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Magic Johnson Fires Back; Talks in Ukraine Set to Begin; Pistorius Trial on Hold For Psychiatric Evaluation; TSA Issues Warning in Orlando

Aired May 14, 2014 - 04:00   ET



VICTOR BLACKWELL, CNN ANCHOR: Attacked on national television, Magic Johnson is firing back at L.A. Clippers owner, Donald Sterling. Why he was dragged into the billionaire's NBA drama, what he knows about the woman accused of recording Sterling's racist rants, and how Sterling expected Johnson to help him save face. A CNN exclusive ahead.

CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN ANCHOR: A new twist in a tragic mass kidnapping. Girls shown on camera held captive by terrorists, may not all have taken from a school last month. We're learning some of those girls may have been abducted years ago. We are live in Nigeria as this mystery unfolds.

BLACKWELL: Breaking news overnight. The TSA warning travelers of a dangerous virus threat. Two cases already confirmed in the U.S., more cases expected. We'll tell you where health care workers are on alert. That's coming up.

Good morning and welcome to "EARLY START". Good to be with you this morning. Good to be with you. I'm Victor Blackwell.

ROMANS: Nice to see you today. I'm Christine Romans. It's Wednesday, May 14. It is 4:00 a.m. in the east.

This morning, he says he feels disrespected and he is still waiting for an apology. We're talking about Magic Johnson speaking out in an exclusive interview with Anderson Cooper, speaking out about Donald Sterling.

The Los Angeles Clipper's owner caught up in a scandal over racist comments, Sterling went after Johnson during his sit-down with Anderson saying the NBA legend is a bad example for children and hasn't done enough for the black community. Johnson saying Sterling is living in the stone ages, calling the whole situation sad. Listen.


MAGIC JOHNSON, FORMER NBA PLAYER: It was sort of disappointing, but I had to respond in terms, OK, you don't want me to come to your game. I won't come to your games. You don't have to worry about that. But also I was upset because he threw minorities in, African-Americans, Latinos into this situation. And so I had to speak up.

Look, I'm one of the leaders in the black community, so I can't let anybody attack our people and not respond. And so, that's why I responded.

ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR: When -- first of all, you said you were photographed with V. Stiviano. You probably photographed with --

JOHNSON: Millions of people.

COOPER: Millions of people. Do you know where -- he claimed in this interview that I did with him the other day, he said you -- you knew her. You knew her well.

JOHNSON: These are the facts, Anderson. I never met this young lady. I took a picture with her. Probably -- looked like at a Dodger game. That's it. That's all I know of her. You know, and then he says I'm trying to set him up. How am I trying to set you up? He asked me to go on the Barbara Walters who with him.

COOPER: This was what? A week ago? A week and a half ago?

JOHNSON: A week ago.

COOPER: Because he met with Barbara Walters on a Friday.

JOHNSON: Exactly. It was before that. I told him I wouldn't do it. I said the number one thing you need to do which you haven't done is apologize to everybody and myself. "I'll get to that. I'll get to that."

COOPER: So he wanted you to go on with Barbara Walters sitting next to him?

JOHNSON: Sitting next to him.

COOPER: To kind of give him cover?

JOHNSON: Exactly. So I said no. Then I told him, I said, "Donald, you should consult with your attorneys." I said, "This thing is a big thing, and you should deal with your attorneys and let them advise you on what to do." But I said, "You need to go public and apologize to everybody.

COOPER: How did he respond?

JOHNSON: "I'll apologize later, but I want you to go on this show." He was adamant about me going on this show with him. And I told him no. I wouldn't do it. And that's what happened. When I saw the interview, it's sad. It really is. I'm a -- I'm going to pray for this young man. I hope Donald can see the mistake that he has made and also the people he has hurt along the way.

And then what's really sad, you know, it's not about me. This is about the woman you love outing you and taping you and putting your -- and putting your conversation out here for everybody to know. That wasn't me. I didn't do that. I don't know this young lady. This is between you two.


BLACKWELL: Well, as for Donald Sterling, we're hearing more now from his interview with Anderson Cooper where he apologized and lashed out at Magic Johnson. Well, Sterling is also talking about his wife and his own behavior.


DONALD STERLING, OWNER OF THE L.A. CLIPPERS: I think we'll divorce. I think she's already filed. I guess I was bad committing all those terrible -- I don't even want to say it. But, you know, people say how do you commit adultery?

