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Cheney's Surgical Procedure; Phoenix News Chopper Crash

Aired July 28, 2007 - 11:00   ET


T.J. HOLMES, CNN ANCHOR: Well, hello there, everybody.
You are in the CNN NEWSROOM.

The news unfolding live here on this Saturday, the 28th of July.

Hello to you all.

I'm T.J. Holmes.

BETTY NGUYEN, CNN ANCHOR: Yes, good morning, everybody.

I'm Betty Nguyen.

News helicopters following a live police chase collide midair.

So, what went wrong?

HOLMES: Also, a brutal home invasion this week. Three members of a prominent family killed. This hour, a town mourns.

NGUYEN: And you don't want to miss this. Not one or two, but four waterspouts in Florida.

We're spinning it all right here in the CNN NEWSROOM.

Well, in the competitive environment of television news and in the supercharged intensity of covering breaking news, getting the best pictures can be a consuming priority. And that can have tragic consequences.

Look at this -- just as it did in Arizona.

Two television news helicopters covering a car chase in Phoenix collided in midair, leaving four people dead and investigators looking for answers.

CNN's Carol Costello reports.



UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We're not sure which helicopters they were.

CAROL COSTELLO, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Thick, black smoke in a Phoenix park as horrified witnesses watched two TV helicopters crash in midair and fall into flames on the ground.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I was standing right inside the park when I seen two helicopters -- what looked like they were in midair and they crashed.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I heard like a loud gunshot. And then about two seconds after that, there was a real loud, like a huge bang and then just two helicopters coming straight down, falling in about three different areas and bursting into flames and debris is all over the place.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I was devastated.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He's coming up to Third Street and Osborn...

COSTELLO: According to local TV affiliates, the news choppers were following a police chase on a Phoenix highway. Police say a suspect had stolen a city vehicle and at one point jumped out of that car and into another vehicle on the highway. Police say it was at that point the helicopters collided.

Our affiliate, ABC 15, is reporting its pilot Craig Smith and its photographer Rick Krolak are dead. KTVK is reporting pilot Scott Bowerbank and photographer Jim Cox were killed.


HOLMES: Now, Christopher Jones was arrested in that high speed chase. Police say he may be held responsible for causing the deaths of the helicopter news crews. He's already facing charges for vehicle theft and resisting arrests. Both local news stations are allowing viewers to leave their condolences for the families of the victims. has a special look at their crew, Scott Bowerbank and Jim Cox. There is a similar tribute set up for Craig Smith and Rick Krolak. For that, you can go to

NGUYEN: We do want to give you a look at what people on the ground saw just after that crash. This is I-Report video sent from Thomas Looper. Now, he was two blocks away when he started shooting the scene on his cell phone.

Another witness offered this account.


RICK GOTCHIE, WITNESSED CRASH: When they came down, it was like slow motion, as I was running and pieces were flying everywhere. And it hit the ground and just exploded. The blue one hit first and exploded. And there was fire and smoke and then the other one hit the ground and it was by the lake. And it exploded. And I couldn't find anybody. I couldn't find anybody.


NGUYEN: The two choppers came down in a park. There were no injuries on the ground. HOLMES: A memorial service getting underway at this hour in Connecticut. We're just going to show you some pictures here -- live pictures from New Britain, where they're remembering three members of a prominent family killed during a brutal home invasion.

Prosecutors say they'll seek the death penalty against the two suspects that you're seeing here. Police say the men slipped into the home and savagely beat and bound Dr.

William Petit, Jr.; then, before setting the house on fire, raped Petit's young daughters. Autopsies show their mother was strangled. The girls died of smoke inhalation. Petit is recovering from his injuries.

NGUYEN: Well, we called the Cheshire Police Department to find out about the crime in that town. And it has a population of just over 29,000. From January of this year to June, there were two murders in Cheshire. In that same period, though, there were four sexual assaults. Police also reported during those six months one robbery and 28 burglaries.

