Return to Transcripts main page


Iran Launches Another Set of Missile Tests; Jesse Jackson Apologizes to Obama for Crude and Hurtful Comments; CNN Report on FEMA Aid Leads to House Hearing; Ingrid Betancourt Speaks Out; DNA Evidence Clears Ramsey Family

Aired July 10, 2008 - 07:00   ET


KIRAN CHETRY, CNN ANCHOR: Well, the city of Denver is expecting about 50,000 visitors for the convention which starts August 25th.
JOHN ROBERTS, CNN ANCHOR: We're just coming up to the top of the hour now. And topping the news this Thursday morning, breaking news.

Iran performs another missile test. New video for you here of the launches that took place overnight. State television says the missiles have "special capabilities" but would not elaborate on what those capabilities are. It's the second day of missile testing by Iran in response to what it says are threats from the United States and Israel.

State Department correspondent Zain Verjee joins us now live from Washington with more on this. Zain, is Iran just flexing its muscles, or is this an indication that there could be an imminent threat here?

ZAIN VERJEE, STATE DEPARTMENT CORRESPONDENT: Well, Iran is definitely upping the ante in probably the most dangerous poker game around. Launching these missiles again really puts teeth behind Iran's tough talk to the U.S. and to Israel. The tests, John, show that Iran is deadly serious about fighting off any attack on its nuclear facilities. But it also does seem part psychological warfare.

Iran's responding to that high profile show by the Israeli military last month that they could fly their planes hundreds of miles and as far as Iranian nuclear facilities. What we're seeing both yesterday and today is that Iran is out strutting its stuff for a second day -- John.

ROBERTS: Zain, in the Republic of Georgia today, Condoleezza Rice issued a very stern warning about Iran's actions. But what options does the U.S. really have here in terms of some sort of retaliation? I'm not talking military retaliation, but what can they do to try to get Iran to stop?

VERJEE: Well, the U.S. has been pushing pretty hard in different ways. The U.S., on the one hand, is squeezing Iran with sanctions and then on the other hand at the same time, they're offering them new incentives to sit down and talk. Secretary of State Rice as you mentioned in Georgia, and warning Iran about the missile tests. Here's what she had to say.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) CONDOLEEZZA RICE, U.S. SECRETARY OF STATE: We are also sending a message to Iran that we will defend American interests and defend our -- the interest of our lives. We take very, very strongly our obligation to help our allies defend themselves and no one should be confused about that.


VERJEE: One other point, John, is that the U.S. has no direct contact with Iran. So if there is any kind of dangerous incident, it just makes it a lot harder to step back from the brink. Defense Secretary Gates has said there's a lot of signaling going on right now between Iran and Israel. And, you know, the U.S.' rhetoric included in that, I presume. But he insisted nobody wants war and that the U.S. is still working the diplomatic part -- John.

ROBERTS: Hopefully that will continue as well. Zain Verjee for us from Washington this morning. Zain, thanks so much.

Freed hostage Ingrid Betancourt opened up to Larry King. In an exclusive interview, Betancourt described what it was like for more than six years in a Colombian jungle and what she did to stay sane.


INGRID BETANCOURT, RESCUED HOSTAGE: In the jungle, every day is like the other. So you need to have a special discipline to make things different and to keeping your memory. The dates and the days. And I think that's something that's very important when you are held hostage.

You need to -- I mean, to keep your feet on the ground. I remember, for example, I would do something special for the -- for special occasions. For Christmas, for example. For New Year. I mean, for them it was another day like every other day. So I really wanted to just -- I wanted to be able to know when I would remember all those years where I was and what was I doing, for example, for the birthday of my children.


ROBERTS: Betancourt also said that death was her "every day companion in the jungle." Betancourt and 14 other hostages were rescued last week. You can hear more about Betancourt's ordeal. She will be a guest on "THE SITUATION ROOM" 4:00 Eastern today.

CHETRY: Well, the Reverend Jesse Jackson apologizing over getting caught saying some things about Barack Obama that he probably didn't want anyone else to hear. He says the comments he made when he thought his mike was off were both crude and hurtful. Even his son issued a strong statement condemning them. Here's CNN's Joe Johns.

JOE JOHNS, CNN SENIOR CORRESPONDENT: John and Kiran, Reverend Jackson's open mike moment came on Sunday on FOX News. He thought his mike was off when he said this to a fellow guest.



REV. JESSE JACKSON, RAINBOW/PUSH COALITION: See, Barack been, um, talking down to black people on this faith based. I wanna cut his (beep) off. Barack, he's talking down to black people.


JOHNS (voice-over): By midweek, Jackson was in full damage control calling leaders in the African-American community to explain, even before many had heard of the comment, placing himself on the firing line at a hastily arranged news conference.

REV. JESSE JACKSON, CIVIL RIGHTS ACTIVIST: In this thing I've said in a hot mike statement that's interpreted as distractions, I apologize for that, because I don't want harm or hurt to come to this campaign. It represents too much of the dreams of so many who paid such great prices.

