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Small Wisconsin Town Stunned By Shootings; Imus to Return to Radio; U.S.-Iraqi Commission Reviews Security Operations
Aired October 7, 2007 - 19:00:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
PILGRIM: Join us tomorrow when Lou will be back. We appreciate your well wishes and continued support. Lou is looking forward to a great week. For all of us, thank you for joining us. Have a great week. Good night from New York.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: That someone could do that go crazy and shoot a bunch of people is, I can't even imagine it.
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TONY HARRIS, CNN LIVE SUNDAY: A young police officer on a murderous rampage, now a small town faces the question -- why?
And pictures are both captivating and revolting the vicious crackdown in Myanmar, women, children, monks, no one is spared. We take an in-depth look.
And, shock jock, Don Imus is heading back to radio. What do you think? Too soon? Or has he been punished enough?
It is a kind of story that is rare in a major city let alone a sleepy northern Wisconsin town with a population smaller than many high schools.
Good evening, everyone. I'm Tony Harris.
We begin this hour in Crandon, Wisconsin, the scene of a shooting rampage, in which six people were killed. The suspect a young police officer brought down by a bullet from one of his own. Here's CNN's John Lorinc with what we know right now.
JOHN LORINC, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice over): It's a sound that the residents of the sleepy northern Wisconsin town of Crandon weren't used to hearing.
MARCI FRANZ, CRANDON, WIS., RESIDENT: Initially, it sounded like a hammer on tin. It was loud enough to wake me, but not -- I wasn't sure it was gunshots.
LORINC: Early Sunday morning a man identified by officials as sheriff's deputy opened fire at a home with several occupants inside. Local media reported the people inside were teenagers, or people in their early 20s, and suggests they may have been having a party.
After a manhunt that lasted several hours, and caused the entire town to be placed on lockdown, police confirmed they were no longer looking for a suspect. People in this town of 2,000, are left shaking their heads.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: That someone could do that go crazy and shoot a bunch of people, I can't even imagine it.
LORINC: Law enforcement say that the suspect worked for the Forest County Sheriff's Department, and also worked part time for the Crandon police department.
John Lorince, CNN, Atlanta.
HARRIS: Local police held a news conference just last hour, but gave very few details. They say they will release more information tomorrow. The residents of Crandon, though, have plenty to say. We're hearing several of the victims were teens and that's a tough thing for any classmate to handle.
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UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: My thoughts and prayers are with them. And, but everyone is thinking about them.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I hope no community had to go through what Crandon is going through right now. And I really hope the people that passed away are in a better place now.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
You know the entire population of Crandon is about 2,000. Almost everybody in town knew the deputy and the victims. Tonight, they're left trying to cope with something that seems to make no sense at all. For more we go to Robert Hornacek with CNN affiliate WLUK.
And you know, Robert, it probably took no time for the town to learn of this tragedy. You have been out there for most of the day what are you hearing from the people in Crandon?
ROBERT HORNACEK, WLUK TV NEWS: I can tell you this, Tony, in stories like this we always hear that a community is shocked or stunned. In this case here in Crandon, that is literally an understatement. A lot of the people I spoke with today, in town, and just outside of town saying they really are having a hard time putting into words the feelings they have from events of today.
Now this, word travels very fast in a small town like Crandon. As you said, there's not even 2,000 people here in this town. And everybody knows just about everyone. Literally everyone in town I spoke with knows somebody who was one involved in the shooting, either the shooter himself, or somebody at the home. And everybody I spoke with also agrees that the real tragedy here is not just what happened but the fact that victims are so young. This off-duty deputy was just 20 years old. Many of victims, residents say, were just 17 to 20 years old. Some were current students here at Crandon High School, others were recent graduates.
Imagine this, you're sitting at a party, at your friend's house, it's the middle of the night. Everybody's having fun and the next thing you know, somebody comes through the door, you recognize him, because everybody knew each other. They break down the door, he starts shooting. Six people are dead, then he takes off. And even though it is middle of the night, many people say they heard the gunshot at about 3 o'clock in the morning.
