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Ukrainian Government Threatening Eastern Regions If They Vote For Independence from Kiev; Conchita Wurst's Revolutionary Win on Eurovision; Extracting of THC from Marijuana Leading to Explosions

Aired May 11, 2014 - 06:30   ET


ANA CABRERA, CNN ANCHOR: Hello again. Bottom of the hour now. Welcome back. I'm Ana Cabrera.

VICTOR BLACKWELL, CNN ANCHOR: I'm Victor Blackwell. Let's start this half with five things you need to know for your new day.

First, the tornado that raced through Orrick, Missouri, yesterday ripped roofs off of some buildings and completely destroyed others. So far, though, no one has been reported injured. So good news there. But local law enforcement are going house to house to check on the residents. 11 other suspected tornadoes were reported across Kansas, Missouri, and Iowa.

CABRERA: Number two, a judge has sentenced Chris Brown to more jail time for violating his probation in the 2009 beating of ex-girlfriend Rihanna. On Friday the pop star admitted getting into a fight in Washington State and was sentenced to an additional 130 days in jail. Now, his lawyer says the L.A. County sheriff's department has been releasing some inmates early and he thinks Brown could be released within the next week.

BLACKWELL: Well, number three now, panic overnight at a mall in New Jersey. You see, a car exploded there. It was mistaken for gunfire. The entire car didn't explode though. Shoppers took to social media to report that a shooting had occurred. Police evacuated the Westfield Garden State Plaza mall in Paramus, but, you know, that's the same mall where a real shooting took place last November. There was a problem with the engine there.

CABRERA: Scary moment. Number four, the Los Angeles Clippers take on the Oklahoma City Thunder in game four of that playoff series this afternoon. Right now the Clippers are down 2-1 in this series. It has been a real battle for that team. The Clippers, of course, having to fight through plenty of distractions with their owner, Donald Sterling, the center of controversy, and an NBA advisory committee is going to meet again this week to discuss forcing Sterling to sell the team.

BLACKWELL: And number five.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: 249TH pick in the 2014 NFL draft, the St. Louis Rams select Michael Sam, defensive end, Missouri.



BLACKWELL: He's a seventh round pick, the St. Louis Rams make history, making Michael Sam the first openly gay player ever chosen in the NFL draft. But Sam was the SEC - SEC co-defensive player of the year, but a - just so-so performance at the NFL combine this winter and his draft stock dropped. Some wonder if it dropped too far because of his sexual orientation.

CABRERA: Overseas this morning, the big story really is what's happening there in Ukraine. It is voting day in eastern Ukraine and right now pro-Russian separatists are defying the calls to delay that controversial referendum vote for independence.

BLACKWELL: It's happening in the eastern city of Donetsk and Lugansk and Ukraine's acting president (INAUDIBLE) sitting from the government in Kiev could have a devastating impact on the rest of the country.

CABRERA: There's also concern that today's results could trigger even more violence as the country inches toward a possible civil war, as we reported just recently. Seven people dying in clashes in the last 48 hours in the eastern part of Ukraine. Let's discuss with the executive director for the Initiative for Russian Culture at American University, we're delighted to have (INAUDIBLE) him with us, Anton Fedyashin joining us this morning. Thank you.

ANTON FEDYASHIN: Thank you guys.

CABRERA: All right, so let's talk about what's happening there in Ukraine this morning. Despite the calls from the West, despite even the public calls from Vladimir Putin himself not to move forward with this vote, it is moving forward. Are you surprised?

FEDYASHIN: No, not surprised. Because the poll, or, rather, the referendum is really a form of an opinion poll and we know that opinion tolls in eastern Ukraine have reflected that almost three- quarters of the population there do not trust the Kiev government. They've also reflected the three-quarters of the population don't want to secede from the country. They want greater autonomy, greater self- determination within a unified Ukraine.

BLACKWELL: Compare and contrast, if you would, this vote that's happened today and the one that happened in Crimea, which had some very drastic results with the annexation of that peninsula.

