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Travelers Should Beware New Air Restrictions; Lebanon Mourns Felled Minister; Bush to Meet with President of Iraq; State Troopers Watching I-40 Over Holidays

Aired November 22, 2006 - 09:00   ET


TONY HARRIS, CO-HOST: And you are in the CNN NEWSROOM. Good morning, everyone. I'm Tony Harris.
HEIDI COLLINS, CO-HOST: And I'm Heidi Collins. For the next three hours, watch events happen live on this Wednesday, November 22. Here now is what's in the rundown.

Travel crush. The line for Thanksgiving dinner forms at the airport. We'll remind you about the new carry-on restrictions.

HARRIS: Full speed ahead. Most travelers will get to their turkey and trimmings by car. Gas prices are down from summer highs. The roads are filling up.

COLLINS: And Lebanon in mourning. A political murder. How it may affect the turbulent Middle East neighborhood. We asked our guests here in the NEWSROOM.

LEMON: Over the river, through the woods, maybe across the country, millions of Americans are traveling for their Thanksgiving meal. CNN's Jonathan Freed is at one of the busiest airports in the world, and it's only getting busier.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This is Passenger Training 101.

JONATHAN FREED, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): On an average day at Chicago's O'Hare International Airport...

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Liquids, gels, lotions, potions, creams and aerosols must be 3.4 ounces or less.

FREED: Transportation security officers like Tim Wachowiak (ph) are confiscating 4,000 prohibited items per shift as people pass through checkpoints.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: All your toothpaste, shampoo, conditioner, shaving cream, moustache wax, hair gel.

FREED: Well, holidays are anything but average traffic days.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Mascara, nail polish and lip glosses.

FREED: So TSA Tim is on high alert for people traveling for the first time since new rules recently went into effect limiting the amount of liquids and the like you can carry on board a plane.

LARA USELDING, TRANSPORTATION SECURITY ADMINISTRATION: These items have been confiscated at the checkpoint are not OK in carry-on bags because they don't meet the requirements, but these would have been OK to place in checked baggage.

FREED: The trick to avoid having your stuff chucked, remember the 311 rule.

USELDING: That's three-ounce containers or less, travel sized containers; one quart clear plastic zip top bag; and then one per passenger. And this must be taken out of your carry-on bag and placed into the security bin.

FREED: Close to 25 million people are expected to travel by air this Thanksgiving, and airlines say new technology lets passengers take more control of their trip even before getting to the airport.

MARY FRANCES FAGAN, AMERICAN AIRLINE: Check in at home. Use your computer. Print your boarding pass. Check on the status of your flight. Go to your airline's web site and see what other information you can get.

FREED: As for inevitable in-flight delays, the folks giving up their turkey to staff radar screens controlling the skies urge that you not take it personally if you end up late for your holiday plate.

RAY GIBBONS, AIR TRAFFIC CONTROLLER: There's a very important reason for that holding pattern or for being placed in that holding pattern, and that's to guarantee their safety and their safe arrival.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Where do you place (ph) a one-quart bag of 3.4 ounce liquids?


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: In the tray; very good. Thank you.


HARRIS: Jonathan Freed joins us live now.

Hey, Jonathan, we've heard so much about Thanksgiving travelers being people who don't normally travel, or don't travel that often. So are they getting the message about the size containers and the liquids and gels, or are the TSA folks having to collect a lot of contraband?

FREED: You are talking about whether or not people have the quart bag.


FREED: Which, Tony, anticipating your question, I just -- you know how television is.

HARRIS: Exactly.

FREED: I just happen to have it here with me. That's right.

Now, TSA Tim, I have not seen him yet today, but I have spoken to another TSA officer who will remain unnamed for the time being. He did tell me, though, and I have full confidence that his information is accurate, that so far people seem to be getting the message this morning, Tony, and the garbage cans are not as full as they thought they might have been.

HARRIS: OK. CNN's Jonathan Freed for us. Jonathan, thank you.

COLLINS: Most Americans will hit the road for their Thanksgiving dinner this year. According to a CNN poll conducted by the Opinion Research Corporation, just 45 percent of Americans will dine in their own homes. More than half will eat at a restaurant or the home of a friend or relative.

For those who enjoy travel or traveling for that holiday meal, the average distance will be about 85 miles. That might be how far I have to go because I don't even have a turkey yet.


COLLINS: I know. I hope I'm going somewhere.

HARRIS: This isn't -- this isn't a gluten thing, is it?

COLLINS: No, I mean, I thought I was going over to your house or Rob's.

Rob, where are you? Hey, we're talking about weather.

