Skip to main content


Return to Transcripts main page


Gonzales Debate; Space Shuttle Atlantis Docks With International Space Station; Sports Cream Death; Tirana, Albania, has Admiration for President Bush; Deluge Down Under; Abraham Lincoln Archive Discovery

Aired June 10, 2007 - 17:00   ET


VERONICA DE LA CRUZ, CNN ANCHOR: Hello to you. I'm Veronica De La Cruz, in today for Fredricka Whitfield. And you are in the CNN NEWSROOM.
First his hour, the dark clouds swirling around Alberto Gonzales. Having survived several storms already, the embattled attorney general will face a rare challenge tomorrow when the U.S. Senate debates his fitness for office. A vote's that expected cannot remove Gonzales from office, but the battle won't lack for drama.

With a story from Washington, CNN's Gary Nurenberg.


Some Democrats have been itching for a Gonzales fight for months. Tomorrow they get it. And today they were rehearsing.


NURENBERG (voice over): Attorney General Alberto Gonzales has come under fire from Congressional Democrats for his handling of the U.S. attorney firings and for their belief he has politicized the Justice Department. New York Senator Charles Schumer is leading the campaign against him and pulls no punches.

SEN. CHARLES SCHUMER (D), NEW YORK: About the only person in the United States of America who thinks Alberto Gonzales should stay as attorney general is George Bush. If anyone else were president, whether it's Ronald Reagan, George Bush the first, Bill Clinton, Jimmy Carter, even Richard Nixon, Alberto Gonzales would not be attorney general, because everyone knows he is incapable of leading the department. He has misled the American public, and he puts politics ahead of the rule of law.

NURENBERG: The president has repeatedly said he has confidence in Gonzales, and Sunday, his spokesman called the anti-Gonzales campaign political.

TONY SNOW, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: Well, what they're trying to do is the sort of a political moment. It also comes at a time were we've got an immigration bill that is very close to passage. And frankly, that time might be better spent going ahead and moving forward on immigration. But look, if they want to have a symbolic vote, that's fine, but the president still supports Alberto Gonzales, and Alberto Gonzales will remain the attorney general of the United States.


NURENBERG: So, Snow is saying that the vote won't make any difference, but Democrats want the issue. They'll get it just an hour before primetime newscasts tomorrow night -- Veronica.

DE LA CRUZ: All right. And Gary, in the meantime, what was one of the big topics today on all the political talk shows? I believe it was immigration, is that right?

NURENBERG: Yes. You know, a couple of days ago it seemed like the immigration bill was completely dead, but the administration sent spokespeople out today to saying that's not the case.

On "LATE EDITION WITH WOLF BLITZER" here in Washington, the secretary of Commerce said it is not dead, it is very much alive, and indicated the administration will push harder over the next couple of days to revive it. President Bush goes to the Hill on Tuesday to lobby republican senators, and the Commerce secretary said the president will make that effort.

And again, the administration pushing hard for one of the few chances the Bush administration has remaining to claim some kind of victory in this session of Congress.

DE LA CRUZ: And what else is on the president's agenda this week?

NURENBERG: It's going to be a busy time. The immigration bill not on the Senate floor, but the Senate is going to take a look at funding the troops in Afghanistan and Iraq. Also, a big energy before the Congress this week.

At the end of the week, a fascinating moment when a federal judge gets to decide whether or not he will send to jail pending his appeal Scooter Libby, the former Vice President Cheney chief of staff who has been convicted on charges of lying and obstructing justice in the CIA leak case. The just has indicated that he's not inclined to let Libby stay free pending the appeal. We should get that decision in just a few days.

DE LA CRUZ: All right. Gary Nurenberg, nice to see you. Thanks so much.

Shots in the night in Wisconsin. By first light of morning, six bodies and a host of questions.

At this hour, police won't say categorically that the killer is among the dead, but they insist the town is safe. The shootings happened in Delavan, several miles north of the Illinois border.

We spoke a short while ago with the town's police chief.


