Return to Transcripts main page

American Morning

Devastating Floods: More Misery in Midwest; Health Threat: What's in the Floodwater?; Michael Vick's Plea

Aired August 24, 2007 - 08:00   ET


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It went from still to, whoa.

KIRAN CHETRY, CNN ANCHOR (voice over): Blown away in the Windy City.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It just twirled the block around.

CHETRY: A fast and ferocious storm brings down a warehouse roof, grounds hundreds of flights, and leaves thousands in the dark.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This is the worst I've seen it.

CHETRY: Plus, home after home after home wiped out in the Midwest.

SHARON PARTINGTON, HOMEOWNER: We didn't know that we were not insured for this.

CHETRY: Why doesn't your insurance always cover you in case of disaster? We get some answers today.

And home for the holidays?

SEN. JOHN WARNER (R), VIRGINIA: Hopefully, the troops will get home by Christmas.

CHETRY: A top Republican says it may be time to start bringing some troops home, setting up a new battle over Iraq's exit strategy on this AMERICAN MORNING.


CHETRY: And welcome once again. It is Friday, August 24th, 8:00 on the East Coast, 5:00 a.m. Pacific.

I'm Kiran Chetry.

RICK SANCHEZ, CNN ANCHOR: And she got all that down.

I'm Rick Sanchez, sitting in for John.

And we have got a lot of news to share with you.

First, the bad situation, and that's a situation that has really just gotten worse throughout the week. We went from Oklahoma to Minnesota, now Chicago and parts of Illinois. A fast and furious storm is what we're talking about, nearly as powerful as a hurricane.

It slams into the Chicago area. There's some of the pictures for you, 70-mile-an-hour winds, heavy rains, tearing things up in just a matter of minutes.

You can see some of the damage that it did as you follow with us along this video tour. Tornado sirens went off. People went scurrying for their homes, some leaving work early, like lots leaving work early. People saw a funnel cloud in the area.

This morning, they're cleaning things up as best they can. Lots and lots of trees down, power out. Trying to get Chicago -- well, I guess, Kiran, you would say trying to get the town moving again.

CHETRY: You're right. They sure are.

Well, we have some incredible pictures from Chicago, by the way. And when you see that damage and destruction, you know it's going to be a while to be able to clear the debris, the fallen trees and the destroyed cars out of these neighborhoods.

But lightning every few seconds could be seen in the Windy City. The storms leaving more than 300,000 people without power and making for some dramatic pictures of the Chicago skyline. Literally lit up for seconds on end because of the lightning strikes that were taking place there.

Well, when the storm tore through west Chicago, high winds caused a warehouse to partially collapse. Now, workers say -- there is a look at the aftermath right now. Work say they ran to bathrooms. They were trying to find a safe haven there. They dove behind office cabinets to get away from the violent winds and the flying debris.

It turns out 40 people were hurt. Seven of them taken to hospitals. This morning, we're told none of the injuries are considered life-threatening.

And more than 500 flights at both O'Hare and Chicago's Midway airports were grounded. And you can see why when you take a look at our radar picture.

Here is how it looked on our radar. Our weather department put this time lapse together overnight. And there we see the 18-hour loop of that band of thunderstorms moving through.

When it's red and little dots of purple, it means it is extremely severe weather. Our Jacqui Jeras, of course, is the expert. She can certainly point that out a little better than I can this morning of what they were dealing with yesterday and what is on tap for today as well.


SANCHEZ: We're also watching some of the -- you know, we showed you the pictures from Oklahoma, then we took you through tours of parts of Iowa and Minnesota, Illinois. Still, though, Ohio.

Remember earlier in the week we were talking about the problems in Ohio? That's what it looks like in Findlay, Ohio, still.

The rain keeps following, the floodwaters keep rising. The heat is oppressive. That's how people are trying to get around. Notice all of them have high boots.

Homeland security official Michael Chertoff visited Ohio. We talked with FEMA administrator David Paulison as well earlier here on AMERICAN MORNING. Both of them are promising a lot of help for the area, and, boy, do they need it.

CNN's David Mattingly is joining us now from what as we learned earlier is Ottawa, Ohio. And look at that.

David, what is the situation there?

DAVID MATTINGLY, CNN CORRESPONDENT: You can see the situation, Rick. These roads are impassible throughout much of the town. And as you go that way toward the middle of town, the water gets deeper, five feet deep and deeper in some places.

People here are accustomed to floods. They saw one similar to this back in the 1980s. But what was different about this one, they got so much rainfall so quickly, this water came up faster than they had ever experienced before, and now it's going away much more slowly than they would like.

Draining away last night, we were told, at a rate of only .4 of an inch per hour. So, now everyone very closely watching that forecast, hoping they don't get a lot more rain so this water can get out of here and they can get back on with their lives. Right now, this town is absolutely paralyzed and waterlogged.

We were able to get into town to look at the damage yesterday only by riding on a front-end loader, one of those big pieces of construction equipment that was up high out of the water. Otherwise, the only way you can get through this town is on a boat.

And that is what emergency crews are doing. They're responding to 911 calls, to people who are in their houses, who are wanting transportation out of their houses back to dry land.

No one expected the water to come this far up into the neighborhoods. No one expected it to stay this long. And now some people are saying, you know, this is enough, I need to get out of my house, can you please come get me?

