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Girl, 2, Rescued from Well in India; American Airlines Grounds Planes for Safety Inspections; Renewed Violence in Iraq; Army Provides Glimpse of Saddam's Cell

Aired March 26, 2008 - 13:00   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


ALI VELSHI, CNN ANCHOR: Thank you to you, Roland Martin. Thanks, Janice. Thanks, Andy.
Thank you for joining us for "Issue No. 1." It is the No. 1 issue across America. We're back same time today -- same time tomorrow, same place, at noon. Let's take it over to CNN NEWSROOM now.

DON LEMON, CO-HOST: Twenty-seven hours in a well. A terrifying ordeal finally ends for a 2-year-old girl in India. We'll have a live report for you.

BRIANNA KEILAR, CO-HOST: Two hundred flights on the ground. A major airline scraps almost 10 percent of its schedule to focus on wiring. Our Drew Griffin inspects the inspection.

Hi, there. I'm Brianna in Keilar, in today for Kyra Phillips at CNN world headquarters in Atlanta.

LEMON: And I'm Don Lemon. You're in the CNN NEWSROOM.

Boy, it was an amazing rescue and amazing pictures, all caught live. Elation in the shadow of the Taj Mahal just about an hour ago.

A 2-year-old girl was rescued after more than a day at the bottom of a narrow well outside of New Delhi, India. The big moment aired live on our sister network, which is CNN IBN. The child, named Vandana, seems relatively unhurt.

Rescue workers had lowered water and food to her while they dug a hole parallel to the well and tunneled across to reach her. The girl's parents are with her at a hospital, where she is being checked out. We'll have a live report in just a few minutes from our sister network, CNN IBN, in India. You don't want to miss that. There's a reporter there. She's going to join us to tell us about this entire rescue.

And those images from India remind many of us of baby Jessica's rescue -- remember that -- back in 1987. Jessica McClure was the 18- month-old toddler fell down a well in Midland, Texas. And for the next 58 hours her rescue transfixed a nation.

Jessica survived but lost a toe and had to undergo more than a dozen operations afterwards. She is now 22 years old. There's a picture of that. Do you guys remember this rescue? Remember that, Brianna?

KEILAR: Amazing.

LEMON: Yes.

KEILAR: This is one of the early stories that I recall.

LEMON: Yes. She's now 22, believe it or not. She was 18 months old when it happened and says she can't remember anything about the ordeal.

Let's go back now to the story of Vandana in India and talk to Divya Ayer. She's from CNN IBN.

Divya, amazing picture, amazing rescue live right here on the news.

DIVYA AYER, CNN IBN: Absolutely. It's been more than a 27-hour rescue operation. And the 2-year-old has been inside this 25-feet deep well. It was extremely dramatic. The applause that was there when (UNINTELLIGIBLE). That was something that was stunning to see, the entire village, the neighboring village. Everyone had gathered to see that miracle of a child who had been only surviving on glucose and biscuits and water and nothing else.

So it was truly a dramatic time, a dramatic moment when the army people rescued the little wonder.

LEMON: Real quickly, Divya, talk to us about -- you said what has she been surviving on? Tell us how were they feeding her and keeping her healthy while she was trapped in there?

AYER: They were trying to throw concentrated glucose and water down. That was essential. That was going through. The oxygen was being pumped in. It was going through pipes. The bore (ph) was just 1 1/2 foot in diameter, so it was actually a very small space for a 2- year-old to be. It was very cramped. It was damp and claustrophobic. But still they tried and throw some biscuits and fruit and milk so nutrition at all times was kept up to level.

Which is why, I guess, even after 27 hours she was able to respond to orders. She wanted more food. She was able to ask for it. And held a strong hold on life (ph) (UNINTELLIGIBLE). She was still responding even after all those hours.

LEMON: Were her parents and her family there at the scene? Have you heard anything from them, Divya?

AYER: They were there throughout. The mother never left the house. She was inside doing prayers with the rest of the women from the village. She did not want to come and speak to the child in case she broke down and that would have been emotionally traumatic for the little kid. But the father was there, too, always trying to speak to her, give her a pep talk, assure her that the father was there at all times. It actually really helped the child (ph). LEMON: Divya -- Divya, real quickly, because we've got to move on. We've got lots if news here today. But I want to find out obviously an accident. I mean, that's obvious. But do you know the circumstances surrounding how she fell into this well, into this hole? Why was it there?

