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South Carolina Tornado Warning; Barack Obama Brushes Aside New Challenge From Hillary Clinton; Captive Daughter Held in Basement for 24 Years

Aired April 28, 2008 - 10:59   ET


TONY HARRIS, CNN ANCHOR: And good morning, everyone. You're informed with CNN.
I'm Tony Harris.

BETTY NGUYEN, CNN ANCHOR: And I'm Betty Nguyen, in for Heidi Collins.

HARRIS: Developments keep coming into the CNN NEWSROOM on this Monday, the 28th day of April.

Here's what's on the rundown.

NGUYEN: The Reverend Jeremiah Wright defiant and feisty before a national audience this morning. Is he hurting the Barack Obama campaign?

HARRIS: Hundreds of people out of their homes this morning. Southern California fire crews struggle against the flames.

NGUYEN: And are these workers modern-day slaves? A CNN Special Investigations Unit report in the NEWSROOM.

First up, we want to start with some severe weather, including a tornado warning in South Carolina.

Let's take you over to CNN's Rob Marciano in the severe weather center.

What do you know, Rob?

ROB MARCIANO, CNN METEOROLOGIST: This just issued by the National Weather Service. A Doppler-indicated tornado in parts of South Carolina -- in Union County, York County and northwestern Chester County. That's in upstate South Carolina. We'll get to the Doppler here in just a second and show it to you.

This is where the storm prediction center had a risk for seeing severe weather today. And certainly there's no watch out, by the way, but this warning popped up. The local National Weather Service office thinking that there's a tornado indicated by the Doppler Radar scope.

This is heading northeasterly at about 35 miles an hour. It expires at 11:30 local time. But it may -- you know, if it holds together into North Carolina, it may very well include parts of Charlotte. So that's certainly something that we're going to keep an eye on, and we'll keep you abreast of this situation as it continues to press. I'll probably pop in in another five or 10 minutes.

Guys, back to you.

NGUYEN: All right. We'll stay on top of it. Thank you, Rob.


HARRIS: The Reverend Jeremiah Wright, he is not a politician, but he has loomed large in presidential politics. His longtime church member, Barack Obama, has been on the defensive for Wright's firebrand sermons. Now Wright is preaching to a national audience.

This morning he spoke at the National Press Club in Washington. His remarks were, as expected, somewhat controversial. But the real fireworks may have come during the question-and-answer exchange.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: "What is your relationship with Louis Farrakhan? Do you agree with and respect his views, including his most racially divisive views?"

REV. JEREMIAH WRIGHT, BARACK OBAMA'S FMR. PASTOR: As I said on the Bill Moyers show, one of our news talents keeps playing a news clip from 20 years ago, when Louis said 20 years ago that Zionism, not Judaism, was a gutter religion. He was talking about the same thing the United Nations resolutions say, the same thing now that President Carter's being vilified for and Bishop Tutu is being vilified for.

And everybody wants to paint me as if I'm anti-Semitic because of what Louis Farrakhan said 20 years ago. I believe that people of all faiths have to work together in this country if we're going to build a future for our children, whether those people are -- just as Michelle and Barack don't agree on everything, Ramah and I don't agree on everything, Louis and I don't agree on everything.

Most of you all don't agree. You've got two people in the same room, you've got three opinions.


WRIGHT: So what I think about him, as I said on Bill Moyers and it got edited out, how many other African-Americans, or European- Americans do you know that can get one million people together on the Mall?

He's one of the most important voices in the 20th and 21st century. That's what I think about him.

I said, as I said on Bill Moyers, when Louis speaks, it's like E.F. Hutton speaks. All black America listens. Whether they agree with him or not, they listen.

Now, I'm not going to put down Louis Farrakhan any more than Mandela will put down Fidel Castro. You remember that Ted Koppel show where Ted wanted Mandela to put down Castro because Castro is our enemy? And he said, "You don't tell me who my enemies are, you don't tell me who my friends are."

Louis Farrakhan is not my enemy. He did not put me in chains, he did not put me in slavery, and he didn't make me this color.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: "What is your motivation for characterizing Senator Obama's response to you as 'what a politician had to say?' What did you mean by that?"

WRIGHT: What I mean is what several of my white friends and several of my white Jewish friends have written me and said to me. They said, you're a Christian. You understand forgiveness. We both know that if Senator Obama did not say what he said, he would never get elected.

Politicians say what they say and do what they do based on electability, based on sound bites, based on polls, Huffington, whoever's doing the polls. Preachers say what they say because they're pastors. They have a different person to whom they're accountable.

As I said, whether he gets elected or not, I'm still going to have to be answerable to God November 5th and January 21st. That's what I mean. I do what pastors do. He does what politicians do.

