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Deadly Power Plant Fire; Myanmar Crackdown; Does Work Environment Matter in Sexual Harassment Cases?

Aired October 3, 2007 - 10:59   ET


TONY HARRIS, CNN ANCHOR: And good morning again, everyone. You're with CNN. You're informed.
I'm Tony Harris.

HEIDI COLLINS, CNN ANCHOR: Hi there, everybody.

I'm Heidi Collins.

Developments keep coming in to the CNN NEWSROOM on Wednesday, the 3rd day of October.

Here's what's on the rundown.

Five workers killed in Colorado in an underground chemical fire. How did it happen?

A live briefing this hour.

HARRIS: Also, the ruthless military crackdown in Myanmar. This smuggled video, a CNN exclusive.

COLLINS: And locker room in the executive suite. Women fight back in the courtroom. Now the Knicks will pay.

Our guest weighs in, in the NEWSROOM.

HARRIS: And at the top this hour, a fire at a Colorado power plant. Five workers dead this morning. We are expecting a news conference shortly.

While we wait, let's go to CNN's Chris Lawrence.

Chris, good morning to you.


HARRIS: Can you hear me OK, Chris?

LAWRENCE: Yes, Tony.

HARRIS: OK. Chris, if you would, sort of set the scene. I understand we're expecting a news conference shortly.

LAWRENCE: Yes, any minute now, Tony. We hope to get an update, perhaps answer some of the questions that have been raised by this incident, including the identification of some of the men.

We know that this plant is run by a company called Xcel, that it was built about 40 years ago. But the men who were trapped inside were actually working for a contractor. They were private contractors who were brought in to do routine maintenance on the plant.

We also hope to find out some more information about exactly what may have caused this fire. We know that the men were using a machine down there to apply an epoxy to that part of the water tunnel to prevent corrosion. At some point did the machine malfunction? What was it that exactly caused the fire?

And drawing that out a little further, exactly how did these men die? Was it the fire itself or was it the lack of good, clean, fresh air down there after the blaze started?

HARRIS: And Chris, if you would, if you know, who are we expecting to hear from in the next couple of minutes when this news conference gets under way?

LAWRENCE: I would expect that we would hear from a representative from Xcel, from the company that runs the hydroelectric plant, and the sheriff, who has been kind of heading up the investigation and the rescue effort -- or what at the time what was going to be a rescue effort.

HARRIS: Right. OK, Chris. Give us a heads up when you start to see folks move toward the microphones and we'll get back to you.

Chris Lawrence for us.

Chris, thanks.


COLLINS: Nuclear diplomacy apparently paying off this morning. Two top administration officials telling CNN North Korea has agreed to disable a nuclear facility by the end of the year. The deal worked out late last month during six-party talks in Beijing. That facility in Yongbyon was shut down and sealed over the summer.

Now the U.S. will be in charge of making sure North Korea really does disable its bomb-making abilities there as promised. A U.S. team is expected to head to North Korea next week.

Videotape the military rulers don't want the world to see, it documents the brutal crackdown in the South Asian nation of Myanmar.

CNN's Dan Rivers has our exclusive report. And a caution now. Some of these images may be disturbing.


DAN RIVERS, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): This is the ugly face of military repression the generals who control Myanmar have tried so hard to cover up. The images just smuggled out by men and women who risked their lives are at least two days old. The pictures taken just before Myanmar's foreign minister claims security personnel had exercised what he called the utmost restraint.

The soldiers corralled those they caught in the middle of the road. Some prisoners already clearly injured. Watched over by an officer in the now silent street.

Across the country, reports of largely empty neighborhoods and empty monasteries after brutal crackdowns.

On the same smuggled video, pictures of a demonstration just before the police intervened. The deafening chant of a confident crowd marching peacefully through the city.

But the moment was short lived. The demonstrators flee. Soldiers bark orders as an injured protester is tended to by an anxious friend trying to stay out of sight. And in the street, the remains of the stampede.

