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Presidential Race Tightens; Fay's Third Strike Against Florida; New York Mayor has Big Green Dream
Aired August 21, 2008 - 11:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
HEIDI COLLINS, CNN ANCHOR: All right. There you have some of the comments from Senator Barack Obama, this event that he is holding alongside Governor Tim Kaine, who you see there, in Chester, Virginia.
Obviously, there has been quite a bit of speculation about whether or not Governor Kaine will eventually be, perhaps in the next couple of days, or perhaps later in this speech, his choice for vice president. We do not have any information on that.
Like everybody else, we're just watching and waiting. Again, that event is available to you if you would like to see more of it on CNN.com/live.
Well, his lead is shrinking in the polls. Some say Barack Obama needs a game-changer now to reverse his sudden slide.
Let's get the very latest on those polls from CNN's senior political analyst, Bill Schneider, live from Denver, where, of course, that Democratic convention is just four days away.
Hi there, Bill.
WILLIAM SCHNEIDER, CNN SR. POLITICAL ANALYST: Hi there.
Well, you know, Barack Obama comes to this convention just one point ahead of John McCain in the latest CNN Poll of Polls.
SCHNEIDER (voice-over): Why is the race so close? For the same reason the Democratic primaries were so close. McCain is following the Hillary Clinton playbook. Remember this Clinton ad?
NARRATOR: It's 3:00 a.m., and your children are safe and asleep. But there's a phone in the White House, and it's ringing. Something is happening in the world.
SCHNEIDER: This month, we had a 3:00 a.m. moment. Russia invaded Georgia. John McCain touted his experience and military expertise.
SEN. JOHN MCCAIN (R-AZ), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: And, in the term of the next president, skillful handling of such a crisis would be the difference between temporary hardship and far-reaching disaster.
SCHNEIDER: Obama emphasized his judgment.
SEN. BARACK OBAMA (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: The next commander in chief is going to have to exercise the best possible judgment in getting us through these difficult times.
SCHNEIDER: Who do voters feel is better qualified to deal with Russia? McCain, by better than 2-1.
Clinton was accused of crude populism when she made this proposal during the primaries.
SEN. HILLARY RODHAM CLINTON (D), NEW YORK: My opponent, Senator Obama, opposes giving consumers the break from the tax -- the gas tax at the federal level. I support it.
SCHNEIDER: Now McCain is being accused of crude populism.
MCCAIN: Senator Obama says he wants energy independence, but he's opposed to new drilling at home.
SCHNEIDER: Obama mocks McCain.
OBAMA: He points down at his feet. And I don't know if he knows something I don't. Drill here. Drill now.
SCHNEIDER: Gas prices have risen sharply under a Republican president. The issue ought to be killing the Republican.
So, who do voters think would better handle energy prices? Close call. One poll shows McCain slightly ahead. Another shows Obama leading by a narrow margin.
SCHNEIDER: Now, the playbook did not quite work for Hillary Clinton in the primaries. Will it work now for John McCain? Well, now we have a larger and more conservative electorate, but the forces for change are more powerful against the Republican candidate than they were against Hillary Clinton -- Heidi.
COLLINS: It's all getting very interesting.
Bill Schneider, sure do appreciate it, live from Denver today.
John McCain is out of the spotlight today, but also weighing his VP choices. Among the names said to be on his short list, former governor Tom Ridge and Senator Joe Lieberman. Conservatives are concerned McCain may choose a pro-life running mate.
Tropical Storm Fay, a rainmaker that's about to make its third landfall in Florida. And it's sending a high watermark now for misery. The rainfall nothing short of staggering.
Some parts of central Florida reporting more than 23 inches. Areas in its path, from Daytona to Jacksonville, could see rainfall totals of 30 inches. Floodwaters have swallowed hundreds of homes. CNN crews have fanned out across the state to bring you the very latest on this. Sean Callebs is joining us now from St. Augustine.
