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Inmates are Able to Escape from a New Jersey Jail; Doctors Able to Use Living Ear in Surgery, Draq Queen Bingo, Doggie Sergeants Report for Duty, Chasing a Serial Killer, Writers Strike Continues On

Aired December 18, 2007 - 9:00   ET

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


HEIDI COLLINS, CNN ANCHOR: Good morning, December 18th. Here's the CNN rundown. A made-for-TV jailbreak. Inmates chiseled through concrete, leapt from a rooftop, and leave a taunting note for jailers.
The show will go on but, without striking writers, they refuse to script the Oscars or Golden Globe awards.

As doctors fill a living ear. That's right -- it's not a prosthetic, it's a recycled rib! The body shop in the NEWSROOM.

A dramatic jailbreak. A massive manhunt now. New details this morning about an elaborate New Jersey escape. CNN's Jason Carroll reports.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

JASON CARROLL, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Jose Espinosa was looking at 17 years for manslaughter. Otis Blunt was facing robbery and weapons charges. Together, they hatched a plan to chip their way out of doing hard time.

TED ROMANKOW, PROSECUTOR, UNION COUNTY, NEW JERSEY: I'm angry that two prisoners would escape a secure facility and not even know when they did it.

CARROLL: Guards noticed both inmates missing from their high security cells at the Union County Jail at 5:15 p.m. Saturday. They found this metal wire and say they believe Blunt used it as a tool to chip away a hole into Espinosa's adjoining cell. Then they used it to chisel an 18-inch wide hole from Espinosa's cell to the outside. The holes were concealed with pin-up posters. If their plan sounds a little familiar, that's because that's basically what a character in the critically acclaimed film, "The Shawshank Redemption," did to escape.

ROMANKOW: I really prefer not to compare it with any movie, although I can understand why you might because it does, to a certain degree, it does look very similar to some of them. Except, I think, in "Shawshank Redemption," they had a better poster on the wall.

CARROLL: In the movie, the character crawls through a sewer pipe to freedom. Blunt and Espinosa took a different path. The hole they created, opened up to a third floor landing and once outside, authorities say, they presumably took a running jump 15 feet out, clearing a razor wire fence, and landing 30 feet below. The duo left a note to a guard, reading, "Thank you, officer, for the tools needed. You're a real pal. Happy holidays!" It was marked with a smiley face.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

COLLINS: Oh, always that smiley face...

All right, Jason Carroll joining us now live from New York. This is a pretty unbelievable story. A lot of people are talking about it. You have to wonder, when you see something like this, if they had help from inside or outside the prison?

CARROLL: Well, that certainly, Heidi, one of the aspects of this particular situation that officials there at the Union County Jail are going to be looking into as to whether or not they did have some sort of help from inside.

COLLINS: All right. We will wait to hear more about that. I imagine a lot more details are going to be coming out on this story. Jason Carroll, thank you.

An elderly woman found dead at a police impound lot one day after a car crashed. Now police in California are looking into what went wrong. The 72-year-old was riding with her son when he crashed into a building. Paramedics pulled him from the car and police say he told rescuers he was alone.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JAY WILLIAMS, BUSINESSMAN AND BUILDING TENANT: The doors were open on the car and nobody saw this lady in the back of the car or in the front of the car, wherever she was, but the doors were all open. But, I think everybody was so fixated on the building, they didn't really pay much attention to the car.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

COLLINS: When relatives reported her missing, police went to the impounded car. They found a woman behind the passenger's side air bag. Initial autopsy reports say she died minutes after the crash.

Still shivering: more than a week after ice storm hit the plains. Some 90,000 homes and businesses still in the dark in Oklahoma early this morning, thousands more in Kansas. Utility companies hope to get everyone back online by tomorrow or Thursday. But a lot of people already are tapped out. No money to keep their generators running or to stay in hotels. Shelters are still open.

Will folks in the plains get any relief from warmer temperatures? Rob Marciano is in New York today with a closer look at the Midwest for us.

Hi there, Rob.

(INAUDIBLE) Unfortunately, if the folks at home are hearing what I am hearing, it is not sounding very good. Rob Marciano is in New York for us standing right next to Central Park. They are going to give us more of the forecast as soon as we work on the audio problems. We'll have him up shortly.

Meanwhile, the show must go on. That showbiz credo ringing anew today, weeks after the writers' strike turned your favorite shows into reruns, some stars are returning to the air. CNN Entertainment correspondent Lola Ogunnaike has the very latest now from New York. All right, Lola, looks like Jay Leno and Conan O'Brien are trying to get back to doing the shows in the new year. But how do they do that if the writers are on strike? Are they going to tell their own jokes?

