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CNN NEWSROOM

NASA to Release Study on Airline Safety; Tropical Storm Noel on the Move; Dems Gang up on Hillary in Debate; Hart and Dirksen Office Buildings were Evacuated

Aired October 31, 2007 - 13:00   ET

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


KYRA PHILLIPS, CO-HOST: So what does NASA know about airline safety, and why didn't it want you to know? NASA's boss is about to face Congress and promise no more secrets.
DON LEMON, CO-HOST: It is the biggest secret in the monetary world: will the Fed cut interest rates for the second time in six weeks? The smart money says yes. We'll find out soon whether the smart money is right.

Hello, everyone. I'm Don Lemon, live at the CNN world headquarters in Atlanta.

PHILLIPS: And I'm Kyra Phillips. You're live in the CNN NEWSROOM.

LEMON: Live pictures now from Capitol Hill. That's where NASA's boss testifies later this hour. It is a day when the space shuttle is in orbit and the space station has issues that are changing plans up there.

Now the NASA administrator, Michael Griffin, won't be addressing any of that. He's talking air safety, commercial air safety, in fact, on the planes, you and I, and millions of people fly on every day.

A House committee wants to know why a certain safety report sat on a NASA shelf for more than a year.

PHILLIPS: Our space correspondent, Miles O'Brien, would like to know that answer, too. He's following the proceedings.

Miles, what have you been able to listen into and find out?

MILES O'BRIEN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, he hasn't started talking yet, but NASA administrator Mike Griffin facing a lot of criticism from Capitol Hill and from a lot of people in general, when it became evident there was this survey of 24,000 pilots, which shed an awful lot of light about the reality of safety in the skies of the U.S. these days.

And what it indicated in that survey is, apparently, there are much greater incidences of near collisions and problems in the air than have been previously reported.

Now when this came to light, and there were efforts to get that study to be released -- the Associated Press was trying to do that -- they were stonewalled by NASA, who said that the data was not meant to be released publicly and, probably in a very unfortunate turn of phrase saying, "If it were to be released, it would undermine confidence in the air traffic system."

Now, a week ago Monday I spoke with NASA administrator Mike Griffin, just as this first broke, and he told me then he wanted to see this survey released publicly. Listen to him.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MICHAEL GRIFFIN, NASA ADMINISTRATOR: Just because we have taken data and conducted the survey, doesn't mean that the data is good or that the survey is accurate.

We would need to -- this is -- this is raw data. It hasn't been peer reviewed. It hasn't been cross-checked. You know, I don't know how good the data is.

With that -- with that said, it still represents data that we've acquired with public funding in a survey, and if it is legally possible to release it, it will be.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O'BRIEN: So that's what he's going to tell Congress in just a little while. As a matter of fact, the CDs with the data on it have been shipped over to Capitol Hill to the committee. So it shouldn't be too long before the public gets a chance to look at this survey.

I don't suspect it will be released today. There are still some legal issues that they're going through, because there was an anonymity involved as part of this whole process of talking to the pilots. And once that issue has been resolved, we'll find out exactly what's in there.

It may not be as bad as we thought. And as Mike Griffin seems to indicate, he doesn't seem to think the data is that useful anyway. Nevertheless, we should all be the judge, shouldn't we?

PHILLIPS: We sure should, and we'll be checking back in throughout the afternoon. Miles O'Brien, thank you so much.

LEMON: Already deadly, already destructive, Tropical Storm Noel is on the move again. Will it grow more dangerous?

What do you know, Jacqui Jeras?

JACQUI JERAS, CNN METEOROLOGIST: Hey, Don.

Well, it will probably grow stronger; that's for sure. But not necessarily more dangerous, just in the fact that the flooding has been so massive and so severe over the Dominican Republic, winds now are at 50 miles per hour, so they are up. But the rainfall throughout, we think, will be lesser for the Bahama Islands and also for Cuba. Let's show you some of those pictures of the Dominican Republic, from Santo Domingo. These pictures are from yesterday. At least 20 people have lost their lives. The flooding is widespread. And there's also been a lot of water rescues which have been taking place. There you can see rescue workers helping people to get out of that water.

There have been a lot of landslides and mudslides, and you can see how extensive the standing water is. A lot of damage in this area. Unfortunately, there's a little more rain in the forecast. They could get as much as an additional five inches of rain today, since they still have that strong southerly wind from what's left of Noel.

Now, where is Noel going? Right now it's just to the north of Cuba. It has pulled offshore, and that's what allowed it to intensify a little bit this morning.

