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Search Continues for Three Missing Soldiers; Drug War in Mexico; Lives of American Muslim Teens; New Tactics Tried to Free Lost Whales; Divers Find Sunken Treasure
Aired May 19, 2007 - 10:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
T.J. HOLMES, ANCHOR, CNN NEWSROOM: From the CNN Center, this is the CNN NEWSROOM. Just taking look up there, it is Saturday, May the 19th, 10 a.m. here in Atlanta, Georgia, 4 p.m. in Baghdad. Good morning to you all. I'm T.J. Holmes.
BETTY NGUYEN, ANCHOR, CNN NEWSROOM: And I'm Betty Nguyen.
We want to take you to Iraq today, where a massive search continues for three missing soldiers. But they aren't the servicemen the military are searching for. We have a live report. That is straight ahead.
HOLMES: Also, gunfights, kidnappings, turf battles. We're not talking about Iraq here anymore. This is Mexico. We'll take a closer look at a drug war fueling the violence.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Many believe that we are terrorists, because of all this drama that's going on right now. But I think (INAUDIBLE) Muslims. We are very peaceful people.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
NGUYEN: But they are. They cheer, they shop and they want to end stereotypes. Coming up, we're going to uncover the lives of American Muslims teens.
HOLMES: But first, Iraq. A new development in the hunt for those three missing American soldiers.
The U.S. military says coalition forces raided a building west of Baghdad and detained nine people, all suspected of being involved it the apparent abductions of the soldiers during an ambush a week ago.
These are the three soldiers. U.S. forces backed by Iraqi troops have a massive, round-the-clock search going on for these three right now.
In another new development, as well, British Prime Minister Tony Blair -- he's in Iraq this morning, making an unannounced visit on his farewell tour before leaving office in June.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TONY BLAIR, BRITISH PRIME MINISTER: I have no doubt at all that Britain will remain steadfast in its support for Iraq, for the Iraqi people and for the Iraq government as it tries to make sure that it overcomes the threat of terrorism and continues to make progress.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HOLMES: Also, there's this this morning. Just moments ago, into the NEWSROOM, we got word that five more American soldiers have been killed in Iraq. That now brings the number to eight of U.S. service members killed since Friday.
NGUYEN: Well, heartbreaking news for a Nevada family whose son was killed in last week's ambush. The military has identified 23- year-old Sergeant Anthony Schober as the fourth soldier killed in the attack south of Baghdad.
His father says, the 9/11 terrorist attacks inspired his son to join the Army.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
EDWARD SCHOBER, FATHER OF SGT. ANTHONY SCHOBER: I met Anthony for the first time when he was two years old, when I was dating his mom. The first thing he did when I met him is, he wrapped his arms around my neck and called me dad.
I married his mom, and then I adopted him at the age of five. He's legally my son.
He earned his GED and turned it into a high school diploma through Job Corps. At the age of 17, he came to me and said he wanted to join the Army. He was affected by the 9/11 incident.
I asked whether he really was sure about this, if he really wanted to do it. He said yes. So, I signed the papers.
When he came home from basic training and advanced training, I noticed a huge difference in him. He truly changed from a boy to a man.
Anthony served one enlisted, and signed up for a second. He became a sergeant and a noncommissioned officer, and I was very proud of him.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
NGUYEN: It's just so heartbreaking.
Schober says this was his son's fourth tour of duty in Iraq.
HOLMES: Of course, the three missing soldiers in Iraq -- not the first, certainly not alone.
CNN's Hugh Riminton here now to tell us about others that are missing without a trace.
HUGH RIMINTON, CNN CORRESPONDENT, BAGHDAD: Hello, T.J.
You hear that father's account and you can't help but be deeply moved by it. And the more so when you realize how many other Americans are also still kidnapped at the moment. The list is more than 20 soldiers and civilians still missing somewhere in Iraq.
RIMINTON (voice-over): When news broke of the three U.S. soldiers seized Saturday south of Baghdad, it stabbed at the heart of Entifadh Qanbar.
ENTIFADH QANBAR, UNCLE OF MISSING U.S. SOLDIER: I sat down for an hour alone, memorizing like a flashback of what happened to us.
RIMINTON: Entifadh's nephew was the last U.S. soldier kidnapped in Iraq. Sergeant Ahmed Altaie was seized last October. There has been just one 10-second glimpse of his since on an insurgent Web site.
For the family of Scott Speicher there has been even less. The longest-standing American on the missing list in Iraq, he was a Navy pilot, shot down in the '91 Gulf War.
Clues and rumors kept hope alive. When Saddam Hussein was toppled, CNN found MSS -- Speicher's initials -- carved into the wall of a prison where other inmates spoke of an American captive. But there, the trail ran out.
Sergeant Matt Maupin was seized by insurgents early in this war.
