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Gun Fight in Western Mexico Claims at Least 6; SUV Leasers Face Tough Time Downsizing; Severe Weather hits Northeastern U.S.

Aired May 27, 2008 - 14:00   ET


BRIANNA KEILAR, CNN ANCHOR: So many schools collapsed. Yet so many other buildings survived the quake in China. Heartbroken parents blame shoddy work and officials who turned a blind eye. We've got the stories.
T.J. HOLMES, CNN ANCHOR: Also, first rule of politics, you keep your friends close and president at the arm's length if he's polling in the 20s. Today, though, a rare joint appearance of John McCain and the man he hopes to succeed, we're live with those details.

Hello to you all. I'm T.J. Holmes at CNN World Headquarters in Atlanta, Georgia.

KEILAR: And I'm Brianna Keilar.

You're in the CNN NEWSROOM.

Severe weather again moving from the Plains to the East Coast. Let's check in now with meteorologist Chad Myers for the very latest on this. Chad?

CHAD MYERS, CNN METEOROLOGIST: Brianna, we just don't have the volatility today that we had over the weekend where we had EF-3s, 200 mile an hour tornadoes, we had fours and fives on the ground. This is a small little tornado, actually just a funnel cloud right now, and it wasn't that far from the St. Louis Airport. Here's a live shot from the radar here. It's kind of moving up towards Jennings and across the northern part of the city. It started out near the airport and now eventually will cross the river and get over into Illinois. But right now, just a funnel. No confirmation that it's on the ground.

Here's the shot from our tower cam KSDK here. You can only see the haze. You can't see anything in this picture. In fact, it actually pointing the wrong way. You'd have to turn this thing to the left 90 degrees to look up the river, rather than look over into Illinois as this thing is posted. But it is going to be a day where we're going to watch these small little storms. These are sometimes we'll call these cold air funnels, because there's a cold air aloft that suggests the air up. Not hot air at the ground that still wants to rise.

Well, you still have the same process, it's just not quite as volatile, doing it the cold air way, compared to the warm airway. We still have potential for something to be spinning out of the skies today. We'll watch it for you. I just don't think this is the volatility of the weekend. Other than that, we'll keep you advised as the day goes on.

Could be a couple -- look at the volatility this weekend. Here's from Oklahoma. I'm not sure what the order is here. But we'll just put them on up. These are storm chasers, you can begin to see what was a wall cloud off to the bottom right. That's the lowering of the cloud itself. And then somewhere in the middle of that mess was a tornado on the ground. The reason why it looked like such a mess, because there was so much debris in the air.

Before it got to be a mess, here's Aaron Anderson's shots. You can clearly see the tornado on the ground. Not quite what we call a wedge tornado, but that is what we call a wedge tornado right there. Really early similar to the pictures I showed you on Thursday of that storm up near Windsor in Colorado, north of Denver. That storm just looks like this, and the entire middle part of that wedge tornado, completely on the ground, guys.

KEILAR: Definitely is similar. Let's hope it's not as volatile today.

MYERS: It won't be today.

KEILAR: As it was over the weekend as you suggested.

Chad, we'll be checking in with you. Thanks.

MYERS: You're welcome.

HOLMES: Young children abused by aid workers and U.N. peacekeepers in some of the bleakest places on earth? That's the allegation in a new report by the group Save the Children.

CNN's Richard Roth is at the U.N. with the latest on this for us.

Richard, some of these day tails are just unbelievable to hear. These people are seemingly preying on those they're there to help.

RICHARD ROTH, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, it is not the fist time, though, the issue of United Nations peacekeepers and some suspected of sexually abusing children as young as six years old in many cases in exchange for badly need food, this has been going on. And there have been numerous reports, the U.N. tries to get a hold of this, but the system is broken, you might say.

The United Nations doesn't have its own army. It receives peacekeepers from different member countries of the U.N. And as officials said today, they rotate in and out every six months, few weeks. Staff members go, peacekeepers go. Because of recent disclosures in African countries of these similar types of abuses, the U.N. instituted a so-called zero tolerance policy regarding sexual exploitation in the field. But apparently nothing is still ironclad in this regard.

The assistant secretary general for peacekeeping, Jane Holl Lute, telling the news reporters here within the hour that the issue of sexual abuse still remains a top priority for the organization. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JANE HOLL LUTE, U.N. ASSISTANT SECRETARY-GENERAL: The measure of our success will not be the number of heads that roll, but will be the reduction overall in the incidents of this kind of behavior. We need to change cultures and we've been working on that for the past several years and we're going to need to continue to work on it.


