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CNN Sunday Morning

Chopper and Plane Collide in New York, Fourth Victim Found; Magnitude 7.1 Earthquake Hits Japan; Tempers Flare at Town Hall Meetings

Aired August 09, 2009 - 08:00   ET


BETTY NGUYEN, CNN ANCHOR: From the CNN Center, this is CNN SUNDAY MORNING. It is August 9th, 8:00 a.m. here at CNN headquarters in Atlanta; 5:00 a.m. on the west coast.

Good morning, everybody. Thanks for joining us. I'm Betty Nguyen.

ROB MARCIANO, CNN ANCHOR: And I'm Rob Marciano, in today for T.J. Holmes.

We are getting new information on that helicopter plane collision over the Hudson this morning. Nine people died in that crash and at this moment, divers are getting back into the water for the recovery effort. We'll talk live to the head of the National Transportation Safety Board in just a few minutes.

NGUYEN: Also, you got to check out this video, chaos in California. Fires, inmates, and injuries overnight at a prison.

Plus, health care reform, what is really going on?


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I read things about the House health care plan and have found that much of what they're telling me is not true.


MARCIANO: Congressional members holding health care town hall meetings are hearing an earful.

NGUYEN: Well, investigators, they are searching the murky waters of the Hudson River this morning for clues as to what caused a helicopter and small plane to collide yesterday. No one is believed to have survived. Searchers pulled three of the bodies from the water yesterday before calling off the search for the night.

CNN's Susan Candiotti has more.


SUSAN CANDIOTTI, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): As the sun set, divers who could barely see in the murky waters of the Hudson promised to resume work in the morning, painstakingly looking for victims and wreckage in up to 50 feet of water.

COMMISSIONER RAY KELLY, NEW YORK POLICE: The ability to see is very limited, two to three feet at most.

CANDIOTTI: On a bright sunny day, it was hard to under why a small plane and sightseeing helicopter should collide over the Hudson River.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I was very shocked. I think I was screaming for a few seconds. And then two of us, we started calling 911.

CANDIOTTI: The small plane like this one, with the pilot, his brother and his brother's son took off from New Jersey's Teterboro Airport and turned south over the Hudson. At the same time, five Italian tourists lifted off for a sightseeing tour in a helicopter.

COLIN RICH, WITNESSED CRASH: There was a plane, a small plane like a Cessna cutting back towards New Jersey side; and the helicopter heading southbound, about 1,100 to 1,200 feet. The plane rolled into the helicopter, hit the side of it. The helicopter went straight down the water. There was a poof of smoke and like a bang. And the plane went further down, hit the water.

CANDIOTTI: Italian tourists who stayed behind waiting for their friends and family were stun.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: They told me that they have some relatives, not friends but relatives.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: So, they are inside the (INAUDIBLE) right now?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes. But we don't know anything because we asked if they are alive.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Right. What did they say?


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Were they crying?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: No, no, no. They are very sad but they are not crying.

CANDIOTTI: The NTSB says that just before the accident happened another pilot on the ground saw the plane approaching and tried to radio a warning to the helicopter pilot.

DEBBIE HERSMAN, CHMN., NATL. TRANSPORTATION SAFETY BOARD: There was no response from the pilot. He stated he saw the right-wing of the airplane contact the helicopter. He saw helicopter parts and the right-wing fall and both aircraft descended into the Hudson River.

CANDIOTTI: So far, three bodies have been recovered. Autopsies are expected to begin Sunday morning. (END VIDEOTAPE)

NGUYEN: And Susan Candiotti joins us now live from Hoboken, New Jersey.

Susan, do investigators think they've found all of the areas where the debris is scattered?

CANDIOTTI: Well, they have definitely located where the helicopter wreckage is, and you can see now live over my shoulder, Betty, the divers are back in the water and have been for sometime now -- again, the condition is not the greatest. So they've found where the helicopter's located. You see those two orange buoys out there in the water, they've also added a third one, however, divers are still trying to locate the wreckage of that small plane.

Again, conditions very tough out there. The water is murky. The current is strong. And the divers can barely see in front of them, only about two feet.

NGUYEN: Yes, they have a lot of work ahead of them. And let me ask you this, given the fact that a number of planes and helicopters fly over the Hudson on any given day, are there any reports of communication problems during the time of this crash?

CANDIOTTI: We have no information on that at this time, but naturally, that's one of the things that the NTSB will be looking at. Remember, they operate under visual flight rules in this particular corridor and that means that they ask pilots to be aware of traffic around them and communicate with each other. And as an example of that, there is a radio frequency that is designated and dedicated to the Hudson River, also one on the East River on the other side of Manhattan, and they ask pilots to use that frequency to communicate with each other.

So, that's one of the things that authorities will be looking into to see how much traffic there was on the radio channel before the accident happened.

NGUYEN: All right. CNN's Susan Candiotti joining us live -- thank you, Susan.

