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Hurricane Felix Makes Landfall; Kelley's Island Crash; Jon Voight On Iraq; North Korea On Terror List

Aired September 04, 2007 - 10:00   ET


HEIDI COLLINS, CNN ANCHOR: Now the answer to our news quiz. Before the break we asked you the last time two category five hurricanes made landfall in the same season. The answer? Way back in 1886.
Good morning, everybody. I'm Heidi Collins. Tony Harris has the day off.

Stay informed all day right here in the CNN NEWSROOM. Here's what's on the rundown.

Category five hurricane batters Central America. Felix threatening Honduras and Nicaragua with wind and water.

Hot with a good chance of rolling blackouts. Southern California's power grid under siege by an overbearing heat wave.

And a developing story now. Rescuers searching for a father and his young son. Their small plane down in Lake Erie today.

Tuesday, September 4th. You are in the CNN NEWSROOM.

Our top story this morning, along the Central American coastline this hour, a head-on collision with a fearsome hurricane. Right now Felix is battering the shore along Nicaragua's border with Honduras, making landfall as a category five. A potentially catastrophic storm. CNN has reporters all across the hurricane zone. We begin our coverage now with Harris Whitbeck. He's in La Ceiba, Honduras.

Harris, tell us what's going on there.


We're just beginning to feel a light drizzle here, which would be some of the very, very outer-most bounds of this system. Nothing compared to what is being endured right now across the border in Nicaragua. We just spoke with the Nicaraguan minister of health, who is hold up in a hospital in Puento Caresas (ph), which is right at the heart of where this hurricane is passing through. She says she is there with about 50 patients.

She said the winds are very, very strong. She described the rain storms as being incredible. She said some roofing has been ripped off houses in this community of about 50,000 people. She said some roofs that were over shelters had also been ripped off and those people had to be moved quite quickly into the hospital. She said last night an emergency delivery was performed. A woman had a baby boy an she said that both the baby and the mother are fine.

But she did say that the situation right now is very, very dramatic. People are very, very frightened. She described very intense winds, very, very loud winds and that people are hoping that it will soon be over. She expects the storm to pass through there in about an hour. And at that time, she said, they will be prepared to go out an see if there are any serious damage and any injuries that might have to be dealt with.

There is concern here among the Honduran government about the fate of some 14,000 Miskito Indians who were not able to evacuate their areas yesterday. The government had been looking for fuel for boats to get these people out and they said they couldn't get them out in time.

So this storm is, obviously, approaching. It's well on its way towards the central part of Honduras. And the concern there, of course, is there could be lots of rain and mudslides.


COLLINS: Oh, man. So, obviously, much more of this story to come. Harris Whitbeck for us this morning.

Harris, thank you. We'll check back next hour with you.

Right now we want to check in, though, with Rob Marciano in the Weather Center for us for the very latest on the path of this storm, of this hurricane.

Rob, what's the latest?

ROB MARCIANO, CNN METEOROLOGIST: Well, it's continuing westward. And now the eye is beginning to fill just a little bit.

We have limited observation sites. Although there is one observation site that just 10 miles south of where the eye hit that showed a wind sustained at 44 knots. So just not even hurricane force winds. So you get an idea just how tight this circulation is. Most of the damaging winds just to the north of the center. So right in through here is where you're likely seeing that 100-plus mile-an-hour winds.

So the track is pretty straight forward. As you see this eye begin to fill in, it will head in a westerly direction. And we're likely at like cat three status right now, cat three or four. And the next advisory to come out from the National Hurricane Center will be in the next 40 minutes and that may very well indicate that. But right now we have to go on what they last said, which was category five status.

It will weaken quickly now. It does not have the moisture source of the ocean. The fuel it needs. And then it's going to hit some mountains. So it will weaken quickly as far as the winds are concerned, but those mountains are going to dump 10, 15, in some cases, 20 inches of rainfall out of those clouds. And landslides, mudslides, typically the case in this part of the world, is going to become the bigger issue.

All right. Hurricane number two. And this one's going to make landfall in the next few hours. Henriette, cat one, heading towards Cabo. It is about 80 miles south of there and it is heading straight in that direction. So as far as the track for this one is concerned, we're looking at timing of it to make landfall sometime later on this afternoon as a category one storm. It gets back into the Baja and then into northern Mexico.

