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Fast-Moving Wildfire; GOP Gets an Earful; Pulse of the People on the Economy; Record Month of Foreclosures; Going after Afghan Drug Lords; Fact and Fiction about Health Care; Stocks Ready to Rally; Fast-Moving Wildfire; Coach Admits to Casual Sex

Aired August 13, 2009 - 09:00   ET


RICH SANCHEZ, CNN ANCHOR: Good to be here, thanks, guys.

Flames light up the night sky, hundreds of homes right now in danger as a wildfire threatens a northern California town. Look at those pictures.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I understand that some of you have already made up your mind.


SANCHEZ: Lawmakers continue to feel the heat from the critics of health care reform legislation. This hour we get to the truth of one claim that stirred up protesters.

Also, sex in a restaurant, pregnancy, and now a payment? This is a scandal for famed basketball coach Rick Pitino that the whole country seems to be talking about this morning. And we've got comments on the blog as well as on twitter.

Good morning, everybody, I'm Rick Sanchez, I'm going to be sitting in for Heidi Collins. It's Thursday, August 13th, and you are now in the CNN NEWSROOM.

All right, we call it make or break month for health care. More lawmakers are meeting with voters during this hour. And will this resistance continue?

Look at this map that we've put together for you. Candy Crowley, she's in Iowa, key Republican negotiators getting an earful there from hundreds of constituents.

Dr. Sanjay Gupta is going to be looking at one of the lightning rods of reform. How in the world have we gotten to the point where there's even talk of, quote, "death panels"?

Death panels, think about that.

And then Ali Velshi is going to be taking it to the people who's angry and why are they angry? This is the news unfiltered, folks. He's aboard the CNN Express and we're going to be taking your comments here on as well. Can't wait to hear what you have to say about that Rick Patino. Talk about firing.

We're going to start with breaking news, though. It's just after 6:00 in California and there's already a fast-moving wildfire that's threatening some -- well, we're told about hundreds of homes in the area.

Again, look at these pictures as they're starting to come in. It's about 60 miles south of San Francisco as we follow this thing. Let me just go over some of the details that we know right now.

Officials say they're going door to door, they're using the reverse 911 system to tell people to get out as soon as they can. There are around 600 people that have been getting those evacuation orders up to now. That could grow.

The fire started last night and has already spread to more than 1,000 acres. About 300 firefighters are battling this blaze on the ground. Now, at first light, that would be about 20 minutes, they're going to start to finally be able to use helicopters once again to try and help fight this blaze.

Let's get over to Rob Marciano. He's been following this for us. You know, as I say that, I'm thinking to myself, then if they can't get the helicopters off to first light, what were they doing at night? Were they just letting this burn? Or what's going on?

ROB MARCIANO, CNN METEOROLOGIST: No, you know how this works, Rick. Typically they work 24-hour shifts, 12-hour shifts, on and off, and they get these guys working overnight and that's when the cooler air, it's when the humidity rises, so they can get a better handle on the fire on the ground.

During the day, they attack it from the air. So that's going to be coming up, sun up here in just a few minutes and they'll start to get a little bit more active as far as the attack from the air.

All right. Let's go over some of the topography here. This is just north of Santa Cruz. It's a mountainous area, anywhere from 1,000 to 2,000 feet in elevation, surrounded by some maritime chaparral and some heavy timbers as well in some spots.

The winds right now generally west-northwest. So it's not necessarily onshore, not a good onshore push to give that marine layer. And then -- it's probably going to stay there. If not, maybe even go a little more northerly. So they don't think that weather really is going to help things all that much.

The Redwood Forests are on the northern and northeastern side of this thing. It is burning in some heavy timber. But that, those trees are actually -- have evolved to resist fire. So that's not going to be as big of an issue as some of the lower standing brush.

Now this area, Rick, had endured a fire last year, a little bit smaller fire, but they had to evacuate a similar number of residents. So these folks are certainly no stranger to this operation.

SANCHEZ: You and I have covered a lot of these things. How big is this one compared to some of the others that we've seen in the past, especially the one in San Diego that killed so many people?

MARCIANO: Well, that one in a much more populated area, obviously. So that's the deal. You talk about 2,000 acres in a small populated area versus 2,000 in a large populated area. You get more bang for your buck down there. Hopefully they'll get a handle on this thing before the small number of people affected will have to leave their homes entirely.

SANCHEZ: We'll be -- you'll be watching the winds for us because that's often the -- what really makes a difference in these things. Thanks so much, Rob. We'll get back to you, man.

MARCIANO: You got it.

SANCHEZ: The rhetoric of these town hall meetings is getting so heated that many lawmakers on both sides of the aisle are having really a tough time even just getting their messages across.

Senior political correspondent Candy Crowley is joining us now. She's in West Des Moines where Republican leader, Chuck Grassley, has met with some of his constituents and continues to.

Candy, how's that going?

CANDY CROWLEY, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, let's call it polite, but pointed. I saw actually more interchange between different sides in the crowds that one would say were ramped up than I did towards Senator Grassley. Nonetheless, he got some tough questions.

