Return to Transcripts main page

CNN Newsroom

Firefighters Battle California Blaze; Ford to Cut Back SUV Production; American Airlines to Charge for Checking Bags; Appeals Court Rules Texas Had No Right to Remove Polygamist Children

Aired May 22, 2008 - 13:00   ET


DON LEMON, CO-HOST: Lots of wind, lots of trees, and a spark becomes a 1,000-acre wildfire. Homes are threatened and homeowners are on the run in the Santa Cruz Mountains of California.
BRIANNA KEILAR, CO-HOST: The winds picking up in the southern plains as well. But fire is not the problem. Once again folks there are bracing for a line of violent storms.

LEMON: And weather, well, it is not your only consideration. Before you hit the roads or the skies for the holiday weekend, oil and gas are hitting new record highs, and the nation's largest airline is hitting flyers with yet another fee.

We've got lots of news here in the CNN NEWSROOM. I'm Don Lemon in the CNN weather center, where we're on top of the weather situation.

KEILAR: And I'm Brianna Keilar. You are in the CNN NEWSROOM.

LEMON: As you said, we are keeping a close eye on a fire racing across the Santa Cruz Mountains south of San Francisco. It has nearly tripled in size in just a couple of hours. Firefighters say multiple homes are threatened and families in the Gilroy area, well, they are clearing out.

Let's check in now with CNN's Chad Myers. He joins us now with the very latest on this.

Wind is fueling this? What's going on here, Chad?

CHAD MYERS, CNN METEOROLOGIST: Yes. Winds are like 25, 30 miles per hour out there. And they're not going down today. And this is going to be a day the air is coming in, wrapping around, and dry air, as well. So the red flag warnings up. Even air quality alerts are up, because now this smoke is getting down to the ground.

These fires are going to be racing. And the problem -- we normally see wildfires in wild land areas. There are a lot of homes in the way of these fires today, Don. And we're going to keep a watch on them. These are going to be out of control for most of the day.

LEMON: OK. Hey, Chad, stay with me. I'm just getting Dick Rawson, a California spokesperson for the fires, I'm being told, is on the phone right now, from my producer, Katie. Thank you very much.

Mr. Rawson, you can hear us. Right?


LEMON: Tell us about these fires, the situation there, what's going on and what you guys are working to do.

RAWSON: Well, the fire started about 5, a quarter after 5 this morning and has been blowing in a south-southwest direction. It's actually burning very intensively, and it's difficult to use aircraft on the fire, because of -- it's just unsafe in the high winds.

MYERS: I know it's early but manmade causes?

RAWSON: No cause is known. Under investigation.

MYERS: Absolutely. I know it was very early for all that. Are there other homes? Are there, you know, civilization areas out there in the way?

RAWSON: There are. I don't know the terrain that well, the way places are built. We're saying right now there are 50 -- 5-0 -- structures in immediate threat and five business structures.

LEMON: And Chad, I just want to remind our viewers you can continue to question, but we're looking at live pictures now of this happening in Santa Clara, California, courtesy of our affiliate, KTVU. And we certainly appreciate that.

Mr. Rawson, while I have you on the phone here, I want to ask you, what about evacuations. Any evacuations in the area?

RAWSON: There are mandatory evacuations.

LEMON: Mandatory evacuations. So how many people are you expecting and what are you going to do with these people, if anything at all, besides telling them to get out of their homes?

RAWSON: At the moment it's more like that. They have a temporary evacuation site at a park, Sprig Lake Park on Highway 52. And the authorities are looking for primitive (ph) -- you know, longer-term evacuation sites to do with the people. But that's being carried out by the sheriff's department. I don't have details.

MYERS: Mr. Rawson, looking at some of these pictures, and there looks like a lot of fuel around these homes, big tall evergreens, probably, some very dry grass, as well, huh?

RAWSON: You see it better than I do.

MYERS: OK. Well, I'll tell you what. These flames are leaping 50 feet in the air, well over the tops -- to the tree tops, as well. Not only a ground fire; this is actually a tree-top fire. It's all over the place. And you guys have your hands full for sure.

RAWSON: The high winds are a major problem.

LEMON: Yes, major. And Chad, as I talked about that. OK. Dick Rawson joining us from CalFire. Thank you very much.

Obviously, we're going to continue to follow this story, developing as we're speaking here, just at the top of our newscast, Chad.

Hey, Chad, we also want to talk -- actually, before this, iReports. It's a good thought.

MYERS: Oh, sure.

LEMON: if you have any information that you want to give to us. Of course, stay out of harm's way. But You can send us your pictures, your video and just your story to tell us if you're dealing with this. We'd love to get that on the air for you.

And Chad, we want to talk about another fast-moving wildfire that's chased dozens of families from their home. This one is just north of Orlando, Florida. Let's take a look at the pictures now.

