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Tornado Warnings in Texas and Arkansas; Primary Countdown for Clinton and Obama; McCain & Money Matters

Aired May 2, 2008 - 11:00   ET

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


TONY HARRIS, CNN ANCHOR: And very quickly, let's get to Reynolds Wolf in the severe weather center. He is following any number of watches and warnings today for severe weather.
And Reynolds, you are going to start with Arkansas for us?

REYNOLDS WOLF, CNN METEOROLOGIST: We're going to start with Texas.

HARRIS: In Texas? OK.

WOLF: But we will -- trust me, we're going to get to Arkansas, too. We're going to cover a lot of territory. A lot people being affected at this time.

We start off with a tornado warning in northeast Texas. This is the I-20 Corridor. Here's Tyler, Texas. Points east of Tyler, this is where we have a tornado on the ground. Again, we have visual confirmation.

This storm rumbling its way just to the west of Marshall. So if you happen to be between Tyler and between Marshall, you're in a pretty perilous spot at this time. Right along the I-20 corridor, if you happen to be in Gilmore, maybe even Jefferson, you need to take cover immediately. This storm moving its way to the northeast around 15 miles per hour.

Now, this line of storms which is well over a thousand miles long -- you can only see just a portion of it here -- it extends all the way through Arkansas and back into parts of the Ohio Valley, and then rears its way back around towards the northern plains. This is going to be making its way off to the East.

One thing I want you to notice very quickly is you are going to see in this frame you have the tornado watch box indicated by the red. And you're going to notice a little bit of clouds. This is not radar. This is rather satellite imagery.

This is very important, because we have got a little bit of clearing that's taking place in this area. Now, the reason why it's important is because with that clearing, if you happen to be living in this area, it looks like you're going to have a sunny day. It looks perfect.

But with that sun draining energy going down in the earth, it's going to cause things to warm up. And think of, like, warm air. Warm air tends to rise, and rising air is going to destabilize the atmosphere. It's going to enhance lift (ph). And when this storm system comes through, you've got a better chance of having some really severe storms. That is going to be situation we are going to be seeing as this watch is posted a little bit farther to the East.

Meanwhile, Tony, you were talking about Arkansas.

HARRIS: Yes.

WOLF: Here's what's up.

At this point we had that tornado warning that was just near Heber Springs. That since has expired. However, we're watching a few of these cells popping up, would not be surprised to see a tornado drop from one of these individual cells moving just to the north or just to the west of Little Rock.

So, if you're in Little Rock, go ahead and be ready, take cover at this point. As these storms come through, they're very violent, they're quick movers. It's certainly an area where you want to take cover.

This is not the time to go out and get something to eat. You certainly want to stay at home at this point, or stay in your place of business.

Some of these have been dramatic storms, quite a bit of lightning, thousands of lightning bolts we've seen just in a few -- say 20-minute span. Back into Hot Springs, even into places like Amity, we've seen these storms racing their way off to parts of the Northeast. So, certainly a big area of concern for us.

We have a tower cam at this time for you in Memphis. Now, Memphis at this point is in the clear. Clear, and I say that in a sense in terms of storms.

Sky conditions certainly are not that way. We have got a lot of clouds there. But as we go back to weather computer and you see this big line of storms coming through, I would not be surprised in the slightest to see this watch area extend over the Mississippi River, and into parts of Memphis, and then possibly into Jackson, Tennessee.

You are also going to notice that farther off to north, we have been seeing some of this development in parts of, say, Illinois, back into parts of Missouri. So this is a tremendous area that we have been watching for you. And from Texas, back into Arkansas, and of course, as I mentioned, into Indiana and Illinois, it is going to be very busy afternoon. There's no question about it.

HARRIS: And this is a part of the same system that rolled through Missouri, correct?

WOLF: This is the same system that rolled through parts of Missouri. One important thing to mention very quickly, you guys -- the last -- was it the last hour you were talking to the governor of Missouri? HARRIS: Yes.

WOLF: You'll remember a few weeks back we were talking about the flooding that we had in Missouri.

HARRIS: And the saturation, yes.

WOLF: It was terrible. But I will tell you, with this storm moving as quickly as it is moving, I would really -- I really don't think it's going to be much of a threat in terms of the flooding, because if this thing was just -- if this storm system was just holding stationary over the state, that would be a big problem. But you will notice most of the rain now well east of the Mississippi River and leaving.

