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CNN SATURDAY MORNING NEWS
Some House Republicans Seeking Reelection Are Running For Cover, Demanding House Speaker Resign; Republican Senator Back From Iraq Says If Things Don't Get Better, U.S. May Have To Change Course; North Carolina Fire Essentially Out; North Korean Nuclear Test Could Come At Any Time; Five Years in Afghanistan
Aired October 7, 2006 - 07:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
BETTY NGUYEN, CNN ANCHOR: There we are.
From the CNN Center, this is CNN SATURDAY MORNING.
It is October 7th.
We had a little technical problem there, but we've got it all worked out. So good morning, everybody.
I'm Betty Nguyen.
And look at my new partner, T.J. Holmes.
T.J. HOLMES, CNN ANCHOR: Yes.
I'm T.J. Holmes.
HOLMES: Can you hear me now?
Thank you so much for waking up with us this morning.
We've got it all worked out, so let's get it going.
NGUYEN: And we're glad to have you here, T.J.
HOLMES: Thank you so much.
NGUYEN: We'll be talking a little bit more about him a little bit later.
But in the meantime, let's get straight to the news, shall we?
All clear -- those are two words people in Apex, North Carolina are waiting to hear this morning.
HOLMES: And not so sure yet if they're going to hear those words. They're waiting after a raging fire broke out at a chemical plant Thursday night. It sent plumes of toxic smoke into the air and forced evacuations. Officials will brief reporters on the status of the fire any minute now. We'll bring it to you as soon as that starts.
Well, meanwhile, a former page was linked in the e-mail scandal of Congressman Mark Foley is expected to talk with federal investigators next week. That word comes from the former page's lawyer.
Meanwhile, many House Republicans seeking reelection are running for cover and demanding the House speaker resign.
Congressional correspondent Dana Bash reports.
DANA BASH, CNN CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): New York Congressman Tom Reynolds is in charge of getting Republicans elected to the House. In a tough year for Republicans, holding onto his own seat in Buffalo is a challenge. Now, he is a central player in the Mark Foley drama and he could lose.
REP. TOM REYNOLDS (R), NEW YORK: When I found out about this whole instance for the first time, in the spring of '06, I reported it to my supervisor, like anyone would in an office circumstance. I took it to the Speaker of the House.
BASH: Democrats say their internal polling shows Reynolds eight points behind his opponent.
Dozens of Republicans were already at risk of losing in November and while senior Republican officials hope the worst of the Foley scandal is now over, most admit there is damage.
VIN WEBER, REPUBLICAN CONSULTANT: I would say the panic is out of people's voices, but a deep-seated concern remains. I mean those members that have been polling regularly and were in that season where members of Congress are doing regular tracking polls have found a dip in Republican ratings across-the-board.
BASH: On the campaign trail, GOP candidates are seeking cover. Tom Kean, Jr. a Republican running for Senate in New Jersey, announced Hastert should resign as speaker.
TOM KEAN, JR. R, SENATE CANDIDATE: Speaker Hastert is the head of the institution and it's happened on his watch. I think there should be an independent investigation by outsiders.
BASH: GOP strategists say they are very concerned about the impact Foley will have in some of Indiana's conservative and highly competitive races. Republican Chris Chocola was already getting pounded for being part of an unpopular GOP Congress. He was one of the first to release a statement saying: "If leadership acted inappropriately, they will lose my support."
In Indiana's 9th District, Mike Sodrel's Democratic opponent just started airing this ad, raising questions about where his campaign money is coming from.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP FROM BARON HILL CAMPAIGN AD)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And $77,000 from the House leadership, who knew about but did nothing to stop sexual predator Congressman Foley.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BASH: Most Republican strategists say it's too early to know if the scandal will really help Democrats pick up the 15 seats needed to seize control of the House. But they also say this...
WEBER: We're close to the election and it's an election in which the Republicans have had a stiff wind in their face all along, so it's not good.
BASH (on camera): Some Republicans are making the case this might not have a major impact. GOP pollster David Winston says his new data shows virtually no nationwide change in how Americans intend to vote. But Republicans do worry that if conservatives stay home in just a few tight races over this on election day, it could help Democrats win the House.
Dana Bash, CNN, Capitol Hill.
HOLMES: And later this hour, we'll talk with Washington political analyst Mark Plotkin about the Foley scandal and the impact it might have on next month's mid-term elections.
Mark Plotkin joins us at 7:40 Eastern time.
NGUYEN: Let's get you now to the Iraq war zone. At least 10 people have been killed today and 17 more bodies have been found. There's no letup in 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's senior Pentagon correspondent, Jamie McIntyre, reports.
JAMIE MCINTYRE, CNN SENIOR PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Citing what he calls the exponential rise in the name 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 sending a dire warning. While he still has hope, it's fading fast.
SEN. JOHN WARNER (R-VA), ARMED SERVICES CHAIRMAN: I assure you, in a -- 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 the 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 is 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 oil fields into a treasury for the world terrorist 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, one year's -- a one year sentence, that is -- has been handed down in the alleged murder of an Iraqi civilian last April by U.S. troops. Petty Officer 3rd Class Nelson Bacos pleaded guilty to kidnapping and conspiracy.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
PETTY OFFICER 3RD CLASS NELSON BACOS, U.S. NAVY CORPSMAN: I feel that my honor was gone and I let people down, but testifying truthfully got it off my chest and hopefully that family will forgive us for what we have done.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
NGUYEN: Bacos testified that he watched two Marines kill the 52- year-old Iraqi man in cold blood. He said they made it appear the man had been shot while trying to plant a roadside bomb.
Now, in the plea deal, Bacos has agreed to testify against seven Marines accused in the incident in Hamandiyah.
HOLMES: And later this morning we'll discuss this case with two U.S. lawmakers now in Baghdad. Democratic Senators Dick Durbin of Illinois and Jack Reed of Rhode Island have been in Pakistan and Afghanistan. They join us from Baghdad in our 10:00 a.m. Eastern hour to talk about what they've seen on their trip.
NGUYEN: And we do want to take just a quick moment here to welcome our newest member of the CNN morning show here, T.J. Holmes.
HOLMES: Thank you.
NGUYEN: Listen to the music, T.J.
HOLMES: Very nice.
NGUYEN: Is that good? He's a big Elvis fan, folks, so we thought we'd welcome him with "The King." I mean what better way to welcome you, with royalty, right?
HOLMES: Your teddy bear. Yes. Yes. I'm from Memphis and that's why I'm such a big Elvis fan. But, yes, sorry about the technical issue. You know, but...
NGUYEN: You had nothing to do with that.
HOLMES: I was just told T.J. stands for technical jam. So we've had some issues on my first morning here, but...
