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STARTING POINT WITH SOLEDAD O'BRIEN
No Power, Patience Running Off; Sarkozy's Home And Offices Raided; Fraud Alleged In Mexico Election; The Sun's 4th Of July Fireworks; Economic Storm Heading Towards U.S.; Missile Launchers Protecting Olympic Games; Massive Security At London Games; Toast To A Fallen Sailor
Aired July 4, 2012 - 06:59 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
BROOKE BALDWIN, CNN GUEST HOST: Good morning, everyone. I'm Brooke Baldwin -- I promise no hot dogs for me this morning -- in for Soledad on this holiday. Our "Starting Point," it is going to be a hot, hot Fourth of July. More than a million people waking up without the air- conditioning again this morning when I know you need it most. We're going to ask top power officials what is taking so long.
Also, peace through strength, London deploys missiles at the top of apartment building ahead of the Olympic Games, but how do the tenants feel about that?
And finding God. Scientists say they have discovered the so- called God particle. Why this might be the biggest scientific breakthrough ever?
And from particles to electrolytes. OK. I promise, I wouldn't be eating hot dogs. You will see this happening today. We're live at the Nathan's famous hot dog eating contest. Will a challenger emerge to take down Joey "Jaws" chestnut. We're live on Coney Island.
A packed show for you this morning. U.S. Olympic track star, Jeneba Tarmoh, on the show this morning. Also, CERN director, Gen. Rolf Heuer, and Virginia lieutenant governor, Bill Bolling.
It is Wednesday, the Fourth of July, happy Fourth of July by the way. STARTING POINT begins right now.
BALDWIN: Some fireworks to start you off right on Wednesday morning, of course, it's Lee Greenwood, "God Bless the USA," appropriate way to begin our playlist on this Fourth. Happy Fourth of July to all of you. Traditionally, today I know -- and hopefully for many of you -- will be filled with barbecues and fireworks. But, unfortunately, for a lot of people, that is not going to be the case.
Our STARTING POINT here this Independence Day, less about celebration and a lot more about patience, about 1.1 million people all across the country, they are waiting, waiting for the electricity to come back on and facing yet another day of intense heat. At least 20 people now have died since last Thursday when fierce storms just ripped the East and the Midwest.
And take a look. These are the states that are still waiting for power to return; you have West Virginia, still more than 300,000 customers in the dark there; Ohio, Virginia in similar shape. And power companies, they say they are out there, they say they are repairing the transmitters, the lines faster than expected, but their estimates show customers could be waiting until the weekend for electricity.
And as we mentioned, it is hot. All the while those unbearable temperatures keep spreading. Now 14 states under heat advisories today. Brian Todd is in Charleston, West Virginia, I know where it's supposed to be something 95 degrees there. And I see that tree behind you. I'm sure folks in that neighborhood, no power. And another big issue, a lot of people don't have food.
BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: That's right, Brooke, you were talking about people waiting on the power companies and waiting for the power to get up. But this is what's keeping them waiting. Seems like this all over the state. This oak tree snapped in half, took down this power line here, disabled this power pole up here.
And then you've got a domino effect throughout neighborhoods like this. Power company officials telling us these trees down are just a huge obstacle. And also, you know, they're blocking roads. We're right in the middle of a road here. You see the double yellow lines and this road may not be cleared for a little while. That is also impeding power crews as they try to move around.
You mention food shortages. An official with the governor's office here in West Virginia told me not too long ago that this may be one of the worst food crises in a long time. They have two main pantries that distribute nonperishable food to people in need. Those pantries pretty much are empty. They are starting a food drive this morning, trying to get food and water to people.
Water pressure is a huge issue because some of the pumps that pressure people's water and their showers and sinks, those pumps are fueled by electricity, they are down. So water pressure is a big problem. So people need to boil water. The National Guard is getting out, offering people help in getting water and boiling water and things like that. So that is a logistical problem as well.
How are people staying cool in this? We talked to some residents in West Virginia. It's pretty much any way they can at this point.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It's very hot. I'm been sitting on the porch since last night.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's pretty bad. The heat is the main thing, can't keep our apartment cool. I've never been without electric this long.
TODD: And some residents may not get power back until this weekend, Brooke. Right now we're told that about between a quarter and a third of the customers in this state are still without power, but crews are working feverishly right now to get them back online.
BALDWIN: What a Fourth of July for these folks. We're going to talk to the governor of West Virginia, also, Brian, a little later this morning about efforts he and the West Virginia National Guard are doing to try to get some of the folks much needed food. Brian Todd for us in Charleston. Thank you, Brian.
Over to Virginia, more than 200,000 customers there still waiting for power. Electric companies say it could take the entire weekend just to flip the lights back on. Temperatures expected to hit 100 degrees today. Virginia's National Guard also out and about, going door to door, checking on folks who are most vulnerable.
And Bill Bolling is lieutenant governor of Virginia. He is also running to become Virginia's governor in next year's election. He's joining me from the phone in Richmond.
Lieutenant Governor, good morning, Happy Fourth of July. You know, I know it's not so happy for a lot of people in your state; 236,000 is the latest number I have in terms of folks without power. Really the end of the weekend? That's when they'll get it back on?
