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Democratic Presidential Candidates Prepare For Las Vegas Debate; Democrats Battle Bush Over War Funding

Aired November 15, 2007 - 15:00   ET

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


KYRA PHILLIPS, CNN ANCHOR: Well, there's a reason nobody ever wrote a heartwarming holiday song about air travel. Measures in the works from the airlines, and the Bush administration probably won't inspire one either, but they might ease the holiday crunch. Listen up before you start packing.
DON LEMON, CNN ANCHOR: It's not all they want for Christmas, Kyra, but the Democratic candidates for president would each be happy with a knockout performance in Vegas. They will face the voters and CNN again tonight. And John King, he will join us with a preview.

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: It is the top of the hour, and you have no doubt heard the horror stories. You may have even lived through one, hours stuck on a plane going nowhere or delayed hour after hour in the airport. Lawmakers have been working on plans since last spring to hold airlines accountable.

President Bush says it's time to act.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We're proposing new regulations to help ensure that airline passengers are treated fairly. We're proposing to double the amount of compensation passengers receive when they're forced off overbooked flights.

For example, a passenger forced to wait more than two hours for another flight would receive a minimum of $800 under our idea, instead of the current $400. We want people who are responsible for moving passengers to understand that there will be consequences for these delays.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

LEMON: Well, the president says he is considering other measures to curb air traffic and all those delays. One would force airlines to pay more for takeoffs and landings during peak hours.

Let's turn now to our Chad Myers. He has got the flight tracker up over there I see in the Weather Center. And, at last count, last check, what, over 6,000 flights in the air over the U.S.?

CHAD MYERS, CNN METEOROLOGIST: Yes, 6,258 right now. And obviously some are taking off and some are landing, but the number has been over 6,000 for the past couple of hours And this really isn't even a big deal. This isn't even a big day.

Can you imagine, they are going to add some flights and they are going to add some other places and probably even landings and takeoffs for the holiday season. You can't even see the United States. It's a function of how small the map is and how large the planes are. But really those planes aren't that big. I kind of made them pretty small.

I'm going to kind of step off the screen and I'm going to zoom up here, going to zoom into the Northeast, just to kind of give you an idea, because it is almost sublime when you see how many planes are in the air.

That's New York. Look at -- right there in the middle is New York City. I will get even closer. You can begin to see the number of planes in the air. Let's just pick one random one and show the tag. That's a flight going from Wilmington all way up to White Plains. We can track them these all day long.

And we do, especially if a plane is in trouble. We use this flight tracker, just amazing. But you can use FlightAware. And there are a couple of other Web sites that the president talked about. One is this fly.FAA.gov. And I recommend putting a slash and then OIS after it. And that will show you whether your airport is slow, delayed or maybe even not.

But the problem is there are so many planes in the air that even when there isn't bad weather, like there is today, New York and La Guardia both about two hours delayed, when there's no bad weather to ground planes, there are too many planes in the air, so there's volume delays, because, well, when there's the good weather, that's bad for flights, too, because all the planes can't get in the air, because airports and the FAA actually plans on some flights being canceled because of weather.

If the weather doesn't cancel it, they have to do it themselves. Don, it's pretty crazy.

LEMON: And now they're going to have to pay up when it's not weather.

MYERS: Yes, bigger prices.

LEMON: Bigger prices. All right. Thank you, Chad Myers.

(CROSSTALK)

MYERS: You're welcome.

PHILLIPS: Well, one of the world's most flood-prone area is getting slammed by a major storm right now Tropical Cyclone Sidr is pounding low-lying villages on Bangladesh's border with India. And just ahead of the storm, hundreds of thousands of villagers had fled to higher ground. Experts had warned of a storm surge of 20 feet. Winds are ferocious and gusts today have hit just below 200 miles an hour.

LEMON: Sin City, not a place known for serious political discussions. We all know that, but tonight Las Vegas will come close, when the Democratic presidential hopefuls take the stage in their latest debate.

You can watch it right here on CNN, right here on CNN at 8:00 Eastern. We can't say that enough, right here at CNN on 8:00 Eastern.

Our chief national correspondent, John King is there.

And, John, let's start with one of the hottest issues in the political season. And that would be immigration. It has caused Hillary Clinton to stumble a little bit in the last debate. And what can we expect tonight? This is again a very hot issue.

JOHN KING, CNN CHIEF NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Don, it is a huge issue in both parties, which is a reflection of how big of an issue it is likely to be when we get to the general election.

But tonight's debate is among the Democrats, so let's focus on them. There are divisions among those Democrats who will be on the stage here tonight in Las Vegas about immigration, specifically the issue of whether illegal immigrants should be able to get driver's licenses. And that's the hot water Hillary Clinton has found herself in over the past week or so.

