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California Wildfires Rage, One Person Charged; Eyewitness Drives Through Inferno; First Lady: U.S. Schools Too Segregated; Data Controversy Surrounds Flight 370; Top VA Official Resigns Amid Scandal; Political Sights Set on Hillary for 2016; Spread of Deadly Virus is More Urgent; Sunken Wreck Could Be Columbus' Ship

Aired May 17, 2014 - 08:00   ET


VICTOR BLACKWEL, CNN ANCHOR: Thank you and thank you for starting your morning with us.

CHRISTI PAUL, CNN ANCHOR: Your next hour of NEW DAY starts right now.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: One of the arrestees is 19 years old and the other one is a juvenile. They are being looked at for two fires that were being set.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The truth is, it's not outdated. The data belongs to the Malaysian authorities and it belongs to them for the accident investigation work that's going on at the moment. It's a matter for the authorities to decide what they will do with their data.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The question is, are you going to run?

HILLARY CLINTON, FORMER SECRETARY OF STATE: I am running, around the park.


PAUL: She's always armed for that question. She always knows it's coming and how to answer it, but not quite answer it.

BLACKWELL: No, not answer it yet.

PAUL: Good morning, everybody. I'm Christi Paul.

BLACKWELL: I'm Victor Blackwell, 8:00 here on the east coast, 5:00 out west. It's NEW DAY SATURDAY. We're starting with the raging fires in Southern California right now.

PAUL: Firefighters, as we speak, are trying to contain six active fires around San Diego. Take a look at the latest pictures we're getting in here. Police have now charged, this is the big news overnight, as well. They've charged one of three people arrested for alleged arson. Now, so far, we know more than 27,000 acres have been scorched and nearly 200,000 people have been told to evacuate.

BLACKWELL: The bit of good news is that firefighters are making progress, but they're not in the clear yet because strong winds and dry temperatures are fuelling the flames, although we know from our meteorologist that the weather is helping. Officials warn that thousands of homes are still in danger. They also say that the fires are unprecedented. In some cases the flames that you see in the video, take a look, again. Spitting out winds as strong as a tornado.

Let's bring in CNN's Dan Simon in San Marcos. You're standing at a home that was destroyed by these flames, but that's not the picture everywhere. It's kind of hopscotching through these neighborhoods?

DAN SIMON, CNN CORRESPONDENT: That's exactly right, Victor and Christi, good morning. The winds are picking up. When we came to you last hour, it was relatively calm and now all of a sudden the winds are kicking up again. Let's hope that doesn't mean that the fires are going to kick up. We'll just have to wait and see, but we are in San Marcos, California. This is one of the hardest hit areas. You can see this home is just a smoky, charred mess. This was somebody's dream home.

They had this glorious view of the San Diego area. I could tell you that in San Marcos where things were very bad, say 48 hours ago, it's now 50 percent contained. That is good news. We talked a little bit about the weather and the winds were relatively calm and they're kicking up, but the temperatures have cooled and the humidity has gone up, that enabled firefighters to get a much better handle on things of all these fires that we've seen over the last few days. Most of them are contained or nearly contained.

There's just a few problematic areas, San Marcos being one of them, the Camp Pendleton Marine Base being another. We'll see what the day brings and still a lot of resources on the ground. More than 1,000 firefighters continuing to battle these blazes and a lot of military aircraft continuing to dump water on these flames -- Victor and Christi.

PAUL: Dan, what can you tell us or what have you burned about these three people that have been arrested and at least one person now charged.

SIMON: Well, here's the thing, when these fires first broke out, you had eight breakout essentially within 24 hours. So, there was immediate speculation, Christi, that arson may be at play. So, we know that two teenagers were arrested. They're accused of trying to start some brush fires and then the next day a gentleman in his 50s was arrested trying to spark a brush fire.

At this point, they're just accused of trying to start some small fires but, they are obviously investigating to see whether or not they may be involved with some of these larger fires. The main focus right now trying to put out these flames and put these hot spots out, but of course, simultaneously, they are trying to look at the cause -- Christi, Victor.

PAUL: Dan Simon, we so appreciate the update, thank you.

BLACKWELL: Thank you, Dan. PAUL: One of the eyewitnesses who was running for his life was Jeb Durgin. Here's a look at some of the chaos that he was facing.

