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Donald Sterling Apologetic But on the Attack; Ukraine in Crisis as Eastern Provinces Declare Independence; Search Intensifies in Nigeria; LeBron James Ties Playoff High 49 Points

Aired May 13, 2014 - 05:00   ET


DEBORAH FEYERICK, CNN ANCHOR: Apologetic but on the attack. Donald Sterling lashing out at Magic Johnson. The L.A. Clippers owner was trying to explain the racist remarks that got him banned into the NBA, but instead launched into a tirade by why children shouldn't look up to Magic. The shocking CNN exclusive, ahead.

VICTOR BLACKWELL, CNN ANCHOR: Happening now: the search is intensifying for those hundreds of Nigerian girls kidnapped from their school by armed militants. U.S. investigators are flying manned missions over the country, of course, hoping to track down the terrorists and find the girls. We're live with what's happening right now.

FEYERICK: And Ukraine on the brink of breaking into pieces. Eastern provinces having declared independence now asking to join Russia, but is that what the majority of the people there really want? We are live on the ground with the very latest.

Good morning, everyone. So glad you could start your day with us EARLY START. ." I'm Deborah Feyerick.

BLACKWELL: I'm Victor Blackwell. Good to be with you this morning, Tuesday, May 13th, 5:00 a.m. in East.

We're starting this morning with Donald Sterling and the shocking, new comments made during this Anderson Cooper interview, an exclusive interview. Sterling is apologizing for the racially charged remarks that got him banned from the NBA for life, but also is blasting basketball legend Magic Johnson, the very person he was talking about when he told V. Stiviano she shouldn't be seen with black people.

Listen to part of what Sterling said.


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 kind of a guy goes to every city, has sex with every girl, and then he 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: A lot of reaction to that also, including NBA commissioner Adam Silver. We've got the response, a statement here. He writes, "I'm just reading 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, for his part, tweeted overnight that he'd rather be talking about the NBA playoffs than Donald Sterling's interview, but we will hear Magic Johnson in his own words tonight on "AC360." he's sitting down with Anderson Cooper for an exclusive interview. That's tonight at 8:00 p.m. Eastern here on CNN.

FEYERICK: And this morning, Ukraine's interim prime minister is in Brussels holding talks with European officials over what's next, now that separatists say two provinces have voted to leave Ukraine and annex their region with Russia. But it comes as a new poll conducted for CNN finds that most Ukrainians feel more loyal to Europe than they do Russia, and actually, approve of sanctions against Vladimir Putin's allies.

Atika Shubert is live in Donetsk, Ukraine, right now.

And, Atika, there is going to be another referendum in a couple of weeks, a presidential referendum. Is that going to trump this particular vote, or have they now become completely separate?

ATIKA SHUBERT, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, as far as the self-declared Donetsk People's Republic is concern, they consider this area now completely independent of Ukraine, but of course, Kiev doesn't see it that way, and Kiev believes that the general election on May 25th is the only way to resolve this crisis. So, they're going to push ahead with the vote.

But it's not clear, and it seems impossible to hold a vote under these conditions here. The regional administration building, which would normally be the hub of any vote, is now under barbed wire and barricades, taken over by masked men carrying arms. And there's checkpoints all across this region set up by pro-Russian groups and Ukrainian troops driving from here to another city can take hours longer now.

So, in terms of actually getting a vote out on May 25th, it seems virtually impossible, but Kiev says that's the only way to move ahead.

FEYERICK: Yes, it's fascinating, because what you have there is, essentially, a hostile takeover by these pro-Russian rebels. A lot of the rest of the world considers this vote illegitimate.

What is Vladimir Putin doing? Has he accepted the fact that this area and another province also wants to be annexed? I mean, they were able to annex Crimea.

SHUBERT: Well, that's exactly it. Crimea is the precedent, and that happened very quickly, very smoothly. They had a vote on the referendum, a few days later, a vote to join Russia that was quickly accepted.

That's not the case here. Here, the Donetsk People's Republic has declared independence and have put out an appeal to join the Russian Federation. But the answer has been nothing from Moscow that we've seen so far. The Kremlin has said they accepted the preliminary results. They were happy to see the referendum going ahead without much violence.

But they haven't said whether or not they're going to accept Donetsk and Luhansk, these two portions of eastern Ukraine, as part of the Russian Federation. In fact, the Kremlin says that Luhansk, Donetsk, and Kiev should sit down to the negotiating table to come up with a solution, but nobody seems to be doing that yet, Deborah.