LOLA OGUNNAIKE, CNN ENTERTAINMENT CORRESPONDENT: They are going to have actually to start telling their own jokes and, maybe, start writing their own material. Go figure. You know, they are coming back and their shows will be back on January 2nd but, again, they're not going to have people write their monologues. There are not going to be people there to write their skits or sketches so, the show will go on but it will go on with a very, very lean, lean staff.

COLLINS: U-ummm. How is the writers' strike like that impact the Oscars and Golden Globes? We've been hearing a little bit about that this morning already.

OGUNNAIKE: Yes, that's going to look drastically different. You know, you have 10 to 15 writers working on these events. There are going to be no writers. The Writers' Guild said absolutely not. If they gave them permission to have writers, they would undermine their efforts, so they said no. And they are also not allowing them to use movie clips or anything from past award shows. No movie clips, no writers?

COLLINS: Yes.

OGUNNAIKE: And some celebrities are already saying that they are not going to cross the picket line to go to the event. Katherine Heigl from "Grey's Anatomy" already said that she will not attend unless she gets a waiver from the Guild, so... If you don't have those three components, you don't have much of a show.

COLLINS: Any chance that the whole thing could just be canceled? Either one of those events?

OGUNNAIKE: Unfortunately for the networks no because, all of the advertising has been paid for so they've got to make sure that this show does go on. It's just going to be very lean. It's going to actually be more interesting to see what the show looks like without all of the things that you've expected from a show.

COLLINS: Yes, we call that 'tap dancing'. Maybe, they can hire some tap dancers.

OGUNNAIKE: As long as they don't work for the union, it's OK.

COLLINS: Yes, they got to be freelancers. Lola, thanks so much.

OGUNNAIKE: Thank you.

COLLINS: A court hearing this morning for Debra Lafave, the woman who confessed to having sex with her middle school student. The former teacher is now charged with violating probation. The accusation? Lafave discussed her private life with a teenage co- worker. Under the terms of her probation, she's not supposed to have contact with minors without permission.

He couldn't get work as a police officer but he learned how police officers worked.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MALE INTERVIEWER: Did you ever think that you might be chasing another cop?

UNIDENTIFIED POLICE OFFICER: Well, you know, there was some speculation, of course. As you're investigating these offenses, you don't want to close any door.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

COLLINS: The serial killer's college training.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

COLLINS: Welcome back, everybody. I'm Heidi Collins. You are in the CNN NEWSROOM. Dad calling out the drag queens on bingo night. He says this dressing down has nothing to do with dress.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

COLLINS: Tensions rising in northern Iraq over a new cross- border push by Turkey. About 300 Turkish soldiers moved into Iraq today. Turkey has been battling Kurdish militant fighters and says it has the support of the U. S. and Iraqi governments. Turkey says the Kurdish regional government has not been doing enough to control rebels. The troop movement comes after Turkish air strikes in northern Iraq over the weekend.

Unannounced as usual, Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice turns up in Iraq starting today, in Kirkuk in the north and now in Baghdad. Our Alfonso Van Marsh is there. Alfonso, wondering: what is Condoleeza Rice trying to accomplish on this trip, exactly?

ALFONSO VAN MARSH, CNN CORRESPONDENT IN BAGHDAD: Well, we expect to hear from her directly within the next hour. But, what we know at this point is that she made this unannounced visit to come and stress the need for reconciliation. And, also, to take a look at what many are considering a lull in violence across the entire country in recent weeks and recent months.

She says this is a good thing, perhaps, the United States says that it's important to note that this is a show that President Bush's order to escalate troops in this country a year ago is actually paying off, leading towards peace in this country. Heidi?

COLLINS: Alfonso, Turkish troops have entered northern Iraq -- we know about that. What are people saying there about that activity?

VAN MARSH: Well, this move -- the Turkish President Abdullah Gul says is necessary because Iraq is not capable of containing what they call terrorists. Well, it's certainly a different opinion on this side of the border. As you mentioned, some 300 troops on the ground here -- it is the second incursion in just about three days here.

And, Iraq is not taking it very lightly, saying that civilians have been injured. More than 1,800 people force to flee their homes but, Turkey says it's just about catching PKKP terrorists, an organization that the United States and Turkey considers terrorists and some of the people say they are freedom fighters fighting for an independent homeland. Heidi?

COLLINS: A situation that we will be watching. Alfonso Van Marsh, thank you.

