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Lebanon Arms; Lebanon Fighting; U.S. Troops Search; Record Gas Prices; McCain's Temper; Mexico's Drug Wars Could Cross the Border

Aired May 22, 2007 - 10:00   ET


HEIDI COLLINS, CNN ANCHOR: Good morning, everybody. I'm Heidi Collins.
TONY HARRIS, CNN ANCHOR: And I'm Tony Harris. Stay informed all day in the CNN NEWSROOM. Here's what's on the rundown.

United Nations trucks rolling into a refugee camp in Lebanon to help. Instead, they come under attack. Thousands trapped in a fight between the Lebanese army and al Qaeda-inspired militants.

COLLINS: Capital concession? Democrats move on. A new Iraq War funding bill. But this one contain no troop withdrawal time line. Just what the president ordered.

HARRIS: Fill up on this news. Gas inching to a new record today. AAA says it is averaging $3.20 a gallon this Tuesday, May 2nd. You are in the CNN NEWSROOM.

COLLINS: I want to go ahead and update you quickly, if we could, on the situation in Lebanon. We brought you some amazing pictures all day yesterday morning with that fierce gun battle and explosions going off between Islamic militants inside a Palestinian refugee camp about 10 miles or so north of Tripoli and the Lebanese army, trying to fight them. Right now we have been learning this morning apparently of a cease-fire and a unilateral one at that. An official of the militant Islamic group, it's called Fatah al-Islam, said that group's fighters are observing this cease-fire in their battle with the Lebanese army. And again, that cease-fire came into effect about 7:30 this morning Eastern Time.

We continue to watch that story, along with this, arming the Lebanese military. U.S. shipments already underway. And now an acceleration of those shipments being urgently discussed. CNN Pentagon correspondent Barbara Starr joining us now with more on all of this.

Good morning to you once again, Barbara.


Well, let's regroup for a second. Why is all of this so important? Aside from the cease-fire, aside from the violence that the people of Lebanon are suffering in this latest emergency, both Syria, Iran, the United States, everyone is watching the performance of the Lebanese army. Seeing how well they deal with this al Qaeda- inspired militant group in their country. Whether this will become a safe haven for this militant group or whether the Lebanese army can flush them out.

And that is the question right now for stability in the Middle East. Can the Lebanese army move around its own country and really assure its own security.

The United States military and the State Department have been working on this problem since the war in Lebanon last summer, beginning the shipment of about $30 million worth of arms to the Lebanese military. But it's really basic stuff, humvees, trucks, spare parts for helicopters and the most urgent need, ammunition.

But what we have learned, even as these shipments are underway, with this latest emergency, the government of Lebanon has come back to the Bush administration and asked for even more. Military sources and diplomatic sources telling CNN that the Lebanese government says their most urgent need right now with this latest emergency is ammunition. So it's really a basic effort with the Lebanese army, but the U.S. feels ever so vital in order to help keep these types of militant groups, including Hezbollah, at bay.


COLLINS: Yes, absolutely. And probably worth pointing out too, when we talk about this cease-fire, we are hearing from the Lebanese army that they are saying no cease-fire has actually been agreed upon with Fatah al-Islam, but they will not fire into that refugee camp unless they are fired upon.

In the midst of all of that, you wonder about any American citizens who might be there, Barbara. Will there be an evacuation like we saw last year about the same time?

STARR: Well, you know, that is a question on the table right now. Of course, the U.S. military, the Navy and Marine Corps, moving off the coast of Lebanon last summer to help evacuate thousands of Americans trapped, especially in Beirut, during the bombing there, as well as a number of commercial vessels moving in to help with that evacuation.

This time they don't think it's going to get to that point. They do think it will be at this point more contained. But make no mistake, Heidi, the U.S. military already very closely looking at that situation, looking at where it has ships in the region, ready if, in fact, the U.S. ambassador was to make a request for assistance from the military. At this point, though, they don't think it's going to come to that.


COLLINS: All right. CNN's Barbara Starr staying on top of it for us from the Pentagon this morning.

Barbara, thanks.

STARR: Sure.

