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CNN NEWSROOM

Chopper Crashes in Northern California; President Bush Touches Down in Beijing; Fire Crews Man Western Wildfires; Jobless Claims Reach Record Levels

Aired August 7, 2008 - 09:00   ET

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


TONY HARRIS, CNN ANCHOR: And good morning, everyone. You are in the CNN NEWSROOM.
I'm Tony Harris.

HEIDI COLLINS, CNN ANCHOR: Hi, everybody. I'm Heidi Collins.

See events come into the NEWSROOM live on Thursday, August 7th. Here's what's on the rundown.

Fiery crash. Eight firefighters and a pilot feared dead in northern California. Live coverage.

HARRIS: Demanding religious freedom on the eve of the Olympics. American activist dragged away by plain clothes security in Beijing.

COLLINS: Was the missing British girl Madeleine McCann in this store? The shop owner tells us what she saw. New clues, in the NEWSROOM.

HARRIS: Your money, it is issue No. 1 here at CNN. And just in, new numbers that are sure to rattle the nerves on the nation's economy.

Minutes ago, we learned that jobless claims have jumped to their highest level in more than five years.

CNN senior business correspondent Ali Velshi is in New York to break all of this down for us.

Ali, good morning.

ALI VELSHI, CNN SENIOR BUSINESS CORRESPONDENT: Good morning, Tony.

We have something called the jobless claims, the weekly jobless claims. Once a month, we get the unemployment number, but every week, we get a record of the new -- you know, newly laid off people who are applying for jobless claims for the first time.

That number is just in. It is higher than expected, up by 7,000. So the number of claims now at 455,000. That's the highest level since March of 2002.

And while we don't always bring you this number, the relevance here is once it crosses 400,000 people on a weekly basis, that is yet another indicator of a very tough economy.

Now, as you and I have talked about, Tony, many times, the job is actually more important...

HARRIS: Yes.

VELSHI: ... than most of the other things out there, because without the job, you don't have the car to pay for extra gas, you don't have the house to heat, you know, you've really got to have a job first and that erodes consumer confidence a great deal.

Even if it's not your job that's lost, when you see these kind of numbers, that means you may know of someone or you may have some sense...

HARRIS: That's right.

VELSHI: ... that jobs are being lost, and you start to pull back further on your spending.

So that's -- had a bad effect on the futures trading this morning with trading set to open in about 30 -- 25 minutes from now. We've got the Dow futures pointing down almost into triple digits right now, more than 90 points lower as we speak.

HARRIS: So let me -- let me dare to go here. So we may not be in an overall recession and we know that there is growth in the overall economy. But come on, aren't we in a jobs recession here?

VELSHI: Yes. And to most people, again, some people take exception to when I say this. But if you are struggling and those in your community are struggling, your behavior is the same as it would be if you were in a recession.

HARRIS: Yes.

VELSHI: So fundamentally, yes, the jobs problem has always been the one that we have to watch out for. That's not what started this down trend.

HARRIS: Right.

VELSHI: Housing did, but this is what we have to watch out for.

Last week, unemployment higher, a number of people laid off higher. So we have to keep a close eye on this.

HARRIS: Thank you, Ali. See you in a couple of minutes.

VELSHI: Yes.

HARRIS: Thanks, man.

COLLINS: Also want to get this to you, because, boy, oh, boy, is it a nasty commute in Los Angeles. You are looking at a fuel spill that has forced the closing of all of the southbound lanes of I-5. And obviously, that is a main artery. This particular area, just north of downtown L.A. we're learning that, apparently, that truck there that you can see, its axle punctured its fuel tank and released about 150 gallons of diesel fuel across all five lanes of this -- again, southbound lanes of I-5.

It happened around 3:30 local time there, so -- according to the California Highway Patrol there hoping to have everything cleaned up ASAP. As you can imagine, traffic is tied up. For goodness sakes, I don't even know if we have a wide enough shot to show you how fat back. But they're hoping to have things open up again pretty soon here.

We'll keep our eye on that one for you. Again, I-5 shut down, southbound lanes this morning. Ouch.

Staying in California, a remote California forest, a search for bodies and answers this morning. Eight firefighters and a pilot are believed dead. Their helicopter crashed while shuttling crews battling a wildfire there.

CNN's Dan Simon in northern California, in the town of Weaverville.

Dan, what happened here?

DAN SIMON, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Heidi, we are at the command post, the crash site, about 20 miles away from here deep in the Shasta-Trinity Forest. And you can just imagine what that scene must have looked like with several firefighters on the ground who themselves were waiting to be picked up.

They witnessed the crash and rescued the injured. Their eyewitness accounts could be critical.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

SIMON (voice-over): The chopper had just picked up a group of firefighters from a clearing in a rugged California forest. It crashed in thick woods about 200 miles northwest of Sacramento then caught fire.

