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CNN NEWSROOM

President Bush Meets with Iraqi President; Supreme Court Rules Death Constitutional for Murderers Only

Aired June 25, 2008 - 11:00   ET

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


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JALAL TALABANI, IRAQI PRESIDENT: We are proud to have such a good friend here in this (INAUDIBLE.) I think we can -- I can say that we can pass this year (INAUDIBLE) oil and election that are now going to reunite our government (INAUDIBLE) also to the -- Iraqi national unity government headed by our Prime Minister Malaki. I also speak about the achievements which Iraq has (INAUDIBLE) -- who are making trouble for Iraq.

Now I can say that Iraq, big part of Iraq is stable and is liberated from terrorism and some places still there are some groups that remain here and there, but I think the achievements we have done this year with the support of the United States army and government with the friendly advice from President Bush, I can say that we are proud to achieve good successes in Iraq and our economy is growing.

We have also big steps forward for national reconciliation. We improved our relation with our neighbors, with Turkey, with Egypt, with Jordan, with Kuwait. Our relations with Iran and Syria also. So Iraqi government is now going to play its role in the Arab world as our founder of the Arab league, and there is no I think any kind of isolation of our government. We are doing our best for this agreement with the United States of America.

I think we have very good (INAUDIBLE) - finalize this agreement as we continue our efforts (INAUDIBLE). Again, I am here to thank our great friend President Bush and Americans for their sacrifice and their support for Iraqi people. Thank you very much.

GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Thank you, Mr. President.

TONY HARRIS, CNN ANCHOR: There you have it, President Bush and Iraq's President Talabani meeting this morning. You heard Iraq's president promising that his government will be able to deliver a new oil raw law and legislation governing the next round of elections in that country. Not much on probably the most important issue on the table now for these two governments, the status of forces agreement to govern the stay of U.S. forces in Iraq once the U.N. mandate expires at the end of the year. The president and President Talabani this morning at the oval office.

Good morning again, everyone. You're informed with CNN. I'm Tony Harris. HEIDI COLLINS, CNN ANCHOR: Hi everybody, I'm Heidi Collins. Developments keep coming into the CNN NEWSROOM on Wednesday, the 25th of June.

Here's what's on the rundown. The Supreme Court, major decisions last hour. Justices say no death penalty for rape.

HARRIS: North Carolina police calling the death of a pregnant soldier suspicious. Her body found at this motel near Ft. Bragg.

COLLINS: The housing crisis hangs on, home sales sink in May. It's issue number one at your front door and in the NEWSROOM.

Breaking developments here in the CNN NEWSROOM. Major decisions from the U.S. Supreme Court. CNN justice correspondent, Kelli Arena, is joining us now from outside the high court.

Kelli, I think the main one here that most people are going to be talking about today is regarding the death penalty for rape.

KELLI ARENA, CNN JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: Absolutely. Absolutely.

The court ruled that it is unconstitutional to put somebody to death for a crime other than murder. If you haven't killed another human being, this ruling essentially says you cannot be put to death and that the case is a very emotional one. It involves a case out of Louisiana. A man was convicted of raping his 8-year-old daughter while she lie in her bed. A horrible, emotional crime to think about, but the justices ruled 5-4, no matter how horrible that was, it does not constitute the death penalty. Justice Kennedy serving in his traditional role as swing voter for this decision as well.

And this decision very much in line, as you know, with other decisions from the high court regarding the death penalty. No death for mentally retarded people. No death penalty for underage killers. No death penalty for people who did not get an adequate defense at trial. Justice Kennedy in writing this decision used terms like "evolving standards of decency," saying there was a national consensus against this kind of punishment. Obviously, death penalty supporters do not like broad, sweeping statements like that.

They have argued that it should be states' rights to determine what crimes constitute the death penalty. But this court very clearly restricting, continuing to restrict, the types of crimes that you can commit that would make you death penalty eligible.

COLLINS: I still get a little confused Kelli when we talk about this national consensus because there are six states who do allow the death penalty for crimes as such.

