Return to Transcripts main page


President Bush Undergoes Colonoscopy; Candidates Spreading Word on the Web; Taliban German Hostage Died; Taliban Determining South Korean Church Medical Volunteers Fate

Aired July 21, 2007 - 12:00   ET


MELISSA LONG, CNN ANCHOR: Straight ahead this hour on CNN, it is brutal, it was almost banned, but now it is booming. We're going to take a closer look at violent new sport of mixed martial arts.
Also, Muggle mania erupts around the globe as the new Harry Potter book hits store shelves.

And we have a sneak peek at your questions from the CNN/YouTube debate. The news is unfolding live on this Saturday, July 21. I'm Melissa Long in for Fredricka Whitfield and you are in the NEWSROOM.

First up, President Bush is back in charge, reclaiming authority shortly after an early morning colon screening. Five polyps were found in that examination. White House correspondent Elaine Quijano is live at the White House.

ELAINE QUIJANO, CNN NEWS CORRESPONDENT: Hello to you, Melissa. That's right, President Bush underwent that colonoscopy this morning at Camp David, the presidential retreat in Maryland. Doctors did find five polyps all of them described as small, less than a centimeter and all of them were removed.

Now, the White House, just moments ago, released a photo after the colonoscopy itself. It shows President Bush walking along with his chief of staff, Josh Bolton, and the president's dog, of course, the first dog, Barney.

Now, White House spokesman, Scott Stansel (ph) says, as for the polyps themselves, none of them appeared "worrisome" to doctors. He says doctors were not at all surprised to find those polyps. Why? Because other polyps have been found before during other colonoscopies.

In 1998 before his time in office as president, when he was governor, doctors found two polyps. In 1999, as well, doctors found two more polyps. Now, the president had another colonoscopy in 2002 and doctors at that time did not find any polyps. They did recommend that he have the procedure once more five years later. We're at that point now, 2007, when doctors again found five this morning.

Now, the polyps are going to be examined under a microscope at National Naval Medical Center in suburban Washington. We should have results in the next 48 to 72 hours or so. As the president was undergoing this procedure, because he was under the effects of anesthesia, he temporarily handed over his presidential powers to Vice President Dick Cheney who was at his home on the eastern shore of Maryland and while the president was waiting for that anesthesia to fully wear off, it was about two hours or so, that, in fact, the power had been transferred to the vice president. But Mr. Bush has now resumed his duties as president of the United States. He's going to be having some briefings today with his national security adviser, Stephen Hadley, also with his chief of staff, Josh Bolton. And the president, Melissa, is described as being in very good spirits. In fact, he is going to be taking a bike ride from what we understand, later this afternoon.

LONG: A lot of people are groggy after that type of procedure. Clearly he doesn't seem to be too groggy today. While power had been transferred to the vice president, anything of importance take place this morning?

QUIJANO: No, in fact what we are told by White House spokesman, Scott Stansal, is in fact there was nothing warranting any kind of presidential action to be taken during that time. Again, we understand it was about two hours. The procedure itself did not last that long, from what we understand. It only took about 30 minutes, 31 minutes or so. Because of the effects of the anesthesia, of course, the transfer of power actually lasted a little bit longer than that, about two hours and five minutes in all, we're told.

LONG: Elaine Quijano from the White House. Elaine, thank you.

And some things you might want to know about colon cancer. Health officials expect more than 112,000 new cases to be diagnosed in the U.S. this year. It is the fourth most common type of cancer, 90 percent of cases show up in people over the age of 50. Early diagnosis is key to survival.

Some new numbers are out in the Democratic race for the White House. Want to share them with you. The latest CNN Opinion Research Poll of primary voters in South Carolina shows Hillary Clinton leading with 39 percent; Barack Obama, 25 percent; John Edwards with 15 percent support. And al though Al Gore says he has no plans to run, 10 percent of voters in South Carolina want him in. None of the other contenders topped two percent.

All of the candidates are spreading their word on the Web, some doing it better than others. CNN chief national correspondent, John King takes a look.

JOHN KING, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): He made his mark as a grassroots organizer the old fashioned way, clipboards and shoe leather. Note the typewriter in this photo from a Chicago voter registration drive back in 1992. But fast forward to campaign 2008. No typewriters here, the architects of working constantly to spread the word.


KING: On YouTube, MySpace, Flickr, not to mention the official campaign Web site where a click or two finds the next event in a town near you or perhaps just a new ring tone.

RINGTONE: Obama, oh, oh. Go! Go! Go!

