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CNN NEWSROOM

Missouri Kidnappings; L.A. Terror Threat?; Unwilling Bomber; On The Run; Gerri's Top Tips

Aired January 18, 2007 - 10:00   ET

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


HEIDI COLLINS, CNN ANCHOR: Good morning, everyone. I'm Heidi Collins.
TONY HARRIS, CNN ANCHOR: And I'm Tony Harris. Spend a second hour in the NEWSROOM this morning and stay informed. Here's what's on the rundown.

An accused child kidnapper arraigned by video link this morning in Missouri. Investigators want to know Michael Devlin could be behind other abductions.

COLLINS: Big oil, big profits. Today House Democrats have their hands out. They want new taxes on the industry. Part of the 100-hour agenda.

HARRIS: And humorous, columnist, author. A Washington fixture, Art Buchwald, passes away. Remembering one of the greats. This Thursday, January 18th, you are in the NEWSROOM.

Before the judge. The latest development in the Missouri kidnappings case. Michael Devlin arraigned this morning via a video link. The latest from CNN's Keith Oppenheim.

Keith, good morning.

KEITH OPPENHEIM, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Good morning, Tony.

Arraignments are often very fast and this morning was no exception. Kidnapping suspect Michael Devlin, as you say, was arraigned remotely. He was in a room at the jail, the Franklin County Jail. And the judge in this case, Judge David Tobben, was here at the courthouse. He spoke to him through the remote TV system and formally Devlin was charged with one count of kidnapping. Of kidnapping 13- year-old Ben Ownby last week. And he faces a maximum penalty of life in prison.

We're going to listen a little bit to the exchange between Judge David Tobben and Devlin in terms of how Devlin would plead.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JUDGE DAVID TOBBEN, FRANKLIN COUNTY CIRCUIT COURT: Mr. Devlin, how do you wish to plead to this matter?

Mr. Devlin?

MICHAEL DEVLIN: I'm not guilty.

TOBBEN: OK.

I would propose to set this matter for hearing either on March the 8th or March the 15th.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: March the 15th, please, your honor.

TOBBEN: Is that acceptable to you, gentlemen?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I think it's acceptable, your honor, yes.

TOBBEN: We'll start at 10:30 on the morning of March 15th.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

OPPENHEIM: Now if you couldn't hear any aspects (ph) of that, the kidnapping suspect, Michael Devlin, pleaded not guilty. The judge set the next hearing date for March the 15th. And keep in mind that Michael Devlin is being kept in isolation for his safety at the Franklin County Jail. He also faces two additional charges in nearby Washington County, Tony, for the kidnapping of 15-year-old Shawn Hornbeck there. But the charges that he is facing here carry the greatest penalty, that of life in prison.

Tony.

HARRIS: And, Keith, remind us here, there is still a grand jury process that has to play out here.

OPPENHEIM: Right. And one might ask, why would a prosecutor want to go to a grand jury with a case, at least seemingly, that seems very strong, when prosecutors often use grand juries to build their case? Often, when you're talking about child abduction cases, a grand jury can be a convenient thing, at least for a prosecutor, in that he can prevent the witnesses, in this case Ben Ownby, from being exposed to the media, to the greater exposure that goes with a regular courtroom process and can build his case that way. The presumption, and it is that, is that this would lead to a plea. We don't know that for sure at this point, but one might just suspect that both sides would want a plea in this case because of the trauma that the boys could go through with a legal proceeding.

HARRIS: OK, Keith. CNN's Keith Oppenheim for us in Union, Missouri.

Keith, thank you.

COLLINS: An accident or a dry run for a terror attack? A mercury spill raising questions, especially about police response. Deborah Feyerick has this CNN exclusive report.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

DEBORAH FEYERICK, CNN CORRESPONDENT, (voice over): What do these pictures mean? Especially in a post-9/11 world when what appears ordinary may be the key to a future terror attack? This surveillance video, obtained exclusively by CNN, shows the Pershing Square subway station in Los Angeles late Friday before Christmas. A man in a brown jacket crouches on the platform and spills a silvery liquid from a small bottle.

An accident? Maybe. Except the liquid turns out to be mercury. About five flood ounces.

KEN ROBINSON, TERRORIST ANALYST: It doesn't make sense. The only thing that does make sense is to find him and interrogate him.

