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Federal Immigration Raid Leaves Children Stranded; Spy on the Seas?; Fatal Plant Explosion in Houston

Aired March 08, 2007 - 14:00   ET


DON LEMON, CNN ANCHOR: Hello. I'm Don Lemon, live at the CNN world headquarters in Atlanta.
FREDRICKA WHITFIELD, CNN ANCHOR: And I'm Fredricka Whitfield, in for Kyra Phillips.

Did an immigration raid put children at risk? Hundreds of suspects rounded up.

We'll have a live report.

LEMON: Terror on the high seas. A Navy sailor who served aboard this ship now accused of giving military secrets to terrorists.

WHITFIELD: And military medical care. Straight ahead in the NEWSROOM, a veterans activist who says the critical condition of care will be hard to cure.

LEMON: Top of the hour, we start with this: Federal agents in Massachusetts did what they are trained to do, yet no one anticipated the firestorm that's followed. It started Tuesday when immigration agents raided this leather factory and detained 327 workers who couldn't prove they are in the U.S. legally. Now, many of the workers have small children, children who were stranded at school or with sitters.

Now the governor is stepping in.


GOV. DEVAL PATRICK (D), MASSACHUSETTS: This morning, I urged the federal government to stop all flights out of Ft. Devens immediately until we can be assured that all parents have been identified and appropriate arrangements made for their children and dependents. We've been told that there are 26 people at Ft. Devens now who are either minors, pregnant women, nursing mothers, or sole caregivers of their children. These people must be processed in Massachusetts.


LEMON: Special interest groups are weighing in as well, and CNN's Dan Lothian has been covering it all and he joins us by phone with new information.

Hi, Dan.


Well, we are -- in fact, the press conference is still ongoing with some of these groups. They are immigration advocacy groups, and essentially what they are saying is that they believe there are 150 or so children out there who have been impacted.

One thing everyone is making clear is there are no children, as far as they know, who are sort of out there on their own. They are with guardians, they're with babysitters, they're with other relatives. They've all been for the most part accounted for, but there's still that concern out there that because this is an immigrant community, that many people may be not forthcoming because they are afraid that if they talk about a child that might not have a parent with them, that perhaps something will happen to that child.

But what they are looking for right now is support for the community. They want people to pitch in, to provide supplies, because there are fathers who are now having to take care of children, because their wives have been detained. There are wives who are having to take care of their children alone because of the husbands have been detained.

From the government's point of view, what they're saying, immigration officials are saying, is that they have taken every step, really worked hard to ensure that there are no children who will fall through the cracks. And, in fact, there were some 60 people who were arrested who have been released, most of them women, because it was determined that they were the sole provider for that child -- Don.

LEMON: Dan, do we know -- every child has a parent, right? Is there some child who may be without a parent? Or we're not sure?

LOTHIAN: Well, we're not really sure whether or not there are some children who may not have a parent, but what we do know is that they are at least with a guardian, either a close family friend, another relative, or some sort of caregiver who is watching over them.


LOTHIAN: And that's the big concern. I mean, the governor has stepped in and said he wants to make sure that all of the children do have relatives, that some of the relatives are not sent out of town, and then you end up finding out that there's a child here left alone.

And what these immigrants advocacy groups point out is that about 95 percent of these children were born here in this country. And so they want to make sure that they are taken care of.

LEMON: Dan Lothian, thank you very much for that report.


WHITFIELD: A huge explosion in Harris County, Houston, Texas. And now the investigation is under way to figure out why this warehouse exploded. One person is believed to have been killed during this explosion. This explosion took place as a number of police officers who happened to be in a building nearby taking a class happened to have a break, went outside, actually witnessed the explosion, and then many of them were able to go into action and help out the best way they could. An investigation is still under way as to why this explosion took place at what's known as the American Elastomer Products warehouse building there in Houston.

Meantime, screams and smoke filled the night air as fire raced through a four-story building in the Bronx, New York. Four families in two apartments, 22 people in all, were trapped. Nine people died there. Eight of them children.

