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CNN NEWSROOM

Wildfires Continue to Burn; Searching Iraq for Missing Soldiers

Aired May 13, 2007 - 16:00   ET

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


FREDRICKA WHITFIELD, CNN ANCHOR: Where there's smoke there is fire. And there's a lot of both in Florida and Georgia again today. We'll get a live update on that massive wildfire straight ahead.
Also a 91-year-old war veteran is brutally beaten. The attack caught on camera, right there.

Plus -- what's killing the honey bees? We've got the buzz on this entomological mystery straight ahead.

Hello, everyone. I'm Fredricka Whitfield, and you're in THE NEWSROOM.

Another miserable day in northern Florida especially for interstate motorists. Smoke from dozens of wildfires has again forced the closure of part of Interstate 75 and a strip of Interstate 10. Scores of homes between I-10 and the Georgia border also remain evacuated.

Fires and smoke also plaguing southern Florida in Broward and Miami- Dade Counties. Hundreds of birds have died after losing their way in the haze flying into windows.

And right now, I think we're going to let you know that there's a press conference under way in Florida. And as soon as that happens about the update of the wildfire there, we'll be able to bring that to you live.

Meantime, let's go to John Zarrella who is in Lake City, where with many of the highways closed there, it's got to be a real traffic nightmare in and around the Lake City area, John.

JOHN ZARRELLA, CNN CORRESPONDENT: That's right, Fredricka. Highway 90 which is an east/west route was absolutely jam-packed yesterday. And I'm sure it's still pretty crowded again today. The Interstate 75 and I-10 periodic closures throughout the day as the smoke comes and goes. You can see the haze and the smoke behind me and that's Interstate 10 just behind me there.

Now some updates on numbers that we've got today. This fire here, north of Lake City, has burned, consumed 102,000 acres. Now within the state of Florida, this is by far, right now, the worst of the fires. But there are 218 active fires in the state. And in all, they have burned 190,000 acres.

Now the concern here is that the changing weather conditions could move this fire back into a more active position. It's been pretty docile the past couple of days. The wind had laid down, the humidity had gone up, giving the firefighters a good opportunity to fight it. But now they're expecting the winds to start kicking up again.

We had an opportunity to spend a couple of hours this afternoon -- in fact, we just got back. We're out with the Division of Forestry folks. Out where they are out on the front lines, trying to keep this fire at bay. And what they're fighting with and dealing with now are spot fires that keep popping up in the stands of the pine trees out there. As the wind picks up, the flames start to pick up.

The hope is that what they can do is, these fires will burn right up against some of the fire lines that they've built and then that will be the end of it. But if the wind really kicks up, the concern is that it's going to move over. And these flames, the embers will jump from the fire line to the next stand of trees.

They've got a lot of heavy equipment out there today. Bulldozers. They're moving in more bulldozers and they are even calling in more heavy equipment. Some of it coming as far away of Texas. To get it in here to start reinforcing the fire lines. To keep these fires from spreading. To keep them from moving and jumping those fire lines.

The next 24 hours, they say, are going to be critical to see if they can keep this fire from jumping those fire lines. I keep repeating that, but that's what they're telling us. The next 24 hours really critical. Hoping for some rain this afternoon. Thought we might get that, but hasn't materialized yet. Fredricka?

WHITFIELD: All right, John Zarrella, thanks so much. In Lake City, Florida.

Well, besides those fires in the South, we need to bring you up to date on wildfires burning in other parts the country. California and Minnesota, namely. Gusty winds could cause trouble today in Minnesota, where firefighters had reported some progress in a battle near the border with Canada.

The fire has already burned more than 80 square miles and a number of residents were warned today to be ready to go in case of evacuations.

And then in California, the Catalina blaze has been confined to the island's interior away from populated areas. Several thousand evacuees have begun to return home and firefighters expect to have it contained by Tuesday.

Let's check in with Jacqui Jeras in the severe weather center. And so, rain could bring, I guess a mixed blessing in Florida. Certainly they need the relief, but at the same time, it could also mean lightning strikes.

JACQUI JERAS, CNN METEOROLOGISY: Absolutely, and it's also going to mean a shift in the wind. We have got what we call a backdoor cold front which is dropping through the region. It's a pretty weak one. It's still way up here in the southern Georgia and that's helping trigger the showers and thunderstorms. Unfortunately, they're still south of the fire areas and they're dumping some pretty heavy rain and also some hail to go along with it. In the meantime we're looking at still the very dense smoke and where you see the foggy area here, that's where dense smoke advisories are in effect for yet another hour I believe. And they're expecting with the winds kicking up a little bit this afternoon, that will help with some of the mixing in the atmosphere and help get on the visibility just a little bit better in this region.

