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Donald Sterling Blasts Magic Johnson; Search Intensifies for Kidnapped Nigerian Girls; Leader of Donetsk People's Republic Declares Independence; Pistorius a Danger to Society?

Aired May 13, 2014 - 04:30   ET



DEBORAH FEYERICK, CNN ANCHOR: Donald Sterling on the record and on the attack, defending the racist remarks that got him banned from the NBA, trash-talking Magic Johnson and explaining what he thinks is wrong with the black community. A shocking CNN exclusive interview with the L.A. Clippers owner, ahead.

VICTOR BLACKWELL, CNN ANCHOR: An intense manhunt to find the terrorists who kidnapped hundreds of girls from their school. What the U.S. is doing to bring those girls home. We're live in Nigeria with what's happening right now.

FEYERICK: Crisis in Ukraine. This morning, the country could be ready to split into pieces. Eastern provinces requesting to join Russia. But is that really what people want? We are live.

Welcome back to EARLY START, everyone. I'm Deborah Feyerick.

BLACKWELL: I'm Victor Blackwell. Good to be with you this morning.

FEYERICK: Good to be with you.

BLACKWELL: Good to have you with us. And we're at the bottom of the hour now.

He admits he embarrassed the league, but it's Donald Sterling's new comments about race and Magic Johnson in particular that are raising a lot of questions this morning.

In an exclusive interview with Anderson Cooper, Sterling says he's sorry for what he said about friend V. Stiviano being seen with black people, but he insists he's not a racist, that his team loves him. And as for Magic Johnson, we'll let Sterling tell you what he thinks of the NBA legend in his own words. Look.


DONALD STERLING, CLIPPERS OWNER: I embarrassed the league. I humiliated them. I don't know how -- why I did it. I mean, it's so terrible. And --

ANDERSON COOPER, CNN HOST, "AC360": So, you don't believe, though, that the owners would vote to have you removed as owner?

STERLING: I don't think so. The players don't hate me. The sponsors don't hate me.

COOPER: You don't believe the players --

STERLING: The fans don't hate me. The media hates. It's the media. It's all the media pushing it.

COOPER: Honestly, you really believe that this is just the media?

STERLING: I believe it 100 percent. I believe it 100 percent. People call me by the thousands and give me support.

COOPER: Magic Johnson, you know, has made a public comment. Do you have something to say to him?

STERLING: What can I say to him? He -- it doesn't matter. Here is a man who -- I don't know if I say this. He acts so holy.

I mean, he made love to every girl in every city in America and he had AIDS, and when he had those AIDS, I went to my synagogue and I prayed for him. I hoped he could live and be well. I didn't criticize him. I could have.

Is he an example for children? What has he done? Can you tell me? Big Magic Johnson, what has he done?

COOPER: Well, he's a business person, he's --

STERLING: He's got AIDS. Did he do any business? I'd like -- did he help anybody in south L.A.?

COOPER: Well, I think it's HIV. He doesn't actually have full-blown AIDS.

STERLING: Well, what guy goes to every city, has sex with every girl, and then catches HIV? Is that somebody we want to respect and tell our kids about?

I think he should be ashamed of himself. I think he should go into the background. But what does he do for the black people? He doesn't do anything.


BLACKWELL: Well, there have been lots of responses to this interview. We have a statement here from NBA Commissioner Adam Silver. He put this out overnight. "I just read a transcript of Donald Sterling's interview with Anderson Cooper. And while Magic Johnson doesn't need me to, I feel compelled on behalf of the NBA family to apologize to him that he continues to be dragged into this situation and be degraded by such a malicious and personal attack. The NBA board of governors is continuing with its process to remove Mr. Sterling as expeditiously as possible." Now, Magic Johnson's reality came on twitter. He wrote this, "I'd rather be talking about these great NBA playoffs than Donald Sterling's interviews,"

But Johnson will sit down with Anderson Cooper tonight to address the comments head on in an exclusive interview. That's tonight on CNN's "AC360," 8:00 p.m. Eastern right here.

FEYERICK: Now to the search for hundreds of Nigerian girls abducted from their school and held captive for nearly a month. This morning, manned U.S. planes are flying over Nigeria, hoping to spot something, anything that could lead teams to those girls, that after Boko Haram is believed to have put out this video showing about 100 of the girls. The terror group is now pledging that the girls will not be set free until imprisoned terrorists are released as well.

