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Hurricane Dean: Round Two; President Bush Cites U.S. War History to Support Iraq Policy; Eight Indian Nationals Beaten in Eastern Germany

Aired August 22, 2007 - 12:00   ET


JIM CLANCY, CNN INTERNATIONAL ANCHOR: Round two for Hurricane Dean. The storm heading back to Mexico's east coast, while parts of the U.S. feeling the brunt of severe storms themselves.
HALA GORANI, CNN INTERNATIONAL ANCHOR: Looking back to Vietnam. President Bush evokes the legacy of a past war to make a case for his current policy in Iraq and throws the Iraqi leader a lifeline.


GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Prime Minister Maliki is a good guy, a good man with a difficult job. And I support him.


CLANCY: A case for controversy, the heated debate over American sporting star Michael Vick and his role in a dogfighting scandal. Is race a factor?

GORANI: And tens of thousands come to her spiritual center in India just to get a hug. Meet the woman who wants to awaken motherhood in both women and men.

It's 11:00 a.m. in central Mexico.

Hello and welcome to our report broadcast around the globe.

I'm Hala Gorani.

CLANCY: I'm Jim Clancy.

From Kansas City to Kerala, wherever you're watching, this is YOUR WORLD TODAY.

GORANI: Welcome, everyone.

After slamming the Yucatan, Dean is ready to strike the Mexican mainland, and thousands of people are scrambling to get out of its way. The hurricane is gaining strength as it sweeps through the Gulf of Mexico's warm waters.

It is now a Category 2 storm, expected to make landfall north of Veracruz within hours. Officials in Veracruz state are going beach to beach, urging people to evacuate, or batten down the hatches. As the winds die down on the Yucatan Peninsula, residents are venturing out to clean up and assess the damage there. No deaths have been reported despite Dean's ferocious strength when it swept ashore as a Category 5 storm. Officials, though, caution that little is known about the fate of some more isolated and impoverished communities.

While the eye of Dean hasn't hit land for a second time, the outer bands are already giving Mexico's eastern coast a beating.

Ed Lavandera is watching the storm roll in in the port city of Tuxpan.

Ed, what is the situation there right now, as Tuxpan braces for round two of Dean?

ED LAVANDERA, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, we had been seeing steady rain here throughout the morning, but for the first time, we're feeling the strongest wind gusts of the day. And they're coming through quite powerfully.

We're in the center of Tuxpan. You can see kind of an interesting situation going on.

This is the Tuxpan River. The Gulf of Mexico, Hala, is out this way. The water should be racing out this way, but because of the winds, I don't know if you can make out the way the current is going, but it's kind of fascinating to see. Everything -- all of the water is rushing back inward.

And obviously, that's going to create flooding situations in various parts as more rain continues to fall. And I'm told here by city officials that seven years ago, this river actually spilled its banks. We're up one level here, and the water came up to where I am standing right here.

So, flooding is, of course, a major concern. And as the wind starts picking up, that will also be of a major concern. They're mostly worried about poorer people living in the mountains, in the villages where the housing is very precarious, not very well built. Mudslides and those rains could easily wipe away dozens of those homes.

We have been watching many of these rescue teams. Actually, a team just left, so I apologize. But there was a group of rescue teams out here that had been going out and continuing the patrols.

Everybody here essentially waiting to the last minute to make their preparations. One of the city officials says it just always seems to be this way when a storm comes to this area of Mexico.

So, these teams have been going out, urging people at the last minute. And many of the shelters that have been set up are now starting to fill up as they're taking those urgings from people to evacuate those areas. And even though the winds might not be as strong as what hit the Yucatan Peninsula in this area, because of the mountainous terrain and many of the precarious homes in those areas, many people are still in danger here in the coming hours.

We're just now starting, as I mentioned, to see the strongest winds come through. And it will only will continue to get stronger here in the coming hours.

GORANI: All right. Ed Lavandera in the port city of Tuxpan with the latest there on what residents there are expecting from Hurricane Dean.

We can go now to Karl Penhaul, who is in another location where Hurricane Dean is having some erect.