But as that front continues to push southward, we think over the next 12 to 24 hours, winds are going to begin to push in from the east. They've been predominantly north to northeasterly winds. And with the stronger easterly wind that could change the direction of the fire potentially a bit. Also as high pressure drops in, that is going to drop the humidity levels. And the winds are going to be a little stronger tomorrow, between 10 and 15 miles per hour. So that will be a concern with those changes here in the forecast by tomorrow.

As for the fires still burning into the Arrowhead of Minnesota, we were hoping to get a little bit more of wet weather there. Unfortunately, that's not happening today. And the winds are kicking out there as well. Fred.

WHITFIELD: All right, Jacqui, thanks so much.

Meantime, let's get an update on the situation in terms of the firefighting tactics going on in Florida. Let's listen to this press conference taking place right now.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: ... this evening. We've been working really close with the different landowners involved. The U.S. Forest Service. Going on up into Rainier, the Forestry Company and the Langdale (ph) Company. All of our crews, the Division of Forestry crews have been tied in with the different agencies and we've all been working together. Certainly couldn't have worked on this fire and made as much progress without all of the help from the different agencies. Particularly the volunteers in different fire departments, the city and the county really helped out with the structural protection also.

So work down through this area right here. This evening, yesterday, and this evening -- we're working, coming up this side tonight. Any questions?

QUESTION: Can you talk about -- I mean obviously the good benefit of the thunderstorm, the rain hasn't come, has there been any lightning (inaudible)?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Any lightning?

QUESTION: Yeah.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Well, we'd sure like to get some rain, but along with that rain usually comes lightning. If we don't get widespread showers. So we hadn't had any lightning in this area yet but we have been watching the radar all afternoon. It looks like there are some thunderstorms to the south of us.

QUESTION: Any hope they come in play? WHITFIELD: All right, you've been listening to officials in Florida concerned a bit about the rain that is in the forecast because of the potential lightning strikes. But at the same time, they talk about how they are going to try to attack this growing blaze there in the Lake City area. From the south and western ends. Of course we'll continue to update you as more information becomes available.

Meantime, in Iraq -- a search and rescue mission is under way there, where it is now very intense and massive. Four thousand troops are scouring a farming area south of Baghdad. They're looking for three U.S. soldiers missing since insurgents ambushed their patrol on Saturday. Here with the story, CNN International correspondent Arwa Damon.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

ARWA DAMON, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Carefully maneuvering through the brush and canals, Iraqi troops help U.S. forces search for clues. Combing through every field, every farmhouse. Searching this dangerous and harsh landscape south of Baghdad, also known as the Triangle of Death. The U.S. military is determined to find three of its own.

MAJ. GEN. WILLIAM CALDWELL, SPOKESMAN, MULTINATIONAL FORCE, IRAQ: Every asset we have from national assets to tactical assets -- and when I say national I mean United States government assets that may not be habitually used on a daily basis, are being used all the way down to the 4,000 troops.

DAMON: These pictures are said to show where the predawn ambush took place. No answers yet about why it was such an unusually small contingent of Americans. Or why it took as long as an hour for quick reaction forces to respond.

The little that the military is disclosing is enough to conjure horrific images of the scale the attack. Over 24 hours later and still the bodies of the dead are not all identified.

CALDWELL: We can establish now the identity of three of the American soldiers who were killed and the one Iraqi army interpreter that was killed.

So the identification of four of the five who were killed is now complete. The fifth one is still ongoing.

DAMON: Posted on extremist Web site, a claim of responsibility from the Islamic State of Iraq, a group led by al Qaeda. Last June in the same area, a group affiliated with al Qaeda claimed that it and kidnapped killed two U.S. soldiers. Their mutilated bodies were found three days later.

Gruesome images America cannot forget. The U.S. military doesn't want to see this happen again.

(on camera): One of the main tenants the U.S. military lives by is never to leave a man behind. One can only imagine what is going through the soldiers' minds as they relentlessly search for three of their own and try and figure out what went horribly wrong. Arwa Damon, CNN, Baghdad.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

WHITFIELD: Meantime while that search is going on, Iraqi civilians and politicians are dealing with two new attacks. This one happened in northern Iraq. Officials say a suicide truck bomber detonated near several governmental offices. At least 50 people were killed and 115 wounded.

