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Voter I.D. Law In Court This Hour; Obama Revives Bush Tax Cut Fight; GOP Targets Obamacare Today; Internet Blackout For Many Americans; $14 Billion Too Much Paid Out; London 2012 Sponsorship Debate; British Airways: We Google VIP Fliers; Federer Wins Seventh Wimbledon; Tightrope Walker's Terrifying Fall; Polls: Obama Big Lead Among Latinos; Obama Revives Bush Tax Cut Fight; Outrage over Taliban Execution; "Happy Days" Cast Settles CBS Suit; States Overpaying Jobless Benefits; 64 Die from Mystery Illness
Aired July 9, 2012 - 10:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
CAROL COSTELLO: CNN ANCHOR: In the voting booth, should you be required to show an ID to vote? That question front and center in federal court today. So, is it about protecting voter fraud or preventing minorities from voting?
Plus this -- it's almost become another symbol and getting the gold, the golden arches, but now controversy may mean that McDonald's cannot sponsor the Olympic Games?
And the next time you drive past your corner gas station, check out how much the price has gone up. We will tell you what's behind it and if prices will continue to skyrocket. NEWSROOM starts right now.
Good Monday morning to you. I'm Carol Costello. Thank you so much for joining us.
Right now, a major legal fight gets under way over voter rights and a state's authority to protect the process. In a Washington courtroom, the Justice Department will challenge Texas's proposed law that would require voters to show identification.
Early this morning on CNN's "STARTING POINT," we heard from one Texas lawmaker who scores at claims that minorities are being unfairly targeted by these laws.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REPRESENTATIVE KEVIN BRADY (R), TEXAS: What we really want are people who are eligible to vote. We want as many as possible to get to the polls and register to vote. We don't want people who are dead.
CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN ANCHOR: Of course not. Nobody wants that.
BRADY: We want actual real ballots from real people and this law does that.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COSTELLO: CNN crime and justice correspondent Joe Johns joins us now from Washington. So, what's the core issue before the court today?
JOE JOHNS, CNN CRIME AND JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: Carol, the question in court is really about simply ensuring the integrity of the ballot making sure that fraudulent votes are not cast while also making sure voting rights of minorities are protected.
And what side you're on often is likely going to be determined by your party affiliation. Republicans have been arguing for a long time now that voter fraud is a big problem so several states, including Texas, have enacted laws that require voters to present photo identification.
Democrats say a lot of Democratic voters, especially segments of the African-American, Hispanic populations tend to lacked kinds of photo identification that these laws require talking about driver's license, military I.D., United States passport.
So the question before the court is whether the law prevents anyone from voting based on race. The Justice Department says it could, which is why it blocked implementation of the law back in march after the state passed it.
The state of Texas says the law wouldn't unfairly discriminate against minorities. Of course, this issue is really just heating up in time for the fall elections.
Part of the reason this case is in federal court now is because both the state of Texas and the Justice Department simply want a ruling before the voting begins in November -- Carol.
COSTELLO: OK, so every election year, Joe, we hear about some dead person voting. But when you get right down to it, is voter fraud a huge problem in this country?
JOHNS: There are a lot of people who contend it is a very small problem, almost diminimus, as lawyers would say. But on the other hand, there are some who say even if one person gets through who isn't a legitimate voter, then that's big problem for the system.
Now the other thing I think we have to talk about here is Eric Holder, the attorney general. He has been under tremendous pressure, as you know.
He has also been hit with contempt of congress citation, a lot of Republicans have said they went after him because of the "Fast and Furious" investigation, you know all about that.
But Democrats and Holder have said they went after him because he's been the guy attacking voter identification laws. He is giving a speech at the NAACP, likely to make that case, of course. Republicans would deny that charge.
They say it was all about "Fast and Furious" and the fact that Justice Department had not turned over certain documents to Republicans on Capitol Hill.
There is a new CNN/ORC poll that shows the public sort of agrees both sides. On one hand, 53 percent of voters think it was proper for the congress to find Holder in contempt.
At the same time, 6-10 respondents said there was a political motive for the contempt citation. So the public is split on this issue and not sure what to think about it -- Carol.
COSTELLO: Joe Johns reporting live from Washington.
Now we want to turn your attention to money and your vote. In the next hour, President Obama is focusing on both as he prepares for an announcement at the White House.