ROTH: The U.N. was praised in this report by Save the Children U.K. as trying to do the best it can, but Secretary-General Ban Ki- Moon says he is very distressed by what's been reported -- T.J.

HOLMES: And like you said, unfortunately, this is nothing really new. Hopefully they can get a handle on it.

Richard Roth for us at the U.N. Thank you so much.

KEILAR: More concerns for the White House today about Iran's nuclear ambitions, because a new report by the nuclear watch dog agency says Iran is still withholding critical information. That word as President Bush heads to Arizona for a fund-raiser tonight with John McCain.

And CNN White House correspondent, Elaine Quijano, joining us now for more details on this -- Elaine.


Well, in the face of that report by the International Atomic Energy Agency, the White House reacting as you might expect essentially saying that this is more evidence that the world community needs to really take note of Iran's ambitions. Now the report details some recent meetings with Iranian officials who deny conducting weapons research, and the report makes clear that the agency has not yet received straightforward answers when it comes to its questions about testing and missile design work.

Now, of course, Iran, a country awash in oil, has long maintained that its nuclear program is for peaceful civilian purposes only. The Bush administration of course continues to express skepticism about that.


SEAN MCCORMACK, STATE DEPARTMENT SPOKESMAN: Thus far the Iranians have been willfully not cooperative. And you can read that in the report. It's disturbing. And we'll see what diplomatic connects that will flow from this.


QUIJANO: Now just a short time ago aboard Air Force One, White House secretary Dana Perino told reporter that's the IAEA report, rather, confirms the need for the international community to take note. And Brianna, we should mention that the man President Bush is going to be meeting later tonight at a closed fund-raiser in Arizona also putting the issue of nuclear proliferation front and center in his speech today -- Brianna.

KEILAR: He also, President Bush, he landed in New Mexico just moments ago, this is for a fundraiser with congressional candidate Darren White.

What can you tell us about this?

QUIJANO: It's interesting. The real story here is the fund- raisers the president is going to be attending over the next couple of days for Senator John McCain. Interesting, because even though there will be three fund-raisers, Senator McCain will be at the first one, later tonight in phoenix, we won't actually see pictures of the two men together at that event. Why in certainly politics playing into the situation here.

The political reality is that while President Bush does remain highly popular among those core GOP voters that Senator McCain needs, both politically and financially, the overall approval rating right now as it stands according to a recent poll for President Bush is 28 percent.

So the McCain campaign really trying to sort of keep its distance on the one hand, so as not to provide Democrats with fodder for the general election. While at the same time of course hoping to tap into that network of support, as President Bush is again still very popular among core GOP voters - Brianna.

KEILAR: Elaine Quijano for us at the White House. Thanks.

HOLMES: Rising lakes prompt mass evacuations in southwest China. Aftershocks bringing down more buildings. The death toll from the May 12 quake now topping 67,000. And grieving parents are lashing out.

CNN's Wilf Dinnick reports. They want someone held accountable for the deaths of so many children.


WILF DINNICK, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Xenron Shiong (ph) wants answers. Why her 10-year-old, Lea Wenbo (ph) died with 128 other children in the town of Wufu. The three-story primary school collapsed. The only building in this town to fall. "We always thought something was wrong," she says. "Because our children were told never jump up and down in school. The building was too weak."

A banner in town reads, "The children did not die in the disaster, but in bad buildings." Parents refuse to leave the school grounds without answers. Asking to see the school's building permits. But they say they're being ignored. Some accuse local governments of cutting corners on construction to save money.

For China, such outspoken criticism is rare. But these people are furious. When officials moved in to clean up the rubble of the school -- parents tried to stop them. Fearing any investigation could be ruined.

(on camera): This is an official government notice with the promise to investigate. But exactly who will be doing the investigating? How will it be done? And will anybody be held accountable for this? There are just no clear answers.

(voice-over): "There are building standards in China," says Lee Jakew (ph), an architect, "but often the poorer areas cannot meet them." He says more government money is need.

Each family receives about $720 from the government for every child killed. It's about a year's wage here. "This is my only child. I raised for 10 years," says this father. No amount of money will do. He wants someone held accountable.

The families vow to protest in Beijing if they do not get answers soon. We followed Zen (ph) back to her village. She has little left. Her home, destroyed in the quake. Lea Wenbo (ph) was her only child. "I said good-bye one morning to my daughter, and that night I brought back a body." Now buried near her home next to her grandmother. "Without answers," she says, "it is hard to let go."

