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CNN NEWSROOM

President Bush Visits Illinois; Federal Aviation Administration Proposes Raising Mandatory Pilot Retirement Age

Aired January 30, 2007 - 15:00   ET

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


DON LEMON, CNN ANCHOR: Hello, everyone. I'm Don lemon, live at the CNN world headquarters in Atlanta.
KYRA PHILLIPS, CNN ANCHOR: And I'm Kyra Phillips.

A surge of interest -- House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and other top Democrats just back from Iraq. We're expecting to hear their take on the war and what they think should happen next.

LEMON: A deep freeze heads for the Deep South. We will check the forecast for you.

PHILLIPS: And the fat's in the fire. A supermodel says she's not supersized, just normal. What do you have to say about such weighty issues? We're reading your e-mails this hour from the CNN NEWSROOM.

T.J. Holmes, in the newsroom, what is happening at the top of the hour?

T.J. HOLMES, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, we're expecting at any moment here now, Kyra, a press conference about that gas station explosion in West Virginia, where we have confirmed at least four people have been killed, among them, a paramedic and also a firefighter.

There was a gas leak here that officials were responding to, emergency crews were responding to at this gas station, a gas leak of some kind. They believe it was from a propane tank. As, just as crews were arriving, the explosion happened and just leveled and wiped out this gas station, again, in Ghent, West Virginia.

This happened a little earlier this morning, but details just coming into us, and have been trickling in for the past couple of hours. And we heard from the sheriff, Danny Moore, a little earlier that possibly as many as seven are dead. They're going through that debris and that rubble, trying to find out exactly how many people were working, how many people may have been in the store, customers at the time at the gas pumps -- so, just a -- a tough task for them right now, trying to go through what has been really a gas station that's been obliterated.

But we are expecting here at the top of the hour, expecting it at any moment, really, a press conference from local officials there, trying to get the very latest information about what happened, and possibly what even sparked the explosion. But they do believe it was at least a gas leak, but don't know what -- what the trigger might have been that set off this explosion.

But we hope to -- to get that live picture and get that press conference up for you when we do get it -- Kyra.

PHILLIPS: All right, we will follow up with you and the investigation. Thanks, T.J.

T.J. HOLMES: All right.

LEMON: We're also awaiting another live event -- Nancy Pelosi and a delegation of six Democratic lawmakers just back from Afghanistan and also Iraq. They are going to share with us their findings and where they think this war in Iraq should go, and also what they make of what is happening in Afghanistan. That is expected to happen in a short while. As soon as it does, we will bring it to you live.

Heavy equipment today, high finance today, it's an economic blitz by President Bush kicking off at a Caterpillar plant in Illinois. And, tomorrow, Mr. Bush plans a major speech on Wall Street.

Our Kathleen Koch looks at how the president played in Peoria.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

KATHLEEN KOCH, CNN CORRESPONDENT: This is the second time that President Bush has used a Caterpillar factory as a backdrop to tout his policies.

President Bush sees the world's largest maker of construction equipment as a real success story, as an example of how U.S. companies can benefit and thrive when there is global free trade, when they have a level playing field. In 2006, Caterpillar, for example, posted record profits for the third year in a row.

President Bush had some fun here in Peoria today. He got on to a bulldozer, a D-10. He fired it up, gave it a test drive, called it a -- quote -- "cool experience."

And the president said that Caterpillar is not only proof that U.S. companies can compete in a global economy, but proof that his economic policies are working.

GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Our job in government is not to get in your way. Our job in government is to put pro-growth economic policies in place that mean companies like Caterpillar, which do the right things, can succeed.

And let me talk about some of what that means. First, it means keeping taxes low. Oh, there is a debate in Washington that says, we need more taxes.

We don't need more taxes. It's important for you to keep your own money.

KOCH: And President Bush got a good reception to his message here in this largely conservative district. It's been represented by a Republican since 1916.

But the company, Caterpillar, and the president don't always see eye to eye. It's one of 10 companies that, on the eve of the State of the Union address, called on President Bush to require mandatory reductions in climate-changing pollution.

Well, President Bush has rejected that. He, instead, opts for voluntary cutbacks in greenhouse gases, cutbacks that many of these same companies have already made. The president believes that's the best approach -- back to you.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

PHILLIPS: Risking their lives to honor a martyred man -- millions of Iraqi pilgrims take to the streets in city after city to commemorate Ashura, the holiest day of the Shiite calender.

CNN's Michael Holmes and his crew share their unique perspective.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

MICHAEL HOLMES, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Up close, at the religious ritual of Ashura in Baghdad's Kadhimiya district, men, young and old, beating their heads with swords and knives, sharing the pain of the grandson of the Prophet Mohammed, the imam Hussein, killed in a battle 1,4000 years go.

