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President Bush Focusing on Energy; McCain's Plan for the Economy; Barack Obama is Missouri; War Crimes Suspect Radovan Karadzic on Trail Today

Aired July 31, 2008 - 10:00   ET


HEIDI COLLINS, CNN ANCHOR: Good morning, everybody. I'm Heidi Collins.
TONY HARRIS, CNN ANCHOR: And I'm Tony Harris. Stay informed all day in the CNN NEWSROOM.

Here's what's on the rundown. "Issue number one," record gas prices today and oil giant reports a record of its own. The biggest quarterly profit ever by a U.S. corporation.

COLLINS: President Bush focusing on energy this hour. Pushing cleaner burning coal technology. Live from West Virginia.

HARRIS: The charge genocide, the one-time Bosnian Serb leader makes his first appearance at the Hague this hour. Live coverage today, Thursday, July 31st, you're in the CNN NEWSROOM.

HARRIS: Your wallet, "Issue #1" and this morning, new numbers to gauge the health of the economy. The government says the economy grew 1.9 percent last quarter. That's more than double the rate of first quarter growth. The government's stimulus checks get much of the credit. But last week jobless claims jumped to their highest level in five years. That number much worse than expected.

These are the best of times for Exxon Mobil, the oil company says its second quarter earnings rose almost 14 percent to, get this, $11.68 billion. That is the biggest quarterly profit ever by a U.S. company. Oil prices have climbed since this time yesterday. One reason, rising tensions over Iran's nuclear program. Gas is down more than a penny and a half this morning. Today's national average about $3.91 a gallon.

Let's get you to the New York Stock Exchange right now for a look at the big board. The Dow down, 56 points inside the first hour of the trading day. We will check in with Suzanne Lisovicz for a read on the markets. And the President, he is talking about the country's energy crisis. President Bush live from coal country 2:30 a.m. Eastern right here on CNN.

COLLINS: A baggage breakdown at one of the nation's busiest airports. This morning, American Airlines says it has solved the computer glitch at New York's JFK airport. The foul-up separated thousands of pieces of luggage from their owners. Dozens of flights were canceled, including six this morning.


NORMAN ROBINSON, PASSENGER: I'm frustrated because I was concerned about whether or not the bags were going to disappear. And you know, that's why I took my bags - I didn't put my bags on American. Because all the people, right now, I'm sure are frustrated because they don't have their stuff.


COLLINS: American Airlines says it can't estimate how many passengers were affected. It says the bags are being sent to their destinations today.

HARRIS: Progress on the war front, President Bush this morning giving a cautiously upbeat assessment of security gains in Iraq. He says terrorists are on the run and U.S. troop reductions this year could continue if security holds.


PRES. GEORGE W. BUSH, UNITED STATES OF AMERICA: Violence is down to its lowest level since the spring of 2004. And we're now in our third consecutive month with reduced violence levels holding steady. General Petraeus and Ambassador Cocker cautioned that the progress is still reversible. They report that there now appears to be a degree of durability to the gains that we have made.


HARRIS: President Bush also announced combat tours in Iraq are being cut immediately from 15 months to 12 months and on the important question of how long U.S. troops will remain in Iraq, the President says the United States is making progress in its discussions with Iraqi officials.

COLLINS: The U.S. general calling the shots in Iraq expected to call for troop cuts soon. Live to CNN senior Pentagon correspondent Jamie McIntyre now. so, Jamie, what does this mean for the U.S. military as a whole?

JAMIE MCINTYRE, CNN SENIOR PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT: Well you know, if you were look for hints in President Bush's statement for what's coming, the key word there was durability. It's the first time that the president, the administration has said that the progress they've had they've made in Iraq looks like it might hold. It's durable enough to allow those troop draw downs.

General David Petraeus is scheduled to make a decision late next month or perhaps early in September before he turns over control of Iraq to his successor General Raymond Odierno. Every indication is he is going to recommend some troop draw downs, including we have some indications that some units, some small units that were packing up to go to Iraq that basically have been told to stand down and wait for those decisions from General Petraeus so they don't get there and then aren't need. Of course, the big problem for the administration is they need more resources for Afghanistan. They're not able to do that until these troop draw down decisions in Iraq are made. And it looks like General Petraeus is not in a hurry to do that. Sources close to him say he wants to talk to all of his commanders before he decides on what he's going to recommend in just about six weeks.

