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CNN Saturday Morning News

Midwest Flooding Disaster Continues; Wildfire in Northern California; June is Deadliest Month for Coalitions in Afghanistan; An Alleged Pregnancy Pact

Aired June 21, 2008 - 07:00   ET


BETTY NGUYEN, CNN ANCHOR: Take a look. It is a state of emergency. People surrounded by water in the Midwest and, right now, parts of the Mississippi River are still rising. Our Reynolds Wolf is live in the flood zone this morning.
T.J. HOLMES, CNN ANCHOR: Meanwhile, a wildfire in northern California forces thousands to leave their homes. You are looking at new video just coming in to CNN.

NGUYEN: Also new this morning, a raid on a nightclub ends with a stampede. Twelve people are dead. Teenagers and police officers are among those killed.

HOLMES: And, an alleged pregnancy pact. Seventeen teenage girls in one Massachusetts high school are pregnant and they may have made an agreement to get pregnant. Just when you think you have heard it all.

NGUYEN: Sixteen and younger.

HOLMES: Yes. We will get into that. It will leave you shaking your head this morning.

Live from the CNN Center in Atlanta, Georgia, we've got a busy day. Good morning to you all. I'm T.J. Holmes.

NGUYEN: Yes, good morning, everybody, on a Saturday, I'm Betty Nguyen. Thanks for starting your day with us.

HOLMES: And we do want to start again though, with that flooding. A lot of the water is still high but we've got some good news. But fears of new flooding, a bit lower in the Midwest today. Levees have been overwhelmed along the Mississippi River. The town of Winfield, Missouri, is swamped, as you could see.

But the water overflowing the levees in some areas actually siphoned off water that would have headed down the Mississippi. Now, many river towns won't see record level flood threats.

NGUYEN: Flood waters are still causing a lot of worry for people. Water topped a levee in St. Charles County, Missouri, yesterday, turning homes into islands. You can see some people, obviously, did not evacuate in time. All those flood waters are now flowing over five Mississippi River levees, in Lincoln County, Missouri, flowing over them. So, since Wednesday, it has flooded some 350 homes and thousands of acres of farmland. The Army Corps of Engineers says that two dozen levees failed across the Midwest and that has forced the evacuation of as many as 40,000 people.

HOLMES: We can tell you that one small Mississippi River town may have escaped the worst of this flooding.

NGUYEN: CNN meteorologist, Reynolds Wolf, joins us now from Old Monroe, Missouri, with that part of the story.

You have been hard at work this week, Reynolds.

REYNOLDS WOLF, CNN METEOROLOGIST: It has been crazy, both literally and figuratively, we've been working hard here. But so are the people in this area, doing what they can to save their homes and save their communities. Take a look at this area. I mean, as far as you can see you can see, you've got some water, what appears to be brown dirt off in the distance is actually corn cobs and just some sticks that is actually (INAUDIBLE) that is just popping up. So, kind of trick your eye a little bit.

Now, way off in the distance, we actually have like the line of trees. That is actually part of some of the levees, this levee system that has begun to actually fall apart. So, a lot of those flood waters have been able to pull their way to where we now stand.

Just to give you an idea of just how deep some of the water is, take a look at the top of this building over here. This is actually 10 feet or so, it's so high the water has gone. But if you look over there, the telephone pole, you can see the water line just since last night, it's dropped let's say about maybe six to seven inches. It's certainly some good news.

You know, moments ago, you were talking about how some of these communities have been in great shape. But right now, our present location, we are about a quarter of a mile north of Old Monroe, which is right down this road. Old Monroe is actually in great shape. And one of the reasons why it's in good shape is because of these levees breaking. And that is one of the weird -- just really odd things that's been happening here. What happens to be misery for one certain community is really beneficial to someone else. That's the way it plays out here on this river.

But let's take a look at some video that we had yesterday. Our photo journalist, Tim Mackucus (ph), was able to take a trip on a boat. And you see some of the video that he had. Wide spread devastation. The water, again, flooding some 300 homes in this particular area. One of the sad things about this was the wildlife. You had deer, you had rabbits, you had all kinds of animals that were trying to seek higher ground, but in many situations, it was to no avail.

So, it's awful as it sounds, it's terrible as it sounds. There are plenty of carcasses, if you will, sorry, I know many of you are having breakfast. Really gross situations and with that, you have to remember with the flood waters, you've got chemicals, you've got fuel, you've got all kinds of sewage, you've got just a tremendous mess. So, even when these flood waters recede, you're going to have all kinds of problems.

One of the things they did to try to alleviate some of the flooding, of course, was by using sandbags. And coming up during the next segment, we're going to show you how some of these sandbags are put together. We're going to take you and just show some videos of sandbagging stations.

Right now, we're going to wrap it up and send it back to you in the studio.

NGUYEN: Yes, when I said you're hard at work there, that's what I saw you doing yesterday, helping move those sandbags to areas that needed them so badly. All right, Reynolds, we're looking forward to that. Thank you.

HOLMES: And, of course, many of you out there are looking at that devastation from a distance, would like to find a way to help. Well, can help you help. We have a special page on the Midwestern flooding. It links to aid agencies, your chance to Impact Your World.

NGUYEN: Now, closer to containment in northern California, firefighters there hope to have a destructive fire under control a little bit later today. Several homes were destroyed in the grass fires south of San Jose. Now, the Red Cross set up an evacuation center for some of the 2,000 people ordered from their homes. Firefighters are getting no help though from the weather.

Temperatures are still in the triple digits. At least they were yesterday. So, let's see where they are today.

Meteorologist Bonnie Schneider is in for Reynolds today. It's going to be another hot one out there for those firefighters?

BONNIE SCHNEIDER, AMS METEOROLOGIST: Definitely. But actually, where the fire is, it's not as hot as it is further to the south. That's where temperatures are going to be soaring today. You can see right now it's still very early in the morning in southern California, already at 74 in Los Angeles. And check this out, 87 currently in Phoenix. And the numbers are going to go up from there.

You can tell by the heat index how hot it's already feeling this hour. The heat index will be soaring today. It's going to be very oppressive and because of that, we have heat advisories in place. Meaning, if you don't have to be outside, stay indoors or find some place that's air-conditioned like a shopping small or a movie theater just to stay safe and drink lots of water if you're outdoors.

118 today? Well, it's possible in and around Death Valley in the desert between San Diego and Phoenix. That's where we're going to see the hottest numbers. But in and around Los Angeles, especially in the valleys, the heat will soar. And that's something we're watching very closely. Why is it so hot? Well, our jet stream is all the way to the north. High pressure is building in the Great Basin and that allows the heat to come up from the south. So we get that hot, dry wind coming in right off of Mexico, rather than a marine flow that would bring it in closest to land. So, we're going to be looking at the heat soaring here.

And another story we're focusing on today, of course, you saw Reynolds reporting from the flood zone, I want to show you the rivers in St. Louis right now crested yesterday. So, slowly receding, but what's interesting to note, Betty and T.J., it's not until the end of this week that the river, the Mississippi River near St. Louis will go back to below moderate flood stage. So, it's a slow process of getting that water down.

NGUYEN: A process and it's all going to be very slow, too, to try to get the water out of those homes and salvage what they can. Thank you, Bonnie.


HOLMES: Well, nearly three million people stranded, at least 54 dead -- all of this because of flooding caused by a monsoon in India. Rescue workers are now struggling to provide relief supplies to all those people. More than five days of near constant rain has triggered landslides and that blocked major highways.

NGUYEN: Well, 12 people have been trampled to death during a police raid on a nightclub in Mexico City. Police say they went to the club to investigate reports of drugs and alcohol being sold to minors celebrating the end of the school year. Well, they say the crowd panicked which triggered a stampede. Among the dead -- two teenagers and three police officers.

