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Suicide Bomber in Pakistan, More Tornadoes on the Way, John Kerry Planning to Endorse Senator Barack Obama, Police Find Decomposing Bodies of Four Children, Heavy Fog and Smoke Keeps Florida Freeway at Standstill

Aired January 10, 2008 - 09:00   ET


TONY HARRIS, CNN ANCHOR: Good morning, everyone. You are in the CNN NEWSROOM.
I'm Tony Harris.

HEIDI COLLINS, CNN ANCHOR: Hi, everybody. I'm Heidi Collins.

Watch events come into the NEWSROOM live on Thursday morning. Here's what's on the rundown: new terror in Pakistan. A suicide bomber leaves dozens dead or wounded outside a courthouse.

HARRIS: One day after a 70-car pileup, heavy fog and smoke keeps Florida's Interstate Four closed this hour.

COLLINS: A marine, pregnant and missing. Is her disappearance related to testimony in a criminal case? Searching for Maria Lauterbach, in the NEWSROOM.

Unfolding this hour, a stretch of Interstate Four remains closed this morning, one day after that catastrophic pile-up in central Florida. CNN's John Zarrella has the very latest now. Snow and fog just refuse to lift.

John, what are conditions like out there now?

JOHN ZARRELLA, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Heidi, a little better. We can see the sun is beginning to break through some of the smoke and the fog here. Earlier this morning, visibility here, according to the local Polk County Sheriff's Department, was about a foot. And I can tell you, you can barely see your hand in front of your face here. Take a look behind me there. We can now, at least, see the Interstate Four sign there in the distance.

Beyond that, the overpass leading down to Interstate Four, but you still can't see the highway this morning. Over to my left, you can get a real good idea of exactly how thick that smoke and fog still remains here this morning. Now, what happened was up until about 3:30 this morning, highway crews were out there, they have stripped the highway. They were regrading portions of that highway so that they could possibly get it reopened today.

At some point today, they had to suspend that work because of the thickness of the fog and smoke. So, at this point, they still have no idea when Interstate Four is going to reopen, if it's going to reopen later today, and, again, it was a 70-car pileup yesterday where folks said they literally hit a wall of smoke and fog.


ZARRELLA (voice-over): It was a tragedy borne out of deadly fog and smoke. About 70 vehicles crashed on a highway between Tampa and Orlando as a brushfire's soupy mix blanketed the area. Sounds of metal grinding mangled steel filled the darkness. Poor visibility hampered rescue efforts and rescuers walked the long stretch of highway checking vehicles for the injured. One of those injured, a sheriff's deputy, worked to save others even as the cars piled up.

GRADY JUDD, SHERIFF, POLK COUNTY, FLORIDA: He drove out of the vehicle crash area, approximately 50 or 75 yards, stopped his vehicle, and then went back to try to help others involved in the crashes.

ZARRELLA: The deputy was said to be haunted by what he had seen and those he couldn't save. Among them, a man he saw burn to death. Florida officials are investigating the crash and the role smoke played in it, from a fire that had started as a controlled burn but grew out of firefighters' grasp.

UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN: There was a lot of people hurt. A lot of people. And there was no warning.


ZARRELLA (on camera): Now, local officials are telling us what happened here yesterday was literally the way they put it, the perfect storm. You had the mix of the fog. You had the mix of the smoke and that really intensified that dense fog layer. Now, authorities are telling us that even if they do get this road reopened at some point today, Heidi, if the same fog conditions return again tomorrow morning, that they are going to err on the side of caution, and you can bet they will close the road down again -- Heidi?

COLLINS: Yes, I wonder, John, is it sort of like a valley right there in that area -- where this smoke and this fog seems to really settle? I can't believe that it hasn't dissipated by now?

ZARRELLA: Yes, you are absolutely right. There's a very low- level area here and, on top of that, this section of Interstate Four pretty much cuts through a swamp. So, you have the moisture coming off the swamp, you have this low-level area. So, thick fog is not unusual in this part along Interstate Four, but it's not common to have it as thick as it was and that is because of the mix of the fog with the smoke from that controlled burn that got out of control -- Heidi?

COLLINS: Boy, that's for sure. All right, CNN's John Zarrella.

Thanks so much, John.

HARRIS: Right now, let's take you to Detroit, Michigan right now. Dramatic pictures to show you right now of a tanker accident and subsequent fire. Look, let's tell it like it is. Police say this tanker actually exploded. It fell off of Interstate 75 in southwest Detroit and landed on a home and you can see the scene here now, tape from our affiliate there in Detroit, WDIV, from earlier. But certainly new video in to us here at CNN at this time. The tanker and the home, as you can see here, on fire. I-75 northbound, the lanes there at Fourth Street, if you're familiar with this area of Detroit, are closed, as you will expect. I-75 southbound, those lanes at Dearborn also closed right now. But take a look at the pictures.

