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Category Five Felix; British Pullback; Iran Nuke Claim; High- Tech Look; Craig Bows Out
Aired September 3, 2007 - 06:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
JOHN ROBERTS, CNN ANCHOR: Catastrophic. Hurricane Felix jumps to a category five with winds topping 165 miles per hour. The rush to get out of the storm's path. The latest video, i-Reports and forecasts on this AMERICAN MORNING.
And good morning to you. Thanks very much for joining us on this Labor Day. It's Monday, September the 3rd. I'm John Roberts.
KIRAN CHETRY, CNN ANCHOR: We're here. I'm Kiran Chetry. Laboring just for you.
ROBERTS: It's Labor Day. What else should you do but work, right?
CHETRY: Yes. And we're tracking Hurricane Felix. This will be the second cat five of the 2007 Atlantic hurricane season. It's the second to reach the highest intensity there. That's category five strength. The National Weather Service says that winds are hitting 165 miles per hour. Right now hurricane watches and warnings are issued for Honduras. And there's a picture of the track. A look at the track of the hurricane as it makes its way there above Honduras. Possibly hitting Belize as well.
These are some pictures from Aruba where heavy rains and winds knocked down trees, flooded homes and caused scattered power outages. Dozens of homeowners installed storm shutters and hauled their boats ashore. Thousands of tourists were forced to hunker down in their hotels.
So we sent Rob Marciano to Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, to talk a little bit about how it would be the last beach day of the summer on this Labor Day.
Now, Rob, you're out there tracking Hurricane Felix, which reached category five strength overnight.
ROB MARCIANO, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Good morning, Kiran.
Well, Myrtle Beach no stranger to hurricanes. That's for sure. Close to North Carolina, which sticks out in the Atlantic like a sore thumb.
But all eyes, as you said, on the central Caribbean this morning as Hurricane Felix yesterday just blew up pretty much from a tropical storm all the way to a category five. And now that distinctive eye, that pattern, the satellite picture that we've all come to know in the past few years, and a scary sight, no doubt about that, into the central Caribbean. It is a little less than 500 miles now to the east of the Nicaraguan/Honduras border.
It is heading west pretty quickly at 21 miles an hour. So that would bringing the center of the eye, on its current track, to the Honduras/Nicaraguan border sometime around this time tomorrow morning. Likely with the same intensity that we are seeing right now, 65 mile- an-hour winds. That is a category five storm.
It is going over high heat content water. Meaning the waters are warm. Now if anything it's going over a warmer current here over the next few hours. So the National Heather Center thinks this thing probably is not going to weaken much at all. So we'll look for it to come on board as a category five or a strong category four.
The good news, if there is any with this system, is that the wind field is relatively small. There are only hurricane-force winds that extend out to 30 miles an either side of this storm. When you look at a Katrina or a Rita, we had hurricane force winds that extended well over 100 miles out of the storm. So it should be a relatively small area that is impacted, as long as that wind field does not increase.
But the area that is impacted come this time tomorrow morning will likely be a 50-mile swathe of tornado-type damage. This is a dangerous situation, though, no doubt about that. We'll continue to watch. It looks like, at this point, it's not going to effect the U.S. in any way, shape or form. Hopefully that track doesn't change.
John and Kiran, back up to you.
ROBERTS: This certainly will effect a lot of people, though.
Rob, thanks very much.
British troops overnight completed their pullback in Basra. Five hundred and fifty soldiers are handing over control to the Iraqis and moving to the last British base near the Basra Airport. The British plan is to turn over all of souther Iraq to the Iraqis in the next few months time. CNN's Michael Ware is live in Baghdad.
And, Michael, does this signify a move that gives Basra effectively back to the Iraqis?
MICHAEL WARE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, John, in many senses, the Brits never had Basra. Indeed, the five provinces in the southern Iraq, the oil-rich region of the country, the Brits were supposed to control, really for years now, have actually been under the domination of what U.S. military intelligence calls Iranian-backed Shia militias, political parties and religious movements. So, in essence, while the Iraqi/Shia militias have been attacking the Brits, the Brits have been to busy trying to keep themselves alive to worry about the fact that what the Americans call Iranian proxies have been running the show.
So, John, welcome to post-American Iraq. This is a vision of what it will be like when U.S. troops draw down.
ROBERTS: Yes, you know, immediately the concern is, what will happen when the British influence is removed from that area. We have seem, in many parts of the country we see Sunni against Shiite. Down there in Basra, we've seen Shiite against Shiite. Is the violence expected to increase as they start to work out a power struggle in the wake of the British pulling out?
WARE: Well, the Brits have had no influence, John. There's already a power struggle. There's already violence in the streets. The police are controlled by one Shia militia faction. The governor, controlled by another.
I mean what we're looking at, according to the International Crisis Group, is the British ignominious defeat. And we've seen them many years ago surrender real power to these militia factions indeed.