MARCIANO: Well, our iReporters are also staying on top of this story. Jim Davidson sent us these photos from the scene. He lives just a few blocks from the river on the Jersey side. There are some of the recovery efforts going on. He said he heard what sounded like a car backfiring or fireworks.

He says he thinks -- he didn't think much of it at the time, but someone called him, one of his friends called him and told him about the crash, and he ran down there and took some of these pictures. Much like what happened with the U.S. Air crash, a lot of resources there on the Hudson River to jump in and take care of business. Unfortunately this one, no survivors.

All right. We want to find out what happened. Witnesses and accounts like that put us on the scene at the time of the crash.

But investigators with the National Transportation Safety Board have a tougher task this hour. They have to figure out what happened. They are back in the water right now.

Deborah Hersman, head of the NTSB. She joins us live from the crash site on the Jersey side of the Hudson.

Ms. Hersman, where are we in the investigation right now? What do you know?

DEBORAH HERSMAN, CHAIRWOMAN, NTSB: Well, we've only been on scene for about -- well, less than 24 hours. So, we've got a lot of work ahead of us. We have gotten some very good information from witness interviews as well as some footage from still photos. That's helpful to our investigators.

We have really got to put together the sequence of events, know exactly where these aircrafts were, what the altitude was, what communications took place. Our team was at the Teterboro control tower late last night, trying to put together some radar data and other information. We're going to get together in about an hour and go through what we found.

MARCIANO: What do you think is going to be the most vital piece of information? I know you're close to our reporter Susan Candiotti. You may have overheard her report saying that there are specific channels for radio contact along that corridor. Are those channels recorded anywhere? Will that be something you'll be able to dig into?

HERSMAN: We're looking very closely at any air traffic control communications that might have occurred between the tower, the fixed- wing aircraft that had just taken off from Teterboro, and also, any monitoring that might have gone on of that common frequency in the VFR corridor over the Hudson River. All of that will be part of our investigation, but it's really too early to tell what, if any, might be a specific piece of information.

We're going to have to see what we find. And we're very interested in the witnesses that might have any video, surveillance video, or other footage to come forward.

MARCIANO: Very congested corridor, as you know. From what I understand, there are different rules for different altitudes there. What are the rules that you can think of judging by where you think this accident would've happened, the altitude it would have happened. What are the rules for say flying at 1,000 feet, flying at 2,000 feet?

HERSMAN: Well, I think the rules vary. We need to look at this air space. It's very complex. There's a VFR corridor along the Hudson River, and the helicopter would have been operating within those rules. And so, we need to see what those rules are, and if they were complying with those rules.

And it's a see-and-be-seen environment if you're VFR corridor. There's a lot of Class B air space or restricted air space around the airports. There are four major airports right here in the immediate vicinity, in addition to a number of other airports.

And so, we need to check and see what the aircraft as it departed from Teterboro, what rules they were operating under and what their altitude requirements were.

MARCIANO: Roughly speaking, judging on what you know right now, I mean, can you -- can you classify this roughly as a bad traffic accident where one person didn't yield to the other? Or just a collision that would happen on a roadway?

HERSMAN: Well, what we can say is this is a tragedy. Having two aircrafts collide over the Hudson River and having no survivors is something that is a very sad event. Our charge here is to find out what happened and if we can make any recommendations to prevent this from happening again. That's really why we're here.

So, we need to see what the facts tell us and if we have any immediate concerns, we will be sure to get out with those to the public.

MARCIANO: One last question, Deborah, real quickly, the air space was shut down yesterday for the investigation and recovery, is that air space still shut down? And does that affect commercial flights?

HERSMAN: Commercial flights are continuing to operate out of the airports. We are going to have meetings this morning at 9:00, the FAA will be present. We'll have some additional discussions about any operations.

Obviously, there's some weather today. There's some challenges for the divers and for folks who are doing investigative activities. And so, we'll keep your fingers crossed that that weather improves.

MARCIANO: Well, you certainly have a lot of work ahead of you. Deborah Hersman, NTSB chairwoman -- thank you and good luck with the investigation.

HERSMAN: Thank you.

NGUYEN: All right, we want to get back to our breaking news story that we are definitely keeping an eye on. A powerful earthquake is hitting Japan some 200 miles southwest of Tokyo, there are no reports of injuries or damages. But the tremors and effects could be felt across other areas around the capital.

CNN international correspondent Morgan Neill joins us by phone from Tokyo.

It's good to hear that there haven't been any damages or casualties. But I want to ask there in Tokyo, were you able to feel the effects of this?

MORGAN NEILL, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (via telephone): (AUDIO GAP) the apartment building (AUDIO GAP) and I could feel the entire building shake less than a minute or so, the walls swaying back and forth, the plates rattling (AUDIO GAP).