We're expecting it to pull up to the north, pull up to the northeast after that, move through the Bahamas. We think it's going to stay offshore from Florida. You might have some impacts in terms of some rough waves and also a little bit of beach erosion.

But that's nothing new to you. You've been dealing with this for the last couple of days.

High pressure to the north, combined with low pressure from Noel to the south has been forcing in a very strong east-to-northeasterly wind. That's what's been bringing in the strong winds and also that erosion.

Look at this, Hollywood Beach right now, winds north- northeasterly around 26 miles per hour, and that's where we find our own CNN's Rob Marciano, who's been braving the elements out there.

Looks like those winds have really picked up since we saw you last, Rob.

ROB MARCIANO, CNN METEOROLOGIST: Yes, they've been -- they've been on and off, but for one thing's for sure, Jacqui: they've been going for a good couple of days now.

The rainfall has been more sporadic, and that just picked up in the last few minutes.

We are getting closer to high tide, about an hour away, and the ocean is encroaching. It's already past -- well past where it typically would be for high tide.

This is a stretch of beach that years ago stretched out, you know, another 100 yards or so. Two years ago, they spent millions of dollars dumping tons of cubic yards to rebuild this beach, and already high tide last night has gone beyond, up to the wall here, to where the boardwalk is, and these trees could very well be suspect.

They've spent $45 million trying to rebuild these beaches. You may think that's a lot of money, but when you think about these counties that bring in up to $1 billion in tourism revenue, that's worth the price of admission, for sure.

The problem has been these onshore winds. They continue to pepper this coastline, and coastal flooding has been an issue.

There are a few structures that have been threatened. So it's not just the beach that's being watched here, but there are a few structures up the road that are threatened. And you just can't force -- you can't fight Mother Nature, Jacqui. The ocean is going to do what it wants to do.

High tide in about an hour from here this afternoon. And then again tonight. And during the fall and spring, as you know, that's when the tides are strongest. So we've got a lot of things going against us and that long fetch a couple hundred miles off the Atlantic Ocean continuing to bring these waves that continue to batter the coastline.

So until this storm passes up to the north, which as you say, looks like it's going to happen sometime tomorrow or Friday, these winds are going to continue. And they've been absolutely relentless.

JERAS: Yes.

MARCIANO: Jacqui, back up to you.

JERAS: Sand stinging your face out there, Rob, I'm sure. Thanks very much.

Beach erosion has actually been a little bit worse to the north of where Rob is. And we have some pictures coming in. My husband is a pilot, and he flew into Melbourne early this morning, took these shots.

And I just want to explain beach erosion a little bit better for you that don't know.

Now take a notice. This is how we know that the waves have been way up there on the shore. Look at all of the seaweed that's been brought all the way through the entire beach. And notice the huge drop-off here from the coast down to the shore. Generally, you see a little bit of an incline as it goes up, instead of such a dramatic thing.

The waves come up this way. They hit that shore, and as they come back, they pull down all that sand with it and take it away and bring it back into the ocean.

We've gotten some reports around Flagler County and also St. John's County in northern Florida with as much as 10 to 20 feet of beach -- beach being washed away. It's very devastating. A good 24 hours to go before we expect things to really calm down for Florida.

LEMON: Wow. Jacqui Jeras, and thanks to you and your husband for those -- those pictures. JERAS: Yes.

PHILLIPS: I-Reporter.

LEMON: We've been calling for I-Reports.

JERAS: Send us your I-Reports. Because I need them, obviously, if I'm making my husband go to work for me.

LEMON: What's his name?

JERAS: Mike Ellis.

LEMON: Mike Ellis.

JERAS: Yes.

LEMON: CNN I-Reporter and husband of Jacqui Jeras. Thank you very much for that.

We go now from high winds to rattled nerves, things flung off shelves. That's about the extent of the damage from the earthquake that shook the San Francisco Bay area last night.

It was centered nine miles northeast of San Jose and at magnitude 5.6. It is the strongest quake there in almost 20 years. Now, just to make sure all is OK, Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger wants roads, bridges and levees given the once-over.

PHILLIPS: A boy playing with matches apparently started one of those huge wildfires in Southern California. The Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department says that boy admitted he accidentally started the Buckweed fire.

That one scorched more than 38,000 acres and destroyed dozens of structures, including 21 homes. The boy's name and age are not being released. He's been released to his parents while the case goes to the D.A. for possible charges.