BLACKWELL: A lot of bleeps there and who could blame him when you're driving through this. Towering inferno along with a co-worker who shot the video. He joined us earlier by phone this morning and he talked about what he was thinking and what he was feeling in the middle of all of this.


JEB DURGIN, DROVE THROUGH RAGING WILDFIRE (via telephone): The fear, excitement. There was a lot of emotions that were running through my head and in the moment there was, actually, through the video you could see the most intense moment. That would be where the flames were on the right side of the car and there was actually, what you can't see in the video is what was going on in front of us. There is quite a bit and at that moment when there were flames and there were smoke and there were people driving through the middle, the median. Any which way you look there is a little bit of chaos at that moment and that is probably when I was most fearful.


PAUL: And you know half the battle of these wildfires is the weather and how that's going to treat it. We just heard Dan Simon say he feels like the winds have picked up where he is there in San Marcos.

BLACKWELL: The high temperatures and the winds and maybe some help is on the way. Let's check in with meteorologist, Alexandra Steele. Hoping that there are some good news coming, but this thus far, has been the perfect storm.

ALEXANDRA STEELE, AMS METEOROLOGIST: Absolutely, you know, essentially no matter how the fires have started, the stage has been set, of course, atmospherically. So this is the recipe for wildfires. Dry conditions, we've got it. Last year was the driest year on record in California since 1885, this year exceptionally worse and also hot temperatures, record heat, we've had it and these strong Santa Ana winds.

The off-shore wind blowing the hot, dry air. But on the good side of this, we have seen a change and a few different things. Let me show you what they were. This is the 2013 drought. This year exceptionally worse. The entire state in one of three of the worst stages of drought. Check that off.

High temperatures, we've had record heat for so much of the past few months and temperatures finally now out of the 90s and heading towards the 70s in Los Angeles. The temperatures coming in the right directions and you know what's coming up? The atmosphere, the moisture, the humidity. So, wind speeds, why that is? What matters most with this graphic is the direction from which these arrows are coming.

They need to come from the south and the west, which is bringing onshore flow, which is bringing the moisture from the ocean, the cold pacific into the atmosphere and then blowing it inward. Finally, we're seeing that and we're seeing that and it's evident in a dense fog advisory. No one has been so glad to have a dense fog advisory. A cloud on the ground and that cloud is made up of water. That is the good news.

Fire weather outlook is bad, it's been worse, but here's where it is worse. Further inland where the temperature is not coming down as much. In terms of the forecast, forecast weather wise is certainly favorable. Temperatures are down out of the 90s into the 70s. Humidity is up. We've seen that with the relative humidity, the dense fog coming in. And the fire forecast a little bit less so. Why?

Because this year alone we're five-year average doubling that already this year. So, you guys, the stage has been set in terms of the drought. We talked a little bit before about a firenado and all that couldn't happen without the ground being so dry and all the heat coming in. Part and parcel, it all works together.

PAUL: All right, Alexandra Steele, thank you so much for the explainer.

BLACKWELL: New this morning, the first lady told a group of graduating high school students that American schools are becoming more segregated. So the setting here is important. This is in Topeka, Kansas. Well, Topeka is the city that 60 years ago one African-American family led the fight to integrate schools in this country.

PAUL: That case, of course, led to the Landmark Brown versus Board of Education ruling by the Supreme Court. Now that the first lady says the country is experiencing a troubling new trend. CNN's Alexandra Field joining us live from New York. Alexandra, as I understand it, experts are supporting what the first lady is saying.

ALEXANDRA FIELD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Absolutely. Look, Christi, Victor, good morning. First of all, what we're talking about is the fact that numbers show schools are more segregated today than you might think and certainly more segregated today than a lot of people might want to think. The numbers that I'm talking about come from Pew Research study that has been released in conjunction with this historic anniversary of Brown versus Board of Education.

First of all, some background on the numbers that we're talking about. Pew points out the fact that there are fewer white students in public schools today. That's because more white students are leaving the public schools and the percentage is, of course, falling as you see more minority students enter the public school system.

When you break these numbers down even further, what you see is this number, 15 percent of white students are now in schools where the majority of students is non-white. That number becomes more significant when you consider the fact that three quarters of minority students are in schools where the majority is non-white. Big disparity there. This is the problem that the first lady was talking about when she addressed those high school graduates in Topeka last night. Here's what she said.


