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CNN NEWSROOM

Olympic Torch Sparks Scuffles; Are America's Skies Safe?

Aired April 9, 2008 - 15:00   ET

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


DON LEMON, CNN ANCHOR: Well, we're getting close. We're just about an hour away from the Olympic torch's one and only relay in the U.S., the streets of San Francisco, as you can see there from that live picture, now packed with protesters, and they are fired up.
FREDRICKA WHITFIELD, CNN ANCHOR: They sure are. Scuffles on the street expected, as San Francisco ramps up security and braces for the worst.

LEMON: Well, the torch has had a rough ride overseas and it looks like there's a bumpy road ahead. It certainly looks that way. We're not sure, and let's hope not.

WHITFIELD: Let's hope not.

LEMON: Let's hope not.

WHITFIELD: We just know a whole lot of folks converging, and they all have a message.

LEMON: And let's hope again that they are calm, cool and collected.

Hello, everyone. I'm Don Lemon, live here at the CNN World Headquarters in Atlanta.

WHITFIELD: And I'm Fredricka Whitfield, in for Kyra Phillips.

You're in the CNN NEWSROOM.

LEMON: Before we get to the torch, let's talk about this. Legal wheels started turning in Texas. A judge hears this hour a challenge from a religious group that favors and encourages polygamy.

That's after a police raid on this ranch near San Angelo. More than 400 children were removed from the property, many of them pregnant, many of them already mothers, many of them claiming to be married to members of the church. Well, we will let you know details when they emerge from this hearing. And in a few minutes we are going to have a conversation with a woman who knows the polygamist lifestyle from the inside.

WHITFIELD: The running of the Olympic torch sparking scuffles potentially in San Francisco. The torch hits the streets, just under an hour from now. But protesters were out in force hours before making their statements heard.

Here is CNN's Ted Rowlands covering it all. And you have seen it all already.

TED ROWLANDS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, well, protesters are out in force from both sides. A lot of pro-Chinese people are here to show their support for the Chinese government and for the fact that Beijing has -- the Chinese -- the Olympic Games for the first time. That's what you're seeing behind us, all the red flags.

This is an invited-only area. This is where they will have a pre-torch run ceremony in the next hour. Also out in force, the San Francisco Police Department is really astounding. Their strategy here, to try to avoid what happened in Paris and London, is these barricades. They have them set up along the six-mile route.

And in between the barricades will go the torch, along next to dozens and dozens of San Francisco police officers. Always a little bit of an awkward pan, but I want to show you look at the water filled with police and Coast Guard boats as well. There are also San Francisco police officers on jet skis, all in an attempt to try to reduce the probability of this torch run getting out of hand.

We have had a few skirmishes this morning. A few things have happened here in this invited-only area. A gentleman with a Tibetan flag was able to sort of sneak in, and he was immediately surrounded by pro-Chinese people. There was a lot of yelling and some pushing going on. No arrests took place there.

And the individual was all right physically, but it was a taste of what is expected later today. San Francisco police also in the last hour reporting that there was another skirmish at -- near the end of the parade route near the Justin Herman Plaza by pro-Chinese and anti-Chinese protesters.

That's the two things that police are going to be having to monitor, these two factions coming together, along with the fact that there are torchbearers that are expected to, when they get the torch in their hand and everybody around the world is watching them, they are expected to demonstrate as well. Which one of these torchbearers, it's unknown.

But according to organizers on the pro-Tibet side, they say they have at least four moles, if you will, that will have the torch in their hand and do some sort of demonstration, another thing to watch out for as this plays out, and the reaction of the Chinese security detail, which travels with the flame. Keep in mind, the torch itself when it's lit is not the Olympic flame. It's just lit by that.

The Olympic flame is carried in a secure -- that glass box that you see. That's behind and that's heavily guarded. The torch itself, San Francisco police will put out on their own if they think they need to keep people back, to take -- basically take the carrot away from an eager protester. That flame is not the actually Olympic flame, something to keep in mind as this takes place.

Right now, it's a six-mile route. That may change as well, everything on the table just to see what happens in the next hour. We will find which way they go with this. But right now they're crossing their fingers, hoping that nothing too dramatic happens and they can have this thing go the full six miles without a hitch.

WHITFIELD: Right. So, Ted, it really is a symbolic gesture trying to take out the flame of the torch, but not necessarily of the Olympic flame, as you put it.

