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Tainted Eggs Lead to Massive Recall; New Credit-Card Rules in Effect; Hostage Ordeal Ends in Gunfire; California's 'Grim Sleeper' in Court to Face Multiple Murder Charges; Nine Day Traffic Jam in China

Aired August 23, 2010 - 13:00   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


TONY HARRIS, CNN ANCHOR: Just got -- just got a text from Ali saying, "Goodbye, your time is up."

"Laugh out loud. Downloaded virus to your computer." Have a great show, Ali.

ALI VELSHI, CNN ANCHOR: Thank you, my friend. I'll text you when I'm done.

HARRIS: Yes.

VELSHI: Tony Harris, have a great afternoon.

And I'm Ali Velshi. I'm going to be with you for the next two hours today and every weekday, taking every important topic we cover a step further. I'm going to try and give you a level of detail, particularly today, that's going to help you put your world into context, especially if you eat eggs.

Let's get started. Here's what I've got on "The Rundown." A gunman takes a tour bus hostage. Police swarm the scene. Gunshots are fired. I'll tell you how it ended.

Plus, it's a recall of historic proportions. More than half a billion eggs. Are the ones in your refrigerator safe? How do you keep yourself safe? I'll give you specific answers.

And crowded cities. That doesn't sound very green, but it might be the environmentally-conscious wave of the future. I'm going to introduce you to a concept that might turn everything you think about the environment on its head.

But first, let's talk about these eggs. Half a billion, 550 million eggs have been recalled so far in the United States of America. They come from Iowa. They originated on two farms in Iowa: Wright Country -- Wright County Egg and Hillandale Farms. They went from these two farms to 16 different states -- 17 different states; from Iowa to 16 other states.

But here's the issue. They didn't just go to stores. They went to wholesalers. They went to distributors. And from those 17 states, they have spread throughout nation. There are too many eggs to actually list. Those are the 17 states I'm talking about, 16 plus Iowa where they came from, but they've gone from those states all over the country. Bottom line is, you may be exposed to eggs with salmonella.

I'm going to give you a lot of detail over the course of the next two hours about what to do, how to stay safe, how to know if the eggs that you're eating are contaminated, the eggs from your fridge, when you go to a restaurant. I'll tell you all about that.

But first, I told you that these eggs are traced back to two farms in Iowa. Here's Casey Wian with a little bit of the background on one of those companies.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

CASEY WIAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): This modest building in Iowa farm country is at the center of one of the largest food safety scares in recent history. Wright County Egg is based here.

We met the chief operating officer inside, but he declined to speak with us about the company, its related businesses, and a long history of fines for health and safety violations. They include animal cruelty, sexual harassment of workers, even rape, and the hiring of illegal immigrants.

This undercover video, obtained last year by the group Mercy for Animals, shows how chickens were treated at the company's farm in Maine. The owner agreed to pay more than $130,000 in fines.

We met several local residents who are not happy with Wright County Egg's expanding presence.

RON ZIN, WRIGHT COUNTY, IOWA, RESIDENT: People moved away. Because who wants to live by a mega site?

DAN BRIDGES, WRIGHT COUNTY, IOWA, RESIDENT. We got more migrant workers than we have our own workers. Wages are low.

WIAN: In a statement, the company said, "When issues have been raised about our farms, our management team has addressed them swiftly and effectively." It also said the company is cooperating with the FDA investigation into what caused the outbreak of salmonella and led to the recall of more than half a billion eggs.

About 1,000 people have become ill this summer, including the Danielson family in Minnesota.

TODD DANIELSON, TAINTED EGG VICTIM: Everybody had diarrhea. That was kind of the first thing. And then headaches. And then throwing up. And then it was body aches. Couldn't even move. You know, it was like in your joints. It hurt so bad. I mean, it's -- it was worse than any flu I've had.

WIAN: Already, lawsuits are being filed in several states by people who say they became sick eating eggs from Wright County Egg.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

VELSHI: OK. Over the last few days, we've been telling you the brand names of the eggs that have been affected, but that list has grown to the point that we can't feasibly put them on TV. So I want you to go to the Egg Safety Center's Web site, EggSafety.org. This is simple. It will give you the brand names and the lot numbers, and you can just check.

I'm going to tell you how salmonella affects you, a bit about how many eggs we eat, and what you can do to protect yourself and your family. I'll be covering this throughout the next two hours.

