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@THISHOUR WITH BERMAN AND MICHAELA

Search Fails to Relocate Pings; Kerry Says Russia Fomenting Unrest in Ukraine as Pretext; Pistorius Trial Adjourns Early; UConn Huskies Win Fourth NCAA Title; Dramatic Day in Pistorius Trial

Aired April 8, 2014 - 11:00   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


JOHN BERMAN, CNN CO-ANCHOR: The search area shrinks. The urgency grows. Crews desperate to find Flight 370 hear nothing, no new pings that might lead them to the plane.

MICHAELA PEREIRA, CNN CO-ANCHOR: The memories prove too much. Oscar Pistorius overcome and breaks down on the stand as he tells the court about the night he shot and killed his girlfriend.

BERMAN: And President Obama, this hour, signs two executive orders aimed at shrinking the pay gap between men and women.

The president's actions coming on Equal Pay Day, but is this really about pay or politics or both?

Hello, everyone. Great to see you. I'm John Berman.

PEREIRA: And I'm Michaela Pereira.

We're not going to talk about that, about how much each of us makes, are we? That could be a (inaudible).

It is 11:00 a.m. in the East, and 8:00 a.m. out West. Those stories and so much more, right now, @ THIS HOUR.

To the search for Flight 370, search crews, once again, coming up empty, they failed to relocate the pinging sounds that they had detected that they had hoped would lead them to Flight 370's black boxes deep in the Indian Ocean.

Now this, certainly seen as a setback as the search enters a second month.

BERMAN: Right now the search zone is drastically scaled back, reduced to about 30,000 square miles. One expert says instead of looking at an area the size of Texas, crews are now searching an area about the size of Houston. Still, it's daunting.

Fourteen ships, fourteen aircraft were involved in today's search, and really, they are on borrowed time with the 30-day batteries on the plane's flight recorder either dead or dying.

Australia's defense minister says, at this point, they are holding nothing back. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DAVID JOHNSTON, AUSTRALIAN DEFENSE MINISTER: You can be assured that we are throwing everything at this difficult complex task in these -- at least these next several days whilst we believe the two pingers involved are still active.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

PEREIRA: The belief that the pingers are still active is based on the possibility that the batteries could last a few days longer than their 30-day expiration date if they were at full-strength to begin with.

BERMAN: Yeah, they're past that date now. That's the key here. Remember, time after time in this 32 day search at this point, hopes have been raised only to be dashed.

We're joined now by Will Ripley, live from Perth in Australia. The Australian ship, the Ocean Shield, desperately trying to get a fix on those signals it picked up over the weekend. What's the latest?

WILL RIPLEY, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, you know, we are just one hour away here in Perth from entering Day 33 of this search, and it has now been more than two days since the team members on the Ocean Shield have heard any trace of those signals that they detected twice over the weekend, once for two hours, once for about 15 minutes.

They need to find these signals if the black boxes are still pinging, and here is why. The way that the tow pinger locater works, they have to basically sweep around the area, and each time they get a lock on the signal, it gets them closer to being able to figure out exactly where these devices and where possible debris might be.

Right now, even after hearing the signals twice, it's still a massive area, 30,000 square miles, where all of this might be, so they think they're on the right track, but they need to continue this work to try to find these black boxes.

And if for some reason they can't find them, it's going to make this search effort much more complicated and much more time consuming.

PEREIRA: So, to that end, Will, what do they do? What -- I know that from time to time they reassess, they reexamine the data, they reassess the search area, they redefine it.

Have they made a contingency plan if they don't find the -- they don't relocate these pings?

RIPLEY: Yeah, there is a plan. There is other technology onboard, specifically that Bluefin-21, the underwater submersible which actually goes down and scans the ocean floor.

But they're not ready to deploy that technology anytime so on. They're going to keep listening as long as they can possibly can, because one day's work for the tow pinger locater, the area that that can cover, it would take a full week for that underwater submersible. And, just deploying the submersible, it takes two hours to get down, three miles down, then 16 hours at the bottom, and then another two hours up, so you're talking about a significant amount of time for just a fraction of the result, which is why they're going to keep listening, at least for now.

