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Dow Jumps 277 Points; Hundred Million Americans Bake In Extreme Heat

Aired June 29, 2012 - 17:00   ET


CANDY CROWLEY, CNN: You're in THE SITUATION ROOM. Happening now, an epic fire lands on the doorstep of a family already reeling from tragedy. This hour, the heart-wrenching story of a grandmother who had to step in to care for her grandchildren. Now they're all homeless.

Plus, 100 million Americans are desperate for relief from extreme heat. Temperatures are soaring into the triple digits from the midwest to the east coast. Is this what we can expect the rest of the summer?

And a new campaign to try to abolish one state's lottery in the name of protecting the poor.

Welcome to our viewers in the United States and around the world. Wolf Blitzer is off today. I'm Candy Crowley. You're in THE SITUATION ROOM.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I'm leaving my house for probably the last time. Oh, my god, the smoke in the air. So bad.


CROWLEY: That terrified woman is just one of tens of thousands of people who have escaped from the most destructive blaze in Colorado's history. Now they're desperate to know if their homes have been swallowed by flames.

President Obama just got a firsthand look at this growing disaster. More than 300 homes in the area have been destroyed. And at least one person is dead. More than 20,000 homes are dangerously close to the flames.

This is how the fire zone looks from space. Firefighters say the blaze is now just 15 percent contained, but with weeks to go before the danger is over. You can see the sadness and worry on people's faces.

We will have reports on the massive battle against this fire and on the president's trip to Colorado.

First, Jim Spellman joins us from Colorado Springs with one of those personal stories. Jim.

JIM SPELLMAN, CNN: Hey, Candy. Yes, you know, as firefighters have been able to get into these neighborhoods and assess the damage, people here are starting to find out the fate of their homes. For a lot of people, it's bad news -- behind each one of those hopes is a tragic story.

Here's one. Take a look.


SPELLMAN (voice-over): For fire victim Susan Solich and her grandsons, Justin, Connor, Brandon and Tyler, their pain and heartbreak began long before the flames hit their neighborhood. In the fall of 2010, Susan's daughter, Kim, the boys' mom, died in her sleep. Then, just three months later the boy's father, Nolan, died after a heart attack.

SUSAN SOLICH, FIRE VICTIM: I spent a couple months packing them up. Wrapping up their lives. And moved them here. Sorry.

SPELLMAN: Susan now had four grieving grandsons to take care of.

CONNER FLOWERS: It kind of feels like sadness in my heart.

UNIDENTIFIED CHILD: I just miss them so much.

JUSTIN FLOWERS: Most of the time I think, why me? But that's pretty much normal because like people that go through that think, why me, why does this happen to me?

SPELLMAN (on camera): Did you ever get an answer to that question?

JUSTION FLOWERS: No. Not really.

SPELLMAN: They managed as best they could.

SOLICH: I's been a struggle. Been in some counselling. We've gone up and down. But everyone's doing much better.

SPELLMAN: And then the fire came, forcing them to pack up what few things they could and head for safety.

SOLICH: And as we drove we could see in our rearview mirrors the side of the hill just exploded. There had to be 40 fires just bam.

SPELLMAN: Grandma's house was destroyed. The boys would have to start over yet again.

Connor, tell me how all this makes you feel.

CONNOR FLOWERS: Like a little kid.

SOLICH: Like a little kid, he says. SPELLMAN: Does it feel better when you're sitting with your grandma? they gain strength from each other and a few special possessions. What is the best thing you got?

JUSTIN FLOWERS: Probably my mom and dad's blanket. It makes me feel safer.

SPELLMAN: What would you say to them if you could have them back for one day?

JUSTIN FLOWERS: I love them so much.

SPELLMAN: Susan says when she needs strength, she gets it from the boys, even when it's hard to make sense of what has happened. She's not sure if she will rebuild in her old neighborhood, but she knows no matter how uncertain their future, they'll take it on together.

SOLICH: You can't just walk around feeling sorry for yourself. I have a lot of people to consider. And if you fall apart, what's going to happen? so it's like, you know what, we're all together, we're safe. And it's just stuff. And, you know, we can replace it. We'll always have the memories.


SPELLMAN: Susan and the boys are staying with some friends, Candy. Tomorrow Susan will get the first look at her destroyed home on a small bus trip that the city's put together. She's bracing for that. She says that's what will make it really seem real.

CROWLEY: Oh, wow. I confess, you got me on that one, Jim. What a story. But she's right, they're together. They have each other. The rest of it is stuff. Thank you so much for bringing that story to us.

Firefighters recruited from across the country are throwing everything they can at the inferno in Colorado. Now U.S. Army troops are preparing to get involved as well. We want to bring in our Pentagon correspondent, barbara starr.

