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New Details May Come Soon In Foley Scandal; Some Democrats Accusing GOP Congressional Leadership Of Engaging In Cover-Up Designed To Protect Political Power; Top Republican Senator Recently Back From Iraq Says If Things Don't Get Better U.S. May Have To Change Course; Interview with Senators Richard Durbin and Jack Reed; New Aircraft Carrier to be Named for First President Bush
Aired October 7, 2006 - 10:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
T.J. HOLMES, CNN ANCHOR: We are just moments away from the christening ceremony of the USS George Herbert Walker Bush. It's the 10th and final Nimitz class aircraft carrier, and it will join the naval fleet in 2008.
We'll go live to that ceremony when President Bush heads to that podium.
Well, it looks like the danger is over. Residents evacuated when a fire broke out at a hazardous materials plant in North Carolina are returning home. City officials gave them the OK for a phased-in return this morning. A few people living closest to the plant will have to wait just a bit longer.
An Iowa company is voluntarily recalling 5,000 pounds of ground beef in seven states. Each package bears the USDA number 2424. The USDA says the meet may be contaminated with the E. coli strain that the spinach that we've been hearing about the past few weeks had killed three people. There are no reported illnesses linked to the recalled beef just yet.
CNN.com's Veronica de la Cruz has more on the recall coming up in our next half hour.
BETTY NGUYEN, CNN ANCHOR: Well, I'm no meteorologist, but today's weather forecast for Virginia, take a look at this, wet, rainy and flooding in some areas. The National Weather Service is predicting six more inches of rain today, just want they don't need.
People living in the Battery Park community near Richmond are under evacuation orders just as a precaution. Floodwaters are rising, and city officials, well, they're not taking any chances.
Let's get you straight to Reynolds Wolf for a quick look at the weather.
More rain, that is not what they need, Reynolds.
NGUYEN: Well, we do run down the stop stories every 15 minutes right here on CNN NEWSROOM, with in-depth coverage all morning long. So your next check of the headlines, that's coming up at 10:15 Eastern.
Seeing the effects of war firsthand. Senators Dick Durbin and Jack Reed are in the war-torn nation. We'll here from them right here in the CNN NEWSROOM. That's coming up just minutes away.
In the meantime, it is Saturday, October 7th, 10:00 a.m. here in Atlanta, 5:00 p.m. in Baghdad, where we will go live shortly.
Good morning, everybody.
I'm Betty Nguyen. And I've got a new partner on hand today, T.J. Holmes.
HOLMES: Yes, that would be me.
NGUYEN: Thanks for being with us.
HOLMES: Thank you. Thank you for having me.
NGUYEN: Glad to have you.
HOLMES: And again, like she said, I'm T.J. And thank you all for starting your weekend with us.
New details may come soon in the scandal surrounding e-mails ex- congressman Mark Foley allegedly sent to former congressional pages. A lawyer for one former page says his client is expected to talk with federal agents next week.
CNN's Brian Todd has the story from Washington.
BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): A former congressional page at the center of a Foley scandal, a young man who faces many questions. His high-powered attorney answers some of them.
STEPHEN JONES, ATTY. FOR FORMER CONGRESSIONAL PAGE: Jordan hasn't done anything wrong. He's a witness. He will cooperate fully with the investigation, both the House investigation and the Department of Justice.
TODD: Stephen Jones says he represents Jordan Edmund but Jones would not confirm Edmund exchanged instant messages with Congressman Foley. Edmund finished the page program in 2002, the alleged exchanges first reported by ABC News mistakenly left with a user name on the network's Web site traced by a blogger, CNN and other news outlets to Edmund include this.
From Maf54, ID'd by ABC as Foley: "You're in the boxers, too." The reply: "Nope, just got home." Maf54: "Well, strip down and get relaxed."
JONES: It reads like some of the novels that are on the market, but I haven't read all of them and I don't know whether they're true and they've been edited. I'm still playing catch up. TODD: Pressed further on when these alleged communications might have taken place.
JONES: I don't know what the allegations are, other than Congressman Foley allegedly acted improperly. I don't know whether he did or not.
TODD: Another key question, was there physical contact with the congressman?
JONES: I'm certain that there was no physical involvement between Jordan and Mr. Foley.
TODD: We also asked Jones about an item on "The Drudge Report", citing two people close to Edmund, saying he goaded Foley into the exchanges as part of a prank. ABC News reports that is not accurate and Jones seems to agree.
JONES: From what I do know, this was not a prank.