FEYERICK: The fact it doesn't make sense, is that what bothers you the most?

ROBINSON: Yes. Because he's got a heavy metal and he's taking it into a subway. There's no good reason to do that. None.

FEYERICK: Ken Robinson, a terrorism expert who worked intelligence in the Pentagon, has analyzed hundreds of al Qaeda tapes for CNN.

When you look at this incident, do you think in your mind that this is a dry run for a terror attack?

ROBINSON: I for sure think that it should be treated as if it is.

FEYERICK: Mercury, found in thermometers, is dangerous when swallowed, but spilling it would have no immediate, toxic effect. That's one reason the L.A. County Sheriff's Department, in charge of the investigation, believes the spill was likely an accident. Also, the man who spilled it place a call moments after from a call box alerting authorities.

STEVE WHITMORE, L.A. COUNTY SHERIFF'S DEPARTMENT: At this point, we are relatively confident it is not a credible threat.

FEYERICK: But a 2005 joint FBI and Department of Homeland Security intelligence bulletin warns terrorists may make calls to test police reactions. In the case of the spilled mercury, according to the hazmat cleanup report read to CNN, law enforcement did not respond for a full eight hours.

Pat D'Amuro, now a CNN analyst, was a top FBI counterterrorism agent. He says it's premature to rule out terror.

PAT D'AMURO, CNN SECURITY ANALYST: I'm not saying that in this video these individuals are terrorists, but there's some very strange activity that needs to be identified here.

FEYERICK: The sheriff, who oversees the investigation, sent out an alert to be on the lookout for a man described as "white or Middle Eastern," wanted in connection with a "possible act of terror." Four weeks later, the FBI in Los Angeles sent out its own bulletin saying the man is still wanted for questioning in connection with "unexplained activity." Deborah Feyerick, CNN, Los Angeles.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

COLLINS: Stay tuned to CNN day and night for the most reliable news about your security.

HARRIS: No doubt about it, friends, winter is here and it is hanging on for a while. Even in places where snow is seldom seen. Take a look at this. Malibu. Malibu, California. Yes, yes, yes, A fast moving storm dropped snow in the mountains and hail in the city. Residents grabbed their cameras, had a little fun taking pictures of a rare sight. Rare indeed. Snowing instead of surfing.

And snow and ice forced officials to close Interstate 5 north of Los Angeles. In Texas, the winter blast shut down the Alamo and a 300 mile stretch of Interstate 10 from Fort Stockton to San Antonio. And in hard hit Oklahoma, thousands of people still without power. The winter weather has been treacherous and deadly. At least 65 storm relate deaths have been reported in nine states since Friday.

COLLINS: Reynolds Wolf is here to explain it all.

What the heck is going on, Reynolds Wolf?

(WEATHER REPORT)

HARRIS: Tough talk from Iraq's prime minister about stopping the violence. But on the ground in Iraq today, more bombs, more bloodshed. More than half a dozen bombs ripped through Baghdad. We're told at least 24 people were killed, 67 wounded. In one attack, three bombs exploded within minutes of each other at a popular vegetable market. Two other attacks targeted a police station and an Iraqi police patrol.

In an interview published today, Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki said Iraqis could get a handle on the violence. He says his military could control security within three to six months, but that depends on getting more money and weapons from Washington.

COLLINS: Police say he was a victim, not a bomber. An Iraqi man forced on a suicide mission. CNN's Arwa Damon has the story.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

ARWA DAMON, CNN CORRESPONDENT, (voice over): Forty-two-year-old Kamal (ph) al-Khaqani was happily married with four children, trying like most here to avoid the violence. To just get through each day alive.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE, (through translator): We have nothing to do with politics or anything else.

DAMON: Then one day, like a thousand others, Kamal left to run errands and pick up breakfast for the family. "He got dressed at 7:00 and told me he would come back at 9:00," his mother says. "It was 10:00, 11:00," his wife says. "At 11:00, I started to feel nervous. They kept comforting me. At 2:00, I was pacing back and forth." At that point, Halud (ph) knew deep down that her husband of 12 years would not be coming back.

ADEL AL-KHAQANI, VICTIM'S BROTHER, (through translator): The next day someone came by and said a car similar to your brothers is in Alhadra (ph) neighborhood that it has been blown up.

