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Tropical Storm Fay Continues to Plague Florida; Obama Campaign Targets McCain for House Gaffe; Bullet Biker Crashes after High-Speed Chase

Aired August 21, 2008 - 13:00   ET


KYRA PHILLIPS, CNN ANCHOR: Catastrophic flooding, destructive tornadoes, evacuations underway. We're trapping -- tracking, rather, Tropical Storm Fay.
And caught on camera, a mom rushes to save her kids caught in a burning car.

Little girls caught in a war zone far from home. Wait until you see how their father rescues them.

Hello, everyone. I'm Kyra Phillips, live at the CNN World Headquarters in Atlanta.

Well, it's a soggy state of affairs in Florida right now. Tropical Storm Fay edging ever so slowly inland, ready to make another run over the state, its third this week, and that means more rain for areas that can't even take anymore.

Floodwaters already have swallowed hundreds of homes. Rescuers are using airboats to ferry some residents to safety. And people are being warned to watch out for alligators, not in the creeks but in the streets. Governor Charlie Crist calls the flooding catastrophic and has asked President Bush for help.

Well, the storm is definitely on the slow track right now. Reynolds Wolf, though, he's keeping up with everything.

Hey, Reynolds.


You know one of the big threats we have with this storm system? You know, we were talking about the wind. Now it's going to be, really, the rain that's going to be the big kicker with this. Right now this is a giant rainmaker. You see this rotation, just the spinning. It's just been holding stationary right off the coast.

If you happen to be in, say, a spot like St. Augustine, like our own Sean Callebs has been for the last couple of hours, what you're going to be dealing with is still the rain coming onshore, occasional wind gusts. But the wind really not quite that strong in that location. Strongest now forming to the north of places like St. Augustine, winds at 60, gusting to 70 miles an hour.

The position is stationary, but I would argue that it's now beginning to drift a little bit more to the west-northwest, and that is the path the National Hurricane Center is going to bring the storm as we get into Friday into Saturday, even as we fast-forward into Sunday. There is a chance we could see the storm make not only the third landfall, but possibly the fourth and maybe even a fifth over towards Perdido Key and Alabama as we get into Sunday.

So the storm, again, just edging its way to the west. And as it does so, the rain is going to begin to pile up. You'll notice some of the rainfall totals behind me: Melbourne, Florida, in excess of 2 feet; Cocoa Beach, over 20 inches; over 20 inches in Cape Canaveral out by the launching pads; and at Palm Shores, we're getting very close to 20 inches; and Moore Haven, 16.17.

Kyra, the story is, as we get into Saturday and Sunday, we're looking at a chance of seeing rainfall totals that could exceed, say, 30 inches. Certainly a possibility for parts of Florida, back into Georgia, maybe even into Alabama.

PHILLIPS: All right. We'll keep tracking it. Thanks, Reynolds.

Well, reporter Dan Leveton with WJXT is also waiting for Fay to move in again. He joins us now live from Flagler Beach. That's just north of Daytona.

What do you have for us?

DAN LEVETON, REPORTER, WJXT: That's right, Kyra.

That's what everybody's been waiting here for a couple of days, because Fay is basically right there offshore. You know, we're basically -- you see that big center of open area where that center of Fay is right now, and that's basically right here off the shore. And we're kind of right in the middle of -- right on the edge of it.

Let me show you the biggest concern here. They've had a lot of concerns at Flagler Beach in the past about beach erosion and this pier. See that pier? And for the last two days it's been getting hammered pretty well, actually, pretty badly. No damage to it yet.

But the concern is that back in 2004 there were a few storms that battered it one after the another and about half of it, about 150 feet of it, dropped right into the water there. They took a couple of years to replace it. They had to put cranes out there to replace it and they finally did. Now here we go again. Potentially another problem here with the pier.

As far as the waves itself, you can see they've been battering the coast here for a couple of days. But let me go down a little bit, Mark. Let's show them the people watching this. For the past two days, it's been almost like a show for a lot of people out here. Tourists and locals coming out here despite the weather.

Yesterday it was rainy and windy. Today not as bad. People coming out just to take a look. We've had basically surfers. We've got swimmers going in the water, despite the potential danger, because people say they are enjoying this, actually, enjoying the show from Mother Nature.

