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CNN Sunday Morning

Islamic Students Rallied Outside Britain's Embassy in Tehran; John McCain in Baghdad today; Two Police Officers Killed in Charlotte, North Carolina; Dead-Beat Moms and Dads on Pizza Boxes

Aired April 01, 2007 - 09:00   ET


BETTY NGUYEN, CNN ANCHOR: Well, good morning from the CNN Center here in Atlanta. It is April 1st, I'm Betty Nguyen.
T.J. HOLMES, CNN ANCHOR: And I'm T.J. Holmes, glad you could be with us this morning. We've got a lot happening this morning, so let's get you right to it this Sunday morning.

NGUYEN: From the straight-talk express to hopefully some straight talk on Iraq, presidential candidate John McCain is in Baghdad today. We're going to hear from him life this hour.

HOLMES: And a developing story in Charlotte, North Carolina. Two police officers killed overnight. Our affiliates working this story. We'll have a live report.

NGUYEN: Dead-beat moms and dads being featured on pizza boxes. Yes, those are wanted posters on the pizza. Is this going too far? Well, we're going to debate it on this CNN SUNDAY MORNING.

HOLMES: But first, getting a first-hand look at the war zone. Senator McCain and others making an unannounced visit to Baghdad. We're awaiting a news conference from the Republican presidential hopeful in a few minutes. We'll bring that live to you when it does happen. But first, we're going go live to our Kyra Phillips who joins us now from Baghdad. Hello to you, Kyra.

KYRA PHILLIPS, CNN ANCHOR: Hi, T.J. You'll remember what happened with Senator John McCain making the comments last week about General Petraeus rolling out with no security. There was a bit of a backlash. He came back and sort of tried to fix what he had said. Well, we're not quite sure about the timing of this trip, whether it was pre-planned or he is here because of that backlash that was created.

But I did spend the day with General Petraeus yesterday. We were touring a market in a very ravaged area where al Qaeda is operating. I took advantage of that moment to ask him about his security. You can see probably by the video, he had a hard-core security perimeter, not only close to him, but on the outside, so I asked him specifically when you travel, how do you decide how much security you need and how less of a security force you need? This is what he told me.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) GENERAL DAVID PETRAEUS, MULTINATIONAL FORCE IRAQ: When we walk through Ramadi, which was an area that a few days earlier that had been fighting, I put a Kevlar on because there were snipers in the area. I think it's one of these kinds of feels in your fingertips. And they do it. But certainly folks, these guys, they don't want to get the MNFI commander shot on their turf. So you have to put up with a little something.


PHILLIPS: I think there would be a lot of jobs lost if anything happened to General David Petraeus here on the ground in Iraq. Anyway, you can see by the size of this security force, they were all around him and throughout the Dora district. But keep in mind, the Dora district, a death squad was operating out of there.

They still see that death squad as a threat to the community. So we went to go specifically to visit the joint security forces, the Iraqis and the U.S. troops that are operating there, trying to make life a little better for those that live in the area.

The good news is there were 600 shops at one time in that market. It went totally dead. Now there are about 120 shops that are up and running. However, General Petraeus says it still not a safe environment. There is new threat, and that is of the vest bombers. Now ironically today, Admiral Mark Fox mentioned such a threat in the fortified Green Zone. Take a listen.


ADMIRAL MARK FOX, U.S. NAVY: What we found yesterday were two suicide vests, not people. But we did discover two suicide vests in the international zone. The matter is under investigation. I think it reflects the nature of the security challenge that we're facing, but in this case, they were -- they were discovered without them actually having been used.

This is a challenging security environment and whether are you in the international zone or whether are you in the rest of Baghdad, we are committed to providing security for the people of Iraq, and even in areas where there is extreme high levels of security there, are times when we have to be very careful and very scrutinizing of the kinds of security measures that we exercise.


PHILLIPS: The security challenge. You heard exactly what the admiral said. That's exactly what General Petraeus talks about. Bottom line, it's hard to go anywhere in this country and feel 100 percent safe. Car bombs, U.S. forces, Iraqi forces getting their hands around that, learning how to combat that. Now you heard about the new threat, the vest bombs. And you'll know that's exactly what was used in the assassination attempt of the deputy prime minister in Iraq just a couple of weeks ago, T.J.

HOLMES: All right, Kyra Phillips covering that desperate security situation, trying to get a handle on there in Iraq. Kyra, thank you so much. Good to see you and Senator McCain's news conference should happen any time now, any minute. It's scheduled for 9:15 Eastern and when it does happen, we'll carry that live for you right here.


NGUYEN: We do have some breaking news to tell you about this morning, coming from news reports, news wire reports, that is.