HARRIS: And CNN's senior international correspondent, Nic Robertson, is on the phone with us.

Nic, if you would, tell us, first of all, where you are and what you're seeing.

NIC ROBERTSON, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Tony, I'm abut a mile from the Palestinian refugee camp and I'm looking down on that camp at the moment. I can see smoke rising up from it. About half an hour ago we heard an exchange of heavy machine gunfire going on there. Following then a couple of loud detonations.

We have learned that the U.N. convoy of six trucks went into the camp a couple of hours ago carrying medical supplies, doctors and food supplies. When they were inside the camp, came under fire. It's not clear by whom. U.N. spokesmen say that three of their vehicles have been hit. They say, as far as they know, they don't have any casualties.

The three vehicles that weren't hit by gunfire were able to get out of the camp. The U.N. said it's now trying to negotiate with Fatah al-Islam and the Lebanese security forces to get eight to 10 U.N. workers out of the camp. They say they have eight to 10 U.N. workers stuck inside that camp.

As I look over the camp right now, there's still smoke rising from one of the buildings. It's not as dense and thick smoke. It was about an hour ago when we arrived (INAUDIBLE). Other than that, it appears from this distance, this has no heavy gunfire going on at the moment. The army checkpoint that we are at here heavily screening vehicles going into and out of the area. They're only allowing local farm vehicles to get in to get produce from the local farmers.


HARRIS: Nic, another quick question. Have you been able to sort of ascertain the thinking of the Lebanese government at this point as to how this standoff might eventually end? And I guess the real question is, might we see the Lebanese government sign off on the military actually entering the camp to end this standoff?

ROBERTSON: There seems to be in indication of that so far. And perhaps the best indication we have at the moment, Tony, of which direction the government is headed in, Prime Minister Fouad Siniora, met earlier in the day with representatives from the Palestinian refugee camps. The indications from that would be perhaps that he's trying to find a negotiated way to end this solution. Listen to Palestinian concerns.

The concerns from within these camps are that tensions are rising. In other Palestinian camps, there have been marches against what the Lebanese army has been doing to the camp right behind me. Of course, the Lebanese security forces say they're not firing indiscriminately, but that's what the Palestinians inside the camp is saying is happening. They say there are a number of civilian casualties, both dead and wounded inside the camp.

So it seems that the prime minister is trying to go in a political direction, to listen to the concerns and perhaps try and negotiate. We're not sure of what's going on inside those meetings. But it would seem to be a last-ditch resort for him to go inside the camp.

Remember, this is an area of very dense housing. It's an area, in this particular camp, there are 30,000 Palestinian refugees. There are about 400,000 Palestinian refugees inside Lebanon. And it would be hugely destabilizing for the country if the government here was to decide that its only way forward was to go inside the camps to capture what amounts to several hundred militants.

So at the moment, Tony, it doesn't look, from what we can -- at least what we're hearing so far, that an armed intervention inside the camp is at the moment on the cards.


HARRIS: That explains it very clearly. CNN senior international correspondent Nic Robertson for us.

Nic, thank you.

COLLINS: In Iraq, dozens killed and wounded in a series of grizzly attacks. The deadliest of the day so far, a car bomber strikes a Baghdad marketplace. At least 25 dead, 60 wounded. A short time later in the capital, three mortar rounds slammed into a college. At least three students died in that attack. Five others shot to death in a nearby neighborhood. And North of Baghdad, gunmen kill a family of six in Bacqba (ph). Police say the killers posed as police officers and set up a fake checkpoint.

HARRIS: U.S. troops racing the clock and battling exhaustion in Iraq this morning. They've raided suspected safe houses and expanded their search for three missing comrades. CNN's Arwa Damon is embedded with U.S. forces trying to find the missing soldiers. She is in Yusufiya via broadband.

And, Arwa, if you would, leads in the search, are they drying up or are military -- is the military getting new leads in this operation?

ARWA DAMON, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Tony, in fact, operations today led to the detention of three individuals. One whom the military definitely believes was directly involved in the attack. The other two possibly may have been. So from them they will be gathering further information.

