Skip to main content
Search
Services


 

Return to Transcripts main page

CNN NEWSROOM

Search on for Kidnapped Newborn Baby; Teen Escapes from Dungeon; Pittsburgh Campus Shooter Still on Loose; Armed Man Storms Capitol; FDA Warnings Increase for Bagged Spinach; Scare on International Space Station

Aired September 18, 2006 - 13:00   ET

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


KYRA PHILLIPS, HOST: Hello, everyone. I'm Kyra Phillips at the CNN world headquarters in Atlanta.
Amber Alert, a newborn kidnapped from her own home, her mother viciously attacked. Now a sketch of the suspect and an intense hunt for the baby girl.

Security breach. An armed man eludes guards on Capitol Hill and makes it inside. How can this happen, post-911? We're live in Washington.

Tainted spinach. The FDA issues a new warning as an E. coli outbreak grows. Nineteen states affected, 109 people sickened.

We're working all these stories and more for you in the CNN NEWSROOM.

She can't walk or talk or call for help. She's 10 days old. And for three of those days and counting, she's been a kidnap victim. Today we're getting a glimpse of the woman who supposedly took her. It's a developing story out of Missouri, where the search for a stolen baby girl gets more urgent by the minute.

Our Jonathan Freed joins us now from the town of Union, southwest of St. Louis for more -- Jonathan.

JONATHAN FREED, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Good afternoon, Kyra.

We are being told that a number of people are being interviewed by police. That has been going on during the day today.

And the other thing, within the hour or so we finally have that composite sketch that had been promised of the suspect in this case. It is a white female who is said to be between 30 and 40 years old, weighing approximately 200 pounds, with dark hair that was pulled back under a baseball cap that's been described as somewhat tattered.

Now, during the news conference we were asking authorities here to clarify whether or not the family involved here is under suspicion in any way. And earlier police statements had suggested that they had no reason to suspect that what they were hearing from the mother was anything other than the truth.

Today, though, police have -- have moved back to a more neutral tone, basically saying that everything is on the table. Nothing is off the table right now, as far as suspects go, Kyra.

PHILLIPS: So, is this an isolated incident at this point or have there been other reports of these types of assaults and kidnappings in the area?

FREED: Now, it's a good question because I had a chance to talk to the sheriff about that a couple hours ago. He said that he has worked here since the mid '70s, and this is the first time that he has ever dealt with a case like this. We hear of these things, unfortunately, occasionally in different parts of the country, but as far as this county, this area here, he says he's never seen it before.

PHILLIPS: Jonathan Freed, let's stay on top of the story throughout the day. Appreciate it.

Well, a quick mind and a cell phone. A South Carolina girl used both to escape an underground dungeon. Our Drew Griffin has all the details now, live in Kansas.

Drew, bring us up to date.

DREW GRIFFIN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: The girl is fine, as far as we know. She is home recovering from this ordeal that she herself, according to the police, got herself out of, Kyra.

She was kidnapped September 6. Got off a school bus, walking down a rural road in South Carolina when this man came up, pretending to be a police officer." She didn't believe it, but the man said that "I already have your little brother.

So 14-year-old Elizabeth Shoaf went with him and found herself in this underground tunnel, basically a bunker, 8 feet deep, 20 feet long, where she was kept for 10 days until Friday night, when her captor fell asleep. She grabbed the cell phone and sent a text message to her mother. She knew she wasn't far.

Police were able to use some technology called triangulation to find out where that cell phone call came from. And then they found her in the woods.

The captor had already taken off. He was caught early Sunday morning, Kyra, and he is now facing five felony counts here in Camden, South Carolina, including kidnapping and criminal sexual conduct.

A very bizarre story, but a somewhat happy ending as the family just elated to have this girl back home. Quite frankly, after 10 days, the mother told me they were having their doubts she would ever come home.

PHILLIPS: Drew, just looking at this set-up, I mean, it's elaborate. This is someone who knew what he was doing and has worked on this underground dungeon. Do we know anything about his past? Does he have a rap sheet? Could he be tied to other sexual assaults, possibly even murders?

GRIFFIN: As a matter of fact, the reason that he has this underground set of bunkers, as many as five possible bunkers, is because he's been hiding from police, Kyra, since November, when he was accused of molesting or sexually assaulting a 12-year-old stepdaughter.

