Return to Transcripts main page
Iran Tests Nine New Missiles; California's Wildfires Being Blamed on Global Warming; Many Potential Running Mates for John McCain; Investigation About Woman Left to Die in New York Hospital
Aired July 9, 2008 - 10:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
HEIDI COLLINS, CNN ANCHOR: Good morning, everybody. I'm Heidi Collins.
TONY HARRIS, CNN ANCHOR: And I'm Tony Harris. Stay informed all day. In the CNN NEWSROOM, here's what's on the run down.
War bluster. Iran test fires a volley of missiles. That puts the breaks on the two-day oil slide.
COLLINS: Toxic FEMA trailers for Katrina's homeless. Congress asking who's to blame, this hour. A live report coming in a minute.
HARRIS: Wildfire season. Longer, hotter and more devestating. Some experts pointing a finger at global warming today, Wednesday, July 9th. You're in the CNN NEWSROOM.
COLLINS: Rattling nerves and rattling salvos. Iran's state television reports it has test fired nine new missiles. It is the latest salvo in the rising international tensions over Iraq's nuclear ambitions.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GEN. HOSSEIN SALAMI, REVOLUTIONARY GUARDS CMDR. (through translator): We want to tell the world that those who conduct world foreign policy by using the language of threats against Iran, have to know that our finger is always on the trigger. And we have hundreds even thousands of missiles ready to be fired against pre-determined targets. We will chase the enemy on the ground and in the sky and we are able to react strongly to enemy threats in the shortest possible time.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COLLINS: One of the missiles fired today reportedly has a range of 1250 miles. That puts Israel within striking distance. Other missile types fired today have ranges of 105 to 250 miles.
HARRIS: So, what's the reaction in the diplomatic community? CNN's State Department correspondent Zain Verjee is in Washington looking for answers. Zain, good morning to you. I have to ask you, wasn't some kind of Iranian response to last month's maneuvers from Israel expected? What do you make of this?
ZAIN VERJEE, CNN STATE DEPARTMENT CORRESPONDENT: Well, it wasn't really a big surprise. Iran tends to do this sort of thing from time to time. But the comments that we just heard were pretty interesting. Iran has long described U.S. and Israeli rhetoric as being psychological warfare. So these comments from Iran as well as the missile test is really kind of like a shot back at Washington and Tel Aviv saying basically that two can play that game. Listen to what one Iranian commander had to add.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GEN. MOHAMMAD ALI JAFARI, REVOLUTIONARY GUARDS CMDR. (through translator): the Revolutionary Guards are ready to defend the land of borders of their country and are ready for action against threats of enemies.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
VERJEE: So you can look at this really, Tony, as a test of wills on all sides. It's dangerous because it's something that could get out of control. Now, it doesn't mean there will be war in two weeks with Iran, but what it does do is it creates a really bad environment and that increases the possibility for confrontations. Also, Iranian officials, Tony, have also noticed that the more bellicose they are, the more aggressive they are, sometimes they just get more from the U.S. and from the Europeans. So it's a dangerous game they're playing, it's a delicate balance they need to thread.
HARRIS: So the missile test not helpful. But I'm wondering is the potential for these tests to hinder, derail the diplomat track?
VERJEE: It doesn't help the environment. What the initial reactions, immediate reactions, from the U.S. was to condemn Iran saying that they shouldn't do any more missile tests if they really want to gain the trust of the world. The Iranians should really stop the development of ballistic missiles which can be used. In this statement, they say the delivery vehicle for potential nuclear weapon. But the State Department, too, announcing new financial sanctions against Iranian officials and companies accusing them of helping develop nuclear weapons. Now, at the same time, to your question the diplomatic part is being pursued along with the Europeans. And they're offering the Iranians incentives in exchange for suspending uranium enrichment. So, this doesn't really help but the strategy for the U.S. has really been a carrot stick strategy. And that's what we're seeing.
HARRIS: Our state department correspondent Zain Verjee. Zain, good to see you. Thank you.
Here is a closer look at the long-range missile reportedly fired this morning by Iran. It's a new version of the Shahab which means meteor or shooting star in the Iranian language of Farsi. It can carry a one-ton conventional warhead. The missile is believed to be updated with Russian and Chinese help. So how will the world community respond to the launch? Jim Walsh, international security expert, weighs in. We will talk to him in just a couple of minutes.