She at one point said she supported the New York governor's plan or at least was sympathetic to the New York governor's plan to give illegal immigrants driver's licenses. Now she says she would not support that if she were president of the United States.

And her rivals, of course, are saying she flip-flopping or she's basing her positions based on what public opinion polls say. So, from a policy standpoint, she needs to try to clean that up tonight. But it will be interesting to watch as well, because while she says no to that issue, driver's licenses for illegal immigrants, Senator Obama says yes. Governor Richardson says yes. So, there is a debate on the policy, as well as the big political question as to whether Hillary Clinton can rebound from some recent struggles.

LEMON: you know what? It seems kind of odd that the person who is the front-runner, at least when it comes to national polls, John, needs to do well in tonight's debate, but also other folks need to do well as well, Bill Richardson, probably. He has invested a lot of time there.

And I guess the big question is, all that time he invested there, will it pay off for him?

KING: That is the question all of the so-called second-tier candidates are facing now.

We're getting closer and closer, 40-something days now, to the Iowa caucuses. The Nevada caucuses of course come in January after Iowa, and right in the window before New Hampshire. And you're right. Governor Richardson has spent a lot of time here, because this is a much more diverse electorate here in Nevada than you have in Iowa or New Hampshire.

He's hoping Latino voters, the labor union voters will support him here. And if you're the second-tier candidate, once those early contests start, you have to prove that you're sort of under the radar strategy can work, that you can pull off a surprise, because if you can't get a win or a very strong second in the early contests, you're already having trouble raising a lot money, and you're out of the race pretty quickly.

So this is a big time for all of the second-tier candidates to try to convince their supporters, don't abandon me, don't give up on the thought that I can win.

And at a time when Hillary Clinton might be wobbling a little bit, Don, it's a way to say, you know what? If you're suddenly thinking she's not as strong as you were, over here. I can do this.

LEMON: Ah, absolutely.

John, right behind you, look. There's a huge sign that just went right behind you. I imagine there's a lot of that -- it's just weird, because it just looks like they're floating there behind you.

John King...

KING: It is democracy at work, Don.

(LAUGHTER)

LEMON: Democracy at work.

Hey, John, you know what? We really look forward to the debate tonight. That's going to be very interesting. Thank you, sir, for joining us.

It all gets started at 8:00 Eastern tonight. The Democratic presidential hopefuls take the stage right here on CNN. Wolf Blitzer is the moderator, and he will joined by our very own Campbell Brown, and also John Roberts.

Ahead of tonight's Vegas showdown, make sure you check out CNNpolitics.com for analysis, behind-the-scenes blogging, polls and more, from the best political team on television and also online.

PHILLIPS: Well, it could have been a major disaster. Two passenger jets apparently came within seconds of colliding in the skies over Indiana Tuesday evening.

CNN's Susan Roesgen joins us now live from Chicago with more on what happened.

How did it all go down, Susan?

SUSAN ROESGEN, CNN GULF COAST CORRESPONDENT: Well, Kyra, it went down with apparently the passengers and flight attendants not even aware that this was about to happen. And who knows how many times there are these near misses, but we have got a lot of detail on this particular one.

And I think it's interesting to note that President Bush has come out today and talked about trying to, you know, make sure that flights leave on time and land on time. And that just puts more pressure on the air traffic controllers.

And apparently this is going to be a real air traffic controller issue. I today talked to the union, and the union is very concerned about this, says that, you know, last year, more than 800 veteran air traffic controllers retired, and they say that there's a real lack of experience now.

But I do want to tell you exactly what happened again. If you happened to be flying on Tuesday night, these were the flights, or if you know someone who did. It was a Midwest Airlines jet that was heading east from Milwaukee to Dayton, and it was a United Express jet that was heading west to O'Hare from Greensboro, North Carolina.

Now, the Federal Aviation Administration requires a five-mile horizontal separation between airplanes as a minimum. Well, in this case, what happened -- and I just pulled off some information that we just received from the Federal Aviation Administration a couple minutes ago. And they have confirmed that what happened was an air traffic controller at the flight center in Aurora -- that's near Chicago -- was aware of both of these planes in the same airspace heading toward each other from opposite directions, and had told the Midwest Airlines jet pilot to descend -- or actually the Midwest Air jet was descending into the flight path of the United Express jet.

