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CNN NEWSROOM

Massive Flooding Continues in Midwest; Helping Stretch Your Gas Dollar; Discovery Headed Home

Aired June 14, 2008 - 11:00   ET

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


BETTY NGUYEN, CNN ANCHOR: You are in the CNN NEWSROOM where the news is unfolding live on this Saturday, the 14th day of June. Hello everybody, I'm Betty Nguyen.
T.J. HOLMES, CNN ANCHOR: And I'm T.J. Holmes. We've got water all over the place in Iowa. Now what?

NGUYEN: Let me ask you this, do you put premium gas in your car? Maybe you don't have to. We're going to look at some gas myths and maybe we'll save you a little cash today.

HOLMES: And also in just a few minutes, "Discovery". It's going to be coming on home. You are in the CNN NEWSROOM.

Well, Des Moines, Iowa lost its battle with rising waters this morning. The Des Moines River broke through a 100-foot wide section of a levee and water began pouring into an area just north of downtown Des Moines. Crews tried to build a temporary berm to prevent the flooding from spreading but they were ordered to leave because of danger. Hundreds of homes are unprotected at this point. The Cedar River, meanwhile, has started falling at Cedar Rapids. But officials say the misery could continue for days. Iowa's governor has issued disaster declarations for 83 of Iowa's 99 counties. CNN correspondents Dan Simon and Sean Callebs are standing by in Iowa for us. Reynolds Wolf standing by for us in the CNN weather center with a look at what to expect next, but we will begin with CNN's Dan Simon in Des Moines for us.

DAN SIMON, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Hi T.J., well this is turning into a very scary situation for this neighborhood. We've been telling you all morning long about this levee breach a 100-foot levee breach behind a high school. That high school has now taken in a significant amount of water. As we saw earlier, we saw some National Guardsmen putting up a sand barrier, putting up what amounts to a temporary levee to keep the water in check, to keep it from entering a neighborhood. But we can say now that effort has in fact failed. I'm going to step out of the way here, Jeff, you can push in. You can see the water is about two blocks away from us. It has broken through that barrier as we said and it is now on the street. It still has a little ways to go before it actually reaches any homes, but at this point, it seems clear that this neighborhood will at least have some flooding, we're not sure how much, but obviously, that barrier didn't keep that water in check. So a very frightening situation here for this one neighborhood. A mandatory evacuation is in place, and all of these homes basically have now been cleared. T.J.? HOLMES: Oh, I'm glad people are cleared out but, man, what an ominous sight knowing the water's coming and there's nothing you can do about it. Dan Simon for us there on the scene, we appreciate you this morning.

NGUYEN: About 100 miles from Des Moines the Cedar River is falling in Cedar Rapids. That's good news, but it's going to be a long time until anything there gets back to normal. Let's check in now with CNN's Sean Callebs, as we talk about that Cedar River it runs through downtown. Do I have this right? Over 100 city blocks, maybe even 400 city blocks, are under water?

SEAN CALLEBS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: At the worst yesterday when the river crested there were 400 downtown blocks under water. It has improved somewhat, but you know what, look behind me. This is what happens to a downtown city when a river runs through it, the Cedar River jumping its banks yesterday. In fact, look out here. If we can pan out towards the middle of this river where the current is the strongest. Look at that. That's a big problem. Look at that oil drum that is going down the middle of the river. There is all kinds of debris that is moving down there. In fact, if we just look down here at the base of this light pole. We can see a pallet caught a giant looking sign. And then just down a little bit further, the same kind of situation is unfolding there, and this is just -- a small example of the amount of debris that's come down through here. If you look at the bridges that have just been swamped, they are full of limbs and wood, pallets, all kind of debris. A big problem here in this area. A huge problem, however, has been trying to get people to higher ground. 24,000 out of 120,000 people have been evacuated including 77-year-old John Bram, we caught up with him yesterday. He was moved out, Betty, but he's in higher ground and he's doing very well today. Betty?

NGUYEN: News, as we watch people being evacuated from their homes there by boat. We want to take you live now to a news conference that is taking place at this hour in Des Moines. Let's take a listen.

