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First Tropical Depression Of Season Forms; Immigration Debate Heating Up For California Election; Summer Airline Tips; World Cup Update

Aired June 10, 2006 - 12:30   ET


FREDRICKA WHITFIELD, CNN ANCHOR: Half past the hour, the first tropical depression of the new hurricane season formed off western Cuba today. It is moving north-northwest with sustained winds of about 35 miles an hour. Officials say it could become a tropical storm later on today.

A huge pile of rubble -- that's all that's left of the hideout used by terrorist Abu Musab al-Zarqawi. The leader of al Qaeda in Iraq was killed in a U.S. airstrike on Wednesday. Iraqi Sunni insurgent groups are sending their condolences, and warning Sunnis not to cooperate with the Iraqi government.

In Pakistan, security forces backed by artillery and helicopter gunships destroy a militant training site near the Afghan border today. An army spokesman says 15 to 20 suspected militants and local supporters were killed.

A nuclear plan counteroffer in the works from Iran. The foreign minister says it's in response to a western incentives package aimed at persuading Iran to suspend uranium enrichment and restart talks over its nuclear program. No word on what might be included in Iran's proposal.

We update the top stories every 15 minutes on CNN LIVE SATURDAY. Your next update is coming up at 12:45 Eastern.

And let's go back to Reynolds Wolf in the Weather Center, keeping a close watch on this tropical depression.


WHITFIELD: A bitter fight over immigration reform and a very uncertain election year. The passionate debate is shaking things up far and wide in the Golden State.

CNN chief national correspondent John King reports.


JOHN KING, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): On the road in California, seeking both reelection and the middle ground in the bitter immigration debate that is shaping his campaign and so many others. Governor Schwarzenegger is no fan of President Bush's plan to deploy the National Guard to the U.S.-Mexico border.

GOV. ARNOLD SCHWARZENEGGER (R), CALIFORNIA: The idea of sending National Guards to the borders was half-baked. And I told him that. It's an idea that's half-baked. I said, let's not rush those things.

KING (on camera): Do you think it was half-baked in your words because they were rushing it because of the election year political climate?

SCHWARZENEGGER: You know, I don't want to second guess why was it half-baked. I think what they should have done is if anything, is talk to us first and say, come to Washington, let's work this out.

KING (voice-over): Despite his reservations, the governor last week agreed to deploy California Guard troops, but only through the end of 2008 and only after the White House agreed to pay the costs. The president's embrace of using fencing and barriers across large sections of the border is another source of tension.

SCHWARZENEGGER: Well, I think that that is not thought through. Because walls, as we have seen with the 40 tunnels that have been discovered, doesn't really help, you know, the situation when you have a wall, because you can build the tunnels. They could drive trucks through it.

KING: Balloting this week put the internal Republican immigration divide on full display in California. Winning a special House election in San Diego, Republican Brian Bilbray denounced the president's call for a new guest worker program allowing millions of illegal immigrants a path to citizenship.

BRIAN BILBRAY (R), CALIF. CONG.-ELECT: The president proposing amnesty was absolutely a big problem.

KING: Now Bilbray says he will urge other Republicans to copy his tough message.

BILBRAY: Don't listen to the Senate and don't listen to the White House. They mean well, but they're not listening to the people.

KING (on camera): The president is wrong. The senate is wrong. No amnesty. Focus on border security. No guest worker program that puts people on a path to citizenship. Is that the right message on immigration?

SCHWARZENEGGER: Well, that maybe was the right message for him in order to win. A little decaffeinated.


KING (voice-over): For all his disagreements with the president, Schwarzenegger is with Mr. Bush and against Congressman Bilbray when it comes to the guest worker program, courting California's growing Latino vote, and says his state and maybe his political fortunes will pay a price if the warring voices in Congress fail to agree on major reforms this year. John King, CNN, Antioch, California.


WHITFIELD: That story from John King, part the of the best political team on television. And that story comes to us from "ANDERSON COOPER 360." Join "A.C. 360" weeknights at 10:00 p.m. Eastern.

In today's "Dollars & Deals," summer air travel. Our next guest can't keep the guy next to you from using your arm rest, but he can help you get a bargain on your next flight. The June issue of "Kiplinger's" has what you need to know about summer air travel.

Sean O'Neill is associate editor of "Kiplinger's" magazine and he joins me with the lowdown.

Good to see you.

SEAN O'NEILL, ASSOC. ED., "KIPLINGER'S MAGAZINE": Good to see you, Fredricka. Thank you.

WHITFIELD: So it's not too late -- sorry about that. It's not too late to get a deal on some summer air fare?

O'NEILL: Well, Fredricka, this going it be a record summer for travel. More of us are going to take to the skies than ever before, but as you know, fuel price are skyrocketing so this is going to be the most expensive summer for fares since about six years ago, but there's still some deals out there.

