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New Letter Purportedly Written By British Sailor Surfaces; Hope For Zimbabwe?; Attorney General Alberto Gonzales Under Fire; Parents in Illinois Use Shock Treatment to Help Autistic Son; Chinese Man Defying Developers

Aired March 29, 2007 - 15:00   ET


DON LEMON, CNN ANCHOR: Hello. I'm Don Lemon, live at the CNN world headquarters in Atlanta.
FREDRICKA WHITFIELD, CNN ANCHOR: And I'm Fredricka Whitfield, in for Kyra Phillips.

Did a British sailor held captive in Iran really call on Tony Blair to pull his troops from Iraq? That is what is in a new letter allegedly written by Faye Turney. We're waiting from reaction from London.

LEMON: And five homes in Holly, Colorado, pull completely off their foundations -- far worse, a young mother killed by the tornado that ripped the town apart. We're there as a stunned community tries to pull itself together.

You are live in the CNN NEWSROOM.

Terrifying and deadly is a way to describe it -- dozens of tornadoes, 65 at last count, tearing through one town after another, some striking with little or no warning, killing at least four people. The line of storms overnight stretched from South Dakota to Texas. One twister as wide as two football fields carved up one Colorado community.

WHITFIELD: And, not long ago, we heard from relatives of at least one of those people killed out of Holly, Colorado, who died. This is what they had to say about their loved ones.


OSCAR PUGA, BROTHER OF TORNADO VICTIM: My mom said all she heard was a loud noise. And they live next to some railroad tracks. And she thought it was the train. And she looked out. It wasn't that. Heard a bigger noise, and heard some windows breaking.

So, she grabbed my nephew and went into a walk-in closet and, stayed right there until it had passed through, and it broke all her windows.

QUESTION: Did she talk about anything after it had past, and, you know, the tragedy of finding everyone (INAUDIBLE) like that?

PUGA: She ran out. Some guy had stopped by and asked her if she was OK. And she told him to go check on my brother. She took off. And when she got to where his house was supposed to be, it wasn't there. And she just screamed and screamed, and then finally found him, and found that, you know, he was holding on to my niece. And they were still looking for Rosemary.

VICTORIA ROSALES, SISTER KILLED IN TORNADO: He did say there was no warning at all towards anything coming.

QUESTION: And what were you told about where they found Rosemary?

ROSALES: In a tree, in a (INAUDIBLE) It took like maybe -- from what they said, it was like a couple of hours before they were even able to get to her.


QUESTION: Does it seem the home got (INAUDIBLE), I guess, or sort of tossed around by the storm?

PUGA: It's totally gone.


ROSALES: It's gone. And the semi -- the semi was just flipped over, too. And it had like 2,600 pounds. And that was flipped over.


QUESTION: (INAUDIBLE) truck driver?

ROSALES: Yes, he is.

QUESTION: Was Rosemary conscious?

ROSALES: She only responded once. And, then after that, they couldn't get any response from her.

QUESTION: Tell us about her, if you would.

ROSALES: About Rosemary?

QUESTION: Yes. What was she like?

ROSALES: Rosemary was family, all about her family. She always took care of her kids. She always took care of her husband. That was always her main priority.

And, even when I heard about this, it was -- I didn't think it was nothing like this. That's for sure. You know, I thought it was just a big scare. But I -- I was just joking about it. I was like, she was probably in the chicken cooking, you know? That's exactly what Gus (ph) said. (INAUDIBLE) kids there in the kitchen, and Nolia (ph) was sleeping in the front room. And they heard was this big ugly noise. And they didn't have no time to run. He just went and grabbed them both. And that's when it came. And it just threw them. And Rosemary got separated from them.


WHITFIELD: So, Holly is a town of a little more than 1,000 people. Today, those people are coming face to face with the horror and the heartache of what happened last night.

Ronda Scholting is there.

And, Ronda, you have had a chance to see a lot there and talk to a number of people. How are they doing?

RONDA SCHOLTING, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Some of them are doing better than others. I think the people that were able to get out today and start cleaning up are perhaps doing better than the ones that had loved ones who are still in the hospital, suffering from injuries, and having to go through all that.

Now, where I'm standing right now, this was the home of a couple who got married just three years ago and moved in here. And, as you can see, the wall to the living room is gone, although they still have a few pieces of furniture. But, actually, this furniture is not is very good condition.

Last night, at 8:00, when this tornado hit Holly, Colorado, the husband and wife were in separate rooms. He heard something outside. He knew it was a tornado. That's what he tells us. So, he grabbed her, and they ran down here to the basement. In fact, they made it down these stairs just about five seconds, approximately, before the tornado actually hit their neighborhood. And they lived to tell about it, without any injuries.

