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CNN NEWSROOM

Gas Prices Climb Again; Congress Questions Timing of North Korea Revelation; Indiana Next Democratic Battleground; Navy Lawyer to Defend Accused 9/11 Mastermind

Aired April 24, 2008 - 13:00   ET

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


DON LEMON, CNN ANCHOR: Outrage at the pumps, aired out on Capitol Hill. Truckers say stop setting oil aside for an emergency and help Americans now.
BRIANNA KEILAR, CNN ANCHOR: Well, it still isn't this bad in the U.S., though. An all-out riot over high prices in Iceland. We're going to show you the cost of a gallon around the globe.

LEMON: All right. Well, here's a question. Will Wesley Snipes go to prison for dodging his taxes? Well, he's got a long list of celebrity supporters, and we're waiting for a judge's decision. And it could happen this hour.

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

KEILAR: And I'm Brianna Keilar, in for Kyra Phillips.

You're in the CNN NEWSROOM.

LEMON: And right off the top, the relentless upward spiral of fuel prices. Today truckers issued a dire plea for help as the price of diesel hit $4.22 a gallon.

Self-serve regular also climbed to yet another record, $3.56. That's a nationwide average.

And with more from the New York Stock Exchange right now, here's CNN's Susan Lisovicz -- Susan.

SUSAN LISOVICZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Right. Hi, Don. Well, the national average for gas may not reflect what you see on your local street corner. In fact, there are some pretty great discrepancies.

For example, in San Francisco, the price is nearly $4 a gallon. In Newark, New Jersey, the price is well below the national average, $3.36 per gallon. Other parts of the country get closer to the national average, like for instance, Lincoln, Nebraska, at $3.57 or Gainesville, Florida, at $3.65.

Why the discrepancy? Well, I was just talking to the folks at the Oil Price Institute, and they say it's taxes.

Take a look at where your gas money goes. Nearly three quarters of the price depends on the price of crude, but another 13 percent comes from federal, state, and local taxes. And that's where you see some big differences from place to place.

By the way, just eight percent goes to distribution and market, and the local gas station gets just a slice of that 8 percent. So don't blame your local gas-station owner for the prices. They're feeling the pinch, as well.

Stocks on Wall Street -- just let me slide that in there -- are rallying. Ford swung to a quarterly profit, despite weak sales for all auto makers. And certainly, they've been hurt by high gas -- gas prices. That's for sure. This could be a sign the company is turning around after losing more than $15 billion over the last two years.

Checking the numbers, the Dow is up 129 points, or one percent. Ditto for the NASDAQ.

Coming up, high fuel prices forcing airlines to merge. Congress fears it could hurt us, the consumer. That story in the next hour of NEWSROOM.

Don, back to you.

LEMON: All right. Susan Lisovicz, the New York Stock Exchange, thank you very much for that.

Well, if you think it is bad here, petrol in Britain now sells for -- get this -- $8.38 a gallon. France, $8.04. Germany is $7.86. So why so high in Europe? Well, the answer is taxes.

In Japan where a temporary gas tax recently expired, the price per gallon has fallen to around $5.50. Well, in fast-growing India, it's $4.88. It's $2.82 in fast-growing China, which is a major oil producer.

Those numbers, by the way, from the Boston firm Associates for International Research. And next hour, some of the countries where gas is actually dirt cheap.

And check this out. This is a kind of news you can only see right here on CNN. It's an I-Report. It's from Iceland. It's showing civil unrest over the price of diesel fuel. Our I-Reporter says riot police were deployed in the capital yesterday to contain a disturbance by angry truck drivers.

The truck drivers say they're having to shoulder the burden of higher diesel prices, and they want government help.

Make sure you share your reports with CNN. Just go to ireport.com.

And you'll want to join us tomorrow, when we'll show you a series of gas-saving tips. We're going to give you a series on gas-saving tips. And there is lots of myths out there. And we want to bust them all wide open for you. What is the real deal? Well, that's tomorrow, right here in the CNN NEWSROOM -- Brianna.

KEILAR: And we're keeping a close eye on some closed-door hearings going on this hour on Capitol Hill. U.S. intelligence officials are briefing some members of Congress, telling them that North Korea was helping Syria build a nuclear facility. That is according to a source who is familiar with internal administration discussions on this matter. And of course, Syria not an ally of the U.S.

These briefings come several months after Israel actually bombed this Syrian facility that we're talking about. It also comes at a very delicate time in the six-party talks, as the U.S. and other nations try to get North Korea to give up their nuclear ambitions.

