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CNN NEWSROOM

Astronaut Heidemarie Stefanyshyn-Piper Collapses Twice During Welcome Home Ceremony; Bush and Musharraf Eager To Show United Front On War On Terrorism; Pope Benedict's Apologies Not Enough For Some Muslims; Reality Tourists Flock To Venezuela; Some U.S. Commanders Wouldn't Wait For Pakistani Permission To Go After Bin Laden

Aired September 22, 2006 - 15:00   ET

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


CAROL LIN, CNN ANCHOR: Welcome back to THE NEWSROOM, where we've got a developing story. Fredricka Whitfield working on that one -- Fred.
FREDRICKA WHITFIELD, CNN ANCHOR: Well, Carol, at a welcome home ceremony in Houston, one of the Shuttle Atlantis astronauts collapses twice. Heidemarie Stefanyshyn-Piper, at last report, was not being hospitalized. Might this be part of a post-flight effect? That's a big maybe. NASA says such effects could linger for up to a week after returning to Earth. They just got back early yesterday morning.

Doug Peterson is a NASA spokesperson. He's on the phone with us now.

And so, first, Mr. Peterson, how is Heidemarie Stefanyshyn-Piper?

DOUG PETERSON, NASA SPOKESMAN: Good afternoon. Yes, Heidi is fine now. She had a little period of light-headedness this afternoon out at our crew return ceremony, and she felt kind of faint for a bit. And we had our flight surgeon see to her and take a look, and he came back and said that she's fine. It's one of those cases where, having adjusted to zero gravity, it takes a little bit of time to get back to Earth.

WHITFIELD: Yes, understandably. And so, like I mentioned at last report, she was not being hospitalized. And, still, the prognosis from that doctor on the scene there, she will not be hospitalized. This is completely normal, considering what her body and the rest of the crew has been through?

PETERSON: Yes, that's correct. The crew's flight surgeon was actually at that ceremony, so he saw her immediately and talked to her. And I've talked to him myself, and he explained that she was quite warm and that it's a pretty hot day out there. And, of course, she has the effects of zero gravity that she's still dealing with, so -- but he said she's fine now.

WHITFIELD: And you mentioned the weather out there, quite hot out there. A lot of this ceremony was taking place at a hangar there at the Ellington Field just across from the Johnson Space Center. Was she out in the direct sunlight or was she inside the hangar?

PETERSON: No, she was not in the sunlight. That ceremony was in the hangar. But I've been out there a few times myself, and it can get pretty warm. But she was excited, and she really wanted to speak to all the support staff at Johnson Space Center that supported the mission.

WHITFIELD: And through at all, even after the first collapse, you know, she had a real sense of humor, saying, "You know, boy, if that's not a little embarrassing." So how is she feeling right now, given the fact that this took place just as she was about to speak and talk to all the audience members who came out to welcome the space crew back?

PETERSON: Well, I think she's fine now. You know, she's a little disappointed that she wasn't able to spend a little bit of time talking to the space employees here and tell them about her mission, but I think she's headed for home, and she's going to be fine.

WHITFIELD: All right. Well, Doug Peterson, spokesperson for NASA, thanks so much for your time. And we're glad that this seems perfectly normal, and it looks as though Heidemarie Stefanyshyn-Piper, Carol, will be just fine.

LIN: In fact, our crack team in the newsroom actually found an interview that Miles O'Brien did with astronaut Eileen Collins back in March about the effects of re-entering from a mission in space and the physical effects of being in space and transitioning back to Earth.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

EILEEN COLLINS, NASA ASTRONAUT: The symptoms vary greatly from one astronaut to another. We have some astronauts who just get up out of their seat and they walk away and they're fine, and they could go off and probably, you know, jog a couple of miles and not have a problem.

But we don't want injuries to happen, so we don't let people do that. We come back, we have the doctors. We have an astronaut and a doctor or two go inside the crew compartment, make sure everybody is OK. They give us water. They help us get out. They say, "You know, take it easy. Don't try to overdo it."

(END VIDEO CLIP)

LIN: So there you go. It happens.

In the meantime, we are also going to be talking about another big story out of Washington, you know, the relationship between the United States and Pakistan and the war on terror. Now, President Bush and Pakistani President Musharraf say that they are in this war together, amid growing signs of stress in an often conflicted friendship. So we're going to start at the White House with CNN's Elaine Quijano.

