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Minneapolis Bridge Collapse Update; U.S. Bridges under Inspection, U.S. Intelligence Law Bill; Space Shuttle Endeavor Launch Delay; California Black Muslims Arrested; Chinese Toy Recall; Ford Motor Company Recall

Aired August 4, 2007 - 12:00   ET


FREDRICKA WHITFIELD, CNN NEWS ANCHOR: We begin with the latest on the Minneapolis bridge collapse. President Bush speaking in Minneapolis, meeting with families and getting a first-hand look at the damage. Divers are searching for bodies, battling jagged steel, swift currents and debris. At least eight people are still missing, five people are confirmed dead.
Our Susan Roesgen is following today's developments in Minneapolis and join us now -- Susan.

SUSAN ROESGEN, CNN NEWS CORRESPONDENT: Fredricka, you know, today, here in Minneapolis our commander in chief becomes the comforter in chief. Many people were very eager to see him here. He's now spoken to recovery workers, right along the Mississippi River. He took, first, an aerial tour in his Marine One chopper, and then got down on the ground, actually walking down the embankment to the Mississippi River, getting a first-hand look at the chunks of concrete, the debris and what the job lies ahead for the divers there. He also shared his faith, his faith in God for the people who have lived through this tragedy and for those who have not.


GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Behalf of the citizens of America, I bring prayers, and -- from the American people to those who suffered loss of life as a result of the collapse of the 35W bridge here in the Twin Cities. Bring a prayers of those who wonder about whether they'll ever see a loved one again.


ROESGEN: Right now, the president is actually meeting, we understand, with the Red Cross. The Red Cross here told us yesterday that 1,200 people had had grief counseling. That Red Cross workers were here counseling 1,200 people for their grief after this accident.

Also, by the way, Fredricka, I want to let you know that the divers are back in the river, today. They had said if there were lightning in the area the divers would come out. But, even if it rained the divers would be back in. We understand that those divers are back in now, still trying to negotiate the really tricky job underwater, almost pitch black, almost zero visibility, but they are still going from car to car, groping their way along, trying to see if there might be any more bodies in any of the cars that are still under the water -- Fredricka.

WHITFIELD: And Susan, is it clear whether the divers have located all of the vehicles underwater, or it's a matter of getting to these vehicles or is it the case that they don't know exactly how many vehicles are in the water or where they are?

ROESGEN: It's actually a little of both, Fredricka. There are still cars there that they haven't been able to find. When divers aren't in the water, they use sonar to try to locate where they think these cars are. So, some cars they don't even know how many might be there. In the other sense, the divers have gotten to some vehicles that were flattened underneath the cars above them, sometimes you had two, or three cars that fell on top of each other. And divers have said they simply cannot get in to look in a crushed car to see whether there was anybody inside.

WHITFIELD: All right, Susan Roesgen, thanks so much, from Minneapolis.

So far, as we've said, five bodies have been recovered from the bridge collapse. Police have identified the latest as Paul Eichstadt (ph). He was driving the truck that burst into flames shortly after the collapse. You remember those images, right next to the school bus, right there.

Also identified, 32-year-old Julia Blackhawk of Savage, Minnesota, she leaves behind two sons.

And 29-year-old Artemio Trinidad-Mena of Minneapolis, he has four children including a 2-month-old daughter.

A 36-year-old father of two, Patrick Holmes is from Mounds View, Minnesota.

And 60-year-old Sherry Lou Engebretsen, she leaves behind a husband and two daughters.

Corroding steel, missing bolts, cracks in the welding, bridges across the country under inspection. States under review by the Department of Transportation. It wants to know what they're doing with federal money targeted for repairs. Two affiliate reports now on troubled bridges across the country, one from WDSU in New Orleans, the other from KTLA in earthquake-prone California.


JAMIE CHAMBERS, KTLA REPORTER (voice-over): We've all had the same thoughts, suspended high in the air: is this bridge underneath me safe? After the collapse in Minnesota, CalTrans is trying to reassure drivers.

HANK KOFFMAN, USC ENGINEERING DIR.: The bridges in the state of California are safe. If we felt a bridge was not safe, we would close it immediately.

CHAMBERS: CalTrans says they inspect every bridge once every two years.

KWAN LAM, CALTRANS BRIDGE INSPECTOR: We want to make sure no excessive settlements, cracking in the girders and then we also want to look at the deck condition because the vehicle going to run on top of that.

