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Tear in SS Atlantis Exterior; Bush in Vatican

Aired June 09, 2007 - 11:00   ET


CHETRY: And Greg (ph) says the response to that story, T.J., was so overwhelming, the people really felt for the two who lost their daughter, Alexei (ph), donating pool alarms for this charity to give away.
And, T.J., you can watch Greg's report, find out more on pool safety and some tips at

HOLMES: And important tips, important time for everybody. Kiran, thank you so much, ma'am. And remember, folks, you can catch "AMERICAN MORNING" with Kiran Chetry and John Roberts weekdays 6:00 to 9:00 a.m. Eastern.

BETTY NGUYEN, CNN ANCHOR: A live look at the CNN NEWSROOM as news unfolds here on this Saturday, June 9th. Good morning, everybody. We have a lot to tell you.

I'm Betty Nguyen.

T.J. HOLMES, CNN ANCHOR: And I'm T.J. Holmes. A first pause for concern, liftoff leads to a tear in the space shuttle's exterior. So how big a problem is this for the astronauts?

NGUYEN: Also, the president and the pope. It was all handshakes and smiles, but what did these two really talk about today?

HOLMES: Also, we'll go from the Vatican to Paris. Yes, that Paris. The socialite is back in jail, but for how long this time? You are in the CNN NEWSROOM.

NGUYEN: We're going to start with this. Concern at NASA today following last night's launch of the Atlantis space shuttle. That launch went smoothly, but scientists have detected a tear in the thermal blanket which is part of the system that protects the shuttle during reentry.

CNN space correspondent Miles O'Brien joins us by phone to talk about the importance of this, how big of a concern it is, and if it indeed is a huge concern.

Miles, what do you know?

MILES O'BRIEN, CNN SPACE CORRESPONDENT: Betty, it's kind of early, but about four-and-a-half hours after that flawless launch -- near flawless countdown, beautiful weather there at the Cape, in a routine television survey of the exterior of the Space Shuttle orbiter Atlantis exterior, crew in Mission Control in Houston spotted a very distinct triangular, what appears to be a tear or at least bunching of the two-inch thick thermal blanket material.

These thermal blankets are, if you can see in the -- as before it zooms in there, it's on the kind of hump-shaped area. Immediately to the left of the tail of the Space Shuttle Atlantis, that's about three-and-a-half inches on its longest leg there.

And as I say, the blanket there is about two inches in depth. The good news in all of this is that these blankets are not used in the most critical spots. In other words, the relatively cool spots on the orbiter, on the bottom side where you see black tiles, or on the leading edge of the wing where we have that breach in the heat shield that caused the loss of the Space Shuttle Columbia back in February 2003.

Temperatures there can reach 2,000, even 3,000 degrees whereas on the -- and by the way, this falling foam has nothing to do with what I'm talking about. We don't have any reason to believe this foam had caused any damage, just to be clear with people. But in any case, the temperatures where that triangular tear or bunching occurs reached perhaps 600 degrees maximum on reentry.

And so, as a result, off the top, engineers don't have a huge amount of concern as some of them have been telling me this morning, as I've been calling around, no one has their blood pressure up here very high over this. Having said that, this will be topic number one at today's mission management team meeting.

They will discuss what the possibilities are, what kinds of damage it might cause to that outer skin of the orbital maneuvering system, that big rocket housing and decide if the crew needs to do anything about it -- Betty.

NGUYEN: All right. We'll be watching, Miles. Thank you for that report -- T.J.

HOLMES: Well, today the president and the pope. President Bush continued his European tour with a visit to the Vatican and his first audience with Pope Benedict XVI. CNN's Rome bureau chief Alessio Vinci joins us now live.

Hello to you, Alessio.


The Vatican and, of course, also Italian political leadership, including Prime Minister Romano Prodi. And you know, there were concerns here in Italy over the past few months that relationships between the United States and Italy had deteriorated ever since Romano Prodi, a center-left coalition leader, had taken over for the conservative Silvio Berlusconi, well-known, of course, in the United States.

But today's meeting really appeared to be certainly aimed at dispelling those concerns as the president arrived at Palazzo Chigi, the prime minister's office. The atmosphere looked extremely jovial, relaxed and very friendly. The two leaders addressing each other on a first name basis.

The U.S. president thanked the Italian prime minister for his commitment in Lebanon and in Afghanistan where Italy has a sizable troop deployment there. And the prime minister also again stressing that two countries share the same position on many of the international crises, including of course Iran, Sudan, and Kosovo.