SGT. VINCENT VALDEZ, DES MOINES POLICE DEPARTMENT: Here's a good example that you know, what we did was what we needed to do. It worked, just like it was supposed to. All of those folks in the (INAUDIBLE) area are out of there. And they're safe. And you know, we're working to alleviate that situation as fast as we can with all the resources we have. So we're on top of it, and I want to start out with a couple of some little information points, then I will hand it over to some guests. Again, at approximately 3:30 a.m. this morning a levee breach occurred in the Birdland(ph) area of the Des Moines River. There was a significant amount of water from the Des Moines River which caused flooding in the area between Sixth Avenue and Second Avenue, north of Des Moines River. Emergency officials have conducted a mandatory evacuation of the Birdland area, that's zone one. That's one of those zones that you saw on the maps that we had to go to and do the evacuations. By the way, that turned into a mandatory evacuation, whereas yesterday it was a voluntary thing. But again, even with it being a voluntary evacuation, we got so much cooperation and yet we're really glad of that, and thank God it worked. So -- anyway, this is one of the areas that was previously designated by officials as a risk for potential flooding. At which time residents and businesses were encouraged to evacuate on a voluntary basis. Those individuals who were evacuated and in need of shelter were taken to Harding Middle School at 203 Euclid. At this time I'd like to have A.J. Mon come up and give his update. Mr. Mon?

A.J. MUM: Hello my name is A.J. Mum, I'm the emergency management director for Polk County. As Sergeant Valdez has explained the situation this morning in terms of our emergency operations center. Our emergency operation center has been fully staffed 24 hours a day since about Monday. And with the news that we received earlier this morning, we supplemented that personnel in the emergency operations center and really began to execute the plan that we had established. One of the important things is from the emergency operations center level is to primarily support those activities out in the field in the flood fight, in the evacuations. Another important responsibility of the emergency operation center is to make sure that we don't get tunnel vision. We shill have other activities going on across the entire county. We still have high waters in other parts of the system and the emergency operations center in all of those. We all share that responsibility and are doing so monitoring the situation. A couple updates on specific pieces that took place not only just this morning but have been ongoing. One is that this morning as soon as we had received word that the situation at Birdland, we activated several alert mechanisms to warn the public. The national weather service in cooperation with our emergency operations center issued a flash flood warning immediately. And no weather alert radios were activated. We also asked for a (INAUDIBLE) emergency message to be distributed, reinforcing the urgency of that flash flood warning. We've also asked the Polk County amateur radio emergency services, otherwise many people refer to them as HAM radio operators. To support our communications section in the emergency operation center. So we have forward communications with the shelters that are open as well. So we thank them for their time.

NGUYEN: We've been listening to some of the emergency personnel there in Des Moines as they are dealing with the aftermath of this flooding. As we heard there from Sergeant Vincent Valdez that a levee was breached in the Birdland area of the Des Moines River. And then they had a backup. They call it a Berm which is essentially kind of another makeshift levee to kind of prevent that water from spilling into neighborhoods. But because of all of this, they had to evacuate some of the homes nearby. So they have been really under the gun lately with a lot of problems caused by this flooding.

(WEATHER REPORT)

NGUYEN: Something else on the move today that we're watching very closely is the shuttle.

HOLMES: And there it is. Miles, who we're lucky to have sitting right next to us. Miles O'Brien here with us. Here it is, we said it was on the way. Sounds like, looks like, it's right on time?

MILES O'BRIEN, CNN SPACE CORRESPONDENT: Well, you know when they do those (INAUDIBLE) burns, you can pretty much set your watch to the arrival, it's just the way it is. This is the most sophisticated, heavy, expensive glider in the world. There's no power. This is just a glider entry. Take a look at what it looks like onboard the flight deck right now. Let me tell you what these numbers are. Over here, air speed, about 240 knots right now, about 250 miles an hour. They're going to bleed off a little more speed before they land, but they land very fast. Much faster than an airliner. An airliner lands about 150 miles an hour, the shuttle about 200. The other thing that's interesting about a shuttle and I've been on their training aircraft, would love to go on the shuttle. But I've been on the training aircraft, it's like a dive bomber. It comes in about seven times steeper than your typical airliner. You're going straight down, you take a look at mangrove swamp, you might see an alligator or two. You just hope when they pull back that the shuttle controls do what you ask it to do. This crew of seven conducted a very successful mission at the International Space Station's 23rd mission to the station. Big moment, of course, attaching the key beau laboratory built by Japan, of course also the other ones delivering that piece of plumbing part to fix the toilet.

Let me tell you what else is on here, take a look at this over here, that is the altitude, 29,000 feet right now. There we see the speed, about 270 knots. And right in the middle, I want you to look at that guys. You know what that its, there's that little circle and a square. All you have to do, and this means that every 15-year-old who's a gamer can be good at this, is put the circle inside the square and you will end up where you need to be. The computer is predicting how the angle and the bank should be accomplished in order to get to the runway and have just the right amount of energy as it reaches the threshold. With no power. That's really important.