CHIEF TOM O'NEILL, DELEVAN, WISCONSIN, POLICE: The department of criminal investigation is still conducting, you know, their ongoing investigation, but I can tell you at this time that there's no reason to suspect that any of the members of the community are at risk. As a matter of fact, we're lifting all restrictions involving access to that area.


DE LA CRUZ: In addition to the six people dead, police found a seventh shooting victim, a toddler, discovered in a minivan. The 2- year-old girl is listed this hour in serious condition at University Hospital in Madison.

A beef recall we told you about yesterday has gotten even meatier. Could it be in your fridge or your freezer? We're going to tell you where that beef was sold.

And what goes up, must come down. Apparently that applies at the gas pump as well. Gas still not cheaper, but it's cheap.

We're going to tell you all about it. That's coming up next in the NEWSROOM.


DE LA CRUZ: Two hundred and twenty miles above the Earth, Atlantis has docked with the International Space Station. But not before the station's crew took photos of possible trouble spots on the shuttle.

CNN's space correspondent, Miles O'Brien, is live with the details.

Hello to you, Miles.


Yes, those docking pictures are fun to watch, but the pictures you're about to see are even a little bit more fun than that, but there is a serious reason behind them.

First of all, live pictures on board the Destiny Laboratory. Those are the socks (ph) of Fyodor Yurchikhin, who is the Russian cosmonaut and commander of this mission. Oh, I'm sorry, that's his crew member, Kotov, Oleg Kotov.

And they're getting ready for some visitors. There's Suni Williams, the American astronaut, floating around. You don't get visitors too often on the space station.

Suni Williams, by the way, at the end of this week will set the space record. She will be the woman with the longest tenure in space, surpassing American astronaut Shannon Lucid, who spent a long stint on the Russian space station Mir.

Now, let's show you those pictures I was telling you about. The term you and I would use, Veronica, is "black flip". NASA has a term, RPM, which is rotational pitch maneuver. And basically it's an opportunity for the crew on the space station to get out a 400 millimeter, an 800 millimeter lens, and give the shuttle the Paris Hilton paparazzi treatment.

And that's what they did. For 90 seconds, they snapped as many pictures as they could of the underside of the space shuttle Atlantis.

This is the critical place, this is where the black tiles are, where the hottest part of the shuttle as it comes in. And if there's any sort of imperfections or problems with those tiles, NASA and mission control wants to know about it. And this docking is the perfect opportunity to learn about that.

Now, let's talk about one of the things that they're concerned about, and it's moderate concern. But first of all, it's occurring right up here. There's where the focus of attention is.

This is a device called the orbital maneuvering system. It's a big rocket they use for big navigation changes. But right up here, it's covered with thermal blankets, and that means it's, generally speaking, not such a hot place when it returns to Earth. And one of the blankets has kind of peeled away. They think because of just the supersonic flow of air.

This is what they look like. It's silica and glass weave kind of thing. Kind of like a kevlar vest it feels like.

Take a look at the picture here of this little tear or piece, corner of the blanket that's lifted off. Just to give you a sense of perspective, that's about six inches. Well, do it one more time.

That's about six inches and that's about four inches there. OK? That's a pretty small hole, but as we learned with Columbia in February 2003, a relatively small hole can cause tremendous problems if it's in the wrong place on the shuttle.

The leading edge of the wing was the case in 2003 with Columbia. We lost the vehicle and the crew. In this case, as we said, it's in that place on the top of the shuttle where it's not so hot.

Take a look at what happened on the first shuttle mission 26 years ago.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: OK. We want to show you our own spots here. We do have a few tiles missing off of both of them.


O'BRIEN: Look at those tiles, those missing tiles. There were 16 of them in all. Same place.

In those days, they didn't have the thermal blankets, and they covered over those same pods with tiles. And many of them came off during launch. And, of course, as we know, that particular mission of Columbia ended with a happy ending.

So that's the history, that's what NASA is considering. Nonetheless, because of the history here, they will also be checking very carefully -- Veronica.