TODD: CNN, along with one of our affiliates, has also spoken with Brad Wilson, who was a page a year before Edmund. Wilson says Congressman Foley's behavior made some pages uncomfortable. He says Foley never made any overtures toward him, but did approach a friend.
BRAD WILSON, FORMER CONGRESSIONAL PAGE: He asked my roommate when he was coming to Florida and then followed that question with the phrase 18 is the magic number and that threw up red flags and it was bizarre for all the pages.
TODD (on camera): Wilson said he thought that meant the age of 18. We called Mark Foley's attorney, David Roth, for reaction to Brad Wilson's accounts and Stephen Jones' comments. Mr. Roth did not return our calls.
Brian Todd, CNN, Washington.
HOLMES: The Foley scandal has Democrats on the offensive. And Republicans, well, they're running for cover. Some Democrats are accusing the GOP congressional leadership of engaging in a cover-up designed to protect their political power.
Correspondent Elaine Quijano joins us now live from the White House with the latest.
Good morning, Elaine.
ELAINE QUIJANO, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Good morning to you, T.J.
Of course with one month left until the congressional midterm elections, the White House would rather not be talking about the Mark Foley scandal. But of course Democrats are seizing on the situation, trying to make the case that Democrats, not Republicans, can best protect America's children.
Now, making that argument today in the Democratic radio address will be Minnesota congressional candidate Patty Wetterling. Her son Jacob was abducted almost 17 years ago and is still missing.
Since then she has worked as a child advocate. And in her address, she had some harsh words for Republican leaders, saying that "Mark Foley sent obvious predatory signals, received loud and clear by members of congressional leadership, who swept them under the rug to protect their political power." She goes on to say, "We need a new direction in Congress because our children need strong voices. We need to stop the sexual exploitation of children across the country, and in Washington we must hold accountable all those complicit in allowing this victimization to happen."
Now, the White House has argued that it is simply too early to pass judgment on who knew what when. But earlier this week, the president's spokesman, Tony Snow, said he didn't think every member of Congress should be held responsible for Mark Foley's behavior.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TONY SNOW, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: The president has made it absolutely clear that the behavior that has been reported on the part of former representative Mark Foley is disgusting and unacceptable. He supports House Speaker Dennis Hastert's calls for a full and thorough investigation, and he believes that you need to get all the facts, you need to find out what the problem is, you need to fix it.
But as far as speculating about what people on the House ought to do to accomplish those ends, that's up to members of the House. We're not going to get into it.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
QUIJANO: Now, expect to hear more sharp rhetoric from President Bush as he tries to cut through the noise of the Mark Foley issue. The president trying to tout Republicans' national security credentials with the election just around the corner.
And speaking of noise, sorry about that, T.J. We had some audio coming in from the event that's taking place down in the Newport News area, the one that you've been talking about, of course, the christening of that ship. We're hear in the briefing room and you heard the speakers overhead. Sorry about that.
HOLMES: No worries. We know it's not your fault.
Thank you so much, Elaine.
NGUYEN: Now to the Iraq war zone. More than a dozen people have been killed today alone, and the bodies of 17 more apparent torture victims have been found. There's no letup in the sectarian violence. And now one top Republican senator recently back from Iraq says if things don't get better soon, the U.S. may have to change course. CNN Senior Pentagon Correspondent Jamie McIntyre reports.
JAMIE MCINTYRE, CNN SR. PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT (voice over): Citing what he calls the exponential rise in the number of deaths, both U.S. and Iraqi, along with the failure of the government of Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki to disarm the warring militias, Republican Senator John Warner is sounding a dire warning: while he still has hope, it's fading fast.
SEN. JOHN WARNER, (R-VA) CHMN., ARMED SERVICES CMTE.: I assure you, in two or three months if this thing hasn't come to fruition, and if this level of violence is not under control, and this government able to function, I think it's a responsibility of our government, internally, to determine is there a change of course that we should take?
MCINTYRE: Just back from meeting with Iraqi officials and U.S. commanders in Baghdad, Warner is giving voice to what many inside and outside the Pentagon are coming to believe; namely, the U.S. strategy of standing down as Iraqi forces stand up is failing.
COL. DOUG MACGREGOR, U.S. ARMY (RET.): This change that the senator's talking about is long overdue. We had no business occupying central Iraq. It has been enormously wasteful. The change that's indicated is departure at the earliest opportunity.