He will call on Congress to pass a one year extension of Bush era tax cuts, but here is the key. He wants the cuts only for families earning less than $250,000 a year.
Mitt Romney and the Republicans want the breaks to also include the wealthy. That contrast will fuel Obama's campaign message this week when he visits battleground states.
The Obama message, he is a defender of the middle class while Mitt Romney only wants to protect rich people like himself. When the president visits those battleground states this week, he will be lobbying for the very folks that could decide the election.
In these 12 swing states, voters don't lean heavily toward either party and will soon settle on their choice but not just yet. According to a "USA Today"/Gallup poll, the presidential race is locked in a statistical tie.
Obama has a razor-thin edge of two-percentage points, but that falls within the margin of error.
Congress is back from its Fourth of July break and tops on the agenda, repeal Obamacare. Of course, the repeal effort may pass the Republican-controlled House, but it doesn't have a prayer in the Democratic-controlled Senate. So is the vote pointless or not?
Dana Bash is our senior congressional correspondent. So, half of America dislikes Mr. Obama's health care law. This repeal effort probably will go down in flames. So is there a bigger strategy here?
DANA BASH, CNN SENIOR CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: It is all about, hold onto your hat, Carol, politics. Can you believe it? And setting the narrative and continuing to repeat the narrative over and over again which is really, in politics, is the only way to have that message effective.
To listen to what Mitch McConnell, the Senate minority leader said to our Candy Crowley yesterday to understand what they are trying to say after the Supreme Court.
We talked about it last week, but it is really even more clear now. They are going to hammer home over and over again what the chief justice said, which is that the mandate is a tax. Take a listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SENATOR MITCH MCCONNELL (R), MINORITY LEADER: The president said it wouldn't raise taxes. It is raising taxes. The president said --
CANDY CROWLEY, HOST, CNN'S "STATE OF THE UNION": On very few people, you would concede that?
MCCONNELL: It is important to those people and they are middle-income people. More tax revenue raised from middle-income people than the Buffett tax would raise from high-income people from a president who promised not to the raise taxes.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BASH: So Carol, you were exactly right, the House is going to hold a vote. They can. They run -- the Republicans run the House. It is likely to pass, as it has several times before. It, meaning a repeal of the health care law.
And then in the Senate, it won't go anywhere because the Democrats control the Senate and they are simply not going to hold that vote. But the reason why you're hearing Mitch McConnell say that.
The reason why Republicans are continuing to beat this drum is because they feel that the best argument, one of the best arguments, I should say that they have, at least to get control of the Senate on the campaign trail is to say if you elect enough Republicans, 51 Republicans.
Then they will have enough votes to overturn the health care law. Only one caveat, they have to have a clean sweep because that won't work unless Mitt Romney is in the White House.
COSTELLO: OK, you will keep your eye on all things congressional. Thanks so much. Dana Bash reporting live from Washington, D.C.
BASH: Thanks, Carol.
COSTELLO: The FBI is looking for a Georgia bank director accused of embezzling $17 million of bank funds. Aubrey Price was last sighted boarding a ferry boat in Key West, Florida, on June 16th. He vanished after telling acquaintances he had lost a large amount of money that he planned to kill himself.
Also this morning, tens of thousands of Americans will find their morning routine interrupted when they try log on to the internet and they won't be able to.
That's because their computers were infected months or even years ago by a nasty virus. The FBI set up servers to keep the infected computers online, but the agency is shutting them down.
So beginning today, infected computers will not be able to access the internet.
If you have been receiving unemployment benefits, you could be asked to pay some of it back. The federal government in states overpaid about $14 billion in unemployment benefits last year.
And now the Department of Labor and states are launching a massive effort to recoup some of it and avoid future overpayments.
With the London Olympics just two and a half weeks away, it seems that Olympic officials are questioning the renewal of McDonald's sponsorships of the games.
The chain is one of four restaurants in London's Olympic Park, building its largest restaurant in the world, able to seat 1,500 customers.
The International Olympic Committee's President, Jacques Rogge told the "Financial Times," he is concerned about McDonald's Olympics sponsorship because of the growing fight against global obesity. Sports anchor, Carlos Diaz, joins me now.
CARLOS DIAZ, SPORTS ANCHOR: The big question is -- 20 years from now, going to be looking at this and saying like we used to look at the ads for cigarettes and would you have those baseball players from the '50s and '60s and endorsing cigarettes, make fun of that today.
