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Firefighters' Salute; Report That Gitmo Could Close; Atlantis Tries Again

Aired June 22, 2007 - 10:59   ET


HEIDI COLLINS, CNN ANCHOR: Good morning once again, everyone.
I'm Heidi Collins, live in Charleston, South Carolina.

We are outside the coliseum that you see behind me where the memorial service is going on right now. The governor of South Carolina addressing the family members and fellow firefighters inside. We have already heard from the mayor some very encouraging words.

There will be much more to come from that. We are continuing to monitor it -- Tony.

TONY HARRIS, CNN ANCHOR: And good morning, everyone.

I'm Tony Harris at the CNN Center in Atlanta.

The terror prison at Guantanamo Bay another story that we're following this morning. A black eye for the U.S. the world over. Now a report the facility may soon close.

COLLINS: Want to take a moment to tell you a little bit more about what we have been seeing inside the coliseum behind me already this morning. Probably one of the most emotional moments was when the family members arrived, curbside right behind me here, and all coming in squad cars from different fire departments and police stations around the state of South Carolina. Almost like a personal escort.

And they walked down a very long line of men and women dressed in their uniforms from all over the country. The Honor Guard standing shoulder to shoulder to help get them from curbside into the coliseum.

Then we heard a beautiful prayer from the chaplain who we spoke with earlier today, Rob Dewey, talking about how the families just really need to be able to come together today to remember their lost loved ones.

And then we heard from Mayor Joe Riley, who has been the mayor of this city since 1975.

Let's listen for just a moment to some things he had to say.


MAYOR JOE RILEY, CHARLESTON, SOUTH CAROLINA: As they entered into that building, they walked into the pages of history of our community. These unassuming, humble, kind and brave men will now, and always be, historic figures. And we will find ways to honor them.

They will never be forgotten and their service will never end because they have touched and moved us and made us better. When they entered that building, they gave us now and those who follow us, local, the person next door as an example of how to lead our lives. And we will never be the same.

No, we may not be firefighters, but the lessons that were even more about life they gave us. About courage and duty and service. They inspire us today. They will inspire this community in all the days to come.


COLLINS: And inspire they do.

And again, we are now listening to the governor of South Carolina, Mark Sanford, giving his words of comfort to the family members and other firefighters inside.

I want to give you an idea about how many people are here. We've had an opportunity to walk around a little bit. And our best estimate is probably about 15,000 people or so. That would be all inside the coliseum. And then several people as I look around are standing outside and watching this huge JumboTron behind me.

So as we listen to some of the words from the governor, I also want to let you know some different parts of the country that these fellow firefighters have come from -- Seattle; southern California; Amarillo, Texas; it goes on and on. New York City, who also just yesterday lost a firefighter of their own. Toronto, Hammond, Indiana, I could go on and on. Everett, Washington.

They have really come together to help in the grieving process and the loss of these nine firefighters.

Tony, back now to you.

HARRIS: Heidi, I want to tell you about something that we're making available to you if you'd like to help. Want to direct you to our Web site, There you can help the firefighters' families. Send your contributions to the City of Charleston Firemen's Fund, Box 304, Charleston, South Carolina. The zip, 29402. And you can also donate at any Bank of America.

We will get back to Heidi in Charleston in just a couple of moments.

But in the meantime, the Gitmo prison camp a black eye on the U.S. reputation at home and abroad. Now a report the terror prison could close.

White House Correspondent Elaine Quijano is here. She's following the story for us.

Elaine, good to see you this morning. What are officials there saying about how close the White House is to making some kind of decision on Gitmo's future?

ELAINE QUIJANO, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Well, Tony, officials here insist that nothing is imminent. But what happened was that yesterday, The Associated Press was reporting that, in fact, officials were nearing a decision on the future of the detention facility at Guantanamo Bay, and that there was going to be a meeting here at the White House today to talk about just that.

Well, a short time ago in the off-camera briefing, White House Deputy Press Secretary Dana Perino told reporters there was, in fact, a meeting scheduled to discuss Guantanamo, but that late yesterday it was canceled.

Now, she did not elaborate on a reason. And asked whether the cancellation was because some officials in the administration were upset that information had been leaked about this issue, she said, look, people talk about Gitmo every day within the administration.

Now, privately, a senior administration official said that the AP's story was "overblown," that it's no secret President Bush has said for months publicly that he wants to move toward shutting down the detention facility. Officials also though say, Tony, that it is really just a matter of trying to figure out how to do that.

There's a lengthy process going on right now trying to renovate a prison in Afghanistan to try to get perhaps some of the detainees transferred over there. But that's going to take some time to renovate the facility, to train guards, to transfer detainees.

