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JFK Airport Plot: Who Are the Suspects?; Analysis of Democratic Debate; Paris Hilton Reports to Jail; Cold War Comeback?
Aired June 04, 2007 - 07:59 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
JOHN ROBERTS, CNN ANCHOR: And good morning to you. It is Monday, June the 4th.
I'm John Roberts, in Manchester, New Hampshire.
KIRAN CHETRY, CNN ANCHOR: Good to see you this morning, John.
I'm Kiran Chetry, here in New York.
What caught your eye last night about the debates, John? Anything stand out for you?
ROBERTS: I really liked the interaction on Iraq. And I thought that Barack Obama had an interesting out-of-the-box response when the candidates were asked if English should be the official language of the United States.
You might remember a few weeks back on George Stephanopolous' show he said, you know, in terms of affirmative action, I think that when my daughters go to university, they should be considered as advantaged people. That was out-of-the-box thinking that even caught the eye of some Republicans. And I think he had a similar answer last night on the idea of English as an official language.
CHETRY: Yes. And it was also interesting to hear the candidates go back and forth on the Iraq issue, and Barack Obama stinging back at John Edwards over the vote.
The only thing is, is he wasn't there at the time. He wasn't in the Senate, so he didn't have a vote.
ROBERTS: Yes. Well, I mean, he was not voting for the war, but, you know, if you go back and you look at his record, he was in opposition to the war even back then.
CHETRY: Well, we have some other things "On Our Radar" this morning, much more about the candidates. We're going to take a real- time look as they scored, and possibly even stumbled in last night's debate, showing you our high-tech scoring technology and what it showed last night.
And we've got some new video for you. As the debates were going on here, and right after the MTV Awards, from tripping the light fantastic to hitting the slammer, Paris Hilton reports to jail overnight. We'll show you more of that coming up.
President Bush is on his way to Europe right now. He is going to be in the Czech Republic later on this afternoon. He'll also stop in Poland before the G8 summit begins on Wednesday in Germany.
Police have tightened checks around the summit site near the port of Rostock, Germany. On Saturday, 128 protesters were arrested and more than a thousand protesters and police were hurt in a huge clash. More protests are expected before the G8 summit opens on Wednesday.
Iran's top security official is calling those plans for a missile defense shield in Europe a "joke". He says Iran's missiles can't reach Europe.
And Iran's president, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, is calling Israel "a corrupt occupier regime that will soon be destroyed." He says the Lebanese and Palestinians will bring about that destruction.
In the meantime, Ahmadinejad is to meet with Daniel Ortega, the new president of Nicaragua. Ahmadinejad visited Ortega in Nicaragua a few months ago. Ortega's first stop will be in Libya, as he is making the trip on a jet that was lent to him by Muammar Gaddafi.
The U.S. military in Iraq is announcing a bloody start to the month of June. Fifteen soldiers were killed in the first three days of this month, including four killed by a bomb during a search in Baghdad yesterday. A roadside bomb also killed three Iraqis in Baghdad today.
Defense Secretary Robert Gates says U.S. and NATO forces are making progress against the Taliban in Afghanistan -- Kiran.
CHETRY: All right. Thanks so much, John.
Well, there is a recent increase in violence there, but Gates is saying that things are slowly, cautiously heading in the right direction. He is on his second trip to Afghanistan since becoming defense secretary back in December.
Also, violence in Lebanon spreading this morning, moving now to a second refugee camp. Two Lebanese soldiers were killed in the new fight in southern Lebanon. Thousands of troops are battling with militants linked to al Qaeda. They're holed up in this Palestinian refugee camp in the North.
Fighting there is now into its third week. More than a hundred people have died.
And now to the latest with the Kennedy airport terror plot. Two suspects being held in Trinidad face an extradition hearing about an hour from now.
This is Abdul Kadir. A picture of him there, one of them. Also, Russell Defreitas is being held in New York. Police are still looking for a fourth man. He is believed to be on the run in Trinidad.
And CNN's Jim Acosta has been following this story.
Good to see you again, Jim.
What are we learning about these men and their ability to actually pull off this attack, which, by all accounts, was still, of course, in the planning phases?
JIM ACOSTA, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Sure. Well, the relatives and friends of these suspects say that these men were not capable of carrying out such an attack. And yes, this was in the planning stage.
They never obtained any explosives, so that will raise questions as to whether or not they could actually pull this off. But authorities do point out that the alleged ringleader, Russell Defreitas, was able to fly back and forth from New York to Guyana and Trinidad to plot this attack.
CHETRY: And what about the other two suspects? There is a hearing, an extradition hearing going on for the two of them in Trinidad.
What is their story today?
ACOSTA: Well, their story is essentially that they were detained in Trinidad, and all of these suspects are originally from either Guyana or Trinidad. And one of the suspects, in fact, is a native of Guyana but is on the loose in Trinidad, or somewhere in the Caribbean. So, the notion that these are homegrown terrorists not necessarily. Their home is in the Caribbean and in South America.