AYER: The boring (ph) is directly outside. It's like a courtyard right outside the house. She was playing there, and she fell into it. It was just like a eye-opening, a small mouth (ph) opening. About one and a half months back, this was sanctioned by the local MLA (ph) who wanted a bore hole (ph) experiment. That same contractor had forgotten or he'd laid aside the job, so it was uncovered and the child fell in that while playing.

LEMON: OK. All right. Divya Ayer from our sister station in India, CNN IBN. We appreciate your reporting. Thank you.

KEILAR: Back from the beach and now on to the trail. Moments from now Barack Obama holds a town hall meeting in Greensboro, North Carolina. You're going to see it live when it gets under way. Obama spent three days with his family in the Virgin Islands. A little R&R there.

LEMON: All right. American Airlines has canceled about 200 flights today to reinspect the wiring on some of its planes.

Drew Griffin from our special investigations unit is here to explain to us what's going on. And is this fallout from the Southwest story?

DREW GRIFFIN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Definitely. It's fallout from the Southwest story. Southwest, we had been reporting, basically caught flying beyond mandatory inspection checks that were supposed to be done on the plane. And most importantly, the FAA supervisor assigned to Southwest allowing them to do that.

We reported that the FAA announced a huge crackdown and reinspection of all planes in the air, and this is part of that.

What happened is overnight American decided it wanted to reinspect its ND-80s for a wiring sleeve that is in the wheel well. This is a reinspection, but they just wanted to go back and make sure they did it right. That affected 10 percent of the airline's flights today. They're inspecting them as fast as they can and putting them right back into service.

I just talked with a spokesman where Charlie Wilson. He said what they're doing to speed up this process, they're actually flying the inspectors to the planes instead of the planes to inspectors. But Don, he still believes that this is going to roll over into tomorrow, because it's taking a lot of time just to inspect each of the planes.

LEMON: Interesting how it might be affecting air travel today if there are any delays or what have you because of this. So Drew Griffin, thank you. We're going to check, actually, with our Chad Myers in just a little bit when we check in with the weather, the flight tracker to see if it is affected. Because that's what people are concerned about mostly. Obviously, safety but also waiting in line.

Drew Griffin. Thank you, Drew.

KEILAR: The U.S. military blames rogue Shiite elements supported by Iran for more than a dozen mortar explosions and rocket attacks on the so-called international zone of Baghdad, also known, of course, as the Green Zone. Some Americans are hurt. We're told these attacks are related to street fighting in Basra, hundreds of miles away.

Let's get now right to Baghdad and our own Kyra Phillips.

Kyra, what can you tell us?

KYRA PHILLIPS, CNN ANCHOR: Well, Brianna, we're not just talking Basra, but this fight has serious implications for the stability of the entire country of Iraq.

The battle is among Iraqi forces, hard line Shiite cleric Muqtada -- Muqtada al-Sadr's Mehdi Army militia, rogue forces supported by Iran and criminal gangs.

And now my military sources within tell me that these mortar and rocket attacks that struck the international zone, already killing one person, are directly related to the fighting that's taking place in Basra. The attacks, my sources say, a message to Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki to pull his forces out of Basra.

Why is this battle in Basra? Because it's an oil-rich city that everyone wants a piece of. Oil means money, and for a war-torn country they will do whatever it takes to get that money.

Major General Kevin Bergner wanted to drive home that this is not a U.S. military campaign but strictly Iraqi.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MAJOR GENERAL KEVIN BERGNER, MULTINATIONAL FORCES IN IRAQ: Prime Minister Maliki specifically said that he took these actions because, quote, "The lawlessness is going on under religious or political cover, along with smuggling of oil, weapons and drugs."

(END VIDEO CLIP)

PHILLIPS: Al-Maliki has now given militants a 72-hour deadline to surrender their weapons or face prosecution -- Brianna.

KEILAR: And Kyra, I know that you got an exclusive look inside Saddam Hussein's jail cell. What can you tell us about that?

PHILLIPS: That's right. The last time the world saw Saddam Hussein alive was in court when he learned that he would be hanged for his crimes against humanity. Now for the first time, you will see how this fallen dictator lived out his final days. It was a building that he built but with a far different decor.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: So he would be sitting here talking, I mean writing, and then on a very brief occasion talk to the two guards who were sitting out there.

PHILLIPS: What did the guard write about his final minutes before he went to the gallows?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: In the last ten minutes while he was waiting he asked the guard, he said, "I want to give you all my belongings. Please give those to the lawyer, and please tell my daughter" that he is going to meet God with a clear conscience and that he's going as a soldier, sacrificing himself for Iraq and for his people.