ROB MARCIANO, CNN METEOROLOGIST: You're always welcome to dine with me. I'll be dining tomorrow at the CNN diner.

COLLINS: Terrific. I have a ticket. We have tickets. We talked about that.

HARRIS: We have tickets. Hold the air (ph); we have tickets.

COLLINS: We can talk about that later.

HARRIS: Will you explain that? The...

COLLINS: Yes. I'm not sure I'm qualified, but it is great, because we have this up for anybody at any time, all day long today and on Sunday, to let you know about travel delays. We see some weather systems there all across the country that we'll let people know where the danger spots -- trouble spots are, right, Rob?


HARRIS: Very nice. Very nice.

COLLINS: Thank you, Rob. MARCIANO: See you tomorrow.

HARRIS: If you need more travel tips and -- well, you can find it at our web site, That's the address there. The latest TSA guidelines along with a video on making your visit stress-free. All about that.

COLLINS: News right now out of the Pentagon. The Marine Corps concerned about troop levels in Iraq. CNN's senior Pentagon correspondent Jamie McIntyre joining us now live.

Jamie, what's this all about?


Well, something's got to give. That's the message from the new Marine Corps commandant, just in charge of the Marine Corps for about eight days now, meeting with reporters here at the Pentagon over breakfast, saying that basically, the Marine Corps cannot meet its goal of giving Marines twice the time off away from the war zone as they have in combat under the current demands in Iraq.

Here's the problem. There's about 180,000 members of the U.S. Marine Corps. It's the smallest of the U.S. military services. They're supposed to be deployed for seven months at a time and then get 14 months off. They say that's really what they need for their mental health and their physical well-being, as well. Today they're getting about seven to eight months off before they have to go back to either Iraq or Afghanistan.

Now, General Conway, who's a member of the joint chiefs, says he has no idea whether the adjustments of strategy in Iraq will result in a demand for more, the same number of Marines or perhaps even fewer, so he's not making any recommendations yet.

But he says if the pace stays at the current pace of requirements, he's -- he may have to consider proposing an increase in the size of the Marine Corps, because not only is it putting a strain on individual Marines; it's putting a strain on what he called the institution of the Marine Corps, preventing the Marines from doing the kinds of maneuver training and contingency training that they're supposed to do to be prepared to answer the call on very short notice.

So he's concerned about the strain. He's waiting to see what adjustments are made in the strategy before he makes any recommendation, again, just eight days into the job -- Heidi.

COLLINS: Yes. And of course, this time of year we always think about troop level morale, as well.

Jamie, any idea from that graphic that we just looked at a minute ago how many of those same soldiers are redeploying for a second, third, fourth time?

MCINTYRE: ... third tour of duty, but what they find is the first time they send a unit back, about 40 or 50 percent of them are the same Marines. They have a lot of turnover in these units.

By the time they send the same unit back for the third deployment, only about 10 percent of them are the same Marines, that is, the same ones going back. And by the time they send them for a fourth time, and believe it or not, there are some going back for a fourth tour...


MCINTYRE: ... almost none of them are the same Marines who were there the first time around. So in a way that's a good thing, because it relieves some of the strain, but also, they lose some of the training and combat effectiveness when the Marines basically vote with their feet and get out of the Marine Corps, resulting in this turnover.

COLLINS: Yes. All right. Jamie McIntyre, thanks so much for that, live from the Pentagon.

HARRIS: Just after 6 in the morning in the west, and we've got a brush fire, another brush fire. Looks to be in San Bernardino County in a city called Yucaipa, California -- I hope that's close -- and near Redlands, California, Loma Linda, California.

These pictures provided by our affiliate there, KTTV. Don't know at this point how close this is to residential or maybe businesses at this time. Certainly don't know the cause of the fire at this point, but wanted to show you these pictures, first thing in the morning out there in California.

Again, another wildfire for firefighters to contend with. We will get more information on this directly, and we will pass it on to you.

An outpouring of anger and grief in Lebanon. The country begins a three-day mourning period for assassinated government minister Pierre Gemayel. The killing, another blow to a democracy already teetering on the edge.

Here's Beirut bureau chief Brent Sadler.


BRENT SADLER, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The somber aftermath of Lebanon's latest political assassination, the body of young cabinet minister Pierre Gemayel is carried through the streets of his Christian ancestral home outside Beirut.

This time of anguish and sorrow on Lebanon's Independence Day tears at the emotions of these Gemayel followers, once part of a powerful armed militia in past wars.