And, meantime, all of this is to try to influence, if not the U.S., other countries, too, to boycott the opening ceremonies, if not the Olympic Games altogether. We're understanding -- we're hearing that Prime Minister Gordon Brown of Great Britain has said that he is not going to be attending the opening ceremony, nor will he attend the Games. But apparently he hadn't planned to do so anyway, but he will be perhaps at the closing ceremony as that torch is then handed over from Beijing to London Games, which will host the next Olympic Games after Beijing.

Ted Rowlands, thanks so much. We are going to continue to check back with you to see exactly what transpires there in San Francisco with these threatened protests.

Meantime, much more coverage of the Olympic torch run is to come. We have heard plenty from anti-China protesters, but there are plenty of China supporters, as you heard from Ted, on the streets of San Francisco as well. We will be hearing from at least one of them.

And the Olympic torch is a heated issue on the campaign trail. Our Wolf Blitzer looks at how the presidential contenders are dealing with the uproar over the Beijing Games starting at 4:00 p.m. Eastern right here in "THE SITUATION ROOM" from Washington.

LEMON: Let's talk now about trouble in the skies. The nation's biggest air carrier faces a second wave of big travel troubles. More than 1,000 American Airlines flights are canceled today, so the carrier can reinspect wiring on its MD-80 jets.

Nearly 500 flights were grounded yesterday. An American spokesman says the move, required by the FAA, is a technical compliance issue and is not related to flight safety. For air travelers, it means one thing only, and that's chaos. Stranded passengers have to camp out at some of the country's busiest airports, among them, Dallas/Ft. Worth International, American's main hub, and Chicago O'Hare. Hundreds of flights at both airports are canceled today.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: There's just no organization here.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We have been here over an hour and no one's told us anything.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I have to spend the night. I can't get out until tomorrow. My luggage is on its way to Detroit.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I have to fly out tomorrow. It stinks I have got to take tomorrow off. But you got to do what you go to do. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's a big deal because I'm a physician and I have patients to see tomorrow and I have to call and find some people to see them.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

LEMON: There you go. Well, last month, you might remember this, American canceled more than 300 flights over similar inspections. The FAA raised additional concerns and ordered the new round of inspections.

The nation's biggest airline is also facing another set of problems with some of its fleet.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SAM MAYER, PILOT: Our windshield started to cover with ice from the bottom working its way up. As we were running the emergency procedures, there was a pop. Everyone's ears blew out. We realized that we had lost the pressurization of the aircraft At that time. We made a quick P.A.: We're going back to the airport. We will be on the ground in three or four minutes.

DREW GRIFFIN, CNN SPECIAL INVESTIGATIONS UNIT CORRESPONDENT: This was an emergency landing.

MAYER: Oh, absolutely. And when I got out of the aircraft and went outside, it was absolutely stunning. The aircraft was literally a Popsicle.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

LEMON: We will find out what's causing these worrisome problems for American Airlines in a report from CNN's "SPECIAL INVESTIGATIONS UNIT" correspondent Drew Griffin.

WHITFIELD: And new talks between Delta and Northwest Airlines about a possible merger, but now another potential stumbling block. Delta pilots have been granted permits to do informational picketing at two Northwest hubs. A dispute over seniority between the two airlines' pilots unions reportedly has held up a merger of the carriers. The picketing may take place starting tomorrow at the Minneapolis and Detroit airports.

Meantime, Italy's flagship airline, it's fighting to keep flying. Alitalia is losing more than a million-and-a-half dollars every day. And experts say, without new resources, the carrier can only keep operating on its own until June. Air France-KLM has made a takeover offer, but talks broke off last week over union demands. Air France- KLM now says it's willing to renew its offer. And Italy's government plans to meet with the unions tomorrow to try to salvage the deal.

(WEATHER UPDATE)

WHITFIELD: Well, senior citizens trapped by smoke and flames, you saw the images earlier, pretty frightening stuff. And firefighters, they climbed to the rescue. We have been watching dramatic video from a three-story assisted living complex today outside Detroit today.

Well, that fire, it trapped some of the residents on their balconies, forcing firefighters to actually help them out and help them very carefully by taking them down ladders. No immediate reports of injuries -- that's good -- and no word of exactly what sparked the flames. We will keep following the story right here in the NEWSROOM.

LEMON: In the meantime, another story we're following and live pictures now to San Francisco. But there are at least two sides to every story. And the Olympic torch run is no exception. There are plenty of China supporters on the streets of San Francisco. We will talk to one of them.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

LEMON: All right, there's trouble in the skies.

