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CNN NEWSROOM

NASA's Love Triangle; Midwest Flooding; Battle Over Troops; Gerri's Top Tips

Aired August 24, 2007 - 10:00   ET

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


HEIDI COLLINS, CNN ANCHOR: Good morning, everybody. I'm Heidi Collins.
TONY HARRIS, CNN ANCHOR: And I'm Tony Harris. Stay informed all day in the CNN NEWSROOM. Here's what's on the rundown.

A former astronaut in court right now. Lisa Nowak charged with attacking her romantic rival in a bizarre love triangle.

COLLINS: Cleaning up the windy city. Storms ruff up Chicago. Power is out to thousands. Airline travel a mess.

HARRIS: An Iraqi boy, doused in gas, burned in a vicious attack. He is heading to the United States for treatment.

It is Friday, August 24th, and you are in the CNN NEWSROOM.

Unfolding this morning, NASA's bizarre love triangle. An ex- astronaut accused of attacking a romantic rival in court right know. There she is, Lisa Nowak. John Zarrella live from Orlando this morning.

And, John, what a moment there. There's Colleen Shipman. There is Lisa Nowak. Both in the same courtroom. The only one missing, Bill Oefelein. The testimony this morning to this issue of whether it is time to remove that monitoring bracelet from around Lisa Nowak's ankle.

JOHN ZARRELLA, CNN CORRESPONDENT: That's right, Tony. The GPS monitoring bracelet was the subject of the first hours worth of testimony here this morning. And Colleen Shipman, the alleged victim in all this, has just left the courtroom now.

Now, Lisa Nowak did get on the stand and she testified to the reasons why it's is burden to her. It costs her $105 a week. She's spent almost $3,000 so far on this ankle bracelet. There's issues with the battery. And all of the different inconveniences that go along with wearing this. And she promised the court that she wouldn't go anywhere near Brevard County, which is where the alleged victim lives.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

LISA NOWAK, FORMER ASTRONAUT: I can absolutely say I will not go to Brevard County. I will abide by all the court orders that went along with wearing the unit and any additional ones that they wish to put on.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ZARRELLA: Now Colleen Shipman's attorney got up and read a statement from her saying that she's fearful for her life. The only comfort she has is the fact that Lisa Nowak is wearing this ankle bracelet.

And then, of course, Donald Lykkebak, the attorney representing Lisa Nowak, said, wait a minute, Colleen Shipman's here. I want to testify her. I have the right to testify her. And the judge said, you know, you're absolutely right. They gave them five minutes to that the attorney for Colleen Shipman could talk with her.

And then she got on the stand and she was asked by Donald Lykkabak, she says, well, you know, have you been to Houston, Texas, to -- and she said, yes, she'd been to Houston, Texas, three or four times to visit her boyfriend. And, of course, that is where Lisa Nowak lives.

So the question obviously comes up, well, what comfort do you have going there, right to where Lisa Nowak lives, even though she's wearing the ankle bracelet? And Colleen Shipman, when she was up on the stand, well, my boyfriend is there and his friends are there.

And then, of course, it comes out, well he's no longer there. And, of course, her boyfriend we're referring to here is Billy Oefelein, who is the third member in this alleged love triangle, the astronaut who was involved with the two women allegedly simultaneously. But now he's moved on. He's no longer in Houston. So there won't by any reason for her to visit there. So it was quite interesting testimony that took place here this morning.

Now they're moving on to the next two issues, which are the suppression of evidence that was taken by police against Lisa Nowak.

Tony.

HARRIS: And throwing out the police statement as well.

ZARRELLA: Right. Exactly. What they're saying is that a lot of what she said was inaudible. She wasn't giving the right to an attorney. And, of course, the state is arguing, well, you know, she did say, OK, you can talk to me. But that's not the argument.

HARRIS: All right, John, let's talk about this again next hour. John Zarrella, of course, in Orlando.

John, thanks.

COLLINS: Severe storms with high winds in the windy city. Lots of lightning and rain. Chicago recovering this morning. A transportation nightmare.

More than 500 flights were canceled out of the city's two airports yesterday. Right now airlines are trying to get things back on track. But another round of storms later today could cause yet more problems.

