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McCain Gives Speech on the Economy; American Airlines Rolls Back Fare Increase; Clint Eastwood and Spike Lee Sound Off Over Race in Film

Aired June 10, 2008 - 10:00   ET


SEN. JOHN MCCAIN (R-AZ), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: That's exactly what I will do as president with any bill that serves only the special interests and corporate welfare. You have my commitment to it. I have fought for years. And I am proud never to have sought or obtain an earmark for my state of Arizona and my state of Arizona is proud of me for it and I'm grateful for that.

MCCAIN: On my watch, there will be no more subsidies for special pleaders, no more corporate welfare, no more throwing around billions of dollars of the people's money on pet projects while the people themselves struggling to afford their homes, groceries, and gas.

We are going to get our priorities straight in Washington, a clean break. A clean break from years of squandered wealth and wasted chances. To control spending I will order a thorough review of the budgets of every single federal program, department, and agency, and I will post the results of those reviews on the Internet, for every single American to see.


MCCAIN: While that review is under way, we will institute a one- year pause in discretionary spending increases with the necessary exemption of military spending and veterans' benefits. Discretionary spending is a term people throw around a lot in Washington while actual discretion is seldom, if ever, exercised.


MCCAIN: Instead, every program comes with a built-in assumption that it should go on forever and its budget increased forever. My administration will change that way of thinking. We will ensure that federal spending serves the common interest, that failed programs are not rewarded but reinvented or ended, and that discretionary spending is going where it belongs, to essential priorities like job training, the security of our citizens, and care of our veterans.

These are among the many issues at stake in this election. All of these challenges and more will face the next president of the United States and I will not leave them for some unluckier generation of leaders to deal with.

For too long, for too long, government has been more interested in protecting its budgets and its interests rather than the interests of small businesses and the family budget that depend on your growth.

And partisanship in Washington is less focused on your future than it is on the next election. My goal, my goal, however, is not to denigrate government, to make it better. Not to deride it, but to restore its good name.

Government should be on your side, not in your way. It will be hard work but it is a cause worthy of our best efforts. And if we do it well in the right spirit, it will be because we have, again, put our country's interests before the interests of parties, bureaucracies, and self-interest. Then we will finally reclaim the confidence of the people we are so honored is on serve.

Thank you and God bless.


HEIDI COLLINS, CNN ANCHOR: Senator John McCain there in Washington, D.C., laying out his economic plan. (INAUDIBLE) and so there you have it. Talking about a variety of different things, specifically how much government involvement there will be in the nation's economy with regard to tax cuts and so forth. And talking a little bit about health care and earmarks and all types of different things. So we will be hearing a lot more from him and his opponent, Barack Obama, who is on a two-week economic tour across the country. Once again, John McCain giving his economic plan out of Washington, D.C., this morning.

And good morning once again to you, everybody. I'm Heidi Collins.

TONY HARRIS, CNN ANCHOR: And I'm Tony Harris. You will stay informed all day in the CNN NEWSROOM. Here's what's on the rundown: dreams washed away when an embankment gives way, flooding woes in Wisconsin and other Midwestern states.

COLLINS: Competition for passengers trumps price hike. American Airlines rolls back a fare increase just three days after adding it.

HARRIS: And directors with their verbal daggers. Clint Eastwood and Spike Lee sound off over race in film. Today, Tuesday, June 10th. You are in the CNN NEWSROOM.

So let's take a moment and dig a little deeper into John McCain's economic speech. Joining me is Jeanne Cummings, the chief money correspondent for Politico.

Jeanne, good to see you again.


HARRIS: So, Jean, I'm an independent voter and squarely in the middle class, $35,000 to $50,000 a year with two kids. I am a one- issue voter, and my issue is the economy. If I'm thinking about voting for John McCain, what am I hearing in his economic plan that appeals to me?

CUMMINGS: Well, that -- part of the problem is McCain's economic plan does not speak very clearly to those people. He has a lot of credibility when he talks about ending corporate corruption. He has a lot of credibility on earmarks. But what does that really say to the family at home?

