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Violence Escalates Between Israel and Gaza; U.S. Border Crisis Involving Unaccompanied Central American Children Continues; Interview with Rep. Jim Bridenstine; Roller Coaster Jumps the Tracks; Contentious Stop and Frisk Debate Continues; Typhoon Neoguri Targets Japan

Aired July 8, 2014 - 07:00   ET


JAMES REYNOLDS, STORM CHASER (via telephone): People can't evacuate off the island and they fail to protect themselves against them. And fortunately where I am there's been actually minimal damage.

KATE BOLDUAN, CNN ANCHOR: And James, real quick, they say this could be one of the strongest storms to hit Japan in decades. They are also saying this comes at a bad time. This is coming at tail end of Japan's summer rainy season. Is flooding after the fact a huge concern?

REYNOLDS: Yes. I think the real main concern as this moves away from the island and stop impacting mainland Japan, it's really the flood threat, that so many mountain ranges, areas that are prone to flash floods and landslides, and it's pretty clear that this typhoon sig thank you dump a lot of rain on this region. And as we've seen in the past really the main danger comes from with the flooding, flash floods, and landslides.

BOLDUAN: James Reynolds, thank you so much for joining us and giving us a little perspective. The video really speaks for itself. And it's great to hear from you. You stay safe. We'll check back in with you. Thanks.

JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: A vivid description there of what has been a long, long day, as he said. We'll keep our eye on that storm over the coming days.

Now to the other big story we're following this morning, escalating violence in the Middle East. Israel and Gaza now exchanging rocket fire with no end in sight. The armed wing of the Palestinian Islamic Jihad is saying it has fired 60 rockets at Israel. This as Israel keeps hammering the militant group Hamas. Israel's defense minister saying the offensive may go on for days. It may even expand, he says. I want to bring in Ben Wedeman who is live right now in Gaza City for us who has been surveying the damage there. Ben?

BEN WEDEMAN, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes. Actually you mentioned those rockets fired by Islamic Jihad. I think we saw some of them being fired and some immediate Israeli airstrikes in response not far from here. We're actually now to the northeast of Gaza City where there's several homes in this area that have been hit. This house behind me was hit about an hour ago. Up the street another house was hit. In that instance two people were injured.

Now, when I was walking down the street, I found this in the street. This is a very large piece of metal shrapnel. This gives you an idea of when these missiles strike what happens. They go whizzing all over the place. It's quite a miracle that at this point according to Palestinian medical sources only 27 people have been wounded and one person, a person affiliated with the Hamas movement, has been killed.

They have destroyed up to now since yesterday evening 14 houses, many of these houses belonging to people affiliated with the Hamas movement, for Israel legitimate targets. But keep in mind that they are not living by themselves. In all of these houses they are women and children, there are old people. But in most cases, John, they get a call and they are told to leave the house immediately. Most people in their right mind do exactly that, and that's when the house was struck. So a relatively low number of casualties given the number of airstrikes into Gaza over the last 24 hours. John?

BERMAN: Rockets flying out and bombs coming in. That number and the damage could only increase. Ben Wedeman for us in Gaza, appreciate it.

We want to talk immigration right now, because if you're just waking up, over the last hour or so there's been a fascinating political back and forth between President Obama and Governor Rick Perry of Texas. The White House really just about an hour ago releasing a letter accepting an invitation from the Texas governor for the president to meet in Texas on the issue of immigration and this growing number of immigrants coming over the border into Texas. Will that meeting happen, though? That is an open question.

While we're thinking about that the president today will ask for $2 billion in emergency funding to deal with this crisis, a crisis really now at the forefront both in Washington and along the border. Let's go to the White House right now where our senior correspondent Jim Acosta is there. Quite a morning, Jim.

JIM ACOSTA, CNN SENIOR CORRESPONDENT: Absolutely. Rick Perry, John, has been one of the president's toughest critics on this border issue, and we can report that President Obama, as you said, is inviting Texas Governor Rick Perry for a meeting in Dallas on Wednesday with faith leaders and other immigration reform advocates to talk about this border crisis. The invitation comes in the form of this letter right here from senior White House adviser Valerie Jarrett. It is in response to a request from Texas Governor Rick Perry to meet with the president. That came out late yesterday, the president responding with this letter.

It is unclear at this point whether or not the two will actually sit down and meet. A senior administration official just told me a few moments ago that basically the ball is in their court, that they have been in touch, the two staffs have been in touch with one another, but they have not nailed down whether or not this meeting on Wednesday will occur.

