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FAA Lifts Ban on Air Travel to Israel; Bodies Removed from Crash Site of Downed Airliner in Ukraine; Violence Continues in Ukraine; Israel Insists its Airport is Safe; An Air Algerie Flight is Lost

Aired July 24, 2014 - 07:00   ET


WOLF BLITZER, CNN HOST, "THE SITUATION ROOM": Even before the FAA banned it, it was significant indeed. Just walk around Jerusalem. You would normally see a lot of tourists here during the peak tourism season. Not so much right now. Martin, we'll get back to you. And in a few minutes I'm going to speak to the head of the Israeli Aviation Authority. I expect we'll get some hard news on which of those carriers are about to resume flying to and from Israel. In the meantime, let's go back to Chris in New York.

CHRIS CUOMO, CNN ANCHOR: Important information to hear. We'll be back to you in a little bit, Wolf. Thank you for that. We want to return to the latest on the shoot-down of MH-17. And 74 more coffins are headed to the Netherlands from Ukraine today. Back at crime scene, just as international monitors are getting access to what's left of the crime scene, new reports that Russia is firing into Ukraine. That new wave of violence could include the attack that brought down two Ukrainian fighter jets Wednesday. Let's get to Nick Paton Walsh who is tracking the very latest from Ukraine. Nick, what do we know about the conditions at the crime scene and these reports of gunfire?

NICK PATON WALSH, CNN INTERNATIONAL. CORRESPONDENT: Well, we know that the -- we know that the special representative of the Australian prime minister is trying to get near the crime scene. We don't know an awful lot about the conditions necessarily there right now. We know it's caught in a civil war. That could mean anything for those trying to get closer to it.

But we do know where I'm standing in Kharkiv here that most likely now the second of two cargo planes have taken off moving 74 coffins back to the Netherlands. They hope that that process will again continue tomorrow, Friday. That will most likely end the shipping of the remains brought by that refrigerated train from Kharkiv two days ago, that from which two days ago from Kharkiv, it will end that process. But then in the Netherlands they have to start the really difficult task of working out precisely how many bodies were on that train, and then whether there's anything left at the crash site for them to comb through and bring some kind of finality, some kind of closure to relatives still looking to bury the remains of their loved ones. Alisyn?

ALISYN CAMEROTA, CNN ANCHOR: Nick Paton Walsh, thank you so much for that update. Let's bring in CNN's Fareed Zakaria. He's the host of "FAREED ZAKARIA

GPS." Fareed, great to see you. Let's talk about the reports of two more military jets being shot down over the rebel's territory. So it looks like the death of 300 civilians hasn't changed the game plan there.

FAREED ZAKARIA, CNN HOST, "FAREED ZAKARIA GPS": No. I think we need to remember that this part of Ukraine is so hotly contested for a reason. There are Ukrainians in the area, as Chris met them, who are very pro-Russian. There are Russian operatives in there. And their goal, that is, the goal of the pro-Russian forces within Ukraine, of Russia itself, is to keep control of this area. They do not want the Ukrainian government to get back control of Donetsk and the surrounding region.

So what's probably happening is the Ukrainian government has been taking advantage of this opportunity to try to press forward, to try to consolidate some of the gains that it's made, and is flying jets over, and they are being taken out. So what this tells you certainly Vladimir Putin has not sent a stand-down order, or what is more troubling, that he might have sent some signal but the people on the ground aren't listening as much because this is all taking on a life of its own. He's created kind of a Frankenstein's monster in a very rabidly pro-Russian set of Ukrainian thugs.

CAMEROTA: You know, that's an interesting set of points you raised, because obviously everybody is analyzing this to see how much control Putin has, and the U.S. opinion is that he has all of the control. But you're saying that he may not. They may have gone rogue in that way.

ZAKARIA: He's single person with the most control here, so it's right to pressure him. But it's quite -- I mean, they can't last without Putin because they need supplies. They need arms. They need training. But it's quite possible that, you know, they have got those shoulder-to-air missiles. In this case they probably don't need the most sophisticated surface-to-air missiles. They could shoot down something they see up in the sky when they are sure it's a military jet pause they fly lower. As Chris reported, half of these people are drunk. A lot of them are just thugs sprawling for a fight.

