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Wildfires Scorch SoCal; NH Police Commissioner Calls Obama the "N" Word; Sterling May Refuse to Pay Fine, Sue NBA; Battling Cancer with the Measles Virus

Aired May 16, 2014 - 11:00   ET


MICHAELA PEREIRA, CNN CO-ANCHOR: Raging infernos scorch more than 10,000 acres in California's San Diego County. Mandatory evacuations are ordered as houses go up in flame.

What will the weather hold up for the firefighters?

JOHN BERMAN, CNN CO-ANCHOR: Donald Sterling has been playing defense since his racist ramblings went public, but now may be switching to offense, reports @ THIS HOUR that he doesn't plan to pay his fine, and he might take the NBA to court.

PEREIRA: Then --


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Isn't it awful that it's quite evident somebody is lying here? Somebody is lying.


PEREIRA: First the plane goes missing then the satellite data used to try to find it.

So where did that data go, and is someone lying?

BERMAN: Hello, everyone. I'm John Berman.

PEREIRA: And I'm Michaela Pereira, those stories and much more, right now, @ THIS HOUR.

BERMAN: We're going to begin on the frontlines of these wildfires raging in California.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Wow, there it is right there. There it is right there.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Oh, my god! Oh, my god!


BERMAN: The sights and sounds are simply overwhelming. You can hear the terror in his voice.

One person has been killed. Tens of thousands have been evacuated as fire crews in San Diego battle fierce wildfires that keep rolling from one community to another, spawning firenadoes, which are real things, funnels of flames that look like tornados.

PEREIRA: Terrifying images there, terrifying to live through.

We know this at this point. More than 10,000 acres have gone up in flames. We're talking about home after home, neighborhood after neighborhood scorched.

Our Dan Simon is in the hard-hit city of Escondido. Glad to have you with us. Give us an idea. They're hoping, I know, for better weather conditions.

What is the situation right now, Dan?

DAN SIMON, CNN CORRESPONDENT: First of all, it was a tough, long night of firefighting. The latest neighborhood to get hit is where I am in Escondido.

You can see this house, which is completely leveled. You can actually still see some flames over there. That was a bedroom or a living room.

Right now the temperatures are cooler than they were yesterday, and the humidity are rising, so that's all good news. Not much wind, so hopefully that will allow the firefighters to get a hand on this thing.

But you still have eight, active fires burning, so there is a concern that things could get worse.

We know that two people were actually arrested. They're accused of trying to start some fires. Immediately, when all these fires broke out, there was speculation that arson may be at play here.

And now that you have two people arrested, accused of trying to start some brushfires, there's more speculation that perhaps they might be involved in some of the bigger fires.

But that's something the authorities will be investigating. But right now of course is trying to put out these fires and then, simultaneously, they're going to be looking at the cause.

Michaela and John?

PEREIRA: Yeah, absolutely. The priority is save lives, save structures and then they look at the investigation.

Dan, thanks so much for that.

We want to join Carlos McEntire. He joins us from San Marcos. His home is right in that fire zone. Carlos, are you able to hear us?

CARLOS MCENTIRE, SAN DIEGO COUNTY RESIDENT: I am able to hear you. PEREIRA: And I see that you.

MCENTIRE: Good morning.

PEREIRA: It looks like your daughter here is with you. We understand that one of the fires went right through the area.

You sent us some really unbelievable video on CNN iReport. Why don't you tell us what that experience was like for you and your family?

MCENTIRE: It's pretty frightening. There's not much you can plan for or deal with. It just happens, and you're scrambling to try to save lives over everything else. So it's -- you're just reacting. You're not thinking at all.

BERMAN: Describe those moments for me when you knew that this fire was getting way too close to you, your home and family.

MCENTIRE: It happened -- it really happened really fast. Literally in a matter of probably 20 to 35 minutes there was literally nothing there.

I had walked out. I looked at the area. There was -- the brush was all there and intact. And I walked back in and within 20 minutes the entire area was 20, 30 feet of flames and a wall of flames.

And the crews were scrambling to try to get there, and next thing I knew, there were helicopters doing air drops on top of us, and 20 minutes earlier, the winds were blowing in the opposite direction and everything was safe, sane and normal.

PEREIRA: When you see those helicopters come in, I know it is a relief, but they have a lot of work ahead of them with those high winds. That's a challenge. They can't always fly when those winds are strong.