Meanwhile, as you said, John, the president is expected to officially submit that funding request to Congress later on this morning for more than $2 billion for a surge of border security, border judges, and expanded detention facilities to house those tens of thousands of unaccompanied minors and other undocumented immigrants who have been flooding into the U.S. over the last several months. And then later on this week the White House is also expected to send, according to administration officials, an additional request to Congress to ask for expanded legal authority for the Department of Homeland Security to streamline the process, the adjudication process for many of these immigrants, the White House signaling yesterday that the vast what majority of these children will probably not have the legal standing to stay in this country. They are going to have to go back home.

But the big headline at this point, John, as you know is whether or not the meeting between President Obama and Texas Governor Rick Perry will happen. All eyes will be on whether or not we'll see that Texas showdown later this week, John.

BERMAN: Love to see them talk, talking can't hurt at this point. Jim Acosta at the White House, really appreciate it.

BOLDUAN: Thanks, Jim, and John.

When undocumented immigrants are apprehended they are taken to a detention facility for processing. Republican Congressman Jim Bridenstine went to one of those facilities at a U.S. army post in his home state of Oklahoma. The center holds more than 1,000 undocumented children. And when the Congressman arrived officials wouldn't allow him in. They blocked him at the gate. There are some pictures provided by his office. Congressman Bridenstine is joining us now to discuss this and also the crisis at the border we were just talking to Jim Acosta about. Congressman, so you were upset. You wanted to gain access to the facility and were not able to gain access to that facility. What did you want to see?

REP. JIM BRIDENSTINE, (R) OKLAHOMA: Well, first of all, there is human suffering here, and as members of Congress we've got to figure out why. The president is going to ask us for $2 billion, and in order to solve the problem we need to understand the problem. And certainly before we spend $2 billion we certainly don't want to exacerbate the problem, which I think is what a lot of us fear we might end up doing here.

Ultimately there is human suffering. There are stories down at Lockland Air Force Base of children, as much as a third of the females down there have been abused and raped on the way to the United States. We were talking about human trafficking. Children are being leased because adults in Central America believe that if they come across with a child they are going to be more likely able to stay.

And so the crisis here is not just that we have a border security problem. We have a humanitarian crisis, and we need to deal this in a responsible way. Members of Congress, if he's going to ask us for $2 billion, we should have access to these facilities. We should have unfettered access.

BOLDUAN: Congressman, they responded with inviting you back maybe next week for another visit. Are you going to go?

BRIDENSTINE: Yes, they invited me back next week. It will actually be on the 12th. Interestingly they also had a media day on the 10th which is Thursday, and during that media day they sent out an e-mail to the media in Oklahoma and I think across the nation, and they said the media can come. It will be a 40-minute tour, but you can't ask questions. You can't talk to the staff. You can't talk to the medical doctors. You can't talk to the children. If you would like to take pictures, you can't do that, but we'll send pictures to you.

This is the kind of media that they had in the former Soviet Union. This is not the kind of unfettered access that we expect in the United States, especially if the president is going to ask us for $2 billion.

BOLDUAN: So you're going to get there and see the facility. But you're talking about the $2 billion, so let's talk about this immediate crisis. There's an immediate crisis on the southwest border. The president is going to ask for $2 billion. More details are going to come out today. I know you're going to say I can't answer this question until I get details, but I really want to give me your gut check here. He's going to ask, the money is going to go to more immigration judges, more detention facilities. He says it's emergency funds to help stem the tide, the flow of immigrants coming in. Can you support giving the president these emergency funds?

BRIDENSTINE: Before I became a member of Congress I did counter illicit trafficking with the United States Navy. I'm a Navy pilot. I spent a lot of time in El Salvador and I can tell you that the crime now there is bad, as it the poverty. But it's no bad today than it was two years ago or three years ago or four years ago. The difference between today and two or three or four years ago is that we still have an open border on the south side of the United States, and the president has created this perception down in Central America that if you come you can stay.

BOLDUAN: Then what do you want to do with the kids? OK, $2 billion is going to be a step in the right direction of trying to stem this flow of immigrants coming into the country. The White House says most of these children are not going to meet the threshold. They will be sent back. What do you think should be done with the kids?