The one thing he left out of his speech was his proposal to lift the gas tax this summer, which was directed at those kinds of people. And I thought it interesting that he did not bring that up since it is a big point of contention between he and Obama. And it does speak directly to those people.

HARRIS: OK. Well, let me follow up. You mentioned the gas tax. Let me stay, generally speaking, in the taxes area, it sounds like the real appeal of either of these plans is somewhere in the tax policies. What's the major difference in the way both of these men would address tax policies in the country?

CUMMINGS: Well, that is exactly where I think the economic fight will come down to. John McCain has changed his position and now says that he would support extending and making permanent the tax cuts passed by George Bush.

Barack Obama would keep those that affect the middle class permanent but he would lift and re-impose taxes on the wealthy. For Barack Obama, this is a challenge because it is a complicated message to deliver and an easy one to attack.

And I thought John McCain had a very good line in his speech today talking about how Barack Obama would impose the biggest tax hike since World War II. We will hear that line again and again and again.

HARRIS: Explain that line for us. What does John McCain mean precisely when he criticizes Barack Obama in that way?

CUMMINGS: When you lift the -- when you re-impose taxes on the nation's most wealthy and you look at the growth of our economy and the growth of our wealthy class, it is a very large tax.

But Barack Obama argues you need to make them pay more so that we can redistribute wealth in the country, that the gap -- the wealth gap between the working class families and CEOs has gotten much too large and unjust.

And so he wants to refigure the tax system so that working class families get more breaks. It is a complicated argument to make on the campaign stump. But it does speak directly to that middle class family.

HARRIS: Well, it is a complicated argument. The economy for a lot of folks is pretty complicated. We all understand our personal economies. But, Jeanne, as we roll through this general campaign, we are going to have you back often to help us get to the nuts and bolts of these plans because, as we all know at this point, it is "ISSUE #1." Jeanne, good to see you again.

CUMMINGS: Thank you, Tony.

HARRIS: Thanks.

COLLINS: An awful lot going on today. So quickly want to get back over to the Severe Weather Center. Rob Marciano standing by.

Rob, I understand you are hearing about a tornado.

ROB MARCIANO, CNN METEOROLOGIST: Well, we have got a water spout that we have been watching come into the CNN NEWSROOM here. Pretty dramatic pictures. And let's take them, let's take them right off router (ph) 42 (ph). These are live pictures. One of our affiliate helicopters, WPLG out of Miami flying over Hollywood, Florida and capturing these images really for the past 15 or so minutes of a water spout that has dropped down into the Atlantic Ocean and hopefully it will pan out and show you that on demand. There you go.

This is the coolest spot, when he zooms in to this where this thing touches the water. He's going to adjust his iris here. And you can see the counterclockwise circulation, just water spraying as that tornado basically over water continues to spin off the coast of Hollywood and Fort Lauderdale, Florida.

Now it looks a lot cleaner than a tornado over ground because obviously you don't have any dirt, it's just clean ocean water. And typically they're a little bit smaller, the circulation not as deep. So we will show you those from time to time until it goes away.

Meanwhile, here is the radar scope over Florida. Just some hit and miss showers. We're now getting finally into the rainy season and a couple of showers that could produce little water spouts there east of the beach.

More dramatic potentially later on today is this watch box that has just been issued by the storms prediction center for Upstate New York and a good chunk of the Northeast there. And this is in effect until 6:00 p.m. tonight for the potential of seeing tornadoes developing.

You can already see this line of thunderstorms plowing right now through Rochester, about to hit Syracuse and Ithaca. And that may be enhanced by, guess what, some big-time heat.

All right. This is going to go back -- let's go back to router 42. I hate to direct the show from here but you can really see the circulation here. The outer core, the outer circulation, and that inner core, man, that's amazing. Live water spout over eastern parts of Florida, just off the coast of Hollywood and Fort Lauderdale, WPLG, giving us these amazing pictures.

COLLINS: It looks fake.

MARCIANO: It does, doesn't it? COLLINS: Looks completely fake.

