Return to Transcripts main page


Historic Period for Afghanistan; Twin Blasts hit Pakistan College; Apple of their Eye; Texts before Murder-Suicide; Iran's Nuclear Future; Hospitals Take Precautions to Limit H1N1 Flu; Relaxed Medical Marijuana Policy; Energy Star Misuse; Actress's Real-Life Role

Aired October 20, 2009 - 09:00   ET


HEIDI COLLINS, CNN ANCHOR: Text before death. Police release the final messages between a former NFL star and his girlfriend before a murder-suicide.

Great deals if you're buying a home. Tough market, though, if you're selling. New real estate forecasts just out.

Plus plans for a pandemic. How one state would ration hospital health care.

Good morning, everybody. I'm Heidi Collins. It is October 20th, and you are in the CNN NEWSROOM.

This morning, legitimacy and security concerns. We are following two different events of the U.S. allies on the war on terror.

First off, our Chris Lawrence is in Afghanistan. You see him there where its president has just decided what to do about Afghan election fraud. We'll get you that story.

Also CNN's Reza Sayah is actually covering two battlefields in Pakistan. The army's assault on Taliban-held territory in the northwest and also the ongoing attacks in the cities including today's targeting of a college.

We begin this morning with Afghanistan and word within the past hour there's going to be a runoff election. President Hamid Karzai stood beside Senator John Kerry this morning to say he accepted the decision by the election commission. He said his country needs to move forward.

So what does that mean? CNN Pentagon correspondent Chris Lawrence is in Kabul, Afghanistan this morning now for more on this story.

Chris, tell us about this decision now by President Karzai and by the election commission.

CHRIS LAWRENCE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, Heidi. We got the breaking news just a little over an hour ago when a spokesman for that Independent Election Commission told us that they had moved the election to a second round and they were tentatively setting a runoff for Saturday, November 7th. Again, and just following that, Hamid Karzai came out. He gave a speech and he spoke in Pashtun. He spoke in his native language, the language of southern Afghanistan, where he has a tremendous amount of support. His strongest base down there.

And really, what we heard at times was a defiant President Karzai, when he talked about the million votes that had been thrown out for being allegedly fraudulent. He raised the question of there being an investigation into why these voters were disrespected.

And then at the same time, he turned the corner and he said, but now is not the time for that. Now is the time for national unity. He mentioned his primary challenger, Abdullah Abdullah by name, saying that he also won votes in various parts of the country.

And Hamid Karzai confirmed that he will accept the runoff election that is now scheduled to take place in less than three weeks -- Heidi.

COLLINS: Chris, there has been a lot of discussion about how all of this would affect U.S. troops there in Afghanistan about what exactly could be the fallout. Whether the government is deemed legitimate or not. What are you hearing on the ground?

LAWRENCE: Well, there will be -- there will definitely have to be a change, a temporary change at least in missions. You know, U.S. and NATO troops that are involved in certain missions will have to be, you know, re-missioned temporarily to provide security.

President Karzai, during this press conference, called on the United Nations and the coalition to say we hope that you honor your pledges that you made during the first election to provide security for the Afghan people as they go to the polls.

So soldiers, troops will have to be repositioned, but long-term and big picture, it does call into question whether there is a viable Afghan government that the Afghan people can look to and the U.S. can then partner with to implement its strategy there in Afghanistan. Heidi?

COLLINS: All right. Understood. Chris Lawrence reporting from Kabul, Afghanistan this morning. Thank you, Chris.

In Pakistan, back-to-back suicide bombings have rocked a college campus in the capital city. It happened at an Islamic university that draws students from around the world.

Want to get the very latest on this developing story as well. CNN's Reza Sayah is joining us now from Islamabad.

Reza, what do we know about what happened?

REZA SAYAH, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, Heidi. It keeps getting worse here in Pakistan. Militants have struck again. This time, their target was university students. Police telling CNN two suicide bombers blew themselves up inside the International Islamic University here in the federal capital.

The blasts coming back to back, first inside the cafeteria on the women's campus. Seconds later, you had another suicide attacker blow himself up on the men's campus. And the aftermath, just awful. Four people killed, 13 injured.

Right after the explosions, you had several of the injured with blood-soaked clothes being rushed to the hospital. In one of the rooms where the blast took place, the walls were riddled with holes and pockmarks from the steel ball bearings that were packed inside the suicide vests.