COLLINS: Deadly shoot out near the U.S. consulate in Istanbul, Turkey. According to the city's governor, three police officers and three attackers were killed in a gun battle. It began when gunmen piled up in a car and opened fire at a police check point outside the consulate. The police fired back, bullets flying for up to five minutes. No Americans or consulate employees were hurt.
We are following breaking development this hour out of the Darfur region of Sudan as well. A U.N. peacekeeper is dead, 19 others hurt in a armed militia attack. Six other U.N. peacekeepers are missing. The ambush happened today in northern Darfur. The joint U.N. and African Union Force took over peacekeeping duties in the troubled region earlier this year. The Force includes about 9,000 soldiers and police officers.
HARRIS: Polygamist sect leader Warren Jeffs rushed from jail to a Las Vegas hospital. Our Chris Lawrence is there now. And Chris, what have we been told about his condition?
CHRIS LAWRENCE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Tony, we're still waiting word from the doctors that are actually treating Warren Jeffs. But our sources are telling us that this is a "serious situation." And we know that Warren Jeffs' health was poor enough that armed guards took him out of his jail cell in Arizona and rushed him by helicopter about 100 miles to the hospital here behind me. We also know that Warren Jeffs has had some had health problems over the last couple of years while he was in jail. According to court documents, while he was awaiting trial, Jeffs refused to eat or drink for extended periods of time and had to be taken to an infirmary. Then later he tried to kill himself in jail. And while he was on suicide watch after that, he was seen repeatedly banging his head into a wall and throwing himself against the wall.
Now, to give you a little bit of a background, Jeffs is the so- called prophet of the fundamentalist church of Jesus Christ of latter- day saints. Now, some of its 10,000 members practice polygamy, using arranged marriages sometimes with under aged girls. Now, Jeffs first showed up on the national radar about two years ago when the FBI placed him on it's 10-most-wanted list. He was caught, tried, and then convicted of using his religious influence over his followers to convince, coerce a 14-year-old girl to marry her 19-year-old cousin. He had been in that Arizona jail awaiting additional trial for additional felony charges. Again, we hope to get even more information about his condition in the next hour or two.
HARRIS: OK. Chris Lawrence for us in Las Vegas there. Chris, thank you.
COLLINS: A fast-moving fire still has residents on the run in northern California this morning. 40 homes destroyed, not long after residents were ordered to evacuate in Concow, California. That fire in Butte County was started by blowing embers from one of the other fires in the immediate area. Homes are still threatened in the town of Paradise. Evacuations orders lifted in Big Sur. Residents in the popular tourist community had their first chance to see the damage caused by the wildfires. At least 23 homes destroyed.
In Southern California, firefighters have made progress against the fire in Santa Barbara county. But 250 homes are still in danger. That's down from a peak of 3,000.
HARRIS: And as we check in with Rob Marciano in the severe weather center, Rob, conditions getting a bit tougher for firefighters today.
ROB MARCIANO, CNN, METEOROLOGIST: Yes. And mostly just because it's so baking hot out there. Basically, temperatures yesterday were record breaking. Going to have record breaking heat again today. And we've got these offshore winds. So, a lot of red and yellows on the map, this is just for heat. It doesn't include the red flag warnings that are posted for a good chunk of California, at least northern California. So the weather situation certainly is not cooperating all that much. We've got these heat advisories and heat warnings that are posted from Vegas all the way back through Bakersfield. It's all north of Los Angeles but does include a little bit of the Santa Barbara area. So, they're going to be warm. There will be a weak sea breeze, places like San Francisco, they won't get to the 100-plus area, but they'll get to about 82. We have a live shot of San Fran, we don't have it.
Sacramento, you've been the one baking the most. Record highs yesterday, check them out, 111 in Paso Robles, and Palmdale, California 110, Sacramento hit 108, you probably see a similar number today. Modesto 107, and Napa, what do you think of that place as being bliss and comfortable temperatures, not the case. Temperatures there up over 100 again today. 112 in Vegas, it will be 109 in Phoenix. And there's a decent amount of heat across much of the east. Typical kind of stagnant, humid July air mass, little waves kind of developing along a front that's trying to press off to the east, just tricking more thunderstorms.
Yesterday, we saw a number of lightning injuries actually. And today, I wouldn't be surprise to see more of that. So, it will bubble up throughout the day today as we get the heating of that strong July sunshine. All right. We're in hurricane season, of course, don't want to forget about Bertha. She is still a hurricane, category 1 with winds at 75 miles an hour, still just a little under 800 miles to the southeast of Bermuda. Winds are gusting about 90. It slowed down a little bit, northwesterly moving about 10 miles an hour. And really the past couple of hours it looks like it's gained a little more organization. So I think we're done with this weakening trend. It will probably hold onto its category 1 status here for a couple of days.