And the air traffic controller has said, stop the descent. Stop. He realized that this was going to caught two planes to get close, but then there was a shift change, Kyra. And apparently as he was handing over the reins to someone else, he forgot about that Midwest Airlines jet. And what happened was, the Midwest Airlines jet continued to descend right to within 600 feet vertically of the United Express jet, and within 1.3 miles of the United Express jet, both jets traveling at 12 miles per minute.

What happened was on board the Midwest Airlines jet, according to the FAA, the automatic sensor, the warning signal that alerts the pilots to something within their minimum airspace, went off, and instructed the pilots of the Midwest Airlines plane to go up, go up, go back, stop the descent and go back.

The Midwest jet did go up in the air, did go rise up again and got out of any kind of collision with the United Express jet.

And I have spoken to the Midwest Airlines folks today and they tell me again that the ascent was so smooth, believe it or not, Kyra, that again the passengers and flight attendants on that plane didn't even realize how close they came, within 600 feet, to hitting that other jet -- Kyra.

PHILLIPS: Take your breath away. Susan Roesgen, thanks.

LEMON: The House of Representatives is expected to vote again this afternoon on expanded court oversight of government surveillance.

Earlier today, the Senate Judiciary Committee approved a bill updating the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, or FISA, over the opposition of the Bush administration. The administration wants to bypass the warrant process and to immunize telecom companies from lawsuits over their past cooperation with the government. Well, Democrats are generally opposed to both, though the Senate Intelligence Committee did sign off on immunity.

PHILLIPS: The doctors should have known better. Now some of his patients are wondering if he gave them a deadly disease.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

LEMON: Fourteen past the hour. Here are three of the stories we're working on for you right here in the CNN NEWSROOM.

A Category 4 tropical cyclone is slamming into the coast of India and Bangladesh at this hour. The storm is packing sustained winds of 150 miles per hour.

Several major aftershocks strike northern Chile just a day after a 7.7-magnitude earthquake hit the country. No immediate reports of injuries today. Yesterday's quake killed at least two people and left an estimated 15,000 people homeless.

And just weeks before the busy holiday travel season, President Bush today announced new steps to ease air traffic congestion and flight delays. His proposals included an increase in the fees airlines have to pay passengers when they get bumped from a flight.

Word from the Pentagon there could be a dire consequences -- or could be dire consequences if more money for Afghanistan and Iraq doesn't come soon. The House passed a $50 billion bridge fund with some strings attached yesterday. And now the Senate is gearing on to take up the controversial measure.

Our Jamie McIntyre joins us now with the strong words with from the man in charge.

Jamie, what are those strong words?

JAMIE MCINTYRE, CNN SENIOR PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT: Well, Don, you know, this is a perennial debate about funding for the Pentagon. It usually goes down to the last minute.

But the Pentagon says it's different this year. The Bush administration and Democrats in Congress are completely split over this idea of whether this stopgap funding measure should have strings attached. The Democrats want some conditions, and they are complaining the president wants a blank check.

But the Pentagon says it's stuck in the middle and it's arguing that it's different from years past, because, if this spending measure doesn't pass, the Pentagon will only have its base budget and a very limited ability to move funds around in order to fund the war. And Secretary of Defense Robert Gates says he will have to start making tough decisions by the end of this week if Congress doesn't act. And right now it doesn't look like Congress may do that.

Here's what, a little bit of what Secretary Gates said at today's Pentagon briefing.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ROBERT GATES, SECRETARY OF DEFENSE: To be honest, I think that there's probably also a sense that things like I talked about today is the Department of Defense crying wolf, that somehow we always figure out a way to make it work. Well, the way we always figure out a way to make it work is because the chiefs and the service secretaries have to jump through hoops to figure out ways to try and be prepared for a cutoff of funds.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MCINTYRE: The bottom line is, the Pentagon says it has no cushion to fall back on, so what would it have to do? Secretary of Defense Gates says that, beginning early next year, they would have to furlough as many as 100,000 people. They would have to shut down operations at some Army bases, followed by a month later some Marine operations as well.

He says it sounds like it's an idle threat, but it's not, he insists. He's the one that has to administer these funds. And he says, even if they pass this $50 billion funding measure until February, that would only get them back until Congress came back in session, and they would be in the exact same situation again.

So he's urging Congress to pass a bill that the president can sign. And that is the key, what can the president sign, or what is he refusing to sign. And, again, it comes down to those conditions. The Democrats want some sign of a timetable for withdrawal, and the Pentagon says -- and the administration says they can't live with that.

LEMON: CNN's Jamie McIntyre -- thank you, Jamie.

PHILLIPS: Well, a New York doctor is accused of allegedly recycling syringes. Health officials urging patients now Dr. Harvey Finkelstein to get tested, after two former patients reportedly came down with hepatitis C.

