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Hot Air Balloon Crashes in Virginia; NBA Names New Clippers CEO; What Recourse Do Clippers Players Have?; Search for Flight 370; Police Says Hot Air Balloon Hit Power Lines; Explosive New Sterling Audio Recordings Surfaced; Schoolgirls Kidnapped in Nigeria

Aired May 10, 2014 - 07:00   ET


VICTOR BLACKWELL, CNN ANCHOR: All right. Joe Carter, thank you.

ANA CABRERA, CNN ANCHOR: And thank you for starting your morning with us.

BLACKWELL: Next hour of your NEW DAY starts now.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Mass casualty incident. In the area (INAUDIBLE) Road reported multiple hot air balloons have crashed.


BLACKWELL: Breaking overnight. Look at the pictures. A hot air balloon catches fire over Virginia and crashes. But authorities still do not know where the balloon is. You're going to hear from witness who watched all this horror unfold.


PIERCE O'DONNELL, SHELLY STERLING'S ATTORNEY: Make no uncertainty about this, she will defend her right to decide when and how and for what price she sells her 50 percent interest in the Los Angeles Clippers.


CABRERA: New CEO takes over the Clippers. Shelly Sterling's lawyer insists she owns the team and will, quote, "fight to the death to keep it."

BLACKWELL: And in her first solo weekly address to the nation, First Lady Michelle Obama is urging the world to bring back our girls, as U.S. advisors in Nigeria helped coordinate a rescue.

Your NEW DAY continues, now.

CABRERA: Good morning, everyone. I'm Ana Cabrera, just keeping the seat warm for Christi this weekend.

BLACKWELL: Yes. Good to have you here.

CABRERA: Good to be here.

BLACKWELL: I'm Victor Blackwell. It's 7:00 here on the East Coast. This is NEW DAY SATURDAY. And we're following the breaking news we talked about right at the top. This is happening in Virginia. Police now desperately searching for three people, this pilot and two passengers who are missing after a hot air balloon hit power lines there, happening in Caroline County, and burst into flames.

CABRERA: That's right. This was just about 11 hours ago. Let's get you caught up on what we learned this morning. This happened just before 8:00 last night. Again the search continues right now. Authorities say a hot air balloon was participating in the Mid- Atlantic Balloon Festival near Richmond, Virginia, drifted into power lines causing that basket to burst into flames.

BLACKWELL: And then the balloon continued to fly. The gondola, the basket there, engulfed in flames. And one witness reported hearing two people screaming as they jumped from the burning basket.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: And you could hear them screaming, please, dear god, sweet Jesus, help us, we're going to die, oh my god, please help us, please help us.


CABRERA: You're going to hear from other witnesses in just a moment. But first, let's go out to our CNN's Erin McPike. She is Caroline County, Virginia, in the area where authorities are currently searching for those missing people.

BLACKWELL: Erin, what's the scene like there now?

ERIN MCPIKE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Victor and Ana, we have seen a little bit more activity in the last 20 minutes. About five Virginia State Troopers came back up this road from the search area which is here behind me. Obviously it's a densely wooded area. And the search has been going on in total darkness overnight and it's continuing this morning.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Possible mass casualty incident, reported multiple hot air balloons have crashed into power lines and the balloons are now on fire.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Do have visual of the airborne hot air balloons, appears to be still smoking, still pretty high there.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We've got a report that the basket has come off. So we're trying to find that right now.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Caroline, advise all units, the airborne balloons aren't the issue. We need to locate the basket. MCPIKE: Search and rescue crews comb the wooded area around Doswell, Virginia, 25 miles north of Richmond for wreckage, after a hot air balloon with three people on board hit a power line and then caught on fire.

Witnesses described seeing debris fall from the sky.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: And also, and my boyfriend, you know, came running out. And he's like oh my god, look up at the sky. He's like -- he's like the balloon was on fire. And all we've seen was just stuff like falling from the sky. The basket, the balloon, everything was on fire.

MCPIKE: The balloon had taken off with two others. Those landed safely. But when the third balloon was on approach to land, it burst into flames.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: There were witnesses tell us they heard two explosions from the hot air balloon. And at one point, the gondola and the balloon separated. And then the balloon took off at a rapid pace.

MCPIKE: And that's when witnesses say the two passengers in the balloon basket jumped out.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: And you could hear them screaming, please, dear god, sweet Jesus, help us. We are going die. Oh my god, please help us, please help us.


