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AMERICAN MORNING

Strong Storms Lead to Fires in Hutchinson, Kansas; High-Level Talks on Immigration Battle; What's Next for Jill Carroll?

Aired March 31, 2006 - 09:00   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


MILES O'BRIEN, CNN ANCHOR: Good morning. I'm Miles O'Brien.
SOLEDAD O'BRIEN, CNN ANCHOR: And I'm Soledad O'Brien.

The Midwest is cleaning up this morning after tornadoes ripped through many towns. More severe weather could be on the way.

GARY TUCHMAN, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: I'm Gary Tuchman in Hutchinson Kansas, where a tornado touched off 14 fires that burned down several structures. We'll have that story coming up.

S. O'BRIEN: Teetering on the edge of disaster. Record rains in California and now mudslides threaten to bring everything tumbling down. We're there live with the very latest.

M. O'BRIEN: Could President Bush really be censured? The Senate looks into allegation surrounding that wiretap program.

And a well-designed, well-coifed -- well, she's just put together in every way -- diva trades in the catwalk for the perp walk. Supermodel Naomi Campbell accused of assault yet again.

That's all ahead on this AMERICAN MORNING.

S. O'BRIEN: Let's begin in the Midwest, where they are picking up pieces across the region. About two dozen tornadoes reported from Arkansas to Iowa. Some of the worst damage coming in Texas -- in Kansas, rather, where the storms touched off destructive fires.

CNN's Gary Tuchman live in Hutchinson, Kansas, about 40 miles from Wichita.

Hey, Gary. Good morning.

TUCHMAN: Soledad, good morning to you.

And the people of Hutchinson went into their cellars and their basements and sought shelter when they heard there were tornado watches yesterday. A tornado touched down, but then a bigger problem, fires.

It was either from power lines coming down or lightning bolts, but either way, at least five homes and some other structures burned to the ground. And the fires are still burning 18 hours later.

Now, this was a storage shed next to a house, and the flames came very close to the house. Haven't burned down the house, fortunately, but they are still watching it very carefully.

And this is the man who's still watching it, Marty Morgan, who lives in that house.

This is a shed where you kept some of your hobbies, antiques, things like that, right?

MARTY MORGAN, RESIDENT, HUTCHINSON, KANSAS: Right. And it was -- it was my cabinet shop. I did a lot of woodworking out here.

TUCHMAN: How did you keep the flames away from your house? It was very windy yesterday.

MORGAN: We had the fire department out here at the very -- at the very moment the shop went up. And they did a good job of dousing the house down temporarily. And the house -- or, actually, had flames coming right up to it. The grass burned right up to the house. And we've got scorch marks on the front of the house.

TUCHMAN: How scared were you?

MORGAN: It was more of a matter of preservation. We were scared. I mean, no doubt about that. I mean, seeing our -- everything that we've worked for, you know, go up in smoke. And, you know, we had seen the flames as we were walking back into this area and it just scared us to death.

TUCHMAN: Marty, I am glad you and your wife are OK.

MORGAN: We're OK. Thank you.

TUCHMAN: And people here -- and that is the big news, people here are OK. No serious injuries, but a lot of frightened people.

Soledad, back to you.

S. O'BRIEN: Gary Tuchman for us this morning with an update.

Thanks, Gary.

In the San Francisco Bay area a record 25 days of rain in March, and it's raising some fears of mudslides. Take a look at this hillside that's slipping away in Sausalito.

Wooden decks, 30-foot tall tree slid halfway down the hill towards the town's main thoroughfare. Officials say rain, a construction project, some unauthorized landscaping are all contributing to the massive problem there.

Take a look at what we're seeing at -- this is the Golden Gate Bridge, of course, coming to us from our affiliate KRON TV. I used to work there many years ago.

Live pictures. You can see the 25th straight day of rain -- record rains. The roadways look wet and messy even though traffic is moving along pretty well. Let's get right to Chad. He's our severe weather expert. We've got lots of severe weather to talk about.

Hey, Chad.

CHAD MYERS, CNN METEOROLOGIST: Good morning, Soledad.

(WEATHER REPORT)

M. O'BRIEN: All right. Thank you.

High-level talks on the immigration battle happening in Mexico once again today. It's the final meeting of the Cancun summit for President Bush and his counterparts from Mexico and Canada.