VOICE OF KEITH MAUPIN, UNCLE OF MISSING U.S. SOLDIER: Well, we've never given up hope that Matt's alive and that they will find him. And we keep pushing issues that, you know, they're not going to leave him in Iraq like they did those guys in Vietnam.
RIMINTON: Not just soldiers, but journalists, aid workers, contractors -- even a tourist -- have been taken hostage in Iraq. Iraqis have been kidnapped themselves in the thousands, usually for quick ransom.
But Americans are the highest prize, according to the man who set up the U.S. embassy's hostage working group.
DAN O'SHEA, FORMER U.S. HOSTAGE NEGOTIATOR: The danger level for Americans, without question, is the highest.
RIMINTON: Dan O'Shea has worked on hundreds of cases in Iraq. The toughest are always with al Qaeda or its associates.
O'SHEA: I mean, these people, they don't negotiate. That's what we have to understand.
I mean, the option for these soldiers is what, you know, is the option generally for Americans that we're going to rescue.
RIMINTON: Entifadh Qanbar still believes his nephew's American uniform is his strongest asset.
QANBAR: In a strange way, maybe it was positive, because he became valuable. And becoming valuable, you keep your life. But you never know.
RIMINTON (on camera): Now, you know, there are still 4,000 U.S. troops plus 2,000 Iraqi army soldiers out there looking for Sergeant Schober's three missing colleagues. And you can just believe them when they say they are not going to stop until their colleagues have been accounted for, have been brought back home again -- T.J.
HOLMES: Absolutely. That is what they do.
Hugh Riminton for us, reporting in Baghdad. Thank you so much, Hugh.
NGUYEN: Well, back in the States, there is no sign of a compromise in the fight over money for the Iraq war. Each side blamed the other after talks broke down yesterday.
Democrats say the White House refuses to put pressure on the Iraqi government, an the White House says the Democrats keep insisting on timelines for withdrawal. Both sides want a bill for the president to sign by Memorial Day.
HOLMES: In northern Afghanistan today, a suicide bomber killed three German soldiers and five Afghan civilians. Two more soldiers and eight civilians were wounded.
The attacker blew himself up in a crowded market. The area is considered safer than other parts of the country. But Germany's foreign minister says the attack shows there are no safe areas of Afghanistan.
Also, a new cease-fire agreement this morning between rival Palestinian factions. Hamas and Fatah reaching a deal after a week of deadly fighting in Gaza. This is the fifth attempt at a truce in the past week.
On top of the internal fighting, Israel has launched air strikes against Hamas targets in Gaza in response to rocket attacks on border communities.
NGUYEN: Well, a battle for access to America. The drug war escalating in Mexico. And now, tens of thousands of Mexican troops are being deployed.
The response to the new attacks? Well, some not far from the U.S. border.
CNN's Tim Lister takes a look. (BEGIN VIDEO)
TIM LISTER, CNN CORRESPONDENT, ATLANTA (voice-over): Just 30 miles from Arizona, a state of war. An estimated 50 gunmen drove into the town of Cananea Wednesday, dragged four police officers from their vehicle and killed them.
Federal troops pursued the gang, and say they killed at least 15.
The assault on Cananea was linked to a vicious turf war between rival gangs fighting for control of drug routes into the U.S. The governor of the state says the town's police may have been in league with one of the gangs.
The man with one of the toughest jobs in Mexico, public security chief Genaro Garcia Luna, says the gunmen were probably linked to the Gulf cartel, which is in a fight to the death with the Pacific cartel.
What happened in Cananea, just one episode in a conflict that's claimed nearly 1,000 lives this year alone -- a conflict now joined in earnest by federal forces.
President Felipe Calderon has injected some 30,000 troops into the battle in a bid to take down the major cartels. They're not going quietly.
In the capital this week, unknown gunmen ambushed a senior official in the attorney general's office as he drove to work. Jose Nemesio Lugo's car crashed. He was then shot six times.
Days earlier, an army captain involved in the war against the cartels was shot and killed as he drove to Acapulco.
The government has vowed its campaign will go on, saying it will go full throttle after the gangs that have made some parts of Mexico ungovernable. Even paratroopers have been used to destroy fields of marijuana.
Several kingpins of the drug trade have been extradited to the United States. Large arsenals have been seized.
But officials admit that as soon as one gang is dismantled another will spring up, so lucrative is the trade in cocaine and marijuana.
Despite almost daily raids, this one in Mexico City on Wednesday, U.S. officials estimate that two-thirds of the cocaine arriving in America come through Mexico.
Tim Lister, CNN, Atlanta.
HOLMES: So, there now, I'm looking at what's happening in Mexico. But who are the groups behind all that violence? And how is it affecting our border security? We'll get some answers, straight ahead in the NEWSROOM.
NGUYEN: Also, so far, no luck luring those stranded whales back to the Pacific Ocean. We're going to have a live report on what rescuers will try to do next to help them get back out into the open sea.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's just an amazing thing about gold. I don't care who you are, what age you are or what you do, there's something about gold.