One man says he knows the shooter, and says he simply can't believe what's happened.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
FRANK BOCEK, CRANDON RESIDENT: He was an A student. Just -- he was a good kid. You would never have thought this. You know -- come from, you know a young kid like that. Twenty years old. It's -- it's terrible.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HORNACEK: Classes here at Crandon High School have been canceled for tomorrow. School district officials are meeting inside the high school right now going over the crisis plan. There will no doubt be grief counselors here on hand, probably for the rest of the week.
The mayor, here, of this small town says this is a strong community, while this is an agonizing time, the community will get through it. But, Tony, no doubt it will take time for the community to deal with.
HARRIS: Robert, so many questions come to mind right now. I am wondering why we didn't learn more from that press conference. Look, as you mentioned this happened at 3:00 a.m. in the morning. We are talking about a lot of time that has passed here. Can you help us understand why we didn't learn more?
HORNACEK: Well there is a lot of theories about that. For one thing, we have found out a lot more information today from residents of this town and from law enforcement. The other question, the other thing that is pretty obvious, to us right now is this is involving a law enforcement officer. Any time a law enforcement officer is involved in any kind of shooting they really want to make sure, before they release anything, we have had, his name has been widely reported in some media outlets. Police have not officially said it.
HORNACEK: Again, it's one of their own officers. They want to be very careful before they release too much.
HARRIS: Robert Hornacek, for us this evening.
Robert, appreciate it. Thank you.
In other news now, could radio talk show host Don Imus be returning to the airwaves? Six months after he lost his job, for uttering racially insensitive remarks, he now has a shot at redemption. Here is our Jim Acosta.
DON IMUS, FMR. RADIO TALK SHOW HOST: Those are some rough girls from Rutgers, let me tell you.
JIM ACOSTA, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice over): It was only last spring when Don Imus' verbal assault on Rutgers women's basketball team ignited a firestorm.
IMUS: That's some nappy headed who's there, I'm going to tell you.
ACOSTA: That quickly engulfed his career. Within days after his on air slur, he had been shamed by the women of Rutgers.
VIVIAN STRINGER, RUTGERS WOMEN'S BASKETBALL COACH: We have all been physically, mentally, and emotionally spent. So hurt by the remarks that were uttered by Mr. Imus.
ACOSTA: And slam dunked by Reverend Al Sharpton.
REV. AL SHARPTON, CIVIL RIGHTS ADVOCATE: Do you think it's funny to call people nappy headed who's.
IMUS: No, I don't.
CROWD CHANTING: Imus must go! Imus must go!
ACOSTA: Under mounting press both MSNBC and CBS Radio pulled the plug on the I-Man, ending a 30-year run, so it seemed. "The Washington Post" and "The New York Times" are reporting Citadel Broadcasting on verge of a deal with Imus on for a morning broadcast on WABC Radio in New York, a program that may be syndicated to 200 stations across the country.
SHARPTON: Even if he is coming back, he is having to tiptoe back. He is going to have to watch every step of the way.
ACOSTA: If Imus is back, his old nemesis, Sharpton, will be listening.
SHARPTON: We will monitor it. And see if safeguards are in place to make sure he does not use racist, and sexist language, as his way of drawing an audience.
ACOSTA: Over at Rutgers University some students are willing to give Imus a second chance, too. IAN EVANS, RUTGERS UNIVERSITY: I think that was a good suspension for him. I think he is sincere about it. I think he should be allowed to come back now.
JOANA AHN, RUTGERS UNIVERSITY STUDENT: It was pretty harsh of him to say. But I think we should just get over it by now.
ACOSTA: On one of his final broadcasts Imus declared he is capable of cleaning up his act.
IMUS: I'm sorry I did that. I'm embarrassed that I did that. I did a bad thing. But I'm a good person. And that will change.
ACOSTA (on camera): Now he just has to prove it. Another question is whether Imus will succeed in finding a TV outlet for his radio show. At 67 years old, Don Imus it appears doesn't do retirement. Jim Acosta, CNN, New York.
HARRIS: If Imus does in fact return to the air you can bet some folks will be all ears just waiting for another Rutgers-type comment. Howard Kurtz, the host of CNN's "Reliable Sources", believes Don Imus' next boss will keep him on a short broadcast leash. He spoke to our Fredricka Whitfield a short time ago.