Now, as far as other potential problems here, there's been beach erosion, down the road here, back in 2005 when Ophelia was offshore. There was some pretty heavy damage about a mile south of here, in Flagler Beach, within the city limits, and they had to actually close the road, bring in trucks from the DOT and from the city to go ahead and throw some big boulders there and some sand to fill it in.

We were down there a little bit earlier today, about an hour ago, and it was kind of taking away chunks again. So they're concerned that that might happen. They're going to have to get into the DOT, Department of Transportation here, to go ahead and fill it again. They might have to close the road for a little while.

Other than that, really, county officials are on full activation. Their biggest concern is potential flooding like a lot of the northeast Florida coast from the storms just sitting here offshore. So far, no major problems here, no major problems from wind. Some trees down, some power out, about 1,900 people without power here in Flagler County at this point.

The worst of it, as you said earlier, Kyra, was down south of here, down in Melbourne, Brevard County, and a little bit more in Daytona. But here it hasn't been that bad yet. But again, as your weatherman said, if this moves a little bit north and northwest into the city here, we could get a lot more damage. We're just going to keep an eye on things.

We're live in Flagler Beach. I'm Dan Leveton. Back to you.

PHILLIPS: All right, Dan. Thanks so much.

Well, Texas is also reeling from heavy rains, up to nine inches just north of Dallas. It was the sixth straight day of downpours in that area. More rains expected today, as well. And in South Texas, hundreds of people trying to clean up homes damaged by flood waters over the weekend.

Well, Virginia, today's top story now on the campaign trail for Barack Obama, the Democratic candidate, has two events there. He joined Governor Tim Kaine, a potential running mate, for an economics discussion this morning in Chester, and he has a town-hall meeting later this afternoon in Chesapeake.

Now, for John McCain, a rare day off the trail. The Republican candidate is at home in Arizona with no public events on his schedule.

You can't get to the Oval Office without spending a lot of money. Barack Obama spent $55 million in July, the most for his campaign in a single month. John McCain spent $32 million over the same time. Both campaigns spent most of those big bucks on advertising, by the way.

And on the fundraising side, well, records showed that Obama raised $50 million in July. McCain had his best fundraising month yet, more than $26 million. Well, they're already being called Hillary Clinton's holdouts. A lot of the New York senator's supporters are still not onboard the Obama bandwagon. And in a new "Wall Street journalist" -- or "Journal," rather, NBC News poll, 52 percent of Clinton supporters say that they'll vote for Obama; 21 percent will vote for McCain; 27 percent say they still haven't made up their minds, and they'll vote for someone else.

Well, would Clinton add to the Democratic ticket? Apparently yes. The overall national poll shows that Obama leading McCain right now by three points and, if Clinton were at the top of the ticket, the poll shows that she would be leading McCain by six.

Now, Barack Obama and John McCain in their own words. Later this hour, we're going to hear what Obama has to say about his plans for the economy, and McCain talks about a running mate.

Well, it's one of those unannounced visits that VIPs make every now and then to Iraq. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice is in Baghdad today, talking about the future of the U.S. presence there. She says rumors that a long-range security agreement has been reached are premature.


CONDOLEEZZA RICE, SECRETARY OF STATE: We have always said that the roles, missions, and the size of the American forces here, the coalition forces, is 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 -- in such an agreement.


PHILLIPS: Well, Rice cited the so-called troop surge and progress made in the Iraqi military for what she calls improved security conditions there.

Also on the diplomatic duty abroad, Great Britain's prime minister, Gordon Brown, he's in Afghanistan, stressing the UK's support for the new and troubled democracy there. About 8,500 British troops are now deployed to Afghanistan. And Brown is visiting during a particularly deadly week for the multi-national force there.

Ten French troops were killed Tuesday fighting Taliban militants, and six soldiers, three Polish, and three Canadian, died yesterday in separate roadside bombing.

Well, today's a day of mourning in Spain, the first of three days set aside to remember and grieve for those killed yesterday in a fiery airliner crash in Madrid.

One hundred and fifty-three people, 19 of them children, died when a Spanair MD-82 went down immediately after takeoff from Spain's busiest airport. Some of the 19 survivors said that they heard a loud explosion before that jet went down. Local officials say that an engine caught fire, and now investigators are going over the recovered flight data recorders.

Now back to politics. The Democratic Party is jumping all over John McCain today. In an interview, the Republican candidate seemed to suggest that he's not sure how many houses he owns. It was an issue this morning at Barack Obama's campaign event.