DE LA CRUZ: All right. So you're saying that we really shouldn't be too concerned, because I was guessing that there was a fear that this gash could either widen or, like you said, it could expose the skin, but really you're saying much ado about nothing. There really is nothing to be concerned about.

O'BRIEN: Well, they would be remiss if they didn't check it out, which is what's going on right now. They'll run this thing through the computer modeling, figure out exactly how much heat it's exposed to there.

I've been told by the experts about 600 degrees at its peak moment. That seems like a lot, but it's a carbon shell there. And there might be some singing or charring on it, it might require some maintenance work in between. But as far as threatening the crew, a long way from that. That's the first indication, anyhow.

DE LA CRUZ: And in the meantime, Miles, I understand that the crew is actually going to be picking up Suni Williams, who has been on board that space station for quite a while. They're swapping her out with Clayton Anderson. How long is Clayton going to stay up there?

O'BRIEN: He's going to have a little shorter stint. He's due to leave at the end of October.

Suni, because of the way the schedules worked out and the delays in this launch, which as you'll recall, this particular space shuttle was doused by hail back in February, and that caused the launch delay. So that extended her mission. And because the way it all came out, kind of shrunk his time as well.

Boy, that's a great picture, isn't it? As you can see, out the door of the International Space Station, get a sense of the little bit of the space shuttle tail there.

There's the shuttle robot arm. And there's the -- one of the key pieces of the International Space Station, the Destiny Laboratory.

We'll be spending some time there this week. Three spacewalks planned. And a complicated mission to attach some huge solar arrays, $366 million of our taxpaying money's worth to that space station -- Veronica.

DE LA CRUZ: All right. Miles O'Brien, we are looking forward to it. Thanks so much.

O'BRIEN: You're welcome.

DE LA CRUZ: All right. Going "Across America" now.



DE LA CRUZ: All right. If you died, how long would it take your friends and family to realize it?

Police in Connecticut believe they have found the skeletal remains of a woman in her house years after her death. Neighbors of Ann Simick (ph) haven't seen her since the late 1990s. Apparently, a "no trespassing" outside her house was very effective.

Police believe Simick (ph) died of natural causes seven years ago. Authorities found the remains after Simick's (ph) son became worried about his reclusive mother and called the police.

Two young brothers who disappeared in eastern Kentucky found dead today in the trunk of their mother's car. The boys ages 8 and 11 were reported missing around 8:00 last night. Police say right now it appears to be a tragic accident.

Wyoming's late senator Craig Thomas was laid to rest today. An overflow crowd turned out for his funeral service yesterday in Casper.

The three-time Republican senator was a Marine veteran. He was buried today in his hometown of Cody with full military honors. Thomas died Monday after a six-month battle with leukemia. He was 74 years old.

The alleged mastermind of a ransom plot that targeted David Letterman's son is out of prison and on the run. Montana prison officials say 45-year-old Kelly Frank and a fellow inmate took off from a prison work detail Friday. They've been scouring the area around Deer Lodge in western Montana ever since. Trackers say they found a pickup truck used in the getaway, but no sign of either fugitive.

All right. Getting you now to the latest in the Paris Hilton saga.

The celebrity heiress-turned-jailbird is getting some company. A short time ago, sister Nicky Hilton arrived at the L.A. County Jail for a brief visit.

In a statement posted on the celebrity Web site, Hilton says she told her attorneys not to appeal the judge's decision that famously sent her back to jail. Hilton added that she is shocked at all the public attention devoted to her situation. She urged people to pay more attention to the troops serving in Iraq and Afghanistan.

The statement went on to say, "This is by far the hardest thing I've ever done," and then goes on to say, "During the past several days, I've had a lot of time to reflect and have already learned a bitter, but important lesson from this experience."

All right. This is our story to tell you about. The death of a teenage track star in New York is being blamed on the use of too much sports cream.

The New York City medical examiner says 17-year-old Arielle Newman died after her body absorbed high levels of methyl salicylate. That is an anti-inflammatory found in over-the-counter sports creams.

Doctors say this type of poisoning is unusual, and deaths from it are extremely rare. So, what could have happened in this case, and what is the advice here for the rest of us?

