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President Bush Prepares to Sign Iraq War Funding Bill; Chicago Firefighter Shot in the Line of Duty; Coming Home From War to Homelessness; Stock Market Struggles Through Rising Oil and Gas Prices
Aired June 30, 2008 - 09:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
HEIDI COLLINS, CNN ANCHOR: You are in the CNN NEWSROOM. Good morning, everybody. I'm Heidi Collins. Tony has the day off.
See events come into the NEWSROOM live this Monday, June 30.
Here's what's on the rundown.
Oil and gas prices crossing into record territory today. Stocks flirting with the bear. Trading 30 minutes away.
President Bush signs a new war funding bill live this hour. Plus, the army critiques its tactics after the Iraq invasion.
And baby with a warranty. Doctors guarantee a girl won't get hereditary breast cancer. Gene play, in the NEWSROOM.
Taking a look at Iraq today. Special reports from the war zone as we get ready for President Bush to sign that new war funding bill. We're going to bring you that live this hour.
But our top story today, "ISSUE #1," the economy. The opening bell just 30 minutes away, and after last week's beating, how will the markets react today?
Our Susan Lisovicz is just seconds away with an update, plus senior business correspondent Ali Velshi is live in New York right now. He'll be looking at the effects of rising oil prices.
As you know investors are bracing for another rocky day on Wall Street.
Susan Lisovicz at the New York Stock Exchange with a look at what to expect.
Susan, Thumbs up? Thumbs down?
SUSAN LISOVICZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Down, unfortunately.
And you know that's something we've seen a lot in this month of June. This is the final trading day of June. Investors will be happy to close the book on the month. The Dow lost 10 percent, or about 1300 points, and we are expecting another weak open. Not anything severe, but indicative of the negative sentiment that is so rampant here. On Friday the Blue Chips crossed into bear market territory, a 20 percent drop from its recent high. It closed just 15 points above that level Friday.
Expect a volatile session from something known as portfolio dressing --traders adjusting ahead of quarterly reports.
Record high oil prices continue to pressure stocks. Ali, of course, will have more on that in just a minute. Investors are concerned how that will rein in consumer spending and corporate profits in an economy already battered by the housing crisis and credit crunch.
Just one economic report today in about 45 minutes on manufacturing. The major news comes out Thursday. The monthly employment report, another decline in jobs is expected. The labor market has lost jobs every month this year -- Heidi.
COLLINS: Boy, oh, boy. All right, Susan, we'll check back later with you for all of that.
Also, don't let your mutual fund bleed you dry.
Gerri Willis is going to be dropping by with tips for hanging on to your money during these tough times and this may be one of the best times to invest.
Meanwhile, we want to get back to Ali Velshi standing by in our New York bureau, keeping an eye on oil and gas prices this morning, which, again, they are up.
ALI VELSHI, CNN SENIOR BUSINESS CORRESPONDENT: Yes, like they are almost every time we talk. I almost forget that we're sometimes together when oil prices are down.
You know, some days. Heidi, they're up and we can't seem to find an explanation. In other days there are real reasons. So oil was up above $140 when it closed on Friday and then this morning it surged past $142, then past $143, up to $143.67.
Now there was some news behind this. And that is that, in Nigeria, there was an attack on a Shell oil facility. After a few hours it was sort of learned that no oil would be -- you know, no production would be stopped so oil has actually settled down a bit, we're still above $142.
Nigeria is very important. It's a major oil producer in the world. And in fact, it is the fourth largest producer of oil -- or supplier of oil to the United States after Canada, Saudi Arabia and Mexico. It's a much bigger supplier than Venezuela is. So we have some real issues that caused the price of oil to be higher this morning.
But just to give you some perspective, Heidi, we started the year with oil at about $95 or so. When we hit $142.98, which it blew through this morning, that means oil is up 50 percent just for this half of the year. So in half a year we've gained 50 percent in oil. We also got an increase in gas prices, again, $4.08 a gallon.
And you just think about these things. Nothing else in your life is up 50 percent. Your salary is not up 50 percent. Your investments are not earning 50 percent. That's a very big deal.
COLLINS: That's for sure.
VELSHI: And oil is the lifeblood of this country.
COLLINS: Yes, it is. I filled up over the weekend and I'm not even going to tell you how much I paid. It's brutal.