MARCIANO: It does look fake. Good stuff.

COLLINS: But we should be clear -- and you were very clear. But I may not have been. We are looking at live pictures of a water spout. But right prior to that, you had mentioned this tornado watch.

MARCIANO: Tornado watch. And there has not even been a tornado warning issued for this. Probably because it is not over land and not expected to come over land. So that's the good news. The tornado watch, meaning conditions are ripe for tornadoes to develop, that is in effect for a good chunk of the Northeast, just north of New York City into Upstate New York. And that's until 6:00 tonight.

And a lot of this has to do with the record heat that the Northeast and much of the East Coast has been enduring for the past couple of days. And that's just adding fuel to the fire as far as temperatures go.


HARRIS: Your money, your concerns. We're keeping close eye on new developments squeezing your wallet this morning. Gas prices set yet another record. The national average more than $4.04 a gallon. Record prices mean record profits for oil companies and some Democrats want a slice of that windfall.

Next hour, the Senate is expected to vote on a new tax against the nation's five largest oil companies. They will also consider rescinding $17 billion in tax breaks.

Less doom and gloom from the top economic policy-maker in the United States. Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke said the risk of a substantial downturn in the economy has faded.


COLLINS: Record oil prices, could there be a glimmer of relief on the horizon? Boy, that would be nice. Saudi Arabia now says prices are unjustifiably high. That alone is pretty significant. But more important, the Saudis are calling for a meeting between oil producers and oil consumers like the United States. The Saudis want to discuss soaring prices and whether oil production needs to be increased. The kingdom says it is willing to pump more oil if needed. OPEC says it will make no decision on production before its next scheduled meeting and that is in September.

HARRIS: Tough talk on Iran this morning from President Bush. He is at a summit in Slovenia, meeting with counterparts from the European Union. President Bush pressed them to take tougher stands on Iran's nuclear program, including new financial sanctions.


GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: A group of countries can send a clear message to the Iranians. And that is we are going to continue to isolate you. We will continue to work on sanctions. We will find new sanctions if need be if you continue to deny the just demands of a free world which is to give up your enrichment program.


HARRIS: And President Bush is also pushing European Union members for more support on Afghanistan. Next stop for the president, Berlin, for what the president is calling his last trip to Europe.

COLLINS: Quickly, we want to show you some of these amazing pictures that we are going to get back. Look at this. Live pictures we've been talking about with Rob out of Hollywood, Florida. This is a water spout. Pretty interesting because we haven't seen something like this live on our air before, not that I can recall.

So again, that's a water spout, obviously, over the water, not something that looks to be developing into a tornado that could get close to land or anything. But we like the pictures and want to show them to you again. Rob does have a tornado watch, considerably north of the Hollywood, Florida, area. So he is watching all of that.

And we are watching another story here. Food fears, people sick in 16 states because of these, tomatoes, taken off shelves and menus now all across the country.


COLLINS: So I came over to the weather center because this thing is so cool, is basically the only reason why I came over here. Rob is going to explain a little bit more about exactly this is. Not a tornado. Because when you first look at it, people are like wow, that's a tornado captured live on the air. Not so much...


MARCIANO: Well, it is a tornado over water. It is a water spout. And these are -- this is still live, right, guys? This is still live just off the coast of Hollywood, Florida. And forgive me, the camera operator -- WPLG, our affiliate there, has to adjust the iris when he zooms in to the circulation, it goes up and down.

Dark cloud, obviously. And then the vortex, which makes its way all the way down to the water, and the reason it looks so much different than a tornado or a kind of mini tornado, I want to -- first of all they are small typically.

COLLINS: Yes. Looks very narrow.


MARCIANO: ... the reason it does not look so wide and so cluttered is because when the tornado over the earth, it picks up a lot of garbage.


MARCIANO: So this is just picking up water. And so you get to really see that vivid, very outlined nature of this vortex...


COLLINS: Is the rotation the same as a tornado?