Those who weren't fast enough are searched and loaded onto trucks by men who are not wearing uniforms, backing up protesters' claims that plainclothes intelligence officers were operating in their midst. And they are not the only disturbing images leaking from Myanmar. These pictures shot by dissident journalists show a dead monk apparently tortured, left face down in a stream not far from where the demonstrations had taken place in the capital.

Smuggled evidence seeping out of this isolated country that the pro-democracy movement is being ruthlessly crushed, pictures that are likely to define Myanmar's government to the world.

Dan Rivers, CNN, Bangkok.


HARRIS: And right now let's get you back to that news conference in Colorado right now where we're expecting to learn more about the explosion at that hydroelectric plant.

Let's listen in.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Some of the conditions at the scene at the time the team was in there, at 4:30 p.m. the visibility due to smoke was about 15 feet. At quarter after 5:00, it had improved to 150 feet, and by 7:30 there was pretty much open visibility for the team.

Excuse me while I refer to my notes.

We had several agencies assisting us in the investigation today. There's going to be obviously Clear Creek County Sheriff's Office as the lead, Colorado Bureau of Investigation, an investigator from OSHA, the Clear Creek County Coroner's Office, and we have an assistant from the Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms. They're going to be helping us trying to determine the cause and origin of the fire.

Our goals today obviously are recovery team safety. We -- with -- our goal is to get the bodies removed today, but we still have to document both scenes.

We're going to split the scene into two separate investigations. One will be to determine the cause and origin of the fire, and the other one will be processing the scene around where the victims were found. Our goal is to remove the victims, try to get them identified as soon as possible, get the next of kin notified so we can get some of the information out you folks want.

The contracting company that the victims worked for is called RPI Coating, and they are out of Santa Fe Springs, California. And that is all I know at this time.

I'd be happy to entertain a few questions. I would ask that we don't repeat a bunch of questions. If I don't know I'll tell you. If I do know, I will. So...

QUESTION: What's the name of the company again? Sorry.


QUESTION: RPI Coating. How long have they been on the job?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I do not know that. I know this was part of scheduled routine maintenance, and I don't know how far along they were. It was confirmed by Xcel that they had -- this had been planned about two years ago, and, you know, just part of the cycle.

QUESTION: Can you talk about the process at all? Initially, you were able to drop some oxygen down and make contact.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes, there was some initial contact via some type of radio system. They did drop some oxygen and another radio down, but we know that they never were able to obtain that or use it.

HARRIS: Yes. I think what we're getting from this briefing is that the investigation really begins to intensify today to try to get at a couple of things here.

First of all, the cause of the explosion that led to the deaths of the workers. So several agencies involved in that effort.

Also, there are team that are going to be going in to start that work, finding out what happened. Another team will begin work -- we're calling them a recovery team -- to retrieve the bodies, the five bodies of the workers who were killed. Five killed, four escaped serious injuries.

So that is the work that is ongoing right now. The effort intensifying today.

We will keep an eye on the situation there in Georgetown, Colorado, for you. COLLINS: Also want to tell you about something else regarding what happened very close to Colorado, in Utah.

Back in August, you remember Crandall Canyon Mine, the nine workers who were killed in an explosion there. Six are still entombed in the Crandall Canyon Mine. Today we are looking at live pictures now of family members before the House Education and Labor Committee. They're holding hearings on safety of that mine and certainly the conditions that those miners were working in.

This is very painful, I'm sure, for all of these family members. Most of them, you may remember, really haven't talked very much at all in public about what happened there and about their concerns.

So, once again, we are watching live pictures coming in from the House Education and Labor Committee, listening to family members talk more about what happened there back in August.

Let's go ahead and listen in for just a moment to the son-in-law of trapped -- of a trapped miner. We're going to listen in to what he said just moments ago.


MIKE MARASCO, SON-IN-LAW OF MINER KERRY ALLRED: The manner in which Murray and MSHA dealt with us for the first two weeks after the collapse was unbelievable. They just told us what we wanted to hear and not the facts.