NGUYEN: All right. Morgan, I'm going to have to interrupt you because we're having some difficulty hearing you over that phone line. But of course, we'll try checking back in with you and get the latest on what is happening there on the ground.

Again, a 7.1 magnitude earthquake has struck south of Tokyo. Right now, there are no reports of any damages or casualties. But again, it is still very early on in this and at this point, there's no danger of a tsunami. But there is always the possibility of aftershock. So, we are watching that story very closely.

A lot going on today weather-wise, especially in that part of the world.

MARCIANO: Yes, we've got the earthquake. You know, the weather center has all of the technology to track these kinds of things. Reynolds has specifics on that.

Plus, they got a typhoon over there.

NGUYEN: Yes, typhoon in China.


REYNOLDS WOLF, CNN METEOROLOGIST: That's right. Over 1 million people have been evacuated from the China coast. Taiwan, the worst flooding they've experienced in some 50 years, four people dead in Taiwan. It is just a mess over there in that part of the Pacific. We're keeping a very sharp eye on it.

But first, some video which helped tell the story which has been happening in China. I mean, people have been doing the right thing. They've been getting up and they've been getting out of there as the storm has been approaching -- just a powerful, powerful system.

Now as we were talking yesterday, Rob and I mentioned the geek term, orographic lift, yes, they have that in China. You see the heavy rainfall there, it quickens the process of erosion. And we've got mud slides and get all kinds of flooding taking place over there, certainly some rough stuff.

Now, here at home, we certainly had our share of rough weather. In fact, last night, near the Twin Cities, just southwest of the Twin Cities, it was plenty of thunderstorm activity and a reported tornado, tornado vortex signature popped up on radar. There's been some reports of damage.

I don't think there were any eyewitness reports, though, of any visual confirmation of the tornado today. What's going to happen is the National Weather Service is going to get out. They're going to look around and survey the damage. And they're going to have a little bit of a clean-up. This is, again, typical for this time of the year to see that kind of activity.

And right now, and speaking of that, let's go right to our weather computer, where I wanted you to see something. Take a look at this. You see a couple of storms popping up in parts of the Corn Belt, you got Sioux City, you got Yankton, just north of Lincoln, you see a lot of reds and greens pop up on radar. What that means to you is that we've got intense storms out there. That's where it's most dense in the atmosphere. You're heaviest rainfall falling.

You're also going to notice a couple of shapes that are popping up. Those are severe thunderstorm watch boxes that will be in effect until 2:00 local time. A lot of action here, but you'll notice, in a few areas, namely over towards Fort Dodge, Ames, and even in Des Moines, you don't have much.

You'll look out the window and you'll look back towards the west, you're going to see a lot of dark clouds. Those dark clouds, those thick skies are going to be moving right in your direction. As they do so, that's going to bring the heavy rainfall first. It's going to be preceded by some strong winds.

And later into the afternoon, you can see more of that action spread into parts of Chicago, back into Michigan, could be dealing with some severe thunderstorms, maybe some large hail developing and the isolated tornadoes will be in the picture.

Also as you get back towards the Finger Lakes of New York, perhaps even in New York City, you could deal with some thunder boomers before the day is out. Nothing doing in parts of the southeast, maybe a straight shower and thunderstorm, but hot and humid is going to be based with the name of the game from, say, Louisiana back in Alabama, but even into Texas where highs are going to go back into the 90s once again today. But with the high humidity, yes, it's going to feel much warmer for you.

Temperatures, say, in places like Phoenix, going up to 106 today, 73 degrees in San Francisco, a great day for you out by Pier 39. You're making that trip out to Alcatraz, it should be fine. A little chop on the water, but all things consider, a great day in the Bay Area. A little bit of fog, but that should be gone by midday.

That is a look at your forecast. Let's send it back to you guys at the desk.

NGUYEN: All right. But we're hearing, they're going to have a little bit of bad weather there in New York as they're trying to search -- as they search with those bodies...

WOLF: Absolutely.

NGUYEN: ... the mid-air collision over the Hudson River. It is a grim search for victims and for answers. But it has resumed this morning, and we'll be bringing you the updates as they develop.

MARCIANO: Also ahead: the health care chaos and what that means for a president's push for reform.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK) NGUYEN: All right. So, it is a make or break month for health care reform. And now, the fight is out of Washington and in your backyard. Lawmakers are holding town hall meetings in their districts, but some, mostly Democrats, can barely get a word out.




UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I'll tell you about conspiracy.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It reads like something that was thought up in the early 1930s in Germany. Let us not go to that level.


NGUYEN: Wow. Can you hear the passion there? It was a packed meeting for Iowa Democratic Senator Tom Harkin yesterday.

Reform opponents weren't the only ones in the crowd, but they may have been the loudest. Harkin repeated the Democrats' line that these disruptions are a coordinated effort by reform opponents.