Also what's taking so long they say, Tony, is trying to get agreements with foreign governments to repatriate some of these detainees and at the same time get the assurances that the U.S. wants, that those detainees are not going to be released prematurely and that they're going to be treated humanely -- Tony.

HARRIS: So, Elaine, Mr. Bush's meeting with the president of Vietnam, is that what all the noise I hear around you is about?

QUIJANO: It is. We have some video to show you. Just a short time ago, a sizable crowd in front of the White House here along Pennsylvania Avenue. A couple hundred people have come out to demonstrate about this visit.

The president of Vietnam meeting with President Bush in the Oval Office this hour. We do expect them to answer questions from reporters at the end of that, but the White House certainly and human rights groups have not been happy with the treatment Vietnam has given to some of its dissidents inside the country.

In fact, President Bush himself recently complained about this issue during a trip to Europe, about the treatment of political and religious activists in Vietnam. That's certainly one of the topics the White House says the president is going to be raising in that meeting today. But it's a tricky relationship between the U.S. and Vietnam. Because at the same time, Vietnam is trying to attract more U.S. investment, more U.S. dollars into the country. Already there are some deep economic ties between these two countries, Tony, $9.7 billion in trade.

Right now, officials are saying, look, even as we're looking to move forward with Vietnam on these economic issues, we are still going to do what we can to hold Vietnam responsible for these human rights issues that are a concern of groups like this one outside the White House. They say President Bush certainly shares those concerns as well -- Tony.

HARRIS: Our White House correspondent, Elaine Quijano, for us this morning.

Elaine, thank you.


HARRIS: Another day of iffy weather for the space shuttle Atlantis. NASA eyeing landing sites in Florida and California.

Space Correspondent Miles O'Brien is watching the skies at the Kennedy Space Center.

Miles, great to see you.

Are we in that sort of typical summertime pattern where you get those afternoon and evening thunderstorms that could impact any kind of a landing in Florida?

MILES O'BRIEN, CNN ANCHOR: It sums it up pretty well, Tony. That's where we are right now. It's the second day of summer, and Florida is true to form so far.

Take a look at the weather conditions right around where we're standing. We're just a mile or so away from the runway here at the Kennedy Space Center. And looking to the sky, it's not a pretty picture.

Those clouds you can see right there are 1,500 feet above the surface. There's another layer at 7,000 feet you can't see. There's another layer up at 27,000 feet. That doesn't matter so much.

But both those two thick layers are violations of shuttle landing rules which say the cloud deck can be 8,000 feet or higher. So, at 1,500 feet, that's a violation right now. If they had to make a decision right now, they would probably not try to come back here for that expected landing at 2:18 p.m. Eastern Time, three hours seven minutes from now.

Take a look at the Melbourne, Florida, radar picture for just a moment. And that will give you a sense of what we're looking at here.

In addition to the low cloud decks, we'll be looking very closely for the possibility of showers or thunderstorms. Imagine a 30 nautical mile disk around that -- those words "shuttle landing strip".

Inside that disk, if there are showers, thunderstorms, the kinds of clouds associated with thunderstorms -- and they are forecast to be there an hour from when the decision is made to fire those rocket boosters -- they cannot land. Right now, the thundershower and shower picture looks good, but we are still three hours away. And as Tony pointed out, as the afternoon progresses, watch for some blips or returns on that radar.

Now, let's go to the West Coast, take a look there.

Edwards Air Force base, backup landing facility. It never rains in California, right? Well, take a look at the radar. It's as clear as a bell.

Well, that's not the radar. That's actually a picture of the shuttle landing strip there. Runway 22 is what they would aim for.

I can tell you, if you saw the radar right now you wouldn't see a darn thing. It's clear as a bell. The issue there, Tony, will be -- first of all, the first landing opportunity there will be 3:49 p.m. Eastern Time. That's when the winds start to pick up in the Mojave Desert. That's 12:48 local time.

And as the afternoon progresses, the winds will get greater and greater and start pushing the limits of acceptability for winds. So, we'll be watching that.

A good chance -- the smart money this morning is on a 3:49 p.m. Eastern Time landing at Edwards. But we'll see.

Now, let's just talk quickly about why we get so concerned about all these things.

First of all, you remember that -- I want to go back to space for a little bit. You remember that blanket repair in space.


O'BRIEN: They had a thermal blanket on the shuttle that peeled away, right? Danny Olivas, a space walker, got out, there stapled on a blanket. And there you see it. It was 4 by 6 inches. It didn't seem like too big a deal, but post-Columbia, everything is a big deal. And that experience is at least 1,000 degrees of heat.

Now, take a look at what happens as a shuttle comes in. We have some animation just to give you a sense of what goes on. Essentially from 5,000 miles away, it begins a one hour and five minute breaking action. And all that energy that goes into launching it into space has to be dissipated.