Again, this is a tanker that has fallen off the interstate. Imagine that? And it has exploded. Fallen off the interstate on to a home and no word, at least at this point, of any injuries. We will continue to follow this story and get the pictures back up to you as soon as we can. We should probably tell this weather story now, Heidi. Back in Florida. Jacqui Jeras is, of course, following that for us, in the Severe Weather Center. Jacqui, good morning.

JACQUI JERAS, METEOROLOGIST: Good morning, guys. You could see visibility was starting to get a little bit better, where John Zarrella was. We think, by the top of this hour, the advisories will expire and visibility will greatly improve. But, we could be talking about a couple of days with this dense fog because of that smoke and what we call an inversion layer. We got warm air a little bit higher up and that is trapping everything at the surface and something else that played a big factor. John was talking about the smoke.

Well, you know, there's a fire that releases little tiny pieces of ashes and dust and dirt into the air, and each one of those little individual pieces serves as what we call condensation nuclei -- there's your new term for the day, guys. And so, any water vapor or moisture in the atmosphere then condenses or collects upon that. And, that's why you're seeing such thick fog in that area My visibility is so poor. 22,500 miles up into space -- that's where the satellite picture is. You can see it from space. This is the image we got from NOAA from yesterday morning. This is very prominent and we do have fog advisories in effect for Polk County. There you can see it and also, we've got a lot of fog all along the I-10 corridor. The advisories have expired now from Houston to New Orleans, but still kind of lingering in northern parts of Florida and into southern parts of Georgia.

Another big weather concern today, north of those fog areas are showers and thunderstorms and some of these are going to be severe. Tornado watch just issued in the last ten minutes, and that includes much of the state of Mississippi, sitting down towards New Orleans, and kind of clips into the Memphis area. I think, southern parts of Memphis, technically in this watch. You want to be aware through the Memphis area, all of these storms are moving on through. And, we could see a tornado out of this. Then, also some delays at the airport because of those thunderstorms. Into the afternoon, we'll watch that area that spreads east and watch out for Nashville, extending all the way down towards Pensacola and the mobile area. It's going to be a busy weather day once again, guys. This has just been a crazy, crazy weather.

COLLINS: Weird, yes.

HARRIS: Did you get that term? That condensation... COLLINS: ... Nuclei. HARRIS: I knew she explained it but I was so hung up on the term that I didn't hear the -- Can you spell it?

HARRIS: NO, of course, not. Barely say it.

COLLINS: Thank you, Jacqui. Overseas, terrorism in Pakistan: a suicide bomber detonates outside a courthouse. State-run media report at least 23 people dead, almost 60 wounded.

CNN's John Vause reports from Islamabad.

JOHN VASE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Authorities here believe the target of this attack was, in fact, the police. A large number of officers had been deployed around the high court in anticipation of a protest by lawyers. They'd been demonstrating regularly every Thursday for the last two months, ever since President Pervez Musharraf cracked down on the judiciary. The chief superintendent of police told CNN the attack was carried out by a suicide bomber, most likely on foot.

He set off his explosives as he was stopped by police on the perimeter of the security corridor around the courthouse. It appears to have been a powerful blast. Officials say almost all of the dead were policemen. Security here is already on high alert. Two weeks after the assassination of Benazir Bhutto and this attack comes on the eve of a religious march, when sectarian sanctions normally run high. John Vause, CNN, Islamabad.

COLLINS: A bold peace prediction this morning from President Bush. He says he expects a signed agreement between the Israelis and Palestinians by the time he leaves office. The president met him just a few hours ago with Palestinian authority president Mahmoud Abbas in the west bank, and at news conference president bush painted an optimistic picture of mid-East peace efforts.


GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: In order for there to be lasting peace, President Abbas and Prime Minister Olmert have to come together and make tough choices. And I'm convinced that they will. And I believe it's possible -- not only possible, I believe it's going to happen that there will be a signed peace treaty by the time I leave office. That's what I believe.


COLLINS: After his meeting with President Abbas, President Bush went to Bethlehem. This is new video just in a few moments ago. He visited the site many believe is the birthplace of Christ. The president said for Christians, there is no holier place.

