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Woman Dies in Police Custody; Blackwater Shootings; GM/UAW Agreement; Meat Recall; Campaign Cash
Aired October 1, 2007 - 06:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
JOHN ROBERTS, CNN ANCHOR: Airport autopsy. What happened in Phoenix when a woman died in police custody? Her family's search for answers.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BETSY GOTBAUM, CAROL ANNE GOTBAUM'S MOTHER-IN-LAW: This is obviously very, very difficult for us. We are dealing with it as best we can.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ROBERTS: Catastrophic eruption. The urgent effort to find those lost at sea after a volcano lights up overnight.
Plus, bad beef.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The kid eats the hamburger and then ends up almost dying.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ROBERTS: The expanding meat recall, the victims and the tough questions to the agency charged with keeping our food safe to eat, on this AMERICAN MORNING.
And good morning. Thanks very much for joining us as we kick off a brand new month, Monday, October the 1st. I'm John Roberts. A lot to get to this morning. A lot to make sense of for you as well.
KIRAN CHETRY, CNN ANCHOR: That's right. Good to see you, John. I'm Kiran Chetry.
We start with the bizarre and sad story of a woman who died in police custody at Sky Harbor Airport in Phoenix. She was a traveler trying to make a flight. Carol Anne Gotbaum was taken into custody, police say, because she became enraged when she missed her flight, arriving late to the gate, not allowed to board, rebooked on another flight. But police handcuffed her and took her to a holding room. Well, when they came back to check on her 10 to 15 minutes later, they say they found her dead. So what happened? Alina Cho joins us now with more on this story.
Hi, Alina. ALINA CHO, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Hey there, Kiran. Good morning.
You know, a lot that we don't know this morning. We can tell you an autopsy will be performed later today on the body of Carol Anne Gotbaum, but it could be up to 90 days before we get the results.
Now all of this started on Friday afternoon at Phoenix Airport, as you mentioned. Gotbaum was not allowed on her U.S. Airways flight to Tucson because she apparently got to the gate too late. Now according to several witnesses, the 45-year-old then started yelling and screaming and running around the gate area. Phoenix police were called to the scene. They eventually arrested her, hand cuffed her and then put her alone in a holding room in a terminal.
When they didn't hear her voice anymore, police say they went back to check on her and found her unconscious and not breathing. Police say they believe she may have tried to manipulate the handcuffs from the back to the front, got tangled up in the process and accidentally strangled herself.
Again, an autopsy will be performed later today. We're also waiting for news about any surveillance tape at the airport. But safe to say, Kiran, a lot more questions than answers this morning and, unfortunately, few people are talking.
CHETRY: Yes. And, as you said, it's such a bizarre situation, why she was put in a holding cell as opposed to taken somewhere. I mean if it was the local police that were called to the scene. And we also are learning a little bit more about exactly who she was, right, Alina?
CHO: That's right. Carol Anne Gotbaum, we're learning, lived in New York City, Kiran. She was married. She had three young children. She was also the step daughter-in-law of a New York City elected official. Her name is Betsy Gotbaum. And she spoke out over the weekend.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BETSY GOTBAUM, CAROL ANNE GOTBAUM'S MOTHER-IN-LAW: Carol was a wonderful, wonderful person. She was a wonderful mother. She was sweet and kind and loving.
At this moment, we are waiting the results of the investigation. We don't know any more than has been reported in the press.
This is obviously very, very difficult for us. We are dealing with it as best we can. My number one focus is those children and my stepson.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CHO: Well, that is obvious at this time. Now Gotbaum has pleaded for privacy for her family during this awful time. But, Kiran, just a bizarre story, an awful story. A lot of questions and a lot of people, especially the family, want some answers. CHETRY: All right. Maybe we'll hear more from authorities today.
Alina Cho, thank you.
ROBERTS: Coming up on three minutes after the hour.
A volcanic eruption overnight rocked a small island off of the coast of Yemen. No one lives on this island. It's tiny. It's only about two miles long. About 70 miles from Yemen out in the Red Sea.
But there are some military facilities there. It's used by the Yemeni government for naval control and observation. Witnesses described the eruption as catastrophic. You can see some video that was taken there by a Canadian navy ship that was just off of the coast patrolling in the area.
Lava was reported shooting hundreds of feet into the air and volcanic ash rising a thousand feet high. The volcanic activity triggered a landslide that collapsed the western part of the island. At least eight soldiers are believed to be missing.
A NATO fleet on route to the Suez Canal spotted the eruption. NATO is now assisting in the search and rescue operation. There have been no reports of any deaths but, again, eight people missing.
CHETRY: Well, there is an uneasy calm this morning in Myanmar where the military government seems to have silenced the pro-democracy movement, at least for now. A U.N. envoy hopes to meet with the country's military ruler today in an effort to resolve the situation peacefully. Some 20,000 troops are patrolling the streets of the capital city Yangon.