Driving, no picnic either. Roads littered with downed trees and power lines. Hundreds of thousands of people still without power this morning. And officials say it may take days to repair all the lines.

Let's take a look now at some pictures from I-Reporter Albert Cancino. He's a police officers in Aurora, Illinois, and was called to the scenes during the storms. Luckily no one was in this car -- that's for sure -- when the tree absolutely demolished it.

Part of the Midwest under water this morning, trying to dry out. Silver Lake, Wisconsin, one of those waterlogged towns. CNN's Keith Oppenheim is there for us this morning.

Keith, it seems like you just slowly start moving around the area and bringing us new pictures from all of this flooding in the Midwest.

KEITH OPPENHEIM, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Heidi, that's right, because you can see the Fox River behind me. It's flowing and overflowing. And the water from that river, which, you know, should just be what is normally a backyard here, has moved into the side yard and front yard of Dave and Joyce Fiegel's home.

I'm just going to slip over here to show you that they've got a pump that is sending water out of their basement, as well as their garage. We'll head in that direction and you can see over here they've got sandbags to reinforce stuff.

You know, Dave Fiegel has lived here for 60 of his 64 years and he tells me it's really never been that bad. He's concerned that he and his wife might have to temporarily leave here. And he talked to us about what it's like to live right near a river.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DAVE FIEGEL, WISCONSIN RESIDENT: I don't know. If it does really get bad, you end up, you just pull the plug and move out. That's all you can do. I mean, if it gets to the point where you're not safe with the electrical and so on and so forth, and you know the pumps can't keep up with it, then you're going to have to move on. Don't want to, but it's what can happen.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

OPPENHEIM: There are about 100 homes in Kenosha County, Wisconsin, where we're at, that have been affected by the flood, Heidi. But you know, one of the bigger concerns could be where all this water is going to go. The Fox River flows south downstream to northern Illinois where not only is that water going, but a whole bunch of rain is forecast for the next couple of days. So for northern Illinois could be a double whammy, as we head into the weekend.

Back to you.

COLLINS: Yes, we know there's just no more room for it in the ground, that's for sure.

Keith Oppenheim, thanks so much.

HARRIS: Let's get you to Jacqui Jeras now in the Severe Weather Center.

Jacqui, let's talk about the weekend for those areas. How's it looking?

JACQUI JERAS, CNN METEOROLOGIST: Well, not good, actually. And a lot of those rivers that Keith was just talking about are forecast to be cresting at or near record levels. Here's the Tributary (ph). Here's the Fox River. It comes down and it comes down towards the Des Plains River. Also the Kishwaki (ph) River and the Vermilion River, all expected to receive major flooding. So a bad situation.

This map is from the USGS and every single one of these little dots that you see here on the map, that's where we have stream gauges. And everything in blue is above where it should be. Above normal in blue means it's to wet. The darker the color is, the wetter it is. And the reds that you see and the oranges, kind of scattered on the map, that's where things are abnormally dry. And we'd like to see some of this water come down into the southeast where the drought conditions are getting so very extreme.

I do want to show you here our radar map, showing you some of the rainfall that's been coming down this morning. From just around the Kansas City area into southern Iowa and into northern Illinois is where we've been seeing some of the heaviest totals. And in southern Iowa, right here along I-35 from around the Moni (ph) and Osceola, extending towards Ottumwa here, and then over towards the quad cities, Doppler radar is estimating between five and 10 inches have fallen in the last 24 hours. So we're concerned about flooding here on the Des Moines Raters. Water plant problems in Ottumwa. People are being asked to boil their water because of it.

And now the good news is, is that it's kind of dissipating a little bit. Notice the reflectivity here in the last hour or so. It's looking a little bit better. So hopefully we'll watch it dissipate and it won't get too heavy as it heads over here into northern Illinois. Chicago had extreme severe weather yesterday. And, unfortunately, more severe storms are expected late this afternoon and this evening.