HARRIS: New Mexico Governor Bill Richardson apparently about to bow out. Sources close to the Richardson campaign tells CNN he'll end his bid for the Democratic presidential nomination today. Richardson finished fourth in Tuesday's New Hampshire primary. A Democratic strategist puts his reasons for quitting pretty bluntly, plainly, quote: "not enough votes, not enough money." We're watching for Richardson's news conference in Santa Fe, 2:00 p.m. Eastern and we will carry it for you live right here, in the NEWSROOM.

Maybe he will, after all -- a source close to Michael Bloomberg tells CNN the millionaire mayor is again thinking about a run for the White House. He's doing it as an independent. Staffers are reportedly polling voters about their views of a Bloomberg candidacy. The source says Bloomberg will make his decision by early March. Now, follow me here. Bloomberg is a former Democrat. He was elected mayor of New York as a Republican, before becoming an independent. OK. For more on the presidential candidates and their next stops go to It is your one-stop shop for all things political.

COLLINS: A marine, pregnant and missing. New clues and investigators are stepping up their search today. Mike Charbonneau, with North Carolina affiliate WRAL, is tracking the case.


MIKE CHARBONNEAU, WRAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): This marine lance corporal and mother-to-be disappeared more than three weeks ago. Her mother said she last spoke with 20-year-old Maria Lauterbach by phone on December 14th. Five days later, the concerned mother contacted Onslow County deputies, worried something terrible happened.

ED BROWN, SHERIFF, ONSLOW COUNTY, NORTH CAROLINA: The longer it goes, the more stressful it gets that something may have happened to this lady against her will.

CHARBONNEAU: Sheriff Ed Brown says Lauterbach was the victim of a crime that happened on base and was scheduled to testify. He won't go into detail. She was 8 1/2 months pregnant when she disappeared and is due any day, if not past due. Authorities found Lauterbach's car at a nearby bus station just a few days ago. They say it hadn't been there long. The orange color is from investigators searching for fingerprints. They also found Lauterbach's cell phone along Highway 24 near Camp Lejeune. The "Marine Corps. Times" is reporting suspicious activity with her bank account since her disappearance.

BROWN: The more that we have suspicious things come up, the more concern we have that something is not right in this lady's disappearance.

CHARBONNEAU: Lauterbach lived in Midway Park housing area for marines but technically not on base. Deputies searched the home and questioned some roommates. They're still waiting to talk with at least one male roommate who may be the ploy. The sheriff says he could be considered a person of interest.

BROWN: Until you can interview him and eliminate this view, you still consider them as key people of concern.


COLLINS: The military won't say anything about Lauterbach, the expected testimony, or what the case is about. She joined the marines in 2006, and was trained as personnel clerk.

HARRIS: U. S. warships seconds away from opening fire. Now, Iran releases its own videotape of the encounter. See and hear it for yourself. Coming up in the NEWSROOM.


COLLINS: You are in the CNN NEWSROOM. I'm Heidi Collins. An Alzheimer's patient improves minutes after an experimental treatment. Dr. Sanjay Gupta with amazing new study results.


HARRIS: A couple of stories that we want to give you updates on this morning. First of all, let's take you to Detroit, Michigan, right now and give you a quick update on the tanker that fell off of -- involved in some kind of an accident, obviously -- fell off Interstate 75, as result of it, and landed on a home. The latest video you're looking at right now, into us from our affiliate there in Detroit, WDIV, of that fire. As you can see it is a wild scene there right now. A fire obviously on the scene.

No reports of injuries at this time but, as you can imagine, the roads in that area, shut down right now, as fire crews and EMS personnel work that scene over and try to ascertain how many people might be injured in that right now. We'll continue to follow that story. Latest pictures in to the CNN NEWSROOM.

And a story that broke for us at about 11:30 yesterday morning Eastern time, a disturbing story out of Washington, D. C. Police there, responding to a call, finding four bodies of children in a home in Washington, D. C. We are expecting to get further details and anticipating that there may be some charges announced this morning. Not exactly clear on that, but again, the bodies of four girls believed -- ages five to 18 -- found in that D. C. home yesterday. You can see there it is being set up for a news conference. That's scheduled for 10:30 a. m. Eastern time where we expect to get more details about that episode yesterday in Washington, D. C.

And, we are also getting indications that -- as you may or may not know -- there was a woman found in the home by police, and we will get some clarification as to who that woman is. Some indications that she may or may not be a relative. All of that to be cleared up this morning in a news conference at 10:30 a.m. Eastern time and we will monitor that for you right here in the NEWSROOM.

COLLINS: Chances are you probably know someone affected by Alzheimer's. Well, a new treatment is showing amazing results. A patient experiencing improvement just minutes after the first dose. Chief medical correspondent, Dr. Sanjay Gupta, is here now with more on this.