For answers, let's turn now to Dr. Marc Siegel of NYU Medical School.

Hello to you, Dr. Siegel.


DE LA CRUZ: All right. So I'm assuming that this is extremely rare.

Have we ever heard of anything like this happening before?

SIEGEL: There's been a couple of cases of this, but not recently. And it's very, very unusual, because you have to get a lot of this for it to actually happen.

I mean, methyl salicylate is the most toxic of the salicylates, which is asprin-like compounds. And it does cause more blood flow to the area. It makes the skin red and hot so you get more capillary flow. Having said that, it's very hard to get enough absorbed to actually cause a problem.

DE LA CRUZ: Well, Dr. Siegel, then how exactly do you think this happened?

SIEGEL: Well, you know, we've heard from the medical examiner through news reports that she may are been using a lot of it. We don't know. You know, if she was using it casually, then it's really very unlikely it would happen.

Did she have it on bandages? We're not sure. It doesn't seem like she got any on her mouth. That would make it more likely.

Could she have had an idiosyncratic reaction to it, like an allergy? Well, the medical examiner is not saying that. But keep in mind that anybody could have an idiosyncratic reaction to any chemical. So that's always a possibility.

DE LA CRUZ: What's ironic is she was 17 years old, she was extremely healthy. What other factors could have contributed to her death? I mea, maybe the fact that she was a runner, could that have played a role?

SIEGEL: I think that's a very good point, Veronica, because when you're a runner, you know, you're sweating more and you're getting more blood flow to your skin. She might have had an underlying heart condition that made this more likely.

Generally, methyl salicylate poisoning would cause kidney problems or problems with breathing in the lungs. And also problems with vomiting and, you know, GI tract.

DE LA CRUZ: In the meantime, Doctor, I'm sure at lot of people are scared to use products. What advice could you give to everybody out there? I mean, should they stop using these products?

SIEGEL: Well, we must say that this is extremely rare, and the chances of getting this from casual use is very close to zero. I don't want people out there to be afraid of these compounds, because they're really quite safe.

Having said that, the FDA did consider in 1998 not allowing this to be over the counter. So there is some question about it. But almost never do you see anything like this happen.

DE LA CRUZ: Well, how much is too much? How much are you supposed to be using? What is the proper dosage?

SIEGEL: Well the proper dosage is just to take area that's affected, you know, and use a very thin coat no more than twice a day. And I'm not talking about lathering your body with this. You're just supposed to put it in the area that's really sore.

DE LA CRUZ: All right. In the meantime, this is -- this is an over- the-counter product. Do you believe that maybe it should be prescription?

SIEGEL: I think that that's a real consideration, because it is toxic, you know, and can be at a very high dose. I think that it should be considered by the FDA now for prescription use. But again, I want the public to be aware of the fact that most salves, including this one when you rub it in, do not put you at much risk.

DE LA CRUZ: All right.

Dr. Marc Siegel with the NYU Medical School.

Dr. Siegel, we appreciate it. Thank you.

SIEGEL: Thanks, Veronica.

DE LA CRUZ: Colin Powell spoke out today about the prisoners at Guantanamo and what he thinks the U.S. should do.

We'll be right back. Keep it right here.

People have been making wine at home for centuries. In this week's "Pioneers," Christine Romans introduces us to an innovation that makes the process practically foolproof.


CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice over): Forget the traditional sprawling vineyard. Thirty-five hundred dollars will buy you a wine pod, enabling you to make your own wine, just like the pros. The grapes are shipped direct from California growers in five- pound pales, along with a few other necessary ingredients.

GREG SNELL, CO-FOUNDER & CEO, PROVINA, INC.: So you receive the grapes, and you take the label and you input the code into your computer. And then it will know exactly what vineyard it's from, the year.

You pour the grapes into the wine pod, and then the wine pod will start controlling the temperature. It will ask you to punch down the grapes once every day, and it will also ask you to smell and taste the wine.

When the fermentation is complete, you put on the press, and the press is essentially like a French coffee press, and it pushes the grapes down, separating the skins from the wine. And then you siphon the wine into a barrel, and then some months later you're able to bottle it.

