Skip to main content

tv   CNNI Simulcast  CNN  May 3, 2014 2:00am-3:01am PDT

2:00 am
station slot. see the full spectrum of human folly and commit some follies of your own. free from pro-russian separatists. we're monitoring developments in eastern ukraine just hours after this military team of observers you're seeing now was released in the volatile region. and -- a chaotic scene after multiple landslides in afghanistan. we'll talk to one man overseeing the relief effort. also -- >> we have probably always had public figures who have been out there saying outrageous things when it comes to race. the difference is now, when someone says something like this, the chances are that it's been recorded.
2:01 am
>> these public figures you're seeing now have one thing in common, racism controversies. a closer look at that hot-button issue, coming up. hello, and welcome, everyone. i'm errol barnett. to our viewers in the u.s. and around the world, it's a pleasure to have you with me on this saturday. this is "cnn newsroom." now, at this moment, it's just past noon in eastern ukraine. that's where the standoff between the country's military and pro-russia activists has taken an even more violent turn in recent weeks. the interior minister says it's offensive to drive out what it calls terrorists from slovyansk. on friday, at least nine people were killed, including the pilots of two helicopters shot down by pro-russia separatists. the violence has spread to the
2:02 am
southern port city of odessa as well. you're seeing some of the images into us from there. activists who support the government in kiev slashed with pro-russia supporters. a fire at a trade union building, that's what you're looking at now, killed at least 31 people. and we have these new developments into cnn. a team of military observers from the organization for security and cooperation in europe, the osce, they've been held captive in eastern ukraine for more than a week. well, there are reports now that they have been freed. pro-russia separatists accuse them of being nato spies. senior international correspondent nick paton walsh is near slovyansk. he joins us on the phone now and can speak to us. nick, tell us, what's the latest information you have on these new freed osce observers. >> reporter: well, i've just spoken to the self-declared mayor of slovyansk, who confirmed to me that all 12 individuals in that military observer mission, which they call nato spies, prisoners of war as they held them, have now
2:03 am
been released. that includes the ukrainians who were with them and the seven foreign nationals, including four germans, a dane, a czech, and a pol as well. they now apparently have been released, and as far as we understand, on their way to meet a separate osce delegation on the outskirts of town that will obviously transport them away, according to the self-declared mayor. interestingly, he also says there was no exchange of prisoners that led to this release. that had been the request of the pro-russian protesters, militants in slovyansk. those activists detained by kiev be swapped for the osce military observers who were there working under a separate agreement from 2011, a various military build-up and signs around that particular area we see last friday. he says, in fact, it was the arrival of russia's envoy in that particular area that caused the release, and according to him, the osce delegation was actually part of the final negotiations. so, i think we can read into
2:04 am
this quite simply that moscow, may well under pressure from berlin, angela merkel, four of the detainees being german, may have decided to take the move and put pressure on the self-declared administration to release the officials in the presence of their envoy in slovyansk facilitated that and i think possibly analysts will look at this as a smart pr move by moscow to carry favor towards the pro-russian protesters, signs that particularly at this delicate time are now surrounded by the ukrainian army. >> nick, in what way does this development change the big picture? acting president turchynov admitted this week, the country doesn't really control many eastern cities because local officials there, he says, are helpless. has ukraine lost control of the east or incidents like this prove that the tide is turning? >> reporter: well, i think this certainly is a sign of pro-russian protesters deciding to yield a significant bargaining chip they had for a little bit of positive
2:05 am
publicity. it helps moscow, perhaps, too, to paint them in a more constructive light. it also, i must point out, too, as the situation worsens here, does move into an extraordinarily dangerous diplomatic situation from the equation. now those foreigners are no longer there, i'm sure there will abe lot of the people in berlin relieved, given how close to outright civil war and conflict this region is becoming. does the government still have control here? well, i'm standing next to a column of about ten ukrainian armored personnel carriers on a hill overlooking slovyansk, and they clearly are here in substantial numbers. they say they've moved slightly back from the town, clashes last night, and at a distance, i can see what must be i think a blockade on fire to the south of slovyansk that's causing large amounts of black smoke to fill into the sky. we've seen it for the last 30 minutes. clearly, this is still an extraordinarily volatile region. and the key thing now is after weeks of rhetoric, kiev is trying to claim everything they have to regain control and
2:06 am
establish authority in this region and it's an extremely difficult and lengthy process, not least, because there are a lot of local residents who aren't hospitable to these soldiers, many of them from different parts of ukraine, coming into their town, errol. >> as you might imagine. nick paton walsh on the line for us near slovyansk. a comprehensive update on what's happening in ukraine right now. thank you for that. as you heard, russia, of course, a major player in this unrest. russia itself has had harsh words for ukraine's interim government and its plan to hold elections later this month. on the 25th there are presidential elections expected in ukraine. let's bring in our matthew chance now. he's in moscow with the view from there. matthew, what do you think? what's the view? any official word from the kremlin or from moscow on the release of these osce observers? >> reporter: well, there's been official word that it was the russian presidential envoy, vlad mire liukin, that secured the release of those seven osce