VELSHI: Yes, it hurts, doesn't it, these days. Yes.
COLLINS: Yes. It really does.
All right, Ali Velshi, "Minding Our Business." Thank you, Ali.
COLLINS: To Iran now. U.S. commandos in Iran. A reporter says the White House is pushing the buttons on secret missions and the consequences could be serious.
CNN senior Pentagon Jamie McIntyre live in Washington for us this morning.
Good morning to you, Jamie. What's this all about?
JAMIE MCINTYRE, CNN SENIOR PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT: Good morning, Heidi.
You know it's not clear what the U.S. is doing in Iran, but sources tell CNN that it has more to do with destabilizing or undermining the Iranian government than uncovering nuclear secrets.
MCINTYRE (voice-over): The allegation that U.S. special ops commandos have been conducting covert operations into Iran from southern Iraq drew a quick and unequivocal denial from the U.S. ambassador to Baghdad.
RYAN CROCKER, U.S. AMBASSADOR TO BAGHDAD: I can tell you flatly that U.S. forces are not operating across the Iraqi border into Iran in the south or anywhere else.
MCINTYRE: But investigative reporter Seymour Hersh, who's "New Yorker" magazine article claims the efforts are part of a $400 million covert campaign to destabilize Iran's government, argues the operations are so super secret, Ambassador Crocker may be out of the loop. SEYMOUR HERSH, "NEW YORKER" MAGAZINE: He may not know the extent to which we're operating deeply, with commands are not so much with special forces inside Iran. So it's possible, because he's not somebody -- he'll spin it but he's not somebody who won't say something he doesn't believe.
MCINTYRE: It's not the first time Hersh has reported the U.S. has spies inside Iran. And senior Pentagon officials have hinted to CNN that CIA and other highly classified operations are conducted from time to time in the Islamic republic, but they have never confirmed it.
In a statement, the CIA said, as a rule, it does not comment on allegations regarding covert operations. But some members of Congress were not so quick to dismiss the idea of the U.S. working secretly in Iran to stop its meddling in Iraq.
SEN. JOE LIEBERMAN (I), CONNECTICUT: I think we should be doing whatever we can to let the Iranians know they can't continue this and not expect us to take some action against them on this basis.
MCINTYRE: Hersh says some of the U.S. forces operating in Iran may be coming from the other border -- Afghanistan. And he suggests their mission is, in part, to gather intelligence about Iran's suspected nuclear weapons program, possibly to lay the groundwork for a military strike.
MCINTYRE: But Pentagon officials, who won't be identified because of the highly classified nature of the effort, suggest that what's going on here is a bit of a tit for tat. That is, the U.S. is trying to do to Iran what Iran is doing to the U.S. in Iraq, namely, supporting the forces that are attempting to oppose and destabilize the central government.
They're trying to cause trouble for Iran to try to convince it to stop causing trouble for the U.S. in Iraq -- Heidi?
COLLINS: Yes, and I imagine the Pentagon and other forces are definitely going to want to keep these types of operations, special ops, you know, secret or covert anyway.
Are we talking about cross-border raids here?
MCINTYRE: Well, you know, a lot of times what they're talking about -- first of all, it's not clear that some of these involve U.S. military forces. They could be CIA operatives. It's also not clear to what extent some of these operations, quote, "across the border" are actually through intermediaries who are working across the border but are having an effect in Iran.
Obviously, the U.S. is doing a lot more to try to achieve its goals of changing the behavior of the Iranian government than it's saying publicly. And these kinds of operations are just shrouded in mystery. And often it's years before we ever find out what really happened.
COLLINS: Yes, typically seems to be the case there. All right, CNN senior Pentagon correspondent Jamie McIntyre.
Jamie, thank you.
We should learn more about the collision of two medical helicopters when investigators give a briefing at noon Eastern today. At least six people were killed, one critically injured when the choppers collided in Flagstaff, Arizona yesterdays.
No one on the ground was hurt.
The collisions sparked at 100-acre fire that was contained by the evening.
We're going to get a live report from the scene coming up next hour.
And over to Rob Marciano now in the Weather Center for us with more on what is happening across the country. We've got all kind of things firing up today.
COLLINS: Yes, I hope so. Boy, I heard about that air show in Huntsville.