BRIDENSTINE: Well, I think if you're going to have a system where 85 percent of the children that come and show up in these facilities, 85 percent have a phone number, and they are being released to somebody in the United States that becomes their custodian, when they get released, 90 percent of them don't come back for their court date. We have to do something very quickly to make sure that children are not just released and these processing facilities have become illegal immigration in-processing facilities rather than a facility that solves the crisis.

BOLDUAN: Congressman, that also goes to the point that the White House is going to ask for later this week. They're going to ask for expanded legal authority for the Department of Homeland Security to be able to in part expedite the process of deporting these children because they are dealing with a law passed during the Bush administration relating to trafficking that might be hindering this process. Can you support that change?

BRIDENSTINE: Again, I'm going to have to read the legislation, but certainly something has to be done. We need not only border security. We need interior enforcement. And if it looks like interior enforcement is going to solve this crisis, then I could support that.

BOLDUAN: We'll see if you can support that, that would be good to see. I do want to ask you, kind of by and large, you say that this isn't -- essentially you're saying this is a crisis that the president should have seen coming. The Senate passed a bill. Republicans have not supported that in the House, but a lot of people are pointing the finger saying if you're not going to support the Senate bill, that's fine, but if you guys think this is such a problem, then do something.

BRIDENSTINE: So you're confusing two very important and distinct issues. One is border security which is necessary for --

BOLDUAN: I'm not confusing it. I know there's an immediate crisis at the border. I'm talking about, by and large this has also entered into the larger immigration debate.

BRIDENSTINE: Sure, so border security, which is important for national sovereignty and national security is one element. An entirely separate issue is immigration. We all want to talk about immigration, but our national security and national sovereignty is a separate issue. They need to be dealt with separately. And certainly we need to start by securing the southern border of the United States.

BOLDUAN: Are you going to push any legislation on that?

BRIDENSTINE: Sure. We've already passed legislation. If you go back to 2006, long before I was here, the House of Representatives passed the Secure Fence Act. It was enacted in parts of the United States very effectively. It cut down in many places 90 percent of the illegal immigrants crossing the southern border. Unfortunately, it didn't go far enough. And not only -- first of all, it did go far enough. It just never was enforced fully. And interestingly the -- this is a big reason why we have this crisis ensuing right now.

BOLDUAN: Congressman, thank you so much for your time. Let us know what you see when you were able to get into that facility on the 12th. We look forward to hearing what you see and what kind of solutions you're pushing for. Congressman Jim Bridenstine, thanks so much, appreciate it. Michaela?

MICHAELA PEREIRA, CNN ANCHOR: All right, Kate, thank you so much for that. Let's give you a look at more of your headlines right now. Officials in Chicago are imploring people that live there to put away their weapons after a violent Fourth of July weekend. More than 60 people were shot, at least nine of them fatally. Mayor Rahm Emanuel decried the violence, calling it senseless and totally unacceptable, but says police cannot stop the violence alone.


MAYOR RAHM EMANUEL, (D) CHICAGO: I believe everybody in Chicago is part of building what I call a partnership for peace.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We're going to keep building on a strategy. We're taking it apart and trying to figure out what it is that happened this weekend.


PEREIRA: The police superintendent also wants tougher penalties for gun crimes as a deterrent.

Senator Robert Menendez has asked the Justice Department to investigate the Cuban government's involvement in a plot to derail his political career. Menendez says Cuban officials planted an explosive story back in 2012 regarding involvement with underage prostitutes. At the time Menendez was running for reelection and preparing to assume the chairmanship of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.

Breaking overnight, a thrill seeker's nightmare, dozens of people suspended nearly 20 feet in the air trapped for hours on a roller coaster in southern California leading to quite a dramatic rescue.


PEREIRA (voice-over): The front car of the Ninja rollercoaster seen dangling from the tracks at Six Flags Magic Mountain near Los Angeles after a tree branch fell, derailing the car, trapping 22 passengers and leaving them suspended about 20 feet in the air.

BRANDY CHAMBERS, WITNESS: We saw the Ninja go into the trees, and it was just a lot of leaf noise and then cracking noises and crashing noises and a lot of screaming.

PEREIRA: Four riders were hurt after the train car was left hanging at a 45-degree angle facing the ground for nearly three hours.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The car came around the corner and hit the tree.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Just fell, like a loud boom.

PEREIRA: Two people were taken to the hospital after a specialized urban search and rescue team worked to free the passengers, climbing atop the coaster and using a thick rope to tie the front of the car to the track above.

BRIANNA MADRID, WAITED IN LINE: The people that were on the ride, like their family and friends were kind of freaking out a little bit. That's why we were like what happened.