2:07 am
observe observers, reported in the state news agency, but there's been much more reaction when it comes to the spiraling violence in eastern ukraine from the kremlin. the spokesperson for vladimir putin, the russian president, has said that president putin extends his deep condolences to the victims of the families of those killed in odessa, and he's also crucially said this, that moscow has received thousands of requests from southeastern ukraine for help. it's a cry of despair, according to dmitri peskov, a plea for help, and that's important, because the russians for a long time now have been reserving the right to protect the interests of ethnic russians and russian speakers, especially in ukraine, if they come under attack from the ukrainian military. and so, while on one hand, the ukrainian military have moved to -- or the ukrainian government has moved to reassert its authority in eastern ukraine, it's also taking a huge gamble, because these military
2:08 am
operations could be used by the russians to justify a possible invasion of eastern ukraine. remember, russia has stationed some 40,000 of its troops just across the border from eastern ukraine in western russia. they've been on periodical maneuvers in a relatively threatening posture. they could easily be diverted to take territory and go in as what the kremlin may call peacekeepers in eastern ukraine. at the moment, that hasn't happened, and indeed, dmitri peskov, the presidential spokesman, saying this, moscow does not yet know how to respond to the growing violence in ukraine, but i've been told personally that vladimir putin is viewing the situation with grave concern and he's watching developments by the hour. errol. >> that's matthew chance for us live from moscow. thank you. now we want to bring you the latest information we have now on that desperate search for malaysia flight 370. the airline has told families staying at a beijing hotel it's time to go. malaysia air said they'd be better off waiting for updates
2:09 am
"in the comfort of their own homes." cnn's david mckenzie's been speaking to some of the family members and filed this report. >> reporter: after nearly two months of agonizing waiting to find out what happened to their loved ones, hundreds of family members here in beijing were given an ultimatum to leave. they were told they had to leave their hotel where they had been based by both malaysian authorities, malaysian airlines and the chinese government. some family members told us they didn't have a choice and they're given an evening deadline to get out of that hotel. but some of them have said they wanted to leave for some time, and for many, it's a relief. >> we'll move on to the next stage and still keep on fighting for the truth and for where the plane is, where our loved ones are. we'll keep on with it. we'll never give up. nothing for me, because living here or living back home is the same to me. i still keep on doing whatever i can to find the plane.
2:10 am
>> reporter: in recent days, there was a heavy police presence at the hotel and media was not allowed to go inside with cameras. there was emotional scenes when the interim report was released by malaysian airlines. many family members see this as the end of a chapter but a continuation of a traumatic period in their lives. there was also a potentially powerful financial incentive offered by malaysian airlines with several tens of thousands of dollars offered to close family members if they went home, but they say there were some conditions. at this stage, the family members want one thing, they want closure, some kind of end to this agonizing wait, and that doesn't seem anywhere closer. officials say it could take more than eight months to find this plane. david mckenzie, cnn, beijing. cnn just received a chilling announcement from the governor of a remote northeastern
2:11 am
province in afghanistan. a village buried by two landslides will now become a mass grave. the governor says homes are buried under up to 50 meters of mud. bodies there are just impossible to retrieve. as many as 2,700 people are feared dead. thousands have been made homeless. christopher jackson is with the international federation of red cross and red crescent societies. they have a team there on the ground now. he joins us by phone from kabul. christopher, thanks for your time. this took place in a very remote region of afghanistan. what's the latest information you have on the death toll and status of any rescues? >> reporter: good afternoon. well, as far as we can tell, the death toll is essentially an estimate. it's estimated on the fact that 300 houses were buried under these two landslides. and if you calculate that there's seven people per household, it brings you to that
2:12 am
number which you just mentioned. of course, this can't be confirmed until the missing people are, shall we say, sort out and calculated. i think the death toll so far is about 300, in other words, 300 people to have died. but clearly, we have to expect this number to increase. this is an area where there's about 7,000 families, which brings us to about -- let me see, if there's 7,000 -- hang on, sorry, 1,000 families live in this area, so it's about 7,000 people altogether. >> you're there helping in this effort. just describe to us the conditions. is more rain expected? could there be more landslides? >> yes, this is the season for the rains, it is a season for the floods, especially in this northern area. the afghan red crescent, who we
2:13 am
support, does reposition a lot of aid assistance, and we have been obviously busy in other areas of the north in supporting operations which have affected. i have to emphasize, this happens every year, so they're all prepared for it. it just happens in this remote area of the northeast. these landslides have had a devastating effect on the population of ta couple of vill. elsewhere, we have a usual death rate of 100 people or so. more importantly is to remember the living, who we have to assist in the end, and lots of people have been displaced. in this same area where we have these floods, we have such a large number of people displaced. but overall, in the floods of this year, some 67,000 people have been affected, all of which will need our support in the
