Return to Transcripts main page

CNN Newsroom

Discussion of Dom Imus Statement; Large Storm Covers South;

Aired April 14, 2007 - 16:00   ET


FREDRICKA WHITFIELD, ANCHOR, CNN NEWSROOM: So, Los Angeles or Chicago? We're just moments away from finding out which U.S. city could be going for the gold.
And then, Don Imus' remarks and the discussion that they have reignited. A discussion about the power of words and who can say what.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We discover that tangled power lines around us are not dead.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Everybody all right?


WHITFIELD: And the big story right now, severe weather. We've got the latest on the damage done and what storms lie ahead.

Hello, everyone. I'm Fredricka Whitfield. You are in the CNN NEWSROOM.

Our stop story right now, the huge and extremely dangerous storm that has got much of the South running for cover. This monstrous system has it all - hail, heavy rains and high winds - and the potential to produce deadly tornados.

Let's go right to Jacqui Jeras, who is in the weather center. And already we know that it has spawned some tornadoes. Just more could be on the way.

JACQUI JERAS, AMS METEOROLOGIST, CNN WEATHER CENTER, ATLANTA: Yes. We had one report earlier this morning.

This afternoon has been a little bit quieter, but the threat is still out there. We do have a tornado warning in effect for Lowndes County, Alabama, for a very strong cell just to the south of Montgomery.

The favored area today is southern parts of Alabama and the panhandle of Florida on over to parts of Mississippi. So, a dangerous situation developing here, with a lot of hail also being reported with some of these storms - it's up to the size of golf balls - and also damaging winds a good possibility. Here's that Lowndes County storm, just to the southwest of Montgomery. And yes, the storm is pushing up to the north and to the east. So, it could be moving into the southern suburbs of Montgomery, so you need to be aware of that storm heading your way. And if those sirens go off, you need to take this seriously.

Right now, as the Doppler radar indicated, tornados. But I'm sure storm spotters are out. If they see anything and we get something on the ground, of course, we will let you know.

I do want to show you what we can expect here in terms of what's going to happen in the future with this storm. It's going to be moving up towards the mid-Atlantic states and then on into the northeastern corridor, and this looks like it's going to develop into a very strong nor'easter type storm.

Interior parts of the Northeast can expect to see some heavy snow - up to a foot, you can see - in parts of Upstate New York. And then coastal areas are going to be dealing with some very heavy rain and some very strong winds forecast over the next 24 to 48 hours, showing you some of these reds and oranges, as well. That means three to four inches of rainfall here.

The winds could be as strong as a tropical storm, 50 to 60 mile per hour gusts, especially strong out here towards the Cape, into the Boston area, also over towards the Sounds areas.

So, this could be a very significant event for those that live in the Northeast in terms of flooding, strong winds and power outages.

Any more tornados, Fred, we'll let you know.

WHITFIELD: All right. Thanks so much, Jacqui. And because of that warning in the Northeast, that's why some cities are taking no chances.

For instance, New York City - it lies right in the storm's projected path. The metropolitan area is expected to get several inches of rain and wind gusts of up to 50 miles an hour.

Mayor Michael Bloomberg says city emergency crews are right now preparing for the worst.


MICHAEL BLOOMBERG, MAYOR OF NEW YORK CITY: It is projected at the moment to be a very serious storm that requires our full attention. Heavy rains and strong winds are expected to begin tomorrow morning around 8 a.m., continuing till about tomorrow night at 8 p.m.

But it will be the storm's high winds combined with already high tides that gives us greatest cause for concern, and that is coastal flooding.

(END VIDEO CLIP) WHITFIELD: And already, damage and death in North Texas, where the aftermath of a powerful storm, including an apparent tornado, battered parts of the Dallas-Fort Worth area. Officials report at least two people killed.

Jim Douglas, of our affiliate WFAA, has more.


JIM DOUGLAS, REPORTER, WFAA-TV, DALLAS-FORT WORTH (voice-over): White Settlement, a little before 6 p.m., black clouds drop and start to churn.

Radar indicates rotation right above our heads, but there's no funnel, just a brief, hard blast.

We chased the storm east to Haltom City. A large funnel has descended around Haltom Road and 121. It sucked up motor homes and tractor trailers at an R.V. center, shredding some, stacking others three stories high.

But as we try to shoot more, we discover that tangled power lines around us are not dead.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Everybody all right?

