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Driver and Backhoe Trapped Under Ice in Wisconsin; Chinese Government to Open Records on Camps and Detainees from Korean War; California Teenager Shot and Killed After Telling Classmates he was Gay

Aired February 25, 2008 - 13:00   ET

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


GERRI WILLIS, CNN PERSONAL FINANCE EDITOR: Time now for your latest headlines in the CNN NEWSROOM.
T.J. and Betty, back to you.

BETTY NGUYEN, CNN ANCHOR: It isn't just the polls that are driving the drama in the Democratic presidential contest. The polls are getting revved up, too. Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama battle over Texas and Ohio and Vermont and Rhode Island. All of that this hour.

T.J. HOLMES, CNN ANCHOR: An airline passenger boards a flight in Haiti, dies on the way to New York. The woman's family blames an allegedly uncooperative flight attendant, as well as empty tanks of oxygen.

Hello, everybody. Glad you'll be with us.

I'm T.J. Holmes, in today for Don Lemon, here at the CNN World Headquarters in Atlanta, Georgia.

NGUYEN: Yes, good afternoon, everybody. I'm Betty Nguyen, in for Kyra Phillips.

You are in the CNN NEWSROOM.

Well, she was trying to fly home, but she never made it. Now a woman's death in the sky sparks a host of troubling questions on the ground, and anyone who's ever boarded a flight would want the answers. Let's go straight to CNN's Deborah Feyerick in New York.

Deborah, what happened here?

DEBORAH FEYERICK, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Betty, we can tell you that there are two very different stories: one from American Airlines, the other from the family of the deceased woman.

Here's what happened. About an hour into American Airlines Flight 896 from Port-au-Prince to New York, Carine Desir started having breathing problems. So apparently, her cousin, Antonio Oliver, told a news reporter that he begged a flight attendant for oxygen. He says he was refused twice.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) ANTONIO OLIVER, COUSIN: They tried to open it. When they opened the oxygen tank, there's nothing in the tank, nothing in the tank.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

FEYERICK: Now American Airlines says within minutes the captain made an announcement asking if there was anybody on the plane who could offer some medical assistance. Seven people stepped forward, including three doctors and a nurse. They began administering the oxygen and then performed CPR for 45 minutes.

Now, at no time did the automatic defibrillator register any sort of a shock that would have allowed the machine to actually spark her heart again. So, they were working on the passenger for about 45 minutes.

The pilot, in the meantime, was rerouting the plane to Miami. But when one of the doctors who was helping his passenger realized the woman was dead, he alerted the captain, and the captain decided to take the flight back into New York.

Now, American Airlines has issued a statement backing its crew and the actions that were taking. American Airlines says, "Oxygen was administered, and the automated defibrillator was applied." The airline says, "We stand behind the actions and training of our crew and the functionality of the onboard medical equipment."

Now, the woman's traveling companion, her cousin, told one of the doctors that she suffered from diabetes, also suggestions that she may have had high blood pressure. So right now American Airlines is investigating. The Port Authority police, the detectives there not called in to look at this because there's no suggestion of any sort of criminal activity.

The woman was announced DOA, dead on arrival, and she was put in one of the aisles and then taken from the plane. The medical examiner declaring that she died of natural causes -- Betty.

NGUYEN: All right. And so to be very clear, when she said she needed oxygen, she was given that oxygen that she needed at that point?

FEYERICK: She may not have been given the oxygen straight away, and that's one of the things that obviously is going to be under investigation. Planes, by law, are required to have these tanks on the plane. And before the plane can even take off, the flight attendant has to actually check it off on a list, saying that, in fact, they have verified that they're working. American Airlines says that all of the oxygen tanks on board, 12 of them, as a matter of fact, were in working order.

NGUYEN: All right. Deborah Feyerick, joining us live. Thank you, Deborah.

Well, OK. So you're thousands of feet in the air, and you get sick and you ask for help. What kind of help can you expect? CNN medical correspondent Elizabeth Cohen tells you right here in the NEWSROOM.

HOLMES: Leading our political ticker, Hillary Clinton accusing Barack Obama of using campaign tactics, "straight out of Karl Rove's playbook."

Clinton is angry over two mailers by her Democratic rival's campaign. One of those mailers accusers her of switching her position on NAFTA, the North American Free Trade Agreement. The other criticizes her health care plan. Clinton says the mailings are false. The Obama campaign says they're true.

We're eight days away from the next round of nominating contests, in Texas, Ohio, Rhode Island, as well as Vermont. Ohio and Texas, of course, the big tickets on that -- that March 4th docket. They're getting a lot of attention.