CNN White House Correspondent Elaine Quijano live once again from Cancun -- Elaine.

ELAINE QUIJANO, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Good morning to you, Miles.

And first up for President Bush this morning, he'll be sitting down for a meeting with the leaders of Canada and Mexico -- Canada's prime minister, Stephen Harper, and Mexico's president, Vicente Fox. They are going to discuss something called the security and prosperity partnership.

Now, that's an agreement that three countries signed on to about a year ago. A series of initiatives, really, aimed at ensuring economic opportunities and security for North America.

Now, Thursday, much of the focus was on the issue of immigration. The day started off with the three leaders taking a tour of the nearby Mayan ruins at Chichen Itza, followed by some bilateral meetings and a private dinner.

Now, with the U.S. Congress tackling this difficult issue of immigration, President Bush reiterated that he wants to see a bill on his desk that includes three things: border security, interior enforcement, and that controversial temporary guest worker program. But he also addressed critics who say that it resembles amnesty.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I don't believe somebody should be allowed to come into our country and get ahead of the line, the citizenship line. And so I told President Fox that I think that a program that will work is somebody working on a temporary basis with a tamper-proof I.D. card. And if they want to become a citizen, they can get in line, but not the head of the line.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

QUIJANO: Now, still, the fact that President Bush is advocating even allowing some illegal immigrants to get in line at all is not sitting well, certainly, with some of his fellow Republicans. As for Mexico's part, Mexico's president, Vicente Fox, acknowledged to reporters yesterday that he understands this issue of immigration is largely out of his and President Bush's hands, that it really is now up to the United States Congress -- Miles.

M. O'BRIEN: Elaine Quijano in Cancun.

Thank you.

And for all the news coming out of the Cancun summit, watch "LOU DOBBS TONIGHT" from that very location. "Broken Borders," a special report, that's at 6:00 Eastern right here on CNN.

S. O'BRIEN: The question this morning is, what's next for American journalist Jill Carroll? Carroll, taken hostage on January 7, was released in Baghdad just about 30 hours ago. Carroll's editor at the "Christian Science Monitor" is thrilled at the news of her release.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

RICHARD BERGENHEIM, "CHRISTIAN SCIENCE MONITOR": I think it took a half an hour before it really sank in. And then I just couldn't stop smiling. It's just one of the most exciting mornings I've had.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

S. O'BRIEN: For lots of folks.

Let's get the very latest from Senior International Correspondent Nic Robertson. He's in Baghdad.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

NIC ROBERTSON, CNN SR. INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, we do know Jill is still in Baghdad. We do know that she's had a medical exam to see how she has come through this ordeal physically. What we probably won't know is exactly when she leaves the country.

Now, as we have seen when previous hostages have been released, for security reasons we're not told until after they go wheels up. And that's to protect -- to protect them. That's what we've seen in the past.

It's still a question exactly how and why Jill came to be released. Even the "Christian Science Monitor," her employer, says they didn't expect this, they didn't know that it was coming. They had no idea. Indeed, they say they weren't in any type of talks with her hostage-takers at all.

They do point out that there are two other journalists still in captivity here in Baghdad. They had been taken hostage in February, two Iraqi journalists, Rim Zid (ph) and Marwan Kazil (ph), both working for an Iraqi television station. Both taken in February, and very little been heard of them since.

Nic Robertson, CNN, Baghdad.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

S. O'BRIEN: That's our top story this morning.

Other stories still making news. Carol has got that. She's in the newsroom.

Hey, Carol.

CAROL COSTELLO, CNN ANCHOR: Good morning.

Good morning to all of you.

The U.S. offering humanitarian aid to Iran. No word if that country will accept it. We do have some new pictures out of Iran to show you.

Three earthquakes there and aftershocks rattled western Iran overnight. Entire villages are wiped out. The Iranian state television -- Iranian state television says at least 66 people have been killed, some 1,200 injured. Health officials say the hospitals are now filled to capacity, as we watch these new pictures just coming in to CNN this morning.

The minutemen are heading back out and they say this could be their biggest operation yet. The group is planning to patrol the Altar Valley in Arizona for illegal immigrant crossings. That area is considered the most heavily trafficked corridor into the United States.

A major toy recall to tell you about. Nearly four million Magnetic Building Sets have been taken off the shelves. The problem, the magnets that hold the pieces together can fall out. The government says a child died after swallowing one. The boy's family is now suing.

