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Anthrax Investigation; Wildfires; Pet Food Banks; Saddam Hussein's Yacht

Aired August 02, 2008 - 12:00   ET


KELLI ARENA, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Another irony, according to sources, Ivins even helped analyze some of the anthrax found in letters used in the attacks. The Justice Department is being tight- lipped saying investigative documents remain under seal and it has to brief victims and families before the public. One of those victims is former Senator Tom Daschle.
TOM DASCHLE, FMR SENATOR: I'm angered by the fact we've been so left out in the dark, really and unaware of what the circumstances are. I think we owed more than that.

ARENA: Several officials say the FBI may soon close the investigation into the attacks that killed five people, indicating Ivins was the lone suspect.


ARENA: But there are skeptics, from members of Congress to Anthrax victims who say the government may be wrong. It focused for years on scientist Stephen Hatfield, even publicly identified him as a person of interest, then had to pay him millions when he sued. Those doubters say that Ivins won't have that opportunity. Kelli Arena, CNN, Washington.

LUI: Bruce Ivins has been described as brilliant but troubled scientist. CNN's Brianna Keilar joins us in Fort Dietrich in Maryland which Houses the lab where Ivins did research.

Brianna, good day to you. What is the latest you're hearing there?

BRIANNA KEILAR, CNN NEWS CORRESPONDENT: Well, Richard, actually, Bruce Ivins lived just down the street from this biodefense lab at Fort Dietrich and neighbors here are very surprised and saddened by this. They say that he was very dedicated to his community, that he was very involved in his church, and I should say, though, Tom Ivins, Bruce Ivins older brother, basically said that he wouldn't put it past his brother, wouldn't put it past his brother, the 2001 Anthrax attacks. He said he spoke with federal investigators, although he couldn't disclose exactly what he told them.


TOM IVINS, BRUCE IVINS' BROTHER: ...some things my brother's, I told them, that was it, and a very nice chat for about three to four hours. Wow. They left and went to a restaurant, and bought me a sandwich and a beer, I came back home. That was it.


KEILAR: Now, we should tell you that Tom Ivins and his brother, Bruce, were estranged. They hadn't spoken for some time and Tom Ivins says, in fact, that he'd never, ever spoken with his brother about the Anthrax attack investigation. Of course, as you heard before in Kelli Arena's piece, Ivins lawyer contends she innocent and in the end it was just the suspicion and the innuendo that became too much and prompted him 20 take his life -- Richard.

LUI: Now, Brianna, there were some signs recently that Ivins was a troubled man. What do you know about that?

KEILAR: Yeah, at the time of his death, he was actually under a temporary restraining order, it was brought against him by a female therapist who alleged that she was being harassed, stalked and Ivins was threatening, basically, physical violence against her. She was actually supposed to, she's subpoenaed to testify before a federal grand jury in Washington, yesterday. That hearing actually cancelled in light of his death.

LUI: Brianna Keilar with the latest. Thank you so much for that.

You know, with the prime Anthrax suspect dead, what now? We've put that question to our legal guys who will join us, right here, in about 30 minutes. Stick around for that.

Let's turn now to U.S. Health officials that say they've been underestimating the number of U.S. citizens infected with the AIDS virus. The Centers for Disease Control now says 56,300 U.S. citizens were infected with HIV in 2006, that number is up sharply from the previous estimate of 40,000. Officials say the new figure does not imply the epidemic is getting worse. They say improved blood tests and new statistical methods are making the count more accurate.

You know, some Republican lawmakers refuse to go home after the House adjourned for August recess, they staged a protest meeting and even recruited unsuspected tourists, Boy Scouts and staffers to fill House chambers. This you see here, is YouTube video of that protest which included six hours of impromptu speeches, the wanted to pressuring Democrats to hold a vote on offshore oil drilling and other GOP energy initiatives. Democrats pulled a similar stunt in 1995 during an intense budget standoff to led to a government shutdown.

Wildfires have parts of Washington State on alert, today. Evacuations orders may go in effect around the city of Ohmack if a wildfire gets worse. At least 1,000 acres have burned so far. The second fire forced dozens of people in nearby Grand Coolie Dam to evacuate.

Then we take you to California, that wildfire near Yosemite National Park, we've been covering all week, now 60 percent contained. Forty-five families are still waiting to go home, 21 families not have homes to go home to, right now. Hey, Reynolds Wolf, you've been reporting on this yourself, and you're also looking at the weather for us. Any sort of reprieve for these folks to try to get control of these fires?

REYNOLDS WOLF, CNN METEOROLOGIST: A little bit of reprieve. And the best reprieve is going to sound like I'm talking out of both sides of my mouth, so I got to be careful, here. The weather is going to remain very dry. At the same time, the wind is not going to be that strong. So, you don't want dry weather when you're battling a blaze, but the very weak wind conditions, it's perfect for the aircraft get to up. We're talking about the fixed wing, the rotary aircraft to drop fire retardant or best one of the best fire retardants of all, water, on this place.

