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Polygamist Leader Warren Jeffs Appears in Court; Lebanese Cabinet Minister Assassinated; Interview With Mia Farrow; American Models Not On Top Car Safety Lists

Aired November 21, 2006 - 15:00   ET


KYRA PHILLIPS, CNN ANCHOR: Hello, everyone. I'm Kyra Phillips at the CNN World Headquarters in Atlanta.

President Bush condemns the assassination of a Lebanese Cabinet minister, and calls for the world to support Lebanon's struggling democracy.

PHILLIPS: Four women wound face down -- found face down, rather, in the mud -- a live report from Atlantic City, New Jersey, where police are investigating the details.

LEMON: And the FAA talks turkey about holiday travel. Where are the likely logjams this weekend?

All of that straight ahead, right here in the CNN NEWSROOM.

Sharpshooters don't surround courthouses for rape hearings, but they're out and about in Saint George, Utah, where polygamist sect leader Warren Jeffs facing charges stemming from a marriage he arranged between a 14-year-old girl and her 19-year-old cousin.

Gary Tuchman joins us now live with the latest -- Gary.


Right now, it's the lunch break in this preliminary hearing -- Warren Jeffs, who was on the FBI 10 most wanted list for months, inside this courthouse behind me, charged with being an accomplice to rape, charged with setting up marriages between girls who were under the age 18 and older men.

And the star witness on the stand this morning, and continuing this afternoon, a woman who is now 19, but who was 14 when she says she was forced to be married by Warren Jeffs to her first cousin, a marriage she says she did not want to have.

Warren Jeffs faces the possibility of life in prison, if he's ultimately found guilty of being an accomplice to rape. An accomplice to rape means he didn't rape this woman, according to prosecutors, that he helped arrange a marriage in which she had sex at the age of 14 to a man she was forced to marry.

This is a preliminary hearing. It's basically a mini-trial. The purpose of the preliminary hearing is for the judge to decide if there is probable cause to bound this case over to trial. That's what the judge will decide this afternoon. It's expected to be a one-day hearing, but very emotional testimony inside the court.

Warren Jeffs came inside the courtroom wearing a suit and tie. He had a smile on his face for most of the morning, until this 19- year-old woman, who, as we said, was 14 when she got married, took the stand. His smile then disappeared.

This woman says she was forced by Warren Jeffs to marry her first cousin, said she would not have salvation if she did not marry him. Nevertheless, she did not want to marry this man. She wouldn't kiss him at their own wedding.

She says that, the entire time at the wedding -- this is a quote -- "The entire time I was there, I was crying. I was so scared. I wanted to die."

We are not being permitted to show this young lady on camera to you watching this right now. We can't say her name. We also can't show two of her sisters who also testified earlier in the day. However, we want to give you an idea of what one of the sisters had to say about her 14-year-old sister being forced to be married.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I was in shock. She was 14, and had just -- my father's family had recently been -- my mother was removed from my father, and moved to southern Utah. And it was only just a few short months later. It was the fall that she was moved to southern Utah.

And, then, by spring, then, she was informed that she was to be married. And it was just shocking and horrific. She was only 14.


TUCHMAN: Something very interesting about this young woman you just saw testifying.

She is no longer, just like her sister, in the FLDS Church, no longer believes in it. But this is really quite fascinating, if you can follow what I'm about to tell you. She used to be married to Warren Jeffs' father, Rulon Jeffs. Rulon Jeffs used to be the head of the church. He was the so-called prophet.

Rulon Jeffs was 82 years old when he married that woman you just saw, when she was 19. So, basically, she was married to Warren Jeffs' father. She was 19. So, when she was 19, she technically one of Warren Jeffs' mothers. And Warren Jeffs, at that time, was about 45 years old. So, she was a mother to Warren Jeffs, to man who was almost 30 years older than she.