2:14 am
near future. >> absolutely. and even more tragic that, you know, neighbors from a nearby village ran over to help those affected by the first landslide when the second landslide hit. we've been speaking there with christopher jackson with the international federation of red cross and red crescent societies. thank you very much for your time, and certainly, good luck in your efforts there. the weather, as we just discussed, is not cooperating with the aid effort. let's bring in meteorologist samantha mohr now. she has the forecast for the region. sam? >> yeah, as mr. jackson was just saying, errol, it is the rainy season, and just this past week, we had five different systems bring in accumulating rain here, and it really tallied up. where you see the green and the bright blue colors, these are the radar estimates showing that we had some 100 to 150 millimeters of rain during the past seven days. and here was the timing on all of that, as the atmosphere moistened up and we saw a convective system move in on monday during the middle of the day, then another one on
2:15 am
tuesday, and then didn't see much of a break, because on wednesday, another system moved on in. and then thursday's system moved through rather quickly but did dump some heavy rain on them in a short period of time. and then we have more rain expected as we head in through the rest of today. it will be moving through quickly, but the thing is, we just don't have much soil for this to soak into because of the pitch or the elevation here. some 1,000 to 3,000 meters, that's what these mountains are across the region. and you can see, this is the area in which they live here, right along this roadway, which is marked in yellow. and of course, when you see this kind of torrential rainfall on this kind of desert terrain, the slope can just not hold all that weight from the rain as it saturates the ground, and then it just loses its hold. gravity takes it down the slopes, and then we see these neighborhoods just buried like this. some 50 meters deep in all of this debris. so, it's just really a sad, sad
2:16 am
situation. and we have a chance to see those showers and thunderstorms yet today and into next week, monday, and into the end of next week as well. so, it is humid, it is very, very hot with temperatures in the upper 30s, errol. >> and you know, we've had these mudslides in the states a few weeks ago, and even in a developed country, people were saying, it's so difficult to use those machines to get through the mud. imagine even more so in a remote place of northern afghanistan. sam, thanks very much. >> you bet. the search continues for hundreds of girls abducted in nigeria. coming up for you, why these protesters you're seeing now say the government isn't doing enough.
2:17 am
2:18 am
welcome back to "cnn newsroom," everyone. i'm ear errol barnett. nigeria is searching for hundreds of girls taken from a boarding school.
2:19 am
they say 276 students were dragged from their beds last month and that number could increase. vladims live in lagos. it's one of these stories that breaks your heart. these young girls just wanted an education, and i understand some relatives even raised money themselves so they could go and search, feeling helpless because of what the government's not done so far. what's happening there? >> reporter: that's exactly right, errol. we've spoken to some of those family members. they say that over the last couple of days, they've attempted to take some rocks, sticks, machetes, whatever they could find, to go into the area where it is believed boko haram is holding these girls, to risk their own lives to try to bring their daughters, their sisters back home, because they say that the government is not doing enough to rescue these girls. and that is the situation that these families are facing. and as you mentioned, it's very hard to imagine the pain, the suffering that the mothers are going through, and in addition to that, the young girls who
2:20 am
have no idea where they are or when they'll be reunited with their families. the nigerian military for their part says that they are conducting operations in the area, they're trying to bring these girls back, but so far, they haven't really commented on, they haven't given us details on what those operations entail, because they say that would jeopardize the mission, errol. >> now, the nigerian government is facing a lot of criticism right now because of all this. and if we compare this to other recent disasters, where hundreds of people were impacted, you had the south korean prime minister resigning because of the response to the ferry disaster, the malaysian government was under a lot of pressure because of mh-370. have we even heard from president goodluck jonathan yet? and in what way is the government being accountable? >> reporter: it's a great question, errol. you know, a lot of people -- we were at a protest in lagos, a protest that has been sparked by a massive social media campaign using #whereareourgirls. that is trending worldwide. we talked to people at those protests, and a lot of them were astounded by -- they said if
2:21 am
this were any other country in the world, 200 girls kidnapped, ripped from their beds in the middle of the night, the country would be at a standstill. they are astounded when they hear and see president barack obama flying to boston in the wake of terrorist attacks there, where three americans are killed. they say, where is our president? we have not heard from him or seen from him since this attack happened. and that is what we're seeing now across nigeria, many other cities besides lagos, in the north in kaduna, people taking to the streets, demanding that their military, that their government be held accountable and to do everything they can to bring these girls home, errol. >> and vlad, it's all connected to nigerian discontent toward the government for not doing enough to stamp out boko haram in the first place. this is a major issue. vlad duthers reporting live there. we push to get answers from everyone as everyone wants these girls to be returned. vlad, thank you very much.