The flood so widespread here today, guys, just to give you an idea, more than eight states are being affected and more than 150 counties are under watches and warnings at this time. Look at all the real estate this covers. So the best news I can tell you is the stationary front that's the cause of all this, finally advancing southward now. So we do expect much dryer conditions by the weekend. And on top of that, they'll see some much cooler temperatures too. It's going to be feeling a little better with some sunshine.

HARRIS: They'll love that.

COLLINS: I like that forecast, Jacqui, thank you. HARRIS: Yes. Yes, this is better.

JERAS: You're welcome.

HARRIS: Jacqui, thanks.

COLLINS: See you later.

HARRIS: Heat and parked cars. A deadly combination for two young children in two different states. A seven-month-old baby found dead in a car parked in St. Louis. It happened near a Washington University Medical School. The baby girl's father is a research analyst at the Medical School. Her mother, a physician. Authorities say the mother apparently left the baby in the backseat of the father's car while the father thought the mother had taken the child.

In Ohio, a two-year-old girl was found dead in her mother's SUV outside of Cincinnati. The car was in a parking lot of a middle school where the mother is assistant principal. One expert says more than 20 children have died this years after being left in sweltering vehicles.

COLLINS: No time between now and Christmas to move U.S. troops out of Iraq. That assessment this morning from the U.S. general in charge of American forces in central Iraq. Major General Rick Lynch says a reduction in troops would be a giant step backward. He was responding to Republican Senator John Warner's new call to begin bringing troops home. Warner is recommending the president announce the start of a withdrawing next month.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. JOHN WARNER, (R) VIRGINIA: Certainly in the 160,000 plus, say 5,000, could begin to redeploy and be home to their families and loved ones no later than Christmas of this year. We simply cannot, as a nation, stand and put our troops at continuous risk of loss of life and limb without beginning to take some decisive action which will get everybody's attention.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

COLLINS: President Bush has repeatedly rejected calls to set a date to withdraw troops from Iraq. The White House insists no decisions will be made until next month's Iraq progress report is in. Barbara Starr is now live at the Pentagon. Shortly she'll be having more for us on reaction from there to Senator Warner's comments.

HARRIS: And still to come this morning, they were a band of brothers, now broken up by war.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

PASTOR TIM ROLEN, FAMILY FRIEND: It's happened once. That's hard. That doesn't help you for it happening again.

(END VIDEO CLIP) HARRIS: A family mourns a second time.

COLLINS: Drilling one last hole. One last hope for the trapped miners.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We hope that our loved ones survived the accident and are waiting rescue. We know that the odds are stacked against them, but miracles happen.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

COLLINS: Families wait for word.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

COLLINS: Want to quickly get back to the story we were telling you about a little bit earlier regarding Republican Senator John Warner of Virginia. Yesterday he was calling on President Bush to begin bringing troops home. He actually said he'd like to see them home by Christmas of this year. We want to get reaction from the Pentagon to this news. Barbara Starr is standing by now to tell us more about that.

How is the military reacting to Senator Warner's call?

BARBARA STARR, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, good morning to you, Heidi.

We now do have the first military reaction from a senior military official to Senator Warner's proposal. Just a little while ago, Major General Rick Lynch, who commands U.S. troops in central Iraq, spoke to Pentagon reporters via satellite connection here in the Pentagon, was asked about the Senator Warner plan. General Lynch rejected it, say it is too soon. That it would be a step backwards. Here's a little bit more of what he had to say.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MAJ. GEN. RICK LYNCH, U.S. ARMY: I've got some great Iraqi army units in my battle space and we're working transitions there. But there's still such a detailed, complicated fight going on that it's no time between now and Christmas to move.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

STARR: So what General Lynch is saying basically is, he's not ready for that type of thing in his area. Of course, he is in an area where heavy combat continues between U.S. troops and both Shia and Sunni insurgents. What he also said is, in areas where there isn't security, where troops have pulled out, what they see, he said, is unbelievably within 48 hours insurgents, militia groups come back into an area and start causing trouble again and launching attacks. So he says Christmas is just too soon. He's not ready to recommend any troop cutbacks yet. Heidi.

COLLINS: Well, what about the conflict that this may sort of create between General Petraeus' report that's going to come out very shortly that everyone has been waiting for with bated breath, if you will, saying that, yes, you know, we're going to have to stay there for quite a while. We're assuming that that will be some of the things that he will say. It seems like there's not a lot of thinking along the same lines here.