Hi there, Sean.
SEAN CALLEBS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Hi, Heidi.
Last hour we talked to you, absolutely pouring. Wind was really kicking up.
Dramatic change in conditions. Absolutely no rain right now. The wind has pulled back somewhat, but look out there at that surf. You can still see what 40-mile-an-hour winds can do to this ocean as it whips up here on St. Augustine Beach, about five miles from the town of St. Augustine.
But look more down this way to our left. There are a number of people out here. We talked about this last hour, how many people are out.
There -- a lot of folks have come out since the rain has been -- has dropped off a lot. And that's, I think, a concern if you talk to emergency officials, if you listen to what the governor of this state says.
Look up there. You see the terra cotta shingles on that roof down here. Well, one blew down just a short while ago, slamming into this earth, and that's the problem.
People walk around, it's not that bad. But stuff starts flying around in 40-mile-an-hour winds, and that's how folks get hurt.
Then you've got people walking along the wall here behind us. One big gust comes up, off they go into the seawall, the rocks down below. So, it's this lull in conditions that lead people to go out, take a look around, see what's going on, and that's what leads to problems.
You talked about the flooding that Fay is bringing. I think that Cape Canaveral got 20 inches of rain. Melbourne, where they had to use air boats to rescue people who were caught by the rising waters, 26 inches of rain. Nearly a yard of rain.
Now, here in this town, I've talked to some locals. They say there's an area in the downtown where when the surf gets up like this, when they get a lot of rain, it floods. The water basically backs up in those storm drains and floods the downtown area.
We're told that there is some water down in those areas right now, but you know what? This storm is still languishing off the coast. It hasn't moved through here.
The latest information, it's moving very, very slowly. So once it does come, it's going to dump even more rain on this already saturated area. The question is, how much and how significant is this flooding going to be -- Heidi? COLLINS: Yes. Boy, that is the question, isn't it.
All right. Sean Callebs, sure do appreciate that.
COLLINS: Much of Texas also reeling from heavy rains and widespread flooding after nine inches of rain fell in Collin County. It's north of Dallas. For much of north Texas it was the sixth straight day of heavy rains.
Then in south Texas, hundreds of people are trying to clean up their homes damaged by floodwaters over the weekend. What a mess.
Just minutes ago in Florida, the mother of 3-year-old Caylee Anthony walked out of jail. Caylee disappeared in June. Police say Casey Anthony waited over a month before reporting her daughter missing.
A bondsman has posted a $500,000 bail for Anthony. She is charged with child neglect, making false statements and obstruction. Anthony has been jailed for a month.
Authorities in Knoxville, Tennessee, say a school shooting this morning was not a random act. A 16-year-old student was shot and killed in the Central High School cafeteria. No other students were injured.
The suspect was taken into custody. Authorities are not releasing the name of the victim or the suspect, but they are saying the two knew each other.
Grief in Spain, mourning the victims of the fiery plane disaster at Madrid's airport.
COLLINS: The future of U.S. troops in Iraq, the top priority as Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice visits Baghdad today.
We want to go live to CNN's Arwa Damon in the Iraqi capital.
ARWA DAMON, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Hi, Heidi.
And Secretary Rice did say that the U.S. and the Iraqis are a lot closer to putting that agreement into place. The negotiations have really taken a lot longer than either side would have hoped.
The Iraqis pushing for specific timetables, specific dates for U.S. troop withdrawal. The Americans wanting a more flexible timeline.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) CONDOLEEZZA RICE, SECRETARY OF STATE: We have always said that the roles, missions and size of the American forces here, the coalition forces, was based on the conditions on the ground and what is needed. We have agreed that some goals, some aspirational timetables for how that might unfold are well worth having in such an agreement.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
DAMON: The agreement is critical to the U.S. military's role in Iraq's future, a future that does still remain very uncertain, as America's top commander here knows very well, General David Petraeus. He's been speaking with the media before he leaves Iraq in the next few weeks.