Karl, give me your exact location and tell me what's going on where you are.

All right. We're going to get back to Karl once he switches to English. I believe he may have been talking with our sister network, CNN Espanol. But where he is, clearly, the record is wreaking havoc and the winds are very strong.

We'll get back to him in just a little bit -- Jim.

CLANCY: And it's good to have a break, because you know, Hala, we've got talk about some other areas being hard hit as well. Talk about the Midwestern United States. Some areas swamped.

It is the worst flooding in decades, according to many. Nonstop rains inundating the upper Midwest and southern Plains. Rivers still rising at this hour. So far, 22 people are known to have lost their lives. Many, many more have lost their homes.

Let's take a look in Ohio, where hundreds of people fled to higher ground. Their homes inundated with water. Cars submerged in city streets and highways. Crops already damaged by drought are now being dealt a major blow.

Now, the town of Mansfield, Ohio, had to shut down all of its post office services, stop all mail delivery. Why? Dozens of postal trucks were completely under water.

All right. Let's find out, what are the storms in the U.S. doing? What more do we know about this hurricane?

Femi Oke is in the international weather center -- Femi.

FEMI OKE, CNN INTERNATIONAL METEOROLOGIST: Hello there, Jim. Thank you very much, indeed.

Let me just take you across to the United States. Let me show you a graphic here.

You see the blue blobs moving across here, where the blue blobs get very intense and dark. That's where we expect to see an awful lot of rain. This is the forecast out to show you where the rain is going to, how much more rain we're expecting. For that Midwest area that's already had more than enough rain, you can see that rain continues to move through, all the way through towards Friday, not going anywhere quite yet. So we still have that situation.

Just head down south, down towards that southern section and central section of Mexico. Lots of rain here. That's because we still have Hurricane Dean to contend with.

It looks like it's on land now. Almost on land. The center of the storm just a few hours away from making landfall. And as it does so, expect it to bring central and southern Mexico between five and 10 inches of rain, gusting right now up to about 194 kilometers an hour.

You may well have been watching Ed Lavandera just a few minutes ago. He is exactly where the National Hurricane Center is saying that the eye will make landfall. So he's really gone into trouble there, as far as the rain, the storms and the heavy winds are concerned.

Once a hurricane makes landfall, (INAUDIBLE) land. Now, normally we're watching the track very carefully, indeed, but also, look at the terrain here.

You see that mountainous terrain? Five inches of rain heading into that rain. We may well have to contend with some landslides, some mudslides there as well.

Hurricane preparations for this area should have already been completed. Just an hour or two away from when the hurricane will make landfall.

We will keep you up to date here at the world weather center.

Hala, back to you.

GORANI: All right.

Femi Oke, thanks very much for a look at where Hurricane Dean is going, what this weather system might produce in terms of effects on the ground.

Let's go back to our Karl Penhaul.

Karl, where are you exactly and what is the situation there? I can see very strong winds and rain, obviously, but tell us more.

KARL PENHAUL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: We're near the town of Natula (ph). Now, that is a town of about 3,000 people, about 100 miles north of the major port city of Veracruz.

Now, for the last five or six hours we've been experiencing tense, torrential driving rain. For the last two hours, the winds have really been picking up.

We've been seeing the wind now ripping off some of the tin roofs. It's also been smashing one or two of the wooden structures with straw roofs that are common in this area, both for the tourists and for fisherman.

When it was still safe to go out, we did venture into the town about a mile away, and we saw the police there moving around, advising people to stay indoors. And they said until that point they had pulled 50 people out of their homes and taken them to a church and to a convention center.

But what the experts here are saying is the winds may not be the main problem. The bigger problem could be the quantity of rain that's coming down and the battering waves that are coming in. That could spark flooding in the area, and it could also be a big problem when that rainwater starts to come down from the Sierra Madre Oriental Mountains as well, producing further floods -- Hala.