Other firefighters waiting to be picked up rushed to the scene. 13 people were aboard the chopper. Just 4 were pulled from the wreckage. They're the only survivors. The others are believed to have died in the fire that destroyed the helicopter.

Rescuers say just getting to the crash site was a treacherous effort.

SHARON HEYWOOD, U.S. FOREST SERVICE: This area is very difficult terrain. It is steep, remote, rugged and very difficult to access.

SIMON: The helicopter that went down is a Sikorsky S61N chopper, widely used to shuttle crews to and from remote fire lines. Officials from the FAA and the National Transport Safety Board are investigating.

Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff reacted to the news of the crash.

MICHAEL CHERTOFF, HOMELAND SECURITY SECRETARY: This (INAUDIBLE) is a great debt to the firefighters and everybody else who's out there protecting us day in and day out. And we hope that this season, which looks to be a tough season, will not cost us any more great lives.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

SIMON: The NTSB, the National Transportation Safety Board -- it is taking the lead in the investigation. And a couple of the questions that we'll be probing, the maintenance records for the helicopter, the experience level of the crew, do they have enough rest. And they'll also look to see if the winds may have suddenly changed, could that have possibly caused this helicopter to crash?

Four people rescued, three of them firefighters, one of them a copilot, all in serious condition, all have very serious burns -- Heidi.

COLLINS: Boy, oh, boy, what a horrible story. All right, Dan. We know that you're following it closely for us.

Thanks so much, Dan Simon, this morning in northern California.

Want to go ahead and update you now on the western wildfires that we've been telling you about for several weeks actually. Crews are now manning fire lines across several states.

According to the U.S. Forestry Service most of the fires are clustered in the northern California. At least 11 are burning there now.

In Wyoming, cooler temperatures and lighter winds have slowed the wild fire east of Yellow Stone National Park. More fires are burning in Washington, Montana and Idaho.

COLLINS: Reynolds Wolf standing by now in the CNN Weather Center to talk a little bit more about, I believe, once again, Reynolds, we're talking about more heat right where we are.

HARRIS: Yes.

COLLINS: The southeast. And boy, do we feel it.

(WEATHER REPORT)

COLLINS: Yes, it is obviously a really tough job.

WOLF: Yes.

COLLINS: Well, we appreciate all the work that they do.

Reynolds, thank you. WOLF: Anytime.

HARRIS: New evidence now, given a new push to the search for little Madeleine McCann. The focus, what police didn't reveal until now.

ITN's Kier Simmons traces the story to Amsterdam.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

ANA STAM, SHOP ASSISTANT: I was standing at the back, at the balloons.

KIER SIMMONS, ITN REPORTER (voice-over): Was Madeleine here seen momentarily by this shop assistant in Amsterdam? And how fully if police investigate?

STAM: And then she came in like this.

SIMMONS (on camera): Down the aisle there?

STAM: Yes.

SIMMONS, (voice-over): Ana Stam says a little girl appeared in her party shop with an unknown couple. She didn't know Madeleine had disappeared.

STAM: I wanted to give her a balloon, but she didn't want that. She only wanted her mommy, she said. And she said that these people took her from her mommy.

SIMMONS (on camera): Did she say anything else to you?

STAM: Yes. I thought she said at that time that she took -- they took me from my holiday. I asked her her name and I thought at first she said her name was Maggie. So I said, oh, Maggie, that's a nice name. And then she said, no, it's not Maggie, it's Maddie.

SIMMONS (voice-over): Madeleine McCann went missing on the 3rd of May last year. It was just days later in Amsterdam that Ana Stam claimed she spoke to a little girl who resembled Madeleine. But it was a month later when she realized the connection and she reported the possible sighting to Dutch police.

She was interviewed twice and the report was sent to Portuguese authorities on the 18th of June. It's not clear what action was taken. But Ana Stam has never been contacted by officers in Portugal.

SIMMONS (on camera): Did you hear anything from Portuguese police?

STAM: No. Nothing.

SIMMONS: Did you hear any feedback?

STAM: No, nothing at all. Never heard anything of them again. SIMMONS (voice-over): The sighting was one of many revealed in police files released this week. Those files show Portuguese detectives concentrated on Kate and Gerry McCann.

Did they miss other crucial leads?

Madeleine's parents think it's unlikely their daughter would have called herself Maddie, but Ana Stam's story is one of many they will now investigate.

CLARENCE MITCHELL, MCCANN'S SPOKESMAN: We're not saying we think this is definitely Madeleine. We just don't know. And this is one of the reasons they needed access to the police files just for this very sort of information. Frankly, they should have been aware of this over a year ago when it happened.