Sanjay, how does this work? It's amazing.

DR. SANJAY GUPTA, CHIEF MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: It is amazing. It is just one patient -- that's a big caveat here, obviously. For a lot of people paying attention, this was based on a pilot study that was done in 2006 of 15 patients. So still small study but worth talking about, I think, Heidi, which is why we're talking about it today.

There's all sorts of different substances in the brain. Some of them sort of regulate communication between cells. One of those things is cytokine is a tumor necrosis factor and people who have Alzheimer's is believed to have this completely out of whack. So the question, can you somehow do something about this particular substance? What they did was they actually injected a substance known as embro literally in the back of the neck here, the base of the brain, and allowed it to sort of seep into the brain.

And what they found was that within minutes it seemed to have some sort of effect. They injected it, they had the person put their head down, their feet up. Within minutes, their gait improved, their walking, their overall cognitive ability, their memory improved. Again, very, very quickly. One patient but, obviously, a lot of excitement because of this. The family of this patient actually spoke at to what they saw the changes were. I thought it was very interesting. Take a listen.


WIFE OF PATIENT WITH ALZHEIMER'S DISEASE: I see that he's clearer. He's more -- he seemed more organized in a way. He seems less, coming apart, in a sense. It just seems to me there's something that has put him back to where he was before.


GUPTA: And I should point out that the man sitting next to her is not the patient, actually her son. But, you know, it's interesting that sort of subjective description, the change that her husband had.

COLLINS: Yes. Reminds me of that movie "Awakenings" where they had encephalitis. And they were given a drug that some of them, actually all of them, in the movie, again, just a movie, immediately showed this type of response.

GUPTA: Some of the independent observers who witnessed some of these things and commented on it as part of a study actually made that same sort of analogy. It did so much some sort of immediate change similar to that just from this one medication.

COLLINS: All right. So, what are the chances and how soon possibly could we see this product or this drug on the market for other people who have Alzheimer's long way away or...

GUPTA: Well, this is very early. These are important caveats, Heidi. This is one patient, obviously. Also, it wasn't double- blinded -- meaning that the patient, family, and the doctors all knew it was being given so there could be some bias there, as well. It's important to state that up front. But it is going to go into trial. That's what we're hearing. So, Heidi, there are a lot of centers around the country who are going to start saying that we are going to use it as a part of a trial and patients will be signed up. It will be few patients at first. There's a lot of people who want this but they won't be able to get it. But if it's safe, if it's effective, this may be something that can help a lot of people who have that sort of Alzheimer's dementia.

COLLINS: I sure hope so. All right. CNN's Dr. Sanjay Gupta, thank you.

GUPTA: Thanks, Heidi.

HARRIS: Well, you know, it looks like the Christmas shopping season brought no holiday cheer for the nation's retailers. Where would the numbers be without Costco and Wal-Mart? Ali Velshi?


COLLINS: Quickly, we want to get you back to the situation in Detroit where we have seen a tanker fall off the interstate. There's a bridge you can see the tanker from this new video from our affiliate there, WDIV, actually, you can't see it from this -- sort of can now. The tanker has fallen off of that interstate in between the lanes there -- sort of, there's a center that is opened up and that is where it fell off. Again, you can see a portion of that tanker there.

There's also a playground that we are now seeing in this video, and a home as well that is on fire. It's kind of a strange setup. This is I-75 that we're talking about, where this tanker fell off of the interstate. That is the home that we're talking about that is burning. So, a nearby home and a playground very close to that portion of the interstate. We will continue to follow this and let you know what may have happened or anything else that we can possibly learn from it, but a pretty bizarre story here. We'll keep our eye on it, obviously. Again, those pictures coming out of Detroit and our affiliate there, WDIV.

HARRIS: I want to get you to Ali Velshi now. Looks like the holiday shopping season was the worst. Wow, in years for the nation's retailers.

Ali Velshi, "Minding Your Business," how bad -- what are we talking about here, Ali?

ALI VELSHI, SENIOR BUSINESS CORRESPONDENT: Well, we're still calculating the numbers because they all started coming in this morning, they're still coming in. The worst in recent memory was 2002 where the sales of the holiday season that year were only about 1.3 percent higher than the previous year. We're probably coming in around that number, maybe lower. So it's definitely the worst holiday shopping season in five years. It may be more.