CHAMBERS: But CalTrans' average bridge's age is between 40 to 50 years old. One of the bridges CalTrans wants to change out is the Schuyler Heim Bridge, they say it's old and complicated, but still safe.

There are 2,362 bridges in California, but 28 percent are considered structurally deficient. CalTrans says that doesn't mean they will fail, they say most of those bridges just need to be painted.



TRAVERS MACKEL, WDSU REPORTER (voice-over): They're two of the busiest bridges in the state of Louisiana, the Twin Span connecting New Orleans to the north shore, it's a roadway bridge the stated Department of Transportation considers structurally deficient.

MARK LAMBERT, LOUISIANA DOT: The reason this is classified as a deficient bridge, structurally deficient, is because it cannot hold the same load capacity that it was designed for.

MARKEL: That's due in part to Hurricane Katrina. The storm destroyed part of the Twin Span. Temporary connecters are in place. Here's what they look like from the lake level.

LAMBERT: It requires a lot of maintenance and it's, you know, we have been inspected every day.

MARKEL: That's good news to those who drive the Twin Span.


WHITFIELD: That from WDSU. We'll learn more about the state of the nation's roads and bridges tonight at 8:00. Soledad O'Brien and the Special Investigation Unit, here at CNN, look into "Road to Ruin: Are we safe?" That's tonight and tomorrow night, 8:00 Eastern.

Ahead of their August recess, members of the House are at work this weekend, live pictures right now from the House chamber. A vote is possible today on a Republican sponsored bill to overhaul a U.S. intelligence law. It has been on the books for almost three decades, now. And among other things, it gives President Bush expanded authority for six months to eavesdrop on phone calls and e-mails made by suspected terrorists overseas. The measures cleared the Senate on Friday and Democratic sources say it's likely to pass in the House, as well.

Blastoff to the red planet. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Two, one, zero and liftoff of the Delta 2 rocket with Phoenix, a distance science outpost (INAUDIBLE) clues of the evolution at the polar region of mars.


WHITFIELD: NASA's latest mission to Mars is now underway. The Phoenix Mars Lander lights up the night sky as it's launched at Cape Canaveral. If all goes as planned, the robotic spacecraft will end its 422 million mile journey next May landing within the planet's arctic circle. Its equipment will analyze Martian soil and ice looking for traces of organic compounds. Those compounds could be a possible indicator for conditions favorable for life.

The crew of the space shuttle Endeavor facing a one day launch delay. NASA has put off Tuesday's planned launch until Wednesday. That will give workers time to replace a leaky valve in the shuttle's crew cabin.

After launch the seven astronauts will head to the International Space Station. During the 11-day mission they will deliver cargo to the outpost, attach a new truss segment and replace a gyroscope which helps control the station's orientation. Three space walks are planned.

And in Los Angeles an autopsy is now expected to be performed on Monday on the body of a man who apparently was mauled to death by dogs at actor Ving Rhame's home. Authorities say the victim, who was caring for the dogs, was found on the front lawn with bites and scratches. Police seized three dogs from the property. And an officer says two of the animals appear to have been responsible for that attack, but an official with the coroner's office says it's premature to say exactly how the man died. Police say Rhames who starred in "Mission Impossible," in those movie series, well, he was not home at the time of the attack.

Police in Oakland, California arrested more than a half a dozen of people in a series of raids targeting members of a Black Muslim splinter group. They say the arrests could help solve the killing of an Oakland newspaper editor. Details now from CNN's Dan Simon.

DAN SIMON, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Your Black Muslim Bakery was a well known business in Oakland and not for just its unusual name. Its founder, now deceased, had been implicated in a rape scandal. He died a few years ago, shortly before trial. More recently his son and some associates have been charged in the vandalism of Bay area liquor stores. Chauncey Bailey, a 57-year-old Oakland newspaper reporter, had been working on a story about the shop. His boss had described him as a tenacious journalist.

PAUL COBB, PUBLISHER, OAKLAND POST: We use to call him the James Brown of journalism, he's the hardest working man in journalism, just like they say James Brown was the hardest working man in show business. SIMON: Bailey had recently become the editor of a community weekly. On Thursday, he was gunned down, murdered in plain sight as he walked to work. Paul Cobb got a phone call from police at the murder scene asking if he knew the reporter.