KING: Four years ago, Howard Dean put Internet fund-raising on the map, but failed to turn his on-line money and buzz into enough votes. One reason the Dean campaign veteran who runs the Obama Web operation puts so much emphasis on helping supporters organize.

JOE ROSPARS, OBAMA DIRECTOR OF NEW MEDIA: Folks are forming their own grassroots volunteer groups. There's over 5,000 across the country. Each one of the tools is a piece of the campaign that an individual supporter can own and use to evangelize to their friends.

KING: Every campaign has an Internet presence these days. John Edwards put a premium on social networking sites from Facebook to MySpace to BeBo. Hillary Clinton likewise gets high marks from Web watchers for a creative site, an attention-grabbing videos.

One key target of all the campaign is younger voters. Among all Americans, 15 percent said they relied most on the Internet for political news in the 2006 cycle, double the number from 2002. But among those under the age of 36 who have broadband connections, 35 percent say the Internet is their main source of political news.

JOHN WALSH, FRM. PATRICK CAMPAIGN MGR.: Maybe you're not going to meet them at the chicken dinner or the political meeting but they're instinct lively going to the Web for their information and so you catch them there.

KING: John Walsh helped Duval Patrick go from underdog to governor of Massachusetts in 2006, in part, through Internet organizing he jokes, took some time to learn and to trust.

WALSH: The first heard "blog" was in this campaign. I described my technical expertise this way, I don't know how they put the little people in my TV set, but I know how to use the clicker.

CHRIS HUGHES, FACEBOOK: if I click on Nevada, for instance, to see who my friends are, who are supporting the campaign there.

KING: Chris Hughes is among the founders of Facebook and now among the 20-something's looking to prove the power of Internet organizing. Almost 20,000 people so far have downloaded a special Facebook application to help Obama supporters lobby their friends in early primary and caucus states.

HUGHES: The idea is that I'm reaching out to people I know. I know all of these people I went to high school from her, I knew him from college. We chose to launch and offer a tool set that is more focused on organizing rather than not necessarily having an enjoyable time on the Web site.

KING: In other words, talking blog, and swap videos all you want, but don't lose sight of the basics and the bottom line.

(END VIDEOTAPE) LONG: That report from our chief national correspondent, John King who joins us now live from Charleston, South Carolina. Site of the first of its kind CNN/YouTube debate, is actually just two days away now. And we see that the campaigns are using the Web to tap into the younger voters. Turning to the debate, are the questions that are coming in from the Web also from the younger voters?

KING: They are from across the spectrum, Melissa. And that what makes this so fascinating. Yes, there are a lot of questions from younger voters. But I think what we are seeing as we try this revolutionary format is that the mainstreaming of the Internet across America. We're getting questions from older Americans asking about Social Security and their healthcare costs. From parents asking about college costs, from young Americans, too, asking about things anywhere from the Iraq war to healthcare to college costs to gay rights. But it is an amazing spectrum. We're over the 2,000 mark in number of questions submitted. We still have until Sunday if you want to download or upload a question, I guess is the right word, and get it into the YouTube debate.

So, what we are seeing here is yes, the campaigns use it to reach all voters, but they think with a special emphasis on younger voters. But in the questions coming in so far we're proving power of the Internet and how it's mainstreaming across America, which is why it's so important for all campaigns and why we think we have quite a creation in the YouTube debate, Monday night.

LONG: Plus, we've been discussing, of course, the Internet and these blogs can help the underdogs with their political campaigns, but also can sometimes catch them in a not positive light which can hurt the campaign, as well.

KING: Well, one of the things, if you go to the campaign headquarters -- we went to Obama, this week, we've talk with some of the others as well, they say one of the key decisions, you have to make if you want to run a real and a thorough Internet operation is to recognize that you have to give up control. That you have to put information out there that most times will be used properly by your supporters, but sometimes people can use, plus other people can use their own Web sites, as well.

We've seen "Obama Girl" hit. There's a Hillary video up. People going after Rudy Giuliani. So, one of the things you have to do, if you accept this technology, is understand that there come some uncertainty and unpredictability, some things you don't like, with all of the benefits of being able to reach people in this extraordinary quick and extraordinary global way.

LONG: Yeah, it's embracing new technology, but at the same time giving up control. John King, thanks so much. We will see you, of course, throughout the day and of course, on Mondays as well.

And once again, CNN, again, is raising the bar in the presidential debates. And as you can see, you can take part as well. Anderson Cooper will be hosting Monday's Democratic debate. It is the first of its kind event, it is live and interactive, it is on television and on-line. The CNN/YouTube debate.