MCPIKE: Now the hot air balloon festival has been canceled for the rest of the day. Also Virginia State Police will hold a press conference in about an hour to brief us on the latest details of the search -- Victor and Ana.

BLACKWELL: All right. And that's coming up in less than an hour, at the top of the hour.

Erin McPike, there in Caroline County, thank you.

And as you heard there, witnesses, watchdog say it was a festival. So people had come to see these balloons. Some of them heard the passengers, as you heard, screaming for help. Listen to what one of them told us a little earlier.


LYNN SCHULTZ, WITNESSED HOT AIR BALLOON CRASH: it was on fire on the left side and then there was a big fire and the fire dwindled down some and the balloon kept floating up and then the fire sort of circled around the bottom and then debris started falling off. And I was shooting film with my camera and I caught pictures of that and I got a few shots of that and it was floating further and further out, away into the distance. And at one point, there was no fire, then you'd see a little bit. I didn't see any people or anything, the distance was too great for that.


CABRERA: You can see that fire and those images that she shared with us. Mark Culbertson, another witness who saw this accident, he's joining us now from Caroline County as well.

Mark, tell us what you saw. Where were you at the time?

MARK CULBERTSON, WITNESSED BALLOON CATCH FIRE: I was on Doswell Road, coming home, which is about five minutes from my house and my kids and I, we saw the hot air balloon a couple of thousand feet up and it was smoking pretty bad.

BLACKWELL: Now I heard from one of my producers that this -- by the time you got home, it flew right over your house?

CULBERTSON: Yes, it just passed right over my house. It was -- by then, it was probably, maybe a couple of hundred feet, 500 feet at the most above the trees.

CABRERA: Did you see any of the people who were apparently on board?

CULBERTSON: No. No, we couldn't see anybody on board.

BLACKWELL: You know what I'm trying to understand, Mark, right now, these crews are searching for the persons who were in that balloon and, of course, the balloon itself. If this was low enough to hit power lines, I wonder, if at any time, did you see that it could also have been low enough for the people to jump and survive. I know 500 feet is unrealistic.

But was it every again low enough where they could have jumped and just maybe broken a few bones but lived?

CULBERTSON: Yes, I mean, after they passed over my house, you know, it continued to drop pretty rapidly so, you know, I would hope that if they jumped that they were able to survive.

CABRERA: This is the Mid-Atlantic Balloon Festival, Mark. And your house is close to this event. Have you been able to participate in years past? What is it normally like?

CULBERTSON: No, I have never been to it. I believe this was the first one. So --

BLACKWELL: So tell us, what's your response when you're seeing this happening? And at this time, we understand that there was the explosion reportedly, lots of flames, and then the flames died down. Was -- was it -- as we're saying it here, fully engulfed when it went you're your home?

CULBERTSON: I'm sorry, I had a car coming by. BLACKWELL: Was it fully engulfed in flames when it went by your home?

CULBERTSON: No, it was just a lot of smoke at that point.


CABRERA: Well, Mark Culbertson, obviously a tough situation there for everybody involved and nearby that night, last night as well as this morning when the search continues. We appreciate your time.

BLACKWELL: Thank you, Mark.

CABRERA: With us here on NEW DAY.

BLACKWELL: You know, the question here is, now that they are searching for the pilot and these two passengers. You imagine if the basket at some point was or the balloon was low enough to hit these power lines and it continued to descend, was it ever low enough when these two people jumped, reportedly.


BLACKWELL: That they could have landed, maybe their fall broken by bushes. And yes, maybe they have broken bones, but they alive there somewhere.

CABRERA: And that's what everybody is hoping.


CABRERA: That's for sure. But again, we cannot find these people.


CABRERA: And so that is becoming more and more concerning.

BLACKWELL: Search continues. News conference at the top of the hour. We'll of course bring that to you. We have much more on the balloon accident throughout the show.

We're talking live to our aviation experts. What are the regulations when it comes to flying hot air balloons and what is the first step investigators take to figure out what went wrong?

CABRERA: Plus a lot of developments in the Donald Sterling story. The Clippers took the court last night. They have a new CEO at the helm and new audio reportedly of Donald Sterling explaining why he went on that racist rant.

All that coming up.


ANNOUNCER: This is CNN Breaking News.

BLACKWELL: The breaking news this morning, three people missing after a hot air balloon burst into flames, crashed. And this incident happened in Virginia last night after the balloon drifted into power lines.

CABRERA: Witnesses say they saw people plummet from the balloon basket. But those people and the balloon itself have not yet been found.