Notice that some of this action, or at least in the form of rainfall, will eventually get into the United States by way of the southwest deserts. But they'll take the rain. Hopefully it won't be too much at any one time.

So that's the latest on Felix, still punishing Nicaragua. And the next step, Heidi, will be going from a windmaker to an intense rainmaker. And that's not good either.

COLLINS: Yes, no, not good at all for those mudslides.

All right, Rob, we'll be watching it closely with you. Thanks so much.

If you see severe weather happening in your area, send us an i- Report. Go to and click on the i-Report or type into your cell phone. You can share your photos or video with us that way. Just stay safe while doing it, please.

Keeping cool in a heat wave. Almost impossible right now for thousands of people in southern California. But forecasters say relief may be in sight. Triple-digit temperatures causing big problems from Los Angeles to San Diego. Power outages have left thousands of people without air conditioning. The situation in San Diego is so severe a power emergency is now in place there. Authorities preparing for potential rolling blackouts as demand for electricity surges.

New now this morning, a pair of deadly bombings shaking Pakistan. At least 21 people killed, 74 wounded in the blast in Rawalpindi. That's just south of the capital of Islamabad and it is the headquarters of Pakistan's military. The first explosion destroyed a bus that was carrying government workers. The second killed people in a commercial district. No groups have claimed responsibility.

Also new this morning, death by hanging. An Iraqi judge says three former members of Saddam Hussein's regime will be executed within 30 days. An appeals court upholding the conviction of Hussein's cousin, known as Chemical Ali, and two former military commanders. They were convicted for their role in the massacre of some 100,000 Kurds in the 1980s.

Fresh off summer vacation, back into the debate over the Iraq War. The Senate Foreign Relations Committee hears an independent assessment of the war's progress today. It's from the Government Accountability Office. The GAO's draft report says Iraq has not made much political headway in recent months. Military commanders may paint a different picture, though. They report to Congress next week.

President Bush departs Iraq. But the debate over the war follows him to his next stop. Right now he's in Australia for trade talks with Pacific Rim countries. He'll also meet with Australian Prime Minister John Howard, one of his most loyal allies. But the prime minister's support of the war could cost him his re-election bid. Anti-war protestors staged what they called an unwelcoming ceremony for President Bush. A number of protests are planned, including one event that organizers say could draw some 20,000 demonstrators.

The APEC summit comes on the heels of the president's surprise visit to Iraq. There he hinted the number of U.S. troops could be reduced. Next week Congress will hear a progress report from the top military commander in Iraq.

Want to get back to T.J. Holmes now in the news room following this story for us. A plane crash into Lake Erie. Father and nine- year-old son still missing.

T.J. HOLMES, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Still missing. Word is right now that there has been some wreckage of that plane recovered. However, still no sign of the nine-year-old and the father.

The good news in this story, if there is a highlight, is that there was another child on board this plane, a seven-year-old who was on board as well. He has been rescued. When the plane went down at about 9:30 last night off Kelley's Island, going down into Lake Erie, went off -- actually went down about a half-mile off that island.

Someone saw the plane go down and decided to go out and try to help. That person actually rode a boat out and picked up this seven- year-old boy, who is also the son of the man who was on board as well. And the seven-year-old is said to be now in good condition. Now the rescuers and authorities right now not saying, and don't exactly know how this child was able to survive, how he was able to get out. But, in fact, he did and is said to be in good condition right now. But the fate of his father, a 46-year-old man, and also this boy's nine- year-old brother still no sign of them.

This family was from Lima, Ohio, nearby there in Ohio. But the names of these folks have not been released just yet. They were in a small plane, a Cessna aircraft. Don't know exactly what was going on. Not sure if the weather conditions right now that were there last night. But the plane went down. Not exactly sure why. No word of any mayday or any signs of any kind of trouble. But the plane went down in Lake Erie.

But the search continues today with several boats, a helicopters, divers back in the water, still searching, still hoping to get some sign of the 46-year-old man and his nine-year-old son. So we're keeping an eye on this, hoping for some good news.

Again, we did have that bit of good news. Remarkable story that the seven-year-old was able to survive. Someone went out and picked that child up. So a wonderful part to this story. We're hoping for some more good news today.