Wilf Dinnick, CNN, Wufu Village, China.


KEILAR: Turning our attention now to Myanmar. Aung Sung Suu Kyi will not be able to come and go as she pleases, rather, for at least another six months. The editor of an exile newspaper says Myanmar's military rulers are keeping her under house arrest. The Nobel Peace Prize winner has come to symbol lies the pro-democracy movement in Myanmar. She's been confined to her home for 12 of the past 18 years.

For Myanmar's cyclone victims, there is more aid. U.S. cargo planes packed with supplies are landing in the hard-hit delta region, and so are international aid workers. They've been blocked for more than three weeks by the country's military leaders.

HOLMES: A jumbo jet torn in half during a botched takeoff in Belgium. What caused this thing to break apart? We're looking for answers. Also ...


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It humanizes you more. When people see you in a cruiser, they seep the cruiser and they kind of shy away from you. When I get out in the neighborhood and talk to the neighbors, I can find out what's going on.


KEILAR: From the greens to the streets. Cops in an Ohio town ditch their cruisers for carts. We'll tell you why.


KEILAR: Hurricane season starts Sunday, and it could be a busy one. Government forecasters expect as many as 16 named storms, some turning into major hurricanes. After two relatively quiet seasons, the feds fear millions of people could be caught off guard, but along the Gulf Coast, work is underway to help curb the power of a hurricane and repair our planet in peril.

More now from CNN's Miles O'Brien.


MILES O'BRIEN, CNN CHIEF TECHNOLOGY & ENVIRONMENT CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): In the swamps of Louisiana, the water is murky, and filled with menacing eyes. But folks here aren't afraid of that. No, what they fear most is that by the time he grows up, it will all be gone.

TOM BILLIOT, WESTWEGO SWAMP ADVENTURES: Some of this swamp here is 3,000 years old. You go back that far, this is what it looked like.

O'BRIEN: In the past 20 years, Captain Tom Billiot figures he's given 10,000 tours of the swamp just south of New Orleans. Is he anything but a silent witness of the destruction.

BILLIOT: Now the Gulf of Mexico is having its way with us. And it ain't nothing nice.

O'BRIEN: The swamp is nature's flood protection. And the human effort to tame the Mississippi River is at odds with that natural defense. In the 80 years since they hemmed in the Mississippi with levees, Louisiana has lost enough marshland to cover the state of Delaware. The problem? The swamp needs a steady flow of sediment water to stay healthy. Levees funnel the Mississippi straight into the Gulf, bypassing the Delta.

JON PORTHOUSE, COASTAL SCIENTIST: We've got to find a way to sustain that marsh by putting the river back in there, getting the sediments and nutrients back into the floodplain where it used to be.

O'BRIEN: We dropped in on one effort to do just that. These barrier islands are about 100 miles southwest of New Orleans.

BRAD MILLER, LOUISIANA DEPARTMENT OF NATURAL RESOURCES: Back in 1974, a hurricane put a breech in this island and cut it in half.

O'BRIEN: And now they're trying to put it back together in again pumping in sand from the bottom of the Gulf.

MILLER: These islands are very important because they offer a buffer for hurricanes. They're more or less a speed bump. When a storm comes in off the Gulf, and comes in, these islands help slow it down.

O'BRIEN: There are hundreds of islands like this that need repair. Spending the billions to fix them is part of the state's master plan to bring the Delta back to life. And so is this. This is one of 10 places where the Mississippi is diverted outside the levees and into nearby marshland.

CHUCH VILLARUBIA, LOUISIANA DEPARTMENT OF NATURAL RESOURCES: The marsh was degrading. Now we're seeing the marsh start to come back. This diversion helps by helping the marsh grow faster.

O'BRIEN: The state would like to double the number of these diversions, but sending all that water out of the channels might leave them too shallow for the big ships that ply this vital port. It means people here are going to face some tough choices to preserve their way of life.

BILLIOT: To consolidate the authority. If any of us is going to keep any of it, we've got to all work together. You've got to give something to get back.

O'BRIEN: And that means giving back to nature. After years of trying to use brute force to control this mighty river, the experts now say they have no choice but to go with the flow.

Miles O'Brien, CNN, Westwego, Louisiana.


HOLMES: All right. I know you've got jokes, yes. He's not rolling in his patrol cart. That's a golf cart. They're trying to save maybe on a little gas right about now? But they're not going to catch too many people in those things, I don't believe. Yes, Ohio deputies, we're going to go for a ride-along next.