JOHNS: Part of what Jackson was apparently trying to say is Obama should not talk down to the African-American community in sermons when he discusses one of his themes -- personal responsibility. It was another messy moment for Barack Obama who just seems to attract regrettable off the cuff remarks by high profile people who are quickly forced to go out and take it back.

In a statement, Obama's campaign accepted Jackson's apology, but the candidate stood his ground on the issue of personal responsibility saying, "He will continue to speak out about our responsibilities to ourselves and each other, and he of course accepts Reverend Jackson's apology."

But Jackson didn't receive forgiveness from his own son. Illinois Congressman Jesse Jackson Jr., who is a co-chairman of the Obama campaign, issued a statement saying, "I'm deeply outraged and disappointed in the reckless statements," which he calls "divisive and demeaning," and says "they contradict his inspiring and courageous career."

JOHNS: It's unclear what trigged Jackson's outburst. In June, Obama delivered a speech before an African-American congregation on the problems of fatherless black households.

SEN. BARACK OBAMA (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Too many fathers are "MIA." Too many fathers are AWOL.


JOHNS: Reverend Jackson is playing down the notion that this is any kind of a face off between the old guard and the new guard in African-American politics. But there have been rumblings for weeks that some in the Jackson camp in Chicago are upset because Obama's message hasn't been tailored and focused to appeal to the more traditional black constituencies -- John and Kiran.

CHETRY: Joe Johns for us, thanks.

Well, the family of JonBenet Ramsey this morning cleared once and for all of any suspicion in the young girl's 1996 murder. Yesterday prosecutors said that new DNA evidence taken from JonBenet's leggings point to a "unexplained third party." The office says it was "deeply sorry" for casting a cloud of suspicion over the family.

JonBenet Ramsey's mother, Patsy, died of cancer two years ago, but her father says that the police went out of their way to implicate the family.


JOHN RAMSEY, FATHER OF JONBENET RAMSEY: Sadly, there's 2,000 children murdered in our country every year. For some reason ours became a very, very public event. And, of course, we learned later that one of the strategies that were employed by the police was to make us look guilty so we'd have intense media pressure on us. And so this information leaked anonymously that wasn't true that implicated us and caused people to suspect us, then that was a defined strategy that certainly added fuel to the fire.


CHETRY: The DA says the new evidence points to a man, but they have no suspects. We're going to be speaking to the Ramsey family attorney to find out whether or not they think they're ever going to get anywhere with this investigation, coming up in our next hour.

ROBERTS: It is eight minutes after the hour. And still ahead on the "Most News in the Morning," a CNN exclusive.

At 19 after, because of our reporting, action finally on the missing FEMA supplies case. Food and cleaning tools meant for flood victims kept by the state and given to other people. Our special investigations unit is following every move.

CHETRY: Also at the bottom of the hour, a college bar fight turns into a worldwide case after the suspect in a brutal beating skipped out of the country and leaves one student clinging to life this morning.

ROBERTS: And at 36 minutes after, pump problem. Trouble for one of those prepaid gasoline cars. Fill up all you want but you will not get those discounted prices that you're being promised.

You're watching the "Most News in the Morning."


CHETRY: Welcome back to AMERICAN MORNING. We're tracking breaking news.

And tensions in the Middle East running high this morning after Iran pulls the trigger yet again, test firing medium and long range missiles during military exercises. Some of those missiles capable of hitting Israel. The dramatic show of force comes after Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice warned that the United States would not ignore threats against allies like Israel.

And welcome back once again. Ali Velshi joins us now with more on what type of fallout are these missile tests on the part of Iran could have perhaps on oil prices. Hey, Ali.

ALI VELSHI, CNN SENIOR BUSINESS CORRESPONDENT: Hey, you know, we see the price of oil move so much whenever we know there's tension with Iran. Let me tell you a little about why that's the case.

Saudi Arabia remains the world's largest oil producer and when we think of Saudi Arabia we think of oil. When we think of Iran, maybe we think of other things.

Iran is the fourth biggest oil producer in the entire world, but here's the problem. Most of the oil production in the Middle East is in this crescent around the Persian Gulf. The largest refineries in the world are right here on the Saudi Arabian coast.

Oil that comes from there generally speaking gets shipped right through the Persian Gulf and turns around here at the Strait of Hormuz, which is controlled by Iran. At its narrowest point only 21 miles wide.

Now the problem here is Iran has said if anyone, if Israel or the United States or anyone were to attack it, it would block off the Strait of Hormuz. It would choke that off. That would mean that 40 percent of the oil in the world that goes by ship to Europe, to Japan, to the United States, would be cut off immediately.

The United States patrols that region. They say they won't let the oil stop from flowing through that port. But the bottom line is it wouldn't be hard to stick a few mines in the strait there or lob a few grenades even over to start the fear that something will happen to an oil ship. And all you need is an attack on one tanker and you've got a big problem. So that's why Iran is very, very important to this.

Iran, by the way, depends very heavily on its oil imports and the ships that go through the Strait of Hormuz for its own financial stability. So it doesn't look like Iran would really want to engage in this either. Remember, if there is some kind of war and that is choked off, the price of oil soars. But when it goes up much higher than it is right now, people will pull back on their use of oil worldwide.

