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Minnesota Judge Denies Senator Larry Craig's Request to Withdraw Guilty Plea; Racism in the Ranks?; Fatal Armed Car Robbery in Philadelphia

Aired October 4, 2007 - 14:00   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


DON LEMON, CNN ANCHOR: Breaking news this hour involving Senator Larry Craig.
We go straight to the Hill now and CNN's Dana Bash -- Dana.

DANA BASH, CNN CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: The breaking news is that Senator Craig just got some very, very bad news from a judge in Minnesota. The judge has denied Senator Craig's request to withdraw his guilty plea, his guilty plea that he signed admitting to disorderly conduct in a men's room in Minneapolis back in June.

Now, what this means is pretty unclear in terms of Senator Craig's political future, Don. Why? Because you remember Senator Craig initially said he was going to resign effective September 30th. He delayed that last week after the judge in Minnesota heard the plea from his lawyers asking for his guilty plea to be withdrawn. So it is unclear now if the senator is going to go ahead and try to appeal this or if he is going to go ahead and proceed as he had indicated and certainly suggested before, that he is going to leave the Senate.

I just spoke with one of the senator's legal spokespeople, and they said that they are going to have a statement from the senator's lawyer very soon and letting us know exactly what his plan of attack now will be, if you will.

Now, it certainly seemed to lots of Republicans here that since the senator surprised everybody just a couple of weeks ago coming back to the Senate, and he's been voting in the Senate, he's been attending committee hearings, there's been sort of a sense from talking to Republicans that Senator Craig has been trying to find a way to stay in the Senate. But it is really unclear since he's not gotten a lot of support from the Republicans that really tried to force him to resign from the beginning whether or not he will do that, especially now that the judge has flatly denied Senator Craig's request to withdraw that guilty plea in Minnesota.

LEMON: Dana, thank you.

(NEWSBREAK)

PHILLIPS: A rope tied into a noose and left to be found by a black person or someone involved in African-American issues. If you don't think a noose is an offensive and threatening symbol, you're simply naive. Nooses triggered the Jena 6 case. Pictures of children with a noose infuriated parents at Grambling State University just last week. When nooses turned up at a training ship used by the Coast Guard and again at the Coast Guard Academy, the admiral in charge took action.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

PHILLIPS (voice over): In July, a black Coast Guard cadet finds a noose stuffed in his personal belongings while at sea on board the training ship Eagle.

REAR ADM. SCOTT BURHOE, U.S. COAST GUARD ACADEMY: He really was hurt as a result of it, was very concerned.

PHILLIPS: So far, investigations have not found who was responsible.

Fast forward to two weeks later. The Coast Guard Academy's civil rights officer prepares race relations training for cadets headed for that same ship. She finds a noose in her office.

The commandant of the U.S. Coast Guard, Admiral Thad Allen, says those responsible will be held accountable. In a letter to the entire Coast Guard he says, "This type of racist conduct runs counter to our core values and will not be tolerated." Those core values include honor, devotion to duty, and respect.

The chairman of the congressional subcommittee overseeing the Coast Guard is also speaking out

REP. ELIJAH CUMMINGS (D), MARYLAND: These are going to be our future leaders, and the last thing you want are your leaders not being tolerant. And that's one of the reasons why I wanted the very head of the Coast Guard to go up there and make it clear that we will not tolerate these kinds of things.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

PHILLIPS: The man in charge of the Coast Guard tells me he's disappointed. Knowing him as I do, that's a bit of an understatement. He's Admiral Thad Allen, U.S. Coast Guard commandant, and he joins me now live from Washington, D.C.

Admiral, thanks for being with me.

ADM. THAD ALLEN, U.S. COAST GUARD COMMANDANT: Good afternoon, Kyra.

PHILLIPS: I want to go back to that e-mail that you sent out to the entire U.S. Coast Guard. We heard a little bit about it in the piece that I just did to set you up, but you made it very clear that this is behavior that you are not going to tolerate at all.