NGUYEN: Well, we were off to a rough technical start, that is.
HOLMES: Technical start.
NGUYEN: But on your part, you've been doing a great job and...
HOLMES: Well, thank you so much.
NGUYEN: ... and, of course, we're going to get to know a lot more about you throughout the months and years to come.
And we welcome you to the show.
HOLMES: Thank you so much, Betty.
NGUYEN: Glad to be your partner right here.
HOLMES: Thank you so much.
NGUYEN: All right.
So, coming up, besides all of this fuzzy -- warm fuzzy stuff here with T.J. we are going to talk about some news.
The U.N. warns North Korea not to go ahead with a nuclear weapons test.
Will North Korea back off?
Well, if not, what are the consequences going to be?
We'll tell you about that in our report about five minutes from now.
HOLMES: Also this week, a CNN focus on a forgotten part of the world. Africa correspondent Jeff Koinange reports from Sudan, where African Union troops struggle to prevent more killings.
That's coming up in about 20 minutes.
NGUYEN: And how a few gunshots in the air are creating a serious image problem for the Indiana pacers.
All this and much more, right here on CNN SATURDAY MORNING.
HOLMES: Now in the news, an Iowa company is voluntarily recalling 5,000 pounds of ground beef in seven states. The USDA says the meat may be contaminated with the E. coli strain in spinach that killed three people. There are no reported illnesses linked to the recalled beef just yet.
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 death of a Wisconsin woman and a 2-year- old Idaho boy.
The executive assistant to White House political adviser Karl Rove has resigned. Susan Ralston had previously worked for Washington lobbyist Jack Abramoff. Documents show Abramoff gained dozens of contacts with the Bush administration through Ralston. Abramoff pleaded guilty to corruption charges in a Capitol Hill influence peddling probe.
NGUYEN: Well, the tension increases along the border between North and South Korea. South Korean troops fired warning shots today after five North Korean soldiers crossed into the southern side of the demilitarized zone. No one was hurt. A South Korean official says it is unclear whether North Korea's advance was intended as a provocation.
A suicide truck bomber hit an Iraqi Army checkpoint this morning, killing at least 10 people. It happened in the city of Talafar. Also, the bodies of 17 apparent torture victims have been found. Fifteen were scattered around Baghdad. Two were in the city of Baquba.
Back here in the States, firefighters say they have a good handle on that chemical fire in Apex, North Carolina. The blaze began late Thursday at a waste disposal plant, forcing thousands to evacuate.
Now, the latest word is that the fire is essentially out. And I understand there is a news conference going on as we speak.
Let's go to it right now, Apex, North Carolina.
Let's take a listen to the latest.
MAYOR KEITH WEATHERLY, APEX, NORTH CAROLINA: ... allowing the re-entry of our citizens. That is being confirmed by our fire chief and we are ready to start now a re-entry of our citizens into the areas previously evacuated.
I think all of you have the plan, but for the larger residential areas of one and two, we're going to start. The police will remove the barricades and allow re-entry at 8:00 this morning, followed by one hour later the blue area and the purple area. That would be at 9:00.
Hopefully, the residential section of -- that borders the industrial park where the site is, of course, will be allowed after some monitoring shortly thereafter with the whole area being allowed entry as soon as possible.
So this will allow our residents and businesses in Apex to be business as usual, hopefully by later today.
Let me first say, before we open it up to questions, that no electric official, I think, has ever been blessed with the level of support that he's had from our professionals at the town of Apex city government.
And let me just recognize a couple of those folks that have been instrumental in bringing this situation to a successful conclusion.
At the top, of course, is our town manager, Bruce Radford; our fire chief, Mark Haraway.
Where are you, Mark?
And Police Chief Jack Lewis.
Our city council has been here and been supportive the whole time. But, frankly, with guys like this, professionals, true professionals in a leadership position, my job has been extremely easy.
So thank you all very much for your cooperation with us in bringing the message to our residents of Apex through this situation.
You know, I don't know how I got blessed with a team like you all. You got the story right and we really appreciate that.
QUESTION: Mayor, so many people have said that they had no idea that there was a plant that was storing those kinds of chemicals so close to people's houses.
How does it happen that something like that is so close to homes? I mean I don't know what was built first, but how is the zoning allowing this is going on ...
Tell us about that.
WEATHERLY: Well, very basically there is an industrial zoning that allows those kind of uses, not only in Apex, every local government has an industrial zone that in the industrial zoning classification the permitted uses are the most intense.
You know, you could imagine just any legal business that would be -- that amount of intensity would be properly placed in an industrial zoning. So...
QUESTION: But how close were the nearest homes to it?
WEATHERLY: Now, that area was one of the older areas in Apex and we've had residential areas from the very beginning there, so, you know, the natural evolution...
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Five to six hundred people.
WEATHERLY: Excuse me?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Five to six hundred people.
WEATHERLY: Five to six hundred people would be the nearest. Of course, if we were zoning now, we would have buffers and that kind of thing. They're in our more modern development ordinances. But this is an area that, you know, predated most development ordinances. I'm sure the residential section, as it grew up around this -- and it's properly zoned for industrial.
So that's just, you know, that's not unique to Apex, certainly.
QUESTION: (INAUDIBLE) be able to continue even on that site if they were to, you know, clean up whatever is left there? Will another company (INAUDIBLE) operate there?
WEATHERLY: Well, that would be a permitted use under our zoning. So if our town council wants to review those things. But the law is pretty, you know, pretty strict and pretty standard about those kind of things, as far as what the zoning is and a permitted use and we'll follow the law, obviously.
QUESTION: What exactly was burning? When are we going to find out what exactly was burning?
WEATHERLY: Chief, you want to address those technical issues about the fire -- about extinguish and the many...
MARK HARAWAY, FIRE CHIEF: Sure.
WEATHERLY: And then we've got representatives of the -- I thought we did -- EPA that were going to talk about air quality.
But let me just -- Chief Mark Haraway can talk about the fire process.
HARAWAY: Sure. I'll do my best. To answer your first question, I can't give you a true answer of when we'll find out because we have a long and arduous process going on right now. We're doing -- we're in the process of securing the area. The fire has been extinguished. We still have hot spots.
NGUYEN: All right, you've been listening to officials there in Apex, North Carolina, including Mayor Keith Weatherly.
What we do know, and that is this. The fire is out. They are letting people back into their homes today. Now, this is significant because thousands of people did seek shelter after they were evacuated due to the fumes from this fire. I don't know if you saw the fire as we were reporting it yesterday, but the plumes of smoke were huge, lots of fire in this industrial plant.
It's the EQ plant. And the reason whey they were so worried is because there are a lot of chemicals on site, including oil, latex- based paints, household cleaners, detergents and things like that. Some 4,000 people sought shelter in hotels and emergency shelters overnight.
