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Massive Georgian Wildfire Could Burn for Another Month; Scientology on Virginia Tech Campus

Aired April 29, 2007 - 08:00   ET


T.J. HOLMES, CNN ANCHOR: From the CNN Center in Atlanta, Georgia, this is CNN SUNDAY MORNING, April 29th. Glad you are joining us. If you are just joining us, you missed a good segment a minute ago.
BETTY NGUYEN, CNN CO-ANCHOR: On porn and pancakes.

HOLMES: No kidding. Porn and pancakes, no kidding.

NGUYEN: You have to watch the show. You never know what we will have on here.

HOLMES: Good morning to you all. I'm T.J. Holmes.

NGUYEN: I'm Betty Nguyen. We want to thank you for being with us. So check out these live pictures from will you this morning from Istanbul where tens of thousands are gathered right now in a massive demonstration. We will tell you all about that.

Also ...


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Without the help of the churches, where would you be?




UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Where would your son be?


HOLMES: The very human face of illegal immigration and the sanctuary that is sheltering her.

NGUYEN: Plus if you are just waking up, check out this video. No, those aren't clouds. This is a dust storm in Phoenix. Reynolds Wolf will have a complete check of the forecast a little bit later.

Plus this --


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It was just an induction ceremony into Scientology.


HOLMES: Scientologists on the Virginia Tech campus providing comfort or recruiting new members? We are taking a closer look at that.

NGUYEN: But we do want to begin with a startling prediction about this massive wildfire raging right now in southeast Georgia. The State Emergency Management Agency says it can burn for another month. Yes, 30 days. The flames already have charred almost 100-square miles around Waycross, Georgia. Firefighters say they are dealing with a recipe for a fire disaster. And that is no rain, very low humidity and lots of wind gusts.

HOLMES: The outlook much better for firefighters battling this wild fire in southern California. They expect to have it under control later this morning. The flames charred 115 acres of brush in a residential area, but did not damage any homes or other buildings.

NGUYEN: And check this out some stunning video out of neighboring Arizona. This is a huge dust storm. Descending on Phoenix last night. Thunderstorms along the U.S.-Mexican border kicked up all that dust forcing warnings for drivers. Visibility dropped dramatically even to zero in some places.

HOLMES: Our Reynolds Wolf keeping an eye on things in all places today. A lot of folks wondering about Georgia. If it will ever get relief down there, any rain. It didn't sound good when we talked to you last hour.

REYNOLDS WOLF, CNN METEOROLOGIST: I hate to tell you this but just in the past 40, 45 minutes or so, it hasn't gotten any better. It is pretty much the same deal. There is a big reason why we are not seeing any rain in the southeast. We do see some in parts of Texas, some in the northeast. Why aren't we seeing any here? The reason why is because we have a big area of high-pressure that's setting up over the southeast. Now, when you see one of the big L's, it stands for low pressure, low pressure helps provide rising air and that rising air is one of the things that sparks some showers and storms and gives the beneficial pressure. But high pressure compressing effects on the atmosphere just the opposite and that high is going to sit right over the southeast for much of the next couple of days. Maybe in to say Thursday or Friday. We may see scattered showers. But even then it is not a sure bet.

Flash flooding is possible in west and south Texas for today. High temperatures in Texas from Dallas southward to Houston will stay mainly into the 80s, 97 in Phoenix, 70 in Los Angeles with fog and 61 in Portland, New York, with a high temperature of 66. That's your forecast. Let's send it back to you guys.

NGUYEN: OK Reynolds. Thank you. WOLF: You bet.

HOLMES: We have an update for you now on a story that was breaking around this time yesterday. Fire that engulfed two huge tanks in an Oklahoma refinery, well it is still not out. The company spokesman says it will take more time to burn itself out and tanks are filled with an unrefined form of gasoline. The lightning strikes sparked the initial fire Friday and an explosion followed hours later.

