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Road Ahead for Health Reform; Fort Hood Suspect off Ventilator and Able to Speak; Dow Highest in a Year, Still Climbing
Aired November 09, 2009 - 12:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
TONY HARRIS, CNN ANCHOR: All right. Time now for your top-of- the-hour reset. I'm Tony Harris in the CNN NEWSROOM. It is noon at the Capitol, where historic health care reform squeaks past the House and heads for bigger challenge in the Senate.
Still, in Washington, the GOP tries to rebuild. Is Mitt Romney the architect of the future Republican Party? It is 6:30 p.m. in Berlin, where world leaders, past and present, are marking the fall of the Berlin Wall 20 years ago.
Let's get started.
A narrow victory in the House and tough road ahead in the Senate; Democrats pushing for health care reform get back to work today, after celebrating a weekend win. The House approved its sweeping health care overhaul. Details from congressional correspondent Brianna Keilar.
BRIANNA KEILAR, CNN CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): After a weekend of arm twisting, it was praise from the president.
BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Moments like this are why they sent us here, to finally meet the challenges that Washington has put off for decades, to make their lives better and this nation stronger.
KEILAR: When the final vote was tallied, Democrats cheered.
KEILAR: Across the aisle, silence. And after the vote, the leader of the Republican National Committee came out swinging against the bill's government-run insurance plan.
MICHAEL STEELE, RNC CHAIRMAN: This is a government takeover of our health care system. It is unnecessary.
KEILAR: The bill would extend insurance coverage to 36 million uninsured Americans. It would create a government-run insurance program and require every American to buy insurance or pay a fine.
Businesses with payrolls over $500,000 would be required to offer employees insurance or pay a fine. It would expand Medicaid and give federal subsidies to low-income and middle class Americans to help them buy insurance. The bill would also stop insurance companies from denying coverage because of a pre-existing condition or dropping people when they get sick.
REP. CHRIS VAN HOLLEN (D), MARYLAND: The message was clear. It's time to begin to fix what has been a broken health care system for millions of Americans.
KEILAR: Nonpartisan congressional number crunchers estimate the House version would cost nearly $1.1 trillion over 10 years. Cuts to Medicare and tax increases on wealthy Americans would pay for the provision.
Thirty-nine Democrats voted against the bill and only one Republican voted for it.
REP. MIKE PENCE (R),INDIANA: Nancy Pelosi last night said that they were answering the call of history. Well, I've got to tell you, if Democrats keep ignoring the American people, their party is going to be history in about a year.
HARRIS: OK. Brianna Keilar live from Capitol Hill.
And Brianna, what's next as the focus shifts to the Senate?
KEILAR: The first step, Tony, is that Democratic leaders need to get all of the math done on their bill, that all-important number crunching that will tell us how much the bill costs, whether it adds to the deficit, how many uninsured will be covered by this bill. They're still waiting on that.
Sources telling us that could happen later this week, Tony. One Democratic leadership aide telling us the debate on this bill could begin next week, but we also understand it could slide until after Thanksgiving.
And you know what was interesting about Saturday in the House? We saw four hours of debate on their health care bill. We're expecting to see three to four weeks of debate, as much as that, in the Senate. So it's going to be weeks before we see a vote in the Senate.
HARRIS: Wow. And what are you hearing about the optional public option?
KEILAR: Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid has said that there will be an option in the bill he puts on the Senate floor, but it's a government-run insurance plan that states would have the chance to opt out of it. Now, it still has a lot of pitfalls, I have to tell you, because there are a lot of moderate Democrats who may still have an issue with this.
And not only that, Joe Lieberman, he's an independent but someone that Democrats will count on for a vote to get to that all-important 60 vote threshold if they can't get any Republican support. He has said if this bill has any sort of public option, he's not going to support it. So this is going to be a long, tough road. No guarantee at all that a public option will pass the Senate.
HARRIS: Well, here we go.
All right. Brianna Keilar on Capitol Hill for us.
Brianna, thank you.
You know, hurricane season is almost over. Wouldn't you know it? Here comes Ida.
The hurricane lost its punch this morning as winds dropped to 70 miles an hour. Forecasters believe Ida will remain a tropical storm when it hits the Gulf Coast. That's expected early tomorrow. The Florida Panhandle looks like the likely target, but the whole Southeast will see some drenching rains.