NGUYEN: So at this point, the commander does not have control?

O'BRIEN: He is now under control. Last two minutes of flight. This is the first time that Mark Kelly as commander, actually has that opportunity to land the shuttle. He's done this thousands of times in simulators with computers, and a rigged up Gulf Stream that flies a lot like a shuttle, which I've been in. They say it's like the real thing, but it isn't the real thing. You're not taking a $2 billion spacecraft down watched by people all over the world. You want to make sure you get that thing down there as we call it in aviation, you want to grease that landing, right? And you want to end up on the center line. So right now they're coming back after this long mission, "Discovery" now on its 35th flight. The fleet leader for the space shuttle orbiter fleet. This mission is, well, there's only 10 more shuttle flights after this and then we're going to retire the fleet. There you see the runway down there. It looks like they're coming in so steep. Well, they are because they're going in that dive bomb. Now you've notice they've picked up a little air speed. About 300 knots here, and, we just lost that shot there. I love being able to look at that --

NGUYEN: So that rutter, that metal clip on the rutter that broke off is not a problem?

O'BRIEN: Not to worry. Yeah, the clip was for some insulation which really was a critical issue during launch, not reentry. You can imagine it gets very hot back there by the main entrance during launch and that's why they had that insulation there. Not a re-entry thing. Ok, let's follow them down. Once again, watch that. See how he's doing. Gets rid of some of that data there. Now he's just focused on the real basic information about 300 knots right now, 3,000 feet. 15 seconds before landing. 15 seconds is when they deploy that landing gear that's the most important job that the pilot can do today in addition to deploying that (INAUDIBLE) which extends --

Ok, we're at 300 knots, 600 feet. Circle in the box, all good so far. There goes the gear. Set your watches, 15 seconds. 15 seconds they spring load that gear. Let's listen as Discovery comes back after a journey of 5.7 million miles.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Landing gear down and locked. Main gear touchdown. I am now deploying the drag chute. Nose gear touchdown.

All right.

"Discovery" rolling out on runway 1-5 at the Kennedy Space Center. 5.7 million mile mission.

O'BRIEN: -- has hundreds of night carrier landings under his belt as an F-14, f-15 navy guy. He will tell you this is easier than landing at night on an aircraft carrier in a jet. The truth is.

NGUYEN: That's a long runway too, right?

O'BRIEN: But there's still some pressure here. It's a little longer than an aircraft carrier you might say, there's no question about that. Let's listen to what they say here as they reach wheel stop near the end of that three-mile-long runway at the Kennedy Space Center. Remember, they don't have power so they're just going to stop and then they'll tow them and that convoy we showed you earlier will descend on the orbiter, which the exterior is very hot still, and there's a lot of notches, gashes.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Roger, wheel stop "Discovery." Beautiful landing Mark and congratulations on a great mission. We will meet you on page 5-3 for post landing.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Ok, thanks. Great to be back, and it was great to be part of a, you know, a big team that made the station a little bit bigger and a little bit more capable.

O'BRIEN: There you have it. -- the rutter and we were saying how it spread apart to give it an air brake effect. That's what it does. It kind of has a wing effect. There's a cool shot. That's infrared. You look at this. It looks like the little engine that could, doesn't it? If you didn't know what that was, you might say there's something wrong with the shuttle, right? That is the heat exhaust from the auxiliary power units which control the arrow surfaces as it comes in. It's a powerless glider but you still need to get those hydraulics going and the flyby wire system to work. And so they have this system that runs on hydrazine, which is kind of a toxic brew of chemicals which creates the, the energy required to control those air surfaces, and on the infrared you can see that think chugging.

HOLMES: What kind of shape are they in right now?

O'BRIEN: The guys have been up there for two weeks. They'll be fine. There is one guy on there, Garrett Reesman(ph), who spent 95 days in space. He is in -- he's in the lounger. They do, they have a recumbent seat and he's lying down right now. They have learned that the people who have been up there for the long duration, and he's swapped out of a crew rotation, they need a little more time to adapt. It can take them a little bit of time. So he will take it easy. They recommend that they don't get up so quickly, because you can get pretty dizzy.

NGUYEN: Quickly, how bumpy was that ride back in?

O'BRIEN: Oh I'm sure Mark Kelly would never tell you it was bumpy. Smooth as silk.

NGUYEN: Being a commander and all, right?

HOLMES: Ten more you said. Ten more for the shuttle. When is the next one?

O'BRIEN: The next one in October. Big one, Hubble repair mission. The last mission to repair the Hubble space telescope.