Now, these two operations were part of at least 15 operations that took place across the 2nd Brigade of the 10th Mountain Division's areas of operations. That's is this area just south of Baghdad that is otherwise known as the Triangle of Death. But the U.S. military will tell you that this search right now is at a stage where they are, in fact, continuing to get leads and to gather information.

What they're doing right now is essentially putting together the pieces of the puzzle. What happened exactly Saturday morning at 4:44? Where were the kidnapped soldiers moved on to? Who was involved. All of this is beginning to come together as this search, as this investigation does move forward.

The military is telling us that individuals, who they've had detained, are coming forward with even more information. And as we are seeing from today's detentions, at least one individual definitely, the military believes, involved in the attack. That mission to capture him was a result of specific information.

It was an intelligence-driven operation. The other two who possibly may have been involved in the attack, they were picked up during routine searches.


HARRIS: All right. CNN's Arwa Damon for us this morning.

Arwa, appreciate it. Thank you.

COLLINS: An about face on Iraq. House Democrats apparently backing down on their demand for a troop withdrawal timetable. President Bush vetoed one spending bill that contained such a time line and he vowed to kill any legislation like it. Now, party leaders say, they'll likely drop any timetable. They say a new bill could reach the president by the end of the week.

It could face resistance, though, from fellow Democrats who want a swift end to the war. They're still hammering out the details. But the new legislation is expected to include goals for the Iraqi government to meet.

HARRIS: The poisoning death of a former Russian spy, a major new development to tell you about. British prosecutors announcing today they plan to file murder charges in Alexander Litvinenko's death. The suspect, Andrei Lugovoi, another former KGB agent, who's now a Russian businessman. He denies any involvement.

Britain wants him extradited from Russia. That request likely to put London and Moscow on a diplomatic collision course. Russian officials have say they will not extradite any suspects to Britain. On his death bed, Litvinenko accused Russian President Vladimir Putin of having a role in his poisoning. That allegation denied by the Kremlin.

COLLINS: New details this hour on a deadly row house fire in Baltimore. Officials say five people are dead, five others injured. The fire broke out around 7:00 this morning, trapping a number of people inside the home. Two of the injured suffered heart attacks. And a firefighter is among the injured. We'll, of course, pass along more information just as soon as we get it.

HARRIS: It looks like a set-up. A bomb jolts police. They're lured to the scene with a burned body. See the story in the NEWSROOM.

COLLINS: McCain's mouth. What will come out of it next? He's a Republican on a roll with linguistic blunders. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. JOHN MCCAIN, (R) PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: As I mentioned, maybe he can get out that varmint gun of his and chase those Guatemalans off his lawn.


COLLINS: A whole lot of yakety-yak going on in the NEWSROOM.

ALLAN CHERNOFF, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Gasoline prices on the rise yet again. We'll explain exactly what's going on, coming up in the NEWSROOM.

HARRIS: Well, another one wanders out of the woods and into a neighborhood. Break out the tranquilizer gun. Bear facts in the NEWSROOM.


HARRIS: And welcome back, everyone. I'm Tony Harris. You're in the NEWSROOM.

Saving cash by driving on corn. A cheaper alternative ahead for you in the NEWSROOM.


COLLINS: You awake? If you filled up your tank this morning, you undoubtedly noticed gasoline prices up again. According to AAA, they hit a new record high, averaging almost $3.21 a gallon. People in California paying the most for gas, just about $3.45 for a gallon of regular. Aren't you glad you don't live in California, Tony? And New Jersey, the only state in the nation with averages under $3.

HARRIS: I'm struggling in Atlanta.

COLLINS: Let's go to CNN's senior correspondent, Allen Chernoff. He is live once again in Jersey City this morning.

Hey there, Allan. Is this gas station that you're at being effected right now?

CHERNOFF: Of course. But, hey, bring your gas canisters over here because it's still a relative bargain. The price for unleaded right now, $2.919. In fact, they've raised the price by two cents a gallon just a few minutes ago. But nonetheless, this is still a relative bargain.

Let's talk to one of the drivers here.

Sir, do you know that you're getting a bargain at $2.91 a gallon?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes, I know. It's true. It is.