ROB MARCIANO, CNN METEOROLOGIST: Yes, it was nasty.
COLLINS: That was awful.
All right, Rob, we appreciate it.
MARCIANO: All right. Sure.
COLLINS: A baby guaranteed not to get one form of cancer. How doctors say they did it, coming up in the NEWSROOM.
COLLINS: Welcome back, everybody. I'm Heidi Collins. You are in the CNN NEWSROOM.
Baghdad's CSI team always called into action but lately it has a lot of down time. We'll tell you why.
COLLINS: This morning Nelson Mandela and a group of former world leaders calling Zimbabwe president Robert Mugabe's election clearly illegitimate.
CNN's Nkepile Mabuse in Johannesburg, South Africa for us this morning.
Nkepile, the very latest?
NKEPILE MABUSE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Heidi, observed these elections -- African election observers on the ground have said the election on June 27th was not free and fair. The world and the continent is looking to these African leaders that are meeting in Egypt today and tomorrow to make a very, very strong statement and reject those elections.
But we're unlikely to see African leaders use words such as illegitimate or anything very forthright and very strong. They are more likely to support President Thabo Mbeki of South Africa's approach of trying to form some kind of transitional government, some national government of national unity in Zimbabwe between Robert Mugabe's party and the opposition MDC in that country -- Heidi?
COLLINS: All right. We'll be watching this one closely today as we've been trying to do here all along. And always appreciate your reporting.
Thanks so much, Nkepile.
Violence is down and security improving in Iraq. In the latest security reports submitted to Congress this month shows major violence is down 40 percent to 80 percent from levels seen before the so-called surge. And total security incidents have fallen to the lowest level in more than four years.
The report goes on to say coalition and Iraqi forces have reduced al Qaeda in Iraq ability to launch attacks. But the report points out the group still poses a major threat.
You might call them Baghdad's CSI. U.S. forces who investigate and disable explosive devices in Iraq. Crucial but dangerous work, of course.
As CNN's Morgan Neill reports, better security in Iraq means less work for the team.
MORGAN NEILL, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Theirs is one of the most dangerous jobs in Iraq. But, thankfully, today is a slow day.
Today these members of the Explosives Ordnance Disposal or EOD team are working on their jump shops shots, instead of investigating mortars or disabling improvised explosives.
Inside their compound an assorted collection of weapons they put out of action -- a reminder of the dangers of their work and the ingenuity of their enmity. But these days the enemy is less active. That means at times so is the EOD team.
(on camera): Since we've been here, the company spent a lot of its time waiting, waiting for the next call. The soldiers said they don't mind. Fewer calls mean fewer explosives are being found. Nevertheless, it isn't easy.
STAFF SGT. LEWIN LALL, U.S. ARMY: The days will just go by because we get up, we do a couple of incidents, and then it's nighttime, we go to sleep and we start all over. But then it just seems like it takes forever for a month to be done with.
NEILL (voice-over): While structuring your time isn't usually a problem in the army, the nature of their work means the EOD team can be on call for long stretches. But when the call comes, this time just after midnight, they're ready.
LT. TODD BYRANT, U.S. ARMY: The call came in, it's 4107 rockets. They're reporting wires coming from them. So they have to always think possible booby trap or IED of some sort. So we'll assess the situation once we get there.
NEILL: They're on their way to Baghdad's jihad neighborhood, an area that's seen some of the city's worst violence. At the scene, the four rockets apparently set to be fired using fuses and a battery.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What happened was it was buried in someone's backyard and they called it up. And when they call it up, we responded. Dig it up and saw exactly what it was.
NEILL: The rockets are packed up, destined for disposal or investigation. And just before 3:00 a.m., the call is over.
Weapons and explosives are constantly being discovered here. Disarming and disposing of them will take years. But if violence continues to go down there will likely be more slow days for units like this one and more pickup games.
LALL: By the time we leave, I think we're going to be really good at sports.
NEILL: That might be the best thing for everyone here.
Morgan Neill, CNN, Baghdad.
COLLINS: The Iraq War, perhaps the most important foreign policy issue in the 2008 election. We want to hear from those of you directly affected by the war. Tell us the most important thing the next president needs to know about it.
If you have the chance, what would you show or say to the next president about the war? Share your stories and your photos at i- report.com/Iraq.