Let's see where those numbers come in. But you mentioned earlier, thanks to Costco and Wal-Mart, those are the two biggest that actually showed improvement. Costco was up five percent. So this is -- all the stores that have been opened for at least a year in December compared to the previous Decembers. So they were up five percent, Wal-Mart was up 2.4 percent. Now, Wal-Mart -- just so you know -- accounts for sort of 20 percent of all shopping that's done anyway. So that's a big deal, that Wal-Mart is up.

But, let me just run you through this list of stores that's down. You got Nordstrom, down four percent; Gap, down six percent; J. C. Penney's, 7.5 percent. You got Macy's down, 7.9 percent. You got Limited, down eight percent; and you've got Kohl's, 11.4 percent lower. Clearly, people weren't shopping. This is a combination of those lower house prices, higher interest rates, and higher gas prices.

HARRIS: And, tell us again -- we got another quick question -- but tell us again how important consumer spending, the buying that we do is to this economy?

VELSHI: It is more important than it is in any other country. In other words, the U. S. consumer is more important to this economy because we spend more as a proportion of our economy than anybody else does. In other countries, the consumer kind of softens up a little bit, keeps money in their pocket. There's a whole lot of other things in the economy to keep it going. In the United States, the consumer is two-thirds of the economy. When the consumer slows down, America slows down.

HARRIS: What are Costco and Wal-Mart doing well? Maybe, there's a lesson there?

VELSHI: There might be a lesson there, might actually be that people are moving towards places like Wal-Mart. Wal-Mart is so well- known for its low prices when times are tough, people who otherwise wouldn't be shopping there are moving into that category to try and get a better price at Wal-Mart. Costco is also known for having small mark-ups on their goods so you know that you stock up on larger quantities of things.

And, maybe, you don't love the shopping experience as much but you're saving some money. I happen to like the shopping experience at Costco. People are looking to save money. Watch out now for restaurants as well. That's the other place people start to cut back on when you put a dent in your wallet.

HARRIS: That's right. How about that? We got through this segment and we didn't mention the other 'r' word.

VELSHI: Restaurant was the word.

HARRIS: Well, that's it! Ali Velshi, thanks a lot.

COLLINS: A new surge of U. S. troops, thousands of marines may go where last year's surge, did not.


HARRIS: Facebook picture lands students in trouble.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Any kids who thinks -- anybody who thinks that what they post on a social Web site is private is an idiot.


HARRIS: Wow. Strong words. Kind of makes sense. Partying in front of the world in the NEWSROOM.

So here we go. Bottom of the hour. Welcome back, everyone, to the CNN NEWSROOM, I'm Tony Harris.

COLLINS: Hi there, everybody. I'm Heidi Collins.

One year after President Bush announced a troop buildup in Iraq, a similar plan is now on the table for Afghanistan. Details now from CNN Pentagon correspondent Barbara Starr.

Barbara, how many troops are we talking about now? Isn't there already approval from central command on this?

BARBARA STARR, CNN PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT: Well, Heidi, they are beginning to call this the surge, if you will, for Afghanistan. All indications are about 3,000 marines will be on their way to Afghanistan in time to be there in April for any springtime surge by the Taliban. The plan is being briefed at the highest levels of the Pentagon. Even today, we are told, there are top-level meetings here in the building where the details are being worked out. It is on Defense Secretary Gates' desk. He is expected to sign it, because all of his top commanders are saying they need more troops for Afghanistan.

Three thousand marines, they are likely to go for a seven-month tour, being deployed mainly to southern Afghanistan, where some of the heaviest fighting is occurring. There are already 26,000 U.S. troops in Afghanistan. So adding 3,000 more is a significant plus up, Heidi.

COLLINS: How bad is the situation, than expected to get in the spring? Expecting a lot more activity?

STARR: Well, you know, every spring when the weather gets better and the snow melts in those mountains, of course they do see a surge of insurgent activity by the Taliban and al Qaeda. Officially, this is for any springtime surge, but there has been a need out there for some months now for additional combat troops.

NATO has been unable to muster the forces, so they've turned to the United States with the situation in Pakistan, with that safe haven along the border area. There's a lot of concern that more fighting is simply going to happen and the level of insurgent activity is going to increase-- Heidi?

COLLINS: All right. CNN's Barbara Starr reporting from the Pentagon. Thank you, Barbara.

STARR: Sure. HARRIS: Let's get to another story that Barbara has been doing a lot of reporting on for us. What happens between U.S. warships and Iranian boats in the Persian Gulf? There is new video today. This is what you've already seen. A video shot by the U.S. Navy. It shows Iranian speedboats darting near the American vessels. A radio transmission warns the ships will explode. The navy says it was seconds away from opening fire. Now Iran state TV has released its own version of the encounter.


