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Ryan Releases Tax Returns; Hate Groups in U.S. on the Rise; American Wants to Fight in Syria; Rebels: Syrian Vice President Defection; Mine Killings Rattle South Africa

Aired August 18, 2012 - 06:00   ET


RANDI KAYE, CNN ANCHOR: From CNN world headquarters in Atlanta, this is EARLY START WEEKEND.

Look who is heading to Florida, and he's not alone. Paul Ryan bringing a special guest to the sunshine state. But will she stave off critics to the Medicare plan?

Plus, neo-Nazis, white supremacists, the KKK. These groups aren't dying out, they're growing. All morning we're putting hate in the USA in focus.

And later --


MATT VANDYKE, WANTS TO FIGHT IN SYRIA: This is where I spent around 85 days.


KAYE: Young, educated and American. So, why did this 33-year-old Georgetown grad pick up arms against the Libyan government and is now heading for Syria?

It is Saturday, August 18th. Good morning, everyone. I'm Randi Kaye.

First, we take you to the pacific northwest this morning where a massive wildfire is closing in on a small town in Idaho. The western U.S. has been battling dozens of wildfires fueled by drought, summer heat and strong winds. In Washington, some families are returning to their homes. At least 60 houses were destroyed there. Firefighters are still working to contain some fires and people are worried weekend storms may bring more lightning to start even more fires.

Now to Louisiana where four men and three women have been arrested in connection to a shooting that left two sheriff's deputies dead and two others wounded. The sheriff says the suspects are some of the most violent, evil people on the planet.

The shootings happened 25 miles outside New Orleans on Thursday. The suspects first attacked a deputy while he was directing traffic, then fled to their homes in a trailer park. Later, more deputies came to their home to investigate and the suspects opened fire. Breaking news just into CNN. We're getting conflicting reports about whether Syria's vice president has defected. Syrian rebels are claiming that Syria's vice president has defected. They say they are trying to get Farouk al-Sharaa safely to neighboring Jordan. That's where Syria's former prime minister fled just last week you may recall.

But the Syrian regime insists that the vice president is staying put. Syrian state TV says the vice president, quote, "Didn't think for one second to leave the homeland."

We will have much more on this later in the show as we continue to try and make sense of some of these conflicting reports.

Now, the mystery surrounding a young man shot in the backseat of a police car in Jonesboro, Arkansas. No one disputes that 21-year-old Chavis Carter died of a gunshot to the head. But his hands were cuffed behind his back, so who pulled the trigger, him or the police?

Police have now released this dashcam video taken from a police cruiser on that July 29th evening, but does it answer the key question? You can see Carter by the side of the pickup truck which police had stopped; two other men were also in the truck. Carter is being patted down by police. The officer doesn't find any gun and Carter is not handcuffed at that point. He's then led to the squad car and police say he was put in the backseat, again, not cuffed.

And here's another part of the dashcam video from that night. Police say they patted Carter down a second time after finding drugs and paraphernalia in the truck. Again, they didn't find a gun. Then they say they put him back of the same squad car handcuffed this time.


UNIDENTIFIED POLICE OFFICER: I patted him down. I don't know where he had it hidden. But we were talking with officers (ph) back to the car. We thought we heard a funny noise. We heard a pop. We go in. Smelled gun powder. He was leaning over.

QUESTION: Was he handcuffed or sitting --

UNIDENTIFIED POLICE OFFICER: He was handcuffed behind him.


KAYE: Carter's mom doesn't buy that her son shot himself. I asked the Jonesboro police chief about that.


KAYE: Is it even possible, physically, to be handcuffed behind your back and somehow pull a trigger on a gun that you weren't holding when you were handcuffed?

CHIEF MICHAEL YATES, JONESBORO, ARKANSAS, POLICE: To the average person that's never been in handcuffs, that's never been around inmates and people in custody, would react exactly the same way that you just did about, how can that be possible? Well, fact of it is, it's very possible. And it's quite easy.


