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Refugees Flow Across Hungarian-Austrian Border; Kerry Calls Russia Over U.S. Concerns; Bathroom Access for Teen Divides Town. Aired 7:30-8a ET

Aired September 6, 2015 - 07:30   ET


IAN LEE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: But it really isn't went you break it down, that much money going to an individual refugee.

[07:30:01] About $14 a month, that's less than 50 cents a day is enough to sustain these refugees. And World Food Programme is saying they're just flat out of cash and desperate. They're appealing to the international community for help.

VICTOR BLACKWELL, CNN ANCHOR: Ian, we've heard this chorus of calls from countries beyond Germany to take in more of the migrants, more of the refugees. But what about the Gulf nations and their decision thus far not to take in many or in some cases to take in no migrants and refugees?

LEE: That's right, Victor. If you look at the wealthy Gulf countries, Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates, Qatar, Kuwait, they have taken in not even one. They've closed their doors to the refugees. There has been a lot of strong condemnation coming from Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch, but just monitoring social media here in egypt that's going around the region. People are disgusted with the fact that they haven't taken any refugees in.

And these are countries that have by and large in some ways meddled into civil war that is taking place in Syria, to some extent backing various rebel fractions. So, there has been a lot of outrage that these countries have been taken, especially when they have military budgets in the hundreds of billions of dollars combined.

And so, they're asking for some of that money to go to these refugees. Now, that's not to say they haven't given money. They have given hundreds of millions of dollars to refugees to help them. But there is a strong demand that they open their doors and allow a lot of these people in. And we'll see where those conversations go with the millions as we put up that map showing that it displaced peoples of that region.

Ian Lee in Cairo for us -- thank you, Ian.

CHRISTI PAUL, CNN ANCHOR: Let's talk more about what's happening with these 11,000 migrants and refugees that have crossed into Austria in the last 24 hours. Senior international correspondent Fred Pleitgen is there in Vienna. Fred, help us understand what the situation is like there right now.

FREDERIK PLEITGEN, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (via telephone): Well, it really is the case that many, many more of these refugees are coming in here to the Vienna train station. This is really one of the focal points of this refugee crisis, because what happens here is that all of the migrants, all of the refugee who come into Austria, they get collected here. Some of them come by train from a town called Nickelsdorf which is right on the border between Austria and Hungary.

And some of them come by bus either from that location or one of the other border crossings between Austria and Hungary. We've seen hundreds of refugees actually come here to this train station. The situation here is very organized. They get processed really quickly. And what feels really good here is there are actually a lot of translators for Farsi or Arabic to make sure these people actually know what the next process is going to be, just having that translation really smoothes the whole process here over a lot. There's also a lot of volunteers here handing things out.

And many of these refugees will try to get on trains to go to places like Munich, Germany. Many of them want to go to Germany. A few I have spoken also want to stay in Austria. But it is really -- you can see how this railway station is running well over its capacity with so many people coming in.

PAUL: OK. You mentioned that some of them may stay in Austria. Do we know where they're going once they stay in Austria?

PLEITGEN: Well, that's a very important question. Yes, we know some of it. What happens is when these people arrive from Hungary, they have the choice of either getting directly on a train to Germany to apply for asylum there. Or they can go to the Austrian authorities, go to any public officer, and say I wanted to apply for asylum in Austria. Now, they do this right at the border with Hungary, then they usually brought to a refugee center there, which is called Nova Rock, which is actually a place where they have a music festival, but also has obviously a lot of festivities that can take in people. People would then be bussed there, they would be registered there and then brought to other asylum shelters here in Austria.

Now, the other choice they have is first going here to Vienna and then applying for asylum here and they would be brought to a shelter in Vienna to be processed and taken onto other shelters in Austria. There is a variety of things they can do. Most of them are saying they want to move onto Germany. The vast majority of them are going on those trains and I'm looking at the platform right now where the trains are, the special trains that the Austrian railway company has put into place to actually transport people to Germany. It gets very, very full very quickly. There's a lot of trains running but very difficult to meet demand, Christi.

[07:35:00] PAUL: Yes, because we know Germany's a robust economy and strong democracy along history of taking refugees is definitely a place they've got their eyes set on. Fred Pleitgen, we appreciate it. Thank you, sir.

BLACKWELL: This morning, we're learning that Russia may be building up its military presence in Syria and the U.S. is concerned. We're going to have the details of a call that Secretary of State John Kerry made to his Russian counterpart about some alarming new evidence.


BLACKWELL: Thirty-eight minutes after the hour now.

We've discussed a lot, the fight from ISIS and the bloody civil war that's going on in Syria. But those are not the only things the U.S. is concerned about now. There are reports of an eminent Russian military buildup in that embattled nation. And the U.S. fears these moves could escalate the already mounting death toll, as well the developing refugee crisis we've been telling you about all morning.

CNN's Sunlen Serfaty joins us now live with the latest on a phone call between U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry and the Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov about new intelligence.

What have they discussed, Sunlen?

SUNLEN SERFATY, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: That's right, Victor. Well, this call was in essence a warning from the U.S. to Russia, coming after those reports that Russia could potentially be ramping up its military presence in Syria, expanding their support of Syrian President Bashar al Assad even more than was previously known.