CUOMO: And 100 militant disparate groups, that's from the OSCE< the international monitoring organization. So the idea of having a collective strategy is probably remote.

But let's apply the same scrutiny, Fareed, because you've done this very well from the beginning. It seems that the same talk comes out of the U.S. and west and moves Russia not an inch. I don't hear the talk changing. Even the Dutch, for all the outrage that they justifiably could have, they say, well, hold on with the economic cutoff from Russia. We make a lot of money off of them. Germany, France, the U.K., they are so tied to Russia. This talk of money, money will fix it, does it sound hollow at this point?

ZAKARIA: Well, it certainly would be much better if they were to do two things. One, speak with one voice and, b, at least threaten a series of credible, realistic sanctions. But as you say, the Dutch case is -- it's sad in a way but here you have a country that has had a version of 9/11 and they have had proportionate terms about as many people die as people had in the United States on 9/11. But the Dutch are Russia's second largest trading partner after China. Rotterdam is the port that takes in the most Russian oil in all the world. They take in their oil and refine it and sell it. Shell, the Anglo-Dutch conglomerate, huge investor in Russian oil. So they see themselves as so tied up.

But they are wrong to do this, because the truth is you want a stable world and good economics depends on having, you know, kind of stable rules of the road. You don't want countries gobbling up each other and things like that. And this is a case where commercial interests are not the best guide to the national interests let alone the international interests.

CAMEROTA: There's also reports of Russian troops possibly amassing at the Ukrainian border. What is that about? Is this escalating?

ZAKARIA: I think Russia has always wanted to maintain the idea that it is going to be in control of the situation. What the Russians know, unfortunately, is that one day the United States will get bored with this, and they live next door, and they're maintaining the proximity of power that they know about. You know, this is why this is such a difficult situation. At very low cost Putin can destabilize Ukraine. And he's right in a sense. We're not going to be there forever. So one thing we have to recognize is we have to start talking to Putin in a tough, direct way, because he has to be invested in the stability of Ukraine. In the long run he can destabilize it on the cheap a lot more than we can re-stabilize it.

CAMEROTA: So let's talk about the crash site for a second. We understand that an international police force today might be going in and taking control of that or securing the area. What took so long? It's been a week.

ZAKARIA: What took so long, as always happens with peacekeeping forces, they don't want to get into situations where they might be shot at because then they face the awkward situation of they are meant to be peacekeepers, not peacemakers in an offensive operation. And as Chris was reporting until a few days ago these pro-Russian rebels would have shot at anyone coming in.

CUOMO: I think the threat is still very real there, but you also have to weigh it in terms of how real it is to get answers out of this situation, because for all the talk we haven't seen proof that makes a definite case of what brought down this plane, and until you get that, there are a lot of minds that won't be changed.

CAMEROTA: Fareed, thanks so much. Be sure to watch "FAREED ZAKARIA GPS" Sundays 10:00 a.m. and 1:00 p.m. eastern only on CNN. Great to see you.

MICHAELA PEREIRA, CNN ANCHOR: All right, let's take a look at your headlines at eight minutes past the hour. An execution gone wrong in Arizona, and it's sparking new debate over lethal injections. Death row inmate Joseph Wood was alive for nearly two hours after receiving a lethal drug combination. It should have taken about 10 minutes. He was alive so long his attorneys filed an emergency appeal to stop the execution midway. Reports on scene are varied, but one witness says inmate's last breath were, quote, "like a fish on shore gulping for air."

Another big recall for General Motors. The automaker is recalling more than 800,000 cars for a variety of issues affecting air bags, steering, and turn signals. The company says it is aware of one accident and three injuries related to these latest defects. GM has recalled 30 million cars this year, most because of faulty ignition switches that were ignored for a decade.