BILL BOLLING (R), LIEUTENANT GOVERNOR OF VIRGINIA: Yes, good morning, that's the news for some unfortunate folks. We had (inaudible) 1.2 million people without power in Virginia when the storm hit. About 90 percent of those have now been restored. We had a lot of reconnections made yesterday and many overnight.
So we're now down to somewhere around 125,000 people without power. But these are in the hardest hit areas in northern Virginia and the Shenandoah Valley of Virginia. And in some of these instances, we have got 20, 30 trees down across the same power line at different points in the circuit.
So for some of these areas, particularly in the very urban and the very rural areas of the state, we could go into Friday, a little bit of Saturday, before we get everybody restored.
BALDWIN: Yes, I know as lieutenant governor, you have to be cool, calm and collected here. I was talking to the mayor of Washington, D.C., yesterday and he was very, very blunt, saying how fed up he was.
Just how frustrated are you with the fact that it's still 10 percent, 10 percent still don't have lights on?
BOLLING: Well, I think you have to accentuate the positive. The fact that 90 percent have been restored over the course of the past three or four days is pretty remarkable. I mean, remember, this is the largest power outage in the history of our state that was not directly the result of a hurricane.
And it's the third largest power outage in the history of the state, period. This was a totally unanticipated event. You know, when you have a hurricane coming up the coast, you have --
BALDWIN: You have days of preparation.
BOLLING: -- (inaudible) for it. This just kind of hit us out of the blue. So it's always frustrating when your power is out, particularly here when you have got these 100-degree days, but the fact that 90 percent of our citizens have had their power restored is a positive thing.
BALDWIN: I understand, let me just jump in.
BOLLING: Everybody is working as hard as they can to get that other 10 percent restored just as quickly as they can.
BALDWIN: I know they are, and you mentioned the heat.
Final question to you, we were just talking to our correspondent in West Virginia. It's really sort of a dire situation there as far as food supply. Are you seeing the same situation in Virginia?
BOLLING: Yes, same thing, and you know, what we're trying to do with our National Guard and other emergency management folks and local law enforcement officials, is they're trying to focus on finding people who are without power, making sure that they have ice for coolers, making sure that they have water to drink, making sure that they are taking advantage of cooling centers that are set up all across states that are still impacted.
That's the biggest challenge we're dealing with right now, is just the heat and the impact that that has on folks on the Fourth of July.
BALDWIN: Lieutenant Governor Bill Bolling, good luck with that, you have your hands full there in Virginia. We appreciate you coming on, calling in early this morning.
Appalachian Power, by the way, one of the utility companies trying to get both Virginia and West Virginia back on the grid, the company is bringing in thousands of extra workers from as far away as Nebraska just to try to fix the problem. They estimate power will be restored to 95 percent of the people by Sunday night.
But some say, look, that's not good enough. Still, take a look at all the people who have been waiting in line, five hours in line. Look at these people, just to buy generators at a store that hasn't even had its grand opening yet.
Charles Patton is the president of Appalachian Power. Charles, good morning to you. You know, I've read that you're calling this a major historical disaster. But as far as power restoration, where do you stand right now?
CHARLES PATTON, PRESIDENT, APPALACHIAN POWER: Initially at the peak of the storm, we had approximately 336,000 customers out here in West Virginia, and that number is now down to 187,000.
BALDWIN: Down to 187. In the D.C. Area, PEPCO, one of -- the main utility company, very much so, bearing the brunt of the blame. System is not efficient; systems haven't been overhauled. I know in West Virginia and Virginia, you all are faring better.
This has been compared to the 2009 blizzard, 220,000 or so Appalachian Power customers were in the dark there. I understand the systems were overhauled. So do you see an improvement from '09, sir?
PATTON: Well, actually, this storm was twice the damage of the '09 storm.
PATTON: And despite -- twice, yes, the '09 storm, across our system, we had 222,000 outages. And for this storm, we had 570,000 outages across our entire system.
And if you look at it over the first 48 hours, we were actually a little bit quicker on the last storm with restoration. But that was largely because of the ability to stage crews. We knew that storm was coming. This storm, however, was a surprise to most people.
BALDWIN: Right, and you have neighboring states normally can come in and help you, contracted utility workers, they're bearing the brunt as well. So I know it took a little longer from states a little farther away.
You're in West Virginia; we mentioned we're going to be talking to the governor, who, along with the National Guard, has been working on this big food drive because it's such an issue in West Virginia.
So my question to you, with folks out of food and in very rural parts of the state, how do you prioritize service?
PATTON: Well, first of all, we look at critical care. We look at hospitals. We look at water and wastewater facilities so we can make sure that our customers in this region do have water, potable water. And then what we try to do is get the biggest bang for our buck, meaning we try to get as many customers on as we can with the next operation that we undertake.
BALDWIN: The last big storm, I understand that the rate payers did have to absorb some $18 million in damage over the course of some eight years or so. People are wondering now, Charles, will Appalachian Power customers be bearing the brunt, financially speaking, this time around as well?