You can see the Republican candidates debate in September on Monday, the 17th. So, submit your questions right now. To do so, just logon to CNN, your political headquarters.

Now, the story of central Massachusetts, firefighters from dozens of communities are trying to control a huge fire at a sprawling mill complex. The fire broke out about eight hours ago and so far, no serious injuries are reported.

The three-story building houses about 65 businesses. Around three dozen communities in Massachusetts and even Rhode Island have sent firefighters and ambulances to the scene.

Firefighters in Utah are battling to keep that wildfire from reaching a town about 85 miles south of Salt Lake City. The fire has scorched over 24 square miles since Thursday burning a campground, and a motel and forcing several rescues. Fire officials think the fire started with sparks from a flat tire. With the very latest on whether or not they'll get rain in the Utah area, also check on the weekend weather forecast all around the country.

Hi Reynolds.



BONNIE SCHNEIDER, CNN NEWS CORRESPONDENT: Exactly what's inside this book? Harry Potter fans don't have to wait anymore. Harry Potter and the deathly hallows is now on sale. I'm Bonnie Schneider. I'll have that story, coming up.


LONG: And what's the most likely result for U.S. troops in Iraq? America's generals are speaking out on what they see coming in the months ahead.


LONG: You're in the NEWSROOM on this Saturday. In Afghanistan, a foreign ministry spokesman says a German has died of a heart attack while being held hostage by the Taliban. But, he says a second German hostage is still alive. That differs from comments today from a Taliban spokesman who says the group shot both men to death because Germany has not pulled its troops out of the country.

The spokesman also says later today Taliban leaders will decide the fate of 18 kidnapped South Korean church volunteers. South Korea puts that number at 23, most of them women, doing volunteer medical work in Afghanistan.

Some progress to report in Iraq's notorious Anbar Province, but that does not translate into U.S. troop cuts. CNN senior Pentagon correspondent, Jamie McIntyre, explains. (BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

JAMIE MCINTYRE, CNN SR. PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): U.S. military says, the wild west of Anbar Province, a former al Qaeda stronghold, is a success story. Last week, there were only 98 violent indents in Anbar, compared to 428 for the same week a year ago. So, the surge forces should be able to leave, right? Not so fast, says their commander.

MAJ. GEN. WALTER GASKIN, U.S. MARINE CORPS: The key to this is having persistent presence, but I don't see it happening overnight. I believe another couple of years, in order to get that to that.

MCINTYRE: A surge force of 2,200 marines been extended 30 days in Anbar, to help lock in the gains of the past month. And that illustrates a common misconception, that if the surge succeeds it will allow U.S. troops to leave, while in fact, success may create more pressure for troops to stay until Iraqi forces can step in.

Here's what Major General Rick Lynch, another commander, told the "A.P.": "It's going to take me into next spring and summer to generate this sustained security presence."

So what about the September review? The No. 2 commander in Iraq seemed to say he wants more time.

LT. GEN. RAY ODIERNO, U.S. ARMY: In order to do a good assessment I need until November to do that assessment...

MCINTYRE: That apparently offhand comment drew a quick rebuke from the Senate Republican leader who doesn't want to see November become the new September.

SEN MITCH MCCONNELL (R), MINORITY LEADER: And I think September is the critical month.

MCINTYRE: In a statement, General Odierno insisted he was not moving the goal post, saying, "My reference to November was suggesting that as we go forward beyond September we will gain more understanding of the trends."

But one trend is clear, U.S. commanders don't want to see the surge end too soon.

GEN. JAMES CONWAY, U.S. MARINE CORPS COMMANDANT: If we pull out and are perceived to be pulling out without having achieved a measure of success, they win.

MCINTYRE (on camera): The consensus of the general is that the biggest mistake of past was pulling out U.S. troops too soon. So, general David Petraeus is going to have a hard time recommending troop cuts, if his commanders are dead set against it.

Jamie McIntyre, CNN, the Pentagon.

(END VIDEOTAPE) LONG: The book, this one, has arrived. We're going to show you how Harry Potter fans are reacting today.

And could you survive without any products made in China? We will introduce you to one family that has tried.


LONG:, hope you'll check out our Web site and see how our iReporters are weighing in, showing their love for all things Harry Potter. If you do so, logon to CNN, as you know, just got even better with the most news video on the Web.

Boy wizard, Harry Potter, is working that magic again. The seventh and final book of the series is creating Muggle mania in bookstores all across the globe. Volumes began flying off the shelves at the witching hour and Bonnie Schneider braving a sea of Hogwarts wannabes.


