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Back-To-Back Blast in Iraq; A Remote Control Squadron Controlling the Skies Over Afghanistan; Some Reactions Regarding Iran Test Firing Several Missiles; The Obama Family Goes Hollywood; Free Gas Luring Customers to Buy Everything From Food To Drugs To Sex

Aired July 09, 2008 - 09:00   ET


TONY HARRIS, CNN ANCHOR: And good morning, everyone. You are in the CNN NEWSROOM. I'm Tony Harris.
HEIDI COLLINS, CNN ANCHOR: Hi there, everybody. I'm Heidi Collins.

You'll see events come into the NEWSROOM live on Wednesday July 9th.

Here's what's on the rundown.

Iran ratchets up war tensions. Test firing nine missiles. Oil promptly reverses a two-day slide and heads up.

HARRIS: So what's the answer to run-away crude prices? A Texas billionaire says it's blowing in the wind.

COLLINS: The government is slapping a strong warning on some antibiotics. What's the trouble? Dr. Gupta diagnoses in the NEWSROOM.

HARRIS: Rattling nerves and sabers. Iran's state television reports that it has test fired nine new missiles. It is the latest salvo in the rising international tensions over Iran's nuclear ambitions.

One of the missiles fired today reportedly has a range of 1,250 miles. That puts Israel within striking distance. Other missile types fired today have ranges of 105 and 250 miles.

The White House issued a statement saying Iran should, quote, "refrain from further missile tests if it truly seeks to gain the trust of the world. The Iranians should stop the development of ballistic missiles which could be used as a delivery vehicle for a potential nuclear weapon immediately."

COLLINS: So what's the reaction in the diplomatic community?

CNN's State Department correspondent Zain Verjee is in Washington this morning looking for answers.

Zain, what are the U.S. officials saying about this?

ZAIN VERJEE, CNN STATE DEPARTMENT CORRESPONDENT: Well, the U.S. condemned Iran pretty quickly saying that they should not do any more missile tests if they truly seek to gain the trust of the world.

The Iranians, they said, should stop the development of ballistic missiles which could be used as a delivery vehicle for a potential nuclear weapon immediately.

U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice also weighing in, calling the tests evidence that the missile threat is real, not an imaginary one.

Now the missile tests come as tensions, Heidi, have really been rising with the U.S. The State Department itself just announced new financial sanctions against Iranian officials and companies accusing them of helping develop nuclear weapons. The U.S. is also trying to squeeze Iran's economy.

At the same time, Washington is pursuing a diplomatic path with Iran, along with the Europeans, basically offering Iran an incentives package in exchange for suspending uranium enrichment, which, as you know, is key in making a nuclear bomb.

So the U.S. strategy is really both carrot and stick, but a real condemnation coming out today -- Heidi.

COLLINS: Yes. And the timing pretty interesting, too, Zain.

VERJEE: Yes, it is. It's significant. I mean the Iranians seem to be sending a warning sign to Israel. Experts that we've talked to have said that this is really a response to an earlier military exercise by Israel that was seen as a practice run for attacking Iran.

Iran's pretty worried that Israel may attack them, and in doing so drag the U.S. into a possible conflict.

COLLINS: All right, well, we are, obviously, watching this story this morning.

Zain Verjee from the State Department, our correspondent there -- thanks so much, Zain.

Here's a closer look now at the long-range missile reportedly fired this morning by Iran. It is a version of the Shahab, which means "meteor" or "shooting star" in the Iranian language of Farsi. It can carry a one-time conventional warhead.

The missile is believed to have been updated with Russian and Chinese help.

HARRIS: A deadly shoot out near in the U.S. consulate in Istanbul, Turkey. According to the city's governor, three police officers and three attackers were killed in a gun battle.

It began when gunmen pulled up in a car and opened fire at a police checkpoint outside the consulate. The police fired back. Bullets flying for up to five minutes.

No Americans or consulate employees were hurt. We will get a live report from Istanbul in just a few minutes.

COLLINS: Polygamist sect leader Warren Jeffs rushed from jail to a Las Vegas hospital.

Our Chris Lawrence is there now.

So, Chris, what have you been told about his condition?

CHRIS LAWRENCE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Heidi, we know that his health was poor enough for authorities to take him out of his Arizona jail cell and bring him 100 miles here to the hospital behind me. And we know that Warren Jeffs has had some health problems over the past couple of years in jail.

While he was awaiting trial, according to court documents, he refused to eat and drink for a significant amount of time, had to be taken to an infirmary, and later he tried to hang himself in jail. While he was on a suicide watch he was observed throwing himself into a wall and banging his head against the wall repeatedly.

