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New Danger For Tornado Victims; Survivors Search For What's Left; Chardon Students Return To School; Space Station Codes On Stolen Laptop; Ohio Poll: Tie In Super Tuesday State; Prince Harry's First Solo Tour; AT&T Caps Unlimited Data Plan; Alabama Tornado Warnings; Olympia Snowe On Retiring; HIV Rate Among Addicts Drops

Aired March 2, 2012 - 10:00   ET


FREDRICKA WHITFIELD, CNN ANCHOR: All right. This morning, there's new reason to worry for the communities devastated by this week's deadly outbreak of tornadoes.

In a matter of hours, a line of storms will bring the threat of more tornadoes and severe weather. It's a horrifying thought for thousands of people already reeling from terrible losses. The death toll rises to 13. Damages are still being tallied.

Ashleigh Banfield is in Harrisburg, Illinois, the hardest hit town and meteorologist Rob Marciano is in the weather center. Let's begin with the dangerous weather pattern that's setting up right now, Rob.

ROB MARCIANO, AMS METEOROLOGIST: Hard to believe that just after two days of getting hit with so many tornadoes the atmosphere is recharged once again for a potentially deadly tornado outbreak. We're not really into the heart of the season just yet.

What we've got going right now from the Storm Prediction Center just in the last couple of hours, what has been upgraded from moderate to high risk, this pink area right here. That's where we see the highest probabilities of tornadoes breaking out.

Time frame sometime 2:00, 3:00, 4:00 in the afternoon until as late as 10:00, 11:00 at night. The amount of people that live in this area, it's pretty highly populated about 4 million or so people live in that area.

This area where you see yellow, mind you, we had this yellow, this slight risk area out for the day we had the tornado outbreak two days ago. So that's serious business, too.

Over 70 million people live in this area. So we're talking about tens of millions of people that are potentially affected by the oncoming storms tonight.

Strong long track tornadoes. Those are the deadliest kind. If there's any silver ling here, most of them will come during the day or at least in the early evening hours, 70 to 80 mile an hour winds with this particular storm.

Not one but two rounds of severe weather. We've already seen some this morning. We're seeing a wide batch of it at this hour as kind of the warm front rolls across some of the same areas that will get it again tonight.

St. Louis, you saw some serious hail earlier this morning. Louisville, also, same deal, these are off hail and wind producers. Down across Nashville, one of the other cities that's going to be under the gun this afternoon.

You're seeing a round of thunderstorms that really will pale potentially in comparison to what we'll see later on this afternoon and tonight because it's different from what we saw two days ago, Fred.

We've got a potent storm system that's going to intensify, significant winds coming from the west and northwest. Lower level winds coming from the Gulf of Mexico.

You get that twist, you get that moisture. The ingredients are there for tornadoes. Hopefully when these tornadoes hit, they don't hit populated towns.

WHITFIELD: Let's hope not. All right, scary stuff. Thanks so much, Rob. Appreciate it.

Well, this is the last thing that people in hard-hit Harrisburg, Illinois, want to hear. That's where we find our Ashleigh Banfield where people are already starting to clean up as best they can -- Ashleigh.

ASHLEIGH BANFIELD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: You know, kind of, but I got to be honest, Fred. They were cleaning up. There's a bit of a stop put to that because exactly what Rob was just reporting. I was listening so carefully to what he was saying because we're directly in the path.

About two hours east of St. Louis of that baseball-size hail that he was talking about. That storm system that's coming back for round two. For a place that really does not need it. Here's the reason.

While people were starting to do some salvage and clean up, look at the things they would have come to salvage. We're at a sports store. There are expensive Nike shoes everywhere. There are baseball uniforms and video games and all sorts of, you know, tantalizing items.

But let me show you the obstacles to getting at these kinds of things, Fredricka. At eye level, just about everywhere, are extraordinarily dangerous things. There are just nails and spikes everywhere you look.

When they're not at eye level, they're up high with giant pieces of debris that could fall and so it is just not safe. They called off a lot of the volunteers. Let me also note as I'm watching sirens go by, we have been told by the sheriff that at any moment the tornado sirens could go off.

They're asking us not to be concerned about it because they're testing them. They obviously want to make sure this community is so prepared for round two if it does happen. If they're not going to be the tornadoes -- we're not expecting EF-4.

So don't think for a minute the exact thing is going to play out that blended out this entire disaster, but there could be, like Rob mentioned, there could be tornadoes.