DOUGLAS: One more jolt for residents, who saw the twister coming.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I was terrified. I was screaming at him, telling him to turn to the right.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: And then he says, "Oh, that's not birds. That's trash and debris. Get in the house. It's a tornado."

It was just fast and terrible.


WHITFIELD: And another big story today is the recovery of New Jersey governor, Jon Corzine. We have just confirmed that investigators have tracked down the driver of a vehicle that they believe was involved in the crash.

At last report, Corzine is in critical but stable condition. Today he underwent the second of three scheduled operations to fix his left leg, which was broken Thursday night in the highway accident.

CNN's Jim Acosta has the latest.


JIM ACOSTA, CNN CORRESPONDENT, NEW YORK (voice-over): Authorities had suspected a red pickup truck caused the crash that nearly killed New Jersey's governor. But now, according to the Associated Press, state police say the driver of that pickup, a motorist with special needs, will not be charged.

Investigators believe the pickup was driving erratically, forcing a third vehicle to swerve and clip the governor's vehicle, causing the accident.

Two days after the crash, Corzine's doctors performed the first of two scheduled surgeries on the governor's severely broken leg. Even though Corzine remains on a ventilator, unable to speak and unaware of his surroundings, doctors called the procedure a success.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He is back in the trauma intensive care unit in stable condition, and his vital signs are slowly - I will reiterate "slowly" - improving.

ACOSTA: The horrible injuries to Jon Corzine only underline the need to wear seatbelts. A spokesman for the governor says Corzine may not have been buckled up while he was en route to the meeting he had arranged between radio personality Don Imus and the Rutgers University women's basketball team.

Still, doctors handling the governor's care see reasons for cautious optimism.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He is doing well, much better than any of us would have expected from a respiratory standpoint. And during the course of the next two days we'll be starting to see whether or not we can allow him to be a little bit more awake.


ACOSTA (on camera): It may be six long months before Corzine can walk again, and days, perhaps weeks, before he can resume his duties as governor.

His doctors should know more about his long-term prognosis after his next surgery, scheduled for Monday - Fredricka.

WHITFIELD: And Jim, what, if anything, do we know about this driver?

ACOSTA: Well, I just got off the phone with a public information officer for the New Jersey State Police, and he tells me that right now this driver is not being charged, but the investigation is ongoing.

And so, for the moment, they are sticking with his statement. He has indicated that the reason why he did not stop and render aid or talk to the police about this is, he just didn't think he was involved in the accident and kept driving.

WHITFIELD: All right. Investigation continues. Jim Acosta, thanks so much from New York.

Turning now to Iraq, where more than 50 people were killed today, the victims of a pair of car bombings. One targeted a major bridge in Baghdad, the other a crowded market in the Shiite holy city of Karbala.

More now from CNN's Kyra Phillips.


KYRA PHILLIPS, CNN CORRESPONDENT, BAGHDAD: We actually got video from the scene of that explosion in Karbala. It was airing on Iraqi TV when we first heard about this car bomb that had exploded in the Karbala area.

It was a very busy morning. Shops were starting to open up, a very busy marketplace in Iraq.

And we're told that right now 43, at least 43 people have been killed, about 140 injured. Those are the numbers that we have received so far, when this parked car bomb exploded.

Also today, a popular bridge here in the Baghdad area, the Jadriya Bridge in central Baghdad neighborhood. Extremists were able to do very little damage. However, 10 people were killed and 15 were wounded in that.

This is the second time that extremists have targeted a major bridge in the Baghdad area.

There are 11 bridges that actually line the Tigris River, a very popular way for Iraqis to get back and forth to work and to visit family and friends.

So, the second bridge within 48 hours, extremists have been targeting. Security, obviously, among the Iraqis and U.S. troops have been beefed up around those other nine bridges.

Kyra Phillips, CNN, Baghdad.


WHITFIELD: And today people are poring over a new cache of Justice Department documents related to the firing of eight U.S. attorneys.

Late yesterday, the Justice Department released nearly 2,400 pages of internal documents and e-mails. One is from Attorney General Alberto Gonzales, former chief of staff, Kyle Sampson, as well.

And it contradicts his testimony to Congress, that he didn't have replacement candidates in mind for the prosecutors who were asked to resign.