But another big story today. A dramatic and deadly day in the Philippines. Police say a former police officer armed with an M-16 assault rifle forced his way on to a tourist bus in Manila and held 25 hostages for hours.

At one point, the bus driver escaped. He told police the gunman had killed everyone on the bus. Minutes later, gunfire erupted, and it's today's "Sound Effect."

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ANNA COREN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Get down, get down, get down. Get down, get down.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Stay there. Stay there, OK?

COREN: Yes.

Lay flat. Lay flat. Yes, I can stay. I can stay. OK, OK, OK. Christine, we have to get behind the car. There's been an M-16 fired, which you would have heard. That would have been coming from inside the bus, and we can actually smell it. We can actually smell it.

So it would appear that the gunman is still alive?

(END VIDEO CLIP)

VELSHI: That is our reporter, CNN's Anna Coren, who will join me in just a few minutes. She was there for the whole thing. At least seven people held hostage on the bus were killed. The gunman was killed by a gunshot to the head. We'll have more on this story with Anna Coren in just a few minutes.

Now, since this egg scare isn't going away any time soon, what should you do? Do you toss out all the eggs in the fridge and then stopping eating them altogether, or is there a less dramatic way to avoid getting sick? I'm going to help you avoid shell shock, when we come back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

VELSHI: At the top of every show, I promise to give you the detail that you need to make important decisions about your life and your family. And in this case, your health.

I want to talk to you about salmonella. What is it, how do you get it, how do you avoid getting sick from it? As we've said, this salmonella outbreak, linked to the recall of 550 million eggs, has already made 1,000 people sick. Health officials expect that number to keep growing. How do you avoid you and your family getting sick? Well, the best way is to know the facts, so let me bring them to you right now.

Salmonella, the virus, the salmonella enteritidis bacteria affects the ovaries of what appear to be healthy eggs, and what it does is it contaminates the eggs before the shells are formed. Salmonella -- and this is an interesting point -- it can live inside or outside of the egg. So that's something that's important to know.

Now, the infection, if you get salmonella, you can expect to have a fever, abdominal cramps and severe diarrhea within 12 to 72 hours of having eaten an infected egg. So monitor -- if you've had eggs recently -- whether any of these things are happening and you might then be able to know that's salmonella.

Now, salmonella, many healthy people can fight it off well. It's particularly risky to the elderly and for -- and to infants and people with immune deficiencies in their system. If you don't treat it, particularly in these -- these particular patient groups, it can actually be deadly.

Now how do you avoid getting sick in the first place if your eggs are part of these group of eggs with salmonella? Keep your eggs refrigerated, first of all. It keeps the bacteria from growing. And obviously the fewer bacteria around, the lower your chance of getting sick from it.

Throw away cracked or dirty eggs. And wash any utensils and bowls and things like that that come into contact with the eggs. Obviously, wash your hands after contact with the eggs so you're not spreading that.

If you cook your eggs until the whites and the yolks are firm, you can avoid salmonella. Runny eggs and soft boiled that doesn't actually cut it if there is salmonella in it.

Never eat raw eggs. Don't lick the cake batter. With restaurants, if you aren't clear on whether restaurants are using raw eggs, ask them. Hollandaise sauce has raw eggs in it, Caesar salad dressing has raw eggs in it. Restaurants should be using pasteurized eggs, but again, ask.

The only issue is eggs in a shell. Egg products that you buy in cartons, by the way, are pasteurized, and they are safe. Commercially-prepared ice cream and egg nog, that's also safe.

As long as you use fully-cooked eggs, any recipes including eggs should not be a problem. But keep in mind: eggs go into a lot more things than you might think they do. So please, ask and follow some of these basic rules. I'll bring you some more details about eggs throughout the course of the show in case you missed this. I'll get back to you again with it.

New credit card rules now in effect. They took effect yesterday. They've got a lot of people asking, well, what's new and how does it protect me? Well, for one thing, there's a lot more protection for you from increased fees and interest rates. I'll tell you about it, right after this.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

VELSHI: Well, the Federal Reserve, which you think about as setting interest rates at a very high level, actually is now in charge of a lot of the rules having to do with credit cards, and they put some new rules into effect yesterday. They were fully expected, but I'm going to break those down to you to explain exactly how they help you.