But it continues. They're focusing on the area where some of that wreckage was picked up and, of course, also where they see some oil sheen. But still right now no sign of the father and the son but we're keeping an eye on it.

COLLINS: OK. Very good. In fact, T.J., we are just getting some more information in here. We have the chief of police with us now, Chief Ronald Ehrbar, who is here to tell us more about it. The Kelley's Island chief of police.

Can you hear me, chief?


COLLINS: Tell us what you know at this point. We've been reporting this morning that a search continues right now for a father and his nine-year-old son who were on board this small plane that crashed in your area.

EHRBAR: That is correct.

COLLINS: What else can you tell us at this point?

EHRBAR: They're still out there. They found some more parts, more debris. And other than that, there's not too much more to report.

COLLINS: I know that the Coast Guard is working very hard to try and locate these two individuals. Is that the extent -- are they the divers? Are they with the Coast Guard?

EHRBAR: They're with the Coast Guard. And then we have some divers from some other cities in the area.

COLLINS: Have you been able to determine where they took off from or where they were headed?

EHRBAR: I believe they were headed back to Lima, Ohio. They took off from Kelley's Island.

COLLINS: OK. Very good.

The even-year-old boy, do you know his condition? Is he doing OK?

EHRBAR: I was with him last night when they life flighted him off the island to St. Vincent Charity in Toledo. But beyond that, I don't have anything further.

COLLINS: How did his emotional state seem to you?

EHRBAR: Well, to go through something like that, I don't know about his emotional state. He was talking and was very aware of what was going on.

COLLINS: OK. Well, we certainly appreciate your information this morning. Chief of police from Kelley's Island, Ohio, Ronald Ehrbar, thanks so much, as that search continues for the father and nine-year-old son who crashed into Lake Erie. A Cessna aircraft there. A small, private plane. We will continue to follow this story for you and bring you any updates should they happen.

Meanwhile, a possible shark attack in south Florida. It happened in Ft. Lauderdale. Man says he was in waist-deep water when he felt the bite. Police say he suffered a deep cut on his wrist and needed stitches. He's otherwise OK. We'll tell you more about that coming up in just a moment right here in the CNN NEWSROOM.


COLLINS: Welcome back, everybody. I'm Heidi Collins. You are in the CNN NEWSROOM.

A family's memorial in the hills of Arizona. One young girl dead. Her sister on the slow road to recovery this morning. More about the mine shaft tragedy.

Also, six students accused in a schoolyard beating. The possibility of 22 years in prison.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Those are kids. They are kids. You're just going to ruin these kids' life.


COLLINS: The racially charged case of Louisiana's Jena Six in court today. What happened under this tree.

And father, daughter and the war debate. What Jon Voight says about Angelina Jolie's trip to Iraq.

Kayakers trapped under a bridge and the river's rising fast. Dramatic rescue ahead.


COLLINS: Rescue on a rising river. Several boaters safe this morning after getting trapped by a fast-moving current in Hull, Massachusetts. It happened over the weekend. The kayakers were in danger of being swept down a culvert under a bridge. Rescue crews responded quickly. One firefighter got in the water, as you can see, to lift the boater out. Everyone made it out safely.

Actor Jon Voight at odds with some of his fellow stars and his own daughter. The issue -- the war in Iraq. CNN's Ted Rowlands was listening in.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE) JON VOIGHT, ACTOR: These left -- extreme left believes that we, as Americans, are responsible, actually, for bullying other nations. Needless to say, it's the reverse. We've kept all nations free of so many onslaughts against them.

TED ROWLANDS, CNN CORRESPONDENT, (voice over): Angelina Jolie's father wasn't acting when he ranted about liberals on the "John Ziegler Show" on Los Angeles radio station KFI. Jon Voight started out hyping his new film "September Dawn," but then things changed.

VOIGHT: The extreme left has certainly been programmed to believe that we can be passive to our enemies and that's the way to survive the onslaught of this extreme group of Islamic insurgents. Right?

ROWLANDS: Besides all but calling Hollywood liberals "brainwashed," Voight did what very few celebrities are doing right now, support the Iraq War.

VOIGHT: We're in a war there that must be won. And is it winnable? Yes, it is winnable. And we have to stay with it.