HOLMES: All right. Want to head back to Chad Myers now.

What's this mess they have on their hands now in Missouri?

MYERS: We were just talking about St. Louis having that funnel cloud over the top of your city, now we're talking about a town kind of west of St. Louis called Innsbrook. Innsbrook is a little community there, kind of a golfing community. There you see it on the map. Just out of I-70 and a little farther to the west of there. There's also a couple of lakes. With all this heavy rainfall that they have been having across Missouri, a very large dam right there, the Alpine Dam where the Alpine Lake is leaking and is feared to actually have possibly have a fail here today.

So authorities are looking at this dam and trying to figure out whether it is going to fail. If it does, it's about 35 feet high, which means the water behind it would be about that high as it rushes out of the dam. If it does continue to fail, I certainly want to be that house or the farmhouse down the creek. This is Sherrod Creek Road (ph) and as you get farther and farther south, it does become more populated. But you can see it is a farming community. But with a 35-foot wall of water coming out of that damn I'm sure they're evacuating people and doing it as a rapid rate here at this Innsbrook area, Warren County, Missouri, about 60 or so miles west of St. Louis proper. We'll keep you advised. We just had the weather service department on it and the sheriff's department on it now, we know a couple people are being evacuated.

Mandatory evacuations obviously below that dam. But other than that, right now that's all we know.

HOLMES: All right, Chad, we appreciate you making our viewers know. We are making our calls and checking in to get somebody on the phone to explain what's happening there.

But, Chad, we appreciate you keeping an eye on it.

MYERS: You bet.

KEILAR: In business news, some good news, new home sales posted a surprising gain, but that does not mean that we are out of the woods. Stephanie Elam is at the New York Stock Exchange to explain what's going on there.

Hi, Stephanie.


Once again, we've got to really read the fine print on this one. The headline, it sounds great, new home sales unexpectedly up in April, that's compared to the month before. But if you get into it, sales are actually still near historic lows. In fact, new home sales are nearly 40% lower than last spring. Meanwhile, the median home price of a new home sold in April, it edged slightly higher, but analyst point out that most builders are slashing prices, paying foreclosing costs or offering other incentives to close the sale.

Now separately the housing and credit crises helped to knock down consumer confidence for the fifth month in a row. Even worse, economists don't expect it to turn around since high gas prices and worries about jobs are major concerns for so many Americans.

But as far as the market is concerned here on Wall Street, we're actually moving into the green. Let's take a look. The Dow Industrials up 30 points, 12,510 right now, so up about a quarter of a percent. The NASDAQ better by 21 points at 2,466, Brianna.

KEILAR: But let's talk about the housing market. It being so depressed, obviously it creates a buying opportunity for some people. I know I just recently became a first-time homeowner, so I know at least in my case it did.

ELAM: That's definitely true for some people. There's also the flip side where it's taking people months to sell their home. But of course, if you can go out and find a loan, of course it's easy to get into a house. That's the big issue for so many people. For many would be home owners, tighter standards in lending are the problem. But there are still some opportunities out there like you found.

But the housing sales, they're generally weak and some foreclosure-ridden sale areas are beginning to see sales growth, although this is the situation, Brianna.

KEILAR: Definitely a lot less loan options. I did find that.

Stephanie Elam for us at the NYSE -- thanks.

HOLMES: Congratulations on your new home.

KEILAR: Oh, thank you.

HOLMES: Imagine the gas bill. If you've seen the show "CSI Miami," some of the cops actually drive around chasing the bad guys in Hummers, H2, specifically. Not very cost efficient. But in real life, the police departments are feeling the pinch like the rest of us, and that has led a sheriff in Ohio to downsize his fleet in a major way.

We get the story now from Andy Hirsch of CNN affiliate WBNS.


ANDY HIRSCH, WBNS CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): In the Village of Bremen, you know when the sheriff's in town. But if something looks out of place, it's because deputies patrol these streets in a golf cart.

SGT. FORREST CASSEL, FAIRFIELD CO., OH SHERIFF'S OFFICE: These are changing times. The gas prices are going to go up and departments need to find other ways to patrol the areas.

HIRSCH: Sergeant Cassel tells 10 TV says they tested the card out late last year, then brought it back to fight the high prices at the pump.

CASSEL: You can't compare the cost to fill this up to a cruiser.

HIRSCH: The cart has caught the attention of some who live here.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It seems funny to see a policeman driving a golf cart.

HIRSCH: But deputies say they can use it no matter what the situation.

CASSEL: I have everything I need to go on any call.

