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Military Recruiting Office Targeted in Times Square; Yellow Alert to School Bus Tumbles; Employment, Income, Housing For African- Americans Disparities Linger Especially for Women; College Student Murdered on Campus

Aired March 06, 2008 - 09:00   ET


TONY HARRIS, CNN ANCHOR: And good morning, everyone. You are in the CNN NEWSROOM. I'm Tony Harris.
HEIDI COLLINS, CNN ANCHOR: Hi there, everybody. I'm Heidi Collins. Watch events come into the NEWSROOM live on Thursday, March 6th. Here's what's on the rundown.

That explosion in Times Square. A military recruiting office is hit. New York police about to hold a news conference. We'll bring it to you live.

HARRIS: They voted, but no delegates were awarded. Now Democrats thinking about do-over votes in Florida and Michigan.

COLLINS: New questions about vaccines, and a possible link to autism. Parent, you need to watch Dr. Gupta coming up in the NEWSROOM.

HARRIS: And at the top of this hour, a developing story. A small explosion and big fallout in New York's Times Square this morning. Traffic is moving again. But the question remains: who set the explosive that damaged a military recruiting station?

On the scene now, CNN's Alina Cho.

Alina, we are standing by waiting to hear from Police Commissioner Kelly, as well as Mayor Bloomberg, but what are authorities saying about the incident so far?

ALINA CHO, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, here's the very latest, Tony. Good morning to you from New York's Times Square. We just got word from the Pentagon just in the past half hour or so that an e-mail alert has actually been sent to all 1,650 army recruiting centers around the country so they are aware of what happened here in New York City, pre-dawn this morning.

FBI agents are on the scene. The Department of Homeland Security, keeping a very close eye on what happened. The truth is, any time you hear the words bomb and Times Square in the same sentence people are bound to get scared.

Here is what happened, according to police, at around 4:15 a.m., pre-dawn, somebody set off a small incendiary device at an army recruiting center here in Times Square. For people familiar with the area, it happened right under the jumbotron. Again it happened pre- dawn at Times Square.

It was essentially under lockdown for a couple of hours. Traffic is now flowing again. Subway service has been restored. There was some minor damage to the building itself, but no injuries to report. People who were in the area say they heard a huge bang. Even felt the explosion, too. Let's listen.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It had been something, there was a huge bang, there's no car accident. So...

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I'm on the 23rd and I just heard this huge bang in the building shoot.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I'm on the 44th floor and I heard it. I could feel it from above.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Terrible so. I came down with a friend of mine, we were up there, I think we got moved back about two blocks. I don't know.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I supposed it's kind of stupid if I could feel it from the 44th floor, why did I come down here? I don't know.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Well, no, very strange. I'm on the 23rd floor and I -- it shook as well. So it was a big bang. I probably -- I can't see any damage or anything. It was only there.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I didn't see it. I just felt it. I'm on the 44th floor, which almost the very top floor and I could feel it. So something happened.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It was just a bang that was loud enough to shake me out of bed. That was about it.


CHO: Now, the army recruiting center where this happened has been the site of several anti-war protests over the year starting at the outset of the war in 2003, but it is simply too early to make any sort of connection there.

What we can tell you, Tony, is that the FBI has launched a full- scale investigation. The FBI is urging anybody with any information on this to contact them immediately, naturally. And also, behind me, a pack of reporters waiting for that news conference to happen. We'll bring it to you live when it happens -- Tony.

HARRIS: Hey, Alina, just a couple of questions. I believe we're inside the two-minute window to the start of the news conference. I'm curious. New York City, since 9/11, obviously, is one of the more wired, electronically wired cities in the world right now, and we saw some frames a moment ago of what looked like surveillance tape of the explosion. I'm wondering if the subway system is open again, if traffic is moving through the area again, are we to assume that all of the evidence that could be gathered from that area has been gathered and that now maybe some of the attention turns to whatever surveillance evidence is available?

CHO: Well, that is a big question, Tony. Of course, as you well know, Times Square is wired with surveillance cameras. The big question is: did any of the cameras in the area catch anything? That is an open question, and we are pursuing that with the New York City police.

We can tell you that it was apparently a green ammunition can with low-grade bomb-making materials that was thrown or somehow ended up at this army recruiting center. Police, we are hearing, have collected shards from that can. They are examining that very closely and, of course, we are watching for the details, again, awaiting that news conference. We'll have much more after we hear from the mayor and the police commissioner -- Tony.

HARRIS: And folks are just joining us now, particularly, say, in the west -- on the West Coast, maybe it's worth mentioning again that the Pentagon is taking this very seriously, to the extent of issuing an alert?