They are so strong that the prime minister of Iraq tried to sack the governor of Basra and the governor refused to go. So the prime minister, according to our U.S. sources, ordered his army to remove the governor of Basra. And his army, divisional commander down there, said, "sir, I'd like to do that, but I can only rely on about 100 soldiers."
So the Brits haven't had control. It's Iran who has control, according to western diplomats.
ROBERTS: All right. Well, we'll see how that goes in the future.
Our Michael Ware for us live in Baghdad.
Michael, as always, thanks for joining us this morning.
CHETRY: It's an amazing story of survival coming out of Borger, Texas, north of Amarillo. A father and son are in the hospital today. They're in serious condition after their small plane slammed into a carport of a house. Witnesses describe that plane losing control and corkscrewing into the home. Police say that the homeowners were home at the time but they were in the basement and that's why they were not hurt.
And a beach bummer this holiday weekend in New Jersey. The water looks beautiful. How about except for that stray beer bottle and some medical waste? They say several beaches along the New Jersey shore had to be closed after lifeguards found syringes, sewage, medical waste and other trash. Most of the waste was found on beaches in and in the waters off of Monmouth and Ocean Counties. State environmental officials say that the beaches are not going to open until all that garbage is collected and cleaned up.
And it's been a wet holiday weekend in Savannah, Georgia. Folks there are dealing with some serious flooding. Close to a foot of rain falling in some areas. They needed it, though. A lot of these areas were dealing with drought conditions. I guess they just didn't need it all at once. Police had to close off portions of several streets after some drivers got stuck in water and they say more rain is expected for today.
ROBERTS: Another mine tragedy to tell you about this morning. This time in Arizona. Two sisters, one 13 years old, one 10, fell 125 feet into a mineshaft over the weekend while riding an ATV. The older sister was killed. Right now the 10-year-old is fighting for her life. She was airlifted to a hospital in Las Vegas yesterday where she is listed in critical condition.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CAPT. GREG SMITH, MOHAVE COUNTY SHERIFF'S OFFICE: We rescued the 10-year-old girl. And she has significant injuries. We were able to send paramedics down to her, put her on a litter (ph) and basically rope her out of that mine.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CHETRY: Police say the girl's father was riding ahead of them on another ATV when he lost sight of them. The mine wasn't used for some time. It was covered only by brush. There were no signs or barriers and certainly it wasn't covered by any kind of a structure
It took two months and cost $117 million to fight, but firefighters say they finally have a wildfire in southern California contained. The fire in the Los Padres National Forest near Santa Barbara burned 375 square miles but destroyed just one building. Crews say cooler weather and higher humidity helped them gain ground on that.
And firefighters say that they have put out the biggest of those fires burning across Greece and only a few small fires remain. Sixty- five people were killed and hundreds of homes were damaged in that series of blazes. Police say many of the fires were the result of arson. They've already arrested more than 30 people.
CHETRY: Well, it's traditionally seen as the start of the campaign season, but the 2008 race is well underway this Labor Day. Candidates for president from both sides of the aisle are now out in two key states. Senator John McCain was in Iowa pushing a plan to ramp up our nuclear program for energy.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. JOHN MCCAIN, (R) PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I would like to see tax breaks for encouragement of alternate energy. And by the way, my friends, I also feel very strongly that nuclear power has got to be part of any way that we reduce our dependence on foreign oil.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CHETRY: Senator McCain also pushed a plan to secure our borders by getting tough on drug pushers. And Senator Hillary Clinton is in New Hampshire with a powerful running mate of sorts, her husband, former President Bill Clinton. Fifteen years after the state jump-started his campaign, the former president was back to try to send his wife to the Oval Office.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BILL CLINTON, FORMER PRESIDENT: She's proved that she can work with Republicans in the Senate and she proves she can get independents and Republicans to vote for her, where they know her, rather than the cardboard cutout image that the right wing has tried so hard to embed in people's mind for the last 15 years.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CHETRY: Well, the Clintons move on to Iowa this afternoon to round out a weekend of Labor Day campaigning.
Well, Jimmy Johnson makes it a nice round five by winning the Sharp Aquos 500 this weekend. The defending Nextel Cup champ beat out Carl Edwards and Kyle Busch to take the checkered flag. He has now secured a birth in the Nascar chase for the champ. The defending Nextel Cup champ has won five races this season.
ROBERTS: Iran is claiming a major nuclear achievement today. CNN's Monita Rajpal is in London covering the international headlines.
What are the Iranians saying this morning, Monita?
MONITA RAJPAL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, good morning to you, John.
Iran is saying that 3,000 centrifuges working to enrich uranium are up and running. Mahmoud Ahmadinejad is calling it an important milestone. Now Iran has said this before.
In fact they said it last back in April that they had 3,000 centrifuges working. But the International Atomic Energy Agency refuted that. In fact, the last IAEA report, that was out on Thursday, that said that Tehran only had about 2,000 centrifuges and the amount of nuclear fuel that would be need to make nuclear warhead was so small it's practically negligible.