These attacks coming on day four of the military offensive, targeting the Taliban in south Waziristan. The government had warned the Taliban would launch suicide attacks in major cities. The interior minister saying this was one of them today, Heidi.

COLLINS: Update us, too, if you would, Reza, on the latest on the Pakistan offensive.

SAYAH: Well, the Pakistani army said this was not going to be a cakewalk, targeting the Taliban in south Waziristan and plenty of evidence today that that is the case. The military saying they're facing stiff resistance from Taliban fighters in south Waziristan that are actually engaging soldiers in head-on fighting with heavy weaponry.

They say they're using rocket launchers, heavy anti-aircraft guns. The army is saying they killed more than 20 militants today, but lost four of their own soldiers. It's going to be a tough battle and you saw much of that today. Heidi?

COLLINS: Yes, absolutely. And the cycle of violence that we've been talking about for several days now as well. Does the Pakistani government have any plans to try and stop this?

SAYAH: Well, with so far, they haven't been able to. And what we're seeing is a government that simply cannot stop this violent jihad against security forces. And this is the same problem you see in Afghanistan. No matter how many military offensives you launch, they hit back with these suicide attacks, and these are militants who have been instilled with this notion of jihad.

They welcome death. They believe dying is their ticket to a reward in the afterlife. The only way to stop that, analysts say, is to extract these ideology that's been instilled in their minds and you do that and these mosques, at these madrasas, that they are preached. And so far many say that that's not happening on a wide scale here in Pakistan. Heidi?

COLLINS: All right, Reza Sayah for us this morning, live from Islamabad. Reza, thank you.

And next hour President Obama is due to meet with Iraq's prime minister. Nuri al-Maliki faces big question about a parliamentary election that could be in jeopardy. He has said any delays to the January vote would create a, quote, "wave of chaos." But critical details have not yet been sorted out.

The White House believes a stable democracy is essential to next summer's planned withdrawal of U.S. combat troops.

In Washington, a former government scientist is due in court today on espionage charges. Stewart David Nozette worked on the cutting edge of moon exploration. The FBI says he tried to sell classified secrets to an agent posing as an Israeli intelligence official.

Nozette is credited with helping to discover evidence of water on the moon. While with the energy department, he had security clearance for atomic or nuclear related materials.

To Wall Street now, investors gobbling up shares of Apple. That's because the computer maker issued an earnings report that trounced all forecasts.

Want to get straight to the very latest now with Christine Romans, part of the CNN money team.

Wow. Bet their pretty excited over there at Apple. Huh?

CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN BUSINESS CORRESPONDENT: Yes, and quite frankly, if you're a shareholder in Apple, you've been pretty excited for the last year or so because it's been a pretty stellar return on your investment.

And here's why, the Apple Computer and iPhone and iPod maker sold more computers and iPhones in the most recent period than they ever have before, in any other quarter. It was a phenomenal quarter for this company. Its iPod sales actually down 8 percent, but hey, that was still 10 million iPods, three million computers, 7.4 million iPhones.

Seriously, a lot of these products going out the doors. The "Financial Times" calling it a remarkable boom year for this company and a boom quarter. Profit up 47 percent for Apple Computer and a lot of people saying that the outlook still looks pretty good.

Looking into next year, the Apple CEO says they have some really great new products in the pipeline for 2010, which already has tongues wagging about what that could be and how they could try to repeat what has been a pretty good year. What's next and can they keep it going, of course, is the big challenge.

But the stock is expected to be up again today. The Nasdaq is expected to be higher. Apple Computer shares trade there on the Nasdaq. It closed yesterday at $189 a share and many people are expecting it to gain again today, Heidi.

COLLINS: Yes. So, obviously, Apple sounding pretty upbeat about coming holiday sales, I imagine, but did they seem to be the exception here?

ROMANS: Well, here's the thing about Apple that I think illustrates this new consumer. We keep talking about the new consumer, Heidi, and how they've been chastened and hurt by the lack of credit that they can get after this recession, right? But Apple was able to find its niche audience and consistently deliver what its customers want.

But the National Retail Federation says, overall, its most recent survey, that holiday shoppers expect to spend 3 percent less overall. So this is the new normal. Right? If somebody delivers on a product that people really want and delivers on it well, they're going to be OK.

