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New Day

Death Toll Rising In Kiev Protests; Deadly Protests In Bangkok; Crisis In Venezuela; White House Weighs Syria Options; Several Hurt After Jet Hits Turbulence; Eight Olympic Medal Events Today; Brutal Cruise Ship Assault

Aired February 19, 2014 - 06:00   ET



JAY CARNEY, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: We continue to condemn street violence and excessive use of force by either side.

CHRIS CUOMO, CNN ANCHOR: Chaos overseas. Deadly and violent protests are swallowing the streets and countries around the world. Buildings up in flames. Tear gas and rubber bullets fired into crowds. What is going on? We're live on ground.

KATE BOLDUAN, CNN ANCHOR: Cruise ship attack. A woman allegedly assaulted inside her cabin a cruise by a crew member. All because he thought she insulted him. We have the latest.

MICHAELA PEREIRA, CNN ANCHOR: Speaking out, a juror in the controversial loud music trial speaks she believes Michael Dunn got away with murder. So, why didn't they convict him? Was race a factor?

CUOMO: Your NEW DAY starts right now.

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


CUOMO: Good morning. Welcome to NEW DAY. It's Wednesday, February 19th, six o'clock in the east.

Overnight, cities burned and blood spilled in every corner of the world, violence erupting literally from Caracas to Kiev. Dozens killed in Ukraine. The capital was in flames.

BOLDUAN: In Venezuela, the opposition leader has been arrested. U.S. diplomats have been kicked out. Days of violent clashes with police claiming four lives, and tensions are still building.

In Thailand, the prime minister has been charged with corruption, bitter clashes between anti-government protesters and police now breaking out in Bangkok with five people killed there. CUOMO: And of course, the situation you hear the most about, Syria, the bloody civil war there, intensifying pressure building on the White House to do something about the slaughter. We're going to tap into the global resources of CNN and bring you the latest on the unrest overseas, why it is happening and what it means to you.

BOLDUAN: First to the unrest in Ukraine. More than two dozen people are dead and hundreds injured in the capital of Kiev. The United States urging restraint as a three-month long standoff escalates out of control. The opposition demanding closer ties to the west while Ukraine's president seems to be cozying up more to Moscow.

Let's begin with Nick Paton Walsh who is joining us live from Kiev this morning, a violent -- it was violence overnight. What's it looking like now, Nick?

NICK PATON WALSH, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, the noise you may hear while I'm talking behind me, that is fireworks, but it's a sign that protesters here have lost none of their energy. They are still engaged in a standoff. They are now lesser in their numbers throwing behind me slightly with police despite last night's remarkable level of violence.

Remarkable for Ukraine where political aggression is not really often on the agenda, and here's what we saw just hours ago.


WALSH (voice-over): It's been nearly a decade-long struggle here between Ukraine turning east to Russia or west to Europe. This is where it stood. It's a stalemate. The police closing in, but looking tired even with fewer protesters here the morning after, still more are moving in.

(on camera): After all those hours of violence and casualties, they have been pushed back to a small area on the square, but still, this violent standoff persists. The question being is there any kind of negotiation that can bring an end to these scenes.

(voice-over): The United States seemed to hold President Yanukovych more responsible.

JAY CARNEY, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: Force will not resolve the crisis to restore peace and stability. We urge President Yanukovych to de-escalate immediately the situation and end the confrontation.

WALSH: But Yanukovych held brief talks with the opposition and afterwards, demanded they renounced radicals in their midst. The talks were pointless said opposition leader, Vitali Klitschko.

VITALI KLITSCHKO, UKRANIAN OPPOSITION LEADER: I'm very unhappy because it was no discussion and the president don't want to listen opposition.

WALSH: The fury continued into the morning fueled by police violence. Evidence of pellets and rubber bullets displayed. This man told me he was here for the future of the Ukraine. Molotov cocktails and stones, weapons against a modern police force, several of them died too.