Number one, interest rates. That's obviously our biggest concern about credit cards. Under the new regulations, interest rates cannot be put in, interest rate increases cannot be put in without an explanation. Credit-card companies have got to explain those interest rate hikes, and evaluate them every six months. And any interest rate hikes that have taken place since the beginning of 2009, the Fed is asking banks to reevaluate them and see whether they were fair.

Now, that is resulting in some higher initial fees for credit cards as banks try to recoup the money that they're not making there.

Late fees. In most cases, limited to $25 per occurrence, unless you are habitually late or there's a special circumstance. So if you are habitually late and you abuse the process, your late fees might be higher than that. But generally speaking, they're going from an average of $39 to $25.

And you also can't be charged more than the incident that incurred a fee. Not a late fee, but something else. If you're late -- if you were late by $5 you can't be charged $25. If you were over your limit by $20, your fee will be $20. There will be some changes in the fees that you get. You want to watch your credit cards for that, your credit card statements.

Also, no inactivity fees. If you don't use your credit card, they can't charge you fees just for having it.

So these are the latest changes to your credit cards. And they take effect. They took effect yesterday. You'll start to see that now.

Again, best thing to do, though, is to make sure that your payments are a little more than your minimum payment. If you look at your credit card statements, one of the changes that has come into effect is the fact that it will show you, if you just make your minimum payments, how long it will take you to pay that bill and how much it will total. You'll be quite shocked when you look at that.

So if you're trying to get your credit under control, pay more than your minimum payment and just get familiar with the rates and charges that your credit card company charges you.

You can obviously hear more about your money on our show, "YOUR $$$$$," Saturdays at 1 p.m. and Sundays at 3 p.m. Eastern.

All right. Let me bring you to up to speed with some of the top stories that we're following here at CNN.

As planned, BP has handed over its Gulf Coast oil claims processing to an independent administrator. Kenneth Feinberg says folks will see a big difference right off the top. BP had been paying disaster claims one month at a time. Feinberg is offering six months of emergency payments.

In New York, the controversy that just won't quit. You know the one I'm talking about. This weekend saw rallies for and against the Islamic center and mosque in lower Manhattan near Ground Zero. Police made sure to keep the two sides a block apart. There were no injuries or arrests at those demonstrations.

And candidates around the country are squeezing in some last- minute campaigning ahead of tomorrow's handful of primaries. The races drawing the most interest: the U.S. Senate free-for-all in Florida and the challenge to John McCain in Arizona. You can follow all of that at CNN.com/politics.

Let's get back to salmonella. You know about this ongoing salmonella outbreak, because I've told you about it a few minutes ago. We're going to talk about eggs themselves. I'm going to take a crack at explaining how they're produced and how we consume them right after the break.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

VELSHI: Half -- more than half a billion eggs have been recalled because of the chance that they might have salmonella. And that's not even 1 percent of the number of eggs we have in the United States.

Let me just give you a little bit of a breakdown about eggs and how they work for us. One chicken, one chicken -- a hen, by the way, can lay about 300 eggs a year. There are 280 million laying hens in the U.S. -- I'll do the math for you, don't worry about it -- which means the U.S. produces about 80 billion eggs per year. All right.

Sixty percent of the egg output goes to consumers. You buy them as eggs in the grocery store. Nine percent goes to the food service industry for preparation and selling to you. And then 31 percent goes to food manufacturers for eggs that go into food products. This is actually interesting. Mark, take a look over here. Even if you thought you didn't eat eggs, look at the stuff it's in. You know, some of this you can guess. Cake batter, cookie dough, some ice cream has eggs.

Now, just because something has eggs in it doesn't mean it's infected with salmonella. A lot of them use pasteurized eggs. But Caesar dressing -- I think you probably knew that -- has eggs in it. Bearnaise, Hollandaise sauce, steak tartare. I only knew that -- I never eat steak tartare. I'm not really big on raw food, but I've seen people make it. And chili relleno has eggs in it. There's eggs in a lot of stuff. Ask if you are unsure. Ask a restaurant how it's prepared. Ask a restaurant what they've done to deal with the recall, whether they used pasteurized eggs. If they do, then they're probably safe.

Keep in mind, if you cook your eggs thoroughly, wash your hands and wash the dishes used to prepare those eggs. You will be fine. Even if that egg had salmonella. The full cooking process will help. If you like your eggs run knee, you might be in trouble.

Again, you'll find those symptoms if you start getting salmonella. Within 12 to 72 hours of getting it, you'll get a fever, you'll -- you might get diarrhea. Monitor it well, because it can be treated. But if you -- you can also pass it on to other people if you leave contaminated stuff around. We'll get more on that a little later in the show.