But broadly speaking, more broadly speaking, consumers are more picky and looking for something that's going to give them something in return, not just this indiscriminate buying consumer activity we've seen over the past few years. So it's going to be an interesting and probably tricky holiday season.

COLLINS: Yes, very tricky. All right, Christine Romans, thank you.


COLLINS: Just-released text messages from a married former NFL star and his girlfriend. We'll tell you what they said before she killed him and then herself.

JACQUI JERAS, AMS METEOROLOGIST: And I'm CNN meteorologist Jacqui Jeras. Burr is the word all across the east today, but temperatures recovering very nicely. We'll have the latest on that and what's going on in the tropics coming up with your forecast.


COLLINS: We are learning about the final text messages between former NFL star Steve McNair and his girlfriend in the hours before she killed him and then herself. Reporter Ben Hall of CNN affiliate WTVF has details on a just-released Nashville Police case summary.


BEN HALL, WTVF-TV CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Metro Police have released a summary of its investigation. It says Kazemi was responsible for the murder/suicide and includes text messages between Kazemi and McNair in the hours before the murder.

In fact, the day before the murder, at 2:00 a.m. on July 3rd, she texts, "You love me"? One minute later, McNair texts, "I love you, baby." Then Kazemi writes, I'm going to have all of you soon." And McNair writes back, "Yes, you will."

Then at 10:05 a.m. she texts, "I might have a breakdown. I'm so stressed." She later asks McNair to transfer money into her account to pay bills and he says he will. Then she texts, "I have to be with you tonight. I don't care where." McNair repeatedly says he's with his family. But at 10:45 p.m., Kazemi says she is going to McNair's condo. At 12:38 a.m., McNair texts, "On my way." Police believed the murder happened just two hours later.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Somebody's been shot. I haven't checked the vitals.

HALL: The other interesting thing in the report is that when McNair's friend, Wayne Neely, first found their bodies on July 4th, he did not first call police. He instead called Judge Casey Moorland. That's apparently why it took 44 minutes for 911 to be called. The report says the judge told Neely to immediately call 911.


COLLINS: The police report also includes information about another woman McNair was dating, a woman Kazemi followed from McNair's condo, suspicious he was seeing someone else.

Jacqui Jeras with us now today in the Severe Weather Center. For some people, it feels like fall. We've got these cold mornings and then warming up in the afternoon.

JERAS: I know.

COLLINS: I love it, but I know that's...

JERAS: You do?

COLLINS: ... not the case for everybody.

JERAS: It's not, but I'm with you. I love it. The cool, the crisp, and you know the air is so dry, Heidi. So it heats up real quickly, so you can get a much greater range in temperatures. Starting out cold and end in the day, you know, with 70-degree temperatures. So we'll show you some of the cool stuff to start you out with.


COLLINS: I don't know if it's the colder temperatures or what, but I definitely detect a Minnesota accent today.

JERAS: You know what?


COLLINS: You just started out west.

JERAS: My girlfriend from Minnesota has been here visiting all weekend...


JERAS: I'm going to say that's why. It just comes right back.

COLLINS: It brings it all back. Yes. Yes. All right, Jacqui, we'll check back later. Thank you.

Nuclear talks under way. The U.S. sitting face to face with Iran, but another country's influence could end any chance of an agreement.


COLLINS: Top stories now. You may not know his name, but you know his music. Vic Mizzy joked that "two snaps got me a mansion in Bel-Air." But the songwriter had many more credits in the "Addams Family." He also penned the theme song to "Green Acres" and other TV shows and composed the music for the Don Knotts movies, "The Ghost and Mr. Chicken," and "The Shakiest Gun in the West."

Mizzy also wrote songs recorded by Dean Martin, Doris Day and Perry Cuomo. Vic Mizzy died Sunday at the age of 93.

The University of Connecticut football team returns to practice today following the death of one of its players. Twenty-year-old Jasper Howard was stabbed to death on campus early Sunday. Now an attorney says he believes a client will be arrested in the case, but he says that man was not involved in the stabbing.

Friends and teammates took part in a vigil at the university last night. The team will wear a sticker with Howard's initials on their helmets for the rest of the season.

In Pakistan, at least four people are dead, 18 wounded after a pair of explosions on a college campus. Police say two suicide bombers targeted both the men's and women's section of International Islamic University in Islamabad. The attack comes after two weeks of increasing militant violence.

