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911 Tape Released in Oklahoma Killings; Obama Heading to Jordan; Zimbabwe's Last Chance?; China Struggles to Rid the Pollution Before the Start of the Summer Olympics; "The Dark Knight" Breaks Box Office Records

Aired July 21, 2008 - 14:00   ET


DON LEMON, CNN ANCHOR: No suspects. No motives. No breaks. Who killed two young Oklahoma girls?
Authorities hope a 911 tape will help them find out. They released it, and you'll hear it.

BETTY NGUYEN, CNN ANCHOR: He's part of a congressional delegation, but he is trying to look presidential. Barack Obama in the war zone.

LEMON: Plus, Dolly is on the move. And that has people in Texas and Mexico under a hurricane watch. They are keeping a close eye on that, and so is our meteorologist, Chad Myers.

Hello, everyone. I'm Don Lemon, live here at the CNN world headquarters in Atlanta.

NGUYEN: Hi, everybody, on this Monday. I'm Betty Nguyen, in for Kyra Philips.

You are in the CNN NEWSROOM.

Well, it has been about six weeks since someone shot and killed these two Oklahoma girls. And so far, hundreds of leads have led nowhere.

Our Rusty Dornin is here with the latest effort to energize this investigation.

It sounds like this 911 tape is really where they're placing all their hope.

RUSTY DORNIN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Right. Well, you have to realize that Taylor Placker and Skyla Whitaker were killed, they were shot to death on a remote road near -- about a half-mile from where they were staying in Weleetka, Kansas (sic). Now, they have no suspects. They've had 500 leads, but they just haven't led anywhere.

So, at six weeks after the fact, after their bodies were discovered, they finally released this 911 tape from the grandmother of one of the girls, hoping that it will compel someone to come forward. Let's listen.

(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP) UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Somebody's killed two girls, and one's my daughter's. My grandbaby, and her daughter, her friend. I'm on County Line Road.

OPERATOR: What happened now, ma'am?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I don't know. They went for a walk and they're both down there dead.

OPERATOR: They're down there dead?


OPERATOR: Your granddaughter?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes, and her friend!


DORNIN: Obviously very compelling to hear that woman so historical. And what's interesting, as well, is that the authorities brought forward someone called a victimologist who wants to explore their backgrounds, what kinds of likes, dislikes, friends, that sort of thing, to see if that can lead them or provides any other leads as to their killer.

Meantime, of course, it's a rural area. They're hoping -- it's a small town -- that someone will come forward after hearing this tape.

NGUYEN: Yes. Not only -- I mean, why would anyone want to kill two little girls walking down a road? But after all those leads, it is surprising that no suspects.

DORNIN: At this point, they don't have any.

NGUYEN: Well, maybe this will help.

OK, Rusty. Thank you.

LEMON: Let's talk some politics now.

Senator Barack Obama, on the ground, in the air, touring the war zone. You're seeing the very latest pictures -- there they are right there -- from his overseas trip which has now taken him to Iraq after a weekend in Afghanistan.

Now, here he is with General David Petraeus, the top American commander in Iraq. Obama's part of a congressional delegation, but his plans as a potential president are what everybody is talking about. He supports pulling U.S. troops from Iraq over a 16-month period, but GOP rival John McCain, who opposes any timetables, is criticizing Obama's war plans as naive and premature.

NGUYEN: Well, Obama's trip will take him beyond the war zone. His next stops include Jordan, Israel, the West bank, Germany, France and England. CNN's Hala Gorani is in Amman, Jordan, and she joins us now live as the rest of us prepare to see how this trip plays out -- Hala.

HALA GORANI, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Absolutely, how it plays out at home, Betty, but also how it plays out in the Middle East.

As you mentioned there, Barack Obama, the Democratic presidential hopeful, in Iraq, meeting Nuri al-Maliki, the Iraqi prime minister. He was, of course, in Afghanistan.

Tomorrow, he's expected to come here to Jordan, in Amman, where he will address journalists and also meet with the King Abdullah, a very firm U.S. ally. After that -- and this is what the Arab world will be looking to and listening to very carefully -- he will be going to Israel and the West bank, as well.