To this story now: a serial killer. He studied like police officers staying one step ahead of them. CNN's David Mattingly has the full story.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

DAVID MATTINGLY, CNN CORRESPONDENT: He always preyed on women he could easily overpower. He always struck at night to avoid detection. When he killed, he never spoke of it to anyone and for decades he was the serial killer without a face. Investigators found many of his victims in their beds bound, raped, and shot in the head. But the killer avoided suspicion in as many as nine murders with moves that were so calculated, police sometimes wondered if they were hunting one of their own.

MALE INTERVIEWER: Did you ever think that you might be chasing another cop?

UNIDENTIFIED POLICE OFFICER: Well, you know, there was some speculation, of course, as you're investigating these offenses, you don't want to close any door.

MATTINGLY: Joe Karl Kennison, Police Chief of Cape Girardeau, Missouri, didn't know it but as a graduate student, he and the killer, a man named Timothy Kricher, may have crossed paths frequently in the early '80s on the campus of southern Illinois University-Carbondale. In and out of prison for rape and other sexual offenses, Kricher was released in 1981 with a court stipulation that he get a college degree. He graduated from the university in justice administration, a curriculum designed for future cops.

JOE KARL KENNISON, POLICE CHIEF, CAPE GIRARDEAU, MISSOURI: Most of the time, it's people that are interested in pursuing a law enforcement career.

MATTINGLY: Around the time he was enrolled, Kricher killed five women in Cape Girardeau, an hour's drive from campus, stalking strangers in other towns was one way he stumped detectives.

KENNISON: It's very difficult to track someone who comes into your community, commits a crime and then leaves.

MATTINGLY: What classes Kricher might have been taking while he was here on the campus is not really clear. The University tells us they no longer have those records. it has as the university no longer has the records. But one thing is certain: his choice of majors was a strange one, considering his violent criminal record, Kricher would have had no luck landing a job in law enforcement. But, while he couldn't get police work, he work, he was learning how police think.

LT. PAUL ECHOLS, CARBONDALE POLICE OFFICER: He would understand the importance of what we know today as forensic scientists, basically fingerprint development and what the significance of fingerprints would be.

MATTINGLY: Police say the killer left behind important evidences at all of the crime scenes but it was never enough to point a finger at anyone. That is, until he came to one house here in this neighborhood in Cape Girardeau. The killer left behind a foot print, a palm print, palm print, blood, and semen. It was everything investigators needed 25 years later to finally solve this case.

MALE ANNOUNCER (voice-over): Kricher, now 63, was already serving time in an Illinois prison for rape when his days of silence came to an end in October.

ECHOLS: I've had conversations with him where he has acknowledged as the science grew he knew at some point this day was going to arrive.

MATTINGLY: The one thing Kricher couldn't have studied when he was in college: how breakthroughs in DNA testing could one day match him to the Cape Girardeau murders and lead to confessions in nine murders in four states. David Mattingly, CNN, Carbondale, Illinois.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

COLLINS: You've never seen bingo quite like this. Dressy and a little raunchy.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE BINGO CALLER: Dot your dots for 072!

(END VIDEO CLIP)

COLLINS: But what would the neighbors think?

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

COLLINS: Is the rocket a dud? Baseball star Roger Clemens may not be feeling the love. Clemens named in baseball's report on performance-enhancing drugs last week and today, his status as a role model in doubt. He was set to speak at the Texas High School annual convention soon. Organizers are meeting to decide today whether to rescind their invitation. Clemens' Attorney has denied his client ever used steroids.

Protecting borrowers from shady lending practices, the Federal Reserve will propose new rules today and disappointing numbers just in on new home construction. Ali Velshi is "Minding Your Business" for us this morning. Good morning to you, Ali. What is the data on new homes seem to tell us here?

ALI VELSHI, CNN CORRESPONDENT: It's our monthly data on new homes under construction. Now, let me just tell you that number is down again. The new construction of single family homes which, as you know, is most of the homes that are built is down for November to its lowest point in 16 years. And when you look at the permits that are issued for new home construction, it is the lowest in 14 years. So that's continued bad news on that front. We look like we're going to be building by the end of the year 1.2 million houses. That is a drop over the number of houses we build every year.

Now, the Fed is going to announce today some rules that are going to, as you say, protect people who take mortgages. It's probably not going to do a lot to help those people who are already in a bad situation. But here are some of the things that we are expecting that they are going to unveil. First of all, they are going to unveil some sort of protection for people who are sub-prime borrowers who want to prepay or pay up their mortgage.

Right now, you get a penalty for doing that. They want to look at that. The other thing is setting up mandatory accounts to pay your tax and your insurance payments. For many mortgages, that is automatic. In mine, it's automatic. For many subprime mortgages it's not so. You get caught with this payment and then you don't have enough money for the tax and the insurance.

