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1,990 Page Health Care Bill; Counting Halloween Calories; Stimulus Saves Jobs

Aired October 30, 2009 - 10:00   ET


T.J. HOLMES, CNN ANCHOR: Search crews are combing the area off the coast of San Diego this morning looking for nine people missing after two military aircraft collided in flight. Debris has been found. No bodies. No survivors just yet. The Coast Guard says the survivors can last about 20 hours in the cold waters and about 12 hours so far.

We have learned the Coast Guard's C-130 with seven people aboard was on a search and rescue mission at the time of the crash. The two manned marine Super Cobra, you see it there, was on a training mission when this collision happened. Both the Navy and the Coast Guard taking part in this search.

We want to turn now to Henry Dunphy, Coast Petty Officer to help us understand what's happening.

Sir, we appreciate you giving us some time. I guess, first of all, is there any updated and any sign of survivors just yet?

VOICE OF PETTY OFC. HENRY DUNPHY, U.S. COAST GUARD: There's no update at this time. We're searching with the Navy and hoping to find survivors out there at this point.

HOLMES: Sir, is there anything, any indication at all that possibly they were someone, anyone, was able to survive this crash?

DUNPHY: We're still searching and we're hopeful and throwing everything we have at it at this point. It's a search and rescue mission at this time.

HOLMES: I guess the question as well is the severity of that crash, did it seem like possibly what you know of and reports and eyewitness accounts of what happened that possibly the crash wasn't so severe that maybe someone could have survived I guess that initial impact of the two aircraft?

DUNPHY: I don't have all of the details. We initially received a report from the Navy who observed the collision. I don't really have any information as far as severity at this point.

HOLMES: Help us understand, sir, what the survivors if they are out there and hopefully they are, what they're up against in terms of conditions out there and especially the water temperature?

DUNPHY: Sure, definitely, as far as search and mission go, it's pretty ideal. There's unlimited visibility. Calm seas. Light winds. So as far as conditions for the search it is pretty much ideal and what we're looking at is hopefully finding some survivors out there and we'll continue searching throughout the day and into tomorrow as well.

HOLMES: It's good to hear that at least the search conditions are ideal. One more thing here, sir, and this will come secondary given that we're still trying to find some survivors but what indication is there? What possibly could have gone wrong that these two aircrafts could have ended up running into each other?

DUNPHY: I really couldn't guess at this time. We'll obviously be searching and looking into the circumstances surrounding the collision as more information becomes available.

HOLMES: All right. Well, Coast Guard Petty Officer Henry Dunphy. Sir, we appreciate you getting on the line with us, giving us an update and really good luck to you guys out there.

Well, we'll turn into the economy now. The news we got today - 650,000 jobs created or saved. That's the number and the rhetoric coming from the Obama administration, touting its report today on stimulus spending. The president signed the landmark, as you know, $787 billion recovery package last February and today's numbers are drawn from tens and thousands of reports from state and local recipients and private companies.

The White House says as many as one million jobs were actually saved or created but there are some critics out there who say it's essentially impossible to try to quantify the number of saved jobs.

Take a look at the numbers here. Dow down about 45 points. But hey, it's still early on this Halloween eve. We know that just yesterday we saw the Dow take a pretty good jump up two percent. We'll see if that possibly is going to happen today. But right now doesn't look so good.

Cheap gas prices, that's been one of the silver linings of this recession but that silver lining might be about to go away. Prices are on the rise again.'s Poppy Harlow in New York for us. Poppy, going up just how much right now?

POPPY HARLOW, CNNMONEY.COM: Yes, we're talking up 21 cents in the last 17 days. Up every single day in the last 17 days. The national average, T.J., according to AAA right now, $2.70 a gallon. It's a lot more than that here in New York, a lot more in California and a lot more in many cities across the country. Folks in Florida that we talked to, they are scratching their heads. They do not understand why gas prices are higher. The economy is still hurting, right? Here's what they told us.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It's terrible. It's ridiculous. It's going up like 10 cents every week.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's 2.09 six weeks ago and now it's $2.65. It's crazy. It's ridiculous.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I have no clue why the gas prices are going up again. After they went down from almost $4 something and then they all go down and now they're going up again. No, I don't know why. I don't understand at all because we have enough oil. It shouldn't be that high.


HARLOW: Well, she hit on it right there. Talking about the price of oil is what you see. Remember when we saw record oil prices gas went up above four bucks a gallon. Right now, not that bad but it's creeping higher. Here's what we've seen this year. You saw oil right around here under $70 in January. Hitting the lows in March right here. That's when the stock market hit the lows of the year as well.

