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Simpson Freed?; Sports Memorabilia & Money; 'Jena 6' Protests; Gerri's Top Tips

Aired September 19, 2007 - 10:00   ET


TONY HARRIS, CNN ANCHOR: Tennis rackets. Whatever they could find. Oh, look at that! Finally, though, the students had to retreat. Get out of here. They're being housed in nearby motels until the dorm is exterminated. The students may also get -- oh, by, this is painful, rabies shots as a precaution.
HEIDI COLLINS, CNN ANCHOR: And on that note, good morning, everybody. I'm Heidi Collins.

HARRIS: And I'm Tony Harris. Staying informed all day on the CNN NEWSROOM. Here's what on the rundown.

O.J. Simpson in court to face felony, kidnapping and robbery charges. Will he get bail? Live coverage on CNN.

COLLINS: Thousands expected to converge on Jena, Louisiana, today. The town bracing for a massive rally tomorrow in support of the Jena 6.

HARRIS: Home buyers, home owners, the Fed made its move. Time to make yours. Scouting cheaper mortgages on Wednesday, September 19th. You are in the CNN NEWSROOM.

COLLINS: Unfolding this hour, O.J. Simpson, new charges and this morning a chance to get out of jail. CNN's Chris Lawrence is in Las Vegas for the hearing today.

Hi there, Chris.

What can we expect to see today?

CHRIS LAWRENCE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Heidi, if everything goes according to plan, all of this should be getting started within the next hour, O.J. Simpson will be in court. Just to give you kind of an overview look at what's go on here now, you can see there are a lot more officers standing outside the courtroom for security purposes than on a normal day. It was nothing like this yesterday or the day before. And you can see a small crowd of people starting to gather around the courthouse.

We can also take you for a look inside the courtroom for a live camera. There are over 100 seats in this courtroom. The hearing will be opened to public and the media. Shouldn't last more than five or 10 minutes. And in about 45 minutes, guards are going to bring O.J. Simpson through an underground tunnel and take him from the jail here to the courthouse. When he sits in that courtroom, he will most likely be wearing his prison jumpsuit and be cuffed on his arms and his legs.


COLLINS: Chris, we know O.J.'s been making different statements since he was arrested. Any chance some of those could come back to haunt him, specifically today, in this bail hearing?

LAWRENCE: Well, possibly not so much with the bail hearing, but down the road, as we move towards a trial, very possibly. You know, in those first couple of days after his arrest, O.J. Simpson was talking to anyone and everyone who wanted to listen. You know, when he was referencing the men that he brought with him into the room he said, "I wanted them to go to the room and see it was my stuff and call me."

He talked about how, "I didn't look at the stuff. I saw the balls down in the car," referencing some of the autographed balls that he had taken out and then was placed in a car. So he is on record, so to speak, and the question will be as this moves forward, how much of that is actually admissible.

COLLINS: Yes, that will be the big one, won't it? All right, Chris Lawrence coming to us live this morning from Las Vegas.

Chris, thank you.

Want to give you a quick breakdown now of the charges that O.J. Simpson faces. Ten of the 11 counts are felonies. They are conspiracy to commit kidnapping, conspiracy to commit robbery, and coercion with the use of a deadly weapon. Other charges, burglary while in possession of a deadly weapon and two counts of first-degree kidnapping with use of a deadly weapon. More felony charges now. Two counts of robbery with use of a deadly weapon and two counts of assault with a deadly weapon. And the one misdemeanor, conspiracy to commit a crime.

HARRIS: Sports memorabilia and money. Big questions surrounding O.J. Simpson this morning. CNN's Thelma Gutierrez went in search of some answers.


THELMA GUTIERREZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT, (voice over): Almost every single day for a year and a half, back in 1995, Mike Gilbert says he visited O.J. Simpson at the men's central jail. And each time, he says, he took thousands of pieces of memorabilia for the fallen football star to sign.

Since an autograph brought in money, big money, and Gilbert, Simpson's marketing agent for nearly 20 years, brokered the deals.

MIKE GILBERT, FORMER SIMPSON AGENT: His income from commercials and endorsements and so forth were probably $1 million a year plus. His memorabilia, marketing, he could make four appearances a year. So about $200,000 a year. GUTIERREZ: Gilbert says Simpson memorabilia continued to sell after the criminal trial. That Simpson made tens of thousands of dollars in cash deals for his signature.

GILBERT: The first thousand we sold in about 30 days for $250 a piece. That's a quart of a million dollars in a month.