The woman who spent a week trapped in her car after it crashed down a ravine is said to be improving this morning. She is still in the intensive care unit, but Tanya Rider has been upgraded from critical to serious condition. She was admitted Thursday after rescuers finally found her in her car. Doctors say she suffered kidney failure and was in danger of losing her leg but so far that danger appears to have passed. We did speak to her husband, of course, on Friday on AMERICAN MORNING and he told us finally, after eight days, it was a cell phone signal that was emitted from her car that finally led rescuers to her. They call it a miracle that she survived that long without food and water.
Well today it's the first Monday in October. It means it's back to business for the Supreme Court. We're also hearing from the court's quietest justice, Clarence Thomas, who is speaking out as his new memoir hits store shelves today. Thomas spoke to "60 Minutes" about his confirmation battle 16 years ago and the sexual harassment charges leveled by his former employee, Anita Hill. Thomas defended his description of those hearings as "a high-tech lynching" and also told Steve Kroft that they set a bad precedent.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
STEVE KROFT, "60 MINUTES": After this whole horrible experience, you won.
CLARENCE THOMAS, SUPREME COURT JUSTICE: Won what? What was the game? There was no game, Steve. This wasn't about winning anything. This wasn't a football game. This was about our country. This was about a process. This was about our courts. This was about our constitution. Who won?
KROFT: Well, you know, it's about a seat on the court of the United States.
THOMAS: So what. So what.
KROFT: They don't come open that . . .
THOMAS: That's not a holy grail for me, Steve.
KROFT: Was it worth it in the end?
THOMAS: I think it is always worth it to stand on principle, no matter what the ultimate goal is. Wrong is wrong even if it was over a penny.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CHETRY: Well Thomas also talked about being raised by his grandfather and the early lessons he learned about race.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
THOMAS: As we entered puberty, it was constant. And I remember the day he said, "boy, you up in age now. Don't you ever look a white woman in the eye." That was the kind of thing you heard.
KROFT: Did he explain why?
THOMAS: Oh, yes. Because the point was that you could be accused of -- you could be accused of anything.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CHETRY: Well, Thomas and the other justices will be deciding some very divisive cases in the new term, including voter identification requirements, as well as gun control.
ROBERTS: New this morning. New video surfacing out of Iraq that could shed some new light on what happened between workers for security contractor Blackwater and Iraqi civilians. "Newsweek" magazine obtained a nine-minute-long video shot by Iraqi police that shows the aftermath of that shooting. The Iraqis say at least 20 civilians were killed. Other reports put the number of dead at 11.
"Newsweek" also got a look at the Iraqi police's extensive file which says the Blackwater helicopters opened fire crazily and randomly without any reason. Blackwater says its guards returned fire after being shot at by armed enemies.
Joining us now on the telephone is Kevin Periano. He wrote the story for "Newsweek." He is embedded with U.S. forces in Tikrit.
Kevin, what's the information that you have found on the ground there related to this Blackwater incident?
KEVIN PERIANO, "NEWSWEEK": Well, I was over at the Iraqi national police headquarters in Baghdad on Saturday interviewing the commander of the Iraqi national police, a guy named General Hussein (ph), and he turned over while I was there a pretty large file of evidence that the national police have collected. It included sworn witness statements, this nine-minute video that you mentioned, other documents, police reports, and incident report, just following -- it was written the day after the incident. And it's largely -- the material that I saw is largely consistent with what the Iraqi officials, interior ministry officials have been saying all along.
They said that Blackwater, the firing, was unprovoked. They don't know why it happened. All the witness statements that I saw that they had collected there said that there was no apparent reason for the firing to begin. Blackwater, of course, says that they were being fired on from different positions by both civilian, people in civilian clothes, and people in Iraqi police uniforms.
And in this video -- this video is essentially right from the aftermath of the shooting, about two minutes later. The national police headquarters is just around the corner from the scene and the police officers heard the shooting, rushed to the scene, and this video was made by an Iraqi national police officer right on the scene just afterward.
ROBERTS: So, Kevin, the video that we're seeing now, you can see what looks like a Blackwater helicopter, one of those small Hughes helicopters, up in the air. We're looking at a picture of a white car that's been shot up and totally burned out. And dozens of shell casings on the ground. How does this video make the Iraqis' case that these civilians were fired on without provocation?
PERIANO: Well, it's hard to know from the video. I'm not sure there's anything in the video that makes that case. They're most -- when they make that case, they're mostly relying on the witness statements. And what you see in the video, as you said, is this white Kia that appears to be the first sort of incident of the shooting.
When I was over there on Saturday, I interviewed a couple of the witnesses, traffic police, who were there. They happened to be milling around the national police headquarters. And they said what happened is, their story was that the Blackwater guards shot at this white Kia, hit the driver, and the traffic police rushed up to the car on either side and tried to open the door to get the person out. And they said, ,at that point, the Blackwater guards started intensifying their fire and they had to run away.