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HOWARD KURTZ, CNN ANCHOR, RELIABLE SOURCES: This was a huge controversy. I think at that time, Imus was made -- what he said, which was admittedly wrong, admittedly insensitive, and for which he apologized. He was made to be a national symbol, Fredricka, of all that was wrong in terms of crude talk on the airwaves.
Now that that settled down a bit, he will try to come back. Don't know whether he'll make it back on TV, but there's a lot of money that he can make for some radio company. And it looks like Citadel is going to be the one.
FREDRICKA WHITFIELD, CNN ANCHOR: And you have to wonder if there will be any outrage on his return. That there might be critics who say, wait a minute, while he was taken off the air, he was penalized for that. He did still see a pretty sizable settlement that came from taking him off the air. Now he is going to recover. He'll still get million in some other contract deal.
KURTZ: Well executives that run Citadel Broadcasting has been quoted as saying, look, Imus did something wrong. He was certainly penalized for it. He didn't break the law and shouldn't be punished forever. And Al Sharpton, who led the charge, as you may recall, against Imus after the remarks about the Rutgers women's team, said he doesn't have any problem with Imus going back on the air. He doesn't think he should be banned from the airwaves forever.
But I think it is fair to say that every word that he utters, every joke that he makes every bit of fun that he tries to have he will be carefully monitored particularly by critics to see whether he gets himself in trouble again.
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HARRIS: Imus' prospective employer, Citadel Broadcasting, isn't commenting on the published reports.
Fake blood, dismembered dolls, and nearly 100 people arrested at a Columbus Day Parade? Ahead in the NEWSROOM, the activist who says Christopher Columbus was no hero.
Oral Roberts University rocked with a scandal. The president of the university answers claims he pocketed school funds to buy fancy clothes, cars, and even pay his bills. You are watching CNN, the most trusted name in news.
HARRIS: Welcome back everyone to the CNN NEWSROOM.
The president of Oral Roberts University is angrily denying accusations he used school funds to fund a lavish lifestyle. Three former university professors are leveling those accusations in a lawsuit against ORU and Richard Roberts, Oral Robert's son.
The suit claims Roberts used money from ORU and Oral Roberts Ministries to, among other things, remodel his daughter's dorm room, buy clothes, expensive cars, horses and trips. Roberts insists he pays his family's bills each month.
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RICHARD ROBERTS, PRESIDENT, ORAL ROBERTS UNIVERSITY: Some may think that I might -- ought to hang my head in shame. But I won't do that. I am confident that when the real truth is known there will be no more questions.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HARRIS: The board of regents at ORU says it is conducting a full investigation.
David Petraeus is again accusing Iran of meddling in Iraq. In an exclusive CNN interview the commander of U.S. forces says Iran's top diplomat in Baghdad is a secret member of the covert Iranian military force accused of helping insurgents. It's called the Quds Force.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GEN. DAVID PETRAEUS, MULTI-NATIONAL FORCES, IRAQ: The Quds Force controls the policy for Iraq, there should be no confusion about that either. The ambassador is a Quds Force member. Now he has diplomatic immunity and therefore he is obviously not subject and he is acting as a diplomat.
(END VIDEO CLIP) HARRIS: In Baghdad today, a series of bombs killed at least nine people. One of three reported blasts killed three passers-by near the Iranian embassy. Three others died when a roadside bomb missed it's apparent target, which was a U.S. military patrol.
Also today in Iraq, U.S.-Iraqi commission met for the first time to review security operations. The joint investigation was prompted by the deadly battle September 16th involving Iraqi civilians, and the private firm Blackwater Security. Blackwater says its security squad was fired on first, a claim disputed by Iraqi witnesses. Seventeen people were killed according to a senior Iraqi investigator.
A report out today says that record numbers, black Americans are deciding against military service. The "Boston Globe" reports, a drop of 58 percent since the year 2000. The reason cited by military analysts -- Pentagon studies and interviewees include the war in Iraq, distrust of the Bush administration, and a lingering perception that blacks are steered toward combat roles.
President Bush says he is paying tribute to fire fighters killed in the line of duty. The president spoke this morning at national fallen fire fighters memorial in Emmitsburg, Maryland. The plaque with the names of 87 fire fighters who died in the line of duty last year was added to the memorial. Mr. Bush praised their sacrifice, and the sacrifice of their families.