Now to give you a little bit of background, Jeffs is the so- called prophet of the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter- Day Saints. Now some of the 10,000 members practice polygamy using arranged marriages that sometimes involve underage girls.

Jeffs first showed up on the national radar about two years ago when the FBI put him on it's 10 Most Wanted list. He was caught, tried and then convicted of using his religious influence to coerce his followers -- over his followers to coerce a 14-year-old girl to marry her 19-year-old cousin.

And a lot of people will remember some of the images from April when the authorities came in and removed about 400 children from the FLDS ranch in Texas. It was a very emotional scene. And the Texas Supreme Court later ruled that the state did not have the authority to take the children and authorities were ordered to take them back to their families.

Jeffs had been serving 10 years to life in prison. And we expect to get more word on his current condition in the next couple hours -- Heidi?

COLLINS: All right, Chris, let us know when you get that. Appreciate it.

Chris Lawrence this morning.

HARRIS: A fast-moving fire still has residents on the run in Northern California this morning. Forty homes destroyed not long after residents were ordered to evacuate in Concow, California.

That fire in Butte County was started by blowing embers from one of the other fires in the immediate area.

Thousands of homes are still threatened. Evacuation orders lifted in Big Sur. Residents in the popular tourist community had their first chance to see the damage caused by the wildfires. At least 23 homes were destroyed there.

In southern California, firefighters have made progress on a fire burning in Santa Barbara County. About 250 homes are still at risk but that's a bit of good news here. That's down from a peak of 3,000.

COLLINS: Let's get back to the Butte County fire for just a moment now. We want to show you how treacherous it is for fire crews. Amazing video from our affiliate KOVR driving through walls of flames with one of the firefighters.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: If it's not safe we can't put engines down here. And that's what we're experiencing right now with the high winds and fire behavior. So...

UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: And I mean I'm just looking at this like...


UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: ... there's no way.


UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: I don't even want to be here right now.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes. We're actually going to turn around.



UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We can see what the wind is doing to that fire right now. The way it's pushing it. And we're getting dramatic wind shifts in here. And it makes the firefighting very, very difficult for the crews on the ground.

UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: So when you say, you know, it's (INAUDIBLE), I mean that's just not safe. True, right?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's not safe but we have crews that are already in there. So right now pretty much they have set out to coming out.


COLLINS: Wow. Here are some numbers on Butte County fire. There are actually 14 separate fires burning in that county. Right now the fire is 40 percent contained. But that doesn't really tell the whole story. Just a couple of days ago it was 55 percent contained. Obviously, developing flames. No kidding about that.

HARRIS: Whoa. Did -- Rob, did you see that video? ROB MARCIANO, CNN METEOROLOGIST: Yes, pretty dramatic stuff, huh?

COLLINS: I thought the reporter was quite calm saying...


COLLINS: ... I don't really want to be here right now. It was after he went...


MARCIANO: It is always amazing to me when you talk to these firefighters on the ground just how calm and in control they seem when they're that close to the flames. And -- I mean they're paid professionals so I suppose we should take some comfort in that. But as an amateur or as a journalist going into these things you're just blown away by how they treat it.


HARRIS: OK. Rob, appreciate it.

COLLINS: Thank you, Rob.

HARRIS: Thank you, sir.

MARCIANO: You got it.

HARRIS: Want to take you to Suzanne right now for some breaking news, a developing story that we're going to be following throughout the morning here. Pretty tough stuff.

Armed militia has attacked a United Nations peacekeeping patrol -- that in Darfur -- killing one peace keeper and wounding 19 others. This according to a U.N. spokeswoman. Six other U.N. peacekeepers are reported missing at this time.

Again, this is in Sudan's Darfur region. We are going to keep an eye on this story and get some more information for you and then update the story in just a couple of minutes right here in the NEWSROOM.

COLLINS: Crippling news from the FDA. Some antibiotics may increase your chances of tendon ruptures.

ANNOUNCER: CNN NEWSROOM brought to you...


HARRIS: Well, officials call it a terrorist attack. Several killed in a shoot out outside the U.S. consulate in Istanbul, Turkey. We will take you there live there next in the NEWSROOM.


ANNOUNCER: Covering the angles, uncovering the details, see for yourself in the CNN NEWSROOM.

HARRIS: More now on the deadly gun battle outside the U.S. consulate in Istanbul, Turkey.

Andrew Finkel is there and he joins us live.

Andrew, if you would, describe what happened.