Also, further restrictions on this no income verification loans to make sure people who take them are the people who can manage to pay them. No income verification loans generally work for people who work on commissions or get bonuses, things like that. And, of course, Heidi, the one thing we all think should happen is better disclosure of the terms and conditions of the mortgage.

Henry Paulson said about six months ago -- the Treasury Secretary -- it would be great if amongst those 500 pieces of paper there was one paper that said this is your mortgage payment at this interest payment and this is your mortgage payment at this interest rate. Just very clearly, you sign that and understand the rate could go up and so could your payment.

COLLINS: Will that be all? Do you think that would do it? Would that clarify everything?

VELSHI: Look at the polls that we've shown about people who are unhappy with what they call this government bail-out of sub-prime people getting their mortgages frozen. There's some sense some people were duped and some sense that people didn't take enough responsibility.

COLLINS: Yes.

VELSHI: If you make it very clear what your payments are likely to be, at least, you establish that that segment is clear on what the rules are. Then at least, you know where the responsibility lies. I've signed a couple of mortgages, Heidi. They are unbearable. I know a thing or two about money. It's hard to understand.

COLLINS: Yes, I bet, I signed more mortgages than you. Nine!

VELSHI: Can't be. At your tender age? I'm sure, I got you beat.

COLLINS: All right, Ali, thanks so much. It's been an interesting idea. We'll keep our eye on it as always. Ali Velshi on "Minding Your Business".

Now, to this story -- I know, you've been waiting for it. Drag queen bingo night! A neighbor is ticked. He says it's not what they put on their bodies, it's what is coming out of their mouth. Amanda Stansa of affiliate WWSB reports.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

UNIDENTIFIED BINGO CALLER: Oh, dot your dots for 0-72!

AMANDA STANSA, WWSB REPORTER: When you're talking about drag queen bingo, you're already talking about something a little different.

UNIDENTIFIED MAN: Just work it real good! Uh-huh, uh-huh.

STANSA: Tonight's game is different. These queens are playing a little nicer than they used to.

LOU SCHULTZ, CAFE OWNER: The language went over the top and we stopped it. You know? We're just not going to do that in future.

STANSA: Last week, ABC 7 was the first to show you how drag queen bingo was being played complete with a bull horn and lacelets and racy words. But the man who lives less than 20 feet away from this outdoor cafe complains to commissioners, saying the language was too much for his young daughter. So, cafe owner Lou Schultz agreed to stop it.

SCHULTZ: So, any words that are -- would be bleeped out of television will not be said in our event.

STANSA: Won't be said at all or it won't be said on the bull horn?

SCHULTZ: It won't be said at all.

STANSA: In fact, bull horns are not being used anymore, either. So, everything is good, right? This so-called too hot for TV language was silenced. Jonathan Hall says the event is still a hit.

JONATHAN HALL: I can find other words to use. I'll invent some. Who knows!

STANSA: But, neighbors still want to put a stop to this. Making some feel there is more to this.

HALL: I hate to say this, but I think it is a gay issue.

STANSA: The man who lives here right next door to this house still refuses to go on camera with us about all of this. We did, though, speak to him on the phone about how many people feel he is anti-gay. He says that he is not. He says, though, he is anti-child abuse. The neighbor says the language, the events is abusive to his family and he feels harassed by the queen. Schultz says he has done all he can so, for now, at least, this show will go on.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

COLLINS: Players say they will keep coming back. Money raised by the bingo contest goes to a community AIDS fund.

OK, take two: will folks in the plains get any relief from warmer temperatures? That seems to be the question. Rob Marciano is in New York today with a closer look at the Midwest. Hey, Rob, can you hear me?

ROB MARCIANO, CNN CORRESPONDENT: I can hear you. Can you hear me?

COLLINS: I can hear you. Where are you -- Columbus Circle there, huh?

MARCIANO: New York, Columbus Circle, it's below freezing here. But, the folks who have seen all the ice in the southwest and south central part of the country -- they are actually above freezing in many cases. That's the good news.

I'll show you a live picture of Oklahoma City where there are still tens of thousands of people without power after last week's ice storm. Thanks, Coco.

You have some decent weather headed your way and a warm-up -- yes, the answer to that question is definitely yes. Satellite pictures showing you that don't have a whole lot to deal with right now. Temperatures will see rapid increase: 37 right now in Okie City, 40 in Tulsa, will be colder as you head towards Kansas -- so iced over areas there still having some issues.

