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Baghdad Bombing by Campus; Violent Protest in Kenya Continues; Two Police Officers Killed in Georgia; Search for Laurean Ongoing; Mitt Romney takes Michigan

Aired January 16, 2008 - 10:00   ET


HOLLY JUSCEN, KRON REPORTER: ... life-threatening infections.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You see this redness and when that redness spreads, we know that's a serious infection.

JUSCEN: Public health officials say the most effective way to prevent skin-to-skin contact transmission is a good scrubbing with soap and water, especially after sexual activity.

In the NEWSROOM, Holly Juscen, KRON 4 News.


HEIDI COLLINS, CNN ANCHOR: Good morning, everybody. I'm Heidi Collins.

TONY HARRIS, CNN, ANCHOR: And I'm Tony Harris.

Staying for you all day in the CNN NEWSROOM. Here's what's on the rundown. Michigan gives Mitt Romney his gold medal. The democrats rolled the dice and make nice ahead of Saturday's vote in Nevada.

COLLINS: Police put down protesters with tear gas and batons in Kenya. We're on the scene in Nairobi.

HARRIS: Will the credit crunch put a squeeze in your kids' student loan. Gerri Willis dealing with the problems and solutions this Wednesday, January 16th. You are in the CNN NEWSROOM.

Breaking news this hour that we want to get to straight away. Three schools near Atlanta, Georgia, are on lockdown. Police are searching for two men suspected of gunning down two fellow officers. Fredricka Whitfield is joining us live with the latest on all of these details.

Hi there, Fred.


Well, an update now. We're learning new numbers that six schools may be on lockdown in the area where the search is under way for two suspects who are believed to have gunned down two police officers with the Dekalb County police force. They were uniformed officers. However, they were working off duty, working security at this apartment complex where you see this video being taken here overnight. When somehow, something went down. Apparently, these officers were looking for a suspicious suspect or a person of interest, and then somehow this gunning down took place.

A tow truck driver in the vicinity actually found the two officers down. One of the officers died on the scene. The other died later at the hospital. And so now, an all-out search involving many jurisdictions here in the Atlanta area are now searching for these two people who are believed to have been seen leaving the area of this crime taking place. Heidi.

COLLINS: Wow. So, six schools locked down now. All right, Fred. Thank you for the update. We'll check back a little later on.

HARRIS: Well, they found his truck, but there is still no sign of a marine corporal accused of killing a pregnant colleague. The truck registered to Corporal Cesar Laurean was located at a motel near the Raleigh-Durham Airport yesterday. Laurean is charged with first- degree murder in the death of marine Lance Corporal Maria Lauterbach. The military is speaking out about the case. Prosecutors say Lauterbach provided little information to back up rape allegations against Laurean. And officials say Lauterbach told them she did not consider him a threat. Lauterbach's remains were found in a fire pit in Laurean's backyard.

COLLINS: The republican road to the White House. There are now three winners knotted at the top. The latest showdown, the Michigan primary. The latest winner, Mitt Romney easily capturing his native state. Coming in second, John McCain, and third, Mike Huckabee. Michigan is seen as an important springboard to the next critical test, which is South Carolina. CNN's Mary Snow is in Charleston this morning.

So Mary, how is the campaign going there?

MARY SNOW, CNN, CORRESPONDENT: Hi, there, Heidi. Well, you know, what's ironic is that you mentioned Michigan is an important springboard to South Carolina, but last night's winner in Michigan, Mitt Romney, said this morning that he's really not expecting to place in first place here, this as the campaign really changes here in South Carolina. Issues are different. Mitt Romney really stressed the economy in Michigan.

He credits his victory to being optimistic, although he was a native son in Michigan and his rivals will say that's what really helped him there. But the themes are going to be changing. Mitt Romney is now setting his sights on Nevada. He thinks that's realistic for him, and there's a caucus on Saturday that's largely being ignored by republicans.

Senator John McCain is vowing his second place that his second- place finish in Michigan will not slow him down. He's predicting that he will win here in South Carolina. He says he's prepared for a fight. One of the things he's been stressing is his military service, and this is a state that has a large military population. National security is going to be a big theme. Expect to hear that over the next couple of days as John McCain is stressing that the Iraq war is a war that the country cannot afford to lose.