We have new numbers this morning on what you think about Iran. The first question in our CNN Opinion Research Corporation Poll is whether you think Iran is trying to develop nuclear weapons. 88 percent of you say yes, 11 percent, no.

We also asked if you favor direct negotiations with Iran. Again, a large majority, 78 percent say yes, 22 percent say no.

American representatives are actually in the middle of negotiations with Iran right now. They're discussing Iran's nuclear research and how to power a reactor. The world's nuclear watchdog agency is leading the discussions in Vienna, Austria.

CNN's Matthew Chance is now joining us now live from there.

Matthew, good morning to you. Talks seem to hit a snag this morning. Where are we at now by way of progression?

MATTHEW CHANCE, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, well, they seemed to have hit a snag all along. There's been all sorts of various problems that have arisen, Heidi, about how to actually close on this deal, which was agreed in principle earlier this month. Big talks in Geneva. It's basically going to involve the Iranians getting rid of all their enriched uranium. They spent years manufacturing, exporting it to a third country, having it turned into nuclear fuel in this third country and then being brought back as harmless, nuclear fuel rods.

It sounds pretty simple, but the technical details that had to achieve that very difficult and what their negotiating here at the U.N.'s nuclear watchdog agency in Vienna is how specifically to make it happen and there are all sorts of problems standing in the way of a final agreement.

But there's still some hope it will be an agreement in the end, Heidi.

COLLINS: So, Matthew, why is this deal so important, then?

CHANCE: It's a crucial agreement, because it comes amid this new, important diplomatic initiative that's been backed so strongly by President Obama. It would essentially mean, from the western point of view, from the U.S. point of view, which is deeply concerned that Iran may at any moment divert this enriched uranium that it's manufactured over the past several years to a military purpose and create a nuclear bomb.

It essentially takes all that material -- takes it out of the country, converts it into this harmless nuclear fuel. So it sets back any nuclear weapons ambitions the Iranians may have by many months, perhaps many years, until they can enrich that uranium again.

And so what the United States, officials that we've spoken to are saying that this would be a huge confidence building measure if the Iranians could do this. Remember, on the 25th of Sunday, coming up in October, there's going to be U.N. inspections of the newly revealed Iranian nuclear site to enrich uranium.

There's also going to be more meetings at the end of October for the five (INAUDIBLE) member of the Security Council. So this is coming at a crucial moment in the diplomatic push.

COLLINS: All right. We will continue to follow it very closely, as that date draws nearer. Matthew Chance, thanks so much.

There is news this morning about the three American hikers being held in Iran. Iran's foreign minister says they still face questioning. He says local judicial officials are handling the case.

The three Americans crossed the border from northern Iraq in late July. Relatives say the hikers accidentally crossed into Iran. Iran's foreign minister didn't say how long he thought the investigation would take.

Working on a pandemic plan. A proposal in Florida could put some critically ill patients out on the street.


COLLINS: The Dow hit another one-year high yesterday. Will the gains continue today? Well, it all depends on corporate earnings, yet again, as a slew of big named companies tell us how they're doing.

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

Hey there, Stephanie, we know at least how a couple of companies are doing, right?

STEPHANIE ELAM, CNN BUSINESS CORRESPONDENT: Yes, we do. We have some good news already from some. Some not doing as well as others, but this week is going to be really crunch time for earnings season.

So far it looks like investors are pleased. DuPont and United Health Group reported higher third quarter profits. The problem is, it was mainly due to cost cuttings, not real sales growth. But there are signs of hope out there. DuPont sees improvement in its industrial business and heavy equipment maker Caterpillar says it expects local demand to rebound. Caterpillar raised its profit outlook for the year.

Now also restoring confidence today, earnings from Apple and Texas Instruments. Beating expectations, Apple reported record iPhone and Mac sales. That sends shares soaring to an all-time high of $204.

Now, people may have money for new gadgets, but a new study says shoppers will cut back on the gifts this holiday season. The National Retail Federation says shoppers will spend an average of $682, believe it or not. That's actually down 3 percent from last year. Of course, the drop in spending will have serious implications for retailers.

And finally, another troubling housing report. New home construction rose by half a percent last month. That's in the right direction, of course, but it was weaker than expected.

And here's the other issue. Building permits. They fell by the biggest amount in five months. Building permits give us clues about what to expect down the road. So this is worrisome, because it looks like building won't be too strong in the future based on these numbers. That's why we care about that.