Ahead of a funeral planned for Thursday, a potential flashpoint, Lebanon's security forces are now on high alert. Syria is being openly blamed for the Gemayel murder as well as the killings of four other leading anti-Syrian politicians and journalists over the past two years by many within the anti-Syrian ruling coalition led by embattled prime minister Fouad Siniora, a charge Syria denies.

(on camera) Politicians from all sides scramble to contain the fallout from this assassination, urging calm amid fears of an outbreak of brutal violence between Lebanon's sharply divided religious communities that sparked a civil war here during the 1970s and '80s.

(voice-over) Many political leaders here are now worried that Lebanon may be on the brink of being dragged into violent chaos. Mourners born after Lebanon's civil war say they are helpless in the face of unknown killers stalking their politicians.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We're like all Lebanese; we are very sad. We can't do nothing. We just have to stay crying and looking for the truth.

SADLER: That search for truth, many Lebanese hope, could emerge from an international tribunal that's being set up to try Syrian linked suspects to politically motivated assassinations.

Brent Sadler, CNN, Beirut.


COLLINS: Well, if you're not packed yet, you just might be in trouble. Millions of people jam the airports and roads in search of a Thanksgiving meal. Travel delay is coming up in the NEWSROOM.

HARRIS: And still to come, face to face, President Bush and Iraq's prime minister make plans to talk war strategy. Live to the White House in the NEWSROOM.

COLLINS: And crime hitting a little too close to home for President Bush. Daughter Barbara and a theft. We'll tell you what the thieves got away with, coming up.


ANNOUNCER: Live breaking news, unfolding developments. See for yourself in the CNN NEWSROOM.

COLLINS: A horrific human toll in Iraq. A new U.N. report says more than 3,700 civilians were killed last month. Officials say that makes October the deadliest month for Iraqi civilians since the start of the war.

The report blames the growing influence of militias, terrorists and insurgents. It says hundreds of bodies continue to turn up in Baghdad. They are handcuffed, blindfolded and show signs of torture and execution style killing.

Iraqis also continue to be victims of roadside bombs, military operations or other attacks.

And after Thanksgiving, President Bush heads overseas. He plans to talk war strategy with Iraq's prime minister, the summit set for Jordan. CNN's White House correspondent Suzanne Malveaux joining us now live with more on that.

Good morning to you, Suzanne.


This certainly is a significant development, the fact that these two leaders are meeting face to face. You may recall the first time President Bush met with Prime Minister Maliki was a surprise visit in Baghdad. He said he looked into his eyes and that he saw a man he could trust, someone he could work with.

There is a lot that has happened since then, of course. Both of these men's leadership questioned, whether or not they are capable of turning things around in Iraq.

Now as you mentioned, of course, they're meeting on neutral ground, neutral territory in Amman, Jordan, hosted by King Abdullah. And the two leaders are going to discuss the priorities here.

For the Bush administration this means increasing the training of Iraqi forces as quickly as possible. Also facilitating reconciliation between various Iraqi factions, cracking down on these militia groups and, of course, establishing how Iraq's neighbors can play a critical and positive productive role in moving forward. That, of course, the role of Syria, Iran, Jordan and some others, as well.

And all of this, Heidi, comes at a very important time for this president, under increasing pressure to turn things around. You've got that bipartisan independent study group that is going to be coming up with its own report, its own recommendations, in a couple of weeks.

You've got an internal report, as well as the Pentagon. All of this coming together in the next couple of weeks.

So President Bush wanting to get a face-to-face sit-down, some time with Maliki to discuss what these priorities are, if they can map out some sort of strategy before those studies come out, Heidi.

COLLINS: Also, I would be curious to know, I think, Suzanne, whether or not President Bush may be discussing with Maliki the renewed relationship between Iraq and Iran.

MALVEAUX: Well, absolutely. I mean, what you're seeing is a very dynamic situation between Iraq and all of its neighbors. We're talking about Syria. We're talking about Iran.

And so far the president has been reluctant to engage in direct talks with Iraq's neighbors, but we have seen more of a reaching out from Iran to Iraq. We've seen more of an establishment of relationship between Syria, as well as Iran. I mean, all of these different countries, these leaders coming together.

And really the question is whether or not this president has the political muscle here to bring these leaders together, to bring these countries together and whether or not he is going to be willing to have those kinds of discussions that many people are calling for. COLLINS: It will be a fascinating holiday weekend, that's for sure. Suzanne Malveaux at the White House, thank you.

HARRIS: And once again let's take you to Yucaipa, California. This is very near Redlands, California. And we have another brush fire burning in the San Bernardino National Forest. Our understanding is 120 acres burning right now.