But as you just heard just moments ago, they are being let back into their homes this morning. And as the mayor said, it should be business as usual a little bit later today.
Of course, should anything change, we will update you on that.
HOLMES: Well, have you ever wanted to say "I report for CNN?"
NGUYEN: Obviously, we have, right?
HOLMES: I certainly have. And I got to do it this morning.
Well, Veronica de la Cruz has details for us this morning -- Veronica.
VERONICA DE LA CRUZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Thanks, T.J. and welcome.
Nice to have you on board.
HOLMES: Thank you.
DE LA CRUZ: We've had a few I-Reporters in the field capture images from yesterday's fire in Memphis. I'll be showing those pictures with you, plus telling you how you can become part of the most trusted name in news.
And someone else out there who says "I report for CNN" -- good morning, Reynolds.
REYNOLDS WOLF, CNN METEOROLOGIST: Hey, good morning.
(WEATHER REPORT) HOLMES: Here's this morning's political shout out from the CNN Election Express yourself. The Express is visiting Albuquerque, New Mexico-this weekend.
(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'd like to see civility addressed. I'd like to see civility in our political process. I'd like to see us have discussion rather than yell at one another. I just -- I can't believe that we as a political process can't get people to have respect in the institutions 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.
NGUYEN: Welcome back, folks on this Saturday morning here with T.J. Holmes.
HOLMES: Yes, and the lovely Miss. Betty Nguyen.
And Mr. Wolf, I've just met this morning. And we already have a problem. We start off our first day at work and our alma maters or our favorite teams are playing each other.
HOLMES: Arkansas and Auburn coming today.
NGUYEN: I see a little rivalry here.
WOLF: That's right. They're playing today. They're playing today at noontime, noon Eastern time.
NGUYEN: Hence the tie, is that what I'm seeing here?
WOLF: Yes, this is the Auburn University War Eagles tie, (INAUDIBLE).
NGUYEN: That's what I figured.
WOLF: Absolutely. Absolutely.
You know, conditions there are going to be great today.
WOLF: Nice and warm, though, from Kansas City southward to the Dallas-Fort Worth Metroplex. A big game today there at the Texas Fairgrounds. We're talking about Texas and Oklahoma. I have no idea who Betty is going to be pulling for, but...
NGUYEN: Hook 'em Horns. You know who I'm pulling for.
WOLF: No, really. Enlighten us. Please tell me, who are you pulling for?
NGUYEN: I'm pulling for my Horns.
Haven't I told you, Reynolds?
WOLF: Oh, yes.
NGUYEN: If you mess with Texas, what do you get?
You get the Horns.
WOLF: Yes, those are the Aggies, right?
NGUYEN: No. Don't even mention that team.
WOLF: Just joking. I'm just joking.
NGUYEN: Although I don't have my burnt orange on today. I even -- I actually have my Oklahoma red. I don't know what I was thinking.
HOLMES: It's the Razorbacks, Betty.
DE LA CRUZ: What are you doing? Well, what are you doing?
NGUYEN: I don't know. But I know who's going to win. That's all I know.
How about that?
WOLF: Good times.
NGUYEN: All right, Reynolds, thank you.
We'll talk to you a little bit later.
Well, if you've ever wanted to say "I report for CNN," now is your chance.
HOLMES: I report for CNN.
DE LA CRUZ: All right, T.J.
HOLMES: Veronica just -- thank you.
It's Veronica de la Cruz.
NGUYEN: Veronica de la Cruz does, too. DE LA CRUZ: And, welcome.
I tried to tell you earlier, but, you know, I was micless. So I apologize.
HOLMES: Micless. That's not a good place to be on TV.
DE LA CRUZ: OK, well, if you out there have logged onto CNN.com lately, you might have seen that I-Report logo. We know that Jon Stewart definitely has. Lots of you out there have not only noticed it, but you've started using the new feature by sending us great video, pictures. And you can find the instant community that we've created online. It is at CNN.com/exchange.
I wanted to share a couple of pictures with you this morning.
This one was sent to us by Charles Downs. It is the historic First United Methodist Church in Memphis, Tennessee. It was built in 1893. A beautiful picture.
Well, there was a fire there yesterday morning, which largely destroyed the church.
NGUYEN: Oh, that's unfortunate.
DE LA CRUZ: Its roof caved in. The steeple fell. And some walls crumbled onto the streets.
Also, take a look at this amazing photo. This one was sent to us by Ian Jones from his apartment window. This is not that church, but embers from that church sparked a fire at Memphis's Lincoln American Tower and two other buildings, as well.
You can view many other I-Report topics. And if you see news happening, you can always report it to us by sending your pictures and your video. Again, you can get more online at CNN.com/exchange. And it's really amazing, this online community that's been created. I don't know if you guys have had a chance to check it out, but, you know, everybody out there can say "I report for CNN."
NGUYEN: We've got a lot of reporters out there.
DE LA CRUZ: We sure do.
Good pictures, too, being sent in to us.
Veronica, thank you for that.
HOLMES: Thank you, Veronica.
And thank you for the welcome, as well.
DE LA CRUZ: Of course.
HOLMES: Well, African Union troops trying to stand in the way of genocide in Darfur.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JEFF KOINANGE, CNN AFRICAN CORRESPONDENT: There just aren't enough of them and they don't have enough firepower to protect even themselves from the warring factions here.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HOLMES: CNN's Jeff Koinange patrols with the troops ahead on CNN SATURDAY MORNING.
HOLMES: Now in the news, an Iowa company is voluntarily recalling 5,000 pounds of ground beef in seven states. The USDA says the meat may be contaminated with the E. coli strain in spinach that killed three people. There are no reported illnesses linked to the recalled beef, however.
Tension increases along the border between North and South Korea. South Korean troops fired warning shots today after five North Korean soldiers crossed into the Southern side of the demilitarized zone. No one was hurt. A South Korean official says it's unclear whether North Korea's advance was intended as a provocation.
This comes as North Korea moves closer to its threatened nuclear test. That could happen some time this weekend. The U.N. Security Council is warning North Korea -- don't do it or else. The U.N.'s warning did not mention any specific consequence.
And a suicide truck bomber hit an Iraqi Army checkpoint this morning, killing at least 10 people. It happened in the city of Talafar. Also, the bodies of 17 apparent torture victims have been found. Fifteen were scattered around Baghdad. Two were in the city of Baquba.
NGUYEN: Well, in southern Afghanistan, NATO says one of its soldiers died today from injuries received from a roadside bomb. The soldier was on patrol in Kandahar Province with other NATO troops. When they came under attack, NATO did not reveal the dead soldier's nationality.