Tanya and Casey Rushton are here with me.

SCHOLTING: And what did you think when Casey said, "Honey, get down in the basement"?

Did you know what was going on?

TANYA RUSHTON, TORNADO SURVIVOR: We -- I think we both knew what was going on. We -- you could hear the sound. And it was pretty unmistakable. So, we got in the basement. And, before it hit, you didn't have time to think. It hit so fast.

SCHOLTING: And everyone says, oh, it sounds like a freight train. I have never heard one, but does it?

T. RUSHTON: Yes, it sounds exactly like a freight train.


SCHOLTING: Now, in the basement, you figured you would be pretty safe? T. RUSHTON: Yes. I mean, we thought we -- knew we would be safer than upstairs anyway. And, so, we just went to the lowest spot we could. And we were very lucky and fortunate. But we -- neither one of us was injured. So...

SCHOLTING: And, Casey, when you were in the basement, what could you hear outside? Could you hear anything? A lot of wind?

CASEY RUSTHON, TORNADO SURVIVOR There were so many things going on at once, that you don't remember nothing. It happened so fast.

SCHOLTING: And was it over, really, in just a few seconds?

C. RUSTHON: Yes, less -- less than a minute.

SCHOLTING: And when you were -- when you got out, how were you able, Tanya, to get out of the basement?

C. RUSTHON: Oh, we have a big window on the north side of the house. And so we -- Casey laid a blanket over it. And we had furniture down there that we could crawl on to get out the window. But it really -- it wasn't real hard to get out. We were really lucky there wasn't anything blocking the way. So...

SCHOLTING: Lots of broken glass and downed power lines, I think, in the neighborhood. And your next-door neighbor is one of the people that was injured in this, a 76-year-old woman who was trapped in her kitchen, from what we understand. Her family was able to get her out. They came here in a rush.

I assume your family, friends...

T. RUSTHON: Yes. We are. Casey grew up with -- their grandson and him are the same age and graduated high school together. And they were here to help get her out. And everyone in the community is pretty tight-knit. So...

SCHOLTING: And what's going on today? Lots of people have shown up to help clean up. Do you know most of these people, or they're strangers here?

T. RUSTHON: Most of them are Casey's family and my -- some of my. I grew up out of town. So, most -- a lot of my family came from out of town. But most Casey's family and just people that his family has grown up with and known for years. So...

SCHOLTING: And, Casey, what does it mean to have these folks here helping you out? You couldn't do this by yourself.

C. RUSTHON: Oh, no. It means everything. It's amazing what brings people together, I guess.

SCHOLTING: Yes, small town, lots of people. Everybody knows each other.



SCHOLTING: Thanks a lot, you guys.

C. RUSTHON: Thank you.

SCHOLTING: And, hopefully, you know, this, too, will pass.



SCHOLTING: Thanks a lot.

Lots of people out here today right now cleaning up, helping the Rusthons, helping all their neighbors. This is truly a small town with small-town values. This is a place (AUDIO GAP) where everyone, Fredricka, pulls together.

WHITFIELD: All right, Ronda, thanks so much.

LEMON: More trouble today for Attorney General Alberto Gonzales -- his former chief of staff says Gonzales OKed the decision to fire eight U.S. attorneys.

Kyle Sampson is testifying right now before the Senate Judiciary Committee. You are looking at live pictures. Earlier today, he took issue with a public statement by Gonzales denying any part in discussions that led to the firings.


KYLE SAMPSON,, FORMER CHIEF OF STAFF TO ATTORNEY GENERAL ALBERTO GONZALES: I don't think the attorney general's statement that he was not involved in any discussions about U.S. attorney removals is accurate. And...


SAMPSON: I don't think it's accurate. I think he's recently clarified it.

But I remember discussing with him this process of asking certain U.S. attorneys to resign. And I believe that he was present at the meeting on November 27.

SPECTER: So, he was involved in discussions, contrary to the statement he made at his news conference on March 13?

SAMPSON: I believe yes, sir.


LEMON: Kyle Sampson is testifying again on Capitol Hill live right now in front of the Senate Judiciary Committee.

Now, Sampson maintains there was -- anything wrong or illegal about the decision to fire prosecutors in that case.

WHITFIELD: Sampson testified that he sees little distinction between firing a prosecutor over performance and firing one over politics.

Not everyone agrees.

David Iglesias is one of the eight prosecutors who were axed -- who was asked. He says it's wrong to fire a prosecutor for partisan reasons. And Sampson should know that, he says.


