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President Bush to Sign an Iraq War Funding Bill; Evangelicals and the Presidential Election; Chicago Firefighter Shot in the Line of Duty; Coming Home From War to Homelessness; 5.4 Magnitude Earthquake in Southern California; Mandatory Evacuation Orders Still in Place for Residents near Yosemite National Park; More Drilling, Less Speculating
Aired July 30, 2008 - 09:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
TONY HARRIS, CNN ANCHOR: And good morning, everyone. You are in the CNN NEWSROOM. I'm Tony Harris.
HEIDI COLLINS, CNN ANCHOR: Hi there, everybody. I'm Heidi Collins.
See events come into the NEWSROOM live on this Wednesday morning, July 30th.
Here's what's on the rundown.
Hollywood cameras rolling, an earthquake shakes Los Angeles. This morning, aftershocks, cleanup and amazing pictures.
HARRIS: Pack light and consider carry-on. One airline doubles the fee for a second checked bag to offset jet fuel prices.
COLLINS: Murder at a Caribbean resort. Newlyweds shot in their beachside cabin. Honeymoon horror in the NEWSROOM.
HARRIS: Southern Californians back to business as usual this morning after a day they're not likely to forget any time soon. The 5.4 magnitude quake rattled nerves all over Los Angeles in the heart of Hollywood.
Cameras captured the quake from many different angles. Stores like this one, subdivisions, even city council all felt the rattling.
One audience filming a TV show ducked for cover.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: He paid approximately -- he took out, I believe, $729.99...
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Stay calm. Stay calm.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HARRIS: Where she'd go.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's OK. Everyone get under a desk.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Get under.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: ... before Christmas came so I can still do for the children as though I, you know, planned on. He paid...
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HARRIS: So a number of aftershocks but amazingly just a handful of injuries. The quake was centered near Chino Hills, about 30 miles from downtown Los Angeles. Some buildings were damaged but none toppled like they did in the Northridge quake in '94. Do I remember that.
LAX had a mess on its hands. No doubt, many people have a big cleanup job awaiting them this morning.
COLLINS: The earthquake wasn't the big one many Californians are expecting, but it's a resounding reminder a bigger one may be looming.
Kara Finnstrom live at the Caltech campus in Pasadena for us this morning.
So Kara, what are seismologists there telling you?
KARA FINNSTROM, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, they've been closely monitoring those more than 90 aftershocks that have shook, you know, Southern California. We haven't felt most of them here in the Pasadena area but they had been very carefully noted by Dr. Lucy Jones who joins us live now. She's with the U.S. Geological Survey.
Let's start off with, a lot of folks are very concerned about what happened yesterday and the big question is, could this be a precursor to a larger quake or perhaps even the big one?
DR. LUCY JONES, U.S. GEOLOGICAL SURVEY: It could be, but it probably won't be. Every earthquake makes other earthquakes more likely. And mostly those other earthquakes are smaller and we call them aftershocks.
A few percent of the time the aftershocks gets bigger than the main shock and then we change the name and call the first one a foreshock.
At this point, already a day after the event, the chances of that happening have gone down substantially.
FINNSTROM: Now, recently, the U.S. Geological Survey released a study that had some numbers that were a little sobering for people. One of them a 99 percent chance within the next 30 years of a magnitude 6.7 or greater.
Put that into context for us.
JONES: That's really a statement of the rate at which we have earthquakes in California. We can't tell you when the time of a particular one is, but we look at our rate and we see that we have never gone 30 years without at least one 6.7 -- in fact we haven't gone 20 years.
So the probability that we can make it 30 years without that event is practically nil, less than 3 percent, and it's just -- that's just statement -- this is a regular part of our lives.
FINNSTROM: All right. And this was good reminder of that.
Thank you, Dr. Jones.
Heidi, seismologists here also have a new generation of tools since the last significant earthquake which was about a decade ago. So they're hoping to learn a lot more information from this quake yesterday.
COLLINS: Yes, absolutely. I bet they'll be looking at it really closely, too.
Kara Finnstrom, thanks so much. Appreciate that.
HARRIS: So how do you know just when an earthquake is going to hit? Maybe your pet warns you. Certainly happened for us out in Northridge.
Reynolds Wolf is in the weather.
Reynolds, good morning.
REYNOLDS WOLF, CNN METEOROLOGIST: You know what's spooky about these earthquakes? When you have a thunderstorm you can see the skies getting dark, you can see the lightning, hear the thunder. You have an idea.
HARRIS: Good. I know where you're going.
WOLF: But with these earthquakes they can strike really at any time with very little warning. There are some warning systems around the world but they're very rudimentary and at best they only give you a few seconds.
However, there are some scientists out near Parkfield, California, that would be way up here on the map. And what they've done is they've actually noticed something pretty interesting.