Here is the forecast from the National Hurricane Center, keeps it a hurricane through Saturday, maybe a little bit of strengthening, and keeps it to the east of Bermuda. That's good news. It will keep to the east of us as well. We're just in the beginning of hurricane season as you know and man, just the very start of fire season, you guys.
COLLINS: I know.
HARRIS: Just the start of fire season.
MARCIANO: It's scary - HARRIS: Think about that.
MARCIANO: ...to think about what the next couple of months may have in store for California. I mean, they aren't getting any rain. No rain.
COLLINS: No rain and those temperatures too are just going to stay high like that?
MARCIANO: Well, they will through tomorrow.
MARCIANO: They'll get a little bit cooler air coming in over the weekend but definitely -
COLLINS: Long range, though?
MARCIANO: Long range, probably be a dry summer. They've got a moderate drought going on over there so that certainly doesn't help.
HARRIS: I think we're going to talk to Miles about that in just a couple of minutes.
MARCIANO: Yes. Miles have been working on some cool stuff, talking about maybe climate change affecting those fires.
HARRIS: OK. Let's listen to that.
COLLINS: Thanks, Rob.
HARRIS: That's coming up.
COLLINS: Thanks, rob.
HARRIS: You remember the story we've been following a lot here in the NEWSROOM of those toxic FEMA trailers? Who's at fault, the manufacturers or the government? Congress wants answers this morning in the NEWSROOM.
COLLINS: Iran fires off a series of missiles and sends a message of the world, will this morning's display of power impress or anger world leaders. Joining us with a closer look now, our international security analyst, Jim Walsh. Jim, thanks for being here.
JIM WALSH, INTERNATIONAL SECURITY ANALYST: It's always good to be with you, Heidi.
COLLINS: Thank you. Listen, we just heard from a couple of the top commanders of the Revolutionary Guard, their response or reaction to these events that took place. And, boy, it was pretty stunning using words like we are able to react strongly. We have our finger on the trigger. We're going to protect this land and these borders of our country. What do you make of it?
WALSH: Well, in some ways it's not surprising. You know, Israel ran military exercises last month. The express purpose of those exercises was to practice in case they wanted to strike Iran's nuclear facility. So, you know, what's Ian going to do? They're not going to say, oh come on, hit me. They're going to say, oh yeah, if you hit me, I'm going to hit you back. And I'm going to match your military exercise with one of my own so, you know, I think this par for the course.
COLLINS: Well, everybody has got to have contingency plans, all of the different armies across the world. In fact, do practice exercises, not always talking about nuclear weapons though.
WALSH: Absolutely. I think, though, when you look, there are military exercises that you can analyze and sort of deduce what the purpose of it - what is it that they're trying to practice? Are they practicing land maneuvers or are they practicing naval maneuvers.
WALSH: That one by Israel last month was focused on Air Force and focus on re-fueling tankers and being able to travel long distances in order to bomb targets far away. So I think almost everyone including U.S. analyst thought it was all about preparing for a possible although I think unlikely strike on Iranian facilities. And so, you said it at the top, at the intro, this is a message. Iran is sending a political message which says if you hit me, I'll hit you.
COLLINS: Well, the United States always is in the middle of this. We're a super power nation. You know, what does the United States do at this point?
WALSH: Well, I think you've seen a hint of that in the recent trip by senior U.S. commanders to Israel. When Mike Mullen went there to Israel, when he returned back, he was quite blunt in his comments saying he does not want to see another war, "third front opened up" in the Middle East, that is to say Iran, because we're already so busy fighting in Afghanistan, fighting in Iraq. So I think the U.S. military is sending a strong signal to Israel that says, no, this is not the time for this sort of thing.
COLLINS: Yes. And you have to wonder what Ahmadinejad is thinking, which is most of the time impossible. But on that exact point, you know, does he sort of think he can get away with some of this, what some people are calling just (INAUDIBLE) ops, which is really a verbal exercise going on right now, because we have a lame duck president, we have a weak Congress, and we're busy with Iraq and Afghanistan.
WALSH: Well, you know, I think there's divided opinion within Iran. I think you saw that this past week, Heidi, in the very different sorts of statements. You had one set of statements coming out of the foreign ministry, by the foreign minister saying well, the nuclear talks are going to go forward, there's a new tone.