But have new poll numbers today to show you from Rhode Island and Vermont. In Rhode Island, our new CNN/American Research Group poll shows Hillary Clinton with a lead, 52 percent to Barack Obama's 40 percent. In Vermont Obama leads with 60 percent to Clinton's 34 percent.

Turn to the Republican side now, and John McCain has big leads in both of those states. Well, Ralph Nader is running for president. Again. Same old story, same old song here. You heard it before. If you count the write-in campaign in 1992, this actually makes his fifth attempt. And once again the consumer advocate is lashing out at the Democratic, as well as the Republican contenders.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

RALPH NADER (I), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I'm running for a simple reason. Washington has closed its doors on citizen groups: labor, citizen, consumer, reform groups, environmental groups. It's -- it's corporate occupied territory. And we've got to heed Thomas Jefferson, who said when we lose our government, we've got to go into the electoral arena. He used the word "revolution." I think we need a Jeffersonian revolution.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

HOLMES: Nader says Americans won't vote for a pro-war John McCain. And he says that the Democrats can win in a landslide this year. The party should, quote, "Wrap up, close down, emerge in a different form."

Well, the Democratic Party chief, Howard Dean, is attacking the Republican frontrunner over campaign financing. Dean accuses John McCain of trying to get around campaign finance laws by opting out of public financing for his primary campaign. Dean alleges that McCain used the prospects of almost $6 million in federal matching funds as collateral for a campaign loan.

McCain notified the Federal Election Commission earlier this month that he was not claiming federal matching funs. His campaign denies any wrongdoing here. However, the FEC chairman has raised some similar questions.

All the latest campaign news available at your finger tips. Go to CNNpolitics.com. Plus analysis from the best political team on television. That and more at CNNpolitics.com.

NGUYEN: Well, we are also working on a big story out of the Pentagon today, and it concerns U.S. service members still listed as missing from the Korean War more than a half century ago. With the story for us live now is our Pentagon correspondent, Barbara Starr.

What's the latest with this, Barbara?

BARBARA STARR, CNN PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT: Well, Betty, you know, as the world has watched the New York Philharmonic land in North Korea just several hours ago. Quite a sight that it was to see that kind of activity between the two countries. But behind the scenes, there is this other story, of course, unfolding, that the families of perhaps 8,000 American servicemen unaccounted for from the war in Korea, that they will be watching as well.

What do we know right now? Well, we have learned that, later this week, the U.S. and China are expected to sign an agreement where the Chinese military will finally, more than half a century later, open its records about the camps that it ran in North Korea. You see a map here. These were POW camps the Chinese and the North Koreans ran during the war, where many American servicemen were held and we don't know how many perished there. There are 8,000 unaccounted Americans from the war.

The Chinese will open their records and what the Pentagon hopes is they will finally begin to learn what happened to some of these men and bring closure, if you will, to their families. It's something that has been a long time in the coming. Of course, Governor Bill Richardson of New Mexico has been to North Korea many times. He has undertaken the task with the North Koreans of bringing home the remains of some Americans lost in the war.

And over the years, the Pentagon has sent teams, actually, into North Korea to look for remains. But all of that work was cut off in 2005, over the dispute, of course, about the nuclear program in North Korea. So now, they're coming at the problem in a different way, working with Chinese and hoping to get some progress for some American families -- Betty.

NGUYEN: Most definitely. All right. Barbara Starr, joining us live. Thank you, Barbara.

And there is another big story concerning North Korea. The reclusive nation rules out the welcome mat -- yes -- for the New York Philharmonic. A sign of a cultural thaw with Washington that may add up to something even bigger. We're going to take a look in just a moment.

HOLMES: You think thing's bad with the in Chicago? Just hold on. We've got something else coming your way. A big storm system threatens ice in the Midwest and possible fire in the southwest to talk about.

Jacqui Jeras here with us with fire and ice. Hello there.

(WEATHER REPORT)

HOLMES: My goodness, you literally do have fire and ice to talk about.

JACQUI JERAS, AMS METEOROLOGIST: We've got all.

HOLMES: This storm system. All right. We'll be checking in with you in a little bit. Thank you so much, Jacqui.

NGUYEN: And CNN's Kyra Phillips in Iraq in a bulletproof vest and headed down a dangerous road.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

KYRA PHILLIPS, CNN ANCHOR: So basically, we've got to put our vests on, and then we'll have armored cars taking us from the airport to the bureau. It's actually...

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: An unclean chest.

PHILLIPS: That's all right. The unclean shirt's OK. It's actually one of the most dangerous parts of the trip.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

NGUYEN: Kyra takes us down that road, and we're going to check in with her, coming up.