FEDYASHIN: Absolutely. Well, these are two different situations. First of all, there had been a referendum in the Crimea in 1994, which showed the exact same results for separation from Ukraine and joining to Russia, but the Crimea's overwhelmingly Russian populated and the feeling there was much stronger for reunification with Russia. The eastern Ukrainian regions are quite different. There's an enormous amount of discontent with the government, especially after the launching of the operation against the so-called separatists, but there's also very little feeling towards joining Russia, but there is great, great thirst for autonomy.

CABRERA: We know the interim president has warned that if they move forward with this vote and it actually passes, that there are going to be some consequences. He said he would cut the residents off from the national economy there, cut them off from social programs and he said, "It's a step nowhere for these regions. That it is a euphoria that may lead to some very complex consequences." What are we talking about? What could happen next?

FEDYASHIN: Well, this is a threat that is definitely not going to help the Kiev government. The same thing as with the military operation that's been launched against people in eastern Ukraine. I don't think that Ukraine will follow through, the Kiev government, rather, will follow through with the threats because it needs the eastern regions. They are actually the biggest contributors to Ukraine's GDP. These regions that are having the referendum are the most industrialized and have the least unemployment in the rest of the country.

BLACKWELL: All right. Anton Fedyashin, now we're also looking ahead to two weeks from today with that national election. We hope to have you back to talk about that, too.

FEDYASHIN: Thank you very much, guys.

BLACKWELL: All right. 180 million people in 45 countries watched intently last night.

CABRERA: It was a reality show that's really making a statement and making waves across the news world this morning because of who took the crown.


CONCHITA WURST (singing): Out of the ashes --


BLACKWELL: This is Conchita Wurst and fans went nuts at the big win last night. Isn't that right, Erin?

ERIN MCLAUGHLIN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: That's right, Victor. Wurst is affectionately known as the bearded lady, but last night was not without controversy. I'm Erin McLaughlin live in London this morning. Details coming up.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Hi, mom. Just wanted to say I love you a lot and I miss you so much. I will be home very soon. Love you.



BLACKWELL: Austrian performer Conchita Wurst also known as the bearded lady won the Eurovision song contest with this song "Rise Like a Phoenix."

CABRERA: And such a fitting song for what happened. It's one of the most famous singing contests in the world created after World War II to encourage good relations among countries and this year's Eurovision competition - well, it may be remembered more for its intense political atmosphere that was swirling around the event as much as the event in its outcome itself.

BLACKWELL: Yeah, joining us is Erin McLaughlin from London. Erin, one this year's contest is this as much a statement by judges and the voters about tolerance with some countries? You know, this anti-gay propaganda, the law that are passed in some places? I mean they wanted Wurst to send a message?

CABRERA: I think that was certainly a factor, Victor, but I also think her performance really did captivate this audience. Conchita Wurst is the drag persona of 25-year-old Thomas Neuwirth. She handily won the competition with 290 points propelling Austria to its very first Eurovision victory since 1966. Let's take a little - let's take a listen a little bit more to that performance.


WURST (singing)


MCLAUGHLIN: Now that performance, of course, not without controversy, of course. Countries such as Belarus, Armenia and Russia even before Wurst took to the stage were filtering or distributing petitions and signed their own countries calling for her not to be able to perform, also suggesting that she be edited out of the broadcast, something that Wurst addressed or touched upon in her press conference following her performance. Take a listen.


WURST: Well, you know, I think for me, you know, my dream came true, but for our society, it just showed me that there are people out there who want to go in the future and go on, you know, and not stepping back or thinking in the past, so I thank Europe - and I'm so thankful about that, but I think we said something.


MCLAUGHLIN: Well, Wurst's own manager describing the win as a victory for tolerance. Victor and Ana?

CABRERA: Yeah, sure seemed like a breakthrough on the international stage when it comes to tolerance and accepting diverse population. I know there was another controversy in this year's Eurovision show, right? Wasn't there some conflict with the Russian singers and some of the lyrics of their songs?