Let's bring in some of our experts to talk about this, including CNN aviation analyst Mary Schiavo, as well as CNN safety analyst, David Soucie, to discuss.

BLACKWELL: I want to start with what we've been discussing for more than two months now. This missing Malaysian plane and the new story in the Atlantic.

Now, my question is -- actually you know what? We'll get to that in a moment. Let's go with the balloon. Because that's where we started this morning.

The balloon this morning. I want to start with you, Mary. Why would they be landing near power lines in the first place?

MARY SCHIAVO, CNN AVIATION ANALYST: Well, when an accident like this happens, and this isn't the first time something like this has happened, there're usually a couple of things in play. Sometimes you can have tricky winds and then sometimes you have a problem with your device and stuff that you can't get the air heated. With your burners and you're having a problem getting enough altitude. So sometimes it's winds combined with altitude.

One problem -- one accident I looked at once, a couple of balloons actually collided and bumped each other and affected the flight path that way. So there are many reasons it can happen, but, you know, obviously, power lines are, you know, very -- an insurmountable obstacle if you hit.

CABRERA: We just talked to a witness who was there and said I don't think that they have ever had this festival here before. So it makes me wonder, you know, what kind of preparation do they have in terms of setting up the landing gear or the landing area as well as, you know, the takeoff area and just the whole space that these air balloons are going to be flying.

SCHIAVO: Right. And the surveillance of the landscape. You know, just what kind of hazards are out there. And, you know, if you study aviation maps, they're put out by the weather service and the FAA in conjunction with each other, you know, all these hazards are marked. And so they are there to find them. They're there to see them.

And if for some case and for some reason, these wires, these tension lines were not on the map then it would have been a mistake of the U.S. government and other map makers like Jeppesen. So they should have studied the maps and known what hazards were there to be avoided.

BLACKWELL: Are fires like these -- I mean, you know, maybe we are hearing more about this and discussing this more because it's in the U.S., but, David, are they common for hot air balloons?

DAVID SOUCIE, CNN SAFETY ANALYST: Common wouldn't be what I would describe it as. However, it's important to point out that these certified pilots, they're certified balloons, aircraft, and as a safety inspector, I used to go out and do surveillance and approval of these air balloon races or festivals, prior to them actually doing the festival.

What's confusing about this one for me is the festival was scheduled to start tomorrow, Saturday and Sunday. Tonight or Friday night, they had a -- I think it was called a happy hour balloon festival, which they sent up a few balloons ahead of time. So which 8:00 at night is a very bad time to send balloons up into the air. Professional pilots can do it, it's not extremely hazardous. However, it's confusing to me and I've never approved that in the investigations I've done or the approvals I've given for air balloon races is to have a nighttime event like that. So it's very rare indeed for that happen.

CABRERA: Why is it bad timing? Just because of darkness or is there something more going on with the atmosphere?

SOUCIE: Well, it's really about the atmosphere. As the sun starts to set, it has of course changes the angle. And it changes the heat that's in the various layers of air. And the layers of air is what's used to steer these balloons. There's constantly layers going in different directions. So the pilots are very familiar with how to get into those different levels and exchange those levels for position on the ground.

That's how they know where they're going to land. They don't just free drift. So that's the steering mechanism that they use. And they're very unpredictable at that time of the evening when the temperatures are changing dramatically.

BLACKWELL: Mary, NTSB is getting involved. What's that going to look like? What does that mean for the investigation?

SCHIAVO: Well, it's helpful for the investigation because they'll put the go-team on the ground and they will start gathering evidence immediately and most importantly safeguarding the evidence so it doesn't get, you know, lost or cartered (ph) off, et cetera.

And there's one more thing I should mention with David, you know, what you learn when you first start flight training, and this is -- I was on fixed wing, of course, but it sounds funny to say it, but it gets dark on the ground before it gets dark in the air. And so if you're maneuvering in the air you're not paying attention to the sunset, and you look down, the ground is completely black even though the sky is still light.

So they could have had a problem actually seeing the power lines and what was below them. But to answer your question, the NTSB will be on the scene and will be grabbing evidence and safeguarding it.

CABRERA: OK. Let's just switch gears real fast because we have a lot to talk about in the missing Malaysia plane this morning as well. We definitely want to bend the ears of our experts here.

There was a news story in the "Atlantic" magazine that's now questioning that Inmarsat data and the analysis of the data, and wondering if it can even be trusted. There's also a new CNN/ORC poll finding that nearly half of all Americans do not believe Flight 370 is in the Indian Ocean where the search is taking place.