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GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We're here for the colleagues who answered a call and did not come home. We're here for the brave moms and dads who left behind families that now need our love and our strong support. Families of our fallen fire fighters have suffered a terrible loss. No words can ease the ache in your hearts.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HARRIS: The memorial now shows the names of more than 3,100 fire fighters killed in action, that includes more than 300 New York City fire fighters killed on 9/11.
A CNN, I-Report of very strong winds and powerful rains to show us a typhoon that hit Taiwan, that is ahead in the CNN NEWSROOM. Plus, the Reverend Al Sharpton put Isaiah Thomas on notice -- apologize or else. Thomas' use of the "B" word, that could lead to a boycott.
HARRIS: Tropical Storm Krosa, now lashing the southeastern coast of China. More than 1 million people evacuated to safer ground. The storm already hit Taiwan hard with wind and rain. I-Reporter Michael Tilley caught it on video yesterday, as it crossed past the island. Krosa, just in case you're wondering is the Cambodian word for crane. It killed five people in Taiwan and knocked out power to some 2 million homes. Heat and humidity, shut down the Chicago marathon early today. Have you heard this story? But not before one runner died. And 250 others went to the hospital with heat related problems. An autopsy scheduled tomorrow for the 35-year-old Michigan man who died. Many runners sat out the 88 degree heat, oppressive humidity, the high temperature was a record for the marathon. Organizers shut down the second half of the court four hours after the start of the race.
Let's get you to Jacqui Jeras now to talk more about this heat.
You would think, Jacqui there was enough notice, it would be this hot. My goodness why wouldn't the organizers shut down the dog-gone race and not run it in that kind of heat?
JACQUI JERAS, CNN METEOROLOGIST: That's a very good question.
JERAS: Unbelievable, though, you know, 88 in Chicago, that's like July, maybe August kind of weather.
HARRIS: You would expect it there, but not in October.
JERAS: Exactly, 88 was a record today. Right now, still at this hour, 6:30 almost. And it is still 84 degrees. The average highs, take a guess? Still with me, Tony?
HARRIS: My guess is at least 10 degrees -- 75?
JERAS: Yeah. We're talking 20 degrees above average. A lot of people are in on this action, you know. It's not just Chicago. We're talking most of the Great Lakes, most of the Southeast. Really, covering a lot of the Eastern Seaboard, too, where temperatures are seen, very, very warm.
HARRIS: Told you, moments ago, about the runner dying at the Chicago marathon. There was another death today at another high- profile race, this one in Washington, D.C. A runner collapsed and died at the Army's annual 10-miler race just yards from the finish line at the Pentagon. Don't know the cause of death just yet. Temperatures around 70 degrees when the race began with high humidity.
Protestors from around the world demand change in Myanmar. Tonight we'll take an in-depth look at what's going on in that country. What do the protestors want? And why has the military responded in such a violent way?
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Let them go!
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HARRIS: Another protest, this one right here in the United States. These folks are riled up about Columbus Day. You're watching CNN LIVE SUNDAY.
HARRIS: Fake blood, shredded dolls not the kind of thing you find at most parades, but then neither is this.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Let them go!
HARRIS: Eighty-three people hauled off to jail in Denver as Columbus Day celebration turns into a screaming match. At the heart of the conflict, vastly different opinions of Christopher Columbus. Some calling him a hero, some a genocide sparking slave trader. Here is Anastasia Bolten from Denver affiliate KUSA.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Let them go!
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It just goes on and on.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Denver police called it civil disobedience.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I mean, years ago they decided to do this stupid holiday.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: That landed many, 83, of the disobeying.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: They're arresting people for freedom of speech.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: In handcuffs, on the ground.
SONNY JACKSON, DENVER POLICE: You had several people who tried to impede the right of way of the parade. Which was the violation. The parade's permit was pulled. And these individuals tried to obstruct the parade. And that's what the issue was.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's just wasting the police's time.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: While all the other parties, those marching the holiday wanted to do.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We're celebrate a wonderful national holiday and this is what happens.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Our rights have been violated. We should have had our First Amendment right to go through, in the way the permit stated. UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Maybe this sign says it best. Free speech works both ways. But doesn't look like either side wants to back down.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: They're not going to stop doing this. Just because they take people and arrest them doesn't mean that people are not going to stop fighting for it.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We only have one God. Please, God, let there be peace all over.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: In Denver, Anastasia Bolton (ph), 9 News.
