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New Push for Middle East Cease-Fire; Officials Trying to Secure MH17 Crash Site; Obama Meets with Central American Leaders; Interview with Representative Henry Cuellar of Texas

Aired July 25, 2014 - 08:00   ET



CHRIS CUOMO, CNN ANCHOR: Breaking overnight, day of rage. A U.N. shelter in Gaza is bombed killing 16 and injuring hundreds, including women and children. Protests and more violence in response. Now, Secretary of State John Kerry is pushing a ceasefire. We have Wolf Blitzer live in Jerusalem.

ALISYN CAMEROTA, CNN ANCHOR: New plan. The White House set to offer refugee status for children from one Central American country. This as the president meets with leaders from the region today. Can it quell the border crisis?

MICHAELA PEREIRA, CNN ANCHOR: New details of what caused the Air Algerie flight to crash, over Africa, 116 killed. While in eastern Ukraine, the biggest wreckage from MH17 found only now. Both stories leaving many of us wondering, why so many air disasters?

CUOMO: Your NEW DAY continues right now.


ANNOUNCER: This is NEW DAY with Chris Cuomo, Kate Bolduan, and Michaela Pereira.

CUOMO: Good morning. Welcome back to NEW DAY. It is Friday, July 25, 8:00 in the East. Kate is on assignment.

This is Alisyn Camerota joining us now.

CAMEROTA: You're getting better.

CUOMO: Very good. I'm trying to figure it out. It's an odd name. It's not easy to say like Cuomo.

CAMEROTA: I thought you will start at 9:00, but no, you started at 6:00 this morning.


CUOMO: My kids can't even say my name. So, don't feel bad about it.

CAMEROTA: Is that right? CUOMO: But thank you for joining us.

CAMEROTA: My pleasure.

CUOMO: We are going to start in the Middle East this morning, because that's where Secretary of State John Kerry is pushing another cease fire proposal in the face of intense fighting.

Wolf Blitzer is also there on the ground in Jerusalem with the latest.

Wolf, great to see you safe. What is going on now?

WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: Well, the Israeli cabinet, the security cabinet is meeting in emergency session, Chris, right now in Tel Aviv. The prime minister convened that he spoke with Secretary of State Kerry last night and got the latest proposal for a week-long or so, five-day, six-day, seven-day humanitarian ceasefire. The Israeli cabinet is considering the U.S. proposal right now. Kerry is still in Cairo I guess waiting for the results of the security cabinet meeting.

We should know what the Israelis decide. We'll find out soon enough, what Hamas decides. This is a critical moment in the effort to bring peace to at least this part of Gaza right now.


BLITZER (voice-over): For those on the ground, a ceasefire agreement can't come soon enough. Gun fire in the West Bank overnight, a massive protest of thousands of Palestinians near a checkpoint between Jerusalem and Ramallah, resulting in clashes with Israeli forces. Hundreds wounded and one Palestinian man shot dead.

The anger stemming from this, a United Nations school in Gaza bombed, 16 killed, more than 200 wounded, including women and children from families who came to the school because it was being used as a shelter.

Both sides of the conflict casting blame, with Hamas accusing Israel, and Israel saying the destruction could have been caused by a Hamas missile that fell short.

Outrage over the attack kicked cease fire talks into high gear overnight and Secretary of State John Kerry working around the clock in Cairo presenting a deal. The two stage plan would first call for a week-long truce to stop the fighting and then focus on broader issues.

Meanwhile, U.S. flights to and from Israel's Ben Gurion Airport, resuming despite lingering anger over the FAA's ban including this statement.

YAIR LAPID, ISRAELI MINISTER OF FINANCE: Listen, LAX is 10 times more dangerous than the Israeli Ben Gurion airport.

BLITZER (on camera): How can you say that?

LAPID: Because the traffic there is so big comparing to us. BLITZER (voice-over): Hours after the ban was lifted, CNN captured

this -- a rocket attack from Gaza.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: That was right over the airport.