STARR: Well, it's hard to say at the moment. What General Lynch did go on to say, in fact, was maybe next year, maybe, you know, towards the spring of '08, as they get more Iraqi troops able to take over. That is the plan. That is the hope.

And the reason everyone keeps talking about the spring of '08, the spring of next year, is basically that is when the U.S. military runs out of troops -- enough troops to keep this surge going. By the spring of next year, they simply have to start bringing some of those troops home. They're already serving 15-month extended tours of duty on the ground. They can't really make them serve any longer than that. And so they don't have enough troops to keep it going past then.

By all accounts, the mark on the wall is really the spring of '08. Senator Warner wants to move it up. He wants to put that signal out there that the U.S. isn't staying forever. That may be more of a political signal to the Iraqi government. The question for the U.S. military, of course, is, does it make good military sense? General Lynch saying, not yet. It's to soon.

COLLINS: Yes, we're still seeing such a clear divide between the military and the politics, are we not.

All right. CNN's Pentagon correspondent Barbara Starr.

Thanks, Barbara.

STARR: Sure.

HARRIS: Story of service. One brother killed in combat, two others take up his cause. Now the family is in mourning again. CNN's Thelma Gutierrez reports.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

THELMA GUTIERREZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT, (voice over): They were literally a band of brothers, Nathan, Jason and Jared Hubbard. Inseparable until war tore them apart. In 2004, Marine Lance Corporal Jared Hubbard was killed by a roadside bomb in Ramadi, Iraq, along with his best friend Jeremiah Barrow (ph).

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You worry as a parent. The worry factor goes off the chart when they're doing what they're doing.

GUTIERREZ: Despite the death of their brother, Nathan and Jason decided to enlist in the Army. Pastor Tim Rolen, a family friend, says they wanted to honor their brother.

PASTOR TIM ROLEN, FAMILY FRIEND: The word I get from the family, these two brothers wanted to finish what Jared had started.

GUTIERREZ: Then this week, 21-year-old Nathan Hubbard was killed when his Black Hawk helicopter, carrying 14 U.S. soldiers, crashed in northern Iraq. Jason was in another chopper when his brother went down.

ROLEN: They were on the same mission in two separate helicopters. Jason, the older brother, was in the helicopter that did not go down. And it was their responsibility then to land and attempt any kind of rescue that might be possible. But there were no survivors.

GUTIERREZ: In Clovis, California, flags line the street where the brothers grew up.

ROLEN: It's happened once. That's hard. That doesn't help you for it happening again.

GUTIERREZ: The residents of Clovis mourn once again. Nathan Hubbard is now the seventh U.S. service member who was from this town who was killed in action since the war in Iraq began.

Five were from the same high school. Now this memorial for Jared, and his childhood friend Jeremiah, has become a gathering place for people to grieve.

ROLEN: We want to remember them as heroes. Hey, I'm going to remember them as young men with courage.

GUTIERREZ: Jason Hubbard, now the only surviving son, is on his way home from Iraq to be with his family, as his younger brother Nathan makes his final journey home to be buried here next to his beloved older brother, Jared.

Thelma Gutierrez, CNN. Clovis, California.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

COLLINS: Ohio hoping to dry out today but flood warnings and watches dot the Midwest this morning. Live from the flood zone and the CNN Severe Weather Center.

GERRI WILLIS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: I'm Gerri Willis.

You think your homeowners policy will cover you if you have a problem? These people did. We'll have more tips in the NEWSROOM up next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

COLLINS: Let's go and check out the big board, shall we? Dow Jones Industrial averages up about 32 points. Right now we're at 13,268. Yesterday lost 0.25 points. So, you know, it's been a lot worse. Can't complain about that, I guess. Resting at 13,235 yesterday. The Nasdaq right now up one point. So at least on the positive side of things today, even if it is only one point. All the business stories coming your way in just a few minutes.