Conservatives have encouraged people to come out. The Republican Party, though, denies any responsibility. In fact, many in these crowds will tell you they just want their voices heard.


JOHN KURR, HEALTH CARE REFORM OPPONENT: I think he heard that there's a lot of people out here angry that Congress proposes bills, doesn't read them, and then when the people out here read them, Congress gets angry that we're reading the bills.

SEN. TOM HARKIN (D), IOWA: I think when people get the right information and they know what we're trying to do and how this is going to all wash out. I'm not saying 100 percent of the American people be for it, but I think the vast majority of the American people will see this as a good thing to change the system that we have.


MARCIANO: Well, the health care reform debate also has fuelled highly-organized efforts to lobby lawmakers. CNN photojournalist Jeremy Moorhead has one search effort in the shadow of the capital's dome.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Here we are for health care for America.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: This is a huge undertaking.

Right now, we are in Upper Senate Park in front of... I'm the marshal's captain. My name is Julie, and we're going to be positioning you folks throughout the Upper Senate Park. It's going to be a great rally.

We've got many, many groups who are volunteering their folks. The main responsibility will be to keep the sidewalks clear.

Why am I doing this? Because I support health care for all. I think health care is a right and I think that this is a pivotal time in our history to make sure that we guarantee that. We've got almost 65 buses that are coming in the next two to three hours. I think we have people coming from as far as Hawaii.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Three bus loads from West Virginia.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Some of them will be going to town halls to meet with senators. There's going to be a lot of people.




UNIDENTIFIED MALE: There's more of you than we expected, which is what a movement's about.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: When you go to Europe, you get health care from cradle to grave. And here in America, the richest country in the world and you've got millions of people who don't have health care. If they lose their job, they lose their health care. If they get divorced, they lose their health care. It's basic stuff. Why can't we have health care?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We need to work together to pass universal health care. There is no option but a public option.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Thank you. Thank you so much.


MARCIANO: You got to hand it to them, we want health care tune, that's...

NGUYEN: That's kind of catchy, isn't it?

MARCIANO: That's catchy. That'll do the job right there.

All right. Health care, unemployment, the Mexican summit. The president's list of priorities seems to go on and on.

NGUYEN: Yes, it does. And we have the latest on that when we check in with "STATE OF THE UNION's" John King.


MARCIANO: It's like this flag is flying, sun is coming up. And our John King makes it happen for several hours on Sundays.

NGUYEN: Oh, yes. "STATE OF THE UNION" is coming up at the top of the hour. John King joins us now with a preview.

And, John, I know you're going to be talking about health care reform. It seems like we've all been talking about it. And a lot of pushing and shoving, in fact, has been taking place at these town hall meetings. What kind of impact is all of this having on the president's plan for reform?

JOHN KING, "STATE OF THE UNION" HOST: Rob and Betty, good morning to you.

That is the question of August, because, you know, the president did not get the House or the Senate to act by his deadline. He wanted bills passed before those lawmakers went home, and that's one of the reasons why he wanted legislation in the bank before they got a chance to go home and face their constituents.

And you see these protests, you see these town halls all around the country, you see some complaints from Democrats that this is all organized and orchestrated by opponents of health care reform. What you are seeing is democracy in action. And sometimes, it's loud, and sometimes, it's contentious.

And the big question is, when those lawmakers come back to Washington, are they more embolden to vote for what the president wants or do they come back and say, "Mr. President, we can't spend that much money or you can't have that much government reach into the health care system, we need to compromise"? That will be the question we're trying to settle here in Washington when they all come back in a few weeks.

MARCIANO: Well, they're certainly getting an earful. I guess, some good news on the economy front this week. We had a little drop in unemployment. You think that's going to give the president a little bit of leeway when he's trying to shore up his overall recovery plan?

KING: It's a tough one, Rob, because the president is so happy to have this glimmer of hope. We should put it into context. Two hundred and fifty thousand Americans nearly still lost their jobs last month. So, that's 247,000 more Americans unemployed. But it was fewer job losses than in the previous months and that's surprising drop in the unemployment rate.

So, it is a glimmer of hope for a president who wants to tell the American people, "Look, we're bottoming out, we're going to start to come back pretty soon. And he would like to have the American people say, "Your policies, Mr. President, have at least something to do with the fact that we appear to be hitting the bottom and starting to come up." But what Americans feel most of all is the loss of jobs, they don't have the money in their pockets, they've lost their jobs, their neighbor has lost their job, they're worried about losing their job. And so, that anxiety is affecting, not only the president's approval rating and his standing on the economy, it's affecting the health care debate and other debates because Americans are simply uneasy. And when they're uneasy, they start to worry about government spending and they start to worry a little bit about their political leadership.

NGUYEN: Yes. And as we've seen in those town hall meetings, they start to speak up.

KING: They do.