WALSH: I'm optimistic about it, and then you had these sort of harsher comments out of President Ahmadinejad. I think in Iran there's differences over policy and there are differences over the likelihood of a U.S. attack. Some people fear a U.S. attack. Some don't believe it's going to happen. I don't think President Ahmadinejad, who I spent some time with, thinks there is going to be an attack. And he thinks this is all psychological and political pressure. But some people are legitimately worried about it and so you have a combination of bluster and sort of peacemaking or peace offensive both at the same time.
COLLINS: Yes. They kind of cancel each other out it seems like.
COLLINS: Yes. Absolutely. What about the Shahab 3? This type of missile they actually tested, 1,250 miles obviously reaches Israel. What do you know about it?
WALSH: Well, you know, a missile always sounds scary. But it's in fact harder to build a really, really good missile than it is to build a nuclear weapon.
COLLINS: Accuracy is what you're talking about?
WALSH: Exactly. When it comes to missiles it's all about accuracy. Remember during the first Gulf war when Saddam invaded Kuwait, and we went in after him, to kick him out of Kuwait. Saddam launched a bunch of scud missiles. Now, he couldn't hang them but they caused a lot of fear and havoc. Well that scud missile is sort of the great-great-grandfather of the Shahab 3. They're all based on a family tree that goes back to a North Korean no gong missiles. It's a liquid fuel missile, not a solid fuel missile. It's a mobile missile.
They have at least according to some estimates back in 2006 20 launchers. They have more missiles than that, but they have, you know 20, 30, whatever launchers. So, you know, it's not the greatest missile in the world, but, again, if you're sitting in Iran, you think the U.S. isn't going to attack, but you're fearful about it. And if you're sitting in Israel and Iran has a missile test, no, Iran isn't going to attack Israel out of the blue, but you know, you're worried about it. So it's understandable.
COLLINS: All right. Well, we appreciate your comments. As always, Jim Walsh, our international security analyst. Thank you, sir. Appreciate it.
WALSH: Thank you, Heidi.
HARRIS: FEMA foul-ups post-Katrina at issue on Capitol Hill today. FEMA trailers that emit potentially cancer-causing formaldehyde. CNN's Sean Callebs is following the story from New Orleans and Sean it sounds like Congress is really, at least going to attempt to get to the bottom of all of this. SEAN CALLEBS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes. I think this has been an issue that is so difficult for people all along the Gulf Coast. So many believe they are suffering ill effects from elevated formaldehyde levels in their travel trailers or in some cases mobile homes. Now these residents have heard extensively from FEMA and the Centers for Disease Control. Right now a hearing is going on in Capitol Hill and members of Congress are going to be grilling the makers, four separate companies that made the trailers that people are living in here.
CALLEBS (voice-over): 60-year-old Carolyn Salez waited about a year for her FEMA trailer after Katrina. After living in it for about a year, the agency told her it had a dangerously high level of formaldehyde which could lead to cancer. Then she couldn't wait to get out.
CAROLYN SALEZ, KATRINA VICTIM: When I heard the word cancer, you know, what everybody feels about cancer. It's just you kind of get that little sinking feeling in the pit of your stomach because that's scary.
CALLEBS: Formaldehyde is a substance used in processing wood, plastics and other products in manufacturing trailers. Salez said the time in the trailer made her asthma more severe, and left her with a chronic cough, sinus problems and the possibility she one day get cancer. The Center for Disease Control has advise trailer residents they can reduce the level of formaldehyde gas by cracking the window. Salez has one question for trailer manufacturers -
SALEZ: I'd like to know why they would put out a product that is going to harm somebody who's already going - anybody, especially people who are already going through a traumatic event, you know, in their life.
CALLEBS: Today a congressional subcommittee is set to question officials from four manufacturers whose trailers according to the CDC have significantly higher levels of formaldehyde than other brands.
REP. NICK LAMPSON (D) TEXAS: Did they know the problems and did they do it for greed? Did they just have shoddy workmanship? What's the purpose that led us to doing something as untoward as this to the citizens of the United States of America? And someone needs to pay.
CALLEBS: Makers of the trailers voice frustration and saying after the storm they were rushing to meet a desperate need and before Katrina there was no government standard for formaldehyde in trailers. Not nearly good enough, says Salez.
SALEZ: I don't like the fact that someone gave me a place to live that could cause me to have cancer.
CALLEBS: Sean Callebs, CNN.