Creeping higher since. But I want you to look right here. Because that's the last few weeks, T.J.. That's where we have seen a huge surge in oil prices. That's exactly what's happened with gas prices as well. And a lot of folks are saying, T.J., that there's no real fundamental basis for this and no wonder people are wondering why gas prices are going higher moving right along with oil. T.J.

HOLMES: So everybody scratching their head. Can't figure this thing out. Don't exactly know why but we know it's happening.


HOLMES: All right. Poppy Harlow, thank you, as always.

We've been talking this morning about the violent storms in the south. At least three tornadoes tore across Arkansas as well as neighboring Louisiana yesterday. One person died near Shreveport after his car was hit by a fallen tree. Winds ripped apart this fire station you're seeing here, this is in Arkansas. Many roads are flooded or blocked by downed trees and power lines.

Rob Marciano is standing by for us. It's not quite done, is it?

ROB MARCIANO, AMS METEOROLOGIST: No. It's not. I think the main problem today is going to be more so the heavy rain over that saturated soil so flood watches and warnings have been posted. Look at this, T.J.. Across parts of Houston, slicing across the Mississippi, up through Chicago, this is an entire area either under a watch or a warning.

And a lot of them under flash flood warnings and that's the worst kind because that means it's raining heavily or will be raining heavily over your area shortly and the streams and rivers are getting close to flood stage and that's where we see the most danger as far as from flash flood warnings. So be aware of that eastern Arkansas in through Memphis and parts of western Tennessee and Kentucky and eastern parts of Missouri is where we have seen some of that.

All right. I want to show you also what the severe weather that T.J. was mentioning across parts of northern Louisiana yesterday. We had seven reports of tornadoes doing damage to homes, yes, but also in Shreveport we had that steeple of a Methodist church that was toppled over and landed on a car. Remarkable that no one in this particular part of the world was killed.

Certainly that damage is frightening to look at. As far as the rainfall tallies, mentioned that Shreveport, 5.3 inches. Lipkin 5.38, Little Rock, Arkansas, seeing almost five with more on the way today. All of this very, very wet. We go more to the north and the backside of this system and this is very, very cold. Very, very snowy.

Denver, you're finally out of the winter storm warning you saw about 15 inches and change. You go just west of Denver, they saw two feet. You go to the higher elevations in the front range, near the continental divide and you're talking over 40 inches of snowfall from this particular system that continues to work its way off to the east and when it does that, it will bring some rain to places like Chicago, to places like Detroit and eventually to the New York City area tomorrow but the brakes will be put on fairly rapidly.

Sixty-three degrees in Dallas. It will be 44 degrees today in Denver. Cool and chilly yesterday across parts of the desert southwest with temps in the 60s. Lower 70s today. It will be 70 degrees in New York City. And 89 degrees in Tampa, Florida. That's not a bad spot to be right now.

HOLMES: We will end on that good note then. Rob, we appreciate you as always.

Turn now to the president. President Obama holding a high level strategy session at the White House today. The Joint Chiefs of Staff coming in to offer their opinions on a new strategy for Afghanistan. The president is contemplating a lot of scenarios right now. A final decision could be made in the next few weeks.

And the top U.S. commander in Afghanistan has asked for as many as 40,000 additional U.S. service members to carry out his mission there. Meanwhile, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, she is pushing Pakistan to do more to capture or kill terrorists. She was speaking with Pakistani journalists before leaving Pakistan today and she said she finds it hard to believe no one in the government there knows where Al Qaeda members are hiding in Pakistan. Later, Clinton broadened her comments in an interview with CNN's Jill Dougherty.


HILLARY CLINTON, U.S. SECRETARY OF STATE: There exists a trust difficult. Certainly, on the part of the Pakistanis toward the United States, toward our intentions and our actions. And yet we have so much in common we face a common threat. We certainly have a common enemy in extremism and terrorism. And so part of what I've been doing is answering every single charge, every question I'm going to continue today to put myself in as many different settings as possible because it's not adequate just to meet with government officials.

But trust is a two-way street. And I think it's important if we're going to have the kind of cooperative partnership that I think is in the best interest of both of our countries for me to express some of the questions that are on the minds of the American people. And I'm not prejudging the answer. But I'm asking the question.


HOLMES: Well, Clinton next turns her attention to the push for peace in the Middle East, heading to the region for separate meetings with Israeli and Palestinian leaders.