PHILLIPS: So even minutes before he was about to die, he still totally believed in what he did his entire life?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: There was never, as best we can tell, any inconsistency in his writings or his words that he was a soldier, that he was serving Iraq, that he was serving the people.

PHILLIPS: So this was the last photo that was taken of him.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This is the -- this is the last picture ever taken of Saddam Hussein alive that we're aware of.

PHILLIPS: Why is he so irritated? He looks angry.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He is angry. That's very perceptive. He actually is a guy that wouldn't normally look like that, but our guards noticed it. What had happened was the Iraqi guards had written his name on the back of this white board as if to take his picture in front of the words Saddam Hussein, and they had misspelled his name.

So, he turned to them and said, "I am Saddam Hussein."

And our guards, understanding what just transpired, went up, erased the board, said look, "We're going to give you the photo op, a photo, last photo. But we're just going to take that off the back." And then he stood at our request and had the picture taken.

This is the last thing that he ever read and was put up there actually for him. It's still up there. But it says, "And for you, punishment in life, oh man of understanding, if you believe."

PHILLIPS: That's the last verse of the Koran he saw before he died.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: That's right. That's exactly right. That's the last thing he saw. And then -- then he was swept away, and it's all history from there.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

PHILLIPS: And my full report tomorrow.

However, next hour, attached to his cell, a garden where he planted flowers and wrote in his journal and for the first time, you will hear some of those writings and poems -- Brianna.

KEILAR: Kyra Phillips there for us in Baghdad, thanks.

LEMON: Let's talk now about "Issue No. 1." The housing market is weak, energy supplies weak, factory orders weak; fears about the economy, well, that's strong. New home sales fell to a 13-year low last month. Plus, supplies of gas, crude oil, heating oil are lower than expected.

When it comes to items like fridges and washing machines, many of us, well, they just aren't buying them. Factory orders are down again.

And so are stocks. The latest reports take a toll on already- jittery investors. It's the economy, and it is "issue No. 1." You can see the Dow down there 125, 126 points.

Let's go straight to our senior business correspondent, Mr. Ali Velshi, in New York to give us some perspective on this -- Ali.

VELSHI: Why you got to be so negative?

LEMON: You know, I was reading that, Ali, and I was like, you know what? This is such a downer. Everything I said was bad, bad, bad.

VELSHI: Yes.

LEMON: Except, you know, I said the only thing that's strong are fears about the economy.

VELSHI: Well, welcome to my world, Don.

LEMON: Yes.

VELSHI: Welcome to my world. I used to be a fun guy.

Yes, this is the problem. We've got -- we've got all of the indicators suggesting something that most Americans already know, that high home -- low home prices, high interest rates, high inflation, high energy prices, all of that has contributed to a slowdown in the economy.

Now the good news here is that everybody seems to be agreeing with this. The Fed has taken a number of steps in the last several weeks to try and pump money into the financial sector and the economy. The Federal Reserve has been involved. The federal government has been involved. Hillary Clinton made a speech a few days ago about it. We've got the candidates involved.

And now interesting thing, May 2 is probably the next important thing that's going to happen. That's when those checks start going out to everybody, those stimulus checks. And so many people are banking on that happening.

I've been seeing report after report that suggests that most Americans, including our own polling, by the way, CNN/Opinion Research, that says most people are going to pay down debt or save that money. They're not necessarily going to go out and spend it. A very small proportion, probably less than a third, will actually put that money back into the economy.

Now Suze Orman, a personal finance expert, as you know, was -- was talking to Larry King last night, and she had some comments about this. Do we have those, Don?

LEMON: Yes, we do. I wanted to ask you about that, because I saw this. Everyone's going, you know what this stimulus package, the rebates, the rebates, the rebates.

VELSHI: Yes, that's what I'm saying.

LEMON: I'm sitting there watching Larry last night, and Suze Orman, who is very well respected as a financial person, had this to say. Let's listen to it, Ali.

VELSHI: Yes.

LEMON: And then we'll talk about it.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SUZE ORMAN, PERSONAL FINANCE EXPERT: It's the point of it, but it's a stupid point. They never should have passed that stimulus package. They never should continue to count on saving this economy, because again, the ordinary person out there is going to continue to spend. They can't continue to spend.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

LEMON: So what she's saying, and we didn't get the full effect of it. Can't continue to spend. She said they can't continue to spend. They have credit card debt. They have a car loan debt. They have mortgage debt.

Larry says, "You're saying the money -- you're saying take the money and pay the bills off?"

She says, "Yes."