Brave new world. A baby that will never develop an inherited form of cancer.
Elizabeth Cohen with the story in a moment. (COMMERCIAL BREAK)
COLLINS: Fascinating story now. A British woman is said to be carrying the first baby guaranteed to be free from an inherited form of breast cancer.
Medical correspondent Elizabeth Cohen is here now to talk a little bit more about that.
All right, so how do they do this?
ELIZABETH COHEN, CNN MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: It's really fascinating technology, Heidi. What they do is this couple went to a fertility clinic and they created a number of embryos and then tested the embryos to see if they carried the breast cancer gene.
And they only used embryos that did not carry the breast cancer gene. The other ones were left in the lab. And that way they could be guaranteed that they would have a baby who did not have the so- called BRACA gene.
Now this baby could still get breast cancer later in life. That's still possible. This baby just won't get that particular form of breast cancer.
COLLINS: All right. There's probably a lot of people out there saying this seems like a slippery slope. What other things can you really control when you're talking about DNA here? Are we talking blonde-hair, blue-eyed, really, really smart babies?
COHEN: Right, people have raised the specter of, say, someone wants a genius baby, and so they say, let's test our embryos and only implant the ones that have the genius gene.
Well, there is no genius gene, and you can't have that.
COLLINS: I thought I had that.
COHEN: Sorry. I'm sure you do.
COLLINS: No. No.
COHEN: However -- and the doctors I talked to said you can't go in and create a blonde-hair or blue-eye baby. It's not technologically possible. So one day if it became technologically possible, would there be a rush to fertility clinics to do this?
Maybe. But right now it's not an issue. Right now you can do things like look for cystic fibrosis, look for Huntington's disease...
COHEN: ... or one of the breast cancer genes. But beyond that, you really can't do that.
COLLINS: Well, thank God for those, though. I mean, obviously, that...
COHEN: Absolutely. Life-saving. Life-saving. Right.
COLLINS: ... would be a priority, we're talking about health.
All right. Well, we appreciate it. Medical correspondent Elizabeth Cohen, thank you.
We are, of course, watching Wall Street today. Opening bell about to ring in just a few minutes. We're going to go live to the New York Stock Exchange for that.
COLLINS: After months of wrangling with Congress, President Bush about to sign a new bill to pay for the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.
We'll have live coverage for it 9:50 Eastern right here in the NEWSROOM.
Welcome back, everybody. I'm Heidi Collins.
Firefighters still trying to get a handle on more than 1,000 wildfires in northern California. We've been talking about them for days now. It seems more than 550 square miles have been charred. Dozens of homes already burned and hundreds more are in danger now.
In fact, at this moment, there are more than 18,000 firefighters on the frontlines and President Bush issued an emergency decree for seven California counties, opening the way for federal help to fight those fires.
CNN meteorologist Rob Marciano standing by now with a look at this and the rest of the weather across the country.
Hey there, Rob.
COLLINS: Still can't believe we're talking about like a thousand fires or so.
MARCIANO: Yes, we're just kind of sliding into wildfire season there.
In California they go -- it goes right through October.
MARCIANO: So they've got a long time to go.
COLLINS: Boy, I sure hope not. They've had enough of that out there, that's for sure.
All right, Rob, thank you. We'll check back later on.
Meanwhile, want to get this to you right now. It's a story we've been following, actually, since yesterday. That terrible midair collision between two medical helicopters. Happened in Flagstaff, Arizona.
We are just now learning that the NTSB has sent their go-team to the crash scene. This often happens, quite frankly, when they just don't know what happened out there. So they're trying to figure that out.
You may know the story here at least six people are dead. There is one critical injury. We are staying on top of this for you. But usually those go-teams consist of three or four to more than a dozen specialists coming in from the board headquarters, the staff there at Washington, D.C.
So they go and try to figure out exactly what may have happened. We'll stay on top of that story for you, of course.
Oil driving the markets again this morning following a tough week on Wall Street. Time for the opening bell just a few seconds away.
Our Susan Lisovicz is at the New York Stock Exchange with that.
Good morning once again, Susan.
LISOVICZ: Good morning, Heidi.
The opening bell just rang a few seconds ago. Yes. On the final trading day of June, a month in which Dow, the most closely watched stock index in the world lost 10 percent, or 1,300 points. And we are expecting a modest sell-off at the start of the session.