ANDREW FINKEL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, we are not exactly sure. What we -- what we know for sure is that this morning, Istanbul time at around 11:00, there were three gunmen and a driver pulled up in front of the American consulate and they started firing at a police guard post there.

They managed to kill three of the policemen, wound two, and they themselves were killed. Now the driver managed to escape but there is news that there has been an arrest and, of course, the speculation must be that the driver has been caught -- Tony.

HARRIS: And, Andrew, I'm curious as the Turkish government called this a terrorist attack? It certainly sounds like one.

FINKEL: Well, that certainly seems to be the case. It was an act of unprovoked violence. Now who is responsible for this attack? Now that's obviously the question that people want to know.

There are -- there's a lot of rumor going around. There is no real fact. There is some talk that one of the -- that the identities of two of the people -- or the perpetrators who were killed is known. One of them is reported to have trained in Afghanistan.

This still hearsay. The minister of the interior in Turkey was actually standing in front of the consulate not too long ago. He refused to answer any direct questions about who was responsible. He said that all this would be answered in the fullness of time -- Tony.

HARRIS: And Andrew, one final question. I'm curious as to who was killed in this attack, and specifically any U.S. consulate personnel killed or injured?

FINKEL: No, there were no U.S. personnel killed or injured. I don't know if you can see behind me, the consulate itself is really very much of a fortress. It's very much prepared for these sorts of incidents.

A little while ago the consulate moved out from the center of the city. They moved to these headquarters which I think you need a tank to get through to them because they are well impregnable. It's a building on a hilltop. The people who perpetrated this incident got nowhere near the consulate itself -- Tony.

HARRIS: OK. Andrew Finkel for us from Istanbul, Turkey.

Andrew, appreciate it, thank you.

COLLINS: A health alert to tell you about. Now the FDA recommending its strongest warning for some antibiotics. The reason -- an increased risk of tendon ruptures.

Our chief medical correspondent Dr. Sanjay Gupta is here now.

So, Sanjay, is this a new finding?

DR. SANJAY GUPTA, CNN CHIEF MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: You know, it's not. Actually there have been some concern about tendonitis and tendon ruptures really since '92 with these particular drugs. And the warning was actually increased back in 2004.

This is now a black box warning, when you're talking about the most severe warning that can put out there for a couple of reasons. One is that there's hundreds of cases, apparently, of tendonitis and tendon ruptures with these medications.

Cipro is one of the medications in this class. There's also the concern that this may occur after just a single dose.


GUPTA: After just one dose and you can start to develop tendon pain, and maybe even a tendon rupture.

Now the drugmaker that makes this medications says, OK, we'll go ahead and change the labeling, put the black box warning out, which is really done, Heidi, so that you can alert both doctors and consumers.

We talk about it, people start talking about it and they think, have I taken Cipro for something recently? Did I have tendon pain? Could it be related? That's the discussion they want to start.

COLLINS: Remind us, what do you take Cipro for to begin with?

GUPTA: Cipros is one of those medications people sometimes take when they go to a foreign country, they'll get a little bit of the bacterial infection in the belly. People also talked about it a lot after anthrax. Those medications...

COLLINS: Yes, they say people were hoarding it or trying to get ahold of a lot of it.

GUPTA: Hoarding it for anthrax.


GUPTA: It's a fairly common antibiotics, and again, this is one of the antibiotics in this class of antibiotics known as flouroquinolone. The name's not important but Cipro is probably the most commonly taken one.

COLLINS: OK. And when we talk about these tendon ruptures is it usually the same tendons we're talking about on the body or could it just be any one of them?

GUPTA: Well, it appears to be the Achilles most commonly. The Achilles is the one... COLLINS: Ouch.

GUPTA: I know, that -- and that's -- you know, that's a devastating injury. I mean you -- that really can put you -- sideline you for some time. That's the tendon that runs between your calf and your ankle. Also the shoulder tendon, the biceps tendons. Those ones tend to be at risk as well.

Exactly why this occurs, no one really knows.

COLLINS: That's weird.

GUPTA: It must be some sort of toxicity of the medication, the antibiotic in this case, on the tendons itself, or the collagen in tendons or something like that. No one knows exactly why it's happening but it can happen and it can happen quickly.

COLLINS: Fast. Yes.


COLLINS: All right. So if you are on this drug right now, what do you do?

GUPTA: Well, you know, one thing -- as I look at the study I found that there were certain people who are most at risk, people over the age of 60. People who are previous transplant recipients -- kidney transplant recipients, for example -- people who take steroid medication. They tend to be the most at risk.