They've noticed that right before an earthquake pressure increases underground near the fault, like, say, the San Andreas fault. What they've done is they've been drilling a hole to get this kind of information. They drill a hole that's about a half-mile deep into the ground. Then they get something -- kind looks like a stereo speaker and they drop it way, way, way, way down into the ground. And with that sensor, they're able to really get an idea of the pressure in the ground. It's that increasing pressure that they think might be the link to give people an idea, maybe up to an hour or so, when an earthquake may take place then they can take adequate shelter.
They are still a ways off but hopefully they'll be able to tackle that some time soon.
WOLF: But of course, we've got these fires to deal with. Conditions should be a little bit better. They're not going to get rain today but what they may get in places like Yosemite, better flying conditions so that the fixed-wing aircraft, the helicopters can go up, drop some of that flame retardant and try to help put that fire out.
Only 15 percent contained as we speak. It is just roaring out of control. Let's send it back to you.
COLLINS: Wow. All right, Reynolds. Thanks so much. Appreciate that.
WOLF: Anytime, guys.
COLLINS: Check back later on.
HARRIS: A little more on the earthquake now. Yesterday's earthquake had a magnitude of 5.4. Powerful, but not devastating and not nearly as strong as the 6.7 magnitude Northridge quake in 1994 that killed 60 people.
Seven years earlier, a 5.9 magnitude quake was centered in the same region. That heavily damaged older buildings and houses east of Los Angeles.
The last really big quake in the area, a 7.1 quake in the Southern California desert in 1999.
COLLINS: Your money, your concerns. The economy is "ISSUE #1" here at CNN. So let's go ahead and check the latest headlines affecting your wallet now.
All eyes on oil after prices hit a three-month low. This morning investors are awaiting a report on gas inventories and oil reserves. The latest figures are due out next hour.
Gas prices slide yet again. AAA says today's national average is less than $3.93 a gallon. Now that's a penny and a half less than just yesterday.
HARRIS: Behind closed doors. President Bush meets with his Cabinet this morning to discuss the nation's energy crisis, specifically they want to turn up the heat on Democrats who oppose offshore oil drilling.
Critics say coastlines would be at risk. President Bush says drilling would help bring down the price of oil. The issue is also generating debate between presidential candidates John McCain and Barack Obama.
COLLINS: In North Carolina police have charged a man with killing the pregnant soldier who was found in a motel bathtub last month.
Army Specialist Megan Touma was seven months pregnant when she died. Now fellow soldier Edgar Patino is facing charges. So far police have not released a motive but friends of the slain soldier say the pair had been romantically linked. They say they were once stationed together in Germany.
Patino is expected to be in court this morning.
North Carolina police expected to have a news conference at 11:00 Eastern this morning. And when that happens, we, of course, will bring it to you live.
HARRIS: And police are investigating a violent attack on some honeymooners. Police say someone barged into their cottage. The wife was killed, the husband now brain damaged. It happened at a luxurious resort on the island of Antigua.
John Irvine has more.
JOHN IRVINE, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice over): On this, the day they were supposed to welcome the honeymooners back to Britain, their parents instead landed here to identify the body of a murdered daughter and to be at the bedside of a son fighting for life.
And it was to the hospital they went first emerging 20 minutes later after seeing the wounds inflicted on Benjamin Mullany. He was shot in the back of the neck. One source described his condition as very critical.
It's the first murderous attack on tourists here in a decade.
(On camera): To give you some idea of the importance the Antiguans are attaching to this case, the parents were met at the airport by the minister of tourism and, here at the hospital, by the commissioner of police.
(Voice over): The top police officer told me he was still treating it as a robbery gone wrong. He also revealed that Mr. Mullany tried to put up a fight.
COMM. GARY NELSON, ROYAL POLICE FORCE OF ANTIGUA: It appears there was a struggle but it was over very quickly.
IRVINE: The murder scene remains sealed off but by ITV News did manage to obtain these pictures from inside the luxurious Cocos resort. There are guards posted here as a matter of course, but it seems they were easily bypassed by the killer or killers.
The Mullany's have spent 12 days here before the diabolical attack, before their little slice of heaven turned into hell.
HARRIS: That was John Irvine reporting.
Police have questioned at least six people, including some security guards at the resort. It is not clear if any of them are suspects.
COLLINS: Is your cell phone putting you and your children at risk? Our Dr. Sanjay Gupta with the latest on the debate.
HARRIS: And welcome back, everyone, to the CNN NEWSROOM. I'm Tony Harris.
It was no Hollywood special effect.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, "BIG BROTHER")
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Earthquake. What do I do? What do I do?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Go in the middle.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Stay on the ground.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HARRIS: The L.A. quake aftershocks and cleanup today.
HARRIS: John McCain making money. He picked up a little more than $3 million at a fund-raiser in Denver. That, as you know, is the site of the upcoming Democratic convention.
McCain stays in Colorado for the event today before heading to another fund-raiser in Kansas City.
Barack Obama spent Tuesday in Washington. He met with House Democratic leaders to talk about the campaign and his overseas trip.