PEREIRA: A Reddit user whose sister was on the train posted this picture online showing the front of the train completely detached from the track. In these images, a close up look at the fallen tree limb.

Instead of operating like a typical roller coaster the Ninja attraction suspends riders from the track, and as this video shows, the coaster is surrounded by trees.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Scary because it could have been any -- it could have been us.

PEREIRA: The derailment is the latest in a series of high-profile roller coaster accidents at other parks in recent years and the third incident in the past week.


PEREIRA (on camera): Six Flags released a statement that reads, "The safety of our guests and employees is our number one priority, and as a precaution, the ride will remain closed until a thorough inspection of the area is complete."

It looks as though they need to do tree abatement. Because those -- it's really overgrown. The trees seem -- and it sounds like one of the trees, you know, they had a lot of -- they actually haven't had a lot of rain out there, but one of the trees broke a limb and right on to the tracks, which is a concern.

BERMAN: If you run in there, though, then you have to wait on the roller coaster to get off. That's a whole lot of problems all at once.

PEREIRA: That's a tough one.

BOLDUAN: Thanks Michaela. Coming up next on NEW DAY, the stop and frisk debate far from over. A rise in shootings in New York prompting some critics to say that that controversial practice should make a comeback. A debate of whether that's a good idea is ahead.


BERMAN: Welcome back, everyone. A contentious debate growing in this city and around the country right now over the issue of gun violence. An 8 percent spike in shootings here in New York City has many people questioning whether the controversial policy of stop and frisk should have been suspended. It was suspended now about one year ago.

So let's discuss this issue. Let's debate it. Lou Palumbo, retired law enforcement agent, is here with us; also Marc Lamont Hill, CNN political commentator and host of "HuffPost Live".

All right, guys, in 15 seconds or less I want to lay down the parameters of where this discussion is going, because I think you have diametrically opposed views on stop and frisk. It's been a year since it was suspended, Lou. We've seen this spike, this rise in shootings this year. Stop and frisk, the lack of it, is it responsible for that spike?

LOU PALUMBRO, RETIRED LAW ENFORCMENT OFFICER: Most definitely. I mean, unfortunately, stop and frisk is a very necessary tool in eliminating firearms or handguns or whatever form of weapon they are using in the street.

BERMAN: All right, stop right there. Marc Lamont Hill, the spike in shootings, would it have been lower with stop and frisk? MARC LAMONT HILL, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: First, I would dispute

that it's a spike. Eight percent is an increase, a spike is a bit much.

We don't know yet. Even the NYPD says we don't know -- we have to unpack the data and figure out whether or not eliminating stop and frisk was the cause of this. I know in 2013 there was a 50 percent decrease in stop and frisk policies, and a 25 percent drop in crime, and no one was saying, "Oh, getting rid of stop and frisk is working." So I think there are a variety of factors we have to consider here.

BERMAN: So, Lou, what about that? The numbers Marc's talking about here, we have seen an 8 percent rise, maybe not a spike but a rise in shootings. Still, the second lowest number of shootings, I think, you know, on record here in the city.

PALUMBRO: You know, if the question is is there a correlation between the increase in shootings and the abandonment of the stop and frisk policy, the answer unequivocally is yes. It takes a little bit of time until --

LAMONT HILL: That's based on what? Based on what?

PALUMBRO: It's based on experience and I'm going to make reference specifically for you, Marc.

When Bill Bratton first came into this job as police commissioner approximately 20 years ago, we had over 2,200 homicides in this city every year. Stop and frisk was one of the most effective tools that was implemented. We reduced the homicides to approximately 500. You cannot arbitrate that, Marc; that's the statistical truth. It takes a little bit of time until it filters to the street that the police are in the hands off mode, and that's why there's a lag time that occurs between 2013 and the present time, and why suddenly the increases are starting to take effect.

The simple truth of the matter is the individuals that carry out these acts with firearms realize now that the police have been instructed to lay off. They have no fear or reticence about carrying weapons. Before, when they implemented the stop and frisk -- stop, question and frisk -- they realized there was a high likelihood that they were going to be found out if they were carrying weapons.


LAMONT HILL: OK, so first there, there wasn't a high likelihood. 89 percent of the time when they stopped someone and frisked them, they were found innocent of everything, right? Not just guns, but also drugs and other activity. So in general --

PALUMBRO: What time frame are you speaking to, Marc?