By the way, if you want to know about the eggs that have been recalled, there are too many brands for us to list on TV, so I want you to go to the Egg Safety -- the Web site is EggSafety.org. It will give you all of the details about the eggs that you've bought and whether they're a part of this recall. Do that. Keep everybody in your family safe.

As we told you earlier, a gunman seizes a tourist bus in the Philippine capital of Manila. Negotiations drag on for hours. The ordeal ended in gunfire. Several hostages were killed. We'll have a live report from Manila about how it went down right after this.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

VELSHI: All right. Dramatic day-long hostage ordeal ended in gunfire and death today in the Philippines. It happened in the capital of Manila around 10 a.m. local time. By the time it ended, some 10 hours later, at least seven hostages had been killed.

Here's a time line of the event. First, police say a former police officer forced his way onto a bus that had 22 tourists from other countries, and three other people on the bus. The suspect demanded that he be returned to his old job, which he was released from a year ago.

Nine hostages were released during the afternoon. Then police SWAT teams surrounded the bus. And at one point the bus driver escaped, and he told everybody that everybody on the bus was dead. Police stormed the bus. The suspect is killed. But there was a lot of confusion between when that bus driver said everyone had been killed and when it finally ended.

Joining us now from Manila is CNN's Anna Coren. She was at the scene throughout the ordeal. She left her post in Hong Kong, got to Manila when this first developed, and it continued on.

And you were right there, Anna -- we played the audio of it earlier -- when that gunfire erupted. So tell us what happened between the time that that bus driver got out and then the gunfire erupted and what happened in the end.

COREN: Well, Ali, what I will tell you -- I think the British (ph) convoy is just leaving now -- is that president Benigno Aquino has literally just left the scene. He came and inspected it just a little while ago. He was asking police questions as to what happened, how the event of this hostage crisis unfolded. So I think that is a clear indication that this is going to be investigated quite thoroughly.

Now, Ali, I can confirm that nine people are dead, including the gunman, that being 55-year-old Rolando Mendoza, a former police officer here in Manila. Now, eight hostages were also killed. Seven of them, Hong Kong nationals, one of those being a local Filipino.

I can tell you that seven of those hostages did survive. Seven of those hostages that were on the bus during that dramatic gunfire that we witnessed, seven of those have been taken to hospital. No word yet of serious injury.

But this certainly unfolded -- it began at 10 a.m. this morning. That is when Police Officer Mendoza, he boarded this bus. It was a tourist bus. It had 25 people on board, 21 of those Hong Kong nationals, who were due to fly back to Hong Kong this evening.

And he got on board, armed -- armed with an M-16 rifle, and dressed in his police uniform, or shortly after that that he took the bus hostage and demanded that he be reinstated as a police officer.

Ali, just to let you know, this is a man who was sacked last year following an investigation. So this is what this whole crisis was all about. This is a man who was trying to clear his name and trying to be reinstated to his job -- Ali.

VELSHI: Anna, I want to just play for our -- our viewers what we played earlier, which was, as you were watching this all of a sudden this gun fight broke out. Let's just play that.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

COREN: Get down, get down, get down. Get down, get down.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Stay there. Stay there, OK?

COREN: Yes.

Lay flat. Lay flat. Yes, I can stay. I can stay. OK, OK, OK. Christine, we have to get behind the car. There's been an M-16 fired, which you would have heard. That would have been coming from inside the bus, and we can actually smell it. We can actually smell it.

So it would appear that the gunman is still alive?

(END VIDEO CLIP)

VELSHI: Anna, we were watching this unfold live today. It seemed like something went awry. They -- they thought the gunman was alone in that bus. It was unclear what happened. Tell me how that all went down, what we were just watching.

COHEN: Yes, well, Ali, from what we can understand, things were actually going quite well. Police were happy with the way that Mendoza was behaving. They said that he was cooperating. He had released nine hostages earlier.

And then his brother, who also happens to be a police officer, he had been involved in negotiations. But he approached the bus, and lay down on the road, begging his brother to surrender. Police apparently rushed over, and it was this scene that caused Mendoza to get upset. And that is when he started firing off his M-16. So this is when we heard those gunshots.