Today he is in Springfield, Missouri where he will hold a town hall on the economy and CNN will bring you coverage of that speech later this morning.
COLLINS: Senator Ted Stevens says he did nothing wrong. The Alaska Republican now accused of lying about receiving more than $250,000 in gifts. Indicted on seven counts of perjury.
CNN's Joe Johns reports now Stevens isn't the only Alaska politician accused of corruption.
JOE JOHNS, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice over): Grainy videotape of a bribe going down in a hotel in remote Juneau, Alaska.
You are watching undercover video of an FBI sting on some Alaska state legislators, nicknamed "The Corrupt Bastards Club."
Pulling the strings here is a powerful Alaska oil man, Bill Allen. At the time he was CEO of VECO, an oil field services company. Allen was willing to pay to get some legislation that would favor his company.
In his hotel suite, powerful Alaska politicians were taking their seats one by one, often sharing a drink and promising to do what it takes to make the oil man happy.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I'll get her done. I'm serious.
BILL ALLEN, FORMER CEO, VECO: I know you'll do it. I'm serious about it.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I don't care, I'll get her done. I'll get her done.
ALLEN: I know. I know.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I'll sell my soul to the devil.
JOHNS: Seven players in Alaska business and politics have been convicted in the federal corruption investigation, but the biggest fish of all in the VECO case, Senator Ted Stevens.
Eight years ago in 2000, Stevens did a big renovation on this place -- his home near Anchorage. It's in disrepair now but we're told years ago Stevens put in a new basement, lifted the whole structure up and added a new first floor. By some estimates it doubled the value of the house.
Remember this guy, Bill Allen? Well, prosecutors say he's cooperating with them now. And those prosecutors say Allen's company basically paid for the labor and some nice extras. Total value -- more than $250,000.
MATTHEW FRIEDRICH, ACTING ASST. ATTORNEY GENERAL: VECO contractors and employees performed a significant portion of these renovations. For example, VECO and its employees and contractors are alleged to have provided architectural designs for the renovation, assisted in lifting up the residence, and installing a new first floor, installed electrical, plumbing, framing, heating and flooring materials.
JOHNS: You get the picture.
Stevens has long argued he did nothing wrong. SEN. TED STEVENS (R), ALASKA: I will tell you we paid every bill that was given to us. Every bill that was presented to us has been paid personally with our own money. And that's all there is to it.
JOHNS: This is arguably the lowest point in a monumental career. Stevens is one of a handful of politicians who literally built Alaska, thanks, in large part, to billions of dollars of federal earmarks, including money for those infamous, wildly expensive bridges to nowhere that launched a nationwide debate over how Congress doles out millions in pet projects.
And many believe today's indictment, whatever the outcome, could signal the end of an era.
STEVE ELLIS, TAXPAYERS FOR COMMON SENSE: We're starting to see the end of this go-go era of earmarking, and that every round of indictments and hopefully convictions in some cases really creates greater pressure, the public creates greater demand that there needs to be more accountability and transparency. And they're even sicker of the system.
JOHNS: In some ways Alaska has become the poster child of public corruption, regardless of what happens to Senator Ted Stevens. But all of the indictments in this case have sent a message that no matter how far you are from Washington or how powerful, the feds are always watching.
Joe Johns, CNN, Washington.
HARRIS: Your money. Stocks go up, gas prices come down. But oil prices are still too high for the airlines. Why you could pay more the next time you fly.
HARRIS: Well, could using your cell phone less save your life and are your children at risk from the devices?
Last night on CNN's "LARRY KING LIVE" experts from the American Cancer Society and the University of Pittsburgh debated these questions along with our own chief medical correspondent Dr. Sanjay Gupta.
Let's listen in.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This is a kind of radiation that is not ionizing radiation, this is not microwave radiation. A lot of people are confused by that. I'm afraid that we're pulling the fire alarm, scaring people unnecessarily.
DR. DEVRA DAVIS, UNIVERSITY OF PITTSBURGH: I think we shouldn't wait 20 years to experiment on our children and that's why we need to take precautions. We will eventually solve this scientifically, but I really am concerned about what we do in the meantime.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HARRIS: CNN chief medical correspondent Dr. Sanjay Gupta is following this.
Boy, Sanjay, we talked about this last week. The researchers from the University of Pittsburgh, boy, raised a lot of questions, specifically about the dangers of cell phones for children, saying kids should only use them in emergencies.
How much evidence -- you know this is the question from last week. I'll ask it again -- is there to back up this claim?
DR. SANJAY GUPTA, CNN CHIEF MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: There isn't. There isn't a lot of evidence to say that these cell phones are dangerous. Part of the problem is not a lot of evidence is to say that they are safe either.
That formal advisory that you're referring from the University of Pittsburgh, the first of its kind really from a major cancer institute, to say, look, you need to be a little bit careful how we use cell phones. And you're right, they talked about children specifically.