CHERNOFF: Still pretty high for New Jersey. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Well, I'm from Queens, so -- but it's an excellent bargain.

CHERNOFF: OK. At least one happy customer over here.

Obviously most customers not all that satisfied with the price shooting skyward. In fact, at this Valero station, it's gone up by 10 cent as gallon over the past three days.

Why are prices jumping up so much? Well, we've been talking about refineries. That's where, of course, crude oil is convert into gasoline. Our refineries in the country right now are operating at only 88 percent of capacity as we're just about to head into peek driving season.

A very bad situation. Supplies are relatively low. Demand, as you can see, remains very strong over here. So that's the reason that prices are jumping up.

Let's talk to the owner right now, Chris Cho.

You're the owner of the Valero station over here. Are you benefiting here? Are you profiting big time?

CHRIS CHO, GAS STATION OWNER: No, not at all. As the prices go higher, people have the misconception that we make a lot of money when we're actually making a lot less money.

CHERNOFF: How is it possible that you're making less money?

CHO: Well, credit card fees are killing us. We have to charge like right around eight or nine cent per gallon higher just to cover the credit card fees. And gasoline is the backbone of society. And everything goes up. Insurance bills goes up. Labor goes up. So to cover it, per gallon, everything has to go up.

CHERNOFF: So you're not a winner here.

CHO: Not at all.

CHERNOFF: OK. Well, of course, the winners are the large oil companies. They are profiting big time. In fact, the three biggest oil companies in the nation last year earned a combined $72 billion in profit. So certainly they are benefiting here. Some people in Congress are claiming that they're even gouging American consumers. But the fact is, there is no proof that is actually happening.


COLLINS: Yes. Quickly, though, Allan, before we let you go. Turn around and look at that sign. Is it still $2.91 or did it change?

CHERNOFF: Yes. It just went up from $2.89. Just about 15 minutes ago we were at $2.89. Now it's at $2.91 right now. So skyward they go. COLLINS: All right. Tony is trying to figure out how to FedEx his gas cans out there so he can get that price in New Jersey.

CHERNOFF: Bring them over. You know what, maybe I'll -- I'll bring some down for you.

HARRIS: I just want a camera affixed to the sign so that we can watch it. A little bug in the corner of the screen so we can watch it each and every time it changes and goes up. It won't go down.

COLLINS: We can do that. In a big (INAUDIBLE), can't we, Michael? I think we should do that.

Allen Chernoff, wherever you went, thank you very much for that report.

HARRIS: All right. So here's the question, Heidi, where can you get gas for less than $2.66 a gallon? Two stations in upstate New York now selling an alternative fuel known as E-85. It's 85 percent ethanol, which can be made from corn, and 15 percent gasoline. So right now New York isn't collecting taxes on E-85, so it's cheaper than regular gas.

COLLINS: Two stations. Only two. In order to find that stuff, though, that's the problem.

All right. So you've heard of "The Cat in the Hat." Well, now, there's a cat in the mat. We'll unravel this one for you, coming up in the NEWSROOM.


HARRIS: Boy, the GOP race for president certainly heating up with two campaigns facing off over immigration. Senator John McCain, a leader backer of a bill that combines tighter border security with a guest worker plan. Rival Mitt Romney calls it a form of amnesty. McCain fired back, suggesting Romney has flip-flopped on the issue.


SEN. JOHN MCCAIN, (R) PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I don't want to be too critical because maybe a couple weeks from now he will change his position again, as he's changed from his previous position, which was in support of ours. And as I mentioned, maybe he can get out that varmint gun of his and chase those Guatemalans off his lawn.


HARRIS: OK, now, we need to explain. The varmint shooting refers to Romney recently clarifying his experience as a hunter. The Guatemalan reference from a report that a lawn care company working on Romney's property employed illegal immigrants. The Romney camp is not amused. Spokesman suggest McCain can't deal with the political fallout from the immigration legislation.

COLLINS: It's not the first time in recent days the senator has stumbled on his own words. Here's CNN's Tom Foreman.