And I must commend my crew, and we've been (INAUDIBLE) my cameramen. (INAUDIBLE) We were here, and we had to take cover behind the van, along with all other journalists. We were working with producers, and what we had to do was basically hit the ground. Because we were pretty much in the firing line, 150 meters, if that, from where this bus, you know -- and this hostage crisis was unfolding. So the safest thing that we could do was to take cover. Hence, you heard that same sort of unfold.

But it was a situation that did get out of control. And it was something I don't think that the police were anticipating -- Ali.

VELSHI: Yes, and part of why they may not have been anticipating -- we are very glad you're all safe. But there was this report that the bus driver had come off. He had been released, and told police everybody was dead. And I guess this is one of those coaches -- those luxury coaches that has curtains, so police couldn't get a clear look into the whole place. But they weren't quite clear who was alive and who was dead inside that -- inside that bus.

COREN: Yes, no, that's absolutely right. During one of those first gunfire exchanges, the bus driver managed to escape out the window. How he did that is beyond me, with all those hostages on board and armed men who had an M-16 rifle. But he managed to get outside the window. All of a sudden we saw this man bolting, you know, across road. And the local media swarmed around him, our local producer was one of the journalists there and that was when the bus driver basically told us that all the hostages were dead.

Now, we could not confirm that. Police had no idea what was going on. S.W.A.T teams, obviously, surrounded this bus. There were Special Forces and back-up police within the vicinity. And everyone had their guns drawn. They were using a sledgehammer to try and get through the windows, through the door. And eventually it was a sniper's bullet that took out this gunman, Ali.

VELSHI: Anna, as I said, we're glad you're safe. Thanks for your reporting on this. And we'll see you again.

Anna Coren, live in Manila, about this hostage drama that unfolded today.

Another very interesting story today. I want to go down to South America now. 33 trapped miners are found alive in Chile. But it's going to take up to four months to rescue them. What a story. I'll tell you about this. How are they going to survive? There's actually a plan. We'll go Globe Trekking after the break.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

VELSHI: This is a fascinating story. About 17 days ago, 33 miners got trapped in a mine in it Chile. They have been -- it's almost been three weeks, right? 17 days ago.

They apparently are alive in an underground shelter. This is fascinating. This little hole that was used to send a probe down into the mine. Rescue workers now are preparing tubes with flashlights, food, and medicine for them. However, they did say it could take months before they're able to rescue these guys.

Let me just tell you how they found out these guys were alive. They've been looking for them for three weeks. Hope had dimmed that they'd be alive. But they sent down this probe into the mine and along came a note. And the note said, we are fine in the shelter, the 33 of us. Now, no voice communication. No date on the note. But one presumes that probe went down and these guys attached it to the probe and sent it back up. The miners are thought to be 2,300 feet underground.

So, remarkable story. They're going to try and send them a lot of food, but they did say it's going to be up to four months. Can you imagine these miners are going to be sitting down in this shelter? As soon as we find out more about their condition, where they are, what that shelter is like, we'll bring that you information.

I want to take you to Pakistan. Obviously, we continue to cover Pakistan. I want to show you that town on the northern part of the Sindh Province in Pakistan. This is the latest news. Half a million residents live there, and they fled the town this weekend, because there was some concern that a mud berm was going to fail, and the town would be flooded. So they've gone.

This is part of the problem in Pakistan, not just the flooding, but the fact that entire towns and villages have had to relocate. According to the United Nations today, 1.5 million people are being treated for ailments, including acute respiratory infections, diarrhea and skin infections. There you see that number. Here's a bigger number -- 3.5 million children are at risk from water-borne diseases: cholera, diarrhea, all sorts of things like that. So 1.5 million people are being treated. 3.5 million people are at risk.

Now, doctors say that one of the biggest concerns, particularly with respect to the children, is cross-contamination in the hospitals where they're being treated because they're all crammed together like this in little hospitals. So if one of them is sick and they're in these small quarters, others might be getting sick. So they're very, very concerned. Just because the flood is receding, understand that in floods, this is often the problem. What happens afterwards with respect to the water. So we continue to follow that story, as well. The grim reaper, L.A.'s suspected serial killer steps before a judge, entering his plea to two decades of murders. Crime and Consequences is up next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

VELSHI: Let me bring you up to speed with top stories that we're following here at CNN.