MCLAUGHLIN: That's right, Ana, the twin performers, Ana and Maria Tolmachevy the Russia's entrants causing quite a stir with their song, some of the lyrics, some people taking to perhaps possibly hint at an incursion. Let me read you some of those lyrics. The twins last night singing "Living on the edge, closer to the crime, cross the line, one step at a time, maybe there's a day when you'll be mine."

Many seeing those lyrics as a reference to Russia's annexation of Crimea earlier this year, something that has been widely regarded by the international community as illegal. Interesting to note that Ukraine yesterday placed sixth in the competition, and Russia placed seventh. Often in Eurovision of Eurovision's past it's the place where supposed to be - the emphasis is supposed to be on the art, but politics and art are tending to collide and last night, of course, was no exception. Victor and Ana?

CABRERA: What an interesting development. Erin McLaughlin, thanks so much.

BLACKWELL: So, when we come back, you want to stay with us through this break because there's an exclusive report from one of our reporters in Nigeria who spoke with a girl who managed to escape Boko Haram by jumping off a truck. You are going to hear her incredible story just a few minutes away. Stay right there.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Hello, my name is Sergeant First Class Phillip (ph), based out of (INAUDIBLE) Ohio, 973rd Engineer Battalion Support Company. I like to shout out from the Dominican Republic to my family, my wife, my mother, and happy Mother's Day. I love you and I'll be back home soon. God bless.


BLACKWELL: In the first of a series of exclusive reports, Nima Elbagir visits the town of Chibok in northern Nigeria.

From where almost 300 schoolgirls were kidnapped by the militant Islamist group Boko Haram.

CABRERA: And we're going to be hearing a lot more of Nima's reporting over the coming days, but in this report Nima actually talks to one of those girls who managed to escape her captors and explains why the town there lives in fear.

NIMA ELBAGIR, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: By an absolute miracle, some of those girls managed to escape on that horrifying night, but even for them, this nightmare isn't yet over. One of them has agreed to speak to us, but she's asked that we don't identify her in any way, that we don't give away her name, her family house, anything that could bring about what she fears the most, that the kidnappers could come back for her.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You see go into these car.


ELBAGIR: Is it one or more?




ELBAGIR: And this was at 10:00 at night?


ELBAGIR: So, did that make you feel that they had come to get you, to get the girls?


ELBAGIR: That's when you knew that they'd come to kidnap you?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes. You say OK, we enter this lorry, we go. We go. Then I think I will drop down.

ELBAGIR: That was really brave of you.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes, we would rather die than go. We run in the bush.

ELBAGIR: You ran in the bush?


ELBAGIR: And what happened then?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We ran and ran and we were gone.

ELBAGIR: Can you describe the men that came and took you? What did they look like? Were they wearing civilian clothing or military uniforms, what were they wearing?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: They had like -- I don't understand.

ELBAGIR: What was their dress? What were they wearing?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I feel afraid (ph).

ELBAGIR: Did they look like soldiers?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes, we are a little afraid.

ELBAGIR: You feel afraid.


ELBAGIR: You don't want to talk about what they look like. UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: No.

ELBAGIR: It's OK, I understand, I understand. I'm sorry.


BLACKWELL: Wow. I think we all understand that fear that possibly they'll come back for her.

CABRERA: And hearing her voice, it just pains you to hear, you can hear the fear and the hesitation to say anything.

BLACKWELL: Yeah, our thanks to Nima Elbagir in Nigeria, talking with one of the few girls who escaped that mass kidnapping at her school.

CABRERA: And as we continue here on "NEW DAY" Sunday a growing trend of making hash oil at home.

BLACKWELL: Yeah. It's leading to what officials are calling an exponential rise in fiery, dangerous explosions. We'll talk about that next.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I'm specialist Chad DuFour out at 982 Combat Unit from Wilson, North Carolina, I'd like to give a shout out from the Dominican Republic to my wife, Tia, my two daughters Hannah and Lily. I just want to say I love you guys, I miss you and I'll be home soon and happy Mother's Day, Tia.



UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This is specialist Andrew White in Kabul, Afghanistan, Georgia Army National Guard, 48 (INAUDIBLE). I'd like to give a special shout out to my wife, Jessica White, for Mother's Day, love you, baby.


CABRERA: Don't we all love our moms? And on this Mother's Day it's our turn to honor those special women in our lives. Our mothers, Statue of Liberty looking at New York City.


CABRERA: The mother of our capital, right?

BLACKWELL: Yeah. Don't know if Lady Liberty was a mother, but Happy Mother's Day to all the mothers there in New York and across the country.

So, two states have legalized marijuana for recreational use and the majority of Americans do support some form of legalization, but there is an unintended consequence to the rising pot business, these hash oil explosions.

CABRERA: And of course, based in Colorado, so we're seeing these hash oil explosions popping up all over the place. People are trying to make very concentrated form of THC and extraction of THC from the marijuana plant. It's easy to do but extremely volatile, blowing out windows, walls, putting lives in danger.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I'm lit on fire, my hands, my face, my whole body, the worst pain in my entire life.

CABRERA: What was going through your mind?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Oh, my god, what did I do? What did I do?

CABRERA (voice over): Wayne Winkler is lucky to be alive. An explosion in his kitchen burned his hands down to the bone.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It was just hell all in one second, an immediate instant.

CABRERA: Winkler was making hash oil, also known as wax, shatter and dabs.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: They say, a dab will do you.

CABRERA: A product flying off the shelves of Colorado marijuana dispensaries. Many consider it the most pure form of THC.

(on camera): Put that into perspective for me?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: THC content possibly equal to the amount of what you might get in one joint or two or a few.

CABRERA (voice over): It's made using butane to extract THC from the cannabis plant. When the butane evaporates you're left with an oily or waxy substance. There are dozens of videos on YouTube that show not only how easy it is to make, but also how risky and dangerous it is. Hash oil explosions and fires are becoming a concern around the country from Washington to Hawaii, to New York and California. They're happening in homes, apartments, even hotel rooms. In southern California, authorities are cracking down. There the product is outlawed.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We've identified 40 separates, butane hash oil extraction labs of which 20 resulted in fires and explosions.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Just seeing the pattern in these trends we can't ignore it.

CABRERA: The burn trauma ICU at the University of Colorado hospital has treated at least ten victims of hash oil explosions since January. That's ten times the number treated in all of 2012 and on track to far surpass last year's numbers.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We had one woman, she came in with a 90 percent burn so she was with us for two months.

CABRERA: It's now been more than a year since Winkler left the hospital. He considers himself healed, but the scars on his hands are constant reminders of the day he almost died.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Why I'm doing this interview, if I can stop someone else from being burned, and burned alive and maybe stop them from doing it, that's what I'm doing this for.


CABRERA: Now, Winkler, he teared up a number of times during our interview. It was that painful, he said, that it just reminds him of how horrific that whole situation was for him when that explosion happened. As he was making hash oil. The problem is people are doing this without thinking about the consequences, without thinking about what could happen around them and it is such a growing problem. I can tell you in Denver alone in the metro area, we saw like four or five hash oil explosions within a two-week period, so it's a serious issue, and people are calling on legislation, some kind of further regulation of the marijuana industry.

BLACKWELL: Yeah, and you're probably just hearing from a friend how to do it. I mean it's not as if there are clear instructions on how to extract hash oil.

CABRERA: Well, and you can buy the products at a hardware store.


CABRERA: It's cheap.

BLACKWELL: That's true. All right, thank you so much for spending your morning with us.

CABRERA: And it's now almost 7:00 here in the East. Wow, that hour flew!


CABRERA: We have got a lot more in the next hour of your "NEW DAY," which starts right now.