Tony, sometimes a picture is worth a thousand words. Let me show you a couple here that might...
HARRIS: Great. Great.
GUPTA: ... sort of illustrate this a bit. When you talk about the amount of radiation that a young brain sort of absorbs -- this is a 5-year-old child here. You could see this is the brain and this is the radiation plume sort of going into the brain. Use a different a -- over here for a 10-year-old child. You could see it's slightly smaller. And compare that to an adult, an even less radiation actually being absorbed by the brain.
Now it's fair to say, as the Dr. Brawley said, this is not ionizing radiation. That's the stuff that's in x-rays, everyone agrees that's bad for you. This is non-ionizing radiation.
Question is what does it do to the brain and what about all that heat that is generated...
GUPTA: ... close to the brain as well.
These kids are going to use these phones for 60, 70, 80 years. We just don't know what the impact of that is.
HARRIS: And that gets to the next question here, Sanjay. Even if there was, let's say, stronger research published tomorrow that says, yes, it is more likely that cell phones cause brain cancer, look, we are so dependent on them. What can we do? GUPTA: Yes, I mean, I'm certainly very dependent on mine.
HARRIS: Yes. Yes.
GUPTA: And you know, the wireless industry will say, look, you know, if you look at all these studies out there, the overwhelming majority of studies show that wireless phones do not pose a significantly increased risk.
And they have stood by the statement despite all these other discussions.
GUPTA: What they'll also say, and even read some of the small print that comes with your cell phone, they'll say don't hold it right next to your ear. I think an earpiece, which you and I have talked about in the past...
HARRIS: Yes. Yes.
GUPTA: ... is a good idea, a wired earpiece. You have that, you put the cell phone, the radiation source, away from your head. That seems to be a pretty good idea and limit the amount of time that your kids spend on the phone as well. We just don't know how -- what the impact of that's going to be.
Text message. That's another option. (INAUDIBLE), Tony.
HARRIS: There you go.
Hey, Sanjay, very quickly, the biopsy results are in on John McCain. What do they tell us?
GUPTA: This was a mole. This was not melanoma. This was a suspicious mole. And that's what they say. There was no evidence of cancer, there is no further treatment necessary.
Here's a little extra tidbit for you. We have about 10 to 40 moles, on average, on the human body. And every now and then they turn suspicious, which is what happened in the case of Senator McCain. And they had that removed.
He is at increased risk for melanoma.
GUPTA: Again, because he's had it four times in the past. But not in this case. This appears to be cancer-free.
HARRIS: All right, there he is, our chief medical correspondent, Dr. Sanjay Gupta.
Sanjay, great to see you.
GUPTA: Thanks, Tony. HARRIS: Thank you, sir.
GUPTA: All right.
COLLINS: Stocks look up for today's open. How about that? Now only a few minutes away now. The Dow making a comeback from a big loss earlier in the week.
Gerri Willis is "Minding Your Business" this morning.
So, Gerri, we closed to the positive yesterday. Pretty strongly.
GERRI WILLIS, CNN PERSONAL FINANCE EDITOR: No kidding.
COLLINS: Yes. What about today?
WILLIS: Yes. 2.4 percent. The Dow Industrials closing up at -- or up, yes, at -- I'm so used to saying down.
COLLINS: No, no, no, no. Change that thinking.
WILLIS: Right. 11349, now I have to say here, we're still 20 percent below the -- at the high last October. We're still in the bear. But, boy, isn't that the right direction and it reversed what happened the day before? So that's all good news. And the stock market may open even higher today.
We've got some private sector employment numbers that surprisingly on the up side. So that's good news.
Also good news on crude oil. Prices for crude per barrel yesterday trading down, as you can see here, $122.19 a barrel. That's the close. Even better this morning. Gas prices down. Consumers -- isn't this fabulous? What a wonderful world.
Well, let me stop that thought right now because Delta came out with some news that you may not want to hear about. They are upping their baggage charges for that second bag if you're flying, because they feel the pressure of these high gas prices.
Remember, you may think they're lower but they're still 60 percent higher than they were a year ago. They're taking that charge for that second checked bag. As you can see here from 25 bucks to 50, doubling it.
Look what happens if you bring even more bags on. The charges for those third, fourth and fifth bags, $80 to $125. Overweight bags, you got to pay more.
We actually did the math on this. And if you send your bags maybe, you know, DHL, FedEx, one of the overnight services, it's even cheaper to do it that way.
COLLINS: Yes, oh, definitely.
WILLIS: So, my advice, you know, travel like a rock star, send your bags ahead of you. But this is tough for folks out there because they're having to pay more for travel. And as you know, we've had fare hikes this year. 21 were attempted. 15 were successful.
So not only is the price of your ticket going up, but those additional charges are going up as well.
And now, you know, sometimes you see the taxes, the charges, they're more than the ticket itself.
COLLINS: Yes, no question about that.