So, that's the situation here. Fortunately, no serious injuries. Everyone, again, Rick, watching that forecast, hoping it doesn't get worse here.

SANCHEZ: David Mattingly right there in the thick of things for us.

We thank you, David.

Kiran, over to you.

CHETRY: So you see the floodwater that David is standing in as he is reporting from the scene of a lot of that devastation. A lot of homeowner are going to be going back. And as the floodwaters start to recede, how dangerous is it to your health?

Dr. Sanjay Gupta's team took a sample and he joins us now to talk more about what we shared.

You got this sample from Ohio?

DR. SANJAY GUPTA, CNN CHIEF MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: That's right, Shelby, Ohio. I mean, we've been seeing these images over the last week, and we were curious to what is actually in this water. And so that's why we decided to actually get it checked out.

What we did was we actually called an EPA-certified lab, bacteriology lab, and asked them to take a sample. It cost about $20. And actually, I think you just saw some video of it.

They actually go there with a sterile container, the guy's got some gloves on, and he actually takes a sample of this and then he analyzes it in the lab. What he found, what we found as a result, is there's a high concentration of coliform bacteria. This is the type of bacteria that's typically found in waste in the digestive tracts, if you will, of humans and other wildlife.

Now, they are most dangerous because of the bacteria that are often associated with these coliforms. And the bacteria can be problematic in certain situations.

To be clear, I was just watching reporting from David Mattingly, your other reporters. To just have skin contact with it is not so much a problem, we're told. What is a bigger problem is if you have a cut or a sore or something like that. You can actually get an infection, a pretty significant one. Or, if the same coliforms actually get in your drinking water, contaminate your food in some way, that's also a problem.

But levels are very high, as we found out from that random sampling in Shelby, Ohio, and it can get you quite sick if somehow it gets into your own system in some way.

CHETRY: Right. Actually, know people who, let's say, their basement floods and they go down there and they don't realize they have a cut on their leg or something and do get an infection, when the floodwaters do start to recede, do you have to worry about that coliform remaining? Or does it die when the water goes away?

GUPTA: Well, it's interesting. There's a couple of things about it.

It can remain. It can remain on certain surfaces. It can get into your crops, for example. Let's say you have a little garden and it contaminates your crops. If it's there for a couple of days, it's going to ruin those crops. You probably can't eat that food.

It can get on to canned goods. It can get onto the labels and actually stick there. So you need to remove the labels from your canned goods if they've been soaked, for example, in this water.

It can also cause mold. This is something that people don't think about, but days later, even weeks later, if you start to see mold, it might be a result of having this high concentration of coliform bacteria. The mold is actually a fungus, but it can actually be spurned on by the bacteria being there.

So these are things to sort of look out for later on down the road.

CHETRY: Wow. Very interesting that you got that sample. And what should people do if they're in that area?

GUPTA: Well, you know, there's a couple of things.

Obviously, you want to stay away from the water. And the water, you know -- this is something I found out, is that the drinking water is supposed to be certified as having no coliform bacteria in it. But the beach, for example, or, you know, areas where you might swim, they actually do have coliform bacteria in them, about 200 parts per 100 mls.

The concentration here was about 1,800 parts per 100 mls. Almost 10 times higher.

You've obviously just got to not drink it. You've got to make sure that you're protected, your skin is covered. No cuts, open sores exposed to it. And obviously, don't let it contaminate your food or water.

CHETRY: Very interesting.

Sanjay, thank you.

GUPTA: Thank you.

SANCHEZ: Here's a story a lot of folks are talking about.

ESPN is reporting on its Web site this morning that Michael Vick is going to plead guilty to interstate commerce for the purpose of dogfighting, but it says he will not admit to killing dogs or gambling on dogfights. ESPN does not name its source and CNN has not confirmed this report, but we wanted to bring in our own senior legal analyst, Jeffrey Toobin, who has been watching this case, as has literally the whole country.

So, this is interesting, because everybody I've talked to who is a lawyer like yourself and understands this will tell you, look, the dogfighting affects people this early. But really, the big hit here, as far as the feds are concerned, is taking animals across state lines for the purposes of gambling. That's probably the most important part of this, isn't it?

JEFFREY TOOBIN, CNN SR. LEGAL ANALYST: And that's the federal offense here. What is going on here is actually fairly typical in plea bargaining.

What happens in a plea bargain is the lawyers say, OK, he'll plead guilty to one count. And that happened about a week ago. But then, as the guilty plea itself approaches, they get to the point where they're saying, OK, what is he going to go into court and admit to? What is he going to say that he did?

The defendant always wants to admit to as little as possible.


TOOBIN: The prosecution wants a full admission. And what Vick is dealing with is a double problem.

He not only has to -- you know, he also, like any defendant, wants to admit to as little as possible. He has the NFL to worry about. And if he admits to gambling...


TOOBIN: ... that is something that could add to the suspension from his career, that he could already -- that he is already is going to get and jeopardize his ever playing again.

SANCHEZ: Not to mention, I mean, this guy signed $130 million contract, as I understand.

TOOBIN: He sure did.

SANCHEZ: And he's been paid bonuses already. I mean, if he admits to something that involves gambling, couldn't the NFL come back to him and say, "You know what? We want the bonus money back and we're not going to pay you another penny"?

TOOBIN: Absolutely. I mean, there's an enormous amount of money at stake here.