Will we be doing that 20 years from now with McDonald's sponsoring the Olympics? You have the most well-tuned athletes in the world competing, but if they ate at McDonald's every day, I don't think they would be in the Olympics.
The Olympic president does say that McDonald's has a fresher menu these days. It has a menu that is healthier these days and points out that Coca-Cola, another sponsor that's been around since the 1920s, has diet beverages and Coke zero and this and that.
COSTELLO: And you know, most customers go in and buy those things when they go to McDonald's because you know you always get a salad, not hamburgers.
COSTELLO: I think the core issue is the Olympics it has always tried to promote good health and you know, athletic prowess. This is the best humanity has to offer. Now you can buy a Big Mac in the middle of Olympic Park --
DIAZ: Aren't we to blame because didn't we, the consumer, make McDonald's a multi -- multibillion dollar company that has enough money to spend on advertising with the Olympics.
And the thing that confuses me is that most of the Olympic money comes from TV rights. The four years leading up to the Olympics, they get $4 billion, the Olympic Committee, $3.9 billion in TV rights.
Where the 11 national -- the 11 worldwide sponsors contribute $957 million so it's not even $1 billion in sponsorship money. So the bulk of their money comes from TV rights.
And you would you think they would be more selective, but even the president of the Olympic Committee basically said we don't have that many options.
COSTELLO: We need the money.
DIAZ: We need the money. You know, so, if -- you're right. If there was an alternative restaurant out there that was only healthy and that was a multitrillion dollar industry, then they could go to that, but it's not out there.
COSTELLO: I just have this vision, those little teeny, tiny gymnasts that weigh, what 60 pounds, at the most, eating a Big Mac. That gigantic McDonald's.
DIAZ: Michael Phelps puts down I think 4,000 calories a day. It is one of those things where you are going to wonder in years to come, are we going to laugh at ourselves in the 2012 games, you say McDonald is a worldwide sponsor when it is not the healthiest fare.
COSTELLO: Carlos Diaz, an interesting conversation as always. Thank you so much.
A thrilling stunt goes terribly wrong. A tight rope walker falls hundreds of feet into a ravine. No, he is wearing no harness and he is doing this without a net. He is OK. We will be back.
COSTELLO: It is 15 minutes the past the hour. Checking our top stories, President Obama will talk tax breaks in a statement in about 45 minutes or so.
He is widely expected to call for a one-year extension on Bush era tax cuts for the middle class, really, anyone earning less than $250,000 a year.
A campaign adviser says the president is 100 percent committed to ending Bush era tax cuts for wealthier Americans by the end of the year.
Remember the lifeguard we told you about last week who was fired for saving swimmer outside his post boundaries? Well, today, the mayor of Hallandale Beach, Florida, is giving Tomas Lopez a key to the city. The company that fired Lopez offered his job back, but he turned them down saying he wants to move on with his life.
In business news, British Airways Googles its VIPs. An executive told the "USA Today," some 1,000 crew members armed with iPads look up Google images of a select group of its frequent flyers. The executive insists the airline just wants to be able to recognize them. Roger Federer back on top of the men's tennis rankings this morning after beating Andy Murray in the Wimbledon finals. It is Federer's seventh Wimbledon crown, tying him with Pete Sampras for the all-time record. Federer also ties Sampras for most time as number one on the tour, 286 weeks.
Take a look at this terrifying video out of China. This is a tight rope walker. He is walking backwards while blindfolded and then he trips and falls hundreds of feet into a ravine.
He didn't have a harness or a net though. He told the Chinese media he landed in a wooded area. He landed in a bush, in other words. Amazingly, the video shows him later walking under his own power. Apparently, he is perfectly fine today. Wow.
A major legal fight is now under way over voter rights and the state's authority to protect the process and its integrity. In a Washington courtroom, the U.S. Justice Department will challenge Texas's proposed law that would require voters to show identification. It claims minorities are being unfairly targeted.
ERIC HOLDER, ATTORNEY GENERAL: Each of the jurisdictions we are proposing have no discriminatory purpose or effect will follow the law. Where jurisdictions cannot meet this threshold, we will object under the Voting Rights Act of 1965 and other laws. In order to guarantee that all eligible citizens have unrestricted access to the ballot box.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COSTELLO: Eric Holder, the U.S. attorney general, made those remarks at the National Council of La Raza's Convention in Las Vegas. The CEO of NCLR Jorge Plasencia is with us. Welcome.