HOLMES: Whew! We got luck to have him here today.

NGUYEN: I know.

O'BRIEN: That was fun.

NGUYEN: That's why you're the expert around here, Miles.

O'BRIEN: Happy to drop by any time.

HOLMES: Appreciate it, Miles.

NGUYEN: Thank you.

HOLMES: We are going to take a quick break here. Keep our eye on the shuttle of course. A whole lot more news coming up. Stay here.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

NGUYEN: He is being remembered as a giant in television news.

HOLMES: They don't get any bigger than Tim Russert, he helped redefine political journalism, as NBC's Washington bureau chief and the host of "Meet the Press." He died of a heart attack yesterday while he was working on Sunday's show.

NGUYEN: And CNN's Tom Foreman has his story.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE) This is "Meet the Press" with Tim Russert.

TOM FOREMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Tim Russert took on political reporting with Irish tenacity and zeal, and along the way he changed politics itself. Each Sunday morning newsmakers lined up to join him on the longest running TV show ever. A program that he took over in 1991, "Meet the Press."

TIM RUSSERT: But first with us with an exclusive Sunday morning interview --

FOREMAN: Born in Buffalo in 1950 Russert was steeped in old- fashioned Irish Catholic beliefs about hard work, friends and family. He went to law school and then straight to the front lines of politics working with legendary politicians Daniel Patrick Moynihan and Mario Cuomo. That's when Bill Schneider met him.

WILLIAM SCHNEIDER, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: He wasn't a grim ideological warrior, he didn't fight for causes. He believed in basic human decency and he believed that politics was there to serve people's interests but he made it his business to know what the interest was of everybody around the table and he was brilliant at it.

FOREMAN: In 1984 he was hired by NBC. In just a few years becoming the Washington bureau chief. He'd been a force in every phase of that network's political coverage ever since. Wolf Blitzer.

WOLF BLITZER, CNN'S "THE SITUATION ROOM": He could come across and ask a very tough question in a very polite, honest, almost amicable way. He would disarm a lot of the politicians who came on the show and they wouldn't realize that, whoa, you know, he's clobbering them.

FOREMAN: His incisive, meticulously researched interviews set the standard for political reporting, virtually every big newsmaker of the past 20 years at some point sat with Tim Russert. Along the way, Russert opened doors for many other journalists. He gave Joe Johns his first network job ever.

JOE JOHNS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: The thing Tim did so well and a lot of us always tried to emulate, was the sort of prosecutorial interview without a sharp edge. So here was Tim on "Meet the Press" asking very tough questions but not making himself the focus of the questions.

FOREMAN: In this town where contacts are everything, Russert seemed to know every one, and he was an innovator with a marker and a whiteboard he reduced the complexities of an election to something everyone could understand. Red states, blue states, he came up with that idea as a way of measuring America, according to the "Washington Post," and his influence went beyond politics to groundbreaking coverage of the world's religious, economic and social issues.

DAVID GERGEN, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: He was one of the journalists who managed to have a very popular show that also dug deeply into the issues and really illuminated not only the issues themselves but often pierced the balloons of some of the people who were appearing on his shows who came in with a certain arrogance or view that they just could put one over on the American people.

FOREMAN: His awards are too numerous to mention. "Time" magazine called him one of the 100 most influential people in the world, and yet spending time with his family and helping his community were among his deepest passions. Married for 25 years to Maureen Orth, who writes for "Vanity Fair" he talked with endless pride of his son Luke and his father, big Russ, immortalized in two books and, of course, there was sports.

BLITZER: He loved the Buffalo Bills. That was his real passion, and how many times did he end his show with, go Bills?

FOREMAN: Tim Russert was a big man, not only in size. He was well over six feet tall. But also in this presence, in his passions. His determination to get things right as a journalist, a citizen, a friend, a father and son.

(END OF VIDEOTAPE)

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

NGUYEN: It's almost 30 past the hour. Happening right now across the country, you saw it live here on CNN, the "Discovery" space shuttle landed at Kennedy Space Center just a few minutes ago. The main purpose of the 14 day mission to the international space station was to deliver and install a new science lab.

Hundreds of homes, though, check this out, are at risk in Des Moines, Iowa after the surging Des Moines River ruptured a levee this morning. Workers tried to build a temporary wall of dirt and sandbags but they had to leave when the situation got too dangerous.