And he was telling us that as he was leaving, he would be having mixed emotions. There is the knowledge that a lot has been gained, but at the same time, that many challenges do remain ahead. And his job here in creating the Iraq that we're seeing today has not been an easy one.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GEN. DAVID PETRAEUS, COMMANDER, U.S. FORCES, IRAQ: You know, General Casey one time said to me -- and it was pretty good advice. We had a moment of frustration, and he reminded all of us that we want to think about walking a mile in their shoes. And I've tried to reflect on that at various times when I have inevitably felt the same kind of frustration, and occasionally emotions greater than frustration, and reminded myself of what they've been through, and would I still be coming back to work every day and risking it all?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
DAMON: He also told us that his biggest fear when it came to Iraq was that the security gains that we're seeing right now would not be sustainable. This is still a very shaky time in Iraq's history -- Heidi.
COLLINS: All right. CNN's Arwa Damon -- thank you, Arwa -- live from Baghdad this morning.
To the other war zone now, Afghanistan. British Prime Minister Gordon Brown welcomed today by Afghan President Hamid Karzai. The British leader is there to underscore Britain's support of the fledgling democracy, one under assault by the Taliban resurgence.
Mr. Brown also met with his troops on the front lines. His visit comes during a bloody week. Ten French and three Polish soldiers killed in combat.
Identifying the bodies and mourning the dead. Spain remembering 153 people killed in yesterday's plane crash in Madrid. Only 19 survivors.
Our Cal Perry has the very latest now from the Spanish capital. (BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)
CAL PERRY, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Originally intended to ferry passengers to a popular European vacation destination, Spanair Flight 5022 instead ended in horror. Spain's transport minister said the plane first had a technical problem which delayed it by an hour. But after takeoff, the worst happened. The plane went down in flames after leaving the ground. .
ERVIGIO CORRAL, HEAD OF EMERGENCY SERVICES (through translator): When we arrived at the scene with the fire crews, we were faced with a desolate scene. You couldn't distinguish that there was an aircraft there, apart from the remains of the tail. If you didn't know, you wouldn't have been able to say there was plane. There was nothing of a fuselage.
PERRY: The proximity of the crash site to the airport perhaps an advantage to investigators. Evidence is close by as they quickly mobilized to determine the cause of the crash. While investigators get to work, a cloud of sorrow settles over the Spanish capital.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translator): Try to imagine, we said good-bye to a 23-year-old boy. Today was his birthday, and now you don't have him anymore. So try to imagine how I feel.
PERRY: The scene makes it impossible to believe anyone could survive, but there are a lucky few, a handful of survivors, family and friends clinging to what many describe as a miracle.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translator): We were all so happy, friends and family, that we're going to celebrate it right now. He's been born again and he's been conscious all the time.
PERRY: The crash quickly became a national tragedy. The prime minister canceling his vacation and declaring three days of mourning.
PERRY: And Heidi, you know, we've heard a number of these absolutely horrifying stories. I want to give our viewers exactly an idea of where this happened.
I'm going to step out of the shot and you're going to take a look here at the runway where that plane took off. Of course, Flight 5022, which crashed just about 28 hours ago. And just to the left of that you'll see a burned-out area of grass. That's where the aircraft ended up.
Now, what we've heard from officials here just in the past few hours is that there was actually an indicator light that came on the plane. It said that the engine was overheated. An hour later, that flight still took off. Certainly, a very important unanswered question -- Heidi.
COLLINS: Yes, no question about that. I know the NTSB sent their go team pretty immediately after this happened. Any idea, Cal, when we might be able to get more information about that warning and about what the NTSB uncovers?
PERRY: Well, we know the NTSB is of course on their way here because it was an American-made plane. It was an MD-82, which is known as a workhorse plane. It flies short-to-mid-haul flights across Europe.