City leaders say the building had two smoke detectors, but neither had batteries. One room had an unattended space heater.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: When I got here, it was just smoke. OK? The fire department came. A lady was crying, saying a kid was stuck inside. So me and my man ran around to the back, and we got two kids. And by that time, the fire department, started right away. But it took them, like, 10 minutes to turn the water on.

HECTOR ORTIZ, NEIGHBOR: I heard some screaming. So I ran across the street and tried to climb over the fence. And my friend (INAUDIBLE). We had access to the back yard, so the lady trapped on the third floor, she started throwing the kids down. She was hesitant at first, because she couldn't see us with all the smoke. So she threw the kids down to me, and me and the another gentlemen (INAUDIBLE).


WHITFIELD: And most of the victims are believed to be from Mali, a large nation in northwestern Africa, formerly the Sudanese Republic. About 12 million people live there. One of the poorest countries in the world.

LEMON: A dramatic new challenge to President Bush today, as House Democrats put forth a deadline for pulling U.S. troops from Iraq. The Dems unveiled a measure that would require U.S. combat troops to be out of Iraq by the fall of next year. It will be tacked on to legislation funding the war. If passed, it would require U.S. forces to begin leaving by next March, and even earlier if the Iraqi government fails to meet a series of benchmarks for improving security, allocating oil revenues and amending its constitutional.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi says it's time for the Pentagon to turn its attention from Iraq to Afghanistan.


REP. NANCY PELOSI (D-CA), HOUSE SPEAKER: If those benchmarks are not met, or even if they are at some point, calling for the redeployment of U.S. troops out of Iraq so that we can focus more fully on the real war on terror, which is in Afghanistan, this bill takes giant steps toward putting the resources into that war. Again, a war that has -- is unfinished and nearly forgotten by the administration.


LEMON: Well, Pelosi's proposal doesn't go far enough for some critics. Before she spoke, Representative Maxine Waters and some other House Democrats demanded a pullout of the end of -- by the end of this year.

The president's supporters say the Democrats' proposal would lead to a U.S. defeat. Now, coming up in our 3:00 p.m. Eastern hour, we'll get the views of Republican Congressman Duncan Hunter of California.

The new leader of U.S. troops in Iraq says military forces won't be enough. General David Petraeus says political negotiations with militant groups are crucial to stabilizing Iraq in the long run. Now, in the short run, and probably the medium run, the military buildup will continue.


GEN. DAVID PETRAEUS, COMMANDER, MULTINATIONAL FORCE, IRAQ: We are, in any event, still in the early days of this endeavor, an endeavor that will take months, not days or weeks, to fully implement, and one that will have to be sustained to achieve its desired effect.

In partnership with our Iraqi colleagues, help improve the security situation and enable the Iraqi people to control the demons responsible for the vicious sectarian violence of the past year. Demons that tore at the very fabric of Iraqi society.

Indeed, our operations will endeavor to provide Iraq's citizens and leaders a chance to mend that fabric. If we can do this -- and I do believe that Iraqi and coalition soldiers and police will be able to improve levels of security for the Iraqi population -- then the Iraqi government will have the chance it needs to resolve some of the difficult issues it faces -- to develop the capacity of its institutions, to improve the delivery of basic services to its citizens, and to reconcile the differences between the factions that are the stakeholders in the new Iraq.


LEMON: Well, yesterday, Defense Secretary Robert Gates announced a plan to send more military police to Iraq, bringing the total anticipated troop surge to 26,000.

WHITFIELD: He was once an enlisted man in the U.S. Navy known to some as Paul R. Hall. But federal investigators say his name is really Hassan Abujihaad, and today he's accused of sharing secrets about the locations of Navy ships and the best ways to attack them.

Our homeland security correspondent Jeanne Meserve is following the case from Washington.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE) JEANNE MESERVE, CNN HOMELAND SECURITY CORRESPONDENT: In 2001, when he was serving on the Navy ship USS Benfold in the Middle East, Abujihaad provided classified information to people the government alleges were providing material support and resources to terrorists.

DEBORAH MCCARLEY, FBI SPECIAL AGENT: He provide details of a battle group's transition or battle group's movements from one place to another as they engaged in missions concerning al Qaeda and as they were enforcing sanctions against the Taliban.