NGUYEN: Taking it to the streets, rallies and marches are planned this week to protest the countries immigration policies. The debate over immigration, reforms sparked massive demonstrations a year ago. Some organizers expect the turn out this year to be smaller. Still it is an issue that affects businesses and the economy and millions of lives. According to estimates there are between 11.5 and 12 million illegal immigrants in the U.S. as of last March. More than 1.2 million immigrants gained permanent residence status in 2006.

HOLMES: President Bush pushing for immigration reform during a commencement speech in Miami. The president spoke to the graduating class at Miami-Dade College where many of the students are immigrants or children of immigrants. He gave the class 2007 an assignment, to urge their elected representatives to get working on immigration legislation.


GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We must address all elements of the problem together or none of them will be solved at all. We must do it in a way that learns from the mistakes that caused previous reforms to fail. I am a strong supporter of comprehensive immigration reform. That would allow us to secure our borders and enforce our laws once and for all. That will keep us competitive in a global economy. And that will resolve the status of those who are already here without amnesty and without animosity.


NGUYEN: Well some call it sanctuary. Others call it a blatant disregard for the law.

HOLMES: Some undocumented workers determined to stay in the U.S. are taking refuge in places of worship. CNN's Jim Acosta takes a closer look at a growing movement.


JIM ACOSTA, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice over): Elvira Arellano is wanted by the law. An illegal immigrant who refused to surrender to a court order for her deportation. She refused because her son was Salo was born in this country. And is a U.S. citizen. Arellano does not hide the fact she has taken refuge in this church on Chicago's west side. A modern variation of that age-old tradition of churches providing sanctuary to fugitives. And so far it is working.

Without the help of the churches, where would you be? ELVIRA ARELLANO, IMMIGRATION FUGITIVE: In Mexico.

ACOSTA: In Mexico.

ARELLANO: Yeah. Deported.

ACOSTA: Where would your son be?


ACOSTA: Is that hard to think about?


ACOSTA: Based on Arellano's success, the sanctuary movement is growing from Long Island, New York, where 40 pastors are opening their church to undocumented workers.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We cannot in good conscience ignore the suffering and injustice.

ACOSTA: To the entire city of San Francisco.

CARLOS LUIS VARGAS, HISPANIC PASTORS OF LONG ISLAND: We are a sanctuary city; we don't cooperate with the federal government.

ACOSTA: But to illegal immigration critics, this is blatant law breaking.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: If you know someone is illegal and hide them from authorities in your basement and provide them with a safe house then yes, you are actively, knowingly and facilitating illegal immigration into the United States.

ACOSTA: Leaders of this church insist Arellano is not in hiding. In fact when she moved in here last August, she sent a letter to immigration authorities letting them know where they could find her. To this date, Arellano says she has yet to hear from them.

But in a statement the Immigration and Customs Enforcement Agency known as ICE told CNN that it has the authority to arrest illegal aliens in all locales. Arellano's pastor doubts that they will come for her here.

REV. WALTER L. COLEMAN, ARELLANO'S PASTOR: I think that the site of ICE agents coming in and separating a mother from her child in front of the cross of Jesus is something that they didn't want to do.

ACOSTA: Advocates for undocumented workers are planning a big push to expand the use of church sanctuaries like Arellano's across the country. Calling the practice a well-organized form of civil disobedience.

Jim Acosta, CNN, Chicago.

(END VIDEO CLIP) NGUYEN: And CNN will have comprehensive live coverage throughout the day on immigration debate Tuesday. That begins at 6:00 a.m. Eastern, we are also going to have live reports on the rallies across the country. Then Wednesday night, Lou Dobbs is live in Hazleton, Pennsylvania, for a broken borders town hall meeting. "CNN Primetime Special" Wednesday 8:00 p.m. Eastern.

HOLMES: We now turn to Iraq and the aftermath of a deadly attack in Karbala, 58 people killed on their way to evening prayers. They were killed in a suicide car bomb attack. At least 170 others were injured. Some Iraqis taking out their frustration over the lack of protection by police by throwing rocks at the officers.