HOLMES: Record-breaking river crest in Cedar Rapids, Iowa. The Cedar River is starting to recede a bit after topping out near the 32- foot mark. That is 12 feet above the old record that was set in 1929. CNN national correspondent Gary Tuchman reports that hundreds of city blocks are under water.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

GARY TUCHMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): It looks like a city that was built in a river. In recorded weather history downtown Cedar Rapids, Iowa, has never been under so much water. From the time when the Paris Academy of Beauty Culture was in business to today, when the Dublin city hub occupied the same site, there's never been this kind of emergency. You're 89 years old, lived here your whole life and you've ever seen anything like this?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Never.

TUCHMAN: Are you stunned?

EVA LACOCK, CEDAR RAPIDS, IOWA RESIDENT: Stunned. Saddened, because it's such a beautiful city and it saddens you to see the businesses that will be probably destroyed.

TUCHMAN: We took a walk into what was earlier this week the busy streets of downtown Cedar Rapids. Now it's a ghost town with floodwaters rolling into businesses. And powerful riptides from the Cedar River in the middle of the street.

(On camera): Cedar Rapids is no small town. 124,000 people live here and as you might expect, the downtown is a major economic engine. Stores, restaurants, banks, hotels, the damage is incalculable.

(Voice-over): A road work sign put up a few weeks is not just an ironic understatement. Railroad bells ring and light up forlornly for trains that won't be coming for a while. Area residents line up to look at something they can't quite believe. Military reservists have been called in to help keep order.

SGT. SHANE POTTS, U.S. AIR FORCE NATIONAL GUARD: That's something we've never seen before. This is our first flood response. It's amazing. You can't put it into words.

TUCHMAN: We leave the watery downtown after police order us to get out saying the water's depth and the currents are too dangerous. They too are stunned. This is their town and it's now a much different place than they've ever known. Gary Tuchman, CNN, Cedar Rapids, Iowa.

(END OF VIDEOTAPE)

(WEATHER REPORT)

REYNOLDS WOLF, CNN METEOROLOGIST: You know we've been showing you so much in terms of maps. So much in terms of weather graphics and that tells one part of the story. But to get an idea of the human element we're going to send it over to your friend and my friend Josh Levs. Josh, I understand you got some incredible sites to show us.

JOSH LEVS: Yes, some amazing photos that are coming our way throughout the day. I want to show you some of the latest right now. Because they are pretty incredible. I'm standing in front of a board right here. There's a photo montage that we have going on cnn.com. This was when Mercy Medical Center there in Cedar Rapids area had to be emptied. There were all the patients had to be taken out. Powerful images. But let's take a look now at what we've gotten from the "Associated Press" this morning. These are some of the latest ones. We're going to start with this image. I'll tell you what it says. A stranded couple walking around on the second floor of that building with their infant child. Those are the kinds of people that these rescuers need to get through to first. Let's go to the next one. One of the things authorities keep telling us is that hundreds, even thousands of people in the area have been volunteering. So what you're seeing there are not officials. These are volunteers, just residents of the area, coming in to help sandbagging operations. One more I want to show you again from AP that's just come through. Look at this, this is a destroyed, potentially destroyed cornfield. And what's threatening to me about this is the AP caption that came with it, told us the floods inundating the Midwest could reduce world corn supplies and drive food prices higher at a time Americans are already stretching grocery budgets and people in poor countries have been writhing over food costs. So, happy Saturday every one. But that is part of what we need to be keeping an eye on as this goes forward.

Now i-Reports are being plentiful today, we're getting a lot of i-Reports and we have been in recent days. I want to show you some of the most striking ones I've seen from Dan who is in the Cedar Rapids area. Look at what he put together. He's an amateur photographer in that area. I got to speak with him yesterday. Let's move on to the next pictures because I want you to see some of these other photos he has. There you go, that is a theater, Paramount Theatre in Cedar Rapids. As you can tell, the banner sign at the top, you know it's supposed to be way above reaching height. Obviously he managed to take this. He told me it was safe. He was on the skywalk. Let's go to one more now, a government building. What you're seeing here across the right of the screen is a bridge that's supposed to be well over the water. So you drive over to city hall there. Right now, you can swim along it and be at the same height. You shouldn't, as Reynolds was just saying, I'm just saying, it's at that height. And there you go, even more of these. Now I also want to emphasize to everyone, we make sure that people are safe when they take these pictures. Do not ever put yourself in harm's way to take any photos. We vet them first and if we think someone did something crazy, we're not going to show it. You can see more photos and more i-Reports throughout the day at cnn.com. Keep them coming to us, send us your stories, your photos, your videos to i-Report.com and we, in turn, will keep bringing them to you. Betty, T.J.?

NGUYEN: All right, thank you Josh.

