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First MH17 Bodies To Arrive In Netherlands; FAA Suspends U.S. Flights To Israel; Conflicting Obamacare Rulings
Aired July 23, 2014 - 06:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
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UNIDENTIFIED MALE: If they happen to find my son's body, please release it.
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CHRIS CUOMO, CNN ANCHOR: Now the U.S. releasing new intelligence on who shot down the plane and why. The big question, just how involved was Russia? We have the very latest.
WOLF BLITZER, CNN HOST, "THE SITUATION ROOM": I'm Wolf Blitzer in Jerusalem. Also breaking, Secretary of State John Kerry now in Israel. Chances for a cease-fire looking increasingly dim with each passing hour. Flights into Tel Aviv from America now halted after a rocket landed near the airport. Israel pushing to end the ban. Will the U.S. lift the restrictions?
CUOMO: A special edition of NEW DAY starts right now.
The bodies of the victims will be coming back to an airport about an hour from where we are in the Netherlands. Today is a national day of mourning. They haven't had one since 1962 in respect of the passing of a queen. So it just goes to show how much this means to people. The country has its arms wide open.
Behind us, these are all rows of flowers. This country, of course, is known for its tulips and flowers, but these are gestures of love and support, notes to the victims, notes to the people who love the victims. These are travelers. They are on their way different places. They have stopped here to observe it, and a lot of these people actually aren't in transit.
They have just come from their homes and in an expression of love and to give respect to those who lost their lives. A very different picture here than what we've been experiencing in Eastern Ukraine. Good morning to you, Kate, John.
KATE BOLDUAN, CNN ANCHOR: Good morning, Chris. Thanks so much. We'll get back to you in just a second. We're also following the latest from the Middle East. Wolf Blitzer is in Jerusalem as you see right there with updates on the cease-fire talks and the latest on the suspension of U.S. flights to and from Israel. We're going to have more on that in a few minutes. JOHN BERMAN, CNN GUEST ANCHOR: There are some other big headlines we're following this morning as well, here in the U.S., including duelling court rules that could force changes for millions of people already enrolled in Obamacare.
And also a major recall affecting some widely consumed fruit. If you shop at Costco, Walmart, Trader Joe's, you all need to hear this. We'll have more on that later. But for now let's get back to Chris on the ground in Amsterdam -- Chris.
CUOMO: All right, John, thank you very much. There are so many questions hanging over what happened here. Russian versions, U.S. versions, the west trying to come up with an idea of forensically figuring out how this plane, MH17, was taken out of the sky. But at the end of the day, there's one thing that's undeniable and that is that the people on Flight MH-17 had no role in that conflict. They were absolutely innocent and killed for no reason.
Now what happened to them afterwards, the aftermath of the situation made it even worse, the indignity of that scene, things that I hope no one watching ever has to witness for themselves, but today is a very different day. Today they are getting their respect of coming home, long process of identifying them, giving some closure to the families. Since the loss of life, today is the first day of hope for these families.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We feel that the eyes of the world are upon us to do this right.
CUOMO (voice-over): Coming home. At least 200 bodies recovered from Flight MH-17 placed aboard a Dutch military aircraft just hours ago now on their way to the Netherlands. Once handed over to forensic experts, they will begin what's expected to be the difficult task of identifying each victim.
But more agony for the families this morning. European monitors now say that up to 100 bodies, nearly one-third of the 298 on board, may be missing. They didn't arrive on the train from the crash site as expected raising new questions about where they may be.
The plane's two black boxes arriving in the U.K. this morning. The Dutch asking Britain's Air Accident Aviation Agency to take the lead on analyzing them, but experts say getting to the actual wreckage is vital because the boxes likely won't hold the key to who shot down the plane and why.
HUGH DUNLEAVY, COMMERCIAL DIRECTOR, MALAYSIA AIRLINES: The crime scene, which is what mh-17 is, has been I think picked clean by the various groups that were in control of that area. I think the entire site has been compromised.
CUOMO: U.S. officials now ramping up the pressure on Russia, briefing reporters on what they say is convincing intelligence that Russian militants shot it down accidentally. They point to this graphic showing the trajectory of the flight. U.S. intelligence picking up a missile launcher being turned on and then the vertical ascent of the missile and its heat plume.
The U.S. also releasing evidence a buildup of Russian forces in Rostov City, releasing this satellite imagery of a military area just inside the Russian border where they continue to ship weapons, many headed for Ukraine.
Today former U.S. President Bill Clinton delivered the keynote speech at the International HIV/AIDS Conference in Melbourne, Australia. On board Flight 17, six leading aids researchers planning to attend.
FORMER PRESIDENT BILL CLINTON: We have to remind people that the people we lost on that airplane gave their entire lives to the proposition that our common humanity matters a hell of a lot more than our interesting differences.