The nation's biggest air carrier faces a second wave of big travel troubles. More than 1,000 American Airlines flights are canceled today, so the carrier can reinspect wiring on its MD-80 jets. Some 500 flights were grounded yesterday. And an American spokesman says the move is a technical compliance issue and is not, not related to flight safety.

For air travelers, though, this means utter chaos and frustration at some of the country's busiest airports. Last month, American canceled more than 300 flights over similar inspections. The FAA raised additional concerns and ordered the new round of inspections.

And speaking of some of the nation's busiest airports, Angelique Bella joining us now from O'Hare.

Wish you could have joined us under better circumstances. I am understanding from the information I got you were at the airport for an hour. You have had three American Airlines flights and all three have been canceled.

ANGELIQUE BELLA, STRANDED AMERICAN AIRLINES PASSENGER: Yes, that's right. My first one was at 6:30 in the morning and I found out about 3:30 in the morning. So, this has been a very long process for us to get here.

LEMON: OK. So they tried to reroute you. You know how they say we will put you on another carrier, we will take care of it. But then when you got to another carrier, what happened then?

BELLA: Yes, that was the most frustrating part. I arrived there on time only to find out that I couldn't check in with the kiosk. I had to go wait for a ticket. By the time I got to get the ticket, they said I needed some sort of paper verification or a ticket from American. But since I had an electronic ticket, I had just intended to come in with my driver's license.

And so, there was no (AUDIO GAP) information. And so therefore, I had to go straight back to American. And now I'm back in line.

LEMON: Your reaction and what you're feeling, Angelique?

BELLA: Well, I understand if it's truly a maintenance issue for safety, you know, we have to take the good with the bad, but it's just very inconvenient, of course, and I'm missing a bunch of meetings and a lot of important things to do in Washington, D.C. this evening.

LEMON: And had you had some sort of warning, right? There was no warning with this?

BELLA: No, there was no warning. And, of course, we had been watching the news to see and keeping up with the flight itineraries to see if they were on time or not. But I had no idea it was going to be this much of an ordeal.

LEMON: Yes. All right. Hey, any idea real -- that you can tell us, do you know when you're going to get out?

BELLA: I have no idea. As a matter of fact, the line is just absolutely enormous. It looks like another hour long just to get to the check -- to the ticket counter, and so then we will see what flights we actually can get on in the next day or so.

LEMON: Do you live in Chicago?

BELLA: Right now, I live in Chicago and I do a lot of business in the District of Columbia, and so I'm really trying to get there tonight.

LEMON: Right. OK. So you can go home, if you didn't have to, but there are a lot of people, Angelique, who couldn't go home.

(CROSSTALK)

BELLA: Absolutely. And they're completely stranded.

(CROSSTALK)

BELLA: I see them camping out here.

(CROSSTALK)

LEMON: Camping out. As we call it in Chicago, Camp O'Hare, when they put out the cots.

Angelique Bella, we wish you the very best. Sorry that you're dealing with a very frustrating situation there. Thanks for joining us.

BELLA: Certainly. Thank you so much.

LEMON: All right.

WHITFIELD: American Airlines is facing another serious concern over its fleet of MD-80 jets. CNN's "SPECIAL INVESTIGATIONS UNIT" has been looking into landing gear problems that have led to nearly two dozen flight emergencies since late last year.

Details now from CNN SIU correspondent Drew Griffin.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

GRIFFIN: American Airlines flight 862 circling Miami, 138 on board, but nose landing gear broken. On takeoff, it just stayed down. The pilot couldn't bring it back up. As controllers in the tower try to see if it's benefit, pilots dump fuel. In the end, the gear holds. And the MD-80 pilot makes a perfect landing and one CNN has learned is becoming all-too routine at American.

Just between November and February, by the company's own count, 22 planes had nose landing gear that didn't work properly.

MAYER: I raised the landing gear, and immediately heard a noise that's not normal.

GRIFFIN: It happened to captain Sam Mayer on a freezing cold day in December. He just took off from Minneapolis and knew he was in trouble.

MAYER: Our windshield started to cover with ice from the bottom working its way up. As we were running the emergency procedures, there was a pop. Everyone's ears blew out. We realized that we had lost the pressurization of the aircraft At that time. We made a quick P.A.: We're going back to the airport. We will be on the ground in three or four minutes.

