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Six States Hold Primaries; NTSB Investigating Newark Near Collision; Thailand Military Declares Martial Law; U.S. Military Ready to Evacuate Americans in Tripoli; NY Allows California Chrome's Nasal Strips; One Year Since Moore, OK, Tornado

Aired May 20, 2014 - 11:00   ET


JOHN BERMAN, CNN CO-ANCHOR: The vote is on. Primary elections in several states pitting Tea Party candidates against the GOP establishment -- what is this going to tell us about the race ahead?

MICHAELA PEREIRA, CNN CO-ANCHOR: Finally, more than two months after Flight 370 disappeared, the Malaysian government and Inmarsat, working together to share information, what this means for the investigation, coming up.

BERMAN: And who is stealing what from whom? Full-blown diplomatic drama, China, furious that the U.S. has accused military officials there of hacking, spying and stealing, and @ THIS HOUR, Beijing threatening to retaliate.

Hello there, everyone. I'm John Berman.

PEREIRA: And I'm Michaela Pereira.

Those stories and much more, right now, @ THIS HOUR.

BERMAN: So you can smell it in the air.

PEREIRA: Can you?

BERMAN: It's like teen spirit and election day.

Key ballots are being cast from coast to coast right now, and what happens in the primaries today will shape the fall elections and could reshape Congress.

The six states holding primaries right now are Arkansas, Georgia, Idaho, Kentucky, Oregon and Pennsylvania.

PEREIRA: And in four of those primaries, voters are deciding between establishment Republicans versus tea party challengers, including a challenge in Kentucky to Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell.

We want to bring in our Dana Bash, who's on the road following things along, keeping an eye on things for us.

We know Mitch McConnell isn't the only establishment candidate putting up a strong counteroffensive against the tea party. In fact --

BERMAN: Dana, are you there?

DANA BASH, CNN CHIEF CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT (via telephone): I am. Hi, John and Michaela.

Absolutely --

BERMAN: Dana, give us a sense -- yeah, give us a sense of what Mitch McConnell has going on there right now and what he's up against and what the goal is.

It looks like he's going to win, but it's by how much that matters.

BASH (via telephone): Absolutely. That's really going to be a key question is how much Republican support he loses in this primary contest today, because if he loses a significant amount and they either don't come back and vote for him, or maybe in a rare case that they actually vote for the Democrat, or probably more likely, if they're really that disillusioned with McConnell, they just stay home, that's a big problem for him in the fall, because so many polls have shown him neck and neck with his likely Democratic challenger.

So this primary day looks like it's not going to be impactful in the short-term, but it will be long-term.

Now I should say that McConnell campaign aides have been trying to beat back that narrative, big time, as you can imagine, saying the idea that Republicans don't come together on general election day is just -- history doesn't bear that out, that at the end of the day, just like in the bitter battle that you saw between Rand Paul and his Republican primary opponent back in 2010, they come back home and they're expecting that to happen.

They certainly need that to happen because the challenge ahead, Mitch McConnell is already focused on that.

PEREIRA: Let's talk about Democratic side. We know Alison Grimes is running to be the first female senator from Kentucky. What is she saying? I understand you had a chance to talk to her.

BASH (via telephone): I did. And what's so fascinating is just when you --the visual when you look at the difference between the two candidates, it's blatantly obvious.

She's a 35-year-old woman, never been to Washington before. She is an attorney here in Kentucky. She's the secretary of state. And she's running against a 30-year incumbent who is 72-years-old. So right there you know that there couldn't be a more stark difference.

She's playing up the female issue, big time. She's leaning in, big time, when it comes to this electorate, really hitting Mitch McConnell on the idea that he's not been there for women when it comes to equal pay issues, things of that nature. But she's in a tough position, too, because this is not a popular place for the Democratic president, and so she's trying to support Democratic causes where it fits her but also separate herself from him on things that are really important here like coal.