(END VIDEOTAPE) CALLEBS: You know, don't expect all members of Congress to slam the manufacturers today. Indeed, the ranking republican on this committee says he does not want this to become the focus of a conspiracy theory. He goes on to say that he does not want the testimony today to disintegrate into what he calls a show trial that industry is bad. Tony.
HARRIS: OK. Sean Callebs for us in Washington hearing from New Orleans. Sean, good to see you. Thanks.
COLLINS: The economy slows down. Your credit card rates get jacked up. What can you do about it? Gerri Willis tells us about some changes that may be on the way.
HARRIS: We'll take you to the New York Stock Exchange right now and have a look at the big board inside the first hour of the trading day. OK. So the Dow is down 15 points, Nasdaq is down slightly as well. We're watching all three major indices and we're also following what's going to happen with oil prices today after two straight days of declining prices. The news out of Iran, and you know what that means, the prices start to reverse and head in the opposite direction, the direction that we don't like. Susan Lisovicz following the markets for us all morning long right here in the NEWSROOM.
COLLINS: If you've ever had your interest rate jacked up on your credit card, it's your turn to gripe. Personal finance editor Gerri Willis is here now on how to make your complaints really count. I'd love to hear that, Gerri. What's this all about.
GERRI WILLIS, CNN PERSONAL FINANCE EDITOR: We like complaining, right?
COLLINS: Right. Absolutely.
WILLIS: Complaining is good. That's a good thing. Well, here's what you need to know. The Federal Reserve is proposing some changes to the way credit card companies operate, and you have the opportunity to make some comment on these changes. Now, here's what the proposals are. Number one, banks wouldn't be able to hit you with a higher interest rate on debt you already owe. It prohibits what they call two-cycle billing. This is a practice that computes finance charges based on previous billing cycles. Banks would have to apply at least a portion of payments towards higher interest rate debt. In the past, issuers put payments consumers made toward cheaper debt like balance transfers that generally have lower rates. And finally, banks would have to provide consumers a reasonable amount of time to make payments. Heidi.
COLLINS: OK. So how do you make your complaint really count? You have to I'm sure need to know exactly where to go.
WILLIS: OK. You have until August 4th to do this, to submit your public comment. And so far, Heidi, 10,000 folks have done it. So, here's how you do it, go to federalreserve.gov, click on consumer information at the top of the page. You can see here. Then click on proposed rules for credit cards and overdraft services, scroll to the bottom of the page, just a little I know, look for regulation double a and click on submit a comment. The Federal Reserve says it hopes to deliver a final ruling by the end of the year. For their part, credit card companies say these rules will result in less competition, higher prices and less choice for consumers. But if you want to be heard on this, the page you're seeing right there, that's where you want to go.
COLLINS: Yes. I bet there's other legislation out there too on this.
WILLIS: Absolutely. The credit card industry has come under some very intensive scrutiny from Washington, particularly Capitol Hill, Senator Chris Dodd has legislation that includes some of same things that the Fed is saying and adds new stuff like preventing issuers from charging customers a fee to pay a credit card by telephone.
And earlier this year, Representative Caroline Maloney introduced a legislative plan she called the credit cardholder's bill of rights. Of course, we're going to follow all of this and bring you the latest news. But if you want to get involved, today is your day. And if you have questions, send them to us at firstname.lastname@example.org. We love to hear from you and we answer those questions right here every Friday.
COLLINS: OK. Cool. Gerri what about "Issue number one" today?
WILLIS: Well, you want to find out what the most stolen cars are in the U.S.? You're going to want to watch our show. We're tackling green myths and what is really good for the environment, what is just a waste of your money. We'll be talking about all these topics and more on "Issue Number One" at noon Eastern. Send us your e-mails, email@example.com.
COLLINS: Yes. And we did those cars, the older cars I guess now for parts.
WILLIS: Yes, that's because they're easier to, like, hide and hack up and sell parts.
COLLINS: Yes, exactly. All right. Gerri, we'll be watching. Thank you.
WILLIS: OK. Thank you.
HARRIS: You know, Miles O'Brien is coming up next for us. We're talking about these increased hot spots. California's fire season just seems to get longer and more devastating. What is causing the increased danger?
HARRIS: And good morning, everyone. The half hour, welcome back, everyone, to the CNN NEWSROOM. I'm Tony Harris.
COLLINS: Hi everybody, I'm Heidi Collins. New evacuations to tell you about in northern California. Around 26,000 residents in Paradise, California, were told to leave. Wildfires moving closer to their doorstep. Next door in Concow, 40 homes were destroyed by fast moving flames, sparked by embers from another nearby wildfire. There are 330 active fires burning in the state right now. From Santa Barbara County in the south, all the way up near the Oregon border. Cal fire officials say, they have more than 20,000 people fighting those fires.