Most of Missouri in the dry. So that's certainly good news for them for the time being.

HARRIS: Well, I asked you about Missouri because we want to take everyone back just a couple of -- Reynolds, appreciate it. Thank you.

WOLF: All right, guys.

HARRIS: And show you all some of the damage that this system has left in its wake. Take a look at this.

These are pictures from Kansas City, Missouri. Severe storms with hurricane-force winds, hail and heavy rain moved through the state this morning, damaging at least 200 homes and businesses. Some homes turned into piles of rubble, as you can see in this aerial view. Owners standing outside looking absolutely stunned.

The devastation also shocking to an affiliate reporter surveying the damage from his helicopter.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JOHNNY ROWLANDS, KMBC PILOT: This is pretty amazing from the air. As you can see, again, we talked about the National Weather Service trying to determine if these were straight-line winds or what. That is a north -- actually, from the south to the north.

Tilt down just a little bit for me there, Luke.

And you can see, there is the foundation of that house that was under construction. Nothing left on the foundation at all, pushed to the north. As we're circling overhead now, kind of looking to the east, you can see damage to the houses either side of that. And we'll pull back and show you the extensive damage to the house right behind that, as you will see down and to the left, which would be just to the north of that house.

Also, we'll pan now to the -- just go ahead and tilt up -- across the street, and you will see damage to...

HARRIS: OK. Johnny Rowlands there from KMBC. Thank you for that description.

Boy, the pictures sort of speak for themselves.

Fire officials report no serious injuries connected to all of that damage. But take a look at this, Fred. New pictures in to CNN from our affiliate CBS11TV.coms. This is Canton, Texas, and Reynolds was just talking about a storm system, and we're talking about a storm system covering about a thousand miles.

FREDRICKA WHITFIELD, CNN ANCHOR: Huge. It's remarkable.

HARRIS: From Illinois to Texas, the Ohio River Valley -- and again, this is Canton, Texas. And as you can see, this system moves through and leaves behind quite a bit of damage.

WHITFIELD: Yes, quite a damaging one. It's not one that's just, you know, knocking a few tiles off rooftops or downed power lines.

HARRIS: Yes. And we're not going to have -- no, we're not even going to have a debate of whether or not we are talking about a tornado here or straight-line winds. This is clearly just...

WHITFIELD: The real thing.

HARRIS: Yes, this is the real thing. And a lot of damage. You saw that vehicle. It looked like an SUV, severely damaged, obviously. And a couple of trees knocked down as well.

And as we continue to get these pictures, we are going to bring those to you as we continue to follow the path of this storm right here in the NEWSROOM.

And you can help us tell this story with your iReports. Just go to CNN.com and click on "iReport," or you can type ireport@cnn into your cell phone.

But in all of these cases, please, all due care. Be safe.

WHITFIELD: All right. Also, issue #1.

New this morning, a clearer view of the nation's economic health. Let's begin with a big shock on jobs, the backbone of the economy.

Employers last month cut fewer jobs than expected. April's unemployment drops to 5 percent. That's a slight improvement from March. That figure, 5.1 percent.

(STOCK MARKET REPORT)

HARRIS: Primary countdown. Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton in a national dead heat four days before big contests in North Carolina and Indiana.

A big weekend coming up. Let's check in now with Dan Lothian with the CNN Election Express in Indianapolis. And Dan, I mentioned a big weekend for both of these candidates. And it looks like they're going to be logging the miles between North Carolina and Indiana.

DAN LOTHIAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: That's right. Frequent flier miles going back and forth. They have been doing that now for quite some time. They will continue doing that into the weekend.

And as you mentioned, Tony, it really is a very, very tight race. According to registered Democrats on this new CNN/Opinion Research poll, Senator Obama is at 46 percent, Senator Clinton at 45 percent. You might remember in mid-March Senator Obama was ahead by seven points.

Now, both of the candidates continue to really focus on the issues. Senator Clinton is in North Carolina today, reaching out to those rural voters. But she's also talking about how difficult it has been lately for people to put gas in their cars.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. HILLARY RODHAM CLINTON (D-NY), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I was in South Bend, Indiana, the day before yesterday. The price of gas had gone up 20 cents overnight.

