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More Than A Million Still Without Power; A View from the Fire Line; Arafat May Have Been Poisoned; Politicians on Parade; Lower Gas Prices Boost Travel; "God Particle" May Have Been Found; Angry Guy Trashes Cell Phone Store
Aired July 4, 2012 - 09:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
CAROL COSTELLO, CNN ANCHOR: Good morning, and happy Fourth of July to you, too. Thank you.
Happening right now in the NEWSROOM, hot, hot, hot. Today could be one of the hottest July 4ths ever. That could happen in several major cities. From your barbecue to your pool party, to your fireworks, heat, humidity, and thunderstorms will blanket the nation.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MAYOR MICHAEL BLOOMBERG (I), NEW YORK: Just think of how many we got into one sentence. That was really impressive. Who wrote this (EXPLETIVE DELETED)?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COSTELLO: Oh, New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg unplugged at the Nathan's Hot Dog Wagon. Seems he couldn't stomach the puns, like, "Let Me Be Frank", "It's going to be a dogfight," and "I'll relish it." It's Bloomberg like we've never seen him.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You can see the sparks flying all over the place. It was raining fire down on us.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COSTELLO: On the frontlines, Colorado firefighters taking CNN with them as they fight the fires home by home. As flames tear through neighborhoods and lives. The former fire chief telling the "Denver Post" this morning he knew the fire would happen, that it was a monster ready to awaken and kill.
And on this Independence Day, what's your definition of a hero? Our men and women in the military? Your mom, your dad? Think about it. It's our "Talk Back" question of the day.
NEWSROOM begins right now.
I'm Carol Costello. Happy, happy Fourth of July. Good morning to you.
Right now, crowds are gathering and parades are gearing up in small towns and big cities across the country. But millions of Americans will be missing one holiday tradition this year, fireworks. They are being blamed for a house fire that injured nine people in New Hampshire. And that danger is compounded by record heat and drought. Local leaders in at least 20 states have shut down their annual fireworks displays.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CHIEF MIKE ARNHART, HIGH RIDGE, MISSOURI FIRE DISTRICT: The ground is a tinder box so to speak because of how dry that it is. So our concern is looking at secondary water supply if we do get a structure fire.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COSTELLO: OK. Let's bring in our meteorologist Alexandra Steele.
You're going to take a look at the heat wave, it's just -- it just won't go away for much of the country.
Also Brian Todd will look at those most at its mercy, people still without electricity and without any way of keeping cool.
Let's begin with Brian, though. He's in Charleston, West Virginia.
Good morning, Brian.
BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Good morning, Carol. A lot of customers in this area still without power. About a quarter to a third of the customer in this state still don't have any power back. A lot of them may not get it until this weekend. Why is that? Well, this is a typical scene that power crews are coming across. This huge oak snapped in half. Came down on this road. They've got to come upon a scene like this. Clear the small brush first. And, again, dealing with blocked roads because here you're seeing what's right in the middle of the road, here are the double yellow lines. Dealing with blocked roads. But when it comes down like this, what does it take out? A power line.
Check it out here. This oak snapped in half. Took out this power line. This could still be energized because a power official told us a short time ago if these lines do not trip -- hit the ground themselves, they may not trip out automatically. So this could still be energized, posing a danger for the crews.
Then they've got to remove the huge tree and get to that. And this scene repeated throughout the state. Downed trees, a huge, huge problem for power crews throughout West Virginia. We talked to the CEO of Appalachian Power, Charles Patton, earlier this morning, asked him how they prioritize getting people back into service.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CHARLES PATTON, PRESIDENT, APPALACHIAN POWER: Well, first of all, we look at critical care. We look at hospitals. We look at water and waste water facilities so we can make sure that the -- 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.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
TODD: Now you heard him mentioned potable water. That's a big problem because a lot of the water pumps that take care of the pressure in your shower or sink, those were knocked out and they're trying to get those reboot. And therefore, water pressure and discolored water is a big problem for people.
People are being asked to boil water. The food shortage in the state still a huge problem because grocery stores without power are tossing out food, and people are running out. So there's a food distribution going on right now in West Virginia -- Carol.
COSTELLO: So I'm feeling really blessed this morning.
Brian Todd, reporting live from Charleston, West Virginia.
For those who do have power, today's continuing heat will have many wondering if they really want to leave the air conditioning for holiday celebrations outdoors. Upper 80s and 90s still fill the map. Mercifully, we're seeing fewer 100 degree temperatures today.
