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No One Hurt in Medical Helicopter Crash; Obama in Excellent Health; Survey: Residents in Hurricane Zones Unprepared

Aired May 29, 2008 - 13:00   ET


VELSHI: Only thing is once somebody told me I look like that guy Harry.
OGUNNAIKE: You look exactly like Harry. You could be twins.

VELSHI: But he had a nude scene. I don't know anything about that.

WILLIS: No nude scenes.

OGUNNAIKE: Only Mr. Bald (ph).

WILLIS: We've got to get back to the CNN NEWSROOM with Brianna Keilar and T.J. Holmes. That's starting right now.

T.J. HOLMES, CO-HOST: A breaking story happening right now from a hospital roof in Grand Rapids, Michigan. A medical helicopter crashes and burns on take-off. We've got the word.

BRIANNA KEILAR, CO-HOST: Whatever you think of Barack Obama, you've got to love his blood pressure and his cholesterol levels and his body fat score. The Democratic front-runner's medical records on the public record this hour.

Hi, there. I'm Brianna Keilar at CNN world headquarters in Atlanta.

HOLMES: And hello, everyone. I'm T.J. Holmes. You are in the CNN NEWSROOM.

Take a look at this here. Big black smoke filling the sky after a helicopter crashes trying to take off from a roof of a Michigan hospital. This happened just under two hours ago at the Spectrum Health Butterworth Hospital. This is in downtown Grand Rapids. The pilot and the passenger suffered minor injuries. And the crash started a fire, as you can see, on the roof.

Our affiliate there, WOO-TV -- WOOD-TV, says the passenger is believed to be an FAA official. The pilot was actually practicing a maneuver called touch-and-go. So they were actually practicing approaches when this crashed. The fire was put out quickly, but patients still were evacuated from two floors of the hospital.

Again, no -- no deaths here to report. No one was killed in the crash. Actually, the two onboard were able to get out before the helicopter actually caught fire. Now, we will continue to follow this story and have more details as they come into us.

Also we'd like to solicit your help in telling these stories. Also we -- as always we like to solicit iReports. So if you have some pictures you can send them to us. You go to, send those in, help us tell the story.

KEILAR: We're also keeping our eye on severe weather. Chad Myers in the severe weather center, zeroing in on some nasty storms -- Chad.


KEILAR: All right. We will check in with you here in a second, Chad. Thanks so much. And you know, the start of the Atlantic hurricane season is right around the corner. The first storm will be named Arthur. Are you ready for this? We're going to have a report from John Zarrella ahead in the NEWSROOM.

HOLMES: Well, you can say what you want about Barack Obama's politics, say what you want about his policies, say what you want about the man, but you can't say he's unhealthy. This is a healthy man you're looking at right there.

The Democratic presidential front-runner released his medical records today. CNN medical correspondent Elizabeth Cohen joins us now from New York.

And my goodness, he's got an A on his medical report card.

ELIZABETH COHEN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: He certainly is. Now, I just want to be clear here. We don't have -- when people think of medical records they think of a big file with lots of things. This is just a statement from his doctor with information that the doctor chose to include. The doctor is David Sheiner at the University of Chicago.

Let's look at sort of the big picture here. Excellent health. That was the -- those were the words that Dr. Sheiner used. EKG normal. And PSA, which is an indication of the possibility of getting prostate cancer, very good. And his blood pressure, which we've been talking about, 90 over 60. Man, that is fabulous.

Let's take a look at the senator's cholesterol. Also numbers to envy. His total cholesterol is 173. Normal is below 200. His bad cholesterol is 96. Normal is below 100. So great. Good cholesterol is 68. You want to see that number above 40. So again, everything in this report is good.

HOLMES: All right. Everything. We do know if there was any health issue that a lot of people might be familiar with, it's the fact that, yes, in fact, he has been a smoker throughout many parts of his life. Do they have a mention in there about him being a smoker and if it had any effect on his health?

COHEN: Yes. They mention -- the doctor mentions that he has been an intermittent smoker. "Intermittent" was the word he used. We don't know how many years he smoked and how many packs per day. But the doctor mentions that he is now chewing Nicorette gum to get over smoking, and they say that it's going very well.

HOLMES: All right. And what about family? Anything to be concerned about there in his family history?

COHEN: It is interesting. Dr. Sheiner mentions two things about his family history that the doctor says is pertinent.

The first one he mentions, that Obama's mother died of ovarian cancer and that his grandfather died of prostate cancer. Prostate cancer is thought can sometimes run in families. It's also more common among African-American men. That doesn't necessarily tell us very much, but it is worth noting.