HIRSCH: Sergeant Cassel calls it the perfect fit of this town of about 1,200 people. Aside from saving gas, he finds it's improving the relationship between the sheriff's office and the community.

CASSEL: It humanizes you more. Because when people see you in a cruiser, they see the cruiser and they kind of shy away from you. When I get out in the neighborhood and talk to the neighbors, I can find out what's going on.

HIRSCH: And Cassel calls that something you can't beat at any price.

In Bremen, 10 TV News, Andy Hirsch.


KEILAR: But it makes you wonder, does he have a place -- most golf carts, have you a place to put your golf balls. But what if he has to arrest someone, where does he put them?

HOLMES: And the other obvious question, how are you going to win that police chase? Who's going to stop for them?

KEILAR: Is there a K-9 unit golf cart?

HOLMES: There are so many questions here that need to be answered. We should get them on the phone.

KEILAR: We need to know.

All right. Well, this next story, you have to see it to believe it, a 747 jet broken in half. The big question here, of course, what could have caused this and what does it mean for the entire fleet? We'll be talking to experts.


HOLMES: Hello, everyone. I'm T.J. Holmes sitting in today for Don Lemon, live at the CNN World Headquarters in Atlanta, Georgia.

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

You're in the CNN NEWSROOM.

It is half past the hour, and here are three of the that stories we're working on here in the CNN NEWSROOM.

The U.N. Nuclear Agency says it's not getting what it needs from Iran. In a new report, the agency says Tehran is still holding back key information on its nuclear program. Iran says it is cooperating.

Day three of a hostage drama unfolding on the open seas. A Dutch shipping company says it's been in contact with the Somali pirates who hijacked one of its ships in the Gulf of Aden on Sunday. The company says the nine crew members apparently haven't been harmed. No word though on the pirates' demands.

An anti-war protesters -- they interrupted John McCain four times today as he gave a speech on nuclear security in Denver. But the rest of the crowd rallied to back the presumptive GOP nominee. They chanted McCain's name as the hecklers chanted "endless war."

HOLMES: Aid workers and U.N. peacekeepers. You can find them in the most desolate, desperate places on earth, protecting some of the most vulnerable people. But a new report by the aid group Save the Children says some of the would-be protectors are predators -- sexual predators.

CNN's Paula Hancocks reports kids as young as six are being abused.


PAULA HANCOCKS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Their traumatized and vulnerable. Children living in a conflict zone are often totally dependent on aid agencies and peacekeepers. But a tiny number of those who should be helping, are abusing.

JUSTINE WHITBREAD, CEO, SAVE THE CHILDREN: Wherever you've got a situation of crisis, you've got local communities utterly powerless, dependent on outsiders for food, protection, that's where you're going to have the risk of a tiny proportion of perpetrators carrying out this abuse.

HANCOCKS: Save the Children spoke to hundreds of children in Ivory Coast, southern Sudan and Haiti. Their findings are disturbing.

They say children as young as six have been forced to have sex with aid workers or peacekeepers in return for food and money. Others talk of rape and trafficking of children for sex. It's anyone's guess how many victims are still suffering in silence.

WHITBREAD: In order to stop the underreporting, to give children and their families the confidence to come forward and report when there has been an abuse, we need a global watch dog and local safe mechanisms at the country level where children and their families can come forward and safely report the cases without fear of reprisal.

HANCOCKS: Other charities and the United Nations are supporting the call for a global watch dog, aware that with a work force of hundreds of thousands, there are always be a tiny number willing to abuse their power.

The abuse is shocking, but not new. The United Nations has been dogged by this problem since the early 1990s, when a number of U.N. peacekeepers in Cambodia were charged with sexually abusing girls. Similar cases emerged in Congo in recent years.

The hope now is if all major aid agencies and the United Nations join in vetting volunteers and peacekeepers, the world's most vulnerable will be safer from abuse.

Paula Hancocks, CNN, London.


KEILAR: In southwest China, 160,000 earthquake victims are scrambling to higher ground. That's because they live in more than 30 villages that are down stream from a giant lake that was formed when the quake dammed up a river two weeks ago. The water now rising by the hour. And elsewhere in the quake zone, two aftershocks reportedly have brought down more than 420,000 homes. The official Chinese news agency reports 63 people are hurt, and the death toll from the May 12 quake is now at more than 67,000.

HOLMES: Aung San Suu Kyi won't be able to come and go as she pleases for at least another six months. The editor of an exile newspaper says Myanmar's military rulers are keeping her under house arrest. The Nobel Peace Prize winner has come to symbolized the pro- democracy movement in Myanmar. She's been confined to her home for 12 of the past 18 years.