Now the Blackwater guards have said that they believed Iraqi policemen were pushing this white Kia that you see in the video toward the square. They thought it was a car bomb and that's why they said they intensified their fire. The guards said, we weren't pushing it, we were just trying to get them out of their car. Another guard pulled a walkie-talkie out of his pocket, he says, and he said the guards intensified their fire then. And so he thinks maybe the guards could have mistook that for a, you know, a detonator or some other kind of lethal . . .
ROBERTS: Action. Obviously a lot more to learn about the incident. New information coming to us from "Newsweek" magazine. Kevin Periano, who wrote that article, embedded with U.S. forces in Tikrit this morning.
Kevin, thanks for being with us. Good to talk to you.
CHETRY: Well, it's time now to check in with our AMERICAN MORNING team of correspondents for other new stories new is morning. And we start with extreme weather. Jacqui Jeras is at the CNN weather desk tracking what could be severe weather for Florida.
Hi, Jacqui. Good morning.
CHETRY: Well, GM's new contract with auto workers may mean that more plants will close. Ali Velshi is at our business update desk with more on this.
ALI VELSHI, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Good morning, Kiran.
You know, we've been hearing a lot about this contract that was agreed to last week between the United Auto Workers and GM, but we haven't actually seen the contract. We know that leaders of the union across the country have agreed to it and it is now being voted on by the membership. And that will take until October 10th.
But a copy has been leaked and the Associated Press is reporting that contrary to the assurances that the United Auto Workers wanted that plants won't be closed, there are at least two plants that are slated for closing. A stamping plant in Indianapolis with 850 workers and an engine plant in Livonia, Michigan with 300 workers. Although there are efforts to keep these open for some time. The Michigan plant, we're looking at 2012 at the earliest. There are probably a couple of other plants on the books as well.
We are trying to get a copy of that contract for ourselves to look over it. But that's what it looks like for now. Voters -- Union workers are voting on that now. Kiran, we'll, of course, keep you updated on this and the other negotiations underway. CHETRY: Sounds good. Ali, thank you.
ROBERTS: A growing health alert over potentially contaminated beef. Topps Meats has expanded its frozen hamburger patty recall to include nearly 2 million pounds of beef that could contain a dangerous strain of E. Coli bacteria. The U.S. Department of Agriculture says there may be as many as 25 cases of illness across the United States. CNN's Jim Acosta is live at a grocery store here in New York. He's got the latest on the recall for us.
Good morning, Jim.
JIM ACOSTA, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Good morning, John.
You know, most supermarkets did not start pulling these Topps frozen hamburgers from their shelves until this past weekend. But Topps may have known about this potential contamination for weeks.
ACOSTA, (voice over): Samantha Sopranic (ph) contracted E. Coli and was hospitalized after eating a Topps frozen patty bought at this Wal-Mart a month and a half ago.
SAMANTHA SOPRANIC: In the back of my mind, I had that question if I was going to making it.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It just wasn't fair that, you know, the kid eats the hamburger and then ends up almost dying.
ACOSTA: After Samantha's mother contacted health officials in Florida, Wal-Mart pulled the patties on August 30th. But that was nearly a month before Topps issued its recall, then expanded it over the weekend, all the while supermarkets were still selling potentially tainted products. Samantha's family is now suing Wal-Mart.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: If the food is not safe and the companies that are selling us, the consumers, the food, know it's not safe, they need to tell us.
ACOSTA: Federal and state food safety investigators are now trying to pinpoint the contamination source, saying it could be anywhere, from the slaughterhouse, to the Topps processing plant. The USDA has ordered Topps to suspend operations citing, "inadequate raw ground process controls." Public health advocates say the government needs more inspectors.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CAROL SMITH DEWAAL, CENTER FOR SCIENCE IN THE PUBLIC INTEREST: There have been six recalls since April of contaminated ground beef. This is the worst summer we've had in a number of years for these outbreaks and recalls.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ACOSTA: And both Topps and the Wal-Mart company both issued press releases over the weekend saying that they are committed to protecting the public. We should note that some supermarkets apparently have not gotten the word about this recall. This box of frozen patties right here bears the USDA number that appears to be affected by this recall.
ROBERTS: So have you informed the folks there at the grocery store, Jim?
ACOSTA: We're on our way now, John.
ROBERTS: All right. Great. Jim Acosta for us this morning here in New York City.
We're going to get you more information about this this morning. We'll talk with the U.S. Department of Agriculture's undersecretary for food safety coming up in our next half hour. You can also find a full list of recalled products on cnn.com.
CHETRY: Well, if the campaign cash rolls in, how closely are the candidates' campaigns? Keeping track of who's doing the donating. Will they accept money from perhaps a white supremacist leader, possible child predators, Osama bin Laden? Well, one magazine did something very creative. We're going to show you how it turned out, coming up.
Also, grandma gives birth to her own grandchildren. Her amazing story. How it turned out and why she did it for her daughter, all ahead on AMERICAN MORNING.
CHETRY: Welcome back to AMERICAN MORNING.