WHITFIELD: How do you find them?

O'NEILL: You should search on more than one computer. For example, if you're on your home computer, switch to searching on your office computer after you've done it for awhile.

The problem is that your Web site may put little data files onto your computer and as you keep searching, it will prevent your Web browser from collecting the most up-to-date fares. But if you switch to another computer that doesn't know what you've been searching on, you may save hundreds of dollars.

WHITFIELD: Interesting.

All right, so now you've got a hold of a good fare because you've helped us on how to find them. So now you want to get comfortable on your flight. And, you know, I understand that you, you know, got to respect all that are around you, you're not on a private jet. You're on, you know, a jet that there may be about 200 people on board. So, you know, what happens if you don't necessarily get the seat that you wanted?

O'NEILL: Well, you should -- one trick before you go onto the airline, before you go on your flight is to call ahead and try to see if you can book 24 hours -- if you can book online, you can often reserve the seat that you want by going to the airlines Web site and choosing the seat. But otherwise, it's going to be such packed seats on airplanes this summer, you're not going to have a lot of choices.

WHITFIELD: And you got to be nice. So, you know, say the choices are limited, you're now asking the agent or someone who works for the airline to do you a favor to find you something. So say pretty please for starters.

O'NEILL: Yes. Say pretty please. A lot of times if you go in advance, you call up, the gate agents have incredible amount of power, if you explain that you would like to have one of the rooms that are by the exit rows which have additional seating, you may be able to save some -- have some more comfortable flight.

WHITFIELD: And then say, heaven forbid, you get bumped, you get angry. You know, you want some sort of compensation or you want some kind of tradeoff for the inconvenience. What kind of power, what kind of leverage do you really have?

O'NEILL: You can collect up to about $200 worth of money if they rebook you, but you should definitely make them pay. Don't volunteer, because if you volunteer they'll give you a flight coupon for a future flight, and it can be like frequent flier miles that can have a lot of blackout dates, that can be very difficult to redeem. So definitely don't volunteer, but if you're asked to be bumped, demand that you can get some cash up front.

WHITFIELD: So you really need to make that demand, because a lot of times you get bumped and they just say, you know what? Hey, there's another flight, you know, five hours from now or, you know, perhaps you have to overnight, you know. That's on us. But you can ask for money or a voucher but you really would prefer the money?

O'NEILL: You would prefer the money. The voucher is going to be much more difficult to redeem, but the cash is immediately good for you.

WHITFIELD: All right. And then there's BYOB, and we're not talking about beer but instead blanket. Is that the cootie factor?

O'NEILL: Yes, that is the cootie factor. Some airlines, like American Express -- excuse me -- American Eagle are charging $5 just to have a pillow and blanket now.


O'NEILL: So you want to try to make yourself more comfortable by bringing along some of your own items.

WHITFIELD: Your own accoutrement, as they say. All right. Sean O'Neill thanks so much, with "Kiplinger's" magazine.

O'NEILL: Thank you, Fredricka.

WHITFIELD: And happy travels this summer.

O'NEILL: Thank you so much.

WHITFIELD: OK. Well, things are heating up in the tropics. Is there a threat in what you're seeing on that screen right there? We'll get the latest straight ahead.


GERRI WILLIS, CNN ANCHOR (voice-over): Closing costs down, title fees, appraisal fees, document preparation fees -- sealing the deal on your home can really add up, but you can curb those costs. Get a good faith estimate. All lenders are required to give you an estimate of your closing costs within three days offer apply for a loan.

While it's no guarantee, it will give you an idea of how much you'll be expected to shell out. Question all the fees. Make sure you know what each item is and whether it's required, and don't be afraid to ask for reasonable cost breaks. You may be able to negotiate a better price on some items. So get an estimate and always ask questions.

That's your "Tip of the Day." For more, watch "OPEN HOUSE" Saturday mornings 9:30 Eastern on CNN.



WHITFIELD: Fifteen minutes now before the hour. Here's what's happening right now. The new Atlantic hurricane season's first tropical depression stirring up the waters of the northwestern Caribbean. It's about 45 miles off the western tip of Cuba and forecasters say it could grow into a tropical storm later today.

Let's check in with Reynolds Wolf.


WHITFIELD: Carrying out a vow of revenge, Hamas militants fire a barrage of rockets at Israeli targets today. Israel says there were no casualties. The attack came hours after Hamas called off a cease- fire in response to an Israeli artillery strike in Gaza that killed seven civilians on the Beach.

In Georgia, in this country, a statewide search for these two boys is over. Our local affiliates report their father has turned them over to police. Police say Baker Clark (ph) took off with his children following an argument with their mother and her boyfriend.