CNN's Jessica Yellin joins me now from Chester, Virginia.

What happened, Jessica?

JESSICA YELLIN, CNN CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Kyra, you know Joe Klein of "TIME" magazine is calling this gaffe by John McCain devastating, and the Democratic Party sure hopes it is.

What happened is John McCain quite simply was asked, as you say, how many houses does he own? And he says he's going to have to let his staff get back to the reporter. And they eventually came out and said he owns at least four houses.

Well, Barack Obama and his organization are sending surrogates all over the country to hammer home the message that this shows that John McCain is out of touch about the economic hard times so many Americans are going through. And this is how Barack Obama cast that comment in his remarks here today.


SEN. BARACK OBAMA (D-IL), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: If you think that being rich means you've got to make $5 million, and if you don't know how many houses you have, then it's not surprising that you might think the economy was fundamentally strong.

But if you're like me and you got one house or you were like the millions of people who are struggling right now to keep up with their mortgage so they don't lose their homes, you might have a different perspective.


YELLIN: And this comes after John McCain has made a series of awkward comments about the economy in various ways. I guess we call them awkward. He said at the Saddleback forum on -- over the weekend, when asked what do you think rich is? He said, "Well, $5 million is rich." That was what Obama was referring to there at the top of that sound bite.

The general image that Obama would like to paint is, again, that John McCain, who has said that he thinks the economy is fundamentally strong, just doesn't get how hard so many Americans are having it.

And this comes as Obama is sharpening his attacks, releasing more negative ads as the Democratic Party convention approaches and as we get closer to election day. The campaign taking on a much more combative tone on both sides -- Kyra.

PHILLIPS: Oh, yes, getting even more intense as we get closer to the date. Jessica, thanks.

Well, they're known as bullet bikes, and they can be extremely dangerous. We're going to tell you the outcome of this terrifying crash involving a bullet biker in Utah.

And when war broke out, they were trapped in the Republic of Georgia. Now two young New Jersey girls and their family have a reason to celebrate. We'll tell you why.


PHILLIPS: A 6'5" robber wearing a mask and holding a shotgun bursts into a store. What does the clerk say? "Oh, no you don't." And it's all caught on camera. We'll tell you how it ends.


PHILLIPS: The grisly mystery in Alabama. Authorities say that county welfare officials discovered five bodies last night in an apartment outside Birmingham. According to reports, all five are men, all had slit throats, and a Birmingham affiliate, WBMA, says that the victims are Hispanic.

Little else is being said about that case. The FBI's Joint Terrorism Task Force was among those called in to investigate it.

And a Florida mother is out of the slammer, her young daughter still missing. A crush of cameras met Casey Anthony, free today on a half million dollars' bond. The money put up by an out-of-state bondsman and a bounty hunter who says being out of jail might prompt Anthony to talk.

She's still facing charges of child neglect, obstruction and making false statements to police. Her daughter, Caylee, disappeared in June. The child's grandmother reported her missing in July.

They're called bullet bikes, dangerous weapons in the wrong hands. Watch what happened in the northwest corner of Utah. Our reporter Sandra Yee of CNN affiliate KSL explains.


SANDRA YEE, KSL CORRESPONDENT (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, you know, 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 are 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 Savino. As for motive, Savino 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's always worked for him in video games. So...


PHILLIPS: Well, coincidentally another town in Utah is bracing for the arrival of a notorious bicycle gang -- motorcycle gang, actually. The police chief of Moab asked for emergency funding to put more cops on the street during the annual conference of the Banditos, and that's beginning today.

An update now on a horrific robbery that we told you about earlier this week in the NEWSROOM. Remember this surveillance video of this man attacking an 85-year-old woman inside a Brooklyn elevator? Well, he took $900 that she had just withdrawn from the bank, and then he swiped her cane.

Well, New York police say they have arrested 36-year-old Cornelius Abson, who's allegedly confessed to the attack and another assault, as well. Abson was out on parole. He's a repeat felon with 11 prior arrests. His latest attack is one of at least a dozen on elderly people in Brooklyn since last June. The victim was choked until she passed out. She survived.

And score one for the store clerk in another robbery captured on tape. This one's in California, where clerk Amy Anand decided to take a masked robber and his shotgun. She wrestled with the 6'5" gunman, followed him around the counter and eventually chased him out of the store.