CHO: That's absolutely right. In fact, right at the top of the live shot I mentioned that the Pentagon has sent out an e-mail alert to all 1,650 army recruiting centers across the country, just so they are aware of what happened here in New York City.

Remember, Tony, this army recruiting center, the site of the incident, has been the site of several anti-war protests over the years starting at the outset of the war in 2003. Again, it is simply too early to make any sort of connection, but they're watching that closely as they gather evidence here in Times Square.

HARRIS: And Alina, obviously, we're ramping just a bit, maybe you can sort of describe the scene for us, if you would, when you arrived on location. I understand it happened in the small hours of the morning, about 3:45, or so, a.m. you can correct me there if I'm incorrect with that information. But maybe if you would describe the scene, because you've been reporting on the story throughout the morning for AMERICAN MORNING.

CHO: That's right. Initially we thought it was 3:45 a.m. Eastern Time. Turns out, there was a revision to that from the New York City police. It happened, we believe, at around 4:15 a.m. When I arrived here just after 6:00 a.m., the street was still closed off to traffic. I mean, imagine in the heart of New York City, an empty Times Square.


CHO: That's essentially what I saw when I got here, but for the television cameras, but for the police on the scene and, of course, the helicopters buzzing overhead. But now, of course, the traffic is flowing again. Heading southbound here in Times Square. Subway service has been restored. And as you well know, Tony, that is very, very good news at this 9:00 hour on the East Coast.

HARRIS: Absolutely.

CHO: People head to work in America's largest city -- Tony.

HARRIS: OK, so, Alina, we're going to let you go and we're going to continue to monitor this situation, but as we do a bit of a reset here, we're talking about an explosion in the heart of New York's Times Square in the small hours of this morning.

A small explosion targeting a military recruitment station. No one injured, which is the good news in all of this, but the FBI is now assisting the city police. We are standing by waiting for a news conference with New York Police Commissioner Ray Kelly and the mayor of New York City, Michael Bloomberg. When that begins we will bring it to you live right here in the NEWSROOM.

COLLINS: A do-over debate in the battle for Democratic delegates. That tops our presidential election coverage this morning. Voters in Florida and Michigan have already gone to the polls, but for Democrats, the votes didn't count.

The Democratic Party stripped the state of their convention delegates after they have violated party rules by moving up their primaries. Now officials in Florida and Michigan are calling for their voters to have a voice.

The debate fuel by the tight fight for delegates between Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton. One suggestion out there, the states polled repeat primaries. There's the possibility of 210 delegates up for grabs in Florida and 156 in Michigan.

Lawmakers from Florida and Michigan trying to find a solution now to the do-over debate, one everybody can live with, and that will be the challenge.

Kate Bolduan live from Capitol Hill this morning.

So Kate, what went on there last night? Lot of talk about it the morning after?

KATE BOLDUAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, absolutely. People are still talking about it here.

Well, you pretty -- you laid it out there. It's a clear disagreement between how Democratic House members and the Democratic Party. Now, that's -- because this primary race is so close, that's why congressional members gathered last night, about a dozen of them, to put their heads together, begin this conversation about how -- starting to hear from each other about how they think the delegate issue in Michigan and Florida should be resolved.

Some of the options that were tossed around is a do-over, as we've -- as we've been calling it this morning, or simply just using the primary results that have already happened in those two states. Now, the members, they say that their delegates, having their delegates count is crucial to keeping this race fair. Now, Congresswoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz of Florida, she criticized the Democratic National Committee for the position that the members, the delegations in the state are in now.

Listen to this.


REP. DEBBIE WASSERMAN SCHULTZ (D), FLORIDA: Unfortunately, Howard Dean made the wrong decision initially and that's part of why we have to have this meeting so that we make sure in November, we're in the strongest possible position as a party to elect the next president of the United States. We need to undo the damage that was done at the beginning of this process by the Democratic National Committee.


BOLDUAN: Undo the damage she says. But just this morning the chair of the DNC, Howard Dean himself, said that he and the Democratic National Committee, are sticking with their position.

Listen to this.


HOWARD DEAN, DNC CHAIRMAN: The fact of the matter is, you cannot violate the rules of the process and then expect to get forgiven for it. What happens here has a big affect on what happens at the -- nominating convention. It could determine, as you pointed out, the nominee.

We've got to play by the rules. If you don't do that then the half of the people in the Democratic Party whose candidate doesn't win this nomination are going to go away believing they've been cheated.