SEN. JOHN MCCAIN, (R) PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: We will track him down. We will capture -- we will bring him to justice. And I'll follow him to the gates of hell.

TOM FOREMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT, (voice over): A fired up John McCain at the first Republican presidential debate, vowing to hunt down Osama bin Laden. And a heated John McCain late last week, behind closed doors in Congress. According to first-hand accounts, the senator from Arizona got into a shouting match with fellow Republican John Cornyn over the new immigration bill.

The senator from Texas, who is against the bill, went after McCain, slamming him for missing negotiations while campaigning out on the trail. That's when McCain fired back with an f-u. Cornyn said McCain later apologized for the outburst.

SEN. JOHN CORNYN, (R-TX): Senator McCain apologized to me afterwards and I have to say that we probably all said things that we've later regretted.

FOREMAN: This isn't the first time McCain's grown heated in the halls of Congress. A few months ago, he got testy with reporters questioning him about an Iraq War funding bill he was writing. Again, McCain came back later to apologize. After the senator's joke about bombing Iran made headlines ...

MCCAIN: That old Beach Boy song "Bomb Iran." You know, bomb, bomb, bomb ...

FOREMAN: McCain, once again, fired back.

MCCAIN: Lighten up and get a life. Insensitive to what? The Iranians? My response is, lighten up and get a life. I will continue to joke with my veteran friends.

FOREMAN: And a recent appearance on "The Daily Show" got loud.

JON STEWART, "THE DAILY SHOW" HOST: Let me explain it this way.

MCCAIN: It's very unfair ...

STEWART: What I'm saying is less supportive of them.

MCCAIN: (INAUDIBLE) people are being told they're fighting a war ...

STEWART: Settle down a second.

MCCAIN: No, you settle down. That they're fighting in a war that they lost.

FOREMAN: McCain became famous for his straight talk during his first run for the White House. MCCAIN: Five United States senators, Vietnam veterans, heroes, some of them really incredible heroes, wrote George a letter and said, apologize. You should be ashamed. You should be ashamed.


FOREMAN: But years later, an admission that maybe that kind of language doesn't always work.

MCCAIN: My anger did not help my campaign. It didn't help. People don't like angry candidates very much.

FOREMAN: And how is he doing now?

MCCAIN: I'm fine. Cindy says I'm more ill tempered than I used to be. But other than that, I'm fine.

FOREMAN: Take note of the facts that the issues that seem to be heating up John McCain the most are questions about immigration and about support for the war. Both area where's he potentially stands to lose support among some voters for his stance.

Tom Foreman, CNN, Washington.


HARRIS: On the border and on the edge. Life in a town targeted by rockets. Unsettling events and unusual ways of coping. Details in the NEWSROOM.


HARRIS: Live in the CNN NEWSROOM, I'm Tony Harris.

COLLINS: And I'm Heidi Collins.

Good morning to you, everybody.

Straight to the situation northern Lebanon, a dire one indeed.

For the third straight day Lebanese troops and Islamists militants battle it out at a Palestinian refugee camp near Tripoli right now.

The militants say they're observing a unilateral cease-fire, but tensions are still high. In fact, a short time after the cease-fire announcement a U.N. aide convoy was attacked as it entered the camp with relief supplies. More than 30,000 refugees live in the overcrowded camp.

An Israeli border town target of regular rocket attacks. But life goes on, sometimes in unusual ways.

CNN's Atika Shubert reports.


ATIKA SHUBERT, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Another day, another rocket hits the Israeli town of Sderot, this one caught on security camera. It's right on the border with Gaza. Sderot is ground zero. We're about a kilometer away from Gaza.

(on camera): And in the last few days more than 100 rockets have fallen in this area, including this one, which landed just about 15 minutes ago in an open field.

(voice-over): Life here is almost surreal. Shimon (ph) own as hair salon. He created the Kessam rocket hairdo, inspired by a rocket that landed in front of his salon four years ago. The rockets may have inspired Shimon, but they are also responsible for a slow down in his business.

"Half the city has left. Everyone's gone," he says.

But we have to keep living. We can't just abandon everything. Sderot is a poor town. Many here are recent immigrants who can't afford to leave.