Hillary Clinton, Barack Obama, they're still neck and neck in the race for campaign cash for the third quarter fund-raising period, which is just out now. Actually, Hillary Clinton is expected to finish with $17 million to $20 million raised for the quarter. Barack Obama with $18 million to $19 million, and John Edwards around $7 million.
On the GOP side, the Giuliani and Romney campaigns have yet to reveal a fundraising estimate, but newcomer Fred Thompson is expected to raise some $7 million and John McCain around $5 million.
Well, as we know, every dollar counts, of course. But you may be surprised just who the campaigns are accepting contributions from. Nick Thompson is the senior editor at "Wired" magazine and he joins us now to talk about this interesting article. When I read it in "Radar" magazine, at first I thought it was a joke. But one of the writers just wanted to do an experiment to see, could you get away with donating small amounts of cash online to some of these campaigns in the names of some possibility shady people.?
NICK THOMPSON, SR. EDITOR, "WIRED" MAGAZINE: Well, in fact, you can. You can donate in the name of pretty much anybody and it will get through. They went online. They used the names of John Mark Carr, the JonBenet Ramsey obsessive.
CHETRY: Yes, here's one. You might remember John Mark Carr. He's the one who claimed that he had something to do with the murder of JonBenet Ramsey. They actually donated in his name with his actual address and correct information and it says "thank you for your contribution of $5 to the Romney for president campaign. It will help Governor Romney spread his positive message."
But we can't just pick on Governor Romney. They did this with some of the other ones. They did this with . . .
THOMPSON: They did it with Clinton. They did it with Obama. They did it with Giuliani. And in some way it's not actually that surprising that they take money from John Mark Carr. You don't really have the people or the resources to check every name against a list of people you consider immoral. And there a lot of people in this country named John Mark Carr, right, or John Carr. None of them can donate? So it's a little bit tricky.
CHETRY: Let's see the other one. Let's put up one of the other ones and see, because there were some other interesting ones. Joe Power, president of the North American Man Boy Love Association's California chapter, accepted $5. All of the campaigns did. And the funny part though is that one of them did not get through. Radar tried to donate under the name Osama bin Laden. It was not accepted because it was a trigger name.
THOMPSON: Right. Well it wasn't -- the campaigns didn't reject it. The way they did this, and what's so interesting about it, is they did it through credit card gift cards. And what that shows is that it's very easy to give a donation in somebody else's name. You could buy a card in my name and then give money to the Giuliani campaign and make it look like it came from me and not from you. And when they tried to give money through Osama bin Laden, somebody at the credit card gift card was like hmmm, I don't think that's right. But everything else went through. But what's so neat is that this shows a way -- or so neat or so discouraging is this shows a way that people could manipulate the political system and give money in other people's names.
CHETRY: The other interesting thing, though, is that they did actually provide the correct information, the correct mailing address that went with these people as well, just to make sure, are they really accepting it from a person who they would have no idea if it really was them or not.
This is interesting. There's another website. This is Open Secrets website. And they collect data right through the Federal Election Commission. Almost a way to try to keep the campaigns honest. What do they do?
THOMPSON: Oh, this is one of my favorite knights (ph) in Washington. It's one of the true good guys in Washington. And they get . . .
CHETRY: We'll show it up here.
THOMPSON: They get all of the data from the Federal Election Commission on who's given money to what candidates. They break it down by industry. So you can see who in the pharmaceutical industry has given money to Obama. You can see where your neighbors have given money. I could check and see who you've given money to. You could see who I've given money to. It's great.
CHETRY: OK. So here it is, find contributions to and you, drop down, then you pick the candidate. From, and you can search their last name. And you can do only those of $500 or more, only those of $1,000 or more. So it really is . . .
THOMPSON: And you can check -- this is also wonderful too. I can check and see who at "Wired" magazine has given money to which candidates. It's a very good way to make sure there's sunshine on the electoral process.
CHETRY: That is very neat. But at the end of the day, it will be interesting to see, you're right, how much money would it cost these campaigns to have people employed to sit there and check every single donation. And the truth is, they can't.
THOMPSON: They can't. They check very, very large donations. Hillary Clinton got in some trouble recently. They're doing it a little bit more right now. But they're not going to check the $5 donations.
CHETRY: Very interesting. All right, Nick Thompson with "Wired" magazine. The editor of the magazine. Thanks for talking to us.
THOMPSON: Thanks a lot.
ROBERTS: Coming up now to 23 minutes after the hour.
Facebook could be facing the music. Charges that the website is not tough enough on sexual predators even though it says it is.
And it was grandma's first babysitting gig and it came before there were any kids. The incredible story of how she gave birth to her own grandchildren, next on AMERICAN MORNING.
CHETRY: Well, this is an amazing story. A grandmother giving birth to her own two grandchildren. She's a 51-year-old from Brazil. She became a surrogate mom for her 27-year-old daughter after four years of failed pregnancy attempts. Reports say that the baby boys and grandma doing fine. Brazilian law only allows close relatives to be a surrogate mother, so she stepped up for her only child, since no cousin's volunteered.