HOLMES: Also, there might be no country for old men, but there are four gold trophies for those men. There will be Oscars, or at least an Oscar recap right here, coming up.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

HOLMES: Take a look at this picture, folks, coming to us out of Wisconsin. Racine County, Wisconsin. This live picture, actually, where a backhoe has busted through some ice and is -- you can see it there. Or you can't make it out too well, because it's a light picture. But you look closely enough, you can tell it's a backhoe that busted through this ice.

The work is going on now around this backhoe. And folks have been called in because of the possibility that someone is now trapped under the water, in the water and possibly under the ice and possibly somewhere under that backhoe.

Again, this in picture coming to us from our affiliate there. This is word we just got a short time ago. But it's just a fascinating picture to watch this huge piece of machinery that's broken through this ice here.

We're keeping an eye on this story, because, again, we're told that there may be a person that is trapped. Here now are some of the earlier video, give you a different perspective of it. You can see, certainly, some folks gathered around. They're working to determine, in fact, if there is somebody trapped under that ice.

But you can see the backhoe. We're not exactly sure what was going on, why the backhoe was there or what it was doing and on that ice. But certainly, it broke through and just a fascinating picture. We're keeping an eye on it. Give you an update as we get it.

NGUYEN: All right. Well, it is 16 past the hour. Here are a few of the stories that we're working on here in the CNN NEWSROOM.

American Airlines says it is looking into the circumstances of a passenger's death on a flight from Haiti to New York. The woman's cousin says crew members first refused to administer oxygen, and when they finally did, two tanks were empty, and a defibrillator didn't work.

The trial of three police detectives charged in the shooting of a man on the night before his wedding is underway in New York. The three police officers are accused of firing 50 bullets outside a strip club where Sean Bell had attended his bachelor party. Bell was killed. His two friends were wounded.

And students at Northern Illinois University returning to class, 11 days after a deadly campus shooting spree. More than 12,000 people attended a memorial last night for the five students killed by a suicidal gunman.

HOLMES: So some of you may be old enough to recall that America's thaw with China started with a ping-pong patch in 1971. Diplomacy sometimes works in mysterious ways. But hey, if it works, it works.

And that's why it may be a very big deal now that a group of U.S. musicians arrived today in North Korea. Not just any musicians here, but the New York Philharmonic arriving in the midst of a high-stakes dispute over New Korea's nuclear weapons.

In the North Korean capital now, here now, CNN's Alina Cho.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

ALINA CHO, CNN CORRESPONDENT: The New York Philharmonic will be performing here in Pyongyang in less than 24 hours, and that will be historic.

There is less to report on the diplomatic front. Talks aimed at ending the nuclear standoff have progressed, but there have been no real breakthroughs. North Korea still has not given a correct and complete declaration of its nuclear programs, and Pyongyang says the U.S. has not provided the fuel aid it promised.

So with that as the backdrop, the New York Philharmonic is hoping to use music as a tool. They call it the international language of diplomacy. (voice-over) Violinist Michelle Kim is a symbol of Korea's painful history. She was born in South Korea. Her parents were born in the north and fled to the south during the Korean War.

The 34-year-old is one of the most prominent members of the New York Philharmonic. She's nervous, not only about playing well, but also about what this means for diplomacy with the west.

MICHELLE KIM, VIOLINIST: Well, there's an old Korean saying, and I'll translate it in English, but you can't spit on a face that's smiling at you. And I hope that music will open their hearts, as well.

CHO: Even music in North Korea is tightly controlled. It's a crime to listen to anything not sanctioned by the government.

So when the New York Philharmonic performs in Pyongyang Tuesday, the first American orchestra to play there, there will be symbolism everywhere, including "The Star-Spangled Banner" and Gershwin's "An American in Paris."

LORIN MAAZEL, CONDUCTOR, NEW YORK PHILHARMONIC: It's a kind of tongue-in-cheek way of saying Americans do travel abroad to Paris, sometime ago, and now to Pyongyang.

CHO: Some have criticized the New York Philharmonic's trip to Pyongyang as a propaganda coup for North Korean leader Kim Jong-Il.

(on camera) What do you say to blunt that criticism?

MAAZEL: It's the only weapon we have, so to speak, but a very important one. I've conducted orchestras in countries where I don't speak the language. But I speak the language of music and so do they, and we get along instantly.

CHO: What do you hope that this one concert might be able to accomplish?

KIM: This might not solve the nuclear weapons. This might not solve the problems with the U.S. politically, but this will certainly be in their hearts as something to remember. And that's very positive.

CHO: Tuesday night's concert will be shown live around the world, including right here in Pyongyang. But it is unclear exactly how many average North Koreans will actually be able to watch it, because a lot of people here don't own TVs.

What is also unclear is whether the man known as the dear leader, Kim Jong-Il, will be in attendance. Representatives from the New York Philharmonic say they have no confirmation, and they won't know until the curtain goes up Tuesday night.