2:22 am
as i was mentioning there, there's other events taking place in nigeria, an increasing amount of twitter users saying they heard gunshots fired around the university of medaguri. explosions also have been reported. the school is in northeastern borno state, where much of nigeria's unrest is taking place. boko haram is against western education, essentially, so they're targeting students and young people who are simply trying to get an education. cnn cannot independently confirm that incident, but certainly, we'll bring you more details as they become available. you're watching "cnn newsroom." what the donald sterling racism row has taught people about celebrity and scandal. we'll tackle this issue for you after the break.
2:23 am
2:24 am
welcome back. we're hearing now from the alleged former girlfriend of l.a. clippers owner donald sterling. by recording a racist rant by sterling, v. stiviano, as she's known, led off a chain of events that led to his ban from the nba. well, she just told abc's barbara walters, his words don't always match what he really believes. watch this. >> is donald sterling a racist? >> no. i don't believe it in my heart. >> have you heard him say derogatory things about minorities in general and blacks in particular? >> absolutely. >> you've heard him say derogatory things? >> yes. >> don't they sound racist to you?
2:25 am
>> i think the things he says are not what he feels. >> interesting there. the subject of racism has dominated headlines in the u.s. this past week. cnn's jean casarez takes a look now at how getting caught saying the wrong thing can cost you everything. >> -- taking pictures with minorities, why? >> reporter: race, one subject in america that can get you fired, scorned, and now banned for life. >> i'm heartbroken. >> reporter: celebrity chef paula deen, cattleman cliven bundy, and now l.a. clippers owner donald sterling, painful words carrying a price. >> i think we have probably always had public figures who have been out there saying outrageous things when it comes to race. the difference is now, when someone says something like this, the chances are that it's been recorded somewhere.
2:26 am
>> reporter: take the case of paula deen, a major cooking personality. >> here we go, how's this, y'all? >> reporter: when a deposition made public in 2013 revealed deen admitted she had used the "n" word in the past, the multimillionaire seemingly lost it all, including her show on the food network and major corporate sponsors. professor robert thompson of syracuse university says there is a cycle, and it now runs faster than ever. >> we start with public outrage. there is the official response by the people who can actually do something about it. >> hi. i'm back. >> paula deen is now in act five, where she's attempting to come back, her tour. and some people, of course, never achieve that part of the cycle. >> reporter: deen was reportedly worth $10 million when the scandal broke. donald sterling is a billionaire, but he may end up being worth more money as a result of his racist words. >> the big punishment for sterling might be you've got to
2:27 am
sell the team, and that might mean that your big punishment is you make a sale that's going to make you hundreds of millions of dollars. >> reporter: cliven bundy, a nevada cattleman, became a media star overnight when he accused the federal government of stepping on his rights. >> and i've often wondered, are they better off as slaves picking cotton? >> reporter: those words ended his brief run in the political limelight. >> the core issue of racism or homophobia or outrageous behavior must be dealt with in a much more frontal way as opposed to just punishing people who get caught on tape. >> reporter: ken sunshine is a longtime public relations executive and civil rights activist. his concern is the swift public punishment doesn't solve the real problem. >> they either repent or don't repent and move on, and the insidious problem of racism in america doesn't get dealt with. >> reporter: that is, until the next public figure gets recorded on tape. jean casarez, cnn, new york.
2:28 am
the bangladeshi navy's looking in the bay of bengal for signs of flight 370. coming up, why some experts are discrediting these images you see here, which began the search there. and convicted of murder for a second time, amanda knox's ex-boyfriend talks with cnn about the case and why he says he's innocent. you're comfortable here, it's where you email, shop, even bank. but are you too comfortable? these days crime can happen in a few keystrokes. american express can help protect you with intelligent security that learns your spending patterns, and can alert you to an unusual charge instantly. so you can be a member of a more secure world. this is what membership is. this is what membership does.