[07:40:02] The State Department saying in a statement about that call, quote, "The secretary made clear that if such reports were accurate, these actions could further escalate the conflict, lead to a greater loss of innocent life, increase refugees and risk confrontation with the anti-ISIL coalition operating in Syria."

Now, Secretary Kerry has been reaching out, trying to enlist the help of Russia for sometime, trying to reach a political solution in Syria. So, certainly, as that State Department statement says, it really underscores their concern that it could potentially complicate the coalition's fight against is. But also complicate the United States' efforts to get Assad to either to step down or begin a power-sharing agreement there.

Now, what comes next, Victor, while the two leaders are set to continue this discussion according to the State Department later this month, when they are both in New York for the U.N. General Assembly -- Victor.

BLACKWELL: So, Sunlen, what do we know about what would be the likely or expected role that Russia would play in Syria, who they would help, who they would fight?

SERFATY: Well, that is still unknown at this point, obviously underscored in that state department statement that they're really concerned about what sort of inroads Russia is trying to make in Syria. Of course, the big concern being that Russia could try to lay steps and try to stake out their own position if the Assad government fails.

Now, in this context, I do want to say that a State Department official tells CNN that as of now, they don't have confirmation of any buildup, but they do indeed see preparatory steps. But again, this is just a warning from the U.S. to Russia not to move any farther.

BLACKWELL: All right. Sunlen Serfaty for us this morning -- thanks, Sunlen.

PAUL: Lieutenant General Mark Hertling joining us now for his thoughts on this.

Lieutenant General, you know, we've had these conversations a lot during the turmoil between Russia and Ukraine. And the conclusion of most analysts was Russia wanted the territory in Ukraine. Do you think that may be part of their intent here in Syria?

LT. GEN. MARK HERTLING (RET), CNN MILITARY ANALYST: Well, they're certainly positioning themselves, Christi, to whatever happens next in Syria. But I think Sunlen summarized it very well. Secretary Kerry and the president are very concerned about Russia stepping in and doing something that would further Assad remaining in power. They have -- we have been looking for him to step down or at least gain a power-sharing agreement with his people. And that affects all sorts of things, the fight against ISIS, this refugee crisis that we've been talking about for the last several days.

But also if all indicators are that Russia is beginning to increase their support to the Assad regime, which would take him from increasingly being on the defensive to doing things more against his people, against the Free Syrian Army. So, that's problematic.

PAUL: So, if that is the case. What can -- what should the U.S. military do in response?

HERTLING: That's a tough question. What is going to be problematic, if Russia does bring in advisors, that's one thing. If they start taking the fight to Assad's enemy for him that's quite a different thing.

We're just talking -- let's give an example. The air space in northern Syria where both Turkey and the United States and rest of the coalition forces are conducting attacks against ISIS. If Russian jets are flying in this area, then you've got the potential for engagement between the East and the West. And that would be taking this to a whole new level.

Those are the concerns that secretary has, as well keeping Assad in power for a longer period of time. So, from a military perspective, we can continue the fight against ISIS. We continue to support the free Syrian regime. But getting involved in the civil war beyond that is very difficult for both countries.

PAUL: We know Kerry and Lavrov, as Sunlen was talking about, they're agreeing to continue this discussion. As we understand, it will be in New York City later this month. What do you think happens in the meantime? And do you have confidence

that there could be some diplomatic resolution here?

HERTLING: Well, I certainly hope so, as does everyone. But hope's not a method.

When you're talking about the dialogue between Kerry and Lavrov, that's one thing. But all indicators are that Mr. Putin is doing several other things. He's made comment as recently as yesterday that he's looking to assist the Assad regime. They are requesting overflight rights in several countries to get more military equipment into Damascus. They're repositioning forces in Latakia, as well as their naval base in Tartus, both cities in Syria where the Russians -- we have seen Russian activity.

So all of these things, you talk about what goes on on the diplomatic front versus what goes on in reality. And we have seen multiple times over the last several years that there is a disconnect between what the Russians say and what they're doing.

PAUL: All right. Lieutenant General Mark Hertling, always appreciate your insight, thank you, sir.

HERTLING: Thank you, Christi.

[07:45:00] BLACKWELL: All right. It's a controversial fight over a high school locker room. Students you see here walking in support of a transgender teen. But there is disagreement on which locker room this student should use. We'll explain.

Also still ahead on NEW DAY, Sarah Palin on her love and respect for Trump. Which position and which office she thinks she's best suited for in a Trump administration.


BLACKWELL: In Missouri, students are rallying on both sides of a decision involving a transgender student. Lila Perry, who was born a boy and identifies as a girl has been fighting to use the female locker room. Some argue that banning her from using the locker room is a form of discrimination. Others are not comfortable with female students sharing a bathroom with a transgender student.

Affiliate KMOV has the story dividing the small town of Hillsboro.


REPORTER: On Monday, students walked out of Hillsboro High School to show opposition to transgender student Lila Perry using the girl's locker room and girls' bathroom.

