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tv   The Situation Room  CNN  April 29, 2014 2:00pm-3:31pm PDT

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as we go through the next couple of hours. >> a rough weather system, especially those outside of the area of raleigh, north carolina. please seek shelter. five tornado warnings outside the wall raully area. jennifer grey, thanks so much. that's it for "the lead." now i turn you over to wolf blitzer in the "situation room." mr. blitzer. >> jake, thanks very much. happening now, breaking news. >> effective immediately, i am banning mr. sterling for life. >> unprecedented punishment for the owner of los angeles clippers after racist remarks. will he be forced to sell his team as well. tornado threat, extreme risk of more deadly storms as victims still reeling from the latest disaster. will they face more in the coming hours? wreckage found. an australian company claims to have spotted plane degree from
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from the flight 370 search area. could the jet have crashed into the ocean thousands of miles away? i'm wolf blitzer and you're in the "situation room." this is cnn breaking news. >> we're following two major brecking news stories. unprecedented punishment held down from the nba, to donald sterling, the los angeles clippers owner. more on that in a moment. but first, there's another breaking story we're following. severe weather warnings right now covering 70 million americans and a threat of killer tornados. the risk right now is extreme in some of the very same areas that have been devastated only two days ago. let's go straight to the meteorologist, jennifer grey tracking the storms in the cnn weather center. tell our viewers, jennifer what they need to know right now. >> if you are in the south or north carolina, you need to be on the lookout for today. we have that moderate risk of severe weather. however, wolf, most of the
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tornado warnings we've seen today have actually been around the raleigh, north carolina area. here are the tornado watch boxes in effect right now. mississippi, alabama, a lot of areas were hit yesterday. you have the possibility of being hit with these strong storms again today and now we're looking at raleigh. and this is where we have seen these tornado warnings over the past hour or so. and they are crawling up interstate 95. that's not where you want to be right now. some of the more powerful storms we've seen outside of the fayetteville area, dunn. these are heading north and east until 9:15. affecting dunn and erwin. they keep going up. these are very powerful storms. they have a history of producing damage. if you're in bentenville and four oaks, you have a tornado warning for your area. wolf these storms are not letting up.
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they are starting to fire up again in mississippi and alabama, places similar to where we saw yesterday. we have a couple tornados touchdown outside the jackson area. we're starting to see strong storms develop outside of that city once again and then also in southern alabama, seeing showers and storms starting to fire up once again there, too. just on the youth side of montgomery. here's the severe thunderstorm warning in mississippi. just on the north side of i-20. that's going to cross into alabama, coming up into the hour or so. and we're still under that risk of severe weather for today. moderate risk. coverage places like jackson, birmingham, two places that were hit very hard yesterday, possibly again today. we're getting into the heat of the day, wolf. where we're going to see these showers and storms start to take off in the next couple hours. >> jennifer, we're getting video into the "situation room." this is out in stedman, north carolina. look at this funnel cloud that has developed. explain to our viewers who aren't familiar with this, how
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serious, potentially, this is. >> yeah. this is not your garden variety afternoon thunderstorms. these can be deadly. we've had deaths yesterday. and we also head deaths on sunday. this is something you want to take very seriously. it's a life or depth situation that can touchdown in a moment's notice. they can be very unpredictable on the ground. make a shovel to the north or south with little to know warning. when you see a tornado warning in your area, if you're anywhere in that vicinity. anywhere in those boxes that pop up, you need to immediately get to your safe spot, small interior room away from windows and stay there until it's safe. you don't want to be on the road for sure and not in a building that's not sturdy. we've seen the damage, seen the pictures and they are mind-blowing what we've seen the past couple days. >> north carolina as you point you the out in the bull's-eye right now. we'll be speaking with the governor of north carolina.
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we're watching all of these severe thunderstorm, potential tornados. much more on that come up. there's other news we're following. including breaks news. the most severe punishment ever handed down by the nba against the team owner. the nba is banning clippers' owner, donald sterling for life. over racist remarks in a phone call. he faces a 2,r$2,50,000 fine. we have coverage with reporters analysts, let start with susan malveaux, this is a powerful statement. >> it was very dramatic. this action was swift. it was necessary. it's become a huge distraction in the height of the playoffs, 12 response earps dropped or suspended sponsorships with the team. now that sterling is persona
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nongrata, where does that leave the clippers a team worth an estimated $575 million. and firestorm in the nba. >> l.a. clippers owner donald sterling is out. >> effective immediately i am banning mr. sterling for life from any association with the clippers' organization or the nba. >> reporter: after interviewing sterling and wrapping up its lightning speed investigation, the nba's commissioner adam silver delivered the blow. >> mr. sterling may not attend any nba games or practicing, he may not be present at any clippers' facility, and he may not participate in any business or player personnel decisions, involving the team. >> he will also be barred from attending nba board of governors' meetings or participating in any other league activity. >> sterling was also fined $2.5
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million, the maximum allowed under the nba constitution. money which would go to charity. justice was swift as well as the reaction. >> i believe that today stands as one of those great moments. where sports, once again, transcends, where sports provides a place for fundamental change, on how our country should think and act. >> it's going to be a new day here in this city. and a whole lot of clipper fans will have a lot more to smile about. >> let's hope this is an opportunity for all of us as player, former players, as a league, as a community, to help educate, and help take one step further to eradicating racism in our communities. >> we may be a two-team town but today we're behind one team. >> reporter: the ban comes after