Vladimir Duthiers is live in Abuja, Nigeria.

And, Vlad, you think about this, it looks like this terror group has really changed strategies. They've done something that was so globally intolerant that now they're saying -- well, we simply want our people released. What is behind it?


Startling proposition that the man claiming to be Abubakar Shekau in this video, the supposed leader of Boko Haram, makes in this video. He says that he will release these girls if the Nigerian government will release his, quote, "brothers" -- in other words, Boko Haram members that the Nigerian government has imprisoned.

For their part, the Nigerian government seemingly interested, or at least willing to negotiate with Boko Haram. They say yesterday in a conversation that I had with security services, they say that all options are on the table, they would be willing to consider anything and everything to bring these girls home, Deborah.

FEYERICK: Using a heinous act to their advantage, interestingly enough.

When you look at that video of the young women, there is also a religious component to this. This was a heavily Christian area. These girls have now apparently been forced to convert to Islam.

What about the other girls? We're looking at about 100 of them, but where are the others?

DUTHIERS: It's a great question. U.S. intelligence reports suggest that perhaps some of these girls may have been split up. It would be very difficult to hide 200-plus girls in any part of the world, but even in a remote area like the Sambisa forest. So, they may be in neighboring Cameroon, Chad, Niger.

But for the parents, Deborah, this for them will be the first proof of life, first signs of hope that they have that some of their children, some of their daughters are alive. FEYERICK: Yes, and we understand also that this tape is being shown to the families just to identify these girls individually.

Vlad Duthiers -- Vladimir Duthiers, thank you so much. We'll check in with you in just a little while.

BLACKWELL: The question this morning in Ukraine is what's next, now that voters in two eastern provinces have approved a referendum calling for independence and an annexation with Russia. But that vote is being called into question by the West and Ukraine's own government. Ukraine's interim prime minister is in Brussels today, holding talks with European officials, as a new poll conducted for CNN finds most Ukrainians, even those in the east, do not want to become part of another nation.

Atika Shubert is live in Donetsk, Ukraine.

Atika, so, the leader of the DPR or self-proclaimed leader of the Donetsk People's Republic says that now they've declared independence. Are you seeing after this weekend's vote any tangible signs of this new independent eastern region?

ATIKA SHUBERT, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Not really. It's much the same. They've taken over the regional administration building now for several weeks, several months, really, and they're sort of administering, if you were, behind barbed wire barricades. What we are seeing is an increasing tension on the streets here.

Even though life seems to be going on as normal, outside the city, across the region there are checkpoints being set up by both Ukrainian troops and by pro-Russian groups, and with that increasing tension, there is the fear that there could be more violence, more lawlessness. Just an hour and a half from here a few days ago, we saw a number of people killed in an outbreak of violence there.

And the fear here is that with this declaration of independence, those -- that violence could erupt again and is likely to erupt as we get closer and closer to the May 25th general election here.

BLACKWELL: So, there's this CNN poll that I mentioned just a few moments ago, Atika, that found that 37 percent of respondents wanted to join Russia, but 47 percent wanted to remain independent, did not want to join Russia, did not want to join the E.U.

What are you hearing from people there?

SHUBERT: I think a lot of people I spoke to on the day of the referendum said they were coming out to vote not necessarily because they wanted independence or even that they wanted to join Russia, but because they were angry with the government in Kiev, that they felt they couldn't gain control and sort of restore normal life here and they were unable to stop the violence. That was their biggest concern.

So, I think those poll findings really reflect that. A lot of people here don't feel that Ukraine should necessarily ally with Russia or the E.U. but needs to find its place in the world, its own standing in the world, and they're very angry. Right now, the government in Kiev is unable to do that.

BLACKWELL: All right. Atika Shubert helping us answer the question of what's next there in Donetsk in eastern Ukraine -- thank you.

Well, it could be the first significant change for air travel in the wake of the disappearance of Malaysia Airlines Flight 370. International officials are meeting today in Montreal, and they're expected to endorse a new standard for tracking aircraft, keeping an eye on them using real time technology, satellites, other methods, so jets simply cannot fall off the radar, as happened with Flight 370.

But the vote will stop short of requiring airlines and governments to adopt those changes.

FEYERICK: And more trouble this morning for the Department of Veterans Affairs. The V.A. has now put two more workers on leave amid allegations of improper scheduling practices. This time at the V.A. hospital in Durham, North Carolina. That's the fourth V.A. hospital where workers are accused of manipulating wait lists so that it appeared that vets were getting appointments much quicker than they actually were.