GUTIERREZ: When the family of Ron Goldman was awarded $30 million in a wrongful death civil suit against Simpson, Gilbert says he and others helped O.J. hide his valuables, including Tiffany lamps, Persian rugs and sports memorabilia.

GILBERT: I know where O.J. had lockers in different people's names to hide things from the Goldmans.

GUTIERREZ: Mike Gilbert say his also had a locker filled with Simpson memorabilia and says recently someone raided it. That some of the items ended up in that Las Vegas hotel room where Simpson is accused of stealing it. He mentions Mike's name on tape several times.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: O.J., I'll give you Mike's number if you want it.

O.J. SIMPSON: Gimme. Gimme that (EXPLETIVE DELETED) number. Gimme Mike's number. I want Mike's number.

Think you can steal my (EXPLETIVE DELETED).




GILBERT: There was autographed books, there's photos, there's jerseys, there's helmets, there's game balls and just a litany of items that were there.

GUTIERREZ: If you were to put a value on those items, what would you say that it would be? What's the street value of some of that memorabilia?

GILBERT: Maybe, gosh, anywhere from $100,000 to a quarter million.

GUTIERREZ: Gilbert says Simpson was looking for something else. The suit he wore on the day of his acquittal.

GILBERT: I have his suit. He'll never, every get the suit back. He gave it to me the day after the verdict.

GUTIERREZ: The suit's price tag? He says he's been offered $25,000.

GILBERT: I made him a lot of money. And I made money. It was my job.

GUTIERREZ: In the end, Gilbert say he regrets helping Simpson. That he always believed he was guilty of killing his wife, Nicole, and Ron Goldman, even from the day his own wife broke the news.

GILBERT: She said, Michael, you need to get to Rockingham. Nicole's been murdered and O.J.'s in handcuffs. First words out of my mouth were, he finally did it. One day I've never gone to Nicole's grave and said I'm sorry. You know, so one day I'll do that. And then, I think I'll maybe have that peace I've been looking for.

GUTIERREZ: Gilbert says he would now like to help the Goldman's identify memorabilia and other valuables they may be entitled to.

Thelma Gutierrez, CNN, Fresno, California.


COLLINS: We'll have live coverage of O.J. Simpson's arraignment. It is scheduled for 11:00 a.m. Eastern, 8:00 Pacific. You can see it right here on CNN. And if you can't watch it on CNN, you can see the courtroom drama on your laptop. Just log on to and watch it streamed live. You can also read the full arrest report, if you're interested in that. It is on

HARRIS: The other story we are watching closely for you this morning, protests are converging on a Louisiana town today. One torn by racial tensions. Civil rights demonstrators plan a march in Jena in support of the so-called Jena 6. Black students accused of beating a white classmate. Susan Roesgen is in Jena.

And, Susan, this is a town of, oh, about, what, 2,900, 3,000 people, bracing for anywhere from, what, 5,000 to some estimates of 40,000 people. My goodness, how is the town preparing?

SUSAN ROESGEN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, you can see already, Tony, the barricades that have gone up behind me here on the courthouse lawn. This town really doesn't know what to expect. Whether it be 6,000 people, twice as many people protesting as actually live in this town. Could there be 30,000 people here, 10 times as many people as actually live here? They just don't know what to expect. And they don't really know what the mood of this rally is going to be.

Now they know that it could have been more contentious. It could have been even really an angry crowd if Mychal Bell, the first of the Jena 6 to go on trial, was actually going to be sentenced tomorrow. You know, last week his convictions were thrown out, so he won't be sentenced.

The Reverend Al Sharpton is going to meet today with Mychal Bell at the jail here in LaSalle Parish, in Jena, to talk to him about this -- what Reverend Sharpton calls this national movement in support of him. Reverend Sharpton told me, Tony, that he wanted to keep up the outside pressure on this community, on the local legal system until not only Mychal Bell's case is resolved, but also the five other cases against the five other teenagers accused in this case.

So in the town this morning, I actually was in McDonald's when you were interviewing one of the protest organizers who's going to be on a bus bringing people up from Atlanta. I was in that McDonald's, three white men jumped up. They were watching the screen intently, shaking their heads saying, no, no.

I went over there and talked to them and they said this is awful, this is terrible that people are coming here. What if it had been white students who had attacked a black student? So even your interview, Tony, which I think really was a very fair and balanced interview, drew protests from three white people in the McDonald's. And the McDonald's is going to close tomorrow. It's one of many businesses here, if not all businesses, that are going to be shut down because they don't want what they expect to be some trouble from the people who come for this rally.