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audio clips of racist rants with a conversation with v. stiff yano. >> yeah, it bothers me a lot that you want to broadcast that you're associating with black people. >> sterling has the three-fourths majority necessary from the other nba owners to force sterling to sell the team. national basketball players association said players threatened to boycott the games if sterling don't get the maximum penalty. now pushing the franchise owners to act quickly. >> we're not content yet. we want immediate action. we want a time table from the owners as far as when this vote's going to happen. >> silver also issued an apology to legendary figures of the league who were oh fended by sterling's comments, including magic johnson who had been specifically targeted by sterling in those tapes. he implored sponsors to come back. tonight all eyes will be on
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clinters game five to see how they play. also whether coach rivers or anyone from the league addresses the history that was made just hours before. we'll be watching. >> we certainly will. a powerful day indeed in the history of sports. i want to get more breaking news. joining us, len elmore, also joining us, jeffery h toobin and cnn's rachel nichols. how does this work, rachel? he makes the announcement, bans this guy for life but how does it work? >> the ban is going into effect now, within adam silver's power. donald sterling will not be around an nba team ever again. now, in terms of forcing him to sell the team, adam silver made a little power play by announcing to the public before go together owners and saying, i'm going to push and do everything in my power to get the owners to make this vote and force sterling to sell the team, he's putting it out there in
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front of the public and now owners will feel tremendous pressure. you heard rogeren saying, you want accountability. we want to know how our owner in our city is voting. during the press conference, i asked adam, have you done a policy? do you know you have done the votes? he said no, i haven't. he made a decision to put this out to the public first instead of going to the ownership first. by buy doing that, the pressure is going to come from a ground swell from the public and players from each of the teams pressuring these guys to vote one of their old cronies out. >> jeffery, he's a very, very legalistic kind of guy. he likes to sue people. he gets sued all of the time himself. what if sterling decides to sue the nba and say, i own the team, if i want to go to the game, i have every right to go to a game. >> he can sue, he has very little chance for success. this is not the government enforcing a penalty.
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this is not where you have the constitution involved. this is a contract. there is a contract between the owners and nba and the powers of the commissioner and powers of the other owners laid out there very clearly, and as far as we know, the contract itself is secret but based on what has come out and what silver said, this action today, both the penalties and attempt to get him out as an owner, are well within the commissioner's right, so, he can sue, anybody can file a lawsuit, but the chances of success seem basically zero. >> len elmore, dallas mavericks owner, mark cuban tweeted this. i'll put it up on the screen. he said i'm 100% with commissioner silver's findings and actions taken against donald sterling. do you expect all -- almost all of the own ares of nba teams to follow suit? >> oh, absolutely. i mean, this is a situation where you can't fall on another side of this issue. the only right side of the issue is the way it's been presented
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by the players, and by adam silver and by the rest of the nation. so, from that standpoint, i think every owner has to look at themselves, take a look at donald sterling and say, is this the type of person with whom we want to be associated? >> what did you think, len, of the actions announced today by the new nba commissioner? >> i thought it was outstanding leadership. i thought it was a great job, ensure swift and certainly severe punishment. that's what you need in these types of situations so there's no room for anyone to debate whether or not there's a true commitment to having an nba that is free of this type of racism. now, of this outward racism. we can't control what is in someone's head. but we certainly, from an nba standpoint, can control how it's presented and i think it's very important for adam to do what he did. i also believe that, from the standpoint of the players, i know kevin johnson mentioned, this is a defining moment and
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you look at the unified voices of these players, on this particular subject, i think they need to look at themselves, leverage those voices and power that they have in other areas, particularly issues, again, that you cannot fall on the wrong side of. such as childhood obesity, such as gang violence, and things of that nature. i think they can leverage their voices in that respect and move on and be a greater force in society. >> you make excellent point, len elmore, thanks very much. rach rachel, jeffery, stand by we'll have more of this discussion later. meantime we're following other breaking news. a fresh storm outbreak threatening the area hit by several storms. 70 million americans, at risk. we're tracking the story live. and we're watching the escalating prices in eastern ukraine. we're going there, live. did you know, your eyes can lose vital nutrients as you age?
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following more breaking new, a severe weather warning in effect right now covering some 70 million americans and there's a threat of killer tornadoes. the risk right now is extreme, and some of the very same areas that have been devastated now. two days in a row. we have reporters in the danger and disaster zones, plus, a critical realtime forecast. let's begin this coverage with cnn's brian todd. he's in athens alabama right now. what are you seeing there, brian? >> take a look at this neighborhood. west of athens this was a complex of duplex apartments and single family homes not much survived even home was strong
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foundations and support beeps like this one got blown away and unbelievably, these folks are not out of danger yet. >> it's moving to the right. >> reporter: pummeling of a historic scale. dozens of strong tornadoes kept come, battering southern states in waves over three days. northern mississippi, northern alabama have taken the brunt. and strong storms once again back in the region today. officials are bracing for more hits while trying to handle dangers from the last round. >> main thing is clearing roadways. of course we have a big problem with power poles down in the western portion of the county. >> reporter: power lines that could still be hot sheriff mike blakely said and could injury people rummaging through their homes. colin, his mother and stepmother were inside their house and somehow survived.
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colin showed us the area of the broom closet he jumped into, which is not there anymore like the other home. >> i got a blanket and pillow to cover up. in case it did hit, to save me from debris. as soon as i got down, not even covering myself up with a blanket. it just hits and i black out. >> sandra davis and her husband saw most of their home pulverized. sandra was in the duplex with son-in-law, daughter and grandchild when she heard the terrifying roar. i was in my bathroom with my dog under a big old futon and laid close to the floor. what is your feeling coming back and living in this place? >> i won't live here. >> reporter: no shelter as they're trying to assess damage. this neighborhood is in a wide-open area. if some residents are back here when the next round of storm cells hit, they'll be exploded. wolf. >> you're getting new information about the strength of monday's tornadoes?