Checking the numbers, that's what we're seeing. You know, it's pretty flat, actually. This is a holiday-shortened week on Wall Street. The major economic report comes Thursday with the June jobs report. Remember the U.S. economy has lost jobs every month this year.
If you want to check the big board right now, the Dow is wobbling around where it ended on Friday. So not a lot of action in early trading. But we are expecting a manufacturing report in about 15 minutes. And that may influence the market.
One analyst wrote in today's report that energy, jobs and earnings are all potential market movers. Oil prices hit another high, above $143 a barrel earlier today.
And of course the Dow crossed into bear market territory on Friday. Closed just 15 points above that level. So, Heidi, the Dow is actually positive right now. But we're expecting a volatile session because it's the final trading day of the quarter as well.
COLLINS: Yes. Yes. All right. Well, we are watching the numbers, keeping our fingers crossed as usual. Appreciate it. Thank you, Susan.
LISOVICZ: You're welcome.
COLLINS: A fellow soldier has been named a person of interest in the death of a pregnant service woman. The body of Specialist Megan Lynn Touma was found in a motel room one week ago. The Army says the soldier training at Fort Bragg is the person of interest. Military officials say they are not aware of any charges being filed.
A Fayetteville, North Carolina, newspaper published a letter from someone claiming responsibility for Touma's death. Authorities think the letter was written to try to mislead investigators and the media.
After months of wrangling with Congress, President Bush about to sign a new bill to pay for the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. Live coverage for you coming up 9:50 Eastern right here in the NEWSROOM.
But first, we want to talk a little bit more about energy prices. We're all talking about it every day, it seems. If it's got you down, go green and pocket the savings.
Ali Velshi has some tips that are "Right on Your Money." We're going to bring it to you, actually, after we take a quick break. We'll be back.
VELSHI (voice-over): Going green and saving green now go hand in hand with fuel prices rising, mass transit isn't only a way to pinch some pennies; it's also a great way to reduce your carbon footprint.
HOWARD GOULD, ECO-ENTREPRENEUR: I think that the idea of using mass transit is probably the number one thing that most people and commuters need to think about and that could be, you know, taking a train. Trains are actually really not that bad for the environment or now we're actually putting in buses that run on hydro. You know, or think about getting a hybrid car.
VELSHI: Another way to save and stay green this summer, power down.
GOULD: Fact is that power is still running through to appliances when they're still there.
VELSHI: You could save up to $50 on your yearly electric bill just by unplugging appliances like your computer, microwave, and cellphone charger when they're not in use.
And that's this week's "Right on Your Money."
COLLINS: Checking the political headlines now. Barack Obama and Bill Clinton, word coming from the Clinton camp, the former president will sit down with Obama sometime in the next few days. They are also denying reports Bill Clinton is upset with Obama.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TERRY MCAULIFFE, HILLARY CLINTON CAMPAIGN CHAIRMAN: As it relates to Barack Obama, he will go 24/7. He is fine. Is he somewhat angry, as I am and others, at some of the treatment Hillary received from the press? Sure. But you know, that's life. We don't talk about it anymore. We're past that.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COLLINS: John McCain met with the Reverend Bill Graham and his son, Franklin, at their home in North Carolina yesterday. McCain said he appreciated the chance to meet with the influential evangelical. But McCain is back on the trail today with a couple of events in Pennsylvania. We'll keep our eye on those for you.
Barack Obama will be speaking to voters in Independence, Missouri, today.
Evangelicals and the presidential election, a new movement putting an old voting bloc up for grabs.
CNN's Kate Bolduan has the story.
KATE BOLDUAN, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Call them political misfits, but post religious rights or even the next evangelicals, no matter the label, these voters are anything but easy to define.
SHANE CLAIBORNE, AUTHOR, "JESUS FOR PRESIDENT": We have found the light of the world. We found the hope of the planet and it burns much brighter than McCain or Obama or America. Amen.
BOLDUAN: Shane Claiborne is the perfect example. We caught up with Claiborne, a Christian activist and author on his book tour in Pittsburgh, the title says it all, "Jesus for President."
CLAIBORNE: Over and over, we are hearing things like, "I knew there was more to Christianity than what I saw on TV than televangelists and patriotic pastors and cover up bishops."