HARRIS: This is going to be hot. I mean there's not question tomorrow it's going to be hot in Jena.

I have to ask you, you talked to Justin Barker. And Justin is the young man who was beaten. And I'm wonder if he feels, first of all, the jury in the Mychal Bell case got it right? And how much support is there for that notion that the jury actually got it right here?

ROESGEN: Well, Justin Barker told me last night, Tony, that he believes the kids should have taken a plea deal. He has suggested what others have suggested, that the D.A. offer plea deals to those students and that they would have gotten less time if they accepted the plea deal.

Now their parents told me a long time ago, Tony, that there was no way they would accept a plea deal if they believe that they were innocence. All six boys have pleaded innocent and their parents all say these were the wrong kids, they were not involved in that fight. No way are we going to plead guilty to anything and have any kind of plea deal.

Justin Barker is very angry. He says there's all this support for the black students and he says really very little for him.

HARRIS: I can understand that. Yes.

ROESGEN: He says some white groups have called him, but he said we don't want to stir things up. We're not encouraging any white groups to do anything with my family. He said I just want the death threats to stop and the hate mail to stop. And he's really angry.

HARRIS: Yes. I'm actually going to be down there with you tomorrow, Susan. I just want to sort of take it in for myself. I can't wait. It's going to be hot. And I'm really curious.

Susan Roesgen for us in Jena, Louisiana. Susan, thank you.

COLLINS: Three-day suspensions according to reports. The punishment for three white students behind the nooses in Jena, Louisiana. One day after black students sat under a tree where white's typically gathered, three nooses were found hanging from the branches. CNN's Kyra Phillips talked with the U.S. attorney for the region. She asked why federal charges were not filed against the white students.


DONALD WASHINGTON, U.S. ATTORNEY: Our process say that for juveniles, if you're under the age of 18, we have to certify you and give a good reason to bring you in the federal court for the very same reason that the state is attempting to get Mychal Bell into state district court today. Hey, we have an even stronger process, I believe, in trying to decide amongst ourselves when and how we should prosecutor someone who has not reached the age of majority yet.

The other thing that we did in this particular case is to establish, to the best of our ability, that there were no other adult -- there was no other adult involvement. There were no -- there was no indication of the KKK, the Arian Nation or any other hate group, for that matter. It appeared to be that these three folks, for whatever reason, decided to hang those nooses that day.


COLLINS: Washington says his offices offered to help the school and the community deal with the racial issues now in the spotlight.


WASHINGTON: They live in a very diverse world that it's not just Jena, Louisiana, as we will soon see on Thursday when all these folks diverge here, that this is a larger planet and they've got to live in it like the rest of us.


COLLINS: Schools and many businesses in Jena will be closed when the march takes place tomorrow. CNN goes inside the racial tensions in Jena, Louisiana. Tune in for a CNN Special Investigations Unit report, "Judgment in Jena." That's tomorrow night at 8:00 Eastern only on CNN.

HARRIS: And up next, CNN contributor, there he is, Roland Martin talks about tomorrow's march and the search for justice in Jena.

COLLINS: You've probably seen that video.


ANDREW MEYER, UNIVERSITY OF FLORIDA STUDENT: Don't tas me, bro. Don't tas me! I didn't do anything. Ow! (END VIDEO CLIP)

COLLINS: Now we're learning more about the student tasered by University of Florida police.

HARRIS: A notorious defendant in court this morning looking for bail. Will the judge bite? Live coverage of O.J. Simpson's arraignment straight ahead for you in the CNN NEWSROOM.


COLLINS: You are in the CNN NEWSROOM. I'm Heidi Collins.

Phil Spector, standing by. The jury, stuck. Will the judge make a move to get a verdict? We'll tell you about that.

And arguments over the alleged astronaut love triangle. Who could forget? Remember? It's still going on. Back in court this morning, in fact. The defense hoping to eliminate some of the evidence.


COLLINS: We want to go ahead and take a look at this happening right now. Live pictures inside Clark County, otherwise known as Las Vegas, I guess. Near Las Vegas, Nevada. And you know what's happening there. O.J. Simpson. This is an arraignment hearing. We're going to be hearing whether or not the judge will decide to give him bail. Interesting in this case. A lot of interesting things. But one of them, anyway, all of the other defendants are out on bail. O.J. Simpson is not. So that is the interest today. We're going to watch that for you and bring it to you live when it happens. Should be around 11:00 Eastern Time.