Now, right now 18 of about two dozen wildfires in Southern California are fully contained. The rest are at least 70 percent contained.

Take a look at the big board right now. Investors are awaiting anxiously to see whether the Federal Reserve cuts interest rates for the second time in a month and a half.

Right now, Dow Industrials up 66 points. They had been betting on a quarter-point cut next hour. That's been tempered by the government's latest reading on economic growth, which is stronger than expected.

On the other hand, some prices, home prices, consumer confidence, the dollar, well, they're all lower. Energy costs are soaring. That has government and businesses afraid that you might be spending less as we head into the busiest shopping season of the year. Now, a rate cut would make it easier to borrow and spend money. The Fed's decision is coming about 2:15 Eastern Time. We'll be sure to bring that to you when it happens. Ali Velshi on the scene for us.

LEMON: And Kyra, it was a close call, way too close. Fasten your seat belts for this one. You'll hear a commercial pilot's own account of a near collision in midair.

PHILLIPS: Plus, step away from that steak. Cutting your cancer risk may mean cutting way back on your favorite foods.

LEMON: And school for scandal. Oprah put her heart and soul into building it. Will abuse allegations tear it apart?

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

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

PHILLIPS: One-thirteen is the time right now. Here's three of the stories that we're working on in the CNN NEWSROOM.

Almost tropical-storm-force winds now lashing parts of Florida. They're a side effect of Tropical Storm Noel, which is moving north from Cuba. Noel has already killed nearly 50 people in the Dominican Republic and Haiti.

A guilty plea today in an alleged terrorist plot to gun down soldiers at New Jersey's Ft. Dix. Agron Abdullah was accused of conspiring to provide weapons to the would-be attackers. The prosecutors say he had the smallest role among the six men that were arrested.

And remember this pro-democracy protest by monks in Myanmar last month? Well, today there's word that dozens of them took to the streets again. It's the first reported rally since the crackdown by military leaders.

LEMON: Time now for "America Votes 2008". Hillary Clinton faced six opponents in last night's debate in Philadelphia. The other guys faced only one, Hillary Clinton.

That's a bit of an overstatement by taking down the front-runner, was clearly -- but taking down the front-runner, I should say, was clearly the top priority of Clinton's closest competitors.

Here's CNN senior political correspondent Candy Crowley, part of the best political team on television.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

SEN. BARACK OBAMA (D-IL), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Well, first of all, I think...

CANDY CROWLEY, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Barack Obama called it the most hyped fight since Rocky versus Apollo Creed. After which, he took a jab at what he called politically convenient politics.

OBAMA: And Senator Clinton in her campaign, I think, has been for NAFTA previously; now she's against it. She has taken one position on torture several months ago and then most recently has taken a different position. She voted for a war to authorize sending troops into Iraq and then later said this was a war for diplomacy.

CROWLEY: Looking to change the dynamics of the race dominated by Hillary Clinton, her chief rivals stepped it up in their seventh debate, questioning her consistency, her credibility, her electability.

SEN. CHRISTOPHER DODD (D-CT), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Whether it's fair or not fair, the fact of the matter is that my colleague from New York, Senator Clinton, 50 percent of the American public who say they're not going to vote for her.

CROWLEY: It was not the knockdown drag-out so many predicted, but it was pointed. John Edwards wielded the sharpest blade, standing by his accusation of doubletalk.

EDWARDS: Senator Clinton says that she believes she can be the candidate for change, but she defends a broken system that's corrupt in Washington, D.C. She says she will end the war. But she continues to say she'll keep combat troops in Iraq and continue combat missions in Iraq.

CROWLEY: There was an edge to her, but Clinton played the front- runner's game, refusing to engage with her Democratic opponents. She was aiming higher.

SEN. HILLARY CLINTON (D-NY), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Because I have stood against George Bush and his failed policies. They want to continue the war in Iraq; I want to end it. The Republicans are waving their sabers and talking about going after Iran; I want to prevent a rush to war.

CROWLEY: It is nearly impossible for a single debate to fundamentally change things, but this one kicked up enough dust for Bill Richardson to step in to defend Clinton. He suggested things were getting a little personal. Democrats, he said, should be positive.

Candy Crowley, CNN, Philadelphia.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

LEMON: And if you think it was a free-for-all last night, wait until they hit the Vegas strip. In two weeks, all bets are off as the Democrats clash again in Vegas with CNN's Wolf Blitzer and the best political team on television. November 15 at 8 p.m. Eastern, only on CNN.