MARCIANO: Yes, typically, 90, 95 percent of tornadoes are -- roll counterclockwise. You know, every once in a while a cold core one will roll the other way. But this one off the coast of Florida. And the reason that they are not so as big as the monster ones we see out West is these are not typically huge super cell thunderstorms. They are not as high. The circulations aren't quite as deep.

So they -- you know, in an ideal world they stay offshore, and they don't do a whole lot of damage. But once in a while they come onshore and they have done that it in Miami, they have done it in other parts of the U.S., including California. So this definitely bears watching.

Does not look like it is moving anywhere...


COLLINS: Tell us what causes it one more time and how long it can stay like this, I mean, could this just go for hours?

MARCIANO: I'm just amazed at how long this has lasted. A thunderstorm basically causes it. A lot of times you don't need a super cell because especially close to land you have got winds that are -- interact with the land. You've got winds coming in from different angles, at different elevations and often that's all you need to get a little circulation going.

COLLINS: Wow, all right.

MARCIANO: Cool stuff, huh?

COLLINS: Well, thank you. And we are going the keep -- it looks like it is kind of breaking up, up top. Well, we are going the keep our eye on it because it is pretty interesting (INAUDIBLE) to have this live. So we will come back over...


MARCIANO: Thanks for coming to visit.


MARCIANO: I guess that's what it takes, is a live tornado on the air to get Heidi Collins over in the weather center.

(LAUGHTER) COLLINS: That's not true. Save me, Tony.

HARRIS: All right. OK. Moving forward, all right. In a time of skyrocketing gas prices (INAUDIBLE) a vehicle runs on pedal power.



MICHAEL PAGLIA, SON: And his idea of fun is driving past the gas stations, going, hi, you suckers.



HARRIS: Saving money while losing weight. And more on the water spout at



COLLINS: You pull up to the gas pump, wince at the ever-climbing prices and ask yourself a question, do I have a choice? Well, the answer is yes. And you are about to see some of the alternatives.

Details now from reporter Damany Lewis of CNN affiliate KCRA in Sacramento, California.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Electric start. Keys in ignition.

DAMANY LEWIS, KCRA REPORTER (voice-over): It is the first thing you see inside of Lodi Motorsports (ph).

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Who wants to keep paying at the pump?

LEWIS: And it's the first thing sold. Forget about fancy motorcycles. We are talking about 123 miles to the gallon scooters.

(on camera): Why are these things so popular now?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Been to the pump lately?

LEWIS (voice-over): Salesman Thomas Rill (ph) says as fast as they come in, they go out.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Put your foot on the break, just press the button.

LEWIS: That's something Gibaki (ph) Toyota general manager John Wall knows all about, hybrids on his dealership lot are as rare as cheap gas prices.

JOHN WALL, TOYOTA DEALER: They are selling as they come off the truck or before.

K. PAGLIA: All right. Shift the gears.

LEWIS: Still looking to sport four wheels and save money on gas, look no further than Kevin Paglia.

K. PAGLIA: I get 30 miles to a cheeseburger.

LEWIS: This four-wheel, four-seat contraption is called "The Roadie (ph)," and to Paglia, it is his gas-saving grace.

K. PAGLIA: This is the fun way.

M. PAGLIA: And his idea of fun is driving by the gas station, going, hi, you suckers.


LEWIS: With his son and co-pilot Michael at his side, Paglia says in one month he has driven more than 100 miles, saved more than $100, and oh, yes, lost 12 pounds, making "The Roadie" the new king of the road.

K. PAGLIA: The only places I won't go in are the places I don't want to show up sweaty. So I won't go to church, I won't go on dates on it.


COLLINS: Probably a good idea. But fair warning, these alternatives are not cheap. That four-wheel bike you just saw goes for about $3,000, the scooters, $2,000 or more, and the hybrids, plan to shell out more than $20,000.

HARRIS: You know what, Heidi, explain -- Michael, can we get back to the big little for just a second? Now you have spent some time with Rob, so you have an understanding of what...


COLLINS: Oh, yes.

HARRIS: So we've got the water spout.

COLLINS: A very clear understanding.