And remembering the victims of a suspected serial killer in Cleveland, hundreds of people holding candles march to the home where police found the bodies of 11 women.
Our national correspondent, Susan Candiotti, talked with the mother of one of the victims.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SUSAN CANDIOTTI, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: As we stand here in front of this home, where they found your daughter, what is that like for you?
INEZ FORTSON, MOTHER OF VICTIM: It's hard because I want to burn it down. I really would like to. It's very hard. That's why I won't look at it.
CANDIOTTI: Why won't you look at it?
FORTSON: Because I know my baby was in there, and she got killed in there. You know, it's -- and it's hard.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HARRIS: Anthony Sowell, a convicted sex offender, has been charged with five counts of murder. Police say more charges are possible.
Fort Hood shooting suspect Nidal Hasan is off a ventilator this morning and able to talk, but whether Hasan is answering questions about Thursday's shooting spree is another thing.
CNN's Samantha Hayes is at Fort Hood.
And Samantha, let's do this -- let's do a little up-to-the-minute update for everyone here.
What is the latest you're hearing on Major Hasan's condition? SAMANTHA HAYES, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Tony, we understand that his ventilator was removed at the hospital where he's being treated in San Antonio, and an official at that hospital tells us that he has been talking to the staff. Now, that person couldn't tell us whether he's also been talking to investigators, which is something we know that they're very interested in doing when he is able. So, it looks like he has made some progress on that health front.
The memorial service is going to take place tomorrow, Tuesday, here at Sadowski Field. There are preparations under way for that and have been last night, and also today. You can probably see the big storage containers that have been erected as a border around this.
There's been some question as to, why is that really necessary on a military installation, where you already have heightened security? But they want to be really careful.
Of course, we have the president, the first lady and other top officials attending. And this is a huge post, and there are thousands of soldiers and military personnel, civilian contractors and other visitors. And they just want to make sure that they can contain this area and be able to watch it carefully.
In terms of the investigation, more information seems to be coming out from friends and family about the tensions building for the suspect, Nidal Hasan, and that he had increasing conflict about his service in the military and his religious beliefs as a Muslim. And this morning, Private Joseph Foster, who was wounded with a shot in the hip after the shooting, talked to CNN about what happened during the shooting and something that he heard the suspect say.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
PVT. JOSEPH FOSTER, WOUNDED DURING ATTACK: I was sitting in what they call Station 13. It's where we get basically our final outs of our RSP system. And I was sitting in about the second row back when the assailant stood up, screamed -- yelled "Allahu Akbar!" in Arabic, and he opened fire.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HAYES: Private Foster was scheduled to be deployed to Afghanistan in January, and he says he still wants to make every effort to be able to make that deployment on time. Currently, he's walking with a cane because he's still recovering from that gunshot wound.
Tony, we're awaiting a press conference from Army officials here at Fort Hood. We believe it was supposed to start at noon. It appears it's been delayed for some reason, but as soon as it starts we'll bring you that information right away.
HARRIS: Samantha Hayes for us in Fort Hood, Texas.
Samantha, good to see you. Thank you.
The Dow hits its highest level in more than a year. So maybe my 401(k) is back to being a 301(k) at least?
Susan Lisovicz is in New York at the New York Stock Exchange.
Good numbers here to start the week -- Susan?
SUSAN LISOVICZ, CNN BUSINESS CORRESPONDENT: Good numbers, yes. And we're seeing the Dow at its high for the past 52 weeks, so for a year. We're seeing some nice numbers here, a nice rally.
Why is that? Well, because G-20 ministers were talking over the weekend, saying that they're going to keep stimulus measures in place. So not pulling the punch bowl away, Tony.
We're going to keep drinking from that stimulus, and that's bullish stuff. We're seeing big rallies in Europe. Those exchanges are still open. We saw a big rally in Asia.
And what else is going on? We're starting to see some deal- making. And when you start to see companies spending money and taking risks, that is also bullish, whether it's Kraft and Cadbury, or GE and Comcast, or Northrop Grumman selling one of its units.
LISOVICZ: So, you're starting to see that kind of activity, and that's really what's fueling the bulls right now. We've got the three major averages all up 1.5 percent. Yes, so maybe your 401(k) actually will be a 401(k) by the end of the year -- Tony.
HARRIS: It will grow back up again.