HOLMES: So many times we're talking about war zones, we're talking about Iraq, but do you know actually that June has emerged as the deadliest month of the year for U.S.-led coalition forces in Afghanistan? There have been 32 combat deaths of so far there, including 12 Americans.

NGUYEN: And among the casualties are five troops killed today, in two separate roadside bombings, six others were wounded.

CNN senior international correspondent, Nic Robertson, is in Afghanistan. He joins us now live.

Any idea what sparked this uptick in violence, Nic?

NIC ROBERTSON, CNN SR. INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, Betty, traditionally, the summer here is when the Taliban are on their greatest offensive. The winter -- and the bad weather in the winter tends to slow them down. And what we're seeing now is a very high number of attacks.

Today, four soldiers killed in a single roadside bombing in the south of the country. Another soldier died of wounds sustained in a gun battle in the east of the country. We don't know the nationalities of these soldiers yet.

Two soldiers killed yesterday in different instances, different situations in the south of the country. Two U.S. soldiers killed in a gun battle the day before in the south. Two more U.S. soldiers the day before killed by rocket fire in the east. The list goes on. Four British soldiers killed just the day before that in the south. It is an uptick in violence by the Taliban.

And if you look at the statistics, put this in the big picture, if you will, so far, this month as you say, 32 deaths here this month, 29 of them in combat. Compare that to Iraq right now where only, and I say only, of course, these are deaths -- we take these facts and figures very seriously, but 18 U.S. fatalities in Iraq so far this month. The fatalities amongst international troops here in Afghanistan this month, far and above that.

That is new. That is different. And some of it seems to be down to increased activity by the Taliban, probably likely, because of the better summer weather -- Betty.

NGUYEN: Boy, when you do compare it to Iraq, that really does put it in perspective.

All right. Nic Robertson joining us live from Afghanistan. Nic, we do thank you.

HOLMES: All right, and we are on the campaign trail again this morning.

NGUYEN: Here we are. And coming up, strong allegations from Barack Obama saying Republicans will use fear and race as potential tactics in the presidential race.

Plus this...


TED SORENSON, STEPFATHER OF GLOUCESTER TEEN: There's a tremendous amount of peer pressure, negative peer pressure for as many girls as possible to join in this pact.


HOLMES: There is peer pressure in school to drink, to use drugs, but to get pregnant? High school girls allegedly, yes, make a pact to get pregnant. What in the world is going on?


HOLMES: A man convicted of killing his ex-girlfriend's parents was executed late last night. U.S. Supreme Court rejected James Earl Reed's last-ditch appeal. Reed was the first person to die in South Carolina's electric chair since 2004.

NGUYEN: A foot that's found on the British Columbia coast turns out to be a hoax. The fake follows the discovery of five human feet that washed up onshore since August. But this one was an animal paw stuffed in a sock and shoe and police are still investigating the other five real feet.

And take a look at these marks here. Hard to see maybe from the pictures but you can kind of make them out. Well, they have led to the firing of an Ohio high schoolteacher. John Freshwater is the name. He's a science teacher who used that device you saw. It's an electrostatic device to burn temporary crosses on the arms of several students.


KELLY HAMILTON, JOHN FRESHWATER'S ATTORNEY: I want to make it perfectly clear -- those children were not in danger in any shape or form. And, in fact, John Freshwater will tell you in an open forum that he was taught exactly how to use that particular device up on students by another teacher.


HOLMES: The school board ordered to remove that teacher, Mr. Freshwater, but he can still appeal that decision. The teacher was also criticized for refusing to remove a Bible from his desk and teaching creationism.

Well, we will turn to politics now. Busy week -- it's always a busy week in presidential politics. For Republican John McCain, it's about raising some cash.

But for Barack Obama, who did raise a lot of cash, it's about teaming up with his formal rival in the name of party unity. Obama is also raising the race issue in comments at a fundraiser late last night.

Listen to this.


SEN. BARACK OBAMA (D), PRESUMPTIVE PRES. NOMINEE: We know what kind of campaign they're going to run. They're going to try to make you afraid. They're going to try to make you afraid of me.


OBAMA: They're going to say, you know what, "he's young and inexperienced, and he's got a funny name. And did I mention he's black?"


HOLMES: Well, CNN deputy political director, Paul Steinhauser, joins us now from Washington.

Paul, we appreciate you. It's always good to see you. What do we do with this? Everybody is worried that the other side, the Republicans, someone else would interject race into the race but now, it's Barack Obama himself that appears to be interjecting the issue of being a black man running for president into this campaign.

PAUL STEINHAUSER, CNN DEPUTY POLITICAL DIRECTOR: You know, when he brought up some of the comments, T.J., about a week ago in Chicago at another fundraising saying similar stuff, that Republicans, some, will try to portray him and his wife Michelle as scary.

When Obama enter this race 1 1/2 year ago, he said he didn't want his campaign to be all about race. But, of course, it came up, and as we all remember, it came up a lot in the primaries earlier this year. But he never responded by saying his opponents was racist. But that was back when it was Democrat versus Democrat.

And now, it's general election. Democrat versus Republican and maybe it appears the gloves are starting to come off on both sides. But also, what's coming up this week, at least on Democratic side, is an attempt at party unity.


OBAMA: This is going to be a tough general election.

STEINHAUSER (voice-over): Barack Obama talking about the battle ahead with John McCain.

OBAMA: I've got a lot of work to do everywhere.

STEINHAUSER: Part of that work includes teaming up next week with his rival from the primaries, Hillary Clinton. The two senators get together for a fundraiser Thursday here in Washington, and they'll hit the road together on Friday.

This is the first time the two will team up on the campaign trail. Clinton gave up her bid for the White House two weeks ago.

SEN. HILLARY CLINTON (D), FMR. PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I will work my heart out to make sure that Senator Obama is our next president.

STEINHAUSER: She's on board, but not all of her supporters are. And next week's teaming up could help unite a party that's still healing from those bitter primary battles.

SEN. JOHN MCCAIN, (R) PRESUMPTIVE PRES. NOMINEE: I think we have a great challenge in this campaign.

STEINHAUSER: And for John McCain, one of those challenges is to raise some big bucks. He trails Obama in the fight for campaign cash. Next week, he's holding fundraisers from California to Ohio. The senator from Arizona realizes the tough work ahead.

MCCAIN: I know I have to outcampaign my opponent in every respect, and so, I do not underestimate. I consider myself an underdog.

(END VIDEOTAPE) STEINHAUSER: And our newest CNN Poll of Polls shows that he is an underdog. Barack Obama is up by six points over John McCain in our new CNN Poll of Polls that came out last night. Remember, this averages the latest surveys nationwide. This new poll reflects a "Newsweek" survey that came out last night that had Obama up by 15 points. When you average them all together, it's a six-point lead for Obama.

Remember, T.J., polls are a snapshot of what's going on right now and right now is a long way away from November 4th.

HOLMES: Yes. And right now, he considers himself an underdog, but that's just in a poll. Maybe he is a severe underdog in the money race. Barack Obama is announcing that, I believe, in June, $20 million something plus that he raised. How is John McCain doing in the fundraising? Can he, at all, compete with Barack Obama in that respect?

STEINHAUSER: Yes, you know, it's interesting. We got the numbers out last night for May, which was -- and Obama raised $22 million in May. McCain raised $21 million in May. So, they were pretty competitive. Remember though, McCain was just looking ahead in May to the general election. Obama was still battling Hillary Clinton in the primaries.

Overall, Obama's got about $40 million cash on hand that he can spend; McCain about $10 million behind. But Obama is known as a heck of a fundraiser and, I think, he can definitely pull ahead pretty quickly.

HOLMES: All right. Paul Steinhauser, always good to see you -- from Washington this morning. We'll see you again soon.