BERMAN: All right. Dana Bash in Louisville, Kentucky, covering this for us and will be there all day and night for CNN, so stay will with us. Dana will bring us results as they come in.

PEREIRA: We want to bring in our political commentators, Ana Navarro and Marc Lamont Hill, to talk a little bit more about all of what this means.

Big day, primary day, he says you can smell it in the air. I can't, but he can.

Ana, let's talk to you first about what we're seeing, and looking at Georgia specifically, we know the establishment candidate is doing well.

It begs the question for the tea party. What does that mean? Does it mean that the tea party lost its steam and it's over?

ANA NAVARRO, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: I think what it means is that the incumbents, the veterans, the mainstream Republican party has woken up.

For a while there it seemed like we were asleep in our laurels. These incumbents have woken up. They are recharged. They have campaigned very hard.

They have raised the money. They have spent the time at home. The outside groups that support them have kicked in.

So I think what you're seeing is a very vigorous fight to hold on and to win elections. It's made for better candidates.

BERMAN: So, Marc, let me ask you about that. As a card-carrying member of the left, you might take joy in the struggles that the tea party is having.

But, as Ana says, is there a risk here for Democrats? Remember what happened to the tea party-ish Senate candidates in Indiana, Missouri, Delaware.

Have Republicans finally cracked the code to nominating more electable candidates?

MARC LAMONT HILL, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Yeah, I mean, first of all, I don't find any pleasure in seeing the tea party crumble, but if you look in Georgia, you see a really big divide.

The tea party itself has been divided. Neither candidate ran an awesome campaign. And what you saw was a tea party trying to figure out where to go. When you look at the national polling, not only is American public in general disillusioned with the tea party more and more, but the Republican party is more and more disillusioned with the tea party.

And I think some of it is not ideological. I think it's pragmatic. They see that they're not be able to win elections in the same way.

We see it in Kentucky. We're seeing it in Georgia. And we're going to see it in the fall. So I think tonight's election is a marker and referendum on where the tea party is in various states.

PEREIRA: We noticed that evil laugh you had there, Mr. Marc.

Ana, we want to talk about Republicans. They're going to need to flip six seats in order to win back majority in the Senate.

From your point of view, can they do it? Will they pull it off?

NAVARRO: I think it's too early to tell.

BERMAN: Brave. Brave prediction.

NAVARRO: They're in much better shape, much better shape -- well, you know, ask me in two months. I think we need to see what happens in all of these primaries, who the general candidates are going to be in the -- you know, for the fall, what the matchups are going to look like.

So a prediction in May, I don't think is -- tends to be accurate, but if you want me to give you one, --

HILL: We're political pundits. That's what we do.

NAVARRO: I will say we look great.

HILL: They're not getting seats. I love making predictions early because I'm always right, and I'll tell you it's not going to happen.

And the reason it's not going to happen is there are some vulnerable people here. Mitch McConnell, for example, you know, he faced a tough primary challenge. He's going to win this, handily.

But he has Alison Lundergan Grimes coming up in the fall who has great campaign, plenty of money, prominent Democrats. That's a seat that's very vulnerable for Republicans.

I think you will see the same thing around the country. I say Republicans do not only gain six seats; they may not gain any.

BERMAN: So we have Anna who is too timid to make a prediction --


NAVARRO: But the one I am willing to make a prediction on is Mitch McConnell. I think Mitch McConnell is a savvy, savvy political operator. You're not in the Senate for 30 years and you're not minority leader for nothing. And I think Kentuckians are going to think very hard about whether they want to lose the power that comes with having their senator be either the top Republican or the top guy in the Senate if they're able to flip the Senate.

BERMAN: All right, Ana Navarro, we'll get you some courage to make predictions.

Marc Lamont Hill, we'll give you some of the most recent polls which don't support your assertions right there that Republicans won't pick up any seats.

But thank you both so much for coming on and talking about this on this election day.