And because of this timing, people like Nancy Pelosi, speaker of the House, are questioning -- are questioning why the briefings are coming right now. We're also hearing that question coming from a prominent Republican, Pete Hoekstra, who is the ranking member of the House Intelligence Committee. Here's what he said just a short time ago.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

REP. PETE HOEKSTRA (R), MICHIGAN: A trusting environment between the administration and Congress does not exist. I think many people believe that we were used today by the administration. Because -- not because they felt that they had to inform Congress, because it was their legal obligation to do that, but because they had other agendas in mind.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KEILAR: Let's head now to the White House, where Kathleen Koch is standing by.

And Kathleen, the White House has been very mum, to say the least, on this topic.

Do we get anything new today?

KATHLEEN KOCH, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, we finally did get just a very little bit. Now, just so everyone knows the history of this, it's been since this Israeli bombing strike back in September, the White House, the president would say absolutely nothing about this.

Now today I read to press secretary Dana Perino, what chairman -- the ranking Republican, Hoekstra, said, how angry he was, how he felt -- he said he felt that Congress had been used, that any bond of trust between the administration and Congress had been broken.

And Perino said that -- she said that we're disappointed to hear that he feels that way, that the White House does, indeed, she says, respect Congress.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DANA PERINO, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: There are tensions that exist between the executive branches and the legislative branches on a range of issues in regards to who should know what when. But we will continue to work with Representative Hoekstra and continue to talk with him. And he was part of the briefings this morning, and I'm not going to comment on anything until those briefings can be completed today.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KOCH: Now, Perino did go on to say will what is said in these briefings today satisfy everyone? She said, "I don't know."

And I pointed out -- I said, "Well, clearly it didn't satisfy the ranking Republican, Hoekstra." And I said, "Will he be reaching out to him and to others who aren't satisfied?"

And she said, "Yes, we reach out to them regularly and will continue to do so."

But clearly, a lot of folks, a lot of Republicans and Democrats on Capitol Hill, are very concerned the administration had ulterior motives for this -- putting this information out now. Some believe that there are some conservative who believe that the current deal that's on the table that would perhaps lift any sanctions against North Korea and take it up the terrorism list, that that's going too easy on North Korea. And there's speculation to settle (ph) that deal. And certainly, this kind of information could do that.

KEILAR: All right. Kathleen Koch at the White House for us. Thanks very much.

LEMON: Prosecutors in Florida are hoping to make an example of Wesley Snipes. They're pushing a judge to give the action star the maximum sentence for three tax convictions.

CNN's Susan Candiotti joins us now from Miami.

And as I understand, Susan, they're in recess or maybe a lunch break, but apparently, the judge is taking his time looking at this, because he wants to make sure that all of this sticks in case there's an appeal.

SUSAN CANDIOTTI, CNN CORRESPONDENT: That's right. Of course, that wouldn't be surprising if there were one. But a lot of the time is being taken up in going over last-minute motions that are being filed and not necessarily by Snipes, but two of his codefendants, who were convicted of more serious felony charges.

Let's remind everybody: Wesley Snipes was convicted of three misdemeanors, yet the government has made no secret about the fact, as you indicated, that they want to make an example of him. They've called him wealthy, famous and brazenly defiant of the IRS tax code. He flat out didn't want to pay his taxes, the government says. And that something needs to be done about that and that others need to learn from his bad example, as the government puts it.

Now, for his defense, Wesley Snipes has said, "Look, I just got bad advice. And I might disagree with the tax code and with the IRS and paying taxes, but that doesn't mean I was trying to defraud the IRS."

He has maintained that he wanted to engage in a dialogue with the IRS about paying his taxes. Well, the government says he owes more than $14 million in back taxes. Yet, they're seeking that three years in prison and a $5 million fine. But he still might be liable to pay all those back taxes that he owes.

Now, in court, the judge is also considering letters of support, character references from some famous Hollywood friends. Woody Harrelson. We all remember costar in that really popular movie, "White Men Can't Jump." Costarred with Wesley Snipes.

And Denzel Washington also sent a letter on Snipes' behalf, calling him -- comparing him to a mighty oak, as he put it. And Woody Harrelson calling him a role model.

And in court today, Judge Joe Brown -- you know, he has got that court TV show. And he says that Snipes is well meaning but perhaps too trusting sometimes.

So all these people have come to his aid, in hopes that he will get probation. That's what Snipes is hoping for.