MICHELLE OBAMA, FIRST LADY: Brown is still being decided every single day. Not just in our courts and schools, but in how we live our lives.


FIELD: The first lady went on to say that she believes that schools are becoming more segregated because districts have pulled back on their efforts to integrate the schools -- Christi, Victor.

BLACKWELL: The fight for integration continues on some fronts. Alexandra Field, thank you.

PAUL: All right, so not only is MH370 missing, apparently so is the satellite data used in the search for it. Where did it go?

BLACKWELL: It's ridiculous now.

PAUL: Who should we believe?

BLACKWELL: Plus more fallout from the Veterans Administration scandal. The number two quits. Live reaction from Washington, coming up.


PAUL: So, there's been a new twist in the investigation to find the missing Malaysian plane. Malaysian officials said they can't turn over the raw data to the families because the satellite company has it. Inmarsat though says they did hand the data over to the investigation team weeks ago.


HISHAMMUDDIN HUSSEIN, ACTING MINISTER OF TRANSPORTATION: The raw data is not with Malaysian and not with Australia and if there are any requests for it to be made available to the public, it must be made through Inmarsat.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We shared the information that we have and it's for the investigation to decide what and when it puts out.


BLACKWELL: All right, let's talk about this with CNN safety analyst, David Soucie and Keith Masback, CEO of the United States Geospatial Intelligence Foundation. It's becoming ridiculous now, David. Is it possible that the Malaysians have it and don't know or are they hiding it? What do you think?

DAVID SOUCIE, CNN SAFETY ANALYST: I think it is that they have it and they don't know. I don't think, the fact that they say they don't have it. It's not like something you hand off and then hand back. It's just data. It's just information. They had it. Part of the analysis report, no doubt about that in my mind. But the thought that they wouldn't know they have it is boggling to me and just a matter of pointing fingers and expressing blame in the wrong place. There's no reason that it can't be released right now by either of the two parties.

PAUL: Keith, let me ask you. In what form is this data? I mean, is it on paper, is it on disc, is it in an e-mail, I mean, how do you lose data?

KEITH MASBACK, CEO, U.S. GEOSPATIAL INTELLIGENCE FOUNDATION: Well, Christi, it's probably all of the above, right? First, electronic information from the ground station to the transponder on the satellite to the terminal on the aircraft and back. That's captured in electronic form. The Inmarsat, publicly traded company had every reason to do their math, double check their math and consult with outside experts before handing this through the British authorities to the Malaysians.

So, there is certainly a depth of information, this idea that there is only 14 elements or so. We know that there is a very rich set of data and analytics that go along with that data that is available. To David's point, it has been available to this international working group that goes well beyond the Malaysians. That's the false narrative here. This isn't the Malaysians or Inmarsat versus the public or the families. Lots of people as part of this working group have had access to this data.

BLACKWELL: All right, this mystery started in the beginning of March, we're now into mid-May. Months of searching now. David, where are we because we follow the search day after day after day and then there was a regrouping and some problems with the Bluefin. What's happening now?

SOUCIE: Every day gets more and more mysterious what's happening exactly and more importantly, why? The Bluefin is out there and the Bluefin has been damaged and had to come back in for repairs and that's the kind of thing you would expect to see in an investigation like this. It's very complex and these teams are very complex. What puzzles me, why is there not more planning and why have they not realized they have to go into deeper waters.

I's just now they are starting to discuss having this other equipment go out there, which takes months to get prepared and months to get ready. Why this didn't start a long time ago, I don't know. That's the part again. It just wreaks of ignorance on the part of the planners. I just don't understand why this planning didn't occur that needed to be weeks and months ago.

PAUL: Keith, let me ask you a question, and I know this is a little provocative and I don't mean it to be incriminating. However, is there from a legal standpoint any reason that Malaysia would be better off if they did not find this plane in terms of the payout?

MASBACK: Wow, that's tough. It's out of my league as an intelligence professional, Christi. I think one thing that I add to the discussion, all right, David and many other folks are safety analysts. They're aircraft investigation specialists. Everything is ruled in until it is ruled out. This is still a criminal investigation, a terrorism investigation and a safety investigation and a recovery operation, and all that has to be considered into this mix why it's so complicated.