CUOMO: You can imagine how emotional it is for the families and the people who actually knew the loved ones and complicating matters is the question of exactly who is coming home. Two parts to that. The first is we're not sure about the body count. We are not sure how many victims may have been left behind. That's going to be part of the hard forensic work going forward.
That will take time also. So just because they are coming home does not mean it is over for the people here, not to mention all the questions that are still haunting these families and the world about how this happened and who did it. We will be covering what's happening here in Amsterdam and, of course, what's going on back in Eastern Ukraine, that crime scene still unsecured.
But we're also covering another major breaking story, what's going on in Israel and Gaza with no signs of relief. Our Wolf Blitzer is there as he has been from the beginning. Hello, Wolf.
BLITZER: Hi, Chris. Thanks very much. On behalf of all of our viewers, let me thank you for the very excellent special coverage that you're giving us right now. This is such a powerful emotional story, and you and all of our team are doing an amazing, amazing job.
There is a lot of emotion here in Israel right now as well and certainly tons of emotion in Gaza. The secretary of state of the United States, John Kerry, he is now here in Jerusalem. He's trying to broker a cease-fire between Hamas and Israel. He says progress has been made in bringing an end to the fighting we shall see.
Meanwhile, the Palestinian death toll rising, 649, most of them civilians. Two more Israeli soldiers were killed in combat on Tuesday bringing the number of Israeli troops killed now to 29.
Now the U.S. is taking action to protect travelers. The FAA suspended all flights from the United States to Israel's Ben Gurion Airport after a rocket fired from Gaza landed a mile or so from the airport causing significant damage to a house right near the airport. U.S. Airways says it does plan to resume flights to Tel Aviv tomorrow, but only pending FAA approval.
That's where CNN's Martin Savidge is standing by right now over at Ben Gurion Airport. Martin, set the scene for us. What's the very latest there?
MARTIN SAVIDGE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, Wolf, here we are, just after midday. This should be a peak travel time. Take a look out there on the tarmac, the empty runway, only one runway from Ethiopia, but otherwise extremely quiet for this international destination.
SAVIDGE (voice-over): This morning, all U.S. air carriers offering flights to Israel still grounded. The FAA ordering airlines to suspend trips to Israel's Ben Gurion International Airport near Tel Aviv for at least 24 hours after a rocket launched by Hamas demolished this home about a mile from the runways.
CNN's own John Vause was aboard a Tel Aviv bound flight when the ban took effect. He shoot this video while walking off the plane diverted to Paris. Some passengers taking off from Tel Aviv to New York on Tuesday seen rushing out of airport after sirens sounded warning of a possible rocket attack.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We had to run off the plane to shelter in the middle of the airport.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It was crazy. I was very nervous.
SAVIDGE: Former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg boarded an El Al flight to Tel Aviv from JFK last night, a show of confidence in Israel and suggesting the FAA ban should be lifted. El Al is not one of the affected airlines.
MICHAEL BLOOMBERG, FORMER NEW YORK CITY MAYOR: I want to show it's great and Israel has a right to defend its people.
SAVIDGE: But the administration says they are not going to overrule the FAA.
BEN RHODES, DEPUTY NATIONAL SECURITY ADVISER: Frankly the situation that we saw in Ukraine only underscores the need to take extra precautions when it comes to the safety of civilian airliners.
SAVIDGE: Meanwhile, the bloodshed continues in Gaza. The Palestinian death toll rising to more than 640, and two more Israeli soldiers were killed there overnight bringing Israel's death toll to at least 29 soldiers and two civilians.
SAVIDGE: Israel maintains that thanks to its iron dome missile system, this airport is protected and safe, but let me show you, Wolf, just how close that rocket came. You take a look beyond the runway to those apartment buildings immediately thereafter, and if you're an international air carrier with a jumbo jet that's too close for comfort -- Wolf.
BLITZER: That's why the FAA decided to put this suspension on for 24 hours. We'll know in the next few hours if the FAA is going to continue the suspension of all U.S. flights from the United States to Israel, out of Israel or if they will lift that. We do know that the Israeli government, Israeli officials are deeply, deeply disappointed in this FAA decision.
Martin, we'll get back to you. There is a lot other news happening, not only here but around world. Let's go back to New York and Kate -- Kate.
BOLDUAN: All right, Wolf, thanks so much. We'll get back to you shortly. Here at home, the White House is announcing it is revising rules to accommodate non-profit religious groups looking to opt out of providing contraception coverage in their health plans. This obviously has been a big political debate.
This follows two conflicting appeals court rulings Tuesday that will likely land Obamacare very possibly back before the Supreme Court. CNN's Michelle Kosinski is live at White House with more on this. A lot going on here, what first off, what do these conflicting rulings mean for everybody at home?