HARRIS: So a sad story repeating itself across the flooded Midwest today. Heartbreak over a lost home.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yesterday was the first day that I saw my house. And it really took me down. But I'm a little better today. I mean how good can you be under the circumstances?

(END VIDEO CLIP)

HARRIS: Oh, boy. This family has more than house problems. They've got insurance problems. Our Gerri Willis is in Brownsville, Minnesota, with "Top Tips."

Gerri, great to see you. Do you think we can do some good for some people today?

WILLIS: I think we can, Tony.

Look, this was the home of the Partingtons. Look around here. I want to show you some stuff. Look at this mudslide that came right down on top of their house. Much of their house has been removed now. But you walk through here, you see the mud, you see the problem. It's mud. Look, Tony, you just disappeared into it. It's scary stuff. And it ruined their house.

They thought that they were covered. They had State Farm Insurance, 35 years, paid their premiums faithfully. They were paying $1,300 each and every year. The adjuster comes out after this mudslide disaster and says, guess what, we don't think you're covered.

HARRIS: Oh, boy. But, Gerri, how is something like this not covered?

WILLIS: Well, you know, Tony, the standard homeowners policy, there are lots of things it doesn't cover. Now you know from Katrina, it doesn't cover floods. Guess what? It doesn't cover earthquakes, landslides, wars, you name it. There's a lot of things on the list that are not covered by a standard home owners policy.

Now I have to tell you, flood policy issued by the federal government covers some mudslides. For example, if the Mississippi River down here -- Brad (ph), you can just turn around a little bit -- if that had flooded their house or if it had pushed mud into their house, well, they would have been covered if they had had a flood policy. But that's just not the case here. The fact it was earth movement. Basically this ground just got so soggy (ph) that, you know, it collapsed their house.

Now, we talked to the insurance industry and we asked them, hey, how come people can't get the kind of insurance that they really need? And they told us, look, we cover stuff where lots of people want to buy policies and only a few actually cash in. And, unfortunately, with something like landslides and mudslides, there's only a few people who actually need the coverage.

HARRIS: So are there some additional measures people can take to protect themselves?

WILLIS: Well, look, mudslide coverage is difficult to get. It's very expensive. Let's say you have $500,000 house. You're going to probably pay $2,500 for the premium. It's expensive, difficult to get. My advice, make sure you have a flood policy if you're anywhere near water. It may give you some help, some backup.

And if you're worried today that this could be the scene at your house, well then make sure that you get a soil engineer in to test your soil and make sure that you're not going to have a problem down the road. But I've got to tell you, if you're getting 12 to 15 inches of rain like these folks here got, you know, Katie (ph) bar the door. I mean, it's just very difficult to deal with at the end of the day.

But look at your policy. Pull it out. Make sure you understand what you're covered for. And make sure you buy enough. Tony, that's another problem, a lot of people just don't do.

HARRIS: So, Gerri, you're going to work on "Open House" from there in Brownsville?

WILLIS: Well, we have an absolute terrific show this weekend. We're talking about the mortgage meltdown. We're giving people real solutions, phone numbers to call, steps to take if you're worried about your mortgage, if you're in foreclosure, if you're coming out of foreclosure, we have advice for you.

HARRIS: Great. Gerri, great to see you. Greet advice today. Thanks.

WILLIS: Good to see you, Tony.

ANNOUNCER: Live in the CNN NEWSROOM, Heidi Collins and Tony Harris.

HARRIS: And good morning again, everyone. You are in the CNN NEWSROOM. I'm Tony Harris.

COLLINS: And I'm Heidi Collins.