You've heard this, I'm sure, before. But I'm going tell you a little more about it. Over half a billion eggs have been recalled. That's the largest egg recall in recent history. Those eggs have been linked to salmonella, which can be deadly. Infants and the elderly have the highest risk. Now, to stay safe, keep your eggs refrigerated, throw away cracked or dirty eggs, avoid raw or even slightly uncooked eggs all together, and wash your hands and utensils.

In Iran, officials say they've built an unmanned military drone able to carry out long-range bombing missions. Unmanned vehicles have become a staple of modern combat. One official calls it proof that Iran's military doesn't need any aid from other countries.

And Dr. Conrad Murray, Michael Jackson's doctor who was there when he died is due in a Los Angeles court later this afternoon. A judge will set a date for a hearing to decide if there is enough evidence to put Dr. Murray on trial for involuntary manslaughter.

The man accused of tries terrorizing south Los Angeles over two decades is pleading not guilty to 10 murders and one count of attempted murder today. Lonnie Franklin Jr. was arrested last week and police say they have DNA evidence that he is the Grim Sleeper. The sleeper murders occurred from 1985 to 1988, and from 2002 to 2007. Ten African-American women were killed, all within a few miles of Franklin's home. Cops got their big break in the case after his son was arrested and swabbed for DNA. It was entered into the system and it was flagged for its similarities to evidence from the serial killings.

As we speak, police are poring over dozens more cold cases for potential links to Franklin. Serial murders always draw a lot of attention. Unfortunately, it's the suspect who gets most of the spotlight. We want to take a minute to remember the victims here.

Deborah Jackson was 29 years old. She was found dead in August 1985. Henrietta Wright, 35, found in August 1986. Thomas Steel, 36, found in August 1986. And just a note, Franklin hasn't been charged with this death yet. Barbara Ware, 23 years old, found in January, 1987. Bernita Sparks, 25, found in April 1987. Mary Lowe, 26, found in October, 1987. Lachrica Jefferson, 22 found in January 1988. Alicia Alexander, 19, found in September 1988. Princess Berthomieux, 15 years old, found in March 2002. Valerie McCorvey, 35, found in July 2003. And Janecia Peters, 25, found in 2007.

We'll continue to follow that case for you.

The imam who wants to build the Islamic center near Ground Zero has spoken out. In an interview appearing in a bareh (ph) newspaper, Abdul Rauf says he hopes the center will offer an Islamic approach that allows for harmony and understanding among all religions and other ideas. That's a quote from him. The imam also praises freedoms preserved under the U.S. Constitution. Rauf is in the Middle East on a State Department-sponsored tour to discuss Muslim life in America.

About 450 people opposed to the Islamic center and mosque were protesting in lower Manhattan yesterday. A smaller group, around 250, were voicing their support for the center.

As CNN's Susan Candiotti reports, the two sides were separated by a few blocks on the issue. Well, by miles on the issue, I suppose, but really only by a few blocks in their rallies.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

CROWD: No mosque, no mosque, no mosque!

SUSAN CANDIOTTI, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Passionate protesters. They argue that an Islamic center and mosque two blocks away from Ground Zero is a so-called slap in the face to those killed on 9/11.

ANDY SULLIVAN, ANTI-ISLAMIC CENTER ACTIVIST: This is Andy in Brooklyn. Forget about it!

CANDIOTTI: Andrew Sullivan is urging blue-collar workers to sign a pledge refusing any job at the proposed religious site. Hard hats were handed out at the protest rally. This man, who works for the fire department put one on.

MIKE MEEHAN, ANTI-ISLAMIC CENTER ACTIVIST: If they'd build it uptown, I'd have no problem with it believe it or not. I would have no problem. Just not down here.

CANDIOTTI: For others, the Muslims behind the project are nothing short of sinister.

SHAWN GILFEATHER, ANTI-ISLAMIC CENTER ACTIVIST: I think the people that are backing it, funding it, are in cahoots with them. And with the terrorists.

CANDIOTTI: About a block away, supporters scoffed at suggestions that an Islamic center would be a cover for terrorists.

DR. ALI AKRAM, ISLAMIC CENTER SUPPORTER: There are many Muslims who lost Muslim family members at Ground Zero. So when they come to visit Ground Zero as a memorial, they should be able to walk two blocks down and pray for their loved ones.

CANDIOTTI: An Ohio Army reservist on his way to Afghanistan sees the controversy as a perfect platform to prove what troops are fighting for overseas.

LT. COL. CHRIS DZIUBEK, ISLAMIC CENTER SUPPORTER: They have certainly the right and the ability to do it wherever they would like. And that's what I like about the country, is the ability for people who disagree with one another to hash it out without guns.