SCHNEIDER: How excited are you to get this book?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: On a scale of one to 10? Twenty million!

Schneider (voice-over): This fan is not alone. In book stores around the world like this Barnes & Noble in Marietta, Georgia, wizard lovers waited in line for hours to get their copy of J.K. Rowling's "Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows." Kids of all ages came dressed as their favorite character to celebrate the arrival of the long- anticipated last book of the popular series.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Nothing was more important than this, like seriously I've been planning this since I knew when it was coming out.

SCHNEIDER: As the excitement built toward the midnight release, fans came up with their own scenarios as to how the seven-book series may end.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We actually printed out sheets of different scenarios, what you think will happen. It's kind of like March madness. We all decide what we think will happen and then we're going to compare predictions.

SCHNEIDER: Finally, it's 12:01 and the wait is over. Fans couldn't get their hands on the bright orange covered book fast enough.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I am the most excited girl in the world. I have been waiting for this all, like since the last book came out. This is the happiest day of my life.

Schneider (on camera): Once fans get a copy of "Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows," the question is, when reading the book, do they start with the first page or the last?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The last page and then the whole thing straight through.

SCHNEIDER: Not everyone agrees.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Don't ruin it by looking at the ending first.

SCHNEIDER: Bonnie Schneider, CNN, Marietta, Georgia.


LONG: And one young fan says the book smells like magic. With us now, three young readers deep into the "Deathly Hallows," 11-year- old Jesse Chung joins us from Washington, thank you so much for; 14- year-old Amy Heagan is in London, and by my side, 12-year-old Madison Rudnick who's here in Atlanta.

Thanks so much everybody for joining us, we appreciate it. Well, you must be -- I would imagine exhausted since many were up at midnight. I have to set some ground rules, here. In case any of you have gotten far into the book we can't give way secrets. OK? We don't want to spoil it for anybody that happens to be listening.

So, let me start with the young lady to my side. Madison, how are you enjoying the book so far? Have you been sneaking peeks at ending?

MADISON RUDNICK, HARRY POTTER FAN: No, I'm really determined to keep the ending a secret, but I'm loving the beginning. It's so awesome.

LONG: It's really good? OK, let's check in with Amy and Jesse. Now, Jesse, have you been sneaking peek or are you just trying going page by page? And how far are you?

JESSE CHUNG, HARRY POTTER FAN: I'm halfway through. I haven't looked at the end at all.

LONG: You're a fast reader. And then Amy, what about you? How's your reading going?

AMY HEAGAN, HARRY POTTER FAN: Good. I'm on page 402. Quite far in.

LONG: You're almost halfway done, too. OK.

HEAGAN: I'm over halfway, yeah.

LONG: OK, so I just have this basic question, for those that have never read the Harry Potter series and don't understand why it's so engrossing, what is it Amy, that has just captivated your attention over the years about this book?

HEAGAN: Well, I have been reading it since I was eight years old, so it really has captivated me for that long. I just love the magical world. I love imagining being a Hogwarts. The characters, the way J.K. Rowling has like developed the characters over the years, I think, is amazing. I think she's a great writer.

LONG: I was going ask Jesse the same question. This is a story about good, evil, about coming of age. Jesse, do you also see yourself in the book?

CHUNG: Yeah. I got -- read the books when I was really little and I've always really liked them. It would be really great to be in those books.

LONG: And who would wow want to be, if you were in the book?

CHUNG: Well, personally I would really like to be Harry, because he's the main character and all of the action happens around him.

LONG: OK. What about you, Madison? Can you see yourself in the book?

RUDNICK: Yes. It would be very exciting to visit the schools of magic at Hogwarts.

LONG: What is it about J.K. Rowling's writing that just has just kept your interest over the years and had you reading until 2:00 in the morning and standing in line until midnight last night?

RUDNICK: All the figurative language, the very creative dialogue in all of the books between the characters.

LONG: Some very well-spoken people joining me for this segment. I also want to ask you about this story itself. It has caught your attention for all of these years. Do you think this is something you'll be paying attention to five years from now, 10 years from now, you'll be talking about, you know, when you're in college? Amy, what do you think?

HEAHAN: Well, (INAUDIBLE), but I say if I have kids, one of the things I'm most excited about having children that is I can read the Harry Potter books to them which some people are like, that's crazy. But that's how much I love them. And I think what I'm going to get them to read a book every year, so they have to wait like I did and can't just all get it at once. So, yes, I will be.