All we heard was "earthquake, earthquake". We did not want to hear about earthquakes but wanted to know when we were going to see our loved ones again. Murray more than once yelled at us when we asked questions.

For the families that are Hispanic, there was no translator for the first two days. So it was extremely upsetting for them.

Questions were asked and the responses were always, "That question has always been asked," or "We are looking into it." I feel that we were not treated with respect we should have been given.

Finally, we made suggestions to help the rescue efforts and were just amazed at how quick both Murray and MSHA were to say no.


COLLINS: There you have it, one of the -- the son-in-law of Kerry Allred, one of the victims in that August disaster, talking a lot about how they were treated, specifically by the mine co-owner, Bob Murray, who was on television so much during that time.

Let's go ahead and take a moment now to listen in to what's going on at this moment.

There was a meeting that night, so we sat outside and he began to cry. And he told me of a lot of things that had been happening at the mine.

WENDY BLACK, WIFE OF MINER DALE BLACK: For instance, how mine manager Gary Peacock (ph) came up to Dale and says, "You know I will be taking this to my grave." Gary knows that I know what he had said to Dale because a day or two after Dale died, I told him that I knew this and I told him I guess it was Dale that had taken what he had done to the grave.

His expression was stunned silence.

On another instance on August 5th, on day shift before the initial collapse, Dale was trying to have his miner operator pull back when shift foreman Jesse Gordon (ph) came up and asked Dale, "What are you doing?" Dale said he told him it was too risky and he was pulling out.

Gordon told Dale, "You can't leave all that coal. Hit out harder on the bottom."

Dale said he wished he would have yelled and argued louder, pushed his point. He wanted them to move out further to section 121, but he was not being heard.

I feel this has something to do with the initial collapse on August 6th. But he did what he was told to do.

On the last day of Dale's life, August 16th, he didn't take his lunch bucket to work with him, which he did every day, even during all of this, and he also -- it was also the only day of the rescue he drove by himself. Why?

I have so many unanswered questions about the rescue, like who was in charge of it at the time of the rescue? Who approved of this mining plan, and who was to oversee this plan and that it was being followed correctly? And who in their right mind would send rescuers underground while the mine was still bouncing, then drill from the top when they had no idea what this would do to the stability of the mine while the miners were underground mining.

I would like to know how a K order, which is an imminent danger or a closure order, be modified 15 times as they proceeded into the mine. To my understanding from fellow workers, the plan was that only the minimum amount of workers would be in there while the miner was running.

When finally they got the miner up and ready to go, Bob Murray and the media came in. The underground MSHA worker, Mike Shumway (ph), told the operator not to start the miner until the plan was being followed. And another MSHA worker, Ted Farmer (ph), overrode this plan and told them to proceed.

My husband felt that he had to be there because of these trapped miners. They were his friends. Friends, all of them, and family in a way.

Dale was always first man in, last man out. He had told me about the letters and the pictures that the families had put up at the mine. The one he remembered the most said, "Please bring my daddy home."

This gave Dale the courage and determination to go back into that hell hole. I want to know if there are rules and regulations made to protect the miners, then who is to be accountable to make sure these rules and regulations are being followed?

Please at least have one person with enough backbone to say no more. MSHA has one job, Mine Safety and Health Administration. It would have taken just one MSHA official or one official from the company doing his job to have saved my husband's life. Which one of them wasn't doing their job?

Now explain something to me. How do you truthfully investigate yourself?

Thank you.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Thank you very much.

And our thanks and appreciation to all of the members...

COLLINS: We were just listening there to some very emotional testimony. That coming from Wendy Black. She's the wife of one of the miners who, if you remember, went in after the original first six trapped miners.

His name, Dale "Bird" Black. That's what he was known as.

So many questions from this tragedy that happened in August, of course, still today from those family members. Many of them have not spoken before in the public, but most of them centering around not only the way that they were treated in the aftermath and in those days, those agonizing days where they waited to get word on their family members who later became victims, but also about the safety of the mine and the conditions that they were working in.