ROBERTS: Wow, that's tremendous. Unbelievable.
A story now coming up in our next half hour that you just can't miss. You know, people get claustrophobic when they go into MRIs or even CAT scanners, right? Even just for a few minutes. Imagine being stuck there for hours?
CHETRY: It's terrifying. They give you either the little bell to ring if you feel afraid and you need to come out. Well, this is a nightmare for anyone that understands how stressful it is to go through this. This patient was trapped there for hours because the facility closed and forgot she was there. How did she get herself out?
ROBERTS: Yes, they give you that little bell ringer thing but it's no good. You can push it all you want if there's nobody there to hear it, right?
CHETRY: Yes, if they've closed shop for the night, you're out of luck. We're going to talk about what's being done to make sure it never happens again. More on her story when AMERICAN MORNING comes right back.
KIRAN CHETRY, CNN NEWS ANCHOR: Welcome back. It is Monday, October 1st. We have some breaking news this morning. I'm Kiran Chetry.
JOHN ROBERTS, CNN NEWS ANCHOR: Good morning to you, I'm John Roberts. October the 1st here, the start of a brand new month.
A search and rescue mission off of the coast of Yemen after a volcano erupted overnight. You're looking at pictures of it there. Witnesses describing it as catastrophic. It happened on a two mile- long island about 70 miles from Yemen out into the Red Sea. No one lives on the island but there was a Yemeni military outpost on it used for naval control and observation. At least eight people are missing.
Joining us on the phone is Ken Allan, combat camera team leader with the Canadian Navy. He saw the eruption moments after the explosion.
Ken, thanks for joining us. First of all, can you give us any update on casualties, after the initial explosion, we understand that there were eight people that were missing. What have you found so far?
KEN ALLAN, COMBAT CAMERA TEAM LEADER, CANADIAN NAVY: Well, you're absolutely right there. What happened is there was actually 29 people on the island. The Yemen coast guard was able to rescue 21 of them but eight went missing.
At that point, the NATO fleet, as part of the standing NATO maritime group, was operating near the area. The admiral dispatched two ships to take a look at the explosion, because we weren't sure at the time exactly where it was. As they got closer to the explosion, they realized that this was in fact a volcano that erupted on the island.
We immediately sent the rest of the NATO task force out to the area to have a look. The Yemen coast guard then asked us if we would be able to assist them in a search for these eight survivors.
At that point, the HMCS Toronto, which I am serving on now, moved as close as one kilometer off to the shore of the island looking for survivors. We put people in small boats along with the rest of the NATO fleet, searching right up along the shoreline, and unfortunately, after a full evening of searching, we're not able to turn up anybody. When the sun came up this morning the Yemen coast guard thanked us for our assistance and we began to move on.
As we left the shores, about five miles off, that's when we ran into our first survivor. We managed to pluck him out of the water, after he'd been in there for quite a long time. And moments later, my ship, the HMCS Toronto, picked up another survivor, who is currently down in sick bay receiving medical care from our doctor aboard.
We are still in this area searching about five miles north of the island. And unfortunately, we also had to pick up two who did not survive, very unfortunate at that, because we were hoping to find as many as we could.
ROBERTS: Let me just do the math here. You found two survivors, two dead so that would mean there are four still missing?
ALLAN: That's correct. We're still in this area and I can speak from only from the HMCS Toronto's standpoint. I don't know if the other ships managed to pick anybody up. It's a bit hectic at this moment as we're looking through debris from the island as it's floating around our ships and we are having a helicopter fly over the area. We have small boats out looking, so I can only speak for our ship at this time, sir.
ROBERTS: I'm sure it is difficult rescue operation there. You've given us some news this morning, though.
Ken Allan from the "HMCS Toronto." His team took these pictures, enormous explosion on this tiny little island, 70 miles off of the coast of Yemen. Saying of the eight people missing, he says two of them were picked up. They're survivors. One of them is in sick bay. Two people were found dead. So that would confirm two fatalities as a result of the explosion. And perhaps we can get back to Ken a little bit later on as that search progresses.
CHETRY: Also new this morning, a beef recall expands now to the millions of pounds. Topps Meat now saying that 22 million pounds of frozen hamburger patties could be contaminated with E. coli. That's up from 332,000 pounds a week ago. The USDA say there may be as many as 25 cases of people getting sick from E. coli around the U.S. In just a few minutes we're going to talk to the agency's undersecretary for food safety.
Also, for a full recall list, you can go to cnn.com.
U.S. military deaths in Iraq are dropping. Seventy troops were killed in September, the fourth straight month in which the number of dead has fallen. It's also the lowest total for a month in more than a year in Iraq. U.S. commanders say the strategy is starting to work and that levels of violence are dropping.
FaceBook could be charged with fraud for saying its site is safer than other social networking sites. New York Attorney General Andrew Cuomo subpoenaed the social networking site last week after investigators, posing as 12 to 14 years old, were solicited for sex.