"For Hussein, for Hussein," the man yells at us.

To walk these streets is to feel the fervor of Shiites at the third most important shrine in Shia Islam. This was, for us, both a rare opportunity and a statement on security in Baghdad. It's been a long time since we have been able to walk freely like this on a Baghdad street, just five U.S. soldiers with us and, more importantly, a respected local sheik.

Usually video like this is shot by Iraqis, not Westerners. But this day, we walked within maybe 400 meters, less than 250 feet of the revered shrine, in an area controlled by Shiite militiamen. Children approach us. Adults look on. And the observance continued.

(on camera): There were some rockets and mortars fired earlier today, none of them landing here in Kadhimiya -- no injuries. And the celebrations here have been going off largely without a hitch amid very tight security.

(voice over): An hour or so later, however, a mortar did land in this area, wounding nine pilgrims. But security efforts were considered successful here -- multiple checkpoints keeping vehicles out, even children patted down before proceeding.

There was devotion, not tension, on these streets. -- huge vats of rice and meat cooked and handed out to hungry pilgrims who traveled from far and wide, mushrooming the local population from 100,000 to more than a million.

U.S. troops based here say walkabouts like this are the way forward where possible.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You have got to engage with the people. That's the only way you can find out what their issues are.

M. HOLMES (on camera): And, yet, a couple miles across the river, if you walk down the street like this?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You would use different techniques.

(LAUGHTER)

M. HOLMES (voice over): The respect afforded Sheikh Mohammed Baca (ph) certainly helped with our security this day. He's a man who speaks of moderation, favors dialogue with Sunnis, and says extremists on both sides are the problem. He also supports the U.S. presence.

"If the Americans weren't here," he says, "the Shia will win the war in four hours."

But, for this day, in a place where religion rules and so often sparks violence, there is, mercifully, little of the latter and more of the former.

Michael Holmes, CNN, Kadhimiya, Baghdad.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

PHILLIPS: Straight back from Iraq, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and the rest of the delegation that went winter -- with her -- she is briefing reporters.

Let's listen in.

(JOINED IN PROGRESS)

REP. NANCY PELOSI (D-CA), SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE: ... committee, Tom Lantos, the chairman of our Intelligence Committee, Silvestre Reyes, on the Appropriations Committee, two decision-makers who are very important to the mission, Congressman Jack Murtha, the subcommittee chair on defense, and Congresswoman Nita Lowey, the chairperson of the Subcommittee on Foreign Operations, which covers a great deal of reconstruction and investment in Iraq and Afghanistan.

As I said, the trip was intended as a thank-you to our troops and their families. The delegation, as I said, was high-level, distinguished, and on the trip respected for what they have done for our country and what they will do for our effort.

Our first visit to the troops was in Iraq. It's been nearly four years since we went to war in Iraq. And, four years later, there is still no end in sight.

We went to Iraq convinced, at least speaking for myself, that this war could not be won solely militarily. Our military has done their jobs excellently, but they cannot be expected to do it alone. We had hoped that we would have seen -- we went with the hope and expectation that what -- what we would see in Iraq was some coordinated effort to have political solutions to relieve the civil strife and violence there and diplomatic efforts to bring stability to the region.

We saw no evidence of either, sadly. The escalation instituted by President Bush has been tried before, and failed. Although we heard varying judgments about prospects for the success this time, everyone we spoke to said that this was the one last chance, and it might not work.

A better course than the escalation would be to quickly transition U.S. troops from a combat mission to a training mission, a mission committed to force protection, border security, fighting terrorism, and, again, training of the -- of Iraqis.

A comprehensive diplomatic initiative focused on Iraq's neighbors and dealing with security, reconstruction, and economic development must be made an urgent priority. Change the mission, engage in diplomatic initiatives, and, once again, have political initiatives, for example, amending the constitution to expand the political participation and civic participation of all in Iraq, in order to end the violence.

This simply was not in evidence, sadly.

We next visited our troops in Afghanistan. Sadly, the war in Afghanistan is far from over. Our troops have been on the front lines for more than five years, but, in some ways, Afghanistan has been a forgotten war.

We conveyed to our NATO partners that they must provide their fair share of additional troops which are necessary to defeat the Taliban. We conveyed to them that they must -- the nations of Europe and elsewhere must play a bigger role in the effort to enhance the authority of the central government, improve security, expand economic opportunity. That must be a priority.