All right, Susan. Good to see you. Thank you.
LISOVICZ: You're welcome.
HARRIS: Remembering the fallen of Fort Hood. Coming up, we learn more about the victims.
HARRIS: CNN and Oprah -- wow, love this -- team up for the biggest Oprah's Book Club event ever. The book is "Say You're One of Them." For special online content, go to CNN.com/OprahBookClub. You can read excerpts from the book, watch Oprah's video blogs, file an i- Report and share your thoughts. Then join the event on the new CNN.com tonight, 9:00 p.m. Eastern, 8:00 Central.
All right. Former presidential candidate Mitt Romney hasn't officially said whether he'll run again in the next election cycle, but he certainly seems to be positioning himself as candidate.
National Political Correspondent Jessica Yellin has details on how Romney is spending his time.
JESSICA YELLIN, CNN NATIONAL POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: Tony, Mitt Romney has been traveling the country raising money for fellow Republicans and giving speeches. It sure seems he's doing what it takes to remain well-positioned to run for president in 2012.
YELLIN (voice-over): These days, former Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney is spending his time fundraising, campaigning, and generally building alliances with party leaders.
MITT ROMNEY (R), FORMER PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Seeing friends and leaders of the conservative movement from across the country is something that warms my heart.
YELLIN: For someone who won't say if he's running for president again, he's acting an awful lot like a candidate in waiting.
(on camera): So, you'll campaign going to 2010?
ROMNEY: I pretty much plan that from now until November of 2010, I'm going to be working to help elect conservatives across the country.
YELLIN (voice-over): Once labeled "inauthentic" by critics for governing Massachusetts as a centrist, then moving to the right, these days Romney says he believes conservatives are the heart of his party.
(on camera): You didn't say electing Republicans. You said conservatives. It is important to you that you find people on the conservative edge of the Republican Party?
ROMNEY: I want to elect Republicans, and Republicans are conservative. I will, by and large, being supporting those that are conservative Republicans.
YELLIN (voice-over): And he's staking out ground as a fierce critic of President Obama on foreign policy...
ROMNEY: I think he's made America less safe in that our friends are more concerned about the reliability of the United States.
YELLIN: ... on governing philosophy...
ROMNEY: I think he fundamentally believes that America is in a slow decline, that other parts in the world are becoming stronger, and that we should manage ourselves through this decline.
YELLIN: ... and on economic solutions.
ROMNEY: His stimulus plan was crafted by Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid. He abdicated his leadership on the most critical piece of economic legislation of his administration.
YELLIN: Romney has been put on the defensive by fellow Republicans over Massachusetts' universal health care plan which he helped establish as governor. It's expanded coverage but has also cost the state more than projected.
MIKE HUCKABEE (R), FORMER PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Seventy-five percent of the people in Massachusetts have said they don't think it's a success.
YELLIN: Romney's response?
ROMNEY: We found a way to get everybody insured in the state, and we did that without a public option, no government insurance, and without the need for raising taxes.
YELLIN: Big picture, Romney is optimistic about the future of the Republican Party. And guess who he credits?
ROMNEY: Well, I think the Republican Party has been rejuvenated by the missteps taken by President Obama.
YELLIN: Now, Romney insists he's not made up his mind whether he will run in 2012. He says he won't even begin to consider it until after next year's midterm elections -- Tony.
HARRIS: Jessica, thank you.
The Tea Party Express rolls into more towns and cities today. Protesters were out in force over the weekend rallying against the health care reform bill. The Tea Party Express continues its cross- country tour with stops today in Birmingham, Alabama, and Atlanta. The rallies highlight opposition to massive government spending programs, bailouts and higher taxes.
And the fall of the wall. It's been 20 years since the Berlin Wall was opened peacefully, signaling the beginning of the end of the Cold War.
Live pictures now of the celebration. We will go live to Germany as the word celebrates that pivotal moment in history.
HARRIS: All right. Checking our top stories now.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is coming to the White House. The Israeli leader will meet Monday evening with President Obama. The two are expected to discuss Israel's controversial settlements in the West Bank.
Secretary of State Hillary Clinton in Berlin today on the 20th anniversary of the day the wall fell. She offered congratulations to the people of Germany during a meeting with Chancellor Angela Merkel.
