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Woman Arrested in Reno Hotel Fire; John Kerry Comments Have Political Repercussions; October Deadly Month for U.S. Troops; Wisconsin House Race in Dead Heat; Harold Ford Hopes to Make Senate History; Possible Breakthrough in SIDS
Aired November 01, 2006 - 13:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
KYRA PHILLIPS, CO-HOST: Hello, everyone. I'm Kyra Phillips, live at the CNN world headquarters in Atlanta.
DON LEMON, CO-HOST: And I'm Don Lemon.
Do investigators have their man? A person of interest in the California wildfire that's killed five firefighters. We'll have a live report just ahead.
PHILLIPS: Ghosts in the night. U.S. troops search for insurgents under the cover of darkness. CNN's Arwa Damon on the mission.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And now, here is the star of "The Price is Right", Bob Barker!
(END VIDEO CLIP)
LEMON: Americans have been watching him for half a century. Legendary TV host Bob Barker announces his next act at 82 years young.
You're live in the CNN NEWSROOM.
PHILLIPS: It's the top of the hour. Let's get straight to breaking news. Fredricka Whitfield working details on the developing story -- Fred.
FREDRICKA WHITFIELD, CNN ANCHOR: Kyra, an arrest has taken place involving that deadly hotel fire in Reno, Nevada. A 47-year-old woman is accused of setting the mattress in her room in this hotel on fire, and the fire then quickly spread. In the end, six people were killed. Many others injured.
It's unclear exactly why this woman is suspected of setting the fire. This building is on the National Register, built back in 1922. It also served as a place of residence, so it was both a hotel and a place of residence for so many people.
About 60 to 80 people were in the hotel at the time of this fire late Tuesday night. Many people, as you see from these photographs, were rescued. But unfortunately, six people did perish. Many others injured.
We're continuing to rely on our affiliates in California and in Nevada for more updates and more pictures to share with you.
PHILLIPS: Fred, we'll follow it. Thanks so much.
LEMON: Critical words, canceled appearances and calls for an apology. That's just the reaction from Democrats. Senator John Kerry's self-described botched joke about President Bush has taken on a life of its own.
Now Democratic candidates are distancing themselves from Kerry, and Republicans, sensing political advantage, are thrilled to exploit the miscue.
Let's bring in our White House correspondent, Ed Henry, for reaction -- Ed.
ED HENRY, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Good afternoon, Don.
And as you can imagine, the White House is delighted that Democrats are bashing John Kerry. A few moments ago, White House spokesman Tony Snow, at his daily briefing, kept insisting it's the White House -- they're not the ones that are fanning these fames.
Of course, it was Mr. Snow, though, yesterday who jumped on Kerry, demanded that apology. It was also the president last night at a rally in Georgia who ripped into John Kerry, really pushed this story along.
And as Tony Snow was speaking during this briefing today, the White House put out excerpts of a speech Vice President Cheney will deliver several -- six, seven hours from now in Montana at a political rally, where he will spend several sentences talking about John Kerry, including, quote, "Of course, now Senator Kerry says he was just making a joke, and he botched it up. I guess we didn't get the nuance. He was for the joke before he was against it." Of course, a reference back to the 2004 campaign.
But Tony Snow's point was that it was John Kerry himself who made the original controversial comment. It was John Kerry who had the press conference yesterday to pour more gasoline on this, and it was John Kerry who called into the Don Imus radio show today, adding even more fuel to this fire. And Snow actually tried to say the White House is trying to help the senator here.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TONY SNOW, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: He's coming out and accusing Republicans of dirty tricks. I mean, this is helpful advice. We're trying to help you out. We're throwing you a lifeline, buddy. Just say you're sorry. It's not hard.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HENRY: You can see there Snow trying to keep a straight face, I suppose. The White House is very happy that John Kerry is embroiled in this controversy right now. They feel that, with John Kerry front and center in the final week of this midterm election campaign, it can only help rally conservatives at a time when they need them to turn out to try to keep control of Congress in Republican hands, Don.
LEMON: And Ed, you talked about the White House and Republicans. But leading into it, we said there were canceled appearances along the way from Democratic candidates. How are Democrats reacting to this?