Now the report has also said that, while the number of centrifuges is indeed a lot lower than what Tehran is claiming, they also said that Iran was complying and was cooperating with the IAEA when it comes to answering questions about their nuclear facilities.
Now the U.S. is claiming that Iran is trying to build nuclear bombs. Iran is saying, however, it is trying to master technology to shore up -- to firm up the technology that is needed for future energy needs, which they say under the nuclear non-proliferation treaty they are entitled to. There are also sanctions set against Iran for not cooperating.
John. ROBERTS: Monita Rajpal for us in London this morning.
Thanks, Monita, we'll check back in with you in just a little while.
To our terror watch now. Some new high-tech scanners are being tested at three of the country's busiest airports to give screeners a better look at what's in your carry-on luggage. Kelli Arena is in our Washington bureau now with more on this.
How good is this new technology, Kelli?
KELLI ARENA, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, John, this newest security enhancement may actually save you time at the airport, and that cannot be bad. You know, basically it involves new high-tech x-ray machines that are supposed to be better at finding bombs and other weapons in your carry-on bag. TSA is testing the systems of three different manufacturers at several airports.
And the machines photograph the bags from multiple angles and they create higher definition images that are supposed to be much clearer, much crisper. Experts say the screeners won't need to x-ray your bags a second time to get a different view of what's inside. And that what could help save time.
And, plus, this new technology could also eventually mean that you won't have to take your laptop computer out of your bag and place it in a separate bin, which always just drives me crazy.
ROBERTS: You know, Kelli, do we know the track record of the equipment? Is it in use anywhere else that we can take a look at and say, it's good or it's bad?
ARENA: Well, yes, they've been used actually in Europe and Canada but only for checked baggage. So this is actually the first time that they're going to be used for carry-on bags. And the TSA says the plan is to ultimately purchase up to 500 of these machines by the end of the year for major airports.
And right now, John, you could check it out. They're being tested right there at Kennedy in New York, here in Washington at National Airport and also at Albuquerque, the airport there. So we'll see.
ROBERTS: Yes, I went through National yesterday and stupidly left my cell phone in my back pocket, so I had to go through secondary screening anyways.
ARENA: Oh, don't you hate it.
ROBERTS: So they didn't help me out at all.
Kelli Arena, thanks very much.
ARENA: You're welcome.
CHETRY: Well, cabbies are threatening to strike in New York City. Time now for your "Quick Hits." More than half of the city's 13,000 cabs could be off the streets for two day this week. Drivers are protesting new regulations that would require them to have credit card machines, video screens and a GPS tracking system. Mayor Bloomberg says the technology will benefit the customers who deserve it after recent fare hikes.
Torching cars and trashing stores on the streets of Copenhagen. Police in Denmark say they had to use tear gas to break up a youth mob. They arrested more than 60 people. One officer was hurt in the riots. They broke out six months after police closed down an underground hangout for anarchists.
Well, four winning tickets were sold for the monster Mega Millions jackpot. One of tickets supposedly went to a man who is crediting wiccan (ph) gods with his win. We're going to hear what he has to say, coming up.
Also, Larry Craig may be out as a U.S. senator, but could the scandal around him makes things difficult for Republican in 2008? The editor-in-chief of the politico.com joins us live next.
AMERICAN MORNING's coming right back.
CHETRY: All right. Well, some of the best shots of the morning to show you right now in our "Quick Hits."
A monster storm rolling through the Caribbean this morning, on a path toward Honduras, as well as Belize. Hurricane Felix upgraded to a category five storm. That means winds of 165 miles per hour. In fact "The Miami Herald" is reporting this storm was so powerful that it tossed a U.S. hurricane hunter that was gathering data in an airplane and forced it to abort its mission. We're going to continue to follow it as it makes its way over Belize and the Yucatan Peninsula, making landfall possibly on Wednesday.
And we have some i-Report footage coming in of some rough waters. This is in Aruba. Hurricane Felix passed to the north, waves slamming the beaches. There you see a shot, a normally idyllic scene, a Caribbean paradise. Not so thanks to Hurricane Felix, making the waters quite rough. I want to say Phoenix.
ROBERTS: You've been saying that since 4:00 this morning.
CHETRY: Boy, it's a Monday.
It was also a category two storm then, when it made its way there, sparking some flash flooding across the island. Forecasters are saying that a category five can bring a storm surge 18 feet above normal level when it makes a direct hit. We have our Rob Marciano. He is tracking Felix for us this morning.
ROBERTS: This will help you out. There are no hurricanes in Phoenix.
CHETRY: In Arizona last time we checked.
ROBERTS: It's a desert.
Idaho Senator Larry Craig is out, but there are lingering questions about the effect that his sex scandal could have on Republicans and the 2008 presidential race. John Harris is the editor-in-chief of the politico.com. He joins us now from Washington.