VELSHI: Right. The government wants you to -- the government doesn't want you to pay your bills off, doesn't want to you save the money, doesn't want you to pay off credit. It wants you to go out and buy something that will create jobs and stimulate the economy.

Now, just less than an hour ago, President Bush was in Northern Georgia speaking to a group of small business people, came out and said that, as a result of these stimulus checks, the American economy is going to come roaring back stronger than it had ever been before. Now that just doesn't make sense right now. Whether Suze Orman is right, should they never have done this? I don't know. It is always easier to prop up a failing economy on the front end than on the back end once we start job losses.

But I don't know. A $600- to $1,200-check in this environment, where people are paying, you know, what they're paying for gasoline, what they're paying on their adjusted mortgage payments, where they can't go to their house to get extra money, because the value is not there, where inflation is up and the price of wheat has doubled, I don't know, Don. Is $600, $1,200 for the average person going to help? Talk to people you know who have families, who have kids, who have medical care. That money is not going to buy a new TV set or a new sofa or a new washing machine.

LEMON: Yes.

VELSHI: It's probably going to pay off bills.

LEMON: Pay off -- pay off bills or pay for essentials that you need.

VELSHI: Yes. That's right.

LEMON: Real quickly, would you say we're expecting to get what? Real quick? We're expecting to hear from whom?

VELSHI: Me?

LEMON: Yes, you.

VELSHI: Was it my outside voice?

LEMON: OK. I just want to make sure. OK. You were saying we were going to -- the president is going to...

VELSHI: The president has been speaking in Northern Virginia. He made those comments.

LEMON: That's what I'm talking about.

VELSHI: We'll get more of that to you a little later on once I've sort of digested everything he said. But that one caught my attention, that he said this economy is going to come roaring back.

It will, by the way, Don. Eventually, it will. The American economy always does come back. So for all the bad news that we get to deliver, one day I'll be back to being a fun guy and we will have good economic news.

LEMON: All right, Ali. And I'm being told also we're going to get that tape of the president speaking very shortly and get it to our viewers.

VELSHI: Good, Don.

LEMON: Ali Velshi, our senior business correspondent, we appreciate your perspective. Thank you, sir.

The economy, it is "Issue No. 1." And we'll bring you all the latest financial news all week at noon Eastern. It's information you need on the mortgage meltdown, the credit crunch and more. "Issue No. 1," 12 p.m. Eastern, only here on CNN.

KEILAR: The problems have piled up for a Missouri family. A horrible accident, a medical nightmare, loss of a companion. And now they are fighting Wal-Mart over a legal settlement. The world's biggest retailer wants its money. We'll tell you how it all unfolded.

LEMON: And also, Brianna, on the campaign trail, contentious issues that wouldn't go away. Hillary Clinton talks about Barack Obama's preacher problem as she confronts her own Bosnia problem.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

LEMON: It is 19 past the hour. A couple stories we're working on for you today here in the CNN NEWSROOM.

A breath of fresh air for a 2-year-old girl in Northern India. She's been rescued after 27 hours trapped in a narrow well and appears to be all right. Can you imagine that? The girl fell 45 feet into the well while she was playing.

A change in schedule for a lot of flyers. American Airlines is canceling 200 flights today to perform more detailed safety inspections. This after questions were raised about wiring on the ND- 80 model.

And street fighting is raging for a second day in Shiite strongholds in Iraq, including parts of Baghdad and the southern city of Basra. Iraqi and U.S. forces blame what they call outlaws squaring off in Shiite turf battles.

KEILAR: Let's take you now to Greensboro, North Carolina, where a town hall meeting with Barack Obama is under way, this ahead of the state's May 6 primary. John McCain earlier today in Los Angeles. Hillary Clinton's going to be in Washington, D.C., early this evening.

And we will continue to monitor Barack Obama's comments right here in the CNN NEWSROOM.

LEMON: And Brianna, you can imagine this Democratic battle for the White House isn't getting any less nasty, of course. As Hillary Clinton tries to get past bad memories of Bosnia, she wants to make sure no one forgets Barack Obama's controversial long time pastor.

And here's CNN's Dan Lothian.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

DAN LOTHIAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Senator Hillary Clinton jumped into the controversy over Barack Obama's former pastor with both feet.

SEN. HILLARY CLINTON (D-NY), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I think, given all we have heard and seen, he would not have been my pastor.

LOTHIAN: This comes a week after Obama gave his race week in which he condemned the words of Reverend Jeremiah Wright but not the man. Clinton, seemingly trying to deflect attention from her recent missteps, was critical of Obama's choice when asked what she would have done.

