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Crimean Crisis Continues; Viability of Economic Sanctions Against Russia Examined; Pricey NYC Restaurant Drops Grades in Health Inspection; More States Moving to Legalize Marijuana;

Aired March 6, 2014 - 07:00   ET


ANDERSON COOPER, CNN HOST, "AC 360": Essentially the Crimean parliament has indicated their intention to join Russia, and they want to put it to a referendum in Crimea, to a vote in Crimea. And as you said, from the perspective of Ukrainian government officials in the central government of Kiev, the idea of having a referendum is not legal. They even said that the parliament there in Crimea is not legitimate. I can tell you certainly this is not something anybody here in Kiev supports. The focus here when you talk to protestors is on trying to keep Ukraine together, trying to keep it together as one country, not allow portions to break away. And people here continually say that the pretext Russia has used, the idea that Russian speaking people, ethnic Russians in eastern Ukraine or in Crimea have been attacked or under threat is simply not the case and that there's no direct evidence of that, Chris.

CHRIS CUOMO, CNN ANCHOR: So we're not seeing any proof of that primary allegation from Putin, that that's why it's a humanitarian mission because of attacks against Russians. That's important to get out there. What are you seeing in terms of the ability for people on the ground there to do the hard work of forging democracy in the face of this threat from Russia, how big a distraction is it?

COOPER: I mean it's a huge distraction. The government here in Kiev, it's an interim president. It's a new prime minister, very young officials. It is a shaky government at best. They plan to have elections. There are several leading candidates for that.

But a military conflict, a military confrontation, even a diplomatic confrontation with Russia is certainly the last thing this new government needs. There are serious economic issues here. There are serious corruptions. This is what the protestors fought for initially against the former regime. And as you know the former president is in Russia.

But a lot of the protestors here, Chris, as we've been reporting, they are staying here. They're not leaving because they're not confident that the new government will actually institute the changes that they have demanded and fought for and died for. They're saying they're going to maintain these defensive positions they've maintained in the heart of Kiev until they see real change here.

CUOMO: And I think that's a really important thing you've been accomplishing in your reporting there throughout the week is that there's a lot of unfinished business in terms of stabilizing the country regardless of the Russian threat. Anderson, thank you very much, appreciate the good work on the ground. We'll watch you tonight.

COOPER: Thanks, Chris.

KATE BOLDUAN, CNN ANCHOR: Another thing on Putin's mind of course has to be sanctions, the international economic punishment that would try to prevent Russia from doing business with many countries in order to try to get him to change his mind and back down. But are such sanctions really feasible when Russia and Europe are so tied with regard to their trade? Richard Quest is here with us to explain. So the sanctions are still being considered.


BOLDUAN: But the question has to be, are they even feasible, because it's pretty tricky when it comes to Russia.

QUEST: That is exactly the word I was about to use. It is tricky when you look at providing sanctions. And the reason is not just simply political or economic or geopolitical. I want to show you a little bit more about how this is all going to work out. Can the world freeze out the Russian economy? If you take a look and see exactly the nature of the trade flows that go between the different countries. That worked extremely well, didn't it? Let's see highway we can work out how that one comes back again.

BOLDUAN: Here I come to the rescue.

QUEST: There's the colors. Now can they work out the freeze? OK, so let's work out who has which money going in which direction. The United States has a net export-import level of about $38 billion. Compare that to the EU's number which is some $480 billion. As you can see the European Union has a much greater number in which it has a vested interest.

Look at -- just a minute. Easy, easy. Look at the countries we're talking about. You're talking about PepsiCo. You're talking about McDonald's. BP, Carlsberg, 40 percent of Carlsberg's beers and alcoholic beverages are in Russia. And you're talking about Exxon Mobile along with its Russia joint venture.

BOLDUAN: When you talk about how they are tied, this all really does come down to gas and energy, though, right?

QUEST: Gas and energy. That's why here you'll see BP and Exxon Mobile forming so much. And that's also why you'll see that very large number from the European Union -- $480 million net versus $38 billion net for the United States. Look at this. This is the pipeline that goes across from Russia where all that gas goes into Ukraine and out into western Europe and large parts of the European Union. And if we look at the countries involved -- I would try to bring up the picture and color again -- there she comes.

BOLDUAN: There are your colors, Richard. Which one? QUEST: Any one. You're really good. We should do this often.