Ever since then he's been eluding police. This man, 36-year-old Vinson Filyaw has a record, though not a criminal, sexually violent one. Mostly, DUIs and some other minor charges. But he was wanted on a warrant for criminal sexual conduct of second degree with a minor.

Police believed he had fled to North Carolina, which is why they weren't actively pursuing him until they got this text message. And the text message basically identified the phone as being owned by Vinson Filyaw, the suspect in this case.

All right. Drew Griffin, thanks so much.

Well, now the shocking shooting on a college campus in Pittsburgh. Three university basketball players are lying in hospital beds today, one with a critical head wound. Two of their teammates are also wounded. And the shooter is still on the loose.

CNN's Alina Cho reports.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

ALINA CHO, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Duquesne's athletic director is calling this a traumatic time for the university. Many students are expressing disbelief this morning, and Duquesne is responding by stepping up security.

(voice-over) Police say the five Duquesne basketball players had just left an on-campus dance early Sunday morning, around 2 a.m. Not long after that, there was apparently a verbal exchange with a man who is not believed to be a student. Shots were fired, and the suspect is still at large.

GREG AMODIO, DUQUESNE UNIVERSITY ATHLETIC DIRECTOR: There's a general concern for all of our student athletes but especially the men's basketball team. This has been very traumatic for them. Some of their teammates are directly affected by this. And it's an issue where they're wrapping themselves around the team. They're trying to act as one and be family for each other.

CHO: The university president says the community is still in shock because the Duquesne campus is known as a safe place.

CHARLES DOUGHERTY, DUQUESNE UNIVERSITY PRESIDENT: The whole campus is in grief. Our prayers are with the families and our students, the students who witnessed some horrible things.

We're also still stunned because this is a very safe campus. Nothing like this has ever happened here before. We actually sell the campus as a safe place.

CHO (on camera): The most critically injured player is a cousin of former Houston Rockets star Hakeem Olajuwon. Many of his teammates and other students attended a prayer service on campus last night, and the university is offering crisis counseling for anyone who needs it.

Alina Cho, CNN, Pittsburgh.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

PHILLIPS: An SUV rams a barricade. The armed driver runs into the building the barricade was protecting. A security breach, to be sure, but this building wasn't -- or was the U.S. Capitol. And you're not the only one wondering how such a thing could happen post-9/11.

Let's get straight to Capitol Hill. Our Brian Todd has the latest -- Brian.

BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Kyra, a lot of people are wondering that at this hour. A lot of people who work here are telling us this was an extraordinary breach of security.

We've been piecing this together, what happened, over the past five hours since the capitol went on lockdown for about an hour at about 8 a.m. Eastern Time this morning. And according to eyewitness accounts and law enforcement sources, this is what we can tell you happened.

Shortly before 8 a.m. this morning, the intruder, the suspect was being chased, according to law enforcement sources, around this area of Capitol Hill. There's a construction entrance just beyond this fence, a few yards beyond this fence. He drove it through that construction entrance. There was a gate there. Drove it very fast, this way and came to a stop at a barricade, crashed into a barricade about 20 yards beyond this fence behind me.

He then ran, according to witness accounts, and now according to more than one law enforcement source. We're hearing he ran very likely up the stairs where that police officer is coming down you see. He ran up the stairs, into that entrance, where just beyond that entrance at the top of the stairs is the Capitol rotunda.

Here is what an eyewitness, who was one of the construction workers, said about the incident as it occurred outside as he saw it.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JILLES RICHARDS, WITNESS: All of a sudden I looked to my left, and I just saw this white Chevy blazer just moving really fast. And I thought it was very unusual, and then there was a Capitol police car behind it.

And he had actually went over a wall and crashed into another wall and got out of the truck and started running. And by that time I had tried to take some cover. I thought that, you know, somebody was going to start shooting or something.

And by that time, it was like the capitol police were on him like ants. He ran up into the capitol, and they've got him now, from what I understand.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

TODD: Now, they may have been on him like ants, but they didn't get him until he was well, well into the building.

Now, we retraced the steps that we believe this man took, according to witness accounts and according to what we're told about the route key that he could have taken.