And for Myanmar cyclone victims, more aid. U.S. cargo planes packed with supplies are landing in the hard hit delta region, and so are international aid workers. They had been blocked for more than three weeks by the country's military leaders.

And many of you out there, we know, want to help. And can help you along. We have a special page on the devastation in Myanmar, complete with links to aid agencies that are organizing help for that region. It's your chance to impact your world. Let us be your guide.

KEILAR: Severe weather is again a possibility from the plains to the East coast. Let's go now to meteorologist Chad Myers.

Are we seeing anything, Chad?

MYERS: Well, we're seeing actually one dam in danger, an earthen dam west of St. Louis in Warren County, actually really the town of Innsbrook, Missouri. Let's go to our Google Earth and I can zoom in to you, show -- it's about 60 or so miles west of Missouri itself, of St. Louis and that will help.

There you go. There's Innsbrook, there's St. Louis downtown. And as we move in you'll notice a few lakes. Innsbrook a quiet little community, golf courses around, beautiful little lakes area. But this lake right there, held back by that 35 foot dam, in danger this afternoon of actually leaking. It is leaking and then that water would move downhill, certainly downhill -- 35 foot dam would put a wall of water down into Sherrod Valley (ph), down across Sherrod Valley Road (ph).

Now, not a lot of people living in this valley, but we still obviously have homes and some businesses down here. And that could really make more trouble for the people there, like they need something else -- a failing dam. That's the Alpine (ph) Dam.

And there is the storm that was in St. Louis earlier today. It has now clearly moved away from St. Louis and that tornado warning we had has been canceled.

But now we'll move you back up to New York City. There's Bridgeport -- Springfield, Massachusetts, and Boston, too. And that big orange box or yellow box, that is a severe thunderstorm watch, one step down from a tornado watch, but we are seeing big storms making some small hail there across the tri-state.

Back to you.

KEILAR: All right, Chad. Thanks very much.

Well President Bush and John McCain. It's a rare joint appearance tonight, but cameras are being kept away. We're going to look at the strategy behind that.


KEILAR: I know that it sounds like a scene out of on old Western, but this is real. At least six people are dead in western Mexico, after a gun fight between federal police and a suspected hit man, apparently linked to a drug cartel.

Our Harris Whitbeck is on the phone (AUDIO GAP)

VOICE OF HARRIS WHITBECK, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Brianna, CNN has confirmed that five federal police officers and one civilian are dead after federal police attempted to enter a house in the city of Culiacan, in the northern state of Sinaloa, which is the drug heartland in Mexico.

They were trying to enter that house to search it for weapons and drugs, when apparently they were fired upon and a grenade was thrown at them. Now, this situation is very, very similar to what federal police in Culiacan are going through every day, as they are part of a force, sent by president Felipe Calderon, to that area to try to fight drug lords who operate out of there.


WHITBECK (voice-over): This is Culiacan. The hot, dusty capital of the state of Sinaloa. The front line in a war between Mexico's police and one of the country's most powerful drug cartels.

Much of the cocaine on its ways from Columbia to the United States, comes through here. Which is why president Calderon sent some 2,000 federal police and troops to Culiacan. We follow the police as they raid a house.

(on camera): In this case, police found high-powered rifles, they found communication equipments, they found munitions. They even found what they say is base (ph), which is used to make methamphetamines, which are then sold on the streets. But this is really just a very, very small find compared to the huge amount of drugs and safe houses that are in Sinaloa's state.

(voice-over): Law enforcement officials here say at least 300 tons of cocaine are sent through Mexico to the United States every year. And Mexico has become the largest foreign supplier of the highly addictive crystal meth, to the U.S. The campaign against the cartels has met a vicious response. More than 1,000 people killed in drug-related violence since the beginning of the year. Mexicans were shocked by the brazen murder in early May, of the top federal police chief in Mexico City. And here in Culican, four police officers were killed in an ambush, earlier this month. Analysts say the violence shows that using just brute force against the cartels isn't working.

SAMUEL GONZALEZ, FMR. CHIEF, MEXICO FEDERAL DRUG UNIT: If you try them, like the government is doing right now, but you do not take their criminal enterprises, all of the money that they have will be used against the government in more violence, more corruption in trying to get their people out of jail.

WHITBECK: Among the most corrupt, local police in the northern border states. Some on drug lord's payrolls. Others, coerced into protecting them, or passing along strategic information on the movements of federal security forces. How many local police?