And if anything at the very least we're going to get 40 mile an hour winds, 40 mile an hour winds can do some pretty awful things with debris like this. That becomes a projectile and it becomes a weapon. And it becomes extraordinarily dangerous.

That's why all the volunteers have been told, stay home today. Don't come out yet. We're going to need a lot of help, obviously, when you look at this disaster, this mess. They're going to have to bulldoze most of this and start scooping it up.

I am only in one spot in this town where the majority of the 13 deaths that were reported during this storm were actually happened. This is a strip mall.

I'll tell you, despite the fact that there are some things that they'd want to recover, you just can't do it. It's just -- it's just such a dangerous spot. Recovery and cleanup just has to be on hold until they can actually get the threat of the severe weather.

And as we continue to listen for the tornadoes, I want to tell you something about a woman that we met yesterday. Janice Sozier, but for the grace of God got sucked out the top of her house and she is alive to talk about it. All be it bruised and cut up, but have a listen to what she said.


LYDIA LYON, TORNADO SURVIVOR: As I closed the door and was holding it, that door pushed back so fast. And I think that's what happened to my hand and my lip. I think the door hit me then all of a sudden, I was just absolutely out flying around.

BANFIELD: Sucked out through the roof?

LYON: The roof or the door. I don't know.

BANFIELD: And you ended up over here by the dishwasher?

LYON: Yes.


BANFIELD: So a 40-mile an hour winds expected at least today for round two. Baseball-sized hail. I'll tell you what, colleagues of mine just left for the St. Louis Airport and that said they were very concerned about that drive because they're driving right into that system -- Fredricka.

WHITFIELD: All right, Ashleigh Banfield, thanks so much from Harrisburg, Illinois. Keep us posted.

And you can help those affected by the tornadoes by going to There you'll find all the organizations and ways that you can help those in need. That's

All right, about two hours ago, students began arriving at Chardon High School for class. Four days after a teenager from another school opened fire there killing three.

Still grieving, some children were accompanied by their parents. On site counselors are ready to help in any way. Our Ted Rowlands is in Chardon for us. So Ted, how hard has it been this morning for the students and the teachers alike?

TED ROWLANDS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, as you can imagine, Fred, it's got to be very difficult especially when they're going near the cafeteria, the students and the faculty there because that is where the shooting took place.

That's where four young men were shot while they were sitting at a table in the cafeteria. What the school has done specifically with the cafeteria, they've painted it a different paint color. Then they've also put all the tables in a different order.

So it looks much different for the students. A lot of the students saw this yesterday when they came in with their parents. But all of the students, of course, will see it today.

While they're in school, the administration knows it's not a typical day. There are grief counselors on hand. They're trying to take it very slowly.

WHITFIELD: What about school security? Clearly, it's been stepped up. How is that impacting the structure of classes and really how the day is likely to unfold?

ROWLANDS: Yes. Well, you know, after it happened there was talk of bringing in metal detectors and a lot of different ideas. The bottom line was that security was stepped up because of the obvious issue of a possible copy cat and to make the kids feel better, feel secure.

So what they're doing is they're just having a police presence at the school. Not in a way to make kids fearful, but to try to make them feel more secure. That's their plan right now. They may change that as the days and weeks go on.

They say their plan is fluid and they just want to react to how the students are doing.

WHITFIELD: All right, Ted Rowlands, thanks so much from Chardon, Ohio.

All right, now, let's move to Florida where we're finding out some new disturbing details about a major hacking case at NASA. The space agency's inspector general admits a stolen NASA laptop contained unencrypted command and control codes for the international space station.

CNN's John Zarrella is following the story from Miami. So John, how did this happen?

JOHN ZARRELLA, CNN CORRESPONDENT: You know, Fredricka, it's not just one incident, but it's a whole series of incidents, thousands of breaches of security. In one form or fashion our investigations over the last couple of years.

According to the inspector general's office, now, you know, you would think besides the CIA, maybe NASA would have the most secure information systems in the world. But according to the inspector general's office, that's not the case.

In fact, they say that NASA lags far behind in protecting its data. The incident you referred to, according to the inspector general's office, is resulted in the loss of algorithms from a stolen computer notebook that could have been used to alter commands and control.

Now, NASA officials told me yesterday that, quote, "At no point were the operations of the space station in any jeopardy." Now, the inspector general's office also reported a couple of other incidents as well.