HARRIS: A small town at the center of a big racial debate. Thousands of demonstrators expected to converge on Jena, Louisiana, tomorrow. A rally is planned in support of the so-called Jena 6. Black students charged in the beating of a white classmate. CNN contributor Roland Martin here now with some insights.

All right. Let's take this apart.


HARRIS: Do you think this is a good idea, anywhere from 5,000 to 40,000 converging on that small town, 3,000 people? And is there a chance here, Roland, that this will harden attitudes in that town and make it even more difficult for the African-Americans who call Jena home 24/7?

MARTIN: Well, there's always a chance of that. But historically we've heard that. We've heard the same thing in the '50s and the '60s in terms of, if you come in, protest, it's going to make it difficult for us live here. But reality is, justice trumps that. And the fight for equal justice trumps that. And so, therefore, people have to let their feelings be known. But the other piece is, I've had folks from the city on my radio show in Chicago and they talked about the fact that 85 percent white, 15 percent black. They have no presence, no voice. And so many also are welcoming that as well. And so sometimes I think that that simply trumps your own personal views about living there.

HARRIS: Justice. Let's talk about justice for a moment here. Something tells me -- and take this apart -- that if we had videotape this, as it's being described, that people might be looking at this whole episode through a different prism. In talking about justice, is there a chance that with the reduced charges that Mychal Bell was convicted of, that the jury may have actually gotten this right? I just raise it as a question to you.

MARTIN: The issue of Jena is not necessarily the jury's decision. That's not the primary issue.

HARRIS: You're going to take me to the prosecutor?

MARTIN: No, that's the problem at issue.


MARTIN: I haven't heard anyone say that if they actually beat the young man, beat the white teen, they should not be penalized.

HARRIS: Exactly.

MARTIN: What people are objecting to is the D.A. seeking attempted murder charges for a fight. Granted he was beat unconscious. Unconscious for three hours. You see his swollen face. But late that night he attended a party.


MARTIN: Now compare that to what took place in West Virginia. Here you have a woman who is beaten, hot water thrown on her while she is sexually abused, forced to eat rat and dog feces, kidnapped for an entire week, I mean mutilated. The most aggressive charge was kidnapping. So attempted murder for a beating, this woman is hospitalized, kidnapped for an entire week, the most aggressive charge really is kidnapping, aggravated assault. You see, that's the problem on that (ph).

HARRIS: And is the answer racism? Is that -- this is an example of racism at work? Is that the answer? Is that a prosecutor responding to the standards set by his community or is that, hah-ha, the big "r" -- racism in the room again.

MARTIN: Well, first of all, I can't say it's racism. But you have to ask the question, is it actually justice?


MARTIN: When the D.A. says that the shoe was the weapon, normally when you think of attempted murder, you're thinking a knife, gun, pipe.

HARRIS: You don't think Nike.

MARTIN: Right, you're not thinking of a shoe.

HARRIS: Right.

MARTIN: That really is what the issue here is. Now and also the question is, well, do you actually charge him as a juvenile or an adult? Again, I'm a firm believer that if they beat the guy, they should -- they should pay for it. Now the question is, do you send them to jail for 80 years for a fight? That's the issue there.

Also, an overlooked issue, and it sort of ties into the O.J. deal. Of course, you know, you've got to pull the two together.


MARTIN: You're going to have 10,000 to 40,000 people in Jena, Louisiana tomorrow.


MARTIN: Mostly African-American. Is there any white outrage or white fight for equal justice?

HARRIS: In this case?

MARTIN: Right. Because we look at the people who are really mad at O.J., they're not necessarily African-American. I mean in terms of how it breaks down. Let's just be honest about it.


MARTIN: So, you know, people who will mad at O.J. for getting off, I get that. OK. But where is the outrage in terms of this? Do you have people who say, you know what, I just don't think that was fair to prosecute six people for a fight, even if it was a brutal fight, on attempted murder.


MARTIN: No motive. You're going to have that there as well. So I'm just wondering, where's that level of outrage as well?

HARRIS: Right.

Are you at all troubled by the fact, and it bothers me from time to time, that we don't have these kids, none of these kids apparently was there, not a single one of them, that I've heard come forward and say, none of these kids have offered an explanation as to who might have been involved. Are you . . .

MARTIN: That's also part of the problem.

HARRIS: Doesn't it bother you that even if you're fighting for your life here. Hello! I heard about the fight. I know something -- but not me.

MARTIN: Well, actually, one of the young men who was charged, he said that he heard the fight . . .

HARRIS: And ran to it, right.