Gerri, you know what? We're going to talk a lot more about this a little bit later on in the show. We've got someone coming on to sort of discuss why the airlines are going...
COLLINS: ... this route with the baggage when a lot of people just say just put it on my ticket -- you know fuel costs -- and I'll feel better about it. So we're going to talk more about that.
WILLIS: Interesting topic.
COLLINS: Yes. Appreciate it.
Gerri, thank you.
WILLIS: My pleasure.
HARRIS: So the Dow fights off the bears with big gains yesterday. What about today? The opening bell just minutes away.
ANNOUNCER: Live in the CNN NEWSROOM, Tony Harris and Heidi Collins.
HARRIS: And here we are closing in on the half-hour. Welcome back, everyone, to the CNN NEWSROOM. I'm Tony Harris.
COLLINS: Hi there, everybody. I'm Heidi Collins.
TONY HARRIS, CNN ANCHOR: Wow, look at that.
LISOVICZ: Yes. Big roar on the floor.
LISOVICZ: Tony, As Gerri just mentioned a few minutes ago, we're watching oil now, down about $25 since its high of $147 a barrel earlier this month. And we're looking at stock prices and -- oh, yes, I'm seeing the Dow up 13 points.
HARRIS: That's a nice start. LISOVICZ: It has ankles. Not quite legs yet.
HARRIS: All right, Susan. We will be checking in with you throughout the morning. Good to see you, lady. Thank you.
HARRIS: Shaken and a little stirred as people in Southern California go back to business as usual this morning. You know they're going to be talking about yesterday's 5.4 magnitude earthquake. It was centered near Chino Hills. A lot of that activity going on today, cleaning up. But buildings swayed from Los Angeles to San Diego. So far, dozens of aftershocks. There was some damage, but no major injuries. The biggest jolt appears to have been to nerves.
HEIDI COLLINS, CNN ANCHOR: This morning firefighters are hoping cooler weather helps them get ahead of an inferno in Northern California. Mandatory evacuation orders are still in place for hundreds of residents near Yosemite National Park.
CNN's Dan Simon is there.
DAN SIMON, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The fire is showing no signs of quieting down. That's because it has a virtually endless supply of fuel. Miles and miles of brush and dry vegetation just waiting to ignite. The flames have climbed 100 feet into the air. Even seasoned firefighters have been amazed by the spectacle.
RICH CADIGAN, FIREFIGHTER: This is something. And the state being stretched already because of all the fires and stuff that, you know, we've had to call in crews from Arizona and things like that. So, this is something.
SIMON: The Red Cross opened an evacuation center for people who had to flee their homes. It's where we caught up with Mary Briggs who received word her home had been destroyed.
MARY BRIGGS, HOME DESTROYED BY FIRE: I keep remembering things I lost and it's hard. And I don't have a -- I don't have a home.
SIMON: A lot of what she has now inside a single garbage bag and the single mother did not have fire insurance.
BRIGGS: I didn't think it was going to burn. I had to go to work and we grabbed a couple of things. And I just figured we go back the next day and it would be there. And it's not there, you know.
SIMON: Many people here live on vast acres of land with goats, sheep and other livestock. The local fairgrounds has turned into its own evacuation shelter for animals. Where there are no flames, chances are, you can still see smoke.
Yosemite National Park remains open, but the views aren't quite the same. Still, park officials are not discouraging people from visiting.
SCOTT GEDIMA, PARK RANGER: Certainly the visibility and air quality are a factor. But the park is open and fully operational.
SIMON: Authorities believe this wildfire which has destroyed at least 25 homes was started by a target shooter. But at this point, they believe it was entirely accidental.
Dan Simon, CNN, Mariposa, California.
COLLINS: Yes. And that's one of the things that's really a shame about that, the way that it all started.
CNN meteorologist Reynolds Wolf joining me now to talk a little bit more about this.
And we were -- during the course of break, we started talking about, you got to have really good conditions to be able to fight the fire. Certainly something to this magnitude.
REYNOLDS WOLF, CNN METEOROLOGIST: Absolutely. I mean, if you fight the fire and you're just dealing with ground forces, it's kind of like battling with one hand tied behind your back. If you have of course the ability to have better sky conditions, you can use -- well, the ability to fight from high above with aircraft like this helicopter you see behind me, and you can fight with those ground crews, too.
Let's take this full. Let's also show you a better view of this video. You can see -- here it is. This sky crane picking up random water, heading up behind those hills. What's interesting is it is going to try to douse this fire, which is burning fully. This has been sitting there in some places for over 100 years. So, this has had plenty of time to dry out. Here's the sky crane right there. One of the great tools that used to battle the blaze.
Lot of times they load it not just with fire retardant, but one of the best natural fire retardants, which happens to be water. Unfortunately, no water from the skies today. No rain in the forecast for parts of Yosemite, but they're going to be dealing with better conditions in terms of the wind. Another issue they sometimes have is you have the problems with inversion, you have a layer of really dry air aloft.
