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Fort Hood Memorial Service; Washington D.C. Sniper Execution; The Important Role of Chaplains at Military Posts; Connecting the Dots That May Have Led Hasan to Kill; Tracking Ida; Thousands of New Job Cuts Being Announced Today; What the Rising Price of Gold Means
Aired November 10, 2009 - 10:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
HEIDI COLLINS, CNN ANCHOR: We begin this hour now with breaking news. A hostage situation at a high school in the town of Pine Plains, New York. An adult gunman has been holding a principal hostage for more than two hours.
Town supervisor Greg Pulver is at the school and he is joining us once again on the phone now with an update. Greg, what do we know at this point?
GREG PULVER, PINE PLAINS, N.Y. TOWN SUPERVISOR (via telephone): We know that we want parents to go to (INAUDIBLE) parking lot, which is in the center of town at the restaurant. They'll get updates on (INAUDIBLE) the plan that the police are putting in place.
COLLINS: OK. Hey, Greg. Sorry for the interruption. I'm just hearing in my ear that we have been able to confirm here at CNN that the suspect is now in custody. Are you aware or do you know anything about that?
PULVER: We just learned that here at the command post that he is in custody. He's given himself up with no gunshots fired.
COLLINS: No gunshot fired. Well, thank God on that. Very, very good news, especially because...
COLLINS: Go ahead.
PULVER: The students are safe. Staff are safe. We have a good outcome to this. The police were exceptional in this case. No doubt about it. They did a great job.
COLLINS: Yes. Because we should just remind everybody quickly here the story in case they're just hearing it for the first time. This whole thing started happening at the beginning of the day. There were already students in there. You were telling us earlier, possibly as many as 600 people. About 500 kids, 100 staff and then one of the two principals taken hostage by this gunman that not quite sure if you know anything about the individual yet. I assume it's too early.
PULVER: Yes, it's too early. He was a graduate of the school or I should say he attended the school in the '80s. I don't know if he graduated. There are some -- as you can tell a lot of stories going around. I don't know any that can be confirmed at this point why he did it.
COLLINS: All right. Of course. All right. Well, Greg, we sure do appreciate you helping us out with this. Greg Pulver, Pine Plains. Thanks so much.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
COREY CHIODO, VICTIM'S GRANDSON: I was angry. I think everybody was angry and confused about what happened and why it happened. I mean, now we're just trying to get through it and it will take a while. I'm sure it's not going to hit us for weeks or months because right now there's just so much going on. But it was tough when I found out. It was tough on everybody.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COLLINS: An Army post in mourning. The commander in chief saluting those who died far from the battlefields. Today a memorial service to remember the 13 people killed last week at Ft. Hood in Texas. President Obama will meet with the victims' families and talk to the soldiers wounded in the rampage. He will also speak at the afternoon gathering.
Some 3,000 people will attend the memorial service and CNN will carry that live for you. There are also new developments in Major Nidal Hasan, the Army psychiatrist accused of the shooting spree. We're going to have those details for you in just a moment.
We begin this hour though focused on the victims and their grieving families and comrades. CNN's Ed Lavandera is joining us from Ft. Hood this morning to talk a little bit more about that. Ed, we already know clearly this is going to be a very emotional day for the Army family at Ft. Hood.
ED LAVANDERA, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, absolutely, Heidi. And as the Lieutenant General Bob Cone said yesterday here, this memorial service is one of their traditional memorial services that they have carried out all too often over the last eight years but they say that this is one of the crucial steps in the healing process and of course, this done under much different circumstances.
Many of those memorial services are done on small scales. This is a massive scale memorial service that will be held here today at Ft. Hood. President Obama, Secretary of Defense Gates, and many other dignitaries from Washington will be flying in today. But as Lieutenant General Bob Cone said yesterday, most importantly will be all of the families of the victims who died last Thursday as well as many of the wounded soldiers that will be here as well that are already out of the hospital.
There's still about eight or so at last count we had that are still being treated in hospitals. It's unclear how they will be able to -- it doesn't appear that they'll be able to make it to this memorial service. But obviously a great deal of attention and they say that this is one of the first steps in the healing process for these folks. COLLINS: Yes. Absolutely. Ed, those steel containers that we've seen being set up at the memorial site. What are those for?
LAVANDERA: It's interesting. The steel containers were brought in last Sunday and they essentially created a massive wall around the memorial service area where this will be held. Officials at Ft. Hood say it's done for two reasons.
LAVANDERA: Obviously with the president here, the security concerns with the president here.