The family of rapper Notorious B.I.G. getting more than a million dollars from the Los Angeles Police Department. The money is to pay legal costs in the wrongful death case against the city and the police department. The rapper was killed in 1997. A federal judge sanctioned the city after a detective withheld information about his killing. A retrial is expected later this year.

And talk about a long run. "As The World Turns" is turning 50. It is the second-longest running soap opera in -- there's Helen Wagner. Love -- I watch "As The World Turns" every day. I just love her.

She was there every step of the way. She's 87 years old. She plays Nancy Hughes, Bob's mom. She's even in the "Guinness Book of World Records."

Her first line, "Good morning, dear. What would you like for breakfast?"

The soap world's record holder is actually "Guiding Light." It turns 70 next year.

But my vote for favorite soap opera of all time has to be "As The World Turns."

M. O'BRIEN: "As The World Turns."

COSTELLO: I watched it every day since I was 10.

M. O'BRIEN: Are you serious? Every day?

(CROSSTALK)

COSTELLO: Every day.

M. O'BRIEN: You're being facetious.

COSTELLO: No.

M. O'BRIEN: Every day, really?

COSTELLO: No, every day. My VCR is running so I don't miss it.

M. O'BRIEN: You're still on VCR?

COSTELLO: Oh, well...

M. O'BRIEN: I knew Miles was going to give you a hard time for that one.

COSTELLO: Listen, I watch a soap opera. Of course I'm still on VCR.

S. O'BRIEN: Thanks, Carol.

M. O'BRIEN: New York City is a melting pot, so for Mayor Bloomberg the immigration debate certainly hits close to home. Coming up, his conversation with CNN's John King and some tough criticism of his fellow Republicans on this very issue.

S. O'BRIEN: Plus, from the catwalk to the perp walk, supermodel Naomi Campbell is in trouble with the law again. We're going to tell you why.

And then there's this...

SIBILA VARGAS, CNN ENTERTAINMENT CORRESPONDENT: I'm Sibila Vargas in Hollywood. Fourteen years after Sharon Stone stunned the world with her sizzling scene in "Basic Instinct" she's back. But are audiences ready for an encore?

The answer when AMERICAN MORNING continues.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

M. O'BRIEN: He's the mayor of New York's -- or America's melting pot, New York City, and now for the first time his honor, New York Mayor Mike Bloomberg, is speaking out about that immigration issue. For him it hits close to home.

CNN's John King has a candid conversation you'll see only on CNN. He joins us from Washington with more.

Hello, John.

JOHN KING, CNN CHIEF NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Miles, the mayor is an interesting guy, often quite outspoken. Very popular in the city now.

And you mentioned the tradition. You think of New York, you think of Ellis Island, you think of the Statue of Liberty. It has an immigrant tradition going back more than 300 years.

The mayor says he's glad that Congress is dealing with this issue. He says it's a critical issue, but he says when he listens to the proposals from both sides of the perspective, in his words, "You roll your eyes."

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

KING (voice-over): The 7 Line winds through the diverse neighbors of Queens, immigration reality, the mayor says, compared to what he calls the farce of a debate taking place in Washington.

MICHAEL BLOOMBERG (R), MAYOR OF NEW YORK: I wonder what world they live in. You know, it must be easy. They are playing to a constituency back home of how it would sell, and has nothing to do with what would make good long-term policy. The election year is not a good time to do this.

KING: He rolls his eyes at conservatives who want a tough crackdown on illegal immigrants.

BLOOMBERG: We not going to deport 12 million people. So, let's stop this fiction. Let's give them permanent status.

KING: But Mayor Bloomberg also challenges the president and others, who suggest a new guest-worker program would be temporary.

BLOOMBERG: Are you going to leave after six years? Come on. I -- that's just...

KING (on camera): So, how...

(CROSSTALK)

BLOOMBERG: That's just postponing the problem to the next generation, to the next Congress.

KING: How do you get somebody of the president-McCain-Kennedy persuasion at the table of somebody of the Tom Tancredo-Lou Dobbs persuasion, who says, no, that's amnesty; they came into the country illegally; any status you give them is rewarding lawbreaking?

BLOOMBERG: It may... KING: How do you get those people...

(CROSSTALK)

BLOOMBERG: It may very well be rewarding law-breaking. But let's get real.