So, David, have searchers been looking in the wrong place?

BLACKWELL: The wrong ocean?

SOUCIE: Well, it's very troubling right now for me because we have this convergence of data that we've been talking about, convergence of information where we say Inmarsat data may have some questions about it. And then the pings in the ocean may have some questions about it. But if you put the two together, it puts you in that area. But subsequently, we found now that Inmarsat data after the "Atlantic" report yesterday maybe very much in question as to how those things were arrived.

But more importantly for me I've taken the stance that these pings that we found in the ocean were actually from the aircraft and that no one has been able to show me what's -- what else could be producing this. But a gentleman by the name of John Fiorentino, and he has a news vine article, he's been blasting me for sticking to my point on this, but he actually did, he was the only one who did, provide me with some information about a pinger that was located in the ocean that's used on nets, fishing nets, and it does produce the same pinging at a 33 megahertz frequency.

So that's incredibly damaging to my position on that and it's incredibly damaging the Inmarsat data as well because the Inmarsat data was only 100 percent credible if it had corroborating evidence which that corroborating evidence, thanks to John Fiorentino, has been eliminated. So I'm very concerned that we have been looking indeed in the wrong place this entire time.


BLACKWELL: How about it, Mary? Those -- the confirmation that Angus Houston got was those pings several weeks ago.

SCHIAVO: That's right.

BLACKWELL: How about now with this article in the "Atlantic" from Ari Schulman that says maybe they're in the wrong ocean?

SCHIAVO: Well, I think the "Atlantic" article is incredibly interesting because it has, you know, good minds behind it. And they produced, you know, evidence of why they were questioning. For example that the plane would be traveling at 50 miles an hour while it's sitting at the gate and they didn't take into consideration the movement and the traveling of the satellite.

But, you know, I'm with David. One of the thing that's concerned me all along was the megahertz of the pingers. At 33.5 there was absolutely no data to show that the pingers on the aircraft black boxes at 37.5 megahertz, the variation was only 2 megahertz. So there was no way to get to that 33.5 unless you theorize the ocean currents and that pressure and the salinity did something.

And the Inmarsat data and the searchers just assumed that was the case. It's time to get some hard data on that. We've got time. Put the pingers in the ocean and see what happens to them over 30 days. No one's done that.

CABRERA: Mary Schiavo, David Soucie, much more to talk about but we're out of time. Thank you so much.

BLACKWELL: Thank you, guys.

CABRERA: We know you as a viewer may have questions about this, too, especially in light of the new developments. And so we want to know what your questions are because we're going to continue to talk about MH-370 throughout the hour. Send us some tweets to #370Qs. So 370Qs.

BLACKWELL: Yes. We'll find it and ask some of your questions.

Also, another big story breaking over the last couple of days is audio tape surfacing of L.A. Clippers owner, another tape this time, not the first one. In this one, a voice that is reportedly Donald Sterling explains why he went on that racist rant.


CABRERA: The Los Angeles Clippers back in action last night trying to fight through all those distractions this week. They just couldn't defeat the Oklahoma City Thunder, however.

BLACKWELL: Yes. Clippers co-owner, Shelly Sterling, she was at the Staples Center for game three of the second round playoff series but the Clippers couldn't hold on to this one. They now trail in the series, two games to one.

CABRERA: Let's talk about off the court. The Clippers now have a new CEO. Not a new owner, a new CEO to help run the team. The NBA appointed former Time Warner chairman Richard Parsons to this interim post. Time Warner, of course, is the parent company of CNN. And here's what Parsons told us. This is actually a large and important issue not just for the Clippers or the NBA but really for the country in some ways.

All eyes are on this. And how we work our way through it is important.

BLACKWELL: And you know the Donald Sterling scandal has been taking a turn every -- it seems like every few hours. But now there's another turn with the release of a new audio recording.

CNN's Alexander Field has more.


ALEXANDRA FIELD, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Clippers players still playing. Donald Sterling still talking.

DONALD STERLING, LOS ANGELES CLIPPERS OWNER: I'm talking to a girl. I'm trying to have sex with her.

FIELD: The latest recording released by RadarOnline is believed to be Sterling offering some kind of explanation for his racist rant.

STERLING: What the hell, I'm talking to a girl? The girl's black. I like her. I'm jealous that she's with other black guys. I want her.