CHETRY: Right now, it's a lot of saber rattling.

VELSHI: Right.

CHETRY: This is the worst case scenario.

VELSHI: It is.

CHETRY: But very interesting that you paint that picture. Ali, thanks.


ROBERTS: Here's one for you. Stuck in a gondola. Not one of the ones that you see in Venice. One of this kind. For five hours in the summer heat without air-conditioning during a thunderstorm. And, oh, yes, over the baboon exhibit at the Bronx Zoo. We're not making this one up, folks. We'll tell you about it coming up.

Also ahead, our Reynolds Wolf high in the Sierra Nevada and on the front lines at the fire fight in the west.

And a firestorm of a different kind. Jesse Jackson, the hot microphone, and the cutting insult about Barack Obama. This morning, the fallout.

You're watching the "Most News in the Morning."


ROBERTS: It's sixteen minutes after the hour. The top videos right now on The most popular, "Lady Liberty in Styrofoam."

This svelte 50,000-pound beauty getting ready for a convention appearance later on this summer. Not the political conventions, though. When finished she will stand 130 feet tall.

Also, going to prison for walking down the aisle? Wisconsin is saying it will prosecute any gay couple who goes to California to get married and then attempts to return back home.

You see there's an obscure law that's on the books that says violators could get nine months behind bars.

And trippy treats for some Texas police. Oh, yes, someone decided to deliver cookies laced with LSD to a Fort Worth Police Department. The delivery guy was detained, and the three officers who ate the cookies were being contacted. Nobody knows if they got on a trip or not. But those are the most popular videos right now in

You're watching the "Most News in the Morning." And we're back in 90 seconds.


ROBERTS: Nineteen minutes after the hour. Appearing just minutes ago, the Reverend Jesse Jackson on "Good Morning America" responding to the remarks that he made about Senator Barack Obama when he thought no one was listening.


CHRISTOPHER CUOMO, ANCHOR, "GOOD MORNING AMERICA": On a scale of one to 10, how embarrassing is this situation to have to deal with this morning when you want to talk about all these bigger issues? REV. JESSE JACKSON, RAINBOW/PUSH COALITION: Well, it's always hurtful, you know. But if your home run whenever you struck out some time, your home run some time. But you're judged by your box score. As a box score our effort to change America is the one.

You know, when we went August 28th, it's a great American civil rights, human right victory. August 28, '55, Emmett Till lent (ph) for the low moment. August 28, '63, Dr. King speaking in Washington, August 28, '08, Barack becomes the party's nominee.

What a great moment to be alive. And so, you know, all the pain and agony, I think that our hopes and dreams are stronger than our pains and our memories.


ROBERTS: Yesterday Jackson did apologize saying that his comments were both crude and hurtful.

Other national headlines. First pillows, then food. Now it's your frequent flier miles at risk.

Northwest Airlines announcing that they will charge you up to $100 to cash in your miles. Also now, $15 extra per checked bag. They say gas prices once again are to blame.

A wild ride at the zoo. Frightened families trapped in a cable car high above the baboon exhibit at the Bronx Zoo for hours. Thirty adults and seven children wounded up stranded in the swinging gondola. They were a hundred feet up. Firefighters used a crane to pluck the riders out of the stalled ride to safety as a thunderstorm rolled through as well while they were stuck up there.

And some good news for New Orleans. It's now the fastest growing large city in the United States. But officials say don't get excited, we're not growing we're recovering. The population still half of what it was before Hurricane Katrina.

CHETRY: And another major development in a CNN investigation. The chairman of the Homeland Security Committee will hold hearings this month to find out why millions of dollars worth of household supplies that were supposed to go to Katrina victims ended up in the hands of state and federal agencies.

CNN's special investigations unit correspondent Abbie Boudreau has been working this story for us. Take a look.


ABBIE BOUDREAU, CNN SPECIAL INVESTIGATIVE CORRESPONDENT (voice- over): These photos are expected to be the focus of Representative Thompson's congressional hearing into why FEMA never got millions of dollars of these new supplies to Katrina victims as intended.

REP. BENNIE THOMPSON (D), MISSISSIPPI: We just think that FEMA needs to come and tell the committee how such a debacle could occur. And in the process, what are they going to do to ensure Congress and the tax paying public that it will never happen again.

BOUDREAU: CNN uncovered that for the past two years. Boxes of supplies just sat unused until FEMA gave them to various state and federal agencies. Thompson not only blames FEMA, but he's also stunned at how Mississippi officials made "a mockery" of the whole process.

THOMPSON: I'm disappointed that my state decided that prisoners had a higher priority than Katrina victims.

BOUDREAU: Mississippi was one of 16 states that took the household supplies like these, but gave them to state prisons and other agencies.

The state of Mississippi drop the ball here?

THOMPSON: Oh, no question. Any time items intended for victims of Katrina end up in the hands of the Department of Corrections or state employees, then clearly Mississippi dropped the ball.