But right along, competing with everyone is Mike Huckabee, who's also predicting victory here in South Carolina. Mike Huckabee is saying his broad-based support goes beyond evangelicals and also has the support of small business owners. He, though, is getting some stiff competition from Fred Thompson, the former senator from Tennessee, who is vying for social conservative voters. Fred Thompson said this morning on CNN that he feels he has good momentum in this case. Here's what he had to say.


FRED THOMPSON (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: We're getting good results down here. The crowds have been overflowed. The fire marshals had to close us down a time or two. And the poll numbers are looking good. We're gaining. Others are falling down some. And so, momentum is good. The direction is good. And it's important. There's no question we've got to do very well here. But different people are winning these different major contests, and I think a different person will win Saturday in South Carolina.


SNOW: All these four republican candidates will be canvassing South Carolina today out on the campaign trail. A wide-open race, as Fred Thompson just pointed out. And they're all setting their sights on Florida, the next big contest. And Heidi, there is when Rudy Giuliani, the other republican rival, is going to be stepping in. He's really been staking his claim in Florida, hoping that he'll win there and they go out to super Tuesday. So, a very broad-based race here among the republican contenders -- Heidi.

COLLINS: Yes, it's going to bring a whole other dimension likely, or maybe not. Who really knows.

SNOW: Exactly. Can't predict.

COLLINS: Appreciate it, coming to us live from Charleston, South Carolina. Thanks.

HARRIS: And among the Democrats, Hillary Clinton won Michigan, but the victory is symbolic at best, sort of a beauty contest. There were no delegates at stake, and her chief rivals weren't even on the ballot. The leading Democrat did, however, share the stage and a lot of common ground last night that took part in a debate that was mostly polite and more pointed against the Republicans.


SEN. HILLARY CLINTON (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I want to ask Senator Obama if you will co-sponsor my legislation to try to rein in President Bush so that he doesn't commit this country to his policy in Iraq which both of us are committed to end.

SEN. BARACK OBAMA (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I think we can work on this, Hillary, because I don't think -- you know, we've got unity in the democratic party, I hope, on this. The notion that President Bush could somehow tie the hands of the next president I think is contrary to how our democracy is supposed to work.


HARRIS: The Democrats debated in Nevada, site of the party's next big showdown. Those caucuses this Saturday. Then it is on to South Carolina and the congressional black caucus debate. You can see it Monday night, 8:00 Eastern only on CNN, your home for politics.

COLLINS: Jacqui Jeras standing by now in the weather center looking at all kinds of things across the country. But what we've been talking about, not to be too self-centered, is this possibility of ice or sleet or snow or something in the southeast.

JACQUI JERAS, AMS METEOROLOGIST: Yes. A lot of people excited about it, wanting to get that.


JERAS: But I'll tell you for the most part, you know, at least in the Atlanta metro area, it's not just going to happen. I think we could start out as a little bit of sleet here possibly but really nothing to accumulate and really not enough, I don't think to cause traffic problems. We're going to go a little further to the north for that. We think most of the rain and mixed precip going to come in later in the day today as our lows still way down over here, down off the coast of Louisiana.

Look at all the rain that it is spreading. This is happy rain. This is joyous rain. A lot of people happy to see that, including the folks right there in Tuscaloosa, Alabama. Dry right now, but you can see the clouds have moved in. That's I-20/59 corridor. There's a little backup on the interstate and tough to get around. Rumor is that there are some power lines down. That's unconfirmed information at this time. They're in a big-time brought there as well as many people across the southeast are. And we were talking about one to three inches of rain. It's not a drought buster, but certainly a good thing.

Now some of the rain may come down too heavy at one time, so there are some flood watches in effect there. Flash flood watch for New Orleans and other parts of Louisiana. How much rain are we talking about? I mentioned one to three. That's a good possibility. And everywhere you see the gold here is going to be the heaviest. And also notice the farther south you go for the most part the heavier your rainfall is going to be.