Meantime, right now, happening in Washington, the decision over whether two U.S. cities will indeed have their Olympic dreams fulfilled today.

Los Angeles and Chicago are both hoping to be named as the domestic choice of the U.S. Olympic Committee to compete against an international lineup of host cities for the 2016 summer games.

Olympic officials are announcing their choice in Washington. Let's listen in right now.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: ... proud of the effort that they've put forth in this process. The cities can be proud of their delegations and how they're represented their city and the best interests of their city and what their cities have to offer to the Olympic movement.

Now, we will have two winners in this process today, because we've got two great bids. Ultimately, we have to select one city. But both of these cities have put a tremendous amount of patient, commitment and energy into the Olympic movement and into this process.

And the ultimate winners are the Olympic and Paralympic athletes in our country, the Olympic movement in our country and the Olympic movement worldwide.

We will leave here today and will enter a race of the international ...

WHITFIELD: We're going to continue to monitor the decision that the USOC may make right out of Washington there, where they will be announcing whether it's Los Angeles or Chicago to be the domestic choices that will then be up against a host of other international cities to determine who will host the 2016 Olympic games.

Meantime, the ongoing wars in Iraq and Afghanistan have led to extended tours of duty for U.S. troops. If the U.S. military is stretched too thin, is now the time for a draft? Some people say yes, and we'll discuss the issue straight ahead in the NEWSROOM.

Plus, who's allowed to say what and where? Don Imus may be gone - at least off the airwaves - but his remarks have triggered a fresh new debate about the use of language in music and film.

We'll tackle the issue in about 20 minutes from now.

And thousands of students battling over who has the top 'bot, right here in downtown Atlanta. We'll take you there in 40 minutes from now.

And again, live pictures right now out of Washington, D.C., where apparently the decision over whether it's Chicago or L.A. to be in the running to host the 2016 games.

Let's listen in.

PETER UBERROTH, CHAIR, U.S. OLYMPIC COMMITTEE: If I had all power - and sometimes people accuse me of that ...


... I would take the map and merge the two cities, because, I'll tell you what. If you could take mayors of these two communities and have them run our country, we would all be better off. And we - you know, either city can win. And we wouldn't have gotten into this race unless we thought so.

Why did we get into it? We got into it, because we wanted to reestablish the United States of America and the international Olympic movement. We've lost - we lost our pace over the years, and we think that now is the time that we can host the athletes of the world again.

And both of these cities can do that.

We also had three other cities in the finals - Houston, Philadelphia and San Francisco. And they did a terrific job. And frankly, they could also operate in Olympic games.

But these two final cities are as good as it gets. And they would put on great games here in the United States.

I guess - we have the envelope?

Thank you.

Ladies and gentlemen, at this time, I am proud, very proud, to announce, the United States applicant city for the 2016 Olympic and Paralympic Games is Chicago.


WHITFIELD: All right. Very exciting for the City of Chicago.

Now, wait a minute, people. Don't get too excited. It doesn't mean that Chicago is going to be the host of the Olympic games in 2016.

It means that Chicago is in the running against a host of other international cities, from Prague to Rio de Janeiro, to Rome, St. Petersburg, Tel Aviv - all of those that cities - that Chicago is now the U.S. choice to run up against these other competing nations and cities to host the 2016 games.

And that decision will be made a couple of years from now, in 2009.

Meantime, in the 5 p.m. hour, we will be talking to Chicago's Mayor Daley about what it means for the City of Chicago - for the first time ever - if it were indeed to win the Olympic games. It would be the first time it would actually host the games.

We'll be talking to him in the 5 o'clock hour about this small victory, to be the U.S. city picked to run up against many other international cities before the final decision is made for the summer games in 2016.

All that and more.


WHITFIELD: With the U.S. military stretched to the breaking point, some are saying it's time to bring back the draft.

New York congressman, Charles Rangel, has proposed reinstating the draft on several occasions. He says it would bolster U.S. troop levels and make military service more equitable.


REP. CHARLES RANGEL, D-NEW YORK: If we had the children of affluent Americans, those from the Pentagon, the White House and the children of CEOs, this would not happen.

In the first place, they wouldn't be over there.


WHITFIELD: Congressman Rangel said the draft would make politicians think twice before launching future wars. But the White House is against reinstating the draft. And many in Washington say the idea is a non-starter.

CNN's Kathleen Koch joins me live from the White House.