HOLMES: There certainly is something, Betty, about gold, especially when it's thousands upon thousands ...
NGUYEN: More like millions.
HOLMES: ... of antique gold coins. Yes. Sunken treasure any pirate would envy. Those details later in the CNN NEWSROOM.
NGUYEN: Take a live look now -- politics, pomp and circumstance. Former House speaker Newt Gingrich delivering the commencement address today at Liberty University in Lynchburg, Virginia.
Now, as you well know, his speech comes just days after the death of the school's founder, Reverend Jerry Falwell. Falwell was instrumental in the rise of the religious right as a political force.
We take you live now to New Orleans.
Senator and presidential candidate, Hillary Rodham Clinton, is the commencement speaker at Dillard University. The private, predominately black college was heavily damaged during Hurricane Katrina.
HOLMES: Well, making the world a better place. Some people are taking on that challenge every single day, and we call them CNN heroes -- special folks who have an extraordinary impact on the lives of others.
NGUYEN: Just imagine if you were starting grade school and someone made this promise to you. Graduate from high school and I am going to pay for your college.
HOLMES: Good deal.
NGUYEN: Not bad at all. I wish I had someone like that.
Well, in Oakland, California, a woman named Oral Lee Brown made that pledge. How she kept her promise is what makes her today's CNN hero.
ORAL LEE BROWN, CNN HERO: These are our kids. We should at least take them to a position in their life, that they can lead (ph) their way. And they can't do it without an education.
An education can get you everything you want. You can go wherever you want to go. It's the way out of the ghettos, bottom line.
YOLANDA PEEK, FORMER SCHOOL PRINCIPAL: She says, give me your first graders who are really struggling and who are most needy. I want to adopt the class, and I want to follow the class until they graduate from high school.
And she says that she was going to pay their college tuitions.
BROWN: How many are going to college?
At the time, I was making, I think, $45,000 or $46,000 a year. So, I committed $10,000 to the kids.
I grew up in Mississippi. I lived off of $2 a day. That's what we got, $2 a day for picking cotton. And so, I really feel that I was blessed from God.
And so, I cannot pay him back. But these kids are his kids. These kids -- some of them are poor like I was.
LAQUITA WHITE, FORMER STUDENT: When you have that mentor like Ms. Brown, a very strong person, you can't go wrong, because she's on you constantly every day. What are you doing? How are you doing?
BROWN: The world doubted us. I was told that, lady, you cannot do it. And I would say, you know what? These kids are just like any other kids. The only thing is that they don't have the love, and they don't have the support.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: They called me yesterday and told me that I was accepted.
BROWN: You're looking at doctors and lawyers and one president of the United States.
When you give a kid an education, and they get it up here, nobody or nothing can take it away.
NGUYEN: If you'd like to make a contribution to the Oral Lee Brown Foundation, or nominate someone like her for special recognition, all the details are at CNN.com/hero.
What a great thing she does.
HOLMES: It's an amazing story that she was able to pull that off.
NGUYEN: Hats are off to her.
HOLMES: Boy, wouldn't it be great if we could all get a deal like that when we were in school?
NGUYEN: This is true.
HOLMES: My parents didn't make that deal with me.
NGUYEN: Not even your own parents, right.
HOLMES: Not even my folks.
All right. Sorry, folks. Appreciate everything you did.
Moving on here now, we're going to talk about these brazen and deadly attacks on government officials, soldiers, journalists and innocent civilians.
NGUYEN: Yes, and we are not even talking about Baghdad. Oh, no. It is happening much closer to home, just across our border.
We're going to take a closer look at the drug war fueling the violence.
HOLMES: Brutal attacks just miles south of the U.S.-Mexico border. Mexican drug cartels escalating their own drug wars, trying to get easy access into the U.S.
Police, journalists and government officials all have been targets. "Arizona Republic" reporter, Sean Holstege, joins us now from Phoenix this morning.
Thank you for your time. I know you've been covering this for some time.
Tell us first, just exactly who is responsible for this violence. Who are these cartels.
SEAN HOLSTEGE, REPORTER, "ARIZONA REPUBLIC," PHOENIX (by telephone): Good morning. Thanks for having me.
Who's responsible are -- what's responsible -- are two battling drug cartels in Mexico. There are basically two major syndicates that are vying for the most profitable smuggling routes, one known as the Gulf cartel, the other known as the Sinaloa cartel.
And for the last several months, that battle has been escalating. And a number of police got caught in the crossfire earlier this week in a border town named Cananea, near the Arizona border.
HOLMES: Now, you said they are fighting over the best routes.
What makes, I guess, these routes that Arizona, that border area, I guess, prime land?
HOLSTEGE: Well, a couple of things. One is the efforts of the Mexican government to shut down that trade. So, the Calderon government has been actively trying to shut it down by sending the army into some of the more dangerous states in Mexico, where marijuana, predominantly, is grown and shipped.