SIMMONS: Now many leads may be difficult to follow. The investigation into Madeleine's parents, making it harder to find their daughter.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

HARRIS: Well, the McCann's have hired their own investigators. A lawyer for the family says it will probably take more than a month to go through all of the newly released files.

COLLINS: An update on Caylee Anthony. She's the missing girl in Florida. For a fourth time, investigators have searched the Orlando home where the girl was staying with her mother and grandparents. They hauled away bags of evidence.

A producer for CNN's "NANCY GRACE" tells us about the next step in the hunt for the missing child.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

NATISHA LANCE, PRODUCER, "NANCY GRACE": They're going to search lakes and ponds in the vicinity of the Anthony home. According to a local resident that I spoke to earlier today, there are about three, at least three ponds in the area that they'll be searching, one that is just a few doors down from the Anthony's home.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

COLLINS: Caylee has not been seen since early June. Her mother is still in jail for allegedly lying to police. She did not report the girl missing for almost a month.

HARRIS: American activists tangling with Chinese security.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We have come here today to speak out against the human rights abuses of the Chinese government.

(END VIDEO CLIP) HARRIS: Silenced in Beijing on the eve of the Olympics.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

HARRIS: President Bush is now in Beijing. Touched down a short time ago. His visit comes after a heated verbal exchange between the president and China.

The Chinese government defending its policies and saying -- listen to this -- outsiders should not interfere.

The statement coming after President Bush criticized China for oppression and human rights issues.

The president speaking in Thailand before heading to China.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: America stands in firm opposition to China's detention of political dissidents and human rights advocates and religious activists.

We speak out for a free press, freedom of assembly and labor rights, not to antagonize China's leaders, but because trusting its people with greater freedom is the only way for China to develop its full potential.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

HARRIS: Bush is in China for the opening of the Olympic Games tomorrow.

COLLINS: New protests on the eve of the Olympics.

The scene in Tiananmen Square today American demonstrators kneeling on the ground. Playing close Chinese police cut them off using umbrellas to obstruct the cameras.

The Christian activists there to criticize a range of human rights issues, including what they call forced abortions and a banned religious movement.

Earlier the activists laid roses on Tiananmen Square in memory of those killed in the 1989 pro democracy protests.

HARRIS: The Olympics can be a magnet for dissent even among athletes.

Josh Levs, got a question for you, Josh.

JOSH LEVS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes.

HARRIS: What if Olympic athletes -- there you are -- decide to make a political statement during these games? It's something we've been talking about all week in our meetings. LEVS: It is. And you know what? This has been something I've been following for months. This is going to be drama. This is very, very interesting. I mean who gets more attention at the Olympics than the athletes? No one.

So big question heading into these games, will athletes use this as an opportunity to call for political or religious freedom in China? Will they make statements?

Well, this right here is what they all fall under. This is the Olympic Charter. And what I've done here is I've pulled up the key quote that everyone is talking about.

Let's go to this first graphic here that says, in the Olympic Charter, "No kind of demonstration or political, religious or racial propaganda is permitted in any Olympic sites, venues or other areas."

Now on top of that, the International Olympic Committee sent out a letter clarifying it saying, "The conduct of participants at all sites, areas and venues includes all actions, reactions, attitudes or manifestations of any kind by a person or group of persons including but not limited to their look, external appearance, clothing, gestures and written or oral statements."

One more thing -- let's go to this last graphic here they tossed on top of that -- as in all Olympic Games, such conduct must also, of course, comply with the laws of the host state.

You can hear in all that, folks, clearly there is a potential crackdown that they cannot come along, use an Olympic venue to make a political or religious statement.

Now Olympic officials have said, look, we're not trying to go out and sanction people. We're not in a rush to do that. And the head of the Olympics, several months ago, made a statement saying there's a reason why this is a good rule.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JACQUES ROGGE, PRES., INTL. OLYMPIC COMTE.: If we let athletes, or coaches or officials use the opening or the closing ceremony or the podium ceremony as a way to express these divides, this will be the end of the spirit of the Olympic Games.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

LEVS: So this is the backdrop for what we're about to see. Now I'll show you an article I noticed, quickly, in the "Washington Post" that says, in spite of rules, Olympic athletes say they won't lose faith.

This focuses on Sanya Richards and some other athletes who are saying they might -- if they win -- maybe get down on their knees at an event, praise god, make some kind of religious gesture. Is that against the rule? Can they get kick out? Who knows?

And a little historical perspective here, Tony, I know you're...

HARRIS: I hope you're going to '68.

LEVS: I am. Here it is.

HARRIS: You're going to -- there you go.

LEVS: Let's go in and (INAUDIBLE) a close in on this picture. There we are.

HARRIS: John Carlos, Tommy Smith, Mexico City.

LEVS: You know that very well.

HARRIS: Absolutely.