HARRIS: And then we have a boat near the water spout. Is that what is going on here? I saw a boat moments ago. Where is the boat now? And a sailboat? And the sailboat thankfully has moved away from the water spout. So this is what you are looking at off the coast of Florida -- Hollywood, Florida, right now. A water spout, we will get those more dramatic -- you can see the swirl there at the bottom. We will get to some of the more dramatic pictures. Maybe we will get a pullout here soon. But we will capture those pictures and just continue to show them to you. Here it is. Here is the sailboat. That close. You know, this is a tornado. This is a tornado out in the ocean right now. And the sailboat wanted to get as -- and the folks on the sailboat wanted to get as close a look at it as possible, I guess.

But we will continue to take a look at this. And it's just pretty dramatic stuff. And we will keep showing you the pictures. And you can go to if you want to watch it live.

But right now, you know the drill, don't you? Pull up to the gas pump and wince at the spinning numbers, yet another new record. Details in the NEWSROOM.


COLLINS: Good morning once again to you, everybody. I'm Heidi Collins. It's 10:30 a.m. Eastern Time.

HARRIS: And I'm Tony Harris. Welcome back to the CNN NEWSROOM, everyone.


COLLINS: Deadly and devastating floods in the Midwest. And the stifling heat Rob's been talking about along the East Coast. Extreme weather taking its toll again today. Rivers and lakes across the Midwest overflowing their banks, swamping towns and washing away homes. At least eight deaths are blamed on the storms that swept across that region. People along the East Coast looking for ways to beat the heat. More sweltering weather after record-breaking temperatures yesterday. Heat advisories are in effect from North Carolina to Massachusetts.

HARRIS: Oil and gas prices are moving in unison once again. And, unfortunately, both are moving higher. Will the price bubble ever burst? Good question. Glad I asked it.'s Poppy Harlow has our energy fix from New York. Poppy, good morning.


Well, some bad news out there for folks. Oil prices are climbing again this morning. Last check, just around $137 a barrel. AAA says new record high for gas. We're now just above $4.04 a gallon. And many people there are blaming Big Oil, including some Senate Democrats. One Democratic senator said profits need to be reined in, or in his words, quote, "we're going find ourselves in a deep recession." That's a scary thought.

A bill being offered today would rescind $17 billion in tax breaks for Big Oil companies oar the next decade. We are talking about Exxon, Chevron, Conoco Phillips (ph), some of the largest oil producers in the world. Now the money would instead be funneled into incentives for renewable energy, if the companies don't already do so themselves. The five largest U.S. oil companies have earned a whopping $36 billion in profit in just the first quarter of this year. But the bill is not expected to get enough votes to overcome a Republican filibuster.

Now Republicans say we can't tax our way out of the energy problem. Instead, they propose more exploration of parts of Alaska that has previously been off-limits -- Tony.

HARRIS: OK, so, Poppy, we've got a couple of plans. But the question is, would either plan lead to lower oil and pump prices?

HARLOW: Not right now. Both plans are very long term. They're looking at long-term solutions. They would not help news terms of what we are paying at the pump this month, or really anytime soon. The Democratic plan aims to shift more resources into renewal energy, something certainly, Tony, that will not happen overnight. The Republican plan to explore in Alaska will likely take about 10 years before you start seeing any of that oil pumped out of the ground.

The more immediate plan is to keep a better eye on the oil market, those futures markets. The CFTC it's their job to oversee the markets. And they'll hold a hearing this afternoon to try to figure out a better way to police the commodities market in terms of that futures trading.

Now some lawmakers are calling for more funding for the commission, so that it can essentially put more cops on the beat -- Tony.

HARRIS: So it's difficult to deal with this sinking feeling that we're stuck with higher oil prices, at least for now.

HARLOW: It's difficult, but it's really something that all Americans have to face. They have to prepare for it. They have to allot a little more money to fill up their cars, if they have to drive on a daily basis.

Now this is all despite a new report that forecasts a slowing of global demand. Now the International Energy Agency says that high prices will slow demand, particularly here in the U.S. this year.