COLLINS: Sorry, Ed. Forgive the interruption. I want to take everybody to the Senate floor where there's a moment of silence for the victims of Ft. Hood at this very moment.
COLLINS: Once again, we saw just moments ago Harry Reid that you see now indicating that he would like to have a moment of silence when the Senate convened this morning.
Once again, for the victims at Ft. Hood. Ed Lavandera, so sorry to have to interrupt. I just wanted to make sure that every body was able to see that today. Because we're going to see moments of silence happening. I think for a long time and all of the people thinking about what happened there where you are. Go ahead and finish your thought if you want to about the silver containers, Ed.
LAVANDERA: Yes, I was getting -- kind of a good time as well, spent some time speaking with a colonel by the name of Cathy Platoni. She is a clinical psychologist and she had been brought here and her unit had been brought here. She's part of the 467th medical detachment from Wisconsin.
And they were brought here and one of her unit suffered severe wounds and many wounded in last Thursday's attack and it was interesting. This colonel is a clinical psychologist, obviously, interesting background given the situation that we're dealing here with but she had left the room just 10 minutes before Hasan allegedly initiated this gun attack last Thursday.
And the story she told -- we spoke with her at length last night -- amazing stories about her wounded soldiers who have already been treated and released and they're back into duty getting ready for the deployment heading to Afghanistan perhaps sometime in December so we wanted to share a bit of that interview with you.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
COL. CATHY PLATONI, U.S. ARMY: A lot of our soldiers were ripping off their shirts, shredding them into pressure bandages. We threw computers on the floor and grabbed tablecloths to use as blankets and went running for water. I was not the hero in this. I saw tremendous heroism in our soldiers rendering the best medical care you could get under the circumstances without any supplies. It was just amazing. Everybody helped. Everybody did whatever they could even if that meant holding hands, telling people to hold on, we're getting the ambulances. We'll get you medical care. You're going to make it. Putting pressure on their wounds. Just talking them through it. It was extraordinary.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
LAVANDERA: And Heidi, amazingly, as Colonel Platoni told us yesterday that one of her soldiers had suffered, basically a forearm shattered with gunfire, other have abdomen and stomach wounds. And over the last few days they've been showing up for their morning formations and carrying on essentially as if nothing had happened preparing for the deployment next month. Heidi.
COLLINS: Oh, boy. It's just incredible. All right. Ed Lavandera for us out in front of Ft. Hood, Texas, today. Thanks, Ed.
I just to remind you too, CNN's special live coverage of the Memorial at Ft. Hood begins today at 1:30 Eastern. That will include remarks from President Obama. If you are away from your TV, you can watch the full memorial coverage on cnn.com/live.
Now let's turn to the investigation for the moment. Investigators do say Major Nidal Malik Hasan will be charged by the U.S. military rather than in a civilian court. They say it appears he acted alone and without any outside direction. He did though communicate with a radical cleric overseas as many as 20 times. They say those communications appeared innocent.
Nearly one year ago the FBI began looking at the accused gunman before deciding he did not pose a threat. The FBI now says it will conduct an internal review of the bureau's handling of that information.
For John Allen Muhammad, these are what could be the last hours of his life. He's set to be executed in less than 11 hours for masterminding the D.C. sniper attacks. Do you remember that time back in 2002. Three weeks of terror where 10 people were killed.
CNN's Jeanne Meserve talked with one man who hopes Muhammad will be spared.
JEANNE MESERVE, CNN HOMELAND SECURITY CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): John Muhammad is slated to die by lethal injection today at 9:00 p.m. Eastern.
(on camera): What will you be doing Tuesday night?
REV. AL ARCHER, FORMER DIRECTOR, LIGHHOUSE MISSION: I can tell you what I'll be thinking about but I can't tell you what I'll be doing. I'll be thinking about John. I'll be thinking about John's family. Because I hurt for those children. It breaks my heart to think what they have to face not just immediately but as life goes on. MESERVE (voice-over): Reverend Al Archer got to know the children and John Muhammad in 2001 when they stayed at the mission for homeless people he ran in Bellingham, Washington. Muhammad was polite and hard working. Almost too perfect says Archer.
Archer was disturbed by Muhammad's unexplained absences and after he lost custody of his children, the peculiar relationship he had with the young man named Lee Malvo. As Archer has learned more about Muhammad's troubled military career, his abusive marriage, his abduction of his children, his trading in fraudulent documents, the sniper killings, Archer formed a strong opinion about his punishment.
(on camera): How do you feel about this execution?
ARCHER: I think that John Muhammad is a typical case of untreated mental problems, and I'm very opposed to mentally deficient people being executed.