That is some of the eccentricities -- of this FLDS Church, which believes in a polygamist lifestyle. It's an offshoot from the Mormon Church, which began in the mid-1800s. The FLDS members mostly concentrated in the twin towns of Colorado City, Arizona, and Hildale, Utah, still believe in polygamist marriage.

So, later this afternoon, this 19-year-old girl, who, once again -- I want to reemphasize -- was 14 when she got married, will continue her testimony. She had said at one point that, when she got married, her new husband wanted to have sexual relations with her. She had no idea what her husband was doing.

As a matter of fact, she said had no idea where babies came from. So, to be blunt about it, when this man started touching her in a personal way, she had no idea what he was doing, told him to stop it. And she knew she was supposed to have babies when she got married, but had no idea how it was supposed to happen. That's how young this girl was when she got married.

The judge will make the decision later today if this case should go to trial.

I hope you followed all that, Kyra. It's very confusing, but also very emotional.

And one thing I want to tell you, Kyra, there are at least 10 followers of the church, some of them related to Warren Jeffs, who are inside the court. This woman, when she took the stand, unfortunately, Kyra, was crying during much of time, was very emotional.

I looked at the 10 people who were in the court. I looked at Warren Jeffs. There were no tears. They were all very stoic.

PHILLIPS: Yes, I followed what you said. It's just hard to understand.

Gary Tuchman, thanks.

LEMON: All right, Gary.

Laughter one minute, screams the next -- a bus fool of high schoolers careens off an overpass. Four young passengers are dead.

CNN's Rusty Dornin and federal investigators on the scene of yesterday's horrifying accident in Huntsville, Alabama.


RUSTY DORNIN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): As investigators piece together this puzzle of just what happened in this accident, it becomes evident that the schoolchildren on that bus had some horrifying moments before it plunged over the edge.

We can show you on the overpass, where investigators believe that the bus, after it was hit, or tried to avoid a car, hit the barrier along the side. They believe it careened 117 feet down that barrier, before it plunged 30 feet over onto the field below.

They now say that the bus driver was either ejected or was able to get out of the bus before it went over the edge. DEBBIE HERSMAN, NATIONAL TRANSPORTATION SAFETY BOARD MEMBER: All we know at this point is that the bus driver was found on the top of the overpass, and was transported to the hospital from there.

We will be trying to document the scene. We looked at some signs up on the overpass of -- of what might have happened to the bus driver. But we need to examine the seating compartment, the seat belt, to see if there was any damage, things like that.

DORNIN: NTSB investigators are hoping to talk to that bus driver some time this afternoon to find out some more details.

They have spoken to the 17-year-old high school boy who was driving the car. They say that he told them something went wrong with the car. Now, investigators say they will hear all of this evidence, but they will figure out on their own what they believe happened in this accident. And it's not likely that the results will be released any time soon.

Meantime, four children remain in critical condition in the hospital. Another 15 are still hospitalized here, as this community attempts to recover from this freak accident.

Rusty Dornin, CNN, Huntsville, Alabama.


PHILLIPS: Well, this time, tomorrow you may be watching Don from an airport gate, maybe a departure lounge sipping a martini, a very crowded airport gate or departure lounge.

The Thanksgiving travel crunch will be on, though Marion Blakey is hoping it will be more smooth than crunchy.

The head of the Federal Aviation Administration joins us now from Herndon, Virginia.

Marion, good to see you.

What kind of things is the FAA doing this year to minimize the chaos?

MARION BLAKEY, FEDERAL AVIATION ADMINISTRATION ADMINISTRATOR: Well, I will tell you, we're watching it very closely from our command city right here in Herndon, which is, of course, the nerve center for the national airspace.

At this point, we think things are looking pretty good. We do not have significant delays around the country, a little bit up in the La Guardia, East Coast area, but nothing really out of the ordinary.

But we're watching a couple of storm systems out in the Oregon Pacific coast area. That could be a little bit dicey.

