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Mortgage Meltdown; O.J. Simpson Out of Jail and Heading Home; Plane Lands Short of Runway at Heathrow Airport

Aired January 17, 2008 - 08:00   ET


STEPHANIE ELAM, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Unemployment is definitely up. We're also saying consumers behind are the bills especially in really populated states like Florida, California, and Michigan. In fact in Michigan, in November, their unemployment 7.4 percent, the highest in the country. Nevada had an unemployment rate of 5.4 percent. That's above the nation's average of 4.7 percent.
So it seems a lot of the economic damage seems to be concentrated in the centers hardest hit by the mortgage crisis like Arizona, Ohio, and Nevada as well. But other states seem to be doing pretty well and that's one thing that shows the split economy that we're seeing here. So obviously we'll be seeing more of this as the fed gets ready to enact its decision on interest rates at the end of January.

Back to you, John.

JOHN ROBERTS, CNN ANCHOR: All right. Stephanie, thanks very much.

The next hour of AMERICAN MORNING starts right now.

KIRAN CHETRY, CNN ANCHOR: Double or nothing.


HILLARY CLINTON, (D) PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: You know, I hope that it can be resolved.

BARACK OBAMA, (D) PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Are we going to let folks change the rules?


CHETRY: It's caucusing in the casino, give one candidate an unfair edge. Bill Clinton lashes out.


BILL CLINTON, FORMER U.S. PRESIDENT: We had nothing to do with that lawsuit.


CHETRY: The "Most Politics in the Morning."

Mortgage meltdown. You don't have to own to feel the effects. The flip side of all of those foreclosures, on this AMERICAN MORNING.

And welcome. It is Thursday, January 17th. I'm Kiran Chetry in New York.

ROBERTS: And good morning. I'm John Roberts live along the Strip in Las Vegas, Nevada. We're anxiously anticipating the caucuses coming up here on Saturday. Talking to voters about the issues and what will drive their choice for president. Of course, the big issue, the economy. It's huge for voters across the country. Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke is expected to warn lawmakers today that the nation faces severe budget problems. Congress is coming out with a plan to revive the economy and the talking about rescue options at the White House today.

CNN's Briana Keilar is following developments from our Washington Bureau. She joins us now.

Briana, the president has been with congressional leaders later on this morning. What can we expect from that meeting?

BRIANA KEILAR, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, John, the president is fresh off of his trip to the Middle East. He is having a conference call this afternoon with Republican and Democratic leaders from both the House and the Senate. And it's not a physical meeting because the Senate isn't back in session. The Senate leaders are out of town. Now, the White House as well as Republicans and Democrats on the hill are talking about bipartisanship, talking about forgoing political wrangling on this issue. And at this point, no word from the White House on exactly what's on the table today.

It's being billed as a consultative meeting, getting all of the ideas out on the table. But as far as Congress goes, tax rebates. Basically, sending out checks to taxpayers to pump money into the economy. That seems to be the option where there is overlap between Republicans and Democrats. Now, Democratic leader say they want to roll out an economic stimulus package within a month and next Tuesday, President Bush will be having a physical meeting at the White House with both Republican and Democratic leaders from the hill. House speaker Nancy Pelosi says the hope is to come to terms at that meeting and come out of that meeting with a legislative proposal. So, pretty quick there, John.

ROBERTS: Yes, making permanent. The president's tax cuts is a major priority for the White House. Is it expected President Bush may try to link that to a stimulus package?

KEILAR: Well, Democrats have made it clear that if Republicans or President Bush try to attach an extension of those tax cuts to this package, the Democrats will scuttle the effort. And coming from Republicans they privately acknowledge. They don't have the votes to push that through. Now, White House spokesman Tony Fratto, reiterated today to me, that extending those tax cuts is a priority for the president but he wouldn't say if the president is going to push for them in these discussions.

John? ROBERTS: Briana Keilar from our Washington Bureau this morning. Briana, thanks. Now let's turn it over to Kiran who is in New York.

CHETRY: And new this morning, rescue crews have reached the scene of a navy helicopter crash in Texas. One person survived but three others were killed. The Sea Dragon Helicopter went down near Corpus Christi, Texas, crashing in heavy fog and then exploding in flames. One witness says he saw a huge red fireball and heard a giant boom. That crew was on a training mission at the naval air station in Corpus Christi.

We've been watching and following the pictures coming from Manchester, New Hampshire, this morning where fire destroyed a row of apartment buildings. It broke out around 3:15 this morning. Firefighters now have it under control and say that everyone made it out safely, but two firefighters were treated for injury.

Also, some breaking news overnight in Las Vegas. O.J. Simpson out of jail and heading home to Miami after spending six days behind bars. Simpson left the Clark County Jail early this morning after being locked up since last Friday for violating the terms of his previous bail agreement. The judge doubled the bail to $250,000 and had some tough words for O.J.


JUDGE JACKIE GLASS, CLARK COUNTY, NEVADA DISTRICT COURT: And I don't know if it's just arrogance. I don't know if it's ignorance, but you've been locked up at the Clark County Detention Center since Friday, because of either arrogance or ignorance or both. Let me make sure that you understand, that if you violate those rules, and anything like this happens in the future, it won't matter what Mr. Grasso and Mr. Galanter come in here and tell me. You'll be back, locked up, in the Clark County Detention Center.


CHETRY: Simpson put up his home, as collateral after the judge found out he didn't pay anything towards his earlier bail. He is due back in court April 7th.