So that report, kind of controlling the markets here and the glee that we saw yesterday, Heidi. In fact, we opened to the upside, but now we're on the downside. Dow off five points, 10086. NASDAQ up three points to 2179. We will keep our eyes on it throughout the day.

Back to you.

COLLINS: Yes, we will.

All right, Stephanie Elam, we'll check back later on. Thank you.

ELAM: Sure. COLLINS: Widespread outbreaks of the H1N1 flu reported in 41 states. Well, no wonder hospitals are taking some extra precautions. In fact, some are discouraging children from visiting patients. Others are simply turning kids away and putting more restrictions on adult visitors. Well, things could change once there's enough vaccine to go around. Health officials say that should be in a couple of weeks.

Florida health officials are drafting a plan for a possibly overwhelming flu pandemic. It includes rationing health care. Here's some of the details for you now.

Terminally ill patients would be ignored in favor of patients with a better prognosis. That also goes for patients on ventilators. In the most severe scenarios, hospitals would refuse care to anyone with a DNR or a "Do Not Resuscitate" order.

Joining me more to talk about more of these issues is Kenneth Goodman. He's the director of the University of Miami's bioethics programs.

Thanks for being with us, Kenneth.

First off, it feels like we should maybe define what exactly we're talking about here when we see words like "severe flu pandemic." Tell us what that would look like.

KENNETH GOODMAN, DIRECTOR, UNIVERSITY OF MIAMI: Well, in the worst case, what people are concerned about is that in principle, we could have a pandemic that approached that of the 1918 influenza pandemic. Which depending on the account killed anywhere from 5 percent to 15 percent of the people on earth. The people were dying so fast. It was impossible to take care of -- to manage the bodies.

I don't think anyone's seriously worrying about that now, but it would be irresponsible to not have plans in place so that people of goodwill would be able to marshal their resources in the most effective way.

So in Florida, in Atlanta, in Washington, in many states in fact around the country, health officials are trying to get their heads and their hands around what would happen if there were an overwhelming health emergency. We have some precedence. Florida is used to emergencies that look like hurricanes.


GOODMAN: So is Louisiana for that matter. But a surge of thousands of people, individual communities, if there were a serious pandemic, could overwhelm hospitals.

COLLINS: OK. Well, I want to be really, really clear here. Because, obviously, this is something that we would call, you know, contingency planning, if you will.

GOODMAN: That's right. COLLINS: And in that event, is it unusual for health officials to actually assess people's condition by way of priority, survivor ability? I mean, is that what usually happens? Is that ethical?

GOODMAN: Well, it would be irresponsible not to do so. I mean, to wing it, which is what some people thought we were faced with in New Orleans, is morally irresponsible. If someone's going to die anyway, according to the best available evidence, then under what obligation is a hospital or a clinic or a community required to give it the old college try anyway when that very attempt is likely to cost more lives. So the challenge is, how do you take the resources you have, which will, by definition, be inadequate in an emergency and use them in the most equitable way?

COLLINS: All right. So when this news was -- if you want to call it news, what was delivered to health officials, in Florida there, was anyone surprised or, again, is this how these types of incidents have to be talked about?

GOODMAN: Oh, I think that Florida, as I say, I think, around the country, people have been preparing -- well, since 9/11, we've actually been really quite concerned about what would happen if there were a health emergency that overwhelmed our resources. And I think most people came to the conclusion that it would be really quite irresponsible not to have in place evidence-based plans infused by community and ethics analysis that would make the most of these scarce resources.

In Florida, to their credit, though, the health department has actually asked a number of us to comment on their draft plan. And I said, I think people of goodwill in Atlanta and Washington are trying to do exactly the same thing.

COLLINS: Yes. Very quickly, is something like this should be released to the public?

GOODMAN: Oh, sure. I mean, I think, look, the beauties of democracy are in part its messiness. Ordinary people -- so it's rumored. I mean, suppose you were in a country that was contemplating health reform. Everybody's going to act rationally, right?

COLLINS: We're in that country, right?

GOODMAN: Here's hoping. The point, of course, is that any decision that's going to be made about allocating scarce resources in an emergency needs to make sure that a number of things are done. One is you don't want to perpetuate existing disparities. You want to make sure that you're not wasting resources.


GOODMAN: You want to make sure that you're not discriminating against any particular group.


GOODMAN: And those decisions are really quite thorny.