Now, cold air is coming in down the Appalachians, and when that mixes in with that moisture, we are going to be seeing some kind of a wintry mix. And I think the worst of it is going to be into the western Carolinas, on up towards the Virginias. You're going to see snow, of course, into the higher elevations. But it is going to be a little tricky for your travel. And notice the winter storm watch north of Atlanta. So the Atlanta area, the national weather service forecast agrees with me and it doesn't think it's going to be a big deal in the ATL there. There you can see Ashville could pick up a good couple of inches of snowfall in addition to their ice and sleet. So just use a lot of caution if you're going to be traveling. You might go outside and say, oh, look, ice, then it's going to be rain. So, not for very long.

COLLINS: All right. We can deal with that.

HARRIS: Mm-hmm.

COLLINS: Thank you, Jacqui.

JERAS: You're welcome.

HARRIS: Thanks.

Overseas, on alert in Lebanon, Americans urged to be careful and avoid popular gathering spots, the warning after a U.S. embassy vehicle was damaged in a car bomb blast outside Beirut. Three bystanders were killed. Look, it's the first attack on American diplomats in Lebanon in more than 20 years. It comes in the middle of a deepening political crisis between the western-backed government and the Syrian-backed opposition. No one has claimed responsibility for the attack.

COLLINS: President Bush wrapped up his eight-day Mid-east mission today. He is home with a promise from Egypt to work for peace in the region. Mr. Bush vowed to stay committed to reaching an Israeli-Palestinian agreement by the end of his term.


GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I believe the leadership in Israel and the leadership of the Palestinians is committed to a two-state solution. And I know nations in the neighborhood are willing to help, particularly yourself, and I appreciate your strong, constructive support for the process. And I told the president I'm going to stay - you know, they wonder whether or not the American president, when he says something, whether he actually means it. When I say I'm coming back to stay engaged, I mean it.


COLLINS: The President's Mideast tour also included stops in Israel, the West Bank, Bahrain, Kuwait, the United Arab Emirates and Saudi Arabia.

HARRIS: All right and quickly, let's get you back to Fredricka Whitfield. She is following this story of a police officer killed in Dekalb County, Georgia.

Fred, what's the latest? WHITFIELD: Right, intense manhunt under way for two believed suspects involved in the shooting death of two Dekalb County police officers who were uniformed but they were off duty at the time of the shooting. On the phone with us now is the Dekalb county police chief Terrell Bolton.

Chief, what do you know about the circumstances that took place overnight?

VOICE OF TERRELL BOLTON, DEKALB COUNTY POLICE: Actually, we're still in our investigation, and right now it appears as if we had two of our officers that were gunned down while working an off-duty job here in Dekalb County. Shots rang out as they tried to investigate a suspicious person's call. And both officers were fired upon, and both of them are currently deceased. And we're looking for the suspects in this particular incident.

WHITFIELD: And you're looking for the suspects because there were some eyewitness accounts, people who have been able to point you in the right direction that there were at least two people involved in these shootings?

BOLTON: Absolutely. At least two, possibly more. We are keeping our information guarded at this point. However, we do know that there were at least two people involved, and we did have some witnesses that were able to give us some accounts that really, really is going to help us along.

WHITFIELD: How are you able to determine what these two officers were up to, that they were investigating a suspicious person, even though they were off-duty? Does that mean they still correspond with the dispatch, with the police department to let you all know what they're doing, what they're investigating?

BOLTON: Actually, we have the witness information that led us to that conclusion. We also had it corroborated by some additional people that were there. And so, we feel very comfortable that those were the circumstances from which that occurred. And now our focus is trying to figure out where these people are.

WHITIFIELD: And, chief, what can you tell me about the Glenwood Gardens apartments that these two off-duty police officers would be doing security work for the apartment complex? Can you tell me a little bit more about this residence?

BOLTON: You know, as most officers around the country, they always try and augment their salaries by doing off-duty work. This apartment complex, while challenging, is similar to a number of apartment complexes around the country - a lot of issues, social issues there - and these officers were doing their best moonlighting to try and help this community out and try to make life better for those children in this complex.

WHITFIELD: And give me an idea how this is sinking in with your police force. One downed officer is tragic enough, but you've got two. BOLTON: Well, you know, really a bitter pill is swallowed. And right now we're in grieving and we're mourning with the family, as well as the family within the police department. And right now, my focus is to find these people involved in this horrible tragedy, bring them to justice, and do that in a swift and certain way.