HARRIS: Man, and if things weren't bad enough, in La Jolla, California, could there be more of this to come, the aftermath of Wednesday's massive landslide. But now there is even more potential trouble; a new three-foot by four-foot sinkhole, about a mile west of this mess. No major damage yet.
The police are keeping people clear and residents are demanding answers from city engineers, despite fire officials pointing to a possible gas leak as the cause of yesterday's explosion at an apartment. Utility company Con-Edison says it found no evidence of a leak at the property. Twenty-four people, eight of them children, were injured. Several are still in critical condition.
The blast ripped through the building, blowing out windows and air conditioning units. The structure has been shored up, but residents still are not being allowed back in. Investigators say it will take days to sort out what caused the series of huge blasts. Man. This is taking place in Tacoma, Washington. It started near a foundry when a propane truck exploded. A fireball shut down the highway and cut power to thousand as you might expect here. Four people were injured including the truck driver who was hospitalized with serious burns.
An awful accident in eastern Cuba. A bus and train collide with deadly results. State media reports at least 28 people were killed, dozens injured, many of them critically. The collision happened at a railroad crossing near a bridge. The train apparently dragged the bus on to the bridge. The bus then fell below.
The NBA pre-season has just gotten under way. The New York Knicks have their first game on Friday. And if the Reverend Al Sharpton can marshal enough support, a picket line will actually ring Madison Square Garden that's unless he hears an apology from Knicks' head coach, Isaiah Thomas. In Thomas' deposition in a highly publicized sexual harassment suit, he seemed to say it isn't so bad to call a black woman the "b" word at least for black men. Thomas and the team were held liable in the suit to the tune of millions of dollars. The coach also lost ground with Sharpton.
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REV. AL SHARPTON, CIVIL RIGHTS ACTIVITIST: Nobody, who ever they are, has the right to say the "b" word and there is no difference for black men to say it, a white man to say it, an Asian to say it, a Latino to say it, or any one, undecided to say it.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HARRIS: Thomas and Sharpton have spoken by phone but Sharpton apparently isn't satisfied. His group says it will give Thomas until the end of the week to further explain or apologize for his comments.
Here is a staggering figure $146 million. That's how much of your tax money the government says federal employees are wasting every year to break the rules and fly first-class. Kathleen Koch is keeping them honest.
KATHLEEN KOCH, CNN, CORRESPONDENT: The report found the State Department employee and his family of eight spent $46,000, four times coach fare to relocate from Washington to Eastern Europe. An Agriculture Department executive took 25 first-class flights costing $163,000. A Defense Department executive claimed a medical condition required him to fly premium class 15 times. His authorization, a note from a fellow employee. Federal workers are required to fly coach unless the flight is over 14 hours or unless a supervisor approves special circumstances. The government accountability office investigation found most federal agencies don't even track business and first-class travel by their workers.
SEN NORM COLEMAN (R), MINNESOTA: Clearly if you can, if you don't know something is happening it's hard to figure out whether there is a problem and even harder to correct it.
KOCH: The study commissioned by Congress found that in just one year, $146 million was wasted on unauthorized premium flights. Senior officials were big violators. They make up less than 1% of federal workers but 15% of the travel abuse.
COLEMAN: Senior officials should set an example. They shouldn't set an example of being the problem.
KOCH: To crack down the GAO says the government should set up an office to oversee travel policies and agencies should track, audit and report premium class travel.
TOM SCHATZ, CITIZENS AGAINST GOV'T WASTE: The agencies should have been doing this on their own. It's a simple management accountability problem. Some embarrassment, some reporting, oversight by congress will all force agencies to become more accountable.
KOCH: Another deterrent making federal workers including top officials pay the money back. But that is not expected to happen in every case. Kathleen Koch, CNN, Washington.
HARRIS: Well, we're going to continue to keep them honest. Tonight at 10:00 p.m. Eastern, we will have more on this story as well as Josh Leves looking at even more examples of government waste. That's at 10:00 p.m. Eastern, 7:00 p.m. Pacific.
A refugee from Myanmar, a place he still calls Burma now calls Atlanta home. Next in the CNN NEWSROOM, a firsthand account of what's fueling the protest in his homeland.