BLITZER: Senator Ted Cruz attacked the White House, alleging the ban was an economic boycott on Israel.

SEN. TED CRUZ (R), TEXAS: Right now, the facts we know suggest this was a decision by the State Department and perhaps political operatives at the White House.


BLITZER: And the State Department and the White House totally, flatly denied that accusation by Senator Cruz. They say it's ridiculous. They said this decision by the FAA both to ban and then restart flights to Israel was made by professionals at the FAA simply designed to protect U.S. passengers.

A lot more on that coming up.

Alisyn, we are waiting for the Israeli cabinet to reach a decision. As soon as they do we will let you and all of our viewers know.

CAMEROTA: Please do, Wolf. And incredible to see the intercept right over the airport ot see with our own yes.

Thanks for the update. We'll check back in with you.

Meanwhile, more remains of the MH17 victims are on their way back from the Netherlands today and another flight with 30 to 40 more victims is slated for tomorrow. This as officials still try to secure that crash site, Dutch and Australian police are on their way to help, we understand.

Phil Black joins us.

Phil, what's the latest?

PHIL BLACK, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, Alisyn, on the ground of the crash site today, we still only have a very small international contingent led by European observers, there are Australian and Dutch experts patrolling, examining that site. It is very small, inadequate to the task at hand.

But both of those countries, Australia and the Netherlands, are looking to ramp up the presence dramatically in the coming days. Both are talking about bringing in dozens, big groups of police to secure the site along with experts to begin examining that site more closely and, of course, to conduct what hasn't happened so far -- that is a thorough search through that very broad crash site to ensure that all human remains, all bodies are recovered and can be returned to their families and loved ones around the world.

Now, if this happens, it would be quite extraordinary. And as a key point here, both Australia and the Netherlands are not ruling out the possibility that these police officers could be armed. So, what they are talking about doing is sending in international police officers into what is effectively a war zone, a civil war zone and into territory that is still very much controlled by pro-Russian separatists -- Alisyn.

CAMEROTA: Phil Black, thank you so much for that update.

Meanwhile, on another topic, President Obama is said to be considering a program that would allow Central American children to come to the U.S. as refugees. Tens of thousands of children, as you know, have been coming here through Mexico. Well, today, the president will meet with leaders of Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador to address this border crisis.

CNN's Michelle Kosinski is live at the White House for us.

What's happening there, Michelle?


Right. So, today is that meeting with three Central American presidents to try to get them to do more within their own countries with the help of the U.S. to stop people from coming to the border, especially these unaccompanied children.

And the White House is considering this idea that would offer at least some of these kids refugee status or emergency humanitarian entry. But all of the application and processing of this would go on in their countries. And this is something that has been tried and done before in other places where there has been trouble, for example, Haiti. But in this case, it raises questions.

First of all, would any of the kids qualify for the very specific legal status of refugee? And would something like this only encourage more people to come to the border?

So, there is a recent polling that shows a majority of Americans view the children as refugees although the majority also sports tougher border security and sending them home quickly if they don't qualify for asylum -- Chris.

CUOMO: Michelle, we are confused and we need leadership and it is in short supply, and let's see what happens next. Thank you for the reporting.

Let's bring in Congressman Henry Cuellar. He's a Democrat from Texas, has criticized the president in the past for his response to the border crisis. What does he think now?

Congressman, thank you for joining us.

Let's deal with the news. What do you think of the idea of affording some of these kids refugee status, but originating that process in the home country? Good solution? REP. HENRY CUELLAR (D), TEXAS: Well, first of all, we've got to make

sure that we now come up with creative ideas to work out a compromise. We can't continue saying no. And I'm glad we are looking at ideas.

There are some legal questions whether, you know, those kids will qualify. I think I know what the president is trying to do, trying to say -- if there is any process, it would be in those countries instead of the U.S., but again, we don't know what will be the repercussions. What I do know is we can't let emotions cloud a loophole in the 2008 law that we need to repair and fix very carefully.