A 16-year-old honor student from Michigan is back home after a journey that took her to the Middle East without her parents permission. Authorities say Katherine Lester met a West Bank man on on the Internet. Then she flew off to meet him after tricking her parents into getting her a passport. U.S. officials in Jordan persuaded Lester return home before she reached the West Bank.

We update the top stories every 15 minutes on CNN LIVE SATURDAY. Your next update is coming up at the top of the hours, 1:00 Eastern.

Straight ahead, floods are hitting China hard. We'll have the latest on what areas are feeling the impact already.

And we'll have some tip son hurricane-proofing your house straight ahead in our "Modern Living" segment.



WHITFIELD: Time now to "Go Global." Fierce floods and landslides in China after days of heavy rain -- it has prompted the evacuation of 7,000 people in the southern part of the country. Workers in orange life vests used sandbags to reinforce a dike where breaches have been reported. More rain is in the forecast.

It's not all fun and games at the biggest sporting event on earth. Clashes broke out today in Germany, host of the World Cup matches. Supporters of a right wing party faced off with counterdemonstrators, who called the group Nazis. Police had to separate the two sides. Attacks on non-whites in the run-up to the World Cup have led to growing concerns and reports of racism.

For those of you who get into the games, Germany beat Costa Rica 4-2 in the opening match of the World Cup, giving the hometown crowd something to cheer about. And England beat Paraguay 1-0. At this hour, Sweden is taking on Trinidad and Tobago.

Well, many of you know absolutely nothing about the U.S. team that is in the World Cup, where they stand, the big players, how they're doing. That's where our Larry Smith comes. He has this "Fact Check."



LARRY SMITH, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Believe if or not, the U.S. enters the World Cup as the fifth ranked team in the world. America's coming out was the last World Cup in 2002, when the U.S. notched its strongest performance in 72 years by reaching the quarter finals.

Among the players to watch on the U.S. team, midfielder Landon Donovan, a World Cup rookie in 2002, now expected to be a leader. Veteran Captain Claudio Reyna is the team's playmakers but has an iffy hamstring and a history of getting injured. Youthful Bobby Convey turned pro at 16. Now 23, he adds speed and dribbling skills. Oguchi Onyewu anchors the U.S. defense in front of veteran goalie Casey Keller.

To make it into the round of do or die matches, the United States must place either first or second in a round robin series against Italy, Ghana and the Czech Republic. That won't be easy. The Czechs are ranked as the world's number two, Italy is ranked in the top 15, and Ghana is considered to be an explosive up and come comer. The four team division so strong it's being called the "group of death."


WHITFIELD: And as we've been reporting to you all morning, the first tropical depression of the season could enter the Gulf of Mexico sometime today. And the best time to think about protecting your home from storm damage is before the rain ever moves in.

CNN's Gerri Willis has more in today's "Modern Living."


WILLIS (voice-over): With hurricane season upon us, it's a good time to review some ways to protect your home before the first storm arrives.

(on camera): Let's talk about something that is really simple and that's items that can turn into projectiles in your yard. We've got a lot of stuff sitting out here that you'd want to bring in, in a storm. What would you do here?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Just go out with your family and walk around the house. And anything that you possibly think might fly up in the air, go and pick it up and put it inside.

WILLIS: Let's get rid of the flag.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Get rid of the flag, the lighting right there. This canopy over here, it might stay, but I'd take it off. Patio furniture up here needs to come down.

WILLIS: Exactly.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Porch swing needs to come down. Absolutely. Take everything out and put it inside the house.

WILLIS (voice-over): Gerri Willis, CNN.


WHITFIELD: And Teddy is living the good life at Christie's Auction House these days. We'll show you why it's a bull market for some of these bears.


WHITFIELD: If you're hunting bear, you may want to head to, of all places, London and you may want to bring a checkbook as well. Christie's is getting ready for a teddy bear auction. More than 200 of the cuddly stuffed animals will go up for bid, some very old, some very rare. Prices are expected to range from hundreds of thousands of dollars depending on what the market will bear, so to speak.

All right, Reynolds Wolf, much more serious topic. Serious weather, potentially dangerous.


WHITFIELD: A look at our top stories in the moment. "IN THE MONEY" is next. Here's a preview.


Coming up on "IN THE MONEY," warm, fuzzy feelings versus cold, hard facts. See if there are really two U.S. economies, one of them based mostly on your emotions.

Also ahead, the international hit that can't score in the United States. Find out why soccer doesn't sell big to American sports fans. Here's a hint -- it's boring.

And from life on the streets to life on Wall Street, we'll hear about how one guy went from down and out to high and mighty.

All that and more right after a quick check of the headlines.


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