CLINTON: We don't have a choice when it comes to our relatives. We have a choice when it comes to our pastors and the churches we attend.

LOTHIAN: The Obama campaign was quick to fire back, spokesman Bill Burton saying, quote, "It's disappointing to see Hillary Clinton's campaign sink to this low."

All this happened on the day Clinton was trying to backtrack on this remark about a 1996 trip to Bosnia.

CLINTON: I remember landing under sniper fire. There was supposed to be some kind of a greeting ceremony at the airport, but instead we just ran with our heads down to get into the vehicles to get to our base.

LOTHIAN: But video shot that day seemingly contradicts her version of events. No one seems to be running or ducking, and there does appear to be a ceremony. Clinton says she was sleep-deprived and misspoke.

The question is, how will this impact her credibility?

JENNY BACKUS, DEMOCRATIC POLITICAL CONSULTANT: I think it could hurt her credibility, but what it, I think, hurts most is her claim that she is the candidate of more experience and that she has got more foreign policy experience and commander in chief experience than Barack Obama.

LOTHIAN (on camera): One other problem for Clinton: the more time she spends trying to clean up these missteps, the less time she gets to spend on message.

Dan Lothian, CNN, Philadelphia.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

LEMON: All right, Dan.

And all the latest campaign news is available at your finger tips. Go to CNNpolitics.com. We also have analysis from the best political team on television. That and more at CNNpolitics.com.

KEILAR: A fireworks warehouse blows up and dozens of buildings come down. Some extraordinary video there. We're going to have more on Dubai's morning blast and blaze.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(MUSIC)

LEMON: I have to work on my voice. The crew of the Space Shuttle Endeavour woke up to Andrea -- you got it, right? Everybody got it.

KEILAR: Because we were singing before. Singing before.

LEMON: That was, you know, Andrea Bocelli...

KEILAR: Yes.

LEMON: ... singing "It's Time to Say Good-bye" to space. The weather's looking good for a landing this evening in Florida. The shuttle commander says the ship's in great shape. The crew is relaxed. Can you tell? What is that, a jelly bean?

KEILAR: Looks like it.

LEMON: They're looking forward to coming home. The astronauts spent 12 days at the International Space Station, the longest visit by a shuttle. That is the longest visit by a shuttle.

On one of the five spacewalks, Robert Behnken used a digital camera to capture his role in the mission. Always great to see those pictures.

KEILAR: Always great. That's right.

One of America's biggest automakers is selling off two of its luxury brands to an overseas competitor to cut costs.

Susan Lisovicz is at the New York Stock Exchange. She is following this. And these two luxury brands, I mean, they're being sold for quite a deal.

SUSAN LISOVICZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT: That's right. We've heard a lot about fire sale prices recently on Wall Street. And this is one of them, Brianna.

Ford made a losing bet in buying the Jaguar and Land Rover brand. Now it's agreed to sell the two luxury carmakers to Indian carmaker Tata for more than $2 billion. That's less than half of what it paid for them in separate transactions.

The deal is part of a major restructuring at Ford that also includes the loss of tens of thousands of jobs. Ford says it will continue to make engines for the Tata Jaguars and Land Rovers for the next five to seven years, and it expects an annual profit of between $70 and $100 million on those sales alone.

But Ford has so many problems with higher gas prices and a bloated workforce force, a unionized work force at that, that it just -- it really needed to pare down. And pare down is what it's doing -- Brianna.

KEILAR: Let's talk about Tata Motors. What can you tell us about this company?

LISOVICZ: Well, it's not a familiar name to probably most of us here in the U.S., but it is a major automaker in the huge and emerging market of India.

The company made headlines, you may recall, in January when it rolled out the cheapest car in the world, the Nano, which costs just $2,500. My refrigerator cost a lot more than that car.

So now Tata is one your-stop destination for both high-end and very, very low-end vehicles.

KEILAR: Wow. I want to see what kind of refrigerator you have.

LISOVICZ: I knew you were going to ask that.

KEILAR: Ooh.

LISOVICZ: I'm renovating.

KEILAR: OK.

LISOVICZ: And I decided to go with sort of the Land Rover of refrigerators, if you know what I mean.

KEILAR: OK.

LISOVICZ: So I have made this joke, Brianna, that I'm going to kiss my refrigerator every day for about the next year, it cost that much. In any -- in any case -- yes, and I'll get my digital camera to shoot that, as well.

In the meantime, we're taking a look at Tata Motors shares that trade here at the NYSE, down 6 percent on the news.