BOLDUAN: Now, Dean did seem to point to, or at least question, the members' motive for crying foul now after the fact. That's true, the primaries happened months ago. A couple factors that could contribute to that is the fact that the candidates had agreed to not campaign in these states. Hillary Clinton did win both primaries, but Barack Obama's name wasn't even on the ballot in Michigan. So something to consider -- Heidi?

COLLINS: Boy. It is fascinating. Do we have any idea the next step? I mean are the lawmakers talking about meeting again?

BOLDUAN: Well, the members say that they have no formal schedule, no dates set, but they do say that the conversation is going to continue and, of course, as we always say, we'll be watching.

COLLINS: Yes, we will be watching. Thanks so much, Kate Bolduan, appreciate it.

BOLDUAN: You're welcome.

HARRIS: OK. So Florida's Republican governor is hoping to lead the charge to let the state's Democratic voters have their say. Governor Charlie Crist made his case on CNN's AMERICAN MORNING.


GOV. CHARLIE CRIST (R), FLORIDA: The argument that Governor Granholm of Michigan and myself are making is that the people of our respective states voted. They cast that precious right. They made their voice heard and those delegates who represent them should be seated at both conventions.

This is not just a Democratic issue, it's also a Republican issue. The Democratic Party has said that none of the Democratic delegates from Florida will be seated and the Republican Party has said that only half of the Republicans will be seated. We want them all.

People turned out in droves, irrespective of what some party bosses in Washington, D.C. said. What they cared about is exercising their precious right to vote and they did it in record numbers. They did it on January the 29th and those votes should be counted, those delegates should be seated. And I believe, I really do, the cooler heads will prevail. I think at the end of the day, the common sense will be the order of the day and that those delegates will be seed.


HARRIS: Governor Crist says the state won't pay for a second primary. Party officials say that they won't pay either.

COLLINS: Northeastern Ohio struggling to recover from an ice storm. The icing brought down power lines in a couple of counties. Its 40,000 customers, in fact, still have no electricity this morning. Power may not be restored to everybody until tomorrow. So in the meantime, shelters are open. At least one death is also blamed on the storm, which brought flooding to the region.

Officials have now confirmed two tornadoes did touch down in North Carolina during storms on Tuesday. The tornadoes damaged homes, but no injuries were reported. The storms also pounded parts of the state with five inches of rain.

HARRIS: But if you're talking about northeast Ohio, oh, this man, Reynolds Wolf was there. Cleveland and...

COLLINS: He was there for a while.

HARRIS: He was there for a while.

REYNOLDS WOLF, CNN METEOROLOGIST: Tony, we've got -- I got a bone to pick with you, man. I heard yesterday. I didn't get a chance to hear but I heard you said on the air that for people who happen to be in the airport at Cleveland to find Reynolds Wolf and give him a hard time.

COLLINS: Yes, you..

HARRIS: They found you.

COLLINS: That's what he said on the air. You said everybody said...

WOLF: I can only imagine. I was actually getting coffee...

HARRIS: They found you and they embraced you, correct?

WOLF: I was actually at a coffee, sitting, getting a cup of coffee, and was actually punched in the arm by a...


WOLF: And she said that Tony told me to do this.


WOLF: I'm not kidding you.

HARRIS: But that's all love. That's what it is. All love.

WOLF: It happened, man.



COLLINS: And you always seem to find it, Reynolds.

WOLF: We do what we can.

HARRIS: And he's bruised but not beaten.

WOLF: That's right. You got it, man.

COLLINS: Yes. He's a tough guy. All right, Reynolds. We'll check back a little later. Thank you.

WOLF: Talk to you soon.

COLLINS: All right.

Autism and vaccines and a possible link in one child. What does it mean for your little one? We'll talk about it with Dr. Sanjay Gupta coming up.

ANNOUNCER: CNN NEWSROOM brought to you by...

(COMMERCIAL BREAK) HARRIS: Welcome back, everyone, to the CNN NEWSROOM. I'm Tony Harris. A pre-dawn explosion. Who's behind this morning's blast in Times Square? You see the microphones there. We are standing by to bring you a news conference there any moment live. We'll do that right near the NEWSROOM. But first a break.


ANNOUNCER: Live breaking news, unfolding developments, see for yourself in the CNN NEWSROOM.

HARRIS: And again, our top story this morning, an explosion in the heart of New York's Times Square. Described as a small one but targeted a military recruitment center. We are standing by -- the microphone's there -- to hear from the New York Police Commissioner Ray Kelly and New York City mayor Michael Bloomberg any moment now.

When that news conference begin, we will bring it to you right here in the NEWSROOM.