2:29 am
2:30 am
news in the u.s. and around the world. i'm errol barnett, and you're in the "cnn newsroom." here are the stories we're following for you right now. a team of military observers has been set free in eastern ukraine. pro-russian separatists captured the group in sulolovyansk more n a week ago, accusing them of being nato spies. and in afghanistan, the area of landslides is called a mass grave. they say 50 meters of mud is
2:31 am
covering homes there, making it impossible to dig things up. it's estimated 2,700 people were killed. in nigeria, cnn's receiving multiple reports video social media of explosions and gunfire around the university of maiduguri. the school is in nigeria's restive borno state. cnn has not yet confirmed the incident. we'll bring you details as they become available. the bangladeshi navy says it's continuing to search the bay of bengal for wreckage of flight 370, but so far hasn't found any trace of the plane there. the search was triggered by information from a private australian firm that claims to have detected possible traces of a plane wreck under water. cnn's anna coren spoke with company officials to see why they're so confident, as well as some skeptical of their find. she filed this report for us from australia. >> reporter: with investigators still to find any race of mh-370, an australian mining exploration company believes it may have found the wreckage of a
2:32 am
commercial airliner in the bay of bengal, 100 miles off the coast of bangladesh, that could be the remains of mh-370. well, authorities are taking these claims very lightly, while some experts have discredited the findings, saying they simply aren't true. as the search continues for mh-370 in the desolate waters of the southern indian ocean, more than seven weeks after the plane's disappearance, a team of scientists from an australian mining exploration company believe they may have found its location over 5,000 kilometers away. >> we are not into making theories. it is a scientific proven fact that we guarantee that at that location there are chemical elements that are part of a plane. >> reporter: georesonance is convinced that through its high-tech spectral imaging gathered from satellites and planes, it has found the remains of an aircraft in the bay of bengal, 190 kilometers off the coast of bangladesh.
2:33 am
>> amazement isn't quite the word. it was totally incredible when we saw the results that we believe to be the wreckage of an aircra aircraft. it's incredible. >> reporter: their search began four days after the plane's disappearance, testing for elements such as al minute yum, titanium and copper found in a boeing 777. working off the plane's last radar detection, they searched the northern corridor, covering over 2 million square kilometers until they found the match. some analysts are skeptical of the technology. >> i think the most fundamental reason for the skepticism is that they talk about multispectral imaging and there is no multispectral image that anyone i've talked to or that i'm aware of is going to penetrate 1,000 meters under the ocean. >> reporter: director david pope says he stands by their findings but is not prepared to divulge their methodology. >> there's a lot of valuable build-up over the last few years, it's our intellectual property and we plan on keeping
2:34 am
it private. >> reporter: no one, georesonance, is claiming this is in fact mh-370, but the aging of the same area conducted three days before the plane disappeared turned up any of the elements. their final report was sent two weeks ago to malaysian airlines and all countries involved in the search. but despite repeated efforts to make contact, no one responded. georesonance based here in adelaide denies this is a publicity-seeking exercise, saying it never wanted to go public with its report, but when the malaysian, chinese and australian governments failed to respond, that's when they went to the media, believing that it's their moral obligation to the families of the victims of mh-370. >> if adelaide is going to prove correct, then that's fantastic for the families to bring closure. if not, let us discount it and they can move on. >> reporter: something the families and relatives of the 239 people on board are so desperate to do.
2:35 am
as a result, bangladesh has sent two navy frigates to investigate but are yet to find anything. malaysia is also considering sending vessels to the area but are concerned that it will distract from the real search, firmly believing the remains of mh-370 are in the southern indian ocean. back to you. all right, we crossed news out of egypt for you now. state media there say a series of blasts and suicide attacks have left several people dead and wounded. two explosions rocked the capital, cairo, on friday, including one near a metro station that killed one person and wounded a few others, and a pair of suicide attacks in the sinai city of el tur left at least one person dead and nine wounded.cairo, the trial of three al jazeera journalists begins today. reza is joining us from there. ironic that this happens on world press freedom day, a day to acknowledge journalists in
2:36 am
dangerous places asking tough questions, but what can you tell us about the status of this trial right now? >> reporter: well, the hearing, errol, started about 40 minutes ago. this is the seventh session in this trial of these three al jazeera journalists. these three individuals haven't seen a free day in the year 2014. they were arrested back in december 29th of last year. they're still in custody. and every time we come to these hearings, we're eager to see if the state, if the prosecution can present any evidence linking these individuals to any crime or terrorist activity. and i think any fair-minded, reasonable person would conclude that, so far, the prosecution has failed to do that. instead, what we've seen in these hearings is the prosecution showing numerous video clips that include television reports from inside egypt, even outside egypt. we've seen personal pictures, family pictures, nothing to