In Arizona's case, you know, it's a wide-open border. It's a wide-open landscape.
I was on a patrol a few days ago with some trackers. And you could go three miles -- three hours -- through the desert without seeing a building. That makes it a lucrative opportunity for a smuggler. It also makes it harder to get across. There are challenges involved with that.
So, there's this cat-and-mouse game between the authorities and smugglers about how to actually sneak this stuff across. And once they find a good method, the cartels are going to want to try and hang on to that.
HOLMES: And Sean, you mentioned the Calderon government. He's only been in five, six months, I guess it is now.
This escalation of violence, as horrible as it is, but is this a sign that some of what he's doing is working, and that he is actually making a good, concerted effort to crack down on some of this, and that's why we are seeing an escalation in violence, because they are confronting these guys?
HOLSTEGE: That's what the authorities tell you. You know, the scope of the drug smuggling trade is so enormous, that it's really hard to know what dents that trade at all.
I mean, there's so much drugs traveling over the border, so many guns in the hands of these smugglers. I mean, in one state, Calderon sent 10,000 troops.
Now, in Cananea, in the state of Sonora, that hasn't happened yet. The fear is that perhaps it might escalate into that, but we're not there yet.
HOLMES: And finally here, Sean, before we let you go, tell me how does the U.S. Border Patrol factor into all this? Have they had to engage at all? Are they being engaged and brought into some of this fighting at all by these cartels?
Or are they just kind of standing by and watching what's going on on the other side of the border there?
HOLSTEGE: Well, I'd hate to accuse them of standing by ...
HOLSTEGE: ... because they're the line in the sand, so to speak. They're the last line of defense if something does go over the border. It has happened in Texas along the Texas border, particularly in Laredo.
For now in Arizona, most of the violence is contained to the Mexican side of the border and among the cartels and their associates. So, the border guard does get involved.
There are reports of gunfire. They're pretty rare, they're pretty sporadic. There haven't been any deaths.
But there's no reason to say that that can't happen, and in years past, some other agents working on the border have been killed.
HOLMES: All right. Well, "Arizona Republic" reporter, Sean Holstege, who has covered these issues on that border for some time now.
Sean, we appreciate your time and your insight and your direct and some of your first-hand accounts. Certainly, you've been covering this for some time. We appreciate you sharing that with us.
HOLSTEGE: You're welcome. Thank you for inviting me.
NGUYEN: So, just who are the major parties involved in the escalating violence in Mexico?
Veronica De La Cruz is at the dot-com desk and has been looking into what is on the Web about this.
VERONICA DE LA CRUZ, CNN DOT-COM DESK: Hey there, Betty. Well, like you just heard, the story is just like pealing back an onion. The layers of the people involved, the organization -- it just -- it all goes on and on and on.
A good place to start on the Web is the U.S. government's Drug Enforcement Agency site. This page was posted back in January, following the extradition of several drug kingpins.
The site also includes a map, which shows the areas controlled by the these major drug cartels.
Now, on the east coast of Mexico, like we just heard Sean tell us, is the Gulf cartel. The extradition of its alleged leader, Osiel Cardenas Guillen in January, was considered a major blow to the group. But the cartel quickly reorganized.
The U.S. government is now saying that this man, Jorge Costilla Sanchez, might be heading up the Gulf cartel.
Now, on the west coast -- and we'll try to get his picture up for you -- the Pacific cartel, also known as the Sinaloa cartel, is what exists there. And the DEA this week released a flowchart identifying six of the cartel's major money laundering enterprises. This is the flowchart here.
The U.S. froze their assets in America, in an effort to cut off the cartel's funding.
Finally, one of the major sources of drug violence in Mexico is from a group called the Z's, or Zetas. They are a paramilitary group of enforcers for the Gulf cartel and are blamed for much of this bloodshed that's been happening in recent years.
Many of the Zetas are said to be former narcotics officers in the Mexican police force.
So, there you have it, Betty, the Gulf cartel, the Pacific cartel and the Zetas. Those are the three names that Americans should definitely be keeping an eye on.
NGUYEN: All right. We're taking notes. Thank you, Veronica.
HOLMES: Well, this may sound like some stunt from "Pirates of the Caribbean," but this booty is for real.
HOLMES: I mean ...
NGUYEN: Must you continue?
HOLMES: They've got booty for days, Betty.
NGUYEN: Stop it!
HOLMES: It could be the richest sunken treasure find ever. You get what -- OK.
NGUYEN: That kind of booty.
HOLMES: OK. That kind of booty.
NGUYEN: Let's be clear.
HOLMES: All right. We'll talk about that booty.
Also, we'll talk about this, coming up.
NGUYEN: The sounds of typical teenage girls and what they do in school, but their faith may make them stand out a little more than the girl next door.
Still ahead, uncovering the life of a Muslim-American teenager.