COLLINS: Important health news to tell you about today. The family of a Georgia girl speaking out about autism and vaccines a little bit later this morning. They believe a preservative in vaccines caused their child to develop autism-like symptoms. The parents took their case to a special federal vaccine court. It says they deserve compensation.

Here to sort this all out, chief medical correspondent Dr. Sanjay Gupta.

Sanjay, the government isn't actually saying that vaccines cause autism, are they?

DR. SANJAY GUPTA, CNN CHIEF MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: They are not saying that. They are being very specific. Well, this week with regards to this particular girl, 9-year-old Hannah Polling, they talk about her case specifically as someone who received vaccines around the age of 18 months old. And within 48 hours after that started to develop high fever, inconsolable crying, and then over a period of months, subsequently was diagnosed with symptoms that are consistent with autism spectrum disorder.

A lot of this is going to come out at a press conference later on this morning, but this may be the first case where there's actually compensation given to the family of the girl based on vaccines specifically.

I wanted -- you know, we've been looking into this for some time. I want to make sure you have a couple of important facts about the autism vaccine case specifically. This is what they're saying. "The facts of this case meet the statutory criteria demonstrating that vaccinations significantly aggravated an underlying mitochondrial disorder which manifested as regressive encephalopathy with features of autism spectrum disorder."

That's a mouthful, Heidi. COLLINS: Yes.

GUPTA: But I think what's important to point out here, is this particular girl as they tested her, they found that, in fact, she had the gene for a mitochondrial disorder. These are this sort of power houses in your body cells. She had the gene for that. So the question is: did this vaccine somehow worsen an already existing condition?


GUPTA: And exactly what happened. This may all raise more questions than answers. But this is sort of what we're talking about this morning.

COLLINS: Yes. And it's very, very important to make that distinction between every child out there who may or may not have this sort of, I don't want to call it dormant, but this underlying condition that parents just don't know about, and then you get the vaccine and it comes out or, as they said in the ruling, it's exacerbated.

GUPTA: That's right. And as you point out, I think it is important to be very careful here. This is just one particular case that we're talking about. We don't even know all the details yet. They're going to come out later on this morning probably, but we do know that she had this underlying condition, she got the vaccines, and the time sequence was that she started to have some troubles.

Are they related? Did the vaccines contribute? Did the underlying condition have anything to do with this? These are questions we don't know the answers to for sure, but people are still trying to piece this all together.

COLLINS: All right. Forgive me, Sanjay, because everybody is talking about this, this morning...


COLLINS: well as what happened in New York City.

You see Mayor Michael Bloomberg there now talking more about this bizarre explosion that happened right there in Times Square. Let's listen in.

MICHAEL BLOOMBERG, NEW YORK CITY MAYOR: ...Secretary Mike Balboni from the Governor Spitzer's office, Tim Tompkins from the Times Square bid, and of course, Police Commissioner Ray Kelly and some of his most senior staff.

At approximately 3:45 this morning there was a small explosion outside of the military recruiting station right behind me here in Times Square, the crossroads of the world. There were no injuries, thank goodness, and police are now conducting a thorough investigation into the incident. Police Commissioner Ray Kelly will have more to say about that in a moment, but I would like to make two points. First, the fact that this appears deliberately directed at the recruiting station insults every one of our brave men and women in uniform stationed around the world, fighting to defend our freedoms and the things that we hold so dear.

Second, and I especially want to direct this to the people watching from around this country and around the world, New York City is back and open for business. Traffic, as you can see, is flowing through Times Square. The subways and trains are running again, and people are going about their business. Shopping, working and sightseeing. They are not intimidated.

Whoever the coward was that committed this disgraceful act on our city will be found and prosecuted to the full extent of the law. We will not tolerate such attacks, nor will we let them destroy our freedom to live peacefully and safely in the greatest city of the world.

In a moment I'll continue to do exactly that with my day, and I think all New Yorkers should do the same.

And now let me turn the floor over to Police Commissioner Ray Kelly. Ray?

COMM. RAY KELLY, NYPD: Thank you, Mr. Mayor. As the mayor said we are joined by Mark Mershon, the deputy director of the FBI, and members of the police department executive staff.

NYPD investigators from our bomb squad, our crime scene unit, arson and explosion unit are examining evidence collected here at the scene. This was not a particularly sophisticated device. It was a low-order explosive in a -- an ammunition box similar to this, although we believe the box was slightly larger.

What we're doing now, of course, is examining locations where boxes such as this can be obtained. They are readily available in army/Navy stores, but these types of explosives can certainly cause injury or even death.