So I think, you know, you need to ask your doctor, is this really the best medication for me? But also if you're someone who's taking this medication and you've also had tendon pain, you may want to talk to your doctor about switching you to a different antibiotic. This is something that people don't typically associate but they can very much be linked.

COLLINS: Definitely not. Yes.


COLLINS: What about your activity level? If you're somebody who is working out a lot, or -- I mean are you more at risk possibly?

GUPTA: Yes. It doesn't tend to discriminate between younger people and older people, or more active or less active, but people do get the awful sort of swelling and tenderness around that tendon. And something to think about.

COLLINS: Yes. Scary. All right, Dr. Sanjay Gupta, appreciate it. Thank you.

GUPTA: Thanks, Heidi. Sure.

HARRIS: Big Texas oil man, T. Boone Pickens has a plan to wean America off oil. Find out what he says needs to be done straight ahead.


COLLINS: News about "ISSUE #1" -- the economy. Oil prices are on the rebound today after tumbling two days in a row. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi is calling on President Bush to tap into the Strategic Oil Reserves to combat high prices.

The White House rejected Pelosi's request. The administration says using the strategic reserve to manipulate prices is ineffective.

HARRIS: America now more dependent than ever on imported oil for its energy needs. Now a Texas oil magnate T. Boone Pickens says he has a plan to wean us off it and it doesn't involve oil at all.

Ali Velshi, "Minding Your Business." I think I said "T. Bone" -- earlier.


COLLINS: Hungry already.

VELSHI: That's right.

HARRIS: Good morning, Ali. Talk about this plan?

VELSHI: Good to see you, my friend.

HARRIS: And, you know, it's viability. What do you think?

VELSHI: Well, people may have heard of T. Boone Pickens. He's a rich oil man, he's 80 years old, he's been in the oil business for 50 years, he's a billionaire, and he's been pushing this idea of wind.

In fact, a few months ago I probably brought to you the news that he's building the largest wind farm in the world in Pampa, Texas.

Now here's what -- how his theme works. He wants private money to go into building wind farms along the wind corridor from Texas north to Canada. Now once he does that he wants to use the -- he wants to generate electricity from wind...


VELSHI: ... and then take out all that natural gas that is used to generate electricity, use that to power cars, which would mean building cars that are powered by natural gas and building an infrastructure for that. And then once you power the cars with natural gas you've removed so much of the oil from the system that it decreases the U.S.' dependence on foreign oil by 38 percent.

I sat down and talked to him, Tony. Here's what he told me about how this would work.


T. BOONE PICKENS, CHAIRMAN & CEO, BP CAPITAL: If I can get the wind replace the natural gas, then the natural gas will -- I can put it in transportation fuel, and there are eight million vehicles in the world today that are on natural gas. And you could put it right in the transportation fuel and reduce our imports by 38 percent.


VELSHI: So that's interesting. He's talking about the fact that he said General Motors makes 18 or 19 cars worldwide -- models that run on natural gas. None of them are sold here in the United States but the technology exists.

It's a big deal he's talking about but he's basically laid down a plan and he wants the presidential candidates to meet with him together and talk about it.

HARRIS: Interesting. Quickly, and then I got another thought for you. Does the plan come with a time frame?

VELSHI: He says that this could be done within he next decade. Five to ten years if Congress and the administration work on it very quickly. But he says they've got to treat it the way they would treat a war or they got to declare a natural emergency on energy to get it done.

HARRIS: Good idea. Who else is coming out with a plan to sort of address our energy needs?

VELSHI: Nobody. There hasn't been a comprehensive plan. The candidates haven't put one out. Congressman Randall Forbes came out with an idea that he'd like to provide an incentive, provide money to people to invent the technologies that would actually get us further.

So there are some things floating around but the candidates haven't embraced either of them yet.

HARRIS: OK, Ali Velshi, "Minding Your Business" this morning.

Ali, good to see you, sir.

VELSHI: See you, buddy.

HARRIS: A CNN exclusive, inside the command center of the drone air force, attacking enemies in Afghanistan from the Las Vegas suburbs.


ANNOUNCER: Live in the CNN NEWSROOM, Tony Harris and Heidi Collins.

HARRIS: Coming up on the half hour, welcome back, everyone, to the CNN NEWSROOM. I'm Tony Harris. COLLINS: Hi there, everybody. I'm Heidi Collins.

Want to start this half hour with the weather situation, particularly these terrible fires that we have been following in California.

And Rob Marciano is over the Weather Center talking a little bit more about them. Plus, record heat, yes?


COLLINS: We want to take a look at the opening bell this morning. There you have it. Who knows what's going to happen today. But we are expecting a, quote, "rough start."