About 200 Islamic students rallied outside Britain's embassy in Tehran today, throwing rocks and fire crackers. They are upset over the British sailors who are being kept in Iranian hands, after they allegedly violated rules there and being in Iranian waters, according to the government of Iran.

But the British government saying they were not, they were in Iraqi waters. Also today we've learned that the president of Iran, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, has called Britain arrogant for not apologizing for this issue.

But again, the latest violence that we're seeing as a result of those 15 British sailors detained by Iran is that about 200 students have thrown rocks at the British embassy in Tehran. Of course, we're going to continue to follow all of this. And as soon as we get more information, we're going to bring it straight to you.

And now, President Bush has ended his conspicuous silence on this very subject.


GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I strongly support the Blair government's attempts to resolve this peacefully. And I support the prime minister when he made it clear there were no quid pro quos. The Iranians must give back the hostages. They are innocent. They were doing nothing wrong and they were summarily plucked out of water, and it is -- it's inexcusable behavior.


NGUYEN: Just another thing that we want to tell you about, the British government had asked the White House to limit strong statements on this crisis, but now say they welcome the president's comments.

As for the violence that we showed you pictures of just moments ago in Tehran where students were throwing rocks and small homemade bombs at the British embassy, the British officials say so far there have been no injuries because of the violence.

Again, we're getting some pictures into CNN of a protest outside the British embassy. About 200 Islamist students there in Tehran, upset over these British sailors and marines being detained by the Iranians. Of course, Britain says they were in Iraqi waters and should not have been detained although Iran maintains that they were indeed in Iranian waters and therefore violated the territorial rules. And, President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, the president of Iran has called Britain arrogant for not apologizing for this matter. This has been going on for several days now. Again, 15 sailors and marines still detained in Iranian hands.

HOLMES: And the word here, of course, we're looking at this new video we're seeing, we're not seeing what some of the wires are reporting, some of the violence I guess if you will, or at least an uproar, throwing rocks and fire crackers and things like that at the British embassy. No real injuries or anything there yet. But apparently the students are just upset, as well as many Iranians and Iranian officials as we've been hearing, just want the Brits to apologize is what we're hearing.

And even some officials saying, hey, all you have to do is apologize and we can end this real quickly. Britain so far has not apologized, because they are not admitting, in fact, their folks were in Iranian waters.

So something we're keeping an eye on this morning, developments with those students outside of the British embassy. We're certainly going to get more bring updates on that. We will bring those to you as we get to them.

Meanwhile, we want to turn back to the U.S. and some severe weather that's hitting areas of the country. It was kind of an overnight scare for families in Chicago or near Chicago, where high winds literally ripped the roofs off some apartment there in Carol Stream, that's the name of this suburb just outside Chicago. Nearly 70 apartment has to be evacuated. And several people had to be taken to the area's hospitals. But none of the injuries are described as being serious.


ALAN MAY, STORM VICTIM: I was inside the apartment, and some high winds came through. And it sounded pretty much like a freight train, like people would describe, and it didn't last very long maybe five, 10 seconds, not even that. And then it calmed down, come outside to look, trees are laid up and the roofs off the building, you could hear people yelling for help, and it -- it was pretty bad.


HOLMES: And this latest wave of storms brings the threat of flash floods to Oklahoma. Rivers running so high in some places even the rescuers had to be rescued.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: As the water started to rise they decided they were going to try to get it out of there and then I guess it started floating, because the water apparently rose really quick, and came around and floated the fire truck out into the street.


HOLMES: And this is a wild storm in northern Texas. The cleanup effort continues after waist-high flood waters forced evacuations in some areas. This one was all about water and wind, two tornadoes hit near Waco and at one point, more than 100,000 people were without power.

NGUYEN: Well firefighters are finally getting the upper hand on a wildfire in southern California this morning. The fire east of Los Angeles in Hesperia caused the evacuation of some 200 homes. And you can see why just looking at these pictures. But those people, well they are now being allowed to return home. Just a couple of structures were damaged by the 1,400-acre fire. Firefighters hope to have that fire under control by late tonight.

HOLMES: Well, our Reynolds Wolf standing by in the Weather Center keeping an eye on stormy weather still affecting some folks and a lot of folks still under the gun today.


NGUYEN: We want to take you now back to that breaking news out of Tehran today. The British embassy being hit with several small explosives, homemade explosives by 200 student protesters, this according to wire reports. We don't have a whole lot of information, so that's why we want to turn now to Shirzad Bozorgmehr, a journalist in Tehran who joins us by phone. What do you know about these protests? Talk to us about what has happened.