AMY ANAND, CLERK: People like that, they -- they already made their mind, you know. They don't think if it's a woman or a kid in front of them they're going to do stuff like that, unless you stop them.

BOBBY ANAND, HUSBAND: I thought she was a little kitten. I won't mess with her myself. (END VIDEO CLIP)

PHILLIPS: Police caught the suspect not long after the incident after a hit-and-run accident.

Two hot social issues collide in the case of an illegal immigrant in a coma. Should the hospital ship this man out of the country?

A wartime adventure for two young sisters from New Jersey. We'll have the story that they'll never forget.


PHILLIPS: Say good-bye to robo-calls. The Federal Trade Commission is banning most prerecorded telemarketing calls, effective September 2009. Starting this December, taped sales pitches will have to give consumers the choice to opt out of receiving them. The ban doesn't apply to appointment reminders, appeals from nonprofit groups and -- come on, it's an election year -- political pitches.

When it comes to the mortgage meltdown, there doesn't seem to be any end in sight. Today, there are new concerns about the health of some of the nation's largest financial institutions.

Stephanie Elam at the New York Stock Exchange with all the details.

Hey, Steph.


Yes, banks are likely to get hit again with this one. One analyst expects Lehman Brothers, Goldman Sachs, and Morgan Stanley to take write-downs totaling more than $6 billion. And that's just over a three-month period.

So the reason behind all this? Well, the value of the firms' mortgage assets are dwindling, and they're dwindling fast. And it's not just subprime mortgages, but prime mortgages -- those are the ones that are given to people with good credit -- and commercial mortgages. They're all depreciating, as well.

Meanwhile, government-sponsored lenders Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, they are battling talk that they'll eventually be taken over by the government. Their shares have plunged nearly 45 percent in the past three days, Kyra, though might now they're actually up a little bit: Fannie Mae up 8 percent and Freddie Mac up 2 percent. So a little bit of a reprieve here today.

PHILLIPS: These are big, well-known companies, with proven track records. Why don't they just try to raise more money?

ELAM: I'm sure they would if they could, but they can't. The further their stock prices fall, the harder it is to get people to jump in and invest. If any of these firms collapses, it could actually wreak havoc on an already weak financial system. Remember that Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac hold or guarantee about half -- half -- of the outstanding mortgage debt in the nation.

Also Lehman, Goldman, and Morgan, taking a look at them, they're all off 1 to 3 percent, and that is also weighing on the markets.

The Dow is down 7 percent -- I'm sorry, points, off fractionally, at 11,409; NASDAQ off 13 points at 2,375.

Now coming up in the next hour, prices may be down at the pump -- we like that -- but we can't say the same thing for the grocery aisle. New predictions about your food budget for 2009, Kyra.

PHILLIPS: All right, Stephanie. We'll see you coming up in a little bit.

ELAM: Sounds good.

PHILLIPS: For John McCain, it's a rare day off from the rigors of campaign. The Republican candidate is home in Arizona now. And at a campaign stop yesterday in New Mexico, McCain was asked what he's looking for in a running mate.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I heard a rumor that you're going to pick a pro-life VP. Is that true?

SEN. JOHN MCCAIN (R-AZ), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Thank you. We're going through the process. I said on Saturday night that I have a proud pro-life record in Congress. And I am proud of that.

I respect the views of others, but I also happen to believe that the noblest words ever written in history were those that said: "We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all of us are created equal and endowed by our Creator with certain inalienable rights. Among these are life," I think, liberty and the pursuit of happiness." I believe that "life" applies to those that are not born as well as those that are born.

And so -- so -- so we're not talking about the process of the vice presidential situation, except that I would remind you that the vice president of the United States really only has two duties when you think about it.

One is in case there's a tie vote in the Senate. He comes to the -- he or she comes to the floor of the Senate and casts the tie- breaking vote. That's the constitutional duty.

The other duty of the vice president of the United States is to inquire daily as to the health of the president. So that will obviously make -- make my pick very important.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Are you going to pick a vice president that conservatives can actually rally around in the future? Or are you going to give us someone who will cause us to want to stay home, perhaps? Thank you.

MCCAIN: Well, sir, may I say, at least according to the polling data we have, we are doing very well with our base. We have a lot more work to do to energize our base.

