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U.S. Airways Computer Glitch Causes Delays For Thousands; Congress Investigates Walter Reed Army Medical Center; U.S. and North Korean Diplomats Set to Meet

Aired March 5, 2007 - 15:00   ET


BETTY NGUYEN, CNN ANCHOR: And the next hour of the CNN NEWSROOM starts right now.
DON LEMON, CNN ANCHOR: Hello. I'm Don Lemon, live at the CNN world headquarters in Atlanta.

NGUYEN: And I'm Betty Nguyen, in for Kyra Phillips.


ANNETTE MCLEOD, WIFE OF SPECIALIST WENDELL MCLEOD: All I'm trying to do is have my life, the life that I had and that I know. My life was ripped apart the day that my husband was injured. But, then, having to live through the mess that we lived through at Walter Reed has been worse than anything I have ever sacrificed in my life.


NGUYEN: It is supposed to be one of the premier military hospitals for wounded soldiers. But, today, family members tell a different story.

Just how bad did it get at Walter Reed? -- more dramatic testimony ahead.

LEMON: Stuck in the airport -- a faulty computer causes long delays for thousands of airways -- U.S. Airways passengers all across the country. How soon will they fix the problem?

NGUYEN: And a random crime or the work of the Kremlin on U.S. soil? A U.S. expert on Russian intelligence shot and wounded in his own driveway -- we have that investigation ahead.

You are live in the NEWSROOM.

LEMON: It's the top of the hour, and we start with this.

Are wounded U.S. veterans being neglected, instead of nursed, at the Army's premier hospital. A House panel has gone into the field today to find out. It's holding hearings at Walter Reed Army Medical Center, where wounded veterans say their treatment left them traumatized.

Let's get straight to senior Pentagon correspondent Jamie McIntyre for the latest -- Jamie. JAMIE MCINTYRE, CNN SENIOR PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT: Don, it's been a daylong grilling for top Army commanders and top Pentagon officials, as that House subcommittee has gone to Walter Reed to get a first-hand look at what the problems are, to hear those horror stories of un -- substandard living conditions and very frustrating bureaucracy first-hand.

Right now, we're in the third panel of the day. The vice chief of the Army, General Cody, seen here, taking questions, along with his -- with the top Army officer, General Peter Schoomaker -- more on that in a minute.

But, first, let's hear from some of those soldiers who described the conditions that they faced as outpatients at Walter Reed.


STAFF SERGEANT JOHN DANIEL SHANNON, U.S. ARMY: The system can't be trusted. And soldiers get less than they deserve from a system seemingly designed and run to cut the costs associated with fighting this war.

The truly sad thing is that surviving veterans from every war we have ever fought can tell the same basic story.


MCINTYRE: Now, of course, some of the testimony focused on the now notorious Building 18, the outpatient facility right across the street from Walter Reed Army Medical Center, where there was mold, peeling paint, mouse droppings and other substandard living conditions.

But, also, a lot of the testimony was about the very difficult bureaucracy that the soldiers had to navigate.

One of the telling moments in the hearing came when General George Weightman, Major General George Weightman, the just recently relieved commander, again took full responsibility for his failures, and actually turned around at one point and personally apologized to the soldiers and their families.

Still in the hot seat, though, is -- is Lieutenant General Kevin Kiley, the Army's surgeon general. He had to answer tough questions about why he didn't do more when he was commander back in 2004.

And the Army chief of staff, as I said, General Peter Schoomaker, whose younger brother now is in charge of Walter Reed, having just been placed in command, said this is the kind of thing that he takes personally.


GENERAL PETER SCHOOMAKER, U.S. ARMY CHIEF OF STAFF: I couldn't be madder, and I couldn't be more embarrassed and ashamed of -- of the kind of things that have turned up, because, clearly, it's not what my impression would have been, based upon the feedback that I have gotten as I have talked to soldiers and their families.


MCINTYRE: Now, one of the members of the panel asked General Schoomaker: General, how do we know that things are really going to change?

And the general's terse answer was: "Because we're going to change it" -- Don.

LEMON: All right, Jamie McIntyre, before you go, many of the veterans, though -- I was listening to some of the testimony and reading some of the reports -- many of the veterans say the problems being highlighted in these hearings are not unique to Walter Reed.

Are we talking about a systematic problem?

MCINTYRE: Apparently, yes.

And there's -- there's a big problem deal with the much-larger- than-expected numbers of wounded soldiers. Even in the best conditions, as you can imagine, bureaucracies are difficult to navigate. They can be -- can be very hard.

But, for these soldiers, particularly -- and, of course, part of the deal now is that they are looking at facilities across the nation. And you won't be surprised to find out that some of the same problems are turning up in other facilities as well.