MCINTYRE: But even as Warner says the situation is, in his words, drifting sideways, he argues withdrawal would simply turn the Iraqi oilfields into a treasury for the world terrorists movement. And he expressed continued faith in U.S. commanders.
WARNER: We've just got to stand behind them and give those military operations the time needed to succeed.
MCINTYRE (on camera): What went wrong? Senator Warner blames himself, along with former CENTCOM commander General Tommy Franks, for not asking the right questions about Iraq's history and culture. Had they paid more attention to the problems the British had forming Iraq nearly a century ago, he says, they would have had a better understanding of how difficult it would be to forge a working government from three rival ethnic groups.
Jamie McIntyre, CNN, the Pentagon.
NGUYEN: Well, the Iraq war has sharply divided Americans. Many remain steadfast in their support of President Bush. But many others now question the wisdom of invading Iraq. There's not a lot of in between.
Democratic senators Dick Durbin of Illinois and Jack Reed of Rhode Island had made the trip to Iraq to see for themselves. They've also visited Afghanistan and Pakistan, and they join us this morning from Baghdad.
Good morning to you, senators.
SEN. RICHARD DURBIN (D), ILLINOIS: Good morning.
SEN. JACK REED (D), RHODE ISLAND: Good morning.
NGUYEN: Well, let me start with you, Senator Durbin.
There's a lot of talk about the violence ramping up in Iraq, the sectarian violence. And now you've got the curfews that are in place. Given what you have seen on the ground, are we at a situation where we're going to see more deployments extended of U.S. troops just to stabilize the security situation there?
DURBIN: I can tell you what we've seen today firsthand working with our Marines and our soldiers, they're doing an exceptional job but under very, very difficult circumstances. It really is going to come down to a crucial test in a very short time frame, whether the Iraqis can really keep good on their promise to provide the soldiers and the police to bring stability to their country.
There's a sense of urgency about Iraq in America. We have to make sure that the government here in Iraq understands that and has that same sense of urgency.
NGUYEN: Well, there's a sense of urgency about Iraq, there's also a sense of urgency about the war on terror.
And I want to talk to you, Senator Reed, because this weekend marks the fifth anniversary of the war in Afghanistan. And Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld had this to say in a "Washington Post" op-ed piece. Listen to what he had to say, and I want to get your reaction to it.
He says, "Building a new nation is never a straight, steady climb upward. Today we can sometimes look worse than yesterday -- or even two months ago. What matters is the overall trajectory, where do things stand today when compared to what they were five years ago? In Afghanistan, the trajectory is a hopeful and promising one."
Now, you were just in Afghanistan, Senator Reed. Looking at the situation on the ground from your eyes, are you impressed? Are you pleased with progress so far five years into this war on terror?
REED: Well, what's happened in Afghanistan is that after an initial success in terms of ousting the Taliban, the administration and Secretary Rumsfeld, in particular, took their eyes off Afghanistan and allowed, in a sense, the Taliban to get back in the game. Now, with the leadership of our forces and also NATO, we're bringing military pressure to bear on the Taliban. But like Iraq, their challenge is to build the institutional capacity of the government of Iraq to provide security and also provide economic well-being for their people.
And we have to complement much more aggressively our military efforts with reconstruction, with economic assistance. We're making progress there I think much more so than Iraq. But the situation is not yet decisively settled in our favor and, more importantly, in the favor of a free Afghanistan.
NGUYEN: Well, let's talk a little bit about what's happening here at home, especially with the midterm elections just weeks away.
Senator Durbin, let me ask you, the Foley investigation really continuing to stay in the headlines. There are calls for Speaker Hastert to step down.
What is your reaction to that? Do you think the speaker has done all that he can?
DURBIN: You know, it's tough for us so far away -- Senator Reed and I have been over here in Pakistan, Afghanistan, and Iraq -- to keep up with the details of the story. But it is a significant issue.
I feel so badly for the pages and their families. And I really do believe that those members of Congress who knew about this threat really had a special, personal responsibility on behalf of those pages to move aggressively. And it appears they did not.
The House Ethics Committee is looking into it. Let them get to the bottom of it. But it's a question of competence in the leadership of the House of Representatives.
I will tell you, though, being here in Iraq today, that the American people still identify this as their number one concern. They want to make sure there's reform in the House of Representatives, but they want to see our soldiers come home with their mission truly accomplished as quickly as possible.
NGUYEN: I know that we're talking a lot about Iraq and it is on the minds of many Americans, but no doubt the Foley scandal and the ensuing investigation is something that a lot of people are talking about. And considering with the vote just weeks ago, Senator Reed, let me leave this with you.