We want to get now to Reynolds Wolf for a quick look at the weather outside.
Big game days all across the nation, Reynolds.
No pressure. No pressure.
WOLF: No, not at all. Not at all.
Well, you know, they play in all kinds of weather, and if you happen to go to any games in parts of the Eastern Seaboard, you're going to be dealing with some rain there. (WEATHER REPORT)
NGUYEN: Well, we do run-down the top stories every 15 minutes right here on CNN SATURDAY MORNING, with in-depth coverage all morning long. Your next check of the headlines, that is coming up at 7:45 Eastern.
HOLMES: Welcome back and good morning, everybody.
I'm T.J. Holmes. Or you can just call me the new guy.
NGUYEN: The new guy.
But we're glad to have you, T.J. Holmes.
HOLMES: Thank you.
NGUYEN: Coming to us -- worked in San Francisco.
HOLMES: For a little bit. I was out there three years in California.
Hello -- they're not up yet.
NGUYEN: They will be.
HOLMES: They will be later.
NGUYEN: Don't worry, we're on the air for quite some time.
NGUYEN: They'll get their T.J. fix today, that's for sure.
Well, good morning, everybody.
Thank you for joining us today.
We've got a lot to tell you about.
HOLMES: Of course, North Korea is a big story happening. We have several developments to tell you about this morning concerning North Korea and its threat to test a nuclear weapon. Friday, the U.N. Security Council issued a warning to North Korea -- don't test a nuclear weapon or else. The warning didn't say what the or else exactly would be. But Japan is sending strong hints North Korea could face possible military action if it does not abandon the weapons test.
With the world watching, North Korean leader Kim Jong-il met with his top military commanders and urged them to bolster the country's defenses. North Korea's test could come at any time.
CNN Pentagon correspondent Barbara Starr looks at what this test means in the balance of power.
(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE) BARBARA STARR, CNN PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): North Korea's leader, Kim Jong-il, happily waved to his military commanders as world pressure mounts for him to cancel plans to conduct his country's first nuclear test.
Pyongyang's announcement has thrown diplomatic efforts at the United Nations into a frenzy. If there is a nuclear detention, the world changes.
JOSEPH CIRINCIONE, CENTER FOR AMERICAN PROGRESS: This immediately affects the calculations of South Korea, Taiwan, Japan, all of whom might decide that they need to have their own independent nuclear arsenals, as well. If North Korea gets away with this, Iran would be encouraged to go forward.
STARR: Assistant Secretary of State Christopher Hill sounded ominous this week, saying: "North Korea can have a future or it can have these weapons. It cannot have both."
But the Bush administration is avoiding talk of a preemptive strike or a military response afterward.
DONALD RUMSFELD, SECRETARY OF DEFENSE: That's -- it's a decision for the country. It's a decision for presidents.
STARR: There is plenty of U.S. firepower in the region -- 28,000 troops in South Korea and some 20 warships based out of Japan. Half a dozen B-52 bombers are in Guam.
But what is the target?
U.S. intelligence shows North Korea is preparing several sites for a potential test. But one intelligence analyst told CNN it's a game of nuclear three card Monte -- trying to force the CIA to guess which hole in the ground is the right one.
The first signs of a nuclear detonation will come from more than 100 underground monitoring stations around the world. Spy planes such as this nuclear sniffer are already flying overhead and satellites are trained on the region 24-7.
(on camera): But will the intelligence community be able to quickly tell what North Korea has done after a missile test?
Intelligence analysts tell CNN that little useful information was ever collected after North Korea's July missile test.
Barbara Starr, CNN, the Pentagon.
NGUYEN: This week, a CNN focus on a forgotten part of the world.
CNN's Anderson Cooper traveled to the Congo to investigate conditions in the troubled heart of Africa. And Dr. Sanjay Gupta and Africa correspondent Jeff Koinange reported from Sudan, scene of the ongoing killing that President Bush calls genocide.
U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan has also condemned the situation in Sudan, calling it a "catastrophic situation."
Now, despite the presence of African Union peacekeepers, the U.N. has approved its own deployment of troops to the region. But the Sudanese government, on Thursday, called that a hostile act.
Since 2003, at least 200,000 people have died and more than two million others have fled to refugee camps in neighboring Chad. And the road to refugee camps, well, it is not a smooth one.
DR. SANJAY GUPTA, CNN CORRESPONDENT: I'm standing on top of a car and a car that has now been stuck in a riverbed. We have to cross over this, what used to be a road, to actually get to some of eastern Chad's most populated refugee camps.
NGUYEN: Next hour, Dr. Sanjay Gupta hosts a special weekend "HOUSE CALL" -- "AFRICA: CRIES FOR HELP," focusing on the challenges facing refugees and aid workers there. You don't want to miss that.
But, you know, the most pressing problem facing them is securing their safety. Currently, there are about 7,000 African Union peacekeepers in Darfur, Sudan, charged with bringing law and order to an area the size of California.
CNN's Jeff Koinange got a firsthand look at the many challenges these troops face.
JEFF KOINANGE, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): These are the men trying to stand in the way of genocide. We tagged along with this battalion of the African Union peacekeeping force in Darfur to see what chance they have of succeeding.
Their assignment on this day is to travel 50 miles to the town of Taweela, the scene of a recent attack that forced nearly 15,000 villagers to flee their homes.
It was a journey these peacekeepers could not complete. Along the way, the patrol takes a routine stop for information. Just as they are moving out, their commander's radio crackles with a message from headquarters.
(on camera): Halfway on the road to Taweela, we've just been informed that there's some rebel activity not far from where we are and that we have to turn around immediately and head back toward Al- Fashir.
(voice-over): Four weeks ago, this battalion lost nearly a dozen men in a gun-battle with anti-government rebels who stole their vehicles and weapons. They are not about to take chances on this day.
We returned to base and these men are tired, frustrated, their morale low. Their new force commander is only days into his new job. But this peacekeeping veteran of wars as far away as Kosovo, Liberia and Congo will be the first to tell you his mandate here is a mission impossible.
MAJ. GEN. LUKE APREZI, AIR FORCE COMMANDER: Simply put, the force has inadequate, gross inadequacy in men and material. We cannot carry out simple peacekeeping duties. We cannot put right the enabling environment for human (INAUDIBLE) agencies to do their work.
KOINANGE (on camera): If you had a wish list, if someone said here, General, what do you need to carry your mission, what would it be?
APREZI: I need about -- at least 12 the number of troops I have on the ground. And I need adequate logistics and air assets to be able to carry out the duties as -- for me to carry out the mandate given to me.
KOINANGE (voice-over): But the battalion is back on patrol. Despite their lack of resources and manpower, heading to this makeshift city of plastic tents, population 43,000 internally displaced people, a polite term for refugees in their own country.