Now, I'm sorry, you can not explain to me that's supply and demand. There is manipulation of the market going on by these energy traders who are totally unregulated. They slipped through something unfortunately named the Enron loophole.

So we don't have any control or supervision over what they are doing. And it is a fact that they are manipulating the oil and gas markets.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

LOTHIAN: Senator Obama was here in Indiana this morning talking about the economy. He did reference the job reports numbers which were more encouraging than expected. But he said it still shows that a lot of Americans are still suffering. And he says in part, that is happening because Washington is not paying attention to Americans.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. BARACK OBAMA (D-IL), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I'm tired of seeing us lose so many jobs month after month, year after year. When I'm president, we'll stop giving tax breaks to companies that ship jobs overseas and start giving them to companies that create good paying jobs here at home. We'll focus on long-term job growth. Rather than put highway funding at risk, like my proponents are proposing, I've a plan to invest in our infrastructure and create millions of new jobs in the process.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

LOTHIAN: Now, Tony, we have been talking so much this week about the gas tax holiday, and that debate continues again today, because Senator Barack Obama is rolling out a new TV ad that will be on the air here in Indiana. And it will be critical of Senator Clinton's plan, which also Senator McCain has rolled out his plan on this summer gas tax holiday. And he will say in the ad that essentially this is just campaign tactics. Of course, Senator Clinton will point out that his opposition to the plan just shows that he is out of touch with working class Americans -- Tony.

HARRIS: Dan Lothian with the CNN Election Express over his right shoulder there in Indianapolis.

Dan, good to see you. Thank you.

And for Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama, every delegate counts. So let's take a look at what's at stake in Tuesday's primaries.

Indiana, 72 delegates up for grabs for the Democrats. It is the second largest delegate prize left in the presidential race. The biggest remaining prize, yes, North Carolina. Clinton and Obama are competing for 115 delegates there.

WHITFIELD: Republican John McCain wrapping up a weeklong focus on his health care plan next hour in Denver. He's also speaking out about the economy.

Dana Bash live from Washington with details on that -- Dana.

DANA BASH, CNN CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Hi, Fredricka.

Well, we're likely going to hear from Senator McCain himself, as you said, when he speaks in a short while from Colorado. But in the meantime, he has put out a written statement on what we have been talking about all morning, that new jobs report. And I'll read you part of it.

He said, "Today's jobs numbers are another clear indication of the economic challenges facing our country. With Americans hurting, we must act to strengthen our economy for families and small businesses."

Now, notice, Fredricka, what you hear in that statement obviously is a clear attempt at empathy. But what you don't hear is the fact that there was a bit of a silver lining in that report.

Yes, of course 20,000 Americans lost jobs in April, but it was nowhere near the 81,000 last month. And as we have been reporting, a lot better than some economists expected.

However, Senator McCain, a Republican, trying to take the spot of a Republican who is in the White House who is making Americans across the board not very happy with the direction of the country and particular there economy. He can't afford to mention any silver lining right now, because even people who, of course, have jobs are really tight with regard to how much money that they have to spend for food and fuel. But no surprise, Fredricka, he also took an opportunity to hit the Democrats with regard to their economic plans. I will read you part of that statement.

He said, "The wrong course for our country will be to follow Senators Obama and Clinton and their siren songs of higher taxes, bigger government, greater isolationism and a government-run health care system."

Now, the Democrats would argue that neither is proposing a government-run health care system, but regardless, what McCain is talking about is trying to really pose a contrast between the kinds of economic plans that he has and the Democrats. There is something, of course, that is similar that he is proposing and Senator Clinton is proposing. Dan Lothian was just mentioning it. That is the gas tax holiday.

You can expect Senator McCain to hit that again very hard today in Colorado, because he thinks that is his connection to people who don't really think that government really gets it. He says over and over again, all we have to do is give them a little break this summer so they can go to the movies, they can go on vacation, and that they can do things they want to do.

Whether or not that is pandering, as Barack Obama says, that's going to be the decision of the voters.

WHITFIELD: All right. Dana Bash in Washington.

Thank you.

HARRIS: A slow economy for some. While many states are struggling, one is actually thriving.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Right now, it's kind of fun to be here. You can go hunting, fishing.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

HARRIS: OK. From Wyoming's boom to California's bust.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

HARRIS: Reports this morning, a deal to compensate victims of last summer's Minneapolis bridge collapse. The $38 million deal worked out by Minnesota lawmakers overnight. An attorney for several victims says the deal would provide up to $400,000 for each victim. The attorney says there is also $12.6 million for the most seriously injured.