WHITFIELD: Police chief, Terrell Bolton, with the Dekalb County police, thank you so much for your time. So, again, Heidi and others, the manhunt under way for at least two suspects involved in the shooting deaths of two off-duty police officers with Dekalb county.

HARRIS: And, boy, you know what, Fred, the interesting piece in this is a lot of these officers, as you know, work as courtesy officers for these apartment complexes, and they really do invaluable work at keeping the peace on those properties. And this is horrible to hear that something like this has happened to these officers in Dekalb County.

Fred, appreciate that update. Thank you.

And still ahead - women worried about what they wear. They don't fear the fashion police in Iraq, just the extremists. Gaza at the salon in the NEWSROOM.


COLLINS: So what as the big news coming out of the MacWorld Expo this year? Something actually pretty small.

Veronica de la Cruz looked at the latest from Apple's Steve Jobs now -- Veronica.


Yes, it's small, light, thin, you know however you want to put it, not quite the unveiling most Apple fans were expecting but there were some pretty interesting offerings nonetheless. I want to show you this small, light, thin. This was definitely, Heidi, the showstopper.

The Mac air notebook weighing in at three pounds, less than an inch thick, and regardless of it being so light, it apparently is a heavyweight when it comes to features. The sub compact notebook boasts a wide-screen display, an eyesight video camera, two gigs of RAM, state-of-the-art Wi-Fi and an 80-gig hard drive. And the price tag, $1,800 bucks.

COLLINS: Not too shabby.


COLLINS: But I think Apple fans wanted to see the iPod part two, didn't they?

DE LA CRUZ: Yes, yes, yes. They did. But there was no iPhone part two. But significant software upgrade to tell you about. The Mac application has been re-designed to tell you exactly where you are, and this upgrade is free to all current iPhone owners. And then Heidi, for iPod video owners, also Apple TV owners, you will be excited to learned that Apple has partnered with a handful of movie studios to offer movie rentals through iTunes which will give Netflix who just announced that they're going to be streaming movies on TV, some competition.

And the finally, there was also an announcement on a new wireless hard drive called the time capsule. It's a pretty neat stool that uses Wi-Fi to help you back up your data. So, Heidi, overall, it wasn't really the keynote address that many Apple enthusiasts and bloggers were hoping for. The blogs, Heidi, were chaotic before Steve Jobs delivered his address.

COLLINS: Chaotic?

DE LA CRUZ: The were chaotic. The Web site for the Apple store went down for a bit. There's also this Wikipedia page which claimed they had his keynote speech. And then of course, the blogs lighting up all over again with news that the speech had been leaked. But the keynote was of course fake. You know, the blogs lighting up but somewhat disappointing for Apple fans this morning.

COLLINS: All right.

HARRIS: They expect so much, though. My goodness.

DE LA CRUZ: Well, you know, as Steve Jobs was saying exactly that. You said you can only dream of having an iPhone, one iPhone in your career. I've had the iPhone, the iPod and the iTouch, so -

COLLINS: The i huh?

DE LA CRUZ: How do you top that?

COLLINS: It is true. People are really wanting that next latest, greatest cool thing.

DE LA CRUZ: Well, Apple fans are crazy. Let me just say that.


DE LA CRUZ: If you log on and read the blogs, just go to

COLLINS: Fascinating. A little tease. All right, Veronica. Appreciate it. Thank you.

DE LA CRUZ: Of course.

COLLINS: You can also catch Veronica every morning on "AMERICAN MORNING" 6:00 a.m. to 9:00 a.m. Eastern.

HARRIS: I have to do a better job keeping those internal thoughts internal. I just blurted it all out there, didn't I?

COLLINS: Just keep your mike off.

HARRIS: Man. The credit crisis may be a bit of a harsh lesson on college campuses. Could student loans take a hit?


COLLINS: Let's take a little peek at the Dow Jones industrial averages. OK, well. It could be worse. It can always be worse.

HARRIS: Yes, it can always be worse.

COLLINS: Down right now, 47 points, resting at 12,453. Yesterday, though, a pretty frightening story, down 278 points or so. Right now, the Nasdaq is down, as well, by 37 points. We're going to continue to watch the business stories for you and these numbers. Maybe just with one hand over our eyes -- yes.