In one incident, hackers with IP addresses in China gained access to systems at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory, JPL, in California. The inspector general's office said, quote, "They had the ability to modify, delete or copy sensitive files."

So a lot of different things have been going on over the past couple of years. The inspector general has always been keeping a close eye on all of this.

But certainly some serious breaches of data security have occurred at an agency you would think would be at the very top of the list in keeps its data secure -- Fredricka.

WHITFIELD: And so I wonder how quickly, then, there might be changes imposed as a result?

ZARRELLA: Well, NASA told me that it is already -- yesterday as well telling me it is already in the process of implementing recommendations made by the inspector general's office and continuing to update everything that it does.

In fact, what the inspector general's office said was that NASA has been slow in -- let me read exactly what they say, in implementing encryption on notebook computers. That's one of the key things that the IG's office wants NASA to move ahead with -- Fredricka.

WHITFIELD: All right, John Zarrella, thanks so much from Miami.


WHITFIELD: All right, Ohio is a critical Super Tuesday state. The GOP candidates are battling for 66 delegates there. Yet the political coverage has not been on the front page in Ohio this week. We'll explain why next.

And Prince Harry is trotting the globe helping celebrate a milestone for his grandmother. Coming up, we'll have a live report from his first stop.


WHITFIELD: All right, checking stories cross country now. The Coast Guard has suspended an active search for the last crewman missing from a helicopter crash.

The Coast Guard chopper was on a training mission when it went down off the coast of Mobile, Alabama, Tuesday night. Three bodies have been recovered.

In Maryland, the governor there has signed a same-sex marriage bill into law. Maryland becomes the eighth U.S. state to allow same- sex marriages. Five other states allow civil unions with rights similar to marriage.

Celebrating the roots of the greatest. The Kentucky Historical Society is putting up a marker in front of the boyhood home of boxing legend Muhammad Ali. It's the first time the state has erected a marker for someone still living.

A new poll in the key Super Tuesday state of Ohio shows Rick Santorum has lost his lead, 35 percent of likely GOP primary voters back Santorum, 31 percent favor Romney.

But Santorum's four-point edge is within the survey's sampling error, meaning the race is basically tied. Tom Moore covers politics in Ohio. He's anchor with news radio WTAM in Cleveland. Good to see you, Tom.


WHITFIELD: A few things. We know that Super Tuesday is big in the race for the White House, Ohio a pivotal state. However, there have been few distractions for Ohio. Are voters will consumed with Super Tuesday or has this kind of been put on the back burner because of more pressing issues for people there?

MOORE: It really has been on the back burner especially here in Northeast Ohio in the last week because of the shootings at Chardon High School.

Matter of fact, it has been really the only story here this week, which is kind of a good thing in a way, I would think, for the politicians because, well, I shouldn't say good thing.

They haven't made any appearances in this part of the state this week. They've been elsewhere, Cincinnati and Columbus. But not here in the Cleveland area, but that's going to change starting tonight.

WHITFIELD: OK, so what's going to change this evening?

MOORE: Well, you're going to see an appearance by Rick Santorum. He's going to be speaking at a county Lincoln Day Dinner. Mitt Romney has a big rally planned tonight at Cleveland State University. And they're going to be blanketing the state this weekend.

WHITFIELD: OK. What do Ohio voters want to hear from these candidates? And do they feel like, whether it be by way of the ads or even with this evening's appearances that these candidates are going to address the needs of the voters?

MOORE: Are they going to address the needs of the voters? That's really hard to say at this point in time. I know everybody wants to have jobs. They want to bring the price of gasoline down. You want a good economy.

It's a matter of whether or not they're actually going to do that. Right now what you're hearing in the campaign appearances and especially in the -- in the commercials are the criticisms of one another.

Romney saying that he is the true Republican. Santorum saying he's the true Republican. It's not so much the issues as it seems to be more of a battle for ideology.

WHITFIELD: Might those criticisms turn out to be kind of, you know, fuel for backfiring for any of these candidates?

MOORE: It very well could be because you never know what's going to happen in the long run. The old saying, it could come back to bite you in the rear end at the end of time.

WHITFIELD: OK. Let's talk about a couple, you know, storylines going forward. If Romney does well in Ohio, we're talking about a very delegate rich state, but this is proportional. If he does well in your view, might that reshape the race?

MOORE: It could reshape the race, but I've been hearing other things that there may not be a final decision out of this entire race until maybe at least April. I heard a story out of Milwaukee, for instance.