More than 1,000 acres of dry forest -- look at that -- and marshland have burned. And that's in Lake County. So far, though, no homes there have caught fire, unlike in California, what they're dealing with. I mean, just fires, you know, from -- book-ending this...

MYERS: Yes. Well, this is out by DeLand, about -- this is only about 40 miles from where my parents live. And it's just to the east there of the Ocala National Forest and running across the Ocala National Forest into the DeLand area, which way the smoke is going right now.

But great news on this, Don: it is raining like buckets. Fifty miles to the west, and the rain is coming. That's good.

LEMON: Exactly. Speaking of rain -- speaking of rain...

MYERS: Rain is coming on that one.

LEMON: ... storm clouds in the middle of the country, which -- should we be worried?

MYERS: Tornadoes again today, anywhere from Wyoming through Nebraska, Colorado, back into Kansas. It is going to be one of those days where it's going to be more than one tornado on the ground at the same time. So we're not going to be able to keep up with everything today.

But you need to keep a weather radio owner on if you have one. It's the best thing you can do. Although I've found -- you know, Don?


MYERS: We have a couple here in the weather office and one in the newsroom. We've had a couple tornado warnings and watches the past couple days, and some of these are not going off. And we're thinking maybe, because we have so many other monitors on -- you know, we have microphones on, that maybe those microphones are interfering with the signal.

So those radios always have an antenna. You make sure that that antenna is up for good reception, because to have a radio that doesn't get anything is -- is worthless.

LEMON: Was it two days ago when the storms came through Atlanta?


LEMON: Mine just went crazy.

MYERS: Yours did?


MYERS: Then you know it's working.

LEMON: Yes, I got it. I had been on the air, telling people you've got to get your NOAA weather radio. You've got to get your NOAA weather radio. And finally on the air, I said, "You know what? I don't have one." And someone from the weather department brought me over -- brought me a NOAA weather radio over. It is important to have.


LEMON: We're going to continue following this story, the storms that are forming in the middle of the country, the California wildfires and also the fires in Florida, in the CNN NEWSROOM.

We're going to toss it over to Brianna now -- Brianna.

KEILAR: Don, we've got an update in that saga of the delegates, the Democratic delegates in Florida who were basically stripped of being delegates in the Democratic National Convention because they moved up their primary there.

I just found out -- I'm reading here off of a press release, in fact, from a state senator in Florida. A state -- state Senate Democratic leader Steven Geller announced that he has filed a lawsuit. This is in federal court, and it's to force the national Democratic Party to recognize those votes that were cast by 1.7 million Floridians. That was back, obviously, in late January when they held their presidential primary.

Geller is an uncommitted super delegate. And there's also two other people joining him in his lawsuit. One is a delegate pledged to Barack Obama; another, a delegate pledged to Hillary Clinton.

So, of course, this is a continuing issue in the Democratic race: how to seat those delegates in Florida, as well as Michigan. So this is the latest development. We'll bring you more details as they become available. And the price of crude oil, it surged above $135 a barrel for the first time today. Congress wants to know why. In a House hearing, Energy Secretary Samuel Bodman disputed the conventional wisdom that speculators are to blame. Bodman says it's simple supply and demand. And if that's the case, says one congressman, we should focus on demand.


REP. EMANUEL CLEAVER (D), MISSOURI: Alcoholics Anonymous does not encourage its participants to visit more bars as a means of reducing their dependence on alcohol. Likewise, the solution for our energy crisis is not more drilling.


KEILAR: Also on Capitol Hill, oil executives testified for the second straight day. They denied their companies are making excessive profits.

And with the average price of regular gas now at a record $3.83 a gallon, Ford today announcing a sharp cutback in pickup and SUV production. CNN senior business correspondent Ali Velshi joining us with the details.

This is a big deal, Ali.

ALI VELSHI, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, it is a big deal, because it's so emblematic of who Americans are in terms of vehicles, in terms of Ford, in terms of big vehicles.

Ford chairman coming out today and saying that, when the -- when the average price of gasoline hit $3.50 a gallon -- we're at $3.83, as you just mentioned -- they just saw a remarkable drop-off in the sales of higher consumption SUVs and trucks.

It has really affected Ford, so Ford is now going to cut back on that production. They said possibly 15 percent of their production for the rest of the year. And that, of course, is going to mean possible layoffs or factories shutting down.

They are going to try and concentrate on exactly what Americans are doing. They want to concentrate or smaller, more fuel-efficient vehicles.

Now, we saw this a few weeks ago, Brianna. We compare, every month, auto sales to the same month last year. And we saw April auto sales dramatically different from the year before.