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>> that's right. we heard from the national weather service. they issued a preliminary finding of two tornado, one that hit winston county, mississippi and rankin county, mississippi. one hit winston county was a strength ef-4. ly is 200-mile-an-hour assessment of wind damage. the second highest strength possible. the one that hit ran ding county was ef-3 below that. preliminary findings, so the final readings of these tornadoes might be a little different. those are two really strong tornadoes that hit those two counties yesterday. >> devastating, devastating information. let's go back to our weather expert. meteorologist chad myers, what are you seeing, where are you right now, chad? >> reporter: we are very close to columbus, mississippi close to the columbus air force base. traveling to the south, staying ahead of the storm near starkville mississippi, or mississippi state university where all of the meteorology
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majors go, now that they want to be on tv. we get south of those storms to look back at it to see if it's rotating. i don't want you to do this. if you take a look outside, please, if it's hailing, don't go out and look at anything at all. to be safe. you need to be aware there's something called, wolf the calm before the storm. i should say the calm before the tornado. if the storm is wrapped up like yesterday. mississippi and alabama. as it comes over you. you'll get hail storm and it hails. that's the storm on the back side of that hook. there's a small ion the back side of a supercell thunderstorm and that's the iyou're in for a while. that's the tornado. please go look at it. this will be a dangerous night. many of these happen after dark anyway. maybe keep the weather radio on. at least that radio will wake
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you up. >> very quickly, how extreme, unusual is it, three days in a row for these tornadoes? well, it happens probably once every other year. there have been much bigger outbreaks than this, no question about it. especially the day tuscaloosa, alabama got hit. that's a much bigger series of days than the three we have here. we still have the opportunity for a fourth day. that may be the most unprecedented as it moves to wednesday further east. this storm was a large bowling ball, in the middle of the country and had this been colder, we would have been talking feet, three feet, of snow in many, many big cities. we're kind of glad it's only rain but not glad when you get it warmer like the spring snowstorms furnace into tornado storms.
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we'll keep checking back with you. the images are very, very ominous. standing by this very dangerous situation. mississippi, north carolina, that's coming up. also a huge hunt for malaysian airlines. has a private company found debr debris, where nobody has been look. stay with us. you're in the "situation room."
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switch now and add voice and tv for $34.90. comcast business built for business. in the hunt for malaysian airlines, 370 brought an important milestone for the air yarl search plus a surprise nobody expected. let's go live to miguel marquez. he's outside earth, australia with the very latest. what are you learning miguel? >> the search has come to an end which is bittersweet for folks doing it. they weren't able to find anything from the missing airliner. this they're learning from a company that may have found it a very long way away but those who know something about the analysis say their claims don't just add up.
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as the under water search off australia enters a new phase, a private company is raising the possibility that flight 370 may actually have crashed several hundred thousands mile as way in the bay of bengal. they defected medals that could be from the missing plane. >> not saying it definitely is, however, it should bel followed up. . geo residence said the metals appeared in the bay sometime between march 5th and 10th. flight 370 went missing on the 8 8th. the company launched its own technology originally used for war planes and marines. the australian search team is dismissing the company's claims. it's satisfied the flight went down in the indian ocean.
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flight 370 families are urging investigators to explore every possible lead. . we would like to see the government follow up on this. it seems value i. >> reporter: many relatives of the missing passengers attended a briefing today in china and heard new details about the investigation. for the first time they were allowed to hear the actual recording of the final words between the tower and the cockpit before the radio contact was loss. finally, they have given to us. i think it is a good beginning. they'll want them to give more scenes. more acquired. >> back here in australia, more than 600 military personnel marked the end of the air search, potion in front of the planes they use to scan the social surface for six weeks. without finding any trace of flight 370. >> a couple things about the geo residence information.
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one, the agency center here in australia says that the place where they put that plane is not even on that northern arc. the malaysian government said they do look into it. friends we talked to said it's just impossible to see any things they said they saw under the ocean, under any sort of watt e-much less 1,000 meters down. wolf. >> mark is in perth, australia with the latest. thank you, miguel. there's lots to discuss. the former ntsb manager, our law enforcement analyst. former nba assister, and in denver, cnn safety analyst, author of an important book, why planes crash. you're familiar with this australian company, geo residence and you suggested it as a pretty good track record. do you think it's worthwhile to go into the bay of bengal and looking for wreckage?
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>> the experience i have, with this technology, is on land, not in water. so i can't really speak to whether or not it can reach into the water. but it's something we used before in the mining company to locate metals within the earth. that's not new. what is new, it's in water. there's that. so, with that, i think it is -- it does have credibility, but why it's coming out at this point, why it hasn't been vetted properly df this, that's why i still hold the question. >> that's a good question, party, apparently this australian company said they notified malaysian authorities. two weeks ago. they got no response as a result they decided to go public with this information. is it time to look in the bay of bengal? >> investigators are in a terrible bind. i think they probably responded to the company and should have respond and say, listen we don't think there's anything here. we don't think the technology is
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applicable and as they announced today it's not even on the arc. but at this point, since there's not a shred of evidence, they have to track down every suggestion. even if it's -- goes against the crane, do you think it goes in the bay of bengal and take a look? >> i think they're stuck. having this come up, as party mentioned not having any other evidence except satellite. they to do something or stall long enough to hope current searches come up with something first and they don't have to go up there. >> everyone seems to think the satellite information, so-called hand shakes that aren't going into the southern ocean, coupled with those four pings that were detectived from what they thought were one of the two black boxes, that was it, but they found nothing, so here's the question to you, how will i be able to emerse that data and those four pings? >> well, i'm still confident, wolf, that those are coming from that aircraft.