JORGE PLASENCIA, CHAIRMAN, BOARD OF DIRECTORS, NATIONAL COUNCIL OF LA RAZA: Good morning, Carol. I'm actually the chair of the board, the newly elected chair of the board. Thank you.
COSTELLO: Well, welcome and I apologize for getting your title wrong.
PLASENCIA: No. No.
COSTELLO: I wonder what you thought of what Eric Holder said. Is there a war on minority voters in that country?
PLASENCIA: You know what? NCLR is a nonpartisan organization, but I should say that obviously, we want all citizens to come out and vote.
And we don't want obviously minorities to feel disenfranchised by showing up to the polls. So, you know, we hope that come November, you know, all Hispanics feel like they can come out to the polls and not feel intimidated in any way.
COSTELLO: There are a lot of people in this country who wonders just because you have to show a photo I.D. at a polling station, what's big deal? Why would that keep a lot of voters home? PLASENCIA: You know, it is not about showing the photo I.D. It is do these laws -- we all have voter registration cards, we have our I.D.s, but is it these laws in any way single out minorities? I think is that the bigger question.
COSTELLO: Do you think that these laws are singling out minorities?
PLASENCIA: You know, it -- again, it's -- I would say that, you know, we want as many people, citizens, there's -- you know, there's about 20 million Hispanics that are eligible to vote.
And we are hearing that about 12 million will show up this November. So we just want to make sure they show up and that they don't feel, again, intimidated in any way. That's all this is.
COSTELLO: Do they feel intimidated by these laws?
PLASENCIA: Do I?
COSTELLO: No, do they?
PLASENCIA: I couldn't hear you.
COSTELLO: Do some Latino voters feel intimidated by these laws?
PLASENCIA: You know, it's -- we are going through an interesting time, as you know, in the history of our community and obviously, there's been a lot of, you know -- on both sides, conversation about Latinos and laws.
So any law in any state and Texas is a very important state with a lot of Hispanics. So, any of these laws that in any way make our community feel like it can be disenfranchised from our process here in this country, obviously, we are concerned about we are concerned if this would stop somebody from going to a poll.
COSTELLO: You seem to be tremendous treading very carefully in your answers around this issue. Why?
PLASENCIA: I don't tread carefully. I just obviously, like I said, NCLR is a nonpartisan organization and we are going to keep our ear to the ground on this issue.
And you know, we applaud Eric Holder for coming out to our conference to speak -- for speaking to our community and the, you know, and we feel that obviously, this is an issue that is very important.
And we just want to get as many Hispanics out as possible that are eligible to vote, that are citizens to vote. I was at a naturalization ceremony here in Las Vegas on Friday where folks from 18 countries, Hispanic and non-Hispanics, you know, made their pledge as Americans at the ceremony.
And we want all those folks to come out to vote. We want to make sure that they register and that they get to the polls. COSTELLO: If you look at polls, and I'm talking about general polls out there, it shows that President Obama's way far ahead among Latino voters than is Mitt Romney. Do the polls show the entire picture?
PLASENCIA: You know, it's interesting. You know, historically, you know, the Democratic Party has, you know, has definitely gotten more of the vote in the Hispanic community.
In 2004, in the general election, George W. Bush got 44 percent of the vote. So it is going to be interesting to watch this time.
A recent Gallup poll showed how more and more Hispanics are actually feeling disenfranchised with both parties and are -- may vote in the -- may be independent at this point. So I think our vote is definitely up for grabs.
That said, like you're saying, President Obama is showing like he is ahead obviously in the polls in our community.
COSTELLO: Thank you so much for joining us this morning. We appreciate it.
PLASENCIA: Thank you, Carol. Thank you so much.
COSTELLO: Still ahead, when it comes to your vote, if you don't like your partiers a candidate is it OK to vote for him anyway because you can't stand the other guy? That is our talk back question of the day.
COSTELLO: Now is your chance to talk back on one of the big stories of the day. The question for you this morning, is it right to vote for a candidate because you hate the other guy?
Can you make me love Mitt Romney? According to the Roll Call, a woman popped that very question at a fundraiser in West Virginia and Republican House Speaker John Boehner ran with it.
His answer, quote, "Listen, we are just politician. I wasn't elected to play God. The American people probably aren't going to fall in love with Mitt Romney. I tell you this 95 percent of the people that show up to vote in November are going to show up in that voting booth and they are going to vote for or against Barack Obama," end quote.