I am not running for office. I am hoping to be vice president.



HARRIS: Last night, the Reverend Wright spoke to 10,000 people at an NAACP fund-raiser in Detroit. At the end of the speech he received a standing ovation.

NGUYEN: Well, the Democrats battle in Indiana and North Carolina. Both states holding primaries next week. Barack Obama brushing aside a new challenge from Hillary Clinton.

And CNN's Jim Acosta reports.


SEN. HILLARY RODHAM CLINTON (D-NY), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I think the people of Indiana, after having wandered in the wilderness of American politics for 40 years, deserve a debate.

JIM ACOSTA, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice over): Spoiling for another round of verbal sparring with Barack Obama, Hillary Clinton challenged her rival to a trip back in time to 1858. That's when Abraham Lincoln and Steven Douglas squared off in a series of historic debates -- toe- to-toe with no referee. CLINTON: So here's my proposal. I'm offering Senator Obama a chance to debate me one-on-one, no moderators. Just the two of us, going for 90 minutes, asking and answering questions.

ACOSTA: The response from Obama? No, we can't.

SEN. BARACK OBAMA (D-IL), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: We've got nine days and we're trying to campaign and meet as many voters as possible. So rather than being in a studio, I want to make sure that we're reaching out to folks where they live, and, you know, answering their questions, and having as many interactions as possible.

ACOSTA: It's a debate timeout for Obama, who's looking to rebound from those bruising confrontations with Clinton in Pennsylvania. So he hit the hardwood in a weekend three-on-three basketball tournament. The Illinois senator is resisting calls from some of his supporters to put his opponent away by going negative.

OBAMA: When I don't always hit back, then folks are all, "What's the matter with him?" How come -- you know, "Maybe he's not mean enough. Maybe he's not tough enough."

You know, one of the things I learned in the schoolyard was the folks who are talking tough all the time, they're not always that tough.

ACOSTA: Democratic leaders are scrambling to calm supporters on both sides who fear the long nomination battle is tearing the party apart.

HOWARD DEAN, DNC CHAIRMAN: One of these two wonderful candidates is going to lose with about 49 percent of the delegates. And that person's going to have to do what's right for the country and get their incredibly devoted followers who have put so much time and energy into the campaign to make sure that we do the right thing for the country, which is to elect a Democrat.


NGUYEN: All right. And CNN's Jim Acosta joins us live from Indianapolis.

Debate aside, let's get right to what people are going to be talking about today, Jim, and that being Reverend Jeremiah Wright's speech today before the National Press Club, as well as his speech last night at the NAACP event.

Any reaction at all on the campaign trail? I'm sure we're going to be hearing something.

ACOSTA: Well, so far, no reaction from the Obama campaign or the Clinton campaign in response to what Wright had to say this morning, which was quite incendiary.

Yesterday, Barack Obama was asked about this coming out of a brunch stop here in Indianapolis. Obama was asked about Wright's comments on the PBS program "Bill Moyers Journal," and he had one sentence in that response. It was, "I'll let you do the prognosticating."

So clearly this is not the conversation that the Obama campaign would like to have. They saw this distraction flare up during those six weeks before the Pennsylvania primary.

Barack Obama had that big speech on race relations in Philadelphia. It was generally, according to the campaign, well received. But it's not clear whether or not they would like to go out once again and respond to these comments.

We talked to David Axelrod over the weekend, the chief strategist for the Obama campaign. What they would like to do is talk about the economy. They'd like to talk about the fact that Indiana and North Carolina both suffered big-time manufacturing job losses. And that they'd like to get their message directly across to voters at these stump speech events, not at these debates, that they feel may not be serving their candidate well at this point -- Betty.

NGUYEN: CNN's Jim Acosta joining us live from Indianapolis today.

Thank you, Jim.

ACOSTA: You bet.

HARRIS: Republican John McCain in south Florida today, kicking off his Call to Action tour. He is taking questions on health care right now. Or maybe just moments ago. Last hour, McCain toured Miami, the children's hospital there, and took part in a health care roundtable.


SEN. JOHN MCCAIN (R-AZ), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: The health care system as a whole doesn't mirror the successes in this room. As a nation, we don't uniformly deliver the best possible care. Shortfalls in patient safety and medical errors remain a dangerous reality. And too many Americans don't have health insurance.


HARRIS: McCain plans to give a speech tomorrow about his plans to reform the health care system.

Find more on the candidates at is your source for everything political.

NGUYEN: Also in the headlines this morning, southern California and battling wildfires there. A 490-acre wildfire, in fact, is burning out of control near Sierra Madre. That's about 20 miles east of L.A.