But, I'll tell you, they are doing a magnificent job out in Yosemite, they have 4,500 firefighters out there battling the blaze. Still a rough time for them, but they're at least going to make progress, today.


LUI: So Reynolds, don't walk barefoot in Dallas on the pavement, huh?

WOLF: Dude, if you walked barefoot on the streets of Dallas, your feet would be sticking to the sidewalk.

LUI: You will have no more feet is what you're saying.

WOLF: That's what I'm talking about, you'll just be walking with -- yeah, feet will be gone.

LUI: Good advice. Reynolds Wolf, thank you, talk in a little bit.

Suffering through tough times. Places to turn when there's no money for pet food.


LUI: To help you make an informed choice in the presidential election, we're doing a lot for you. From now until November we're going to play more of what the candidates are saying in their own words on the campaign trail.

Republican presidential candidate John McCain spoke to National Urban League, Friday in Orlando. Listen to what he had to say about improving education.


JOHN MCCAIN (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Over the years, Americans have heard a lot of tired rhetoric about education. We've heard it in the endless excuses of people who seem more concerned about their own position and about our children. We've heard it from politicians who accept the status quo, rather than stand up for real change in our public schools.

Parents ask only for schools that are safe, teachers who are competent and diplomas that open the doors of opportunity. When a public schools fail repeatedly to meet these minimal objectives, parents ask only for a choice in the education of their children.

Some parents may choose a better public school, some may choose a private school, many will choose a charter school. No entrenched bureaucracy or union should deny parents that choice and our children that opportunity.

We should also offer more choices for those who wish to become teachers. Many thousands of highly qualified men and women have great knowledge, wisdom and experience to offer public school students, but a monopoly on teacher certification prevents them from getting that chance.

You can be today a Nobel laureate and not qualify to teach in most public schools today, because they don't have all of the proper credits in educational theory or methodology. All they have is learning and the desire and ability to share it. If we're putting the interests of students first, than those qualifications should be enough.

If I'm elected president, school choice for all who want it, and expansion of opportunity scholarships and alternative certification for teachers will be part of a serious agenda for education reform.

I will target funding to recruit teachers who graduate in the top 25 percent of their class, or who participate in an alternative teacher recruitment program such as Teach for America, the American Board of Certification of Teacher Excellence, and the New Teacher Project. We'll pay bonuses to teachers who take on the challenge, and it's a great challenge, of working in our most troubled schools, because we need -- we need their fine minds and good hearts to help turn those schools around.

We'll award bonuses, as well, to our highest achieving teachers and no longer will we measure teacher achievement by conformity to process. We'll measure it by the success of their students.


LUI: All right, John McCain, there. Now, later this hour for you, you'll hear from Democratic presidential candidate, Barack Obama, in his own words.

Hey, Mickey wants more cheese. Beginning tomorrow, you'll pay a few extra buck for a one-day ticket to Disney theme park and Walt Disney World in Florida. One trip to the Magic Kingdom will cost adults 75 smackers, kids gets get in for 63 and a hopper pass will set you back another 50.

All right, now daily tickets back west in Disneyland in California, that's up $3 a pop, 69 bucks for adults, 59 for kids. A little more expensive to have fun. You know, another sign of tough economic times for you, people bringing their animals to shelters saying they can no longer afford to feed them. It's happening in cities all across the United States. CNN's Rusty Dornin shows how pet owners are getting some much-needed help.


RUSTY DORNIN, CNN NEWS CORRESPONDENT (voice over): Last week, Regina Upchurch, couldn't afford to fill 5-month-old Shala's (ph) bowl with regular dog food, so gave her table scraps. Upchurch does seasonal tax work and security at the local sports arena, she's raising two grandchildren. Like many others, she's and strapped for cash right now.

And how about some treats?

DORNIN: But then Upchurch heard about this. The Help Save Our Pets Food Bank in Atlanta.

REGINA UPCHURCH, PET OWNER: I couldn't believe it. I said, no, nobody's going to give us no food to help me feed my baby this month and sure enough, they say yes, there wasn't no, why you need it...

DORNIN: No questions, just enough food for one month. The food bank is the brainchild of animal lover, Ann King, who knows many pet owners are suffering tough times.

ANN KING, HELP SAVE OUR PETS FOOD BANK: They're totally desperate. I mean, it really is, am I going to feed my kids here or am I going to feed my dog? And they had to kike turn them in.

DORNIN: Kibbles and canned food come from corporate and personal donations. Kings says they'd helped more than 1,500 people since the bank opened three weeks ago.