Truck sales for all the automakers have really fallen off a cliff. Auto sales, smaller vehicle sales were much bigger. Fuel- efficient sales were much bigger. So the bottom line here is that, at $3.50 a gallon, the behavior of Americans has changed substantially about the way they drive.

Here's the other thing: in CNN/Opinion Research polling, we've been told or we've been -- we've had responses from Americans that $4 a gallon, as a national average -- that's 17 cents from here -- is going to make people change their behavior.

So it's interesting that we saw it at $3.50, and yet people have told us it's going to be $4. What are we going to see as the price of gas goes up? We've had so many records in the price of oil that we can probably expect that the pace of increases in gasoline will increase. There are some metropolitan areas in two states in the United States where the average price of gas is now above $4 a gallon. So we're going to see a real sea change in behavior, Brianna.

KEILAR: Wow. And I know I paid $3.99 a gallon.

VELSHI: Right.

KEILAR: Again, that's what I paid last time in Virginia. That's what I paid in Atlanta yesterday. It's amazing.

VELSHI: It's psychological. It makes a difference.

KEILAR: It sure does. Ali Velshi for us out of New York. Thanks.

LEMON: Did you have to pay for your bag, though, when you were flying here? No.

KEILAR: No. Wait. I did for the second bag.

LEMON: There you go. So...

KEILAR: Twenty-five bucks.

LEMON: A lot of people are wondering what is next? Pay toilets in coach. Don't give them any ideas. But really, that's a reaction of one airline industry consultant to American Airlines' plans to charge passengers for even the first -- the first -- piece of checked luggage.

CNN's Alina Cho has more from New York's LaGuardia Airport.


ALINA CHO, CNN CORRESPONDENT: This is something the flying public simply is not used to. American Airlines says it's going to cost an extra $3 billion to fly this year, all because of soaring jet fuel prices. So the airline has decided, starting June 15, to start charging passengers $15 to check their very first bag.

Now, here's the breakdown: $15 for the first bag, $25 for the second bag. And here's where it gets interesting: $100 for the third bag. That means a family of four traveling, that will cost an extra $60 each way minimum.

American says it will also have to cut back flights. And that will mean some layoffs, too. But you know, we're all used to paying $8 for that sandwich, maybe $3 for trail mix. But did you know this? If you want a premium coach seat, say on JetBlue, that will cost you an extra $10 to $20. If you want to fly with a small child on your lap, that can cost anywhere from $10 to 10 percent of the adult fare. And if you want to bring Fluffy or Spot on board, say you want your pet with you in the cabin, that can cost anywhere from $50 to $85.

As for the $15 charge for the first bag checked on American, the reviews here at New York's LaGuardia have been mixed.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I'd rather them charge more for the flight than add it onto the bags. It's understandable that gas prices are going up, but right now, adding it onto the bags, it's just -- I don't know.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Short-term, American Airlines is losing money. Got to make it somehow.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: So you think it's a fair charge?



UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Pay for pounds. They should charge me extra for being fat.

CHO: We should mention if you're an elite passenger, if you're flying first or business, or you're flying internationally, you are exempt.

But in effect, you are paying by the pound. American calls it a fee, but it's essentially a fare increase.

U.S. Airlines had tried to increase fares 15 times just this year. Eleven of those attempts have succeeded. And that means if you're flying domestically, it will cost you $100 more this year than last year.

Airline analysts say people want bare-bones fares. They don't want to subsidize other people carrying around their wardrobe. Airlines simply can't afford the cost. And this is one way of keeping up.

Alina Cho, CNN, New York.


LEMON: All right. Our thanks to Alina.

Did he really say, "Charge me extra for being fat"?

KEILAR: He said that. Indeed.

LEMON: He's got a great sense of humor.

KEILAR: Yes, he does.

LEMON: How do you really feel, though, seriously? I wonder how our viewers really feel about paying for checked baggage. Are the extra fees justified or are they a rip-off? Want you to send your response to, and we'll be reading responses on our air throughout the day here.

Well, this certainly isn't the first time airlines have found ways to pinch pennies. Back in 1987, American Airlines said it saved $40,000 a year by eliminating one olive from each salad in first class. Wonder if they did the same thing with martinis. They could probably save more.

Southwest says by taking three peanuts out of each bag, it saves $300,000 a year.

And Northwest says it saved $2 million a year by dumping its half ounce bag of pretzels. We're talking 18 pretzels in each bag.

What do you think of that?

KEILAR: My goodness. I guess, you know, it all adds up, though, right? It all adds up.

LEMON: That's a lot of salad. And it's a lot of green, as someone said, about the lettuce and all that.

KEILAR: Sure is. Sure is.

Well, life goes on at a school in central China. You'd hardly know it, BUT the teens you see lost scores of fellow students in the earthquake, and some have even lost their parents.