Earlier in the day, as you mentioned, the U.S. president went to the Vatican to meet Pope Benedict XVI. That's the first meeting between the two leaders, a meeting during which the president said he was in awe.

The war in Iraq, of course, a major concern here at the Vatican. The pope once was quoted as saying that nothing good is coming, nothing positive is coming out of that place. The pope in particular worried about the fate of the Christian population there. Just a tiny minority there, 2 or 3 percent out of 26 million (INAUDIBLE) there.

But they are caught in the middle of this sectarian violence and they are persecuted by the Muslim majority there and there's a lot of concern, of course, at the Vatican in recent weeks, a Catholic priest was killed, another one was kidnapped. So the Vatican really stressing a lot on that issue. But the president said that the two leaders did not speak only about war. Also, about how to help the African population.


GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Our attempts to help the people in Africa deal with HIV-AIDS and malaria and hunger, I reminded him that we're -- we made a significant commitment to that end, that about three years ago 50,000 people were getting anti- retroviral drugs and now 1,1 million people are getting them as a result of our initiative on HIV-AIDS. And then I'm going to double it -- that commitment and ask Congress to double the commitment from $15 billion to $30 billion.


VINCI: And all of this is happening as several thousand protesters are gathering at several locations in downtown Rome, kept under close watch by just as many policemen deployed throughout the city. A massive police presence here. You probably can hear helicopters overhead of us.

There were some concerns that protests could turn violence. But so far, everything seems to be under control -- T.J., back to you.

HOLMES: All right. Alessio Vinci for us in Rome, thank you so much, sir.

NGUYEN: Funeral services in Wyoming today to tell you about for former U.S. Senator Craig Thomas. The 74-year-old Republican was diagnosed with leukemia last year just as he was being elected to a third term. President Bush praised the late senator as a guardian of national parks. Following today's services in Casper, Wyoming, Thomas will be buried tomorrow in Cody, Wyoming, where he grew up.

Well, Defense Secretary Robert Gates is recommending Admiral Mike Mullen to be the new chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. Mullen is chief of naval operations and if confirmed he'll succeed General Peter Pace. Gates says he wanted to support another term for Pace, but he concluded that Pace would have faced a difficult confirmation fight in the Senate.


ROBERT GATES, DEFENSE SECRETARY: I am disappointed that circumstances make this kind of a decision necessary. As I say, I just think that a divisive ordeal at this point is not in the interest of the country or of our military services, our men and women in uniform, or the individuals. I wish that that were not the case. I wish it were not necessary to make a decision like this. But I think it's a realistic appraisal of where we are.


NGUYEN: General Pace was closely involved in planning the war in Iraq and he has been Joint Chiefs chairman for two years and was vice chairman for four years.

HOLMES: Paris Hilton woke up in jail this morning. A judge ordered her back behind bars yesterday ending her brief release on house arrest. Hilton was in tears as she was returned to jail. The judge apparently unmoved by pleas from her three attorneys. Hilton had only three days of a 23-day sentence that she served when the L.A. County sheriff released her Thursday because of an unspecified medical condition.

Well, comedian David Letterman may be a bit uneasy today. Montana prison officials say a man once accused of plotting to kidnap Letterman's 1-year-old son has escaped. Kelly Frank there was arrested in 2005 for the alleged scheme. Kidnapping charges, however were eventually dropped, but Frank was sentenced to 10 years in prison for lesser charges.

NGUYEN: Well, if you are planning to fire up that grill for some hamburgers today, listen up, because a beef recall is occurring in 12 states, 40,000 pounds of ground beef pulled off shelves at Wal-Mart stores. Tyson meat company recalled the beef, saying it may be contaminated with E. coli bacteria. The states affected are, take a look, Alabama, Arkansas, Colorado, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri, New Mexico, Oklahoma, Tennessee, and Texas. No illnesses have been reported.

HOLMES: Well, the preacher's wife learns her sentence. How long will the Tennessee woman spend in prison for killing her husband?

NGUYEN: And running a quick errand ends in death for a Kansas teenager. Ahead in the NEWSROOM, some insight into this tragic story.

JOSHUA LEVS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: A federal court has struck down FCC rules involving swear words on television. So should you expect your favorite shows to start cursing up a storm? I'm Josh Levs. I'm going to have that story coming up in the "Reality Check" here on CNN, the most trusted named in news.