PATTON: Yes, in rate making, when you have unusual situations like this one that are unexpected, those dollars, those costs are not factored into the rates that we charge. So we typically go back with the oversight of the commission as well as all of the other stakeholders and determine what the appropriate amount is to make the company whole.
BALDWIN: Charles Patton --
PATTON: And so we can reinvest in the system.
BALDWIN: Yes. I'm sure you've gotten many frustrated phone calls in the last couple of days. We appreciate you coming on early and working on this holiday. I know a lot of people appreciate that. Charles Patton, thank you.
And as people all across the country are dealing with the fallout from all these storms from days ago, the heat this morning, there is a new threat of thunderstorms. Let's go to meteorologist Alexandra Steele. She's in for Rob this morning. I'm afraid to ask about these storms, when and where?
ALEXANDRA STEELE, AMS METEOROLOGIST: All right, well, there's really not a huge threat. There's no severe weather expected today, on the whole, around the country. No one on this July 4th, many people off, will have a washout.
So first thing you know, where are we really seeing the worst of it in terms of the power outages and the intense heat, in Washington and Maryland and Virginia, not going to see any break from the heat, unfortunately, between 95 and 100 today. And no real break until the weekend.
In terms of the temperatures, 102 in places like Kansas City, so that's really where the intense heat is. What we're looking at -- what Brooke was referring to, some thunderstorms, there's a lot of moisture in the air, much more so.
So it actually, for especially people on the Eastern Seaboard and even into Minneapolis, it's so much more humid, the dew point, the measure, the director measure of how much moisture is in the air, it is just off the charts high. So a lot more humid than it's been, although temperatures really aren't as hot as they were. Really will feel a lot more uncomfortable.
So in the morning in the northeast, we'll see some showers. Then we'll see a break in the afternoon. Southeast, a dry start. Some isolated showers developing in the afternoon. But it looks like a lot of these places really will get the fireworks in.
So things looking good in Washington, Atlanta, Memphis, hot for sure, but firework potential is on. It looks like more of a bang than a bust around 9 o'clock when we see the fireworks begin.
BALDWIN: All right. Alexandra, thank, happy Fourth of July, by the way, to you.
STEELE: And to you, too.
BALDWIN: And to Poppy Harlow now with the rest of the day's top stories.
Poppy, good morning.
POPPY HARLOW, CNNMONEY.COM CORRESPONDENT: Good morning, Brooke. Great to have you in New York.
Folks, take a look at this, incredible new and heartbreaking video of an entire neighborhood going up in flames in Colorado Springs, sparks and flames jumping from roof to roof, firefighters forced to make tough decisions about which homes to save and which homes will have to burn with high winds keeping them on their toes.
The Waldo Canyon fire is now 70 percent contained. That is good news but it has destroyed more than 350 homes, damage topping $110 million.
And the JetBlue pilot who was arrested for a wild tirade during a flight in March deemed insane. A judge in Texas ruling that 49-year- old Clayton Osbon is not guilty of interfering with the flight crew by reason of insanity. Osbon suffers from a severe mental illness that has impaired his ability to understand his actions. He was subdued by passengers after a co-pilot locked him out of the cockpit.
And then some July fireworks celebration, turning into an emergency situation, seven people, including several children, were hurt in New Hampshire last night, when a pile of fireworks exploded on a back porch during a family party.
Several of the victims actually had to be airlifted to the hospital. The back of the home also caught on fire. Neighbors say the homeowner was known for his annual fireworks displays.
And security will be very tight later today at Fourth of July celebrations in Washington, D.C., and in New York. But law enforcement officials say they have no evidence that terrorists are plotting any kind of attacks. According to police, one of the primary concerns in terms of security on this Independence Day is the possibility of a lone wolf attack.
And he'll consume more calories in 10 minutes than most of us will all week, Joey Chestnut, who holds the official world record for eating -- get this -- 68 hot dogs and buns in 10 minutes is going to try for his sixth straight win this year at Nathan's Famous Hot Dog Eating Contest on Coney Island. We'll take you live to Coney Island, where all of that happens, a little bit later in the show, Brooke.
BALDWIN: What's with the head bob? Why is that necessary?
HARLOW: I don't know why it's necessary.
HARLOW: Great question.
BALDWIN: I don't ever want to know why it's necessary, I guess. Poppy Harlow, thank you. We'll see you a little later this morning. Ahead on STARTING POINT, a big get real on, of all days, the Fourth of July, a cemetery banning flags on veterans' graves, stars and stripes called unsightly.
And millions of people traveling on this Fourth of July, how you can save money if you are heading out this week and where the real summer travel deals are. STARTING POINT scene, heading in, Richard Socarides, Margaret Hoover and Ryan Lizza. And this is my tune, Alabama Shakes, "Hold On."
Welcome. Happy Fourth of July. We have props somewhere.
HARLOW: Good morning, Happy Fourth of July, everyone. Welcome back to STARTING POINT. A few quick headlines to tell you about.