And it ends up being enveloped in this cloud of hot plasma, some cases 3,000 degrees. So you want to make sure that heat shield is good.

This long, slow-breaking maneuver is designed for the shuttle's energy to run out, just about where we are here, in Florida. Or if they go to California today, California.

And the winds would favor today a landing on runway 15, which is off to the southeast, coming in from the northwest. You can take a look at the long runway here, 15,000 feet.

And everybody's says, you know, why are they so sensitive about the weather? These are the best pilots in the world. You have got to remember that as this baby comes in, it is a quarter million pound, $2 billion glider...


O'BRIEN: ... which has the falling characteristics of a falling piano. And you're going to get one shot at landing, and they're the best in the world, but there's no go-rounds.

And so when you come down, you want to be right where you see there, right there, lined up on the runway, and get it right the first time -- Tony.

HARRIS: And the smart money is for what time this afternoon?

I'm going to put a stack of chips on 3:49 p.m. at Edwards Air Force base, which probably guarantees it will be here at 2:18.

HARRIS: OK, Miles. Appreciate it.

O'BRIEN: OK? All right.

HARRIS: Thanks for following that for us. My chips are right there next to yours.

All right. Let's go back to Heidi Collins now in Charleston, South Carolina.

Hi, Heidi.

COLLINS: Quickly want to turn things over, because standing behind me and speaking to the crowd is the fire chief of the Charleston City Fire Department. Let's listen in to what Chief Thomas has to say.


CHIEF RUSTY THOMAS, CHARLESTON CITY FIRE DEPT.: And I know everybody personally, on a personal basis.

Most of the families I know. The other night Chief Mullen from the police department said, "Is there anybody that you don't know?" when we were trying to find the families. And I said, "No, sir, that's a part of my job, is to know each member, besides just being a number and hiring the person. Each member of the fire department I know personally."

Out of these nine, I hired six. I promoted every single one of them to their ranks. Monday, June the 18th, is a day that our city will never forget. Never. We lost nine of the bravest men doing what they love to do best -- fight fire. Those guys were the best.

These men represented -- I want you to listen to this -- these men represented over 130 years of service to the city of Charleston Fire Department and to the city citizens of Charleston. I didn't say 130 days, 130 years. Three of them had over 90 years of experience between the three of them.

This is how Rusty Thomas is going to remember each one of these guys. I told you I would be OK if I got to this point.

Captain Mike Benke, he had family in the fire department since the early '50s and retired in 1965, Captain Benke. Captain Benke knew his job and performed it well all the time. Trained his people all the time. Was a go-getter when there was a fire after 29 years on the job.

Captain Billy Hutchinson. My dad, he nicknamed him "Lightning". I'm going to tell you why.

It's not because he moved so fast. My dad said lightning would have to strike around him to get him to move. That was Billy Hutchinson.

He would just kind of mope around the station until the alarm went off. And then it was time to go to work. And Billy Hutchinson went to work all the time.

I'm going to give you another little piece about Billy Hutchinson. He did something that a lot of people don't even dream about. He retired from the City of Charleston Fire Department and returned.

He called me. He said, "Before I do this, are you sure you're going to hire me back?" He said, "Because I have got to have a job." And I said, "Billy, you already got 28 years." And he said, "Yes, Chief, I want to continue to work."

And I hired him back, rehired him back.

Captain Louis Mulkey, what a guy. The Summerville town and community will lose a great, great person. He meant so much to the kids at Summerville from the football to the basketball, to anything (INAUDIBLE) wanted.

Louis was a substitute teacher at school. They knew his schedule at the fire department. When he got off from the fire department, he when to Summerville High School to substitute teach school.

On Monday, the battalion chief on that shift called me from Louis' station. Now, Louis thinks his station is the best in the Charleston Fire Department. He picks on everybody. He thinks his people are the best trained. And sometimes you have got to calm him down a little bit. So Chief Joe was talking to me on the phone. And Louis said something smart in the background which I didn't hear. And so he hung the phone up.

The phone rang right back and I looked at it and it said Battalion Chief Ackerman (ph). And I picked it up and it said -- I said, "Yes, sir, Chief. What do you need?" And it was Louis. You know what he said, "I just wanted to hear you call me Chief one time." And he hung the phone up.


That was on Monday. And he hung the phone up on me.

Engineer Brad Baity, now let me tell you about this guy. This guy would go to work on a 24-hour period and wouldn't say 10 words. And if he did say something, you had to say, "Brad, would you speak up a little bit? I can't hear what you're saying."

Brad knew his job. Brad was a quiet guy. They tell me I'm not a very good computer guy, but they tell me Brad was always on the computer talking to people all over the world.

So I don't know how they heard him. I guess he had to e-mail them or something because we couldn't hear him.