And just to better orient you to the area, this is very near Loma Linda, California; Redlands, California. Again, another wildfire in that area. So many now with these winds blowing back across the desert area, sparking these fires. Principally, we've seen them in the San Bernardino County this fall and early winter.

Our pictures right now from KTTV. And obviously, the fire in no way under control right now. Firefighters on the scene to be sure. We will keep an eye on this because it has grown since last we told you about it.

Most Americans traveling this week will reach their destination by car. CNN's Ed Lavandera has a closer look at a multi-state police patrol that stretches from the Atlantic Ocean to the Pacific.


ED LAVANDERA, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Interstate 40 ends, or starts, depending on your perspective in Barstow, California, 2,554 miles to the east, cutting through eight states. I-40 reaches Wilmington, North Carolina. No other cross country interstate will be watched like I-40 this Thanksgiving holiday.

LT. PETE NORWOOD, OKLAHOMA STATE HIGHWAY PATROL: Get the word up. Let them know, hey, this is your warning. We're going to be on I-40.

LAVANDERA: Oklahoma state trooper Lieutenant Pete Norwood helped organize a multi-state patrol that will post state troopers every ten miles along this interstate.

NORWOOD: And that's all the way across I-40 from sea to shining sea.

LAVANDERA (on camera): What authorities are most concerned about this holiday weekend, of course, are people who drive drunk and at high speeds. So they're hoping that by staggering troopers every ten miles along the interstate, that that will encourage people to be on their best behavior.

(voice-over) Four hundred and fifty-eight people died in highway accidents last Thanksgiving weekend. More than half of those were not wearing seat belts.

NORWOOD: If everybody drove right, there'd be no accidents. If everybody abided by the law, there'd never be an accident, and that's what we're trying to do here.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I like to speed a little myself, but you know what? I want to see more people alive this year.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: To reduce the cost of lives, I don't think it's that extreme.

LAVANDERA: AAA estimates almost 32 million Americans will be taking to the roads this weekend. The national average on gas prices is $2.23 a gallon, about 80 cents cheaper than this past summer. That kind of statistic makes drivers thankful.

MIKE PINA, SPOKESMAN, AAA: People are more likely to put up with congested roads and gas and whatever hassles that are necessary because they're determined to see their friends and family this time of year.

LAVANDERA: And with millions of Americans determined to see their families, for those traveling on I-40, what you save in gas money might easily be lost to speeding tickets.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: No tickets, not so far. I'm hopeful that I won't get none.

NORWOOD: Spend your money on the turkey, not on the fine.


HARRIS: Ed Lavandera joins us from Knoxville, Tennessee.

All right, I'll play. Here's the simple question, Ed, why Tennessee?

LAVANDERA: Well, we'll keep it simple. You know, there's 2,500 miles of Interstate 40, and Tennessee has more of that than any of the other eight states combined or the other eight states where I-40 runs through. More than 400 miles of I-40 cut through this state.

HARRIS: Very good. Keep it simple for me. Appreciate that. Ed Lavandera for us in Knoxville, Tennessee. Ed, thanks.

LAVANDERA: too early.

COLLINS: And for more travel tips and the travel news you need, log on before you go. That would be a great idea., the latest TSA guidelines, along with a video on making your visit stress-free.

HARRIS: We are "Minding Your Business" this morning. Ali Velshi is here with a preview.

Good morning, Ali.


It's holiday shopping season under way right now. If you've got 500 bucks burning a hole in your pocket, you can buy a lot of things with it. I'll tell you whether you should buy Google stock when we come back right here in the NEWSROOM. (COMMERCIAL BREAK)

ANNOUNCER: Live breaking news, unfolding developments. See for yourself in the CNN NEWSROOM.

COLLINS: Want to take a look at some of this new video just in now to CNN. This is that brush fire that we've been telling you about in the San Bernardino National Forest out in California, obviously. About 120 acres now. Quite a few firemen working this fire.

But as you can see and as we have seen over the past couple of weeks with these brush fires that tend to so quickly out of control. It is really tough terrain to get in there and try to fight.

Certainly early, early in the morning there. Sun has not even come up there, so they're trying to keep a watch on this and keep it as contained as possible. So we'll continue to watch it, as well, and bring you any developments, should they happen.

HARRIS: So Google's stock now halfway to a thousand. Ali Velshi is "Minding Your Business" this morning.

Good morning, Ali.

VELSHI: I should have been minding everybody's business a little better when this stock came out in 2004. You know, the day it came out, Tony, it was 85 bucks. It closed that day over $100. That was in August of 2004.