"It's scary," this customer says. "Friday night a Kessam hit right nearby. At least I can get my hair done. I always feel better afterwards," she says.

Everyone deals with the pressure differently. But when a rocket lands, everyone ducks for cover. But that's easier for some than others. Eshaya's (ph) 40-year-old son is wheelchair bound. He stays inside all day because he would not make it outside to a shelter in time. Eshaya is visibly upset.

"I want them to halt these rocket assaults and destroy those carrying it out," he says. "I want them to take 20 or 30 bulldozers and chase them into the sea. How long can we tolerate this?" he asks. The frustration in Sderot is palpable. Most here live in unfortified homes. There are a few shelters. A citizen's group is working with evangelical Christians from the United States to install transportable bomb shelters into neglected neighborhoods.

(on camera): This is the way it's supposed to work. When the alarm sounds, people run into the shelter for safety. But they only have between five and 30 seconds before the rocket hits. Not everyone here fears the rockets.

"The Kessams are my friends," this boy laughs. "They are the alarm clock that wakes me up every morning." To each his own in Israel's rocket town.

Atika Shubert, CNN, Sderot.


COLLINS: Terror threat in Thailand. Like Iraq, you can't always see the bombs. An explosion rips through the scene of a murder investigation today. Four people injured. The bomb left by the body of a man who had been shot and burned. Authorities suspect Muslim militants. The militants have been fighting a separatist war against mostly Buddhist Thailand. Booby-trapped bombs are often left at the site of attacks to maim or kill police.

HARRIS: Alberto Gonzales under fire. Democrats and some Republicans taking aim. But President Bush is standing firm on the side of his embattled attorney general.

CNN White House correspondent Ed Henry has the story.


ED HENRY, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Like the cactus on his Texas ranch, the president is dug in and carrying water for his embattled Attorney General Alberto Gonzales.

GEORGE W. BUSH, PRES. OF THE UNITED SATES: He has got my confidence. He has done nothing wrong. There's been enormous amount of attention on him, that there's been no wrongdoing on his part. And I, frankly, view what's taking place in Washington today as pure political theater.

HENRY: That's a shot at the latest Democratic maneuver against Gonzales, votes of no-confidence in both chambers of Congress. Because of Gonzales's handling of the firing of eight U.S. attorneys, and new allegations the target list was longer than the Bush administration led on, as well as dramatic testimonial alleging Gonzales went to the hospital room of an ailing John Ashcroft to convince him to sign off on the warrantless-wiretapping program.

JAMES COMEY, FMR. DEP. ATTY. GEN.: I thought I just witnessed an effort to take advantage of a very sick man.

HENRY: That seems to contradict Gonzales's claim to senators last year that there was never any serious disagreement over the surveillance program.

SEN. CARL LEVIN (D), MICHIGAN: We should have been gone a long time ago. If there is such a resolution of no confidence, I'm surely going to vote for it. I think a number of Republican also.

HENRY: Six Republican senators have gone further, outright calling for Gonzales to resign. But the no confidence vote is non- binding, and the president, the decider on personnel matters, isn't giving in.

BUSH: I stand by Al Gonzales, and I would hope that people would be more sober in how they address these important issues, and they ought to get the job done of passing legislation, as opposed to figuring how to be actors on the political theater stage.

HENRY (on camera): Why does the president keep digging in? One reason is that Gonzales's deputy, Paul McNulty, has already stepped down, and the White House cannot afford to have two messy Senate confirmation battles at the same time.

Ed Henry, CNN, the White House.



HARRIS: And Still to come in the NEWSROOM this morning, escalating violence in Mexico's drug trade. Is it presenting a threat on this side of the border? That's ahead in the NEWSROOM.


COLLINS: Mexico's drug wars. Drug cartels battling each other and police. Will that lead to trouble on this side of the border?

CNN's Casey Wian explains.


CASEY WIAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Three Mexican police officials in the northern border state of Neuvo Leon were gunned down over the weekend. The shootings carried all the signs of the drug cartel executions now occurring regularly throughout Mexico.