Former Michigan congressman is accused of helping a Muslim charity that was allegedly funneling money to terrorists. Mark Siljander served two terms in House back in the 1980s. He is now charged with money laundering, conspiracy, and obstructing justice. CNN's justice correspondent Kelli Arena is live in Washington for us this morning. What exactly are investigators saying is Siljander's involvement in this?

KELLI ARENA, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Kiran, he allegedly accepted $50,000 in dirty money from a charity that's called the Islamic American Relief Agency. The prosecutors say that he was hired to lobby to get that group off of a government list of charities that supports terrorists. Now the indictment says that he took the cash, he laundered it and he lied to federal agents and prosecutors about it, saying that the money was actually a donation for a book that he was writing about bringing Christians and Muslims closer together.


CHETRY: You said the money was dirty, how?

ARENA: Well, some of it actually allegedly came from U.S. taxpayers. The government gave the charity the money for aid projects in Africa. But when the project fell apart, prosecutors say that the charity never gave the money back, $84,000, Kiran.

CHETRY: And where is the terror connection come in?

ARENA: Well, this is where it gets very tricky. The charity that Siljander was lobbying for allegedly sent $130,000 to an Afghan terrorist with ties to both the Taliban and al Qaeda. But Siljander is not charged in connection to that crime.

CHETRY: And what is he saying about this, if anything?

ARENA: Well you know, we tried to reach him. I did not get a call back but I did get a statement from his lawyers saying that he vehemently denies these allegations and that, you know, when he gets a chance, he is going to plead not guilty to the charges.


CHETRY: Kelli Arena for us in Washington following this. Thank you.

ARENA: You're welcome.


ROBERTS: It is a pretty good bet, Kiran, that Latino voters will have more influence in the race here in Nevada than in all of the previous contests. Latinos could make up more than a quarter of caucusgoers on Saturday. AMERICAN MORNING's Chris Lawrence has been talking with voters and he joins me now. So what ails the voters here in Nevada?

CHRIS LAWRENCE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Latino voters, like a lot of other people are dealing with the foreclosures here in Nevada. So they're concerned about the economy. They're concerned about health care. They're concerned about immigration. They have very similar concerns, but the voters are very divided on which candidate to put their money on.


LAWRENCE (voice-over): Dana Ramos is a child of immigration reform.

DANA RAMOS, FIRST TIME VOTER: I wasn't documented until Ronald Reagan passed his amnesty program.

LAWRENCE: Now she's a U.S. citizen and college grad. But immigration is still her priority.

You were leaning towards Obama before you went to the debate. Are you firmly in his corner now?

RAMOS: I am. I'm definitely ready to caucus for him on Saturday. I think he has prioritized immigration more than Senator Clinton at this point.

LAWRENCE: There are more Latino voters in Nevada than the national average. And the Democratic rivals are fighting for every one. The owner of this restaurant is caucusing for Clinton, because her healthcare plan mandates coverage for everyone.

JAVIER BARAJAS, RESTAURANT OWNER: I'm worried everyday that one of my kids are going get sick or I going to go to the hospital, and how I'm going to pay?

LAWRENCE: Obama won the official endorsement of the Culinary Workers, Nevada's most powerful union. But Clinton has been urging individual member to vote their conscience.

MIGUEL BARRIENTOS, KALV RADIO HOST: And this is where you're going to see the split among the culinary workers.

LAWRENCE: Radio host Miguel Barrientos and others told us a lot of Latino workers were never consulted by union leadership.

EDDIE ESCOBEDO, PUBLISHER, EL MUNDO: And seven out of ten, that's what they say, they never asked me. I don't know why they chose Obama.

LAWRENCE: Barrientos says the choice comes down to immigration.

BARRIENTOS: And we don't think Senator Obama will be able to handle this in the way we expect Hillary Clinton with her experience to be able to deal with it.

LAWRENCE: Dana remains committed to Obama but won't give him a pass on his promises.

RAMOS: You know, just a resident program or attaining a pass for citizenship, I expect him to deliver on that.


LAWRENCE: And the thing about the caucuses is it is not private like a vote. You actually have to stand up in a corner of the room for your candidate. So for some of these rank and file members to break with the union, they're going to have to do it publicly where their leadership will see exactly who they're caucusing for.

ROBERTS: Well, according to what you find out, they do feel strongly enough about it. Perhaps they'll do that. Chris Lawrence, thanks. Great piece this morning.

And don't forget to join Kiran and me in the CNN election center tonight, 8:00 p.m. Eastern here on CNN. I'll be coming to you from Columbia, South Carolina. That is Kiran, as long as we get out of Vegas this morning. The weather, not so great there over in the east.

CHETRY: No and especially down south. Getting their first snowfall in some cities in a couple of years. Keep your fingers crossed. I'm sure you'll make it down there tonight.

Meanwhile, we have some new pictures just in this morning of Prince William, the pilot. He is learning takeoffs and landings at the Royal Air Force College. It's about 100 miles north of London. He says the moment he took the controls, it was a scary time.


PRINCE WILLIAM, UNITED KINGDOM: (INAUDIBLE) for playing so, so far it looks all right. But -- as well as experience is on my thought, it would never come around. And I thought, you know, hopefully up in the air I'll get the process. The next time that my instructor (INAUDIBLE), get on with it. I was up there and absolutely, what?


CHETRY: Well, his dad, Prince Charles and uncle, Prince Andrew, both trained as pilots with the Royal Air Force. Last year, William spent time with the ground forces and later this year will be training with the Royal Navy.