MESERVE (voice-over): Archer believes the sniper shootings might never have happened if military, law enforcement and mental health systems hadn't missed red light warning signs about John Muhammad. Muhammad killed 10 people during the sniper spree. He has never admitted his crimes. He has never expressed remorse. But Reverend Archer has forgiven John Muhammad.
(on camera): Is there anything you would like to say to him?
ARCHER: I love you. Don't love the things you did.
COLLINS: Wow. CNN's Jeanne Meserve joining us now to talk a little bit more about this. Jeanne, you are at the prison where Muhammad is scheduled to be executed. How are we expected things to unfold?
MESERVE: Well, there is a clemency request that's been made to Virginia's governor Timothy Kaine. He signaled but hasn't officially said that he's not going to grant that clemency request. We expect then that Muhammad's first wife, Carol Williams, and their son, Lindbergh will pay a visit to the prison this afternoon.
Muhammad will have his last meal and then shortly before 9:00 tonight, he will be brought into the death chamber here at this facility. IVs will be put in both of his arms. And he'll be given three drugs. The first will put him to sleep. The second will stop his breathing and the third will stop his heart. He should be dead within minutes. Heidi.
COLLINS: They're telling me. Did you went to meet John Muhammad himself, Jeanne?
MESERVE: I did. After his conviction, I wrote to him in prison and said I'd like to get an on-camera interview. He wouldn't talk to me on camera but we sat down in a room, just the two of us and we talked for about an hour. He didn't want to talk about the crimes. The only thing he'd say is that I'm not going die for the crimes I didn't commit.
He spent a lot of time playing with my mind. We talked about Albert Einstein, Isaac Newton and he was sort of testing me as we went along to see if what I knew and if I remembered what he told me. And that was an unusual experience and I couldn't help but wonder what the young Lee Malvo had done in this sort of conversation with him.
He also asked me to bring a woman to the prison for him to meet. It's a woman who we never heard of before through the trial. Of course I told him I wasn't going to do this for him. But we did try and figure out who she was and what her connection was to John Muhammad and the crimes. We never were able to find her or figure that out.
COLLINS: Strange. All right. Well, boy, Jeanne Meserve covering the story for us throughout the day here for CNN. Thanks so much, Jeanne.
Not a knockout punch by any means but tropical storm Ida did smack the Gulf Coast as expected this morning. The storm making landfall before dawn near Mobile, Alabama. But it's already being felt across much of the deep south where it poses a serious flood threat. We'll have more on that in a moment.
But first, I want to check in with meteorologist Rob Marciano. He is in Pensacola, Florida. Rob, we know now, it's not even a tropical storm anymore. A tropical depression. But boy, the waves where you are still obviously pretty high.
ROB MARCIANO, AMS METEOROLOGIST: Yes, winds and waves have actually gotten worse in the last few hours as tropical storm Ida or what she once was made landfall early this morning just to our west. Skies actually brightening. This storm becomes extra tropical meaning more like a November storm than a hurricane. All the rain and a lot of the wind has been displaced to the north and east of the center.
What we're left with is a lot of these waves. The storm surge, by the way, got to about right here last night with high tide even though the winds are now onshore, which would typically be the push for the surge, the astronomical tides are pulling the water offshore. So I don't think we'll see much more of a surge than we've already seen. We will continue to see this battering waves to eat away at these beaches a little bit. You got to see this black fence line here. That's here to kind of keep the sand on the beach.
Not only do we have sand being ripped off the beach by water but sand being pushed beyond the beach and onto the roadway from the wind. So that's an ongoing issue. Winds from this thing gusted to 40 or 50 miles an hour for a good six to 12 hours and because it's weakening and then kind of wrapping around Pensacola, it will be a good six, 12, maybe 18 hours before conditions really start to wind down here in the Florida peninsula.
But I tell you what, you talk to the people around here and they're just kind of amazed that we've got a tropical storm this late in the season. It has happened but I think the last time, Heidi, was 1988 where we had a tropical storm make landfall and usually they are further south in Florida than the Florida panhandle.
In 1985, Hurricane Kate made landfall just not too far from here. So we're talking about 20 years. I mean, odds are pretty high and then you're also talking about an El Nino year where we've had a pretty quiet hurricane season. So extremely, extremely unusual to get this storm here. I know -- I'm sure that Jacqui and later Chad will talk about flooding threat further in. The rain has since stopped. The skies are actually brightening just a little bit.
There have been sporadic power outages, yes. A couple of roads and localized flooding but all the bridges were open. The only thing that's going to completely shut down other than schools, kids getting an extra day off, the Coast Guard has shut down the ports from vessels going in and out until things calm begin to calm down because the surf obviously is pretty nasty.