The Philadelphia transit strike is over. The city's largest transit union accepted a contract early this morning, ending the six- day standoff, just in time for rush hour.
We will get another check of our top stories in 20 minutes.
The 13 people killed at Fort Hood, 12 soldiers, one civilian, were like the military itself. They came from all corners and all walks of life -- teenagers, to a grandmother of six.
CNN's Don Lemon profiles some of the lives that were lost.
DON LEMON, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): They were husbands and sons, daughters, a mother-to-be -- the fallen of Fort Hood. Thirteen lives lost, their loved ones left only to grieve and wonder why.
SHERYL PEARSON, FALLEN SOLDIER'S MOTHER: This was just amazing to me. It still doesn't seem real to me. I don't know. I'm still wondering what happened.
LEMON: Sheryl Pearson was stunned by her son Michael's death. The private first class from Bolingbrook, Illinois, was just 22. He'd left a nowhere job to join the military and see the world.
PEARSON: He wanted to serve his country. He wanted to get an education. He wanted to travel. And he just wanted to do something with his life.
LEMON: Specialist Jason Dean Hunt answered the call of duty, fresh out of high school. He had survived a stint in Iraq. He didn't survive the rampage at Fort Hood.
At the time of his death, Hunt had only been married for two months. His sister, Leila Willingham, recalled Hunt as selfless.
LEILA WILLINGHAM, FALLEN SOLDIER'S SISTER: He's always been a hero, even before this. And I think he is even more so. Just because he wasn't overseas killed in combat, I think he was -- I think he did jump in front of a bullet for somebody.
LEMON: Juan Velez was proud when his daughter Francheska enlisted in the Army. He was especially proud of her service in Iraq, although it did cause him many sleepless nights.
JUAN VELEZ, FALLEN SOLDIER'S FATHER: Because she was going over there, so, you know, it's war. You know? And many things can happen. You know? So I was very scared.
LEMON: That's why Velez was relieved when his daughter returned to the U.S. She was pregnant, and she was coming home to Chicago early. He thought the worry was finally behind him until a lieutenant colonel came to break the news, Francheska was dead.
VELEZ: For me, it was, like, a slap in my face, because I supported my daughter to join the Army. I supported her to go to Iraq, fight for her country, for our freedom. And what I can't understand is that she didn't die in Iraq. She got back home, safe, and she died in the base by the hand of a -- supposedly a soldier. For me, he wasn't a soldier.
LEMON: Francheska Velez, Jason Dean Hunt and Michael Pearson, three of 13 men and women thrust into harm's way at home.
RONALD REAGAN, FORMER U.S. PRESIDENT: Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HARRIS: Boy, a memorable line from President Ronald Reagan. A call made in June of 1987 at Berlin's Brandenburg Gate. Some 30 months later, the wall would indeed crumble. The anniversary is being marked today at the Reagan Presidential Library in southern California. Live pictures, I trust. OK. All right. Schoolchildren at this hour will be tearing down a 32-foot replica of the Berlin Wall. I think you heard them cheering just a moment ago.
You know, it's been a day of celebrations and memorials in Germany. Let's go live to CNN's Frederik Pleitgen in Berlin.
Fred, great to see you.
Got to tell you, we've been following some of the red carpet arrivals. If you would, describe the day and evening so far.
FREDERIK PLEITGEN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Hi, Tony.
Certainly it's been a big day of celebrations here in Berlin. I'm actually standing at one of the pieces of the Berlin Wall. One of the few pieces that is still left standing here in this city.
It's been a large day of celebrations here today. Of course, Secretary Clinton is also here. She also held talks with German Chancellor Angela Merkel earlier today. Also, Angela Merkel went through what was the first border crossing which was opened between east and west Germany earlier with former Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev and also with the former head of the Polish solidarity movement, Lech Walesa. Of course, both of those absolutely instrumental in bringing down the Berlin Wall and also making German unity happen.
You know, and a lot more is still going to be coming throughout the day. Just a couple of minutes from now, in about half an hour, the celebrations here will culminate with the toppling of some 1,000 dominoes at the Brandenburg Gate. So certainly we'll be looking forward to that. And after that, of course, there's going to be a big party in central Berlin to commemorate the falling of the Berlin Wall.
HARRIS: All right. CNN's Frederik Pleitgen for us. Fred, appreciate it. Thank you.