FEYERICK: Absolutely, and clearly the destabilization of that country and that region continue. Atika Shubert for us there in Ukraine, thank you.

BLACKWELL: Let's go to Nigeria now, where this morning, U.S. planes are helping hunt for hundreds of girls abducted by terrorists. The U.S. is searching the sky and sharing satellite images in hopes of figuring out just where those girls are being hidden and whether it's them in this new video, purportedly put out by Boko Haram, which is promising it will not to release them unless prisoners from that terror group are set free.

Vladimir Duthiers is live in Abuja, Nigeria.

Vlad, are the Nigerians, the Nigerian government, are they at least considering this swap, essentially?

VLADIMIR DUTHIERS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Hey, Victor. Well, they are indeed considering that. In fact, yesterday when we pressed Nigerian government officials for a response to this claim made by supposedly the leader of Boko Haram, Abubakar Shekau, where he says that he is willing to exchange some of these girls in return for his, quote, "brothers" that are being held in Nigerian prisons, government officials said to us that all options are on the table. They're willing to consider anything and everything to bring these girls home.

Now, you have to realize that for the parents that have been waiting for almost a month now, victor, for some proof of life, some sign of hope that their daughters and their children are alive, this video, if it turns out to be legit, is that proof of life, Victor.

BLACKWELL: We see this leader of Boko Haram in this video, Vlad?

DUTHIERS: We do see him, and he doesn't appear, Victor, with the girls, which is very interesting. He appears in a separate portion of the video.

Now, yesterday, when we also pressed Nigerian government officials about this tape, we asked the deputy director of state security services here in Nigeria about the man claiming to be Abubakar Shekau in this video. And she very forcefully told me that this is not Abubakar Shekau, that this is another man, that Abubakar Shekau was killed.

Now, the Nigerian government has in the past made these claims. A lot of people who are experts at studying Boko Haram say it's simply not true. In fact, we have one man here who's negotiated with Boko Haram in the past and said it's an out and out lie -- Victor.

BLACKWELL: Vladimir Duthiers in Abuja, Nigeria -- thank you, Vlad.

FEYERICK: And happening today, international officials are set to vote on setting a new standard for tracking flights, using satellites and other methods to keep a closer eye on jets, this in the wake of the disappearance of Malaysia Airlines Flight 370. Officials from around the world are expected to endorse the move but stopped short of requiring formal changes.

BLACKWELL: This morning, there's word another V.A. hospital is being investigated for possible improper scheduling practices. Two employees at the Durham, North Carolina, V.A. hospital have now been put on leave, making it the fourth V.A. facility facing allegations that lists were manipulated to make it seem veterans were not waiting months for appointments. V.A. policy states that no vet is supposed to wait more than 14 days to see a doctor or some other medical professional.

FEYERICK: And the NSA is allegedly installing spyware and back doors on American-made routers, servers and hard drives. Then they're repackaging the equipment before it's shipped overseas in order to conduct surveillance on international networks and users. That is the claim coming from documents provided by NSA leaker Edward Snowden to journalist Glenn Greenwald. The NSA admits using U.S.-made hardware to protect American's interests but won't comment specifically on these latest accusations.

BLACKWELL: Political bickering is preventing a Senate vote on the Keystone XL Pipeline project. A bipartisan energy bill was voted down by senators, meaning the pipeline project is not likely to get further consideration until after midterm elections in November. Well, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid promised a separate vote on Keystone if an unrelated energy efficiency bill supported by both parties passed, but it failed over Republican attempts to add on amendments.

FEYERICK: Clay Aiken, the "American Idol," is suspending all campaign activities following the death of his opponent in a North Carolina congressional race. Authorities say 71-year-old Keith Crisco died suddenly Monday at his home. The Democratic primary race in North Carolina's 2nd congressional district had been too close to call with Aiken ahead by just 369 votes. After the results are certified today, it's expected the state Democratic Party will choose Aiken as its official nominee.

BLACKWELL: Severe storms are tearing through the middle part of the country, tornadoes, flooding and snow. Indra Petersons is tracking what you can expect for today.

FEYERICK: And it's the fight everyone's talking about. Is that Jay-Z versus his sister-in-law? Who's winning? We're going to take a look.