All right, so let's look and see exactly the countries that are involved here. If you're talking about the west, you're talking about the U.K., they get very little, maybe up to 20 percent of their oil and gas from the Ukraine. By now you start to talk about Germany and this middle part, and you're talking about considerably more. Maybe between 40 and 80 percent of their natural gas comes across that pipeline we saw earlier.

And then you get to the countries like the Czech Republic, Belarus right on the border, Poland, you get to these countries. Now you see those flows coming through Ukraine much more power any, and these countries will be badly affected. That's the way it comes together.

And when you put those numbers -- those numbers again, if you remember, $460 billion from -- versus Europe and $38 billion versus the United States. So it's really very simple for the United States to sort of decide it wants to talk about sanctions. It doesn't have that much to lose economically. Europe has a lot to lose.

BOLDUAN: When you see that, and that truly is the reality why Germany and other European countries have been balking and moving ahead on sanctions, do you think it's possible?

QUEST: No. In a word, I think they will fiddle around at the edges. You're talking about sanctions, asset freezes, visa restrictions, all these sorts of things. But fundamentally -- and we haven't talked about all the financial implications for, say, the city of London. Ultimately what you're going to be looking at is some form of screw tightening.

BOLDUAN: Small things --

QUEST: Making it hurt so that they put pressure on Putin, by full scale sanctions, you will not get the EU members like Germany, like the U.K. to go along with.

CUOMO: They actually passed a law to do exactly that, where you can go after targeted people instead of going after the overall country, because if you want to understand why there's a reluctance now, you just have to look back to 2008 when Russia went into Georgia. All these politics played out then and they also a problem with sanctions.

QUEST: Big report out yesterday on the wealth of the world which showed the amount of wealth coming from Russia and being spent in London. It's not going to happen in that sense. Keep in mind those big companies, tit for tat sanctions would hurt everybody, but the trade flows are primarily Europe to Russia.

BOLDUAN: The question is, can you do a bunch of small things that would have a cumulative effect to isolate Russia enough? I don't know.

QUEST: That's exactly what they're going to try and do. Turn the heat up. Turn the screw, whichever analogy you want to use. CUOMO: And again, you look back, Google 2008 and what happened in Georgia with Russia and what the U.S. wound up doing, what the partners wanted, and you will see what probably will happen here. Richard Quest, you laid it out beautifully. Thank you. I apologize from the monitor. Huge assist from Kate Bolduan, though, huge.

Other news breaking overnight, there was a big scare to tell you about -- 48 passengers and crew on board an American eagle jet. The plane forced to make an emergency landing shortly after takeoff from Dallas Fort Worth after the pilots reported smoke in the cockpit. The flight lasted a total of eight minutes. The passengers praised the crew for keeping everyone calm during the incident. No word yet on what caused that smoke.

BOLDUAN: Breaking overnight, a NATO airstrike in eastern Afghanistan goes fatally wrong. Five Afghan soldiers were killed, several others wounded. NATO officials say the deaths were an accident. The strike is under investigation this morning.

CUOMO: Also happening right now, more gripping testimony at the Oscar Pistorius murder trial, a doctor first on the scene describing Reeva Steenkamp's body in vivid detail. He also says Pistorius was crying and praying his girlfriend would live. Also key here, the doctor testifies Pistorius told him he did shoot Steenkamp thinking she was a burglar. In court Pistorius was said to be convulsing as his injuries were described with his head down, his hands over his ears, and it was very difficult for him as the doctor testified.

BOLDUAN: President Obama making a major health care push at the White House today. He's holding a town hall touting the Affordable Care Act to the Latinos. The event is happening right after, though, the White House announced another extension in the law, a two-year extension for some health insurance policies, avoiding possible midterm elections insurance cancellation.

CUOMO: The president can expect to take big hits at the event that starts today as some big heavy-hitters start one of the conservative political action committees, the conference or C-PAC. They're having a big meeting today. White House hopefuls Chris Christie, Bobby Jindal, Senators Ted Cruz and Marco Rubio, are all speaking today. The GOP will try to use the conference to bridge the gap between mainstream Republicans and the hard right.

BOLDUAN: We could be seeing a major breakthrough in the fight against HIV in newborns. A second American baby born with the disease was apparently cured after being treated with retroviral drugs in the hours after birth. Clinical trial on a larger sample of newborns is set to begin in the spring, but this could be huge.

JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: Let's take a look at some of the big headlines in the papers this morning. In the "New York Times" Senate Democrats standing up, several of them, to President Obama, rejecting his nominee to lead the Justice Department's civil rights division, and the White House furious. The nominee was the litigation director of the NAACP when it represented a man convicted of killing a police officer as he appealed his death sentence. Conservatives mounted a campaign against the nomination, but ultimately it was seven Democrats who killed it.