So, Elaine, the two of them had a joint appearance, a news conference with reporters. And despite these reports of the United States threatening Pakistan into joining in this partnership, they seem to be pretty congenial? ELAINE QUIJANO, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Well, you know, exactly. President Bush and Pakistan's president, Pervez Musharraf, are both very eager to show a united front today on this issue of war on the terrorism. Pakistan, of course, is a critical U.S. ally in the terrorism fight. But lately, there have been some questions about how that U.S.-Pakistan alliance was forged in the days after September 11th and also what that alliance means today.

Now first, some background. President Musharraf alleges in an interview that is set to air this weekend that, in those days after September 11th, the United States threatened to bomb Pakistan if it did not cooperate in the war on terrorism. Now, President Bush said today that he didn't know about any conversation like that and said he was taken aback when he read about this story in the newspaper.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: All I can tell you is, is that, shortly after 9/11, Secretary Colin Powell came in and said, "President Musharraf understands the stakes, and he wants to join and help rout out an enemy that has come and killed 3,000 of our citizens."

As a matter of fact, my recollection was that one of the first leaders to step up and say that the stakes have changed, that attack on America that killed 3,000 of the citizens needs to be dealt with firmly was the president.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

QUIJANO: Now, for his part, it really was an extraordinary moment, when Pakistan's president, Pervez Musharraf, essentially side- stepped the question posed to him about the entire issue, saying that he had a book coming out and that he didn't want to comment ahead of that book release. It was a light moment at the time, but really, at the heart of the matter, this serious allegation.

In any case, both leaders went on to give the other effusive praise about their cooperation in the war on terrorism, expressing confidence and trust in each other. Still, five years after September 11th, of course, Osama bin Laden remains on the loose. Both leaders today pledged to work together to hunt him down.

And this meeting, Carol, really was a prelude of sorts in advance of that trilateral summit, when President Bush next Wednesday will be sitting down, not only with Pervez Musharraf, but also the leader of Afghanistan, Hamid Karzai. There have been some tensions between the two countries, Afghanistan and Pakistan, each side blaming the other for this resurgence of Taliban activity.

So President Bush really wants to bring these sides together, perhaps diffuse some of the tension in that relationship, and try to convince that, in fact, it's in their mutual interest to work more closely together in the terrorism fight -- Carol.

LIN: Elaine, when's that meeting again? QUIJANO: On Wednesday it's set to take place. And he's got another one on Tuesday with Hamid Karzai alone. All three of them sit down, though, together Wednesday night.

LIN: All right. Look forward to it. Thanks, Elaine.

Now, why don't we hear from the actual former official who allegedly delivered that threat, according to Musharraf? Now, the source of this purported threat to bomb Pakistan, a former State Department official. CNN's Brian Todd joins us from Washington to tell us more about that.

Brian, you got a chance to talk with Richard Armitage?

BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, I did, Carol. I spoke with the former assistant secretary of state last night on the phone. Now, to clarify, the remarks that Musharraf attributed to Mr. Armitage in those days after 9/11, Musharraf said that his intelligence director, the Pakistani intelligence director, told him that Armitage said, quote, "Be prepared to be bombed. Be prepared to go back to the Stone Age," if Pakistan doesn't fully cooperate in the war on terror.

I did speak to the former assistant secretary of state last night on the phone. He said he never made those remarks, he would not say such a thing, and he was not authorized to make such a threat. When CNN cameras caught up with Armitage this morning, this is how he characterized his remarks to that Pakistani intelligence chief.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

RICHARD ARMITAGE, FORMER ASSISTANT SECRETARY OF STATE: I told him that this, for Americans, this was black or white, that Pakistan was either with us fully or not. And it wasn't a matter of being able to negotiate it. He started to tell me about the history of Pakistan- Afghan relations -- and I must say I'm a little embarrassed -- I cut him off and said, "History starts today, General."

(END VIDEO CLIP)

TODD: Now, Armitage told me that that Pakistani official was shaken after that meeting. And Armitage said he doesn't know honestly how the message could have been relayed so differently to President Musharraf, but he kind of chuckled when talked to me on the phone. He said, "Look, at least the bottom line is that the intelligence chief got the message that we were serious about this and that Musharraf eventually got that same message" -- Carol.

LIN: All right. Do you think something got lost or does Armitage think that something got lost in the translation?

TODD: You know, aside from a flat denial, you're not really hearing much about the losing in translation. Something clearly did get lost in the translation, but there are other remarks that are said behind the scenes. Maybe that remark could have been said by another official; maybe the Pakistani intelligence chief heard it from someone else. There are all sorts of things that are said behind the scenes in these situations that get relayed, maybe misrelayed to their presidents, and it comes out years later. Clearly, there was some very tough talk behind the scenes between Richard Armitage, other U.S. officials, and the Pakistanis in those early days, though.