A revealing new study from the medical journal "The Lancet" says that acetaminophen works no better in treating back pain than a placebo. Researchers studied nearly 1,700 people across Australia who were experiencing back pain. The results found little difference in response to the real pills and the fake ones. The drugs did help or appeared to help, rather, headaches, tooth aches, and pain after surgery, but specifically back pain, which is frustrating, I'm sure, for anybody that has back pain that can be so debilitating and so miserable.

CAMEROTA: What are you supposed to do if you have back pain?

PEREIRA: I wish there was an answer. So many people have suffered from it and have tried various things.

CUOMO: I'm on Tylenol right now.

PEREIRA: All hopped up on Tylenol.

CUOMO: My back still hurts so I'm glad to hear this report. It means I'm not crazy.

PEREIRA: Exhibit A.

CUOMO: More proof that I am the problem.

Coming up on NEW DAY. So if it was dangerous enough to stop flying to Israel and it hasn't gotten less dangerous, why was the ban lifted? We're going to go back to Wolf Blitzer on the ground in Jerusalem. He's got the head of Israel's civil aviation authority to get some answers.

CAMEROTA: And a U.S. senator is admitting to plagiarism. We'll have the reporter that broke that story when we go INSIDE POLITICS.


BLITZER: Welcome back. I'm Wolf Blitzer in Jerusalem. Flights by U.S. carrier to and from Tel Aviv are now cleared to resume, the FAA lifting its travel ban overnight. It lasted only 36 hours, but what will the U.S. carriers do now? Joining us is Giora Romm, the director of the Civil Aviation Authority in Israel. Mr. Rum, thanks very much for joining us. What are you hearing from Delta, United, and U.S. Airways, those are the three U.S. carriers that fly to and from Tel Aviv?

GIORA ROMM, DIRECTOR OF CIVIL AVIATION AUTHORITY IN ISRAEL: Well, two of them have already decided to start to fly tonight. The third one, I think it was Delta, when I left my office, it was not on the screen, but I'm sure Delta will fly as well.

BLITZER: So U.S. Airways and United, they've already agreed. Delta will resume flying in the next day or two, that's what you're hearing. How did you convince the FAA, which was so concerned about these rockets, missiles coming in from Gaza, coming and flying over Ben Gurion Airport, how did you convince them to reverse their decision?

ROMM: Well, Wolf, it start when I was heading a team made of Civil Aviation Authority people and the Air Force a year and a half to go to plan how to operate the civil aviation traffic in Israel in that kind of situation, and I think that we came with a well-built, solid plan how to do it. And that rocket that hit about one mile north of the fence of Ben Gurion was what shook the FAA, so we had to demonstrate to the FAA to give the FAA our basic assumptions, the matrix of the planning and some technological variables to convince them that what we plan was good, and I think that the FAA decision to stop restrictions is a vote of confidence in our quality and level of professionalism, and I want to thank the FAA for that.

BLITZER: What about the Europeans because British Air was continuing it's flying but KLM, Lufthansa, Air France, a lot of other European carriers had cancelled. Are they about to resume their flights as well? What are you hearing from them?

ROMM: Well, as of now we have 26 airlines from Europe flying to Israel from different countries. EASA, which is the European FAA is a little bit slower. I spoke with EASA this morning, and the head of EASA, Patrick Ky, told me that he was to consult with the FAA, so I guess that EASA consult with the FAA at 8:00 or 9:00 a.m. Washington time and will make its decision. We can wait for EASA to make its decision if it's quick or slow. I assume that at the end of the day the Europeans will fly to Israel as they should do right now.

BLITZER: Within the last hour or two there have been several rockets that were launched from Gaza that flew towards Central Israel, the Tel Aviv area not far away from Ben Gurion Airport. I assume the Iron Dome antimissile system intercepted those rockets. You can understand why international carriers are nervous about bringing big passenger planes into Israel while rockets, or intercepted rockets, are being launched in that general area, right?