Producer Deidre Walsh and myself, just a little short time ago, went down a staircase that -- he had to have gone down at least one staircase, went through a good part of the building, very likely through the rotunda of the building, down one staircase. We went down that staircase, the same staircase that President Bush and leaders of Congress came down last Friday for their photo op, went towards what we believe is a police checkpoint.

But if he had gone straight, he likely would have been caught by police there. He was not caught until he was -- got to the flag office. And there is another hallway that we took. You can turn left before you get to that police checkpoint, go down this meandering hallway. And we stopped at the flag office where we are told by sources that he was caught. That is at the very other end of the -- the very opposite end of this building from the entrance that he went in on.

So, Kyra, we're asking a lot of questions right now. We hope to hear from the Capitol Hill police shortly, and they can tell us, hopefully, how this gentleman was able to get in. And again, we're told that he also had a small weapon in his hand, possibly a small caliber pistol and went all the way through the building and got to that point.

PHILLIPS: All right. We'll wait for that live news conference and try to get more as they investigate what happened. Brian Todd, appreciate it.

Tears have flowed, stories have been told, many with punchlines supplied by the subject herself. Now comes the eulogies. A public memorial is getting under way right now at the University of Texas, Austin, for former Texas governor, Ann Richards, who died last week of throat cancer.

Scheduled speakers include New York Senator Hillary Clinton and syndicated gossip columnist Liz Smith. Aside from her style and wit, as you know, Richards is being remembered for opening Texas government to women and minorities.

President Bush, who quashed Richard's hopes for re-election in 1994, calls her one of the Lone Star State's great daughters. She was 73 years old.

The trouble with spinach. More warnings go out as more cases of E. coli turn up. What you need to know before you eat your greens. We're checking it all right here on the NEWSROOM.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK) PHILLIPS: Maurice Clarett is going to prison. The former Ohio State football star agreed today to serve at least three and a half years behind bars to settle two cases against him. The deal comes as Clarett was set to stand trial on an aggravated robbery charge. It also covers a concealed weapons charge that arose in the wake of a vehicle chase involving police.

Well, more red alerts about your greens, as more people are sickened by E. coli bacteria linked to fresh spinach. CNN's Dr. Sanjay Gupta has details on the latest warnings from the Food and Drug Administration.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

DR. SANJAY GUPTA, CNN CORRESPONDENT: The FDA is pointing to a significant outbreak, the numbers increasing over the weekend: 109 cases now of E. coli infections in people who ate spinach, 19 states now affected. A 77-year-old woman has died in Wisconsin. There's also unconfirmed reports that a 23-month-old toddler may have also succumbed to an infection by the E. coli bacteria.

FDA officials also acknowledge that, because many state departments were closed over the weekend, the numbers may increase substantially today, Monday, as people -- as those cases start to roll in.

The FDA also expanding its warning. As you may remember, it was just fresh bagged spinach, fresh packaged spinach. Now it's all spinach, including spinach in salad mixes as well.

I want to explain something about how this investigation takes place. What the FDA specifically is looking for is the DNA match, a DNA between the E. coli that got people sick and E. coli on specific spinach. They have not found that yet, prompting the company, Natural Selections, which is at the heart of its investigation, to release this statement.

"Based on our work with the U.S. FDA and the California Department of Health Services, we have confirmed that no organic products of any kind, including Earthbound Farm spinach or other products, have been linked to the outbreak at this time."

Now still, there is a voluntary recall in place to try to take that product off the shelves.

If you have been watching this coverage, you ate spinach and you are confirmed that you, in fact, might have an E. coli infection, some of the things to look out for include diarrhea, vomiting, anemia, which you can't really look for but you just might be pale, and have kidney failure.

Also, many of you might be wondering why don't they simply take all this product off the shelves? I had a chance to ask a spokesman from the FDA that same question. Here's how he responded.

DR. ROBERT BRACETT, FDA: The FDA does not have the authority to just mandate that something is withdrawn. What we do is work with the companies and ask them to withdraw or have a recall, and that's what's happened in this case, as well.

But the second thing is you have to know what to withdraw from the market. That is, what to have a recall about. At this point, our knowledge of specifically where the product is actually originating or where the contamination is occurring is still unknown to us.

GUPTA: And this investigation is likely to take several more days, if not weeks.