You know he says he has done about 2,800 town hall meetings since he first came to Congress more than 30 years ago. He is really well on his way to breaking several marks this year in terms of town hall meetings and certainly they don't get any easier.


SEN. CHARLES GRASSLEY (R), IOWA: Well, if it's OK with you, I'll get started.

CROWLEY (voice-over): Winterset, Iowa. Senator Chuck Grassley holds his 72nd town hall meeting of the year. What a year.

GRASSLEY: We're here at a time when I sense that people are scared for our country.

CROWLEY: His town halls have been twice, sometimes three times, as big as he's had in previous years. So many hands in the air, so many cross currents.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I need to know what are you doing to these insurance companies that are putting everything in their pocket and just laughing at everybody else.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Simple math even for this southern Iowa redneck shows that we can do -- we can cover the people who want coverage with a private policy cheaper.

CROWLEY: Making his way through the questions festering in the Iowa countryside, Grassley is really in a mine field. Why does he support cuts in Medicare? He doesn't. Will he support a plan with a government insurance option? No. And about those so-called death panels, a term critics use to argue against a provision they say will put the federal government in the euthanasia business?

GRASSLEY: At one point up here...

CROWLEY: Grassley, a man with encyclopedic knowledge of many issues, stepped where he probably should not.

GRASSLEY: I don't have any problem with things like living wills, but they ought to be done within the family. We should not have -- we should not have -- we should not have a government program that determines you're going to pull the plug on grandma.

CROWLEY: Put him down as not on target, the program inserted in the House bill would allow federal reimbursement to doctors who give end-of-life counseling to Medicare patients who want it. Critics say the counseling may become coercive.

Grassley has a reputation as a seasoned and reasoned conservative. He works now with a small group of Senate Republicans and Democrats trying to come up with a middle ground bill. A Capitol Hill lawmaker for 35 years, he is up for reelection next year, about which he is reminded daily.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Democrat or Republican, whoever senator or congressman votes for this bill, we will vote you out.

CROWLEY: The senator threads his way between his core constituents angry that he's trying.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: There is nothing a liberal wants that I would agree to and we have to stop giving ground.

CROWLEY: And others who have voted for him for three decades angry he's not trying hard enough.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I want to ask you why you won't use your strong Republican voice to clarify the outright lies that are out there about the programs that are being proposed.

CROWLEY: At day's end, Grassley was in an open-air park in Adel, Iowa, for his 75th town hall meeting of the year.

GRASSLEY: I've got 16 more town meetings, so I don't want to draw a conclusion from four town meetings.

CROWLEY: August may not be the coolest month, but it's going to seem like the longest one.


CROWLEY: The senator says he hasn't seen this sort of passion in these town hall meetings since 1989, probably not coincidental that that was when Congress was trying to convince the public to buy into a plan they had about catastrophic health care coverage.

So the senator marches on, but it's really clear out here what we are seeing, Rick, in those national polls, and that is that we have a pretty divided public out there about what they see as Obama-style reform.

SANCHEZ: I cannot believe what I just heard in your report. I was -- my jaw dropped when I heard it. So let me just ask you a very direct question. I wrote it down here as I heard it.

When he says, "We should not have a government program that pulls the plug on grandma," is he implying that there is now a proposal in Congress to have a government program to pull the plug on grandma?

CROWLEY: Certainly that's how critics of that particular remark took it. And it certainly sounds that way. I will tell you that the senator was asked about it afterwards and he said, listen, what I'm saying is I understand that there is fear when people read this that that might happen, but that he personally didn't necessarily translate that provision, as you know, of AARP and the AMA, American Medical Association, all support this particular passage, which is in one of four bills that are up there.

So Senator Grassley said that he doesn't personally think you could translate it that way. But he understands why people look at it and come to that conclusion.

SANCHEZ: Isn't it incumbent among people like Senator Grassley who are the leaders of this government and of this country to set the record straight and be telling people the truth like the truth as we know it here at CNN, that there is absolutely no proposal out there for death panels or for proposals that would actually plan to decide when people die?

CROWLEY: Yes. And here's what I would tell you. That first of all, critics of those -- and this didn't come from Senator Grassley, but critics of that particular provision say that in the end, certainly as people get older, that that sort of counseling could be seen by those patients as coercive.

Having said that, I will bet you almost anything that if this question comes up in the next 16 town hall meetings that Senator Grassley has here, you will hear a different take on this, a more clarified version of what he told reporters than what he said on the stump.

SANCHEZ: Great stuff, good report. Candy Crowley, as usual, good report. We thank you so much for that. Now let's turn to the health of the economy. The data has been encouraging lately. Experts, some of them downright giddy, optimistic. We talked about this last week. And it's really to pin down. It really is. There's a lot of variables going on.

But are we possibly climbing out of the recession? Some are even suggesting that parts of the recession may be over. I know. What? What really matters, though, in many ways, is not what the experts are saying but what people out there are saying. Because they're the real stimulus in this. If they believe it's good, some say well, they'll spend more, they'll act differently.