LEMON: And it happens every year to Americans by the thousands. A doctor informs you that you have cancer. We'll tell you what steps you need to take right after hearing that awful diagnosis.


LEMON: So just a short time ago, President Bush got what he wanted from Congress, plus some things he didn't want.

Voting 70-26, the Senate approved his funding request for the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. That comes to $165 billion. But enough Republicans broke with Mr. Bush to help the Democrats take on money for quite a few domestic concerns there.

The House still has to act on the measure. Mr. Bush has threatened to veto if the bill has add-ons on it.

And remember the recent blowup over ratty living conditions at Ft. Bragg? Well, it may just be a coincidence, but President Bush traveled today to the base in North Carolina to talk about supporting the troops.

And joining us live at Ft. Bragg is CNN's Elaine Quijano. Coincidence, Elaine? Do we know for sure?

ELAINE QUIJANO, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, we know that President Bush actually, we're told by White House aides, Don, was already planning to come here to Ft. Bragg to talk to the troops before this story broke that you're talking about, that video posted on YouTube, showing some barracks with substandard conditions.

But Ft. Bragg, we should tell you, first of all, is home to the paratroopers of the 82nd Airborne Division, many of whom have served multiple tours, serving in both Iraq and Afghanistan.

President Bush was coming here to thank the troops for their service, for their sacrifices, but also to talk about this issue that you mentioned earlier. And that is war funding. President Bush trying to keep the pressure on Congress to come through and provide troops with the resources they need, he says, so that they can succeed in winning the war on terror.


GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We should be able to agree that our troops deserve America's full support. And that means the United States Congress needs to pass a responsible war funding bill that does not tie the hands of our commanders and gives our troops everything they need to complete and accomplish the mission.


QUIJANO: Now, the 82nd Airborne Division symbolizes the incredible sacrifices that have been made during President Bush's war on terror. More than 170 soldiers have died. In fact, so many have been killed that the original War on Terror memorial here at Ft. Bragg has actually had to been expanded. And President Bush, away from the cameras, is going to be taking part in a rededication ceremony to mark the expansion of that memorial.

Now, Don, you mentioned this story, again, as the substandard conditions at the barracks. President Bush actually took a tour of some old barracks and then also taking part in a tour of some new barracks. Essentially, these are barracks that we're talking about that have been in service for decades, since the 1950s.

And that video, we should tell you, was taken by a paratrooper's father several weeks ago. We're told by officials here at Ft. Bragg that even before that video was posted on YouTube, the repairs in question had already been made.

Nevertheless, of course, President Bush wanted to take a look for himself to ensure that the maintenance had been done. We're told that's what the president has done. And again, he'll also be taking part in that rededication ceremony that I mentioned -- Don.

LEMON: Elaine Quijano at Ft. Bragg. Elaine, thank you very much. KEILAR: The dead and the missing in China. The numbers really hard to comprehend: 51,000, almost, killed. Almost 51,000 killed. Nearly 10,000 missing. This all in the awful aftermath of that quake that struck 10 days ago.

We want to you take a look, have a listen. Really, it's just some amazing video that we just acquired. It was shot inside of a major airport packed with people when the earth began to rumble.




KEILAR: What would you do if you were in their shoes? You can see those frightened people. They could do little more than just ride it out, and then try to learn if their families and their homes, of course, had survived.

About 5 million people remain homeless today, and the Chinese government reports some rural villages are as much as 80 percent destroyed.

Let's talk now about some of the kids who are affected in all of this. Many of their family members -- these are students. Many of their family members are dead. Half of their classmates have perished, as well, and they're really just struggling for normalcy in the aftermath of this quake.

Hugh Riminton has their story.


HUGH RIMINTON, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Kids in a school camp. The laughter, the games, the institutional food, the excitement of routines changed. But more than half the students at Beichuan Middle School, nearly 1,500 children, are dead or missing. These are merely the survivors.

ZHANG YING, SCHOOL SURVIVOR (through translator): I saw my brother's leg sticking out of the rubble. I saw that he was dead. I saw many students were buried. I think about this all the time.

RIMINTON: This seventh grade boy describes the earth writhing like a snake. The psychological impacts are plainly profound.

"I saw so many dead bodies I was scared," says this 14-year-old. "I have nightmares. They wake me up."

Now camped out at a factory, children tell of scrambling with their bare hands for classmates crying out from the ruins. The ones they managed to get water to, the ones they could do nothing to save.

Yang Xiaoping was in the back row of his class.

"There was such a crush to get out," he says. "I saw classmates getting trampled. Somehow I got out."

But he hasn't heard from his parents since.

"My uncle said someone saw my father," he says, "but there's been no information about my mom. I hope I'll find my parents, because they'll see me on TV."