DAMON: Kamal's final moment, pieced together by officers at the scene.

AL-KHAQANI: He told me, it looks like your poor brother was kidnapped.

DAMON: Kamal was released and set off in his own car. Police say he was probably told to drive toward their checkpoint. But they say he must have realized that his vehicle was rigged with explosives and that he was about to become an unwilling bomber.

It's a trend Iraqi and U.S. officials have been warning since July. They believe a number of suicide bombers are actually kidnapped civilians who's cars have been turned into bombs set off by remote control.

Some of the clues, hands tied to steering wheels. And families. Kamal's, who assist the driver was a victim, too, not an insurgent. And in Kamal's case, eyewitness evidence. He tried desperately to warn the people around him.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: They said he was screaming the whole time, I am booby-trapped. I am booby-trapped.

AL-KHAQANI: He didn't finish his words before the car blew up. We showed him his pictures and he said, yes, that's him.

DAMON: The explosion wounded one policeman. Kamal's shouted warnings may well have saved lives.

"Kamal is gone," his mother cries. "When my sons sit around, Kamal is not there. His absence has tortured me." "It's difficult," his wife says. "How are we going to live? Only God's mercy can keep us going. It's tough. We are four."

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Every time his little son starts to cry, I break down in tears.

DAMON: Eleven-year-old Zarat (ph) can't even speak. The youngest, one year old Sashad (ph), still runs around saying, daddy, too young to realize that daddy is never coming home.

Arwa Damon, CNN, Baghdad.

(END VIDEOTAPE) HARRIS: And still to come this morning, police say he stole a car and led them on a high speed chase. Yes, he's just nine years old. But that's not the end of the story. Find out what happened when he got to the airport.

COLLINS: Also threatening the tax man.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: If I'm killed or imprisoned or my wife is killed or imprisoned or both, those responsible will join us.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

COLLINS: Will a decade of delinquency end in a flurry of gunfire. That story ahead in the NEWSROOM.

HARRIS: And danger on the hoof. Look at this. Almost a ton of raw anger and a beef with a cowboy. One bull ride you don't want to miss. Well, maybe you do, in the NEWSROOM.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

COLLINS: Mom says her nine-year-old son just needs a role model. But instead of checking into the local big brother program, this boy went long distance. Here's CNN's Dan Simon.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

DAN SIMON, CNN CORRESPONDENT, (voice over): He's just a fourth grader, but somehow Washington state authorities say Semaj Booker figured out not only how to steal a car, but to drive one as well, leading police on a high-speed chase Sunday through the streets of Tacoma, Washington, and its nearby suburbs.

LT. DAVID GUTTU, LAKEWOOD, WASHINGTON, POLICE: Speeds up to 90 miles an hour. And over by the South Hill Mall, apparently he lost control or somehow and then the car started on fire.

SIMON: His mother told a Seattle television station, he's just a troubled young kid who needs a father figure.

SAKINAH BOOKER, MOTHER: He needs a male role model and he's really seeking it.

SIMON: Seeking it all the way to Texas, where the boy has family. You see, one day after the police chase, Semaj turned up at the Seattle Airport. Not only that, authorities say he got on a Southwest Airlines flight. The airline tells us he posed as somebody else to get their boarding pass. How the boy knew what name to use isn't clear.

BOOKER: I didn't help him get on a plane. I didn't give him any money to get on a plane.

SIMON: He flew on not one but two flights, from Seattle to Phoenix, then Phoenix to San Antonio. When he tried to get on a third flight to Dallas, airport police took him into custody. Obviously, there are a lot of unanswered questions. The airline tells CNN, "this is a highly unusual situation that is still being investigated."

As for how Semaj got past airport security, children don't need photo I.D., just a boarding pass, which he had. His mother says it's clear the boy needs some help.

BOOKER: We already got a plan that he was going to go stay with my sister in Illinois.

SIMON: For now, nine-year-old Semaj isn't going anywhere. He's charged with two serious crimes, car theft and evading police.