PEREIRA: Yeah, using that technology, at this point, when they don't know where the location, would be even more than a needle in a haystack.

(CROSSTALK)

PEREIRA: All right, let's turn to Ukraine now.

Thanks so much, Will. We appreciate that.

To Ukraine where, @ THIS HOUR, things are certainly heating up. Russia's foreign ministry is warning that any use of force in eastern Ukraine could lead to civil war.

BERMAN: And just moments ago, Secretary of State John Kerry weighed in on this escalating crisis. He said Russian forces and special agents are the ones stirring up trouble in eastern Ukraine.

Take a listen to this.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JOHN KERRY, SECRETARY OF STATE: No one should be fooled and believe me no one is fooled by what could potentially be a contrived pretext for military intervention just as we saw in Crimea.

It is clear that Russian special forces and agents have been the catalysts behind the chaos in the last 24 hours. Some have even been arrested and exposed.

And equally as clear must be the reality that the United States and our allies will not hesitate to use 21st century tools to hold Russia accountable for 19th century behavior.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BERMAN: Pretty harsh words from the secretary of state, "contrived chaos."

We're joined now by our senior international correspondent Nick Paton Walsh, live in Donetsk in eastern Ukraine, and, Nick, first of all, talk to me about the chaos. What are you seeing on the ground there right now?

NICK PATON WALSH, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: It's remarkable. I'm standing in Donetsk here where life seems to be going around pretty much as normal, apart from a pocket of chaos about 200 meters away from where I'm standing, the local administration building taken over now for three days by pro-Russian activists. They've built barricades out of tires, barbed wire, anything they can lay their hands on. They've got Molotov cocktails, iron rods. They're pretty angry in many ways. It's also fair to say they're pretty disorganized, as well. They don't seem to have a leader.

They seem to want a referendum to bring this country -- sorry, this part of Ukraine into Russia at this point, and it did seem late last night they were very worried that Ukrainian special forces might move into clear them out as they have done in other cities in the east where such activity has happened.

That didn't occur. They are digging in. But I spoke to the local governor here who's been appointed by Kiev, the pro-Ukrainian, obviously, government there in the sense of the country there, and he thought negotiations could perhaps see some sort of way out of this.

He didn't want to use force, but importantly, too, he tried to suggest that, despite what Secretary Kerry is saying, Russia isn't really spearheading this. This is about local economic gripes. People are upset at the lack of jobs for themselves here. That's perhaps his way of trying to take the geopolitical heat out of this, but still tense moments ahead here.

John?

BERMAN: All right, and U.S. warships, by the way, headed to the Black Sea right now as a show of force.

Our Nick Paton Walsh, live in Donetsk in eastern Ukraine, thanks so much, Nick.

PEREIRA: Now to other stories making news @ THIS HOUR.

Court has adjourned early in South Africa after Oscar Pistorius' emotions got the better of him. Pistorius was on the stand describing in detail the night that he shot and killed his girlfriend, Reeva Steenkamp, at his home. The memories broke him down.

Now, as stipulated by the judge's broadcast rules, you are not going to see Pistorius on camera. You're just going to hear his voice. Take a listen.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We'll take adjournment. Court will be adjourned.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

PEREIRA: And, with that, adjourning for the day, really a dramatic day in court, we'll have a live report for you coming up from Pretoria, South Africa, ahead.

We're also going to take you live to the White House @ THIS HOUR as President Obama takes action on equal pay for women, the president set to sign two executive orders, one forbidding federal contractors from retaliating against employees who discuss their compensation. The other will force federal contractors to give the Labor Department data about their employees' pay, including their race and gender. Both of these laws are aimed at encouraging pay transparency.

BERMAN: And the madness is over, except in one place. They're celebrating --

PEREIRA: Just beginning.

BERMAN: -- at the University of Connecticut today. Look at this.

They haven't learned all their lessons in college, some pretty stupid celebrations there, tearing down some stop signs and the like.

Nevertheless, it was for an OK reason. The U-Conn Huskies taking home their fourth NCAA basketball championship with a win over Kentucky last night.

U-Conn was a seven-seed, and they made something of an unlikely run to the championship. They knocked off Florida. They beat Kentucky, you know. And, you know, they were just good.