HARRIS: Got to tell you, we have been watching the devastating wildfires in California and it made us wonder, isn't it early in the fire season to see so much destruction? What are we talking about here? Is this climate change? Is this global warming?
There's the man to ask the questions of. Our science, technology, environment correspondent, space correspondent Miles O'Brien is here to explain it all. Yes, he's got multiple titles, multiple hats...
MILES O'BRIEN, CNN CHIEF TECHNOLOGY AND ENVIRONMENT CORRESPONDENT: Tony, we're out of time. I'm sorry. We're out of time, we got to go.
HARRIS: Hey Miles, good to see you.
O'BRIEN: All right. It's good to see you, Tony.
Let's talk a little bit about this. Because wildfires, we can't -- it's hard to make a connect-the-dots moment here in all of this. But, wildfires certainly would be a symptom of climate change.
Let's go through numbers very quickly. I know these charts will make your eyes glaze over so I'll go as quickly as I can. This is 1860, this is the year 2000. This is the temperature trend on our planet. It's gone up by about one degree Fahrenheit. Take a look at the chart of the -- really a map of the world taking this information. And these are hot spots. Everything here showing temperature anomalies, changes in temperatures. And as you cans see, where this kind of you know, tan or brown or whatever you want to call it, that orangey-brown is, that's about a degree change in temperature.
OK, so let's move on. Now, the question is, is climate weather? Climate is not weather climate. Climate is kind of like the operating system on your computer, weather is the software. The operating system can affect the software in unpredictable ways, as you well know. If we continue this analogy, if your software crashes, it could just be bad software or it could be something to do with the operating system. If you see a lot of programs crashing, you say, hey maybe this maybe this is the operating system. And that's maybe why we're seeing a lot of this weird weather.
Let's go to the fires now and talk about this.
HARRIS: OK, great.
O'BRIEN: Could they be a function of global warming? They sure could. Scientists at the Scripps Oceanographic Institute, looked at this issue a couple of years ago in some detail. They concluded, in the western U.S. since 1986, longer, warmer summers have resulted if a fourfold increase -- fourfold -- of major fires. A sixfold increase in the area of forests burned. That's compared from the 1970 to 1986 time frame. Now, wildfire frequency was nearly four times the average. Now this is a lot of charts, I know. But, take a look at this.
O'BRIEN: This -- these are the temperature line, this black thing right here, OK. And down here is the wildfire frequency, these little red lines. You'll notice there's a correlation between the temperature and the amount of wildfires. This is something to do with the spring snow melt, which is a key here.
HARRIS: Ah, yes, yes.
O'BRIEN: If you look at the spring snow melt, down here indicates an early snow melt. And when you have an early snow melt, it correlates with more fires. And that's an important point to consider because it provides more time, a longer period in which those ignitions could occur, greater drying of the soil and vegetation and consequently, not surprising, that you would see that. And that snow melt timing would have something to do with it. Now, let's talk about this right here.
HARRIS: Great. What is that?
O'BRIEN: Are you still with?
HARRIS: Yes, yes. What is that?
O'BRIEN: OK. Well, this is an indication of what happens when there is an early snow melt. On this side, you're seeing the amount of rainfall. And what you see, wherever it's orange is a deficit. So, there's a big rainfall deficit. The lack -- an early snow melt creates problems with precipitation later. And this, shows temperature changes. Everything that's in orange is abnormally high temperatures. So whenever you have that early snow melt, what you get are less prescriptions and higher temperatures.
Now, here's an interesting little point about all of this. These fires themselves, Tony, create carbon dioxide.
HARRIS: Sure, yes, yes, that makes sense.
O'BRIEN: They create greenhouse gases. We crunched some numbers in all of this. And if you compare the amount of fires burning right now, which is about a half million acres, this shows the vulnerability where some of the forests are most affected by all this. But, if you crunch the numbers on all of this and you consider how much is burning right now, all over the west, it's about a half million acres. Well, that generates on average, about the equivalent of 700,000 cars...
HARRIS: Are you kidding me? O'BRIEN: ... worth of carbon dioxide over the course of a year.
O'BRIEN: So, that would be like taking -- if you could put the fires out -- it would be like taking 700,000 cars off the road. So it actually accelerates the process of global warming. Because trees, of course, capture carbon dioxide. And when they burn, they release it.