Dan Simon, CNN, San Francisco.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

HARRIS: Ready for this. Take a look at one of the toughest sports around. We're talking about professional bull rider. Myron Duarte doing -- oh, oh, oh -- well, he is -- well, he was, on top of Blue Duck (ph), a 1700 pound hunk of a real rage there. But despite the beating, the stomping that he took on Tuesday night in Denver, Duarte was back at the arena last night.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MYRON DUARTE, PROFESSIONAL BULL RIDER: He kept on spinning around on top of me just trying to hook me. He just knocked me out, you know, when he stepped on me. He stepped on the back of my head and wherever he stepped.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

HARRIS: Yes, no broken bones, but a couple of shiners, as you can see there. And, get this, his wife says she's seen him hurt a lot worst than that.

COLLINS: Ouch.

Gerri Willis, safely and comfortably in the studios of New York to talk more about what you'll have today.

GERRI WILLIS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes. Oh, my goodness.

COLLINS: Hey, Gerri.

WILLIS: Hey, good to see you, Heidi.

Well, we're talking about the winter weather. Even in Atlanta, it's bad, bad, bad and it's pretty harsh. We'll tell you how to protect your home. That's next on "Top Tips."

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

HARRIS: And a quick check of the big board. Wall Street. The New York Stock Exchange. Boy, stocks continuing their declines today. I almost sounded like a business person when I said that, stocks continuing their declines today. The Dow down 11. What about the Nasdaq? Wow, down 23. We will check all the numbers with Susan Lisovicz a little later this hour.

COLLINS: It seems like we've been talking about it for days, winter with a vengeance. For homeowners, that can mean toppled trees, burst pipes, damaged roofs. And roads, of course, can be even more dangerous. Here with tips now on protecting yourself and your interests, CNN personal finance editor Gerri Willis joining us from New York.

Boy, this is a very, very timely segment, isn't it?

WILLIS: Well, are you not worried? I'm worried. I've got to tell you, you have to know, Heidi, what's covered by your homeowners insurance. And it covers burst pipes, ice dams in your gutter. Ice dams are caused when ice forms in your home's eaves and water gets backed up behind the eaves and then leaks into your home.

Now if a tree hits your house because maybe it's heavy, the ice is loaded up on it, you are covered somewhat. You only get up to $500 for removing the tree. But if a tree falls in your backyard and it doesn't hit any structure, forget about it, you've got to pay for it on your own. And if a neighbor's tree damages your property, make sure to report it to your insurance company. In some cases, you may get your deductible back.

COLLINS: All these rules. Insurance should just pay. That's well . . .

WILLIS: Yes, it would be easier. I think you should run the universe, Heidi.

COLLINS: Yes.

So your pipes. What exactly can you do to protect your pipes so you don't have to deal with any of this in the first place?

WILLIS: Well, you definitely want to be thinking about pipes when it's very, very cold out. One thing you do, turn on the hot and cold faucets just a little bit so that water is constantly dripping. This keeps water moving and protects your pipes. You can also improve the circulation of heated air near your pipes by opening kitchen cabinet doors beneath your kitchen sink.

COLLINS: OK. So rock salt, not always the greatest idea. I mean if you live in an area that freezes all the time, you might be able to do better.

WILLIS: The devil's in the details here. If you live in colder areas prone to ice and heavy snowfall, you need the strong de-icer, calcium chloride. But if you live in a moderate climate, you're better off just stocking up on rock salt. Whatever you do, though, don't over salt. Both rock salt and calcium chloride can be corrosive to concrete that hasn't been mixed or finished properly. And to get the best results from these de-icers, you'll want to put it on the ground before the first flakes start to form.

COLLINS: And being a Minnesota girl a long, long time ago -- I'm very wimpy now but you've got to have things in your car. Because if you're going to go out and about, we've seen some video where people probably shouldn't have been driving, you want to be prepared inside. And you can also winterize your car, right?

WILLIS: You bet. Right. So as we've all seen, driving in the winter can take a serious toll on your car. A number one, check the tire pressure because lower temperatures cause a drop in the air pressure and that means you'll have less grip on the road. More dangerous. You should check the battery, too. Very cold temperatures can cut a car's battery power by up to 50 percent. And, of course, you'll want to stock up on supplies you keep in the car. And I'm talking here sand, kitty litter in case you get into a scrape and you're having a hard time moving your car, it can help.

COLLINS: Yes, Hershey bars and chocolate too.

WILLIS: Hershey bars?

COLLINS: Yes, Hershey bars and . . .

WILLIS: Does it take a lot of Hershey bars?

