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Meat Recall; Manhunt in Video Sex Casee; Gingrich Officially Out of Race

Aired September 29, 2007 - 16:00   ET


FREDRICKA WHITFIELD, CNN, ANCHOR: Up next in the NEWSROOM, if you have beef that looks like this in this kind of container and it's in your freezer, then you need to think twice before you eat it. It could be among 21 million pounds of potentially contaminated meat.
And take a look at this picture. This guy is the subject of a nationwide manhunt and a suspect in a child sex abuse case police call one of the most gruesome ever.

Plus, a new development in the race for the White House. Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich says his mind is made up.

You're in the CNN NEWSROOM, I'm Fredricka Whitfield.

So far, at least eight states are reporting potential E. coli poisoning. Three cases such cases are confirmed, 22 are under investigation. The source of the problem, a meat plant in New Jersey where Jim Acosta is standing by live. Jim, more than 21 million pounds of beef?

JIM ACOSTA, CNN, CORRESPONDENT: That's a lot of beef, Fredricka, that's right. If people are thinking about having a weekend barbecue, before they fire up the grill, they may want to check what they have in the freezer. That's because this recall mainly affects frozen ground beef patties, hamburger patties. And this is a significant recall. From all estimates, the third largest recall of meat in history. You're right, 21.7 million pounds of ground beef all produced out of this company here in Elizabeth, New Jersey, the Topps Meat Company. And basically the concern here is E. coli. As you mentioned, three people confirmed sickened by this meat and perhaps as many as 25 people in eight states and while that's not a significant number of people sickened, it is the sheer volume of this meat that we're talking about that is such a concern to officials. And federal and state officials say you need to check what you have in your freezer, pull that frozen meat out and take a look at it and make sure whether or not it has this information on the packaging. And basically, it's a packaging, U.S.D.A. number that is basically put on all of these products, whether they're sold under any brand. Topps Meat produces ground beef for various brands that you'll find in your supermarkets across the country, but it's this U.S.D.A. number, 9748. And if it also carries a sell by or best used date of September 25, 2007 to September 25th, 2008, what state and federal health officials are saying is that if you have that frozen ground beef in your refrigerator, it's time to pitch it.

CLAUDIO HUTTON, NY STATE DEPT OF HEALTH: This is the first case we had in New York where one of the patients had leftover hamburger at home that we could take and test. And that hamburger tested positive for E. coli in a very particular strain that usually isn't seen in this state.

ACOSTA: What's interesting about all of this is that a spokesperson for Topps Meat here in New Jersey has said that because of the way consumers eat these products, it's very likely that most of the hamburger meat out there that is affected by this recall has already been consumed. But because there are some people, as a state official just mentioned, because there are some people who may have still have this in the freezer, they need to go in there and check it out and make sure it has or does not have that information on it so they can get rid of it. And I should add that we also tried to talk to a U.S.D.A. official here on the scene that we ran into just a little while ago, but he had no comment. Fredricka.

WHITFIELD: All right. Jim Acosta, thank you so much for that update from New Jersey. In the meantime, here is a statement from Topps Meats. The Agriculture Department is getting updates from the CDC and state health departments on their investigations. It says, that we are cooperating with them on the investigation for these cases. We are working with them to ensure the safety of those families and all customers. This statement now coming from Topps.

And a bit later we'll be talking live with a woman who is actually suing Wal-Mart, one of the chains that actually sell Topps products. Her claim is she actually did get sick from consuming this product. That's coming up later on here in the NEWSROOM.

Meantime, law enforcement officials tracking a child molester suspect they have never seen anything like this. And that's all that they would say about the videotape that led yesterday to a girl who was 3 years old when the crime happened. Here's the man that they're looking for, 37-year-old Chester Arthur Stiles. His last known place of residence, Las Vegas. With the latest on the case, live from Las Vegas now, let's check in with CNN's Kara Finnstrom.

KARA FINNSTROM: Well, detectives had said their first priority was going to be finding this little girl and making sure that she's safe. They've now done that and they are pushing ahead with the manhunt for her attacker. Just behind me, you could see this is the Las Vegas Police Department, some of their investigative offices. They are working together with the FBI to try and find the suspect that has been named in the case. Late yesterday, they said the man they are looking for is Chester Arthur Stiles who, Fredricka, you just mentioned. Interestingly enough, this had been named as a person of interest before they found this little girl, somebody that authorities wanted to speak with for numerous other reasons. Once they found this little girl and spoke with her mother, she confirmed that this was a distant family friend; someone that this little girl had had contact with. This is also someone that the FBI is familiar with because they had been looking for him in connection with another case. He's also wanted on charges of lewd conduct with a 14-year-old, a totally unrelated case. So, this is someone that the FBI says they've been looking for, someone, they say, is dangerous and someone they desperately want to find and speak with. Yesterday we spoke with the district attorney in nearby Nye County. He's also been helping with this huge investigation. He has been collecting information from numerous sources about Stiles. And gave us a brief sketch of what this man's personality is like.