A Senior U.s. Counter Narcotics Official, who I can't identify for security reasons, told me, "a significant amount that is unacceptable on anyone's terms, including the government of Mexico's."

The U.S. Counter Narcotics Official told us the drug war will be a muddy, bloody, uphill climb.

The police commander has a slightly more optimistic outlook. I feel we're making progress, he says. Before adding, let's see how long it lasts.


WHITBECK: And the shooting that we're just reporting now, Brianna, seems to prove that U.S. Counter Narcotics Official's point when he said, that the drug war in Mexico will get bloodier, before it gets better.

KEILAR: Harris Whitbeck, for us in Mexico City.

Thanks, Harris.

HOLMES: Barack Obama's top campaign aide says victory may be only a week away. Well victory for the Democratic nomination, at least. And that is leading our political ticker. David Axelrod, says his boss should be home free after next week's final primaries. CNN estimates Obama is 52 delegates short of the 2,026 needed. Eighty-six pledged delegates are at stake in Montana, South Dakota and Puerto Rico. More than 200 superdelegates are still on the fence.

Well, John McCain wants to take a trip with Senator Barack Obama. To Iraq. The Republican nominee in waiting says his Democratic rival hasn't been to Iraq since '06 and McCain says Obama, "has no experience or knowledge or judgment about the issue of Iraq." The Obama campaign calls the offer posturing.

And in Puerto Rico,a raucous rally for Hillary Clinton. The New York Senator drew a big crowd at yesterday's union event in Ponce. This is six days before the island's Democratic primary. Puerto Rico can help choose nominees, but they cannot vote in the general election. Clinton has events this evening in Montana, whose Democratic primary is a week from today.

KEILAR: President Bush is heading to Arizona today, for a rare appearance with the Republican who wants to succeed him. And when I say appearance, I mean, don't expect to see it unless you are invited.

CNN's Ed Henry, has more on the candidate and the hugely unpopular incumbent.


ED HENRY, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Two months after President Bush tap danced at the White House, waiting for John McCain to show up for his endorsement, there will also be some fancy foot work this week, as the duo embarks on their first joint fundraiser.

While the event was initially planned to be open to cameras at the Phoenix Convention Center, it's been moved to a private residence and is now closed to the media. So there will only be brief pictures of McCain and the president on airport tarmac.

MARK PRESTON, CNN POLITICAL EDITOR: If John McCain is to win in November, it's not going to be on a Bush coattail.

HENRY: Democrats already used chummy photos for ads charging a McCain victory will amount to a third Bush term.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Is John McCain the right choice for America's future?

HENRY: A McCain aide acknowledged the Arizona event was originally supposed to be open. But chalked up any confusion to the campaign still working out the kinks on its first event with the president. The McCain aide said the senator is absolutely not trying to minimize public photos with Mr. Bush, and the White House agrees.

DANA PERINO, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: The McCain campaign has a practice of having their fundraisers as closed-press.

HENRY: Closing the fundraiser gives McCain the best of both worlds. A candidate trailing the Democrats in the money chase, gets help from the fundraiser-in-chief. Without getting too close to a president whose disapproval rating reached 71 percent in the latest CNN poll.

The "Phoenix Business Journal" reported the event was moved to a private home because tickets were not selling well. So McCain was worried about not filling up the convention center. A McCain aide told CNN that report is, "not based in fact." But the campaign is refusing to release how much money they're expecting to raise.

(on camera): On Tuesday night we're not expecting to see the first picture of the president and Senator McCain together until after the fundraiser. That just so happens to also be after the nightly newscasts.

Ed Henry, CNN, the White House.


KEILAR: And all of the latest campaign news is available at your fingertips, visit We also have analysis from the best political team on television. Again, that's

HOLMES: And take a look at this. A 747 jet broken in half. What could have caused this and what does this mean for the fleets? We're talking to experts.


HOLMES: Get a load of this video. This is in Brussels, Belgium. That's a jumbo jet you're looking at that split in two. A lot of people are asking, how in the world could this happen?

CNN's Brian Todd looking for those answers.


BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Split wide open above the wings, also cracked near the tail. A Boeing 747 sits well off a runway at Brussels Airport, giving few outward clues as to what caused it to break apart.

This section, and most of the aircraft, fortunately carried only cargo.

JAN VAN DER CRUYSSE, BRUSSELS AIRPORT SPOKESMAN: There were five people on board, five crew members. None of them were badly hurt.