BLACKWELL: All right, David Soucie and Keith Masback, thank you very much. We'll continue to follow this as the search continues. To think that the raw data would be page 70 or something that wouldn't come with a star next to it. Here it is, is a bit confusing. Thank you, guys.

PAUL: Thank you, Gentlemen.

SOUCIE: Thanks, Christi. Thanks, Victor.

PAUL: So, a top Veterans Affairs official is calling it quits after one gruelling day of testifying on Capitol Hill.

BLACKWELL: CNN Erin McPike working this developing story for us from Washington.

ERIN MCPIKE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Victor, some Republicans are saying this resignation doesn't pass the smell test. More on that after the break.



ERIC SHINSEKI, VETERANS AFFAIRS SECRETARY: Any allegation, any adverse incident like this makes me, makes me mad as hell. I could use stronger language here, Mr. Chairman, but I won't.


BLACKWELL: Secretary of Veteran Affairs Eric Shinseki, a day after his testimony. The person alongside him, the V.A.'s undersecretary for health has resigned.

PAUL: Yes, the move comes amid this growing scandal over wait times and care at veterans hospitals and came to light after a month's long investigation by CNN.

BLACKWELL: Erin McPike joins us now from the White House. Erin, what are the lawmakers saying about this sudden resignation?

MCPIKE: Victor and Christi, over time lawmakers on Capitol Hill said some heads should roll over this controversy, but they're not particularly buying this. In fact, some Republican lawmakers have said that Veterans Affairs Secretary Eric Shinseki should step down, but some say it goes back much further than Shinseki's tenure.

Now I spoke to Connecticut Senator Richard Blumenthal just after the hearing on Thursday and this is how he described that tension to me.


SENATOR RICHARD BLUMENTHAL (D), CONNECTICUT: He is facing issues and challenges that have been around for a while and he needs to change the system and that will require a sustained effort. He made it his mission to accomplish that effort and certainly the system itself needs to be changed and there needs to be a changing of the team, a changing of the guard. Some folks are going to have to be shown the door.


MCPIKE: Now we are seeing that, but now we have some Republicans suggesting that he is a fall guy. In fact, I want to read to you a very strongly worded statement from Jeff Miller. He is that chairman of the House Committee on Veteran Affairs. He said just yesterday the resignation is the pinnacle of disingenuous political double speak.

Petzel was already scheduled to retire in 2014 and President Obama has already announced his intention to nominate Petzel's replacement. So characterizing this as a resignation just doesn't pass the smell test -- Christi and Victor.

PAUL: Has there been any specific explanation given for why he stepped down?

MCPIKE: Well, really, no. The White House just put out a statement yesterday saying they support Shinseki's decision, but I would point out that during this hearing on Thursday, Robert Petzel was the one who was explaining this audit, what they've done so far and what they will be doing in the coming weeks and that is why this resignation seems so abrupt -- Christi.

PAUL: All right, Erin McPike, thank you so much. Appreciate it.

BLACKWELL: Former Secretary Hillary Clinton tells "The View" she's running.

PAUL: Very clever. We're going to look at how the former secretary of state faired in the latest poll and the latest attack she's getting from the right.


PAUL: Bottom of the hour right now, yes, 29 minutes afterwards. Grab your breakfast, your juice, whatever is going to get you going and just sit back and relax. I'm Christi Paul.

BLACKWELL: I'm Victor Blackwell. Let's start with five things you need to know for your NEW DAY. Number one, calmer winds, cooler temperatures and good news to help the California firefighters in San Diego County. Six wildfires are still burning after almost a week of battling these flames. The damage covers an area that spans more than 31 square miles. At least one person new this morning has been charged with arson in connection with one of the blazes.

PAUL: Number two, police in Georgia are now investigating a double murder. The reason: because the body of 87-year-old Shirley Dermond was finally found two weeks after friends discovered her husband, Russell, dead in the couple's million dollar waterfront home. And he had been decapitated. Shirley Dermond's body was found in a lake. Police say she was abducted sometime after her husband's murder.

BLACKWELL: Number three now, a plane crash has killed five senior officials in the Laotian government, including the country's defense minister. News agencies reports the Air Force plane went down today near the border with Vietnam on its way to a memorial ceremony. Onboard was the first woman to serve as President of the Laotian National Assembly, in all 18 people were on that flight.