So, who is it up to to make this decision, anyway?

KATHLEEN KOCH, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT, THE WHITE HOUSE: Well, I think you've named a couple of people - the president, Congress. And for them and for most Americans, any talk of the draft brings back visceral, negative images of the Vietnam War.

President Bush, his administration, they insist that, in their minds, Iraq is no Vietnam War. It is no quagmire. There is no need for a draft.

They believe that the all-volunteer force is working, and the Pentagon agrees. The Pentagon points to the latest recruiting and retention figures, both for active duty and for the National Guard, that show that they are meeting or exceeding their goals.

The question really becomes, at what cost?

Last year, in 2006, the U.S. Army had to pay $736 million in retention bonuses to keep soldiers in the Army, to keep them from leaving. Now, that's nearly nine times what they had to pay just three years earlier in 2003.

Also, the Army has been forced to lower its standards in order to meet those recruiting goals. It's accepting a larger number of recruits who have scored low on aptitude tests, who don't have high school degrees, or who have a history of drug use or even criminal records, Fredricka.

WHITFIELD: All right.

Well, let's talk about these test drives for the draft. It has been taking place for at least a year now.

They continue. Why?

KOCH: Well, what the federal government wants to do - the Veterans Administration decided, well, we'd better test out the machinery in case, at some point in the future, Congress or the president were to decide we needed a draft.

And so, what they are planning on doing is running a test of the system on the machinery. The system basically randomly chooses the draftees by their birth date, and then it also involves a network of appeals boards who decide how to handle conscientious objectors, others who don't want to or can't serve.

And this test - at least a full-fledged test - isn't actually scheduled until 2009.

WHITFIELD: So, why would the test even be conducted, if it didn't mean that it were imminent?

KOCH: Well, that was one of the questions that come up in December, when the Veterans Administration talked about going forward with the test. It did make a lot of people nervous.

But they said it's sort of like greasing the wheels of a machinery, starting up a car you've had in storage for awhile. You have to do it every once in awhile to make sure it still works - just in case.

WHITFIELD: All right. Kathleen Koch, thanks so much, from the White House.

So, we want to know what you think. What do you think about reinstating the draft? E-mail us at

We'll share some of your e-mails a little bit later on in the program.

And with the war in Iraq now into its fifth year, and with tours of duty being extended, some soldiers have had enough. In fact, many are actually walking away.

Desertion rates have been increasing. And as CNN's Gary Nurenberg reports, the Pentagon is beginning to pay attention.


GARY NURENBERG, CNN CORRESPONDENT, WASHINGTON (voice-over): The face of a deserter.

It was the 9/11 attacks that spurred the patriotism of then- college student, Phil McDowell.

PHIL MCDOWELL, ARMY DESERTER: I did join the military because of the September 11th attacks, and, you know, put my skills to work in the military to help my country.

NURENBERG: McDowell served a year in Iraq, thinking it was necessary to depose Saddam Hussein.

MCDOWELL: I did believe that it was a just cause at the time. I thought that was something that - our country was under attack and then he was facilitating these attacks, and that he was a threat to us.

NURENBERG: Then, McDowell changed his mind.

MCDOWELL: All those allegations were false about the weapons of mass destruction and the ties to al Qaeda and Saddam Hussein and 9/11.

NURENBERG: Disillusioned, McDowell finished his tour, picked up his separation from service paperwork and was stunned to be told the rules had changed and he was being called for another tour.

He deserted and fled to Canada.

MCDOWELL: I definitely don't have any regrets. It's a really hard decision to make to stand up for what you do believe in.

NURENBERG (on camera): Army desertion rates rose in fiscal year 2005, rose again in 2006, and are higher still so far this year.

The Army says the main reasons are dissatisfaction with military life, family problems and homesickness.

BRIG. GEN. JAMES MARKS, U.S. ARMY-RET.: The added challenge that we have right now certainly is the number of deployments, the fact that you might be going back to combat for a second or a third tour.

NURENBERG (voice-over): That combat can take a toll.

KYLE SNYDER, ARMY DESERTER: What drew the line for me was one mission in particular, where I had witnessed an innocent civilian shot in front of me.

NURENBERG: Kyle Snyder also fled to Canada. Other deserters, like Mark Wilkerson, stay in the United States and face military justice - in Wilkerson's case, seven months in prison and a bad conduct discharge - although the Army is seeing more cases of desertion.

