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High Seas Hostility?; Obama Widens Lead; Supreme Court Hears Arguments About Lethal Injection

Aired January 07, 2008 - 11:00   ET


Good morning, everybody. I'm Heidi Collins.

New developments in the CNN NEWSROOM for Monday, the 7th of January.

Here's what's on the rundown.

Hostile seas. The U.S. says Iran made threatening moves against American warships. This hour, the White House responds.

Barack Obama surging in a CNN presidential poll out of New Hampshire. John McCain, making moves on the Republican side.

And now it's a search for the body of a Georgia hiker. Police try to figure out if the suspect is behind other cases.

Trail of suspicion, in the NEWSROOM.

The U.S. is calling it a case of high seas hostility. The U.S. Navy is saying five Iranian Revolutionary Guard boats harassed and provoked three warships in international waters.

U.S. officials say the incident happened early yesterday morning in the Strait of Hormuz. It's a key waterway for oil shipments.

The Navy said the Iranian boats made threatening moves and threatening radio transmissions, including this statement -- "I am coming at you. You will explode in a couple of minutes."

The U.S. warships were preparing to fire when the Iranian boats turned away. We're still waiting for some comment on this story from the Iranian government.

Meanwhile, we are getting some comment and reaction from the White House.

CNN's Brianna Keilar is standing by now with more on that.

Hi there, Brianna.


White House response coming from national security spokesman Gordon Johndroe. He said in a statement, "We urge the Iranians to refrain from such provocative actions that could lead to a dangerous incident in the future." And note here the White House is not ratcheting things up here with this language.

This incident happened just as President Bush prepares to head to the Middle East tomorrow. He's trying to get a peace process started between the Palestinian Authority and Israel.

It's a follow-up to the conference nearby here in Annapolis back in November. And Iran plays a significant role in the peace process as the supporter of both anti-Israeli extremist groups Hamas and Hezbollah.

And furthermore, this incident doesn't happen in a vacuum. It builds on continuing tensions between the U.S. and Iran over Iran's nuclear ambitions.

Iran, of course, all along has said that it is just trying to build a domestic energy nuclear program. And even though the most recent national intelligent estimate found that Iran had abandoned its nuclear weapons program back in 2003, administration officials are skeptical.

They were quick to point out that Iran is not let off scot-free by this NIE, emphasizing findings that Iran could reverse course, get its nuclear program started, and actually have enough nuclear fuel for a weapon by as early as 2010. And expect President Bush to talk about the Iran threat in his upcoming Mideast trip -- Heidi.

COLLINS: All right.

CNN's Brianna Keilar for us with reaction from the White House today to this news.

Thanks so much for that, Brianna. We know you will stay on top of that as well.

Meanwhile, want to get you back to this story that we learned about just about 30 minutes ago. In Colorado, we have learned that six snowmobilers who had been missing since Friday have not only been found, but they have been found in good condition.

Apparently, according to our Thelma Gutierrez, who is in the area, they were able to make it to safety on their own snowmobiles. As you can see, pretty treacherous conditions there. A lot of snow coming down, but found their way to a train station that provided some very good shelter for them.

So hopefully -- we know that authorities have made their way to them and they are working to bring them down out of that mountainous area to safety. So, once again, those six snowmobilers that have been missing since Friday in Colorado have been found in good health. So some great news there.

Now to the New Hampshire primary. Voting set to kick off at midnight, and new poll numbers are raising hopes for some candidates and worries for others. Want to begin with the Democrats now. And the CNN/WMUR New Hampshire presidential primary poll is conducted by the University of New Hampshire.

It shows Barack Obama opening a double-digit lead now. He boats 39 percent of the vote to Hillary Clinton's 29 percent. That is a big change from Saturday, when they were actually tied. John Edwards and Bill Richardson trail a distant third and fourth, respectively.

Among the Republicans now, John McCain holds a slim lead over Mitt Romney. Those numbers from the same poll, McCain 32 percent, Romney, 26.

Mike Huckabee is a distant third, with 14 percent, and Rudy Giuliani is on his heels with 11 percent.

I want to begin though with the Democrats. The big question they're facing today, is Barack Obama actually pulling out of reach?

CNN's Dan Lothian is in Manchester for us this morning.