HARRIS: Let's talk about this credit crisis already squeezing your mortgage. Now it looks like student loans may be next. What are we talking about here? Gerri Willis is here to tell us what it can mean to your wallet and how you can better protect yourself.

Gerri, I tell you what this credit crisis and the ripple effect is insane here.


HARRIS: How is it that this could impact student loans?

WILLIS: Well, gets this, Tony. You know what a mess the mortgage market is in.


WILLIS: Well, student loans are sold to investors in exactly the same way mortgages are, bundled together in a process they call securitization. Rising number of defaults and foreclosures in the mortgage industry, investors are wary of buying these kinds of loans. So they're increasing the amount that they require to be paid in order to buy these loans. Bottom line, these costs are going to be passed on to you even if you're just getting a student loan.

HARRIS: So give us a sense of a potential impact here. What might change?

WILLIS: Well, you may need a higher balance in order to qualify for what they call a consolidation loan. This type of loan lets you combine all your student loans into one fixed-interest rate loan. Lenders may start to require balances of $10,000 instead of $5,000. That's because consolidation loans aren't really all that profitable to lenders. It's likely that lenders might even stop advertising these programs.

In addition, loan discounts could be cut up to 50 percent. Now, that means if you had a one percent interest rate reduction from making on-time payments, you may only get half a percentage point or less. You may see fee increases on both federal and private loans, and on private loans, these rates could increase up to one percent.

Finally, Tony, lenders are tightening up their credit standards, so people with credit scores below 650, they may have a hard time getting a loan. In the past, if you had 630 or even 620, you could get a private loan. That's probably not going to be true anymore.

HARRIS: Here we go, circling back to the credit score again. So, I'm looking at those changes that are on the way, and I'm wondering what those students do if they're concerned they might not qualify under these new rules.

WILLIS: Well, if you qualify for a federal loan like a Stafford or a plus loan, you can't be turned away no matter how low your credit score is. And if the interest rates do increase on federal loans, the changes won't be that dramatic. They're really tightly controlled since the rates are set by the government. Now, that said, always exhaust the federal student loan money first before you go looking for private loans.

In private loans, if the lender decides the rate and you'll probably pay more in fees and interest. If your credit is not good, you may consider having a co-signer. You'll be more likely to get a loan with a lower interest rate and fees. Keep in mind, the co-signer has to be responsible for paying back that debt too if you can't.

HARRIS: Absolutely.

WILLIS: And look there are people out there with no credit history. Check out if you fall into that category. This lender has a system that looks at your academic work history, your GPA, your school when deciding to give you credit. And of course, of course, as you said, Tony, keep track of your credit score right now.

HARRIS: Boy, oh, boy. All right. Gerri, I think we could all use a rich uncle here before it's all over. And we should give folks the e-mail address if folks have questions for you.

WILLIS: Well, e-mail us at We love hearing from you and we want your money questions. Send them to us,

HARRIS: There she is. Great photograph. Oh, there she is in the flesh. Gerri Willis, with us this morning. Gerri, great to see you. Thanks.

WILLIS: My pleasure.

COLLINS: Atlanta, Georgia, breaks a record, but not a good one though. Thousands of homes closed to foreclosure. Hundreds already up for auction.


COLLINS: Good morning once again, everybody. 10:30 Eastern time now. I'm Heidi Collins. HARRIS: I'm Tony Harris. Welcome back, everyone, to the CNN NEWSROOM.

Well, six schools near Atlanta, Georgia, are locked down this morning. Police are searching for at least two suspects accused of gunning down two fellow officers. The police chief says it appeared to be an ambush.


BOLTON: It hurts at the heart, and I've never seen such just brutality in terms of people that represent you every day and how they had no chance.


HARRIS: The shooting happened overnight at an apartment complex. The officers were off duty, but were working a security job at the building. The chief says they were responding to a call about a suspicious person when someone opened fire. The names of the officers have not been released. Both had been on the force for less than five years.

COLLINS: A deadly end to a cease-fire in Sri Lanka. Gunmen opened fire with guns and grenades, killing at least 25 civilians on a bus. As many as 50 others were injured. It happened about 150 miles south of the capital, Colombo. The government says separatist rebels are to blame for the attack. An official cease-fire between the two sides officially came to an end this morning, though they resumed fighting about two years ago.