The last question I want to ask is, do you feel that Hastert and other GOP leaders are saying that this is just chalking it up essentially to Democratic dirty tricks with the election so close? Do you feel that is a fair and accurate assessment of the situation?
REED: Oh, absolutely not. I think that is a situation where apparently Congressman Foley violated the rules of the House. He's being investigated now. And any suggestion or allusion that this is just some kind of a stunt really diminishes the consequential nature of this, the fact that a member of the House and perhaps others with knowledge of his behavior really intruded upon the lives and the behaviors of these young pages.
That's unacceptable. It's clearly unacceptable. This is not about dirty tricks. It's about maintaining a safe environment for young people that come to work in Washington. And they should have that safe environment. NGUYEN: Senators Durbin and Reed joining us live from Baghdad today.
We appreciate your time today. Thank you so much.
REED: Thank you.
DURBIN: Thank you.
NGUYEN: Well, tomorrow, insight from two retired generals. Their thoughts on what should be done in Iraq. That's starting at 7:00 a.m. Eastern with analysis throughout the day. And of course it's right here on CNN.
HOLMES: It's the last of its class, as the Navy christens its newest aircraft carrier. And President Bush is on deck to honor its namesake. We'll bring you his remarks live.
NGUYEN: And you see the live pictures right now.
Of course we're also talking about an express delivery at Tucson International Airport. One that is truly a bundle of joy. We're going to explain that coming up.
HOLMES: Also, a lot of hot air in Albuquerque this morning. We're not talking about the folks there.
We love you, Albuquerque.
We'll fill you in when CNN NEWSROOM continues.
NGUYEN: Well, if you are just joining us, we are awaiting the start of President Bush's remarks at the christening ceremony at the Navy's newest aircraft carrier. You see right now live pictures coming from that. It will be named after his father, former president George Herbert Walker Bush.
We're going to take those remarks just as soon as the president begins speaking.
It is safe to go home again in Apex, North Carolina. Most residents evacuated because of a two-day fire at a hazardous materials plant. Well, they're being allowed back in their homes this morning, but those living closest to the plant will have to wait for environmental test results. Those are due a little bit later today.
Meanwhile, tension increases along the border between North and South Korea. South Korean troops fired warning shots today after five North Korea soldiers crossed into the southern side of the demilitarized zone. This comes as North Korea moves closer to a threatened nuclear test, and that could happen tomorrow.
HOLMES: The AP reports at least 25 people have been killed in scattered violence around Iraq today. Ten of them were killed when a suicide truck bomber hit an Iraqi army checkpoint in the northern city of Tal Afar. Plus, 17 more bodies of apparent torture victims were found around Baghdad.
One of the few remaining veterans of baseball's Negro League has died. Buck O'Neil was a star player and manager who eventually became a major league coach. He was featured prominently in the 1994 PBS documentary "Baseball". O'Neil was 94 years old.
We run down the top stories every 15 minutes here on CNN NEWSROOM, with in-depth coverage all morning long. Your next check of the headlines coming up at 10:30 Eastern Time.
NGUYEN: Americans are almost evenly split on how they feel things are going in the country right now. A CNN poll conducted by Opinion Research Corporation found 51 percent of Americans think things are going well. Forty-nine percent say things are going badly.
Now, asked about how things will be going in the country a year from now, 51 percent said things will be going well, 44 percent said things will be going badly.
HOLMES: Now some other stories "Across America".
Police in Indiana say Indiana Pacers guard Stephen Jackson fired shots in the air in apparent self-defense after he was hit by a car outside a strip club. His coach says he's bruised up with a few stitches, but otherwise he's all right. The Pacers are still trying to improve their image, of course, after this ugly mess. You know, the fight between the Pacers and Pistons fans, which was two seasons ago.
This unexpected 5 pound 6 ounce package arrived express delivery at an Arizona airport. The mother, who is an airline employee, flew the short distance from Phoenix to Tucson and was trying to get to the hospital when her water broke. Airport firefighters helped deliver the baby girl that they have appropriately nicknamed "Jet".
And they're full of hot air in Albuquerque. The 35th annual Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta is under way and runs through October 15th. Seven hundred hot air balloons are registered.
Albuquerque's fiesta began in 1972 with the gathering of 13 balloons in the parking lot of an Albuquerque mall. It's come a long way since then.
CNN, we're also in Albuquerque. The city is one of the stops on the CNN Election Express Yourself 13 city bus tour. Stop by and express yourself, your political opinion.