I should point out that this particular strain of E. coli does appear to be a very serious one, a very severe one. Out of the 109 cases, about half of those people are hospitalized, and 16 of them have a very serious complication called hemolytic uremic syndrome. That can cause kidney failure and, in rare cases, it can cause death, as well.

This is a story that we're going to be keeping up with. We'll keep you posted as details come in.

Dr. Sanjay Gupta, CNN, reporting.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

PHILLIPS: Well, things have calmed down on board the International Space Station, but earlier a very different scene. Why NASA had to declare a spacecraft emergency for only the second time in the station's history. Details coming up.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

PHILLIPS: This just in to CNN. We're getting reports of a suicide bomber detonating his explosive vest in a market in the northern Iraqi city of Tal Afar, killing 17 people, wounding 18 other. Tal Afar is about 45 miles just west of Mosul.

It was just hours earlier today that a suicide car bomber attacked a police station in Ramadi, west of Baghdad, killing two police officers and wounding 26 Iraqi security forces. The violence continues in Iraq as that country continues to struggle with democracy.

Well, now to business news. The video site YouTube has become hugely popular, and now it's now making a deal with one of the world's biggest music companies.

Cheryl Casone joins me now live from the New York Stock Exchange with all the details.

Hey, Cheryl.

CHERYL CASONE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Hey, there, Kyra.

Yes, they are moving on up. That is for sure. Warner Music has agreed to transfer thousands of its videos and interviews to YouTube. That will allow the millions of people who upload and watch homemade videos on the site to legally listen to Warner's copyrighted music.

The move is a huge deal for YouTube, which has been trying to make inroads into the entertainment industry. Warner Music's artists include Green Day and Linkin Park, as well as Ray Charles, Led Zeppelin and Faith Hill.

YouTube will have to pay Warner Music for the right to post its content, but the terms of deal were not disclosed, only that it's a mutually beneficial agreement -- Kyra.

PHILLIPS: Well, haven't the record labels threatened to sue YouTube in the past?

CASONE: They certainly have. Universal Music Group said it was prepared to sue the company a few days ago, actually, unless YouTube does a better job of preventing copyright violations.

That's an issue for the site, because you know, many of its most popular videos include copyrighted music. People are just making videos off their computers at home, remember.

But there are signs that other record labels see the benefits of posting their material. Capital Records, other companies have been experimenting with releasing some of their videos on YouTube.

And you know, on the television front, it's really an interesting site, because NBC is already using the site to promote its fall programming, as well -- Kyra.

PHILLIPS: All right. Let's talk about what's happening on Wall Street.

(STOCK REPORT)

PHILLIP: Flashing smoke alarms, a nasty odor, scary under any circumstances, but when they happen on the International Space Station, well, there's potential for disaster.

CNN technology correspondent Daniel Sieberg joins me now with some very tense moments today, 220 miles above Earth.

What happened?

DANIEL SIEBERG, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, it was a bit of a scare, and fortunately, that's all it turned out to be. But this started a little after 7 a.m. Eastern Time.

The astronauts up on board there at the International Space Station, they reported initially seeing some smoke, smelling something that was -- sort of smelled sort of hazardous, or almost like a chemical. It turned out it wasn't smoke. It was actually a vapor coming from this chemical reaction, or something that was happening up there, some spilled chemicals.

They did don some safety gear at the time, just as a precaution. Some gloves, some masks were available to them.

The problem was the source -- you can see this picture right here. This is an oxygen generator called the electron. And what they believe was some potassium hydroxide had somehow been released from that. It was reacting with some of the gaskets that are part of it there and causing this noxious odor to go through the International Space Station.

So, over a short period of time, everything sort of got back up and running again. The astronauts were performing their tasks. There you can see U.S. astronaut Jeff Williams. So, it didn't take long for them to assess this problem. They have since sort of contained it, this chemical spill. And it's going to be OK from here on out. It takes about 36 hours for them to cycle through, get some clean air going through the space station again.

PHILLIPS: You know what one of the most amazing things about astronauts is? You've interviewed a number of them. So have I.

SIEBERG: Yes.

PHILLIPS: Is -- is not only what they do in space but how they trouble shoot when something goes wrong.

SIEBERG: Right. They're...

PHILLIPS: They have to be just as good at that, if not better...

SIEBERG: Exactly.