IRGC CRAFT: Coalition warship 73, this is Iranian navy patrol boat, how do you copy over?

U.S. NAVY SHIP: This is coalition warship 73. I read you loud and clear, over.


HARRIS: OK. Iran's video does not show any confrontation. It includes seemingly routine communication. The U.S. says the tape was edited to take out the threat. The incident has, as you know, ratcheted up U.S./Iranian tensions. President Bush is warning Iran of serious consequences if it menaces U.S. ships again.

COLLINS: Jacqui Jeras is standing by to look at some of this weird weather that's happening all across the country. Particularly a big threat in the Deep South right now we're talking about.


COLLINS: Just a reminder too. If news is happening where you are or weather, please send us your video or photos. Just go to and click on I-report or type running to your cell phone. But remember, as always, please, stay safe.

HARRIS: A little politics for you right now, giving props and taking words. The White House candidates may be looking to the future, but they're speaking from the past. CNN's Tom Foreman reports.


SEN. BARACK OBAMA, (D) PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: There is something happening in America.

TOM FOREMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: What is happening is an explosion of inspirational words that some pundits say rival the best stump speeches ever, and the senator who sound like a preacher is leading the revival.

OBAMA: Yes, we can. There was the call of workers who organized, women who reached for the ballot, a president who chose the moon as our new frontier and a king who took us to the mountaintop and pointed the way to the Promised Land. Yes, we can, to justice and equality. CROWD: Yes we can. Yes we can.

FOREMAN: All the superlative speechmaking is no accident.

MARTIN LUTHER KING, JR.: And I've seen the Promised Land.

FOREMAN: Obama is channeling Martin Luther King Jr. and John Kennedy.

JOHN KENNEDY, FORMER U.S. PRESIDENT: This is the beginning of a great new day.

FOREMAN: And other candidates are drawing on the past, too. Specifically through their choice of words.

JOHN MCCAIN, (R) PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: My friends, I didn't go to Washington to go along, to get along, or to play it safe to serve my own interests. I went there to serve my country.

FOREMAN: John McCain is clearly making a link to President Ronald Reagan, who said, my friends all the time.

MCCAIN: My friends.


MCCAIN: But I promise you, my friends.

REAGAN: My friends, the wall is crumbling.

MCCAIN: Thank you, my friends.

FOREMAN: Bill Clinton took the White House from the first President Bush talking about health care, oil profits, the cost of education, the collapsing middle class. And Hillary Clinton's campaign echoes many of his issues and words.

SEN. HILLARY CLINTON, (D) PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I want to rebuild a strong and prosperous middle class, and to me, that is the most important job the next president will have here at home, because if we don't begin to pay attention to the people who do the work and raise the families and make this country great, we will not recognize America in a few years.

FOREMAN: John Edwards was saying much of the same thing, a full four years ago. But as many political observers have noticed, at some point, almost every candidate borrows ideas, words and even their speaking style from someone else.

MITT ROMNEY, (R) PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I think you have to have somebody from outside Washington who has proven that he can get the job done.

FOREMAN: In some ways, it's unavoidable. If your background is in business, like Mitt Romney, of course you sound like past campaigners who talk about a business-like approach to government. We've seen a former minister like Mike Huckabee. Well, praise the Lord and pass the familiar folksiness.

MIKE HUCKABEE, (R) PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: We just sense that we were going to do better than a lot of people thought, that this old unknown southern boy could possibly do up here in New England.

FOREMAN: So is all of this adding up to the best season of political speeches in decades? Maybe. But then, we've heard that before, too.

Tom Foreman, CNN, Washington.


HARRIS: This just in to CNN. CNN senior political correspondent Candy Crowley has been able to confirm this. A Massachusetts senator, John Kerry, is planning to announce an endorsement today. Oh, the lower third gave it away. I wanted to build a little tension for it. John Kerry, our sources are telling, our Candy Crowley, planning to endorse Senator Barack Obama at a 2:00 p.m. event. A rally in Charleston, South Carolina. As you know, John Kerry, the last Democratic standard bearer for the presidency in 2004, planning to endorse Senator Barack Obama today at an event in Charleston, South Carolina.

We will try to get Candy Crowley on the phone for more details on this. More background on this endorsement a little bit later this morning for you in the NEWSROOM. And again, once again, let me give you another reminder. For more on the presidential candidate, their next stops, what's happening in South Carolina later today, go to Your one-stop shop for all things, all things, political.

COLLINS: And coming up in just a moment, four children found dead in the nation's capital. How and when did they die? A big mystery this morning.