You might just be featured...
NGUYEN: You may get a little more than you ask for.
HOLMES: Yes, OK. Just your politics. Just your politics.
NGUYEN: Yes, please. HOLMES: You might be featured on CNN programming in the weeks leading up to the election.
NGUYEN: Well, crack the champagne, shall you?
HOLMES: Sure thing.
NGUYEN: Because it is christening day for the USS Gorge W. Bush. And we're going to take you live to the ceremony when President Bush helps honor his father.
HOLMES: Plus, residents are ready to return after a chemical fire loses a bit of that spark. Is it safe for them to go home?
CNN NEWSROOM continues in just a moment.
NGUYEN: Go ahead. Sing it, T.J. I know you know it.
This is one of the biggest Elvis fans on earth. And, in fact, he's one of the newest members to our family here at CNN, T.J. Holmes.
HOLMES: Yes. I'm from Memphis. That is why.
NGUYEN: Oh, is that the only reason? The King.
HOLMES: The Graceland, the King. I've got all of the albums. Yes, I'm a big Elvis fan.
NGUYEN: Well, good for you. And we're glad that you're here.
HOLMES: Thank you.
NGUYEN: Obviously a big CNN fan.
HOLMES: Big CNN -- you know, this is how new I am. I've been up here with you...
NGUYEN: You're paid to say that, T.J.
HOLMES: I've been up here with you since 7:00 and I've still got my ID badge on.
NGUYEN: Someone didn't tell you take that off when you got here?
HOLMES: I didn't know it was OK to take it off.
NGUYEN: We've got to look after T.J. a little bit better than that, folks.
NGUYEN: OK. We'll get on with the show. HOLMES: But thank you for the welcome.
NGUYEN: But we do want to welcome you. Thanks for being here.
And we've got a lot to do today.
HOLMES: Thanks for having me.
NGUYEN: In fact, we want to talk about the weather, too, because it's raining in many parts of the area.
NGUYEN: Well, we were talking a little bit about that christening. A really big ship for former president Bush. It's got to be big. It's got to be nice.
Ahead, a brand-new Navy warship is christened. And it is turning into a family affair.
We'll have the president's live remarks right here on CNN.
HOLMES: Plus, you might want to change what you eat after you see what our bodies absorb in this polluted, toxin world.
NGUYEN: I hope you haven't had your breakfast just yet.
HOLMES: Yes. If you're about to, put it down for just a second. Dangerous chemicals that you may not even be aware of.
DANIEL SIEBERG, CNN TECHNOLOGY CORRESPONDENT (voice over): There's a new technology on the horizon that allows firefighters to find their way through smoke-filled high-rise buildings more easily.
PROF. PAUL WRIGHT, MECH. ENGINEERING UC BERKELEY: You know when you go into a mall you see a "You are here" map and you see a red dot, and that's you. We are aiming to build technology where the firefighter sees that map on a small postage stamp display, and then the red dot moves around.
SIEBERG: It's a combination of pre-installed wireless beacons and wearable mobile sensors. They enable the captain to track the crew and monitor their time inside the building. And their oxygen levels.
WRIGHT: From a design point of view, you want to be completely understanding the firefighter and their task, and then just supporting them with appropriate technology and not -- not over-rich technology.
SIEBERG: It's already a work in progress in Chicago. Professor Wright hopes to one day put this technology to good use around the country. (END VIDEOTAPE)
HOLMES: We're awaiting the start of a milestone in naval history. The tenth and final Nimitz class aircraft carrier is to be officially named after former President Bush. You're taking a live look there at the ceremony that's happening and of course, Senator George Allen making some comments there. We're going to carry this event live and bring you the remarks of the current President Bush when he begins talking about his dad.
Of course, it looks like the danger is over with. We're telling you about this, this morning. Residents evacuated when a fire broke out in a hazardous materials plant in North Carolina. They are returning home. City officials gave them the OK for a phased in return this morning. Few people living closest to the plant will have to wait just a bit longer.
A former congressional page is expected to cooperate in the investigation of former Congressman Mark Foley. A lawyer for the now 21-year old man says his client will talk with Federal agents next week. Foley resigned after his e-mails and instant messages to former male pages were made public.
NGUYEN: An Iowa company is voluntarily recalling 5,000 pounds of ground beef in seven states. Now here's a list for you. Each package bears the USDA number 2424. The USDA says the meat may be contaminated with E. coli strain in spinach that killed three people. There are no reported illnesses linked to the recalled beef. CNN.com's Veronica de la Cruz has more on this recall coming up in about 10 minutes, so you definitely want to stick around for that.