Stocks in general also moving in reverse. Well, we've got a bunch of economic reports. Sales of newly built homes declined to a 13-year low, although they were a bit better than expected, if you can believe that. And orders for big-ticket items came in worse than expected, falling unexpectedly in February.

But it's renewed concerns about the credit crunch that's really weighing on stocks. Citigroup shares are falling nearly 6 percent. That's the biggest downer of the Dow 30. Oppenheimer cut its outlook for bank profits by 84 percent and said Citi will fare the worst.

So you see Dow is down triple digits; NASDAQ is down 27. Each of them, 1 percent -- Brianna.

KEILAR: All right. Susan Lisovicz there at the NYSE, thank you.

LEMON: All right. We said the president was going to be talking about the economy. And I said that with Ali Velshi. He is now. Let's take a listen.

GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: ... the tax code. And that's important because when he buys the machines or when he buys software somebody has to manufacture that. Therefore, there is a direct link between the stimulus package and jobs, as well.

And we talked about this earlier. A lot of the folks who work here at ColorCraft are going to get a check in the second week of May as part of the economic pro-growth stimulus package. And recently, there's been a mailer out to our citizens from the IRS, and this mailer basically describes the benefits from the stimulus package that people will receive.

One of the things that's very important for our citizenry to understand that is, if you do not file an income tax return, you need to go to your local IRS office and get a form that will show the government where you live and who you are so you can get your check. File an income tax form. All you got to do is, in your '07 income tax, mail it in.

But there are a lot of people eligible for this stimulus package, for money coming out of the government to our individual citizens, who don't file income tax forms, and yet they're eligible. And so I -- recently, the IRS has been indicating that this weekend, this Saturday, there's going to be a -- you know, there's an opportunity for citizens to go and make it clear who you are, where you live, so you can get your check, as well.

The purpose of this is to respond decisively to the economic downturn that we're going through. The Congress, along with the White House, worked very closely to pass a very substantial pro-growth package.

And I fully recognize that people are concerned about our economy, but they must understand that this package has yet to fully kick in yet. We've taken action, but it's going to take a while for the economy to feel the effects of this good law that I signed. It's going to take a while for these folks standing behind me to get their money.

Now, Jim's already made a decision, because the aspects of the stimulus package for small businesses are clear. It is the law. And, therefore, when he buys the equipment and software that he's planning on buying, he can rest assured that the tax incentive will be available for him in this year.

You know, small businesses are the backbone of the U.S. economy. Small business owners and -- you know, are dreamers and doers. And we want to -- we want to watch them and help them expand, because, as they expand, more and more people find work.

We're in a rough patch right now in our economy. And I'm confident, in the long term, we'll come out stronger than ever before. One of the most decisive actions the government can take is to get people their money back so they can spend it. And that's exactly what we've done.

And in the second week of May, a lot of folks are going to be getting a sizable check. And I'm looking forward to that day, and I know they are, as well.

Thank you for coming. Appreciate you having me. Thank you all.

LEMON: All right, President Bush. ColorCraft of Virginia is where he is, which is a printing company, obviously, Brianna, and that's your territory there, in the Washington D.C./Virginia area. Talking about the stimulus package that he says, with the rebates, that should help stimulate the economy but not everyone agrees with that.

KEILAR: Well, and part of it is rebates, but the other part of the economic-stimulus package is sort of an incentive for small businesses. In this case it's actually how you write off equipment, that small businesses can actually write off equipment, get their tax deduction more quickly. That's what he was really talking about with this owner of the company, that he bought more new equipment and it was going to benefit him.

LEMON: So we'll see. We'll see when those guys get their money back. Everyone likes to get a little free cash -- a little extra cash is a better way of putting it.

Let's move on, talk about the fight over money between Wal-Mart an the family of a former employee.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: My idea of a win-win, you keep the paperwork that says you won and let us keep money so I can take care of my wife.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

LEMON: A husband fighting a megastore over his wife's staggering medical bills.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(NEWSBREAK)

KEILAR: Let's back out now Greensboro, North Carolina, Barack Obama holding a town hall meeting there. Let's listen in.

(JOINED IN PROGRESS)

SEN. BARACK OBAMA (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Now, I have to say John McCain has admitted that he doesn't understand the economy as well as he should. And yesterday he proved it in a speech he gave on the housing crisis.

Understand, our economy is grinding to a halt. I mean, our financial system is locked down. Millions of people are at risk of losing their homes. If people foreclose in your neighborhood, that reduces your home values. People who had taken out home equity loans, they can't do it anymore. That means some of that debt is going on credit cards. People are stopping -- they're putting off purchases that they were going to make, and that means the businesses then have less -- fewer customers.