We surveyed the mood on the streets of Amman earlier today, and quite frankly, when I asked many of the people in downtown Amman what they thought of Barack Obama, the most common answer was, "Who is Barack Obama?" He does not have the rock star status here in the Middle East that he does in certain European countries, such as France, and many people are still waiting on word from him on what he plans to do, if he is elected, with foreign policy in the Middle East.

Many people in this part of the world, as you know, Betty, feel that whoever sits in the Oval Office, that policy that is devised in that room in the White House will have a direct impact on the lives of Middle Easterners. Iraq, Israel, Palestine, those are the main issues people are concerned with -- Betty.

NGUYEN: Well, Hala, maybe not the rock star status, but are they at least waiting anxiously to hear what he does have to say?

GORANI: I would say that after tomorrow and the next few days, when he reaches Israel, that statement that he made about Jerusalem, you'll remember, a few weeks ago did anger some people in the Middle East. He said Jerusalem shall remain, should remain, the capital of Israel, and should remain unified. He then said that that was poorly phrased.

So, people are going to wait and see and listen to what he says about that, that policy. That's definitely what's going to be on the top of the agenda for many people here -- Betty.

NGUYEN: Well, no doubt, people around the world will be watching very closely.

Hala Gorani joining us live from Amman, Jordan.

Thank you, Hala.

LEMON: There he is. He almost missed it. Well, you can see it.

He shoots. He scores. Barack Obama started his trip in Kuwait, where he shot some hoops and signed autographs for the U.S. troops there. But he spent most of the weekend in Afghanistan, where he chowed down with more American troops and met with President Hamid Karzai.

Obama has said he would commit more troops to Afghanistan, where violence has surged in recent months.

NGUYEN: For Republican John McCain, private talks today with a former president. The Arizona senator stopped off in Kennebunkport, Maine, this morning for a visit with President Bush's father. Then he headed to a picnic at the Maine Military Museum in Portland.

McCain, who supported the so-called troop surge in Iraq, says he's glad his Democratic opponent is getting a first-hand look at the situation there. Senator Obama opposed the surge.


SEN. JOHN MCCAIN (R-AZ), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: When you win wars, troops come home. And we are winning.

And the fact is, if we had done what Senator Obama wanted to do, we would have lost. And we would have faced a wider war. And we would have had greater problems in Afghanistan and the entire region. And Iran would have increased their influence.

So let's have no doubt about the consequences of pursuing what Senator Obama wanted to do, which was complete opposition to the surge, said that there was no way it could succeed. And said, in fact, that ethnic violence -- that sectarian violence would increase, rather than decrease. So, he's been completely wrong on the issue.


NGUYEN: Meanwhile, top Republicans are furious at "The New York Times" over the paper's refusal to print an opinion piece from John McCain. The paper's decision comes less than a week after it printed an op-ed by Democrat Barack Obama. And in that piece, Obama outlined his plans for Iraq.

Now, in an e-mail to the McCain campaign, the paper's op-ed editor, David Shipley, says Obama's essay offered new information, and McCain would have to spell out in his essay how he would define victory in Iraq. Shipley says he would pleased to look at another draft.

Well, a McCain spokesman tells CNN, "John McCain believes that victory in Iraq must be based on conditions on the ground, not arbitrary timetables. Unlike Barack Obama, that position will not change based on politics or the demands of "The New York Times."

Well, you won't read Senator McCain's op-ed in its current form in "The New York Times," but you can read it right now by logging onto our Web site,


NGUYEN: Well, a sliver of hope for Zimbabwe. But will an agreement to hold talks help end months of violence?

Well, you know who is planning to sit down together. And what it might mean for this troubled country, we'll explain.


LEMON: After months of violence and years of political and economic turmoil, it could be Zimbabwe's last chance. Longtime President Robert Mugabe and his bitter rival, opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai, met for the first time in a decade today and agreed to talk about resolving the country's immense problems.

Nkepile Mabuse joins us in Johannesburg, South Africa, with the very latest -- Nkepile.

NKEPILE MABUSE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Don, history unfolded in Zimbabwe today. Opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai and Robert Mugabe, who's the current president of Zimbabwe, a very criticized president and rejected by the international community, and rejected by some of his peers here, coming together for the very first time, face to face. In 10 years, they have never had a face-to-face meeting.