ROWLANDS: What's ironic is that the 68-year-old actor, who made his mark in "Midnight Cowboy," "Deliverance" and later "Ali," is boldly backing the U.S. occupation of Iraq at the same time his a-list daughter is rubbing elbows with refugees in Iraq and Syria as a good will ambassador.

JOHN ZIEGLER, KFI RADIO: A lot has been written about your strained relationship with your daughter, Angelina Jolie. As fate would have it, she was in Iraq today. What do you make of that?

VOIGHT: I'm a little bit trepidations about it. But let's see what happened.

ROWLANDS: Voight is certainly not the first actor to chime in on the war. But one expert on celebrity impact says how much people pay attention to celebrities who take political stances depends on how bright their star shines in Hollywood.

PROF. S. MARK YOUNG, USC ANNENBERG SCHOOL FOR COMMUNICATION: Unless you are I think at the top of the a-list of Hollywood and you have credibility, I think most people are going to dismiss those remarks. They won't have a long-lasting effect.


COLLINS: A key Taliban commander reported killed this morning in Afghanistan. Afghan police say 16 militants died in a firefight with coalition forces in the eastern Ghazni province. Among them, a man believed to be one of the masterminds behind the July kidnappings of 23 South Korean aid workers.

North Korea ready to end its nuclear program? But still on a U.S. list of terror sponsors. Kim Jong-il wants to know why.


COLLINS: Want to go ahead and check the big board now for you. That's a little bit better than it was last time we checked. It was down 16 points. Now we're down under one point, resting at 13,357. On Friday, though, the last day that the markets were open, we had a positive of 119 points. So we'll continue to follow those numbers for you as we watch the Nasdaq go up 19 points as well. Check in with Susan Lisovicz a little bit later.

A terror attack foiled. That word from police in Denmark. They say the eight people they arrested were Islamic militants with international contacts. Some of those contacts said to include leading members of al Qaeda. Police also seized what they called unstable explosives stored in a heavily populated area of Copenhagen.

North Korea takes a big step forward in nuclear talks, but is it enough to take it off a U.S. list of terror sponsors? CNN's Zain Verjee reports.


ZAIN VERJEE, CNN CORRESPONDENT, (voice over): It's a first. In face-to-face talks with the U.S., North Korea sets a deadline to get rid of its nuclear program.

CHRISTOPHER HILL, ASSISTANT SECRETARY OF STATE: The DPRK will provide a full declaration of all of their nuclear programs and will disable their nuclear programs by the end of this year.

VERJEE: But the devil, as they say, is in the details. One giant question mark -- the U.S. says North Korea has a whole other secret nuclear program using uranium to build bombs, which it needs to scrap. But North Korea denies it even exists.

HILL: We need to pick up the pace.

VERJEE: What North Korea wants is for the U.S. to make good on promises of $1 million in aid and normal relations with the U.S. It also wants to be taken off the list of states the U.S. says sponsors terrorism. The North expects it to happen soon, but a senior State Department official says this is not imminent.

This latest step follows the shutdown of North Korea's main nuclear reactor in July, which was producing plutonium, the raw material for its nuclear bombs. The U.S. wants North Korea to follow Libya's path. Muammar Gaddafi gave us hip nukes, got off the U.S. terrorism list, and is enjoying a range of economic and diplomatic rewards. Yes, Muammar Gaddafi as a role model.

U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice is expected to go to Beijing later this year, meet with her counterparts, sit with them across the table from the North Koreans.

Zain Verjee, CNN, Washington.

(END VIDEOTAPE) COLLINS: More news just in to us here in the CNN NEWSROOM. A school bus accident near Tampa, Florida. T.J. Holmes working on it for us.

T.J., what's the story here.

HOLMES: Yes, this is in the Tampa area. We do know that 11 kids had to be taken to the hospital after this bus crash. But there you see, the bus that came to rest certainly off the road and in a few trees there. Eleven students had to be taken to the hospital. What we know is that they did have minor bumps and bruises. So nothing too serious. Certainly nothing life threatening. All called minor injuries.

But these were middle school students on this bus. Not exactly sure how many all together. But middle school students, of course, heading to school, as they would be this morning. But you see there that the road there on the bottom of your screen. And apparently what happened here, according to authorities, that the driver apparently hit a curb, lost control of the bus and ended up right there. The driver is now going to be cited for failure to wear a seatbelt and also careless driving.