DAVID IGLESIAS, FORMER U.S. ATTORNEY: The thing to keep in mind is, Kyle Sampson has never been a prosecutor, much less a federal prosecutor. He doesn't understand what we do.

I couldn't disagree more with his statement that the distinction is artificial. Then Attorney General John Ashcroft told me in his office politics stay outside the door once you become a United States attorney. He told all my colleagues that.

So, I could not disagree more. And we are not rated on political effectiveness. We're rated on performance. And all of us had good performance evaluations by a team of 20 to 25 members of the Justice Department, by career people.


WHITFIELD: The White House is keeping quiet on this topic today, and not offering any new support for Gonzales.

Meantime, spokeswoman Dana Perino said -- quote -- "I'm going to let the U.S. attorney general speak for himself."

LEMON: A second letter purportedly written by detained British soldier Faye Turney has surfaced. This new one, which hasn't been authenticated, calls for British troops to leave Iraq.

Faye Turney is one of 15 British sailors and marines held by Iran for the past six days.

For more, let's go to CNN's Paula Newton in London.

Paula, the new letter, what can you tell us about it?

PAULA NEWTON, CNN INTERNATIONAL SECURITY CORRESPONDENT: Well, we have not been able to verify it. But, again, the rumor is, is that this letter is out there.

And in terms, even, of what it says, in terms of demanding the withdrawal of British troops from Iraq, that definitely takes this conflict, unfortunately, up another notch. You know, we started out the day here at 10 Downing Street with Prime Minister Tony Blair saying that he didn't want a confrontation with Iran. He was trying to take the temperature down on this entire crisis. But, all day, we have just seen the situation escalate.

This is the latest twist. And to actually do this would mean that -- Britain has already said that the videos that have been shown of this woman, the letter that was displayed, gives them grave concerns -- Tony Blair then saying that he was disgusted with the images, that he thought the letter was a disgrace. He said that even before he knew the existence of this other letter.

You know, there is a lot of diplomatic backroom talk right now, a lot of work at the U.N. But, right now, this whole situation just continues to get worse and worse. You know, we're dealing with the families here of the sailors. And at least that one of leading seaman Faye Turney, the one that you have seen on TV, her family was led to believe that, perhaps in 24, 48 hours, she would be home.

Iranian officials say that that's off the table right now, and that because Britain has chosen to go to the U.N. and look for reinforcement there, and because of their -- quote, unquote -- "bullying stand," that they are not considering that release right now -- Don.

LEMON: All right, CNN's Paula Newton, thank you so much for that report. Paula, we thank you for that.

We have some breaking news into the CNN NEWSROOM. It involves an Amber Alert we told you about earlier in the week, a dad and two missing children.

We're getting word from the Walla Walla Police Department that the kids have been found and the father is -- has been detained.

Now, let's show you some videotape we showed you yesterday of them in Colorado. Apparently, that's where -- they were in Montana, rather. That's where they were found. I think they were found in Colorado, but this surveillance video is from Montana, the kids and the dad.

Police had been looking for them, I think, since about Monday or Tuesday. The dad is 34-year-old -- his last name is Baugher. The kids are Remi Baugher, who is 4 years old, 2-year-old brother Lars. They were last seen playing at a jungle gym at the McDonald's in the area where they lived.

But, again, this Amber Alert appears to have helped find these two missing children, along with their dad, who is believed to have taken them. And there was some concern that the father was going to harm both of these kids. But, again, they are found.

As soon as we get a little bit more information into the CNN NEWSROOM, we will get it for you. But, again, John Baugher, the dad, the subject of a regional Amber Alert, after he -- after he failed to return two of his children to his ex-wife over the weekend, has been found. He has been found, detained. Kids have been found. Not sure of their condition.

Hopefully, they are OK, but we will continue to update you on this story right here in the CNN NEWSROOM -- Fredricka.

WHITFIELD: Searching for victims, cleaning up what's left of shattered homes and lives -- killer tornadoes pummel the Plains -- an update in the NEWSROOM.

LEMON: And a shocking way to protect the loved one -- parents say they use a cattle prod, OK, to keep their autistic son from hurting himself.

You're in the CNN NEWSROOM.


WHITFIELD: Zimbabwe in deep trouble these days -- the African nation's president, Robert Mugabe, faces charges of human rights abuses, political bullying, and driving his country to economic collapse. African leaders called an emergency summit to try to save Zimbabwe. And it's going on right now.

And CNN Africa correspondent Jeff Koinange is there in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania.

So, what is the headline out of this summit?