The dry air can sometimes keep that smoke really close to the ground which will keep the aircraft actually seeing the fire. They cannot be able to see it to know where they're going to douse. Right now much of it just in parts of the -- as I mentioned, that's here in Nevada, not far at all from Yosemite.
Now, further out to the east we're dealing not with fire but really with rain and way too much of it. We have flash flood watches that are in effect, warnings in effect, from Kansas City back over to Columbia at this hour. The rain continues to fall earlier and it was much stronger.
In fact, rainfall rates around an inch per hour. They could see anywhere from three to four inches of rain in many spots, although it does appear it is losing a bit of its intensity at this time.
Now, back to the east, we are not dealing with rain at all. We're not dealing with fire, although it feels like fire in some places. The heat is going to be extreme today. The heat index over 100 today especially by the late afternoon. We've got high temperatures that are mainly be into the low to mid 90s. But when you have that breeze coming in from the coast, that high humidity is going to make it feel like it is well beyond 100 degrees in Philadelphia.
A bit farther to the south, say in the Carolinas, it is going to be a warm time out by the parade (INAUDIBLE), in South Carolina. Also Buford, it's going to be really hot by the Air Force base.
And as you head out towards parts of Greenville, to Clarksdale, to Memphis blistering heat here. It is definitely summer in parts of the Mississippi Valley. That's a look at your forecast. Let's send it back to you at the news desk.
COLLINS: All right, Reynolds. We know you're watching it all. Thank you.
WOLF: Any time.
JOSH LEVS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: More drilling, less speculating. Everyone in Congress now has different ideas about how to lower the price of gas for you. We are about to break it down.
COLLINS: A stroke of the pen and help may be on the way for thousands of troubled homeowners. This morning, President Bush signed a massive rescue plan into law. It provides a safety net for mortgage giants Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, and throws a lifeline to many homeowners at risk of foreclosure. Some 400,000 homeowners could benefit from the rescue plan. The new law goes into effect October 1st.
HARRIS: Drilling for oil on Capitol Hill. Well, in a matter of speaking. Josh Levs is following different ideas on how to bring down the high cost of energy.
Josh, good morning to you. This is important because the ideas that you're about to talk about here are being hashed out right now in Congress. So, let the horse trading begin.
LEVS: Yes, horse trading and oil drilling in the sense. I like that. And here's the deal. This is a perfect example of a time that you hear so many competing arguments, all these arguments flying around Washington. Today, we'll hear the president weighing in on it. You're going to hear lots of arguments from Democrats and Republicans.
If you have a few facts at the core, you can decide what you think. And that's what we want to do for you right now. We're going to start off with a look at one major argument from the Democrats and one from the Republicans.
Let's first go to this graphic. We have summarizing where the Democrats stand on this. One of their biggest proposals. They're pushing a Senate bill now aimed at curbing speculators. And some are blaming oil speculation for 20 -- Tony, up to 50 percent of the overall price hike. But opponents say it is actually less than that.
They also argue that if you try to crack down on it inside the U.S., all that will happen is you'll increase it everywhere else. You'll have the same amount of speculation and the price won't go down overall.
HARRIS: Yes, you hear that. Yes.
LEVS: Now, I took a look at this fact check from "The Houston Chronicle," which was really in depth and really good. Let's talk of this quote we have from there. They say this, "The law of supply and demand remains really the prime culprit for high energy prices." And OPEC has been holding down supply. They says their best estimate is that $20 to $30 per barrel is the premium attributable to speculation. So, it's still a bunch of money.
HARRIS: That's right.
LEVS: But they're saying the idea of 50 percent is way too high.
LEVS: Let's jump over to the GOP now. I want to show you one of their major ideas. And they are pushing to allow offshore oil drilling. A lot of Republicans pushed that. Supporters say -- look, it could help in the long when today's children are adults. And they also said that you could get some oil out of it in months after starting.
But opponents say -- you know what, there will be no significant amount for years. Plus, they're concerned about possible spills. I pulled this up from the Energy Information Administration. Let's take a look at this. They say the projections that have been done indicate that if you open up access to the Pacific, the Atlantic and the eastern Gulf regions, it would not have a significant impact on crude oil and natural gas production or prices until 2030.
So, they're saying -- look, short term, you really have very little to work with right there. Well, some basics there. And actually, one thing I want to show you before we go, we have this really cool map, Tony.
LEVS: Can we close in on this for a second. What this map does at cnn.com, it shows you areas where drilling is taking place today, which are in blue. And the yellow, this huge stretch that you see here on both coasts, those are areas not available for drilling that would be available if the ban was lived.
So, you can see that map and read more about the arguments and all sides at cnn.com.
HARRIS: It's terrific. That's terrific. When are you back? Next hour or 11:00 Eastern hour?
LEVS: I think the 11:00 Eastern hour, we're looking at more.