Alexandra Steele is here for a look at what's ahead. Morning.
ALEXANDRA STEELE, AMS METEOROLOGIST: Hi, good morning. All right. It's the July Fourth holiday. A lot of people aren't working so you want to go to the pool, you want to go to the barbecue. Will your fireworks be on, of course, because of drought and wildfire fears? Again, over 12 states not even going to have those fireworks. But on the whole around the country, it's going to be hot and humid, but no real rainout per se. But the problem is, we will see scattered showers and thunderstorms and 100 degree temperatures and feeling like 112 in Minneapolis.
Kind of the worst, most uncomfortable spot around the country, believe it or not, that far north. But showers and storms from Minneapolis to New York and Washington. And just remember this. When thunder roars, go indoors. When you hear thunder, even if you don't see anything, you could get struck by lightning. So there's a lot of juice in the atmosphere. It's all coming up. That's why it's so humid.
So maybe around the country today, temperatures aren't quite as hot for everybody as where they have been. But it actually will be more uncomfortable because those dew points, the measure of the moisture, is higher today.
All right. So there's all that juice, all that fire in the atmosphere. 9:00 temperatures in Boston, again, scattered showers and storms, 78, 86 in New York City. Washington, this number says 83. I think it's erroneous because this computer model is kind of under the assumption that it's going to be raining or thunderstorms at that point, but it's going to be much, feel much hotter and more humid than that.
Atlanta to Memphis, to New Orleans, we'll see mostly dry skies but that afternoon is when we have -- the threat for showers and storms. And Minneapolis, can you imagine, Carol, Minneapolis way hotter than -- this is the 9:00 temperature.
STEELE: Hundred and two potentially, feeling like 110 there. Way hotter than Miami or Key West, for that matter.
COSTELLO: Well, at least we're all in it together.
STEELE: Yes, we are.
COSTELLO: We're all sweating together.
STEELE: But northern New England, it will be most pleasant there. Manchester, Vermont, or New Hampshire, might be a good idea.
COSTELLO: Right. Thanks, Alexandra.
Hot, dry conditions have played a huge role in wildfires burning out west. We have pictures to show you, exclusive pictures taken by firefighters as they fought through the flames. These are close up to the homes that were burning. We'll have more of these pictures for you in just a minute. Right now, we want to tell you, I want to bring you up to date about what's happening across the rest of the country as far as wildfires are concerned.
Fourteen states dealing with active fires now. In Montana, a fire has burned more than 186,000 acres in Custer National Forest. In Colorado, firefighters keep making headway against the Waldo Canyon blaze, hoping to gain more ground on their 70 percent containment.
CNN's Jim Spellman is live in Colorado Springs, and you have more of those exclusive pictures which are actually pretty darn frightening to show us.
JIM SPELLMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, that's right, Carol. They are making a lot of good progress against this fire now. But this is our first best -- our first look really at what it was like up close, fighting this blaze last Tuesday when so many homes were destroyed. Take a look.
SPELLMAN (voice-over): The scene in the devastated mountain shadows neighborhood of Colorado Springs now. But this is what it looked like last week as high winds drove the fire down from the hills. Behind the camera, Colorado Springs Fire Department videographer Steve Schopper.
SCHOPPER: You're starting to smell the smoke. And your head is on a swivel because you're going OK, we got weather conditions that are really squirrely, we had 65-mile-an-hour winds. I've got sparks raining down all over me.
SPELLMAN: Firefighters converged on the scene. They had to quickly determine which homes to defend and which ones were beyond saving while stopping the fire from advancing.
SCHOPPER: Made that line in the sand and they said, this fire does not get past us. And that's what they did. They held the line. And they didn't let it get past them.
SPELLMAN: They doused vulnerable homes with water even as properties right next door are engulfed in flames. The camera captures sparks as they jump from one home to the roof of another, setting off a new fire. Schopper and his driver, a rookie firefighter, spring into the action.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We found a hose, garden hose. We're trying to put this real fire out.
SPELLMAN: It works. The fire is extinguished. Three hundred and 46 homes were lost, hundreds more saved by the firefighters.
SCHOPPER: Those who lost their homes, they are going to rebuild. This town will rally around them. They'll be OK. You know? Sorry. You know, you can't help be affected by it.
SPELLMAN: And Carol, after that night, firefighters here have not lost another structure. Amazing work they have done. You can really see in the aftermath that despite about 350 homes being lost, they really did save hundreds more -- Carol.