2:37 am
seemingly link these individuals to any crime or terrorist activity. however, we should point out that to the international community, to the international rights groups, the judiciary here in egypt has so little credibility at this point that you have to wonder, does the prosecution plan to take some of these items, these video clips and pictures, and somehow create the impression that these individuals are linked to terrorism? for example, during the last hearing, the prosecution presented a picture of the al jazeera journalist standing next to mohamed morsi, the ousted islamic president. and the question is, does the prosecution plan to use that picture to somehow suggest that mohammed fahmy was a member of the muslim brotherhood, something he denies. these are the types of things that are adding all sorts of uncertainty to this trial and this hearing. again, the hearing, today's session started about 40 minutes ago. we'll see what happens today, errol. >> so, reza, it appears that in egypt, it's simply guilt by
2:38 am
association. you're mentioning the ousted president, mohamed morsi. hundreds of people were sentenced to death earlier this week for being muslim brotherhood supporters. that's causing people to just flee and to go into hiding because of this climate of fear that exists in that country. this can't be the egypt people expected and protested for after ousting hosni mubarak. >> reporter: yeah, and that's why a lot of international rights groups are very concerned. they're sounding the alarm. but what's troubling is you don't see authorities here in egypt alarmed. you don't see them condemning the mass trials and this particular trial, for example. but moving ahead, rights groups say that egypt and this regime is going to be judged in many ways on how much they abide by and respect basic human rights, basic due process rights. but when you see trials like today, when you see mass death sentences like we saw this month
2:39 am
and last month, rights groups say that's a troubling sign that egypt is once again going towards an autocracy, towards a police state and away from the promises that were made back in the 2011 revolution, errol. >> all right. that's reza sayah live in cairo ahead of that hearing. reza, thank you. we turn back to our top story now, developments out of ukraine. the country's interior minister says the crackdown on pro-russian separatists in the eastern part of the country will continue. government security forces swept into slovyansk and kramatorsk, trying to retake government buildings and checkpoints from people they describe as terrorists. the international reaction? well, possibly more sanctions on russia. our chief u.s. security correspondent jim sciutto reports. >> reporter: every day, ukraine looks more and more like a country at war. here, residents cheer after two ukrainian helicopters are shot down. both pilots were killed.
2:40 am
and here, pro-russian militants clash with ukrainian police. the new violence comes as ukrainian forces launch their most intensive effort so far to push pro-russian militants from one more eastern city that has slipped from their control. but ethnic russians resisted, blocking ukrainian tanks and demanding they not advance any farther. still struggling to devise a policy to de-escalate the crisis, president obama met with german chancellor angela merkel in washington. together, they set a new trigger for broader, sector-based sanctions against russia. any interference, they say, with crucial elections later this month. >> if, in fact, we see the disruptions and the destabilization continuing so severely that it impedes elections on may 25th, we will not have a choice but to move
2:41 am
forward with additional, more severe sanctions. >> reporter: until now, such penalties against russia's energy, arms and banking sectors had been reserved for a full-scale invasion. russia, however, remains undeterred. russian officials say ukraine's military operations in the east effectively scuttle a deal reached in geneva last month to diffuse the crisis, and they called for an emergency session of the u.n. security council to highlight alleged threats to russians inside ukraine. to reassure the west increasingly nervous eastern allies, nato is considering expanding and extending new military exercises in the region. defense secretary chuck hagel said, however, all members of the alliance, not just the u.s., must share the burden. >> we must not squander this opportunity or shrink from this challenge. we will be judged harshly by history and by future generations if we do. >> reporter: the obama administration is also pushing back hard against the narrative we're hearing more and more from russian officials, and that is
2:42 am
that ethnic russians in eastern ukraine are somehow under threat and that the armed militants you're seeing are somehow peaceful protesters. the president saying, "generally, local protesters don't have missiles to shoot down helicopters." jim sciutto, cnn, washington. you are watching "cnn newsroom." coming up next, amanda knox's ex-boyfriend declares his innocence after an italian court convicts him of murder for a second time. what could he possibly be saying now? plus, authorities foiled a plot to bomb this high school in the u.s. state of minnesota. some good news for you here. stay with us on cnn. more after the break. q.