We are, of course, looking for possible witnesses, anyone with any information, we ask you to call our tips hot line. That's 1-800- 577-TIPS. There is one witness who has given us information. He was in this area shortly before the blast took place. He saw an individual riding on a bicycle right here on the island in what he described as a suspicious manner. This individual was wearing a hood and dark colored clothing, and was also carrying a backpack or wearing a backpack. He did not see this individual's face. Not able to give us a complete description, but, again, as I said, we're looking for any additional witnesses.

Obviously, we're looking at video cameras in the area. We're doing surveys and canvases going back into the hotels in the area, and businesses in the Times Square area. Again, anybody with information, we ask you to call our tips hot line, 1-800-577-TIPS. Now let me ask Mark Mershon to make any comments for us.

MARK MERSHON, FBI DEPUTY DIRECTOR: Good morning. The crime scene from this early morning explosives attack was secured and processed by the NYPD. They did a terrific job as they always do. The forensics from the crime scene will be shipped to the FBI laboratory in Quantico, Virginia. The investigation will proceed under the auspices of the Joint Terrorism Task Force, which is staffed, of course, with the FBI and NYPD principally, as well as number of other federal, state and local agencies.

Thank you.

BLOOMBERG: We'd be happy to take some questions. Yes, sir? What we know is exactly what I said. There was a small device that was designated behind me. Nobody saw the person placing that device. There was a bicyclist here earlier that somebody said acted suspiciously. Those are the facts that we know. There is no evidence of any connection to anybody else, but that's all we know, and we don't want to get ahead of the story here. We'll only tell what you we know, and we're not in the business of speculating. Miss?


BLOOMBERG: At the moment all we know is it's a similar kind of thing. A small bomb, small explosive device going off outside of a building when nobody happened to see the perpetrator. Different kind of device. That was a small grenade. This was in a box the commissioner showed you. Yes, sir?


KELLY: We don't know the specifics of the bike.

BLOOMBERG: Yes, miss? Miss?


BLOOMBERG: We did not -- no, there's no -- so far, nobody has come forward and said that they saw the person on the bike plant, throw or otherwise go near any device, and nobody saw the actual device go off, at least nobody that has yet come forward. Sir?


BLOOMBERG: Not to the best of our knowledge. There's no connection. Police do their job all the time keeping this city safe. Do you know what penalties...

KELLY: I'm sorry. Say that again. It was -- we believe it's a low-order explosive. We don't know what the ignitor was, or what the fuse was, but it was in an ammunition box, as I said, slightly larger than the one I showed you.

BLOOMBERG: Right. Yes?


KELLY: In 2005 and 2007, (INAUDIBLE) hand grenades were used and explosive. Black powder was put into those grenades and that caused the explosion. Here, it may be similar powder. We still have to determine that, but it was placed in an ammunition box. That was the carrier for the explosive. There was no grenade.

BLOOMBERG: Yes, sir? Right. A little louder please. Nothing whatsoever. I've told you exactly what we know. There is no other evidence so far. No other -- no calls, no connection. The commissioner has asked anybody that has any knowledge of what happened to call our tips hot line, and it's 1-800...

KELLY: 1-800-577-TIPS.

BLOOMBERG: 1-800-577-TIPS. Yes, sir? Say again? Personally? No. Best I was around the corner and I let the professionals do their job. They don't need somebody getting in their way, and I think we're very careful to try to always do that. We bring in the professionals and we try to make sure that we inform the public exactly of what we know, and nothing else, and we don't speculate.

Yes, sir? This country needs to have a military. Sadly, we've always needed a military, and it looks like we always will, to fight and protect our freedoms and I certain am thrilled to have them here. Anybody that wants to serve this country should be able to do so, and having it right in the crossroads of the world I think sends the right message, but sadly we live in a world where our freedoms are always threatened. And thank goodness there are young men and women willing to devote their lives to protecting the rest of us and letting us have those freedoms. We'll take one more question. Sure?

RAY KELLEY, NEW YORK CITY POLICE COMMISSIONER: Yes. There was an officer in the substation. He heard the explosion. He went outside. He actually joined up with the witness that I told you about before. That witness never saw the individual on the bike again.

The witness that I'm talking about went down to 42nd Street, bought a newspaper, and returned to the area when he heard the explosion. He was roughly in front of the substation, when the explosion went off. And the officer in the station, he and the officer joined and they -- again, as I said, they did not see the individual on the bike.

BLOOMBERG: Well, we'll take one last question. Yes, sir? Yes, sir?

I don't think that anybody can do anything with (INAUDIBLE). This city is safe. The police department has kept the city safe and we will continue to do that. Our police department has done a wonderful job, and the public has a right to expect that and they will do that and we're not in the business of speculating.

Ray, do you want to add something?