We also conveyed that aggressive action needed to be -- is needed to address the escalating poppy cultivation that risks undermining efforts of the Afghan government and coalition forces to stabilize their country. We conveyed that message to President Karzai, as well as a strong commitment of the U.S. to help in every way in Afghanistan.

The indelible memories of the trip will be those of our troops, from Camp Victory in Iraq, to the base at Bagram in Afghanistan, to the hospital in -- to the hospital in Landstuhl, Germany. We were inspired by their dedication, their spirit, and their selflessness.

Our commitment is to ensuring that the policies they are given to implement match the exceptional quality of their service and their sacrifice.

I now want to yield to the distinguished gentleman from Ohio, Congressman Hobson, as I said, a leader on the Appropriations Committee on national security issues.

I had traveled to Kuwait shortly before the start of the war in Iraq in 2003 with Mr. Hobson. And I know the esteem in which he is held by our troops and the concern...

PHILLIPS: Well, not a very positive report card -- House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, just back from her trip to Iraq with six members of a delegation, meeting with the head of Iraq and also in Afghanistan, saying that, in Iraq, the military doing its job well, the U.S. military, but, sadly, diplomatic and political solutions to the strife there, she has seen no evidence of -- of any of the commitments on behalf of that government to -- to make a difference with regard to what the U.S. and Iraqi government have tried to come to terms with.

In addition, Afghanistan, she says, sadly, that war is far from over. Troops have been on the front lines there for more than five years. It is the forgotten war. The Taliban continues to grow.

If you want to watch the rest of her briefing there with reporters, you can go to CNN.com/Pipeline and watch the rest of that. Meanwhile, we will follow what she has to say, and continue to update you on that trip to Iraq.

LEMON: And, Kyra, we're also following another developing story right here in the CNN NEWSROOM.

(AUDIO GAP) news conference out of West Virginia on that gas station explosion. Four people are reportedly dead. Several others are injured -- new details as soon as we get them right here in the CNN NEWSROOM.

You're watching CNN, the most trusted name in news.

PHILLIPS: And attention, passengers -- new debate over the age of commercial pilots and when it's time to pack it in -- straight ahead from the CNN NEWSROOM.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

LEMON: Rain, snow, chilly temperatures.

Hey, Rob Marciano, it's winter, right?

ROB MARCIANO, CNN METEOROLOGIST: It is. That's right, Don.

(LAUGHTER)

MARCIANO: And we're -- we're in it, no doubt about it.

What we haven't seen this winter so far, across the East Coast, at least, is a big blowout winter storm that develops off of Delmarva, taps into the Gulf Stream moisture, coupled with cold air. And then we get, you know, 10, 20 inches of snow across the I-95 Corridor.

We haven't seen that, but what -- what we are seeing and what we will continue to see is wave upon wave of cold air that will continue to drop down from Canada.

Here's the leading edge of the last batch -- or the latest batch -- of cold air that is driving down to the south. It has a little bit of moisture with it across the Great Lakes. But, all in all, it's not going to dump a whole lot of snow, unless you live in the favored spots that will get that lake-effect enhancement.

The center of the low is right here, so it doesn't have a lot of moisture to deal with. It's just trying to tap it right now from those relatively warm waters of the Great Lakes.

Some snowfall totals for you the last 48 hours -- Fair Haven and Hannibal, New York, these are favored spots for lake-effect snow, 30 inches, two feet, in these two towns, including Red Creek. And Cooks, Michigan, this was a 12-hour snow total of 15 inches. So, that was coming down pretty good, for sure.

Oh, speaking of snow, quick I-Report for you, showed this about two hours ago. It is a phenomenal picture out of Alaska -- Girdwood, Alaska. Do we have it? Snow piled all the way up to the stop signs. Anyway, it's just -- there you go, just down the road from Alyeska ski resort, very close to sea level, actually. It's typically -- they get fairly wet snow, though -- there -- but it's been so cold, the snow has been pretty light, and, obviously, piling up.

Thanks very much, Chris Owens, for sending that in.

All right, one degree right now is the windchill in Chicago, minus 10 in Des Moines. Minus 10 is what it feels like in Sioux Falls. So, this is going to be the ongoing trend, as this cold air continues to pour down to the south -- 23 degrees the expected high temperature tomorrow in Chicago, 19 in Minneapolis, and 28 degrees expected in Kansas City.

You see some of that cold air getting over towards Denver as well, 21 degrees in Denver, Colorado.

Now, as that cold air continues to sink down to the south, and then we're going to get an area of low pressure, actually, two. These guys right here are going to stir up some trouble in the form of tapping moisture from the Gulf of Mexico. And it's pretty warm moisture. And we throw that on top of cold air that's going to be in place, and we get this wintry mix situation happening.