GRIFFIN (on-camera): This was an emergency landing.

MAYER: Oh, absolutely. And when I got out of the aircraft and went outside, it was absolutely stunning. The aircraft was literally a Popsicle.

GRIFFIN (voice-over): A Popsicle, he says, because the malfunctioning nose gear disabled anti-icing systems. His wings and tail were freezing over. On the ground, he says he immediately called American's fleet manager, who told him the company was working on the problem.

MAYER: I felt good after that call and then watched the next month 10 or 11 more. I think that speaks for itself.

GRIFFIN (on-camera): There have now been 23 landing gear incidents with American's MD-80s. And pilots tell us any one of them could have been a potential disaster. But guess what? An American Airlines spokesman says their MD-80s fly an average 1,200 flights a day. Twenty-three malfunctions isn't that many.

(voice-over): American spokesman Tim Wagner said the company has identified three issues, all related to cold weather. He said the manufacturer, Boeing, needs to fix the problems. And he said the pilots are unnecessarily alarming the public, because a landing gear that doesn't retract isn't as big a problem as failure to extend, and we have not had failures to extend with the MD-80 landing gear.

The FAA seems unconcerned as well, telling us it's aware of the problem, but since pilots have been instructed of because all the aircraft landed safely, the agency determined that there was no safety concern. All of this leads to a bigger question about safety. Last week, CNN reported the FAA was only now trying to fix a problem dating back to 2004: shattered cockpit windshields on Boeing aircraft.

Four major carriers have recently grounded planes because there were gaps found in FAA-required inspections for other problems. An FAA supervisor was demoted because he allowed Southwest Airlines to delay aircraft inspections.

American captain Todd Wissing, a safety committee member with the Allied Pilots Association, which, by the way, is in contract talks with American, says he fears his airline wants to save money on something that once was sacred: maintenance.

TODD WISSING, ALLIED PILOTS ASSOCIATION: I think that if it's -- if there's an attitude change, to where we're just going to do what the FAA minimum is, I think a lot of airlines will probably start to adopt that.

GRIFFIN: And while American tries to figure out what's causing the landing gear problems and what to do about it, the company has told its MD-80 pilots to review their emergency procedures.

MAYER: That was their solution to the problem, was make sure you're real familiar with what to do and what doesn't work when your nose gear doesn't come up.

GRIFFIN: Boeing did send CNN a statement saying it's committed to safety, but had no comment on the MD-80 landing gear problem.

Drew Griffin, CNN, Atlanta.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

LEMON: All right. We go now to San Francisco, where there have been protests, most of them peaceful now, a couple of ruckuses that have sprouted up there, according to our Ted Rowlands, but nothing of note.

We know the torch, in just about 35, 40 minutes, will be making its way through the streets there, six miles. The interesting question, what will happen?

WHITFIELD: And where's the route? Because that's been changed.

LEMON: Yes.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BUSINESS REPORT) LEMON: Actually, because we have some very serious news to tell you about, Fred.

We want to tell you about -- do we want to get to this, about fortunes first? Let's go. Let's move on and do the breaking news. There is some breaking news to tell you about. It is in Maryland. It's coming from our affiliate WJLA.

Do we have those lives pictures that we want to go to? This is Kingston, Maryland, Fred.

(CROSSTALK)

WHITFIELD: Kensington.

LEMON: Kensington. Thank you very much.

And we're told that a school there is on lockdown in Montgomery County, Maryland. And, according to school officials, the dismissal has been delayed due to a possible discharge of a weapon at Albert Einstein High School in Kensington, Maryland. The school system tells our affiliate WJLA there have been injuries or no threats have been made here.

And students are being held in a class and police are interviewing students as they investigate this incident. Police have the area, not only the school, but the area on lockdown. And of course, our affiliate there sending crews, and their chopper is on the scene. This all courtesy of our affiliate WJLA. This is new video in and what appears to be, it looks like -- I'm not sure if that's students or faculty or adults, I should say, gathered there on the parking lot of this school.

(CROSSTALK)

WHITFIELD: Yes, Einstein, a pretty significant sized school. This is Montgomery County, Maryland. It's right outside Washington, D.C.

LEMON: That's right. That's your area. You're from this area.

WHITFIELD: Yes, Kensington, right near Wheaton, Maryland.