ARENA: They do. And those states with similar laws, like Texas, Florida, Oklahoma, will be affected by this decision. But it's only a handful of states. The majority of states do not allow death for rape. And you do know that when the polls are done and CNN has done polls like this, there does show that there is a lessening support in this country for the death penalty. COLLINS: Yes, true. Also, we should probably touch just briefly on the decision regarding the Exxon Valdez.

ARENA: Yes. It took a long time for that one.

COLLINS: What was it, just 19 years?

ARENA: Yes, 1989 was when the Exxon oil spill was. That case involved all of those fishermen and cannery workers that were affected by that massive oil spill. After years of going to court, those folks were awarded $2.5 billion in punitive damages by a lower court. That was on top of what Exxon had to spend to pay up and for compensatory damages. What the high court said today was, you know what?

This really is out of line. This punitive damage award, way too high. We think the ratio should be much lower when you're deciding these awards, when you figure it out, it's close to about $500 million that the court is suggesting. It now goes back to the lower court for that court to sort of finish the financial details. A big win for Exxon here.

COLLINS: I didn't realize it went back to the lower court for that. $507 million is the actual damages that were originally estimated.

All right, Kelli Arena, appreciate it as always. Thank you.

ARENA: You're welcome.

HARRIS: 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 held until last night. The three are accused of plotting to blow up fuel lines and tanks at 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 a cargo handler at the airport until 1995 was already in 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 real threat to the airport.

COLLINS: 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. Officials report 25 U.S. troops killed in Iraq so far this month.

The death of a pregnant U.S. soldier described as suspicious. 23-year-old Megan Lynn Touma was a dental specialist with the army's 19th replacement company. Her body found over the weekend in a motel in Fayetteville, North Carolina. Investigators still trying to determine the cause of death. They say Touma was seven months pregnant. She had had arrived at Ft. Bragg from a base in Germany less than two weeks ago.

HARRIS: Mystery in the wilderness. Eleven members of an outward bound group are missing in California central Sierra Nevada mountains. The group of two adults and nine teenagers never met up with a hiking leader 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. The latest with that search. Joining us on the phone is deputy Chris Curtice of the Fresno County Sheriff's department.

If you would, Mr. Curtice, what is the very latest on the search? I suspect you're able to get some manpower closer to the location of the search and maybe a helicopter assist as well.

DEP. CHRIS CURTICE, FRESNO COUNTY SHERIFF'S DEPT.: Yes, our helicopter started flying the area as soon as it was reported yesterday. After that, we had approximately 20 to 25 members of the search and rescue team were up there by last night searching well into the dark. This morning they started before sun-up and we've since activated our jeep squadron. We now have about 35 personnel from the sheriff's department is up there now.

HARRIS: Real simple question -- how is it going?

CURTICE: Well, we haven't found them yet so it's not a successful mission yet.

HARRIS: Have you been able to establish kind of a search grid?

CURTICE: The area that we're searching is approximately 20 to 25 square miles, it's an area that we've searched before on other searches so our team is well aware of it and familiar with the area.

HARRIS: Supplies. How equipped are these hikers? How long can they hold out?

CURTICE: Well, the hikers were out for a two-week climbing and hiking excursion up into this area. They were climbing mountains, that kind of thing. They left on the 14th of June and were scheduled to come back on the 27th, which is Friday. So we're confident that they have supplies at least through this Friday. Hopefully we'll bring it to a successful conclusion today.

HARRIS: OK, Deputy Chris Curtice of the Fresno County Sheriff's Department on the line with us. Thank you for your time. Appreciate it.

COLLINS: Defying the world in the face of growing violence. Zimbabwe's election commission pushing ahead with this week's presidential vote. A live report from the region.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

COLLINS: Weighing in on the election crisis in Zimbabwe. Noble peace laureate Desmond Tutu calls President Robert Mugabe quote, "A kind of Frankenstein." And he says what's happening in Zimbabwe is hard to comprehend.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ARCHBISHOP DESMOND TUTU, NOBEL PEACE LAUREATE: It is a beautiful dream that is degenerating into one of the worst nightmares you could imagine.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

COLLINS: Bishop Tutu is calling on other countries to intervene before Zimbabwe descends into bloodshed. He says President Mugabe has disappointed many who held him in high regards, helping to liberate this country from colonial rulers.