So, we have highlighted it in pink, really from Dallas up through Little Rock, western parts of Tennessee. Then it will kind of sneak down into northern Georgia and the western Carolinas. This is Thursday morning.

It's going to be a tricky forecast. But some -- there are going to be some spots, Don -- it's just a matter of where -- that get an icing situation happening with this cold air that's in place.

And it looks like we have got wave and wave of cold air...

(LAUGHTER) MARCIANO: ... coming into this, really, right on through next week -- so, definitely Mother Nature catching up with the calendar. And it is winter, for sure.

Stay warm.

(LAUGHTER)

LEMON: And, Rob, you know, I think Chris Owens, with that I- Report, that was a subliminal message there.

MARCIANO: What was that?

LEMON: Snow, stop.

(LAUGHTER)

LEMON: We have had...

MARCIANO: Yes.

(LAUGHTER)

LEMON: ... enough.

MARCIANO: Yes.

(LAUGHTER)

MARCIANO: Exactly.

LEMON: All right.

MARCIANO: They have had record snowfall up there in Girdwood.

LEMON: Yes.

MARCIANO: Girdwood -- so, definitely a good time to stay in. And they don't get a lot of light this time of year. So, obviously, he took that around noon.

LEMON: Yes.

All right. Thank you, Rob.

MARCIANO: See you.

PHILLIPS: He returned home from Iraq, but his struggle was just beginning.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MASTER SERGEANT DANIEL ROBLES, U.S. ARMY: I just remember thinking that I didn't want to die, and all I only wanted to do was see my family again.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

PHILLIPS: We will hear from two injured troops, actually, and their fights to survive. Anderson Cooper has it -- straight ahead from the NEWSROOM.

LEMON: Plus, check this one out: A woman goes to police to report a rape, but she's the one who winds up in jail. And that is not the end of it -- that story straight ahead right here in the CNN NEWSROOM.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

PHILLIPS: Well, it's too early to say if the housing slowdown has bottomed out. But we can say this: Home Depot is hiring.

Susan Lisovicz at the New York Stock Exchange with the details -- hey, Susan.

SUSAN LISOVICZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Hi, Kyra.

And Home Depot is obviously a big employer. It says it's looking to hire 15,000 new workers. Because of the nature of home -- of the home-improvement business, the additions will be made this spring. So, Home Depot says put your application in now.

The company is looking for cashiers, lot attendants, and sales associates. Most of those positions will be added in Atlanta, Los Angeles, Washington, and Chicago. The retailer has opening for skilled workers with a specialty in electricity, plumbing, or millwork. This expansion comes in the wake of some big job-cut announcements in a variety of industries, including pharmaceuticals and, of course, the auto sector -- Kyra.

PHILLIPS: Well, jobs cuts also in the baked-goods industry, right?

LISOVICZ: Say it ain't so...

(LAUGHTER)

LISOVICZ: ... Kyra.

Sara Lee is slashing 1,700 jobs, or 3 percent of its work force, and will close two plants in Mississippi -- the cuts part of a massive restructuring that was announced two years ago.

Sara Lee is working to focus on its lucrative business, such as its pastries, breads, breakfast foods. But Sara Lee also owns Hillshire Farm and Jimmy Dean. And the plants being closed down include a bacon and fresh pork operation and a spice production facility.

Overall, though, the job market this month has been strong. And that is giving -- apparently giving Americans a shot of confidence. The latest read from the Conference Board shows consumer confidence rose modestly in January, but investors, well, we're awaiting tomorrow's Fed decision on interest rates.

Taking a look at where we are ahead of that, the Dow Jones industrials right now up 26 points, or about a fifth-of-a-percent -- the Nasdaq up a quarter-of-a-percent.

And that is the latest from Wall Street. I will be back in 30 minutes for the closing bell.

You're watching CNN, the most trusted name in news.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

PHILLIPS: Thanks for staying with us. I'm Kyra Phillips, live at the CNN world headquarters in Atlanta.

LEMON: And I'm Don Lemon.

She went to police to report she had been raped. So, why did they lock her up instead? And why didn't she get a morning-after pill? Well, she has got a lawyer.

And you're in the CNN NEWSROOM.

LEMON: Well, it has been a cockpit controversy for ages: able- bodied, clear-eyed, quick-witted airline pilots forced to retire at the age of 60.

Now, the FAA has been considering whether to let older pilots keep their wings a while longer. Today, we get a decision.

Joining us from Washington with details, Brianna Keilar.

Hi, Brianna.