Yesterday, Dow Jones closed to the positive, which was exciting. 152 points or so. Today they're opening -- what was that word we used the other day? Tepidly?


COLLINS: 17 points to the positive. Of course watching the NASDAQ as well and oil prices and all that jazz. Business coming up a little bit later on.

HARRIS: A back-to-back blast this morning in Iraq. Officials in Fallujah say six people are dead including four police officers. 18 others wounded. Medics and police report the first bomb exploded outside a bank. The second bomb went off after crowds gathered at the site. It happens a lot.

The city had been a strong hold for insurgents but U.S. and Iraqi troops had chased many al Qaeda cells out of that area. As violence falls across Iraq, the government's confidence clearly rising. Iraqi officials are now stepping up pressure on the United States to agree to a timetable for troops to withdraw.

Our Frederik Pleitgen joins us live from Baghdad with a look at the political progress being made in Iraq.

Fred, since we talk yesterday, Iraq's national security advisor has said Iraq won't sign a long-term security deal with United States without specific withdrawal dates. What kind of timetable is the Iraqi government talking about here?

FREDERIK PLEITGEN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Hi, Tony. You're absolutely right. Since we talk yesterday, we've been working very hard to get more specifics from the Iraqi government about this. We were able to talk to the spokesperson for the Iraqi government. And what he told us is that they're envisioning something like a three to five-year period for all foreign forces, which means of course the majority of which are American forces, to get out of this country.

Now, one thing that the Iraqis did add, they said that they want to make this dependent on the security situation here in Iraq on the ground. If this country is stable enough, they say, then U.S. forces should leave within three to five years.

And, of course, the way things are going now, that's not looking too good. There is no doubt that there have been a lot of gains in security here in Iraq over this past year. But certainly, the Iraqi security forces don't seem to be in a position yet to take over security fully.

But one thing that's very important that we did get from an Iraqi government official, he said that, as you know, there is a deadline for signing this agreement for U.S. forces to stay here in Iraq, and that deadline is the end of this month. Then he said, the Iraqi government is not confident at all that they are going to be able to hammer out an agreement within the next couple of days. That would lead to an agreement by the end of this month.


HARRIS: OK, Fred, let's take a step back and take a broader look at this. Has the Iraqi government progressed to the point, using the enhanced security, to reconcile factions within the government? And if the answer to that is, yes, what's the best evidence of this government kind of coalescing?

PLEITGEN: Well, that's a very good question. And really, they haven't used the increased security due to the surge to really do much in the way of reconciliation. If you take a look at a city like Baghdad, what's happened in Baghdad is that the city is more factionalized than ever.

It is basically a segregated city now where you have Sunni in place, you have Shia in place, and the only way these two could reconcile is if they were going to be able to interact but that simply isn't happening. Because they're just physically divided by blast walls and many other Iraqi cities are exactly the same way.

Now, if you look at the political process, the Sunni in this country are basically politically disenfranchised. They walked out of the Maliki government over a year ago and they are now thinking of coming back. They haven't come back yet. But basically, what you have here is the Shia-dominated government that's now trying to hammer out these deals.


HARRIS: OK. Frederik Pleitgen for us in Baghdad. Frederik, thank you.

COLLINS: A remote control squadron controlling the skies over Afghanistan. The pilot, 7,000 miles away. CNN is the first news network allowed inside the command center.

Senior Pentagon Correspondent Jamie McIntyre is live now for us this morning at Creech Air Force Base outside Las Vegas this morning.

Now, Jamie, this is not Nellis Air Forces Base. JAMIE MCINTYRE, CNN SENIOR PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT: No. Nellis is right in Las Vegas. We're about maybe 45 miles northwest up a lonely stretch of highway. It's 6:30 in the morning here. Already the crews have been up for hours getting the various unmanned planes ready to go, the predator and reaper planes. But these are basically training missions because the real action is happening half a world away.


MCINTYRE (voice-over): At Creech Air Force Base, 60 miles northwest of Las Vegas, a pilot-less plane lands under a blistering desert sun. The remote base is home of the first unmanned attack squadron featuring the original predator drone armed with a pair of hellfire missiles and its newer, bigger and far-more lethal cousin, the reaper, which carries four times as much fire powers. Col. Chris Chambliss, a former F-16 fighter pilot is the wing commander.

COL. CHRIS CHAMBLISS, 432ND WING COMMANDER: This airplane can carry the same bomb load that I carried into the fight. So it is pretty impressive.

MCINTYRE: Can it do the same thing an F-16 can do?

CHAMBLISS: Yes. Everything except pull Gs and go fast.