We will continue to follow that for you.

HARRIS: And still ahead this morning in the CNN NEWSROOM, she is safe today, but a registered sex offender on the run accused of kidnapping a teenager.

COLLINS: A hostile workplace. New York Knicks coach Isiah Thomas found liable in a multimillion-dollar suit, but should the type of workplace have been a factor?

We'll talk with a leading employment attorney.

HARRIS: Fifth grade assignment, a crossword puzzle. But one clue spells out a racial slur.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's not something you want to teach, you know. I wouldn't put it out there to be taught that way.


HARRIS: Outraged parents demanding answers in Tennessee.



HARRIS: A major court decision. The owners of the New York Knicks and head coach Isiah Thomas found liable in a sexual harassment case. Does the workplace setting make a difference in these cases?

We're asking Ruth Eisenberg, an employment law attorney.

Ruth, good to see you.


HARRIS: I'm going to take you on a little bit here this morning, Ruth.

All right.

HARRIS: You ready to do a little battle here?

I'm ready for you, Tony.

HARRIS: All right.

Eleven million dollars -- plus. I'm a bit surprised, I must say, at the size of the award here.

Was there something extraordinary about the allegations, the claims, the charges in this case?

EISENBERG: Well, he charges were fairly salacious. There were charges of pretty bad language. There were some things that Coach Thomas said that I think did not serve him well. But you also have retaliation here.

HARRIS: Yes. Yes.

EISENBERG: You know, I don't think juries like to see somebody being fired because they complained about their workplace rights being abridged.

HARRIS: Well, then let me jump ahead and then I'll circle back.

EISENBERG: All right.

HARRIS: Don't -- this is a woman, Anucha Browne Sanders, who was a vice president in this company. Don't we begin to seriously have to have a conversation about that position of vice president in these companies? Because it doesn't appear this was a very empowered position, that she complains about the treatment from a coworker and the next thing, she's out. EISENBERG: Well, I think the message is you can't have any golden boys. You know, Coach Thomas may have been their golden boy. That's not allowed.

Also, there were some -- you know, I think the management of the Garden allowed a lot of things to go on. And I think the jury looked at that.

HARRIS: But Ruth, she's a former college basketball player, a former college basketball star. She's not unfamiliar with a little rough talk, a little trash talk. And she's in an intense environment, the NBA. These executives are trying to put an intense product on the court.

For a lot of people to claim sexual harassment because you hear some language that you don't like, seems a bit disingenuous.

EISENBERG: Well, no, Tony, I wouldn't look at it that way at all. I would say that you do not leave your rights at the door when you walk in the boardroom whether it's sports, whether it's law, whether it's media, or whether it's retail. And no employee should have to listen to that kind of language in the workplace.

Now, she's heard it before, sure. We've all heard it before.


EISENBERG: But we shouldn't have to hear it at work. And we certainly shouldn't be fired.

HARRIS: Yes, exactly. Should -- because I'm thinking about my daughter, and I don't want my daughter, you know, subjected to this kind of crass crap. But should the line be obvious at this point in our evolution to men and women? There is a line, it should be obvious, you can't cross it.

EISENBERG: I think the line is clear. Now, sure, there are some contexts that are going to differ.

You know, if a football player pats another football player on the butt, OK, that may be a little different. If you work as a sex educator, there are going to be words said that are not said...

HARRIS: Well, Ruth, I'm going to give you another example.

EISENBERG: All right.

HARRIS: Suppose I'm in the entertainment business, I am a top executive, say, I don't know -- I'll stay inside the company because it's probably safe -- say I'm working at HBO and I'm making filmed content, and my job is to be provocative and to push that envelope. So in discussions around the office, if you're a female employee and you hear some of this language, you can't start running to HR and complaining and yelling harassment. You just can't.

It's our business. EISENBERG: I think you really have to look at the context, Tony. This context was the board room.