BRIANNA KEILAR, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Hi there, Don.

That age 60 rule has been the rule since 1959, but, today, a proposal from the FAA to up that mandatory retirement age for commercial airline pilots to 65. Now, there is a condition here. If one of the pilots in a cockpit is between 60 and 65, the other pilot would have to be younger than 60.

Historically, people who have opposed increasing this mandatory retirement age have said they're concerned that, as pilots get older, they could make mistakes, and that those mistakes could potentially be disastrous. But the FAA says new data refutes those concerns. And today, when the FAA head Marion Blakey announced this new proposal, she cited safety as her reasoning for this change.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MARION BLAKEY, FAA ADMINISTRATOR: The fact of the matter is that there's a heck of a lot of experience behind those captain's stripes, and we shouldn't have to lose it as early as we do these days. I want our older pilots to be around to help younger pilots rising up through the ranks. A pilot can learn a lot by seeing how the experienced vet handles a situation they may have only seen in simulation.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KEILAR: Critics of this rule change, some of them pilots' unions, say this isn't just about safety, it's also about the bottom line. And that is really the case on both sides of the debate. Younger pilots, pilots who may have been laid off, have traditionally supported this cap at age 60 because that creates more opportunities for them as the older pilots are aged out.

But now there's really a more vocal group. And this is those veteran pilots who, as some of these larger airlines have declared bankruptcy, have pretty much seen their pensions evaporate. So this would give them five more years of paychecks.

There is a sign that some critics could be changing their tune. ALPA, which is the Airline Pilots' Association -- it's the largest union for pilots in the entire world -- has historically opposed this increase in the mandatory retirement age. Officially, that's still their line. But union members did elect a president very recently. He took office this month who personally supports this increase in age. So, perhaps a sign there that they're willing to follow the FAA's lead on this -- Don.

LEMON: Yes, and it's been kind of a thorny issue for them for years.

Brianna, tell us how long will this take before it's adopted?

KEILAR: It seems like this rule will take quite a while before it's adopted. Today, Marion Blakey, head of the FAA, said she estimates it could be 18 months to two years or maybe even longer than that. It's really sort of a long process that this would go through.

LEMON: All right. We shall see.

Brianna Keilar, thank you.

PHILLIPS: T.J. Holmes has been following all of the details with regard to that explosion out of West Virginia. They just held a news conference, T.J.?

T.J. HOLMES, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, at the top of the hour they just had this press conference. Again, this was in Ghent, West Virginia, where this explosion happened at a gas station. At least four people dead, several more were injured. We do know that a paramedic and a firefighter were among those dead. But the press conference is still going on now, but started at the top of the hour. We're trying to get more details about this explosion, what may have caused it. Let's listen in now to part of that press conference.

STERLING LEWIS, WEST VIRGINIA STATE FIRE MARSHALL: It looked like that somebody -- not inferring that they did, but simply put something inside that building and it blew 360 degrees. And that's what... HOLMES: As you're hearing there, just kind of describing the scene there and seeing the total demolition, really. That was a gas station there. The Flat Top, a little general store, this morning. A report there of a gas leak. As authorities got there to check out that gas leak, the explosion happened. They believe it was a propane tank that completely just wiped the place out.

Again, at least four dead, one paramedic and a firefighter who were just arriving to the scene among the dead. Also, we do know of four injuries, at least two of those are described as critical, another two serious injuries. But trying to find out exactly what may have caused this explosion.

Also, the sheriff told us a little earlier that there's so much debris and rubble, the place just completely flattened, that they were checking under that, trying to go through a lot of that debris and rubble, didn't know if they would find other victims.

But he did say that possible the death toll could go as high as seven. So, a sad situation today out of West Virginia. But a lot of -- a lot more of the investigating to be done. And, again, possibly, the death toll could rise.

And expect a lot more details about exactly what happened there -- Kyra.

PHILLIPS: All right. T.J., thanks a lot.

Time to get real in Iraq. President Bush's nominee to lead all U.S. forces in the Middle East says, and we quote, "More realistic goals for Iraq may be in order."

Navy Admiral William Fallon was on Capitol Hill today for his confirmation hearing to head up the U.S. Central Command. He said Iraq can still be turned around but time is short. He also talked about Iran.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ADMIRAL WILLIAM FALLON, U.S. NAVY: They have not been helpful in Iraq. And it seems to me that in the region, as they grow their military capabilities, we're going to have to pay close attention to what they do and what they may bring to the table.

The U.S. has been, as you well know, playing a significant role in this part of the world for many decades. And I believe it's in our interest to remain engaged in this region.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

PHILLIPS: If confirmed by the Senate, and he almost certainly will be, Fallon will take over from Army General John Abizaid, who's set to retire.