HOLMES: All right. Thank you so much, Elizabeth Cohen, with the health report card, the medical report card for Senator Barack Obama. Thank you so much.

COHEN: Thanks.

KEILAR: Well, Barack Obama opposed the war in Iraq before it started and ever since. But he may be heading back there. Obama's campaign says the Democratic front-runner is considering a visit before the November election.

Republican John McCain, who supports the war and the troop surge, has blasted Obama for not visiting Iraq in more than two years and for turning down McCain's offer of a joint visit. Well, the Arizona senator says he's glad that Obama is considering a trip.

Can visits to Iraq by either candidate really provide a true picture of what is happening there on the ground? Two of CNN's Baghdad veterans, Kyra Phillips and Michael Ware, will join us with their insight.

HOLMES: Well, when it came to invading Iraq, says former White House spokesman Scott McClellan, President Bush went with his guts, not necessarily with the evidence.

Kicking off a media tour to sell his new book, McClellan says the president decided soon after 9-11 to make an example of Saddam Hussein. After that, according to McClellan, came the campaign to justify a war. He appeared this morning on NBC's "Today Show."


SCOTT MCCLELLAN, FORMER WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: You get caught up in trying to sell this war to the American people. Paul Wolfowitz went and said publicly that the rationale that we all agreed on that would be the best selling point for this war was the weapons of mass destruction and, obviously, the connection to Iraq. And much of that information was based in what could be substantiated.

But at the same time, as we accelerated the buildup to the war, the information that we were talking about became a little more certain than it was. The caveats were dropped. Intelligence, you know, contradictory intelligence was ignored.


HOLMES: Well, McClellan says Vice President Cheney, quote, "has not served the president well," end quote.

And speaking about Condoleezza Rice, McClellan says in her role as national security adviser, she was too accommodating of strong personalities on the foreign policy team.

And some of McClellan's former colleagues have said he never spoke up at the time. And they wonder why he didn't just quit if he wasn't on board.

Former White House counselor Dan Bartlett notes McClellan was deputy press secretary when the war in Iraq was being contemplated and, thus, wouldn't know what the president did or did not consider.

At a conference on Iraq today in Sweden, Condoleezza Rice, now secretary of state, said this.


CONDOLEEZZA RICE, SECRETARY OF STATE: I'm not going to comment on a book that I haven't read, but I will say that the concerns about weapons of mass destruction in Saddam Hussein's Iraq were the fundamental reason for tens -- for dozens of resolutions within the Security Council from the time that Saddam Hussein was expelled from Kuwait in 1991 up until 2003.


HOLMES: Well, tomorrow McClellan joins CNN's Wolf Blitzer in "THE SITUATION ROOM." That's 6 p.m. Eastern, 3 Pacific. Right here on CNN.

KEILAR: These are not the kind of numbers the Pentagon likes to report and, really, no one likes to see these numbers. Today we learned that U.S. soldiers are committing suicide at a steadily rising rate.

The latest figures are from last year 2007, which is also the most violent year yet for U.S. troops in Iraq and Afghanistan. So here are the raw figures.

Last year, 108 active Army National Guard or Army reservists took their own lives. That is up a few from the year before. And it's really up a lot from earlier this decade. This data coming to us from the Army. No such research is available from the Air Force, Navy or Marines at this point.

And the Pentagon is holding a news conference on the suicide report later today. We will update you on any news that comes from that. But we're not finished with this tragic topic.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) CHRIS SCHEUERMAN, FATHER: They knew what was going on. And they failed him.


KEILAR: They are talking about the U.S. military system, the one their son was part of before he killed himself. CNN's Randi Kaye has an in-depth report on one family's grief and loss and anger. That is just ahead.

HOLMES: We want to turn now back to a story we told you about at the top of the hour: a helicopter crashing on top of a hospital in downtown Grand Rapids, Michigan. We want to turn now to WZZM reporter on the scene for us live, Amy Fox, who was there.

Amy, what can you tell us? I guess the update there, a good thing that nobody was killed, we understand.

AMY FOX, WZZM REPORTER: That is absolutely true, T.J. The very good news in this situation is that no one was killed. There were two people on board this helicopter when it crashed, a pilot and, we're told, a trainer of some sort. They were doing some tests, take-offs and practice landings. And that's when the crash happened.

I am standing a short distance away from the hospital. The building that you see, the large building you see behind me, behind that crane is Spectrum Hospital where the crash took place.