COSTELLO: Jim Spellman live in Colorado Springs this morning.
Also this morning, fire crews are celebrating a quick victory outside of Los Angeles. A fire had flared in the hilly terrain near Palmdale and flames quickly swept across more than 200 acres of grass and brush. But within three hours, firefighters with water-dropping helicopters they were able to put this fire out.
There is new intrigue over the death of one of the most divisive leaders of our times. A new conspiracy theory suggests that Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat was possibly poisoned. And his widow reportedly wants his body exhumed for testing. The reason, his personal belongings were contaminated with a highly radioactive element.
Adding to the cloak and dagger mystery, Polonium is the same substance used to kill a former Russian spy who had begun working for British intelligence.
CNN's Matthew Chance is in London.
And Matthew, this supposedly happened in 2004 when Israeli tanks surrounded Arafat's compound in Ramallah. Arafat could not leave that compound for weeks. So fill us in with what you know now.
MATTHEW CHANCE, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, I think Yasser Arafat died significantly after that surrounding of his compound. But I mean what's interesting about these developments that have been put out there by Al-Jazeera, the Qatari based television network. Basically they got clothes from Yasser Arafat that he was wearing when he was evacuated from the Mukataa in Ramallah, his compound to get medical treatment, when he fell ill in Paris.
And taken those items of clothing to an independent laboratory in Switzerland to try and test for any kind of toxins. They didn't find any conventional toxins in the clothes. But they did find this astonishingly high level of the radioactive substance Polonium 210. Now, Polonium 210, as you indicated, is -- it's the same substance that was used two years later in 2006 to poison the former Alexander Litvinenko, the Russian agent turned dissident who was poisoned here in London in 2006.
It's an interesting substance because it's very hard to produce. It's produced in nuclear reactors. And in fact, 97 percent of the word's Polonium 210 is produced in Russia and it's being shipped to companies through the same supplier in the United States.
It's also a very difficult substance to detect, which is one of the reasons it was such a clever way, I suppose, of poisoning someone. It's extremely difficult to read with conventional methods. You need special equipment to detect the radiation it emits. And it has a very short half life. Just 138 days. That means every 138 days, there's only half of the amount left. And so it decays very quickly compared to other radioactive isotopes.
But I suppose if these tests are confirmed, and the only way they can be confirmed, Carol, is if the body of Yasser Arafat is exhumed and more -- you know, more definitive tests are carried out on his actual tissue, then it could indicate that he was assassinated possibly by an organization that has the backing of a state. The only organizations that could get their hands on Polonium.
COSTELLO: Was there an autopsy performed on Yasser Arafat after he died?
CHANCE: It's is interesting because there wasn't. And no real reason has been given, you know, in terms of his cause of death. And so that has led to all sorts of conspiracy theories such as this one, that he was, for instance, assassinated by Israel or assassinated by the United States or even assassinated by a member of his inner circle.
There was even a rumor (INAUDIBLE), of course ferociously denied by the Palestinian Authority that he'd contracted HIV and had died of AIDS after a homosexual relationship with one of his guards. And again that's been ferociously denied by the Palestinian Authority. But nevertheless, you know, there is this growing suspicion that it may have been dirty play that led to the end of Yasser Arafat.
COSTELLO: Interesting. I'm sure you'll be following this one. That's really fascinating. Matthew Chance reporting live for us from London.
The temperature is rising in New York, and I'm not talking about the heat. It's the annual Fourth of July hotdog eating contest. Even Mayor Bloomberg is weighing in, and in not such a good way. You'll hear what he has to say, next.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SGT. JENNIFER BOND, U.S. ARMY: Hi. I'm Sgt. Jennifer Bond with First Infantry Division here in Bagram Airfield in Afghanistan. And I want to wish my family in Bentonville, Arkansas, a happy Independence Day. I love you and I miss you guys.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COSTELLO: Sixteen minutes past the hour.
Checking our top stories now:
A JetBlue pilot who suffered an apparent meltdown during a flight in March has been found not guilty by reason of insanity. The judge in the case also decided Clayton Osbon hadn't interfered with the flight crew. Osbon is now being held in a low security federal prison.
In money news, you can own a piece of the world's most popular soccer team. Yes, Manchester United plans a $100 million public offering on the New York Stock Exchange. The move was aimed at reducing some of the team's debt, estimated at an eye popping $663 million.