Good morning to you, Dan.


And as you mentioned, these really are the last few hours, those critical hours before voters head to the polls. And Democrats are doing whatever they can to get the attention of those voters who are still undecided.

As you mentioned, Barack Obama, who rode into New Hampshire on a wave of a big victory in Iowa, has now moved into a double-digit lead over Senator Hillary Clinton. But he isn't backing down.

He's still reaching out to his audiences, telling them he is the candidate of change and telling them to discount any of the criticism out there that might say that he can't be president because he doesn't have the experience. He said he has the experience and is ready to be president right now.


SEN. BARACK OBAMA (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Right now the polls show that I beat every single Republican that's out there. I beat Mitt, I beat Rudy, I beat John, I beat Mike. I beat them all.


LOTHIAN: Senator Hillary Clinton obviously feeling a lot of pressure. We've seen her kind of tweak her campaign here, reaching out to the younger voters there who were supportive and helped Barack Obama win in Iowa.

And she's also sharpening her attacks against Obama, again saying that he is not experienced to be president, that she can be president on day one. She's also having very big campaign stops here. Her rallies attracting thousands of supporters. And she as well trying to tap into those undecided voters.


SEN. HILLARY RODHAM CLINTON (D-NY), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I think this distinction between talking and doing, between rhetoric and reality, is important for voters to focus on because when we elect a president who goes into that Oval Office on the first day, the decisions start being made. And we need to know how consistent and how reliable that president is, because we're really going to have to count on our next president.


LOTHIAN: Senator John Edwards, who made a surprising second place finish in Iowa, who has been pushing very hard here in New Hampshire, has slipped now in the polls, but he's still campaigning as sort of the underdog candidate and saying that he is the one who is against the status quo, that his campaign isn't about wanting to be president, but about doing what is right from the heart, and that he is the one that will fight for the middle class -- Heidi.

COLLINS: All right. CNN's Dan Lothian reporting on the Democrats for us.

Thanks so much for that, Dan.

Want to get over to the Republican side as well. The headline there, John McCain and Mitt Romney slugging it out in the polls and on the stump.

CNN's Dana Bash is in Nashua covering John McCain.


DANA BASH, CNN CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: This is a state, New Hampshire, that has been incredibly good to John McCain. Obviously, he did have a win here in 2000. This is a state that he has camped out and really waves (ph) a very surprising comeback.

Remember, it was not too long ago that John McCain absolutely thought that he -- it was thought that he was absolutely nowhere, that his campaign was over. But he himself reminded voters that he had 101 town hall meetings and he spent a lot of time lingering with voters, answering tough questions about some of the things that really got him in trouble in terms of policy, things like the Iraq war, his support for the Iraq war, which he now reminds voters that he was right on, he says.

Again, he is somebody who has stayed here, worked the crowds, and has really a connection to the voters here. So right now you are seeing a sprint, a sprint from John McCain through seven rallies.

He is not spending very much time. He had a two minute 52 second speech here in Nashua. It's probably going to be the same thing all day long.

Basically, he is trying to steal as many votes as he can from his chief rival here, Mitt Romney. And you know, as important as it is here for John McCain -- it really is make or break for him tomorrow -- it is equally as important for Mitt Romney.

Mitt Romney had a very big loss in the caucus state of Iowa. He was expecting and hoping to win there. He poured a lot of resources in there. He hoped that momentum from there would take him through the state of New Hampshire and that this would be fertile territory for Mitt Romney because he, of course, is the former governor of the neighboring state of Massachusetts.

But it really hasn't turned out that way for several reasons. So, what you're seeing Mitt Romney do is the same kind of sprint today.

He's got about six events throughout the day. He is making it pretty clear that he needs as many votes as he can. He's trying to sort of set himself apart from John McCain, his chief rival here, as somebody who has outside of Washington experience. He's using that "change" word which we have heard over and over since that is the message that many candidates think the voters were sending with the Iowa results. So it is going to be a fascinating finish to see what happens between these two men, Mitt Romney and John McCain, each of whom really, really need a win here in order to continue to be viable in the presidential race.

And one last thing. We shouldn't forget about the winner of the Iowa caucuses, and that, of course, is Mike Huckabee.