COLLINS: And when we talk about Afghanistan, by way of troop draw down, it always seems like a pertinent question to ask about special-ops and whether or not that is a direction that the military could go.

MCINTYRE: Well, you know, there are some special operations troops that could be very useful in Afghanistan as they're trying to steal the border and take back the initiative from the Taliban. But what the commanders in Afghanistan really need are some just enough troops to cover more territory. Up to at least 10,000 additional troops. And the other critical need is for military trainers. They really need to do an Afghanistan what they appear to be able to have accomplished in Iraq, which is get some of the Afghan forces to stand up and take some of this burden.

That's really the long-term key. So one of the critical needs is for trainers. And the United States has just not been able to get its NATO allies to come up with the kind of troops that can train the forces in Afghanistan.

COLLINS: Sorry, Jamie, I didn't mean to giggle but we lost your light and we kind of lost you there.

There you are. Now you're back. And we appreciate it. Durability is certainly an interesting word. Flexibility, I think, is always going to be a word that we hear at the U.S. military in these conflicts. We sure do appreciate it. CNN's Jamie McIntyre at the Pentagon.

HARRIS: Nine U.S. troops were killed in Iraq this month. That's the lowest death toll for American forces in Iraq since the 2003 invasion. It reflects the overall drop in violence. The President referred to this morning. Meanwhile, in Afghanistan, 20 U.S. troops were killed this month. And that makes July the first month the military has had more casualties in Afghanistan than in Iraq.

COLLINS: Breaking news that we want to get you immediately over with Rob Marciano in the weather center now. Another tornado, is this a separate tornado now than what we reported off the top of the show, Minneapolis?

ROB MARCIANO, CNN, METEOROLOGIST: Yes, they allowed that one to expire. And the storm itself is kind of reformed a little bit farther to the south. This whole complex system has been rolling across the upper Midwest all morning long with damaging winds in excess of 60 and some cases 70 miles an hour. And now it's in through southern parts of Minnesota. We had a tornado warning just west of - or earlier, that part of the storm has since collapsed and the rotation of the strongest winds has kind of moved a little bit farther down to the south.

So, now the counties that are under a tornado warning include Goodhue, Rice and Steele counties in south central Minneapolis. This is - or Minnesota. This is a severe thunderstorm warning that is out for the next couple of hours. We'll zoom in and highlight the counties that are under this tornado warning. Come on, pop up for me.

Well, right in through here is where that warning should be popping up. And Kenya and Bombay, Mullen and Ruskin are some of the communities that are in the path of this. Regardless of whether this has a tornado in it, right now it's radar indicated. There have been strong winds reported with this whole system for the past several hours. And you will see damaging winds in south central Minnesota and will be driving south into Iowa as well. This not so bad across the Ohio and Tennessee Valleys but we will see you then fire up across parts of the mid Atlantic and across the upper mid west. Jet stream energy which typically rises along the Canadian border this time of the year will have to instigate those storms.

84 degrees in Dallas. Live picture, what have we got? Do we do Dallas this hour? I know we got talking heat because temperatures in Dallas will be up around 100. In Denver, they will 95 degrees. There's a live picture. KWGN. Guys, Denver today will probably be the 19th day in a row where Denver has seen 90 plus degrees. And that will be a new record. So given the mile high city can't stay cool on this last day of July heat.

COLLINS: Yes. I guess not. Hey, Rob. That tornado, the second one that we're talking about, in Minnesota, down south. I'm just wondering if it's anywhere near, Mankato, where they had that terrible tornado a few years ago.

MARCIANO: What part of the state is Mankato?

COLLINS: Down south. Yes. I think I saw that on your map. So I was just curious.

MARCIANO: I'll check it out and see if it's in one of those three counties that I discussed. But right now it's not indicated to be on the ground. Just radar indicated, up in the air and no reports on the ground. So we look for those storm spotters to help us out.

COLLINS: Yes. Great. OK. Rob, thanks.

MARCIANO: You got it.

COLLINS: Right now, one of the most notorious figures from the Bosnian war getting his day in court. You are looking at live pictures now coming to us from the Hague. Former Bosnian Serb leader Radovan Karadzic stands accused of genocide and crimes against humanity. He will be asked to enter a plea, among other things. Karadzic is accused of masterminding the Srebrenica massacre and Siege of Sarajevo. We will keep you updated on his appearance throughout the morning.