HARRIS: A people beaten, tortured and killed over the presidential election in Zimbabwe. The opposition pulls out. Yet the vote will go on, that decision just a short time ago from Zimbabwe's election commission. Our David McKenzie is following developments from neighboring South Africa. David, it's hard to imagine with no opposition participating that the elections will move forward, but it looks like they will.

DAVID MCKENZIE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: That's right, Tony.

It looks like they will. The election commission saying that they will run this election, though one contender is no longer participating. That person is Morgan Tsvangirai, the head of the opposition. He's saying this decision is both unilateral and arrogant. He spoke to reporters briefly at his home before he fled back to the Dutch Embassy. He's saying the only way forward is negotiation.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

VOICE OF MORGAN TSVANGIRAI, ZIMBABWE OPPOSITION LEADER: It is the principle, that an election is not going to solve our crisis, but some form of negotiation for a limited period is the only way out of this crisis.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MCKENZIE: Tsvangirai called the decision to hold this election on Friday a sham. But it looks like it will go forward and what will happen essentially is that President Robert Mugabe has ruled the country since 1980 with an increasingly iron-like grip will be the next president of the country -- Tony?

HARRIS: OK, David McKenzie for us in Johannesburg, South Africa.

What you don't know about medical myths can kill you. The truth can save your life. The story in the NEWSROOM. (COMMERCIAL BREAK)

COLLINS: Surgery on Tiger Woods' left knee went well. That's what his doctors said today. They repaired a torn ligament, I'm sure you've heard about. Woods won the U.S. Open one week before the surgery despite injuries in that knee and leg. Doctors don't think the surgery will have any long term affects on his ability to play golf. It is the second time in 10 weeks that Woods had an operation on that knee.

Medical myths we've all heard at least one, maybe two. Sometimes maybe many. But you know some of them might actually be true. Others of course could be dead wrong. And that seems to be a bit of a danger regarding your health. Dr. Nancy Snyderman is the author of "Medical Myths that can Kill You." And that's a good title. She's joining me now to talk a little bit more about this.

Nice to see you Dr. Snyderman. Appreciate you being here.

DR. NANCY SNYDERMAN: Hi Heidi, how are you?

COLLINS: I feel pretty good right now that I don't know.

SNYDERMAN: Oh, you'll feel better by the time I leave.

COLLINS: OK, so we all know you as a great TV personality. You've been on quite a few stories that we've watched. But what brought about this book in particular. Is it the misinformation that's out there for the actual consumer if you will?

SNYDERMAN: I think it's really been a culmination of my years as a reporter and as a surgeon. Also, I'm fascinated by the things we think we know and the things we don't. Never before have we had access to so much information. The cyber chatter that's out there. And most of us don't have filters. So the fun myths that are no big deal to the myths I think really can harm people, that's what brought me to this.

COLLINS: Let's go ahead and get to some of them. The book is fantastic. As you thumb through it, you find all kinds of things to stop and think about. You do wonder right off the bat well is that really true or not? Let's put one of them on the screen here because it's certainly something we've talked an awful lot about here on the show and that's vaccinations. Vaccinations are just for kids. I have a 2-month-old baby. We've just gone through this. That's what you think about. You think, you get your shots when you're a baby.

SNYDERMAN: You think about that mode between infancy to toddler hood. Then you sort of forget about it. But the reality is, shots are needed all the way through adulthood. You and I are sort of the first vaccine generation. But we need boosters like Tetanus and now there are increasingly vaccines for adolescents and adults. Everything from the HPV vaccine which can prevent cancer of the cervix. To the newest on the market which is for shingles, which is intended for people 60 and over. So you should at least know what's out there. COLLINS: Yes, definitely know what's out there and still you kind of have to make this decision as to whether or not you want to go ahead and get these shots.

SNYDERMAN: That's correct. Yes I always tell people, I have a bias toward vaccines because I think they've saved so many lives, but some of these are not so much life and death. They're quality of life. You should talk to your doctor about whether the shots make sense for you.

COLLINS: And you just like shots. I mean, I know that.

SNYDERMAN: I do.