GORANI: Karl Penhaul there, not far from Veracruz, where strong winds and heavy rain at this point are really giving that portion of Mexico a battering. And we'll be going back to our Karl Penhaul and our team of reporters fanned out across the storm and the hurricane's path in the coming hours, of course.

But now, let's talk politics and let's talk Iraq.

U.S. President George W. Bush turned to the history books to back up his Iraq war policies. Mr. Bush compared ideological struggles with Japan and other Asian nations decades ago to today's ideological struggles in what the Bush administration calls its war on terror.

Ed Henry is traveling with the president and joins us now from Kansas City, Missouri.

Ed, let's first talk about George W. Bush's support, words of support, for Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki of Iraq. In the last 24 hours, we haven't heard many words of support for the Iraqi leader.

ED HENRY, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: That's right, Hala. A bit of damage control, in fact, from the commander in chief.

Yesterday, President Bush gave what was seen as a very weak endorsement of Prime Minister Maliki, saying essentially that if the Iraqi government doesn't step up, its own people may replace government officials. This coming shortly after a U.S. Democratic senator, Carl Levin, had called for the outright ouster of Maliki.

Now, all that not being received well in Baghdad obviously today. Maliki lashing out at U.S. officials, saying that some of these comments are irresponsible.

All of this sent the traveling White House here in Kansas City sort of scrambling to deal with this situation, get the president to clarify the situation. The White House saying the president feels the media misreported some coolness between he and Maliki, so the president tried to set it straight.


BUSH: Prime Minister Maliki is a good guy, a good man with a difficult job. And I support him. And it's not up to the politicians in Washington, D.C., to say whether he will remain in his position. That is up to the Iraqi people, who now live in a democracy and not a dictatorship.


HENRY: And that last line critical, because the White House realizes how delicate this situation is. Any sign that the U.S. is interfering in the Iraqi government could undermine the Bush administration's argument that the war has brought freedom and democracy to Iraq -- Hala.

GORANI: All right. And also, we heard in that speech by George W. Bush, the president using Vietnam, widely regarded as an American military failure, to make the case for staying longer in Iraq.

Is this a new strategy? And if so, is it risky?

HENRY: It is very risky. You're absolutely right. It's a bit of a surprise.

The president has mostly avoided analogies between Iraq and Vietnam for the very reason you mentioned. What he was trying to do here though is make a specific argument that he feels that you can make a comparison to what happened when the U.S. pulled out too quickly from Vietnam that it led to slaughter of innocent civilians, millions in Vietnam, and the region. And saying the same could happen now in Iraq if the U.S. were to pull out too quickly.

So he's obviously trying to make a narrow political point there. But you're right, the sort of riskiness of this is that it will also remind people of another potential comparison, the fact that Vietnam was a quagmire -- Hala.

GORANI: All right. Ed Henry, live in Kansas City, Missouri, traveling with the president.

As always, thanks very much, Ed.

CLANCY: All right. What's really troubling the president? Just ahead, we're going to go to Baghdad and talk with Michael Ware about all of this.

GORANI: Also ahead, a vicious weekend attack against eight Indian tourists in Germany. We have got a report on an incident some say hearkens back to a much darker time.

Stay with us.


CLANCY: Hello, everyone, and welcome back to YOUR WORLD TODAY.

There has been a verbal surge in the war of words between Washington and Baghdad this week. U.S. President George W. Bush has said he's frustrated at the apparent inability of Iraqi leaders to overcome even their minor political and sectarian differences, much less the major ones.

He toned down his criticism in a speech that we heard just barely an hour ago, saying the Iraqi prime minister is, in his words, a good guy. But Iraq's prime minister, Nuri al-Maliki, in Syria, fired back, saying no one has the right to dictate timetables to a government that was elected by its own people.

Let's bring in Michael Ware from Baghdad to talk about the growing rift between U.S. and Iraqi leaders.

Michael, you look at this, and you say, well, what's the real problem here? Isn't the real problem that the militias are in charge of Iraq and Iran seems to have greater control over those militias?

MICHAEL WARE, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: That's completely right, Jim. I mean, essentially, there's been much criticism of Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki. He's being blamed by many in Washington for failing to deliver on much of the key agreements and political reconciliation that needs to be achieved here.