First up, former U.S. Commerce Secretary John Bryson will not be charged with -- for two auto crashes last month. Tests revealed no sign of alcohol in Bryson's system, but they did find a trace of the drug Ambien. Bryson was on last month. He had been on medical leave after the accident, which he says were caused by seizures.
And the New York Stock Exchange is closed for the Fourth of July holiday today. Trading resumes tomorrow and all eyes will be on that very important June jobs report and it is scheduled to be released before the opening bell on Friday morning. But we had a nice close for the stock market yesterday, Brooke, ahead of the holiday.
BALDWIN: Good deal. Poppy, thank you so much.
And let's see, today's STARTING POINT team, we have Richard Socarides -- such a pleasure to meet you this morning, former senior adviser to President Clinton and writer at NewYorker.com.
Also it's Margaret Hoover, author of "American Individualism" and a former employee of the Bush White House.
And Ryan Lizza, Washington correspondent at "The New Yorker," gold stars all around. I stole some food. It's a holiday and it's early and it's a pleasure to be here.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Happy Fourth.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Happy Fourth of July.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: All sorts of props.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: These were Margaret's idea.
BALDWIN: Margaret's idea? Well, we sat, yesterday after the show, trying to think what we do, we need a little red, white and blue, we brought it this morning.
We're going to bring it now. Millions of people expected to take advantage of the long holiday weekend this Fourth of July. AAA predicts more than 42.3 million Americans are going to be going more than 50 miles from home. That's nearly a 5 percent increase from last year.
And it could tie the previous high that was set back in 2007. And if you are among those many travelers out and about or you are planning a summer vacation, we have some great ways to save money.
Courtney Scott is a senior editor at Travelocity. And she is joining us in the studio this morning.
COURTNEY SCOTT, SENIOR EDITOR, TRAVELOCITY: Good morning. Happy Fourth.
BALDWIN: Happy Fourth. I love we have the red, while and blue between the three of us ladies, very nice.
BALDWIN: And so if we're talking about the millions of people on the road and then I just have to throw in there what we've been talking about the last couple of days, between the wildfires in Colorado, the horrible situation this, and multiple states with the power outages, the trees down, et cetera, what's it looking like for this weekend, travel wise?
SCOTT: Well, the reality is that travel is more expensive this weekend and roads are going to be more congested. There's going to be heavier delays at the airports.
But the good news is that, as far as travel goes, our call centers are seeing normal calls. So no real emergencies for the weekend and even though there are some challenges with the fires and electrical issues, we're going to see a pretty normal, heavy stream of travel this weekend.
BALDWIN: What about in terms of affordability and if -- you know, I don't know if this weekend, maybe it's costing folks a little bit more, a lot of people pinching pennies.
Are there other weekends that are maybe more affordable for people with kids, like Ryan Lizza?
BALDWIN: With a 3- and 5-year old?
RYAN LIZZA, "THE NEW YORKER": Yes.
SCOTT: Historically, the Fourth of July and Labor Day always going to be really expensive for travel. We have some great cheaper weekends throughout the rest of the summer. For example, next weekend is a really great cheaper weekend to travel.
The following weekend after that, also great. And in August, the ultimate cheapest weekend is the 24th to the 26th, just before Labor Day, people are kind of not thinking about that weekend. Most people tend to take their families away for Labor Day. And it's a great value.
MARGARET HOOVER, AUTHOR, "AMERICAN INDIVIDUALISM": So was that a good value five minutes ago before you announced it was the cheapest weekend?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's kind of strange, right, that the holiday is on Wednesday this year.
BALDWIN: Middle of the week.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Middle of the week, so --
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: -- when do you go away? Are most people going away later in the week?
SCOTT: Actually, we see that the cheaper time to travel was prior to the holiday and kind of coming back tomorrow. So potentially a lot of people are already headed out and then this weekend is a more expensive time to travel.
Weekends in general are actually not the cheapest time to travel. You want to be more flexible with your dates. You want to try to leave on a Thursday, come back on a Monday morning. You're really going to see the deeper savings there.
Also, about flexibility, you want to look for multiple airports when you're searching your tools. That way you can really see the full breadth of what's available to you and make a more --
BALDWIN: (Inaudible) do that, click on the other airports?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I do. Well, you know what I do do, is they have these great sites now -- maybe you'll tell us what they are called -- that where you can sort of search by when you want to go and where you could go most cheaply or you can sort of just put in a date or you can put in a destination to find out when you want to go most cheaply.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: On Travelocity, right?
SCOTT: Well, date search is fully available to you.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: That's what it's called. There you go.
SCOTT: And also, these tools are available on apps, which is a great place to search for travel.
BALDWIN: What are some good ones?
SCOTT: Some of my favorites, well, first of all, there's Travelocity's app, which I love, great to plan your itineraries, finding mobile-exclusive hotel deals. These are deals that aren't on the site and they're released daily on the mobile app. So keep that in mind.
GasBuddy is really fun for road trips this summer. It will give you the real-time gas prices in whatever -- you target it -- whatever destination you're in.
HOOVER: That is a great app.
BALDWIN: That is awesome.
HOOVER: (Inaudible) incredible app, you're driving along, no, go another mile, it's 10 cents cheaper up the road.