EISENBERG: It didn't matter that she was a former player and that she was a tough cookie. She was a tough cookie, and, yes, there are going to be some workplaces where certain language is part of the job.


EISENBERG: But the "B" word is not part of the job.

HARRIS: So one last question. What is -- what is the way to handle -- and I'm not suggesting this was attraction in any way. But what is the way to handle attraction at work?

We know that folks in the work environment date, we know that folks in the work environment end up marrying coworkers. Again, how do we handle that situation?

EISENBERG: There's a big difference between sexual harassment and attraction. Right?


EISENBERG: Attraction is voluntary. Sure, that's where people meet. They meet in the workplace. It's voluntary. But the nature of sexual harassment is that it's unwanted.

HARRIS: Yes. I just wonder if that line gets blurred sometimes.

EISENBERG: It does. It does.

HARRIS: Ruth, great to see you.

EISENBERG: Thanks so much.

HARRIS: That wasn't so tough, huh? All right. See you next time. Thanks.

EISENBERG: Thanks very much, Tony.

COLLINS: Still ahead in the NEWSROOM, a chemical fire underground. Five workers lose their lives. The investigation, ahead.

Also, two toddlers drowned in a bathtub. The mother in court this morning. The father speaking out.

And federal bureaucrats flying in the lap of luxury? Most are supposed to travel coach, but many are upgrading on taxpayer dollars.

We'll tell you about that after a break.


HARRIS: OK. Here we are, bottom of the hour.

Welcome back, everyone, to the CNN NEWSROOM.

I'm Tony Harris.

COLLINS: Hi there, everybody. I'm Heidi Collins.

Fire at a Colorado power plant kills five people. Four others did escape. Nine workers were inside a water tunnel at the hydroelectric plant when it happened. Here is a closer look at the tunnel now. The company says the workers were doing routine maintenance hundreds of feet underground. Officials say the machine they were using malfunctioned. A fire ignited and the four people escaped from the tunnel, but we did mention the five remained trapped as the fire raged. A plant spokesman described the scene earlier on CNN's "AMERICAN MORNING."


TOM HENLEY, XCEL ENERGY SPOKESMAN: When the fire first started, we pumped down in fresh air through a pipeline, and sent them down oxygen bottles, and at that point in time they did have a radio and were in communication with us.


COLLINS: The workers died before the rescuers got to them.

TONY HARRIS, CNN ANCHOR: We are also keeping a close eye on this story, and we won't let it go, the search for a registered sex offender. Police say Bill Mitchell abducted a 15-year-old he met on the internet. Alyssa Frank was found yesterday at a Wal-Mart. Police say Mitchell apparently took the girl to the store to "dump her." Police say Mitchell is dangerous. Last hour Heidi talked to the sheriff about efforts to find the suspect.


SHERIFF GRADY JUDD, POLK COUNTY, FLORIDA: We're after William Mitchell. We have assistance from the U.S. marshals, the FBI, FDLE. We know that he's out there, and he's a predator. He's listed by Florida probation & parole as a high risk offender, and he's capable of striking again at any time. That's why we need him in custody.


HARRIS: Mitchell is believed to be driving a 2000 model black Chevrolet Lumina, Florida tag number G025EL.

COLLINS: A new development this morning in the case of an Ohio mother. She's accused of drowning her two daughters in a bathtub. Bail is set at $2 million for 22-year-old Amber Hill. She spent the night in jail on suicide watch and was in court this morning. The father of her 2 and 4-year-old girls spoke out. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JAMIE CINTRON, FATHER OF DROWNED GIRLS: She did that to them, she should pay for it. She had no reason to take their lives. They didn't do nothing to deserve this. They were just innocent little girls.


COLLINS: The father and police still trying to figure out why it happened. The funeral for the girls is scheduled for Saturday.

HARRIS: OK. Cleanup time after some stormy weather. We were showing you these pictures this morning. Pretty tough stuff here in some places. Residents in several communities in northeastern Missouri have a lot of work to do today. A strong storm, possibly from a tornado, ripped the area. Buildings damaged, power lines knocked down, large trees uprooted. Good news, no serious injuries reported.