Carlos, talk to me about those moments of when you figure, we've got to get out of here. Tell us about that, what your plan was for your family. Where did you go?

MCENTIRE: Well, immediately, the first thing we did was we got -- we made sure all the kids were out and safe, and then it was a matter of what can I grab within two or three minutes before everything's gone.

We have insurance. Everything's replaceable. You can't replace the kids and the lives, so it's literally that fast. You just put a couple of things that you can think of, grab a couple of clothes for tomorrow, and get ready and scramble.

The -- we've been here for a long time. We went through this firestorm in 2007, and it was the exact same scenario, but the amazing part with this one was the aerial assets.

Without those six or seven helicopters, the DC-10, the two planes, those things were unbelievable and amazing and they saved hundreds if not thousands of houses, and without a doubt, they saved our entire community and the university.

BERMAN: Give me a sense of the status of your home at this point. How did it do through these fires? And do you feel safe even now?

MCENTIRE: Our entire area, we rest up against a greenbelt that comes around right next to the university, and 270 degrees around us has all burned. There's nothing left to burn.

We're safe. Our houses are intact. Everything's good. There's some units that have a little singe, but honestly, we're safe now. There's nothing else that can burn or come around us.

PEREIRA: Carlos McEntire and your beautiful daughter there, you're among the lucky ones. We're so glad to know you folks are OK. Please stay safe. Thanks for sending us in that iReport and letting us know what that's been like.

The fire fight is so very important, and it's also -- it's dangerous. Those guys that are up in those water-dropping helicopter, they know what they're doing and they're so vital.

But it's so early in the season. CAL FIRE has really got their work set out for them.

BERMAN: The lucky thing is there's some better weather headed that way, even today, over the next few days, so lucky for them.

PEREIRA: We have some other headlines that we are following @ THIS HOUR.

We want to take you to Turkey where 18 miners are still missing, believed to be trapped below ground. Three days after a mine explosion and fire, smoke and fumes are making it very difficult to reach those men.

Rescue operations continue but hope is fading now that any more survivors will be found. Two-hundred-eighty-four people are confirmed dead.

Turkish riot police have also been clashing with protesters in the town of Soma, the town of the deadly mine disaster.

BERMAN: Just a few minutes ago, we learned that General Motors is going have the pay the government $35 million. This is a fine to settle a federal investigation into G.M. delaying a recall for 10 years.

Now it was an ignition switch problem, remember, that was tied to at least 13 deaths. The company admitted that its employees knew of the problem as early as 2004, but G.M. didn't start the recall of 2.6 million cars until this February.

PEREIRA: The Los Angeles Clippers fell to the Thunder, but now they're bracing for this storm. Sounds like something you'd say, John. They were bounced from the playoffs by the Oklahoma City Thunder. Now there are reports that owner Donald Sterling is going to actually fight the NBA over his fine and his banishment for his racist comments and that he might even sue the league.

Basically, Sterling is saying he did nothing wrong and shouldn't suffer any consequences at all.

This all flies in the face, though, of what he told Anderson Cooper.

So what is Sterling up to? And can he actually win this fight? We're going to talk all about it with a sports attorney in just a few minutes.

BERMAN: This next story is going to surprise you. A New Hampshire police officer is refusing to apologize for calling President Obama the "N" word.

Robert Copeland sat with his arms crossed in a packed town hall meeting while a crowd of angry residents demanded his resignation. The 82-year-old was overhead using the racial slur at a restaurant in March.

The woman who overheard the conversation said she wrote the Wolfeboro town manager about the incident and she received a defiant reply from the police commissioner himself, saying, quote, "I believe I did use the 'N' word in reference to the current occupant of the White House. For this I do not apologize. He meets and exceeds my criteria for such."

Let that sink in for a moment.

Wolfeboro on Lake Winnipesaukee is a town of some 6,300 people. Just 20 of them are African-Americans, and as of now, this man is still the police commissioner of this town.

PEREIRA: Can we follow this story to see what happens here?

BERMAN: I don't think it's going to end well for that police commissioner is my bet.

PEREIRA: I don't either.

Coming up, interesting medical story, could it be a breakthrough? Measles may have saved a woman's life who had cancer. You heard right. We'll tell you more.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The wave of the future, and I'm so excited for other people to experience this.



ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR, "AC 360": Do you think the punishment that the NBA handed down, the $2.5 million fine, not having an business dealing, not being able to go to any games, is that fair? Or is that unfair?

DONALD STERLING, L.A. CLIPPERS OWNER: Well, I feel it's a little bit harsh, you know, but --

COOPER: Which part of it?

STERLING: -- what is the league supposed to do? They're in a storm, and a stupid owner has created all these problems.

They have to show that they're not going to stand for it. The league won't stand for that. They won't stand for racism, I'm telling you.

And I did it. So is it harsh? Of course, it's harsh, but it's not like I don't deserve -- I thought they were going do more.


PEREIRA: Yeah, you heard Donald Sterling say that he thought he deserved a harsher punishment for his racist rant.

Well, I guess he changed his mind. The L.A. Clippers own is now he's refusing to pay his $2.5 million dollar fine, he's rejecting his lifetime ban from the league --

BERMAN: And on top of all that, he's threatening to sue the NBA if the NBA does not leave him alone.

This is an interesting, to say the least.


BERMAN: We're talking with sports attorney Dominic Romano. He's here with us in New York.

And our Stephanie Elam is in Los Angeles. And Stephanie had the honor of attending the L.A. Clippers game last night, the final game of the L.A. Clippers season, they fell to the Oklahoma City Thunder last night. Stephanie, the players, the coaches, do you get the sense they're now blaming the Sterling controversy for at least being involved with this loss?

STEPANIE ELAM, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Not at all, John and Michaela. They could have pointed out things that may have been an issue but they really did take the high road. In the post-game presser Chris Paul said when he was lacing up his shoes, the last thing he was thinking of was Donald Sterling. Said the only game that he felt like this issue weighing on them was the first game in Oakland. I was at that game as well, when they wore their jerseys inside out, the warmup jerseys. They said that's the only game they felt like that affected them. The rest of those was just about he Thunder beat them. Take a look at what more Chris had to say.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) CHRIS PAUL, L.A. CLIPPERS PLAYER: To tell you the truth, we don't think about that, you know what I mean? Like that's the least of my worries right now is him. We just lost the damn series. I'm sorry, but we don't care about that.


ELAM: They were really classy about it. Yeah they said there were other distractions but that really wasn't about it. And Coach Doc Rivers said the same thing. Did it play into it, maybe a little bit but they didn't want to take away from the fact that the Thunder won the series out and out.

PEREIRA: Now that the playoffs are over, I think it will be more front of mind for the team and the coach. Obviously I want to bring in our attorney and talk about this thing. We should point out, this is sports illustrated reporting the fact that he's not going to pay -- Donald Sterling is not going to pay the fine, that he's going to sue. I want to talk to you about that aspect. He's bringing in an anti- trust lawyer. What is the purpose in that? What can with gained, and does he have a case?

DOMINIC ROMANO, SPORTS AND ENTERTAINMENT LAWYER: Belcher, a lawyer who has represented him before, when he moved the Clippers from San Diego to Los Angeles.


ROMANO: It's interesting. Anti-trust or anti-competitive restraint of trade is what he's probably going to allege. But think about this. He's part of the billionaires club, owner in the NBA. His franchise went from under $13 million to pay for it to reportedly close to a billion. So it's hard to have sympathy. On one hand he's saying or his lawyer is saying, look, he's not admitting any guilt. He's done nothing wrong. The lawyer's lettering, Belcher's letter, says he's done nothing wrong, Yet on Anderson Cooper he said, I'm terribly, terribly sorry, aren't I allowed one mistake in 35 years, I'll never do it again. Which is it?

BERMAN: The question is not whether we have sympathy with Donald Sterling but whether he has a case here. I have to say, you are a sports attorney and it you were arguing against me, I would run for the hills because your voice is so low and powerful. But does he have a case here especially considering -- I've got to say if Donald Sterling comes back next season, those players aren't playing for him.

ROMANO: There is a need for speed here in terms of resolution. The NBA wants this resolved as soon as possible. Maybe there's a negotiated settlement but at the end of the day it is going to be difficult to see how and anti-trust claim can be sustained under the circumstances. He signed the franchise agreements, he signed the venture agreements when he entered the league. He agreed now, for 35 years, to be bound by their rules. All of a sudden they rule against him. All of a sudden he's refusing to pay the 2.5 million dollar fine and go quietly. PEREIRA: But I have got to tell you, that's the thing, You make a very good point. He is setting up for a fight. We'll have to see how that plays out. Stephanie Elam, thank you so much. You're going to definitely keep an I on this story for us , there in L.A.. Domonic thanks you also so much.