LEVS: They also remember -- I mean when they did that, it was a sign that they were supporting the civil rights movement. They also got stripped of their medals.

HARRIS: Yes.

LEVS: And you know, they were kicked out of the games at that point. It was very controversial. Some Americans said Olympics, they're not what that's for.

Obviously we're going to be keeping a close eye on this throughout the games, what do see at different times. And I want to show you that, in order to get the latest in the Olympic news at any time, you can just go to CNN.com. We have a special report right here, which is where I was going to go. There you go.

The Olympics, right there. And if you want to (INAUDIBLE) on the sports through all of this, go to this "Fan Zone" we have right here. There you go. CNN.com at the "Fan Zone."

We are going to stay on top of this literally 24/7 watching what protests do or do not happen in addition to the games.

HARRIS: Hello. Well, I'll tell you what. Can you pull up that shot again of Tommy, John Carlos...

LEVS: '68?

HARRIS: Let's go right there. There it is. I will tell you, there is not an African-American man of a certain age, in quotes here, who today is not very proud of that moment there in 1968. It was very controversial. You make the point exactly.

But I will tell you what. It still resonates for a lot of people to this day, Josh.

LEVS: It does, and that's why the conflict now...

HARRIS: Yes.

LEVS: ... is so important. People remember that all...

HARRIS: Yes.

LEVS: Forty years later, and we've got -- you know, this time taking place in China.

HARRIS: Yes.

LEVS: ... where Chinese laws and Olympic laws so...

HARRIS: And the price those two paid in their personal lives as a result of that statement.

LEVS: It's big.

HARRIS: All right, Josh. Good to see you. Thank you, sir.

LEVS: You got it. Thanks.

COLLINS: In preparation for the Olympics, athletes are being tested and checked for possible doping. Not everyone thinks the current standard is fair.

Joining us with more from Los Angeles now is CNN chief medical correspondent Dr. Sanjay Gupta.

Hey there, Sanjay.

DR. SANJAY GUPTA, CNN CHIEF MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: Good morning.

COLLINS: A new article in the journal "Nature" says that doping tests may carry risks for false positives. I feel like we've talked about this before. But when an athlete tests for -- positive for doping, what are the chances that they're innocent?

GUPTA: It's pretty muddy, I think is the conclusion here. I mean we have a certain expectation someone is tested, the test comes back positive or negative, and the person is either innocent or guilty as a result of that.

It is not nearly that easy. And that's the point of this "Nature" article that Dr. Donald Barry who wrote that -- that's what he's talking about. He says the science is just not conclusive enough to say that if some tests comes back positive that, in fact, the athletes doped.

Pretty remarkable statement. He gives the example of a story you and I watched pretty closely, Heidi, of Floyd Landis. He was stripped of his title as winner of the 2006 tour and told that he could not compete for two years.

Now the interesting thing about those overall tests, if you look at Dr. Barry's article, is that, overall, looking at all of his urine samples and all the tests, he probably had around a 34 percent chance of having a false positive rate. That is an extremely high rate. More than a third -- more than a third likelihood that the test would have come back as a false positive.

Now we did talk to people in the testing world and they say these are not perfect tests, they can see that. But they tend to err more on the side of false negatives, meaning there are probably people out there who are doping who will never get caught as opposed to people who don't dope who -- who are told that they have a positive test.

So it convoluted and muddy, for sure, Heidi.

COLLINS: Yes. Why is it hard, though, to detect doping in athletes? I mean I'm thinking about the other things that may show up. I'm aware of poppy seeds, like if you have a lemon poppy seed muffin and that can actually register -- what is it -- is it PCP or is it marijuana? I can't remember.

GUPTA: Well, right, exactly.

COLLINS: Something other than poppy seeds. Yes.

GUPTA: Yes, well, you know, part of the issue here is the tests are not perfect. I mean you have a, let's say, a 95 percent specificity and a 95 percent sensitivity. It's not perfect. The more you test, the more false positives and false negatives are going to start to be drawn out.

So you can see the problem right there. But also a lot of these designer drugs are designed with the idea of being undetectable. So, you know, it's very hard to test for them in the first place.

And then to your point, about poppy seeds, for example, sometimes you're testing for a metabolite of a particular substance, as opposed to the substance itself. It's true with testosterone, for example. So if you're testing for a metabolite, might one individual make more of the metabolite than another individual?

It is -- you know, it's very complicated, but it's not nearly as easy as, I think, a lot of people think. You test for it, it comes back positive or negative, and there's your answer.

COLLINS: Right.

GUPTA: It's really much more involved than that.

COLLINS: And real quickly, Sanjay, athletes, we know Dara Torres, the 41-year-old swimmer -- having their blood taken now and tested to avoid doping scandals that could come later. Does that help? Can that be more full-proof?