KING: We're getting phone calls from all over the country asking for help and how to help set up programs in different states so they can do the same thing.

DORNIN: A realtor, Anne Taylor, has personally felt the effects of the housing crisis on her pocketbook, and that's meant cut backs on how much she can spend on her pet.

ANNE TAYLOR, PET OWNER: I would say about $15 a week as an average, a week to 10 days, and instead of having to purchase something, strictly on credit, this is giving me the opportunity again to just to keep the quality of life for my pet.

DORNIN: Shelters in many areas are full, pet owners had to give up the animals because they either moved or couldn't afford them.

KING: They go and take them to the shelter and then the shelter is full, so can't take them, so they just go down the street and they open up the car door and dump them out.

DORNIN: Dave York works with the local animal shelter. Their numbers up 20 percent this year.

DAVE YORK, ANIMAL SHELTER DIRECTOR: It's definitely, for all the years that I've been in business, I've never seen it this bad.

DORNIN: But for people like Regina Upchurch, this small handout who helped her and her four-legged friend.

Rusty Dornin, CNN, Atlanta.


LUI: See this? It's a car in Sheboygan, Wisconsin that hit some parade watchers. There are injuries, but no deaths. The county sheriff dispatcher says deputies got a report of an erratic driver on an interstate and tried to stop the driver. The deputies chased him toward the city, but discontinued their chase when they got closer to the city. The driver continued into the parade route and hit some people and at the 55th annual Brat Days Parade, part of Johnsonville's Brat Days, there in Sheboygan. This live video, I believe, now, we got in from Sheboygan for you of that brat fest.

All right, you know, mystery ship. Did Saddam Hussein have a yacht? And if he did, what happened to it? We'll solve this intriguing case for you.


LIU: And welcome back. Turkish officials say they've made several arrests in connection with last week's deadly bombings in Istanbul -- 17 were killed, 154 more were hurt in the twin explosions, two minutes apart. Turkey's interior minister says most of the suspects responsible for those blasts are now in custody. He would not say whether the suspects are linked with any particular organization or movement.

Record numbers of Iraqi refugees are pouring into the United States, more than 2,300 in July and more than 8,800 over the past 10 months. The State Department says the U.S. Is committed to accepting 12,000 Iraqis by the end of September. Still, the U.S. is well behind some other countries, for example, Sweden has taken in about 40,000 Iraqi refugees since 2003. Advocacy groups and some lawmakers say the U.S. has moral obligation to do more on that.

A luxury yacht you have to see to believe. Once owned by Saddam Hussein, and now returned to Iraq. Our Jim Bittermann is onboard in this exclusive report you'll see only on CNN.


JIM BITTERMANN, CNN NEWS CORRESPONDENT (voice over): Amid the luxury of the French Riviera, it might have gone unnoticed. But when the Iraqi flag was hoisted from the stern a 90-meter, 270-foot yacht, the Iraqi ambassador of France said it marked the end of an odyssey for the ship and the Iraqi people.

Saddam Hussein constructed the lavish yacht, which has come to be known as the Basra Breeze back in 198,1 playing out bath salons, dining rooms, equipping it with eight state rooms for guests with golden bathroom fixtures and Jacuzzis, a deck that could land a helicopter and a master bedroom suitable for a dictator.

But, he never set foot aboard. When the war with Iran began, Saddam send the ship to the king of Saudi Arabia, who then gave it to the king of Jordan. With a crew, sometimes numbering as many as 32, says no one other than they ever came aboard, never sat down in the ship's barber chair, or needed to use the fully equipped medical bag. Still, for nearly three decades the crew always kept the Basra Breeze party-ready.

MOWFAK ABBOUD, IRAQI AMBASSADOR TO FRANCE: I was really surprised. I didn't expect the ship to be in such luxurious standard. I mean, the decoration, the equipment, shows how much money spent for -- for having such luxurious things.

BITTERMANN: Contrary to published reports, the yacht does not have bullet-proof windows, surface-to-air missiles or a submarine dock. But, it's luxurious appoints, ship brokers say, would cost 100 million Euros, that's $155 million to recreate, today.

So, last year, when the yacht turned up in a port near Nice, France, lawyers for the Iraqi government decided to press its case for ownership in French courts.

ARDAVAN AMIR-ASLAMI, LAWYER FOR IRAQI GVMT: This boat is symbolically in a sense that it personifies the plunder and looting that Iraq was a subject of under during the reign of Saddam Hussein. The ambassador (ph) stated, during the time that this boat was being built at millions and millions of dollars of cost, Iraqi soldiers were falling on the Iranian fronts and people were suffering from every kind of (INAUDIBLE) can imagine under a dictatorship.