And this could be a big, big problem. It's already a big problem for those who had "for sale" signs in their front yard. It is already a problem for those who have seen their homes foreclosed on. But according to John McCain, he says that the best way for us to address the fact that millions of Americans are losing their homes is to just sit back and watch it happen. In his entire speech yesterday, he offered not one policy, not one idea, not one bit of relief to the nearly 35,000 North Carolinians who are forced to foreclose on their dream over the last few months. Not one. Not a single idea. Not a single policy prescription. Now we've been down this road before. It's the road that George Bush has taken for the last eight years.

The idea the government has no role at all in solving the challenges facing working families, that all we can do is hand out tax breaks for the wealthiest few, and let the chips fall where they may. George Bush called this the ownership society. But, what he really meant was you're on your own society. If you lose your job, you're on your own. If you're child in poverty, pull yourself up by your boot straps, you're on your own.

If you got lured in by deceptive mortgage practices, you're on your own. And, John McCain apparently wants to continue this. Whether the rest of America is struggling with rising tuition, rising health care costs, plant closings, or crumbling schools the answer is you're on your own. We can't afford another four years of Bush economics.

There is one thing that the crisis taught us, is that you can't have a thriving Wall Street and crumbling main street, because we're all connected. Our economy has to be the rising tide that lifts all boats. That's why I'll take immediate action as president to help struggling homeowners. We're going to help families and lenders rework existing subprime loans into affordable long term fixed loans.

We're going to create a home foreclosure prevention fund to help keep Americans in their homes. We're going to provide a mortgage tax credit to give homeowners relief. We're going to crack down on predatory lenders and mortgage fraud so that this stuff doesn't happen again.

John McCain may call helping struggling homeowners pandering, but I don't think the families in North Carolina who are losing their homes would see it that way. I think they expect their president to fight for them and that's what I intend to do when I'm President of the United States of America. Let me just close by saying this. We are going to have a lot of work to do. But have confidence that it can be done.

We have been in tougher times before in this country. This is a country that's been through civil war, world wars, slavery, Jim Crow, Great Depression, the Vietnam War, we've been through tougher times before. What's needed now is a government that is open back up to the American people so that decency and generosity of the American people can shine through. That's the kind of leader that I want to be. If you will stand with me, if you will vote for me, if you will organize on my behalf, then I promise you that we will not just win North Carolina, we will win this nomination, we will win the general election. You and I together will change this country, and we will change the world. Thank you, everybody. God bless you. God bless America. Thank you.

KEILAR: That was a town hall meeting with Barack Obama there in Greensboro, North Carolina, ahead of that state's May 6th primary. We just heard Obama attacking John McCain's view on the housing crisis. Basically McCain came out yesterday saying beware of the government really getting too involved in bailing out the mortgage crisis, saying it would be irresponsible to bail out large banks, as well as small borrowers.

This really highlighting the difference between John McCain, the presumptive Republican nominee, and the two Democratic candidates, Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton feeling more so that it is the government's responsibility to get more involved. So, just wrapping up that town hall meeting in Greensboro, North Carolina with Barack Obama.

LEMON: A Grammy-winning singer fights for his life in a Houston hospital. Who is the singer? And we'll tell you about the unusual technique they're using to try to save him.

KEILAR: Surgeons in Florida doing the unthinkable. Taking out six sick organs to remove a tumor and then putting those organs back. We're going to have the ground-breaking surgery that saved a woman's life.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

LEMON: Good music, huh? Doctors in Houston are ever so slowly raising the body temperature of Emilio Navaira, after dramatically lowering it. The Grammy winning Tejano singer has been under heavy sedation since Sunday when he suffered a severe head injury in a bus crash. CNN's Chief Medical Correspondent Dr. Sanjay Gupta himself a neurosurgeon looks at efforts to save Navaira's life.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

SANJAY GUPTA, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, it may seem a bit counterintuitive to actually lower someone's body temperature, make them hypothermic to try and treat this sort of brain injury. That's exactly what they're trying to do here. In fact, lower the body temperature to about 91.5 degrees. So, pretty cool there, at least seven degrees cooler than normal.

There is a lot of risks to hypothermia which is the big concern. It can cause blood clotting problems, it could cause cardiac arrhythmias. This are difficult things to treat in any body, but especially in a patient who has just endured this sort of trauma. But, the hope is here that -- they actually take this vest, and they put it on the patient to cool the skin down, it goes over the chest, it goes over the thighs and lowers the body temperature down pretty significantly.

