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Boy Decapitated at Six Flags Theme Park; Letter Writer Claims Responsibility for Pregnant Soldier's Death; California Battles Wildfires; President Bush Announces Push for U.N. Sanctions Against Zimbabwe; Obama and McCain Make Pitches for the Latino Vote
Aired June 28, 2008 - 17:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
RICK SANCHEZ, CNN ANCHOR: Obviously, it happened too soon to be releasing any information about him. There's some video we have now from Six Flags Amusement Park just outside of Atlanta. And I should let you know this is file tape, just so you are familiar with the place that we are talking about.
We're told the young man has been -- boy, it's almost tough to say -- decapitated at the park, decapitated say officials. They say that some boys who were there at the park jumped over a fence that they weren't supposed to jump over into the Batman ride and that is where it occurred. This is all being confirmed now by Cobb County police officials who have been in contact with us.
Obviously, we do expect to get much more information on this story. And as we get it, as horrible as it may sound and as parents and other officials are notified, we will certainly let you know. Now, as far as folks there at the park, when last we checked the park had not been closed.
Obviously, that area where it happened has been closed. But as far as how it affects some of the other people who were there at the amusement center today, we hope to be getting some answers on that. And as we get it, we'll be sharing that with you as well.
Meanwhile, in Fayetteville, North Carolina, the death of a pregnant soldier has taken a twisted turn today, one that appears to point toward murder. But authorities say that they're still not sure. Army Specialist Megan Lynn Touma arrived at Fort Bragg June 12th from an assignment in Germany. Then a week ago today, her body was found in a nearby hotel with signs that suggested foul play. Suggested but didn't prove it and now we have this.
Today's "Fayetteville Observer" carries a story about a letter dated June 17th. It arrived at the paper just last Wednesday. An anonymous author claims to have killed Specialist Touma and claims to have killed before and threatens to kill again. Then there's that symbol, see that symbol there at the bottom, the paper reports that same symbol was drawn in the room where Touma's body was found.
It's chilling and makes you ask, well, then, how would he have known the symbol was in the room unless he was in the room unless he was the killer? There's a lot more to this story. Just a short time ago I talked to CNN's Randi Kaye who's been following this case from the start. Joining us now is Randi Kaye. She's been working on this story since it first broke. You've been in contact with police. What are they telling you about this case right now?
RANDI KAYE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: All they say right now Rick is that the death is suspicious. They won't call it homicide. They won't call it murder. We tried to get the 911 tapes. They said that they won't release those, which they normally do as you know...
KAYE: But they won't because they don't -- they think if they do it would hamper the investigation, so there must be some clues on those 911 tapes. We also haven't received the autopsy results yet. Those came back inconclusive at first...
SANCHEZ: Let's talk about the clues we already have. There are reports that there is some kind of blood on the walls that furniture has been moved around. What are they calling this then, if not homicide?
KAYE: Suspicious, that's it. Right now we know that they have taken a sample of the drywall which had what they think is some blood on it. The maintenance man found her last weekend in the bathtub. We know the bed was slightly pushed away from the wall. The lamp that was on the nightstand and the nightstand itself were askewed (ph). They weren't where they were supposed to be. They're not going so far as to say there was a struggle. They're not saying much at all.
SANCHEZ: So how did she die?
KAYE: That's a good question.
SANCHEZ: They're just not saying.
KAYE: They're just not saying. I mean all we really know is that she arrived at Fort Bragg on June 12th at 2:00 in the morning. She checked in at 2:00 in the morning, showed up later that day at 3:15 for roll call as she was supposed to. They had the weekend off because of a holiday. And she was supposed to be back for roll call on June 16th.
SANCHEZ: Why didn't the Army scream we've got somebody missing?
KAYE: Because they're not -- they're still investigating whether or not her unit, her commanders ever even said she was missing. She didn't show up for roll call on the 16th. Her body wasn't found until the 21st.
SANCHEZ: It looks from the outside like somebody there dropped the ball.
KAYE: The policy of the military, of the Army, they're supposed to declare her AWOL within 24 hours if she doesn't show up for roll call. And they didn't do that. In fact, since the last time they know they actually saw her on base was June 12th. They didn't find her until the 21st. She very well could have been dead for nine days.