You know, there are a few moments people remember as clearly as the fall of that wall. And today people around the world are sharing their memories with us. Let's get you to Josh Levs, who is following that.
JOSH LEVS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Every which way, Tony. We're hearing from people every way. I've been showing you some cool interactives on the screen behind me, but also our producers are out in the streets asking people about their memories. Take a look.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It was very dramatic. It was -- we saw people tearing down the wall, taking pieces home for souvenirs. People were crying, celebrating. It was just a magnificent occasion. It was a watershed moment in history, I think.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: And I remember the bodies falling over the -- the people jumping over the walls and families embracing who hadn't seen each other in quite a few years.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translator): It seems absolutely everything. Two peoples that were separated by a brick wall able to start living together as they wished. Something that seemed untenable.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
LEVS: So we're hearing from people all over the world. And, Tony, as you know, we're also getting a lot of iReports. Lots of people sending in their images.
Now I told you last hour about an i-Report that's getting a lot of people talking today.
HARRIS: Yes. Yes.
LEVS: This is so great. Take a look at this.
(INSERT VIDEO CLIP)
LEVS: This is great. This is a group called Kidz of Horst, inside Germany, and they have this song going that's celebrating reunification. And, I'll tell you, it's caught on there. It's catching on all over the world. And we have it at the new i- report.com. These kids are great, Tony. They're a group of eight to 15-year-olds from a small village in the outskirts of Hanover, Germany. This is one of the many things we've linked up for you.
Let's load the screen where everything is linked up for you. It's at the blog, cnn.com/josh. Also, FaceBook and Twitter, JoshLevsCNN. And while you're online at the blog, you should check out a blog called "in the field," in which one of our producers, my producer, Andreas Preuss, has posted some of his photos. And he's going to join us now from the newsroom.
ANDREAS PREUSS, CNN SUPERVISING PRODUCER: That's cool stuff.
LEVS: He heard me talking about him.
HARRIS: He finagled his way on television today? I cannot believe it.
LEVS: We're the last (INAUDIBLE).
PREUSS: You know, it's all about the story today.
PREUSS: It's an amazing story, you know, out of Berlin. A lot of joyous memories for myself and my family. My mother is from Berlin and we went there in April of 1990 after watching the wall come down.
LEVS: Let's see those pictures as he tells us about this.
PREUSS: Took some pictures. I wrote a blog entry. You see my mom was, you know, growing up during wartime. You know, she could not believe that this was actually happening. So as soon as we saw it on CNN, we got on a plane, traveled to Berlin.
HARRIS: Look at this.
PREUSS: Here you see what the east German border guard, you know, in the wall. These pictures are, you know, a part of our family history now. You know here's myself looking pretty groovy in 1980. That was 20 years ago.
LEVS: Are those lederhosen? No, they're not.
PREUSS: You know, lots of -- I, you know, brought back a piece of the wall. You know, here's -- this is with a trevy (ph). This is an old east German car, you know, down by the wall that was burned out.
HARRIS: Yes. Yes.
PREUSS: You know, a symbolism of east Germany. But, yes, lots of great memories. And I'm always very fortunate to get the i-Reports in so other people around the world are also remembering this time 20 years ago.
LEVS: It really is amazing to me. Tony, I'll tell you, from Andreas, from our i-Reporters, from what I'm seeing online today, I'm learning a lot, too. These are really, you know, moving pieces of history. One of the moments that really changed the world. And lots of people with very strong memories of that, including right here in the newsroom.
HARRIS: So, Andreas, you've got the pictures up at cnn.com. You're posting a blog. PREUSS: They're -- yes, I wrote a blog entry for cnn.com, "in the field," which is a blog from correspondents, reporters, photographers. That's posted online.
PREUSS: So you can also see that on cnn.com/newsroom, as you know as well, Tony.
HARRIS: And, Josh, I didn't sign off on this, but you forced me to do it. It worked out well.
LEVS: Oh, you would (INAUDIBLE) it on you.
HARRIS: It worked out well.
LEVS: I would have been in trouble.
HARRIS: Gentlemen, thank you.
PREUSS: Thank you.
HARRIS: From a weekend victory to Monday reality for Democrats in their push for health care reform. Here's the latest of where things stand. The focus now moves to the Senate where the Democrats face a tough fight. The House passed its version of health reform, 220 to 215 late Saturday. Thirty-nine Democrats voted against the House bill. One Republican voted in favor of it, Congressman Joseph Cao of Louisiana.