CHETRY: But Defreitas has been in the U.S. He's a U.S. citizen, grew up in Guyana, but has been here for, what, some 30 years?
ACOSTA: Exactly. And worked at JFK airport as a cargo handler for about three years. But in recent years has been traveling back and forth from the U.S. to Guyana and Trinidad. And according to federal authorities, he was able to videotape, take videotape surveillance of the grounds at JFK airport, and then take those videos with him to show -- this is according to the federal authorities -- to these coconspirators in Guyana.
CHETRY: All right. We'll check in with you a little later.
The latest update on their extradition hearing about an hour away.
Jim, thank you.
ROBERTS: The Democrats took center stage last night in a debate that at times turned heated. Candidates like John Edwards and Bill Richardson were trying to break into the very top spots. How did they do last night? And what about the rest of the candidates?
Joining me once again to discuss the debate is slate.com's chief political correspondent and AMERICAN MORNING contributor, John Dickerson.
Good morning to you, John.
JOHN DICKERSON, SLATE.COM: Good morning.
ROBERTS: So, Hillary Clinton last night had a statement that you tagged in your column today for "Slate" about terrorism and whether America is safer now than we were in the past.
Let's take a quick listen to what she said.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. HILLARY RODHAM CLINTON (D-NY), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I believe we are safer than we were. We are not yet safe enough. And I have proposed over the last years a number of policies that I think we should be following.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ROBERTS: Safer than we were before. How is that going to play with the Democratic Party?
DICKERSON: Well, this is not keeping with the Democratic line, which is that President Bush has made us less safe in Iraq. And so it might be a problem for her. She had a strong night, but this is one area where her opponents were really jumping on her after the debate.
ROBERTS: What did you think of the mixing it up between the three top-tier candidates? I think Wolf Blitzer last night was really trying to get them to compare and contrast themselves with each other, to try to break them out of their talking points.
DICKERSON: That's right. At one point, Wolf had to drag it out of John Edwards, who was trying to have it both ways. He was trying to both criticize Obama and Clinton, but also not get in any trouble for directly criticizing them. Wolf had to point him out and say, exactly who are you talking about?
Edwards had the most to gain from that because he is trying to stay in the hunt and try and sort of define himself against the other two. And I think he did that last night.
ROBERTS: And some polls in New Hampshire have him running in the number two position. Some polls in Iowa have him in number one. So, if he could finish number one in Iowa and number two here in New Hampshire, that might bode well for the nomination.
And was part of what he was doing last night trying to appeal to this idea that New Hampshire voters really like forceful and confident leaders? DICKERSON: That's exactly right. And Democrats in general want somebody who is forceful and stands up for their principles. They don't want somebody who's wishy-washy and in the middle. And the Edwards people point to those state polls, as you did just now. And the Clinton people want to point to the national ones, where she's up by...
ROBERTS: But as we know, the national polls don't mean anything in this contest.
DICKERSON: Exactly right.
ROBERTS: Particularly at this period of time.
Hey, one guy who needed no winding up last night was Senator Joe Biden.
Let's take a quick listen to what he said about the situation in Darfur.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. JOSEPH BIDEN (D-DE), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: By the time all these guys talk, 50,000 more people are going to be dead! They're going to be dead! And I tell you, I guarantee you, we have the capacity by setting up a no-fly zone to shut down the Janjaweed.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ROBERTS: Well, he had the wagging finger there. And, of course, Clinton made that very popular.
I was wondering, though, was he bordering on angry?
DICKERSON: Full of beans last night. The question is, when you look at that clip by itself, he looks maybe a little overenergized. But in the course of an evening, a second-tier candidate has to do something, because they don't have much time and they've got to break in.
We're all talking about the top three. He gave a pretty forceful performance last night. So, I don't know how it's going to look in the kind of just the clip as it's played, but overall he seemed to do pretty well in terms of showing that he had conviction and he cared about something.
ROBERTS: Well, he's the guy that's getting a lot of the buzz today. No question about that.
John, thanks for your analysis. Appreciate it.
DICKERSON: Thank you.
ROBERTS: CNN, by the way, remains the place for politics tonight. Beginning at 7:00 p.m. Eastern, Hillary Clinton, Barack Obama and John Edwards talk about what role faith plays in their politics. That will be hosted tonight by Soledad O'Brien and Paula Zahn.
And then tomorrow night, the Republicans get their chance to debate. CNN's Wolf Blitzer moderates beginning at 7:00 p.m. Eastern.
CHETRY: All right. From politics to Paris Hilton.
The party over for the young socialite this morning. Last night she strolled the red carpet at the MTV Movie Awards, but then within hours, her family drove her to the Lynwood, California, lockup, about 20 minutes outside of L.A. This video coming to us courtesy of TMZ.com. It's where she is going to be spending the next 23 days.
AMERICAN MORNING'S Lola Ogunnaike with more on what Paris faces behind bars.
Welcome once again.
LOLA OGUNNAIKE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Thank you.
CHETRY: First of all, she did pull a little bait and switch, because she -- it appeared that she was just going to be attending this awards show, and then she snuck in.