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i stayed firm with that. i think the pings are undeniable in my mind. i think the search has to continue. they went to the most probably ping but now they need to expand that search to the north, to the south. the reason i feel so strongly about that, wolf, no one has given me any evidence to the contrary. no one has said, well, then, it's this. or it's that. maybe they did something wrong. no one has been able to prove to me or show me there's anything else in the ocean that would produce those signals. until that's shown me-to-me i'll stick with that and confident until the aircraft is found they'll continue searching. >> they've given up the surface search but expand the surface underwater at the bottom of the indian ocean. you heard the audio, now, peter. we got the transcripts. they released the audio. it sounded relatively routine. here's the question. what took them so long. why couldn't they have released that audio several weeks ago and
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dealt with the anguish of those passengers' families. >> it's inexplicable. this was clearly a routine communication. it should have been released weeks ago. it would have calmed the families at a critical point. i have no idea. why they didn't release them. >> do you have any idea? you're a former assistant director? >> no, it's their paul whether they need to or not even when it's against their best interest to do it. they should have released it. it's much better with family, public with all of the criticism. everybody assuming they are hiding something. now seeing they're not hiding anything. they do things to hurt themselves. that's one of them. >> david, did you hear anything unusual in the audio between the cockpit and ground control? >> no, i sure didn't. nothing new, nothing unusual. now, there is information that can be gained from the recording itself by assessing the engine
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speeds. the involve the noises in the cockpit can give you clues as to how fast the aircraft is doing, at that point, we already knew that, we knew that information. there's really nothing to be gained there. the fact they hung on to it this long and didn't release it. that's inexplicable. >> peter, the prime minister of australia said they're ending the surface search. it's a waste of time. do you agree? >> absolutely. a few days earlier. these crews worked hard. they didn't find anything. now time to expand the underwater search, bring in new equipment, retest the theorys to see if three are in the right place and get ready for the log hau haul. >> what do you think? >> either the rema 6,000, an underwater vehicle. let them make the decision what the task is. are they looking in the three remaining pinger areas or going for the extended search? >> very quickly, david.
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if they go to the bay of bengal. and do a quick search where this australian company is, they've seen some reccage. looks like a plane. how long will it take to confirm or deny it's something valid? >> it will take very little time. we have an orion aircraft siting there. fly them up, call bangladesh. check in. they'll check it, the families will know it is or isn't that aircraft. >> guys, thanks very much. we're watching dangerous storms developing across the deep south right now. our reporters are in the field. they're responding to the latest threat, stand by for a live updates. also ahead, disturbing new evidence, violence in ukraine is now getting even more deadly. in pursuit of all things awesome, amazing,
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comcast business built for business. look at these pictures just coming in. violence spreading to more ukrainian cities today. just got this video showing pro russian demonstrators. government building in eastern ukraine. and you're today saying, should be a shame. he said his policies inviting anarchy and outrages for ukraine. that's not what u.s. intelligence shows. cnn's national security person is here. >> a few hours ago.
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the security council met to discuss militants. >> russia nairing back with penalties. russian president vladimir putin warned russia may block western participation in the multi billion dollar energy center. the war of words matched more and more by violence on the ground. this, say u.s. officials is not what deescalation looks like. ups of pro russian protesters, seizing yet another ukrainian government building in the east. local riot police tried and failed to diffuse the standoff. u.s. officials say every day there is growing evidence that russia is orchestrating the unrest even as russian officials
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repeatedly deny it. >> they somehow want to assert that these people moving in disciplined military formation to take over buildings and then bring the local separatists in to occupy the building while they move on to another building. they assert that these people are merely local activists. as we have made clear, those kinds of claims are absurd. they defy any common sense. >> with moscow continuing to brush off american and european economic sanctions, republican and democratic law makers continue to urge stronger action. including accepting repeated requests from ukrainian leaders for lethal military aid. in washington, i asked senator john mccain what that support would look like. >> you send weapons now. what kind of weapons specifically? >> look, they don't even have body armor, they don't have night vision capability. if it's all for light weapons i
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would give them antiarmour weapons as well and set up a long-term military assistance program. it it's a morale thing with them. help them like we've happied other countries in the past. >> reporter: one reason they're making clear to the military commitment is to nato allies. issuing a sharp warning to russia if it extends beyond ukraine. >> we have to make it absolutely clear to the kremlin that nato territory is in violatable. we will defend every single piece of them. >> reporter: when kerry made those comes he was speaking to foreign ministers closest to the ukraine, baltic states, poland. also worrying about russia's next steps infringing on their
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territory. another brutal pushback. deputy prime minister said new sanctions aimed at russia's rocket program might mite strand u.s. astronauts trying to reach the space station. they might want to use a trampoline instead. >> a lost money, hundreds of millions of dollars for the shuttle service for the international space station. let's see if that continues. all right, jim, thanks very much. every day in the "situation room" we get new pictures of demonstrators clashing with police in ukrainian city. nick peyton found disturbing new evidence of the killings happened to be caught on camera. he's joining us from one of the cities racked by violence. what do you see over there now? >> reporter: it's a hot bed of that much unrest now spread to the neighboring region as jim has just been telling you, here
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we're looking at in detail some of the more recent deaths on both side and quite what it's doing to raise emotions and hatred, frankly, in this part of ukraine. >> just a daily return from the protest to how many dead and injured outside of the seat of unrest. the river keeps yielding grim news. first, the naked bodies of a politician and activist grabbed by suspected pro russian militants 12 days ago and then monday a third body, still to be identified. police told us the bodies were found 2 meters out into the river, weighed down with place tick bags of sand. the third one, though, not found until later. because it was weighed down with a military style backpack. >> here, away from the surreal synthetic sense of revolt, there was a chilling repeated brew
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tat. eight pattern changing how ukrainians will live with each other, each man killed, we're told, by a large knife to the chest. they wouldn't talk at the morgue but investigators told us off camera all three bodies had torture marks from knives, and are being treated as one case. [ speaking in foreign language ] >> death enraged both sides, though. days earlier, we saw them mourning after being shot at a check point during an army raid. he was buried where he always lived, a sprawl of farmland, rich in beauty, but not in opportunity, for a man who would have turned 22 this day. his father was a soviet soldier.