KAYE: So, now, take a look at this re-enactment video done by the Jonesboro Police Department showing how it possibly could have happened. You see the officer is this reenactment pulling a gun out from behind him. The Jonesboro community is divided about what really happened here.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: What I really don't understand how would he shoot himself in the head if he handcuffed. And they said they searched him before they put him in the car and they didn't find a weapon on him. So where did the weapon come from?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I believe that they did -- the officers did what they were to do. The young man was searched and they put him properly -- the two in front of the car. The one put them in one. But I think it's -- I think that what happened will come to justice and I believe that the young man did do what he said he -- what they said had happened, that he had shot himself in the back of the car.


KAYE: The investigation is ongoing and police are they are waiting on a complete autopsy and forensics report.

All right, so you just heard what the community thinks, you've seen the re-enactment and you've heard what police say. So, what do you think really happened the night Chavis Carter died? You can tweet me @RandiKayeCNN and we'll read some of your responses on air throughout the morning.

He has been on the campaign trail for a week, but a stop in Florida today might be the most important one of Paul Ryan's short time as the Republican vice presidential candidate. While cheering crowds have greeted Ryan much of the way, one man in Virginia had a different opinion.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Why did you lie about assessing (ph) (INAUDIBLE).


CROWD: Boo! Boo!

RYAN: You're making me feel at home.


KAYE: And we're also learning more about Paul Ryan's finances. Tax returns from the last two years show Ryan paid a 20 percent tax rate last year and a 16 percent tax rate in 2010. That's more than the 14.5 percent Mitt Romney says he paid over the same time period. Joining me now is editor Bryan Monroe.

Good morning, Bryan.

So, Paul Ryan has something of a secret weapon in Florida today, it appears. His mom, right?

BRYAN MONROE, CNNPOLITICS.COM EDITOR: Yes, you know, he's bringing his mom along. She lives down there. And, you know, Ryan, you saw the heckler in that clip earlier from Virginia. Hey, welcome to the big leagues here.

You know, he's going to be down in Florida trying to get the older crowd down there excited about his approach to the economy and specifically his take on Medicare. You know, Ryan has been attacked for, in effect, wanting to end Medicare as we know it. And there's some truth to that, but there's also a little bit of wiggle room there.

Yes, he wants to change the way that Medicare is paid for, but it won't necessarily affect a lot of the people he's talking to today down in Florida, those 55 and over. His focus is on those under 55. You and me, Randi. But, you know, he'll try to convince them that his way is a smart way and is in alignment with Mitt Romney.

KAYE: Florida's certainly one of eight states now that CNN considers toss ups in November, including the new entry, Wisconsin. That state hasn't voted Republican in nearly 30 years. President Obama won it by double digits in 2008. How do you think that affects his campaign strategy?

MONROE: Well, you know, you're right, Randi, this week CNN actually moved Wisconsin from a leaning Obama state to toss up. And that's in part -- we have some poll numbers out. But that's also in part because of Paul Ryan, who's the congressman from Wisconsin, and his big strength that's helping the Romney ticket there. So, Wisconsin is one of those states that could have gone a little bit more towards Obama, but right now we're saying it's a tossup.

KAYE: And we talked about a couple of the issues there. We certainly talked about Medicare. There's also taxes. Let's talk about that, because that seems to be one that Mitt Romney really just can't shake. I mean the taxes, of course. The Obama campaign making Team Romney an offer it flattery refused. The release of five years of returns in exchange for an end to calls by the Obama camp for more information. What does the Obama team really hope to accomplish with this strategy, do you think?

MONROE: Well, you know, in some ways, Randi, that's almost a win-win for the Obama camp. You know, it's sort of the Chicago style, I'm going to make you an offer you can't refuse. Well, in this case, they've asked that if he would to go -- if he were to go ahead and release the rest of his taxes for that period, they're not going to ask for anymore. And so, of course, the Romney campaign keeps coming back and saying, no, we're done. You're getting our last years, 2010, and then they've released the summery to 2011 and the actual 2011 taxes should be out some time this fall.

But they're done. But the Obama camp, by making this move, has said that, you know, they're -- they can win politically either way here.

KAYE: All right, editor Bryan Monroe. Nice to see you this morning, Bryan. Thank you.

MONROE: Thanks, Randi.

KAYE: And now this. They are groups that preach a message of hate, but they're not dying out. There is actually more of them. We'll examine what's behind the spike as we focus on hate in the U.S. this morning.