OGUNNAIKE: Absolutely. People were expecting her to check in either today or tomorrow, but she actually checked in last night, 11:38 West Coast time, right after the MTV Awards. So, people were really surprised by that. And the paparazzi has been camped out for days waiting for this great photo-op, and they didn't get it.
CHETRY: And why didn't they get it? Because they were there.
OGUNNAIKE: They were there. But, you know, Paris sort of said, you know what, guys? I'm going to walk the red carpet. I'm going to work it. I'm going to answer all of those questions, and that is about it.
CHETRY: So she -- speaking of that, she did answer some questions. Let's take a listen to what she said...
CHETRY: ... when she was asked about why she didn't go to this pay jail, meaning she could have upgraded for a little bit of money. Let's listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
PARIS HILTON, SOCIALITE: Well, I did have the choice to go to a pay jail, but I declined because I feel like the media portrays me in a way that I'm not. And that is why I wanted to go to county, to show I can do it and I'd want to be treated like everyone else. And I'm going to do the time, I'm going to do it the right way.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CHETRY: All right. So what are these pay jails she is talking about, anyway?
OGUNNAIKE: Apparently, these pay jails are you can -- essentially what you said, you can upgrade. You pay anywhere from $75 to $130 a night and you get access to things like your cell phone, your iPod, your laptop. And some people actually get to work during the day and they only have to spend the evening in jail. They only have to sleep in jail, and that's about it.
CHETRY: That's not Paris' life, although she is going to have it a little easier because she is separated, right, from the general population?
OGUNNAIKE: She is -- she is separated, actually. She is in a unit for people, high-profile people and celebrities, but she didn't do as soft as she could of. So Paris is proving that she can do a little bit of hard time. Not the hardest time, but a little bit of hard time.
CHETRY: All right. All of this will lead to, I'm sure, beau coup publicity when she finally -- who will score that interview, the post-jailhouse interview?
OGUNNAIKE: We will!
CHETRY: Maybe we will.
Thanks for being with us -- John.
ROBERTS: An early-morning break for firefighters in Maryland. That tops our "Quick Hits".
A huge six-alarm fire is finally under control near Baltimore. The fire exploded inside a warehouse last night. It destroyed the building and slightly injured two firefighters.
New charges expected today against a driver suspected of mowing down 40 people at a festival on Saturday in Washington, D.C. The police chief says the driver had been smoking crack cocaine all day before getting behind the wheel of the car. She is charged with aggravated assault while armed.
And signs that the Cold War may be heating back up. The word from Russian president Vladimir Putin on the eve of the G8 summit next on AMERICAN MORNING.
The most news in the morning is on CNN.
CHETRY: Well, some tough talk from Russian president Vladimir Putin today. Just before the G8 summit, which is Wednesday, he is threatening to point Russian missiles at Europe if the U.S. builds a missile defense shield there.
CNN's Jill Dougherty is live in Washington with more on the tough talk coming from Putin.
JILL DOUGHERTY, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Hey, Kiran.
Well, you know, all of this rhetoric really is pretty disturbing. It's very strong. And don't forget press President Putin, a lot of these comments he's been making in response to questions from reporters. And Mr. Putin can express his opinions very sharply when he gets into that type of context. But you have him essentially saying we're back to the Cold War, and what he is arguing is, the U.S. started it.
CHETRY: Yes. Let's take a look at exactly at the full -- if we could put it up on the screen right now, what he said.
"It's obvious that if part of the strategic nuclear potential of the United States is located in Europe, we will have to respond."
Now, all of this is coming before, you know, the president, our president, invited Mr. Putin to come to his -- actually his family compound in Kennebunkport for talks.
DOUGHERTY: Right. Right. That will be coming in July. And he has invited him to go to Maine, and this is really one of -- I think the first time that the president has ever done that.
It may be that President Bush is trying to bring them together personally and show that they are partners and can work together. Of course they can. But the point is, right now, Mr. Putin is not going to be swayed by, you know, sleeping at Kennebunkport and having a nice dinner. Mr. Putin is on a mission, and his mission right now, flush with oil money, by the way, oil and gas money, is to do what he thinks is good for Russia, and he is going to do it.
CHETRY: Right. And so, you know, it almost seemed like the comments were made to cause a little bit of a division there.
How can either side trust each other?
DOUGHERTY: Well, they can trust each other, certainly. They are partners in the war against terrorism.
What is really the sticking point right now is the U.S. plan to build this missile shield in Eastern Europe. In Poland, they're putting in 10 missiles that would strike incoming missiles, and also in the Czech Republic.
And the U.S. says that this is to protect from countries like Iran, that potentially could get a missile and could strike Europe. The Russians are saying that's way beyond what Iran right now is capable of, and they take it as a threat to themselves.
So that is the dilemma right now. The U.S. has not been able to convince the Russians that it's not a threat.
CHETRY: And has there been a response to the talk of pointing these -- their missiles at this -- at Europe?