And, later this week, we are going to keep a careful eye on a storm system that's along the Carolinas, and moving east. It could affect the air flow between New York and the Florida area. So, people flying that way should keep an eye on it.

PHILLIPS: Marion, it's a pretty fascinating command center that you're in there in Herndon. Not a lot of our viewers understand the capabilities that you have.

Explain to our viewers what you're able to track, the monitors behind you. What is actually inside that center?

BLAKEY: Well, we have here the monitors that, right now, are reviewing 7,000-plus flights up there, 7,064 when I just checked.

We are able, therefore, to see if the traffic flow is moving smoothly, where we have bottlenecks. We also are following wind conditions, runway configurations. And we're talking with our customers, if you will, all of the airlines, the business aircraft, general aviation, about what they are experiencing, and working with them collaboratively to make sure that their scheduling is going as smoothly as possible.

We're really trying to avoid the kind of delays that right now cost this country $10 billion a year in delays in the airspace. And Thanksgiving, believe me, is a real challenge to make sure we don't hold people up any more than absolutely necessary.

PHILLIPS: I'm sure the holidays always are.

Marion, Jacqui Jeras, our meteorologist, has a few questions for you.

Jacqui, go ahead.



You mentioned that coastal low that we have been watching here. Some of the models...


JERAS: ... are bringing this right into the Northeastern quarter. And that could be bringing in some heavy rain and also some very strong winds.

What is kind of the worst-case scenario? If this storm gets into the Northeast, what are we going to be expecting here for delays?

JERAS: Well, I will tell you, we are very hopeful that that system won't come in for the busiest air travel day of the year, which is tomorrow, Wednesday.

If it will hold off, as you know, things drop dramatically, in terms of air traffic for Thursday, because, obviously, everybody is home with the turkey, and even Friday. So, if we can watch this closely, and the storm comes in, basically during the Thursday, Friday, a little bit Saturday, we should be OK, because, obviously, things really pick up, in terms of air traffic come Sunday.

But we do have programs where, when we do see that kind of heavy storm system, we're also much more laser-like in targeting which flights actually have to be delayed, because we're following very closely. All those others we can skirt around the storm, we do, and we reroute, so that we're trying to hold up as few people as possible.

JERAS: And which would be more of a hazard? Is it going to be low clouds in that area, or would it be the winds, more of a problem?

BLAKEY: You know, low clouds can be a problem, in terms of the ability to take off and land at various airports.

Winds are a problem, too, in terms of which runways we can use and what kind of configuration we're flying. Winds obviously give us some turbulence. But we certainly don't expect anything that would cause unsafe conditions. It just may hold things up a little bit.

PHILLIPS: Marion Blakey, FAA administrator, thanks for joining us today.

BLAKEY: You're welcome.

LEMON: Assassins strike in Beirut, and a prominent Lebanese leader points a finger at Syria. For the latest on the volatile situation, we're live in Lebanon.

PHILLIPS: Plus: The United Nations centered on Darfur two years ago. Now Mia Farrow is just back from another trip to a region in crisis. She joins us live from the NEWSROOM.


PHILLIPS: Assassination in Lebanon.

We're following a developing story out of Beirut -- a prominent anti-Syrian politician gunned down in the streets.

Let's get straight to our Beirut bureau chief, Brent Sadler, and talk about the impact this assassination will have on the stability in Lebanon -- Brent.

BRENT SADLER, CNN BEIRUT BUREAU CHIEF: Kyra, the immediate impact, as you can see, is really all around me right now.

This is the very center of downtown Beirut, normally pretty busy at this time of night, the center of the Lebanese capital virtually deserted. I can see much heavier security than normal being deployed on streets of the Lebanese capital and around the home of the leader of the parliamentary majority here, Saad Hariri, who, earlier in the day, was holding a news conference, and was given a handwritten note, telling him that Pierre Gemayel, the 34-year-old industry minister, a leading and vocal opponent of Syria within the ruling government coalition here, had been gunned down in an attack just north of Beirut. It was a well-organized, highly professional hit. According to those who saw what happened, a car rammed the minister's vehicle, and a gunman got out, and pumped at least a dozen shots through one of the windows where Gemayel was sitting. And he died in hospital a short time later.