And there you have it. Voters in 2012 won't vote for a guy they love. They will vote against a guy they hate. Heck, there was a whole online telethon based on that very idea.
Its goal, to raise $250,000 not to elect Mitt Romney, but to defeat Barack Obama. One of the telethon's guests, former "Saturday Night Live" comedian, Victoria Jackson.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Tell us about -- tell us about the movie, first of all.
VICTORIA JACKSON, COMEDIAN (via telephone): Well, thank you for what you're doing. We have to get rid of Obama. It is the most important thing about -- to save our country. Thank you for what you're doing.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COSTELLO: There is a lot to criticize about Barack Obama's policies. After all, the economic recovery isn't exactly robust, but don't voters want a guy with ideas to replace him, not just anybody?
So the talk back question today is it right to vote for a candidate because hate the other guy? Facebook.com/carolcnn. I will read your comments later this hour.
COSTELLO: It's 30 minutes past the hour. Checking our top stories now.
If you have been receiving unemployment benefits, you could be asked to pay some of those benefits back. Federal government and states overpaid about $14 billion in benefits last year and now the Department of Labor is launching a massive effort to recoup some of those losses and avoid future overpayments.
Google has launched a gay rights campaign it calls legalize love. The program will promote safer conditions for gays and lesbians in countries that have anti-homosexuality laws.
In the words of a company executive, we want our employees who are gay or lesbian or transgender to have the same experience outside the office as they do inside the office.
It's Texas versus Eric Holder this morning and it's all about voting rights. Federal judges are reviewing a Texas law that requires voters to show photo I.D. Holder has been fighting efforts that could make it difficult for some Americans to vote.
And just over an hour from now, President Obama will call on Congress to extend the Bush era tax cuts. He wants middle class taxpayers to keep more of their money but he won't bend to Republican demand that the wealthy also benefit.
So that contrast sure to fuel new passions this week on the campaign trail. CNN's Dan Lothian is at the White House. Let's start with the -- the extension of the Bush tax cuts for some Americans that the -- the President is about to announce.
DAN LOTHIAN, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: That's right. And let the old fight begin, right? The President is pushing for those -- the extension for those making $250,000 or less.
You know the White House says that this is really based on the policy of it, but make no mistake, this -- out on the campaign trace, especially last week in the states of Ohio and Pennsylvania, the President's message was about lifting the middle class or those who are looking to get into the middle class.
And so he's able, out there on the campaign trail, to draw a very stark contrast between what he says he's pushing for, which is assistance for those who need it most and that's middle class Americans compared to those he says that his opponent, Mitt Romney, is trying to help and that is the wealthy.
So the President will be pushing this message when he heads out on the road tomorrow to Iowa and then later in the week as well in the state of Virginia and then others, surrogates, if you will for the President, also pushing that message in key battleground states like New Hampshire, Florida, Colorado and Nevada.
You know, Republicans though, are pushing back and attacking the President, saying that this is not -- in this economic environment -- it's not the time to be raising taxes on millions of Americans and the Romney campaign in a statement saying, quote, "President Obama's response to even more bad economic news is a massive tax increase. It just proves again that the President doesn't have a clue how to get America working again and help the middle class."
And again, the Romney campaign and Republicans saying that this is just an attempt by the White House, by this president, to distract the American people from those bad job numbers or dismal job numbers last week -- Carol.
COSTELLO: Dan Lothian reporting live at the White House.
When the President visits battleground states this week, he'll be lobbying for the very votes that could decide the election. In these 12 swing states, voters don't lean heavily toward either party though but they'll soon settle on their choice, just not yet.
According to a "USA Today"/Gallup poll, the presidential race is locked in a statistical tie. Mr. Obama has a razor-thin edge of two percentage points but that falls within the margin of error.
To Syria now, where the United Nations and Arab League Special Envoy Kofi Annan met today with President Bashar al-Assad about ending the violence there. Annan says the two agreed on an approach to peace that Annan will now share with opposition forces in Syria. No stop to the violence just yet though; the opposition says at least 17 people were killed just today.
A disturbing story out of Afghanistan: President Hamid Karzai calling for justice for a woman killed in a public execution. Two Taliban commanders who had apparently had a dispute over a woman shot her dead while a group of men around them cheered. This is part of the video.