And last night the fire was about 30 percent contained, but the wind, as you see right here in these live pictures, has kicked up. Now fire officials say they have only about 20 percent of this fire surrounded, and that is threatening some hundreds of homes out in that area. More than a thousand people have already been ordered to get out of the way, to evacuate.

We're going to get some more on the wildfires and the weather out West, but right now I want to talk to you, Rob Marciano, about the severe threat in southern Carolina -- South Carolina.

MARCIANO: Yes. Still watching this tornado warning that's been posted by the National Weather Service out of here in upstate South Carolina.

York, Chester County, those are a couple of the counties that are in the path of this cell, as it moves off to the northeast at about 35 miles an hour. It's Doppler-indicated, meaning it hasn't been spotted on the ground.

We're seeing, you know, a little bit of spin, but nothing too dramatic at this point. You can see the reflectivity, or how much rain or potentially hail is falling out of this cell is not looking all that impressive.

Nonetheless, we just want you to be aware of that. If you live in Rock Hill, you certainly want to batten down the hatches. And Charlotte, at least southern parts of Charlotte in the next 45 minutes, if this thing holds together, will be in the path of this potentially damaging storm.

Here it is rolling across parts of northern -- or upstate South Carolina. It's all part of a line that's quickly moving across the South.

Some of this is firing up pretty good across parts of southern Georgia. And across the Mid-Atlantic is where we expect to see potentially more severe weather today.

Across the Northeast, just plain old rain. Some of it could be heavy at times. We might see some flooding in spots. Parts of Maine are under a flashflood watch for a good chunk of today.

Now, where we need the rain is over those fires. The situation set up there is kind of typical Santa Ana deal. We've got cold high pressure over the mountains. That filters down and pushes through into the valleys. And that usually kicks in overnight, actually.

And we're still seeing a little bit of low humidity. We're still seeing the winds offshore. And that's not what we need.

Santa Ana yesterday, 103. Fullerton, 102. L.A., 95 -- 94 a record yesterday in San Diego yesterday.

A quick shot live from San Diego. Currently, it's 75 degrees. It looks gorgeous, doesn't it? Oh, San Diego is just beautiful. But as we know from last fall, it can quickly turn from paradise into purgatory. KGTV, our affiliate out that way, 75 right now. Your normal high is 69. The record for today is 83. The forecast high is into the mid-90s.

NGUYEN: Really?

MARCIANO: So, to give you an idea of how unusually hot and dry it is out there right now.

NGUYEN: Right.

MARCIANO: There will be some relief from this thing as it drives down to the south, but that's not going to happen I don't think until tonight or tomorrow. So I think today, guys, will be just as trying a day for the firefighters as it was yesterday. But now that sun it up. They'll get the fixed-wing aircraft into the air, they'll get the choppers up there, and try to hit this thing from above.

NGUYEN: Do the best they can.

OK. Rob Marciano joining us live.

Thank you, Rob.

MARCIANO: All right, guys.

HARRIS: An unbelievable crime. Austrian police telling CNN a 73-year-old father confessed this morning, saying that he had his adult daughter, held her captive for two decades, and used her for sex.

CNN's Frederik Pleitgen is in Austria this morning.

And Frederik, did we learn anything more about this case in last hour's news conference?

FREDERIK PLEITGEN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, absolutely, you're right.

As you say, Tony, there's been a press conference going on by the Austrian police and Austrian authorities here in Amstetten, in western Austria. And one thing that I thought was very interesting is they say that preliminary DNA testing does confirm that he appears to be the father of the seven children that this woman, his own daughter, had.

Now, one of the other things that they've been doing is they've been sort of painting a picture of what life was like for his daughter and for those children in captivity, saying what sort of conditions they lived under.

Let's listen in and here what the authorities had to say.


FRANZ POLZER, SECURITY DIR. FOR LOWER AUSTRIA (through translator): Yes, that's true. At least as far as we can see, as far as we know, according to the testimony of the father, perhaps a week ago, the first time that -- and the 18-year-old, this is the first time he had let them out of the cellar. Yes, in all their lives.


PLEITGEN: Now, let me just tell you what that means. In all, this man had seven children with his wife -- with his daughter. One of those children died shortly after birth and he has already confessed, authorities tell us, that he took the body of this child and burned it in an oven inside the house.

Now, three of the children he took away from her shortly after birth and raised them himself. And three of them were raised in that cellar, were in that cellar, and they have never seen the light of day until authorities got them out just a few days ago -- Tony.

HARRIS: Frederik, have the authorities interviewed the suspect's wife?

PLEITGEN: Yes, that's one of the big questions around here. They certainly have. And they say they don't believe that she was a part of all this.

Now, certainly many people here in Austria are questioning how you can live with someone for 24 years and not know that something is wrong underneath the cellar. Now, they say there's two possible reasons for this.