There's some dramatic news about safer skies. The number of fatal accidents in the skies dropped 65 percent in the last decade. This morning's "New York Times" says there have been no fatal airliner crashes involving scheduled flights at all this year in the United States. Over the last ten years, the accident rate is one fatal accident in about 4.5 million departures. The former head of the FAA calls this the, quote, "golden age of aviation safety."
There is another new report that's less encouraging. More than 1 million bags were either lost, damaged or delayed, not for the year, but for a two month period, from May to July. June and July were the worst, ranking among the worst months in some 20 years or missing, damaged and destroyed baggage. Airlines blaming people checking more bags. Of course, many are stuck with that as the only option since liquids are banned from carry-ones.
ROBERTS: 36 minutes after the hour. Another massive marijuana bust to tell you about. This one in central Florida. Police say they found what they call a grow house on a quiet street in north Lakeland. 350 plants were found inside, valued at about $1 million.
A last-minute deal stopped an entire state from almost shutting down. Earlier this morning, Michigan's governor called off a partial shut down of state government after lawmakers reached a budget agreement. More than two-thirds of the state's 50,000 workers would have been told to stay home. The old budget expired at midnight. The new one aims to close a $1.7 billion budget gap with expanded sales tax and higher state income tax.
An angry New York Jets fan is suing the New England Patriots for cheating. Two New Jersey lawyers are suing the Patriots for $184 million, the cost of every ticket to every Jets-Patriots game played at the Jets stadium while Belichick was New England's coach.
BRUCE AFRAN, ATTORNEY: When a consumer pays hard-earned money, hundreds of dollars, sometimes a couple thousand for a family, this is serious. And when a team violates their right to an honest game, there's feeling from the fans. And that's why Belichick and the Patriots have to pay back.
ROBERTS: Belichick and the Patriots were sanctioned for illegally taping the signals the Jets coaches were using. They knew exactly what they were doing on the field. The lawyers have previously tried other large class action suits, including suing for a special election, after Jim McGreevy resigned in 2004.
How about the Mets?
CHETRY: How about it? Wait until next year for the New York Mets. Their season ended yesterday with really a historic collapse. They lost to the Florida Marlins at home. Philadelphia Phillies won. That means they take the National League East title.
It was less than three weeks ago the Mets were on top of the world. They had a seven-game lead over the Phils with just 17 games to play. And I believe it's the first time in history that that type of lead was blown. The New York tabloids say it all. Here is a picture of a poor little Mets fan, probably looks like he's about 4 or 5, bawling, says "Crying shame, crushing loss ends the season." This one on "The Daily News," not so subtle either. It says, "From champs to chumps. Mets' own record skid." And there's another Mets fan looking quite sad.
ROBERTS: It's a tough town.
CHETRY: Yeah, and there's always next year.
ROBERTS: And they're still getting the new stadium. They didn't take that away from them.
From the frozen food aisle to the freezer and on to the grill, millions of pounds of beef and dozens of people potentially sick. Why didn't the recall come sooner? The agency in charge of keeping dinner safe answers those questions coming up.
And it sounds like a nightmare, a woman trapped in a cat scan for hours. We'll tell you how it happened and how she got out. That's ahead on "AMERICAN MORNING."
ROBERTS: 41 minutes after the hour. Welcome back to the most news in the morning here on CNN.
If you haven't already, get to your freezer and take a look at what kind of frozen hamburger patties you have stowed away. Topps Meat Company is expanding the recall we told you about last week. There's concern nearly 22 million pounds, yes, that's million pounds, of ground beef can be contaminated with E. coli bacteria. Topps meat is used in dozens of brands of hamburgers. You can find specific information on which products were recalled on cnn.com.
With us is the undersecretary for food safety of the U.S. Department of Agriculture, Dr. Richard Raymond.
Good morning to you, Dr. Raymond. Can you hear me?
DR. RICHARD RAYMOND, UNDERSECRETARY, U.S. DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE: Yes, I can. Good morning.
ROBERTS: The question people are asking is, this first came to light about six weeks ago, when a little girl named Samantha Sefranek got terribly ill. She almost died from an E. coli infection. Yet, we only heard about this recall last week. Why did it take so long?
RAYMOND: Well, when someone becomes ill with a food-borne illness, the first thing is the health care provider has to order the proper tests on the stool, etc, to determine the cause of the illness. Once it's determined to be e. Coli, the epidemiologist and public health experts must do an in-depth investigation to find out what might have been the source of the infection.
And usually when you have one patient it's very difficult to point the finger at one particular product. As we know e. Coli could be caused by ground beef but it could also be caused by drinking water and other products and produce. And so it sometimes takes a series of cases to actually get to the product, and then from the product to get to the plant that produced it.
ROBERTS: Did it take five weeks for that epidemiological process to run its course?
RAYMOND: I believe it took three weeks from the time this young lady became ill to the time we were able to do the recall.
ROBERTS: The first recall was 3,000 pounds. What suddenly kicked it up to 22 million?