And, again, the students are middle school students. Good news here is that none of them appear to have serious injuries but 11 of them were taken to the hospital to be checked out. Reported to have minor injuries. Bumps and bruises.

So just wanted to bring you, which is always a scary picture any time they come in my ear and say, hey, we got a school bus accident. That always scares you. But this one kind of an ugly scene there. Certainly a bus shouldn't be ending up right there. But nice to hear that all of the injuries are minor, bumps and bruises. Just wanted to bring you that report there.


COLLINS: All right, T.J., I know you'll be watching that one for us. Thanks so much.

Meanwhile, now, still ahead in the NEWSROOM, the controversial case of the Jena Six. Questions surround the punishment of African- American teens accused in a schoolyard brawl.

And the developing story out of Ohio. A small plane down in Lake Erie. A man in a row boat rescues a seven-year-old boy. But his father and brother still missing. We'll have an update for you coming up right here in the CNN NEWSROOM.

MARCIANO: Hurricane Felix, a category five storm, making landfall across Nicaragua. Transformation begins to a rainmaker. And another hurricane about to make landfall in Mexico. Details coming up in the CNN NEWSROOM.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK) COLLINS: Among our top stories this hour, a fierce storm slamming into parts of Central America. Right now, Hurricane Felix battering the region along Nicaragua's border with Honduras. It moved ashore as a category five with winds at 160 miles an hour.

Just ahead of landfall, frantic evacuations. Thousands of tourists and residents along the Honduran coastline were moved to higher ground. Belize, Guatemala and parts of Mexico also expected to feel the storm's impact. Forecasters say the hurricane's heavy rains could produce flash floods and mudslides across the region.

Rob Marciano is in the weather center for us, has been tracking this all along. And that seems to be the most immediate issue now ...


COLLINS: ...for these people because of this massive rain that could be coming.

MARCIANO: Well, they're still dealing with big winds, but you're right about that. I mean, Hurricane Mitch back in -- a decade ago, killed thousands of people, not from the wind because it was only category 1 when it made landfall, but from the tremendous amount of rain. We're talking about big-time mountains here and big-time moisture source.

So we're beginning a transformation from a category 5 storm with winds at the right-hand corner of this thing at 160 miles an hour. You see the eye beginning to close. It's about maybe 50 miles inland now. So, probably down to about a cat 3 at this point. So, still, substantial damage being done by winds alone. And there is still a surge that is coming on shore.

But now, as this thing continues to move onward towards the west, into the mountains, those mountains just take that moisture, take that wind and squeeze all that rain out of there. And so, we could see 10, 15 inches, in some cases, 20 inches of rainfall. And that will let the ground go and you'll see mudslides.

All right, here's the official forecast, at last check by the National Hurricane Center, weakening of course, but the track takes it pretty much on a due westerly course. Important to note for the U.S.: it does not get up into the Bay of Campeche, into the Gulf of Mexico. So, this hurricane is not going to affect the U.S. at all.

But, there's another hurricane, not in the Atlantic, but in the Pacific. Here it is, Henriette. This thing blossomed to a hurricane last night. It's a category 1 storm and it's making a beeline to Cabo San Lucas. Right now, about 70 or 80 miles south of there and heading straight for there as a category 1 storm with about 75 mile-an-hour winds, not expected to weaken or strengthen. It is expected to make landfall later on this afternoon right at the southern tip of the Baja there.

So, second land-falling hurricane across Central America today. And this one, although it will weaken once it gets inland, some of the moisture from this one could very well get into the desert southwest in through Arizona and New Mexico. That'll help cool things off, but sometimes you get too much of a good thing, and that could cause just some flooding and landslides of their own. But we'll wait until that happens across much of the desert southwest.

Speaking of the southwest, big-time heat again today across parts of southern California. A heat warning in effect, but there is some relief on the way. Know temperatures in the 70s from Seattle to San Francisco. That cooling trend will begin to sink to the south.

So, we're watching Felix begin to weaken but still extremely strong ...


MARCIANO: ...and also watching Henriette make landfall in two hours in Baja, California.

COLLINS: Boy, I can't believe that, so many all at once, it seems like.