PHILLIPS: It was a close call, way too close. Fasten your seat belts for this one. You'll hear a commercial pilot's own account of a near collision in midair. (COMMERCIAL BREAK)

LEMON: All right. This just in to the CNN NEWSROOM. Showing you pictures of the Capitol there, because the Dirksen Senate office building has been evacuated. And according to CNN sources, it is a small fire in the basement.

But also according to those same sources, that small fire is out. Again, a fire, small fire in the Dirksen Senate Office Building in Washington.

Just to give you an idea of where it's located, northeast of the Capitol on a site bound by Constitution Avenue, C Street, First Street, Second Street Northeast. It adjoins the Hart Senate Office Building.

But again, the Dirksen Senate Office Building has been evacuated. A small fire in the basement. That fire is out.

Not sure if it has anything to do with all those small fires that were set a couple weeks ago in bathrooms in office buildings around Washington and the Capitol. We have our sources checking on that, and we'll update you throughout this newscast -- Kyra.

PHILLIPS: Millions of Americans may soon get more choices when it comes to their cable TV service. Susan Lisovicz at the New York Stock Exchange, the details of the FCC's new rule.

And Susan, let me tell you what: a lot of people, including me, going to be happy about this, because service is such a nightmare, because there are so few providers.

SUSAN LISOVICZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT: That's right. I mean, this is an important decision on a few levels, Kyra, and certainly will have a big effect, first of all, on the 30 percent of Americans who live in apartment buildings.

The FCC has voted to ban exclusive deals between building owners and cable TV providers. Proponents of the decision say banning these agreements could prompt more competition and lead to lower cable rates.

But others say low rates are already being offered, because building owners can negotiate discounts by guaranteeing cable companies a large number of customers -- Kyra.

PHILLIPS: Well, a decision should open up the cable market, right, which is also very good for consumers?

LISOVICZ: Right, and that's the other big part. It's not only pricing. It's the fact that more companies will get into it, which often can affect service and pricing. A number of companies trying to break into the cable market. This decision will allow for that.

AT&T and Verizon are just two examples. Both are known more for their phone services but have been rolling out TV programming, as well.

(STOCK REPORT)

LISOVICZ: Coming up, we'll have that decision on interest rates, something that affects all of us. That's around 2:15 Eastern Time. Kyra, for now, back to you and Don.

PHILLIPS: All right. See you in a little bit. Thanks, Susan.

LEMON: Just an update now on developing news here in the CNN NEWSROOM. The Dirksen Senate Office Building, as well as, I am told, the Hart Senate Office Building, both have been evacuated, due to a fire, small fire in the basement, but we're also told that fire is out.

We have our sources and our people there on the ground, checking on this story to find out exactly what happened. And we'll bring it to you. But again, it's evacuated but we're told the fire is out. Checking on that one for you.

Also this, Oprah Winfrey built a state-of-the-art school for poor girls in South Africa. So why is she tearfully apologizing to them now? We'll explain straight ahead in the CNN NEWSROOM.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

LEMON: Hello, everyone. I'm Don Lemon live at the CNN world headquarters in Atlanta.

PHILLIPS: And I'm Kyra Phillips.

NASA has some explaining to do. The agency under fire over some air safety secrets. We're going to hear from a pilot who's been involved in a near collision.

You're live in the CNN NEWSROOM.

LEMON: Got a couple questions for you. Did you know NASA compiled a report on commercial air safety? Well, it did. Did you know NASA didn't release its findings because of -- somebody thought they'd be too upset and it would upset too many people? Well, that's true, too.

One more thing: it was more than a year ago that this all happened. And NASA's top leadership has some explaining to do and is doing it this hour on Capitol Hill.

Here's CNN's Brian Todd.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Pilots tell America's chief space agency there have been far more near collisions in the air and runway incursions than the government has ever recognized. In an exclusive interview, CNN asked the head of NASA about his agency's survey of 24,000 commercial and general aviation pilots, first reported by the Associated Press. Michael Griffin told us he had just heard about the survey.

GRIFFIN: This is raw data. It hasn't been peer-reviewed. It hasn't been cross-checked. You know, I don't know how good the data is.

TODD: Also alarming, AP says more pilots than expected revealed so-called in-close approach changes, last-minute instructions to change landing plans that can be dangerous.

AP says NASA's $8.5 million survey was shut down more than a year ago but that the public didn't hear about it. In a letter to AP, NASA said it could scare passengers and be bad for airline business, but NASA's administrator now says...