MESERVE: According to government documents, Abujihaad shared the battle group's perceived vulnerability to terrorist attack, described a force protection briefing given on board a ship, and even praised the attack on the USS Cole which had taken place a year earlier. He allegedly provided this information to a London-based group which ran jihadist Web sites, Azzam Publications.

The man who led Azzam is named Babar Ahmad (ph). He was arrested in 2004 and is currently fighting extradition to the U.S. He's described as a pioneer in jihadist use of the Internet and is alleged to have had contacts with al Qaeda, the Taliban, and Chechen rebels so that he was in possession of the classified Navy information, was a cause for significant concern -- Fredricka.

WHITFIELD: Wow, it's pretty alarming. And so, Jeanne, any other possible links to terrorism?

MESERVE: Well, there is another twist. Abujihaad was discharged from the Navy in 2002 and was living in an apartment complex in Phoenix for a time with a man named Derrick Sharif (ph). Sharif (ph) was arrested in December, charging with plotting to set off grenades at a Rockford, Illinois, shopping mall during the holiday season.

According to the criminal complaints, Sharif (ph) told authorities after his arrest that he had been with Abujihaad, when Abujihaad read an article about the classified Navy information found during the investigation of Azzam Publications. And according to Sharif (ph), Abujihaad said, "I think this is about me."


WHITFIELD: That was CNN Homeland Security Correspondent Jeanne Meserve.

LEMON: Yet another day of congressional hearings into conditions at Walter Reed Army Medical Center, and allegations that wounded troops coming home from Iraq and Afghanistan have been neglected. Defense officials are promising action.


GEN. PETER SCHOOMAKER, ARMY CHIEF OF STAFF: There is an opportunity here that I hope we take, and that is to fix this comprehensively. This isn't about painting things and deal with mildew and fixing some administrative processes. There needs to be a really top-down look. WILLIAM WINKENWERDER, ASST. DEFENSE SECRETARY: The quality of our medical care for our service members is excellent. No one should question that aspect of this issue. There's no question about that.

On the other hand, with regard to the quality of life for people while they are receiving bad care, that's where our focus is. That's where we did not meet our standards.


LEMON: We are say staying on top of the Walter Reed hearings. Emotional testimony is expected this afternoon.

The outrage has been building for weeks. Wounded American troops and vets often not getting the care they need.

Coming up in the CNN NEWSROOM, we'll talk with someone who has been there.

WHITFIELD: The accused Barbie bandits. If they took the money and ran, as police allege, what did they do with it? Well, of course, they got their hair done.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: "So what are we going to do today?" And she goes, "I want you to make me really blonde. I want to be blonde like Barbie."


WHITFIELD: So what were they thinking?

LEMON: Yes, what were they thinking? That's the question, right?

WHITFIELD: That's straight ahead in the NEWSROOM.


WHITFIELD: So, we're just getting some new information coming in from the Houston Fire Department, who is confirming to us that one person did die from this explosion here in Houston at this warehouse, but what officials are saying, it's a miracle that more people were not injured, because there were about 40 people in the building at the time of this explosion. And it just so happened that nearby, Houston police officers were taking a class in a building nearby, just happened to come outside for a break, and witnessed this explosion taking place.

This warehouse, many people were at work at the time. But confirmation now that at least one person was killed in this explosion. Still unclear why the explosion took place, however.

LEMON: It is 17 past the hour, and here are a few of the stories we're working for you right here in the CNN NEWSROOM.


WHITFIELD: Well, it seems those alleged Barbie bandits did have other means of support. We're told the smiling teens who allegedly ripped off a bank branch outside of Atlanta, which was inside a grocery store, worked the afternoon shift at a strip club. But they weren't working the day after the robbery.

CNN's Rick Sanchez retraces the duo's tracks.


RICK SANCHEZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice over): Police say this is 18- year-old Ashley Miller. She's the brunette on the left, caught by a surveillance camera during a bank holdup. She and her friend, who police identify as Heather Lyn Johnston, 19, and blonde, were late arrested.

So what did the pair do the day after the alleged bank heist with their picture splattered in news accounts all over the world? The answer? They went to a hair salon, where they're greeted by hair stylist Amy Cooper.