Mark Kelsey -- you know that little Energizer Bunny, that little pink bunny? That's Mark Kelsey.

Now, around the station Mark Kelsey...


THOMAS: Thank you.

Mark Kelsey, he didn't want to do too much of that sweeping of the floor and all that stuff, cleaning the toilets and checking the truck off like he's supposed to. All Mark Kelsey wanted to do was fight fire. That was Mark Kelsey.

He was kind of like one of them roosters (ph) when you go to a fire. He was here and he was there and he was there. And he was only about -- you would think the guy is 6'3". He ain't but about 5'5. You k now?

Mark Kelsey. He loved firefighting so much, on his part-time job, he worked at Ashley (ph) River Fire Department. For a while, he lived at Ashley (ph) River Fire Department 24 hours, worked there two days, and would come work with us one day. So tell me that guy didn't like firefighting.

Assistant Engineer Michael French. Now, he's only been with me about two years. Michael French got everybody in the Charleston Fire Department to talk for him to get a job.

He was a member of the St. Andrews Fire Department. Everybody from Ben Waring (ph) to Randy Thompson (ph) to Richie Waring (ph), everybody, every time I'd see somebody, "Chief, why don't you hire Michael French?" "Why don't you hire Michael French?"

Finally, I'll tell you how he got an interview. My secretary said, "Chief, please give Michael French an interview. He comes up here every day."

He got to the point where, if he knew I would be at the mechanics shop first thing in the morning, he would be next door at the IHOP waiting for me to get out of the car. "Chief, you got any openings? You got any openings?"

That was Michael French.

Another little story about Michael French. We had to use one of our reserve trucks the other day. My mechanic was over there trying to show Michael how to drive the reserve ladder truck. And my mechanic was showing him and I was standing watching.

And I told Michael -- he said, "Man, Chief," -- he said, "How old is this truck?" I said, "It's a 1983 model." He said, "The truck is older than me." And I said, "Michael, I know."

But he tried and tried. When he came to the office to get a job -- this is a true story -- I hire everybody. It doesn't go through my human resource department.

Michael sat in front of me and he didn't want to know about the pay. He didn't want to know about the insurance. He could care less. Here was his question, "Hey, Chief, when do I get one of them badges?" And I said, "Michael, you have got to go through the recruit class first. I just can't give you a badge. You've got to get trained and all that stuff."

He said, "I'm just ready to go." So out he left. You know, right by my secretary's desk. And she said, "Is he going to sign any papers?" I said, "I don't think so. He's just going on. He wants a job."

Melvin Champaign.


THOMAS: I'm not going to tell my age, but I went to school with Melvin's cousin, Carl (ph). There's a street over there on James Island named after the Champaign family. It's called Champaign Lane. It's right -- I pass it every single day.

Carl (ph) called me. I hadn't heard from Carl (ph) since 1977. We were in school.

He said, "Hey, Rusty." He said, "My cousin Melvin wants a job." And I said, "Well, Carl (ph), you know, what kind of job?" "He wants to be a fireman."

He said, "Now, let me tell you" -- you know, you're not supposed to ask how old they are and stuff like that. You know what he said? "Now he's kind of old."

So I didn't have a clue how old Melvin was. So I said, "Well, why don't you send him on down to the office?" Not knowing that Melvin was ever going to come to the office. I never met Melvin Champaign.

Melvin came to the office. I mean, he was decked out.

He had on I guess you call it a leather hat with a feather sticking out of it. And he sat down and he -- this is what he wanted to know. "Hey, Chief, man, I just want to help people. I just want to help somebody. That's all."

He said (INAUDIBLE). And I got thinking in my mind, you know, this guy, he must be in some kind of trouble or something. He just needs a job bad, because -- and I said, "Melvin, have you been to the fire academy?" "No, sir."

I said, "Well, we've got to send you to the" -- "I'll go."

So he went to the fire academy. Graduated from the fire academy, got a job with us.

Go up to the training tower, watched them while they were training. I said, "Melvin" -- I said, "How you doing?" "Oh, Chief, I'm doing all right today. I'm doing all right today."

And I went up there in a couple days, "Chief, things ain't going so good today." And I said -- but every day he'd come to that training tower, he was decked out.

Even though we were going to work hard and put on protective equipment, he had on his clothes and he was ready to go to work. Melvin Champaign.

I told Carl (ph) the other night -- Carl (ph) said, "You know what, Chief? He wouldn't have gotten a job if I didn't call you. All right?"

I said, "That's exactly right. He wouldn't have, Carl (ph)." But you called me, I hired a good person, because he wanted to help people. That was him.

Earl Drayton. Oh, my gosh.


THOMAS: He's been a firefighter longer than me. We came in the fire department together, except he was about a year or so ahead of me.