GRIFFIN: My position is that, from a public policy point of view, if it is legal to release the data, we will.

TODD: NASA's survey seems to cast doubt on reporting of near misses by the Federal Aviation Administration, among other agencies. FAA officials tell CNN, aside from briefings years ago, they weren't looped in on NASA's interviews with pilots.

BOBBY STURGELL, ACTING FAA ADMINISTRATOR: I don't want to comment on their neighbors since I have no idea what's in the survey or what's in the data, how it was collected, the methodology used, or anything along those line.

TODD: Former NTSB investigator Bob Francis says runway incursions are a problem, but he says this of pilots' reports of near collisions in midair.

BOB FRANCIS, FORMER NTSB VICE-CHAIRMAN: A general aviation pilot with 200 hours may think that anything that comes anywhere near him is -- is a near miss, whereas a commercial airline pilot wouldn't pay any attention to it.

TODD (on camera): NASA's survey is in for some deeper scrutiny on Capitol Hill, where congressmen wants the agency to hand over documents and explain why the project was shut down before it was completed.

NASA says it will come clean.

Brian Todd, CNN, Washington.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

KYRA PHILLIPS, CNN ANCHOR: Let's get some expert insight on air safety questions. Joining me by telephone phone, Brian West, a commercial airline pilot with 22 years in the cockpit and just so you know, Brian is still an active pilot for which airline we won't say for obvious reasons. Brian, I've known you for a quite long time. You've talked about a number of near collisions. I appreciate you talking with us about this today. It's an important issue. Take me back to one of those near collisions, and go into detail with me on what happened and what you remember.

BRIAN WEST, COMMERCIAL AIRLINE PILOT: Well, Kyra, going back to the specific incident, coming into the city, a large amount of airlines flow into the cities and we use center groundings into the busy airports and on those, we generally expect to be protected. Unfortunately, as the report from the other gentleman alludes to, general air traffic does not always understand the impact that they may have on the system.

A specific incident, we were coming into again a very busy city, and through some modern equipment that we have available to us were able to identify a potential target that was in conflict with us, as it get closer we were able to identify the target and successfully maneuver away, the equipment we had on board certainly did help. There are very specific things, terminal collision avoidance systems to help us idea these targets and guide's way from them.

PHILLIPS: Let's talk about systems like that, because as I've been reading more into this, I've heard aviation analysts say look, we need more controllers, we need more aircraft inspectors, we need new radars and computers to replace old, defective equipment, in traffic control centers, what is your reaction to that?

WEST: I think some of those things are dead-on, absolutely. I'm not so sure that we need more controllers or more people in the seats inspecting. I think the people that we have are outstanding. I think the controllers we have today are absolutely top shelf. However, the equipment they're dealing with is not. The technology is there, as we know in the digital age of things. We could rectify this problem overnight by simply spending the money on the government level of things and there's other things management-wise that could be done on the government level to change things. The technology is there to separate the aircraft. The problem is we have layers of bureaucracy in between that arrest those things.

PHILLIPS: Point well made. Brian, take me back to that near collision that you had. What was going through your head when you identified another aircraft? Do you all of the sudden go into sort of an emergency mode of thinking or how do you handle a situation like that as a pilot and what was going through your mind?

WEST: Absolutely. We go into an emergency mode of thinking. We like to, from the cockpit, have the perspective of the big picture of looking at things. There are several aircraft always prancing through your air space. If they're within certain altitudes and certain ranges we can see those. As they get closer we'll identify that as a threat based on color, color coded from white, to amber, to red. The airplane will transgress through the stages and as something becomes amber it's an active threat. If it's white, where it starts at, it's a potential threat. It graduates to that if it turns red and there are audio sounds that come where w that, we take evasive action. About the process, we sit and evaluate those things, we identify things, of course we focus very much outside and with reference back to inside of the equipment to help us identify the position and altitude of the aircraft. Once we evaluate it, we make a plan and the course of action is necessary, i.e., the plane gets too close, we take the evasive action. It's not a surprise to us generally.

PHILLIPS: And I just have to ask you finally, we have a few seconds for a final question, Brian. If this is such a problem and we're having these hearings and NASA is coming under fire and we're talking about all of the number of near collisions, why haven't we seen more air disasters, why haven't there been more crashes?