HENRY: Well, I think the fact that Congressman Harold Ford Jr. down in Tennessee, locked in a very tight Senate race, as you know, a conservative Democrat, came out today and said John Kerry should apologize. Remember, he's a former co-chair, I believe, of the Kerry campaign in 2004. That's quite interesting.
We've also had canceled campaign appearances, Bob Casey Jr. in Pennsylvania, for example, leading the Republican incumbent, Rick Santorum, canceling a campaign appearance with John Kerry.
It's quite clear that there are a lot of Democrats who also do not want to see John Kerry front and center in this campaign. As I noted, that's something the White House loves. They love the Democrats fighting, and they love having Kerry front and center -- Don.
LEMON: Ed Henry at the White House, thank you for your report, sir.
PHILLIPS: First day of November, not a significant date for the U.S. military mission in Iraq. But the Pentagon counts casualties by the month, and the one that just ended was especially costly.
CNN Pentagon correspondent, Barbara Starr, joins us live with more -- Barbara.
BARBARA STARR, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Kyra, what has become clear is during the month of October, the insurgents were definitely targeting U.S. troops.
STARR (voice-over): In Alabama, hundreds paid their respects to 19-year-old Private 1st Class Stephen Bicknell. Among the mourners, his pregnant 18-year-old widow. He was killed in an IED attack north of Baghdad.
Across America, there are hundreds, if not thousands, of grieving families, friends and neighbors.
Why was last month so deadly? Commanders believe the rise of attacks was tied to the holy month of Ramadan.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Traditionally, this is a time of great celebration. It has instead been a period of increased violence.
STARR: All of it leading to this admission. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The violence is indeed disheartening.
STARR: About twice as many Army troops as Marines died in October. It's the Army that has been in Baghdad on deadly patrols, mainly against Shia death squads and militias.
The Marines are in western Iraq's Al Anbar province, where Sunni insurgents are also carrying out lethal attacks.
How are the troops being killed? In Baghdad, sniper attacks are on the rise. Lieutenant General Peter Chiarelli, the Corps commander, says, "The total numbers are elevated and the effectiveness has been greater."
Troops are also being killed by catastrophic IEDs, roadside bombs that kill three and four troops at a time. Some are filled with chemicals that result in fireballs on impact.
Twenty-year-old Lance Corporal Eric Hertsburg (ph) also died in October in Al Anbar province in October. Still, his mother is unwavering in her support.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The war was going on when he joined. He knew what he was going to get into. I'm so proud to have had him for 20 years, and everybody should go home and hug their kids tonight, because they're lent to us for a very short time.
STARR: And Kyra, an update since we filed that report. We said in there 104 troops died in the month of October. The military has just updated its records. It's really 105, a sad correction for the record we wish we didn't have to make.
PHILLIPS: We talked about October being the deadliest month. Let's talk about the wounded.
STARR: Indeed, the military does also keep very specific statistics on the wounded. The number of U.S. troops wounded in the month of October, Kyra, over 700.
PHILLIPS: We'll continue to follow it. Barbara Starr, thank you.
LEMON: Six days from now, you may be among voters -- voters who will help decide the balance of power in Washington. Republicans are fighting to stay in charge, while Democrats believe they have a chance to take back control of the Congress. Here's a look at the states that some of the key House races are in. Democrats need to gain 15 seats to control the House.
One of the most hotly contested House races in the country pits a veteran state lawmaker against a doctor. CNN's Jonathan Freed join us live from Green Bay, Wisconsin, with a closer look -- Jonathan.
JONATHAN FREED, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Good afternoon, Don. Here in the Wisconsin Eighth, a local poll has got this race down to a dead heat.
FREED (voice-over): Wisconsin's Eighth Congressional District has a diverse landscape, from manufacturing to farming, in the northeast part of the state.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: How are you, sir?
FREED: It's a tight race.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I need all of your help.
FREED: A tossup. And an open seat now in GOP hands. That has political watchers saying the vote here will also be a referendum on the Bush presidency.
The Republican candidate, John Gard...
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You're the guy that we need in Washington.
FREED: ... a 19-year veteran of state politics and Wisconsin House speaker, running for federal office for the first time.
The Democrat, Steve Kagen, a local allergy doctor...
STEVE KAGEN (D), WISCONSIN CONGRESSIONAL CANDIDATE: Showing that she did have antibodies in her serum and in her skin...