We worked on Cannon Street together. And I've got to tell you this story. This always sticks in my mind. And I told you before I started, these are the stories, if I got to this part of the program I was going to be OK talking about them, because I love talking about them. We were sitting -- back then we weren't married, we were kind of young. We'd stay up to 2:00 or 3:00 in the morning at the fire station. And we'd never go to bed.

And we got a call one night. And I was the driver. Earl has never been a driver of the truck. All he wanted to do was be a fireman.

And I was the driver of the truck. And I promise you, this is a true story, 1977.

We get a call like 3:00 in the morning for a house fire at St. Phillip and Morris. So I get around, and I crank the truck up. And he's hollering, "Rusty, get this going!" And I said, "What's the problem? I'm going as fast" -- he said, "That's my house."


THOMAS: And it was. And there was a hot water heater on fire. But he wanted me to get this thing -- I mean, he had in his head -- he opened up the window, he said, "Get this thing going!" And I was going as fast as I can.

I mean, you know, Earl Drayton. Retired and returned.

He came to me and he wanted to retire and return. He had 30 years on the job. And he came to the office, same like Billy Hutchinson did.

And I said, "Yeah, I'll hire you." He said, "Man, I'm 56 years old. I don't want to go nowhere."

I said, "Well, why don't you do that retire return thing, if you want to do that?" "Are you going to give me a job?" I said, "Yes, I'll give you a job. And I did."

Now, Earl and Captain Billy and Captain Benke, all of them, you have to understand, engines 16 and 19, are in one station. They own two separate trucks but one station.

Now, Earl was in 16. Captain Billy had an opening in 19.

You know, you're supposed to go through the chain of command, and all this kind of stuff to go from one station to another if you want to go, blah, blah, blah. Well, Earl, you know, he just calls me on my cell phone. "Hey, Chief, nobody knows, but man, can I go over there next door with Captain Billy Hutchinson?"

I said, "You're in the same station with him." I said, "What's the deal?" "But I'd sure like to be on the truck with him."

I said, "Are you sure he wants you?" "Yeah, he does. We'll make a good team."

"All right. Go next door. I'll call Captain Benke and tell him you're going to be in 19." Last week I saw Earl over at station 11. He's sitting in the back. Now, the ones of you who know Earl, Earl's always got his hand in his pocket and he's shaking around what little bit of change he's got. That's him.

When he's talking to you, I don't know if he's lying to you or what, but he's shaking that change. And he said, "Chief" -- he said, "Are you going to move me?" And I said, "Earl, I'm getting ready to move the whole station on (INAUDIBLE) to a new fire station next month."

And he says -- I said, "Listen, as long as you're in the fire department, you're going to stay in 19, you and Captain Billy. And that's the end of the story."

The next day, I get a phone call from Captain Billy. "Hey, Chief. Earl said you're moving me."


THOMAS: I said, "I am. I'm moving the whole station, and you included."

But that was Earl Drayton. That's Earl Drayton right there. Over and over.

Brandon Thompson. Brandon came to me (INAUDIBLE). Brandon's Summerville, worked at Summerville Fire Department, wanted a job with me. Brandon came to me for a job, and I gave him a job.

Now, Brandon, every time he'd get a little nose dribble he wanted to go out sick. Well, back in November, Brandon showed up at the office one day downstairs with his dad. He's got a cast on his right leg and a set of crutches.

And they're waiting on me. And I said, "What's the problem here?" He said, "Chief, I was helping a friend of mine cut a tree and the tree fell on my leg and I broke my leg. I think I'll be out three months."

I said, "We got a problem." His dad said, "Yes, sir, we do, Chief. He ain't got no money."


THOMAS: And I said, "Brandon, I'm telling you, what you want me to do? You got a broke leg. We don't have a lot of one-legged firemen around here."

Brandon said, "Man, Chief, can you just give me something to do? Please just give me something to do."

And I did. I gave him a job in my mechanics shop going around testing fire hydrants.

The other night, his dad would not leave the scene, and he told me that until they brought Brandon out. He said, "Chief, I'm not leaving until you find him and you bring him out." And I respect that. And I did that night.

And he wanted to know if his son, his other son, could help bring Brandon out. And we let that happen. You know what Mr. Thompson told me? He said, you know what, chief, if you wouldn't have done that to Brandon to try to help him out, I don't know what Brandon would have done with his life. That was just a small thing. But you see, all these memories of everybody that I've got, I told you if I made it to this part I'd do OK, because that's the kind of memories and that's the kind of relationship I have with every single one of these guys and every single one of those guys back there that belonged to me, every single one of them that I hired or promoted or worked for me or worked for the citizens. The citizens of Charleston lost nine great people. They did. They lost nine great people. I want to tell you, I'm almost done. Many of us went to New York after 9/11. I got a T- shirt.