They're saying that their primary in April may be the one that could clinch it for him or maybe really propel Santorum into going further into some of the final primaries.

WHITFIELD: All right. Tom Moore, thanks so much with news radio WTAM out of Cleveland. Good to see you. Good luck on Tuesday.

MOORE: Thank you.

WHITFIELD: All right, Super Tuesday just days away. We've got you covered that night starting with a special edition of "JOHN KING, USA" at 6:00 Eastern Time then complete coverage of all the primary results beginning at 7:00 Eastern with Wolf Blitzer.

All right, Queen Elizabeth is celebrating her diamond jubilee. Her grandson, Harry, is doing his part to represent the royal family. He's making his first solo overseas tour. First stop, Central America. We'll have a live report coming up.

AT&T customers get some unwelcome news about their smartphone plans. That story straight ahead.


WHITFIELD: All right, Britain's Prince Harry is helping celebrate his grandmother's diamond jubilee. He's visiting several nations as a tribute to the queen and her 60-year reign. It's his first solo tour overseas.

First stop, Belize in Central America. CNN's Max Foster is there. So Max, has the prince yet arrived?

MAX FOSTER, CNN CORRESPONDENT: No. He's just arrived in the coming hours. As you say, it's a big deal for him really, a coming of age really with this public role. He's never represented the queen abroad before.

So there'll be lots of formalities in terms of that. He'll be speaking on behalf of the queen. She's entrusted him with this role, really. It's going to be a big test to see how he does on it.

He's known as a fun loving guy. He likes to throw himself into things. He's also going to use it as a way of showing his own type of royalty, I think. He's going to be climbing an ancient Mayan pyramid tomorrow.

Today, we can show you some preparations from the capital where they've closed off a street. There's going to be a street party he's going to turn up to. There's lots of music playing. He's going to try the local cocktail cocktails, the local rum.

We're told he's going to dance. There's a serious side to this. He really wants to show the world perhaps coming out of William's shadow that he's his own man, a fun loving guy but he's got a serious side, too.

There's going to be great images coming out of this at a significant point in his royal life.

WHITFIELD: It looks like he's going to have a lot of fun. So other places where the queen is head of state that Harry may also be attending. Where?

FOSTER: Yes. After this, he heads to the Bahamas and then after that, he'll be going to Jamaica. Jamaica is going to be really interesting next week. We'll be on the show talking about that because since the trip was announced, the prime minister declared she wanted to end this relationship with the monarchy. It's becoming more and more Republican Jamaica. There's this trend toward getting rid of the monarchy. Interesting that Prince Harry is going to go there, very popular guy wherever he goes to see if he can turn things around.

We're going to be there when he meets the prime minister, see if there's any awkwardness, but also lots of other sort of adventure moments there as well. He's going to be sailing, shooting with the Special Forces in Jamaica and going on a speedboat in the Bahamas as well. So lots of good pictures to come.

WHITFIELD: Yes, he looks like he's always at home no matter where he goes and having a good time. All right, thanks so much. Max Foster there in the jungles of Belize.

All right, when it comes to smartphones, unlimited data plans are nearly extinct. AT&T is latest to pull the plug. Alison Kosik is at the New York Stock Exchange.

So Alison, is this just AT&T trying to make more money or is there more to this?

ALISON KOSIK, CNN BUSINESS CORRESPONDENT: You know what, it's not just AT&T. It's not just about money even though money obviously is a big factor of this. So AT&T's trying to boost its profits, but it's also facing a space issue, meaning there's only so much wireless network available for their customers. You know, think of how much data our smartphones and our iPads use. You know, they use -- we use lots of data when we download our video and music and our apps. At this point, what's happening is the party's over.

AT&T's unlimited data plan is not going to be unlimited anymore. Once you use three gigs of data a month, what AT&T is going to do, it's going to download your speed. It's going to -- meaning it's going to slow your download speed.

You can always bump up to a more expensive plan, though. That's obviously what AT&T is hoping that you're going to wind up doing. Now AT&T did get rid of its unlimited data for new customers back in 2010. Well, guess what? Now it applies to existing customers, too -- Fredricka.

WHITFIELD: OK. So if smartphones jam up the wireless network, this is an issue for all major carriers, isn't it?

KOSIK: It is. Because, you know, carriers are really -- they're pushing the FCC right now to release more licenses for the wireless air waves because they're getting so crowded. You know, some of that space is going to be auctioned off.