Ten years ago, the Orange Revolution tried to turn this huge nation towards Europe but failed. Now the E.U. struggling to fend off Russian economic pressure, but many here says they want to be free of Russia's grip. We are here for freedom. We are patriots and we are slaves now. These men tell me this outburst so unexpected, many will hope for calm while Ukraine comes to terms with it.


WALSH: What many people I think look at this as a pitiful moment for this vast country, but also perhaps the future of Europe and the Soviet ideology being pushed now by Vladimir Putin whose Sochi games (inaudible) restore Russia to its global phase. That's why this matters so much. That's why the U.S. has so much at stake here.

It's about permitting those who want to face the wars here to have that chance, but also trying to accommodate the interests in taking a close economic ties with Russia and that old Soviet blocked idea is what they need to keep themselves in jobs and their economy healthy. Back to you, Chris, Kate.

BOLDUAN: Very well laid out how delicate the situation is right there as we see the smoke rising behind you. Thank you so much.

Let's talk more about this. Joining us from Kiev by phone is Christopher Miller, an editor at the "Kiev Post" in English language publication there. He's been seconding out truly some amazing pictures through social media of the protests. Christopher, can you hear me?

CHRISTOPHER MILLER, EDITOR, "KIEV POST" (via telephone): I can hear you, yes. Thank you.

BOLDUAN: Thank you so much for jumping on with us. You've been covering these protests from the very beginning. You have been in the middle of it all and we're showing some of the images you have been sending out. From your perspective, can you describe really the unexpected escalation of this violence?

MILLER: Yes. Down the street, the mood is incredibly tense, more so than it has been over the last more than two and a half months, nearly three months now. In the beginning, this was a protest that began in response to the president's decision to spurn an E.U. deal and turn towards Russia.

And -- and since then we've seen it escalate month after month, first in December when police raided for the first time injuring dozens of protesters. Again, there were clashes on December 1st. Everybody here thought that that would be the worst of it.

Although they're -- they were afraid that it could escalate further, and it did in January on the street adjacent to where the clashes are happening now. But this type of violence that we've seen over the last 30-odd hours is violence we haven't seen here --

BOLDUAN: Can you describe who is committing the violence? Of course, both sides are blaming the other, but what are you seeing?

MILLER: As far as the men at the frontlines who first instigated this violence, it's a number of people. The people that I've spoke to on the ground have identified themselves from a number of different groups, from the opposition national groups (inaudible) and far right groups to just more radicalized protesters who have grown more angry over the course of the last two and a half months.

And helping them, assisting them are normal Ukrainians, men, women, young and old who created human chains and are chipping away at paving stones on the sidewalks and passing them down this line to the front line for these more radical younger and middle age men to heave them across police lines. They're firing fireworks. A number of them were seen with handguns and firing air rifles. Police in turn are using shotguns and cocktails.

I was speaking with a group of them yesterday. They told me that they did have live ammunition. They told me that they have these AK-74s. I was able to look at one and confirm, yes, they did have them. They told me they had not been used at that time. There's certainly possession of them. If these guns are used on protesters, you could see the death toll rise from 26, which is the officially confirmed number right now, too much, much more.

BOLDUAN: Well, let's hope that is not what happens today. Our reporters on the ground say there has been no energy lost amongst the opposition, the protesters out there this morning as we see the smoke rising in Kiev this morning. Christopher Miller, thank you so much for jumping on the phone with us. Stay safe. Thank you.

MILLER: Thank you.

CUOMO: So we'll go from Eastern Europe now to East Asia, Thailand, where the death toll again is uncertain. Almost a hundred have been hurt after the latest anti-government protests. Violent demonstrations are overtaking the streets in Bangkok. Protesters are taking issue there with the prime minister who is facing corruption charges.

A police officer was among those killed. Protesters shot at officers after tear gas was used to disburse the crowd. The thing to watch in Thailand is that protesters have started camping out around the city in Bangkok and their numbers are reportedly growing. Hundreds as a result have been wounded since the fighting began in November.