GUPTA: Well, you know, I think it can help to some extent. In her case, obviously, all those tests have come back negative or clean. But one thing that people should know is that the IOC, the International Olympic Committee, owns those samples for up to eight years afterwards. And if new tests are devised they can test for substances that they couldn't test for before, they can go back and use those tests on previously existing examples.

So you know, she's clean. She probably will stay clean, but they can go back for eight years and look at those samples.

COLLINS: Well, it's all fascinating and it all begins tomorrow.

CNN's senior and chief medical correspondent, Dr. Sanjay Gupta -- thank you, Sanjay.

GUPTA: Thanks, Heidi.

HARRIS: You know when times get tough, the tough outsource. Will Chrysler let a competitor build its sedan? "ISSUE #1" with the CNNMoney team.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

HARRIS: Toyota comes out on top on the fist half of this year beating out the competition in worldwide car sales.

Ali Velshi is "Minding Your Business."

Hey, Ali, but here's the thing, all the news is not good for Toyota, particularly when you look at some of the year-over-year numbers.

VELSHI: Yes. Well here's -- the biggest -- I mean, first of all, all the carmakers have...

HARRIS: Suffered, yes.

VELSHI: ... suffered in the last year because, you know, Europe and the United States were the biggest markets for cars and they have just been slowing down over the years. Toyota has another problem and that -- with the dollar sinking, when you translate that back into the yen, the yen is strong so there's a financial problem.

So Toyota has got profits down 28 percent in the quarter. But that's not the whole picture. Take a look at where their sales are up and down. They're up actually 24,000 units -- vehicles worldwide, 40,000 higher in Asia, but the losses are coming in North America and Europe.

HARRIS: Wow.

VELSHI: Down 3,000 in North America, 32,000 in Europe, and as a result, their profits have seen a drop of 4.7 percent.

Part of the problem there, by the way, is they can't sell enough of these Priuses. They just -- you know, there's a waiting list for them so people...

HARRIS: Yes. VELSHI: ... rather than waiting for them go and pick something else.

HARRIS: Got to ask you something. Well, I got two questions. I want to know -- you're doing a big radio show today. You've got -- how many shows do you have? So the radio show, give us a look at -- ahead to what you're doing on the radio show. We'd like to drive some folks to listen to you today.

VELSHI: Sure.

Now I want them to be watching you, but the thing about the radio show is they can call in...

HARRIS: Exactly.

VELSHI: ... and I'm as mentor or ask a question.

So Christine Romans, my esteemed colleague, and I will be doing this on CNN Radio. You can hear it at CNN.com or an affiliate radio station at 11:00 Eastern, and the phone number to call in is 877-266- 4189.

HARRIS: Terrific.

VELSHI: We're talking about these oil prices, they had it lower, these credit line changes that we've seen, whether it's time to buy a new home, and some of these fantastic new and creative airline fees that we've talked about, Tony.

HARRIS: And what happened to the Van Dyke? Or the -- now the circle beard doesn't sound as cool. What happened to the Van Dyke? What's up? You -- it -- you the man.

VELSHI: There you go.

COLLINS: Ali!

VELSHI: This is the one.

Heidi, do you like this one, too?

COLLINS: No. I like the new one.

HARRIS: You like this one?

COLLINS: I told you. I thought you looked hot. Now I don't know.

VELSHI: This one is much more -- this one is much more flexible. You see?

COLLINS: I don't know now. I'm over you.

HARRIS: All right. We're getting the (INAUDIBLE).

Good to see you, Ali.

VELSHI: See you later.

HARRIS: All right. Take care.

And welcome back, everyone, to the CNN NEWSROOM. I'm Tony Harris.

COLLINS: Hi, everybody. I'm Heidi Collins.

A new trading day on Wall Street getting under way right about now. And investors are grappling with some dismal economic and corporate reports.

Susan Lisovicz is at the New York Stock Exchange with a look at how that's planning out.

And Susan, you know we love to have you every day. But I do feel a bit like a broken record.

SUSAN LISOVICZ CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, we've heard this before. There are new concerns about the economy. That's why we expect a weaker open in about 15 seconds.

COLLINS: Yes.

LISOVICZ: The government said about an hour ago the number of people signing up for unemployment benefits rose to a sixth year high. 455,000 people files claims last week. Anything above 400,000 for many economists is a recessionary red flag. The four-week moving averages above 400,000.

So no surprise Americans are cutting back on spending. We're hearing from a whole lot of big chain stores. Wal-Mart, the 800 pound gorilla and that sector posting just a three percent increase in July sales. Weaker than expected. Wal-Mart shares right now were down four percent. And, well, right out of the gate, the Dow is off .5 percent as is the NASDAQ.