But it's not going to happen for many, many years. In the meantime, get used to it. These data caps are really going to become the norm. But it's also very controversial in how that's being done.

For carriers, their position is it's a real delicate balancing act. They're trying to manage capacity as we clog the network to the near choking point. They don't want to scare away customers, either -- Fredricka.

WHITFIELD: All right, Alison, thanks so much.

All right, President Obama at a fundraiser yesterday. He got heckled over Iran. He had a pretty quick comeback, but does it expose a political vulnerability? I'll ask the "Political Buzz" panel, next.


WHITFIELD: Time for "Political Buzz." Your rapid fire look at the best political topics of the day. Three questions, 30 seconds on the clock.

Playing today, Goldie Taylor, political analyst and cultural critic at the Goldie Taylor Project and Patricia Murphy, founder of Citizen Jane Politics and a contributing writer for "The Daily Beast." and Chris Metzler, a professor at Georgetown University.

Hello to all of you. All right, first question, we know the Republican primary in Georgia is a key one, particularly for Newt Gingrich. Just how important? Just ask him.


NEWT GINGRICH (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I have to win Georgia. I think to be credible in the race.


WHITFIELD: All right, simply put. That may be stating the obvious a little bit. Here's the question. Does he have any moves left if he doesn't win, Goldie?

GOLDIE TAYLOR, POLITICAL ANALYST, THE GOLDIE TAYLOR PROJECT: He doesn't have any moves left if he doesn't win Georgia.


TAYLOR: But the fact is, Newt Gingrich may or may not take our home state. I lived and worked in Georgia politics for 25 years and I've got to tell you. I've never seen anything like what Rick Santorum is pulling off in some of our suburban and rural areas of Georgia. He is taking it by storm. And Newt has a lot to worry about.

WHITFIELD: All right and Chris?

CHRIS METZLER, PROFESSOR, GEORGETOWN UNIVERSITY: Well first of all, Newt Gingrich is going to win Georgia. So that's number one. Number two, if you look at what his strategy is moving forward, his strategy is really to focus on winning Georgia. As a result of that remaining as he said, credible in the race then going on to win Oklahoma, going on to win Tennessee. And if you notice kind of what Newt does and how Newt rises in the polls, which is what he's doing now, if he finds an issue to focus on. And at this point he has a very smart focus on energy policy which is now garnering a lot of attention. So Newt's going to win Georgia and that's his strategy.

WHITFIELD: All right, Patricia?

PATRICIA MURPHY, FOUNDER, CITIZEN JANE POLITICS: Well, Newt speaks the truth. He must win Georgia. But I agree with -- with Goldie. I don't know what he can do if he wins only Georgia. And Rick Santorum wants Newt Gingrich out of this race. So Rick Santorum has been down here in Georgia campaigning really hard. Getting huge crowds; 2,500 people came out to see him at a mega church. So Santorum is taking it to him.

Romney wants him out of the race as well. Romney canceled on a Georgia debate. He knew that would have given Newt too many chances to hit punches on him. So everybody wants him out of this race. They know if he loses Georgia, he's out. He knows it, too.

WHITFIELD: All right President Obama was heckled at a fundraiser. And he got heckled by a woman about what she called the Iran war. Here's what happened.


BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: None of this -- none of -- nobody's announced a war, young lady. So but we appreciate your sentiment. You're jumping the gun a little bit there.


WHITFIELD: All right. So what does this say, you know, about the President on Iran and foreign policy, strengths, weaknesses, Chris?

METZLER: Well, it says a couple of things. First of all, the war between Iran and Israel has been going on for a while now. Secondly, the conversation and the issue is really around the President's relationship with the Prime Minister, Netanyahu. They have a very frosty relationship.

And what the President is trying to do is to try to stop Netanyahu from attacking Iran, especially in the context of an election year. So it exposes his vulnerability on Israel. It exposes his vulnerability on Iran. And it certainly exposes his relationship with Netanyahu.

WHITFIELD: And Goldie?

TAYLOR: You really think the President is playing politics with Israel and Iran in terms of setting off another war, whether he cares, whether it happens during his presidency or any other? No one wants that war to happen. Everyone wants peace in that region. It doesn't matter if it's 2012, 2014 or 2057. I mean I think that's just the fact of it. If you're going to be a heckler, you've got to choose your subject, choose your venue and choose the person you're going to heckle. This person obviously was not aware of the issues and chose the wrong time to raise it.

WHITFIELD: Patricia?