COLLINS: Yes, they are thorny, but you've got to have a plan. So we certainly appreciate your time.

Kenneth Goodman, thanks so much. University of Miami's bioethics program.

GOODMAN: Thank you.

COLLINS: Medical marijuana guidelines are relaxing at the federal level, but that doesn't mean local authorities are OK with just anyone poking up.

Our Casey Wian tells us, it may actually bring unwanted attention to some suppliers.


CASEY WIAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The Obama administration will no longer prosecute medical marijuana dispensaries nor their customers in the 14 states that have legalized pot for medicinal purposes as long as they are not violating state law.

According to a Justice Department memo sent Monday to federal prosecutors, the department is quote "committed to making efficient and rational use of its limited investigative and prosecutorial resources." But in Los Angeles, home to an estimated 800 medical marijuana facilities, local law enforcement is promising to step up prosecution of pot dispensaries because so many operate outside the law.

STEVE COOLEY, DISTRICT ATTORNEY, L.A. COUNTY: The vast, vast, vast majority, about 100 percent of dispensaries in Los Angeles County and the city are operating illegally. They're dealing marijuana illegally, according to our theory, so we are going to over time, we are going to eradicate the illegal sales of marijuana that are occurring in dispensaries.

WIAN: The Los Angeles district attorney says in a statement, "the attorney general's announcement recognizes that those dispensaries operating in violation of state law are subject to prosecution by the state and federal governments."

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: This one might be a little more on your head, but you'll still be functional.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Medical marijuana can save California, if you think about it.

WIAN: Many supporters of medical marijuana are advocating outright legalization, in part because they say it could be taxed and would help balance California's persistent budget deficit.

MARK KENT, MEDICAL MARIJUANA ADVOCATE: It's approximately a $4 billion industry. The crop is so significant that it could probably balance the state budget on its own. There are literally hundreds of millions of dollars of revenue possible.

WIAN: But others insist that with California's recent deficit running in the tens of billions of dollars, it's unlikely taxing marijuana sales would have much impact. Still, 56 percent of California voters responding to a field poll in April said they favored legalizing marijuana for recreational use as a way to reduce the state's budget deficit.

(on camera): The Justice Department says it will continue prosecution of what it calls significant marijuana traffickers. In part because marijuana distribution in the United States remains the single largest source of revenue for Mexican drug cartels.

Casey Wian, CNN, Los Angeles.


COLLINS: Afghanistan will have a runoff presidential election. Incumbent Hamid Karzai made the announcement last hour. He will face his main rival, former foreign minister Abdullah Abdullah on November 7th. This comes after U.N.-backed panel said it found clear evidence of fraud in the original election. Officials tossed out almost a third of Mr. Karzai's votes. That dropped him below the 50 percent he needed to win outright.

No bail for director Roman Polanski. A Swiss court says he's a high flight risk. Polanski fled the U.S. in 1978 to avoid prison time after pleading guilty to having sex with a 13-year-old girl. The Swiss arrested him when he left France to go to a film festival last month. The Oscar winner is fighting extradition to the United States.

HUD Secretary Shaun Donovan on Capitol Hill this hour. He's testifying at a Senate Committee hearing on the housing market. This one day after we got a heads up that home prices may drop again. A report from Pfizer predicts the median home price will drop more than 11 percent by next July.

And we are talking about falling home prices on our blog this morning. Home values are expected to drop in 342 out of 381 markets. Now, again, that's according to that Pfizer report.

So we wanted to know, how are home prices affecting you -- falling home prices, that is. Make sure you go to You'll see a bit of the story there, and then go ahead and tell us how this is affecting you. We'll share some of those posts a little bit later right here in the CNN NEWSROOM.

For now, though, a man's eyes leave the road and then so does his truck, right into a creek. Two witnesses have to act fast to get the driver out.


COLLINS: No time to wait for help after a pickup truck plunges into a creek in Kansas City. The driver told police he dropped a lighter and lost control. The truck flew off the road and landed there in the water. Two men jumped in to help save the driver's life. Police do expect him to be OK. They are still investigating.

Jacqui Jeras joining us now from the severe weather center.

Yes, another chilly day, at least where we are.

Good morning.


COLLINS: Do you have any appliances with the Energy Star label? Well, according to both the government and consumer reports, those stickers don't necessarily mean you're saving energy or money.

