Return to Transcripts main page


Searching for Hikers in California; Saudis Claim Terror Arrests; Mugabe Stays the Course; Diabetes Numbers Rising in the United States; Deadly Workplace Shooting Overnight in Henderson, Kentucky

Aired June 25, 2008 - 09:00   ET


TONY HARRIS, CNN ANCHOR: You're in the NEWSROOM. I'm Tony Harris.
HEIDI COLLINS, CNN ANCHOR: Hi there, everybody. I'm Heidi Collins. See events come into the NEWSROOM live on Wednesday, June 25th.

Here's what's on the rundown. Nine teenage hikers and two adults missing, in California's Sierra Nevadas. A search underway now as day breaks across the mountains.

HARRIS: Plenty of oil but how to get it. Our Ali Velshi shows us "Issue number one" from the Canadian heartland.

COLLINS: The obesity epidemic. Feeling a remarkable surge in diabetes. New numbers this hour in the NEWSROOM.

Mystery in the wilderness: 11 members of an outward bound group are missing in California's central Sierra Nevada Mountains. The group of two adults and nine teenagers never met up the hiking leader on Saturday. That adult leader had split away from the group to scout another location.

The area where the hikers are believed to be is at an elevation of 10,000 feet and no cell phone service is available. The hiker who had gone on the scouting mission had a satellite phone and called authorities. A search and rescue team is in the area.

Let's find out what's going on now with that search. And joining us on the telephone is Lieutenant Mike Lancaster, of the Fresno County Sheriff's Department -- of the Fresno -- yes, I'm sorry.

Lieutenant, can you hear me OK?


COLLINS: Thanks so much for being with us. A lot of people really wondering about these folks that are missing. It's been several days now.

LANCASTER: Yes. The good thing is that they have several days' supply of food and water. And they have some experience hiking. So we're very positive in that regard. COLLINS: Well, that's great. And if people are familiar, you hear outward bound and that's exactly what you would think. You would think of the experience level and the supplies that may have on-hand.


COLLINS: Tell us a little bit more about that.

LANCASTER: We know that they have supplies until at least the 27th. So if they know that they're lost they're going to be very conservative about using their supplies and hopefully, it will come to a good conclusion before then.

COLLINS: And these kids are ages of 13 to 16. Is that correct?

LANCASTER: That's correct.

COLLINS: Wow. Such a scary situation. They're up at about 10,000 feet. As we have mentioned, no cell phone service. What about the satellite phone, though?


That's a God send.

LANCASTER: The one thing that person that did call us with the satellite phone is the one that let us know about the whole entire group that was lost.

COLLINS: Any indication at this point how far away from where that person made the satellite phone call -- the group could be? How much progress they may have made?

LANCASTER: No. They could be very close, within a couple of miles. But they could be up to 10 miles away. But our total search area is a 20-square-mile area.

COLLINS: OK. It sounds to me, from what I've been reading here, there's about 20 experienced mountaineers who are going to be on the search today. And plus, you're adding a helicopter?

LANCASTER: Right. Just a few minutes ago, the helicopter did lift off from the Fresno International Airport. So they should be on the scene very quickly.

COLLINS: OK. That's good. And sun is just coming up now, where you are.


COLLINS: OK. Obviously, that will help a lot. Tell me quickly, before we let you go, Lieutenant, about the weather. Is weather going to be an issue?

LANCASTER: I don't believe so. We don't have any predictions of any kinds of storms coming into the area. It should be -- maybe a little bit warm up there but not too bad.

COLLINS: All right. Well, warm, I guess, is better than cold in this situation.


COLLINS: Lieutenant Mike Lancaster of Fresno County Sheriff's Department, we sure do appreciate your insight. We'll be following this story.

HARRIS: And the battle against raging wildfires in California intensifies today. Fire crews from Nevada and Oregon are joining the effort to put out more than 800 wildfires scorching northern California. So far tens of thousands of acres are burned. Hundreds of people forced from their homes.

Thick smoke from the flames is darkening the skies over the San Francisco area and Central Valley. Officials have issued air quality warnings. The fires were set off by lightning strikes.

And excruciating waiting game in the Midwest. Hundreds of people in the town of Winfield, Missouri nervously watching the flood-swollen Mississippi today hoping more of it won't end up in their homes.

The river is cresting there today and the water will stay high for several days. The town protected by the only earthen levee in the county hasn't been swamped but the condition of that barrier, so uncertain that only National Guard soldiers and firefighters are allowed to stack sandbags. Officials fear volunteers and heavy equipment could sink.