There's also some new information this morning from millions of Americans who take statin drugs. We're "Paging Dr. Gupta" straight ahead.

Also, a new dispute between Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama goes to court this morning. Accusations about who started it were enough to set off Former President Clinton. We're going to hear some of his fiery words next on AMERICAN MORNING.


ROBERTS: Oh, shot at downtown Las Vegas this morning and some of those casinos that you see are going to be the site of caucuses. At large caucuses to allow people who work inside the surrounding area to come out. People who ordinarily wouldn't be able to get off of work. Bare-knuckle politics between Clinton and Obama supporters in Nevada. The dust is barely settled on their last dispute. This morning a federal court hears arguments on whether the Democratic Party can hold those caucuses inside the big Las Vegas casino.

Our CNN senior political correspondent Candy Crowley is here to tell us why this could tilt the vote to one side or another. So what this lawsuit all about and what kind of an effect could it have?

CANDY CROWLEY, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Without getting too far into the weeds, there are these nine at-large casino caucuses that were set up by the Democratic Party about ten months ago. The idea is that a lot of the workers here couldn't get to their home precincts to caucus. So this is the opportunity for workers in those casinos and in the surrounding areas, even construction workers to come in. They show their work pass and they can go in and caucus.

What happened is that a suit has been filed alleging that those caucuses are unfair to other voters in the state, that they will have more weight than other caucuses in the state, but the politics of it is that Barack Obama has been endorsed by the Culinary Union, as you know, and a lot of their workers are in these casinos. And there are ties, although not direct ones, between the Hillary Clinton campaign and this lawsuit.

ROBERTS: And because it's being sponsored in part by the Teachers' Union as well, right?

CROWLEY: The Teacher's Union which has not endorsed anyone but in fact does have high-level official that supports Hillary Clinton. So they said, look this is all about fairness, not about politics.

ROBERTS: Well, the suggestion that the Clinton campaign had something to do with this certainly brought out a strong response from Former President Clinton. He got into it with a local reporter. Listen to this.


BILL CLINTON, FORMER U.S. PRESIDENT: Do you think that one person's vote should count five times as much as another? I think it looks as though, to a lot of people, as though the Clinton campaign (INAUDIBLE) supporters. The Clinton supporters not campaign.


CLINTON: We have nothing do with that lawsuit. I read about it in the newspaper.


ROBERTS: So the former president is saying, we had nothing to do with this lawsuit, but certainly seems to buy into the premise of it.

CROWLEY: Absolutely. And Hillary Clinton has been less vociferous of action, we say, but she said, well, we just want everyone to have a chance to vote. I'm sure they'll settle it in the court. But nonetheless obviously if this comes out, that these nine casinos can't hold those caucuses, advantage Clinton.

ROBERTS: Yes, but overall, if the caucuses just can take plays in these casinos, who has the advantage here? Hillary Clinton in firmly with the establishment? Barack Obama endorsed by this huge 60,000-member strong union?

CROWLEY: Well, it's tough to tell. I mean, look the Culinary Union is a political powerhouse. There is no getting around it. But Hillary Clinton has somebody support. We can't forget John Edwards but John Edwards has some labor support. Hillary Clinton basically has the old line Democratic elite support, where as Barack Obama is more of an insurgent, a little bit sort of outside the mainstream.

So it will be interesting to see. It's tough to tell, because, as you know, they haven't spent all that much time here and it's tough to tell just where the organizations are. They are polling people in from New Hampshire and Iowa, so we'll see who can get up that vote in mid-Day Saturday.

ROBERTS: Only 9000 people participated in the last Nevada caucus but it didn't mean anything. Now that it's upfront, we'll see how many more participating.

CROWLEY: They say, you ask, how many people do you expect to show up? Well, somewhere between 25,000 and 125,000. So some uncertainty here.

ROBERTS: Wide-ranging answer. Candy, thanks very much.

And now let's go over to New York and here's Kiran.

CHETRY: Well, it seems every other day, we're hearing more good news about statin drug, not only about controlling cholesterol but preventing heart attacks and strokes. Now, there's some new information about the effect of statins on the brain. We're "Paging Dr. Gupta" our in-house brain surgeon with more on this.

Now, Sanjay, you know, we thought that statins can maybe perhaps help prevent Alzheimer's. What are we hearing now?

DR. SANJAY GUPTA, CNN CHIEF MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, we're hearing some evidence to the contrary, really, about statins and Alzheimer's specifically. A very interesting study here. Let me lay it out for you. There are about 900 priests and nuns actually followed for about 12 years. Some of them all the way through autopsy. Some of them were given statins, some of them were not. And the question was, do the statins somehow prevent or delay Alzheimer's?

And the evidence that came back in this particular study was, no. If you were taking statins solely to try and prevent Alzheimer's, the study showed it really wouldn't have much of a benefit there. Now, keep in mind. Alzheimer's disease is sort of a complicated disease that sort of made up by these depositions of clumps in the brain. You have amyloid plaques. You have neurofibrillary tangles. You don't need to remember those names. But keep in mind, when you have all this clumps, sort of forming in the brain they affect cognition. They can affect memory, which is why this disease is obviously so devastating in so many people.