As I said, the helicopter was doing a practice take-off and landing. And apparently, one of the rotors hit some kind of a tower on top of the building there. That's when the crash happened. Witnesses say that helicopter blades were just flying all over the place, landing on top of the roof, flying.

However, the two people who were onboard, a pilot and a passenger, were able to get out, get away from the hospital. You can take a look from our Mass cam. You can see that there is a much closer view of what happened and the scene on top of the hospital at this point.

Now two floors, the top two floors of the Spectrum Health Hospital, were evacuated. Those patients were moved elsewhere in the hospital. But that is all of the damage that we're hearing about at this point.

The two people onboard the helicopter are alive. We don't have any information about their conditions at this point. And the -- some of the patients within the hospital are being moved to other locations within the hospital here in Grand Rapids, Michigan.

HOLMES: And Amy, we want to ask. It might be too early for us to have this information, but I'll take a stab at it here. If the pilot was an experienced pilot who was just doing a routine training just to freshen up, or was this a brand-new pilot who was just learning how to do these maneuvers? We have any word on that just yet? FOX: We do, yes. The hospital had a press conference just a short time ago. And they actually said that this was their most experienced pilot on staff. He was apparently a Vietnam veteran, very experienced. And so obviously, this was some kind of update to his training and practice. It was not a new pilot. It was an experienced pilot who was making these practice runs.

HOLMES: Well, that is an absolutely interesting tidbit of information to have there.

Amy Fox with our affiliate, WZZM. Amy, good to see you. Thank you so much.

KEILAR: They have faced hurricane after hurricane. Why aren't more people ready for this year's storms? A new survey finds that an astonishing number of coastal residents are ill prepared.

HOLMES: Also, senior citizens and prescription drugs, sometimes a deadly mix. We'll talk about the dangers of overmedication.


HOLMES: Well, after 22 straight days of record highs, AAA says the average price of regular gas now at $3.95.2 per gallon. The crude oil markets have bounced around a bit, but prices mostly lower.

Our senior business correspondent, Ali Velshi, went on CNN Radio this morning to talk with listeners about their energy concerns. And I can imagine you heard a lot.

VELSHI: Unbelievable. Everything from conspiracy theories to just frustration to suggestions to questions about why is the price this high?

Now, the one piece of good news around this whole thing is that oil prices right now are substantially lower. They dropped a few bucks. It was under -- right now, it's under $127 a barrel. What a steal. Less than $127 a barrel.

Here's one of the ones I got, one of the e-mails I got, T.J., from Jana in Sioux Falls, saying, "Why won't the government tap into all our oil reserves that we have built up to start easing the price of gas at the pump?"

You know, T.J., they're talking about the Strategic Petroleum Reserve, about 700 million gallons of oil stored in tanks -- barrels, I'm sorry -- underground in Texas and Louisiana.

The fact is we consume so much oil that that's a drop in the bucket. The government stopped refilling that. You remember that a couple weeks ago? Had no effect on oil. In fact, oil went the other direction. So it's thought of as a good idea, but it doesn't really have much effect. We really have to change the way we think about oil and how we consume it.

HOLMES: And you talk about these energy concerns. Is everything -- I mean, were most of the questions about gas, gas prices, oil?

VELSHI: Yes. Yes, they really were. There were questions about, you know, what -- is it speculators driving up the price of gas? I got this one interesting one, which you know, this is the reason it's good to take these calls and e-mails. Because you hear what's on people's minds.

Angie in Geneva, Florida, said, "Do you foresee a time in the near future where we will be rations -- will have rations for gas?"

And remember one thing that's interesting here, T.J., is that, while gas prices are high, no one has run out of gas. If you're prepared to pay for it, you'll get it. So this isn't like the '70s, you know, where we had people lining up at gas stations.

I think it is a crisis, because we're paying this much and it's working its way into everything else, as you have discussed many times with people when you've seen them. But it's not a crisis in that you can't get the gas. One day it might be, but right now it's not.

LEMON: And is there a prevailing conspiracy theory or they're just kind of all over the place?

VELSHI: Yes, I mean, a lot of people -- look, people want to know if the oil companies are responsible, the oil executives. Some people thought it might be the government. Some people thought that it's the trading, the speculation in trading. A lot of those kinds of discussions.

Mostly people are like, what's going on here? Why is this so ridiculously expensive? Why is it going this high? And is anybody going to step in and do something about this or is the market just going to be what the market is and we'll change?

Here's the interesting thing, T.J. At $3.50 per gallon as the national average, we heard from the major automakers that people just stopped buying those SUVs and trucks. Now we're almost at $4. Eleven states and the District of Columbia are at $4 a gallon for gas. I think you are going to see people making more decisions about the way they travel, how they travel, how often and what they drive.