CNN chief business correspondent Ali Velshi is aboard the CNN Express doing just that, taking the pulse of America.

ALI VELSHI, CNN SENIOR BUSINESS CORRESPONDENT: Well, after driving through Georgia, Tennessee, Kentucky, and Illinois, we pulled into Missouri and we're headed towards Sedalia, Missouri near Kansas City. It's where the Missouri State Fair is.

Now the discussion has been about health care for most of the week. But there was some interesting news about some prominent economists saying that the recession is over, the Federal Reserve saying that this downturn might be bottoming out.

Now this is something we've heard before, but we decided to ask people about it. What do they think about it? And what we found is that while they don't disbelieve the facts, for most people, their personal economy isn't recovering nearly as quickly.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: My personal recession is not over.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I've already pushed my retirement ahead about five years.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I think, technically, the economists are correct. Technically the recession is over, we're probably going into the next bull market.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I look at my own 401(k) and do you know, I didn't get hit as hard as others, but it's not back where it was.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: If the recession is over as they say, I figure it's going to take me personally about five or six years just to gain what I've lost over the last couple of years.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's going to take six, nine months or a year before the job loss slows down and stops and we start turning around and adding jobs.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: No, we're not there. Hopefully soon and I have a lot of hope that we will get through this.

(END VIDEO CLIP) VELSHI: Now through the course of this tour into the heartland, we have found some encouraging signs, particularly some real estate agents who feel that things have improved a little bit for them.

They're starting to see more people shopping for houses and more people signing deals. But, ultimately, until the price of houses starts to come up and those job losses start to ease up, most people aren't going to feel this recovery even if it's underway right now.

SANCHEZ: By the way, not all of the economic news is good. The nation's housing crisis has set yet another month for record foreclosures. The private firm RealtyTrac says 360,000 homeowners received the dreaded notices just last month.

Christine Romans is part of our CNN money team, we're proud to say. And she's joining us now from New York.

Is this new? Or this -- we're catching up to an old problem?

CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: This is an old problem that doesn't show any signs of abating, quite frankly. Another record month, Rick, of foreclosure filings. And foreclosure filings, as you know, are everything from the first notice in the mail that says look, you're two months past due, all the way to the end of the line, which is the padlock on the front door.

You're seeing record numbers of this. You look at the number up 7 percent from June and July. Again and again, we see it month after month, 360,000 properties getting one form of a foreclosure notice or another, and you look at it versus last year, look at that jump, up 32 percent.

Why? Because some of the states that had a moratorium on foreclosures while they waited for the federal rescue plan to get under way, those moratoriums have lifted now and so they're continuing the foreclosure process.

Where is it focused? Same old story -- Nevada, California, Arizona, Florida. Look at Nevada, Rick. 1 in 56 homes in the entire state has some sort of foreclosure notice. 1 in 56.


ROMANS: Down in Florida, 1 in 154. That's almost double the national average. So in some of these places in the sunbelt that really, really had huge developing and huge speculative bubbles, those have popped, but also you're seeing more foreclosures in Illinois and other places in the Midwest. So this problem is still growing here.

SANCHEZ: I hate to sound opportunistic, but it sounds like there's some wonderful opportunities out there for the real estate.

Christine Romans, thanks so much for bringing us up to date on that.

BY the way, this is also important to note. Just because the foreclosures are over in an individual case, let's supposed you or your neighbor foreclosed on their home, that doesn't mean the problems are over for the homeowner. You don't just walk away from something like this.

We're planning to show you what often goes overlooked by people who think that foreclosure is actually an end point.

MARCIANO: I'm Rob Marciano at the CNN Severe Weather Center. We have fire problems, flood problems on the east coast, and far east in the Atlantic, we have a tropical depression. More weather is coming up when the CNN NEWSROOM comes right back.

ANNOUNCER: CNN NEWSROOM brought to you by...


SANCHEZ: Welcome back to the CNN NEWSROOM. I'm Rick Sanchez, filling in for Heidi, I should say.

A dramatic shift, a new strategy in Afghanistan. A Senate report is now saying that U.S. military is going after Afghan drug lords with orders to capture or kill traffickers with ties to the Taliban.

Atia Abawi is joining us with the latest on this story. She's in Kabul. Atia, what's going on?

ATIA ABAWI, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Rick, it's definitely a bolder approach than the approaches that they've taken in the past, which was to just destroy poppy crops. And what we've seen in the past are provinces in Afghanistan that have gone completely drug-free. But then the next year have seen a 200 percent increase.

So now the bolder approach is to actually go after these drug traffickers, a target list of kill and capture for at least 367, 50 of those with ties with the drugs and the Taliban, but what's also interesting about a report that we at CNN have obtained a copy of yet released report by the U.S. Senate Foreign Relations Committee, another surprise here shows that al Qaeda doesn't necessarily rely on the money from drug money here, but the Taliban, they are getting money, but it's less than what we have expected in the past. Rick?