LEMON: Now, to a hero's story. Like so many soldiers and Marines wounded in Iraq, Daniel Robles survived injuries that might have been fatal in past wars. Combat medicine has improved to the point that more than 90 percent of the wounded now survive. They survive, though, to fight the toughest battles of their lives.

And we ought to say right here some of what you will see in this piece is tough to watch.

Here's CNN's Anderson Cooper.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

ANDERSON COOPER, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): For Master Sergeant Daniel Robles, life has become a series of befores and afters; before and after the attack, before and after he was again able to walk on his own.

MASTER SGT. DANIEL ROBLES, U.S. ARMY: I was able for stand up. And it just, like, you know, showed me that, you know, this is -- that right now the sky's the limit, you know. You've just got to work at it.

COOPER: It's been nearly ten months since Sergeant Robles' Humvee was hid by a IED, a roadside bomb in Baghdad. Shrapnel ripped through the vehicle, shredding and badly burning both his legs.

ROBLES: I kind of looked down at my leg and seen that it was inside-out pretty much. And I kind of realized what had happened. I just remember thinking that I didn't want to die. And all I wanted to do is see my family again.

COOPER: Doctors were forced to amputate both his legs below the knee. His future at first seemed only dark. And yet Master Sergeant Robles says his family kept him going. He also says the staff here at the Brooke Army Medical Center would not let him quit.

ROBLES: I remember being in the hospital some days, you know, and just hitting rock bottom, you know, thinking that all I was going to be able to do is lay in bed and look at the clock on the wall. And, you know, the people here, the therapists and everybody, they didn't let me sit here and do that.

LT. COL. JENNIFER MENETREZ, U.S. ARMY PHYSICIAN: We don't dwell necessarily on what's gone, what's not there anymore. It's what we can do, what they can still do. And we have to maximize that by whatever means.

COOPER (on camera): The doctors here at the Brooke Army Medical Center have cared for more than 2,400 service members from Iraq and Afghanistan. Most have either severe burns or multiple amputations. Many of these service members wouldn't have survived their injuries even ten years ago. But thanks to advances with battlefield medicine, they're able to make it home alive, but with live-altering injuries.

(voice-over): As a survivor, Sergeant Nathan Reed considers himself lucky. He was searching a car at a Baghdad checkpoint when a bomb exploded, ripping through his right leg. It was amputated above the knee. SGT. NATHAN REED, U.S. ARMY: It really hurt me in the sense because I felt like my family and my soldiers needed me to be at a hundred percent, so hearing the fact that I had to have my leg amputated kind of took a lot out of me.

COOPER: But with physical therapists here and a new prosthetic leg, Sergeant Reed now walks, bikes, even runs. His family stayed at one of the Fisher Houses on base during his recovery. And, like many wounded soldiers, he's decided to stay in the Army.

REED: For me, it just made me stronger and made me want to complete my goal even more.

COOPER: As for Sergeant Robles, he also wants to stay on active duty, possibly becoming an instructor at the new rehabilitation facility on base, the Center for the Intrepid.

On Sunday he was honored with a Bronze Star and a Purple Heart. He also got his wish.

GEN. RICHARD CODY, VICE CHIEF OF STAFF, U.S. ARMY: Master Sergeant Daniel Robles, who's lost his leg in combat, has asked to stay in the Army. You have my commitment as vice chief of staff for the Army that we'll keep you in the Army as long as you want to stay, all right?

(APPLAUSE)

COOPER: For all that's happened, Robles says he's not bitter, he's simply thankful to be alive.

ROBLES: Considering the alternative, at least I'm here. I get to see my family grow. It's nobody's fault, just something that happened. It's war.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Go fast, daddy!

ROBLES: Yes.

COOPER: A war that has left more than 23,000 service members wounded, men and women who will need this country's care for years to come.

Anderson Cooper, CNN, San Antonio, Texas.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

LEMON: Well, to get a fresh perspective on the day's top stories from Anderson Cooper, join "A.C. 360" weeknights at 10:00 Eastern right here on CNN.

PHILLIPS: Listen to this. A woman goes to the police to report a rape. But she's the one who winds up in jail and that's not the end of it. We'll have her story straight ahead from the NEWSROOM.