HOLMES: But first, they may still be stranded, but those two wayward whales now have names. We've got a live update from Sacramento. That's straight ahead in the newsroom.
NGUYEN: All right, eat your heart out, Jack Sparrow!
HOLMES: Yeah, packed in plastic buckets, $500 million of treasure pulled from the bottom of the sea. Yes, we have a Saturday morning booty haul here in the CNN NEWSROOM. Welcome back to you all. That will make perfect sense to you in a moment.
NGUYEN: Trust us, it's still a family show. Good morning everybody, I'm Betty Nguyen. We'll explain in just a minute. But first, we do have things (ph) for starting your day with us.
And we'll start with quite a whale of a story shaping up in Sacramento. Yes, whales in Sacramento, about 90 miles inland from their usual Pacific Ocean habitat. Now experts are trying to lead the mother and calf back down the river, but so far, no luck.
CNN's Kara Finnstrom is live in Sacramento. What's been the big obstacle here?
KARA FINNSTROM, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, the whales to start moving. So they actually have a big change in tactics as of today. What they're going to do now is if the whales don't move by Tuesday, instead of the gentle coaxing that they've been doing using those recorded whale sounds that we've been playing the last couple days, they're going to change to a more aggressive herding. I'll explain that in just a minute.
First I want to pan off of me and show you the top of the water. We've been seeing these whales poke out throughout the morning and you might just get lucky and see a fin or a tail. These whales are now named Delta and Dawn, the lieutenant governor giving them those names yesterday. The aggressive herding that will take place on Tuesday, if these whales have not gone out to sea by themselves, involves coming with boats behind the whales and on these boats they will have loud, banging pipes. The whales do not like the sound of these pipes and that will help drive them in the right direction.
More of these boats will be used to line the channel and the entrances to the tributaries. The whales, of course, could actually go under those boats. So the boats themselves aren't blocking the tributaries. It's the sounds that repel them that will hopefully keep them in that main pathway. There is only one way to the ocean for these whales and one of the biggest dangers, these wildlife officials say, will come if they wander off that path.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ROD MCINNES, NATL. MARINE FISHERIES SERVICE: We want to keep them out of the tributaries, not only because we want to keep them on a straight route to San Francisco Bay and beyond, but there are shallows and we don't want to get them stranded.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
FINNSTROM: Now, one of the big concerns is them getting lodged in shallower waters that are off in those tributaries. If they do that, these animals are massive, as you know and they actually need the water to buoy them and support them. If they get lodged in shallow waters, they could actually crush their organs with their own weight. So that's a huge concern. And if they do get trapped, wildlife officials say they'll have to go in and also get them back into the water and that's a very dangerous operation for the whales.
Between now and Tuesday, when they would begin this herding, if the whales don't move out on their own, they will be letting these whales have a little bit of break on Monday and then they will start the whale sounds again to give them one more chance to respond just to that gentle coaxing and then that herding will take place. Lots going on here today so they are urging the public to stay away. We have lots of the public coming out all already, but they want to make sure that the public is safe as well. Back to you.
NGUYEN: Good luck getting the public to stay away. We just watched a ton of video of everyone just coming down there with their binoculars and their cameras to catch a look at these two whales. Hopefully, they'll make it out before then, aggressive herding, as you called it, on Tuesday. Thanks, Kara.
HOLMES: Can you imagine finding $500 million just laying on the floor? Not the floor at the office, specifically here, we're talking about the ocean floor. These plastic tubs here are filled with gold and silver coins. We get more on this intriguing story and this intriguing find from Walt Makavorski (ph) from affiliate WFTS in Tampa, Florida.
WALT MAKAVORSKI, WFTS CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Tampa-based Odyssey Marine Exploration hit the mother lode. Their deep-sea explorers found what may be the richest sunken treasure ever discovered. This jet at an undisclosed airport in the United States is off-loading 17 tons of colonial-era silver and gold coins from a sunken ship in the Atlantic.
Just an amazing thing about gold. I don't care who you are, what age you are or what you do, there's something about gold and especially when that sunlight hits the gold.
MAKAVORSKI: Some divers in the bay area say this is what they live for.
KEVIN KIRK, VETERAN DIVER: This is really exciting, actually. I think every kid has dreamed about finding a wreck, myself included.
MAKAVORSKI: But veteran diver Kevin Kirk knows it's no easy task finding sunken treasure, even with the latest high-tech equipment.
KIRK: With all of that high-tech gear, with all of that, it still is unpredictable as sifting through sand looking for a needle in a hay stack. The treasure doesn't, isn't shiny. The treasure isn't glowing. The treasure blends in with everything else in the environment.