COLLINS: Let's look at this one, though. The second one I'm going to put on the screen for you deals with a very serious topic as well, mental illness. I don't even know where something like that comes from. But apparently it's out there. You can just snap out of mental illness.

SNYDERMAN: No, Betty Ford did this country a great service when she talked about substance abuse and depression and certainly opened the door for us to be able to talk about mental illness as a viable problem in this country. And we know you can't separate your brain from the rest of your body. People who are depressed die younger, they are sicker and your mental well-being affects your physical well- being. We have this sort of buck-up bucky mentality in this country. Get over it.

SNYDERMAN: So if you know someone who has phenomenal anxiety or depression or is really feeling hopeless or has talked about suicide, these are issues that require medication, in some instances, but certainly therapy and talking to a family physician.

COLLINS: Very serious topic. I want to get to the third one here as well. Only old people get heart disease and strikes. That's just not true.

SNYDERMANN: Certainly we know at NBC we lost Tim Russert just a little over a week ago and Tim was only 58-years-old. Too young to die. Tim is a great example of that bias that we think, oh, well, a little bit of heart disease, but you'll live to be 70 or 80. You have to know a few things. Your blood pressure, whether you have sugar in your urine, and just something as simple as checking your waist measurement. A woman's waist cannot be bigger than 35 inches, a man's 40 inches. If your waist is bigger than those two things, you're at risk for heart disease. Most heart disease in this country is preventable.

COLLINS: Thirty-five for women, 40 for men. We were just talking about it earlier with Dr. Sanjay Gupta.

SNYDERMANN: Sanjay and I have talked about this before. He and I have seen this escalate and escalate. Now with the new diabetes figures, these are preventable illnesses. In the Atlanta area, it's escalating ahead of the rest of the country's norm. COLLINS: Wow, very interesting. So much to talk with you about. There's another one here I wanted to get to, some kind of interesting, odd ones about ear wax and breast cancer.

SYNDERMANN: Well I just figured the easiest, you don't need eight glasses of water a day.

COLLINS: You do not need to drink eight glasses of water a day either, wow. You're just blowing my whole thing here.

SNYDERMANN: There's your truth for the day.

COLLINS: We appreciate it so much. Dr. Nancy Snydermann, the book is called "Medical Myths that can Kill You." Thanks again for being here. Appreciate it.

Just as a reminder, you can always get your daily dose of health news online. Log on to our Web site, you'll find the latest medical news, a health library and information on diet and fitness. That address, CNN.com/health.

HARRIS: And news on the home front. We will have the latest on the nation's housing crisis and what it means to you.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

HARRIS: This is terrific, OK.

Hi Fred, good to see you Fred. Your home, it may be your biggest nest egg and your greatest concern these days as the housing and mortgage crisis deepen. We have some updates from those beleaguered fronts. CNN personal finance editor Gerri Willis right here in Atlanta with us with the latest developments.

Gerri, great to see you.

GERRI WILLIS, CNN PERSONAL FINANCE EDITOR: Tony, great to see you.

HARRIS: What's going on here?

WILLIS: I wish I had some good news, but I don't really. OK, let's talk about the new home sales first because those are the numbers that are out from the census department. May numbers for new home sales down significantly at 512,000, down 40 percent year over year. Of course, this comes on top of news yesterday from S&P Shiller Weiss, their index of 20 cities, home prices down 15.3 percent year over year. And this is a really, the case in Shiller data it's really premier, it's really good stuff, apples to apples, really tells you what is going on with prices Tony.

HARRIS: I want to ask you about this lawsuit against Countrywide.

WILLIS: Yes.

HARRIS: The state of Illinois taking on Countrywide. What can you tell us about the lawsuit?

WILLIS: This is fascinating and significant because it's really one of the first times that a state has sued Countrywide. Here's what's going on. The Illinois attorney general saying that it is going to file suit against Countrywide and Countrywide executives, saying that the company defrauded borrowers by selling them costly and defective loans. The attorney general's office says the company incentivized workers to sell these questionable loans, gave them bonuses, gave them extra money, extra dough, to sell these loans.

And interesting they're asking for unspecified damages from the company. What's really interesting here is they want some money from the CEO Angelo Mozilo himself. Now, this is, to me, really interesting stuff.