And the question is, you know, what is he going to say? Because the feds, the feds have a lot of leverage over Michael Vick at this point. They have three coconspirators ready to go into court and say, look, he was involved, he was doing all this stuff, he was killing dogs, gambling.

So, the feds can say, you don't want to plead guilty to what we want you to plead guilty to? Fine. Don't plead guilty at all. We're going to have a trial, we're going to add more charges and put you in jail for a longer time and end your -- any chance of a football career.

SANCHEZ: They're saying we've got to wrap, so I've got to finish this up, but they're talking now about him copping this plea, right? Basically cutting a deal with the feds.

Did you see this going in any other direction but that?

TOOBIN: Absolutely not. I mean, he couldn't -- going to try trial is almost not an option for Vick, given the amount -- three coconspirators that would testify against him, the odds of him going to trial and getting acquitted seem extremely remote. That's why smart lawyers -- and he has a very smart lawyer, Billy Martin, says, look, cut a deal plea.

SANCHEZ: It looks like they were going to nail him.


SANCHEZ: All right.

TOOBIN: But, it's still -- I mean, that's why Monday's guilty plea is going to be fairly dramatic, because we don't know what he is going to say. And the whole thing could still blow up. So...

SANCHEZ: Yes. It's not just a deal, it's what he deals to.

TOOBIN: At 10:30 Friday -- Monday morning, and I'll be there in Richmond. I'm looking forward to it.

SANCHEZ: Looking forward to having you there.

Jeff Toobin, thanks so much for coming in and sharing that with us.

Let's go over back to Kiran.

CHETRY: All right. Thanks.

Well, big news for parents. Wal-Mart says it has your back when it comes to all of those recalled toys and toys that could possibly be unsafe that are still out there on the shelves.

Ali Velshi is here with more on that.

Hey, Ali.


You know, people have been talking about this, because as we're approaching the autumn, we're approaching that time when parents start to think about kids, gifts for the holiday season, or even as you're getting back to school, people are concerned about the danger of these toys. So Wal-Mart has said that it is asking its suppliers to resubmit any information about how the toys that they supply Wal-Mart with are tested or have been tested.

Wal-Mart wants to double check all that to make sure that everybody has got their paperwork and testing in order. Wal-Mart also sends some toys to an independent testing laboratory, and they say they are going to increase the number of toys that they randomly select and send for independent testing so that there will be about 200 toys a week that will now be tested. Wal-Mart is also talking about sourcing its toys from other places so that they might have some sense of what the supply chain is.

All in all, it's a message to parents out there who are getting concerned about buying toys for their kids that Wal-Mart is going to take that extra step to try and make sure that suppliers are keeping toys safe, or are testing them, making sure that they are safe.

As Rick was mentioning earlier, part of it is good P.R. on Wal- Mart's part, but Wal-Mart is such a big retailer that when Wal-Mart sends that message out to suppliers and manufacturers, it will probably have a ripple effect and could result in things being a little safer for parents buying things for their kids -- Kiran.

CHETRY: And that's always good news.

Ali Velshi, thanks so much.


CHETRY: Well, you live in a flood zone area. You have flood insurance. But guess what? You're not covered if something happens?

CNN's personal finance editor, Gerri Willis, is getting some answers for us ahead on AMERICAN MORNING.



I'm Rick Sanchez.

We've been watching pictures all week long from the Midwest. Entire towns under water, thousands of homeowners essentially starting over this morning, including a couple that we met right here. And this is what really drew us to this story, this picture.

See, that's their home. It's the home of Lynn and Sharon Partington.

Their house in Minnesota collapsed all of a sudden when a big giant wall of mud just crashed into it. Thank goodness they were able to get out, they were able to get their grandson out. Their home is now in pieces, though, as you can see, and they really have no place to turn.


SHARON PARTINGTON, HOMEOWNER: We've had State Farm Insurance for, what, 30 to 40 years, and we thought we were insured. We didn't know that we were not insured for this. And they've advised us that we have no coverage for our dwelling or for any of our belongings.


SANCHEZ: Yes. We really were struck by their situation, as we were the condition of their home and the area.

So, CNN's personal finance editor, Gerri Willis, went to the area to look at it herself and to try and get some answers from officials about what is going on with some of these people who are saying, look, I thought I was covered, but I'm not.

First of all, Gerri, you're there up close and personal, as they say. Give us a sense of what it looks like there from the ground.

GERRI WILLIS, CNN PERSONAL FINANCE EDITOR: Well, as you can see behind me, it's a mess here. When we drove in this morning, the streets were muddy. The ground is sodden. And you're just seeing mud everywhere.

I've got to tell you, the place is beautiful. We're right beside the Mississippi River. But for homeowners, it's a nightmare.

SANCHEZ: What we're looking at behind you is the result apparently of a mudslide of some form.

WILLIS: Right.

SANCHEZ: But what we're learning now is that you may think you're insured against something like a mudslide, but guess what? You're not.

What are we finding out about this, this morning?

WILLIS: Well, Rick, you know, the standard homeowners policy, there's lots of things it doesn't cover. It doesn't cover floods, it doesn't cover mudslides, it doesn't cover earthquakes. I mean, there's a ton of things that it's not going to cover at all.

But I've got to tell you, if the Mississippi down here had flooded its banks and covered -- and covered this house with mud, you know, they would have been covered if they had a flood policy. But they didn't.