But honestly, it's stunning that people could do that. I mean, you need to bear in mind, Prime Minister Maliki has virtually no power over his own government. Of his 37 cabinet members, 17 are either boycotting his government or simply failed to attend cabinet meetings. He can't supply regular electricity, and sometimes he can't even get running water in his own capital.

The currency of the political power within this government is the strength of your militia, most likely Iranian-backed. Maliki does not have a militia; therefore, he has no real authority.

So, America cannot expect him to deliver.

CLANCY: Here's the basic question that's got to be on the minds of U.S. military commanders, as well as the White House. And that is, if Maliki isn't in charge, who is, really?

WARE: Well, really, it's a loose alliance of militia power blocs. And obviously, they are power brokers, most of whom, if not all of whom, according to U.S. intelligence, have links to Iran, are supported by Iranian intelligence, or the Revolution Guards Corps.

Bottom line, Iran has more influence with this government than America can probably ever hope to have. Now, this is prompting some generals, field commanders here, to say, well, maybe we are not going about this the right way. Maybe democratic institutions are not the way ahead.

They've certainly, for the first time ever, openly said democracy may actually just be an option for Iraq. Iraqis may choose something else. And the U.S. mission here says we are no longer pursuing the same lofty and ambitious democratic objectists we once were.

So, there's a lot of people saying, have we gone about this the wrong way and do we need to take a new track?

CLANCY: All right.

Michael Ware reporting from the ground in Baghdad.

As always, Michael, thank you -- Hala.

GORANI: In a small town in Germany, young men go on a rampage attacking a group of terrified Indian immigrants. This is not a World War II era story. It happened last weekend in the town of Muegeln, and it's just the latest in a string of such attacks in eastern Germany.

Frederik Pleitgen has the story.


FREDERIK PLEITGEN, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice over): This grainy cell phone video is the only document of the violent night. Police in riot gear pushed the mob away from a pizza parlor where the Indians had taken refuge white the attackers sing the German national anthem.

The building was later ransacked by around 50 German rioters who had beaten and then chased the Indians through the east German town of Muegeln. Kulvia Singh, who lives and works here, was severely beaten. He says he feared for his life.

"They would have killed us if we hadn't made it to the pizza parlor. And they destroyed everything there until the police came. If the mob would have come into the pizza place, we would have possibly been killed," he tells reporters.

Singh and the other victims say not a single person in town came to their aid. "As we hid in the pizzeria, they were outside and shouted, 'Foreigners, get out!'" he says.

The brawl broke out after an argument in this beer tent at the town's annual festival. While the police are investigating the incident, German politicians are worried about the country's reputation.

"This excess of violence in Muegeln is intolerable. We cannot accept that foreign fellow citizens were chased through a town by a mob and they were afraid for their life," says the minister for east German reconstruction.

Radical right wing and neo-Nazi activity are major problems in Germany's east. Some organizations even caution foreigners to beware when traveling to the eastern parts of the country.

Dan Vogna (ph) of the exit organization that tries to help neo- Nazis change their ways says racially-motivated violence is far more common than most would think. "I do believe that foreigners should be afraid in some places. Of course, not all the time. At noon, nothing will happen to you if you're walking around, but the chances of getting attacked in eastern parts of Germany are significantly higher than the West," he says. (on camera): Jewish leaders in this country say some parts of eastern Germany may have to be considered no-go areas for minorities. Yesterday, it was people of color. Today, it's foreigners. Tomorrow it might be Jews and homosexuals, one leader says. And he calls on German politicians to come up with a coherent and effective strategy to combat neo-Nazi ideologies.

Frederik Pleitgen, CNN, Berlin.



GORANI: Still ahead, Cuba on the campaign trail. Specifically, the 2008 U.S. presidential campaign.

CLANCY: Now, why is U.S. policy towards Cuba becoming a flash point for the leading candidates?

GORANI: Later, a woman whose hugs changes lives.