One of them, they say, is that this man is a very strong personality. He had a very authoritarian regime at home with his wife as well. And certainly was a very, very strong personality. And she did tend to believe what he was saying.

And also, he did have a cover story as well, saying that his daughter had run away from home and was possibly with a religious cult somewhere in Austria. And so certainly he gave those lies to her, that cover story to her. But the authorities say that at this point, they do not believe that she knew anything was going on underneath this house -- Tony.

HARRIS: CNN's Frederik Pleitgen for us in Amstetten, Austria, this morning.

Frederik, thank you.

NGUYEN: Well, from that story to this one -- a hidden world being revealed. An alleged case of modern-day slavery. Our Special Investigations Unit is on the case.


NGUYEN: Disaster in China this morning. A high-speed passenger train derailed and smashed into another passenger train. At least 70 people were killed, more than 400 injured.

The state-run news agency says the government suspects human error is to blame. It is the worst train wreck in China in 10 years.

HARRIS: A pickup truck crammed with as many as 60 people crashes in a remote area of Arizona. Four people are dead, more than two dozen injured.

Police say the driver took off on foot, along with 20 or 30 passengers. Investigators are looking for the driver now. They believe many or all of the passengers are illegal immigrants.

Modern-day slavery -- illegal immigrants held captive, forced to work the fields.

The story from CNN's Special Investigations Unit correspondent Abbie Boudreau.


ABBIE BOUDREAU, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice over): It all begins as a way for migrants to have a better life, but it could very well turn into this: modern-day slavery.

LT. RENE GONZALES, COLLIER COUNTY SHERIFF'S OFFICE: Who would have thought we would be having slavery 2008, you know, that this would be taking place?

BOUDREAU (on camera): Authorities sas these migrant workers are often smuggled into the United States. They think they're going to be making a decent amount of money that they can then send back to their families. But when they get here, this is what they're faced with -- living in labor camps just like this one.

(voice over): In some cases, migrants held against their will, pushed, kicked and cut if they didn't work. Investigators say one man's hands chained behind his back so he couldn't leave.

(on camera): Do you think by calling them slaves, is that too strong of a term?



GONZALES: Not at all. Like I said, these people can't leave. They're escorted here, they're escorted to do their shopping. They catch a bus right where they work.

The bus takes them to the fields. The bus brings them back. And once they're there, you can't leave there.

BOUDREAU (voice over): Hidden in plain sight just across the street from a busy casino, laborers escorted to this phone booth, allowed to call home but not allowed to say they're being held captive.

Lieutenant Rene Gonzales says he sees it firsthand. In December, Gonzales' team helped break a family-run slavery ring. The Navarette (ph) family and an associate is accused of offering work to a dozen legal immigrants, then holding them captive, forcing them to work.

(on camera): This house looks like any other suburban house, but it's not. Authorities say this is where slaves were kept. And if they tried to leave, they were beaten.

GONZALES: They were housed here in the vans. There was also a makeshift wooden -- three pieces of plywood shaped like a little box. And two or three of the people were living in there as well.

BOUDREAU (on camera): Living in a box?


BOUDREAU (voice over): This federal indictment details involuntary servitude, how the Navarettes (ph) allegedly locked migrants in a van like this, forcing them to work. They even had to pay $5 to shower, using a hose and a bucket outside. Those accused claimed they did nothing wrong, saying if it weren't for them, the illegal immigrants would be living on the street without jobs.

GONZALES: When we do talk to them, the go, "I'm in you country illegally. How can I complain about how I'm being treated?"

BOUDREAU: Lucas Benitez co-founded the Immokalee Coalition in the early '90s and says his group has rescued more than 1,000 workers from slavery in the last decade.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: So armed guards that are watching them 24 hours a day in isolated labor camps.

BOUDREAU: In southwest Florida alone, nine human trafficking case were prosecuted in the last nine years. Seven active investigations are under way. And prosecutors say countless cases go unreported.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: So it is a lucrative business to have people in slavery, because you don't have to pay them. You have them under your control and you make profits from their labor.

BOUDREAU: Abbie Boudreau, CNN, Immokalee, Florida.


HARRIS: You know, prosecutors say the Navarette (ph) case is considered one of the worst slavery cases in Florida history. The defendants face up to 20 years in prison.

Our Special Investigations Unit talked to attorneys for the Navarettes (ph), and they tell CNN the government has no credible evidence to support the charges.

NGUYEN: Coming up, teens find a new way to get high. There's warnings though about a legal drug still ahead in the NEWSROOM.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK) NGUYEN: There are big questions this hour about the safety of synthetic blood. A report released just moments ago reveals deadly risks.