PEREIRA: I know. You've got a little extra pep in your step today.

All right. Let's look at some of the other headlines that are making news @ THIS HOUR.

About 150 feet, that was all the distance separating two airliners during a near collision last month at Newark Airport in New Jersey. Air traffic controllers directed a Boeing jet to land just seconds before a smaller jet was set for takeoff on an intersecting runway.

The larger one was almost on top of the smaller one before abandoning its landing attempt and circling back around to the airport. The NTSB is investigating.

BERMAN: Armed soldiers taking over the streets of Bangkok as Thailand's military declares martial law, this move comes after Thailand's constitutional court ousted the country's leader.

Martial law gives the army control over civilian institutions to maintain public order and security, but this came as a surprise to the government which has called a special meeting to sort out what's going on.

PEREIRA: U.S. military standing by in Italy if Americans need to evacuate the U.S. embassy in the Libyan capitol of Tripoli. Libya's interim parliament was overrun by armed men on Sunday. Last night, gunfire was heard throughout the city.

This is believed to be the worst violence in Libya since Moammar Gadhafi was forced out in 2011.

BERMAN: California Chrome getting ready to make a run at history and he'll be doing it sniffle free, apparently, the colt is in New York to prepare for the Belmont Stakes.

Racing officials decided to let the colt wear nasal strips as he tries to become the first Triple Crown winner since 1978.

So how will those little pieces of material help and could it be giving this horse an unfair advantage? Coming up in just a few minutes, we'll take you to the track to show you how trainers and really their horses use nasal strips, and we'll see if it gives them a boost.

PEREIRA: We're not going to try one on ourselves.

BERMAN: We're not going to try one on. I think the horse nasal strips are probably too big, even for my face.

PEREIRA: Another piece of news that we're watching today, it's hard to believe. You look at your calendar. It was a year ago today that that massive EF-5 tornado tore across 17 miles of Moore, Oklahoma.

You're looking live right now at a memorial service that's under way @ THIS HOUR for the 24 people that were killed. They're honoring the victims and breaking ground as well on a new Moore Medical Center.

The tornado ripped through the old building -- look at that devastation -- forcing rescuers to take patients to other neighboring hospitals.

Now despite the progress, the people of Moore are still struggling to rebuild. If you'd like to lend a hand, give your support, you can head to

BERMAN: You know, I was there one year ago. It's so nice to see the beginning of the rebuilding there, but really so much help is needed in that community.

PEREIRA: Absolutely.

BERMAN: Ten minutes after the hour for us, coming up, they waited so long for any kind of word about what happened to their loved ones not to mention any data that may explain it.

Finally, the families of those on Flight 370, they may get the answers, but are these the answers they're looking for, and are officials playing straight with them at last?

We'll tell you what's new, next.



SARAH BAJC, PARTNER OF FLIGHT 370 PASSENGER: We are hopeful that they are actually going to release usable information.

So, you know, just stating that they're going to release the raw data doesn't tell us what to expect.

In the formal request that we have made, it was actually to release all ping data from that particular airplane for the week prior to this occurrence. So starting on March 1st all of the way up through to when the plane went silent.


PEREIRA: That's Sarah Bajc, her partner Philip Wood was aboard flight 370. I had a chance to speak with her earlier this morning on New Day.

BERMAN: And finally after months of waiting, she and the other family members may finally get some, some of the answers they have been looking for in this investigation. For the first time since the tragedy, the Malaysian government and Inmarsat officials are working to release the raw satellite data. Interesting of course because Malaysia said they didn't have it, but no apparently they are saying they do. It won't just be the raw data they are releasing. Malaysia says Inmarsat will provided detailed explanations so everyone can understand this information.

PEREIRA: Usable information we're hoping for. Let's talk about all of this with Mary Schiavo our CNN aviation analyst and a former inspector general for the department of transportation and David Soucie, CNN safety analyst, former FAA inspector and author of "Why Planes Crash".