JEFF KOINANGE, CNN AFRICA CORRESPONDENT: One-line headline, Fredricka: standing by their man.

That's right. Fourteen leaders of the region known as the Southern African Development Community came out united today, standing by embattled President Robert Mugabe of Zimbabwe, saying they will try to help the country out of its economic woes.

As you know, the country has the highest inflation in the world, more than 1,700 percent. Eight out of 10 Zimbabweans are out of work. Now the region is stepping in. I guess, for the most part, they think, if the outside world is -- the West is not willing to help Zimbabwe, they will step in and help their embattled president.

Depending on which side of the divide you are on in Zimbabwe, if you are pro-Robert Mugabe, you are very elated from the outcome of this summit. If you are pro-opposition, you are very disappointed. And Robert Mugabe returns home as a hero, especially to members of his ruling party -- Fredricka.

WHITFIELD: Wow. That's incredible. And still incredible is this inflation of 1,700 percent. That is hard for anyone to comprehend. Meantime, the opposition movement has to feel pretty defeated.

KOINANGE: Very, very defeated. In fact, they felt this was the turning point. They thought the leaders of the region would summon President Mugabe; they would sanction him for cracking down on the opposition. You saw those images a couple of weeks ago. The opposition, meeting in a prayer vigil, ended up being arrested and beaten up and battered and bruised in police custody. They thought this was the turning point.

It didn't happen today. You can just imagine how they are feeling right now, disappointed and despondent. And one only wonders what's going to happen between now and scheduled presidential elections in 2008 -- Fredricka.


All right. Well, it's going to be a tenuous year-and-a-half. That's for certain.

All right, thanks so much, Jeff Koinange in Dar es Salaam.

LEMON: We are going to talk about a shocking way to protect a loved one. Parents say they use a cattle prod to keep their autistic son from hurting himself -- details straight ahead in the CNN NEWSROOM.


WHITFIELD: American swimmer Michael Phelps blowing everyone out of the water.


WHITFIELD: Take a look right here. Phelps set three world records in three days at the World Championships in Australia. Bam. Right there. The latest was in the 200 meter individual medley. Phelps also set records in the 200 freestyle, the 200 meter butterfly.

Overall, he has four gold medals in four events at the World Championships in Melbourne. Stay tuned. He will probably swim in four more events before the championships are over.

LEMON: Yes. He's...


WHITFIELD: Remember how, in the -- you know, the games in Athens...


WHITFIELD: ... how he was just like, OK, I'm going for it?


LEMON: And he's in that zone, too. Once you start it, you get that confidence.


LEMON: It's no stopping him.



WHITFIELD: You know he's intimidating, just by, you know, the looks of him. He's tall. And folks are like, he's like the new Albatross.

LEMON: Yes. Aquaman has got nothing on that guy.


LEMON: They are as much a fixture on restaurant tables as are salt and pepper shakers. But a new trend is in the pipeline. A growing number of restaurants are ditching the bottled water.

Susan Lisovicz at the New York Stock Exchange, all the details on that.

Susan, but I'm thirsty?


SUSAN LISOVICZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Of course you're thirsty. And, well, you could also drink wine, I suppose, Don, or another beverage.



LEMON: You want to elaborate on that, Susan?

LISOVICZ: Actually...



LISOVICZ: I know it. I have got your number, Don Lemon.


LISOVICZ: Restaurants are happy to offer bottled water, because there's a healthy markup on every bottle sold. But now there's a bottle backlash. And it's all in the name of conservation.

The famous Chez Panisse in Berkeley, California is switching out of bottled water because of all the energy involved in bottling, transport, and recycling. Chez Panisse is the trendsetter that pioneered the eat-local, eat-fresh restaurant -- the restaurant instead installing its own filter and carbonator to make all those bubbles. And, so, you can save money on the water. But you can spend, as I mentioned, Don, on other beverages...


LISOVICZ: ... that also go very well with the whole digestive process.

LEMON: Yes. We're talking about, like, juices and that kind of stuff, right?

LISOVICZ: Absolutely.

LEMON: Absolutely.


LEMON: And, you know, I...

LISOVICZ: Power drinks.

LEMON: Yes. I never really -- I always say tap, unless I'm in a country or something where you shouldn't drink water. Then I will get a bottle.



So, the water may be cheaper, but honey is not. What about the honeybee slacking off, we're hearing?

LISOVICZ: This -- you know, we talk so much about, you know, other commodities, like oil. Earlier today, we were talking about corn prices are really soaring.