You're watching CNN. Stay with us.



GORANI: Welcome back, everyone. All over the world, and this hour, in the United States. This is YOUR WORLD TODAY. I'm Hala Gorani.

CLANCY: I'm Jim Clancy.

Let's survey some of the top stories making headline as round the world. Hurricane Dean picking up strength now as it nears landfall in Mexico, again. The Category 2 storm swirling through the southern Gulf of Mexico, top winds now recorded at 161 kilometers an hour, just a little bit more than 100 miles an hour. It's already pummeling the eastern coast with its outer bands. And 10,000 people there have been evacuated.

GORANI: Also in the headlines U.S. President George Bush compared the war in Iraq with U.S. wars in the Far East decades ago. During a speech before the Veterans of Foreign Wars, Mr. Bush compared the ideological struggles the U.S. faced with Japan, Korea, and Vietnam with today's struggles in the war against terrorism.

He also said the U.S. withdrawal from Vietnam emboldened today's terrorists and reiterated his support for Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al Maliki.

Meanwhile, it was another violent day in Iraq. A suicide bomber rammed a police station in Baija (ph), about 250 kilometers north of Baghdad; 28 people were killed.

And 14 U.S. soldiers were killed when a helicopter crashed in northern Iraq. The military says there's no evidence of hostile fire.

Most days the news out of Iraq is horrific, filled with car bombs and casualty figures. But out next story is about an act of violence that is almost impossible to comprehend. Arwa Damon introduces us to a little boy who had his life changed forever by a group of men and can of gasoline. A warning, here, some of the pictures are very powerful and disturbing.


ARWA DAMON, CNN INTL. CORRESPONDENT (voice over): Yousif was five years old. He was a happy boy who loved kindergarten and had dreams of being a doctor one day. On January 15th, that all changed.

This is Yousif today. His mother Zaineb is wracked with guilt.

ZAINEB (through translator): Sometimes at night a sit and cry. If only I hadn't let him go outside. If only I hadn't let him play.

DAMON: Several masked men attacked Yousif in front of his house. Their identity and motive unknown.

YOUSIF, BURN VICTIM, (CAPTIONED TRANSLATION): They poured gasoline, burnt me, and ran.

ZAINEB (through translator): I heard screaming, I thought someone was fighting or something. Then I saw my son in front of me, then I fainted.

DAMON: When she came too, she barely recognized her son.

ZAINEB (through translator): His head was so swollen, you couldn't see his eyes, and his nose was pushed in.

DAMON: His tiny hands are also scared.

ZAINEB (through translator): He was struggling to put out the fire with his own hands.

DAMON: Yousif's developed his own technique to eat, but his adjustment to deformity ends there. His mother says he's become spiteful and is jealous of his baby sister.

ZAINEB (through translator): If he does something and I spank him, he says, "Spank her, too. Why don't you spank her?" He says, "I am burnt, why are you spanking me?"

DAMON: He used to be an outgoing, energetic child, but these days he spends most of his time in front of a computer. It's only here, away from the stares, that you can see the child emerge in this otherwise solemn boy.

ZAINEB (through translator): He can't play outside with the other kids. The other day they were playing and he came in crying. I asked him what's wrong. And he said, they won't play with me because I'm burnt. DAMON: Doctors told the family there was little they can do to help Yousif. But there aren't many doctors left in Iraq anyway. Zaineb coaxes him to tell us the words he knows in English.

YOUSIF: Girl. Boy.

DAMON: Unable to watch her son suffer, she has taken a huge risk telling her son's story to the world. It's too dangerous for her husband, who works as a security guard to appear on camera.

ZAINEB (through translator): I prefer death rather than see my son like this.

DAMON: She says all she wants is for someone to help her little boy smile again.


GORANI: All right. A very sad and powerful story, Arwa. You mention there the dearth of doctors in Iraq. So I imagine medical care for this little boy must be a huge issue for the family.

DAMON: Absolutely, Hala. That's the number one problem. In fact, the child actually got minimal medical care. He was in hospital, according to his family, for about two months and then he was sent home with a number of different ointments to put on, onto his face.

