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Rescue Missions Ends in La Conchita; Gang Violence on the Rise

Aired January 14, 2005 - 09:30   ET


KELLY WALLACE, CNN ANCHOR: Also, we will talk about a new federal offensive against street gangs. 21,000 gangs are now said to be out there and police say the weapons are becoming more sophisticated and the violence more extreme. Kelli Arena rode along with members of one anti-gang task force. We'll get her report.
BILL HEMMER, CNN ANCHOR: All right, Kelly. Daryn Kagan's also with us today on a Friday morning at the CNN Center. How you doing, Daryn? Good morning now.

DARYN KAGAN, CNN ANCHOR: I'm doing great. Good morning, Bill. We're going to start in California, in Corona, where a group of residents are being evacuated. It's just a precaution. Authorities say they're concerned about rising water behind a Riverside County dam due to all the recent rain in the area. More than 800 houses are being evacuated. An evacuation center has been set up for residents fleeing their homes.

The search continues this hour in Iraq for a group of escaped Abu Ghraib prisoners. Police say that 38 detainees got loose yesterday while heading to a courthouse in Baghdad. Ten of the runaways had been recaptured. Iraqis authorities have set up checkpoints in the area and are sending patrols to the homes of those still missing.

India now says it will begin accepting aid from international donors. The announcement coming nearly three weeks after the tsunami struck India's east coast, killing more than 10,000 people. India has said it would provide citizens with short term emergency aid but would need help with more expensive reconstruction efforts.

And L.A. Lakers star Kobe Bryant is due to get an MRI today after a clash with the Cleveland Cavaliers. Here's the pictures. The Lakers say Bryant severely sprained his right ankle mid-way through the first quarter during last night's game. No word yet on how long Bryant will be out. The Lakers, by the way, did win the game, 98 to 94. He is the second leading scorer in the NBA so far this season -- Bill.

HEMMER: That was supposed to be a big heated match between Lebron James and Kobe Bryant, too. Hey, what's coming up at 10:00?

KAGAN: Well, of course, we'll be keeping our eyes on the Charles Graner military trial. Also the Huygens probe as it heads towards Saturn. And I'll be talking with the author, a woman who has written a book called "Why French Women Don't Get Fat." How do they eat all that creamy sauce and wonderful food?

HEMMER: Olive oil, red wine.

KAGAN: She will tell us. Stay tuned. Not like you need it, Bill.

HEMMER: Thank you, Daryn.

KAGAN: No suggestion there.

HEMMER: Have a good weekend.

KAGAN: You, too.

HEMMER: See you later -- Kelly.

WALLACE: Thanks, Bill. Turning to news in California where authorities are reporting there are no bodies left in the mountain of mud. But the town of La Conchita still considered a danger zone five days after that massive mudslide claimed ten lives.

Eric Philips now in Ventura, California. Eric, what is the latest from there?

ERIC PHILIPS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Kelly, good morning. A little bit later on this morning, residents will gather here at the Ventura fairgrounds so they can find out how they can safely get back to what's left of their homes. Some of those homes intact, others seriously damaged. The search and rescue mission in La Conchita was called off yesterday after officials determined that the mountain was once again on the move.


PHILIPS (voice-over): Workers paused for a short memorial service and moment of silence before they left the massive mud mound that claimed ten lives. Yesterday, geologists said the mountain may be moving again and that it wasn't safe for crews to continue search and rescue efforts.

CHIEF BOB ROPER, VENTURA COUNTY FIRE DEPT: With the shift of the land, we are now moving this operation from a rescue operation to a reestablishment of the community.

PHILIPS: By the time the search was called off, all of the confirmed missing had been accounted for. Next, officials will working with residents anxious to get back to what's left of their homes. Authorities stress, though, that this area is still not a safe place to live. A reality Jimmie Wallet has come to terms with. He lost his wife and three daughters in the mudslide.