Well, we have been told the truth is both his parents are dead. At 14, he is an orphan, but no one's told him yet.

Some teachers say it is better to tell these children everything.

ZHANG MINGCHUN, TEACHER (through translator): There's nothing to be gained in avoiding the subject. Sooner or later they are going to have to face the reality.

RIMINTON (on camera): Whatever their losses and their traumas, these kids are at least safe now. But for many of them, this is now the only home they have.

The priority is to reestablish for them some sort of routine. And for school children, that means classes.

(voice-over) For some, they've already begun. One 14-year-old tells me he does feel strengthened by something. Friendships, he says, are a lot closer now.

Hugh Riminton, CNN, Yenjiang (ph), China.


KEILAR: It's really CNN iReporters who have been sharing some of the pictures from the earthquake zone that really give us a perspective of what happened there.

You can add to our iReports if you want. Just go to If you scroll down, about halfway down our front page there on the Web site, you'll see you can go to iReport. You can take a look. You can share your own stories. Your stories unfiltered.

And perhaps you want to help. You've seen the horrible pictures. You've seen how people are struggling. And you find out how you can support the relief effort there in China. Just go to, again, You can go to "Impact Your World" or "Impact Your World" Web page. You'll find links to reputable aid groups and details on, really, what you can do to help them. -- Don.

LEMON: All right, Brianna. Absolutely. You can help, as well.

And we want to -- we told you at the beginning of this newscast, top of the hour, there was some very strong weather hitting the middle part of the country. Our Chad Myers joining us now from the severe weather center with an update.

Chad, what do you have? MYERS: High plains tornado, Don. Tornado probably on the ground. There's a lot of rotation with this storm near Gilchrist and Platteville into Colorado.

There's Denver. We travel north of Denver, south of Greeley. And that's where the warning is, where that pink box was. There it is right there. This storm is rotating, moving to the northwest at about 30 miles per hour.

And Gilchrist, I think you're really in the path of this tornado. So good time to take cover right now. It is for Weld County. Well, north of Denver, not going to Denver. But there are still some towns up here that could get in the way of this tornado. We'll keep you advised.

LEMON: All right. Chad Myers, thank you very much for that.

Ellen DeGeneres, she asks John McCain to walk her down the aisle. We'll tell you what the GOP hopeful had to say in their discussion of same-sex marriage.


LEMON: All right. We have some developing news just into the CNN NEWSROOM and it involves that polygamy ranch in Eldorado, Texas. This is very interesting, because an appeals court -- this is according to the Associated Press, I want to stress that.

An appeals court rules Texas had no right, no right to seize hundreds of children from that polygamist sect. We know that 460 children were removed from the YFZ Ranch. That was back in April, after receiving allegations of abuse at that compound. Representatives of that church denied that any abuse had taken place there. But 460 children taken from that ranch.

And now an appeals court, according to the Associated Press, has ruled that Texas, the state of Texas, had no right to seize hundreds of children from that polygamist sect.

And it was yesterday at this time, maybe a little bit later on in the afternoon, that we were reporting that representatives from Texas Child Welfare Agency, from an agency there, had gone back to this ranch and were turned away at the gate. They were investigating whether or not there might be more children on this ranch in Eldorado, Texas. We had that news yesterday. And now we're hearing that Texas had no right to seize hundreds of children from that sect, according to the Associated Press.

We are working to get some confirmation and some -- an update on this to let us know exactly what is going on here in Texas. But again, Texas had no right to take those children according to the Associated Press.

We'll update you.

(BUSINESS HEADLINES) LEMON: Okay. Just getting some new information in regarding that Texas polygamist ranch. According to the Associated Press, an appeals court in Texas has ruled that the state of Texas had no right to take those 460 children off of that ranch.

Joining us now on the phone, Ed Lavandera, he joins us from Texas.

Ed has been following this story.

And Ed, there have been people who were saying that they did not follow the letter of the law when they removed those children. It appears that an appeals court may be agreeing with those voices.

ED LAVANDERA, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Right, Don. And this announcement coming from the appellate court here in Texas. Coming as there -- a series of hearings in San Angelo regarding the child custody issues with the children of this sect.

This ruling out of Austin also goes on to say that the Family and Protective Services division, which is the agency in charge of removing the children from the compound, that they did not prove that the children were in danger and that they need to be removed from their homes. You can imagine what the reaction is going to be here in the coming hours from those involved with the sect and those who live inside this compound, who for the last several days that the hearings have been going on in San Angelo, have been talking intensely about how angered and sickened they are by the way everything has been handled.