PRES. FELIPE CALDERON, MEXICO (through translator): The government needs the firm support of society because the challenges are not minor. We are ready to meet them head on.

WIAN: Residents of the border town of Cananea are still reeling from last week's battle between federal troops and drug cartel members that left 23 people dead, including five local police officers. More than 1,000 killings have been linked to Mexico's war and drug cartels so far this year. In other words, the cartels are killing nearly eight people a day.

GENARO GARCIA LUNA, MEXICAN FEDERAL SECURITY SECRETARY (through translator): We are not going to take steps backwards. The federal authority will not retreat.

WIAN: Some Mexican lawmakers are now questioning the wisdom of President Felipe Calderon's deployment of 24,000 federal troops to fight the cartels. Meanwhile, U.S. border state governors and local law enforcement say the violence is spreading to the U.S. side. But the Bush administration downplays the threat, claiming the border is more secure.

MICHAEL CHERTOFF, HOMELAND SECURITY SECRETARY: We've already seen a tremendous change in the momentum at the border, not only in terms of apprehensions going down, showing that there's a lesser flow, but we're hearing from local law enforcement and local ranchers that they are seeing fewer people come across.

WIAN: That's not what we're hearing. These photographs were taken the morning after the Senate announced its Immigration Reform Compromise. Residents along California's eastern border say they've seen larger groups of illegal aliens crossing since the amnesty deal became public. It's an oft-repeated trend since President Bush first began discussing the Guest Worker Amnesty Program with former Mexican president, Vicente Fox, six years ago.

(on camera): The border patrol, however, says it has no evidence that more illegal aliens are now crossing in search of amnesty and no evidence they're crossing in larger groups. A spokesman says it's too soon to know for sure.

Casey Wian, CNN, Los Angeles.


HARRIS: A staple of the New York City experience, the yellow cab is going green. Susan Lisovicz at the New York Stock Exchange with more on making the Big Apple a little friendlier place to the environment, that is.

Susan, good morning to you.


HARRIS: A mom and her two children both graduate on the same day at the same time.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I'm going to go to both my kids graduation. I'm going to watch them both walk across the stage.


HARRIS: Double grads and double duty for a determined mom in the NEWSROOM.

COLLINS: He won his battle against cancer. Now, Tour de France winner Lance Armstrong goes to bat for cancer research in Texas. It's a big bill. We'll talk with him about it, ahead in the NEWSROOM.


HARRIS: You already know to catch us weekday mornings -- I don't know why I'm doing that -- from 9:00 a.m. until noon Eastern. But did you know you can take us with you anywhere on your iPod? The CNN NEWSROOM podcast available 24-7 right there on your iPod.

COLLINS: Striking out on his own, another wandering bear. This one in West Hartford, Connecticut. It's just a little guy, though, only about a year-and-a-half-old, 150 pounds. He ended up climbing a tree before being shot with a tranquilizer gun. Just the latest in a series of bear sightings. Why so many?


PAUL REGO, DEPT. OF ENVIRONMENTAL PROTECTION: Bears, that's the age when they first disperse from their mother's care, and that's the time that they typically do a lot of wandering and get into locations like this where they shouldn't be.


COLLINS: The bear is being taken to a more suitable location somewhere out in the woods.

HARRIS: How about this? One Florida mother, two children, their graduation ceremonies, different schools but the same time on the same day. What to do? What to do? A solution out of the blue.

Dalia Dangerfield of affiliate Bay News 9 explains.


DALIA DANGERFIELD, BAY NEWS 9 REPORTER (voice-over): It's a mother's dream watching her two children graduate from high school. For Brenda Nielsen, the moment is extra special.

BRENDA NIELSON, MOTHER OF TWO GRADUATES: They had a little bit more burden on them than most high school kids.

DANGERFIELD: Rebecca (ph) and Lloyd's father died during their freshman year, so these two struggled to focus on the grades to lead to this moment. They over came the odds.

REBECCA (ph) NIELSEN: Mom's kind of turned into dad.

DANGERFIELD: Now, mom is their biggest cheerleader, donning the red and the blue.