MARCIANO: We're ramping up, you know.


MARCIANO: We peak the hurricane season here in about ten days. So, this is the time of year, for sure.

COLLINS: That's why they call it the season, I guess.


COLLINS: Yikes. All right, Rob, thanks so much.


COLLINS: Another developing story we are watching out of Ohio this hour, a search underway in Lake Erie. The missing: a father and his nine-year-old son. Their plane crashed into the water after taking off from Kelleys Island, Ohio. One man saw the crash and rode out to the wreckage. He saved the man's 7-year-old son who was also aboard the flight. The plane crashed last night about a half-mile from shore. We will continue to watch this story for you right here in the NEWSROOM.

President Bush on the road under the shadow of Iraq. The debate over the war follows him to Australia. He's there for trade talks but will also meet with Australian Prime Minister John Howard, a key alley. But the prime minister's support of the war could cost him his re-election bid. President Bush just wrapped up his surprise visit to Iraq. There, he hinted the number of U.S. troops could be reduced.


GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Those decisions will be based on a calm assessment by our military commanders on the conditions on the ground. Not a nervous reaction by Washington politicians to poll results in the media. In other words, when we begin to draw down troops from Iraq, it will be from a position of strength and success, not from the position of fear and failure.


COLLINS: Next week, Congress will hear a progress report from the top military commander in Iraq.

The architect raised questions about the decision. A new book says Karl Rove blasted President Bush's decision to make Dick Cheney his running mate.

SUSAN LISOVICZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT: I'm Susan Lisovicz at the New York Stock Exchange where the first trading day in September is proving to be positive, so far. The numbers next.

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


COLLINS: If your kids are running up big cell phone bills, there's a new solution for you. Susan Lisovicz is at the New York Stock Exchange with details.

This is one good thing about having just a 6-year-old, because there's no cell phone yet.


COLLINS: Inside the Bush White House, a new presidential biography depicts disagreements and emotional moments.

CNN's Mary Snow takes a look.


BUSH: I believe you're looking at the next vice president of the United States.

MARY SNOW, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): But one key player in then-Governor Bush's inner circle didn't agree. In "Dead Certain," author Robert Draper writes that in 2000, political advisor Karl Rove did not think Dick Cheney would be a good running mate, but that the president didn't care. Draper paraphrases Rove, "Selecting daddy's top foreign policy guy ran counter to message. It was worse than a safe pick. It was needy. "

And in a 2005 argument, Rove was shouted down for resisting Bush pick Harriet Miers for Supreme Court. The book also claims Chief Justice John Roberts was the person who pushed for Miers' nomination, but today the Supreme Court called that account not true.

Beyond the dissent, the book details personal moments. President Bush admitting he sheds tears in private. Draper quoting the president as saying, "I've got God's shoulder to cry on, and I cry a lot. I do a lot of crying in this job. I'll bet I've shed more tears than you can count as president. " Self-pity, he says, can come with the job, but that his wife Laura reminds him that he chose to do this. Rare and candid insight which one historian suggests carries a motive.

ROBERT DALLEK, PRESIDENTIAL HISTORIAN: With his approval rating so low, this may in part explain why he agreed to do this interviews or these interviews and allow this journalist to produce this book so quickly.

SNOW: After the White House, President Bush wants to build what he calls a fantastic freedom institute in Dallas. But first Draper says Mr. Bush told him he needs to, "Replenish the ol' coffers." Noting he can make what he calls ridiculous money on the lecture circuit. Saying, "I don't know what my dad gets, but it's more than 50, 75. Clinton's making a lot of money."

And on Bill Clinton, the president talks about running into his predecessor at the United Nations in September of 2006. Reflecting on that, Bush tells Draper, "Six years from now, you're not going to see me hanging out in the lobby of the U.N."

(on camera): Draper says for this book, he interviewed President Bush six times and spoke to many members of his administration, including Vice President Dick Cheney and senior advisor Karl Rove. The White House says it has no comment on the book, and CNN was not able to reach recently departed advisor Rove.

Mary Snow, CNN, New York.


COLLINS: A sleepy southern town and the racial divide splitting it in two. A young man fighting today to overturn a conviction.

An 8-year-old with cerebral palsy. He's no victim, he's a hero.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: There was like this thick old (ph) smoke, and then I ran outside to get my grandpa. And I saved my dad's life.