OK, let's go over to the West Coast -- that's where most of the action is going to be for they are forecast with high temperatures for today. Sliding the map to the west where we got a plume of moisture that is pounding the Northern California coastline. San Francisco and San Jose getting hit hard with rain right now. This rain plume will focus itself all the way down to SoCal, as well. Two -- three storms -- coming in. High winds, heavy rain, heavy mountain snow as well. The winds probably will be the strongest overnight tonight and into the early part of tomorrow morning. You mentioned the rainfall. We mentioned the snow. How much? Well, probably, in excess of two feet above the 7,000 foot mark. Unfortunately for the folks in the Pacific northwest that have seen mudslides and the like from the last couple of weeks of storms, the next 48 hours hold more rain in your forecast with one, two, maybe three inches of rainfall in some of the more mountainous ranges and there is your snowfall forecasts for Nevada.

Our show for tonight, better watch the flash floods posts for SoCal, Heidi, because of the burned areas there and they'll get some heavy rainfall later on today and tomorrow. That' s the latest in your weather. Back over to you.

COLLINS: All right. Very good, we will keep our eye on that alongside with you. We'll talk with you again on this. Thank you, Rob.

A soldier's new best friend.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED SOLDIER: It might do them some good to come up and, you know, pet the dog and meet and greet the dog. At some point there, they might actually, you know, think we're OK.

COLLINS (voice over): You know, this is a great story. Look at those guys! The army sends a couple of special sergeants into Iraq.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

COLLINS: Welcome back, everybody. I'm Heidi Collins, you are in the CNN NEWSROOM. A dad calling out the drag queens on bingo night. He says this dressing down has nothing to do with stress.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

COLLINS: You see the smiling faces there. Hopefully, the numbers will reflect some type of happiness, as well. Yesterday, the Dow just pulled us down 172 points, ending the day at 13,167. So, we'll continue to watch those numbers. We're going to bring in Susan Lisovicz later on to talk about the housing starts and disappointing numbers there. Then the fed, what are they going to do? Maybe another interest rate cut? We'll have to see. Watching the numbers for on New York Stock Exchange.

Also, want to show you this live picture. We are awaiting Secretary Of State Condoleezza Rice that picture coming to us out of Baghdad. You may know that yesterday she was in Kirkuk in an unannounced visit to Iraq, visiting now there today once again at the capital of Baghdad with national leaders. We are expecting her to come to the podium and we do believe she will be taking some questions. You can see in the room there reporters have gathered so we will see what comes of that and bring it to you as soon as possible.

Meanwhile, faith in the Middle East; some 3 million Muslims are converging on Mecca, the Islamic holy site, on hand for the annual Hajj pilgrimage. CNN's Isha Sesay is joining us now via broadband this morning. The president of Iran we know is among those attending. What is the significance of that?

ISHA SESAY, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Heidi, it's interesting. We just spoke to the deputy minister of culture and information in Saudi Arabia. He expressed some surprise there is so many raised eyebrows that Mahmoud Ahmadinejad is here in Mecca performing this year's Hajj. He says he is the president of an Islamic country and in effect they are all Muslim brothers.

He didn't see that politics has a part to play. He is fulfilling one of the five pillars of Islam. Ahmadinejad is somewhere here and out of sight where almost 3 million Muslim pilgrims. At the moment they have spent the day in prayer and meditation as President Ahmadinejad has been doing in some VIP area but he is here but the people we spoke to aren't making a big deal out of it. Heidi?

COLLINS: That is what I was going to ask you if he is actually mingling with the people and speaking with them and making himself available. But it sounds like that is not the case?

SESAY: I'm sorry, Heidi, we have a few technical problems. Could you repeat that?

COLLINS: That's OK. I think you kind of answered Isha. I'll just repeat I was going to ask you about whether or not the president of Iran is mingling with the people we see so many people, obviously, gather every year at the Hajj pilgrimage and I was wondering if he was speaking to any of them or making himself available but you have said he is more in a VIP area so we will keep our eye on this story. Isha Sesay, go ahead Isha.

SESAY: Thank you.

COLLINS: All right. We will follow the Hajj pilgrimage as we always do on CNN.

Meanwhile, a warning and threat in the aftermath of Israeli air strikes. Israeli aircraft carried out three strikes in Gaza late yesterday and into the morning. We have reports at least 11 members of Islamic jihad were killed including the commander of its military wing. Now Islamic jihad says we'll retaliate with suicide attacks inside Israel. Israel says it stepped up -- is against Gaza militants who fire rockets into southern Israel almost every day.

Battling combat stress. A special mission for a pair of sergeants heading to Iraq. CNN Pentagon correspondent Barbara Starr has the story.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

BARBARA STARR, CNN PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT: Meet sergeants first class Budge and Boe, members of the 85th medical detachment combat stress unit and on their way to Iraq. Staff Sergeant Jack Greene is one of the therapists taking the dogs into the war zone.