But as you can see from that horrific scarring, and as his mother, Zaineb told us, there really isn't a single doctor in Iraq with the sort of expertise to be able to conduct whatever plastic surgery that might help ease some of Yousif's day to day pain, in terms of the way he looks. Most of the doctors here have fled because of security reasons, because they've been directly threatened. The medical industry is literally in shambles.

GORANI: All right, Arwa Damon live in Baghdad, thanks very much.

There's more on this story on our website. You can see that video report again and pictures of young Yousif, before and after, and also a text version of that story for you to click on at

CLANCY: All right. Let's take a look at U.S. politics now, where a new survey is showing Congress approval rating is the lowest in more than three decades right now. The Gallup Poll was conducted a little bit earlier this month. It found that 76 percent of Americans disapprove of the job Congress is doing. Only 18 percent of Americans give Congress a full thumb's up. Americans' valuations of Congress are usually not positive. Historically, the vast majority of approval ratings have been below 50 percent.

GORANI: And in U.S. presidential politics, Senator Barack Obama is talking about his wife. At issue what she said on the campaign trail about other candidates and how that was portrayed in the news. Here's what she said.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) MICHELLE OBAMA, BARACK OBAMA'S WIFE: One of the most important things that we need to know about the next president of the United States is, is he somebody that shares our values. Is he somebody that respects family, is a good and decent person. Our view is that if you can't run your own house, you certainly can't run the White House.


GORANI: Some said it sounded like Michelle Obama was taking a shot at Hillary Clinton, but Senator Obama said his wife's words had nothing to do with that. She was emphasizing the importance of family, he said.

CLANCY: Well, Hala, it has been a political hot potato ever since Fidel Castro came to power, and that's a half century ago, almost. Now the Cuba question back at the top of agenda in the race to become the next U.S. President. John King with more how the candidates are courting a small, but key group of voters.


JOHN KING, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT (voice over): Fidel Castro's failing health adds emphasis to a debate that stretches back five decades and 10 U.S. presidencies, gaining steam as a campaign issue when Ronald Reagan made Florida's Cuban-American vote a key target in the 1980s. As he might put it, here we go again. Whether and how to isolate the Cuban regime is again a debating point in the 2008 campaign.

MARIA CARDONA, DEMOCRATIC STRATEGIST: Even though it is not the number one issue for the majority of voters in Florida, for a very vocal minority, it is an incredibly passionate issue that has a lot of history.

KING: Stirring the issue now is Senator Barack Obama. In advance of the weekend fundraiser in Miami, he wrote this op-ed saying he favors reversing Bush administration policy and granting Cuban- Americans unrestricted rights to visit family and send remittances to the island.

Republican candidate Mitt Romney was quick to pounce, saying, "Unilateral concessions to a dictatorial regime are counter- productive". And that Obama's position proves the senator "does not have the strength to confront America's enemies or defend our values."

Current restrictions allow Cuban-Americans to send family members no more than $1200 a year, and limit visits to up to 14 days, once every three years. New Mexico Governor Bill Richardson was already on record favoring unrestricted family visits and remittances. Going beyond that, Democratic hopeful, Senator Chris Dodd favors allowing all Americans to travel freely to Cuba. Dennis Kucinich would life the Cuba embargo outright.

Most interested in this debate is a tiny slice of electorate, Cuban-Americans amount to less than 1 percent of the U.S. population. But they are heavily concentrated in a critical presidential battleground, Florida. Adding up to about 8 percent of the electorate in a state decided by just 537 votes in campaign 2000.

Cuban-Americans are the most reliably Republican of the nation's Latino voters, leading many to wonder why Obama would want to stir up such an emotional debate.

CARDONA: Non-Cuban voters do not appreciate a presidential candidate coming down and making -- once again, making Cuba the issue. They want to hear about other things.

KING (on camera): Some of his rivals, though, suggest Senator Obama might be trying to steer attention away from his controversial promise to sit down with Fidel Castro and leaders of other so-called rogue nations, in his first year in office. In that op-ed essay, the senator does say he wants bilateral relations but with a post-Fidel Cuba. John King, CNN, Washington.