He is somebody who is hoping to get -- to prove that he is not just a one-state wonder, that he can get a bounce out of his win in Iowa, he can do well in a state that doesn't have the deep evangelical base that really propelled his victory in Iowa. He is hoping at least to place third here. If he does place third and beat Rudy Giuliani, that could be telling about his viability going into the next contest state for him, and that's South Carolina.


COLLINS: All right. Well, it's getting good.

Dana Bash, thanks so much for that.

For more on the New Hampshire primary, you can go to It's your one-stop shop for all things political.

And remember, is the place to check out if you want even more from the candidates. You can watch the final speeches before the New Hampshire primary, including Barack Obama event about to get under way in Lebanon, New Hampshire, there. You see that picture.

Campaign events and rallies streaming all day and night on Headed home after a weekend ski trip, a tour bus rolls off a wet highway in Utah. We are now getting word that at least eight people were killed when the bus rolled down an embankment and crashed. Twenty others were injured.

It happened near Mexican Hat in the area known as Four Corners. Emergency crews from those nearby states rushed in to help.

One Nevada town trying to dry out this morning. Hundreds of homes were damaged by flooding in Fernley, Nevada. That rush of water caused by a broken levee. The levee is now fixed, and efforts to pump the water out continue.

Many residents have been forced into emergency shelters.


WILL LAYMAN, FLOODED RESIDENT: The water level was this high up and it was rushing through the house. It was actually rushing through.

And you know, we tried to get the TVs and whatnot out of here that we could, and the kids' clothes, but it's just -- it's a disaster. I mean, if we would have had a little bit more early warning, it might have helped a little bit, because the dam, I guess, broke at, like, 5:00, and we didn't get woken up. I actually woke up to the helicopter noise.


COLLINS: Helicopters were used to rescue people from the rising water. Federal disaster officials, along with Nevada Senator Harry Reid, will tour the area today. Nevada's governor has already declared a state of emergency in the county.

Some higher-than-normal temperatures are moving into the New Hampshire area. We've been talking a lot about New Hampshire, starting those primaries coming up tomorrow, just in time, in fact.


COLLINS: To this story now in Georgia. Bloody evidence found in a dumpster. And the hunt for a missing hiker turns into a search now for her body.

We'll have an update coming up right here in the NEWSROOM.


COLLINS: Lethal injection, cruel and unusual? The Supreme Court hearing arguments this hour.

Justice Correspondent Kelli Arena is joining us now from outside the high court.

So, Kelli, it is such a complicated issue. We've been talking about it for a very long time. Any chance of getting some real finality to all of this?

KELLI ARENA, CNN JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: Well, you know, that's what both sides are hoping for, Heidi. But from what I heard today, you know, I'm not sure that we will get a final answer on this issue.

Several liberal justices actually suggested throwing this back to the trial court for more conversation. The conservative justices argued, wait a minute, that is going to open us up to endless litigation. And basically what this comes down to is whether or not the three-drug cocktail that is currently used to execute people on death row can cause cruel and inhuman punishment, whether or not people really feel pain when that happens.

And the argument is that if the first drug that's used, which is a barbiturate, is done -- is administered properly, then that shouldn't happen. But the defendant said, wait a minute, we don't know that it's being administered properly. We don't know how these people are trained. We don't know if there's a correct oversight.

The government argues, well, yes, there is. We have practice runs. Kentucky, where the case was brought from, has practice runs and makes sure that, you know, this is done properly.

This is a proven way to execute people. Most of the states that do it use this three-drug cocktail. But then another issue came into play, Heidi. And it was, well, wait a minute, maybe we should just use one drug, that first drug, a barbiturate.

If you use enough of that, then that will kill a person and there will be no pain. The government says, not exactly. That may take very long, which would be a problem. And number two, it doesn't guarantee death.

So a lot for the justices to consider here. But I'll tell you right now, Heidi, you know, whatever they do decide probably won't be enough to stop this battle and these court suits -- these suits that keep making their way through the courts on this issue.

This is about the death penalty at the bottom line. This isn't about really how it's administered or the drugs that are used.

COLLINS: All right. CNN's Kelli Arena following this complicated story for us. We will wait to hear that final ruling just as soon as it becomes available.

Thank you, Kelli.

ARENA: You're welcome.