KELLEY: Obviously, we're concerned and we're doing a very thorough investigation working closely with the federal authorities. As what we're trying to say, all of the evidence is being assessed in Quantico, Virginia by the FBI lab. They're doing a terrific job. All three cases are being examined.

BLOOMBERG: We'll take last question. Sir?

Any arrested from the previous...

KELLEY: No, no.

BLOOMBERG: We've never arrested. We've never arrested anybody. We'll give you the last question, sir.

The high-profile of being in Times Square is exactly what we try to do, what we try to achieve by bringing things together. We're pleased to have the recruiting station here. We have a police station right literally next door. In the case of the small station that the commissioner maintains, it's fully staffed all the time. And there was a police officer there at 3:45 this morning.

This is an area like the rest of the city, where the police department deploys their resources based on what they think the threats are. That varies all the time, and for obvious security reasons we're not going discuss what the commissioner's plans are. Thank you very much.

HEIDI COLLINS, CNN ANCHOR: New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg there. Joined by commissioner -- Police Commissioner Ray Kelly talking more about this explosion that happened according to their reports 3:45 this morning.

And talking a lot about the fact that, in his words, New York City is back in business, and of course, they're main priority right now is to try to find someone who may have seen anything. So asking people to come forward and give them any information that they may have and what they may have seen at that very, very early hour.

Also, learned from Commissioner Kelly that this device, the explosive device was found in an ammunitions box. It was not grenades. Nothing like that. But unfortunately, as we continue to tell you, apparently at this point they don't know of anyone who saw very much of anything and they are hoping that people will come forward and tell them if they did noticed anything strange.

Still looking for a biker who was in the area, but there are no reports of anyone seeing that biker doing anything suspicious. So, there you have it. We'll continue to watch this story, of course, for you out in New York City this morning.

TONY HARRIS, CNN ANCHOR: Yellow alert to school bus tumbles. Kids go flying and a battle rages over whether seat belts would stop this from happening. Look at these pictures. A closer look, straight ahead for you in the NEWSROOM.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK) COLLINS: Quickly we want to take you to something else this developing, just in to the CNN NEWSROOM. Now, according to the "New Jersey Star Ledger," take a look at this, we are looking at the aftermath of kind of a bizarre situation here.

There was apparently a parking garage or building, not exactly positive of what the building is. According to these reports, it was the former Westinghouse Building. There are plans for it to be demolished but in the process of it all, and I believe before they were ready, there were four unoccupied cars inside that were crushed.

This is all happening in Newark and these pictures coming in to us from News 12, New Jersey in Newark. If you're familiar with the areas, Orange Street, very near the fire department, apparently. They are also working the scene. So, again, there was no inside of those cars. That's four of them were crushed. And we are looking at the aftermath there.

Everybody trying to making sure that people are safe and I imagine more won't come down, because we did see some cars parked outside that had bricks still lying on top of them. So we'll keep our eye on this story again, coming out of Newark, New Jersey.

HARRIS: You know, our Greg Hunter is working on an interesting story this morning. When you put your kids in the car, seat belts help keep them safe, obviously. But most school buses, as you know, don't have seat belts. And Greg Hunter is joining us now from a -- oh, you're actually on a school bus there in West Harrison, New York.

Greg, let's start the conversation here with a question. How safe are kids on buses without belts?

GREG HUNTER, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Tony, by any measure you'd like, buses are notoriously safe. They're big. They're built strong. They have lots of metal and they have lots of padding in the seats. Especially, this modern bus. This is a modern compartment. They have high backs, lots of padding. So the question is, why would you want to change something that is already really safe?


HUNTER (voice-over): A frightening scene in Ohio, when a bus rolled over hurling kids out of their seats. No one was seriously hurt. That doesn't surprise New York State Pupil Transportation director Peter Mannella.

PETER MANNELLA, NEW YORK STATE PUPIL TRANSPORTATION DIRECTOR: The school bus compartment or the school bus construction are such that they protect the children in most any accident they're going to experience on a school bus.

HUNTER: 97 percent of all kids injured in bus accidents are quickly treated and released and an average of just six children die in school bus accidents each year. Compare that to passenger cars, where 30,000 die each year. A rate six times higher than school buses for the same distances traveled. Still, the federal government thinks seat belts could improve safety.

MARY E. PETERS, SECRETARY OF TRANSPORTATION: Even though statistics show that children are safer on that big yellow school bus than they are walking to school, riding their bikes or even riding in the family car, this community is asking how we can make the ride to and from school safer still.

HUNTER: Peter Mannella says there's no proof seat belts on buses will make a significant difference.