You justify things. You say, well, every man or parents (ph) or friends have a mistress. I mean, it may make you smile, but when you are so old, you don't think it's wrong anymore, if you have a little bit of fun. You don't have much time. If you have a little bit of fun, you can't do what you did before. And nobody expects -- but you want to be cared for. Everybody wants to be cared for. I made such a mistake. I thought that woman really cared for me.


BLACKWELL: Well, you can see much more of Anderson's exclusive interview with Donald Sterling tonight on "AC 360" 8 p.m. Eastern here on CNN.

ROMANS: So yesterday I asked Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban about Donald Sterling and whether the NBA owners might vote to force him to sell. Listen to what he told me.


MARK CUBAN, DALLAS MAVERICKS OWNER: I can't comment on Mr. Sterling. But what I can say is, we are a franchise organization, right? So it's not in the -- it's not apples to apples and taking property. And that's kind of what I've learned since my original comments. You know, it's like if the McDonald's -- someone who is a McDonald's franchisee starting talking about spitting in the French Fries, right --

ROMANS: He'd lose his franchise.

CUBAN: -- you would lose your franchise.


ROMANS: Cuban also said he thinks the Clippers will sell likely for more than $1 billion. He says well more than $1 billion. We'll have more from my interview with Mark Cuban in our next half hour, including what he thinks of the tech bubble and his new app called cyber dust. He's really worried about privacy and how people -- you have this footprint that just exists forever on social media. That whole interview will air this Saturday on "YOUR MONEY", and you can go to to read more about what Mark Cuban told me.

BLACKWELL: Well, the (inaudible) at a coal mine in western Turkey is becoming even more desperate. At least 205 workers have been killed by an explosion and fire with more than 200 trapped 500 yards down. There's this massive rescue operation unfolding overnight at the facility 150 miles south of Istanbul. Authorities say nearly 800 people were in that mine when a transformer exploded. Nearly half of those people have been rescued. We'll have a live report from Turkey on the latest in the next half hour.

ROMANS: This morning, we're finding out new details in the search for hundreds of Nigerian girls abducted and missing for weeks. Nigerian officials say they have now identified 77 of them in this video allegedly put out by the terror group Boko Haram.

But some relatives say it's not their daughters in the video, and some of the girls shown may have been abducted years earlier. Nima Elbagir is live for us in Abuja, Nigeria this morning.

Nima, If the families are right, does that make it harder to track these girls down?

NIMA ELBAGIR, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Sadly, Christine, any miscommunication or confusion contributes to the loss of time, which, in an operation like this, you just can't afford. And that's in addition to the setback of the four or five days of head start that the militants had while the Nigerian authorities scrambled to move.

But what is providing the families some kind of glimmer of hope is the deployment of those U.S. spy planes because they're allowing the Nigerian military to access information. They're allowing Nigerian military to get a much broader picture of the terrain out there. It is dense, difficult, in some places, impenetrable forest.


ROMANS: Unbelievable. So, in terms of the girls who are in this video, they think many of these were abducted prior to these girls in the school going missing. Have they identified the girls?

ELBAGIR: Well, the campaign of abductions that Boko Haram's been waging, that stretches across much of the north of Nigeria. So to try to pinpoint specific families that these girls -- you know, from a grainy video posted online, that's going to be tough. And that's another issue that is slowing things down.

But I understand that a lot of the families that have lost girls within the last four or five years in the Boko Haram insurgency, they are coming forward. They're going themselves to the Nigerian authorities trying to help, but also, crucially, trying to find out if this is going to be the time when they finally find out what happened to their children.

ROMANS: All right, Nima. Thank you so much for that report this morning. Troubling. BLACKWELL: Well, now to the new worries that a mysterious virus may be spreading. The TSA has now posted warnings at airports over MERS, Middle East Respiratory Syndrome. And at least 20 health care workers in Orlando are being told to stay home after being possibly exposed to a man with the illness. Alina Machado have the latest from Orlando.

ALINA MACHADO, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Christine, Victor, this is where the 44-year-old man, the second confirmed MERS case in the U.S., is being treated this morning. Doctors say he is in good condition and is improving. This is also where one employee is hospitalized after showing possible symptoms.

Now that employee is one of 20 from two Orlando area hospitals who are being evaluated for possible exposure to MERS. They have all undergone testing and have told to stay home for at least 14 days.

Now take a listen to what an infectious disease specialist tells us about the situation.


MACHADO: What special precautions has the hospital taking to prepare for this?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Interesting. We actually have been preparing for this virus. And last year, we did actually -- about a year ago, we did an exercise just to see how our system work. And the example that was used was a fictitious patient with MERS. So we -- I believe that we have been prepared well for this, but, you know, until it arrives, that's when you really know (inaudible).