Medical Correspondent Elizabeth Cohen is here to talk about this.

You know, we always learn of shortages when it comes to real blood. It seems like synthetic blood would be the answer. But now there's a problem?

ELIZABETH COHEN, CNN MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: Right, exactly, because a lot of people thought that. They thought, wow, synthetic blood, this is it. And there were several companies that developed them, and you could theoretically have an unlimited supply, it doesn't need to be refrigerated, it doesn't need to be type-matched. I mean, what could be better?

Well, what happened is that they started noticing that people who got synthetic blood were more likely to have heart attacks and other problems and die. And so what some researchers did is they looked at various kinds of blood substitutes in various studies, and here is what they found -- is that folks who received real blood in the study group that they looked at, 16 of them had heart attacks. Folks who received fake blood, 59 had heart attacks.


COHEN: So, yes, that is a big, big difference. And so an editorial in the Journal of the American Medical Association, they said, we need to stop studying these. Because these were all people who are in studies. They said, we just need to stop, this is not safe.

NGUYEN: Stop studying it or stop using it?

COHEN: Stop studying and using. It's not used in the general population. It's used in trials, it's used in studies.


COHEN: But this editorial writer said we shouldn't even be studying this, it's clearly not safe.

NGUYEN: Well, what about the people that make this substitute blood? What do they have to say about it?

COHEN: They don't like the study.

NGUYEN: Obviously not.

COHEN: They said -- right. They say that the study is flawed and they say that the authors lumped together all sorts of different kinds of synthetic blood. So they say the conclusions are not valid.

NGUYEN: Well, you say this is used in studies, but how common is it? I mean, would you know if you had somehow received substitute blood?

COHEN: You know what? You wouldn't necessarily under some circumstances.

There was a time when they were doing these studies in 20 different states, and they wouldn't tell people. They would give them synthetic blood and not tell them.

NGUYEN: Really?

COHEN: So, those folks didn't know at the time that they were getting synthetic blood. So there's been ethical problems with this product for a very long time.

NGUYEN: Without a doubt.

All right. Elizabeth Cohen, thank you.

COHEN: Thanks.

NGUYEN: So, to get your "Daily Dose" of health news online, you can log on to our Web site, and you'll find the latest medical news, a health library and information on diet and fitness. The address, right there on the screen,

Hello, everybody, on this Monday. You are in the CNN NEWSROOM.

I'm Betty Nguyen.

HARRIS: And good morning, everyone. I'm Tony Harris.

They were just sitting down to breakfast this morning. A mother and four of her children suddenly killed. Palestinian sources say Israeli tank shells hit the family's house in the northern Gaza town of Beit Hanoun.

Arab TV showed pictures of enraged neighbors right after the shelling. Palestinian medics say two older children in the family were critically wounded. An Israeli military spokesman says a tank fired shells toward Palestinian militants. The border town is often used by militants to fire rockets into southern Israel.

NGUYEN: A father proud of his soldier son, but outraged over conditions in his barracks. So, what did dad do to bring attention to the problem?


NGUYEN: Fasten your seat belts, it could be a bumpy ride.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: There will be some savings for the airlines. There will be a fair amount of discomfort on the part of passengers. But that is the trend today.


NGUYEN: Discomfort is right. Fuel forces airlines to cut back. So can many of you feel this pain? We have that story in about three minutes.

But look at this new video coming in to CNN. D.C. Truckers are protesting. In fact, this is the truckers and citizens unite group. They have converged on Washington in protest against high gasoline prices. They're also protesting increased road tolls. Here's what they want. They want a meeting with leaders in Congress.

Here's what they're demanding. An immediate stop of diverted oil into the strategic reserves. They also want an immediate $2 a gallon cap on all fuels and a mandatory 100 percent transfer of fuel surcharges to go directly to the drivers. This, again, hundreds of truckers, converging on D.C., demanding a meeting with leaders in Congress. We'll see what happens with that.

HARRIS: First, developing in Iraq, some of the fiercest fighting in weeks. The U.S. military says American and Iraqi troops killed 38 militants in a mostly Shiite area of Baghdad Sunday. Among them, 22 fighters killed when a large group of criminals attacked a security checkpoint. U.S. officials say suspected Shiite militants are firing rockets and mortars into the heavily fortified Green Zone today.

There are no reports of serious injuries. The Green Zone, or International Zone, is where the U.S. and Iraqi government offices are located. They could have been filmed for extreme makeover barracks edition, but a soldier's father took the camera in on his own hands. Gilbert Baez form affiliate WTBD reports.


GILBERT BAEZ, REPORTER WTBD: Soldier Jeff Frawley's father is outraged. These are pictures taken by the soldier's father of his son's barracks on Fort Bragg. Sergeant Frawley recently returned from 15 months of combat duty in Afghanistan. His father says his son's barracks are falling apart.