Now, we will turn our attention to the 1,990 pages of the House version of the health care reform bill. We've all got some reading to do. We'll tell you what's in it for you.


ANNOUNCER: Breaking news, revealing developments, see for yourself in the CNN NEWSROOM.

HOLMES: Well, House members got a lot of reading to do. The health care reform bill now before them is nearly 2,000 pages long. We break it down for you page by page. Bit by bit. With the help of our speed reader senior congressional correspondent Dana Bash.

DANA BASH, CNN SENIOR CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: T.J., democratic leaders admit they're still searching for votes to pass this sweeping new health care bill in the House which is a milestone for House Democrats and for the president on his top priority but there is still a long and treacherous road ahead.


BASH (voice-over): A march to music down the Capitol steps. A ceremony staged to unveil a health care bill and signal momentum.

REP. NANCY PELOSI, HOUSE SPEAKER: We're about to deliver on the promise of making affordable quality health care available for all Americans.

BASH: After months of intense work with the divided caucus, House Democrats say their proposal would cost $894 billion for new health coverage but add Medicare changes and the price tops $1 trillion. It would require all Americans to get health coverage, expand Medicaid to help those who can't afford it and provide subsidies to small businesses to cover employees.

PELOSI: The bill will expand coverage including a public option to boost choice and competition.

BASH: But that is not the kind of government run insurance option the speaker wanted. It allows doctors and hospitals to negotiate what the government pays and that pleases moderate Democrats but may cost votes with liberals who prefer a public option that mandates lower rates.

REP. RAUL GRIJALVA (D), ARIZONA: I'm personally leading and others are as well.

BASH: Other progressives are more pragmatic.

REP. JERRY NADLER (D), NEW YORK: They couldn't get 218 votes for that. There's no point crying over spilled milk.

REP. ANTHONY WEINER (D), NEW YORK: WE have a week of public option. There is no disputing that. It's not what I would have liked. I can tell you now we're going to have a sliver of competition.

BASH: How would all this be paid for? In part with cuts in Medicare spending and a 5.4 percent tax on all individuals making $500,000 a year and couples making a million dollars. That income level was raised. A change aimed at calming concerns of vulnerable democrats like Jerry Connolly.

REP. JERRY CONNOLLY (D), VIRGINIA: It will affect a lot fewer folks in my district than the previous version.

BASH: We spent time with Connolly this summer as town hall anger raged. Then he was undecided. Now...

CONNOLLY: And I'm pretty close to that.

BASH (on camera): You're there.

CONNOLLY: But I want to absolutely reserve the right to look at the bill carefully.


BASH: Other moderate Democrats are undecided than that and very concerned about the trillion dollar plus price tag. They told us they plan to read the bill too and that will take a while since it's nearly 2,000 pages.

Now House leaders promise lawmakers will have 72 hours to read the final bill with any changes before they vote. And House Democratic leaders also say they hope to start debate next week. T.J.

HOLMES: All right. In the meanwhile, a group opposed to more government involvement in health care is crisscrossing the country. Today the Tea Party Express rolls into two states on the west coast. The first stop will be Portland, Oregon, tonight Tacoma, Washington. The group hopes to visit some 38 cities in 19 days.

Well, this is, of course, Halloween eve. A lot of people certainly having Halloween candy. It's good stuff. It's really good stuff isn't. But it can be not so sweet to your waistline. Now, we have a trick to help you keep track of those calories.


HOLMES: Los Angeles Police pushing ahead with their search for a synagogue shooting suspect. Two people were shot in the legs in the parking lot of the synagogue yesterday morning. Both are hospitalized in good condition. Police briefly detained a teenager thought to look like the suspect.

There has been another arrest in northern California of an alleged gang rape of a 15-year-old girl. Jose Carlos Montano is the sixth suspect now in custody. He is 18 years old. His bond set at over $1 million. Police say as many as 10 people were involved in the assault which happened on school property and lasted over two hours. They say another 10 people stood by and watched this go down. The victim is now out of the hospital.

And the family of a woman who died of water intoxication during a radio contest could soon be getting $16 million. Jennifer Strange drank more than a dozen bottles of water in an attempt to win a video game. Yesterday a jury said the Sacramento station was negligent and ordered it to pay up.

Well, building permits have been issued for the construction of a D.C. memorial to Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. The memorial was first authorized back in 1996 but a dispute over how to secure the site against domestic terrorism have delayed the project. Yesterday a federal planning commission signed off on a compromise building plan.