SCOTT: Another fun one for Richard --
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I don't imagine you doing that.
SCOTT: I would absolutely do that. I'm a bargain shopper.
BALDWIN: Come on, John. (Inaudible).
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: But it really sounds like fun, good time, GasBuddy.
SCOTT: FlightTrack Pro for keeping track of all of those airfares, weather, radar, it's the most comprehensive flight tracking app. And it's (inaudible).
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: (Inaudible) all of your travel in one place.
BALDWIN: All right. I'll check it out.
Courtney Scott, thank you so much.
SCOTT: Thank you.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Thank you.
BALDWIN: Still ahead this morning on STARTING POINT, a major flag flap at a cemetery in Texas. Why they are not letting Old Glory fly on veterans' graves. That is our "Get Real." Ryan Lizza's playlist, "Flaming Lips." It is summertime. You're watching STARTING POINT.
HARLOW: Welcome back to STARTING POINT everyone. I find this first story just fascinating. The first over-the-counter in-home HIV test has been approved by the FDA. Users of OraQuick swab their gums with a test pad and place it in a vial of solution. It's expected to be in stores in October and it will cost about 20 bucks.
Some sad news to tell you about this morning. The family of beloved actor Andy Griffith has laid him to rest. Less than five hours after the man known as the sheriff of Mayberry passed away, Griffith was buried on the North Carolina island that he calls home. He was 86 years old.
Brooke, we'll always remember him in that show, right?
BALDWIN: I know. (Inaudible) the tune, the whistling, the whole deal. Andy Griffith. Thanks, Poppy, so much.
Time for our "Get Real." So it's Fourth of July, a day I know a lot of people take a moment, you know, you thank the men and women, members of the military, of course, for their service and their sacrifice, and oftentimes, like this soldier you see here, people go to cemeteries. They place flags on gravesites of fallen troops.
But here's the but, there's a cemetery in Texas and they say, nope, you can't put flags on the gravesites. There's this whole controversial ordinance.
It was actually recently approved by the city council of Mineral Wells that says flags are only allowed at graves at the cemetery -- this Woodland Park cemetery -- only one week before and one week after Memorial Day and Veterans Day. So that takes the Fourth of July and Labor Day out of it.
And so just bringing you guys in. Apparently what they are saying is, you know, it's not just flags, but, you know, people go to the cemeteries. They put teddy bears, little sort of trinkets that maybe are, you know, important -- significant for that particular person, but they are saying it becomes -- to use their word -- "unsightly."
LIZZA: I feel bad for the city council that put this down because they were trying to do something that would help the people who are cleaning up the cemetery. The graves were getting unsightly.
One thing you don't do in this country though is tell people they can't put flags on gravestones, no matter how good the spirit is behind that idea. These poor city council members are getting hammered.
BALDWIN: I have a feeling it will be overturned.
RICHARD SOCARIDES, WRITER, NEWYORKER.COM: -- other who are sympathetic as you are because this is crazy, right? I mean, if anything you ought to be able to put a flag there. This preoccupation with order that we have sometimes --
BALDWIN: Kind of ridiculous you think.
SOCARIDES: I think it's ridiculous.
MARGARET HOOVER, CNN POLITICAL CONTRIBUTOR: Especially on the Fourth of July. This has been going on for some time, of course they'll be able to at the end of the day have flags at grave site especially it's a military cemetery.
SOCARIDES: Nobody is an anti-flag person here.
HOOVER: Nobody is anti-flag person here. We all think the flag should be able to be at the cemetery.
BALDWIN: They have a meeting July 10th to reconsider this whole thing.
LIZZA: What are the chances it gets reconsidered?
BALDWIN: I think pretty high. I'm going to go with that. Guys, thank you.
Still ahead on STARTING POINT here, former French president Nicolas Sarkozy in a bit of legal trouble this morning. Why police raided his home and raided his offices.
And not on my roof, surface to air missiles, imagine this, surface to air missiles sitting on top of the apartment building in London to protect the summer Olympic games. A lot of controversy over this one. We're going to hear with some of the folks with the surface to air missiles on their roofs.
Also a warning from the IMF about the economic recovery or perhaps lack thereof in the United States. Chief business correspondent, Ali Velshi, back with what this means for the rest of this in your money.
From Ali's playlist, a little Bruno Mars, "The Lazy Song." Not so lazy on this holiday morning. You're watching STARTING POINT.
BALDWIN: Welcome back to STARTING POINT on this Fourth of July, Poppy Harlow with today's top stories. Hi, Poppy.
POPPY HARLOW, CNN.COM CORRESPONDENT: Good morning, Brooke. Well, the heat wave and power outages continue unfortunately, more than a million people waking up this morning without air conditioning, again, just when they need it the most.
Temperatures expected to be in the mid to high 90s with even more stifling humidity from St. Louis all the way to Philadelphia. At least 20 people have died since Thursday when deadly storms slammed the east and the Midwest.
Meantime, police in France are looking into whether former President Sarkozy received illegal campaign contributions. They raided his home and offices yesterday while he was vacationing in Canada.