ROMANS: Each batch yields 48 to 60 bottles at a cost of $25 per bottle.



DE LA CRUZ: Six thousand and 14 miles, give or take a few ticks on the odometer, that's the distance between Crawford, Texas, and Tirana, Albania. But both cities share a love and admiration for President George W. Bush.

CNN White House Correspondent Ed Henry has more from the Albanian capital.


ED HENRY, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT (voice over): The kind of welcome President Bush doesn't get these days at home or anywhere in the world, like Italy and Germany, where he was greeted by thousands of angry protesters. For a limping president wondering, where's the love, the answer is Albania, which issued three postage stamps in Mr. Bush's honor, named a street after him, and welcomed him with a massive 21-gun salute.

SALI BERISHA, ALBANIAN PRIME MINISTER: The greatest and most distinguished guest we have ever had in all times, the president of the United States of America, the leading country of the free world, George W. Bush.

GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I'm proud to be the first American sitting president to visit Albania.

HENRY: A carefully choreographed White House attempt to close the president's European tour on a high note, with a quick stop in a country that's adored America for 85 years, thanks to Woodrow Wilson's refusal to partion Albania and the first President Bush's help in ending communism.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: One George Bush, one America. Albania -- George Bush, American, OK?

HENRY: Mr. Bush was here to give thanks of his own for Albania contributing small numbers of troops to Iraq and Afghanistan.

BUSH: Albanians know the horror of tyranny, and so they're working to bring hope of freedom to people who haven't known it. And that's a noble effort and a sacrifice.

HENRY: He also pushed independence for Kosovo, a province of Serbia dominated by Albanians.

BUSH: Two things -- one that -- we need to get moving. And two, that the end result is independence.

HENRY: That's why people here don't understand why Mr. Bush is heckled elsewhere.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I think they are crazy people, because the democracy begins in America. And America wants to be the democracy all around the world.

HENRY (on camera): The love for America is nonpartisan. After then- President Clinton rescued ethnic Albanians in the Kosovo war, a lot of babies here were named Bill and Hillary. Locals now expect a baby boom of Georges and Lauras.

Ed henry, CNN, with president in Tirana, Albania.


DE LA CRUZ: Senator Joe Lieberman says the U.S. should consider military action against Iran. The reason, Tehran's suspected involvement in Iraq.

Appearing on CBS' "Face the Nation" this morning, Lieberman said by some estimates Iranians may have killed as many as 200 American soldiers.


SEN. JOSEPH LIEBERMAN (I), CONNECTICUT: I think we've got to be prepared to take aggressive military action against the Iranians to stop them from killing Americans in Iraq. And to me, that would include a strike into -- over the border into Iran, where I -- we have good evidence that they have a base at which they are training these people coming back into Iraq to kill our soldiers.


DE LA CRUZ: All right.

Let's get you now to Australia and all of that wet weather that the folks there are dealing with. Heavy rains are causing some of the worst flooding seen in 30 years.

Mike Munro of Australia affiliate National 9 News has the very latest for us.


MIKE MUNRO, REPORTER, NATIONAL 9 NEWS (voice over): The torrential rain may have eased, but flooding waters from the mountains and rivers were only just starting. Overnight, all through the hunter region of New South Wales, authorities were flat out rescuing residents and motorists.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The police are on their way.

MUNRO: By morning, highways had become fast-flowing rivers. Properties flooded, stocks stranded, crops ruined, and businesses cut off.

So many of the of the 4,000 residents abandoned their properties, wearing only the clothes on their backs. Little wonder SES volunteers have left Melbourne to lend a hand.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I've lived here for 25 years. We've never seen it this bad.

MUNRO: If you weren't an onlooker, you were either evacuating town or helping with sandbagging. Towns of Singleton and Brankstown (ph) were cut off.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Scary, yes. Yes, very scary.

MUNRO: This farmer waded back to his flooded property to rescue the rest of his livestock. But in the end, he had to be rescued himself.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Can you get those birds for me?