In St. Louis, the river isn't expected to recede until Thursday night. And forecasters say the last point on the Mississippi to crest will be 80 miles south of the city. That is expected to happen on Friday.

COLLINS: Some residents of flooded neighborhood -- they are thinking outside the box to stay inside their home.

Here, now, CNN's Gary Tuchman.


GARY TUCHMAN, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice over): As the water rises in Winfield, Missouri and more neighborhoods turn into Mississippi River tributaries, I walk down a submerged street where homeowners are taking matters into their own hands.

(on camera): How are you doing? How come you're still at the house? There's water all over the place.


TUCHMAN: No water in there?

(Voice over): Some people are surrounding their homes with their own personal levee systems.

(On camera): Looks like you're on a houseboat.

KEAY: Kind of feels like it.

TUCHMAN: Feels like it?

(Voice over): Grant Keay's house looks like a cork in a bathtub. It's surrounded by water. But he has 110 tons of sand around his home.

(On camera): Your levee system has protected your house.

KEAY: Absolutely. We've got plenty of sandbags, five pumps, two generators, flood lights.

TUCHMAN: You're staying for good, no matter what?

KEAY: Sure. I'm not leaving.

TUCHMAN (voice over): Down the street, I have to climb a ladder over the levee that Charlie Carson has built at his house.

He has spent more than $2500 to try and keep the water out.

CHARLIE CARSON, WINFIELD RESIDENT: In '93, we had 10 inches of water in here. And I'm not going to go away and let it get wet again.

TUCHMAN: Most of the people in this neighborhood have evacuated as the water has quickly risen. But...

CARSON: No, I'm here to stay.

TUCHMAN (on camera): But you may send your family out if it gets to it.

CARSON: If it gets to the point where they don't need to be here, yes, I will.

TUCHMAN (voice over): Same sentiment as Grant Keay, who nonchalantly casts a fishing line off his porch after we say good-bye.


COLLINS: Wow. A great piece there.

Jacqui Jeras joining us now to talk a little bit more about rain in some of these already flooded areas. Obviously, just the worst thing these people can hear.


HARRIS: Want to bring you the latest to a story we've been tracking for about the last 20 minutes or so.

Saudi Arabia, we understand, has arrested 700 -- over 700 Islamists. This taking place in recent months. So not a recent development, it's not breaking news today, but a story in Saudi Arabia that has been developing. We want to get the latest on this because, obviously, we're just getting word of it.

CNN's Wilf Dinnick joins us on the phone now from Jeddah, Saudi Arabia.

And Wilf, if you could, give us some of the background on this story. We understand that these arrests have taken place over a period of months now.

WILF DINNICK, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: That's right. But the information really just coming to light. A spokesperson for the Saudi Interior Minister saying -- admitting that they have arrested, over the past year and over specifically a six-month period, 700 -- 701 people. They say about 500 are still in custody. They released about -- well, they released 181.

They're saying the targets were things like oil refineries and it was really people that they call Islamists or people with al Qaeda tendencies and people with that philosophy to attack government installation.

But, of course, this is not the first time the government has cracked down and made these kind of sweeping arrests. Previously, in April of last year, there was a big, huge, several groups of -- planning huge plots against oil installations. And at that time, they arrested 172 Islamists. They said there were seven jihadist cells and even they accused several of training pilots for attack.

And, so this is not something entirely new. This is something the government had been following in and trying to crack down for sometime so.

HARRIS: Hey, Wilf, is the government -- is the royal family giving any indication as to how strong the al Qaeda links are in relation to these arrests?

DINNICK: Well, they are. They're saying -- but it's usually -- you know, what they (INAUDIBLE) they say sort of al Qaeda tendencies, their philosophies...


DINNICK: ... to follow that, to sort of, obviously, trying to bring down the government.

HARRIS: I see.

DINNICK: There's a tremendous amount of resentment for the amount of oil money that's created here. And the feeling by al Qaeda and some of these groups that it's not shared with the Arab world specifically with those people in Saudi Arabia, that the poverty levels here (INAUDIBLE).

Argument that those groups made, but the government here (INAUDIBLE) that these are strictly terrorists. And of course, we should keep in mind that they don't go through the sort of due process laws that we're used to in the United States.

So 701 people, that's a tremendous amount of people.

HARRIS: Yes, I'll say.

DINNICK: And Saudi Arabia in the past has definitely come under criticism for its human rights record.

HARRIS: OK. Wilf Dinnick for us in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia this morning. Wilf, good to talk to you. Thank you.