SANCHEZ: And no wonder some of the prices of that drug are being seen as much cheaper all over the country, including here in the United States as that story we showed in Maine the other day would reflect.

Atia, thanks so much for that report. We'll keep checking back.

CNN's startling investigation into the heart of a generation at the cross roads. Now, Christiane Amanpour will reveal the struggle for the hearts and minds of the next generation of Muslims. Which way do they go? And how what happens in Gaza and Afghanistan, for example, and Iraq will impact us all.

Again, Christiane Amanpour reports "GENERATION ISLAM." This is a two-hour CNN special event tonight at 9:00 Eastern. Death panels. You've heard lots of people making that claim about the plans for health care reform. We're going to be cutting through all the noise and trying to break down the arguments for you.


SANCHEZ: And we welcome you back. I'm Rick Sanchez.

A lot of claims are adding to the confusion about health care reform. So we're here to try and separate fact from fiction for you. Our "Inside" chief medical correspondent, Dr. Sanjay Gupta is here. He's going to be answering some of your questions.

Here's one from Cheryl in Indiana. You're ready, Sanjay?


SANCHEZ: "Is it true that seniors will get counseling about end- of-life treatments? And what does that really mean?" Here's the part of the question that's most interesting. "I've heard people calling it a death panel." Sarah Palin. "But even that confuses me."

All right. I've got to tell you, Sanjay, I'm kind of embarrassed that as a news anchor I would have to ask you whether the president of the United States is actually setting up a panel to decide what people should be killed and when they should be killed. But that's where this conversation has gotten to, so have at it.

GUPTA: You know, the hyperbole here, I think -- I'm going out on a limb and say this is hyperbole without a question. You're getting e-mails about this. I am, too.

SANCHEZ: That's fine.

GUPTA: But that's the discussion that we're having.

SANCHEZ: The truth is important.

GUPTA: Yes. This idea that you have -- the truth is important here. And if you look at the language of the bill, which I think is very important, I've done this. This is what I've been doing as a journalist for the last several weeks.


GUPTA: Page 425, for people who actually pay attention to this sort of thing. That's the page where they're actually talking about what's become so controversial. Talking specifically -- and I can read you some of this. "Advance care planning consultation," defined as a senior and elderly person and a medical practitioner discussing advance care planning.

Two things they don't say. One thing is that you don't have to do this, number one.

SANCHEZ: Right. GUPTA: Number two is you don't have to abide by the recommendation of the physician.

SANCHEZ: But that -- what you just described means -- heaven forbid, I love my parents so much and I can't even stop to think about what would happened the day I have to do this. But if my mom and dad got to the point where it was critical for them, and they were near death's door, I would have someone that I would be able to talk to plan how me and my children and my family would deal with that.

GUPTA: That's right. And the critics will charge, look, you can already do that. You can do that in...

SANCHEZ: And insurance would pay for that?

GUPTA: And insurance would pay for that under the...

SANCHEZ: But that's counseling.

GUPTA: That's right. And, by the way, I think part of this, if you read the language even more carefully, is that it should be done before your parents are ever at death's door.

SANCHEZ: Interesting.

GUPTA: I'll give you an example. After the whole Terry Schiavo thing, that you and I covered extensively?.


GUPTA: I made a living will. I hadn't really thought about that in my life up until that point. But that was something I suddenly thought about. Living will, having some advance directives, how do I want to be treated if I am in a state where I may not potentially recover?

One caveat to all of this because I've been doing so much research on this.


GUPTA: You go to the Geriatrics Literature, you look at this specific issue. What they find is this. If a counseling session like this does take place, elderly people are less likely to be aggressive with their own care after getting this counseling. Because the doctors will lay out the options.

Do you want CPR? Do you want defibrillation? Do you want a breathing tube placed?


GUPTA: Do you want -- and an elderly person may say after that counseling session, I don't want those things.

SANCHEZ: Or religious people. GUPTA: Or religious people.

SANCHEZ: You could have religious beliefs that say, you know what? I don't want to be put on a machine and kept alive.

GUPTA: That's right. But I think your point is a good one, Rick. This idea that it sort of conjures up this image of firing squads almost to call it a death panel, there is no mandate that you have to have these meetings. And there's no mandate that you abide by these recommendations.

SANCHEZ: How in the hell -- how in the world did we get from a meeting about people getting counseling in case, heaven forbid, someone in their family is dying to a death panel?



It's politics meets medicine, you know, in so many ways.

SANCHEZ: In so many.


Sanjay, we appreciate it. It's good to have these conversations.

GUPTA: OK. Thank you.

SANCHEZ: All right, man.

Roads washed out after a typhoon. It's time for some extreme rescues. And we've got the pictures. Crews use ropes and chairs to bring survivors to safety in Taiwan.


ANNOUNCER: Live in the CNN NEWSROOM, Rick Sanchez.

SANCHEZ: Hey, everybody, I'm Rick Sanchez filling in for Heidi Collins.