One of those patients is now suing him. Raymond Bookstaver and his attorney, Jeffrey Kimmel, both join me live. They're in Long Island, section of Woodbury. Gentlemen, thanks for being with me.

Raymond, I want to start with you. How did you first hear about this doctor?

RAYMOND BOOKSTAVER, FORMER PATIENT OF DR. FINKELSTEIN: I heard about him through my orthopedic. He recommend -- I had some back problems, and we tried basically everything before surgery. And nothing seemed to work.

So, he recommended me to this Dr. Harvey Finkelstein for epidural shots into the back. And, at the time, when -- me and my wife went and we talked to him, and he seemed like a caring doctor. He explained everything. He explained the side effects that you could really have from those shots. And he just seemed like he was really caring with what he was doing. Little did I know that he really didn't care.

PHILLIPS: Well, did you actually see him -- did you actually see the syringes, where they came from? Were they in a package? Were they not in a package? Do you remember?

BOOKSTAVER: I couldn't tell you. I was knocked out for the procedure.

PHILLIPS: OK.

So, when did you find out that you had hepatitis C? How did you find out?

BOOKSTAVER: I wasn't feel good shortly after the second shot. A couple weeks later, I wasn't feeling that great. I let it go for a little bit. And I finally went to see my family physician. He did some tests, blood work, and it came back from the blood work that I have hepatitis C.

PHILLIPS: Raymond, how has it changed your life?

BOOKSTAVER: It's made my life miserable. It really has, not just for me, but for my whole family.

You really -- you know, you can't go anywhere, because you never know when you are going to have a flare-up. Once, we tried going away for a mini-vacation. I ended up sick the whole time in the hotel room, went out to dinner once, ordered the meal, and had to leave because I wasn't feeling good. You just never know when the flare-up is going to happen. And when it happens, it's a miserable feeling.

PHILLIPS: And I was reading that -- that your kids have actually said to you that they're worried about you dying? Is that true?

BOOKSTAVER: Yes.

PHILLIPS: Wow. Could it be fatal?

BOOKSTAVER: Yes, it can be, because it's not curable, and it attacks the liver.

PHILLIPS: Wow.

Jeffrey, I want to ask you. Obviously, you're representing Raymond here. Why do you believe in this case and feel so strongly that Dr. Finkelstein was reusing these syringes and that's the cause of the hepatitis C there with your client?

JEFFREY KIMMEL, ATTORNEY FOR BOOKSTAVER: Well, it's a strong case because that's not my claim. That's the finding of the New York State Department of Health, who investigated this claim. And to think that a doctor in this day and age in our country is reusing syringes is simply outrageous.

PHILLIPS: And that's what I was reading, that just last week the New York State Health Department sent letters urging more than 600 of Finkelstein's patients treated between 2000 and 2005 to be tested for hepatitis and the HIV virus.

Have you learned more about why they started to investigate this? Was it a number of people coming forward and complaining? How did it begin? And why do you have faith in the investigation?

KIMMEL: Well, the shame of all of this is that it began with my clients initiating the investigation. And I really don't have faith in it, because I think they have let us down.

It took them over three years. After my client Ray and his family learned about the diagnosis, they were in touch with the Department of Health, and they were pushing them, and trying to find out what the status of the investigation was, and repeatedly they made efforts by phone and by correspondence, and they were met with responses that the investigation was pending, the meetings had to be held, and they were working on it. And it took three years.

And they knew about it by the end of 2004, and these notices went out to people who were treated by this doctor in 2005. So, to me, it seems that those people could have -- it could have been avoided.

PHILLIPS: Well, Jeffrey, just a little while ago, I got this statement actually from Dr. Harvey Finkelstein via e-mail. I want to get you to respond.

He says that: "Media reports have incorrectly stated that Dr. Finkelstein reused needles and syringes with multiple patients. Dr. Finkelstein did not reuse needles and syringes on multiple patients."

obviously, this is coming from something that wrote this for him, OK? They're talking about him.

"Dr. Finkelstein's medical license was not restricted or limited in any way. He has, as a result of these issues, enhanced his infection control practices and continues to practice."

(CROSSTALK) KIMMEL: Well, we think that punishment is a slap on the wrist. And my understanding -- and I have yet to question the doctor myself, but I will -- is that he was reusing the syringes, perhaps not the needles, but the syringes. And either way, it's negligent and horrendous practice.

PHILLIPS: Raymond, what's the next step for you and your family?

BOOKSTAVER: Next step is just try and get on with our lives, take it day by day, and hope for the best, stay on my medication, and just, like I say, take it day by day.