BOUDREAU: We repeatedly called Mississippi officials to find out why the state didn't get those supplies to nonprofit groups that help Katrina victims. But no one would go on camera. Though we did talk to a spokesperson for Mississippi's surplus agency, Kym Wiggins, who told us, "There may be a need, but we were not notified that there was a great need for this particular property."

Thompson disagrees and says there still is a great need for these basic supplies.

So do you think that there might be a way to redirect some of these items to Mississippi?

THOMPSON: Oh, absolutely. If we can somehow find where those items are, I think we can demand that they go to the people for which they were intended. These items were not intended to go to prisoners. They were not intended to go to state employees. They were intended to go to victims of Katrina.

Abbie Boudreau, CNN, Washington.


CHETRY: Now, a FEMA spokesman tells CNN the agency always makes itself available to answer questions before Congress and would "send the right people" to answer Representative Thompson's questions.

ROBERTS: We'll see if they do that.

You're watching the "Most News in the Morning." Jesse Jackson caught on tape saying some insulting things about Senator Barack Obama. We're going to be speaking with Jackson this hour to find out what he's saying now about this embarrassing incident.

The Middle East on edge this morning after Iran again test firing several missiles. We're live with breaking details. (COMMERCIAL BREAK)

ROBERTS: 26 1/2 minutes after the hour. Reverend Jesse Jackson apologizing to Senator Barack Obama for some crude remarks that he made on camera. The comments were caught by an open microphone on the FOX News Channel.


REV. JESSE JACKSON, RAINBOW/PUSH COALITION: See, Barack been, um, talking down to black people on this faith based. I wanna cut his (beep) off.


ROBERTS: Joining us now to discuss this ongoing firestorm is KABC Los Angeles radio talk show host and author of "The Ten Things You Can't Say in America," Larry Elder. He's in L.A. this morning, and the author and "Time" magazine columnist, Michael Eric Dyson, joins us this morning from Atlanta.

Gentlemen, let me first of all get your reaction to the substance of what Jesse Jackson said yesterday. Larry, why don't you start us off?

LARRY ELDER, HOST, "THE LARRY ELDER SHOW": Well, John, I'm not quite sure what the substance was. If Jesse Jackson was complaining that Barack Obama, for example, had shifted on NAFTA, had shifted on FISA, had shifted on the war in Iraq, had shifted on death penalty, had shifted on gun control, I could understand why Jesse Jackson might be ticked off coming from the left wing of his party. But that does not appear to be what his beef was. It appeared to be personal.

Barack Obama talking down on black people. I'm going to cut his blank off. It made me almost feel as if Jesse Jackson considers himself to be a lion in winter. And Barack Obama's ascension means that Jackson is now diminishing himself in importance.

I thought it was sad. It made him look like a caricature, and I think it diminished Jesse Jackson. It did not diminish Barack Obama.

ROBERTS: Now, Michael Eric Dyson, what about the charge that Senator Obama is talking down to African-Americans. Do you agree, disagree with that?

MICHAEL ERIC DYSON, PROFESSOR, GEORGETOWN UNIVERSITY: I think what you're seeing here is beyond Barack Obama or Jesse Jackson. I think there's tremendous tension in African-American communities as there always has been. But white America has not obviously been privy to that except when Bill Cosby makes comments that are controversial about the black family.

Barack Obama made a sermon or at least preached a sermon before a black congregation in Chicago and made comments about the responsibilities of black fathers. We hear those comments every Sunday in black churches. We also hear social responsibility, so you have to team the two up. Personal responsibility, on the one hand, social responsibility on the other. Remember, Jesse Jackson in the 1970s was critically important in expressing vital viewpoints about personal responsibility for black men. He does so again today. But he also balances those with the social responsibility of a society to provide opportunity for those black men to exercise their personal responsibility. That's the tension you're hearing there.

ROBERTS: Some people believe, Michael, that Obama should not have singled out African-American fathers for being delinquent or absentee. He should have included Caucasians, Asians, everything else in there. You know, he certainly has personal experience with this.

His campaign put out a statement yesterday in response to what Jesse Jackson said saying, "As someone who grew up without a father in the home, Senator Obama has spoken and written for many years about the issue of parental responsibility, including the importance of fathers participating in their children's lives."

Larry, he's really talking from personal experience here. So why can't he talk specifically about black fathers?

ELDER: Well, John, I think that what Jesse Jackson might very well have been reacting to, assuming Michael is right, that Jackson was bothered by what Barack Obama said in the black church, maybe, just maybe Jesse Jackson feels it was a personal attack or at least a personal reference.

Jesse Jackson had a kid outside of wedlock. When he was mentoring with Bill Clinton he had his pregnant mistress visibly pregnant in the Oval Office. And so to the extent that Barack Obama has been talking about irresponsibly breeding and that fathers ought to be married before they have children, and that any fool can have a child but it takes a man to become a father, I think it might have hit a little too close to home for Reverend Jackson and he might have taken it personally.

ROBERTS: Michael, do you see this as a face-off between the old and the new guard?