That's and angry looking Gulf of Mexico. Regardless of what you call this storm, it has definitely churned up good here. Not even the hardiest of surfers getting out there just yet. So pretty rough water for sure with this very unusual tropical system making landfall earlier this morning along the north Florida, Gulf coast line.
COLLINS: Yes, wow. Boy, it's definitely extremely roughly out there. OK. Rob, thanks so much. Sure do appreciate it. And we want to check in with Jacqui Jeras a little bit later with a look at how the storm will affect the rest of the country.
Meanwhile, a former president passing on lessons learned. Bill Clinton goes back to Capitol Hill today.
COLLINS: Senate Democrats getting a health care lesson with their lunch today. Bill Clinton will be talking with caucus members at their weekly luncheon. Democratic leaders hope members wavering on reform will pay close attention to the president's expected message, one delivered from his own experience, failed to pass healthcare. And risk losing control of Congress.
Right now, a quick check of the big board. You see Dow Jones industrial averages up now by about 23 points or so. A lot of people, I'm sure hoping of a repeat of yesterday when the Dow ended the day, up by about 203 points. That was fun and exciting. We hope it continues.
Meanwhile, a green light on the street. The Dow began today as you probably saw at its highest level in a year.
CNN's Christine Romans is joining us now to explain the why behind the buy but first Christine, I know we have some housing numbers to get. Do we have good news on that or no?
CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN BUSINESS CORRESPONDENT: We do. I mean, in the housing market you're seeing median home price rise in most of the metro areas. Something that's very rare for us to say for two quarters in a row, you've seen home price creep up. This is the value of your biggest asset and it's been under assault over the past couple of years. The median home price now in this country, Heidi, $177,900. That's up $7,000 from the prior quarter.
So when you look at beginning of the summer, spring and summer, to middle of the summer and fall, you've seen home prices gain $7,000. Still though when you compare it with a year ago, home prices are down 11 percent from a year ago that suggests a little bit of stabilization here in the near term for a variety of reasons but probably mostly that home buyer tax credit.
COLLINS: OK. Yes, probably. All right. So now why did the Dow go up so much yesterday? And is it going to happen again today?
ROMANS: Well, you know, a lot of people thought the Dow would stumble this morning. It didn't. It's up another 23 points, which is a 13-month high. Here's what's happening. You have a wall of money coming into the market. You have global stimulus. Countries around the world pumping money into the system to prop up their economies.
This money is, as many people say, fighting its way into all of these markets. It's going into commodities. It's going into the stock market. The stock market now at a 13-month high. You look at gold, gold above 1,100. Oil also going up. You have seen this post- crisis surge as there's been this rush into stocks and gold and hard commodities and coming out of the dollar.
There's been this post-crisis decline of the dollar as this fear and this safety play, you know, is going away and we're getting back to pre-crisis levels for the dollar. The dollar down, you can see from there, down seven percent versus the euro this year and now takes $1.50 to buy a euro. Why, I don't know, usually when you have a weak dollar people get concerned about what that means about the direction of your country.
But this doesn't seem to be the concern in Washington right now. Here's why. The idea here is that this has been a slow gentle move. That it's making our exports cheaper. That's helping the big multinational companies sell more. U.S. products overseas. And that's helping to maybe balance out -- try to balance out a little bit more and help out our exports.
So at least for the time being, Washington isn't concerned about the weak dollar. But there are some very interesting relationships post-crisis relationships that have been playing out in the markets. The question is, you know, do they continue? And the bears for stocks, for months have been saying, you know, look, you have unemployment that's going top 10 percent. How can you have a stock market going up so much? But it is and it hasn't slowed down.
COLLINS: Yes, it's just weird. Absolutely. All right. Christine, we'll continue to watch.
ROMANS: That's a technical term from Heidi. It's just weird.
COLLINS: It is. That is my technical term for the markets. Absolutely. All right. Christine, thank you. An NBA star is diagnosed with a form of cancer. We'll tell you what he's doing about it right here in a moment.
COLLINS: NBA hall of famer Kareem Abdul-Jabbar is being treated for a rare form of leukemia. He was diagnosed last December. Now he wants to use the opportunity to call attention to the deadly blood cancer.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JOHN ROBERTS, CNN ANCHOR, "AMERICAN MORNING": You were very private about this since December of last year. I had no inkling when we spent the afternoon together recently that you had this. Why did you decide to come out and make this public?