BLACKWELL: About a quarter after the hour. And the weather today, it could be really dangerous and stormy for millions of people. Heavy rain is expected over Texas, and all the way north to the Great Lakes, after days of intense, really severe storms.

FEYERICK: So, look at these pictures from Wisconsin. Heavy rains and winds downed trees. Even parts of buildings simply sheared off. This one had to be demolished because of the storm damage.

BLACKWELL: Same story in Illinois, this is where strong winds took the roof off this motel. Officials say it's not salvageable, so crews will have to just tear that building down.

FEYERICK: And severe damage as well in Iowa. Strong winds dropping a tree right on to this car and pulling the roof right off a home in the town of Panora, about 40 miles west of Des Moines.





BLACKWELL: Can't say that's the word I would have chosen, but it works for television. You shouldn't be out driving in a possible tornado. And here's the evidence. These storm chasers got hit by a piece of farm equipment, you saw it, on a Nebraska road while out tracking a twister. No one was hurt, good news there, good news, but the man in this shot, he's driving, says it's the closest call he's had in 16 years chasing storms.

FEYERICK: And severe thunderstorms to blame for flash flooding near Cleveland. Roads overtaken by water. Parts of a major interstate had to be shut down for hours. Police are urging residents just to stay home.

BLACKWELL: And while the calendar says May, look at this. This is Colorado. They are digging out from feet of snow, more than 29 inches in the northern-central part of the state.

FEYERICK: Indra Petersons is here. And you know, looking at all this, it is actually crazy!

INDRA PETERSONS, AMS METEOROLOGIST: That's the word I've been using, too.

BLACKWELL: I'll go with that.

PETERSONS: Literally cold. It's not like an inch of snow this late in the season, right?


PETERSONS: So, here's the problem, you have all the cold air that was right here and then the warm, moist air coming out of the Gulf. So as soon as you saw the storm system move into the middle of the country, you literally saw all these thunderstorms explode. That's the problem. The other problem, looking at the next 24 hours, it's really not progressing to the east fast enough. It's a slow-moving system.

So with that, talking about heavy amounts of rain and flooding. So, very easy to see the heavy rain that's expected not only today, but as we go forward in time. We're going to watch that storm system still quite slowly progress to the East. So with that, adding more moisture, especially when we start to see that low develop out of the gulf and pull even more moisture in there. You have the threat for more rain and flooding.

So, that's the big story today, you start to see some of the big amounts. Notice towards the mid-Atlantic, we'll start to see heavy rain over the next several days.

The other side of this is the big temperature contrast. We kind of talked about this, right? We know these temperatures at least will rebound into the 50s. You're out of the snow, hopefully seeing that melt, but look, almost 90 degrees out towards Atlanta.

So, that's the big contrast across the country, but to notice in the Northeast, temperatures are actually going down. What a change!

You actually need that forecast in Boston today. If you were not paying attention, yesterday was 85 degrees. Look at that temperature drop, down to 54 today.

As a back-door cold front kind of slides in from the Northeast, you're going to start to see temperatures back off. New York City, actually only upper 60s, not as bad as 54 for Boston.

But a lot is going on. That's what I'm here for, guys.

FEYERICK: You know, I am not a meteorologist, but that temperature change actually frightens me. I'm like, oh, good, I'm not stepping over snow piles, but it's a little humid.

PETERSONS: It's kind of funny how 50s used to feel good. Now it seems cold.

BLACKWELL: I'll take any of that over snow.

FEYERICK: Exactly.

BLACKWELL: Eighty-five, 54, I'm in.

FEYERICK: I'm thinking California's the place to be.

BLACKWELL: Thanks, Indra.

FEYERICK: All right.

BLACKWELL: So, this morning, this fire in Amarillo, north of Amarillo, firefighters are getting some help, because the humidity's going up. The fire has destroyed more than 90 homes now. Efforts to contain it are moving slowly, 65 percent contained, but they're cautious the flames could shift again.

Right now, more than 400 people remain evacuated, but as we said, the cold front is raising humidity and it's hoped containment may grow today.

FEYERICK: Authorities in New Hampshire investigating the shooting death of a police officer after responding to a domestic dispute at a home that later caught fire and exploded, as you see there. Dramatic. The Brentwood, New Hampshire, officer is identified as Steven Arkell. Police say the suspected gunman, Michael Nolan, is the son of the homeowner. It is believed that he died in the fire.