And a little later this hour, how to stay alive inside your house -- making your home less welcome to a home invader. These are some important tips that you don't want to miss. That's ahead.

HOLMES: Vice President Dick Cheney checked into the hospital today for a minor medical procedure. He's at a Washington hospital. He's getting a device that monitors his heartbeat replaced.

CNN White House correspondent Ed Henry -- he's standing by with all the details on this surgery, or I think we can call it a surgery and not just a procedure. Pretty serious stuff here.


Good morning, T.J.

Obviously, any time the vice president of the United States goes in for surgery, it's a serious matter, especially this vice president -- 66-years-old, a history of heart problems.

But his office is stressing that this is a relatively routine procedure. That's backed up by medical experts, who also say this shouldn't take too long. He should be back in on his feet pretty quickly.

He arrived here about 8:01 a.m. Eastern time with his wife, Lynn. And he's been in there having that procedure at George Washington University Hospital.

You'll remember that back in 2001, Mr. Cheney had a defibrillator implanted to sort of regulate his heartbeat. Doctors last month took a look at it and realized the batteries were running low. They wanted to replace them.

But then they decided why not change the entire device? So that's the procedure he's having. That's why he's in surgery, to have the whole deal replaced, if you will.

Obviously, a lot has changed in the last six years in terms of technological advances. And while everyone is saying it's relatively routine, we talked to a cardiologist who pointed out, it's very serious, nonetheless.

DR. RAMIN OSKOUI, WASHINGTON HOSPITAL CENTER: We remove the device, which has been disabled; put on a new device in the pocket, and then actually more deeply sedate him; and then induce cardiac arrest to be certain the new device will work.


HENRY: So obviously that's very serious and -- that, the fact that they have to induce cardiac arrest to test this new device once it is implanted in the vice president.

But, again, all medical experts stressing they believe if all goes well there behind me in George Washington University Hospital, the vice president will be out shortly, in the next hour or so, and then will be back in his residence and would not have to spend an overnight here at the hospital -- T.J.

HOLMES: All right, Ed Henry for us outside the hospital where the vice president is getting his procedure.

Ed, thank you so much, sir.

And the vice president is going to be a guest on CNN's "LARRY KING LIVE" on Tuesday.

We'll hear about this procedure possibly. Also, we'll be hearing about the war in Iraq, the war on terror and a whole lot more. You can catch that, again, Tuesday at 9:00 Eastern.

NGUYEN: We're talking about some weather now, because Denver, it is drying out today from the evening of monstrous downpours. Look at this. The Mile High City just got slammed by torrential rains and lightning.

A lightning strike is blamed for the death of a man in suburban Morrison and a power outage forced the postponement of a show by the pop group Abba.

Also, parts of East Texas are hoping for the best but ready for the worst. Flash flood watches are in effect today, as rainstorms push towards Louisiana. Given all the flooding the state has endured, though, authorities are prepositioned for emergency situations. Those teams are in place just in case they are needed.

HOLMES: Reynolds, who's got nice weather right about now?

NGUYEN: Really.


NGUYEN: Well, more than a week since a nationwide recall and potentially poisonous canned goods. They are still on shelves in the stores around the country.

The FDA says the Castleberry Foods behind a botulism scare is turning up in spot checks. Nationwide, the rate is under 10 percent, but one in three checks in North Carolina produced recalled items for sale, the main offenders being gas stations, convenience stores and family run groceries.

Texas, Indiana, California and now Hawaii all have suspected poisoning cases.

Well, maybe you know it, maybe you don't, but if you are drinking Aquafina, you are drinking tap water, my friends. Oh, yes.

Pepsi-Cola tells CNN it is changing the labels on the popular brand to let folks know that they're drinking tap water. The current label reads "bottled at source."

Well, the new one will acknowledge that that source is public. Dasani, by the way, is tap water, too. It's bottled by Coca-Cola.

HOLMES: They say they clean it a lot, they -- it's filtered a lot or whatever.