NGUYEN: Let me ask you this. We talk about the economy; we talk about health care. The president's got a lot on his agenda, but he's also going to Mexico. What can we expect to see from this trip?

KING: Well, we're excited to have his United Nations ambassador, Susan Rice, on the program this morning to talk about this and the other big global issues, because we do spend so much time on the domestic challenges, we tend to forget sometimes the big, pressing global challenges.

In Mexico, he's going to talk about better cooperation with Mexico and with Canada when the swine flu comes back later this year. Everyone expects another increase in the swine flu that we dealt with a few months back. He'll also talk about the deadly drug violence in Mexico and the president of Mexico wants more help, both from a demand side on this side of the border when it comes to drugs, but also, more financial assistance so he can combat the drugs.

But there are a number of questions, Betty and Rob, in the United States Congress about as the president of Mexico takes this necessary action, have there been human rights abuses by the Mexican military? So, that will be another thorny subject.

And the biggest question on the table in the hemisphere is the economy. Mexico and Canada depend so much on the strength of the United States' economy for their own exports and that will be topic one.

NGUYEN: Yes, no doubt.

MARCIANO: Lots of topics to chat about. John King -- and he always has nice conversations with interesting people. That's coming up at the top of the hour, "STATE OF THE UNION," tune in in just about 30 minutes.

NGUYEN: Well, if you are just joining us, investigators have returned to the scene of that mid-air collision over the Hudson River in New York. We'll have the latest on the search for the remaining victims from the small plane and tourist helicopter.

MARCIANO: Plus, few religions have been as misunderstood as Islam. Just ahead: CNN's Christiane Amanpour previews her powerful new special on Islam and its millions of young followers.


NGUYEN: A tourist helicopter and small plane collide over the Hudson River. CNN iReporters are showing us just how close they were to the crash. And we also have some new information this morning. But first we do want to welcome you back to CNN SUNDAY MORNING. I'm Betty Nguyen.

MARCIANO: And I'm Rob Marciano, in today for T. J. Holmes.

NGUYEN: Great to have you.

All right. This morning, let's get right to it.

In New York, much of the crash investigation is now in the hands of divers. They are resuming their search for victims and answers in the Hudson River.

CNN national correspondent Susan Candiotti is on the New Jersey side of that river and joins me now from Hoboken. I understand, Susan, that they're pulling some more debris out of the river as we speak.

SUSAN CANDIOTTI, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Not only that, Betty, but it would also appears that they may be also recovering another victim.

Now, we cannot say that precisely; however, we can tell you it does appear to be the case. We have seen very close video of what's going on right now and we see that the divers very gingerly, very, very carefully have been out over the scene of the wreckage where the helicopter is beneath the surface of the Hudson River.

And they have been working with a white bag and have been bringing something up from below, placing that on that rubberized whole raft and then carefully transporting this over to the New York City police boat, which is there receiving debris as well as any victims that have been recovered.

So we can tell you that does appear to be the case. Again, these divers have been working very carefully since early this morning. Bringing up both debris as well as -- it would appear -- possibly, another victim. We're waiting naturally for confirmation of that, but we can see very obviously what has been going on.

We will also like to show you now some pictures that were taken just before this, some new video. And this is of a piece of metal also taken from what is believed to be the debris field where that helicopter wreckage is located. Is it part of a frame? Is it another piece of that helicopter? We cannot say for sure, but they also brought that up and moved that over to the boat that is situated as sort of a platform from where the divers are working.

Earlier today on newsroom Sunday morning, an NTSB investigator who was in charge of the scene here talked with CNN about all of the work that they're doing.


DEBORAH HERSMAN, CHAIRWOMAN, NTSB: We're looking very closely at any air traffic control communications that might have occurred between the tower, the fixed-wing aircraft that had just taken off from Teterboro, and also, any monitoring that might have gone on that common frequency in the VFR corridor over the Hudson River.

All of that will be part of our investigation, but it's really too early to tell what, if any, might be a specific piece of information. We're going to have to see what we find. And we're very interested in any witnesses that might have any video, surveillance video or other footage to come forward.


CANDIOTTI: Nine people are believed to have been killed in this crash. There were three people aboard the small plane; there were six people aboard the sightseeing helicopter. Divers are still trying to locate where that small plane is, it's in the vicinity, it was believed, of the helicopter, but you can tell that this work is very, very hard; very, very difficult -- Betty.

NGUYEN: No doubt. All right, Susan Candiotti joining us live. You've been covering this ever since the beginning of it. We do appreciate it. Thank you.

MARCIANO: Outside of Los Angeles right now, officials are trying to diffuse a riot that broke out last night at a California Institution for men in Chino. At least 40 inmates were hurt and taken to area hospitals; flames have been shooting from one of the prison buildings. Police and firefighters are on the scene. The prison itself is a medium-security facility that houses about 1,400 inmates.