LEMON: All right, Jamie, thank you so much for that report.

If you want to watch the full hearings live and commercial-free, just go online to CNN Pipeline, where it's being streamed for you. That's only at

NGUYEN: Tara Lynn Grant was reported missing by her husband on Valentine's Day. But her body parts started turning up three days ago in her own home and at a nearby park, of all places.

Well, now investigators in Michigan say her husband admits he killed her. Stephen Grant was captured yesterday, after a statewide manhunt. Officers found him shoeless, hiding under a tree in a snowy state park 250 miles from his home in Macomb County.

Now, he fled that home just before police found Mrs. Grant's torso hidden in the garage, and then other body parts scattered around a park.

The county medical examiner announced his findings just a little while ago.


DR. DANIEL SPITZ, MACOMB COUNTY MEDICAL EXAMINER: The cause of death, that has been determined. And the cause of death is determined to be manual strangulation. Tara Lynn's body does show signs of an altercation and a struggle that took place between her and her assailant.


NGUYEN: According to police, Grant says he killed his wife while their two children were also home.

LEMON: A car bomb at a book market -- at least 28 people are dead, dozens more wounded in Baghdad. It's the worst bombing in the Iraqi capital in three days. The blast set off raging fires.

NGUYEN: Well, on the offensive in Sadr City -- U.S. and Iraqi forces have launched their first major push into that vast slum and Shiite militia stronghold, under the new Baghdad security plan.

Our Jennifer Eccleston was embedded with U.S. troops there.


JENNIFER ECCLESTON, CNN CORRESPONDENT: I spent about eight hours on patrol with this joint Iraqi and American unit. And people were out shopping. Children were playing soccer. Young girls, groups of young girls, were walking around.

And I have been to Sadr City a half-a-dozen times in the last three years, and I have never seen it quite so calm, quite seemingly normal. And the residents we spoke to said that's because they felt secure, for the first time in a very long time.

Why, I asked?

Well, because our brother Iraqis are working for us.

And then I said, what about the Americans? They are a large part of the force here.

Well, they are helping the Iraqis. And, when that's done, they will have to leave.

So, a little bit of progress on the ground. It seems that things are moving in the right direction, in terms of securing that hostile neighborhood. But these are early days. It is only two days old, this operation in -- in Sadr City. And we expect it to last for weeks, if not months.


NGUYEN: Well, we do want to get you an update own two developing stories here in the U.S.

First of all, let's take you to California, where there's been a workplace shooting. We understood, earlier today, that a man was fired. And, because of that, he went to his job, where they make menus -- and it's a printing plant -- and then opened fire on workers.

Well, we have since learned that this employee was indeed not fired, but, instead, upset over a reduction in his hours. And the way that this is coming to authorities is because one of the workers, during the shooting, she locked herself inside one of the rooms there, and called 911 as all of this was going on.

Bottom line, though, that man died from a self-inflicted gunshot wound, but not before he was able to shoot three other employees. Those three employees have been listed in critical condition at this hour.

And we, of course, are following the story. And we are going to get you the latest just as soon as we know.

Now, another story out of Atlanta that we are following is dealing with a school evacuation. It's at the Blessed Trinity High School in Roswell, Georgia, which is near Atlanta. A total of 17 people have been transported to the hospital. DeKalb County hazardous materials response teams are on the scene.

But let me tell you how this started. The Roswell Fire Department responded to this high school after a student had a hard time breathing. Well, as they were treating that student -- and not only did that student have a hard time breathing, but skin irritation -- other students started having the same kind of symptoms.

Now, all of these students were in the same class, a science room. And there were no projects going on. In fact, they were taking a test. So, they are trying to determine exactly what caused this. But, again, 17 people have been transported to the hospital, after some problems at the Blessed Trinity High School today.

And, of course, we will stay on top of both of these stories and any other breaking news as it comes in to CNN.

LEMON: All right.

And let's get now to Wall Street. Wall Street's wild ride began last week, and continues today, with the closing bell set to ring in less an hour -- less than an hour.

Let's go to Susan Lisovicz -- she's at the New York Stock Exchange -- to see how the markets are doing.

Hey, Susan.


Well, there was this movie called "V Is For Vendetta." On Wall Street, the V. stands for volatility. That's what we're seeing as we head into the final hour of trading.

And that's basically what we have seen pretty much for the past week. Everyone was expecting a big drop this morning, after another sell-off overseas, but the major averages have been holding within a fairly normal trading range -- helping to trim losses today, a 2.5 percent decline in oil prices. They had been rising last week, even as stocks sank. Right now, the Dow industrials are back under water. They are down 25 points, or about a fifth-of-1-percent. The Nasdaq is down about 17 points, or about three-quarters-of-a-percent lower. A sales warning today from Advanced Micro Devices -- that's a chipmaker -- is hurting techs.