BOLDUAN: To Venezuela now and the exploding crisis in that country with tens of thousands of protesters taking to the streets demanding their president step down. A top opposition leader is now behind bars charged with conspiracy and murder in connection with the violence that has led now to four deaths.

All of this, days after three U.S. officials were expelled from the country. CNN's Karl Penhaul is with us from the capitol in Caracas. Carl, you yourself have been roughed up by all of the mayhem surrounding these protests. Tell me more. KARL PENHAUL, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Absolutely. Let me bring up to date first though what is happening on the ground. Leopoldo Lopez, the Harvard-trained economist, the main opposition leader, after his arrest made a brief court appearance last night. He was held in a military prison overnight and is due back in court today.

So opposition protesters have made a rallying call to flock to the courthouse. We are expecting tens of thousands of opposition members to turn out. That could prove to be a serious flash point in downtown Caracas in just a short while from now.

As you mentioned, we also fell victim to the rising political anger here. We went after dark to take some video of a face-off between some opposition demonstrators and some pro-government supporters. At one point, the National Guard was out there watching trying to keep the peace.

At one point, a group of men armed with automatic pistols came around the corner on motorcycles. They disbursed the crowd by driving straight through them. They put guns in our faces, saw our camera equipment and proceeded to take all that equipment away. We're trying to get that back. We understand from one of the national guard majors that the perpetrators may have actually been plain-clothed cops -- Kate.

CUOMO: All right, Karl, thank you very much. Be careful there. We'll continue to monitor this situation. Now all this is happening as President Obama is attending a summit in Mexico today. The trip, of course, overshadowed by this violence as well as the escalating more in Syria.

Senator John McCain is calling the Geneva peace talks a farce. He is saying the U.S. has done basically nothing to stop the bloodshed there. Now the White House is reportedly revisiting military options. Remember, it started as diplomacy. There will be military now back to diplomacy. Where do we go from here?

CNN's Jim Acosta is live in Toluca, Mexico. Jim, what was it supposed to be about down there, but what is the new agenda?

JIM ACOSTA, CNN SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Good morning, Chris. That's right. President Obama will be meeting down here with his North American counter parts, the Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto and the Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper later on today. They'll be talking about a range of issues, issues that quite frankly have caused the president some headaches as of last.

The Keystone XL pipe line, Canadians would very much like to see that project, that oil project approved. That's not likely to happen down here. Also President Pena Nieto would also like to see the immigration reform efforts come to fruition back in Washington. That is also not likely to happen.

As you've been talking about some of these world crises over the last several minutes, those concerns will be following the president down here to Toluca, Mexico where the summit will be held. We heard the Obama administration say yesterday that they are reviewing their options when it comes to dealing with the crisis in Syria.

But at this point, they are stressing they do not see a military solution to that crisis. As for Ukraine, you heard that news at the top of the program, Vice President Joe Biden called the Ukrainian president, Yanukovych, yesterday evening, urged the Ukrainian president to show maximum restraint according to a statement from the White House in dealing with those protests there.

You just heard Karl Penhaul talking about the street clashes in Venezuela. Senior administration official said you may hear something from the president or the White House on Venezuela later on today -- Kate.

BOLDUAN: Well, a lot of people waiting to hear more from the White House today on all of the fires that seemed to be burning around the world right now.

ACOSTA: That's right.

BOLDUAN: Jim, great to see you. Thank you so much for that.

Let's turn now to more breaking news overnight. Two flight attendants and several passengers were injured on a Cathay Pacific airways flight after a jet encountered severe turbulence. The plane was headed to Hong Kong from San Francisco. CNN's Vladimir Duthiers is live in Tokyo with much more on this story. Tell us more.

VLADIMIR DUTHIERS, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Hi, Kate. Well, it was terror at 30,000 feet to paraphrase on old "Twilight Zone" episode. As you said, Cathay Airlines says nine people were injured when a Boeing 747 on route to Hong Kong from San Francisco got slammed by that turbulence. The plane was carrying 321 passengers, 21 crew members. It was met at the gate by paramedics and emergency vehicles after it landed at about 6:26 p.m. Hong Kong time.