Good Labor Day morning to you, John.
JOHN HARRIS, EDITOR-IN-CHIEF, POLITICO.COM: Hey. Hard workers here, you and me, John.
ROBERTS: There you go. Labor Day. It's all about laboring.
John, does this story continue to have legs? I'm thinking, what happens? He's not resigning -- or at least he's not going away until the end of this month. What happens if he comes back to Washington?
HARRIS: Well, if he does, and he is expected to, if -- he said he's going to continue his Senate duties, go back in town this week, it's going to be a surreal scene. There's no doubt about it.
But it probably doesn't have legs for the long-term, precisely because he was forced to resign. Republicans made it clear that they did not want this as an ongoing story. And that's why Craig had no friends in -- among his own Republican colleagues. They were putting the most pressure on him.
ROBERTS: Democrats are finally ringing in on this after -- it's kind of like a train wreck. They just sat back and watched the whole thing happen. But yesterday, after an appearance in one of the Sunday shows, Senator Pat Leahy said something about it. Talking about this issue of hypocrisy and the way that scandals are handled in the Republican Party, one much differently than other. Take a listen to what he said.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. PATRICK LEAHY, (D) VERMONT: There is another senator from a Democratic state who, Republican senator, who apparently used the telephones in a Republican cloak room to engage in illegal activity with a so-called Washington madam and call girls. They seem to completely ignore that.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ROBERTS: So that's a question a lot of people are asking, John, is why did Vitter survive or why has he survived so far, whereas Larry Craig was thrown under the bus, went from senator to out the door literally in six days? HARRIS: Well, no question, double standard to some degree, John. And we had a story at Politico looking at different scenario, like how could Craig have survived if he handled this differently? Couple of things.
Craig did plead guilty out in Minneapolis, whereas Vitter has not pleaded guilty to a crime. And also, let's face it, people respond differently to homosexuality. That probably was one dimension of this. It made certainly Republicans more uncomfortable, made this a much harder scandal for Craig to survive.
ROBERTS: All right. Now there's going to be no effect on the balance of power here. Idaho's about as red a state as they come. The Republican governor will just appoint a Republican replacement and it's likely a Republican would be elected in '08. But what do you think the broader effect will be on Republican fortunes in '08. There's a lot who are up for re-election in the Senate. And also the presidential race?
HARRIS: Well, probably Craig, in isolation, does not have a big impact, John. I mean, let's face it, the circumstances of this scandal are pretty particular, pretty localized. But cumulatively, Republicans are going into a very tough year. They've got a lot of seats in the Senate to defend and they're carrying the weight of an unpopular war, an unpopular incumbent president and a succession of scandals over the past two years that had a big impact in 2006. The main reason they lost the Congress. And they're going to have to -- they want to make sure they're not carrying that burden in 2008. That's why they acted so quickly to turn on Craig.
ROBERTS: Yes, and I guess they're hoping that by acting so quickly they can say to people, we got our house in order, you can trust us again.
HARRIS: That's (INAUDIBLE).
ROBERTS: John Harris from the Politico.
John, thanks. See you soon.
HARRIS: Thanks, John.
CHETRY: God's green earth topping your "Quick Hits" now. Pope Benedict urging young Catholics to conserve. He says it's up to them to save the planet before it's too late. The comments came during a final day of a two-day youth rally in Italy that drew about 500,000 people. Vatican also putting its money where its mouth is, announcing they're going to be planning to install solar panels on the roof of the papal audience hall next year.
Green machines all the rage right now in Portland, Oregon. Electric car dealerships are selling lots of these three-wheel, gas- free model zapcars (ph), as they're called. Said they're popular among families that need to do quick errands. They're priced at $10,000. So they're cheaper than hybrids. The downside, you can only go about 45 miles on a full charge. Hardened prisoners rehabilitated with the help of Michael Jackson. It was a YouTube sensation and an out of the box thinking warden. We actually went there to see what's behind the making of this thriller video coming up.
Also, he came close to ending his own life. Now actor Owen Wilson he's giving it another try. A star takes a major step toward recovery next on AMERICAN MORNING.
CHETRY: All right. Well, a Florida family just got a whole lot bigger. Congratulations. It was a real Labor Day weekend for Ben and Caroline Byer. They now have six new babies. Caroline gave birth to sextuplets over the weekend.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BEN BYER, FATHER OF SEXTUPLETS: There's a lot of relief after just, you know, this is all over now and everything's looking pretty good, with the exception of this one, which, you know, we've just got to pray and just hope everything comes out good with that one. And my wife, Caroline, doing great and her spirits are high.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CHETRY: Well, Caroline was taking fertility drugs before she got pregnant. Five boys and one girl. Boy, is she going to be spoiled. They were born at 29 weeks and four days. And as you heard the father say, five of them are doing well. One of them is having breathing problems. He is expected to survive, though. Their names, Brady, Eli, Ryan, Jackson, Charlie and little girl, McKenzie. Congratulations. A lot of diapers to change.