WEST: Well, I think number one, we have to be thankful of our aircraft controllers. They are top shelf. I think the same of the commercial airline pilots, this highly trained and highly seasoned in general. The problem is we're talking about a pilot that caused this that has minimal time, 100 hours, 200 hours, they don't have the experience, and they're in the wrong place at the wrong time doing the wrong things but we have to tip our hat to the controllers who do a great job and I believe our pilots are outstanding.

PHILLIPS: Well, I definitely have seen the traffic control individuals in action. It's true, they don't get a lot of sleep and I've watched pilots like you, Brian West, I appreciate the candid conversation.

WEST: Thank you very much.

PHILLIPS: My pleasure.

DON LEMON, CNN ANCHOR: Back now to our developing story, a fire in the Dirksen Federal Building, in the Senate Office Building. We go toCNN's Jessica Yellin, in the Hart Building as well. Let's go now to Jessica Yellin with more, she joins us by phone. What do you have, Jessica?

JESSICA YELLIN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Back into the building. According to Capitol police, the fire was actually in the basement of just the Hart Senate Office Building but Hart is the site in recent weeks of several small fires, all of which have been set in the bathroom there, and in the Dirksen Senate Office Building adjacent to it. Law enforcement is saying they don't know if this fire was tied to that one and no arrests have been made in those other fires, but it remains, you know, an open investigation, ongoing incidents up at the capitol. Hart also you might remember is the site of the initial anthrax attacks here in the U.S. capitol. Now, both buildings -- the Hart Office Building was evacuated, among those on the sidewalk was the Chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, Senator Rockefeller, but now we understand everyone's headed back into the building. Fire trucks are pulling away and severing fine there.

LEMON: We were told both buildings had been evacuated, but to be specific, the fire was located in the basement of the Hart Building, not the Dirksen Building?

YELLIN: Correct.

LEMON: Everything seems to be back in order and folks are streaming back in.

YELLIN: We're looking for more information on what may have caused it.

LEMON: If you get more information, Jessica, we will take it. We thank you for calling in.

Let's move on to talk about Oprah Winfrey. Ten months after Oprah Winfrey cut the ribbon on the state-of-the-art school for South African girls the head master is on leave, Oprah is apologizing and the Child Investigation Unit investigating. The story now from CNN's Robyn Curnow live.

ROBYN CURNOW, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Now Don, it's important to remember in situations like this that for the girls and for the parents of these girls who attend this school, it's, still continues, despite all of this negative publicity surrounding the school, it still continues to be a positive and a life-changing experience for the students there.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

CURNOW: She was doing her homework in a shack last year and this year, studying and living in a room like this, one of the lucky girls to win a place at Oprah's leadership academy, the $14 million school built by the U.S. talk show host, herself once a poor girl from a disadvantaged background.

OPRAH WINFREY, TALK SHOW HOST: I look in their faces and I see my own, with girls who came from a background just like my own. I was raised by a grandmother no, running water, no electricity but yet because of a sense of education and learning, I was able to become who I am.

CURNOW: Which is why Winfrey, who has acknowledged publicly that she was abused as a child and issued a statement saying, "There's nothing more serious or devastating to me than an allegation of misconduct by an adult against any girl at the academy." The school and South African police are being tight-lipped about the details of the case.

SUPT. LUNGELO DLAMINI, SOUTH AFRICAN POLICE SERVICE: We are investigating a case of abuse against the children at the school.

CURNOW: Police will not say if the abuse is sexual or physical, but concern their investigation is based on a report given to them by a U.S. private investigator and social workers hired by Winfrey.

DLAMINI: The report, given by the different places were given to you and based on the reports we analyzed and came to the conclusion that there were criminal elements, and we authenticated the investigation.

CURNOW: Oprah's representatives say she flew to South Africa twice in the past month to meet with parents of the school. This reporter, Gavin Prins, spoke with some of them. GAVIN PRINS, RAPPORT NEWSPAPER: She broke in tears and said, "I fail you. I failed you, and I apologize."

(END VIDEOTAPE)

CURNOW: Now I spoke to a mother who was at that meeting, and she shared, Oprah was emotional indeed, when she spoke to the parents, but what was also interesting is that she said that she has a granddaughter and daughter at the school and she said her daughters are no longer her own. They are Oprah's daughters, and that Oprah just wants to make them happy. Don.

LEMON: Robyn Curnow, in Johannesburg, thank you so much for your report.

PHILLIPS: Shock and surprise in a Spanish courtroom as an accused mastermind of the Madrid train bombings was acquitted of all charges. Three defendants were convicted of murder, 18 others convicted of lesser charges. The coordinated bombings at three Madrid train stations killed almost 200 people and wounded more than 1,700 others. It's the deadliest attack in Western Europe since the 1988 bombings of Pan Am 103.