JIMMIE WALLET, FAMILY KILLED IN MUDSLIDE: This whole hill's coming down. La Conchita's gone. I know this for a fact. It's going down. That was the beginning of what's going to happen there. It's just the beginning.

(END VIDEOTAPE) PHILIPS: Jimmie Wallet may be in the minority where that sentiment is concerned. Most residents are anxious to get back to what they call their paradise and rebuild their lives -- Kelly.

WALLACE: And Eric, for those folks who are starting to return to their homes, what are going to find, what obstacles are they going to face?

PHILIPS: Well, there are some serious obstacles they have yet to face. For those who have their homes still intact, there's an issue of utilities like gas and power and water. All of those were knocked out when that massive mudslide hit on Monday. And so even if they get back to their homes and their belongings are still intact, the houses really are not still inhabitable just yet.

WALLACE: Eric, a lot of tough work ahead. Eric Phillips from Ventura, California. Thanks so much -- Bill.

HEMMER: A mountain community in California completely cut off from the outside world, we're told. Supplies have to be airlifted into Fallo's Camp (ph). Heavy rains washing out three bridges led to the area, about 30 miles northeast of L.A., east of where Eric is reporting.

One of the pair of tornadoes touching yesterday off a warehouse fire in Laurens, South Carolina. Tires were burning until early this morning. Some mobile homes were smashed by those twisters. No serious injuries, though, luckily reported there.

Flood damage in Washington County, Utah. Amazing videotape to watch here. That damage now estimated at $86 million and that does not count the private property. At least 14 homes now swept away by the river, the Santa Clara river, dozens more said to be severely damaged.

And not even Hawaii escaping a winter blast here. Forget the surfboards. Time for a snow board. A foot of snow falling on the slopes of Mauna Kea on the big island of Hawaii. Only problem, it is a long walk back up. There is no ski lift on that island.

Also in Colorado, they're used to snow and ice. But one street too tough for Denver drivers. It was vehicle after vehicle, SUV after SUV. 28 cars in all smacking into each other. A couple of people jumped out of their sliding vehicles. They got out in time. Luckily, no one seriously injured there. But this videotape that we have watched time and time again throughout the morning here.


WALLACE: After dropping dramatically in the late 1990s, gang- related killings are on the rise, and not just in cities like Los Angeles. CNN has learned that the FBI will soon announce a new plan to combat the growing violence, but state and local governments are already knee deep in the process.

More now from Kelli Arena, CNN's justice correspondent. (BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

KELLI ARENA, CNN JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): It's early evening in Northern Virginia and these members of the Gang Task Force are getting ready to head out into the streets. Their targets are young, at times as young as seven or eight, and dangerous. Earlier in the week, an alleged gang member wielding a machete cut three fingers off his victim's left hand. And this night could bring similar violence.

TROOPER VEGA, NO. VA. GANG TASK FORCE: They'll throw some signs or flash some hand signs to see whether they're friend or foe. Then if they're foe, that's where you get your assaults.

ARENA: Both men, who work under cover and wanted their faces hidden, give extra scrutiny to young Latinos. That's because they are primarily on the hunt for members of the Latin street gang known as MS-13. The ATF, which has been fighting gangs for decades, says the increased use of violence by MS-13 and others is alarming.

MIKE BOUCHARD, ATF: They're arming themselves much better than before. In fact, in many cases, they're arming themselves better than the police.

ARENA: The justice department estimates there are more than 21,000 gangs nationwide.

(on camera): And the FBI says juvenile gang murders have shot up 25 percent since 2000. CNN has learned as a result, the FBI is preparing a new gang offensive.

(voice-over): Among the changes, to reclassify gangs as criminal organizations just like traditional organized crime families.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: They are organized. They do keep notes in their meetings. They do collect dues.

ARENA: Part of the gang offensive includes outreach. Many Task Force members work with organizations like the Boys and Girls Clubs of America. Some of the young people in this room have been asked to join gangs.