SANCHEZ: Good god. All right, Randi Kaye, thanks so much for that report.
Now, as to the letter claiming responsibility, "The Fayetteville Observer" says that it held back on publishing this letter. The paper says it went ahead after receiving information yesterday linking the symbol on the letter to the symbol in the room where Touma's body was found, so that was obviously the clincher and that is what police are working on tonight.
We are going to have a lot more on this story tonight right here at 10:00 p.m. Eastern. In fact, we're making phone calls right now, trying to track down the people there in North Carolina who knew Megan Touma or were near that crime scene. We're also going to be talking to a criminal profiler about what we can glean from this letter that was sent to the newspaper.
Meanwhile, President Bush issuing an emergency declaration today for California. That state is battling more than 1,000 wildfires. One threatens a popular resort town of Big Sur. It's destroyed 16 homes there and more than 500 more are threatened as well. Lightning started most of the fires, including the one in Big Sur. More thunderstorms could hit the area we're told sometime this weekend.
President Bush is also calling for an international squeeze on the strong arm regime of Zimbabwe one day after a runoff election widely viewed as a farce. Mr. Bush announced plans to seek U.N. sanctions against the regime of President Robert Mugabe. In a statement this morning, the president called for an arms embargo against Zimbabwe and a travel ban against top government officials.
The statement called the regime illegitimate and the runoff election a sham. Mugabe was unopposed in this runoff. His challenger quit amid a wave of political violence. The embattled opposition is asking for help from Zimbabwe's neighbors. So far they've been reluctant to get involved.
With the latest on the story now, let's take you to CNN's own Nkepile Mabuse. She is in Johannesburg, South Africa, following the story for us now. Is there any solution? Look, in the end, what you have it seems is somebody who is determined to be the leader of a country where he doesn't allow any opposition. If fact, many of them mysteriously disappear. Is it about the U.N. coming in or is it perhaps a neighbor like South Africa who can make a difference in putting pressure on him to stop this?
NKEPILE MABUSE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Most definitely, Rick, needs an African solution. Robert Mugabe has ignored international condemnation. The U.S. has spoken out against what is happening. They condemned him. Britain, many in the international community have condemned Robert Mugabe, but this does not seem to matter to the man.
Now international leaders are looking on leaders on this continent, African leaders, to be firmer with Robert Mugabe. And we're hearing that you know that on Monday an African union heads of state are going to be meeting in Egypt. And at the moment we're hearing from reporters on the ground that statehouse, which is where -- this is Robert Mugabe's residency, that there's a lot of activity at statehouse, that trucks are coming in, tents are being put up. So it looks like Robert Mugabe may be sworn in before he goes to the African union summit, obviously wanting to cling to the little legitimacy that he thinks that he has, that the world has condemned. Rick.
SANCHEZ: Nkepile, when the United States calls it a sham. Is there anybody out there who would possibly disagree with that outside of Robert Mugabe himself?
MABUSE: Well, many African leaders have spoken out, more than ever before. I mean the troubles in Zimbabwe effectively started in 2000. And African leaders were silent on the matter when Zimbabweans were dying, dying every day and were being brutalized by Robert Mugabe's regime. Now African leaders are speaking out. They say Robert Mugabe should step down.
Obviously, it's their action that is going to matter, that is going to change things in Zimbabwe, not their word. And as they meet on Monday, as I said, in Egypt, the world will be looking on African leaders to see how they're going to really take action in Zimbabwe to resolve the catastrophe that is in that country right now.
SANCHEZ: Nkepile Mabuse following that story for us, we thank you so much. Obviously we're going to be keeping an eye on that.
News today on the battle for the nation's fastest growing bloc of voters as well, John McCain and Barack Obama both addressing elected Latino officials at a conference at the nation's capital. The group releasing a study Thursday predicting more than nine million Latinos will cast ballots this November. Obama and McCain both pledge to lead an overhaul of current immigration law. A recent poll found Obama with 2-1 lead among Latinos against Senator McCain.
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UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: (INAUDIBLE)
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SANCHEZ: So apparently John McCain's not getting her vote this November. We're going to find out what all the heckling is about from somebody who was there today.