DOUGHERTY: There have been some comments saying that it is very unfortunate that the Russians don't see the logic of the U.S. position. And we could be getting some stronger comments today. But really, right now, the rhetoric is very, very strong. Now, what is behind it is really the question.
CHETRY: Right. And it remains to be seen how all of this will play out with the G8 summit getting under way in just a couple of days.
Jill Dougherty, thanks so much.
An emergency landing in Oakland tops our "Quick Hits".
A Southwest flight had trouble with its landing gear as it was flying from Sacramento to San Diego. Passengers came off via inflatable slide. No one was hurt.
The Charlotte Coliseum slam-dunked permanently. Check it out there.
It's standing, and there it's not. It stood for 18 years, came down in just 15 seconds. The coliseum was home to the Charlotte Hornets. They made that implosion to make room for an office park, which will contain offices, of course, as well as hotels and condos.
Coming up, bad behavior on the ball field. There has been a series of incidents sort of like that one, and some that look even more outrageous.
What is going on? We're going to get into all of that coming up.
ROBERTS: Space shuttle workers vote to strike. Some "Quick Hits" now.
Five hundred and seventy shuttle program workers at the Kennedy Space Center could go on strike as early as the 10th of June. That's two days after the expected launch of the shuttle Atlantis. A union leader says that the strike wouldn't affect the launch, though.
And a new view on the life of Rosie O'Donnell. Rosie's much- delayed memoir, "Celebrity Detox," is finally set to be released this fall. It will provides a candid look at her life, including her time on "The View," which she credits with motivating her to finish the book.
CHETRY: Ali Velshi joins me. He's "Minding Your Business" right now.
And it looks a like a rent-a-car company is getting into the chauffeur business.
ALI VELSHI, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Avis is starting a service where they are offering, in addition to the price of a rental car, for $30 an hour, you can get a driver. Now, this is catering to people who maybe show up at an airport, who want a driver to drive them around for a little while. But then you can apparently get rid of the driver whenever you want.
You pay for a three-hour minimum. These are the cities in which they're offering this.
CHETRY: Yes. And they do it in a 10-mile radius of those cities, too. So...
VELSHI: Yes. The curiosity, of course, is dismissing the chauffeur. You know, you've driven around for a little while and then you say, all right, buddy, thanks very much. And then, what, do you drop him somewhere? Do you have to arrange for that.
But, you know, a lot of the limo companies in the major cities, including New York, are a little hot under the collar about this saying it's undercutting them. Because for $30 an hour, it's apparently less than some of these companies charge.
CHETRY: Yes, you're right.
VELSHI: Well, maybe they shouldn't be charging $30 an hour. I mean, maybe that's a good thing for the system. I don't know.
But this is -- we'll see how this catches on. You can go to a city. You know, I'm one of these guys who always that get little navigation system, because I get lost all the time.
CHETRY: Right. Does that help you?
VELSHI: Well, the navigation system helps me, but having a driver would help, too, right?
CHETRY: There you go.
VELSHI: Then I wouldn't have to worry about getting lost.
CHETRY: Thirty bucks an hour, three-hour minimum. But it's interesting that Avis is...
VELSHI: Yes. And you rent the car.
CHETRY: ... going in this direction. Just, you know, with an additional service.
VELSHI: Yes. Maybe you'll want to work during some part of it, and then you want to take to the open road.
Interesting. We'll see how this works.
CHETRY: Cool. Ali, thanks so much.
ROBERTS: More "Quick Hits" for you now.
The top story on CNN.com, contenders clash on Iraq, immigration, health care. We will talk with the best political team on television, Wolf Blitzer, Candy Crowley, and Roland Martin, in just a few minutes, with a look at the highlights from the Democratic debate last night.
And on the most popular list, it wasn't a knockout blow, but a good showing at the box office this weekend for the movie "Knocked Up". The comedy brought in nearly $30 million. That was good enough for second place. "Pirates of the Caribbean" stayed in the top spot.
CHETRY (voice over): Coming up on AMERICAN MORNING, line of fire. The expensive fallout from wildfires -- insurance policies up in flames.
Plus, you're out of here. Not one, but two big league baseball managers benched. The antics and the video sweeping baseball nation ahead on AMERICAN MORNING.
ROBERTS: Eight for '08. The Democrats for president debate health care, gas prices and Iraq. The answers and the morning after analysis. Who scored, who stumbled, and who voters will remember on this AMERICAN MORNING.
And good morning to you. It is Monday, June the 4th.
I'm John Roberts, coming to you from Manchester, New Hampshire, this morning.
CHETRY: That's right, the day after. Hi, John.
I'm Kiran Chetry, here in New York.
We asked the question, did anybody stumble? What do you think? You were there last night watching it.
ROBERTS: I don't think anybody stumbled really badly. There were some criticisms that -- that Bill Richardson came up a little bit flat last night, that he relied too much on his resume as opposed to just answering the questions on stage. There was a lot of, well, as a governor, I've done this, and as a governor I've done that, as opposed to here is what I would do as a presidential candidate.