COLLINS: The death of a pregnant U.S. soldier described as suspicious. 23-year-old Megan Lynn Touma was a dental specialist was with the army's 19th replacement company. Her body was found over the weekend at a motel in Fayetteville, North Carolina.

Investigators are still trying to determine the cause of death. They say Touma was seven months pregnant. She's arrived at Ft. Bragg from the base in Germany less than two weeks ago.

We have a CNN correspondent on the way to cover the story and are also hoping to talk to an investigator a little bit later at this hour. So we'll stay on top of that story for you.

Six people killed at a workplace shooting. It happened overnight at a plastics plant in Henderson, Kentucky. Police say the shooter had an argument with the supervisor. Witnesses saw the two walk outside together, heard a gunshot, and then saw the shooter come back inside and begin firing at coworkers.

Police say the shooter turned the gun on himself. We don't know right now if the supervisor was among those killed.

HARRIS: Oil prices rise and companies find a new tipping point methods that had been expensive now look like a bargain.

Ail Velshi takes us on the road. That's next in the NEWSROOM.


COLLINS: Diabetes rates in the U.S. soaring. Could you be at risk? Dr. Sanjay Gupta has the story straight ahead right here in the CNN NEWSROOM.


HARRIS: The nation's mortgage crisis, once they'd taken the matter of accord. The Illinois attorney general filing a lawsuit today against Countrywide Financial, the country's largest mortgage lender. The claim Countrywide offered risky loans, used misleading sales tactics, and rewarded brokers for selling questionable loans. The company says it won't comment on a pending lawsuit. Illinois wants Countrywide to pay restitution to consumers who lost their homes or loans. Drilling for oil. CNN's Ali Velshi takes us to the source right now. He's on top of one of the world's largest reserves of oil, but it is not in the Middle East. Instead, it's Alberta, Canada.

Here's Ali Velshi in Ft. McMurray.


ALI VELSHI, CNN SENIOR BUSINESS CORRESPONDENT: Ft. McMurray is in northern Alberta, Canada and it is home to what is known as the oil sands. Now more than 200 years ago, an explorer came by this clear water river here and he saw a film, an oily film on the water. And he came to shore, he picked up the sand, and this is what he found.

These are oil sands. It's sand that smells and feels maybe a bit like tar. And it's sand that is encased in something called bitumen. Bitumen is used to tar roads or to water-proof roofs.

Well, what they found out many (INAUDIBLE) decades later was that this could also be refined and turned into a sort of molasses-like material, which then can be upgraded into synthetic crude oil.

Now it takes about two tons of this bitumen just to make one barrel of oil through this process. But there are more oil reserves underneath where I'm standing than anywhere else in the world. It is more expensive, obviously, to produce than regular crude oil where you can drill into the ground and it gushes out.

This is a more expensive, more labor-intensive process. As a result of that, this area that I'm in -- Ft. McMurray, Alberta -- is as close to a boomtown as one will ever see. It is growing in leaps and bounds. And we're off to the mines now to take a look at how this process works.

And we're told that the 20-mile drive to the mine could take two hours because of all the people who are working here.

Alberta -- this part of the oil sand is giving off almost a million barrels a day of oil, and much of that is going to the United States because of a sophisticated pipeline structure that goes into the States.

There are experts who predict that within 10 years, that million barrels a day could become three or even four million barrels a day.

In Ft. McMurray, I'm Ali Velshi, CNN.


COLLINS: Alarming news about diabetes in the United States. The number of Americans with the disease now about 24 million.

Our chief medical correspondent Dr. Sanjay Gupta is joining me now with more.

Boy, that is just a huge number. DR. SANJAY GUPTA, CNN CHIEF MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, I think the biggest shocker here was the numbers really are going in the wrong direction. I think maybe not surprising but you know, you think about obesity rates, you think about the consequence of that, diabetes. We're starting to see some of those ramifications.

Take a look at some of the numbers overall. I mean look at this. You do see the increase, as you mentioned, since 2005, 15 percent. That's a -- 24 million Americans, 8 percent of the population.

Most cases are type-2, which means you develop it later on in life. About a quarter of the people over the age of 60.

Also you know, the World Health Organization estimates that the number of people with diabetes by the year 2030 is going to be close to 400 million around the world. So, you know, this is something that a lot of people are paying attention to. But you talk about obesity so much we're starting to see the ramifications of that.

COLLINS: Yes, definitely. What can you do to prevent yourself from being one of these people, especially if it runs in your family?

GUPTA: Right. And genetics are hard to beat, as you might imagine. If you are -- for example, if you have a parent who is a type-1 diabetic, had it as a child, you have a certain likelihood of developing. That likelihood even goes up if you're parent had type-2 diabetes.