ROY WALLACE, DIRECTOR, PLANS AND RESOURCES, U.S. ARMY: When you go back and look at before the war even started, we're right about where we always have been.

NURENBERG: With the vast majority of American troops choosing not to desert.

Gary Nurenberg, CNN, Washington.


WHITFIELD: Something else we're watching closely here, the weather situation in much of the Southeast. Jacqui Jeras is in the severe weather center. JERAS: Yes, Fred. We just got word from the storm prediction center that they're likely to issue another tornado watch before the top of the hour.

We'll tell you who's vulnerable, coming up next.

WHITFIELD: All right. Thanks so much, Jacqui.

And speaking of storms, also ahead, possibly big trouble for a major insurance company which could lead to millions of dollars more for Hurricane Katrina victims.

You don't want to miss this story. That's in the NEWSROOM 10 minutes from now.

And then later, the royal split. They look so perfect together, they say. But now, no mas.

We'll bring you the latest on the royal breakup between Prince William and his longtime girlfriend.

You're watching CNN, the most trusted name in news.


WHITFIELD: The Don Imus controversy drew reaction from the highest-ranking woman in U.S. government.

Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice says it was disgusting for Imus to use insulting language to describe the Rutgers women's basketball team.

In an interview with talk show host Michael Medved, Rice said, the basketball players were "showing that they're really fine athletes playing under extraordinary pressure," and their deeds were "ruined" by Imus' "disgusting" remarks.

The comments made by former radio host Don Imus are now part of America's ongoing dialogue about race. While the main issue was with a 66-year-old white man's comments about young black women, some are now making a side issue of what young black men can say about young black women.

That angle now from CNN's Tom Foreman.


TOM FOREMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): If you were disturbed by what Imus said, cover your ears.

Top-selling rap artists use the same words all the time - glorifying violence, drugs, promiscuity - and denigrating women.

Imus was fired, but listen to what people close to the hip-hop world are saying about rappers. CORY "COCO BROTHER" CONDREY, HOST, SPIRIT OF HIP HOP RADIO ONE: I think what has to happen is, we've got to actually stand with him, you know, not beat him up side the head, not judge him, but just stand with him and actually walk with him.

FOREMAN: Russell Simmons, the legendary music producer, issued this statement.

"Hip-hop is a worldwide cultural phenomenon that transcends race and doesn't engage in racial slurs. ... We are concerned by the false comparisons ... between Don Imus and hip-hop. ... Hip-hop artists rap about what they see, hear and feel around them."

But researchers say rappers are also shaping their world. A study by the Prevention Research Center, which studies health issues, found that young fans of rap and hip-hop are more likely to have problems with alcohol, drugs and violence. And the Black Youth Project at the University of Chicago found that African American kids themselves overwhelmingly say rap songs portray black women in offensive ways.

So others are now asking should Imus be the only one held accountable for airing such words?

MICHAEL HARRISON, "TALKERS MAGAZINE": Why don't we fire all the executives at all the record companies who have been signing and promoting all of these rap artists who have been saying these insulting word about African Americans and women for all these years?

PAUL PORTER, INDUSTRYEARS.COM: No doubt about it, we should hold everybody accountable. And most of the times, the thing that over -- gets overlooked is the corporations. I mean, corporations are the ones who are profiting from this.

FOREMAN: If the issue was Don Imus and a few ill-chosen words, the story is done. But if the issue is many others saying the same words and worse to much bigger audiences, the story is just beginning. Tom Foreman, CNN, Washington.


WHITFIELD: A CNN Opinion Research Poll find most Americans think Imus' remarks were offensive. But African Americans and whites differ on how they view the talk show host. More than half of African Americans consider Imus a racist. Only about a third of whites feel that way.

And as for rap's numbers, as the genre's influence soars, sales are sliding. In 2006, for the first time in 12 years, no rap album was among the top 10 best sellers. In fact, rap album sales plunged last year, falling 21 percent from 2005.

And in the first quarter of this year, sales were off more than 33 percent from the first quarter in 2006.

Some feedback now on our question of the day, which is, should the United States reinstate the military draft? Here are the results so far. Of the QuickVote. Thirty-six percent of you voted yes, the draft should be reinstated. Sixty four percent of you voted no. Later on in the program we'll read some of your e-mails on the subject as well.