Mary, good morning. We'll start with you. There's been a lot of anticipation and excitement that's been a long time coming. First of all they are working to release it. That doesn't sound definitive, We haven't seen anything yet. But do you think there's something that can be learned from this new information?

MARY SCHIAVO, CNN AVAIATION ANALYST: Absolutely. There's nothing typical or ordinary about this investigation, particularly where we are with still no sight of the plane. So by releasing what data they can, hopefully making it in a usable format, they are literally inviting others to help. Ordinarily the NTSB doesn't need a lot of outside lookers or helpers but this isn't that kind of situation. Yes, I think it's accurate that, by the way, Malaysia always had the power to release it under the IKONX13. It says that they could choose to release it if there's a public interest reason to do so. There certainly is, find the plane.

BERMAN: So David, leave aside for a moment my surprise that Malaysia all of a sudden says they have data when they have been saying for more than a week now that they don't have it. But do we really need their cliff notes version? Wouldn't it be better just to release the raw information to let outside analysts take a look at it and assess what's there? That's what the families are asking for.

DAVID SOUCIE, CNN SAFETY ANALYST: John you're right. It is about the release of the raw data. But here is the thing is there is meta-data, which is data about the data, and that's what has to be there. For example, in the aircraft what type of equipment was installed for air to earth satellite portion of the communication. Was it a honeywell MCS 4200? What was it? Because that changes the frequency based oscillations, it changes everything about this. So if the meta-data is not with it, I'm afraid it won't be much information.

PEREIRA: So with that meta-data, how long does it take to weigh through all of this Mary? You're a flight investigator. We know you guys have experience, the fact that David just rattled off that honeywell thing shows right there that he knows more than the average CNN anchor. Talk to us about wading thought that information and making sense of it. How long could that take?

SCHIAVO: It's going to depend on the capabilities and computers of the persons looking at the data. In some ways, it's kind of like those problems we had, much more complicated, but like the problems we had in high school. A train heads west at so many miles an hour and one heads east at so many miles an hour, where do they meet? Except here part of the measurements are in Doppler sound radar giving you the speed and the others are speed of the satellite. So it is going to take a lot of manipulation of the data and translation, if you will, of the data. So it is going to depends on computer programs of the people analyzing it.

BERMAN: David, quickly, there's one other aviation story in the news today. We got word of that near miss at Newark Airport. We got word of just how near it was. About 150 feet. Two planes flying past each other. Is that as alarming as it sounds at first blush?

SOUCIE: Yes, it certainly is. We've been dealing with near misses since 1956 over the Grand Canyon and there's been a lot of safety advancements though, you will notice they didn't hit. They sure could have had they not had the TCAS system, the collision avoidance system and the ACAS system, which are both collision avoidance systems which gives a pilot a very good -- an accurate picture of what's ahead of them and what's going to happen. So thanks to those pieces of equipment as back up and redundancy, even air traffic controllers mistake was circumvented and they didn't crash. The system is working in my estimation.

BERMAN: All right, David Soucie and Mary Schiavo. Thank you so much for being with us, really appreciate it.

PEREIRA: We'll have more on the impending data release as well as this. A new film based on the missing plane. Is it too soon? We'll talk about it with the producer @ THIS HOUR.

BERMAN: Then, it can give us an advantage in the race for a decent night's sleep and it makes you look oh so hot. But can they give a horse an unfair leg up on the track? We're talking about those fashionable nasal strips.

PEREIRA: Fashionable now are they?

BERMAN: Fashionable nasal strips. California Chrome and his race for history next.


BERMAN: @ THIS HOUR, California Chrome is one nasal strip away from history. The colt arrived in New York today to get ready for the Belmont Stakes. If he can take this leg, he'll be the first Triple Crown winner since Affirmed more than 35 years ago.