Well, candy corn, chocolate bars, gummies, all that good stuff, Halloween treats can be trickster for the waistline. If you try to count calories Halloween probably not the day for you.

Our senior medical correspondent Elizabeth Cohen joins us now with a Halloween interactive that empowers parents. But Elizabeth, it also makes calorie counting fun. Most people don't usually find it fun, so I'm itching to hear this one.

ELIZABETH COHEN, CNN SENIOR MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: That's right. You want to hear what I have to say about this? First, I want to say I'm not the grinch who stole Halloween. I'm not trying to take the fun out of Halloween. I'll be taking my kids trick-or-treating tomorrow night. But I think it is good for parents to have kind of a ballpark feeling for how many calories their kids are getting so that they can maybe balance it out for the rest of the weekend. Maybe not have an ice cream sundae for dessert.

Because when you take a look at the interactive we have on, you'll see we have a little ghost and a little fairy that go around and they pick up candy at different houses and you can see how many calories they get at each house. How many calories they burn walking from house to house and what that means for them at their particular sizes and weights? It is really quite well frightening and illuminating.

HOLMES: All right. You know, some kids have bigger pails than others when they knock on the door. Some of them carrying big bags, some of them have a little bit. But just give us an idea of just how many calories a kid can pick up in a night of trick-or-treating and what does it take to burn all that off?

COHEN: OK. What we did in our interactive is we set up four houses and we said that each kid got approximately two fun size pieces of candies. Those are the little ones at each house. And so if you have two fun size candies per house and let's say you only go to four houses. That's 1,000 calories right there. We're talking four houses. 1,000 calories. That is more than half of what most kids are supposed to get in an entire day and you're getting it in four houses. So I think that's important to know.

Again, you might want to balance that out with the rest of the weekend. Maybe do some more exercise. Maybe hold off on some other kind of treats that you might be giving in the next few days.

HOLMES: Yes. It's probably fair to say that most kids running around want to make sure they hit more than four houses. So if that's just four...

COHEN: Absolutely.

HOLMES: Yes. All right. One more thing here and it's something to keep in mind these costumes and the safety, quite frankly, of the costumes that kids are going to be wearing. How do you ensure they're safe? I guess on thing you want to make sure they're visible and a kid can be seen walking down the street.

COHEN: Yes. You want to make sure they are visible. You want to make sure they are light colored. You want to make sure they're wearing some reflectors. And I could list off the whole thing but you know what, it would be easier if you go to We have a perfect Halloween costume right there.

And if you roll over it you can see what's perfect about it. The fact that she has a flashlight. The fact that she's wearing light colors and the fact that she has on regular shoes and none of those big floppy silly shoes that she could trip and fall over. So if you go there, you can see all of the aspects of a safe Halloween costume.

HOLMES: All right. Great stuff. As always, Elizabeth Cohen, thank you so much.

COHEN: Thanks so much.

HOLMES: All right. Well, not all of those trick-or-treaters are planning to eat their candy this holiday. Some kids in Liberty Lake, Washington, they are going to cash in on their treats. A local dentist offering children a dollar for every pound of candy turned into to his office. Kids, you can et a better deal. Just negotiate a bit but still that's something. The doctor says the deal is really, really a win-win.


DR. JARED EVANS, DENTIST: With the high incidence of caries (INAUDIBLE), childhood obesity and diabetes and health problems, it's just one way to promote health and it also gives kids a chance to come to a dentist office and have fun.

(END VIDEO CLIP) HOLMES: We'll see how many kids actually take him up on his deal. Another upside to this is all the candy donated is going to be sent to troops overseas in holiday care packages. So that is great to hear.

Well, now, before you have to worry about candy, you got to worry about your costume which you're going to be wearing. The clock is ticking on you. You only got until tomorrow to figure this thing out.

On our blog this morning, we're asking what you're going to be for Halloween. You can go to the website, The blog under T.J., I think we have under Heidi as well. Also on Twitter. You know where to find me there and also on Facebook. Send those answers in.

We are getting some very interesting answers. Some person asked what they were going to be for Halloween. One said broke. So things like that, whatever it may be by all means send it in to us. We do appreciate you.

We're talking about bank fees, they're always on the rise it seemed. But hear what one outraged customer did when he was slapped with a hefty charge for a service that he never requested.


ANNOUNCER: Live in the CNN NEWSROOM, T.J. Holmes.

HOLMES: Well, the White House says your stimulus dollars are hard at work. The Obama administration touting that 650,000 jobs were created or saved because of the recovery and reinvestment act or commonly known as the stimulus package.