BOLDUAN: He represents a new movement of young evangelical voters. They care about traditional issues like abortion and gay marriage, but say their agenda is far broader -- poverty, social justice, and the environment are moving to the forefront.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Through the kingdom of the poor and broken.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's getting harder and harder to find good grease.
BOLDUAN: Claiborne's tour bus even runs on veggie oil.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And it's cheap.
BOLDUAN: In 2004, about three-fourths of the evangelical voters supported George Bush. A solid voting bloc political analysts say may not be such a lock this year because of these young evangelicals.
WILLIAM SCHNEIDER, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: The impact is likely to be that they will dilute the evangelical support for the Republican Party. The evangelical vote will be more up for grabs than it has in many years.
AMANDA WIDING, UNDECIDED VOTER: I'm very undecided. I feel like there are certain issues where I identify more with the Republicans and others where I identify more with the Democrats.
STEPH WALKER, YOUNG EVANGELICAL: I grew up in a very Republican family but my growth and my faith, it's kind of move to different direction.
BOLDUAN: Back on tour, Shane Claiborne say's it's more about how you live your life November 3rd and 5th, than how you vote on November 4th on Election Day.
CLAIBORNE: What a lot of us are doing is trying to learn from the mistakes of the generation that's come before us and go. But we're not going to endorse a candidate or a party. This is not about going left or right, but going deeper.
BOLDUAN: Kate Bolduan, CNN, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.
COLLINS: Your thoughts on the war in Iraq. What you think the next president of the United States should know before taking office. Veronica De La Cruz has your I-reports, coming up next, in the NEWSROOM.
COLLINS: Quick reminder. President Bush about to sign a new bill to pay for the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. We're going to have live coverage of that for you coming up in about, looks like, seven minutes or so, right here in the NEWSROOM.
Chicago firefighter shot in the line of duty. He was investigating a possible arson yesterday when he was shot in the ribs.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
RAYMOND OROZCO, CHICAGO FIRE COMMISSIONER: He's been a fire investigator for three to four years that I know of. You know, (INAUDIBLE), good man, good family man. And all we can do now is just pray that he's going to be OK and he's going to make a good recovery.
It's been a long time. I got to go back in memory. A long time. I'm going back thinking about when a firefighter was shot in the line of duty. It's been a while. So, you know, it was just wrong place, you know, at wrong time, and he's out doing his job.
And we don't really have all those details. We'll let the police department look at that. Like I said, our main concern is his health and making sure that we take care of his family.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COLLINS: The firefighter is hospitalized in serious but stable condition.
New details today about the killing of a student body president. Eve Carson's autopsy was just released. The report says she suffered six gunshot wounds including two to her head. The body of the University of North Carolina student was found on the street near campus last March.
Two suspects, you just saw them, have been charged in her death. And according to a confidential informant, the suspects went into Carson's home through an open door and took her and her vehicle to an ATM. Police initially thought Carson had been carjacked.
Stopping bad guys. Law enforcement looking for ways to get the job done without the loss of life. So they're turning to a new generation of weapons that are less than lethal.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Smoke deployed.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Are you ready?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Let's do it.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: (INAUDIBLE).
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We're in Moundsville, West Virginia.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Team ready, move!
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: At the 12th annual mock prison riot. The old state penitentiary has the history of having the bloodiest riots of any prison in the country.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Get down!
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Get down!
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's kind of ironic that we have the capability to bring less lethal in
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Less lethal is --
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's a great thing to be able to assist in preventing crime.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Less lethal technology is the only way to go in the law enforcement and corrections community.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We use batons, use bean bag guns.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: These can be fired either out of a 12 gauge or a 37 millimeter launcher.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Pepper ball. Newest technology this year is taser.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Taser is an electronic controlled device.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Taser will stun you.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Ow!
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Ow!
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Ow!
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Will leave a mark on you.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Ow! Ow! Ow!
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Will hurt you but won't kill you.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He's been shot in the low muscle mass hit. I'm going to give you a little taste right here of what it feels like and I'm going to shut it off. This is what it feels like for about a second.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Ow!