CHETRY: That's right. A lot of people also -- the buzz on the blogs saying that John Edwards really shined last night as well. So we'll talk more about that.
Also "On Our Radar" this morning, new fallout from the wildfires, especially in parts of southern California.
Insurance companies are saying, look, this is an area where a lot of fires happen. We've seen it before, and we're going to see is again, so we are either not going to insure you, or make it so expensive that homeowners are thinking twice.
We're going to talk more about just how much they have to pay to qualify for a policy.
Also, baseball tirades. Two big league managers in big dustups on the field. And there was a minor league manager that really seemed to lose his mind as well. They're all over the Internet this morning.
Whatever happened to sportsmanship? Whatever happened to coaches and managers setting a good example? Has baseball, our national pastime, just gotten a little out of hand?
We're going to discuss that with a sports writer. But I see it's making you chuckle, John.
ROBERTS: Well, I remember over the weekend, there was the video that -- on YouTube of that minor league manager who was actually covering the plate with dirt and got up and picked up all of the bases and threw them away.
CHETRY: Right, lots of fake grenades.
ROBERTS: Snuck up behind the pitcher's mound.
CHETRY: We have that video as well and we are going to talk about it coming up. He knows he messed up. He actually says I'm just waiting for the fine now. We'll talk about it a little later.
ROBERTS: Surprise, surprise.
Hey, the Democrats squared off for their second debate on this very early political season last night. So who stood out, upped the ante, and who may have slipped? Joining me to discuss it is an all- star cast of the best political team on television, Wolf Blitzer, who moderated the debate last night and the host of CNN's "THE SITUATION ROOM." CNN's senior political correspondent Candy Crowley and CNN contributor Roland Martin, who's simulcasting all of this on his radio show. Because you're bringing your audience into it, Roland, let me go to you first. How was last night's debate going to affect the race going forward, do you think?
ROLAND MARTIN, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: Well, first and foremost, we finally heard more issues beyond Iraq. We also had the candidates frankly explaining some of their points so we heard about Sudan, immigration, education, some of the critical issues. But also the healthcare debate. That was a great moment where Edwards and Obama really got into it on this whole issue of healthcare and how so many people are filing for bankruptcy as a result. And so again, I think more issues are critical especially domestic issues and how they impact the everyday voter.
ROBERTS: Wolf, your goal last night was to get them off of their talking points, to get them to discuss other things in an ad lib sort of fashion. What do you think was illuminated last night about the candidates that we didn't know before?
WOLF BLITZER, MODERATED SUNDAY DEBATE: I thought that Edwards came out ready to swing, I mean, it didn't take much to get him to name names when I said, at one point, he was obviously obliquely being critical of senators Obama and Clinton. I said to him, do you want to name names? He said you know who I'm talking about. I said I know who you're talking about but some viewers out there might not know who you're talking about. He immediately responded, he said, yeah, I'm talking about these two guys who didn't take the leadership. They may have had the right vote but they certainly didn't take the kind of leadership that a president of the United States should take. Of course, they didn't take much for them to respond.
ROBERTS: Yes, you were sort of nudging Senator Edwards right up to the edge of the cliff there!
BLITZER: My real goal was to try to see if potential undecided voters out there, Americans in general, could differentiate between these candidates and let them disagree a little bit and that's what we tried to do.
ROBERTS: Talking about the voters who were watching this. We tracked them with some real-time technology last night, got them to push a button when they liked a particular answer, push another button when they didn't. Here is one of the top answers that they really liked. Take a listen to this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JOHN EDWARDS: I think it is important for anybody who seeks to be the next president of the United States, given the dishonesty that we've been faced with over the last several years, to be honest to the country.
(END OF VIDEO CLIP)
ROBERTS: So you can see that there, as he's going through that answer, the approval is going up. So, Candy, could John Edwards really be the big surprise of this debate?
CANDY CROWLEY, CNN SR. POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, you know, I think he clearly stood out at this debate and he stood out for the reasons Wolf just talked about and clearly there was some resonance there with the audience. Now, we have seen in some of those polls in New Hampshire and in Iowa that he's been doing very well out on the stump there, too. You see some of the same John Edwards out on the stump. So I just think he played to a broader audience obviously last night.
ROBERTS: As we said, they pushed the button when they saw answers that they liked -- yeah go ahead Roland, if you want to jump in.
MARTIN: You know, a couple of things, I've been listening to a lot of the comments, the post debate analysis, folks are saying that Clinton, you know how she won the debate. A couple of things jumped out. First and foremost, I thought that Joe Biden sort of served as the pacesetter like a marathon runner where he goes out in the front. He was the one who really drove the Sudan issue and caused Richardson to raise the whole issue of china and a possible boycott of the debate. That was a great moment. What I also thought was interesting is that on the issue of Sudan, Clinton was extremely quiet. Could it be because when her husband was president he did nothing frankly about the genocide in Rwanda and so therefore didn't want to bring it up. And so it's interesting how folks jumped in at certain points and didn't really want to engage in certain sort of dialogues. But I thought last night Wolf, really spending some time on Sudan was critical because it spoke to the moral issue of America with some of the people being killed in that country.