They are investigating L'Oreal cosmetic's heiress, Liliane Bettencourt and her staff to see if they illegally helped Sarkozy during his 2007 presidential campaign.
The runner up in Sunday's presidential election in Mexico is demanding a recount. Leftist party leader Andreus Manuel Lopez Obrador insists the vote was, quote, "plagued by irregularities."
Enriquez Pena Nieto is Mexico's presumed president elect. Mexico's federal election begins the process of verifying individual poll results today.
Some intergalactic fireworks for your Fourth of July holiday, these amazing images show a solar flare that was so powerful it disrupted radio communications over Europe.
It also sent electrically charged particles shooting into space that might pass sweep passed earth's magnetic field to spark some fireworks. If you understand that last one, that's like Bill Nye, the science guy and the whole "God Particle" thing coming up later.
BALDWIN: Yes, we got more of that, by the way. But I'm amazed by technology, that we can take those kinds of pictures I think is pretty impressive in and of itself. Poppy Harlow, thank you.
New concerns, about the U.S. economy this morning, the IMF, the International Monetary Fund now warning Congress, you need to act sooner rather than later here and get off this fiscal cliff or the U.S. could fall back into a recession.
In its annual report on the U.S. economy, the IMF reports there could be an economic disaster if the automatic tax hikes and spending cuts take effect next year, saying, quote, "failure to reach an agreement on near-term tax and spending policies would trigger a severe fiscal tightening with negative growth early next year and significant negative repercussions on an already fragile world economy."
Ali Velshi has been talking about this for quite a while. He is our chief business correspondent. You're talking a lot about this economic storm.
You know, first just to be clear, what is this $4 trillion in expiring tax cuts, spending reductions and here we are talking about this last couple of days. July 11th, the House is voting on repealing health care when really --
ALI VELSHI, CNN CHIEF BUSINESS CORRESPONDENT: This is exactly it. Conservatives accuse President Obama of spending too much time on health care when he should have been worrying about the economy.
At this point, we actually have to move off the health care discussion. The IMF, Christine Lagarde who runs it. She was the former French finance minister.
Maybe she doesn't hang around with a lot of American conservatives because what she hears is that they don't want a lecture from the IMF, but what the IMF is saying is what everybody in the world knows.
That there are two things we can worry about in America and that is job creation and economic growth or cutting deficits and cutting the debt. They are both important, but at this point in our economic cycle, one is more important than the other.
And the lesson is, deal with the things that are happening before the end of the year. I would like if this Congress dealt with it and not wait until after the election and then deal with deficit cutting and debt later.
There's a storm over in Europe and storm in Washington and it's going to be the perfect storm when it meets and it could send us in a recession.
BALDWIN: Let's be realistic. You write about this, this is an election year. This is going to happen before the elections?
LIZZA: No, it's not going to happen before the election unless we see --
SOCARIDES: The solution is not going to happen.
LIZZA: Unless we see dreadful jobs reports. Ali, isn't the real solution here short-term stimulus, long term deficit reduction, that could be combined in one package?
VELSHI: You're right. There are actually a few combinations that you can use to bake a cake out of the things we got. The problem is we're baking nothing.
So the issue is we've got three things. We've got the sequester or sequestration, depending on how you want it. It's a stupid name for a stupid thing, which means all of these across the board cuts are going to come along because we couldn't make a decision on the debt ceiling.
And then, by the way we have another debt ceiling debate coming up and once again, we'll wait until the last second until the treasury says there are bills that are not going to get paid.
And the third thing that we've got is the expiration of the Bush tax cuts and other benefits go away. Now there's a real valid argument as to whether you want to continue or end the Bush tax cuts.
We shouldn't be having that argument under duress pushed into a corner with the deadline when it's about to happen and recession may set in. That's the problem.
HOOVER: That's exactly what's going to happen. We'll have the election the first week of November and then Thanksgiving and basically the lame duck Congress is going to have come back with maybe a lame duck president or maybe not but they have to figure out how to get through all of this.
VELSHI: -- be done better than it would be done now. I would love to see people --
HOOVER: Actually, of course, idealistically we would love to see our government not influenced by the realities of politics. I talked to people in Washington, both in executive agencies and in Congress.
Nobody actually believes sequestration. This flat cut is really going to happen. They think congress can pass the law to cut it or pass a law to put it back in place to prevent the cuts.
SOCARIDES: That's true, they can.
HOOVER: The defense secretary saying these kinds of cuts to the Defense Department, Obama's appointed press secretary saying these cuts simply cannot -- will damage the military.
VELSHI: The problem isn't what might happen or could happen. It's what Americans feel could happen. We're on a knife's edge. Some Americans think housing prices are low. Mortgages are low.
They are still buying cars. They are still shopping. Gas prices went down in June. They started shopping a little more and now gas prices have gone up for two days in a row.
Guess what, 25 cents difference in a gallon of gas makes actually makes a difference if you earn $50,000 a year. It's how people think.
SOCARIDES: I don't think people understand how this is different, what's happening at the end of the year. Ryan you wrote about it in your "New Yorker" piece about the Obama second term.