HOLMES: My goodness. And you know what I drive. Right, Ali?

VELSHI: You've got that minivan. But that is -- minivans are fuel-efficient. You are ahead of the curve, T.J. Ahead.

HOLMES: All right. Ali, it's always a pleasure. Seriously.

KEILAR: Hybrid minivan?

HOLMES: Thank you so much.

You can join Rick Sanchez for a CNN special on the gasoline crunch. It's called "4 Bucks! What's Next?" And it comes with this ominous music. "America's Fuel Nightmare" airs at 8 p.m. Eastern Saturday and Sunday nights. And that's right here on CNN. KEILAR: I'm sorry that I cackled when you...

HOLMES: You should.

KEILAR: ... he suggested that you drove a minivan.

HOLMES: A lot of people do.

KEILAR: Well, the winds are picking up. The storm blows ashore. Experts warn that we are in for quite a hurricane season this year. But you know, a lot of people on the Atlantic coast, they really don't seem to be listening.

Here's CNN's John Zarrella.


JOHN ZARRELLA, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Neil Rubin is getting a new garage door installed at his home.

NEIL RUBIN, HOMEOWNER: This one is supposed to withstand, I think, 150 miles an hour, in that area, which is a lot better than I had. And since I have the accordion shutters, why have a weak spot on your house?

ZARRELLA: and the garage door is considered the weakest spot in a home.

JACK TROUT, ELECTRONIC DOOR LIFE: You lose the garage, you lose the roof, you lose the contents of the house. Everything is gone.

ZARRELLA: But a new Mason Dixon poll conducted for the National Hurricane Survival Initiative found a staggering 95 percent of the 1,100 adults questioned didn't know this. And 30 percent said they would not start preparing their homes until a hurricane warning is issued.

CHUCK LANZA, BROWARD COUNTY EMERGENCY MANAGEMENT: All the water is gone from the stores in 24 hours. The plywood's gone from all the larger stores. People need to make those plans early in the season.

ZARRELLA: The survey found bad habits resurfacing that exhibited before the devastating wakeup-call season of 2005: Katrina, Rita, and Wilma. An astounding 50 percent said they had no disaster plans or survival kits. Why the complacency?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Because we've been through it so many times that, you know, most of the time it doesn't hit.

ZARRELLA: Emergency managers say, while many people may not be prepared for the long aftermath, they do, in most cases, enough to survive a storm.

LANZA: People still at the last minute usually will make the right decision. The problem is that they don't have a plan in place and they haven't bought the supplies they needed. ZARRELLA: And this may not surprise you. The high price of gas is compounding the under preparedness problem. That's because people aren't buying the supplies they need, because they're spending so much money to fill up their gas tank.

(on camera) Another number coming out of the survey that you should just shake your head over: 85 percent of the people polled said they had no intention of doing anything to strengthen their home against a hurricane.

John Zarrella, CNN, at the National Hurricane Center in Miami.


KEILAR: A short time ago, Florida's emergency officials repeated how important it is to be prepared. And that doesn't mean simply boarding up and stocking up.


CRAIG FUGATE, DIRECTOR, FLORIDA EMERGENCY MANAGEMENT: Go learn CPR, take a first aid class. The life you save may be a family member. It may be a total stranger.

And after disaster strikes and you and your family are OK, do one more thing. Check on a neighbor. Because you may be their rescuer. In the minutes and hours after any disaster, each of us helping each other out gives us the best chance of survival.


KEILAR: All good tips for people in the hurricane zone. And the director of the National Hurricane Center points out that hurricanes don't always follow the path that experts project. We certainly know that, right? So everyone who lives anywhere near the Atlantic coast and the Gulf Coast should be prepared.

HOLMES: Houston, we have a problem with the plumbing. There's some stuff you just do not want floating around in zero gravity in space. Our space correspondent, Miles O'Brien, has the latest when we come back.


HOLMES: All right. We've been talking here at CNN for a while now. We all know that the economy is issue No. 1. But the space station right now, the issue is No. 2.

Because when your toilet konks out you can always go to the hardware store. But when you're on the space station, you've got a problem. You've got to improvise a bit.

Our space guru is going to be around with details here in the next hour. But relief for the crew is on the way. A special pump has been put aboard the Shuttle Discovery set to go up on Saturday, a launch you can see right here on CNN, weather permitting. But it's carrying precious cargo, including a pump that will help give some relief to those astronauts on the space station.