STAFF SGT. JACK GREENE, U.S. ARMY: It's going to be a great Christmas present for the soldiers there.

STARR: These dogs won't be on security patrols or searching for bombs. These are therapy dogs. Budge and Boe will help the troops deal with the stress of combat.

GREENE: The dog has a natural uncanny way of reducing stress. It's kind of a magical thing. Americans are dog lovers. And most soldiers are dog lovers.

STARR: The unit tries to help troops cope, listening to what they say about how they feel. The dogs will be used to help the soldiers open up.

STAFF SGT. MIKE CALAWAY, U.S. ARMY: Maybe they don't want to talk to me, but it might do them some good to come up and pet the dog and meet and greet the dog and at some point there, they might actually, you know, think we're OK and want to ask more about what we have to offer and how we can help them.

STARR: On this day, Budge and Boe are being officially turned over to the army by the group that helped train them. Already, they are used to the sound of gunfire and even helicopters. These dogs will be well looked after.

CALAWAY: They have boots, uniforms, goggles, different things like that to protect them just like any other soldier.

STARR: The dogs are trained to know that when their vests are on, they are working, acting submissive, available to the soldiers when might need them but like any sergeant first class in the army, they, too, get to go off duty.

GREENE: I'm sure I'm knocking on my door, can I see the dog? I'm going to have to firmly correct them, this is Sergeant First Class Budge. And he is sleeping right now.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

COLLINS: Barbara Starr is at the Pentagon for us. Barbara, as an owner of three labs, maybe I'm a little partial but there is something about a lab. I do wonder how they prepare the dogs for their deployment. This is no small trip.

STARR: It really isn't. These dogs are very special. When they have those little vests on, those little jackets, they are trained to know they are working, that they are on duty and they act in this fashion of just being little love puppies, if you will, to break the ice with some of the soldiers maybe coming in off the line after a very difficult day on combat duty but they will have the same protection that they talked about the piece that the other dogs have.

When you go to some military camps in Iraq and Afghanistan you often see some of the other working dogs, the ones that do the bomb- sniffing and security patrols. The soldiers flock around these dogs. They just love them. What they hope these dogs will be an ice- breaker. It's a serious business and stress levels are reported at record levels by troops especially in Iraq. There is a lot of concern about the mental health and the stress on the soldiers and there's just hope that these two little canine sergeants might be a little bit of sunshine in some very tough times for some of the troops.

COLLINS: You know what? I would bet on it. I really would. Budge and Bo, look at them hard at work there. Great pictures. Barbara Starr reporting from the Pentagon, thank you.

STARR: Thank you.

COLLINS: I want to get to the "NEWSROOM" now. T.J. Holmes is standing by to tell us about something going on in Ohio. Best I can tell you there is a possible bridge collapse and they are trying to get everybody out of the way?

T.J. HOLMES, CNN ANCHOR: Well yes that and we got a liquid propane leak. This is the aftermath of the mess really that we're seeing here. There is on Route 11 there in Tremble County, Ohio is where this is. 230 homes have been evacuated after a truck hit a bridge. This is how it started. One truck hit the bridge. Well, it spilled out a lot of debris from that crash. A car passing by tried to avoid the debris and then hit a tractor-trailer head-on. Two crashes here really to deal with. The driver of the car trying to avoid the debris in fact has been killed according to authorities.

The semi that started this started, it started leaking liquid propane and that prompted the evacuation of some 230 homes that are in the area. Also officials have this whole road under there closed because of that bridge because all of this wreck and this mess has caused some instability with that bridge and they fear the bridge might collapse so because of that fear right now, of course, you can imagine that traffic is being halted so we have quite a mess to clean up as you see there. This is the aftermath. This happened around 5:00 in the morning there local time, so a lot of debris.

There is also a six-inch gas line that has been ruptured because of this and so all kinds of things have come together to make this a huge mess. There you see one of the trucks involved in this crash but, again, we have one person dead. The car, the person who was driving the car that tried to avoid all of this debris from the initial crash then went head-on into a semi coming in the other direction and that driver was killed. Quite a mess going.

No idea of any other injuries or the extent of those injuries from any other drivers who were involved in this crash but, again, 230 homes now being evacuated because of all this mess, all this crashing that went on and then a liquid propane leak to report on top of it. We'll keep an eye on it and see where the cleanup goes. See if they can get that bridge stable and check on the update of those folks who had to evacuate their homes, Heidi.

COLLINS: Boy, that is awful. All right. Keep your eye on that one for us, if you would, T.J., and let us know if anything changes. Appreciate it.