You know, Rick, we talked to the insurance industry yesterday and asked them, why is it that it's so hard to get coverage for what you need? And they told us the way their business model works is they like to get a big group of people who want coverage for a specific threat, a specific risk to their house, and then they insure them all and they hope it's just a small portion of people who actually get some kind of payout.

In this case, if you were insuring yourself for a mudslide, well, you're probably more likely to have one because it's a small group of people who live on these hillsides and are threatened with this kind of devastation.

SANCHEZ: The moral of the story, get even more insurance than they say you need.

WILLIS: Yes. SANCHEZ: That sounds to me -- it seems to be what -- I mean, look what happened with Katrina. The same thing. People were told, you don't need flood insurance, and their homes are flooded.

WILLIS: That's right. A lot of people were told they didn't need it and they did need it, obviously. But even then, you probably don't get all of the coverage that you need.

Look, if you want to buy landslide coverage, if you have a $500,000 house, it's going to cost you $2,500 in premiums each and every year. It's really expensive, and that's if you can find it.

A lot of people can't even buy it because they can't find a carrier who's going to cover them. So, the problems are enormous.

Look, if you're in the situation, at the very least buy flood insurance coverage, because that may help you in some instances be whole. But I've got to tell you, it's a tough nut to crack for homeowners.

SANCHEZ: Yes. I hope the things work out for the Partingtons. They seem like a very nice couple. Thanks so much.

WILLIS: Me, too. You're welcome.

SANCHEZ: Don't forget, by the way, you can catch Gerri with more on this. She's going to be looking into this, "OPEN HOUSE," this weekend, special look at the mortgage meltdown, Saturday, 9:30 a.m. Eastern, right here on CNN.

Kiran, take it away.

CHETRY: All right. Thanks, Rick.

You know, and we're continuing to talk about this insurance situation, how do you know what is covered and when? In the Partingtons' case, they said they had State Farm.

We did reach out to State Farm. We wanted to ask them some questions about their case. They wouldn't join us this morning, but they did refer us to an industry group, instead. And Jeanne Salvatore is with the Insurance Information Institute of America, and she joins us now this morning.

Thanks for being with us.


CHETRY: So I guess in the case of the Partingtons, to bring home an example, what type of insurance would they have needed to be covered for what happened to their home?

SALVATORE: Well, first of all, people need to understand that this is simply not going to be covered under any standard homeowners policy. And that there are things, as Gerri pointed out, that are not covered. That you need to get flood insurance separately, you need to get earthquake insurance separately.

So people do need to ask questions, find out what is covered and find out what's not covered.

CHETRY: See, the reason it gets tricky is because you don't really know exactly what caused the disaster. Was it the flooding? Was it the flooding that triggered a mudslide? So, if you have flood insurance but ultimately it was a mudslide? Was it the wind from the actual storm? Or was it -- did it end up being the water that swelled because of the storm?

It seems like it's a tough situation to navigate for people.

SALVATORE: Well, that's why people need to really understand the risks where they live, but they also have to be -- look at basically where we're building homes. I mean, there's a broader issue here, and it's really a land use issue, that we continue, as a people, to build homes in areas we probably should not be living.

CHETRY: Going back to homeowners insurance, though, what does it cover if there is so much it seems it doesn't?

SALVATORE: Well, homeowners insurance covers a lot of disasters. I mean, you are covered for wind, you are covered for fire, you are covered for theft, you are covered for a lightning bolt that hits your house. You are covered for a lot of things.

The two really big disasters that are not covered, one is flood and the other is earthquake. But in both situations, you can get additional coverage for that. But you have to buy a separate policy.

CHETRY: And how much are we talking about, does this cost the average person who is already dealing with a mortgage and homeowners insurance?

SALVATORE: Well, flood insurance is relatively inexpensive. The average person spent about $500 last year on flood insurance. So this is something to protect your biggest investment. It's really, really very important insurance protection, and I would say everybody should consider purchasing it. So everybody should ask their agent about federal flood insurance.

CHETRY: Can you see the frustrations though when somebody like the Partingtons say they've paid their monthly payment or their yearly payment for 30 years and they find out that when their home sort of crashes to the side of the river they're just ouf luck?

SALVATORE: You know, of course I'm sympathetic to anybody who suffered a loss. But the -- there is an opportunity here, an educational opportunity for people to really look at their policies, ask questions, and really inform themselves about what is covered and what's not.

CHETRY: All right.

Jeanne Salvatore with the Insurance Information Institute of America.

Thanks for being with us.

SALVATORE: Thank you.

SANCHEZ: Back to school now time for your kids, and we are scoping out the cafeterias and the gym classes as well. Do they make the grade? It's important. It's a checkup by none other than Dr. Sanjay Gupta.

Ahead right here on AMERICAN MORNING.


CHETRY: Got a new ballot box this morning which we're excited about.

Here, let's show this...

SANCHEZ: And I just got my hand slapped for...

CHETRY: No cheating. No peeking.

Well, one of the things coming up in just a few minutes that you can't miss, we have a college edition of our ballot jackpot, because it's College Week here on AMERICAN MORNING. We're going to get the opinions of some of our best and brightest future leaders about some of the top issues.

SANCHEZ: Also referred to as upstarts.

CHETRY: Exactly.