We want to get to the latest chapter now in NASA's bizarre love triangle. It's playing out right now in an Orlando courtroom. A pretrial hearing underway for ex-astronaut Lisa Nowak. She's accused of attacking a romantic rival after driving cross-country from Houston to Orlando. Police say she was wearing adult diapers. Her attorney denies that and he wants evidence against her and statements she made to police thrown out. He also wants her ankle bracelet monitor removed. Nowak faces attempted kidnapping, battery and burglary charges. She has pleaded not guilty to those charges. Quarterback calls an audible. Three days before Michael Vick plans to plead guilty in a dog fighting case. Word of a new development in negotiations. ESPN reports Vick will not admit to killing dogs or gambling on dog fights. A source tells ESPN, the Atlanta Falcons quarterback will plead guilty to interstate commerce for the purpose of dogfighting. ESPN also reports Vick will say he witnessed the killing of dogs, but did not participate in it. CNN has no independent confirmation of the story. As part of their plea deals, Vick's co-defendants have said he took part in executing dogs and bankrolled the enterprise. CNN senior legal analyst Jeffrey Toobin says Vick may not have many options.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JEFFREY TOOBIN, CNN SR. LEGAL ANALYST: What is he going to say, because the feds have a lot of leverage over Michael Vick at this point. They have three co-conspirators ready to go into court, and say, look, he was involved, he was doing all of this stuff, he was killing dogs, gambling, so the feds can say, you don't want to plead guilty to what we want you to plead guilty, too. Fine, don't plead guilty at all. We're going to have a trial. We're going to add more charges, put you in jail for a longer time and end any chance of a football career.

RICK SANCHEZ, CNN ANCHOR: They're saying we've got to wrap so I've got to finish this up, but they're talking now about him copping this plea, right, basically cutting a deal with the feds. Did you see this going in any other direction than that?

TOOBIN: Absolutely not. I mean, he couldn't -- going to trial is almost not an option for Vick, given the amount that three conspirators who would testify against him, the odds of him going to trial and getting acquitted seem extremely remote. That's why smart lawyers -- and he has a very smart lawyer, Billy Martin, says look, cut a deal, plead.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

COLLINS: Well, we will see how all of this all plays out on Monday morning when Michael Vick is scheduled to appear in court. We'll have it for you here on CNN.

DAVID MATTINGLY, CNN CORRESPONDENT: I'm David Mattingly in Ottawa, Ohio, where floodwaters paralyzing the town can't go away fast enough. I'll have that story.

HARRIS: Horrific attack -- masked men set a 5-year-old Iraqi boy on fire. Now the world responds.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

HARRIS: Chicago in recovery mode, after a severe storm system, with winds over 70 miles an hour -- look at these pictures -- blasted the city. Lots of lightning and rain, too. A transportation nightmare. More than 500 flights were canceled out of city's two airports yesterday. Right now airlines are trying to get back on track, but another round of storms later today could cause even more problems. Driving was no picnic. Roads littered with downed trees and power lines. Hundreds of thousands of people are still without power this morning, and officials say it may take days to repair all of the lines.

CNN i-reporters on the scene Ryan Endress took this photo of a car creamed by a fallen tree limb in Chicago. No one hurt. That wasn't the case here. Forty people injured when the roof of an industrial building collapsed outside the city. The injuries are not considered serious.

In northern Ohio today, hundreds of residents trying to salvage whatever they can from flood-damaged homes.

CNN's David Mattingly is standing by in Ottawa, Ohio. And, David, are we talking about the runoff from nearby Findlay, Ohio?

DAVID MATTINGLY, CNN COOPER:: These towns are all on the same river, so when the water leaves Findlay, gets into the river, it comes downstream and ends up in places like this, here in Ottawa. But the good news here, the water is starting to recede from the city streets. Yesterday we took a trip down Main Street. We had to hitch a ride on a front-end loader, a big piece of construction equipment. And we saw businesses and homes that had a lot of water damage, and we also saw a lot of residents out in canoes and kayaks, going around surveying all the damage for themselves.

Well, today public officials are saying to the residents who live here, they say, please, if you can, stay out of that water. They're trying to remind everybody that while this came from a river, it also flooded into everybody's basement, everybody's garages, things like that, so who knows what kinds of chemicals and things are in this water, and for public health reasons, they're telling people they should stay out of this floodwater and put those canoes up and just stay in their homes where they can be dry.

But for now, the water is receding, and it's just a waiting game here. Once the water gets down, they can start pumping out their basements and they can start getting back on with their lives.

Hopefully everyone is watching the skies right now, looking to see what sort of thundershowers are coming this way. They are predicted, possibly 1/2 inch to an inch of rain if they get under one of the really bad cells here. OF course that's going to wipe out a lot of the progress they've been making.