The Interstate 35W Bridge collapsed August 1st. Thirteen people were killed, 145 others were injured. Federal investigators suspect a design flaw and weight of construction equipment. WHITFIELD: Home building down. Jobs gone. Gas prices up. California feeling the weigh of a tarnished economy, but it's boom times in another western state.

Two reports. We begin with CNN's Chris Lawrence.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

CHRIS LAWRENCE, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice over): California once lured Americans to a land of opportunity, but the Golden State has lost some of its glow.

BETTY LARKIN, HOME FORECLOSED: It's just awful.

LAWRENCE: Betty Larkin is just one of more than 100,000 homeowners foreclosed on in the last few months alone.

LARKIN: People are saying something about a recession might come. To me, we are in one.

LAWRENCE: The mortgage collapse has eliminated 10 percent of California's construction jobs.

(on camera): We just saw the worst March for homebuilding here in California since the 1970s.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: That is the primary story here. Housing prices down 25 percent, building activity essentially wiped out. That's slowing (ph) through the consumer confidence and taxes.

LAWRENCE (voice over): Lower property taxes have contributed to a projected $20 billion budget deficit, forcing the state to send pink slips to tens of thousands of teachers.

GINNY ZEPPA, TEACHER: It's really sad, because it's not like I will be able to find a job anywhere else either. California -- cuts are everywhere.

LAWRENCE: And the open road offers no escape, with gas prices soaring past every other state in the country.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

ED LAVANDERA, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice over): I'm Ed Lavandera in Cheyenne, Wyoming, where a state that's used to a yo-yo economy is enjoying an upswing.

JOE MEYER, WYOMING STATE TREASURER: Once every 19 years we get rich. The next 10 years we're broke.

LAVANDERA: The state is profiting from the taxes on high energy prices. Coal mining and natural gas are the state's economic backbone. Unemployment is below the national averages, and companies can't find enough workers. MARION LOOMIS, WYOMING MINING ASSOCIATION: We have been going all over the country looking for qualified people to work in the mines. Mechanics, electricians, welders are in huge demand.

LAVANDERA: But to minimize the yo-yo effect, Wyoming now invests some energy tax revenue in stocks and fixed-income funds. The interest from that money now pays for about 25 percent of the state's budget.

(on camera): The Wyoming stay budget is $163 million ahead of where state officials expected it to be by this time of year. So while state lawmakers across the country are slashing budgets, here in Cheyenne they are writing checks.

(voice over): Schools are being built and remodeled. Highways are being upgraded. State treasurer Joe Meyer is smiling.

MEYER: Right now, it's kind of fun to be here. You can go hunting, fishing, too.

LAVANDERA: Just don't let these guys hear you say that.

Ed Lavandera, CNN, Cheyenne, Wyoming.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

WHITFIELD: And of course you want to keep watching CNN. Our money team has you covered. Whether it's jobs, debt, housing or savings, join us for a special report It's called "ISSUE #1: THE ECONOMY." All this week at noon Eastern, only on CNN.

HARRIS: A question for investigators. Is it a series of unconnected drownings or serial murder by a gang of psychopaths? Two former detectives have a theory.

It's ahead.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

WHITFIELD: All right. Part of Harvard University evacuated this morning due to an underground electrical fire. Smoke and flames shot out of several manholes in the Harvard Square area of the university's (INAUDIBLE) center, which includes the students health care center was evacuated. Traffic was also diverted and hundreds of people lost power.

No reports of injuries. University officials say classes were not disrupted.

HARRIS: An Ohio teenager home alone. Robbers break in.

Is this some story or what?

WHITFIELD: Yes, I like this story.

HARRIS: She hides and summons help with her fingers. Here's Brittany Westbrook of affiliate WBNS.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

BRITTANY WESTBROOK, REPORTER, WBNS (voice over): Lauren Durnbaugh was alone. Her mother was at work. And someone was turning the knob on the front door.

LAUREN DURNBAUGH, STOPPED HOME BURGLARY: And he opened it just a little bit and said, "Is anyone home?" And that's the point where I ran to my room.