VOICE OF ED FRAWLEY, SOLDIER'S FATHER: The second-floor toilets have overflowed, and there is over three inches of water on the floor. I don't have to tell you what the brown water around the floor drain is.

BAEZ: The soldier's father posted the pictures on YouTube. They show peeling paint, mold and broken toilet seats in the bathroom. These are pipes stuffed with paper to prevent gases from seeping in.

FRAWLEY: Here's a different one, where the rags that were stuffed in the drain had been pulled out and sewer gas is coming into the building.

BAEZ: The command says the unit returned home a month earlier than expected. That didn't give them time to make repairs.

CAPT. JASON DAVIS, U.S. ARMY: They had about 72 hours notice before we actually walked into the door here. Because of that, things that --problems that they had identified, and that they were working through had not been solved before we got home.

BAEZ: Now, right now, members of the Second of the 508 are living in barracks just like that. But, given about a years time, and all of those soldiers will be living in brand-new barracks just like these.

COL. DAVID FOX, GARRISON COMMANDER: There will be a one plus one standard, which basically means you have two soldiers with separate rooms, and they share a common living area. The Army understands.

FRAWLEY: I hope after watching this short video and seeing the pictures that I took of the barracks, these men are expected to live in, you will make some phone calls.

BAEZ: Frawley has already captured the attention of commanders who say they have been working to fix the problems before the video was posted on YouTube. At Fort Bragg, Gilbert Baez, ABC 11, Eyewitness News.


NGUYEN: People in South Carolina have some problems of their own. Key words here, tornado warning. Rob Marciano is watching it all. Hey there, Rob.


Thank you. And like you said, the people who need it aren't getting it. Let's take you to those folks. Southern California, in a fire that is being battled there -- a 490-acre wildfire to be exact. It is burning out of control near Sierra Madre, that's about 20 miles east of L.A.

Last night, the fire was about 30 percent contained. But the wind, well, it kicked up. Now fire officials say they only have about 20 percent of it surrounded. The fire is threatening hundreds of homes. More than 1,000 people have already been ordered to get out of the way.

Also in southern California today, the beaches, they back open. An eight-mile stretch near San Diego was closed over the weekend. Crews search for a killer shark. They think it was a great white that killed a man on Friday. Today officials say the beaches are safe and there's no sign of the shark.

HARRIS: The high cost of fuel. You may cut down on your driving, but what do the airlines do? CNN's Kathleen Koch takes a look.


KATHLEEN KOCH, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Fuel is airlines' number one expense. Carriers are throwing out everything but the galley sink to lighten the load.

JIM MAY, CEO, AIR TRANSPORT ASSN.: We're going to spend $60 billion in fuel this year, and that drives a huge amount of creativity. One of our carriers is reducing the number of magazines they carry on board and it saves them 3,400 gallons of fuel a year. Another carrier is using ecowashing of their turbine fan engines.

KOCH: Just keeping a jet engine clean can reduce fuel usage by up to 1.5 percent. Airlines are pulling out ovens, trash compactors, waste bins, seat-back phones. U.S. Airways switched to beverage carts that are 12 pounds lighter. JetBlue ripped out a row of seats from many of its planes.

SCOTT TURNER, AMERICAN AIRLINES FLIGHT OPS.: When we started Fuel Smart, we went and looked at how we did everything.

KOCH: American Airlines created a Fuel Smart team to scour for savings. To structural changes, more aerodynamic tail cones that reduce drag, and upturned winglets on the end of each wing.

TURNER: All it does is allow the airplane to go through the air more smoothly, and those winglets alone saved us 25 million gallons of fuel a year.

KOCH: Airlines are also flying differently to cut consumption, varying speeds in the air, carrying less fuel, cruising longer at higher altitudes and making shorter, steeper approaches. On the ground, planes now taxi out using just one engine. New aircrafts are using lighter materials inside and out.

(on-camera): And the turbo prop is making a comeback. Orders this year were more than five times what they were in 2002.

(voice-over): While noisy and susceptible to turbulence, a turbo prop uses a quarter to a third less fuel than the same size jet.

MICHAEL DYMENT, NEXA CAPITAL PARTNERS: There will be some savings for the airlines. There will be a fair amount of discomfort on the part of passengers. But that is the trend today.

KOCH: One that's expected to continue as long as jet fuel prices remain sky high.

Kathleen Koch, CNN, Washington.


HARRIS: Personal, but not close. Americans hire assistants half a world away.


NGUYEN: It's a new drug of choice for teens. It's easy to use, and easy to abuse. And some of the effects are now making waves on the Internet.