HARRIS: Let me ask something crazy here. You know, nature's been doing this, lightning strikes, whatever, for a gazillion years. Isn't it it's own sort of a natural pruning process? I know that we've got a hand in this, but this has always been the case. And there is an argument being made, that while the firefighters are going in and doing a valid job of saving homes, that you might be a little better off here if we would let more of these areas burn -- Miles.
O'BRIEN: Well, that is the interesting thing here. Because, as you know, as human beings encroach into these areas...
HARRIS: Yes, yes, yes.
O'BRIEN: ... it becomes a very difficult thing. The natural cycle actually over time decreases the size of the fires. You look down in Mexico, for example, where they don't do as much suppression techniques.
O'BRIEN: You don't see nearly as large of fire. What happens in our case, we suppress. We try to contain, contain. contain. That allows that underbrush to build up, more fuel for the fires. So when they happen, they're bigger.
Miles, great to see you. Good to see you here in Atlanta.
COLLINS: Corporate America getting hit with the same problems that the rest of us are battling, soaring oil and gas prices. So, many companies are cutting back now, it seems.
Poppy Harlow, from CNNmoney.com, has the latest on a corporate energy fix.
POPPY HARLOW, CNNMONEY.COM: Hi there, Heidi.
Well, you can call it potato power. Oreida is going green. Remember that company and those nifty commercials? Well, the company is working on a plan to convert potato peels into biofuel. Actually enough to heat 4,000 homes. Its parent company Heinz, may not have 57 ways to save the environment, but it has quite a few. The ketchup maker plans to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions by 20 percent over the next seven years. It's going to recycle more, use more renewable energy and more direct delivery routes for all of that ketchup you see there. It's also going to reduce the packaging by 15 percent. And on top of that, the company is mandating that 15 percent of all the energy used, comes from renewable sources like solar and biomass. So a big company, Heidi, taking quite a big step.
COLLINS: Yes. You have to wonder though, is this to save the environment or to try to save their bottom line?
HARLOW: Of course it comes down to money, certainly a bit, for all of corporate America. It's a little bit of both. Cutting energy use -- cutting it's energy use, it's no longer a luxury for a lot of companies. It is a necessity. Companies like Chevron, Google, eBay, they're all making big moves, as well. And telecom giant Verizon, is now telling its suppliers that they have to make their equipment 20 percent more efficient starting next year. Because Verizon says its costs Heidi, for energy, are in the hundreds of millions of dollars, each year.
COLLINS: So, you've got to wonder what the corporate moves mean for the rest of us? Any good deals for us?
HARLOW: Yes, of course. Why do we care? Well, what it could mean is, it could save us some money. They could lower the costs they pass down to us. So, customers, we could generally benefit from it. A lot of the products they're using like solar power, could become more affordable. To the rest of us, especially in comparison to the rising costs of more traditional energy sources.
Remember, if you want to do an energy fix of your own, you can install solar panels on your home, et cetera. You're also eligible for a federal tax credit if you do that. So, not only could that save you about $2,000, it could make putting solar panels on your home, et cetera, more affordable -- Heidi.
COLLINS: All right. CNN's Poppy Harlow. Appreciate it, thanks, Poppy.
HARRIS: Who's number one for number two? Looking at John McCain's options for running mate. It's coming up next for you, in the NEWSROOM.
COLLINS: Reaction now to Iran's missile launch. Leaders in White House quick to criticize this morning's test firing of nine missiles. They're calling on Tehron to refrain from any more tests. Also weighing in, the Democratic and Republican presidential candidates.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) SEN. BARACK OBAMA (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: It's so important for us to have a coherent policy with respect to Iran. It has to combine much tougher threats of economic sanctions with direct diplomacy, opening up channels of communications so that we avoid provocation, but we give strong incentives for the Iranians to change their behavior.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COLLINS: And Republican John McCain had this to say, "Iran's most recent missile test, demonstrate again, the dangers it poses to its neighbors and to the wider region, especially Israel."
One of the missiles fired today, reportedly has a range of 1250 miles. That puts Israel within striking distance. Other missiles types fired today have ranges of 105 to 250 miles.
Speaking of presidential candidate John McCain, he is on the trail right now in Pennsylvania. McCain is touring the research lab at Consul Energy Company, that's in South Park, Pennsylvania. Expected to talk today, about energy independence and the economy and probably Iran, as well. We're going to bring you those comments when they happen.
In the running for running mates.
CNN's Jessica Yellin looks at who might join John McCain on the GOP ticket.