Alina Cho, CNN, Pyongyang.

(END VIDEOTAPE) NGUYEN: Well, sip on this when it comes to good old H20. Which city has the best water on tap?

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

HOLMES: So who's the got the tastiest water? This weekend, a panel of judges in West Virginia sipped water from 19 states and nine foreign countries, some 120 water samples in all. It all took a while to get through this, since the judges kept having to go to the bathroom. Yes.

But Los Angeles shared top honors with Clearbrook, British Columbia, for the best-tasting tap water. L.A., who knew? Judges based their decision on taste, odor, mouth feel -- Betty.

NGUYEN: I don't know what that is.

HOLMES: And aftertaste?

NGUYEN: Isn't water not supposed to have any kind of an aftertaste?

HOLMES: A mouth feel? OK. Well, the Berkely Springs International Water Tasting Contest has been critiquing water for 18 years now.

NGUYEN: Well, that's interesting. Because I think -- didn't California have some new program where it goes from toilet water to tap water?

HOLMES: What city was that?

NGUYEN: Maybe that's why it's so tasty. I don't know.

HOLMES: Has a weird mouth feel, I'm sure.

NGUYEN: And aftertaste. Don't forget about that.

All right. In other news, home equity loans used to be like piggy banks for home owners. But now some of those piggy banks are empty. CNN's Susan Lisovicz is on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange with the latest.

Where's the money going, Susan?

SUSAN LISOVICZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, the money's going out of the home. That's the problem. But you know what? I'll drink to that. You know, New York City water has always tasted pretty good. They always usually rank pretty high in those surveys.

(STOCK REPORT)

LISOVICZ: Concern is that the credit crunch is extending to all types of loans, Betty, including home equity loans, which is, yes, has been for many years, especially during the housing boom, like your own personal piggy bank. But now existing home equity loans are also under pressure as home values decline. Well, it's just tougher to tap into that. And we're seeing evidence that some -- some lenders don't want to be left holding the bag in case, well, you know, the housing market gets even worse.

And so, they are lowering limits in some cases, in some cases closing ones altogether. Yet another reason why there are concerns about consumer spending which is so vital to growth in the U.S. economy -- Betty.

NGUYEN: You know what? That's got to be so troublesome, especially for other parts of the economy when you hear that kind of news, Susan.

LISOVICZ: Well, no question about it. I neglected to mention that we did hear from a big retailer today. Of course, retailers are completely driven by -- their growth is completely driven by retail spending.

Lowe's, the No. 2 home improvement retailer, imagine the place that they're in right now. They saw their quarterly profits decline 33 percent, and that was actually also better than expected. So Lowe's shares are not low; they're up by about 3 percent.

But the company says that the next several quarters will continue to be challenging. And well, we've seen why that is. The continuing problems in the housing market.

Speaking of problems in the housing market, want to update you on a story we talked about last week involving Countrywide, which is the huge mortgage lender. We told you about a plan for a ski junket in Aspen, Colorado, which several dozen bankers would be wined and dined at the Ritz-Carlton with Kobe beef and skiing and cocktails and so on.

Well, "The New York Times" says that trip is off, that the company says in light of recent events, it is canceled. So, Countrywide taking a different course, so to speak.

NGUYEN: Yes. You think their PR department had anything to do with that?

LISOVICZ: Well, I know that -- I know that there was some pretty negative headlines here in New York, and maybe that had something to do with it.

NGUYEN: Yes. Just a little bit, perhaps. All right. Susan Lisovicz, joining us live. Thank you, Susan.

LISOVICZ: See you in the next hour.

NGUYEN: Sure.

HOLMES: Attention, field journey to Baghdad. Our Kyra Phillips is there. She'll show us how it's still a harrowing trip, even with the security gains. (COMMERCIAL BREAK)

NGUYEN: Well you may have noticed Kyra Phillips has been absent from the NEWSROOM for a while. Well, here's why. She's on special assignment. Kyra will be reporting out of Iraq for the next few weeks and she joins us live now from Baghdad.

Let me say, it is so good to see you, Kyra.

KYRA PHILLIPS, CNN ANCHOR: Let me tell you what, that journey is pretty harrowing and I'm going give you a little inside look to it now, Betty, as you can imagine. A lot of people ask me, and here we are five years into the war, how do you get there? Do you go in by military? How dangerous is it? And I thought, okay, I'll grab the handy cam and I'll try and document my journey to give you all an inside look.

Yes, it is still very dangerous. Yes, there have been improvements but I'm going to try to give you a taste of what it's really like through the eyes of my camera.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

PHILLIPS (on-screen): So basically, this is the beginning of the trip. Everybody that's boarding for Baghdad are security ties, construction workers and journalists. A lot of people always ask, "What kind of -- or how we get into Baghdad." And they always think it's the military but believe it or not, you fly a commercial airplane.