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we're all fighting for our land, he tells me. there will be no fascists here. the region won't be put on its knees. some fight for their wallets, others die here. he was fighting to live with dignity, born when the soviet union collapsed then died. what did he die for? alexander's brothers and friends stopped the interview. intruders to a grief they never expected, so public, so incendiary, so central to ukraine's bid to stay home. wolf, the key thing, weeks ago we were talking about how many government buildings were in control of these pro-russian protesters, now, sadly, most days we talk about a number of injured or dead here. what is so important about what happened today at the hands of an entirely separate region. a region between donetsk where
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all of this has been happening. perhaps completes that territorial grip if you view this as a bid by moscow to annex this part of ukraine. people are wondering >> nick paton walsh, be careful over there. we'll stay in close, close touch with you. other news we're following, including breaking news. storms rolling across some of the same areas already devastated by killer tornados. we're there live. we're tracking the storms. plus, the other breaking new story we're working, the unprecedented punishment handed down against the owner of the los angeles clippers. he is now banned from the nba for life. >> it's not true. >> not true?
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we got a picture of a funnel cloud courtesy of our affiliate wral in north carolina. look how ominous that looks right now. this is part of the breaking news. we're watching the severe tornado threat, a severe weather warning right now covering about 70 million americans. our meteorologist jennifer grey is tracking all of it at the cnn severe weather center. what are we seeing, jennifer? >> some of the most powerful storms this afternoon have been in north carolina, right outside of raleigh, where you are just talking about. we have one tornado warning right now that was just issued. you can see just to the south of rocky mount, headed towards the mt. hamilton area. this includes cities of princeville, so be on the lookout for this. this lasts until 6:45 eastern time, wolf? >> all right, jennifer, don't go
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too far away. our reporters there in some of the areas already under a tornado threat right now. look at these pictures just coming in, plus the other breaking news story we're following. the owner of the l.a. clippers banned from the nba for life over racist remarks. dear sun, you created light. you are loved. celebrated. but things have changed since you got into this business. at philips, we're creating led light that people can color... adjust... even make beautiful sunsets. dear sun, you might be number one, but we're getting closer. innovation and you philips
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happening now, breaking news. severe weather danger. 70 million americans are now at risk. parts of the south are in the bullseye right now for another possible outbreak of deadly tornados. banned for life. the nba comes down hard on the owner of the l.a. clippers after confirming he did make racist remarks. stand by for new reaction to this unprecedented punishment. also, first on cnn, the secret recording of secretary of state john kerry making a stunning remark behind closed doors. you're going to hear for yourself the words that are sparking some serious international outrage. and is it the missing plane? a private firm claims it's found
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wreckage that could be, could be, the flight 370. we want to welcome our viewers in the united states and around the world. i'm wolf blitzer. you're in "the situation room." this is cnn breaking news. >> get to the breaking news this hour, round three of an intense outbreak of violent storms. we're getting reports that several funnel clouds have been spotted in north carolina. a tornado warning is now in effect. also right now, mississippi and alabama, they are also bracing for tornados, hail, and high winds. about 70 million people in the eastern half of the united states there are at risk for severe weather in the hours ahead. our correspondents are in the danger zone right now. we're tracking the storm in cnn's severe weather center. let's check in with chad myers. he's just arrived in macedonia, alabama. what are you seeing there, chad? >> reporter: moving away from mississippi, wolf, and into
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alabama, i believe the energy of this system has shifted to the east, but some good news. this is maximum heating. we're 5:00 here central time. this is the hottest part of the day, and it never really warmed up. not like yesterday, so, therefore, we may be seeing a slight decrease in the potential for these storms. i just don't see them all going as super cells right now. they are bunching together. and think about this, if you have one bowl of food and you have one dog, if you let that dog eat all that food, he's going to be a big dog. if you have the same bowl but six dogs, they share the same food, you have six little dogs, not one big one. so if you have to share the food, share the moisture, the storms don't get as big. that's what we're hoping for tonight, these line up, clump together, and don't become the super cells we had yesterday. >> we'll find out, chad, stand by. i want to go to athens, alabama, right now where residents took a serious hit from the storms, now bracing for more. brian todd is on the scene for us. what's going on over there,
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brian? >> reporter: wolf, they are bracing for more storms here and we can illustrate some of the danger, some of the dangerous and dark storm cell clouds building here for the first time today here near athens, alabama. officials here talking about all sorts of dangers that residents face, not only from the storms today, but just coming back to these areas and trying to pick through the rubble of their homes. they have gas leaks reported in these areas and those are very dangerous because of the obvious factor of, you know, when you poke around these areas and going through wreckage, you're not going to detect a gas leak right away, it may present a danger later. also downed power lines. the sheriff of this county told me there are a lot of downed power lines still in this county. it's very easy to stumble upon them in these areas and possibly hurt yourself. another big danger, and this is one we can attest to for our crew here, look at this, this 2x4, a lot of nails sticking up out of boards and planks in this area. a couple of members of our crew got slightly injured today
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stepping on these. you can't see a lot of them popping up out of there. still, people are determined, wolf, to come back and salvage any part of their lives. check this out, family came to salvage toys for their kids, toy motorcycle, trophies over here, yearbooks, priceless items their kids want to save and are willing to undergo risks to come back and get some of this, wolf. >> brian, stand by. we have the governor of alabama, robert bentley, joining us right now. governor, thanks very much for joining us. give us an update, what's happening in alabama? >> well, of course, we went through a very rough night last night. unfortunately, we lost three of our citizens, and we had a lot of damage, especially around athens and limestone county and other parts of the state also. we're bracing for another line, as you know, that's coming across, and we'll just have to wait and see, but we're well prepared. we have a lot of safe rooms that