SANCHEZ: Welcome back to the CNN NEWSROOM. I'm Rick Sanchez.
We've got some video I want to show you, sheet metal ripped right off buildings in Omaha, Nebraska, the result of a powerful thunderstorm that tore right through yesterday. Winds almost 100 miles an hour in some areas. That's as strong as a category 2 hurricane. Swimmers trying out for the Olympics at the city's Quest Center (ph) had to hurry out of the pool and run for cover after tornado warnings went out. No one there was hurt.
Now, we do have some CNN I-Reports that have been coming in to us now, images of this rough weather. This picture is from Brandon Erikson (ph) of Omaha, Nebraska. He sees this great angle of the storm clouds gathering late yesterday afternoon, also this picture of the flooding in Clarksville. This is from Bill Leverett (ph).
It's in the Missouri area just after the levee broke just last Saturday. She also took this shot of her husband fishing on Main Street in LaGrange (ph), Missouri. And take a look at these pictures out of Detroit, cars trying to drive on roads that turned into rivers. This after an inch and a half of rain fell during rush hour. Some streets completely impassable after storm drains backed up.
Now let's go to Iowa, storm turns deadly; a tree smashes down on a car, killing two teenagers inside. Heavy rain and baseball-sized hail hit parts of the state, which is already drenched from several weeks of flooding.
Karen Maginnis joining us now. Wet weather everywhere, isn't it? Boy unbelievable those pictures in Detroit. You know what happens to people when they try and drive on roads like that; they become stuck car drivers, right?
KAREN MAGINNIS, CNN METEOROLOGIST: Yes, they certainly do and it doesn't take but a few inches for that to happen and it's either feast or famine in the weather. Take a look at where we've got those fires. It's almost like a ring of fire, if you will, the eastern edges of California through the mountains across northern California and then along that northern coast, but then dotted down here across Big Sur, and this is a big time of year for them, lots of visitors.
That's just not going to happen. The smoke is so dangerous there. We have got a live picture out of Sacramento and that's not fog. It's not haze. It is actually smoke that Sacramento is reporting right now. Let's go ahead and show you some of the precipitation.
Yeah, there is a little bit in northern California. How about some lightning? Well I really haven't seen that. That doesn't mean it's not there, but it doesn't really look visible now on our radar images. But some of that moisture going through Lake County, Southern Trinity County. These are where some of those big fires are located, also in Shasta County as well.
A little bit of wet weather there if it indeed is making its way to the ground. You've heard about those dry thunderstorms, the air underneath that thunderstorm is so dry that it just doesn't make it to the ground. So all across northern California into the eastern edge of the Sierra we've got a red flag warning for areas of smoke.
And they are saying that the particulates are P.M. 2.5 (ph), meaning they've become lifted in the air. And if those particulates manage to float in the air, you're capable of breathing that in. So we're looking at very high particulate matter. That being some smoke and high levels of ozone as well. In this gray area, this is the San Joaquin Valley and this is where we're looking at where the pollution is going to be at its worst. But also there are no less than five severe thunderstorm watches out across the east. So, Rick, it's the haves and it's the have-nots, but just about everybody's got some bad weather to report today.
SANCHEZ: Little bit of this and a little bit of that. Thanks so much Karen, certainly appreciate it.
Look at this.
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UNIDENTIFIED GROUP: (INAUDIBLE)
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SANCHEZ: That's not one. That's two, three, four times John McCain was heckled today. We'll be picking this up on the other side of the commercial. Stay with us.
SANCHEZ: Welcome back. I'm Rick Sanchez.
Senator John McCain hoping to make some political headway with the largest and fastest growing minority group in the United States. Both he and his rival addressed the National Association of Latino Elected and Appointed Officials today.
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SEN. JOHN MCCAIN (R-AZ), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Frankly, I would have appreciated it more if we could have had a town hall meeting. I understand that my friend Senator Obama will, who I admire and respect a great deal, will be here after me, and I believe in the town hall meeting. I believe that we both could have stood here and responded to your questions or comments or views because I think it's time America listened, listened, leaders listened, Americans are hurting now.
So we could listen and also we could respond. So I would have appreciated the opportunity to appear here alongside my respected colleague in the United States Senate, but that's not the case.