FREED: ... who's put more than $2 million of his own money into the race.
The seat is targeted by both the Republican and Democratic national committees because it could help tip the balance of power in Congress.
(on camera) How would you describe the tone of this race so far?
JOHN GARD (R), WISCONSIN CONGRESSIONAL CANDIDATE: You know, it's been -- it's been highly spirited. But, you know, politics is not a spectator sport. It's a -- you want to evoke a certain amount of passion.
FREED (voice-over): Indeed, this usually political reserved district is now being bombarded with attack ads from both sides, Kagen going after Gard's record.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: He voted to raise his own pay and raise your taxes. Now he denies it.
FREED: The GOP trying to label the Democrat Dr. Millionaire.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Here's millionaire Steve Kagen's tax plan: higher taxes for married couples, higher taxes on families with children.
FREED (on camera): How do you feel they've been trying to define you and how have you been dealing with that?
KAGEN: Well, I would say it this way, that he is definitely an insider. He's a career and professional politician.
FREED (voice-over): regardless of how they try to define each other, Green Bay political scientist Michael Kraft says the candidates have already clearly defined themselves on issues like immigration reform and the Iraq war.
PROF. MICHAEL KRAFT, UNIVERSITY OF WISCONSIN-GREEN BAY: The conservative Republican is very strongly pro-Bush. The liberal Democrat is not. And in that sense, you could read into the election results that the winner is -- reflects public sentiment towards Bush or against Bush.
FREED: Now, voter turnout here in Wisconsin during midterm elections tends to be a little bit higher, and some say significantly higher than in other parts of the country. And the political watchers here are saying that is only going to add fuel and excitement to this already close race -- Don.
LEMON: Yes, I bet it will. Jonathan, there's a new poll out. What does that poll show?
FREED: New poll is from St. Norbert College and it is 43/43, split evenly between the two candidates, with 10 percent undecided.
So you mix that in together with an expected high turnout, a lot of emotion. A lot of these very -- let's call them spirited ads that are flying around here. A lot of people wondering exactly how this is going to play out less than a week from today.
LEMON: Safe to call that one, Jonathan, a dead heat, right?
LEMON: Thank you, sir.
PHILLIPS: Keep your eye on the political eight-ball. There are eight key states where U.S. Senate seats could go either way, depending on voter turnout. New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Ohio, Virginia, Tennessee, Missouri, and Montana are all considered in play. Democrats only hold one of those seats, New Jersey. Now to gain the upper hand in the upper house, they need to pick up six more.
In Tennessee, nothing less than political history hangs on Tuesday's vote. If Democrat Harold Ford beats Republican Bob Corker, he'd become the first African-American senator ever popularly elected from the south. Now to boost Ford's chances, the Democrats deployed their biggest gun, former president, Bill Clinton, to a Memphis rally with Ford today. The Tennessee seat is currently held by Republican Majority Leader Bill Frist, who did not see re-election.
Now, the tight Senate race in Tennessee may come down to crossover votes. With Congressman Harold Ford now hoping that he can convince enough people that he's not just another Democrat. We get the story from CNN chief national correspondent John King.
JOHN KING, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): History is Harold Ford's destination. Rural west Tennessee, one of the places that will decide if he makes it there.
Victory would make Ford the first African-American senator from the south since Reconstruction. No easy task in a state where blacks will make up, at best, 15 percent of the vote and where white voters have turned increasingly Republican in recent years.
HAROLD FORD JR. (D), TENNESSEE SENATORIAL CANDIDATE: I've got great faith in the voters in Tennessee that they're going to go vote for the person they believe can best represent them. And I believe we're going to win this race.
KING: The 36-year-old congressman is a tireless and charismatic campaigner, but a new CNN poll shows him trailing former Chattanooga man Bob Corker heading into the final week.
Corker led 52 percent to 44 percent among likely voters in the Opinion Research Corporation survey. An edge anchored by a big lead among white voters and among those who identify themselves as conservatives.
BOB CORKER (R), TENNESSEE SENATORIAL CANDIDATE: All of us know the strength that comes from prayer. It's at least 10 or 12 times a day that, on this campaign trail, that I pray to hopefully carry myself in a manner that will make people in this -- at this state proud.
KING: Both candidates support a state ballot initiative that would outlaw same-sex marriage and, knowing question one will motivate social conservatives to vote, Ford takes every opportunity to make clear he's no liberal.