And certainly this is -- it's an area, too, that, you know, most Montgomery County public schools just very placid, nice school district. Very seldom do things like this get reported. So, certainly, investigators are on the scene, trying to go through all of the layers of security to make sure that it isn't anything more than what it appears to be on the surface.

(CROSSTALK)

LEMON: Is this our live picture we have? Yes. There we go.

It looks like they're doing some investigating, Fredricka. That's law enforcement right there on the scene. We saw them traveling across a lawn of this school. And can see all the vehicles on the ground there.

And I'm not sure. That's a shield, actually, in his hand at the center of your screen. Yes, it indeed is a shield. So, we're going to continue to watch this. And if anything comes of this, we will bring it to you right -- right here in the CNN NEWSROOM.

There you go. Look at all the police cars on the scene there -- and for good reason. Can't be safe enough.

OK. Other breaking news. We've been telling you about American Airlines canceling more than 1,000 flights. Well, get this -- there's more with that. Now we're talking about Alaska Airlines. Alaska Airlines not quite as significant the number of flights they've canceled. But we have just gotten word from them that they have canceled 14 flights. And I believe this is according to the Associated Press, right?

According to the "Associated Press," Alaska Airlines has canceled 14 flights. They, too, are conducting wiring inspections on nine of its MD-80s. That airline is based in Seattle. And in addition to Wednesday's cancellation, which is today, they said they canceled three flights last night to comply with the FAA directives. They're putting passengers, they say, on other flights. But other flights are also overload because of American Airlines canceling some 1,000 flights.

So there we go. Today, at least two airlines canceling flights. American Airlines and Alaska.

We'll keep...

WHITFIELD: Not a good day to be traveling at all.

LEMON: Not a good day. We'll keep on top of it for you.

WHITFIELD: All right, sounds good, Don. Thanks.

All right, meantime, it is 31 minutes after the hour. Here are three of the other stories that we're working on from the CNN NEWSROOM.

A frightening scene at this Michigan assisted living center. A fire this morning at a three story building forced firefighters to bring some residents down on ladders. All residents were evacuated safely. Several people suffered from smoke inhalation (ph) and chest pain.

A senior Al Qaeda figure has died of natural causes, possibly hepatitis. A U.S. official says Abu Ayyub al-Masri is believed to have helped plan a number of high profile terror attacks, including the 2005 bombings in London.

And General David Petraeus is back on Capitol Hill. A short while ago, he hinted he would resist if the next president tried to stage a quick withdrawal of U.S. troops. Petraeus said he would have a "dialogue" with the president about what risks would be. LEMON: All right. Polygamists -- what do they do? What they do and what they don't want the world to know. We'll talk to a woman who was part of the polygamist world and managed to run far, far away. That's coming up.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

WHITFIELD: Some of what's taking place in San Francisco right now. Pro and anti-China demonstrators have been scuffling on the streets there today. Now we're about 45 minutes -- less than 30, actually, before the Olympic Torch makes its one and only U.S. appearance. China protesters are making their presence known across the globe. But China supporters are trying to make sure their voices are heard, as well.

One of them is Betty Yuan, head of the Northern California Chinese Cultural Athletic Federation, joining us now from San Francisco.

Good to see you, Betty.

BETTY YUAN, CHINESE CULTURAL ATHLETICS FEDERATION: Hi. How are you?

WHITFIELD: I'm doing good.

So I understand you're rather disappointed about these anti- Beijing Game protesters?

YUAN: OK. This morning, I went to the area we called the Herman Plaza. And I saw so many protester persons right there. And then, now I can see more people to go there. So I like to see carrying out the Torch relay finish and everything should be fine. Nobody get hurt.

WHITFIELD: OK. Well, that is the hope, that no one gets hurt in all of this. But it is certainly causing quite the stir. It's certainly is getting the attention, particularly of those who are saying we don't like the idea of the Beijing Games taking place because China and its human rights abuses in Tibet certainly don't send the right kind of message.

So is it your feeling that this kind of protest taking place right now is something that would cause great disruption to China, as you see it, or the progress, potentially, of China?

YUAN: I see it actually -- I saw most of the protester person -- I have questions. Do they know how much about China? Do they go to China to visit there? Do they know what's the China before, what's the China now? And I have other questions. And that they keep saying they don't against Chinese people.