MICHELLE KOSINSKI, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: OK, right. This is interesting to hear both sides declaring victory because here we have two different cases and two different appeals court. The same issue but opposite rulings. Back when Congress approved the Affordable Care Act, they said for those who qualify individuals who can't get insurance through their employers, they will qualify for these federal tax credits to keep the insurance affordable when they buy it through the marketplace that their state will then set up.
As it turns out, only 16 states set up those marketplaces, leaving the majority of those individuals who needed to buy insurance to get it directly through the federal government. About 70 percent of them who qualify for the tax credit had to do it that way. Now we have a question of language. One ruling says, well, technically the law says to get that tax credit and keep the system affordable you needed to get it through your state.
The other ruling saying well, it's not their fault that their state didn't set up a marketplace and Congress clearly intended all of these people to get the federal tax credit, so as of right now the federal tax credit stands while this continues through appeals, but it's very likely head for the Supreme Court -- Michaela.
MICHAELA PEREIRA, CNN ANCHOR: And of course we'll be watching. Michelle Kosinski, thanks so much for breaking it all down for us. Let's get a look at other headlines. It's 12 minutes past the hour.
Breaking overnight, a Chicago bound Southwest Airlines flight was forced to make an emergency landing in Columbus, Ohio. Pilots diverted when a smoke indicator went off after departing Baltimore. Emergency slides were deployed. All five crew members and 49 passengers aboard plane were able to exit the plane safely. Smoke was found in one of the cargo holds. That plane has been taken out of service for inspection.
It will be two political newcomers battling for a key Senate seat in November, businessman, David Purdue, just defeated veteran, Congressman Jack Kingston in a runoff and will face Michelle Nun, the race for the seat of retiring Senator Saxby Chandler.
Chrysler recalling about 800,000 SUVs for possible faulty ignition switches. In 2006 and 2007 Jeep Commandeers and Jeep Cherokees from 2005 to 2007. Chrysler says the ignition could turn off if the switch is bumped. Chrysler says they are aware of one accident linked to this problem however, no injuries.
This morning police in New York are searching for the people who raised bleached American flags over the Brooklyn Bridge. Construction workers reported the swap early Tuesday morning just hours after officials say five people were spotted on security video crossing the bridge. The motivation behind the stunt is still unknown. But certainly they are still investigating the stunt. Was there something nefarious? How were they able to do it?
BOLDUAN: Something as benign an intention as possible, the security concern of how did they get there.
BERMAN: Listen to the top cops in New York, they seem embarrassed frankly that this happened in front of their eyes when they were watching.
BOLDUAN: Coming up on NEW DAY, a national day of mourning in the Netherlands as the bodies of many of those who perished on Flight 17 is coming home. Chris will be speaking with a family who lost two children on that flight after the break.
CUOMO: I'm standing right now with the Calehr family. This is Harun, this is Samira (ph), and this is Yasmin (ph).
Harun's two nephews were lost on Flight MH17. This is their mother, this is their grandmother.
Behind you, all these flowers and notes of expressing condolences and praying for the souls of those who are gone, the travelers who are coming by. You know this is all for you and for your nephews, yes?
HARUN CALEHR, UNCLE OF MH17 PASSENGER: Yes. It's the first time I've seen it, and it's just too poignant to look at it. I was just choking up. I couldn't stand it.
CUOMO: How difficult has this been to lose the little ones, to lose the one you care about the most and in a way where they were not only far away but everything that followed afterwards? How have you managed to stay together, family?
CALEHR: I don't know honestly, Chris. I think it's the adrenaline. I mean, it's just indescribable. We're all in a haze, we're so numb, we're so sad, and, of course, we keep thinking about the most important thing how much the kids suffered. Just hope it was all over very quickly.
CUOMO: Samira, I don't even want you to have to talk. I know you want to be here to support your boys. I'm sorry to talk about how they were gone.
I'm sorry, I know this is difficult for you. I don't want them to be forgotten. I want people to know how special boys were so it's not just about politics, OK? So I'm sorry you have to be here and Harun, I appreciate you speaking for them.
CUOMO: Tell us about these boys. I know they were special.
CALEHR: Of course, like every victim on that flight was special for their family. But, truly, they were very hard working boys, they're good in school, they're very helpful to their family. They've been a pillar to her. She's been separated from her house for four years.
She was a single mom. They had just come to the Netherlands for the last four years, so it was a new country, a new life. It was, you know, everything was new, and they had never lived on their own in Europe before. So, it was very difficult, but they were just tremendously good boys.
CUOMO: And there are two things I want to see if they are actually true. Is it true that the young one started talking about flying and being worried and what might happen and that your family believed he may have sensed something coming? Is that true?
CALEHR: Yes. You know, whether you want to call it a premonition or whatever, the eerie thing was that right before getting on the flight after going through passport control and he ran back to his mom and my sister standing next to me, and he said, what's going to happen if the plane is going to crash and die, I'm afraid to fly.