LEMON: All right. Susan Candiotti, watching all of this for us in Florida.

Susan, thank you very much for that.

And next hour, we'll check in with our legal analyst, Sunny Hostin, who's got a lot to say about Wesley Snipes, his conviction and his sentencing and what are his chances here? She's going to break it all down for us.

KEILAR: Buses are on the move again outside of the Coliseum in San Angelo, Texas. The state is trying to move several hundred children of a polygamous sect into foster homes, trying to keep brothers and sisters together. To figure out who's related to whom, the kids as well as adults from the ranch are undergoing DNA testing.

Four hundred thirty-seven children were taken from the ranch three weeks ago after authorities got phone calls claiming abuse.

Texas Rangers are investigating a Colorado Springs woman, Rosita Swinton, in connection with those calls. She's been arrested before for allegedly making false reports to police. An affidavit says the calls about the polygamist sect were made from a prepaid cell phone linked to Swinton.

And in a few minutes, we'll get some insights from Dr. Dan Fischer. He was raised in a polygamous home, and he left. But he still has brothers and sisters at this very ranch in Texas. And he is there, trying to persuade authorities to keep children and mothers together.

LEMON: And Brianna, there are calls for justice. There are also pleas for calm as New York braces for a verdict (ph) in the Sean Bell shooting case. Three police officers are accused of gunning down an unarmed man, and we've got a live report for you.

KEILAR: And on the road to the White House, Indiana. the next potential turning point. Who has the edge? Barack Obama or Hillary Clinton?

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

LEMON: Well, it has been a Middle East-heavy week for President Bush. This hour, he's meeting with Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas in Washington, and you're looking at that new video. Abbas just arriving at the White House. There he is, going into the White House now. That video just into the CNN NEWSROOM moments ago.

It's just a day since -- just a day after Mr. Bush hosted Jordan's King Abdullah, and he's preparing for a Middle East trip. That will happen next month. Abbas is expected to ask for more White House pressure on Israel to stop expanding its settlements in the West Bank.

KEILAR: Hillary Clinton has a couple of campaign events today in North Carolina, the state that's sharing the spotlight with Indiana on May 6. She also has extra cash for the road ahead, because her campaign says it's brought in $10 million in new money since Tuesday's victory in Pennsylvania.

Her rival, Barack Obama, is taking a breather today. He's home in Chicago with no public events on his schedule, but no doubt that his aides are taking careful note of Clinton's claim that she has pulled ahead in the nationwide popular vote. She's actually right, but only if you count results from Florida and Michigan, and of course, neither state's delegates are being counted, because their primaries were held too early. In Michigan, Obama wasn't even on the ballot.

Without those states, Obama has almost 300,000 more votes than Clinton.

And presumptive Republican nominee John McCain is in New Orleans, the latest stop on a weeklong tour of what his campaign calls forgotten areas of the country. He got a look this morning at the flood-ravaged and still struggling Lower Ninth Ward.

LEMON: Voters who never expected to be in the spotlight soon will be. The next big contests are May 6 in North Carolina and Indiana. Oregon and Kentucky hold primaries May 20. The final primaries are June 3 in Montana and South Dakota.

Indiana is shaping up as the next big battleground. Clinton was there yesterday. Obama was there before the votes were even counted in Pennsylvania. Seventy-two delegates are at stake there. Does either candidate have an edge here? That's the question.

Our Tom Foreman breaks down the Hoosier electorate.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE) TOM FOREMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: about 6 million people live in Indiana, half as many as in Pennsylvania, and each candidate has some likely natural power supplies here.

Let's start with Clinton and race.

(on-camera): Indiana is 89 percent white. That's above the national average. That's above Pennsylvania, where exit polls show race was a factor that hurt Obama, so that's likely a plus for Clinton.

The percentage of female voters is just a little below Pennsylvania, so she probably won't pick up any extra ground there. But, a lot of the Democrats here consider themselves basically conservative. And that could disincline them to Obama's message of change.

So, what helps Obama?

Well, there are fewer older people here per capita than in Pennsylvania. And since senior citizens tend to like Clinton, having less of them could help him.

And there are plenty of young voters to pursue. Indiana has dozens of well-regarded colleges and universities -- Notre Dame, Purdue, among others -- and the college kids tend to love Obama, rolling out really impressive numbers of new voters.

But there is a catch: when young people graduate in Indiana, they often move away. So overall, the state's population is less educated than average, and less educated people tend to vote more often for Clinton.