The father of the slain minister, Amin Gemayel himself, a former president here, calling for calm, calling for supporters not to exact revenge for this latest killing of a leading anti-Syrian politician inside this country over the past two years.

Now, Lebanese Prime Minister Fouad Siniora, who is backed by the United States and other Western powers, held a statement -- gave his statement a short time afterwards. This is what he said.


FUAD SINIORA, PRIME MINISTER OF LEBANON (through translator): Do you know, brother, that this is the only language they understand, the language of killing and assassination? They wanted to silence you. And to your beloved parents, and to your wife and children, and to all your friends, and to all the freedom-loving people, I promise you that your blood will not be shed in vain.


SADLER: Kyra, it's 100 days since the end of the Hezbollah- Israel war. During the that conflict, the rival political camps in this country were driven even further apart.

This assassination is certainly going to make security all the more difficult here to maintain. And confidence in stability of this country again has taken a very, very bad hit -- Kyra.

PHILLIPS: Brent Sadler, live from Beirut, Lebanon -- thanks, Brent.

Condolences for Lebanon, criticism for its neighbor, both come from President Bush, who spoke out on Gemayel's assassination just before leaving Hawaii.


GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We support the Siniora government and its democracy. And we support the Lebanese people's desire to live in peace. And we support their efforts to defend their democracy against attempts by Syria, Iran and allies to foment instability and violence in that important country.


PHILLIPS: The president is calling for a full investigation into the killing.

LEMON: Unspeakable atrocities, horrendous suffering -- the killing fields of Darfur are a world removed from the lives of most Americans.

But Mia Farrow, the actress and UNICEF goodwill ambassador, has been to that desperate region three times. She has just returned from the refugee camps of neighboring Chad, and joins me from Washington to share her experiences.

Thank you so much for joining us, Ms. Farrow.


LEMON: I haven't been to Darfur or that part of the region, but I have been to Africa. And it's just amazing, when you go there, and see just the atrocities. It's the only thing to call it.

FARROW: That's right.

And the border between Darfur and its neighbor in eastern Chad, the border region, it -- really, the border doesn't exist. And there is a rampage of murder, mutilations and rape just spreading well into eastern Chad, very difficult to even begin to describe.

Sixty villages were burnt just since November 4, close to the time we got there. Arab militia tribes from both Darfur and in Chad are just raging through the area, burning and destroying human beings.

LEMON: And, Ms. Farrow, you said that -- you have been there three times, I mentioned.


LEMON: But you said, really, this time, the last time you went, really upset you more than any other time. Why is that?

FARROW: Well, I wasn't speaking comparatively.

I would say, on this occasion, I mean, it's the thing we most feared. It was closer to what Darfur was in 2004, people dazed and terrified, taking shelter under trees, people by the thousands. The tiny hospital of six rooms was overflowing out into the courtyard and beyond.

In one of the rooms, side by side, three men lay, with their eyes having been gouged out.

LEMON: Oh, my gosh.

FARROW: Atrocities, seven children thrown into a burning hut, an older woman I spoke to who survived her entire body being burned, again, thrown into a hut.

I could go on...


FARROW: ... but the point is, the international community has to respond to... LEMON: Yes.

FARROW: ... this catastrophe.

And a U.N. peacekeeping force is urgently needed in eastern Chad now, and in Central African Republic. Of course, it's been needed in Darfur for -- we're in the third year of the genocide in Darfur.

LEMON: And, Ms. Farrow, let's take our viewers there and tell them about it.

First, I want on say that you and the executive director of Save Darfur Coalition, you both went there, and you shot some video.

One of them that we're going to see is from a mother. And she describes how the attackers came in, shot her family, and how she had to run away. And, I mean, this is awful to say, but they were cutting off people's hands.