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SANCHEZ: Not everyone was listening John McCain. In fact, anti- war protestors disrupted the senator while he was giving his speech several, in fact four times. Police ended up escorting the hecklers from the building. No such problem for Senator Obama. He spoke right after McCain. The Democrat not shying away from the hot-button issue of immigration.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) SEN. BARACK OBAMA (D-IL), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: You need a president who will pursue genuine solutions day in and day out in a consistent way. And that's my commitment to you. We need immigration reform that will secure our borders and punish employers who exploit immigrant labor, but we also need...
OBAMA: We also need reform that finally brings the 12 million people who are here illegally out of the shadows, requiring them to take steps to become legal citizens, putting them on a pathway to citizenship. That has to be one of our priorities as well.
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SANCHEZ: I mentioned those hecklers just moments ago. I want to bring somebody in now who was there when John McCain was interrupted four times by these hecklers. This is Ione Molinares. She is in Washington. She has been covering this beat.
Before we do anything else, you know what I'd like to do? Just to be fair to our viewers, because it almost sounded like we were saying that the Hispanic organization protested or heckled McCain who they had invited. Let's let the viewers take a look at this themselves and then I want to ask you for your commentary on it. Roger, roll it if you've got it.
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UNIDENTIFIED GROUP: (INAUDIBLE)
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SANCHEZ: All right. Now, they're heckling John McCain, but we find out that they weren't really part of the organization. Is that right? Can you explain that to the viewers?
IONE MOLINARES, CNN EN ESPANOL: Sure, Rick. Yeah, exactly right. They weren't part of this organization called Code Pink (ph), and they are openly against the war and they constantly look for places where they can actually express their opposition to the war in Iraq. That is a very important time. Now Code Pink (ph) had, of course, members all over and they're very well organized and they make their way through and...
SANCHEZ: Listen, that's not to diminish their cause.
SANCHEZ: They certainly have a right, perhaps not doing it this way, but to argue against the war to a man who has been for this war, at least in the latter part of his campaign. But let's -- let me ask you about something else. John McCain really has the work cut out for him when it comes to winning over Hispanics, at least that's what the last poll shows 62 to 28 percent Barack Obama is beating him with Hispanics. How much of this has to do with the immigration backlash not so much caused by John McCain but by Republicans.
MOLINARES: It is interesting because you would think that John McCain would have more backing by the Hispanics precisely because he made the effort and he was part of the initial effort to get immigration reform...
MOLINARES: ... eventually failed. But in reality, there's a lot of frustration in the Latino community because precisely that reform was never -- it never materialized. So, basically, now is a very big job for John McCain trying to get Hispanics to understand that he made the effort and he will do it again.
What happens is this is not only the immigration issue but the Iraq war and also the economy. And there are a lot of issues that Latino voters are very -- they're very similar to the mainstream voters, Rick, so...
SANCHEZ: Given their choice, the polls seem to show that Latinos would have favored putting a Clinton in the White House because they perceived, according to polls once again, that the last time the United States was in good shape economically was when there was a Clinton in the White House. My question to you -- do they seem to perceive that Barack Obama can pick up that mantle and run with it?
MOLINARES: Well, initially, the Latino vote was for Hillary Clinton, and it was very well stated in every single primary where the Latino vote was important. It was decisive for Hillary Clinton, but also at the end, it's more about precisely what the Latino voters will think.
And they don't think that Republicans are the ones that can actually carry on in good times like they used to have during the Bill Clinton administration. So they tend to feel more comfortable with this idea that a Democrat will bring about -- bring back all those good times, and that's why they were so inclined to support Hillary Clinton instead of Barack Obama.
But now he is the Democratic nominee, the presumptive Democratic nominee, and they will feel that by him being backed by Hillary Clinton, it will probably be at least the hope of the good times back again.
SANCHEZ: Yeah, well, 62 to 28 percent, that's a wide margin. And it does seem to counter John McCain at this point and reemphasize the point that you were making. Ione Molinares, thanks so much for being with us. We appreciate your report.
MOLINARES: Sure, a pleasure. SANCHEZ: You want to live in paradise? Well you've got have a real fat wallet. Bliss doesn't come cheap these days.
Also -- the bitter and the bloody war going on in Mexico right now. Drug cartels versus the police. And the U.S. isn't just watching.