MICHAEL ERIC DYSON, PROFESSOR, GEORGETOWN UNIVERSITY: No. I don't think that at all. Let me respond to what Larry Elder has just said. I don't think Reverend Jesse Jackson took it personally. In fact, he took personal responsibility. He acknowledged his fault. He acknowledged his misstep and he took personal responsibility as he had preached consistently from the 1970s.

So, Jesse Jackson himself endured as we well know extraordinary and extreme difficulty with his own father. From Jesse Jackson to JayZ, black men have dealt with father abandonment. But Jesse Jackson's point is let's put it in broader context. Let's look at the society relationship to black men and let's look at the empirical facts. Black men as nonresident fathers are more likely to visit their children, a study concludes last year, than any other group or racial or ethnic group of men. So the point is that black men have a responsible inclination toward their children. But that's not being celebrated. So I think we have to put that in a broader context. Both in personal and social responsibility, not either/or.

ROBERTS: Well, we certainly hope to be able to ask Jesse Jackson about this personally. We hope that he's going to be joining us in the next half hour here. Michael Eric Dyson, Larry (Elder), thanks for being with us this morning, gentlemen. Good to see both of you.

LARRY: My pleasure.

DYSON: Thank you, sir.

CHETRY: It's 31 past the hour. And topping the news this Thursday morning, we have breaking news out of Iran. That country performing a new missile test. This is new video of the launches. State television saying the missiles have, "special capabilities." They did not say what they are. This is the second day of missile testing by Iran in response to what it says are threats from the United States and Israel. Chief international correspondent Christiane Amanpour joins us now by phone from France with more on the implications of this new testing. Good morning, Christiane.

VOICE OF CHRISTIANE AMANPOUR, CNN CHIEF INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Good morning, Kiran. And yes, here in Europe officials are looking at this quietly and carefully. Especially as they are also considering Iran's response to their latest nuclear offer. Clearly as you just mentioned, these war games, military exercises which are routine, come at a very sensitive time. But Iran has also said as they conduct these exercises that they are insisting that they will not just stand idly by if they are attacked by Israel and the United States. And this obviously comes after Israel and the United States have made certain comments about Iran's nuclear facility. Not so long ago, Israel's transport minister said that an attack on Iran's nuclear facilities would be, "unavoidable if progress was not made in negotiations." And then they had these military exercises. Unprecedentedly large exercises over the Mediterranean.

And remember, of course, back in September, Israel did attack a facility in Syria. And that at the time was largely considered a warning to Iran. But at the same time, mixed signals because the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of the United States, the Pentagon's top officer has said that any attack on Iran would be high risk and would destabilize the region, talking about Israel.

So, Iran apparently saying certainly officials who I've spoken to, that in these nuclear negotiations, they do not want to be seen or be perceived as negotiating if they do for a position of weakness, and they don't want any kind of flexibility on their part to be interpreted as weakness. And at the same time, they're flexing their muscles when they perceived these threats from Israel and the United States. That seems to be what's going on at the moment as far as I can gather from officials.

CHETRY: Christiane Amanpour for us with some insight into this situation coming from Iran this morning, that missile testing. Thank you, Christiane. ROBERTS: And coming up on 34 minutes after the hour. Alina Cho is here with other stories new this morning. Good morning and welcome back.

ALINA CHO, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Thank you. I thought taking more time off would just be wrong. Good to be back.

CHETRY: You look well rested.

CHO: I am well rested. Good to see both of you. Good morning.

ROBERTS: We missed you.

CHO: Oh, good. Thank you. I miss you guys, too. And good morning everybody. And new this morning, polygamist sect leader and convicted felon Warren Jeffs is out of the hospital and back in jail this morning. He was taken to a Las Vegas Hospital yesterday after apparently suffering convulsions inside his jail cell. In the past Jeffs had tried to kill himself. So far doctors are not commenting on the 52-year-old's condition. Jeffs was convicted of arranging a marriage between an underage girl, a follower, and her older cousin and is awaiting trial on similar charges in Arizona.

Also new this morning, the number of foreclosures has surged 53 percent in June from a year ago. That means more than 252,000 homes, about one in every 500 households were in some stage of foreclosure. Amazing. In the same period, bank repossessions almost tripled.

One of the best known buildings in the New York skyline, the landmark Chrysler Building has been sold to investors from Abu Dhabi. The group bought a 75 percent stake in the iconic building. Some reports put the price tag at $800 million. The 77 story art deco building was built in 1930. And when it opened it was the tallest building in the world.

And it's that time of year again. The running of the bulls in Pamplona, Spain. And so far today at least seven people including an American were injured. Always great to see these pictures, right? Some were trampled. A couple were gored. The 31-year-old American suffer a head injury from a fall or a collision that temporarily left him unconscious. This the fourth day of the annual event. The total number of people hurt so far during this year's running is at 27. There's still three more days left.

CHETRY: Right.

CHO: You know, you'd think people would learn. But it's good for us because the pictures are great.

CHETRY: Thanks, Alina.

CHO: You bet.