WESTBROOK: She thought the closet is where they would look first. So Lauren went where many kids go when they're scared, under the covers.

DURNBAUGH: Grabbed my covers and jumped in like this. There were, like, times when they were so close to me that I couldn't breathe. I was scared. I didn't know what to do.

WESTBROOK: Call it a teenager's instinct, but at that moment she let her fingers do the talking in a text message to mom.

DURNBAUGH: It says, "Mommy, oh, my god. I'm scared. I think we are being robbed. I'm hiding. Help me."

MARGO ROBY, LAUREN'S MOTHER: I was scared to death. I thought, "Oh, my God, do they have her?"

WESTBROOK: Margo Roby called 911 and sped home, where she found this car, the thieves' car, still in the driveway. She rammed her car into theirs.

ROBY: And my instinct was to stop her. So I got out and that's when, again, you know, you have the white all over my jacket where I was pushed against the wall.

WESTBROOK: Seconds later, sheriff's deputies arrived and arrested the suspects. And finally she was able to get to her little girl.

ROBY: I'm amazed that she held on like that.

WESTBROOK: Under the covers until she knew she was safe.

DURNBAUGH: My mom yelled in here and said it was OK to come out. And I got up and I could barely even walk. I was so happy.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

HARRIS: Man.

OK. Those two home invaders being held on $100,000 bond.

WHITFIELD: All right, well, this -- a terrifying sight. Ferocious twisters cut across the plains. Amazing images in the NEWSROOM.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

HARRIS: Bottom of the hour on a Friday. Very busy Friday in the NEWSROOM. I'm Tony Harris.

WHITFIELD: And I'm Fredricka Whitfield.

(WEATHER REPORT)

HARRIS: So let's back up and look at what has already happened over the past, oh, 18 hours or so. Here's a scene in Kansas City, Missouri. Severe storms with hurricane-forced winds, hail and heavy rain moved through the state this morning, damaging at least 200 homes and businesses. Some homes turned into piles of rubble. Owners standing outside looking absolutely stunned. At least two suspected tornadoes ripped through parts of Oklahoma yesterday. A funnel cloud captured in this video. One suspected twister was believed to be 100 yards wide. We're talking about a football field here. Several homes and buildings were damaged. No reports of any injuries there. About 3,000 power outages are reported across the state.

And more rough weather to the north, in Kansas, deafening hail, the size of quarters, covering roads and yards. Winds of up to 70 miles an hour tore off roofs and knocked down power lines and trees. Of course, when the weather becomes the news, we want you, if you can, if you are in a position do so, send along the i-Report. Go to CNN.com and click on Ireport, or type ireport@cnn.com into your cell phone. But remember, be safe.

WHITFIELD: All right, certainly bad weather impacting a whole lot of folks, but this next item impacting ever from coast to coast. Do you feel like the credit card company has been taking to you the cleaners? Well, the feds say they wants to crack down. Federal regulators plan to tackle what they call unfair and deceptive practices in the credit industry. One goal, allowing you more time to pay credit card bills. The feds also wants to stop companies from bumping up interest rates on balances you've accumulated at lower interest rates. And sometime today the Federal Reserve board is expected to sign off on the plan.

Meantime, grocery store prices are climbing. Our guest wants you to save money. She is the author of "Greatest Secrets of the Coupon Mom." Stephanie Nelson is best known for her Web site as well, where a quarter-million members find grocery deals. Wow. Stephanie Nelson here with us now. This really does impact everybody.

Good to see you.

STEPHANIE NELSON, "THE COUPON MOM": Thanks for having me.

WHITFIELD: All right, one thing, the harsh reality is, grocery prices are going to continue to go up. It means all of us are being impacted. So does it also mean we have to condition ourselves to just say we can have certain things, we have to, you know, eliminate them from the grocery list because it's going to cost us money? NELSON: No. And that's the good news

WHITFIELD: I'm glad you're telling me that. I'm like, oh, man. We've got to do without our favorites?

NELSON: No, absolutely not. In fact, I call it strategic shopping, which is -- you know, it's not about changing the way you eat, it's just about changing the way you buy the food that you like. And one simple step is tracking the prices of the items that you buy. But only probably your top 10 common items.

WHITFIELD: So really reading all those inserts in the newspapers, that kind of thing to get an idea of what's going to be on sale?