We also have to energize our base who cares a lot about our lack of fiscal responsibility, who are very angry. We're also -- we're also going to have to energize our base that cares about this nation's security, which is probably, and when we look at the many challenges we face, probably very significant.

I will choose a president -- I will nominate a person to be vice president, my running mate, who shares my principles, my values, and my priorities.


PHILLIPS: Just ahead this hour, we're going to hear from Barack Obama from his own words about his plans for the economy.

Democrats did a lot of squabbling over the course of their primary season. Now the party's looking at some changes that could reduce the infighting. We're going to tell you what's being considered.


PHILLIPS: Hello, everyone. I'm Kyra Phillips live at the CNN World Headquarters in Atlanta. You're live in the CNN NEWSROOM.

1:30 Eastern time right now. And here's some of the stories we're working on in the CNN NEWSROOM.

Negotiators may be closing in on an agreement that could withdraw U.S. troops from Iraqi cities by next June. Iraq's foreign minister appeared at a news conference today with Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice during her unannounced visit to Baghdad.

Taliban militants are claiming responsibility for a deadly suicide bombing outside a Pakistan weapons factory. Police say that 100 people died, 80 others were wounded.

And a deadly student shooting at a Knoxville, Tennessee, high school. Police say that a student gunman gunned down a classmate in the cafeteria this morning as other students watched in horror.

Well, just over a month from now, Barack Obama and John McCain face off in the first of three debates sponsored by the Presidential Debate Commission. And today, both sides agreed to the details. The first debate will be September 26th, the University of Mississippi. It's going to focus on foreign policy and national security. Second, October 7th at Belmont University in Nashville. It will be a town hall with questions from the audience and the Internet. And then the third debate will be October 15th at Hofstra University in New York. It will cover domestic and economic issues.

Well, a lot of Democrats aren't very happy with the way the primary season was handled. Remember the Michigan and Florida controversies and the questions about superdelegates and their roles in picking a nominee? CNN's Josh Levs joins me now to talk about the changes that might be on the way now.

JOSH LEVS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, remember that? Oh, man.

PHILLIPS: I don't think any of us can forget it. Long and arduous process.

LEVS: Seriously. It was exhausting. We got so much e-mail all throughout the entire thing. A lot of people upset about how it works. Any time we asked for opinions, the vast majority of the people said they were not satisfied. And so now they're talking about some real change. If this is the campaign of change, there might actually be some serious change the next time around.

This is what the Democrats are calling for. Let's start off with this graphic, because I want to show you something. What they're talking about is tackling the three biggest issues that were involved in the process. They want a new calendar, they want to drop the number of superdelegates, which means that some of the 800 would lose that superdelegate status. Who will that be? We don't know. They also want to change the caucus system. A lot of issues with the caucuses there.

Let's go to the next graphic because this will show you what they want to do to the calendar. They are not being super specific, but they want to create this thing called a Democratic Change Commission. And the goal will be to ensure that there are no contests at all before that first Tuesday in March. But there actually -- no, I shouldn't say at all -- there would be a few that would be approved as pre-window states. But even they would have to wait until February.

Basically, they are condensing it into a shorter time frame. And even the pre-approved states would be pretty close to the big Super Tuesday, which would be a seat change.

Now, I will tell you that some people say the system as it was this year actually was a positive thing because it got more and more people involved in each state. One of those people is Ed Rendell, governor of Pennsylvania. Let's listen to him.


GOV. ED RENDELL (D), PENNSYLVANIA: In Pennsylvania, we headed 300,000 Democrats to the registration polls. We now have a 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.


LEVS: Howard Dean, who is the head of the DNC -- the Democratic National Committee, is saying something similar. He says, you know what? In the end, it empowered the party. But, he said this in a statement -- "We must continue to strengthen the process and ensure a fair process in which the diverse voices in our party and our nation have a chance to be heard."

So Kyra, what they're doing now is this, they are going to bring this up at the convention coming next week. They want this commission in place to give recommendations by the very beginning of 2010, and they say they want these changes to be in effect by 2012, next time around.

PHILLIPS: 2012 -- I'm counting the years -- that gives them plenty of time to figure this all out.

LEVS: You would think so. If you have a bunch of smart people that say, how can we make this a more fair, one person, one vote, process? You would think that within four years they could make it happen. But it's also politics and we know what that means. So --


PHILLIPS: Exactly. A lot of talk.