In the meantime, the latest victim of the E. coli outbreak in spinach is an elderly Nebraska woman who died in August. The state's health officials released test results confirming the link. The E. coli strain is also blamed in the deaths of a Wisconsin woman and a two-year-old Idaho boy. We run down the top stories every 15 minutes right here on CNN newsroom and in-depth coverage all morning long, so your next check of the headlines coming up at 10:45 Eastern.
HOLMES: A sigh of relief in North Carolina. As we reported, Apex City officials say most of the residents evacuated because of a fire in a hazardous materials plant can now go home. More from Renee Chou of our affiliate station WREL in Raleigh.
RENEE CHOU, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Residents in Apex, North Carolina who were evacuated after a massive chemical plant fire have been given the all clear this morning. Town officials say the Apex fire is out and that means residents within a one-mile radius of the plant will be allowed to return to their homes. Police officials will remove the barricades to those subdivisions throughout the morning.
There was concern about toxic fumes coming from the plant when it broke out late Thursday night. The environmental quality company stored a variety of chemicals at that facility, including paints, household cleaners, detergents and pool chemicals. Air quality tests show in the surrounding area that the air quality is fine and that's why town officials feel comfortable allowing the residents to go back in.
As to the cause of the fire itself, investigators still have a lot of work to do on that. The immediate area surrounding the plant which includes several businesses and homes will still be closed off to the public to allow investigators to finish their investigation into this chemical plant fire. I'm Renee Chou reporting from Apex, North Carolina.
NGUYEN: Well there are only 10 Nimitz-class aircraft carriers in the world, so having one named after you, well, it's a huge honor. Right now in Newport News, Virginia, that honor is being bestowed on former President Bush. Only rarely has that happened when a person is still alive, but it is fitting in this case since the aircraft carrier holds a special place in his life.
NGUYEN (voice-over): This is the type of aircraft carrier George Herbert Walker Bush wishes he had been on in World War II. Not that there was anything wrong with the USS San Jacinto. But the USS George H.W. Bush will be a breed apart. When completed in 2008, it will be the 10th and final Nimitz-class super carrier.
At a cost of nearly $5 billion, the Nimitz-class are the largest, most sophisticated and most formidable warships in the world. The Navy affectionately calls these carriers 100,000 tons of diplomacy. The USS Bush will be nearly identical in appearance to the USS Ronald Reagan which went into service in January.
Now to give you some idea of how big these ships are, consider these facts. Navy pilot George Bush flew off of a carrier in 1944 that was 622 feet long, 109 feet wide and displaced 11,000 tons of water. The USS George H.W. Bush will be nearly 1100 feet long, 252 feet wide and displaces nine times more water. The San Jacinto carried 1,549 crew members and 45 aircraft into the Pacific theater in World War II. The USS Bush will deploy 5580 crew and 90 aircraft anywhere in the world.
The San Jacinto had limited range, because it had to be refueled periodically. Nuclear powered Nimitz-class carriers have unlimited range, because they can go for 20 years without refueling. The USS San Jacinto was decommissioned in 1947, less than four years after it went into service. The USS Bush should be operational for 50 years.
HOLMES: We're going to take you global now and head over to our international desk.
NGUYEN: Big news. Brenda Bernard joins us with the latest dealing with Castro, in fact.
BRENDA BERNARD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: That's right, Betty. "Time" magazine is reporting on its Web site that U.S. intelligence reports say Cuban leader Fidel Castro has terminal cancer. The 80-year old Cuban president underwent abdominal surgery in July and has been in the hospital ever since. The Bush administration has set up an inter- agency group to coordinate U.S. policy after the death of the Cuban leader.
A Navy corpsman has been sentenced to a year in confinement for his admitted role in the kidnapping and killing of an Iraqi civilian. It's part of a plea deal reached by Petty Officer Third Class Melson Bacos. In exchange for the light sentence, Bacos will testify against seven Marines charged in the April killing.
Bacos says he watched as two Marines shot a 52-year-old Iraqi man at least 10 times in the town of Hamdiniya. He says they dumped the body in a hole with a rifle to make it appear that the man had been planting a roadside bomb.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
PETTY OFC. 3RD CLASS MELSON BACOS, US NAVY CORPSMAN: I feel that my honor is gone and I let people down. But testifying truthfully I got it off my chest and hopefully that family will forgive us for what we have done.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BERNARD: A new Muslim controversy is brewing. This one centers on the veils worn by Muslim women. The man sparking the debate Jack Straw, leader of Britain's House of Commons. He says it would be better if Muslim women did not wear their veils in public. Straw wrote a newspaper column this week that veils inhibit communication and are a visible sign of separation.