HARRIS: Can't wait. That's great stuff. Thanks, Josh.
LEVS: Yes. Thanks, Tony.
COLLINS: Closer to a war crimes trial. The so-called Butcher of Bosnia taken from his home country.
COLLINS: A Qantas jet lost the use of crucial flight instruments after an oxygen bottle exploded in the cargo hold. That's the latest from Australian officials investigating that weekend emergency. Investigators say an oxygen bottle like this one exploded, blasting a hole in the plane's fuselage. Tank fragments were found in the passenger cabin. The London and Melbourne flight made an emergency landing in the Philippines. You remember these pictures. 365 people were on board. They were all OK.
HARRIS: Radovan Karadzic, extradited. The former Bosnian-Serb president now in the custody on a war crimes tribunal.
CNN's senior international correspondent Nic Robertson looks at the next steps.
NIC ROBERTSON, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice- over): Well, it's taken just over 3-1/2 hours for Radovan Karadzic to leave Belgrade and arrive here at the detention facility in The Hague. The detention facility for the international war crimes tribunal for the former Yugoslavia. Two helicopters coming in above the detention facility.
(on camera): So, while that helicopter has brought Radovan Karadzic into the detention facility -- has landed inside the detention facility, the other helicopter still circling around. We do understand from officials here that Radovan Karadzic will not be expected to go to the court just a few minutes straight from here today, Wednesday. That will likely happen in the next few days.
The judges will decide 24, 48 hours for Radovan Karadzic to go to the court to face the indictment, those charges against him including genocide, complicity in genocide, murder, wilful killings, exterminations. Those are some of the charges that will be put before hand by the prosecutor.
He will be to enter a plea, guilty or not guilty. He'll also have the opportunity to enter a deferred plea up to 30 days. He will have to enter a plea. But during that time he will be brought back here to the detention facility. This is where he's going to be held inside the detention facility. It could be several months before the trial begins. That will give time for the prosecution and the defense to prepare their cases.
Analysts say that the trial could last several years, but if the prosecution is successful, Radovan Karadzic could receive a sentence in decades, as many as 40 years. He is already in his early 60s. That would effectively amount to a life sentence. Therefore, that means, now Radovan Karadzic is inside the detention facility here at The Hague. He may never leave this building, this place, as a free man ever again. Nic Robertson, CNN, The Hague, The Netherlands.
COLLINS: Disorder in the court. Hollywood captures the Los Angeles quake.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Well, we got your credit card -- your bank card somehow and you got your P.I.N. number somehow.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COLLINS: Boy, the looks on the faces, huh? Today, high anxiety, aftershocks and the big one.
HARRIS: Want to tell you about the podcast again. You already know to catch us weekday mornings from 9:00 a.m. until noon Eastern. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you. But you know you can also take us with you anywhere on your iPod. It's that gadget that the kids seem to love so much. The CNN NEWSROOM podcast, available to you 24/7 right there on your -- let's see the graphic, let's see it, wait for it, wait for it, right there on your iPod. Beautiful.
COLLINS: Gas, dirt cheap. Just 66 cents in Alabama? It was a short time promotion by a car dealership. And here's how it works. The first 350 drivers in line were allowed to fill up with 15 gallons but it only cost them about $10, instead of the usual $60. The dealership says all the money will be donated to local schools.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TERRY THOMPSON, OWNER, TERRY THOMPSON CHEVROLET: We were just trying to create something positive in the market. It just seems like there's a lot of bad economic news, gas is the topic.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COLLINS: So, where did the idea for a 66-cent gas come from? The owner of the dealership says he wanted to put a spin on a 99 cent promotion, so he flipped the numbers around. HARRIS: Have that. You really got a story. A light fingers and a heavy burden. Here's a story to share at the dinner table this morning. Miami police have arrested a man who strapped this massive utility pole to his van and dragged it to a recycling company.
The man said -- look, it had been just lying around there on the ground for months and so he wanted to sell it for scrap. He didn't quite understand what all the fuss was about.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ELIO VALERA, THEFT SUSPECT: Hey, if I'm doing this to recycle, everyone (INAUDIBLE). They should have done it three months ago.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: So, you're saying it's been on the floor for a while?
VALERA: Three months. Why don't they pick it up?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HARRIS: Elio, my man. The lamp post belongs to Florida Power and Light. And the man now faces theft charges. In fact, while police were at the recycling center, they also arrested another customer. He was trying to sell a sewer cover.
COLLINS: More than 70 small aftershocks have been reported after a 5.4 magnitude quake hit Chino Hills about 30 miles from downtown L.A. You've been sending us your pictures and video, and our Veronica De La Cruz has been going through them this morning.
So, Veronica, I don't know, I'm sure you've seen some of the other video that we've seen from the courtroom, some of the shows that we're being taped. The looks on people's faces, you know, just shocking, not really knowing what to do.