NELSON: In the newspaper, right. Looking at the stores. You do want to plan your meals around what's on sale. And that's kind of the opposite of what most people do. But what you do is you see your common items. One for my family is boneless chicken. It's usually $5 a pound. I only buy it when it's half price, $2 a pound. I know it goes on sale every other week, because I just tracked 10 items.

WHITFIELD: And you're going to buy it in bulk and you're going to store it in the freezer?

NELSON: In the freezer. And that simple habit on one item saves my family $325 a year.

WHITFIELD: Can I be honest with you? You know, when I say I want to eat something, I want to go to the store and I just simply want to get it. And I don't want to be bogged down with cutting coupons and then trying to figure out a place to put them in a cabinet or in a drawer, because now you've to read the fine print, expiration. My goodness, this is no fun.

NELSON: Well, I think the key is you just want to hone in on your top items, a handful of items. You also want to go ahead and take advantage of store-savings programs. So let's suppose you have the item you like. 's is on sale at your store. That's what you have that weekend. You buy something for next week. You don't have to have a year's supply of anything.

And the other piece is people think it is hard to use coupons.

WHITFIELD: Yes. I tried it, and I've done the whole cutting. And then there are just so many reasons why I can use that coupon at that time.

NELSON: The old-fashioned way is hard. The Internet made it so easy. I mean, coupon...

WHITFIELD: Really? How?

NELSON: Couponmom.com takes the best sale items grocery stores across the country and 50 states. We match it up with coupons for you. So you don't have to figure that out. You only cut out the couple of coupons you need when you need it. And you can also print grocery coupons, which people love.

And coming up, pretty soon we're even going to have grocery coupons on our cell phones.

WHITFIELD: Oh, my gosh. Oh, God, this is killing me.

NELSON: I think you could do that.

WHITFIELD: I might be able to handle that, even though I still don't text message. But anyway, you do save thousands of dollars and this is why you're a huge proponent of all these cost-cutting measures.

NELSON: That's right, and I think I...

WHITFIELD: You're living proof.

NELSON: We save a couple thousand dollars a year on groceries. And we have 400,000 members of couponmom.com that tell me they're saving money, too. They must be. And it is a free service. I want to throw that out there.

WHITFIELD: That's even better, and that's the first saving, right?

NELSON: That's right. But I think the key is all you have to do is buy the newspaper and you follow the system I described to you where you only cut out what you need, and you print coupons, and you can pretty easily. It doesn't have to be that hard.

WHITFIELD: OK, you hooked and reeled me in. I think I'm on board now.

NELSON: Give it a try. I'll give you a free copy of my book.

WHITFIELD: I like it.

HARRIS: Hello!

NELSON: I brought two.

HARRIS: Sorry.

WHITFIELD: All right, Stephanie Nelson, Coupon Mom. I love that. Thanks so much. Good to meet you. I can wait to save some money with your help.

NELSON: Good luck. All right.

Of course, you want to keep watching CNN. Our money team has you covered whether it is jobs, debt, housing, savings. All of that. Join us for a special report. It is called "ISSUE #1," the economy, all this week, noon Eastern, only on CNN.

HARRIS: I would like to save on some food. It's a tough economy. That's issue No. 1. Measles on the rise. Why so many new cases? Our Dr. Sanjay Gupta making a house call.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(WEATHER REPORT)

WHITFIELD: We are always watching your health as well. The measles, eradicated, finally wiped out. The CDC told us that eight years ago. Well, not so fast. Sixty-four cases of measles popped up in the U.S. in the first four months of this year. A compelling argument for vaccinations? I discussed it earlier with chief medical correspondent -- I didn't actually, but Tony did, but I was listening to Dr. Sanjay Gupta.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

DR. SANJAY GUPTA, CNN CHIEF MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, you know, well, exactly as you said. We're starting to see some of the ramifications of people not getting vaccinated so exactly to your point. People will travel around the world. There are considered measles hot spots around the world, maybe surprising to some people, Switzerland, the UK, Israel, Italy. Those are place where the measles exist.

They'll go there. This is a very contagious thing, as you know, Tony, and they bring it back.

HARRIS: Absolutely.