COBB: And I said, yeah, he should be there covering it for us. And the police said: no, he won't be covering anything. I said: What are you talking about? And he says, well, we're talking about Chauncey Bailey. And I just -- I thought it was a joke.

SIMON: Did Bailey's investigation into the shop lead to his murder? Police wouldn't comment on the motive, but during raids on several locations, including the bakery, one day after Bailey's murder, investigators say they discovered a powerful link, a gun used in the killing of the veteran journalist.

ASST. CHIEF HOWARD JORDAN, OAKLAND POLICE: This investigation does not involve Muslims under the leadership of the Honorable Mr. Louis Farrakhan and the Nation of Islam. It should not be seen as an investigation of any faith tradition.

SIMON (on camera): And it wasn't Bailey's murder that lead police to the store. Police had been investigating the bakery for several months. The raid had been planned well in advance. So, authorities really did not know that they were going to find evidence allegedly implicating the group in Bailey's murder.

(voice-over): Police say they have been investigating the shop and operators in connection with two other Bay area murders.

LT. ERSIE JOYNER, OAKLAND POLICE: During our investigation, Chauncey Bailey, was murdered and it turns out that evidence in that case also links the same individuals we were looking at in the other two prior murders.

SIMON: At least seven people connected to the bakery have been placed under arrest. Chauncey Bailey's instincts said there was a story worth chasing had apparently been right.

Dan Simon, CNN, Oakland, California.


WHITFIELD: Meantime, right now, we want you to take a look at what your children are playing with this morning. Do you recognize some of the toys as being on a giant toy recall list? We're going to give you that list coming up.

And finally something to cheer about in Iraq, uniting a country at war, one goal at a time.


WHITFIELD: Earlier today, President Bush wanted to see for himself the devastation from that bridge collapse in Minneapolis. He also wanted to talk with a number of people who were involved in the recovery efforts and the rescue efforts early on. Among the rescuers, or should I say, good Samaritans, that he got a chance to talk and meet with, Gary Babineau who actually helped get some of the 60 people who were on board that school bus that was sort of just teetering there on the crumbled bridge. Well, just moments ago he shared some of his thoughts.


GARY BABINEAU, BRIDGE SURVIVOR: You know, I ran over, and there was a bunch of kids already off the bus, kicking, screaming, crying. A couple of them were just in shock, didn't say anything at all and there was -- I think his name was Jeremy, I'm not -- I think his name was Jeremy...

QUESTION: Jeremy Hernandez?

BABINEAU: I saw him just handing kids off the bus to a couple people. I grabbed a couple kids. And there was just a bunch of kids on the actual bridge. And you know, we were handing them down to people and they're just -- I could see that there wasn't enough people on the actual street level grabbing kids, so I jumped down there, and started grabbing the kids from the bridge.

QUESTION: From the bus or the bridge?

BABINEAU: From the bridge, because they were already off the bus. So, they came down were it was probably six, eight, seven, eight feet drop and the bus would have been 10, 12 feet, I think. But they walked down there. The ones that could walk, I just put them down and say just run as fast as you can and, you know, towards everyone else. You know, there were people running down too. And the ones that looked like they thought had a broken leg or broken arm or something, I would hand them to somebody else that was running down, that was walking by. And you know, I just handed them to them and the kids would lean over the bridge so I could grab them, you know, like they were almost falling. You could tell the kids wanted off the bridge, because if you're willing to trust someone to, you know, grab you when you're falling off the bridge you want off that bridge.


WHITFIELD: About 10 people on that bus of 60 were injured and hospitalized, none facing life-threatening injuries. That was again, Gary Babineau who is one of the many heroes who sprung into action that Wednesday night there in Minneapolis.

Meantime, let's focus on the West Coast for a moment. Huge plumes of smoke over Santa Barbara County in California. This month- old wildfire is still burning out of control. Right now, it has scorched more then 44,000 acres. Hundreds of people have had to leave their homes, there. A state of emergency is now in place.

And parts of upstate New York cleaning up from storm damage there, today. Powerful winds swept through Utica and other parts of that region today -- rather, Friday. Also reported some hail, some of it as big as a quarter. The area also got slammed by heavy rain and lightning.

Let's check in with our Reynolds Wolf, where, boy, the weather is just, across the board, across the country. You have extremes of all sorts.

REYNOLDS WOLF, CNN METEOROLOGIST: It seems like it. Whenever we get together.