And interestingly enough, they've also been kind of catching onto the details that have been coming out in each of these hearings, where over and over we've seen the case workers that have been testifying in these individual cases. When asked in these hearings whether or not they have found evidence of abuse, they are saying that they haven't yet in these particular cases. And state officials are also saying they still need more time to investigate and they're still in that process.

But up until now, they haven't been any kind of hard details released in these court hearings suggesting that there have been allegations of abuse. So, you couple all of this together and you can imagine the attorneys for the polygamist sect are going to be -- you know, going to have some intense opinions about this ruling today.

LEMON: And it's very interesting, Ed, because obviously we've discussed this issue a lot. And then reading a lot about it. There are people who are saying, you know, there's abuse in the larger society but no one runs in and takes everyone in a neighborhood if there's abuse on one house or what have you, or in the neighborhood. And that this was sort of, again, a subversion of the law. That they weren't following the letter of the law here.

But then, I think people were saying, well, if there is a possibility that even one child was being abused on this ranch that was so closed off to the larger society, then this action may have been warranted.

LAVANDERA: Exactly. That's what many of the people who have agreed with what the state has done. And it has been a -- you know, this has been the kind of the issue at the core of an intense debate here in Texas, over the last month and a half, as this story has unfolded.

LEMON: And not just in Texas. I mean, just -- nationwide I've been hearing a lot of back and forth. Very strong opinions about this saying, you know what, that these people are innocent until proven guilty.

And no one is seeing that in this case, Ed.

LEMON: No, you're right. It's a nationwide kind of reaction to what is happening. And obviously when you have a situation where there is the possibility where children are threatened or face the prospect of abuse, you know, I think the overwhelming sense is that something needs to be done as quickly and immediately as possible.

However, there are -- the intensity of feelings on the other side, especially from those close to -- inside this polygamist sect who maintain steadfastly up and down that, look, children here aren't being abused. That they're not in this terrible situation that state officials are alleging.

And here you have parents who say they are driving hundreds and hundreds of miles across the state, trying to meet with their children who have been taken away from them. You know, the intensity and the feelings over what's going on right here I think is only going to be heightened by this ruling out of Austin today.

LEMON: OK, Ed Lavandera, who has been following this case for us, joining us from Texas.

Ed, we appreciate that. Look over that -- and if you get anymore -- on that ruling, if you get any more information, please join us in the NEWSROOM.

Thank you, though.

LEMON: We're going to move on. Of course we're going to follow this story, obviously because we have been following it for months.

It has garnered a lot of the nation's attention.

We also want to talk about this. John McCain, says he wants to appeal to all Americans, including those who don't usually vote Republican.

We'll tell you about his outreach efforts.


LEMON: OK. This just in to the CNN NEWSROOM. And we have gotten the -- this is the ruling right here, as Ed Lavandera, has been saying, from the third district of Texas. It's from the Court of Appeals.

The appellate court there, ruling and CNN has confirmed obviously, that the appeals court rules that Texas had no right to seize hundreds of children from that polygamist ranch there. 460 children removed from that ranch in April.

Our legal analyst, Sunny Hostin is looking at this ruling now, going over it in-depth and she is going to join us to break it down in just a little bit, right here in the CNN NEWSROOM.

KEILAR: And Don, this just in to the CNN NEWSROOM.

A tornado on the ground north of Denver.

Let's head straight to Chad Meyers, for more information on this -- Chad.

CHAD MEYERS, CNN METEOROLOGIST: Yes, weather service calling it a large and dangerous tornado on the ground, moving to the northwest at 25 to 30 miles per hour. Maybe a little bit more than 30 miles per hour. This has been moving pretty fast. It is going to go to the south of Greeley. And those pink boxes that you see there -- Milliken you just got missed but a little bit. But there are little subdivisions east of Milliken, Colorado, that may have been hit by this, I don't know yet. We're still trying to get confirmation.

Well very close to Gilchrist, Colorado, and now headed a little bit farther to the north, maybe toward the town of Windsor. About 3,500 people in the path of this according to our Doppler radar. We will keep watching it for you. This is a big time tornado on the ground, in the high plains, north and east of Denver. Probably 40 miles northeast of Denver. But still, we're going to start to move into more populated areas if this stays on the ground. And right now, this looks like it has no intention of slowing down.

KEILAR: And Chad, I don't recall the last time that I heard of a tornado in Colorado.

It's seems rare, is it?

MEYERS: It can -- yes, it's a little bit rare. Probably a little bit more rare than ones a little bit farther to the east.

But once you get that wind heading up, it's almost like the mountains in the up slope of that little bit of land, almost acts like a cold front. So when you get air going up, you certainly can get big time tornadoes. And they can be seen for a long, long way. because there's not a tree in sight to actually get in the way. And so they'll be seeing this tornado from 30 or 40 miles away.

KEILAR: All right. Well at least they will be able to see it from so far away.