HARRIS: Pretty significant. We know that Countrywide is right now in the process of merging with Bank of America.

WILLIS: Correct.

HARRIS: Tell us why you think this is a real big deal.

WILLIS: Well, as you know, as you're saying, Bank of America is supposed to take over Countrywide and has said that it would continue to use that brand name in the marketplace. But now this problem coming out on top of other issues, you know, we've had Mozilo testifying in front of congress on the issue of pay and we've also had the scandal that broke out just last week in which Countrywide -- there he is right there -- said to offer special sweetheart loans and deals to folks in congress. This has been denied.

HARRIS: Yes. I remember Chris Dodd was involved in that just a bit and came out and denied any special treatment.

WILLIS: He denied special treatment and, of course, the debate continues to rage.

HARRIS: Thank you, Gerri. We know you're here giving a big speech and we had had to hustle you up on set because we love it when you're here and we want to talk to you. Thanks, Gerri.

WILLIS: My pleasure.

COLLINS: Holding off floodwaters on a smaller scale.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Some people are surrounding their homes with their own personal levee systems. Looks like you're on a houseboat.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And feels like it.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Feels like it?

(END VIDEO CLIP)

COLLINS: Life on an island.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

HARRIS: Breaking news today from the nation's highest court. In a 5-4 ruling, the Supreme Court bans the death penalty for child rapists. The justices concluded capital punishment is reserved for murderers. The ruling stemmed from the case of a 43-year-old man convicted and sentenced to die for raping his eight-year-old stepdaughter.

In a separate case, the high court reduced the $2.5 billion damage award in the 1989 Exxon Valdez oil spill off Alaska. The court ruled that punitive damages should not exceed what Exxon has already paid to compensate victims of the disaster, that's about $500 million.

COLLINS: People beaten, tortured and killed over the presidential election in Zimbabwe. The opposition pulls out. Yet the vote will go on. CNN's Isha Sesay is joining us now from the international desk.

Good morning to you once again, Isha.

ISHA SESAY, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Good morning to you, Heidi.

We're working out here on the international desk to get all angles covered on this story. Suffice it to say that the campaign of intimidation and brutality that has overshadowed the run up to this vote on Friday has drawn widespread condemnation from right around the world. On Tuesday, the British Prime Minister Gordon Brown summed up much of the world's opinion on the regime of Robert Mugabe.

Let's listen to what he has to say.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

GORDON BROWN, BRITISH PRIME MINISTER: I believe that the whole world has woken up to the evils that have been going on in Zimbabwe. I believe that the whole international community with a few exceptions is now united in calling for action. But what we want to see is an end to the violence and a peaceful transition in Zimbabwe. And that's why the efforts of the African union and the United Nations are so important and we will support them in their efforts and offer the Zimbabwe people help with reconstruction once democracy is restored.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SESAY: Well, Heidi, it's important to note that President Mugabe and his ruling Zanu-PF party appear to be ignoring the critics. Rallies we showed you yesterday, they held rallies outside of Harare and they continue the campaigning, saying that this vote will still take place on Friday. But Morgan Tsvangirai, who's taken refuge in the Dutch embassy, he held a news conference earlier on on Tuesday. He left the Dutch Embassy briefly, holding this conference at his home.

Let's listen to what he had to say.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MORGAN TSVANGIRAI, OPPOSITION LEADER: It's the principle, an election is not going to solve our crisis, but some form of negotiation is over, some form of this (INAUDIBLE) for a limited period in order to is the only way out of this crisis.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SESAT: So, Morgan Tsvangirai saying that an election will not solve Zimbabwe's problems. Much of the world looking at Africa to take charge of this problem, looking for them to bring the situation in Zimbabwe under control. The Southern African Development Community is holding an extraordinary meeting. It's security troika is meeting in Swaziland. We are carefully monitoring the situation there. And we will, of course, bring you the very latest if and when they make a statement at the end of that meeting.

Back to you, Heidi.

COLLINS: Any idea, Isha, what could happen in that meeting?