[07:50:03] PARENTS: Our father, who art in heaven --

REPORTER: Thursday, parents told the school board their daughters aren't comfortable in a bathroom with a student that had the body of a boy. Now friends, supporters of Lila want to show support for transgender parents. The huge rally in Hillsboro.

GIANNA WARFEL, FRIEND OF TRANSGENDER STUDENT: The main message is to educate people on what transexuality is, and it is to spread more positive end and bring down the hostility.

REPORTER: What are the rights of transgender students? The Hillsboro's three school district is one of the first but not the only district in Missouri, working on the answer.

KELLY HOPKINS, MISSOURI SCHOOL BOARDS ASSOC. (via telephone): Two years ago, there had never been I never got a call dealing on this issue. But this year, I received six or seven.

REPORTER: The districts working hard to follow the law and offered a private bathroom to Lily, but she said no.

LILA PERRY, TRANSGENDER HIGH SCHOOL STUDENT: I didn't want to feel segregated out. I didn't want to be in the gender neutral bathroom.

REPORTER: So the district is unable to resolve the controversy, because the federal government said the final decision is the students.

HOPKINS: But the district cannot require the student to use the private or gender neutral bathroom. That would result in discrimination based on sex.


BLACKWELL: All right. Our thanks to Russell Kinsaul for that report from KMOV.

PAUL: CNN legal analyst Danny Cevallos is joining us now.

So, Danny, what the rights of the transgender students such as in this case?

DANNY CEVALLOS, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: What a broad question, Christi.

The issue is whether or not -- now, when it comes to discrimination, discrimination for example based on race is very different constitutionally than discrimination based on sex, and discrimination based on gender, and there appears to be some divide as to whether those are one and the same thing or two separate and distinct kinds of discrimination. Gender being how somebody identifies and sex being their physical attributes.

And courts have disagreed. Courts have not been clear on this issue. And these cases -- this is not a lone case. There are many cases like this going on with the battleground being mostly school facilities, because that's where you have kids identifying at early ages and wanting to use the joint facilities.

But the issue there is, is that there are some degree of discrimination allowed against gender and the simplest example comes from Supreme Court justice who famously said there's something different on a "men only" sign on a restroom than there is "men only" sign a courthouse or a legislature.

So, historically, we've permitted some degree of discrimination in this area. But the real ultimately question boils down to, will courts decide or little state legislatures decide that sex discrimination and gender discrimination are one and the same thing and therefore transgender teens should be allowed to use school facilities however they personally identify.

PAUL: OK, but this is my question then. When you talk about students who feel they are uncomfortable as a female being in a locker room with somebody of -- who has the male anatomy, what are the rights for those students for their privacy rights?

CEVALLOS: We have not yet defined those rights. This is a very new area of the law. Missouri is one of 28 states or at least half the states in the country have no laws at all protecting LGBT people from discrimination. It's -- people misperceive that LGBT is a protected class. It is not. And that is why discrimination is still allowed against your gender identify in about half the states in the country.

This is a new area of the law. We have not considered this group to be a protected class, the way we consider race, religion, and some of the other classes to be historically protected class and historically discriminated person.

So, the answer to that question, it remains to be seen. We have yet to define the full scope of transgender teens' rights under the Constitution.

PAUL: All right. Danny Cevallos, thanks so much. We appreciate it.

And listen, I want you to join the conversation here, because I know this has a lot of people talking. Go to our Twitter page. Our Facebook page at Share your opinion. Victor and I are both on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram as well. We want to hear what you think.

We'll be right back.


[07:58:34] PAUL: Four days and counting to the start of the NFL season.

BLACKWELL: Patriots and Steelers kick off Thursday night. We've got Coy Wire here with the preview.

COY WIRE, CNN SPORTS: NFL is back. And for football fans, it's like Christmas, your birthday and your anniversary all wrapped up into one.

Today, Rachel Nichols and Dan Marino are breaking down some stories.


RACHEL NICHOLS, CNN SPORTS ANCHOR: Thanks. All right. Dan, it's been the conversation around the NFL for months

now, deflategate and now, of course, the federal judge has vacated Tom Brady's suspension. What do you think about this whole mess, where we are now?

DAN MARINO, CO-HOST: Well, it's hard to believe that we are back on the Super Bow and talking about the Super Bowl and they still haven't figured this whole thing out. You know, I just think there's a lot of drama. I'm excited about getting back to football.

And they should take care of this and handle it and let's get back to football.

NICHOLS: We are still under an appeal. It may never end.

MARINO: I hope not.


NICHOLS: All right. Tom Brady, of course, not the only big quarterback name out there. Peyton Manning is considered the most talented quarterback of his generation but he is 39 years old and there have been plenty of questions about whether this will be, or should be, his last season. I spoke to him earlier and I asked him about that.


PEYTON MANNING, NFL STAR QUARTERBACK: I certainly hoped to be playing next year as well. I still enjoy working out. I enjoy competing. I think as long as you can compete, you can help a team and you're healthy enough to help a team. I think everybody wants to keep doing it. If you can do it into your 40s, you know, all the better.


NICHOLS: You can see the full interview with Peyton Manning.