All right, thanks, Josh.

LEVS: Thank you.

PHILLIPS: Well, it's a coveted state in the race for the White House, Barack Obama is back in Virginia today where he is campaigning with a potential running mate, Governor Tim Kaine. And the Democratic candidate is talking about the economy.

Here's what he had to say this morning in Chester, Virginia.


OBAMA: The American dream has always been not just about us, but about the future and about our children. Are we going to make sure that if we work hard that they're going to inherit an America that's more prosperous and more unified than the one we received from our parents and our grandparents? That's the essence of the American dream and people feel like it's slipping away. That's why all across the country when you talk to folks they're unsure of the future. And they're worried.

That's a single mom I meet who is working two jobs and still doesn't have health care for her family, or the guy I met who worked at a factory for 20 years and now is packing up the equipment that he worked on because that equipment is being sent to China, plant is up and gone and he loses not just his job, but his loses his health care, his pension, and most of all, his sense of self-respect because he's not sure whether, no matter what he does, he can still support his family, or the young people I meet who have the grades and the will and the drive to go to college, but still don't have the money and are having to further their dreams further and further into the future until maybe those dreams just go away. Now, those are the individual stories behind the statistics. And that's what this election's all about. Are we going to make sure that the American people have somebody in the White House that's fighting for them? That's the reason I'm running for president of United States of America -- to fight for those families.


PHILLIPS: And a few hours from now, Obama holds a town hall meeting in Chesapeake.

Just 24 hours until we see if Russia makes good on its promise. Russia's president and now top Russian military commanders all say that the forces will be out of occupied areas of Georgia by tomorrow evening. So far, though, many reports from Georgia describe Russian troops as being in no hurry to move toward pre-invasion lines.

Meanwhile, today Russian officials say that they will halt all military cooperation with NATO until the Georgia conflict is resolved. NATO alliance officials made a similar announcement days ago.

And two New Jersey girls are safe and sound today at the U.S. Embassy in Tbilisi. Sophia and Ashley Evans, ages 7 and 3, were trapped by the Russian invasion at the farm of their Georgian grandparents for two weeks. They were delivered to the embassy overnight in a car with the French ambassador who used his diplomatic pull to get past Russian checkpoints. The girls' father has arrived from New Jersey, he is with them now.

He spoke with our Heidi Collins just a short time ago.


JOSEPH EVANS, FATHER: The French ambassador went himself with his team to do the extraction. And I've got to say, Viva La France. Thank you, and God bless America.

How do I feel? It was the biggest -- you can imagine -- the relief. And then they were in close contact with my wife back in the states, so it was really a big effort. So I'd just like to thank everybody. Thank you.

HEIDI COLLINS, CNN ANCHOR: And we should let everybody know that 7-year-old Ashley is standing below you and your 3-year-old daughter Sophia is right next to you in the arms of your brother-in-law.

What did they tell you, Joe, when you first saw them about what happened?

EVANS: Yes. Well, the baby, you know, she's a baby. She's kind of not with the news. But my other daughter was a little shaken up when they did the turn around in Gori. It was quite an experience for her to see. And I'm just glad I got her again. And they're keeping me busy.

COLLINS: Yes, I bet they are. And we should remind everybody, Joe, what you're talking about there.

EVANS: Yes, they are.

COLLINS: We should remind everyone that when your daughters were trying to get out of the area, they were trying to make their way to the embassy, but they were actually turned around by soldiers in Gori which is the highway there that had been blocked off by Russian military vehicles. So obviously a very scary moment for them.

Joe, what happens next now? Are you going to be heading back home shortly, back to New Jersey?

EVANS: Yes, we have tickets scheduled. And we're going to be home as soon as possible.


PHILLIPS: New Jersey Congressman Chris Smith was instrumental in getting those girls to safety. The State Department says it's monitoring the cases of some 30 Americans under 18 who are in Georgia without their parents.

And a Chicago hospital is at the center of fire storm over two flawed American systems -- immigration and health care. The case concerns a comatose illegal immigrant and just how much free care the hospital's required to provide.

Here's CNN's Bill Tucker.


BILL TUCKER, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Francisco Pantaleon is an illegal alien with no health insurance. In mid-July he suffered a brain hemorrhage and lapsed into a coma. Pantaleon was admitted to this hospital. Because he has no insurance and poor, the complete cost of his medical care has been picked up by the University of Illinois Medical Center in Chicago.