And then there was more bloodshed in Baghdad. A car bomb blew up in a crowded square near two main markets. At least 15 people killed there. And 35 others hurt.

Finding a way out of all this violence. It's a goal important enough to bring two enemies together. A spokesperson for Vice President Dick Cheney said today the U.S. will talk with Iran about security matters in Iraq.

Joining us live with more details, CNN White House correspondent Elaine Quijano, who is in Jamestown, Virginia, covering President Bush's visit there. Elaine?

ELAINE QUIJANO, CNN CORRESPONDENT: And Fredricka, President Bush made no mention of the upcoming talks with Iran during his visit here to Jamestown but they are certainly significant for two countries that have not had diplomatic relations since 1979.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

QUIJANO (voice-over): On a visit commemorating the 400th anniversary of Jamestown, America's first permanent English settlement, President Bush predicted democratic ideals would eventually prosper worldwide.

GEORGE W. BUSH, U.S. PRESIDENT: These values took root at Jamestown four centuries ago. They have flourished across our land. And one day, they will flourish in every land.

QUIJANO: But in Iraq, getting democracy to take root amid the violence has proven daunting. And the effort complicated, the White House believes, by Iranian interference. Now more than four years into the war, President Bush is allowing top U.S. officials to sit down with their counterparts from Iran, a country he once labeled part of the Axis of Evil.

A White House spokesman says in the next few weeks, U.S. Ambassador Ryan Crocker will meet with the Iranians in Baghdad for talks limited to a single topic, Iraq. Said the spokesman, "This is not about the United States and Iran, this is about Iraq. This is about Iran playing a constructive policy role inside Iraq."

The U.S. wants Iran to use its influence with the Iraq's majority Shia population to forge political reconciliation and the U.S. wants Iran to stop sending bomb components into Iraq. But Republican senator and presidential hopeful, John McCain, has reservations. The U.S. could risk elevating Iran's international standing.

SEN. JOHN MCCAIN, (R) AZ: Remember, this is the world's largest sponsor of terrorist -- state sponsor of terrorism. They're dedicated to the extinction of Israel. There are enormous difficulties but if there is something to be gained, OK.

QUIJANO: The Bush administration insists talks on Iraq not mean the U.S. is going soft on Iran over its nuclear ambitions. Vice President Dick Cheney tried to under underscore that message, just days ago with a blunt warning to Iran delivered from the deck of a U.S. carrier poised in the Persian Gulf.

DICK CHENEY, U.S. VICE PRESIDENT: And we'll stand with others to prevent Iran from gaining nuclear weapons and dominating this region.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

QUIJANO: As for the upcoming Baghdad meeting, a U.S. official would not say which side initiated it. The spokesman only saying that it resulted from informal meetings during regional conferences over the last couple of months. Fredricka?

WHITFIELD: Elaine Quijano, thanks so much for joining us from Jamestown.

Meantime, more talk of Iraq. Tonight at 10:00 p.m. Eastern Rick Sanchez talks to CNN's Michael Holmes. He has a rare and intensely personally behind scenes account of life in Iraq, Michael Holmes does. He also answers Rick's sometimes uncomfortable questions about insurgents.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

RICK SANCHEZ, CNN ANCHOR: So there's two options. A, stop killing them, thereby they'll stop hating them and wanting to kill you. Or B, kill them all.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

WHITFIELD: So don't miss that tonight at 10:00 p.m. Eastern right here on CNN.

Well, some call it the Taliban's biggest military loss since the U.S. invasion in 2001. Afghan officials displayed the body of one of the country's top terrorists. NATO later confirms the death of the taliban's Mullah Dadullah. NATO officials say a U.S. coalition operation killed him after he left his sanctuary in southern Afghanistan. That area has been the scene of fierce fighting between coalition forces and the Taliban.

CNN's Peter Bergen will be along later to talk about the impact of Mullah Dadullah's death.

And what you're about to see just might shock you. Take a look. The victim of this attack, a 91-year-old World War II veteran hit again and again and again. That story straight ahead here in THE NEWSROOM. Plus, as we mentioned, a top Taliban commander leaves his safe haven and pays dearly. What does his death mean for the war on terror? Answers in about 25 minutes from now.

And illegal immigrants not wanted. A Texas town is trying to lock them out. We'll have a live report and you're in the CNN NEWSROOM.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

WHITFIELD: Across America today, celebrating history, President and Mrs. Bush traveled to Jamestown, Virginia, to mark the 400th anniversary of the first permanent English colony in America. Calling Jamestown, quote, "where it all started," the president spoke about the transforming of power of democracy.