Well, honey prices climbed last year, too. They were up 14 percent, and continue to climb. What's especially interesting here is the reason behind the decline in production. Honeybees across the country have been dying off in record amounts. Beekeepers and scientists can't figure out why. The problem is so rampant, it's actually been given a name: colony collapse disorder.

Some beekeepers are losing as much as 90 percent of their bees. And those that survive are too weak to pollinate. Today, a House subcommittee in Washington is holding a hearing on the matter. One expert says it's possible that stress to the bees' immune system is killing them off.

We love our honey.

Well, there's not much buzzing here on Wall Street, even though oil prices continue to soar, up about two bucks. Crude jumped just about $2, to settle at $66 a barrel. The standoff over those British sailors in Iran continues. Iran is a major oil producer. And it certainly underscores the tensions about that area in general. And, so, you can see it play out. The Dow industrials have now rallied back. The three-for-three losses so far for the week, maybe we could end today with a -- with a rally of some sort. The Nasdaq, not holding on to its early gains, it's down about a quarter-of-a- percent right now.

And I will be back in 30 minutes for the closing bell.

You're watching CNN, the most trusted name in news.


LEMON: Hello. I'm Don Lemon, live at the CNN World Headquarters in Atlanta.

WHITFIELD: And I'm Fredricka Whitfield. A tornado leveled much of their small town and killed one of their neighbors. Now we're hearing from some of the dazed survivors in Holly, Colorado. You are in the NEWSROOM.

LEMON: Before we get to the tornado, some new information now right into the CNN NEWSROOM. CNN has confirmed that authorities in Idaho Springs, a small town east of Denver, Colorado, have arrested John Baugher. He's the subject of a regional Amber Alert after he failed to return his two children to his ex-wife over the weekend. The children are safe and they are at the police station in Idaho Springs.

And John Baugher and has two children, Remi and Lars, 4 and 2 years old, were apparently on a Greyhound bus that was traveling from Salt Lake City to Denver. But again, the two children of safe. John Baugher is now in police custody and CNN has confirmed that they are both -- that they have found -- from authorities, that they have found all three of them. And again, the father is in custody. As soon as we get more information on this story, we'll bring it to you live right here in the CNN NEWSROOM.

WHITFIELD: On to Holly, Colorado, now, a community of just over 1,000 people near the Kansas border. Many of them reaching out to one another after a terrifying night. A huge tornado slammed into the town around dinnertime with little, if any, warning. Sections of the town are devastated. Eleven people hurt, including a 3-year-old girl. She and her mother, Rosemary Rosales were found badly injured in a mangled tree. Doctors were unable to save the mother. She died early today with relatives at her side.


VICTORIA ROSALES, ROSEMARY ROSALES SISTER: Rosemary was family, all about her family. She always took care of her kids. She always took care of her husband. That was always her main priority. And even when I heard about this, it was -- I didn't think it was nothing like this. That's for sure. You know, I thought it was just a big scare. But I was just joking about it. Like, she's probably in the kitchen cooking. That's exactly what Gus (ph) said. They are in the kitchen. And Noja (ph) was sleeping in the front room. All they heard was this big ugly noise. They didn't have no time to run. He just went and grabbed them both and that's when it came and it just threw them.


WHITFIELD: While they are mourning the loss one family member, they are still hopeful for the other. Doctors tell the family the little girl, the 3-year-old, suffered a skull fracture, but is expected to make a full recovery.

Meantime, more storms, as if that wasn't enough. More tornadoes possibly today. And Rob Marciano is in the Severe Weather Center with more on that.

ROB MARCIANO, AMS METEOROLOGIST: Fredricka, the good news today is that the energy from this system has lost a little bit of its punch. The storm prediction center out of Norman, Oklahoma, has only put out a slight risk of seeing that sort of activity. But nonetheless, there's a severe thunderstorm watch out until 8:00 local time, includes much of this sliver of north Texas. And that does includes part of Dallas and the Fort Worth area. And it does head up across the Red River into parts of Oklahoma.

Heavy rain and gusty winds with some of these storms. Here's the Norman radar, Norman is where the storm prediction center is. Severe storms laboratory as well. So they are right smack in the middle of the action, typically.

Down to the south, across parts of Texas, the Fort Worth radar here. And anytime we see a blue, indicates hail. Anytime we see a yellow, that indicates there is starting to get a mesoscale type of spin to that storm. So we'll watch those a little bit more carefully. Anytime that ball is red, it indicates the radar thinks there might be a tornado.

Austin to San Antonio, good news there right now. Things are fairly quiet. So this is the area of concern through much of today. But as we go through tomorrow, there will be a second impulse that comes across Texas. And with all the rainfall that they've had the past couple of days, the issue is going to be flooding rain I think across the I-35 corridor from Dallas, Waco, Austin down to San Antonio.