COLLINS: He crawled to save his father from fire. You've got to see this story coming up after a break.


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To avoid the freshman debt trap, plan ahead. Look at how much your kids are spending now on entertainment, food and clothing, and have them track all of the expenses. You can also ask the Offices of Student Services what they recommend. Cost of living is going to be different from one college town to the next.

Now, for some teens, this is the first time they have their own bank account. Check the area around the school to see what banks and ATMs are local. You don't want to sign up for an account with a bank that has no local ATMs and get hit with a $1 to $3 fee every time you use the ATM.

When it comes to saving money on supplies, go to cut-rate textbook sites. A lot of schools have book exchanges online, but you can also find them at most online retailers like or Just make sure you buy the right one.

That's this week's "Saving Money Now." For more on saving money, watch "OPEN HOUSE" every Saturday at 9:30 a.m. Eastern right here on CNN.



COLLINS: A racially charged case in court in Jena, Louisiana today. A teenager hoping to get his conviction overturned. He is one of six African-American students who were charged with attempted murder in a schoolyard beating.

It all started when some black students broke an unspoken racial code last September. They sat under a tree, there it is there, where white students and only white students hung out. The next day, students found three nooses hanging from the tree. Racial tensions filled Jena High School throughout the fall. Then in December, a beating left a white student with a concussion and a swollen eye. One of the young men accused of attacking him was convicted in June of aggravated battery.

Last hour, I talked to the mother of another of the accused teens, and the reporter who helped put the case in the headlines.


JORDAN FLAHERTY, EDITOR, LEFT TURN MAGAZINE: I think for everyone the first image they hear is this powerful image of these nooses hanging from a tree and what that represents, especially in a small town in the rural south.

And then the other image on top of that, which is less heard of, is this district attorney coming in to the school, speaking to a school auditorium that's divided by race with black students on one side and white students on the other, and directing his comments to the black students who had stood under that tree and protested the nooses and saying, you have to stop making trouble or else I can make your lives disappear with the stroke of my pen. And that's what he's been proceeding to do.

COLLINS: Yes, and to say that in public in front of all of those people, I know that there was something like 44 witnesses that had been interviewed about this entire event that seems, as we say, to have been going on for a very long time. But the first incident in September, and then the fight in December, several months.

Let me get back to Tina quickly. We know Mychal Bell, one of the accused, is in court today. It's actually a motion where they're trying to overturn his conviction. What do you feel about the chances of that happening?

TINA JONES, MOTHER OF BRYANT PURVIS: I'm going to try to stay optimistic about it, because he do have a set of new lawyers. So, hopefully things will change and get better for him.

COLLINS: Jordan, how about you? Can he get a fair trial?

FLAHERTY: I'm really concerned. I'm concerned about the judge in this case. I'm concerned about the district attorney who is on this seeming vendetta to persecute these kids. I'm concerned -- I think the people of Jena don't want their town to become synonymous with racism, but I think District Attorney Reed Walters has made that happen. He's made it by pursuing these kids relentlessly, by pursuing attempted murder charges for a school fight. I feel for the parents and what they're going through and especially the parents of these accused kids.

COLLINS: Tina, where is your son now and what's next for him?

JONES: He is currently in Dallas, Texas. He's -- started school actually last week and as for court, we don't have a court date but the D.A. did file a motion to present evidence in Bryant's case. So we should be hearing from that any time.

COLLINS: How is he doing? Do you have an opportunity to speak with him?

JONES: I talk to him almost daily. You know, he gets down sometimes, but overall -- we're trying to get his life back to normal, to pursue his education and hopefully he'll be able to play ball. That's his dream, to play professional basketball. So hopefully we'll get that done.

COLLINS: Jordan, as we look at the larger implications here, what do you think is going to come out of this incident for the town of Jena?

FLAHERTY: Well, Heidi, this has really struck a nerve with people around the country and people especially from the rural south have come around from Shreveport, from Monroe, from Lafayette, and of course from New Orleans, from Houston. It's really I think shown an example of the problems we have in our justice system.