Well, actor Owen Wilson out of the hospital according to people.com and he's back home one week after police say he tried to kill himself. The police report said that the "Wedding Crashers" co- star was hospitalized for an apparent suicide attempt August 26th after taking pills and slashing his wrist. Wilson has pulled out of his next project, "Tropic Thunder," to recuperate. He also has a movie out right now, but he's not promoting.
ROBERTS: Coming up to 28 minutes after the hour and a look at a story coming up in our next half hour that you can't miss. Of course everybody knew how big the Mega Millions jackpot was. Prompted some of us to go out and buy tickets at the last minutes, Friday night.
CHETRY: Yes, you broke down and bought tickets.
ROBERTS: I did and I don't normally do that. Much of us went in on the tickets.
Well, one of the winners has come forward and, you know, these lottery jackpots always sort of bring forward unusual characters.
CHETRY: They sure do. You know, you always meet some really interesting people when they decide -- because, you know, some people win and they just do what a lot of us would do, which is just not go public with it. But not one man. We're going to meet him. He's from Maryland. And he is crediting his prayers to his wiccan gods for the win. We're going to hear more about what he has to say about why and how he won possibly millions upon millions of dollars when AMERICAN MORNING comes right back.
KIRAN CHETRY, CNN NEWS ANCHOR: Welcome back. A beautiful shot this morning of New York City. Currently 65 degrees out there. It's shaping up to be a really nice day for Labor Day, if you're off and want to get out and have some fun. 83 degrees and sunny today. It is Monday. It's Labor Day, September 3rd. Thanks for being with us. I'm Kiran Chetry.
JOHN ROBERTS, CNN NEWS ANCHOR: Good morning to you, I'm John Roberts. British troops in Iraq pulled out of their base in Basra, handing over control to Iraqis. Nearly all of Britains are consolidated near the Basra airport, planning to turn southern Iraq over in the next few months even though some people say they never had control to begin with.
CNN's Robin Oakley is at 10 Downing Street.
Robin, Gordon Brown, the prime minister, said this was preplanned, should not be seen as a defeat. Is it seen that way among most Brits?
ROBIN OAKLEY, CNN NEWS CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): It's not seen as a defeat to the British public but they've been carefully prepared for this. As you say it ha been long foreshadowed, announced as early as February this pullout from the Basra palace was going to happen.
A lot of the more analytical stuff in the British media this morning is pointing out that some of the criticisms we've heard from retired American generals about a state of gangland warfare between Shia militias in Basra has some substance to it. The British never had perhaps the numbers in Basra that could have produced any other result. And the question now is, with the 5,500 men back at Basra airport, in theory, they can be called back in any state of crisis and, in theory, they'll continue the training of Iraqi security forces.
But the opponents of the war in Britain say there's no point in them staying. They should be out within weeks and not months. And they're calling for a timetable which, for the moment, Gordon Brown, the prime minister, is refusing, John.
ROBERTS: How long is Gordon Brown prepared to leave British troops there at the Basra airport?
OAKLEY: He's continued to talk, in his appearance with President Bush at Camp David, and on other occasions, about the continuing obligations Britain has to keep its promises made to the Iraqi government, made to the United Nations, made to allies, like the U.S. So the implication of that is that certainly those troops will be there for some months to come, but there's going to be increasing pressure on Mr. Brown, both from opponents of the war and the British public, and indeed there will be electoral pressure on him with talk of a possible early election in Britain in October. He'll be anxious to demonstrate as soon as he can that Britain's British troops are on the way home. And also he wants a number of those troops to go into Afghanistan, where, of course, there is continuing business in association with the U.S. forces -- John.
ROBERTS: Robin Oakley for us this morning outside of No. 10 Downing Street. Robin, thanks.
CHETRY: New this morning, Iranian-American scholar, Haleh Esfandiari is finally out of Iran this morning. This ends an eight- month-long nightmare she's been held there. "The Washington Post" reporting that she met up with her husband in Austria. Esfandiari was held in prison. She was accused of getting paid by the U.S. government and trying to start a revolution in Iran.
A major break-through in talks with North Korea to report this morning. The State Department is saying the north is promising to dismantle its nuclear program by the end of this year. It's significant because it's the first time that communist nation has offered a time line to shut down atomic activity. The chief U.S. negotiator also said that discussions are under way to take North Korea off of the U.S. list of states that sponsor terrorism.
ROBERTS: That's a big move.
John Edwards is playing up his universal health care plan but says it would require some responsibility from Americans when it comes to their health. While campaigning in Iowa, Edwards said his plan would require Americans to go to the doctor regularly for preventative care. As for how he plans to pay for it, he took aim at the Bush tax cuts.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JOHN EDWARDS, (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I don't believe you could have universal health care for free. There are some candidates who I think will make that argument. I think people have been misled about this too long. There's costs associated with having everybody cover it and bringing down health care costs for everybody. My plan cost $90 billion to $120 billion a year. I'll tell you that up front. I'll pay for it by getting rid of George Bush's tax cuts for people who make over $200,000 a year.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ROBERTS: Edwards says every presidential candidate should be asked one question: Does your health care plan cover every American?