MAKAVORSKI: The shipwreck location is being heavily guarded for fear of looting from modern-day pirates. Countries may also try to lay claim to this treasure, which ties up ownership rights in the courts. And the location of the loot is also protected, out of the obvious fear of a high-level robbery. Each coin is worth about $1,000 with a total estimated value of $500 million. (END VIDEOTAPE)
HOLMES: Maybe find a $20 around the house sometimes. That report again from Walk Makavorski from affiliate WFTS in Tampa. The location of course as you heard there is unknown, but it is believed the treasure comes from a 400-year-old English ship not far off the British coast. So to be continued.
NGUYEN: Oh yes, definitely.
Well, firefighters are gaining ground against a massive wildfire in Florida. Right now it is about 70 percent contained, but officials say wind and rising temperatures this weekend could kick things up once again. That fire has burned more than 120,000 acres. It started earlier this month along the Georgia/Florida state line.
HOLMES: All right, we will turn to some weather. It's been certainly nasty weather story for a lot of folks, dealing with fires around the country. Bonnie Schneider in with us this weekend keeping an eye on the weather situation around the country, but also out and about, checking out a walk for autism today. Hello to you, Bonnie.
BONNIE SCHNEIDER, CNN METEOROLOGIST: Hi, T.J. and Betty. This is the finish line and it's a three-mile walk for over 10,000 walkers here in Atlanta, but walkers are walking for autism all over the country. Take a look around me. You can see there are thousands of people here. But as I mentioned, 60 walks have been happening since last fall. They'll go straight until June. If you'd like more information, go ahead to the Web site, autismwalk.org and you can find out if there is a walk happening in your city.
Now, I want to talk about the weather because of the wildfires. We still have a very serious situation. As you can see here in Georgia, it's hot and dry and breezy. That's not a good situation for the firefighters. Take a look at the weather map, and you'll find that we still have clear conditions over north Florida and into Georgia, as well. And we're looking at lots of sunshine there. That's the problem because the humidity is low, breezy conditions and we have warm temperatures. That's really making for some tough conditions for firefighters.
Elsewhere across the country, we're also watching a strong coastal storm that's bringing about wind and rain across much of New England, particularly into the Boston area, up towards Maine. Take a look at high temperatures for today. You'll find some hot numbers across the board. We are definitely looking at some hot conditions.
Now we're looking at radar, but that will show you that we are looking at wind and rain is happening across the area. There are the temperatures and you can see 100 degrees into the Phoenix area. We're looking at a high of 84 in Orlando, 77 here in Atlanta. So that's some good news. You know, here at the walk for autism, they've raised over $1 million. The money isn't just staying here in Atlanta. Over half of the funds they raised will go nationally to fight this disorder, to come up with a cure and to help with treatment. Betty, T.J.?
NGUYEN: It is such a good cause and it's great to see so many people coming out for that. And the weather's not bad, either. Thank you, Bonnie.
SCHNEIDER: It's beautiful.
NGUYEN: Yes, it is. And we want to talk about honoring Muslim beliefs while growing up in a pop culture world. Straight ahead in the NEWSROOM, we are uncovering America. Girls balancing their faith with the pressures of being a teenager.
HOLMES: And tonight, an honor student gunned down by gang members on his way home from school. His dad, a police officer assigned to the gang crime unit. Violence across America and its deadly effect on the next generation. Be sure to catch an in-depth look tonight at 10:00 Eastern here in the CNN NEWSROOM with Rick Sanchez.
NGUYEN: Cheerleading, shopping, hanging out with friends. That's a typical teen girl's life. But for some Muslim-American teenagers, there are other worries, like how to keep the faith while facing the pressures of growing up. The story is part of our special "Uncovering America" series.
NGUYEN (voice-over): Bayyina and Nabilah Hassan are two Atlanta teenager sisters trying to navigate the sometimes rough world of growing up.
VOICE OF BAYYINA HASSAN, MUSLIM TEENAGER: Knowing where you belong, like in choosing your friends wisely. Because now, you're going through stages where you're trying to learn who to trust or who not to trust.
NABILAH HASSAN, MUSLIM TEENAGER: Peer pressure just by clothing, ways to dress and just all the negative influences.
NGUYEN: And they spend their free time like most American teens.
N. HASSAN: Hanging out with my friends, going to the movies, just doing different stuff with my friends.
B. HASSAN: I like to shop a lot.
NGUYEN: The Hassan sisters are featured in the latest issue of a brand new magazine for teens "Muslim Girl." The publication is designed to help Islamic teenage girls balance their faith in a pop culture world.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: As Muslim teens, we try to guard our modesty, you know, not to wear anything that will attract eyes. So that's kind of a challenge. NGUYEN: The Hassan sisters attend the WD Mohammed High School. It's one of roughly 182 private Islamic schools in the nation, according to the Department of Education. Nabilah says her faith helps her deal with the pressures facing a teenager.
N. HASSAN: It's just like maintaining to continue your faith. The average teenager gets into so much stuff because they don't really have guidance, but we feel like we have the right amount of guidance. We're not going to get into everything that everybody's getting involved with.