President Obama is keenly aware of the challenges ahead in the Senate for health care reform. Without Republican support, he will have to hold all 58 Democrats and the two independents who caucus with him.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Moments like this are why they sent us here to, make finally meet the challenges that Washington has put off for decades. To make their lives better and this nation stronger. To move America forward.
That's what the House did last night when it brought us closer than we have ever been to comprehensive health insurance reform in America. Now it falls on the United States Senate to take the baton and bring this effort to the finish line on behalf of the American people. And I'm absolutely confident that they will.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HARRIS: The House bill would be the biggest expansion of health care coverage since Medicare was created more than 40 years ago. But not everyone thinks that's a good idea. Here's some of the back and forth debate between supporters and opponents of the legislation.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) REP. JACK KINGSTON (R), GEORGIA: If your kitchen sink is leaking, you fix the sink. You don't take a wrecking ball to the entire kitchen. This bill is a wrecking ball to the entire economy.
REP. SUE MYRICK (R), NORTH CAROLINA: Americans are struggling with health care costs. We all know that. Too many families can't afford coverage. And small businesses are struggling to find coverage for their employees. However, this bill does not fix their underlying problems -- the cost of health insurance. It's an unprecedented expansion of federal government spending that will only dig a deeper hole of debt for generations to come.
REP. G.K. BUTTERFIELD (D), NORTH CAROLINA: We have an obligation, constitutional and moral, to provide for the general welfare of every American citizen. Allowing a broken health care system to continue to bankrupt families, businesses and hospitals, and deny coverage to millions is a failure of duty. We must act now.
REP. BRUCE BRALEY (D), IOWA: If you want to talk about real meaningful health care reform, it's important to talk about the most critical aspect of true, meaningful health care reform, standing up for patients. Patient safety . . .
Who, who, who, who will speak for the patients?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The gentleman will suspend.
BRALEY: Who will speak for the patients?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The gentlemen will suspend. The House will be in order. We will just wait -- we will just wait until all members are willing to respect the House.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HARRIS: Wow. OK. Up next, the battle in the Senate where government-run health insurance promises to be a major sticking point.
Let's get you caught up now on our top stories.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu will be in Washington next week. He and President Obama meet Monday evening at the White House. The White House wants to discuss those controversial Israeli West Bank settlements.
An Iranian prosecutor says three American hikers will be charged with espionage. You can see the hikers here clowning around in this video just before they entered Iran from Iraq July 31st. Their families say they unknowingly strayed into Iran. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton says the U.S. believes there is no evidence to support spying charges.
The red flags are out along parts of the U.S. Gulf Coast. Hurricane Ida was downgraded earlier this morning to a tropical storm. Still, it is expected to dump several inches of rain over the southeast. Just minutes ago, Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal talked about preparations for the storm.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GOV. BOBBY JINDAL (R), LOUISIANA: It is important for our people to be prepared, but not -- but, again, not to overreact. We think that the largest impacts -- the heaviest impacts will most likely be in southeast Louisiana, especially in St. Bernard and Plaquemines Parish and maybe St. Tammany. We are expecting to see some coastal flooding in low lying areas, some street flooding in those areas outside of levee protection areas. In particular, those areas with poor drainage systems are likely to see flooding. The wind . . .
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HARRIS: OK. Cashing in on gold prices. More and more people swapping their bling for cold hard cash. We will take a look at the new gold rush.
HARRIS: Want to take you to the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: OK, kids, tear down this wall.
HARRIS: And let's watch as these kids tear down that wall. Now because I saw this a moment ago, a couple of kids get clunked here, but they're OK. Ouch! They're OK. It's foam. Who's the guy who had the responsibility of holding it? You dropped the ball, buddy.
All right. So, obviously, the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library commemorating the 20th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall. A number of kids from the local schools there in Simi Valley, California, taking part. Go to work on that a little more. Let's get some of that sound up on this. Watch it, kids. Timber!
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: OK, kids, that was great. Give them a round of applause.
HARRIS: All right. Good stuff. All right. Wasn't bad.
Call it the gold rush of 2009. The yellow metal is worth more than ever. But before you trade in your bling for cash, it pays to do your homework. Cnnmoney.com's Poppy Harlow shows us why.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: That's 10 karat.