There is another good sign from Wall Street. Susan Lisovicz at the New York Stock Exchange. Seen a lot of good signs from Wall Street since March.

What's going on, Susan?

SUSAN LISOVICZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, you know, in March, Rick, we began at the beginning of a terrific rally on the sense that things were not getting worse. And increasingly that things are getting better. And the confirmation from the Federal Reserve came yesterday. The Fed basically issuing its most optimistic statement in a year.

But you know, since we've been talking a lot about health care, Rick, let me just use the U.S. economy as a patient. The patient may be out of ICU, out of intensive care, but the U.S. economy...

SANCHEZ: It's all good.

LISOVICZ: The U.S. economy and the patient is not healthy yet. And we have some signs of it even though we're expecting a rally at the open, we're still seeing signs that the U.S. economy is sick.

We have continuing jobless claims dip last week to 6.2 million people on the (INAUDIBLE) is still very, very high. And new jobless claims unexpectedly rose last week.

Retail sales, meanwhile, unexpectedly fell last month. Auto sales benefited from Cash for Clunkers, but those gains were swapped by weakness at department, furniture, and electronic stores.

Wal-Mart said its quarterly profit was flat, but the world's largest retailer boosted its earnings out with Wal-Mart like other retailers is tweaking its bottom line from cost cuts, not higher sales.

Spending is down, why? Because many people, unfortunately, are still losing their homes. 360,000 households received a foreclosure notice last month. That's up seven percent from a year ago. And yes, another record. Those are the kind of records we don't like to talk about.

But at the open, the first minute of trading, Rick, we are still seeing green arrows, the DOW, the NASDAQ, the S&P 500, each inching higher.

So there is a sense of optimism even though this recovery may be a very slow prolonged one that there are many signs that things are not getting worse. But we've got a ways to go, Rick. Back to you.

SANCHEZ: Well you know what happens if it gets back on track too fast? That's called a steep hill or mountain, right? Then it goes down just as steeply. I mean, isn't that what we're trying to avoid? These things as opposed to those things? Right?

LISOVICZ: Well, you know, there has been a lot of talk about, you know, what shape the recovery will be. Is it a u, is it a v? Or I think what you're talking about is the w. And why the Fed is still administrating medicine to try to juice this economy, but basically it says it sees an exit strategy later this fall.

But it has to be careful not to pull the medicine too quickly because you could go back down again and that's basically I think what you're talking about.

SANCHEZ: Yes. Curves are good. Curves are good. Susan Lisovicz, thank you.

LISOVICZ: See you then.

SANCHEZ: Now to the breaking story that we've been following for you in California. We've been watching this thing all morning. Now, look at this.

This is a wildfire that's threatening hundreds of homes this morning. Emergency officials there forcing evacuations in several communities.

This is around San Francisco, just south of San Francisco, actually. Firefighters are on the front lines in this thing. They're trying to stop the spread.

So far, the fire seems to have the upper hand and not the firefighters. That's not good. Six hundred people, we're told, homeowners are being told to get out as soon as they can.

Now, the sun is just starting to come up over the fire this morning. These are some of the pictures that we've been getting in from our affiliate KGO. It gives firefighters a pretty good look at the task at hand.

John Ferreira is with the Cal fire. He's there in Santa Cruz, he's good enough to take some time to talk to us. We won't keep him too long. Because we know he's got a lot of work to do.

What's the situation right now with this fire, sir?

JOHN FERREIRA, CAL FIRE (via telephone): Well, right now, we're hopeful now that we've got some daylight on the fire that we'll be able to find some ways in or construct our ways in into the fire line that we were unable to do last night because of the darkness and the steep rugged terrain is just covered with trees. So...

SANCHEZ: How big an enemy is the wind for you? I know you guys, every time we talk to you about these things, you're always telling us man, if the wind just calms down, we'll be able to get a handle on this thing.


SANCHEZ: What's going on with that?

FERREIRA: Well, and that's what happened last night about 8:00, the wind picked up and blew the fire over a ridge above us and pushed the fire down towards the coast and the town of Davenport and the Swanton road area.

This morning, we're expecting an onshore flow, which will move the fire in the other direction and unfortunately, we don't have very many resources on that side of the fire.



FERREIRA: We're trying to figure that out now and looking forward to our aircraft getting overhead with the air tankers and the helicopters to give us a hand. SANCHEZ: I'm looking at these pictures as are many people from all over the country and they are trying to figure out how many people could really be affected by this. I don't see even in the wide shots from the sky a lot of homes in the vicinity, are there?

FERREIRA: Well, you don't see the houses because of the trees. And the houses are underneath the trees, up along narrow driveways and just to the south of the fire maybe about three or four miles is the area called Bonny Dune which has quite a few homes tucked into the forested area.

SANCHEZ: Are we going to lose some of these homes do you think?

FERREIRA: Not if I have anything to do about it.

SANCHEZ: That's interesting. And these are rich folks, aren't they?

FERREIRA: Anybody in California is a rich folk. But not necessarily, a lot of these are older homes that have been here for years, maybe started out as summer cabins.