KAREEM ABDUL JABAR, NBA HALL OF FAMER: Well, I think that someone in my position who gets public attention can do a lot of good because a lot of people are faced with this condition and they think it's a death sentence. I know for myself, I had a very good friend who died just three or four years ago from a different type of leukemia. But when that happened, it was devastating. I thought I had the same thing and that I had months or weeks to live.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COLLINS: Abdul-Jabbar is a spokesman for Novartis, the pharmaceutical company that makes the drug used to treat his condition. Here to tell us more about this disease is CNN senior medical correspondent Elizabeth Cohen. Elizabeth, this disease has affected my family personally several people in my family in fact. But the form of leukemia that Kareem Abdul-Jabbar has is quite rare, right?
ELIZABETH COHEN, CNN SENIOR MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, it depends on how you define the word rare. About 5,000 people are diagnosed every year with CML. CML stands for chronic myeloid leukemia.
And there are various treatments for it. What goes on with CML is that the body makes too many white cells and patients usually know that they're sick when they're very tired, when they have hot flashes, when they have unexpected weight loss and that's what happened to Kareem Abdul-Jabbar. He all of a sudden started having these symptoms and he went to his doctor and they diagnosed him with CML.
COLLINS: Talk to us a little bit about the survival rate, Elizabeth.
COHEN: The survival rate according to Leukemia Lymphoma Society is 44 percent. That's the five-year survival rate. What that means is that five years after getting diagnosed, 44 percent of those people who have CML are alive five years later. So 44 percent are alive five years after diagnosis.
COLLINS: How is it treated exactly? Are we talking about chemotherapy?
COHEN: Well, in some cases, yes. Kareem Abdul-Jabbar mentioned that he is taking medication. Medication is one of the treatments for CML. Chemotherapy, as you mentioned, is another one. Radiation. Bone marrow treatments. It really depends on what type of CML you have and how far advanced it is, whether you're a child or an adult. There are various different variables that go into making that treatment decision.
COLLINS: Yes. I was actually in the makeup room with him a little bit earlier this morning and we were asking him, you know, how his health is and he says he knows it will be fine. It will be fine. Going to have to manage it but it's going to be fine. So obviously he's taking that very seriously.
COHEN: That's right. Facing it bravely. That's right.
COLLINS: All right. Elizabeth Cohen, sure do appreciate it.
COLLINS: Helping victims, families and the community pick up the pieces. We'll talk with a U.S. Army chaplain, live from Ft. Hood in just a moment.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
KANEESHA HOWARD, WIFE OF FORT HOOD SHOOTING VICTIM: Everybody has been very helpful. I want to say thank you all. My prayers go out to the families that lost...
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COLLINS: Remembering the victims at Fort Hood, Texas. Flags are flying at half-staff just hours before a memorial service for the 13 men and women killed. The president and first lady will visit with the families of those killed and meet with survivors of last week's shooting rampage. President Obama will also make remarks at the memorial service.
Providing comfort at a time certainly like this isn't easy. U.S. Army chaplain Michael Spikes is based at Fort Hood and spending a lot of time with the injured and their families as well. He's joining us now live to talk about this.
Chaplain Spikes, thanks for being here, and certainly thank you for the work that you're doing with the soldiers there at Fort Hood. What have they been able to tell you? How are they holding up?
CHAPLAIN MICHAEL SPIKES, U.S. ARMY: Well, we're healing. This has come as a shock for all of us. It's a tragedy. But we're pulling together and we're healing.
COLLINS: How do you go about providing comfort in a situation like this? This is so different from something that happens on the battlefield. What are you able to tell them?
SPIKES: Well, you're right it is different than what happens on the battlefield. But we go through a lot of training to get us ready for these types of events. We never want anything like this to happen. But when it does, we're ready. And what we try to do is we try to get the soldiers to talk about it. As a chaplain, one of the things we try to do is get them to connect spiritually and process this through a spiritual lens based on their own foundation of faith and the spiritual aspects important to them.
COLLINS: Yes, and you know, people may not be very familiar with the role of a chaplain at an Army post or Air Force base. It's a very significant role. You spent a lot of time talking with soldiers. When they see you come into the room, is there an obvious sense of appreciation of comfort?
SPIKES: I think there is. It seems to be that way. Whenever we're with our soldiers, they do seem to take a certain measure of comfort in knowing that we're there with them because we do -- whenever they deploy, we deploy. If they're in the motor pool working on vehicles, we're there with them. Wherever they're at, we try to be there as well.
COLLINS: Absolutely. We know the president is coming for the memorial service today. What is that going to mean for the injured and for the families of these victims?