SANCHEZ: Welcome back now. I'm Rick Sanchez.
We are getting more information on that horrible decapitation death that we reported to you at the beginning of this newscast. We're receiving information now from a public relations manager at the park who says that a 17-year-old visitor was indeed killed after climbing a six-foot fence that secured the Batman roller coaster. This is file video, by the way, that we have here of Six Flags Park just outside Atlanta.
They say it happened at 2:00 p.m. They say they don't know exactly why the person or persons may have climbed over the fence. They were students. That they may have been trying to retrieve something that they lost while they were on the roller coaster. There's also a comment about the possibility that one of them had perhaps on a dare tried to touch the roller coaster as it was going by.
Nonetheless, police are on the scene. That's Cobb County sheriff's officers are on the scene investigating this story at the park. A 17-year-old killed at the Batman roller coaster there.
Also happening now -- police in North Carolina investigate an anonymous letter. The writer claims to have killed pregnant soldier Megan Touma. She was found dead in her Fayetteville hotel room last weekend. The author calls her death a masterpiece and promises more killings.
And federal help is on the way to California as President Bush declares a state of emergency there. About 1,000 wildfires are burning across the state. Lightning ignited many of them. The flames have burnt about 400 square miles.
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UNIDENTIFIED GROUP: (INAUDIBLE)
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SANCHEZ: Riot police have been called in. This is South Korea. They're using water cannons to try and beat back thousands of protestors, upset their country is importing U.S. beef again. The South Korean government had banned American beef products in 2003 after the mad cow scare. Today's demonstration coincided with Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice's visit. She insisted that U.S. beef is safe. New York's Governor David Paterson is going home and resting comfortably after successful eye surgery this morning. Paterson, who is legally blind, had a cataract removed from his left eye. Aides say he plans to resume his normal schedule tomorrow.
They're up in arms over the right to bear arms. D.C. residents are divided over the Supreme Court's decision this week to strike down a ban on handguns. Some worry that the murder rate will go up again. But others say they have the right to defend themselves.
Kate Bolduan with this story.
TAWANDA MINCEY, SISTER OF MURDER VICTIM: There's just too much going on out here -- the crime.
KATE BOLDUAN, CNN NEWS CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Tawanda Mincey says it still is hard to believe her brother Anthony is gone, gunned down in Washington last month.
MINCEY: I would have never guessed in a thousand years that my brother would have been a victim of gun violence.
BOLDUAN: With such a painful connection to D.C.'s gun violence, you may be surprised by her reaction to the Supreme Court striking down the city's handgun ban.
MINCEY: I have a lawn morrow in my house for protection right now, but good does it do when someone's coming in my house with a gun? I want a gun, too. I want to know I'm able to fight back. I have the right to defend myself.
BOLDUAN (on camera): In a 5-4 ruling, the Supreme Court said the gun ban violates a person's right to keep and bear arms. Much like the split rule ruling from the bench, D.C. residents are split as well.
(voice-over): Washington's mayor, Adrian Fenty, calls the ruling a disappointment and says the streets will be less safe.
ADRIAN FENTY, MAYOR OF WASHINGTON, D.C.: More handguns in the District of Columbia will only lead to more handgun violence.
BOLDUAN: Fenty says it's naive to think only law abiding citizens will be able to get the weapons.
FENTY: In the same way illegal handguns move through the black market, legal handguns will move through the black market.
BOLDUAN: But as Tawanda Mincey walks through her neighborhood, she says she already feels safer because she's no longer helpless.
MINCEY: My brother, maybe if we were allowed to carry weapons, maybe that would have been a different story. No one, no criminal likes to be shot back at. BOLDUAN: Kate Bolduan, CNN, Washington.
SANCHEZ: You can read more reactions to important Supreme Court ruling or you can add your voice to the mix. This is at I-report.com.
The U.S. is giving Mexico $200 million to try to fight its deadly drug war. The money comes as cartels take aim at the police, gunning them down in broad daylight.
Harris Whitbeck is covering the story for us from our Mexico City bureau.
HARRIS WHITBECK, CNN NEWS CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): More bloodshed in Mexico's drug war, the latest, six state police officers in the northern state of Senalora (ph), killed during an ambush in the streets of the state capital. State security officials say drug cartel hitmen carried out the attack.