And they've now signed this memorandum of understanding that is supposed to pave the way forward for a political settlement in Zimbabwe. But many people here in the region, in Southern Africa, are looking at this with cautious optimism, because Zanu-PF and the MDC, the opposition, have been engaged in talks before, and these talks have collapsed because of issues that they couldn't agree upon.

So, everybody is looking on. It really is a wait-and-see game at the moment to see whether they follow through with what they agreed upon today.

LEMON: Since that meeting, Nkepile, has the violence stopped or slowed since they have met?

MABUSE: Not at all, Don. Well, before that meeting, and as that meeting was happening, we were receiving pictures, fresh pictures from Zimbabwe, smuggled. Obviously, CNN is not allowed to report in Zimbabwe. We've been banned there, along with other international news agencies. But we have received more horrific pictures of opposition supporters who claim that they have been tortured.

Some women saying that they have been raped by the government- sponsored militia. So, the violence has not subsided. And the MDC has said this has got to be part of the talks, it has got to form part of the talks that will take place for two weeks to try and stop the violence in Zimbabwe.

LEMON: Nkepile Mabuse, thank you very much for your reporting -- Betty.

NGUYEN: Dire straits. We're going to tell you how a passageway for oil could become a choke point for international tensions and put a strain on your wallets.


NGUYEN: Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice chastised Iran today over weekend talks about its nuclear program. Rice accused the Iranians of dragging their feet during the multilateral talks aimed at getting Tehran to suspend uranium enrichment. The meeting was viewed as groundbreaking because, for the first time, a senior State Department official was on hand, although just as a observer. Despite hope Iran would give ground, the Iranians once again vowed to continue enrichment, which it says is for peaceful purposes.

In remarks to CNN, Rice warns that could result in new sanctions.


CONDOLEEZZA RICE, SECRETARY OF STATE: The world is sending Iran a message on both tracks. First of all, there are consequences for continuing to defy the will of the international community: continued economic isolation, continued isolation that is leading to an ever- worsening economic situation in Iran. And on the other hand, a pathway out. Suspend and negotiate.


NGUYEN: The bottom line from the talks in Switzerland, Iran has two weeks to agree to freeze enrichment and start negotiations or be hit with new penalties.

LEMON: The Strait of Hormuz, a passageway for much of the world's oil. Iran says it could choke off those supplies if it comes under attack. Tensions are high, and so are the stakes.

CNN's Wilf Dinnick is there as a U.S.-led task force patrols the seas.


WILF DINNICK, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): This destroyer is cutting through the waters of one of the world's most strategic locations: the Strait of Hormuz. About 40 percent of the world's crude oil moves through this narrow passage. This vessel is part of a U.S.-led task force to ensure security. In the past, Iran has threatened to block the strait's narrow choke point to the Persian Gulf if attacked.

Bob Davidson is the commander of the task force.

CMDR. BOB DAVIDSON, HMCS IROQUOIS: I'm not surprised that they would say those things. As I said, I don't think it's in their interest or ours to close the strait. So I think they would only do something like that in an extreme circumstance.

DINNICK: The Revolutionary Guard can use small boats and sea mines, according to naval officials here. They say that could be a serious threat to even a massive destroyer.

Given tensions between the U.S. and Iran, the commander keeps a close watch here. If there's trouble, he could have up to 15 ships as his disposal.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Assume port protection save (ph) yellow.

DINNICK: This ship goes on alert when it enters the strait, an unsettling operation for the captain.

CAPT. BRENDAN RYAN, HMCS IROQUOIS: My primary concern going through the Strait of Hormuz is the choke point. I have limited options for where I can go. The Strait of Hormuz is only 20 to 25 miles wide.

DINNICK: Not much room to navigate, especially in the crowded shipping lanes.

There aren't just oil tankers here, but also cargo ships, pirates and drug-runners. The vessel does not rely solely on sophisticated radar systems. Several spotters also crowd the bridge, keeping an eye out.

(on camera): Here on the bridge, they're trying to identify every single boat out there. They're looking for an anomaly, any boat that seems out of place. The real threat here is an attack from a small, unidentified vessel.

(voice-over): There have already been incidents with Iranian boats. Earlier this year, the U.S. accused Iranian Revolutionary Guard boats of harassing and provoking U.S. Navy ships. Iran reportedly said it was not a serious incident. No shots were fired. But there are concerns here that a situation could spin out of control.