For a long time, people thought, you know, maybe these clumps are made of cholesterol for some extent. So if you lower cholesterol, if you lower inflammation through statins, it will ward off Alzheimer's. The study seems to say no. On the ad, Kiran, if you look this up on the internet, or you even go to reputable site like Mayo Clinic, they may still say that statins do offer some protection against this. So we actually called up the head of the Alzheimer's research for Mayo Clinic and said, you know, what gives here? And he reminded us that this study was done on nuns and priests, who live a different lifestyle. They don't smoke and drink, for example.

So this may not be the last word necessarily on statins and Alzheimer's, but certainly flies in the face a little bit of that wonder drug status that we've heard so much about.

CHETRY: Yes and you still say, though that it can be beneficial in treating not only the lower cholesterol situation but other health problems?

GUPTA: Yes, you know, it's interesting. There are some cardiologists out there who say, look, statin drugs are so good, they should be in the drinking water. Obviously, that's taking it too far, but you're starting to hear about benefits from statins in all sorts of ways. You know, arthritis, for example, colon cancer. We obviously know about the impact on cholesterol. Some of this is proven. Some of this is just anecdotal, but it does seem to have a lot of benefits on areas other than just lowering your bad cholesterol levels.

CHETRY: All right. Well, we're going to hear more about statins actually when we open up our mailbag with you in just a couple of minutes. Sanjay, thank you.

GUPTA: Got a special question in there. Absolutely.

CHETRY: Let's head out to John now in Las Vegas.

ROBERTS: Hey, Kiran, thanks.

20 minutes after the hour. Just in to CNN, we want to take you over to England. Some pictures coming in to us from Heathrow Airport just outside of London. Apparently, a British Airways plain there, its British Airways flight 38 coming in from Beijing landed short of the runway. Obviously, the plane is intact. You see the emergency chutes deployed there. Passengers had to be led to safety. We have no word on the extent of injuries or if there even were any.

Six fire engines were dispatched to the scene. So that plane came in short. Apparently, the same time that plane came down, Prime Minister Gordon Brown was supposed to leave Heathrow going to China. His flight had to be delayed by the incident, but certainly he was not involved. So well get more for you at the bottom of the hour, coming up on this British Airways flight 38 coming in from Beijing, China, landing shorter of the runway at Heathrow Airport. No word yet on the extent of any injuries. Passengers were led to safety after going down those chutes there. So nothing too serious apparently with this flight. At least the early word on that.

The mortgage meltdown already costs thousands of people their homes. But for those now looking to rent, will it cost them even more? We're taking a closer look ahead on AMERICAN MORNING. Stay with us.


CHETRY: Hundreds of thousands of people who lost their homes to foreclosure are now looking for places to rent. So what does that mean for rental prices? Well, CNN's personal finance editor Gerri Willis joins us now. And you think if more people are looking for places to rent, rents will go up.

GERRI WILLIS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Right. Well, if that's what you think and you'd be wrong. I mean, rents are up but not by much, a half percentage point. Difference of course in all the markets is a different story. Let's take a look at some of the markets where rents are coming down. Across the country. Atlanta, down significantly. Houston, take a look at these numbers. You're seeing some of the go, go markets from the boom here registering with lower rents. Washington, Miami and Phoenix.

But I got to tell you, there are people out there who are still experiencing very high rent. A lot of growth in rent. Kiran, I don't think New Yorkers are ever going to get a break on their rent.

CHETRY: No. I think you just leave this city out of the equation, right? Because the more they try to move to condos and get people out of their rental places, they're just skyrocketing.

WILLIS: Exactly. New York City, up 13 percent. San Francisco up 9 percent. As you can see right here, Boston up as well. Now, part of what's going on here is that you're seeing a lot of more inventory on the marketplace. You're seeing flippers who bought houses to invest in. Guess what? They can't sell them. So they're going to rent them out. People who are in foreclosure. Their homes are going back in the marketplace and there are folks who are just building rental places, continuing to do that in this marketplace.


CHETRY: So if you're someone who is renting right now and you're thinking about buying, I'm sure you probably have the jitters, because all you've been hearing about is the mortgage meltdown. Why don't you figure what works best for you? What steps you should take?

WILLIS: You need information. You need to do your research. What is your local market doing? You need to think about that. Specifically, where are you in the cycle? Some markets are hard cycling. They really go up and down steeply. Are you one of those markets who need to figure that out? You're going to have to have a very big down payment, because bankers out there are very stingy and finally, you really got to think about buying what you can afford.

This was the big problem in the boom. People overbought, paid too much, didn't realize that it's not just your mortgage you're paying. It's also insurance. It's also maintenance. So all of this adds up, and you really got to think it through. I got to tell you, the best estimates now of when this market is going to turn around is not the summer, it's not the spring, it could be the fall, it may be next year. So you may want to keep your powder dry if you're thinking of buying right now, for a little while longer. Get familiar with the market. Figure out what's going on and then really buy a little later.

CHETRY: Your renting, you may be in a better position to sock some of that money away and wait for things to get better.

WILLIS: You could, you could. You know, housing is a good investment, but these days you're going to have to have a very long time horizon.

CHETRY: All right. Thanks, Gerri.

WILLIS: My pleasure.


ROBERTS: Thanks, Kiran. Hospital hell. An experience that put our own Glenn Beck on the brink of suicide. Beck says he was lost in a cloud of painkillers and chemicals after something that was supposed to be a routine out-patient surgery. He posted some of his thoughts online. More than half a million people have viewed it. He says that the thing that hurts the most was the way that he was treated, which leads us to morning's "Quick Vote" question.