We still have three times as many stocks that are losing ground than that are gaining today. So, the underlying support has been shaky from the get-go. The big question, of course, is, when is the market going to stabilize? After some 30 record highs for the Dow since just last October, analysts say a shakeout could last for a few weeks.

So, fasten your seat belt, Don.



You know, we have been talking and hearing a lot about the trouble with the subprime mortgage sector. What's going on with that today?

LISOVICZ: Well, that's where you are really seeing a lot of action today, Don.

A lot of experts have been warning for a long time now that you were going to see fallout because of the big boom in the housing market that they -- some folks were even comparing to the dot-com boom. Well, some now are calling it a crisis.

The subprime companies are companies that offer mortgage to people with damaged credit histories, but at a higher-than-average interest rate. Today, shares of subprime lenders, like Accredited Home Lenders, Impac Mortgage, and NovaStar Financial, are off 20 percent or more.

But that's nothing compared to New Century Financial. That's the nation's largest independent subprime lender. Its shares right now are down 73 percent, one day. Some analysts are calling it a death spiral. The company says federal prosecutors and security regulators are examining accounting errors in stock trading. And some clearly feel that it may not survive.

Fremont General, the nation's number-two subprime lender, is losing more than 30 percent. Just today, it said it will sell its residential subprime lending business. All in all, lenders are struggling because of a growing amount of late payments. Companies are being forced to set aside more money to protect against potential losses. And many subprime lenders are even being forced to buy back loans at a loss.

And that's the latest from Wall Street. I will be back shortly for the closing bell.

And, remember, you can get updates 24/7 on the latest market action at the recently upgraded It's always good. And now it's even better -- Don and Betty, back to you.

LEMON: All right, Susan, thank you so much for that.

It was no laughing matter. Police say, what happened to these little boys is tragic, not to mention criminal -- video you have to see to believe straight ahead in the NEWSROOM.

NGUYEN: Set to sit down face to face, diplomats from North Korea and the U.S. -- what's at stake and what could result? That's ahead in the CNN NEWSROOM.

LEMON: And looking deeper into his past -- Al Sharpton is visiting the grave of a slave owner today -- details coming up in the NEWSROOM.


LEMON: It is 16 past the hour.

Here are some of the stories we're working on right here in the CNN NEWSROOM.

Wounded in war and neglected at home -- veterans tell Congress of shoddy conditions and care at an outpatient facility of Walter Reed Army Hospital.

Also in the NEWSROOM: U.S. and North Korean diplomats sitting at the same table on U.S. soil, the idea seemed absurd just weeks ago, but, today, the longtime rivals will take the first step towards normalizing ties.

In Enterprise, Alabama, they are cleaning up the damage and burying the dead. The first funerals are today for eight students killed when a tornado slammed into their school.

NGUYEN: Well, the U.S. and North Korea, bitter foes for generations, sanctions, suspicions, strong words, year in and year out -- well, today, there is talk of normalizing diplomatic relations, but can it happen? What needs to happen?

Jim Walsh, an expert on North Korea, has unique perspective. He just returned back from a pre-talk meeting with, among others, the North Korean foreign minister.

We appreciate your time.

But the first thing we want to know is, what did you learn from the foreign minister?


He's the highest ranking North Korean official who has been in the United States in over a decade. But it wasn't just him. There was former Secretary of State Albright, Henry Kissinger and a senior White House official from the National Security Council.

And what was important was not even what -- what the individual said. It's the direction. We are seeing a sea change in U.S.-Korean relations. You know, we have been focused on Iraq. We're -- we talk about bombing Iran or what's going to happen in Iran.

Below the surface, though, there's been this change in the U.S. and -- relationship with North Korea, and both sides are talking about momentum and moving forward with a negotiated settlement.

It's a -- it's a -- we're in a completely different space than we were six months, a year, even five years ago.

NGUYEN: Well, let me ask you this, though, because you have done extensive research. And the whole deal here is that North Korea is going to scrap its nuclear program in exchange for aid. Do you feel that they are really going to live up to their side of this bargain?

WALSH: Oh, I -- well, if you go by what Vice Foreign Minister Kim Kye Gwan said today, he said, yes. And he has already pointed to actions that the North Koreans have taken. They have invited the International Atomic Energy Agency in to begin the negotiations, discussions, to bring those inspectors back into North Korea.

He's talked very specifically about shutting down the uranium reprocessing plant in North Korea. And, of course, the other sides have obligations as well.

What the North Koreans and the American negotiators like to talk about is action for action -- that is, each side does something. And -- and, if -- if both sides don't live up to their obligations, then the process doesn't move forward.