KAYE: Welcome back.

The man accused of shooting a building manager at the Family Research Council in Washington will not be released on bond. Instead, he'll be given a mental health investigation. But there's an interesting debate going on right now, who is to blame for Wednesday's shooting?

Here's what the head of the Family Research Council, Tony Perkins, had to say.


TONY PERKINS, PRESIDENT, FAMILY RESEARCH COUNCIL: Corkins was given a license to shoot an unarmed man by organizations like the Southern Poverty Law Center that have been reckless in labeling organizations hate groups because they disagree with them on public policy.


KAYE: Southern Poverty Law Center calls Perkins' accusation, quote, outrageous. The group released a statement saying in part, "The SPLC has listed the FRC as a hate group since 2010 because it has knowingly spread false and denigrating propaganda about lesbian, gay and bisexual people, not as some claim because it opposes same-sex marriage."

The attack at the Family Research Council wasn't just a random act of violence. You'll recall just two weeks ago, a lone gunman went on a shooting spree at a Sikh temple in Wisconsin killing six people. We later learned that gunman, Army veteran Wade Michael Page, was a white supremacist. Statistics show hate groups are on the rise in this country.

The Southern Poverty Law Center counted more than 1,000 known hate groups operating in the U.S. this year. And the FBI reported nearly 7,000 hate crimes. It is a very disturbing trend, which is why we're putting hate in the USA in focus this morning. First, we want to focus on the why. What's behind the rise in hate? Here's CNN's Susan Candiotti.


SUSAN CANDIOTTI, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): It's a disturbing trend. Hate groups are on the rise. The consequences, violence and deadly. One of the latest examples, white supremacist Wade Page targeting Sikhs at a temple in Wisconsin killing six worshippers.

HEIDI BEIRICH, SOUTHERN POVERTY LAW CENTER: The hate movement has been basically rapidly rising now for a little over a decade.

CANDIOTTI: In 2000, the Southern Poverty Law Center was tracking just over 600 hate groups. By 2011, that number dramatically increased to 1,018. What changed? Some say the changing face of America, starting with the 2000 census, which predicted by 2055 less than half of the country would be white.

BEIRICH: And if you're a white supremacist and you find that out, it's pretty terrifying because that puts an end to your dreams of creating a white nation in the United States.

CANDIOTTI: Hate groups and hate crimes are mainly motivated by race and religion. 2009, a avowed white supremacist is arrested for fatally shooting a security guard at Washington's Holocaust Memorial. He died while awaiting trial. 2011, at a Martin Luther King parade in Spokane, Washington, the FBI finds a backpack loaded with explosives. This man, identified as a white supremacist, pleads guilty to a federal hate crime.

This year, 14 alleged members of the anarchist group American Front are arrested on charges including anti-American paramilitary training and planning an attack in central Florida. Prosecutors say their ultimate aim is race war against Jews, immigrants and other minorities. Trials are scheduled for later this year.

Which brings us back to Sikh temple shooter Wade Page. How do you stop an apparent lone wolf?

BEIRICH: The sad fact is that Wade Page is just one of thousands of people who were involved in the skinhead movement, the neo-Nazi movement, who look like him with the racist tattoos, who say vile things about killing Jews or blacks or whatever the case might be. But he decided to step over into violence. Most of these people won't. And it's very, very hard to know when that's going to happen.

CANDIOTTI: The FBI says unless there's a threat of violence, agents cannot arrest them, no matter how hateful the speech.

Susan Candiotti, CNN, New York.


KAYE: Coming up next hour, our Pentagon correspondent, Chris Lawrence, takes us inside white supremacy in the military. A couple accused of going on a hate crime spree in the pacific northwest has been indicted. Federal Prosecutors say David Peterson and Holly Grigsby will face criminal racketeering charges for a 10 day crime spree to promote white supremacy. It spanned from Washington to California last October. Among the charges, four murders and kidnapping. The feds say the duo wanted to purify and preserve the white race and targeted Jewish leaders.

A federal jury has awarded $4.5 million to a University of Michigan graduate who says he was stalked and defamed by a former state prosecutor because he is gay. Twenty-two-year-old Chris Armstrong, who in 2010 was the school's first openly gay student body president, sued Andrew Shirvell after he had written despairingly about him on the Internet. Shirvell, who appeared on CNN, said he was only exercising his First Amendment rights.