AMY COOPER, HAIRDRESSER: As soon as she walked in, you know, I went up and greeted her, and I introduced myself. And I said, "So, what are we going to do today?" And she goes, "I want you to make me really blonde. I want to be blonde like Barbie."

SANCHEZ: Like Barbie? Doesn't she know that's exactly how she and her alleged accomplice will be forever known?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The Barbie bandits.

SANCHEZ: Whatever the case, here they are again, caught by another surveillance camera, this time at the hair salon, to the amazement of salon workers.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: That's them right there. And then they're going to walk over to this section.

SANCHEZ: Police now say the two young women, with the help of 22- year-old teller Benny Allen, pulled off an inside job at the suburban Atlanta bank and escaped with a considerable amount of money. All three are now charged with felony theft. But when these images were captured at the salon, the alleged teen bandits were still on the loose.

Did they seem anxious? Not according to salon manager Melissa Mathea, who says all they wanted to talk about was their planned dinner that night at the Cheesecake Factory.

MELISSA MATHEA, SALON MANAGER: They said that they had been at the pool all day. They were hanging out, so they came in with like real short shorts on and see-through tank tops and stuff. And that's the only thing that really had caught our eye about them.

SANCHEZ: And what did they talk about with their hairstylist? The same thing everybody in these parts seem to be talking about that day, the Barbie bandit case that was captivating Atlanta.

AMY COOPER: So, I was like, "Isn't that the dumbest thing you've ever heard?" I said, "Somebody would go rob a bank wearing sunglasses and think nobody would recognize them?" She said, "Yes, I know. That's crazy, right?" And then she got real quiet.

SANCHEZ: The girls are seen on tape mulling over a flat iron and splurging on some new earrings.

(on camera): Tonight, though, as they sit in jail, what they're most likely mulling over are the serious charges against them. Convictions could mean up to 10 years in prison. According to one of the attorneys that we talked to, they're expecting to plead not guilty.


WHITFIELD: Oh, boy. I'm sorry, like jaw-dropping. Can't believe it.

All right. That was CNN's Rick Sanchez.

Life looks a lot different for the two teens now. They face a litany of charges. Georgia police even claim Miller told them she was a drug dealer.

What was she thinking?

Both teens are expected to plead not guilty to bank theft.

LEMON: Can't get your roots done in jail, can you?

Well, we'll see.

Howdy, Nabors. Ed Nabors, to be precise. Mr. Nabors, America's newest Mega Millionaire, or at least its newest known Mega Millionaire, you'll meet him next in the CNN NEWSROOM.


WHITFIELD: So, two winning tickets, but still only one known winner. What's the matter with this picture?

In Georgia, new Mega...

LEMON: I'm not there.

WHITFIELD: You're not there, right. Me either.

Well, that's the new Mega Millionaire, Ed Nabors, who you just saw a minute ago. He stepped up and told the world what he plans to do first.

He wants to buy a house for his daughter. Don't you love that?

LEMON: Oh, good for him.

WHITFIELD: That's so sweet. And then there's New Jersey -- well, where there's a Mega mystery. So far, no one has stepped forward to claim his or her share of the prize, but lottery officials seem to feel pretty convinced that the ticket was purchased right here at the Camp Park Liquors in Woodbine, not far from Atlantic City.

Well, talk about decisions. The winner will choose between an annual pay-out of $7 million for the next 26 years -- that's in New Jersey -- or a lump sum of $110 million before taxes.

LEMON: How are they supposed to survive on that?

WHITFIELD: I know. It's a tough call to make.

LEMON: What about me? What about me? What about me? What about us? What about the rest of us?

Well, we plop down our cold, hard cash just like the winners. Isn't there enough to go around? Well, you bet there is.

CNN's Bob Franken has the story.


BOB FRANKEN, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice over): Forget about hard work. The real American dream is winning the lottery. You pay your money and you get to dream of unheard of wealth.

NABORS: There's a lot of things I can do.

FRANKEN: No doubt about it. He bought his ticket at a small market and gas station, one of nearly a quarter million lottery sales points in 40 states and the District of Columbia. Each state spends the money in specific ways.

The winner in Georgia will be interested to know that of the $29 billion in sales since the state lottery began in 1993, 54 percent of that has gone to prizes. About 38 percent to education. The rest for overhead.