We want you to stick around with us at this hour because we actually want to talk about another sports story. Michael Same, the kiss seen around the world. Was that orchestrated for the camera's? Some are asking that, or suggesting that? Sam was also receiving backlash over his decision to star in a reality show. Is it the right move for his football career though? . That's ahead @ THIS HOUR..

BERMAN: Also ahead @ THIS HOUR, a woman's cancer goes into remission. Why? She was given measles. That's right. Injected with a huge dose of measles. Is measles now a miracle cancer cure? we'll explore coming up.


BERMAN: We have an amazing medical story to tell you about right now, an experimental cancer treatment that really will surprise you. Doctors at the Mayo Clinic said a huge dose of the measles put a woman's deadly blood cancer into remission.


STACY ERHOLTZ, RECEIVED TREATMENT: I had a Plasmacytoma right here on my forehead the size of a golf ball. Within 36 hours it was gone.


PEREIRA: Could this be new hope for a whole range of cancer patients? Let's talk to our senior medical correspondent Elizabeth Cohen, joining us from Atlanta. We should point out, little bit of caution, this is not a miracle cure, this is not a cure, and it is only one case but there is some promise certain cancers correct?

ELIZABETH COHEN, CNN SENIOR MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: Correct. This is not a treatment that anybody can get any time soon nor should they because we're not quite sure it works well for everybody. In fact, we're quite clear it doesn't. For this one patient, 49-year-old Stacy Erholtz,, she got the treatment and she had a great response. The cancer went away. But it did come back nine months later. It did return. She then got a little bit of radiation, it went away again and it is still away several months later. It worked for her, but it did not work well for five other patients. So doctors are in the exploratory phase here. They are thinking why did it work for her and not the others, how can we tweak this? What can we do? Are we absolutely sure this is safe? Those are the kinds of things we're talking about right knew.

BERMAN: Let's talk about the way they're going about this. Viruses, not necessarily measles, but other viruses been shown to be successful in battling cancer before? COHEN: You know John they have worked with other viruses to see if they will attack cancer. Viruses are kind of natural born killer, that's what they do, attack things and then they engineering this particular measles virus to be particularly vicious against cancer. There have been some sort of varying levels of success with other viruses. This one seems to work particularly well against a particularly bad case of cancer.

PEREIRA: Where do they go from here? Obviously more research is needing, clearly.

COHEN: Right. More research and more patience and they need to look more specifically. We should have been vaccinated against measles or people had measles as children --

BERMAN: That's a whole other issue.

COHEN: Right. Whole other issue I won't go into right now. Our bodies, many people's bodies, seem to be fighting off this treatment which is maybe why it fighting off other treatments. The bodies are saying, oh, I know measles. I'm going to fight this off. They also just need to continue to make sure that it is safe. One thing I will say that they did that was incredibly smart they engineered the virus so that it wouldn't get the patient measles. Cause you know that is the last thing you want to do is give a cancer patient measles, So they had to tweaked it.

PEREIRA: You're already sick enough. You don't need to be dealing with that additionally. Interestingly though that this could be promising for some cancers. We will continue to watch this. Elizabeth Cohen thanks for breaking it down for us. Thanks.

BERMAN: Straight ahead for us @ THIS HOUR, a riot breaks out in the town where a deadly mine accident occurred. This is going on right now, and we'll bring you there live next.


BERMAN: Some news in to CNN from Turkey. From Soma, the site of that deadly mine disaster where more than 280 miners have been killed. There are still 18 people missing. There have been protests this morning that have turned physical, and turned violent outside that mine. You're looking at some of these pictures right now.

PEREIRA: The locals have been very upset about the safety of the mine. They have concern that the government hasn't taken the proper procedures to secure this mine, and you can tell tempers have erupted. We have riot police in place and they're obviously trying to quell an upset crowd.

BERMAN: It's very interesting. In the United States when we have this kind of disaster, you see the government coming in to assist people, people rallying around the relief effort. Here it seems to be a very much a pitched battle of rhetoric between those effected by the mine disaster and the government itself. The prime minister even said something highly controversial.