NGUYEN: The sisters wish non-Muslims would try to understand their religion more.
B. HASSAN: I think that the biggest things that they believe that we are terrorists because of all of this drama that's going on right now. But I think they just need to know that Muslims, we are very peaceful people. Well, at least, we try to be.
N. HASSAN: I think with the 9/11 attacks, you can't blame all Muslims as a whole for what a few people decide to do.
NGUYEN: Meantime, Nabilah and Bayyina are just worried about doing well in high school and getting into a good college.
N. HASSAN: At times, I can't wait to get out of the house. But my mom always tells me, just enjoy your youth while you can, and that's what I'm trying to do.
NGUYEN: A new publication "Muslim Girl" magazine is looking to help teens like the Hassan sisters. We're now joined by the editor in chief, Ausma Khan, joining us from Ottawa. First of all, "Muslim Girl" it's a really great magazine, but I want to know, how did the idea come about?
AUSMA KHAN, "MUSLIM GIRL" MAGAZINE: Well, before we launched "Muslim Girl" magazine, there really was nothing like this for our community, and we attended the Islamic Society of North America conference in 2005, and we heard from many girls and young women about how much they felt excluded or marginalized or misrepresented in mainstream media. And they really wanted a forum where their voices could be heard and their stories told in a positive and celebratory manner, so that's what we decided to do at the magazine and we wanted to connect these girls to one another and also to open up a broader dialogue with other communities.
NGUYEN: Well, it has to be a bit of a balancing act, because the Muslim community is pretty diverse. So how do you address that diversity?
KHAN: Well, that's actually a part of our editorial platform, is that we want the magazine to be as reflective of the actual North American Muslim community as possible. So the stories we tell are about girls from very different backgrounds from all over the country and we also have a lot of stories from girls from other parts of the world. So we are recognizing the diversity in our community and celebrating it.
NGUYEN: You know, we have a picture of that debut issue of "Muslim Girl." We're going to put it back up, that cover. It features a girl wearing a hajab (ph) and holding a U.S. flag. Tell us about the message that you're trying to send with this magazine.
KHAN: We really wanted to make an impact with that photo on the first cover and get people thinking about who Muslims in America are and how much a part of society that they are. And what message that we're trying to send to both Muslims and non-Muslims who pick up our magazine and look at it is that Muslims are your friends and your neighbors and they contribute in many positive ways to American society, that they think of themselves as Americans. So you haven't seen the whole story and we're here to tell you the other side of the story.
NGUYEN: Because these are teenagers like everybody else. They want to talk about fashion. They want to talk about dating, parental pressure, control, that kind of thing. So is it truly a teenager's magazine?
KHAN: Absolutely. I think we're talking about a lot of things that girls want to hear about. They want to hear about relationships. We have advice columns. They want to know about how to deal with friends at school, with parents, with teachers. They ask questions about boys. So in that way, it's very much a magazine for teens and for young women, but we're also talking about developing girls from within, developing their ideas, their intellect, their emotions and their spiritual achievements. So we try to give them tools to accomplish this in all areas of their lives.
NGUYEN: And what kind of response have you gotten?
KHAN: Overwhelmingly positive. We've heard a lot of great things from girls. We've heard even from parents and grandparents, people saying that, wow, we wish a magazine like this had been around when we were teenagers or when we were young women, because they're telling these great stories that they know are in the great community, but which we don't get to see very often.
NGUYEN: Like I said, it is really a fascinating magazine. It is a good cause, because like you said, there is plenty of people who wanted to see something like this and now it's finally here. Ausma Khan, editor in chief of "Muslim Girl" magazine, thanks for your time.
KHAN: Thank you very much.
HOLMES: Well, we've got our "water cooler" coming up next and just wait until you see what this guy can do on one leg.
NGUYEN: It is truly remarkable. It is the hottest video on the web, coming in just two shakes.
(COMMERCIAL BREAK) NGUYEN: All right, so, are you in the mood for a little light reading?
HOLMES: Light reading, all right.
NGUYEN: These books, check them out, are so tiny, they barely weigh anything at all.
HOLMES: This amazing, little collection on display in New York includes a 40-volume set of Shakespeare's works.
NGUYEN: Good luck reading it.
HOLMES: You actually need a microscope to read most of these things.
NGUYEN: Some of the books in the collection are hundreds of years old and the smallest is barely 1/3 inch square. Now, you actually need a needle to turn the tiny, little pages.
HOLMES: All right. Well, onto something now for people with more dollars than sense. Cantaloupes, a pair set a new record at the annual melon auction this week in Japan. A department store in Sapora (ph) paid $16,600 for two cantaloupes.
NGUYEN: Oh, my.
HOLMES: That's $8300 apiece.