Have you or anyone in your family, ever had a nightmarish experience in the hospital? Right now, 75 percent of you say yes, 25 percent say no. Cast your vote at We'll continue to tally your votes throughout the morning. And we want to hear your E.R. stories as well. Both positive and negative. You can send them in to

In Michigan, it was about jobs. What about Nevada? How will the issues affect this Saturday's caucuses? We're talking with the voters when AMERICAN MORNING returns. And we're following that breaking news out of London. A plane lands short of the runway at Heathrow Airport. A live report right after the break. Stay with us.


JOHN ROBERTS, CNN ANCHOR: Just in, news to CNN on this Thursday, January 17th. I'm John Roberts live in Las Vegas. Good morning, Kiran.

KIRAN CHETRY, CNN ANCHOR: Good morning, I'm Kiran Chetry in New York. We're following developments out of Heathrow Airport. Word coming in the last few minutes of an emergency at London's Heathrow Airport after a British Airways plane landed short of the runway. Some pictures now. According to British Airways, there was an "incident involving flight b8-38." It was coming from Beijing. It actually happened as Prime Minister Gordon was due to leave Heathrow for China and India. His flight was actually delayed because of the incident, but his jet was not involved directly.

Now, witnesses report seeing about six fire engines at the scene and the aircraft's emergency chute appeared to have been deployed as well. And again, these are some of the pictures we're getting right now. Passengers had to be led to safety after this plane flying in from China reportedly landed short of the runway at the biggest airport in the U.K. We're getting more details from our London bureau and we'll bring them to you as soon as we get more information. Some other headlines this morning, rescue crews reached the scene of a navy helicopter crash in Texas. The Sea Dragon helicopter went down near Corpus Christi crashing in heavy fog and exploding in flames. A witness says he saw a huge red fireball and heard a giant boom. One person survived, three others were killed. The crew was on a training mission out of the naval air station in Corpus Christi.

And a five-alarm fire in Manchester, New Hampshire this morning. Fire crews are still on the scene but they do have it under control now. At one point though, flames tore through at least four apartment buildings, two of them destroyed. The fire broke out around 2:00 in the morning and had it under control by 5:30, thinking everyone made it out safely. Two firefighters though were being treated for injuries.

Congress is looking into ads for the cholesterol lowering drug, Vytorin. There's a recent study showing Vytorin may be no better than a cheaper, generic cholesterol drug. A subcommittee will investigate whether data from clinical trials was withheld and whether the Vytorin ads are misleading.

You may have heard it before. But the message is officially going out again today. Don't give cough and cold medicine to children under the age of 2. That advisory coming from the Food and Drug Administration to make sure that parents get that message that over-the-counter medicine especially multi-symptom cold and flu relief, does not work for young children and can have some dangerous side effects. Drug companies voluntarily pulled from the shelves more than a dozen versions last fall. The FDA is investigating if they work for children over the age 2 as well. John.

ROBERTS: Coming up on 33 minutes after the hour. We are here live in Las Vegas where tourism is the name of the game. Hotel and restaurant workers will be a major force in this Saturday's caucuses. In fact, nine of the big casinos are going to be actual caucus sites. Joining me this morning, two undecided voters. Deborah Dyer is a cocktail waitress on the strip here and Rick Giffen is the executive chef. Trader Vic's has been hosting this all day. Good morning to both of you. This is really interesting, because you traditionally voted republican.


ROBERTS: And now thinking of caucusing with the democrats. You were you a democrat until two months ago and now are thinking of caucusing with the GOP. Why the switch?

DEBRA DYER, CASINO COCKTAIL WAITRESS: I feel that that party suits my beliefs and my family values and where I want to see the country go, and I really like Ron Paul and would like to support him but I'm open to a lot of different aspects of the party and I like that and I want to see it go forward.

ROBERTS: Rick and why the change for you?

GIFFEN: The Bush administration hasn't impressed me over the last eight years, and I like what Obama has to say. I'm not a big Hillary fan, but I -- between Obama and a couple other candidates, I kind of like the democratic race.

ROBERTS: And you are a transplant from Brooklyn here to the high desert?

DYER: Yes.

ROBERTS: What are the issues that are really important to you, and what do you want to hear from the candidates.

DYER: Well, being in the tourism industry, we're concerned about the economy, because if the economy is not doing well throughout the country, then we're not doing well, because we thrive on that economy. People coming here and wanting to spend their money, and come and we serve them and just -- it's incredible when the economy is doing great, we do good. If we don't, then we don't.

ROBERTS: You, what's so amazing, Rick, is when you look up and down the strip here, there is construction. Construction right across the street. They're building a 60,000 residence and room development here. This city center. 6.5 billion dollars, and yet we hear the foreclosure rates are the highest in the nation here in Nevada. It's a real contradiction and disconnect here?

GIFFEN: It's really bizarre, what attracts people to the venues down here on the strip is the time-share situation. And you know, all of the celebrity, everybody wants a piece of Las Vegas. This is like the hottest thing going right now. So, there's a big marketplace.

ROBERTS: What do you want out of a candidate?

GIFFEN: Well, out of a candidate? Well, I really like, I mean Edwards I like what he's saying about the green issues as far as the petroleum and looking for alternate sources of energy. I think it's great. And, you know, as far as immigration laws, I really think that we should give some of these people a chance that have been working in the United States and paying taxes, and have mortgages and buy cars and pay interest rates. I think they should be able to become citizens. I really do.