Susan Lisovicz is at the New York Stock Exchange with some details here for us. Hello to you again, Susan.

SUSAN LISOVICZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Hi, T.J. Well I thought the GDP was a big report. The mother of all reports. This is the first comprehensive look at the stimulus effects and job creation. The White House says it saved or created 650,000 state and local jobs.

This is based, T.J., on 150 billion that's been spent so far. But keep in mind the total package is $787 billion. So basically one- fifth of the total package. So it's really hard to extrapolate from these numbers because remember some of these projects directly create jobs while some of them are for tax cuts which don't create jobs.

In any case, a full report will be out this afternoon that will break down job creation on a state-by-state basis. The White House, of course, trying to show all of the spending, this hundreds of billions of dollars worth it. Critics, of course, say while jobs may have been created, 3 million jobs have been lost since the stimulus was signed in February. The Obama administration economist Jared Bernstein was on "AMERICAN MORNING" earlier today, and he says stimulus is working.


JARED BERNSTEIN, CHIEF ECONOMIST POLICY ADVISOR TO V.P. BIDEN: We're solidly on track to create or save 3.5 million jobs by the time this program winds down. Now, as you correctly noted, we're looking at the job impact of the deepest recession since the Great Depression. There is no conceivable stimulus package that could fully offset that.


LISOVICZ: Some economists say that stimulus money, of course, did limit job losses but you can make up your own mind because later this afternoon it will be posted online. T.J.

HOLMES: OK, the White House is putting the numbers out. Some people not willing to take the White House at their word, essentially. A lot of people think the numbers are a little suspect. How reliable can they really be when you're trying to figure out how many were actually -- one thing created but saved as well?

LISOVICZ: Well, if you really want the conclusive answer to that, we would have to spend a few weeks probably examining all of this data, T.J., because we're talking about tens of thousands of reports from businesses, contractors, universities, state and local governments.

It's not a simple process. It's very complex. And it's not a level playing field because they have their own different standards. We have seen disparities before earlier this month.

Just let me give you a quick example. For instance, counting part-time and temporary workers when some of those jobs may have ended already. It's complex. You can be sure that there will be debate about it. And we'll be following the numbers just as we are here. By the way, stocks giving back some of yesterday's big gains.

Back to you, T.J.

HOLMES: We appreciate you as always keeping an eye on all things for us. Thank you so much...

LISOVICZ: You're welcome, T.J.

HOLMES: Also, we know now that consumer spending has fallen a half percent in September. Now , that's the biggest drop we've seen in some nine months. Economists worry the recovery could slow if people cut back on spending because of rising unemployment, heavy debt and also tightening credit.

Protecting consumers from sky-high bank fees. Congress focusing on that issue right now. Members of the House Financial Services Committee holding a hearing on the Overdraft Protection Act of 2009. In addition to limiting the amount and number of bank fees, the measure requires banks to give customers an informed choice on whether they want to pay for high-cost overdraft coverage.

Those bank fees often take people completely by surprise. CNN's personal finance editor Gerri Willis talks to one man who was hit with a hefty charge for a service he never even asked for.


GERRI WILLIS, CNN PERSONAL FINANCE EDITOR (voice-over): Harold Abrams is furious at his bank.

HAROLD ABRAMS, SMALL BUSINESS OWNER: I was furious that they're charging me $35 for an expense that's $1.65? I mean, it's really crazy.

WILLIS: Bank of America charged Abrams a total of $105 in overdraft protection fees to cover three charges to his checking account totaling less than 15 bucks. Abrams would rather his transactions be declined than pay the tab he didn't even know it existed.

What's the 8.44 for?

ABRAMS: The stamp, postage.

WILLIS: And again a $35 fee. Add it all up, it's a $105.


WILLIS: According to an annual survey of bank fees conducted by, most consumer banking fees are on the rise.

GREG MCBRIDE, BANKRATE.COM: Fees have gone up year in and year out over the past decade. Now, some of those fees go up at a faster phase than others. ATM surcharges, in particular, increase at a rate that's far faster than the pace of inflation.

WILLIS: Use an ATM on your own bank' s network, no problems, no fees, but step outside that, now you're going to pay fees big-time. An average of 2.22 cents. That's an increase of 12.6% over last year. And guess what, it gets worse. Your bank charges you fees, too, for a total fee of $3.54 for accessing your own money.

If you have an interest bearing account and fail to keep your high minimum balance, the average monthly fee jumped 5% to $12.25, and overdraft fees were up last year too. Fees for bouncing a check rose 2%.