CUOMO: Too late -- too late not to let emotions get involved, Congressman, because you have a majority of Americans looking at kids on the border like a bunch of dogs in terms of how they should be treated. You know some of the conditions are good and some of them are almost in violation of international law and we're not doing enough to fix it. Why?

CUELLAR: Well, certainly, if you look at what is happening to border patrol. Border patrol, they are trying to do the best they can. They have certain stations able to handle a certain amount.

But when you have an influx. And keep in mind, about 42,000 out of the 58,000 people that crossed that came in through the 200-mile area called the Lower Rio Grande Valley, then you're going to have some situations like this. And this is one of the reasons I brought this up a couple of months ago because I was just very surprised at the conditions where they would just pack a lot of kids in very, very difficult situations.

They are trying to make it better but it's been very difficult under the circumstances, without a doubt.

CUOMO: You think the conditions are now satisfactory?

CUELLAR: Well, you know, again, they have to follow a rule or court decision called the Flores decision of 1997, where they have to take care of them. Are they getting better? Well, they have to move them to Health and Human Services that does a better job.

But, again, under the circumstances, it's difficult. I have been there several times. It's difficult but, again, we've got to have more area -- more humane area to hold these individuals while we start the process in front of a judge whether they stay or don't go. But the judge is going to make that -- immigration judge will make that decision.

CUOMO: So, you've taken a lot of initiative in this area. You've gone to Central America. You've met with different host countries. You've talked about the situation. You've come back and reported. The need is obvious and profound and desperate.

The problem is that can also be said about many areas of your country, the United States, and people don't want to help the other countries. If that's not part of the solution, foreign aid, can you secure the border? CUELLAR: Well, you know, certainly the American public wants an

orderly border. Right now they see chaos because you see a lot of people coming in. Last month, out of 48,000 people total that came in through Texas, 39,000 came in through that strip called Lower Rio Grande, about 200 miles.

So, they want to see an orderly border. This is what the American public, and this is why we have to make sure we work with the countries. Yesterday, I was with the president of Honduras on a one to one, talking about how to help them, but at the same time they have to take responsibility to do this.

For example, in Guatemala, they don't have a law that makes smuggling a crime. In fact, when I was there a couple of weekends, they were talking about two days later introducing a piece of legislation to make smuggling illegal.

CUOMO: Do you believe any meaningful part of the solution is going to be found in the host country? Or do you believe the United States is going to have to do this for themselves?

CUELLAR: Well, again, if we continue playing defense on the one yard line called the U.S./Mexico border where I live and my family lives and we work there, we see the results right now. We continue to do that.

We have to work with those folks. We -- and this is what I told the president of Honduras yesterday in Guatemala, when I met with him a couple of weeks ago. We have to share responsibility, but we're going to work with you, but you have to take responsibility of your country.

CUOMO: That defense on the one-yard line, that is a strong metaphor. Strong. I haven't heard that before and I think it paints a very good picture.

Last thing, Representative, I know you've been working on this very hard. It is assumed that your brothers and sisters will go on vacation for their month-long sabbatical without fixing the situation. Deliver a message to them for us here at CNN. If they go on vacation without fixing the situation and coming up with a compromise, prepare to see cameras on your vacation. Will you deliver that message for me?

CUELLAR: You know, you are absolutely right. It will be a horrible symbol for us to go home, while we go back to our districts and we leave this crisis, this humanitarian crisis, without being resolved. You know, there is a proposal. I want people to get constructive and let's listen to different ideas and then let's work out a compromise.

But to go back, I can tell you that people when they start having town hall meetings and talking to folks, cameras are going to follow the members of Congress and say, what happened. And, again, it would be horrible situation to say there is a humanitarian crisis and then we all go back to our districts.

CUOMO: Let them know, they may think they are leaving the situation. It will not leave them. This needs --

CUELLAR: It will follow -- you're right. It will follow them.