SESAY: Up until now, the Southern African Development Community known as SADC has again refused to come out and openly condemn Robert Mugabe. The March 29 elections which were held and led to this runoff elections had numerous problems. The MDC said there that they had won but that the electoral commission was biased to Zanu-PF. Now, they held a meeting at that point in time, SADC. They didn't come out with anything at that point, they just urged the electoral commission to, you know, release those results on time.

So basically nobody has high hopes. It should be said that SADC will at this point in time come out with a strong statement against Mugabe. But you know, we could be surprised. We will be monitoring the situation.

COLLINS: Yes. I hope we are surprised. That's for sure.

Isha Sesay, thanks so much. Appreciate it.

HARRIS: An 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 more days. The town protected by the only earthen levee in county that 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.

Some residents of flooded neighbors are thinking outside the box to stay inside their homes.

Here's CNN's Gary Tuchman.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

GARY TUCHMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: As the water rises in Winfield, Missouri, and more neighborhoods turn into Mississippi River tributaries, I walked down a submerged street where homeowners are taking matters into their own hands. How you doing? How come you're still at the house? There's water all over the place.

GRANT KEAY, WINFIELD RESIDENT: No water in here.

TUCHMAN: No water in there? Some people are surrounding their homes with their own personal levee systems. Looks like you're on a houseboat.

KEAY: Yes. Kind of feels like it.

TUCHMAN: Feels like it? Grant Keay's house looks like a cork in a bath tub that's surrounded by water. But he has 110 tons of sand around his home. Your levee system has protected your house.

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

TUCHMAN: You're staying for good no matter what.

KEAY: Sure. I'm not leaving.

TUCHMAN: Down the street, I have to climb a ladder over the levee that Charlie Carson has built over his house. He has spent more than $2,500 to try to keep the water out.

CHARLIE CARSON, WINFIELD RESIDENT: In '93, we had ten inches of water in here. 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: I'm here to stay.

TUCHMAN: You may send your family out if it gets to the point.

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

TUCHMAN: Same sentiments as Grant Keay, who nonchalantly casts a fishing line off his porch after we say good-bye.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

COLLINS: He has an idea in his mind. He is sticking to it. That's for sure. Jacqui Jeras standing by now to talk a little bit more about the situation there.

That guy is ready to see more rain.

JACQUI JERAS, AMS METEOROLOGIST: If it works, you know. Hey, why not? Good for him. Hopefully, it will stay that way.

Yes, there's been a lot of rain in this area earlier today. You know, the Winfield levee we've been talking is just on the brink. You know, it could go either way. And they're real concerned about it. They have like a muskrat bore a hole through it. Yesterday, you saw a little bit of a leak in that area. It also had a little slide on the levee as well, about a two-and-a-half foot slide came on down because it's so saturated.

Think of it like a landslide, right. So, the ground becomes unstable and so they're doing everything they can to hold that levee. And they say as much as a two-inch weight. That's all it could potentially to make that levee go. So, they're hopeful. And they're really watching that.

Here's the rain that we're talking about in north eastern Missouri. It's finally beginning to pull out of the area now. And it's been incredibly heavy, it's moved over many of the flooded areas. And there you can see we're going to put some numbers on here for you. This is our weather system estimating how much rain has fallen in the last 12 hours. But if you take a look at the numbers from 24 hours out, it's not so much like two to four inches, we're seeing more like four to eight inches in some of these localized spots.

Here are specifics for you and these are in north central Missouri. So this is not over that flood part. But some of it could run off towards that area, 8.5 inches there in Linneus, Missouri; Atlanta, Missouri had nearly six inches, almost six as well in Novelty. Browning had about 4.5 and 3.5 in Trenton. So you certainly don't want to see that. Unfortunately, that's starting to pull out.

But right now, that amount of rain should be accounted into the flood forecast. And we're not seeing that cause an additional rise at this time. So hopefully it won't do that. But it might kind of prolong that high level. So, we're still looking at, even though many of these places have crested, they're still going to be well into flood a week down the line or so. Northern Illinois here across the Chicagoland area, you've been kind of getting spotty wet on and off, for today, causing some delays at the airports there. Not too much fun, but you'll be seeing some of that heavier wet weather, we'd like to see some wet heavier wet weather across parts of the southwest.