NGUYEN: She shot and killed her preacher husband, but it's unlikely a Tennessee woman will serve much time in prison. Mary Winkler could have gotten six years but a judge ordered her to serve 210 days and gave her credit for the five months that she has already spent in jail. And that leaves about 60 days. She'll be allowed to serve that time in a mental hospital. Winkler says she had been physically and mentally abused by her husband.

Well, The Hartford Courant newspaper reports a new twist in the story of a Connecticut girl who was found after a year. The paper says police are sifting through home made porn tapes found in the house of a man accused in that case. Adam Gault and two others were arrested Wednesday after a 15-year-old girl was found locked in a room at their house.

She had been missing for a year. Gault, Ann Murphy and Kimberly Cray, you see them here, are charged with unlawful restraint, reckless endangerment, and risk of injury to a minor. The girl's mother says she is not sure why her daughter ran away a year ago.


JENNIFER HESSE, GIRL'S MOTHER: We're really not sure at this point why. She has always been a very good child. She has always had really high marks in school. Perfect attendance. We're not clear as to why she decided to leave.


NGUYEN: The girl now is under the state's care and more info in the noon hour when we talk with Steven Goode, a staff reporter at the paper.

HOLMES: Well, a week ago, Kelsey Smith was a new high school graduate, her whole life ahead of her. Then she disappeared after leaving a store in suburban Kansas City. Since then the teenager's body has been found and a man charged with kidnapping and killing her. Benita Williams is following this case for The Kansas City Star. She is here to bring us up to date.

Good morning. Thank you for being here with us. Do we have any idea, are police saying at all why this girl died? Any motive behind the suspect at least that they have, any motive behind why he did this? Or was this just a random crime?

BENITA WILLIAMS, STAFF WRITER, KANSAS CITY STAR: No additional motive has been revealed at this time. It appears to be purely random. We've asked repeatedly and they've told us repeatedly that they have not found any relationship link or any type of ties between two. HOLMES: What can you tell us about the circumstances that day and how she was killed? I guess from the time she was taken until the time she was killed, what do police believe went down?

WILLIAMS: Well, they believe that basically we had -- according to the videotape, from both the Target store and from a major mall right across the street, you have Kelsey going into the store before 7:00. She calls her mother while she is inside of the store even to talk about where to find something that she wants to purchase.

Then you have her leaving at about 7:00 and you see her car turning left instead of right, which would be the way that she was supposed to go home. Then the family, because this family is so close, they have a rule that if the children are leaving one location, going to another, that they were to check in. And she didn't. She didn't respond to text messages from her boyfriend. And then the odd thing is that her car returns about two hours later and it's parked at a mall across the street.

HOLMES: Oh goodness. What do we know now about this suspect? Edwin Hall, no connection that they -- that they're saying right now to the victim. But who is this? I was surprised to read that he's married and has a child, sounds like he has a family home and a family life. What do we know about this guy?

WILLIAMS: Married, has a child, was seen that day riding his motorcycle, hugging and kissing his wife, playing with his little boy just hours before this crime took place. His adult record, when you check, has no violent criminal history. It is sort of peppered with a few financial problems, but nothing of a huge, major nature.

However, when you delve a little deeper into his background, you find that he was possibly a troubled teenager. He had been convicted of threatening his adopted sister with a knife when he was 15 years old and there have been statements by that sister that eventually the family felt that they were in danger and that they had to put him back in state custody, he spent three years in a juvenile facility.

HOLMES: And like you said, those are in his teen years. But are his neighbors and things shocked now? You said he was seen kissing and hugging his wife that day. Were people shocked to know that this guy is the suspect and think he's capable of anything like he has been accused of?

WILLIAMS: The neighbors are very shocked. Some of them are still in disbelief. Some of them don't believe that he is the person. I mean, but no one that we've spoken to who has known him say within the last few years, could ever fathom that he would do anything like this.

HOLMES: And again, he's the only suspect that the cops have, they don't believe it's anybody else they're looking for, he's the only one they have had.?

WILLIAMS: This is what they're saying. Although they are still looking for additional tips as if they are still needing evidence on this case. But, no, they believe that he is the person. They are saying that he looks like the person of interest in the tape, that his truck was seen coming and going at the right times. And there has to be a little bit more linking him to the case at this time. But they haven't revealed this. At least we're waiting to see what that evidence is.

HOLMES: Not revealing that just yet. Strange case here, sad case.

WILLIAMS: Very strange.

HOLMES: Benita Williams from The Kansas City Star, thank you for giving us an update on this story here. Thank you.