ROBERTS: Deborah, do you know people who have fallen on hard times here?

DYER: I do actually. I have a family member who had to go into foreclosure with their home, because they were a dealer and couldn't make ends meet. It's just very hard being in this industry and being an employee.

ROBERTS: Were they caught up in the sub prime mortgage mess or just it just the fact that they couldn't meet the payments?

DYER: I think it was just the fact of not being able to meet the payments over time, because we do work for tips. And if the tips aren't there, then we can't make ends meet and it gets tied back to the economy. ROBERTS: You're running one of the bigger restaurants here in Las Vegas. What is the economy like as far as the food service industry goes?

GIFFEN: Well, I mean, during the convention season it's still holding real strong. I mean, the conventioneers come out on their expense accounts and they still go out and have fun and still enjoy good food and beverage, and then in the summer months you have good family travel out of Utah, Arizona and California.

ROBERTS: (inaudible) pretty good at this point. With the recession looming, it could downturn?

GIFFEN: Yes, it might. We might see some slopes in it, but you know, as far as the actual economy, I think when the housing boom happened, the prices got driven up so high that the market just got out of control.

ROBERTS: Now, you're not a union member, Rick. You are a union member. How much pressure is there from the union here to go with their endorsement of Barack Obama?

DYER: There's a small amount of pressure, but the union is still very open to allow us to have our beliefs and our values and to go and vote with the best candidate which represents our beliefs. So, if my candidate doesn't make through, I may give the union what they want and vote for Obama.

ROBERTS: We've been making the point this morning thought that these caucuses are very public. Can you stand up in public and support a candidate that is the one the your union is behind new? Do you feel comfortable with that.

DYER: Yes. Very comfortable.

ROBERTS: Great We'll be watching closely to see how it goes.

DYER: Thank you.

ROBERTS: Deborah Dyer, Rick Giffen. Thanks very much for being with us this morning.

GIFFEN: Thank you. Back over to Kiran.

CHETRY: Well, still to come, it's Thursday. It means we dip into Dr. Sanjay Gupta's mailbag like we do every week. Human growth hormones, statin drugs and cloned meat. Sanjay answers your question just ahead.

Also a winter mess in the south now, moving up north. Our Rob Marciano tracking extreme weather for us, coming up in AMERICAN MORNING.


ROBERTS: Coming up now at 20 minutes to the top of the hour. Just in this morning, another report showing major weakness in the housing market. Construction of new homes in 2007 fell 25% compared to 2006, according to the Commerce Department. That is the sharpest drop since 1980. In all, 1.4 million homes were started last year.

And we got some new pictures in and new details of the emergency in London's Heathrow Airport. A British Airways plane, BA flight 38 landed short of the runway. It was coming in to London from Beijing, and can you see some of the damage there on the wing and the emergency chutes deployed. The passengers were evacuated with their chutes. One report has three minor injuries, but only minor injuries. Obviously, it could be a lot worse. Landing short of the runway have resulted in disaster in the past. This happened just as Prime Minister Gordon Brown was about to depart from the same airport. His plane was delayed but not affected. We'll keep on watching the situation for you. Looks like a Boeing 777 there short of the runway at Heathrow Airport. We'll bring you the latest just as soon as we have it. Kiran.

CHETRY: All right. It is 40 minutes past 8:00 right now here on the east coast. Rob Marciano has been tracking weather for us. You got a taste of it and now you're saying it could be heading up north?

ROB MARCIANO, CNN, METEOROLOGIST: It is, it's on the move. A little bit of winter weather last night, Kiran, in Atlanta. Pandemonium in the streets of the ATL but this winter mix now moving up the i-85 corridor and mostly north west where you see the winter mix. It is cold enough in some of these areas to produce not only sleet and freezing rain but some snow. Also North Carolina, eight inches at last check. Hendersonville, North Carolina, five, these are in the hills but Greenville's not. That's lower elevation, 2.7. Atlanta, just under half an inch. We haven't seen snow in quite some time.

Now moving out of the Atlanta area, across the Appalachians, still some pockets of temperatures at are very, very close to freezing. So, right on the cusp. This is not a huge icy event although there is some icing in some spots. It's mostly a wet snow with sleet and in some cases freezing rain. One to five inches of snow continues to be in the forecast. Winter storm warnings posted all the way up through western parts of Virginia and West Virginia. D.C. will get an inch or two of wet snow and some of this will head up the i-95 corridor towards New York City. But it should be kind of a rain and snow mix.

There will be more snowstorms to come for the Big Apple, no doubt about it as we go on through time. And a chilly night there in Las Vegas. Winds, John, in L.A. gusted up to 100 mile-an-hour with those Santa Ana winds blowing. That was kind of breezy there yesterday. We'll toss it back to you in Vegas. John.

ROBERTS: It was breezy here yesterday, Rob, but we didn't get the 50 mile-an-hour wind earlier forecasted and we're very thankful for that, but, damn, it's cold this morning.

MARCIANO: Stay warm.

ROBERTS: It's Thursday, and time to answer your medical questions.

CHETRY: Sanjay Gupta is reaching into his mailbag. And he joins us now. I love the this that half the Brady bunch here. Are you ready?


CHETRY: Well, the first question from Olivia in Washington, D.C.. I heard you talking about human growth hormone and you explained that it's not really the wonder drug that many of us think it is, but what about in topical creams? Is that dangerous, too?