Checking on China now and a massive evacuation is underway; nearly 1 million people trying to flee from the path of an approaching typhoon. It's headed towards South Eastern after unleashing torrential rains. Just look at some of this in Taiwan.

And we wanted to show you this; that building there perched right there on the river bank as it toppled over and the island has seen the worst flooding in 50 years. At least one person was killed in Taiwan and more than two dozen others missing.

Let's get you over to Reynolds Wolf in the Weather Center. Reynolds, I know you that have been watching not only this, but there has been a report of an earthquake in Japan.


NGUYEN: Quite a large one, at that.

WOLF: Absolutely, 7.1, it was off the coast of Japan, just southwest of Tokyo; great news that there's no sign of a tsunami. Not unusual in that part of the world to get those kind of issues. But I'll tell you what, it's been rough in that part of the Pacific; dealing with typhoons, the earthquakes and even a tornado here at home.

In fact, last night in the Twin Cities, we've got some video to show you; some of the aftermath of a possible tornado that struck in the evening hours, the most dangerous time to have a twister of course. And when you can't see with the low visibility, the dark skies, you can have all kinds of damage.

That's a heavily wooded area where this alleged twister took place. They've got damage to deal with today. A lot of people were taking action, taking care of it very quickly. No reports of injuries; that is certainly some great news.

Meantime, we have that threat of severe weather again today, a slight risk that's going to take place, possibly in parts of the northeast where this morning we've seen some scattered showers that are popping up in areas like Philadelphia -- let me enlarge this for you.

You're going to notice on radar, some areas we happen to see red and some orange. That's your heaviest rainfall now moving just south of Philadelphia this time, near (INAUDIBLE). Now, in spots like Allentown, you're going to be in clear for the bit. But if you look a little bit farther back to the west, we're seeing more development, a few scattered showers, possibly the eruption of more thunderstorms.

So we could see in some areas with poor drainage, the ground's already saturated, you might have some runoff and with that there's the potential of flash flooding. Stay advised.

And that's not going to be the only area where we could see this occur. There's a good chance you can see this happen just near the Lake Lakes, possibly back into New York state, even back into the Corn Belt. And I'll tell you, in the front range of the Rockies this afternoon we could see the development of some large hail. It could be a very active day for you weather wise.

Farther to the south, not much to see, but plenty to feel; we're talking about the heat and humidity. For the Texas coastline, clear back over to spots like the Appalachi (INAUDIBLE) Bay, even as far south as the Florida Keys for high temperatures in the spots like Miami are going up into the 90s, 90 degrees for Miami; Tampa with 94.

You know how it is in central Florida, right along the I-4 corridor, even with temperatures into the 90s, temperatures are one thing, the humidity's going to make it feel like it's triple digits. The same can be said for Dallas, 106 in phoenix, 85 in Minneapolis. That's a wrap on your forecast.

* Let's send it back to you at the Newsroom. * NGUYEN: And it's feeling like summer.

WOFL: Yes, it certainly is.

NGUYEN: Ok. Thank you, Reynolds.

You've got to see this story. They are the children of war. A holy war and they are being trained to kill.

MARCIANO: CNN's Christiane Amanpour looks at the youngest generation of suicide bombers; their stories in their own words.


NGUYEN: They are children first, suicide bombers later, and somewhere in between, strong religious beliefs come into play. Some Pakistani madrasas have become a feeding ground for the next generation of Taliban suicide bombers.

So, how does it work? How does the recruiting begin? Well, Christiane Amanpour answers those questions this morning as our focus turns to religion and a special "Faces of Faith" investigation.


CHRISTIANE AMANPOUR, CNN CHIEF INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: "You will find my body in little pieces," sings one young boy in this Taliban propaganda video. It's targeting children, celebrating suicide.

The Taliban recruits its young martyrs from madrases on the Pakistan-Afghan border. Shaqi Rullah (ph) was one of them.

SHAQI RULLAH, TALIBAN RECRUIT: My dad was teaching me a couple pages of the Quoran then he couldn't do it and he sent me to a madrasa.

AMANPOUR: His father sent him to a madrasa when he was just 10 years old for a free education, but they didn't realize what else lay in store for him.

RULLAH: I was studying in the Madrasa when I finished reciting. The mullah told me I should go commit a suicide attack. When I said, "No, I am not going, he forced me."

AMANPOUR: When he was 14, Shaqi Rullah was smuggled into Afghanistan through an underground network by people he had never met to a destination he didn't know.

RULLAH: I still don't know what type of suicide attack they had planned for me. I still don't know whether God says it was good or bad.

AMANPOUR: the Afghan police arrested him before he could complete his mission and now sitting in an Afghan jail he wonders if he'll ever see his family again.

RULLAH: I miss my mom and dad.

EBOO PATEL, WHITE HOUSE ADVISER ON MUSLIM YOUTH: I think in some ways we have forfeited the terrain of the al Qaedas of the world who are messaging to those young people in sharp and direct ways.