But they're keeping their fingers crosses. Things are going well at the moment. The water's going down and they hope to keep it that way -- Tony.

HARRIS: All right, David, let's see what's on the way for the Ottawa, Findlay, maybe Kerry (ph) Township and some other towns there in northwest Ohio. David Mattingly, appreciate it. Thank you, sir.

(WEATHER REPORT)

COLLINS: We want to move now to this story, and a very touching one it is. An Iraqi boy's life changed forever by shocking violence.

CNN's Arwa Damon has his story.

And a warning now, the pictures are very powerful and disturbing.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

ARWA DAMON, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Youssif is 5 years old. He was a happy boy who loved kindergarten had dreams of being a doctor one day.

On January 15th, that all changed.

This is Youssif today. His mother, Zainab, is wracked with guilt.

ZAINAB, YOUSSIF'S MOTHER (through translator): Sometimes at night I sit and cry. If only I hadn't let him go outside. If only I hadn't let him play.

DAMON: Several masked men attacked Youssif in front of his house. Their identify and motive unknown.

ZAINAB (through translator): Yes, I heard screaming. I thought someone was fighting or something, then I saw my son in front of me, then I fainted.

DAMON: When she came to, she barely recognized her son.

ZAINAB (through translator): His Head was so swollen. You couldn't see his eyes, and his nose was pushed in. His tiny hands are also scarred.

ZAINAB (through translator): He was struggling to put out the fire with his own hands.

DAMON: Youssif developed his own technique to eat, but his adjustment to deformity ends there. His mother says he's become spiteful and jealous of his baby sister.

ZAINAB (through translator): If he does something and I spank him, he says spank her, too. Why don't you spank her. He says, I am burnt, why are you spanking me?

DAMON: He used to be an outgoing energetic child, but these days he spends most of his time in front of a computer. It's only here, away from the stares, that you can see the child emerge in this otherwise solemn boy.

ZAINAB (through translator): He can't place outside with the other kids. The other day they were playing and he came in crying. I asked him, what's wrong? And he said, they won't play with me because I'm burnt.

DAMON: Doctors told the family there was little they could do to help Youssif, but there aren't many doctors left in Iraq anyway. Zainab coaxes him to tell us the words he knows in English.

Unable to watch her son suffer, Zainab has taken a huge risk, telling her son's story to the world. It's too dangerous for her husband, who works as a security guard, to appear on camera.

ZAINAB (through translator): I prefer death rather than seeing my son like this.

DAMON: She says, all she wants is for someone to help her little boy smile again.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

COLLINS: CNN's Arwa Damon is joining us now live from Baghdad. Boy, Arwa, it's a tough, tough story. We are hearing now that someone has come forward to help Youssif. Please tell us as much as you can about that.

DAMON: Heidi, WELL, I have to start off by saying, that really the response that we've gotten from viewers, from aid organizations, from medical institutions to that story, has truly been overwhelming. Now the U.S. -- the family has decided to go with medical treatment in the United States. They believe that would be in their son's best interest. And it is the children's burn foundation based in California that is going to be funding the entire trip, transportation, all of the expenses, all the medical care, any sort of housing that the family is going to be needing.

The surgeries themselves will be performed by Dr. Peter Grossman, with the affiliated Grossman Burn Center.

Now, when the family heard this news, they were understandably overjoyed. Youssif apparently been running around the house, saying, daddy, daddy, am I really going to be getting into an airplane?

COLLINS: Wow, I'll bet he's absolutely beside himself with excitement. Well, we certainly wish him the best of luck, and I know that we're going to be following this story closely.

Arwa Damon, thanks so much. Great, great job.

And if you would like to help little Youssif, CNN can walk you through it. Just go to CNN.com/impact, and click on Iraq burn victim. Impacting your world now just a click away at CNN.com/impact.

HARRIS: And still to come in the NEWSROOM, taking aim at the front-runner.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JOHN EDWARDS (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: The American people deserve to know that their presidency is not for sale. The Lincoln bedroom is not for rest, and lobbyist money can no longer influence policy in the house or the Senate.