MURPHY: Yes I found the President's response to that very, very strange. He was kind of joking about it. And this is just a politically and just in reality a very perilous, dangerous situation that's going on with Iran. And the President's going to be speaking actually to the American-Israeli PAC. This is the group of Americans who support Israel very much. He's going to be speaking to them in the next couple of days.

Obama's team has said we're going to hear more about his posture toward Iran in the next couple of days. I don't think joking about it or even responding it in a flip way is a good way to settle that. I don't think he's going to be acting because of politics but it will have political implications. What Israel does and what we do and how we do it together. It's very, very important.

WHITFIELD: All right. Your "Buzzer Beater" now; 20 seconds each.

The President is also pushing Congress harder to cut subsidies to oil companies. Is this the best way out of the blame for the high prices at the pumps? Goldie, you first?

TAYLOR: I think I've been talking a lot about this. A lot of things impact gas prices, whether it is the growth in consumption in China or whether it is, you know, the tensions happening in the Middle East or whether it is, you know, the activities of speculator.

All of those things including the President and how he sets policy impacts gas prices. And so to think that this President or any other has full control over it is just a misnomer and ought to be corrected.


METZLER: Well, it's not a question of whether the President has full control over it or not. Clearly the President does not. I think that's stating the obvious. The issue here is, remember, it is the same President who in 2008 talked about rising gas prices, really talked about oil, when in fact, he was running against President Bush. So this has come back to haunt him.

Look, oil subsidies or decreasing oil subsidies may be part of the issue. It's not the only solution.

WHITFIELD: All right and Patricia?

MURPHY: Yes, every political challenger blames the President for gas prices. And then once they become President they say they don't really have a whole lot of control over it which is true. His solution, though, to tax oil companies, close their loopholes, make them pay more to do business I think is the wrong way to go because they will just pass those prices on to consumers.

I think there are other ways -- other ways to increase domestic production. He's talking about that as well. I don't think that going after the companies -- it may feel good. But I don't think it's the right way to bring down prices.

WHITFIELD: All right, Patricia, Chris, Goldie, thanks so much. You all have a great weekend.

METZLER: Thanks.

MURPHY: Thank you.

TAYLOR: Thanks for having us.

METZLER: Take care.

WHITFIELD: All right and this breaking news we want to follow now. Severe weather, we've been reporting to you the potential danger in many parts of the nation.

Rob Marciano joining us now. First warnings now reported in Alabama?

MARCIANO: Yes. And now one in east central Tennessee as well, so and the one in Alabama actually, now we're getting reports of a tornado actually on the ground. There's the radar you see in northern Alabama. The cell itself is north of Huntsville. And it looks like they may have expanded that warning just a little bit.

But Mooresville, you see the sweep of the radar just pass through it. Just north of there is where a funnel cloud was reported and flying debris; 1.3 miles north of Highway 72 near Mooresville. That reported by a -- by law enforcement. And -- and power poles are down there. So we're watching that cell as it moves off rapidly to the northeast.

Also this cell in eastern Tennessee has a warning out on it. It's for DeKalb, Overton and Putnam Counties and White County as well. You see how rapidly these storms are moving, 50, 60, in some cases 70 miles an hour. And that's going to be the ongoing threat today as well. That -- no report of a tornado on the ground. But nonetheless, a radar warned tornado.

And this is just the beginning, Fredricka. We expect this to ramp up and peak sometime late this afternoon and this evening. And again, our hope is that no populated areas hit. Because obviously we are going to see tornadoes and some of which are going to be pretty big and pretty strong.

WHITFIELD: Oh boy all right. Keep an eye on that for us. Thanks so much, Rob Marciano.

MARCIANO: You bet. WHITFIELD: All right, basketball bombshell. UCLA's legendary program is coming under increased scrutiny. A new "Sports Illustrated" story talks about players allegedly getting high and a coach who won't discipline them. That story's author joins us in about ten minutes from now.


WHITFIELD: All right. The suspense is over. The top 13 finalists for this year's "American Idol" have been revealed. A.J. Hammer, host of "SHOWBIZ TONIGHT" has the names. A.J., do tell.

A.J. HAMMER, HLN HOST: All right, Fred. This is where the competition starts to get really good on "Idol". The final 13 contestants announced just last night. Let's put them up. Here they are.