And, I hope that Governor Blanco, the governor of Louisiana, will intervene and do something, and I think investigate this district attorney and the abuse of power that he's shown. I hope that this attention really shines a light and that we can really continue this into a conversation, a conversation about race in this country, a conversation about our criminal justice system, a conversation about these fundamental issues of fairness. COLLINS: Tina, I have to ask you the same question. Certainly as your son is in Dallas now, away from you, what do you see for the future of the town that you live in?

JONES: If we don't do something with the D.A. and the judge and other political leaders, then -- things aren't going to change. But my main concern is trying to get these charges overturned on my son and furthering his career. So, that's my main focus at this time.

COLLINS: The other five students are still awaiting trial. It is not clear if the D.A. plans to reduce the charges against them. Still ahead this morning, politics and the battlefield. What's working in Iraq, what's not. A key report to a Senate committee.


JUDY FORTIN, CNN MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: A damp, moldy house is not only unpleasant to live in but may lead to depression, according to a study of almost 6,000 European adults. Researchers say dampness and mold may cause health problems such as asthma, headaches and nausea, and a perceived lack of control over the home which ultimately triggers depressive symptoms. The authors say more should be done to promote healthy housing.

Pre-menopausal women whose ovaries are removed to prevent cancer or disease face increased risk of dementia and cognitive impairment later on in life. A new Mayo Clinic study finds estrogen replacement therapy may be a good option for these women because of the protective effects on the brain. The Mayo researchers say for much women the sooner estrogen therapy begins the better.

A drug used to lower cholesterol may also lower the risk of Alzheimer's disease, early findings from the small study suggests. Researchers compared the autopsy brains of people who took statins and those who did not. And they found people taking the drugs had fewer of the disease-related plaques and tangles found in the brains of Alzheimer's sufferers.

The authors say more study is need on the benefits of statins continue's outside of cardiovascular disease.

Judy Fortin, CNN.



COLLINS: OK, I'm not sure if I've ever seen a race like that before. But, if you blink you definitely miss it. Right? You got to see America's fastest Chihuahua. We going to see it again? OK. And alligator sightings routine in Florida, but Ohio? That's where one woman found a gator tapping at her door. We get the story now from Lindsay Seavert of affiliate WBNS.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE) LINDSAY SEAVERT, WBNS REPORTER: The sight stunned a Westerville neighborhood and begged the question -- how well do you know your neighbors, or their pets?

EMILY MCKENNY, NEIGHBOR KEEPS ALLIGATORS: I heard this scratch at the side door.

SEAVERT: Emily Mckenny just woke up and opened the door.

MCKENNY: Looked down and there is an alligator's tail on the steps.

SEAVERT: She quickly locked it, then screamed.

MCKENNY: I am terrified of them.

SEAVERT: And called Westerville police.

MCKENNY: He was scratching at the door, like trying to get it to come open.

SEAVERT: Officers not only found one gator, but another, and then to everyone's surprise, a six-foot alligator. All residing just across the street at Paul Barrows' home.

PAUL BARROWS: Dinosaur in my basement.

SEAVERT: He rescues reptiles. He was trying to find the two little guys a home. But he was out of town. When one took a field trip.

BARROWS: The bigger of the two is a little stronger than I thought and ended up breaking out of the outdoor cage.

MCKENNY: Luckily the queen gator was inside.

BARROWS: She had her own room.

SEAVERT: Penelopy is his pet.

BARROWS: Had her ten years, so it'd be like having a dog or a cat.

SEAVERT: But police told Barrows, furry is OK, ferocious is not. A Westerville city ordinance bans alligators, so the Columbus Zoo will give the gators a temporary home. For Barrows it is a lost, but he realizes the risk especially Penelopy.

BARROWS: She could eat a cat or dog, or a small kid if she wanted to.

MCKENNY: I have a 10-year-old son. If he was home he probably would have opened the door.

SEAVERT: She could have counted teeth. But now is counting blessings with just a dent in her door and a visit to remember. MCKENNY: I was definitely wide awake after that happened.

SEAVERT: Lindsay Seavert, 10TV News.


COLLINS: You're with CNN. You're informed. I'm Heidi Collins. Tony Harris is back tomorrow. Meanwhile, developments are coming in to the CNN NEWSROOM on Tuesday, the 4th of September. Here's what's on the rundown.

Felix, now the second category 5 hurricane to hit land this season, Central America lashed with wind and rain this hour.