The Justice Department has announced a settlement in that discrimination case at a suburban Philadelphia swim club. Back in 2009, a group of mostly black children from a Philadelphia daycare center were denied access even after they paid the membership fee. The swim club filed bankruptcy and later sold the property for more than $1 million. The proceeds from the sale will now be shared with more than 50 of the children who were part of that case.

And overseas, an unusual story of an unlikely warrior. He's already fought alongside the rebels in Libya. Now this young American is hoping to help bring down the Assad regime in Syria.


KAYE: Welcome back. Twenty-two minutes past the hour.

Last year, a Georgetown University graduate spent months in a Libyan prison after being captured by Moammar Gadhafi's forces. Now the young American wants to go to the front lines of Syria and spend time with the rebels. Nick Valencia tells us why.


NICK VALENCIA, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The green flag is how you know Nowi (ph) and I are on the frontlines.

Early last year, Matthew Vandyke left his home in the United States for Libya, to film and to fight. He wanted to help rebel forces overthrow long time dictator Moammar Gadhafi. Years before, he'd made friends with many locals during a motorcycle trip across the region.

MATT VANDYKE, WANTS TO FIGHT IN SYRIA: I decided that I couldn't just sit at home and watch this happen to people I cared about. So I decided that I would go to Libya. I called my girlfriend and said, sorry, you should come home from work, I'm on my way to Libya. And I just went.

VALENCIA: After less than a week there, Vandyke was captured by Gadhafi's forces while on a reconnaissance mission for rebels in the city of Brega. He was taken to Tripoli and held in solitary confinement, enduring what he calls psychological torture in the high security Abu Salim prison.

VANDYKE: This is where I spent about 85 days when I was first captured.

VALENCIA: And there were times when he thought his life would end there.

VANDYKE: I mean I thought that I would be in prison for 20 or 30 years or possibly executed. I was captured before NATO was involved in Libya, so I had no idea that NATO had got involved until after I escaped prison. But then after escaping prison, I went right back to the front line and continued doing it.

VALENCIA: Now nearly a year since leaving Libya, the 33-year-old graduate of Georgetown University wants to go back to the front lines, but this time, he is destined for Syria. He says he's better prepared than most for the journey.

VANDYKE: I knew people in Libya. I've been to Syria before. I've been working and living in the region for years. You know, it's not like I just threw a dart at a map and went over there.

VALENCIA: As the conflict in Syria spreads, and the casualties mount, Vandyke says he knows this journey will be even more dangerous than his ill fated trip to Libya.

VANDYKE: I'm not looking forward to it actually, going back. It's not -- it's not something -- I find people that enjoy it, I'd think something might be wrong with them, people who thrill seek in war. I don't like war tourists. I don't like people who go for a rush. If I want a rush, I'll go drive my motorcycle, like I used to do. I don't intend to die, but, obviously, when I go and put myself up on the front line, death is a possibility and I recognize that.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You guys already (ph) move back. I just got hit with shrapnel.

VALENCIA: Despite the risks, he says his family supports what he's doing.

VANDYKE: Well, my mother raised me with a set of morals. She raised me with a set of beliefs. She raised me to keep my commitments. She understood when I did not come home after escaping prison in Libya and that I stayed to fight.


KAYE: And Nick joins me now here in studio.

Wow, I mean, so he says that he's not a thrill seeker, but does he have any training to go ahead and do this?

VALENCIA: There's a lot of concerns here about what he's about to -- getting himself into right now. He is going into this with the best intentions. He says he has no formal military experience. He's never been in the service. He's never served in the U.S. Army. But he has shot guns before. He has a lot of experience in these types of areas. We mentioned in the piece there, he did this motorcycle trip across the country and made a lot of friends, so he feels comfortable in this area.

I asked him, you know, do you still have support of your friends and family? Randi, in fact, it was his mother that drove him to the airport, if you can believe that. He decided just days before going to Libya that he was going to go. I asked him, you know, are your friends and family, are they concerned about you? Do they still support you? He says, you know, my friends in America, they do. They may think I've got a screw loose a little bit, but most of my friends are in the region. Most of my friends now are in the Middle East region. He spent a lot of time there.