JESSICA YELLIN, CNN CAPITOL HILL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): A number of governors seem to be constant audition mode for the job. From the battleground state of Florida, Governor Charlie Crist. Louisiana's Bobby Jindal, the youngest governor in the nation and South Carolina's Mark Sanford. All strong social conservatives who'd fill in a gap in McCain's resume. Minnesota's Tim Palenty has all that, plus, he's another swing state guy.
AMY WALTER, EDITOR-IN-CHIEF, HOTLINE: He's a two term governor. But he also has a relationship with the evangelical community.
YELLIN: On the other hand, McCain, who's made no secret he's running on national security, could pick up a number two who would beef up the ticket's economy credentials. Former rival and business superstar Mitt Romney. Former Hewlet Packard CEO, Carly Fiorina. Or former Congressman Rob Portman. The candidate's guiding philosophy...
SEN. JOHN MCCAIN (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I don't think you have to be close friends as much as you have to share principles and values, the goals, et cetera. But also the priorities. And I think the hardest things -- one of the most difficult aspect of being president...
YELLIN: Hmmm, that doesn't really narrow it down much. Some wildcard picks include Independents like Joe Lieberman, a foreign policy ally. Or New York Mayor Mike Bloomberg, Either would prove McCain's bipartisan credentials, but could alienate conservatives. And the latest buzz, South Dakota Senator John Thune, who virtually screams of youth and vitality. Qualities that could be a good match for the older McCain, or could highlight his age.
Jessica Yellin, CNN, Washington.
HARRIS: A devastated daughter sees the video of her mother's last moments.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The image on my mom, lying on that floor and dying. Oh, god.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HARRIS: And now her family is taking action.
HARRIS: Tears, shock and outrage. The daughter of the woman apparently left to die on the floor of a New York hospital, sees the tape of her mom's last moments and is now taking action.
CNN's Mary Snow, reports.
MARY SNOW, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): One week after this videotape became public, showing Esmin Green's last moments of life. Her daughter finally brought herself to look at it.
TECIA HARRISON, ESMIN GREEN'S DAUGHTER: I did not saw that video until yesterday morning. And I wish I didn't see it because -- image of my mom falling on that floor and dying. Oh, god.
SNOW: The video shows Esmin Green, falling to the floor as she waited for a bed at a psychiatric unit at a New York City hospital. And hospital personnel, repeatedly ignoring her. Green's 31-year-old daughter Tecia Harrison, lives in Jamaica and came to the U.S. for the funeral. Harrison and her aunt Brenda James and attorney Sanford Rubenstein, announce they plan to file a $25 million lawsuit against the city, King's County Hospital and the New York Health and Hospitals Corporation. And they say they want to seek criminal charges brought against hospital workers who neglected Esmin Green, as she lay dying.
BRENDA JAMES, ESMIN GREEN'S SISTER: My sister, she was killed twice. First by those who neglected to offer her the needed health care. Secondly, she was killed by those who tried to cover up this criminal action.
SNOW: Medical records listed Green as being awake, even going to the bathroom at the same time she was seen on the video struggling. Several people are seen ignoring her, including two security guards and a man with a folder. Seven workers have been fired or suspended, pending termination, according to the city's Health and Hospitals Corporation. They include doctors, nurses and security guards. Not known whether they are appealing the action against them.
HARRISON: Firing them is not enough. Firing them is not enough for me. It's not enough for my brothers. They don't know this wonderful woman that they took away from us. They don't know. We know and want them to pay for it.
SNOW: CNN legal analyst Jeffrey Toobin says, while a civil case seems like a slam dunk, criminal prosecution will be more difficult. But...
JEFFREY TOOBIN, CNN SENIOR ANALYST: If people at the hospital put false information in medical records, prosecutors could use that as evidence of just how willful, reckless and irresponsible their behavior was. Perhaps amounting to manslaughter.
SNOW (on camera): We asked for reaction from the city's Health and Hospitals Corporation. It released a statement saying, it remains devastated by the tragic death of Esmin Green. And they quote, "We failed Esmin Green and believe her family deserves fair and just compensation."
It says it referred this case to criminal enforcement and is cooperating with on going investigations. The city's Department of Investigation is looking into Green's death and says it will turn its findings over to the Brooklyn District attorney's office.
Mary Snow, CNN, New York.
COLLINS: Presidential candidate John McCain, campaigning in Pennsylvania right now. He's expected to talk to reporter shortly regarding Iran's missile launch. We're going to bring you those comments coming up live, right here in the NEWSROOM.