MCINTYRE: And put a pilot at risk.

CHAMBLISS: That's exactly right.

MCINTYRE: You see the planes are deployed overseas, but the pilots are not. For over a year now, Reaper-7 flying two separate round the clock patrols over Afghanistan from a command center that has been strictly off-limits to news cameras until now.

(on camera): CNN is the first news organization to be granted access to this operation center. And as a condition, we had to agree to show none of the imagery which remains highly classified. Still, no sooner had we walked in that we witnessed an air strike by A-10 attack planes assisted by a reaper and brought to us live from Afghanistan.

(voice-over): Declassified video shows the deadly effectiveness of the reaper, a plane that never sleeps, with an eye that never blinks. So far this year, reaper pilots have launched 64 missiles and dropped seven 500-pound bombs in Afghanistan, all from an air conditioned office 7,000 miles away from the front, but only a short commute from the Las Vegas suburbs.

So you're driving to work with all the other commuters, except you're going to war.

CAPT. MATT DEAN, U.S. AIR FORCE: That's right.

MCINTYRE: What's that like? DEAN: It takes you a few months to get adjusted to it. Seeing bad guys on the screen and watching them possibly get dispatched, and then going down the street to Taco Bell for lunch is kind of a surreal effect.


MCINTYRE: And these pilots, Heidi, when you talk to them really do believe that they're on the cutting edge of the future of aerial warfare. In fact, they talk about the fact that when you step out of this hot Arizona sun, which by the way isn't that much different than Iraq -- the temperatures here -- and you step into that air conditioned trailer where they have the control center, it's really, they say, like being in the cockpit over Afghanistan.

They really sort of lose themselves in the moment. They feel like they're in the plane. Except they have an advantage. While they can't, you know, look left or right like a pilot in a plane can, they have a lot more input that they can factor in as they make that fateful decision whether to carry out a strike. And often, they are talking directly with the commanders on the ground.


COLLINS: Yes. It's just a great topic to talk about, too, when we are discussing war and this type of combat. Any time you can keep even just one person out of that combat zone and in a safer situation, if you will, the better. Any idea as you talk with all the folks there how much more of this type of warfare we'll see in the coming years?

MCINTYRE: Oh, it's -- you're going to see a lot. There's two limiting factors here -- one is the number of aircraft. And the Air Force is already reprogramming some money in its budget to no longer buy those older predators but sink a lot more money into the reaper like the one behind me that's being prepared for a training mission.

The other problem is they need those crews to train them, to fly them, and they're going to -- you're going to see in the coming weeks a real effort to ramp up the number of people that will do that. This asset, this idea of having an unmanned plane that can essentially fly 24 hours a day, seven days a week, 365 days a year over the air, that's something that all the commanders want. There is a very high demand for it.

COLLINS: Yes. Well, it's fascinating. And love that you were there first. Thanks so much. Our Senior Pentagon correspondent Jamie McIntyre from Creech Air Forces Base.

HARRIS: The Obama Family goes Hollywood. "Access Hollywood," that is. Barack Obama talking about the interview again this morning. Hear what he has to say coming up next for you in the NEWSROOM.


COLLINS: We have some reaction we want to share with you this morning regarding Iran test firing several missiles. We've been telling you about the story all morning long. They are saying according to Gen. Hossein Salami. He's the commander of Revolutionary Guard Ground Forces. Let's go ahead and listen in to what he has to say about this latest event.


GEN. HOSSEIN SALAMI, REVOLUTIONARY GUARD GROUND FORCES (through translator): We want to tell the world that those who conduct their foreign policy by using the language of threat against Iran have to know that our finger is always on the trigger and we have hundreds and even thousands of missiles ready to be fired against predetermined targets.

We will chase the enemies on the ground and in the sky and we are able react strongly to enemy threats in shortest possible time.


COLLINS: So there you have some reaction from the, again, commander of the Revolutionary Guards Ground Forces. We also want to share something that Mohammad Ali Jafari, who is the commander of the Elite Revolutionary Guard said in response again to Iran test firing several missiles in particular the Shahab 3, which has a pretty long range, 1,250 miles, which in effect could reach Israel, which is part of why we are talking about this, this morning.

He says this, quote, "The revolutionary guards are ready to defend the land and borders of their country and are ready for action against the threats of enemies."

Want to get to our State Department correspondent Zain Verjee now with more on this.

Zain, we talked last hour about what the United States' response was to these missile launches.

ZAIN VERJEE, CNN STATE DEPARTMENT CORRESPONDENT: Right. Exactly. The United States really condemning it saying that this doesn't help the situation and that certainly all it does is really isolate the Iranian people.