We're also hearing from lots of other retailers, mid-tier retailers missing estimates, as well. Limited brands, Pacific Sun wear, JCPenney, even Sachs says, you know, which is in the high ends, says its sales fell also.

Just to sort of complete these sort of bearishness in the market today, there are more signs of the credit crunch. Insurance giant AIG reporting its third straight quarterly loss. This is the value of assets related to mortgage-backed instruments continues to decline. Shares of IAG are down 12 percent. Oh, and oil, by the way, is up $2. So yes, we're seeing a triple digit decline in the first minutes of trading.

Just to recall, just a couple of days ago, we had a more than 300 point gain.

COLLINS: Yes, I know. And you know what, everybody is going to be saying that I was so dumb to be saying we should live in the past and go back to that positive 330 number that we close at. What was it? It was Monday, right?

LISOVICZ: It was Tuesday.

COLLINS: Tuesday.

LISOVICZ: Tuesday, yes. And, you know, basically -- you know, the 300 point gain, it was nice, but you know the market isn't trading in a range. It's just churning which is sort of retracing some of our losses. I mean, you know, there's lot of concerns out there and so we're still in the thick of it.

COLLINS: I hear you. All right, Susan, we'll talk with you again shortly. Thanks so much.

LISOVICZ: You're welcome.

HARRIS: The First Lady in Asia taking on an activist role urging the world to stand up to a repressive regime.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

HARRIS: It is one of the deadliest incidents for U.S. firefighters in the past 30 years. Boy, federal investigators were headed to the Northern California forest where helicopter crashed. Eight firefighters and a pilot are believed dead. Four other people were badly burned in the crash.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

GOV. ARNOLD SCHWARZENEGGER (R), CALIFORNIA: This is a tragic day for firefighters everywhere. And the people of California are profoundly aware of the tremendous sacrifices that those heroes and their families make day in and day out to keep us safe. We are praying for the swift recovery of all the victims and our hearts go out to their loved ones.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

HARRIS: Well, the crash site is deep in the Shasta Trinity National Forest. A couple hundred miles north of Sacramento. And one surprising element of this story, most of the firefighters worked for private company. The fire fighting contractor Grayback Forestry has been around almost 30 years. It works for government agencies such as the forestry service and private interest like lumber companies and landowners. Grayback's crews not only fight fires but also conduct controlled burns to reduce fire risks.

COLLINS: To presidential politics now. John McCain holding a town hall meeting this morning in a key swing state. Ed Henry with the campaign in Lima, Ohio.

Did I say it right, Ed?

ED HENRY, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: You absolutely did. It's Lima like the bean, not Lima, like Peru.

COLLINS: All right, we got it.

HENRY: People already lining up for this town hall meeting here in downtown Lima. John McCain obviously trying to give them what he calls straight talk. That's what helped revive him in New Hampshire when his campaign was in the dumps. And he's trying to test out a new message. He's trying to seize back the mantle of change.

You know, Barack Obama talks about and builds himself as the candidate of change. John McCain is trying to assert he's that guy.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

HENRY (voice-over): A new one-two punch from John McCain.

SEN. JOHN MCCAIN (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: The cost of everything is going up and in the face of this, Washington is on vacation.

HENRY: First, McCain is on the attack, charging government is broken and Barack Obama is too inexperienced to fix it.

MCCAIN: My opponent, Senator Obama, opposes both storage and reprocessing of spent nuclear fuel. He opposes offshore drilling immediately and he's out of touch.

HENRY: At the same time, McCain is trying to present a positive agenda, making the case he has better plans to improve the economy and solve the energy problem.

MCCAIN: We need to crack down on those who have abused our credit market and caused this housing decline. We need to take action to support American businesses so that we can stop jobs from going overseas.

HENRY: A tricky balancing act for McCain who may come across as too negative. He's walking that same fine line in a new ad that again charges Obama as a celebrity, but with a forward looking twist.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: He is the biggest celebrity in the world ready to help your family? The real Obama promises higher taxes, more government spending, so fewer jobs. Renewable energy to transform our economy, create jobs and energy independence, that's John McCain.

HENRY: This ad is toned down. No images of Paris Hilton that were in last week's ad and prompted so much outrage in the Obama camp.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

HENRY: But every time that McCain attacks Washington, Barack Obama points out McCain has been in Washington for 26 years. So the key for McCain is to try to restore that old reputation he had as the maverick instead of the Washington insider -- Heidi.

COLLINS: All right. We'll be watching closely. Thanks so much, Ed.

And Barack Obama is on the road, but out of the spotlight today. He heads to Chicago, but has no public appearances scheduled. Obama plans to travel to Hawaii this weekend for a little vacation before the Democratic convention coming up at the end of the month.

HARRIS: And she has spoken out against the repression in Myanmar. Today, First Lady Laura Bush met with some of the refugees forced from the country. It happened near the Thai border with Myanmar.