Let's take a listen to this.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE (through translator): After they burned the village and killed the children in the school, they found and chased down seven young boys. Then, they tied them up. And the boys, some of them were wearing wristwatches. So, they chopped off their arms.


LEMON: You say in this that we have -- and this is a quote from you and Mr. Rubenstein -- "We have failed the people of Darfur, and now Chad."

Is it surprising to you that you don't -- we don't hear about this as much as we hear about other things, maybe like, you know, O.J. Simpson or other things that are happening in the news?

FARROW: It's not for me to say why.

It's beyond comprehension that this would be in any way less than a top priority. That's why I went, to bring back -- I had -- it was impossible to mention Darfur without mentioning eastern Chad. And I felt -- coming back, I feel the urgency of trying to convey to you the level of human suffering.

Are we not a family? Do we not have a shared responsibility for all of our brothers and sisters everywhere on Earth? And, when we see a genocide and this level of suffering, we have a moral imperative to act immediately.

LEMON: And people -- you wonder -- adults -- it's hard for adults to cope. But when you see children there -- and I imagine you speak with them probably through an interpreter.

FARROW: That's right. LEMON: What do they say? What are their experiences? What are they feeling?

FARROW: Well, what the mothers said all across eastern Chad was, even -- I spoke to mothers who were unable to feed their children. They were in the ninth day of having had no food, fleeing their villages.

And humanitarians are struggling to find them, and find food supplies for them. And we're talking about many, many thousands of people. And the priority, even above hunger, was protection, because their attackers are all around. And those that have walked miles and miles for days, all the way from Darfur, even as long ago as two years, they said, again, our attackers have come and found us here.

And the level of terror is indescribable.

LEMON: And what of the people who say, you know, people like you -- you were really among the first, and now other celebrities who are sort of going on these humanitarian missions, adopting children, Angelina Jolie, Madonna -- and you really were the first.

Why would someone who you would think has every privilege, and leads sort of a charmed life, would go into this situation, and even adopt a kid or try to help out? Why would you do it?

FARROW: Well, I can't speak for other people, and what they do.

But, you know, I'm telling you what I have seen. And that is really the priority in this very short time we have. People need to understand what is going on.

And, here in the United States, we must contact our leadership, and tell them we care very deeply, and we want them to urge the international community to get that U.N. peacekeeping force, and to protect civilians and humanitarians in Darfur and in Chad and Central African Republic.

LEMON: Mia Farrow, thank you.

FARROW: Thank you.

LEMON: And it's always nice to have you here on the CNN NEWSROOM.

FARROW: Thank you very much.

LEMON: Take care.

PHILLIPS: Straight ahead: Playing it safe on the highway? Don't buy American. U.S. automakers are shut out of top safety rankings.

Plus: pulling Polly Pocket -- big concerns about the tiny toys.

We will explain -- next in the NEWSROOM. (COMMERCIAL BREAK)

PHILLIPS: Well, for many little girls, Polly Pocket dolls are a must-have, but now some must-have information for parents.

Toy-maker Mattel is recalling more than four million Polly Pocket magnetic play sets. Three children have swallowed tiny magnets that fell off the toys, and needed serious surgery. The recall applies to Polly Pocket sets sold from May 2003 through September of this year. If Polly Pocket is on your holiday shopping list, don't worry. The recall does not include sets currently on store shelves.

LEMON: Well, let's talk about the housing market. Do you need any more evidence that the nation's housing market is in, shall we say, a funk?

A new report shows that housing prices continue to slide.

And Susan Lisovicz joins us from the New York Stock Exchange.

It's not really good news for homeowners.


But, you know, the bottom line is, to put it in perspective, the home prices have not dropped overall as much as they have risen. So, if that is the silver lining, then consider that.

Home prices, of course, had been on fire in recent years. And they cooled considerably this summer -- the National Association of Realtors reporting the median price of a single family home fell 1.2 percent in the third quarter. Prices were down in all regions, but, in some particular areas, you saw big hits.