It's already a safe place. Show us (INAUDIBLE) that makes it safe.

MANNELLA: Right. If we're going to make -- this compartment, no one is arguing with us that school bus compartment is safe and has protected children for years. If you're going to change this compartment, tell us with what and why and what the benefits will be. They haven't done that yet.

HUNTER: Seat belt proponent say there's no need for further study.

DR. ALAN ROSS, NATION COALITION FOR SCHOOL BUS SAFETY: We need to protect our children now. It's not such a big deal. It's not that expensive. We know that these belts do no harm. They only do good. We can afford it and we should do it right now.

HUNTER: Some experts say the $8,000 to $10,000 it cost per bus to install seat belts would be better spent combating drunk driving and speeding which account for two-thirds of all traffic deaths.

ANNE MCCART, INSURANCE INSTITUTE FOR HIGHWAY SAFETY: I don't want to say anything that would minimize the importance of a child dying on a school bus, but given limited resources it's important that we direct those limited resources toward the things that are going to make the biggest difference.


HUNTER: And according to the insurance institute, if you are going to put seat belts on buses that they should be shoulder and lap belts in. The state of New York has had, for example, lap belts on their buses for 20 years and they say, in certain wrecks, this lock belt can actually cause abdominal injuries.

Now, another thing important to point, according to Peter Mannella that even though they've had lap belts on buses in New York for 20 years, that only 40 out of 700 school districts actually mandate their use. And if you do put children belted on, then you have a whole other issue about enforcement, and the bus driver walking back, saying, put that on, put that on, put that on, before they even leave. So, that's it, a super safe place.

HARRIS: Right. Boy, you know -- yes, it just seems like everyone now has statistics and arguments and studies to support their side on this story. Greg Hunter for us this morning. Greg, appreciate it. Thank you.

COLLINS: Employment, income, housing for African-Americans, disparities linger especially for women. We're taking deeper with the Urban League president on the State of Black America.


HARRIS: When black women hurt the American family suffers, words from a new report on the State of Black America and the problems facing African-American women -- disparities in employment, income, health care, and housing. The annual report issued by the National Urban League. President and CEO Marc Morial with us from Washington.

Marc, good to see you.


HARRIS: You know, it's actually been too long. We need to have you on this program more often. You're a friend of the program.

I'll come on every week.

HARRIS: All right. Mark, first of all, when you take a close look at the subprime lenders who have gone bust in this crisis, you find that those businesses targeted minority neighborhoods disproportionately. Did you find that in your report as well?

MORIAL: Let me tell you what the National Urban League State of Black America report finds that about 50 percent of all African- Americans that bought homes with mortgages in 2006 had subprime mortgages. That's much, much higher than the overall number for white Americans. And we think that they were steering, they're indeed was targeting and, therefore, African-Americans may be disproportionately at risk of losing their homes based on this debacle of subprime lending.

HARRIS: OK. So now we're talking about clearly a loss in equity in your principle asset, which is your home, and that certainly hinders your ability to borrow against that equity for your child's education, maybe to start a new business, and that sort of widens the economic gap. Doesn't it?

MORIAL: It does. And I also wish to add that for those who may own homes in neighborhoods where there are foreclosures or in communities where there are a lot of foreclosures, they may see a loss in their own home values.

HARRIS: Yes, yes.

MORIAL: So, the idea that this affects only those who may have a subprime mortgage is something that we want to disavow. But, Tony, here's the important thing. The National Urban League has a National Urban League opportunity to come pick a blueprint that has some solutions for the subprime crisis.

HARRIS: Give me one. Please, give me one.

MORIAL: A significant investment in home ownership counseling. Meaning, let's help people who in fact may have subprime loans work out an arrangement to get a better mortgage with the financial services, company, or bank. Number two, Congress should pass a tough, strong anti-predatory lending law so that this doesn't happen again.

So we've got to do things in the short run and in the long run and our opportunity compact includes both of those recommendations.

HARRIS: And Marc, if you would, the report notes that black women, as we mentioned at the top here, are more likely than whites or Hispanics to be running a household and raising children on their own. The particular challenges of that dilemma for African-American women?

MORIAL: I think the particular challenge is that any economic downturn, any joblessness, any subprime lending crisis is going to disproportionally affect African-American women and the children that they're raising and the families that they're responsible for. So they are more at risk.


MORIAL: In the case of an economic downturn.

HARRIS: Well then, let me take the other side of that. What is the message then to African-American men, how do we turn the corner here and get more African-American men to stay in their homes, and in the cases where that is not possible providing more, greater, better support to their families?