SHIRZAD BOZORGMEHR, JOURNALIST (on phone): Betty, I just talked to the British embassy and they said that the sound of explosions was caused by fire crackers, and there was nothing serious, nobody was injured or hurt.

You know, Tehran is still celebrating its new year. And using fire crackers is part of the whole celebration, so these could be leftovers from that that they'd use on the British embassy.

Basically there are demonstrations as of about an hour and a half ago in front of the British embassy by university students. They made it known that they will demonstrate at this time. The demonstration was still going on. It's getting a little rowdy, but still is under control. There have been extra precautions taken by Iranian security forces and both according to the British embassy and Iranian news agencies, nothing extraordinary has happened, and the sound of crackers is a usual thing. It's nothing that could be taken very seriously.

NGUYEN: Well help us understand the purpose of these protests or demonstrations. What are they calling for, what are they chanting, what are they saying?

BOZORGMEHR: They are calling for several things. They are calling for the British apology. They are calling for the ouster of British ambassador. They want the British forces and sailors to be put on trial.

The usual demands that university students make in demonstrations, they want the extremes. It doesn't necessarily mean any of this will happen. They are venting their anger, they are very angry that British forces have invaded Iranian territory and they want to make sure that this thing does not doesn't happen again.

NGUYEN: Well let me ask you very quickly. Do you think this was sparked by Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad saying that Britain is arrogant, and I quote there, for not apologizing on this matter?

BOZORGMEHR: You can't say it's directly related to that. It might have encouraged them a little more, but they were bent on making these demonstration anyway from the letter that came around to all the news agencies in Iran was received about two days ago that students are intending to hold such a demonstration.

So it cannot be directly related to what happened and on top of that, most Iranian officials have been saying the same thing that Iran expects an apology, that Britain is arrogant for entering Iranian waters without permission.

And then going to the Security Council, trying to involve the EU and saying this is bilateral problems, why does Britain want to involve everybody else if really they are in the right and Iran is in the wrong? So they think this is a sign that Britain knowingly entered Iranian waters.

NGUYEN: Well to be very clear, we just want to kind of reiterate what you said, that these were planned demonstrations by these students and that despite wire reports saying that there were homemade explosives that were thrown at the British embassy, in fact these were just fire crackers that may have been left over from Iranian celebrations, as this is a holiday there in Tehran. I'm speaking on the phone with Shirzad Bozorgmehr, a journalist out of Tehran. We appreciate the information you're bringing to us today. Thank you so much.

BOZORGMEHR: No problem.

HOLMES: We now want to bring in our Bob Franken at the White House. Talk more about this situation with Iran and Britain. And Bob, for the most part, the White House, the administration, the U.S. has been staying out of it, but we heard some pretty strong words from the president not long ago saying they were calling for the immediate release of the Brits.

Do we expect to hear more ratcheting up of the rhetoric from the White House? Do we expect to hear Bush, the Bush administration get more involved publicly?

BOB FRANKEN, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, you know, first of all he president comes back from Camp David this afternoon about 1:00 Eastern and he may take the opportunity.

We have no expectation, no word yet that that's going to happen. But we have to sort of look at this in the context of diplomacy, and the kind of diplomacy that can only be described as bad cop, good cop. I put the bad cop first, because that's the part that we would see.

You know, there's a tremendous symbolism to demonstrations in Tehran outside an embassy, a symbolism that goes back to the taking of people from the U.S. embassy in the late '70s.

So that of course is something that can be construed as ratcheting up the pressure. The very fact yesterday that President Bush yesterday used the word hostage is another example of that because Betty was pointing out earlier, up until this time, the British government had asked the U.S. to sort of stay out of this.

Now clearly with the support of the British government, the United States government is getting involved in this. That's the kind of thing we're seeing. We're also knowing that there are U.S. ships now that are patrolling the area. That's all part of the bad cop approach.

But there is behind the scenes, some good cop effort going on, there is a formulation that's being shopped around right now in the diplomatic community something like the British government does not apologize or acknowledge that its forces violated the territorial waters of Iran. However, it makes a promise that it would never intentionally do so.

It's the kind of face saver that oftentimes comes out of quiet diplomacy, the Iranians have said that they're open to talks on this. So right now, there is this game of chicken going on that we're watching and what's going on behind the scenes a little more polite, T.J.

HOLMES: Well, this is a high, high stakes game of chicken that they are playing there. Bob Franken for us from the White House. We expect to check back in with you here shortly. Thanks so much, Bob.

NGUYEN: We've got a lot of news happening because any minute now, we're expecting to hear from Senator John McCain live from Baghdad. The Republican presidential candidate is part of a congressional delegation visiting the war-torn nation today.