MUNRO: By the time emergency volunteers reunited him with his wife, the farmer was suffering mild hypothermia.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: There was nothing there at 2:00 this morning. At half passed 4:00, we were swimming cattle and horses in.

MUNRO: Nearby, a 29-year-old father was killed in a freak accident when a tree fell onto his Ute as he was driving past. And here at Bronte Beach in Sydney, those with a lot less on their mind made the most of the heavy seas.

Flags on top of the harbor bridge saying it all.

Mike Munro, National 9 News.


DE LA CRUZ: All right.

Well, the severe weather certainly is not limited to the Australian coast. Take a look at the horizon from Sandoval County, New Mexico, yesterday. This tornado was the first of two that were spotted. Neither caused any injuries or damage.

Wow. But take a listen to that. The same cannot be said for this hailstorm that pounded parts of central Oklahoma yesterday. Heavy rains and high winds helped topple a few trees and create some flash flooding around Tulsa.

All right. Let's get a check of the weather right now. We turn to Jacqui Jeras.


DE LA CRUZ: All right. Well, we hope you out there are not tired of "The Sopranos" yet. Guess how many endings were written for tonight's episode?

Coming up, we'll have the man with the answers. Stay close.


JAMES GANDOLFINI, TONY SOPRANO, "THE SOPRANOS": ... just a funny, smart, lovable, good looking guy.



DE LA CRUZ: A missing girl recovered last week in a home in Connecticut is to return to school tomorrow. That is according to her parents.

The teenager had been missing a year when police found her lobbed in a tiny storage room in West Hartford. Three adults who lived in the home face charges, including a 41-year-old man. Police are investigating whether the missing girl might have been sexually assaulted.

Tomorrow night, the girl's parents will speak with Larry King. That is "LARRY KING LIVE," 9:00 p.m. Eastern, only on CNN.


DE LA CRUZ: Many of you probably will be TiVoing the last episode of "The Sopranos" tonight because you're probably going to be watching CNN, right?

Anyhow, you will certainly recognize this.

"In Touch Weekly's Tom O'Neil joins us now to talk about the finale of this long-running TV phenomenon.

Tom, you definitely are going to be TiVoing the show, because you'll be watching CNN, right?

TOM O'NEIL, THEENVELOPE.COM: No, no. I've got to go over to the Tony Awards. I have to cover those. So I had to choose between the Tonys and Tony Soprano and CNN. I had to pick the awards.

DE LA CRUZ: All right, Tom. So tell us that you know what's going to happen.

O'NEIL: Well, nobody really knows. This is what makes this all the more fun. Even those of us in the industry who have got great contacts among the cast and the writers and the networks don't know, because they shot three different endings just to keep everybody in suspense. So all these cast members you've been seeing on talk shows, even they don't know.

DE LA CRUZ: All right. Well, let's just tap into your entertainment expertise.

What do you think is going to happen?

O'NEIL: Well, we believe that of the three endings that were shot, one of them has Tony going into the witness protection program, so he survives. Remember, where the story leaves off now, is that Tony is hunkering down with his Jersey mob boys against the New York bob boys, and we're waiting for this big bang finale.

DE LA CRUZ: Oh, that's boring.

O'NEIL: I know.

DE LA CRUZ: That's boring.

O'NEIL: So they can't have it end just traditionally, right?

Well, the odds makers from the casinos are claiming that Tony is going to whacked, and Phil, his nemesis, is going to get whacked by Tony's son A.J. That's what the heavy money is on right now.

DE LA CRUZ: All right. That's a little juicier.

What about Tony committing suicide?

O'NEIL: I've heard that rumor. I have a little trouble with that one, because Tony doesn't seem the suicidal type, does he?

DE LA CRUZ: Well, you know, you never know. And with a show like "The Sopranos," they want to keep you in suspense. And what happens is never what you think is going to happen. So who knows?

O'NEIL: I know. That's exactly what it is.

So, we know that this can't end any traditional way, so it could happen that Tony, who has been in therapy since the beginning of this show, suddenly does something psychologically strange, like suicide. That's why we love this show, because it never follows the traditional story arcs.