A changing of the guard in Cuba. A letter reportedly written by Fidel Castro, the dictator, saying he will, not, quote, cling to office. That letter was read on Cuban state television and not clear what Castro means by it exactly but it's been 16 months since Castro was last seen in public. Just before undergoing surgery, he temporarily handed over the presidential powers to his brother.

A daring jail break. A massive manhunt under way for two fugitives. New details about a movie style escape in New Jersey. Union County authorities say Otis Blunt and Jose Espinosa hatched an elaborate get-away that went like this. Officers say they used a long metal wire to chisel through their cell's cinder block wall. They hid the holes with pin up posters and used pillow dummies in their beds. It's kind of what happened in the movie "The Shawshank Redemption."

The authorities say once the inmates got outside, they jumped over a razor wire fence. It was something like 25 feet. Then they found their freedom, left a note thanking the guard for the tools needed and wished him a happy holiday. Both men are still on the run and considered dangerous. There is an $8,000 reward for their capture.

Creating an ear from part of a rib. Cutting edge plastic surgery explained by our own surgeon Dr. Sanjay Gupta.

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COLLINS: I want to take you directly to Baghdad as Secretary Of State Condoleezza Rice is at the podium as promised. She came from Kirkuk yesterday and is now in Baghdad having a meeting with national leaders in Baghdad. Let's listen in for a moment and see what she has to say.

CONDOLEEZZA RICE, SECRETARY OF STATE: The expanded neighbors conference sometime relatively early next year.

COLLINS: No pictures but we could hear her. We're going to keep our eye on that and wait for the reception to get better and go back to it as soon as possible.

Meanwhile, born without ears. It happens to hundreds of babies every year in the U.S. but surgeons now have ways to create near perfect replicas. Our Dr. Sanjay Gupta is here to explain more on this. The first question how often does this happen? How common is it?

DR. SANJAY GUPTA, CNN CHIEF MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: It's pretty rare. About 500 babies every year born with specific what is called mycrotia. The ear canal and eardrum and all of that sort of stuff you are born without. There are different grades of mycrotia and some are more severe than the others but it can be profound in terms of the overall cosmetic effect. You have a nubbin of skin there where the ear should be. So relatively commonly but cosmetically pretty devastating.

COLLINS: I bet. What do they do? Create a new ear?

GUPTA: A lot of time they talk about prosthetics and building something out of silicone and actually trying to use a fixation to attach it to the outside of the skin and it doesn't work well and there are problems with these particular devices. What they decided and this is interesting. They decided to take some of your own cartilage. Think about when you breathe in and out.

The cartilage expands. This is very malleable stuff. They take it from the breastbone and the ribs and create a new ear and mold it after the other ear that is normal and create a new ear. That is actually an ear. You're looking at an ear made out of cartilage.

COLLINS: Wow.

GUPTA: They let it grow underneath the skin and the skin almost shrink wraps if you will to take cartilage and you get what you're looking there. This is a British model. That is her ear. She was born with this condition.

COLLINS: You never know.

GUPTA: They did this operation for her and it looks pretty well.

COLLINS: There is a bump down there.

GUPTA: I think that's extra skin. The sort of shrink wrapping, if you will, that is not the exact term for it.

COLLINS: No, that is not the medical term.

GUPTA: But the shrink wrapping if you will you get some abnormality there.

COLLINS: If there are hearing problems associated with someone who does not have an ear, this does not help?

GUPTA: That alone is obviously mainly a cosmetic sort of fix. There are ways to fix the hearing as well. One thing to keep in mind this may be obvious but if you don't have an ear, it's hard to wear a hearing aid because it fits over the ear.

COLLINS: What about implants?

GUPTA: Those are a good option. Taking a wire and putting it directly into where the hearing nerve used to be and actually connecting that is an option. There are actually -- once you have this ear you could use a hearing aid you couldn't maybe use before. You are up to more options in terms of fixing the ear as well as fixing the ear itself.

COLLINS: It's fascinating. I just had no idea even as common as it was at 500 a year.

GUPTA: It's amazing what they can do nowadays. The cartilage is a great source for a new ear.

COLLINS: Excellent. All right. Thank you so much, Dr. Sanjay Gupta.

GUPTA: Thank you.

COLLINS: Here's another story for you, a calendar for mature audiences only.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Well, one love I haven't heard from and my son probably isn't real happy.

COLLINS: To heck with wrinkles. They are taking it off, but for a good reason, though.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

COLLINS: Bearing it all and all for charity. Twelve middle-aged women not showing their years but just their months. Brandon Klein of affiliate KNAZ reports.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

BRANDON KLEIN, KNAZ: In a world of air brushed young bodies the women on the pages of this calendar are going natural.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We try to make it classy, you know. As we say in England not a bit showing.