POPPY HARLOW, CNNMONEY.COM (voice-over): It's not a jewelry store.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's 14 karat, see.
HARLOW: Or a pawnshop. This is a party. A gold party.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: OK, who's got gold?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I came, to be honest with you, because I need cash.
HARLOW: Each piece is examined and the gold content is measured.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And how much is it worth, Bonnie (ph)?
HARLOW: So what's Grace's payday? Well, it all depends on the purity and the weight of the gold and, most importantly, gold's current market value.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Grace, $315.18.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Wow.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Not bad for collecting dust in the drawer.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Wow.
HARLOW: But how do you know if you're getting a good price? Michael Gusky, founder of Goldfellow, the company running this party, has been in the gold business for more than 30 years. He says here you'll get 62 percent of the gold's value and warns you should never accept less than 50 percent.
MICHAEL GUSKY, CEO, GOLDFELLOW: Some of the largest companies in this business are paying as little as 18, 20 percent relative to the price of gold.
HARLOW: We were quoted $411 for this necklace at the gold party. But we hit the streets of New York in search of a better offer.
HARLOW (on camera): So now we're here in what's known as the diamond district in Manhattan. We're going to go into some of these stores, some of these establishments. As you see across the street here, they all say, you know, we buy gold. We buy, we buy, as you can see over there. So we're going to go in and we're going to try to see what they'll give us for this gold necklace.
I just wanted to sell the necklace, this necklace, but I don't know how much it's worth.
GOLD BUYER: About $500.
HARLOW: About $500.
GOLD BUYER: I'd probably go to like $620.
HARLOW: You'd go to $620.
GOLD BUYER: Yes.
HARLOW: Can I ask how much for this necklace? GOLD BUYER: $630.
HARLOW (voice-over): But the lowest offer was still to come. We headed to Canal Street in downtown Manhattan.
HARLOW (on camera): How much is it worth?
GOLD BUYER: I don't know. You tell me.
HARLOW: You tell me? I've never sold a necklace.
GOLD BUYER: It's like $200.
$200. That was my offer in there. $200. And I said, is this a fair price? Fair market value? He said, yes, a very fair price.
HARLOW: All right. Well, Tony, when I told them that I actually worked for CNN Money, they said, let's recalculate that. The necklace is actually worth $550. What this goes to show you is that in a matter of an afternoon, we got bids from $200 to almost $700 for the same necklace. You have to haggle. You have to know the purity of your gold. And the current price, Tony, gold again at a record high. You've got to be smart about this one or you're going to get ripped off.
HARRIS: You really do.
HARLOW: That full story, you can see more, it's on CNN Money.
HARRIS: Appreciate it, Poppy. Good to see you. Thank you.
A close call with a serial killer. A survivor tells a gripping story of how she entered a suspected serial killer's house of horrors and lived to talk about it.
HARRIS: The U.S. Supreme Court has weighed in on the execution date of beltway sniper mastermind John Allen Muhammad. Our homeland security correspondent, Jeanne Meserve, is following that story for us from Washington.
JEANNE MESERVE, CNN HOMELAND SECURITY CORRESPONDENT: Tony, the Supreme Court will allow this execution to go ahead. They have just ruled on this. John Allen Muhammad's lawyers had filed an appeal saying that he should spend the rest of his life in prison, but not be put to death because of mental illness. They claimed that because of childhood beatings, he sustained brain damage and this had been exacerbated by Gulf War Syndrome. You'll remember that he did serve in the first Gulf war.
But the justices rejected this. We know that at least three justices did dissent from this decision, however. Justices Stevens, Ginsburg and Sotomayor all filed a dissenting opinion saying that they think Muhammad should have had more time to file his appeals.
Now the execution is slated to go forward tomorrow evening at 9:00 Eastern Time, but the governor of Virginia, Timothy Kaine, still has a clemency request on his desk. And it is possible, given the amount of time left, that lawyers for Muhammad could file yet another appeal with the court.
Back to you, Tony.
HARRIS: OK. All right, CNN's Jeanne Meserve for us. Jeanne, thank you.
We're going to take a quick break. You're in the CNN NEWSROOM. We're back in a moment.