It comes as more rising tensions with the U.S. The State Department announcing new financial sanctions against Iranian officials and companies. At the same time, while they are tightening the squeeze on Iran with things like sanctions and, you know, trying to prevent U.S. businesses and businesses around the world from dealing with Iranian banks, the U.S. is pursuing a diplomatic part with Iran.

It wants it to make a deal, along with the Europeans, that the U.S. will -- and the Europeans will not pursue more sanctions with Iran if Iran suspends enriching uranium.

But the comments that we just heard moments ago really experts telling me, Heidi, that this boils down to psychological warfare in some respects between Iran, the United States and Israel.

COLLINS: Yes. I mean, it makes it kind of hard, does it not? To be talking about diplomacy?

VERJEE: Yes, it does. I mean, this really then becomes a test of wills. You have rhetoric that's increasing on both sides, and what it does is, it doesn't necessarily mean there is going to be war in two weeks, but what it does is it creates a pretty bad environment, an environment for confrontation and increases bellicosity on both sides. So it doesn't really help the situation, Heidi.

COLLINS: No, not at all. All right. CNN's State Department correspondent, Zain Verjee. Thank you, Zain.

HARRIS: Well, Barack Obama talking about his family's interview on "Access Hollywood" this morning. Hear what he has to say next in the NEWSROOM.


HARRIS: Unlock a hot car and elderly disabled couple. Boy, it was a deadly mix. Now, their 48-year-old son is in jail charged with reckless endangerment. Theodore Pressman's 85-year-old father died in the sweltering car on Monday. Pressman's mother was found wandering around nearby. A Deli (INAUDIBLE) owner says Pressman often left the couple in the restaurant.


RICK TOCCO, OWNER, ATRIUM CAFE: They never bothered anybody, but I could see, you know, the son would leave them, go somewhere, come back, get them, take them to the bathroom. He seemed to be doing the best he could for them.


HARRIS: Police say the elderly man's death has been ruled a homicide. And Pressman could face additional charges.

COLLINS: The economy, energy and campaign cash are all on the agenda for the presidential candidates today. Republican John McCain tours an energy company in Pennsylvania next hour. McCain is expected to discuss energy independence and the economy during the tour in South Park, Pennsylvania.

Barack Obama on Capitol Hill today for votes in the Senate including a vote on a domestic eves dropping bill. This evening, Obama holds a campaign fund-raiser in New York.

HARRIS: The Obamas up close and personal on a program that usual dishes on celebrities. The entire family sitting down with "Access Hollywood."

CNN's Carol Costello reports.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE) CAROL COSTELLO, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): It was billed on "The Today Show" as an Access Hollywood" exclusive.


MEREDITH VIEIRA, CO-HOST "The Today Show": The first interview with the entire Obama family.

Good morning to you, Maria. Congratulations.

MARIA MENOUNOS, "Access Hollywood:" Thank you, Meredith.


COSTELLO: It is unusual. There's a reason you rarely see the Obama kids' faces. The senator's campaign has asked news organizations not to take pictures of his kids, and they rarely do.

Example, this soccer game. News organizations shot dad, but not daughter Malia dribbling the ball. But on "Access Hollywood," a show that touts actor Matthew McConaughey's new baby and Christie Brinkley's lurid divorce, Obama's daughters took center stage.


MALIA OBAMA: Oh, mommy, you're in this, because I have never seen mommy in there.

MENOUNOS: Is it cool?

MALIA OBAMA: It's pretty cool, because I usually see people like Angelina Jolie.


MENOUNOS: Well, they didn't choose me necessarily. They chose "Access Hollywood." My producer, Steve Forrest (ph), worked really hard to get the interview with Michelle and the senator.

COSTELLO: Menounos, who also reports for "The Today Show" and "NBC Nightly News" -- and, yes, she's a spokesperson for Pantene shampoo, too.


MENOUNOS: It made my colored hair more brilliant.


COSTELLO: Says she was surprised when the Obamas allowed her access to their kids.

MENOUNOS: No one really expected them to open up so much. I know the campaign and their family were all huddled around, kind of surprised that the girls took over this whole interview, as was I. COSTELLO: She says her interview was meant only to show the Obama family dynamics, not to ask tough questions. And that's exactly why political observers say Obama chose this show to introduce his daughters.

DREW WESTEN, AUTHOR, "THE POLITICAL BRAIN": This is going to be a referendum on whether or not he's American enough to be president.