KLEIN: Some ladies featured in the wild calendar were uncomfortable bearing at all but they dropped everything when they knew how much they would raise for the cancer society.

CAROL DELANDER, MISS OCTOBER: I decided once to do it and once I made the commitment then, of course, I just did it.

KLEIN: The calendar features local women in their 40s, 50s, and 60s.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It was so much fun. We've never laughed so much in all our life.

KLEIN: Miss October says it's something she always wanted to do. Some of her loved ones weren't as enthusiastic.

DELANDER: Well, one loved one I haven't heard from and my son probably isn't real happy.

KLEIN: An experience they will treasure the rest of their lives.

CATH JONES, MISS SEPTEMBER: We joke when we're in our nursing home wearing our sashes, we can talk about it for a long time.

KLEIN: In Williams, Brandon Klein, 12 News.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

COLLINS: In just one month, the calendar sales have raised $5 million for cancer research.

An American jailed in Nicaragua may soon go free. An appeals court overturned his murder conviction but the judge who was supposed to arrange his release yesterday never showed up. The back story now from CNN's Rick Sanchez.

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RICK SANCHEZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Eric Moulds is in love with the ideal setting of coastal Nicaragua and he had fallen in love with this beauty, Doris Jimenez. They dated and had broken up but kept in contact. Then in November, a year ago, Jimenez was found strangled. Despite almost no evidence, Eric is charged with her murder. But witnesses tell me he wasn't there. He couldn't of done it. He was there in his office, you say. You saw him. He was wearing shorts?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: In shorts.

SANCHEZ: At his trial, witnesses also tell the judge that he wasn't there. But there was something else going on outside that may have impacted the judge even more. With Eric Moulds on trial, his life hanging in the balance there in that courtroom, the mob here on the street was getting even more tense and the message that they seemed to be sending to the judge was clear, we want the gringo convicted.

Inside the course house, mold's lawyer presents witness to prove he was in his office two hours away at the time of the murder. Ten of them! No one in Eric's family is prepared for what comes next. This is Moulds' mother telling his father the outcome.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It's a guilty verdict.

SANCHEZ: Eric was found guilty of murdering dories Jimenez. He was also found guilty of raping her. Even though police never concluded that she had been raped. He was sentenced to 30 years in prison and if that seemed strange after what you've heard, listen to this. Another man was also convicted of the same crime by the same prosecutor and the same judge even though the prosecution never connected him with Eric Moulds. Rick Sanchez, CNN, Nicaragua.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

COLLINS: Dangerous and on the run, a manhunt for two inmates who busted out of jail Hollywood style.

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COLLINS: An intruder flew into the senate gallery and security was unable to prevent a dirty bomb from dropping. Jeanne Moos is just joking, sort of. JEANNE MOOS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: It's shaped like an aviary and it contains plenty of bird brains.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Oh!

MOOS: So what is one more?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Whoa! Almost!

MOOS: There it was, a bird in the senate. Not to be confused with Larry Byrd or Senator Byrd. Actually Senator Byrd was referring to illegal immigrants. But the bird was treated like an illegal, security chased it with a net in the senate press gallery where they hold press conferences.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Oops.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Oh!

MOOS: That exclamation came when the bird collided with a ventilation duct. It survived. Chase ago bird around the senate can't be compared with this.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Oh, my gosh. No way!

MOOS: Or a herd of escaped buffalo running around on a tennis court. No heads in the senate gallery swiveled as though it was watching tennis and it was exciting when a photographer lured the bird to land on his pinkie.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Oh, my god.

MOOS: His colleagues mocked imagine Matthew as the bird whisperer.

MATTHEW CAVANAUGH, EUROPEAN PRESS PHOTO AGENCY: I crunched up granola bar and put it in my hand.

MOOS: It joined other political flying objects making the rounds like Ron Paul's blimp. And a helicopter ferrying Hillary Clinton around Iowa. At least they didn't drop bombs. Irks oh!

Second exclamation is when the bird dropped a present on a guy rubbing his head.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I was pulling for the bird, kill it!

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He's a bald guy so it cleaned up pretty well.

MOOS: How did we hear about it? A little birdie told us. A lot of little birdies. A flock of frantic e-mails disbursed from Washington giving blow by blow accounts. Heads up for Senator Charles Schumer whose head was already up looking for the bird.

SEN. CHARLES SCHUMER (D), NEW YORK: But if it flies out, I'm going to stop, OK? MOOS: That would be an amazing feat.

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