WHITFIELD: I know. Yeah, I think it's something about the weekends and wild weather?

WOLF: It's a crazy thing.


WHITFIELD: All right, it's almost like playing the lottery, right? Waiting for that number to kind of pop up?.

WOLF: It happens. I don't know what is this morning.

WHITFIELD: What's the last number? Bring it on.

WOLF: We need to get some coffee in this machine or something, to wake it up.

WHITFIELD: All right, 97, nice steamy summer day.

WOLF: You bet.

WHITFIELD: All right, thanks a lot.

How about this? Some outrage, lead paint on kids' toys: Big bird, Elmo, Dora the Explorer, and all of it made in China, recalled in America.

Here now is CNN's Kitty Pilgrim.


KITTY PILGRIM, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Lead poisoning in young children can lower I.Q., affect learning ability and damage the liver and kidneys. But, there are no immediate symptoms, so parents wouldn't notice if their child was ingesting lead from a toy.

DR JAMES ROBERTS, MEDICAL UNIV. OF SOUTH CAROLINA: Lead poisoning often starts without symptoms at all. They can be a normal child running around playing, but have an elevated blood-lead level, and you'd never know it without testing them.

PILGRIM: Fisher-Price found lead paint on nearly a million Big Bird, Elmo, Dora and Diego figures made in China between April and July of this year and imported into the United States.

The Consumer Product Safety Commission says it's a particularly bad case. The lead was in the yellow paint surface coating the toys, a blatant disregard of the ban on lead paint in children's toys. The Consumer Product Safety Commission, manned with 100 field inspectors, is struggling against rampant Chinese violations of safety standards; 80 percent of all toys in the U.S. now come from China. And, from October last year, of the 306 recalls of products, 100 percent of recalled toys were made in China.

JOAN LAWRENCE, TOY INDUSTRY ASSOCIATION: There are a couple of bills being talked about in Congress that would enhance the safety system, and we would be in favor of those.

PILGRIM: While there is a ban on lead paint, there is no ban on lead content in children's jewelry. Since 2004, the Consumer Product Safety Commission has recalled 165 million pieces of jewelry with lead that could leak out.

LORI WALLACH, PUBLIC CITIZEN: These kind of problems where you have really unsafe imported products flooding into our homes is going to continue until we change the trade rules.

PILGRIM: The CPSC wants a total ban on lead in children's jewelry by 2008.

Kitty Pilgrim, CNN.


WHITFIELD: And we know you're intrigued now, so you want a complete list of those recalled toys and information about what to do if you have one of them? You need to log on to and click on recall.

Well, how much will it cost you if someone runs into your car? Some depressing news for your wallet, especially if you have a luxury car which means you paid a lot for it.


WHITFIELD: Ford Motor Company asking you to temporarily put on the brakes as they put out the word on another big recall. The automaker is recalling more than 3.5 million cars, trucks, SUVs and vans because of a cruise control switch. The move covers more than a dozen vehicle models from 1992 to 2004. Ford says there is a concern about the cruise control switch causing fires.

And who doesn't love luxury automobiles? Well, how much do you love them after hearing about this? Low speed car accidents in a luxury car. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety is out with bumper test results that might surprise you.

CNN's Greg Hunter has the story.


GREG HUNTER, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): While crashes from vendor-benders like these don't look like much, the repair bills sure do. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety recently tested bumpers of 11 luxury cars. At low speeds it tested front and rear crashes and then front and rear corner crashes. The institute says the results aren't as luxurious as the car.

(on camera): All of these cars were subjected to the same test, top speed, six miles-per-hour, about the pace I'm walking right now.

(voice-over): Take this Infinity G-35, the institute's worst performer.

(on camera): Expensive car, expensive body damage.

DAVID ZUBY, INSURANCE INST. FOR HIGHWAY SAFETY: That's right, we're looking at damage that's going to coast over $4,000 to repair.

HUNTER (voice-over): And that was just rear impact. After all of the tests, the costs hit nearly $14,000 in damages.

Nissan, which owns Infinity, told CNN:

"We design each new model to resist low-speed collision damage and will continue to work closely with major insurance companies to keep premiums low for our customers."

The best performer, the Saab 93, with just over $5,000 in repairs. While Saab told us:

"We are honored, yet not surprised with our performance in the most resent IIHS tests."

The instate says, the Saab's performance isn't good enough.

ZUBY: There's three cars with less that $6,000 total damage in four tests.