There are many blue-collar workers here. And she's done well with them. But Indiana has not been hit quite as hard economically as some other states, so they could be a wash, depending on whose message really connects with them.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

KEILAR: They were taken from a community that shunned the outside, and they were put right into that unfamiliar world. A man who once was part of a polygamous sect joins us to talk about how wrenching that can be.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

LEMON: All right. We have some news that's just in here to the CNN NEWSROOM. It is a van crash. It's happening in Pennsylvania. And it is Warren County, Pennsylvania, actually, Somerset Township.

Now, here's what we're hearing. According to the Associated Press, three people have been killed in this. And then our affiliate which we're getting these pictures from, WTAE, in Pennsylvania, they're reporting that four people are dead. Here's what we're seeing. You see the tractor-trailer there. The tractor-trailer collided with a van that was carrying people from a mental health facility. Obviously, happening today. It killed at least three people, we are told, sending others to the hospital.

The coroner says there that at least three people were killed. And again an update from our affiliate, WTAE. They're reporting that four people are killed there.

Obviously, many people had to be helicoptered to hospitals there, but that new video just into CNN. These people, we believe, are from a -- some sort of mental health facility. Not sure if they were adults, if they were children. And we are checking on that.

Just to give you an idea of where Somerset Township is. Somerset Township is about 30 miles south of Pittsburgh.

So a van and a tractor-trailer there colliding, killing at least three people, possibly four. We get more information, we'll let you know, right here in the NEWSROOM -- Brianna.

KEILAR: It is the case of a lifetime: United States versus Khalid Shaikh Muhammad, the alleged mastermind of the 9/11 attacks.

The infamous defendant is represented by U.S. Navy lawyer Prescott Prince, who spoke with our justice correspondent, Kelli Arena, before he left for Guantanamo Bay.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

KELLI ARENA, CNN JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): He's a small-time lawyer with a gargantuan case. Defense attorney Prescott Price is a Navy reservist recently called to active duty, in order to represent one of the most notorious accused terrorists in the world: Khalid Shaikh Mohammad.

CAPT. PRESCOTT PRINCE, NAVY LAWYER: I could have said no. I don't think I would have been doing honor to myself or honor to my calling.

ARENA: Mohammad is accused of planning the September 11 attacks. The government says he even confessed but also admits he was waterboarded. And Prince has a problem with that.

PRINCE: Even the greenest deputy sheriff or working police officer in Skunk Holler County knows that, if you rough up a defendant, anything he says after that is not going to be admitted into court.

ARENA: But it could be admitted in this court, a military commission where civilian rules do not apply.

The government is seeking the death penalty.

Prince says he doesn't have the resources normally available in a capital case, so private legal groups are stepping in to help by recruiting civilian lawyers to aid the defense.

PRINCE: We are going against the entire United States government.

ARENA: These are uncharted waters for this Navy captain, and he knows it.

(on-camera): Have you gone over in your head what you're going t say?

PRINCE: Only a hundred times.

ARENA (voice-over): He's never taken a death penalty case to trial, and his client has been held in isolation for years.

PRINCE: I'll be the first person who can literally look him in the eyes and say, "I am here to help you."

ARENA (on-camera): As he was heading out, prince didn't have any idea what to expect, whether Khalid Shaikh Mohammad knew he was coming, or even whether he'd accept him as his lawyer.

Kelli Arena, CNN, Washington.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

LEMON: New York City bracing for possible trouble. Tomorrow is verdict day in the trial over the police killing of Sean Bell.

KEILAR: If you're willing to do a little work, you can save a bundle and feed your family better than ever.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This year has been an extremely good for us, because the number of people that I think have found fresh vegetables, because they're looking for a cheaper source of food out there in the marketplace.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KEILAR: We'll take you right to the source.

But first, "Fortune" magazine is releasing the list of the top 500 companies. We went beyond the numbers for a closer look at what makes these companies tick, and it's all about geography.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This small town is best known for its Hollywood connection and as a backdrop for movies and TV shows. But it's also full of companies that top the business box office.

What small town has the most Fortune 500 companies? Find out after the break.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Which small town is home to the most Fortune 500 companies? With a population of about 16,000, the Los Angeles suburb of El Segundo, California, tops that list. Mattel, Computer Sciences, DaVita and DirecTV all call El Segundo home.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

LEMON: Hello, everyone. I'm Don Lemon, live here at the CNN world headquarters in Atlanta.

KEILAR: And I'm Brianna Keilar, in for Kyra Phillips. You're in the CNN NEWSROOM.