HOLMES: And then a little later, using the nation's love for pizza to track down dead-beat parents. Is that a good idea or is big brother just going too far once again? We'll hear from both sides of this issue.

And coming up 30 minutes from now, how the Internet is changing worship in America.


NGUYEN: Well, we have been following this next story all morning out of Charlotte, North Carolina. Two police officers shot and killed at an apartment complex. I want to get to reporter Michelle Boudin of our CNN affiliate WCNC to bring us up to speed on what happened this morning. MICHEKLLE BOUDIN, WCNC CORRESPONDENT: Well, the police chief held a news conference earlier this morning telling us that it was 10:30 last night when the officers were responding to a disturbance call at this apartment complex here in East Charlotte.

There was a struggle in a parking lot. Both officers were shot. We can tell you that we've just learned that we know that they were not shot with their own guns and they were not able to return fire. At this point, we don't know anything about a possible suspect.

They don't have a suspect is what the police chief told us early morning in that news conference. We do know the officers are 34-year- old Sean Clark. He was taken to CMC, that is a local hospital and 35- year-old Jeffrey Shelton. The first officer died at 12:15, and the second officer died early this morning at 4:00.

There was an intensive manhunt immediately after the shootings. There was a swat team here until about 5:00 this morning. They searched the apartment buildings and we've seen detectives on the scene. They tell us that they've had about 30 witnesses that they have taken uptown to the police department.

And just in the last few minutes, we've seen a lot of officers actually looking for evidence, sort of combing the area for evidence. They've gone through garbage cans and they've got metal detectors out on the scene.

Again, at this point, we're told that they have no suspect. Two officers, though, killed in the line of duty early this morning here in Charlotte. That's the latest information that we have for you. Betty, back to you.

NGUYEN: Michelle, this is such a sad story. I want to learn a little bit more about the officers because I understand at least one of them has a baby on the way.

BOUDIN: Yes, we do know - we've got a little bit more information. We can tell you both are married and in fact both the wives were at the hospital this morning when their husbands passed away. One of the officers had been there for just a year serving with the department. The other one six years. That one was local, and as you said, one of the officers had a baby on the way.

So it has been a very difficult morning. You could actually hear the pain in the police chief's voice as he did the news conference this morning. Several of the officers on site here say they knew both of the officers. So very difficult as they search for the suspects here in Charlotte.

NGUYEN: All right, Michelle Boudin reporting for us live. Thank you for that.

HOLMES: Well, coming up, tracking down dead-beat parents. Next, how one Ohio county is using pizza to solicit the public's help. We'll hear from one father's rights activist who says it does more harm than good. (COMMERCIAL BREAK)

NGUYEN: The Internet is always on and so is CNN, so to find out the most popular stories this morning at, we want to check in with Veronica de la Cruz, working hard over there. Hi there, Veronica.

VERONICA DE LA CRUZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Working hard, hey there, Betty, nice to see you.

Believe it or not, today's most popular story at is 70- years-old. A tantalizing new clue has emerged in the disappearance of Amelia Earhart. It involves a reporter's journal that was recently sold on eBay.

Also on that most popular list this morning, Newt Gingrich says bilingual education should be abolished. The former speaker of the House and possible presidential contender told a group of Republican women, bilingual education is the same as quote, "the language of living in the ghetto."

And everyone this morning worried about their pet food. Experts now say cats may be more at risk than dogs if they eat tainted food. That is now a subject of a recall, as you well know. Again you can find all of the details at

And don't forget about our e-mail question of the day. We are asking you, would you forego church to worship solely on the Web? We are asking you this question on Palm Sunday. You can send us your thoughts to

NGUYEN: A lot of people are doing it indeed. We'll see if it will be the trend though, if most people will be doing it.

HOLMES: I'll give it a try.

DE LA CRUZ: Some interesting answers.


HOLMES: I'll give it a shot.

NGUYEN: T.J.'s going to try it.

HOLMES: I like it.

NGUYEN: I'll be in the pews. Thank you, Veronica.

And still to come, the changing ways of worship. Who needs this anymore, when you have this? Well, we were going to show you a computer there. There you go. Our faces of faith looks at the Internet's growing religious influence.


HOLMES: Well, welcome back, everybody. I'm T.J. Holmes. NGUYEN: And I'm Betty Nguyen. We are awaiting for Senator McCain's news conference to take place in Baghdad.

HOLMES: It's expected to happen any minute really. We're expecting at 9:15, so just a little late, but we're monitoring that and we will carry that for you as soon as we see it happening.