Bank of America told CNN its changed its overdraft policies just this month. No longer will a charge overdraft fees when a customer's account is overdrawn for a total amount of less than $10, and the bank won't impose more than four overdraft fees in a single day. Elizabeth Warren, a Harvard professor who chairs congresses TARP Oversight Committee says fees are the real way banks make their money.

ELIZABETH WARREN, TARP OVERSIGHT COMMITTEE: The truth is, there will be another fee tomorrow and a different one the day after and another one the day after that. Because they are all hidden. You can't find them. The first time most people discover them is when they have to pay them. WILLIS: Abrams complained to the bank twice before going to the top and writing a letter to CEO, Ken Lewis, and that made the difference. His fees were removed but the frustration remains.

ABRAMS: I really think it's unfair especially coming from -- in light of what's going on with banks now. And they're being bailed out by the government. I think they have some kind of responsibility to consumers.


HOLMES: Other hidden fees may also creep into your bills. Also busting that budget of yours. Next hour, Gerri Willis has details on who you to avoid being "Nickeled and Dimed."

Take a look at this picture here. Parts of Colorado we're showing you here. Snowed under essentially. We're playing the "White Christmas" music but this, of course, is October. More than three feet fell in some places there. Highways shut down. Hundreds of flights delayed or canceled. And the snow is still coming.

Rob Marciano keeping an eye on things. Rob, I happened to be in Denver when that stuff started. Just barely got out of there late Wednesday night. So, good to be back. It was scary stuff. Not used to seeing that, living here in Atlanta.

ROB MARCIANO, AMS METEOROLOGIST: Well, you're quite a team player to volunteer to stick back and report live for us about this record-breaking...

HOLMES: Yeah, they already had someone in place.


HOLMES: I offered, Rob, I did.

MARCIANO: Oh, I know you did. Listen, if there's a gamer in the house, it's you, big daddy. All right, T.J., take a look at this.


HOLMES: All right. We appreciate you, kind sir. We appreciate you pulling up that music for us one more time.

MARCIANO: See you later.

HOLMES: All right. We'll talk about youth sports coming up here next. We're talking about the high-stakes game of youth sports. Putting a lot of kids in danger. Facing some pretty serious injuries out there as they try to be their own sports heroes.


HOLMES: Some of the top stories we're keeping an eye on for you. Rescue crews searching for nine people missing after two military aircraft collided in flight. This is off the San Diego coast. The Coast Guard says survivors can last about 20 hours in that water given the temperature being about 65 degrees. It's been about twelve-and-a- half hours since that crash now.

A father accused of running his own daughter over with the car has been captured. Falay Al-Melechi (ph) is the man's name. He's been on the run ever since. Police say he attacked his daughter last week in the parking lot in Glendale, Arizona. He was taken into custody in Georgia. Al-Melechi is said to have been upset because his daughter was violating their Muslim family tradition and was becoming too, quote, "Westernized." The family moved to the United States from Iraq in the '90s. The 20-year-old woman is hospitalized and in serious condition now.

Commuters in California, oh my goodness. This is a mess. Transportation officials are hoping that they will be able to open up the Bay Bridge again this morning. Well, actually, not going to happen. The bridge is the main artery in and out of San Francisco from the East Bay over into San Francisco. You need to take that bridge. Has an upper and lower deck. And very important. Well, it's shut down right now. Falling debris caused the bridge's closure on Tuesday.

In Pennsylvania, the supreme court there has thrown out the conviction of thousands of juvenile offenders. That's about five years worth of cases because the judge in those cases has been charged with taking money to send the offenders to private detention centers. Only about a small fraction of the nearly 6,500 cases will actually be retried.

It was just yesterday we were talking to you about Congress taking a closer look at pro football injuries. But here are millions of kids who aren't getting paid to play, of course. Yet they face some of the same dangers as their sports heroes. Experts say 3.5 million children under the age of 15 seek medical treatment for sports injuries every single year.

Well, Buzz Bissinger is the author of "Friday Night Lights." He knows a thing about high school and youth sports. A critically acclaimed inside look, of course, at "Friday Night Lights" at the high stakes of high school football in Texas. He joins us live from Philadelphia.

Buzz, we appreciate you being here. Is this the kids pushing themselves to the limit or are parents pushing their kids?