The commander says Revolutionary Guard boats will often pull alongside the task force ships. A few tense moments of checking each other out, and they move on. The task force and crew constantly watching from all angles this narrow strait of water. A massive military presence just off the coast of Iran sending a message they are ready for whatever may come.

Wilf Dinnick, CNN, aboard the HMCS Iroquois in the Strait of Hormuz.


NGUYEN: We want to take you live now to Portland, Maine. You see right there John McCain speaking. This is a picnic at the Maine Military Museum. A large group of veterans are in the crowd, as well as Senators Susan Collins and Olympia Snowe.

Let's take a listen.


MCCAIN: I, from Arizona, ran for president of the United States. And my friends, Arizona may be the only state in America where mothers don't tell their children that someday they can grow up and be president of the United States. But with a victory here in Maine, and a victory across this country, I will reverse that unhappy tradition of the state of Arizona, and I will be the next president of the United States with your help and your support.

And I need it. I need the vote and consideration of every single citizen here.

And of course I'm honored. I'm honored to have the veterans here. And I'm honored to have the people who are here who love our country, as the people of the state of Maine do.

And I'm honored to have the opportunity and humbled to have the nomination of the party of Abraham Lincoln and Theodore Roosevelt and Ronald Reagan. And I am humbled to be here.


And I'd just like to talk to you about two issues with you very briefly. And it has to do with our nation's security. And the first one is our dependence on foreign oil.

Now, everybody here knows what's happened to the price of a gallon of gas and a barrel of oil. And we know that people across this country are hurting in a number of ways, but one of them are lowest-income Americans who are driving the oldest automobiles and hurting the most. Some of them can't even get to work. So it's not only an economic issue -- and it's a compelling economic issue -- but it's a national security issue.

My friends, we are sending $700 billion a year to countries that don't like us very much. And some of that money ends up in the hands of terrorist organizations.

I will end this dependence on foreign oil. I will end it. I will end it. And I have a plan to end it.

And my friends, it's got to do with wind and tide and solar and nuclear power. And I know nuclear power is controversial, my friends. Our United States Navy has been sailing ships around the world for 60 years with nuclear power plants on it. We've never had an accident. And I'm telling you, it is doable.

My opponent, Senator Obama, doesn't want to reprocess. And he doesn't want to store waste -- nuclear wasted -- excess nuclear fuel. So, here's the deal. Here's the deal.

My friends, we will build 45 nuclear power plants, and that will employee 700,000 people in the next several years.

And my friends, in the case of spent nuclear fuel, spent nuclear fuel, the French -- the French -- we always want to imitate the French -- they reprocess their spent nuclear fuel, my friends. And they do it safely.

And by the way, in case you missed it, we now have a pro-American president in France, which shows if you live long enough, anything can happen in this world. So -- and we're grateful for him. (APPLAUSE)

But we have to address the issue of spent nuclear fuel. And we can and will.

And my friends, we can become independent. And we will become independent. And we must. And it has to do with automobiles that will take a car 200 miles. It has to do with clean coal technology.

We sit on the world's largest reserves of coal. And we can develop the clean coal technology necessary. And all of us are willing to invest in it.

So, there's a lot of things we can do, my friends. But America needs to be called to this mission. And America has always responded whenever we've had a challenge, whether it be to go to the moon or whether it be to win. The great challenge of our time -- and some of our veterans are here from our greatest generation.

And thank you and God bless you.

We can and we will accomplish this mission of energy independence.

NGUYEN: And you've been listening to Senator John McCain, live in Portland, Maine, as he's speaking to the Maine Military Museum, talking a lot about security, and especially dependence on foreign oil. He says he has a plan to end America's dependence on foreign oil, and he was spelling out a little bit of that there.

Of course, we'll continue to monitor this and bring you the latest.

In the meantime, though, closed and secret, what life in Myanmar is like more than two months after the devastating cyclone. I'll tell you what I saw and learned from a recent trip there.


NGUYEN: We are working on a lot for you today. It is about half past the hour. And here is what we're bringing to you.

Oklahoma authorities release a dramatic 911 tape, six weeks after the shooting deaths of two young girls. On it, a relative of one of the victims is heard screaming that she found the girls' bodies on a country road. Authorities hope the tape will bring out witnesses to the unsolved killings.