HARRIS: What's threatened and what's not? We're getting a handle on California's wildfires.


COLLINS: Putting out fires, crews in California reportedly have contained about 40 percent now of the wildfire near Yosemite National Park. Yesterday, I think we were only at about 10 percent. So this is a nice increase there overnight. Several residents being allowed back into their homes that are near the park. Still though, evacuation orders remain in effect for about 100 homes near mid Pines. That's about a dozen miles from the park. The fires burned more than 32,000 acres and destroyed 21 homes.

HARRIS: The perils of plastic, abused by your credit card company, a bill of rights may be on the way.


COLLINS: Another look now at former Bosnian Serb leader Radovan Karadzic appearance at the Hague. Live pictures for you. It is the first step for trying him in some of the most notorious atrocities from the Bosnian war. CNN's Alessio Vinci is in Bosnia for us this morning. Alessio, what are people saying about Karadzic's appearance here?

ALESSIO VINCI, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Heidi, well, just a few moments ago Bosnians here in Sarajevo have been able to watch for the first time a recent picture of Radovan Karadzic, the former Bosnian Serb leader, who is wildly believed to be responsible for the 1992- 1995 war here that has brought this country to its knees, especially a 44-month long siege. And now for the first time after 13 years, the people here at Sarajevo are able to see him on dock at the U.N. war crimes tribunal at the Hague where he faces a series of charges including genocide, war crimes, crimes against humanity and a series of other atrocities.

So for Sarajevo this is a historical day. I'm going to be just stepping out of way here to let you see how some of the people of Sarajevo are watching these proceedings on Bosnian television. 13 years after the war ended, this has become once again a vibrant and even cosmopolitan town, which has been largely revealed and this is one of the many cafes in the downtown area, the old area of Sarajevo.

It is impossible to miss the reminders of that siege, of that war, even if it ended 15 years - 13 years ago. I was walking earlier to a nearby market here that was shelled several times during the war, and while people were going about doing their shopping, buying their groceries. On one side of the market you could see a large red wall with the names of 67 people that were killed in a single attack back in 1994. You walk 300 meters away from there, there is still the holes of - the shrapnel holes on a sidewalk nearby there where there was a bread line where people were waiting in line to buy bread. The city was really choked and there was very difficult to find any kind of food, any time there was any kind of supplies, people will line up and wait in line, sometimes for hours to be able to buy or get a hold of a loaf of bread. One of those lines was once attacked back in 1995. And there are 26 people were killed. The shrapnel of that mortar shell are still there and they have been filled with red paint, red paint that, of course, symbolizes the blood that was spilled here during that war. Tony.

COLLINS: Wow, look at that. Alessio, that's unbelievable. And obviously those are memories that people will have a very, very hard time forgetting in Bosnia. I'm sure they're watching closely the proceedings today. Alessio Vinci for us in Bosnia. Thanks so much, Alessio.

HARRIS: And I'm going to get you to the New York Stock Exchange right now. A bit of a roller coaster ride so far this morning. As Suzanne indicated it would be a rough start to the Dow. And for a while there we were looking at triple digit losses. We've come off of those session lows right now. The Dow as you can see down 41 points. Let me see here. The Nasdaq up about 10. And the S&P up as well at last check. We're going to check in with Suzanne Lisovicz and get a read on the markets, coming up in just minutes here in the NEWSROOM.

And he is talking about the country's energy crisis. President Bush live from Coal Country, Greenbrier, West Virginia at 10:30 a.m. Eastern, right here on CNN.


COLLINS: Questionable practices by a credit card company. They dogged customers for years. But a credit card bill of rights is working its way to Congress now. Personal finance editor Gerri Willis is here with more details. Hi there, Gerri.


COLLINS: Is this going to help consumers?

WILLIS: Well, OK. Let's take a look at this first. The credit card bill of rights is authored by Representative Carolyn Maloney will be considered today by a congressional committee. Now, this is a final hurdle before it reaches the vote of the House of Representatives. And take a look at some of the proposals of the bill. It prevents companies from applying interest rate hikes retroactively to old balances as long as the customer is in good standing with that particular card. It prohibits card companies from arbitrarily changing the terms of the contract, the interest rate, whatever. This bill requires the consumer to get 45 days notice of interest rate increases. And companies must mail billing statements 25 days before the due date so they can't compress that cycle. Maloney emphasizes that credit card company practice like penalty interest rates, universal default, interest rate changes, double cycle billing may push more, may push more and more folks into bankruptcy.