In New Jersey, home of the other winners, the take has been around $40 billion since the 1970 beginning. Forty percent of that has gone to education, as well as medical and rehabilitative institutions. Fifty- two percent has been for prize pay-out.

As for those multi-state ventures, Mega Millions and Powerball, each state contributes a percentage toward the jackpot and keeps the rest to pay the small winners and finance the government programs.

(on camera): Nationwide, there's that old criticism that they contribute to gambling addiction. Did you know that this is Problem Gambling Awareness Week?

KEITH WHYTE, NATIONAL COUNCIL ON PROBLEM GAMBLING: People have to understand that you need to set a limit and stick to it.

FRANKEN (voice over): Lotteries are now firmly entrenched, although some states are flirting with selling them to corporations.

Our Mega Millions winners could probably care less.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Hopefully it's somebody that I know.

FRANKEN: That store owner says he has plenty of merchandise he can sell the winner, but probably nothing that will match that Mega Million ticket.

Bob Franken, CNN, Washington.


WHITFIELD: And speaking of money, a little later, questions about a presidential hopeful's stock portfolio.


SEN. BARACK OBAMA (D), ILLINOIS: At no point did I know what stocks were held, and at no point did I direct how those stocks were invested.


WHITFIELD: Details of that straight ahead in the NEWSROOM.


LEMON: This is the bottom of the hour and we start with the Walter Reed mess. It is a mess, and it has cast a pretty harsh light on the nation's military hospital system, and the treatment sick and wounded troops are getting, or not getting.

So far, 25,000 military servicemen and women have been wounded in action in Iraq or in the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. Now of those, more than 11,000 will not return to duty. And they face some very, very difficult choices.

Steve Robinson served in the Gulf War and today he's director of veterans affairs and veterans affairs, rather, for the Veterans of America. And he joins us now from New York.

Do you say that the problem here, Steve, is in transitional care, is that correct?

STEVE ROBINSON, VETERANS FOR AMERICA: Yes, it is. They get really good, state-of-the-art, world-class prosthetics, state-of-the- art burn care. Some of the best-trained, best-qualified people working on them, but then when they transition to outpatient care, they fall in this bureaucracy of having to prove that they were injured in the war, having to get paperwork, statements from commanders on the --

LEMON: Tell us about that, explain to us having to prove that they were injured, what do you mean by that? ROBINSON: Well, every soldier that's injured on the battlefield that is evacuated, there's a form that they fill out on the soldiers, I believe it's a DD form 1300. And it indicates what happened, when it happened, and that becomes part of the record.

And believe it or not, even though they've been medically evacuated, when they get to Walter Reed and they start filing for perhaps disability claims or just providing information, they have to collect and deliver to the people that process them, paperwork that shows they were actually injured in the war.

LEMON: Yes, you're talking about things like the date you were injured. Your supervisor's name or your commander's name, all those kind of things.

ROBINSON: Yes. And you know so, the American public may not understand, but that's pretty, pretty difficult for a soldier to be thinking about oh, I just got hit with an IED, I better figure out when it happened, where it happened and get all the names of the people involved so I can prove that I was injured when I get back home.

LEMON: How might you have that fixed, Steve?

ROBINSON: Well, one of the things is that we are looking for an electronic medical record. We have the capability right now to use small handheld devices. Each soldier could be issued a dog tag with a unique identifier, you just scan it through the system. You type in what their problem is, the information gets electronically sent to Walter Reed and then shared with the VA.

We've been talking about this. It's called it a personal information carrier.

LEMON: And it sounds to me like it's called coming into the 21st century...


LEMON: ... really, right?

ROBINSON: Absolutely.

LEMON: Yes. Walter Reed, the problem we've been talking about, it's not just at Walter Reed. What do you think the -- can you pinpoint some areas? What is the breakdown here, do you think, if you can pinpoint one area?

ROBINSON: Well, first it's the capacity issue. It's the sheer number of wounded coming home, not just at Walter Reed, but at every major military medical treatment facility. The sheer number of people.