MARTIN: He ran to see what was going on. Wasn't involved.

The other issue that some people have raised is that one of the white teens had a shotgun. One of the black teens took the shotgun from him. And one of the black teens was charged with theft.


MARTIN: Well, I'm sorry, if a guy is facing me with a gun, I probably going to take the gun as well. Those are some of the problems that people have with this case.

HARRIS: You going? You going to be there?

MARTIN: Possibly. I'm (INAUDIBLE) Chicago. So I'm in like three different cities. So we're trying to make it.

HARRIS: OK. Well, I'll find you, you find me if you're there. All right.

MARTIN: Always look for the lights, come on.

HARRIS: All right then.

Rowland, great to see you.

MARTIN: Glad to be here.

HARRIS: Hope to see you tomorrow.

Just another reminder, CNN goes inside the racial tensions in Jena, Louisiana. Tune in for a CNN Special Investigation Unit report, "Judgment in Jena." That is tomorrow night 8:00 Eastern only on CNN.

COLLINS: More fallout after the tasering of a college student. Two campus police officers suspended now this morning. The investigation just beginning. The University of Florida president asking for the state to investigate and expressing deep regret.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The black eye is that civil discourse didn't occur. I've admitted that. I'm embarrassed by it. And I don't want it to happen again.



ANDREW MEYER, UNIVERSITY OF FLORIDA STUDENT: I didn't do anything! Don't tas me, bro. Don't tas me! I didn't do anything!


HARRIS: Meyer was tasered Monday after he refused to leave Senator John Kerry alone, pounding Kerry with requests and ignoring requests to leave the Q&A mic. Police jumped in and struggled with Meyer. He now faces charges of resisting police and disturbing the peace. Meyer is known as a prankster with his own website. It's not clear if his antics were an attention-getting stunt.

HARRIS: Wipha whips eastern China. The typhoon turns tropical storm.


The big question today for homeowners, is it time to refinance? "Top Tips" next in the CNN NEWSROOM.


HARRIS: Checking the big board now, New York Stock Exchange. The Dow inside the first hour of the trading day, up 87 point. Oh, yes, happy days. Three hundred and thirty-five points yesterday. Eighty-seven inside the first. Where are we going today?

And, Tom, where's the Nasdaq? The Nasdaq plus 21. We are following all of the business news this morning with Susan Lisovicz in the CNN NEWSROOM.

COLLINS: Plenty of people scouting a possible mortgage refi today. That follows the Fed's bolt cut in key interest rates. Let's talk to CNN personal finance editor Gerri Willis.

Wow. This has been pretty exciting to watch those numbers jump all over the place, Gerri. But, really, in the wake of all of this, in the rate cut, is this the time to refinance?

WILLIS: Well, good morning, Heidi.

Yes, you want to think about refinancing first. Whether or not you should do it depends on what kind of mortgage you have and what its terms are.

Generally speaking, though, if you're stuck in an adjustable rate mortgage in which your interest rate is ratcheting higher all the time, the Fed's move, sorry to say it, won't make much difference to you. That's because mortgage lenders have already anticipated much of what the Fed has done. If you have an adjustable rate mortgage that you want to get out of, however, now is a good time to lock into a 30- year fixed rate mortgage. Rates are still below their long-term average of 8 percent. And some experts believe that fixed rates will creep up over time. Locking in now, hey, it will allow you to beat that move.

COLLINS: What about other types of loans then? WILLIS: Hey, it's good news for home equity borrowers. The one winner here, home equity lines of credit. HELOCs are generally tied to the prime rate, which moves with the rate the Fed cut yesterday. So rates on HELOCs will probably go down about a half percent. This will give a little breathing room to folks with this kind of debt. Savings could show up as soon as your next statement. And borrowers looking for a new fixed rate home equity loan will also see lower rates.

COLLINS: Is there a -- any good news at all for the consumer in all of this?

WILLIS: Credit card rates will decline. The vast majority of credit cards carry variable rates. The Feds move will help many credit card holders and any adjustments will show up in the next couple of billing cycles if, that is, the change doesn't drop you below floors that the credit card issuer sets. Those lower rates are going to allow you to pay that debt off even faster.

Student loan rates also coming down. There will be an improvement here with the Fed's moves. But, you know what, savers will get little help from this because interest rates on CDs and money market funds, hey, they are likely to fall.

COLLINS: All right. Well, we're still looking for the silver lining, definitely.

Gerri Willis, thank you.

WILLIS: You're welcome.