People like 47-year-old farmer Abubakar Ahmed Abdallah, who recently fled fighting in his village 50 miles away with his wife and 12 children. Now trying to make a living selling fruit, with protection from these African Union peacekeepers.
"I am alive because of these peacekeepers," he says. "God bless them."
But these peacekeepers didn't reach Taweela and they don't achieve peace here. There just aren't enough of them and they don't have enough firepower to protect even themselves from the warring factions here. So, these are the men trying to stand in the way of genocide. They don't stand a chance.
Jeff Koinange, CNN, on the road with African Union peacekeepers in North Darfur.
NGUYEN: Tonight, Anderson Cooper hosts a CNN Special Report from Africa -- "THE KILLING FIELDS: AFRICA'S MISERY, THE WORLD'S SHAME."
That airs at 8:00 Eastern only on CNN.
HOLMES: We're going to Go Global now for other international stories.
NGUYEN: Yes, we are.
Our Brenda Bernard joins us with a new Muslim controversy.
What's this one about -- Brenda?
BRENDA BERNARD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Betty, the uproar this time 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 in 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.
Turning to Bolivia and a truce after two days of fighting. Rival mining groups hurled dynamite, sticks and stones at each other. They were fighting one of the world's largest tin mines in an impoverished town in the Andes. At least 16 people were killed and more than 60 injured in the fighting. Bolivian president, Evo Morales, fired his mining minister and the head of the state mining company over the incident.
And meet Robo Waiter One. He's a new staff member at a Hong Kong restaurant. His job is to greet customers and take orders. Its owner says the city's first Robo Waiter has increased business by as much as 30 percent.
Right now, the cyber staffer can't cook, but that's coming, Betty. Restaurant owners say they plan to bring a Robo Chef on board in the near future.
NGUYEN: No way. A Robo Chef?
BERNARD: Oh, yes.
NGUYEN: I'm kind of afraid of that. I mean I just want the Robo Waiter to get my order right.
HOLMES: That's all.
NGUYEN: Yes, that's all...
BERNARD: That's what he's doing now. The kids love him.
NGUYEN: You just don't want a malfunction in that category.
Can you imagine a malfunction if you've got a Robo Chef back there?
HOLMES: Come on, give the chef a chance. They haven't even put the chef in the kitchen.
NGUYEN: Oh, he doesn't have any feeling. He's just a robot.
HOLMES: Oh, goodness.
All right, thank you.
NGUYEN: All right, Brenda.
Well, Election 2006 is just weeks away. It seems everyone is talking about one thing. You know what it is -- Mark Foley.
What impact could his e-mail scandal have on upcoming elections?
Well, we're going to talk to political analyst Mark Plotkin in about five minutes about just that.
NGUYEN: Now in the news, an Iowa company voluntarily recalls 5,000 pounds of ground beef in seven states. The USDA says the meat may be contaminated with the E. coli strain in spinach that killed three people. Now, there are no reported illnesses linked to the recalled beef.
The latest victim of the E. coli outbreak in spinach is an elderly Nebraska woman who died in August. State health officials released test results confirming this link. Now, the E. coli strain is also blamed in the deaths of a Wisconsin woman and a 2-year-old Idaho boy.
The world watches for signs this weekend of North Korea's threatened nuclear test. The U.N. Security Council is warning North Korea -- don't do it, or else. But, there's no mention of any specific consequences. North Korea's neighbors, well, they are applauding the U.N. statement.
HOLMES: A suicide truck bomber hit an Iraqi Army checkpoint this morning, killing at least 10 people. It happened in the city of Talafar. Also, the bodies of 17 apparent torture victims have been found. Fifteen were scattered around Baghdad. Two were in the city of Baquba.
Of course, we run-down the top stories every 15 minutes here on CNN SATURDAY MORNING, with in-depth coverage all morning long. Your next check of the headlines is coming up at the top of the hour.
Election 2006 -- the crucial mid-term vote is just over a month away and the Foley scandal seems to be just what everybody wants to talk about these days. And according to the new "Time" magazine poll, just 16 percent of Americans approve of Republicans' handling of the Foley scandal, while two thirds believe Republican leaders tried to cover it up.
Mark Plotkin is a long time political analyst for WTOP Radio in Washington.
He joins us now live this morning.
Good morning, sir. Thank you for being here.
MARK PLOTKIN, POLITICAL ANALYST: Good morning.
HOLMES: Let's see here, gas prices are down, the stock market is setting records, retailers say they had some good sales. This should be a time where Republicans are doing cartwheels right now, celebrating and getting ready for this mid-term election.
So is the Foley scandal going to just completely negate any good feeling people might be having about Republicans these days?
PLOTKIN: Well, it definitely has a impact. Democrats want to pick up 15 seats. That way they can control the House. Right now, it's really down to 13 because Tom DeLay's seat is supposed to go Democratic and obviously Mark Foley's name is on the ballot in Palm Beach, Florida. So his -- he will not pick up -- Republicans will not maintain that seat.
And I think anybody involved in any way, even in a peripheral way, will be probably affected. And the parallel that is now being used is 1974, the Watergate class, where Democrats literally picked up -- they were in control, but they actually picked up 50 seats. I don't think it's going to be to that magnitude.
But somebody who is definitely in trouble is somebody like the number four person in the leadership, Tom Reynolds, who's running in western New York, the head of the House Campaign Committee, who said he went to Dennis Hastert and said -- the Speaker -- and said do something about it.
So I think if you're in any way involved, even in a peripheral way, or you're a member of the leadership, you might be in trouble.
HOLMES: Now, you're talking about the House there. You said just 13 seats really we're talking about.
Are you willing to say, pretty much, the House is a done deal, it's going to go back into Democratic hands?
PLOTKIN: Well, I think Republicans even feel that it's going to be very close and it's just a question of how many seats the Democrats would pick up. I think they're very worried. I think what has not probably, T.J. gotten enough attention, is the Senate. The Senate can cause a lot more damage than the House can. It confirms appointments, it affects the federal judiciary, it's a higher profile body, it can conduct investigations. And there the Democrats need six seats. And with the exception of New Jersey, in every contested, really, race, where Republican incumbents are there, Democrats are gaining or leading.
HOLMES: Now, the Senate definitely more so in play strictly because of the Foley scandal.
Would you say that? PLOTKIN: Well, just because I think that Iraq has a major impact and Democratic challengers are doing well. And when you run-for the House, people don't vote against their congressmen. There's about a 96 percent they have the frank, which means that they can communicate with them by mail. And they don't dislike their congressmen.
A senator is a more distant figure and, in a way, the Senate reflects more the national mood.