AMANPOUR: Eboo Patel (ph), a Muslim who grew up in America feeling like an outsider understands the path to extremism. He's now a White House adviser on Muslim youth.

PATEL: It's not a question of them being ideologically attracted to the message of extremism; it's simply a question of that's where the jobs are, that's where the school is, that's where the free lunch program is.

I think that one of the central issues of the 21st century is that we will rise or fall on them rising or falling.


NGUYEN: And you just saw Eboo Patel profiled in that report, he is a White House adviser on the Muslim religion, also an author, and works with young people from various religious backgrounds to help them serve others.

Eboo, we want to thank you for joining us live from Chicago this morning. Let's get to the root of this. Why, exactly, is the Taliban targeting children to become suicide bombers? Why so young?

PATEL: The Taliban sees these kids as the embodiment of hate; sees these kids as bombs of destruction. I see these kids as the embodiment of hope. I see these kids as the bridges of cooperation. I think that we need to look at these young people as the future doctors, scientists, and poets.

And we have to make sure that we're competing against the Taliban for their hearts and minds. Too often a Taliban school is the only school in town, or the health clinic in town and parents feel effectively forced to send their kids there. But that doesn't have to be the case.

NGUYEN: Let me ask you this, do those parents know when they send their children there that they're essentially handing them over to the Taliban?

PATEL: Well, I think very often parents don't understand that and they certainly don't understand the full extent of that. The Taliban also forces a lot of these kids to be involved.

We're not talking about religion here, we're talking about a sick group of people who are injecting their poison into young children.

NGUYEN: What kind of tactics are they using?

PATEL: Well, they use the tactics of force; they use the tactics of being the only institution in town. The thing here is that there are tactics we can be using. Those of us who believe in a world where people are coming together to build understanding and cooperation, we can build schools, we can build health clinics, we can build religious education programs that taught me what my parents and educators taught me, which is the Quoran and Islam is a religion of peace and understanding and cooperation.

NGUYEN: But if the Taliban has the only school in that particular area, do these children really have much of a choice? And what kind of impact does it have on a child when they're essentially sent to strangers and then told you're going to go and do this, but you're going to do this in the name of religion?

PATEL: Betty, the challenge of the 21st century is going to be giving these children a choice. And given a choice, they would want to be doctors, they would want to be scientists, they would want to be poets, they would want to believe in Islam as a religion message of peace and cooperation. We cannot forfeit these children to the Talibans of the world. That's exactly the point.

We need to be giving these young people an alternative path so they can be the embodiment of hope. That's what organizations like my group, the Interfaith Youth Corps are all about. That's what Greg Mortenson schools are about. We need to invest in those organizations, invest in these kids in a greater way than the Taliban is.

NGUYEN: Eboo, that sounds great. But let me ask you that. In reality, how many of these schools that you talk about, these alternatives are actually in place for these children?

PATEL: Betty, we can build more and we have to build more, and that's what, I think, that the early part of the 21st century is going to be about. Are we building institutions to help make young people around the world the embodiment of hope or are we forfeiting them to the sources that seek them to be the embodiment of hate?

I think it's that simple and I think unfortunately sometimes the people on the other side are winning just because they're investing more, but that doesn't have to be the case.

NGUYEN: All right. Eboo Patel, executive director of Interfaith Youth Corps. We really do appreciate your insight today. Thanks for joining us.

PATEL: Thanks Betty. Good to be with you.


It is CNN's revealing investigation into the heart of a generation at the cross roads. Christiane Amanpour reveals the struggle for hearts and minds of the next generation of Muslims and how what happens in Gaza and Afghanistan impacts all of us. That is Thursday night 8:00 Eastern only on CNN.

And back here, we want to talk about those town hall meetings because they're normally used for forums, civilized discussions.

MARCIANO: Conversations between you and your Congressmen.

NGUYEN: Exactly.

MARCIANO: Sometimes they get out of control; at least they have been lately.

NGUYEN: Kind of not business as usual lately.

MARCIANO: From Florida to Texas, Michigan to Missouri, passions are running high, tempers are flaring, and the spirit of debates rage about health care reform.


MARCIANO: Well, Congress is on its recess, but voters are on the offensive. And August is shaping up to be a make or break month for health care reform.

In Arizona, protestors railed against the measure outside the office of Democratic Congressman Harry Mitchell. They say the reforms are too costly and too intrusive.

And reform supporters are also making their voices heard too elsewhere, they clash with opponents in Memphis, Tennessee, yesterday in a town hall meeting with Democratic Congressman Steven Cohen -- health care reform wasn't even on the agenda. But in the end, that was all anybody wanted to talk about.


TAJUAN STOUT-MITCHELL, HEALTH CARE REFORM SUPPORTER: I don't think people should be penalized because of pre-existing illnesses. I really don't. I think health care should be a universal right.