This one is Royal Jordanian, it's an airbus and it's going to be a packed flight today.

PHILLIPS (voice-over): For many of these passengers, it's their first trip into Baghdad like Matt, he's a paramedic from Washington State.

(on-camera): Tell us what you're going to be doing in Iraq.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I'm going to be doing convoy operations out of Baghdad.

PHILLIPS: And you're a civilian, so why come in and do this?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's good pay.

PHILLIPS (voice-over): The flight is quiet. And it's tense. Passengers are lost in their own thoughts; going to work, going to war, going home. It's time to land.

(on-camera): To come in for a landing you have to do a really tight loop that used to be a lot tighter and faster. These are called the spiral landing. But now it's a gentle turn and then it comes in. So once you hit ground you're totally relieved. Isn't that right?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Correct. PHILLIPS (voice-over): You can see Saddam's mansions all across Iraq. Ornate and flashy palaces now mostly military compounds.

(on-camera): We're in Baghdad.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We are.

PHILLIPS (voice-over): It's always a relief to land. Armed guards hurry us to the bus. We head to baggage claim. And for security reasons, I can't show you very much here. But I can show you we are incredibly protected.

(on-camera): So basically we've got to put our vests on and then we'll have armored cars taking us from the airport to the bureau, it's actually --

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Unclean shirt.

PHILLIPS: That's all right. The uncleaned shirt's okay. It's actually one of the most dangerous parts of the trip. But we've got great security, we've got a couple of cars, we have Iraqi security and our other security. That's about all I can say.

PHILLIPS (voice-over): I can't show you faces of our security team but I can tell you the mantra. Weapons, medical packs and communications.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: On the radio, here.

PHILLIPS: Safety in numbers and mitigating every threat.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: For the purpose of this journey, should anything happen, do not attempt to get out of the vehicle or open the doors; just listen to me. If do tell you to get down, then try and get down below the window line.

PHILLIPS: This is the route from Baghdad International Airport to our bureau, infamous for terrorist attacks.

(on-camera): Why has this essentially been one of the dangerous routes here in Baghdad?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Because it presents mass groups of foreigners, it uses targets of opportunity. They know that by sitting around and monitoring this route they've got easy pickings. Within an hour, someone is going travel along this road.

PHILLIPS: There was a time you could never come down this road without something happening.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: That's about true, yes.

PHILLIPS: And now you've got more Iraqi army.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes. More, power in the front line. Today we've had a lot of -- overpass clear -- you'll spend probably an hour -- 10 kilometers an hour from the green zone (ph) and sweep the road for IEDs, objects and whatever.

PHILLIPS: So it's times like this where security definately becomes more concerned. They call it a bit of a choke hold, where we come it a stand still and all the cars stop. Because if something were to happen, you're a bit of a sitting duck. So security pays attention to the balconies, if anybody's up on balconies of houses. So no-one's allowed to gawk over the overpasses anymore, right?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Or throw anything, more importantly, at us. Or fire at us. It got easy just to drop a grenade on top of a vehicle.

PHILLIPS: About two minutes from our compound, but I'm going to turn off the camera, because the last thing we want to do is compromise where we live and all the security around our compound. We have a lot of Iraqi workers and other workers that work really hard to protect us. So we made it, we're here, we're looking forward to doing a lot of great stories.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

PHILLIPS: And Betty, if that's not enough of a reality check , I'll tell you what was truly a reality check was when, as soon as we got to the compound, about ten minutes in when my producer, Isabelle (ph), and I were unpacking and kind of getting ready to get adjusted to everything, a car bomb went off and the whole bureau shook.

So we all had to head down to the safe room, do a head count. You could smell the explosion. It's a very distinct smell when something like that happens. And I looked at the Isabelle, it's her first trip, and I said, "Well, welcome to Baghdad. Here we go." And she just sort of looked at me said, "Yep, welcome to Baghdad."

NGUYEN: That is the reality of the situation. I have to ask you though, I mean, you've been to Baghdad a couple of times now. When you're on that dangerous strip of road, which you were showing us there, what goes through your mind?

I know this time you were helping illustrate what it's like. But somewhere deep inside you have to have some kind of feeling as to what the next few days, months will be like for you.

PHILLIPS: Sure. I mean, the first thought is, our security team is so incredible and the Iraqis are a huge part of that because they know the area. A number of them used to work under Saddam Hussein, not wanting to work under Saddam Hussein. So they know the threat, they know what to look for and they're the ones you really feel intuned with and close to.