KAYE: Wow. And he says he's going to put this in a documentary and provide that online free of charge?

VALENCIA: Right. And one thing that he wanted us to make abundantly clear is that he does not consider himself a journalist. There was some discrepancy when he was held in solitary confinement there in Abu Salim prison. You saw that video. We got the video actually because he went back to film where he was at. This whole time he was documenting his journey, Randi, while he was in Libya. He plans on doing the same thing. And he's funding this so unconventionally. He's funding this to (ph) people sort of his generation, the youth. is this new online fund raising site. He's already raised over $12,000, if you can believe it.

KAYE: Wow, that is amazing. You contacted the State Department about this. I'm really curious to hear what they had to say about this guy.

VALENCIA: We did because, you know, we were talking here in the news room and just with other sources. Their concern for him going is that the Assad regime can point to him and say, you know, even if this is not the case, this is an example that the revolution is not a populous uprising. This is an example that there are foreign forces in place here. And, you know, Matt -- Matthew Vandyke would be one of them.

But the U.S. State Department told us -- they wouldn't comment specifically on his case, but they told us that they continue to warn U.S. citizens that travel to Syria and they said their warning sort of speaks for itself, that they "strongly recommend that U.S. citizens remaining in Syria depart immediately." But he plans on going anyway. He's going to leave in a couple of weeks. He, for security and safety reasons, wouldn't tell us exactly when he was going to go. But he plans on doing exactly what he did in Libya. This time, though, acting more as a filmmaker than an activist.

KAYE: Well, I hope he gets back safely and I hope to hear more from him and you on this when he gets back.

VALENCIA: We all do.

KAYE: Stay on it for sure.

VALENCIA: OK. KAYE: All right, Nick, thank you.


KAYE: The Free Syrian Army saying the vice president has defected, but the government giving a conflicting report. We'll get a live update from Damascus.


KAYE: Thirty-one minutes past the hour. Welcome back, everyone.

I'm Randi Kaye. Thanks so much for starting your day with us.

The top U.S. commander in Afghanistan is ordering dramatic new security measures to keep U.S. troops safe. General John Allen wants all coalition troops at NATO Headquarters in Kabul and at all bases across Afghanistan to carry loaded weapons around the clock. This after at least 24 Americans troops have been attacked and killed by Afghan forces this year alone. Just yesterday, an Afghan police officer shot and killed two U.S. soldiers in Southwestern Afghanistan.

Now to Syria, a country in turmoil. It is so dangerous U.N. observers are pulling out this weekend. And now, we are hearing conflicting reports about whether Syria's vice president have defected. Syrian rebels claimed Vice President Farouk al-Sharaa has left the regime.

Dutch Journalist Sander Van Hoorn joins me now on the phone from the Syrian capital of Damascus. Sander, good morning. What is the latest word on the Vice President? Any information on his whereabouts?

SANDER VAN HOORN, JOURNALIST (via telephone): Well, no credible information. Syrian state TV is flatly denying this defection. And rumors has been floating around for the last couple of months about the Syrian Vice President defecting. So, what we are seeing on TV in a foreign country stating the defecting (INAUDIBLE) for sure.

KAYE: And the vice president's office, as you mentioned according to state run TV there, supposedly issued a statement saying that he did not think for one second of leaving Syria. Is this the standard response?

VAN HOORN: It is a standard response. And (INAUDIBLE) we'll hear rumors about being -- or something like that. I mean, this is a propaganda of war if anything. So, even though people here know that even the Vice President is not considered to be one of the members of the (INAUDIBLE) the Syrian president of people -- after the Prime Minister -- they certainly be -- rather than it did have any effect on the ground.

KAYE: As we mentioned during Damascus, what is the situation like there on the ground?

VAN HOORN: It's tense. Still a lot of people are not leaving their homes. Damascus have seen a relative period of calm. Like two weeks without heavy fighting. But the question in the suburbs have resumed the last couple of days. And -- is anticipating the -- to comeback to Damascus. Now -- are abandoned here. So, everybody is waiting for the end of the Ramadan holiday and everybody finish the fighting even to the center of the month. So, people are very anxious.