Joining me now CNN's Mohammed Jamjoom. Mohammed I thought the Taliban had, well, maybe I was just too naive, but is this pervasive still in the country?
MOHAMMED JAMJOOM, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, Carol, it is such a horrible place for women in Afghanistan even today. There was a report by Human Rights Watch just this year that said that nearly nine out of ten women there suffer physical, sexual or psychological violence or forced marriage at least once in their lifetimes.
This atrocity that we're talking about today, this chilling video, this is something that's reminding people of when the Taliban ruled Afghanistan, from 1996 to 2001. The video is horrific. You see a woman -- you see the woman sitting there on the ground. She is not moving.
The man with the rifle comes up behind her. He shoots at her nine times. Six more times after she slumped over, he is still shooting at her. And then after she is dead the men in the hills that are surrounding the area that have witnessed this atrocity are cheering and crying out "God is Great".
So it really goes to show you just how bad the situation there is in Afghanistan and continues to be 11 years after the war started there, with billions of dollars of foreign aid being invested in that country to try to improve the plight of women in that country -- Carol.
COSTELLO: Ok well let's talk about that money because that video -- it makes you sick -- I mean sick to your stomach. So the United States is thinking of sending what -- $16 billion to Afghanistan if, of course, it can like, you know, get rid of some of the corruption in the Afghani government? Should it do that?
JAMJOOM: Well, that's the key question right now. You know this story was emerging yesterday at a time when there was a conference going on when Afghanistan is still looking for more money to be invested in that country to try to improve the situation there. They're asking foreign donors to continue to support the country.
But a lot of the foreign donors are asking should we do this right now? There is fatigue about putting money into Afghanistan when there are so little to show for it. And especially when it comes to this situation of women.
I'll give you one specific example. I was there about a month a and a half ago, we did a story about how maternal mortality rates in Afghanistan are decreasing, how it's getting a little bit better for women there now because of certain programs.
But the fact of the matter is, what's happened is Afghanistan has gone from the worst place in the world to be an expectant mother according to Save the Children. Now it's the second worst place in the world. That's not a lot of improvement; maybe in Afghanistan but not according to the rest of the world.
And that's the concern right now and women rights activist there are saying we can't afford to have people leaving. The troops are withdrawing. We're afraid what's going to happen if the Taliban takes more control but the international donors that have been supporting Afghanistan are saying should we continue to put our money in this country where the situation is still so bad, especially for women -- Carol.
COSTELLO: And then just a final question, Hamid Karzai, the President of Afghanistan, is he doing anything about this?
JAMJOOM: Well, Karzai had announced that there is a manhunt under way for anybody who was involved in this atrocity. He is saying that they are marshalling their forces, that these people will face justice.
But when you're in Afghanistan and you're talking to the locals there, they really don't believe that these -- that men like this will face justice, that they will face repercussions; they don't believe that they will be caught. And there is very little to show over the years for incidents in which women have been abused or killed in public where the men that have carried out the crimes have actually been brought to Kabul and have actually faced that kind of justice.
So a lot of skepticism, even though interior ministry officials and government officials in Afghanistan are swearing that they will hunt these men down and bring them to justice -- Carol.
COSTELLO: Oh it's difficult to even call them men. It's just unbelievable. Mohammed Jamjoom, thanks so much.
Back at home in this country, heavy rains following massive wild fires in Colorado created mud slides in some areas. That's what happened in Larimer County. Take a look at these pictures you can see the black soot polluting the Poudre River. Officials say the Hyde Park fire left the area without grass or brush to hold the soil in place. Residents are helping to make sandbags to prevent further damage.
At least 30 deaths now being blamed on the brutal heat that smothered much of the country these last two weeks. The death toll includes at least 18 heat-related deaths in Chicago, another five in Philadelphia. And as is typical, the victims tend to be very old, very young or dealing with other health issues.
Check out this brilliant, beautiful light show. This is time lapse video of the Aurora Borealis or the Northern Lights, the spectacular show happened last night just before midnight near St. Cloud, Minnesota. It lasted just about a half hour.
Just weeks before trial, CBS has settled a lawsuit with some of the cast members of "Happy Days". More details about who was awarded what in "Showbiz Headlines".
COSTELLO: Some cast members of the hit television show "Happy Days" have settled with CBS over merchandising payments. Oh that could mean some cash for somebody. Showbiz correspondent Nischelle Turner is live in Los Angeles to tell us how happy the happy member crew is.