BLITZER: Roland makes a good point, John, because this whole notion that seems pretty far-fetched about boycotting China and the Beijing summer Olympics because of China's support of the government in Sudan it seems to be generating some momentum out there and Bill Richardson said I'm ready to consider it. Most of the other candidates didn't want to even think about that.
ROBERTS: Yeah, because they didn't think that boycotting the Olympics would be a way to punish --
BLITZER: Yeah, but there's no doubt that China really props up that regime of (INAUDIBLE).
ROBERTS: Right, we talked about positive viewer response, also negative viewer response. You talked a moment ago Roland about Hillary Clinton, she happened to provoke one of the biggest negative responses and here is the comment that provoked that. Take a listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. HILLARY CLINTON, NEW YORK: This is George Bush's war. He is responsible for this war. He started the war. He mismanaged the war. He escalated the war and he refuses to end the war.
(END OF VIDEO CLIP)
ROBERTS: So you can see the numbers going down there. Candy, is this an indication that people want to hear new ideas and not just criticisms?
CROWLEY: I think that's part of it. I think that people are looking to move forward here. They know how these Democrats feel about George Bush and about what he has done with this war. You know, it's hard to know what people are thinking. But I have to believe that at some level, people are also less willing to accept that kind of criticism from a female. Now, I don't know that that's true, because I don't know, you know, what they base that on. But it comes across, I think to some people, as harsher than a male had said it, frankly.
ROBERTS: Roland Martin, Joe Biden had a pretty good night last night, do you think it was good enough to bump him up. He was sitting at about 3 percent in most of the polls. Will it make him competitive?
MARTIN: Joe had a great night last night. Some folks are saying, well, he was yelling. Well again, I think what he is trying to figure out is, what is my niche? He was very honest when he said, look, we can't end the war, we need 67 votes. When he talked about earmarks when he was so passionate about those dying in Sudan. Again, I think what his role is really going to be sort of the John McCain role and that is he is going to be Mr. Straight shooter, Mr. Personality. That's where he can excel really challenging the other candidates. He may not go to the first tier but he can certainly push them to go further than where they are right now.
ROBERTS: Right. Wolf, we've, of course, got the Republican debate coming up on Tuesday. They were all watching last night I'm sure, what do you think they're thinking about right now as they look ahead to tomorrow night.
BLITZER: I think they're thinking the format was a little bit different, there was a little bit more free flowing, there were no yellow lights or red lights, no stop watches, no clocks up on the screen.
MARTIN: Thank God!
BLITZER: Or anything like that. I think that what they're saying to themselves is they better focus in on the question and they better answer the question because if they don't answer the question, we're not going to move on, I'm going to go back to them and say, excuse me, politely, but firmly, you didn't answer the question.
BLITZER: You notice also we put the question at the bottom of the screen to remind the viewers this is the question.
ROBERTS: This is what they're ducking.
BLITZER: We're talking about Darfur right now, we're not talking about something else.
ROBERTS: All right, well good job last night, Wolf. We're looking ahead to tomorrow nigh as well. Candy Crowley, thanks very much. Roland Martin, always good to see you.
MARTIN: Thanks, John.
ROBERTS: And don't forget, CNN remains the place for politics. Even tonight, Hillary Clinton, Barack Obama, John Edwards talk about faith and their politics, 7:00 p.m. eastern tonight hosted by Soledad O'Brien and Paula Zahn. And it's worth another plug. Don't forget tomorrow night is the Republicans' turn. Wolf Blitzer moderates their debate beginning at 7:00 p.m. eastern.
CHETRY: All right, we won't miss that for sure. Angry protests in Venezuela topping our quick hits now. Thousands again hitting the streets to send a message to President Hugo Chavez and his decision to pull the plug on an opposition television station. Protesters are saying that Chavez is trying to muzzle his critics. And there's also some new video of Castro making the rounds on Cuban state television. Castro was seen meeting with the Vietnamese Communist Party chief in tape that was released Sunday. He has not been seen in public since last July when the Cuban dictator announced he was having intestinal surgery.
Still ahead it's the price of life in paradise and for some, it's proving to be too costly. Insurance companies now putting new demands on homes that are in high-risk areas. Homeowners left out in the cold. We're going to explain more coming up on AMERICAN MORNING.
CHETRY: Welcome back. They live in one of the most beautiful areas of the country but also one of the most dangerous when it comes to fires. Well now some southern California residents are finding that insurance companies are considering them too hot to handle. Chris Lawrence is live now in San Diego to show us how wildfire insurance is getting tougher and much more expensive to get. Hi, Chris.
CHRIS LAWRENCE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Hi, Kiran. Insurance companies are looking at neighborhoods like this one and remembering what this same area looked like four years ago when it caught fire. So insurance companies are now going out and inspecting thousands of homes because they believe it will happen again and they're giving these homeowners about 18 months to make some major changes.