SPIKES: I think it will be incredibly encouraging to see our commander in chief coming here to spend time with them and to visit with the families and to encourage them.
COLLINS: Chaplain Michael Spikes, we sure appreciate your time and again, all of the work and comfort that you have offered to the men and women and victims and their family members. Thank you so much.
Want to give you some of the key points now of today's memorial service. General George W. Casey, Jr., the chief of staff of the Army, will be delivering remarks. He'll be followed by President Obama and master sergeant will sing "Amazing Grace." Then a final roll call in which the names of the victims will be read. The service will conclude with the playing of "Taps."
Definitely going to be extremely emotional. Make sure that you catch our live coverage of the event, the "Memorial at Fort Hood" begins today at 1:30 Eastern, and we'll include those remarks from President Obama. If you're away from your television, you can always watch the full memorial coverage on CNN.com/live.
Now to the investigation -- investigators say Major Nidal Malik Hasan will be charged by the U.S. military rather than in a civilian court. They say it appears he acted alone and without any outside direction. Crucial questions, too, that are being asked in this investigation. Can we learn from Nidal Hasan's background? What may have made him act? SIU correspondent Drew Griffin checked into Hasan's past and connects some of the dots for us. (BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)
DREW GRIFFIN, CNN INVESTIGATIVE UNIT CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): It was inside this suburban Washington mosque that Nidal Hasan may have first heard radical anti-American views. It is a mosque identified in this, the 9/11 Commission report on the attacks of the morning of September 11, 2001. Now, eight years on, the FBI is looking at whose paths may have crossed here at the Dar al-Hijrah Islamic Center.
It was in early 2001 a cleric named Anwar al-Awlaki, a US citizen arrives at the mosque. He'd already been the subject of several terrorism investigations but was never arrested or charged. By April of that year, the 9/11 Commission reports two of the 9/11 hijackers were attending services here. And just weeks later, Nidal Hasan chose to hold his mother's funeral services at this same mosque.
There is no evidence Nidal Hasan attended the mosque regularly at that time, nor that he ever met with or was influenced by the cleric al-Awlaki who left the United States a year later. Now, al-Awlaki is thought to be in Yemen, where he is on the most wanted terror list. Al-Awlaki has applauded the Fort Hood attacks on his Web site, calling Nidal Hasan a hero.
The mosque authorities denounce both the attacks on Fort Hood and their former Imam, and they dismissed any link between Hasan and the 9/11 plotters.
SHAKER ELSAYED, IMAM: To say that he was here when they were here as if they converged on a place, which is not the case. We know better now.
GRIFFIN: Meanwhile, in Texas, authorities are trying to track down six people Hasan Nidal had dinner with the very night before the shootings. This man was there, a local imam who said the gathering was for a fellow worshiper about to make a pilgrimage. Hasan was not the focus, but he is now, and all six names of the diners have been turned over to the FBI.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: On Wednesday night, there was a party dinner. I think six, seven, people are invited. In that party, Nidal also there. So he asked me, who -- who person (ph) -- can you give me the names? So I give the names to the FBI.
GRIFFIN: The FBI is also poring over Nidal Hasan's computers -- computers he used or had contact with, trying to find out if the accused killer visited extreme Jihadist Web sites or even tried to make contact with dedicated terror groups.
FRANK CILLUFFO, GEORGE WASHINGTON UNIVERSITY: It's obviously very troubling to think that a mass murder has -- has attended some of our events.
GRIFFIN: Frank Cilluffo met Nidal Hasan here at George Washington University in Washington, DC where Cilluffo heads the Homeland Security Institute. It turns out Hasan was a frequent attendee at counterterrorism conferences here, including this one in January where Hasan is seen sitting in the second row, in uniform, taking notes and attracting little attention.
CILLUFFO: You're going to have folks who aren't necessarily on anyone's radar screens who are coming up with their ideas on their own and then acting on some of those ideas. So, there is no conspiracy. There is nowhere to -- to pull the thread on the investigative chain. So, clearly, that is a concern.
GRIFFIN: A concern there are more out there, lone wolves waiting to strike and no clear way just yet how to find them.
Drew Griffin, CNN, Washington.
COLLINS: Checking our top stories now. At 9:00 Eastern tonight, a little over ten hours from now, John Allen Muhammad is scheduled to be executed. He's accused of masterminding the D.C. area sniper attacks. Ten people were killed in those three weeks in October of 2002. Muhammad will die by lethal injection at Greensville (ph) Correctional Center in Jarrett, Virginia, unless Governor Tim Kaine intervenes.