RAYMOND: The first recall was based on three different cases where we had illness that was linked to a specific product on a specific production date and the first recall was for three production dates. As we always do, we send in a food safety assessment team to evaluate this plant's practices, because of the E. coli. And that assessment showed that this plant had inadequate policies and procedures to guarantee a reduction or elimination of E. coli because of -- yes?
ROBERTS: When you talk about that, what does that mean?
RAYMOND: There's certain procedures that ground beef manufacturers must follow to try to reduce or eliminate the risk of E. coli contamination in the product. We found this plant did not have the policies in place or if they had them were not following them. And that's why we expanded the article.
ROBERTS: What weren't they doing? Help folks at home understand. What was it they weren't doing?
RAYMOND: They weren't making certain that the supplier that was giving them the product that they were grinding, had adequate controls in place in the slaughter plants to eliminate the possibility of E. coli contamination.
ROBERTS: Critics are pointing to potential flaws in inspection programs. Caroline Smith DeWaal, from the Center of Science in the Public Interest, talked to us a little while ago. Here's what she had to say. Take a listen and then I'll ask you about it.
CAROLINE SMITH DEWAAL, CENTER OF SCIENCE IN THE PUBLIC INTEREST: We're very concerned that some of the problems are occurring because of inspector shortages and vacancies. Clearly, there are problems in the processing plants that are causing these, but these problems could be prevented with better inspection.
ROBERTS: So Dr. Raymond, who is to blame here, the processing plant or the U.S. Department of Agriculture in its inspection procedures?
RAYMOND: Well the problem starts actually at slaughter. That's where the contamination occurs. Then that product is sold to processing plants. Processing plants have a role to play to make sure the product they're buying is as safe as it can be. And, of course, the USDA inspection service has a role to make sure plants are following their procedures adequately and following their HACCP plans.
ROBERTS: One quick question before I let you go. Our correspondent, Jim Acosta, was at a grocery store in New York City and found the hamburgers were still on the shelves there. Are you doing enough to get the word out?
RAYMOND: Well, we go into the retail stores to make sure this product has been recalled. This is a national recall. We can't get into all the stores overnight. The recall has been going satisfactory to date.
ROBERTS: Dr. Richard Raymond from the U.S. Department of Agriculture. Doctor, thanks for being with us this morning. Appreciate you coming on.
RAYMOND: Thank you.
CHETRY: We have a clarification about a segment we aired Friday about the recall of almost 1 million child's cribs that were manufactured by Simplicity over the last decade. In that segment a representative of the Illinois attorney general's office showed us what she called was a recall repair kit, which she said she had requested as a consumer and been delivered without instructions.
We have learned that Simplicity and the Consumer Products Safety Commission have actually not yet released any remedy for the recalled cribs. Simplicity says the envelope obtained by the Illinois attorney general's office contained crib repair parts, which the company said was sent at the request of an insistent customer. The Consumer Products Safety Commission say it is working with Simplicity on a suitable remedy for those recalled cribs. Amazing pictures from a major fire at a chemical warehouse south of Dallas. Luckily, no one was in the building when the fire started and no injuries were reported. The Environmental Protection Agency sent someone to the site to check on air quality. They still haven't figured out what caused it.
And stuck in a cat scan. The nightmare story how it happened to one woman and how, after hours of screaming and waiting, she was finally able to get out.
Google Earth shedding light on the newest Swastika snafu. Now the Navy is planning to spend your money to fix the mistake. Fallout over the massive makeover mission, ahead on "AMERICAN MORNING."
CHETRY: Welcome back. They look fine from the ground, these barracks we're talking about. But when you look at the Navy buildings from above or Google Earth, you can clearly see what looks like a swastika. We first told you about this last week, but then when we found out they were going to spend more than $500,000 to fix it, we sent Chris Lawrence to take a closer look.
CHRIS LAWRENCE, CNN NEWS CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): These Navy barracks have been standing in San Diego for 40 years. But aerial videos revealed a startling image, the symbol of Nazi Germany.
MAURICE CAZUDO (ph), CONCERNED ABOUT SYMBOL: I don't know how anyone could take a look at that shape and say it's only four L-shaped building.
LAWRENCE: Maurice Cazudo (ph) saw a swastika and so did the people who complained to the Anti-Defamation League.
The Navy agreed to camouflage the barracks, saying it, quote, "has received approval to spend up to $600,000 for the best cost effective solution to modify the building."
CAZUDO (ph): We asked the Navy to try to do it at the least possible cost. In my naivete -- I'm no engineer -- I thought some paint on the sidewalk might break up the shape. The Navy tried that. It didn't work.
LAWRENCE: The head of a California watch dog group says the military shouldn't spend taxpayer money on what it calls a manufacturing issue and asks, "If someone saw a random crop formation in that shape, would they demand the former change it?"
The thing is you can't see it from the ground. They look like any other military buildings -- brown, blocky, boring.