PHILLIPS: ... then what the mission is.

SIEBERG: Right. There are all these back-up plans and procedures that are in place. They have had a case at the International Space Station before where they were concerned about something up there, smoke or fire. And of course, you know, up at that altitude, obviously, in those confines, they have to be concerned about everything.

PHILLIPS: So what did the crew do today?

SIEBERG: Well, the crew of the -- of Atlantis has actually got a fairly quiet day by comparison. But earlier today they were doing some of the final inspections on the -- on Atlantis. You can see the orbiting arm there that they're using to look for any sort of micro- meteorites that may have hit the leading edge of the wing or the nose cap.

This is a financial inspection procedure they do before they get the official clear to land, which would happen Wednesday morning. We'll, of course, be down there at Kennedy Space Center, their preferred landing site. That would be Wednesday just before 6 a.m. Right now they don't have any concerns about any sort of launch debris or anything like that. It's strictly looking for this type of micro-meteorite. And this is a very standard thing that they do.

Of course, the highlight for this mission just happened a few days ago. These were these massive solar arrays that were unfurled. These are going to provide another quarter of the power for the International Space Station.

All went fairly well, NASA very happy with this mission. A couple of dropped bolts here and there but nothing serious. And they're very happy with the way things have been going so far.

PHILLIPS: Can you imagine the dinner party? What do you do for a living? "I look for micro-meteorites."

SIEBERG: Right.

PHILLIPS: "What do you do?"

SIEBERG: Yes. It sounds like a small job but pretty big ramifications.

PHILLIPS: Yes, it is. All right. We'll keep following it. Thanks, Daniel Sieberg.

SIEBERG: Sure.

PHILLIPS: Well, midterms are getting closer. Have you been studying your candidates? Virginia voters have had a chance to do that right now as incumbent Republican Senator George Allen debates Democratic challenger Jim Webb. One of the hottest topics here and elsewhere around the country is President Bush's proposal on the Geneva Conventions and prisoner interrogation.

Well, when he wowed them in Kenya, visiting his father's birthplace, no one was that surprised, but now Illinois Senator Barack Obama is getting the rock star treatment at home, and not just in his homestate. Since he's not up for re-election until 2010, People are starting to talk. CNN's Dana Bash on the rising tide of Obama mania.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

DANA BASH, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): For hungry Democrats, a day to sample their new possibilities. The crushing crowd At this annual Iowa steak fry devouring Barack Obama. Rock star treatment for a 45-year-old senator in office just two years, 97 of 100 in Senate seniority.

A phenomenon not lost on the host, Senator Tom Harkin.

SEN. TOM HARKIN (D), IOWA: I said we tried to get Bono to be here, but we couldn't, so we got the next biggest rock star i America, Barack Obama.

BASH: A trip to Iowa, home of the kickoff caucuses usually means you're dipping a toe in the presidential waters.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I hope that you'll be running for president one of these times.

SEN. BARACK OBAMA (D), ILLINOIS: I appreciate that.

BASH: Here there are T-shirts and petitions, begging him to run in '08. He doesn't say yes, but he doesn't say no.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Can we recruit you to run for president?

OBAMA: Well, I don't know about that. But I'm here to make sure -- you can recruit me to make sure we get more Democrats in office in '06.

BASH: Obama has visited 25 states raising money for candidates this year. He urges Democrats to be tougher on national security, and scolds the Bush White House.

OBAMA: Tough talk doesn't make you tough, that alienating our allies isn't our strategy, that junking the Geneva Convention so that Colin Powell, and John McCain John warner have to stand up and say enough, that's not being tough on terrorism!

(APPLAUSE)

BASH: One thing they like is his definition of Democrat.

OBAMA: We don't want government to solve our problems, but what we do expect is that government can help. The government can make a difference in all of our lives.

O'BRIEN: Obama appears well aware celebrity guarantees crowds, but not necessarily lasting success.

OBAMA: When I look at sort of how I'm covered, there's a lot of emphasis on the celebrity and the sizzle.

BASH: If he keeps coming back, there will be more questions about substance, from ethanol to Iraq to that senator named Clinton. But this was a day to say hello, flip a few steaks and just enjoy the sizzle.