So, you know, that sort of hard to get around. But keep in mind a couple of things. One is that eating sugar alone doesn't give you diabetes. This is a question that we get all the time. It's not the sugar that's the problem at least initially.


GUPTA: If you had diabetes, then you don't want to eat too much sugar. Think of it that way. But all of the basic supplies, when it comes to warding off diabetes -- you know, eating right, trying to get lots of vegetables in your diet, keeping belly fat down, in particular.


GUPTA: Keeping your weight down, belly fat, in particular, seems to make a huge difference. So these are some of the things that people will talk about. There's also pretty good medications out there now for people who are pre-diabetics. They don't have it yet but they're on the verge, medications like mephormine (ph), for example. They may be candidates for medications like that.

COLLINS: When do you start taking something like that?

GUPTA: Well, you know, you have to talk to your doctor about it. But if you're someone who's -- who has lots of different risk factors -- let's say your blood pressure sort of borderline, your cholesterols borderline, and your blood sugar is starting to creep up, they might talk about it, especially if you have a family history, as you mentioned or if you are at particular risk for some reason.

COLLINS: Yes. I didn't know that. All right, well, that's interesting. Then when you talk about diabetes, though, it oftentimes translates into being at risk for heart attack and stroke.

GUPTA: That's exactly right. When you think about all the sugar in your blood vessels, there's two things. That sugar is sort of -- it's irritating to the blood vessel walls. It sort of causes inflammation which puts you at higher risk for heart disease, put you at higher risk for stroke as well.

But the sort of larger issue is that all the things that puts you at risk for diabetes also puts you...


GUPTA: ... at risk for heart diseases, you know, your body weight, your overall cholesterol levels, your blood pressure. So it's all one big package.

It's good news and bad news. The bad news is that it happens. The good news is that if you make some of those simple lifestyle changes, you can target a lot of those things to scratch them off your list all at once.

COLLINS: Dad, are you listening?

GUPTA: That's well advice. Yes.

COLLINS: Exactly.

GUPTA: There's a lot of others out there so.

COLLINS: Yes. I know. That's right. All right, well, Sanjay, we sure do appreciate watching those numbers. Boy, they do go up fast.


GUPTA: No problem. All right.

COLLINS: CNN medical correspondent, Dr. Sanjay Gupta.

HARRIS: And one more medical note. This is a story we spend sometime talking to Sanjay about. Surgery on Tiger Woods' left knee went well. That's what his doctors say. They repaired a torn ligament.

Woods won the U.S. Open a week before the surgery despite injuries in that knee and leg. Doctors don't think the surgery will have any long-term effects on his ability to play golf.

It is the second time in 10 weeks that Tiger Woods had an operation on that knee.

COLLINS: Defiant against the world. Zimbabwe's president, Robert Mugabe, staying the course on upcoming elections.


HARRIS: Things changing by the hour in Zimbabwe, a country racked by violence. As an election looms, the country's opposition leader leaves the safety of the Dutch embassy, and then returns as the election crisis intensifies.

Our David McKenzie is following developments from neighboring South Africa. And David, so Morgan Tsvangirai leaves, heads home, and while he's home, he gives a news conference?

DAVID MCKENZIE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: That's right, Tony. What we're hearing is that Morgan Tsvangirai left the safety of the Dutch embassy. He went to his home, gave an impromptu press conference to assemble reporters.

Now CNN is not allowed into Zimbabwe there. The government saying that we cannot go in it to report any international broadcast, in fact, cannot go in there. But we got word that Tsvangirai was calling for the following.

He asked for a negotiated settlement that should be set up by the African Union and the regional Sadik group here in Southern Africa. He said that the violence against his supporters has been such that they had to stay out of this election. And he's calling on those in the international community and the African community, especially, Tony, to bring some kind of way forward for negotiated settlement with President Mugabe.

And then he spirited back to the Dutch embassy, meaning he's still afraid of his life, afraid for his situation -- Tony.

HARRIS: So David, this idea of a negotiated settlement, is that the same as a coalition government?

MCKENZIE: Well, what he said earlier to CNN in an interview from the Dutch embassy is that he's looking for any kind of settlement. He mentioned a broad coalition, similar to what happened after Kenya's violence. He's looking for some kind of power sharing government. He said anything, essentially, that could potentially stop the violence, against his supporters, that could bring some normalcy back to Zimbabwean country that has seen more than 200 percent inflation, Tony.

It's a terrible situation for the individual people in Zimbabwe. They're looking for any kind of settlement but it's far from that at this stage.