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were built after the 2011 tornados, and people are well prepared. >> we know, one of those lost was a university of alabama student, a swimmer. tell us about that if you can, governor. >> yeah, that's so unfortunate. we lost one of our students at the university of alabama. he was a swimmer. and it's just unfortunate that we lose anyone in this state, but especially a young person like that. >> tell us what you expect in the next few hours, governor. >> well, we're awaiting the -- actually, the national weather service felt like if it warmed up a lot over the next few hours, that we would have more storms. it has remained cloudy today, so i think that has helped us. and the national weather service thinks that may have helped us also. >> do you need federal aid? >> we have applied for federal
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assistance on the -- not on the top level, but a level so that it will help with debris removal and for emergency services and this sort of thing. >> what advice, governor, do you have for the folks in alabama? >> well, just tonight to be aware of the surroundings, listen to the weather radio, listen to television, be prepared, go to a safe place. certainly, go to some of the community safe rooms that we prepared and, of course, individual safe rooms, invite your neighbors in. >> governor, good luck to you. good luck to everybody in alabama, good luck to everyone in the area, in the south, especially who are facing these serious thunder -- these thunderstorms and even tornados. robert bentley's the governor of alabama, good luck. >> thank you. >> thank you. let's go to the cnn severe weather center, our meteorologist, jennifer gray, has the latest information. what is it, jennifer? >> well, we still have that tornado warning in effect for
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north carolina. surprisingly, that's where a lot of the energy has been this afternoon. it's been in north carolina, which wasn't even in that moderate zone, but still under the risk of thunderstorms for the entire east coast. edgecomb county under this tornado warning until 6:45, including the city of princeville. so if you're in the path of this storm, seek shelter immediately. this has been a very powerful line of storms in north carolina, but as the evening goes on, wolf, i really believe most of the energy, just as chad said, will be focused in the south, mainly into those portions of central alabama. we've had some severe thunderstorms in portions of mississippi, alabama, and even the florida panhandle, and, unfortunately, a lot of areas that were hit hard yesterday could see this same situation for today. maybe not quite as large of tornados, but we still could see severe weather in those areas. and when you get winds of 60 and 70 miles per hour in areas that were already devastated by tornados, it can pick up that debris that's laying all over the ground and carry it and
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throw it, and it acts almost as little missiles, and so it's very, very important to get in a safe zone when you're in these areas, especially those areas that were hit yesterday. you can see the line of strong storms right there that are pulling to the east towards the birmingham area, along i-20. still a couple of hours away, so these are some of those storms we're going to be watching over the next couple of hours, wolf. >> when you say safe zones, jennifer, tell our viewers what a safe zone is. >> everybody should have a plan, especially under the risk of severe weather. the safest place to be in a tornado warning is to a small interior room at the lowest level of your house. you don't want to be on a second floor or higher, you want to be on the bottom if you don't have a basement, away from windows, a closet, a bathroom, are all good ideas. >> and basically right now, and i hear you saying, jennifer, north carolina, alabama, still mississippi. where else are the most serious
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problems going forward? >> that's where the focus is going to be, mainly in mississippi, on into alabama. that's where that severe risk is, the moderate risk for today. that's where we've been heating up the atmosphere. that's where most of the energy will be. as we go into the overnight hours, we're going to start to look at places like georgia, and this is going to be a big rain event, as well. we could see several inches of rain in georgia going through the morning hours, but for the strong storms, mississippi, alabama, and on into georgia as we go through the hours of the morning. >> check back with you soon, jennifer, because new information is coming in. joining us on the phone, myra hilliard. myra, tell us what it was like, what did you see? >> well, first of all, i've never been so scared in my entire life. it had been raining very, very hard here in the neighborhood in steadman, and i heard it and i got up and looked out my front door and it had started hailing.
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i sat back down and was playing on my ipad, then a few minutes later i heard a lot of ruckus outside. i wasn't really sure what i was hearing, and i got up and went back to my front door again, and when i looked out, i have a large river birch tree in my yard and it had almost bent double touching the ground, and i looked back over to my right across the street, behind the wood line, and up in the air i saw a dark funnel cloud just whirling, and at that point of time, i got so scared, slammed my door, grabbed my cell phone, jumped in the tub and called my husband, because i was home alone. it was just so frantic. >> you actually ran and hid inside the bathtub, which they say is one of the safe zones. and how long did that fear last, really, as it was going over your house? >> i looked back on my phone later after things kind of
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calmed down out here. i made the phone call to my husband at 3:56 this afternoon, and i want to say three or four minutes, maybe less than that. i mean, you know, when you're involved in hearing that and you're seeking shelter, you know, everything's just so crazy. you're so scared, but when i was in the bathtub, things kind of got quiet. i said honey, it sounds quiet, i'm going to go look out. he was scared and said, no, don't leave that bathroom, but i kind of peeked through the door and could see through a bedroom window things seemed calm outside, so i opened the front door again and i was looking out the front door, one of my neighbors next door had come out, david, and he was coming towards my yard picking up debris as he was going, and looking at the damages in the neighborhood. and in that same wood line, again, across the street, i hollered. i said, oh, my god, david, look. there's another funnel cloud.