Dana Bash, CNN, Indianola, Iowa.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

BASH: Political royalty and Hollywood. The two worlds merged in the life of Patricia Kennedy Lawford, the sixth of nine children of Joe and Rose Kennedy, ex-wife of the late Peter Lawford. Kennedy Lawford died yesterday at 82 of complications from pneumonia. Today her brother, Ted, said everybody who knew Pat adored her.

CNN's Carol Costello looks back.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE) CAROL COSTELLO, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): She was the sixth child in a family of nine. The family's name? Kennedy. Patricia Kennedy Lawford was always around politics, if not in it. She helped her big brother John make his way to the White House and younger brother Bobby to the Senate.

Her little brother Edward, now the senior senator from Massachusetts, said of her: "Pat is irreplaceable" and noted her great style, her love and support of the arts, her wit and generosity and the sense of wonder and joy she brought to the Kennedy family.

But it wasn't politics which drove this Kennedy, it was show business and the arts. Soon after graduating Rosemount College in Pennsylvania, she left for Hollywood.

She fell in love with an actor, Peter Lawford. They married in 1954 and had four children before divorcing in the mid-'60s. Then she moved back East, to New York, where she founded the National Committee for the Literary Arts.

The family said in a statement: "Whether it was campaigning for her brothers or championing literacy and the arts, her purest gift was her beautiful heart."

(END VIDEOTAPE)

PHILLIPS: Patricia Kennedy Lawford is survived by her brother, Ted, sisters Eunice Kennedy Shriver and Jean Kennedy Smith, four children and 10 grandchildren. Severe storms leave a path of destruction. And where is the tropical weather headed next? Stick around. Reynolds Wolf joins me from the NEWSROOM.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

PHILLIPS: Minnesota after a twister. The National Weather Service says an F-2 tornado with winds as high as 157 miles an hour swept over the town of Rogers Saturday might. A 10-year-old girl was killed when the house collapsed. Hundreds of other homes were damaged. This is a funnel cloud that also formed Saturday in Minihaya (ph) Country, South Dakota. One of several twisters in that state, some farms were damaged. And a severe storm is captured by video by a CNN-I reporter, Choko Davanita (ph) in Marshall, Minnesota. He and some friends darted into a store for shelter.

Well, if you've got video like this, or a picture, go to CNN.com, send in an I-Report and join the world's most powerful news team.

Washed out roads, flooded community, at least three reported deaths, that's the scene across northwest New Mexico in the wake of Hurricane Lane. The category-three hurricane hit Saturday before weakening and moving east. Lane's remnants are moving into the Gulf of Mexico after bringing rain to Texas.

(WEATHER REPORT)

PHILLIPS: Whether in the Gulf War and peace over seas, the onset of fall and midterm elections all factors real or imagined in the sudden drop in gasoline prices, which benefits almost everybody and may hold special rewards for certain members of Congress. Here's CNN's senior political analyst Bill Schneider.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

WILLIAM SCHNEIDER, CNN SR. POLITICAL ANALYST: On September 15th, gasoline suppliers switched from the summer mix to the lower cost winter mix. But it may not make much difference because gasoline prices have already fallen at least 36 cents a gallon, or 12 percent, since they reached the peak in July. That's good news for Republicans if only because it could reduce voter anxiety.

GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I've always felt the economy is a determinate issuer -- it's not the determinate issue in campaigns. We've had a little history of that in our family.

SCHNEIDER: You can see voter concern dropping in the polls. In July, 41 percent of voters said gas prices and energy costs were the most important economic issue facing the country. That number has dropped to 26 percent.

What's driving gas prices down? Industry sources cite a lot of reasons, including higher fuel inventories, a so far mild hurricane season, the truce between Israel and Lebanon. But this oil industry critic believes that what drove prices up was speculation. And a report from a bipartisan congressional investigation may be having an impact.

TYSON SLOCUM, PUBLIC CITIZEN: I think that that sent a signal to these speculators that they had better pull back a little bit. And I think that's what we're seeing.

SCHNEIDER: The dropping prices may last just a couple of months. Long enough to get through the November election.

Could that be what the oil companies want?

SLOCUM: Eight-one percent of their money goes to members of the Republican Party. I cannot say for sure whether or not they are influencing prices to assure that outcome. But it is, I think, more than just a coincidence that we're seeing an easing of prices at a time of running up to a very, very important election.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

PHILLIPS: Well, is thin no longer in?