"The San Francisco Chronicle," the story about the head of Space X, Elon Musk, he wants the Pentagon to use his company's rockets to launch military satellites. He told lawmakers his competitors used engines made in Russia and that this could pose a problem if the U.S. imposes sanctions. Officials from Lockheed Martin and Boeing say they have plenty of the Russian engines in stock and they can build their own if they need to.

And the "Wall Street Journal" has a scathing analysis, showing more than 1,600 stockbrokers did not report criminal charges and other past transgressions, which were also missed by regulators. One man had a bankruptcy, a tax lien, unpaid debt, and filed a false police report all in less than two years. The problems are reported to insure investors can trust their brokers.

CUOMO: Thanks, John. A high-ranking military official faces sex charges, but he may avoid prison time by pleading guilty to lesser charges. Attorneys for brigadier general Jefferson Clair say he will have to admit having sex with several female subordinates. But they say he will not plead guilty to threatening to kill his main accuser or pulling rank to force her to continue their relationship.

BOLDUAN: Now in Alabama, challenging legal abortion. The state house has passed several restrictive bills. One would ban abortion if a fetal heartbeat is detected, and send doctors who don't comply to prison. The female lawmakers who sponsored the bill says it's designed to challenge Roe v. Wade. Critics say the state is inviting an expensive lawsuit. The legislation still has to clear Alabama's state senate and get the governor's signature.

CUOMO: Listen to this one, the College Board announcing major revisions to the SAT scores. They're going to go back to the 1600 point scale down from the 2400. The essay is going to be optional, which means not mandatory, and students will not be penalized for a wrong answer. Also certain vocabulary words will be dropped from the SAT in favor of those more commonly used. The change is scheduled to take effect in 2016. Very interesting.


CUOMO: You know what else is interesting, I'm not about to tell you that it's really cold and it's going to stay that way.


CUOMO: Shocking. I know. I had to check the prompter twice. That's what Indra Petersons, our meteorologist is saying is the new story. There's a new trend in weather?

INDRA PETERESONS, AMS METEOROLOGIST: That's right. I like to call today Friday eve, right, Thursday, we're so close. So why not talk about the weekend? Temperatures are going up. You are right. Not even going up, but to above normal. Boston in 47, New York City could see some 50s. I don't even know what that is anymore but it looks good. Down to the southeast climbing into the 60s and 70s. Look at the temperatures. You cannot focus on that. What we do need to focus on is the low in the southeast that is bringing you some rain. By Friday morning for commute time for D.C. down through Raleigh, you do have threat for a little bit icing. If you're in the Midwest, don't worry. Yes, a little bit of cold air Friday and Saturday, but your temperatures are still OK. Overall, everyone feeling so much better, and that is a great way to start a weekend. Kate?

BOLDUAN: That is a great way to start the weekend. I wish we could start it right now.

It may have three Michelin stars, but now New York's most expensive restaurant is getting panned by the city's health department. Per Se getting a C grade, if you can believe it. The upscale French eatery was just slammed for sanitary violations. Here's CNN Margaret Conley with more on this story.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Good afternoon, everyone.

MARGARET CONLEY, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Per Se, one of New York's most expensive restaurants with a $310 tasting menu has gone from an A-grade from city health inspectors to a surprising pending C.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's actually mind boggling to me.

CONLEY: General manager Antonio Begonja takes us behind the scenes.


CONLEY: Their nine-course menu includes the rare use of a duck press, a meticulously prepared vegetarian option, and $125 surcharge for black truffles.

BEGONJA: Focus is something THAT we're really proud of, Attention to detail.

CONLEY: Attention to detail is what Per Se got from New York City health inspectors. They check for cleanliness, personal hygiene, food handling, and preparation.

BEGONJA: They're just making sure that the temperature is proper in the fridge and that everything is clean.

CONLEY: The three Michelin star restaurant received 42 violation points, including not maintaining food temperatures and placement of hand-washing facilities.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It seems very strange that something would change that drastically.

CONLEY: Per Se plans to appeal. Chef Thomas Keller said in a statement to CNN, "We look forward to the opportunity to address the allegations with the Department of Health in the upcoming Oath Tribunal. At that time our final grade will be determined. As with all of our restaurants, we continue to maintain the highest standards at Per Se."