BLACKWELL: Today, alleged terrorist Abu Hamza al-Masri is back on the stand in New York after flatly denying providing any aid to terrorists and testifying that Osama bin Laden was a hot head. The Egyptian-born cleric is accused of inspiring 9/11 attacker Mohammed Atta, helping kidnappers in Yemen and trying to set up a terror training camp in Oregon. Al-Masri has pleaded not guilty. Prosecutors are expected to begin cross examination today.

FEYERICK: Yes, he was actually from London there.

Appeal denied. An Ohio teenager who shot and killed three fellow students inside his high school in 2012 will have to serve out his sentence of life without parole. Attorneys for 19-year-old T.J. Lane claim their client should never have received such a harsh sentence because he was just 17, a juvenile, when he opened fire, killing his classmates. But an appeals court says the sentence will stand because Lane planned his attack for weeks without any sort of provocation.

BLACKWELL: Porsche is now being sued over the crash that left actor Paul Walker dead. The widow of driver Roger Rodas says the 2005 Porsche Carrera GT lacked several safety features that would have saved both men's lives. Kristine Rodas also says her husband was driving 55, not the 90 miles per hour investigators said. She's seeking unspecified damages.

FEYERICK: And an alleged family feud going viral this morning. How come? Well, because it's between two celebs. The release of the surveillance video reportedly shows rapper Jay-Z being attacked by Beyonce's sister, Solange. Yes. OK, there she goes. Take a look.

Something got her angry. Well, CNN cannot independently confirm the video. According to TMZ, it happened in an elevator at New York's chic standard hotel downtown. A woman who seems to resemble Beyonce is standing right there to the side as the conflict lasted for more than three minutes. The hotel says they're investigating how this video was leaked in the first place. Last night the first couple of pop were picture perfect once again, taking in a Nets game in Brooklyn.

BLACKWELL: I don't know, looks a little icy there.


BLACKWELL: They're kind of just sitting there.

FEYERICK: You would think he might have his hand on her knee, but oh well.


Well, let's talk about the Nets. Not their night. No, Monday belonged to King James, almost solely, all alone, leading his Heat to a big victory.

Brian McFayden has the details in the "Bleacher Report," next.


BLACKWELL: The Miami Heat continue to roll through the playoffs with another win over the Brooklyn Nets, and, of course, it was LeBron James once again leading the charge.

FEYERICK: Brian McFayden breaks it all down for us in this morning's "Bleacher Report."

Hey there, Brian.

BRIAN MCFAYDEN, BLEACHER REPORT: Hey, good morning, guys.

That's right. LeBron James was one point shy from scoring 50 points against the Nets last night, tying his career high with 49. The game was actually pretty close, going back and forth, but LeBron was unstoppable. Well, he did stop for a moment to talk to Jay-Z and Beyonce, hey, girl, sitting courtside. He'd go on to win 102-96. They take a 3-1 series lead with game five in Miami on Wednesday.

Trending on this morning, the Trailblazers keeping their playoff dreams alive. Damian Lillard led the way for the Blazers, slashing to the basket with no answer from the Spurs. Super Bowl winning coach Pete Carroll, he's enjoying this, rubbing elbows with Paul Allen. There he is.

More NBA playoffs action on TNT tonight. Pacers have a chance to finish their series with a win over the Wizards at 7:00 eastern. Clippers and Thunder get going at 9:30. Their series is tied at two games apiece.

The NFL's first openly gay player, Michael Sam, picked 249th in the NFL draft, has more jerseys sold than number one pick Jadeveon Clowney, all according to the rankings track at the NFL sales shop. Important to note fans won't get delivery of their jerseys until a number is assigned. Michael Sam sits second behind all rookies and behind new Cleveland quarterback Johnny Football, Johnny Manziel.

Back to you guys.

BLACKWELL: Brian, I wonder what LeBron leaned in and asked Jay-Z and Beyonce, like, hey, hey, hey, what happened in the elevator?

FEYERICK: Can I get concert tickets?

BLACKWELL: I would want to know what happened in the elevator, what set her off.

MCFAYDEN: He's probably like, it wasn't me.

BLACKWELL: Good choice. Good choice of Jay-Z music.

All right. Thank you, Brian. So, Donald Sterling in his own words about that lifetime ban from the NBA, the possibility he'll be forced to sell his team, and now, why Magic Johnson is a bad role model. You will certainly want to hear this. Everyone will be talking about it this morning.

Stay with us.