Barbara, what's the military planning right now? What can they bring to the table?

BARBARA STARR, CNN PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT: Well, Candy, as we've seen so many times in the large-scale tragedies, the military is now beginning to step in.

Let me bring you up to date, first. The military by tomorrow night will have all eight of its C-130 aircraft equipped with fire fighting capability from the air on station in Colorado. These essentially are the big guns. They've had four of them there for some time. The rest of them are joining. That means the entire fleet.

What do these C-130s do? They've already dropped -- the ones that are there -- 140,000 gallons of fire retardant. Each mission can drop 3,000 gallons in five seconds of either fire retardant or water. We've seen those pictures before. They are now throwing all their airplanes at this.

And when they drop their fire retardant or water, they can cover an area one-quarter mile long, 100 feet wide. When they hit the ground again, they can reload, refill those tanks within 12 minutes. Colorado, of course, is a huge area for the U.S. military. There are a number of military families that are displaced. I can add to what Jim said: just two nights ago I got an e-mail from someone we know quite well in Afghanistan, he was trying to find out if his house had burned down and exactly where his family has evacuated to.

CROWLEY: The problem is there are stories like that throughout Colorado, tonight.

STARR: Absolutely.

CROWLEY: And it's still just 15 percent contained. I understand, Barbara, you also have some information on ground troops?

STARR: Yes. You bet. The military putting more against this starting today. They began training 530 soldiers, many of them Afghanistan veterans, in fire fighting. So they are on standby ready to be called in by the Forest Service, if needed. They will learn over the next three days to dig ditches, how to clear brush.

They're going to make sure they keep these guys safe. They're not sending them right into the front line of the fire. But the firefighters, the private firefighters, the community firefighters are so exhausted from all of this of course, they need that backup help. And so they're going to use these troops, potentially, to do that hard tough work like digging fire breaks, digging ditches.


CROWLEY: Wow. Reinforcements are on their way. That's always good to hear. Especially the people of Colorado right now. Barbara Starr, thank you so much.

STARR: Sure.

CROWLEY: President Obama is promising to help Colorado deal with the enormous devastation from the wildfires. He's wrapped up a brief visit to the state to see the disaster firsthand.

Our White House correspondent, Dan Lothian, is traveling with the president.

DAN LOTHIAN, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Well, Candy, Colorado has been dealing with prolonged hot temperatures and dry conditions. It's the perfect environment for these explosive wildfires. Progress is being made, but the battle is far from over. So today the president came to Colorado offering help.


LOTHIAN: As helicopters scooped up water and attacked hot spots in the mountains surrounding Colorado Springs, President Obama arrived in this battleground state to assure the victims of one of the state's worst wildfires ever that the federal government would provide substantial assistance.


BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: One of the things that I've tried to emphasize is that, whether it's fires in Colorado or flooding in the northern parts of Florida, when natural disasters like this hit, America comes together.


LOTHIAN: Aides say the president saw some of the damage from the air as he looked out the windows of Air Force One. On the ground he was briefed by the state's governor and others leading the wildfire response effort. And took a walking tour of the Mountain Shadows neighborhood that was scorched by the Waldo Canyon fire.


OBAMA: What's remarkable is obviously how devastating these fires are. Once they hit a house and they take root, it is very difficult for anybody to imagine the kind of devastation and how quickly it happens.


LOTHIAN: The president thanked the firefighters whose hard work he said saved countless lives.


OBAMA: What'd you guys have to do to protect these homes? Give me a sense of how you guys go about that.

UNIDENTIFIED FIREFIGHTER: This first one right here that has the garage kind of broken open, they had a little bit of fire inside the garage. We put that out and knocked holes in the garage door to get the heat out of there.


LOTHIAN: More federal assistance is on the way. Eight C-130 military planes, equipped with special fire fighting technology -- the entire inventory -- are being deployed here. It's a massive response to confront a massive disaster. The wildfire in Colorado Springs that destroyed 346 houses and is responsible for one death is only 15 percent contained.

Another fire in the northern part of the state destroyed 257 houses, also claimed one life, but is 85 percent contained. With small gains, some people who were evacuated are being allowed to return home.

Like Colorado Springs resident, Walt Ost, who's lived in this city for more than 40 years.


(voice-over): How did it feel to come back and see your house here?

WALT OST, COLORADO SPRINGS RESIDENT: Well, it feels real good. Especially after seeing those aerial photographs of the neighborhood.

LOTHIAN: Ost and his family were forced to evacuate with only some photo albums, insurance papers and a laptop, as a fast-moving wall of fire threatened their home and their lives.