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It is not a pleasurable experience. Compliance is what we're after with electronic controlled devices.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: During that five seconds, you're totally incapacitated?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes, sir.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: That's what we're trying to get at. All right?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Less lethal product.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This would be a less than lethal round. Not the real one, of course. That would be more industrial, more for a correctional facility, an area denial system, being able to be used on the border to prevent border crossings.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It's good for law enforcement because it saves lives. That's the bottom line. We want less lethal. We want to be able to put these people in a court.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: As a police officer, my life is just as valuable to me as the criminal's life is. I do not want to take a life if I don't have to. If I make it through my career and never take a life, I'm going to be happy.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: That was good. That was fun.
COLLINS: Yikes! Didn't look fun.
Strong winds, heavy hearts, severe storms leave a child dead in Alabama.
COLLINS: Quickly to the president in the oval office getting ready to sign the Iraq war funding bill. Let's listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Especially since we're at war. This is a responsibility all of us in Washington share, not as Republicans or Democrats, but as Americans. And I want to thank leaders of the House and Senate for getting this bill to my office.
America remains a nation at war. There are enemies who intend to harm us. Standing in their way are brave men and women, who put on the uniform, who raise their right hand, and took an oath to defend our freedom. They volunteered to deploy in distant lands, far from their families, far from their homes, and far from comfort of America. And every day, they risk their lives to defeat our adversaries and to keep our country safe.
We owe these brave Americans our gratitude. We owe them our unflinching support. And the best way to demonstrate that support is to give them the resources they need to do their jobs and to prevail. The bill I sign today does exactly that. It provides necessary funds to support our troops as they conduct military operations in Iraq, in Afghanistan, and in other theaters in the war on terror.
I appreciate that Republicans and Democrats in Congress agreed to provide these vital funds without tying the hands of our commanders, and without an artificial timetable of withdrawal from Iraq. Our troops have driven the terrorists and extremists from many strongholds in Iraq. Today violence is at the lowest level since March of 2004.
As a result of this progress, some of our troops are coming home as result of our policy called "return on success." We welcome them home. And with this legislation we send a clear message to all that are servings on the front line that our nation continues to support.
We also owe a debt of gratitude to our nation's military families. They endure sleepless nights, and the daily struggle of caring for children while a loved one is serving far from home. We have a responsibility to provide for them. So I'm pleased that the bill I sign today includes an expansion of the G.I. Bill. This legislation will make it easier for our troops to transfer unused education benefits to their spouses and children. It will help us to recruit and reward the best military on the face of the Earth. It will help us to meet our responsibilities to those who support our troops every day -- America's great military families.
The bill also includes agreed-upon funding for other critical national priorities. This bill includes $465 million for the Merida Initiative -- a partnership with Mexico and nations in Central America to crack down on violent drug trafficking gangs.
The bill includes nearly $2.7 billion to help ensure that any state facing a disaster like the recent flooding and tornadoes in the Midwest has access to needed resources. This bill includes a measured expansion of unemployment insurance benefits with a reasonable work requirement. And this bill holds overall discretionary spending within the sensible limits that I requested.
The bill is a result of close collaboration between my administration and members of both parties on Capitol Hill. I appreciate the hard work of my Cabinet -- especially the leaders of Defense and State, and Veterans Affairs, the Office of National Drug Control Policy, as well as OMB.
I want to thank House and Senate leadership and leaders of the House and Senate Appropriations Committees. I am particularly grateful to Congressmen Boehner, Hoyer, Obey, and Lewis. And I want to thank members who worked hard for the G.I. Bill expansion -- especially Senators Webb and Warner, Graham, Burr, and McCain.
This bill shows the American people that even in an election year, Republicans and Democrats can come together to stand behind our troops and their families. Thank you for coming.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COLLINS: There you have President Bush getting ready to sign a Supplemental Appropriations Act. This is a bill that's about 162 billion for the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. And you likely saw the side panels that we called them here.
Also, talking about the education benefits for veterans and an additional 13 weeks of unemployment insurance benefits. Quite a lot in this bill. CNN's Elaine Quijano is standing by now to talk a little bit more about it from right outside of the White House.
It all took place in the oval office. I wonder how many people are against this? I mean, it seemed to obviously have support both in the House and Senate.
ELAINE QUIJANO, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Yes, absolutely, Heidi.