LIN: All right. Thank you very much, Brian Todd, part of the best team covering the world for "THE SITUATION ROOM." And can join Wolf Blitzer weekdays at 4:00 Eastern and again in primetime at 7:00.

And right here in the newsroom, we've been covering some severe weather out of the CNN Weather Center. CNN meteorologist Reynolds Wolf, seeing something popping on the map?

(WEATHER REPORT)

LIN: Thanks, Reynolds.

All right. Hot, dry weather out in California is making things tough for fire crews out there, and those crews need to get the best of several fires in Southern California before the Santa Ana winds arrive. Now, the day fire in Ventura County north of Los Angeles has already scorched more than 112,000 acres. It started back on Labor Day from somebody burning debris. It's just 35 percent contained.

Several small fires are also burning. Among them, a 2,300-acre blaze in San Bernardino County, east of Los Angeles. That one started Tuesday.

Hell, no, he won't go. Hungary's embattled prime minister still refuses to give in to huge protests sparked by his taped admission of lying to win elections, but Ferenc Gyurcsany is making one confession: The Reuters News Agency reports he's planning to close his Socialist Party headquarters. It's in a building that once housed Hungary's hated Communist Party, the scene of the failed anti-Soviet uprising in 1956.

Now, as for those protests against the prime minister, well, you're watching some of last night's demonstrations. They were large and loud but, for the most part, pretty peaceful. Police said there wasn't any major trouble.

And Pope Benedict is taking more steps to repair relations with the world's Muslims. He has asked for a meeting next week with Muslim ambassadors to the Vatican, but CNN's Alessio Vinci reports some Muslims are refusing to accept the pope's attempts to apologize.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

ALESSIO VINCI, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): No matter how often Pope Benedict XVI offers his apologies, it seemed "I'm sorry" just isn't enough. Thousands of protesters took to the streets outside the Al-Aqsa mosque in Jerusalem Friday. And in Kashmir, hundreds marched through the streets of Srinagar, after the traditional Friday prayers, chanting, "Hang the pope." The chief cleric of the Genia mosque (ph) says, "We strongly condemn whatever the pope has said. He has apologized, but we demand he should take back whatever he has said in his statement." And about 1,000 clerics and religious scholars joined together in a statement demanding the Catholic Church remove Pope Benedict from office.

But for all the criticism from Islamic extremists, more moderate Muslim leaders say they have accepted the pope's words of regret.

Here in Rome, in Europe's largest mosque, as the faithful worship on this first day of Ramadan, one Muslim leader says he believes some good may come out of this controversy. Abdullah Radwana (ph) said, "We have closed the door on this. The pope has apologize. But," he said, "this could open the door to meaningful dialogue between religious leaders."

And the faithful who come to St. Peter's Square, hoping to catch a glimpse of the Holy Father, say it's time to move on.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I think what he has said has been enough, yes. It was not an indication as to how he felt at all. I think it was a matter of quoting from a text. And he's made that clear and has apologized, so I think that's sufficient.

VINCI: It's true that the pope has taken unprecedented steps to try to quell the anger over his words. He has already apologized three times. And the pope's apology was even printed in Arabic on the front page of the Vatican newspaper. And the pope is about to go one step further.

(on camera): In yet another attempt to reach out to the Muslim community, the pope has invited to his summer residence all of the Muslim ambassadors accredited to the Vatican, as well as key representatives of the Muslim communities here in Italy. The purpose of this gathering, Vatican officials say, is to re-launch a dialogue with Islam. The meeting is expected to take place on Monday morning.

(voice-over): Security at the Vatican has been beefed up in light of the outrage over the pope's speech, but Benedict has gone out of his way to show that he is not afraid, even taking a spin around St. Peter's Square on Wednesday in an open-top popemobile.

Alessio Vinci, CNN, Rome.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

LIN: Well, he calls President Bush the devil and some other pretty colorful names, too. Venezuela's president, he's a curiosity, you know what, and so is his country, so much so that well-off Americans pay top dollar to see it. We're going to go, too, when we come back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

LIN: Not many Americans visit Cuba. It's communist and, without special permission, closed to U.S. travelers. But Venezuela is another story. It's a country that Washington says is trying to become another Cuba. And tourists, reality tourists are flocking there.

Here's CNN's Karl Penhaul.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

KARL PENHAUL, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): These are no ordinary American tourists. This is no ordinary vacation. Their destination is slums of the Venezuela capital to see President Hugo Chavez's revolution up close.