BOB BECKETT, NYE COUNTY, NEVADA: We were told that he claims to have been a Navy Seal or was a Navy Seal. He's not a gambler. He's not a drinker. He's a survivalist type. He can live without water or electricity. It doesn't bother him a bit. He's a martial artist. He claims to be black belt. He's very paranoid. He's very handy with weapons and he always carries a knife on him.


FINNSTROM: The detectives now know that this videotape was actually made four years ago when this little girl was three. She is now seven. They say when they found her, that she was happy and they say that she appeared to be happy, that she was safe with her mother. But they also say that this is an investigation that is going to continue into the circumstances of how any signs of this abuse could not have been spotted earlier. And they assure the people in this community that social workers and investigators will also be following up very closely with this little girl to make sure she heals properly and is properly cared for. Fredricka.

WHITFIELD: All right. So disturbing all the way around. Thanks so much, Kara Finnstrom. Meantime, if you are a parent, in particular, we hope that you'll stick around to hear a therapist's view on how to spot a child molester. We'll speak with a well known consultant of the FBI. That's coming up next hour.

And now to the worsening situation in Myanmar. The United Nations is trying to quell the brutal government crackdown on pro-democracy demonstrators by opening a diplomatic dialogue with the ruling military junta. Today, we're getting word out of the secretive Asian nation of only sporadic outbreaks of violence between the soldiers and the protesters. That's good news. Meantime, CNN's John Vause has the very latest from neighboring Thailand.

JOHN VAUSE, CNN, CORRESPONDENT: There's an incredible security presence on the streets of Yangon but despite that, one source inside the country has told CNN about an incredibly dangerous game of cat and mouse between demonstrators and security forces. According to the source, at any one time, about 100 or so protesters have been facing off against the army and against the police. These protesters have been taunting the soldiers and the police officers. They've been yelling abuse. They've been chanting slogans. And then, as the security forces move in to arrest them, these protesters scatter, they run away and hide. That is the sign for a secondary protest. Apparently a red flag, a fighting peacock flag, which is the symbol of the pro-democracy movement in 1988, that goes up, hundreds fall in behind. They start marching. They start chanting Buddhist prayers and then the police and the army turn their attention to those protesters. They, too, run away and hide. All of the demonstrators regroup at another location and it starts all over again. Today, though, there was almost no sign of any monks on the streets of Yangon. Many have been rounded up. Hundreds have been arrested. Others have been confined to their monasteries. It seems the days of unrest, the military is determined to regain control but without blood shed, at least in public. And one of the reasons for that could be because the U.N. special envoy is now in Myanmar's capital. He is there to try and bring talks between the government and the pro- democracy movement. John Vause, CNN, Bangkok, Thailand.

WHITFIELD: From this country, the White House is keeping a watchful eye on the crisis in Myanmar, or as most people know it, Burma. Here's a statement now from the First Lady Laura Bush on behalf of the president. "President Bush calls on all nations, especially those nations closest to Burma that have the most influence with the regime to support the aspirations of the Burmese people.... We share President Karzai's desire for an end to the senseless violence that continues to take the lives of innocent Afghans and U.S. forces."

That comment as well.

Meantime, an invitation to the Taliban, from the president of Afghanistan. Hamid Karzai says he'll give Taliban militants positions in his government if they stop their attacks. Karzai also says he's willing to hold talks with reclusive Taliban leader Mullah Omar and a top Taliban war lord.


HAMID KARZAI, PRESIDENT OF AFGHANISTAN (though translator): If a group of Taliban or a number of Taliban come to me and say, president, we want a department in this or in that ministry or we want a position as deputy minister and we don't want to fight anymore. If there will be a demand and a request like that to me, I will accept it because I want conflicts and fighting to end in Afghanistan.


WHITFIELD: And now a spokesman for the National Security Council responded this way. That earlier comment you saw referring to Karzai was not the first lady, but, instead, it was Gordon Johndroe's comment. "We share President Karzai's desire for an end to the senseless violence that continues to take the lives of innocent Afghans and U.S. forces."

We apologize for that.

Karzai's offer to the Taliban came just hours after this bloody bombing in Kabul. Official say a Taliban suicide bomber blew up a military bus. 28 soldiers and two civilians were killed. Dozens of others were wounded.