That white spot on the legend indicates we could see as much as 10 inches of rain. That doesn't include what already was dumped there earlier in the week. And here's that second impulse of storminess coming through Texas tomorrow.

You know, Fredricka, we typically average, fatality-wise, about 60 in the U.S. per year. We've already had over 40 and we're not even a quarter of our way through the year, not even really anywhere near the peak of severe weather season yet, so.

WHITFIELD: Wow, that is very sobering, especially when you put it that way. Thanks so much. LEMON: Hey, Rob and Fredricka, take a look at this bit. It looks like snow, but you guys know what this is, right? Right here in Atlanta. What is that?

WHITFIELD: Oh my gosh. Yes. The pollen is off the charts here.

MARCIANO: Pollen blizzard.

LEMON: Isn't that ridiculous?

WHITFIELD: Yes. Don't wash your car, people. Don't waste your money.

LEMON: We're talking springtime. It's springtime in Atlanta.

WHITFIELD: Or your energy.

LEMON: This, my friend, is pine pollen, right, Rob?

MARCIANO: Yes, it is. The larger pollen, which I'm told by those experts, it's not that kind you actually ingest. So it may look bad but it's not the kind that gets you sniffling and sneezing.

WHITFIELD: I was going to say, how could you even tell?

LEMON: Yes. It leaves everything yellow here.

MARCIANO: But it does tell you there's plenty of other pollens in the air, no doubt about that.

LEMON: Yes, 5,932 is the normal count, 20 and 150 is considered high.

WHITFIELD: Oh, I am feeling for all those friends out there with allergies.

LEMON: No, I did that wrong, 5,932 is the count. A normal count is 20 and 150 is considered high. This is almost 6,000.

WHITFIELD: Yes. That's crazy. I heard that 6,000 -- I think 6,000 is like the record. Isn't that right, Rob?

MARCIANO: We're getting close to, if not have already broke the record for the month of march here in Atlanta. If we don't get rain sometime soon, this may be more than just a historic event. We'll hopefully get some rain over the weekend. That does help not only knock down the dust, but knock down the pollen out of the air. It has been very dry.

WHITFIELD: All right. Bring on the rain. All right. Thanks a lot, Rob.

LEMON: Thanks, Rob.

WHITFIELD: Well, clues emerge from yesterday's deadly office building fire in Houston. Investigators believe the fire broke out in a medical supplies firm on the fifth floor, the same floor where firefighters found three bodies. One fire captain describes the scene as hell, hot and dark. The fire erupted late in the afternoon. Rescuers smashed windows and took people from the upper floors on ladders.


DAWN HERRING, FIRE SURVIVOR: It was horrifying. We tried to get out. We didn't realize there was a fire going on until I heard somebody scream. We tried to get out. The hallways were filled with smoke. There were two stairways. Both of the stairways were filled with smoke. We had no other choice but to go back into the office. We finally broke a window and we waited and waited, seemed like forever, for the fire department to bring the ladder over to our window.

SOLEDAD O'BRIEN, CNN ANCHOR: How quickly did they arrive? You know, we've heard reports there was a guy who was walking by who actually had to pull the alarm. That the -- you know, no alarm went off to notify the fire department. Were you waiting a long time for the fire department to arrive?

HERRING: Once we got back in the office, after we realized we couldn't get out, the fire department was there already. It just took them a while to get to our window. I think they were trying to get other survivors out, and, you know, possibly control the fire.

O'BRIEN: Those pictures are so terrible to see. How do you do it? How are you doing up? I mean, this has got to be one of those horrific experiences you never want to think about again.

HERRING: Actually, yesterday I was fine. It wasn't until I got home and saw all the Internet media coverage, all the media coverage on TV. I didn't realize three people had died until after I read it on the Internet, after I got home last night. And it kind of -- it's a wake-up call. It makes you realize how thankful you really are, you know, to be alive.


WHITFIELD: Three deaths, six injuries and no word yet on how all of that got started.

LEMON: A congressional gold medal ceremony happening in Washington today for the famed Tuskegee airmen. Among those honoring them, former Secretary of State Colin Powell.

Let's take a listen to what he had to say.


COLIN POWELL, FMR. SECRETARY OF STATE: Gentlemen, my Tuskegee airmen brothers, I stand so proudly before you today. But I know in the depth of my heart that the only reason I'm able to stand proudly before you today is you stood proudly for America 60 years ago.



LEMON: Tuskegee airmen, six of them being honored today in Washington by the president of the United States, the speaker of the house, and former secretary of state Colin Powell.