COLLINS: In Georgia now, the search for missing hiker Meredith Emerson shifts focus and the young woman's accused kidnapper heads to court.

Our Rusty Dornin is following the case and joins us now on set this morning with a little bit more information.

All right. So what do we know now? Some new information is starting to come out.

RUSTY DORNIN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: That's right. Well, over the weekend a lot happened, of course.


DORNIN: They did arrest Gary Michael Hilton at a convenience store apparently cleaning out his van, using bleach and other solution at the time. So what do we know now? New information.

Over the weekend a lot happened of course. They did arrest Gary Michael Hilton at a convenience store, apparently cleaning out -- according to the arrest affidavit, cleaning out his van, using bleach and other solution at the time.

Now, he has been charge with kidnapping, with the intent to commit bodily harm, because some of her clothes were discovered in a dumpster nearby, covered with blood. They found part of a seat belt that was covered with blood. Her dog was found roaming nearby.

He will be in a court hearing this afternoon. But meantime, also, they are trying to see if there is any connection at all between this and an incident in North Carolina where an elderly couple that were hiking went missing, and then the woman's body was found bludgeoned to death.

The man's body has never been found. And apparently they did see a man in front of an ATM trying to use their card, the bank card, wearing some kind of yellow jacket. Well, this information came out on Friday because Hilton had been seen by witnesses wearing a yellow jacket.


DORNIN: The Georgia Bureau of Investigation initially said, no. You know, there's no connection that we know of, we are not really investigating this. Well, now that's changed.

They are going up to talk to North Carolina investigators and forest service investigators to see if possibly there is some kind of connection. Apparently, this ATM video is very blurry and you can't really tell what he looks like from this. But they are taking a look at it.

COLLINS: Boy, it is scary. We were talking in the break here about hiking, and it really makes you kind of think twice about going up there on your own.

DORNIN: I think this has affected a lot of women. I know it's affected me. I know it's affected you.


DORNIN: I mean, we both hike. Sometimes, perhaps, I have gone alone.


DORNIN: That's something I'm not going to doing for sure in the future.

Also, her father, Dave Emerson, did for the first time come out with a statement asking and really pleading with people to say, if you can recall any kind of evidence, you know, anything that when you last saw my daughter that might help in this search, please come forward.

COLLINS: Yes. And it's interesting, too, because in the very beginning, anyway, I remember when it seemed to be quite a few reports of seeing her with possibly this man, Gary Michael Holmes (sic)...


COLLINS: ... several times throughout the day.

DORNIN: And they saw Hilton -- several other witnesses say they say Hilton by himself walking his dog as well. So, there may be other people that haven't come forward that may have some information, because they're searching for her in five counties in Georgia right now, because apparently he's been uncooperative enough that he has not volunteered information of where she may be.

COLLINS: Yes. And forgive me, Hilton the last name, not Holmes.

All right. Thanks so much, Rusty Dornin, for updating the story. We appreciate that.

Want to get to this live event now that we've been telling you about. Barack Obama on stage live in Lebanon, New Hampshire. Let's go ahead and listen in for just a moment.


OBAMA: ... try to bring economic development to the community. In other words, the best education I ever had, because it taught me that ordinary people can do extraordinary things when they're given a chance. But I...


But I also learned that being an organizer is hard work, that, you know, you put in long hours, you're underpaid, you're sleep- deprived, you have to deal with rejection. And so now as I travel across New Hampshire and all across the country, and I see these young people who are doing such extraordinary work on this campaign, pouring their heart and soul into it, I always want to make sure that they are acknowledged when I visit.

And so your Lebanon organizer for the Obama campaign is Big Dave Ormbrendt (ph).

Where's Dave?

Big Dave, come on up here. Stay right here. Here's Big Dave. He is doing a great job.

They love you, Big Dave. They love you.

He is doing a great job.

Now, in the last day here, Dave only has one thing on his mind. He wakes up with this thought, he goes to sleep with this thought, he eats and lives and breathes and dreams about getting you to the polls tomorrow. That's all he is thinking about.

More specifically, getting you to the polls to vote for me. That's what he's thinking about.


That's his job, get you to the polls, vote for Obama. My job is to help him do his job. So I am going to try to be so persuasive in the 20 minutes or so that I speak that by the time this is over, a light will shine down from somewhere.