HOLMES: And folks, tonight is your chance to get caught up on the latest developments in the presidential race. You can watch "THIS WEEK IN POLITICS" with Tom Foremen at 6:00 Eastern, only right here on CNN.

NGUYEN: All right. T.J., now, no reasonable person would suggest that teenagers getting pregnant is a good idea. But, at one high school, administrators think a group of girls may have made a secret pact to have babies? The story that will have you talking.


NGUYEN: All right. You sitting down because we have an outrageous story for you today and people are definitely talking about it. Here it goes -- the one thing that people are saying over and over about this story is -- what were they thinking?

HOLMES: Yes, teenagers can do some pretty stupid stuff sometimes.

NGUYEN: But, wow. HOLMES: But, wow on this one. This story we're talking about is about a group of teenage girls in Gloucester, Massachusetts.

Our Randi Kaye reports here. These teenagers may have talked each other into getting pregnant.


RANDI KAYE, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): High school is hard enough, so why would a group of girls from Gloucester, Massachusetts, a fishing village outside Boston, choose to get pregnant? In all, 17 girls are having babies, some as young as 15. Not one of them is married.


KAYE: High school administrators are reeling after learning there may have been some sort of pregnancy pact. Even more shocking, the superintendent believes, at least one girl had sex with a 24-year- old homeless man just to be part of the group. The pact is so secretive, we couldn't even find out the girls' names.

This man told us the girls tried to convince his stepdaughter to get pregnant, too.

TED SORENSON, STEPFATHER OF GLOUCESTER TEEN: There was a tremendous amount of peer pressure, negative peer pressure, for as many girls as possible to join in this pact. And luckily, my stepdaughter was smart enough or scared enough to say no.

KAYE (on-camera): School officials first began to take notice last October when so many girls started showing up at the nurse's office to find out if they were pregnant. The nurse reportedly gave as many as 150 pregnancy tests. The superintendent says the girls went back over and over until they got the results they wanted.

FARMER: Some girls did high fives and that kind of thing.

KAYE (voice-over): Amanda Ireland who just graduated from Gloucester High had a baby her freshman year. She knows one of the girls and the alleged pregnancy pact.

AMANDA IRELAND, GLOUCESTER H.S. GRADUATE: I asked her if she was keeping the baby, and she said, "Yes."

KAYE: The superintendent says a handful of the girls have already delivered. Ireland can't understand why anyone would choose to get pregnant so young.

IRELAND: It's definitely not all cookies and creams (ph).

KAYE: The superintendent says the men who fathered the children are not students. They're older, in their 20s. If the girls agree to name them, he says, they could face statutory rape charges. And there's more -- the school's doctor has resigned after coming under fire for handing out contraceptives. It's against district policy.

DR. BRIAN ORR, CLINIC'S MEDICAL DIRECTOR: We were on our way to try and do things that any parent, any adult, any community would want, decreasing the initiation of having sex and decreasing the number of sexual partners.

KAYE: Also, sex education is only taught freshman year.

(on-camera): Why isn't it offered beyond that?

FARMER: Well, we are very poorly funded by the state of Massachusetts.

KAYE (voice-over): Plus, with the economy so weak here and parents scrambling to make money, this mother of five says children may not be getting enough attention at home.

SHEILA HORGAN, GLOUCESTER RESIDENT: I think parents are so busy trying to make money to survive, that in this economy, that they're not focused on their children.

KAYE: Others blame Hollywood movies like "Juno" that glamorized teen pregnancy.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You're pregnant?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I'm sorry. I'm sorry. And if it is any consolation, I have heartburn that is radiating in my kneecaps and...

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I didn't even know you were sexually active.


HORGAN: Everyone is (ph) there their whole lives, it affects these children. Who's going to take care of these children? You know, who is going to be responsible for these children for the rest of their lives?

KAYE: It's a question many here wish the girls in the pregnancy pact had asked themselves nine months ago.

Randy Kaye, CNN, Gloucester, Massachusetts.


NGUYEN: I'm just floored by it. Especially, the report that one teenager actually went to a homeless guy.

HOLMES: A homeless 24-year-old man. It's confusing. It makes you shake your head, but still, it's sad, nonetheless, what in the world is going on these days?

NGUYEN: I have no idea. HOLMES: All right. Well, we will move on and talk more about the flooding. And what's the best way to prepare for a flood actually. How much does insurance really cover? We're going to talk about that right after the break.

NGUYEN: And Reynolds Wolf is in the middle, speaking of flood, that flood zone there in Missouri.

Reynolds, another tough day ahead, I'd imagine.

WOLF: No question, Betty. In some places on the Mississippi River, the water continues to rise. In another places, it's dropping.

Coming up, we're going to show what's happening here in Old Monroe, Missouri. That's right here on CNN SATURDAY MORNING. Talk to you soon.


HOLMES: Happening right now -- mandatory evacuations happening in northern California. Hundreds of people or thousands of people, actually, are forced to run from their homes because of what you're seeing there -- a wildfire. We'll be talking more about that this morning.

Good morning to you all, once again. I'm T.J. Holmes.

NGUYEN: Yes, good morning, everybody. I'm Betty Nguyen. We do want to thank you for starting your day with us.

First up though, when it comes to the Mississippi River flooding, one town's curse is another's blessing. Levees have topped up river and they diverted water which has eased fears farther south. Town of Old Monroe, Missouri, is also had some flooding still. And our Reynolds Wolf is there.

But, Reynolds, I understand that things could have been much worse.

WOLF: They really could have. I mean, it was the possibility. In fact, last night, we were thinking a good part of downtown Old Monroe would be under water. But that certainly wasn't the case. Thankfully, conditions are fairly good. I mean, they got these railroad tracks, you can see water on either side. Normally water would be way off, in fact, nearly a mile away further off to the east. But still, you see the water coming in, you see the tops of these buildings. In some places, the water is as deep as 10 feet.

But, off in the distance we have those levees. The levees, of course, the water passed over them, have run over (ph) them in many situations and that's what caused this water to pile out.

But, Betty, you really nailed it. You were talking about how in some places, one area's misfortune is really to the benefit of another spot -- back to you.

NGUYEN: OK. So, what's actually being done to keep those levees from breaching in other areas so that this doesn't continue to happen?

WOLF: Well, the number one thing we've been using is the time and tested sandbags. I mean, basically getting these bags, they fill them up with roughly 20 to 30 pounds of just sand or dirt. And they've been using those to re-enforce these berms.

Keep in mind, a lot of these levees were built back in the 1950s, 1970s; some of these reconstructed into the 1990s. And it's kind of like a bunch of walls protecting -- it's like a fortress protecting like a kingdom, if you will. Some of the walls began to break, but certainly, of course, other places they benefited from it, like say in this downtown area here. But other places have been inundated with flood waters. This is a floodplain, so that is certainly due to happen from time to time.

NGUYEN: And as we look at this video, Reynolds, obviously, it takes a whole lot of manpower to fill those bags, to put those bags in place. And, in fact, you got in on the action yesterday as well, didn't you?

WOLF: I certainly did. But you know, even despite that hard work that we had so many people doing, you didn't hear anybody -- no one complained. Everybody was really in a good mood. Even people who have lost, a lot of property, lost homes, they're out there doing the very best they possibly could for their neighbors. It was certainly no whining whatsoever.

Really blown away by the spirit of the people, the generosity they have with their time, with their effort, with their works here in the Midwest. It is truly a beautiful thing to see.

NGUYEN: You know, you're so right about that.

WOLF: Interesting side note for you, Betty. Yes, take a look at this. One thing we've seen here with this flood, all kinds of weird little animals. Like take a look at this frog, this teeny tiny frog that came over near our shot, a bunch of these. These little weirdoes, they're hundreds of them all around this spot, all coming up here. Normally, they wouldn't be here by these train tracks.

But with the Mississippi's flooding right up here to this point, they're everywhere, and kind of weird to see. Look at that dude. He has no idea that millions of people are watching him at home. But they don't have frogs.