And Boston's harbor fest caps off a week-long celebration today. Dozens of Navy vessels and tall ships are in the harbor right now. This year's event marks the bicentennial of the war of 1812 and a chance to honor the heroes of old ironsides, the USS Constitution.
"Betting on America" -- that is the name of President Obama's latest bus tour, an event that will take him through the critical swing states of Ohio and Pennsylvania over the next two days. The president beat Republican John McCain by 11 percentage points in Pennsylvania and by five points in Ohio back in 2008. But this year, both states are viewed as competitive.
And the president won't be alone in those battle ground states as Republican Governor Bobby Jindal of Louisiana and former presidential candidate Tim Pawlenty take their pitch for Mitt Romney to the voters.
In a meantime, a group described as a, quote, "Conservative Political Action Committee" is sponsoring something it calls the defeat of Barack Obama telethon. Participants include Herman Cain, Arizona Sheriff Joe Arpaio, and actress Janine Turner of "Northern Exposure" fame. The event is reportedly talking place this afternoon in Las Vegas.
And what's the Fourth of July parade without a resident politician? Mitt Romney, the man who hopes to replace President Obama in the White House, is in New Hampshire today, taking a break from his family vacation to help the nation celebrate its 236th birthday.
Joining me now is senior congressional correspondent Dana Bash.
Good morning, Dana.
DANA BASH, CNN SENIOR CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Good morning, Carol.
Yes, this is going to be the first time that we are actually going to see Mitt Romney out in public this week. He is going to, as you said, do what is traditional, almost probably mandated for a politician on July 4th, and that is walk in a parade. And he's going to do it here in Wolfeboro, New Hampshire, where he has a home and has been all week long, for a very rare vacation, as you said.
He is here with his family, and that includes 30 people, just in his immediate people, Carol -- his kids and grandkids. And our resourceful team, including Shawna Shepherd, has been trying to spot him all week long. She's actually done it from the water. I think we have some video of him frolicking with his wife on a jet ski.
But this is not just for fun for him to be here. It also happens to be a critical battleground state. It only has four electoral votes. But if you look at any map that the Obama campaign draws, pretty much any map that they draw to get to the critical votes, it includes this state, so it is very important.
COSTELLO: OK. So, how close is the race in New Hampshire between Romney and Obama?
BASH: It couldn't be closer. I want you to look at this poll, 45 to 45, dead even. And that is the latest NBC/Marist poll.
So this is something that is important for both candidates to get out here. And it actually is kind of surprising if you look at the receipt history of New Hampshire in that Barack Obama beat John McCain handily here, and John McCain certainly had a good history with New Hampshire voters. And John Kerry actually turned the state blue four years before that. Before that, it was Republican.
But obviously, this is a neck and neck race because of what I just described to you. This is one of Mitt Romney's home territories. Obviously, he was the governor next door. And he has a home here. He has been here for years. This particular week vacationing.
So he is a bit of a favorite son, and that is why he is doing so well against Obama in what is traditionally in recent history been a blue state.
COSTELLO: OK. You're going to go to the parade. You're going to have a lot of fun, I know.
Dana Bash reporting live from New Hampshire this morning.
So we know the Fourth of July is all about American independence, and that includes politicking and lots and lots of fireworks and most importantly patriotism. That's why there's a huge celebration in Washington, D.C., our nation's capital and home to the National Mall. Patriotic symbols seem more important to us on this day, like Lady Liberty.
The Fourth is a day to celebrate all things American. But why do we do it on July 4th?
That is a valid question, because we actually celebrate our nation's birth a few days late. That's because the nation's independence resolution was actually approved on July 2nd in 1776. So why, you ask, do we celebrate the Fourth? Because that's the day that Congress approved the actual Declaration of Independence, which spelled out exactly why the new Americans said bye-bye to Britain, and I think they made it all official by signing something. So now you know.
What's the definition of an American hero? When it comes to politics, the answer is not always so clear. That's our talk back question of the day.
COSTELLO: We have to show you pictures of these people running a 10k in Atlanta because I -- I mean, they have my admiration. It is really hot and humid already in Atlanta. And for the people running this race -- there were warnings posted before the race saying, you know, it's going to be really hot and humid. You might not want to run this race. We're going to have a high of 95 degrees today in Atlanta. It is already, what, upon 75 but feels much hotter.
But look at all those people exercising. That is impressive. This is actually one of the world's largest road races. It's a 10K. Takes place in Atlanta every July 4th.
And I say congrats to all of you.