GUPTA: It's so interesting, Olivia. So many people talk about these types of medications being used as a cream. A couple of things to keep in mind with regard to human growth hormone. One is that there is no evidence that it can actually be absorbed across the skin. So, you're probably buying a product that simply doesn't work. Now the question is, what is actually in the screen? If the human growth hormone isn't actually absorbed across the skin, what is it? And this is where it gets tricky and potentially a little dangerous. Best advice, if you've been sold a cream that has human growth hormone, don't buy it. It doesn't work.

ROBERTS: All right. Next question, Sanjay is coming from Christie of Albuquerque. She writes "why do we need cloned beef and milk? Are we anticipating a cow shortage or something?

GUPTA: No. Christie. Good question. I guess that was a question in hadn't really thought of. There is no cow shortage. Certainly, that's being thought of here. The issue really is to try and develop the best possible animals for future breeding. So, if you have, for example, cows that produce the very best milk or cattle that produced the very best beef, to clone those animals and to make more of them so you get a higher quality beef and milk down the line.

Again, this isn't something that's happening right now. While there are 600 clones out there, the offspring are probably what's eventually going to end up in supermarkets and for consumption. So, it's going to be a couple years before that happens, but a very good question. It's more to improve the quality overall the products that we consumed.

CHETRY: One of the fringe benefits of having Sanjay around is you can ask him off camera some of your own health questions. But you guys, thought it was interesting enough to make it a question on the mailbag. It's actually from my dad. He takes Zocor for cholesterol and he read that co-enzyme Q10, which I guess is a supplement, can help people taking statins prevent muscle mass loss and maybe strengthen the heart muscle. Is this true and if so, Sanjay, how much is recommended?

GUPTA: This has become such a popular supplement. There is no question, co-Q10 and the exact dosing can change. And you really sort of figure what your goals are for this particular supplement. But you're right. We do tend top have co-q-10 reservoirs in our body if you will that tend to decrease over age. One of the places where they exists is in the heart muscle. So the theory is, if you replace some of those co-Q10 levels, might that be good for your overall heart muscle and your overall heart health?

The answer is potentially yes. The other question is could it be good for your immune system overall. And again, the answer is potentially yes, but it somehow reverse muscle damage that occurs just as we age? Again potentially, yes, but Kiran, the one thing is, you know, we do a lot of research on this sort of stuff. If you go to Medline plus for example, they actually give a grade to all the various supplements. Co-Q10 gets pretty much a C across the board for all those things. They make an added caveat saying diabetics really shouldn't take it because it has no impact on blood sugar. So, maybe not the best supplement out there, probably not going to harm and it might help in some of those areas we talked about.

CHETRY: It's also expensive, we heard.

GUPTA: Yes. That's always sort of side effect as well. Your pocketbook side effect. These things are not cheap and they're usually not covered by insurance.

ROBERTS: A lot of these things aren't. That's glucosamine, chondroitin. You could spend a lot of money trying to stage off the aging process. Sanjay, thanks. And if you got a question for Dr. Gupta, e-mail it to us. Go to Sanjay answers your questions every Thursday here on AMERICAN MORNING.

CHETRY: Meantime, CNN NEWSROOM just minutes away and Heidi Collins is at the CNN Center with a look at what's ahead. Good morning, Heidi.

HEIDI COLLINS, CNN, ANCHOR: Good morning, Kiran. That's right. Unfortunately it's the economic blahs on the NEWSROOM rundown this morning. Prices and unemployment are up, sales and stocks are down. And we just saw those numbers on new home building. We'll talk about that. The Fed chairman and the President zero in on an economic fix today.

Plus, no cold medicines for babies and toddlers. A new warning to tell you about this morning.

And a dog on a perilous perch, stuck on the side of a 100-foot cliff. Find out how this one ends. Stay on top of breaking news as well. NEWSROOM gets started at the top of the hour right here on CNN. Kiran.

CHETRY: All right. Thanks so much.

Well, we've been e-mailing all morning. Actually, you guys have been e-mailing with your stories of hospital and E.R. horror stories. In fact, we got many of them. We're going to be reading those e- mails. Veronica de la Cruz has been putting them together for us and she's going to share a little bit about what you the viewers have said about your own experiences after we spoke with Glenn Beck about his E.R. nightmare. John. ROBERTS: And look up in the sky. It's a bird, it's a plane, it's a prince. England's Prince William takes to the friendly blue skies. New video of his training with the Royal Air Force. Stay with us.


ROBERTS: Nine minutes now until the top of the hour.

We've been telling you this morning, a British Airways plane landed short of the runway at London's Heathrow Airport. It happened about an hour ago. And you can see some of the damage to the aircraft there. AMERICAN MORNING'S Emily Chang is live at the international update desk in London with more on the incident. Emily, what more do we know about this?

EMILY CHANG, CNN, CORRESPONDENT: John, we know that a Boeing 777 landed just short of the runway. This is British Airways flight 38 coming from Beijing to London and airport officials say it had to make an emergency landing, and we still don't know why, but as soon as it landed we're told fire and emergency officials surrounded the plane and everyone, luckily, was evacuated safely. Three people, however, are being treated for minor injuries, but this is certainly very lucky given how much damage there was to that plane.

Now, this plane, which was supposed to land on Heathrow's southern runway. But again it stopped short of that runway. Heathrow has two runways. A southern runway and northern runway. The southern runway has been closed. The northern runway now remains open, but Heathrow is the busiest airport in the world. So, certainly this means a lot of congestion, a lot of flight delays for travelers.