JUDITH TANZER, PSYCHOTHERAPIST: It's society and change, and it's change in the right direction.

DAVID MAKOFSKY, SAN FRANCISCO POLICE: I mean, is this a dictator? Is this a popular revolution?

PENHAUL: First stop is Community Center, emblazoned with a portrait of revolutionary icon Che Guevara. It was a police station. Now it's a radio station and a center to teach the poor to read and write. Some of the tourists are already converts to Venezuela's radical alternative, even as Washington accuses President Chavez of turning his country into another Cuba.

MARCOS BELLAMY, STUDENT: The United States administration is a joke. This administration has done whatever it can to quell international, local, national, all types of movements that show people trying to get out of this Westernized, you know, capitalistic, sexist, racist, all these things that oppress people.

PENHAUL: Venezuela has become the number-one destination for these so-called reality tours, run by San Francisco-based Global Exchange. All organizer JoJo Farrell asks is that visitors make up their own minds.

JOJO FARRELL, TOUR ORGANIZER: It's a really crucial time to see what happens with Venezuela. They're clearly doing things differently, and it is being seen as a threat, especially by the United States.

PENHAUL: These Americans who hail from New York to San Francisco are paying $1,250 for a 10-day trip. Today, they're hearing how the poor get free healthcare from Cuban medics. A chance, too, to take holiday snaps at political art: walls adorned with rebellious causes, Spain's Basque guerrillas, Mexico's Zapatista insurgents, and, of course, Che.

MALIA COHEN, SAN FRANCISCO POLITICAL ORGANIZER: The revolutionary thought and mindset is generational. What we see in the United States, and you really don't see grandparents and parents and even young as active politically.

PENHAUL: The trip has stirred old memories from David Makofsky. As a volunteer in the 1980s, he taught computer skills to Nicaragua's Sandinistas, arch-enemies of then-U.S. President Ronald Reagan. MAKOFSKY: I had a lot of fond memories of that period, and I know people that did, but times change.

PENHAUL: For Marcus Bellamy, the trip is fueling new hope.

BELLAMY: And Venezuela, for black people worldwide, could be a model.

PENHAUL: For these tourists, not a sun-kissed beach in sight, but plenty of food for thought.

Karl Penhaul, CNN, Caracas, Venezuela.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

LIN: And we're talking about plenty of rockets to spare, and no army in the world can take them away. That goes for the United Nations, as well. Defiant claims by the leader of Hezbollah in front of a jubilant throng in Beirut. It was a self-described victory rally in a bombed-out neighborhood, and Hassan Nasrallah's first public appearance in months. Hezbollah fighters battled the Israeli army for 34 days this summer; more than 1,200 people were killed on both sides of the Israeli-Lebanese border, mostly in Lebanon.

Well, it was a matter of life and death. Still, his own father skipped out on him.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Do you think you could ever forgive him?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Forgive him? Probably not.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

LIN: Despite a betrayal and some stiff odds, some happy news for the teen, coming up in the CNN NEWSROOM.

And final farewell to the F-14 with our Kyra Phillips in the hot seat. We're going to check out her flight in a U.S. Navy Tomcat. You're watching CNN, the most trusted name in news.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

LIN: Starbucks is already known for being expensive, but, as Cheryl Casone tells us from the New York Stock Exchange, you may soon have to dig a little deeper for that latte or cappuccino, Cheryl?

CHERYL CASONE, NEW YORK STOCK EXCHANGE: Just a little bit, Carol. Hi there. Starbucks has decided to raise prices on its lattes, its cappuccinos, and other drinks. On October 3rd, prices going to go up by five cents per drink. That is the first time Starbucks has boosted prices in two years, believe it or not.

Coffee beans also going to cost more, about 50 cents more per pound, but not all the drinks are higher. Starbucks not going to raise prices on those prepared drinks that it sells in the refrigerator cases -- Carol.

LIN: All right. So what's the reasoning behind the price increase?

CASONE: Well, just going to make more money, I guess, huh?

(CROSSTALK)

LIN: On five cents a cup? I guess it adds up.

CASONE: Yes, really. No, Starbucks says that its costs are going up, everything from the price of coffee to energy and healthcare for its employees. Starbucks prices, you know, they vary from store- to-store, but this price hike is going to be five cents across the board for all the stores throughout the United States and Canada.

Starbucks, they now have more than 9,000 stores in North America, and they have said they want to expand to as many as 30,000 stores worldwide. Carol, believe it or not -- and I didn't know this until today -- there are Starbucks in places like Kuwait, Bahrain and Qatar, just to name a few.