But again, Miles O'Brien will be along and, hopefully, we won't use the sound of the toilet flushing too much.

KEILAR: That is gratuitous toilet flushing.

HOLMES: You like that? That's a bit much.

KEILAR: Yes. It's a great story, proving that potty talk is not just for 5-year-olds, I think.

HOLMES: It's not. Because you have really enjoyed this story today, a little more so than I think you should.

KEILAR: What do you mean? I have not.

OK. We'll get more on that in a second. But you know, there are some new numbers out on the state of the world's largest economy. It continues to grow but at a snail's pace. Susan Lisovicz on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange to explain this to us.

Hi, Susan.


And we'll talk about relief in a financial sense, because the numbers were not as bad as expected. GDP is the mother of all economic reports. It measures all goods and services. So it's very important to get a sense of where the economy is going.

Well, it grew .9 percent. That's not exactly robust for the world's biggest economy, but it's actually better than the initial estimates.

Where did the "strength," quote unquote, come from? It came from our exports, because our dollar is so cheap. It makes our goods attractive overseas.

And the fact that the GDP came in a little better than expected and the fact that oil is down $4, and the fact that the dollar is surging today, is translating into a nice relief rally.

Let's take a look at the big board. The blue chips right now up 113 points. The NASDAQ is up 28. And just let me repeat that. Oil is down $4, even though gas is at a 22nd record high, Brianna.

KEILAR: OK. That doesn't make sense to me. But anyways. So let's talk about another new numbers on housing and consumer spending. So what are we seeing there, Susan?

LISOVICZ: What we see is the weakness. And I think that that's going to be something that we'll certainly see in this quarter, as well, if not even worse.

In terms of housing, we saw builders cut spending on housing projects by 25 percent. And that is the biggest decline in 27 years. Consumer spending, meanwhile, which is the engine of economic growth, grew only 1 percent, which is the slowest since the last recession in 2001.

Businesses also cut back. And you are seeing, you know, all sorts of anecdotal evidence of consumers pulling back. Just today we got the profits -- quarterly profits from the parent company of Sears and K-Mart. And you did see the softer side of Sears. The company reported a quarterly loss, said that its home appliances, lawn care and clothing sales were all weak.

On the other hand, where are people going when they do have extra money after pumping some gas? Well, they go to the warehouse clubs like Costco, which reported a 32 percent jump in quarterly profits.

And by the way, the reason the disconnect with the drop in oil prices, Brianna, and the rise -- the 22nd consecutive record price for gas is there's just a trickle down. There's a lag. You know, it's going to keep going. And oil, by the way, is still pretty high at $127 a barrel.

In the next hour we're going to be talking about our carbon footprint and the greenest cities in the U.S. There's some interesting, interesting details in that. Some surprises in the study on America's carbon footprint. We'll have that in the next hour -- Brianna.

KEILAR: Any hints as to where they're located?

LISOVICZ: Yes. You're on the right -- you're on the coast. On the coast. Going to be a hint.

KEILAR: Interesting to see. OK, Susan. We will check in with you in a little bit to get that information.

And meantime, it is 29 after the hour. Here are a few of the stories that we're working on in the CNN NEWSROOM.

A helicopter crashed while it was trying to take off from the roof of a Grand Rapids, Michigan, hospital this morning. It injured the pilot and a passenger. There was a brief but smoky fire. And some patients were moved to other parts of the building.

Days after pirates hijacked a Dutch-owned ship in the Gulf of Aden, two more ships have been hijacked in about the same area. Piracy is rampant along Africa's Somali coast, where more than two dozen ships have been seized just this year.

Two big court victories today for the makers of Vioxx. The appeals courts in New Jersey, as well as Texas have thrown out multimillion dollar verdicts against Merck and company. The drugmaker stopped making Vioxx in 2004 after its own research found that the painkiller doubled the risk of heart attacks or strokes.

LEMON: Well, the Iraq war has become a bit of a political hot potato this election year. John McCain and Barack Obama now going back and forth on this issue. We've got the latest in their war of words.


HOLMES: Hello, everyone. I'm T.J. Holmes, live at the CNN world headquarters in Atlanta, Georgia.

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

LEMON: Well, Barack Obama opposed the war in Iraq before it started. He has ever since. But he may be heading back to Iraq. Obama's campaign says the Democratic front-runner is considering a visit before the November elections. Republican John McCain, who supports the war and the troop surge, has blasted Obama for not visiting Iraq in more than two years and for turning down McCain's offer of a joint visit.