2:43 am
2:44 am
the ex-boyfriend of amanda knox is once again declaring his innocence in the 2007 murder of british exchange student meredith kercher. knox and raffaele sollecito were convicted of the murder for a second time back in january. this week, the italian court released a 300-page explanation of its decision. earlier, sollecito spoke with cnn's anderson cooper. >> the appeals court released its explanation for reconvicting you and amanda, and they have now changed their story, saying that meredith kercher's murder stemmed from a fight over rent money, which then spiraled into some kind of violent sexual encounter where you and amanda participated out of a desire to abuse and humiliate meredith. what do you say to that? >> it's completely a fiction. there is nothing real in what they describe. i am completely -- i am a
2:45 am
stranger in this case. i have met amanda for less than one week. i didn't know meredith. i met her once and i didn't speak with meredith. i had no reason to have any argue or have any participation. i'm really living inside a nightmare, and it's really hard for me to go on, to live my life day by day with this burden on me. >> amanda talked to our chris cuomo yesterday, and i want to play you a little bit about what she said. >> right now, me and raffaele together are fighting for our innocence. and i, like i said, i truly believe that that can happen. it's only speculation that convicts us. it's evidence that acquits us. >> she says that you and she are
2:46 am
fighting for your innocence together. is that true? is that the way you see it, that you're fighting together, or are you now basically trying to separate yourselves, saying, look, i wasn't there, i barely knew amanda, i didn't know meredith. are you saying it more separate now? >> i am working by myself inside of this tragedy in italy. i am in italy, and she is very far. i appreciate her fighting also for me, but i am dealing with my lawyers and my legal team by myself. >> john, let me bring you in here. from a legal standpoint, do you want to separate raffaele's case from amanda's? >> well, i think they have to, at least the courts have to sit up and take more notice of raffaele's case and the distinctions there, and also the fact that he's the one that's got the exposure to 25 years in jail that amanda doesn't have. and you know, the circumstantial
2:47 am
evidence is different against the two of them. you know, raffaele never accused someone, falsely accused someone of being involved in the murder. he didn't engage in questionable behavior that cast suspicion upon him. all these things were attributed to amanda. and to think that he took up with someone that he had never met along with the girl he was dating less for a week to torture, mutilate and kill another young woman he had never even met for more than five minutes is just beyond the pale. there's no evidence to support it. it is just rank speculation, a horrific tragedy that he's in this position right now. >> do you have any regrets about returning to italy to face these charges? >> no. as i already said, i came back because i have nothing to hide, i have a clear conscience. i am open minded. there's really nothing against me. i didn't do anything wrong. i have really nothing to hide.
2:48 am
>> seven years of your life have been spent in this legal limbo. i mean, it's -- are you able to have a regular life on a daily basis or is this always in your mind? are you always dealing with this? >> i have always to deal with this. my family's completely destroyed, psychologically and tragically inside their own lives. and my life is completely stolen. i cannot take a step farther because i am still in this situation. just the future is only a dream. it is not real. >> raffaele sollecito with his lawyer, john kelly, and our anderson cooper there. all right, let's bring you some well-needed good news now. in the u.s. state of minnesota, police say they foiled a mass murder plot targeting a secondary school. they say a teenager was planning onslaughtering his family before launching an attack, and he even had the tools carry it out. nick valencia shows us how this
2:49 am
scheme thankfully unraveled. ♪ >> reporter: john ladue appeared to be just a typical teenager. his facebook page showed the 17-year-old playing an electric guitar with a skull on his shoulder strap. he liked assault rifles. the list of his favorite movies dominated by blood and gore. not so different from any others his age, but ladue had a darker fascination, and in a journal discovered by police at his home, the high school junior allegedly detailed his deadly plan for committing mass murder. >> his plan was to kill his family members, start a diversionary fire in rural was seeka to distract first responders and cram to the waseka junior/senior high school. once there, he intended to set off numerous bombs during lunch hour, kill the resource officer as he responded to help, set fires and shoot students and staff. >> reporter: the attack was thwarted by chelsea shelhaus, a watchful resident who reported what she believed to be
2:50 am
suspicious activity at a storage facility. >> he shut the door, and i thought it was funny because normally we see people come here and it doesn't take ten minutes to open up a storage shed, so i called it in. >> reporter: that led police to ladue and inside, police found bomb-making materials. >> numerous guns, ammunition, guns and paperwork documenting his plans were recovered and removed from the home. >> reporter: the investigation started in late march, when police began discovering explosive devices at an elementary school playground, a place police believe ladue used as a testing ground. they say his deadly plan was to target students at waseca junior and senior high school and expected s.w.a.t. teams to kill him, a plan police say he originally wanted to carry out on april 20th to commemorate the massacre at columbine but didn't because it was easter sunday and school was not in session. >> we can either believe that this occurred as a result of a lucky break, or as i do, believe god was looking out for all of us. >> reporter: a small minnesota
2:51 am
town thankful this day their town didn't become just one more in a long list of tragic school shootings. cnn did reach ladue's mother, but she was unwilling to comment about her son. it's still also unclear if ladue has an attorney. he's being treated as a juvenile and his first court appearance is scheduled for may 12th. he's being charged with four counts of attempted first-degree murder, two counts of attempted criminal damage to property and six counts of possession of an explosive or incendiary device. nick valencia, cnn, atlanta. >> wow! just an incredible turn of events there. all right, horse racing season kicks off in the u.s. this weekend. if you have any friends that like big, colorful hats, surely, they're excited. we'll preview the kentucky derby for you next here on "cnn newsroom."