Now the airline says two crew members and six passengers from Flight CX879 were taken to the hospital by those rescue crews upon arrival. Cathay Airlines also says that the plane encountered this turbulence while over the Pacific Ocean and near the island of Hokkaido, which is north of the main island of Japan. But Japanese officials that we've spoken to say it may have been further north.

But it happened at about six hours before it was due to land in Hong Kong. Pictures posted in the social media show just how rough of a ride it was. There's luggage and food trays and other items just scattered all over the cabin. Air space over the Pacific at this time of the year is prone to turbulence.

And while pilots certainly try to avoid it using radar and weather forecasts, there are times when it can't be detected. It slams into an aircraft unexpectedly. Airlines say the only way to avoid getting injured when that happens, Kate, is to fasten your seat belt -- Chris.

CUOMO: Absolutely, fasten your seatbelt. But I have to tell you, I've been in a situation where there's really bad turbulence, it happens so suddenly that literally a kid who was with a mom in the seat in front of me was instantly in my own lap. It can happen so suddenly and saw what it did to that plane. We'll continue to find out what the fall out was there, any explanation. But again, I think we already know what that's going to be about.

All right, so far this morning, the news has been rough. There is no question. So here's a little bit of a silver lining, all right. It's been horrible here weather-wise, but here's what we're told, the temperatures are finally expected to rise across much of the country. That's good.

But here's the a little bit of the corollary on that, what happens when all this stuff starts to melt, the potential for major flooding. We have to watch that. Meteorologist, Indra Petersons, is my source for all this information. You're tracking it.

INDRA PETERSONS, AMS METEOROLOGIST: I don't know if 44 seems like a huge warm-up, but it does. It has been a horrible winter, guys, and New York City is looking for a high of 44 today.

Quick jump to the Southeast, a look at these 70s, almost near 80 expected today in through Dallas. But, yes, we know it has been a horrible winter. We're talking about warm temperatures, so snow melt.

Plus, another system making its way really into the Northeast, and with the mix of rain and snow, only adding to the melting of the snow already on the ground. So, yes, the concerns for flooding, especially ice jams will be out there.

But it's not even this system that we're all focused on. It's the one that you see kind of pulling out of the four corners today, because this guy has the potential for a couple things. One, first, we're going to be talking about such cold air up to the north, places like Iowa and towards Minnesota, looking for blizzard conditions tomorrow.

But remember, when you have cold air up here, warm air down here, you have a system making it's way through you, line up the jet stream, we have the threat for severe weather. About 300,000 of you by tomorrow especially looking for the threat not only for strong winds, but even tornadoes could be in the forecast. Indianapolis, Nashville, Memphis, Jackson, again, really looking for that concern. The biggest day will be Thursday.

And then, by Friday, we'll be spreading into the mid-Atlantic. So, that's the next heads up. So, yes, flooding a bigger concern today, but definitely a bigger concern as we move towards the end of the week, the threat of tornadoes in the forecast.

BOLDUAN: It's not one thing --

PETERSONS: It never ends in my world, but that's a good thing for my business.

PEREIRA: That jet stream sure seems to be messing with us this year.

PETERSONS: Everyone, right?

PEREIRA: Yes, everyone.

All right. Indra, thank you so much.

Let's take a look at more of your headlines at this hour. This morning, the debate over raising the minimum wage is getting murkier. A new Congressional Budget Office report says raising it to $10.10 would lift 900,000 families out of poverty, but could cost nearly a half million jobs. Right now, the federal minimum wage is $7.25 an hour.

Happening today, round two of nuclear talks with Iran getting underway this morning in Vienna. The U.S. and five other world powers are trying to get the Iranians to scale back their nuclear ambitions in exchange for loosening sanctions. After Tuesday's opening round of talks, Iran's deputy foreign minister vowed his country will never bow to pressure to scrap its nuclear facilities.