The U.S. military taking another hit as well. Seven soldiers and two marines killed in the past two days. Four soldiers where the troops support task force killed near Baghdad in roadside bomb attacks. Military announced five service members killed Friday in attacks in the volatile Anbar Province.

NGUYEN: Reconstruction projects in Iraq being scrutinized. A new report says several projects touted as successes have fallen into disrepair. Officials at the special inspector general's office say sabotage was not the biggest problem, instead citing poor construction, petty looting and lack of maintenance. Among the examples, millions of dollars worth generators not working at the airport, or an Iraqi special forces barracks, missing batteries and stolen fuel lines, among those problems. And a maternity hospital at Erbil Iraqi workers either didn't know how to use some of the new equipment or didn't trust it and that led to medical waste being leaked into the cities sewer system.

Well today on "Late Edition with Wolf Blitzer" the battle between Congress and the president over the withdrawal of U.S. troops from Iraq. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice shares her thoughts along with two key congressmen. That's this morning at 11:00 Eastern.

HOLMES: A sea of red to show you now in this live picture, in Turkey today. This is the scene in Istanbul where demonstrators are demanding the government of Turkey remain non-religious. The parliament in the process right now of picking the country's new president, but there's only one candidate. Some of his critics fear he will push the secular government towards Islam. That possibility is literally a red flag for the Turkish military which has warned it may intervene if it perceives Turkey shows signs of becoming an Islamic state.

NGUYEN: That's quite a demonstration there.

We are going to be talking about this. Reaching out to those in need or exploiting the victims of the Virginia Tech shootings.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: They just helped -- took us through a workshop that they call it, I guess, to try to get your mind off of everything. It was strange. I felt weird and funny doing it. But it helped in the end.


NGUYEN: We are going to take a closer look at the church of Scientology's efforts on the campus of Virginia Tech.

HOLMES: Also, two by two. They came aboard the ark. Not that one. This one. We will tell you all about this modern-day marvel. You want to stick around for that.

But all this is coming up.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: All I heard was the surgeon yell very loudly to call 911.


HOLMES: Words no one would expect to hear a hospital calling 911 for one of its own patients.

NGUYEN: Oh, my.

HOLMES: That story coming up on "House Call" with Dr. Sanjay Gupta.


NGUYEN: TV remote in hand. Let me -- I have one right here, in hand. OK. Computer mouse in the other. Have you one right there. OK. CNN has all of your news this Sunday morning. We are equipped. Just don't change the channel.

HOLMES: One way or another. The most popular stories on this morning. Mortgage meltdown. Lots of homeowners seeing their properties sold to the highest bidders at the foreclosure auctions. CNN's Debra Feyerick has that report.

NGUYEN: Number two right now, the sanctuary movement. CNN's Jim Acosta explains that for many illegal immigrants in the U.S., the church is their best refuge.

HOLMES: Also on that most popular list, the life sized ark. Have you ever wondered what Noah's big boat looked like? Here's one you can visit.

NGUYEN: That thing is huge. Rounding out the top four. Manure power. That's a nice way of putting it. CNN's Ali Velshi's grassroots report on how cow waste is being used to make electricity. What a lucky guy. That's a prime assignment.

HOLMES: Why is that one of the most popular?

NGUYEN: A really ripe one, I should say.

HOLMES: Why do people want to know about that?


HOLMES: All right. That's a quick look.

NGUYEN: That's just a crappy list.

HOLMES: Just a quick look at some of the most popular stories. We are going to get Betty out of here before she says something she doesn't need to say.

NGUYEN: Well I will tell you this. You have to wonder a little about people who jump out of perfectly good airplanes. Right?

HOLMES: But you really have to wonder about people who jump out of perfectly good airplanes with scissors. We will tell you about this hair-raising stunt coming up about in ten minutes.

NGUYEN: That's scary.

HOLMES: That's coming up in about ten minutes.

NGUYEN: I'm frightened for the person. But first though CNN chief medical correspondent Dr. Sanjay Gupta has a preview of "House Call" this morning.