A little moisture down in northern Mexico making its way to the north now. But we think that that moisture is going to stay in the midlevels of the atmosphere.

We'll have enough instability that we'll get thunderstorms developing. But all that moisture is going to evaporate before it ever gets to the surface. So, these are what we're going to see this afternoon. It's going to be critical fire danger areas because of these dry thunderstorms. And of course, the fires continue to rage across parts of California, guys. And the air quality, just ugly across all of California.

Code red for a lot of folks and we're also seeing some code reds and code oranges across parts of the southeast because the heat is starting to build a little bit here too and the air becoming rather stagnant. So, don't go outdoors between 3:00 and 6:00.

COLLINS: No problem on my part.

Thank you very much, Jacqui.

Let me get back to this story, an upsetting one too. Six people killed in a workplace shooting that 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, then saw the shooter come back inside and fire at co- workers. Police say the shooter turned the gun on himself. We don't know right now if the supervisor was among those killed. And police have not said how or when the shooter got the gun.

HARRIS: 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 held until last night. The three are accused of plotting to blow up fuel lines and tanks at 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 a cargo handler at the airport until 1995 was already in U.S. custody. All four say they are innocent. Their lawyers add the men are victims of government entrapment and there never was any real threat to the airport.

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 8 percentage points. 12 percent of those polled say they are still unsure. The poll of polls average five national surveys of registered voters taken June 17th through June 23rd. Last week Obama held a six-point advantage.

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

Barack Obama speaks 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 at a celebrity-packed fund-raiser in L.A. Obama is directing his finance team to help former rival Hillary Clinton to pay off her campaign debt.

HARRIS: And time to take a look at some at some of the most clicked on videos at CNN.com. Barack Obama is puckering up. He leads in campaign baby smooching.

Mexico City police are accused of touching off a deadly stampede in a botch nightclub raid. Plus, some parents are getting held paying their rent just by keeping their kids in school. And for more of your favorite video, just go to CNN.com/most popular. And of course, don't forget to take us with you anywhere on your iPod with the CNN daily podcast available 24/7 right on your iPod.

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HARRIS: Hey, you are just moments away from "ISSUE #1" where you will get the latest news on the money issues impacting your bottom line. We're talking housing, savings, investment, gas prices. And how about this, decision day for the Fed. What, if anything, will it do with interest rates? "ISSUE #1" at noon Eastern, just minutes away right here on CNN.

COLLINS: Paving over a pollution problem in Chicago. Storm water running off city streets and alleys contributes to pollution in Lake Michigan. The city is installing a solution, a pavement that's full of air.

CNN Miles O'Brien takes a look.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

MILES O'BRIEN, CNN CHIEF TECHNOLOGY & ENVIRONMENT CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): In Chicago, even the darkest alleys are turning green, resurfaced with some concrete and asphalt that leaks like a sieve on purpose.

BRIAN LUTEY, V.P. OZINGA GREEN BUILDING: It's made with the same materials as regular concrete but it's got 20 percent voids.

O'BRIEN: The voids are there to avoid a big problem. Chicago is the ultimate alley town, 1900 miles of them. The largest network in the world. And the older ones were not designed to allow storm water to naturally percolate into the ground. The new concrete does.

LUTEY: It filters through the material and microbes and fungus grow in here and it becomes a biosystem that actually eats the oil and grease that rip off the car that comes from the asphalt.

O'BRIEN: Older alleys send polluted rainwater to storm drains. They get overwhelmed and the dirty water goes straight back into Lake Michigan. Not so with green alleys.

LUTEY: It gets the water back in the ground, gets it there clean so it gets the water into the ground where our wells get recharged. Lake Michigan gets recharged and we're not overpowering the sewer system with all this storm water runoff.

O'BRIEN: So far they have greened 34 Chicago alleys, 36 more are on the way. And one more thing - these lighter colored alleys reflect a lot more light, making the city a little cooler and the alleys not so dark after all.

Miles O'Brien, CNN. (END VIDEOTAPE)

HARRIS: Let's get another market in check now. Susan Lisovicz is at the New York Stock Exchange with details for us this morning.

Susan, what are you watching this hour?