And I think, you know, and whether he's too different to be president. And I think what he really needs to show people is that he's a guy with a family. I mean, talk about family values. You sure saw them when you watched that clip.

COSTELLO: Westen says Obama should allow the media more access to his kids. Children can be powerful campaigners, but that's a decision difficult for any parent to make, even when dad is running for president.

(on camera): On the power of children campaigning, some say Chelsea Clinton was a very effective campaigner. But it was really her presence beside her mother that helped out Hillary Clinton the most. It showed Hillary Clinton as a warm, caring mom.

Carol Costello, CNN, Washington.


HARRIS: So here's the thing. You probably won't be seeing Barack Obama's children in any more TV interviews any time soon. Obama is having second thoughts about the family interview on "Access Hollywood." On NBC's "Today" show this morning, he says it was a little too much access.


SEN. BARACK OBAMA (D), PRESUMPTIVE PRESIDENTIAL NOMINEE: I think that we got carried away in the moment. We were having a birthday party and everybody was laughing and suddenly this thing cropped up and I didn't catch it quickly enough. And I was surprised by the attention it was getting.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: So if you had to do it over again?

OBAMA: We wouldn't do it again and we won't be doing it again.


HARRIS: Now, prior to the interview, Obama's children were kept out of the spotlight.

COLLINS: Are you a target for car thieves? The new list of most stolen cars is out. And your ride may be on it. We'll have it for you, coming up next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK) COLLINS: You already know to catch us weekday mornings from 9:00 a.m. until noon Eastern, but did you know you can take us with you anywhere you go on your iPod? The CNN NEWSROOM podcast available 24/7 right on your iPod.

HARRIS: So fountains of red hot lava and rivers of fire from Hawaii's Kilauea Volcano. The eruption spewing lava 30 feet into the air. Pretty cool. It's threatening one of the only remaining homes in the nearby subdivision. Last week, the lava path shifted with more flowing into the ocean. But officials say the flow into the sea has slowed to just a trickle.

COLLINS: Taking a crack at older cars. That the M.O. for car thieves according to insurance experts. Here are the top five most stolen cars last year. The 1995 Honda Civic has top the list four years in a row. Another Honda, the 1991 Accord is second, then comes 1989 Toyota Camry. The 1997 Ford F-150 and the 1994 Chevy 1500 pickup.

The value of the parts is what makes these vehicles more desirable for thieves according to the National Insurance Crime Bureau. The good news, auto thefts were actually down last year, dropping close to 10 percent nationwide.

HARRIS: So the problem is free gas luring customers to buy everything from food to drugs to sex.

Allan Chernoff has the story.


ALLAN CHERNOFF, CNN NEWS SENIOR CORRESPONDENT (voice over): In a lousy economy, you've got to motivate consumers and the motivator of the year is free gas. The promise of free fuel is how businesses are selling everything from candy bars to cars.

VINCENT TEPEDINO, BAY RIDGE CHRYSLER: It brought a lot of customers in that may not otherwise have bought our product.

FRED AUSTIN, CHRYSLER CUSTOMER: This is a good bargain, this is a good deal. You know? We as Americans, we all are looking for deals.

CHERNOFF: There are deals at the ballpark, $25 of gas if you buy four tickets to the San Francisco Giants. Free gas for less wholesale entertainment in Nevada. The women of the Shady Lady Ranch, a legal brothel, offer $150 gas cards for those who indulge in three hours of pleasure.

(on camera): Free gas promotions are in the supermarket, too. The Shop Rite chain is offering $25 gas cards to shoppers who buy $75 worth of major brand name products, so you can fight gingivitis and get free gas at the same time.

(voice over): For these pharmacists, gas is also a lure to take business from competitors. Transfer prescriptions to Rite Aid, the pharmacy will enter you into a weekly drawing for a year's worth of fuel.

MIKE POIRIER, RITE AID PHARMACIST: The more prescriptions they transfer with the coupon, the more chances they have to win.

CHERNOFF: And free gas is motivating good deeds. Connecticut's Red Cross enters blood donors in free gas raffles.

PAUL SULLIVAN, AMERICAN RED CROSS: The gas cards these days are highly valued and we're finding it to be a successful promotion.

CHERNOFF: The more you spend, the more gas you get. Buy Callaway's best driver, get it? -- and you'll have a fuel tank to get to the golf course.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This is the FTI, which is their square driver, also a composite head and this one is $500 and gets a $100 gas card rebate.

CHERNOFF: Or if you can afford it in this economy, rent a yacht for $20,000 an get $500 of gas. Let's not even think of how much gas that yacht is burning.

Allan Chernoff, CNN, New York.