SEN. JOHN MCCAIN (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Glad to hear that Senator Obama is now, quote, "considering" a trip to Iraq. It's long overdue. It's been 871 days since he was there. Senator Obama was driven to his position by ideology, and not by the facts on the ground. And he does not have the knowledge or experience to make the judgments.


LEMON: Well, McCain has been to Iraq several times. Around as many as eight times he made trips there. But do VIPs on an orchestrated tour really get the fully story?

Well, joining us now CNN's Kyra Phillips in New York and Michael Ware in Baghdad. Both of them have gotten the full story. They're familiar with the true picture on the ground there in Iraq. Thank you both for being here.

Michael, I will start with you. Given how the VIPs are treated, given the security they have, given the limited areas they can go because of safety reasons, how true of a picture can a VIP, can a senator, can congressional delegations really get there in Iraq?

MICHAEL WARE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, in many ways, T.J., it's four words -- dog and pony show. I mean, you've got to give anyone credit who comes here at least trying to get the smell, the touch, the feel of this place. But you need to understand, as a visiting U.S. official, or even as a senior U.S. commander or embassy staffer, you are getting a very, very filtered version of the reality. The Green Zone and American bases are far divorced from life on the Iraqi streets.

And as genuine as U.S. commanders like to be with visiting delegations or anyone who is inquiring, they themselves don't always have a handle on what's going on.

Remember, we've had officials in this -- visiting this country before told that the insurgency is in its death throes. The American mission is turning how many corners, that there is no civil war or that you could walk the streets of Baghdad. All of which have since proven to be false -- T.J.

HOLMES: Well, Kyra, I will turn to you now. And given the dog and pony show, as Michael there just describes, and I'm sure you can attest to as well, but can still something be learned? Because when you're over there you talk to people on the ground, who are in some of those tougher places. So can you gain an education in that way, at least talking to Iraqi soldiers, U.S. soldiers and Iraqi citizens on the ground?

KYRA PHILLIPS, CNN ANCHOR: Michael hit it right on the head. You know, these politicians, for the most part, they zip in for a couple of days. They have a security entourage that's, you know, bigger than the president, and they are shown certain things. They cruise through the marketplace, and that's about it.

What these politicians have to do is, No. 1, sit down with the Iraqi people. Go into these hawashans (ph), these abandoned warehouses where these middle-class Iraqis have had to move because al Qaeda is forcing them out of their neighborhoods, taking over their homes, taking over their goods inside their homes. And now they're living like homeless people. Sit down and spend some time with those folks, hear what they have to say.

And the Iraqi soldiers, this was amazing to me. So many of these politicians, they go, they meet with U.S. troops. But U.S. troops are under the command of certain captains, and generals and admirals. And you know how it goes. They have public affairs officials. They can only say certain things. But when I sat down with Iraqi soldiers, it was totally uncensored. There was nobody there standing over their shoulders saying, OK, you can say this and you can't say this. Take a listen of what some of the soldiers told me when I was there.


PHILLIPS: If you could sit down with Obama what would you tell him you need from him?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translator): I would ask him to pay attention to the Middle East, and the Iranian and American conflict that's happening on Iraqi land. Our young people don't have simple things like a job, electricity. We have oil, and we are poor and jobless. We want new companies to trust Iraq and invest in Iraq. We want jobs for our young people so they don't join these terrorists.


PHILLIPS: That's the voice of the people. These are the men and women who are on the frontline suffering, and those are the people that the politicians need to be talking to -- T.J.

HOLMES: And, Michael, back to you here, and one of the criticisms we've been hearing over here about Barack Obama, at least from Senator McCain, is that he hasn't been there, Obama, hasn't been there since '06. That was before the surge. If he would go now and see how things were after the surge, then possibly he'd have a different view. Do you believe that is possible, that if Obama went now as opposed to when he was there in '06, he would see something differently, or like you said, it'd still be the same old dog and pony show?

WARE: Well, it's still going to be, you know, a very sterilized kind of visit. But I mean, let's look at it from a different perspective. As you said yourself, T.J., what, Senator McCain has been here something like eight times. And Senator McCain gets it glaringly wrong quite often as well. However, at least you may get a much more of a bracing sense of what's happening on the ground.

And where the advantage would be, would be those off-the-cuff conversations. If indeed you could find U.S. or officials or soldiers who they bump into and have a casual conversation. If there can be a frank, just for one frank moment, as rare as that might be, could make the whole trip worthwhile. You certainly can't rely on the Iraqi officials, because they're going to tell the Americans just what this he think the Americans want to hear.