HUNTER (on camera): Is that good?

ZUBY: We don't think that's good.

HUNTER: It's just the best of the worst.

ZUBY: That's right.

HUNTER (voice-over): The institute believes it's not unreasonable to expect $1,000 in total damages after all four tests. Take this 1981 Ford Escort, which underwent the exact same tests. It would only cost $500 to fix today. So, why can't current luxury vehicles compete?

ZUBY: The problem with all of the vehicles, with the exception of maybe two, is that the bumpers don't extend far enough to the sides of the vehicles to protect expensive parts like headlamps, hood corner, and fender.

HUNTER: Metal. Nothing.

(voice-over): On a good note, the institute say car manufacturers need only make small changes for some big savings on future bumper tests.

Greg Hunter, CNN, Ruckersville, Virginia.


WHITFIELD: Well, that's a big wake-up call. And the congressional leaders say the Minneapolis bridge collapse is also a big wakeup call. What have our representatives doing about decaying bridges before now?


WHITFIELD: Happening right now, a solemn President Bush in Minnesota this hour to see the damage from Wednesday's deadly bridge collapse. Mr. Bush says America stands with the people of Minneapolis and will do all it can to help them recover. Right now, the death toll is five, eight people are still missing.

In Britain, a swift move by authorities to try to contain an outbreak of foot and mouth disease. The outbreak on a farm in southern England. All movement of pigs, cows and sheep are now banned across the country. The highly contagious disease affects cattle and other farm animals. It cannot be transmitted to humans.

Unsafe bridges, a big concern for Congress after the deadly collapse in Minneapolis as lawmakers look for ways to fund bridge upkeep and road repairs. Critics say spending priorities are misplaced.

More now from CNN Congressional Correspondent Dana Bash.


DANA BASH, CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Democrats immediately called the Minneapolis tragedy a wake-up call to spend more money on infrastructure.

REP. JAMES OBERSTAR, (D) MINNESOTA: We're not going to settle for a bargain basement transportation bill.

BASH: They blamed the president for using veto threats to squeeze out spending.

SEN. PATTY MURRAY, (D) WASHINGTON: That's going to put us in a terrible place in trying to meet the maintenance needs we have out there.

BASH: But to others, it's not about more money, it's about misplaced priorities in how it's spent.

KRISTINA RASMUSSEN, NATIONAL TAXPAYERS UNION: Too much money is going to pork barrel projects. The money is there.

BASH: Just look at the latest $50 billion house transportation spending bill. It includes more than $2 billion in earmarks or pet projects for lawmakers across the country. Many have nothing to do with roads and bridges.

In Minnesota, for example, Congressman Keith Ellison, whose district includes the collapsed bridge, helped secure $6 million for light rail and joint Congressman Jim Oberstar, the Transportation Committee Chairman, in getting $10 million more for a commuter rail. Senator Norm Coleman secured $65 million for the same project, approved by the committee that controls spending in the Senate, and Oberstar also got $250,000 for a new bike pass.

To be fair, most federal transportation money is sent to states and they decide how it's spent. Earmarks come from a different pot of money. Still, critics say lawmakers neglect maintenance problems by steering money to headline-grabbing new projects.

RASMUSSEN: Bridge upkeep and road repair is not sexy, but it is exciting to talk about your new light rail project, your new bus museum, your new bike trail. But at the end of the day, those are not critical to our transportation needs.

BASH (on camera): Congress and the White House promise to spend whatever it takes to rebuild the collapsed bridge in Minneapolis, but the bigger question is whether Congress will change the way it doles out money to fix dilapidated bridges across the country before disaster strikes.

Dana Bash, CNN, Capitol Hill.


WHITFIELD: The bridge collapse triggering inspections across the country. Are the bridges in your city safe?

CNN's Dan Simon takes a look.


DAN SIMON, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Some of them, like San Francisco's Golden Gate, are national symbols. But a startling number of America's bridges have become a symbol for something else, neglect, and now danger.

Bridges are essential to our daily lives, but more than 160,000 of them, more than a quarter of all the bridges in this country, have been rated as structurally deficient, or functionally obsolete. In plain English, they're getting old.

PROF. MO EHSANI, UNIVERSITY OF ARIZONA: Like anything else, there is a useful life for all structures, and ultimately, they need to be replaced or strengthened.