LEMON: What you eat and your risk of getting cancer, find out the top five food rules for reducing that risk.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

LEMON: OK. So the experts and our medical correspondent, they have been drilling this into us. Apparently what we eat does matter when it comes to fighting certain diseases such as cancer. Our medical correspondent Elizabeth Cohen joins us now with some food for thought and dos and don'ts.

ELIZABETH COHEN, CNN MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: Some actual food for thought.

LEMON: Leave the salad for me, and is that wine?

COHEN: It's grape juice. We're pretending it's wine. We'll call it that. This is a report out from a group of world identify cancer experts and in some ways the conclusions are things you've heard before which is if you want to avoid cancer, keep your weight down, that is really crucial, and that you ought to eat healthfully and we all know what that means. I mean that basically means you ought to eat lots of fruits and vegetables and you ought to be eating low in fat. That's why we're showing you this salad. Notice we have put the dressing on the side so you can put a little on and not load up on calories. You will notice that we have chicken here, which is low in fat. We did not put fatty steak or something like that on it, and we have loaded it up with vegetables. So that is an important thing to remember.

And in addition, we're going to give you five tips for smart eating to avoid cancer. The first tip, eat a plant-based diet. If it came out of the ground, that's good. If someone made it in a lab, not as good for preventing cancer. Keep your body weight healthy, drink less alcohol and I'll tell you what I mean by less when we go to our church wine and keep your red meat intake relatively low and keep your fat intake in general low.

OK, so here, now we're going to talk about wine, let's talk about wine here. When they say keep your alcohol intake low for cancer, what they mean is that for men, no more than two glasses of wine a day.

LEMON: No more? I'm in trouble.

COHEN: And for women, no more than one glass. Now, I want to make a distinction. You hear wine is great for the heart. There is a lot of evidence that wine is good for your heart, but wine isn't good for cancer. It's not going to help you. What they're trying to say is, if you're going to drink any, don't drink more than those amounts.

LEMON: Everything in moderation?

COHEN: Or don't drink it at all. If you drink wine, no more than that if you're interested in preventing cancer.

LEMON: OK. Any specific foods they say to avoid?

COHEN: Yes, they were very strong about this. This group came out and said that processed meats like lunch meats and bacon and sausages that, meats like that, just don't eat them. They said even a little could increase your risk of getting colon cancer. Now, the American Meat Institute says this is extreme and unfounded but these doctors were really quite strong on this.

LEMON: Even a little? I thought everything, a little bacon?

COHEN: That's what -- I know, that's what this group says.

LEMON: Sunday brunch, you got to have the bacon.

COHEN: And some people say the group is a little bit extreme when it comes to meat, I'll be honest with you but this is what they say.

LEMON: OK. Smoking and cancer, is there a strong link between diet, smoking, cancer?

COHEN: Well, you know the smoking cancer link is extremely strong. The smoking-cancer link is truly a no-brainer. The food- cancer link is there, there's no question at this point, but it is not the same as the smoking-cancer link. I don't want people to think, oh, gosh, I had a burger for lunch and a burger for lunch yesterday, I'm going to drop dead of cancer. It's about increasing and decreasing your chances

LEMON: I'm in trouble; I had a burger last night for dinner and two glasses of red wine.

COHEN: You're not in trouble. That's what I'm saying. Could you make some improvements, we'll put it that way.

LEMON: Well, that's good. The salad, and also the dressing's really important looking at the salad. Do a balsamic, nothing that has all of the fat in that.

COHEN: Lower in calories, keeping your body weight down is really important for preventing heart disease and cancer.

LEMON: Medical website, CNN.com/?

COHEN: Slash health.

LEMON: Thank you, Elizabeth, always a pleasure.

COHEN: Thanks.

PHILLIPS: Will the fed prime the economy with back-to-back interest rate cuts? We're just minutes away from finding out. We'll go live to the big board with the breaking news and what it means for you. Right now Dow industrials up 92 points.

LEMON: Ghosts and goblins and witches and warriors, they'll all be out on the streets across America tonight, ahead in CNN NEWSROOM, some tips on how to keep your trick-or-treaters safe. It's very important today and tonight. We're back in a moment.