We're going to find out much more about what they have to say about interesting topics like the MySpace race, their predictions for 2008, and whether or not Iraq is their Vietnam.

SANCHEZ: That's a very good question for them.

And we'll have at all right here on AMERICAN MORNING.


CHETRY: A beautiful shot this morning.

SANCHEZ: Do you know what city that is?

CHETRY: That is Sanchez City -- also known as Atlanta. You're headed back there today?

SANCHEZ: That's right. I'll be flying back to Atlanta over Hartsfield. The problem is I think it's going to affect my nap because

CHETRY: Why does it look so much like Central Park?

SANCHEZ: You know what I'm hearing? I'm hearing thunderstorms in Atlanta.

CHETRY: Are you going to be able to get back or you gonna stay?

SANCHEZ: I'll be there. I'll spend the weekend with the wife and the kids and then I'll come back on Monday.

CHETRY: Sounds good.

SANCHEZ: Spend time, and take you out to lunch, maybe.

CHETRY: Sounds good. We liked having you here for the week.

SANCHEZ: Thanks.

CHETRY: I eat a lot, though.

SANCHEZ: You sure do.

CHETRY: You ready to pony up?

SANCHEZ: I don't know where you are putting it. Man!

I'm Rick Sanchez sitting in for John. She's Kiran. Let's get going.

CHETRY: That's right. Thanks for being with us this morning.

We start out with the weather. We begin the morning in Chicago, the Windy City slammed by extreme weather. The pictures tell the story today. Pounding rain, whipping wind hampered the city last night. There you see some of the shots from the evening commute.

Some people trying to cut out early after they saw what it was like. Residents reported even seeing sightings of funnel clouds, and tornado-like winds at times. The weather created quite a hazard for drivers. It also delivered a knockout punch to the airport. Chicago's O'Hare, more 500 flights were canceled. Also across town at Midway, many people ended up spending the night at the airport.

The airlines say they're hoping to get back on track today. Trying to get people on as many rerouted flights as possible. In the meantime tens of thousands of people are still without electricity in and around Chicago. Power lines snapped as high winds took down the trees. As you can see from some of these i-Report pictures, the streets were literally impassible because of the huge trees, damaged cars, in some cases. One of these sent to us by Ryan Enderess, over night. A mess that also sparked a scare in one neighborhood. Let's listen.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: When I came out, everything was down. A tree fell on a car on York and St. Charles. People -- I heard the people are OK, but the car was demolished.

(END VIDEO CLIP) CHETRY: There you see somebody being taken out on a stretcher, this morning because of that car hitting by a fallen tree. The weather is also being blamed for a roof collapse. There you see the pictures. This was a Chicago warehouse in West Chicago. Seven people were taken to the hospital. All of them are said to be doing OK this morning.

SANCHEZ: This just in now to CNN. A deadly incident of friendly fire in Afghanistan. The U.K.'s ministry of defense is saying that a U.S. air strike killed three British soldiers.

According to the statement, that was released just today, and here is the information we're getting. U.S. fighter jet dropped a bomb targeting Taliban fighters and instead they hit NATO troops that were on the ground. Again, according to the information, again, a U.S. fighter jet dropped a bomb thinking they were going to attack the Taliban. And, instead, they hit NATO troops on the ground. This information just now coming in. As we get more on this we will be sharing it with you and expect to hear it here on CNN throughout the morning and throughout the day.

Powerful Republican voices calling on the White House now to withdraw some troops from Iraq. This is unexpected. Senator John Warner, a former Armed Services chairman, former secretary of the Navy, for the first time is recommending a date for a partial pullout.

He is saying that withdrawing about 5,000 troops, which is not a big number obviously compared to what is there, would send Iraqi leaders a message, at least, to start taking some action.


SEN. JOHN WARNER (R) VIRGINIA: With 160,000 plus, say, 5,000 could be deployed and be home to their families and loved one no later than Christmas of this year. We simply cannot, as a nation, stand and put our troops at continuous risk of loss of life and limb, without beginning to take some decisive action which will get everybody's attention.


SANCHEZ: The White House, right now, is in insisting that any decisions about a change in strategy should wait until next month's progress report from Iraq.


GORDON JOHNDROE, SPOKESMAN, NATL. SECURITY COUNCIL: I just think it's important that we wait, right now, to hear from the commanders on the ground about the way ahead.


SANCHEZ: The new Intelligence Estimate is predicting that Iraq's leaders are not going to be effective, but it also says there have been some security improvements since the U.S. troops began the buildup. CHETRY: To our "Terror Watch" now, and a new phase in the way the FBI gathers and shares intelligence. Hoping that valuable information can get to agents in real-time, faster than ever before. Kelli Arena is in our Washington bureau this morning with details.

Hi, Kelli.


You know, this new technology basically allows the FBI to share fingerprint information in real time. And that could seriously increase not only our security here in the homeland, but the security of the Americans around the world.

The FBI has about 50,000 prints from what they call known or suspected terrorists. And that database continually gets updated. So, instead of sending over information to the Department of Homeland Security on a computer disk, like the FBI used to, this new format will transmit the information immediately.

Say, for example, there's a bombing in Iraq. Investigators can sometimes find fingerprints on some of the components after an explosion. Now those prints would be sent to the FBI database. Let's say someone wants a job working in the green zone in Iraq. The Department of Defense only has to check that fingerprint against the bank of known and suspected terrorists, and be sure that that information is the most up-to-date that it can be, Kiran.