It will light upon you. You will experience an epiphany. And you will say to yourself, I have to vote for Barack. I have to do it.

And if you make that decision, if that moment happens, then it would be great -- even though it's just one day to go -- for you to fill out one of these supporter cards before you leave, because that way we'll know, you know, who, in fact, is going to be voting. Make sure that you are getting to the right precinct. It will be very heful to Dave in doing his job.

So let me just see a quick show of hands. How many people, be honest, are still undecided about who they're going to vote for tomorrow? Raise your hands.

Oh, see. Got some live ones right there. There's one, there's one over there. A couple others.

All right. We have you now in our sights. We are coming after you, and coming after you hard.

And hopefully if I make a persuasive case, then you will make sure to let Dave know by filling out one of those cards. But you know what? If you're not voting for me, vote for somebody.

What an extraordinary privilege the people of New Hampshire have. You, along with the people of Iowa, will have more to do with selecting the next president than just about anybody else on the planet. And that is remarkable. And it's a responsibility I know you've taken seriously. That's why you're here today.

But we've got to follow through and finish up. Please give Dave a big round of applause.


So there's something going on out there, Lebanon. There's something stirring in the air. You can feel it.

We felt it last Thursday in Iowa when the American people stood up and said, it's time for a new beginning. And in one day's time, in less than 24 hours, you will have the chance. It will be your turn to stand up and say to the rest of the country, the time for change has come.

The time for change has come in one day's time. I have to say, by the way, I should just interrupt a moment to say that I've been campaigning a lot, because this morning I said the time for come has changed.

And I have to -- I have to admit that everybody clapped. They're all like, yes. So I got it right this time.

The time for change has come. The time has changed -- see? I was just testing you.

The time has come for us to do what the cynics said could not be done, what so many people did not believe until they saw it -- the opportunity for Democrats and Independents and Republicans to stand up together and say that we are one nation, that we are one people, and that we are no longer going to settle, we are no longer going to accept a politics that is not serving the interests of ordinary Americans. We want to take our country back. We want to do something to create a better future for the next generation.

Right here, right now, that's what we can do in one day's time.


In one day we can say that we've had enough of the partisan food fight. We don't like the trivialization of our politics. We don't like the petty point scoring and the little nicks and cuts that elected officials try to administer on each other.

We don't want any more game playing. We don't need somebody who plays the game better. We want an end to the game playing because the stakes are too high, the times are too serious. We need change now, and that's what we can start bringing about in one day's time.


You know, I wish you could have been with me on Thursday night. We had been campaigning, you know, all throughout the month in Iowa, and it was frigid cold. And the night before the election we flew into Davenport.

This is New Year's Day. And we arrive at 11:00 for a rally in Davenport. It's three degrees outside. And we get there and there are 1,000 people waiting at 11:00 p.m. on New Year's day, three degrees outside. And so the next day when the reporters were talking to us, we said, you know, we think there's going to be a pretty good turn out at this election. They said, you know, people always say that. That's what happened in the Dean campaign, there were these big crowds and everybody said young people were going to come out for the first time. It never happens. Republicans aren't going crossover. Independents, they don't caucus, at least not in the Democratic caucus, they wait until the general election. They're not going to participate.

So, the evening of the caucus, I went to a precinct, got there about 6:00, 6:15. It wasn't going to start until 6:30. And so I'm standing outside waiting to shake hands and suddenly you just saw waves of people. Just the parking lot just filling up. And young people, college kids and high school kids coming up and saying, I am so excited about participating for the first time. And then Independents, they would all come up, lining up one after one to shake my hand and say, you know, I've never participated in a caucus before, but this time it feels different. It feels like there's so much at stake, I couldn't in good conscience stay at home.

And then Republicans started coming up to me. And I knew that we had seen Republicans in our events because they would whisper to me afterwards, when I was shaking hands they would say, Barack, I'm a Republican, but I support you. And I'd say...

COLLINS: So there you go. We've been listening in for just a moment here to one of the live events, rallies if you will, one day before the New Hampshire primary. Obviously Senator Barack Obama there. Also want to let you know that is a place to check everything out if you want even more from the candidates. You can watch these final speeches before the New Hampshire primary, campaign events, rallies streaming all day and night on

Roger Clemens responding to steroid allegations with words and actions.