BITTERMANN: While the Iraqi government hasn't decided what to do with the ship, the ambassador says his preference would be to turn it into a floating museum, so Iraqi skins can see how they are ex- president squandered their wealth while they suffered.

(on camera): The yacht is not the first or the last of saddam Hussein's overseas assets. Not so long ago, just down the coast here, lawyers were able to establish Iraqi control over a villa that belonged to Saddam Hussein and his family. And the lawyers and investigators say they know of other assets and secret bank accounts that they estimate could be worth billions of dollars.

Jim Bittermann, CNN, along the French Coast.


LUI: The Anthrax case is still an open investigation, so what are the legal issues? Our experts will weigh in.


(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE) T.J. HOLMES, CNN NEWS CORRESPONDENT (voice over): Gas prices don't seem to be slowing down any. Why should you? There are ways to keep you rolling this summer for less. Here's what the experts say:

TROY GREEN, AAA: If your vehicle is in need of an oil change, certainly do that. Have the braking, cooling and transmission systems checked, and fluid levels set to the proper setting. Making sure that the tires are properly inflated will add to your fuel economy. Just an ounce of preparation will go a long way.

HOLMES: When planning your road trip you may want to try AAA's on-line tools.

GREEN: You can go on-line at for point-to-point driving directions. Also you'll want to go to, input your vehicle's make and model, type in your destination, where you're leaving, where you're going to.

HOLMES: And presto, you have an estimate on what your trip's fuel will cost. A little planning tip to help you know what's down the road.



LUI: And it is 29 minutes after the hour, here are some of the stories we're working on right now. A double arm transplant, it is believed to be a medical first. Also, a German farmer who lost his arm in an accident underwent the groundbreaking surgery. Here now, it's wait and see, even if there are no complications, doctors say it could be years before the man can use the arms.

An atttorney for Bruce Ivins says the former Army researcher was not involved in the 2001 Anthrax attacks that killed five people. Sources tell CNN that Ivins committed suicide after learning he was about to be charged.

And as we mentioned, there's a major break in the seven-year Anthrax by mail case. The FBI was zeroing in the new main suspect in the case committed suicide. Bruce Ivins was one of the country's top military Anthrax researchers. CNN Joe Johns take as look back at a case that resulted in five deaths and spread fear through the nation.


JOE JOHNS, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The FBI code-named the case Amerithrax, the first major bioterror attack in the U.S., and it's still very much an open case. Highly potent anthrax sent in childlike, though menacing, letters, to high-profile destinations. One to then NBC Anchorman Tom Brokaw and two to senators -- Democrats Tom Daschle and Patrick Leahy, both of whom escaped injury.

But, the hidden substance that passed through the mail, apparently originating from the Trenton, New Jersey, area, still killed five people and injured 18 others in Washington, D.C., Florida, New York, and Connecticut.

The U.S. Postal Service, which handled the letters, was hit hard. Hundreds of workers put on antibiotics, especially at this plant, known as the Brentwood facility, where 2,000 people worked. Not far from the U.S. Capitol.

DENA BRISCOE, POSTAL EMPLOYEE: This was an American terrorist attack, as they say. I don't feel as though they had concerns about the public, the employees, or anyone else.

JOHNS: Dena Briscoe was working at Brentwood at the time. Two employees here, Joseph Curseen and Thomas Morris, died from inhalation anthrax they contracted while working with mail at the contaminated Brentwood facility. At least three others recovered, after being diagnosed with anthrax infection.

BRISCOE: None of us were being tested for anthrax. We were only being treated for whatever symptoms we had.

JOHNS: Briscoe helped start a support group for Brentwood's workers who say the government failed to protect them.

BRISCOE: They let us down -- this country down, tremendously. We still haven't got the case resolved. My coworkers haven't even dealt with that. they haven't even dealt with the fact that someone put anthrax in the mail. We're still dealing with how we were treated during that time.

JOHNS: The postal workers have long complained that hundreds of people on Capitol Hill were getting powerful antibiotics, just in case they'd been exposed, and that the government took a week to shut down Brentwood, which had been contaminated.

The FBI's Washington office, the lead agency in charge of the Amerithrax investigation, says, it cannot comment on the case, other than to say that 18 FBI special agents and 10 postal inspectors are working on it full-time.

Newspaper Editor and Former Reporter Marilyn Thompson, who wrote a book about the case, thinks it may never be solved.

MARILYN THOMPSON, AUTHOR, "THE KILLER STRAIN": But my feeling after years of watching and waiting and talking to people, is that they're lost. It's a cold case, and the hope of solving it is very slim.

JOHNS: One of the key unanswered questions has been whether this was in fact a case of international terrorism, which was suggested in the odd language of the enclosed handwritten notes. Or if the crime was more likely committed by a U.S. national with access to anthrax or the means of making it.