NGUYEN: In the meantime, a wanted poster delivered with your pizza, of all things, is happening in a suburb of Cincinnati. Mugshots of parents accused of not paying child support appearing on pizza delivery boxes. A child enforcement worker came up with this idea and pitched it to pizza places in Ohio's Butler County.

While this may sound like a good idea, to many, it does have its critics. One of those critics being Steven Baskerville of the American coalition for Fathers and Children. There he is. And he joins us from Washington. And from Cincinnati, Ohio, this morning, the woman who came up with this idea, Cynthia Brown. Good morning to you both.



NGUYEN: Cynthia, let me start with you. Why did you come up with this idea and how did you come with it?

BROWN: Well, first of all we placed two wanted posters a year and they're large poster-size posters, and I came up with the idea in late 2005 to downsize the posters for law enforcement cruisers. One evening, my husband and my stepdaughters and I ordered a pizza, and they always have the coupons on top of the pizza box and they were the same size as the downsized posters, and I thought, hey, why don't we approach pizza parlors and see if they'll put these on top of pizza boxes. My husband said I needed a vacation. Instead of taking a vacation, I decided to run with the idea and so here we are.

NGUYEN: Well, did you get any pizza companies saying, wait, wait, wait, this is too controversial, not for us. We're not interested.

BROWN: Some of the larger chains. I think they felt it might be a negative. A lot of mom and pop chains did join in and we were pleased with that I think the larger chains thought it was negative, because it's a lack of education in child support and in what we do and how we go about doing our business.

NGUYEN: And how effective has it been?

BROWN: Excuse me?

NGUYEN: How effective has it been so far?

BROWN: We have -- we started the poster owns pizza boxes in August of last year and there were 10 individuals put on that poster, men and women, we put a new poster out, downsized it to the pizza boxes, the end of January and this happened to be just all men and we did get somebody -- I think it was the day after.

NGUYEN: Wow, that's pretty quick. Steven, now you have a problem with this. What is the harm in putting these pictures on pizza boxes?

BASKERVILLE: This is an outrageous use of government power. The entire child support system in this country has been hijacked by special interests in ways that dangerously increase government power. Child support was intended for parents who willfully abandon their children and leave them on public welfare. It's has been perverted into a system of forces parents to pay for stealing their own children.

NGUYEN: But if deadbeat parents won't pay, shouldn't something be done?

BASKERVILLE: Parents do pay for their children -- fathers do voluntarily pay for their own children.

NGUYEN: But there are those who don't.

BASKERVILLE: There are always those who don't and they can be taken care of. What this is a system of taking children away from their fathers and using the children as an excuse to plunder the fathers. There's a massive system of child exploitation that cynically uses children to loot their families, to loot their fathers to destroy their homes. We have a massive problem in this country of fatherless children.

NGUYEN: Let's not paint with a broad brush. And Cynthia, I want to get your reaction of what he's saying, the criticism of this plan.

BROWN: Right, first of all, we don't have -- our agency has no rights to custody, visitation, we don't deal with those issues. We deal with child support issues alone. In other words when a court orders child support, we follow those orders, and I'd like to comment on the willingfully abandoning a child. That's exactly who is on the posters, those individuals who have run from their moral, ethical, and financial responsibility. These aren't individuals -- excuse me -- who have fallen on hard times. These are individual who have run and run for years. This isn't a matter of "I haven't paid for six months," if somebody works with us, we'll work with them. These individuals on the posters are those people who do not want a relationship with their children, do not want to pay their child support and I personally will go after each and every one of those individuals and hold their collective feet to the fire.

NGUYEN: Steven, let me ask you this. Is there a fear in your mind that this will have a negative impact on children?

BASKERVILLE: It certainly does have a negative impact on children. It's the flagrant exploitation of children to increase the power of government officials. Throughout this country, millions of children, literally, are forcedly separated from their parents by family courts, by social service agencies and this child support chicanery is nothing but a subsidy on stealing children from their fathers, it's a subsidy on involuntary divorce. Ms. Brown may says that she's not part of this, but this is, of course, the bureaucrats plea, we didn't take away your children, the office down the hall took away your children. Then the next office takes your bank account, the next office takes your savings, and then the next office along, they take you...

NGUYEN: Cindy, is he going to far with this or what do you think about it?

BROWN: Here's what I've got to say and that is, I was really hoping today to get somebody from fathers' rights who would sit down and actually listen and stop with the anger, because anger won't get children money, it won't help us...

BASKERVILLE: Excuse me. No parent is going...

BROWN: And I keep getting -- I keep getting these individuals coming to me from fathers' rights quoting me statistics from 1992, putting my family's home address on the Internet, putting us in danger, when all's I'm doing is doing my job and doing it well, and if that irritates the father' rights group, I don't know what to say.