CANDIOTTI (on camera): On Sunday, the wife of the imam involved in the Islamic center controversy said there are no changes planned, but that a move could be considered after consultations, as she put it, with all major stakeholders.

DAISY KHAN, EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR, AMERICAN SOCIETY FOR MUSLIM ADVANCEMENT: We have to be cognizant that we also have a constitutional right. We have the Muslim community around the nation that we have to be concerned about. And we have to worry about the extremists, as well, because they are seizing this moment. So we have to be very careful and deliberate when we make any major decision.

CANDIOTTI: The Islamic center planners say they're working with a rabbi to pattern the building like a Jewish community center. But that's of little interest to protesters.

Susan Candiotti, CNN, New York.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

VELSHI: Obviously that story is going on for a while. We'll keep covering it as we have been. But right now we're about to turn everything you think about city living on its head. It was thought that it was better for the environment to live in the country. Think again. I'll have this as my Big I on the other side.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

VELSHI: So get this. 72 percent of the homes in the United States are now affordable. What does that mean? Housing affordability is determined by the percentage of your income that you pay for housing. And it's sort of thought that around 28 to 30 percent of your take-home pay is an appropriate amount to pay for your housing.

So just do your own calculation. If you're paying more than that, you might be paying too much for housing. And that puts you at risk of just being a bad economic bet. There are exceptions to that if you live in New York or San Francisco, you generally can't live for 30 percent of what you take home.

But our friends over at CNNMoney.com have got something on the web site right now which shows the five most and five least affordable places to live in the country. So I just wanted to show you the five most affordable places to live in the country. And will you look at that? They're all clustered into the northeast. They're all sort of rust belt towns.

Syracuse is the most affordable place to live right now. So the median price of a home is the closest to the median income there. Obviously, that was a town on Lake Erie, it was very, very successful but that channel stopped being used for as much.

Look at Youngstown, Ohio, right on the Pennsylvania border. Big steel town, big auto town. Both of those industries have been crushed. Indianapolis, that's the most affordable big city in America and has been that way actually for a few years. Detroit, you know the story there, people have been leaving. People have been foreclosed on, so the price of a home there is a good deal.

And, of course, Buffalo New York, that's that's been going on for some time. Buffalo saw its heyday around the war and that time. And hasn't really had a growth in its industry since then. Buffalo, by the way, has some lovely old houses, because back when it was booming, they just built really beautiful houses there. Detroit has a fantastic airport and great highways and good sports and great restaurants. So if you have some reason to be there, you're going to get the best deal you can get on a house in some of those areas.

But you will notice they are all concentrated in that area. Go to CNNMoney.com, and they'll show you the list of the top most affordable places and least affordable places. My old home in New York tops the list affordable places to live in the United States.

You want more on money stuff? Tune in on the weekend. Saturdays at 1:00 p.m., Sundays at 3:00 p.m. Eastern on CNN for "YOUR MONEY."

Speaking of your money, by the way, I've got some here. If you're getting tired of the way it looks, well, it could get a facelift. We're going to talk about that when I come back.

And I want to talk to you about an idea that I was just telling you about and that is, whether it's better to live in a city or better to live in the country. There are all sorts of views about this. A lot of people think it's better to live in the country. Your lifestyle is better, you consume less. City living is something you do because you actually have to do it.

But this gentleman I'm about to introduce you to, Joshua Prince, he's the President of Rex, which is an architectural firm, a design firm. He's got something to say about green living, which is something we've heard uttered in many other places. And that is that is substantially greener and more economically friendly to live in a city than to try to live elsewhere and retrofit your life around being more energy friendly.

Joshua Prince-Ramus, thanks for joining us.

Tell us what you mean.

JOSHUA PRINCE-RAMUS, PRESIDENT, REX: Thank you, Ali. It's a pleasure to be here.

I think the core issue, in fact, I should say that what I'm about to say isn't necessarily innovative. Really the issue is that the public at large as well as the building design community really isn't focusing properly on what is actually at the root of sustainability.

If you were to look at carbon dioxide emissions annually, you sort of discover a very surprising thing. Building energy efficiency only accounts for about 15 percent. And yet when we talk about sustainability and green buildings, we're really focused on building energy efficiency and embodied carbon.

VELSHI: Right.