Back here at home, a Wisconsin National Guard soldier has been suspended after posting controversial photos online. Terry Harrison posted this image of her and her fellow soldiers mugging as they sit around an empty casket draped in a flag. With the caption read quote, "We put the fun in funeral." Harrison has been suspended indefinitely from the funeral honors detail, pending an investigation.

A former top aide to Chris Christie is refusing to respond to a subpoena in the George Washington Bridge scandal. An attorney for Bill Stepien says he won't turn over records, saying the request is outside legal boundaries. Stepien is Christie's former campaign manager. Bridget Anne Kelly, Christie's former deputy chief of staff, has also refused to respond. The matter is likely to end up in court.

Well, tonight is your last -- not your last, but your chance to win more than $400 million in the Powerball jacket drawing, sixth largest Powerball jackpot in history. Lump sum, you get, what, $230 million. You can do some things with that.

Of course, you're taking your chances, my friend. The odds of winning the big prize, one in 175 million, I got to tell you that, but go ahead. Buy your ticket.

BOLDUAN: Keep hope alive.

PEREIRA: Hope alive.

CUOMO: I say it every time -- I just don't believe the chances that you're going to win matter, because you got a chance, right?

PEREIRA: You got a chance.

BOLDUAN: The underlying still applies -- say it, I got a chance.

PEREIRA: I got a chance.

CUOMO: That said, right? That's what hope's all about. All right. Speaking of hope and aspirations, let's talk Olympics. And, of course, as always, the caveat, we have a spoiler alert from Sochi. If you don't want to hear, but we know you want to.

The game, they're taking it in a high gear, as we head for the homestretch. Eight medal events. Already this morning, skiing and snowboarding events are underway. This comes after another big day for the USA.

Rachel Nichols has more now from Sochi -- Rachel.

RACHEL NICHOLS, CNN SPORTS: Well, Chris, how great is this? Half pipe skier David Wise's wife took a photo of their baby daughter, blew it out huge, cut out her head and put it on one of those giant sticks. So when Wise went down the pipe for what turned out to be his gold medal run, he said all he saw was the giant smile of his baby girl.

Wise is headlining our great stories from Sochi today. Take a look.


NICHOLS (voice-over): When it comes to free style skiing, the U.S. is proving unstoppable.

Twenty-three-year-old American David Wise showed no fear in the Olympics' first ever halfpipe ski competition. Despite the low visibility, Wise cut through the slush landing impressive flips, twists, and spins. The three-time X-Games champ even ate it during one run. But his previous tricks proved so sick he landed atop that podium, partly thanks to this good luck charm from his wife.

DAVID WISE, OLYMPIAN: It's funny. Somebody compared us to like the Norwegians for Antarctic events. The Americans are really cleaning up house in these action sports events. I think rightfully so. No matter what contest we're watching, we're all like, oh, well, no matter, one of our friends is going to win tonight.

NICHOLS: On the bobsled track -- American duo Lauryn Williams and Elana Meyers darting ahead of the track. Williams, a track and field medalist, jumped in to her first bobsled just six months ago. But now, she and Myers are on the edge of grabbing gold.

Over on the biathlon course, the endurance fueled 15K all came down to this photo finish. Norway's (INAUDIBLE) broke out in a full-on sprint clock in at the exact same time at the finish line. But take a closer look at these photos that show the one's boot crossing the line just before the two-time defending champion.

Today, Americans Ted Ligety and Bode Miller. This in the wake of Miller's emotional and controversial NBC interview with Christin Cooper after winning the bronze in the super-G.

CHRISTIN COOPER, NBC: What's going on there?

NICHOLS: I sat down with Miller who told me he was surprised the interview was so controversial. BODE MILLER, OLYMPIAN: I felt like it was -- it was me, not her, you know. She asked questions that I feel like with her knowledge of my brother and the situation, I felt like were -- were pretty normal questions. But I've known Christin for a long time. I think she's really comfortable with me. And I felt terrible that she was getting just massacred in the press and social media.

NICHOLS: Miller says he's happy to get the chance to set the record straight and happy that in some way, the memory of his late brother did help him win that medal.