But throughout the night, we requested engine strike teams from all the local fire departments in the area, Marin, San Mateo counties, all the Bay Area. We've had them staged overnight and now we're beginning to deploy them as the fire takes on a new direction.

SANCHEZ: Well, you've got a good attitude about this. You know what you've got to do and I trust that you guys will be doing a good job with it.

My thanks for you Mr. Ferreira, for taking time to take us through this, we certainly appreciate it. We're going to be keeping an eye on this all morning long. For those of you waking up this morning in California and smelling a lot more smoke in the air as a result of this.

Take a look at this video now. It's from Taiwan. Rescuers rig up chairs on roads to bring victims of a typhoon to safety. It's about 1,000 people that have been found alive in an area around three remote villages, but hundreds more are missing and feared dead.

The typhoon dumped as much as 80 inches of rain on the island. This is the way they're getting them out. That's actually a chair that they've tied to ropes. It keeps raining, though, which is making it harder to get some of those victims out.

Let's check in with Rob and see what he can tell us about this, as well. Rob, what have you got?

ROB MARCIANO, METEOROLOGIST: Well Rick, that particularly typhoon had a long moisture plume that lasted for days, that's way gone. And now they've got another push of moisture coming in not even associated with that typhoon.

So the hits just keep on coming for them and unfortunately, it doesn't look as good as it did a few days ago.

All right, I'll tell you what does look a little bit better today than it did a few days ago. Its tropical depression number two, which is out here in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean, the wind is about of 30 miles an hour.

So the National Hurricane Center has -- not downgraded but dropped the winds on this thing. And now they're saying we're not even sure this is going to become a tropical storm. It's heading into warm waters, yes, but it's got some sheer that's kind of tearing it and fighting it with it a little bit.

So official forecast does bring it to tropical storm strength and brings it closer to the Leeward (ph) Islands and eventually maybe closer to the Bahamas, but that is days if not over a week away before it even gets to the U.S.; so no need to worry about that at the moment.

A little bit more on those fires, you mentioned that last night they had more of a north wind, they picked up, I had some measurements in some of the (INAUDIBLE) stations that clock anywhere from 15 to 25 gust that doesn't help. Today they're hoping for more of an onshore, but it's not that typical good onshore push where they get the fog, even in some cases in those redwoods some drizzle, I don't see that strong of a marine push coming for quite some time.

All right, you got quite a bit of rain across parts of the northeast and you're getting more today with instability and a flood to watch out for a good chunk of -- actually all of New Jersey, including parts of eastern Pennsylvania and parts of the lower Hudson Valley today.

So on and off showers, some of which could be heavy. Boy yesterday in Virginia, we had some torrential downpours, upwards of five and six inches of rainfall in a short amount of time there for some flooding.

67 degrees in San Francisco, 77 rain cool degrees in New York today; it will be 88 degrees in Tampa and 88 as well in Atlanta, Georgia.

That's the latest from here, Rick. Let's send it back over to you.

SANCHEZ: Hey Rob, thanks a lot.

Look at the smart aleck we just got here on "Joe the Mailman" just wrote to us after watching the series we did moments ago with Candy Crowley and with Sanjay Gupta. Here it is right here.

It says "Rick Sanchez, read the bill, it does have wording referring to pulling the plug on grandma. Wake up, Rick." Smart Aleck.

All right, he is a best-selling author, one of America's best dressed men and probably the best known basketball coach in the country.

But should University of Louisville's Rick Pitino get a pass on what is being described as a salacious scandal that he's now involved in? His shocking admission to police has many wondering about his immediate future.

This married father of five said he had sex with a woman at a restaurant six years ago.

Here's where it gets ugly and strange. She apparently got pregnant and then he paid $3,000 for sure not what. Now she's facing -- she is facing trial for allegedly trying to extort $10 million from him. She has pleaded not guilty.

University officials say they were surprised to hear the story but haven't made any decisions on what to do next.

Questions, why is she taking the heat more than him? And why is he unlike other sports figures and athletes like Michael Vick not losing his job? This seemed to be -- these I should say, seem to be some of the questions that are being asked around the country this morning.

So we want to know what you think about this Rick Pitino story. Should Rick Pitino be allowed to keep coaching and mentoring young men? Or was this just a mistake by a respected member of the community? What should happen?

Go to Yes, I know, I'm not Heidi. But anyway, we do want to know what you think. You could also go to Either way, we will be sharing your responses.

Back to those town halls: we keep hearing about these single- payer plans, what is single-payer? Our Josh Levs is out there checking it out. Single-payer means single-payer, and the one single payer is the government. Right Josh?

JOSH LEVS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: That would be the expectation. Rick, I've got to check out the people who are tweeting you. These people are crazy. I'm going to check that out during the break.

I have not said I was a single-payer supporter. That is what President Obama told a town hall the other day and now that claim is facing the truth-o-meter five minutes from now, Rick.

SANCHEZ: Well, foreclosure isn't -- by the way, josh, I was have a conversation -- did you ask me a question?