But, however, I really believe they should separate the political issue and the sports issue. We welcome the Torch relay to the San Francisco. We are so excited and we are so proud of where the San Francisco citizens can welcome the Torch relay to the San Francisco. So we don't like to see this kind of situation. WHITFIELD: Well, you mentioned pride. You have a lot of pride, as do many others, that China will be hosting the Olympic Games. What do you see, potentially, I guess, the greatest gain that China has by hosting these Beijing Games?

YUAN: You know, back 200 years ago in the -- they have a principal from the Nankai University and that person, the Mr. Chen (ph) -- Mr. Chen, he mentioned he would like to see the Chinese people can participate (INAUDIBLE), that he would like to see the Chinese people can get a campaign stop. And he would like to see the Chinese people can host the Olympics. After 100 years in the Chinese people, they reached the goal, you know, to '08. So I'm the Chinese-American people.

I am so excited and so proud of the Chinese government and with the Chinese people, they can host the Olympics. They welcome other people from all over the world. I think this is a good opportunity for China, for the Chinese government and for Chinese people. They know more about us. I think this is a great opportunity. So I don't know why the people are against that.

WHITFIELD: All right. Betty Yuan, thank you so much, head of the Northern Chinese Cultural Athletics Federation. Thanks so much for your time.

YUAN: Thank you.

WHITFIELD: And certainly the Olympic Torch is a heated issue on the campaign trail. Our Wolf Blitzer looks at how the presidential contenders are dealing with the uproar over the Beijing Games. That's starting at 4:00 p.m. Eastern in "THE SITUATION ROOM".

LEMON: And we saw there earlier from the live pictures we had in San Francisco, beautiful weather there. Not necessarily so. We've got some really bad weather going on in West Texas?

(WEATHER REPORT)

LEMON: One week ago, we wouldn't have recognized this place. Today, it is the center of an outrageous list of accusations -- child abuse, sexual abuse, young girls forced to marry older men as one of numerous wives -- all with no chance of escape. It must sound all too familiar for Flora Jessop. She was once part of the polygamy lifestyle. She managed to get out.

Flora Jessop joins us now from Las Vegas.

All these things I said, true there, when it comes to abuse...

FLORA JESSOP, ESCAPED POLYGAMIST SECT: Yes...

LEMON: ...young girls marrying their brother. I see that your stepsister married her -- or your sister married her stepbrother, is that correct?

JESSOP: Yes. My 14-year-old sister was forced to marry her stepbrother. And she tried to get away. And Utah and Arizona officials turned her back and gave her back over to the polygamists.

LEMON: And you tried to get away, as well, at one point. And when you fought back. You went to DCFS. And you said you were sent right back to the place that -- where you were abused?

JESSOP: Yes. I was sent back and spent three years in solitary confinement for trying to run away. So I know very well what could happen to these children when they call and ask for help and they don't receive it.

LEMON: You are -- you have made it your fight, your crusade now, to help children, especially young girls, who are involved in the situation that you were in.

JESSOP: Yes. I've spent -- since my sister's ordeal in 2001, when she tried to run and get away and was sent back, I have spent the last seven years, eight years, in trying to rescue the women and children that do want out. I've been directly involved in the rescue of 84 women and children from inside polygamist -- these polygamist cults.

LEMON: I've got to ask you this -- and I'm sure this is -- this speaks for thousands of young girls -- do you think you or your sister will ever be the same? Do you consider yourself -- and I use this, it's the only word that I can think of -- do you think you're normal like other normal American children? Do you feel that way?

JESSOP: Oh, absolutely not. I am so not normal. No. Don't get me wrong. I think that this created me. It made me who I am today. And...

LEMON: What do you mean by that?

JESSOP: Well, I look back on everything I've been through -- being molested, being whipped, being beaten, being locked up, having to run for my life -- as my way of getting educated so that I could fight for the kids today. If I hadn't gone through everything I've been through, I wouldn't know what these children need and I could not help them.

LEMON: OK.

JESSOP: It's also given me the ability to successfully help transition children from inside the cults to the outside world so that they can live a normal, successful life on the outside.

LEMON: It's interesting that you -- you call it a cult. I find that very interesting. And I want to take you -- talk about that. But let's -- we want to take you inside of a polygamist sect.

There's a documentary -- a documentary called "Banking On Heaven". "Banking On Heaven". A woman -- or women who used to be part of this polygamist group share what it's like to be on the inside.

Let's go on the inside. Take a look at this.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I spent 17 years being beat by my mother because I wouldn't be obedient to my father. And he wanted me in his bed.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: And then you grow up also going to bed every night and laying awake for hours waiting to hear the footsteps coming down the hall.