Coming up, he's a key player in a murder mystery at sea. Apparently, he was no angel on land either. A closer look coming up next.

And you'll just have to read the pictures instead of hearing the words there. This little girl was surprised by her big brother, somebody she'd been writing to when he was in Iraq. Well, this surprise visit. More on that coming up.

Plus, someone needs to tell this one right here that you got to be a member to swim at the Y.


WHITFIELD: All right, a bail hearing for two men jailed in connection with the disappearance of the crew of the Joe Cool has been delayed until Tuesday now. The two hired the fishing boat for what was supposed to be an overnight cruise to the Bahamas. Well, now, four people are missing and presumed dead. Our David Mattingly has more on the man at the center of this mystery.


DAVID MATTINGLY, CNN, CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Before he and another man were found drifting in a life raft, caught up in an apparent multiple murder at sea, 35-year-old Kirby Archer was a wanted man, on the run from a tumultuous life in Arkansas.

MICHELLE ARCHER, WIFE: The way things have happened; it's just not the Kirby I knew.

MATTINGLY: Michelle archer is the wife he left behind, disappearing without a word in January, after allegedly stealing more than $92,000 from the Wal-Mart where he worked.

ARCHER: He's a total different person. It's like he doesn't care.

MATTINGLY: When he vanished, Archer was also under investigation in a case of child molestation. Archer denied the allegations and no charges have been filed.

CAPT. JODY DOTSON, LAWRENCE COUNTY SHERIFF'S DEPT.: When we talked to him, he was extremely cool and collected and we tried shaking him up but were unable to.

MICHELLE ROWE, EX-WIFE: Michelle Rowe, Archer's previous wife said she had taken custody of his two young sons and Archer vanished just days later

ROWE: I do think of him as a violent man and he's capable of anything.

MATTINGLY: And neither his ex nor his current wife has any idea where he's been for the last eight months. On Saturday, Archer and his 19- year-old companion, Guillermo Zaraboso paid $4,000 cash for what was supposed to be an overnight trip to the Bahamas on board the fishing boat, Joe Cool. The vessel was found abandoned drifting 160 miles off course near Cuba. The U.S. Army confirms to CNN that Archer, a former MP, once served in Guantanamo Bay in 1995. He was discharged in 2004 before moving to Arkansas.

ARCHER: What I knew if he was alive that more than likely he would be going to Miami or Cuba, because that's where his closest friends are. MATTINGLY: Authorities doubt the story Zaraboso that pirates murdered the crew of four, then let the two men go. The Coast Guard has called off the search with no sign of Captain Jack Branam, his wife Kelly, nor the crewmates, Michael (Gammel) and Samuel (Carey).

LT. COMMANDER, CHRIS O'NEILL, U.S. COAST GUARD: We're confident in our search plan. We're confident in the abilities of our air crews, on our boat crews and we believe that if the crew of the Joe Cool was in that search area, whether they'd been on the land, on an island somewhere or if they'd been in the water, we would have found them by now.

MATTINGLY: David Mattingly, CNN, Atlanta.


WHITFIELD: In Charleston, South Carolina, two people plunged to their deaths Friday when the SUV they were in flipped several times, ran off a bridge and into the marsh. About 90 people... police think the driver lost control when the vehicle blew a tire. One victim was pronounced dead at the scene. The other died on the way to the hospital.

New questions arise after yesterday's aborted American Airlines flight from St. Louis to Chicago. The pilot turned the plane around, a minute into the trip after the jet engine caught fire. And now there's word the flight had been delayed because of possible trouble with that same engine. All 142 people on board were safely evacuated from the MD-80 after touching down back in St. Louis.

And Florida waterways are known for the chance of a gator encounter, but a YMCA pool? This 3 1/2 footer turned up Friday morning at the Coco Beach Y giving folks quite the scare. Reptile wranglers were called in to corral the critter, which they did, with plans on returning it to the wild.

And back now to one of our top stories about a huge beef recall affecting eight states, mostly in the northeast here in this country. Topps Meats have recalled many, many pounds, millions of pounds of meat, mostly in the form of frozen hamburger patties. Well, joining us now from Ft. Lauderdale, Florida is a young woman who is actually in the middle of a lawsuit now claiming that she actually did consume one of these Topps products and was sent to the hospital, in fact. Her name is Samantha Safranek, and her father, David Safranek, is also with her. The family says that she suffered near-fatal kidney failure after she says she ate the Topps beef. Good to see both of you.