HOLMES: All right, let's just say, and real quickly here -- we're pretty much out of time -- but Democrats take over.
PLOTKIN: Oh, there's big trouble for George Bush because his entire agenda is really stalled. There are new committee chairmen who set the tone. And his administration can be investigated and scrutinized. And you get a whole new players and I think there will be a much closer examination and much -- an offensive, really, on Iraq, to pull out much sooner than George Bush wants to.
HOLMES: All right, well, Mark Plotkin, appreciate you getting up early this morning...
PLOTKIN: Thank you.
HOLMES: ... and sharing some of your insights and expertise.
Thank you so much.
PLOTKIN: Thank you.
HOLMES: And remember, stay up to date with the CNN Political Ticker. The daily news service on CNN.com gives you an inside view of the day's political stories. See for yourself at CNN.com/ticker.
And please, don't move.
NGUYEN: Yes, don't go anywhere.
HOLMES: The Water Cooler. That's coming up next.
NGUYEN: You can't miss it.
Coming up, a once in a lifetime auction that was 40 years in the making. Set your debit cards to stun. Yes. Wait until you see the prices here. They are out of this world.
NGUYEN: Now, T.J. you are going to learn awfully quick...
NGUYEN: ... that that sound can only mean one thing.
HOLMES: Is there...
NGUYEN: It is Water Cooler time.
HOLMES: Is that what that was?
HOLMES: Well, it's time for some strange stories that people are talking about, including, you Star Trek fans out there.
NGUYEN: I can't even do that.
Can you do that, Star Trek thing?
HOLMES: Where's the thing?
Yes, there it is.
NGUYEN: Yes. He can do it.
HOLMES: Today is your final chance to own a piece of pop culture history. A three day auction at Christie's in New York coincides with the show's 40th anniversary.
NGUYEN: Yes. And one of the 1,000 costumes and props are on the block. But you'll need serious cash to boldly go where no one has gone before. A model of the USS Enterprise sold for -- get this -- $120,000.
Finally this morning, a man in Florida, well, he has a complaint.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
LAWRENCE ROACH, EX-HUSBAND: This is just not right. It's -- it's humiliating to me, degrading and really, you know, I'm a man and I don't want to be paying alimony to a man.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
NGUYEN: Hmmm? What?
HOLMES: Yes, I'm a man. I'm a man, Betty. You see the...
NGUYEN: Well, so is his ex-wife, apparently.
HOLMES: Yes. He recently found out that, yes, his ex-wife had a sex change. He thinks it's unfair to keep paying $1,200 a month in alimony to a man.
NGUYEN: Well, but get this, though. Divorce lawyers say he's probably going to lose that case in court.
By the way, the couple was married 17 years before divorcing last year.
There you go, Water Cooler for you, folks. We're going to get back to our top stories, though, in just a moment.
HOLMES: Including the latest on that chemical fire in North Carolina and the phased in return of more than 1,000 people who had to flee their homes.
NGUYEN: Also, hard to believe it was five years ago today war began in Afghanistan. But today the fight against the Taliban, well, it is far from over.
HOLMES: We'll have a progress report ahead in our next hour.
You're watching CNN, the most trusted name in news.
HOLMES: "Now in the News," we just got word minutes ago that Apex, North Carolina, residents evacuated because of that chemical fire can return home today. We'll have a live report in just minutes.
NGUYEN: In Iraq's northern city of Tal Afar, a suicide truck bomber hit an Iraqi army checkpoint this morning, killing at least 10 people. They are among more than a dozen people killed in scattered violence around Iraq today.
Well, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice had breakfast this morning with British Prime Minister Tony Blair at his country residence. She says they discussed her just-finished trip to the Middle East. We'll have more on that.
HOLMES: A new deal in an old bribery case. This one involves former Republican congressman Randy "Duke" Cunningham of California. His estranged wife has struck a deal with the IRS. She will pay more than $1.5 million in back taxes and penalties for her part in a bribery scandal that landed her husband in prison.
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're going to head over to Reynolds Wolf now, who has a quick check of our weather.
Hey there, Reynolds.
REYNOLDS WOLF, CNN METEOROLOGIST: Hey.
HOLMES: All right. Thank you so much, Reynolds. And we of course run down the top stories every 15 minutes here on CNN SATURDAY MORNING, with in-depth coverage all morning long. Your next check of the headlines is coming up at 8:15 Eastern Time.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DR. SANJAY GUPTA, CNN SR. MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: I'm standing on top of a car, on a car that has been stuck in a riverbed. We have to cross over what used to be a road to actually get to some of eastern Chad's most populated refugee camps.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
NGUYEN: Just look at this. Holding off a humanitarian crisis. Coming up at the bottom of the hour, a rare look at just how hard it is to save the victims of a genocide.
HOLMES: From the CNN Center, this is CNN SATURDAY MORNING. It is October 7th, 8:00 a.m. here at CNN headquarters in Atlanta, 7:00 a.m. in the Mississippi Valley.
NGUYEN: Mississippi Valley.
Why is that, T.J.?
HOLMES: They threw that in just -- just for the new guy, my home valley.
Good morning, everybody. I'm T.J. Holmes.
NGUYEN: He is my new partner here on the weekends.
And we are welcoming you.
HOLMES: Thank you.
NGUYEN: Glad to have you on board. We're going to have a great time.
And good morning, everybody. I'm Betty Nguyen, as you all know.
Got a lot to tell you about this morning.
First up, going back home. North Carolina residents evacuated from their homes because of a chemical fire that began yesterday. Now, the fire broke out on -- actually began on Thursday, began Thursday night, at a hazardous waste plant in Apex near Raleigh. It quickly turned into a raging inferno, sending a noxious yellow haze into the air. You can see the video here.
Thousands were urged to evacuate. And last hour, we got this word from the mayor...
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MAYOR KEITH WEATHERLY, APEX, NORTH CAROLINA: Overnight, the hazmat firefighters did extinguish the fire, and that was -- has -- we've always said one of the first prerequisites for allowing reentry of our citizens. That has been confirmed by our fire chief, and we are ready to start now a reentry of our citizens into the areas previously evacuated. (END VIDEO CLIP)
NGUYEN: Investigators still don't know what caused the blaze.
Joining us now to talk more about these development, though, is Renee Chou of our affiliate station WRAL in Raleigh, North Carolina.
Let me ask you, first of all, we talk about these residents being allowed back into their homes. There are thousands of them, correct?
RENEE CHOU, REPORTER, WRAL: Yes. Actually, there were -- there were about 16,000 residents living in the area that was supposed to be evacuated, and Apex officials confirmed that there were about 4,000 that did, in fact, leave their homes to stay at friends' homes, relatives' or in shelters.