CHETRY: That's interesting. What do they hope to accomplish technologically speaking for them?

ARENA: Well, what investigators hope to do is, obviously, to share this information internationally in real-time because, obviously, this war on terror is a global war on terror. They also want folks in the field to some day be able to fingerprint somebody with a mobile unit, and then check that against the database, all in real time. This, obviously, technology improves each day and all a work-in-progress.

CHETRY: Yes, but that would be great if they had those mobile units.

All right, Kelli Arena, thanks so much.

ARENA: You're welcome.

SANCHEZ: How much did your baby weigh?

CHETRY: 6.10, how about yours?

SANCHEZ: That's small.

CHETRY: Yeah, not as small as this one you're about to talk about.

SANCHEZ: We had a 10-pounder. Amazing birthday story to share with you now. Baby Alfie (ph) weighs just 1 pound, 1 ounce, and he was born somewhere over Germany. Mom was just six months along. Is that amazing?

CHETRY: I think he's bigger now. That looks like he is at least five or six in that picture.

SANCHEZ: I like the outfit.

CHETRY: One pound is about the size of -- slightly bigger than a soda can.

SANCHEZ: Slightly bigger than a soda can? Wow, that's small.

Alfie (ph) may not have made it if not for one flight supervisor. She used a drinking straw to clear Alfie's (ph) lungs and did mouth- to-mouth and heart massage for half an hour until the plane could landed. Wow! Would you know how to do that?

CHETRY: No. Hat's off to her. She saved a little life. How about that?

SANCHEZ: Alfie (ph) is getting special treatment at a hospital in London. Great story.

CHETRY: Back to school time again. And it's time to ask a serious question. Are school health programs aimed at helping kids be more healthy, making the grade? CNN's Chief Medical Correspondent Dr. Sanjay Gupta is checking up on America's schools. This is your "Fit Nation" series.

How are they doing?

DR. SANJAY GUPTA, CNN CHIEF MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: Yeah, we're really committed to this, this whole idea of checking up on childhood obesity. I think it's one of the biggest problems we face right now.

About a year ago they passed some legislation saying schools had to implement wellness programs. Looking at things you might think they would want to look at including school lunches, including vending machines, and including phys ed classes. And they wanted to actually to implement these wellness programs to try and combat childhood obesity. That is what has been going on.

CHETRY: So they say it's great to have a policy but we still have vending machines in schools, and kids are getting sugary soda and other treats. How much of that is that helping?

GUPTA: We did a lot of checking up on that. Vending machines are still a problem in a lot of places, there's no question about it. There have been some changes as well. Some good news there. Arkansas, for example, is the first state to ban machines completely from their elementary schools. They don't have vending machines, period.

Many other places including the vending machines manufacturers themselves had tried to switch out some of the unhealthier products with healthier products. California, for example, has banned sugary sodas from their vending machines.

One of the things that's interesting, Kiran, and you may know this, but in a lot of the schools actually rely pretty heavily on the vending machine revenue to fund other school programs. So it's sort of a little bit of a balance there. There is some incentive for them to keep the vending machines to fund those programs. On the other hand, they're trying to combat childhood obesity. One of the ways to do it is just offer healthier products and make sure the kids actually buy those things.

CHETRY: All right. Sounds good. Check up on it and making sure they're Sanjay Gupta, thanks.

GUPTA: Thank you.

CHETRY: By the way, join Sanjay this weekend for his own show "House Call." How to avoid taking the kids to the ER, because of all their overloaded backpacks. A back-to-school special for "House Call". That is Saturday and Sunday at 8:30 a.m. Eastern, right here, on CNN.

SANCHEZ: Some encouraging news over night from Virginia Tech. This is part of the "Quick Hits" segment we bring you.

Two students critically hurt in a carbon monoxide leak had their conditions upgraded to good last night. Sophomores got sick after a water heater malfunctioned at their off-campus apartment building.

Also a new warning about Iran. The National Intelligence Estimate says Iran is still trying to develop a nuclear weapon despite its claims the program is peaceful. That is from one U.S. official who saw the report. The Islamic Republic has refused a U.N. Security Council demand to stop enriching uranium. That is considered a key step toward building an atomic bomb.

Coming up, a two test for a two college institute; one a Republican, the other one a Democrat. We will throw hot political topics their way and they don't know what they're going to get. So watch this, it should be interesting. Stay with us.


CHETRY: Crime fighting text messages, topping your "Quick Hits" now. Boston police say they're having huge success with a plan that lets tipsters send anonymous cell phone text messages to detectives to report crime. They've gotten 230 texts so far, and including several that led to the arrests of two murder suspects.

Well, a judge believed his defense. But not New York City's top cop. So the so-called marijuana meatball cop is out of a job today. The 22-year veteran detective was fired after failing a drug test. He had claimed that his wife spiked his meatballs with marijuana because she didn't want him on the force anymore. A judge bought it but the commissioner did not.

If you steal everyone is going to know about it in one part of Florida. Putnam County judge is forcing shoplifters to go back to the scene of their crimes, and carry signs saying what they did. Like that one, "I stole from a local store". He says that he hopes it shame them to changing their ways.

SANCHEZ: Today is Minnesota Day right here, in the AMERICAN MORNING set. Let's go over to Jacqui Jeras because she is a Minnesotan.