DR. SANJAY GUPTA, CNN CHIEF MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: Thanks. And we got some amazing stories this morning for you. First of all imagine being a patient in a hospital where you had an operation and something goes wrong and the hospital has to call 911 for help. The hospital calling 911. It happened and we have the story.

Plus it is called the change of life. For many women, it can mean a change in personality. What goes on in the brain during menopause? More importantly, what helps? That and much more coming up on "House Call" at 8:30.



CAROL COSTELLO, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Got an mp3 player? A lot of people do. They are good for more than just keeping you occupied on plane. Corey Ritter, finder of Body Design Fitness, says integrating them into your workout is all about the play list.

COREY RITTER, FOUNDER, BODY DESIGN FITNESS: The best way to use your mp3 player to get fit is by taking the play list and matching it with the most effective way to exercise. That's interval training.

COSTELLO: So what's that mean for you? Make a specific workout play list rather than scrolling around trying to find a good song every few minutes.

RITTER: Have a fast song, high energy, and then a slow song, low energy. Back to back for 20 to 30 minutes. COSTELLO: The key, when you hear the beat get faster, gets your heart rate up. Some other tips get a wrist strap or a bell clip for your mp3 player. It should keep the player from getting in your way. As long as you are clipping something on to your belt, put a pedometer right next to it. It is a good way to keep track of your exercise accomplishments.

Carol Costello, CNN.



NGUYEN: Well Queen Elizabeth II is coming to America this week. Her majesty is scheduled to arrive in Virginia on Thursday and she's commemorating the 400th anniversary of Jamestown. The first English colony in the new world.

HOLMES: While in Virginia the Queen has expressed interest in meeting students from Virginia Tech. It is possible that some of the 25 students wounded in the April 16th shooting will head to Richmond, Virginia, and actually have an audience with the Queen. We will keep an eye on that.

Meanwhile of course classes have resumed at Virginia Tech. But there's still little sense of normalcy.

NGUYEN: Yes at the school spiritual advisers continue to reach out to students. But the arrival of one religious group is being met with accusations that it is trying to take advantage of this tragedy. CNN's David Mattingly reports.


DAVID MATTINGLY, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice over): They are grieving, confused, and emotionally shaken. There's no shortage on the Virginia Tech campus of helping hands or shoulders to lean on. But some claim not all the good will is driven by compassion. When the Church of Scientology set up a tent in the middle of campus just days after the killings, critics say the church was recruiting, not comforting.

RAY GIUNTA, BAPTIST MINISTER AND PSYCHOLOGIST: I went to the service to watch and see what they would say thinking it might be a memorial service to honor the 33 people. It was just an induction ceremony into Scientology. So very inappropriate at this time.

MATTINGLY: Nine days after the traumatic loss of life, we found the Scientologist has moved and their tent was going up off campus. Minister Sylvia Stanard says their mission is to provide assistance. Is it appropriate for any religion to come to a campus like this when so many people are hurting to recruit?

SYLVIA STANARD, CHURCH OF SCIENTOLOGY: Nobody is recruiting. I don't think people are recruiting. That's -- yeah, that would not be appropriate. But that's not what's happening. MATTINGLY: Over the last week, Stanard says volunteers offered comfort to hundreds of students. One technique they use is called the locational assist.

STANARD: Like take a look at that church.

MATTINGLY: Just look at the building?

STANARD: Just look at the building. Look at that red car there.

MATTINGLY: OK. Again it is just look at the car?

STANARD: Exactly.

MATTINGLY: Stanard demonstrates the Scientology technique for helping someone reconnect to the world around them and step away from their internal problems. Another technique looks like a massage. This is called a nerve assist. A way to promote physical healing by stimulating nerves. Where did this idea come from?

STANARD: This comes from the Scientology technology developed by L. Ron Hubbard. This is specifically for physical problems.

MATTINGLY: Stanard says their presence at Virginia Tech is similar to disaster relief missions by Scientologists at Ground Zero after 9/11. Along the Gulf Coast after hurricane Katrina. But some have questioned the motivations behind those missions as well. Michael Pattinson is a former Scientologist and outspoken critic of the church.