The FBI has nabbed another fugitive on its 10 most-wanted list. Richard Goldberg was arrested in Montreal, Canada. He is accused of crimes against children in Long Beach, California. Goldberg is scheduled to appear in Canadian court tomorrow on immigration charges. He's expected to be extradited back here soon after.

Emotions are running high in a Mississippi courtroom over the death of a one-year-old boy. Two members of the child's family tried to attack the alleged killer as he entered the room. Both were arrested. Zakaria Lacy (ph) was the little boy's baby-sitter. He's been charged with capital murder and child abuse.

And what kind of person beats up on a 91-year-old man? A veteran, no less. This will make you cringe and get you pretty upset. Police in Detroit tracked down the suspect. Deonte Bradley, after this disgusting incident caught on surveillance tape. More now from reporter Derricke Dennis of our Detroit affiliate WDIV.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

DERRICKE DENNIS, WDIV CORRESPONDENT: Ninety one-year-old Leonard Sims reacts to seeing the man who hit him, pounded him in the face over and over again finally brought to justice. The arraignment of his suspected attacker beamed into the Sims' living room.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The fact that the witness is a senior citizen ...

DENNIS: Twenty two-year-old Deonte Bradley formally charged with felony carjacking and assault for the brutal and vicious beating of Sims in the middle of a public carjacking caught on tape.

LEONARD SIMS, VICTIM: He could have grabbed the keys and taken off. Not the beating.

DENNIS: But that's exactly what Sims says Bradley did using the side of this World War II veteran's face like a punching bag. Literally trying to knock his block off and let's not forget the people caught on tape standing by watching this beating go down. Not one person bothering to help. Still Sims has a message for the suspect.

SIMS: Turn his life around. Go to school. Learn a trade. Get a job and work for his living. Not steal it.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

WHITFIELD: That was pretty forgiving. That was Derricke Dennis reporting.

Meantime, what do Oprah, Tony Snow and one of the founders of YouTube have in common. They all gave commencement speeches this weekend. We'll have the ultimate look at this weekend's commencement speech circuit for you, straight ahead in THE NEWSROOM.

Plus, wildfires are not the only problem for Florida and Georgia. A severe drought has those two states thirsting for rain. We'll take you to the dried-out Sunshine State in about 15 minutes from now. You're in THE NEWSROOM.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

WHITFIELD: Graduation season and the commencement speaker at the University of Illinois today, not much older than the graduating seniors. Twenty seven-year-old Jawed Karim is one of three founders of YouTube. Google gobbled up the popular Web site last year for more than a billion dollars. Karim dropped out of college in his senior year but later earned a degree through a correspondence course.

Well, commencement speeches are take place all across America this month. And along with their degrees, graduating students are getting words of wisdom from a host of notable personalities, including the president and several presidential candidates.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

BUSH: Some of you are the first in your family attend college. In a few moments you will collect your degrees. The Ave Maria bell will ring and you will leave this campus with a lifetime of good memories, you've worked hard and we're all here to congratulate you on a fabulous achievement.

Be the face that brings a smile to the hurt and forgotten. Lead lives of purpose and character. Make a difference in someone else's life. And if you do, you will lead richer lives. You will build a more hopeful nation. And you'll never be disappointed.

SEN. HILLARY CLINTON, (D) NY: When we lift people up, we lift ourselves as well. When we invest in education, we not only give the young people who are here today the opportunity to chart their own course in life, but we reap benefits far into the future.

MITT ROMNEY, (R) PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: As Abigail Adams wrote to her son when he was concerned about the future of the democracy, "Great necessities bring forth great virtues." And this motto of your institution says the same truth. Strength rejoices in the challenge. You're up for the challenge. You've been raised in good families. Taught in an independent-minded institution, and schooled in the land of liberty. Together, we will keep America the hope of the world. TONY SNOW, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: Be humble, be alive, be awake. Take each new step as if it were the first. Then take another. And when you tumble, as you will, when a kind hand reaches out to pick you up, smile. Say thanks. And give back to them. It may not give you a whole life, but it will sure get you started.