His name is Katt Williams. His occupation, comedian. But looking at his most recent jail mug shot here, maybe his nickname should be Cheshire. I don't know. The 38-year-old Williams is free on bail now from Cowata County Jail in Georgia after his weekend arrest on burglary and criminal trespassing charges.
Give him a little credit, though, I guess. Striking a pose for his mug shot.
Tropical depression Ida makes landfall and a mess. Where the remnants of the storm are heading, and what that means for you, coming up next right here in the NEWSROOM.
COLLINS: Lots of rain ahead of it. A lot less wind as it moves ashore. Ida, which you know, once a hurricane, is now a tropical depression. But even so, a good part of the Gulf Coast is getting drenched. And that means flooding for areas that definitely do not need anymore rain.
Jacqui Jeras is tracking the storm. How much rain are we talking about here? Obviously, people are worried about flooding.
JACQUI JERAS, AMS METEOROLOGIST: Right. And they should be.
We've already been seeing some of that flooding, especially in the coastal areas like Orange Beach with a lot of flooding. But so far, very little damage. That's good news.
Now, the rainfall rates have been as much as maybe a half inch to an inch per hour, so you multiply that by quite a few hours of rainfall and we're talking a good three to six inches, and some areas will see locally heavier amounts. So, rain is really the big focus now at this hour and the coming hours throughout the rest of the day.
The wind conditions have been dying down. As we get bands coming through, these thunderstorms, we could still see some gusts -- you can see we're estimating in the 25 to 30-mile-per-hour range. Those are sustained winds, so the gusts are still going beyond that. But we're going to be hard pressed to find anything of tropical-storm force, I think, any longer.
Now, let's take a look at the flood watches, and these have been expanded since we saw you last. Much of Alabama throughout Georgia and then we can see that running up the Appalachians. Don't be surprised if we see some more areas getting in on the action. That could possibly even include you in Charlotte, maybe into the Columbia area.
This is one computer model forecast for the next 48 hours as to how much rain we could get, and numbers are really impressive. Pushing maybe 5 inches in Atlanta as well as Raleigh, and you can see some of these coastal areas a little lesser because the low is taking this track to the south. We'll start getting all of this moisture in, and that will keep us in those rain bands in the days to come.
Now, we want to show you some iReports. They have been out catching incredible pictures. The this is from Jan Mall (ph). She lives in Destin. She said she got up just before sunrise to take these pictures here this morning. Look at those waves just crashing into the wall there, and so you can see some dangerous conditions.
Also, another iReporter, James Amerson (ph), he's a repeat iReporter. James sent us quite a few pictures here from the pier in Pensacola. And there you can see how large those waves are, almost to the height of the top of the pier and take a look at that. Yes, you're not losing your mind. Those are a couple people at the top of that. Probably not the place you want to be when you see waves crashing like that Not only because they can come up higher and knock you off your feet, but it's going to weaken some of these pillars down here and could compromise the structure of those piers.
So, always stay safe, we tell you, when you take these iReporters. Send them to us at iReport.com and we'll show you pictures of Ida in the coming days.
COLLINS: Yes, we will. All right, Jacqui. Thank you.
COLLINS: Thousands of new job cuts being announced today. We'll check on the effect it has on Wall Street in just a moment.
COLLINS: The unemployment rate is already above 10 percent, and today, thousands of new job cuts are being announced. Susan Lisovicz is at the New York Stock Exchange with details. Good morning to you, Susan. The numbers on Wall Street definitely good yesterday, but the numbers with all of the unemployment, not so good.
SUSAN LISOVICZ, CNN BUSINESS CORRESPONDENT: Yes. You know, it bears repeating, Heidi. Remember, the stock market is a leading indicator. Jobs are a lagging indicator. And so, there does seem to be a disconnect. It is painful when we talk about it. No question about it.
But we are still seeing layoffs, and we're seeing them in a variety of sectors because most companies are hurt by weak consumer spending. It hits their profits. They need to make cuts, or they feel they need to make cuts. And so, they often eliminate some of their workers.
Remember, though, as they continue to cut workers, you have a lack of demand because people out of work don't spend.
Let's get to some of the companies. Sprint-Nextel is cutting up to 2,500 jobs. Five percent of its workforce. Electronic Arts. You may not know the company but you know the titles. It's Madden NFL, Beatles Rock Band, The Need for Speed. It's cutting 1,500 jobs. That's 17 percent of the workforce. Pfizer is cutting an unspecified number of jobs; it's closing six research facilities, so you know that jobs are going to come there.