Chad Meyers, we know you'll keep an eye on that for us. Thanks.

MEYERS: You're welcome. KEILAR: And Ted Kennedy's brain tumor diagnoses -- it was certainly a stunner. But what if you were told you had cancer?

Our medical correspondent, Elizabeth Cohen, here with information that you need to become an empowered patient.

And what is the first thing you do if someone says that you have cancer?

ELIZABETH COHEN, CNN MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: Well most people of course, are clueless about cancer. So the 1.4 million Americans who get that diagnoses, the first thing they need to do is learn something about the disease that they have. Because once they learn something about it, they can go on to do other things.

And in the column this week, we give you links so that people can learn how to read their own pathology report. You can actually do that. You don't have to be a doctor. Also you can learn how to pick a doctor, we have links for that. And how to review treatment options. There are great sites on the Internet that go through the options for some of the major types of cancer.

Now some of these sites are hard to find, so we do the looking for you. We have links to some 25 different sites. We comb through everything to get the best information for cancer patients.

KEILAR: Certainly -- I mean at least anecdotally, I know in my family when we've dealt with a cancer diagnosis, that there's something empowering about being educated, having a plan of action. That's almost therapeutic in itself. But let's talk because cancer is devastating medically and emotionally, but, financially as well.

COHEN: Oh, sure. Even people who have good health insurance, it can be difficult financially to deal with cancer. And we found on the Internet all sorts of sites where people can get financial help. You can get grants to help you with your treatment, if you don't have insurance or have not very good insurance. There are grants to pay for expensive medicines used to treat cancer, even grants for travel. If you need to travel to a cancer center, if you don't live near one, there's money to help with that, too.

KEILAR: A lot of people, about any diagnosis, they're private people. But at the same time, it does help to have support. There are support groups out there.

How do people make sure that they find the right one?

COHEN: There are so many of them. And again, there are so many different places on the Internet, that if you go on the Internet looking for cancer support groups, it can feel overwhelming.

So we combed through and got the best sites for support groups -- support groups in person and there's also online support groups.

So, go to

The article is up there right now, full of all the links you need.

KEILAR: Great information. Elizabeth Cohen, thanks.

HARRIS: All right. Now back to our developing news, here in the NEWSROOM, this is besides the weather. We do have some weather breaking out here. But this involves that polygamist ranch, El Dorado, Texas.

We're just going over a ruling here, from the appeals court in Texas saying, that the state had no right to take all of these children. And once we break this out for you, you're going to find it very interesting.

As a matter of fact, we're going to break it out for you right now because our legal analyst, Sunny Hostin, has been looking at this thing.

Sunny, I've been looking at it as well.

I don't want to put words in your mouth, but it appears, it's saying here, that the state didn't really prove its case.

SUNNY HOSTIN, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: That's exactly what it's saying. I mean, it is a riveting opinion. It's about -- it's short -- it's only nine pages, but it really, really says exactly that. That they -- the department simply did not meet its burden under Texas law. And when I say the department, I'm referring to the Texas Department of Family and Protective Services. They are saying very clearly, that these children were taken away from their mothers without sort of taking a preliminary measure or any other measure to stop short of doing that. And so it really is a compelling opinion and a very, very distinct opinion.

LEMON: And what it said was, it was the state -- it was incumbent on the state, and I'm talking about this document here, it says so. That they had to prove some sort of physical danger for these children.

And on page six, Sunny, at the bottom it says, "The department failed to carry its burden with respect to the requirements of section and it goes on. The danger must be to the physical health or safety of the child. The department did not present any evidence of danger to the physical health or safety of any male children or any female children who had not reached puberty, nor did the department offer any evidence that any of the realtors, meaning the folks who are at the house, pubescent female children, were in physical danger other than that those children live in the ranch among a group of people who have a perversive system of belief that condone polygamist marriage and underage females having children."

HOSTIN: That's absolutely right. And really, what they're also saying is that under the Texas Code, they had the burden -- just like the prosecution usually has the burden -- of proving three things.

One is that there was a danger to the physical health or safety of their children. And two, that there was an urgent need, urgent need. Because of course, when you take someone away from their parents, that need has to be really urgent. The urgent need for protection of the kids that requires their immediate removal. Or that this department made reasonable efforts to eliminate or prevent the children's removal from their parents.

And I think that seems to be what the court is saying. One, that they didn't find this imminent, imminent danger, this urgent need for protection. And moreover, that they didn't do anything in between to sort of prevent the children's removal from their parents, maybe something in the middle.

LEMON: Okay, Sunny. Page three, right below the line B, where it says, "At the conclusion of the full advisory hearing, the court shall order the return of the child to the parent, managing conservator, or the possessory conservator, guardian, caretaker."