WILLIAMS: You're welcome.

HOLMES: Well, and coming up here, we've got a war of words over cuss words. What a court says about the FCC's ban on cussing.


NGUYEN: Well, have you seen this yet? At least five tornadoes touched down in Wisconsin yesterday, no major injuries are reported, but hundreds of homes, businesses and farm buildings were damaged and thousands of customers went hours without power. Ten buildings at a resort near White Lake, Wisconsin, were destroyed.


HOLMES: Well, there's some things you just can't say on TV, or can you?


NGUYEN: Look at the facial expression? Can I really, really?

HOLMES: Can I get away with that? A federal appeals court this week struck down FCC policy on indecency.

So, Joshua Levs, does that mean...

NGUYEN: ... that we can say...

HOLMES: ... whatever?

LEVS: Do you know when I took on this story, I knew how much fun this one was going to have. I didn't realize how much fund this one was going to have with it, but man, we're having a field day...

NGUYEN: I don't say those words.

LEVS: Never. And T.J. doesn't either. Do you?

HOLMES: No. But we do keep soap here to wash our mouth out.

LEVS: Some time I'll "Reality Check" that. All right. Check this out folks. Here's the deal. It was a big decision this, made by a federal court involving rules over when swear words can be said on television. The court struck down these FCC rules saying that they just may be unconstitutional.


LEVS (voice-over): Cher used the F-word at the 2002 Billboard Music Awards. The next year, at the same ceremony, came this: the words were not bleeped.

NICOLE RICHIE: Have you ever tried to get cow (expletive deleted) out of a Prada purse? It's not so (expletive deleted) simple.

LEVS: They're called "fleeting expletives." Traditionally, the government did not go after networks for these lives situations, but President Bush has taken a tougher stance against indecency. Congress passed and he signed a bill multiplying the maximum fine by ten, up to $325,000.

BUSH: It's going to help American parents by making broadcast television/radio more family-friendly.

LEVS: But is it legal for the FCC to fine for fleeting expletives? A federal appellate court in New York ruled no, because the FCC has not provided a reasoned basis for changing its policy. The court also noted the FCC was OK with swear words when "Saving Private Ryan" played on network television. The court said the FCC's subjective rules may violate the First Amendment.

And the court said the words at issue aren't always used literally, to describe sexual or excretory activities, words the FCC can regulate. The court noted how President Bush used the S-word in a conversation with Tony Blair that was caught on a microphone, and how Vice President Cheney told Senator Patrick Leahy to, you know.

FCC Chairman Kevin Martin slammed the court's decision in a statement using both words in "multiple times." He said children watch at certain hours and he fears that if the FCC cannot block these fleeting expletives, Hollywood will be able say anything at any time. That fear is nothing new.

In 1939, producers of "Gone With the Wind" had to pay a $5,000 fine for using the D-word.

CLARK GABLE, ACTOR: Frankly, my dear, I don't give a damn.


LEVS: This battle really exists in every single generation. And what you're seeing now, fleeting expletives, is just the latest incarnation of it. And the FCC can -- they can appeal this. So it might change. But in the meantime guys, don't expect award shows to be running away from some of the rebellious stars out there who just might say anything when they are out there collecting those awards.

NGUYEN: Oh, and now that they know it, they're probably going to say it.


HOLMES: Speaking of just might say anything, the potential is always here with us.

NGUYEN: Right. Bombs could go off at any moment.

HOLMES: But for a case like Betty's, she is on cable right now.

NGUYEN: Right.

HOLMES: So does that help her in her future employment?

NGUYEN: So what can I say?

LEVS: Well, according to the FCC, there's really nothing they can do about anything. This is interesting, the FCC...

HOLMES: Don't tell her that.


LEVS: But the big bosses upstairs could. So I'm sure (INAUDIBLE). Here's the deal though. It's actually really interesting. In 86 percent of homes where people watch TV, they're watching it over cable or satellites. And all of these FCC rules began with the theory that the networks are broadcasting over the public airwaves, which can therefore be controlled.

So as things change, as more and more homes switch over to cable and satellite, the thought of the FCC even having a strong impact on what people see on TV is quickly washing away. And that could be one reason that some people are pushing hard for those last vestiges where the FCC can make a difference.

NGUYEN: Get the heck out of here.


NGUYEN: See, I edited myself.

LEVS: That was nice. Heck, you can do that.

NGUYEN: I don't talk like that. I'm not a potty mouth. Don't believe anything you say.