FIELD: Sterling could be forced through a vote by NBA owners to sell the team. This week, his estranged wife, Shelly Sterling, is saying she's a partial owner and she wants to keep it. Clippers coach Doc Rivers --

DOC RIVERS, LOS ANGELES CLIPPERS COACH: I think it would be a very hard situation if you want me -- I'll say that much. I think it would be very difficult. I guarantee you every person wouldn't be on board with that.

FIELD: Players have already protested Donald Sterling turning their shirts inside out. Sports law professor Marc Edelman says they could turn to social media, too. Beyond that, there are consequences.

MARC EDELMAN, SPORTS LAW PROFESSOR: Everybody is so quick to say what the players should do, when they don't have any skin in the game. But for a player, they have to be cognizant of their contract and the fact that if they do not show up to a game when they have an obligation to appear, they do run the risk of termination.

FIELD: Professional athletes have had lockouts in contract disputes, but a team rarely publicly goes up against its owner. There is an extreme example. Eight players, including the infamous Shoeless Joe Jackson on the 1990 Chicago White Sox team were accused of conspiring with gamblers to lose the World Series, an apparent act of retaliation against an unpopular owner.

EDELMAN: It just goes to show what could happen if all levels of respect between an owner and a player would fall apart.


BLACKWELL: CNNs Alexander Field live outside the NBA headquarters in New York.

So what is the role? We've said that this is not a new owner, a new CEO. What is the role of Richard Parsons then?

FIELD: Right. That is that band-aid that we're talking about here. Look, the NBA has come out and they said that the team needs leadership and it certainly needs stability right now. So they have appointed Dick Parsons CEO to sort of shepherd the team through right now because there's a lot going on behind closed doors.

We know that earlier this week, the Finance Advisory Committee of the NBA met to again discuss whether or not Donald Sterling could be forced to sell the team. They are scheduled to have another meeting in the coming week. After that, the issue could go to the other NBA owners. If 75 percent vote in favor they could agree to force Sterling to sell the team. So a lot up in the air about the ownership, but again, Ana, Victor, somebody has got to be overseeing the team right now.

BLACKWELL: Yes. And an interim basis as they were clear to say.

Alexandra Field, outside NBA headquarters, thank you very much.

You know, coming up in 20 minutes, we are going to have a conversation about the legal implications of the new audio and Shelly Sterling's fight to maintain ownership. At least 50 percent ownership.

CABRERA: She wants ownership, even though she doesn't control of the team itself.


CABRERA: And also more on the breaking news we're following out of Virginia this morning. A hot air balloon turned into a ball of fire and crashed. Investigators scheduling a news conference to release some new information at the top of the hour. We'll be bringing that to you live.

Also, next, we are talking to a hot air balloon expert. He'll tell us what he thinks may have gone wrong.


CABRERA: Now for an update on mortgages. Rates dropped this week. Take a look.


CABRERA: Welcome back. Good morning on a Saturday. I'm Ana Cabrera filling in for Christi Paul.

BLACKWELL: I'm Victor Blackwell.

Let's continue with the breaking news on that hot air balloon crash happened in Virginia. Right now police are searching for three people after their balloon drifted into a power line and then -- look at this -- burst into flames.

CABRERA: We are expecting new information at the top of the hour. But what we can tell you is witnesses say they saw people plummeting or at least jumping, possibly, from the balloon's basket as it caught fire.

Let's bring in a hot air balloon expert and owner of Gone with the Wind, it's a hot air balloon travel company, Phil Dunnington, and he's joining us via Skype from England this morning.

Phil, thanks so much for taking some time. In your mind, how does something like this happen? PHIL DUNNINGTON, OWNER, GONE WITH THE WIND: Well, of course I can't comment specifically on this accident, but, ballooning is one of the safest aviation activities. Power lines are one of the significant threats to balloon safety.

BLACKWELL: Now we know that this happened reportedly near the landing area and that's when they hit this power line. Should the landing area have been so close or close at all to power lines?

DUNNINGTON: Well, balloons, of course, never know quite in advance where they are going to land. This is one of the beauties of ballooning but also, of course, one of the reasons why pilots have to remain very alert. So it's impossible to know where a balloon is going to land before you take off or when you take off. So I think that isn't a practical proposal to define a landing site in relation to wires.

But on the other hand, of course it's the pilot's responsibility to look out for wires, to be vigilant, to keep the situation and awareness high in a landing situation where there may be wires.

CABRERA: And, Phil, we talked to former FAA safety inspector David Soucie a little bit ago who said pilots really do have quite a bit of control of these hot air balloons. So in a situation like this, I mean, do you think it's weather related or could it be pilot error?