LEVS: Thanks guys.

HOLMES: We'll turn to Japan now where rescue efforts are under way after a powerful earthquake today hit 60 miles north of the city of (INAUDIBLE), that's 250 miles north of Tokyo. You can see the pictures here, these were taken as the quake struck. Buildings swayed in (INAUDIBLE), highways buckled in some areas and a few bridges collapsed. Death toll, up to six now. At least eight people still missing. More than 100 people have been injured.

NGUYEN: Updating a story that we've been following out of Afghanistan today, a roadside bomb kills four U.S. Marines in the western province of Farah. Another marine was seriously wounded as well. According to figures compiled by CNN, this is the deadliest attack against U.S. troops in Afghanistan this year.

Also overnight in Kandahar Province, hundreds of Taliban prisoners escaped after militants attacked one of the region's main prisons.

HOLMES: President Bush making a French connection if you will during the latest stop on his European farewell tour. The president is in Paris this morning meeting with his French counterpart Nicolas Sarkozy. President Busy says they had a quote, "Meaningful, good discussion that focused on Iran." President Bush criticized Iran for rejecting the latest international plan to halt its nuclear program. Iran received that offer today and immediately turned it down.

NGUYEN: As the president winds up his European tour a new poll shows the global image of America is improving, somewhat, that is. CNN's Jill Dougherty reports the poll indicates people around the world look forward to the U.S. getting a new president.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

JILL DOUGHERTY, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The United States' image around the world is still reeling from the Iraq war. But the new Pew Global attitude survey conducted in 24 countries has some encouraging news for the U.S. Since last year, favorable views of the United States are up significantly in 10 of those countries. Citizens in most of the Muslim world still are overwhelmingly negative about the U.S. Another headline, in many countries, people are fascinated with the U.S. presidential election.

ANDREW KOHUT, PEW RESEARCH CENTER: The poll found many people in the survey, majorities in some countries, saying that they've been paying close attention to the American election. In fact, in Japan, we had 83 percent of the people we polled saying that they were following the election news very or fairly closely, which compares to 80 percent in the United States. It's just unbelievable.

DOUGHERTY: In fact, in half of the countries surveyed, at least 40 percent of the people said they were following the U.S. election. In nine of the countries, more than half of the people felt the next U.S. president will bring change for the better in America's foreign policy. The survey interviewed 25,000 people. And in nearly every country surveyed Barack Obama was the candidate of choice. More people expressed confidence in him than in John McCain. The survey has one warning sign for the U.S. in 18 of the 24 countries, people said their own country's economy is bad, and they blame the U.S. for a strong negative influence.

(On camera): The survey indicates there's a connection between the slight improvement in America's image and interest in the election. People are more positive, because they think a new U.S. president means change. Jill Dougherty, CNN, Washington.

(END OF VIDEOTAPE)

HOLMES: All right, you have a nice car. Well good for you.

NGUYEN: Yeah.

HOLMES: For a lot of those high-end luxury cars need that high- end luxury gas.

NGUYEN: Premium.

HOLMES: Yes.

NGUYEN: If you really have to use premium gas in that tank, we are going to get some answers for you.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

NGUYEN: We keep looking for ways to help you save money. As gas prices go through the roof we all need a little way to save some cash.

HOLMES: We have one way that may be able to save you some money. You can switch to a lower grade of gasoline.

NGUYEN: Does that work?

HOLMES: I don't know. Rusty Dornin, does that work?

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Pretty cheap. Get like $10 in a hurry.

RUSTY DORNIN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Like many car owners, Rod is conflicted, premium or regular? Mercedes says to use premium, his wallet cries otherwise. So today pumped a few gallons of the cheaper stuff.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I figure it can't hurt the car and it's a buck in my pocket.

DORNIN: As prices climb ever skyward, the premium versus regular question nags at more drivers. With 282 models of new cars from Chevrolets to Mercedes recommending or requiring premium, Adam Goldfein, host of the radio show "Auto Scoop" says no wonder people are confused. So many people seem so out of it. I have to put premium in my car.

ADAM GOLDFEIN, AUTOSCOOP HOST: They don't know what it is. They don't know the difference. They're assuming or they're buying into the myth of the marketing. When you go to the pump, the odds are you can get away with regular unleaded and you save the money, keep the money in your wallet.

DORNIN: What's the difference? Premium has more octane than regular. Octane affects how gas burns during engine compression. High performance engines like sports cars have higher compression engines and require higher octane. Are there some cars that really actually do require premium?