WHITFIELD: And so now we salute our fallen heroes. Today, two veterans of World War I. At age 109, Charlotte Winters was the nation's oldest female military veteran. In 1916, she met with the secretary of the navy and asked why women were not allowed to enlist. Her military service began a year later when he allowed her to join as a yeoman third class. She worked as a Navy typist during the war. Winters died in her sleep this week in Boonsboro, Maryland. She'll be buried tomorrow with full military honors.

We also mark the passing of Lloyd Brown, also a Navy veteran from World War I, and also from Maryland. You may remember Brown from an interview he did right here in the NEWSROOM back in November. He told us then his secret to living to be 105 was to get plenty of sleep and not stress about anything. Brown served aboard the USS New Hampshire during the war. He told us he enlisted because it was the right thing to do. And after the war, he became a firefighter. Brown's daughter Nancy says her father died this morning while she was at his bedside. Lloyd Brown was one of an estimated 2 million Americans who served in Europe during World War I. Fewer than half a dozen are still alive today.


LEMON: Well, if I tell you this next story is about parents using a cattle prod on their disabled child, you'll probably expect to see and hear things that will raise your blood pressure and turn your stomach. But this case is not that simple. The parents say the shocks help protect their autistic son from himself.

CNN's Randi Kaye takes a look.


RANDI KAYE, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Bradley Bernstein (ph) is 48 years old. But his parents still call them their baby.

FRAN BERNSTEIN, BRADLEY'S MOTHER: We wanted him so badly. He was the best thing that ever happened to us. We feel that we were chosen to have Bradley and to give him what he needed in his life.

KAYE: Does what he needed include electric shock? Because for nearly 40 years, the Bernsteins have been using a cattle prod to shock their son.

(on camera): A lot of people, though, watching this story might wonder how, as a mother, you could shock your own son. What would you say to them?

BERNSTEIN: If it stops my son from having black eyes and bleeding in his mouth and having his face all torn up, believe me, it's worth it.

KAYE (voice-over): You see, Bradley is severely autistic and mentally retarded, diagnosed at age 3. He lives in a group home, only speaks a few words and spends much of his day rocking in a chair with the lights out.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Can I get a high-five? Nice to meet you.

KAYE: His parents tried psychotropic drugs, restraints and then someone suggested the cattle prod. They insist the only thing that stops Bradley from beating himself bloody, like many with autism do, is a sudden zap. It makes him forget he was hurting himself.

(on camera): Can you show me what it feels like? Do it again.

BOB BERNSTEIN, BRADLEY'S FATHER: It's not something that's going to kill anybody.

KAYE (voice-over): This portable prod shoots 4,500 volts of electricity into Bradley, as often as several times a week. But now the State of Illinois says no more. It passed a law last year making electric shock illegal in community facilities. So Trinity Services, which operates Bradley's group home, has stopped using it.

ART DYKSTRA, TRINITY SERVICES EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR: Our mission is to help people little full abundant lives. I don't think you do that with cattle prods.

KAYE: Yet decades ago, Trinity's Art Dykstra and other experts agreed a jolt of electricity was the only answer for Bradley. Dykstra wasn't aware the treatment continued this long, until just a few years ago when Trinity took over the home where Bradley lives.

DYKSTRA: It was supposed to be temporary. My goodness, it wasn't meant to be carried on for 30 years.

KAYE (on camera): Since Trinity and this group home stopped using electric shock last September, Dykstra says Bradley has tried to strike himself seven to 10 times. While that may be double the number of incidents that were occurring when the cattle prod was in use, Dykstra believes Bradley is happier and communicating better.

(voice-over): But the Bernsteins don't buy it. They sued Trinity. The case was dismissed since shock treatment is outlawed.

F. BERSTEIN: The law should say, yes, Bradley can use the shocker. It needs to be used on him. Screw the law.

KAYE: Fran and Bob Bernstein argue their son can still be shocked based on this agreement from 1987 with the Illinois Department of Mental Health. The department won't comment, but the agreement allows Bradley to be treated with electric shock.

(on camera): The executive director of ARC, the largest advocacy group for people with mental retardation, calls this shock treatment torture. B. BERNSTEIN: In most cases it probably is. But there are some cases where it isn't. It's the only thing available.

KAYE (voice-over): The Bernsteins still use the prod when Bradley is visiting them at home. The new law doesn't prevent that. Bob says he shocked his son just two weeks ago. But at his group home, attendance now restrain Bradley or give him a drug to calm him. Fran still calls the cattle prod the most humane treatment and convinced me to try it.