ROBERTS: Right now, exhausted firefighters in California are digging in as they prepare for another day of extreme heat and low humidity. So far the flames have torched more than a thousand square miles. An area almost half the side of Rhode Island. 10,000 people in one hospital are now evacuated. CNN's Reynolds Wolf is on the fire lines. He is in Butte County, California for us. Reynolds?

REYNOLDS WOLF, CNN METEOROLOGIST: I'm coming to you from Butte County high in the Sierra Nevada Mountains where crews behind me are still working. They've been working around the clock. Now, behind these trucks, you just step over this way, you can just make out a house. The house is empty. The people have evacuated. In fact, over 10,000 people have evacuated from this area. And, of course, all due to the flames that continue to move. Those flames have knocked down some 49,000 acres in this county. And still you see the smoke, you see the fires.

It is quite a mess. And unfortunately, mother nature really hasn't been cooperating at all. In fact, humidity levels remain very low. Into the afternoon hours we anticipate the wind to really pick up. So the fires that we have may indeed spread. Certainly tremendous issue not just here but across the state where we have over 300 fires that are burning as we speak. And crews from not just this area, but from across the nation, have been coming together, work very hard. They're going to redouble their efforts as we get closer into the weekend, trying to battle not just the elements, but of course the fire on the ground as it continues to spread in many spots.

That's the story high in the Sierra Nevada and from California, let's send it back to you in the studio.

ROBERTS: All right. Reynolds Wolf this morning. That fire by the way in the foothills of the Sierra Nevada has destroyed at least 50 homes.

We're going to be talking with Jesse Jackson coming up very soon. Also, a bar fight over a girl ends with one boy in a coma and the other on the run. And there's international outrage over how his parents got him out of the country. CNN talks exclusively to the parents of both boys.

CHETRY: Also, the biggest food borne outbreak in years. First they thought it was tomatoes that went for the Salmonella scare. Now the Feds aren't so sure. We're going to tell you what other foods to watch out for and what progress they're making in trying to track down the source of the sickness. You're watching the most news in the morning.


ROBERTS: Breaking news overseas to report to you this morning. Iran again test firing several long range missiles overnight. And the most troubling aspect of the news, their range. Some can go as far as 1,200 miles, which means they can easily strike Israel. The launch comes just a day after Tehran fired at least nine missiles from an undisclosed location as they conducted military exercises in the Strait of Hormuz.

CHETRY: Well, a fight over a girl in a bar ends with one boy in a coma and another on the run. And there's international outrage over what happened next. CNN's Jason Carroll joins me now with the exclusive details. Hi, Jason.

JASON CARROLL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Hello to you. This is a story that has gotten the attention of Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice. The United States wants a 21-year-old Serb back in the U.S. to face charges in connection with the savage beating of a college student.


CARROLL (voice-over): What started as a college bar fight in upstate New York ended with Serbian basketball player Miladin Kovacevic wanted by Interpol. And Brian Steinhauer, a fellow Binghamton University student fighting to stay alive.

RICHARD STEINHAUER, VICTIM'S FATHER: It all started with every parent's nightmare phone call at 2:00 in the morning from a hospital emergency room. That your son is there. He's in critical condition.

CARROLL: Parents of both students spoke exclusively to CNN about their ordeal.

BRANKA KOVACEVIC, MOTHER (through translator): This situation was not in even in our worst dreams.

CARROLL: Binghamton Police say the trouble started when Steinhauer tried to dance with one of his Kovacevic's friends, a young woman. Kovacevic's parents say a fight erupted and their son defended himself.

PETAR KOVACEVIC, SUSPECT'S FATHER (through translator): In that moment he was hit twice in the head. He turned and in the moment pushed the attacker who fell. He does not remember what happened next.

CARROLL: Witnesses say Kovasevic who is 6'9", 280-lbs and his two friends brutally beat Steinhauer who is 5'9", 130 pounds.

MARLENE STEINHAUER, VICTIM'S MOTHER: Three people. It wasn't a fight. It was an assault.

RICHARD STEINHAUER: When somebody's helpless on the ground there's no such thing as self-defense anymore. When someone is being stomped and kicked while on the ground, that's beyond anything.

CARROLL: Police arrested Kovasevic and his friend, charging them with gang assault. Kovasevic pled not guilty. He surrendered his passport. But his parents worried that he would not get a fair trial, so they posted $100,000 bail and with the help of a Serbian diplomatic official in New York, Kovasevic was given a new passport. He escaped and returned to Serbia.

BRANKA KOVACEVIC (through translator): My son is not running away from justice. He's running away from injustice.

IRWIN ROCHMAN, ATTORNEY: That's not the way it works. He doesn't get to decide. And he doesn't get to decide by fleeing the country and committing another criminal act. CARROLL: The U.S. State Department is now working to get Kovacevic extradited.

SEAN MCCORMACK, STATE DEPT. SPOKESMAN: This is a painful episode for all involved. And we want to do our part to see that it's resolved as quickly as possible.

CARROLL: Ultimately Steinhauer's parents say their priority is helping their son who remains in a coma.