Now is your chance to talk back on one of the big stories of the day. The question for you this morning, what's your definition of a hero? July 4th, the day of national pride, we're thinking about American heroes like our Founding Fathers, and those who fought and died for America's independence.
Back in the day, it was a cinch to figure out who those heroes were. Today, it's not so simple.
Illinois Representative Joe Walsh seems to think a true hero must show humility. See, Congressman Walsh is running for reelection against war veteran Tammie Duckworth who lost both legs while fighting in Iraq.
Here he is posting in a video posted by the liberal Web site ThinkProgress.org.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. JOE WALSH (R), ILLINOIS: Now I'm running against a woman who -- I mean, my God, that's all she talks about. Our true heroes, the men and women who served us, it's the last thing in the world they talk about. That's why we are so indebted and in awe of what they have done.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COSTELLO: Walsh says he didn't mean to imply Duckworth wasn't a hero, but Duckworth doesn't believe it. That aside -- seriously? Politics is a nasty game, but it's clear that game is t's muddying our definition of a hero.
Democrats are guilty, too. Rudy Giuliani was considered America's mayor after 9/11. He was "TIME's" person of the year and was knighted by the queen. But when he ran for president, guess who didn't show much humility either? Back then, Joe Biden said there were only three things that Giuliani mentioned in a sentence -- a noun, a verb, and 9/11.
So we wondered, politics aside, what's your definition of a hero? Facebook.com/CarolCNN, Facebook.com/CarolCNN. Your comments later this hour.
Do you plan to hit the road for your July 4th get away? Well, you certainly will not be alone. We'll show you what's behind the uptick in road trips this year.
COSTELLO: Just about 30 minutes past the hour. Good morning. Happy Fourth. I'm Carol Costello.
Stories we are watching right now in THE NEWSROOM, it is hard to look at video as horrifying as this and find any good news, but there is some. The Waldo Canyon fire in Colorado Springs more than 70 percent contained now. The fire killed two people, incinerated about 18,000 acres, and destroyed nearly 350 homes. It is the most destructive fire in Colorado history.
That JetBlue pilot who went a little crazy in March and forced an emergency landing was insane at the time. That's the judge's ruling. As a result, the judge said Clayton Osbon is not guilty of interfering with a flight crew. He could have gotten up to 20 years in prison.
Flight attendants wrestled Osbon to the floor, and the flight eventually landed safely in Texas.
Former Commerce Secretary John Bryson will not be charged for two auto crashes last month in Los Angeles. They found no sign of alcohol in Bryson's system but they did find traces of the sleep aide Ambien but not enough to impair him. Bryson resigned last month. He took a medical leave after the accidents which he blamed on seizures.
COSTELLO: Many of you are taking advantage of lower gas prices this holiday week. Prices are down 23 cents from a year ago, but they are creeping back up. The national average is already up a penny from yesterday.
CNN's David Mattingly is in downtown Atlanta. So, why the uptick?
DAVID MATTINGLY, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, Carol, it has to do with uncertainty about what the summer might hold, what the supply of oil and the flow of oil to the pumps. But for right now, people are coming to these pumps, they are seeing what's reading here, and they are taking advantage of it for the holiday.
MATTINGLY (voice-over): More Americans in more cars are traveling more miles this Fourth of July holiday. Lower gas prices is one of the big reasons why. AAA estimates more than 42 million Americans are on the move during their time off, the most since 2007. Eight out of 10 are hitting the highway.
NANCY WHITE, AAA: This year, we've seen the highest volume vehicle travel for the Fourth of July holiday period in over a decade.
MATTINGLY: Nationally, prices for regular fell earlier this week to $3 a gallon in Alabama, and $3.74 in California. There's a feeling of get it while you can.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I am taking advantage of gas prices, the low gas prices now. I better fill up now. Better fill up now and take advantage.
MATTINGLY: Prices average about 24 cents a gallon less than last year, but 60 cents more than in 2010. And already, there are signs this consumer roller coaster is already on the climb again, maybe up 10 to 15 cents more on average.
BETH HENSON, OIL PRICE INFORMATION SERVICE: Sort of a range of $3.25 to $3.50 through the summer until about September.
And just yesterday, the price of oil jumped more than 4 percent. The highest since May.
MATTINGLY: That jump, Carol, happening after 78 straight days of gas prices actually going down, so that was leading up to the holiday. Now that the holiday is here, it's bouncing back up.