Organized crime is also blamed for the killing of one of Mexico's most senior police officers on Thursday. Igora Lastiva (ph) was gunned down along with one of his bodyguards as he had lunch in a Mexico City coffee shop.
Just as we had expected, said interior minister, Juan Camilo Mourino, it is the way organized crime responds to the war being waged against them by the Mexican state.
WHITBECK: In just seven weeks, Mexico's top two federal law enforcement officers have been killed. Early last month, the head of the federal police, (inaudible), was killed outside his home.
The killings in broad daylight, a powerful message for the government. You go after us, and we'll go after you.
20,000 federal troops and police officers are on the streets of Mexican cities where the cartels are active. Their orders, direct from President Felipe Calderon, are to stop operations by drug cartels who try to ship cocaine and methamphetamines to the United States.
Those cartels wage bloody turf wars against each other as the government tries to squeeze them out of their strongholds.
Close to 5,000 people have died in drug-related violence since the government began its campaign against the cartels early last year.
SANCHEZ: Harris Whitbeck, good enough to join us live.
Here's the concern that many people would have, especially with Mexico being as big as it is and being on the U.S. border, that perhaps what's happened in Colombia could be happening in Mexico. That it's not just drug dealers per se but a politicized drug dealing operation. Is it happening? Can it happen?
WHITBECK: Well, a lot of people will tell you, Rick, that that has already been happening for quite some time. The federal government here has recognized that a lot -- one of the big problems in the drug war here is the fact that some of these cartels have already been able to infiltrate government at the local and municipal level. Some might even say at the federal level. In fact, there was one scandal a few weeks ago in which it was discovered an employee of the Los Thenos (ph), which is the presidential palace here in Mexico City, had ties to one of the drug cartels up north. So there's no doubt that they are infiltrating and getting closer to the circles of power.
SANCHEZ: Here's another question, in that vein -- if that's case, here is another major concern. In Colombia, drug cartels actually work in such a way so that they get the support of some of the poor people, indigent communities, who sometimes respect them more than the government. Could this happen in Mexico in places like Chiapas (ph), for example?
WHITBECK: Well, not so much in Chiapas (ph), but if you go to the northern part of the country, to the state of Senalora (ph), which is considered by many to be the heartland of the drug cartels here if Mexico, a lot of people hold a lot of respect for the drug cartels for the leaders of those cartels. They see them as popular heroes. In some cases some of the cartels have invested in public works, if you will, doing things that the local governments haven't done. So there is a certain sense of reverence, if you will, or respect for some of the leaders of the drug cartel. Certainly an issue.
SANCHEZ: That's a problem and something that I'm sure, Harris Whitbeck, I'm sure you'll be following for us in the weeks and months to come. Appreciate it, my friend.
Gas tanks and wallets running on empty. No wonder roads of people are loading up for free fuel giveaways, not to mention going to Mexico to get gas for $2. 50. We'll be back.
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UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I am paying for your gas for two hours. Start getting in line right now.
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SANCHEZ: Check out the chaos. This is Lauder Hill, Florida, now far from Ft. Lauderdale, Florida, a radio station's freebee gas offer. Listen to what some of the motorists who were in that line had to say about skyrocketing fuel prices.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Time is hard. They come and pick this gasoline station in the neighborhood and times is hard for real for real.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Very broke. I need some gas.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Took the radio show to do something our government should have did, give us a free day of gas.
SANCHEZ: People are hurting alright. So many people showed up for this freebee offer, traffic around the station came to a standstill.
Congressional leaders have been vowing to do something about skyrocketing gas prices. The question is what can they do? Democrats and Republicans addressed energy issues this week, but so far there's no new gas plan. Lawmakers on the Fourth of July break are likely to get quite an earful from their constituents when they go home.
We're complaining about the high price of gas and the related increase in food prices. But imagine paying $6.50 for a gallon of milk. That's life in Hawaii these days where most everything has to be shipped in from the mainland.
What's it like to live there? Chris Lawrence went to find out himself.