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

COLLINS: Good morning, everybody. You are in the CNN NEWSROOM. I'm Heidi Collins.

HARRIS: Hey, Heidi.

I'm Tony Harris.

Welcome back. Good morning, everyone.

O.J. Simpson heads to court in just a few minutes. His attorney will ask that he be freed on bail. You are looking now at live pictures from inside the courtroom in Las Vegas. Meanwhile, we're hearing from more of the key players in the Simpson case. CNN's Larry King spoke with Thomas Riccio, the man who recorded the confrontation in the Las Vegas hotel room. He also arranged the meeting between Simpson and the collectors that Simpson accused of stealing his memorabilia.


THOMAS RICCIO, RECORDED CONFRONTATION: I didn't set anybody up. This was -- in fact O.J. had some even stranger ideas on how to do this before.

Well, he wanted to do this so-called sting, as he kept calling it, and then have the media there and talk about how people are trying to rob from O.J. and make people feel sorry for him. I didn't think that would work. I said let's just get the stuff.

They were going to give him the stuff before the gun came out. It wasn't suppose odd to that way. We talked about it several times. I have proof of that, that we talked about it. He was supposed to go in there, give them the option of calling the police or turning stuff over to him, that's it, that's all that was supposed to happen. All of this other stuff, I can't answer why.


HARRIS: What's going on here? The collectors say Simpson memorabilia was just part of the collection assembled in the room. The items have been valued at about $100,000. Simpson maintains that no guns were involved and that it was not a robbery. We will have, again, live coverage of his court appearance at 11:00 Eastern Time. Again, the arraignment coming up shortly. It is scheduled, again, for 11:00 a.m., 8:00 Pacific, and you can see it right here in the CNN NEWSROOM. And if you can't watch it on CNN, see the courtroom drama on your laptop. Another way to approach it, I suppose.

Just log on to and watch it streamed live. You can also read the full arrest report at

COLLINS: From this hotel and casino to a Las Vegas courtroom, we'll look at how the latest O.J. Simpson case unfolded.

ALESSIO VINCI, CNN CORRESPONDENT: And I'm Alessio Vinci in Baghdad. The American government is suspending all movement of its civilian personnel throughout Baghdad. I'll tell you why after the break.

HARRIS: What you eat can effect your brain. Some food for thought before you bite into that next burger.



HARRIS: New fallout from a shooting that left Iraqi civilians dead. Iraq's prime minister now calling on Washington to end its contract with the private security company at the center of the controversy.

Live now to CNN's Alessio Vinci in Baghdad. Alessio, good to see you.

How is all of this changing the security situation for Americans in Baghdad?

VINCI: Well, a big change here for security personnel in this country for the time being, Tony. Basically the U.S. government has decided to hold for the time being and suspend for the time being all ground movement of its civilian personnel throughout Baghdad, with the exception of the so-called international zone, or the green zone, that is controlled by the multinational force here. The spokesman for the U.S. ambassador here told us this is a temporary measure that was necessary, first of all, to review the overall security situation here. But also to minimize as much as possible the possibility of increased attack, attacks against U.S. personnel here that are protected by these private security firms. We're also told that this temporary ban will be reviewed on a daily basis.

Now, meanwhile, as you mentioned, we heard from the Iraqi prime minister, Nuri al-Maliki. He called Sunday's incident a crime, he said, a crime that led to the death of many civilians. And he urged the U.S. government to basically drop Blackwater and to basically hire another security firm. The U.S. embassy spokesman this morning with whom we spoke basically said that this temporary ban will have a major impact on these operations here, if you count, for example, that Blackwater has more than 1,000 security personnel here protecting on the U.S. assets.

Tony, back to you.

HARRIS: And, Alessio, just talk to us about how Iraqis there are reacting to the Blackwater incident.

VINCI: Well we had the opportunity earlier today to go to the hospital, where most of those were wounded in these -- on Sunday's attack were taken. And we spoke to some survivors there, and basically they seemed to contradict Blackwater's versions of events, saying that Blackwater personnel fired in response of the fact that they were fired upon first.

HARRIS: CNN's Alessio Vinci for us in Baghdad. Alessio, appreciate it. Thank you.

COLLINS: Eastern China slam by Typhoon Wipha. The system now downgraded to a tropical storm. There was little damage to the financial center of Shanghai. More than two million people were ordered out of coastal area as head of Wipha. Hundreds of homes were destroyed, streets flooded, schools, factories shutdown, flights canceled or delayed. Two storm-related deaths also reported.