DAYRON WINCHEETER, STUDENT: They still cuss at me a little bit, flick me off, cuss, try to hurt my feelings. I mean, because I didn't join them.


ARENA: These kids are well aware of the problem. Often their parents are not.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And that's what shocks me the most.

ARENA: Most Gang Task Force members are parents, too, fathers of young children, making their battle a very personal one.

Kelli Arena, CNN, Washington.


WALLACE: We thank Kelli Arena for that exclusive report.

Next week, as part of CNN's inauguration coverage, we will try to tap into the top issues facing the president as seen through the eyes of everyday Americans. It is a special series called "What's In It For Me?" On Monday, the lodge-term plan for Iraq. When will U.S. troops get to come home for good? We talk to a woman whose husband has been in Iraq for about a year. That is Monday morning, only right here on AMERICAN MORNING.

HEMMER: Kelly, thanks. That's Monday. In a moment here, here's what's coming up next on "90-Second Pop."

Stars rubbing elbows for one big night. The Golden Globes this weekend. Which film comes out on top?

And will the "Desperate Housewives" knock off a Golden Globe darling? Predictions ahead, on AMERICAN MORNING.



HEMMER: Not bad for a Friday. I mean, Prince, right, (UNINTELLIGIBLE) jukebox? "90-Second Pop." Here to play with us, Sarah Bernard, contributing editor for "New York" magazine.

How are you doing, Sarah? It's nice to see you.


HEMMER: Perfect for the red carpet wearing your red top.

BERNARD: That's right. That's right.

HEMMER: Toure, the prince of urban populism.

TOURE, CNN POP CULTURE CORRESPONDENT: Urban populism, there you go, baby!

HEMMER: And Jessica Shaw from "Entertainment Weekly."

You, too, with the red thing. Jess, good morning to you.

JESSICA SHAW, "ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY": We planned this look in honor of Sunday.

HEMMER: All right, let's talk about the Golden Globes on Sunday. Best film you think will win is what?

SHAW: What I think will win will be "Finding Neverland." I think everyone else in the world thinks it will be "Million Dollar Baby."

BERNARD: Yes, I was...

SHAW: I'm going out on a limb here, because I think it's a sentimental favorite. I think "Million Dollar Baby," an amazing movie, Clint Eastwood the director, obviously people love him, but that has gotten tremendous momentum. But it's all recent.

HEMMER: Toure looks like he ate a lion this morning.



TOURE: I mean, I saw "Finding Neverland." My fiance loved it. I didn't love it so much. The buzz is around "Aviator" versus "Million Dollar Baby." I don't think "Aviator" was that good, people. I think the role was too much for Leonardo. It's going to be "Million Dollar Baby's" night, because everybody loves Clint Eastwood and everybody loves what happened to Hilary Swank's character.

BERNARD: But don't you think that "Aviator" is going to win best director for Martin Scorsese? I think he's got a lock on it.

HEMMER: Well, our friend, Toure, from two weeks ago, he said Martin Scorsese wasted three hours of his life.

TOURE: That's right, baby.

BERNARD: He wanted it back.

TOURE: Actually, six with "Gangs of New York" as well.

HEMMER: All right.

SHAW: The crazy thing about the Golden Globes is that they actually split up the films. Unlike the Oscars, they have a drama category and then a music-comedy category. So a film like "Sideways" is going to...

HEMMER: Sure, sure.

SHAW: ... 100% win that category.

BERNARD: I think you're right.

TOURE: No, no, no, it's "The Incredibles" has to win best comedy.


TOURE: Come on! That's just pure fun.

HEMMER: We're not short of opinions.

SHAW: I think "Eternal Sunshine," however... TOURE: That was great. That was great.

SHAW: ... the best movie of the year, and that should win the best movie award.

HEMMER: Let's go to best actress. Is it Hilary Swank?

SHAW: Absolutely, Hilary Swank. I think she is definitely the favorite. She will win for "Million Dollar Baby," because that picture will not win.