Tell me what you're going to say to the cadets today as you travel to the academy. ALLEN: Well, Kyra, the events that occurred are absolutely against our core values, as you stated. But they're very inconsistent with the mission of the Coast Guard, a real humanitarian service. We save people's lives.

We have to watch out for each other when we're doing rescue operations and the country expects that we're going to perform to a high level. You cannot do that when you create these types of environments, and I won't tolerate it and I don't expect my people to either.

PHILLIPS: So tell me what the Coast Guard is doing right now about this criminal investigation into these two incidents involving nooses.

ALLEN: Well, Kyra, at the time of the incidents, we did what was called an admin investigation or a preliminary inquiry. That didn't produce any results. So now we have a criminal investigation under way, and currently there are 13 agents at the Coast Guard Academy conducting interviews.

PHILLIPS: All right. Admiral, stay with me. We're going to take a quick break. We're going to continue this interview.

Also straight ahead, we're going to be talking about a black student held against his will. Authorities say that KKK and swastikas were scrawled on his body. Was it a hate crime? Well, police investigate this pretty bizarre incident at a high school on the Gallaudet University campus.

Plus, another blow to Senate Republicans. New Mexico Senator Pete Domenici is retiring. We're going to tell you what prompted his decision.

You're watching CNN, the most trusted name in news.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

PHILLIPS: Two suspects sought in a fatal robbery of an armored car. A news conference held right now.

Let's listen in.

(JOINED IN PROGRESS)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: That's correct.

QUESTION: And no money has been recovered, correct?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: No.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

PHILLIPS: I'm going to continue my interview now. We're talking about hate symbols, unspoken threats, and where these threats are being made. Two nooses, two hateful messages sent to a Coast Guard cadet and a civil rights officer at the Coast Guard Academy.

Joining us again live, Admiral Thad Allen, the U.S. Coast Guard commandant.

Sir, we talked about the fact that you are headed to the academy to address cadets today, that you will not tolerate this kind of behavior. We discussed the Coast Guard's criminal investigation.

Now I want to ask you about these two incidents. Has this ever happened before at the U.S. Coast Guard?

ALLEN: Well, Kyra, I've asked our civil rights office to take a look at recent reports around the Coast Guard, and last year we had two incidents where nooses were found at workplaces, but there was no activity directed at an individual. There was immediate action taken by the commands. In one case, the noose was actually a result of a knot-tying training event for our people and they were counseled.

PHILLIPS: Well, you bring up a very interesting point, too, and this was new to me. I had no idea that the Coast Guard had a civil rights director. I had no idea that you had civil rights officers.

Tell me about Terri Dickerson. I understand she's your director of civil rights. She's going with you to the academy. She's a black female.

Why do you have this position, and why does she direct -- report directly to you?

ALLEN: Well, Kyra, we've had a director of civil rights in the Coast Guard for many years. We have a headquarters staff of 21 and we have 27 permanently assigned people in the field to assist our commanding officers in dealing with human relations complaints and provide them advice.

Terri Dickerson is a senior executive in government, reports directly to me, one of only a handful of people in headquarters that does that. And again, this underscores our commitment to make sure that we have workplaces free of a hostile environment.

PHILLIPS: And talk to me about the serious nature of these incidents, how it's impacted your men and women, your men and women of color, and how it's impacted your organization.

ALLEN: Well, this is a demoralizing event to the entire service, and especially to people of color. They need to be able to work in an environment that's free of hostility and be able to work as a team in the Coast Guard.

PHILLIPS: When you find -- and notice I say "when you find" -- the person or persons responsible for these actions, how will they be held accountable? And if they are found guilty of a hate crime, could that take it to an entirely different level? ALLEN: Well, Kyra, when cadets enter the Coast Guard Academy, they take an oath to support and defend the Constitution of the United States, like all our people in the Coast Guard do, and they are held to the same standard of conduct that active duty Coast Guard officers are held to. And quite frankly, under the Uniform Code of Military Justice, this is conduct unbecoming an officer.

PHILLIPS: Is this something that could get an individual or individuals kicked out of the U.S. Coast Guard?