Parts of the Texas and Mexican coasts are under a hurricane watch as Tropical Storm Dolly gains strength in the Gulf of Mexico. Forecasters say Dolly could grow into a hurricane by tomorrow.

And major, new developments out of Zimbabwe, where President Robert Mugabe and the opposition leader have agreed to power-sharing talks. The deal follows months of deadly violence sparked by a disputed presidential election. LEMON: We have some new developments, Betty, as well on the political front.

Senator Barack Obama on the ground, in the air, touring the war zone. You're seeing the latest pictures from his overseas trip, which has now taken him to Iraq after a weekend in Afghanistan.

Now, here he is with General David Petraeus, the top American commander in Iraq. Obama's part of a congressional delegation, but his plans as a potential president are what everyone is talking about.

Straight to Baghdad now and CNN's Frederik Pleitgen.

Frederik, give us the latest, please.


Barack Obama spent the better part of the day here in Baghdad, talking to top Iraqi officials. The most important of which is of course Iraq's Prime Minister, Nuri al-Maliki. Those talks were described as being very productive. Al-Maliki's side later told us that Barack Obama praised the Iraqi leader, but also said he feels that Iraqis still have to enact very important laws that would drive political reconciliation here in this country. And as you said, officially, this is a political fact-finding mission, a congressional fact-finding mission.

And I was actually at one of the venues today where I saw Barack Obama meet Iraq's vice president. And it seemed as though he was very much bent on not making this look like he's campaigning in Iraq, not making this look like a campaign photo opportunity. After his meeting with Hashimi, we asked him what his assessment was of the situation of the ground, whether he would change his own assessment that he had before coming here. And he just simply did not want to talk about it. He said the talks were still ongoing. And he didn't want to make any further notice of it.

But of course, as you said, his plans for this country are on everyone's minds here. He said of course, before, that he wants to shift focus from the front here in Iraq, to Afghanistan. And that's something that a lot of people here are looking to get answers from him for -- Don.

LEMON: And we understand that Obama did not go straight to Baghdad during this trip?

PLEITGEN: Yes, you're absolutely right. That was somewhat of a surprise.

The first place that he visited here in Iraq was the southern town of Basra, which of course is a town that has predominantly British forces there. And he met with a British commander, with American commanders, and also with an Iraqi commander there on the ground. He later then went to Baghdad.

And you had those photos of him taking the helicopter tour with General David Petraeus there over Baghdad. And I overheard him talking about that helicopter tour. And he was saying he was surprised at how much life he saw in the streets below him in Baghdad.

He of course visited Baghdad in 2006. And he said the situation on the ground seemed very different now that he's here, Don.

LEMON: All right. Thank you, Frederik Pleitgen in Baghdad. We appreciate your reporting.

Let's talk now about Myanmar. Under military leaders, Myanmar is a closed and secretive country, a very secretive society as well. The reason is simple; the government doesn't want the outside world to know how it treats its impoverished people, especially after that devastating cyclone more than two months ago.

My co-anchor here, Betty Nguyen, recently slipped into Myanmar, and here is a brief look at what she saw.


NGUYEN: To get down to the Irrawaddy Delta, we have to leave under the cover of darkness. The last thing we need right now is to be stopped.

(voice-over): We hopped from different modes of transportation, all the while, feeling like fugitives on the run.

(on camera): It's really the only way to get down there and bypass the check points. It's going to be a long ride.

(voice-over): And a rough one. We slept in stifling conditions, and lived off little more than bottled water and Powerbars. After 21 hours, we finally made it, though it normally takes only four hours to get here. And judging from the devastation, it doesn't look like much has changed in the two months since the cyclone struck. Debris still littered villages. We had to work quickly, capturing what we could, never knowing when we might get caught.

Trekking through muddy fields, over make-shift bridges and right into rice paddies. We came across an eerie discovery, bodies, still rotting in the delta. I knew we would find them. I just didn't know how haunting it would be.

Yet, just a few feet away, the living press on. It's a place where slivers of hope can be found in the eyes of the young, so happy and full of life. And for a brief moment, you almost forget they've seen more pain than most people can imagine.


LEMON: And Betty, we talked -- I saw you briefly before you left, and you seemed frantic like you were on a mission. I know this is very -- the story is very near to your heart. You wanted to go and do this because you are an incredible reporter. We all know that. You sit in this anchor desk --

NGUYEN: Thank you.