PAUL: Number four protests had erupted in Turkey over the government's handling of that mine disaster. In fact during demonstrations an aide to the Turkish Prime Minister apparently kicked one of those demonstrators. Take a look at this picture. A video apparently captures the Prime Minister threatening protesters.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Don't be nasty, what happened, happened. It is from God.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: If you boo the country's Prime Minister, you get slapped.


PAUL: Recovery operations are continuing right now, but the death toll stands at 299.

BLACKWELL: Number five now, General Motors has agreed to pay a record $35 million fine for delaying the recall of faulty ignition switches. A federal investigation found the company waited ten years to alter -- but rather before it alerted drivers of the problem. In some cases, the glitch forced cars to suddenly shut off while driving and disabled the airbags. The problem has been tied to at least 13 deaths.

PAUL: We're going to do now what you're always told not to do in a group, talking politics.


PAUL: Political gut check. The presidential election more than two years away, already the speculation around Hillary Clinton, as you know, is red hot.

BLACKWELL: And it has been for some time. Here's what she told the ladies on "The View."


BARBARA WALTERS, CO-HOST ON "THE VIEW": As long as you're here, let me ask you a question.


The question I want to ask, are you going to run?

CLINTON: Well, I am running around the park.


BLACKWELL: She was ready for it, wasn't she?

PAUL: She was.

BLACKWELL: Even as she hedged on a White House bid, Secretary Clinton is already crushing the competition in Ohio.

PAUL: So joining us now CNN political commentator Ben Ferguson on the right, Democratic strategist Maria Cardona on the left. Good morning folks.



BLACKWELL: Good morning. Let's start with the new Quinnipiac poll it show that in the key state of Ohio, Secretary Clinton swept all of her Republican competitors. I think we can put it up here. Governor Kasich here best of the group trailing Clinton by just five points, Florida Senator Marco Rubio is seven points behind, Kentucky Senator Rand Paul also eight points here.

Let's go to Maria first. This is a dangerous position to be in and I would imagine, because you don't want it to appear as if it is mine for the taking. It's just a coronation, everybody step aside.

CARDONA: Well no. And I don't think she certainly is not looking at it that way. Look she hasn't even decided whether she is running. And yes, we all love the political speculation, we can't stop talking about it and we will continue to do that until she makes a decision.

But she's in a great position right now. She doesn't have to make a decision for quite some time. And, you know, let's be realistic it is a long time until 2016. Yes, she best every single Republican candidate that is up against her and that is frankly why we're seeing that Republican attacks start so early because they are afraid of her, if she is going to run because right now they don't have any candidate that can stand up against her.

But again, it's early. She hasn't said she's running and she's in a position right now where she can enjoy that luxury.

PAUL: As Ben chuckles. So let's talk about this, Ben. It looks like --

FERGUSON: Yes you know I think --

CARDONA: Go ahead. Go ahead. FERGUSON: -- you know I think this is really not bad news for Republicans because what it shows you is how bad of news this is for some guy named Joe Biden. I mean he's been Vice President for six years and it's blatantly obvious that the Democratic Party still doesn't really take him seriously in the way that they do Hillary Clinton.

So she is the frontrunner and that's why you see these high numbers whereas the Republican field is going to be probably one of the most robust, dynamic, extremes on the conservative and the middle and moderates and we're going to have a grand debate the same way that Hillary was part of that when she was running against Barack Obama. And remember then she was the leader when Barack Obama beat her.

So she's been in this position before. I think that's why you see her kind of having fun with it saying I am running, around a park.


FERGUSON: I think for Joe Biden, I think this is the worst news for him because it shows that people in his own party do not take him seriously as a candidate to beat Hillary Clinton.

PAUL: Well let's talk about Republicans because New York Congressman Peter King, apparently, considering a run for the White House. I want to play some sound for you of what he told our Wolf Blitzer.


WOLF BLITZER, CNN HOST, THE SITUATION ROOM: One quick political question. Are you thinking of running for the Republican presidential nomination in 2016?

REP. PETER KING (R), NEW YORK: Yes, I'm certainly I'll be back in New Hampshire June 21st and when I saw Hillary Clinton yesterday, I told her to get ready.