SIMON: Engineering professor Mo Ehsani, has designed nearly a dozen bridges in Arizona.

EHSANI: For most people who are not in this field, you know, they assume that any bridge that they drive on on a daily basis is a safe structure. But in certain cases, that may not be the case. SIMON: Experts say some of the most traveled bridges in the nation have problems, they're structurely deficient. Bridges like the 51 World (ph) Tappan Zee Bridge in New York. More than 135,000 cross daily. And the Quinnipiac Bridge in Connecticut, 50-years-old. It was designed to handle over 80,000 cars and trucks daily, but it's actually carrying more than 140,000 a day.

STEPHEN FLYNN, AUTHOR, "EDGE OF DISASTER": We're absolutely not doing what needs to be done to make sure our bridges are adequately maintained, are safe.

SIMON: Stephen Flynn wrote "Edge of Disaster," examining our nation's aging infrastructure, including bridges.

FLYNN: It's very clear that we have to fix the bridges and keep them adequately maintained because they really are marvels of engineering in many cases. But when they fail, they really fail. And so, we can -- it's not just loss of life risk, which is of course, a real tragedy. It is that these are the true life lines in many cases of our cities.

SIMON: Some states are worse off than others. Federal data shows more than a third of bridges in New York, West Virginia and Vermont are structurely deficient or functionally obsolete. The same goes for Connecticut, Oklahoma, North Carolina, and Hawaii.

Pennsylvania is even worse, at nearly 40 percent. That state has 30 of the same design as the collapsed Minneapolis bridge. And in Rhode Island, 53 percent, more than half the bridges there.

(on camera): Bridges in western states tend to do better than other parts of the country. One reason, the bridges are newer, but climate also plays a major factor.

(voice-over): Professor Ehsani says bridges in colder climates corrode more quickly.

EHSANI: The reason primarily is because of the de-icing chemicals that we use every winter to keep those roadways clean.

SIMON: Federal officials say it would cost $461 billion to fix America's bridges and roadways. The tragedy in Minneapolis may have provided the political and emotional will finally to take action.

Dan Simon, CNN, Tucson, Arizona.


WHITFIELD: So, what is the anatomy of a bridge, how easily can it bend?

CNN's Rick Sanchez goes on assignment to find out.


RICK SANCHEZ, CNN ANCHOR: It's important to note that every single time something goes over this bridge, the bridge has a little bit of movement. Not much, very little, but now imagine that movement occurring millions and millions of times. That is what causes fatigue.


WHITFIELD: And this is a report that you want to see before you drive over another bridge. Join Rick Sanchez tonight, 10:00 p.m. Eastern, 7:00 Pacific.

A dispute over plans for this year's memorial service honoring September 11th victims. Some family members are upset that the service has been moved to a park near the World Trade Center. New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg says Ground Zero is not safe for a large public gathering because of construction. He'll meet with family members next week to discuss their concerns.

A bill to make U.S. airports and seaports safer signed into law by President Bush. It carries out many recommendations from the 9/11 commission. The law requires the screening of all cargo on passenger planes within three years. It sets a five-year goal for scanning all container ships for nuclear devices.

A reminder, stay tuned to CNN day and night for the most reliable news about your security.

Afghanistan's president heading to Camp David tomorrow for a meeting with President Bush. The topic likely to top their agenda, the battle against Taliban and al Qaeda members in Afghanistan and in northern Pakistan.

Hamid Karzai sat down with CNN's Wolf Blitzer for an exclusive, Late Edition interview. Wolf asked him about the 21 South Koreans held hostage by Taliban militants in Afghanistan.


PRESIDENT HAMID KARZAI, AFGHANISTAN: We want the safe release of the Koreans taken hostage by terrorists in Afghanistan. These terrorists, as you know, mostly have a foreign origin, foreign backing, but since the hostage-taking took place in Afghanistan, it brings us a bad name.


WHITFIELD: The Bush administration is taking a new step to fight illegal immigration by targeting businesses that hire illegal workers.

CNN's Casey Wian reports on the new initiative and what its critics are saying.


CASEY WIAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Within two weeks, the Department of Homeland Security will publish new regulations requiring employers to fire illegal alien workers using phony Social Security numbers. Current policy allows employers to ignore letters from the Social Security administration, warning that a worker's number is not valid.

Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff demonstrated one eligibility verification system in June.