LIN: Wow, places where tea is pretty popular typically. So is this good for Starbucks investors?

CASONE: Well, you know what? It's funny. The stock, I was actually looking at it earlier as we were talking. It's a little bit lower right now, and the market overall is lower. Investors are still concerned about how much the overall economy is slowing down after a report yesterday from the Fed that showed a dramatic drop in factory activity in the mid-Atlantic region.

Right now, here are the market numbers for you guys this Friday. The Dow Industrials losing 26, 28 points right now. And the Nasdaq Composite is down about 0.75 percent.

Well, that is the latest from Wall Street. More from the NEWSROOM in just a moment.

But, first, it is Friday, and time to take a look at life after work, with one man who takes his patriotism very seriously.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

PETER LE BEAU, NEW YORK GUARD: This is going to be the drill.

ANDY SERWER, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): At age 60, Peter Le Beau's life has never had more direction. As a captain in the New York Guard, an executive director for a military nonprofit, his mission is serving his country.

LE BEAU: Having been in the military, having been in war, I had a firsthand appreciation of what our servicemen and women go through.

SERWER: Le Beau served in Vietnam before a 30-year career in banking. He lost his job in 2002. That's when the Soldiers', Sailors', Marines' and Airmen's Club came calling. They provide low- cost accommodations in New York City to active and retired military.

LE BEAU: I took about a 75 percent cut in pay to take this job, but the rewards have been priceless. When those kids come here for two or three days, and there's this feeling of warmth, and it's their home away from home.

And how's the rest of the building? Are we in good shape?

SERWER: Le Beau's work at the club inspired him to join the State Guard.

LE BEAU: I couldn't go into the active duty, because I'm far too old. We do a lot of things that the regular military does, land navigation, search and rescue, and anti-terrorism. And being part of a team of people that are dedicated to preserving our way of life, that's the reward.

SERWER: Andy Serwer, CNN, New York.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

LIN: Straight to the NEWSROOM now. Fredricka Whitfield working on a story about a Shuttle astronaut who collapsed at a public event?

WHITFIELD: Right and Carol, I've been talking to you in the past hour and a half about what happened to Heidi Stefanyshyn-Piper, 43- year-old, just back along with the other members of the Atlantis crew, coming back yesterday. Well today during a welcoming ceremony in Houston, at a field, you're looking at videotape right now of what happened when she took to the podium and was about to speak.

She was fifth in line to speak and then she kind of, her knees buckled and then she fell there. And it really does look rather alarming but NASA officials are saying that this is something that can typically happen. This is kind of post-flight effects when, you know, your body gets a little woozy. It can happen anywhere within that week span of returning to Earth. You can see that she is alert there as she is laying on the ground. They are talking to her.

It just so happened that a NASA surgeon was also there, the same NASA surgeon who checked out the Astronauts before and after they come down. You can hear the audio of the officials there saying she's OK. She did stand up right after that and took to the stand and said, with a sense of humor, boy, that's awfully embarrassing. She proceeded to talk a little bit more and, then again, appeared to get light-headed, knees buckled and she went down again. But again, she has not been hospitalized. The surgeon there on-site did take a good look at her and checking all of her vital signs.

She is fine. This is just some thing of what can happen after returning to Earth after being up in space for so long. They were working on the International Space Station while in space and this kind of post-flight effect could happen anywhere within that one-week span.

LIN: Now experiencing the effects of gravity. WHITFIELD: Yes. It's a lot on the body.

LIN: It certainly is. All right, thanks very much for that update. We'll be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

LIN: The rugged frontier of Pakistan, near the Afghan border, is suspected of sheltering Osama bin Laden. Now given the chance to get him, should the U.S. shoot first and ask permission later? CNN's senior Pentagon correspondent Jamie McIntyre reports.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

JAMIE MCINTYRE, CNN SENIOR PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): U.S. intelligence generally believes Osama bin Laden is hiding among sympathizer in the tribal areas of Pakistan that border southern Afghanistan. But U.S. commanders say if they knew exactly where, they wouldn't wait for Pakistani permission to go after him, or for other most wanted terrorists, for that matter.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I would tell you that when we get good targeting information, that we will go where we need to go to go find him and go get him.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Intent of our commander in chief, President Bush, is very clear to commanders at every level, including my level on down.

MCINTYRE: It wouldn't be the first time the U.S. crossed the line into Pakistan. Back in January, the CIA fired a missile at a compound near the border, hoping to kill bin Laden's number two, Ayman Zawahiri. He was not among the dead. And in 1998, the U.S. sent cruise missiles through Pakistani air space to try to get bin Laden at an al Qaeda training camp in Afghanistan. The Pakistani government was told only after the missiles were en route. The rules of engagement are not written in stone.