LEMON: And you said, I'm going on assignment, Don, I wish I could tell you about it but I can't. It was very secretive. You had to keep it close to the vest, especially -- and then getting there as well.

Talk to us about the plans and how tough that was.

NGUYEN: Well it was difficult because first of all, it's hard just to get into the country, especially for someone with an American passport like myself. So it was very difficult, one, just to get there. And plus, they don't even allow foreign journalists in the country. So this was a very tricky maneuver for us.

But just getting there, being in that taxi and looking at the maps, that's when the frustration really started, because you can't get down to the Irrawaddy Delta. There are military check points set up in nearly every city leading to the delta. So we worked for days trying to figure out a plan to get down there because the story needed to be told. It's been two months since the cyclone devastation. What kind of progress has been made? And that's what we wanted to go and fin.

LEMON: And you said, listen guys, we've got to get here. We've come halfway around the world. And I know that -- I think your trip in order to get there was supposed to take four hours.

NGUYEN: It takes four hours by car.

LEMON: Right.

NGUYEN: But because we had to bypass all of those military check points, we had to hop on different modes of transportation. We also had to dress in disguise. I don't know if you recall the black and white footage, the night vision, I'm wearing one of the Burmese skirts because we really had to blend in as best as possible --

LEMON: No lights.

NGUYEN: -- because had we gotten caught, one, we faced deportation and whatever else would have come after that. But the people with us, the locals helping us, faced imprisonment. And that was something we really didn't want to risk.

And those pictures that you see there, it's part of that journey down to the delta. And once we got there, that's when you meet the people, the people who have been through so much. And to get out there, we had to cross these makeshift bridges, which you see there. We had to walk through rice paddies, right up on to where dead bodies are laying there along the delta.

LEMON: That was my next question to you. You talked to me -- you talked just about the people, but then what you saw, when you saw dead bodies. And -- even as a reporter, you go there as someone who has to tell a story, but you can't help but be affected by it.

Talk to us about what you saw, seeing the dead bodies, and seeing the lack of resources that those people had.

NGUYEN: It was heartbreaking because, one, you try to prepare yourself for what you're about to see. You know you're going to see it. But then you're human, too, and you want to be ready for it. And you want to be a journalist, you want to be able to tell the story and bring the truth out.

Well, the truth is those bodies are still there. And no one should have to live like that, walking among the dead. And then the dead should not be just lying there, rotting along the delta. So that was hard.

But I think most importantly, it was difficult for me to talk to people who had lost everything. These are poor farmers who are just trying to scratch out a living as it is. They had very little. And when you lose that, it's all you have.

This woman right here, holding a picture of her only daughter, she is a farmer. And this little girl, who was 17 when she died in the cyclone, was their only hope. They used every bit of their additional income, their extra money, to put her through school, so that she would have an education, so she wouldn't have to live like them and she would have a better and brighter future. Now, she is gone. That was their only child. And that mother there, really has no hope for the future.

LEMON: And full transparency here, Betty is an amazing person. Not only on the air, but off the air. And she has a charity, and is helping me with starting mine, which will have to do with Africa. And yours has to do with Vietnam.

NGUYEN: Helping the hungry.

LEMON: Helping the hungry.

And so I want to know from you, did this change you as a person, seeing this?

NGUYEN: I think it really hurt me as a person, because I went in as a journalist. And I didn't have anything to give. All I could do was give them a voice to the rest of the world, have them tell their story. But I had nothing to help them out with their situation. I didn't have any aid to bring them.

And when I go in and do humanitarian aid work, at least I know that I'm bringing them something. These folks, all I could do was stick a microphone in their face and put a video camera in their face and tell their stories. And hopefully that will bring, in some way, some kind of positive change.

LEMON: In many ways that is the best way to help out, is to bring focus and a voice to it. And you did that.

Betty, we appreciate your reporting.

NGUYEN: Thank you. LEMON: CNN NEWSROOM continues after a break.


LEMON: OK. We have this just in to the CNN NEWSROOM. More bad news for people taking the drug Vytorin. Researchers are holding a news conference right now.

And Elizabeth Cohen joins me now. She is monitoring these new developments.