MICHAEL CHERTOFF, HOMELAND SECURITY SECRETARY: What's bringing most of these people in is illegal work, and the only way to prevent that illegal work from being offered is to require the employers to use a system like this one.

WIAN: A Homeland Security spokesman, while refusing to discuss specifics, says the new regulations will lay out very serious consequences and eliminate any ambiguity over the responsibility employers have to verify Social Security numbers.

Skeptics say the system may encourage illegal aliens to steal identities, rather than use bogus Social Security numbers.

T.J. BONNER, NATIONAL BORDER PATROL COUNCIL: It's really naive to believe that people who are paying smugglers thousands of dollars, risking their lives walking across through our deserts are not going to pay a few hundred, or perhaps even thousand more in order to obtain these documents so that they can get the holy grail: a job in the United States.

WIAN: DHS says the new regulations will be combined with more frequent work site raids by Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents, and give ICE another tool to prove an employer is flagrantly hiring illegal aliens. Some employers complain restrictions on cheap, illegal alien labor could drive them out of business or out of the country.

The American Immigration Lawyers Association told reporters on a conference call, "It's a terrible choice that we're putting employers into."

The National Council of La Raza says, "increased levels of immigration raids in workplaces and also in neighborhoods, separating parents from their children in many cases, it's a pretty ugly environment out there."

They predicted the crackdown will drive more illegal alien workers underground.

(on camera): Cecilia Munos (ph) of the National Council of La Raza also says the Latino community is pretty angry about increased enforcement actions and the failure of so-called comprehensive immigration reform. She says Latinos are going to mobilize with voter registration efforts, and by exposing bigotry, adding that her community believes the gloves really need to come off.

Casey Wian, CNN, Los Angeles.

(END VIDEOTAPE) WHITFIELD: Monsoon season in south Asia. Floodwaters are on the rise and hundreds of people are dead, and millions more out of their homes. Details straight ahead.

Plus, a country with very little to celebrate, welcomes home a group of national heroes.


CHRIS MCGINNIS, EXPEDIA.COM: A general tip to remember is that Europe is much more formal than the United States. So, you know, if there's ever a question, it's better to dress up instead of dress down. Avoid bright colors, you know, consider packing black, khaki and navy. These are colors that'll help you blend in.

Also, when it comes to shoes, try not to wear the typically American bright white athletic shoes. Europeans wear athletic shoes when they participate in sports, they don't wear them casually like we do.

Men should almost always wear long pants when they're in Europe, except when they're beach side, it's OK to wear shorts. Children typically wear shorts in Europe, but men almost always wear long pants.

OK, the things that scream tourists are walking around with a water bottle in your hand, videotaping, excessive videotaping of everything.



WHITFIELD: It's a sizzling summer in most parts of the country. Reynolds Wolf is in the weather center.

Is it sizzling everywhere?


WHITFIELD: Well, parts of south Asia, well, they are being ravaged by some of the region's worst flooding in recent history. Among the hard-hit areas, eastern India and much of Bangladesh. Hundreds of deaths are being reported. An estimated 10 million people are now homeless or cut off from their villages, and there's little or no access to food or healthcare. The flooding triggered by monsoon rains.

Help! Mom! There are liberals under the bed! What kind of title is that? It's a bedtime story. We'll give you details straight ahead.


REYNOLDS WOLF, AMS METEOROLOGIST: I'm Reynolds Wolf with a look at today's allergy report. At any spot on the map where you happen to see orange or yellow would indicate high traces of ragweed, of oak, and even some dust. So, if you are, say, in the central Plains, the central Rockies, or in the western half of the Great Lakes, keep the tissue handy.

But, if you happen to be in the Northern Plains where you see blue or even green on the map, even parts of central Texas or parts of the southeast, in the northeast, well, the air is cleaner, and you'll have an easier day.



WHITFIELD: Presidential politics now and the power of the blog. Most of the Democratic candidates gathered to address a convention of liberal bloggers in Chicago today. That includes top-tier candidates, Senators Hillary Rodham Clinton and Barack Obama and former senator, John Edwards.

Political observers say it's evidence of the influence of bloggers in the presidential race. More than 1,500 bloggers are expected to attend the yearly coast (ph) convention.

And on the Republican side, Senator John McCain holds a town hall meeting in Iowa today. The GOP presidential candidates take part in a debate tomorrow in Demoines, Iowa. And they'll be taking questions from the voters in the CNN/YouTube debate, and that's next month.