KAYE: And it's not really just the fighting that has folks concerned there, right, disease as well?

VAN HOORN: Absolutely. A small school (INAUDIBLE) but 120 people were living there, refugees. Now, it's easily reaching 100 degrees here in Damascus. Over there is a very small school that doesn't have air- conditioning. They don't even have refrigerators. So, for example, diarrhea is becoming a real serious issue. Over one million refugees in Syria.

KAYE: Journalist Sander Van Hoorn. Thank you very much.

Back here in the U.S., in the wake of wildfires that have scorched the Western United States, one town has built a giant refuge center for hundreds of homeless animals. Stick around to see the bizarre new home of alpacas, turkeys and yes, pot-bellied pigs.


KAYE: Helping teen moms carve out a better life for themselves and their babies. That's what this week's CNN hero has committed to doing. In Columbia, it is a nation where one in five teenage girls is either pregnant or already pregnant or a mother. Meet Catalina Escobar.


UNIDENTIFIED TEENAGE MOM: (SPEAKING SPANISH) I found out I was pregnant when I was only 12-years-old. I thought my future was stinking.

CATALINA ESCOBAR, COMMUNITY CRUSADER: Teen pregnancy in Cartagena is a very big issue. When you go to the slums, it's unbelievable what you see. Many of my girls live here. This is so wrong. You see these girls. They're babies holding babies.

About 10 years ago, I was volunteering at this maternity hospital and I was holding this baby. And he passed away with me. His teen mother failed to raise the money to cover treatment. Four days later, my own son passed away in an accident.

I realized I didn't want any mother to feel the same grief that I went through. My name is Catalina Escobar and I'm helping teen moms get a healthy and productive life for them and for their babies.

When we first started at the maternity hospital, we reduced dramatically the infant mortality rate. But the real trauma, it was much bigger than that. My girls end up being pregnant because they don't have sexual education and many of my girls are sexually abused.

When my girls come, they drop their babies in the day care center. We have different workshops so they can develop their skills.

UNIDENTIFIED TEENAGE MOM: (SPEAKING SPANISH) -- to have my own restaurant. Now, I know to never give up life.

ESCOBAR: We are changing the lives of these girls. If you give them the right tools, they're capable of moving forward.


KAYE: And remember, CNN heroes are all chosen from people that you tell us about. And time is actually running out for this year. You've only got a few more weeks to nominate someone. So, be sure to go to today and do so.

All right. Check out all of these cute animals. There they are. But guess what? That's not a zoo. A giant center built for hundreds of animals that have lost their homes in raging wildfires. Sheep, alpacas, pigs, you name it. I'll take you there after this.

Good morning Atlanta. Look at that. The city is waking up with us this morning. So glad you are with us here on EARLY START WEEKEND.


KAYE: Checking stories across country now.

First to California where flash floods turn some intersections into a muddy mess yesterday. You see it there. This is in San Bernardino County. Mud slides blocked some roads. Police say, some people were trapped in their cars surrounded by rushing water. No reports of injuries.

Now to Utah where dash cam video shows officers pulling over a drunk man twice. And get this, he had his wife and four kids in the car. The first time, Robert Hills makes a run for it leading police on a chase. Look at that, let him go. For 20 minutes hitting top speeds of 115 miles per hour.

The second time police stopped him, his wife is frantic.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Please don't hurt my kids.

UNIDENTIFIED POLICE OFFICER: We're not going to hurt your kids ma'am.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I love you guys. Jasmine! Jasmine!

UNIDENTIFIED POLICE OFFICER: What was going on today, man? Where are you heading?



HILLS: Uh, Hollywood.

UNIDENTIFIED POLICE OFFICER: Not too smart to run too much when you have your four kids are in the car, right? You could've rolled or blown that spare tire man.


KAYE: No one was hurt. Hills apparently had a record, that's why he didn't want to stop. He faces DUI charges and reckless driving.

And in Kansas City, Missouri, a war veteran has been reunited with a dog that saved his life. Logan Black and Diego, the bomb sniffing dog worked at least 40 missions together in Iraq.

LOGAN BLACK, IRAQ WAR VETERAN: He comes up and starts sniffing a lot right next to where I'm standing. And then gives me a full indication that hey, dad, something is here. It turned out that there were two roadside bombs had been buried to deep for metal detectors to find.