FORD: I've voted for parental notification. I'm against partial birth abortion.
KING: The most bruising attacks have been delivered in TV ads, including one now infamous Republican spot Ford aides called a smear to scare white voters.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I met Harold at the "Playboy" party.
KING: The first lady was here one week out, but the president won't be back. Corker among the many Republicans who think they need some distance from the White House on Iraq, yet worried stepping too far away could alienate conservatives still loyal to the president.
CORKER: Maybe it's time for someone else to lead that effort.
KING: No more saying it's up to the president who serves as defense secretary. As the bloodiest month in Iraq this year comes to a close, Corker and many other Republicans are more critical and more open in pushing for change.
CORKER: Maybe it's time to look at who leads that. I never felt in the first place that we went to Iraq with enough troops on the ground.
KING: Congressman Ford says it won't sell.
FORD: You just can't trust him. One day he's for Rumsfeld staying. The next day when the polls say it's not popular, he's against that. We've had that kind of leadership in Washington now for six years.
KING: All Democrats are selling change this year, but Ford is asking for more than most: to keep his base and to dip into the other guy's, asking for Tennessee to put him in the Senate and the history books. And ignoring polls or anything else that suggests he won't get there.
John King, CNN, Chattanooga, Tennessee.
PHILLIPS: John King, of course, part of the best political team on television. Join us next Tuesday, election day, for the races, the results, and the ramifications.
LEMON: CNN election primetime begins at 7 Eastern. Wolf Blitzer, Anderson Cooper, Paula Zahn and Lou Dobbs lead the best political team on television as your votes are counted.
And for our coverage -- and as our coverage continues with special edition of "LARRY KING LIVE" at midnight, hear from winners and losers across the country, plus expert analysis, only on CNN, America's campaign headquarters.
Let's go straight to the newsroom now for some breaking news. Fredricka Whitfield, what's happening?
WHITFIELD: Well, Don, we're getting more pictures in from that tragic fire last night in Reno, Nevada. A fire of a historic building which led to the killing of six people in this fire.
A 47-year-old woman by the name of Valerie Moore who was staying at this hotel/residence is accused of setting fire to her mattress in her room. The fire got out of control. The roof collapsed.
There were even eyewitness accounts of people jumping from the windows to try to save their own lives. About 60 to 80 people were in this historic building. It's called the Mizpah Hotel, which also serves as a residence -- place of residence for many people there in Reno, Nevada.
About 60 to 80 people were in the hotel at the time. Many people managed to escape unharmed, but many others did get injured. And as I mentioned, six people were killed. So Valerie Morris facing not just arson charges but also murder charges.
These pictures and still photo images coming from various affiliates -- affiliates from California to Nevada, as well as still photographers in the area, as well -- Don.
LEMON: All right. Fredricka Whitfield, keep us updated on that. Thank you. Very interesting pictures.
PHILLIPS: On patrol now with the U.S. Army in Iraq, outside the Green Zone and in pitch of darkness.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ARWA DAMON, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Another unit spotted a man ducking into the fields just as the men walked by. They've now gone back to check it out.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
PHILLIPS: That's our Arwa Damon. There's a reason she's whispering, and it's not for dramatic effect. Her report coming up.
LEMON: And parents, it's a deadly risk for helpless infants. Now there's new evidence about what may cause Sudden Infant Death Syndrome. Will the discovery lead to a way to find out which babies are at risk? That's ahead in the CNN NEWSROOM.
PHILLIPS: A new clue to the mystery that robs helpless babies of life as they sleep. Researchers think that they've found an important link in what may trigger Sudden Infant Death Syndrome, SIDS, in some children.
Our senior medical correspondent, Dr. Sanjay Gupta, explains what they've uncovered.
DR. SANJAY GUPTA, CNN CORRESPONDENT: It is sudden and unexplainable. It often happens in very healthy babies, as well. It is SIDS. And it is the leading cause of death in newborns. Oftentimes very tragic, those deaths occurring in babies younger than six months. And for most of the time, people have no idea what actually causes SIDS.
Scientists possibly have a mechanism here. Very preliminarily. But looking at some data specifically at the lowest part of the brain stem called the medulla, looking at serotonin activity in that area.