(voice-over): Was it terrifying to watch that happen?

OST: Yes. It's scary. You can't do anything. Nor could the firemen, when something moves at 60 plus miles an hour.

LOTHIAN: For others, there is no home to return to. Recovery will be much more difficult. More than half of all federal fire fighting resources are being staged here in Colorado. Officials are hoping in addition to that the weather will cooperate.



CROWLEY: Our Dan Lothian.

You can help the victims of these fires. To get more information, go to

In some parts of the U.S., the heat index could reach 115 degrees today. We'll get the big picture on the extreme temperatures and how long they may last.

Plus, stock prices skyrocket amid talk of a new breakthrough for the global economy.

And a new case of a flight attendant losing his cool and taking it out on passengers. And of course it's on video.


CROWLEY: A huge day on Wall Street. The Dow jumped 277 points, mirroring markets around the world that rallied on what EU leaders consider a breakthrough in the effort to rescue the global economy. The Euro Zone agreed today to a series of steps designed to stabilize its credit markets and banks.

It's a move the White House calls encouraging but cautions more steps will need to be taken in the future. Joining me now, CNN's Richard Quest. Richard, the U.S. stock markets went crazy with this news way up. Is that an ill-founded hope? Is this the sign that the U.S. economy as some had feared will not go into the recession? Translate this for us in U.S. terms.

RICHARD QUEST, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes. It was all of those things and none of them at the same time. It was hope, perhaps, more hope over expectation and experience. The truth is any good news out of Europe is reason to go off to the races. And that's what we saw. The summit in Brussels did more than expected. But I'd go further than that.

It's the first time they've taken concrete long-term and short- term action that people believe is necessary. Banking union, a fiscal compact, moving towards the purchase of government bonds, getting debt off government books and onto bankbooks. These all seen as being call necessities if the crisis is to actually come to some sort of fruition and settlement.

CROWLEY: I'm afraid to ask you this question, what could go wrong?

QUEST: Well, I don't think we've got long enough to go into that. I'll be reading the news into the next program if we do. But to give you the headlines, if you like, A, the markets could not believe that they've got the political will. B, they may not have the political will when push comes to shove.

C, when now they've got to actually put flesh on the bones of the road map, and they have to do this and do it by December. The squabbling could begin between the various countries over who will get what, when, and why. And, four, D, I mean, at the end of the day, economies could take a serious turn for the worst.

And you're still in the United States. I mean, let me kick the football well and truly back across the Atlantic. You still got a U.S. presidential election and a fiscal cliff. Now, the fiscal cliff, frankly, if the U.S. does end up going over, big if, if, if, if. It could make the Euro Zone problems look like a Tea Party.

CROWLEY: So, OK, I don't want to leave on a downer note. So, just tell me the kind of the crux of this deal. Who is now accountable for the debt?

QUEST: Right. The core point to realize is nothing's actually happened yet. I mean, this is a promise to do things, a plan to do a road map. It's all what will, may, should, could, possibly, might happen. That's why we're so dubious about it. But if it goes according to plan, this is what will happen.

The Spanish will get their bailout money for the banks, and it won't go on the government's books. The Italians, if they want to, can ask for help, and the money will be given directly to Italy, not by -- just route. And finally, by the end of the year, they should have a plan for banking union and something that looks pretty much like a European treasury.

There's a long way to go. But there's a reality and a realism after this summit that we haven't seen before.

CROWLEY: Unfortunately, we all know what often happens to the best laid plans of mice and men. But Richard Quest, thank you so much for your take on this. We really appreciate it.

QUEST: Thank you.

CROWLEY: Temperatures soar into triple digits as much of the country bakes in an intensifying heat wave. Is there any relief in sight? We'll have the latest forecast ahead.

Plus, the Supreme Court rules on Janet Jackson's infamous Super Bowl wardrobe malfunction.


CROWLEY: It is sweltering hot here in Washington, over 100 degrees. But don't cry for us, Argentina, we are not alone. Millions of Americans are looking for relief from extreme heat across the east coast into the Midwest. One-third of the population is under some kind of heat warning today, and it's not even July.

Meteorologist and severe weather expert, Chad Myers, is at the CNN Weather Center. What's happening here?

CHAD MYERS, AMS METEOROLOGIST: The bubble of hot air that was over the fire area last week that caused the fires just to be so brutal and so hard to fight has now moved to the east, and weather does move from west to east. So, the bubble of high pressure, which is here, now has all this heat all across the Deep South. And for you too, in D.C., it feels like 111 degrees outside.