Another scandal on the horizon involving an e-mail trail, this time involving a major insurance company which allegedly tried to skimp on payments to hurricane victims straight ahead here in THE NEWSROOM.

And coming up, you heard the cheers. The folks at the USOC announcement in Washington, DC. It's Chicago will now be up against a host of international cities in the bid to host the 2016 games. Well, Chicago Mayor Daley will be joining us in the next hour to tell us about his reaction what the city had to do in order to win that bid.


WHITFIELD: Tornadoes are a big problem right now. Jacqui Jeras is in the weather center.


WHITFIELD: All right. That's a big storm on the way. Thanks so much, Jacqui.

Now to an e-mail trail possibly leading to millions of dollars for victims of Hurricane Katrina. Mississippi's attorney general says he has proof one insurance company did its best to pay the least amount in damage claims after the storm. CNN's Kathleen Koch reports.


KATHLEEN KOCH, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Less than two months after Katrina, State Farm called and threatened to fire an engineering firm it had hired to evaluate damaged homes because several reports cited wind instead of water damage, meaning State Farm would have to pay up.

E-mails obtained by CNN show a debate between company executives over what they have to do to keep the contract. Quote, "I managed to get us back on the rolls with State Farm but we need to have a very frank discussion with the boys down south."

The firm's Mississippi engineer says CEO Bob Kochan are seen by a female State Farm manager as, quote, "too emotionally involved and were all working very hard to find justifications to call it wind damage."

Vice President Randy Down objects. Quote, "I really question the ethics of someone who wants to fire us simply because our conclusions don't match hers. What about the fact that State Farm would love to see every report come through as water damage so that they can make the minimum settlement."

CNN has obtained a report the company did on one home before the e-mails that found, quote "interior damage primarily due to wind."

After the e-mails, the engineer responsible was pulled from doing State Farm work and the firm did a new report finding, quote, "the damage predominantly caused by storm surge and waves."

Mississippi attorney general Jim Hood says the e-mail shows State Farm was pressuring the engineering firm to change its reports.

JIM HOOD, MISSISSIPPI ATTORNEY GENERAL: I think document clearly shows what they were up to, that they were coercing their engineers, they were colluding in an attempt to not properly pay claims.

KOCH: State Farm denies that in an e-mail response saying its employees are quote, "committed to conducting themselves in an ethical and appropriate manner. Any suggestions to the contrary are simply wrong."

Kochan in a phone interview also denied his company was coerced.

BOB COCHAN, CEO, FORENSICS ANALYSIS AND ENGINEERING CORP.: State Farm never specifically asked us to change anything.

KOCH: CNN reached Down, who has left and started his own firm. Was this normal for insurance companies who you had as clients after just a couple of months of work to call and complain about the results that they were getting and ask you to fire engineers? Did this happen on a regular basis?


KOCH: Despite his outrage in the e-mail, Down says his concerns were eventually resolved.

DOWN: I'm not aware of anything, you know, that was done inappropriate.

KOCH (on camera): Still Mississippi's attorney general believes the e-mail documents will help thousands of Mississippians who have gone to court or are considering to go to go to court to force State Farm to pay for hurricane damage to their homes. Kathleen Koch, CNN, Washington.


WHITFIELD: It was reportedly supposed to be a done deal. The prince was supposed to be marrying his longtime girlfriend as early as this summer. Well, now, separation, split, break-up, kaput, the latest on their parting of ways in just five minutes from now.


WHITFIELD: England's most eligible bachelor, back on the market, ladies. Word out of the U.K. today that the prince and his longtime girlfriend, Kate Middleton, are parting ways. One of the reasons being given, the intense glare of England's media spotlight. Well, what did you think? CNN's Fionnuala Sweeney has the latest from London.


FIONNUALA SWEENEY, CNN CORRESPONDENT: This is the news that Britain woke up to this morning. The headline in the tabloid "Sun" newspaper announcing Prince William and his longtime girlfriend Kate Middleton were about to split up. The decision was reached apparently after a conversation this week in which the two decided that their future would not be together.

Kate Middleton, who is 25, is living in London, while Prince William, who is in the military is based in the English countryside. It's thought that separation did not help matters. Also, she's been under intense media scrutiny the past few months, indeed the media predicting an engagement was imminent.