BUZZ BISSINGER, AUTHOR, "FRIDAY NIGHT LIGHTS": You know, I think it's mostly - look, kids are competitive. But I think over the past ten years, it's gotten out of control. I think a lot of it is coaches who are inexperienced. It's winning at any cost. Kid comes off with an injury, they don't know how serious it is. They're not trainers. There aren't doctors there.

And then you have parents, who've frankly become maniacal. We've all seen it. We've all heard about it. The Little League level. The Peewee level in football. The Pop Warner (ph) level. And they want their kids to play. They all have this dream now of my little Johnny or Judy getting a college scholarship, so a kid comes off, he seems a little bit hurt, and, you know, I think a lot of parents and coaches say get, "Come on, get back in there. Don't be a weak one."

HOLMES: Buzz, what's -- I guess what's driving it? It sounds more so like parents are driving, but, of course, high school, I mean, youth athletics been around a long time. The equipment has been kind of the same. Some changes. Also, for the most part we know that most high schools don't have those good doctors, and coaches aren't that well trained. Not much in those areas of change, so is it really the parents, those maniacal parents, as you call them, is that really what is changing?

BISSINGER: Well, I think that's what's changed the most. In certain areas, like high school football in Texas, it's always been a high-stakes game. You're always going to have coaches who are playing kids hurt.

When I was writing about "Friday Night Lights" and in Odessa (ph), Texas. Now, this is the '80s. Things may have changed a little bit. You know, not to be graphic, but there was a kid who was a sophomore. He had a groin injury after a football game. He told the doctor. The doctor said it's not that serious. Take aspirin or whatever.

He went back home. His testicle swelled up to the size of a grapefruit. He finally went to the emergency room and the doctor said it's too late. He had a testicle removed. There is story after story.

But trickling down, whether it is New York, whether it's New Jersey or whether it's Minnesota, I think parents have gotten more and more fanatical. I think a lot of it is -- look. Youth sports, high school sports, certainly, is covered more than ever. It's on national television. Newspapers cover it more widely than ever before.

Look at these Web sites about recruiting, and I just think that parents are convinced that if their kid plays hard enough and is good enough, he's going get a college scholarship. And the odds of that are extremely remote. That's the tragedy. And even at the NFL level there, hasn't been as much done as there could have to really build the right protective equipment. And until the NFL does it, it's never going to trickle down.

HOLMES: So many issues here that are contributing to this. How much will it help if the pros, like you just said, set a better example? Of course, we're a society that certainly holds up athletes on a pedestal. We're pulling kids out of junior high school and identifying them, and they're signing to play here and there. It's nuts how we've gotten with youth sports in this country. But how much would it help to change things if at the top level we start to see some changes? The pros start to do things differently?

BISSINGER: I think it would help tremendously. I think the fact that there are hearings are being held is a help. At least it creates an awareness. The disturbing part is, the NFL commissions a study. They commission it. The statistics are scary. There's basically 19 times the rate of NFL players getting concussions than the normal population. And then the NFL sort of discredits the study. "There has to be more study done. We don't know if statistics are correct. A lot was done by phone."

It's sort of like the tobacco industry commissioning a study and then saying cigarettes aren't that harmful to your health. The NFL has to realize there's been brilliant reporting done by Alan Schwartz and "The New York Times." This is a critical problem.

I know they get paid money. But no athlete should be subjected to what some of the players are being subjected to because of so many hits and so many concussions, they are getting Alzheimer's at the ages of 40 and 45. That isn't right.

So, if the nfl goes to M.I.T. or Cal Tech and says, "Build us the most protective helmet that you can," then it will trickle down. This is in hockey. Twenty percent of teenagers get concussions in hockey. Mark Messeir, great, great hockey player, hall of famer in the NHL, with a sports equipment manufacturer designed a new helmet that cuts down on brain injuries 26 percent. Do you know how many players in the NHL are using it? Eight...

HOLMES: Just a handful. They don't like it.

BISSINGER: Eight, because they don't like the shape. This is what we're dealing with.

HOLMES: I guess we could all do a little better at helping changing the culture of sports. But you're right. It's gotten nuts.

Buzz Bissinger, we appreciate you taking the time. This is something you studied a lot. We appreciate your insight, and hopefully this will help. Sounds like parents need to back off.

BISSINGER: Well, I hope it will, because it really has gotten out of control. Thanks very much.

HOLMES: No, Buzz, thanks so much.

We're going to turn now to a diplomatic breakthrough in Honduras. Negotiators striking a deal that could bring the deposed president back to power.