CNN's Kara Finnstrom has a look.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE) KARA FINNSTROM, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Uncontrollable hysteria...

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Why does it do that to you?

FINNSTROM: Out-of-body experiences, frightening confusion...

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Put me down, put me down (ph).

FINNSTROM: Dozens of homemade videos on YouTube show teenagers high on a plant called salvia divinorum; they are helping fuel fears that teenage under the radar drug craze.

Saliva is cheap. And in most states, perfectly legal.

ANTHONY GRECO, FORMER SALVIA USER: You have no control over physical body, you have no control over emotional stuff that you go through.

FINNSTROM: Anthony Greco says he tried salvia twice, but never again.

GRECO: I felt like I was going down a downward spiral. I had a soda that had an aluminum lid, and I just kept tightening it and I eventually just sliced my hand because of the aluminum.

FINNSTROM: The drug's roots are in Mexico, where Indians use salvia for medicinal and religious purposes. But a more potent concentration is gaining popularity in the U.S.

(on-camera): Teenagers wanting salvia know where to find it over the counter. We got this for about $10 a hit. And while packages like these often warn not to sell to minors, here in California the law says it's OK.

ANTHONY ADAMS, CALIFORNIA ASSEMBLYMAN: It is just a chilling thought to think that especially a teenager, who's already struggling with hormones, to have this altered state of reality to contend with as well. It's a challenge that they don't need, and frankly, we don't need as a society.

FINNSTROM (voice-over): California Assemblyman, Anthony Adams, is trying to pass a bill making it a misdemeanor to sell or distribute salvia to minors. More than a dozen other states have already passed, or are considering, salvia regulations. The federal government is studying the drug.

A mom in Delaware, Kathy Chidester, led the fight to ban salvia in her state and supports Assemblyman Adam's bill. CNN first spoke with her two years ago.

KATHY CHIDESTER, SALVIA BAN ADVOCATE: I thought I would wake up and it would be a mistake. There was no way that he would ever do anything like that. Not the son that I knew.

FINNSTROM: Chidester's 17-year-old son, Brett (ph), committed suicide. A medical examiner's report listed salvia as a contributing factor.

His mom says months earlier she noticed his disposition darkening, discovered his salvia use, and urged him to stop.

CHIDESTER: He said, mom, it's legal.

PROF. JIM ADAMS, UNIV. OF SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA: Kids are being given these massive doses and they're having very bad experiences from it.

FINNSTROM: University of Southern California pharmacology professor, Jim Adams, supports restrictions for minors, but opposes any ban on religious uses.

Some others feel any restrictions are overkill, saying hospitals and police are not reporting wide scale problems. With the debate raging, salvia users are stocking up, saying the drug's legal days may be numbered.

Kara Finnstrom for CNN, Los Angeles.


HARRIS: Tax rebates start going out today. You just might need it to buy some gas. New records in the NEWSROOM.


NGUYEN: Continental Airlines is flying so low, it won't pursue a merger, at least for now. There's been talk Continental and United might join forces to create the world's largest airline. But, Continental's chairman told his employees the company is better off alone. There are reports Continental and American Airlines might be talking about ways to work together without merging.

HARRIS: How sweet it is. Two icons in the candy business and joining forces. Susan Lisovicz is at the New York Stock Exchange with details on how Wrigley is falling into the Orbit of Mars.

Susan, good morning.


The world's biggest chocolate seller is about to get even bigger. Mars is buying Wrigley for $23 billion in cash. These two family- owned companies are behind some of the most recognizable names on the candy shelf. Mars makes Snickers, Dove Chocolate and M&Ms. Wrigley is synonymous, of course, with gum, and produces Juicy Fruit, Orbit, Big Red and others.

Mars and Wrigley aren't the only big names involved. Billionaire investor, Warren Buffett, who is known for investing in iconic consumer brands, is helping to fund the deal. And Tony, Warren Buffett is famous for also saying buy what you know. He says he knows this stuff really well over many decades.

HARRIS: And so do we.

The Wrigley name and Chicago seem to go hand-in-hand. Does this mean that Wrigley is leaving the windy city?

LISOVICZ: Heavens no, Tony. Wrigley Headquarters will stay in Chicago. The building, as many of our viewers know, is a landmark on Michigan Avenue. Wrigley is also of course the name on the famed Chicago Cubs stadium. And then Wrigleyville neighborhood in Chicago.

The story of the 117-year-old company, a true rags to riches tale. William Wrigley Jr. went to Chicago in 1891. He was 29, had just 32 bucks in his pocket. Made a living by peddling soap and baking powder. As an incentive, he offered merchants free gum, as well. And Juicy Fruit was launched just two years later.

HARRIS: I love that story. That's great.

LISOVICZ: The rest is history.