OPRAH WINFREY, TALK SHOW HOST: There is nobody more nurtured and prepared to lead us into an exemplary future than the Howard University graduating class of 2007.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

WHITFIELD: Democratic presidential hopeful John Edwards had some advice for the 250 graduates of New England College. Edwards delivered the New Hampshire's school's commencement address and he again called for an end of the war in Iraq. The former North Carolina senator and vice presidential candidate said, quote, "It's time for young people to take responsibility for their country, government and communities," end quote.

Well, even as firefighters battled the flames in Florida, the danger of more fires is high. The reason? A major drought in that state. Details straight ahead in THE NEWSROOM.

And new trouble for the White House and state governments. The National Guard sounds a serious alarm. We'll explain in a few moments. You're watching CNN, the most trusted name in news.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

FREDRICKA WHITFIELD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: About half past the hour now. A quick update for you from Florida. Authorities there just finished a press conference updating everyone with the latest on the wildfires there. Smoke from dozens of wildfires has kept part of Interstate 75 and a strip of Interstate 10 closed. And authorities are warning drivers in the area.

RICK CARPENTER, FLA. HIGHWAY PATROL: Our roads, like yesterday, are closed. 75 and 10 are closed. There are some residual traffic on it. But we urge everybody, please, to plan alternate routes, to make different travel plans, and if they'll also avoid traveling through this area.

WHITFIELD: And as if smoke-filled skies and raging wildfires were not enough, Florida has another big problem. A persistent drought, it's so bad that south Florida is tightening already tough water restrictions. Here's our John Zarrella.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JOHN ZARRELLA, CNN CORRESPONDENT: More than 200 are burning from one end of the state to the other.

CAROL WEHLE, SOUTH FLORIDA WATER MGMT. DISTRICT: We've been getting rain but we get like an inch, like little teasers. ZARRELLA: Carol Whehle heads the South Florida Water Management District. She's never seen it this dry. Lake Okeechobee is less than 9 1/2 feet, five feet below normal and dropping fast. A prime source of drinking water for 5 million people, the lake is so low, water can no longer flow from it.

WHELE: This is the entire watershed for the Everglades' system is totally dried out.

ZARRELLA: Everywhere you look, on and around the lake, water has been replaced by land. Pontoon boats sit high and dry. New islands emerge ever day. For Dave Self, the drought has dried up his business.

DAVE SELF, WYLD WEST ANNUALS: These are Pentis; these are a great half-hardy perennial.

ZARRELLA: A nursery owner, Self's business is down 90 percent, about half a million dollars in seasonal sales. So nobody's buying?

SELF: Nobody's buying. You can't give them away. I told people I'd be glad to give them some to move them so I don't have the extra labor in it. And they say, Dave, why should I plant these when I can't keep them alive?

ZARRELLA: Can't keep them alive because of ever-tightening restrictions on outdoor water use.

RON PARKINSON, HOMEOWNER: It's not only for the lawn; the lawn is not the most important thing. It's lake that needs to rise so that we can have water in our homes.

ZARRELLA: Watering twice a week in much of south Florida is going to once a week by Monday.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

WHITFIELD: And in the next few days, the weather will help, or hinder the battle against two other wildfires. We're talking about Minnesota's gun flint fire along the Canadian border and California's Catalina wildfire. Firefighters there hope today's cooler weather will help them as they work to contain the 4200-acre blaze by Tuesday night in Catalina Island. One home and six businesses have already been destroyed.

Meantime in Minnesota, it's the wind that worries firefighters there. Officials have put some residents on stand-by to evacuate, if wind gusts spread the flames. Forecast predicts that winds as strong as 25 miles an hour could take place. More than 80 square miles in the U.S. and southern Canada have burned so far.

Let's check in again with Jacqui Jeras, where it seems like drought really is a big problem across the board.

JACQUI JERAS, CNN METEOROLOGIST: Absolutely. And where we have the extreme drought, that's where we've got the fires, Fredricka. Going hand-in-hand together. And as we look at national picture here today, overall across the lower 48 is really a quiet afternoon. Unfortunately where we have those little disturbances is right where we have the fires too. And that means changeable conditions and that's never good. Weak backdoor cold front dropping across South Georgia into north Florida. Means that high pressure is going to build in by tomorrow. The winds are going to come in more easterly instead of a more northerly direction. So lower humidity, stronger winds tomorrow not a good situation upcoming. So hopefully we make some good progress here for today.

As for parts of Minnesota, up into the Arrowhead, we've got a cold front approaching you. We've got some very strong gusty winds associated with that. Even up to criteria for advisories in the southern Minnesota and northern parts of Iowa. And then as we take a look out into California, that's the best weather news there. Is that we've had some very nice recovery. The temperatures have been cooler and been a left humidity here.