It's V.A. policy that vets are supposed to get appointments within 14 days, but a CNN investigation showed some vets were dying waiting months for appointments.

BLACKWELL: Another story developing this morning, "American Idol" alum Clay Aiken will likely be declared the winner in a Democratic congressional primary in North Carolina after his opponent suddenly died. 71-year-old Keith Crisco reportedly suffered a fall at his home Monday.

A primary race between Aiken and Crisco was too close to call. Aiken led by just 369 votes. State election officials are expected to clarify the results and certify them today. And Aiken says he's suspending all campaign activities to pray for Crisco's family.

FEYERICK: Happening now, severe spring storms barreling through the country, millions in their path this morning. What you can expect today, coming up on the other side.


BLACKWELL: Sixteen minutes to the top of the hour.

And this morning, we're going to get ready for potentially dangerous weather, heavy rain, possible flooding from Texas to the Great Lakes, after days of intense storms caused major damage.

FEYERICK: And in Wisconsin, it was heavy rain and winds that were responsible for this in Watertown. Part of a building simply sheared off. Crews had no choice but to demolish it as a result. Trees about toppled throughout the state. BLACKWELL: Take a look at this from Illinois. That was a motel, but now it has no roof. Strong winds simply ripped it off. The damage so severe, that building has to be taken down.

FEYERICK: Same story in Iowa, where winds pushed trees into cars like this one in the town of Panora, not from Des Moines. The roof came right off.





BLACKWELL: Yes, it's not quite the movie "Twister." Remember that scene where the cow hit the window? But this is what happened on the roads during a tornado. A piece of farm equipment smashed into the car, storm chasers in Nebraska. No one was hurt, that's the good news, but the man behind the wheel says it's the closest call he's had in 16 years of storm chasing.

FEYERICK: Not bad odds when you think about it.

Police in Ohio are urging people to stay home after flash flooding near Cleveland. Part of interstate 480 had should be shut down, one of many roads overwhelmed by water.

BLACKWELL: In Colorado, it wasn't rain, but snow. Can you believe this? Snow on the roads. Some areas got up to 29 inches of snow, but the snow has now tapered off.

FEYERICK: I was walking outside in New York and it was just so nice to actually not be stepping over snow piles and snow banks.

BLACKWELL: And I don't feel guilty, I really don't. I don't.

FEYERICK: I'm with you there.

Jennifer Gray keeping an eye on all this weather for us this morning -- Jennifer.

JENNIFER GRAY, AMS METEOROLOGIST: Deborah and Victor, we're going to see the focus move more towards the Mississippi River Valley. We've had a lot of severe weather in the plains. Now, we'll see spotty showers and storms move a little farther to the East. We'll even see some scattered activity on the East Coast, still a very high fire threat in the southwest, southern California. We are going to see high pressure stay in control in the Pacific Northwest.

Huge contrast in temperatures, though, 82 degrees in Memphis, 87 in Atlanta, 91 degrees in D.C., staying warm in Los Angeles, but it is only going to get warmer as we go forward in time.

The fire threat will remain very high again tomorrow with very hot temperatures. We'll also see severe storms start to pick back up again right around the Mississippi River Valley, anywhere from Mississippi, Alabama, all the way up to Kentucky, with scattered showers across the Eastern Seaboard.

Look at the temperatures, though, tomorrow in L.A. as we go through tomorrow afternoon, 94 degrees. That fire threat will remain very high. We'll see temperatures a little cooler across the country's midsection, and then warm in the Southeast, 86 degrees in Atlanta -- Victor and Deborah.

BLACKWELL: All right, Jennifer, thank you.

We've got new information this morning after a gun fight ends with an explosion on live television. We'll tell you what led up to this tragedy after the break.


BLACKWELL: It appears the weather is helping some people. Fire crews in Texas trying to knock down a huge wildfire north of Amarillo. Well, the fire is now 65 percent contained, but only after it burned through about 2,500 acres and destroyed at least 90 homes. Roughly 400 people have been evacuated from that area because of the down power lines, and authorities say a cold front and higher humidity are helping that fight.

FEYERICK: Questions this morning in New Hampshire after a police officer's gunned down responding to a domestic disturbance at a home that later exploded into flames. Authorities say officer Steve Arkell was shot as he entered. The suspected gunman is the sob of the -- son of the homeowner, who reportedly died in the fire. A neighbor reportedly police that she saw police arrive at the home and heard, quote, "rapid gunfire."