Now that his condition is stabilized, the hospital wants to discharge him, as they would any other patient, to a long-term care facility. And that's where this story becomes complicated. The hospital wants to return Pantaleon, a Mexican citizen, to his country of origin because he's an illegal alien. His wife and sister have organized protests outside of the hospital objecting to the plans to discharge him and charging that the hospital is discriminating against Mexicans. The attorney representing the family is also the general counsel to the Mexican Consulate. He says Mr. Pantaleon is not leaving the hospital in Chicago because they are responsible for looking after him.

JOHN DELEON, FAMILY'S ATTORNEY: All I'm telling you is, he happens to be an immigrant who is in need of desperate medical attention, around the clock, and the hospital, under federal law, and, I believe, under the laws of the state of the Illinois, have got to provide the necessary care for this individual. TUCKER: Ironically, Mr. Pantaleon was not worried about federal law when he entered the country illegally. The Illinois Hospital Association notes that Illinois hospitals spend millions of dollars a year providing this kind of medical care, and that it puts hospitals in a difficult position.

HOWARD PETERS, ILLINOIS HOSPITAL ASSOCIATION: I think it's unfair to criticize the hospital after the hospital has really provided world class care and has really made an appropriate arrangement and is willing to pay the medical transport of this person by medical air ambulance to the new facility.

TUCKER: A spokesman for the University of Illinois Medical Center insists that it is not in the deportation business and that -- quote -- "We have been working with a family member authorized to make the necessary decisions regarding Mr. Pantaleon's care."

Bill Tucker, CNN, New York.


PHILLIPS: Golf's leading man sidelined by surgery. Will it be a game changer for Tiger Woods?

And a human pin cushion's Olympic tribute. Get ready to cringe on this one.


PHILLIPS: Half a million older Americans are putting their health at risk because of a gap in Medicare coverage. That's according to a Kaiser Family Foundation study which cites a 2003 law that limits drug payments to Medicare recipients. Under that law, the regular Medicare drug benefits stops at $2,400 per person. Recipients then have to spend more than $3,800 before catastrophic coverage kicks in. That study says about 15 percent of the people caught in that gap stop taking drugs for diabetes, high blood pressure, or other chronic conditions jeopardizing their health.

And a (INAUDIBLE) no-show on the golf tour these days. Tiger Woods is still missing in action after surgery in June.

CNN's chief medical correspondent, Dr. Sanjay Gupta, takes a closer look.


DR. SANJAY GUPTA, CNN CHIEF MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: 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, and 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 kneecap, 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, AMERICAN ACADEMY OF ORTHOPEDIC SURGEONS: Once he starts swinging, 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, you can retear on 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 stationery 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. He doesn't want to have to limit how he swings.

GUPTA: And neither do his fans.

Dr. Sanjay Gupta, CNN, reporting.


PHILLIPS: They're going for the gold. The U.S. women's volleyball team has a big date Saturday, a stunning win today against Cuba has volted them into the gold medal final against Brazil. The U.S. improved to 6-1 in Olympic play with their upset against Cuba, a three-time Olympic champion, by the way. For the American women squad, their best previous Olympic finish was a silver medal back in 1948.

Now this next story is guaranteed to make you wince. No matter who wins the Olympic games, this man is literally on pins and needles over the performance. His name, is Waysome Chew. And guess what? He's an acupuncturist. That makes sense. You can surmise by the pictures that, yes, he's got more than 200 tiny flags on needles stuck into his scalp in tribute to the nations in the Olympic games. They call him Pin Man or Hedgehog and maybe a few other things that we probably can't say on the air.

These are not your father's vampires and their creator says she's not the new J.K. Rowling, she's got millions of fans.

An unwelcome surprise for one California landlord, that humming in the wall has a frightening explanation.


PHILLIPS: Flags at the U.S. Capitol lowered to half-staff in memory of Congresswoman Stephanie Tubbs Jones, an Ohio Democrat, remembered as a trailblazer.


PHILLIPS (voice-over): Her father was a Skycap at the Cleveland airport. She became the first black woman to represent Ohio in Congress.

Stephanie Tubbs Jones was found unconscious at the wheel of her car. She died Wednesday, at a Cleveland hospital. The victim of a brain aneurysm in the prime of her political career. Tubbs Jones chaired the House Ethics Committee and was the first black welcome to serve on the powerful House Ways and Means Committee.