We had the ability to take care of people during peacetime, and we did not surge our capacity to deliver care during wartime. And the consequence is, people are falling through the cracks. So, the same way that Colin Powell has said that the military's overstretched, our health care system is overstretched back at home, both in the DAD and in the VA health care system.

LEMON: We heard about this story, and then got tons of viewer response, from people, saying, you know what, it's horrendous. But this has been happening for a long, long time, and you experienced these problems yourself.

ROBINSON: Well, not just me, but, you know, about 35 years ago, on the cover of "Life" magazine was an article about the dilapidated hospitals, rats, mold, and mice, and wounded soldiers from Vietnam coming home and not getting the care they needed.

We are smarter than this. We don't have to have these problems. There's going to be congressional investigation. There's three different commissions that are running. I think we're going to get some action.

Secretary Gates has really stepped up and said, not on my watch. I'm not going to inherit this problem, we're going to fix it. So we're looking forward to the investigations going forward and resolving it, because we owe these soldiers everything that America can deliver to them.

LEMON: Yes, and no doubt about that. You just mentioned the delegation. Do you think that this delegation that President Bush has put together, do you think it will make a difference? And if so, do you have any advice to them as to how to make it different and better?

ROBINSON: I do. There are two very good people that have been picked to head that thing. But, my advice is talk to organizations like mine, that are on the ground, working with the soldiers.

And, really, if you want to know what's broke, talk to the soldiers that have been through the system, and the mothers and the fathers that are frustrated with the system, and they'll get some good input.

LEMON: Yes. Have you heard about any lawsuits or anything stemming from this Walter Reed investigation on your end?

ROBINSON: Well, when you're in the military, there's a -- there's a doctrine called the Parrish doctrine that basically says you can't sue the government. But I have heard rumors of people, different organizations that are trying to form class action lawsuits. I don't know that they'll do anything other than create a lot of paperwork.

It seems to me that the biggest way to fix it is to find out what's wrong and fix it. I'm not in the business of holding people accountable. I'm just going to work on trying to fix the problem.

LEMON: Well, Steve Robinson, we hope you can help fix the problem and we thank you for joining us today. Steve Robinson is the director of veterans affairs for the Veterans of America, and we certainly thank you and wish you luck.

ROBINSON: Thank you. Thank you.

WHITFIELD: Controversy on a whole different scale. Get ready for another twist in the Anna Nicole Smith saga.

A little while ago, the medical examiner in Broward County, Florida told us all to expect surprises when he releases the results of Smith's autopsy, but we're going to have to wait another couple weeks, he says.


DR. JOSHUA PERPER, BROWARD CO. MEDICAL EXAMINER: A new piece of evidence, which has to be obtained and evaluated, and it might change some of my conclusions. And, therefore, I decided to wait another week or two, until this evidence is going to be available, and is going to be evaluated and eventually submitted to us.


WHITFIELD: Dr. Joshua Perper won't say what the new evidence is, but we'll come back to that story in our next hour.

Criminal charges are expected as soon as next week, in a California case involving a baseball team and allegations of rape. Eight players at Deanza Junior College in Santa Clara County have been suspended indefinitely. All of the school's games have been canceled until further notice.

The alleged rape occurred at an off-campus party last Saturday. Police say a teenage girl who attended the party was taken to the hospital by three other guests. Hospital staff called the police.

LEMON: A terrifying landing, incinerating heat, a panicky rush to get out. Nightmares seared into the memories of the many survivors of yesterday's plane crash in Indonesia.

Here's CNN's Dan Rivers with some of their stories.


DAN RIVERS, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Looking at the ferocity of the fire, it is amazing anyone could have survived this crash. But they did.

Two-thirds of the 140 passengers and crew made it out alive. Some, running away from the burning wreckage with barely a scratch. Others, badly injured and burnt, carried away on stretchers.

Yunadi Srimulyo tells me how his hands and legs were badly scalded when he brushed against the red-hot fuselage.

YUNADI SRIMULYO, CRASH SURVIVOR (through translator): I jumped awkwardly and my hand touched the side of the plane, but it was so hot. I fell to the ground, where there was a burning puddle of aviation fuel. My body started burning. Luckily, I was wearing a leather jacket.