Really warm today across the nations mid section, we've got the cool air in place right now across the Arrowhead but as these warm temperatures spread eastward, that's why we've got the big difference here. We've got those windy conditions. There you could see your backdoor cold front. Look at this nice and cool in Washington, 70 degrees. But you see the 80s here in south Florida. We don't think you'll see a whole heck of a lot of relief. In is today's forecast and that rain that you see here that's really in the morning hours. We think it'll be very dry by the afternoon once again.

Fred.

WHITFIELD: Thanks so much, Jacqui.

Well, this developing story out of Iraq. The U.S. military is carrying out a massive search and rescue mission south of Baghdad, 4,000 troops are looking for three U.S. soldiers missing since insurgents ambush their patrol more than 24 hours ago. Four U.S. soldiers and an Iraqi soldier were killed in that attack. An insurgent group led by al Qaeda has claimed responsibility on an extremist Website. There is no official confirmation of those claims as yet.

Well, there is some good news/bad news when it comes to funding America's National Guard. The National Guard borough chief lieutenant general Stephen Blum says the Bush administration has budgeted nearly $22 billion over the next five years to repair and replace battle-worn equipment. That's the most money the guard has every received. But Blum says the guard needs about $14 billion more.

Today is, of course, Mother's Day. But for moms who have lost a son or daughter in war, most celebrations ring hollow. In Washington, girl scouts tried to offer some comfort at the eighth annual Mother's Day at the wall. There at the Vietnam Memorial, mothers who lost a child to military conflict were honored with handmade Mother's Day cards and roses complements of the scouts.

Well, in the war on terror in Afghanistan, what happens when a top Taliban commander is targeted and killed. Straight ahead IN THE NEWSROOM we'll talk to CNN's terrorism analyst Peter Bergen just back from Afghanistan.

Plus, more clashes in Pakistan as political turmoil there spirals into deadly confrontations between supporters and opponents of the country's president.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

WHITFIELD: A warning now, some gruesome video that we're showing you, very graphic display. That is taking place in Kandahar. Afghan officials are showing off the body of a top Taliban commander. NATO says Mullah Dadullah was killed during a military operation in the Helmand Province. That operation included coalition troops in Afghan national security forces, Dadullah was in charge of day-to-day military operations for the Taliban. Our Peter Bergen is an expert on the terrorist group. And he just got back from the region. So, Peter, what can you tell us about Dadullah? His position and the importance to the Taliban?

PETER BERGEN, CNN TERRORISM ANALYST: Well, Mullah was a main military commander. He's a very brutal guy. Someone is when personally beheading journalist. Somebody who has been involved in military affairs for all his life, fighting the Soviets, losing a leg. The picture there that we saw earlier, his leg was actually missing. Part the proof of him actually being Mullah Dadullah was his amputated leg. I think it'll be hard for the Taliban to replace Dadullah. Of course the Taliban will continue fighting. Its not like one man's death is going to change things but it's hard it think of a military commander who is more effective. Who is based in Afghanistan, who might sort of step up to the plate and become the new military commander? I think it is very unlikely for instance that Mullah Omar the leader of the Taliban, the overall leader who would become the military commander.

WHITFIELD: Why is that doubtful? When we haven't heard from him in a while, but it's still believed that he's very much alive.

BERGEN: Yeah, I don't think there's any evidence that he's dead. But he just doesn't seem it play any day-to-day role in any military affairs in the Taliban. He's sort of their -- like the spiritual leader, but really not involved in the day to day operations.

WHITFIELD: Mean time, even Hamid Karzai is expressing some disappointment in the way allied operations are taking place given the fact that so many civilians are being killed as allied operations say they are trying to root out Taliban leaders. Is this undermining the entire effort? That both Pakistan's been in a cooperation with the U.S., in trying to get a handle on the Taliban and of course find Osama Bin Laden?

BERGEN: You know, I think it has a possibility of undermining everything. This is an incredibly sensitive issue for Afghans. There have now been four separate incidents in the last month or so where a significant number of Afghan civilians have been killed by either the U.S. military or by NATO. In one case as many as 50 people, including women and children in western province of Iraq in an operation that was jointly done by U.S. official forces in the Afghan national army. So President Hamid Karzai is a quite mild-manner guy. He's extremely angry about this and it's got to change. Other wise the whole NATO and U.S. military efforts will be undermined. Because for the moment, Afghans remain quite in favor of the international forces, quite opposed to the Taliban but I do think the civilian casualty issues had the capacity to really bring down that goodwill that exists right now, still for the international forces in the country.