HEIDI COLLINS, CNN ANCHOR, NEWSROOM: We have been listening into Charleston Fire Chief Rusty Thomas, offering just really an incredible and jovial, very, very personal moment. So good to hear that people who are inside that coliseum and hurting so much, so good to hear them laughing. He's just quite a character. He had had a story about each and every one of them. All nine of his friends, as he made so clear to us, the day after this tragedy happened, that he, too, lost nine of his very best friends. We still hear him in the background. Charleston city fire chief, Rusty Thomas. We're going to take a quick break. We'll be back in just a moment.


TONY HARRIS, CNN ANCHOR, NEWSROOM: More miles to the gallon, an energy bill passed by the Senate would raise mileage standards for cars and trucks for the first time in 20 years. Senators approved the bill by a vote of 65-27. Under the measure, auto makers would have to meet a fleet-wide mileage standard of 35 miles a gallon by 2020. That includes small trucks and SUVs. The current standard is 27.5 miles per gallon for cars and 22.2 for SUVs. Democrats also pushed for higher taxes on the oil industry but Republicans successfully blocked that effort.

The media's take on an African-American celebration, politicians on poverty and the fashion police, out in force in Louisiana. All hot topics today. And here to weigh in on those topics, there he is, CNN contributor, Roland Martin. Roland, great to see you. Good Friday to you, doctor.


HARRIS: Let me start with -- show you these pictures from Tuesday. I guess we got them in late Tuesday, Juneteenth celebrations that turned violent. I'll show you the pictures out of Milwaukee. Here's the story. I guess a man was pulled from a car and beaten, police show up, then we get, this Roland. Look at this confrontation. Are we beginning to have problems with the Juneteenth celebrations around the country? This is a day set aside to commemorate the day Texas slaves received word that they had been freed. What do you think? What's your take on this?

MARTIN: Take is simple, that you have some crazy, ignorant, thuggish folks who don't know how to behave in public. I don't think it has any correlation between Juneteenth. The incident in the Austin, the police have now changed their story. They say it was not 2,000 to 3,000 people. In fact it did not even take place near the Juneteenth celebration. So that was a separate deal. But the two cases, yeah, Milwaukee, but you also have Syracuse where frankly you had a bunch of young folks who got out of control. Now, what you have is --

HARRIS: Roland, Roland, Roland, Roland aren't there real tensions in inner city communities between --


HARRIS: Between young blacks and the police forces of these communities?

MARTIN: Of course you have that, but this was a celebration. The cops didn't come in until after the fact. You have folks who don't know how to behave. Tony, here's the other piece. Whenever you have celebrations, (INAUDIBLE) NCAA championship, whether it's basketball or football, you had on college campuses overturned stuff, bonfires, overturned cars. You have mayhem there as well. People don't know how to be -- young folks don't know how to behave at celebrations. It is not a day to start fights and all of a sudden get into it with the cops. I don't -- there's a correlation between Juneteenth events and the violence. There are other Juneteenth events where you didn't have any drama. There's just some folks who are downright stupid.

HARRIS: Where do young people -- where do young people, young black folks to go to sort of express their discontent, perhaps their outrage, maybe they're taking this day and using it as an opportunity to say, hey, look, take a look at my condition, take a look at what's going on in my community.

MARTIN: No, they're not.


MARTIN: No, Tony, you put way too much thought into this.


MARTIN: These are some people who are a damn fool, who are crazy, who want to go to a party and who want to start something and all of a sudden it ends. I will not make excuses for thuggish behavior.

HARRIS: Right,.

MARTIN: It's a Juneteenth celebration, it's a party. There are picnics. There are parades. There's music. That's what you do at a party. They just want to act a fool. You can't explain pulling a guy out of a car and beating him. You can't. I'm sorry.

HARRIS: You can't.

MARTIN: They're absolutely crazy, just like same thing, if you got a bunch of white kids on a college campus and they win the NCAA championship, they turn cars over and set stuff on fire and get arrested.

HARRIS: Roland, aren't you at least troubled, aren't you at least troubled by the fact that this is the context where we most often see young black folks and we see them acting thuggish and misbehaving. That's the only time we turn our cameras on and the time they get on CNN is when they're behaving this way. What about the larger story? Maybe it's a discontent story, maybe it's a poverty story and does anybody care about this demographic? Does anybody care about this demographic accept when they're misbehaving and acting a fool to use your words.

MARTIN: Let me tell you something, my radio show for WVON in Chicago, the only all black-owned station in the city is black talk and my audience was outraged and said they were a bunch of thugs as well. You're absolutely right. We need to have a broader story to be able to showcase those young folks who are doing good, who are doing well, who are not acting a fool. These folks acting a fool. All the people out there who are listening, saying you must be one of those uppity black folks who want to hold your people (INAUDIBLE). No, they're crazy. There's no home training. I'm telling you, if I had a niece or a nephew who acted a fool, I would beat their behinds after the cops beat their behinds.