VERONICA DE LA CRUZ, CNN INTERNET CORRESPONDENT: Shock. And then that surprise me. There are some people who just kept going.
COLLINS: I know.
DELA CRUZ: Oh, this isn't really happening.
COLLINS: They didn't believe it. They didn't know what it was probably.
DELA CRUZ: I know. Well, let me show you what I've got, Heidi. This first iReport is from Travis Corcoran (ph) in Laguna Niguel, California. That's just outside of Mission Viejo. Take a look. This is his pool and he was able to grab his camera as soon as the quake struck.
Take a look at the bogey board in the middle of the pool, Heidi. That kind of gives you an idea of how strong this quake actually was. I mean, it turned the normally still body of water in his backyard into what looks like a wave pool there, you know. COLLINS: Yes, it does. Doesn't it?
DELA CRUZ: Yes. You know, Travis said that he and his mom were eating lunch. Then his do starts going nuts. And that's when he felt the rolling. And he felt -- he said that it lasted for about 20 seconds. So, some good video shot by Travis Corcoran (ph).
This next video is from Pomona. It's actually still photos. We are looking at the video earlier. That was the building that we're looking at just a couple of moments ago. This is photo -- a photo by Matt Hartman. This is the roof which basically collapsed. An old brick building there in Pomona California. And that was about five miles from the quakes' epicentre which was Chino Hills.
All right, let's get you now to Norm Luckett in Orange County. He also shot a photo for us. He says -- we live (INAUDIBLE) which is about 45 miles as well. A wave from the quakes' epicentre is about south, but it's south from Chino Hills. He said it didn't seem so bad in my office in Anaheim when the quake happened, but Norm was shocked when he checked his house because all the drawers, the cabinets in the house were open, glassware, lamps, vases broken everywhere. So, quite a shock when he got home. He said it was a big mess.
So, that's what I have so far. I'm going to continue to go through your iReports. If you have something -- photos, videos, go ahead and send them to us. We're going to work to get those on the air throughout the day.
COLLINS: Yes, absolutely. It's got to be terrifying. I've never been through anything like that.
DELA CRUZ: You haven't? You've never been through an earthquake.
COLLINS: No, just tornadoes, but not the earthquake.
DELA CRUZ: Well, it is scary but luckily, you know, very, very minor damage from what we've seen. No injuries reported so that's the good news, you know.
COLLINS: Yes, no question. Well, we'll continue to follow this one and everything that comes in the aftermath certainly. Veronica De La Cruz, thank you.
HARRIS: Saving the endangered Sumatran elephants. CNN's Arwa Damon takes us on the ride with Indonesia's elephant protectors.
COLLINS: There are believed to be fewer than 2,000 Sumatran elephants left in the wild. Their habitat in Indonesia shrinking rapidly. CNN's Arwa Damon reports on one effort to protect them.
(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE) ARWA DAMON, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): First order of the day, breakfast. We're at the Flying Squad Camp. Four adult elephants, some much younger additions and their handlers. Sam, who runs the camp, warns us about Tesso (ph). He's the naughty one, he says. We don't need convincing.
Tesso and the rest are endangered Sumatran elephants. They're fed and bathed by Sam and his team, but life wasn't always this easy. These elephants were captured by government officials and kept in camps of poor conditions. Victims of the struggle for land between man and beast.
SAM SUARDIN, ELEPHANT FLYING SQUAD (through translator): The conflict happens when the elephant leave their natural habitat or when people move into their habitat and clear it to plant plantations over it.
DAMON: Now the Flying Squad is part of the battle to save the Sumatran elephant. It was set up by the World Wild Life fund along with the Indonesian government four years ago.
Its mission, as can you see in this video from the WWF, is to coax wild elephants back into what's left of the Tesamilo (ph) Forest, and away from farmers who might shoot or poison them. We joined them on patrol.
The World Wildlife Fund estimates that about 200 Sumatran elephants remain in the Province of Riau. That's a decline of 85 percent in the last two decades. In the same time, much Riau's natural forest, around 4 million hectares, has been turned into palm oil plantations, or cut down for the paper industry.
Encroachment by humans into an area proposed by the WWF as a protective park has only exacerbated the conflict.
(on camera): This is the conflict zone, palm, the elephants love it. It's like their version of cotton candy, so they come here looking for a tasty treat and then clash with humans.
(voice-over): And this is the aftermath. Elephants poisoned by farmers. Farmlands trampled by elephants in a desperate search for food. Toha (ph) used to have a palm plantation. He has replanted it with less tempting rubber trees. He said the Flying Squad patrols have helped keep the elephants away. But it's what some wildlife experts describe as a Band-Aid solution.
SUARDIN (through translator): What the flying squad does for elephant conservation, especially Riau, is only a short-term solution. The long-term requires us to provide them with a habitat.
DAMON: Or the WWF warns in a few years Sumatran elephants could be extinct in the wild.
Arwa Damon, CNN, Riau, Indonesia.