So, for the most part, 90 percent of those residents will be allowed back in now that the fire is out. And what they're doing this morning is they will do it in a phased-in process.
They have broken down that evacuation area into these five color- coded sections. And what they will do starting at 8:00 is phase one and phase two. They will allow those residents to go back in.
These are the subdivisions that are farthest away from the site of the plant. And then phase three and phase four. Phase four was the downtown area, which they also had to evacuate. And then the last section, phase five, that is -- that diamond is where the site of the plant is on Investment Boulevard.
The area immediately surrounding it will still be closed off to the public. Businesses will not be allowed in, residents will be -- not be allowed in. Only investigators, because they still have a lot of testing to still do on that site, and they don't feel comfortable just yet allowing people back there. But for all those other areas surrounding the site that are farther away, they have done air quality tests and they feel that it is safe for residents to go back home.
NGUYEN: That's good news, because there was a lot of concern yesterday about exactly what was burning. We had learned that there were a number of chemicals on site there. Talk to us about exactly what was in those flames. And did it cause any problems for those who may have inhaled some of that smoke?
CHOU: Well, as far as problems for people who may have inhaled it, only about a dozen firefighters and police officers who initially responded to the scene -- and they were directing traffic, they were closest to the plant -- they did inhale those fumes and they had some coughing and wheezing and they were taken to the hospital. But they were treated and released, and we're told they are fine. Other than that, no one else has reported any major problems of illness from breathing in those fumes.
Now, as far as what chemicals are stored at the plant, this is a facility that basically takes hazardous waste from other companies, stores it, repackages it, and then sends it to another company for treatment or for safe disposal or for recycling. And so, there were a lot of different kinds of chemicals stored at that plant. And they still have yet to determine exactly what was burning at that plant.
NGUYEN: Yes. We've learned that includes oil, some latex-based paints, some household cleaners, detergents, those types of things.
Renee Chou, from our affiliate WRAL.
We thank you for that information.
HOLMES: A former page linked in the e-mail scandal of former Florida congressman Mark Foley is expected to talk with federal investigators next week. Foley resigned after he -- his alleged e- mails and instant messages to several former male pages were made public. An Oklahoma attorney for one former page declined to give details about this client's contact with the former congressman.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
STEPHEN JONES, ATTORNEY FOR FORMER PAGE: This is an official investigation being conducted by the Department of Justice, presumably by the House Ethics Committee, and, frankly, there's a velocity of media coverage. And he wanted somebody that could guide him through it or help guide him through it, explain to him what his obligations were, and be with him. And he called me, and I'm happy to help him.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HOLMES: In the wake of the Foley e-mail scandal, many Democrats and several Republicans are calling for House Speaker Dennis Hastert's resignation. They contend the Republican leadership didn't do enough after learning of Foley's behavior. With midterm elections just around the corner, Republicans are also worried about the scandal's political impact.
CNN's Keith Oppenheim reports.
KEITH OPPENHEIM, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Some experts believe it's particularly bad timing for Republicans that the Mark Foley scandal is getting attention in October, just when voters are making decisions.
DON ROSE, POLITICAL CONSULTANT: With Hastert still in there, an investigation still going on, it becomes a very significant item for November. It's only -- it's only five weeks now.
OPPENHEIM: Chicago political consultant Don Rose believes, in tight congressional races, the danger for the GOP is, they could lose some of their core constituency, social conservatives.
ROSE: I think a lot of conservative Republicans, people who are conservatives first, particularly religious conservatives, are going to be chilled by this. They are not going to come out in the kind of droves that they came out once. The other side is that Democrats are being energized by this. And, in an off year, if fewer Republicans vote, and more Democrats come out, it could really have a tidal effect.
OPPENHEIM: One tight race in suburban Chicago is the Illinois 6th District, where Congressman Henry Hyde is stepping down. Republican State Senator Peter Roskam faces Democrat and war veteran Tammy Duckworth. To be sure, some don't believe the Foley scandal will have any impact.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I don't think they are paying as much attention as the media is.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This issue with Foley got nothing to do with the race here
OPPENHEIM: But others who said they often vote Republican acknowledged, the scandal has taken them aback.
(on camera): Are you telling me that you are basically turned off by your own party, by the Republicans?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes. I don't like the way it's being handled.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I guess the Republican Party has always been the -- the virtuous party. And it's kind of a hazard now to make that self-proclamation.
OPPENHEIM (on camera): One voter I spoke with said that he believes other voters will be much more influenced by other issues, like the war in Iraq, than by the Foley scandal. It's a fair point. But still, the question, in close races, will social conservatives be so turned off that they will turn away at the polls at the risk of losing some Republican control in Congress?
Keith Oppenheim, CNN, Batavia, Illinois.
NGUYEN: Well, as we head into the crucial midterm elections, you want to stay up to date with the CNN "Political Ticker". The daily news service on CNN.com gives you an inside view to today's political stories. So all you have to do is go to CNN.com/ticker for that information.
The executive assistant to White House political adviser Karl Rove has resigned. Susan Ralston had previously worked for Washington lobbyist Jack Abramoff. A White House spokeswoman says Ralston stepped down because of concerns her ties to Abramoff would be a distraction.
Documents show Abramoff gained dozens of contacts with the Bush administration through Ralston. Abramoff pleaded guilty to corruption charges in a Capitol Hill influence peddling probe. Now, in her letter to President Bush, Ralston wrote that working at the White House had been a privilege but the time had come for her to pursue other opportunities.
We're going to have a full check of the nation's weather forecast. That is still ahead.
HOLMES: Also, five years ago this week the U.S. launched the war in Afghanistan, a reaction to the 9/11 attacks. Is that nation any more secure since the Taliban regime's fall? A status report is next.
And at the bottom of the hour...
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GUPTA (voice over): You're looking at a secret compound in a remote village, a safe refuge for these girls who can now sing of power and peace.
GUPTA: Not long ago they were outcasts.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
NGUYEN: How a camp is healing the wounds of war. That's coming up.
HOLMES: "Now in the News," residents who evacuated when a fire broke out at a hazardous materials plant in Apex, North Carolina, are beginning to return home. Most of them got the go ahead about an hour ago. It's a phased-in return.
A suicide truck bomber hit an Iraqi army checkpoint this morning in the northern city of Tal Afar. At least 10 people were killed. Also, the U.S. military says a soldier with the 82nd Airborne was killed Friday, north of Baghdad.
A former congressional page will cooperate in the Congressman Mark Foley investigation. A lawyer for the now 21-year-old man says he will talk with federal agents next week. Foley resigned last week after his e-mails and instant messages to former male pages were made public.
Of course we run down the top stories every 15 minutes right here on CNN SATURDAY MORNING, with in-depth coverage all morning long. Your next check of the headlines coming up at 8:30 Eastern.