Unfortunately, after the win, as you saw before, some of the people there got a little bit rowdy, tearing stuff down. Police made several arrests. I expect a much classier display --

PEREIRA: Yes!

BERMAN: -- when the Lady Huskies, who are, in many ways, way more impressive or equally impressive, at least --

PEREIRA: Who do they face off?

BERMAN: They face off Notre Dame in the title game.

And I noticed, Michaela Pereira --

PEREIRA: Talk to me.

BERMAN: You are the second-most-famous basketball player to come out of Canada other than Steve Nash.

You noticed --

PEREIRA: In my own mind.

BERMAN: You noticed something key in last night's game.

PEREIRA: Yeah, free throws, 10 for 10.

My coach used to make a big deal about our free throws, and U-Conn held it down, 10 for 10 at the free-throw line.

BERMAN: In Canada, they take free throws very, very seriously.

PEREIRA: I was a defensive player, too, so enough about my high school football or basketball prowess.

Ahead @ THIS HOUR, let's talk about the search. It is getting smaller, the search area, but we know that it's still pretty huge.

We'll talk about what's next in the search for missing Flight 370.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BERMAN: Australia's defense minister says teams are going full speed ahead at this point as the search for missing Flight 370. Today, crews did not hear any more pings.

PEREIRA: But now they're focusing their search area to a much smaller area. It's about a third of the size that it was yesterday.

Want to bring in our experts, Mary Schiavo, CNN aviation analyst and former inspector general for the U.S. Department of Transportation.

BERMAN: And joining us here is Jeff Wise, CNN aviation analyst and pilot.

Mary, let me start with you. Over the weekend, they heard pings. The towed pinger locator detected pings not once, but twice. Today they go back. They hear nothing. That means what?

MARY SCHIAVO, CNN AVIATION ANALYST: Well, could mean one of two things. It could mean that the batteries that we've talked about, the battery life so much, that that battery life finally expired and the batteries did fade.

That is an amazing coincidence that they found it for two days and the next day the batteries went.

Or it could be that they were slightly on the edge of the search area and they aren't on top of it anymore, or it wasn't really the pingers.

I choose to believe the latter. I think the battery died, and so they at least have the area narrowed down to maybe 36,000 square miles.

PEREIRA: I'm curious about what you think, Jeff. Because we know that the -- the location, the search area is refined. It's smaller, but it's still gigantic -- what, 30,000 square mile stretch of the Indian Ocean. I mean ,this is a gigantic area that they're still looking for. Are you as cautiously optimistic as Mary?

JEFF WISE, CNN AVIATION ANALYST: I think I'm less optimistic. I think there's a lot of reasons to believe that this is a false positive and it didn't really correlate to the pinger from the aircraft. It would have been an incredible stroke of luck if it were to be the pinger from the aircraft. But, you know, we've got to hope.

It's interesting to me the extent to which the Australian authorities are really going all in on this and treating it as if it is the pinger. They're reallocating resources to hone in on this particular spot. BERMAN: Mary, if they don't ever detect any pings again, what next? Do you stay confident that this is the area that those pings where, in fact, true pings from the black boxes? And then how do you deal with the search?

SCHIAVO: Well, you have to deal with it exactly what the Australians are doing. And they're doing the right thing. Whether this were -- you know, this is all they have right now. So if they never hear the pings again, they literally have to throw everything at it, which is what they're doing. Because this is the last -- kind of the last best hope.

So they he have to make certain they have exhausted all possible avenues for the sake of aviation safety and security, but also for the sake of the families. So if there is anyway to find anything in the area where they heard this acoustic event, that's what they have to do, and fortunately that's what they're doing.

PEREIRA: In a nugget, explain what you mean by the false positives, Jeff. What kind of things are you looking at with the false positive?

WISE: Well, basically if you detect this signal, is it really coming from the plane or is it -- you're hearing something else? And one of the interests things that came out in the press conference yesterday was that the authorities said that some of these events in the past, where they thought it was the pinger, actually they were hearing sounds from the ship itself.

PEREIRA: From the ship itself. And that is a real -- that's a concern.