We know they found the two black boxes. Those are of course designed to survive these types of crashes. But one of them they did say was damaged.
We're hoping in the next 48 to 72 hours, the NTSB will get on the ground here, they'll be able to get a look at everything, basically rebuild that plane in a warehouse somewhere and try to get an idea of what happened. Eyewitness reports say there was an explosion on the plane and then fire swept through the cabin. That's really all they have to go with right now -- Heidi.
COLLINS: Yes, it's going to take some time, too.
All right. CNN's Cal Perry for us in Madrid, Spain.
Thank you, Cal.
Going to take a moment to update you on Tropical Storm Fay, coming up right here in the CNN NEWSROOM.
COLLINS: Tropical Storm Fay and a new wave of misery washing over much of Florida's east coast. The storm has dumped astonishing amounts of rain in some parts of central Florida reeling from more than 23 inches. Isolated areas in its path from anywhere from Daytona to Jacksonville, could see rainfall totals of 30 inches.
Reynolds Wolf joining us now from the CNN Weather Center.
Reynolds, that is just a ridiculous amount of rain.
REYNOLDS WOLF, CNN METEOROLOGIST: I know. It's mind boggling.
And the biggest reason why is because the storm has been virtually stationary for the last couple of hours. I mean, this has been a giant rain-making machine. Wind, yes, they certainly have quite a bit of that. But rain right now is going to be the biggest threat. All of the water continues to dump on parts of north and central Florida. Right now, Tropical Storm Fay, the latest numbers for you. Winds at 60 gusting to 70 miles an hour. Expect to take more of a westerly direction just going right over parts of the I-4 corridor, I-95, then over I-75. And then as we get into Saturday, the storm just south of Tallahassee and right here the Gulf of Mexico where -- there is a possibility it could move out over open water and strengthen once again.
But right now as I mentioned, the biggest threat that we have with this is the possibility of flooding. When you have numbers like this, it's easy to see why. Melbourne, Florida, take a look at this. Just over the last 24 hours they've had over 26 inches of rainfall in many of those spots And again, as it continues to spin, we're going to see more of those rainfall totals stack up.
Some places Heidi, especially along the I-10 corridor in south Georgia and perhaps even into Alabama, you could see anywhere from say, 20 to maybe 30 inches of rainfall into the weekend. No question we're going to see some flooding in many spots. We've got to get ready for it.
That's the latest. Let's send it back to you.
COLLINS: All right, Reynolds. Thank you.
WOLF: You bet.
COLLINS: A Tiger-less tournament in New York this week. After knee surgery, Tiger Woods is out until st least 2009. When he comes back, will his swing be the same?
Dr. Sanjay Gupta reports.
DR. SANJAY GUPTA, CNN CHIEF MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): A Tiger Woods championship swing is anything but typical. He's forceful with the right arm while his left leg stays perfectly straight. His knee pivots with every hit. That puts a lot of wear and tear on his left knee.
Since 1994, Woods has had several operations. The most aggressive procedure was also the most recent. On June 24th, to repair the anterior cruciate ligament, or ACL.
(on camera): During that operation, what doctors did was they removed that old anterior cruciate ligament -- the one that was damaged. Then they drilled a hole in the top above the knee, and another hole in the bone below the knee. And then you take a ligament from the front of the knee cap or a cadaver ligament, and you tunnel that ligament from the bottom to the top. And what that does is serve to stabilize the knee again.
(voice-over): But post-op, Woods golfing fate is uncertain. He tells fans via his blog, "I don't know what doctors are going to tell me about playing golf down the road." He says, he's not planning on even swinging a club until at least next year.
So, why the long recovery? Some speculate Woods had more damage to the knee than we know of, resulting in a longer healing time. But also there's the fear of redamaging the knee.