Shares of Wrigley are jumping -- 23 percent. The company also reported strong quarterly earnings thanks to strength overseas.

But overall, stocks are being pressured by record high oil and gas prices, and some caution ahead of the Fed's big decision this week. Right now, the blue chips are higher by seven. The NASDAQ is up five. And oil is basically not moving. It is a quiet session so far, Tony.

HARRIS: So good to see you. Have a great day, Susan.

LISOVICZ: You, too, Tony.

HARRIS: Thank you.

NGUYEN: Personal, but not close. American's hire assistants half way around the world.


HARRIS: Barack Obama's former pastor off the pulpit and onto the national stage.


REVEREND JEREMIAH WRIGHT, BARACK OBAMA'S FORMER PASTOR: I am not one of most divisive; telling the word is descriptive. I described the conditions in this country.


HARRIS: The Reverend Wright in his own words.

Does Reverend Jeremiah Wright represent you? Sound off at Send us your videos, pictures and commentary and more. Just go to right now. And, see Reverend Wright's entire appearance this morning replayed for you at the top of the hour at

NGUYEN: Time to take a look at some of the most clicked-on videos at

By day, Major Brian Stann is a decorated Marine who completed two tours in Iraq. But at night, he is a champion fighter.

Look at him go.

Well, Britain's getting richer. If you take a look at the names topping the country's rich list, you would never know that times are tough.

And Iraqi residents look to regain normality after more violence and clashes disturb Sadr City. For more of your favorite video, go to And of course, don't forget that you can take us with you anywhere on your iPods with the daily CNN podcast. See some of the stories that will have you talking no doubt. CNN NEWSROOM podcasts available 24/7 right on your iPod.

HARRIS: For just a dollar a day, you too can have a personal assistant. Of course, you may never meet this person.

CNN's Sara Sidner explains.


SARA SIDNER, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Christopher Carfi is a busy guy. He runs his own software business in California. Between work and family, there just aren't enough hours in the day, so Carfi went in search of a personal assistant and found Girish Jadhav.

GIRISH JADHAV, PERSONAL ASSISTANT: Hi, Chris. How are you doing today?

CHRISTOPHER CARFI, BUSINESS OWNER: Good, very well. Just wanted to check --

SIDNER: Thing is, they have never met.

Carfi is in Redwood City on America's West Coast. Jadhav is 8,400 miles, or 13,532 kilometers away, in Mumbai, India.

I wanted you to throw some light on that Excel document.

SIDNER: And we're in both places at once.

CARFI: I had a headlight out on my car, and said OK, see if you can find anywhere within five miles of the zip code here that can actually take care of it.

SIDNER: Thanks to the Internet, having a personal assistant is no longer just for the rich and famous. It can cost as little as $30 a month.

JADHAV: It's more of -- more kind of an entrusting type of a job because you are helping someone personally.

SIDNER: Tasks Everyday is just one of several Indian companies offering personal services, mainly to U.S. customers. Get Friday in Bangalore is another one, and it's said it can help you get a life.

(on-camera): So this is really outsourcing you're personal life.

VANKATESH THATTIA, VIRTUAL ASSISTANT MANAGER: No, it's outsourcing things that stop you from living your personal life.

SIDNER: That's very PC of you.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Hi, this is Koshi (ph) from Get Friday.

SIDNER (voice-over): By taking off shore outsourcing to the next level, Get Friday has about 1,200 customers so far, 95 percent of them are from the United States.

(on-camera): The tasks can be for simple pleasures, or serious business.

This gentleman, for example, is looking up venture capitalists to help find his client's company.

This gentleman is looking up Nepalese children's charities for someone who wants to donate.

And this gentleman -- he's simply looking up biker forums so that someone can have a good time on line.

THATTIA: We've organized birthday parties for two-year-olds; we've organized dinners catered at -- catered at home; we've organized windows to be fixed. We organize family get-togethers.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Sent this one, this one, this one, this one and that one to (INAUDIBLE) in India.

SIDNER (voice-over): It's a service that appears to be catching on. Just think of the possibilities. But don't get too creative, the companies say they won't break the law for you, and may refuse requests they are uncomfortable with.

Sara Sidner, CNN, Bangalore, India.


NGUYEN: I don't even want to begin to ask what those requests were.


NGUYEN: Look, we will only go so far -- which is what they say.

HARRIS: That's right.

NGUYEN: Well the CNN NEWSROOM continues one hour from now. I'm Betty Nguyen.

HARRIS: And I'm Tony Harris.

"ISSUE #1" with news on the economy begins after a check of the headlines.

Very quickly now, let's get you over to Chad Meyers in the CNN weather center. Chad is following the potential for some severe weather in South Carolina.