And she said, don't worry. You've flown so many times before on your open. You know, you've been an unaccompanied minor on many flights before. You'll be safe. Your big brother is there. Everything is going to be fine.
And he said, what's going to happen if I die, and what -- what if God asks me a question, what shall I tell him?
So, you know, now that you think back on him, it's just incredibly sad and I wish we had been able to stop him from getting on that flight?
CUOMO: Oh, you can't do that, you can't do that.
CALEHR: I know.
CUOMO: Samira, I hope you're not doing that. It means something now, but, please, don't put yourself there. That's not fair to you.
And it is true there's a third boy and there was no seat available on this flight. Otherwise, he would have been on it also. But he wasn't. He's home. He's safe.
CALEHR: He's home and he's, of course, devastated. And we're worried about him. He's 16 years old and he lost two of his best friends.
CUOMO: Now, I know one of the reasons that it's important for you to speak for your family is because of what happened after this completely wrong act of taking the plane out of the sky, the disrespect and indignity, how it's being treated there by these militants.
I was there. And there's no question that this scene is terrible. But I will tell you that people were doing their best to be respectful, not so much the militants, that's just the truth, but people were trying to say prayers. People were trying to look after what was going on there to keep a little bit of dignity.
It should have been a lot. It should have been like this from the beginning. They should have been home a long time ago.
But what does it mean to you, that not only were their lives taking so wrongfully, but everything that happened afterwards.
CALEHR: That's probably the biggest insult, adding insult to injury. I mean, I understand it's a war zone and there's a lot of animosity between the parties, but these people behaved like animals.
I mean, our kids -- the 296 other victims, they were not part and parcel of this horrible war that's going on over there. They had nothing to do with it. They are innocent parties and it's sacrilegious what was going on with their remains, and they should have been treated more respectfully.
CUOMO: How are you handling with whether your boys come back now? Because they don't know exactly who they have. They don't know if people are still there or just undiscovered as of yet? Do you prepare for that?
CALEHR: That's what we've prayed for. At least we'll have something to hold on to, something to put in the grave, preferably, obviously, a body, not just a limb, and it was very, very graphic the way the forensic police that has been very, very supportive of us, when they took a DNA swab yesterday morning of my sister but they were very frank.
And they said, you know, we may not discover them in time. We may just get a limb. What do you want us to do? You want to put him in a grave or do you want to wait until we find both boys?
So it was just too much to bear sometimes.
CUOMO: That is -- the practicalities can be most horrible part of dealing with something like this. I can only imagine. But I know you believe they are not just their body anyway.
CALEHR: Right. CUOMO: And now the question that dominates the world and means the least to you in some respects. Does it matter who did this? Does it matter if it was intentional or if it was an accident? Does it matter if it was just militants or Russia or Ukraine? How much does that matter to you, those answers?
CALEHR: They matter to me quite a bit. I think both the militants, both Russia and Malaysia Airlines, they are all to blame in one way or another, and everybody ultimately will have to pay the price and be responsible, be held responsibly, either legally or either financially, or either from a religious stand point of view.
But we're not out for revenge but it's just the right thing to do, that they should pay for their crimes, their deeds. This is a terrorist act. It's a criminal act, the area where the crash site, it's a crime scene. It should have been secured more safely and it wasn't.
CUOMO: And it still should be, and we're doing all we can to give attention to that.
Harun, I am sorry to meet you this way.
CALEHR: Thank you so much. So am I. I appreciate it, though.
CUOMO: Samira, our heart goes out to you. I'm so sorry for what you've lost.
And Yasmin --
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Thank you, and thanks to CNN to show the world what never should have been shown. It's not just us. It is people crying every minute for the same reasons we are crying. I don't know where humanity is going, but when I see you and everybody and the flowers, there's always hope.
We have to move on. I don't know how, but we have to, because they were just incredible kids. They were just incredible. We never knew how many lives they touched until now. We thought it was just us, but it's amazing, so they haven't lived for nothing and I thank all of you to try to help us for this process.
CUOMO: Hopefully, they will be coming back now to a place them a praises them and doesn't deal with their disgrace and gives them their dignity, and I hope it they come home to you, so you can bury them. Let us know how we can help.
Samira, I'm sorry for you to have to be here like this.
CALEHR: Thank you so much.
CUOMO: Harun, Samira, Yasmin, thank you.
CALEHR: Thank you very much.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Thank you so much. CUOMO: Kate, back to you.
BOLDUAN: Their pain is unimaginable.
Chris, thank you so much for that. We're going to get back to you very shortly.
Coming up next on NEW DAY, we're also looking at the other big story make headlines. The United States is suspending flights to Israel over fears of rocket fire. Wolf Blitzer spoke with a member of Hamas who had warned airlines to stop their flights. That's coming up next.