Take a look at these images here. You see the control case on the right. All that green activity there shows serotonin pathways actually lighting up. On the left, in a baby who died of SIDS, very little activity.
Now what is this part of the brain responsible for? Your ability to regulate your blood pressure, your heart rate and your breathing. So the idea is that it's possible that, in someone who has very little activity here, they're not able to wake up, if they were sleeping, and control the amount of oxygen, for example, getting to their brain. Or you know, in some situation where they carbon dioxide levels rise, to be able to start breathing more quickly.
It is unclear whether this is the actual mechanism, but this does appear to be pretty convincing evidence, at least for now.
It does not mean that there is any sort of test. That is the question a lot of people are asking: can you somehow test for it? The answer is not yet. Obviously, a lot of researchers are working on this, trying to figure out if there is a way, at the time of birth, to figure out if a baby is more at risk for SIDS.
In the meantime, there are very good guidelines to try and prevent cases of SIDS. Keep these in mind. Place your baby on the back to sleep. That's an important one. Use a firm surface. Also, don't use any soft bedding. And never smoke around your child.
Following those guidelines has decreased the incidents of SIDS significantly since they were implemented. But again, some interesting scientific developments in the world of SIDS. We'll keep you posted.
Back to you.
LEMON: All right, Sanjay.
A salmonella outbreak ends in mystery. Federal health detectives say they've been unable to pinpoint the source of the outbreak that sickened dozens of people in 19 states. But now it appears to be over. Salmonella likely came from tomatoes or other fresh produce. But there's little evidence to suggest the risk is still out there.
PHILLIPS: Still ahead, the World Wide Web gets a little wider. Find out how many sites now crowd the Net. That's straight ahead many from the CNN NEWSROOM.
LEMON: Cigarette makers are getting a break from a federal appeals court, at least for now.
Cheryl Casone joins us now from the New York Stock Exchange with the latest big tobacco ruling. Hi, Cheryl.
CHERYL CASONE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, hey there, Don.
For now, absolutely true. A federal appeals court in Washington has temporarily blocked a landmark ruling that would have forced tobacco companies to stop selling light and low-tar cigarettes. We talked a lot about this recently.
And the judgment also allow the companies to continue advertising campaigns for the cigarettes, at least until their appeals are reviewed.
Remember, back in August, a lower court found the tobacco industry guilty on racketeering charges. The judge said the companies conspired for decades to mislead the public about the health hazards of smoking, leading people to falsely believe that light cigarettes are not as bad as regular cigarettes.
The tobacco industry has argued that the ruling could cost it millions of dollars and lead to a lot of their customers -- Don.
LEMON: So Cheryl let's talk time lines. How long before that it will take to get a final ruling on this case?
CASONE: Well, the appeals court still has to consider oral and written arguments by the attorneys in the case. And no date has been set for those, actually. So it could be maybe a year or more before the appeals court's opinion is actually released.
As for blocking the original ruling, it was a mixed decision. But at least for now we're going to continue to see those light, ultralight, low tar and mild cigarettes on those store shelves for consumers.
The big tobacco companies aren't reacting much to the rulings.
PHILLIPS: Let's get back to the breaking news desk. Fredricka Whitfield working more details on that Reno fire -- Fred.
FREDRICKA WHITFIELD, CNN ANCHOR: Well, Kyra, it was easy for investigators to figure out exactly where the fire started, here in this Mitzpah (ph) Hotel in Reno, Nevada. They were able to discover that the fire was ignited by someone intentionally setting fire to a mattress in one of the rooms in this hotel, which also serves as a place of residence for up to 80 people. After making that discovery, they then made an arrest of the person who was staying in that hotel room. Forty-seven-year-old Valerie Moore is now charged with not just arson, but also murder. Six people died in that fire. Many others were injured. In fact, witnesses saw that many of their residents of that hotel were actually leaping from the windows, this three-story hotel building, to try to find safety.
In the end, six people died. Many others injured. And now they have an arrest of one woman, that 47-year-old woman, whose picture you just saw moments ago, Valerie Moore, facing charges of arson, as well as murder.
Don and Kyra?
PHILLIPS: Thanks, Fred.