Our Dan Rivers was there.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

DAN RIVERS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Behind the smiles and music, Mae La is in viewed with a consuming sense of sadness. These are ethnic Karen refugees, who've poured into camps like this in Thailand for 24 years, escaping the brutal military regime of Myanmar formerly Burma.

First Lady Laura Bush and daughter, Barbara, were just a short drive from Myanmar, here to see first hand the terrible human cost of decades of war, repression and blood shed over the border.

These people make do here, but most can't leave. Effectively prisoners in this sprawling camp. They're taught English with the hope someday they'll be resettled elsewhere. And special lessons about how western society works. What qualifications they need for different jobs. Some make it out. This family has been given their resettlement documents, a paper meaning freedom. A new life to join family in Las Vegas.

LAURA BUSH, FIRST LADY OF THE UNITED STATES: Where are you going to go?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: South Carolina.

BUSH: South Carolina.

RIVERS: And this family of five is about to start over in South Carolina. More than 4,000 others have gone before them, but many more are left behind.

RIVERS (on camera): This is the first time Mrs. Bush has had a chance to see for herself the conditions in these camps. What is striking is not only the desperate poverty here, but the sheer scale. This one is almost like a mini-town.

(voice-over): And it's not just one, there are eight other camps nearby with 140,000 people. All trying to escape the ruling junta led by this man, General Than Shwe.

He ordered the bloody repression of monks and democracy campaigners last September, and delayed vital international aid after the devastating cyclone Nargis in May. And he's left democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi under house arrest for years. Laura Bush says sanctions are the best way to change that.

BUSH: As you know, there are number of U.S. sanctions directed specifically at General Than Shwe and his cohorts.

RIVERS: Mrs. Bush finished her tour at the clinic which deals with the devastating impact of millions of land mines, a terrible legacy of the past, but the future for many of these refugees is also bleak. A generation we've known nothing but the inside of a refugee camp.

Dan River, CNN, Mae Sot, Thailand.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

COLLINS: A federal agent gunned down outside a Florida post office. Police say they've got their man.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

COLLINS: Police in South Florida say they have their man in a killing outside a busy post office. James Wonder apprehended yesterday after SWAT team surrounded a shopping center in Pembroke Pines. He's charged with first degree murder. Hundreds of police and at least two black hawk helicopters look for him. Police say Wonder shot and killed a federal customs agent during a fight in the post office parking lot.

HARRIS: CNN bringing you more of what the presidential candidates are saying in their own words. Part of our commitment to help you make an informed choice on Election Day. Here is John McCain talking to supporters in Jackson, Ohio, about energy and the economy

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MCCAIN: Energy prices are too high. We're losing jobs. Our housing market is on the decline, and the cost of everything is going up, and in the face of this, Washington is on vacation. In the face of a severe energy crisis, the Congress decides to go on a five-week vacation.

When I'm President of the United States, I will call the Congress back into session and tell them to act and not to leave town, to take their vacation or their pay raise until they address this energy crisis. And now is the time for action.

We need an "all of the above" plan to address our energy crisis with alternative energy, drilling and nuclear power. That means drilling here, drilling now in the United States of America and off the United States of America's coast.

Everybody knows that drilling is a very vital part of bridging our gap between our dependence on foreign oil, which is transferring $700 billion a year to countries that don't like us very much, and we have the resources to be explored and exploited and we could obtain some of the benefits of that within months. My opponent, Senator Obama, opposes both storage and reprocessing of spent nuclear fuel. He opposes offshore drilling immediately, and he's out of touch.

And we need to take action to support American businesses so that we can stop jobs from going overseas and create more jobs here at home. America has the second highest business rate in the entire world. It's any wonder that jobs are moving overseas. We're taxing them out of the country.

Unfortunately Senator Obama's plans would raise taxes on businesses even more. He's promised tax increases on income, tax increases on investment, tax increases on small businesses. That's exactly, exactly the wrong strategy. Raising taxes in a bad economy is about the worst thing you can do because it'll kill even more jobs, and what we need are policies that create jobs.

What we need today is an economic surge. Our surge has succeeded in Iraq militarily. Now we need an economic surge to keep jobs here at home and create new ones. We need to reduce the tax burden on business that choose to make their home in the United States of America.

We need to open new markets to U.S. products and we need to reduce the cost of health care and we need to end the out of control spending in Washington that's putting our debt on the backs of our children. And now is the time for action. And when I am president, we are going to get it done.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

HARRIS: Senator John McCain in his own words.

COLLINS: Barack Obama also speaking out about the nation's energy crisis and what he'll do about it. Here is the senator now, unfiltered, talking to supporters in Elkhart, Indiana.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. BARACK OBAMA (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: If you need one more example with what's wrong with our energy policy or George Bush's policies in general, there's a new report today some of you may have read in the newspaper.