COSTELLO: OK. So I'm curious about something. In 2008, gas prices were really high. Too, most people got rid of their big SUVs. Is that still holding true? Are people driving more fuel efficient cars today?
MATTINGLY: Well, we've had a long time to get used to the higher gas prices. In fact, we have heard from a lot of people in California yesterday that even though the gas prices are down relatively low, compared to what we have seen in the last couple of years, they are used to those extra high prices. California having some of the highest gas prices in the domestic U.S. and the continental U.S.
So people are used to making cutbacks. They are used to being a little more conservative when they are using their gas, and finding ways to make it go further. But they are enjoying those lower prices for this holiday. Enjoying what the Fourth of July is bringing them.
COSTELLO: That's right, while it lasts.
David Mattingly in downtown Atlanta, thank you.
Cut the fat, keep the city healthy. It's a mission for New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg, whose initiatives have sparked both praise and outrage. First, there was a ban on those artery clogging trans fats found in fried foods. Then, a plan to cut the city's salt intake. And most recently, a proposed ban on large sodas.
So when it comes to New York's annual Fourth of July hot dog eating contest, you'd think the mayor would once again crack the whip on fat and calories, right? Not so much. This year, Bloomberg helped honor the event, but not before making a few really bad jokes.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MAYOR MICHAEL BLOOMBERG (I), NEW YORK: If one of their dogged pursuers will finally ketchup, cut the mustard, and be pronounced wiener. No question, it's going to be a dog fight. Just think of how many we got into one sentence. That was really impressive. Who wrote this (EXPLETIVE DELETED)\
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COSTELLO: OK. So maybe the mayor won't be chowing down later today, but plenty of others will, including a five-time hot dog eating champion.
Alison Kosik joins me now from the site of the contest in Brooklyn.
And these aren't turkey dogs, right? They're like full fatty dog.
ALISON KOSIK, CNN BUSINESS CORRESPONDENT: No, no. I don't think there's -- yeah. There's nothing really healthy about what's going to be happening here in literally two hours, 25 minutes. They are literally counting it down here on this countdown clock to find out who can eat the most hot dogs in 10 minutes.
So, yes, I'm not thinking that's very healthy. What's going to happen in two hours and 20 minutes, women and men -- well, first of all, the women are going to take the stage first behind me. And you've got people already gathering here to my left. They can't wait to see this start.
I mean, think about it, Carol. What is a spectacle, watching people shove the hot dogs in their mouths -- and it really begs the question, how do they do it?
Let's say Joey Chestnut, who is defending his title, who scarfed down 63 hot dogs last year. And Sonya Thomas who scarfed down 43 hot dogs.
What is the trick? So, I found out what the trick is. I'm going to get Christine to hold my microphone.
OK. We've got the hot dog, right? I'm going to show you the hot dog here. And they are not putting mustard and ketchup and relish on it. What they are doing, they pick it apart. They take the hot dog and split it in half and then they chow down on it this way, putting it in their mouths this way, double wide.
And then they take the bun, because the bun is included. They split it and they dunk it in water so it slides down easy.
I don't think there's any chewing going on, Carol. What do you think?
COSTELLO: I think it sounds disgusting. Really disgusting.
KOSIK: I know. You've seen this, right? It's so disgusting you can't help but watch. And kind of turn away too and maybe never touch a hot dog again after watching this.
COSTELLO: So the point is, you take the two halves and you eat it like on an angle on either side of your mouth?
KOSIK: Yes. Especially this part. This is the part that's, you know, they don't really chew it. They have to get it down really fast.
So there's a lot of -- well, there's less chewing going on. I'll leave it at that.
COSTELLO: There's less chewing. Yes, we can see that. OK. We'll check back with you for the exciting start of the contest. Thanks so much, Alison.
KOSIK: This is serious business. You've got it.
Did Tom Cruise's fervent belief in Scientology drive his wife to divorce him? That's the talk -- actually, that's the talk of the nation. What exactly do Scientologists believe, and is Suri Cruise at risk? We're going to look into that.
COSTELLO: Some wonder if religion drove a wedge between Hollywood's A-list couple Tom Cruise and Katie Holmes. She is filing for divorce, as you well know.
Cruise, the box office superstar, is also a high profile Scientologist, a religion some consider a cult.
So, let's bring in CNN.com religion editor Dan Gilgoff to talk about this.
DAN GILGOFF, CNN.COM RELIGION EDITOR: Hey, Carol.
COSTELLO: So let's start off really basic. What exactly is Scientology?