JACQUI JERAS, CNN METEOROLOGIST: I like what you said earlier about people from Minnesota are smart, by the way.

SANCHEZ: Smart -- and nice!

JERAS: We are nice! Absolutely!


CHETRY: Now it is time for us to stuff the ballot box, so to speak. It's a special A.M. College Week edition of our hot political topics. We have them all on here. And we throw them into the ballot box here.

SANCHEZ: This is cool.

CHETRY: We put one hot topic on each, stuff them in, we draw them out and we have --

SANCHEZ: Let me help.

CHETRY: Thank you. OK. It's hard to walk and chew gum at the same time, isn't it?

SANCHEZ: I get it.

CHETRY: Our guests are going to be weighing in today. They're from college campuses.

SANCHEZ: I'm a Gopher and you're a Turtle.

CHETRY: Terp, Terrapin.

SANCHEZ: So this is all in keeping with our college theme this week. We've got upstarts joining us now. First, Laura Elizabeth Morales, she's a Republican, and a junior at the University of Texas in San Antonio.

We also have?

CHETRY: Rachel Moore, she's a Democrat and a senior at Lebanon Valley College in Anvil (ph), Pennsylvania.

Good to see both of you this morning. Thanks for being with us.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Thank you for having me. CHETRY: We have predictions for 2008. Who do you think the Republican candidate will be? Let's start with Laura Elizabeth Morales. You go ahead and give us your thoughts. Who is the Republican nominee if you had to be a betting woman this morning?

LAURA ELIZABETH MORALES, COLLEGIATE REPUBLICAN: Sure. If I had to be a betting woman and I had to be idealistic I would really like to see Ron Paul get the nomination for the Republican Party.


MORALES: I really think he's a sound, traditional conservative.

Yeah, it's surprising -- uh, come of things. And I really think he sticks to the Constitution and really stands for what conservatives believe in.



CHETRY: Wait, wait, wait.

It brings me to the other question.


CHETRY: Is there any likely, let's say --

SANCHEZ: What are you trying to say?

CHETRY: Top tier GOP candidate? Because if I was a betting woman, I'd say Ron Paul doesn't have a chance. Unfortunately, for you. But who -- is there a lack of enthusiasm over some of the top tier GOP candidates, Laura?

MORALES: I'm going to say having been the idealistic betting candidate I would say Ron Paul has the chance, idealistically. As far as the top tier candidates I don't really think they stand for what traditional conservatives believe in. You have Giuliani out there who is really anti-gun Republican, who is going to lose a strong base, especially here in the south. And then Mitt Romney kind of flip-flops on his issues. John McCain I think is pretty much just out. We need a strong, solid conservative.

SANCHEZ: That's a young Republican speaking. Let's listen to a young Democrat.

Rachel, on your party who do you think is going to get the ticket? Make it short, will you?

RACHEL MOORE, COLLEGIATE DEMOCRAT: It doesn't really matter who gets the ticket because anybody could be a president than President Bush at this point. Let's focus on just a Democrat winning in 2008 and put aside everything.

SANCHEZ: But that's not the question! I said who -- if you had to pick somebody?

MOORE: I'm sorry, what?

SANCHEZ: If you had to pick somebody, who would you pick?

MOORE: I'd pick a Democrat! Let's face it!

CHETRY: Wow! She won't go out on a limb this morning! That is so funny!

SANCHEZ: You're going to make a great senator one day.

MOORE: Well, let's face it. I mean, all of the college Democrats, you know, we're so behind just winning a Democrat in 2008. If you look at the Republican candidates, I mean, the Democrats are such a diverse group. And all the Republican candidates, every one of them have said they would commute Scooter Libby. They said that they would stay in Iraq and turn it into the next Korea. And all of the Republican candidates --

SANCHEZ: You'd vote for a -- so if it was Porky Pig, you would vote for him just as long as he's a Democrat?

MOORE: I'm sorry? What?

SANCHEZ: If it was Porky Pig would you vote for him, just because he's a Democrat?

MOORE: Now, that's taking it a little far. But --

SANCHEZ: So you do consider -- so you do consider who the person is, right?

MOORE: I didn't say that, sir. But let's face it, Republican candidates also supported Bush's you know, nonsupport on chip programs. A time for the Democrats to win, let's focus on that first.

SANCHEZ: You're tough! She's tough!

CHETRY: All right. Laura, quickly. Let's keep it quick because we don't have time. But your most important issue of this debate.

MORALES: Sure, my most important issue is probably going to be Social Security. I think that's an issue that's really facing our generation. That my generation is pretty much going to be completely robbed of those funds that were put into the government. We really need to get students to focus on that issue and make that the forefront for the 2008 election.

SANCHEZ: Your most important issue. Rachel, take it away.

MOORE: We are -- my most important issues are the ones from the Democratic Party, are the environment, making sure there's proper support on student aid, and universal health care for all, and among other things. We can't really be pegged to one issue at this point. We're so educated and ready to go. CHETRY: Can't nail her down this morning.


CHETRY: You guys have some interesting perspectives, the both of you. Laura Elizabeth Morales, at the University of Texas, San Antonio and Rachel Moore, at Lebanon Valley College in Pennsylvania. Thanks to both of you for talking to us.