LT. GEN. KARL EIKENBERRY, COMBINED FORCES CMD. AFGHANISTAN: They allow me the authorities that are needed and the flexibility that is needed to, as we say, take the fight to international terrorism.

MCINTYRE: Take this recent surveillance photograph of a Taliban funeral in Afghanistan. Funerals are usually off limits because of the risk to innocent noncombatants, but if bin Laden had been there, Commanders, who in this case held their fire, might well have ordered an air strike.

THOMAS DONNELLY, CENTER FOR STRATEGIC AND INTL. STUDIES: I wouldn't imagine there is a lot of, or going to be a lot of teeth gnashing. You know, if you have got Osama in your cross-hairs, I'm sure that pretty much any American would be anxious to pull the trigger.

MCINTYRE: The options boil down to two, a cross-border snatch mission by CIA or U.S. military special forces or air strikes from manned or unmanned planes.

DONNELLY: Perfect universe, I would much rather capture him. He still has huge intelligence value.

MCINTYRE (on camera): One reason the U.S. might want to rely on getting forgiveness, rather than permission from Pakistan, is the long-held suspicion that too many people in the Pakistani government would be willing to tip al Qaeda off to any U.S. operation.

Jamie McIntyre, CNN, the Pentagon.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

LIN: See more of Jamie McIntyre's reports on "PAULA ZAHN NOW." You can watch weeknights at 8:00 Eastern, right here, only on CNN.

Hitting its goal with time to spare, the U.S. Army says it will wind up it's best recruiting year in almost a decade by enlisting soldier number 80,000 today, nine days before this recruiting year ends October 1st. Factors that may have boosted this year's numbers include new financial incentives, Internet recruiting and also allowing people as old as 42 to enter the service. Thirty five used to be the cutoff.

The Army is also accepting a larger number of recruits who scored on the lower side of aptitude tests and some with criminal records. More troops means longer leave between tours for soldiers in Iraq and Afghanistan.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

FRANCIS HARVEY, SECRETARY OF THE ARMY: There's a baseline plan that says that the active Army will be deployed for one year out of three and the national guard, one year out of four or five. So, that's our baseline plan. Sometimes, a particular unit may or may not meet that particular dwell time, as we call it, at home. But we have a baseline plan and, again, the Guard and reserves are a very, very important part of it. That's our approach, so when you talk about the Army, talk about the total Army.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

LIN: We're hitting the mark this year especially noteworthy because last year was the Army's worst recruiting year in more than 20 years.

We now salute some of the men and women who have sacrificed their lives in the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. His mother says that 21- year-old Justin Dreese of Northumberland, Pennsylvania was not afraid to go into battle. Before being killed by mortar fire in Iraq on September 2nd, Dreese had also served a tour in Afghanistan. His commander says Dreese was a motivated paratrooper, respected by his peers.

And Army Sergeant Ralph N. Porras of Merrill, Michigan was killed in the same mortar attack on September 2nd. The chaplain of his unit said the 36-year-old Porras was loud, grinning and big-hearted. Porras was known for scouting out soldiers who were not getting any letters. He'd then write friends and ask them to send care packages to those soldiers. Porras leaves behind a wife and a 16-year-old son.

And Army Staff Sergeant Eugene Alex of Bay City, Michigan, was known to friends as Eug. He died September 2nd of wounds he suffered three days earlier in Baghdad. His death came just after the Pentagon had extended his unit's duty in Iraq beyond the usual 12 months. Alex leaves behind his wife, Melissa, and three children.

These are just three of the 2,958 servicemen and women who have lost their lives in Iraq and Afghanistan.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

LIN: Armed, dangerous and apparently very determined. A North Carolina man is accused of forcing his way into a domestic violence shelter in North Carolina to kill his wife. Bonnie Woodring had reportedly taken refuge there after her husband, John Woodring, tried to strangle her, but that is part of a strange and disturbing story here.

Terrie Foster is with our WLOS, our affiliate in Asheville.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Please, a woman has been shot with a shotgun.

TERRIE FOSTER, WLOS REPORTER (voice-over): A helicopter flies overhead, searching for any sign of 35-year-old Woody Woodring, the man seen here in an interview on News 13 after he wrote a book on famous killers called "The Convict Speaks."

JOHN WOODRING, ACCUSED OF MURDER: I've always been curious to what drove me to make the mistakes I made.