COLLINS: Good morning once again everybody. You're in the CNN NEWSROOM. I'm Heidi Collins.

In Iraq, an army day celebration turns deadly. Three Iraqi soldiers were killed trying to stop a suicide bomber at a festival in East Baghdad on Sunday. They were celebrating the 87th anniversary of the army in Iraq. At least eight other people were also killed in that explosion. It was just one out of several deadly attacks. And today in Baghdad, at least 18 people have been killed in separate bombings.

Pakistan says it doesn't want U.S. forces operating in its rugged areas near the Afghanistan border. This comes after the "New York Times" reported Washington is considering sending in more CIA operatives. CNN's John Vause reports.


JOHN VAUSE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: It's been widely reported that never officially acknowledged by the U.S. or Pakistan that the CIA has been operating for years in the tribal areas of Pakistan's northwest frontier. The same area where American intelligence believes Osama bin Laden is hiding. For Pakistan president, Pervez Musharraf, the issue of foreign forces is politically explosive. So any suggestion that the number of U.S. operatives could be increased, has been angrily denied by Pakistani officials. One telling CNN, "...this report, even as incorrect, is damaging to U.S./Pakistani relations."

LT. GEN. TALAT MASOOD, PAKISTAN ARMY (RET.): I think they would really be extremely angry and not accept it because it would be a great infringement on the sovereignty and also insult.

VAUSE: But greater numbers are precisely what's needed according to one former CIA operative who was once there hunting al Qaeda.

ART KELLER, FORMER CIA OPERATIVE: I know for a fact that the people there were incredibly shorthanded. That's why it was such a challenging situation.

VAUSE: And that was February last year, long before Benazir Bhutto's assassination, which is seen by Washington as strengthening the militants. Unlike Musharraf, she publicly called for U.S. help to regain control of the tribal areas.

BENAZIR BHUTTO, FMR. PRIME MINISTER OF PAKISTAN: I would certainly like to work very closely with the U.S. government and with the NATO troops in Afghanistan for our common objectives of reclaiming the frontier area and cleansing it of terrorists.

VAUSE: And the risks are high, too, for the U.S. An air strike two years ago missed its target, al Qaeda's number two, Alminar Zawahiri, killing dozens of civilians. That sparked angry anti-U.S. protests in cities across Pakistan.

PETER BERGEN, CNN TERRORISM ANALYST: Clearly the reason they're thinking about doing this is al Qaeda continues to be headquartered in their federally administered tribal areas and Taliban is headquartered there and that's been the case for years and years. And so policy after -- all the policies up to this point haven't really seemed to work.


COLLINS: John Vause, joining us now, live from Islamabad.

John, U.S./Pakistan relations sort of appear to be on a downward spiral here. Obviously, it's in the U.S.' interest to salvage that relationship. What's the best way to do that at this point?

VAUSE: Well Heidi, U.S. sources say that basically the relationship between Washington and Pervez Musharraf is very much on the wane right now. What the hope is, that as this country moves toward those elections on February 18th, they will be free and fair and also be perceived as being free and fair.

And once those results are in, the best hope here, is that President Pervez Musharraf will honor the results and then gradually let go of his grip on power. That's the kind of thing that's a best- case scenario --Heidi? COLLINS: CNN's John Vause, reporting live for us from Islamabad.

John, thanks for that.

Meanwhile, in Kenya, the death toll climbs. The government now says almost 500 people have been killed in violence that broke out over the disputed presidential election there. Now, political leaders hoping to ease the tensions say, they will be willing to give mediation a chance. Today, Kenya's opposition leader called off protest rallies planned across the country. He made the announcement after meeting with the U.S. envoy sent to Nairobi.


JENDAYI E. FRAZER, ASST. SECRETARY FOR AFRICAN AFFAIRS: I think Kenya is going to be a long future of instability if, in fact, they don't address the fundamental questions. And so, getting the politicians to dialogue is not just about the past election, it's about the future of this country and owning up to the real crisis that we are all seeing the evidence of over the past week.


COLLINS: In addition to the dead, about a quarter million people have been displaced in Kenya. The government and the opposition say they are willing to accept mediation from Ghana's president. He is due to arrive in Kenya tomorrow.