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you know, and it was just crazy. that funnel cloud, i don't really know what happened to it. i don't know where it went. it did not come back our direction, but it was -- i just have never been so scared. i just thank god that, you know, there was no immediate damage, you know, no homes were just toppled or anything like that. it was a lot of debris, a lot of trees down. a lot of roofs damaged, but thank goodness that nobody was injured in our neighborhood. >> thank goodness, indeed. you're okay, your family's safe? everybody's okay? >> yes. i was just scared. that's all i can say, i was just scared. >> i don't blame you, myra hilliard, thanks for sharing and for the pictures, too, that you shared for our viewers. cnn's martin savidge in birmingham, alabama, what's going on over there, martin? >> reporter: wolf, so far it's been quiet, but the weather does appear to be building up to
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something. we've gone from what were sunny and pleasant skies to what are looking gray and far more ominous, the wind's picking up and the radar is indicating storms coming this way. it's the second night for birmingham and much of alabama they are ready for storms. last night came and there was damage in several parts of this state, including a number of deaths. birmingham, not so bad, a few brushes with tornados, but tonight they are much more on edge, keeping an eye on the radar and outside their windows. but right now, no severe weather in sight. wolf? >> martin savidge in birmingham for us. tornado threats continue to escalate. other news we're following, still ahead -- >> the views expressed by mr. sterling are deeply offensive and harmful. that they came from an nba owner only heightens the damage and my personal outrage.
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>> the nba commissioner comes out swinging at the owner of the l.a. clippers after confirming he made racist remarks. will the punishment stick? we're going to talk about the possible legal fallout. and the man who exposed some stunning remarks by the secretary of state john kerry standing by to join us live. he's sharing the secret recording of kerry's comments. you'll hear it for yourself first right here on cnn. avo: wherever your journey takes you the expedia app helps you save with mobile-exclusive deals
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♪ foghorn sounds loudly continuously ♪ oh come off it captain! geico. fifteen minutes could save you fifteen percent or more on car insurance. it's called truecar. and truecar users... save time and money. so when you're... ready to buy a car, make sure you... never overpay. visit today. "crossfire" won't be seen tonight. there's a huge sports story breaking today with important national implications for race relations in the country. this afternoon, the nba commissioner banned the los
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angeles clippers owner, donald sterling, for life for making racist comments that the commissioner calls, "deeply offensive and harmful." sterling's former girlfriend recorded the racist rant earlier this month. ever since sterling's comments came to light over the weekend, major sponsors have been disassociating themselves from the l.a. clippers, and just a few hours ago, the nba commissioner announced an unprecedented punishment. >> effective immediately, i am banning mr. sterling for life from any association with the clippers organization or the nba. i am also fining mr. sterling $2.5 million, the maximum amount allowed under the nba constitution. as for mr. sterling's ownership interest in the clippers, i will urge the board of governors to exercise its authority to force
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a sale of the team and will do everything in my power to ensure that that happens. >> powerful words from the new nba commissioner. rachel nichols was at the news conference today when he made those comments, joined now by don lemon and jeffrey toobin. so he's being fined the maximum, rachel, $2.5 million. obviously, for a guy worth about $2 billion, that's not a huge sum of money, but what's much more important is that he is banned for life from going to nba games, doing anything with the team he still owns. >> that's truly hitting him where he hurts, because this guy has a huge ego, he loves being the one who sits in the front row on the side, he loves having everyone come up to him and know him and see him as the owner of the clippers and the fact that will not happen anymore, there is no question that is a huge blow, but there are still some questions here, wolf, because the woman sitting next to him at those games is the woman you see
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on screen right now, his estranged wife, so to speak, shelly. she doesn't look so estranged, that's tmz catching them going to dinner just last night. and i got to tell you, she denounced him publicly as a racist, yet in this video, the photographer asked her if her husband is a racist and she says, no, it's not true. this is all relevant, because adam silver said today in his press conference that no members of donald sterling's family will be banned from the team and there are questions about whether shelly can gain controlling interest in the team, because she is a part owner. so this is a woman who has been supportive at times over the years of her husband's activities, including some very questionable participation in his discrimination in the housing issues that he was slammed for by the u.s. justice department, and she may still have a role in this team, so there's still some questions to be answered here, especially in light of that video shot last night. >> she is a part owner, jeffrey toobin.