NGUYEN: And that he's crawling up your arm there.

WOLF: Absolutely.

NGUYEN: OK, Reynolds. Well, be safe out there. And it's a great thing helping folks in need. And like you mentioned, I mean, when you see a tragedy like this, it really does bring out the power of human kindness and I love seeing that, despite all the devastation. Thanks, Reynolds.

WOLF: You bet. HOLMES: All right. And once those flood waters finally do recede, thousands of people will be getting that long difficult process of recovering. A lot of people wondering -- do I even have flood insurance, do I have enough flood insurance, what do I do if I don't have it.

Well, I recently spoke with Jeanne Salvatore, senior vice president for public affairs at the Insurance Information Institute. Here's her advice on what flood victims need to do next.


HOLMES: People there in the Midwest, certainly just got hit and got hit hard with all these flooding. What do you do? You wake up, your home is flooded. So much of your home and so much of your items are destroyed. You don't have flood insurance. What are your options?

JEANNE SALVATORE, SR. VP. INSURANCE INFORMATION INST.: Well, it's very important that the first thing you do is to substantiate the financial value of that loss. This way you can apply either for some sort of aid package or a loan. But, also, you can have a conversation with your accountant to see whether or not you're going to qualify for an unreimbursed insurance loss.

HOLMES: Now, how do you go about that? The federal government is certainly going to be helping out. But, I guess, how do you make sure that you qualify for some of that federal help?

SALVATORE: Well, you should get in touch with your local authorities immediately. But it is really important that you get organized and you do document what your financial losses. It's very important because after a disaster like this, it's emotional, and there are certain things unfortunately that can't be replaced, you know, family keepsakes and things like that, but other things have a financial value.

So, what you want to do is to document that and then see what types of loans are going to be available to you.

HOLMES: Now, and a lot of people, I guess, I mean, we're all guilty of this. No matter what insurance policy, if it's car, if it's home, and whatever it is, we don't look at a lot of the fine print. So, some people may think I have home insurance so I'm covered for a flood. And that's not necessarily the case.

SALVATORE: Well, you know, there's no fine print here. Standard home owners and renters' policies do not cover flooding. To be covered for a flood, you need to purchase federal flood insurance. And it's very easy to get. You call the same agent who sells you your home or renters insurance policy because renters can get flood insurance, too. You can get a policy and it will cover both the structure of the building as well as your personal possessions.

HOLMES: And, will people -- go ahead. SALVATORE: Well, I was going to say, also, increasingly, private insurance is also covering what they called excess flood insurance. So that if you have a very expensive home and a lot of expensive items, you can buy insurance over and above what is offered by the federal government. So, there's a lot of options out there.

HOLMES: Many people living on, I mean, who would know just how much at risk your home is of flooding. How do you go about finding out if you're in a high risk or low risk area?

SALVATORE: Well, actually, you should talk to your agent. They can help you with that. But, also, FEMA, the Federal Emergency Management Agency, there is a Web site called that has all kinds of information. In fact, you can actually put in your address and you could find out what the risk of flooding is and how much of flood insurance policy will cost.

So, there's a lot of information out there. And it's a real cautionary tale for other people who don't -- who are lucky enough to not have the flooding; they should call their agent because there is a 30-day waiting period, so you don't want to hold off purchasing flood insurance.

HOLMES: And like you said here, a cautionary tale. Many people still don't buy that, buy that flood insurance. I guess, there's never really a time you would recommend for someone, "You're OK to go without it," huh?

SALVATORE: You know what? Everybody should really look at it because everybody's house is in a different location. Every situation is different. But I would say everybody should make that call, find out what their risk is, and seriously consider purchasing it. Most people should get it.

HOLMES: Well, unfortunately, it takes maybe a disaster to get this on the front page and get everybody thinking about it. But maybe a lot of people will be thinking about it.

SALVATORE: I hope so.

HOLMES: And this will help some folks out.

Ms. Salvatore, ma'am, thank you so much for your time. It's a good information.

SALVATORE: Thank you.


NGUYEN: Well, they're closer to containment in northern California. Firefighters hope to have a destructive fire under control a little bit later today. Several homes were destroyed in a grassfire south of San Jose. And the Red Cross has set up an evacuation center for some of the 2,000 people order from their homes. We're going to get you a live update from the front lines. That's a little bit later this morning. HOLMES: Well, you don't have to be a golf fan to watch golf when Tiger Woods is playing. People just watched and a lot of those people might not watch the rest of the year. The man is out. A knee injury has Tiger Woods done for the season. But it's not just golf fans who're going to be suffering here.

NGUYEN: It's true. Our buddy, Rick Horrow, is going to break it all down for us and he is coming up live.

Good morning.

RICK HORROW, CNN SPORTS BUSINESS ANALYST: Good morning. I'm working, all right? I'm just working.



HOLMES: All right. Golf, worst-case scenario: A season without Tiger Woods. The world's most popular player is out with a knee injury after a heroic win in his final tournament -- that was the U.S. Open.

Our guy, sports business analyst, Rick Horrow, joins us this morning from Orlando, Florida.

Sir, good to see you. This certainly adds to the legend of Tiger Woods. After we saw him win in that heroic fashion, but to find out the man was on a broken leg and a bad knee.

HORROW: In tribute to him, I played yesterday and limped around and I missed some putts.

HOLMES: That was your tribute? You limped...

HORROW: Yes, that was my tribute. And I lamented like everybody else the fact that this is going to be a watershed turning point for the tour. You know, "tigerization" was really important when he entered 11 years ago, T.J., remember, there were nine millionaires; just last year, there were 78.

And the bottom line is -- what happens now that the media and everybody built up golf and Tiger, brings in five million new golfers. And now what is everybody to do? If the industry is strong enough, they're going to survive and then thrive when he comes back. That's my take.

HOLMES: OK, survive. But how much of a hit is ratings-wise, at least, is PGA going to take because, I mean, I'm I'm one? I mean, I enjoy golf. But unless he is playing on Saturday and Sunday and has a chance of winning it, I'm not tuning in.

HORROW: You know who's leading the Travelers Championship in Hartford, Connecticut?

HOLMES: I haven't a clue. HORROW: Right, exactly. And kind of I really don't either. Although the bottom line is, look, here's the thing -- it's a deal where Tiger is very important, 50 percent decrease in ratings when Tiger doesn't play. That's when these people know he's going to come back.

Now, we have majors coming to left and people don't know what's going to happen as far as the industry is concerned. We know that the published reports say that Nike may lose about $70 million in exposure and Buick maybe $10 million and Gatorade maybe $2 million.

And even at the different level, by the way, you have a contest, 80,000 people entered a "have Tiger caddie for you" at next year's Buick open contest last week. That may not happen. And by the way, Nike is already thinking about some say the comeback ads. How prolific they're going to be.

HOLMES: Wow. Tiger Woods is the golf. No question about it right now. It's sad to see him go out, but man, that was something to watch and win that tournament when you hear he was on a bad knee and, again, a broken leg. That's something else.

We will turn to basketball right quick here. This was supposed to be the dream match-up, Celtics and Lakers, the old rivalry that everybody wanted to see with new faces, of course. But it turned out that being kind of a dud of a series. But, still, how does this still rate for the NBA?

HORROW: Well, speaking of basketball, I like to see how you would do your jump shot with a bad knee and broken leg in two places. That's for another day. As far as basketball is concerned, the ratings were 50 percent higher for the series than last year's, Cleveland/San Antonio one. But people expected a whole lot more, especially that last blowout game against the Lakers with the Celtics.

Look, the two glory teams played in the finals. The NBA is about a $7 billion business. It looks pretty good but they've got some issues with the Donahue scandal and the referee-fixing, so to speak, and trial of Seattle and Oklahoma City which, of course, is a big deal as well.