COLLINS: Yikes. We certainly don't want that to happen. When we talk about the credit crunch though, I mean, how is that really affecting credit card holders?

WILLIS: Well, that's an interesting question. You know, thanks to the credit crunch and the growing number of defaults card, issuers are coming down hard on borrowers. Even if you have a good credit score and you pay your balances on time, you are not safe. A recent study by Consumer Action found that more credit card companies are cutting credit limits on your cards which can hurt your credit score, especially if you charge close to the limit. OK. So they're also raising interest rates or terms at any time for any reason. Fees are one way that credit card companies can raise money according to experts we talked to. So it gives you a sense of the practices out there.

COLLINS: Yes. No question. Is there anything you can do to protect yourself?

WILLIS: Well, clearly, you've got to pay your bills online and on time.

Consumer Action Survey found that a majority of lenders, even if your payment is just one or two days late you trigger a default interest rate which can be as high as 27 percent. Now if you find that your credit limit was cut as we discussed before, call your issuer and ask to have your previous credit limit raised. In the meantime, try to keep your balances less than 30 percent of your overall credit limit. That way you're not going to hurt your credit score.

COLLINS: All right. Well, what's being done then in Washington regarding all of this? Anything? Tell me, something.

WILLIS: Well, you know, this bill is coming up and it's going to be discussed in the committee today. This is a credit card bill of rights. And as we mentioned, in the meantime the Federal Reserve is also outlining some changes to the way credit card companies operate. And you can have a voice. If you have a complaint about your credit card company or you think you've been a victim of unfair practices, send your complaint to the fed. They want to hear from you. But be sure you do it before the deadline of August 4th. Go to and click on consumer information. Listen to, this you won't believe it, 33,000 people have left comments.

COLLINS: You're kidding me.

WILLIS: Which I think is amazing.

COLLINS: Wow. That's pretty amazing.

WILLIS: Democracy here, your voice can be heard in Washington. And you know, I think people have a lot of concerns about credit cards so, you know, pony up and let your voice be heard.

COLLINS: And you don't have much time either. August 4th is that right?

WILLIS: That's right. And of course if you have questions send them to us at

COLLINS: All right. We want to hear about "Open House" because it's coming up Saturday. WILLIS: "Open House" Saturday morning at 9:30 a.m. Eastern. Home inspections, how to make sure you're getting the safest house for you money. Plus, house swapping, I said house swapping, you guys, I know you sometimes misunderstand what I'm saying.

COLLINS: That show on TV where they talk about the other kind of swapping but we won't go there.

WILLIS: I know. Because we want to talk about house swapping and not the other one.

COLLINS: Exactly. Very good. Interesting idea actually. I can't wait to see that. So are sure to appreciate it.

WILLIS: Join us. We'll look forward to see you there.

COLLINS: Very good. Gerri Willis, thank you.

WILLIS: My pleasure.

HARRIS: A fresh from comments on Iraq, President Bush now in coal country focusing on energy in West Virginia. Our Kathleen Koch is there and joins us from Greenbrier in white sulfur springs. Boy, Kathleen, need you to tee this up for us. So much of our energy come from coal, anywhere according to who you talk to, 40 to 50 percent. What is the President expected to say?

KATHLEEN KOCH, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Tony, the president is here speaking to the West Virginia coal association, their annual meeting. So that's why one of the reasons he's talking about coal. And he's looking at initially bring up the need to focus more on clean coal technology. And those are efforts to strip pollutants out of coal, pollutants like sulfur dioxide, nitrogen oxide and mercury, make it a cleaner power source.

The President then will move on to talk a little bit about nuclear energy and trying to reduce some of the barriers to that. And then the President is really going to be focusing on increasing the supply of oil and pushing Congress to take action on that and some of the president's ideas, first of all, are to increase drilling offshore, increase or begin drilling in Alaska's Arctic National Wildlife Refuge.

The President also wants to see more public land in the west open to oil shale development and the President also would like to see some regulations streamlined to make it easier to build oil refineries in the United States. So we haven't built any since the '70s. However, the Congress, the democratically-controlled Congress is not too keen on a lot of these ideas. The leadership there has been advancing a crack down on the speculation on the oil futures market. However, those bills have been going nowhere fast.