MORIAL: Last year, we released a report on the black male and one of the things we talked about is men reconnecting, re-engaging, remaining committed to their children and their families from a financial and an economic standpoint.

Now, it's made difficult because the joblessness levels among particularly young black men are particularly high in the country. But yes, you know, Tony, we've got internal issues in the African- American community as well as important public policy steps that need to be taken.

I think what the report says this year is that we're treading water. There are some good news, though. The digital divide has narrowed a bit. Sentencing disparities have narrowed a bit. Not at parity or at equity, but some improvement. So treading water, yes, with some glimmers of hope.

HARRIS: Yes. Let's leave it there on a bit of a positive note. Marc, great to see you. Thanks for your time this morning.

MORIAL: Thanks, Tony. Appreciate it.

HARRIS: Marc Morial with us.

COLLINS: College student murdered on campus. A car found burning on campus. Can police put pieces of the puzzle back together?


COLLINS: In Alabama this morning police are stepping up patrols at Auburn University after a freshman's murder. But authorities say there are no signs others on campus are in danger. Lauren Burk was found shot on a highway several miles from school. Her car was later found burning on campus. Burk died at a hospital.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We had been talking just this weekend about how we needed to meet up. We hadn't hanged out at all this semester and in fact the last comment she made was scolding me for not having called her when I said I would, and that's been really hard to deal with.


COLLINS: Police say they have not identified a suspect in the case. Burk's sorority is planning a memorial. And we do expect to get the very latest on the investigation a little bit later today when Auburn police hold a news conference.

HARRIS: Busted. Another alleged shooting plot at a high school. This time in the small town of Belvedere, New Jersey. Police say a senior and a 22-year-old man were planning what they call a military- style assault. School officials notified authorities after hearing the student was developing a hit list. That student is now undergoing a mental evaluation. The older suspect is in custody. He is charged with creating a false public alarm and making terroristic threats.

COLLINS: Should Democrats get a second shot at disqualified delegates? Florida, Michigan, will party bosses say, let's do it all over again?


COLLINS: Not getting enough sleep? It can threaten your health. CNN medical correspondent Elizabeth Cohen takes a look at what you can do about it in your 30s, 40s, and 50s.


ELIZABETH COHEN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: We live in a world that runs 24/7. What's missing too often is sleep.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I'm tired every day. You know, every, every night, I'm tired.

RUSSELL ROSENBERG, DIRECTOR ATLANTA SLEEP INSTITUTION: Most people, in our country, are terribly sleep-deprived.

COHEN: A common culprit is stress piling up as we get older.

ROSENBERG: 30 something do bring up a lot of the issues of children, parenting, as well as busy lifestyle and busy jobs.

COHEN: If you're a parent, you know sleep deprivation.

ROSENBERG: When you have a situation that's difficult to resolve like children waking up frequently in the middle of the night and you've done your best to try to limit that for children, you have to take care of yourself. It's important not only for your own well- being but for your mood and for your ability to take care of your children.

COHEN: If kids are running you ragged, he suggests grabbing even a short nap whenever you can.

JOLIE FAINBERG, INSOMNIAC: It's Sunday night and it's about, I think, about 1:30. Actually, I've been up for about an hour. It's still Sunday night. It's now about 4:00 a.m. I think I was back here at about 1:30. I've just been dozing on and off for the last three hours.

COHEN: After juggling a full-time job and two kids all day, Jolie Fainberg's mind kept racing at bedtime. One thing Rosenberg told her quit the tossing and turning.

ROSENBERG: One of the best behavioral treatments you can do for yourself when you can't sleep is to get out of bed because what happens is the bed becomes conditioned as place to be awake, alert or anxious and it is not condition as a place to fall asleep so get out of bed, go do something else, come back to it in 15 or 20 minutes.

COHEN: He also had Fainberg write down worries before bed along with an action plan to solve them. Within a few weeks...

FAINBERG: I feel a lot better.

COHEN: A common problem, especially for men nearing 50, is sleep apnea. Often signaled by snoring. You stop breathing for several seconds until you partially wake up. Again and again and again.

You wind up exhausted and at risk for heart disease and other problems. One treatment is sleeping with a mask called the C-Pap which opens the airway and pumps in oxygen. To sleep better at any age, go to bed and get up around the same time every day. Don't drink alcohol near bedtime. And avoid caffeine after lunch. Sweet dreams. I'm Elizabeth Cohen, CNN, reporting.



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

HARRIS: And I'm Tony Harris. Stay informed all day in the CNN NEWSROOM. Here's what's on the rundown.

A military recruiting office targeted in Times Square a short time ago. New details about the explosion from New York's mayor. COLLINS: They are delegates disqualified.