HARRIS: Let's take you to Beirut, Lebanon. Dramatic pictures, seeing them for the first time with you at home. Pictures just in to CNN. An explosion -- we're getting from the Associated Press -- has ripped through a Christian suburb east of the Lebanese capital. This, according to an army spokesman. We can look at these pictures together. No details now on the extent of injuries, but I think we can expect there will be some injuries associated we can see a couple look to be at least one vehicle on fire there.

Again, this is new information, new pictures just in to us here at CNN of an explosion that has gone off in a Christian suburb, again, east of Beirut. We will keep an eye on the situation for you and bring you an update on the information as sooner as we get it in the NEWSROOM.

COLLINS: Also another quick reminder of another story we are following all day today. We're going to have live coverage of O.J. Simpson's arraignment. It's scheduled for the top of the hour. You can see it here on CNN, and much more Simpson coverage as well before the top of the hour here in the CNN NEWSROOM.


HARRIS: I'm trying to find some additional information for you on this explosion. Pretty dramatic pictures so far. Not a whole lot of information to go with those pictures right now. But this is happening in Beirut, Lebanon right now. An explosion ripping through a Christian suburb east of the Lebanese capital. Don't know if we're talking about an attack at this point. Certainly no reporting that I can find to indicate that.

We're getting some new information. And there does seem to be -- we don't have the shot specifically right now -- but there is one car at the center of this explosion. The car, reportedly, belonging to a member of the parliament, is some of the reporting that we're getting from the Lebanese broadcasting corporation, the LBC. And the other reporting coming from an army spokesman and a senior security official. That would certainly indicate an attack. No one at this point claiming responsibility, but it is still some reporting that we have to follow up on.

But dramatic pictures, as you can see, as the scene unfolds before your eyes in Beirut, Lebanon. We will continue to follow this, explosion ripping through a Christian suburb east of the Lebanese capital. More information as soon as we get it, in the NEWSROOM.

COLLINS: And also happening right now, we want to show you live pictures inside that Las Vegas courtroom. You see most everyone is seated now, getting ready for the arraignment. O.J. Simpson's bail hearing as well, trying to find out whether or not the judge is going to grant him bail once and for all. Several charges now, 11 total, that O.J. Simpson faces, some of them felonies.

We will continue to follow this story. And as you know by now, It's 15 minutes away, the start of this proceeding. We'll bring it to you live on CNN.


CHRIS LAWRENCE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: I'm Chris Lawrence, standing live outside the courtroom in Las Vegas, Nevada, where O.J. Simpson just minutes away from finding out whether he will stay in jail or perhaps be set free.

HARRIS: O.J. Simpson -- a day in court, a new felony charge to fight. A preview of his morning in court.

CNN's Jeffrey Toobin ahead with a legal analysis.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK) COLLINS: O.J. Simpson due in court. Will he be freed from jail?

HARRIS: We have extensive coverage as we lead up to Simpson's appearance at the top of the hour. This is a live picture right now of the Las Vegas courtroom where Simpson will appear just minutes from right now. He faces charges that could send him to prison for life. His lawyer will ask for bail. We'll see that hearing live as part of our extensive coverage.

CNN's Chris Lawrence is in Las Vegas, and our Jeffrey Toobin will provide legal analysis from New York.

Let us again with Chris. And, Chris, normally, in these hearings, boy, if you're not paying close attention, they're over in a blink of an eye, but something tell me we've got a couple of issues to resolve. Simpson could be in the courtroom for a few moments, for a while, today?

LAWRENCE: Yes, by most accounts it shouldn't take too long. You're not going to see a tremendous amount of evidence presented here today. The big question is, the overriding question is, will O.J. Simpson go back to jail in the next hour or will he be set free? His lawyer is expected to ask the judge to allow him to post bond. And we do expect the judge to make that decision. Some of the factors involved, when you look at what the first judge looked at when he considered whether to allow O.J. to get out on bail and denied bail, was that they considered O.J. Simpson a flight risk, that he had no job in Las Vegas, he had no family here, he had no ties to the local community. His attorney will argue that, O.J. Simpson has no felony convictions, and there are several statements from some of the witnesses that are conflicting in nature.

So you will get two arguments on that side as to whether he should be granted bail -- Tony.

HARRIS: Well, Chris, just to sort of clarify here. So part of this is going to be a bond hearing, and then we are actually going to get a bit of a detailing of the charges, is that correct?

LAWRENCE: Correct. You'll get a detailing of the charges. The most serious being the kidnapping charges that were added yesterday. Those carry the possibility of life in prison.