MICHAEL PATTINSON, FORMER SCIENTOLOGIST: They wants people who's lives have been ruined by something which is part of the expansion technology which Scientology uses to get new members.

STANARD: And we are here to really give them -- other people they can talk to, that can help them in their lives and feel like something can be done about it.

MATTINGLY: Scientology volunteers on campus were also passing out copies of this booklet, it is called "The Way to Happiness." It was written by L. Ron Hubbard the founder of the Scientology Church, it promises to help get your life back, 10,000 copies of these were handed out in one week. Students we encountered did not have a problem with contact they had with Scientologists.

KATE GRIFFIN, STUDENT: They just helped -- took us through like a kind of workshop, they call it, I guess, to try to get your mind off of everything. It was really strange. I felt weird and funny doing it. But it helped in the end. I wasn't offended by what they were doing.

MATTINGLY: University officials say they have heard no complaints. Virginia Tech has an open-door policy toward all religious groups. Scientologists say that they may return to the campus in the future.

David Mattingly, CNN, Blacksburg, Virginia. (END VIDEO CLIP)

HOLMES: We have a hair-raising stunt to show you that happened high above the Earth. Details on this --

NGUYEN: You have to see it to believe it.

HOLMES: Some scissors in somebody's hands. We will explain this coming up next.

NGUYEN: You are not even supposed to run with scissors let alone jump out of an airplane.

Then at 8:30 weekend "House Call" taking a closer look this morning at the brain during menopause.

HOLMES: Also at 9:00, "CSI Ft. Myers, Florida." That is not the latest "CSI" spin off show. Actually investigators trying to crack a case of some mysterious bones found scattered in the forest.

CNN SUNDAY MORNING continues in just a moment.


VERONICA DE LA CRUZ, .COM DESK: You hear about the Dow nearly every business day especially when it hits new records and this week the Dow closed above 13,000 for the first time in history. You might not know exactly what the Dow is. Here is an explainer for you the Dow Jones Industrials average is a list of 30 stocks on the New York Stock Exchange. That's 30 out of nearly 2800 ticker symbols. Not just any stocks. The Dow represents some of the largest and most well known companies in the United States. Every time you fill up at Exxon, hit the drive-through at McDonald's, open up a Coke, send a text message on your Verizon phone, use Microsoft software, fly on a Boeing jet, us Crest toothpaste, or Bounty paper towels, get a refill, take the family to see a Disney movie or buy a GE microwave at Wal-Mart, you are directly interacting with the Dow. That is just for starters.

You can track all 30 of the blue chips at Just to put the 13,000 milestone in context, when the Dow Jones Industrial average debuted in 1896 it was just shy of 41. The lowest the Dow ever went was 28.

From the .COM desk I'm Veronica De La Cruz.

HOLMES: Well we have some outrageous video we need to show you. Your ma always said do not run with scissors. She didn't say anything about skydiving with scissors.

NGUYEN: Who thinks of this stuff? This stunt was billed as a skydiving haircut. Truthfully, it was more of a snip than a cut for the obvious reasons. But that might be good enough for the Guinness Record Book.

HOLMES: How do people think of these Guinness records? You can have a record in anything. NGUYEN: Apparently, you can.

HOLMES: Oh, seeing somebody coming at me at 14,000 feet with a pair of pointy scissors...

NGUYEN: Not your idea of fun.

HOLMES: Not my idea. And I bet that haircut was the worst haircut.


HOLMES: Ever. In life. Why? Why do people (inaudible)...

NGUYEN: I just want to watch it and think, what is wrong with you?

HOLMES: I wonder if you could get a fade, you know, I mean, could you?

NGUYEN: Some shears?


NGUYEN: I don't think so.

HOLMES: All right.

NGUYEN: OK, so we do want to talk about this, though: Anger in Iraq after a deadly suicide attack. We're going to take you live to Baghdad at the top of the hour. Right now, CNN chief medical correspondent Dr. Sanjay Gupta picks up our coverage with "HOUSE CALL."


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