PHILLIPS: Well, we will follow up with you and obviously the investigation and the lawsuit.

Raymond Bookstaver and also Jeffrey Kimmel, your attorney, thank you both very much.

KIMMEL: Thank you.

BOOKSTAVER: Thank you.

LEMON: Straight to the NEWSROOM now. CNN's Fredricka Whitfield working on a developing story.

What do you have, Fred?

FREDRICKA WHITFIELD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Don, let's go to Dallas where we have some live pictures of an incredible explosion of a truck on the interstate. And you can see the plumes of smoke from the distance. That is on the 35-E, northbound, where the truck actually exploded, but now it's resulted into 35 closing in both directions as emergency responders try to get to the vehicle, try to put out the fire, make sure that nobody else is in harm's way.

We don't know anything about the truck, what happened, what precipitated the explosion, the driver or any other passengers that may be inside this truck, nor do we know what size truck we're talking about, whether it's an 18-wheeler or perhaps an SUV of any sort.

But you can see the plumes of smoke, which is pretty remarkable from the distance, and, of course, when we get any more information about what's happening there in Dallas, we will be able to bring that to you. That's Interstate 35 closed in both directions during this investigation -- Don.

LEMON: Fredricka, thank you.

PHILLIPS: America's safest cars, is yours on the A-list? We're going to kick the tires.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

PHILLIPS: More cars than ever are safe, in the judgment of the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety. That group says that 34 2008 models rose to the top of its safest list, triple the number from last year. Ford and Honda account for most of those cars, but Subaru and Hyundai each have four on the list. The Toyota Tundra is the first pickup truck to make the grade.

(BUSINESS REPORT)

PHILLIPS: All right.

Let's get straight to the NEWSROOM, Fredricka Whitfield working the details on a developing story for us.

Hey, Fred.

FREDRICKA WHITFIELD, CNN ANCHOR: Well, Kyra, if you've been in Dallas, you know that I-35 is a major thoroughfare. Well, imagine just as we come in on rush hour, it's closed in both directions because of this right here. You see the plumes of smoke. A truck apparently exploded. We don't know why -- what precipitated the explosion. But it exploded. It caused this incredible fire right there on the northbound lanes of I-35. And now you see the backup -- particularly on the northbound lanes. But on the southbound, you're not seeing much traffic on that side because it is closed on the opposite end of that explosion involving this truck.

This taking place just maybe inside two hours before rush hour begins there in Dallas. It's a real nightmare. Of course, when we find out exactly what happened with this truck, what the size of the truck is -- we don't know if it's an 18-wheeler or if it's someone's SUV, whether there were passengers, including the driver involved. All of those questions still need to be answered. But right there, now you see the fire that is helping to send off these huge plumes of smoke that you could see for miles away in the previous shot that you saw earlier, Kyra.

So -- and there's that shot.

So we'll continue to watch the developments there in Dallas -- 35 north and southbound lanes closed because of that.

PHILLIPS: All right. We're tracking it.

Thanks -- Fred.

LEMON: Well, it's flu shot time again. And if you really hate needles, you might almost prefer the flu.

But CNN's Miles O'Brien found the next big thing in vaccinations is really very small.

(BEGIN VIDEO TAPE)

MILES O'BRIEN, CHIEF TECHNOLOGY & ENVIRONMENT CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): No one likes getting a shot. But the days of the big old needle may be numbered -- replaced by a painless patch that may be the next big thing.

MARK PRAUSNITZ, BIOMEDICAL ENGINEERING PROFESSOR, GEORGIA INSTITUTE OF TECHNOLOGY: What we've developed is very small needles that are so small, you can barely see them or maybe not at all see them and, probably more importantly, you can't feel them.

O'BRIEN: Mark Prausnitz is with a team from Georgia Tech and Emory University working on microscopically tiny needles that are coated with a vaccine.

PRAUSNITZ: When the needle goes in the body, that coating comes off and the vaccine is delivered.

O'BRIEN: And he says there's no pain at all.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The right line just pointed at two of them.

O'BRIEN: The needles are made from a thin sheet of metal trimmed by lasers so focused, they could literally split a hair.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The reserve has started to fire and you can see the beam -- the laser beam, which is now cutting the micro needles.

O'BRIEN: Imagine 15 of them attached to a patch, sort of like a prickly Band-Aid. It sure could make life easier during flu season.

PRAUSNITZ: It stays there for some seconds, maybe a few minutes, depending on how we design it.

O'BRIEN: They're still pretty early on in the design phase. Researchers expect clinical trials to begin within three to five years. But these needles you can't even see may one day turn those big frowns upside down.