CUOMO: All right. Representative Henry Cuellar, thank you very much for giving us your perspective. We'll see you again.

CUELLAR: Thank you so much.

CUOMO: Mick?

PEREIRA: All right. Let's take a look at your headlines at 13 minutes past the hour.

ISIS fighters have targeted a revered holy site in Iraq. Militants, militants detonated explosives around Jonas tomb in Mosul. That according to civil defense officials there in Iraq. The shrine is thought to be the burial place for the Prophet Jonah. ISIS is waging war against the government that controls several cities in Iraq, including Mosul.

The director of Ohio State University's famed marching band has been fired. An investigation found that Jonathan Waters ignored a, quote, "sexualized atmosphere." The sanction report found students were pressured to march in their underwear and take part in sexually themed stunts. Waters led the band since 2012 and was known for his intricate half time shows.

Really special story to share with you. Thousands of strangers are making today a very special birthday, a sixth birthday for a Massachusetts boy that's battling cancer. This is Daniel Nickerson. He has an inoperable brain tumor and he has said that all he wants for his birthday are cards.

Look at this. People have delivered. His daddy's warriors Facebook page says he received 8,500 cards, some 900 packages Wednesday alone. His parents also say they have a few surprises up their sleeves for him this weekend. They want to make it a very special and unforgettable weekend for a little boy who wanted a very simple thing and people have really responded.

CAMEROTA: So nice. The kindness of strangers is alive and well.

PEREIRA: Beautiful thing.

CAMEROTA: So nice.

CUOMO: What a beautiful boy, what a beautiful boy. Thanks for sharing that.

PEREIRA: Absolutely.

All right. We're going to take a break here on NEW DAY. When we come back, another day, another deadly airline crash. Three in a week -- unrelated but why? Is our travel in general getting dangerous? We're going to tell you what you can do to help keep yourself safe. CAMEROTA: Plus, a gunman opens fire at a Pennsylvania hospital.

Tragedy unfolding but it could have been much worse, authorities say. We will tell you why a doctor is being called a hero for firing back.


CAMEROTA: Crews have found the Air Algerie plane that crashed in Mali yesterday. This was the third plane crash this week, following the Malaysia Airlines crash and one in Taiwan. Is this the start of some sort of dangerous trend?

Joining us from Washington is CNN aviation analyst Miles O'Brien.

Miles, great to see you.


CAMEROTA: What stands out to you from this deadly week?

O'BRIEN: Well, if you had to put it all together into a big picture and try to connect the dots, you could make statements about the growth of aviation generally in the globe, and some concerns that all of us in aviation have about the level of training that goes into all of those new crews flying all those airplanes.

What we seem to see in the Algerie case -- Air Algerie case -- is a crew that flew into some of the worst weather in the world, the worst thunderstorms in the world and either tried to divert or didn't divert or for whatever reason ended up in a very powerful thunder cell.

Now, that's kind of similar to what we saw in Taiwan a few days prior when a plane tried to land in some very adverse conditions after typhoon. So, you have to ask yourself some questions about how well these crews are trained, their decision-making, what the companies and pressure put on them --


O'BRIEN: -- to, you know, get there on time.

CAMEROTA: See, Miles, I'm a very nervous flyer so it makes me very uncomfortable when I think you can't fly at 30,000 feet through a thunderstorm, because we've always been told at 30,000 feet, what can go wrong? You can still correct a loss of altitude. But is that not true?

O'BRIEN: That is not true. The basic truth of the matter is, it doesn't matter how big the airplane is, you don't want to fly through a thunderstorm. You want to fly around thunderstorms. And the bigger the thunderstorm, the harder that can be and the bigger the thunderstorm the wider berth you should give it.

You know, planes, even big ones, are susceptible to violent turbulence and can cause structural damage, not to mention the injuries to people inside. Thunderstorms create huge hail storms sometimes which can be ingested into the engine, causing them to flame out. Even heavy rain can cause engines to flame out, on and on it goes. Icing conditions. So, there are a lot of reasons you don't want to go into a thunderstorm.