CLANCY: All right. That's our look at politics, but we have much more coming up on YOUR WORLD TODAY.

GORANI: All right, just ahead, a sports star facing jail over dog fighting. We have a look at that shadowy underground world. And another side of the controversy. Some say Michael Vick became a target because he's black.

CLANCY: And then later embracing the world, one person at a time. We'll introduce you to this Indian guru, called Amma. Stay with us.


CLANCY: In Bangladesh, clashes between police and students demanding an end to the emergency rule, spilling out into the streets of the capital. The army-backed government ordering an indefinite curfew in Dhaka and six other major cities.

GORANI: Well, the trouble started after students protested the presence of soldiers at a football match. There are reports that one person was killed, hundreds more were injured.

CLANCY: Welcome back everyone. This is YOUR WORLD TODAY on CNN International.

GORANI: All right, and welcome to our viewers in the United States once again. I'm Hala Gorani, alongside Jim Clancy.

Turning our attention to this story now. On Monday, National Football League quarterback Michael Vick will plead guilty to federal dog fighting charges. His case generated a great deal of controversy over the abuse allegedly endured by dogs on Vick's property. Also there are questions that Vick became a target because of his race. The president of the Atlanta chapter of the NAACP addressed that issue a short time ago.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) R.L. WHITE, PRESIDENT, NAACP, ATLANTA CHAPTER: In some instances, I believe Michael Vick has received more negative press than if he had killed a human being. The way he is being persecuted, he wouldn't have been persecuted that much had he killed somebody.


GORANI: Well, Vick faces years in prison and could have to pay a hefty fine.

CLANCY: Now, this case is front-page news all over the United States attracting a lot of attention. Some of it, of course, falling on the secretive world of dog fighting. In fact, it's not just one world, it's two. As we learn from Jonathan Mann, who has some insight.

JONATHAN MANN, CNN INTL. CORRESPONDENT: Dog fighting isn't exactly a new thing. It goes back centuries in Europe, but in the U.S. it has sudden prominence and a kind of schizophrenia.

Dogs have always been fought in the back woods, but increasingly, they are in big cities now. These days dogs fight for gangsters as well as good old boys.


WAYNE PACELLE, HUMANE SOCIETY OF THE U.S: We are seeing a huge growth in dog fighting in urban settings tied in with kind of the gangster rap subculture, with rap music, and more and more, unfortunately, with professional athletics.

MANN: Let's talk first about old school dog fighting. It is a rural sport. A breeder, out in the woods, or on a farm, might raise and train dozens of dogs at a time, and make a fair bit of money, selling the dogs, collecting stud fees for them, and of course, fighting them.

The fights themselves are very well organized with referees, strict rules, and they can bring the winner $10,000, or more. The best fighting dogs become very valuable dogs and owners are careful to keep them alive, to breed and fight some more. Now, disappointing dogs are just killed off.

In the inner city dog fighting is very different. In the gang world a pit bull is a hip accessory. Fighting tends to be small scale. An owner, a thug, with a single dog would fight it for money, for drugs, or just for the fun of it. Dogs tend to be, get this, particularly badly treated. So they end up meaner than even fighting dogs in the countryside. A lot of those dogs end up abandoned after their fights, dead or dying, for the police to discover and dispose of.

Now, according to the charges against him, Vick was involved in backwoods style breeding at his Bad News Kennels in rural Virginia. There may be more to the case. There is also a lot more to the world of dog fighting itself.


JOHN GOODWIN, HUMANE SOCIETY OF U.S.: There are 40,000 other people fighting dogs in this country in an organized manner, maybe 100,000 that are fighting dogs in an informal manner. To us, the big picture is far broader than the four defendants in this case.


MANN: So, the question, now what will happen to Michael Vick? There's the precedence, the case of Lashawn Johnson, you may recall, a former NFL running back, who was arrested for organizing dogfights back in 2005. Different guy, different case, but he's currently serving five years. Back to you.