BERMAN: You would hope on the Ocean Shield that they knew what they were doing, though, and they weren't doing that.

PEREIRA: All right, Jeff Wise and Mary Schiavo, thanks so much. Stick around with us. We'll ask you some more questions from our viewers up ahead.

BERMAN: All right, ahead for us @ THIS HOUR, Oscar Pistorius sobbing uncontrollably. This guy just breaks down as he recounts the night that he shot and killed his girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp. You know, his emotions got so intense, the judge stopped the trial.

Big question, is that really fair? We're gonna take you live to South Africa next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

PEREIRA: Dramatic day in a South Africa courthouse. Oscar Pistorius telling the court in South Africa and the world about the night that he killed his girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp. His testimony, in his own defense, so emotional, so intense, that he couldn't carry on.

BERMAN: Yeah, the judge ended up adjourning early for the day. We want to play you some of the testimony. Just a reminder, you will not see Oscar Pistorius. You will hear him. He told the court he thought he heard an intruder in his bathroom. Listen.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

VOICE OF OSCAR PISTORIUS, ON TRIAL FOR FATALLY SHOOTING GIRLFRIEND: Before I knew it, I had fired four shots at the door. My ears were ringing. I couldn't hear anything. So I shouted -- I kept on shouting for Reeva to phone the police. I was scared to retreat because I wasn't sure if there was somebody on the ladder (ph). I wasn't sure if there was somebody in the toilet.

I was -- I was just panicked at this point. I didn't know what to make or what to do. I ran back to the bedroom where the cricket bat was between the cabinet and the door.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Were you screaming at that stage?

PISTORIUS: I was screaming and shouting the whole time and crying out. I was -- I don't think -- I don't think I've ever screamed like that or cried like that or screamed or -- I was crying out for the lord to help me. I was crying out for Reeva. I was screaming.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BERMAN: All right, and after this, he just broke down, sobbed uncontrollably.

Let's go to CNN legal analyst Kelly Phelps. She's outside the courthouse in South Africa.

And Kelly, the judge adjourned for the day because the defendant on the witness stand was too emotional. I have to tell you, in a U.S. courtroom, that is not the type of thing we would be likely to see. In South Africa with no jury where it's really all about the judge, is this uncommon?

KELLY PHELPS, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: No, it's not uncommon here. And it's the same treatment she would have afforded to any other witness on the stand who was struggling so badly with their emotions that they were essentially breaking down.

If you consider all of the emphasis that is placed on the judge alone when you don't have a jury, all she has to base her eventual decision off is the evidence that has been entered as a matter of record through testimony.

And if a witness is so broken down that they are no longer able to give a coherent account of their evidence, in a sense she has no choice but to give an adjournment until they can regain their composure and give the clear version of events that is required for her to then consider when making her determination.

PEREIRA: And she has to put aside the emotion. And why don't we do that for a second, too? And give us an idea how Pistorius is defending his actions that night.

PHELPS: Well, this is the first time we've heard a full version of his version of events. We've heard a broad outline of it in his affidavits prior to that.

But in an essential way, it's in keeping. So he's given us background with his earlier testimony about how he has always been so fearful of crime and the fact that he was raised to look after himself by his mother and fend for himself, defend himself when he was attacked.

And essentially, he's saying that because of all of the previous times he had been a victim of crime, and he had mentioned a number of those times, that when he heard that sound, that unexpected sound, emanating from the bathroom of the window being opened, the first thing that came into his mind was that he and his girlfriend were it in mortal danger. And he then essentially clicked into a fight or flight mode and took the measures that he needed to take in order to protect both of them.

And that is where we see the essence of his defense, which is all about his state of mind. His defense is that he mistakenly believed he needed to act in self-defense when in fact in reality he didn't.

BERMAN: All right, Kelly Phelps. And again, we have to remember Oscar Pistorius back on the stand tomorrow for the defense, you know, his version of events. But the prosecution will get their chance.

PEREIRA: Sure.

BERMAN: And I think they will have much different treatment of him on the stand, safe to say.

PEREIRA: Ahead @ THIS HOUR, it's hard to hear pings when you have an ocean full of sound. We're gonna talk about what may be drowning out the flight data recorder pings coming up.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)