MACHADO: The initial testing results should be available some time this week; it could be as early as today. Doctors are waiting to learn those results before deciding what to do next. Victor? Christine?

BLACKWELL: All right, Alina Machado for us from Orlando.

Breaking news this morning, this wildfire is forcing thousands to leave their homes in California. What's already been destroyed, ahead?

ROMANS: And parents terrified when a bounce house soars 50 feet into the air with children inside. Children sent flying, two of them, seriously injured. How could this happen? That story, next.


BLACKWELL: Firefighters in the San Diego area are finally getting the upper hand on a wildfire that forced the evacuation of 5,000 homes. More than 800 acres have already been burned. Parents had to pick up their children from the three different elementary schools because of the fire threat. But officials say those schools in the Fairbanks Ranch neighborhood will be open this morning. And also this morning, the evacuation orders have been lifted. Just happened moments ago.

ROMANS: All right, it's the kind of drama you usually see on television, not at a TV station. A driver ramming a dump truck into the studios of WMARTV just outside Baltimore.

Witnesses say he was screaming, ranting, talking incoherently. He was claiming he was God and he needed to get inside. All the employees got out safely. A SWAT team eventually found the suspect on the second floor where he was watching the whole thing play out on TV. He's now at a hospital being evaluated for a suspected mental illness.

BLACKWELL: New details this morning as police try to make sense of a deadly shooting, a fire, and this explosion at a New Hampshire home. Investigators say there are no criminal records connected to Michael Nolan, the man accused of shooting and killing a police officer, and then setting the house on fire. Well, that happened after the officer arrived to look into a domestic dispute. Two sets of remains were found at the house, believed to be Nolan's and those of the officer, Steve Arkell.

ROMANS: "American Idol" star Clay Aiken will soon be a Democratic nominee for Congress. Official results show Aiken won North Carolina the primary in the second congressional district. He won by just under 400 votes. The final tally will be certified tomorrow. The singer has suspended his campaign following the death of his opponent, Keith Crisco. Aiken faces an uphill battle this fall against tea party favorite Renee Ellmers, who's seeking a third term.

BLACKWELL: Idaho could be the next state to recognize same-sex marriages. A federal judge has struck down Idaho's voter-approved amendment defining marriage as between a man and a woman. Well, the judge writes this, that the amendment violated the Constitution's promise of equal protection. But she stated her ruling until Friday -- stated (ph), rather, until Friday, until she could give a higher court time to intervene. The governor is promising to appeal.

ROMANS: Alleged terrorist Abu Hamza Amas (ph), expected back on the stand in New York today after clashing with prosecutors during the first day of cross-examination, insisting he never called for innocent people to be killed. The radical Muslim cleric is accused of inspiring terrorists, like the 9/11 hijacker Mohamed Atta, aiding kidnappers in Yemen, and attempting to -- to found a terror training camp in Oregon. He has pleaded not guilty.

BLACKWELL: The FBI says it has received hundreds of calls about William Vahey, a teacher suspected of drugging and molesting boys across four continents. Now that teacher killed himself in March after a maid in Nicaragua found evidence of molestation on a computer memory drive. The FBI calls him likely one of the most prolific pedophiles in history, and agents want to track down every possible victim.

New developments this morning from Georgia, where the family of Kendrick Johnson is now suing the Lowndes Country board of education. The suit is on behalf of the 17-year-old's estate. And it claims the district did not do enough to protect their son from harassment and bullying. Johnson's body was found in a rolled gym mat in his high school last year. Federal prosecutors are looking into the case now. The sheriff called his death accidental.

ROMANS: Incredible pictures to show you this morning from northern New York state where two young children are now in the hospital after the Little Tyke's bounce house they were playing in got caught in the wind and flew away. Five and 6-year-old boys, they both suffered from injuries. Both fell more than 15 feet into the air. Neighbors say for everything they saw, the family put the toy together property and staked it down.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Anything that could have been done wrong wasn't. Everything was done properly. And that's the only thing I can say positively that nothing was done wrong.


ROMANS: A 10-year-old girl playing inside, she suffered minor injuries. One witness called what happened like a horror movie.

And I reported these stories before, these bouncy houses that just get pulled up by the wind. They get plucked right out of -- the stakes come right up out of the ground, and the kids inside just thrown out, thrown on to the ground. You can see in those pictures how high it was.

BLACKWELL: I can't imagine being a parent and watching your kids kind of lifted into the air here.