DE LA CRUZ: Exactly.

You know, HBO has had a lot of successful shows -- also "Sex and the City," which I'm hearing they're making a movie of.

Do you think "The Sopranos," do you think that we'll see it come back in a form like this? Or maybe, you know, a sequel, another TV show, a spin-off? What do you think?

O'NEIL: That's what makes this finale suspense all the more interesting, because remember when "Sex and the City" ended, everyone said, just end it, nobody cares. Sarah Jessica Parker, Kim Cattrall said they weren't interested in doing a follow-up movie. Well, now they've changed their minds and that movie is in the works.

So, can HBO now bump off Tony Soprano? James Gandolfini, and the writer, David Chase, may say, oh, just get rid of it, we're done with this show. But are they really? Will HBO let that happen?

DE LA CRUZ: Well, we're going to have to find out tonight. We're going to have to find -- we're going to have to stay tuned.

In the meantime, I'm sure people all over are getting together for a big spaghetti and meatball party. Not us.

O'NEIL: Baked ziti is best. That's what Carmella -- by the way, of all these various scenarios of who dies in the finale, nobody dares to bump off Carmela Soprano. It looks like Edie Falco will live.

DE LA CRUZ: Nobody. Yes. You're probably right about that.

All right.

Tom O'Neil with "In Touch Magazine".

Nice to see you. Thanks.

O'NEIL: Same. Thanks.

DE LA CRUZ: It is where the rubber meets the road. Seventy-five feet below the ocean's surface, sinking all these tires seemed like a good idea 40 years ago.

The rubber reef that didn't float when CNN NEWSROOM returns.


DE LA CRUZ: From the mountains to the ocean, they're tackling pollution off the Fort Lauderdale coast. Marine biologists and military divers are taking turns diving for tires. Thousands of them lie on the ocean floor, part of a rubber reef project that just didn't float.

Our Rusty Dornin explains.


RUSTY DORNIN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice over): A dead zone, that's what marine biologists call this. Few signs of life, just an endless sea of rubber.

Two million tires dumped here in the early '70s, someone's environmental answer to recycling used tires and rebuilding coral reefs off the coast of Florida. Good intentions with government approval that turned into an ecological disaster.

Coral was supposed to grow here. It not only didn't, the tires killed what was.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's just bare rock and sediment. Everything that's underneath those tires has been destroyed, flattened or rae moved. And suffocated. Just physical impact from the tires themselves.

DORNIN: The tires have drifted with the currents and been scattered by the storms over the last 40 years, at times washing ashore. Finally, a cleanup effort by state, federal and Broward County officials has been launched.

In this pilot program, 40 military divers from the Army, Navy and Coast Guard are training about a mile off the coast. Working with marine biologists, their goal is to get as many wheels as possible off the ocean floor in a four-week period.

No matter how many are pulled out, the agencies will get an idea of how long it will take to clean up the whole mess. Where the rubber meets the road here is down about 75 feet.

RYAN TRAVIS, U.S. NAVY DIVER: So you will have to dig around it. And once you pull them up, because there's so much sand in them they're quite heavy.

DORNIN: Navy diver Ryan Travis says they can bring up anywhere from 15 to 80 per dive.

TRAVIS: We string out the 50-foot piece of wire and we just start throwing tires on it, as many as we can.

DORNIN: We went out to see the operation just off the coast from Fort Lauderdale, only things had come to a standstill.

(on camera): The divers had to quit early today. The crane on the ship broke down. There's weather, technical difficulties. No one is really sure how many tires they are going to be able to remove within a month's time.

(voice over): Their hope is to fish out nearly all the rubber over the next two years.

WILL NUCKOLS, COASTAL AMERICA: Really, this project is about coral protection. So we'll continue to clean the corals -- clean the tires up from the coral reef as long as the marine biologists say that what we're doing is actually making a positive impact.

DORNIN: The tires will be chipped into two-inch pieces an used as fuel at a paper recycling plant in Georgia, putting the brakes on an environmental nightmare.