COLLINS: Government employees upgrading their plane tickets and, guess what, you get the bill. The government report finds 53,000 first class or business class tickets for federal workers in just one year. The cost, $230 million. $146 million worth of those upgrades never authorized.

HARRIS: A CNN correspondent moonlighting? Feeling pride at the fish factory.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: There's a lot of repetition going on here.

HARRIS: Is that Dan Lothian? I think that's Dan Lothian. I'm sure it's Dan Lothian. A day in the life of an immigrant worker coming up for you in the NEWSROOM.

COLLINS: And female athletes and injuries. Surprising new numbers about the risk of concussions among girls. More details from our Dr. Sanjay Gupta coming up.

HARRIS: A death that shocked the nation more than a half century ago. Now a Mississippi county apologizes.



COLLINS: Think of athletes and head injuries. You probably think of boys playing football, but in some sports, girls may be more likely to suffer concussions. Here now is our chief medical correspondent, Dr. Sanjay Gupta.

DR. SANJAY GUPTA, CNN CHIEF MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: It's actually somewhat surprising to actually look at the rate of concussions among high school students. Almost 10 percent, about 9 percent of all injuries are actually concussions. And this was actually a study done out of Ohio looking at several different high schools across the state. Now, sort of fascinating. What was particularly interesting is this gender difference that seemed to emerge as well. Girls actually having higher rates of concussions than boys. That was surprising I think even to the researchers.

There were two sports in particular that seemed to be the most problematic. Soccer, for example, with a concussion rate was about 1.5 times that of boys, and basketball where it was three times. Now keep in mind, football still causes the most concussions, about 40 percent of all concussions actually as a result of football.

Now why is this? Why does the gender difference occur? A few different reasons. It could be that boys have stronger neck muscles actually able to tolerate impact better than girls. It could be social or cultural differences, girls more likely to report some of these symptoms. Or it could just be that coaches and parents are more protective of girls in general so actually watching for those symptoms more commonly.

Keep in mind, concussion is a serious brain injury no matter who it is, a boy or a girl. Take a look at what happens to the brain here. Think of the brain sort of as this gelatinous substance within the skull. There is a force. It actually causes the brain to move back and forth. That can sometimes cause micro bleeding. It can cause micro tears. It can cause lots of symptoms. Some of those symptoms are sort of characteristic of concussion. They are headaches. They are dizziness. They are confusion. Those are the characteristic ones, but there's also vague symptoms such as nausea, irritability, lethargy, problems sleeping, sensitivity to light and noise. Most commonly, kids just may have difficulty concentrating, and that can be a problem especially when the child is a high school student. If your child has had concussive symptoms and is having some of these symptoms as well, it's worth getting it checked out.

Keep in mind, a second concussion is much worse than the first. You may not want that child to go back to the field to continue to play. Talk to your doctor about it.

Back to you.

COLLINS: To get your daily dose of health news online, you can always log on to our website. You will find the latest medical news, a health library and information on diet and fitness. The address,

HARRIS: Fifth graders learning a lesson of hate? The "n" word in a school assignment. As you can imagine, parents are outraged.


HARRIS: Hard work but somebody has got to do it. The immigrants taking on the tough jobs. CNN's Dan Lothian and our series "Uncovering America."


DAN LOTHIAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: The moon is still up when they arrive for work. Immigrants mostly from South America getting an early start to a long day, processing fish at this plant in New Bedford, Massachusetts. It's a job that owner Lou Martins, himself a Portuguese immigrant, says most Americans often reject.

LOU MARTINS, FISH PROCESSOR: There's a lot of companies out there that need hard workers. We just can't find them unless they're foreigners. We tried advertising. It has to be the immigrant really because no one else wants to do it.

LOTHIAN: Anyone who thinks otherwise he says should spend a day at his plant. So I did.