HOLMES: That's going on as well. But, man, Boston, I guess people are kind of getting tired of all of these Boston teams winning. It's getting a little old. You've got the Red Sox, you've got Celtics...

HORROW: Listen, hey.

HOLMES: ... Patriots, da-da-da (ph). It's getting a little old.

HORROW: Be very careful. Boston is one of your bellwether cities as far as CNN is concerned. So, you just better suck it up and enjoy the fact that the Celtics and Patriots -- oh, the Patriots lost this year, that's right, I forgot.

HOLMES: Well, we're cheering for the Hawks and the Falcons down here, and the Braves as well. And my jump shot...

HORROW: Hey, cheer on.

HOLMES: ... on two good legs, it's pretty good, by the way. All right.

HORROW: Yes, I understand.

HOLMES: Rick, good to see you, I think. We'll see you next time.

HORROW: Next week, yes.

NGUYEN: And by the way, we do love the people of Boston. I'd just want to put that on the record.

HOLMES: I'm just saying, they've just been winning a lot. It's getting old.

NGUYEN: They have. We want to see some new blood in there, gotcha.

So, you know, when news breaks we're hoping (ph) to get frontline photos from you, our viewers. And Josh Levs has been watching what people have been sending in especially from the flood zones.

What have you found?

JOSH LEVS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, you know, Betty, imagine being stuck in a flood zone when the water starts to enter your house. What do you do? An i-Reporter's answer is coming right up.


NGUYEN: Well, many flood victims have been telling us their stories with photos and videos. And Josh Levs has one set of pictures that actually capture the flood as it happened.

Hey, Josh.

LEVS: Hey, good morning to you guys. That's what I really like about the ones I'm going to show you right now is that they're chronological. They came to us via system which is right behind me. And let's go straight to them.

These come from Vivian Knoble. Now, this is in Lake Koshkonong which is in southern Wisconsin. And what she shows us here, as you can tell, she's boarding up her house because she wants to prevent the water from coming in. But as we scroll through these photos, what you're going to see, there you go, you can see the water start to arrive. It's getting close to where the windows are. Then, as we keep going, you're going to see it getting higher and higher and higher.

She tells me the water has now pretty much destroyed her entire basement and could be filling up the house. So, they keep using the sump pump to try to push the water back out, right? But all it does is push it back out into the river which leaves the exact same amount of water outside of their house which just gushes right back in.

So, what they're trying to do is figure out a way to get through this until it starts to disappear. And that is actually right near their house. And usually, you can see a long trunk -- she says that's just about the upper half of that tree.

Let's also go to her video that she sent us here, which shows the attempt to drive around throughout this town Lake Koshkonong is in unincorporated Jefferson County. She tells me 21 years she's lived there; there's never been any flooding at all, not even slightly. And now, they can't even get around. So, the big question now is, she has no access to gasoline, and she's having trouble getting all the food she needs because, look, you can barely get around town. They are waiting and hoping for the water to go away.

You can read much more about her dramatic story at And you can see right there what people in these areas, especially these small towns, Betty, are really struggling with throughout these days. Some really strong photos there.

Before I go, I want to show you all some things we have at right behind me. Let's close up on this if we can, because I'd like to show you the ground view like we just did. Now, I want to show you the aerial view that we have up at from one of our own photo journalists.

This is from Quincy, Illinois. And as we go through this, what you're going to see is an entire neighborhood that's washed out. Everything that's dark to you in the photo is water and it's not supposed to be there at all. You're looking at what are supposed to be streets, neighborhoods, parks. Again, that's all water. That's not supposed to be any of it.

You're not seeing their parking garages, you're not seeing their roads, their driveways, all you're seeing are water. So, there you go, you've got the bird's eye views and you've also got the views right there from the ground from the i-Reports.

Now, as you know, you can send us your photos, your videos. We'd love to hear from you. It's in Send us your stories. It's always be safe when you do that. We vet these things first, we don't show any on the air. Everything people have gone to any danger in taking these pictures.

So, that's what people are struggling with right now, but the real question for the day -- will they get any relief. And for that, we're going to go to our Bonnie Schneider.

Bonnie, in the flood zone, any good news for these people today?

SCHNEIDER: Yes, but it's going to take a while. We are starting to see some of the rivers crest. For example, in St. Louis, the river crested yesterday. So, the slow recede is happening, but it's going to take a while. There's a lot of water and not that much room for it to travel.

So you even see some bumps in here. That has to do with the bubbles of water that come through. Remember all the levee breaks that we were talking about earlier. You can see them here in the white dots north of St. Louis, for example, that's kind of changed the flow, the normal flow of the Mississippi River. Some of the water is spilling out to the side.

So, we will see that fluctuation in terms of pressing, but, for example, if you look toward St. Louis, the flooding is actually in the forecast moderately through Friday. So, it's going to take a while for the cresting to occur and then, of course, the actual receding of the flood waters.

Well, you know, that's not the only story that we are following here in the CNN weather center. Just waking up this morning in California, it is hot out there. Temperatures as far north as San Jose will likely climb to 100 degrees, especially in inland areas. So, what doesn't feel too bad at this early hour of the morning, most of the heat index is in the 70s. Notice, Phoenix is already feeling like it's 83 degrees.

We can see in some of the desert areas, temperatures soaring up to 118 degrees. Over the past couple of days, we've had records shattered due to this incredible heat. The atmosphere is setting itself up for a more heat with the jet stream wades to the north and high pressure right here. The winds wrap around clockwise around the high. That takes the wind right off the land. So, it doesn't have that nice ocean influence when we get a cooler breeze.

So, that's why, Betty and T.J., we'll be seeing temperatures, widespread temperatures above 100. And even to folks in the southwest, this is abnormally hot.

HOLMES: Abnormally high, 100 plus degrees.

NGUYEN: Yes, I'd say so.

HOLMES: Bonnie, we appreciate it. We will see you again here shortly.

And we will have more from the flood zone coming your way at the top of the hour.

NGUYEN: Yes. CNN meteorologist, Reynolds Wolf, is live in Lincoln County, Missouri, out in the water. He will be joining us.

Hey, Reynolds.

WOLF: That's right. This is Old Monroe, Missouri. Take a look at it. Where the Mississippi River, of course, escaped the banks, is now moving inland in many places. The water is rising in some spots, dropping in others, and leaving a mess everywhere. We'll bring you the latest coming up.

NGUYEN: But next, beating the odds in a cheating success. High school students in foster care are getting their diplomas despite major obstacles.


HOLMES: Of course, we know high school can be tough enough on kids, but it can take a lot of extra effort for a child who is in foster care to earn a diploma. Well, help is available from some adults who think that failure is certainly not an option for these kids.


HOLMES (voice-over): Graduation scenes like this take place all across the country this time of year but some kids never get to this point. Many that don't make it across the stage are foster kids growing up in the custody of the state.

EBONY HARRIS, DIR. GA. DHR INDEP. LIVING PROG.: They move a lot. They may change schools. They may go from a different city. They may also go from living with their siblings to not living with their siblings, not visiting their families, to be unable to visit their families. They deal with a lot of stress and trauma that most youth don't have to be involved in.

HOLMES: A group called The Celebration of Excellence has been giving extra dose of applause and encouragement to foster youth in Georgia who are receiving their GEDs, diplomas, and college degrees.

CHANDA FLOYD-BRYANT, PROG. DIR.. CELEBRATION OF EXCELLENCE: Celebration of Excellence is pretty much a big graduation ceremony, kind of like the academic achievement of youth and foster kids, and for these youth to be able to overcome their obstacles in areas they have been facing, that they have been faced with throughout their lives. For them to get to this point, is really exciting and it should be acknowledged.

HOLMES: Sasha is one student who knew the obstacles and barriers all too well; facing a variety of challenges during her senior year, she began to struggle and wondered if she'd be able to get to the finish line.