The hope is that ultimately it sort of puts the brain to sleep. Makes the brain demand less from the rest of the body, in terms of blood flow, and that can do a few things. First of all reduce swelling, for example, which is very critically important, also prevent cells from dying in this crucial time period.

You got to do this within the first couple of hours after injury to prevent those cells from dying. And also, restoring communication between active areas of the brain. Now we have heard about hypothermia pretty recently as you may remember, with Kevin Everett the football player. He had a spinal cord injury of his -- cervical spine in the neck area, and he had hypothermic therapy.

He is walking today. It is unclear how much hypothermia actually led to his ability to walk. But, this is something that researchers are starting to study more and more. With regard to this particular patient, it is unclear how he is going to do. Doctors have put a number on it, they say 65 to 75 percent chance of survival.

But, the biggest predictor really here is making sure those pressures inside the head, what are called intracranial pressures inside the head remain low, remain normal. That's going to give him his best chance of survival. We'll keep tabs on it, bring it to you as details come forward. Back to you for now.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

LEMON: Doctors say if Emilio Navaira survives, if he does survive, this initial treatment, well, he still faces some very long odds.

KEILAR: Diagnosed with a rare cancerous tumor embedded deep in her abdomen, wrapped around her aorta, Brooke Zepp was told there was no hope. Well, that was ten months ago. Three weeks ago, she underwent ground-breaking surgery that involved removing, if you can believe, her stomach, pancreas, spleen, liver, as well as her large and small intestines. And these organs were put on ice, so to speak, while the surgeons cut away the tumor, then they re-implanted all of the organs.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BROOKE ZEPP, PATIENT: I'm feeling like I have a whole new life, like the world is just open to me now.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KEILAR: And the surgery at the University of Miami Transplant Institute, it took about 15 hours. Zepp hopes to go home later this week and our best wishes to her.

LEMON: Absolutely.

And make sure you mark your calendars because a week from tomorrow, well, it is World Autism Day -- World Autism Awareness Day, I should say. CNN will bring you a special report on autism at noon Eastern April 2nd.

And this weekend, CNN's "HOUSE CALL" with Dr. Sanjay Gupta is also exploring this issue. He goes one on one with the CDC and asks whether childhood vaccines are safe. That's Saturday and Sunday, 8:30 a.m. Eastern only here on CNN.

KEILAR: Breaking the ice in Antarctica -- a giant chunk gives way and another is basically hanging on by a thread. We're going to look at the cause and the effect here.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

LEMON: All right, we have some breaking news in to the CNN Center here in Atlanta. And this involves the very busy Northeast corridor, and we're talking about Amtrak service. This is according to our affiliate in New York, WABC, they're saying due to an Amtrak power supply problem on the Northeast corridor, there is no -- no Amtrak service between New York and Philadelphia, and New Jersey transit is currently experiencing delays of one hour on the Northeast corridor, North Jersey coastline, and Midtown direct service.

Here's a very interesting thing. It may not affect you in your area, but it affects a lot of people. Here, it is the busiest passenger rail line in the United States as far as ridership and service frequency.

We're also being told by our affiliate that the problem, a low voltage condition was first reported around 12:55 p.m. Eastern, not that long -- just about an hour ago. Amtrak crews are working to resolve the problem. And as they do that, affected trains currently on the Northeast corridor are being held at stations until the situation is resolved.

It also affects -- let's see -- New Jersey transit has established crossed honoring (ph) with path (ph) trail lines -- OK. So, they're working with New Jersey transit, they're working with the path trains, they're working with Newark, Penn Station, who have open terminals and whay have you to try to get this all back up and running.

But again, this is a huge problem between New York and Philadelphia. This is the busiest rail line in the country as far as passengers and as far as service frequency. We're going to try to get more information on this story which affects the entire Northeast corridor in just a bit.

Until then, as we work on that, we're going to take a break. Back in one moment.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

LEMON: All right, we have some breaking news in to the CNN NEWSROOM. Want to tell you about an Amtrak problem, really causing some havoc there in the Northeast corridor. We're told by our affiliate, WABC, and also the "Associated Press," that all Amtrak and New Jersey transit trains are idled between New York and Philadelphia. They're saying that it is a voltage problem. The voltage dropped on the Northeast corridor and according to Amtrak spokesperson Clift Cole, he says workers are trying to pinpoint the source of the problem. Big problem because this is the busiest rail line in the country as far as passengers and as far as ridership.

We're going to continue to follow this breaking news story in the CNN NEWSROOM.

The next hour of the CNN NEWSROOM, that starts right now.

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