ROMM: Its not exactly like this. First, they flew for about 15 days before that rocket hit that north of the fence, as I said, and we know how to do it, and we know how to intercept those rockets, and as we did today one more time. They are not flying through the airspace above Ben Gurion. It's very rare and we know how to kill them and I don't think that that should make the airlines stop flying to Israel. El Al and other Israeli airlines are flying around the clock to and from Israel.

BLITZER: So what's the basic message that you want to send out right now, because the last time U.S. flights were cancelled to and from Israel was back in January of 1991 when Iraqi scud missiles launched by Saddam Hussein's military were targeting Tel Aviv. At that time the FAA cancelled flights. What's the major message that you want to send out right now?

ROMM: That Ben Gurion is a safe airport, as safe can be. We know how to operate Ben Gurion, and the aerial traffic to and out of Israel in a safe and secure way, and we expect airlines to fly as if there is no conflict down there in Gaza. We are very disturbed by the fact that rockets are flying, but not because of aviation, but because of that's not the way that two nations should live next to each other. But that's not part of my responsibility, of course.

BLITZER: Giora Romm, the head of the Israel Aviation Authority joining us from Tel Aviv. Mr. Romm, thanks very much for joining us. Let me go back to Chris in New York. Chris, I've got to tell you, when the former mayor of New York City, Michael Bloomberg, was here yesterday and made that gesture of solidarity, of support to the Israelis flying in on an El Al plane into Ben Gurion Airport, that real was pretty significant. It raised the morale for a lot of Israelis to see Bloomberg here. He's emerged sort of as a little hero, at least in this country.

CUOMO: We'll have to see what it means to the airlines, Wolf, but it surely was an important symbol. That's for sure. Thanks for the reporting. Be back to you soon.

Coming up on NEW DAY, plagiarism by a U.S. senator.


CUOMO (voice-over): But one who blames it on PTS. We're going to find out how entire passages found their way into a paper written by the junior senator from Montana and whether his affliction could change the outcome. Democrat control of the Senate could hang in the balances, on "INSIDE POLITICS."

CAMEROTA (voice-over): Plus, the process of identifying the remains of the MH-17 victims is under way. Dr. Sanjay Gupta is in the Netherlands, and he's going to join us to talk about how they will complete this very delicate task.


PEREIRA: Good to have you back with us here on NEW DAY. We want to look at your headlines and we begin with this breaking news that we are watching.


PEREIRA (voice-over): An Air Algerie flight with 116 people on board, 2 pilots, 4 crew members disappeared from radar, it is considered missing right now. This plane was last heard from about an hour into the flight on its way to Algiers. We want to bring in our Al Goodman who is in Madrid with the very latest on this. Any more developments, any more news of where this plane could be? AL GOODMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Hi, Michaela, we don't

have that at this time, but we are getting some new details from a air live net, is an internet site that tracks airlines around the globe and what air live net is reporting via tweet is that many of the passengers on board this flight are French nationals, and the crew apparently are Spanish nationals. That may be because the plane, an MD-83 is owned by a company right here in Madrid that was on lease or chartered to Air Algeria which is the national carrier of Algeria. Now, flight was going from the capital of Burkina Faso in West Africa, it was supposed to go due north for about four hours to reach the capital of Algeria. It was an overnight flight. Left Burkina Faso about 1:00 in the morning local time and supposed to get to Algeria about 5:00 in the morning local time, but went missing 50 minutes into this flight.


GOODMAN (on camera): So you have authorities in Algeria, authorities here in Madrid, and some place else, obviously, in Africa trying to find out what happened to this MD-83. That's a twin-engine, single- engine jet that apparently had a maintenance check also about a month ago according to air live net. Back to you.

PEREIRA: Al Goodman, reporting from Madrid, this AH-5017 is its flight number. Apparently made four flights a week to Algiers from Burkina Faso. Obviously a story we're going to continue to follow. Stay with us here on CNN.


PEREIRA (voice-over): Other news we're watching, 74 more coffins carrying victims of Flight 17 are headed to the Netherlands today. International monitors are back on scene at the crash site, including a forensic expert. This as the European Union considers harsher sanctions on Russia for its suspected role in the disaster. A day after pro-Russian rebels took credit for downing two Ukrainian jets.