HOLMES: All right, and, Kyra, last thing to you here quickly. We see these trips. How do the, I guess, Iraqi soldiers, Iraqi citizens, as well as the American soldiers, view these trips by VIPs? As you all have said, they dip in and dip out for a couple of days. Do they see people coming over to really help, or see that they're coming over really to get in front of cameras?

PHILLIPS: Well, you know what the soldiers think? The soldiers think, OK, who is this American coming into town with all this protection and all this security, that's taking away from the streets that I'm supposed to be here protecting?

So it's frustrating for them. And very rarely do they get face time. I mean, Michael is so right. You could call up Prime Minister Nuri al-Malaki, on a conference call and probably get the same type of conversation you would get if you met with him there in the green zone. They've got to show up unannounced and they've got to meet with the people that are living this and fighting this war every single day. Losing their lives, losing their loved ones, losing their homes and losing part of their life every day.

HOLMES: Well, this back and forth, we -- no doubt will continue between McCain and Obama. We'll see if Obama does head over to Iraq. But we know he's not going to go with Senator John McCain.

Kyra Phillips, for us in New York. Also Michael Ware.

We appreciate you both. Appreciate both the expertise you all can offer on this subject.

Thanks so much, guys.

KEILAR: Well, leading our political ticker, Barack Obama's call to battle. The Democratic front-runner says the general election battle will start after Tuesday's final two primaries, that of course, Montana and South Dakota. And by the way, Obama says he believes he will be the nominee. Right now according to our estimate, he needs 48 delegates to clinch the nomination. 86 delegates are at stake in the final three primaries and almost 200 super delegates are still undeclared.

Nancy Pelosi says she won't let the fight over Florida and Michigan delegates drag on much longer. Hillary Clinton has said that she's prepared to take the fight to the party's August convention. But the House speaker tells "The San Francisco Chronicle," she'll step in to keep that from happening. Pelosi says for party unity, the nomination race must be resolved by the end of next month.

And one of Clinton's biggest backers, Pennsylvania Governor Ed Rendell, says it's unlikely she will win the nomination. But he still thinks she would do better than Obama in the swing states. Rendell tells Bloomberg Television, he is a realist. And it's most likely super delegates will give Obama the votes that he needs.

We've got all the latest campaign news at your fingertips. Just go to We also have analysis there from the best political team on television. Again,

HOLMES: Grandma on drugs? She's actually not alone. The growing problem of over medicated seniors. That's in today's empowered --


COLLINS: Prescription drugs -- they can have dangerous, even deadly interactions. You know that. But the problem can be worse for older people who generally take more medications and in some cases too many.

CNN medical correspondent, Elizabeth Cohen, has more on how to avoid drug dangers by becoming, of course Elizabeth, an empowered patient.

What do you have for us?

ELIZABETH COHEN, CNN MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: Brianna, this is so interesting. Because so many times when an older person becomes forgetful or becomes dizzy, people think oh, she's just getting old. Many times that is not the reason.

Here is one family's story.


COHEN (voice-over): Nancy Burns is 71 and lives on her own. She says she's doing great. But that's today. A few years ago, out of nowhere, she started acting strangely.

NANCY BURNS, HAD NEGATIVE DRUG INTERACTIONS: I was slurring my speech, I was running into walls.

COHEN: And leaving odd voice mails for her daughter, Kelli Phillips. KELLI PHILLIPS, DAUGHTER OF NANCY BURNS: I had four or five messages from my mother wanting to know what day it was, what -- if it was morning or nighttime.

COHEN: Phillips helped rush her more to the emergency room where a neurologist diagnosed Alzheimer's disease. Devastated, Kelli and her brother got a second opinion from a geriatrician. The geriatrician informed them, it wasn't Alzheimer's at all. Instead, Nancy's medications were causing all the problems.

PHILLIPS: My brother and I looked at each other and it was like, we knew it. We knew it was something to do with all the medication that she was on.

COHEN: At the time, Nancy, was taking eight different prescription drugs, many of which don't mix well.

(on camera): Of course only a doctor can make medication decisions. But there is something you can do to be an empowered patient.

Take a look at this web site. You can type in the names of the drugs that you're taking and the site lets you know if the combination of drugs can make you sick. Nancy Burns talked with her doctors and over time they found four drugs that could treat her health issues and not cause her any problems.


Now if you want to know that web site that I was on that helps you check out drug interactions, go to and you'll see a link right to that site -- Brianna.

KEILAR: Good information. And Elizabeth, you know, this problem -- it's gotten worse over the years. Why is that?