LAWRENCE (voice-over): As firestorms torched San Diego suburbs four years ago, insurers rebuilt those homes but the costs just keep on coming. Some insurers have doubled premiums and ordered homeowners to clear brush, cut down trees and install fireproof roofs. The improvements can cost homeowners up to $20,000 with no guarantee their policies won't be canceled.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Right behind our house, we have cleared everything. I even put some irrigation and plants.
LAWRENCE: Even with sprinklers and other safety features, Sharmila Bhushan says she has been threatened with cancellation and charged exorbitant rates for her home at the bottom of a hill.
SHARMILA BHUSHAN, HOMEOWNER: Basically, they don't want to take any risk and that's what insurance is for, to manage your risk.
LAWRENCE: Managing that risk can be profitable. State Farm and Allstate each made $5 billion in profit last year.
DOUGLAS HELLER, FOUNDATION FOR TAXPAYER & CONSUMER RIGHTS: The insurance industry is looking at American consumers sort of like they look at a casino. We just hit three blackjacks in a row, let's take our chips off the table and leave.
LAWRENCE: Consumer advocate Doug Heller says the company's message is clear.
HELLER: We're going to force you to spend more money to comply with our new fang of policy rules and if you don't spend that money, we're dropping you.
LAWRENCE: Starting next month, Allstate will stop accepting new clients anywhere in California. The company says costs have skyrocketed and Allstate has to insure it has enough money to help nearly one million Californians who already have an Allstate policy. Insurers are asking how can we keep rebuilding entire neighborhoods that firefighters are convinced will burn?
CANDYSE MILLER, INSURANCE INFORMATION NETWORK: You look at Scripps ranch and said I fought that same fire 20 years ago and there is another firefighter who's going to fight it probably fight it 20 years from now. So it really begs the question are we building in safe areas.
LAWRENCE: Sharmila Bhushan says her home in Scripps Ranch is safe. Insurers see what that same property looked like four years ago and aren't so sure.
(END OF VIDEOTAPE)
LAWRENCE: This is one block in one neighborhood in one city. More than half of California's 12 million homes are in fire danger. Insurance companies are now inspecting homes in Colorado, Oregon, Arizona. So this is an issue that could affect the entire western half of the country. Kiran?
CHETRY: Yeah, especially with the terrible drought conditions they've been enduring there. Chris Lawrence, thanks so much.
We have some breaking news now from the Pentagon about the two missing soldiers in Iraq. Barbara Starr is live with some new developments for us right now. Hi Barbara.
BARBARA STARR, CNN PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT: Good morning to you Kiran. Some very disturbing news we want to share. Islamic Web site has now posted what certainly does appear to be the military identification cards for the two U.S. soldiers that are still missing as you look at these cards, which we have here now. This is the standard military ID card that all U.S. military personnel carry. These are the ID cards by all appearances for Private Byron Wayne Fouty and Specialist Alex Ramon Jimenez.
Of course these are the two soldiers that the U.S. military has been looking now for some three weeks or so south of Baghdad in that so-called triangle of death. Three soldiers went missing, of course, after an attack some days ago, Private First Class Joseph Anzack. His body was found and returned to his family in Torrance, California just a few days ago. His funeral is coming up at Arlington National Cemetery. These ID cards were posted by the Islamic State of Iraq, the umbrella organization for al Qaeda in Iraq. A group that had claimed responsibility for the attack and claimed that they had the soldiers but had never demonstrated any proof. Military officials are very aware of this posting. They point out to us it still does not tell them about where the soldiers may be, what their current status is, and the hunt, they say, does go on. Kiran?
CHETRY: Apparently Pentagon officials notified the families of the missing soldiers that this could appear?
STARR: That's exactly right Kiran, they did. Our sources are confirming that military officials spoke to the families over the weekend. They had some intelligence information. They tell us they're not telling us what it was. But they had some indication that this type of material might be about to appear on the Internet so they briefed the families over the weekend. Of course no one would really want the families to see this right off the Internet without having some advanced warning that it might be coming. So our sources are saying that the families are well aware this material is out there. Kiran?
CHETRY: Right, and we were really careful checking, and double checking, you, as well as others here before we went with this. Also noting what the caption in Arabic could say right above the ID cards, Bush is the reason for the loss of your prisoners?
STARR: Well, of course, I don't think it would be a surprise to anybody that a group like the Islamic State of Iraq would be making such statements on their Web site. Military officials remind us that in the early days of this crisis that the -- that organization was saying something along the lines that the only way the U.S. would ever see its soldiers again is if they called off the hunt for them. And of course, military officials are saying that will never happen. Several thousand U.S. personnel still looking south of Baghdad in that so-called triangle of death and vowing to keep looking until they find their men. Kiran?
CHETRY: Disturbing that it says for the loss of your prisoners. I mean it's a little unclear what they mean by that.