Elizabeth, what's going on with that press conference? I know you have been listening in.

ELIZABETH COHEN, CNN MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: I've been listening in. And Don, you know, on your show, we have talked a lot about Vytorin and heart disease. Well this time, questions are being raised about Vytorin and cancer.

Let's take a look at the results of a recent European study. They found, when they studied people on Vytorin, and studied people who were on placebo, on basically nothing, 93 people on Vytorin got cancer and 65 got placebo. So it is clear that more people in this study got cancer when they were taking Vytorin.

Now, this study was published by Schering-Plough which makes this drug. And the researchers say, look, this finding could simply be by chance, it doesn't mean that Vytorin caused these folks to get cancer.

Now Don, this is on top of some other studies -- some other findings in this study. Vytorin is supposed to lower your risk of getting certain heart problems. But when you look at the heart problems that they addressed in this study, it didn't lower the risk of for most of the heart problems that they studied.

LEMON: All right. Have you heard anything -- and I know they are having this press conference now, but are cardiologists responding to any of this?

COHEN: They certainly are.

We've been talking to cardiologists. And here is the general consensus from the American College of Cardiology: they say Vytorin should be used as a drug of "last resort." Those are the words that they used. They say if you have cholesterol problems, there are statins you can use, there are other drugs you can use. Only use Vytorin when they other things do not work. And that is general consensus among many cardiologists.

LEMON: All right. Details to come, that still going on. You're going to continue to listen.

COHEN: That's right.

LEMON: And if you get any more news please let us know.

COHEN: We certainly will.

LEMON: Thank you, Elizabeth.

NGUYEN: And coming up, how some people are saving a few bucks when they fill up at the gas station.


LEMON: Paper or plastic? It's no longer just a choice at the supermarket. You may face the question at your corner gas station, as well.

CNN's Jim Acosta explains.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Regular, fill it up, cash.

JIM ACOSTA, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Better stop at the ATM before pulling into this gas station in New Jersey.

PAUL KELLY, SUNOCO GAS STATION OWNER: What we're trying to do now is to give our customers a savings.

ACOSTA: That's because the owner, Paul Kelly, is offering a big 10 cent discount to drivers carrying cash. He said he's tired of being charged a fee by the credit card companies every time a customer pays with plastic.

KELLY: If we pay 3 percent on average, or even a little less than that on a credit card fee at $4 a gallon, and I'm making $0.12 a gallon, that's my entire profit.

ACOSTA: On a gas purchase totaling $100, roughly $3 would go to the credit card company, depending on the card.

SAL RISALVATO, N.J. GAS-CONVENIENCE-AUTO ASSN.: The world is fixated on the oil companies, the price of oil, the price of gasoline. And while everybody is fixated on that, the credit card companies are quietly laughing all the way to the bank.

ACOSTA: Sal Risalvato, who represents gas stations across New Jersey, says the so-called interchange fees can be crushing.

RISALVATO: Many dealers just cannot stay in business any longer.

ACOSTA (on-camera): According to one trade publication, nationwide, nearly 3,000 gas stations have closed in the last year. This one on the Jersey Shore won't even reopen. The land is being offered up for townhouses.

(voice-over): The credit card company's response: don't blame us.

In a statement, an industry spokeswoman says "The oil companies restrict what the gas station owners can charge per gallon. The oil companies are squeezing them."

Still, late last month, Visa announced it was lowering its fees on fuel purchases.

(on camera): Every little bit helps these days?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Oh, yes. You've got to save every dime you can.

ACOSTA (voice-over): Back at the gas station, we found that cash discount got some customers revved up. But one man who didn't read the sign paid the price, as in the credit price.

(on camera): You're now having to pay 10 cents more a gallon because you swiped your credit card.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes. No, I don't think that's fair.

KELLY: It's a matter of survival for us.

ACOSTA (voice-over): Last year, convenience stores alone paid $7.6 billion in credit card fees. So what's happening at the nation's gas stations may spread to other retailers, putting a whole new premium on plastic.

Jim Acosta, CNN, Lavalette, New Jersey.


NGUYEN: Well speaking of, crude oil prices, up $3 today after sharp declines last week. Who do we have to thank for the momentary reprieve? Well, you might be surprised.'s Poppy Harlow has more on that and our Energy Fix from New York.