We have Holly Cavanagh, Phillip Phillips, Jessica Sanchez, DeAndre Brackensick, Shannon Magrane, Joshua Ledet, Heejun Han, Skylar Laine, Elise Testone, Colton Dixon, Jermaine Jones, Jeremy Rosado and Erika Van Pelt. Yes, these are names you don't know now but many of them you will get to know well.

The judges seem to be very excited about how this all fell out. Definitely should make for some good TV this season.

And "SHOWBIZ TONIGHT" spoke with some of the judges after last night's show about their Oscar nights. You'll remember, of course, Ryan Seacrest the victim of a Sacha Baron Cohen stunt on the red carpet. Jennifer Lopez's appearance, let's just say it left a lot of people wondering if her dress fit correctly.

Her "Idol" colleagues thought she looked great in the dress. Ryan Seacrest told us that he appreciated the support he's getting from people about the little prank played on him including support from Donald Trump who, Fred, of course, criticized security on the red carpet. And leave it to Donald Trump. Only he could figure out how to get publicity from somebody else's publicity stunt. Well done.

WHITFIELD: Masterful.

Ok. Let's talk about the story now behind those photographs or that photograph of Whitney Houston in an open casket. Has anyone gotten to the bottom of who's responsible?

HAMMER: Well, it's starting to be figured out. A lot of people obviously very upset about this picture of Whitney Houston's casket that ran in "The National Enquirer". And the suspicion was that the picture had been taken by somebody who worked in the funeral home. But the owner of the Whigham Funeral Home denies that it was anyone on her staff. Obviously she's trying to clear her name --


WHITFIELD: Ok. I'm actually going to have to interrupt you and stop you there. I'm sorry, A.J. We've got some breaking news. We want to take you straight to Portland, Maine. Where Senator Olympia Snowe, Republican there, says she announced earlier this week she's not going to seek a new office again. She's stepping down.

Here she is addressing her constituents there in Portland, Maine. Let's listen in to what Senator Olympia Snowe has to say.


SEN. OLYMPIA SNOWE (R), MAINE: Thank you. Thank you, thank you, thank you. You'd think I was running for something. Well, good morning, everybody and thank you all for coming here today.

You may have noticed I did make an announcement earlier this week. So it probably would be no suspense about what I'll be discussing here this morning at my press conference and the topic that I will be raising.

First of all, I want to say what it means to me to be surrounded by so many of my special friends who played a pivotal role in my political life. And, of course, my personal life with my family, who is here today. Most notably -- most notably my husband, the former governor of Maine, Jock McKernan.

And you know, Jock has been with me every step of the way on this political journey. Not to mention my closest friend and my closest advisor. He's sort of a multi-tasker in many ways, you know. Actually, I was thinking about it. I said yesterday, "Do you know how many years between us that we have served in public office?" He said, "No". I said, "How about 56 years?"

Of course, I've been blessed with a fabulous family who are here today. My brother, my cousins, my nieces, their spouses. I thank them. You know, they have always been by my side. And they're here by my side today. They have supported me in so many of my political endeavors. Too many to count. But they have always been there for me both politically and personally.

And I've always said that the real secret to my success has been my large Greek family. It's sort of a built-in electorate, you might say. Of course, Jock's mother used to say, "For an orphan, Olympia, you certainly have a big family."

I do want to express a tremendous debt of gratitude to my superlative staff in both here in Maine, many of whom are here today, almost all, and my Washington, D.C. staff led by my phenomenal chief of staff John Richter.

There's no finer group of dedicated, more motivated, devoted staff that has provided stellar service to the people of Maine and to me. They've always gone the extra mile in fighting for the interests of the people that I represent, solving their problems, mitigating the issues, and making sure that government was treating them fairly.

I also want to thank my campaign staff, who's here today, who put me on course for a very successful re-election, and to all of the volunteers and to everyone who contributed in numerous ways to make it possible. You're simply the best, and I thank you from the bottom of my heart.


WHITFIELD: Republican Senator Olympia Snowe there out of Portland, Maine, facing what she says a room full of her friends and family many of whom have shaped her political career over the years. She says she is stepping down. She hasn't gone on to explain in further detail.

But earlier in the week she did say that she did find it very frustrating that the atmosphere of polarization and that "my way or the highway" ideologies has become pervasive in campaigns and in our governing institutions.

Political director Mark Preston with us now. She will be, perhaps, describing the level of frustration, how she came to this juncture, just a few days after her 65th birthday.