HARRIS: Let's take a moment to check out the numbers, the big board. New York Stock Exchange now, the opening bell sounding just a couple of minutes ago. And right out of the gate, after an update yesterday -- all right. We get started on a down note. The Dow down 86 points in the first couple of minutes of the trading day.

All eyes on the Federal Reserve today and Chairman Ben Bernanke set to talk about the housing market later today. And of course, those comments will be heavily scrutinized by us, by you and certainly by investors. So we are talking the markets throughout the morning. Interest rates, the price ever a 30-year fix. My refi (ph)? Susan Lisovicz with us all morning in the NEWSROOM.


HARRIS: Inside a Washington row house, four children apparently dead for weeks, maybe longer. Now reports coming in that a woman at the house is charged with murder. Reporter Pamela Brown of our Washington, D.C. affiliate WJLA is at medical examiner's office right now. And Pamela, let's get started with, I suppose, the first basic question. What's the latest on this investigation?

PAMELA BROWN, AFFILIATE WJLA: Well, Tony, police have confirmed that a woman has been charged with two felony murder counts so far. They're not revealing the identity of that woman. Yesterday, sources told us that the woman taken into custody was actually the children's mother. We're still hoping to find out how those girls died and their identities. Of course, there are still a lot of unanswered questions and we're hoping to find out more at a press conference at 10:30 here at the chief medical examiner's office.

Now, this all happened yesterday inside the house on 6th street south side of D.C. U.S. marshals serving an eviction noticed found the badly decomposed bodies of four girls ages five, seven, nine and 17. Police say the victims likely died at least two weeks ago. When marshals arrived at the home, a woman answered the door and was immediately taken into custody. Again sources say it was the mother of the girls.

Yesterday, we spoke to some relatives of that woman. They said that she might have had some mental health problems. There are reports of bizarre behavior from that woman. Neighbors said they hadn't seen the children in a few weeks and they said they didn't really know the family well. We're also hearing reports that child protective services received reports last April about the family.

They said they tried to investigate but were unable to contact that family. Again, we hope to learn more about the victims and the arrest at a press conference at 10:30 this morning, with D.C. Mayor Adrian Fenty, D.C. police chief Cathy Lanier and the chief medical examiner. Back to you.

HARRIS: Well, Pamela, I'm going to ask you a question that maybe we just don't know the answer to at this point, but I'm sure you asked this question. The woman, it's reported, and you just reported as well, is being charged with two of the murders. Why not all four?

BROWN: Right. We're hoping to find out again if she's going to face more charges. We'll find out at the press conference. Of course, that question has been asked.


BROWN: But police could not confirm anything as of now. We don't even know the identity yet. So again, there is still a lot of unanswered questions here.

HARRIS: OK. Pamela Brown for us from our Washington, D.C. affiliate WJLA. Pamela, thank you.

COLLINS: The search for four other children on hold. Bad weather this morning forced crews to stop looking in the waters of Alabama. Their father allegedly threw the children off a bridge on Monday after a fight with their mother. Lam Luong is due in court this morning on four counts of capital murder. Police say he confessed. We should be getting new information on this story shortly. Keep watching CNN for updates.

HARRIS: And right now, we want to get to our senior correspondent Candy Crowley. She is on the phone with us. And Candy, news this morning, pretty big news it seems, this endorsement coming from Senator Kerry going to Senator Obama?

CANDY CROWLEY, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Absolutely, an interesting endorsement. We're told that will happen this afternoon in Charleston, South Carolina. You know, as you know, Kerry was the standard bearer for the Democrats in 2004. The Obama people, obviously, get a very high profile endorsement. That always helps when you're in the kind of dogfight, obviously that they're in, in the Democratic Party. The other thing they're looking at is that Kerry as the Democratic nominee also has a huge e-mail list. That accounts for a lot. Particularly, when you're going into these massively big states on February 5th for those primaries.

HARRIS: Oh, Candy, that was some not sound from a piece of tape that we're running. Sorry about that. But let me follow-up with a quick question. We know, for example, the length to which the candidates have gone to sort of win the endorsements of key newspapers in primary and caucus states. I'm curious as to the links the Democratic contenders might have gone to, to secure this particular endorsement?

CROWLEY: Well, listen, it helps when a high-profile name in the Democratic Party endorses you. I can tell you that they court them all along. The thing that's interesting I think, about the Kerry endorsement is that obviously, the man he picked to be number two on his ticket, John Edwards, is also still in the race. So this has to hurt a little bit, but obviously, the other thing I think that's going on here is that if you look at the exit polls that came out of New Hampshire, Hillary Clinton does very, very well with these Democrats.