President Bush is headed to Australia, today. He's going to Sidney for the annual Asia-Pacific economic conference. He's going to stay there until Saturday, skipping the last day of the summit to be back in the United States in time for next week's report on Iraq.
A vicious heat wave doesn't just continue to bake Los Angeles, it's also baking its power grid. Thousands of southern Californians lost electricity yesterday as temperatures reached 109 in the San Fernando Valley. Power officials say the system is stressed to the max. Customers are being asked to do anything they can to conserve electricity.
A Maryland man says he's a brand new millionaire and that Wiccan gods should get the credit. Elwood "Bunky" Bartlett claims to be one of the winners of last week's Mega Millions jackpot. Here's what he had to say.
EDWOOD "BUNKY" BARTLETT, LOTTERY WINNER: I'm standing there and she starts calling off the numbers. I'm like, yes, yes, yes. Yes! Oh, my God!
ROBERTS; Technically, Bartlett hasn't officially won until the lottery folks verify his ticket, which will happen tomorrow. We had a photocopy with him. He's already spending like the money is his. Bought a brand new Ford Explorer over the weekend. Bartlett is Wiccan, which is a religion associated with nature and the earth. He made a deal with Wiccan gods that, if they helped him win the money, he would promise to teach Wicca. After taxes, he should take home about $32 million.
CHETRY: You said that the money's not going to change him although he plans to invest in mystical voyage. He says he's going to live his life just like he has been before.
ROBERTS: Yeah. I'd travel, too, if I won that much money.
CHETRY: If you bought ten tickets. Didn't work out for you, right?
ROBERTS: We got four numbers but they were all in different columns so not even close.
CHETRY: Computer picked his, so rock on, Elwood. Congratulations.
Much of the country is still talking about Idaho Senator Larry Craig's sudden and stunning fall from grace. Although he announced his resignation over the weekend, the fallout from the scandal seems to just be continuing today. Some Democrats are now crying a double standard, and a Republican Senator is coming to Craig's defense.
Dana Bash has been covering the story. She's live in Boise this morning for us.
DANA BASH, CNN NEWS CORRESPONDENT: Hi, Kiran. Well, put this in the better-late-than-never category. One Republican Senator is finally speaking up in support of Larry Craig, specifically of the case that he has in court, his legal battle. Senator Arlen Specter, who is the top Republican on the Senate Judiciary Committee, is suggesting that he thinks Senator Craig could win in an attempt to overturn a guilty plea in Minneapolis, a guilty plea that he signed admitting to misconduct in a men's room in the Minneapolis airport.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. ARLEN SPECTER, (R), PENNSYLVANIA: He's got his life on the line, and 27 years in the House and Senate. And I'd like to see him fight the case, because I think he could be vindicated.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BASH: That is a different take than most of the legal experts that we've talked to over the past week. And certainly politically, there's no question that Senator Craig is wondering where Senator Specter was last week, when there was an avalanche of opposition to Senator Craig from his Republican colleagues making it very clear they wanted him to leave.
There is another voice we're hearing that we hadn't heard before, the collective voice of Democrats. They were mum. Now the Senate Judiciary chairman Patrick Leahy. He is weighing in, saying this was a double standard on the part of Republicans. Why? He said there have been other examples, for example, David Vitter, the Republican Senator from Louisiana, who has gotten into trouble, saying that his name was found on a D.C. madam's call list. And he was wondering why Republicans didn't throw Senator David Vitter overboard and they did throw Senator Craig overboard. And his explanation, at least this Democrat, was that it was easier to do because Senator Craig is from a Republican state. There was no question that seat would be taken.
I can tell you, though, Karen, that Republicans in Washington they are breathing a sigh of relief now. They think they survived what one said was a Category 4 political storm.
CHETRY: That's interesting. Well Craig -- the other interesting thing is that the reaction may have changed with voters with folks in Idaho. Last week we did a survey saying 55 percent wanted him gone. Is there some remorse this morning?
BASH: You know, it's really interesting, I spent some time yesterday walking around and talking to people. And after they've had a sense, a chance to digest this news, some people here in Idaho, certainly there is a feeling that Senator Craig did what he had to do, did the right thing, but also some of the anger, and disappointment is turning into some sympathy for the man that has represented them for a quarter century.
And resentment, we did hear resentment from people here in Idaho about the way Senator Craig's Republican colleagues in Washington treated him. So the loyalty here in Idaho is sort of creeping up and we're hearing more of that than we heard last week.
CHETRY: Dana Bash in Boise for us this morning, thank you.