SUSAN LISOVICZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, you know, I'm watching a modest rally that we're seeing in stocks. But really the story of the morning is the big decline in oil prices. Right now, down more than $4.50, still historically high, above $133 a barrel, but that is because we saw a decline -- or rather, a gain in the weekly inventory report this morning. And we were expecting a decline so a sharp drop in oil prices. And of course, the Federal Reserve decision in just a couple of hours on interest rates, in other words, what it costs for us to borrow money.

Widely expected on Wall Street that the Fed will stand pat at 2 percent. The federal fund rate is historically low. The Fed worried about inflation but also still worried that the economy is in such a fragile state that it does not want to hike interest rates even though inflation remains a big problem -- Tony.

HARRIS: So we're seeing some buying or some selling so far?

LISOVICZ: We're seeing some buying.

HARRIS: OK.

LISOVICZ: We're seeing some buying -- and -- we're seeing some, you know, the three major averages are in the green. Of course, we have the Fed decision a couple of hours away, likely to, you know, get a little volatile as everybody parsing through the statement that accompanies the decision. But right now we got a rally. And as I mentioned, a sharp drop in oil prices.

HARRIS: All right.

Susan, good to see you. Thank you, lady.

And still to come -- the bride was a man. Same-sex couple gets married in a state with no same-sex marriage law.

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COLLINS: Exchanging vows. A little more complex nowadays. In one state with no same-sex marriage law, two men are in trouble for getting hitched.

CNN's Carol Costello reports.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

CAROL COSTELLO, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): We've come a long way, baby. Marriage isn't as simple as it once was. In California and Massachusetts, men marry men and women wed women. And if you tuned into Oprah recently, men who were once women are married and pregnant. Scenarios leading to some confusing times in 48 states without same-sex marriage laws.

Virginia is wrestling with a case of that now. Same sex marriage violates Virginia's constitution. Yet two men managed to get married in Norfolk. This woman told our affiliate one of them was her brother.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Apparently he was dressed like a woman?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: That's probably true.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Tell me about that?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Well, I have nothing to say on that.

COSTELLO: This isn't the first time Virginia has wrestled with this problem. Norfolk marriage Commissioner Reid Carawan.

REID CARAWAN, NORFOLK MARRIAGE COMMISSIONER: He looked like a female. Had the license. Then when the guy came back and wanted a divorce later, found out he was a female.

COSTELLO: In the latest case, the bride, 18-year-old Justin McCain dressed as a woman and called himself Justine. It wasn't until he returned to court to legally change his name to something more feminine that officials caught on. Now Virginia authorities may press charges.

MARA KEISLING, NATIONAL CENTER FOR TRANSGENDER SEXUALITY: That's ridiculous, mean spirited. And frankly if I were a resident of that county I think I'd be embarrassed. Hopefully the prosecutor has much more important things to do than to pick on some poor 18-year-old who just wanted to get married.

COSTELLO: It's unclear if McCain is in the process of becoming a woman. He's in hiding. But Rex Davis, the clerk of Newport News circuit court told our affiliate, "I have spoken with him and told him same sex marriages are not legal in Virginia. He told me he thought they were. I told him to bring me the marriage certificate and that would be a favorable step in the situation." He has yet to return it.

Virginia has taken to make sure there are no future misunderstandings. Instead of couples listing their names beside bride and groom on their marriage license applications they now will list their names beside female applicant and male applicant.

COSTELLO (on-camera): In case you're wondering, most transgendered people go to court to legally change their sex on their driver's licenses and their birth certificates. That way they have no problems when they want to get married.

Carol Costello, CNN, Washington.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

HARRIS: Now pitching for the Chicago Cubs, number 93, aged 93, this fan has a wicked sinker.

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HARRIS: Thrill of a lifetime. 93-year-old Loretta Dolan threw the first pitch at last night's Cubs-Orioles game at Rigley. Not too shabby, huh? Dolan, a big Cubs' fan. She has score cards from hundreds of games through the years. Knowing how much she loved the game, her family won an online auction and that put her on the mound. Nice job.

COLLINS: Yes. I should say not too shabby. Excellent. Good for her.

CNN NEWSROOM continues just one hour from now.

HARRIS: "ISSUE #1" with John Roberts starts right now.