Miles O'Brien, CNN.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

LEMON: All right, we have some breaking news.

Let's head to Fredricka Whitfield in the newsroom -- Fed, update us please.

WHITFIELD: Well, Don, it's an alarming sight on 35 right in Dallas. If you've been to that city, you know how important this thoroughfare is. Look right here at these live pictures of what now appears to be possibly an 18-wheeler that somehow ignited -- exploded right here on the highway on the northbound side. You see now the plumes of smoke.

This has meant that traffic is stopped on both directions, just as we head into rush hour. We don't know exactly what happened -- if it involves that one 18-wheeler that you see there or if it involves others. We're only getting reports of one truck explosion taking place. And look at all the arteries around it and the kinds of backups. People are trying to figure out how to work their way around this scene on 35 -- I-35 north and southbound lanes.

And from afar, you can see the plumes of smoke. So you know to just simply stay away from that area. Emergency responders are on the scene trying to attend to all those involved in the accident. And, again, we don't know how many people might be directly affected by this, meaning whether it was the driver in that what appears to be an 18-wheeler or if there were passengers, as well.

More information as we get it -- Don.

LEMON: All right.

Fred, thank you.

PHILLIPS: Going here, there, everywhere -- planes will be packed as millions of people try to fly home for the Thanksgiving holiday -- Brianna Keilar, just how to airline executives plan to keep everybody moving with all these issues of too many planes in the sky and a lot of delays on the ground?

BRIANNA KEILAR, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, they do have some plans. That's the good news today. We heard them today before Congress. The airline industry is estimating that air travel this Thanksgiving is going to be up about 4 percent from last year. And airline representatives told Congress today they are ready for that increase.

The two CEOs we heard from, Delta and JetBlue, say their airlines have increased their number of pilots, flight attendants and also customer service agents. Delta is doubling the number of airplanes that it has on standby and JetBlue is collaborating with TSA and the FAA, as well as the Port Authorities of New York and New Jersey.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DAVID BARGER, PRESIDENT & CEO, JETBLUE AIRWAYS: We all have to be working in alignment with each other and interfaced with each other. And so, we continue to do that and we've seen advancement on the lines of collaboration, sharing information such as expected loads and just what we're anticipating on the ground.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KEILAR: Of course, we'll have to wait and see until after Thanksgiving to see if this actually did work and actually helped the congestion of air traveler -- air travel, rather. But as an air traveler, you can also help yourself out. Check the status of your flight. I know this seems obvious, but it's very important. And also familiarize yourself again with the liquid gel restrictions to avoid causing a slowdown at security. Remember, for carry-on luggage, you are allowed liquids and gels no larger than three ounces in size. And they all need to fit into one quart size Ziploc bag per person.

And I know, Kyra, that, that occurs to us. We travel a lot. But there's a lot of people traveling this Thanksgiving who aren't maybe used to these regulations.

PHILLIPS: That's true. I don't even take a carry-on anymore. It's too difficult.

Well, what do you think?

Do you think this is a lot of political posturing or do you think these changes are going to work?

KEILAR: I think you could say that it's both. This is an issue, of course, that really gets under people's skin. And it's politically smart for Congress and also President Bush to announce some changes today, to really look like they're on top of this.

One thing we heard today -- opening up military airspace for commercial use along the East Coast. President Bush announced that. Said it's going to be in effect for this Thanksgiving travel season. So that's really a good thing. That could be a very substantive change.

But then proposals to increase what airlines compensate passengers who are involuntary booted from their flights or to force airlines to have mandatory contingency plans -- these are not new and they are just that -- proposals at this point. This is not something that will relieve pressure from this holiday air travel crush this year -- Kyra.

PHILLIPS: All right.

Brianna Keilar, thanks for following it for us.

LEMON: The Democrats debate and CNN's Wolf Blitzer will be right there in the middle of it all. The host of tonight's Sin City showdown, he joins us shortly with a very interesting preview.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

LEMON: It's best to have a poker face in Los Angeles Vegas. But O.J. Simpson is almost like an open book -- his face, that is.

CNN's Jeanne Moos explains.

(BEGIN VIDEO TAPE)

JEANNE MOOS, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): He may hide behind sunglasses on his way into court. But once things get underway, O.J. is a head holding, eye rolling, lip-licking smorgasbord of facial expressions.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You can just see that he's like a little volcano.

MOOS: A volcano of outraged disbelief.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: That if I had spoke to the "National Enquirer," he was going to sue me.

MOOS: A volcano that shakes rather than quakes.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes, I carried a gun at the request of O.J. Simpson.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He wanted us out for the tabloids.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I brought my weapon because O.J. Simpson wanted me to have a weapon.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What were you doing with it in the room?

