.

And when it came to the question as to whether or not there was some kind of effort by the military to find these 200 girls, here is what the father had to tell us.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I have never seen such a thing. When I'm hearing this over the media even, it provokes me. That the federal government or the rulers are playing with we parents. They are looking at us as we are fools. Had it been there is military men who went into the bush to rescue our daughters we would have to see them.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

DUTHIERS: He's essentially saying there, Deborah, he hasn't seen anything. In fact, what he told me is that he and his -- the villagers in his neighborhood have gone into the bush themselves, armed with bows and arrows. That's all they have to rescue, in any way they can, these young girls that have been taken so far unsuccessful -- Deborah.

FEYERICK: Yes. And when you think about this, these young girls are either going to be sold as child brides or used as sex slaves. The men who took them, the militants, they are traveling in huge convoys. Why hasn't there been either any air reconnaissance, any sort of move by the military especially since there are reports that they may be moving either to Chad or Cameroon?

DUTHIERS: It's a good question. The military has, for the most part, remained fairly silent on this. They haven't done a lot of press conferences, in fact, they haven't done any. What they have done mostly is release statements to the press. In fact, what they did, the last statement we received from them, they kicked it back to the local government in Borno State saying that these are the guys that we should be talking to, to find out updates about what's going on.

But when we talk to the parents, these are not the only parents that we spoke to. When we talk to other parents they say, so far, they have seen nothing, nothing at all to let them believe that there is any kind of military underway to find their daughters. In fact they say that they've been left behind. A father told me yesterday they feel neglected -- Deborah.

FEYERICK: Just incredible what these parents are suffering through. One of the village leaders called it a medieval kind of slavery. And you just have to wonder what this does to Nigeria and even to Nigeria a sense of sort of identity given it's one of the most populous nations in Africa.

DUTHIERS: Yes. I mean, this is -- we're in the midst of the World Economic Forum in Africa. It just (INAUDIBLE) its economy to become the largest in Africa. They really want to be seen as a leader on the world stage. They'd like to be part of the U.N. Security Council. But with security issues like this, in their own country, Boko Haram, this vicious militant group, has been so far responsible, Deborah, for killing 1500 people in this country in the first three months of this year alone. Any other country in the world where something like that happened, that country would be at a standstill. Not like that in Nigeria -- Deborah.

FEYERICK: All right, Vladimir, thank you so much. We'll check in with you a little later on this morning. Thanks.

HARLOW: In Ukraine this morning, there is a new plea from some joining the fight against pro-Russian separatists. Some leaders are begging volunteers to form their own self-defense militias. As the military battle those separatists in the east, that as the acting president appointed a new army leader and fired the person in charge in Odessa where violence has flared.

Let's go straight to Atika Shubert. She's live for us in Odessa.

At this hour, Atika, the situation is really escalating, especially in the city of Mariupol. What's the latest?

ATIKA SHUBERT, CNN CORRESPONDENT: That's right. These are the latest reports of the fighting from that port city east of here. Now what we have heard, according to a spokesman of the pro-Russian side there, is that there's been fighting on the outskirts of the city. That government -- Ukraine government forces have attacked the barricade there. And that the council center that they had taken over in the center of the city, the pro-Russian camp has now abandoned.

Now the pro-Russian side is reporting that five of their members were killed, another 15 detained. But those numbers we're still trying to confirm those with the Ukrainian government in Kiev. They have not made any comment available as yet. But we are hoping to get a statement later today.

But it would appear that this is all part of that Ukrainian government push to regain control of key cities in the east of the country, especially before the May 25th election. That, of course, is the key date they're trying to gear up for. So this violence has been ongoing for the last few days as they try and regain control.

We'll try and get you the latest from the government on Mariupol as soon as we get it -- Poppy.

HARLOW: You know, NATO secretary-general saying, quote, "Today we are facing the gravest crisis to European security since the end of the Cold War." And then you also have pro-Russian insurgents in Ukraine planning to hold this referendum for at least the eastern region of the country on Sunday.

What is the latest with that? Does it look like that's going to go forward?

SHUBERT: Well, it really depends on who you ask. In the eastern side, we talked to pro-Russian camp, they say yes, they're going ahead with it. But obviously the Ukraine government says any referendum is illegitimate and won't be recognized.

What is really frightening people I think is the fact that not only that it's happening across the eastern side but the fact that we've seen violence here in Odessa as well.

HARLOW: Right.

SHUBERT: I remember Odessa is quite far from the Russian border. It's all the way on the western side, it's a port city. The fact that you're seeing such tremendous violence just a few days ago and they're gearing up now for victory day on Friday.

HARLOW: Right.

SHUBERT: And that is where they're fearful there will tensions flaring again -- Poppy.