BLITZER: Get ready you think that it's possible, you could win that Republican nomination, she would get the Democratic nomination?

KING: Oh I don't know.

BLITZER: And I would be moderating debates presumably between you and Hillary Clinton, is that what you're saying?

KING: It would be a good show. It really would. No, seriously, I mean I'm looking at this because I have seen people like Rand Paul and Ted Cruz and to me I don't want the Republican Party going in that direction. Whether it's me or something else, I want to do all that I can to make sure that what I call the realistic foreign policy wing and national security wing of the Republican Party does not give into the isolationists and I don't want to go back to the 1930s in the days of Charles Lindberg (ph).


PAUL: So Ben, what do you think of Peter King?

FERGUSON: Look, I think Peter King is a guy that has been around for a long time in Washington. He doesn't like the new guys coming around. He doesn't like that they're starting to have influence and this is exactly why we have primaries. So I hope he join -- jumps in here and I think he's going to realize that it's a lot easier to mouth off on TV than it is to run a campaign for president and there is a good chance he may be one of the first guys to drop out.

But I still think the more the merrier in this. The bigger the debate I think for conservatives as long as the names we're talking about are not Mitt Romney and not John McCain, everyone is going to be happy to let anyone else come in new and have a big grand debate and then if it's Hillary Clinton, then game on. I think it's going to be a very fun presidential campaign.

BLACKWELL: All right so you're not saying "not John McCain, not Mitt Romney". Let's add a name in here, Maria. Jeb Bush. Let's talk about this new national poll by CNN/ORC ask respondents their choice of Republican nominee. Jeb Bush came out on top here 13 percent. So not an overwhelming victory -- actually tied here with Rand Paul. The Clintons and the Bushes again in 2016.

CARDONA: Is it fair?

BLACKWELL: Yes. I mean even Barbara Bush said there is more than a few families.

CARDONA: That would be a very interesting race, I think. But I agree, actually, with Ben. I hope the more the merrier for the Republican nomination for that -- for that debate because it will be fun to see and I think one of the things that we should underscore and what Ben said when he was talking about the field, that the GOP would actually put forward. The first word came out of his mouth, extreme conservatives.

And that is where the problem lies with the GOP. To date somebody like Jeb Bush would never make it in the Republican primary debates because he is too moderate. He is too centrist, he is too reasonable.


FERGUSON: But Maria --

CARDONA: And he would never make it through what today is still a very right-wing conservative primary --

FERGUSON: Based on what you just said, based on what you just said, how did John McCain.

CARDONA: Absolutely let's put it all out there, I will tell you how because John McCain --

FERGUSON: You had Mitt Romney, hold on one second you had Mitt Romney and John McCain who are not the extremists.

BLACKWELL: All right.

CARDONA: And you know what they did during the primary? They went to the extreme right which is why they were never able to recover in the general election.

BLACKWELL: This is where we've been, I know you want to jump in here but this is where we go well overtime for these segments. I love having the conversation with both of you. But Ben Ferguson, Maria Cardona, thank you so much.

CARDONA: Thank you.

FERGUSON: Thanks for having us.

BLACKWELL: Let's talk about this virus that really is surprising to a lot of people. MERS, when you're hearing it for the first time this Middle East Respiratory Syndrome has hit at least 18 countries, you're seeing signs at airports now and experts fear more cases could be coming. What you can do to protect your family. That's coming up.

PAUL: Also, though, the U.S. State Department says rescuing more than 200 kidnapped girls in Nigeria and resolving this crisis is one of its highest priorities right now. There's a global summit under way in Paris today.

And there are ways that you can help. Just logon to where you can find more information on how you can impact your world.


BLACKWELL: Seventeen to the top of the hour and the spread of another potentially deadly virus has become more urgent now, that's according to the World Health Organization.

PAUL: Yes the virus is called MERS, and it stands for Middle East Respiratory Syndrome. So far we know two cases have been confirmed in the U.S. and this is spreading. Since 2012, 18 countries have been hit with the virus.

BLACKWELL: Well now the CDC has placed these signs at airports across the U.S. warning travelers, here it is, warning travelers headed to the Middle East to take precaution.

Let's talk about some of these precautions and MERS with Dr. William Schaffner he is the head of Preventative Medicine at Vanderbilt Medical Center. Good to have you, Doctor. And how easy is it to contract MERS?