LONG: And Jesse, what about you. Do you think you'll be embracing the story for years to come?

CHUN: Well, yeah, I'm definitely going to keep all my books to make sure that I have them when my children grow up and read them to them.

LONG: There's a lot said about kids that you have so many things at your disposal, you have iPods, you have video games, cable, the Internet. What is it about this book that just keeps you reading this book? And do you read other books as well that just get your attention as much?

RUDNICK: I read other books, too. But this is my favorite, because it's so imaginative. It just really keeps you hooked on it. LONG: So, are there any other books that will even fill the space for you, once you close the chapter on this series?

RUDNICK: I'll have to see.

LONG: Is there anything else that you happen to be reading right now that just even grabs your attention to stay up late at night until 2:00 in the morning?

RUDNICK: Well, there's a book that only has the first and the second book in the series. I hope they make a third one, it's called "The Divide."

LONG: OK, all right. And just before I let you all go, I know you said you're about halfway through the book. You're getting through it today. Did you plan to take breaks for dining, to hang out with friends or you just going to get through this book -- Amy.

HEAGAN: No, I read the book in my bed and I ate my lunch in bed. And, no, I'm just planning on reading it the whole way through.

LONG: And Jesse, what about you. You're halfway through, same thing?

CHUNG: Yeah. I think I'm just going to continue reading it and then I'll have all my male meals after that.

LONG: And Madison, you of course came into our studio, as well, took a break from reading. You're be done, hoping to finish by?

RUDNICK: I'm not sure. Since it's the last book in the series I'm kind of hoping to save it and not read it as fast as the other ones.

LONG: All right, trying to savor it. Madison Rudnick, thanks so much for stopping by CNN. Amy Heagan, thanks so much for stopping by the studios in London. And Jesse, as well, thank you for coming in from Washington. We appreciate your expertise and for sharing why you love this book so much. Thank you.

Now, some say it's a sport whose popularity is spreading. Others say, it's barbaric and has no place in the public arena. We're going to take you inside the world of mixed martial arts.

Is your home cost you and the environment more than it should? There's something you can do about it. CNN's Bonnie Schneider explains in this week's "Modern Living."


SCHNEIDER (voice-over): Brenda Gallagher says her family was considering a move, but were caught in a weak housing market.

BRENDA GALLAGHER, DOING A GREEN RENOVATION: We noticed that a couple houses in the neighborhood didn't sell for quite as much as we thought they were worth. SCHNEIDER: Instead of selling their home they decided to fix the place up. She hired a contractor Matt Hoots to weather seal her doors and windows, and reinsulated the crawl space below her house.

GALLAGHER: This room was freezing cold and once the insulation went up, it was amazing how the air balanced out in the house.

SCHNEIDER: Matt specializes in earth friendly and energy efficient homes. He says buying all new windows is usually where homeowners want to begin.

MATT HOOTS, ECO-FRIENDLY CONTRACTOR: This can be one of the more expensive items replaced when you could just modify the windows, use weather stripping to work with the existing windows.

SCHNEIDER: He also says if you want hardwood floors, consider switching to bamboo, cork or recycled wood.

HOOTS: You're not using new, fresh wood. And the second thing is this is not going to end up the landfill. Forty percent of the landfills are filled with waste debris from construction sites.

SCHNEIDER: With this week's "Modern Living," I'm Bonnie Schneider.


LONG: Happening now, the powers of the Oval Office are now back in the hands of President Bush. It was just hours ago he temporarily transferred authority to Vice President Dick Cheney as Mr. Bush underwent a colonoscopy. The White House says doctors removed five small polyps during the procedure, but none appeared worrisome.

In Britain, thousands of people flee to higher ground as the floodwaters rise. The hardest-hit area, central England. More than a dozen severe flood warnings are now in place and the Royal Air Force has been called in to help rescue hundreds of people stranded by the high water, animals as well.

Mixed martial arts, it is a controversial sport that is gaining a following here in the U.S., but despite a growing fan base, critics call the sport too savage and they're pushing for tougher restrictions.

CNN's Brianna Keilar reports.


BRIANNA KEILAR, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): It's a sport that tests a fighter's endurance and will. It's called mixed martial arts, a combination of boxing, kickboxing, wrestling, judo, and jujitsu.

MICHAEL COLES, FORMER KICKBOXING CHAMPION: It's probably one of the toughest if not the toughest, sport to compete in. KEILAR: Mixed martial arts was introduced in the United States in the early '90s, with little regulation and was quickly labeled too violent by critics. Back in 1995, Arizona Senator John McCain wanted it banned altogether.