HARRIS: Has he had a change of heart about his decision to withdraw his name from the upcoming runoff? Or is he holding to that decision?

MCKENZIE: They are right now holding that decision. They actually formally submitted a letter to the Zimbabwean election commission stating that Morgan Tsvangirai and the MDC would not be in that election on Friday.

What he did say in that -- that press conference after he left the embassy was that he wants the parliamentarians that one seat in the March election to be sat. He wants, essential, for MDC is to have that majority that they think they deserve in the government.

But what would happen is that when President Mugabe presumably wins this election, he has over 30 seats that he can just name and he will wipe out the MDC's majority. So the only solution really for Tsvangirai and supporters of his party is some kind of settlement -- Tony.

HARRIS: David McKenzie for us, Johannesburg, South Africa. David, thank you.

COLLINS: Three JFK terror plot suspects are now in New York. They are expected to make their initial court appearance this afternoon. An appeals court in Trinidad and Tobago rejected the three men's appeal to fight extradition. That is where they had been until last night.

The three are accused of plotting to blow up JFK International Airport. U.S. prosecutors say some of the men's plans were secretly recorded by an informant. A fourth suspect who worked as cargo handler at the airport until 1995 was already in the U.S. custody.

All four men say they are innocent. Their lawyers add the men are victims of government entrapment and there never was any really threat to the airport.

A deadly week for Americans in Iraq. Nine killed in the war zone. The military now confirms three soldiers and their interpreter died in a roadside bombing yesterday in Nineveh Province.

Earlier in the day, two other soldiers and two U.S. government employees were killed in a bombing in Baghdad. And on Monday two soldiers were shot to death.

Official report -- officials report, that is, 25 U.S. troops killed in Iraq so far this month.

HARRIS: The soaring price of oil. The rising strain on your wallet. Could it all be relieved by a few new laws and argument you will want to hear?


COLLINS: All right. There you have it. The opening bell, today, Wednesday. And that is the question, as you can see on the bottom of the screen, what are the markets going to do today?

That's the guy who invented that awesome show. I don't know if you've seen it or not on Broadway "In the Heights." Getting a lot of acclaim. Won all kinds of Tony Awards. I think four Tony Awards.

But anyway, to the numbers, we are looking at some positive numbers right there. Just a little bit, anyway. 25 points to the positive. The Dow Jones Industrial Average resting down about 11834.

We're going to be checking in a little later on today with Susan Lisovicz, talking about all things business. Countrywide is certainly leading that discussion today. We'll talk more about that in a moment.

Meanwhile, let's check in at the gas pump. Our daily look at prices now. The latest numbers from AAA, the national average dropped over night, 0.20 of a penny per gallon. Compared to one month ago, that is still an increase of more than 13 cents. And compared to one year ago, we're paying a $1.09 more for each gallon.

HARRIS: Gas half-price by the end of July. Seems like a crazy dream, doesn't it? Some say it's possible by cracking down on speculators.

CNN's Brianna Keilar explains.


BRIANNA KEILAR, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Speculation. It's a dirty word to some on Capitol Hill.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Rapacious speculation.

KEILAR: Many Democrats and Republicans worry it's driving up the price of oil and gasoline. One oil analyst says Congress stepping in is the key to cheaper gas.

REP. ED WHITFIELD (R), KENTUCKY: So you're saying if we adopt these regulatory changes, we could almost cut the retail price of gas in half in a relatively short period of time?

MICHAEL MASTERS, OIL ANALYST: My estimation, it will be within 30 days.

WHITFIELD: Within 30 days of the President's signing the bill?

MASTERS: Yes, sir.

KEILAR: Here's how speculation works. Investors, many of them public pension funds, buy oil futures to sell later at a profit. It's all done on paper. They never physically acquire any oil.

REP. BART STUPAK (D), MICHIGAN: Your pension fund manager may be using your retirement money to drive up the price of oil.

KEILAR: It's perfectly legal. And with oil prices on the rise, it's a sure way to make money. But Republicans and Democrats call some of it excessive.

SEN. JOE LIEBERMAN (R), CHAIRMAN, HOMELAND SECURITY COMMITTEE: Speculators are moving enormous amounts of money into commodities markets for the obvious purpose of making more money. But in so doing, they are artificially inflating the price of food and fuel futures, and causing real financial suffering for millions and millions of people and businesses.

KEILAR: Among the proposals, making transactions more transparent, so regulators can tell whether speculators are gaming the system. Banning hedge funds and pension funds from investing in the oil market. And slowing the speculation spiral by increasing the down payment investors must make on a contract.