I asked the author of the report in the "Sun" who broke the story, Duncan Larcombe, whether now that she's no longer his girlfriend Kate Middleton would remain in the public eye.

DUNCAN LARCOMBE, "THE SUN": I think now that this story is broken possibly Kate Middleton's place in the public eye will continue for some time. She will always now be known as William's first love, the woman who could have been queen. It didn't work out. And in some ways, that's even more of a heartbreaking story than just the standard, she gets married and they live happily ever after.

SWEEENEY: There has been no official word from Buckingham Palace or Clarence House about the latest revelations. They as always refuse to decline on any matters concerning private lives of the royal family. But it is believed now that the two, after a period of some months and some discussion, have decided to go their separate ways. Fionnuala Sweeney, CNN, London.


WHITFIELD: So take a look at this live picture.

Where's the hat? Reynolds, you disappoint me, my man. I was looking forward ...


WHITFIELD: It was taken away? By one of the robots there?

WOLF: It was scaring children and it's gone, which is definitely a good thing. We're coming to you live from the Georgia Dome for the 2007 First Robotics Championship. We're coming up to the final round. We'll give you the very latest coming up right here on CNN.


WHITFIELD: So who wouldn't want to live a long, healthy life? For most of us, the answer is definitely a no-brainer. Our chief medical correspondent Dr. Sanjay Gupta has tips for achieving longevity in his new book "Chasing Life." But does he practice what he preaches?


SANJAY GUPTA, CNN CORRESPONDENT: No one on record has outlived French woman Jeanne Calment, whose life-spanned 122 years before her death.

Admittedly, that's a tough global record to beat. So will you come close? One scientist has developed a formula, a kind of calculator to forecast life spans. It's a prediction to tell you when your life might end.

How can you live better today to be here longer? How is it done? I wanted to find out. Take a look.

(voice-over): I'm 37. And this forensic age progression by artist D'Lynn Waldron shows how I might look if I'm lucky enough to reach the century mark. Handsome, right? I wanted to know if I have what it really takes to live to 100 or even beyond.

To see how my life stacks up, I turned to one of the world's leading experts on centenarians, Dr. Thomas Perls.

Perls has devised a formula to predict how long you'll live. And he agreed to follow me over the course of a day. At the Gupta home the day starts early.

(on camera): Last night I didn't get out of the operating room until very late so I only had about four hours of sleep.

(voice-over): Wrong answer. For most people, Perls says sleeping fewer than eight hours a night will cost you a year and a half at night.


GUPTA (on camera): No. Not a coffee drinker.

(voice-over): Bingo, much better. Perls says more than two cups of coffee a day will trim life expectancy by a year or more.

As we drove to work something else had him worried.

PERLS: So you're a neurosurgeon who decide to take on another full-time job. So two full-time jobs and then two babies. So automatically on the calculator in terms of stresses, you'd be off the charts.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: That's the 8:40. Nothing about their brains.

PERLS: In terms of number of hours how many would you say you're working?

GUPTA (on camera): Well over 80. (voice-over): Perls tells most people to work less, fewer than 40 hours a week if they can.

PERLS: How many days a week do you exercise?

GUPTA (on camera): I try to do at least three or four.

(voice-over): This interview a workout. Regular family time, yes, add years. Blood pressure, good. Cholesterol not so good.

(on camera): My cholesterol is not great. It's 209.

PERLS: We'll punch your numbers in and see what comes out.

GUPTA (voice-over): Could I look forward to 100 candles on my birthday cake or was I headed to an early grave.

(on camera): So I spent the entire day with c Perls and I have my results. But if you want to know how long I'm going to live, you have to watch my special this weekend. That's a tease.

Also, if you want to see how long you're going to live go to life.



WHITFIELD: Call it the battle of the robots. Have you ever seen anything like it? Thousands of students actually are competing in Atlanta because they are the ones who have engineered, designed, come up with these inventions on the robotic scale. Our Reynolds Wolf is checking out the action. And they're applauding the kids. And I know they're glad to see you.

WOLF: Yeah, I would hope so. It's been a lot of fun. Certainly great for me to see them.

They've just been wonderful and they've come from all across the globe. We're about to get started, so I'm going to step out of the way and let you see these teams.