Take a look at what this thing has done ever since then. It went further and further up until it hit $500, closing at about $509. That will be a stock to watch today.

I -- you know, when it first came out, I remember the day very well. We were all talking about it, and I remember telling people that it might a little -- you know, might be priced a little high. You might want to wait to see how it settles in, which is why, Tony, I am still working for the man.

HARRIS: There you go. Hey, I got to ask you about Apple's stock, as well.

VELSHI: Well, this is another stock that had a 52-week high -- 52-week high, an all-time high. And, in fact, another example of another product I really like and I buy a lot of but other people bought the stock: $88.14. Some of that is because Apple always does very well with its iPods around the holiday season, so we're expecting that to happen.

But also because there is great anticipation -- there was great anticipation in 2006. Now there's great anticipation in 2007 that Apple will come out with some kind of a phone device...


VELSHI: ... the iPhone that you will be able to have, you know, your mp3, your digital music, and make phone calls and all that kind of stuff. There's a big Mac world exposition in January in San Francisco. That may be where they do it.

But, that, of course, you know, Apple has a good chance of owning that world of all the different gadgets that you use if they can come out with a phone that works properly.

HARRIS: Very bold new world we're in now, Ali.

VELSHI: Absolutely.

HARRIS: I've got to ask you about Bill Gates. We know he's the richest person in the world. But I love this question. Who is the richest...

VELSHI: Fake person.

HARRIS: ... fake person? Yes.

VELSHI: Well, there's a list that "Forbes" puts out every -- every year. It's the 15 richest fake people, 15 richest fictional people. I've got to hold off on No. 1 for a second.

I want to tell you No. 9. It's Prince Abakaliki of Nigeria, who you may not know and we don't have a picture up. But he sends a lot of e-mails out. This is the guy whose, his father has -- his father's estate is worth $50 million. And if you could just help him release that money, he'll give you 30 percent of the take. Have you ever gotten one of those e-mails?

HARRIS: No, not yet. Not yet.

VELSHI: Prince Abakaliki is a spammer.

No. 5 on the list is Jed Clampett, of course.


VELSHI: "Beverly Hillbillies". Oil is doing pretty well, so he's doing well. He's worth $7.7 billion.

No. 2 on the list is Montgomery Burns from "The Simpsons"...


VELSHI: ... because he owns a nuclear power plant, and he made a deal with North Korean leader Kim Jong-Il. It also says -- CNN has not confirmed any of this -- but it also says he's a collector of priceless historical artifacts, including the only existing nude photo of Mark Twain.

HARRIS: Can't confirm it but working on it.

VELSHI: EBay will have that.

And No. 1, of course, on the list is Daddy Warbucks. HARRIS: Oh, of course.

VELSHI: Daddy Warbucks, because he's a former Army general and now a defense contractor. And of course, as we know in this country, defense contractors have done very well in the last several years. So Daddy Warbucks.

Santa Claus used to be No. 1, by the way.

COLLINS (singing): The sun'll come out tomorrow.

HARRIS: Heidi is singing here, Ali.

COLLINS: "Annie".

VELSHI: Yes, well, I kind of look like Daddy Warbucks. Do you have that picture?

HARRIS: There you go. Can we do it side by side. We have -- put Daddy Warbucks up there. Can we do that?

COLLINS: You need a pinstriped suit.

HARRIS: They're working on it right now. We can make that happen. We have the technology, and we've got time this morning.

COLLINS: You have to pucker your lips, Ali.


HARRIS: Right, right.

COLLINS: Pucker your lips. You're not puckering your lips.

HARRIS: But it works, Ali.

VELSHI: It works?

HARRIS: It works. Happy Thanksgiving, sir.

VELSHI: I am -- once again, Tony, let's be clear. I am not the richest fictional or real person in any control group.

HARRIS: All right, Ali.

VELSHI: So whenever you need me I'll be around working for the man.

HARRIS: Beautiful, beautiful. Working for the man, as we all are. All right, Ali. Thank you.

VELSHI: See you, my friend.

COLLINS: Millions of air travelers among them, a lot of infrequent flyers not familiar with the airport drill we all love so. That could mean congestion though at busy spots like Atlanta's Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport. CNN's Reynolds Wolf is there. Boy, this is the world's busiest passenger airport. How does it look out there, Reynolds?

REYNOLDS WOLF, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Hi there. I cannot hear you guys due to all the noise that we have here, but we are live in Atlanta at Hartsfield-Jackson airport. We've been here since 5:00 in the morning, and it has just been frigid, but it has been crowded too. We see the crowds steadily build -- families coming in. A lot of people getting dropped off. A lot of couples, but also a lot of moms and dads with a stack full of kids.