BLACKWELL: Cross examination is set to begin today for accused terrorist Abu Hamza al-Masri. The fiery Egyptian-born cleric testifying in his own defense for a third day at his trial in New York, steadfastedly denied aiding terrorists. Al-Masri took shots at al Qaeda and the Taliban, saying they have let down the Afghan people and he called Osama bin Laden a hot head.

He's accused of inspiring terrorists, aiding kidnappers and trying to set up a terror training camp in Oregon. Al-Masri has pleaded not guilty.

FEYERICK: Ohio teenager T.J. Lane will have to serve out a sentence of life without parole for shooting three classmates to death in 2012. Attorneys for Lane had asked an appeals court to overturn the sentence, claiming it was too harsh because their client was only 17, a juvenile, when he opened fire on his classmates at Chadron High School. On Monday, the court turned down the request, citing the serious nature of the crime.

BLACKWELL: Actor Paul Walker's death should have been prevented. That's the claim in a new lawsuit filed by the widow of Roger Rodas, who was driving at the time of the crash. Christine Rodas is suing Porsche, saying the 2005 Carrera GT lacked safety features that would have saved both men's lives. She also disputes an investigation that found her husband was driving more than 90 miles per hour. Rodas is seeking unspecified damages.

FEYERICK: Well, the music world still questioning what's going on here after the release of shocking surveillance video reportedly showing rapper Jay-Z being attacked by his wife, Beyonce's sister, Solange. CNN cannot independently confirm the video, but according to TMZ, the over three-minute confrontation happened in an elevator at New York's standard hotel. A woman who appears to be Beyonce is standing right there to the side.

The hotel has opened an investigation into just how this private tape was leaked. Appearing unruffled by the tape's release, Jay-Z and Beyonce were courtside at the Nets game last night.

BLACKWELL: Where is the audio?

FEYERICK: Yes, exactly.

BLACKWELL: Where is the audio?

All right. So, the Oscar Pistorius trial is continuing now. And is his childhood responsible in some part for Reeva Steenkamp's death? The surprising, new testimony on why he killed his girlfriend and what it could mean for the case, after the break.


BLACKWELL: Happening now at the Oscar Pistorius trial in South Africa, the defense and prosecutors are fighting it out over whether the sprinter should face a psychiatric evaluation. You see, a psychiatrist is testifying for the defense that Pistorius suffers from an anxiety disorder and that people with that condition could be a danger to society.

CNN's legal analyst, Kelly Phelps, is live at the courthouse in Pretoria.

Kelly, what is this psychiatrist attributing this anxiety to? What's the source of this anxiety?

KELLY PHELPS, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: Well, actually, she led very detailed evidence yesterday, tracing it back from the earliest moments in his life, in order to display to the court how Pistorius' entire life history, starting from his double amputation at a very early developmental stage in his life, where she says he would have experienced that amputation as a traumatic assault, laid the foundation for the development of this generalized anxiety disorder throughout the rest of his early childhood, teenage years and going into adulthood.

BLACKWELL: How likely do you think it is that the judge will order this psychiatric evaluation?

PHELPS: It's almost impossible to give a forecast on that because this is such a wholly unprecedented situation. You've essentially got a state prosecutor trying to force the hand of the court to consider defense, which is the defense of incapacity or insanity, despite the fact that the accused himself does not want to raise this defense, and that relies on a proper interpretation of the specific piece of legislation. Both legal teams have put forward different views on that interpretation. And depending which one the judge finds to be more persuasive, that will determine the outcome of this application.

BLACKWELL: What would this mean if this were to be ordered for the timeline of this trial?

PHELPS: Well, it could radically alter the timeline, because essentially, what would happen is the trial would be immediately halted, he would be sent for about 30 days of psychiatric evaluation. They would come back to the court.

Now, if the finding of that evaluation is that, in fact, that mental illness was operative on his mind at the time when he committed the conduct, then the trial is finished. A verdict of not guilty by reason of mental illness is declared, and the accused is then potentially subject to involuntary detainment in a mental institution for as long as it takes to cure that affliction, which, of course, could be for the rest of his life.


CNN legal analyst Kelly Phelps -- thank you so much.

FEYERICK: And EARLY START continues right now.