WHITFIELD: Well, Samantha, let me begin with you. Why don't you kind of take me back as to what happened, what you were actually feeling after you say you ate this meat?

SAMANTHA SAFRANEK, DIAGNOSED WITH E. COLI: Well, it was the following Tuesday after the Friday that I ate the burger that I started beginning having cramps. And I didn't think much of it but the cramps started becoming more severe to the point where I was just in the fetal position the whole time. And that's when my mom, she took me to the emergency room.

WHITFIELD: And so right away, were doctors, technicians there able to kind of put it together that you were symptomatic of E. coli poisoning or something like a food poisoning?

SAFRANEK: Well, after they did the CAT scan, they said that my bowel was inflamed. So, they thought I had Crohn's disease. So, they did testing for that first. But then when test results came back, that's when they discovered that I had E. coli.

And did you actually have a sample of the meat, too? We talked to a health care official earlier who was talking about you know, in a couple of cases, that people actually still had some of the meat so that doctors or specialists were able to make the pinpoint right away. Were you one of those people?



SAFRANEK: We had the burgers in the freezer and then they tested it from there.

WHITFIELD: OK. So let me talk to your dad now. Mr. Safranek, you know, what was this like for you and your wife? Your daughter is, you know, doubled over in pain. And you take her to the hospital and there really was this search to try to figure out what happened. What was going on through your mind at that point?

DAVID SAFRANEK, SAMANTHA'S FATHER: It was bad because the first emergency room we took her to, the doctor that was treating her there knew something was wrong. And that's why he right away he sent her by ambulance to the local children's hospital here and right away they started testing her there because he knew it was something more than just an inflamed bowel.

WHITFIELD: Did anybody else in the family get sick?

DAVID SAFRANEK: No, she was the only one who ate the hamburger.

WHITFIELD: Oh, I see. And so now you've taken it a step further. You have -- you're challenging Wal-Mart, the place in which you actually purchased this product, right, and are you also legally challenging Topps Meats?

DAVID SAFRANEK: Not at this moment, no.

WHITFIELD: Why the challenge to Wal-Mart?

DAVID SAFRANEK: That's still to be determined.

WHITFIELD: And why are you challenging legally Wal-Mart?

DAVID SAFRANEK: Well, they had the product out there. They were liable for the product and they should have notified. Locally, they took it off the shelves when my wife contacted the Florida Department of Health. All they did was take it off the shelves. There was nothing further done about that except taking it off the local store shelves.

WHITFIELD: OK, all right. David Safranek, I'm sorry we're out of time. I have to cut the segment short. Samantha Safranek as well, thanks to both of you. We appreciate your time and hope you're feeling better, Samantha.



WHITIFIELD: And Wal-Mart is not commenting on the lawsuit. We did ask them. The company has issued a statement, however, about the recall as a whole, and here it is, saying, "as soon as we learned of the expanded Topps Meat recall, we directed our stores to remove affected products from our meat cases and placed an electronic block at registers in our stores." That from Wal-Mart, which is now the subject of a lawsuit involving the Safranek family there in Florida.

Coming up, this weekend marks September's last hoorah. How is the weather looking, Jacqui?

JACQUI JERAS, CNN, METEOROLOGIST: Looking actually a little winterish across some parts of the west. Also, find out as we turn that calendar page over to October, what that means for the tropics? We've got two storms out there. Details are coming up.

WHITFIELD: And somehow the term bundle of joy, I don't know, that doesn't come like trickling off the tongue there. As a bundle, yes. What is the story behind this newborn weighing in at 17 pounds? It's hard to understand, healthy. Well, yes.


WHITFIELD: So who says big girls don't cry? They were so glad this one did. So huge news in the small southern Siberian town of Aleisk that's where a 42-year-old Russian woman gave birth to this 17-pound baby girl. She is being called the biggest baby ever born there. No surprise there. And both mom and the stork deserve a lot of credit for this delivery. We're glad to say, for the mother's sake, the baby was born via cesarean section.

All right, let's talk about the weather and some surprises on that front. Well, surprises for some who don't live, I guess, in the northwest because of the snow. Maybe they did expect it.

JERAS: I know.

WHITFIELD: Wait, surprises are actually out there in the Atlantic.

JERAS: I don't know surprise but, you know, I think things are going on. You're going to have to tell me in the break, by the way, how does that happen? How do you get to 17 pounds? WHITFIELD: A lot of eating.

JERAS: Is that the mother or gestational period? I don't know. Anyway, we could talk about that the whole day.

WHITFIELD: That was a big baby.

JERAS: It's a big baby. We'll talk later.