And these thunderstorms near the equator in this tropical convergence zone as it is called tower up to 49,000 feet. So, you're not going to -- so you can't go over the top of them. You really have to go around them.

CAMEROTA: Well, you're not making me feel better. You are giving me a lot of good information, but that is nerve-wracking stuff. So, is this tropical convergence zone always a danger zone for airlines?

O'BRIEN: Yes. It's a dangerous place. 2009, Air France 447. You will recall that one. It was -- flew into horrible thunderstorms in the tropical convergence zone, caused a terrible icing situation which unleashed a chain of events which led to that crash.

So, you know, I just hate to see an accident like this one which seems to be a repeat of a previous accident. In aviation, we say the rules are written in blood or there's a tombstone mentality. It's a bit of pejorative, of course. In other words, people have to die before it improves.

But the assumption is that it improves. So, when you see the same accident happen again, it gets worrisome.

CAMEROTA: Yes. So, do you think that crash in particular will somehow fundamentally change airlines' modes of operations?

O'BRIEN: I would like to think so, but it's a very competitive and very difficult business and there is always pressure on the bottom line in the airline industry. And it is absolutely axiomatic that the more you spend, the safe you are, the less you spend, the less safe you are. That's just the way it goes.

So, when you are running a business, you are constantly making a calculation on safety versus cost. And sometimes, the layers of safety dwindle under pressure.

CAMEROTA: What about MH17? Will airline routes be changed as a result of this one?

O'BRIEN: I sure hope so. I sure hope that every airline, and we see some evidence of this. We saw what -- it was the airlines after all that precipitated the short term ban by the FAA flying into Tel Aviv. That's a good sign. The airlines are paying a little more attention to this and that's good. They should be.

I hope that the airlines take initiative on their own. I hope that we can get some sort of global regulatory body to look at aviation in a more coherent way and make decisions about this like you have with Interpol, for example, to share information about these kinds of hot spots so airlines can make informed decisions quickly.

CAMEROTA: Yes, we've heard a lot about the importance of information sharing this week. Miles O'Brien, thanks so much for all of the expertise. Great to see


O'BRIEN: You're welcome.

CAMEROTA: Let's go back to Chris.

CUOMO: All right. Let's take a little break here on NEW DAY. When we come back, a man accused of murdering an unarmed teenage woman on his porch says it was an accident and it was self defense. It is a blockbuster new trial. We have new information for you and analysis.

Plus, a psychiatrist called a hero this morning for stopping a gunman's deadly rampage. How he did it? A story of bravery coming up.


PEREIRA: All right. Here is your Friday edition of "5 Things You Need to Know" for your NEW DAY.

At number one, in the Mideast, Secretary of State John Kerry is pressing both sides to a cease-fire. This after 16 people were killed in a deadly shelling of a U.N. shelter in Gaza.

Dutch and Australian police are on their way to the scene in Ukraine to help secure the MH-17 crash site. Coffins burying victims of MH17 crash are expected to arrive back in the Netherlands today.

A revered holy site in Iraq targeted by ISIS fighters. Militants detonated explosives around Jonah's Tomb in Mosul. ISIS controls several cities now in Iraq, including Mosul.

President Obama will meet with leaders of Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador today at the White House. They will discuss working together to stem the flow of children crossing alone into the U.S.

A Philadelphia area doctor being hailed a hero for stopping a shooting rampage at his hospital. He's seriously wounded a gunman who entered the facility and shot and killed a case worker.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: (AUDIO GAP) and ducking for cover.

PEREIRA (voice-over): An unexpected day at work for a hero doctor as a psychiatric patient opens fire in a Pennsylvania hospital.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Cops coming from every and each and everywhere, and I was scared, too.

PEREIRA: According to police, the suspect Richard Plotts was visiting his psychiatrist, Dr. Lee Silverman, with his case worker when an argument reportedly broke out in the doctor's office. Shortly after, gunfire erupted.