Right now, they pony up just 5 or 7 percent. Compare that to the 50 percent down required to purchase stocks. But some experts tell Congress making changes could do more harm than good. They say it will shift oil trading to even less regulated areas, perhaps overseas, driving up oil prices even higher and out of the reach of U.S. regulators.

Brianna Keilar, CNN, Washington.


HARRIS: So let's take a closer look at the debate over speculation. Fadel Gheit says energy traders have created pure hysteria. He is a senior energy analyst for Oppenheimer & Company. And Poppy Harlow is joining us. Helping us with her expertise from

Poppy, great to see you.

Fadel, let's start with you. We're going to have questions coming at you from all angles this morning. We appreciate you being here with us.

You know, we heard testimony yesterday suggesting that with some smart regulatory changes, we could almost cut the price of gas in half. I think that caught everyone's attention. Do you agree with that assessment?

FADEL GHEIT, OPPENHEIMER & CO: Yes, I do. It will take time. It's not going to be immediate. The (INAUDIBLE) within 30 to 60 days. I think we could see much lower gas prices. I think if the government tightens regulation. I'm not saying that we do not need speculation. With speculation that is sufficient (INAUDIBLE) liquidity in the market. But when speculation overtakes the physical market, then the government has to do something.

HARRIS: OK. Fadel, let me just -- Brianna Keilar points out some of the proposals being kick around in her piece just a moment ago. Let me run one by you and get your thoughts on it.

Do you like the idea, for example, of making transactions more transparent? On the surface, that seems to make sense. And if you would, tell us what kind of transaction is going on now that is driving up the price of gas. And how's that transparency, greater transparency, would stop that kind of activity?

GHEIT: Well, transparency would tell us exactly who are the major players on the market? All the investment banks would have to disclose their sources of income. Obviously, when you see an analyst in an investment bank, pushing for higher oil prices, you have to question, is it self-serving that they would push oil prices?

It's almost a self-fulfilling prophecy as they predicted that oil prices would be higher and higher and higher. And they are controlling on the trading side of the business. They know the traffic. They know how many longs and how many shorts. And therefore, they have tremendous influence in the market.

Like, you heard screaming "fire" in a crowded place. Everybody will run. Nobody is going to ask question.


GHEIT: If people will run, it would panic. We are stepping the market in panic right now for absolutely no reason but to make money at the expense of tens of millions of people.

HARRIS: And Poppy, jump on it here.

POPPY HARLOW, CNNMONEY.COM CORRESPONDENT: Sure. You know, Fadel, you said -- I believe it was on Monday -- oil could fall to $45 or $60 a barrel. I think a lot of people see that as a pipe dream, you know. One of the nation's best known energy expert, Daniel Yergin -- he is expected to testify before Congress today.

And he says -- "Listen, the focus on speculation is largely misguided. We can attribute the rise in prices to basic supply and demand issues, the weak U.S. dollar, and a global surge in demand in India, China like we've never seen before."

What is your take on that?

GHEIT: First of all, let's set the record very straight. The oil markets are not free markets. They are manipulated by government policy including our own. Now, if we are letting the speculators get away with what they are doing right now, we should not be crying about $200 oil because it will happen if we don't do anything about it.

For example, between what we pay in the U.S. versus what the Europeans are paying is government access Europe, between what to pay and what the Chinese and Indians are paying as government subsidy.

If China and India cut their subsidy, their demand growth would be cut in half or by more than that. Therefore, there would be enough oil in the market to go around.

Right now, oil producer cannot put any barrel of oil on the market, because it would create a glut that would crush oil prices. Because oil prices in their view and my view are not reflecting market fundamentals. They are exaggeration expectation of potential shortages, which has never materialized.

HARLOW: You know, probably, I think a lot of people are wondering how involved Congress should really get in the market anymore than they already are. What more government regulation here in the U.S. with the commodities market, the oil market in particular, just drive more traders overseas possibly to electronic and less regulated markets, and therefore not really solve any problems?

GHEIT: This is like, you know -- it's like dealing with drug trafficking. We have to start somewhere. We just cannot say what if we close our borders, you're going to come from another area. That makes no sense. We have to start somewhere. We are the largest market in the world -- energy market and saving market in the world.

So if we start climbing down on them here, they have no other option but to go to the ICU, which is the London market, which is totally unregulated. And if we regulate this market, that's 90 percent of the traffic. Where are they going to go? Where are they going to hide?

We can climb down on them even more, by just -- you know, when people have money laundry, they go to Swiss bank accounts. We can go after it. So for people to say that there is no way that we climb down on speculators, they are kidding themselves. They want this party to continue, as they said, because they make enormous amounts of money.