SANCHEZ: They're tough. She held her ground.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Thanks very much.

SANCHEZ: I'm not going to tell you who I liked. All right. I like all Democrats.

CHETRY: CNN "Newsroom" is just minutes away. Tony Harris is at the CNN Center for a look ahead at what's ahead.

Hi, Tony.

TONY HARRIS, CNN ANCHOR, CNN NEWSROOM: Good Friday, get-away day to you, Kiran.

That diaper-wearing, ex-shuttle astronaut certainly on the "Newsroom" rundown. Lisa Nowak in court in just minutes. She's charged with trying to kidnap a romantic rival.

Violent storms rip Chicago. Thousands loose power. Air travel at O'Hare, an absolute mess this morning.

Pull them up, or pay up! That is the line in Atlanta. We talk to a city councilman who is tired of eyeballing boxers, thongs, and sports bras. Breaking news when it happens. Heidi is with me in the "Newsroom" at the top of the hour, right here on CNN.

CHETRY: Good thing they're only getting a shot of from you the waist up. You never know you would fine yourself, Tony.

HARRIS: Fully adorned!


SANCHEZ: You don't want to see your boxers or briefs, Tony.

HARRIS: Won't happen! Won't happen, Rick.

SANCHEZ: "Quick Hits" now: Some Lotto players in Tennessee got a surprise, when they picked up the phone. Turns out that Lotto officials connected players to a phone sex hotline -- accidentally. Players say they called to get their money back because of earlier computer glitch. A Lotto spokesperson says, just a mistake. So now there is a new number to call, so that doesn't happen again.

Feeling lucky? Some big jackpots out there this weekend. Mega Millions is up to $200 million. Those numbers will be drawn tonight. If that's not enough for you Powerball drawing is up to $300 million, and that drawing is tomorrow.

CHETRY: You know, my palm was itching in the last hour, doesn't that mean you're about to come into some money? When your palm itches?

SANCHEZ: I -- I think it means you have a desperate crush on me.


SANCHEZ: Some big name fashion magazines are fatter than ever now. Why? Lola is going to be looking into this. She's looking into the September super-sized issues. That's ahead.

CHETRY: You need a backpack to carry those things around.



CHETRY: These are, by the way, these new fashion magazines for the fall. I know because my best friend has every single one of these, probably, right now. They're heavy. We talk about fashion. Some of the biggest names in fashion magazines are breaking that rule with the super-sized fall editions.

SANCHEZ: How much? Two pounds?

CHETRY: No, it can't be only two pounds!

SANCHEZ: There you go.

CHETRY: Anyway. Our Lola Ogunnaike takes a look at who is paying the price.


LOLA OGUNNAIKE, CNN ENTERTAINMENT CORRESPONDENT (on camera): So, you're used to carrying this?


OGUNNAIKE: But I'm not. It's heavy. My hand is shaking.

HUANG: We handed it out to the customer, they -- we hand it out like this, very easy, but when they -- like this!

OGUNNAIKE: Back-breaking work here! How much do you think this one weighs? If you had to guess?

ORLANDO TOUSSAINT, POSTAL CARRIER: I'd say 16 ounces, which is a pound.



OGUNNAIKE: It's actually three pounds.


OGUNNAIKE: And it's heavy for you, huh?

HUANG: Very heavy for us. Also, the problem is box too small. It's hard to put it in.

OGUNNAIKE: If you can't shove it in here, then they get one of these?


OGUNNAIKE: You put it in here.


OGUNNAIKE: You say you're on your own, you got to go pick it up?

TOUSSAINT: That's the way we do it.


CHETRY: There they are. Actually this was so heavy this only goes up to 11 pounds. It went around once!

SANCHEZ: Yeah, watch what happens. No, go ahead. Show them what happens. See? It goes all the way around. It went around 10, now 11, 12 pounds.

CHETRY: Why are these issues so humongous?

OGUNNAIKE: Ads, ads, ads. This is "Vogue" September issue. It's almost five pounds. But look, I mean, you guys, you see, ads, ads, ads. It's hard see tell the articles anymore. Over 800 pages of the magazine, more than 700 of these pages are actual ads.

SANCHEZ: Wow. There you go.

OGUNNAIKE: You've got "W" here. This one clocks in at close to 600, more than 400 also ads. Fall is a huge month for -- September is a huge month for the fashion magazines. It's back to school month, essentially. And for a lot of fashionistas it's almost Christmastime for them.

SANCHEZ: That means revenues by the way.

We will take a break and then we're going to read these magazines and tell you what is in them! Stay with us!



CHETRY: So what's in them? Not really sure what's in all the magazine. OGUNNAIKE: Ads. All ads, all ads all the time. And if you are a true fashionista you want to lug these things around. But Kiran, I think you had a great point the other day.

CHETRY: I'd cut out the articles and staple them and just carry those.

OGUNNAIKE: Take a Exacto knife, and go right through them, and put them a folder and you can walk on the subway with them, as opposed to carrying these and these -- it's a mess!

SANCHEZ: Or you could not read this stuff at all and just pick up a good "Sports Illustrated" article!

OGUNNAIKE: Oh, stop it.

SANCHEZ: Thanks for being with us, folks.

CHETRY: That's all we have at AMERICAN MORNING.

SANCHEZ: That is great.

CHETRY: "Newsroom" with Tony Harris and Heidi Collins begins right now.