(on camera): I'll try it just for a second. Oh!

F. BERNSTEIN: Oh, that's not horrible.

KAYE: It's not pleasant.

F. BERNSTEIN: No, but is it horrible?


(voice-over): If Bradley could speak, what would he say? Barbaric or beneficial?

F. BERNSTEIN: He's a sick boy. Sick man. And we need to be there for him. And some day, we won't be around. So I have to make sure while we're here that he gets taken care of.

KAYE: Taken care of the way they see fit.

Randi Kaye, CNN, Desplains (ph), Illinois.


WHITFIELD: And more of the NEWSROOM right after this.


WHITFIELD: I can not get enough of that. Either blame or thank our Ed Henry because guess what, Karl Rove was his guest at the Washington Correspondents Dinner last night. And oh yes, folks, were letting it loose there.

LEMON: What's with the hands?

WHITFIELD: President Bush's political adviser, Karl Rove, yes, with the hand movements, the footwork -- fancy footwork, if you will. All to such creative rap lyrics. He was a good sport about it all, right?

LEMON: He was a good sport, but he has zero rhythm.

WHITFIELD: Zero rhythm.

LEMON: Zero. Negative. Like negative 10.

WHITFIELD: Right. Right. But you know what? It's nice. The Correspondents Dinner, it gives the politicos as well as the correspondents an opportunity to kind of make fun of themselves and have a good time. And, you know, you need that every now and then in Washington. And that's what we saw. Aren't you glad you were a witness to it?


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The president of the United States. Mr. President.

GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: The press is a lot tougher the second term. It has reached the point I sometimes call on Helen Thomas just to hear a friendly voice.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Are you still trying your hand at that improv thing?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes, it's not working out as well as I thought it might go. Any suggestions?


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: No, I just heard it wasn't going too well.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: All right. Thanks.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Mind if I put on some Johnny Cash?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Put it in. I hear the train a-coming...


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: ... I'm stuck in Folsom Prison and time keeps dragging on.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I could listen to this -- I could listen to this whole song.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Look at him move doing the rap and dance, that's true, he's a dancing resident, he's a sidekick to the president, he's going way above, and tell me what is your name?



UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This just in. President Bush can't open a door.


WHITFIELD: All right. Everyone having a really good time. And of course, at every Washington Correspondents Dinner, the president -- whoever the sitting president is, always the speaker, the guest of honor. And President Bush among those having a good time.

LEMON: Did you see Ken Strickland (ph) there?

WHITFIELD: Yes, yes.

LEMON: We used to work with him, great guy.

WHITFIELD: Former producer -- well, he's still a producer at NBC. Former for us in terms of working with. Anyway, it was a lot of fun.

LEMON: A lot of fun. Taking a stand in China, lofty and lonely. The owner of a small hotel battling developers ahead in the CNN NEWSROOM.

The closing bell and a wrap of all the action of Wall Street straight ahead.


LEMON: When people stand their ground, they typically stick to a viewpoint or decision that other people try to talk them out of. From Southwest China comes an innkeeper who fits that description exactly. He's also standing his ground.

CNN's John Vause explains.


JOHN VAUSE, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Defiantly standing alone, this two-story brick hotel with only Yung Wu (ph) inside. One man against gargantuan developers and ultimately, the Chinese government. His wife, Wu Ping (ph) has become a national celebrity, mobbed by crowds who gather to show support.

"All of these friends have given me a lot of comfort," she says. This construction site has also become a rallying point for anyone trying to battle big developers. Like this man, who traveled across country.

"I hope the media will be our voice," he told me. "There's so much corruption in local government." Mr. Yang and his wife, Wu Ping, have been fighting a legal battle with builders of a shopping mall in downtown Chongqing for more than two years. They were offered almost half a million U.S. dollars in compensation, a staggering amount by Chinese standards, but Wu Ping wants more.

"They want to use money to solve this problem," she says. "But that offer is not good enough." They are holding out for a new property of equal size in the new development. The builders aren't talking publicly, but the mayor's office says they'll never give in to the owner's demands.

(on camera): This building is now totally cut off. No electricity, no running water, and no plumbing. But Wu Ping says despite her husband's ill health, he's determined to stay inside to the very end.

(voice-over): Mr. Yang has been in there for almost two weeks now. Supporters bring him food and water, hoisted up by ropes. The bulldozers could come any day. But while this building continues to stand, many ordinary Chinese have hope that they, too, can stand up to the government.

John Vause, CNN, Chongqing.


WHITFIELD: Now that is standing your ground.

LEMON: Absolutely.