PRINCE-RAMUS: What is not usually looked at are all the peripherals. What I mean by that is if you were to build a green home in Montana, the peripherals -- transportation, deforestation, the amount of carbon dioxide it requires in order to bring your essential services to build new infrastructure, your food and milk and mail -- all dwarfs the energy efficiency of your building.

VELSHI: OK, this is a good point. When thinking about energy efficiency and how we fit into it, you're saying we have to take a more holistic view. What is our total input and outpatient output, rather than building an energy efficient building somewhere -- we've need to look at our structure of society. We've built a society in the U.S. that about not necessarily living close to where you work. And that's a lot of our energy, that's a lot of our carbon output.

PRINCE-RAMUS: Correct. Unfortunately it rests in, we still live in this manifest destiny mentality. The idea that it is our right to own land and develop land as a basic right.

The reality is that the in statistic I gave in an op-ed piece recently on CNN is that if you could simply reduce your commute by six miles, you would reduce the amount of carbon production -- you would reduce the amount of carbon relative to about 15 percent of your home heating.

VELSHI: So in other words, reducing your commute - let me just put that in a different way - reducing your commute by six miles is the same as cutting your heating usage in half?

PRICE-RAMUS: Correct. In terms of carbon production. It's not in terms of cost.

VELSHI: Right.

PRINCE-RAMUS: Carbon production.

VELSHI: So what are you suggesting? I get the point. And the point is that we're more efficient in cities, we're more efficient living closer to where we are, than building out all this so-called energy-efficiency infrastructure in places that are further out.

So the implication there is we should be urban dwellers more than we should be rural dwellers if you don't need to be a rural dweller?

PRINCE-RAMUS: Absolutely. I'm not necessarily advocating that everything need to be, for instance, rehabilitated.

But if you start with new building, building sustainably, building with an energy-efficient building, building with low embodied carbon that's all very important. But it's much more important, I think, as a first principle is to look at where you're building. Whether you're building next to existing infrastructure, whether or not you are taking advantage of that infrastructure in intelligent ways. In the end, ultimately, as I said in the beginning, about 45 percent of the carbon emissions is tied up between transportation, deforestation and primary energy use of buildings. Just living urbanistically will address almost immediately 30 percent, where energy efficiency alone is 15 percent. So if you were to build sustainable buildings in urban centers, you would actually tackle 50 percent of the carbon emissions.

VELSHI: Where does this work? I'm assuming New York, Chicago, San Francisco, Hong Kong, London, places like this where lots more people take advantage of the infrastructure that's built. That might be the subways, that might be the sewers, that might be the water structure.

Is that the example?

PRINCE-RAMUS: It can be. In the end what really is important is that the infrastructure be there.

You were just talking about Syracuse. If Syracuse already has existing schools, hospitals, freeways, light rail and so forth, it can also be Syracuse. This is not necessarily that we need to emphasize massive urban infrastructure, but in fact, there are less dense areas that perhaps more than New York or Los Angeles that can accommodate greater density.

VELSHI: What an interesting discussion. All right. Thanks very much for bringing that to our attention. It's one of these themes that we really need to understand a little bit better.

Joshua Prince-Ramus is the president of Rex, an architectural and design firm, joining us from New York.

Thanks, Joshua.

PRINCE-RAMUS: Thank you.

VELSHI: All right. I was telling you earlier, your money could soon look a little bit different. We're going to take a look at the dollar redesign project after the break.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

VELSHI: OK, you know that pesky vine kudzu? Well it should be a lifesaver for some people. An extract of the kudzu vine is being developed by researchers at Gilliad Sciences to treat alcoholism. It may also help cocaine addiction. It apparently raises levels of a brain chemical that helps block the cocaine high. Now Kudzu was originally imported to the U.S. from Asia to control soil erosion. You can read more about this study in the Journal Nature Medicine.

And in China, check this out, a traffic jam of epic proportions. You think you've got a long commute? Listen to this: so far drivers have spent nine days stuck in traffic. The jam stretches more than 62 miles and involves thousands of trucks between the Intermongolia autonomous region and the Chinese capital of Beijing. Traffic congestion is a common problem in China, but construction on a section of the Beijing-Tibet Expressway has forced more traffic onto National Highway 110 which runs roughly parallel. Drivers are complaining about area vendors gauging food prices. But a lot of them aren't taking detours because they actually want to avoid the toll costs. Construction is scheduled to continue until September the 13th. What a mess.