Plus, the people of Myanmar aren't standing alone in their fight for democracy. Americans and many others chiming in as well. You're in the NEWSROOM.
ALI VELSHI, "GETTING DOWN TO BUSINESS:" The Federal Reserve meet at the end of the month to set interest rates. And investors are already speculating about whether another cut is in the cards. We'll get some insight this week into Chairman Ben Bernanke and company's decision to cut interest rates by a half a percentage point on September 18th. The minutes from that meeting are released on Tuesday. The fed's decision followed concerns that the sub prime mortgage mess and the troubled housing sector could hurt the economy. But despite the housing slump across much of the nation, recent data shows real estate in New York City is actually selling faster than at this time last year. These places don't come cheap though. The average price of an apartment in Manhattan is $1.41 million for a one bedroom. That's according to a the (Corcorin) group real estate company. And finally this week, the U.S. government's weekly report on fuel inventories is due out Wednesday. Crude oil prices have pulled back from their all time trading high of $83.90 a barrel reached in September. But they have remained near $80 a barrel due in part and that's due in part to a weak U.S. dollar. Well, if you want more of this sort of thing, watch me on "Minding Your Business" each weekday on AMERICAN MORNING. That's it from New York. I'm Ali Velshi.
HARRIS: Buddhist monks speak. Thousands detained. Some even killed. Because of their demands for democracy. It's happening in Myanmar, the Asian country that many Americans know very little bit about. Tonight, we explore the history of the country and look at what led to the recent protests, the violent crackdown, and what can be done to resolve the crisis. So we are dedicating the next, 15 minutes or so, to give you in depth coverage of the growing crisis in Myanmar. It is also known as Burma and it is a mystery to many in the west, an isolated country even from its neighbors. And that's just the way the military dictator likes it. CNN's Anderson Cooper takes a rare look inside the country and how it got to be the way it is.
ANDERSON COOPER, CNN, ANCHOR: It is a country shrouded in secrecy, plagued for decades by violence. The military junta that controls it today has ruled with an iron fist since it ousted the last dictatorship in 1988. A year later, the generals changed the name of the country from Burma to Myanmar to rid the country of its British colonial legacy. The United States, Great Britain and democracy advocates around the world refuse to recognize the name change. The man behind the shadowy regime is a 74-year-old Senior General named (Than Shwe).
JOSH KURLANTZICK, SCHOLAR, CARNEGIE ENDOWMENT: He is an extremely kind of paranoid and xenophobic and unpredictable person.
COOPER: Than Shwe controls 400,000 troops, one of the largest army in Asia. They live in isolated barracks cut off from civilians. He has lived in isolation as well ever since, without warning, he moved the capital of the country from the city of Yangon to a remote jungle outpost just two years ago.
KURLANTZICK: Some people think that Than Shwe's astrologer told him that was a good idea. That wouldn't be so far out of left field. Than Shwe sort of maybe fancies himself as a kind of modern-day king. In the past, Burmese kings to sort of make their marks, show their greatness, they would build capitals, a kind of monuments themselves.
COOPER: Than Shwe spent most of his life in military service never graduating from high school and rarely traveling outside the country. In recent years, as his health has declined, he remained sequestered in the remote capital, only traveling to the old capital Yangon last year for his daughter's lavish wedding. The event shown here in these exclusive pictures is reported to have cost more than $300,000. And brought in $50 million in gifts.
KURLANTZICK: That was a huge shocker because this is a country, one of the poorest countries in Asia, its economy has been run into the ground. And here you have this general and their daughters living this incredibly lavish lifestyle.
COOPER: But outrage in Burma is quickly often violently stamped out. In 1988, the army opened fire into masses of peaceful protestors killing more than 3,000. In 1990, the junta actually allowed free election assuming they would win. When pro-democracy activist, Aung San Suu Kyi, won in a landslide, she was imprisoned. The government has kept her under house arrest ever since. The junta has detained and tortured countless other political prisoners. It also led a brutal military campaign against ethnic groups in the country sending a flood of refugees into neighboring Thailand. The violent reaction to recent demonstrations is just another chapter in Burma's long history of suffering.