Iraq has been getting a windfall because of rising oil prices. They have a $79 billion budget surplus. At a time when we're spending $10 billion a month in Iraq, they've got almost $80 billion that's not being invested in services for suffering Iraqis or reconstruction. Some of this money is sitting in American banks in New York on Wall Street, collecting interest, while you, the taxpayer, are paying for reconstruction efforts in Iraq.

That's why we've got to bring about fundamental change. Because if we're going to solve the problems of the American people, then we've got to have somebody in Washington who is fighting for the American people and listening to the voices of the American people and that's why I'm running for president of the United States of America.

(APPLAUSE)

I know that Senator McCain likes to call himself a maverick, and the fact is there have been times where, in the past, he did show some independence, but the price he paid for his party's nomination has been to reverse himself on position after position, and now he embraces the failed Bush policies of the last eight years.

The politics that helped break Washington in the first place, and that doesn't meet my definition of a maverick. You can't be a maverick when politically it's working for you, and then not a maverick when it doesn't work for you, and you're seeking your party's nomination.

By the way, while we're on the subject of Senator McCain contradicting himself. A few days ago, somebody asked me what they could do personally to help America save energy. So I said something that some of you have heard, which is all of us could get better gas mileage, and save oil in the process just by keeping our tires inflated. Turns out the experts agree. Turns out that we could save three to four percent on our total oil consumption just by keeping our cars tuned up and inflating our tires.

Senator McCain and the Republican National Committee, though, mocked the idea. They've been going around sending tire gauges to reporters saying 'Barack Obama's Energy Plan.' Well, that sounded clever, except, last night, after all that, Senator McCain actually said he agreed that keeping our tires inflated was a good idea.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

COLLINS: Senator Obama in his own words.

HARRIS: OK, here's one that will absolutely creep you out.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I woke up at 3:00 this morning, and, you know, doing the get-the-worms-off-of-me thing.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

HARRIS: Oh, men, can you imagine? An army of worms closing in on homeowners.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

COLLINS: Protecting your eyes against cataracts. Elizabeth Cohen reports on what you can do in your 30s, 40s, and 50s.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

ELIZABETH COHEN, CNN MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: Jeanne Woods never goes outside without her sunglasses ever since she was diagnosed with cataracts. In her early 50s, she make sure her eyes are protected. JEANNE WOODS, CATARACT PATIENT: I experienced blurring of vision problems driving at night.

COHEN: She didn't expect to develop them so early in life.

WOODS: I was a little surprised I had some prior surgeries and that that gave me a predisposition to early cataracts.

COHEN: A cataract is clouding of the eye's crystalline lens. When we're born, the lens is clear. As we age, it begins to cloud up producing a cataract.

DR. MARGUERITE MCDONALD, OPHTHALMOLOGY, NYU: Cataracts usually grow very slowly throughout life.

COHEN: Although cataracts primarily affect older people, eye doctors say younger people are becoming more susceptible. There are a number of reasons, including too much sun exposure, diabetes, radiation, even trauma.

In your thirties, the best way to prevent cataracts is to wear sunglasses to protect the eyes against the sun's rays.

MCDONALD: Really the only effective thing you can do to retard the formation of Cataracts are to wear UV blocking sunglasses and to put a UV blocking clear coating on your regular glasses.

COHEN: Don't like sunglasses, wear a hat or anything with a brim to keep the sun out of your eyes. And check your family history. If you have cataracts in the family, make sure you get yearly eye exams to check for cataract growth.

In your forties and fifties, diabetes is one of the main causes for fast forming cataracts. So watch what you eat and exercise. Both can keep you from developing type 2 Diabetes. And talk with your family doctor about the drugs you taking. Certain Prescriptions can cause problems.

MCDONALD: Medications can give you early cataracts, especially steroids.

COHEN: So, when you have your eyes examined, make sure the eye doctor knows about all the drugs you are taking.

Elizabeth Cohen, CNN, Atlanta.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

HARRIS: Eight firefighters feared dead in a California helicopter crash. Most work for private country. Our contract firefighters common place? May be your town is using them. We're looking for answers.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

HARRIS: They're creepy, crawly and invading a California subdivision. We're talking about army worms. Look at this! Hundreds of thousands of wiggly worms all across the landscape there, in the yards, onto homes, and if you're not careful, in your shoes

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Oh, there's one on me! It bit me.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

HARRIS: Well, the worms are actually caterpillars attracted to an alfalfa field that was not sprayed with pesticides.

Oh, men.

COLLINS: Oops. Good morning, everybody. I'm Heidi Collins.

HARRIS: And I'm Tony Harris. Stay informed all day in the CNN NEWSROOM. Here's what's on the rundown.

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