But all the talk today seemed to point in the direction that both sides want this momentum to continue.

NGUYEN: You mentioned the IAEA.

And, in fact, the chief is headed over there next week to North Korea. Do you think that that trip is going to lead to some specifics on how they are going to monitor North Korea?

WALSH: Well, I think what's going to happen is, you're going to -- at -- at the end of this process, you're going to see IAEA, International Atomic Energy Agency, inspectors back in North Korea. That would be quite an accomplishment. They were kicked out years and years ago.

They are our best source of information about what's happening to that nuclear program. And, when they're on the ground in North Korea, that should give us confidence that we're moving in the right direction, that -- that there isn't any funny business going on. So, I expect that they will be back there soon.

But let's keep in mind, it's not just about economic aid, from where the North Koreans are coming. The North Koreans want to have better relationship with the U.S. They actually want normalized relations.

Now, that's not going to happen today or tomorrow or next year, but that's the golden ring that people are focused on.

NGUYEN: Well, you know, these talks are not only symbolic, but they're historic.

But there are two other issues that are being discussed today, important issues, one being trade sanctions against North Korea, the other, the designation of North Korea as a state sponsor of terrorism. Do you expect any movement on that?

WALSH: Well, you have put your finger on two of the most important issues, certainly two of the most important issues from the North Korean perspective.

They have, in the past, raised precisely these points: the financial sanctions, the sanctions against banks, and them being put on the terrorist list.

I am certain that Kim Kye Gwan, who is a skilled negotiator, a professional diplomat, and has quite a sense of humor, he's going to be talking about those very issues. They are going to be at the top of his list when he talks to American officials later today and all day tomorrow. And I expect that the -- the American side, for its part, will also act constructively.

We have a working group on these financial sanctions now. There is movement on them. So, I think both sides are actually giving up a little in order to make progress. And that's a positive thing.

NGUYEN: Well, we will be watching it very closely.

Jim Walsh, international security analyst, we appreciate your time.

WALSH: Thank you.

LEMON: On the off-ramp at the site of a deadly bus crash, investigators look at an interstate exit where dozens of accidents have happened before -- the latest ahead in the CNN NEWSROOM.


NGUYEN: This just in to CNN: According to our affiliates in Amarillo, Texas, KFDA, we are learning that, at Pantex, a -- a plant there, a suspicious package has been found.

Employees were moved into another building. And -- but here's what makes this kind of frightening, actually. Pantex is America's only nuclear weapons assembly and disassembly facility. It is 17 miles northeast of Amarillo. And it's centered on a 16,000-acre site.

Again, the Pantex plant, that is where there were reports of a suspicious package. And, after that, employees were, in fact, moved into another building. And the building is being investigated by crews on the ground -- this, all of it, coming to us from our Amarillo, Texas, affiliate, KFDA.

And, as soon as we get more information on this, of course we will bring it straight to you.

LEMON: Well, it is hard to watch, this next video. You're not going to believe it.

Camcorder video lands two Texas teens in jail, facing charges of injury to children. Now, here it is. Look closely. Police say these little boys are being taught to smoke marijuana.

Reporter Sandra Hernandez (ph) of CNN affiliate KDAF has all the details for us.


SANDRA HERNANDEZ, KDAF REPORTER (voice-over): This home video shows a 2- and a 4-year-old boy smoking pot in the living room of their great grandparents in Watauga, while their mother, Shattoria Russell, was asleep in her room with a toothache. This is the first time she talks on camera.

SHATTORIA RUSSELL, MOTHER: Yes, I was in the room because my tooth and stuff, it was hurting. I had took my Tylenol. And it -- when I take them, I sleep.

HERNANDEZ (on camera): You didn't know any of this?

SHATTORIA RUSSELL: I didn't know what was going on, because I was asleep.

HERNANDEZ: You didn't smell anything?


HERNANDEZ (voice-over): Shattoria says she first saw the video on TV, and couldn't believe her brother, 17-year-old Demetris McCoy, and his buddy, 18-year-old Vanswan Polty, would teach or force her children to smoke pot.

SHATTORIA RUSSELL: I was hurt. I -- I didn't believe that my brother had did that. It was wrong. He shouldn't have gave them the -- whatever he gave them.

HERNANDEZ (on camera): Are you angry?

SHATTORIA RUSSELL: Yes, I am. But I don't think he should do hard, hard time. I think, like, he should be on probation or something like that. I don't think he should be -- have to stay years and years away.

HERNANDEZ (voice-over): Shattoria says she's unaware of this ever happening before.

But Watauga Police Chief Bruce Ure says the tape clearly shows that this wasn't the first time the children smoked marijuana. BRUCE URE, WATAUGA, TEXAS, POLICE CHIEF: Holding it like he's done it before. He's inhaling. And it's -- this isn't the first time.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You (INAUDIBLE) You got the munchies.