You know, all of what's come before is nothing compared to what we're facing at the end of the year. You call it taxmageddon.
LIZZA: It's very serious, this should be the issue of the election and especially in the fall it will be. I think it's not so bad that this doesn't get settled before the election?
BALDWIN: You don't? LIZZA: This is what the election will determine. The winner of this debate will have somehow of a mandate to put their vision forward and deal --
VELSHI: I'm not being unrealistic in thinking that it will. What I would love to do is use it as a litmus test to see who Americans should vote for.
Come forward and say I will fall on my sword and do the right thing even if my constituents don't think it's the right thing because the country is more important than my being elected a politician.
Which, by the way, isn't a career to start with, I would say pull those people up. We'll put them on the big wall and say these are people in Congress that did the right thing. They should get your vote.
BALDWIN: The discussion should go back to the economy and I think it is officially now. Ali Velshi, thank you.
VELSHI: Happy Fourth to you.
BALDWIN: Happy Fourth to you, my Canadian friend.
Ahead on STARTING POINT, U.K. police using surface to air missiles to protect the Olympic games, but they're putting them on apartment building rooftops. A lot of people not thrilled about that. We're going to go live to London this morning.
Also a glass of beer left on the bar, it was meant to honor a fallen sailor. But it turned into a national tribute. More than 2 million likes, the waitress who helped this memorial go viral will join us live. You're watching STARTING POINT.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I'm an engineer and I'm the founder of Little Bits. These are Little Bits. Little Bits is a system of electronic modules that snap together with magnets to teach kids about science and technology.
One of my favorite things is seeing the first time people interact with Little Bits. They take the two pieces and snap the two pieces together and a light comes on and suddenly their face lights up.
Suddenly you feel like a whole world of imagination opened up to them and they are able to imagine what's possible.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BALDWIN: So the summer Olympics, they are starting later this month in London. But here's the thing, Britain's Defense Department confirms there will be six missile launchers positioned all around the city to protect games from terrorists.
Two of those services to air missile sites will be located on top of apartment buildings, despite some very loud protests from folks who live there.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I can't imagine any situation in which you could safely use a high velocity missile.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I kind of felt like it was a bit extreme. I wouldn't really want it to be on top of my house.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BALDWIN: We want to bring in Nic Robertson live for us in London. Nic, you know, I know people. I'm sure a lot of people as we heard from are quite frustrating thinking there are massive missiles on the rooftops of their homes. But at the same time, they have to understand why they are there.
NIC ROBERTSON, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Absolutely. The government has made its point clear, it will fight any objections in court and they have no doubt whatsoever that it will win its case.
The government is going to push these missile systems through come what may. Six of them around the Olympics, the missiles have a range of 3 1/2 miles. They fly at three times the time of sound.
It's part of a bigger picture of aerial security. There are fighter jets that are being based just outside of London to again secure the Olympics.
You have a naval ship with 800 Marines close by, 7,500 soldiers, Special Forces, deployed traveling in if they need to on helicopters. This is part of a range is what the government is saying.
But it does seem in a good measure the government mismanaged how to sort of sell putting these missile systems into the very people who will have to live with them -- Brooke.
BALDWIN: I can't imagine. I was in London recently for the diamond jubilee and it seems with the security it was a dress rehearsal for what was to come with the Olympics. Don't they have fighter jets on standby? Tell me what else they are preparing for.
ROBERTSON: The 7,500 soldiers, 12,500 policemen, Special Forces who will come out of helicopters, arrived by helicopters, 800 Marines on a ship not far away. These are some of what we know about.
There are other things happening. Look, in the last year and a half, the British jails have emptied 50 to 80 terror convicts. There are concerns because of many them are in East London what they could do.
We know that the British police are doing whatever they can to get them off the streets. Some of them are still considered high risk. We're aware some have even been called back to jail.
There are other efforts to get some of them outside of London and there have been terror arrests just last week. Two suspected radicals near the site and threat of terrorism from Ireland, from Irish Republicans who are building very sophisticated weapon systems at the moment according to intelligence sources here.
So there are a massive number of threats. From what we know again, the police are really behind the scenes. You have the high profile stuff but behind scenes there's an awful lot more going on -- Brooke.
BALDWIN: It's interesting about Ireland after the fact that Queen Elizabeth was just there shaking hands or symbolically trying to mend fences. Senior international correspondent, Nic Robertson, Thank you so much for us in London
Next on STARTING POINT, this is quite the story, perhaps you even liked this photo on Facebook. You don't want to miss this here. On this Independence Day, really it's a toast to a fallen sailor that has become a salute to all of our nation's heroes on the web.
We're going to talk to the waitress who posted this photo that absolutely went viral. You're watching STARTING POINT.
BALDWIN: It was a small yet very poignant memorial for a fallen American sailor, but it has grown into a national tribute to all troops. A Navy veteran walked into a Texas Bennigan's restaurant and left just this pint of beer for his friend killed Afghanistan.
A waitress posted a picture of the toast here on her Facebook page, and it has since received more two million likes. I was just checking last night, it's incredible.