An investigation is now under way in Taiwan into the crash of a regional airliner. At least 48 people were killed Wednesday. A TransAsia flight crashed into a residential area. They were attempting an emergency landing. Several people on the ground were injured. 11 homes were damaged. The flight had been delayed because of typhoon-related weather in the area, many asking why that plane took off at all.

State Department officials are working to get their database for issuing passports and visas back online. A computer glitch caused major backlog of applications, affecting potentially millions of people waiting for U.S. documents. Officials say the problem affects a broad range of papers and is not limited to any specific region or country.


PEREIRA (on camera): Although, if you're trying to fly somewhere and you've got a trip booked and you don't have a passport, I'm sure that's the last thing you want to hear.

CUOMO: Nightmare alert.

CAMEROTA: That's a problem.

CUOMO: And what they are not going to tell you is how long it will take them to fix it.

PEREIRA: Hard to tell.

We'll get back to you, we'll monitor the situation, they will say.


CUOMO: To be sure, there is a lot to discuss in the world of politics, so let us get to INSIDE POLITICS on NEW DAY with a man simply known as John king.

JOHN KING, CNN ANCHOR: Mr. Cuomo, welcome home. Alisyn, welcome aboard. Michaela, good morning to you as well. Plenty to discuss INSIDE POLITICS so let's get right to it. With me to share their reporting and their insights, Jonathan Martin of "The New York Times", Manu Raju of "Politico." Let's start with the big political debate. The FAA has now decided U.S. flights can go back into Tel Aviv, but for 36 hours they were banned, and this has caused a lot of questions. Senator Ted Cruz of Texas, the conservative Tea Party favorite, he went to the Senate floor yesterday. He thinks politics is at play here. He said this, " The facts suggest that President Obama has just used a federal regulatory agency to launch an economic boycott on Israel in order to try to force our ally to comply with his foreign policy demands." Now, Manu, there's no question the president tried to get Prime Minister Netanyahu to get out. He called him on the phone, tried privately to say enough, you've done what you needed to do in Gaza. Get out. Prime minister Netanyahu said no, we're going to continue. But is there any evidence that the president or the White House ordered the FAA to do this?

MANU RAJU, "POLITICO": Not really and that's what has caused the concern from folks. Even people like Michael Bloomberg who said everything's fine there, why do we need to cancel flights heading into Tel Aviv? John, there are lots of Jewish donors, big Jewish donors who are very influential in the Democratic party, giving a lot of money to Senate races this year. It's a very influential voting bloc. I don't think that Democrats supported this boycott either. It seemed like that's the only thing and the FAA and the administration had to do.

KING: You make a very important point. Ted Cruz the Republican spoke out publicly, as did some other conservatives. The Democratic leadership, I'm told, wasn't happy either but they bit their tongue because its a Democratic president. Jonathan, Manu mentioned Michael Bloomberg. He was in Israel, he had an interview with our Wolf Blitzer where they talked about this and it got a little bit feisty.


MICAHEL BLOOMBERG, FORMER MAYOR OF NEW YORK CITY: I think the State Department is just overreacting in typical bureaucratic fashion.

BLITZER: Political reasons for that?

BLOOMBERG: Why would you think, that Wolf?

BLITZER: I'm asking you.

BLOOMBERG: Don't be ridiculous. Why would you think that?



KING: How -- you know the former mayor. How do we read that? Is that cynicism, is that sarcasm, is it of course?

JONATHAN MARTIN, "THE NEW YORK TIMES" I thought he was genuinely actually sort of bothered at the suggestion. Look, I think Manu raises an important point here. You pull back the politics and there's more politics behind curtain here.

The fact is, is that Senator Cruz will say some things that can help his party and himself politically that others won't, and I think he's quite proud of that fact, and this is certainly a case where he did that, and he is right, too. There are a lot of high-profile Jewish donors who deeply care about Israel. And this is a kind of issue where Senator Cruz latched onto. Its going to raise eyebrows.