2:52 am
it is one of horse racing's biggest weekends of the year. the kentucky derby will be contested for the 140th time on
2:53 am
saturday, attracting more than 150,000 people to the city of louisville. i love the horses' names. that's what i like looking out for. francesca kimmani from our award-winning show. >> reporter: april means not only spring has arrived, but hopes abound in the bluegrass region of kentucky, and by the first saturday in may, all eyes are focused on churchill downs. the stage where many a brave and exhilarating performance has seen horses become legends. it's known as the greatest two minutes in sports. this is the 140th running of the kentucky derby and the allure and fascination of the race creates an event like no other. >> it's a great horse race, a world-class sports event and an event known around the world. it's a tremendous party that lasts for weeks coming up to the first saturday in may here in this community. then the day itself, all the color, the fashion, the food, the celebrity, all that comes together to make something truly
2:54 am
special that people want to reach out and embrace. >> reporter: it all started in 1875 with a horse race inspired by the epsom darby in england, and every year since then, people have seen a full field of the best 3-year-old thoroughbreds in the country competing for the garland of roses. >> when we get to derby day, i will definitely be very nervous. there's 90 minutes between the race before the kentucky derby and the derby itself, and we refer to that as the longest 90 minutes of your life, because you're just waiting and waiting and waiting, and then for two minutes, there's the derby and then it's over. >> reporter: a dream that many chase but only few accomplish. on average, just over 20,000 thoroughbreds are born in the u.s. every year, and being the favorite doesn't guarantee a win. even for this year's leading fancy california chrome, who's dominated his races leading into the derby, including the sneet derby. >> it's been a wild run, and the
2:55 am
horses brought me to this spot, you know what i mean? and i've never had a horse that had a fan base like this horse. it's been unbelievable, you know. he's like a rock star in california. that's what i call him all the time. >> reporter: this year, churchill downs is unveiling the conclusion of a full-scale renovation that modernized the grandstands, clubhouse and sound system. along with a brand new state-of-the-art 4k, high-definition video screen, now nobody has a bad view of the race. on race day, where dreams of a few will become reality and of many will be shattered, there's only one thing that is certain -- >> they're off in the kentucky derby, and that's all i know for now, because the horses determine what happens after that. >> reporter: francesca kimmani for "winning post." >> all right, this is happening today, so is the track going to be dry or muddy? let's bring in meteorologist samantha mohr at the world weather center. a big fan of being fashionable and having nice hats, i may say. >> well, of course! >> how do things look, sam? >> well, i'll tell you what, the
2:56 am
sunshine is returning. that's good news. i think the track's going to be a little muddy, though, because we had heavy rain earlier this week and that big rainmaker has pushed off after dropping some 8 centimeters of rain during the middle of the week. but as you can see, just a few clouds out there right now and we are seeing drier conditions. so, mostly sunny as we head towards race time this evening. winds out of the northwest at 15 kilometers per hour, and that temperature pretty comfortable at 23 degrees. so, perfect hat-wearing weather. and of course, they were out in their hats already here at churchill downs. well, they're not wearing the big hats. they have their little riders' caps. there's some beautiful, gorgeous hats, full of color. i love that pink and green. and i have to say, just looking at all these beautiful, embellished chapos and fascinators, it really, you know, makes you think of the history. of course, all this started back at the royal ascot in england. and of course, it came over to the united states with the
2:57 am
kentucky derby, and it's been now for about 150 years they have been wearing hats, fancier than this one, but i pulled out my best one for you, errol, because i know -- >> very nice. >> -- you like to see a lady in a proper hat. >> indeed. and sam moore, i'll put you out here, former miss georgia here in the usa. she knows all about style and how to look good. sam, you could teach me a thing or two. thanks so much. >> oh, pish-posh. >> thanks, sam, and thank you all for watching us here on "cnn newsroom." i'm errol barnett. we appreciate you kicking off your weekend with us. in the u.s., "new day" is around the corner. for everyone else, i'll have your top stories.
2:58 am
2:59 am
3:00 am
she's at the center of the donald sterling fire storm. now his alleged girlfriend is defending him. hear what she says about the infamous audio exchange and what sterling is saying about her. we are not stopping. that is the vow from ukraine with the pro-russian militants from the street and air. the violence is exploding. now, real fears this morning of an all-out sifrl war. >> more deadly than the flu. now this virus is in the u.s. for the very first time.