Orthopedic surgeon and doctor to the NBA's Atlanta Hawks, Dr. Michael Bernot explains:
DR. MICHAEL BERNOT, AMER. ACADEMY OF ORTHOPEDIC SURGEONS: Once he starts swinging he's not going to have -- he's not going to be able to control the force on that leg. He's just going to have to swing without thinking about it. So, he could re-tear the graft and then he could be right back where he started.
GUPTA: But Woods says he is making progress in rehab. He's starting to ride a stationary bike several times a day.
BERNOT: Most pro athletes are going to be careful not to risk coming back too soon because there's too much on the line. Because he doesn't want to have to limit how he swings.
GUPTA: And neither do his fans.
Dr. Sanjay Gupta, CNN, reporting.
COLLINS: To get your daily dose of health news online, just log- on to our web site. You'll find the latest medical news a health library and information on diet and fitness. That address once again, CNN.com/health.
An update to give you just into the CNN NEWSROOM now. A story that we told you about yesterday. You remember this video. This is some surveillance video where an elderly woman -- you'll see it here in a minute -- is attacked in an elevator. She is choked from behind by that man and we are just learning from New York Police Commissioner Ray Kelly, that they believe that they have the suspect into custody.
Now you see the attack on that surveillance video. 36 year-old Cornelius Absen (ph) has apparently confessed to at least two of these types of robberies. Originally there had been 11 attacks that the police were looking into and whether or not he would be connected to several of them. So, again, Cornelius Absen, 36 year-old, has apparently confessed to two of those robberies. And Ray Kelly says Absen is a repeat felon. He's been convicted of similar crimes in the past. And the best part -- Absen was most recently released from prison in May.
Who will Barack Obama and John McCain pick for their running mates and does it really matter?
COLLINS: For both presidential candidates a lot is riding on their vice presidential picks. CNN political editor Mark Preston is here now for a very special edition of Preston on Politics.
Nice to see you in person. I do think it's interesting -- we were just -- we had another political segment a little while ago, talking about how yes, you know, this vice presidential pick this time around in this election is a little bit different than in the past.
MARK PRESTON, CNN POLITICAL EDITOR: Yes, it absolutely is. Because right now the race is so tight. And people are looking to who can give who the advantage right now. That's why we continue to talk over and over who does Barack Obama need to pick and you know, who does John McCain need to pick.
COLLINS: Absolutely. In fact, you talk about how close it is.
Let's look once again at the CNN poll of polls. Because right now, look at that. It's almost tied. I mean, we've got Barack Obama at 45. John McCain at 44. And there's the key at the bottom, right Mark? The undecided 11 percent.
PRESTON: The undecided. And look, this race is tightening no question about that. But, it has always been close, Heidi. You know, right from the very beginning when the primary season ended and the general election started, this race has always been within the margin of error.
COLLINS: OK, so if you had to give the short answer, what does Barack Obama need to do to get back up in the polls and what does John McCain need to do to keep that momentum going?
PRESTON: You know, it's a two-fold strategy for both of them right now. They really need to go out and talk about the issues. This is an issue election. They need to talk about what their plan is to make America better. How to get out of Iraq, lower gas prices, clean up the foreclosure mess. At the same time, they do need to go a little bit negative and we're seeing that in ads.
COLLINS: Yes. We are seeing it in ads. We are seeing it in a lot of the speeches now, too. And they are just really going after each other.
I know that you are on your way to Denver, where obviously the Democratic Convention's going to be held. What do you think the big headline is going to be out of there?
PRESTON: No question. Thursday night, what does Barack Obama say before more than 70,000 people at INVESCO field. What's the speech going to be like? What's the atmosphere going to be like?
But there's a couple of other things we should look at. What is Hillary Clinton going to say when she talks? What is Bill Clinton going to say when he speaks? And really, what's going to happen outside of the convention, Heidi? What are the protests going to look like?
COLLINS: Yes. Well, what are your answers to all of those questions? Tell us.
PRESTON: I'll tell you next week.
COLLINS: Well, I could do that. All right.