But it says there are few signs of slowing demand in developing countries, places like China and India, and perhaps that's part of the reason we're seeing oil prices continue to climb. Even as Americans pull back, another factor that could affect the price of oil is the Federal Reserve. Now an increase in interest rates -- we've seen cuts for the past seven months or so -- that could help boost the dollar, which in turn could lower oil prices. Fed chairman Ben Bernanke said he sees the danger of a, quote, "substantial economic downturn subsiding."

Now, most believe that indicates the Fed will not cut rates further, at least not any time soon. But it's not great news out there right now, Tony. Again, as I said, to help people out there, try to put some more money aside because gas prices are likely going to continue to go up.

We're following it from every angle here on our Web site. Come check it out,

HARRIS: OK, Poppy, good to see you. Thank you.


COLLINS: A war of words over movies about war. Two of America's top directors get into it.


HARRIS: Illinois Senator Barack Obama, the presumptive presidential nominee, in St. Louis right now, at a press availability talking about John McCain's health care proposals and his -- generally speaking -- his economic proposals. Let's listen in.

SEN. BARACK OBAMA (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: ... the United States of America. So you're going to have a clear choice in November. You can choose a plan that could make our health care crisis worse, or you can choose to solve or health care crisis once and for all. It's time to stop saying that you are on your own to uninsured Americans and struggling families and small businesses. It's time to reclaim the idea that Kate, and the nurses and doctors and staff here at Barnes-Jewish live out each and every day. That we all have mutual obligations to one another. That's why I'm running for president for the United States.

With that, let me open it up to questions. Yes.


OBAMA: Yes. This is obviously a debate that we had during the primary season. My opposition to mandates is based on what I'm seeing as I'm traveling around the country. And that is that people are not without health insurance because they are trying to avoid getting health insurance. It's because they can't afford it. And it's my strong belief that if we set up a system in which everybody has access to health care at affordable rates and there are no exclusions for pre-existing conditions, if insurers are not in a position to cherry pick the healthiest, but rather, are taken on all comers. That the overwhelming majority of Americans are going to get health care. They want health care.

There may be some malingerers out there. Most of whom, by the way, who are very young and healthy. Who think that they're invulnerable and don't need health insurance. A large portion of that population, I'm looking to cover by allowing parents to keep their children on their health care plans until the age of 25. That would eliminate a huge segments of that population. And what I've said is, that we're going to evaluate whether there are in fact, any sizable parts of the population that are still not covered. But, what I think is a mistake is to set up a system in which, while we're still creating access and affordability for everybody, we start penalizing and fining those who don't have it. One of the things we're seeing in Massachusetts, where they have set this up, is that people are getting modest fines on top of still not having the will at all, to pay the premiums to buy health care. So they're actually worse off then they were before. And that's the situation that I'm looking to avoid -- yes.


HARRIS: Yes, Barack Obama, in St. Louis, talking about health care and some other economic issues. But on health care, one of the bullet points from -- of the Barack Obama health care proposal, is a mostly voluntary health care program that lowers premiums to $2500 for the average family. Contrast that with John McCain, earlier in Washington, D.C. John McCain saying, quoting here that he wants to "bring the rising costs of care under control and give people the option of having personal, portable health insurance." As president John McCain saying, quoting again, "We are going to offer every individual and family in America, a large tax credit to buy their health care."

So, just a couple of contrasting points on health care from the two candidates this morning. We will continue to follow both candidates throughout the day, right here in the NEWSROOM.


HARRIS: A director's cut. Spike Lee and Clint Eastwood trade jabs over war movies.

CNN's Brooke Anderson, reports.


BROOKE ANDERSON, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): He's known for tough talking.

CLINT EASTWOOD, ACTOR, DIRECTOR: Go ahead, make my day.

ANDERSON: He's known for hard hitting films.

DENZEL WASHINGTON, ACTOR: We didn't land on Plymouth Rock. Plymouth Rock landed on us.