It has been certainly just incredible. They have four runways. They've just added a fifth runway here at Hartsfield-Jackson airport which is a good thing because they're expecting 1.7 million people to come through this venue over Thanksgiving week. So, again, that is certainly some good news.

Now, the lines are very long. We've been told over in the Delta terminal, that it is just madness. That it is really stacked up. And to give you an idea or at least give you a few pointers on how you can make the morning go a little bit easier for you and your family, we're lucky enough to have Christopher White with us from the TSA. Chris, it has been insane this morning. It's been really busy hasn't it?

CHRISTOPHER WHITE, TSA SPOKESMAN: It is traditionally one of our busiest days of year. The wait time at the security checkpoint right now is 15 minutes, which is not really out of the realm of reason. This is possible because all of our officers are fully staffing the checkpoint and we are ready -- we're prepared for this holiday travel season. Passengers can do their part by being prepared for security. The best way to do that if you're bringing liquid, gels, or aerosols and checking baggage, put all those items in your checked bag. You'll have no problem getting through the checkpoint If you're not checking baggage, put those items in the one-quart ziptop container.

WOLF: That's where these guys come in right?

WHITE: Absolutely, three ounce containers in a one-quart ziptop bag. One bag per passenger placed separately on the belt. If passengers do this, they will get to the checkpoint quickly and easily.

WOLF: OK, so -- if it happens to be five ounces, then it gets trashed but if it's a three-ounce container it's OK.

WHITE: That's correct and the reason we don't allow larger containers is because of the explosive research we've done with the FBI and national labs. We know that these three-ounce containers in a one-quart bag do not pose a significant threat to aviation.

WOLF: Ok, well thank you so much for your time. Certainly some good news. A couple of these that we like to share with you, as well is we like people to get here about two hours in advance, three hours if you happen to have a family. Takes a little more time to check in. If you're flying international we've actually run into a couple of people that have been flying to St. Kitts, some going to Jamaica. They wouldn't take us with them. We wanted to go, but they wouldn't take us with them. That is going to be about a four-hour wait. So again, you've really got to be patient.

Plus, when you come in make sure you bring your smiles with you, say hi to your neighbors and be friendly. It'll make it a happier day for everybody. Because, let me tell you, it is getting pretty insane in there to say the very least. But, still, it's a good time. This is all about families going across the country, getting together and enjoying a wonderful holiday.

HARRIS: A little kumbiya.

COLLINS: Thank you Reynolds. I don't think he has anywhere to go for Thanksgiving either.

HARRIS: Well, you're coming over to the house. Reynolds come on over to the house.

Still to come -- you're in the NEWSROOM this morning. When we come back, riding the rails to a Thanksgiving meal before you board, things you should know, train travel tips, that's ahead.

COLLINS: Also, have passport will travel. American air travelers face a major change coming soon. What you need to know. We will tell you in the NEWSROOM.

HARRIS: And the president's daughter Barbara Bush is missing a purse. Stolen in Argentina, details on the snagged bag, we have them for you here in the NEWSROOM.


COLLINS: All aboard. Amtrak expecting its busiest travel day of the year today.

HARRIS: Allan Chernoff is tracking the situation for those riding the rails this Thanksgiving.


CHERNOFF (voice over): Amtrak locomotive Engineer Paul Schirf is hoping for good Thanksgiving weather, especially since the forecast calls for a chance of rain Thursday in the Northeast.

(On camera): How would severe weather affect the rails?

PAUL SCHIRF, AMTRAK LOCOMOTIVE ENGINEER: It can take out the signal system. Or heavy rain this time of year, you've got leaves on the rail. It affects the traction of the locomotives, makes it harder to get up to speed and maintain track speed.

CHERNOFF: If the weather's good?

SCHIRF: Weather's good, we roll, no problem.

CHERNOFF (voice over): Avoiding problems is the responsibility of Dispatcher Jeffrey Harris.

JEFFREY HARRIS, TRAIN DISPATCHER: GSCC to the conductor, Amtrak 173, we're looking for departure. Over.

CHERNOFF: With trains packed before Thanksgiving, it will be a challenge to keep everything running on time.

HARRIS: The normal rush hour, just Monday through Friday is just a rehearsal, or practice, for the Thanksgiving rush.

CHERNOFF (on camera): The day before Thanksgiving is Amtrak's version of the Super Bowl, its busiest day of the year. The railroad will be adding an extra 16 trains to handle capacity of 125,000 passengers nationwide.