BERNARD: Well, you know, what's interesting about this? In 1999, when Hilary Swank won her Oscar for "Boys Don't Cry," she was up against Annette Bening for "American Beauty," who obviously is up again for "Being Julia." But since the categories are split, they're going to be probably both winning their own categories. I bet Hilary Swank will win for drama and Annette Bening will win for musical- comedy. But then we'll see what happens when the Oscar nominations come out.

HEMMER: Well, we're done. Why watch Sunday night, right? Best actor, who do you like?

SHAW: Jamie Foxx all the way.


SHAW: The guy got two nominations this year, which is amazing. And...

HEMMER: Well, it was "Ray" and it was what, "Collateral" with Tom Cruise?


SHAW: "Collateral," yes, for supporting.


SHAW: He got for supporting actor. You know, again, I have to say, I wish Jim Carrey would win, because I think he was outstanding in "Eternal Sunshine." But it is Jamie Foxx this year.

BERNARD: Absolutely.


SHAW: Do you agree?



HEMMER: And that's it on the film's side. Now on the TV side. Toure, is it the night for "Desperate Housewives?"


HEMMER: Or is this the...

TOURE: It's the night for the old "Desperate Housewives." "Sex and the City" will win best comedy. Sarah Jessica Parker will beat all of the "Desperate Housewives" actresses in best actress. It was the best show, and...

HEMMER: Best show or a charity voting thing?

TOURE: She practically made me cry when she was, like, I don't live here anymore. And the whole thing moving to Paris. It was, like, you know, film acting.

BERNARD: But don't you think that last year? And now this year they want to throw it to the new (UNINTELLIGIBLE)?

TOURE: I don't know. I don't know. That was the greatest -- some of the greatest TV moments of the year. I don't think they're going to forget.

SHAW: Only if they split the votes. I mean, all of the "Desperate Housewives" might split all of the votes. And then who is left? It's either Debra Messing or Sarah Jessica.

TOURE: But I think...

SHAW: Come on!

HEMMER: I don't know.

TOURE: But Sarah Jessica's acting challenge is much higher than what we've seen from the "Desperate Housewives".

HEMMER: Let's leave it there. Nice to y'all three. Have a great weekend OK. Good to see you, Jesse, Toure, Sarah. I love these predictions.

Here's Kelly again -- Kelly.


WALLACE: Thanks, Bill. Americans opening their hearts and their wallets to help victims of the tsunami disaster. But one 14-year-old in New England has done so much he's come close to matching the generosity of entire nations. His story just ahead, here on AMERICAN MORNING.


WALLACE: And Wal-Mart gets defensive. Andy Serwer sat down with the CEO of the company so many love to hate. He's "Minding Your Business" with highlights and a look at early trading on Wall Street.

Not looking so good?

ANDY SERWER, "FORTUNE" MAGAZINE: No, no. Ye of little faith.

WALLACE: Optimistic?

SERWER: Yes, we've got a teensy-weensy bit of a rally here this morning.

WALLACE: OK, we'll take what we can get.

SERWER: Let's go to the Big Board and see what we've got going -- 13 points, hey, that's lucky, it is Friday. We'll see what we get. We do have wholesale prices coming in lower for the month of December. Maybe that will be a catalyst.

Yes, indeed, Kelly, of course, Wal-Mart is going on the offensive, striking back at its critics. The world's largest company is fighting back.

And yesterday Susan Lisovicz, CNN's Susan Lisovicz and I sat down with Lee Scott, the CEO of that company. Let's hear what he had to say.


LEE SCOTT, CEO, WAL-MART: If you don't want us in your community, let's be honest about why you don't want us. Don't say it's because of our wages, because the facts are wages are good. Don't say it's about our benefits, because the facts are we have benefits. And don't say it's because they're dead-end jobs, because the truth is we promoted 9,000 people out of hourly positions to management last year.