I have no problem with making money. But when that comes at the expense of poor people, that is really unfair and should not continue.

HARRIS: Fadel Gheit joining us this morning, along with Poppy Harlow. That was great. Poppy, thank you for doing all the heavy lifting on that one. That was terrific.

HARLOW: My pleasure.

HARRIS: And Fadel, thanks for your time this morning.

GHEIT: Thank you.

COLLINS: A summer storm in Rhode Island looks more like a winter wallop. Yesterday in the town of Pawtucket hail fell so fast and so thick, street drains were actually clogged. A lot of rain fell with that hail. And roads quickly turn into icy rivers as you can see there. The current even sweeping one car into another.

Thankfully, nobody was hurt. Boy, that's weird. Jacqui Jeras joining us more now with all of the weather stuff because it's really a plethora across the board of every type of weather that's available.


HARRIS: One false step lead to an all too real life. In depth situation for a 10-year-old Wisconsin boy. Aaron Marker says he was checking out the crashing rapids of the Fox River, when he lost his footing and fell into the water. The current in the swollen river pulled him about 50 yards. Then, Aaron saw a tree limb, grabbed it, and of course held on for dear life.

A utility worker saw him and pulled him to safety. Here's how Aaron describes his ordeal.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) AARON MARKER, RESCUED FROM RIVER: I felt like someone was grabbing on (INAUDIBLE). Like, let say, there was an aquatic monster on there, grabbed down to my leg and just dragged me in.


HARRIS: Yes. Aaron's mother says that she is extremely grateful to the utility worker who rescued her little boy.

COLLINS: Wow. Scary. We want to let you know, we are waiting some important -- possibly landmark, in fact, decisions from the Supreme Court this morning. The rulings could come very soon. The ones we're watching in particular about gun rights in Washington, D.C. And also, the death penalty and child rape.

They're just a couple that we are watching closely. We will keep an eye on that and bring it to you as soon as we know anything right here in the CNN NEWSROOM.


COLLINS: You already know to catch us weekday mornings from 9:00 a.m. until noon, Eastern. But did you know, you can take us with you anywhere on your iPod -- you know, if you get lonely. The CNN NEWSROOM podcast available 24/7 right on your iPod.

Using the Internet to make a few more bucks on passengers. One airline puts the Web to the test during a cross-country flight today.

Veronica De La Cruz is joining us now with details. Plus, other tech headlines.

All right, so who's doing this?

VERONICA DE LA CRUZ, CNN INTERNET CORRESPONDENT: Well, American Airlines is the next on that list, Heidi. You know, as we have seen the cost of gas continue to increase, we've also seen airlines struggle to find more ways to make money. And they've been doing so by charging like items.

Charging for items like additional luggage, food, entertainment. And today, if this test goes well, you can add one more charge to that list. We're talking about the charge Internet access. American Airlines now testing out WiFi, on two of its cross-country flights today, Heidi.

They're partnering up with Aircel to do so and they expect the service to run anywhere from $10 to $13. That's going to be depending on the length of the flight. And you might also remember, Heidi, Aircel has partnered up with airlines like JetBlue. Also, Virgin America, to perform similar tests.

And American Airline says that if the tests go well, you might see Internet access offered on some flights in the following weeks. So Internet access could be right around the corner.

COLLINS: Yes, for a price.

DE LA CRUZ: For a price.

COLLINS: And the mobile phone company, too, making some headlines?

DE LA CRUZ: Yes. Nothing is ever free, Heidi. Nothing is ever free.

COLLINS: No, never. I know.

DE LA CRUZ: Well, we're talking about T-mobile now. We do know it as what? A mobile phone company heads the name, but T-mobile is launching a nationwide service. It's going to allow its customers to make unlimited domestic calls from the comforts of their own home using a landline. And they plan to do so using a broadband connection. The service is going to be called T-mobile at home. It's going to cost you.

Heidi, it's going to cost you.

COLLINS: Yes. Once again, I don't know what a landline is anymore.

DE LA CRUZ: I know. Right? But if you want to keep yours and you decide you want to use T-mobile, it's going to cost you in the ballpark of ten months. And of course, you have to be a T-mobile customer spending at least $40 a month. Plus, you've got to buy a router. It's going to cost you another 50. And if you're interested, this service should be available on July 2nd. But it's going to cost you.

COLLINS: Yes. Another 10 bucks, you said, right?

DE LA CRUZ: 10 bucks.

COLLINS: 10 bucks, 10 bucks, 10 bucks. All right, CNN's Veronica De La Cruz. Thanks, Veronica.