(on camera): And since there's no commercial landing pattern that flies directly over the base, you're not going to see it from the air either. (voice-over): The Navy is authorized well over $500,000 to essentially change a Google Earth image that may not be updated for years.
DOUG SOUSMAN (ph), ARCHITECT: $600,000 seems like a lot of money just for camouflage.
LAWRENCE: Architect Doug Sousman (ph) says, if the Navy is going to spend that much, he suggests planting a garden to absorb pollution and turning the rooftop into a sustainable energy product.
SOUSMAN (ph): It would be unfortunate if that much money was sent for the equivalent of a comb-over.
LAWRENCE: Bottom line, the swastika shape will disappear and the Navy may end up putting a positive spin on a negative symbol.
Chris Lawrence, CNN, San Diego.
CHETRY: That's probably the best line of the morning.
ROBERTS: Architectural comb-over.
CHETRY: A comb-over. The Navy is saying nothing has been finalized. They're considering whether or not to install those solar panels the architect talked about, which would alter the configuration of the buildings when seen from above.
ROBERTS: Incredible. It sounds like an absolute nightmare, being trapped in a cat scanner for five hours. It happened to a 67- year-old woman in Arizona. The technician -- she came in 4:00 in the afternoon. The technician apparently forgot she was in there and went home.
After realizing that the technician wasn't coming back, the woman finally managed to wriggle her way out of the machine, only to find that not only had the technician gone home, but the entire clinic was closed. And she was locked inside.
She did manage to put in a phone call to her son, who called 911. Officials came and got her out. She was taken to a hospital and spent the night there as a precaution. The clinic says it will review procedures to make sure that it never, ever, ever happens again.
CHETRY: Guaranteed it won't happen to her.
ROBERTS: Some people are claustrophobic spending five or 10 minutes in there, huh?
CHETRY: Yeah, she'll probably never go back again. I can't even imagine. Poor thing.
The nine Supreme Court justices returned to the bench today. It's the first day in October. And we have live pictures now. Their docket for the new term is full of cases ranging from the constitutionality of lethal injections to the legal rights of detainees at Guantanamo Bay, and also to the question of photo I.D. Cards for voters. So a busy session. There's a live picture this morning. We'll be right back.
ROBERTS: 57 minutes after the hour. Ali Velshi "Minding Your Business" as we enter the fourth quarter of this year in terms of business.
ALI VELSHI, CNN SENIOR BUSINESS ANALYST: That's right. Friday was the end of the third quarter. And this is not typically something most people follow, but it is important because the quarters -- the end of the quarters. Every three months is a remarkably good opportunity for to you look at your investments, 401Ks, your pension, whatever you have. It's typically the time when your company or whoever you're investing with sends you a report to show you how you're doing.
You're not going to be too interested in what happened in the quarter because you shouldn't be investing on a quarter-to-quarter basis. So let's look at what the markets have done from the beginning of the year until now.
Another good measure is to look at it over 52 weeks. But from the beginning of the year, take a look at this, the Dow is up 11.5 percent. In February we had a dip, in August, another dip. The S&P 500, very broad representation of the market, is up 7.5 percent. And the NASDAQ, which is technology heavy, is up about 12 percent.
Here is why you need to look at this. In the last 15 years, the fourth quarter has been very good. It's been a very strong performer, with the exception of two years. And the average gain in the fourth quarter is about 6.5 percent.
So you definitely want to take this opportunity to look at your investment and see what needs to be rebalanced, because if you didn't respond to all those panicky sell offs earlier in the year, you didn't do too badly.
ROBERTS: We know historically speaking the fourth quarter isn't always good for the stock market. There's the years 1929, 1987.
VELSHI: They're among the worst.
ROBERTS: Here comes the little cloud floater.
VELSHI: The average person should still be well balanced.
Listen, Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke did say the Fed will do what it can to keep America out of a recession. So most estimates are good for the rest of the year, but you'll keep me honest.
CHETRY: Either that or depressed, one of the two.
VELSHI: That's right, one of the two.
CHETRY: Ali, thank you.
ROBERTS: Ali, thanks.
CHETRY: Here's a look at a story coming up in a couple minutes that you can't miss. They're saying it's a miracle, a cargo plane crashed on a main interstate in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, and the pilot was able to get it out of the jam.
We're going to be hearing from him a little bit later on.
But, meantime, the next hour of "AMERICAN MORNING" starts right now.
Under fire, new questions about the Blackwater shooting in Iraq, after "Newsweek" reveals graphic new video from the scene.
Where's the beef? Why it took so long to alert you about contaminated hamburger.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
RAYMOND: When you just have one patient, it's very difficult to point the finger at one particular product.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ROBERTS: Plus, the first Monday in October, inside the Supreme Court, Justice Clarence Thomas, and the polarizing battle lines forming around the court's most divisive cases, on this "AMERICAN MORNING."
It's a big day here. It's Monday, October the 1st. Thanks for joining us on the "AMERICAN MORNING." I'm John Roberts.
CHETRY: I'm Kiran Chetry. It is October. Where did the summer go?
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