We've got teams on each side of the small arena that you see, some of them from places like Farmington Hills, Michigan, a few of them from Central Florida. They've got the robots, made their way up from the bottom ranks to the final six that we have here and they're about to get things going underway. They've made final preparations, they've been fine tuning the machines. Many have been damaged by striking other robots. This is going to be just it.

These kids have worked very hard to get to where they are, not just working individually as teams. And this is the culmination of all the work.

Now in just a few moments, we're going to get things under way. If we're not able to catch all that, we'll get great video for you and share that footage with you throughout much of the evening.

And of course coming up very soon, we will have the winners for you and those -- an interview with them coming up this evening as well. That's the latest we have for you from the Georgia Dome. I'm going to send it back to you in the studio and still, Fredricka, the orange hat is on the way.

WHITFIELD: OK. 'Cause, you know, we're counting on it.

WOLF: Absolutely.

WHITFIELD: Thank goodness for robots because a lot of our cameras here are robotic now. So we're all getting used to the world of robots.

WOLF: There's no question.

WHITFIELD: Reynolds, thanks so much. We're going to find out about the winners from this competition. That's coming up throughout the evening.

Rick, you're going to help bring it on.

RICK SANCHEZ, CNN ANCHOR: That's exciting. Is that what that was about? I was trying to figure it out. I got it.

WHITFIELD: He made it very clear the competition of these robots.

SANCHEZ: We're going to talk about the weather and we're also going to be talking about something important at 10:00. Let me tell you about the weather first. We've got some amazing video. Don't know if you've seen it but we get the I-Reporters that send a lot of stuff. This is hail like perhaps you've never seen it before. It goes on for a long time. You hear the sirens in the background, see the cars going by. It's bouncing on the sidewalk like a baseball. You know how when you hit a golf ball and you hit the cart part, you guys that play golf, you know that. That's what it's doing, like bouncing up in the air and skipping away.

And then tonight at 10:00, Atlanta Airport, Hartsfield, one of the busiest in the world, certainly a place millions of people go through. Imagine if there's not only people who are using the bathrooms for illicit sex, but if they catch one of the named public officials who's supposed to run the building doing just that, allegedly.

WHITFIELD: Pretty scandalous stuff.

SANCHEZ: Amazing story.

WHITFIELD: Yeah, it is.

SANCHEZ: We're going to have it right here at 10:00.

WHITFIELD: Pretty surly stuff. SANCHEZ: Are you excited about that or are you excited to go home?

WHITFIELD: No, it's intriguing, yeah.

SANCHEZ: Thanks, Fred.

WHITFIELD: Thanks a lot, Rick. Oh, that Rick, he's dangerous sometimes, I tell you.


WHITFIELD: You are. All right. Coming up next this hour as well, to draft or not to draft? There doesn't seem to be a simple answer out there. We've been getting a lot of viewer e-mails on the subject throughout the day. We're going to be reading some of those e-mails for you coming up in THE NEWSROOM.


WHITFIELD: We've gotten a lot of responses from our e-mail question of the day. Should the U.S. military bring back the draft? Many of you responded and Joshua Lev (ph) has been monitoring the feedback.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Hey there, Fred. These responses are passionate and real quickly I'm going to give you a few of them that represent the sample we've been getting. I'm barely able to go through all of these.

Let's see. Leisha in Georgia says to us, "I don't want my son in harm's way because of Bush's mistake." That's her take on the draft.

Next, Greg in Racine, Wisconsin. "I have two sons and two daughters and believe the draft should have been reinstated after 9/11. I cannot understand how are military leaders and government officials could not see this shortage of manpower in our armed forces before going over there."

And finally, Fred, this interesting idea for this time of year comes from Jim in West Mifflin, PA. Take a look at this. "Give every person who serves honorable in the military a lifetime deduction of 50 percent of their yearly income taxes and you won't need a draft."

It's an interesting proposal this time of year. Keep your responses coming. We will keep the reading them. We will bring some more to you later on.

WHITFIELD: All right, thanks so much, Josh, we love to get the feedback. Thanks so much.

All right, Rick Sanchez is straight ahead with more of THE NEWSROOM, and Rick, we know you've got a lot on tap.

SANCHEZ: We do as a matter of fact. We're going to be looking at a bunch of things today. We're going to be talking about the weather certainly. That's something that's going to be a huge issue as far as it's affecting a lot of the people here.

Also we're going to be talking about something tonight that's going to be quite interesting for you.