HOLMES: The U.S. is seeking clarification from Iran on its counteroffer to an international draft reached last week. That proposal tentatively accepted by Iran would have Iran send its low- enriched uranium to Russia for refinement. Iran now calling for its uranium to be enriched on Iranian soil by a third country under U.N. nuclear watchdog supervision.

Turn now the political critical crisis in Honduras. It may soon come to a close. Negotiators for deposed president Manuel Zelaya have struck a deal with the de facto government there that could lead to him returning to power. Here's our senior Latin affairs correspondent -- Latin American affairs correspondent, Rafael Romo.


RAFAEL ROMO, CNN SENIOR LATIN AMERICAN AFFIARS CORRESPONDENT (on camera): It took more than four months of intense negotiations, but a U.S.-backed agreement to put an end to the political crisis in Honduras was finally reached last night. President Manuel Zelaya was forced out of the country by his political enemies last June 28th. An interim government was formed and has been ruling the country ever since.

Last night's agreement talks about a the creation of a unity government to prepare the country for presidential elections to be carried out on November 29th. Ousted president Manuel Zelaya says his return to power is imminent, but the agreement says the decision is up to the national congress.

Interim president Roberto Micheletti urged Zelaya to sign the agreement, which he calls "an extraordinary opportunity to end the crisis." U.S. special envoy Tom Shannon called it a great victory for Honduran democracy. It's not yet clear what will happen if the Honduran congress votes against reinstating Zelaya.

Rafael Romo, CNN, Atlanta.


HOLMES: Well, they are scaring up some winners in this tough economy. Halloween houses. You know, those haunted houses you always see around Halloween? With guys like that that scare you in the middle of the night. You actually pay to go into these things. They are making a killing right about now.


HOLMES: All righty. A lot of people trying to figure out what to be for Halloween. A big decision for some. For others, it's just another day. But still, we respect it. We've been asking you, just for the fun of it on this Friday before Halloween what you want to be for Halloween. Got some responses on my Facebook page and also on Twitter.

Do you want to come hear and look at them or are we going to take them the other way? Yes, nothing is there. Sorry, the Mac isn't doing it for me. There we go! There's the blog at least where we were asking it, what you want to be for Halloween. I'll share some of the answers that I have gotten.

From Facebook, Satia (ph) actually says, she's going to be a sexy fallen angel. I have no idea what that means.

Have another that says simply, broke. Someone else says they're going to be "balloon boy." Someone else says they're going to be myself. And that should suffice.

Yes, to the director, I'm on the Facebook page here. And one more. Someone says they're going to go as Barack-ula. Like Dracula, but instead of sucking blood, he sucks tax dollars. Get it? Like (INAUDIBLE). We appreciate that. Quick break. We'll be right back.


HOLMES: It's the business of boo. Halloween, prime time for haunted houses. They come in all shapes and sizes with all kinds of ghouls and freaks trying to scare you who just paid your money to get into it. CNN all-platform journalist Jim Spellman went to one near Denver to see if he could handle the horror.


JIM SPELLMAN, CNN ALL-PLATFORM JOURNALIST (voice-over): Most businesses would hate to see their customers running out the door. But this one is chasing them away.

KATHE WALKER, "HAUTREPRENEUR": We're hauntrepreneurs. I mean, it's true. We just like to do things that are just a little bit different.

SPELLMAN: Welcome to Slaughterhouse Goulch and the 13th Door. Haunted houses that Kathe Walker owns in the Denver area.

WALKER: They run out screaming, than the actors have done their job. Everybody has had a good time because they want to be scared. That's why they come. If they're not scared, they're not going to be coming back.

SPELLMAN: So, how do they scare them? Take a staff of teenagers and 20-somethings, dress them up, make them up, and turn them loose.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Here comes the bride...


SPELLMAN (on camera): OK, you totally know it's fake but it's pretty scary.

(voice-over): And the formula is working. Walker says this Halloween season, about 45,000 people will pony up 15 bucks a head to get scared at her four haunted houses. And across the country, the haunted house business is booming.

According to the Haunted House Association -- yes, they really have their own association -- the seasonal haunts are a $300 million a year business.

But for Kathe Walker and her fellow "hauntrepreneurers," you have to be in it for the scares.

WALKER: You make some money, obviously, you know, because that's why you keep doing it. But for the most part, we put a lot of the money that we have back into the haunted house so that we can keep making them bigger and better...

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You'll pay or you will die!

SPELLMAN: And scarier.

Jim Spellman, CNN, Aurora, Colorado.


HOLMES: And on that note, Don Lemon, knock yourself out.