Rusty Dornin, CNN, Fort Lauderdale.


DE LA CRUZ: Historians thought it was buried in D.C. somewhere, but no one knew for sure until recently. A famous letter from the hand of Lincoln.

You're watching CNN, the most trusted name in news. (COMMERCIAL BREAK)

DE LA CRUZ: Tucked away for decades. A letter from President Abraham Lincoln recently turned up in a lost archive. It gives us a rare look at a commander in chief in a difficult war.

Brian Todd reports on the discovery.


BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Early July 1863, just after the Union's victory at Gettysburg midway through the Civil War, President Lincoln writes to Major General Henry Halleck, his top official at the War Department. Lincoln wants Halleck to urge the Union's commanding general in Pennsylvania, George Meade, to press the advantage against Robert E. Lee's wounded Confederate Army.

"If General Meade can complete his work so gloriously prosecuted thus far, by the literal or substantial destruction of Lee's army, the rebellion will be over."

Researcher Trevor Plante, who found the letter, says the basic contents were already known second hand. But finding the original reveals the date and Lincoln's urgency.

TREVOR PLANTE, NATIONAL ARCHIVES: The note expresses Lincoln's optimism that if Meade can destroy Lee's army, the war would be over. For the next several days, both Halleck and Lincoln implored Meade to fight Lee's army before it crossed the Potomac River.

TODD: But Meade and his exhaustive force do not pursue the fleeing rebels, and a week later, Lee escapes. Lincoln later writes to General Meade in a letter he never sends your golden opportunity is gone, and I am distressed immeasurably because of it. The war will be prolonged indefinitely.

PLANTE: You can feel Lincoln savoring that the end of the war is within his grasp, and thus the great disappointment he had with Meade's failure to deliver.

TODD: Lincoln was frustrated by generals who were not aggressive enough. The war continued for two more years. When it was all over, 600,000 Americans had perished, more than in all other wars combined. Historians wonder how many could have been spared if the war had ended right after Gettysburg.

Brian Todd, CNN, Washington.


DE LA CRUZ: All right. Let's get you back to space now.

Our Miles O'Brien joins us to tell us about this proverbial docking (INAUDIBLE) on the International Space Station -- Miles.

O'BRIEN: Well, you know, if you knock on the door of the station, you would hope they'd answer. And sure enough they did. (AUDIO GAP), where they're breathing a sigh of relief, having gotten that portion of the mission under way and done.

There you see the team as they arrived on the International Space Station. This is the Destiny Laboratory. There's Suni Williams with a big hug, and there's one of her Russian crewmates.

And they rang the bell and went through all the drill, and mugged and smiled and hugged and took pictures. And, you know, like I say, you have a three-person crew up there, you've been there a long time, it's kind of nice to have some company.

There's Jim Reilly. And tomorrow, Jim Reilly, right here, he will be the lead on spacewalk number one, where they will begin the process of installing -- they will install a truss, a big 36,000-pound truss that some big solar arrays kind of rolled up inside of it.

That's the primary goal of this mission, to add those solar arrays, greatly increasing the electrical production capability of the space station so that they can do more experiments and racks like that in the Destiny Laboratory. That begins tomorrow.

In the meantime, today, while they were celebrating, they were also beginning that process, taking the shuttle's robot arms and attaching it to that piece of equipment that will go on to the space station.

So, we'll keep you posted all throughout the mission -- Veronica.

DE LA CRUZ: All right, Miles. We appreciate it. Thanks.

O'BRIEN: You're welcome.

DE LA CRUZ: I'm Veronica De La Cruz at the CNN Center in Atlanta.

"LOU DOBBS THIS WEEK" starts right now.


© 2007 Cable News Network.
A Time Warner Company. All Rights Reserved.
Terms under which this service is provided to you.
Read our privacy guidelines. Contact us. Site Map.
Offsite Icon External sites open in new window; not endorsed by
Pipeline Icon Pay service with live and archived video. Learn more
Radio News Icon Download audio news  |  RSS Feed Add RSS headlines