RICHARD STEINHAUSER: It's been total hell wondering first if he's going to live? Is he going to come out of the coma? What's he going to be like when he comes out of the coma?


CARROLL: Serbia's foreign minister says his country will cooperate with the United States. But it's unclear if that means extraditing the suspect. Serbian officials say their law does not compel them to extradite fugitives to the United States.

CHETRY: Wow. It is such an upsetting story. A nightmare for both parents. Do they know anything about whether or not he's going to be OK or come out of the coma or they just have no idea?

CARROLL: It's really touch and go for this guy. Every day for them is just a struggle.

CHETRY: Unbelievable. Great stuff. Thanks, Jason.

CARROLL: Thanks.

ROBERTS: 44 minutes after the hour. Coming up right after the break, we'll be speaking with Jesse Jackson live about his remarks about Senator Barack Obama. Also ahead, at 54 minutes after the hour, the Ramsey family attorney Lynn Wood, one on one live. Hear what he has to say about this new DNA tests that are exonerating JonBenet's family.

CHETRY: Also at 27 after, we're hearing about Iran testing its missiles but the U.S. has done it as well in the past. Our Barbara Starr is looking into that for us.

ROBERTS: And in about an hour's time, singing about Obama. The Caribbean croons for the candidate. You're watching the most news in the morning.


ROBERTS: At 47 minutes after the hour, of course some of the news that we're following this morning, comments that Reverend Jesse Jackson made on Sunday over an open microphone regarding Senator Barack Obama. Reverend Jackson here now from Indianapolis to talk with us more about that. Reverend Jackson, thanks for being with us. You know, speaking specifically to your statement that you wanted to cut off a certain part of Senator Obama's anatomy, I think a lot of people are asking this morning, where in your heart, where in your mind did that thought even come from?

REV. JESSE JACKSON, RAINBOW PUSH COALITION: Well, it's ugly and unnecessary. That's why I was really quick to apologize. Because Barack and I are friends. I am a passionate supporter of his campaign. Long standing. And currently I will continue to be. Part of my anguish, frankly, beyond that is the limitations of the significant but faith-based programs. We need faith-based initiatives. We also need government based. When bridges are collapsing, levees are being overrun, it requires beyond faith the substance of real investment. And so it's been part of a private conversation. It was unfortunate. That's why I was quick to say what I did. And he was quick to respond. That's the good news.

ROBERTS: This idea of it being a private conversation, you knew you had a microphone on. You knew you were about to appear on television. What about that situation made you think it was private?

JACKSON: Well, it didn't even occur to me. Really I was responding to a question about the faith-based program. For example, if you have a faith-based program you have day care in that church. We assume the parents are working. If they're at work, then their home is not in foreclosure. They can walk the street and not face the murder because of the gun rate of death in our country. And so, while faith is significant and faith-based programs are basic need support, we now need to turn this economy around, trade policy and government policy. That's going to cost. That's going to be real heavy lifting.

ROBERTS: Let me bring you back to the substance of your comment on Sunday morning. Do you believe that Senator Obama talks down to African-Americans?

JACKSON: No. I'm not concerned with the limited focus on responsibility. We all must share the values of responsibility. But I submit to you that with jobs and investment leaving and drugs and guns coming, how responsible you are, you need a government support mechanism. You know, John, we have lost 4,100 soldiers in Iraq in four years. It was 30,000 a year at home to gunfire. And we made semi-automatic weapons legal again. This is real government substance.

And look at our trade policy of which jobs out and again I'll say, investment and drugs in. So I'm glad that he responded respond because I think his campaign represent a redemption of our country.

ROBERTS: There are some people who are wondering if the genesis of you comment was based in the fact that he has achieved this incredible position in the democratic party, achieved an amazing position as an African-American candidate and that you're envious of that position and that rubs you a little bit the wrong way. And you also don't believe that he is fully tillering his message to traditional black constituents. What do you say?

JACKSON: That's kind of ridiculous. Really, he's running the last lap of a 54-year marathon. He is running that race. I am a part of that race. I mean -

ROBERTS: Sure. You broke down a lot of areas in 1999.

JACKSON: Really from changing the laws in '54, to the '64 public information the right to vote, reducing the threshold to proportionality. That's why I supported unconditionally at the very beginning because I think he represents the growth of America. I lived in Mississippi, John. And so men voting for Hillary and wives voting for Barack. I said, uh-huh, they are the conduits of which a new and real America speaking. What really warms my heart and I think about August when they May '63 Dr. King speaking about the dream or Barack in Denver, it's a moment I really cherish.

ROBERTS: Right. You know, your son, Jesse Jackson Jr., took you to task yesterday saying I love my father, but, "I thoroughly reject and repudiate his ugly rhetoric. He should keep hope alive and any personal attacks and insults to himself." How much trouble are you in with your family this morning?

JACKSON: He is my congressman and I am his father. And ultimately, we get along.

ROBERTS: All right. Reverend Jesse Jackson, thanks for being with us this morning. Good luck there in Indianapolis.

JACKSON: Thank you, sir.