COHEN: Well, there are several reasons. But one is that we now live in an era of specialists. You go to someone for your knee, someone for your heart. Some older people go to three or four different doctors.

Those doctors sometimes prescribe drugs without talking to one another. So, nobody knows everything that an older person is on. So what you have to do is get one doctor to check all your medications and give a thorough review.

KEILAR: And what about talking to that doctor though, or whatever doctor you have, and having a list of all your medications?

Is it just better to have a doctor who keeps track of all of it?

COHEN: Right. You should really pick one doctor to be what they call the captain of the ship. And you could also pick a pharmacist, as well, in addition. You want them to go over everything you are taking, dosages, how often, how many times per day. Someone needs to know everything. The information can't be scattered. KEILAR: OK. And also Elizabeth, thank you so much. I know there's a lot more information online on your site about this specifically talking about problems that can be caused by over medication as well.

For more information to make you an empowered patient, you can go to and follow the empowered patient icon. This is news of course, that you can live with.

HOLMES: All right, we want to turn to what is happening live right now. There she is, Senator Hillary Clinton, Democratic candidate for president. Right now, speaking in Huron, South Dakota ahead of that state's primary coming up on Tuesday.

Let's take a listen in.

SEN. HILLARY CLINTON (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: ... and so I want you to ask yourselves, what are the kinds of changes you want to see actually delivered? Because that's what it's going to come down to. We're going to inaugurate a new president next January 20, 2009. And then that new president is going to walk into the White House and there is going to be just a pile of problems. Now we know a lot of them. We know we've got to get the economy going, we've got to get back to fiscal responsibility. We have to deal with health care, education, energy, all of that. And we sure know we've got a lot to do around the world.

But we don't know all the problems that the next president is going to face. There's no way to predict it. We just can't sitting here say, well, we know there is going to be a natural disaster as big as Katrina again. We can't know that. Or we know that some other problem is going to break out somewhere else in the world. So we're electing somebody not only because of the solutions that are being offered by that person, but because we can count on that person to understand what it's going to take to make those tough decisions.

I'm offering a lifetime of experience on both ends of Pennsylvania avenue. I think I have a pretty good idea how hard the job of being president is. I have no illusions about it. I know that it's the toughest job in the world. But I believe that I am prepared for it and ready to serve. And I know that...


...there is no way that we can be successful as a nation unless our next president enlists all of us to serve in some way. There's more than enough work to be done. That's what I am going to ask our country to understand and to enlist with me to achieve.

When I think about the problems we face, No. 1, we've got to get this economy working for everybody again. It was working in the 1990s. We saw the creation of more than 22 million new jobs. A typical family's income across America went up $7,000. More people were lifted out of poverty than at any time in our recent history. And as Irv said, we ended up with a balanced budget and a surplus. And so... (APPLAUSE)

... I figure if we did it once, we can do it again with the right leadership, with the right understanding of the economy and a determination to make it happen.

I sometimes hear my opponents on others criticize the 1990s during this campaign. And well, I'm the last to tell you anything other than the fact that you get criticized a lot when you run for office. I know that. And it's part of what happens when you are in the political process. But when somebody criticizes the 1990s, I'm always asking myself, what didn't they like? The peace or the prosperity? Because what was happening there put us on a strong foundation to be in charge of our destiny going forward.


Look at what has happened. Well, here we are. President Bush took that balanced budget and surplus that he inherited. It's gone. We're back into huge deficits and we now have a $9 trillion debt.

HOLMES: Listening in to Hillary Clinton, hitting on familiar themes there in South Dakota ahead of that state's primary that's coming up on Tuesday along with Montana. There at a rally in Huron, South Dakota. We'll continue to monitor that and bring you any new information we possibly get out of that we want to bring along to you.

Also we want to continue to update you on a story we are watching out of Grand Rapids, Michigan, today. A helicopter crashed on top of a hospital. We're actually getting in some i-Reports. We'll share those with you.


KEILAR: It's science, it's the future, it's monkeys. And this is serious business, people.

Laboratory monkeys with little electrodes implanted in their brains are feeding themselves with a robotic arm. It's operated by mind control. We're serious here. This is prosthetic research at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine, reported today in the journal "Nature." And if monkeys can do it, maybe some day paralyzed people can do it. That is the goal here. And the lead researcher says he expects experiments on humans within two years.

HOLMES: The Democratic parties, Florida and Michigan problem. We could know soon how this will all be settled. And today Florida democrats are speaking out about it.

We'll go live to Miami, to find out what they are saying.