RIVERS: But Nuniek Sufithri was barely injured, just the odd bruise and scratch.

She says: "When I tried to escape from the plane, I fell down and people were trampling me, but someone helped me up and I jumped out of the emergency door."

But Nonook (ph) wasn't just jumping for her own life. She's 10 weeks pregnant.

She says, "When I was about to jump from the plane, I was worried about my baby, but I had no choice."

The pictures of the crash reinforce just how lucky she was. She simply walked away from the wreckage, got a taxi to take her to the hospital, where doctors confirmed her baby is fine.

(on camera): Here at the crash site, this engine is a graphic illustration of the shear violence of the impact. Both jets were ripped clean off the wings as the plane plowed into this patty field. And when you look at the fuselage, it's remarkable that anyone managed to get out alive. The top has simply melted away.

When you look at that, you've got to wonder how on earth Nonook (ph) managed to get out through the emergency exit.

(voice over): Investigators have found the plane's black box flight recorder which will be sent to Australia for analysis as people here reflect on just how incredible it is that this crash didn't kill every single person aboard.

Dan Rivers, CNN, Yogyakarta, Indonesia.


LEMON: Amazing video. The journalists are constantly sent off to cover all of those tragic scenes like the ones you saw in Dan's story, but that doesn't mean we don't feel tragedies as humans. Now Dan Rivers blogged about his experience in Indonesia. And he writes: "The randomness of who survived and who did, who did not, was particularly hard to fathom. Those awful images of people staggering away from the wreck were in all our minds as we packed up and left. We all fly almost every week, and know a crash is a remote possibility. But seeing what it's like up close made us all feel queasy."

And you can read Dan's entire blog online and get more at where Dan and our other correspondents post their experiences as they work these horrific stories.

WHITFIELD: The murder suspect's plea to prosecutors was simple. Curb your enthusiasm, the strange case of the HBO alibi, straight ahead in the NEWSROOM.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK) WHITFIELD: A welcome sign on Wall Street, green arrows all the way around and Felicia Taylor also at the New York Stock Exchange with a look at how stocks are doing. Good to see you, Felicia.


LEMON: Well, as if that wasn't entertaining enough, straight ahead, entertainment news with Sibila Vargas. Sibila, what is on tap today?

SIBILA VARGAS, CNN ENTERTAINMENT CORRESPONDENT: Oh no, I don't have props though. I've got to have props.

It's a real-life drama for actor Johnny Depp, though, comedian Chris Rock walks the red carpet at the premiere of "I Think I Love My Wife" and a former "Bond" star is singing for his next role. All ahead in the NEWSROOM.


WHITFIELD: Take a look at these pictures just coming in of a fire underway in Kansas City, Missouri. Apparently this is an asphalt refinery. We don't have the cause of this blaze. But you can see firefighters are on the scene there actively trying to put it out and control it. These pictures, thanks to our affiliate KSHB.

LEMON: Wow, we'll continue to update that story. Now we want to go to entertainment news. Johnny Depp, Chris Rock and Pierce Brosnan are among the names in today's entertainment news and so is Sibila Vargas, of course.

VARGAS: Hey, Don.

Well, I want to start with some kind of sad news, actually, our prayers definitely going out to Johnny Depp today. His 7-year-old daughter is in serious condition at British hospital. The actor and his partner Vanessa Paradis have been at the side of Lily Rose for more than a week now. It has not been reported what the nature of the illness is or when she's expected to be released. CNN has received a statement from Depp and he says: "We are happy to report that our daughter is doing much better. Our family greatly appreciates the continued support and respect of our privacy."

The couple, who live in France, were in England for the production of Depp's latest movie, the big-screen version of the hit musical "Sweeney Todd." The 43-year-old's family also includes their 4-year-old son Jack, and we are definitely wishing them the best. Back to you, guys.

LEMON: Oh yes, absolutely.


LEMON: Now on to some other news now. Rumors about Chris Rock's marriage being a little bit stormy.


LEMON: Could they stem from the theme of his new movie, "I Think I Love My Wife?"


LEMON: I just interviewed him a little bit ago, and he said, my wife is beautiful. I love her. So, is it true?