Right now the legislation is stalled in both Houses of Congress. And they're due to go out on their August recess come Friday. So the president will be asking for action but no one really is expecting much right now, Tony. HARRIS: All right, Kathleen Koch for us this morning. Good to see you, Kathleen. You know, the President will be speaking in West Virginia just minutes from now. And you can watch it live right here on CNN.

COLLINS: As we said, President Bush is visiting West Virginia this hour to talk about the benefits of clean coal. But some argue there is no such thing. Can there be a clean coal future. Poppy Harlow has our energy fix from New York.

Hi there, Poppy. This is a highly contested issue.

POPPY HARLOW, CNNMONEY.COM: Very, very hot ticket right now. People talking about this.

The President about to address this issue. But even environmental groups like the Sierra Club concede newer coal plants are about 10 times cleaner than the older plants. It spewed pollutants into the air. One new process that new coal plants use is called scrubbing. What it does is it removes sulfur and other particles that pollute the air from the air and from the water before the smoke leaves the smokestack. That does help. But environmental groups say when those particles are disposed of they still trickle into our drinking water.

And another process, that separates and buries carbon dioxide deep beneath the earth. Heidi, that's expensive and it's not widely used. So, no clean, clean coal as of yet. No.

COLLINS: Are we just stuck with coal though? I mean, we have some other options out there, too.

HARLOW: There are a lot of options. But in this country we're pretty much stuck with coal for now because it provides more than half of our electricity. Also keep in mind demand for electricity in this country is expected to more than double over the next 25 years. And coal is also very important to a lot of regional economies. That's why President Bush is going down to address this issue in West Virginia.

Now, keep in mind coal is king in West Virginia. You see it here right along the Appalachian region. Also in the Midwest in places like Montana and Wyoming. They're all big producers of coal. Their economies depend on it. Also, North Dakota. So, the good news is it is a domestic source of energy. But even with cleaner coal technology, many including President Bush believe we still need to find some alternatives. That's why Bush is advocating some more nuclear plants which don't have any harmful emissions. And are wildly used throughout Europe but there are obviously potential problems like disposing of nuclear wastes and, of course, Heidi, the risk of an accident.

But then there are people like T. Boone Pickens that oil tycoon, who are pushing for more wind power, more solar power but also that would require an expensive new upgrade to our current power grid, Heidi. Options on the table. I'm sure President Bush will address them. But we have something new for people today. We want you all to logon to Please let us know what you think. Send us your videos and pictures. Let us know what your "Energy Fix" is. Maybe you will make it on to the segment.

COLLINS: Yes. Very good. All right. Looking forward to that. All right. Poppy, appreciate it.


COLLINS: And just a quick reminder, the President will be speaking in West Virginia at 10:30. You can watch it here live. We will bring it to you on CNN just as soon as it happens.

HARRIS: For the second day in a row now we're going to take you to South Florida. And we have another attempted bank robbery of another Wachovia branch. Yesterday's incident was in Jen, help me here, West Palm, yes, West Palm in South Florida. We don't know the ultimate outcome of that situation. Here we are today in Homestead, Florida. And as you can see, the authorities are on the scene there talking to the brinks truck driver right now.

And again, this was an attempted robbery of a Wachovia Bank branch. The robbery of a brinks truck. The suspect, whoa, was wearing a police shirt and was shot dead on the scene by the brinks guard. That according to police. There you go, the downside of trying to rob a bank is that you could be shot dead right there on the scene.

We will keep an eye on this situation and bring you additional information as it becomes available. Let's take a break. You're in the CNN NEWSROOM.


HARRIS: OK. A couple of pictures we're watching, want to show you right now. We're watching for the president who was scheduled to speak any moment now. He's there in White Sulfur Springs in West Virginia. When the president begins his comments on energy and clean coal, we will bring you those comments.

And on the right, right now, one of the most notorious figures from the Bosnian War getting his day in court. Live pictures from the Hague. Former Bosnian Serb leader Radovan Karadzic, stands accused of genocide and crimes against humanity. He will be asked at some point here to enter a plea, among other things. Karadzic is accused of masterminding the Srebrenica massacre and the siege of Sarajevo. We will keep you updated on this appearance throughout the morning.