FOSTER: Police are now looking for clues in that book since Woodring interviewed criminals who had been on the run, like Eric Rudolph.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Seeing as how he has had contact with people that have been in similar circumstances.

FOSTER: And they're examining the Web site where he posted an apology to his wife Bonnie. She went to the REACH shelter where investigators say Woody shot and killed her.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Ever since they got married, he was just the real jealous type.

FOSTER: Those who spent time with the couple at the American Legion in Waynesville say they knew there were problems but they didn't imagine what would happen. Coworkers of Bonnie at Harris Regional Hospital, where she was a nurse, encouraged her to seek help. Chief Nurse Sheila Price says that led Woody to threaten her coworkers too.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: She struggled on and off with this relationship for several months.

FOSTER: Now the hospital has beefed up security.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Because we want to make very sure that people feel safe.

FOSTER: To help the people who tried to help Bonnie, some of the friends who are now grieving.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: One of those friendly, bubbly people that would welcome a patient and within five minutes. You knew each other forever.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: She is going to be very well missed and I hope they get him soon.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

LIN: In another story, the most hated man in America? U.S. marshals say it's not Osama bin Laden or any other terrorist. It's a guy who was let out of prison so he could give his dying son a kidney and he disappeared. Well, recently, we told you that the 16-year-old, Destin Perkins, son did get a kidney, though his dad is still on the lamb.

Well, this week, CNN's Susan Candiotti saw for herself how the young man is recovering while the old man stays underground.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

SUSAN CANDIOTTI, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Like any new golfer, Destin Perkins admits he needs some work on his swing.

DESTIN PERKINS, KIDNEY RECIPIENT: I shanked it.

CANDIOTTI: But for him that's not what playing golf is all about.

PERKINS: It's just fun. Especially when you've got your friends with you, it makes it a lot of fun.

CANDIOTTI: Fun is not what Destin was having last winter. The 16-year-old was badly in need of a kidney transplant, and the man he counted on for help skipped out on him.

(on camera): Do you think you could ever forgive him?

PERKINS: Forgive him, probably not. That's a pretty bad thing that he did to me.

CANDIOTTI (voice-over): That he is Destin's own father. U.S. marshals call by Destin's dad, Byron Perkins, the most hated man in America. (on camera): Are you any closer to catching Byron Perkins?

DEP. DAWN IZGARJAN, U.S. MARSHAL SERVICE: We are no closer for catching Byron Perkins or Lee Ann Howard.

CANDIOTTI (voice-over): Perkins took off with his fugitive girlfriend, Lee Ann Howard, last January. He was temporarily freed from jail while awaiting a maximum life sentence so he could donate a kidney to his son.

After CNN first ran the story last February, American tourists vacationing near Puerto Vallarta, Mexico, told police they recognized the couple, but not before Mexican villagers say they bought Perkins' sob story that his money was stolen and were never repaid for bailing him out.

Though they've run down leads from Canada to Kansas, U.S. marshals suspect the couple is still in Mexico pulling off scams.

IZGARJAN: I don't want the public to forget about Byron Perkins and Lee Ann Howard just because Destin is doing is great right now. We need to catch him and we need to bring him and face the charges. This is my working file on Perkins and Howard.

CANDIOTTI: Authorities say they hope the publicity will generate fresh leads.

(on camera): What, do you think he'll just slip up?

IZGARJAN: Everybody makes a mistake, and he will eventually make a mistake, and we'll just wait.

CANDIOTTI (voice-over): Destin's mother also is waiting for that day.

ANGELA HAMMOND, DESTIN PERKIN'S MOTHER: He will mess up. He always did.

CANDIOTTI (on camera): Do you still love him because he's your father?

PERKINS: Yes, I love him because he's my father, but I still don't think I could forgive him. I really want him back behind bars.

CANDIOTTI: You think he should be punished?

PERKINS: Yes.

CANDIOTTI: Put behind bars?

(voice-over): The person who gets credit for saving Destin Perkins? An anonymous organ donor who died in California.

(on camera): Do you think this has made you a stronger person?

PERKINS: Oh yes, I think I could probably do anything now. CANDIOTTI (voice-over): Including showing off his transplant scar that may fade faster than the emotional wounds left by his fugitive father.

Susan Candiotti, CNN, Jamestown, Kentucky.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

LIN: Anderson Cooper is going to continue to follow this story and report on any updates. "AC 360," week nights at 10:00 Eastern.