And so, it's not getting any better all the way across Texas. The air temperature in New York not so bad today. It goes up tomorrow. If you think that was hot, tomorrow we go higher than 93 for sure. Richmond, Virginia, you were 102. There you go. 102 again. But get down a little farther south on I-95 to Petersburg for at least one hour, it was 108.

So, a lot of times we say, it's not the heat, the humidity. Today, it's the heat. The humidity's there, but it's not as bad as it could be sometimes during the middle of the summer. I walked out in Atlanta, it's 103 right now. It's hot. It's brutally hot. But when you start to sweat, the sweat evaporates a little bit and you do cool off.

So, if you can keep yourself cool -- let me give you a picture here. Here are the smartest kids. You know, is there's a show like "Are You Smarter Than A Fifth Grader?" Well, here are all the fifth graders in Atlanta, all around the Olympic rings and the water fun (ph) is doing. So, all the parents over here not smarter than the fifth graders because they're in the water.

That's where you want to be, in the water. Get yourself wet. The water will evaporate and you will be cooler. Thanks to that zoom- in for guys there. 103 for Memphis. Today and tomorrow about the same. A hot day in Nashville, 107 today. Same story for tomorrow. It doesn't go away.

I know you were going to ask me is, at some point in time, how long is this going to last? Candy, this is going to be here for a week. It will end in Nebraska and Hill City, Kansas by the end of the weekend. But that just means that heat slides to the east and it stays in the east. It stays where most people live and where the air conditioners are going to be straining the power supplies.

So, all those things you can do to keep yourself safe. When you do leave the house, turn the air conditioner up a little bit so that there's not a blackout when you come back. And it's kind of do things for your neighbors. Make sure the neighbors, especially if you have elder ones, are taken care of.

Make sure the pets aren't outside without any shade from the sunshine, without water, any of that kind of stuff -- Candy.

CROWLEY: Hey, Chad, what does any of this bode for July and August? Or do these things just sort of happen in vacuums?

MYERS: They happen in vacuums. They come and they go. It doesn't mean that the middle of July's going to be above normal. In fact, it could be below normal. Way out to the west right now, Phoenix, all the way up into Los Angeles, San Francisco, they're well below normal. And today, this is a great number, I tweeted this out earlier.

And this has nothing to do with our current weather, but it was 108 in Petersburg, Virginia. It's 93 degrees below zero on the south pole. 201-degree difference from Petersburg, Virginia to the South Pole. So, at least, if you're in the south pole, you can find some cool, but you'll probably want to find warm. And if we could spread it around a little bit, kind of like the rain and the wildfires, we'd all get a little bit better.

CROWLEY: Only you could come up with that figure. Thank you so much, Chad Myers, appreciate it.

Lisa Sylvester is monitoring some of the other top stories in the SITUATION ROOM right now. Lisa, that deadly shooting at Fort Bragg now looks like it might have been the result of a soldier facing punishment.

LISA SYLVESTER, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, that's right, Candy. Officials say a soldier facing a dishonorable discharge shot and killed his battalion commander before turning the gun on himself and wounding another soldier. The unit was gathered for a safety briefing yesterday.

The military says the accused shooter, who's not expected to survive, faced court-martial for allegedly stealing a tool box worth almost $2,000.

And Janet Jackson's infamous wardrobe malfunction at the 2004 Super Bowl will not cost CBS a half million dollars after all. The Supreme Court threw out the government-imposed fine saying the FCC's punishment was unfair considering it was an isolated incident during primetime television.

And let's see, swimming 103 miles from Cuba to the Florida keys through shark-infested waters, you're going to need a few things. You'll need some flippers, a wet suit, definitely a shark cage. Well, an Australian woman has none of those things. Forty-nine-year-old Penny Paulfrey (ph) does have, though, a small crew shadowing her and a special suit (ph) that provides some protection from jelly fish. She says it could take 60 hours to complete that journey.

And a Canadian hockey coach is suspended after he allegedly tripped a 13-year-old player on the opposing team. Take a look here. The video. It went viral shortly after the game. It shows the coach shaking one player's hand and then, oh, yikes, sticking his foot out to trip the teenager who suffered a broken wrist.

The boy's mother says the coach should be banned from children sports. Another player also fell, and the coach says, he's claiming that it was an accident -- Candy.

CROWLEY: Yes. You know, that's a problem with all these video cameras around. Lisa Sylvester, thank you very much.

Some Republicans are branding the president's healthcare law as a middle class tax increase. The politics of the Supreme Court bombshell ruling could get ugly. We'll hear from two lawmakers with a big stake in the election year debate.

And would the poor be better off if one state gets rid of its lottery?