B. NIELSEN: (INAUDIBLE) graduating gown, his graduation gown, are almost identical.

DANGERFIELD: But these school colors present another challenge. You see, Rebecca (ph) graduated from Clearwater High, Lloyd from Palm Harbor, two schools with two different graduation locations, and both happening at the same time.

B. NIELSEN: How am I going to get to two kids, my husband's deceased. How am I going to get to both my kids' graduation? How am I going to watch them both walk across the stage?

DANGERFIELD: Then, they decided Brenda would watch her daughter walk across the stage. Lloyd said he was OK with that.

LLOYD NIELSEN, GRADUATE: And my mom also graduated from Clearwater, so to see her daughter graduate from the same school she graduated from would probably be something special.

DANGERFIELD: But a mother knew.

B. NIELSEN: He does say it doesn't matter. But we all know somewhere deep down inside, they both want their only parent there.

DANGERFIELD: There had to be a way. (on camera): Driving certainly wouldn't work, it takes about 30 minutes to get from Bright House Field (ph) to the truck. The only solution, was up there.

B. NIELSEN: I am scared of heights, I'm scared to fly, and I'm claustrophobic. And they're putting me in a little bitty helicopter.

DANGERFIELD (voice-over): Clearwater's High School Principal devised this plan. A couple of strangers donated the chopper, all it took was a lot of courage from mom. She braced herself.

B. NIELSEN: Oh, my gosh!

DANGERFIELD: But for Brenda, it was worth it. She cried for Rebecca, cheered for Lloyd, dilemma solved, and a family's graduation dream fulfilled.


HARRIS: How about that?

Now that graduation's over, Lloyd says he wants to become a nurse. Rebecca says she wants to become a teacher.

COLLINS: Funding to fight terrorism, is some of it money down the drain? New concerns about payments to Pakistan, in the NEWSROOM.


JUDY FORTIN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Anxiety and heart disease together could be a deadly combination. According to a new study published in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology, patients with heart disease and high levels of anxiety are twice as likely to have a heart attack than individuals with low anxiety. Chances of a heart attack increased as anxiety levels mounted.

Researchers in the U.S. and Australia found that people with a history of migraines are more likely to have damage to the retina of the eye, or retinothapy, a problem that can lead to severe vision problems or even blindness. An estimated 45 million Americans suffer from chronic headaches. But experts say limiting stress, recognizing triggers and exercising regularly can help control symptoms.

A comparison of healthcare in six wealthy nations found the U.S. ranked last in areas such as quality, access and healthy lifestyles. The Common Wealth Fund surveyed more than 20,000 people over three years and concluded that although the U.S. spends more per capita on healthcare, public satisfaction with the system remains low.

Judy Fortin, CNN.



COLLINS: Watching that story on a deadly row house fire in Baltimore. Officials say five people are dead and five others injured. The fire broke out around 7:00 this morning, trapping a number of people inside the home. Two of them suffered heart attacks. A firefighter is among the injured as well. We'll pass along more information just as soon as we get it.

HARRIS: And good morning again, everyone. You're with CNN, you're informed. I'm Tony Harris.

COLLINS: Hi everybody, I'm Heidi Collins.

Developments do keep coming in to the CNN NEWSROOM on Tuesday, May 22nd. Here's what's on the rundown. U.N. trucks try to bring help to besieged refugee camp, but they come under attack as soon as they go in. The three-day showdown between Lebanon's army and militants.

HARRIS: A compromise cooking on Capitol Hill over Iraq war funding. Democrats look ready to give the president what he wants, money for the troops without a withdrawal timeline.

COLLINS: Viagra and sleep-deprived airline passengers. The little blue pill, a jet lag elixir? Rise and shine, in the NEWSROOM.

HARRIS: And at the top this hour, in northern Lebanon, a third straight day of violence. As the day began, dark plumes of smoke filled the sky over a Palestinian refugee camp near Tripoli. Lebanese troops trying to flush out Islamic militants, but after word of a unilateral ceasefire, a U.N. relief convoy was attacked as it entered the camp.

CNN's Senior International Correspondent Nic Robertson on the ground near Tripoli.