Mary Snow has what you need to know before buying a new appliance.


MARY SNOW, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The Energy Star label is intended to guarantee consumers a product is energy efficient. But at "Consumer Reports" Labs, Mark Connelly has found appliances like this freezer that should not have the Energy Star logo.

MARK CONNELLY, "CONSUMER REPORTS": In our labs, we found it used a lot more energy than it claimed.

SNOW (on camera): So can a manufacturer just put on an energy star sticker if it wants to?

CONNELLY: Well, they're supposed to have these products tested and they do, but they themselves test it.

SNOW: So if you had not run this test, people would buy this thinking, OK, I'm saving on energy and I'm saving money.

CONNELLY: Correct.

SNOW: But in reality?

CONNELLY: In reality it's using twice as much energy that it claims.

SNOW (voice-over): And an appliance like this claiming an energy bill of $60 a year could actually be double.

Of hundreds of products he tests every year, he estimates five percent to 10 percent should not be labeled Energy Star.

CONNELLY: For the most part, the products that we test that claim to be Energy Star are, in fact, telling the truth. But, again, there is enough products out there that give us some concern.

SNOW: Those concerns are shared by the Department of Energy's inspector general, who in an audit found "the department had not implemented planned improvements in the Energy Star program." The report concludes those delays "could reduce consumer confidence in the integrity of the Energy Star label."

We asked the Department of Energy's Cathy Zoi about the criticisms.

CATHY ZOI, DEPARTMENT OF ENERGY: The inspector general identified a number of improvements to the program and frankly we agree with those improvements. And we put a plan in place to get all of those improvements implemented.

SNOW: But as the Department of Energy works on those improvements, it's in the process of planning a rebate program for consumers buying Energy Star products; $300 million of stimulus money is being used. Can consumers be confident those products are as energy efficient as they claim to be?

ZOI: There have been examples that are very rare where a manufacturer has misused or misappropriated or misapplied the Energy Star logo. And when the Department of Energy or when the EPA have found out about that, they've taken steps, they've taken action, and those manufacturers have had to recompense people who have bought those appliances.

SNOW (on camera): We also asked the DOE's Cathy Zoi about independent testing. She says the department has started using a third party to test some products and wants to expand that.

Mary Snow, CNN, New York.


COLLINS: The news conference that became the news. It turns out the man behind the podium was not who he said he was and his news was all a hoax.


COLLINS: Pay no attention to the man at the microphone. He was telling the reporters yesterday the U.S. Chamber of Commerce had dropped its long standing opposition to climate change legislation. It turns out he's not with the chamber, the ruse was up when a real chamber official showed up.


ERIC WOHLSCHLEGEL, U.S. CHAMBER OF COMMERCE: If you have any questions, you're welcome to direct them to me at the U.S. Chamber of commerce.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Who are you really, sir?

WOHLSCHLEGEL: And do you have a business card? Are you with the U.S. Chamber?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I do. We can discuss afterwards.

WOHLSCHLEGEL: OK, can I see your business card? UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Can I see yours?

WOHLSCHLEGEL: Are you here representing the U.S. Chamber of Commerce?


WOHLSCHLEGEL: OK, I work there and you do not look familiar to me at all.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Can I see your business card?


COLLINS: It's believed the hoax was perpetrated by the Yes Men, an activist group known for posing as corporate executives.

An awful lot going on this morning. CNN crews are here to bring you all the details. Let's check in with our correspondents now beginning with Reza Sayah in Pakistan's capital. Reza, good morning.

REZA SAYAH, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Good morning Heidi, a double suicide attack here in Pakistan's federal capital but this time militants target a location in Islamabad they have never targeted before. We'll tell you what happened at the top of the hour.

STEPHANIE ELAM, CNN BUSINESS CORRESPONDENT: I'm Stephanie Elam at the New York Stock Exchange where the DOW is hovering near the one- year high hit yesterday as investors focus on corporate earnings. Those results show that despite the conscious mentality, everyone are seeing these days, millions of people have room in their budgets for few prize gadgets. Heidi, I'll tell what you they are next hour.

CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN BUSINESS CORRESPONDENT: I'm Christine Romans in New York. A new survey says watch out below for home prices more pain ahead into next year. But there are some parts of the country where home prices should stabilize. I'll tell you where that is. I'll have that in the next hour.

COLLINS: All right, very good we'll be watching. Thanks guys.