CROWLEY: Republicans and Democrats are sharpening their talking points about the Supreme Court decision upholding the president's health care law. Mitt Romney and his surrogates are zeroing in on two words: words repeal and tact. Listen to Senator Marco Rubio, a possible V.P. contender, when I asked him for his reaction to the ruling.


SEN. MARCO RUBIO (R), FLA.: Well, I think it's a loss for America. Let me begin by reminding everybody, what the Supreme Court decides is they decide whether something is constitutional or not constitutional. They don't decide whether this is a good idea.

And it's specific in when they found that it was constitutional, what they said was that the reason why it's constitutional is because it's a tax increase. Millions of Americans may now have an IRS problem as a result of this ruling.

CROWLEY: So, Senator, how does this play out on the campaign trail? As we all know, when Mitt Romney was governor of Massachusetts, he certainly had a very similar plan in place. It takes away some of his ability to argue the individual mandate, but how do you go at this in terms of politically and in terms of what you say your ultimate goal is, which is to turn over this law?

RUBIO: Well, three things, let me first just mention that when Governor Romney was the governor of a state, that's a state policy. If you don't like the policies of a state, you could easily go to another state. And the state, by the way, doesn't have the IRS. This has now turned the IRS into an enforcement mechanism for ObamaCare.

And number two, I think this reminds us that this is a broken promise. The president said he would never raise taxes on the middle class. This is a middle class tax increase. And you know why we know it's a middle class tax increase? Not because I'm saying it, because the Supreme Court has said it. It's the basis for them upholding it.

I think Americans now understand what this law really is all about. And I think now more than ever you're going to see opposition to this law increase. I think it's going to hurt economic growth, which was already doing very poorly.

We had new figures today that showed the economy is not growing. This is not going to help. I think this now becomes a central issue of this campaign again like it was in 2010.


CROWLEY: Talk about the politics of the Supreme Court decision with Congressman Chris van Hollen of Maryland, my congressman. He's also the senior Democrat on the budget committee.

A tax argument is very powerful. And you have had the Supreme Court say, oh, you know, it's really not commerce, but let's -- if you call it a tax, you're in.

How do you not say and suffer politically from the fact that most people hear tax and sort of draw back from it?

REP. CHRIS VAN HOLLEN (D), MD.: Well, Candy, this is designed exactly the way Mitt Romney designed the plan in Massachusetts. In fact, I've got the Massachusetts requirements right here. They call it a tax penalty in Massachusetts.

Call it whatever you want. The idea is the same. The idea is that everybody should pay something toward the health care they're getting because if some people pay nothing, it means you and me and everybody else pay more. We pay more in premiums. We pay more in taxes because people who go to the hospital without insurance, the hospital doesn't provide that charity care.

In fact, taxpayers provide help to the hospital. So at the end of the day everybody ends up paying for the deadbeats. In fact, Governor Romney called them essentially deadbeats and making sure that we didn't have everybody else having to finance the free riders and the freeloaders. He called them free riders.

CROWLEY: Well, we are where we are now. And the fact is this has not been an issue that the president has campaigned on. This is not something that he's seemed to want to talk about now. Does the Supreme Court decision make it any better? Because it still remains unpopular, the law in its totality.

And I realize that there are popular elements to it, but if you ask people how they feel about the health care law, they don't like it.

VAN HOLLEN: Well, two things, first of all the popular elements. The Republicans want to come back about two weeks from now and repeal this entire law, so take away all the provisions that protect kids from pre-existing conditions and ultimately everybody from pre- existing conditions.

They want to take all that away. They want to hand the power back over to the insurance industry. Why is it unpopular? It got totally demagogued. We heard about the death panels.

CROWLEY: As a flip side of that, you all didn't do a very good job selling it?

VAN HOLLEN: Well, I think we could have done a better job. And I think this opens an opportunity for fresh conversation.

To the extent the Republicans want to have this conversation, they're going to have to talk about why they have now become the party that wants to reward the freeloaders, the people who want to get health care for free and not participate in any way in covering their own costs.

I mean, why should taxpayers get the bill for people who can afford health care but choose to free ride on the system? That's just not fair.

CROWLEY: I want to talk a little bit about the penalties or the taxes or the fines or whatever we want to call them, because I don't completely understand it. So the way the law reads now, in 2014, the penalty for a family will be either $285 per family or 1 percent of their income, whichever is larger.

If the actual cost right now -- the average cost of a family's insurance is over $7,000. So if you could -- if you were forced to buy an insurance policy for $7,000 or pay a penalty and still get health care until someone gets really sick and then you can get insurance because now you're not allowed to discriminate against people with pre-existing conditions, why won't people just opt for paying the penalty if it's so low?