HARRIS: Roland --

MARTIN: I'm not going to make excuses.

HARRIS: No,, I had three other topics that I wanted to talk about with you but I'm going to leave it there. You have shown out today. You have done your thing. Roland Martin, it is great to see you.

MARTIN: Trust me, we can talk about baggy pants. Pull your pants up, too.

HARRIS: I made a bit of an editorial decision here not to go there. Look at this.

MARTIN: Look at that. Pull your pants up! A grown man walking around with his pants around his waist. Pull your pants up! That came directly out of the prisons. Look at that. He has to walk around holding his pants. What are you doing with the other hand? I don't want to hear that. came directly out of the prisons. I refuse to allow people to accept thug prison culture and then say that's our culture. That's crazy.

HARRIS: According to the mayor of this small town in Louisiana, if you expose some of your privates, the crack of your behind, if somebody feels insulted they should press charges. Yes, Roland?

MARTIN: Go right ahead. Press charges after they press their pants. Look at that. Look, it can't -- Tony, it came out of the prison culture.


MARTIN: This is not black culture. It's not hip-hop culture. They have embraced what took place in prison. I refuse to accept anything that's coming out of a prison culture. It's not black. It's not hip-hop and I'm telling you, I have two -- three nephews. If they wore some pants like that, I'd smack the hell out of them, Tony.

HARRIS: Roland.

MARTIN: In a heartbeat.

HARRIS: Roland. All right, Roland, we're done.

MARTIN: I'm sorry. I'm sorry.

HARRIS: Come on back next week, let me know what's got you.

MARTIN: Call me back, happy to be here.

HARRIS: Roland Martin. Have a great weekend. Man!

MARTIN: Will do. I'll be wearing pants on my waist.

HARRIS: Still to come in the NEWSROOM this morning -- that's the Roland Martin experience there. Probe at the park, a ride malfunctions. A girl's feet actually severed just above the ankles. A look at what happened, coming up.

And baptism by fire. A river rescue class turns into a real-life drama. See the amazing pictures for yourself in the NEWSROOM.

And cute baby boys but are they smart? A new study about intelligence and pecking order.


HARRIS: "Your World Today" coming up in about 15 minutes at the top of the hour right here on CNN. There he is, the man, Stephen Frazier (ph) here with a preview. Stephen, good morning.

STEPHEN FRAZIER, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Mr. Harris, sir, how are you?

HARRIS: Outstanding, thanks doctor. We are very busy here and we're wondering whether this nuclear standoff with North Korea is any closer to a resolution. Of course, there is a top nuclear envoy in Pyongyang right now. A surprise visit lasting two days which he said was fruitful. But it's very hard to understand exactly what was accomplished. Our John Vause will try to explain it to us and see if we're any closer.

Then we're going to go to school to learn about life in the United States. Credit cards, climate and, you know, who on the screen in the front of the class, you would consider to be an American. The class is for Iranians who have fled religious persecution in their country. They are (INAUDIBLE) They are now in Turkey and they're hoping to end up in the United States. And what these teachers in Istanbul tell them about the United States is really fascinating. It's interesting to have their perspective. Arwa Damon reports for us from the back of the class.

And then we have a report that's a special for Tony Harris. Like they say, a special to "The New York Times." This is the new look for soldiers in Israel where all men and women face compulsory military service. Some of them though have been posing for the pages of "Maxim" magazine. And so we are going to give you an extended look at their non-regulation uniform here, Tony. You'll want to stick around for this.

HARRIS: Wow, that's --

FRAZIER: This beats those baggy pants that you were just talking about on your end.

HARRIS: By that much. Ok. Stephen, thank you. See you at the top of the hour.

An investigation today at a Louisville amusement park. It follows a gruesome accident at Six Flags Kentucky Kingdom. A teenage girl injured on the superman tower of power, her feet severed above her ankles, possibly by a broken cable. The ride drops passengers 154 feet in highway speeds, stopping just above the pavement. A witness describes what he saw.


TREVA SMITH, WITNESS: We seen the cable break loose as soon as it got to the top on the right-hand side. As the ride came down, the wires swung left, struck the young lady.


HARRIS: Well, the ride is closed today. The unidentified girl was taken to university hospital in Louisville. Hospital officials said she underwent surgery last night. There's no word on her condition.

A rafter's worst nightmare. Take a look at these pictures, getting thrown into the water in the middle of some treacherous rapids. That happened to this woman in Bakersfield, California. Her bad luck turned out great in an instant. Take a look at this. After being thrown in the water, she happened to float by a swift water rescue class. Can you believe it? A student went into action and threw her a life line. She grabbed it and she was pulled to safety. A classic case of being in the right place at the right time.