SIERRA TISHGART, ASSOCIATE EDITOR, GRUS STREET: Restaurants can get shut down. It can be really damaging to restaurants for (inaudible). I think it's possible to bounce back and hopefully get another shot

CONLEY (on-camera): Did it bother you that it was grade pending tonight?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: To dine here, absolutely not. Because, you know, I know Thomas Keller's reputation.

CONLEY (on-camera): Margaret Conley, CNN, New York.


BOLDUAN: There you have it.

CUOMO: Per se means by itself. But they won't be by themselves because everybody will probably still eat there.

BERMAN: For those that want to spend a thousand or $1500 for a meal may not change their behavior.

CUOMO: Yeah, the grade drop, not the prices.

All right, coming up on NEW DAY, Hillary Clinton compares Vladimir Putin to Hitler. People says, "Oh wow, that's extreme." She says, "Nope, I meant it." And now she's saying more about it. What is behind her stance?

BOLDUAN: And Dr. Sanjay Gupta doubling down, in his own words, on his statements about medical marijuana. He's going to be joining us next to talk about this and his new opinion piece that you want to read.


BOLDUAN: Welcome back. Florida and Minnesota state governments are taking steps towards legalizing medical marijuana. That's happening Wednesday. At least 14 states are considering the move after 20 others have already done so.

Why are we talking about this? Well, here's why. Joining us now, chief medical correspondent Dr. Sanjay Gupta. Last year he made headlines, of course, by changing his stance on medical marijuana.

In a new opinion piece that's getting a lot of attention, Sanjay, you say you are doubling down. The key quote -- I quote you -- "I'm convinced" -- "I'm more convinced --"

CUOMO: Don't misquote him.

BOLDUAN: "I'm more convinced than ever that it is irresponsible to not provide the best care we can, care that often may involve marijuana." Why is it irresponsible?

DR. SANJAY GUPTA, CHIEF CNN MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: I think that this is a medicine that can provide help in situations where the modern medicine has not been able to help.

Look, it's not something for everybody just like every medicine's not for everybody. But what's amazing to me is if you go around the world and look at this product as a medicine, it can provide relief, for example, in children with epilepsy who've tried everything; in certain situations of all these different diseases. And it's being used around these places.

In the United States, it's classified as a schedule 1 substance, which means it's considered to not have any medicinal use, and that's part of the problem.

BERMAN: And that's a shocking impediment to the science in the United States, isn't it?

GUPTA: You say, look, we need to do more research. But it's very hard to do research on something if it's scheduled 1. Because that means that it's already deemed among the most abused substances, dangerous substances, and it's already preordained to not have any medicinal benefit. So it's very hard to get approval to do those research studies.

CUOMO: So medicine is often a function of policy, right? And it seems to be part of the problem here is you are having difficulty -- not you -- but the process is having difficulty separating the use of this as medicine from the exposure to the culture of marijuana use in general.

GUPTA: Yes. Although, Chris, I mean, look, every other medicine goes through another process, which is an FDA process. They go through clinical trials. It's ultimately approved.

The whole idea that this has been a vote, you know, put on the state ballots for people to say is this a medicine or not, that's a very unusual thing. It is what it's come down to in this country because it's the only way that people have been actually able to get this as a medicine in about 20 states now.

But typically it's not as political. Look, you have the opium derivatives, all the narcotic medications. There's a concern about abuse with those as well, a very real concern. Someone dies every 19 minutes of an accidental prescription drug overdose in this country. So those are real issues, no question.

CUOMO: So how did they get over the hurdle? Because opium, you know, was the old taboo. You know, people were smoking it and using it as a drug. How did they get past the idea of how it's used recreationally versus to see the medicinal benefit?

GUPTA: It's a -- they went through some of the same things that we're going through now. Although, I don't think even opium at that time was as demonized or sort of, you know, thought of as a fringe (ph) substance marijuana. And this dates back to the mid 1930s for marijuana. We had reefer madness, the documentaries, and the whole attitude's being cemented in t his country. It's not like that if you travel to other countries. Israel, for example, they're doing lots of research out there. I talked to doctors, very serious scientists who allow their patients to take this substance in the hospitals.

The irresponsibility part of it, Kate, comes from the fact that if you're a doctor and you want to provide an option to your patients, again, when nothing else has worked, that should be an option to people. And right now in the United States, it's not.

BOLDUAN: I think everyone will remember, and I think her name was Charlotte --

GUPTA: Charlotte, yeah.

BOLDUAN: -- from the first documentary and the struggle that her family went through. They tried everything. And this was the one thing that helped at least calm some of the seizures that she was suffering. Who are the people you're going to introduce us to in "WEED II". Because you talk to -- you meet more people that are affected in a very similar way.