GUPTA: Who's at risk? People who haven't been vaccinated, for the most part. In fact, the 64 you just mentioned, all but one of them hadn't received their vaccinations. Now to be fair, some of them are simply too young, which is why they haven't received it. Two of thirds of them hadn't received it because of personal belief exemptions.

Take a look at the map. Nine states now reporting measles. Eight years ago they said this thing was done. Twenty-three cases in New York state, 22 of them in New York City specifically. So you get a sense that it tends to occur in clusters. And again, some of the ramifications of people not getting vaccinated.

HARRIS: Well, Sanjay, let's -- maybe a measles 101 question here. How would a parent be able to tell if their child has the measles?

GUPTA: You know, if you ask that question 20, 30 years ago everyone would know the answer because there were millions of cases of measles.

HARRIS: Yes.

GUPTA: Now they are pretty rare. So it is worth going through again. It can start off very much looking like a cold. People may have runny nose, they may have fever, they may have the body aches. What is sort of tell-tale about this thing is the rash, as many people know.

We have pictures of that. Take a look. It sort of starts off on the face and then gradually makes its way down the trunk.

Poor kid.

HARRIS: Yes.

GUPTA: He just looks miserable. And people are miserable when they get this. But that's sort of a very tell-tale sort of thing. People are often very fatigued. They may have a lot of discomfort as a result of the rash itself. But that is what it looks like.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

WHITFIELD: I'm still just shaken by that miserable little kid looking that way. All right. Well, children usually get their measles shots between 12 and 15 months old. It's known as MMR -- measles, mumps, rubella. Well, to get your daily dose of health news online, logon to our Web site. You'll find the latest medical news, a health library and information on diet and fitness. The address, CNN.com/health.

HARRIS: Finally some relief at the pump. We will tell you where prices are right now and if there is more good news in the pipeline.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

HARRIS: Could crude drawings be the connection to a string of killings in 25 cities? Two former detectives think so.

Here's CNN's Erica Hill.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

ERICA HILL, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Mack Kruziki vanished from East Dubuque, Illinois, on Christmas Eve 2005. Three months later his body was found in the nearby Mississippi River. Police called the 24-year-old's death a drowning. But could he actually be the victim of a gang of serial killers?

BILL KRUZIKI, FATHER OF MATT KRUZIKI: Some of these cases the evidence is so compelling it just can't be coincidental.

HILL: That chilling theory comes from two former New York City police officers, convinced the drownings of at least 40 college students, including Kruziki, are connected. Their interest was piqued after looking into the 1997 death of Patrick McNeal in New York City, also a young college student, also apparently drowned.

The retired cops believe the young men were murdered by a band of psychopaths in a crime wave spanning 25 cities and 11 states. And they have a name for their suspects: The Smiley Face Killers, because of the crude graffiti like this found near some of the locations where the young men were found dead. And near one crime scene in Michigan - the word "Sinsinawa." Matt Kruziki, whose body was found in Illinois, was last seen in a bar on Sinsinawa Avenue.

While the former NYPD officers are convinced serial killers are responsible, many local police departments are not.

CHIEF ALAN MULKIN, CANTON, NEW YORK POLICE DEPARTMENT: As far as the New York City police detectives I just heard about, I don't know who they are. I don't know what they're looking at. I'm not aware of any of their evidence.

HILL: The FBI isn't buying the serial killer angle either, issuing this statement two days ago -- quote, "We have not developed any evidence to support links between these tragic deaths or any evidence substantiating the theory that these deaths are the work of a serial killer or killers. The vast majority of these instances appear to be alcohol-related drownings."

But for some families the similarities are too strong. And they fear the lives lost were, in fact, lives taken.

Erica Hill, CNN, New York.

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WHITFIELD: All right, and this information just in. CNN's confirming that President Bush has sent a $70 billion request to Congress to fund the U.S. operations Iraq and Afghanistan. And in total what this means is congressional analysts saying that Bush's request would now bring the total spending to fight terrorism and to conduct the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq now to $875 billion. We'll continue to flush out this story throughout the day here on CNN.

Meantime, the CNN NEWSROOM continues one hour from now. I'm Fredricka Whitfield.

HARRIS: And I'm Tony Harris. "ISSUE #1" coming up in just a moment.

But before we get there, a quick check of the big board. The Dow up 60 points. And the Nasdaq, we understand, down slightly or flat. "ISSUE #1" coming up after a check of the headlines.

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