ALLEN: Well, under the Uniform Code of Military Justice, which is a separate justice system that applies to military members, it actually exerts a higher standard of conduct for those who serve the country. There's a range of options from administrative measures at the local level, clear up including a court-martial.

PHILLIPS: A court-martial, so it can go that far.

Let me ask you this, too, Admiral. For blacks, Hispanics, American-Indians, anyone of color who is thinking about joining the Coast Guard or they are in the Coast Guard right now, should they fear for their safety?

ALLEN: I don't think this is a matter of physical safety, Kyra. This is a matter of a hostile work environment that we have to get rid of.

PHILLIPS: Why is diversity important to you? Why is this a personal mission for you, not just a professional one?

ALLEN: Well, anybody who serves this country serves one of the most diverse countries in the world. The people we serve need to see a Coast Guard that looks like them and we need to understand the cultural differences and be sensitive to the fact that the people we're saving out there come from very different walks of life.

PHILLIPS: Final question. You and your director of civil rights, Terri Dickerson, headed to the academy right now to speak to cadets. How will the two of you address them? Your mission, what you're going to say, and her mission.

ALLEN: Well, we're going to find out how this happened, and we have a very detailed investigation ongoing, but we need to figure out moving forward how to prevent this in the future and how to create the right work environment for all of our people. Everybody needs to have the promise that when you enter the Coast Guard you'll be treated equally, fairly, and so we will treat you the same way as the people that we save out there.

PHILLIPS: Admiral Thad Allen, sure appreciate your time today, sir.

ALLEN: Thank you.

PHILLIPS: And one more noose incident. This one on military property in eastern Alabama. Army officials looking for the person who tied a noose to a utility pole at the Anniston Army Depot. Officials promise quick disciplinary action if they find the person or persons responsible.

Now, the Coast Guard maintains an Office of Civil Rights to handle issues and charges of inequality in the ranks. The other military branches do as well with their own titles.

The Army's Equal Employment Opportunity and Civil Rights Office handles cases of alleged unequal treatment for both active duty soldiers and civilian employees. The Air Force's Equal Opportunity Office watches over that branch's assignment and civilian hiring practices. And the Navy, which includes the Marine Corps, promises equal treatment to all its service members regardless of race, creed or color.

LEMON: Million-dollar homes are in danger in the danger zone after earth gives way in San Diego.

The latest on a landslide. And I'll speak to a homeowner live coming up in the CNN NEWSROOM.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

LEMON: We have breaking news and some sad news to report. Those two armored guards that were killed outside of Philadelphia this morning, in the northeast section of Philadelphia, they have been identified, and here's the other sad part. They were retired Philadelphia city police officers and lifelong friends.

The picture you're looking at now is Joseph Allullo. He is 50 years old. One of the armored guards there, again, a retired Philadelphia police officer. And then also William Widmayer, 65 years old, a retired Philadelphia police officer. These two men were killed.

You heard the police commissioner say, Sylvester Johnson, execution style outside of that bank in northeast Philadelphia this morning. There was a third guard involved. They believe the bullet grazed him. He's recovering in hospital. They are also looking at him as a potential witness, obvious, to all of this, to see what information he knows.

These right here, this is what you're looking at, stills from surveillance video captured right during this robbery. Police are asking for anyone's help. They are also using this videotape to try to track down that gunman, a manhunt going on now in Philadelphia.

Again, two retired Philadelphia police officers, both of those armored guards, killed this morning by an armed robber -- Kyra.

PHILLIPS: Million dollar homes on the edge. A state of emergency is in place in the La Jolla area of San Diego after yesterday's landslides. After the earth moved more than 100 homes were evacuated, two were destroyed. This morning residents of 75 homes were allowed back in, but it's still a pretty precarious situation.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MAYOR JERRY SANDERS, SAN DIEGO, CALIFORNIA: If we have heavy rains tomorrow, we're obviously going to be very aware of what's going on. But right now one of the things that's absolutely critical is that we bring in the forward-looking geology firm that will tell us what the whole situation is here, in the entire neighborhood.