HERNANDEZ: McCoy's great grandmother couldn't believe the video she first saw on TV.

SHIRLEY RUSSELL, GREAT-GRANDMOTHER: It was really shocking, you know, because I didn't know what to think. And I didn't know what was going through his mind to do that. To teach him a lesson -- that's what he needs, a lesson. I mean, he needs discipline.

SHATTORIA RUSSELL: That it wasn't my fault, and I think my kids should be here with me, instead of in CPS custody.

HERNANDEZ: The boy's great grandfather couldn't agree more.

CALVIN RUSSELL, GREAT-GRANDFATHER: I love them. I want them. I will do anything I can to provide for those kids.

SHATTORIA RUSSELL: I'm just hoping that they give them back. That's all I want them, is to come back.

HERNANDEZ: In Watauga, for CNN, Sandra Hernandez.


LEMON: And this just in: We have some developing news involving the vice president and his health.

Let's go to White House correspondent Suzanne Malveaux for the very latest for us -- Suzanne.

SUZANNE MALVEAUX, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Well, I -- I first want to start off by emphasizing that the White House, the vice president's office has told us that he is fine, that he's OK, that he's in the White House now, but that there was a situation earlier today.

I'm going to read verbatim the statement that was given from Megan McGinn, as well as from a phone call.

She says: "The vice president experienced mild calf discomfort today. In light of his recent prolonged air travel, he visited his doctor's office at the George Washington University Medical Faculty Associates this afternoon. An ultrasound revealed a deep -- I think it's pronounced venous thrombosis, or DVT, or blood clot, in his left lower leg. His doctors will treat him with blood-thinning medication for several months. The vice president has returned to the White House to resume his schedule."

As you know, the vice president has had a history of heart problems. He has a pacemaker. But we are told that the vice president, having experienced this, is stable, that he is fine, and he's back at the White House -- Don.

LEMON: Yes. And, you know, that deep vein thrombosis can be very serious, Suzanne. That's what David Bloom, the journalist, died of, when -- when it traveled to his heart.

So, we're glad that he's back at work, and we thank you for bring us that developing story. Thank you so much.

MALVEAUX: Thank you.

NGUYEN: Another developing story that we want to give you an update on is the -- an Atlanta school evacuation.

In fact, it's near Atlanta, in Roswell, Georgia, just not -- not too far outside of the city.

But we have on the phone Assistant Chief of the Roswell Fire Department Paul Piccirilli to give us more information on what exactly happened at that school.

Chief, tell me what you know.

PAUL PICCIRILLI, ROSWELL FIRE DEPARTMENT ASSISTANT CHIEF: Well, at about 11:30 this morning, we responded to the school on a complaint -- a student complaining of difficulty breathing and some skin irritation.

While our crews were evaluating her, other people came up and exhibited the same type of situation -- symptoms. Our crews on the scene, because they all came from the same room, decided to call in additional resources. And the school was evacuated, for precautionary measures.

Seventeen students, total, have been transported to the hospital with that type of complaint, mostly skin irritation.

NGUYEN: What was going on in the room? It was a science class, correct? Was there an experiment or anything like that happening?

PICCIRILLI: The information that I have is that the students were taking a test, and that there was no chemicals out, no chemistry experiments going on, or anything like that.

We have we contacted DeKalb County Fire Department to assist us in evaluating the scene. And, as of this point, they have come up with negative results.

NGUYEN: So, were the problems isolated to that room, and that room alone?

PICCIRILLI: It is our belief, and we acted upon that information that it was in that room and that room alone. That room is isolated. And as I said, the students were evacuated as a precaution and the students that were exhibiting symptoms were treated appropriately. NGUYEN: And do you expect the students will be out of school until you guys determine exactly what happened there?

PICCIRILLI: Well, the students were -- have since been dismissed, and the -- we will turn over the school to the school officials. More than likely what will happen is a company will come in and take control of the room and clean the room and make it safe.

NGUYEN: All right. Assistant chief of Roswell the fire department there, Paul Piccirilli. Thanks so much for your information today. We appreciate it.

LEMON: We want to update you on the condition of the vice president, Vice President Dick Cheney now. This is according to his spokesperson. His spokesperson says, "The vice president experienced mild calf discomfort today in light of his recent prolonged air travel he visited his doctor's office at the George Washington University Medical Facility Associates this afternoon. An ultrasound revealed a deep vein thrombosis or blood clot in his left lower leg. His doctors will treat him with blood-thinning medication for several months. The vice president has returned to the White House to resume his schedule." Most of us probably found out about this when journalist David Bloom, NBC journalist David Bloom died of a deep vein thrombosis that traveled from his leg into his heart. When you're in cramped places, the vice president has been traveling on airplanes like that, it can become very dangerous. So the vice president, deep vein thrombosis. Doctors found that but they're giving him blood thinners and they're saying he's fine and he is back at work. We'll continue to update you on this situation throughout the afternoon right here in the CNN NEWSROOM, we'll be right back.