LEMON: We've been hearing a lot about this. Microsoft's new Windows Vista is finally in stores, but is it worth the hype? Hear what Bill Gates has to say straight ahead right here in the NEWSROOM.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

PHILLIPS: A legal setback for Jose Padilla. Federal appeals court in Atlanta today reinstated a charge of conspiracy to murder, kidnap and maim overseas. It's the only charge the longtime terror suspect had faced that carries the possibility of life in prison. A federal judge dismissed it last year and the government appealed. Padilla has been in custody for five years, originally dubbed an enemy combatant and accused of plotting to detonate a dirty bomb. He wasn't charged though. Instead in late 2005, he was charged with taking part in a cell that provided cash and recruits for jihadist causes.

LEMON: Nine-years-old and grounded and boy, do we mean grounded, big time. You may remember Semaj Booker. Semaj Booker, a runaway who police in Tacoma, Washington, say stole a car, then talked his way onto two planes headed for Texas. Well next month, a court hearing will decide whether he'll be charged with car theft. Until then, he can leave his house only to go to school.

Elderly driver, deadly crash. Grief counsels are at an elementary school in Illinois where yesterday a car plowed through a cafeteria wall. An eight-year-old boy was killed, two other children slightly hurt. The 84-year-old woman driving the car was hospitalized. Police plan to question her today. So far, no indication what may have led to that crash.

PHILLIPS: A lawyer calls it an outrage. A young Florida woman telling police in Tampa she had been raped and then finding herself under arrest. Reporter Josh Rojas of Bay News 9 has the details.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

JOSH ROJAS, BAY NEWS 9 REPORTER (voice-over): The rape victim did not want to talk as she left jail. Police say on Saturday afternoon, the 21-year-old college student was raped as she was leaving the Gasparilla Parade near downtown Tampa. The victim called police for help and they took her to a clinic where she was prescribed the morning after pill. She took one of those pills, and was then arrested after officers found out she had an outstanding warrant for failure to appear that related to a grand theft charge she got when she was 17-years-old.

Then while in jail, her mom says she was victimized again when a nurse supervisor would not let her take the second morning after pill the next day.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The supervisor said that the morning after pill was against her, the supervisor's religion and refused to dispense it.

VIC MOORE, ALLEGED VICTIM'S ATTORNEY: Without your participation here, she would not be getting out, I convinced of that and I want to thank each and every one of you.

ROJAS: Tampa police say they now regret arresting the rape victim. The attorney says the pre-med college student thought she had taken care of that old grand theft charge and was surprised it was still outstanding.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

PHILLIPS: Thanks to Josh Rojas of Bay News 9. Tampa police say that the city's attorney is rewriting the policy on jailing sex crime victims.

LEMON: Microsoft's new Windows Vista is finally in stores. But is it worth all the hype? Hear what Bill Gates has to say straight ahead.

PHILLIPS: And your answers to this question. What do you think of America's obsession with weight? Are we crazy to be preoccupied with a few pounds? You're watching CNN, the most trusted name in news.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

LEMON: It is a most expensive consumer software ever created. Vista, the new Windows operating system from Microsoft, it's 50 million lines of code, took five years and $6 billion to write. Upgrading the Windows you may use now will cost you anywhere from $100 to $260. Here's the big question. Is it worth it? Well CNN's Miles O'Brien put that question to Microsoft founder and chairman Bill Gates today on "AMERICAN MORNING."

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

MILES O'BRIEN, CNN ANCHOR: Windows Vista, first big operating system in five years -- what sets it apart from Windows XP?

BILL GATES, CHAIRMAN, MICROSOFT: Well, people are using Windows PCs actually more than they watch TV now, and they're doing a wide range of things -- photos, movies, communicating. And so in order to allow the hardware breakthroughs to show through and let people build new kinds of applications, a big release of Windows was needed.

O'BRIEN: Six billion dollars I read -- is that really the amount that was spent on this?

GATES: That's right. Most used piece of software ever, and everything we get right in here makes a difference to literally hundreds and hundreds of millions of people.

O'BRIEN: One of the things I like about this is I'm one of these people that always has a lot of windows open, and it's really easy to see what you've got running. As you can see, as you toggle over here, it gives you -- what do you call these boxes that pop up here?

GATES: Well, that's a preview, so you can recognize exactly what's there.

O'BRIEN: And there's a 3-D version of this, too. GATES: Right. So there you're flipping through. You can see the whole window. And then you kind of look down and see about six at once. And then whichever one you want to select, boom, that comes up full screen.

O'BRIEN: Frankly, a lot of what I see here seems to mimic a little OS X. Were you going after a specific look there, the Mac look, or...

GATES: No, no, no. Actually, we're ahead on a lot. There's whole areas where we've inundated, like, Media Center and Tablet that no one else is doing. And the parental control, that's the first time that's been done.

Even in this photo area, you know, we would love you to compare how we've done -- make it easy to make a DVD, edit high-definition movies.