GOLDFEIN: Sure, if you have a vehicle that's a turbo charged car. Like this Audi here, you'll see this vehicle will definitely require premium fuel.

DORNIN: And it will operate differently?

GOLDFEIN: Absolutely. You won't be giving enough nutrients to your car so to speak.

DORNIN: My car is not a turbo and it's not really a sports car. But it does say that I should be putting premium in the tank. I haven't been for the past seven years and I haven't had any problems, not at least so far. I told that to former auto mechanic Dean, he believes there could be wear and tear I just don't know about yet. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I've been working on all kind of cars, BMW, Mercedes, Corvettes, anything.

DORNIN: And you believe premium gases will be better for the life of the car?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: For the newer cars. That's how they build it. They build it for premium gas.

DORNIN: Goldfein doesn't believe it.

GOLDFEIN: It won't harm the car, it won't hurt the car, it won't void your warranty. There's nothing for the consumer to worry about other than the fact that it kept a little more money in their pockets instead of the oil company's pockets.

DORNIN: So if you're wondering can I do it? Check your manual carefully. If your car recommends premium, experts say you can probably get away with regular. If it's required you may notice a slight difference or you can do what Buddy does and cheat a little. Rusty Dornin, CNN, Atlanta.

(END OF VIDEOTAPE)

NGUYEN: For the past seven years she hasn't been putting the right gas in her car? Hey, it's still running I guess it's all right.

HOLMES: She's always asking me for a ride out in the parking lot, her car is broken down.

NGUYEN: Right, she's going to need one on Monday.

HOLMES: Special investigations unit is going to be taking a closer look at the gas crunch. You don't want to miss "We were Warned, Out of Gas," today at 2 o'clock eastern, 11 pacific right here on CNN.

NGUYEN: So, need a story to help you feel good about people out there?

HOLMES: That would be nice.

Coming up, jailed parents, children left behind, but one woman's crusade to keep them in touch.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

NGUYEN: NEWSROOM continues at the top of the hour with Fredricka Whitfield.

HOLMES: Hello, dear lady. How are you?

FREDRICKA WHITFIELD, CNN ANCHOR: Hello. How are you both doing?

HOLMES: We are well.

WHITFIELD: Boy, a busy weekend. A tough week altogether. We're going to delve into some legal issues this week, and, our legal guys Avery Friedman and Richard Herman are going to delve into everything from the legal rights of the detainees at Gitmo to the legal rights of what turns out to be the, I guess, relief of some of the charges imposed against R. Kelly, Grammy award winning singer right there. He was acquitted yesterday in Chicago. We're going to talk about these two cases that made headlines this week and especially yesterday. We've got a lot of other items coming up and, of course, our tribute to Tim Russert. Good friend, good mentor, and really someone who leaves an indelible mark in broadcast journalism as a whole. We're going to talk about him as well and his legacy.

NGUYEN: And the memories. Oh the memories.

HOLMES: Fredricka, we will see you here in just a few minutes.

WHITFIELD: Ok.

HOLMES: Thank you.

NGUYEN: Often when a father or mother is sent to jail children are innocent victims left behind. This father's day weekend we meet CNN's hero Carolyn LeCroy, a woman who helps repair the bond between parent and child that prison threatens to take away. Take a look.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Hello Cameron. This is your father.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Hi J.J., it's mommy. I love you very much.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Mommy misses you.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The children of incarcerated parents are the silent victims of the parent's crime. These children are forgotten sometimes. My name is Carolyn LeCroy and I started the messages project so that frustrated parents can keep in touch with their kids.

Hey.

Thank you.

LECROY: In 1994 I was arrested and charged with possession of marijuana. I was very fortunate. My children came to see me all the time. And there would be women who never got visits and I would look at them. If they were this unhappy, what about the children?

You are my sunshine, my only sunshine you make me happy when skies are blue.

I know how important it was for my children to see me. When I got out I took a bad situation and I made something good of it.

Just talk from your heart. That's what this is about.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Hey Kayla, I love you. Hope you enjoy this. LECROY: They know they made mistakes, but they're still human beings and they have children, and they all love them.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: This is from your daddy, ok? Who is that?

Daddy?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: One fish, two fish, red fish, blue fish. Black fish, blue fish, old fish, new fish. This one has a little star, this one has a little car -- say what a lot of fish they are.

LECROY: We've found that the videos for many it's re- establishment of bonds that got broken. It's hard when a parent is in prison. So I think that makes all these children heroes.