(Voice over): Riding the train involves planning. Amtrak requires reservations. In fact, some of the most popular Northeast trains are already sold out.

TOM PYLE, AMTRAK SUPT. OF OPERATIONS: It's too late. We encourage folks to buy their tickets early, reserve early, to be guaranteed.

CHERNOFF: Then there's the question of arriving on time. In the Northeast where Amtrak reserves the majority of its passengers, performance has been improving. Better than four of every five trains on the Boston-to-Washington route arrives on schedule, thanks to track and other infrastructure fix-ups.

But on long-distance hauls, Amtrak's performance remains abysmal. In fact, if you were thinking of taking the train from San Francisco to eat turkey in Los Angeles, forget it. It's already too late. Only 4 percent of trains on the route arrive on time. Freight lines own the tracks out West, and they're constantly holding up passenger trains so freight can move through.


HARRIS: Allan Chernoff joins us live now from New York's Penn Station and you know Allan, it would be really nice if the folks at Amtrak had decided on a day like today to provide something a little extra for their riders today, kind of a thank you in keeping with the holiday spirit, don't you think?

CHERNOFF: You can actually do that on Amtrak, no problem. They've got the turkey, they've got the trimmings. In fact, Amtrak says they plan to serve 7 and a half tons of turkey this entire week. 22,000 servings of cranberry.

HARRIS: We love it. Allan Chernoff for us this morning, we appreciate it. Allan, thank you.


COLLINS: Meanwhile, for more travel tips and travel news, just log on before you go, of course -- The latest TSA guidelines along with a video on making your visit stress-free.

Americans don't leave home without it. Your passport, that is. Beginning in late January, the rules will change. The Homeland Security Department will require passports for just about all air travelers entering the United States. That includes Americans returning from weekend junkets to Mexico, Canada and Bermuda. Drivers license and birth certificates no longer accepted as forms of ID staring late January.

HARRIS: All right, let's take you back out to Yucaipa, California. OK, first light in California, and a bit of a better look at least of the smoke that is going on now associated with this brush fire in the San Bernardino National Forest, very near Yucaipa, California. Difficult to get to. We've pictures from earlier when you can actually see the flames there, difficult for firefighters to get to the scene. They're doing the best they can by hand to contain the fire. Just because it's just hard to get here. Very inaccessible area here in the forest. This is very near Redlands, California, if you're familiar, Loma Linda. We will continue to watch this story.

COLLINS: A police raid ends with a 92-year-old woman dead. Now, questions and anger.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: They killed my aunt. They shot her down like a dog.


COLLINS: Family and neighbors say it is a case of mistaken identity. Police say the raid was by the book. We've got the story coming up in the NEWSROOM.

HARRIS: And baby boom. Many of the single mothers, no spring chickens. The CDC counting un-wed births. That story ahead in the NEWSROOM.


HARRIS: Here in Atlanta, a police drug raid ends with a 92-year- old woman dead and three officers wounded. Authorities say the woman opened fire when plain-clothes officer entered her home with a search warrant. They say the police fired back to defend themselves. Eric Phillips of our affiliate WSB has the story.


SARAH DOZIER, WOMAN'S NIECE: They killed my aunt. They shot her down like a dog. She is 92 years old. I give her this house. That is my house.

ERIC PHILLIPS, WSB-TV REPORTER: Sara Dozier rushed to the scene when she heard her elderly aunt Kathryn Johnston had been killed in a shootout with Atlanta police. DOZIER: They kicked her door in talking about drugs and there's no drugs in that house. They realize now they done the wrong house. They went and they killed her.

PHILLIPS: Atlanta police officials say three narcotics officers were serving a warrant at 933 Neal Street, when a female inside opened fire striking all of them. Their return fire killing her. Neighbors say they could hear the erupting gunfire.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It was oncoming just pow, pow, pow, pow, pow.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Because I had to get my little nephew and dive on the floor with him and I had to dive on top of him because is it sounds like the gunshot was right by our window.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The next thing I know that the ambulance came and the police car, they were just coming shooting down the street and we was concerned and we were scared.

PHILLIPS: The woman's niece says she's not surprised her aunt opened fire because she lived alone and had a gun for protection.

DOZIER: Yes, she has a gun and I went and got her a gun permit. Now, they didn't have to shoot that old lady down like a dog. They didn't have to do that. It's one old woman in that house. I've got burglar bars there to try to protect her. I've got mercury lights out there to keep it bright and light. I'm as mad as hell, and somebody's going to answer to that.