CLANCY: Thank you, Jonathan Mann.

GORANI: Thanks for that insight.

What could be more divine than getting a hug? I can think of a few things.

CLANCY: Well, a lot of people feel that a hug is the way to go and they are going a long way to get one. We'll tell you where, and who, is giving out the hugs. That's coming up next.


CLANCY: Well, if you're here in the U.S., or no matter where you are around the globe, welcome back to YOUR WORLD TODAY. There's many spiritual leaders who are revered by their followers, but in India there's one leader the followers say is actually divine.

GORANI: Amma is apparently a selfless woman whose charity and simple guidance have helped people around the world.

CLANCY: Delia Gallagher is there, did a little investigating, and brings us her story.


DELIA GALLAGHER, CNN FAITH & VALUES CORRESPONDENT (voice over): To some she is divine, a goddess, capable of miracles. To all who follow her, she is mother. Last word in compassion and selfless love. Amma, whose name means mother, attracts millions to her spiritual center, her ashram, here in south India, with the promise of a hug.

Naratnama (ph) has taken an 11-hour train ride just to see Amma.

"Now I only have one feeling, that I've touched God," she says. She hopes to become pregnant and decided to come when Amma appeared to her in several dreams, she says.

Mata Amritanandamayi, Amma, grew up in this poor remote seaside of south India. Villagers sought out the little girl, who it was said, could cure sick cows and would give her own food away so someone else could eat. Followers now come from all over. For some, the ashram is a working vacation with its emphasis on service, rather than study. For others it is home. Gautam came from California eight years ago to live with Amma. His named used to be Bryan Harvey. He worked at Yahoo. Now, he works for free as one of Amma's aides.

GAUTAM, AMMA AIDE: Before I met Amma it was the typical American lifestyle, I think of living for myself, trying to make myself as comfortable as possible. After meeting Amma, trying to follow the example of what she's doing, it's trying to live more for others.

GALLAGHER: Darshana left a successful private practice as a psychotherapist in St. Louis 12 years ago to serve full time at the ashram.

DARSHANA, ASHRAM WORKER: The capacity that Amma has to hug 50,000 people today. Travel on this bumpy, bumpy, bumpy road in India, for 15, 20 hours to the next stop. Get off, bright, shining, and hug another 50,000, 20,000, 75,000, 100,000 people.

GALLAGHER (on camera): This is an average weekend at the ashram. There's some 35,000 people expected here today from all over the world. They come just to get a hug. This will continue, 16, 20 hours, until each person has had a moment with Amma.

GALLAGHER: What do you think people are in search are?

MATA AMRITANANDAMAYI, SPIRITUAL LEADER (through translator): Fundamentally what everyone needs is mental strength and self- confidence to manage the mind just as we manage the outside world.

GALLAGHER: Why do you hug people?

MATA (through translator): I want to awaken motherhood in both men and women. Motherhood is something that is fast disappearing from the world. It is very much needed in today's world.

GALLAGHER (voice over): Cynics may sneer, but take a look the what Amma has done. This is her orphanage where 500 children live. Some of them lost their parents in the 2005 tsunami. Amma has donated $46 million to tsunami relief in South Asia. And $1 million to the Katrina Relief Fund in the U.S. She gets the money from private donations and sales of promotional material. A multi-million international charity that has blossomed from a smile and a hug. For Amma, it's proof what a mother's love can do. Delia Gallagher, CNN, Karola (ph), South India.


CLANCY: Before we go, we want to show you the fire and the smoke on an island in northeast Indonesia. It's a volcano sending lava down a steep slope, threatening villages that are in the way.

GORANI: Well people are leaving to let the mountain Karangatan (ph) do its thing on its own. Not wanting to get in the way of that lava or the volcano's fury. Good idea.

CLANCY: Good idea, indeed.

GORANI: All right, that's it for this hour. I'm Hala Gorani. A lot more on the other side of this break.

CLANCY: And a hug to everyone out there. I'm Jim Clancy. This is CNN.