JERAS: These are little babies over here. They both got names. They were both born, so to speak, Karen and Melissa. But the good news is that they're both on the road to nowhere. These are in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean, both of which are expected to be weakening and even dissipating. Tropical depression Karen heading to the northwest right now with maximum winds, 35 miles per hour, will likely become a remnant low in the next 24 hours. We'll still want to watch that because it's entering an area of sheer right now, and that's why it's kind of fade out but once it gets beyond that, there's a small chance that we could see some re-development. So we'll continue to watch Karen. And Melissa is a tropical storm with 40 mile per hour wind, also heading on up towards the west-northwest. It should be dissipating for the same reason there's a lot of sheer out there. This really is as turn that calendar page over to October now. We really kind of see and this is the wrong map. I'm sorry. This is September. Well, it helps give the example. In September, we see what we call the Cape Verde hurricanes, where the majority of our major hurricanes do develop. And once we head into October, these all kind of cuts out and we see more development here into the western Caribbean and into the Gulf and then also into the southeast Atlantic. So still, my point is proven, even though that's not quite what I wanted to show you. Here across the west coast, however, we got a big storm system here across the nations mid section and another waiting in the wings. This was a snow producer in the Cascades yesterday and this will also be a snow producer as we head towards the weekend. Another note is that it's very windy ahead of it, so across the western high plains, be aware that winds could be gusting even up to 40, maybe 50 miles per hour. Fredricka.

WHITFIELD: All right, Jacqui. Thanks so much. Well, you know, today we're just full of surprises all the way around.

JERAS: We are.

WHITFIELD: And that's OK.


WHITFIELD: All right, well, this may have been a surprise to some on the political front. The will he or will he kind of question answered today by this man, former House Speaker Newt Gingrich, coming clean on his presidential plans. We'll tell you if there's another elephant in the room looking at a run for the White House.

And on the other side of the aisle, the two democratic front runners are neck and neck when it comes to one critical campaign resource. The details when we come right back in the NEWSROOM.


WHITFIELD: A political about-face. Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich now says he will not run for president. Just two days ago Gingrich said he'd try to raise $30 million by October 21 for a possible presidential run. And in a few moments, CNN's senior political analyst Bill Schneider will be explaining why the former lawmaker has changed his mind.

But first, something no campaign can live without, money. Third- quarter fundraising ends tomorrow. And CNN has learned on the Republican side Fred Thompson raised more than $7 million. John McCain will report more than $5 million in funds and Rudy Giuliani's campaign, well, they will only reveal that they expect to top all the GOP candidates.

Meantime, on the Democratic side, CNN has learned that Barack Obama will report between $18 to $19 million in the third quarter while Hillary Clinton's take is about the same, between $17 and $20 million.

So now back to the whole Newt Gingrich decision to stay out of the presidential race. Earlier I talked with CNN's senior political analyst Bill Schneider about the reason behind Gingrich's change of heart.


BILL SCHNEIDER, CNN ANALYST: Well, his organization says that legally it is not possible for him to remain head of American Solutions, which is his public affairs committee that just had its first conference in Atlanta to talk about solutions to national problems and at the same time solicit pledges for a presidential campaign. That legally he couldn't do both. So he decided to stick with American Solutions and influence the debate, influence the campaign without actually becoming a candidate.

WHITFIELD: So that certainly makes it sound like that was his independent or at least his company's independent decision, not necessarily the Republican Party discouraging him from entering the race.

SCHNEIDER: No, Newt is his own person. I think he just had to make a choice between the two exercises, either to explore issues and to try to influence the debate or to run himself, which would have been a whole different enterprise. So he decided to do it on the issues front. And he's trying to get the Republicans to become a party change, even change from President Bush, which is a lot of Republicans regard as kind of a burden for them in the next campaign.

And Newt Gingrich's slogan has been to rally the party for change. And he's been somewhat critical of the Bush record on that. So he's clearly trying to influence the debate.

WHITFIELD: So now I wonder, this is good for which of the nine Republican candidates? SCHNEIDER: All of them. But principally, I think, Giuliani and Thompson.

WHITFIELD: Fred Thompson, shaking things up or not?

SCHNEIDER: We are finding out that Fred Thompson is expected to report raising a little over, a lot over, maybe, we don't know, $7 million. If it's not much more than $7 million, that's not a terribly impressive figure, considering that Clinton and Obama are going to come in with about $20 million, they're saying. Thompson's $7 million plus will be more than McCain is expecting, $5 million plus, but it certainly is not an overwhelming figure for someone who is supposed to really sweep Republicans off their feet.

WHITFIELD: But take into account the late start.