(NEWSBREAK)

KEILAR: You think the global food crisis affects only poor, faraway nations, well, think again. You can just go to some warehouse stores today, such as Sam's Club or Costco, because those and other retailers are limiting the rice that each customer can buy. Some stores say they've run out while prices for corn, and flour and oil have gone through the roof.

The situation is much worse overseas, though. Riots in Egypt, angry marches in the Caribbean and Indonesia and the Philippines. Rocketing food prices no longer hit the pocketbooks, they're now hitting the kitchen. And families looking for a break from high food prices are going past the store, straight to the farm.

Here's CNN's Ed Lavandera.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

ED LAVANDERA, CNN CORRESPONDENT (on-camera): With food prices soaring, people all over the country are looking for ways to save a little extra money when they go shopping, so it might not be a surprise that local farmers, like the Lemley (ph) family of Canton, Texas rare reporting a boom. And if you're willing to pick your own, you might save an extra dollar that way, too.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: In a given day, everybody will come in and pick anywhere from one to two gallons.

LAVANDERA (voice-over): Everything Lynn Remsing (ph) grows gets gobbled up.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We have seen a tremendous increase in the number of people that are picking their own fruits now.

LAVANDERA: Thousands of people are flocking to Remsing's farm in this Fort Worth, Texas suburb to pick their own fruits and vegetables. On this six-acre plot, sales have doubled in the last year.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This year has been extremely good year for us because the number of people that I think have found fresh vegetables because they are looking for a cheaper source of food out there in the marketplace.

LAVANDERA: Remsing says the organic fruits and vegetables he grows are consistently cheaper than the nonorganic foods sold in nearby supermarkets. That's because he doesn't have transport and packaging costs. Her you pick strawberries right off the bush.

(on-camera): Do you think this is the wave of the future?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I think it is. I think we're going to see this come. If you've ever been to -- seen the European markets, they do a lot of greenhouses, they do a lot of local, small farms.

LAVANDERA (voice-over): Local farmers are reporting a boom in sales all over the country. In the last 10 years, the number of farmer's markets has nearly doubled nationwide, and for the first time the farm bill before Congress will allocate nearly $2 billion to help speciality crop growers expand where they sell their food.

Expanding the availability of produce, creating commodities, those are the type of things that I think will help -- could help bring prices down. But it's a global problem as you're aware.

LAVANDERA (on-camera): Of course what many local farmers are fighting is the expectations games. For example someone in Michigan, come December or January, in the middle of , inter wants an orange. That's not something that's grown locally, so that has to be shipped in.

Ed Lavandera, CNN, Dallas.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

LEMON: All right, Ed.

Well, tomorrow, a judge in New York hands down a verdict in the manslaughter trial involving cops and an unarmed man. Sean Bell was shot dead by the NYPD officer outside a strip club in November of 2006. Whatever the verdict, cops don't want to be caught under staffed on the street.

And CNN's Deborah Feyerick is in New York and she's going to talk about that.

They are concerned about the possible violence here?

DEBORAH FEYERICK, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, you know, community activist who rallied on the steps of city hall yesterday say it's really insulting to the black community to think there will be riots in the event these detectives are acquitted of criminal charges. The family of the victim really confident that that won't happen, that in fact these detectives will be found guilty.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE) FEYERICK (voice-over): Nicole Paultrie Bell has waited more than a year and a half for this day. Justice for Sean, she says, killed by NYPD the morning the two were to marry.

NICOLE PAULTRIE BELL, SEAN BELL'S FIANCEE: I think about my wedding day every day.

FEYERICK: Everything collided just before dawn that morning, November 25, 2006. Sean Bell and friends were winding up HIS bachelor at this strip club in Queens. They didn't know a team of undercover NYPD detectives was inside, investigating complaints of drugs, guns and prostitution. At closing time, bell and his friends left, but not before witnesses say an argument broke out. Believing one of Bell's friends was going to get a gun from the car, one of the undercover officer followed the men. What happened next is at the heart of this trial.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I'm an undercover police officer. There's been shots fired, shots fired.

FEYERICK: Police opened fire 50 times. Detective Michael Oliver, who reloaded his semiautomatic, fired 31 shots. Detective Gescard Isnora fired 11 times. Detective Mark Cooper four times. Their lawyers say the detectives thought their lives were in danger, when Bell, at the wheel, tried, they say, to run down one of the detectives.