All right, so, who do we owe it to, Poppy?

POPPY HARLOW, CNNMONEY.COM: This is such a surprise. When you think of all the countries that can affect the price of oil, Mexico does not come to mind most likely. But our very own Steve Hargreaves here at wrote a great story saying Mexico may have played a pretty big role in the recent price declines that we saw in oil last week. Up today, but oil falling $16 a barrel just last week.

The question is, why? A source with a lot of information on the story says that Mexico, the world's fifth-largest oil producer, hedged this sale price of oil. So what on earth does that mean? Well, you may have heard about airlines hedging on fuel prices, or buying tomorrow's jet fuel at today's prices; they do it to protect against prices running up. But Mexico seems to be doing the same thing, in reverse.

They're locking in today's sales price, just in case the price of oil goes down at a later date. In other words, Mexico is betting $140 oil, which is a pretty good oil, a price where they can make a hefty profit. So it decided to lock in that price, Betty, just in case oil prices fall down the road. Something a lot of people hadn't heard of. NGUYEN: Really, OK? So explain it to us. Why would that make the price go down?

HARLOW: A lot of this has to do with the mentality, right, the fear of oil prices going up and the fact that Mexico has essentially placed a bet that the price of oil has already peaked. That raised a lot of eyebrows.

We've heard about speculators driving the price of oil up. But they can just as easily drive the price of oil down. And what it does, it causes a bandwagon effect. If Mexico thinks the price has hit a peak, perhaps other oil-producing nations will, as well. So far, we haven't seen major producers, like Saudi Arabia, making similar moves. But, if they do, Betty, you're going to see oil prices fall dramatically. That of course, would be a huge Energy Fix for all of us.

And as you just heard in the piece right before, for the gas station owners, as well. And it's hard to celebrate oil right now, above $130 a barrel. To move in the right direction and on our site,, there's a great piece. If you want to beat gas at $4, it is the 10 best places to beat the gas crunch. I can tell you it's not here in New York City -- Betty.

NGUYEN: Hey, maybe it's somewhere near Atlanta. I'll take it if it is.

OK. Thank you, Poppy.


LEMON: Countdown to the summer Olympics. Will China be able to clear the air of heavy pollution?


LEMON: China's got a new clean air campaign. They're trying to curb pollution ahead of the Olympic Games.

And CNN's John Vause has the latest.


JOHN VAUSE, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Eighteen days before the Olympics. And Beijing still can't breathe easy. With this sprawling city of 17 million, wading through its usual heavy haze of pollution. To clear the air, hundreds of factories in the capital and beyond are now closed. Others have cut production, more than a million cars are off the road. And work on all construction sites is on hold.

Thousands of workers have been sent home, an unpaid vacation, many say they didn't want.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translator): We wanted to work hard for a long time, he says. But because of the Olympics, we don't have jobs anymore.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translator): No work mean no pay, says another.

VAUSE: The government has opened new subway lines and put more buses on the roads and has lowered the cost of fares. It's a last- minute, drastic scramble to reduce pollution, a plan which has no absolute guarantee of success.

MALCOM GREEN, BRITISH LUNG FOUNDATION: To my knowledge, this has never been done before. Somebody take a city and hugely reduce the amount of polluting sources. Cars and factories. And it will be fascinating to see what does happen.

VAUSE: Olympic officials admit they're hoping for a stiff breeze and some good rain to wash the air clean. If that doesn't happen, pollution levels might stay stubbornly high.

GEORGE THURSTON, NYU, ENVIRONMENTAL MEDICINE: And if they put on the control measures, my expectation is there'd still be probably at least double what the pollution levels would normally by in a city like New York.

VAUSE (on camera): All of this is just a quick fix for the Olympics and the Paralympics. After mid-September, the factories will fire up, the construction will restart. And all of the cars will be back. And so will the pollution.

John Vause, CNN, Beijing.


NGUYEN: Well, when they say there was no such thing as a free lunch there weren't kidding, whoever they are. Look at that. How one guy paid at the diner.


NGUYEN: Move over. "The Dark Knight" proves he is the ultimate super hero. This latest "Batman" sequel raked in more than $55 million over the weekend. And all of you who stood in line, and even some who dressed up, helped set that record. Previous record-holder, "Spider-Man 3," brought in a mere $151 million last year.