COLLINS: Well, it depends. It depends on how long you're going to be out and how hungry you are.

WILLIS: This gives me an excuse to carry Hershey bars.

COLLINS: Yes, exactly.

HARRIS: There you go. There you go.

COLLINS: This is my point.

All right. We also have "Open House" coming up this weekend. We want to hear what it's going to be about.

WILLIS: 9:30 a.m. Saturday morning, join us. We will take a closer look at the extreme weather. We even have a month long forecast for you. Conserving energy in your home by timing your activities. And we will also bring you the latest on mortgage fraud.

COLLINS: OK. We'll be watching all of that good information, as usual, on "Open House."

Gerri Willis, personal finance editor. Thank you.

WILLIS: Thank you, Heidi.

HARRIS: Still powerless in Oklahoma. Dozens find light and warmth at a church shelter. That story ahead in the NEWSROOM.

COLLINS: House Democrats see big money in big oil. The industry loses favor. Details in the NEWSROOM. HARRIS: Art Buchwald. "Dying is easy," he said, "it's parking that's impossible." Remembering the humorist, the columnist and a presidential critic in the NEWSROOM.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(NEWSBREAK)

HARRIS: Winter storm, Oklahoma still feeling the ill pact, thousands remain without power, some making do in shelters. Joining us now on the phone, Wayne Hicks, who is hosting dozens at a shelter at First Baptist in Mcalester. That area particularly hard hit.

Wayne, great to talk to you. Thanks for your time.

WAYNE HICKS, SHELTER VOLUNTEER: Thank you, Tony.

HARRIS: How many people are you caring for right now?

HICKS: Well, overnight, has shrunk a little bit. We just kept 30 last night. Our top here -- we have a small shelter. Our top was 47.

HARRIS: Forty-seven?

HICKS: The night that it got coldest. I can't really -- all my days have run together. I don't know for sure what day is what.

HARRIS: I can imagine.

I'm assuming you have everything you need? You have power, you have electricity correct?

HICKS: Yes, we got electricity the night before last, about 8:30 here at the church.

HARRIS: How has it been? Are we talking about -- I'm thinking about the families. Are we talking about individuals? Are we talking about families? Are we talking about kids that you're caring for?

HICKS: We have individuals. We have kids. We have families. About every spectrum has either been in this shelter or come through the shelter.

HARRIS: Who is this turning out to be toughest on?

HICKS: I believe the elderly that are hunkered down at home, and you know, they're finally getting so cold they have to come out.

HARRIS: Wayne, describe the situation. We see pictures, we're looking at some pictures now, but to be there on the ground, I mean, describe this storm and its impact on your community.

HICKS: Yes, it's just devastating. Well, as I was driving through yesterday, there was a scene in "Band of Brothers," where the artillery had been firing for four days in the Battle of the Bulge, and that's what our trees look like, we look like the Battle of the Bulge.

HARRIS: You mentioned it's tough on the elderly -- how about the children who had to spend time at the shelter?

HICKS: Well, they're doing pretty well. They're kind of entertaining themselves, playing a lot of little card games. We do have a VCR setup for them. They watch some movies from time to time, and they're really pretty well taking care of themselves.

HARRIS: Hey, Wayne, are you getting any indication when the town will be running again and electricity so folks can head back home?

HICKS: Yes. Well, I was in a meeting. I think we're to about three days now for the main trunk lines to come on. As -- if you are lucky enough to live close to a main trunk, the power is coming up. And then it's going to be three or four more days, up to six days, before they get all the little feeder lines taken care of.

HARRIS: Wayne, you're doing great work. I don't know how many people are helping you, but I would imagine you have a group of volunteers who are helping you, but you're doing great work to help those folks in your community. We appreciate your time this morning.

HICKS: Hey, thank you very much.

HARRIS: Sure thing. Sure thing.

(WEATHER REPORT)

COLLINS: The first 100 hours ticking away. And today the oil industry is in the crosshairs, House Democrats determined to recoup lost royalties and reduce subsidies.

Our Brianna Keilar following this fight from our Washington bureau now.

Brianna, do Democrats have the votes they need?

BRIANNA KEILAR, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Heidi, yes, they do. And I know you aren't really surprised by that. Because so far, House Democrats are five for five in the legislation they've taken up during their so-called first 100 hours. Now the bill they're taking up today would scrap some tax breaks for the oil industry and could make them pay fees on some drilling leases. That would free up an estimated $14 billion that Democrats want put into programs for alternative sources of energy.