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legally, where does she stand right now as far as the future of the clippers, assuming he's kicked out? >> well, she is not banned from association with the team, but historically, she has had no leadership role with the team. a lot depends on what precisely the owners do at this point, because three-quarters of them can vote to order him to sell the team. now, i suppose they could try some legal mumbo jumbo that might sell the team to her. adam silver's a lawyer, they have very good lawyers. they are going to make sure all the ts are crossed and they get the team away from the sterling family. how precisely that works and when it works, i don't know, but that family is not going to own the team. >> don, what did you think of the punishment? >> she's got $1.9, almost 2 billion reasons not to speak ill of this man. she should have come out immediately and said that is my husband's voice on the tape. she could not have been married to him all those years and have
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kids with him and not know he's a racist. it's ridiculous. while i sat up on my couch today watching you and brooke and cheered, i was upset because the family can still own the team. the brother-in-law works for the team, the wife can still own the team, it's ridiculous. i know according to the nba bylaws it's only $2.5 million. it would be great if it was $2.5 billion and the family could no longer own the team. >> because that's the maximum financial punishment. >> right. >> go ahead, rachel. you want to make a point? >> yeah, there's a report in "the daily news" citing sources saying she might get temporary stewardship of this team, running the team, while they are in this in between period waiting to see what the board of governors do. the clippers have said officially so far today after silver's announcement they are going to wait until after tonight's game, then spend the next day or two sorting out who will run the team, but there are some reports starting to surface she's going to try to step into
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that role, and i think there will be people very concerned about that, not only is there that video from her last night, as don mentioned when she was asked to authenticate her husband's voice on that tape, she said, gee, i don't know if it's him. >> she said nothing. she said nothing. >> look at the praise that adam silver has gotten from everywhere, from magic johnson, from mark cuban, the owner of the dallas mavericks, who's been frequently tangled with the management of the nba. they are not going to allow the sterling family to run this thing. i just think this is ultimately a false worry that the sterlings are somehow going to keep a hand in. he has the united world of basketball behind him, the owners, the players, he's not going to jeopardize that so mrs. sterling can continue running the team. >> mrs. sterling is still going to the games. she was at the game this weekend, which everyone was thought was in poor taste. if you know what's happening with your husband, i think most people who had any couth would say, you know what, this is a very tough time for the team,
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the team is out there to win a game, i'm going to be in the crowd and possibly a distraction. if i care anything about the team, i'm going to sit my butt at home and watch. >> clippers put out a statement, and i'll put it up on the screen, we wholeheartedly support and embrace the decision by the nba and commissioner adam silver today. now the healing process begins. so what do you make of that? i don't know who at the clippers put that out. obviously, the owner of the clippers didn't put it out, the general manager, the president. what's your sense? >> yeah, you know, the clippers were asked that and the p.r. people said it's from the whole organization. so there's just a lot of confusion back there right now about what is going on, who is running things. the good thing is, the coach of the clippers is one of the most respected people in the nba. certainly, wolf, you know that, and has a management title with them, as well. so he is going to have a strong hand going forward, no matter who is officially in charge,
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he's going to have a lot to say about the direction of this team, and that's a good thing, because those players look up to him, have been dependent on him throughout the entire crisis, and they were willing to follow him, in or out. doc rivers said there was some discussion about whether they should boycott their games, definitely discussion pending silver's announcement today if the players didn't like what adam silver said, they were going to walk out and not play the game, but it was doc who basically brought them in the other day and said give the commissioner a chance to figure this out and do an investigation. they were ready to walk out a few days ago, he calmed everybody down and said it was smart to trust the nba to do the right thing, and according to the same players, that trust was well placed, because they like what the nba did today. >> i have no doubt at least someone who's watched the nba, don, for so many years that at least a dozen owners have already come out with strong statements endorsing what adam silver said today. i have no doubt three-fourths of the owners, they are going to support what he did and try to
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force sterling to sell the team. >> i think you're probably right, and to pick up, you know, much more about basketball than i do because you're a big wizards fan, we know that, but to pick up on what jeffrey toobin said, i'm not talking about adam silver here, he did a very good job, dropped the hammer and acted quickly and concisely and did the maximum of what he could do. what i'm voicing is, is what most people would like to see happen, most people would not like to see that family in control of that team, and i think you're right, wolf. i think when it all comes down to it, i think that most of the team owners will vote for him not to have the team, but i also think he's probably going to sell it before they get to that point. >> if he does sell it, this consolation prize is he could get close to a billion dollars for a team he bought in 1981 for $10 or $11 million. we'll see what happens tonight, the clippers are playing the golden state warriors at home. we'll see who shows up from the family sitting in that front
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row. we'll be watching. all right, guys, thanks very much. other breaking news we're following, including in ukraine right now, violence spreading to another city, and it's brutal. look at this, pro-russian activists took over a government building, at the same time, a top russian official lashed out at the u.s. and europe for imposing another round of sanctions. the ukrainians are preparing for a russian invasion, they say. our senior international correspondent arwa damon is along the russian-ukrainian border. >> reporter: wolf, all along the ukrainian-russian border, there are indications of a nation readying itself for war, but at the same time, the pro-russian camp appears to be digging in and gaining even more ground, despite the ukrainian troop buildup. amid eastern ukraine's fertile farmlands and a soviet era abandoned tractor warehouse, the men are called to attention. they are part of a troupe
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buildup that began in march, after the speed of russia's annexation of crimea caught kiev by surprise. there are possibilities it could also happen here at the border with russia. the number two in charge tells us. these border guards, the first line of defense, deployed from their base in central ukraine. half of them are still in training. border crossings throughout have been re-enforced with massive concrete barricades and sand bags. a gaping trench snakes through the landscape. in that direction, this trench extends all the way to the sea, it's about 100 kilometers or 60 miles. and trenches similar to this one are being dug by ukrainian authorities all along the border with russia as they continue to get ready for a war. ukraine hopes it will be able to avoid. perched on a hilltop, but not visible from a road, a paratrooper unit that also deployed in march. we spot their men in the field, but are not allowed to film.
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camouflage into the landscape is a small unit of ukrainian para troopers. a less than two-minute drive down the road, one of the barricades set up by the pro-russian camp. the threat from within ukraine's borders, more immediate and menacing. as we were out filming, kiev lost control of yet another government building. this time in luhansk. the police doing nothing to stop the pro-russians as they smashed windows and declared themselves the authority. for the people living along the border, it was a boundary in name only. now potentially, these scenic, tranquil hills could become just one of many front lines. and the actions by key players are really not helping the situation, only seeming to further polarize it. the government in kiev deciding to fire the police chiefs in donetsk and in luhansk, rather than trying to somehow reach out and look for a political solution. wolf?