You know they have your back. And that's where you get the confidence to go out into the field and work the stories. Truly, that's where it comes from. But going down that road this time around, and I've been here a couple of times now, it actually felt safer to me. I saw more Iraqi army, more Iraqi police, so it was different. It went a lot quicker than the last time around, Betty. NGUYEN: Yes, you feel safe until a car bomb goes off and then you realize, yes, indeed, you are in Baghdad. So what's coming up tomorrow? What do you have for us?

PHILLIPS: Well, this is pretty exciting, Betty. This is something I wanted to do a year ago but it wasn't up and running yet. You know how much I love to fly those Strike Fighters. Well the Iraqi Air Force isn't to that point yet. But they're working on it.

We're going to take you inside the Iraqi Air Force where the U.S. Air Force is training young pilots right now in trainers, in Cessnas, to eventually fly those Strike Fighters. I'm going to follow through one unique pilot, top of his class. We go into simulators, we fly, he'll tell you his story.

But here's the best part. When I asked him why he wanted to be a pilot, listen to what he said.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

PHILLIPS: Why do you want to be a pilot?

LT. MAJID, IRAQI AIR FORCE: I have three answers. First, this is my dream. And I think I want to serve my country. And actually, "Top Gun".

PHILLIPS: "Top Gun"?

MAJID: Yes.

PHILLIPS: The movie "Top Gun"?

MAJID: Yes. I saw this movie three times. So it motivated me to be a pilot.

PHILLIPS: So you're Maverick and I'm Goose?

MAJID: We are.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

PHILLIPS: There you go, Betty. Tom Cruise influencing young Iraqis to become pilots. And on a serious note, fight the insurgents from the air to the ground. So inside Iraqi top gun, coming up tomorrow.

NGUYEN: Well let's hope that you're not indeed Goose. Because I saw that movie. It wasn't a good ending. You indeed, though, are our top gun there in Baghdad. Thank you, Kyra, we'll be talking with you shortly.

PHILLIPS: Thanks, Betty.

HOLMES: We want to turn back to something we were keeping our eye on out of Wisconsin. A backhoe that has apparently fallen through the ice there. Racine County. We understand, according to "AP" now, that rescue crews have been called in, divers possibly called in to jump into that water trying to possibly find someone who is trapped in that water and under that machinery.

Again, this is a picture we're looking at a little while ago from our affiliate there in Racine, Wisconsin, where this backhoe has fallen through this ice. Now you, probably like us, asking the question: what in the world is a backhoe doing on ice in the first place? We don't have that answer. But Jacqui Jeras is going to help us with this.

Jacqui, we're talking about -- it's never a good idea, one would assume, to be on ice. You don't know how thick it is, you don't know how -- if it can hold up to your body weight or anything else you might be trying to take across it. So -- but it is possible, you said, but still it would be tough for a measurement for anybody just coming up on some ice to able to determine whether or not it could support you.

JACQUI JERAS, AMS METEOROLOGIST: It is hard. You want to do things like testing how deep that ice is with an auger, for example, if you're going to go out and spend some significant time. And there's a little kind of riddle -- a little rhyme, basically, that can help you out as well.

If it's thin and crispy it's way too risky. If it's dark and blue, tends to be tried and true. But I got a little information here from the DNR from Minnesota, just to give you a better guideline of just how deep the ice needs to be in order for you to go on it. I don't know that a backhoe ever should be on ice. And you certainly -- I'm guessing that could be an accident there.

But what about for people? Let's go ahead and take a look at that. It needs to be about four inches for a person to safely walk or ice fish on the ice. As for snowmobiles or ATVs, about five inches. Eight to 12 inches required for a small car or a pickup. And for a medium truck, about 12 to 15 inches. Now I was looking on many different Web sites out of Wisconsin to get to a better idea of how thick, maybe, the average ice is in that area.

I'm seeing areas in northern Wisconsin, up in the north woods, of about 12 to 13 inches of ice and that should be enough to hold a vehicle. But, the temperatures have been really fickle in the last couple of weeks. We've had arctic intrusions and a lot of cold temperatures, but then in the daytime, we'll start to warm up into the 30s and 40s. So you get a lot of freeze thaw and that can help make the ice very unstable as well -- T.J.

HOLMES: And, again, you were talking about a truck, the ice would have to be thick. But a backhoe, we don't have that -- we don't have that calculation. Nobody thinks that a backhoe would be on ice.

JERAS: (INAUDIBLE) all the way down.

HOLMES: I'll be danged. All right. Jacqui Jeras, we appreciate that info. And we got Bob -- Bob Kacmarcik now, we're going to get more on this story with the sheriff's department there in Racine County. Again, Bob Kacmarcik.

Sir we appreciate you giving us some time. Can you tell us, are you looking for somebody in the water?