This bill will pass with some Republican support, but not all. Many Republicans say they want an energy bill, but they don't want it rushed through the house. This has been the case with all of this legislation passed since last week. The bills have aimed to adopt some 9/11 commission recommendations, increase the minimum wage, allow federal funding for stem cell research, require the federal government to negotiate lower drug prices for seniors and decrease interest rates on student loans. Democrats picked these issues with broad popular appeal and bipartisan support to guarantee that they get through the house, but to get these bills out of the House quickly. Democrats have allowed debates, but no amendments. Many Republicans say this weakens the legislation coming out of the House, and that's why many say they voted no on some of these bills.

And what's more, Heidi, what you see going through the House on any of these bills is not what will end up on the president's desk to be signed into law.

Looking, for instance, at today's legislation, President Bush has consistently said he supports reducing the nation's dependence on foreign oil, but yesterday the White House issued a statement saying pretty much that he's just not a fan of this bill.

COLLINS: All right, 34 hours and 44 minutes, the longest 100 hours in history. Brianna, we appreciate it. Thank you.

HARRIS: The Bush Administration's domestic wiretap program under scrutiny on Capitol Hill this morning. Attorney General Alberto Gonzales appearing before the Senate Judiciary Committee.

His testimony comes a day after the Bush Administration announced it had reversed its position on the program. It has begun getting court approval before eavesdropping on terror suspects. The president previously said he didn't need court permission. Gonzalez was also asked about the government's access to citizens' mail.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

SEN. PAT LEAHY (D), VERMONT: Is the Bush Administration opening Americans private mail without a warrant, yes or no?

ALBERTO GONZALEZ, ATTORNEY GENERAL: Senator, the answer is no, but let me flesh out the answer. I mean, obviously, there may be instances where either the sender or the recipient may consent to a physical search, so that possibility may exist.

But to my knowledge, there is no physical search of mail ongoing under either the authority to use military force or the president's inherent authority under the constitution, except as otherwise authorized by statutes passed by the Congress.

For example, there are provisions in FISA, which would allow physical searches under certain circumstances.

LEAHY: I understand, you understand some of our concern because of the willingness and the, and we may disagree on this, but the willingness of the administration to ignore FISA in wiretaps. Are you saying that they're following FISA in mail openings?

GONZALEZ: What I am saying Senator is that to my knowledge, there is no ongoing physical searches of mail under the authority we've claimed under the authorization to use military force or under the president's inherent authority under the constitution. As far as I, no ...

LEAHY Not ongoing. Has there been some?

GONZALEZ: Not that I'm aware, no sir.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

HARRIS: Observers say a signing statement the president attached to postal legislation last month, may allow the government to open mail.

COLLINS: Michael Vick and his unusual water bottle. Police say it had a hidden compartment, quarterback question in the NEWSROOM.

SUSAN LISOVICZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT: I'm Susan Lisovicz at the New York Stock Exchange where we're watching shares of Apple plummet 5 percent despite record sales and record profits. I'll explain why when NEWSROOM continues. You're watching CNN, the most trusted name in news.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

COLLINS: The world is a less funny place today. Columnist Art Buckwald died quietly at his Washington home. The Pulitzer Prize winner was surrounded by is family. He was a (INAUDIBLE) writing a book about his failing kidneys and his decision to forego dialysis treatments.

He moved to a hospice almost one year ago and was expected to die within weeks. But instead, he spent that time completing what his son calls a victory lap. Neither Buchwald or his doctors could explain how he cheated death all this time. Art Buckwald was 81.

HARRIS: All right, listen up young people. Your parents may soon invade your space -- that's Myspace.com, the popular online hang- out for young people.

The company is developing software to help parents track what their kids are doing on the website. It will provide user names, ages, and locations listed by their children on Myspace. There's been some growing concern about the threat of predators going after kids on Myspace. The software called zephyr (ph) will be available this summer.