Send in your questions for the Republican candidates at That event is coming at you this fall.

Politics make strange bed fellows and even stranger bedtime stories.

CNN's Ted Rowlands takes a look now.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Help! Mom! There are liberals under my bed!

TED ROWLANDS, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Believe it or not, that's the title of a children's book, one of several with a political message aimed at kids.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: And with that, the liberals took over Tommy and Lou's stands.

ROWLANDS: The main characters Tommy and Lou, lose their lemonade stand because of "liberals," including a Ted Kennedy lookalike and a character named Congresswoman Klunkton (ph), who resembles Hillary Clinton. In the story, Tommy and Lou are legislated out of business.

ERIC JACKSON, WORLD AHEAD PUBLISHING: It has some liberals who just coincidentally look like Ted Kennedy and Hillary Clinton that try to tax and regulate a lemonade stand. ROWLANDS: Eric Jackson is the publisher of this book, and two other conservative children's books, including, "Hollywood's in My Hamper," and "The 9th Circuit Nabbed the Nativity." Jackson says he doesn't think elementary school aged kids are too young for partisan politics.

JACKSON: A lot of parents are looking for a book that represents their conservative or traditional point of view.

ROWLANDS: It's not just conservatives, the other side is doing it too.

JEREMY ZILBER, AUTHOR, "WHY MOMMY IS A DEMOCRAT": Democrats make sure everyone is treated fairly, just like mommy does.

ROWLANDS: Jeremy Zilber (ph) wrote, "Why Mommy is a Democrat," which he sells mainly over the Internet from his house in Madison, Wisconsin. His book tells children that Democrats are just like mommy, they are nice to everyone, they make sure sick people can see a doctor and, according to the book, they make sure we're always safe.

ZILBER: We teach them science, we teach them math, we teach them history, we teach them ...

ROWLANDS (on camera): All of that is factual. Isn't it? I mean this is not factual, in that Democrats aren't all these great things.

ZILBER: Well, I think this is -- it's certainly based on fact.

ROWLANDS (voice-over): The fact is, both sides believe their political message is so important that it's worth delivering to children. According to a children's book expert at the University of Wisconsin, none of the books are very well written for young readers.

KATHLEEN HORNING, UNIV. OF WISCONSIN AT MADISON: I can't really imagine a child wanting, "Help! Mom, Hollywood's in My Hamper," for example, read multiple times.

ROWLANDS (on camera): Political messages in children's books is nothing new. More than 20 years ago, Dr. Seuss did it in the "Butter Battle Book," the story of the Zooks (ph) and the Yuks (ph), neighbors that build up competing arsenals, mimicking a nuclear arms race.

(voice-over): While this wave of books takes partisanship to what some think is a disturbing level, those behind the books, from both the left and the right, disagree.

JACKSON: Our response to that is that this is for parents to decide.

ZILBER: No child is forced to read this book. We all agree that parents have the right to tell their children this is what I believe about the world.

ROWLANDS: Whether it's right or left.

Ted Rowlands, CNN, Madison, Wisconsin.


WHITFIELD: Well how about this, taking a break from war. Can the world's most popular sport soften the sectarian violence in Iraq? We'll have a look.


WHITFIELD: Each team member gets $10,000 and diplomatic passports, overall, getting the VIP treatment today. The holders of the Asia Cup title giving Iraqis something to celebrate.

CNN's Dan Rivers reports from Baghdad.


DAN RIVERS, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Mobbed by adoring fans the second they stepped off the plane, the Iraqi soccer team arrives home as champions. Dancing for joy, under the crossed swords that symbolized Saddam's fear and repression. The footballers achieving something few Iraqi politicians have ever managed, winning the genuine love and respect of most Iraqis.

(on camera): A team that has united the country has returned victorious and the Iraqis are ecstatic to see them.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Very happy today, very happy.

RIVERS: What do you think of seeing the team?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Well, very happy, very happy for the -- these people, this big happy (ph).

RIVERS (voice-over): But everywhere, heavily armed U.S. and Iraqi soldiers. The celebration was inside the Green Zone and only the privileged few could see their team close up. And everyone here knew there was a very real threat of mortar or rocket attacks. But some felt the danger was worth it. They were simply overwhelmed by it all.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: So happy for this celebration. It's -- I can't speak more, but ...

RIVERS (on camera): Your face says it all.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes, I feel so happy.