Everyone's wondering here, what happens to these children? Do they go back to their families now?

HOSTIN: You know, it's not exactly, exactly, apparent from this decision. What the court says is that the evidence produced at the hearing was legally and factually insufficient to support the findings that -- to maintain custody of the children.

However, it also going on to say that the petition is conditionally granted and that the District Court is directed to vacate, and what that means is, is that the district has to vacate its temporary quarters granting sole conservatorship. But it doesn't go as far to say, and this is what happens next.

LEMON OK. All right. Sunny Hostin, thank you for looking over this ruling. CNN is also poring over this ruling as well, other people here.

But the big question is, really, what happens next to these children and these parents on this ranch. Can they sue? Are the children going back to their parents? What happens next? That's the big question. We're going to try to answer that for you today throughout the day right here in the CNN NEWSROOM.


LEMON: OK, severe weather we have here, the possibility of a tornado near Denver. Go for it, Chad.

MYERS: About 50 miles north of Denver in the town, almost to call it a city, of Windsor, Colorado. If you're hearing me in Windsor, Colorado, you need to be taking cover now. You only have seconds before this very large and on the ground by spotters dangerous tornado gets into your city. Take cover at this point. Right now you need to stay inside and get to the lowest level. We could be into Fort Collins, maybe to Wellington next. But Windsor, Colorado, you are in the immediate path of a very large tornado -- Don.

LEMON: All right, Chad Meyers, thank you very much for that. we'll continue to follow. KEILAR: Republican hopeful John McCain says he wants to appeal to every voter, not just Republicans. CNN's Mary Snow reports, an interview with "Essence" magazine is one way that he's going about it.


MARY SNOW, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): In his "Essence" magazine interview, Senator John McCain says he'll go to places where he can continue a dialogue with African-Americans. And that includes the NAACP convention in July. He didn't attend last year.

It's part of McCain's effort to reach out to black Americans. In April, on the 40th anniversary of Martin Luther King's assassination, McCain admitted he made a mistake in voting against making the King remembrance a federal holiday.

SEN. JOHN MCCAIN (R-AZ), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I would remind you that we can all be a little late sometimes in doing the right thing.

SNOW: He also toured New Orleans' Ninth Ward and visited the site in Selma where civil rights marchers had been beaten four decades ago. He was asked about the fact that a majority of the people in the crowd who came out to see him were white, not black.

MCCAIN: There will be many people who will not vote for me. But I'm going to be the president of all the people.

SNOW: African-Americans are one of the most reliable voting blocs for Democrats. And one political observer says, making it even more challenging for Republicans this year is the Bush administration's handling of Katrina, the economy, and the war.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This year is going to be even tougher for the Republicans to get a fair hearing from African-Americans.

SNOW: Political observers point out that, in 2006, there were several African-American Republicans running for high-profile offices, for example, Ken Blackwell. He ran for Ohio governor two years ago and lost. Now a columnist for "The New York Sun," Blackwell and others note the drop-off of Republican candidates who are African- American.

KENNETH BLACKWELL, FORMER OHIO SECRETARY OF STATE: The Republican brand is in trouble. And it's just not a brand in trouble with African-Americans. It's in trouble with working-class whites. It's in trouble with a whole cross section of voter groups.

SNOW (on camera): And McCain has been reaching out to a number of the groups, as he also tries to sway moderates and some Democrats.

Mary Snow, CNN, New York.


KEILAR: McCain discussed his opposition to same-sex marriage when he stopped by "The Ellen Degeneres Show." Ellen mentioned her plans to marry her longtime girlfriend.


SEN. JOHN MCCAIN (R-AZ), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I think that people should be able to enter into legal agreements, and I think that that is something that we should encourage. I just believe in the unique status of marriage between man and woman.

ELLEN DEGENERES, HOST, "THE ELLEN DEGENERES SHOW": There is this old way of thinking that we are not all the same. We are all the same people, all of us. You're no different than I am. Our love is the same.

MCCAIN: We just have a disagreement, and I along with many, many others wish you every happiness.

DEGENERES: Thank you. So you'll walk me down the aisle? Is that what you're saying?


KEILAR: Well, McCain told Degeneres that she's been eloquent, but they still have, what he calls, a respectful disagreement.

LEMON: Let's take a look at the radar. And you can see things are popping right there, right in the middle. That spot you see in the middle right there. Things are happening. There is a tornado, according to our Chad Meyers, on the ground near Denver, Colorado. He is checking up on that. Thank you WKGN for those pictures.

On the right of your screen -- you see that -- that's polygamist ranch in Texas. Well, it appears that these children may have to go back to their families. What we're saying is that an appeals court in Texas has ruled that the state had no right to take children. What happens next? We're following all of it next in the NEWSROOM.