ROBERTS: From political storms to the real thing, one of the most dangerous places to be if a hurricane were to hit the United States, but the problem isn't just the geography. We'll show you where, in a live report, ahead on "AMERICAN MORNING."
43 minutes after the hour. Another Category 5 hurricane is on the move in the south Caribbean. Rob Marciano in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, with more on Hurricane Felix.
Rob Marciano only two hurricanes this season so far, both Category 5s. What's going on?
ROB MARCIANO, CNN NEWS CORRESPONDENT: Certainly, a lot of heat content in the Caribbean, that's one of the ingredients you need to get a hurricane to develop into a major hurricane and then a low shear or favorable environment at the upper level of the atmosphere helps, too. Both the last two hurricanes have had those two ingredients. And they've seemingly taken the same track, except this one, Felix, a little bit farther to the south, very far south actually. We typically don't see hurricanes brush by Aruba and Curacao. This one did, even affecting Venezuela in some spots. There's the track. You see a Category 5 storm with winds of 165 miles an hour. Less than 36 hours ago, this thing was a tropical storm. So it has blown up almost as quickly and intensely as Hurricane Wilma did, the record-setter back in 2005. Very small, ten nautical miles in diameter and small wind field. That may help when you look at the track. Right now expected to skirt the Honduras-Nicaraguan border. If it goes to the north, it will be over water longer, farther to the south, over land longer. That will indicated just how much damage there will be. Only 50 mile-an-hour diameter as far as the hurricane-strength winds are concerned so this is a tightly-wound system even though it's wound up good.
We are on Myrtle Beach. This is no stranger to hurricanes. It gets brushed or hit by a storm every three and a half years. None in the forecasts for today. It's Labor Day, Kiran, as you know. We're not only talking about Hurricane Felix, but the last hurrah as far as beach days go for the summertime. So we'll try to give you a little bit of the light-hearted news as we go on throughout the morning as well. Back over to you.
CHETRY: We had a lot of strange beach news on this Labor Day weekend. There were a lot of reports of medical waste washing up in New Jersey and then, of course, the shark sighting off of one of New York's beaches. I think Rockaway had people in a tizzy all over, at least here in New York.
MARCIANO: Sounds like interesting stuff. We'll be kept busy the next couple of hours. See you later, Kiran.
CHETRY: All right, Rob.
It's one of the worst places in the U.S. to be if a hurricane strikes, regarded for years as a disaster waiting to happen. So what is being done to protect people in the Florida Keys? CNN's John Zarrella is live in Key West with the answer. Hi, John.
JOHN ZARRELLA, CNN NEWS CORRESPONDENT: Hi, Kiran. The people here have seen a hurricane like Felix before. And they never want to see another one like that again. It was Labor Day, 72 years ago, the most powerful hurricane to ever strike the United States swept across the Florida Keys. Winds estimated at 200 miles an hour. The issue back then was getting the people out. It still is today.
ZARRELLA (voice-over): When the Labor Day storm of 1935 was over, 400 people were dead. Roads and bridges and buildings were gone. The worst, but not the last.
ANNOUNCER: Hurricane Esther is continuing to move northward and headed for the Florida Keys.
ZARRELLA: Then there was Betsy.
ANNOUNCER: It suffered heavily.
ZARRELLA: And George, Rita, Wilma. Despite all that, Floridians can be stubborn.
RICK ROTH, SHERIFF, MONROE COUNTRY, FLORIDA: The worse issue is the fact that the people don't want to leave. We issue a mandatory evacuation order, the ones that have left last year, they should generally leave again this year, but most of them don't leave.
ZARRELLA: Next to New Orleans, the Keys are considered one of the last places you want to see a hurricane. The Pearl Necklace of islands are connected by two-lane bridges, 100 miles of road, in places, only a few feet above sea level.
BILLY WAGNER, FORMER EMERGENCY MANAGER: I can assure you that if Andrew were to pass into the lower Keys and we'd have gotten the main impact of that storm and the number of people that chose not to leave, we'd have lost thousands of people.
ZARRELLA: Officials have elaborate evacuation plans for tourists and residents, as well as a road map for getting relief supplies in, once the storm passes.
DAVID PAULISON, FEMA DIRECTOR: We have a tremendous amount of prescripted mission assignments that we did not have during Katrina, with a lot of federal agencies. We have the Department of Defense with heavy lift helicopters.
ZARRELLA: For those reasons, emergency planners here say they are better prepared for a major hurricane than perhaps anywhere else.
ZARRELLA: And it's never a problem getting the tourists to leave, but it seems like it's always a problem to get the locals -- they call them here the Konks -- to get up and move. No matter how good that plan is, Kiran, if the locals won't respond it's not going to work -- Kiran?
CHETRY: We have talked about it year after year. It's a source of pride almost to say you're going to hunker down and stay, not to try to get out on that one road to get out on route one.
ZARRELLA: Exactly, and that's going to, one of these days, come back to haunt them perhaps, something that nobody here ever wants to see.