VARGAS: Yes, while the funnyman has been married to his wife Malaak Compton for more than 10 years now, and he's been fending off rumors that there has been trouble in paradise, and like you said, they vehemently deny those rumors. Rock, who wrote and directed the film "I Think I Love My Wife," however, was sure of one thing last night, in which he shared with his co-star, Steve Buscemi.


STEVE BUSCEMI, ACTOR: I don't remember ad-libbing. I'm sure he did. He is pretty good at it.

CHRIS ROCK, ACTOR: Two thumbs-up. A comedy, that never happens.

BUSCEMI: That's great.

ROCK: Annihilated.


VARGAS: He sure is funny. Rock plays a married man who has the seemingly perfect life with a wife and two kids, but he's bored and when a gorgeous old friend re-enters his live, havoc ensues. "I Think I Love My Wife" opens nationwide next Friday, March 16th, and it looks like it might be good.

LEMON: Yes, he came here a little bit ago, Sibila, and everyone in the newsroom was just dying. All you do is just wind him up and he keeps going.

VARGAS: I know, he's great.

LEMON: On another note...

VARGAS: ... And he's down to earth, too. I like him.

LEMON: Absolutely. Absolutely. Very unassuming. Let's talk about Pierce Brosnan, music in his future, I'm told?

VARGAS: That's right. The man famous for saying, "The name is Bond, James Bond," may have to brush up on his singing, Don. Pierce Brosnan has joined the cast of the film version of "Mamma Mia." The hit Broadway musical will star Meryl Streep as a mom whose daughter is about to get married and wants her father to walk her down the aisle.

The problem is it could be one of three men, and one of which is played by Brosnan. The actor said he jumped at the chance to act alongside Streep on some Greek island and sing Abba tunes like "Dancing Queen."

And who wouldn't? I mean come on, Greek islands with Abba tunes and Meryl Streep? What's not to like?

Well, shifting gears tonight on "SHOWBIZ TONIGHT," Rosie's depression confession. As Rosie O'Donnell reveals her battle with depression, "SHOWBIZ TONIGHT" investigates how what Rosie and other stars are going through could help everyone dealing with matters of the mind. The revealing story on TV's most provocative entertainment news show. "SHOWBIZ TONIGHT," 11 p.m. Eastern and Pacific on "Headline Prime." Back to you, Don.

LEMON: 11 p.m. Eastern and Pacific. You know what I'll be doing? Watching "SHOWBIZ TONIGHT" and Sibila Vargas.

WHITFIELD: Sounds like a deal.

VARGAS: All right.

WHITFIELD: Well talk about a made for TV whodunit. A former murder suspect will get almost one-third of a million dollars from the city of Los Angeles? Why? Well, he owes it to HBO. Outtakes from the cable show "Curb Your Enthusiasm" proved that Juan Catalan was at Dodger Stadium in 2003, and not 20 miles away at a scene of a murder as prosecutors have alleged.

Before the footage surfaced to support his alibi however, Catalan had sat in jail for almost five months accused of killing a 16-year- old girl. Someone else is now charged. Catalan will collect $320,000 to settle his lawsuit for police misconduct.

LEMON: Oh, life on the edge. A whole new way to see the Grand Canyon, if you're not afraid of heights. Glass-bottom perch, straight ahead in the NEWSROOM.

WHITFIELD: And Democrats propose a new plan to get American troops home from Iraq by the end of next year. But Republicans are going to have something to say about that. We'll speak to one of them, coming up in just a few minutes from now. Congressman Duncan Hunter of California. The news keeps coming. We'll keep bringing it to you. You're watching the CNN NEWSROOM.


LEMON: A birds-eye view on the Grand Canyon at your feet. Look at that. Fred went, whoa. Take a look. A glass-bottom walkway now loops over the western edge. Would you walk on that?

WHITFIELD: I think I'd crawl.

LEMON: Yes, it's called the skywalk and it opens to the public later this month. A Native American tribe hopes the walkway will lead them out of poverty and they're charging $25 for the breathtaking view. That's in addition to the other fees.

Environmentalists and some dissenting tribe members are critical of the $30 million tourist attraction. They say it diminishes one of nature's greatest wonders.

The next hour of the CNN NEWSROOM starts right now.