O'BRIEN: Let's talk about integrating video because as -- you started this off talking about how so much of what we're talking about here is -- I've heard the term, "the last ten feet in your living room", you know, getting all this media that's on your computer onto your television and how you're going to make that possible. Is this -- how is this designed to make it easier to play videos and make movies and all of the things that people want to do?

GATES: You can have your computer display directly to the TV and then use a remote control. We call that Media Center. And with one remote control, you can control the tuner, you can go to your photos, your music, your movies, you can record different shows. You finally get down to that single remote control.

O'BRIEN: The critics have said this. They've looked at it and they've said, "This is an evolutionary change in the operating system, and the thing to do is not rush out and buy it and upgrade your current machine, but wait and buy a new system."

What do you say to that?

GATES: Well, a lot of people will get Windows Vista when they get a new computer. Several hundred million PC's are sold every year. And virtually all of those this next year will have Vista as their standard operating system.

We've also made it easier to upgrade.

O'BRIEN: Should people run out and get it, though, right away?

GATES: We recommend that. You know, after all, if you're not going to buy another machine a few years, why should you not get the benefits of the productivity and the richness here?

O'BRIEN: Let's talk about the business in general. Final question here. This is still the biggest part of your business, but it's a declining portion of the business. Things are moving online. Is Microsoft moving in that direction? GATES: We've been moving in that direction. Ray Ozzie joining the company, was a big milestone there. That's his big focus. And we can make the PC even better as it connects up to those services. We already have Office Live and some Windows Live things will let you move files through the Internet or -- you know, a lot of expansion coming there. And it just makes the PC more valuable.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

LEMON: You can catch Miles O'Brien and Soledad O'Brien weekdays on "AMERICAN MORNING" starting at 6:00 a.m. Eastern.

Time now to check in with CNN's Wolf Blitzer.

PHILLIPS: He's already standing by in the "SITUATION ROOM" to tell us what's coming up at the top of the hour.

Hey, Wolf.

WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: Hi, guys.

Thanks very much.

President Bush is not the sole decider. That's the word from a fellow Republican who's taking him on over the war in Iraq. We'll speak live with Senator Arlen Specter.

Also, violence, sacrifice and worship. We're going to take you to the streets of Iraq on patrol with U.S. troops as Shiite Muslims perform an annual ritual.

Also, global warming and dire predictions. Some scientists say changes are happening even faster than expected.

And Fidel Castro missing in action. He disappeared from public eye almost six months ago. We're going to find out why there's been no big upheaval on the streets of Cuba.

All that coming up right here in the "SITUATION ROOM".

Back to you.

PHILLIPS: Wolf, I got a question for you.

BLITZER: Yes?

PHILLIPS: Do you think Tyra Banks is a beautiful woman?

BLITZER: Yes, gorgeous.

PHILLIPS: OK. Ever met her?

BLITZER: No, but I'd like to.

PHILLIPS: OK. You know what? I'll work on that for you.

BLITZER: OK.

PHILLIPS: She thinks you're hot, by the way.

BLITZER: Thank you.

PHILLIPS: Well, model and talk show host Tyra Banks says that she's had enough of tabloids making fun of her weight. Last night she told CNN's Larry King she was saddened by the way tabloids seem to enjoy ridiculing photos of her packing some extra pounds.

So we asked earlier what you thought about America's obsession with weight.

Here are some of your responses.

Jill in New York says that she supports Tyra Banks fight back. She writes: "I have a daughter who has a beautiful body but is built nothing like what the media requires from women in fashion and photo. She believes the misrepresentation of the body by the media and her life has changed because of it."

LEMON: Well, some of you are wondering why we were giving a slim story such hefty coverage.

James writes, "I believe the story about Tyra Banks is ridiculous. This is not news! If America really thinks this is an important issue why is the majority overweight? It is none of our business how much someone weighs and it's terrible to exploit such a lovely woman."

Chuck thinks just the opposite. He writes: "Considering that the leading cause or contributing factor to death and disease in America is obesity, I think Americans don't care anywhere near enough about weight."

And Marsha is cheering Tyra on. She says: "Tyra Banks has always been a bit heavier than the average model and still she won world acclaim for her talent and beauty. It's time someone stands up to these mindless tabloids that make young girls think being super thin is healthy. Go Tyra!"

We want to thank all of you for your -- for weighing in on this issue today.

The closing bell and a wrap of all of the action on Wall Street straight ahead.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(MARKET REPORT)

SUSAN LISOVICZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Now it's time for the "SITUATION ROOM" and Wolf Blitzer.

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