BASKERVILLE: There is not a shred of evidence ever presented by a government agency or an academic study that there was a problem of fathers not supporting their children and paying child support. There is solid evidence of large numbers of children being forcedly separated from their fathers without the fathers having done nothing wrong. There is also -- there is also numerous scholars who have shown there is nonpayment problem of child support. This is entirely whipped up hysteria by government officials to whip up animus against innocent people.

NGUYEN: All right, we're going to have to leave it there. We appreciate both sides of this argument. It's definitely a debate and not everyone is in support of this plan. But we appreciate you both coming on the show today and talking about both sides. We thank you. Cynthia Brown and Stephen Baskerville, we appreciate it.

BROWN: Thank you, have a good day.


NGUYEN: The power of the internet versus the integrity of pop culture phenomenon.

HOLMES: Will the fate of an "American Idol" contestant determine the future of the hit TV series? RELIABLE SOURCES debating this issue at the top of the hour.

NGUYEN: And next, making a religious connection through your computer keyboard, of all things. Stay with us for that.


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ANNOUNCER: This year, Coles' took on a new challenger. He and his wife co-authored a children's book that teaches children about diversity, teamwork, and self-reliance.



HOLMES: All right, you do see Senator McCain there, with the Congressional Delegation that's made the trip to Baghdad. We've been waiting for this press conference. Let's listen to what he has to say.

SEN JOHN MCCAIN (R), ARIZONA: After landing at the airport, we drove from the airport into various parts of the city. We stopped at Ribel Sheroy (ph) market, where we spent well over an hour shopping and talking with the local people and getting their views and ideas about different issues of the day. Then we went to the Karaata (ph) Joint Security Station, a new joint security station manned by U.S. and Iraqi military, where we had a chance not only to meet American military, but also the Iraqi military who are there as well.

I believe that we have a new strategy that is making progress and it's not to say that things are well everywhere in Iraq, far from it, we have a long way to go. We read every day about suicide bombings, kidnappings, rocket attacks, and other terrible acts.

And I'm not saying that mission is accomplished or last throes or a few dead enders. But what we don't read about every day, and what is new since the surge began, is a lot of the good news. The drop in murders in Baghdad, the establishment of security outposts throughout the city, the deal among Anbar sheikhs to fight back against al Qaeda, the deployment of additional Iraqi brigades to Baghdad and the increase in actionable intelligence being provided to U.S. and Iraqi forces.

These and other indicators are reasons for cautious -- very cautious optimism about the effects of the new strategy. I believe that just as we read about all of the negative events in Iraq, the American people must be aware of the positive developments under this new plan and the media, I believe, has a responsibility to report all aspects of what's taking place here in Iraq.

I ask my -- Senator Graham.

SEN LINDSEY GRAHAM (R), SOUTH CAROLINA: Well, thank you. This is -- I think this is my sixth trip back to Iraq and one thing that I've learned over the years here that we have paid a heavy price, the Iraqis and the United States, for letting things get out of control, for not having enough people on the ground early on. But what we're doing today is different. And to say it's not different is just really not being fair.

We're having a fundamentally different approach to our security problems. We're doing now what we should have done three years ago and there is some signs of success.

Two things, we cannot let suicide bombers, homicide bombers and car bombers set the pace for the 21st century. We cannot let them determine the future of the Iraqi people or the future of the American people, and it's the resilient people (NO VIDEO) -- went to the market and we were just really warmly welcomed. I bought five rugs for five bucks and people were engaging, and just a few weeks ago, hundreds of people, dozens of people were killed in this same place.

So, to my American constituents out there who may be listening, there are plenty of people here in Iraq who want the same thing for your families that you want for yours, and they're dying for their freedom. We met the Iraqi police commander who was very optimistic that this new strategy is paying dividends. So, is it tough? Yes. Is it hopeless? No. If we're patient as a nation and we stand by the Iraqi people who are fighting and dying for their freedom, we will win this war. If we talk about leaving and losing, they will win.

HOLMES: All right, that's Senator Lindsey Graham, Republican of South Carolina, we listened to and heard from Senator John McCain, the Republican candidate for president, speaking as well, there on the trip to Baghdad with their Congressional Delegation.

We're going to bring in our Bob Franken who's at the White House for us, to talk about the trip a bit.

And Bob, I guess you were listening in there and you heard -- McCain certainly had gotten some criticism from a lot, wondering if he can be elected because he is pretty much instep with the president on the troop increase, there -- on continuing what's happening in Iraq, and get the job done, as are you saying.