LEMON: We've got another possible arson case. This one in California. Investigators eye an arson suspect in a murder case. Raymond Lee Oyler was arrested yesterday on charges of setting two wildfires over the summer. He's being held on $25,000 bail and is being called a person of interest in the deadly wildfire set just last week. The so-called Esperanza Fire burned more than 40,000 acres and 34 homes before firefighters managed to bring it under control late Monday. Early estimates put the damage at just under $10 million. And of course that doesn't even begin to take into account the lives lost. These four firefighters were killed battling the flames on Thursday. The fifth member of that crew, Pablo Cerda, died late last night. He had been horribly burned, over 90 percent of his body. Today, Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger ordered flags at the capital and at the State Forestry Department lowered to half-staff in Cerda's memory.
PHILLIPS: News from Iraq now that two U.S. troops died there yesterday. Raises October's American fatalities in Iraq to 105, making worse the already deadliest month so far this year. Iraq is a place where the danger factor go up, way up, when the sun goes down.
CNN's Arwa Damon reports.
ARWA DAMON, CNN CORRESPONDENT, CNN NEWSROOM (voice over): This is what the pitch black night looks like to U.S. soldiers. The naked eye can't see more than a few feet, but for the troops with night vision, the cover of darkness is their greatest advantage.
The platoon's mission to catch insurgents as they bury roadside bombs. To avoid detection, no one is allowed to speak. Crucial radio calls are barely audible whispers.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: 2-1, 2-1, this is 2-6.
DAMON: And every few 100 feet the soldiers stop, crouch, and scan the horizon.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The check is fires, to the north, correction, to the south. Scan for individuals to the south, go.
DAMON (on camera, whispering): As the platoon was passing through, another unit spotted a man ducking into the fields just as the men walked by. They've now gone back, to check it out.
(Voice over): They find nothing. And continue to move toward their stakeout point. Taking the long route through fields and farmlands to make sure the insurgents aren't on their trail. It takes almost an hour for them to reach their hiding spot, less than half a mile away from where they started. Tonight, it's the top of a berm that provides an over watch of one of the main roads leading to their base. The troops take cover in the dirt and prickly brush; eyes on the road looking for any sign of movement.
At the beginning of the month, they were hit on these roads a number of times. No casualties. The U.S. military says it is operations like these that have rendered roadside bombs in this area 70 percent ineffective. Meaning they are found, or they go off causing no damage. They wait and watch for hours.
But on this night, all they hear is the eerie howling of dogs. It's tedious work. Often the rewards are elusive. But it's the nature of the fight in this battle zone.
Arwa Damon, CNN, Sadra Yusaffia (ph), Iraq.
LEMON: The orders have come down, and it's back to Iraq for the 3rd Infantry Division. This will be the third tour of duty for these soldiers. This unit, based in Fort Stewart, Georgia, led the initial attack on Iraq in 2003. It's more than 20,000 soldiers strong. The commander says the first 4,500 troops head back to Iraq in January.
PHILLIPS: Well, a prankster tries to punk Portland, Maine, but ends up in the back seed of a squad car. Cancel that call for backup, we're bringing it into the NEWSROOM, copy.
LEMON: That was pretty good, Kyra. The World Wide Web gets a little wider -- a lot wider. Find out how many states -- or sites, I should say, now crowd the Net. That's ahead in the CNN NEWSROOM.
PHILLIPS: You remember that ad just a while back, where the guy reaches the end of the Internet? Comical, but pretty near impossible, especially now that the number of websites has set a huge new benchmark.
Daniel Sieberg logs on for a look.
DANIEL SIEBERG, CNN TECHNOLOGY CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): How many Web sites do you visit on an average day? Is it five, 10, 25 or more? It seems there's an endless stream all little, square portals, all vying for our attention. Now the number of pitstops on the information superhighway has apparently reached a worldwide high point.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: There are now 100 million Web sites with domain names and content on them. More than a quarter of those 100 million sites, 27 million, to be exact, have been created in the first 11 months of 2006. SIEBERG: Miller attributes this explosive growth to ease of use, lower cost and the blog generation.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You don't have to be a technologist to be able to create a Web site.
SIEBERG: When Web tracking firm Netcraft began counting the number of registered domains in 1995, they started at 18,000. So how did we get to 100 million? Well, let's switch in reverse for just a minute. Think the first Web page was a search engine, the library of Congress, a newspaper, porn, perhaps?