CHETRY: John Zarrella, live, in beautiful Key West this morning. No sign of any trouble there today, thanks.
ROBERTS: Remember these dancers? We told you about them a couple weeks ago. They're a huge hit on YouTube. They're also some of the worst prisoners in the Philippines. We'll tell you how dancing turning their lives around, ahead on "AMERICAN MORNING."
CHETRY: Welcome back to the most news in the morning on this Labor Day. We have some health headlines in your "Quick Hits" now. Austrian researchers found that drug-coated heart stents may not increase the risk of blood clots as much as previously thought. Research last year suggested the devices may be responsible for a rise in the number of fatal blood clots. But researchers in this study, in particular, said there was no significant difference between patients who received the drug stents and those who received the bare metal ones. Some 6 million people have stents. They're implanted in your heart arteries to keep them open.
Doctors say rigorous exercise could put athletes at greater risk for cardiac problems, like an abnormal heartbeat, and the results could be fatal. They're recommending regular heart screenings for athletes. Right now Italy is the only country that requires heart testing for all of its professional athletes.
Hospitals in New Jersey are bringing picture boards into their emergency rooms. The idea is to help patients who don't speak English. Show me where it hurts. Point to the icon showing problems, pain, a burn, breathing trouble or a fall. Doctors say they ought to be in every ambulance, every hospital and every clinic because communication barriers can lead to misunderstandings and medical errors.
ROBERTS: We're taking you behind the music, inside the place responsible for one of the most popular videos on YouTube.
CHETRY: When you first see it you think it must be a gag. It's men and women dancing to Michael Jackson's "Thriller." These are not ordinary people.
ROBERTS: Some of the Philippines most hardened and brutal criminals. The warden says this is what's keeping gang violence down there. CHETRY: We sent CNN's Hugh Riminton there to take a closer look.
HUGH RIMINTON, CNN NEWS CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): At Cebu Detention and Rehabilitation Center every able-bodied inmate must dance.
(on camera): Just in case you get the wrong idea, these prisoners are in here because they are the toughest criminals in all the central Philippines. Seventy percent of them are rated high risk inmates and that means most of them are rapists or murderers.
(voice-over): Many, however, could be innocent, still waiting for their cases to come to trial. The prisoner overseer rejects claims he's abusing the prisoner's rights by forcing them to dance so many however a day.
BYRON GARCIA, CEBU PRISON OVERSEER: We have dancing but still it does not affect how they feel about themselves. They're still men, although they dance.
RIMINTON: When Garcia took over three years ago, gangs and corrupt guards ruled this jail. Garcia sacked most of the guards and ordered the prisoners first to march, and then to dance. He says there's been not a single act of violence in more than a year.
Now, not guards, but fellow prisoners guide the rehearsals, led by an accused mass murder. Leo Swayko (ph) tells me the dancing has taught him laughter.
Back in the cell she shares with 11 other transsexual prisoners, Wenjiell Resane, who has waited three years for trial on drug charges, is enjoying her times of stardom.
WENJIELL RESANE, PRISONER (through translator): It never leaves my mind that I'm a prisoner, but I'm very happy and proud of what I have done.
RIMINTON: Her co-star, a one-time professional dancer, agrees.
CRISANTO NIERE, PRISONER (through translator): The atmosphere has changed. We're being treated as humans.
Before, my son was ashamed of me, but now he tells all his school mates his dad is a dancer on YouTube.
RIMINTON: It's rehabilitation, one step at a time.
Hugh Riminton, CNN, Cebu, the Philippines.
CHETRY: I know why, maybe they should stick with "Thriller," not "YMCA."
ROBERTS: I know why they don't commit crimes after they get out, just too embarrassed.
CHETRY: Hey, aren't you that guy doing YMCA on YouTube? You can have my wallet.
ROBERTS: Exactly. I'll beat you silly.
Two Egyptian college students charged with carrying explosives in South Carolina. Police say one was even trying to teach others how to make bombs. Is it terrorism or something else? A live report ahead, on "AMERICAN MORNING."
ROBERTS: Team USA has some of the best whiskers in the world. Be proud, America, our boys brought home four top honors at World's Beard and Mustache Championships in England. Two hundred and fifty guys competed in seven categories, the English-style mustache, slender with hair extremely long pulled to the side.
CHETRY: Look at that one. Now, if you...
ROBERTS: To the freestyle category, where you might find this guy, who shaped his scruff like the London Bridge. Take a look at that.
CHETRY: That's pretty creative.
ROBERTS: Isn't that incredible? Competitors can't use hair extensions or hair pins but can use wax and hair spray. They get the intent and effect.
CHETRY: Beautiful. I like that one. How about it? Congrats, USA.
The next hour of "AMERICAN MORNING" starts right now.
ROBERTS: Category 5, a monster on the move. Hurricane Felix tears through the Caribbean. The latest path and the race to get out of the way.
Plus, pulling back.
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