HARRIS: New and deadly clashes today in Kenya, opposition supporters showing their anger over last month's election.

Our Zain Verjee reports from a park where riot police knocked back protesters.


ZAIN VERJEE, CNN STATE DEPARTMENT CORRESPONDENT: It was really a day of drama, confrontation, and brutality, not only here in Nairobi but across the country. The opposition had called for three days of mass demonstrations. The opposition leaders tried to get into the park behind me called Uhuru Park, but there were police and paramilitary forces, hundreds of them around. They fired tear gas canisters into the leaders and their supporters.

They all scattered around the city. The opposition leaders holed up in different hotels. They say now that they are going to regroup and try and come up with what their next move will be. They could try to come back here to Uhuru Park.

Meanwhile, in the western part of Kenya, in Kisumu, that has already seen so much violence, thousands of demonstrators were out on the streets confronting police. Police fired tear gas at them. The police were armed with AK-47s. One report had one man being shot in the back and being killed as well.

We spent some time, too, in Kibera slum, which is just on the outskirts of Nairobi. There are a lot of pro-Raila Odinga, the opposition leader supporters there. They keep telling us no Raila, no peace. They wanted to demonstrate, but police and security forces have ringed the area and are not allowing them to leave. There have been skirmishes, there have been tear gas canisters fired at them as well. And reports that we're now getting is that six people have been shot and wounded and two people have been killed.

Zain Verjee, CNN, Nairobi.


COLLINS: Baghdad bombing by campus. A college area of the Iraqi capital hit by a roadside bomb this morning. The bomb went off just as students were arriving for classes. Police say two people were killed and 10 others wounded. In other Iraqi violence today, a female suicide bomber killed six people in a Diyala province market.

HARRIS: The salon, a place where style and gossip meet, but in Baghdad, what women say or how they dress could cost them their lives.

CNN's Arwa Damon reports.


ARWA DAMON, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): War zone or not, girls like a good gossip, and Amar's Hair Salon is no exception. The day we visit, there is no power, so no work. But there's always the chick talk.

Hadil, a regular here says, "We'll make comments like this woman always comes in with a different style."

"That's more in the past, her friend Yasmin says. "Now, it's different subjects, like today there was something in the streets or today so-and-so happened. Now, we always talk about the situation because our whole day is defined by the situation."

The situation even defines clothing. Extremists target women wearing un-Islamic dress. And so, Amar explains that these days, the fashion commentary is more like, "How can she go out in the current situation in such a short skirt?"

It wasn't so long ago that this scene was unimaginable. "All the salons were threatened and then shut down," Hadil explains.

Those that stayed open were attacked. And rather than meet a fate like this, salons across the country shut their doors, including Amar's. And while women are so fearful, thanks to a recent reduction in violence, Amar is back in business, even if only for a few hours a day.

"The first day I was scared," she remembers. "I was scared I would reopen and then the situation would get worse." I asked them how they're able to overcome their fear. "This is Iraq's nature," Manal explains. "We have a sort of strength, a sort of ability to face the risk, and we have faith. This allows us to overcome fear."

"What the world needs to know," Yasmin says, "is that when they're in their homes, on the streets, they are safe. Me, I can be in my bed under my covers and I don't feel safe."

These women say that this chapter in their lives will never be over. There's a saying they quote: "You don't know if you should laugh or cry." And these girls are choosing laughter.

"Well, if I lived in your country and I hadn't witnessed these tragedies," Yasmin says, "I would probably look 18."


HARRIS: Oh, I love that. Arwa Damon joining us live from Baghdad. Arwa, anything to get more of these sort of slice-of-life pieces out of Iraq, we know how difficult it is, though. We know you're trying. When you visited the salon, the power was out. Wondering if basic services are back on.

DAMON: No, Tony, they are not. In fact, a lot of Iraqis are saying that they are worse now than they ever were. Households that we're talking to are saying that if they're lucky, they get about an hour of power a day. So, what they try to do is run generators, but the big irony in Iraq is that often times, there's fuel shortages, so they cannot buy fuel to run the generator.

And what you will see some families trying to do just to conserve energy and whatever little fuel they have in their generator is gather around one small little burning heater in their living rooms, literally piling in 12, 15 people just to stay warm and try to make it through the night.