All right, a quick quiz for you. Who is the college dropout who is now the third richest person in America, worth more than $20 billion? The closing bell and the name of that son of a cab driver next in the CNN NEWSROOM.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

LIN: Yes, a final good-bye for a warrior that served the United States from the Cold War to Vietnam to the current war in Iraq. Today, the F-14 fighter jet, nicknamed Tomcat, took a final symbolic flight. The Navy is retiring the supersonic war-bird that gained fame in the movie "Topgun." thousands of people attended ceremonies at Oceana Naval Air Station in Virginia Beach. And if you were watching yesterday, you saw our very own CNN's Kyra Phillips taking her final F-14 flight, the last by any journalist. Here is some of her adventure.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

KYRA PHILLIPS, CNN ANCHOR: What is it about the F-14 that makes it so powerful? Obviously, a very flexible aircraft, can carry up to 800 pounds of weapons, but what's it like to fly this and what do you know about this aircraft that makes it such an intense strike fighter?

CMDR. PAUL "BUTKUS" HASS, F-14 PILOT: Over 8,000 powder of weapons. I've got to correct you.

PHILLIPS: 8,000, thank you.

HASS: Well, first of all, we're standing here in the aft part of the airplane. The engines are what comes to mind. It has got two incredibly strong after-burning engines, that can push all that stuff that you carry, in addition to the airplane itself. And push it into supersonic speeds very easily. The wings are a very distinctive feature of the aircraft. They're swept right now, very close to how they would be if you were going at top speed, which is in excess of a Mach-two.

So, really, really distinctive features on this airplane. And, of course, when you're coming in for a landing or when you're dog- fighting at slower air speeds and turning radius becomes more important to you. The wings will program out to a 20-degree wing sweep angle, giving it a great, flexible capability, both in high and low speed regimes. PHILLIPS: We are going to kind of take you through the process of getting in, strapping in, getting ready. So kind of hang with me here.

HASS: Again, Kyra, here all ready to go. I've just connected her com cord to her oxygen mask and her oxygen mask down to the upper seat block here, which houses all of her communication and also the flow of oxygen up to the mask, once it's strapped on her face. And, of course, also, she was talking about pulling G's. She has got her good set of Mark-One Mod Zero Speed G's on, the G suit. That's plugged into a receptacle here that allows bleed air from the engines to inflate when the aircraft senses G's.

PHILLIPS: Do you always get nervous when you want something to go off perfectly. And, you know, this is a part of history. It's the F-14. It's being retired. I was able to fly, you know, in this aircraft in the Persian Gulf. I was able to watch what these pilots, these Rios (ph), and all the members of the air crew went through.

We're going to be up for about an hour. So what I'm going to do now, I'm going to go ahead, because I want to concentrate, make sure my oxygen levels are good, get my mask on.

HASS: Are you ready to go in back?

PHILLIPS: I'm ready to go.

HASS: Here we go.

PHILLIPS: I don't know if you can still hear us, Carol, but you're going to see us coming down the taxi way.

HASS: All right, (INAUDIBLE) low air speeds coming up, there's 80 knots, 100 knots to start things off, 120 knots, 140 knots. We're ready to fly.

PHILLIPS: The engine, Kyra, (INAUDIBLE). What a beautiful day.

HASS: If you look over your right side, you can see Oceania down there. That's where we took off from. Right now we're climbing to 4,000 feet (INAUDIBLE).

PHILLIPS: The advantage of CNN and 24-hour coverage, we get to document historical moments like this.

Did you ever think, (INAUDIBLE), that when you were going through flight school, that you would actually fly this aircraft and drop bombs in a war-time scenario?

HASS: That was my goal going through flight school. I wanted to pick up the Tomcat.

PHILLIPS: It's interesting, Carol, you know how a lot of people come through the CNN NEWSROOM and they're so fascinated how it works and sitting up on the set and seeing how we do breaking news and how we cover stories. And we always think, it's our job, you know? We're really happy to have it, but it's a part of our lives. You come into this environment and you encounter so many young men and women and this is what they dream, this is their dream, to fly in a strike fighter. But these guys, to them, it's their job.

It's nice to be back down and to have been able to experience that, no doubt. It was definitely a piece of history as the Tomcat is retired.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

LIN: The last flying F-14s will go to the museums around the country. They're going to be replaced by the Navy arsenal by the FA- 18 Super Hornet Attack Fighter. And, of course, our very own Kyra is going to be back on Monday to share more of her adventure with us. We look forward to seeing her.

Now, millionaires need not apply. Getting on the Forbes 400 richest Americans list starts at a cool $1 billion this year and as Ali Velshi tells us, that's a first.

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