QUESTION: And what did that mean?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: That usually meant your dad was coming to your bed.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

LEMON: Your dad was coming to your bed. How awful for a young girl. You call it a cult.

JESSOP: But quite normal.

LEMON: Why is that?

JESSOP: That's -- it's the par. I mean, to put it in the words of one little 16-year-old girl that I've helped, you have to obey. And I told her but it's not right that your dad sleeps with you. And she says, but you have to be obedient.

LEMON: Yes. How are you today? How's your sister?

JESSOP: My sister is still inside. She's now 20 and has five children. We have not been able to get to her.

LEMON: Yes. What do you want to see done? Is there anything that we can do? Because I was speaking to our legal analyst here, Jeffrey Toobin, and he said it's really a legal -- legally, it's a gray area.

JESSOP: It's not, though. It is not a gray area. What you have is you have a situation where you have child abuse occurring. This has nothing to do with polygamy. It has nothing to do with religion. This has to do with the abuse of hundreds upon hundreds of children.

And I think it's important that we keep in mind that when Texas originally went in, they went in on the call of a little girl who had been brutalized. They went and tried to get help to this girl. This is -- everybody wants to blame the State of Texas for overstepping themselves here. But I don't think they did. I think that they went there to do their jobs. And the men on that community stopped them from doing their job.

It -- the State of Texas is not to blame, the men on those -- on that compound are to blame because right now we have 419 children in custody because they refused to turn over one child who was hurt.

LEMON: And all of those children -- and many of them, if they get to leave there, they'll have to be completely retrained and reprogrammed, if they are, indeed, as you say, if this is part of a cult.

JESSOP: No, they need to be loved into normalcy. And it's -- it's -- we can do that. We've successfully done that.

LEMON: Flora Jessop, thank you very much for joining us today in the CNN NEWSROOM. Best of luck to you.

JESSOP: Thank you.

WHITFIELD: She's very courageous to tell her story...

LEMON: Yes, absolutely.

WHITFIELD: ...too, and help so many others.

Well, there is nothing like a little star power to raise a little campaign cash. Hillary Clinton is in New York to mix business with pleasure. We'll take you live to their Radio City Music Hall.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

LEMON: All right. Live pictures now from San Francisco. This courtesy of our affiliate KOVR in San Francisco. This is ground shots. We've been seeing, also, some aerials of thousands of people protesting there, and so far peacefully. There's a live shot there of where they believe the Torch is going to come through.

But here's the deal. We don't know where the Torch, where the exact route was going to be, right?

WHITFIELD: The route. No.

LEMON: And now we've also been told, Fredricka, and CNN has confirmed that the Torch route has been shortened. Unclear to this point how much route has been shortened.

And, also, important to point out, two more Torch runners have dropped out. That's a total of three runners not participating in this run because they are concerned and afraid for their safety. We'll continue to update this in "THE SITUATION ROOM" as it happens.

WHITFIELD: Yes, presumably not wanting to be assaulted, like we've seen some of the other Torchbearers in Paris and London being assaulted, as well. Some similar protests. Much more on that straight ahead.

Meantime, on to presidential politics. Hillary Clinton is stepping away from the Pennsylvania campaign trail. She's in New York for a pair of campaign events, including one tonight at Radio City Music Hall.

And that's where we find our Suzanne Malveaux, right outside -- Suzanne.

SUZANNE MALVEAUX, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Hey, Fred. Everybody's anticipating this concert. It really is going to be kind of an encore performance with Hillary Clinton and Elton John because they did this back in 2000 for her Senate race. They raised a lot of cash and that is what this is all about. We're talking about tickets that start at $125. They go all the way up to $2,300 here.

Clearly, Senator Clinton is trying to close that fundraising gap. It was just last month she was out-fundraised by Barack Obama to the tune of some $20 million. So you're seeing some heavy fundraising here.

And also what you're seeing, Fred, is all three of the presidential candidates really embracing this whole idea of pop culture, getting in the game. They're not only using celebrities, but they're -- all three of them have taped appearances for "American Idol," that's going to be airing tonight for their charity special. So we're going to see messages from all three of the candidates.

They're trying to woo those young voters. They are dipping in trying to put out those celebrities. Elton John, you've got. For Obama, you've got Oprah. For Clinton, you've got Ellen DeGeneres. So there's a lot of competition going on to get those folks out there.