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LEMON: Halloween can be a fun time but it can also be very serious. In Idaho it's lights out for registered sex offenders. They have to keep their pooch -- their porch, I should say, excuse me, lights off. It's part of an effort to prevent attacks on trick-or- treaters. Police and probation and parole officers will be visiting offenders to make sure the rule is followed. The State Corrections Department does say it's never received report of a Halloween attack by a registered sex offender.

PHILLIPS: Cities and states are also warning registered sex offenders to stay away from kids this Halloween in Baltimore. They're even not allowed to hand out candy. In New York they have to stay in their homes for this evening until 6:00 a.m. Sex offenders in St. Louis and other Missouri cities have to stay at home or at work and in some cases, they have to attend approved therapy sessions. In Roanoke, Virginia, sex offenders have to report to their probation offices and stay there during trick-or-treating hours.

LEMON: Well, the bottom line is Halloween with be fun but also dangerous. You have something to remember, here it s children should wear bright costumes with reflective tape, and make sure they carry a flashlight, or glow stick. They should walk, not run, and also make sure, make sure they use the sidewalk and make sure they trick-or- treat among well-lighted streets. If you're driving tonight, slow down and look everywhere. Again, if you're driving tonight, slow down, and look everywhere, especially for kids darting between parked cars and in medians. Also, beware of driveways and make sure your children get out of the car on the curbside. PHILLIPS: Have you seen Helen or Phyllis lately?

LEMON: I'm still laughing from keep your pooch lights on. Hey, Helen! How are you? Look at Miss Helen and Miss Phyllis downstairs.

PHILLIPS: Roberta Flack.

LEMON: She's looking for a husband. She needs a dentist. Check that out.

PHILLIPS: Normally Phyllis and Helen hook us up there in the lunch line. We usually love giving Helen a little kiss. Today we stayed away from those chops. Oh, no, here it goes.

LEMON: This is what I wore into the meeting this morning.

PHILLIPS: Yes, nice look. Fits you just perfectly, the slobber and all.

LEMON: You think I'll be able to pay my mortgage next month when the boss calls and says you're out of here.

PHILLIPS: You'll scare off all of the sex offenders if they show up at your door.

All right. Democratic candidates move to the right, and to the left. Barack Obama fancy footwork. Stay tuned to see what I mean.

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PHILLIPS: I used to do the waltz and never heard the end of it, I learned my lesson.

LEMON: Can bustin' a move help a presidential candidate break away from the pack? What do you think? We've seen the clip of Barack Obama getting his groove on, maybe not all of us, I don't know. He did it on "The Ellen DeGeneres Show" but he's not the first presidential hopeful to shake it on national TV. Our Jeanne Moos breaks it down for us.

JEANNE MOOS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: We're not talking breakdancing. We're talking Barack dancing.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Wonderful. Makes you want to dance.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: A little step.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Oh, he's got a little move.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: He's doing this thing here.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: He's doing all right. Ellen is doing better.

MOOS: How is Rudy doing?

SEN. BARACK OBAMA (D), ILLINOIS: I'm pretty sure I've got better moves than Giuliani.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Booty that.

MOOS: We had to dig deep in our archives to unearth these moves. Tap dancing, not bad.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Come on, Rudy!

MOOS: Disco dancing, questionable.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Show us what you got.

MOOS: Rudy was shaking what he had seven and a half years ago at an annual event where the press lampoons the mayor and the mayor lampoons the press, sort of makes you reevaluate Barack Obama.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Great moves.

ELLEN DEGENERES, TALK SHOW HOST: You're the best dancer so far of the presidential candidates.

MOOS: Practically on the ground, so far the only presidential candidate to appear on the show was Hillary Clinton, and she walked on stage. Hillary prefers to have some fun.

At events like her husband's inauguration, the only head-to-head dance competition was an imaginary one, "Jimmy Kimmel Live" a break dancing battle between an Obama look-alike, and a Hillary look-alike. Apparently Hillary won.

At church, Obama seems to have the natural rhythm thing going. Even busting out a few robot moves.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Come on, everybody, let's dance!

MOOS: Rudy may very well have been trying to dance badly to be funnier. As for Obama's reviews, they change from truly creepy, Obama looked like he was channeling Cher, to, "How can you pay attention to the issues when he looks like that, and then shaking what his mama gave him, woo! Someone fan me!"

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I think Barack has better moves than that. I think he's just being conservative on TV.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Ooh, he dances like the old folk.

MOOS: Who cares? These candidates are looking for a surge at the polls, not the pelvis. Jeanne Moos, CNN, New York.

LEMON: The next hour of the CNN NEWSROOM starts right now.

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