DUNNINGTON: Well, it's very hard to say at this stage, but I think your guest from the FAA did say that the evening situation is sometimes difficult. And I think that's not from a weather standpoint, that's more likely to be because of poor visibility or reducing visibility and also, possibly because the pilot might have been looking into sun and seeing wires when you're looking into a low sun situation, sometimes very difficult.

And one of your other guests, I think the one from the NTSB, said that the lines should be marked on a chart. But of course the ones that are marked on charts, not just in the U.S. but worldwide are the big ones. And the ones that are the most dangerous are the small ones which you don't get marked on charts. Domestic supply, cables, that kind of thing.

BLACKWELL: Phil, in this unfortunate situation, if a balloon hits a power line, what is protocol? What is that pilot supposed to do?

DUNNINGTON: Well, so much depends on at what stage he was aware of the presence of the line. If he -- if he saw the line, but knew he would not be able to clear it, then the advice is to deflate the balloon and come to the ground as soon as possible so that even if the top part, the fabric part of the balloon touches the wires, at least the occupants are on the ground and have an opportunity to escape.

Of course, if the pilot did not see the wire until more or less the time he hit it, then at that stage, a lot depends on whether the wire arcing began a fire, which would probably have begun to set fire to the propane, the liquid propane which powers balloons or gives balloons their lift. And that, of course, is a point at which it's very hard for the pilot to do anything, which is likely to end up with good results.

CABRERA: And we know there was at least one explosion. So it is sounding like that's what happened here.

Phil Dunnington, thank you so much for joining us.

And a reminder, investigators have scheduled a news conference to release new information at the top of the hour. We'll bring that to you live.

BLACKWELL: Yes. First Lady Michelle Obama this weekend, she's making her first solo weekly address to the nation. She is speaking out about the kidnapped schoolgirls in Nigeria, one day now before Mother's Day.

Up next, why she says they remind her of her own daughters.


BLACKWELL: Twenty minutes to the top of the hour. And this morning, the L.A. Clippers have a new interim CEO. The NBA has appointed former Citigroup and Time Warner chairman Richard Parsons to lead the team after banning owner Donald Sterling for life over that racist audio recording.

CABRERA: But there is a new explosive recording released by And a man believed to be Sterling says he is not at all a racist but that he told V. Stiviano not to bring black men to Clippers game out of jealousy. Take a listen.


STERLING: But I'm talking to a girl. I'm trying to have sex with her. I'm trying to play with her. What can -- you know -- if you were trying to have sex with a girl and you are talking to her privately, you don't think anybody is there. You may say anything in the world, what difference does it make.

Then if the girl tapes it and releases it, my god, it's awful. Who thinks anybody is going to tape something? What the hell, I'm talking to a girl. The girl is black. I like her. I'm jealous that she's with other black guy. I want her. So what the hell can I -- in private tell her, you know, I don't want you to be with anybody. I mean, do I have -- can I -- am I a person? Do I have any freedom of speech?


CABRERA: OK. So let's talk about this with HLN legal analyst Joey Jackson and CNN legal analyst Danny Cevallos.

Thanks so much for being here with us, both of you.

Danny, let's start with you. We have no idea who taped this audio recording, who released it to RadarOnline. But at the very least Sterling has to know there's a chance he's being recorded by now, right?

DANNY CEVALLOS, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: You have to wonder because so many recordings have surfaced, the best advice anyone can give Donald Sterling is stay off the phone. He clearly doesn't understand how easy it is with technology today to record conversations. And he appears to be being duped over and over and over again. So the best advice would be stay away from anything that has audio capabilities.

But maybe he just doesn't have a filter and that -- or on the other hand, people have suggested that maybe he's releasing these to sort of fix up his image. But I don't think that's having the desired effect at all.

BLACKWELL: What about that, Joey? Because in the end, he says -- well, no one is going to hear this video of me. So --



JACKSON: This wasn't plotted. Ana, this was no grand plan. Come on, he doesn't know that it's recorded? I think this is a calculated effort. Now all of a sudden, he's the victim. Really? And if you think about the logic he employs and what he talks about, he really liked the girl and he was jealous, Ana? That's the reason he wanted to do this?

He has $1 billion, Victor, but his best way to get a girl, right, is to say, you know what, I'm going to insult you, I'm going to demean you? I think he's trying to spin, and I don't think this web that he's spinning is doing anything but getting a little bit more sticky.