And also, the day that we were in the salon, it wasn't just an issue that the power was out, but the water was out as well.

HARRIS: Boy, you know, I'm just -- I'm reaching here a little bit, but I'm just curious when you get an opportunity to talk to real Iraqis, as was the case here, what do they say about their country's future?

DAMON: You know, Tony, that is such a difficult and complicated question for Iraqis to have to answer, because there's still so much uncertainty out there and there's such conflicting emotions. A lot of Iraqis will tell you that they're actually fearful to hope because they don't really yet know what the future is going to hold.

And even though we're seeing this relatively reduced levels of violence, a lot of Iraqis are saying when they look around, they don't recognize what their country has become anymore and they don't like what they're seeing. If we just take Baghdad as an example, a family I was just talking to is saying look at Baghdad. It's a country that's been split into all of these sectarian blocks. There's a hatred and fear that has been sewn into our very essence, giving an example of how can anyone get over having to go to the morgue, collect a loved one's body who's gotten drill holes in their head or watch ...


DAMON: ...their child being gunned down in front of them. So these wounds, this pain that Iraq has to deal with, really, a lot of people are saying it's going to take generations if ever they do overcome it.

HARRIS: CNN's Arwa Damon for us in Baghdad. Arwa, appreciate it, thank you.

He says no. Can anyone change this billionaire's mind about running for president?


HARRIS: Hey, want to show you some pictures just in to CNN -- oh great, live pictures right now from our affiliate here in the Atlanta area, WXIA. This is the scene as police continue to search for suspects connected to the shooting, the killings of two officers, two Dekalb County police officers.

And take a look at this. This is the most dramatic scene so far of the officers moving to a location, perhaps staging but perhaps responding to something, some information they have received, perhaps a sighting.

Dekalb County police chief Terrell Bolton just talked to Fredricka Whitfield a short time ago. He said that we do know that there were at least two people involved in the shooting deaths of these officers, and we did have some witnesses that were able to give us some accounts that really, really will help us along.

And perhaps police now are responding to some additional information, but it looks like there's some staging going on right now. This is a scene, obviously, we will continue to watch. The gunning down really of two off-duty cops and the search for the suspects connected to this. We'll continue to follow this story and the latest pictures right here in the NEWSROOM.

COLLINS: New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg says he won't run for president. A coy ploy?

CNN's Carol Costello takes a look.


CAROL COSTELLO, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Michael Bloomberg is the man who would be an Independent candidate for U.S. president if only, if only, he would say yes. DOUG BAILEY, FOUNDER, "THE HOTLINE": Michael Bloomberg, if he runs, will be elected president of the United States.

COSTELLO: He is Republican Doug Bailey, founder of "The Hotline" political news letter, and he is Democrat Gerald Rafshoon, who worked for President Carter. And this is their latest bipartisan effort to force Bloomberg's hand to get him on the presidential ticket.

BAILEY: Sign the petition, let's get this man into the race.

COSTELLO: It's an online petition meant to show the mayor just how many Americans want him in the Oval Office. Never mind Bloomberg himself has consistently denied he's interested.

MAYOR MICHAEL BLOOMBERG, NEW YORK CITY: I think you're wasting my time. I'm not a candidate. This country does not need another candidate, and I am not a candidate. If everybody in the world was dead and I was the only one alive, yes, sure.

COSTELLO: Still, Bloomberg lives in a political world where no sometimes means yes and he has been polling voter sentiment across the country.

MAURICE CARROLL, DIR., QUINNIPIAC POLLING INST.: He's doing everything that you should do if you're going to run. He's got a zillion dollars. But when you have that kind of money, you know, you don't have to sort of look at the bank account and look at -- you do it when you feel like it.

COSTELLO: And some believe Bloomberg may feel like it now. Why -- the economy, stupid. Oil prices are up, stocks are down, the housing market's a mess, and recession is in the wind.

BAILEY: If the economy is failing, it would be nice to have a president who knows something about it.

COSTELLO: And there are analysts who agree with Bailey, saying fixing the economy would be a cornerstone of a Bloomberg presidential bid. It's obvious, they say, every time Bloomberg opens his mouth.