But witnesses, including the two friends in the car, say they never heard under cover detectives identify themselves as police when they drew weapons, and that Bell in a panic was trying to get away from the armed men.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: For those naysayer that say that the police officer was just doing their jobs, they should imagine their child in that car being shot by the police for no reason.

FEYERICK: No gun was found around Bell or his friends. Prosecutors charged Detectives Oliver and Isnora with manslaughter, assault, and reckless endangerment. Cooper was charged with reckless endangerment.

As for the bereaved bride, she legally changed her name to "Bell," and is now raising the couple's two small daughters alone.

BELL: I tell her that, you know, daddy is in Heaven. He's watching over us. He's our guardian angel.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

FEYERICK: Now there is no jury in this case. This is a bench trial. The justice, Justice Arthur Cooperman, saying he will announce his verdict tomorrow at 9:00 a.m. -- Don.

LEMON: Very interesting, Deb. I've got to ask you a question, though. So if there is an acquittal -- obviously this is a criminal trial here. If there is an acquittal, can these men face more charges, possibly some civil charges?

FEYERICK: Well, definitely. As a matter of fact, federal prosecutors have been monitoring this very carefully. Authorities telling us that in fact if these detectives are acquitted, prosecutors would then look to see whether in fact there have been any sort of civil rights violations. You can also imagine that the fiancee and the two men who were in the car who were also shot, they have filed a wrongful-death lawsuit. That also in federal court, and they're waiting to hear the outcome of the criminal trial before they continue with that.

LEMON It's going to be very interesting. OK, Deborah Feyerick in New York, Deb, thank you so much.

KEILAR: If you leave your doctor's office maybe you get some free drug samples, and you think, sweet, I just saved some money. Well our medical correspondent Elizabeth says, think again.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

KEILAR: What looks like a good deal may not be. Case in point, some of those free drug samples that you get from your doctor.

In this week's Empowered Patient, our medical correspondent Elizabeth Cohen we explore the hidden downside.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

ELIZABETH COHEN, CNN MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: You heard the expression there is no such thing as a free lunch. Well, there may be no such thing as a free drug sample. Many consumer advocates are urging patients to just say no to these samples, and some university medical centers have stopped offering them.

You might be wondering, what could be wrong with something that's free? Well, here's the problem, those samples are often for the most expensive drugs. So if you have health problems and you start taking a drug that's very expensive, those samples will run out and some point, and you'll end up having to pay for that drug.

Now you might think, well, maybe I'll start off on the most expensive and then I'll later switch to an inexpensive drug that is just as good. Well, oftentimes doctors are very hesitant to switch from you drug to another when the first is working well.

So here's some tips for what to do when you're offered free samples. First, ask your doctor if there is an alternative drug that would work just as well. If you forget to do that and you're hit by sticker shock at the pharmacy, ask the pharmacist to call your doctor and suggest a less expensive drug. Many pharmacists are happy to do so.

Finally, don't be embarrassed to talk to your doctor if you are having trouble paying for your medications. With the price of drugs these days there is nothing to be embarrassed about and you're in good company. One survey at a private practice doctor's office in Minnesota found that 40 percent of the patients said that they had skipped taking some of their medications because they couldn't afford it.

For more tips about how to save money on your prescriptions, go to CNN.com/empoweredpatient.

For "Empowered Patient," I'm Elizabeth Cohen.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

LEMON: All right, well, you see that, look at that right in the middle there. That is a tornado on the ground. Is severe weather in your area today?

Our Chad Myers in the CNN severe weather center, he is checking it all out for you. Chad Myers checking it out, there he is.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

LEMON: Hey, look at that. Man, a lot more than roofs were ripped off when a powerful storm hit south of Fort Worth, Texas late yesterday. One homeowner recalls a tremendous roar and tremendous winds. A tornado hasn't been confirmed yet, but the damage certainly could point to one.

And Chad Myers, I don't know, does -- I guess they could. Straight line winds could do damage like that, right?

CHAD MYERS, AMS METEOROLOGIST: Can, can, but that really looks like a tornado to me. The signature on the radar does not look like a tornado. And there wasn't even a tornado warning on the storm at the time, right through Crowley.

It just looks like this big front coming through here, kind of a gust front. I guess 100 mile per hour wind if you have an area like a gable on the side of your roof that isn't very strong and it fills up the roof with air and it could blow it off the top. They're out there right now trying to figure out whether it was a tornado or not, but whatever.

It doesn't matter whether -- you know, that's just all one of those things, like, oh come on, it's got to be a tornado. Well, it doesn't really matter if you have that kind of damage. I mean, that's tornado-like damage anyway. Just because it may not have been one, doesn't make it any less severe.