KAYE: After retiring, Black wanted to adopt Diego, but the pup was still owned by the government. But last week, after five years he was finally allowed to take him home. How nice is that?

Turning now to the dozens of wildfires scorching the Western United States. We have covered the toll the fires are taken on locals and the economy. But hundreds of animals are also suffering.

Dan Simon is in Washington State where a makeshift relief center has been set up for those who have been displaced.


DAN SIMON, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): From sheep, to alpacas, to turkeys and pigs. The Kittitas County, Washington Fairgrounds has turned into a giant animal refuge center.

It all began when people were forced to flee their homes, while they went to shelters or to stay with friends or family, the animals too needed a place to go.

So the county said they could come here. And since the fire broke out, it's been a temporary home to as many as 400 animals.

(on camera) How big of an event has this fire been for this community?

MARK KINSEL, VETERINARIAN: It's a -- I can't put it in words. I have never seen anything like it in my nearly 50 years. People have asked me, have you ever done this before? I have gone through training and simulated exercises. But doing the real thing, it's a whole different learning process.

SIMON (voice-over): Mark Kinsel is the lead veterinarian whose skills became vital in saving some of the injured animals.

KINSEL: We had reports of large number of burn victims coming to triage. We had set up a triage center. And I had to go take a walk and kind of regroup. And, you know, I was starting to tear up and said, OK, you have to deal with this and put your emotions aside and, you know, get ready to go.

SIMON: These are the lucky ones. Authorities believe many, possibly hundreds of animals died in the fire. Some owners racing to cut their fences to give their livestock or pets a fighting chance.

KINSEL: There are probably still a large number of animals, horses, and cattle running around the county. And there are a lot of good Samaritans there finding the animals just out in the field or out on the corner of road. And we have the sheriff's department report them in and we send crews out and get them.

SIMON: Kim Colluci just moved to town two weeks ago and was frantic to get her horses to safety. Also at stake her livelihood raising goats.

KIM COLLUCI, EVACUEE: We're with them from the time they're born. We attend their births. We are there, you know, through the whole pregnancy, and then we milk morning and night.

SIMON: Kinsel says, the animals can stay here indefinitely. And the community has stepped up with tons of donations.


KAYE: Thank you very much, Dan. And to read more or find out how to help, you can check out

Mourning in South Africa after a grizzly violence at a mine left dozens dead. A look at the toll, the blood bath is taken on the community and what's behind it.


KAYE: South Africans are still reeling from what some have called a blood bath at a platinum mine where dozens were killed in fighting with police. It happened near the mine in the city of Marikana just about two and a half hours northwest of Johannesburg. It all began when miners complaining of low wages went on strike. Many of them, as you can see here were brandishing machetes and other weapons.

Violence erupted when police open fire in what they say was self defense. The grim toll after it all, at least 44 dead including 34 mine workers killed Thursday alone. Seventy eight others wounded. Two hundred fifty nine arrested on various charges.

Joining us live from near the scene is CNN's Nkepile Mabuse.

But before we get into this, Nkepile, let me just warn our viewers that some of the images they're about to see are quite disturbing. You have been speaking with members of the mining community today. What do they have to say to you?

NKEPILE MABUSE, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, I have Randi. And you'll see a constantly, there's a helicopter hovering above us. A very heavy police presence. The situation here (INAUDIBLE) very, very tense, calm but tense. Behind me, I don't know if you can see that but hundreds of members of the community have gathered to listen to an extolled ruling party leader Julius Malema.

He's a very controversial character but he's very popular in South Africa among the poorest of the poor. Because they see him as their voice. They see him speaking on their behalf. Ironically, he arrived in a range rover. And lots of people criticize him for exploiting a very vulnerable community. A community members yesterday meeting a distraught mother of two looking who are desperately looking for her husband.

Her husband had been protesting with those hundreds of miners who had not been going to work since last week Friday demanding higher wages. We went with her to a police station, we went with her to two hospitals. She finally found her husband. And today, her husband gave us a horrific account of what he went through. He was shot in the leg. He said, the bullet went through one end and came out the other. Another bullet grazed his head. He raised his hands to surrender pleading with the police.