(END OF VIDEOTAPE)

NGUYEN: There was a CNN viewer just like you who told us a about Carolyn LeCroy. In fact this year, all of our CNN heroes' are extraordinary people you've nominated on our website. Go to cnn.com/heroes right now if you know someone who deserves to be a CNN hero and tell us about them. You never know. You could see your hero right here on CNN.

HOLMES: One member of congress has been keeping an especially close eye on the shuttle landing this morning.

NGUYEN: Yep, because she has a personal stake in this mission success and we have that story just ahead.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

HOLMES: And a huge thumbs up here to the space shuttle "Discovery", gliding home just a short time ago. Landing at the Kennedy Space Station as you're seeing here. We saw it live here. Our Miles O'Brien walked us through it. (INAUDIBLE) successful two week mission to the space station. NASA I now rushing to fix the launch pad damaged during "Discovery's" liftoff. The next shuttle mission is scheduled for October when "Atlantis" will travel to the Hubble space telescope.

NGUYEN: Leave it to our space correspondent Miles O'Brien to uncover a romantic angle to the "Discovery" mission.

HOLMES: Yeah he's a sweetie in that way. A U.S. congresswoman gets love notes from space.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

O'BRIEN (voice-over): It's not unusual to see politicians walking the halls of congress glued to their blackberries. But Representative Gabrielle Gifford is surely the only lawmaker whose email box is filled with love notes from space.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I got one this morning.

O'BRIEN: Yeah? What did it say?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: 7:15.

O'BRIEN: 7:15.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: He said today is a day off in space. This is rare. Thanks for the wake-up music.

O'BRIEN: He is the shuttle commander, Mark Kelly. The mariachi music came from her home district in Tucson, Arizona.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Good morning. It's a really good morning in space. I'd like to thank my wonderful wife Gabrielle and my kids.

O'BRIEN: Gabrielle Giffords, an Arizona state rep and astronaut Mark Kelly met in China in 2003 on a cultural exchange visit. Was it love at first sight?

REP. GABRIELLE GIFFORDS, (D) ARIZONA: It wasn't. They always say love at first sight.

O'BRIEN: But it was a fast friendship that evolved into romance. They got married seven months ago, making her the first ever astronaut spouse in congress. The honeymoon would have to wait. An election year loomed and so did this.

And liftoff of shuttle "Discovery."

MARK KELLY: She's a little nervous. I'm thinking maybe a little more so than my last flight. There's a certain amount of risk involved in a shuttle flight and she recognizes that.

O'BRIEN: She sure does. But it still isn't easy.

GIFFORDS: You're right there. It's very public. Those first few minutes until they get to the main engine cutoff are very frightening. It's going to be the same with the landing as well.

O'BRIEN: She is literally counting the seconds until landing and has become perhaps the most dedicated viewer of NASA TV on Capitol Hill.

How do you think he looks, can you tell?

Mark has also called her four times albeit briefly on the space station internet phone.

GIFFORDS: It's great but in some ways it just heightens the anxiety as well because you reconnect for a second and then you realize the phone call can't last very long.

O'BRIEN: She hasn't slept well either.

GIFFORDS: I wake up every couple of hours, check my e-mail. Check the news. Make sure everything's going ok. You never really relax until you see the vehicle touch down, the parachute deploy and it fully rolls to a stop.

O'BRIEN: Jittery as her nerves may be she believes wholeheartedly in the space program and considers the risks her husband is taking worthwhile. She's a member of the House science committee and can always be counted on as a NASA booster.

I guess there's no doubt you have a special affection for astronauts, or at least one.

GIFFORDS: I took my commitment to space and science and NASA to a whole new level when I married Mark.

O'BRIEN: Miles O'Brien, CNN, Washington.

(END OF VIDEOTAPE)

NGUYEN: Now that's a story.

HOLME: CNN NEWSROOM continues now with Fredricka Whitfield.

NGUYEN: Hey there Fred.

WHITFIELD: New meaning to endless love.

NGUYEN: Yes.

WHITFIELD: You know it's just sky is the limit. I love that.

NGUYEN: I was going to say that, but you took it from me.

WHITFIELD: I like it, well you know, you and me, we think alike. All right. You all have a great night. Hey T.J., you, watch it, wait a minute mister. All right, thanks so much, you all have a great day.

Lots to cover straight ahead in the next hour. Let's get straight to the disaster in the Midwest. Floodwaters still rising at this hour and water is now pouring into an area near downtown Des Moines after a levee breach this morning. Hundreds more people have been ordered to leave their homes. The worst of the flooding is in Cedar Rapids however Cedar River is finally starting to recede, but the misery will stretch on for days. We're covering all angles of this disaster.

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