REP. DENNIS KUCINICH (D), OHIO: I'm devastated. It's a loss that is hard to describe. I haven't really absorbed this yet. I have to tell you that. And I don't think most people in our community really absorbed this yet.

SEN. HILLARY CLINTON (D), NEW YORK: Congresswoman Stephanie Tubbs Jones from Cleveland.

PHILLIPS: During her nearly 10 years in Congress, Tubbs Jones established a reputation as an outspoken, sometimes fiery, liberal. She was one of just 11 House members -- all Democrats -- who voted against the U.S. invasion of Iraq. And she challenged the results of the 2004 presidential election.

CONGRESSWOMAN STEPHANIE TUBBS JONES (D), OHIO: I witnessed firsthand in my home state, Ohio, the widespread lengths that people have gone through in order to suppress votes.

PHILLIPS: Tubbs Jones was a passionate advocate for other African-American political candidates. Saying that that was the only way to level the playing field. But she surprised many of her supporters when she came out and supported Hillary Clinton in the Democratic presidential race.

TUBBS JONES: We need a leader like Hillary Rodham Clinton! We need a fighter like Hillary Rodham Clinton! We need a woman in the White House who knows what to do.

PHILLIPS: After Clinton suspended her campaign, Tubbs Jones endorsed Barack Obama and urged him to consider Clinton as a vice presidential running mate. The Clinton family released a statement praising Tubbs Jones as a one-woman force for progress. Obama called her an extraordinary American and an outstanding public servant. President Bush praised Tubbs Jones as an effective legislator, grateful for her unforgettable service.


PHILLIPS: Representative Stephanie Tubbs Jones would have been a superdelegate at next week's Democratic National Convention. She was a candidate for re-election in November. And now, Ohio election officials are trying to determine whether there will be special elections to fill her seat in the interim.


PHILLIPS: Move over Harry Potter. Books about blood-sucking vampires are now must-reads for teens.

CNN's Brooke Anderson introduces us to one author who's being treated like a rock star.


BROOKE ANDERSON, CNN ENTERTAINMENT CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Screaming fans. Sold-out appearances. Even a bodyguard for protection. Meet the literary world's newest rock star.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Please welcome Stephanie Meyer.

ANDERSON: Stephanie Meyer penned the vampire centric "Twilight" book series and is being hailed by some, as the next J.K. Rowling.

STEPHANIE MEYER, AUTHOR, "TWILIGHT": There's never going to be another J.K. Rowling. You know, I'm a huge fan of hers. And that's just a phenomenon that's not going to reoccur.

ANDERSON: Meyer, a Mormon mother of three, was a 29-year-old house wife when she had a life-changing dream about vampires.

MEYER: It was so cool to take this dream and make it into something that was real that I could revisit.

ANDERSON (on camera): That was five years ago. Today, her stories are a worldwide phenomenon. Four books in a series. The final just released. 15 million copies in print, published in 37 countries. And a film set for November.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You brought a snack.

ANDERSON: A Mormon writing about blood-sucking vampires. It's an interesting dichotomy, isn't it?

NICOLE SPERLING, "ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY": It is. And actually, until you get to the fourth book, it's actually rather chaste. And while it is about passion and love, it's very innocent. MEYER: My vampires break a lot of the rules. My vampires don't have fangs, they don't sleep at all. They glisten in the sunlight, which is why they can't go out in it. But it doesn't hurt them. They're a lot more indestructible than your usual vampire. Stakes are not going to help you out.

ANDERSON: Fans dubbed themselves "Twilight Moms," "Twilighters" and "Twiharges (ph)." Still, Meyer remains modest.

MEYER: Sometimes it's funny. I have to remind myself, that I'm not an impostor. Because I get a little panicky when I have this big group. It's like they're really here to see me? It can't be right.

ANDERSON: Brooke Anderson, CNN, Hollywood.


PHILLIPS: It used to be a restaurant with an opera theme but lately it's a home to 40,000 bees. The insects set up camp inside this office building in Tracy, California. Workers started hearing a loud humming noise behind a wall about two weeks ago. And when they took a look, well, they uncovered a massive six-layer bee colony. Once a bee keeper removed the bees, office workers from all around showed up to take home the free honey.

The next hour of CNN NEWSROOM starts right now.