SCHNEIDER: He has gotten a late start, but he's been raising money since June. And if he doesn't support a significantly higher take than that, a lot of Republicans will say, well, we really expected bigger things.

WHITFIELD: Let's talk a little bit about the Democrats, then. You mentioned the Obama, the Clinton, certainly the front runners and also frontrunners in terms of getting that money. But it's Obama who seems to outpace Hillary Clinton, right, in terms of how quickly his camp, he can help get those donations rolling in.

SCHNEIDER: Well, yeah. He surprised a lot of observers earlier this year when he raised more money from individual contributions, outpacing Hillary Clinton in the amount of money raised. Although I should quickly add that at the end of the second quarter, the end of June, Clinton had slightly more cash on hand because she had spent not quite as much as Obama.

But the two of them are really very much at the top of the fund- raising list. Beating all of the Democrats and Republicans. That rarely happens. But they are outpacing Republicans in fundraising. Now the third quarter is about to end September 30, Sunday night. The reports will be out very quickly after that. And it looks like Obama and Clinton are going to be in a very tight race, each of them estimating around $20 million. Of course, we don't know if those estimates are going to hold true. But they're both estimating about $20 million. That's lower than in the second quarter. But fund- raising often slows down over the summer.


WHITFIELD: All right, that was Bill Schneider, part of the best political team on television.

How about this, raising a glass and women may be knowingly raising their chances for cancer. Dr. Bill Lloyd breaks down the research in our "Living Well" segment.

Plus, one American soldier showing a lot of class by giving his little sister one big surprise at school. Big smile straight ahead later in the NEWSROOM.



UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Researchers have reprogrammed adult stem cells in myself to act like embryonic stem cells, which can duplicate any cell in the body.

KATHRIN PLATH, UCLA BROAD STEM CELL CENTER: We were able to take the skin cells of the mouse, add four genes to them and three weeks later these genes turned these stem cells back to an embryonic mouse, embryonic stem cell.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Although many years away, Plath hopes to replicate this result in humans. The hope is that this new method will allow scientists to create a supply of cells tailor made from patients without having to create and destroy embryos.

PLATH: You can take skin cells from a patient who has diabetes or Parkinson's, you pull those back to embryonic stem cells and then you could transplant both into the patient and hopefully that would help to repair or take care of the problem these patients have.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Plath and her colleagues' ultimate goal is to get rid of certain diseases altogether.



WHITFIELD: So federal health officials are considering a ban on over- the-counter cold medicines. Health experts say many popular cough and cold remedies do more harm than good, especially to toddlers and preschoolers. The FDA is examining a safety review of the roughly 800 products on the market. A decision is expected next month.

And President Bush says he will not back off his promise to veto a funding boost for a children's health insurance program. The government program called SCHIP covers children from low-income families. Well, Congress passed a measure that would boost funding by $35 billion over the next five years and in his weekly radio address today, the president called the increase irresponsible. Giving the Democratic response a 12-year-old boy, who was covered by SCHIP after being severely injured by a car accident.


GRAEME ROST, BALTIMORE, MD: I don't know why president bush wants to stop kids who really need help from SCHIP. All I know is I have some really good doctors that took great care of me when I was sick, and I'm glad I could see them because of the children's health program. I just hope the president will listen to my story and help other kids to be as lucky as me.

(END AUDIO CLIP) WHITFIELD: Meantime, in our "Living Well" segment today, a look at the link between breast cancer and alcohol. We know that alcohol in moderation can have healthy benefits, at least that's what we've been told, right? Well, now researchers say women who drink daily are raising their cancer risk. Dr. Bill Lloyd joins us with details on this study and talk about killer diet. That last hour we had a special on killer diet and now women and alcohol, other problems. So what can we consume these days?

DR. BILL LLOYD, UC-DAVIS MEDICAL CENTER: Absolutely nothing. Air and a little water, maybe, if the water is filtered.

No, Fredricka, when you talk about alcohol, you're right. Moderation has to prevail. And a little bit of wine every day is healthy. I haven't seen any reports that talk about the health benefits of vodka, for example, but a little bit of wine is good. This came out of Barcelona. And as you know, we've been looking at the connection between alcohol and cancer, specifically breast cancer, for about 25 years.

But now this latest study shows it doesn't matter what you drink, whether you drink a lot of beer, a lot of wine or a lot of whiskey, you put yourself at risk. Specifically three or more drinks a day puts a woman's risk of developing breast cancer 30 percent, perhaps more greater risk of breast cancer compared to teetotalers.