Marilyn Thompson is not alone in her assessment that the suspect may have been an American.

THOMPSON: I felt it was almost certainly a domestic bad actor, because the evidence that they were able to retrieve from some of the sites where people died of anthrax poisoning, you know, they were able to do a very extensive DNA analysis of that anthrax, and link it back to U.S. biodefense labs.

JOHNS: But what they haven't been able to do is charge a suspect.

Joe Johns, CNN, Washington.


LUI: So, is this case closed? Let's turn to our legal guys for answers. Avery Friedman is a civil rights attorney and law professor. And Richard Herman is a New York criminal defense attorney and law professor. Guys, always great talking to you. I want to start with this.

Now that Bruce Ivins has committed suicide, what does it mean for the case and the government's case here?

RICHARD HERMAN, CRIMINAL DEFENSE ATTORNEY: Well, this case is going to continue on. They can't just stop with the death of Ivins. I mean, they put all their eggs in the basket against Hatfill. He was their No. 1 guy almost from the inception. And now, we hear recently, there was almost a $6 million settlement where the government paid out to Hatfill because ...


HERMAN: ...they wrongfully targeted him. This case was -- this Ivins has a lot of defenses and 2003, he won the highest award for his research a civilian could win for his research in anthrax studies. This is a ridiculous, bungled investigation, horrific FBI work in this case.

FRIEDMAN: Well, but you know, the function of the Department of Justice is to get the bad guys. And this was headed toward the grand jury looking for an indictment. The truth is, with the death of Bruce Ivins, that really puts a big hole.

The struggle I think that the Department of Justice now faces, Richard, is that do they simply close the file or not? I don't think they can, because with the deaths of five Americans and threats to people like Tom Brokaw and two U.S. senators, they really have to deep digging.

HERMAN: Avery, they had tunnel vision early on in this case and that was the problem. They didn't look at the wide sphere here. Six, seven years later, it's too late. The live evidence is gone. They're never going to find it.


HERMAN: This grand jury's been in effect for one year and ...


HERMAN: ...people are now trying to recall what happened six years ago? Come on.

FRIEDMAN: And now, that they're -- now that I think we're getting close, Richard, you just can't say good-bye to it.

HERMAN: Look --

FRIEDMAN: For the sake of the ultimate justice, you got to keep digging.

HERMAN: They have to investigate the cause of death for this guy because I'm not so sure this was a suicide and I got to tell you something, this is really --

FRIEDMAN: What do you think it was?

HERMAN: I don't know. I don't know. But you know, this was a crazy case going on. This investigation is a botched investigation from the inception. Just don't know.

FRIEDMAN: Well, we still have to do justice. You can't close it up.

LUI: Guys -- Avery, Richard, great stuff there. Let me ask you this question. How massive is it of an endeavor here to take on a case like this? In the past, we have the example, Steven Hatfill. That did not work out.

FRIEDMAN: Right, right.

LUI: The government got sued for millions. Could this be possible here?

FRIEDMAN: Well, it is possible, of course, I mean, we have 9,100 interviews, we've gone through literally hundreds of thousands of documents. Yes, I mean, when John Ashcroft announced that Steven Hatfill was the -- a person of interest, that was way out of line that the homework had to be done.

I'm hoping that they really zeroed in, learned a lesson from the Hatfill case and were zeroing in on this individual, but, again, we have a suicide. You can't close it up. You really need to get to the truth.

HERMAN: Look, they were torturing this guy. They were going in his house, they were sitting outside his house. They told him this is going to be a death penalty case. He had already had death penalty counsel assigned to him. I mean, they were torturing this guy on a -- seven years later after the facts, after the event took place? After they already told the world that Hatfill was their guy? I mean, outrageous.

FRIEDMAN: Well, but they coupled that -- couple that with the fact that according to a psychiatrist, this guy was making homicidal threats. Look, there are all sorts of issues unfortunately unresolved at this point.

LUI: Richard, let me interrupt you really fast. Let's switch gears, guys, and go down a different pathway here and let's talk about Senator Ted Stevens of Alaska.


LUI: Yes, yes. I know you guys want to talk about him. He pled not guilty to filing here false Senate financial disclosure forms. So, when we talk about this issue, what charges are we talking about? Evidently, there were some house renovations done buy an oil services company for the senator.

HERMAN: $250,000 worth of unreported gifts and work that was done in his house, much of it coming from a company called VECO, an oil company, who's -- one chairman, last year, pled guilty to bribery, federal bribery charges. I mean, this is outrageous. The longest running senator in the United States, I mean, the appearance (ph) of impropriety is outrageous.

FRIEDMAN: Well, here's -- here's the good news. Here's the good news. We're going to trial in 55 days.

HERMAN: Don't bet on that. Don't bet on that.