Mark Preston, we sure appreciate it. Preston on Politics, today. Thank you. Have fun in Denver, too.
PRESTON: Thanks, Heidi.
COLLINS: Prices may be down at the pump. You can't say the same though for the grocery aisle. New predictions about your food budget for 2009.
COLLINS: In Australia, sad news to report about an orphaned baby humpback whale. Veterinarians are calling the calf Colin. It was found Sunday, trying to nurse from this yacht. And today, they say the whale will have to be put to sleep. We're told Colin has severe injuries on his body and his health is rapidly deteriorating.
Changing the game. The Democrats consider a new primary calendar for 2012. And superdelegates, they may not be so super next time around.
COLLINS: Democrats trying to win one election and looking ahead to the next. Party leaders are considering some primary changes now, after the grueling battle between Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton. Among the ideas, revising the calendar and reducing the number of superdelegates.
Josh Levs is here now with more details on all of this.
There would have to be a whole lot to consider. here.
JOSH LEVS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: A lot. It's a lot to consider. And we still have to see that it'll actually happen.
But, what they're talking about is big. I mean, this could be a sea change if it's actually seen through. What they're talking about here, is conquering the three biggest things in that incredibly complicated primary process that most people complain about.
Let's go to this first graphic. This is what the GNC and the Obama campaign are saying right now. They want to tackle these three things. First of all, brand new calendar. We'll talk more about that in a second. Also, the'yre going to cut back the number of super delegates. Who will lose superdelegate status? We'll see. And that's a biggy, because if democracy is supposed to be one person, one vote. Right now the caucus system is not that. So how would they change it? Let's look. Let's go to this next graphic, because I want you to see what they are saying they want to do with the calendar. They want to create this thing called a Democratic Change Commission. And it would basically recommend changes, but they say right now the goal is to ensure that no contest takes place before that first Tuesday in March next time around, before that big Super Tuesday. But they do say there would be some that are approved as pre-window states and they would have to wait until February. We'll see what states those would be.
Now, I will say to be fair, some people say the process as it was paid off for the Democrats, including Ed Rendell. Here's what he says.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GOV. ED RENDELL (D), PENNSYLVANIA: In Pennsylvania, we headed 300,000 Democrats to the registration roles. We now have 1 million vote margin over the Republicans in the state, the largest, I think we've ever had in the history of the state. That's a good thing.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
LEVS: And DNC Chair Howard Dean also put out a statement. He's -- let's go to the graphic -- now he started off by saying that actually this process has strengthened the party. But then he went on to say, "we must continue to strengthen the process and ensure a fair process in which the diverse voices in our party and nation have a chance to be heard."
So, Heidi, right now we're going to see what this leads to. They're going to try to set up this commission when they meet next week throughout the convention and then they're going to say it's now your job to tackle these problems, let's get some changes in.
COLLINS: And how long will that take? Maybe the next election.
LEVS: They have until January 1st, 2010 to make the recommendations, which is a long time. How much time do you need to figure out -- well, who knows? And then they are hoping --
COLLINS: It's politics, Josh. A long time.
LEVS: Lots of meetings, lots of (INAUDIBLE). Yes, hopefully something will happen this time.
COLLINS: Yes, appreciate it. All right, Josh Levs -- thank you.
COLLINS: Incredible video and a motorcyclist who says it all happened because of a video game.
COLLINS: A California convenience store clerk fights off an armed robbery suspect. The clerk, a woman, the man, 6'5 and 215 pounds. But, she actually broke his shotgun while trying to grab it. After an exchange of blows, the clerk ran the guy out of the store. He was later picked up by police.
Game over for a bullet bike rider. He led police on a chase and ended up under an oncoming SUV, putting a family in danger. Why did he do it? Sandra Yee of Salt Lake City affiliate, KSL, has the story.