ANDERSON: Now, Clint Eastwood and Spike Lee, two of America's most respected directors, have gone after each other in an escalating verbal battle. A guy like Spike should shut his face. And Clint, sounds like an angry old man, are just two of the barbs tossed at each other.

It all began at the Cannes Film Festival, where Lee, promoting his upcoming World War II film about black soldiers, criticized Eastwood's movies, "Letters from Iwo Jima" and "Flags of our Fathers," for failing to depict African-American soldiers.

Kirk Honeycutt, of the "Hollywood Reporter," believes the criticism is unfair. KIRK HONEYCUTT, CHIEF FILM CRITIC, THE "HOLLYWOOD REPORTER": One movie was about flying the flag at the top of Iwo Jima, "Flags of our Fathers." And those characters were all white, say for one Indian character who was cast that way. this was about people who were largely white. The second movie, "Letters from Iwo Jima," was about the Japanese army. And I don't think the Japanese army had any black soldiers in it.

ANDERSON: Eastwood, who after explaining the films were historically accurate, advised Lee to quote, "Shut his face." Lee then blasted Eastwood, through, hinting at racism, quote "The man is not my father and we're not on a plantation... He sounds like an angry old man."

Mark Sawyer, director of the Center for the Study of Race, Ethnicity and Politics at UCLA, asserts Lee's take on Eastwood's films, has merit.

MARK SAWYER, UCLA CTR. FOR RACE, ETHNICITY & POLITICS: It's a fair criticism in general, about films about World War II and American wars in general. Clint Eastwood's film was sort of bearing the burden of hundreds of films about World War II that have ignored the presence of African-American troops.

ANDERSON: Brooke Anderson, CNN, Hollywood.


COLLINS: Fearing for their lives. Human rights workers fleeing Zimbabwe, afraid of retribution from government leaders.


HARRIS: Washed away. You have probably seen the Wisconsin home, here it is, snapped in two and swept away by flooding. We will talk with the devastated homeowner.


COLLINS: Fleeing Zimbabwe. There are just over two weeks left before voting in the presidential runoff election there. But some opponents of the ruling government fear they won't live that long.

CNN's Nkepile Mabuse, has more.

NKEPILE MABUSE, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): These human rights lawyers from Zimbabwe have defended journalists, opposition party leaders and independent election monitors. Now, they are in South Africa, fleeing for their lives.

Andrew Makoni, represented the movement for democratic change in their failed bid to force the electoral commission to immediately publish presidential results after the March 29 election.

ANDREW MAKONI, ZIMBABWEAN HUMAN RIGHTS LAWYER: I got information from a very credible source that there were some security agents set up on me with instructions to assassinate me together with a whole list of other lawyers.

MABUSE: They believe because of their work, they have become targets of an intensifying campaign by Robert Mugabe's government to intimidate and silence opposing voices.

MAKONI: Five or so, of my clients were eliminated in the last four weeks. When those things are happening, you tend to realize that people are being assassinated.

MABUSE: Their fears are supported by New York based watchdog, Human Rights Watch, which says it has documented incidents of abductions, beatings and killings, allegedly by officials and supporters of Mugabe's party.

TISEKE KASAMBALA, HUMAN RIGHTS WATCH: Under the current circumstances where we are seeing over 3,000 people flee the provinces, over 2,000 victims over torture. And at least 36 killings perpetrated by the army and (INAUDIBLE), we do not believe that an election should be taking place.

MABUSE (on camera): According to human rights organizations, there has been an increase in the number of Zimbabweans who have fled their homes since the March 29 election. It's believed thousands have been internally displaced while an unknown number continues to flood into South Africa, an allied neighboring state.

(voice-over): But none of the atrocities documented by human rights groups are reported on state television in Zimbabwe. Instead, it is the MCD that is being blamed for the escalating violence in the country.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE ANNOUNCER: The opposition MDC has been condemned for perpetrating violence.

MABUSE: And Robert Mugabe hailed as a liberator and national hero.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE ANNOUNCER: Our candidates, comrade Robert Gabriel Mugabe.