But you heard him say there that he's not saying "mission accomplished," he's not saying "last throes," certainly two references there to things that have happened in the past with the Bush administration with the "mission accomplished" sign and also, Vice President Cheney they were in the "last throes of the insurgency." So, do you see him certainly trying to put on a different kind of a face and show where he does maybe differ with the Bush administration a bit?

BOB FRANKEN, CNN NEWS CORRESPONDENT: Well, what he is doing is justifying his position in support the war effort, one that is not shared by most of the other presidential candidates. He talks in terms of "very cautious optimism." He says that there is good news that has been coming out of the surge and it is good news that includes an added larger deployment of Iraqi troops and a drop in murders in Baghdad. He blames the media for not reporting this as adequately as we should be reporting. He's joined by one of his close colleagues and close friends in the Senate, Lindsey Graham, who says what is going on now is different in Iraq and to say otherwise is not being honest, he also presents a really, sort of a very, very cautious picture, saying: "Is it tough, yes. Is it hopeless? No." And graham goes on to say that if the United States pulls out, it loses a war it doesn't have to lose.

So, what you have is a politician trying to justify his position with support from his friends in Congress and also trying to make sure that there is not too rosy a scenario -- a scenario that has been presented in the minds of many people by the Bush administration as being discredited. So, what you have is John McCain trying to sort of straddle this line here.

HOLMES: All right, and Bob, are the American people going to go along with what they are hearing? You hear McCain and Lindsey Graham saying they were in this market. Lindsey Graham said, "I got five rugs for 5 bucks," it sounds like a great deal, but we see all this violence at the same time. Are they going to be able to, in a trip like this, and come back and report back to their constituents and really help the American people see that well, maybe it's not so bad? I mean, a lot of the blame they're putting on the media for not covering things like that market, or something like that, but there's so much violence -- are the American people really going start to get the impression that, hey maybe things are going really well in some areas?

FRANKEN: Well, let's talk about the whole picture. Today, for instance, the news conference is being held in the very, very, very, heavily secured Green Zone, the center city area of Baghdad. Just today, we heard news that a couple of suicide vests had been found in this very fortified area, so that would really contradict the impressions that many people would feel that Senator McCain is trying to give of increased stability.

So, it's a big picture, the polls are showing right now that the people of the United States are very skeptical about the war in Iraq, to put it bluntly, what the senator is saying here is that it's partially due to the fact they haven't been getting the complete picture.

HOLMES: All right, Bob Franken for us from the White House. Bob, thank you so much, and we do want to let our viewers know, as well, that if you'd like to continue to follow that press conference, we are streaming the whole thing live on our website, on "Pipeline," on the Internet and we are monitoring it here, as well, and there are any -- for our television to you viewers, if there's any news that develops out of that press conference, we hear anything we think you should know, we will dip back in and let you hear that.

NGUYEN: Well, on a completely different subject, we did asked you what you think about this growing trend of online worship, and you are letting us know. Veronica de la Cruz is here with a look at she's been saying.

Hi there, Veronica.

VERONICA DE LA CRUZ, CNN NEWS CORRESPONDENT: Hey there, Betty. We've been asking you out there on this Palm Sunday morning if you would forgo church to worship solely on the Web. I've got your emails coming up, next, on the dot-com desk.


HOLMES: It is Sunday morning and many of you are getting ready to go to church, but some of are you preparing to have the church come to you via the Web.


JENNIFER PENNEPACKER, EXPECTANT MOTHER: It'd be really nice to be able to still get the message and still see what's going on and still feel like you're still part of the church, even though you're not there.

HOLMES (voice-over): It's the worldwide web of worship, where websites like bring the church to you, no matter where in the world you are.

(UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I think it would be excellent for the elderly, or the infirm, someone who can't usually get out to go see a service, to be able to see their own service online and be able to have that, would be a good treat for them.

HOLMES: Daily devotionals, pod and audio casts are available 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

ANNOUNCER: Welcome to "Straight Talk."

HOLMES: Some say in today's age of convenience, Web worship makes sense.

REGINALD CROSSLEY, STUDENT, CLARK ATLANTA UNIV: Nowadays, our people are very lazy, especially waking up on Sundays after a long week of nine to five, Monday through Friday, many people don't want to get out of bed. So, by having this online, you know, access, I think that is probably one of the most productive, you know, movements when it comes to religion in general.

HOLMES: But, on the flipside.

BRYAN HORN, FMR CATHOLIC PRIEST: Oh. I'm not for that. And the reason I'm not for that is because it doesn't give you a chance to develop community, and that's really what church is all about.

HOLMES: Like it or not, the Internet is providing a new sanctuary for religion seekers. It's a hub of religious worship for millions around the world. And get this, God nearly rivals sex as a topic on the Internet. A search for "sex" on Google returns about 412 million hits, while a search for "God" yields 403 million.