In the Northeast, they fell nearly 5 percent. And, in Sarasota, Florida, which had been very hot, prices plummeted 9.5 percent there.

One market bucking that trend, Salem, Oregon, where prices shot up 25 percent from a year earlier. Keep in mind, even with the recent dip, prices overall are still relatively high, thanks to the double- digit percentage increases we saw in the last five years, Don.

And, you know, we set records for about three of them for homes sold, which drove up the prices.

LEMON: Yes. That's not so encouraging for buyers.

Are there any areas, though, that are considered affordable?

LISOVICZ: Yes. And they're not close to you right now.


LEMON: I know. Man.

LISOVICZ: Or me, for that matter. (LAUGHTER)

LEMON: Yes, but, you know, a nice little second home. Let's see. Probably...

LISOVICZ: Yes, Indianapolis. Indianapolis.


LISOVICZ: Yes, sure.

LEMON: Or Buffalo, or...



LEMON: Grand Rapids.

LISOVICZ: Yes, exactly. Exactly.

LEMON: Grand Rapids isn't bad.

LISOVICZ: Those are places -- right. None of them are bad.

I mean, you could go visit Niagara Falls, go to the Indy 500.

Wells Fargo and the National Association of Home Builders researching just that -- Indianapolis topping the list for most affordable for the fifth straight quarter -- also near the top, Youngstown, Ohio; Detroit and Grand Rapids, Michigan; Buffalo, New York; mostly areas hit by closing factories and job losses.

At for the least affordable -- Kyra knows this firsthand -- eight of the top 10 in California, her home state, the other two, right here...


LISOVICZ: ... where I work, New York.

PHILLIPS: That is so true.


PHILLIPS: I can't tell you how many times we have had these discussions in the family, Susan.



LISOVICZ: Just a telephone booth, you know?



LISOVICZ: That's basically what you can afford, I think, in some of these areas.

LEMON: No more waterfront property. I don't think they're building anymore...


LEMON: ... land.

PHILLIPS: It's the VW Beetle down there on the beach. That's what it is in California.





PHILLIPS: Well, it's about to get even more crowded in the airports and on the highways. Will the weather help or hinder your holiday travels?



LEMON: Well? Well.

What does it take -- you're jumping the gun there -- what does it take to make the insurance industry's list of safest new vehicles? Well, here's a hint for you. American models don't have it.

CNN's Susan Candiotti is in Charlottesville, Virginia with a look at the safest cars and the also-rans.

Susan, how do they determine these lists?

SUSAN CANDIOTTI, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (on camera): Well, you need two things, Don. You need to have electronic stability control and you have to have the right kind of head restraints. All of these cars do. They made the grade.

But all U.S. car makers did not make the grade and they are not on this year's list.


CANDIOTTI (voice-over): As bad as this head-on collision looks and this frightening bang up from the side, in real-life crashes, safety experts insist drivers in these cars would have walked away with nothing worse than bumps and bruises. Thirteen vehicles were named top safety picks by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety. And for the first time, more than half are SUVs, thanks, in part, to ESC, electronic stability control.

Engineer Dave Zuby says ESC was a requirement.

(on camera): What's so important about it?

DAVE ZUBY, CAR SAFETY ENGINEERS: Cars with ESC are 40 percent less likely to be involved in fatal crashes than those without.

CANDIOTTI (voice-over): It's easy to see why. Here's a car with ESC, and without. Top to bottom, the comparison is impressive.

RICK KRANZ, AUTOMOTIVE NEWS: It adjusts engine speed, it adjusts the anti-lock braking system to keep you in the path the driver intended. I mean, it truly is a big, big step in terms of safety.

CANDIOTTI: Another requirement to make the list, top-performing head restraints in rear end crashes, by far, the most common. We watched a rear collision test.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: That didn't look like an especially good seat.