LEMON: We want to update you on information we received about Vice President Dick Cheney just a short time ago. Doctors during an ultrasound revealed that a deep vein thrombosis or blood clot in his left lower leg. His doctors say they will treat him with blood- thinning medication for several months. And the vice president, we want to tell you has returned to the White House and has resumed his schedule. He had been traveling and he experienced a mild calf discomfort today, that's according to his spokesperson. In light of his recent prolonged air travel, he visited his doctor's office at George Washington University and there an ultrasound revealed that he had deep-vein thrombosis and they're treating him with blood thinning medication and he is expected to be ok. More in the NEWSROOM.

NGUYEN: In the wake of a tragedy, questions about the interstate exit ramp in Atlanta where a bus crashed early Friday morning killing six people. The National Transportation Safety Board counts 82 accidents at the left side HOV ramp on southbound interstate 75. Today state officials say they'll listen to the NTSB's recommendations for improvements. Now, last week's crash killed four Bluffton University baseball players along with driver Jerome Niemeyer and his wife Jean. Speculation that Niemeyer was confused by the exit was bolstered by an interview with one of the players. He reportedly heard Jean Niemeyer scream, it's not the highway as the bus sped up the ramp and then crashed off the overpass. Jerome Niemeyer had driven the team several times before. One player called him a spectacular driver.

Hobbled by injury and grief, many Bluffton players who made it out of that wrecked bus alive are also dealing with survivor's guilt. CNN's Nicole Lapin spoke with two players, brothers in fact, who are still trying to figure it all out.


A.J. RAMTHUN, BUS CRASH SURVIVOR: I asked questions "why not me?" I was closer to the window. I was in a more vulnerable spot. Why did it not happen to me? And yet, I'm thankful that it didn't.

NICOLE LAPIN, CNN INTERNET REPORTER (voice-over): A.J. Ramthun was sitting right next to Cody Holp on the bus, one of his best friends, one of the four players who died.

RAMTHUN: I'm very confused. I lost one of my best friends, I lost four of my best friends, four of my teammates. But yet, my brother and I survived. The rest of my teammates are as far as I know alive, we're all walking but it's horrible. I don't know how to feel.

LAPIN: His brother, Mike, still in the hospital. The bus literally landed on his leg. Not only that, he didn't even know if A.J. made it out.

MIKE RAMTHUN: I was so scared. He came around that corner and I saw him all beat up and I'm here. And he was walking. I was so happy and I just gave him a big hug. And I just said -- we're going to be all right.

LAPIN: One family, the Ramthuns, two kids on the same team. One in the hospital, one walked away with cuts and bruises. Both are going to be ok. And yet, it's a bittersweet celebration for the kids and for their parents.

GREG RAMTHUN, MIKE AND A.J.'S FATHER: I drove home thinking oh man, how bad is this and then you know, your mind wanders and -- are my kids ok, are they dead? I was scared to death. I cried all the way home.

MIKE RAMTHUN: I was laying there, it was dark, couldn't see a whole lot. The first thing I saw was, you know, where's A.J. and I need to get a hold of my family right away. And tell them that, you know, we were in a wreck because I figured it would be on TV. That bad of a wreck and just tell them I was ok.


NGUYEN: Mike Ramthun was expected to be released from the hospital some time today.

LEMON: Looking deeper into his past, Al Sharpton is visiting the grave of a slave owner today. Details coming up in the NEWSROOM. And he spoke out about the Russian spy poisoning case. Now an American who said the Kremlin was involved is in the hospital. Was he the victim of a random crime or something more? A closer look coming up in the CNN NEWSROOM.


LEMON: Updating you now on the vice president's health condition. We learned just a short time ago that the vice president went to the doctor and an ultrasound revealed a deep vein thrombosis or blood clot in his left lower leg. Now his doctors say he -- they will treat him with blood-thinning medication for several months. We want to tell you the vice president has returned to the White House to resume his schedule. They were a bit concerned about this because he had been traveling. He had experienced mild calf discomfort today. So they took him -- he went to the doctor and there it was discovered he had a deep vein thrombosis. He is being treated and is back at work today.

Al Sharpton calls it probably the most shocking thing in his life. But he can't walk away from his family's newly uncovered link to the late Senator Strom Thurmond. Sharpton is in Edgewood, South Carolina where he visited the grave of a Thurmond relative who held one of Sharpton's ancestors as a slave. Sharpton says all African- Americans should look into their family histories no matter what they might reveal.