My job is to remove small blemishes by hand from cod and haddock and then use this machine to remove the skin. It doesn't take long before this process becomes uncomfortable. Back is getting a little sore. Hands get cold, feet get tired, and there's a lot of repetition going on here. Fish after fish after fish. Hour after hour. I think I'm ready for a break, but it's not break time yet.

Around me, workers who the company says are here legally to lay fish, remove bones, and package the stock for delivery. The fish odor is strong. That I can sort of get used to. But everything is wet with cold temperatures and ice to keep fish fresh. My hands aren't getting any warmer.

Here are my frozen fingertips. Nice and cold. When it gets too bad, a dip in a can of warm water helps. My Portuguese partner says this job doesn't get any easier over time. So one reason Martins says he can't retain non-immigrants.

MARTINS: If I see them one day, they usually don't come back.

LOTHIAN: It's not just the hard work. It's the unpredictability.

CORRIN WILLIAMS, DIR. COMMUNITY ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT CENTER: One doesn't know. One week you could work one week 20 hours and the next week 30 or 40 or 50 hours. You don't have the stability of a regular paycheck in these jobs.

LOTHIAN: After six hours on my feet, 2,000 fish processed, the supply runs out. I think that's it. That's it. If I had been paid, my total take would have been $60.


HARRIS: Check out, special online report, the Hispanic experience today. Read about the real issues facing the Latino community and significant moments in Hispanic history. You can also share your stories and photos through an I-report. That and more at

COLLINS: "YOUR WORLD TODAY" is coming up in just about ten minutes or so. Hala Gorani is here for us today to take a look at the show.

Hi there, Hala.

HALA GORANI, CNN ANCHOR: Hi Heidi. Indeed, at the top of the hour I join Michael Holmes and myself. We're going to be taking you to Southeast Asia and CNN exclusive pictures of the military crackdown in Myanmar. Our Dan Rivers is reporting on that story for us.

Also, we're going to be taking you live to London. The inquest into the death of Princess Diana continues, and what you see there is the last known picture of Diana alive released this day. We will be showing you those pictures and telling you more about the judicial inquest into her death a decade after you can still see she's making headlines in the UK.

Radiohead, I don't know if you guys are Radiohead fans. In any case, the UK rock band is telling fans that they - we don't have the pictures there but we had a nice snazzy video. We'll have it for you at the top of the hour anyway. Fans get to choose how much they want to pay for the Radiohead album. So that means that if they feel like paying nothing, they pay nothing. It's an interesting sociological experiment as far as I'm concerned. We're going to be following that story and telling you how that experiment has going in the first 24 hours.

Back to you guys.

HARRIS: OK. Hala, appreciate it. See you at the top of the hour.

SUSAN LISOVICZ, CNN ANCHOR: I'm Susan Lisovicz at the New York Stock Exchange where a new jacket may be all the rage for gamers. Details about this silicone accessory, next. You're watching CNN, the most trusted name in news.


COLLINS: We want to show you these pictures that are coming into us just now into CNN. We are understanding that there's some sort of suspicious item that has been found in Los Angeles. You can try to get a good look at it there. You see the officer going up close to it. This is coming in from our affiliate KTLA.

Again, some sort of suspicious item has been found outside of a courthouse. In fact, the same court house where the Phil Spector trial has been going on. We do believe that that courthouse has been evacuated, is that correct guys, just as a safety precaution. Fredricka Whitfield has been working on this story for us now and has a little bit more information.

FREDRICKA WHITFIELD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, I think you've given all the information that I have. I mean, these are the new pictures, and they're trying to investigate further what the suspicious package is. It's a judicial complex, so there are a number of courthouses and related offices in the building. Evacuations are, indeed, under way. As you see here, they investigate further into what it is exactly.

HARRIS: OK, Fred, thank you.

HARRIS: Two businesses, now two big companies are hoping to take a bite out of Apple. Microsoft and Verizon are both launching new products just in time for the holidays.

Susan Lisovicz is at the New York Stock Exchange with a look at the new gadgets.