LEVS: No, I just said I'm going to check out your Twitter page during the break, it sounds like your twitterers are a little bit...

SANCHEZ: They're having fun this morning. They're having fun. They're beings persnickety.

LEVS: Persnickety? SANCHEZ: Like you.

LEVS: Oh, man. I'm never persnickety.

SANCHEZ: Thanks Josh. We'll get back to you in just a little bit.

Foreclosure isn't always the end, sometimes it's just the beginning of problems for homeowners. Now some banks don't want to deal with taking the home back. Too much trouble they say, leaving homeowners then holding the bag -- a bag of unpaid bills, that is.

Also, you know, it's never too late to start exercising. In fact, it's critical to keep your bones and muscles from wearing away.

Here's our chief medical correspondent once again, Dr. Sanjay Gupta.


SANJAY GUPTA, CNN CHIEF MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: It's 5:00 in the morning, and Margie Oreck (ph) is already exercising. An avid rower who's now in her 50s, Margie says her passion for exercise has made a difference as she's gotten older.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: And I can lift easily things that I couldn't lift. And my body feels better. It gives me a lot of energy afterwards.

GUPTA: when it comes to exercise and aging, there is a catch-22. Exercise is crucial to keeping your bones and muscles healthy, however, too much impact can hurt you. So as you get older, it's a matter of finding that happy medium.

According to the American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons, as we age, our bones change. Around the age of 30, bones begin to lose minerals like calcium making them more fragile.

As we get into our 40s, we begin to lose actual bone tissue, but exercise can help regenerate bone tissue and minerals, slowing the onslaught of osteoporosis and arthritis.

DR. DAVID JOHNSON, WASHINGTON HOSPITAL CENTER: It's important in those that have arthritis and those who are trying to prevent arthritis to cross train, to get involved in a number of other sports so that if your knees are starting to hurt or you sprain your ankle, then you can cross train.

GUPTA: Also our muscles begin to shrink and the number of muscle fibers decreases. Make sure to keep them limber.

JOHNSON: So it's important even more so in the 30s and 40s and 50s and beyond to do stretching before you exercise and stretching after you exercise to prevent injuries.

GUPTA: Orthopedists say it's never too late to start exercising. Studies have shown that people even 50 or older who have never been active can improve their bones and muscles by taking on moderate exercise like walking, lightweight lifting, even rowing, just ask Margie.

For "30, 40, 50," I'm Dr. Sanjay Gupta.


SANCHEZ: Welcome back, I'm Rick Sanchez. Josh, you there?

LEVS: Right here. What's going on?

SANCHEZ: The guy who I just called persnickety, he just sent me a tweet, he says I'm persnickety. "I'm not persnickety. I'm blunt," he says.

LEVS: Maybe it's a little bit -- it's not so bad. You can be a little bit persnickety. I checked on it again.

SANCHEZ: The Pitino story, by the way -- you've been following the Pitino story?

LEVS: Enough to know the basics, yes.

SANCHEZ: We've got comments on both sides.

One person says, "What lesson is he teaching his players?"

The other says, "It's personal. He didn't break a law. We've got to leave personal lives of celebrities alone."

So there you go. We've got two opinions on this thing.

Here's what I need from you. Everybody -- people that watch CNN most of the day and keep hearing terms like single-payer. What's single-payer health care plan? You and I know it's the government's going to be the single-payer. People want to know if you could possibly drill down on that for us.

LEVS: Yes, absolutely. And the reason is that President Obama brought this up again the other day. That's before the truth-o-meter.

Let's do this, let's start off with the latest comment that he made that I'm going to give you an explanation of it.

First this is what he said on Tuesday.


BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I have not said that I was a single-payer supporter because frankly, we historically have had an employer-based system in this country with private insurers and for us to transition to a system like that, I believe would be too disruptive.

(END VIDEO CLIP) LEVS: Key words in the town hall there. He said, "I have not said that I'm a single-payer supporter."

Let's look at what Rick was talking about; what a single-payer system would be. Take a look here. Basically, a single-payer plan relies on one payer to fund health care costs.

Technically you can have a single-payer plan that is not the government, but the kind that everyone is talking about is the kind in which the government will be that single-payer.

You go to the doctor, you go to a hospital, the government ultimately funnels those costs as a rule. That's what people are talking about when they hear that you pay through taxes and through the public system.

Now, this is what President Obama's been asked about; this single-payer idea. And he said there he's not said he supports it, but actually, let's go back a little bit.

This is what he said in 2003 when he was a state senator in Illinois.


OBAMA: I happen to be a proponent of single-payer universal health care. But as all of you know, we may not get there immediately because first we've got to take back the White House, and we've got to take back the Senate.


LEVS: All right, rough video, but back then he did describe himself as supporting that idea. And then even recently; even in 2008, this is what he was saying. Take a look.


OBAMA: If I were designing a system from scratch, then I'd probably set up a single-payer system. But the problem is, we're not starting from scratch.