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Can't be on skinny people just because that's the way they are. It's kind of like telling fat people to lose weight.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

PHILLIPS: Bony gets the boot. Runway models in Spain told to fatten up or get out. That's all ahead from the NEWSROOM.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

PHILLIPS: Well we doubt being too rich will ever go out of style, but it may be possible even in the world of couture to be too thin. Last week models who tend to disappear when they turn sideways were told to disappear altogether from fashion shows in Madrid. And that's what raised eyebrows as far away as New York. Jeanne Moos has the skinny.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

JEANNE MOOS, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): If you've always thought models are too skinny.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I'm 123 pounds at 5' 9 1/2" and I said it's all right here.

MOOS: Pinch yourself, it's too good to be true. In Spain, they have banned skinny models.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I love that.

MOOS: The news has models everywhere weighing in. Can I weigh you? Can we get you to step on the scale?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yeah, should I take off my boots?

MOOS: Take off your boots, take off your top. The thing not to take off is more pounds.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I think I should go to Spain, I think I would make the cut. I think I would be all right.

MOOS: I don't think you would be all right. I don't think you would be allowed to model in Spain.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: There you go.

MOOS: Out of concern that seeing skinny models encourages young girls to lose too much weight, city run fashion shows in Madrid ban models with a body mass index below 18. For instance, someone who is 5'9" must weigh at least 122 pounds or they're out. So even though this model at the (INAUDIBLE) show in New York had a McDonald's egg and bacon sandwich with cheese for breakfast, at 113 pounds, she's underweight. You're too skinny.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It's McDonald's three times a day instead of one time.

MOOS: The head of the Elite model agency is crying foul.

CATHY GOULD, DIR., ELITE MODEL MGMT: It's discrimination against models that are naturally thin and gazelle like.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You can't ban skinny people just because that's the way they are. It's like telling fat people to lose weight.

MOOS: Still several of the models we interviewed admitted to having been anorexic or bulimic at some point.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: There are girls on the runway right now that should be in hospitals.

MOOS: The ban is the talk of the modeling world. So far it's confined to Spain. Ribs, hip bones. After weighing model after model. She's out. You're banned in Spain. I tell you, you're all in trouble. One girl finally weighed in above the cut-off at 133. She turned over the scale to hide the evidence. The scales, a sort of model magnet in the.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I'm two pounds under.

MOOS: You're out!

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Oh, no, I'm out.

MOOS: So now what do you think of the ban?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I'm just going to get some more cake.

MOOS: Did she say cake? Look what they're feeding them how much granola does it take to make a model gain two pounds. Jeanne Moos, CNN, New York.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

PHILLIPS: Well, imagine this. Louisiana state trooper -- actually, the police criminal interdiction unit -- stopped a tour bus today because it smelled a little bit like marijuana. I guess the trooper said a pretty strong odor of marijuana. The next thing you knew they recovered approximately one-and-a-half pounds of marijuana and approximately two tenths of a pound of mushrooms located on the bus. Whose tour bus was it? Our man Willie Nelson. Not the first time he's been arrested for this. Just about now you can cue to the Toby Keith CD, play the song "Weed with Willie," take it from there.

Well, coming up, protesters returned to the streets today, demanding a full apology from the pope. Will it happen? Could it happen? I'll talk with faith and values correspondent Delia Gallagher in the next hour of CNN NEWSROOM.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

PHILLIPS: As war zones go, it's been relatively quiet in Iraq today, but that wasn't the case over the weekend. Back to back blasts killed dozens of people.

CNN's Cal Perry wraps up a week of bloodshed in Iraq.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

CAL PERRY, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The week here in Iraq ended just as it began, with the two major concerns for authorities, insurgent and sectarian attacks, taking their bloody toll.

Sunday brought a series of car bomb attacks to the oil-rich northern city of Kirkuk. Four bombs in less than three hours kill at least 23 and wound some 66 others. The week began Monday with a suicide attack on the Al Mathana (ph) Airfield. Thirteen dead here, all Iraqi army recruits.

Tuesday brought the grim discovery of over 60 bodies. The stunning total for the week, more than 180 bodies found, all showing the signs of sectarian violence, according to police.