Tony, just a quick second. I just want to show you a little bit of the scene here about what's happening here outside of the courtroom. Very serious charges. But somewhat of a silly scene outside the courtroom.

HARRIS: Are those Krispy Kreme doughnuts being walked in?

LAWRENCE: Yes, men in, you know, caveman uniforms. There's someone dressed up as a chicken there on the other side. People with O.J. signs in support of O.J. Simpson. So a little bit of a crazy scene outside the courthouse. A lot more security than we've noticed in recent days. I've seen some of the sheriff's deputies posted, just about on every corner surrounding the courthouse. And you can take a look, posted behind me as well.

So definitely a different scene here than we have seen the past few days.

HARRIS: So, the sideshow begins. Chris Lawrence for us in Las Vegas. Chris, stand by if you would, please. Thanks.

Here is a breakdown of the charges that Simpson now faces. Ten of the 11 counts are felonies. They are conspiracy to commit kidnapping, conspiracy to commit robbery and coercion with use of a deadly weapon. Other charges, Burglary while in possession of a deadly weapon, and two counts of first-degree kidnapping with use of a deadly weapon, more felony charges, two counts of robbery with use of a deadly weapon and two counts of assault with a deadly weapon. And the one misdemeanor, conspiracy to commit a crime.

COLLINS: Now we want to get a legal perspective for you as we continue to look at these live pictures. I'm not sure why it says "New York." Well, I guess it's just the time here. Sorry. It is obviously coming to you from Clark County, just outside of Las Vegas, Nevada there. Jeffrey Toobin is a CNN senior legal analyst for us. He's joining us now from New York. There we go. That's why we have the timeframe up, for New York.

Jeffrey, what are we going to see happen here today? Is O.J. going to be let out on bail?

JEFFREY TOOBIN, CNN SR. LEGAL ANALYST: Boy, it's hard to say. I think probably yes, given the fact that his co-defendant, not only has been released on bail, but was released on his own recognizance, even though the charges were similarly serious. The court and the police agreed to simply let him go and hope he comes back.

Simpson, obviously is in a different position, because he's so much more famous, he has presumably more financial assets, more of an opportunity to flee. But given that precedent, that seems like some sort of bail arrangement will be worked out.

COLLINS: What do you make of all of the counts now, Jeffrey? I mean, obviously we're look agent 10, 11 counts, many of them felonies. They've really sort of stepped up the numbers that they were going to put before O.J. Simpson.

TOOBIN: Yes, I wouldn't focus too much on the number of charges. I mean, there are often ways prosecutors can take the same set of facts and ramp up the number of charges.

But the core allegation remains the same. I mean, here we have a situation where Simpson is alleged, with a couple of others, to have gone into this memorabilia -- into this hotel room where there was memorabilia that he thought belonged to him,and he terrorized the people in there, took it away from them, somebody used a gun, and all of the charges, whether it's kidnapping, armed robbery, all relate to that core conduct.

I'm sorry. Go ahead. COLLINS: Doesn't the kidnapping charge change things a little bit, though?

TOOBIN: Not too much. Although it does increase his expose sure as a prison sentence. I mean, kidnapping can include -- I think most people when they hear kidnapping they think of the Lindbergh kidnapping; you know, we take someone away and hold them for ransom. If you go into a hotel room and say to someone, I'm holding you here at gunpoint against your will and you can't leave, under the definition of kidnapping in most states, that's kidnapping. So it's really the same set of facts. No one, as far as I'm aware, and perhaps we'll learn differently today, but no one alleges that Simpson removed anybody from that hotel room and took them somewhere and asked for ransom.

COLLINS: OK, we've got to talk about these witnesses now, don't we? Some would call them shady, at best. When you look at the prosecution's case, it's always based on witnesses and evidence, obviously. What about these people that may be, if we get this far, called to the stand at some point?

TOOBIN: Well, I mean, there was an extraordinary interview on "LARRY KING LIVE" last night with Tom Riccio, the main witness in this case, the memorabilia dealer who led Simpson to the hotel room in this purported sting operation. And based on what I learned about Riccio, if Riccio told me today was Wednesday, I would certainly check the newspaper first before I believed him.

COLLINS: Come on now.

TOOBIN: I mean, this was -- this guy -- and you know, what's especially troubling, for the prosecution, is, all right, O.J. Simpson is looking effectively at life in prison. Riccio, who seems perhaps as culpable, gets immunity.


TOOBIN: Now what's up with that?

COLLINS: I don't know. You tell me.