REV. AL SHARPTON, CIVIL RIGHTS ACTIVIST: Before one can heal, one must bear the entire truth. The fact is I can't probably go and find my great grandfather's burial site because even though he died free, he died poor. And there are not a lot of grave sites for slaves or ex-slaves. So I come here to the grave site of a person who is largely responsible for my last name.


LEMON: Well genealogists say Sharpton's great-grandfather was a slave owned by Julia Thurmond, her grandfather was Strom Thurmond's great, great grandfather.

NGUYEN: Packing up and moving out, like it or not. Hurricane Katrina survivors being relocated again in Hammond, Louisiana. Fifty eight families were given until the end of the day to evacuate a FEMA trailer park. The reason, FEMA says it's unlivable citing sewage leaks and power outages, but residents are crying foul.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Forty eight hours is not enough for us to move.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I've been here since October 16th and I have put in several, several complaints.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Anything that's ever happened at the park I've taken care of immediately.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's just unhealthy. It's not safe and we won't put people in that kind of situation.


NGUYEN: Most of the families have been moved to other FEMA locations nearby. A Catholic outreach program is helping the others. And FEMA hopes to tear down the site this week.

Well, two people are dead in the crash of their small plane into a house in Bedford, Indiana. Take a look at this. No injuries are reported on the ground and apparently the impact didn't even spark a fire. Witnesses say the plane looked like it was trying to land, then veered away and dropped from sight.

LEMON: Vice President Dick Cheney having some health problems today. Let's get you to the White House and White House correspondent Suzanne Malveaux for an update. Suzanne, what do you know?

SUZANNE MALVEAUX, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Thank you Don, just getting my mic on here. Of course, want to give you an update on the condition of the vice president. We are told that he is fine that he's in the White House. But a spokeswoman telling us just 10 minutes ago about a medical situation that happened earlier today. I will just read her quote saying, "The vice president experienced mild calf discomfort today in light of his recent prolonged air travel. He visited the doctor's office at George Washington University Medical Faculty Associates this afternoon. It was revealed that he had a blood clot in his left lower leg. That is a DVT." Now his doctors are going to be treating him with blood-thinning medication we're told for several months and that the vice president has returned to the White House and, Don, as you know, of course, a situation that they're watching very carefully. Very closely. You know the vice president has had four heart attacks before. His first heart attack at age 37. He has had quadruple bypass surgery. He has a pacemaker. So all of these things contributing to his health condition. They say he is fine but that he will be treated with this blood-thinning medication in the next couple of months. Don?

LEMON: All right, Suzanne Malveaux, keep us updated. We're going to check back with you. We have a little bit of time left in our show here but we may check back with you. Thank you very much.

Of course we've also been following the hearings about Walter Reed Hospital and we asked you on, do you think the federal government is doing a good job when it comes to treating our vets? And a number of you have voted. And it appears that 84 percent say no and 16 percent say yes. So an overwhelming amount of folks say no the federal government is not doing a good job when it comes to treating our wounded soldiers.

More on today's testimony about those conditions at Walter Reed straight ahead right here in CNN NEWSROOM.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK) NGUYEN: We have new information on a suspicious package found at a nuclear weapons assembly and disassembly facility in Amarillo, Texas, where it appears that the Amarillo Police Department has removed that package from the building using a robot. And after the package was removed, a vendor actually identified and claimed the package. So it doesn't appear to be anything threatening. But where that package was, is a building that is actually where the plants weapons operations areas are, so of course, this was a huge concern at the time. But again it appears that the package has been identified, claimed and all is well in Amarillo, Texas.

LEMON: We have been following some emotional sometimes heartbreaking testimony today. American veterans recounting horror stories not of war, but of their treatment at home. House lawmakers opened hearings into reports of deplorable conditions at an outpatient facility at Walter Reed, the army's premier medical center. The Washington hospital's former chief is also testifying. He lost his job over the scandal along with the army secretary. Is Walter Reed the only military hospital with problems? Well, not by a long shot. Here's a CNN fact check.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: A nightmare scene from the Vietnam War. A marine's spine shattered in a firefight, paralyzed for life, lying in a bed in a filthy VA hospital room. Ron Kovic wrote about his ordeal in his best seller "Born on the Fourth of July" which was made into an Oscar-winning movie. With every war, and in every peace, there are complaints about poor or inadequate treatment. The Walter Reed Army Hospital scandal is just the latest. "The Washington Post" says it's been flooded with accounts of mistreatment of patients or dirty conditions at some of the more than 200 VA and military hospitals across the country. In addition to the "Post's" scoop, the McClatchy newspapers report the VA system is ill equipped to treat troops suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder triggered by combat in the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. Since 2001, 1.5 million Americans have served in Iraq, Afghanistan and other locations in the global fight against terrorism. McClatchy says that the return of vets from those war zones is straining the VA's ability to provide ongoing treatment to veterans of Vietnam, Korea and World War II. A big part of the problem could be the huge numbers facing the VA. The VA says that in 2005, more than 5 million people received care at its facilities.