NICHOLS: Bode really eloquent in that interview. And you'll see more of that later in the show, guys. His teammate right now Ted Ligety is leading the giant slalom by nearly a second. That's an eon in ski racing. So, we're on another gold medal watch right now as we speak.

BOLDUAN: Good news. Love starting the day off like that, and love that interview you did with Bode Miller. Looking for ward to more of the interview later. Thank you so much, Rachel.

Another spoiler for you everybody -- time now for our first check of the medal count. That's yours.

For the moment, the Netherlands and the United States are tied for the overall lead with 20 medals each. Host country Russia follows with 19. Norway and Canada are just behind. Some events are just wrapping, are just wrapping up. So, we'll have an updated tally in our next hour for you.

Let's take a break, though.

Coming up next on NEW DAY: Horror at the sea, a female cruise passenger attacked by a crew member who used a master key to break into a room. Wait until you hear how police say he tried to cover up the crime.

CUOMO: It's all right. I got you. I got you. It's all right.

The Olympics. So, we're covering the loud music trial. What's the big question -- the big question is how did they not convict? There's been confusion.

Well, you're looking at one of the jurors. She says she does believe Michael Dunn got away with murder, but why? You'll hear from her. You decide.


CUOMO: Welcome back.

Outrage this morning after a shocking and brutal attack on an American cruise ship passenger reportedly by a member of the crew. The suspect is in custody this morning accused of breaking into the woman's cabin, sexually assaulting her, and then trying to throw her overboard. Victor Blackwell is live at the CNN Center with details -- Victor.


That now former cruise ship employee is waking up in federal custody, while cruise line executives are working with the FBI to determine how this could have happened.


ANNOUNCER: We know you'll find our version of unwinding in the Tropics --

BLACKWELL: Holland American Line Vacations are a dream for some. But one woman claims her Caribbean cruise turned into a nightmare.

A 31-year-old American woman says she was brutally attacked by this man, Ketut Pujayasa (ph), on a seven-day round trip Caribbean cruise out of Florida. Pujayasa worked as a cabin attendant. According to a criminal complaint, he told authorities on February 14th, he delivered breakfast to the alleged victim's room. When he knocked, he said he heart a voice shout, wait a minute son of a -- expletive.

Later that day, Pujayasa searched the ship in order to punch her in the face for insulting him that morning but he was unable to find her.

Pujayasa told authorities that evening, he used his master key card to enter her state room and then hid on the balcony as the victim entered. He's then accused of violently beating and then sexually assaulting the unsuspected woman, at one point attempting to throw her off the balcony as the ship near the coast of Roatan, Honduras.

JIM WALKER, MARITIME LAWYER: There are no cameras in most cases in most cruise ships, that record what happens on the balcony. If he was successful in getting her off the ship, it could end up as just another mystery on the high seas.

BLACKWELL: The victim managed to escape and was felony to the hospital. Pujayasa faces federal charges of attempted murder and aggravated sexual abuse, since the alleged attack happened over international waters.

WALKER: It's happened before. People have disappeared from these ships. The prosecution rates are exceedingly low. And this is the place -- it's the perfect place to commit a crime, to assault someone, and to throw them over board. Most people get away with it.


BLACKWELL: CNN was unable to reach Pujayasa's attorney for comment. But Holland America fired him and shortly after the incident sent a letter to all the passengers on board. Here's a portion of it, "We are treating this situation with the utmost seriousness. We're doing everything possible to assist the guest involved as well as the relevant authorities. The crew member has been confined to ensure he will have no guest contact for the remainder of the cruise." And we, of course, expect to hear from more from the investigators and Holland America -- Chris.

CUOMO: Victor Blackwell, thank you for the reporting.

We're going to take a break now on NEW DAY. When we come back, all of the speculation about the loud music trial, now we hear from one of the jurors. Juror number four is going to speak out about what happened in the room. Why she believes that Michael Dunn got away with murder. So, what did the case come down to?

We'll hear from her.