WHITFIELD: CNN's terrorism analyst Peter Bergen, thanks so much for your time from Washington today.

BERGEN: Thank you.

WHITFIELD: Well, time now to go global with headlines from around the world. Conflicting reports today about the death toll and clashes along the Pakistan/Afghanistan border. Pakistan's security forces say they killed five Afghan troops. But Afghan officials say just two civilians were there. Tensions are high at the border after Afghanistan accused Pakistan of not doing enough to stop militant's attacks.

In Pakistan's capital, troops have been ordered to shoot to kill. This comes as the government tries to calm the crisis that began in March, when President Musharraf fired Pakistan's top judge. At least 14 people have been died in days of unrest. More violence was reported today.

And a massive opposition rallies in Turkey. More than a million protesters turned out to voice their opposition to the pro-Islamic ruling party. Turkey is holding early elections in July. The political turmoil is growing over concerns that the mainly Muslim country might shift from secular to Islamic law.

Well, that you are saying no room for illegal. A Texas town tries to slam the door on illegal immigration. Details on their new landlord law straight ahead in THE NEWSROOM.

Plus, entire honeybee colonies wiped out. What's killing them? And why should you worry about it? We will explain in about ten minutes from now, you're in THE NEWSROOM.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

JERAS: I'm Jacqui Jeras with today's "Allergy Report." The pollen count has improved quite a bit across parts of the Ohio and Tennessee Valley, also extremely low into the upper Midwest. We've got very high pollen counts across the U.P. of Michigan and into the Great Lakes, across the southeast and northeast and into the Pacific Northwest.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

WHITFIELD: Immigration is a hot-button issue, both in Washington and around the country, as Congress and the White House work for reform they can both live with. Some places around country are coming up with some solutions of their own. CNN's Lisa Goddard joins us live from Washington with more on this.

Lisa. LISA GODDARD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Fredricka, all this weekend, Senate staffers have been on the phone trying to hack out an immigration compromise. Senate debates start this week, but meanwhile, some cities and counties have run out of patience. Including one-twelve square mile town that yesterday, took a major step. The first public vote to specifically stop landlords from renting to illegal immigrants.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

GODDARD (voice over): Farmers Branch, Texas, a suburb of Dallas smack in the center of the immigration debate. It's a 400mile trip, eight hours by car to the Mexican border, where illegal immigrants swarm into the United States every year. As Congress struggles with a second year of debate over how to stem the flow, Farmers Branch voters have taken action. Backing an ordinance that forces apartment complexes to check documents and deny rental to illegal immigrants. The vote was overwhelming, 68 percent opponents call it unconstitutional and may take the idea to court. Meanwhile in Washington, California Senator Barbara Boxer doesn't like it.

SEN. BARBARA BOXER, (D) CALIFORNIA: In a free-market society people want to rent a place, they should be able to rent a place. If they're breaking another law, then it's up to the immigration service to figure that one out.

GODDARD: Of course critics say there is little enforcement of immigration laws. And that's just one issue challenging Congress.

Others, should all or some illegal immigrants be allowed to stay? If so with what penalties or requirements? And should the U.S. allow temporary guest workers? Speaking on "Meet the Press" Sunday, Senator John McCain sounded optimist about a deal.

SEN. JOHN MCCAIN, (R) PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I think we're very close to an agreement that we can bring to the floor.

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GODDARD: Now Fredricka, McCain also says if they cannot agree soon, immigration may be off the table until 2009 because of the presidential election. Mean while though the town of Farmers Branch Is moving fast. Their law is slated to go into effect in nine days and that vote yesterday by the way yesterday, shattered the town's turnout record.

WHITFIELD: So what is the answer as to how Farmer's Branch would actually enforce this law if it becomes to be such?

GODDARD: It's a problem on every level but they say that they are requiring every apartment complex get documentation for everyone they rent to. They'll have inspectors going out to check that documentation over the next coming months.

WHITFIELD: All right. Lisa Goddard thanks very much from Washington.

May is Asian-Pacific American History Month, and all next week CNN's series on "Uncovering America" will focus on Asian cultural diversity, what is it like growing up in the great American melting pot? That is a question we posed to some of our own here at CNN's World Headquarters.

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UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I think one of the biggest challenges facing the next generation of Asian American's would be maintaining our identity and really hanging on to culture and tradition and customs.