NGUYEN: Boy, they could just have asked me, I would have shipped it to them, what, $29.99, three monthly installments, no big deal! Melons actually though are prized in Japan and frequently given as gifts. Still, $8,000 just for one cantaloupe? That's a lot, even in Japan, where it's not unusual to pay hundreds of dollars for just one from the grocery store.
HOLMES: All right.
And everybody's favorite this morning. We were trying to figure this out, trying to figure out if it was the real thing. A one-legged salsa dancer and his partner giving the folks on "Dancing with the Stars" a run for their money. The dude is jamming! This video on YouTube being e-mailed around the world, may be in your in-box as you speak.
NGUYEN: It is so incredible. OK, honestly, we assumed it might have been fake when we first saw it, but after watching it several times, this guy is either really, good or this is fake. But I think he's more of a fantastic salsa dancer. If you look really closely, I think it's the real deal. What do you think?
HOLMES: You can't figure it out. It looks too good and too well coordinated to be the real thing --
NGUYEN: Look at that! HOLMES: If you're out there, if you're listening, please give us a call. Let us know who you are and what you're doing here, because we'd like to see this.
NGUYEN: We want to investigate this.
HOLMES: Live in the studio at some point, if we could.
All right, we're going to turn to five times the fun now for one Florida family. Today, quintuplets graduate from high school. They're not that size anymore.
NGUYEN: Well, yeah.
HOLMES: We'll take you to their excited and exhausted mother, next hour. She'll talk to us.
NGUYEN: She needs a vacation!
Then at noon, if you think you're rinsing your produce or using those vegetables sprays will be enough to kill that deadly bacteria oh, you'd better think again. Chief medical correspondent Dr. Sanjay Gupta takes a closer look at what works and what does not.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
HOLMES: Time for us now to check in with Kiran Chetry to see what's coming up on Monday on "American Morning" and of course, to talk about the other big stories of the week. Hello
KIRAN CHETRY, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Hi T.J., good to see you. We've been talking all week about gas prices. How much are they down in Atlanta right now?
HOLMES: I think we're hitting around the $3 mark.
CHETRY: Right in line with the national average. Of course in places in California they're almost hitting $4, some places above $4. And so we're going to stay on top of the reasons why we're seeing this jump in gas prices. Also this week, we talked to Gulf CEO Joe Petrowski about just how bad it's going to get.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CHETRY: Where does it end for consumers? What are they looking toward as we head into the summer months, when demand for fuel is much higher and we typically see prices rise?
JOE PETROWSKI, PRES. & CEO, GULF OIL: I honestly think that prices will be cheaper on Labor Day than they are today, and probably cheaper in a month or so. I think we really were hurt by some terrible spring turn-around season in the refinery business. Refinery margins of 80 cents a gallon are not sustainable.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CHETRY: Looks like they're blaming the refineries for this latest jump in prices, T.J.
HOLMES: All right. Well, we'll be looking at another official candidate for president coming up on Monday. This one on the Democratic side because of course, we don't have enough running for president just yet.
NGUYEN: Not at all. We need to be way in the double digits. And Governor Bill Richardson is actually announcing on Monday. There is also a lot of news about the Republican candidates this week. Of course, they had their second debate. Things got a little bit fiery. We heard from Ron Paul, who's the Libertarian candidate, sort of egging on Rudy Giuliani in some good exchanges there. So hopefully, we'll be looking forward to much more when we talk about the political candidates and the presidential race as it heats up.
And also, the death of the Reverend Jerry Falwell certainly a defining week for conservatives. We talked to Tony Perkins at the Family Research Council, who was quite critical of pro-choice Rudy Giuliani. He liked a few of the other GOP candidates that he saw at the debate, but he also left the door open for his dream candidate.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TONY PERKINS, PRES., FAMILY RESEARCH COUNCIL: I think Governor Romney comes across well as understanding the issues.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: And you're satisfied, even though his position on abortion has changed?
PERKINS: I think that his present position is his true position. I don't question that. I think even John McCain, on the issue of abortion, we had some issues with him on embryonic stem cell research, but I think there's an opening for another conservative candidate and I think that's why Fred Thompson, there's so much interest surrounding him.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CHETRY: There's been a lot of people courting Fred Thompson, polling above some of the other candidates even though he has not even announced he's running T.J.
HOLMES: Not yet, so we will stay tuned for that. What else can we look forward to you'll have next week?
CHETRY: Well, as you know, my co-anchor John Roberts, he talked to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi. We are going to stay on top of the rising gas prices, an important issue for many, many families and we're also looking at other ways that families are being squeezed. You probably already noticed it at the grocery store, the cost of food going way up. Part of it tied to gas prices but there are other reasons, too and so we're going to be doing a special in-depth look at just why it's getting so expensive from the field to the table. T.J.
HOLMES: All right, Kiran, we'll see you next week and when, of course, that's week days beginning at 6:00 a.m., "American Morning" with Kiran Chetry and John Roberts. We will see you there. Kiran, good to see you.
CHETRY: You, too.
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