REBECCA GRINTER, GEORGE TECH COLLEGE OF COMPUTING: When the Web was started it was started as a mechanism for sharing high-energy particle physics data.
SIEBERG: Weren't expected that, were you? It was the brainchild of Tim Berners-Lee, credited as the inventor of the Web back in the early 1990s. Not long afterwards, this research tool shifted to the science of making money.
GRINTER: Once it made that transition, once people started seeing all of these technologies not just being something that you could use for work, but something you could use for recreational purposes, then all sorts of other things started to change.
SIEBERG: Business aside, why the need for us to contribute more noise on a personal level?
GRINTER: I suspect there are a few people that create content quite creatively, but that there's a whole other class of people that create content in response to the fact that someone else has created content.
SIEBERG: But within those groups, there's clearly a sense of the digital me, even if no one is watching or reading. For others, it's a status symbol. Some parents, celebrity and otherwise, are already assigning their newborns a URL.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The web address is being seen as an identifier and tremendously useful both in your personal life and if you're inclined to start a business.
SIEBERG (on camera): While that 100 million number may seem a little staggering, for the most part, all of that growth is happening in the background. As the Web continues to grow, we follow, or is it the other way around?
GRINTER: That sort of how people engage with the Web is that they actually don't feel overwhelmed by it because the web is starting to be worked into our everyday lives.
SIEBERG (voice-over): In fact, the trick can be untangling yourself from its grasp.
(END VIDEOTAPE) PHILLIPS: Well, we've Daniel Sieberg in our grasp. For more on these...
SIEBERG: I paused from surfing the Web just to come over here.
PHILLIPS: Because that's all he does, folks.
SIEBERG: That's all I do, that's it.
PHILLIPS: Which countries have the most?
SIEBERG: Interestingly the countries that have the most are not the countries that are growing the fastest at this point, but we can tell you which countries have got the most number of websites, at least according to Netcraft. That would start as, perhaps no surprise, the United States with more than half of those domains they have been talking about. Germany in second. They're also experiencing a lot of growth according to Netcraft. That's followed by United Kingdom, Canada, and France. I did some quick math earlier and I think that adds up to about 77 or 79 million. So the majority of that 100 million number, certainly from those countries. But, the growth numbers are actually happening in parts of Asia. They talked about China and South Korea as a couple of countries that are experiencing a lot of growth in terms websites.
PHILLIPS: So, what's driving the increase in the number of websites?
SIEBERG: Well, it's been driven by a number of things. First of all, the fact that it's so easy for people to create a website these days. It doesn't take alot of programming experience or anything like that. It's also free. And the fact that a website really has become a necessary part of any business and it's just so common these days for somebody to have a website. It's not -- there's no stigma attached to it anymore. It's not nearly as intimidating as it was for people in the beginning to set up a website. Back when one photo on the website -- that might have counted as visual.
PHILLIPS: That was like a big deal.
SIEBERG: Yeah, nowadays, no way. Now it's all about video.
PHILLIPS: No matter what you do -- so who's making all these websites?
SIEBERG: You know, it varies. I think they looked at a wide demographic of people. Certainly the blogger generation is a younger crowd. The people are getting involved in places like myspace. There are places you can go to create a blog just about anywhere these days. And the software, not only easy to use, but it's -- in alot of cases, it's free. So, so again, just about anybody can do it. Maybe this number's not all that surprising to people, but the fact it's happened so quickly in the last year or so I think surprises a lot of people.
PHILLIPS: Do you have yours?
SIEBERG: I do not have a personal web page set up as such. But --
SIEBERG: Don, you've got one?
LEMON: I bought my name and it's just a page. There's nothing on it, so don't even go there.
SIEBERG: Alot of people do there -- it's under construction.
LEMON: I don't want to -- I want to own my own name.
SIEBERG: So no one else can get it too, which is important.
PHILLIPS: That can be dangerous -- that's true because alot people could take your name and...
SIEBERG: Cybersquaters is what they're called. That happens.
PHILLIPS: Part two to your segment.
PHILLIPS: Thanks Daniel.
LEMON. Thanks. Well, it's not all business at the White House press briefings, especially -- if I can say that again -- press briefings, especially on Halloween. That story, straight ahead. Look, that's eyeballs. Find out what that's all about in the CNN NEWSROOM.