FRIEDMAN: I'm counting on it ...

LUI: Well, let's talk about that.

FRIEDMAN: ...because you want to know something? He needs to go. He's got a general election coming up. The fact is that the 24th of September is going to be the trial date and here's the problem he's facing. If he's free, fine. Maybe he's got a shot, maybe he doesn't. If he's convicted, that's seven offenses times five, 35. Maximum, he gets out when he's 119-years-old.


FRIEDMAN: He's got a headache.

HERMAN: He's 84-years-old.

LUI: Well, Steven's attorney here, guys, he wants to move it back, because of that election in November that you're alluding to, Avery.

FRIEDMAN: Yes, let's go back to Anchorage, right.

LUI: Is that possible -- is that possible there?

HERMAN: These guys (ph) ...

FRIEDMAN: The federal judge is going to entertain, Judge Sullivan, no relation to the defense lawyer, is entertaining it. He's going to deny the motion, it's going to take place in D.C.


HERMAN: You know, as soon as they make a motion in the case, as soon as there's some sort of discovery issues, that trial date of September is going to get put off. FRIEDMAN: Then he kisses the election good-bye, Richard. Kisses it.

HERMAN: Hey, look, he's facing his life, kissing that good-bye. He's facing big, big prison time.

LUI: Avery -- Avery.

FRIEDMAN: That's right.

LUI: Will -- are these bribes --

HERMAN: No, no, no. This is not a bribery case.


HERMAN: Clear distinction here. This is not a bribery case. This is solely his failure to report these alleged gifts on his required forms.

FRIEDMAN: Think Martha Stewart. Think Martha Stewart. It's the senatorial equivalent of not making disclosure on the required forms. That's what the case is about.

HERMAN: Yes, they did not allege a corrupt relationship with anybody.

FRIEDMAN: Right, right.

LUI: Avery, Richard, I want to talk about this case. We're going to go to our last point here. And this is a guy that evidently was in the courtroom.


LUI: Maybe you've seen the video. Grabs his chest there. That's Keison Wilkins there. Evidently, he said here that he wasn't feeling well. He said, your honor, excuse me. I need some time. Grabs his chest, and falls over, and appears to fake a heart attack. Have you guys seen anything like this before?

FRIEDMAN: I bet both of us have seen it literally hundreds of times. These guys that get so arrogant. You know what? America's watching way too much television, Richard. What's going on is they think they can get their way through it. When they're in the thick of things, they're going oh my gosh, why didn't I get myself a lawyer? Then, they try crazy stuff like this.

HERMAN: You know, when I've played -- when I had summer practices in football, I had a few guys try to fake injuries to get out of the practice. This is unbelievable. This guy, I'll tell you, he's going to get banged out, this judge, when ...

FRIEDMAN: He did, he got whacked.

HERMAN: Yes, I mean, he's going to get sentenced -- what, 42 years --

FRIEDMAN: Yes. HERMAN: -- or something, I mean, insane. Judges don't go for this, histrionics in a courtroom. He made a big mistake.

FRIEDMAN: A little bit of pro se action. Go get a lawyer when you're in trouble.

LUI: I think you can still win as a pro se lawyer, though, not as an actor, you guys are saying. But he did very well on the Internet. Lots of folks are evidently watching this video.

FRIEDMAN: Yes, make good YouTube video. That's all.

LUI: Yes.

HERMAN: That will get him a token and get him on a subway ride.


LUI: He's got a second career, possibly. OK, thank you very much. Avery Friedman, electric blue shirt, very nice, my friend. Richard Herman, thank you, too. Guys, always a pleasure.

HERMAN: Have a good weekend.

FRIEDMAN: Take care.

LUI: All right, guys.

Hey, all week, we've listened to the presidential candidates talking about oil, race, the economy. But what's the most important point of the week to our senior political analyst Bill Schneider? He'll join us with some answers.


LUI: You know, as part of our effort to help you make an informed choice on the presidential election, from now until November, we're going to play more of what the candidates are saying in their own words. Last hour, we talked about John McCain and he was talking about education.

Now, we turn to Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama who will speak to the National Urban League this afternoon. Well, this morning in Cape Canaveral, Florida, he spoke to members of the media about the recent comments by the McCain Campaign that he's been playing the race card.


SEN. BARACK OBAMA (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Most of the people here were at this event in Union, Missouri. Almost none of you, maybe none of you, thought that I was making a racially incendiary remark or playing the race card. It wasn't until John McCain's team started pushing it that it ended up being on the front page of the "New York Times" two days in a row. Here's what I was saying. And I think this should be undisputed that I don't come out of central casting when it comes to presidential races for a whole range of reasons. I'm young. I'm new to the national scene. My name is Barack Obama. I am African-American. I was born in Hawaii. I spent time in Indonesia. I do not have the typical biography of a presidential candidate.