VAN HOLLEN: Well, first of all, most Americans will continue to keep their current health care system. But those who --

CROWLEY: Except for the people whose employers opt out.

VAN HOLLEN: Well, if they -- but if they opt out people then still have the opportunity to go into the health exchange and access the tax credits, the tax credits, subsidies that are available to them to make sure that they can now pay for health insurance.

So will there always be some people who totally try and game the system? Yes. But the Congressional Budget Office, the nonpartisan referee, has estimated that when you have a penalty for people who decide to try and freeload the system, the reality is most people, when given the opportunity to get affordable health care, will exercise that option.

CROWLEY: Sure. And so then you're left with people who can't afford to get health insurance and probably can't afford to pay the penalty. So that's --

VAN HOLLEN: Well, no, because under this system for people who are very poor, they will be able to get health care under Medicaid. For people who are stretching it, so they don't -- they're not qualified for Medicaid, they will be able to get tax credits. They're going to be able to get a little bit of help so they can afford health care.

So the only people who are paying the penalty are the people who now can afford health care but are trying to game the system, trying to freeload on the system, trying to send you and I the bill because they decide they're going to try to get health care for free.

CROWLEY: I want to just turn your attention to sheer politics and the makeup of the House next February, let's say.

We've seen two major reports, the Cook Political Report as well as the Rothenberg Report from Stu Rothenberg, say they don't see a wave election coming up. Basically they say it's either going to be maybe a six-House seat pickup for Democrats or a one-House seat pickup for Republicans, meaning that you all will stay in the minority. Is that enough to make a guy retire?

VAN HOLLEN: No. No one's going to retire. Just means we're going to work even harder between now and then. And Steve Israel, who is the chairman of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, has been doing a really good job. We believe that momentum is building in our direction. We believe that it's all about the economy.

And I think that the American people are going to see and I think they're seeing this every day that while the president has worked very hard to turn around the economy -- and he was able to stop the freefall with emergency actions that were taken -- that the Republicans have been rooting for failure in this sense: they refused to even allow us a vote on the president's jobs bill.

You heard the report the other day that Mitt Romney's folks were calling the governor of Florida and saying, hey, Governor, don't talk about good economic --


VAN HOLLEN: No, I mean, it was reported. And so that is the sense people are getting. And of course, you had --

CROWLEY: But consumer confidence is down. That's not a good sign for Democrats. I just wonder what you think the chances are that Democrats could retake the House.

VAN HOLLEN: Well, I think the chances are growing. We always have said this is a jump ball. But we believe that when people really focus in on the total obstructionism that they've seen in the House of Representatives from Republicans of Congress, starting with the very infamous comment made by the Senate Republican leader, Mitch McConnell, who said their number one objective was not the economy or jobs but to defeat President Obama, that's been their game plan.

They had a meeting, as you know, the night the president was sworn in, a number of the House Republican leaders to plot their plan for a, you know, just burn the place down strategy.

CROWLEY: Politics ain't bean balls, isn't that what they say?

VAN HOLLEN: No, it's not. But I think the American people expect people to try and work together for the good of the country.

CROWLEY: Democratic Congressman from Maryland, Chris van Hollen, thank you so much. Have a good weekend.

VAN HOLLEN: Thank you.

CROWLEY: When a bullet tore through a neighbor's window, one Chicago family decided it was time to get out of town. The soaring murder rate and gang violence is hitting close to home.

And a flight attendant loses his cool, caught on video. You'll see and hear what happened for yourself.


CROWLEY: A 7-year-old girl selling candy in front of her home was shot in the back in Chicago this week. She is one of the latest victims of exploding violence in the city. For her family and way too many others, the skyrocketing murder rate is hitting home. Our Ted Rowlands talked to one family that's doing something about it.

TED ROWLANDS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Candy, it isn't often that a 14-year-old kid getting ready to start his first year in high school is excited about moving. But this is the South Side of Chicago. And things here are different.

JOSH TURNER, MOVING FROM SOUTH SIDE, CHICAGO: I was shot through the window.

ROWLANDS (voice-over): Fourteen-year-old Josh Turner is talking about the time gunfire on his street got uncomfortably close, hitting his neighbor's window.

TURNER: And the bullet went right through the glass.

ROWLANDS (voice-over): Street violence has been a part of life here on Chicago's South Side for decades. But for Josh and his mother, Marissa, it's becoming too much to handle.

MARISSA BOWMAN, JOSH'S MOM: It's gotten so bad that I'm ready. I'm more than ready. ROWLANDS (voice-over): Ready, she says, to move to Rome, Georgia, where she grew up and where she hopes Josh can have a normal life.