LAMONT HILL: If you look at the NYPD data from 2000 until even to last year, the -- the most successful rate police had was something --

PALUMBRO: Marc, and the reason -- and the reason -- LAMONT HILL: Let me -- you've made a sires of arguments. Let me

respond to all of them.

BERMAN: Marc, go ahead.

PALUMBRO: Go ahead, buddy.

LAMONT HILL: Another point here is that it doesn't work. Again, statistically it just does not work. We've found effectively that most people who are stopped don't have anything. So if somehow people with guns think that police have a high likelihood of finding them, the data doesn't bear that out.

But a whole other range of reasons why this is problematic. One, you're saying that there's unequivocal statistical evidence but then you're saying this is based on experience. If you look at the range of statistical factors that go into this, it's not just stop and frisk -- it's community policing, it's high engagement, it's targeting populations who may be more likely to engage in criminal behavior. All that stuff matters. Simply taking a whole bunch of people and pulling them over or stopping and frisking them doesn't seem to work.

PALUMBRO: Marc, you're right about that, my friend, but the reality of the situation is this. You're speaking current time and I'm speaking not just currently but over a span of over 20 years. But I do agree with you, there are other --

LAMONT HILL: It wasn't something that happened over 20 years. It wasn't as if there were all these guns and crime and suddenly we stopped and pulled everyone over and suddenly crime went down. But even if that was true --

PALUMBRO: That's what happened.

LAMONT HILL: A range of things happened.


LAMONT HILL: Are you telling me the only thing that New York police did was stop and frisk? I would like to think it's community policing.

PALUMBRO: They did. But there is no substitute for stopping and frisking people if you're looking for guns. And if you're asking me --

LAMONT HILL: Of course. And if I were to stop every American on the street arbitrarily, I probably would find some guns, and at some point it would reduce crime. But that's not -- first of all, it violates the Fourth Amendment, but beyond that it's not the most effective way.

PALUMBRO: Marc, it isn't the only tool. You're 100 percent right. I agree with you. But I would argue that with you, and the statistics that existed 20 years ago when you were a young man, support the fact that stop and frisk is effective in getting guns off the street. What we're experiencing now is an increase in shootings and weapons on the street because the police have been told to lay off and the element in the society and our culture that carry firearms are not fearful anymore.

LAMONT HILL: They were never fearful. 20 years ago --

PALUMBRO: No, no, they were fearful, Marc, and that's supported by the fact that the homicides dropped from 2,200 to 500.

LAMONT HILL: It's not. That's absolutely (ph) not true. Even 20 years ago when you were a younger man, it wasn't the case.

BERMAN: You were both young men, although we're both growing older by the second here as we continue to debate this. Look, by the end of the summer we'll have some more statistics; let's hope they're not bad statistics, one way or the other. But we'll keep watching this. The police say they're watching it; they're putting 400 cops on the street, taking them out from behind the desk, putting them on the street. Hopefully that will do something in and of itself.

Thanks, guys. Kate?

BOLDUAN: Great debate, thanks guys.

Coming up next on NEW DAY, it's like something out of a movie, quite honestly. Was the Cuban government behind attempts to smear a U.S. senator? That's the allegation in a blockbuster new report. We're going to take a look at it on INSIDE POLITICS.


PEREIRA: Welcome back to NEW DAY. Here's a look at your headlines at almost half past the hour.

Japan facing its strongest typhoon in decades. Heavy damage is expected as Typhoon Neoguri arrives with 125-mile-an-hour winds and 45-foot waves. The storm's already reached Okinawa, where more than 600,000 people have been warned to evacuate.

Civil rights activists plan to meet with more California Highway Patrol officers today after this disturbing video. The cell phone video shows the CHP officer pummeling a 51-year-old woman, a great- grandmother, on the side of the freeway as she was being arrested. Activists held an impromptu meeting with the department's deputy commissioner on Monday, demanding to know how the CHP is responding to this incident.

Police in New York have a 20-year-old woman in custody. They are questioning her after a baby was abandoned on a busy subway platform. That woman has not yet been identified but here she is. Police have released this surveillance video of the woman who pushed the stroller off of a train at Columbus Circle but then jumped back on the train herself without the child. Police say the baby is doing fine at a local hospital.

No crying in baseball, but a Yankees fan is taking his gripes all the way to court. Andrew Rector filed a defamation lawsuit against two ESPN baseball commentators, the Yankees, and Major League Baseball, for showing him sleeping during an April broadcast.