CHRIS LAWRENCE, CNN NEWS CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Sun, surf, sand -- Hawaii is blessed with a natural beauty, but there's a price for this paradise. $7.19, that's what it costs to buy a half gallon of orange juice here or it will get you one pack of American cheese slices. You'll need almost 8 bucks for a box of cereal and well over that for a jar of peanut butter.
SUSAN OHAMADA, HAWAII RESIDENT: HAWAII REI just spent for a half gallon of milk, $4.29.
LAWRENCE: Susan Ohamada is going broke shopping for a family of four.
OHAMADA: Kleenex-for $2.99 today -- $3. That was a sale price.
LAWRENCE: Most of Hawaii's food is shipped in so generally more expensive. But the high cost of fuel has forced shippers to tack on huge surcharges, which are passed along to the grocery store.
(on camera): What can Hawaiians do to have affordable food?
IRA RHODER (ph), PROFESSOR: You grow your own food. You may have noticed we can grow our own food here.
LAWRENCE (voice-over): Professor Ira Rhoder (ph) says good land is available on the island, but others say it's expensive. And you can't afford to grow celery and carrots on land at that's $80,000 an acre. Since most farmers are on short-term leases, there's no incentive to invest in technology that improves production.
Some shoppers have adapted, only buying what's in season.
CORRINE TANTOG, SHOPPER: I went to a nutrition class that helped me tell you how to buy food when they're growing. It's cheaper.
LAWRENCE: Right now, a head of lettuce is $2 per pound. Tomatoes are more than $6 a pound. A gallon of regular milk is $6.50. And forget the organic kind. It's nearly 9 bucks.
DAVE OHAMADA, HAWAII RESIDENT: Amazing how fuel has influenced everything, the prices of everything going up. It's just ridiculous.
LAWRENCE: Even a loaf of bread is $5.50, not the fancy multi-oat grain either, old-fashioned white bread. At this rate, there are going to be some families priced right out of paradise.
Chris Lawrence, CNN, Honolulu.
Check this out. This man accused of sexual abuse. He had to be physically removed from a New York courtroom. Apparently, he didn't like what the prosecution had to say during closing arguments and snapped.
This is not exactly what the demolition crew expected. A Florida building was supposed to be destroyed in this implosion, but not all the dynamite inside went off, leaving part of the structure still standing. Oops! The second implosion is now planned for tomorrow.
The customer is always right, right? Apparently not. At this Kansas City convenience store, not only did the clerk not like what the customer said about the donuts being stale, but he followed him outside and took a baseball bat to his car. He was angry because the customer shouted at him. The clerk is facing a charge of felony -- there goes he the bat, there goes the hood, bang -- property damage.
Child prostitution in America, pimps forcing kids to sell themselves. How do they get youngsters to be their slaves?
Also, a farmer's best friend is our latest "CNN Hero." This hero has been busy lately. We'll introduce you.
SANCEHZ: We welcome you back. I'm Rick Sanchez.
Get this, about 200,000 farms in the United States go out of business every year. An injury or a natural disaster, like the devastating floods along the Mississippi River, can wipe out family farmers' livelihoods.
But some lucky ones get meet this week's "CNN Hero." His name is Bill Gross. He tries to come to the rescue when tragedy strikes. (CNN HERO)
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Eye opening experience for Lisa Ling, about to be an eye opening experience for you. She learned and saw some disturbing details about child prostitution gangs in America, the seedy world of the sex trade, and one of the most notorious gangs in the world, both revealed in documentaries hosted by Lisa Ling.
CNN's Randi Kaye talked to Ling about child prostitution. That is after the break.
SANCHEZ: The seedy underworld of the sex trade and one of the most notorious gangs in the entire world, both revealed in documentaries hosted by Lisa Ling.
CNN's Randi Kaye sat down and talked with her earlier and asked her about the problem of child prostitution.
RANDI KAYE, CNN NEWS CORRESPONDENT: Lisa, this is such a disturbing story to cover. How prevalent is the child sex industry here and overseas?
LISA LING, DOCUMENTARY FILMMAKER, NATIONAL GEORGRAPHIC CHANNEL: Well, I was certainly shocked to learn the numbers. In fact, according to the University of Pennsylvania, there are some 300,000 children in America alone that are at risk of becoming sexually violated or sexual targets.