DR. WILLIAM SCHAFFNER, VANDERBILT MEDICAL CENTER: Well that's the great reassurance, Victor. This is not a virus that is spread readily in the community. In fact, it is spread with great difficulty. So that's the great reassuring thing. We're not really concerned that this virus is going to come here and suddenly start spreading throughout our population.

Our clinicians, if there's an imported case, are ready to recognize this, put patients in isolation and the public health system is ready to respond. We've had two wonderful examples of that just recently.

PAUL: Ok so, the symptoms are, as I understand it, quite flu-like. At what point do you have to know this is not the flu or this is something serious enough that I need medical attention?

SCHAFFNER: Yes, Christi, anybody obviously who has respiratory illnesses and has travelled to the Middle East should see their physicians and immediately tell them that they have traveled there. Indeed, our emergency room doctors here at Vanderbilt and across the country, when anybody comes into the emergency room with respiratory symptoms are asking have you travelled to the Middle East or have you had contact with someone who's traveled to that part of the world?

We're ready to identify these patients, get the appropriate specimen, send them to the CDC, put the patients in isolation, take good care of them and then the public health system ready to respond and reach out to all the contacts. It's working very smoothly.

BLACKWELL: So, just within the last 24 hours or so, the Netherlands confirmed their second case, although the World Health Organization has not called this a global health emergency. At what point does it reach that level?

SCHAFFNER: Well, since this is a virus that does not spread readily in the community, I think the WHO is holding back from that because this is not like flu. It is not going to spread readily from person to person. The places that we're concerned about, really in the United States and in the Netherlands and other countries is health care facilities. And within health care facilities if we use infection control precautions rigorously, we can take care of these patients safely and appropriately.

BLACKWELL: All right. Clear and simple Dr. William Schaffner, I think you made us all feel a little bit better.

PAUL: Yes, thank you, sir.


BLACKWELL: Thank you, Doctor.

SCHAFFNER: My pleasure.

PAUL: Sure.

So, a 500-year-old mystery solved. Really? 500 years? An explorer says he has discovered the long lost remains, yes, of the Santa Maria.

BLACKWELL: That's the famous ship Christopher Columbus used in 1492 on its first voyage to the new world. We'll take you to the underwater search.

But, first --

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Roland Garros is the crown jewel of clay court tennis. It's the grand slam tournament every French player dreams of winning.

The Frenchmen are performing and winning and it is showing up in the world rankings, but why hasn't France produced a men's grandslam champion in more than 30 years? Patrick Mouratoglou coaches world number one Serena Williams and runs a large tennis academy outside Paris.

PATRICK MOURATOGLOU, TENNIS COACH: I think most of the French players lack ambition because they have a nice life, a lot of money since they're young, if they're good. So, in a way, things are too easy for them and maybe it's not in the culture of France to have very, very high ambitions. Grand slam winners are people who have very high expectations. Who have simply the mentality of champions and I'm not sure that too many French players have that mentality.



MICHAEL SMERCONISH, CNN HOST: Hey, good morning, I'm Michael Smerconish. Coming up on my program, the push for U.S. boots on the ground in Nigeria. I'll press the ranking member of the House Foreign Affairs committee to see how likely that is.

Plus, Donald Sterling's rant and Michael Sam's kiss. What can you do and say without fear of condemnation.

Also protests on campuses around the country, the man who says he found the Zodiac killer and why you should be concerned about that Jay-Z and Solange elevator fight.

I'll see you in just a little bit -- Victor, Christi.

PAUL: Even Michael's talking about it. Michael thank you so much. "SMERCONISH" airs this morning at the top of the hour, 9:00 a.m. Eastern.

BLACKWELL: You know, every day this week when I got into an elevator I looked for the camera like I know it's in here somewhere. I know they are watching.

PAUL: And you looked to make sure nobody was going to hit you.

BLACKWELL: Yes. No kicking, no purse throwing.

There is a chance, a chance here that an underwater research team has just found one of the most famous ships in history. Christopher Columbus' Santa Maria wreckage of the ship used by the explorer on the first trip to the Americas may have just been found stuck in a reef off Haiti's northern coast. CNN Miguel Marquez has details.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE) MIGUEL MARQUEZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): It may not look like much, a pile of rocks. But this could be the historical find of a lifetime, several lifetimes.