HOLMES: Josh, we do appreciate it. It's helpful, really. We appreciate it.

NGUYEN: Whatever.

HOLMES: Well, up next, the U.S. military talking about a breakthrough in the search for those two missing soldiers in Iraq. And new clues to who may have done it. The massive hunt isn't letting up. That story ahead right here in the NEWSROOM. NGUYEN: And those passport problems. Summer vacation plans on the line.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You can't even reschedule because you don't know when we're going to get our passports.


NGUYEN: But, there is help and it's on the way. We're going to explain.


HOLMES: We've got a quick look at what's happening right now in the news.

NGUYEN: Yes, the shuttle "Atlantis" is on its way to the International Space Station but scientists are concerned about that right there, a tear in the thermal blanket. Part of the system that protects the shuttle when it re-enters the earth's atmosphere.

HOLMES: With millions of vacations potentially in jeopardy because of delays in issuing passports, the government says relax because they are going to relax travel requirements from now through September. Americans can use a driver's license and passport application receipt for travels to Canada, Mexico, Bermuda and the Caribbean.

Still missing in Iraq. Thousands troops are focused on find two missing American soldiers. CNN's Brian Todd reports the exhaustive search may finally be paying off.


BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): For the first time in nearly a month, U.S. officials talk of a breakthrough in the search for two missing American soldiers in Iraq. They say massive deployments of U.S. and Iraqi forces have worked around the clock to gather intelligence and.

BRIG. GEN. KEVIN BERGNER, MULTINAT'L FORCE IRAQ: That intelligence and that information has led us to be able to identify 17 named individuals who either planned or executed the attack on our soldiers. And we have subsequently been able to detain three of those individuals that we -- that were involved.

TODD: General Kevin Bergner says the multinational force is conducting what he calls the appropriate questioning to get information from those captured.

U.S. military officials provided CNN with pictures of militants in black masks, but it's not clear if they're the ones taken into U.S. custody. The images are apparently from a video released by the Islamic state of Iraq, which claims responsibility for the attack and showed what appeared to be the military IDs of the missing soldiers, specialist Alex Jimenez and Private Brian Fouty.

Four U.S. soldiers and an Iraqi were killed in the May 12th ambush at an observation post south of Baghdad when Jimenez and Fouty went missing. The body of another soldier, private first class Joseph Anzak Jr. was found 11 days later.

General Bergner was cautious when asked what the U.S. has learned about the abduction and those responsible.

BERGNER: The operational aspects of how they conducted the attack and specifically who was involved and the possibility that information could lead us to locate our missing soldiers is what we're all focused on.

TODD: General Bergner says sharing any more than that might compromise the safety of the missing soldiers. Brian Todd, CNN, Washington.


HOLMES: A car bomb attack in Baghdad today killed two people, including an Iraqi police officer. Six other police officers were wounded. Also in that neighborhood, an attack by gunmen killed a second police officer. Elsewhere in Iraq today, a U.S. soldier died after being wounded by small arms fire in Diyala Province.

NGUYEN: Well, an undercover sting captures an international arms dealer suspected of arming terrorist. Syrian born Manzer al-Kassar now faces extradition from Spain to the U.S. He's charged with conspiring to support terrorists and kill the U.S. soldiers.

U.S. officials say undercover agents struck a fictitious arms deal with al-Kassar, posing as members of a Colombian guerrilla group. U.S. officials say that agents told al-Kassar they wanted missiles to, quote, "take down U.S. helicopters."

The Atlantis space shuttle crew will conduct inspections today on a section of the shuttle's skin that may have been damaged during yesterday's launch. Take a look, a photo shows a tear in the thermal blanket that protects the shuttle during re-entry. NASA scientists say they aren't overly worried.


WAYNE HALE, SHUTTLE PROGRAM MANAGER: It looked look a typical, small piece of foam that we have been losing off the area near the bracketry of the external lines that run outside the tank. It was at the very end or just past the aerodynamically-sensitive time. And in so, that is something that we have come to understand and expect.


NGUYEN: Atlantis is scheduled to dock with the International Space Station tomorrow afternoon.

HOLMES: Well, planning to travel outside the U.S. this summer but can't get your passport? Relax. Help is on the way. The Bush administration is temporarily suspending some of the post 9/11 regulations that have been tying up the process.

Travelers heading to Canada, Mexico, Bermuda and the Caribbean can make the trip with a photo I.D. and proof that they've applied for a passport. Now what are other travelers facing? Here now, CNN's Allan Chernoff.