MARK PRESTON, CNN POLITICAL DIRECTOR: Yes. You know, Fred, putting politics aside, the fact that she's a Republican and, you know, we are very polarized here in Washington. I mean this is a huge loss to Capitol Hill. It's obviously going to be a huge loss to Maine in the sense that she has represented Maine in the House and Senate since 1978.

But going to the idea of partisanship, Olympia Snowe was one of these folks who was really a bridge builder. Somebody who could work with Democrats and oftentimes was -- was a holdout on key pieces of legislation, whether it was legislation that Democrats were trying to get through or legislation that the Republicans were trying to get through. Oftentimes she frustrated the leaders in her own party as well as frustrated Democrats because she wouldn't always go with them. But what she did do was serve as a bridge builder.

I have to tell you, for centrists, it's really a big blow that Olympia Snowe has decided to leave Congress at the end of the year.

WHITFIELD: Because is the number right? She's one of six, then, moderate Republicans who are saying they're not seeking re-election in the U.S. Senate?

PRESTON: Yes. You know, just a couple of the big names who have been around for a while, look at Joe Lieberman who's an independent from Connecticut. He is leaving. He was once a Democrat; had trouble with his own party in a primary. Lost it, decided to run. Ended up winning and decided to become an Independent. But Joe Lieberman is leaving.

As is Ben Nelson, a Democrat from Nebraska who just looked at Washington, D.C., and said, you know, I've had enough of what's going on there. It's too tough to get things done. And really, that's really a sad state of affairs, I think.

Whenever we do these national polls and we ask voters, you know, what their view is about Washington, D.C., they're not very happy with it. In many ways I think we're seeing that in Olympia Snowe deciding to leave Congress.

WHITFIELD: All right. Underscoring the polarization we've heard so much dialogue about. Then, of course, potentially changing and really shifting the seat of power there on Capitol Hill.

All right. Thanks so much. Mark Preston, appreciate that from Washington. We'll have much more from the NEWSROOM right after this.


WHITFIELD: All right. When you think of a college basketball program with a storied tradition, UCLA is right up there. A lot of credit goes to the late John Wooden who won ten national championships in 12 years. He established a culture of team work and taking responsibility.

Now it seems that positive culture is a thing of the past. George Dohrmann says the UCLA basketball program has gone off the rails. He's written about it in this week's "Sports Illustrated". And he joins us now via Skype. Good to see you, George.

You actually talked to former players who spoke about, in some cases, being high in practices. How did they get away with that?

GEORGE DOHRMANN, SENIOR WRITER, "SPORTS ILLUSTRATED": You know, there was sort of a group of players, two different recruiting classes that came in and sort of did what college freshmen do. They -- they partied (ph). And so you had, you know, a different -- a group of kids who were, you know, just being college freshmen. The coaching staff some of which they knew about, didn't really react in time.

WHITFIELD: So is this more a reflection of the players and their lack of, you know, commitment or being serious about the sports program? Or are you saying this is a reflection of the sports program and some real gaps in discipline?

DOHRMANN: Well, it's a bit of both, I think. There were definitely some players who -- who did some things that -- sort of on their own that maybe a coach couldn't control. There were also a lot of cases the coaching staff knew about. You know, drug use, alcohol abuse and also sort of acts of, you know, of retaliation against teammates that the coach and staff knew about but just sort of let slide because these were star players.

WHITFIELD: One of your sources was Reeves Nelson who was kicked off the team. Tell us about his credibility. And why you believed what he was sharing.

DOHRMANN: Well, Reeves was somebody who was, you know, sort of had a crazy side, is what people said to me. In that he at times would let his emotions get the best of him in practice and would, you know, would end up injuring teammates, essentially.

You know, we had a lot of sources on what he allegedly did. You know, we went to him and explained to him those things. And he sort of just -- sort of fell on the sword and said he made a lot of mistakes.

WHITFIELD: Ok. George Dohrmann, thanks so much. There is a response after your story went up on UCLA Coach Ben Howland did come out with this statement saying, quote, "Obviously this is not a great day for our program or for me. I'm responsible for this program and everything that happens in it. If there's any need to make changes, I will make them."

And we'll have much more from the NEWSROOM after this.


WHITFIELD: All right. In today's "Daily Dose", there's progress in the battle against AIDS. The CDC says the number of HIV positive drug addicts has fallen by half since the 1990s. Addicts who inject drugs make up about 17 percent of Americans living with HIV. The drop in the number of infections is credited with an increased number of needle exchange programs.

The CNN NEWSROOM continues with Suzanne Malveaux, right after this.