LEVS: So you can see his position right now, he's not pushing this for the government. It's important to understand that as president he's not saying he wants a single-payer system. He specifically said he's not putting that forward and does not want to have it happen.

That said, he has been a supporter of that idea. He has fought for it before. That's why the truth-o-meter -- let's zoom in here at -- one great place we check all the time -- are ruling this particular claim from President Obama false. They say, "Oh, yes he did if you're going to look at the past." And we encourage you to check out more of these. At all times, including right here, our very own CNN Truth Squad which you can start to see again at because Rick I'm happy to say the squad did such great work and busy work during the election, we're back up and running for all this health care debating.

SANCHEZ: I'm aging myself for giving it away. But I remember the Mod Squad and that's what I think of when I think of the Truth Squad.

By the way, single-payer, Canada has single-payer, right? They love it, they seem to think it works for them. Demographically, though, the United States is not Canada. And I'm not sure it's a good analogy.

LEVS: No one in any prominence in the government thinks that it would actually happen here. And you are certainly hearing various governments around the world that have similar systems with their debates in those countries including Canada, but sure there's a lot of support for it among Canadians, some of who have always liked it.

SANCHEZ: Right. Because it's a good fit for them doesn't mean it's a good fit for the United States. Although many people say that's what we need. It's part of the argument.

Thanks Josh, appreciate it.

Health care is about more than just medicine and forms and insurance; it's a whole approach to life for many people. Meeting obstacles and trying to overcome them.

Photo journalist Bethany Swang (ph) is going to introduce us to a woman who inspires when it comes to -- this is a different way of looking at health care. She does it through example.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Hang on, I'm trying to be an interpreter, too. The idea behind Open Circle Theater is that we showcase professional artists with disabilities....

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Do you understand what I'm saying?

This idea that we had played around with turned out really needed to be there in the community.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: What I'd like to do first is a vocal warm up.

My name is Susie Rashard (ph).

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: All of the actors tend to learn a lot about helping each other out. I am an actress, director and artistic director of Open Circle Theater.

I was born with osteo-genesis imperfecta (ph) which is also known as brittle bones disease.

It's way too tight, look at how tight it is for the wheelchairs to come in that way.

About 20,000 to 40,000 people in the country have it. Kind of like osteoporosis for your whole life, but a lot more complicated.

Fourth of four children; I was pretty much expected to do what everyone else does. Although, according to my brother, not as many chores as everyone else.

I had to have rods put in my leg bones to just sort of act as an infrastructure under the bone because the bone wasn't very good.

Having a family that was deal with it helped a lot. Having really great medical care helped a lot. I'm retired on disability because I'm too sick to work. Now I'm back on Medicare through social security. Like everyone has, I still have a limit on how much I can make.

So, I don't own any property because I'm not allowed to. My car is also my parent's car.

Let's get in places.

If I start doing well I get nervous because am I going to lose my benefits. I sincerely believe that people with disabilities, if you want them to be at all a useful part of the society, you need to have medical care that you don't have to worry about having.

Clearly if you want people, in general, to be a useful part of society, they need to have medical care. You never know what's going to come up with my body, but you never know what's going to come up of your body.

I think definitely that theater is the thing that has kept me sane, so to speak, and that has helped a lot. And just being able to express myself and help other people express themselves is really important.


SANCHEZ: That's great stuff. For more stories of inspiration and struggle, just go to our Web site. That's where we can help you with this;


SANCHEZ: Welcome back to the CNN NEWSROOM. I'm Rick Sanchez.

We have a lot going on and that's why we have people spread out all over the country. We're going to start with Ali Velshi. Ali, what have you got for us?

ALI VELSHI, CNN CHIEF BUSINESS CORRESPONDENT: I'm at the Missouri State Fair, Iowa -- Missouri State Fair in Missouri. We're very close. We're going to the Des Moines, Iowa State Fair tomorrow.

I've been told I can't wear this hat too much on TV. But you know, since you get more in trouble than I do on TV, I figured I'd take a risk with you.

We just got here. It's about to open. We're talking to people about health care, about the economy and it's dollar-day here which means I can get corn dogs for a dollar. As you can see, Rick, my day is pretty much set up.

POPPY HARLOW, CNNMONEY.COM: Ali, has a great life. He gets to wear that hat and he's got those corn dogs. All I've got for you is something that will help you out if you're one of the more than 550,000 Americans that had to line up for those first time unemployment benefits last week.

It gets very complicated, Rick, we're going to break it down for you. Everything you need to know at the top of the hour.

ELIZABETH COHEN, CNN SENIOR MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: I'm Elizabeth Cohen in Atlanta. It's that time of the year again when parent bring their kids to the pediatrician for a before-school check up.

Well this year, some parents are just saying no to a vaccine that the government recommends. At the top of the hour, I'll tell you which one.

SANCHEZ: Thanks guys. That's what we call the whip. I like that. We'll see you shortly.

Also, turning people away from free health care clinics. What's going on? We're going to ask the woman in charge of one clinic that's faced with that decision every single day -- her story.