And let's go back. This started occurring in the 1960s when they actually had a landslide in this very area when they started building homes. It destroyed the homes, and they had to regrade and rebuild, so we know that this is an area that's prone to landslides.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

PHILLIPS: So far, there are no reports of injuries. The neighborhood is just a few miles from the Pacific Ocean.

LEMON: Kyra, one of the homes slammed by that mudslide belongs to Ross Clark. His neighbor's home was destroyed. And Clark is with us now from San Diego.

We thank you for joining us. Sorry for your loss and your neighbor's losses as well. How are you holding up today?

ROSS CLARK, LOST HOME IN LANDSLIDE: Great. I mean, you know, nobody got hurt, nobody got killed so I guess, you know, when you consider that we're doing great.

LEMON: And just very interesting, I'm looking at some of the comments that you made and that were reported. You said you saw this big sinkhole in front of your home. You heard trees -- the cement buckling. You heard things falling from trees and the animals in the neighborhood were going crazy. Take us back to that time when it started to sink.

CLARK: Well, I suppose at 8:45 yesterday, when I got home my wife called me up and said the street in front of our house are risen in spots over 12 or 15 inches. And so I came home at approximate 8:45. We were standing in front of our house and we heard all the pine tree -- pine cones on all the trees around us were dropping and we heard a bunch of trees cracking and saw a bunch of boulders rolling down the hill.

There was an engineer who works for the city 30 feet to our left, who started running and yelling, run, run, go, go. And about that time we saw the bank start to come down, almost on top of us. So I grabbed my son and our dogs, and we just took off running away from it. And we turned around we saw a huge landslide wipe out our pool wall, our wall and it just demolished our neighbor's house.

LEMON: And, Ross, tell us, you guys have been dealing with this for a while and you've had a little bit of time for this to sort of settle in here. What do you think of the situation there because you had been warned about it? It had been talked about among the neighborhood association and the government there? CLARK: I'll tell you exactly what I think. We've seen, where it's falling down right now, and where the sinkhole is there's been broken water lines there going on for about four months. A lot of water has been coming up. They (UNINTELLIGIBLE) trying to fix it. They keep leap-frogging around to try to do the repairs.

LEMON: Obviously, you don't sound very happy about this at all.

CLARK: Well, hey, it looks like our house might be totaled and our insurance does not cover that. That's a retirement gone right there.

LEMON: That's understandable. I'm talking about the situation that led up to this. The problems that you mentioned.

CLARK: I know. We were informed by Mr. Hawk, he's one of the senior geologist for the city of San Diego, that it would be a real slow shift if any towards our house and that it would be localized and across the street, and never come across the road. Well, four and a half days ago water started to come up through the street, it was boiling up.

And Mr. Hawk was out there to trying to get the water utilities department to shut off the water, wherever it was coming from. And I understand he was frustrated. He was trying to do his job. And there was a lack of communication or something, but for four straight days water was coming out of the street in front of our house and going back in the ground. I wasn't aware --

LEMON: You're talking about just in the last couple of days that you guys have been dealing with water issues, but this has actually been going on for years, where you've been having problems with homes and property sort of sliding, or moving in that area. You knew that the ground was shifting because you had to repair it.

CLARK: Well, in actuality our house and the house below us and to our left, and to our right, are all cut out of mountain. There was no slipping any time in our area, where our houses were. I was unaware there was a huge landslide back here in the late '60s. Nobody ever told us until I was at a town hall meeting last night and I actually saw it. That was the first time it was brought to my attention that there was a landslide above our house, which actually did not affect our property, back in the '60s.

But for four and a half days there was water coming out of the ground and going back into the ground. And I think if they were aware of all these problems they should have had someone get the hell out there and turn the water off before it could soak the grounds underneath our home.

Our neighbor's home is gone. Just washed down the canyon, part of our house, the backyard our pool. We haven't been able to see the extent of the damage. We were told our house might be totaled.

LEMON: I said at the beginning of this, Ross, we're really sorry. And if you can tell, us, what are you going to do from here? CLARK: We're looking for a new place to go, new place to move. We feel fortunate that nobody got hurt. It could have been a lot worse.