GUPTA: Yeah, there's probably about a dozen different ailments which would sort of fit this criteria where this can provide an option when existing therapies don't.

But particularly in this documentary, we're going to meet a gentleman who has chronic pain that has not being treated. Again, narcotics were the only option. They weren't working, causing side effects. But also a woman with MS who had significant neurological disease, wheelchair bound as a result of this.

And, again, these are early trials here. But I would just cut to the chase, she is walking with me. She is walking on cobblestone streets, which is difficult to walk in someone who has MS. It's a pretty incredible thing. And this is a woman lives England because she can't get this medicine here in the United States.

BERMAN: Sanjay, your op-ed --

BOLDUAN: So they have to live away from their families.

GUPTA: They have to live away from their families. Even within the United States -- sorry to interrupt, John -- but if you go no Colorado, for example, to get the medicine, it works, you're stuck.

BOLDUAN: You can't take it out.

GUPTA: You cannot take it out, even if it's an oil, non-psychoactive oil, you take it out of the state, you could be arrested for drug trafficking.

BERMAN: Your op-ed, which is on, in very eloquent -- as you would imagine, by the way -- I also sense, though, Sanjay, a great deal of frustration this time in your writing. GUPTA: You know, it's -- there's so many people coming out and talking about this. You know, Pete Carroll, who's the coach of the Seattle Seahawks said, you know, look, I consider marijuana for my players. Roger Goodell said we're following the science on this. President Obama said I don't think it's --

BOLDUAN: Because there's evidence it helps with concussions.

GUPTA: That's right. And in fact, the United States holds a patent for marijuana on that very -- for that reason, as a neuro-protectant against stroke and trauma. We hold a patent at the same time we call it medicinally having no purpose.

President Obama has said, look, I don't think it's anymore dangerous than alcohol.

John, we tried very hard not to inject a subjective moral equivalency into this whole thing, because I think it can stand on its own merits. But that's part of the frustration. People are saying one thing but then acting very differently.

CUOM: Well, you caught up in something cultural here. It's almost unique to the U.S., which is where often negativity becomes a proxy for insight. People don't like pot, so they don't want to listen to what you're saying. Yes, I'm biased. I love Sanjay, and I respect him in a way because I know him better than people who are reading the op-ed for the first time.

But you're saying it's for categories of real illness that you're limiting the discussion to and when nothing else has worked. People aren't hearing that part.

BOLDUAN: And you're not diminishing that there are -- that the risks of any medicine that anyone would take.

GUPTA: We're not trying to pit one against the other. Again, we're just saying look, if you look at these stories, look at the science, and maybe you haven't found the science in this country because it's so hard to get, look around the world and see what's happening here. And let's not deny care to people who legitimately need it right now. I'm not naive. I know there's people who are going to feign ailments to get high. I get it.

But here's the trade-off. Are you going to deny legitimate patients therapy as a result? That's the question people need to answer.

BOLDUAN: How do you look that woman with MS, how do you look them in the eye and say sorry?

GUPTA: Yeah.

CUOMO: They strip the high component out of the drug a lot of times when they make it in the medicine.

GUPTA: Yeah, and these kids -- there's not the psychoactive component. CUOMO: Sanjay, appreciate you being here.

GUPTA: You got it.

BOLDUAN: Op-ed, you gotta read. And you've got to see the new documentary. Sanjay, it's really great.

CUOMO: Right, now if you care about the issue, you should care about learning about the issue. So Sanjay's documentary, including the science of what marijuana does to the body and brain. "WEED II, CANNABIS MADNESS" premiers Tuesday, March 11 at 10:00 Eastern right here on CNN. And it's a discussion to have. Nobody wants that more than Sanjay. So tweet us what you think. Use the hash tag new day, unless you're angry, and then tweet him directly.


BOLDUAN: I will argue that no one says the title of that documentary better than you.


BOLDUAN: We changed the picture behind you today. It's a little more subtle.


BOLDUAN: Medical marijuana, they like cannabis, not pot.

CUOMO: Oh, I'm sorry.

BOLDUAN: Just get it right. See, I read stuff.

Coming up next on NEW DAY, Hillary Clinton makes her comments clear. What she's saying now about her Putin-Hitler comparison.

CUOMO: And no hoodies allowed in the mall. Good anti-crime policy or anti something else? Are you offended? We're going to test the two sides. Judge for yourself.