Certainly, this bill here in Washington being viewed as very much the product of some tough negotiations. But in the end, ultimately, all sides compromising in order to reach this agreement. President Bush had set the goal of having it done by the 4th of July. And of course, signing it today, days ahead of that goal.
But even as the president is out there touting this particular war supplemental bill, there is also another story that the White House is pushing back on today that is on front page "New York Times" story, talking about in-fighting in the Bush administration and within the CIA, as impeding the hunt for Osama bin Laden and top al Qaeda officials in Pakistan.
Just a short time ago in the off-camera gaggle with Dana Perino, the White House press secretary, she said that the article in her view is not anything new. That certainly they are the same things that have been said in the past. She said that the president does have an overarching commitment to track and bring down Osama bin Laden. And she said if there are any disagreements in the administration, it is not rising to the level of preventing the administration from getting Osama bin Laden.
But, Heidi, interesting to note this story coming out today, even as the president is touting again this bipartisan bill. The product of some of tough negotiations. The fight in Afghanistan continuing, and even as the violence in Iraq might be on the decline, of course, there has been increased violence in Afghanistan.
That area, of course, just across the border from Pakistan. And this story today talking about al Qaeda reconstituting in those tribal areas. This is not the kind of news the White House wants to be talking about. But, again, pushing back against the notion that the administration has not done all it can to hunt down al Qaeda and its top leaders -- Heidi.
COLLINS: We, of course, will be following that story as we continue to follow this story of the Iraq, all day long here on CNN.
Elaine Quijano, outside of the White House for us. Thanks so much, Elaine.
Coming home from war to homelessness. CNN's Barbara Starr (INAUDIBLE) too many veterans who serve in Iraq and Afghanistan.
JAMES STREET, DEPARTMENT OF VETERANS AFFAIRS: How are you doing, man? Are you a vet?
BARBARA STARR, CNN PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Lunch time at a Washington, D.C. soup kitchen, James Street is reaching out. If any of these homeless men are veterans, he will try to help.
STREET: You've got my card, right?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes.
STREET: When can you come over and talk to me at the VA?
STARR: Street works for the Department of Veterans Affairs trying to get homeless vets in to shelters. A regular stop, outside the most powerful address in the world, 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue.
STREET: I have had homeless veterans here. One of my veterans live down here on the park bench right across from the White House.
STARR: There are about 150,000 homeless vets nationwide, according to the V.A. About 2,000 fought in Iraq and Afghanistan. Joseph Jacobo has been homeless since returning from Iraq two years ago. At one point, he went four days without food.
JOSEPH JACOBO, HOMELESS VETERAN: I have to live day by day, you know, not knowing where I was going to get my next meal or to be able to shower the next day. You know, I mean, because you can stink here. Believe me. You can stink here.
STARR: Jacobo is now in a shelter dealing with post-traumatic stress.
JACOBO: When you get to see people dying next to you, it's traumatic. You know, it's traumatic. It stays with you for a long time.
STARR: The V.A. worries post-combat stress is leading to a rise in homelessness in today's vets.
PETE DOUGHERTY, DEPARTMENT OF VETERANS AFFAIRS: They come back. They're having night trauma. They're having difficulty sleeping. They're feeling alienated.
STREET: These guys, they go to Iraq and Afghanistan with the intent that -- yes, I'm going to go and serve my country but I'm going to come home and I'm going to step right in to where I was and I won't be affected. Well, they won't be affected.
STARR (on camera): Veterans experts tell us their big worry, what will happen over the next three to five years as more troops return from the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.
Barbara Starr, CNN, Washington.
COLLINS: We want to make sure we let you know we are focusing on Iraq all day today, especially after we just saw the president speaking before signing the Supplemental Appropriations Act there. $162 billion for the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. We'll stay on top of it for you because the Iraq war perhaps the most important foreign policy issue in the 2008 election.
Want to make sure that we hear from those of you who are directly affected by the war. Tell us the most important thing the next president needs to know about it. If you had the chance, what would you show the next president about the war? Share your stories and your photos in ireport.com/iraq.
Want to take a moment now to get over to Rob Marciano who has been standing by to tell us a little bit more about severe weather apparently in china, as well as, we're finally getting word about the Mississippi cresting?
COLLINS: No, I can't. We were just talking about that over the weekend.
All right. Rob, thank you.