A beating death in Florida. The victim, a toddler. The accused, a young boy. The alleged reason, hard to believe.


COLLINS: More news just in to the CNN newsroom now, coming out of southern California. A pretty dangerous trip for a driver there. T.J. Holmes is in the NEWSROOM now with the very latest on this.

Boy, very scary, T.J.

T.J. HOLMES, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, it is. We've been on -- we've all been driving before on these trips. And you know, you see these signs that say, watch for falling rock and you never believe it's going to happen to you. Well, whoever is in that red car right there, it happened to them. Driving down the road and here comes a boulder down the hillside. Now, we don't have any word of any injuries, thank goodness. But this is at Topanga Canyon.

The road now, the southbound lanes you see there, have been closed off. The car -- this is video we saw just a short time ago. But of course, this caused a traffic mess. This is a little outside of L.A. here. But again, good thing that no injuries reported. But the chances of that happening, can you imagine? You're a pretty unlucky person this happens to you. You're driving along and the boulder hits you.

But again, no injuries reported here. The road -- closed southbound lane for a time. Trying to get that boulder out of the road. No injuries though but yes, that's the picture of an unfortunate coincidence, really. The timing of that had to be perfect. But no injuries to report so that's a good thing there, Heidi.

COLLINS: Yes, very good. All right. CNN's T.J. Holmes in the newsroom for us.

Thanks, T.J.

HOLMES: All right.

COLLINS: A baseball bat as a murder weapon? But that's not the shocker. A 12-year-old boy is accused of using a ball bat to beat a toddler to death. The boy is in custody in Broward County. Authorities say the boy beat the 17-month-old girl because she was making noise while he was trying to watch TV. The boy had been baby sitting.

You may recall the case of Lionel Tate, also a 12-year-old Florida boy. He was sentenced to life for beating and stomping to death a 6-year-old child in 1999. His conviction was later thrown out and Tate pleaded guilty to a lesser charge.

New information now about a story we've been following in the NEWSROOM. Within the last hour we learned two families missing on a snowmobiling trip have been found live. The six people hadn't been heard from since Friday when they went out in that heavy snow you see there. The families called 9-1-1 from a closed train station this morning. Rescue crews are now on their way to bring the families back. Great news there.

So listen up, mom, new advice on kid allergies.


COLLINS: Changing advice on keeping kids allergy free. For years, doctors have urged pregnant women with a family history of allergies to watch what they eat. Now, the American Academy of Pediatrics says, don't worry so much, just breast-feed until baby is at least four months old. The academy says there's not enough evidence to back up the advice on avoiding some foods.

To get your daily dose of health news online, just logon to our Web site. You'll find the latest medical news, a health library and information on diet and fitness. That address,

"YOUR WORLD TODAY" comes up next. Let's go ahead and check in now with Jim Clancy to see what they are working on over there.

Hi there, Jim.


Well you know, we're going to continue to follow events in New Hampshire, but today it's going to be big talk on the campaign trail as well, what is the revolutionary guard trying to do out in what is really the alley for oil shipments, the Strait of Hormuz. We'll have the latest in that U.S./Iranian confrontation that almost came to blows and give you some perspective on why.

Plus, President Bush, off to the Middle East this week. His critics say that he's all but ignored the Israeli/Palestinian crisis for the past seven years. But no problems, as we're going to hear that the very same problems that were there seven years ago, are going to be waiting for him on his arrival.

Plus, another president, and this time talk of romance turning on a question of proposal. Is France's president keeping a secret about the new woman in his life? And is that secret out?

Join Rosemary Church and me for "YOUR WORLD TODAY" at the top of the hour right here -- Heidi.

COLLINS: All right, Jim. We'll be watching. Thank you.

High tech gadgets, see what's hot at the consumer electronics show in just a moment.


COLLINS: From robots to the latest in cell phone technology, high-tech gadgets are on display at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas. It's always a cool, cool show.

CNN's Veronica de la Cruz is there.

So, Veronica, what do you have to show us this time?

VERONICA DE LA CRUZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT: We've got so much, Heidi; 140,000 people converging in Las Vegas from 140 different countries. This show is huge. Thirty-five football fields, just think, 35 football fields full of products. There's no way we would be able to see everything. Helping us sort it out is the man, Jim Barry. He's at the CES.