LEMON: Yes, Ross Clark, a La Jolla resident. Sorry about your loss and we wish you the best. Take care of yourself.

CLARK: Thank you.

PHILLIPS: Well, he served his state for more than three decades, but his health is forcing him to call off one more campaign. Ahead in the NEWSROOM we'll take a look at the brain disease that's forcing Senator Pete Domenici to wrap up his career in Washington.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

LEMON: New Mexico Senator Pete Domenici is expected to announce later today that he has run, well, his last campaign. He's retiring, and we've learned because he suffers from progressive brain disease. That condition, which has no cure, can cause problems with decision- making, mood and behavior.

Let's bring in our Medical Correspondent Elizabeth Cohen. She joins us to tell us about the senator's condition.

He says he's been dealing with this for a while now?

ELIZABETH COHEN, CNN MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: He hasn't said exactly how long. We know he's known about it since at least this past April. That's what he's told CNN. I expect we'll hear later how long he's known about it. It could be for years.

This is a very slow, degenerative, progressive disease. The symptoms start out slowly and get worse. Let's tell you exactly the name of what the senator apparently has. Frontotemporal Lobar Degeneration, a progressive form of dementia; it affects organization, decision-making, mood, behavior, communication and personality.

I asked a neurologist who treats this, give me an example, what do people do when they have this disease? They said there's a range. For example, someone who is always a very loving grandparent might push the grandchild away when the grandchild wants a hug. Someone who was terrific at balancing the checkbook, conservative with spending might all of a sudden see ads in magazines and go out and buy everything and spend their entire life savings.

But it gets worse with time. And what makes it really different is that it is usually diagnosed around 50, sort of between 40 and 60. This is actually relatively late in the game, and we don't know when it was diagnosed. But, you know, as a 40-year-old you can start to get this. Can you imagine your 40-year-old spouse starts behaving like this. Dementia is the last thing you think of.

LEMON: Usually people think of this older, Alzheimer's that kind of thing, that sort of behavior.

COHEN: Right.

LEMON: So, you talk about the behavior and what happens. What exactly does it do to the brain?

COHEN: What it does to the brain is it actually shrinks the lobes of the brain. You can see it on imaging. If affects two of the lobes, the frontal lobes, which is what's behind your forehead. And the temporal lobes, which are above the ears, and again, it actually shrinks the lobes.

LEMON: So, how is it diagnosed then?

COHEN: What happens is people have these symptoms, and again, as I said, they often show up when people are relatively young, in their 40s, 50s, or 60s. So oftentimes it's misdiagnosed. A doctor says oh, it must be depression. Oh, it must be bipolar disorder when in fact, it's this neurological disorder. And they do a CAT scan or an MRI and they can actually see it on the images and match it up with the symptoms, and it paints a whole picture.

LEMON: Elizabeth Cohen, thank you.

COHEN: Thanks.

PHILLIPS: The first trial of a person accused of illegally sharing music is now in the hands of a jury. Susan Lisovicz is at the New York Stock Exchange to tell us what it means for music fans and the music industry.

Hey, Susan.

SUSAN LISOVICZ, CNN FINANCIAL CORRESPONDENT: Hey, Kyra. Well, six record labels accused a Minnesota woman of violating copyright laws by sharing 1,700 songs. The record industry is seeking damages for 24 of those songs, but hasn't said how much it wants. If found liable, the woman could be order to pay $18,000 and more than $3.5 million.

The record companies say she used an account from a file-sharing program called Kazaa to download and share the music. The woman denies ever having had an account from Kazaa -- Kyra.

PHILLIPS: It sounds like the record industry is still pretty serious about pursuing these lawsuits?

LISOVICZ: Yeah, for a lot of reasons. But they all revolve around money, Kyra. They're losing money, some of it, perhaps, critics say, self-inflicted. Some of it just a sign of the times with these new emerging technologies and how we listen and get music.

This is the first of a reported 26,000 cases to go to trial. The other cases it has brought so far have been settled out of court with a fine of a few thousand dollars. The recording industry says it is trying to protect its artists and teach people that music is a property and it is a valuable property at that. It says regardless of how this trial turns out it will continue to sue listeners on an individual basis.