(WEATHER REPORT)

MYERS: I have some pictures though. The picture you saw up there on that screen a little bit ago, this is from Dawson County in Texas here. And the storms were moving on through and that's an F-2 or an F-3 tornado Now, this is not the same storm that did hit Crowley later on. But still, obviously that piece right there was a tornado for sure.

Hey Don.

LEMON: Yes.

MYERS: I got a question for you.

LEMON: OK, go ahead.

MYERS: How come all the people that are complaining about the gas mileage in cars are passing me at 85 miles an hour?

LEMON: Because they're late for work, like me always.

MYERS: Slow that mustang down.

LEMON: Yes, you know what, you're right. Well, how come, you know, people are driving so much still? That's ...

MYERS: Because they're chasing tornadoes. That's not a waste of gas, is it?

LEMON: Yes, just because you drive 45 -- I'm being told that you're creeping along.

MYERS: I have to. I have a big engine, I have to go slow.

LEMON: All right, Chad. Hey, keep an eye on that weather for us.

MYERS: I will.

LEMON: We'll be checking back.

MYERS: All right.

LEMON: Thank you, sir.

MYERS: You bet.

KEILAR: Well, it started as a small gap, but now it is a gigantic hole. Check that out -- 14 feet wide, it's 20 feet deep. The sinking pavement has closed two west-bound lanes of Interstate 70 in Frederick, Maryland. And highway crews say they'll be working well into the night filling that hole back in.

LEMON: Hannah Montana -- is it Hannah Montana or Hannah?

KEILAR: Hannah.

LEMON: Hannah Montana ...

KEILAR: Hannah Montana.

LEMON: ...tickets bought up to resale the big profits. It's enough to make a young girl cry. We'll tell you about the -- about what some lawmakers, their efforts to dry those tears.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

LEMON: So, Beijing has confirmed today that a ship load of Chinese weaponry is steaming back home after being turned away from the Southern African coast. The weapons were bound for Zimbabwe in a deal brokered about a year ago. But Zimbabwe is landlocked and has no ports. And with its government accused of election fraud and violence against the opposition, none of Zimbabwe's neighbors would allow the ships to dock and unload the weapons.

KEILAR: Iraqis have had to endure a whole lot these past few years, but the challenges facing one group are unique.

CNN's Jill Dougherty talks to disabled Iraqi athletes competing on a national level.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

JILL DOUGHERTY, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Beating the odds comes naturally to these athletes, competitors at Iraq's Disabled Athletes National Championships. They're here from all over Iraq, 250 men, women, and even some children. Many of them are victims of this war.

Three years ago, Sabrina Wardi was an amateur gymnast and runner.

SABRINA WARDI, ATHLETE (through translator): I was on my way to computer class when a car bomb exploded nearby. It knocked me over and I was hit by shrapnel.

DOUGHERTY: She lost her leg and her hope that she would play sports again. But her friend encouraged her to join a sports club and Sabrina took up the shot put and javelin.

The violence in Baghdad makes training difficult.

WARDI: I'm afraid to go out alone because of the security situation. My mother needs to go everywhere with me.

DOUGHERTY (on-camera): Athletes with disabilities in any country have a lot to overcome, but these athletes are competing in the midst of a sandstorm with explosions going off in the distance.

(voice-over): The National Organization for Iraq's Disabled Athletes has no training center. Its secretary says they need cars for transportation and better equipment. Their ability to overcome these challenges, he says, makes their accomplishments even more extraordinary.

FAKHIR ALI AL-JAMALY, IRAQI NATL. PARALYMPIC COMMITTEE (through translator): We are the school of life against terrorism. Our determination and participation prove to the world that we love peace.

DOUGHERTY: Hussein Abdul Zahara is 11-years-old. He says he's been running since he was six. A year ago, he was shot in the head as he stood on a street corner and lost his sight. HUSSEIN ABDUL ZAHARA, ATHLETE (through translator): After I was shot, I didn't know what happened. I was awake, I was bleeding and my eyes were closed.

DOUGHERTY: He says he feels sad a lot of the time. Today is not one of those days. A coach ties a handkerchief to Hussein's hand and guides him down the track.

Exactly how many people this war has maimed is not known. The head of the Paralympics Committee estimates there are some three million disabled people throughout this country of 27 million. For these competitors, bombs and bullets have hit their bodies, but not their spirits.