RICHARD LUI, CNN.COM: For me as an Asian American, I think a lot of things are the same but different. First the foods I ate, I love eating lasagna, Mexican food.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I think growing up was always more of a struggle. For me to fit in, I remember wanting to be just like my friends I remember having them come over for dinner and begging my mother to put down the wooden spoon for two seconds to make Mac and cheese instead of Filipino food that she was always cooking.

BETTY NGUYEN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: I was just a baby when we came to the U.S. from Vietnam. And growing up here in America, I was just like any other kid, except my mother didn't speak English very well. Still doesn't speak English all that well. And so I had to essentially be the family spokesperson. I had taken on a lot of responsibility in making decisions. And doing other things that many kids probably wouldn't have to do at that age.

VERONICA DE LA CRUZ, CNN.COM: These are our stories. Now we'd like to hear yours. What is it like for you being Asia in America? The month of May marks Asian Pacific Heritage Month and CNN would like to tell your story. You can send us an e-mail or video by clicking on the i- report logo and also log onto CNN.com/exchange. I'm Veronica De La Cruz for the .com desk.

WHITFIELD: Well, you've heard the old expression about two heads being better than one. Well, how about in this case? How about two noses in the advantages there. Well do not adjust your set. Lucy, the calf really does have twice the sniffing power of your average livestock. That story coming up.

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WHITFIELD: No, you are not seeing double, but the calf with two noses might be smelling double. Lucy was born on a Wisconsin farm. A breeding expert says the extra nose is a mutation that happens from time to time and from calf to calf. Lucy can breathe just fine, and is quite spunky, as you see. Her owner says if this happens again, however, he might have to find a new bull to fire his cows.

Honeybee, they're small enough to fit on the tip of your finger. But important enough to farmers that their recent worldwide die-off is a big deal. Susan Simmons has our report.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) SUSAN SIMMONS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: In these days of high-tech agriculture when a used tractor can cost tens of thousands of dollars, there's one small, inexpensive helper that farmers can't do without. The honeybee, the Agriculture Department estimates that fully a third of the nation's food supply depends on the bee. Keith Seaplane is entomology from the University of Georgia.

DR. KEITH DELAPLANE, PROF. OF ENTOMOLOGY, UNIV. OF GEORGIA: In our diet, for example, we have a lot of fruits and vegetables, a lot meat and dairy. All of this ultimately begins with a bee pollinating a flower to produce, for instance, a blue berry. So the quality of life that we enjoy in this country depends upon bee pollination.

SIMMONS: Commercial beekeepers in 27 states and in Europe, Brazil, and Canada, have reported tremendous bee die offs from something called colony collapse disorder. When the mysterious phenomenon strikes, adult bees simply disappear without a trace.

DELAPLANE: The colony is very strong, flying, acting normal. And a beekeeper comes back the next day, and the adult bee population has shrunk tremendously.

SIMMONS: Delaplane explains some of the possible reasons behind colony collapse, at a meeting of beekeepers in Atlanta.

DELAPLANE: Shrinking habitat, shrinking nectar sources, an erosion of tulip trees.

SIMMONS: Beekeepers are fighting back. Changing from chemical pesticides to organic methods. Using things like menthol and tea tree oil. Commercial beekeepers in Florida saw a resurgence of honeybee colonies lost during the winter.

DELAPLANE: As we educate beekeepers, I think the honeybee will rebound and still be here years from now.

SIMMONS: Susan Simmons CNN, Atlanta.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

WHITFIELD: A desperate search in Iraq. Thousands of soldiers search for three of their missing comrades. We've got the latest from Baghdad.

A celebrating economics' professor says he has amnesia but angry investors say he better remember where he stash their money also.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I think we're dying.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: How much did you guys have?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I don't know. We made brownies and I think we're dead. I really do.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

WHITFIELD: That 911 call and a batch of bad brownies cost one cop his job. I'm Fredricka Whitfield. The rest of that story a little later on in THE NEWSROOM.

Meantime, first this hour, the fires in northern Florida, at last report, two stretches of Interstate highway were closed due to smoke from the wildfires in Florida and southern Georgia. There is a chance today of some desperately needed rain, but lightning could also be in the mix. With the latest on the fire, CNN's John Zarrella in Lake City, Florida.

John.

JOHN ZARRELLA, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Hey, Fredricka. Well, we're still waiting on that much-need rainfall here. Thought that it might move in earlier this afternoon.

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