Susan, good morning.

LISOVICZ: Good morning to you, Tony. You're going to hear these names over and over in the next couple months. Verizon's holiday lineup, which was debuted today, includes the voyager which looks a lot like Apple's I-phone. The voyager has a large touch screen, camera, and extensive multimedia but it out does the I-phone by folding open to reveal a physical keyboard, something that's lacking in the I-phone. Verizon has not attached a price to the voyager, but it says it will be on store shelves before Thanksgiving.

Meanwhile, Microsoft is taking aim at the I-pod once again. The company revealing the second generation of its Zune digital music player. The prices which are between $149 and $249 and are comparable to the I-pod but the existing Zune models have barely made a dent in the I-pod dominant 70 percent market share and Microsoft wants some it bad.

HARRIS: 70 percent? Man, that is huge. I've got to tell you something. I was able, Susan as you know, to fend off their request from my son last year for this WII. Something tells me he already knows about this new accessory, and I won't be so lucky this time around.

LISOVICZ: You know, see, you're trying to protect him. It can be dangerous to be a gamer. That's what every parent wants to do, to protect their children. This new accessory, Tony, isn't about style. It's about safety. Nintendo is offering free silicone covers for the WII controller. Just go to to sign up for one. Apparently gamers get out of control, things start flying. It can get very dangerous, Tony. So that's what that accessory is all about, not style.

HARRIS: Outstanding. Susan Lisovicz in the NEWSROOM again. See you next hour, Susan. Appreciate it. Thank you.

LISOVICZ: You got it.

COLLINS: Fifth grade assignment, a crossword puzzle, but one clue spells out a racial slur. Outraged parents demanding answers in Tennessee.


HARRIS: The death of Emmett Till a half century ago horrified the nation. Now an apology from the Mississippi county where an all white jury acquitted two white men in Till's murder. The county board of supervisors issued a resolution Tuesday apologizing to the Till family. The county also dedicated a marker commemorating the case. 14-year-old Till was snatched from his home in the summer of 1955. He was accused of whistling at a white woman. His mutilated body was found three days later floating in the Tallahatchie River.

COLLINS: A puzzling lesson, one word causing an uproar and now apologies from a school. This story from our affiliate WTVC in Dunlap, Tennessee.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Clifford Brannon was left speechless by the history lesson his fifth grade son brought home. On this crossword puzzle about the civil war, there were simple vocabulary words like cabin, smokehouse, lantern, but then there was this word.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Along with its clue, 17 across, an insulting way to label a black person.

BRANNON: It's not something you want to teach, you know. I wouldn't put it out there to be taught that way.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: His son's teacher assigned the homework Friday as a supplement to the book his class at Sequatchie County Middle School is reading. The book, Founder, is widely used in classrooms nationwide to illustrate the civil war through the eyes of a young black boy. Teaching history is fine, according to this father, but he says putting out a word like this in a crossword puzzle crosses the line between history and hate.

Here at Sequatchie County Middle School, the civil war is part of the fifth grade curriculum, and that means dealing with some pretty heavy and controversial words, but school officials now admit this worksheet is not the way to do it.

According to middle school Principal Donald Johnson, "A mistake was made. This word should have never come up on a worksheet like this. I can't defend it."

Johnson says the fifth grade teacher pulled the worksheet from the web site he says she was aware the word was listed but justified it as a way to teach students that that is bad connotations. But Clifford Brannon says it was not a lesson his son should have learned.

BRANNON: Especially when you're trying to teach your children something that you know that you don't want them to say. Then they you know teach that in school.

COLLINS: The teacher who was white has apologized to the parents of her students. The principal says he is not sure if there were any African American kids in the class.

CNN NEWSROOM continues just one hour from now.

Kyra Phillips and Don Lemon are working hard to bring you the very latest on several big stories developing today. HARRIS: "YOUR WORLD TODAY" is next. See what's happening across the globe and here at home. I'm Tony Harris.

COLLINS: Have a great day, everybody.