NGUYEN: Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld is speaking out about the war in Afghanistan this morning. In today's "Washington Post," five years after the fall of the Taliban, Rumsfeld says, "Building a new nation is never a straight, steady climb upward. Today can sometimes look worse than yesterday, or even two months ago. What matters is the over all trajectory. Where do things stand today when compared to what they five years ago? In Afghanistan, the trajectory is a hopeful and promising one."
Well, five years after their fall, there are signs the Taliban are making a comeback.
CNN Pentagon Correspondent Barbara Starr looks at what the experts say Afghanistan needs in the long run.
BARBARA STARR, CNN PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT (voice over): With violence growing, commanders are warning more emphatically than ever before that winning in Afghanistan can't be done by the military alone. Reconstruction is just as important. More than anything, Afghanistan needs roads and jobs.
This as NATO takes over fighting the Taliban which has, in recent months, become as aggressive as it's ever been since the U.S. overthrew it five years ago. In the southern and eastern sectors, where fighting is heaviest, British, Canadian and 12,000 U.S. forces will now operate under a NATO flag. Attacks are on the rise in part because fighters in Pakistan are more freely crossing into Afghanistan.
LAWRENCE KORB, COUNCIL ON FOREIGN RELATIONS: There's no doubt about the fact that this agreement between Pakistan and basically the people on its border has allowed the Taliban and al Qaeda sanctuary.
STARR: And now NATO's top commander warns that 20,000 NATO forces and another 20,000 U.S. troops won't defeat the Taliban.
GEN. JAMES JONES, SUPREME ALLIED COMMANDER, NATO: Afghanistan will not be resolved by military means.
STARR: Military commanders have long said reconstruction is vital, but questions are emerging about whether even that part of the strategy can change the dynamics on the ground.
SEN. BILL FRIST (R-TN), MAJORITY LEADER: The Taliban is on the rise, and we do need to capture the heart and the minds of the Afghan people. A lot of them are just farmers by day, but when the Taliban stick arms in their hands, they say, well, I guess I'm Taliban.
STARR: Frist and others are calling for more effort to bring Taliban elements into the fold of the Afghan government in hopes of stemming the fighting. But commanders say there is one overwhelming problem: the money from the opium crop.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It allows the opposition to build the IEDs that kill and wound innocent civilians and wound and kill soldiers of the alliance.
STARR (on camera): Military commanders know they must come to some accommodation with the Taliban, but they are still convinced that building roads and schools will be the ultimate weapon for success inside Afghanistan.
Barbara Starr, CNN, the Pentagon.
NGUYEN: And you'll want to stay right here with CNN throughout the morning. In our 10:00 Eastern hour, senators Dick Durbin and Jack Reed join us live from Baghdad to talk about the U.S. war effort in Afghanistan and Iraq.
So, will they or won't they? Coming up in the next hour on CNN SATURDAY MORNING, details on North Korea's latest threat to conduct its first nuclear test.
HOLMES: But up first, here's Dr. Sanjay Gupta with a preview of today's "House Call".
GUPTA: Good morning. And thanks.
This very special edition of "House Call" coming up this morning from the Democratic Republic of Congo.
T.J., many people know about the problems of Darfur, but most people have no idea about the crisis engulfing surrounding countries. This morning I'll take you inside the camps of Chad and the Congo. You're going to see doctors fighting to control an outbreak and refugees struggling to forget the terror that brought them here in the first place.
That's all coming up on a very special edition of "House Call" at 8:30.
CAROL COSTELLO, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice over): What happens when you serve up a backhand or a volley in a heart-pounding aerobics class? You are experiencing cardiovascular tennis, a class designed for beginners, as well as advanced tennis players.
HEATHER SILVIA, CARDIO TENNIS PRO: It allows you to socialize with your friends. It's designed to get you out of the gym and outside, having a blast. It's designed to keep your heart rate up.
COSTELLO: Cardio tennis combines drills and exercises, such as running through ladders, jumping jacks, lunges and squats. Grace Dunne says she's addicted to it.
GRACE DUNN, CARDIO TENNIS PLAYER: It's better than being inside, working in a gym. You know, running in the neighborhood. It's just a lot more fun.
COSTELLO: Some serious tennis players say it can improve your tennis game.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Instead of hitting 50 or 60 balls in a half hour, you'll hit 120. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Everybody is moving all the time. There is no stopping in cardio tennis.
COSTELLO: And the best part? Women can burn up to 300 to 600 calories in an hour-long class, and men can burn upwards of 800 calories.
Carol Costello, CNN, New York.
NGUYEN: All right, Reynolds, I'm going to do all the talking here...
HOLMES: Oh, wow.
NGUYEN: ... because it's big game day. There's a little rivalry going on. I've got to keep you two apart.
HOLMES: Well, actually, Arkansas-Texas is a bigger problem, probably, than...
NGUYEN: That's no problem. Don't even work about that.
WOLF: It's all good. It's all good.
We're just glad to have you here.
NGUYEN: Yes, we are glad to have you, T.J.
WOLF: It's great to have you here, T.J.
HOLMES: Thank you. And I'm learning now that weather is really just a sports center kind of thing.
NGUYEN: Kind of, sort of.
WOLF: It is.
HOLMES: It's just a sports thing.
WOLF: As Betty will tell you, we talk about a myriad of topics while we're doing the weather.
NGUYEN: Yes, we do.
WOLF: It's not just, you know, clouds and son.
NGUYEN: No, it's more than just science.
WOLF: Absolutely. Absolutely.
WOLF: That's a look at your forecast. Let's send it back to the news desk.
NGUYEN: Yes, that is great football weather.
WOLF: Good times. And nice and dry.
NGUYEN: Can't wait to see that score. Hopefully it fares very well for my Longhorns, but we'll see.
WOLF: Hook 'em.
NGUYEN: Hook 'em, Warrens (ph).
All right. Thanks, Reynolds.
Well, you're going to get so sick of that. Let me just tell you.
HOLMES: I am now.
NGUYEN: All right. Let's talk about the truth about fat.
Reynolds, you were just talking about cellulite, right, and your problem with it?
No. No, you weren't.
He doesn't have any cellulite, folks.
But from fat to liposuction, and then to just really sweating it off, what you truly need to do. Jerry Anderson separates fact from fiction in the next hour of CNN SATURDAY MORNING.
HOLMES: And, of course, up next, new details about that massive industrial fire in North Carolina. We have been updating you on this all morning. We will continue. A check of that, and a check of morning's top stories is three minutes away.
NGUYEN: And in five minutes, the cry for help from Africa. Dr. Sanjay Gupta brings you a special report on the efforts to help refugees.
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