Christians, Hindus, Jews, Muslims, all turning to websites. Finding online religious life at home or in an Internet cafe is supplementing attendance at traditional churches, synagogues, or mosques.

BEEBA AKRAM, STUDENT, GEORGIA STATE UNV: My mom likes it and she's like a working mom, she works like all week, then has to take care of her kids and she has to take care of the house, so she doesn't really have time to go out to classes, if they have them, like, you know, at churches or stuff or at the mosque where we would do it. So, instead, she goes online, and at her house, in the own like, comfort zone, where she doesn't have to dress up, she just sits down, takes her notebook, writes everything down and it's like a full (INAUDIBLE) class.

HOLMES: So, while some aren't singing its praises, online worship for many is a godsend.


NGUYEN: In fact, we have a computer out here. T.J.'s on it on this Palm Sunday.

HOLMES: We can't be in church right now, we're attending.

NGUYEN: We're there in spirit.

Well, the marriage of religion and technology is allowing millions around the world to worship online. But should your computer chair, this one, replace the church pew?

HOLMES: Yeah, Veronica de la Cruz joins us now with your thoughts on that.

Veronica, tell us, what are people saying?

CRUZ: Well guys, we've been asking you out there, this morning, would you forgo church to worship solely on the Web, here are a couple of those responses. Some great responses, this morning.

This is from Arnie and Kathy in Omaha who say, "What a plastic bunch of nonsense. 'Religion on the Internet' is all about money grubbers using the Internet to fill coffers of their greed-based your browser time for something useful."

And this from Matthew in South Korea who writes, "While it is good that people are participating in religious services online, the experience of being at church is one that you simply cannot get at home."

Daniel Cooley says, "I am a Service Connected Veteran with Vietnam PTSD and incurable and inoperable cancer...going to church on the Internet is my only way to attend church."

Professor Steffen Schmidt says, "God lives everywhere, including the Net! For so many people this may be the only way they can start or reopen their relationship with God. Finally, an alternative to sex and gambling on the Internet. Must be divine intervention!" And our final e-mail from Reverend Dave Avis in Texas who says, "When was the last time TV church baptized a viewer or served Holy Communion?"

So, once again, just a few of the many, many great responses we received this morning. So, keep them coming to And of course, we would love to hear you from.

Betty and T.J., back to you, and before I do that, I just want to let my mom know -- Mom, I'm not even thinking about doing it, so don't worry.

NGUYEN: Well, but those are some really good points because, just like, you know, watching a game on television, it's not the same as actually being there in the stadium and seeing it.

CRUZ: Absolutely, yeah. But T.J.




CRUZ: You, worshipping on line?

HOLMES: Well, sounds all right for a lot of people who are busy, that get over to the church or haven't found a church home, yet.

NGUYEN: Some people can't get there. So, it's the only way.

CRUZ: Yeah, that's true.

NGUYEN: But, the Internet opens doors, apparently.

CRUZ: Yes, it does.

HOLMES: Works for some, yes.

NGUYEN: Thank you, Veronica.

HOLMES: Thank you, Veronica.

Well, RELIABLE SOURCES coming up next, and then Wolf Blitzer talks with Terry Waite. Find out at 11:00 Eastern what the former Beirut hostage thinks about the detainee standoff between Iran and Great Britain, now.

NGUYEN: At noon on LATE EDITION, Reverend Al Sharpton talks with Wolf about Iraq in a 2008 presidential race.

HOLMES: And then at 1:00 Eastern, here on CNN THIS WEEK AT WAR with host John Roberts takes an in-depth look at the showdown over funding for the war.

NGUYEN: There is much more to come, right here on CNN. (COMMERCIAL BREAK)

NGUYEN: Well, good morning, everybody, I'm Betty Nguyen at the CNN Center in Atlanta. RELIABLE SOURCES begins after a check of these headlines.

Explosions in the British embassy compound in Tehran. Look at this video coming in at CNN. Iranian student threw fire crackers, but no injuries are reported. Police prevented students from entering those grounds and those students are protesting the alleged trespass of 15 detained British troops.

Moments ago, Republican presidential candidate, Senator John McCain speaking live from Baghdad says he believes the new strategy in Iraq is working, but the battle is far from over.

McCain made the unannounced trip to Iraq with three other Republican lawmakers.

In Charlotte North Carolina, two police officers are dead and the search is on for their killer or killers.

The officers where shot overnight while responding to disturbance at an apartment complex.

We're going to have more top stories in just 30 minutes, RELIABLE SOURCES begins right now.