TODD: The accident Sunday resulted from an aborted take off. What is not clear, whether this jet was ever air borne. Former NTSB Vice Chairman, Bob Francis, lead investigator in the TWA flight 800 explosion says investigators will be looking at that, and the terrain.

BOB FRANCIS, FMR. NTSB VICE CHAIRMAN: If this is some kind of a banking or a berm here, then it may be that it started to -- if he rejected the take off and was still on the ground, he may have come along -- started to come up on this and the nose broke off and that would also explain what -- the way that the tail broke.

Now if he was air borne, did the airplane stall? Did he try to put it down too hard?

TODD: A source at Kalitta Air, the Michigan based cargo carrier which owns the plane, would not confirm or deny several news reports saying there was a car on board, among other items belonging to U.S. diplomats.

(on camera): Could the automobile's presence on board that plane have caused this at all? With the shifting weight? FRANCIS: I think very unlikely. What is -- what does a car weight? Two to three thousand pounds, out of 76,000? It doesn't -- it's not any more likely to cause something than any other heavy piece of equipment or cargo that has not been properly stowed.

TODD (voice-over): Francis says an unsecured crate would have been just as likely to cause a shift in weight that might have prompted an aborted take off.

A source at Kalitta Air tells CNN the aircraft was carrying roughly 76 tons of cargo; says the plane was not over loaded, and told us the length of the runway at Brussels was 9,800 feet.

Bob Francis says none of that is cause for concern at the moment, and that a 10,000 foot runway is plenty long enough for a plane carrying that cargo. The problem, he says, is the embankment. How steep was it? How hard did the plane hit it, and with what kind of momentum?

Brian Todd, CNN, Washington.


KEILAR: Wounded U.S. soldiers are taking part in a history making experiment. It's designed to regrow missing body parts. We'll have more on this advancement in medical science ahead in the NEWSROOM.


KEILAR: Maybe you're feeling a little stuck with your SUV right now, because I know that hauling a few kids and a ton of groceries all over town doesn't sound quite so appealing when gas is costing you four bucks a gallon. But you know, as hard as it is right now to sell or trade in a guzzler, just try getting out of a lease.

CNN's Chris Lawrence reports it can be done, but don't expect your dealer to show you how.


CHRIS LAWRENCE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Gas wasn't a big deal two years ago, when this real estate agent leased her SUV.

MARISELA MONTOYA, LEASING AN SUV: It was a little bit over $2 per gallon. Now I'm paying almost double it.

LAWRENCE: First came the housing crash, which wiped out a lot of her business. Then, fuel costs cut into what little she had left.

(on camera): Do you just feel stuck with a truck you can't afford?

MONTOYA: Yes. It is very frustrating. I can't afford the $500 payment on top of the $200 or $300 gas payment. LAWRENCE (voice-over): To break the lease, Marisela Montoya would have to fork over up to $5,000. And thousands of people are in the same boat.

JOHN STERNAL, LEASETRADER.COM: We've tracked about a 24 percent increase in customers now looking to downsize their vehicles.

LAWRENCE: is seeing a surge of SUV lease holders looking for a way out. Sites like this charge a few hundred dollars and match them with people who want to take over the payments for however long is left on the lease.

Some are pretty attractive, like a year and a half left on a Pathfinder for under 300 bucks. Others may have a hard time finding a suitor.

Who wants to spend nearly three years with this Escalade, at more than $1,100 a month.

STERNAL: There are a few people that -- their vehicles just aren't as marketable as the next person.

LAWRENCE: With her job, Montoya can't even cut back on how much she drives.

MONTOYA: I have to take my clients every -- all over southern California to look for property.

LAWRENCE: But after we first spoke with her, Montoya's leasetrader listing got a last minute break through. With 10 months left on her lease, she finally found a taker, and will be free to find that small car she needs.

Chris Lawrence, CNN, Los Angeles.


HOLMES: Brutalized by war, restored by cutting edge science. It's not a routine, but it's not science fiction either. It's regenerative medicine, and our Barbara Starr has the incredible details this hour.

MYERS: And I'm meteorologist Chad Myers.

Severe weather popping up in the northeast, Boston down to New York City. Storms just popping up to your west now -- New York City, and into the city of Boston. All this weather coming up this afternoon. It's going to be a little bit rough and bumpy. We'll be here for you.

KEILAR: Hi there, I'm Brianna Keilar at CNN Center in Atlanta.

HOLMES: And hello, everyone. I'm T.J. Holmes and you are in the CNN NEWSROOM.