PEREIRA: Only thing is Affirmed didn't need a nasal strip. In fact, they didn't exist back in his day. So the question is do nasal strips even belong in horse racing? Do they bring an unfair advantage?

Our Richard Roth is in Belmont, New York, where the race will be held. Our Ted Rowlands is at a track near Chicago, he is actually going to show us in a moment how these strips work. But Richard, let's talk to you first. Chrome arrived there. What's the buzz? Any comment from Chrome?

RICHARD ROTH, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, I love horse racing and to see a potential Triple Crown winner get off a van, about 45 minutes ago, and walk in front of you, we'll know of course on June 7th whether I saw the beginning of potential history here. No winner of the Triple Crown since 1978. Assistant trainer Alan Sherman says couldn't ask for anything more. Smooth ride since the win at the Preakness hasn't, quote, missed an oat.

I think Ride On Curlin, who finished second in the Preakness, will be the big contender in the Belmont. I mean this is really -- the Belmont is known as the test of champions. This would be the third race in about five or six weeks for a horse. The way they are bred lately, for speed, it just hasn't been done. And we have had, I am sure you remember all the name, Funny Side, War Emblem, Smarty Jones. They have all fallen here at Belmont. Two years ago, I'll Have Another, scratched the day before the race. But California Chrome is here at barn 26 waiting.

BERMAN: I'll Have Another wasn't allowed to wear nasal strips. That's not why that horse was scratched. So Richard, just quickly, is there any controversy about this reversal by the New York Racing association?

ROTH: No. I think this story is over. Two questions came up at the press conference and he said it was an owner decision and Belmont and New York racing authorities moved quickly to squash this. He won't have an excuse if he loses, won't be able to blame the nose strips. We haven't talked to other owners, they aren't really here yet with their horses, what there thoughts are. And whether they would or would not wear them for Belmont.

PEREIRA: Let's bring in Ted Rowlands. Mrs. Berman is quite well aware of how nose strips work at her house. But give us an idea, Ted, are they the same technology of what people, who might have a snoring problem, deal with at home? Show us how they work.

TED ROWLANDS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Exactly, Michaela. This is the trainer and this is Lakota Dreamcatcher. And she is going to get a nasal strip on her. Rubin is helping out as well. As you put this on, this is basically a breathe right?

DEE POULOS, HORSE TRAINER: Yes it is. It fits right up here. There's a soft area of their nose and you just attach it just like you would for a person.

ROWLAND: It opens up the nasal passages just like it does for a human or for John Berman's snoring. It helps.

POULOS: These pieces on the side are a bit loose but that allows for flexibility because they'll breathe in and out.

ROWLAND: What percentage of your horses do you use this on?

POULOS: Actually, there's just a couple horses I use it on for a regular basis. It is one of those things I keep them handy. If you think it will help the horse, I could very well be using it on more horses.

ROWLAND: And they is no strap, It's just adhesive you see here and comes off afterwards.

POULOS: Right. It adheres there and it's not uncomfortable for them or anything. They don't pay any attention to it.

ROWLAND: Our correspondent Richard Roth said it's a non-issue, that it's a non-story because there's nothing to this. Not harmful to the horse at all.

POULOS: It's not medicated, there is nothing on there. It's just to help just, like with people, to help with breathing.

ROWLAND: In some cases the snoring. There it is. No big deal. The breathe right for horses.

BERMAN: I feel like I'm a bit of history.

Very complicated procedure putting that nasal strip on the horse. Unwrap it and put it on. TV history made here @ THIS HOUR. Richard Roth, former jockey, Ted Rowlands with nasal strip in Chicago, our thanks to both of you.

PEREIRA: Now you're telling stories.

BERMAN: That's what we do. Ahead @ THIS HOUR, another veterans medical center under investigation after officials find a wait list of patients kept on paper rather than in the V.A.'s computer system. We will have live details and the reaction to this really growing scandal from a veterans advocate group. That's just ahead.