And job cuts typically boost company's stock because they see it as a sign of a company getting serious. But you're not seeing that translate today. Electronic Arts, for instance, its shares down 6.5 percent. So, it's worrisome but we see the three major averages not do much. Of course, we had big gains yesterday, Heidi.
COLLINS: Yes, yes. Big gains. All right. Susan, appreciate it. Thank you.
COLLINS: Every day for the past week, the price of gold has hit a new record high. We've been talking about it a lot here. CNNmoney.com's Poppy Harlow is in New York, right around the corner from me.
I think you're behind me, Poppy. What's going on with gold right now? I love the story you did yesterday with the necklace and finding out how much you could really get for it.
POPPY HARLOW, CNNMONEY.COM: Exactly. A lot of folks are trading in their gold jewelry trying to get as much money as possible. I wish all my gold was actually real. It is not.
HARLOW: For those out there who have that real gold, you're lucky. Take a look at this chart. This is what gold has done, folks, over the last year. It's up 23 percent at a record high yesterday over $1,100 an ounce. Merrill Lynch saying, listen, we'll see gold at $1,500 in the next 18 months. Some well-known investors saying we'll go higher. We think gold is going to $2,000 an ounce soon.
But if you ask most folks on the street here in New York, they're perplexed. They have no idea why. Here's what they told us.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's way up, correct?
HARLOW (off camera): Yeah.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I've been following about it. It seems like a good investment. Not sure of much else.
HARLOW: Any idea why gold prices would be going higher?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Probably because of the economy. I don't know. Everyone is try to sell gold and make some money.
HARLOW: That's true. What do you think?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I have no idea.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's a dangerous sign.
HARLOW: It's a dangerous sign? Why?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Because usually when gold goes up, it means there is something broken in the system.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: There's been a lot of talk in the last couple months about the dollar not being the standard for financial trading around the world, and there's a lot of concern, I think. I think we're in a sea change right now...
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HARLOW: All right. He's right. We're in a sea change. The stock market is up. Gold prices are up. Heidi, and honestly, a lot of people think it's because there are concerns about the strength of the U.S. economy and all of this recovery talk we're hearing. They're questioning that, Heidi.
COLLINS: Yes. And these fundamental reasons why gold is at a record high. We should talk about those as well as the average Joe being able to take advantage of it then.
HARLOW: Right. I mean, who can buy gold bars these days? But there are some ways you can take part. We'll get to that in a minute.
But first of all, this is clearly a representation of some safety in uncertain times. Investing in gold goes back thousands of years. You have a weak dollar. That makes gold and other commodities pricing a better bargain. What can you do? Sell your jewelry. Make sure you get a good deal for it. Or you can also invest in gold or gold stocks. Something to look out for.
Also, check out our story on CNNmoney.com, trying to sell our own gold, as well. Interesting to watch this story as gold prices continue to rise, I think. I'll bet on that one, Heidi.
COLLINS: Yes. Yes. Good bet. All right. Poppy Harlow, thank you.
Remembering the dead. Comforting the grieving. We'll look ahead to this afternoon's memorial service taking place at Fort Hood.
COLLINS: CNN's special live coverage of the memorial service at Fort Hood begins at 1:30 Eastern. It will include remarks from President Obama. If you'd like to watch and can't get to your TV, you can always see the full memorial coverage on CNN.com/live or on your iPhone with the CNN app.
You can help the families of the Fort Hood victims as well. Our Josh Levs is in atlanta to show us how to do that. Hi, Josh.
JOSH LEVS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Hi, Heidi. I'll show you right now. We'll just zoom right in to the board with the time we have left. I want to show everyone a few things. First of all, CNN.com today, telling but the victims. Who they were, what they did, what led them to join the military. Some information about them. Just go to our special section about Fort Hood, and you'll get to know them a little bit.
Now, this is a way that you can help them. The Fort Hood Web site has linked to several organizations that are taking donations specifically for the families of the victims here. Let's go to the USO. That's one of the ones they're linking to. Also, here. This one from the Red Cross.
And not only that, we have one more thing to show you here which is "Impact Your World" at CNN.com/impact. We link you to a bunch of organizations as well.
That's a lot of info I just tossed at you. Here's the only thing you need to know. Let's go to the graphic. CNN.com/josh has the link for you. We also put it on Facebook and Twitter. JoshLevsCNN. Right there you will be able to click on any of these links and help these families. Heidi
COLLINS: Very good. All right, Josh. Going to be another really tough day there at Fort Hood.
LEVS: It is.
COLLINS: Thank you.
LEVS: Thank you.
COLLINS: I'm Heidi Collins. CNN NEWSROOM continues now with Tony Harris.