MOOS: O.J. is a dream come true for a body language expert and author of the book, "Emotionomics."

(on camera): He doesn't want him blowing his cheeks out.

DAN HILL, AUTHOR, "EMOTIONOMICS": He blows his cheeks out in exasperation. He rolls his eyes. He shakes his head. But I think the thing that's going to give him the most trouble is the smirking. It's kind of contemptuous.

MOOS: The smirk of disbelief.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Oh, I see.

For money?

MOOS: Remember how Al Gore got panned for sighing over George Bush's debate performance?

GEORGE BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: He's in the State of Texas. That's what the governor...

MOOS: Well, O.J. makes Al Gore look like an amateur.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes.

MOOS: Even when O.J.'s bored, he's demonstrably bored.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The whole issue with O.J. is lack of control. And he has a lack of control over his facial expressions.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: If you could see or shade...

MOOS: He purses his lips...

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And was your suit buttoned closed or was it open?

MOOS: He licks them then comes back for seconds. It looks could kill, O.J. would be guilty.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He said show them your weapon and look menacing.

MOOS: Years ago, "Time" magazine decided to interpret Simpson's mug shot by making it darker. Bet O.J. rolled his eyes over that one. Talk about expressive.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Did you walk to the bathroom?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: No.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Did you walk to the television?

MOOS: O.J. gets startled by his own name.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Or Mr. Simpson.

MOOS: Jeanne Moos, CNN, New York.

(END VIDEO TAPE)

PHILLIPS: Apparently there's a break in the case -- it's a murder mystery in Italy that we've been covering involving two friends and also a bar owner.

Alessio Vinci has been tracking it for us.

Jennifer Eccleston is joining us out of Rome with developments -- apparently DNA -- leading to that break -- Jennifer, can you tell us what you found out?

JENNIFER ECCLESTON, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, we're actually in Perugia -- which is the site of the incident that took place about 10 days ago. But the information that you're alluding to came from the chief police lab based out of Rome, where they revealed that DNA evidence has been found on a kitchen knife that was retrieved from the boyfriend's apartment -- that's the boyfriend of the American, Amanda Knox, the student.

The DNA evidence -- we're not sure what it is. They haven't specified whether it was blood or anyone other type of liquid. But they said they found DNA evidence from Amanda Knox on the knife and also from the victim, Meredith Kercher, the British student that was killed on November 1st and whose body was found on November 2nd.

We also heard from the police that the knife was first cleaned and that through extensive detailing they were able to discover this DNA evidence, though we don't know the quantity or, again, what time of DNA evidence this is.

This is a breakthrough in the case because it gives the prosecution here in Perugia increased evidence, increased reason to keep the suspects in jail here -- which they have been now for a number of days.

PHILLIPS: Jen, why do you think there's been so much interest in this case internationally?

ECCLESTON: Well, I can't tell you how many times I've been asked that by locals here in Perugia. I think it has to be because it is a murder mystery that one can watch every night on various crime shows in the United States, here in Italy or across the globe. It involves nationals from the United States, from the United kingdom, from Italy. And, of course, the third suspect who's being held in jail is from Congo -- a bar owner here in Italy.

It has a salacious aspect to it. It has to do with sex and with drugs and with weapons and, in particular, this knife. So it has all the elements for a very salacious story -- one I'm sure that even most people would find in Hollywood or on their TV sets every night.

But, you know, we must remember that it's a very serious crime and that a young woman -- a 21-year-old student coming here for her junior year abroad was killed as a result.

PHILLIPS: Jennifer Eccleston.

Appreciate the update.

LEMON: The Democrats debate and CNN's Wolf Blitzer right in the middle of it all -- the host of tonight's Sin City showdown and host of THE SITUATION ROOM here on CNN. He's up shortly with a preview of the debate.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

PHILLIPS: Only seven weeks left until the Iowa caucuses and we expect fireworks tonight in Las Vegas when the Democratic hopefuls square off in their latest debate. You can watch it live, 8:00 Eastern, right here on CNN.

The man who's going to be keeping them honest in tonight's debate, the one and only Wolf Blitzer -- Wolf, why is the debate so critical for Democrats?

WOLF BLITZER, HOST, "THE SITUATION ROOM": Because you know it's only about seven weeks before the Iowa caucuses. Seven weeks is not a lot of time for these candidates. Seven Democratic presidential candidates will be up on the stage right behind me to try to differentiate -- to try to make their case why they're the best qualified to be the next president of the United States. It's going to be a sprint. And I fully expect to see more of what happened in the last Democratic presidential debate -- the candidates going after the frontrunner, Hillary Clinton, trying to make their respective cases.