SERWER: We'll be airing more of that interview with Wal-Mart's CEO Lee Scott on "IN THE MONEY" this weekend with Jack Cafferty, Suzanne Lisovicz and myself. That's 1:00 p.m. Eastern Time, and 3:00 p.m. Eastern Time on Sunday. You really should be there. This is CNN's banner weekend programming, wouldn't you say?

JACK CAFFERTY, CNN ANCHOR: Tidy little business program.

SERWER: Oh, yes, I forgot that.

Yes, it will. It will dovetail nicely. Thank you, Bill. Thank you, Kelly.

HEMMER: Question of the Day, one last time to, Jack.

SERWER: Yes, where do you see the world in 2020 is the question we've asked all morning? John in Toronto says, "Given the banality of American culture, the U.S. will be celebrating Elvis' 85th birthday in 2020."

Elizabeth in Anduluge (ph), Alabama, "When I see the many fine young men and women who attend the community college where I teach, I'm encouraged and have faith in the future of our country and the world. I remember we have overcome many problems in the past and have faith that new challenges will be overcome as well."

Ron says, "Cafferty wins his first Emmy for his cameo appearance in the History Channel's 'Desperate Housewives.' It his hard-nosed role as a down and out third-chair news analyst, Cafferty appeared with only a towel wrapped around his waist in a steamy locker room scene handing out CNN coffee mugs to the neighborhood women, who are now in their late 50s."


CAFFERTY: Give Ron an Emmy for that one.

HEMMER: Thank you, Jack.

In our "Extra Effort" segment this morning, we focus on the outpouring of individual support for survivors of the tsunami.

Alina Cho today talks with a new teenager whose heart was touched by the stories and the faces of those in need.


ALINA CHO, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): You might say Jake Mazza is just a normal 14-year-old, but he's not.

JAKE MAZZA, 14-YEAR-OLD FUND-RAISER: It was horrible. I couldn't imagine anything like it.

CHO: Jake is talking about the tsunami that devastated South Asia two weeks ago. What got him the most, the faces of children suffering. He got to thinking, even though the victims were a world away, he could help. He had a goal.

MAZZA: At first, I saw on TV that France was only going to give $136,000 to the tsunami. And I said to my dad, wow, I could do that. First, I thought of going to my school, collecting money from classmates. But I decided that some venture capitalists and businesses would have a little more money than kids at Brown Middle School.

CHO: So the eighth-grader went to his dad, Dave Mazza, a venture capitalist.

DAVE MAZZA, FATHER OF JAKE MAZZA: He and my assistant conspired to basically take apart my database and put together a list.

CHO: Once he compiled the list, he wrote an e-mail.

J. MAZZA: Please send any donation possible.

CHO: He then follows up with a hard sell.

J. MAZZA: Hello, Mr. Garner (ph). This is Jake Mazza calling.


CHO: Jake says the donations have ranged from $250 to -- well, thousands.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We'd like to make a $10,000 contribution.

J. MAZZA: Thank you very much, Mr. Gardner.

CHO: In a week's time, this 14-year-old on his own has raised nearly $80,000.

Dad is proud.

D. MAZZA: I'm absolutely startled that he had the guts to not only start, but to continue doing it for as long as he's done it.

CHO: So is mom.

LINDA MARGOLIS-MAZZA, JAKE'S MOTHER: I think he's a great addition to the world.

CHO: Using his talents, turning compassion into charity.

Alina Cho, CNN, Newton, Massachusetts.


HEMMER: Nice story. Alina, thanks for that.

Finding out for more on contributions for the effort, log on to our Web site, There for you right now, in fact with more information -- Kelly.

WALLACE: Thanks, Bill, and we're following a developing story out of Corona, California, more than 800 homes evacuated. Authorities are worried rainwater building up behind a dam. Some live pictures coming in here from KTTV in Corona, California. The evacuations are under way. Lots of concern about all this rain water building up and lots of flooding that could develop from there. A developing story we're following here. We'll keep you posted.

More on AMERICAN MORNING right after this. We'll be right back.



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