SEN. JOHN MCCAIN, (R) ARIZONA: It appeals to the lowest common denominator in our society.

KEILAR: This style of fighting emphasizes repeated punches, kicks, elbows and knees, all of which became labeled as too savage. But the sport has a fan base. Washington recently hosted its first MMA event with a near sell-out crowd on hand.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I think I'm in shock. I can't believe people would really fight that hard to hurt each other. So I just got to see it.

KEILAR: Organizers say they take the safety of the fighters into account, but medical experts suggest there is still room for improvement.

DR. CLARKE HOLMES, GEORGETOWN UNIVERSITY: The head injuries are still very high. You look at a recent study, approximately 28 percent of the match stoppages were due to blunt head trauma. That's a very high percentage. We'd like to see that percentage go down.

KEILAR: MMA organizers contend they've made the sport safer by using highly trained referees and eliminating some of the more dangerous techniques. The end result: 19 states and Washington, D.C. now allow promoters to stage mixed martial arts events, and Senator McCain says he's satisfied.

MCCAIN: I don't particularly care for it, but I don't have objection to it now that they've changed the rules so that it is far less barbaric.

COLES: We're going to have people who are a little, you know, apprehensive about it because of -- it is a violent sport, but as long as people want to do it and there's a market for it, I say let it happen.

KEILAR: There are several mixed martial arts brands out there for fight fans, and with annual revenue in the tens of millions of dollars, the sport appears to be here to stay.

Brianna Keilar, CNN, Washington.


LONG: We want you to take one moment to check this out. An iReport sent in to us from Tampa, Florida, and that is -- yes, lightning and a rainbow. It's Craig Dean that sent it to us. He works at a restaurant and ran out to catch this image when the customers told him what was going on outside. It is beautiful. I don't know, maybe he is searching for that pot of gold at the end of the rainbow, as well. Reynolds Wolf checking in with us once again with the weather forecast.

I love rainbows. They're so cheerful.


LONG: Well, some are asking, is it safe? Is it even safe to buy products made in China? Ahead in the NEWSROOM, we will meet one family that's trying to avoid anything with that label.


LAURA BEGLEY, TRAVEL + LEISURE: Getting elite status on an airline can help make traveling a much more pleasant experience. There are a lot of perks from elite status. Everything from first- class upgrades to shorter lines at security and while boarding the plane.

Be loyal to one carrier, and if you have to use another airline, look for one of its partners. Ask your airline if it has any programs that offer shortcuts to elite status. Oftentimes, these programs aren't advertised.

If you're close to getting elite status, and the year is about to run out, you might want to consider taking a low-cost flight somewhere to get the number of miles that'll push you to the elite level. Another option, if you're close to elite status, is to ask the airline if they'll let you pay to upgrade to the next level.

Keep in mind that, in most cases, elite status is based on the number of miles that you actually fly. Points accrued from car rentals, hotel stays, and credit cards don't usually get you there.



LONG: China's trying to improve its product safety image. The government has shut down three companies linked to tainted products. Two of the companies were implicated in dozens of pet deaths in the U.S. and a third company was accused of selling a chemical found in antifreeze that wound up in cough syrup and other medicines in Panama that killed at least 94 people.

You might be surprised to learn that a lot of the food we consume comes from China. But eliminating Chinese imports on the menu isn't too easy.

Medical Correspondent Elizabeth Cohen went shopping with Sara Bongiorni, author of "A Year Without Made in China."


ELIZABETH COHEN, CNN MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): For one year, Sara Bongiorni tried to avoid everything made in China. (on camera): You didn't buy shoes made in China ...


COHEN: You didn't buy toys made in China.


COHEN: But when it came to food, different story.

BONGIORNI: Well, I also tried to avoid it. But as I said, I had no idea because the labels don't tell you much at all as much label reading as I did. There's no way I could know whether or not I was buying something with ingredients from China.

COHEN (voice-over): Even with all the safety concerns about foods from China, most of the time, there's no way of knowing if a product contains Chinese ingredients. For the most part, food companies aren't required to label where their ingredients come from, so they don't. This was evident as we shopped with Bongiorni.

BONGIORNI: This one told me it was a product of China right there.

COHEN (on camera): But this was really -- to see "made in China" on the label was the exception?

BONGIORNI: Absolutely, that's right.

COHEN (voice-over): Consumer groups are outraged that shoppers have no way of knowing where their food comes from.