(END VIDEO CLIP) HARRIS: Man, that's strong. John Edwards looking to gain on numbers one and two.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

COLLINS: He was convicted of kidnapping and raping a 9-year-old girl, then burying her alive. Today John Couey faces sentencing for the murder of Jessica Lunsford. A Miami jury recommended Couey be put to death. The vote was 10-2. The judge has the final say, and Couey's aunt tells "The St. Petersburg Times," he expects to get the death penalty.

(BUSINESS HEADLINES)

COLLINS: Church school with a mission. Teaching students to serve God, and some to serve dinner -- majoring in homemaking.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

HARRIS: Boy, we told you about all the problems at the two major airports there in Chicago, flights just delayed because of all of the nasty wind, the rain, take a look at the interstate system there. Boy, this picture courtesy of our affiliate in Chicago WLS, just a mess high water anywhere. Any relief in sight for the Chicago area? We will check in with Jacqui Jeras at the top of the hour right here in the NEWSROOM.

COLLINS: Homemaking by degree, a Texas seminary is taking secular tasks to new heights. And men need not apply. Here's CNN's Carol Costello.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

CAROL COSTELLO, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary teaches young men and women to serve God. It sends its graduates into the world to become pastors, preachers and missionaries. And now, it's offering a brand-new concentration, a bachelor of arts degree with a heavy concentration in homemaking. That's open to women only.

PAIGE PATTERSON, SOUTHWEST BAPTIST THEOLOGICAL SEM.: It should be the option of a young woman who wants to give herself to her home to have that option and to be able to do that. It's basically a question of religious freedom.

COSTELLO: The new courses offers courses in general homemaking, children and family, design and apparel, and food and nutrition. Southwestern says the courses provide an alternative to the decline of the traditional family. Its goal is to prepare women to model the godly woman in scripture. Some critics charge it wants to roll back time turning women into, well -- Harriet.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

OZZIE NELSON: I'm not sure I could eat any pie Harriet -- that was such a big dinner. HARRIET NELSON: Oh, you can handle that.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

REV.BENJAMIN COLE, PASTOR, EMMANUEL BAPTIST CHURCH: Divinity schools have never offered courses of which I'm aware or can even trace any hint of in sewing, cooking, and culinary arts, interior decorating.

COSTELLO: Benjamin Cole is a Baptist pastor who has been critical of the churches' treatment of women. Southwestern's courses remind him of the 1950s, a times when instructional films for women only were shown routinely in America's high schools.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED ACTOR: In home economics, the girls turn to newspapers for help in planning nutrition and economical menus.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

COSTELLO: Cole says Southwestern's new homemaking courses is one way of pushing women out of church leadership roles, something that culminated in 2000 at the Southern Baptist Convention.

Delegates voted that women could still serve in the church, but not as pastors, supporting their belief that a wife is to submit herself graciously to the servant leadership of her husband. Patterson, then the convention's president orchestrated the move.

COLE: It seems somewhat strange to me that we've been training able women, God-called women for these roles, only to now send them home without a job and tell them that it's time to start putting their aprons back on.

COSTELLO: Patterson says Cole's charges are ridiculous.

PATTERSON: It's mystifying to us and as I say quite amusing to see these people so upset about what a theological seminary is doing to assist in having good homes.

COSTELLO: And Southwestern Baptist is going forward with its newest program, telling me they expect 15 women to sign up. The homemaking program is not open to men, because Dr. Patterson says it's specifically tailored to women who want to devote themselves to the family. Carol Costello, CNN, Washington.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

HARRIS: Fierce storms doing real damage to Chicago. There is plenty of cleaning up to do in the Windy City. Take a look at these pictures. Man, this is one of the interstates there in the Chicago area. You can see that that one stretch of interstate virtually flooded out. Tire-high water in some cases. Oh, I see. Okay, so this is near the Indiana state line. What a shot, what pictures of the storms and the aftermath. COLLINS: Why are they driving through the water?

HARRIS: Why, people? People, do you listen to Jacqui Jeras when she warns you. We're checking in with Jacqui at the top of the hour, but first a break.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

HARRIS: And, good morning, everyone. You're with CNN, you're informed. I'm Tony Harris.

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