So it could be lively here tonight, Kyra, and we'll be watching.

PHILLIPS: Well, Las Vegas, Nevada -- why is this playing such a big role in the presidential election process?

BLITZER: Well, the Democrats wanted another state to play an important role beyond Iowa, the first caucus, and New Hampshire, the first primary. And they brought Nevada into the picture because it's a state in transition. It's growing by leaps and bounds. It's amazing how much this state -- and especially this area around Las Vegas -- has grown over the past 10 to 20 years. And it's a state that's different than Iowa and New Hampshire -- more diversity, more Hispanics, more union activists. It's out West and the Democrats are clearly trying to establish themselves in the Rocky Mountain area and out West. So it's a different audience, a different part of the Democratic constituency that these Democratic presidential candidates are going to be going after.

Nevada is really important.

PHILLIPS: All right, so we can't say because it's Sin City that rolls in perfectly with politics?

(LAUGHTER)

BLITZER: No, we can't say that. Although, Kyra, you can say that, because you're Kyra.

PHILLIPS: Well, Wolf Blitzer, we'll be watching.

Thanks.

No, we're gearing up...

BLITZER: Thanks.

PHILLIPS: Do you have everything all set there?

I heard you were worried about the tables, the chairs, you know -- is everything in place?

Are you OK?

BLITZER: Oh, we've got -- we -- it's a major -- if you were here, Kyra, you would be amazed how well organized we are. We've got everything we possibly need, including water.

PHILLIPS: All right.

And you've got all your tough questions?

BLITZER: I've got all the questions.

PHILLIPS: Wolf Blitzer, we'll be watching.

BLITZER: Thanks.

PHILLIPS: And it all gets started at 8:00 Eastern tonight. You won't want to miss it. Our man Wolf, right there, the main guy. The Democratic presidential hopefuls are going to take the stage right here on CNN. Wolf Blitzer, the moderator. And he's going to be joined by Campbell Brown and also John Roberts.

Let's get straight to the newsroom.

Fredricka Whitfield is working the details on a developing story.

Is this one out of Texas -- Fred?

WHITFIELD: Right. In Dallas, on 35 -- Interstate 35, both directions closed because of these plumes of smoke. And you follow plumes of smoke and you see right here in this live shot what appears to be a truck, maybe even an 18-wheeler, that is on fire. We heard reports earlier that this truck exploded. We don't know what precipitated this explosion, however. But you see it's kind of collapsed right there over the median, thereby affecting both sides of the highway. Northbound lanes is where this truck was on when that explosion took place. But both directions are closed. And as this shot pulls back, perhaps you'll be able to see the northbound lanes that are backed up for quite a distance. And the southbound lanes are being redirected into other arteries there.

All this taking place near Lake Dallas there in Dallas, Texas.

So a real nightmare just as we encroach upon the start of evening rush hour -- Kyra.

PHILLIPS: Not a good time.

All right, Fred.

We'll keep following it.

LEMON: The closing bell and a wrap of all the action on Wall Street straight ahead.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

LEMON: Yes, the closing bell is about to ring on Wall Street.

But first, did you see that person right there?

PHILLIPS: Oh, where's her little birthday crown?

Jen, I can't believe you took it off.

Now how old do our viewers think Jen is?

Shall we take a poll?

LEMON: No, don't tell.

PHILLIPS: Lordy, Lordy, our Jenski is 40. Show us the mug. Show us the mug, Jenski (ph).

LEMON: She goes in our ear, "I'm going to kill you guys."

PHILLIPS: Come on, show -- show the mug -- "I'm friggin' 40." That's right.

LEMON: Oh, she's young. She doesn't look a day over 28.

PHILLIPS: No, she's (INAUDIBLE).

LEMON: Jen is the glue. She's our executive producer. And 40 is a milestone, so we wanted to say happy birthday.

PHILLIPS: She tries to keep us in check.

LEMON: She looks fantastic.

Jen, we love you.

Thank you.

PHILLIPS: Susan Lisovicz...

LEMON: She's (INAUDIBLE).

(LAUGHTER)

LEMON: Susan Lisovicz is standing by with a final look at the trading day.

SUSAN LISOVICZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT: I was going to tell you about that big diamond, but we don't have time. And it was all worth it, because Jen Marnowski (ph) is a fantastic producer.

PHILLIPS: Amen.

LISOVICZ: Terrific to work with. And I hope she has a very happy birthday.

LEMON: Absolutely.

(STOCK MARKET REPORT)

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