And you met her right here in the "NEWSROOM" before she took on her new duties. Next hour, we'll take a look at Sergeant Major Teresa King taking command of the army's drill sergeants.


COLLINS: Aimee Garcia starred on a popular sitcom but she is most proud of the real life role she plays as a Latina actress. Like the Cosby kids before her, she helped break down stereotypes for millions of TV viewers.

CNN's Soledad O'Brien has the story now in this preview of the CNN documentary "LATINO IN AMERICA."

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE) AIMEE GARCIA, ACTRESS: No one looked like me when I was younger. I mean, Punky Brewster kind of, I related to her because she had freckles.

SOLEDAD O'BRIEN, CNN SPECIAL CORRESPONDENT: Aimee Garcia is part of a new generation of actors changing the face of television.

GARCIA: Being a Latina is an asset instead of a handicap. I think everybody wants a Latina on their show. And we could play anything. So I think Hollywood is starting to catch up on that.

I can't believe that George wants me to play on his team. I haven't swung a golf club in 60 days.

O'BRIEN: To the Latina actress who's not afraid to break down barriers.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We welcome you to the National Kidney Foundation's Celebrity Golf Classic.

O'BRIEN: And take on new challenges like golf.

GARCIA: What you lack in skill you have to make up in style.

O'BRIEN: "Aimee G., spicy, Mexi-rican chick in town. Call if you want to see her." Who did you send that to?

GARCIA: I sent that to every casting director in town the day that I arrived. I guess "go big or go home" was my motto.

O'BRIEN: Aimee's plan paid off. The half-Mexican, half-Puerto Rican actress quickly found work in Hollywood and eventually landed a role on "The George Lopez Show."

Aimee's character, like the show, helped break down negative stereotypes.

GARCIA: I feel very lucky that I can play Veronica Palmera, a millionaire Latina with no accent.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: What is wrong with getting a nice Latina a job?

GARCIA: To me "The George Lopez Show" did what the "Cosby Show" did in that it was an all-American family who had the trials and tribulations and the laughs and the tears that every other family had. They just happened to be Hispanic.

GEORGE LOPEZ, ACTOR: Aimee Garcia doesn't quick and that says a lot about a person.

O'BRIEN: What kind of advice do you give her outside of golf, about Hollywood?

LOPEZ: There are a lot of bad parts out there. There will always be bad parts but you don't have to take them. O'BRIEN: Aimee's proud of her latest part as a helicopter pilot in NBC's new medical series "Trauma." She continues to challenge people's perception and expand the definition of what it means to be Latina.

GARCIA: I feel like I won the lottery. I get to be sarcastic; I get to be funny. I get to be strong and I love it. You rarely find a role for a woman like that much and less a Latina.

And yes, we're sexy. We got the sexy thing going on but we're also smart.

It's like sweeping.

LOPEZ: You're Latina; I had to make it so you could understand.


COLLINS: Join us tomorrow for CNN's "LATINO IN AMERICA: A COMPREHENSIVE LOOK AT HOW LATINOS ARE CHANGING AMERICA." CNN's two- evening event takes place Wednesday and Thursday at 9:00 p.m. Eastern. It will also be simulcast in Spanish on CNN en Espanol.

We want to give you a look at some of these live pictures coming in to CNN right now. Some sort of black smoke coming from an industrial plant; this is about 12 miles from Detroit, a steel plant, in fact.

It apparently began around: 9:00 a.m. this morning. No explosions, no word as to why this may be happening or if in fact there are people inside. Trying to get a hold of local authorities there to find out exactly what's happening. So we'll stay on top of that story for you.

Meanwhile, director Roman Polanski has lost his latest appeal to get out of jail. A Swiss court ruled he's a flight risk and denied bail. Polanski was arrested last month and faces extradition to the United States. Before he fled the U.S. in 1978, Polanski pleaded guilty to having sex with a 13-year-old girl.

The man accused of killing a Yale University student is due in a courtroom today. Police say Raymond Clark murdered Annie Le and hid her body in the wall of the laboratory building where they both worked. His attorney says Clark will plead not guilty.

It may be a year before a controversial justice of the peace could be removed in Louisiana. Keith Bardwell gained national attention when he refused to marry an interracial couple. Louisiana's governor called for his dismissal but it will take action by the state Supreme Court to remove him. An investigation could take as long as a year to complete.