HARRIS: News from the campaign trail straight ahead. And Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton returns to Washington. Now what? We'll assess her options.


COLLINS: Barack Obama, widening his lead over John McCain. CNN's latest national poll of polls shows the presumptive Democratic presidential nominee leading the Republican by eight percentage points. Twelve percent of those polls say they are unsure. The poll of polls averaged five national surveys of registered voters taken June 17th through June 23rd. Last week, Obama had a six-point advantage.

Eye on the candidates. John McCain, keeping his focus on energy. He addressed his supporters at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas, today. He is calling out the federal government to take the lead in practicing energy efficiency.

Barack Obama spoke to reporters in Chicago this afternoon. He is heading home from the west where he held a town hall meeting in Las Vegas and brought in millions of celebrity-packed fundraiser in L.A. Obama, directing his finance team to help former rival, Hillary Clinton, pay off her campaign debt.

HARRIS: Hillary Clinton is back at her day job on Capitol Hill. What now for the senator?

Here's CNN's senior political correspondent Candy Crowley, part of the Best Political Team on Television.


CANDY CROWLEY, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Except for cheering Senate staffers, it was an ordinary day on Capitol Hill, as Hillary Clinton returned from an extraordinary primary.


CROWLEY: On the record, but not in front of cameras, Clinton said all she wants is to resume her day job.

VOICE OF SEN. HILLARY CLINTON (D-NY), FORMER PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: My role is to be the very best senator I can be and to represent the greatest state in our country.

CROWLEY: It begs the question: is the Senate floor big enough when all the world's been your stage? Nothing signals she will be number two including her.

CLINTON: It is not something that I think about. This is totally Senator Obama's decision and that's the way it should be. So, with her, Hillary Clinton --

SEN. BARACK OBAMA (D), PRESUMPTIVE PRESIDENTIAL NOMINEE: Senator Clinton has been a larger than life figure in Democratic political and American politics.

CROWLEY: Barack Obama's plans are as grand as they are vague.

OBAMA: She's going to be a force to be reckoned with, not only in the Senate. But hopefully, if I'm successful in the White House, she's going to be one of my key partners.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The senator from New York.

CROWLEY: Still, Clinton's future is a complicated set of calculations both political and personal. She's a headliner, a go to fund-raiser. And should Obama lose, maybe a re-contender. But the first order of business is to retool the brand name and the legacy.

BILL CLINTON, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: You're asking me about this. CROWLEY: There are lingering complaints from some party big-wigs that both Clintons sometimes went overboard, roughing up Obama, hurting the party in pursuit of the nomination. At her press conference, Clinton was on-track, all-party, all the time.

CLINTON: We're going to work very hard to elect Senator Obama our president. And we're going to work very hard to add to our numbers here in the Senate under the great leadership of Senator Reid, and my friend and colleague Senator Schumer.

CROWLEY: And after 24 hours of questioning when and whether Bill Clinton would endorse Obama, his office tried to douse the stories. President Clinton said a spokesman is obviously committed to doing whatever he can and is asked to do.

An uneasy truce may be near. A source says Hillary Clinton and Obama have talked about getting her husband and Obama together. A close friend predicts in the long run, bill Clinton will return to his foundation, refurbishing his legacy with the kind of good works that shape his post presidency.

As for the senator from New York, 18 million votes do not add up to power in the Senate found by tradition, rules, and seniority. Clinton is 34th in seniority of the 51 member of Democratic caucus. No chairmanship awaits her. As the source put it, she will work like hell.

Candy Crowley, CNN, Washington.


HARRIS: And once again, we are awaiting some important decisions from the Supreme Court, this morning. Those rulings should come down in just a couple of minutes.

One that we're watching, Kennedy versus the State of Louisiana, the death penalty for child rape. And then, the other one, we are paying close attention to, is the District of Columbia versus Heller. At issue, in that particular case, does the city's ban on handgun ownership violate the constitution's fundamental right to keep and bear arms?

Again, those decisions could come down within minutes and we are following it for you, right here in the CNN NEWSROOM.


COLLINS: Shaquille O'Neal turning in a special badge. That demand coming from Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio. He is upset with the NBA star use of a racially-derogatory word and other offensive language in a rap video mocking former teammate Kobe Bryant.


SHERIFF JOE ARPAIO, MARICOPA COUNTRY, ARIZONA: This organization not tolerating these types of racial slurs. I don't care who they are. And I just said again, just recently, for the same word, I fired a deputy sheriff cadet. So if I fire him, I want my badges back from Shaq.