What that means is that I'm sort of unfamiliar, and people are still trying to get a fix on who I am, where I come from, what my values are and so forth, in a way that might not be true if I seemed more familiar. And so, what I think has been an approach to the McCain Campaign is to say, he's risky, to try to divert focus from the fact that they don't have any new ideas when it comes to fixing the economy or dealing with health care or dealing with education.

And all those elements that make me unfamiliar feed into this notion that he may be a "risky choice." That point I don't think is disputable. I don't think that's a point that has not been made by every single one of your publications, that you guys haven't polled on repeatedly. It's a fact.

And that -- so, let me be clear. In no way do I think that John McCain's Campaign was being racist. I think they're cynical and I think they want to distract people from talking about the real issues. And so, it's of the piece with the Britney/Paris said, or the most recent Web site or the allegation that somehow I wouldn't go visit the troops unless I had reporters with me, which every reporter who was on the trip knows is absolutely not true.

And you know, so, it goes to the point I was making earlier. Their team is good at creating distractions, and engaging in negative attacks, and planting doubts about people. And what we've got to do is make sure that we are very clear to the American people about how my policies will make a difference in their lives, they can have confidence that I'm going to be fighting for them.

And I am absolutely confident, the people in Union, Missouri, or Jacksonville, Florida, or any other city or town across the country at the end of the day, is going to be making their decisions based on what they think is going to be best for their lives and their children's lives.


LUI: There you go. Raw talk from Senator Barack Obama.

Straight now to senior political analyst Bill Schneider. Bill, when we talk about what Barack Obama's responding to, that's negative advertising, negative campaigning, net-net. You've been watching what happened at the end part of this week, the issue of the Britney/Paris ad, the race card coming out. Who came out ahead, if anybody did on this?

WILLIAM SCHNEIDER, CNN SR. POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, I'll put it this way. Barack Obama doesn't want a discussion of race in the campaign, and he probably was shocked and surprised that McCain responded so fiercely, really, to his statement in which he actually did say that the other side are going to try to scare you, they're going to say he's risky, referring to himself, that Barack Obama is unfamiliar, that -- and he said, he doesn't look like other presidents.

Each side is really playing the race card by accusing the other side of playing the race card. That's a very strange debate. And I think it's very dangerous and incendiary and both campaigns have said they just want to move on, to put it aside, at least for the time being.

LUI: And I'm sure, Bill, very dizzying for some voters as well. Like which way is which? Let's move now to what McCain has been doing over this past week. Largely spending most of his message time focusing on making Obama the referendum or making the election a referendum on Obama. Is this right thing to do instead of spending more time on his own brand?

SCHNEIDER: Well, it makes some sense because if this were a referendum on the status quo, he would be sunk. Right now, only 24 percent of Americans say that they think things are going well in the country. That is the lowest number we've seen since 1980, almost 30 years. We haven't seen a number that low since Jimmy Carter was president, and we remember what happened to him. It was low again when the first President Bush, the first George Bush was president in 1992, and we know what happened to him.

Well, this time, of course, President Bush, the incumbent president is not running for re-election, unlike Carter and his father. And a lot of people don't instantly connect John McCain to the Bush administration. At least, they don't hold him responsible for the Bush administration's record and policies. So, McCain is trying to change the focus from the issue of status quo versus change to the issue of Barack Obama and make it a referendum on Obama, who is an unfamiliar figure as Senator Obama just acknowledged.

LUI: You know, back to those numbers there, Bill. Twenty-two percent also in that poll you're talking about approving of Congress, and how they're doing a job. That's a very small number, 22 percent. Might this breathe a breath of fresh air, then, for the GOP, as they go for elections in Congress this November?

SCHNEIDER: Well, they're hoping that ...

LUI: Yes.

SCHNEIDER: ...they'll be a lot of angry at Congress and it will spill over to the election and people will throw out the Democratic Congress not just the president, who, of course is not running for re-election, and they are.

Well, the problem with that is that this is a presidential system, Richard.

LUI: Right.

SCHNEIDER: People identify the president with the government. So, when people are unhappy, they tend take it out on the president's party, even if they're unhappy with the Congress.

LUI: You know, but Bill, what happened to that gentlemen's agreement, essentially saying this is a focus on the president. A gentleman's agreement earlier on months ago that they weren't going to fight dirty. What happened to that?

SCHNEIDER: Well, I'll just -- I don't want to use the word dirty, let's just say negative. I'm not sure what that agreement consisted of. They both said they wanted to talk about the issues, and they are talking about the issues, but they're also -- certainly, the McCain campaign very early has come out with some very harsh, negative ads against Obama.