NGUYEN: Yes. It's purified tap water.

HOLMES: Yes, which makes it bottled water, then.

NGUYEN: Purified tap water.

HOLMES: Bottled water, though.

NGUYEN: That is why I drink this. And you pay what you do for the bottled water.

HOLMES: It is well worth it, OK?


HOLMES: This is good stuff.

NGUYEN: We'll see.

HOLMES: Here, try it.

NGUYEN: Cheers.

HOLMES: OK. I suppose.

We're going to turn to NASA now and a story NASA probably wishes we weren't talking right about now. It's investigating the stunning allegations of astronauts flying drunk. One of two purported cases involves a trip to the International Space Station aboard a Russian Soyuz spacecraft; also a case involving the space shuttle program.

Officials were tipped off after a cancelled launch that someone on board had appeared intoxicated.

NASA says the charges by an independent panel that was studying health concerns within the astronaut corps have not yet been substantiated.

We're going to have more on the astronaut scandal coming up later today in the CNN NEWSROOM.

Rick Sanchez will ask the question -- does America still need NASA?

Tune in for that debate today at 5:00 Eastern in THE NEWSROOM.

ANNOUNCER: This is CNN breaking news.

NGUYEN: And we are just hearing that CNN's Arwa Damon has returned from an embed with the number two commander in charge of coalition forces in Iraq. And he tells her exclusively some -- quoting here -- that they have some "encouraging news."

Now, what that is, we're going to learn very shortly.

Arwa is back in the bureau right now and we hope to have her live in less than 15 minutes. So stay tuned for that.

All right, in the meantime, how to stay alive inside your own home -- making your home less welcome to a home invader. We have tips on that.

HOLMES: Well, it's one man going flat out to stop speeders. We'll explain. You might be able to figure this out.

That's ahead in THE NEWSROOM.


NGUYEN: All right, happening right now, a public memorial service is underway for a Cheshire, Connecticut woman and her two daughters who died in a violent home invasion. The father, who is a doctor, was beaten, but he was able to survive that attack. Now, the two convicted burglars, out on parole, are now charged with the crime and prosecutors do plan to seek the death penalty.

After that attack, though, state officials are now reviewing parole policies.

HOLMES: Well, some shaken residents, of course, as you can imagine. Well, they're lining up now for gun safety classes. A Cheshire, Connecticut, gun shop notes an increase in business, as well. Our Joe Johns has other tips for defending your home against invaders.


JOE JOHNS, CNN CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): As violent crimes go, it doesn't get much scarier than this. The home invasion robbery defined is when people try to con or force their way into a home, often knowing the victim is there, for the purpose of taking money and property.

JOE MCCANN, FORMER HOMICIDE DETECTIVE: They're going to hit a home that looks like it's going to have some valuables to it, where the occupants are not going to put up much of a resistance.

JOHNS: It's a terrifying scenario and it's apparently increasing. Though there's no official crime category under the heading home invasion, in a recent report, the FBI says robberies in residences accounted for more than 14 percent of all robberies in 2005, up slightly from the year before.

To get a feel for this stuff, we asked two of D.C.'s top security consultants, former homicide detectives Joe McCann and Dwayne Stanton, to walk us through it at a nice corner lot house in the suburbs.

For starters, what kind of guys would want to do this sort of thing?

MCCANN: First of all, it's going to be a start criminal, probably a career criminal, and most likely a violent criminal.

JOHNS: Victims are selected because of the cars they drive, the jewelry they wear, or a repairman, say, a gardener, perhaps, has cased the house. Some victims get followed home. Or maybe they stake you out for a while.

MCCANN: If they're looking for a big score, a big hit, they're going to take their time.

DWAYNE STANTON, FORMER HOMICIDE DETECTIVE: And their own investigation, so, to speak. They also select neighborhoods, you know, well-to-do, affluent neighborhoods.

JOHNS: So what to do about it?