Still to come in the NEWSROOM, critical condition. A Los Angeles hospital could have its license revoked for allegedly putting patients in life-threatening jeopardy.

STEPHANIE ELAM, CNN CORRESPONDENT: I'm Stephanie Elam at the New York Stock Exchange. It's been the most talked about stock debut since Google. But it almost didn't happen. I'll explain, coming up next. You're watching CNN, the most trusted name in news.


HARRIS: So you think your baby will grow up to be an Einstein? Consider a new study on male intelligence. Researchers in Norway say intelligence depends on birth order. They found the highest average IQ scores among first-born males, three full points higher than his closest sibling. Interestingly second borns tended to have higher IQs than third born children. Researchers say their results prove environment, not biology is behind the uptick in smarts. Note this, most Nobel prizes for science have gone to first borns. Did you know?

To business news now. It has been called the most anticipated stock offering since Google and investors are scrambling to get a piece of the action. Stephanie Elam is at the New York Stock Exchange for us this morning with more on Blackstone's IPO. Boy, I've been hearing a lot about that over the last couple of weeks. Stephanie, good morning to you.0

ELAM: Good morning Tony. Everyone's been hearing about this. It was just yesterday in fact that it was one of the biggest private equity firms and now it's public. Blackstone Group shares priced at $31 at the top of the expected range, valuing the piece of the company being sold at a mere $4.1 billion. It also makes it the biggest IPO in the U.S. since 2002 and the sixth largest ever. And shares are on fire, Tony. They are up 15 percent right now. That means Blackstone as a whole is worth around $40 billion. And that's comparable to a Wall Street firm like Lehman Brothers.

The offering confirms just how hot private equity is right now. These firms buy struggling companies on mostly borrowed cash and go on to sell them for what can be a hefty profit. In fact, Blackstone controls more than 40 companies including things you've heard of, like Universal Studios Florida. How about Equity Office Properties Trust? You may not know them so much by that name, but they're a real estate company. They own Duncan Hines, Mrs. Butterworth. There's a lot of things they own Tony that you definitely know.

HARRIS: There was some drama on Capitol Hill yesterday, Stephanie. And for a while there, it looked like this IPO might not happen.

ELAM: Yes, there was a little friction there for a minute. What the issue is here is taxes. Private equity groups are now taxed at a 15 percent rate and lawmakers want them to pay the corporate tax rate of 35 percent. Several lawmakers yesterday urged the SEC to delay the IPO until Congress had a chance to have hearings on the matter. By the way, the success of Blackstone's offering may have prompted another big buyout firm to follow suit, Kohlberg Kravitz Roberts --


ELAM: Yes, exactly, which became famous for its takeover of RJR Nabisco back in the '80s. Well, they're reportedly planning an IPO of their own. So you see how this one goes. Other people are paying attention. Now while Blackstone may be a very hot story today, the market overall is not hot. Stocks are sharply lower. Once again, worries about higher interest rates are the focus. The Federal Reserve's next rate decision comes next week so we're seeing a little bit of holding out before that.

Checking the numbers, the Dow off 74 points, off about half a percent at 13,472 and the Nasdaq is off by 3/4 of a percent, off 18 points at this time Tony. We'll keep our eyes on it, of course. Until then, back to you.

HARRIS: Have a great weekend, Miss Stephanie.

ELAM: You, too.

HARRIS: See you next week. A hospital emergency in California not for patients but for the hospital itself. The state department of health services says it is taking steps to revoke the license for the troubled Martin Luther King Jr. Harbor hospital. It has been plagued by claims of substandard care. The move if successful, could eventually force the public hospital to close but the director of the county's health agency says the hospital is taking corrective action.


DR. BRUCE CHERNOF, LA COUNTY HEALTH SERVICES: ... fundamental changes in how the emergency room operates, changing the staffing model, putting in place new systems and simplifying other processes to really address the specific concerns raised by CMS.


HARRIS: Just last month, a woman died after writhing untreated on the floor of the emergency room lobby for 45 minutes. That put the hospital under renewed scrutiny.

COLLINS: I'm Heidi Collins, live in Charleston, South Carolina. The ending of the memorial service now taking place behind me for the nine firefighters killed here on Monday night. As we listen in to "taps" and then "Amazing Grace." Let's go ahead and take a break for just a moment.


COLLINS: You hear three series of five ringing bells. That was the last alarm or the last bell that signifies the fact that a fireman has not made it back safely to the fire house and that one has died. That was the alarm that the firefighters here in South Carolina heard several times over. That's it for our coverage today here live from Charleston, South Carolina, I'm Heidi Collins.

HARRIS: And I'm Tony Harris. Heidi, see you on Monday.