He also told the BBC he finds it uncomfortable to try to talk to someone whose face he can't see. Straw asks Muslim women visiting his office to remove their veils. British newspapers and many in the public back Straw on this but sections of the Muslim community are outraged Betty.
NGUYEN: All right CNN's Brenda Bernard, thank you for that Brenda. And toxic chemicals, well, they are everywhere, but you don't believe or you might not believe how many may be in your own body. That's right. Coming up, the harmful effects of ordinary things like the carpet in your home. But first, Veronica de la Cruz joins us on the dot com desk. Good morning.
VERONICA DE LA CRUZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Good morning Betty. If you're thinking about firing up the grill today, cooking a couple of hamburgers, we have an important beef recall to tell you about before you do that. I've got details next from the dotcom desk.
NGUYEN: Now, in the news, we are waiting the start of a milestone in naval history, the 10th and final Nimitz-class aircraft carrier is to be officially named after former President Bush. You can see the speeches being made right now and we're going to carry it live when his son, the current president, begins speaking.
Things, they are getting back to normal in Apex, North Carolina. Most residents evacuated because of a two-day fire at a hazardous material plant. They're being allowed back home this morning, but those living closest to the plant, they're going to have to wait for environmental test results. Those are due back a little bit later today.
A former congressional page is expected to cooperate in the investigation of former Congressman Mark Foley. A lawyer for the now 21-year-old man says he will talk with Federal agents next week. Foley resigned after his e-mails and instant messages to former male pages were made public.
HOLMES: Another casualty of disgraced lobbyist Jack Abramoff, this one an aide to White House political advisor Karl Rove. Susan Ralston has resigned. Ralston had worked for Abramoff before joining Rove into 2001. The House panel says Abramoff's firm sent tickets to sporting events and concerts and Ralston was the most frequent White House recipient.
Republican and Democratic eyes are turning to California this evening. That's when the state holds its only debate in the governor's race. Republican Arnold Schwarzenegger is pulling ahead of his Democratic challengers state Treasurer Phil Angelides. The debate is set for 9:00 Eastern time and 6:00 Pacific. Of course we run down the top stories every 15 minutes here on CNN newsroom with in-depth coverage all morning long. Your next check of the headlines coming up at the top of the hour.
NGUYEN: OK, before you fire up the grill and throw on that burger, an Iowa company is voluntarily recalling 5,000 pounds of ground beef in seven states. Veronica de la Cruz is tracking the story for us online. I imagine that you've seen a lot with this developing with the numbers on the meat packages so we know exactly which ones (ph) we're talking about.
DE LA CRUZ: It's all at CNN.com. The USDA Betty is saying that the beef may be contaminated with the same E. coli strain that has been found in spinach. Three people have died as a result of that outbreak. Here is what you need to know. Jim's Market and Locker Inc. of Harlan, Iowa packed the ground beef patties and sent them to distributors in these states:
Georgia, Iowa, Massachusetts, Nebraska, New York, Texas, Wisconsin and Iowa. And the product names that you want to look out for here, Davis Mountains, Master Choice, Nebraska, Farner-Bocken, Irwin Country Store and Stube Ranch.
Also very important to mention, each package in the recall bears the establishment number 2424. You'll find that number inside the USDA mark of inspection. E. coli lives in the intestines of cattle and other animals and is typically linked to contamination by fecal matter. It's believed to be responsible for about 60 deaths and more than 70,000 infections a year. Now, Betty, if you believe you've ground beef affected by this voluntary recall, it is important that you do take it back to the store that you bought it from. You can find more information online at CNN.com. We have a link to the USDA, as well as a hotline that's been set up for more information. Again, that's CNN.com. More information as to all those products.
NGUYEN: Well, it's good that the information is online. It's one thing to talk about it here and sometimes people don't have time or a pen and paper handy so they can jot it down. So just go to CNN.com. You can find out what states that are affected and the numbers on the packaging.
DE LA CRUZ: Before you fire up that grill today, very important.
NGUYEN: Thank you, Veronica de la Cruz at dot com.
HOLMES: I did plan on firing up the grill today.
NGUYEN: I know you did ...