SASHA WOOLF, HIGH SCHOOL GRADUATE: I'd just wanted to give up, honestly. But I had counselors, you know, people in my life, actually, you know, kept me going, don't give up. And I was so close.

HOLMES: But the vision of success that she set for herself kept her going.

WOOLF: I saw something different. You know, success, that's what I always saw. So, regardless of what I had been through or, you know, the challenges I have faced, whether it was in school or, you know, the group homes that I've been to, the foster homes, that desire and that drive to, you know, to achieve is what kept me.

HOLMES: She began writing poetry, using words on paper to express her feelings. That led her to spoken word poetry, a way of articulating the feelings. WOOLF: Anybody can write anything down. You know, somebody else can interpret it and read how they want to. But as far as, when I get on stage and I'll, you know, speak it and tell how I feel, it gives people a different view, you know, in a different way to look at life and see how things can, you know, can be.

HOLMES: Sasha speaks to other foster youth who may be dealing with the same issues, but she can now speak with a voice of experience.

WOOLF: Never give up. You know, have a dream, stay focused, and don't let, you know, nobody tell you, you know, deter that, or tell you, you can't do this because of what, you know, what you've been through.


HOLMES: We've got flooding, we've got fire. First on the left there, you're seeing more of the Midwest, overwhelmed as the levees there have been overwhelmed by water. Homes surrounded by the water as you can see. And in California, on the right of your screen there, homes are being destroyed by a wildfire. Triple digit temperatures are not helping the firefighters one bit.

NGUYEN: No, plus, a battle is brewing over this device. Where it go?

HOLMES: Here you go.

NGUYEN: You took it.

HOLMES: Always, yes.

NGUYEN: The BlackBerry. Most folks have it, right? A lot of us connected to it at all times. So, should employees be paid for responding to e-mails on their BlackBerry after work hours? I know we do a lot of that.

HOLMES: We've got fact check (ph) coming.

NGUYEN: We've got to rack up some cash. Well, this story is getting a lot of buzz especially in our newsroom. And I know you'll be talking about it as well.

Good morning, everybody. From the CNN Center in Atlanta, I'm Betty Nguyen.

HOLMES: And hey, there. I'm T.J. Holmes. We're glad you could start your day here with us.

We will start with that destructive wildfire that's burning homes in northern California. Some of the newest video we're getting in we're bringing to you right now. Firefighters, we can report good news here, they are, in fact, getting the upper hand now. But around, 1,000 acres have been burned already. Up to 2,000 people had to get out of there, had to evacuate. Containment expected to come sometime today. Hoping to take you there live a little later in our show. Again, some 2,000 people had to be evacuated.

We know that, in fact, some homes have been burned. We don't have the number of how many have been burned. But some homes, several structures, is the word that we are getting. Fifty percent containment, it's still a 500-acre fire as we've been told right now, no cause of this fire. We know just yet, still a lot of hot, dry conditions out there out west certainly causing problems.

To speak more on that our Bonnie Schneider is over, keeping an eye on things. You got that big screen up now that says heat advisory, but what have the conditions been out there leading up to this fire?

SCHNEIDER: We've had record high temperatures T.J. across much of California for the past two days, so already hot and dry and as you can see, the tinder is right really if a spark hits it to ignite quite quickly. The hot temperatures will actually get going around noon today, noon through 8:00 p.m., there is a heat advisory. The current temperature in Watsonville, California, is about 73 degrees. Winds are fairly light out of the northeast.

But remember, in California when the winds come from the northeast, that's not a good thing. It means they're coming down slope from the mountain. The air heats and compresses and that's when we start to see a little bit more in terms of gusty winds possibly later. But the good news is that particular region is not being classified as extremely critical for fire danger because the relative humidity is not quite as low as it could be, so it could a worse situation weather wise.

HOLMES: Be worse, so I guess they should count their blessings at this point, but still a devastating time right now and some homes have been burned. We will keep an eye on this situation, Bonnie. We thank you.

NGUYEN: Now to the flooding in the communities that are not yet in the clear. The residents are feeling a little more hopeful today. Here's why. The Mississippi River isn't going to crest as expected. That's because in some places water from top levees has been diverted. Homes in Oldenburg (ph), Missouri, they are, indeed, under water, but the downtown area may actually have been saved.

Our Reynolds Wolf is there. He joins us now live and last time we saw you, there you are, up to your I guess thighs there in water. That's just the beginning of what we're about to see.

WOLF: Absolutely. You're right, Betty. I'm not going to be a human dipstick for too long. I am going to hop out in just a little bit. But I want to give you a good idea of what is happening here. Take a look over on this side. You see these light poles, this actually part of what used to be a ball field. I guess it still is a ball field, but the only thing rounding third base right now is probably a blue channel catfish. They're not going to be playing there today, no question about it.

But just a week ago, kids were able to play out here. You got some businesses over on this side that are certainly going to be closed for some time to come. The thing is, you got to remember Betty, once this water begins to recede, you're still going to have a tremendous problem all across here in terms of cleanup and of course the soil is going to be contaminated in many locations, but all at the expense of saving what happened downtown. Downtown conditions could not be better in old Monroe.

NGUYEN: So what's actually being done to keep those levee breaches like what we've been seeing from happening over and over again in other places?

WOLF: The first thing they've been doing, Betty, is they've been using those sandbags. We've been showing you in several places farther up stream or farther up river in Quincy, Illinois, just some huge sandbagging efforts. We had some yesterday at a local high school, same situation there and then using those to help reinforce these levees. Many of them are decades old. In some places it's worked fine like in the situation behind me, certainly hasn't worked well. We had the water pass around those structures and that's what you're seeing right here in front of us.

HOLMES: We heard you talking about catfish there just a second ago and we also saw earlier, you had a new friend hopping around.

NGUYEN: Tiny little friend.

HOLMES: Jack Hanna impression out there, just doing all things for us.

WOLF: yes.

HOLMES: Go ahead.

WOLF: I haven't seen Kermit. I think Kermit took off some place. I'm hoping he's going to grow to be a nice big frog. We've seen a lot of weird wildlife and later on this morning, what we're going to show you (INAUDIBLE) our photojournalist had a chance to get out in a boat and actually check out some of the sights with our fire department, saw all kinds of deer, wild turkey, all sorts of weird things, including weather people like me.

So, we're going to show you some of those neat sights plus we're going to show you some of the efforts that the community, not just the community locally, but the community nationwide, when they came together, really on this big effort to hold this big river back, the largest river on the continent spilling over its banks today.

And as Bonnie has been telling you all morning long, in many places it has begun to recede and other places it's going to continue to rise up. This is a problem we're going to be dealing with, many people will be dealing with emotionally, physically, financially for some time to come. HOLMES: Absolutely right about that. We do appreciate you. We've been watching you the past couple days and you're with us this weekend as well there covering this flooding, doing some great stuff out there. We do appreciate you, Reynolds.

NGUYEN: Fires, floods, meteorologist Bonnie has been tracking all of it for us this morning and you've had your hands full today no doubt.

SCHNEIDER: That's right. We've got a lot of extreme weather happening across the country. And Reynolds was talking how some folks are going to do better than others in terms of flooding.

For example, moderate flooding in the forecast for St. Louis but it continues through Friday and into the north, still major flooding in the forecast. It really depends where the levees break. When a levee breaks, it allows the water to kind of spill to the side so the communities to the south do better, but the communities along the levees, unfortunately they're dealing with some of the flooding that we've seen in pictures here on CNN.

But I want to explain a little bit about levees and actually how do they break down? You probably may think that a levee would just break when the water spills over the levee and that's our first animation here as we put this into motion. Certainly the water could rise enough that it overtops a levee which is the most common way a levee would break down.