NGUYEN: We're getting some really insightful e-mails from viewers about the situation at Walter Reed. This one coming to us from Tracy Wilson out of Miami. She says that, "I lived in the D.C. area for 6 1/2 years and had the misfortune of landing a job at Walter Reed in February 2002. I saw how the soldiers lived on a daily basis. Some were there for months on end if they had their families staying there with them. They also had to deal with squalid conditions. I used to see rats running around and some parts of the hospital looked as if there had been no improvements. As a former service member who fought for my country, I am appalled at how my brothers and sisters in arms are being treated."

LEMON: And Glen Caselle, he's from Salem, Oregon. He's worried about the conditions and how it's being repaired. He says, "Being a licensed general contractor with special training in lead, asbestos and mold abatement, I have to say that the repairmen I've watched on the news really worry me and should worry everyone else who is upset about the scandal. Mold can be extremely hazardous and sometimes deadly to young children, seniors and especially people with low immune systems like recovering soldiers from battle."

NGUYEN: And Sharon from Peoria, Illinois writes, "Your report on Walter Reed Hospital's lack of facilities and services is finally bringing the attention to the American people of just how the government treats our veterans when they return from war. But you need to look into the VA hospitals in more areas than just Walter Reed. Many of our hospitals have less than adequate facilities, personnel are rude and the doctors are rejects from outside practices." So just some of the e-mails coming into CNN dealing with the situation at Walter Reed. At least responding to the situation at Walter Reed.

LEMON: Yeah, this is a very big story today. Also the vice president. Why don't we check in with CNN's Wolf Blitzer.

WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: Thanks guys very much. We're going to have a lot more on the vice president's condition.

Also, it's no way to treat American troops who have bravely shed blood for our country. That's what some military officials are saying over those truly deplorable conditions at the army's top medical center. One witness today telling members of Congress the army medical system, quote, can't be trusted. We're going to have a lot more on this coming up. I'll speak live with the secretary of veteran's affairs, Jim Nicholson.

Also, it's one day after they sought votes in the south. Democratic Senators Hillary Rodham Clinton and Barack Obama, we'll take a closer look at their trip to Selma, Alabama to honor the civil rights movement and to seek support from African-Americans.

Also President Bush preparing for a major visit to Latin America. Today he talked about that region's poverty, education and health care. But is he also concerned about Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez and his control of Venezuelan oil? Jack Cafferty is back. All of that coming up right at the top of the hour. Don and Betty?

LEMON: All right Wolf, thank you.

NGUYEN: Looking forward to it. Well the closing bell and a wrap of the action on Wall Street that is straight ahead.


NGUYEN: That closing bell is about to ring on Wall Street.

LEMON: Susan Lisovicz standing by with a final look at the trading day Susan. Not as crazy as last week.

SUSAN LISOVICZ: Not as crazy as last week and I thought I'd give you some comic relief in the final seconds of trading here. You know you can take the iPod to the beach, you can take the iPod in your car. And now there is a new iPod accessory where you can take the iPod into the bathroom.

NGUYEN: You're kidding me?

LISOVICZ: I am not kidding you.


LISOVICZ: It comes with moisture-free speakers but is powered by batteries. It fits your standard toilet tissue dispenser, available for $80 on The advertisement associated with it says that the bathroom is one of the most important and widely used rooms in the house. So there you go.

NGUYEN: Hopefully you're not there that long to sit through a few songs.

LISOVICZ: If you like the long shower or anything else, you can have some company there. Now, having said that, having said --

LEMON: I can't believe that.

NGUYEN: I have to wipe the slate clean now to get some serious. You know we've had another rocky ride here. Nothing like what we saw overseas in Asia or Europe but we have a sell-off. You know the Dow, the NASDAQ, the S&P were all trying to rally, could not hold it and it looks like they're going to close, close to the lows of the session. For the Dow Industrials they had been up 75 points at their high, down 75 points at their low. Get used to it, folks, that's what they say at least for a few more days. It could be considerably longer than that. There's the closing bell. Betty, Don, see you tomorrow.

LEMON: Bye Susan.

NGUYEN: All right, see you Susan.

LISOVICZ: Now it's time for "THE SITUATION ROOM" and Wolf Blitzer.


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