(BUSINESS HEADLINES)

COLLINS: No trespassing, a warning for the IRS.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He doesn't like paying taxes and I think he should be able to keep his money.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

COLLINS: The tax man cometh, a New Hampshire couple hideth. Live free or die in the NEWSROOM.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

HARRIS: Did you hear this story today? Atlanta Falcons quarterback, Michael Vick, may be, we repeat, may be in some trouble. Police say Vick was reluctant to give up a water bottle while going through a screening at Miami International Airport.

So, a screener checked the bottle after Vick tossed it in the can. She noticed the label concealed a seam. A hidden compartment revealed some dark residue. Police say it smelled like marijuana. No charges have been filed, but police say the residue will be analyzed. No comment from the Falcons or the NFL.

COLLINS: Live free or die -- New Hampshire's motto. Maybe taken a little too literally by one resident.

Kris Neilsen of affiliate WMUR explains.

KRIS NEILSEN, WMUR REPORTER: A sign marks the entrance to the Browns' Plainfield property urging the Feds to leave the couple alone. A handful of supporters came here Wednesday to join their fight against Federal taxes.

RUSSELL KANNING KEENE, ED BROWN SUPPORTER: I side with the Ed Brown and not the Feds. That's the basic theme. He doesn't like paying taxes and I think he should be able to keep his money.

KAT KANNING KEENE, ED BROWN SUPPORTER: I believe what he's saying is right, that there's no law that we have to pay income taxes.

NEILSEN: Ed and Elaine Brown have refused to pay Federal taxes for the past 10 years, saying the law does not require them to. Brown invited us into his home last year when he was first charged with the tax evasion crimes.

Prosecutors call the home a fortress. The home sits on 110 acres and is powered by solar and wind energy. Brown preferred to keep his distance as he spoke with us, threatening action if the government comes.

ED BROWN, REFUSES TO PAY TAXES: What for? We have sheriffs from around the country calling them up around the country and telling them to stand down and we have other police officers and stuff calling them up from around the country.

NEILSEN: At this point, Federal officials say there is an open line of communication with Brown.

STEPHEN MONIER, U.S. MARSHALL: We're going to keep that dialogue going with him. And we're not going to have any kind of situation we create a confrontation with Mr. Brown.

NEILSEN: Brown says he was recently court ordered to remove his weapons from the property but is still prepared to defend himself and says he has support coming from around the country. BROWN: If I should be killed or imprisoned or my wife is killed or imprisoned or both, those responsible will join us.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

COLLINS: While Ed Brown is holed up at home, his wife is attending trial on tax evasion charges. Deliberations are underway.

HARRIS: Molly Mercer Lynch is a proud graduate of the University of Alabama. Big deal, you say huh? Well, listen to this.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The requirements for a degree but just never applied for the degree.

Here is your degree.

MOLLY LYNCH, 90-YEAR-OLD COLLEGE GRADUATE: Thank you very much.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

HARRIS: How about that? Lynch is 90 years old. She dropped out of school in 1938 after she got malaria. The thing is she didn't know at the time she had already earned enough credits for a degree in education. So, finally, she's given a diploma and medallion and word is she is quite proud.

COLLINS: Domestic spying, eavesdropping on suspected terrorists, now with court approval. The attorney general explains the administration's change of course in the NEWSROOM.

HARRIS: Waiting on a train or practicing a terror attack, what this man dropped on a subway platform and how authorities responded. That's ahead in the NEWSROOM.

COLLINS: Trouble, trouble on the coasts. Ice and snow put drivers in a tailspin on I-85 in the east and Interstate 5 out West. Road to pretty much nowhere in the NEWSROOM.

VERONICA DE LA CRUZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT: As the snow an ice storm continues to move east, more than 300,000 people are left without power.

But many of you, our I-reporters still have the energy to send us a few of your snapshots and video of how the storm is affecting your area. You can get more at CNN.com.

Check out this video shot by Trisha Gant in Austin Texas. Those are sheets of ice falling from the roof of her neighbor's house. This gallery has a few of the latest I-report pictures.

Shawn Kelly sent us this one of ice, thick powerlines that fell on a trailer park in Springfield, Illinois. This interesting image is actually a chain linked fence covered with icicles, taken by Scott Wellsly in Missouri. As the storm approaches the East Coast, this gallery has several tips on what you can do to protect yourself, your home, and pets from the bitter cold winter.

You can get all those tips and check out all the pictures online at CNN.com/exchange. For the dotcom desk, I'm Veronica de la Cruz.

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