Listen to what he told a local audience in Harlem a few days ago.

BLOOMBERG: Whether the term recession, which is a technical term, will be appropriate, I have no idea. But the country is in a -- has some very serious economic problems.

COSTELLO: And if Bailey's and Rafshoon's petition drive gathers tons of signatures, Bloomberg has some ammo to woo voters. New York City is fiscally sound, its murder rate is at the lowest in decades. Bloomberg just has to say yes.

(on camera): But Maurice Carroll says Bloomberg won't say yes until he's absolutely sure he could win, and he won't know that until after Super Tuesday.

Carol Costello, CNN, Washington. (END VIDEOTAPE)

COLLINS: For more on the presidential candidates and their next stops, go to It's your one-stop shop for all things political.

HARRIS: OK, the first 10 trading days of the new year have brought five sell-offs of more than 200 points. Man, the steepest drop came yesterday. Susan Liscovicz is on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange.

Susan, good morning to you. Any signs of a possible turnaround?


HARRIS: Foreclosures, as you know, are up across the country. Still the numbers here in Atlanta may surprise you. More than 500 homes are being auctioned off this week, all of them foreclosures. The company running the auction says the homes range in value from $30,000 to $700,000. Next month, nearly 7,000 homeowners in the Atlanta area may be facing foreclosure.

COLLINS: Ahead, the troop throws its support behind the ballet's newest dancer.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I think it's great that someone as old as that should be able to still do still dance. And I really think it's just superb.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I think same. I agree.


COLLINS: So cute. We agree to. Check this out, 88-years-old and just starting out on the stage.


HARRIS: You know, I'm just wondering if we have a shot of the team working on the podcast today. They're exceptional. There we go. Outstanding work going on right now for the podcast. Sure it is. Yes, that whole room is working on the podcast, Heidi.

Everyone in that shot right now. Travel, travel, travel -- working on the award-winning podcast available to you anytime. I guess we put it together in the next hour or so. What you do is you go to CNN -- did you want to say something here, Heidi?


HARRIS: Go to and you download the CNN NEWSROOM daily podcast, available to you 24/7. Download it today, no excuses.

COLLINS: Well, it's his first big role on stage, and it comes at age 88. A grandfather makes his debut and a big impression.

CNN's Sasha Harriman reports.


SASHA HARRIMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: It's hard work doing ballet, especially if you're 88. But John Lowe is living proof you're never too old to learn.

JOHN LOWE, BALLET DANCER: You feel so much better. You're aware of how you hold yourself and how you walk. You see people walking around humped over like this and chewing a burger and smoking a fag and it paralyzes me.

HARRIMAN: The grandad of 11 may be drawing a pension, but he's also drawing a lot of attention starring in a ballet, Prokofiev's The Stone Flower in his hometown of Witchford, Cambridgeshire.

HELEN PETIT, DANCE TEACHER: The old cross man is the perfect part for John, so I was thrilled to be able to give it to him. It's ideal. Then of course we have some lovely gems in tutus which has made the children feel very inspired.

HARRIMAN: At rehearsal, he's already inspired his fellow dancers.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I was really surprised, and I think it's great that someone as old as that should be able to still do dance. And I really think it's just superb.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I think the same. I agree.

HARRIMAN: John took up dance nine years ago, an ambition after years watching ballet from the wings as a theater manager. He's got a while to go before he reaches Swan Lake standards, like this Matthew Bourne Production, but John is busy practicing his footwork.

LOWE: The exercise that we get from this means that you can, at my age, go to the barre, bend down, your knees don't crack because I do it three times a day here and every day at my house. I have a barre over the mantel piece. And you go home, perhaps, physically tired but uplifted. I dread the day when I'm not able to do it anymore. I don't know. I could drop dead anytime, I suppose. But, that would be nice rather than going into a nursing home.

HARRIMAN: No danger of that right now. He's 88 and just getting started with his first formal job in ballet.

Sasha Harriman, CNN, London.


HARRIS: What to say after that story? What to say? I say still to come in the NEWSROOM: 96-years-old and still on the cutting edge.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You just can't retire, quit, and stay home because you get old fast. I'm far from that.


HARRIS: I'm watching these stories, I feel like a pre-teen. Barbershop record in the NEWSROOM.