CAROLINE SMITH DEWAAL, CENTER FOR SCIENCE IN THE PUBLIC INTEREST: It's almost impossible to completely avoid foods made in China because they become ingredients in so many other products.

COHEN: Like what? Here's a small sampling, and some you might not expect. Apple juice, freeze-dried berries, like the ones in this cereal and instant coffee. Other examples, tea and pine nuts. Another big concern, although it is labeled, seafood like talapia and shrimp.

Safety concerns prompted the FDA this month to ban the import of Chinese seafood until it's proven to be safe. But one part of the supermarket Sara feels confident about is the produce section.

BONGIORNI: Very often on the little sticker, it'll say product of Guatemala or product of Chile. So, you can be pretty safe there, I think.

COHEN: Sara's year-long experiment is over. Her lesson learned: you can avoid many Chinese products, but when it comes to food, most of the time, you have no idea where it comes from.

BONGIORNI: It's interesting, you know, the source of your tennis shoes but you don't know the source of your packaged foods. COHEN: Elizabeth Cohen, CNN, Baton Rouge, Louisiana.


LONG: As you know, the British Open is under way in Scotland. Is Tiger in the hunt? We have a live report for you, coming up.


REYNOLDS WOLF, CNN METEOROLOGIST: I'm Reynolds Wolf with a look at today's allergy report.

And any spot around the country where you happen to see green or blue on this map would indicate spots where you have very clean air. However, where you have yellows and even orange across the Central Plains, the central Rockies, and even in the Pacific Northwest, you've high traces of ragweed and pollen. So, if you have respiratory problems, you're going to want to take it easy.

Enjoy your day.



LONG: Breaking news story on the southern tip of South America out of Argentina. We are learning of a 6.2 magnitude earthquake. Getting this information from Reuters right now. Of course, CNN working to gather information on this earthquake. It's the USGS -- it's the U.S. Geological Survey that says it was 6.2, happened about 12:34 in the afternoon local time, that was just about two hours ago now, a little more than two hours ago.

As we get more information on this earthquake, we'll bring it to you here this afternoon on CNN.

Also, Reynolds Wolf is keeping an eye on this 6.2 quake.

Reynolds, what can you tell us?

WOLF: Well, I can tell you it's a fairly significant earthquake. Only about 100 of these take place around the planet throughout the year. Many of these take place well under sea, and we're not exposed to them. But this one, just to the east of Tarija (ph), that is just near where Bolivia and Argentina meet, this is a fairly remote area. However, with a very significant earthquake like this, some damage can be expected.

Again, as you mentioned, we're working the wires, working the story, trying to garner as much information as we possibly can. But as I mentioned, it is well to the very north of Argentina, right near the Argentinian and Bolivian border.

And we will work that story for you and try to get the latest information. But that is certainly a big area, a significant earthquake. Melissa, back to you.

LONG: Reynolds, great information for us.

WOLF: You bet.

LONG: Thank you. And again, we will keep everybody posted.

Now, in Scotland, a struggle for Tiger Woods as he is trying to come out on top, as he tries to defend back-to-back British Open titles. Nasty weather is making conditions less than ideal. It is Scotland, after all.

CNN's Don Riddell is with us from Carnoustie, Scotland.


DON RIDDELL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Hi, Melissa. Thanks very much.

The weather isn't perfect, but it's perhaps not as bad as some of the forecasts we were expecting. We're approaching the end of the third round, a day's worth of action here at Carnoustie in Scotland as we speak.

Sergio Garcia is setting this -- for the pace, the young Spaniard, nine under par, playing very well today. He's had a few birdies, but the biggest movers of the leader board have actually been a couple of Americans. Chris Demarco (ph), who was the runner-up here last year in the British Open, has shot a five under par round today.

And Steve Stricker (ph) equaled the course record of 64 with a seven under par round. He actually lost his tour card a few years ago. He actually lost his tour card a few years ago. He hasn't won since 2001, but he's hit a very rich vein of form. He was second in his last event and he's playing very well here, and he's very much in contention, of course, for the final round tomorrow.

The man everybody wants to know about, of course, is Tiger Woods. He was reasonable today. He shot a 69, he is in contention, but he's got a bit of work to do tomorrow.


TIGER WOODS, DEFENDING BRITISH OPEN CHAMPION: Not as pleased as I'd like to have it, that's for sure. But it's good enough, as I've got myself in contention. Hopefully tomorrow I'll be a little bit sharper and maybe I can putt just as well as I did today.


RIDDELL: As I say, he's in contention, bit of work to do, and the weather could well have a big say in the final rounds played tomorrow. But at the moment, Sergio Garcia, setting the pace and leading the way.