CANDIOTTI: The restraint did not protect the neck well enough from snapping back.

Is your car on the list? Here are the 13 top safety picks: only one large car, the Audi A6; mid-size Audi A4, Saab 9-3 and Subaru Legacy with optional ESC. Two minivans won awards: the Hyundai Entourage and KIA Sedona. Luxury SUVs? The Mercedes M Class and Volvo XC90. Small SUVs? The Honda CR-V and Subaru Forester? And mid- sized SUVs? The Acura RDX, Honda Pilot and Subaru B9 Tribeca.

Safety experts say it's all in the design. Look at the aftermath.

ZUBY: It's really even with the outside of the seat. In the worst-performing cars, we see this pillar is driven in halfway or more across where the seat would be.

CANDIOTTI: But with this design, experts say the driver would easily survive even this.


CANDIOTTI: And here's another example. This is a Volvo, and, again, the pillar, you see, it did not extend very far into the vehicle itself, so that's a key reason why this car passed. Every car manufacturer wants to make this list, because they know the consumers use it as a guide for the safest cars they can buy.

But, again, U.S. carmakers didn't make the grade this year -- Don. LEMON: Yes, that's exactly what I was thinking. Everyone wants to know the safety because they carry children in these SUVs and minivans. So what do American automakers have to do make it on this list?

CANDIOTTI: Well, the two things, they need the right kind of head restraint, and they have to have that electronic stability control. U.S. law requires it in every car by the year 2012, but the institute here says they think that most car manufacturers in the U.S. will make that deadline much earlier than that.

LEMON: Nice work. Susan Candiotti joining us from Charlottesville. Thanks a lot.

PHILLIPS: A carmaker and online merchant have found a new way to drive sales. Ford is putting two of its Lincoln models up for sale on Starting today, you can choose a car, pick out colors, accessories and other extras, and set up a sale all with a few clicks of your mouse. You can't kick the tires, though, but Amazon will set you up with a brick and mortar dealer to pick up your new ride.

LEMON: He may be running through Pretoria after an amazing prison break. Up next in the NEWSROOM, details on a slippery character and an escape that came in a jar.


LEMON: It was the ultimate slippery escape at South Africa's top maximum-security prison. One of the country's most dangerous criminals greased his body with petroleum jelly and squeezed through the tiny window of his cell -- and I mean tiny, eight inches by 24 inches. A manhunt, of course, is underway. The fugitive was awaiting trial on 51 charges and that includes murder.

PHILLIPS: No more Speedos for the "Thorpedo." After five Olympic gold medals and 11 world titles, Australian swimmer Ian Thorpe is calling it quits at 24.


IAN THORPE, AUSTRALIAN SWIMMER: As of 2:53 on Sunday afternoon I decided that I wouldn't be swimming in the World Championships. I also made another very difficult decision that day, that I'm actually going to discontinue my professional swimming career. It was a tough decision but one that I'm very pleased that I've made.


PHILLIPS: Well, Thorpe last competed in a major event two years ago at the Athens Olympics. He won two gold, two silver and a bronze.

LEMON: Talk about longboard. At almost 28 feet, this is the world's biggest surfboard. How could you navigate that thing? And Brazilian Rico De Sousa (ph) rode it right into the "Guinness Book of World Records." De Sousa had to stay on the board at least 10 seconds. Wow. He hung in 10 -- he hung 10 for 11. That's amazing. I'm sorry.

PHILLIPS: He says -- that's all right. He says he's deeply, deeply sorry, but after Michael Richards unleashed the N-word, well the S-word may not be enough. We're watching our language to the best of our ability and everyone else's next in the NEWSROOM.


PHILLIPS: For years he was simply known as Kramer -- one of the funniest characters on television. But with an explosively racist tirade at an L.A. comedy club Friday night, Michael Richards put his lovable persona to rest, maybe forever.

Last night he appeared on David Letterman's show with former co- star Jerry Seinfeld and apologized.