They wouldn't call them negative. They would say they're just comparative, that's the term of art now in the political business. But I think McCain needs to make this election as much as possible a referendum on his opponent rather than on the incumbent president, which is a vote that he would certainly lose.

LUI: This is something you were telling us earlier here, Bill. And that is the Olympics, right? Starts in six days. And you were indicating to us that Barack Obama plans on advertising. Has this been done before by a presidential candidate?

SCHNEIDER: No, never been done before. No presidential candidate has ever had enough money to do it. But Barack Obama has pots and pots of money that he's collected from his supporters, much of it in very small amounts. He has the money to advertise to the entire nation during the Olympics on both broadcast and cable television.

And what he's trying to do is reach a lot of voters who don't pay a lot of attention to politics, but who are interested in the Olympics, who are interested in sports, people who haven't been thinking about the campaign. Those are the kind of people who will be interested, he hopes in voting for change, who will see him as a different kind of politician and who may just, for the first time in their lives decide to come out and vote.

LUI: Always great stuff. Professor Schneider, thank you so much for stopping by. We'll talk to you in about two or three hours again. Appreciate it.


LUI: And remember, for the very latest on the presidential race, logon to our Web site, Bill Schneider writes a lot of stuff on that, too. 24/7 you can access that. It's the most politics on the Web for you.

Faith and politics: monks on the front lines and a split in the Tibetan movement. Who are Buddhist warriors and what do they want?


LUI: The fight for freedom in Myanmar and Tibet is the focus of "Buddha's Warriors." It's a new CNN "SPECIAL INVESTIGATION" and it premiers tonight.

Our chief international correspondent Christiane Amanpour gives us a sneak peek now.


CHRISTIANE AMANPOUR, CNN CHIEF INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Richard, "Buddhist Warriors" is part of our investigation of religion intersecting and colliding with politics, much like "God's Warriors," our series last year.

In this case, we investigate Buddhism and how they are really struggling for democracy, freedom, and their basic human rights against powerful regimes, and how that struggle is causing them to question and try to reconcile their own religious principles of non- violence.

We travelled to Dharamsala, India and talked to the Dalai Llama, the spiritual head of Tibetans. And there, he spoke to us candidly about what he's confronting: impatient, younger generation, who wants a much more proactive, confrontational approach to try and to get their freedom in Tibet.

The Dalai Llama himself has abandoned the dream of independence and just says that he wants autonomy. The younger generation thinks that should go for full independence and they're quite willing for more confrontational tactics. We, in fact, followed them as they made their protest march. They wanted to go from India where they are in exile all they way to Tibet ahead of the Beijing Olympics.

And we also talked to them about what happened inside Tibet in March, where a protest there turned violent. Although many of the monks are in jail and there's quite a lot of repression there, many of them continue to wage this fight and to keep their struggle for democracy alive -- Richard?


LUI: All right, thanks, Christiane. You know, tonight and Sunday, CNN's Christiane Amanpour, she will be going inside the world of Buddhism as she describes there in their fight for freedom and democracy. And the weapon here, peace. They are "Buddha's Warriors," that's tonight and Sunday night at 8:00 Eastern on CNN.

Those magnificent men and women in their flying machines. But why aren't these hot air balloons flying? We'll tell you what's really going on in Iowa.


LUI: You expect hot air balloons to take flight, right? But during a a festival in Iowa, pilots were happy to let their majestic balloon glow, on the ground.

Eric Hanson of affiliate KCCI was there to see how the light show went. (BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The skies have finally cleared. We had about six, eight mile-an-hour winds, which is absolutely perfect for ballooning.

ERIC HANSON, KCCI REPORTER (voice-over): Just before sundown -- a whisper quiet field is roaring. But instead of soaring 1,000 feet above Iowa, these baskets and balloons have no plan to fly.


HANSON: Folks like Fred are too busy preparing for the show. Balloons are built to soar.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Absolutely and then, just the idea that I can put hot air up in that thing then fly it. That's still amazes me.

HANSON: But tonight, they're proving you don't have to climb an inch to crook a little neck.



HANSON: Bathed in the glow of 45 fire-filled balloons --

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Let's try to get that one.

HANSON: Eight-year-olds Austin and Tommy are racing.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Do you guys -- do you have any cards (ph)?

HANSON: Trying to hit up every pilot possible for a picture of their baby.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Ask him for cards.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes, they don't have some, so we just go to another one.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I'm sorry, I'm all out.

HANSON: Twenty minutes passes too fast when you're surrounded by this much color.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: That one's going down, look at it.


HANSON: But the memories ...

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I still get the little tickle every time I see balloons in the air.

HANSON: ...they last long past sunset.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It was awesome.


LUI: All right, certainly awesome there. Eric Hanson, KCCI. Thanks for that.

You know, "YOUR MONEY" is next. But first, this check of our top stories.