They don't always generate the voters, necessarily. They don't always influence folks, but they do generate a lot of dollars. In fact, we've been talking a bit about what might be her wish list for tonight's concert -- Elton John. So we thought of some good ones here, one of them, we were thinking, "I'm Still Standing" would be a good one for her.

(LAUGHTER)

WHITFIELD: Oh, yes.

MALVEAUX: For the voters, "Don't Go Breaking My Heart."

WHITFIELD: OK.

MALVEAUX: That's another good one. And there's one more -- one more we came up with, that was "Philadelphia Freedom." I don't know if you remember that one, if you're an Elton John fan.

WHITFIELD: I do. I remember it.

MALVEAUX: But the Pennsylvania primary is coming up. That might be one -- another good one for her -- Fred.

WHITFIELD: OK. Suzanne D.J. Malveaux.

(LAUGHTER)

WHITFIELD: I like the request list there.

MALVEAUX: I love Elton John, what can I say?

WHITFIELD: I know. I think Hillary Clinton would be happy with that list, as well.

All right, Suzanne. We'll be tuning in. Thanks so much.

MALVEAUX: All right. See you then.

LEMON: How about "Always and Forever?" because it seems like this campaign has been going on...

WHITFIELD: That's Heat Wave, isn't it?

LEMON: Yes. Yes. Always and forever...

WHITFIELD: Yes. So it's not Elton John.

(LAUGHTER)

WHITFIELD: But that's clever. Like it.

All right. Well, all the latest campaign news -- you know, it's right at your fingertips. We don't make it hard for you, we make it easy just go to CNNPolitics.com. We also have analysis from the best political team on television. That and much more, CNNPolitics.com.

LEMON: A rare sight. Check this out -- one baby born with two faces.

WHITFIELD: Wow!

LEMON: People in her hometown praising her as goddess.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

LEMON: All right, you're going to want to pay attention to this one. It's time to see what's clicking at CNN.com.

She's only one-month old and the object of much adoration. People from miles around are coming to her village outside New Delhi to worship the little girl born with two faces.

It was a rescue you saw live. I want to see that again. We're going to come back and see that. It's the rescue you saw live right here on CNN -- senior citizens being carried out of their apartment after the complex in West Bloomfield, Michigan caught fire. All 200 residents made it out safely.

And a woman's group in London lashes out at what it calls sexism in the city -- the practice of businesses entertaining clients at strip clubs.

Those stories and much, much more at CNN.com.

WHITFIELD: All right. Much more ahead with Wolf Blitzer and "THE SIT ROOM".

LEMON: Hey, Wolf.

WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: Thanks very much, guys. Let me tell you what's coming up at the top of the hour.

The eyes of the world on San Francisco right now, where the Olympic Flame Relay is about to get underway in the next few moments. Police are expecting massive anti-China protests and are bracing for the possibility of the type of violence we saw in several Europe cities. We're tracking this story and we'll go there live right at the top of the hour.

We'll also go live to the campaign trail and the Democrats, specifically. Hillary Clinton trying to turn the table on Barack Obama on the war in Iraq. We'll tell you what's going on.

Also, American Airlines canceling hundreds of flights over safety concerns, causing travel turmoil at airports around the country. More than 100,000 travelers are affected. We're going to have details of this developing story, as well.

All that, guys, coming up right here in "THE SITUATION ROOM".

LEMON: Thanks, Wolf.

WHITFIELD: All right. We look forward to that. And a wrap of Wall Street straight ahead.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

WHITFIELD: The closing bell on Wall Street right around the corner.

LEMON: And Susan Lisovicz is standing by with a final look at the trading day -- hey, Susan.

LISOVICZ: Hey, Don, and Fred.

Well, he is an icon in the publishing world and champion of silk pajamas and a hero...

(CROSSTALK)

WHITFIELD: Now I get it.

(LAUGHTER)

LISOVICZ: And a hero to wannabe swingers everywhere. Hugh Hefner, or "Hef," as some people call him, is 82-years-old today. And, you know, some people who are 82 might play shuffleboard or, you know, do an early bird...

WHITFIELD: Ooh, no. Not him.

LISOVICZ: An early bird dinner. No, he's coming off a three day party in Vegas.

(STOCK MARKET REPORT)

LEMON: Now it's time to turn it over to THE SITUATION ROOM and Mr. Wolf Blitzer -- hey, Wolf.

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