But as we move on to our next animation, other ways that levees can break down is the force of the water, let's say the Mississippi, rushing down can actually break a piece of the earth or the levee down inside of it and then the water spills over.

And finally, there's one more way that a levee can really be destroyed and it could be through the water coming from underneath the levee. This one is tough because you don't see it coming. The water starts to rise and everyone thinks the levee looks fine. This is called piping.

So this is another way that we could see levee destruction and we've seen so many levees break down along the Mississippi. We're hoping none of this happens anymore, but it's something to keep in mind as we track the extreme weather across the country -- Betty.

NGUYEN: That is such good information, especially to put in those graphics so you can understand as we talk so much about these levees being breached, a lot of people wondering, what exactly is going on there, how does it happen.


NGUYEN: So many different ways, obviously. Bonnie Schneider, thanks so much.

Let's take you overseas now to another security crackdown in Tibet this morning, this time, for the Olympic torch. HOLMES: And many of you will remember it was China's controversial crackdown in March that led to the disruptive torch protests in the U.S. as well as Europe. So, how would the torch be received in Tibet capital?

CNN's John Vause explains.


JOHN VAUSE, CNN BEIJING CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Just how Beijing likes it, smiling, happy, flag waving supporters, hand picked to line the route and cheer the Olympic flame. Not an angry protester or unhappy monk in sight. Three months after an outbreak of violence in Tibet, Chinese officials say calm has returned.

PALMA TRILY, DEPUTY GOVERNOR OF TIBET (THROUGH TRANSLATOR): After a period of reeducation, the vast majority of temples and monasteries have returned to normal religious activities, says Tibet's deputy governor.

ROBERT BARNETT, COLUMBIA UNIVERSITY: That's meant a lot of patriotic reeducation teams as they're called, party members and sometimes police, going into monasteries demanding that people destroy their pictures of the Dalai Lama and denounce their religious leader.

VAUSE: The relay though was drastically scaled back from 27 kilometers to just nine. It meant a high five handover almost every 30 seconds. Runners carried the flame for less than 60 meters each. On the steps of the Potala (ph) palace, the traditional seat of power for the exiled Dali Lama, a reminder of who was in charge.

The skies over Tibet will never change colors, said the local party secretary. And the five-starred red flag will forever fly above this land. Today, security in the capital Lhasa has been incredibly tight with reports many residents were told to stay home.

STEPHEN McDONELL, AUSTRALIAN BROADCAST CORP: We're coming through the streets last night and this morning and seeing truckloads of riot police on the streets, lots of soldiers, lots of police, lots of shops closed down.

VAUSE: Amnesty International claims there has been no let up in the unrest since it began in March.

SAM ZARIFI, AMNESTY INTERNATIONAL: Small scale protests often led by monks and nuns but with a lot of lay people joining them and a very serious government crackdown by security forces.

VAUSE: Despite international protests, the Olympic flame was always going to pass through Tibet. Beijing was never going to back down, but it did scale back the relay from a three-day extravaganza to a fleeting three-hour visit.

John Vause, CNN, Beijing.

(END VIDEOTAPE) NGUYEN: Deadly attacks are on the rise in Afghanistan. Five coalition troops were killed today bringing the total for June to 32; 29 of those were from combat. That's the highest monthly death toll so far this year.

CNN's senior international correspondent Nic Robertson is in Kabul today. Let's look at these numbers, Nic, 32 coalition deaths for the month of June. How does that compare with Iraq as we try to put this in perspective?

ROBERTSON: Certainly a much greater number than that in Iraq, the number of U.S. fatalities in the fighting in Iraq so far this month is 18. This is really the first time where the death toll in Afghanistan of coalition forces have overtaken that of U.S. and other forces inside Iraq. But if you look back to a year ago here in Afghanistan, the number of coalition international troop deaths here is much higher. The four deaths today were the result of a roadside bomb. Another soldier died of gunshot wounds sustained yesterday.

Two soldiers killed in separate attacks in the south yesterday, one by a suicide bomber who had explosives strapped to his body, jumped off the roof of a building onto the passing patrol, killing the soldier in the vehicle below. The day before, two more soldiers killed in the south of the country. The day before, two more U.S. soldiers killed in the east of the country in a rocket attack, four British soldiers two days before that. This is a pattern here of Taliban attacks that is much greater than we've seen so far this year and certainly much greater than last year, Betty.

NGUYEN: Nic, what is causing this pattern? What is causing this increased violence?

ROBERTSON: Well, I think certainly if you were to ask the Taliban, and they certainly try to get their propaganda out as much as they can, they would say that there are more people supporting them and they're more effective. I think the reality is, is that the Taliban attacks over the winter drop off. This winter was quite significant because they didn't drop off completely. They continued the attacks.

This summer, the Taliban have been mounting more attacks and you have to look at those figures and the coalition has to look at those figures and see that the Taliban either have greater number of people supporting them, or they are getting better at what they're doing. It's probably a mixture of both those things that are happening.

Certainly coalition commanders say this is a tough environment, that they're determined and they can beat the Taliban here, but the facts on the ground are the Taliban's number of attacks, effective attacks, appear to be increasing plus we had a jail break last weekend. Over 400 Taliban fighters sprung from a jail in the south of the country in a coordinated, complex attack, Betty.

NGUYEN: We were talking earlier this week how they overran a few villages there as well. CNN's Nic Robertson joining us live from Kabul, Afghanistan, this morning, we do thank you, Nic. HOLMES: Time for us to take a look at some other headlines this morning. Twelve people trampled to death during a police raid on a nightclub in Mexico City. Police say they went to the club to investigate reports of drugs and alcohol being sold to under-aged teenagers who were celebrating the end of the school year. They say the crowd panicked triggering that stampede. Among the dead, two teenagers as well as three police officers.

NGUYEN: Nearly three million people stranded and at least 54 dead from monsoon flooding in India. Look at this video. Rescue workers are struggling to provide relief supplies. More than five days of near constant rains have triggered landslides and blocked major highways.

HOLMES: Not to suggest there is ever a good time to kill your wife, but on your honeymoon? Australian authorities have charged a Birmingham man with murdering his wife, in fact, on their honeymoon. David Gabriel Watson and he was scuba diving with his wife off the coast of Australia when she drowned in 2003.

The coroner in Australia said yesterday -- there he is there in the dark shirt -- says that there was enough evidence to put Watson on trial. She was 26-years-old. He's an experienced diver and there's some talk that he had asked his wife to up the life insurance and make him beneficiary beforehand, so but on the honeymoon, wow.

NGUYEN: Goodness.

HOLMES: Let's talk about these things here. We all know.

NGUYEN: Love it.

HOLMES: Love them. I mean, you can't help it.

NGUYEN: Can't stay away from it.

HOLMES: Love the BlackBerries, a tool of convenience. Sometimes do you ever want to do this to your BlackBerry? yes. Maybe you don't want to smash it. But should you get paid for using your BlackBerry after hours?

NGUYEN: That sounds like a good idea, doesn't it?

Also ahead -- baby, oh baby, newborn twins making a big entry into the world. How big? We have those weighty details.


NGUYEN: OK. Do you feel trapped by work? Even when you're not at work?

HOLMES: yes.

NGUYEN: Some workers are fed up with having one of these and having to deal with them after hours.

HOLMES: CNN's Richard Roth explains to us now those people and we are looking for payback.


RICHARD ROTH, CNN SR. U.N. CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The BlackBerry is a constant companion.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I can't imagine life without it.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I use it from the second I wake up to the second I go to bed.

ROTH: But the device can be a drag.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This thing is like a ball and chain.

ROTH: Wired up workers say they can't even escape from the job after hours. Now they want to get paid for it.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I definitely think that we should be compensated.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I think people should be compensated for what they're being asked to do outside of work.

ROTH: Writers and producers at ABC News demanded payment for after work usage and received a settlement with management. Elsewhere, people keep multi-tasking while the office is closed.