The economy and energy driving the presidential campaigns. Both candidates turning to issue number one today. Barack Obama preparing for a town hall meeting in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, today. He will focus on the effects of this summer's record flooding.

John McCain holds a town hall meeting in Racine, Wisconsin, this afternoon and then heads to Milwaukee. As part of our on going effort to help you make an informed choice in the election, we are playing more of what the candidates are saying in their own words on the campaign trail.

There's John McCain talking about his plans for the economy and Iraq, yesterday in Colorado.


SEN. JOHN MCCAIN (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Americans want us to sit down together. This has all got to do with not being Republicans, not being Democrats, but being Americans and putting our country first. I promise you, I will always put my country first.


Raising taxes in a bad economy is about the worst thing you could do because it could kill more jobs and we're already losing too many. And I have a plan to gets our economy moving again. I'm going to keep current tax rates low and cut others, not because I want to make the rich richer, but because it keeps jobs in America and creates new ones.

Senator Obama says he wants energy independence but he's opposed to new drilling at home, he's opposed to nuclear power, he opposed an innovation prize for electric cars. He said the high cost of gasoline doesn't bother him, only that it rose too quickly. Senator Obama has said every domestic energy source has a problem. I believe every energy source needs to be part of the solution. We need to develop new alternative energies like wind, solar, tide and biofuels. But we also need to develop more existing energies like nuclear power and clean coal. And we need to stop sending $700 billion a year to countries that don't like us very much. Some of that money ends up in the hands of terrorist organizations.


And we ought to start drilling for more oil at home, including offshore. We ought to start drilling. Senator Obama opposes that.

Meanwhile, the Congress of the United States is gridlocked. Gridlocked. Speaker of the House has said they won't have a vote on offshore drilling. The Democrat majority in the Senate will not allow an up or down vote on offshore drilling. My friends, that's what's wrong with Washington, D.C., today. And that's what we've got to change.

On Iraq, Senator Obama says he wants peace. But even today he opposes the surge strategy that succeeded in Iraq and will succeed in Afghanistan. His policy of unconditional withdrawal regardless of the facts on the ground could result in renewed violence and a third Iraq war. And I want it said to you again, I believe that withdrawal has to be based on conditions on the ground no matter what that date is. And we have a strong difference of opinion, strong difference. I hate war, my friends. And I know its costs better than many. I'm going to end this war. But when I bring our troops home they'll come home with victory leaving Iraq secure as a Democratic ally in the Arab heartland.


HARRIS: John McCain, in his own words.

COLLINS: Calling McCain's plan more of the same, Barack Obama outlined his own fix for the economy to supporters in Missouri.


SEN BARACK OBAMA (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: We can either choose a new direction for our economy, or we can keep on doing what we've been doing. Now, my opponent John McCain, he's an honorable man, I admire his service to our country. But, he basically believes we should keep on doing the same things we've been doing. He's running for George Bush's third term. He wants to continue tax breaks to the wealthy.


He said that we've made great progress economically over the last eight years. That's not my quote. That's John McCain's quote. Our country and the families in Missouri cannot afford to be doing the same things over and over again and expecting a different result. Now, that's the definition of madness. You keep on doing the same things. And that's what John McCain's offering. He's offering Bush economic policies and Karl Rove politics and that is not what's going to help us meet the challenges of the 21st century. We need something new.


It's time we restore some fairness and some balance to our economy. And we look out for working people and we're hearing your voices in the halls of Congress. And that starts with giving some immediate relief to families who are one illness or one foreclosure away from disaster. To help people who are having trouble filling up their gas tank.

So, what I want to do is this, we're going to change our tax code. We are going to close corporate tax loopholes and corporate tax breaks. We are going to take that money and we are going to give a tax cut to 95 percent of Americans. We are going to give the average family $1,000 per family in tax relief so you can help offset the rising cost of gas and the rising cost of food. To end -- help end the housing crisis, we're going to give a additional reduction for your mortgage interest because there are a whole bunch of people who weren't able to take that deduction.

If you've got a big house and you're very wealthy, you get a deduction on your mortgage interest. If you are filling up a standard deduction, you don't get that deduction. That's not fair. We're going to change that. And We're going to change --

(APPLAUSE) And we're going to change how we tax our seniors. If you are a senior citizen making $50,000 a year or less, then you should not have to pay taxes on your Social Security and we are going to do everything we can to preserve Social Security and make sure that it's not privateized.