Along with this glass of beer, a handwritten note reads, in memory of Lieutenant JG Francis Toner, USN, killed in action, 27 March, 2009, Afghanistan.
Then written in Latin is translated it for you, not for self, but for country, and the words in all capital letters, you see there, not forgotten.
Hanna Hobbs is the waitress who took that picture and posted it to Facebook. She joins me now along with Bennigan's CEO, Paul Mangiamele. So welcome to both of you and good morning.
it's a pleasure to be here.
BALDWIN: What a story, Hanna, just begin with me. So you're at work at your Texas restaurant, and the guy says I want a pint of beer not for myself, but for my friend.
HANNAH HOBBS, SERVER, BENNIGANS: He came in and he ordered two pints. He put one next to him. He drank one and then he drank another one. He ate and then when he was ready to go, he asked me for another beer and to give it to a stranger from Francis. Yes, it was pretty neat.
BALDWIN: I understand you got more of the back story. You read the note, and you didn't want to pour it out.
HOBBS: No. We closed at 10:00. I think I poured it out at about 11:30.
LIZZA: You took a picture of it.
HOOVER: Yes, but not before you took the picture and posted it on Facebook.
BALDWIN: Talk a little bit about the reaction. Let me just read some of the reaction here. Very special photo, Hanna. I am a Marine, so it holds a special place in my heart. Thank you for posting this about my late brother-in-law.
He was truly one of the greatest people I ever met. My sister loves that you did this. He will never be forgotten. Did you in a million years think you would get the kind of reaction you got?
HOBBS: No. I thought I would get like 40 likes, you know. I woke up the next day with like 20,000.
LIZZA: Had you learned the back story of this person? I don't know if anyone knows, but he won the Silver Star because he was jogging and was fired at by some Afghan troops, and ran into the line of fire and probably saved the lives of so many of the other sailors --
BALDWIN: He saved the life of the man who left the pint of beer.
LIZZA: I was just saying that on a day like today, we need to remember because we so often forget the enormous sacrifice that all of our troops, you know, especially in the last decade, over 2,000 U.S. troop deaths in Afghanistan. I think 4,400 in Iraq. I mean, enormous sacrifice. Each of these families have paid the ultimate sacrifice for our freedom.
HOOVER: And Paul, what you're doing as our troops are returning now, you're the CEO of Bennigan's. You've heard the story and you're doing something from Bennigan's perspective to help returning vets. Do you want to tell us what you're doing?
PAUL MANGIAMELE, CEO, BENNIGANS: I would be so happy to. First of all, we are very proud of Hanna. I mean, what she did in a very selfless act. It's just amazing. And the power of the internet is actually just mind boggling with over 1 million likes.
BALDWIN: It's stunning, isn't it?
MANGIAMELE: It really is and so with us, there's all of these veterans coming back of the over 20 million of them, and many coming from Afghanistan and the war.
And we are thinking of so how do we welcome them home and not just pay lip service to it? So what we're actually doing is being as a member of the International Franchise Association, we are participating in operation -- of course, it has to be an operation, operation enduring opportunity.
Which actually gives an opportunity for returning vets that qualifies for some of the money that's available for the financing to open up a Bennigan's and flex their entrepreneurial muscles and get into business and hopefully hire other vets as part of the team like we have with Hanna.
HOOVER: And it is true that you're waiving the franchise fee?
MANGIAMELE: Waiving it entirely, absolutely.
HOOVER: So they don't have the same barriers to entry that ordinary have?
MANGIAMELE: That's right.
SOCARIDES: It's so great what you're doing. And it used to be in our history, that when veterans came back after fighting for us, I mean, the whole country turned out.
We would do anything for our veterans, right, because they were paying this enormous sacrifice. And nowadays, you know, they are largely forgotten. I think it's really fantastic what you're doing.
HOOVER: I don't know if they are largely forgotten. I think you're speaking of the Vietnam days. We have learned from our Vietnam days in many ways.
SOCARIDES: It seems to me we used to do anything we could for them. The GI bill and now we have issues related to health care. We have issues. These veterans ought to get the best health care. They ought to get subsidized loans, anything they need.
BALDWIN: Absolutely. And I just have to ask you, you put this picture up on Facebook. I know you have somehow through the power of the internet been in touch with the family of this fallen sailor. What have they said to you?
HOBBS: Thank you. Thanks for telling everyone about him, you know. It's just --
BALDWIN: It still gets you a little emotional, however many months later.
HOBBS: Yes, very emotional.
HOBBS: It's sad. I mean, he -- they were a beautiful couple.
HOOVER: He was married?
HOBBS: He was married. They were beautiful together.
MANGIAMELE: When you look at that story, for Frankie, as he's known, and he and his wife taught bible school, and this was the day before he was going to ship out.
HOOVER: Yes. He was just about to come home.
MANGIAMELE: And he did a legendary act and we are known for legendary service in food and all of that. So we wanted to do something legendary to honor the ultimate sacrifice this guy made for his country.
BALDWIN: To Frankie and the rest of the men and women, I think we all say thank you on this Fourth of July.
MANGIAMELE: Couldn't be a better day for it.
BALDWIN: Be right back.