VALORIE BURTON, LIFE COACH: For some people they feel like they're missing out on something. For others, there really is a genuine fear that they'll appear not to be a team player.

ROTH: And attorneys are sending a message to businesses, prepare for legal action.

JEFFREY SCHLOSSBERG, ATTORNEY: Employers don't really perceive that there's a problem or issue with employees using their BlackBerries outside of work. They don't see it.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I was expecting a message any minute.

ROTH: Financier Andrew Tsunis is separated from his BlackBerry only when taking mid-day naps. He doesn't expect his employees to be messaging at night.

ANDREW TSUNIS, BLACKBERRY USER: Compensated for using the BlackBerry with work at night? I don't think it's a good idea.

ROTH: Maybe brute force can eliminate the problem.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It is tough to get rid of those, holy crap.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Be careful. It's really good.

ROTH: The world's strongest man in the United States cannot destroy this BlackBerry. But will companies be as tough when it comes to exhausted workers armed with the device?

Richard Roth, CNN, New York.


NGUYEN: Not only armed with this device, but after a while, don't you get some kind of a problem with your thumb action, right, carpal tunnel, BlackBerry tunnel or something.

HOLMES: (INAUDIBLE). We're not talking about legal action but we do, Betty and I, at least want to sit down and talk to you about all the work we do after hours.

NGUYEN: Compensation, maybe per word or per hour, something along those lines.

HOLMES: We'll shoot you a message.

NGUYEN: We'll text you.

HOLMES: ... on your BlackBerry on your Saturday.

We need to talk about a couple of big bundles of joy here now, newborn twins in North Carolina tipping the scales at a combined 23 pounds and 1 ounce.

NGUYEN: That just sounds painful. Abigail Rose Maynard and Sean William Maynard were born two minutes apart at a hospital in Winston- Salem this week.


ERIN MAYNARD, TWINS' MOTHER: We weren't ready for how big she was at all. Him, a little bit, but not Abby. She's definitely surprised all of us.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It was like I wanted, oh, my God let me help you. She was so big, I couldn't believe it.

MAYNARD: I figured with two, there's no way that -- there's not room in there. It can't get that big.


NGUYEN: But they did. The twins are believed to be the second heaviest born in the U.S., so better stock up on all of that what is it, Similac and all the other formula that you're going to need because you're going to need plenty of it.

HOLMES: She didn't think there was enough room in there for a baby that big. Congratulations on the big babies.

We will turn to one presidential candidate who is changing his mind when it comes to oil drilling. Our Josh Levs with a reality check for us this morning.

Good morning.

LEVS: I love those pictures, great way to kick off the morning. All right, over to politics. Would drilling for oil help relieve prices at the pump today? We're going to reality check McCain and Obama this morning coming up.


NGUYEN: All right, trying to bring down those high oil prices.

HOLMES: Trying.

NGUYEN: Is that possible? Tomorrow, Saudi Arabia will convene a meeting of oil producing and oil consuming nations and it comes as oil prices have climbed above $130 a barrel. Consumer nations want more oil production.

HOLMES: So Saudi Arabia is blaming a number of factors including speculators and currency fluctuations for the price hike. Saudi Arabia says it's increasing oil output by 200,000 barrels a day. As you know that is pretty much, many will say, just a drop in the bucket. The high cost of gasoline has a lot of people suddenly talking again about opening more of the U.S. coast to offshore oil drilling.

NGUYEN: Republican presidential candidate John McCain is one of them and Josh Levs has been checking the facts behind the candidate's rhetoric. So what have you found?

LEVS: Here's the deal. There was a big announcement from him this week and had kind of seismic political repercussions. McCain announced this week that he's now supporting lifting a ban on domestic offshore oil drilling and he said this.


MCCAIN: I think that this and perhaps providing additional incentives for states to permit exploration off their coasts, would be very helpful in the short term in resolving our energy crisis.


LEVS: Is that accurate? Will it help in the short term as we face these sky high gas prices. The fact checking Web site Politifact says no. But take a look at what they say here. They say that while there may be many strong arguments for offshore drilling, oil experts and economists say relieving today's fuel prices is not one of them.

They say even if offshore drilling areas were to open tomorrow, experts say it would take at least 10 years to realize any significant production. Even then, they say, the U.S. contribution to the overall global oil market would not be enough to make a significant dent in the price of gas.

Now Politifact has a ruling that they come up with at the very end as we can see here, they rule his position right there, false. One more thing I want to show you though before we go. This is from I find it very helpful. Let's close in on it if we can.

This map here shows in yellow where would now be allowed -- showing up as sort of a bright white on your screen. It's this stretch and this stretch. That is where people would now be allowed to start drilling if the Federal ban were to be lifted. You can weigh in on this in

Coming up today in the 10:00 hour, we're going to share some of the I-reports with you. I'll mention quickly, Barack Obama is opposed to oil drilling, offshore oil drilling. Betty and T.J., next hour, we are going to look at his position on public financing for the general election and a fact checking site that is rating his position now at three Pinocchios. I'll explain next hour.

HOLMES: We wonder why. He has changed his tune dramatically. Yes, we're looking forward to hearing that. Three Pinocchios, that's pretty harsh.

NGUYEN: That's not so good. Thanks, Josh.

HOLMES: We all know, mobile phones, got one, mobile phone.

NGUYEN: Some of us have three.

HOLMES: yes. Did you have to put it out there?

NGUYEN: Speaking of mobile phones, a lot of people worry.

HOLMES: That's silly.

NGUYEN: Long distance, no problem. What about the reception of this one? Could be a little lousy. We'll give you the details.


NGUYEN: All right. There is no excuse. I mean absolutely none for not calling home when you're late because this mobile phone car recently showed up at the Seattle art car festival. What?

HOLMES: I have a friend that's in the market for a car. Maybe I'll recommend this one.

NGUYEN: I don't know what the gas mileage is. It's nice looking.

HOLMES: The driver here says the car is such a draw, you can't even buy gas because everybody is stopping the car. When you beep the horn it sounds like, what else?

NGUYEN: A ringing phone.

HOLMES: And you probably won't be surprised as well to learn that the person in the car is working for a phone company.

NGUYEN: That is the craziest thing I've ever seen. Looking for a wedding gown that you can actually flush after the ceremony? Never thought about that. OK. These are all made from toilet paper. Actually, those are kind of nice. Just don't get them wet. That would be a problem. They were the finalist in the fourth annual toilet paper wedding dress concert (sic).

HOLMES: They had four of these? A Rockford, Illinois, woman won. She got $1,000. The gowns are on display at "Ripley's Believe It or Not" auditorium museum in New York.

NGUYEN: And in Florida, a robber that doesn't quite grasp the concept of what a weapon is.

HOLMES: What is it?

NGUYEN: It looks very -- that's a palm frond, friends, and I wouldn't advise trying this. It does look quite intimidating, you know, with the pointy fronds.

HOLMES: You know that criminals have never been accused of being smart people. But the clerk certainly not -- yes.

NGUYEN: Put a shirt over his head.

HOLMES: Oh my goodness. A brief exchange, the would-be crook hussled out as you can see, and it wasn't easy to get him out. Just pick up a stool and shuffled him away. Police later arrested the 33- year-old man and charged him with stupidity as well as armed robbery.

NGUYEN: All right, first of all, you can see the guy's face clearly ...

HOLMES: This is great.

NGUYEN: ...and then he's holding a palm frond? Something's definitely wrong here.

All right, let's get back to some serious news because there is some flooding in the Midwest that we need to tell you about and bad as it looks, especially taking a look at that. It could actually get much worse. We have a live update from the flood zone. That's coming up at the top of the hour.

HOLMES: But first, "HOUSE CALL" with Dr. Sanjay Gupta starts right now.