This family knows first-hand the devastating effect of street violence. Josh's father, Jeremiah, was murdered when Josh was 18 months old.

BOWMAN: Not having his dad probably put more on me as far as protecting him. And that's all, that's all that matters.

ROWLANDS (voice-over): The murder rate in Chicago is up more than 35 percent so far this year. Many of the victims are innocent and young. Last Wednesday 7-year-old Heaven Sutton was shot standing in her front yard, selling lemonade.

NORA GREEN, JOSH'S GRANDMOTHER: I'm glad that, you know, Marissa is moving him out of this environment.

ROWLANDS (voice-over): Josh's grandmother, Nora, who lives across the street from Josh and Marissa, showed us this photo display of Josh's father. She says the pain of losing a child is unbearable. And while she'll miss Josh, she can't take the thought of losing him to violence as well.

GREEN: When I'm watching the news and I hear of someone else that has been killed, I just -- you know, my mind goes back to that process of initially hearing it and then after that. That after, when everybody leaves you, that after. And you're left with yourself.

ROWLANDS (voice-over): Josh says moving away from his friends will be difficult, but he's looking forward to living close to relatives in Georgia, living somewhere that's safe.


ROWLANDS: Josh and his mother will be moving to Georgia in August so that Josh can be there in time for school to start, Candy.

CROWLEY: And a flight attendant loses his cool on a plane delayed for hours. And passengers caught the whole thing on tape. You knew that would happen.

Plus, a local NAACP effort to axe the Texas lottery. We'll tell you why next.


CROWLEY: To Texas now, where an NAACP branch has jumped into an effort to eliminate the state lottery. They argue the move could be a matter of life and death for some of the poorest people living there and who in many cases may be the most vulnerable. Our Brian Todd is working the story and joins us now with details. Brian?

BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Candy, the head of the NAACP in Dallas is simply fed up with poor people and minorities spending their money on lottery tickets in her region and she points to one case where she says it was a matter of life or death.


TODD (voice-over): Juanita Wallace tells the saddest of stories, of a man she knew who she says spent what few dollars he had on lottery tickets instead of on things he needed, like health insurance.

Wallace doesn't want to give the man's name, but tells us what happened to him.

JUANITA WALLACE, PRESIDENT, DALLAS NAACP: Well, he died. And having no insurance because his insurance had elapsed (sic), it was left up to the community and people that loved him to try to pull together funds in order to bury him.

TODD (voice-over): Wallace is president of the Dallas chapter of the NAACP. That group's trying to get Texas officials to abolish the state lottery.

TODD: What are the primary reasons that you want the lottery gone?

WALLACE: Research shows that there are more poor people that purchase these lottery tickets and scratchoffs than the people that actually can afford it, the middle and upper class.

TODD (voice-over): Wallace says the lottery preys on the poor. She claims there are many more lottery sales venues set up in poorer areas of Dallas than in middle and upper income neighborhoods.

Contacted by CNN, a Texas Lottery Commission spokeswoman said they try to reach all segments of the population, that they don't target poorer areas specifically, don't do any different marketing in those places.

TODD: But the Texas Lottery Commission is required to do demographic studies and the most recent one says people in Texas who are most likely to play the popular Pick 3 game earn less than $20,000 a year. And it says unemployed people are most likely to buy the even more popular scratchoff tickets.

TODD (voice-over): University of Maryland Professor Irwin Morris, who studies the lottery, says he hasn't seen evidence that state lotteries specifically target the poor. But he says there is a reason the poor spend a greater portion of their income on lotteries than the wealthy.

PROF. IRWIN MORRIS, UNIVERSITY OF MARYLAND: It is an opportunity to change your living circumstances. And so someone who is relatively wealthy, it would take a dramatic lottery win, a lotto, let's say, to significantly change living circumstances. If someone is of much more meager means, a much smaller win could literally change the character of their living circumstances.

TODD: The NAACP in Dallas isn't alone in its campaign. Officials with the Baptist General Convention of Texas tell us that they are also pressing state officials to axe the lottery. Both groups also say the Texas Lottery has not been the cash cow for school funding that many people thought it would be.

They say the money from the lottery sent to public schools has stayed relatively flat over the past several years, while overall expenditures for the school systems have risen. The Texas Lottery spokeswoman counters that, saying that over the past 20 years, the lottery has contributed more than $14 billion to the schools, not an insignificant number, Candy.

The money is there for the schools but some argue that it is kind of flat in relation to the other spending for the schools.

CROWLEY: Wow. That's just a tough one, I think.

TODD: It is.

CROWLEY: You know, I can see this being a giant argument.

TODD: Right.

CROWLEY: Brian Todd, thank you so much.