STARR: I think it is a bit unclear. I think most people believe that they are making a reference perhaps to these missing people. But, you know, at this point, what the U.S. military is simply emphasizing is that they will keep looking for these soldiers. Just last Thursday, Lieutenant General Raymond Oddirano, the number two man, U.S. military general in Iraq said that they still had hope but General Oddirano did say publicly at a press conference as the days go on now more than three weeks or so, it is becoming very difficult to see where this is all going. They are going to continue the search.
CHETRY: All right. Terrorism expert Laura Mansfield says that she found this, intercepted it and is going to link it up shortly with her Web site. I guess we'll get some more details possibly there as well as from you, Barbara Starr, covering this at the Pentagon. Thank you.
ROBERTS: CNN NEWSROOM just minutes away. Heidi Collins at the CNN Center now with a look at what's ahead. Hi Heidi.
HEIDI COLLINS, CNN ANCHOR: Hi there John. That's right, we have these stories coming up on the "NEWSROOM" rundown this morning. Of course we'll update you on the situation that Barbara Starr was telling us about and the IDs that have been found of the American soldiers.
That, and then Democrats square off. White House hopefuls have it out over Iraq, healthcare and Darfur. We'll check the winners and losers in last night's debate.
And Baghdad insecurity. A new status check on the U.S. military push into Iraq's capital. It shows the plan falling short according to some.
And answering a wake-up call 19 years later. A man leaves a coma and enters a new world. Incredible story. Join Tony Harris and me in the "NEWSROOM." We get started at the top of the hour right here on CNN. John?
ROBERTS: Look forward to that, see you soon Heidi.
They are grown men paid to play games throwing major league tantrums. A couple of doozies over the weekend. What is behind this bad behavior in baseball? Some answers and the pictures coming right up.
ROBERTS: Take a look at this. A fishtail tops our quick hits. It took three men hours to land this 9 foot, 600 pound bull shark in St. Petersburg, Florida over the weekend. They hooked it fishing off of the dock. Unbelievable.
Give me a D or you can buy one if you like, a piece of the original famous Hollywood sign is for sale at a fundraiser to benefit monuments in the Hollywood area. Opening bid $3500. Are you going to bid on it Kiran?
CHETRY: You know it just, the big D by itself just doesn't do it for me. I would need the whole Holly and the Woo, you know to really make it sing. I don't have any space in my house for one either.
I know you saw this video, it's all over YouTube right now. This baseball video, this was taken at a Mississippi Braves, this was a double A ball game in Chattanooga on Friday. And this is somebody who's now pretty famous. He was a little known manager of the Mississippi Braves, Phillip Wellman. Well now he is a YouTube star. He really had a meltdown after his starting pitcher was ejected. He went into an entire song and dance. Let's see what else. There he goes. Picked up the base, whales it. That was third base, by the way. And then not finished yet. He crawls on his belly, looks like he's simulating a military exercise here. Picks that up, lobs it as though it's a grenade. Launches that. The umpire is like I've seen this all before. He does a little dance there. And there he goes. He knows he's ejected. Kicks a little more dirt and then he is going to pick this one up, too, take that one with him, take that one with him too, why not. He knows he's in trouble. He said I fully expect to get fined for this. He had no idea though, of course, that it was going to hit to the YouTube world and be all over the worldwide web. He says he has been getting calls ringing off the hook. Some people asking him if he is crazy, what happened and some people just sort of getting a good laugh out of it. But it does bring up, you know someone saying whatever happened to good sportsmanship? That wasn't the only baseball incident. In fact this weekend we have Chicago Cubs manager Lou Piniella, he was suspended indefinitely apparently for quote, "aggressive and inappropriate actions." This is Saturday's game. He kicked dirt allegedly on a third base umpire Mark Wegner and got himself very upset. Of course that's not the first time for Lou Piniella either. He's well-known for his outbursts but is in a little bit of trouble this time. Then we head over to the Cubs Carlos Zambrano, pitcher and Michael Barrett, catcher. They nearly came to blows. I think they in fact did come to blows in the dugout on Friday. There they are going after each other as well. It was a big clubhouse brawl after a bit of a rough inning. So there you have it. The national pastime. Whatever happened to popcorn and pretzels and beer, enjoying yourself?
ROBERTS: Boys behaving badly, no question about that.
Hey remember how we said that Paris Hilton was going right from the red carpet to the (INAUDIBLE)? Hold it, don't show it yet. We have seen terrible mug shots of celebrities in the past. Nick Nolte comes to mind, right? Well you can expect that Paris' mug shot probably is not going to look too good. Here it is. The very first time you're seeing Paris Hilton's mug shot! Unbelievable. Yeah, just milking it all the way to the bank.
Here is a quick look now at what "CNN NEWSROOM" is working on for the top of the hour.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TONY HARRIS, CNN ANCHOR (voice-over): See these stories in the "CNN NEWSROOM." Democrats debate. Highlights from the face-off of presidential hopefuls. Healy warning, kids are getting more than a rush from those strap-on wheels.
And go directly to jail. Paris Hilton surrenders to begin serving her sentence. You're in the NEWSROOM, 9:00 eastern, 6:00 pacific.
(END OF VIDEO CLIP)
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