The recording industry has been aggressively targeting college students sending out letters to universities whose networks it believes have been used for illegal downloading. It also has been running ads in college papers across the country. The industry says global theft and piracy costs the U.S. economy more than $12 billion. That's from 2006 alone.

Turning to the markets, well, we're not seeing money like that. Stocks barely moving with investors cautious ahead of tomorrow's monthly jobs report. That should give us a better sense of how the labor market is holding up under the housing slump and credit crunch. You may remember that last month's report showed the economy actually lost a few thousand jobs. We're expecting some job creation with September's report, at least we're hoping that is the case.

Checking the numbers, the Dow is down 5 points. The Nasdaq is down 3 points. Shares of Research In Motion are in motion, gaining 2 percent. The company that makes Blackberry is set to announce earnings after the closing bell, and received an analyst upgrade.

In the next hour of NEWSROOM want your employees to slim down. Nothing says give up the doughnuts like cold, hard cash. Let's tell you about the wallet-to-waistline connection in the next hour.

PHILLIPS: Not about Krispy Kreme, doesn't matter how much you're going to pay.

LEMON: We always get Dunkin' at the meetings.

PHILLIPS: That's true.

LISOVICZ: We can always up the ante.

(LAUGHTER)

LISOVICZ: There's a certain point when you may just change your mind.

PHILLIPS: See you in a little bit, Susan.

LEMON: All right. Did you start your holiday shopping yet?

PHILLIPS: I kind of do it all throughout the year.

LEMON: Do you?

PHILLIPS: A little gift shop in my house.

LEMON: I do mine like at the very last second. You know that. We went Christmas shopping last year.

PHILLIPS: I tried to help you with your mom's gift. She wasn't too happy it was late.

LEMON: Yeah, it was late. Oh, well. Our holiday shopping begins in a matter of weeks, or at least it should. But there are some gifts you won't be able to get. Brianna Keilar is on that story for us.

Brianna, what are you finding out?

BRIANNA KEILAR, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Don, eight new product recalls, all of them because of lead, all from China. We have a big list for you including toys, water bottles, even bookmarks. And we'll have important details for you ahead in the CNN NEWSROOM.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

PHILLIPS: Toys fit for this year's Christmas list seem to be getting fewer by the day. It's hard to believe, but there is yet another toy recall to tell you about. Our Brianna Keilar is live in Washington with all the details.

Brianna, tell us it isn't so?

KEILAR: Well, it is so, Kyra. And it's not just toys. These are eight new recalls announced today by the Consumer Product Safety Commission, all of them because of lead concerns, all of them made in China. I'm going to tell you about some of these items and then I'll tell you what to do if you have any of them.

First, we have a picture actually of these decorating sets. They are sold by Toys "R" Us, this something that a girl might decorate her room with. There may be lead in the mirror. And, and next Frankenstein tumblers, apparently there may be lead in the surface paint that's on the center of Frankenstein's eyes, you can see there. This is distributed by Dollar General stores.

Also something you may be concerned about, wooden toys, three different types. These are distributed or actually -- let me skip to this -- this is a keychain, Pirates of the Caribbean Medallion keychain, flashlight key chain. There could be lead in the paint on the leather strap.

And here you're looking at wooden toys, three different types, distributed by KB Toys. There is a concern that there could be lead in the surface paint. This is a cart. There's also a wagon. And they all have alphabet blocks in them. There is also a set that is just alphabet blocks.

Also, another concern about a keychain, 192,000 key chains actually, distributed by Dollar General stores. Key chains that say wisdom, truth and love. We don't have a picture of these, but again, these are from Dollar General store. And something else you may be concerned about, recall of Baby Einstein color blocks. These are kind of soft blocks. There's a concern there could be lead in the blue block in particular.

Also character-themed bookmarks and journals. Concern that there could be paint on spiral bindings and clips-on clips and other parts of the bookmarks. Some of the themes of these bookmarks include Winnie The Pooh, breast cancer, and some religious messages. For this one in particular you really want to go to the government website CPSC.gov. Because there's a lot of different themes. You're going to want to check all of them out.