Barack Obama's popularity has been in large part about the independents. So to get someone who is in the mainstream of the Democratic Party, certainly part of the Democratic base, to get that endorsement from Kerry can be a boost for Obama, sort of bringing him in to that well of the Democratic base that Hillary Clinton has capped so well.

HARRIS: And I'll ask you, one more, quick one. And I know I'm asking you to speculate, but you're so close to all of this, I can't resist. At this 2:00 p.m. event when we hear the reasons why, Senator Kerry is endorsing Senator Obama what do you think will be at the top of the list? Are we going to hear more about change and that this is the candidate who can bring about the most effective change, the most quickly in Washington?

CROWLEY: I mean, since that is Obama's theme, imagine, absolutely that you will hear a lot about change and new direction and bringing people together since that's Obama's theme. I imagine they'll follow along with that.

HARRIS: Yes. Our senior political correspondent Candy Crowely on the phone with us this morning. Candy, always great to talk to you. Thank you.

And for more on this story and all of the political news, you could ever ask for, again, just logon to

COLLINS: Grounded. Pilot bars, 82-year-old man with an oxygen machine and now the passenger just wants an apology.


COLLINS: He stood shoulder to shoulder with Hollywood's biggest celebrities. He even got his own star on the legendary walk of fame. Johnny Grant died yesterday at the age of 84. You may not know his name but he spent more than a half century at Tinseltown's top ambassador. If you saw a celebrity unveiling a star or strolling in the red carpet, Grant was likely nearby. In fact, he was named Hollywood's Honorary Mayor decades ago. Grant also had took parts in many movies. But his greatest fame, the supporting role he plays to Hollywood itself.

HARRIS: Thinning of the bone, also called osteoporosis. We spend about $20 billion a year taking care of people with fractures. There are things you can do now to reduce the risk later in life. Here's CNN medical correspondent Judy Fortin.


JUDY FORTIN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Dr. Lisa Flowers works so hard now because she wants to avoid becoming a statistic in the future. Half of all women over 50 will break a bone due to osteoporosis, losing bone mass due to estrogen loss.

DR. ETHEL SIRIS, PRESIDENT, NATIONAL OSTEOPOROSIS FOUNDATION: The more bone loss that you have, the greater probability that down the road you may fracture.

FORTIN: Up until you're 30, you're still building your skeleton but in your 30s natural bone loss starts. However, the estrogen women produce helps reduce the amount of bone loss. Now is the time to establish habits that will help maintain as much bone mass as possible.

SIRIS: You shouldn't smoke. You shouldn't drink too much. You should stay physically active.

FORTIN: Also, make sure you get enough calcium in your diet, about a thousand milligrams, which is the equivalent of three servings of dairy. And about 400 to 8800 units of vitamin D, which helps your bones absorb the calcium. And do weight-bearing exercises. Walking, jogging, tennis all are good exercises for you in your 30s.

In your 40s, you want to continue a healthy lifestyle. Get enough calcium and vitamin D and exercise. Something Dr. Flowers now, in her early 40s, knows is essential.

DR. LISA FLOWERS: I work out about five days a week, approximately one hour in the morning before I go to work just to kind of keep myself in reasonable amount of shape and strength.

FORTIN: When you hit your 50s, you're entering or in menopause. Which means you stop producing protective estrogen and you will start to lose bone mass.

SIRIS: You wind up with less bone, thinner bones are easier to break.

FORTIN: Some of the most common fractures among the elderly occur in the hip.

SIRIS: Hip fractures can kill you. There's a 20 percent increased risk of dying in the year after a hip fracture.

FORTIN: Something that may be avoided earlier in life.

FLOWERS: I'm really trying to be proactive. Now at this time and, hopefully, I'll reap the benefits when I get in my menopause era, which, hopefully, won't be as soon as I can imagine it to be.

FORTIN: Judy Fortin, CNN, Atlanta.


COLLINS: A tanker truck breaks through a freeway guardrail and lands on top of a store. You'll see the results. What about the people inside?


COLLINS: Good morning, everybody, I'm Heidi Collins.

HARRIS: And I'm Tony Harris. Stay informed all day at the CNN NEWSROOM. Here's what's on the rundown. He tops the Democratic ticket in 2004, now Senator John Kerry backs the candidate for 2008. A developing story.

COLLINS: Heavy fog and smoke keeps a Florida freeway at a standstill one day after a horrific pileup.

HARRIS: Police finds decomposing bodies of four children. News conference coming up for you in minutes. A suspect facing charges. Today, Thursday, January 10th. You are in the CNN NEWSROOM.