HARRIS: The incident is now under investigation. The assistant police chief says the officers were justified in shooting once they were fired upon.

COLLINS: The president's daughter falls victim to a purse snatching. It happened in Argentina. Barbara Bush traveling there with her twin sister Jenna. No word on when it happened but a law enforcement official tells CNN the first daughters were not in the immediate area where the purse was stolen and they were never in danger. The White House and the Secret Service declined to comment.

Mugged in Waikiki, the acting director of the White House travel office was beaten and robbed outside a nightclub. Greg Pitts was in Hawaii on an overnight stop with President Bush. Police say three men attacked Pitts and stole his wallet. Pitts was bruised and scraped. He had to stay behind at a Honolulu hospital. No word on any arrests.

HARRIS: Thanksgiving just a day away. Our Jeanne Moos talks turkey with a twist, in the NEWSROOM.


HARRIS: I want to take you back to this brush fire we've been watching this morning, San Bernardino National Forest. Carol Lin is looking at this.

Carol, these are some new pictures coming in.

CAROL LIN, CNN ANCHOR: Yes, fresh pictures coming from our affiliate, KTTV, Heidi. And this is the desert country outside of Los Angeles, about a two-hours' drive east in an area called Yucaipa in the San Bernardino National Forest. So far, we know that about 100 acres are burning right now, Heidi. Fortunately no structures yet are threatened.

Firefighters are keeping a close eye on this, because as you know, the wildfires out in Southern California can get the best of you if you don't keep an eye on them, so they're trying to get a handle on this on this holiday weekend.

COLLINS: Yes, they're going to be working hard, that's for sure.

LIN: You bet.

COLLINS: Thanks. It looks very steep. All right, Carol Lin, we'll check back later with you. Thanks.

HARRIS: Well, you already know to catch us weekday mornings from 9:00 a.m. until noon Eastern right here in the NEWSROOM, but did you know you can take us with you anywhere on your iPod. Uh-oh. The CNN NEWSROOM podcast available 24/7 right on your iPod.

Well, Thanksgiving is almost here, along with all of the usual and unusual traditions.

COLLINS: Some good ones, too.


COLLINS: That has our own Jeanne Moos, of course, talking turkey.


JEANNE MOOS, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): It's time to play "name that turkey." Every year, it's the same routine, except for the year the turkey pecked at the president. But even if the bird attacks, it gets pardoned. Unlike millions of others, it will survive.

And while we're pardoning the turkey, pardon the jokes.

DAVID LETTERMAN, TALK SHOW HOST: President Bush will pardon the turkey, and today Dick Cheney spent all day torturing it.

MOOS: The vice president is the butt of many a tortured turkey joke on the Web.

And speaking of turkeys, after the comedian who played Kramer yelled at an African-American heckler saying, "we would have had you upside down with a fork up your expletive, this showed up on "The Huffington Post."

There's a new flock of turkey commercials this year.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Honey! The turkey's thawed.

MOOS: This one is for a frozen turkey you can just pop in the oven. The Web ads are exaggerations of things real customers have done. For instance, this one is based on the story of a lady who dropped her turkey on the floor, but ate it anyway.

As for the national turkey and the alternate that serves as a backup, every year there's a naming contest on the White House Web site. Click on your favorite.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I think I like Plymouth and Rock.


MOOS (on camera): Copia. Cornicopia.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yeah. I don't really care.

MOOS (voice-over): No leftovers for him.

The leading choice in our survey...



UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I like Ben and Franklin. Reminds me of money.

MOOS: But if they allowed write-ins...

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I would name the turkey Bush and Cheney. And then I wouldn't give them a pardon.

MOOS: Whatever their names are, United is flying them first class from Washington to L.A. to be the honorary grand marshals in Disneyland's Thanksgiving parade. The two cages will take up four seats in first class. Sure beats the way most turkeys are treated. The White House turkeys get to thrive, not just survive.

Jeanne Moos, CNN, New York.


COLLINS: Boy, I wonder if they realize those two turkeys, the weight on their shoulders representing all of the turkeys in the U.S.

HARRIS: Look, I'm sure there's a heated competition. I'm sure they're aware of the honor and the responsibility, Heidi.

COLLINS: Turkeys are not dumb, I can tell you that.

HARRIS: Exactly.

COLLINS: Meanwhile, home for the holidays, but, remember, some items can, other cannot, go home with you on the plane. Do you know all the restrictions? We'll get them right. Travel tips here in the NEWSROOM.

And hitting the road this holiday? Traffic jams aren't the only road block to a happy arrival. Details in the NEWSROOM.