WHITFIELD: Wow. So you said this study came out of Barcelona but it really is the European women or the European culture where, especially, wine consumption is a daily thing. So it's a surprise that a study with a finding like this would come out of a region where there are so many stories of women and men living so long and they talk about smoking every day and drinking every day.

LLOYD: It just points to the fact that there are many factors that contribute to the development of cancer. Just one precise point. The meeting was in Barcelona, but the doctors presenting it were from Oakland, California from the Kaiser Group. So these were epidemiologists. These were not breast surgeons or cancer specialists. These are doctors who looked at numbers and I mean lots of numbers. They followed thousands of women that were inside this HMO system and they identified the drinkers from the nondrinkers and tracked the women who went on to develop breast cancer. And the women who had half a glass of wine or the equivalent in beer or whisky, they had a six to 10 percent jump in their risk of breast cancer. Bump it up to one to two drinks a day, it bumped it up to almost 20 percent more. Remember, it's only in association. They're not saying the alcohol actually caused the breast cancer.

WHITFIELD: All right. So now you've convinced me and probably everybody else out there that you want to lay off the alcohol if you are doing three glasses a day or more, especially. So what can we do, if anything to prevent or slow down, reduce the risks of a breast cancer?

LLOYD: You're right. You do the things that you can do. You can do the things that will lower your risk. So the number one risk factor are your genes, well you can't do much about your genes so you've got to look at other things. Estrogen exposure. Women that are taking long term doses of estrogen need to be careful and make sure that they see their doctors regularly, that they don't develop breast cancer.

Obesity is a risk factor for breast cancer. Get your weight down. Back off on the estrogen. And women who have had excess radiation, perhaps, for other diseases, are also at risk. So the number one thing you can do to protect yourself, Fredricka, is to get a routine mammogram because a mammogram is the smartest way to identify early breast changes.

WHITFIELD: Right. And apparently you've seen numbers that women are not getting those mammograms like they should be, right?

LLOYD: You're exactly right. Over the past five years, there's been a steady decline in women getting their mammograms. There's no women in America that can't get a mammogram. If you can't afford it, talk to your local health agency because the money is there. And a mammogram every year or every other year will find those early, treatable breast cancers.

WHITFIELD: Right. Lots of free programs now, lots of ways to get certificates so that there's no excuse so that you can't get a mammogram.

LLOYD: None at all.

WHITFIELD: OK. Dr. Bill Lloyd, thanks so much. Have a great weekend.

LLOYD: We'll talk again soon.


Well, coming up next, this is going to make you smile and maybe even tear up. A soldier shows a lot of class by giving his little sister a big surprise at school. That story next.


WHITFIELD: All right, much more of the NEWSROOM straight ahead with Tony Harris.

TONY HARRIS, CNN ANCHOR: You're sure rocking the house, as always, Fred. How are you doing?

WHITFIELD: I'm fine, how are you?

HARRIS: You have to finish up here because it is an absolutely beautiful day in a lot of parts of the country, but I will tell you, here in Atlanta, woo!

WHITFIELD: It is Gorgeous. It's like San Diego is all the time, right?

HARRIS: Right. So you've got 10 minutes left? WHITFIELD: Yeah.

HARRIS: All right. So coming up at 5:00 ...

WHITFIELD: Who's counting the minutes?

HARRIS: Who's counting? We have got such a horrible story at 5:00 today. It's difficult to even explain it to you. This is a story of child abuse that will absolutely break your heart.

No, those are the Myanmar pictures. We'll talk about that in a second. But this is a young girl, five years old who the family, or investigators who were handling this case, well, she was used as a punching bag by the family. OK, a family of six. And this one will absolutely break your heart. That's coming up at the top of the hour with Kelli Arena. You will hear unbelievable details of this story. And the ultimate end for this girl is just devastating.

WHITFIELD: Oh, no, I was hoping you were going to say there was good news at the end of the story.

HARRIS: I wish I could, but I can't, Fred. It is a horrible story. But we have to tell the story because we have to get people aware. Leave the babies alone. And if you, as a neighbor, if you have anything to go on, you've got to turn that information over to the authorities so that they can get in and intervene as quickly as possible in these cases.

WHITFIELD: And there's something wrong out there.

HARRIS: There is.

WHITFIELD: Something really wrong out there. People need to be a lot more vigilant.


WHITFIELD: And that is kind of something that comes from people being educated about this very dark side of society of existence.

HARRIS: Yeah. So we'll share that story, Kelli Arena doing a remarkable piece for you at 5:00.

And then, we've been talking about Myanmar and the violence there in Myanmar. I know you've been following here in the NEWSROOM. There are a lot of folks asking what can we do, what can America do about this situation? And that all leads ultimately to the question, why should we care? Why should we care about what's going on?