In our minds, we envision prostitutes as being solicitors of sex, approaching cars and so an and so forth. What we don't realize is that almost all of these child prostitutes are being forced by these pimps. They are mostly runaways who come from very, very broken homes, never had had any kind of affection or parent guidance. They end up on these streets. And these pimps, they essentially take advantage of the most vulnerable of little people in the world.
KAYE: You've had a chance to actually talk with these girls, as we've seen in the documentary. What do they say to you? What is their state of mind? What is it like for them to be sold into this?
LING: Well, they are so impressionable. Just think about how vulnerable any young girl is, but then think about these little girls, who don't have parents, who have been living on the street. and these pimps come up to them and they say, we'll take care of you, buy you nice clothes, provide a roof over your head. But in exchange, you need to do something for me. And then there begins that vicious, vicious cycle.
And what most people don't realize is these girls, they are slaves. They are not paid one cent. Every penny that they make is given to the pimp or else.
KAYE: So who's going to help them? How will we be able to move past this?
LING: First of all, I think we need to start targeting the pimps. For so long, we've been exclusively targeting the actual girls or the johns. But that's why I was so thrilled to hear about this raid that actually targeted the pimps because they are, to me, this cancer. And there is such a big demand for sex in this country and around the world, particularly child sex, and there are no shortage of men or pimps who are trying to exploit these girls and meet that demand.
KAYE: It's so hard to find them, too, with the Internet because they don't have to come out on the street anymore.
LING: That's the thing. Many of the girls we met actually got caught because of sting operations that were being conducted on the Internet. They sold themselves on Craig's List or in various chat rooms. It's really disturbing. The Internet has just made the process so easier and driven it further underground.
KAYE: I just want to talk to you about the gang MS-13. You've worked on a documentary with them. Many of them obviously were caught. This is a very large gang, about 38 states here in the country that they've been able to infiltrate. Can you tell us about it and where they started and why they've become so powerful here?
LING: This gang, MS-13, is considered to be the world's most dangerous gang. It actually started in Los Angeles, a small group of Salvadoran immigrants, they banded together to protect themselves against much bigger, established L.A. gangs. But over the years they have really become global. And with increased deportation, they're being sent back to El Salvador and actually committed L.A.-style crimes there. But it's spread.
What was once sort of a street gang kind of organization has now become this very, very scary, intense international drug trafficking organization. And they just -- they have no regard for the law whatsoever.
KAYE: Two very interesting documentaries, Lisa Ling is joining us to talk about. Thanks so much for your time this morning.
LING: Thank you.
SANCHEZ: By the way, Ling's documentary, "World's Most Dangerous Gang" airs on the National Geographic channel Tuesday, July 8th at 10:00 p.m. eastern.
I want to catch you up on the story we've been telling you about since we first started this newscast. That's about that decapitation that has taken place at Six Flags Park here outside of Atlanta. We have some tape of the park itself. This is file, by the way. It happened at the Batman ride, which is a roller coaster ride.
We are being told now by officials from Cobb County and officials there at the park with the public relations department that it was a 17-year-old young man who jumped or scaled a six-foot fence that was a divider to this ride. There is some concern that he may have gone there as either a bet with a friend that he would touch the roller coaster, or that something that had been left behind by him when he was on the ride itself. So the information right now is that it has been investigated or is being investigated, I should say, by the Cobb County Sheriff's Office. As we get more information on that, we will certainly bring it to you.
Meanwhile, there is still much more ahead on CNN. At 10:00 tonight -- you see that symbol there -- is it the symbol of a killer, or perhaps a zodiac killer, as was the case in California. That symbol is in a letter that has been sent to a newspaper reporter and is now in the hands of police. The same symbol was found inside a hotel room where a soldier eight months pregnant was found. Does that mean this person is the killer? And there's also information coming in about the family members and perhaps the boyfriend of the killer. We're going to be sharing and putting that all together for you right here at 10:00 p.m. as we continue to investigate that story.
Also this story, teenagers prostituting themselves and doing so on the Internet on Craig's List, some as young as 13. Imagine being a parent and finding out that your daughter is doing this. We'll have that for you tonight.
Meanwhile, let's go over now and get the very latest information now on "This Week in Politics."