And also a new edition, the eighth recall, Sports Authority alpine design aluminum water bottle.

If you have any of the items, most of them are toys, take them away from your children. And you'll either want to return them to the store where you bought them or you'll want to return them to the manufacturer. At CPSC.gov you can see exactly what the instructions are, Kyra.

PHILLIPS: CPSC.gov, that's the website.

KEILAR: That's right.

PHILLIPS: All right, Brianna Keilar, thanks very much.

LEMON: All right, some important information, the day would not be complete if we didn't bring you the latest on Britney Spears, but there's other stuff going on in Hollywood.

Kareen Wynter, what do you have for us today?

KAREEN WYNTER, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Hi there, Don.

I'm coming to you with more and more Britney Spears news from Hollywood. A mea culpa also from ABC and "Desperate Housewives" producers. I'll tell you more about that when CNN NEWSROOM continues. Stick around.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

LEMON: Of course, Britney Spears is still on everyone's minds, especially Kyra's here.

(LAUGHTER)

PHILLIPS: Don't go there, Don.

LEMON: And why are the "Desperate Housewives" producers apologizing. Kareen Wynter in Los Angeles to tell us all about this.

Kareen, what do you have for us?

WYNTER: Hi, there, Don. We're going to dish about everything today.

But first let's get the Britney Spears news out of the way, shall we? Yesterday we learned that she lost her bid to regain custody of her kids from ex-husband Kevin Federline, AKA, K-Fed. But now some in Hollywood are ready to help the troubled pop star.

That's right, actress Tatum O'Neill says that she really feels sad for her and that she can relate to Britney. That's because the 43- year-old O'Neill has battled addiction herself in the past. She said being forced to do the drug testing was a humbling time for her. And, Don, get this, even Doctor Phil is weighing in, Doctor Phil McGraw. He's speaking out and he says through his spokesperson he would be willing to help Britney if she so chooses.

Meanwhile, the next court day for Spears and Federline's court proceedings is set for October 26th.

OK, so it was a scene that lasted less than 30 seconds, but ABC network and the producers of "Desperate Housewives" are still apologizing for it.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Before we go any further, can I check your diplomas because I would like to make sure they are not from some med school in the Philippines.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: There's a simple blood test.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

WYNTER: Those are the lines that caused quite an uproar from those in the Filipino community and now ABC and the producers of the show are responding. Saying, quote, "The producers of 'Desperate Housewives; and ABC studios offer our sincere apologies for any offense caused by the brief reference in the season premiere. There was no intent to disparage the integrity of any aspect of the medical community in the Philippines." No word yet on whether the scene will be edited out for future airings.

And the controversy over the film, "The Kite Runner" continues today. Paramount Vantage Studios is now saying it will push back the release date of the film to December 14. The studio released this statement saying in part, "The principal from the actor's school requested that we wait until the end of the academic term."

In a related "New York Times" article today the studio suggested that the 12-year-old boy in the film, who plays a rape victim, and two other children, will be moved out of their native Kabul, Afghanistan before the release date. That's because of fears they could be attacked for that rape scene re-enactment.

All right, switching gears just a bit, tonight on SHOWBIZ TONIGHT, the Britney blame game. Is Britney Spears really to blame for the mess that she's in and for losing custody of her kids? The surprising reason that the answer is not as clear cut as you might think. We'll have a special report on TV's most provocative entertainment new show. SHOWBIZ TONIGHT, 11 p.m. Eastern and Pacific, on "Headline Prime".

You've got it all in for you today, Don. We need a little more time, but we got it all in.

LEMON: Britney watch 2007.

WYNTER: Britney on the radar. LEMON: All right, Kareen Wynter. Thanks so much for that.

The next hour of the CNN NEWSROOM starts right now.

Retired city cops, life-long friends, assassinated, in the words of Philadelphia's police commissioner. A one-on-one ambush on an armed car. The manhunt goes on and we're there live.

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