WHITFIELD: Because it's all the way over there.

HARRIS: Yes, let Thailand deal with it, let China deal with it, let India deal with it. We can't police the world. So we will ask our guests that very question. Should we care? Why should we care? So those two stories.

WHITFIELD: Humanity being at the core of those questions.

HARRIS: Sure, absolutely.

WHITFIELD: Maybe the answers too.

HARRIS: So wrap up your show and get on outside and enjoy yourself. It's a wonderful day.

WHITFIELD: All right, Tony, you guys have a great time.

HARRIS: Absolutely. Thanks.

WHITFIELD: All right, well, now a story that will, again, make you very happy actually.

And it will also bring a few tears but in a good way. It comes from Colorado where a young girl wrote a school paper about her big brother. And she thought he was still serving in Iraq. We get the story now from reporter Heidi McGuire of Denver affiliate KUSA.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Go ahead and sit down somewhere.

HEIDI MCGUIRE, KUSA CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Just two more classes to go and the week is done for these Deer Creek Middle School students.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: James, off my desk, bud.

MCGUIRE: There is a yawn here and one there from the eighth grader Cory Yano (ph). It's language arts period and it's a pretty typical Friday, or so these students think.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Hard to keep it in but very, very exciting.

MCGUIRE: You see, Nicole's teacher, Mr. Auger (ph) is in on a very big surprise. Nicole's big brother Adam is in the next room.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: "Fighting for the red, white and blue is what he does."

MCGUIRE: Ironically enough, just two weeks ago she wrote a paper about him. And she has no idea he's listening.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: "Although he will be away from his family ..."

MCGUIRE: And she has no idea he's listening.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: "He lies his head on his pillow at night."

MCGUIRE: Honestly, right about now she's feeling kind of embarrassed the teacher is reading her paper to the class. Then there's this, sneaking in from the back of the room, it's Adam.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Oh, my God. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We wanted to surprise Nicole with her brother coming home.

MCGUIRE: It's been more than a year since Nicole's seen her brother. She's speechless. And that's OK because her best friend feels the same.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Can't even put it in words. It's happiness at its best.

MCGUIRE: Heidi McGuire, 9 News.


WHITFIELD: And take a look at this. Happy Cubs fans. Wrigley (inaudible) in October. More on the clinch coming up.

But first, today's news quiz. Myanmar has been in the news a lot lately. The country is the word's second-largest producer of what illicit crop? The answer when we come right back.


WHITFIELD: All right, well, before the break we told you Myanmar is the world's second-largest producer of an illicit crop and the question was what is it? If you said open opium, you are correct.


CROWD: Yeah!


WHITFIELD: I say they're pretty happy. Triumph in the streets of the Windy City. The Chicago Cubs beat the Cincinnati Reds and clenched the national league central division title. It's the team's first trip to the playoffs since 2003 , they year they came so close, just five outs away from a world series win.

Die hard fans -- this -- or at least hope, perhaps, that this is the year the Cubbies shake the infamous Billy Goat curse. The team has not been to a world series since 1945.

They are happy. All right. From the CNN Center in Atlanta I'm Fredricka Whitfield. And the next hour of the NEWSROOM with Tony Harris and Veronica De la Cruz starts right now.

TONY HARRIS, CNN ANCHOR: And up next in the NEWSROOM, where is Chester Stiles, he is the object of a nationwide manhunt and a suspect in a child sex abuse case police call one of the most gruesome ever.

VERONICA DE LA CRUZ, CNN ANCHOR: And millions of pounds of beef could be contaminated. If you've got this in your freezer, you might want to toss it, not eat it.

HARRIS: Yeah. DE LA CRUZ: Hello to you, I'm Veronica De la Cruz and you are in the CNN NEWSROOM.

HARRIS: And good to see you, everyone. I'm Tony Harris.

So far, at least, eight states are reporting potential e. coli poisoning. Three such cases are confirmed, 22 more under investigation. The source of the problem, a meat plant in New Jersey where our Jim Acosta is standing by live.

Jim, good to see you. More than 21 million pounds of this stuff we're talking about now, and that represents, correct me here if I'm incorrect, an expansion of an earlier recall.

JIM ACOSTA, CNN CORRESPONDENT: That's right, Tony. And the logical question that follows after that is where's the beef? Well, it may be lurking in some of your freezers, we should note to our viewers. Yes, if you're planning on having a barbecue this weekend, you may want to check what you're throwing out on the grill. This may be the third largest meat recall in U.S. history.