ALLAN CHERNOFF, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Diana Perez is in a panic five days before her family's scheduled flight to Colombia, South America. The family's luggage is packed but her children's passports have yet to arrive, even though Diana applied for them nearly four months ago. So she's been calling the passport agency each morning at the crack of dawn.

DIANA PEREZ, WAITING FOR PASSPORT: I started calling 6:01, 6:02, 6:03, the whole morning, I spent like over two hours on the phone.

CHERNOFF: Even worse than negotiating the agency's automated phone system is the fact that Diana and her husband, Orlando, spent $1,500 on airline tickets they may be unable to use.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You can't even reschedule because you don't know when we're going to get our passports.

CHERNOFF: The Perez family is not alone. As summer vacation season begins, the U.S. passport agency is overwhelmed, swamped with a record number of applications. Why? Well, the U.S. toughened passport policy in January, now requiring citizens to carry a passport when flying to Canada, Mexico and the Caribbean.

WANDA NESBITT, BUREAU OF CONSULAR AFFAIRS: We did not know exactly what the level of increase would be and so our predictions fell a little bit short. And that's why there's currently a little bit of a crunch.

CHERNOFF: The crunch, though, wasn't a complete surprise. The State Department's passport agency had more than two years' notice. It was back in December 2004 that Congress approved tougher passport rules, part of its response to 9/11 Commission recommendations to tighten homeland security. The State Department did beef up the passport agency, expanding facilities and hours, hiring 280 extra passport reviewers, even asking retirees to come back to work. The number of people who actually review each application or each renewal is how many?

NESBITT: About 700 right now.

CHERNOFF: And this year you expect to process 17.5 million passports?

NESBITT: That's right. It's pretty efficient.

CHERNOFF: Sounds like not enough people.

NESBITT: As I said, we're in the process of hiring more.

CHERNOFF: About 300 more. Plus, they're starting up this brand new passport printing center in Hot Springs, Arkansas though it won't be fully operating until year's end.

NESBITT: We are doing everything possible to make sure that we meet the increased demand that is clearly out there.

CHERNOFF: The State Department acknowledges applicants now wait 10 to 12 weeks to get their passports, far longer than the prior wait time of six to eight. Passport officials say Diana Perez's four-month wait time is the exception. Travelers with an upcoming trip do get priority. And the vast majority of Americans are getting their passports in time to travel even if the documents arrive with just a few days to spare. Next year, even tougher rules kick in requiring passports for Americans crossing the Canadian and Mexican borders by car, which is sure to further increase demand for passports. The State Department says it's doing everything possible to meet the extra workload but is making no promises there won't be further delays next year. Allan Chernoff, CNN, New York.


NGUYEN: Well, nearly six years after 9/11, there is still a legal battle over a memorial.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: If there's a price for it, the downpayment has been paid, 40 lives were given for this land.


NGUYEN: The land is in Shanksville, Pennsylvania and some say the owner of the land wants to profit. But he says it's a matter of livelihood. The story ahead in the CNN NEWSROOM.

And just in time for the summer vacation before you pack your swimsuit, you have to know where the best beach is. We're going to show you where exactly it is. Comparing the beaches across the nation, find out which is No. 1.


HOLMES: Morning after jitters at the nation's airports. Air travelers hit by huge delays on Friday after a computer glitch quickly spread throughout the system. The problems were fixed by 11:00 a.m., but by then flight across the East Coast were either canceled or delayed. At one point, flights into LaGuardia Airport in New York were delayed for nearly four hours.

NGUYEN: Well hopefully they're there by now. A major dispute brewing in Shanksville, Pennsylvania, and it centers around the field where United flight 93 crashed during the September 11th terror attacks. At issue, how much is hallowed ground worth? CNN's Alina Cho has the story.


ALINA CHO, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Nearly six years later, they still come to this remote field in Shanksville, Pennsylvania, to see for themselves where United flight 93 crashed on that fateful day, a place where one day this memorial will be built. But nothing will happen until the land is sold.

PATRICK WHITE, COUSIN DIED ON FLIGHT 93: If there is a price for it, the down payment has been paid. Forty lives were given for this land.

CHO: Patrick White's cousin Joey Matthew (ph) was among the victims. He says the man who owns the land wants to profit to the tune of $10 million from what is now hallowed ground, a figure far above market value. The families say they offered to buy the land for more than a half million dollars, but were rejected by land owner Mike Svonavec.