NISCHELLE TURNER, CNN SHOWBIZ CORRESPONDENT: Very happy, Carol. Everybody's happy this morning. Four cast members from the classic show, Anson Williams, Marion Ross, Don Most and Erin Moran, along with widow of Tom Bosley, were suing CBS for $10 million, claiming they have not been paid what they are owed for the worldwide sale of "Happy Days" merchandise.
There have not been any details about the actual amount that the actors will receive from this settlement but Anson Williams is telling CNN that he is very satisfied with the settlement.
Now, this could also be a big break for Erin Moran, because she has been the subject of tabloid reports saying she and her husband have been living in a trailer in Indiana since losing their home to foreclosure here in California. Now, she did not respond to CNN about the settlement. We put in a call to her.
By the way, if you were wondering, Carol, the two biggest stars to come out of the show, Ron Howard and Henry Winkler did not participate in this lawsuit at all.
COSTELLO: Yes. They're still making lots and lots of money on their own, though, right?
TURNER: Absolutely. That's probably one reason. They really didn't need to, because Ron Howard, you know, has massive success on his own as well as Henry Winkler and he still does a lot on television. So neither one of them decided to get into the fray of this. But the reports are that the other people that are involved in the lawsuit really did kind of get what they wanted out of this and kind of go on with --
COSTELLO: Poor Erin Moran.
TURNER: -- getting kind of what they deserved.
COSTELLO: I know.
TURNER: I know. I know, I'm hoping that this can help her out.
COSTELLO: I hope so, too. Thanks so much, Nischelle.
COSTELLO: Turns out the government was way too generous with unemployment checks last year. Now, it's trying to collect. Yes. Uncle Sam wants its money back, unemployed Americans.
COSTELLO: Ok. A bit of news just into CNN and I'm going to read off my computer so forgive me but the Obama campaign just released its fund raising totals for the month of June. And I will read you what his campaign sent out, "Our fund raising numbers for June are in together with the Democratic National Committee, we raised a total of $71 million from more than 706,000 individual donors."
The Obama campaign says "It was our best month of this election so far." But they add, "We still got beat" and not by a little, Romney and Republicans raised $106 million. Not even including money to pro-Romney Super PACs. "If we lose this election, it will be because we didn't close the gap enough when we had the chance."
And then the Obama campaign goes on to thank everyone for making donation and, of course, asks for more $5 donation or more. So again, the Obama campaign and the Democratic National Committee raised about $71 million in the month of June but the Obama campaign said the Romney camp beat them. It raised $106 million for month of June.
Checking other top stories this morning, President Obama will talk tax breaks in a statement just about an hour from now. He is widely expected to call for a one-year extension on Bush era tax cuts for the middle class; really, anyone earning less than $250,000 a year. A campaign adviser says the President is 100 percent committed to ending Bush era tax cuts for wealthier Americans by the end of the year.
This morning, tens of thousands of Americans won't be able to log on to the Internet. That's because their computers were infected months or even years ago by a nasty virus. The FBI set up servers to keep the infected computers online but the agency is shutting them down today so infected computers not be able to access the Internet.
In sports, a heart-stopping scare during a Twins/Rangers game in Texas.
Wow. I would freak out, too. A loud thunderclap came out of nowhere yesterday and rocked the ballpark at Arlington. Josh Willingham was on first base for the Twins. He immediately hit the ground as if someone fired off a shot. Most players and the umpires raced for their dugouts. The game continued after the storm passed.
$14 billion, that's how much the labor department says states overpaid in unemployment benefits last year alone. But the government now wants that money back. Felicia Taylor is at the New York Stock Exchange. So, they, the government, actually wants money back from people who are unemployed or who have been -- or who are recently unemployed. Is that going to happen?
FELICIA TAYLOR, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, well it's sort of like that. I mean, you know, there's a little bit more to it than that. But you know, yes, the government want $14 billion back -- no surprise there. That's about 10 percent of all benefits that are paid out in fiscal 2011.
The government is now, of course, making a massive effort to recoup some of those funds. And most of these payments end up in the hands of three types of people who really aren't eligible to collect benefits.
For instance, those who aren't actively searching for a job. You can't just collect benefits and not be out there working the pavement to try to find work. Those who were fired or quit voluntarily or those who continue to file claims, even though they have actually returned to work. So it's usually some kind of administrative error either on the part of the government, the former employer, possibility the individual or all three in some kind of combination.