VOICE OF SGT. BOB KACMARCIK, RACINE COUNTY SHERIFF'S DEPT.: Well, we are, sir. When the backhoe went in, the driver was trapped inside.

HOLMES: Was trapped inside? Do you know if that -- that driver's been able to find a bubble and is still alive and getting air or what do you know?

KACMARCIK: Well, that's what we're very hopeful of. Either that -- there was some air trapped inside the cab, or that if there wasn't, we've had many successful cold water drowning saves in northern Wisconsin.

HOLMES: All right. How long, right now, has this been going on? I guess -- how long has that person been in the water?

KACMARCIK: Initial call came in at 18 minutes after 10:00.

HOLMES: Eighteen after 10:00. So, looking at time here, so it's been a little bit now -- I guess -- do you have -- how do you go about trying to do a rescue like this? Do you have you people in the water or how is this working?

KACMARCIK: Absolutely. We have a very skilled countywide dive rescue team. They train in cold water through the ice dives. They have the proper equipment. They were dispatched immediately also. They were in the water and for some reason couldn't get to the cab. So there's some heavy equipment they're trying to right the backhoe so we can get to the driver.

HOLMES: Have you had any contact at all? Heard anybody yelling, any banging? Been able to make any kind of a -- get a visual at all on this person?

KACMARCIK: Not to my knowledge. Again, I'm not at the scene. Which -- nobody has called the dispatch center and said they have him out yet.

HOLMES: And do we have word, as well sir, with the backhoe -- I was just talking to our Jacqui Jeras about how thick ice needs to be to support the weight of people, of a car, and things like that. But, what was the backhoe doing out here on the ice? Do we know?

KACMARCIK: Well, it's -- quarry runs all year. Naturally there's less work being done in the winter months. But, 40,000 to 50,000 pounds, boy I don't know how thick ice would have to be to support that.

HOLMES: Wow. KACMARCIK: And it's hard to tell. We've have record amounts of snowfall here and it's hard to tell where, you know, the ground is and where it isn't.

HOLMES: And where it isn't. All right.

KACMARCIK: And then it's like you said, there's been some warmer weather where we had rain so we have puddles on the ground that are now frozen.

HOLMES: All right. But again, this -- I guess this isn't necessarily uncommon, if you will, to see big, heavy equipment like this going across ice or -- we don't have any indication that the driver was in the wrong location?

KACMARCIK: Well I would say it is unusual.

HOLMES: OK.

KACMARCIK: And possibly the driver just thought it was one of the little -- from the rain where it was a little puddle that froze. Maybe he didn't know it was 10 to 15 feet deep.

HOLMES: OK. My goodness. Bob Kacmarcik, sir we appreciate you giving us some time with the sheriff's department and best of luck to you and your divers out there. Hopefully this will have a positive ending. Thank you so much.

KACMARCIK: Thank you, sir.

NGUYEN: Goodness, we'll continue to stay on top of that one.

Another story that we're following, she couldn't breathe. She begged for help. But when help finally came, it was not enough. Could an airline passenger's death have been prevented?

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

HOLMES: Well, Oscar shines on some dark characters at the 80th Academy Awards.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DENZEL WASHINGTON, ACTOR: And the Oscar goes to "No Country For Old Men." (INAUDIBLE) Ethan Coen, Joel Coen --

(END VIDEO CLIP)

HOLMES: Betty, you saw the wrong one.

NGUYEN: I saw "There Will Be Blood."

HOLMES: OK. "There Will Be Blood." No.

NGUYEN: It it was pretty good, though.

HOLMES: That's not what you said, Betty.

NGUYEN: I said a terrific performance.

HOLMES: I'm kidding.

Well, the quirky drama that we're talking about here, at least, "No Country For Old Men," about a drug deal gone wrong, won best picture and also got three Oscars for the brothers, Joel and Ethan Coen, for writing, producing as well as directing.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

HELEN MIRREN, ACTRESS: And the Oscar goes to Daniel Day-Lewis in,"There Will Be Blood."

(END VIDEO CLIP)

NGYUEN: I told you it was a terrific performance.

HOLMES: You saw that performance. OK. Daniel Day-Lewis, yes, picked up the golden statuette for his performance as an insanely driven oil man.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

FOREST WHITAKER, ACTOR: And the Oscar goes to Marion Cotillard.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

HOLMES: French actress, Marion Cotillard.

NGUYEN: Very nice.

HOLMES: Thank you. I was working on that since about 10:00 this morning. Proved this year's awards were truly a foreign affair. She won for performance as French singer, Edith Piaf.