MIKE SVONAVEC, FLIGHT 93 LAND OWNER: I can't afford to give it away. It's an asset of my corporation.

CHO: Svonavec says he never demanded $10 million and just wants to settle on a fair price. If anything, he says he's losing money. Three months ago, when Federal funding ran out for security, Svonavac says he began paying $10,000 a month for his own security guards. So this week, he set up a donation box which further angered the victims' families and the National Park Service which manages the temporary memorial and put a plastic bag over the box.

JOANNE HANLEY, NATIONAL PARK SERVICE: We didn't feel it lent itself to the dignified setting and the solemn setting we were trying to convey to our visitors.

CHO: Family members, like Debbie Borza, who still wears her daughter's ashes around her neck, call the donation box and Svonavac's desire to make money on the land offensive.

DEBBIE BORZA, DAUGHTER DIED ON FLIGHT 93: I don't think there is a dollar figure that would ever satisfy him.

CHO: Svonavac owns 273 acres in all, including the most critical piece of land, the four acre crash site. He has maintained from the very beginning that he will not accept money for the actual crash site. It's the surrounding land that's in dispute. And nothing will be done here until that land is sold. A $58 million memorial is planned with a ribbon cutting ceremony scheduled for the tenth anniversary of the attacks. Alina Cho, CNN, Shanksville, Pennsylvania.


NGUYEN: All right, we're going to shift to a completely different subject. It's an interesting question that may have you thinking, yeah, what's the answer to that? For instance, why do light bulbs usually blowout when the light switch is turned on and not off?

HOLMES: And why does your skin get wrinkled after you've been in the water? We'll try to get answers to the hard-hitting questions.

NGUYEN: I know that you've been wanting to know.

HOLMES: That guy right there, he has the answers. He has a new book call "Why Don't Penguins' Feet Freeze". We would ask him why in the world he took on this project. That's coming up next.


NGUYEN: OK, do you lie awake at night wondering why Cheerios stick to the side of the bowl or why your skin gets wrinkled after you've been in the water? Well, there is a book just for you and it's called "Why Don't Penguins Feet Freeze?" Interesting title, it has dozens of quirky questions just like the ones that we sent you.

And it's from "New Scientist" magazine. The man with all of the answers, he joins us now live. Ivan Semeniuk and he is in Watertown, Massachusetts. You know, this book is really interesting, Ivan. I've been looking at some of the questions in here and the answers that readers actually came up with. And then of course you determine if these indeed were correct. The title of the book, "Why Don't Penguins Feet Freeze?" Where did you come up with that?

IVAN SEMENIUK, NEW SCIENTIST MAGAZINE: All of these questions, including the title question, as you said, these all come from the readers of "New Scientist." So just to explain, "New Scientist" is a weekly magazine of science and technology. We reserve the back page every week for questions from our readers, intriguing, perplexing, humorous questions about the world of science, just the world of natural phenomena. And instead of trying to answer them ourselves or corralling experts to answer these, questions we let readers themselves take a stab at answering them. So we usually get multiple answers to most of the questions.

NGUYEN: Well so how do you know which one is right? Do you have a resident expert to say, this person, nailed it right on the head?

SEMENIUK: People always ask about this and the was best answer is this is Wikipedia before Wikipedia. We're finding incorrect answers is not our problem. We have got so much expertise among our readership. They're basically competing to explain the right answer the most correctly.

And of course, some of the questions don't have one right answer. You know, some of the questions, it's open for debate even among scientists. And so we publish more than one answer to kind of illustrate the landscape of disagreement.

NGUYEN: I got you. We have some of those questions and a lot of them really do make you go, yeah, what's the answer to that?

First one, and we've been teasing it, why do Cheerios stick to the side of the bowl? Why does that happen?

SEMENIUK: OK, so that's surface tension. A very quick explanation is the water in the milk that's in the cereal bowl, the surface tension is pulling down and out on those Cheerios, so when they're floating in the middle of the bowl, they more or less stay at the same place.

But that sideways force when the Cheerio moves to the side of the bowl where there's a little bit of an upward slope and that milk is rising to meet the edge of the bowl, there's an imbalance in that force and you very quickly see it drift to the side.

You can reverse this effect, one of our readers pointed this out if you fill the bowl until the milk is almost bulging out. So it's just about to spill over, now the bulge is in the opposite direction and lo and behold, the Cheerios fly in. It's amazing.