HARRIS: And joining me now, a man who managed to escape that suffering and get out of the country. Lian Chin Thang is a Burmese refugee who immigrated to Atlanta a few months ago from a refugee camp in Malaysia. Great to see you. Thanks for being here this evening.
LIAN CHIN THANG, BURMESE REFUGEE: Thank you.
HARRIS: You first have to tell us why the government was after you, why you were forced to flee the country?
LIAN CHIN THANG: This was in 2004, after I was graduated from (Duke)University. And I went back home because I wanted to meet my family who are in the state, in Chin State, which is one of the seven states in Burma. And there because Chin has its national army, the government is hunting for them. So when I was accompanied with Christian pastor, preacher, so we has a meeting, a prayer meeting. During that time, the government, the military soldiers, suddenly came and accused us of being member of CNA, which is Chin National Army.
HARRIS: Were you a member?
LIAN CHIN THANG: No, I was not a member. I was not a member.
HARRIS: Were you, were you a part of any pro-democracy movement in the country?
LIAN CHIN THANG: No, I was not. But I just was a Democratic Party supporter. I was, I was never a member.
HARRIS: Well, let's get to the heart of the matter here. What are we talking about in terms of what needs to happen now in your home country, Burma, are we talking regime change?
LIAN CHIN THANG: Yes. Burma cannot be changed by its own because the government has the power. Even (inaudible) so I mean, people, the Burmese people don't have weapons so it is impossible to get change by their own so we need the help of other countries like United Nations.
HARRIS: Do you think this is the moment when that can actually happen that this is the moment where the international community might coalesce around the pro-democracy movement in Burma? Is this the moment right now?
LIAN CHIN THANG: This is the time the country should act to help the Burmese people get democracy. Because this has been long time for Burmese people to suffer from the Burmese military ruling which is very cruel to people, killing people.
HARRIS: You mentioned the United Nations. I'm wondering what about some of the other countries in the region? What about Thailand? What about India? What about China? How much influence can these countries bring to bear? How much pressure on that military regime to bring about the kind of change that you are talking about?
LIAN CHIN THANG: Oh, no, like China, Thailand, India and another surrounding neighboring countries cannot make Burma change and they will not allow Burma to be changed because they are getting something from Burma. Getting the natural resource from Burma. So if they let Burma go they will not gain. So, that's why they won't let, they won't help the Burmese change.
HARRIS: So is it left to the leadership of the United States now to make this happen?
LIAN CHIN THANG: Everybody, Burmese people are hoping help from United States or United Nations. Because it is impossible to be helped by neighboring nations because the government and these neighboring nations, they have interchange economy. So neighboring countries cannot help them. HARRIS: Are you a supporter of Aung San Suu Kyi?
LIAN CHIN THANG: Yes, I am a supporter of Aung San Suu Kyi. I even pledged (inaudible)
HARRIS: I see if I took a moment to look at your shirt, I would have seen that for myself but you're (inaudible) wearing the shirt. So does she have a kind of moral authority, moral clarity, can she meet with the military leaders, and can she through the power of her own personal story, struggle, bring about the change that you are talking about? Is this kind of a Nobel Peace moment for Aung San Suu Kyi?
LIAN CHIN THANG: Aung San Suu Kyi is supported by all Burmese people and we all hope and believe that she can lead us. She can lead Burma, not the military. Because the military use only power to lead Burma, not wisdom or education. So we all support Aung San Suu Kyi.
HARRIS: Lian Chin Thang, great to see you. Thanks for visiting us here in Atlanta. And I hope you continue to prosper here in Atlanta.
LIAN CHIN THANG: Thank you very much.
HARRIS: Thanks for being with us.
LIAN CHIN THANG: Thank you.
HARRIS: And still to come, we have seen the video and pictures showing the violent crackdown on protestors in Myanmar, what if anything is being done to help the injured? We talk to a doctor who is still inside Myanmar right now. But have a look at more information about the disputed death toll following the recent pro- democracy protest in Myanmar. You are watching CNN, the most trusted name in news.
HARRIS: Call it Myanmar or call it Burma. The tiny country is getting more and more attention.