LONG: Don Riddell live from Carnoustie, Scotland. Thank you. Well, we've asked you to give us questions for the presidential candidates. You've come through, thank you, sometimes in some very unexpected ways. That is coming up in the NEWSROOM.



UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Good evening, I'm Thomas Query (ph) of Auburn, California. For all candidates, would you be willing to disclose a complete history of your prescription drug use for the last five years? The last thing we need in the White House, at this time, is more flawed leadership. And we voters should know the state of your physical and mental health before finally deciding who gets our votes.

Thanks very much, and good evening.


LONG: Thanks so much for sending in your questions for our YouTube debates. We've been reminding you about the Democratic candidates' first ever CNN/YouTube presidential debate. It is on Monday night. Then the Republicans will debate September 17th, and that, too, will be on YouTube and CNN.

You again have been sending in your questions. Some are quite interesting, to say the least.

Here's CNN's Jeanne Moos with a sample.


JEANNE MOOS, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): As they prepare the presidential debates set, wait 'til you see the latest set of questions for the candidates.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Do you really believe that God exists?

MOOS: Do you really believe some of these questions exist? Submitted to YouTube by a dolphin -- by an alien.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: My name is one among many.

MOOS: By a crab.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What will you do to stop the sexually transmitted diseases?

MOOS (on camera): A lot of the questions submitted to YouTube will go down the tubes, especially one delivered by a tube.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Hello there, troopers (ph). A tube of toothpaste from Hollywood.

MOOS (voice-over): A few folks sang questions like, who's going to your running mate?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE (singing): I want to know who it is and why we should say wow.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE (singing): What is the worst thing you ever did that you won't tell us?

MOOS: And then there's the catchy, what would you do about telephone outsourcing, questions.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE (singing): Don't understand a word, a word that I have heard. Telephone outsourcing, telephone outsourcing.

MOOS: Some parents apparently outsourced questions to their kids about hunting.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What will you do to stop PETA?

MOOS: About health care.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: They can die by the time all the paperwork gets filled out.

MOOS: These three mounted stuffed ostriches in front of the White House to tell the candidates not bury their heads in the sand.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALES: What's your plan to fix Social Security?

MOOS: They may be too young to vote, but those accusatory, little pointed fingers hurt.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: How are you going to fix it?

MOOS: And then there was the guy who asked one question like this ...

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Hi, my name is David McMillan ...

MOOS: ...and another like this.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: How do you all, my presidential hopeful brothers and sister Hillary, plan on promoting and expanding civil right so poor brother Anderson Cooper here doesn't have to do all the work by himself?

MOOS: Don't expect YouTubers to keep their shirt on.

(on camera): Question for Hillary Clinton.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Can I be your intern? Joe Biden, same question?

MOOS (voice-over): Some lost their train of thought mid- question.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I'd like to know, whoever you are, what (INAUDIBLE) are you going to do about it?

MOOS: At this debate, the questions may be more fun than the answers.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Does this Webcam make my boobs look weird?

MOOS: Honestly, yes. But no candidate who wants your vote is going to tell you that.

Jeanne Moos, CNN, New York.


LONG: Some interesting, creative questions. You can send in your basic questions. If you don't want to get creative, it's not too late.

Again, CNN is raising the bar on the presidential debates, and this is how you can take part. Anderson Cooper hosts Monday's Democratic candidates debate. It is the first of the kind event. It is live and interactive, on television and online: the CNN/YouTube debate. Then, you can see the Republican candidates debate in September, on Monday the 17th.

So, submit your questions right now. To do so, logon to CNN is your political headquarters.

We have a look at the top stories in just a moment. But first, "YOUR $$$$$" is next, and here's a preview.



Coming up on "YOUR $$$$$," how Washington decides on the anti- terrorism cash that your area gets. Plus, with the DOW hitting 14,000, see which stocks are hot. And later, we'll tell you the best places to live and work in America.

All that and more after a quick check of the headlines.


LONG: And now in the news, President Bush reclaims the powers of the Oval Office. Just hours ago, he temporarily transferred power and authority to Vice President Dick Cheney as Mr. Bush underwent a colonoscopy. The White House says doctors removed five small polyps during the procedure, but none appeared worrisome.

A battle against a huge fire goes on this hour in Massachusetts. The fire's at the Mill Complex (ph), and it broke out before dawn. Firefighters from dozens of communities are there on the scene and so far, no word of any injuries. The complex houses dozens of businesses.