Jobless benefits has the second highest rate for, quote, "improper payments" after the national school lunch program. But overall, the majority of benefits do go to people in need. Keep in mind, according to the Census Bureau, they kept more 3 than million Americans out of poverty in 2010 alone. That is good news.
COSTELLO: These are people who should have known they were not eligible for unemployment benefits. That changes the whole thing.
COSTELLO: Felicia Taylor, thanks so much.
A mysterious illness is frightening parents and stumping doctors -- 64 children have died in Cambodia. Dr. Sanjay Gupta is there. He will have the story.
COSTELLO: A mystery illness is terrifying parents in Cambodia. Since April, 66 kids have come down with the illness and 64 have died, almost all of them within a day or two of getting to the hospital.
On a very special and important assignment, our chief medical correspondent, Dr. Sanjay Gupta is following the story. He is in Cambodia in the capital of Phnom Penh.
Sanjay, I know you were itching to go. Have you found anything out about this mystery illness?
DR. SANJAY GUPTA, CNN CHIEF MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, there have been some important clues I think, Carol that have come out over the weekend even. And one of those is that of the -- there's 66 patients, 24 of them had blood samples that were available for testing. And of them, 15 tested positive for something known as Enterovirus 71.
The name is not that important but this is actually a virus that's pretty well known and typically causes mouth, hand and feet disease, so something that people may have heard about.
It is generally not this deadly. And as you pointed out, Carol, 64 of 66 patients have died -- nearly 100 percent lethal. And they all died within 24 hours of getting to the hospital. They developed a mild fever. Many of them developed encephalitis, which is swelling of the brain. They had seizures. And then they developed a very, very characteristic lung problem where as the doctor described it to me, their lungs were essentially destroyed.
And those things, you know, just very uncommon with Enterovirus 71 alone. So, what we are learning is that while they found this important clue, there is still a lot more that still needs to be learned here, Carol.
COSTELLO: So you spent a lot of time in a hospital there; just describe to us what it was like.
GUPTA: You know, the health care in Cambodia, it is a tough situation and behind me as you may be able to tell it is the rainy season, monsoon season and they have a lot of the mosquito-borne illnesses that increase. I don't know if you can see any images there, Carol, of the hospitals we were at here.
But just to give you an idea, in this one hospital, you have over 4,000 patients being treated in the week and many of them with things like dengue fever, tuberculosis is endemic here. And then you add on top of that, this somewhat of a mysterious illness.
So it is hard, I think Carol, to your point, to sort of figure out, you know, what's what here. This is a part of the world where, you know, SARS originated; where H5N1 avian flu originated; where NIPA virus is something that is more common than in other parts of the world. So doctors have to go through a laborious process of trying to exclude all those things and then trying to figure out what this is.
So it is quite a process in conditions that are already pretty tough and pretty overcrowded -- Carol.
COSTELLO: and then to the final question, when we say kids, how old are we talking about?
GUPTA: The average age was pretty young, younger than 5. Somewhere between 3 and 5 years of age but they've been as young as 3 months and as old as 11. For some reason, it is all children. No adults seem to have been affected by this.
But it could be Carol, as I talked to the doctors today that the kids may just have a much more severe form of the same problem whereas adults may in fact have the disease but so mild that in fact they're not getting sick or going to the doctor.
COSTELLO: We'll check back. Sanjay Gupta reporting live from Cambodia this morning.
Your talk back responses next.
COSTELLO: Talk back question of the day. Is it right to vote for a candidate because you hate the other guy?
This from James. "I'm sorry, but if you vote like that or are considering, please do this country a favor, stay at home on election day. This would be the reason the electoral college still exists."
This from Clyde, "Certainly, on the other hand, what to do if you dislike both candidates?"
"This from Jim, "Most people decide who they will vote for the morning of the election based on if they are happy with their breakfast or not. They listen to the radio for the sound bites about the candidate A or B and make horribly uninformed decision." And this from Christopher, "It is the right of every American to vote for whomever with whatever reason they want. That would be called democracy."
Keep the conversation going. Facebook.com/CarolCNN. Thanks as always for your comments.
And thanks for watching NEWSROOM today. I'm Carol Costello. Thank you very much for joining me.
"CNN NEWSROOM" continues right now, after a quick break, with Ashleigh Banfield.