CABRERA: Well, as a woman, you don't think that that's a turn on, exactly.


BLACKWELL: You know, don't bring black people to my games, now have sex with me.


BLACKWELL: Why would you ever think that would work? But he's not answering that question, we have tried.

CABRERA: But I do want to mention that. You know, in part of that tape, he does say I was wrong. I was wrong. So it speaks to what you're saying, Joey. Maybe he's trying to build a defense of some sort. But yet he doesn't come out and actually say, I'm sorry I said those things.

JACKSON: I think he needs to. And certainly, even if he does say that, I don't think that there's any walking this back. I think ultimately, it has too much of an impact on the NBA in a negative way. It impairs their brand, it impairs everything that they're about. Certainly, you have young African-Americans there who are really the NBA when you look at major stars, Lebron James and everyone else.

I think the fact is that three quarters of the owners, 75 percent, of the 29 will say you're out. And of course under their bylaws that's enough to get rid of him. Will he litigate and will he go after them? Maybe. But the reality is this, it's a private organization. They set their own rules. And if you look at the bylaws it says that the decision they make it's the final and you can't even go to court. And it will be interesting to see how it develops and if he's successful. I'd say no.

BLACKWELL: Danny, he says during this call, they can't force him to sell the team. Let's listen.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I think, I mean -- I think they're probably trying to force you to sell it? That's --

STERLING: They don't -- you can't force someone to sell property in America. Well, I'm a lawyer. That's my opinion.


BLACKWELL: Opinion, Danny. It's his opinion. Is he right?

CEVALLOS: As a very general rule, he may be right, but as in the law, there are many, many exceptions. And yes, the general idea is you cannot force people to sell their property, however, Donald Sterling, people who signed agreements with the NBA many, many years ago, gave up those rights. That's the privilege of doing business in the NBA.

To be an owner, you have to sign documents that wave your rights to certain things including having a court review the decisions of the NBA. So while Donald Sterling may be right in a very general sense, that there's a caveat to his statement. And it's -- if you have written away your rights, if you've contracted them away, then maybe you can be forced to sell your property.

However, the next big step is going to be determining who, in fact, owns the Clippers and as part two, what is ownership in the NBA? Because it really is not as simple as, say, owning a car or owning another piece of regular property. Ownership in the NBA is a complicated thing. And it's governed by contract.

BLACKWELL: All right. Joey Jackson, Danny Cevallos, thank you very much. You know, what stood up to me is at the end of the call they say -- the caller says, Diddy, Sean Diddy Combs, and Oprah trying to buy the team and Donald Sterling says --



BLACKWELL: You don't know Oprah?

CABRERA: He is that out of touch. BLACKWELL: All right. Thank you both for joining us.

JACKSON: All right.

BLACKWELL: You know, another story that's really blowing up on social media, #bringbackourgirls. Maybe you've seen it. Well, now, First Lady Michelle Obama, she's just one of the many joining the social media movement designed to raise awareness about those kidnapped schoolgirls in Nigeria.

CABRERA: And now she's speaking out about the abductions in her first solo weekly address. That's next.


BLACKWELL: Welcome back. And stay with us through the top of the hour because in just about 10 minutes, we're expecting a news conference to update us on the balloon accident in Virginia.

CABRERA: If you're just joining us, three people were inside when a balloon hit a power line, burst into flames. Those three people are still missing this morning. We'll bring you that news conference with new information live when it starts.

BLACKWELL: Well, this is Mother's Day weekend and First Lady Michelle Obama, she's expressing her heartbreak over the kidnapping of more than 200 girls in Nigeria.

CABRERA: During her first solo weekly address, she called the kidnapping unconscionable. And she said stopping girls from getting an education is a global problem. She also said the crisis touches close to home. Listen.


MICHELLE OBAMA, FIRST LADY: In these girls, Barack and I see our own daughters. We see their hopes and their dreams. And we can only imagine the anguish their parents are feeling right now. Many of them may have been hesitant to send their daughters off to school feeling the harm might come their way. But they took that risk because they believed in their daughters' promise and wanted to give them every opportunity to succeed.


CABRERA: Now this morning, six U.S. military advisers are on the ground in Nigeria to try and help find the girls as the Nigerian government faces criticism for not acting fast enough. Maybe even ignoring warning.

BLACKWELL: According to Amnesty International Nigeria was warned four hours before the attack happened and failed to gather up enough forces to respond.