DE LA CRUZ: Let's get to the OLED screen.

BARRY: We've got a peek at the future here with this organic light-emitting diode from Sony. This is from Sony. This is the new type of TV screen. You can see how thin it is. So thin, thin, thin is the big news here at CES.

Now this is an 11-inch TV what is about $2,500. But remember, those first plasma displays 10 years ago or so might have been $25,000 or $50,000. Now those start under $1,000.

DE LA CRUZ: And you're just saying thin is in.

BARRY: Thin is in.

DE LA CRUZ: This is about three credit cards thick.

BARRY: That's true, and it's also very energy efficient, OLED. So that's another big story here, the green story at the Consumer Electronics Show.

DE LA CRUZ: Green technology.

BARRY: So the products are getting more energy efficient, and a lot of people say they're part of the problem; they're actually part of the solution.

DE LA CRUZ: And speaking of green technology, let's look at this one.

BARRY: Here's the energy dock. And this will do up to three handheld devices, and it uses solar power. And it stores the power in there. This one will cost about $500. You can use this in an apartment because it's got the small solar panel.

DE LA CRUZ: I'm just going to stick this to the window, right?

BARRY: You can stick it to the window, or just put it near the window. As long as you're getting daylight, you don't really need bright sun, although that helps, and it costs about $500. But you get tax credit for these up to 30 percent, sop you can get really good tax savings, too.

DE LA CRUZ: I have $200 to spend, and I want to buy this why?

BARRY: Good news about the portable DVD player. What's new about those? This one is $180, but it also has a 13-hour battery. So you can travel just about anywhere, watch lots of movies. And again, remember, 10 years ago the first portable DVD players cost about $2,000. So that's another indication...

DE LA CRUZ: What's battery life right now, about four hours?

BARRY: It's about two, three or four, depending on which one you have. You can usually get a movie or so. But a lot of us who have the kids in the backseat of the car want that longer battery life.

DE LA CRUZ: Right, and also perfect for international flights as well.

BARRY: Absolutely. Absolutely.

DE LA CRUZ: All right, Jim Barry, CES.

We're about an hour away from doors opening here at the International Consumer Electronics Show. We are excited -- Heidi.

COLLINS: Yes, so is everybody waiting outside those doors?

BARRY: Yes, yes, lots of people. COLLINS: Veronica, thanks so much. Live from Las Vegas this morning. Appreciate that.

The Rocket launching a lawsuit. Baseball's Roger Clemens indignant and defiant over steroids allegations.


COLLINS: Roger Clemens on the record and filing suit. The star pitcher is suing his former trainer for defamation. Brian McNamee says he injected Clemens with steroids. Speaking with CBS' "60 Minutes," Clemens says he was shocked to hear that. He denies ever getting a steroid shot.


ROGER CLEMENS, MAJOR LEAGUE PITCHER: If he's put that stuff in my body, if what he's saying, which is totally false, if he's doing that to me I should have a third ear coming out of my forehead. I should be pulling tractors with my teeth.

QUESTION: Why didn't you speak to George Mitchell's investigators?

CLEMENS: I listened to my counsel. I was advised not to. A lot of the players didn't go down and talk to him.

QUESTION: Yes, I know.

CLEMENS: But if I would have known what this man, Brian McNamee would have said in this report, I would have been down there in a heartbeat to take care of it. But I understand that as a public person. You're going to take some shots. The higher you get up on the flag pole, the more your butt shows. And I understand all that, but I'm tired of answering to him. That's probably why I will not ever play again.


COLLINS: We expect to hear more from Clemens later today. He has scheduled a news conference for this afternoon. Both Clemens and McNamee have been invited to testify at a congressional hearing next week.

Well, let the good times roll. Carnival season has kicked off in New Orleans, and the Mardi Gras beads are already flying. Twelfth night traditionally marks the opening of the festivities. Fat Tuesday, February 5th, now less than a month away.

COLLINS: CNN NEWSROOM continues one hour from now. "YOUR WORLD TODAY" is coming up next with news happening across the globe and right here at home.

I'm Heidi Collins. We'll see you tomorrow, everybody.