PHILLIPS: A massive Halloween street party takes a frightening turn. San Francisco police say that gunfire broke out as they tried to enforce a curfew and at least ten people were shot. Thousands had packed the streets for the annual party in the city's Castro district. Police say the shooting followed a fight between two groups. Several bystanders were hit and one victim is in critical condition. No arrests so far, but two people have been detained for questioning.
LEMON: For a few brief moments, brief shining moments, cops in Portland, Maine, might have thought they netted the most wanted man in the world. It wasn't really Osama bin Laden waving an assault rifle on the highway overpass. Just a guy wearing a bin Laden costume and waving a fake AK-47. Political activist and attorney Tom Conley was arrested on charges of criminal threatening.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TOM CONNOLLY, ATTORNEY: I'm sorry for anyone that's been upset by this. I certainly didn't mean that. It is Halloween. There should be a sense of free speech.
(END VIDEO CLIP) LEMON: Connelly, by the way, is a man who spilled the beans on George Bush's 1970s drunken driving arrest before -- days before, the 2000 election.
MARCIANO: Check out these waves yesterday. This was off Lake Superior, waves crashing into the U.P. of Michigan there, 10, 15 footers at time. That looks like an angry Atlantic or Pacific Ocean. These Great Lakes are -- well, just that: great. And when you get winds blowing 30, 40 and 50 miles an hour, you can see the waves build up and crash into this particular storm wall. Winds today not quite as bad.
LEMON: Let's talk about the White House Press corps. You think they're, like, all about news? Well, they have a sense of humor.
CNN's Jeanne Moos was keeping an eye on a Halloween prank that took center stage at Tony Snow's Tuesday briefing.
JEANNE MOOS, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Better dust off the White House podium in time for the briefing.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Two-minute warning for the briefing. Two- minute warning for the briefing.
MOOS: Apparently, the guy dusting missed a few rather large specks. Moments later, Spokesman Tony Snow was in the middle of an answer about North Korea when something caught his eye.
TONY SNOW, WHITE HOUSE SPOKESMAN: But it would not have been possible for the additional unity and determination -- I just saw these.
MOOS: All eyes on the podium, and we do mean, all eyes.
SNOW: I'm sorry, I just saw these. These are really -- here I am talking about war and peace and I'm looking at these things.
MOOS: It was that wacky White House Press Corps' idea of a Halloween joke. At least no one was harmed in the commission of this prank, unlike the eye-plucking scene from "Kill Bill II."
But who planted the mystery White House eyeballs? Was it the mascaraed NBC correspondent, or the CNN correspondent? Or was Helen Thomas to blame? Sure looked like her eyeballs were bothering her.
A clue perhaps? There was a matching eyeball attached to one of the cameras in the back. It turns out someone was handing out eyeballs, edible eyeballs.
SNOW: Are they really? MOOS: Finger-lickin' good eyeballs, bought in bulk from Costco.
ED HENRY, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Not bad.
MOOS: But CNN's Ed Henry didn't plant the mystery eyeballs. The real culprit, a TV crew member, was caught on tape retrieving them from the podium after the briefing. We've concealed his identity to protect the guilty. After all, the press is supposed to keep an eye on the White House -- an eye or two.
SNOW: OK, I'll eat this eyeball.
MOOS: Jeanne moos, CNN, New York.
LEMON: Close-up on those eyes. Just a little scary. Catch more of Jeanne Moos's unique take on the news in "THE SITUATION ROOM." Join Wolf Blitzer every afternoon at 4:00 p.m. Eastern and for the live, prime-time edition at 7:00 p.m. Eastern.
PHILLIPS: Well, how many of us can walk past a mirror without taking a peek? Not Happy, the pimping, you know, pachyderm at the Bronx Zoo. Her handlers say that she actually recognizes herself in the mirror and has been doing so for the past two years.
Researchers say until now such complex behavior has been observed only in humans, chimpanzees and some dolphins. As for the other elephants in the zoo, well, they seem a little more interested in what's going on on the other side the wall.
LEMON: Hey, why not?
In the next hour of the CNN NEWSROOM, he's made Oprah's wish list and the cover of "Time" magazine. But what does Michelle Obama have to say about her husband, Barack, running for president maybe? We go straight to the source next in the NEWSROOM.
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