HOLMES: Thank you so much.
We'll turn to some other nasty stuff you might have in your body. Really, just how toxic are you? It's not a question you often hear people asking each other, but it's one we need to be thinking about maybe. With all the chemicals floating in your air and under your feet, you might be surprised to find out where a lot of that ends up.
CNN's Ted Rowlands has more.
TED ROWLANDS, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): In the modern world, potentially toxic chemicals are everywhere. The obvious, like pesticides and in the seemingly harmless, like home carpeting. And many of those chemicals have made it inside many of us.
DAVID DUNCAN, SCIENCE JOURNALIST: The problem is, like a lot of chemicals that seem wonderful on the one hand, these do get out in the environment.
ROWLANDS: San Francisco science writer David Duncan decided to find out exactly what chemicals are inside his body. "National Geographic" shelled out $15,000 to have David's blood tested for 320 different chemicals.
DUNCAN: They yanked out, sucked out about 14 vials of blood.
ROWLANDS: The results reported in the October issue of "National Geographic" showed David's body has detectable levels of 165 different chemicals, including 97 PCBs which are so toxic they were outlawed in 1977. There were 16 different pesticides found in David, 10 dioxins which are linked to cancer, seven different phthalates that have been found in things like shampoo and baby toys, seven different PFAs, a suspected carcinogen used in non-stick pans, three metals, including mercury found in fish and lead, found in old paint. And finally, there were 25 different PBDE's, chemicals that are very common used as a fire retardant for fabrics and carpet.
DUNCAN: This is my level on the green bar and you can see that's way up.
ROWLANDS: The amount of fire retardant chemical in David was more than 10 times the average amount found in a recent study of Americans and 200 times the amount found in a group tested from Sweden. The effects are unclear. Lab animals have suffered deformities. David said he doesn't know why his levels are so high.
DUNCAN: It may be that these are perfectly harmless, these chemicals at these levels or it might be dangerous.
ROWLANDS: Another shock for David had to do with his mercury levels. At first he tested at five micrograms per liter, well below the level of 10 that's considered high. But then he ate two consecutive meals of fish.
DUNCAN: I had the swordfish for dinner and the halibut for breakfast.
ROWLANDS: Twenty-four hours later, his level of mercury shot up to 12. Medical experts says mercury levels usually fluctuate. Other chemicals like the ones found in non-stick frying pans, can stay in your system for life.
DUNCAN: These are together inside of me, in all of us and they're interacting in ways that are very poorly understood.
ROWLANDS: Health advocates think that chemical exposure could explain rising rates in certain cancers and possibly even be linked to other conditions like autism.
JANET NUDELMAN, BREAST CANCER FUND: We're literally looking at an increasing body of scientific evidence that links chemical exposures to increasing rates of disease.
GOV. ARNOLD SCHWARZENEGGER (R), CALIFORNIA: It is important to know more about how those chemicals are built up in our bodies.
ROWLANDS: Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger recently signed legislation making California the first state in the country to have a program that will test volunteers and compare what's inside different people. The challenge then will be to figure out which if any of the chemicals are harmful.
Agent Orange now banned was considered harmless to humans when it was dumped on the jungles in Vietnam, as was asbestos which had to be pulled out of millions of buildings after it was linked to cancer. Without more information about the effects of these chemicals, none of us know what if any part of our modern world may actually be making us sick.
Ted Rowlands, CNN, San Francisco.
NGUYEN: So we'll never know. Here's something we do know. The water cooler is just ahead and coming up, solid gold dumbbells. Don't ask us why.
HOLMES: Check them out or you can use maybe those solid gold bricks.
NGUYEN: Which we all have somewhere at home in your gym.
HOLMES: Stick around. That's coming up.
NGUYEN: As mentioned, a beautiful scene from Albuquerque, New Mexico and the international balloon festival this morning. Look at that. That's also where you'll find CNN election express yourself bus visiting Albuquerque this weekend. And here's this morning's political shout out.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Certainly the biggest issue is the war in Iraq and security, security from terrorist attacks. I think everyone is thinking and talking about that nationwide.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Most of all, I would like to see civility addressed. I'd like to see civility in your political process. I'd like to see us have discussion rather than yell at one another. I can't believe that we as a political process can't get people to have respect in the institution and in individuals.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Terror and homeland security will affect my vote because it will greatly affect it because we need to be safe. And I want someone who can provide that safety for me and my children.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: To find out where the tour is headed next go to CNN.com/election.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
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