Wednesday, back to the Al Mathana Air Base for another insurgent attack, plus a car bomb and a roadside bomb kill more than 20 and wound more than 80.

Thursday, it was the American military that was hit hard. An insurgent blows up a truck outside a fixed position of the Fourth Infantry Division in Baghdad. Two dead, one missing, 25 wounded.

Friday, two more U.S. troops die. One in the Al Anbar province, another south of Baghdad from a roadside bomb. And on Saturday, two separate explosions kill three, leaving more than 25 wounded in the capital.

(on camera): The situation so dire in fact that earlier this week the interior ministry floated an idea the dig trenches around Baghdad, part of the overall security plan for the capital, the idea, limit entry points into the city from the countryside, a move many see here as dramatic but perhaps necessary due to the current level of violence.

Cal Perry, CNN, Baghdad.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

PHILLIPS: The face of sacrifice in Afghanistan. A U.S. Army reservist is being remembered not only for her death at 52, but what she did in life.

CNN's Dan Simon has her story.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

SGT. 1ST CLASS MEREDITH HOWARD, U.S. ARMY: I'm Sergeant 1st Class Meredith Howard.

DAN SIMON, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Meredith Howard didn't have a choice about going to Afghanistan. Her reserve unit called into action. But she embraced it because of the difference she saw she was making in people's lives.

(on camera): Howard had a home in Wisconsin, as well as here in the San Francisco Bay Area. Before her deployment, she and her boyfriend of 15 years decided at last to get married. It seemed they realized she was going to a place of extreme danger. And in the event of her death, he wanted to be sure the Army would allow him to have a say in all of her final arrangements.

(voice-over): On the ground, for five months, Howard seemed proud of her work and the connection she felt with the Afghan people.

HOWARD: We have a good relationship with the people here in the village and, of course, as everybody in Afghanistan they are in need.

SIMON: This interview done in May by an Army camera crew showing the U.S. military's efforts to put Afghanistan back together. Howard was part of a unit helping to rebuild the country's roads, schools, and water systems.

HOWARD: The very basic things that we in America take for granted all of the time.

SIMON: And make life better for children.

HOWARD: We wanted to do a humanitarian drop here so we can help the kids out. We're giving them some backpacks for school. Most the kids are in school, even if it's just a few hours a day.

SIMON: And that brings us to 10:20 a.m. in Kabul last Friday. It was three days before the September 11 anniversary. Experts now say the massive car bomb that exploded near the U.S. embassy was the Taliban's way of saying it is still strong. Nine Afghan civilians and two U.S. soldiers were killed. In fact, the suicide bomber actually crashed into Meredith Howard's Humvee.

At 52, she became the oldest American female soldier to die in either Iraq or Afghanistan, and it happened just as her tour of duty was nearing its end. But perhaps it wasn't.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: She actually told me that she wanted to stay here. She was thinking about staying here an additional time.

SIMON: Command Sergeant Major Daniel Wood met her the day this footage was shot. He says he could tell she felt a real sense of purpose.

COMMAND SGT. MAJOR DANIEL WOOD, U.S. ARMY: When I asked her why she was here, her main comment was that she was here for the people of this land, and she realized that the only way this long war could be won is by interacting and engaging with the children of Afghanistan, as well as with the young adults and the women. SIMON: Meredith Howard, a woman who embraced her role and the people caught up in this unfinished war.

HOWARD: The people of Afghanistan are very warm and friendly people. And there are millions of children here, and I think this is the key to the future of Afghanistan.

SIMON: Dan Simon, CNN, San Francisco.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

PHILLIPS: Well, Sergeant First Class Meredith Howard just one of the 2,947 men and women who have sacrificed their lives in Iraq and Afghanistan.

TO ORDER A VIDEO OF THIS TRANSCRIPT, PLEASE CALL 800-CNN-NEWS OR USE OUR SECURE ONLINE ORDER FORM LOCATED AT www.fdch.com

Search
© 2007 Cable News Network.
A Time Warner Company. All Rights Reserved.
Terms under which this service is provided to you.
Read our privacy guidelines. Contact us. Site Map.
Offsite Icon External sites open in new window; not endorsed by CNN.com
Pipeline Icon Pay service with live and archived video. Learn more
Radio News Icon Download audio news  |  RSS Feed Add RSS headlines