MARCIANO: Police had to call in extra help to handle the crowd of about 500 people.

NGUYEN: I want to get you back now to breaking news that we're keeping our eyes on. A powerful earthquake has struck in Japan, some 200 miles southwest of Tokyo to be exact. But the tremors could be felt across other areas around the capital.

CNN international correspondent, Morgan Neill joins us now on the phone from Tokyo. And Morgan, let me ask you. Have you heard anything about casualties or damages that caused because of this earthquake?

MORGAN NEILL, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (via telephone): Well, thankfully at this point, Betty, we're no reports at least thus far of casualties or damages.

But this was as you say a powerful quake. I can tell you I felt it myself here in the apartment building where I am on the 11th floor. The walls shook back and forth, the plates shook, I got under a load- bearing wall.

And just to show you how accustomed the Japanese people are to this sort of thing. As I'm doing this, I look out there are people taking the elevator up and down. Of course, something no one should be doing as this is going on. Nevertheless, Japan's meteorological agency said the quake shook Tokyo as well as nearby prefectures. But importantly they said there is no danger of tsunami from this quake.

NGUYEN: Well, what about aftershocks? Is anything being done to get people out of harm's way should you feel another tremor?

NEILL: No, at this point, we haven't felt any tremors and I can tell you, I've been out on the streets here in the neighborhood where I am, and I can't emphasize enough how much this feels like business as usual here.

Just because Japan is right along one fault line and has another fault line that intersects the country -- and this is something they deal with on a fairly regular basis -- and while the magnitude certainly sounds very, very powerful, this was a good ways away from Tokyo. And so while it shook buildings here, to this point, people are taking it very much in stride.

NGUYEN: All right. International correspondent Morgan Neill joining us live from Tokyo with the latest on the earthquake there. Morgan, thank you.

MARCIANO: Stay with us. We're coming right back.


MARCIANO: Well, it's poor, it's socialist, yet somehow Cuba has a health care system that leads the rest of Latin America.

NGUYEN: But that doesn't necessarily mean the same system would translate to the U.S. Before the break, we heard from Morgan Neill in Japan. He filed this report a little bit earlier looking at what works and what doesn't in Cuba's clinics.


NEILL: Is there a doctor here in Cuba?

When Michael Moore's film "Sicko" came out in 2007, the debate it sparked put Cuba's health care system under the microscope. Cuba supporters gleefully pointed out that the poor island gave its people universal health care, something the United States doesn't do.

Critics charge that conditions in Cuban hospitals are appalling and the Cubans had to pay bribes to get decent care.

How does health care work in Cuba? It's not an easy question to answer. But there are some impressive statistics. According to the World Health Organization, Cuba's life expectancy is 78 years, the same as Chile and Costa Rica and the highest in Latin America. And it's infant mortality rate are the lowest in line with those of Canada.

This clinic in Managua, a community outside Havana, is one of the country's newest and best equipped. It serves a population of some 15,000 people. The director tells us under one roof she has dentists, general practitioners, physical therapy, homeopathic medicines and laboratory that makes vaccines.

Built just five years ago, this clinic is really a symbol of what Cuba wants to do with health care all over the country. The machinery is new, the walls freshly painted -- it's an idea where the country wants to go, the future of its health care.

All of it free of charge. How does Cuba do it? First of all, the government dictates salaries. Doctors earn less than $30 per month, very little compared to doctors elsewhere. And priorities given to avoiding expensive procedures says Gail Reid who has lived and worked in Cuba for decades.

GAIL REID, CO-PRODUCER, "SALUD": They concentrate on prevention, they concentrate on bringing services closer to people's homes so that the big ticket items don't really take up, don't sponge up all of that small budget they have.

NEILL: but Cuba's system certainly has its problems. Many hospitals and emergency rooms are decrepit and even unsanitary. Equipment is frequently old. And patients often supply their own sheets and food while in the hospital. Health officials admit the system isn't perfect, but, they say, no one falls through the cracks.

Morgan Neill, CNN, Havana.


NGUYEN: Very interesting there. And we do appreciate you watching today and, Rob, it's been a pleasure working with you this weekend.

MARCIANO: I enjoyed it, as well. Thanks for having me Betty. And welcome back once again.

NGUYEN: Thank you very much. And at the top of the hour, we have John King with "STATE OF THE UNION."

But first let's get you some now in the news story. Outside of Los Angeles, at least 40 inmates have been hurt in rioting at a California Institution for men in Chino; that violence erupted last night. Flames, as you can see right here in this video, have been seen shooting from one of the prison's buildings. Police and firefighters are on the scene. Now the prison is a medium-security facility that houses about 1,400 inmates.

Also following that crash over the Hudson, there'll be much more on that throughout the day.

But right now we want to take you straight to Washington and "STATE OF THE UNION" with John King.