ROBERTS: All right. Take care. Thanks.


CHETRY (voice-over): Breaking news, Iran flexing its military might for a second day test firing missiles. Conducting military exercises. Some of the missiles capable of reaching Israel.

New DNA tests clear JonBenet's family once and for all. Where does that leave the case? The Ramsey's attorney joins us live next hour. You're watching the most news in the morning.



JOHN RAMSEY, FATHER OF JONBENET RAMSEY: We have a good opportunity I think to, of actually find an answer to who did this.


CHETRY: John Ramsey, father of JonBenet Ramsey, talking about new DNA evidence in his daughter's murder case that cleared him, his wife and his son. Prosecutors say that tests point to an unexplained third party and not a member of the family. JonBenet was just six years old when she was found murdered in her Boulder, Colorado, home, the day after Christmas back in 1996. The Ramseys have since then lived under an umbrella of suspicion for the crime for nearly 12 years. A Colorado prosecutor is now apologizing to the family for any distress caused them. Lin Wood is the long-time Ramsey family attorney. And he joins me this morning from Atlanta. Thanks for being with us this morning, Lyn.

LIN WOOD, RAMSEY ATTORNEY: Good morning, Kiran.

CHETRY: What was the reaction with this new DNA testing cleared the family once and for all? What did John Ramsey say to you?

WOOD: Well, John called me yesterday morning and told me that he received the letter from Mary Lacy, the Boulder District Attorney, and Lacy called me shortly thereafter. John was very grateful because obviously he knows that Mary Lacy is continuing the investigation and hopefully one day the killer of his daughter will be brought to justice. It was also a sad day because unfortunately Patsy Ramsey was not here with us to share in the vindication of her family.

CHETRY: Mary Lacy is the one who actually reopened this case when she took over as the Boulder D.A. and since then there have been some strides made. DNA was identified more and now they found again, if I'm correct, they did new testing and were able to once again match it with the same DNA they had originally found or had found prior. What is the status now of the case?

WOOD: Well, the case I've always said and I think Mary Lacy agrees, is a DNA case. The case is going to be solved when there is a hit and a match made in the database with respect to the DNA. But this is significant because they originally found DNA in Jonbenet's underwear. State-of-the-art testing called touch DNA was done recently on her pajama bottoms. They found DNA, so we have additional DNA. And then when profiled, it matched the DNA in her underwear. It's irrefutable evidence that it's the DNA of the killer and irrefutable evidence that John, Patsy Ramsey and their son, Burke, has absolutely nothing to do with this horrible crime. They deserve to be exonerated and finally they have now been officially and publicly cleared.

CHETRY: Is it too little too late?

WOOD: Well, better late than never. They have undergone an incredible ordeal for almost 12 years on trial in the court of public opinion for a crime they did not commit. I think that they have lived through those years with their faith and with their knowledge of their innocence and their hope that one day the killer of their daughter will be brought to justice.

CHETRY: And, of course, that is something that is still being worked on. Meantime, in the past, they have sued media outlets that they felt perhaps went too far, accused them and named them suspects in varying ways in the media. What about any plans to sue the prosecutors or anybody involved, any authorities involved in this so- called umbrella of suspicion that they lived under for more than a decade?

WOOD: There's no plans to bring any types of lawsuits with respect to the investigators or the prosecutors. We've -- back in 2002 -- urged that the city of Boulder Police Department be removed from the case because we felt and we were correct that they were in effect incompetent and inexperienced and not following the evidence. In response to that demand and at that time a threat to sue the Boulder Police Department, a decision was made to move this case over into the district attorney's office. And since that time, Mary Lacy has, in fact, taken this investigation where it should have started, she's followed the evidence. And by following the evidence instead of focusing on an individual, this case will be solved.

CHETRY: That's the other question though. And as you said, it's going to be solved with the DNA hit. What are the future plans to being able to try to find out who this DNA matches?

WOOD: Well, once the DNA is into the database, the FBI CODIS database, then it is constantly checked as new DNA evidence is submitted. But the DNA evidence has to be submitted by the states. And there's a backlog in the tens of thousands, if not more, of crimes with DNA evidence that have yet to be put into the database.

Recently a young girl who was murdered in Boulder a year after Jonbenet, Susanna Chase, just last year her killer was identified by a hit in the DNA database, ten years after the fact. We know that DNA identifies killers. We know that DNA exonerates innocent individuals. Unfortunately sometimes it takes years before you get that hit.

CHETRY: But you're confident that's going to happen?

WOOD: I'm very hopeful that it will happen. And I would like to believe that it will not be in the too distant future.

CHETRY: Lin Wood, the Ramsey family attorney joining us from Atlanta today. Thank you.

WOOD: Thank you very much.

ROBERTS: Hey, it's just about to cross the top of the hour. And we are following breaking news right now.

Tensions in the Middle East running high again this morning after Iran pulls the trigger yet again. Test firing medium and long-range missiles during military exercises. Some of those missiles can travel far enough to make them capable of hitting Israel. Iran's dramatic show of force comes after Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice warned that the Unites States won't back down.