HARLOW: And we look at -- it was, you know, not long ago, we were talking about Crimea, then fears about the east, now in the east we're talking west. This Odessa. So you can see how this is spiraling. Appreciate the reporting live for us this morning.

From Odessa, Atika Shubert. Thank you.

FEYERICK: And we're getting a new look this morning at just what Americans think about Flight 370 missing now for nearly two months.

A new CNN/ORC poll finds that most Americans think by a 2-1 margin that the search for the plane should continue. But they're split over whether the search is looking in the right place. 51 percent think the plane is in the search zone, 46 percent no, it's not. Mostly they don't think anyone on board is still alive, 52 percent of those surveyed think that but only a slim majority, 52 percent.

I think the public will ever really find out what happened to the plane. Most blame the crew for the jet's disappearance, 66 percent say it's likely it was the actions of the pilot or crew that caused Flight 370 to go missing.

HARLOW: And of course for the families with loved ones on that plane, every day without answers is agony. They don't have answers yet about what really happened. Danica Weeks' husband Paul was on board. And she says she wants closure.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DANICA WEEKS, HUSBAND WAS ON FLIGHT 370: There's so much conjecture and there's so much media reporting. And look, this report has come out, it's contradicting statements. The authorities, the Malaysian authorities they made them in the early days. I've just -- I can't allow myself to think about what might have happened. We, as family, it's harrowing. This is 59 days. And I still have no idea what happened to Paul.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

HARLOW: Absolute anguish. They want answers. No one has answered those questions yet about what happened to this plane. But officials from Malaysia, Australia and China are gathering today to once again go over what they do know and to plan out the steps in the search, what is next.

Will Ripley is live in Kuala Lumpur with what is happening.

So they're having this big meeting today or perhaps it is concluded in Canberra, right, to talk about what can be done at this point. What do you know?

WILL RIPLEY, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Poppy, we know that this is really -- this group that's going to be going over all of the satellite data one more time is really a who's who as far as some of the top experts in the world from Australia, the United Kingdom, the United States. Also representatives from Inmarsat, the satellite company, and Boeing, the 777 aircraft manufacturer.

All of these experts working behind closed doors going over everything that they know so far about the disappearance of this plane, doing calculations once again, perhaps simulations, trying to make sure that they still believe their best educated guess places MH 370 in the southern Indian Ocean. This area over there preparing to launch a massive, massive underwater search. Twenty-three thousand square miles.

To give you a sense of how time consuming and grueling this work will be, the Bluefin-21 has covered fewer than 200 square miles in its search so far. We know the ship that carries the Bluefin-21, the Ocean Shield, is right at port, at Stirling Naval Base in western Australia, getting some maintenance work. We expect the Bluefin to be deployed back out to the search zone in the coming days.

But it's going to need a lot of back up, Poppy. And in addition to reanalyzing the data, the other purpose of these meetings in the Australian capital of Canberra is to decide what technology they're going to bring in to better assist the Bluefin. These are the submersible devices, these will be devices that are towed behind ships, perhaps even some vessels that are equipped on the vessel itself with technology that can scan the ocean floor. This is very deep water, nearly three miles deep, Poppy. A huge task ahead that could take up to a year and cost up to $60 million.

HARLOW: Yes. And the fact that, as you said, now the Ocean Shield which -- and the Bluefin-21 is at port, it is not searching. Right now there is no -- there are no devices, no submersibles searching for that plane right now, just adding more pain for those family that want some answers.

We appreciate the update, thank you, Will.

FEYERICK: And Monica Lewinsky breaking her silence after more than a decade. What she now has to say about her affair with then President, Bill Clinton.

HARLOW: Plus breaking news overnight, a North Carolina election putting a former "American Idol" one step closer to possibly being a congressman.

FEYERICK: And new video of a teenager who stowed away in a plane's jet wheel from California to Hawaii.

All that on the other side.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

HARLOW: Monica Lewinsky says it is time to bury the blue dress. The former White House intern breaking her silence about her affair with President Bill Clinton calling it consensual. But writing in "Vanity Fair" that she deeply regrets what happened. Lewinsky rejects the label Hillary Clinton once gave her, narcissistic Looney tune, but says she understands the former first lady's reaction.

As for why she is speaking out now, Lewinsky wrote it was time to stop tiptoeing around her past and finally take back her own narrative.

FEYERICK: And in North Carolina, CNN now projects the Republican establishment candidate has held off a Tea Party challenger in the Republican Senate primary. Speaker of the House, Tom Tillis, will avoid a runoff with the win over seven other candidates including libertarian favorite Greg Brannon. Tillis will face incumbent Democrat Kay Hagan in the fall.