SANDRA YEE, KSL REPORTER (voice-over): If you blinked, you might have missed it. Here, it is again, in slow motion -- a bullet biker, not wearing a helmet, speeds past a sheriff's deputy on State Road 13 in Corinne. Going more than 100 miles an hour, it's hard for troopers to stay on his tail.
TROOPER CAMERON RODEN, UTAH HIGHWAY PATROL: Our cars can travel pretty fast, but he was definitely exceeding what our speeds are.
YEE: But the chase ends seconds later. By the time this deputy, who has the dash camera rolling, turns around to join in the chase, the guy on the bike has lost control. The bike ended up underneath a green Ford Expedition, then burst into flames. You can see the female passenger running back to the vehicle to get her child. She carries the kid to safety, then goes back for her second child. Meanwhile, the deputy goes to help the male driver.
Troopers say before the crash, the driver of the SUV tried to avoid the bullet bike a couple of times as it weaved in and out of traffic and almost hit another car.
RODEN: They're lucky that they were all conscious and able to get out of the vehicle in time before it was fully engulfed in flames.
YEE: As for the biker, he tried to run away, but troopers found him 1,000 yards away with road rash. The man gave police a fake name but he's been identified as 27-year-old Daniel Sivino (ph). As for motive, he said Sivino told troopers this was his own video game adventure.
RODEN: I don't know whether he was trying to act out a scene in a video game or what he was trying to do. But he said it has always worked for him in video games.
COLLINS: Thankfully none of the people in that SUV were hurt.
An update now on a heart-tugging story we told you about last week. A New Jersey man reunited now with his two young daughters. The girls were trapped by fighting in the Republic of Georgia. 7- year-old Ashley and her 3-year-old sister, Sophia, were visiting their grandparents when Russian troops invaded. This week, a Russian general gave them permission to travel to the U.S. Embassy in Tbilisi. There, they were greeted with McDonald's Happy Meals and cake. Their father says they are fine and will be back in New Jersey in just a few days. Good for them.
New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg wants an energy fix. His idea, wind turbine farms. Here now, CNN's Carol Costello.
CAROL COSTELLO, CNN CORRESPONDENT: New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg dreams big and bold and green.
MAYOR MICHAEL BLOOMBERG, NEW YORK: It would be a thing of beauty if when Lady Liberty looks out on the horizon, she not only welcomes new immigrants to our shores, but lights their way with a torch powered by an ocean wind farm.
COSTELLO: Imagine a massive wind farm offshore in the Atlantic lighting up the Lady. That's not all. How about windmills that top the Brooklyn Bridge? Heck, why not put them on top of the Empire State Building?
OK, the mayor said today that's overkill. But it's an idea to create renewable energy in New York.
BLOOMBERG: We're not saying not in my backyard, we're saying it's our problem and we can't do -- if nobody else wants to do it, we want to do it.
COSTELLO: And that means creative problem solving. Giant wind turbines marring the city's skyline, especially atop historic landmarks -- big problems. But what if the turbines were the size of an egg beater? It is possible.
DALE JAMIESON, NEW YORK UNIVERSITY: This idea of putting windmills on top of skyscrapers and on top of bridges and so on and so forth, yes, that's a reasonable idea, it's plausible, it's something we should think about. But the big benefits are really going to come from thinking about putting wind farms offshore.
COSTELLO: That costly endeavor would entail the same level of difficulty as drilling an oil rig. Still supporters say, the mayor is on the right track.
JAMIESON: He stirs the pot, he gets the discussion going, he gets people talking about the kinds of problems that we're going to have to face in the next decade.
COSTELLO: There are people who think Mayor Bloomberg is mostly bluster. But he has already realized more than one green dream, city cabbies -- they are required to drive hybrid cabs by 2012.
The mayor's ultimate goal, to reduce New York's energy use by 10 percent in 10 years.
Carol Costello, CNN, Washington.
COLLINS: CNN NEWSROOM continues one hour from now.
"ISSUE #1" with Gerri Willis and Christine Romans starts right now.