HARRIS: Just another reminder. We are standing by, waiting for a press conference from Fort Hood, Texas, where we expect the learn the latest in the investigation of last week's mass shooting rampage there at Foot Hood. We can tell you the latest information we have is that the primary suspect in the shooting, Major Nidal Hasan, is off of a ventilator and we understand that he is speaking with the medical staff. But we don't know at this point if he has spoken to investigators. We are expecting to get an update any minute now. And when we do, we will take you to Fort Hood, Texas.
In Cleveland, Ohio, last night, a time to remember the victims of a suspected serial killer. Several pastors organized a candlelight march to the house where police found the bodies of 11 women. Convicted sex offender Anthony Sowell is charged with five counts of aggravated murder. The women's remains were found on Sowell's property. CNN's Susan Candiotti interviews a woman who says she was abducted by Sowell and survived. A warning, this story contains language that some may find offensive.
SUSAN CANDIOTTI, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Unspeakable horror overwhelming to so many in Cleveland after the remains of 11 strangled women were discovered inside and outside the home of Anthony Sowell, who is now charged with several counts of murder.
TONYA DOSS: I could have been one of them.
CANDIOTTI: Tonya Doss has no doubt she may have been spared the same fate. Last April she says she had an encounter with Sowell that scared her out of her wits.
DOSS: He was like, well, come on, we can go look at the game at my house.
CANDIOTTI: She agreed to watch a televised basketball game in his upstairs bedroom. Off and on since 2005, Doss says she occasionally shared a beer or barbecue at Sowell's place.
CANDIOTTI (on camera): He liked to drink. She liked to drink. Tonya Doss has had several brushes with the law, mainly over drugs, including one felony conviction. Police say some of the victims found at Sowell's home had had similar troubles.
CANDIOTTI (voice-over): But Doss said she had no idea Sowell was a registered sex offender who spent 15 years in prison for attempted rape. She says he gave her a different story.
DOSS: He took the wrap for one of his brothers.
CANDIOTTI (on camera): Really?
DOSS: That's what he told me.
CANDIOTTI: He didn't mention anything about a rape or an attempted rape?
DOSS: None. None. None of that.
CANDIOTTI (voice-over): But after several beers, she says Sowell's mood suddenly changed.
DOSS: He caught me off guard. He leaped on me like this.
CANDIOTTI (on camera): So you're on the bed here?
DOSS: I'm on the corner of the bed. But when he grabbed me, pushed me back up on the bed like this. OK. I'm going back on the bed trying to -- trying to finagle (ph) (INAUDIBLE), I couldn't. So I was holding my breath and trying to take my, you know, stick my neck where he couldn't -- but he had a grip on my throat.
And my eyes started -- really I started -- couldn't breathe, couldn't talk. He said, bitch, knock on the floor three times if you want to live. And I did like this. He was still choking me. And he was like, bitch, you could be another bitch in the street dead and wouldn't nobody give a (EXPLETIVE DELETED) about you. And I started crying. I was like, why do you got to act like that, Tony? He said, oh, you think I'm playing? Bitch, take your clothes off.
CANDIOTTI (voice-over): Doss complied, but says to her surprise, Sowell did not rape her.
CANDIOTTI (on camera): Were you afraid?
DOSS: And I lay in the corner on the bed like this and just closed my eyes and prayed myself to sleep. CANDIOTTI (voice-over): In the morning, Doss says she faked a phone call telling Sowell she had to rush to the hospital to meet her daughter.
CANDIOTTI (on camera): Tonya, did you ever report this to the police?
DOSS: No, I didn't.
CANDIOTTI: Why not? Why not?
DOSS: Because I've been raped before.
CANDIOTTI (voice-over): She says when she went to authorities about that previous rape, her attacker got a light sentence and relatives blamed her for what happened. CNN could not confirm her allegation.
DOSS: When I saw him on TV and they said -- they saw bodies, all these females he choked and I was there.
CANDIOTTI: Tonya's friend, Nancy Cobb, was reported missing the same month of Doss' alleged attack. She broke down when we asked about her friend, acknowledging she was overwhelmed by guilt.
On Friday, authorities identified Cobb as one of those whose bodies were found in Sowell's home.
Susan Candiotti, CNN, Cleveland.
HARRIS: All right. And with that we're pushing forward with the next hour of CNN NEWSROOM with Kyra Phillips.