As for former "American Idol" finalist Clay Aiken, right now, his Democratic primary for Congress, well, believe it or not, it is too close to call with Aiken leading his closest challenger by just 400 votes. It's not clear yet if the vote will be subject to a recount.

HARLOW: And new details this morning on what may have been going on inside the administration of New Jersey Governor Chris Christie. A former aid Christina Renna has now told a state legislative committee she witnessed suspicious activity but feared she would be fired if she reported it. She worked directly for Bridgette Ann Kelly.

Now Christie's deputy of staff, that is Christie's deputy of staff, it is Kelly who sent that now famous e-mail calling for, quote, "traffic problems in Fort Lee." Renna described Kelly as erratic and unstable but said she doubts Kelly orchestrated the shutdown of lanes on the George Washington Bridge.

FEYERICK: And we're learning more this morning about a troubling incident that led to a White House lockdown. Access were shut down for about an hour after a car followed a motorcade carrying the president's daughters through the White House gates. The Secret Service says a 55-year-old driver, Matthew Evan Goldstein, holds a pass for the U.S. Treasury building next door. He was stopped at a checkpoint before he got closed to the mansion. He's been charged with unlawful entry. He's due in court this afternoon.

HARLOW: And we're getting a first look this morning at security footage of the 15-year-old stowaway emerging from the wheel well of a 757 last month. The video shows the boy lowering himself -- you see it right there. Lowering himself to the ground then shakily walking to the front of the plane. The teen, probably survived a 5 1/2 hour flight from California to Hawaii despite very little oxygen and subzero temperatures. He is now back in San Jose where police say he could face trespassing charges.

FEYERICK: And protesters growing this morning against the government of Brunei over its plans to institute Sharia law including death by stoning for anyone who commits adultery or sodomy. Overnight the Beverly Hills City Council called on Brunei's Sultan to sell the Beverly Hills Hotel, which he owns through a holding company. Many celebrities are now boycotting the famous hotel and some demonstrated outside, including Jay Leno.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JAY LENO, FORMER HOST, "THE TONIGHT SHOW": This is not a political issue. This is not something that is debatable, it's people being stoned to death. Hello.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

FEYERICK: Other events including a fundraiser for women's rights has now been moved from that venue. The CEO of the holding company says the anger is misplaced, saying the protest will hurt the employees of the hotel, and not really Brunei.

HARLOW: Well, happening now, wildfire raging in the middle of the country. The flames turning deadly. Homes evacuated. We'll bring you the latest on exactly what is happening there straight after the break.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

FEYERICK: Happening now in Oklahoma, wildfires racing through the state. Warnings are up for a huge area west of Oklahoma City as dry ground and dry air spark blazes. The biggest worry right now is near Woodward where dozens of homes had to be evacuated. At least one home was destroyed.

HARLOW: Yes. Chad Myers is tracking the fire threat and the rest of your weather this morning.

Hi, Chad.

CHAD MYERS, AMS METEOROLOGIST: Good morning. A pleasant day for you in the northeast today. Partly cloudy skies. You're still in the cool air here. Where the hot air is all the way through the deep south. Temperatures in the 80s and even some spots 90s here. You'll be in the 60s and 70s.

Severe weather through the plains. More like a hail and wind event than tornadoes. But our Martin Savidge is out there watching those storms. And then a severe fire threat, extreme fire danger out here in the southwest. Oklahoma, Texas, Kansas, because of the wind and the very dry air.

Places like Woodward, Oklahoma, yesterday had some fire around it. It was 100 degrees. The relative humidity was 5 percent and the winds were gusting at almost 40 miles per hour. Rains in the valleys and mountain snows out here in the northwest.

So here we go for temperatures for today. Cloudy across the northeast, a few showers. 68 D.C., 69 New York City, but then 82, see that warm air is all the way to the north, 89 in Kansas City, 89 in Dallas, and even close to 100 right here through this darker red area. That's where the fire danger will be, again.

We'll be ahead to tomorrow, severe weather. A little bit of a larger area all the way from Minnesota back down to Texas. I think the bulk is probably somewhere from Iowa to parts of Kansas, Missouri and to Oklahoma. We'll see, though. It does extend all the way to the north and to the south with mountain snows back out to the west. 83 Chicago. 75 for Kansas City as the front cools that area down. Notice only 79 in Dallas tomorrow. Again, a few more showers there. And 85 in Memphis. 67 in L.A. a pleasant 65 in San Francisco.

Enjoy your day.

FEYERICK: Thank you, Chad.

And happening now, a desperate search to find hundreds of kidnapped girls in Nigeria. Armed terrorists are threatening to sell these young girls on the human market as child brides or sex slaves. Well, the White House now is getting involved -- with that, live, coming up next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)