And he was hit with a rubber bullet in the hand that he raised. He says, he thought that he was going to die there. Luckily, he made it out alive. He says, people around him were just falling all over the place. Of course, 34 people dead and over 78 injured. Really, really horrific scenes that we witnessed here in South Africa -- Randi.

KAYE: And when you hear that story, tough, you have to remember that police say that they fired in self-defense. Do they still stand by that?

MABUSE: Exactly. And the National Police Commissioner addressed the nation for the very first time yesterday and she stands by that. She says that the police used live ammunition as an absolute last resort. She says, the police tried to negotiate with these miners. You have seen the pictures. They were wielding machetes and traditional weapons. And police say, some of them were armed with guns as well.

We've actually seen pictures of a miner who -- with a gun shooting back at the police on that Thursday afternoon when all of this unfolded. The police saying, they were attacked first and responded in self-defense. If you speak to miners who were there at the protest, they say the police provoked the miners. So, permission of inquiry has been launched by the president of the country. And we are hoping that some of those questions will be answered by that inquiry -- Randi.

KAYE: So, is the government looking to take some action here?

MABUSE: Well, President Jacob Zuma has a trip to Mozambique very, very short yesterday. He was attending a regional summit but he rushed back to South Africa of course following this horrific, shocking news. It has not only shocked the world, shocked South Africans themselves. They are asking questions about why violence has become so pervasive in our society.

The President as I said, launching a commission of inquiry. But obviously, a lot more needs to be done. Obviously, the systems that are in place for workers like these to express their grievances are not working. Workers are resorting to violence and resorting to illegal strikes in order for their wages to be increased. So, there's a lot going on in South Africa that needs to be dealt with not only to an investigation but also political intervention.

Labor laws need to be looked at. And the leaders in the unions also need to be intervening on some level to speak to these people and calm them down and really get them to connect to what the systems that are put in place in South Africa in order for these wage disputes to be resolved inevitably -- Randi.

KAYE: Let's hope they get some answers for sure. CNN's Nkepile Mabuse reporting live for us in Johannesburg, South Africa. Thank you very much.

A salmonella outbreak that has affected nearly half the United States is being blamed on cantaloupes. More on that in just about ten minutes.


KAYE: Just about the top of the hour. We asked you what you think happened the night Chavis Carter died. Remember Arkansas police say, the 21-year-old shot himself in the head after he was searched, handcuffed and put in the back of the police car. Carter's family and others suspect foul play.

Cathy tweeted me saying, "I think Chavis tried to get his hidden gun while he was cuffed, fumbled with it and accidentally shot himself."

Jesse was quick to respond to that saying, "Yes, that could happen in a cartoon. The kid was searched twice by professionals."

Q writes in, "Who do those police think they are fooling? They shot that young man. And it wasn't an accident. Wish they'd not sugar coat this."

Ms. L says, "It is mysterious. Saw the reenactment but he didn't appear in anyway suicidal. Two others in the vehicle with him, where were they?"

The answer to that is they had been released. They had been questioned and released as well.

Representative Jesse Jackson, Jr. who is on medical leave from Congress is suffering from quote, "serious depression," that is according to his long time friend and former Massachusetts Congressman Patrick Kennedy who visited Jackson at the Mayo Clinic where he is receiving treatment for bipolar disorder.

Kennedy spoke to Ashleigh Banfield about the perception of mental illness and why Jackson's story has grabbed headlines.


PATRICK KENNEDY, FORMER U.S. REPRESENTATIVE: Brain like every other work in the body sometimes gets sick. But because it's our brain, we stigmatize the illnesses. Because the symptoms of these illnesses are behavioral. If he was there for cancer, you wouldn't be doing the show tonight. Most Americans wouldn't care because they'd say, well, just got get the help. If you have cancer, get treated.

But because Jesse has a mental illness as I do, myself, and is fighting for his recovery, it somehow sparks this prurient interest. Because we have a fascination with mental illness. Because it's something we don't understand very much.


KAYE: Kennedy says, he expects Jackson to make an announcement about his political future in just a few weeks.

Thanks for starting your morning with us. The next hour of "CNN SATURDAY MORNING" starts right now.