Now, interesting enough, Prime Minister Gordon Brown was supposed to take a trip to China today. He was, in fact, on another plane on the runway waiting to takeoff, but, of course, his plane was delayed and indeed, his travel plans will be delayed.

Now, of course, we're still trying to figure out why this happened. The investigators are on the scene. We do know that Boeing 777s do have a good safety record, but we are still trying to figure out why this happened. John.

ROBERTS: Emily, obviously the end of a long flight coming all the way in from Beijing. Any idea what the weather was like at the time and whether that might have been a contributing factor?

CHANG: Well, actually, the weather here in London today is very good. So, again, we do not know why this happened, but everyone will be asking that question.

ROBERTS: Yes, apparently, according to weather on the ground, there was minimum or marginal visual flight rules at the time. Ceiling between 1,000 and 3,000 feet, three to five miles visibility. Nothing out of the ordinary for professionally trained pilots, I would take it? CHANG: Well, again, John, we don't know. Investigators are at the scene. We just don't know a lot yet why this happened. What we do know is that all of the people on that plane are incredibly lucky. Because landing short of the runway has resulted in disaster before. So, certainly a very lucky situation for those passengers. As for what happened, we're still waiting to find out.

ROBERTS: All right. Emily, we look forward to your next report on that. Thanks. I'll just hand it back to Kiran in New York.

CHETRY: Thanks to some quick thinking and a Louisville slugger, a 14-year-old Arizona boy was able to protect himself and his home from a bugler twice his size. The Mesa teen was home alone when he saw a man breaking had. He ran to his room, hid in the closet and called 911.


OPERATOR: Are you still locked in your room?

CALLER: He's breaking in.

OPERATOR: In your room?


OPERATOR: You need to get out the window.

CALLER: I can't.


CHETRY: Can you imagine how terrifying that must have been? The burglar did enter the boy's room and that's when he decided to take matters into his own hands. Grabbed the bat and let the intruder have it.


He turned around and he had had like a screw driver, like a knife or something and said he was going to kill me.


CHETRY: Well, 30-year-old Thomas Garza ran out of the home. Police arriving on the scene caught up with him soon after. According to local media, Garza is suspected of being involved in several other burglaries in the area. Well, what a lucky and smart 14-year-old boy.

A quick look at what CNN NEWSROOM is working on at the top of the hour.

TONY HARRIS, CNN, ANCHOR: See these stories in the CNN NEWSROOM.

You've seen the economy on the front burner today when the President and the Fed chairman, and a suspect in custody. A manhunt for others accused of killing two Georgia police officers.

Snow dusting parts of the deep south.

The government's new warning today. No cold medicine for tots.

And the boy who beat a burglar with a baseball bat. NEWSROOM just minutes away, at the top of the hour on CNN.


ROBERTS: Well, we got some new pictures in just this morning of Prince William, the pilot. He is learning takeoffs and landings at the Royal Air Force College about 100 miles north of London. He says the moment he first took the controls was a frightening one. Prince William is on a four-month deployment. His father, Prince Charles and uncle, Prince Andrew, both trained at pilots with the RAF. Last year, William spent time with the ground forces. Later on this year, he's going to train with the Royal Navy. Kiran.

CHETRY: All right. Well, we want to take a final look at this morning's quick vote question. Have you or anyone in your family ever had a nightmarish E.R. experience? And this quick vote, wow. We were really shocked at the fact that it turned around so quickly. In the first hour, these numbers were almost the exact opposite.

Well, 78% of you saying yes, either you or someone in your family had a nightmarish experience in the E.R.. 22% saying no. We also asked you to e-mail your stories to us and boy, e-mail them, you did you. Our Veronica de la Cruz has been reading through some of them. There are hundreds of e-mails that we received. And there's a common thread of what people are describing as this feeling that they didn't get the care or attention they wanted or need in the E.R.?

VERONICA DE LA CRUZ, CNN, INTERNET CORRESPONDENT: Inadequate medical attention. Lots of horror stories to tell you about, many of them relating to patients having to wait hours upon hours to be seen by doctor. Others, talking about receiving botched treatment. Take a listen to this one. Terrence from Virginia writes his 86-year-old mother was taken to the hospital, what he describes as symptoms of a heart attack. They waited 13 hours to see her. And then when she was finally admitted, the hospital he says, after my mother's first four days, we learned that they have been giving her three additional medicines uncalled for, because, in this very efficient emergency room they had put another patient's record into my mother's chart.

And from Chee from Durangco, Colorado, who said she went to the E.R. for diabetes and couldn't believe how incompetent the staff was. After being admitted to the hospital, she writes, the staff was so dumb in treating type 1 diabetics that I actually had to call my roommate to bring me my insulin. And the nurses were pleased. They even congratulated me after I started taking insulin without their knowledge. Because obviously, her condition improved. We're going to go and post these on our website. You can log on to and you can find your e-mail there and read through a couple others, because like you said, we received hundreds this morning. CHETRY: And I understand there are others who wrote in, saying, look, it's a hard job for these doctors and nurses. There are so many people who use the E.R.s as the E.R. is the first and only line of defense.

DE LA CRUZ: Hospital workers are overworked or --

CHETRY: uh-huh. We will continue to follow this for sure. Thank you so much, Veronica.

DE LA CRUZ: Of course.

CHETRY: And thanks for being with us here on AMERICAN MORNING. John, see you back here at 8:00 tonight in the Elections Center.