NGUYEN: Well, an airline passenger dies begging for help. Her cousin witnesses her last moments.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: To my darling, please, don't let me die. Go ask some oxygen for me, please, baby, I love you. I love you baby, I love you. Don't let me die. I can't breathe. I can't breathe. I can't breathe. Please, please.

And I started yelling in the plane, somebody help me.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

NGUYEN: That is so hard to hear. So, what went wrong? Well, you will hear from the family and the airline.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK) NGUYEN: A woman dies on a flight begging for help, while family members watch. Now, one of them blames a flight crew and their equipment, or lack of equipment. American Airlines is investigating the last moments of Carine Desir, who died on a Haiti to New York flight after complaining of breathing problems on Friday. Desir's cousin says the crew first refused to give her oxygen, then tried to use tanks that were empty.

The airline says oxygen was administered and crew and passengers tried to save the lady. By now, you're thinking, what if this happens to me? Well, let's get some answers from CNN medical correspondent, Elizabeth Cohen.

It's just a frightening scenario to think that you need help and maybe it's not available to you.

ELIZABETH COHEN, CNN MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: Right. We don't know exactly what happened on that American Airlines flight. It's going to a whole investigation.

NGUYEN: Kind of a he said, she said right now.

COHEN: Exactly, and you can be sure they're going to interview passengers, especially the two doctors and the two nurses, who were on that who helped out. But, let's talk about what flights are equipped with, so you get a feeling for what's on there when you get on board. First of all, they are equipped with automated external defibrillators.

That's get your heart going if it stops. They're easy to use. Also, I.V. kits in case a doctor or nurse needs to start an I.V. And also, several drugs including epinephrine, which is used if someone has a severe allergic reaction, it has other uses too, and nitroglycerin for chest pain.

Now, let's talk about not just what's on the plane, but who's on the plane. The crew's trained to do certain things. They're trained to use defibrillators. They're trained in CPR, and they do these drills -- the FAA requires them to do these drills at least once every two years.

NGUYEN: All right. So, when it comes to the issue of whether the oxygen tanks were full, what do you know about that?

COHEN: We asked them. We called American Airlines and we said, look, Carine Desir's cousin, who was on the plane with her says two tanks were empty, is that true? We wanted to share the response we got from American Airlines with you.

What an American Airlines spokeswoman said was, I cannot confirm that, but that, meaning tanks without oxygen, would not be typical. And she went on to say that the folks on the plane did everything they could, the American Airlines staff did everything they could to help this woman.

NGUYEN: Yes, one, do they have oxygen in them? And, two, if they did or didn't, how often are those checked to make sure? That's another question too. When you have medical problems or even for those of you who don't you just never know what's going to happen on a plane, are there certain things to check for just to make sure there is safety in the skies?

COHEN: Yes. Absolutely. There are certain things that you can do to increase the chance that things are going to go well and not go badly, especially if you have a health problem. For example, you want to carry your medicines on with you, and in addition bring a list of medications that you're taking.

That's the first thing that a doctor or nurse on board is going to want to know. If it's written out, it's easier. Notify the flight attendants if you have some severe health problem, that's always a wise thing to do to put them on notice there. Also bring a physician's letter.

If indeed, this cousin had to request several times for oxygen, if he had a physician's letter he could wave in front of the flight attendants that might have helped. Also, check regulations. You -- bring on oxygen if you need it, but you have to check with regulations first. There's a procedure.

NGUYEN: To get through. Yes. All right. Elizabeth Cohen, thank you.

HOLMES: Well, tiny, Portal, Georgia. It turned out to be the doorway to riches for one lucky couple. We'll take you to the tiny town with the huge winners.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

HOLMES: Well, it's time for us now to check out what people are clicking on at CNN.com. Some of our most viewed video today. Up here first, this is not the right video that goes along with this story. Forget what's there. I need to tell you first about story -- the one about the Lottery winners out of Georgia. A couple who hit it big.

Web site visitors can't seem to get enough of Robert and Tonya Harris, they hit the Mega Millions jackpot over the weekend. They hit it for $164 million. Well, Tonya is looking for a Mercedes these days. Also getting attention, the story of Oxnard, California, a teenage who told classmates he was gay. Well, he was shot and killed. One of his classmates now charged.

Also, Clinton slamming Obama in Providence, talking about health care, experience, and a magic wand? You need to hear that one for yourself. You can link to all of our top 10 lists from the front page of CNN.com.

NGUYEN: Speaking of heated words on the campaign trial, as Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama battle it out for the Democratic nomination, we are going to collect in with our senior political analyst, Bill Schneider.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK) TO ORDER A VIDEO OF THIS TRANSCRIPT, PLEASE CALL 800-CNN-NEWS OR USE OUR SECURE ONLINE ORDER FORM LOCATED AT www.voxantshop.com

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