GILGOFF: So Scientology is a relatively new religion. It was born in the 1950s. And it really revolves largely around practices that deal with the mind.
And the thinking is that we have a couple of different kinds of minds, you know, in our head. One of them is an analytical sort of computer-like mind that sees the world clearly. And another is a reactive mind. And Scientologists believe that the reactive mind kind of processes all of these traumas we experience in this life and also in past lives.
So the whole practice of Scientology is aimed at reliving those traumas in order to neutralize them and to regain what scientists call that analytical mind.
COSTELLO: So does it have anything to do with aliens? Because I hear that a lot.
GILGOFF: Well, it's tricky stuff. Scientologists when you ask about the alien -- supposedly alien aspect -- will say no. At the same time, and Scientologists only disclose this sort of information or this theory to advanced Scientologists. There is this belief around an ancient civilization that lived on dozens of different planets and that comprised all of these different bodies which were extinguished and kind of the spirits of these bodies live on and attach themselves to human beings, and they add to this trauma that we were just talking about.
So a lot of the religion is around dealing with these traumas, both from these beings that did come from alien planets and from our own experience in current and past lives. So it's tricky stuff.
COSTELLO: Do you want me to do -- I'll just demonstrate the looks on people's faces here in the studio as you were explaining that. They were looking like this. But I digress.
GILGOFF: Right --
COSTELLO: But let me ask you -- this is also what people are wondering.
GILGOFF: Go ahead.
COSTELLO: This indoctrination, because that's supposedly what Katie Holmes is worried about as far as her daughter is concerned, that Suri is going to have to board this yacht to be indoctrinated, this boot camp for Scientologists. Is that true or not true?
GILGOFF: Well, the Scientologists do operate this yacht on which certain members come onboard for certain types of experiences and sort of dealings with the church.
But I think it gets to this basic issue, which is that from the beginning, Scientology has always been this very embattled religion. You have people that question its validity as a religion itself. You have the medical establishment, which has concerns about Scientology's rejection of psychiatry and psychiatric drugs. Rather than those drugs, the church encourages this process of auditing to relive these traumatic experiences that we talked about.
There is the IRS in the United States that for a long time denied granting the church tax-exempt status that other American churches enjoy.
So from the beginning, there have always been questions about the validity of Scientology. And of course this whole controversy between Katie Holmes and Tom Cruise brings up all of those controversies.
COSTELLO: Oh, yes. So this will slowly play out, and I'm sure we'll have you back to help us understand. Dan Gilgoff, thanks so much.
GILGOFF: Good to see you, Carol. Sure.
GILGOFF: You too.
COSTELLO: The tiniest subatomic particle may hold the biggest clue as to how the universe was formed. So, have scientists finally found the so-called "God particle"?
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PFC DILLON BECHTHOLD, U.S. ARMY: I'm PFC Dillon Bechthold. I'm stationed here in Jalalabad, Afghanistan. I just want to say happy Fourth of July to my beautiful wife in Ft. Bragg, North Carolina. I love you, I miss you, and I'll be home soon.
COSTELLO: Maybe this won't come up during your Fourth of July cookout conversation today, but it is a big, big deal in the scientific community. Researchers may have found something they have been diligently looking for, the so-called God particle.
So what is this particle, and why is it so important? Atika Shubert tackles that. She's live in London. Good morning.
ATIKA SHUBERT, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Good morning.
Well, here's how I understand it. I'm not a particle physicist. But the way it's been explained to me by scientists is that the Higgs Boson, also known as the "God Particle", is the last piece of the puzzle in the standard model of particle physics. This is how we understand the universe works.
And they have been looking for it for decades. They have never seen it. It only existed in theory. And now they have conclusively proven, they say, with 99.999 percent certainty, and that's the exact number, that it does exist.
Now the reason why it's important is because this particle is what gives matter mass. Now what that means basically is that stars, galaxies, planets, all of this need mass to exist. So you and I basically are -- are here thanks in a large part to the Higgs Boson. And that's one reason why it's called the "God Particle."
COSTELLO: So if they hadn't found this particle, or if they found this particle didn't exist, what would that mean?
SHUBERT: It would have mean all of modern physics as we know it would have been chucked out the window. So it's a good thing they found it.
COSTELLO: Yes they would have to start back at square one. Atika Shubert -- I think you did a pretty good job. Thank you very much.
Don't forget to weigh in on our "Talk Back" question of the day. We asked you this question. What's your definition of a hero? Your responses, next.