About a 100 marchers protested outside Myanmar's embassy in Washington, Saturday. It was just one of many demonstrations on an international day of action calling for democracy in a country run by its military since 1962. Today, Myanmar leaders report the arrest of 78 more people and say about 1,000 people are being held. But dissident groups say the number is far higher. Many of them are Buddhist monks who have been leading the call for change. Celebrities are also getting involved in the protest. Actor Jim Carrey, usually the funny man is very serious about this. He is reaching out on youtube, speaking out in public calling for an end to the Myanmar crackdown.
JIM CARREY, ACTOR ACTIVIST: I would like to appeal to General Than Shwe and the soldiers themselves. Please come to your senses. Stop hurting your people. Treat the monks with the reverence they deserve. Begin peaceful negotiations and return your nation's true leader, Aung San Suu Kyi, to her home and her family. There is nothing to defend if you have lost the faith of your people.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HARRIS: The medical community is also taking action to help the people of Myanmar. Doctors without borders is on the ground there, fighting a critical battle against AIDS, malaria and other deadly diseases. Joining us now by phone from Yangon, Dr. Frank Smithuis. Doctor, good to talk to you.
DR. FRANK SMITHUIS, DOCTORS WITHOUT BORDERS (on the phone): Good morning.
HARRIS: Doctor, if you would, what has been, how would you describe your working relationship with the military regime in Myanmar?
SMITHUIS: Actually the relationship is, is some times difficult but in general it's quite good.
HARRIS: Has the relationship been strained by the recent unrest, the demonstrations and the suppression techniques from the government?
SMITHUIS: No, actually there has been no influence on the work that we are doing in the field.
HARRIS: Has your organization been able to help the people injured, we're taking a look at some video now, of the military beating protestors? Has your organization been able to help the people injured in this military crackdown?
SMITHUIS: Actually, Doctors without Borders has five clinics in Rangoon and overall something like 25 clinics. But the demonstrations were quite localized. And we have not seen any injured in the places where we were.
HARRIS: Well, then perhaps this is the question, have you asked? Has the organization asked to be allowed to help?
SMITHUIS: Well, you must see this is actually quite a small scale and locally. It's a very big town, Rangoon, and we work on the outskirts while demonstrations were on the inskirts. And today had an ambulance driving around but even they have not come across any injured people. I believe that the injured people were taken away quickly and quietly.
HARRIS: But you do believe, you've seen the pictures and you know that there are injured people who have been hurt by the crackdown?
SMITHUIS: Sure. And I think these people have been taken to private places where they've been treated.
HARRIS: Does your organization have a moral obligation to demand access to the injured? The detained? SMITHUIS: I think that the injured sure they need medical, medical help. And if they come to us or if we know where they are we will treat them like anybody else.
HARRIS: But you don't feel an obligation to move forward, to reach out to the government to in any way demand that you have access to the detained and the injured?
SMITHUIS: Well, you see we have a very large program. We have treated last year more than one million patients, for malaria, AIDS. These program activities are still going on. We are working for deadly diseases. So it is very important for us to continue the treatment of these patients and this is actually where our staff is busy in these clinics serving these more than a million people.
HARRIS: So you want to protect that relationship with the government to do the work you are doing on the ground?
SMITHUIS: Well, I want to continue these activities. However, if injured people are coming to our clinics. That is not the main reason why we have been set up there but if people come to the clinics we will definitely help them.
HARRIS: OK. Dr. Frank Smithuis with us from Yangon. Doctor, thank you.
We have told you a lot about Myanmar tonight. Now, it is time to test your knowledge with our news quiz. Myanmar is the second largest producer of what illicit crop. We'll give you the answer after the break.
But still to come in the NEWSROOM. A major league baseball game encounters a major league problem. The lights went out during the playoff game. Did someone forget to pay the bills? We'll tell you what happened next.
HARRIS: So, before the break we asked you what illicit crop Myanmar is the second largest producer of? And the answer is opium.
Officials are blaming a computer malfunction for last night's blackout at Coors Field in Denver. It delayed the big playoff game for about 15 minutes but hello it didn't dim the hometown Rocky's hopes. They beat the Phillies 2-1 to sweep the divisional series.
Next on CNN "Special Investigation Unit" Anderson Cooper traces the opium journey in Afghanistan. CNN SIU presents "Narco State: The Poppy Jihad" next. I'm Tony Harris. We will see you back here in the CNN NEWSROOM again at 10:00 p.m. Eastern.
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