Let's bring in CNN national security analyst Bob Baer, also foreign editor of the "Daily Beast, Christopher Dickey. CABRERA: And Bob, let's start with you. Nigerian officials are denying these claims from Amnesty International that say they had no prior warnings and that they responded as soon as possible. That's what Nigeria is saying now.

What do you make of the new report? Did the Nigerian government drop the ball here?

ROBERT BAER, CNN NATIONAL SECURITY ANALYST: I think they drop the ball. That's a chaotic area. They didn't have enough troops to protect that school, the village. The few troops that -- fought valiantly, but it wasn't enough. When they called for help, the Nigerian army didn't respond adequately. So they do hold responsibility for this. I mean, they just -- this is a chaotic region. And they're not in control of them.

BLACKWELL: Now according to, Christopher, the U.S. intelligence official who spoke with CNN, the schoolgirls had been split up into smaller groups. How does this complicate the rescue mission and does finding one group of girls endanger the other groups of girls?

CHRISTOPHER DICKEY, DAILY BEAST: Well, of course it does. You're looking at a situation where we're talking about basically 220 girls, maybe you've got them in groups of three or four or 10 or a dozen together. Probably even smaller groups than that. If you rescue a few of those girls, you endanger all of the rest of them. That's why probably there's not going to be any rescue mission. And if there is, it's going to be one of those horrible rescue missions where a lot of people get hurt.

CABRERA: Wait a minute, you just said there's not going to be a rescue mission. Why do you feel so strongly that that's the case?

DICKEY: Well, because I don't think anybody knows how you would do that and address the danger that would be faced by more than 200 girls. It's not as if they are all in a stadium some place, they're all in a hotel. They are scattered in dense forests where it is very hard to spot them, very hard to know who they are. Very hard to know where they are.

And then there is the question of which troops you're going to use to try and stage some kind of rescue mission. It's conceivable the French would get involved. I think it's not very conceivable the Americans will. And I don't know if the Nigerians have anybody capable of carrying out that kind of delicate mission even if all the girls were in one place. But they're not.

BLACKWELL: Bob, what do you think about that?

BAER: I completely agree. When they are dispersed like this, you know, you can go into a room, you can take a house. But when they're dispersed like this over a large area, in a forested area, I don't think you're going to see a rescue. I think the best we can see is negotiation for their release.

CABRERA: So you don't think the girls are necessarily a lost cause. It's just a different tactic that will have to use in order to perhaps secure them.

BAER: Absolutely. I mean, look, the government is holding members of Boko Haram. There could be a deal to negotiate where they release them. And we might get the girls back that way.

BLACKWELL: Can you talk to us, Christopher, about the terrain there inside and around Nigeria and why it is so difficult to find these girls.

DICKEY: Well, there are two basic elements that are problematic. And we're about to have a third. First of all it's pretty dense forests around there. It's mountains with caves then forests. And then the second element of this, you've got a lot of different borders. So you have all these jurisdictional issues.

You've got the borders of Cameroon, Nigeria, Niger, and Chad, all in very close proximity. And Boko Haram can move those girls all over that area with relative impunity. The next element, as I understand, is that the rainy season is about to begin. So we're looking at months of very, very difficult movement through that terrain during the rainy season.

I think that the chances of operating in that sort of area are very, very slim indeed, which is one reason that the Nigerian government has tried to pretend that it could write off this rebellion up in that far north corner of the country. But of course it can't do that now.

BLACKWELL: All right. Bob Baer and Christopher Dickey with us this morning, kind of realigning expectations for us that this likely won't be a rescue, but if anything a negotiation.

Gentlemen, thank you both.

DICKEY: Thank you.

BLACKWELL: So it's early in the morning, but not too early to remind you that this is Mother's Day weekend.

CABRERA: I sure hope my husband is paying attention. Don't forget that.

Well, the commander-in-chief had a special message for all moms. We will bring that to you next.


BLACKWELL: Well, it is mom's special weekend. Of course Mother's Day is tomorrow. Happy Mother's Day to you early.

CABRERA: Thank you.

BLACKWELL: But it's never -- Happy Mother's Day to my own mother.


CABRERA: Yes. Don't forget her. BLACKWELL: Let me say that. It's never too early to begin expressing our appreciation.


BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I want to wish all the moms Happy Mother's Day. We love you.


CABRERA: The president did just that Friday evening after arriving back at the White House from his three-day west coast trip. Moms, we love you, too. Thanks for starting your morning with us.

BLACWELL: Next hour of NEW DAY starts now.