MICHAEL RICHARDS, COMEDIAN: I'm really busted up over this and I'm very, very sorry to those people in the audience, the blacks, the Hispanics, whites, everyone that was there who took the brunt of that anger and hate and rage and how it came through.


PHILLIPS: Well, earlier in the NEWSROOM, I asked comedian Paul Mooney and radio host Roland Martin what they think Richards should do next to make amends.


PAUL MOONEY, COMEDIAN: For me, he should go on Oprah. Oprah will get him through it. He should go on Oprah. St. Oprah, St. Oprah will help him. But, look what he should do -- look, I'm an opportunist. I've already wrote a movie for O.J., Michael, and Mel Gibson. Three crazy men and thank god there's no baby. But anyway, look.


MOONEY: Look, I've known him for 30 years. What he has to do for me, he has to go to the Apollo. He has to perform at an Apollo audience. If he gets through that with the same act, then I'll forgive him. Or he has to go to Africa and adopt a black baby.

PHILLIPS: OK, hold on. He's not going to go to Malawi any time soon, but seriously ...


MARTIN: Kyra, your question is a valid question. That is, whether it's Radio 1, whether it's BET, whether it's TV 1 Cable network, in terms of speaking directly to African-Americans. Because, again, when Mel Gibson made his comments, which were not recorded, the Jewish community came down hard on Mel, said, you need to go to a temple, you need to get training, you need to get education. And even in his comments last night on Lebanon, he talked about what was buried inside of him and that's what the real deal is.

This is a country where racism is at the heart, it's in our DNA, and we try to suppress those feelings. So, what you saw was the real feelings of Richards coming out and he could not control those feelings. And so he was able to suppress them for all that time. He has to deal with that issue. That's his real problem.

PHILLIPS: Well, now, Roland, Paul, you said you've known him for 30 years, has Michael Richards ever made any racist comments to you? have you ever gotten the vibe he doesn't like black people?

MOONEY: No, no, no. Hey, look, he tricked me. I'm going to tell you something. I want him to go to Watts at midnight and look at the tower and wear red. If he survives that he can come back and talk to me.


PHILLIPS: Radio host Roland Martin from Chicago and comedian Paul Mooney joining us from the Laugh Factory in L.A. Michael Richards has been banned from performing at that club again by the way.

LEMON: He has been described as a journalist and a gentlemen. Ed Bradley honored this morning with luminous and heartfelt memorial attended by the great and the good in Manhattan. A tribute to a life cut short by disease but lived to the full.



REV. DR. JAMES FORBES, RIVERSIDE CHURCH: We will draw from his rich spirit, the energy for the renewal of commitment to the values for which he lived and died.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He is dignity. Intelligence. Culture. Humor. Kindness. Soul and fire.

DON HEWITT, CBS NEWS: Finding another Ed Bradley is as close to an impossible task as anything in broadcasting.

STEVE KROFT, "60 MINUTES" CORRESPONDENT: There was an innate sense of fairness and justice and integrity about him that Ed was able to translate into television. I've always felt that his greatest achievement was the artistry with which he lived his own life.

HARRY RADCLIFFE, CBS NEWS PRODUCER: Ed's reporting was, obviously, strongly influenced by his heritage. But was not defined or colored by it.

JIMMY BUFFETT (singing): Do you know what it means to miss New Orleans, miss it both night and day

BILL COSBY, COMEDIAN: I know that Ed Bradley has a beret somewhere. It may be old and tattered but Dizzy Gillespie wore it and I bet you at some point in Ed Bradley's life, he had a goatee.

BILL CLINTON, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I liked him. I admired him. I miss him. We will never forget the music he made in all our lives.

CHARLAYNE HUNTER-GAULT, JOURNALIST: He did not go gentle into that good night. He raged and raged against the dying of the light. Let us honor his legacy and keep it alive by living it, finding ways to guarantee it and to guarantee its immortality.