Jill Dougherty, CNN, Baghdad.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

LEMON: Our Jeanne Moos found an Obama campaign event memorable. Well, less for what he said than for what he stood in front of. Shirting the issue with the Abercrombie and Fitch guys straight head.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

KEILAR: Oh yes, well, here is who is scoring on the road, the list of the week's top grossing concert tours courtesy of Pollstar. Bon Jovi, in case you didn't guess, No. 1, grossing an average of more than $2.6 million per city and the average seat price -- you see there upper right, $89. And then, look at the Spice Girls in at No. 2, Bruce Springsteen next. And rounding out the top five, Van Halen and Hannah Montana AKA Miley Cyrus.

And of course, you probably heard about all of the problems that parents have had getting ahold of those Hannah Montana tickets. Well, the state of Minnesota is taking action. A bill has arrived on the governor's desk that would outlaw ticket-buying software -- these are the programs that allow professional bookers to scoop up thousands of tickets in minutes, leaving kids -- deserving kids, right -- in the lurch. Many of the brokers turn around, then they re-sell the tickets at hugely inflated prices.

LEMON: Aw.

KEILAR: Kids like that, deserving kids like that.

LEMON: Like those kids, with the tickets in hand.

KEILAR: So cute.

LEMON: Special guest it says (ph), Hannah Montana.

Well, if you notice the type of soda the actors drink in that movie you just saw or recognize the laptops in your favorite cop show, well, you know about product placement. Of course, it happens in politics too. Did you know that? Sometimes even behind a candidate's back. Our Jeanne Moos found proof.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

JEANNE MOOS, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): There was Barack Obama's message of hope, his message of change, his message of Fitch -- as in Abercrombie & Fitch the store?

SEN. BARACK OBAMA (D-IL), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: It's easy to get caught up in the distractions and the silliness.

MOOS: Distractions like the three guys behind you, Senator, each decked out in Abercrombie & Fitch T-shirts. They booed on cue.

OBAMA: He's offering four more years of a war with no exit strategy.

(BOOING)

MOOS: They cheered.

(CHEERING)

MOOS: For Hillary may have had a guy with boxing gloves behind her playing up the Rocky theme.

But the Abercrombie & Fitch guys had the blogs buzzing about product placement. Barack Obama, brought to you by Abercrombie & Fitch. A & F by the way caters mostly to teens and college kids and is known for ads full of half-naked bodies. Even their cologne bottles feature rock hard abs. Bare-chested models adorn their stores, like this one on New York's Fifth Avenue where we went hunting for Obama's Abercrombie & Fitch guy.

(on-camera): You're not one of these guys, are you?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Oh no, I'm not.

MOOS (voice-over): A group called Improv Everywhere organized an event in which over 100 regular, unchiselled guys descended on the store and took their shirts off.

At least the Obama boys kept their chests covered.

(CHEERING)

MOOS: All campaigns try to some extent to arrange their backdrops, but Michelle Obama appeared at Carnegie Mellon University, a reporter for the student paper overheard an event coordinator saying get me "more white people."

What campaign isn't looking for a nice racial mix, but a nice retail mix?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: That is very definitely strategic, yes.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: They went to the mall that day, picked out some nice shirts and said let's go on stage behind Barack Obama.

MOOS (on-camera): But you don't think it was intentional?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Not intentional.

MOOS (voice-over): The Obama campaign laughed off a question about the Abercrombie boys. And the company itself told "The New York Times" it had nothing to do with the trio. To us, they seemed like genuine Obama supporters, waving at the senator, even getting to shake his hand. If they're going to distract from the candidate ...

(CHEERING)

MOOS: ...they could have at least altered their T-shirts to "Aberobama & Fitch."

Jeanne Moos, CNN, New York.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

LEMON: Product placement, what are they talking about? I have no idea. Oh, I like your CNN shirt. Oh, that's very nice.

Oh, the so-called Abercrombie boys -- thank you, guys. I feel like, you know, they're like back-up dancers.

(LAUGHTER)

LEMON: The -- oh, what is that? Oh, it's CNN politics, yes. Thank you very much, Brianna for that.

Well, the so-called Abercrombie boys contacted CNN to tell us the outfits weren't planned. Brandon Ferguson (ph) of Bloomberg, Indiana, his brother and a friend who works at an Abercrombie store say they just like the clothing and just happened to wear it to the Obama event. They say they ended up behind the senator when someone recruited volunteers -- maybe it was the recruiter who did it.

The next hour of the CNN NEWSROOM starts right now.

Thanks, Brianna.

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