ROMANS: One of the little boy's fell on to a street; the other little boy fell into the back of a car.


All right, you know, this morning, there are -- this threat of severe weather. It continues now, affecting millions of people, drenching rain, strong winds, maybe even hail for the mid part of the country.

ROMANS: That's right. That's what some experienced about 40 miles north of Chicago. Look at this, downpours, flooding roads in Lake County. The area received upwards of four inches of rain over two days.

BLACKWELL: Jennifer Gray is watching these storms and has your forecast this morning. Jennifer?

JENNIFER GRAY, METEOROLOGIST: Christine and Victor, we're going to see severe storms possible today in the Mississippi River Valley, anywhere from Mississippi, Alabama, Tennessee, even including portions of Kentucky.

The opposite side of things, we have that fire threat still going to remain in southern California. Very, very hot and dry conditions will stay in place in that part of the country. Warm across the east coast; 82 in D.C.. Sixty-seven in New York, very nice. Sixty-nine in Dallas and a cool 59 degrees in Denver. Los Angeles, 94 degrees today.

We will see showers across much of the country as we go through tomorrow anywhere from Texas all the way up to the Great Lakes. We're also going to see scattered storms along the east coast. So a rainy day tomorrow.

Meanwhile, it will still hot and dry in southern California with temperatures tomorrow reaching 94 degrees in Los Angeles. We'll keep temperatures mild across the midsection; 79 degrees in Dallas, 69 in Atlanta, just a bit cooler, 83 in D.C.

Christine and Victor?

ROMANS: All right, Jennifer Gray, thank you for that.

BLACKWELL: Thank you very much.

Happening today, Ukraine in crisis. We now know for months on the brink of being split in pieces. But could a peace deal be on the way? We are live with the latest, next.


ROMANS: All right, breaking news in South Africa, the Oscar Pistorius trial is on hold. The judge has just ruled Pistorius will have to face a 30-day psychiatric evaluation. This, after a psychiatrist testifying for the defense said the sprinter was suffering from an anxiety disorder. Much more coming up in just a few minutes here on "EARLY START". But this would be a huge delay now -- further delay, in this trial, which seemed like it was wrapping up.

And again, it was the defense that introduced this general anxiety. The prosecution said, oh, we need to make sure. We need to have a mental health evaluation to determine that. Now has to be scheduled, 30 days of observation. It's a big delay.

BLACKWELL: And then after the evaluation, you've got to release it to the prosecution to determine how it works into the case. This could go on for months.

ROMANS: Anyway, a big, big, big development this morning in that case.

Happening today in Ukraine, talks are set to begin between the government and separatists. They've (ph) been battling for months in the eastern part of the country. Comes days after the separatists say two eastern provinces voted for succession and just hours after Ukraine says six of its soldiers were ambushed.

Erin McLaughlin has the latest from Kiev for us this morning. And Erin, are these talks likely to achieve anything?

ERIN MCLAUGHLIN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Hi, Christine. Well, I just got off the phone with a western diplomat who tells me that today's talks demonstrate a real effort on the part of the Ukrainian government to make some sort of progress.

That being said, separatist leaders have not been invited to participate in today's talks. The Ukrainian government saying that they do not negotiate with terrorists, and the separatist leaders, for their part, saying that they do not negotiate with what they characterize now as an occupying force.

Now, these talks take place amidst a back-drop of violence. Yesterday, six Ukrainian soldiers were killed in the area of Slovyansk (ph) when their convoy was ambushed by separatists. A fire fight ensued, resulting in those deaths.

And European officials I've talked to tell me that it really represents a big blow to the Ukrainian military, which is already, they say, in a pretty poor state, and also perhaps represents growing capabilities of these separatists in eastern Ukraine.

A European official telling me that they have noticed in the past two weeks a marked up-tick in heavy weaponry in the hands of some of these separatists, things like RPGs and AK-47s.

So, while this European official telling me that it's not clear the point of origin for these weapons, he did say that it's not something you'd find in your normal hardware store. Western officials and Ukraine officials have long said they long believe Russia is having a direct impact in the -- or a direct influence in eastern Ukraine, something the Russian -- Russian government has denied.


ROMANS: Yeah, certainly a security situation that is deteriorating and something that's a big concern for the Ukrainian people. Thank you so much for that. Erin McLaughlin for us this morning.

BLACKWELL: Also this morning, Magic Johnson on the record about the bizarre insults leveled at him by embattled L.A. Clippers owner, Donald Sterling in that CNN exclusive. We've got more, next.