COLLINS: And that is some of what they're saying. Part of our commitment to help you make an informed choice on election day.

Quickly now, as promised, want to get you to President Bush. He has taken to the podium in West Virginia, there. Let's go ahead and listen in.


GEORGE W. BUSH (R), PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: ... and I've got six months, but I am going to sprint to the finish. And part of that sprint to the finish will be to continue to remind the American people that we need to be realistic and have common sense about today's energy needs and tomorrow's energy needs.

And I want to thank my friend Buck Harless for inviting me here. He's right, he came down to the governor's mansion. Came down just to take a sniff.


And I appreciate his friendship and your friendship.

I want to thank Andrew Jordan, who's the chairman of the board of the West Virginia Coal Association. I want to thank all the other members of the board and I want to thank you as risk takers and entrepreneur and dreamers and do-ers and job providers. And I welcome your family members who are here, too. Thanks for coming. It's good to be with the old and young alike. I appreciate Bill Rainy, my friend. I've known Bill a long time. He's a good guy. And, Bill, I want to thank you for being here today. You can applaud for Bill if you want.


I'm so pleased to be traveling with Congressman Nick Rahall today. I can't thank him enough. Congress is in session. He's got a chairmanship. And yet, he took time to come down, to fly down on Air Force One. I can't thank you enough. It's not a bad way to travel, by the way. But, I appreciate you coming, Nick. I want to thank the Secretary of State Betty Ireland. Betty served this state with a lot of dignity. She came down from Charleston to encourage her old buddy, me. And I want to thank you for coming. I want to thank the mayor, Debbie Fogus, Madame Mayor, thank you for being here today as well. All the other state and local officials who have kindly come, but most importantly, thank you. This is a challenging time. Not the first time we've been through challenging times. I might remind you that in the beginning of my presidency there were some challenging times. We had a recession and of course, we got attacked. And yet with good policy and by trusting the ingenuity and the enterprise of the American people, we came through those times better than before. We'll come -- same thing's going to happen this time.

It's -- got some good news today, encouraging news, not great news but encouraging news. That in the second quarter the economy grew at a rate of 1.9 percent. Now, it's not as good as we'd like it to be, but I want to remind you a few months ago, there were predictions that the economy would shrink this quarter, not grow. But, in fact, the opposite has happened. As a matter of fact, it's more than double the rate we saw in the first quarter. That's positive. It's - we saw the slow down early, by the way.

One of the jobs of people like me that you entrust, is to see problems and react to them. Not like let problems fester and just hope for the best and let's actually respond. And that's why we passed the stimulus package. Just so you know, up until now we've delivered $92 billion in stimulus payments. It fits into my philosophy of government, which is I'd rather you spend your money than the federal government spend your money.

See, I can think you can spend it better than those of us in Washington, D.C. can spend it. I'd rather have you trying to figure out what's best for your family, than the government try to figure out what's best for your family. So the stimulus package was all part of making sure that we dealt with this slow down that was coming. And people believed that the stimulus package should have a positive effect in the third quarter. Of course, you can listen to these economists on the one hand, they'll say and on the other hand if they had three hands it would be on the one hand, the second hand and the third hand. Stimulus package has been positive.

There's other good economic news. Productivity increases are up which makes America -- our goods more competitive. I think you understand the definition of productivity increases in your own industry. You've seen the change, mighty change take place in your businesses. Workers are more productive and your businesses are more competitive as a result. Exports are on the rise. It's a -- durable good orders are strong. What that means is that suggests that businesses are anticipating a better second half of the year.

So I believe the foundations of this economy are strong. I think with sound policies and the ingenuity of the American people we're going to emerge better and stronger. We've done it in the past. We'll do it again this time.


You know, one of the challenges is energy prices. It's energy prices today. Another challenge is to make sure we have energy for tomorrow, as well. I'm a big believer in technology and innovation. I'm going to spend a little time today talking about how technology can change basic industry to keep us competitive and to keep us economically viable in the future.

I will also want to emphasize that the energy -- the best energy we have is the ingenuity of the American people. The hardworking, enterprising, entrepreneurial people that get up every single day to make a living for their families and contribute to the economic vitality of the country.