I mean, you know, the -- we don't live in a perfect world. And we don't -- we mayors don't have the luxury of pontificating, without any consequences for what they say.

Today...

KING (voice-over): Off the train in the Jackson Heights neighborhood, a fabric store managed by a man from Bangladesh, a jewelry store run by a man from India and a woman from Jamaica, and, over coffee at an Indian diner, one last appeal, from the mayor's perspective, for a debate more rooted in reality.

BLOOMBERG: My fundamental belief is, you're not going to deport 12 million people, guest worker programs and temporary things are ridiculous. These people are going to be here permanently. Let's recognize it and get on with it.

And, you know, I just don't have a lot of patience to listen to people that say, it shouldn't be. Maybe it shouldn't be. You have a right to that opinion. But it is. And anybody that knows anything about just how things work in this world, it is.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

KING: Now, the mayor says he's no softy when it comes to border security, Miles. He says there should be improvements along the U.S.- Mexico border, along the U.S.-Canadian border, as well. But he -- his belief is that Congress won't get to things that would actually work when it's bogged down in this debate over a temporary guest worker program he says will never be temporary.

And listening to the voices, he says, are simply unrealistic who say, once you seal the borders, you should get all the illegals who are in this country now, round them up and ship them out. The mayor says it won't work and it would cripple the economy.

M. O'BRIEN: Yes, it really is two separate issues. I understand the mayor's sense of -- you know, the realistic situation here. These people, they're not going to disappear. But the security issue, particularly in New York City, where 9/11, you know, struck so close, the security issue is a big issue.

How does he answer that? I mean, would he like to see a wall built on the border?

KING: No, he doesn't think a wall is realistic. He does think you could have better border security. But he thinks his position is actually the stronger position when it comes to national security. He says if you have a temporary guest worker program, or at least you call it a temporary guest worker program, some of those in this country illegally will be reluctant to come forward because they don't want to be shipped out of the United States after six years and they simply don't trust the government. He says if you give them permanent status, you will get them out of the woodwork and get them on the books, if you will. And then he says you can deal with the border security issues.

The mayor says we also need a better database for employers so that they can check the documents of job applicants. He was joking when we were on the train. He said, "You want to get off the train right now? You can get a green card or a Social Security card for a hundred bucks. We need a better system."

He says when they get past the emotional rhetoric, you can deal with the actual issues that would improve immigration policy and improve security, especially national security.

M. O'BRIEN: Yes. I mean, I think that notion of, you know, kind of a carrot approach along with the stick, in other words, luring people to be on the books, is good. Of course, if you're truly a terrorist, you're not going to be on the books no matter which way you do it.

KING: No, that -- that is true. But he certainly says if you're at the borders looking for terrorists, as opposed to worrying about people sneaking across the border, you can focus your attention much more. And that was the mayor's broader point, if you will, not so much even about terrorism, just that a lot of this debate he hears in Washington he thinks is driven solely by election year politics right now.

The House is up every two years. So I don't know how you deal with this outside of an election season. But the mayor thinks that it's just -- if you want to deal with terrorism, then talk about terrorism and border security. But he's afraid the debate has just been so distracted by a very emotional debate over what to do about those streaming over the border. And frankly, in his city, he says he's simply worried the tone of the rhetoric, if you will, has a very anti-immigrant flavor to it.

M. O'BRIEN: All right. In a city filled with immigrants. One time or another we all were, or our forefathers.

Thank you very much.

John King in Washington.

John's interview was first seen on "THE SITUATION ROOM" with Wolf Blitzer. You can catch that program weekdays, 4:00 p.m., 7:00 p.m. Eastern Time as well -- Soledad.

S. O'BRIEN: Well, Jill Carroll spent nearly three months in captivity. So how hard will it be for her to get used to her normal life again? We're going to check in with a psychiatrist who used to treat troops for Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder.

And this weekend marks one year since the death of Pope John Paul II. We'll take a special look back at the final days of the man known as the people's pope.

Those stories are ahead on AMERICAN MORNING.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

S. O'BRIEN: He is one of the most beloved figures of the last century, Pope John Paul II. Well, this weekend, CNN's Delia Gallagher, who has pretty incredible access to the Vatican, is going to take a look back at the final day of a man known as the people's pope, a man who could soon be known as St. John Paul.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

DELIA GALLAGHER, CNN FAITH AND VALUES CORRESPONDENT (voice over): February 24, 2005, just two weeks after his celebrated release, John Paul Ii was rushed back to the hospital.

ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR: Pope John Paul II on a respirator after a serious medical setback.

ALESSIO VINCI, CNN ROME BUREAU CHIEF: Honestly, I think a lot of people were surprised that the pope had gone to the hospital the second time. The first question was, you know, did he go home the first time too soon? Is this time worse? And so, obviously, we all start drawing the worst-case scenarios.

GALLAGHER: This time it was more serious. The pope needed a tracheotomy to breathe.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translator): The procedure was absolutely necessary to save the Holy Father's life. All other concerns were secondary to performing the tracheotomy.

GALLAGHER: Dr. Prietti (ph) warned the pope this procedure could cost him his voice. Potentially disastrous for a man whose words were so vital.

Cardinal Camillo Ruini was one of the pope's closest aides.

CARDINAL CAMILLO RUINI, POPE JOHN PAUL II'S AIDE: He agreed. He agreed, because he knew that without this he couldn't live, couldn't go on. And he thought, "Maybe I can learn to speak."

GALLAGHER: The 30-minute operation was kept secret until it was over. The condition of the pope's voice was a mystery. But his written words upon awakening were telling. "To Mary," he wrote, "I once again entrust myself. Totus Tuus" I am totally yours.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

S. O'BRIEN: Delia Gallagher joining us from the CNN Center this morning. Delia, aside from the pope's doctor, you got some other exclusive interviews from some of the peoples who are -- people, rather, who are truly the closest to Pope John Paul II.

Can you tell us about those?

GALLAGHER: Yes. It was fascinating for me, Soledad, to go back to Rome and talk to really the man who was at the pope's side for the last 40 years, and certainly during the last few days of his life. That's Archbishop Stanislaus Dziwisz.

He had -- he has never given an American television interview regarding the last days of the pope's life. And he really opened up his house to us.

He's now in Krakow, Poland, and shared with us the things that the pope requested, the things that the pope said, the atmosphere around the pope's bedside during those dying days. And we then went and spoke to the other people who had visited the pope at his bedside. You know, Archbishop Dziwisz was the person who was calling those people to come and say their final good-byes.

And so we were able also to talk to them and to hear their stories about what it was like to stand by the pope's bedside as he was dying.

S. O'BRIEN: When we saw, Delia, the conclave last year, it was really unclear if the smoke was signaling the election of the pope, it was black or white. I mean, it was actually very confusing because it was sort of both at one point.

GALLAGHER: Yes.

S. O'BRIEN: I guess you heard that the cardinals had a little trouble with that one, too, right?

GALLAGHER: Well, absolutely. In this special, we talked to five cardinals, and we asked them about the conclave, and one of the funny things that I learned was that they had difficulty with the smoke, too. You know, they had to stick those ballots into the old stove and then add the chemicals to make it black or white.

And they told us that they had difficulty with that. In fact, the smoke started sort of backing up into the Sistine Chapel. And then you'll remember that the bells were supposed to ring at the same time.

And that was something the pope had instituted himself. He wanted the bells to ring when the white smoke came out. And we saw the white smoke coming out, but we didn't hear the bells going off.

And everybody said, "Don't call it until the bells go off." And I asked them, "What happened? Why didn't the bells go off at the same time?" And they told us the inside story of that, too.

S. O'BRIEN: CNN PRESENTS: "The Last Days of Pope John Paul II." That's on Saturday and Sunday, 7:00 p.m., 10:00 p.m. Eastern.

Delia, thank you very much. We're looking forward to that.

M. O'BRIEN: So I want to know why the bells didn't go.

S. O'BRIEN: That's the big tease.

M. O'BRIEN: Oh.

S. O'BRIEN: I just said Saturday and Sunday.

S. O'BRIEN: She's not going to tell us now? She's not going to tell us now? OK.

S. O'BRIEN: No, that's right. She's not.

M. O'BRIEN: All right. I will be tuning in.

Coming up on the program, is President Bush about to pay the price for his domestic wiretap program? It looks like Congress is mulling a presidential punishment. A slap on the wrist, some would say.

Plus, Jill Carroll's finally a free woman, but it may take quite a while for her to readjust to normal life. We'll talk about that with a psychiatrist who has used -- has some experience treating troops with Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder.

Stay with us.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

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