COSTELLO: We asked you to "Talk Back" on one of the stories of the day. The question for you this morning. "What's your definition of a hero?"
This from Joseph. "Individuals who speak truth to power."
From Frances, "A hero is someone who does what they do quietly and without thought of making it about him or herself or for publicity."
This from Toin, "Someone who puts the nation, its laws and its citizens above and beyond anything".
This from Ray, "Our true heroes are all those forgotten veterans who live on the streets that we only remember once a year. Nowadays anyone who enlists is a hero, whether combatant or noncombatant."
This from Liz, "Our brave soldiers, the firefighters that are battling those horrific fires out West."
Keep the conversation going, Facebook.com/CarolCNN. More comments in the next hour of the NEWSROOM. And don't forget if you're heading out the door you can actually take us with you. Watch us any time on your mobile or computer just head to CNN.com/TV.
COSTELLO: Good news for the U.S. auto industry. The big three automakers take a big jump in sales for June. Totals for Chrysler, Ford and General Motors up 14 percent from the same time last year. Experts say consumers are heading back to dealerships lured by low interest rates.
Before last night's Cubs/Braves game, Chipper Jones found out he was going to the All-Star Game, replacing Matt Kemp on the NL roster. Jones celebrated in a big, big way. He won 5 for 5 against Chicago including two doubles, knocked in four runs in Atlanta's 10-3 win. It's Jones' third career, five-hit game but his first in a decade and his first in a home game. This is the last season for the 40-year-old Jones.
Next week's All-Star Game is at Kansas City's Kauffman Stadium, the only current big league park where Jones has yet to play.
183 runs were scored in Major League Baseball Tuesday, a high for the season. It seems like most of them came in this game between the Marlins and Brewers. Jose Reyes's homer put Miami ahead, 12-11 in the top of the tenth inning. Oh but the scoring didn't stop there. Bottom of the inning you see Aramis Ramirez, a towering two-run shot off Marlins closer Heat Bell. Milwaukee gets a six walk off win this season that's tied -- that's tied for Major League record.
And the NFL has rejected the appeals of four players linked to the New Orleans/Saints bounty scandal. The players face suspensions ranging from three games to a full season. NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell says he could reduce those suspensions if the players would meet with him and provide new information, but the players plan to fight the league in court. That's a look at sport this morning. A man upset with his cell phone company he trashes one of its stores and he quickly becomes an Internet sensation. Here's CNN's Jeanne Moos.
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JEANNE MOOS, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): How badly did this guy want his money back? Badly enough to tear everything he could off the wall of this T-Mobile store in Manchester, England.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Oh my God.
MOOS: Badly enough to attack the store with not one but two fire extinguishers. Badly enough to do all of this with people watching through the windows.
His name is Jason Codnel, although on the Facebook fan page admirers made, he's just named "Angry T Mobile Guy", everyone's vigilante. When the police finally arrived and arrested him for criminal damage, his looks said "no need to get rough". After they put on the cuffs he was nodding and smiling pleasantly.
As police broke up the crowd his amazing rampage had attracted and is still attracting online.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: All I could is cheer him on. Yes.
MOOS: Considering how much we all love our phones, there sure is a lot of pent-up anger at phone companies.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I don't feel sorry for T-Mobile. (inaudible) for somebody else.
MOOS: But for every "I feel your pain, man," someone else posted "This behavior is inexcusable."
T-Mobile says the customer wanted a refund. "A refund that we were not allowed to give as it was clearly outside of the stated terms and conditions". But some of the angry guy's fans said they sometimes felt like doing what he did.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Well, what is that going to prove? Nothing. I would just feel better.
MOOS: One clever YouTuber, played the angry guy video backward. And entitled it "Happy Man Attempts to Repair Damage to Mobile Phone Shop". This tantrum now joins other memorable rampages, for instance, the Russian doctor who rammed his car into a showroom vehicle after vehicle after he got fed up with waiting for his car to be fixed and a woman who stiff armed bottles at a liquor store after she says the clerk used the phrase "you people" while refusing to let her use the restroom.
In this case the "T" in T-Mobile stood for "Trashed". And their slogan "Life's for sharing". This cell phone video is getting shared along with comments like "Can you hear me now?" UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I don't recommend it but what that guy did --
MOOS: Jeanne Moos, CNN --
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Kudos to him, man.
MOOS: Jeanne Moos, CNN, New York.