I want to talk about electricity and I want to talk about fuel we need for our cars and trucks. In order for this country to be economically competitive beyond my time and time of some of the others around here, we need to be -- make sure we've got a reliable supply of electricity. You can't grow your economy, you can't provide hope for your people, you can't afford to buy new -- spend money on new technologies unless you have a strong economy. And part of that strong economy is to make sure we have reliable sources of electricity. And there's no more reliable source of electricity than coal.


COLLINS: President Bush speaking before the West Virginia Coal Industry, as you can see. Friendly crowd there talking a lot about the energy. And certainly some of the economic reports that we have gotten out, specifically this GDP report that came out today.


HARRIS: Clearly, it will fall to future presidents to get a handle on America's energy needs. Where do Barack Obama and John McCain stand?

Let's go to Josh Levs for so insight into the candidates and energy. I got to tell you Josh, loving the information you're providing. Just loving it.

What are you learning at where the candidates stand with respect to their energy plans?

JOSH LEVS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, on clean coal they are big fans. Both of them very big fans of conceptual clean coal. That's what we got to take a look at here. This will certainly remind everybody. You hear the term clean coal technology a lot. Poppy mentioned this earlier. We don't have completely clean coal technology right now. It's something people are working to develop.

So, let's take a look at where John McCain and Barack Obama stand. They both talk about it.

We're going to start with McCain right here. And this is from his web site. He says, he will put $2 billion a year specifically into clean coal energy. He says, "We need to commit it significant federal resources to the science, research and development that advance this critical technology. Once commercialized, the U.S. then can export these technologies to countries like China, creating new American jobs and allowing the U.S. to play a greater role in the international green economy."

Let's go over to Obama now. Because I feel like these guys are not too far apart here. Obama doesn't have a specific figure on this. But what he does, that yellow part we put down there, he has this $150 billion plan he wants to do over 10 years. And to him, low emission coal is part of that.

His web site says he will "significantly increase the resources that are devoted to the commercialization and deployment of his low carbon coal technologies." And they say he "will consider whatever policy tools are necessary." Now this -- the next part here is important to the coal industry. Including standards that ban new traditional coal facilities to ensure that we move quickly forward, basically. So, there are some people out there who can have a problem with this if they're trying to build some of the more traditional ones.

Both Tony, basically both these guys want to see clean coal energy. The question is how fast do you move it forward.

HARRIS: That's terrific. I have one more question but we're flat out of time.

Josh, appreciate it. Thank you.

LEVS: See you, thanks.

COLLINS: Untangling the clogs in Alzheimer's patients' brains. New hope for those fighting the disease.


COLLINS: Quickly want to get this information to you. Just in here to the CNN NEWSROOM. We've been able to confirm something that's happened in Washington. A federal judge in fact, has sided with Congress now in its fight with the Bush administration over whether top White House aides can be subpoenaed by Congress. You remember this whole story that happened with the U.S. attorneys, nine of them that were fired.

What's happened is the House Judiciary Committee does want to question the president's chief of staff, John Bolten, and a former legal counsel, Harriet Myers, regarding the firing of those nine U.S. attorneys. President Bush has said they're actually immune from subpoenas like this. And the Congress really can't force them to testify.

Well, according to U.S. district judge John Bates, he says, there's really no legal support for that position on this story. And he's refused to throw out the case and said the aides actually can be subpoenaed. So, some interesting news we've been able to confirm coming out of Washington, this morning.

We'll take a quick break here and back in just a moment.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK) COLLINS: Some positive news in the battle against Alzheimers. Scottish researchers say, they are encouraged by an experimental drug that takes a new approach. Remember works by breaking up proteins tangled in the brain. Researchers say the drug appears to slow the effects by as much as 80 percent. Experts emphasize much more study is of course, needed. And the drug will not be available for several years.

HARRIS: An accused war criminal making his first appearance before a tribunal in the Hague. Live coverage in the NEWSROOM.


HARRIS: Good morning again, everyone. You're informed with CNN. I'm Tony Harris.

COLLINS: Hi there, everybody. I'm Heidi Collins.

Developments keep coming into the CNN NEWSROOM on Thursday, the 31st of July. Here's what's on the run down.

One of the most notorious figures of the Bosnian civil war, making his first appearance at the Hague War Crimes Tribunal, this morning.

HARRIS: The California budget crisis. Thousands of state workers set to loose their jobs today. Live coverage this hour.