A plane delayed for hours turned to a scene of chaos when the flight attendant on board lost his cool and passengers caught it all on tape. Now some of them say he isn't solely to blame. So to straighten this out, we go straight to our Mary Snow.

MARY SNOW, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Candy, you know, as one passenger described it, this was a perfect storm of things that could go wrong on a flight, a rain delay and then a backup on the runway, all leading to frustrations boiling over.


SNOW (voice-over): On a flight that was delayed for several hours and never got off the ground, an American Eagle flight attendant loses his cool, taking it out on passengers.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I don't want to hear anything. We want -- don't hear anything once we close the door. So if your boss, your mom, (inaudible), this is your time. Otherwise, you are going to have to fly with Jose.

SNOW (voice-over): What's not on the tape, passengers described the flight attendant also saying something about this being his last flight.

David Abels was with his 9-year-old daughter.

DAVID ABELS, PASSENGER: Well, people were shocked. And then, you know, bravely, some people got up and walked out and I wish I could have but, I had to get my daughter home to her mother, you know, and she was frightened. The kids were crying.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This guy is the one that's doing it. (Inaudible) you have multiple people on this aircraft.

SNOW (voice-over): This is what it looked like when the flight attendant confronted passengers after he made his announcement. By then, American Eagle flight 4607 had been delayed for about five hours. It was supposed to go from New York to Raleigh, North Carolina. Rain prevented passengers from even boarding until several hours after the flight was scheduled to leave.

Once on the runway, there were more delays, and the plane had to turn back to refuel.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Unfortunately, our hands are tied. We can not leave until that release is obtained.

SNOW (voice-over): Passengers deplaned and by the time they got back on, things came to a boiling point. Police were called.

SNOW: But passenger John Wurster, who was sitting in first class, says it wasn't just the flight attendant to blame. He faults passengers as well.

JOHN WURSTER, PASSENGER: I did feel some of the passengers overreacted.

SNOW: How so?

WURSTER: I didn't feel any kind of threat coming from him. I felt when he went to the back of the plane -- you know, you got to remember, this is one guy against 100 or so. And yes, he by no means chose his words properly. And so he is definitely at fault. And I think some of the passengers are also.

SNOW (voice-over): Not something David Abels agrees with.

ABELS: For any passenger who was on that plane to say it was the passengers' fault, it was the flight attendant, the captain, they are supposed to reassure everybody and calm everybody. You think he did that?

SNOW (voice-over): As for American Airlines, it apologized, saying, "We do not believe that the passengers' frustrations were met with the level of service that we expect from our people, and for that we are truly sorry."


SNOW: Now police made no arrests and the flight wound up being canceled. We did try to reach out to the flight attendant through the airline. But the airline said the incident is under review and that it won't discuss personnel matters. The FAA also says it, too, is investigating. Candy?

CROWLEY: Mary Snow, thank you.

A set of subway stairs is tripping up lots of New Yorkers and generating lots of laughs in the process. (COMMERCIAL BREAK)

CROWLEY: A set of subway stairs is tripping up lots of New Yorkers. Here's CNN's Jeanne Moos.


JEANNE MOOS, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): It is hard not to stare when everyone is tripping on the subway stairs or, more precisely, on one particular step.

MOOS: Everybody loves to watch people trip, though.

DEAN PETERSON, VIDEOGRAPHER: It is true, as long as it is not you.

MOOS (voice-over): But it was him. This is filmmaker Dean Peterson's subway stop in Sunset Park, Brooklyn. He videoed all of these other people tripping, because he kept tripping on that one step that was slightly higher than the others.

PETERSON: And I know that it's there but that doesn't stop me from tripping.

MOOS (voice-over): And it definitely didn't stop him from editing together and putting to music a montage of trippers, 17 of them, shot over a total of about an hour. There is even a guy carrying a kid.

PETERSON: I felt bad videotaping some of the people. And, luckily, nobody got hurt.

MOOS (voice-over): But they did get famous after Dean posted his montage.

MOOS: The next thing you know, the video was on a trip of its own around the world on the Internet.

MOOS (voice-over): "Let's all laugh at people tripping on stairs," was the headline out of Australia. But you know who wasn't laughing? The Metropolitan Transportation Authority. The day after the video went viral, repair guys were pacing the steps. At lease this guy didn't trip. Neither did this one. Commuters were happy to see them.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I almost busted my entire behind on that step.

MOOS (voice-over): This can't be what the MTA means when they say, have a nice trip -- Jeanne Moos, CNN. New York.


CROWLEY: That's it for me. Thank you very much for joinging us. I'm Candy Crowley in Washington. The news continues next in Washington.