NGUYEN: Interesting, now this is a smart book. OK, here's another thing. Why do -- why does the skin on your fingers are become wrinkled after prolonged immersion of water? We've all had this after taking baths or swimming.

SEMENIUK: Exactly, and why the fingers first? What is special about the fingers?

So of course all skin can absorb water if it's been immersed for awhile. And as it absorbs water, it actually starts to expand.

So that's where the wrinkling comes from, the skin is actually stretching out. It doesn't have room, so it starts to wrinkles. But it happens on the fingertips because that's where the skin is thicker, where it's more porous, after abrasion from all the things you touch is actually kind of opening up the skin a bit more. So you've got this kind of puffy porous layer on your fingertips and that's where the wrinkling happens first.

NGUYEN: OK quickly, let's get to this because it's one of the most offbeat questions that you've received. Here it is, I don't know why they asked it, but how can ants survive in a microwave? I guess your readers are sticking ants in microwaves.

SEMENIUK: Well I have to say, I have not done this experiment, but we've got some good answers to explain why that might be. The waves in the microwave tend -- the energy in those waves tends to drop to zero, as you get to the edge of the microwave cavity.

So probably an ant has a lucky shot, if it's close to the edge of the microwave. Also, there are standing waves in a microwave that some areas have a lot of energy, some don't. So if an ant is nimble enough it might find a place where there's not as much energy.

NGUYEN: So the answer is, they got lucky.

SEMENIUK: Yes, exactly, or they're very, very smart.

NGUYEN: The last thing we want to know, and it's really the title of your book, why don't penguins' feet freeze?

SEMENIUK: Well penguins have a little bit of a heat exchange system going on in their legs. So they're pumping warm blood into their legs, but their main problem actually is to not pump too much heat because then they'll start dropping their core temperature.

So the outgoing blood kind of breaks up into a network of arteries that's passing by the return blood coming up the other way and the heat gets exchanged there before it goes into the feet.

So the feet are kept just above freezing, just above the frostbite level but not too hot so that they're losing all of the heat.

NGUYEN: Oh, it makes perfect sense.

SEMENIUK: Very, very clever penguins, too.

NGUYEN: All right, Ivan Semeniuk with the "New Scientist" magazine, thanks so much for answering some of these really interesting questions. And there are what, 114 more in the book, looking forward to reading that.

SEMENIUK: And more every week.

NGUYEN: Thank you.


NGUYEN: Take care.

HOLMES: OK, now we know.


HOLMES: And Betty and I are going to go toss some ants in the microwave and take a quick break. We'll be right back.


GERRI WILLIS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Teach your kids about money now, it could pay off down the road. Once they learn how money works they'll be more careful spending it. Sit down and do some budgeting together. You probably don't want to reveal all of your monthly expenses, but how about planning a trip to the grocery store to demonstrate financial restraint?

Giving your kids an allowance will show them how to save up so they can afford the bigger things and make them do chores to earn the dough. I'm Gerri Willis and that's your tip of the day. For more, watch "OPEN HOUSE" every Saturday 9:30 a.m. Eastern right here on CNN.



HOLMES: Well, we've got a new best beach in town to tell you about. Not in town here, but in the country.

This one here, it's in North Carolina, would you believe? It's called Ocracoke. It wins the honor from Dr. Beach, who's a Florida professor who rates U.S. beaches and he says this one in particular has 14 miles of unspoiled, undisturbed shoreline that's so remote, his staff didn't know where it was and that makes it the best beach in the country.

NGUYEN: All right, well we've been asking for your opinion on the Paris Hilton story all morning long. And here's what some of you have had to say so far.

The first one coming to us from Glen and he writes: "Send Paris copies of all of these emails while she's in jail. Especially the ones sent from people who have lost a loved one because of a drunken driver. Bet that would rock her world."

HOLMES: Also, another one here from Chet that says: "After nine years as an officer, I have to say that I am appalled to see so many celebrities getting a slap on the hand for the crimes they commit. Paris Hilton and her attorneys are milking the system. She needs to learn like everyone else who is not a celebrity that there are consequences to his or her actions, and everyone should be equal even when it pertains to the law."

NGUYEN: And Jim writes: "Paris Hilton must have feelings. You know what all this TV coverage can do to affect her life. Think about it, if it was you or me, it is bad enough going through this without TV coverage. Find a real story and leave this poor girl alone."

HOLMES: Well, there you go.

NGUYEN: A variety of views and we have seen them all today with the e-mail questions, a lot of you sending your thoughts and we do appreciate it. We'll have another one for you next weekend.