(on camera): How sure are you that this is the Santa Maria?

BARRY CLIFFORD, EXPLORER: I'm extremely confident that we've -- that we've discovered the wreck site.

MARQUEZ (voice over): Shipwreck explorer Barry Clifford believes this is the wrecked ship, the Santa Maria of that other explorer Christopher Columbus. The size and shape of those rocks called a ballast pile fit the size and weight of the Santa Maria. But there was one piece of evidence that led him to his eureka moment --

CLIFFORD: It was a smoking gun as well. This -- Columbus described in his diary over and over Lombards. And Lombard is a 15th century weapon, a cannon that Columbus used on board the Santa Maria.

MARQUEZ (voice over): So literally a smoking gun?

CLIFFORD: Literally a smoking gun.

MARQUEZ: The Lombard he believes is that long tube-like thing there marking the spot where Christopher Columbus woke up on Christmas day 1492 and realized his flagship was sinking. Clifford relied heavily on this, Columbus' diary, now marked up and poured over to also help lead him to the wreck.

(on camera): Is this the page that led you to the discovery or to believe that this is the discovery?

CLIFFORD: It's one of the pages. About a league and a half from said shoal when he learned of it.

MARQUEZ (voice over): A league and a half? About 4.7 miles offshore of Cap-Hatien in only about 10 feet of water.

(on camera): Why do I feel that I'm talking to Indiana Jones?

CLIFFORD: I don't know. But I love that movie.

I think there is a great lesson here for kids. Not just about the discovery of the ship, but how you can take history and use clues to go back and solve riddles.

MARQUEZ (voice over): If this nautical Indiana Jones has found the Santa Maria, Barry Clifford's name will also go into the history books.

(on camera): How big would this be for you personally?

CLIFFORD: Oh, this is -- this is hitting it over the fence at Yankee stadium with the bases loaded.

MARQUEZ (on camera): Miguel Marquez, CNN at Columbus Circle, New York.


BLACKWELL: Top stories this weekend here on NEW DAY.

Southern California firefighters are looking to get some relief from the weather today.

PAUL: Because half a dozen wildfires they're battling around San Diego are far from being contained this hour. CNN meteorologist Alexandra Steele though says falling temperatures, calmer winds are moving in -- hopefully that's going to help these crews.

BLACKWELL: Nearly 20,000 acres have burned, several homes have been destroyed.

Let's go to India now. the controversial leader Nerendra Modi has won a historic landslide election victory and he got a hero's welcome at his party's headquarters in New Delhi. He's been elected the next prime minister of India.

Check out the massive victory parade and the traffic jam earlier today. Just a few years ago the U.S. denied Modi a visa over claims he did little to stop the riots in 2002, but President Obama called Modi to congratulate him on his victory and has invited him to Washington.

PAUL: Vigilante justice or a witch-hunt. Some students say a new flier campaign to warn women about rape but one Ivy League school goes too far. Supporters say if officials at Columbia University won't act, they're glad someone else will.

Up next, could a flier with the names of alleged rapists trigger a legal backlash? At 10:00 a.m. Eastern, we're going to ask defense attorney Tanya Miller and the former head of the Manhattan sex crimes unit, author Linda Fairstein about this very thing.

BLACKWELL: Cooler down in the east but rain in the south. Let's take a look at the nation's weekend weather with meteorologist Alexandra Steele.

ALEXANDRA STEELE, AMS METEOROLOGIST: All right, well, we talked about the West Coast, temperatures coming down there but along the East Coast, as well. So from Bangor, Maine down to Albany, New York to New York and Boston into the southeast, some clouds today. A few scattered showers but for the most part, some dry conditions but temperatures a lot cooler than where they've been.

Highs today in D.C. at 70; 71 in New York; 74 Boston; New England holding on to some rain this morning. 74 today in Atlanta in the 80s along the southern tier of the country.

As we head towards tomorrow what we're going to see is temperatures continuing to rise now here. 70 in Minneapolis for your Sunday, 82 in Denver; Atlanta only at 67 and holding at the 70s in the northeast tomorrow, as well. Have a good day. BLACKWELL: Thank you, Alexandra.

We'll be back here in an hour.