A lot of this stuff is common sense. First, have a plan to get your family out of the house, a window or peepholes in the doors to see who's out there. Don't let strangers in. Good locks and a good alarm help, too.

MCCANN: Have the alarm system or evidence of an alarm system visible from the outside.

JOHNS: Keep the shrubs cut.

MCCANN: Somebody could hide behind the shrubbery. JOHNS: After that, the game is on. McCann suggests keeping copies of your car key, the one with the panic button, stashed around the house.

(on camera): You just hit that button?

MCCANN: Hit it.

JOHNS: Even if it's in your garage?

MCCANN: Even if it's in your garage or in front of your house.

STANTON: You want to spook the person, there's no question about it.

MCCANN: They're going to run.

STANTON: And get the attention of your neighbors.

JOHNS (voice-over): And prevention is not all high-tech. Rover still works great.

MCCANN: Absolutely the number one deterrent. The bark will -- they just don't want it. The neighbors comes out. Everybody comes out when they hear your dog barking.

JOHNS: You can't anticipate or prevent a home invasion, but there are ways you can reduce the risk of one.

Joe Johns, CNN, Washington.


NGUYEN: All right, let's talk now about putting the brakes on speeders.


NGUYEN: One man -- you have to see this -- is taking matters into his own hands.

HOLMES: And he's getting an assist on this one from some neighborhood kids, who hope his idea doesn't fall flat.

We'll get more now from Britney Morehouse of affiliate WKYC in West Salem, Ohio.


BRITTANY MOREHOUSE, WKYC CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Cars whiz by houses on Main Street.

LAURA KELLING, NEIGHBOR: And they fly by at 55, 60.

MOREHOUSE: Until drivers see these smiling faces.

UNIDENTIFIED CHILD: I've seen it slow them down.

MOREHOUSE: Then they call up Mike Wood yelling.

MIKE WOOD, SIGNS CREATOR: At first they're mad, because they think why are these people leaving their kids out by the road?

(on camera): Then they realize, hey, these kids and this officer are really signs.

WOOD: And then they're like oh, those aren't real kids. And then it's funny.

MOREHOUSE: They're so realistic that Wood got a good laugh out of his first poster, which he placed in his neighbor's yard.

KELLING: We called him and I said I think you'd better come check on Katie. And he was like why, honey? I said, she's just standing out here. I think she's standing out here sleeping.

MOREHOUSE (on camera): The signs are made from real pictures, so you can change the expression from serious to friendly in just one flash.

WOOD: We use a high resolution printer. We use outdoor vinyl and outdoor ink so that they can be put outside in the weather without a problem.

MOREHOUSE: Wood's now turned his idea into a business -- and, boy, is it booming.

WOOD: It's already been posted on some law enforcement sites around the country and they're already calling and wanting to know how they can get one like that.

MOREHOUSE: But he doesn't really care about the money. He just wants to make streets safer.

WOOD: If it can help save some kids or protect some kids, that's one of the best things for me.

MOREHOUSE: Well, he won't have to worry about these vehicles. But my photographer asks...

(on camera): Yes?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Is he -- is he getting overtime?

WOOD: (LAUGHTER). I don't think so.

WOOD (voice-over): In West Salem, Brittany Morehouse, Channel 3 News.


NGUYEN: Hey, the plan is working, so it's quite a good one, too. Speaking of plans, they are planning to fly between the Europe and the U.S. Well, the government wants to know your religious beliefs, among other things before you decide to make that flight.

HOLMES: Also a little later, give the man some credit -- a lot of credit.

NGUYEN: That's a whole lot of credit.

HOLMES: A whole lot of credit. I could use some of that credit, Betty.

His unwanted avalanche of plastic -- that's coming up.



In the Middle East, a new move by the Bush administration to counter Iran's growing influence. A senior administration official tells CNN the U.S. is putting together a proposed $20 billion arms deal for Saudi Arabia. The source says it's aimed at count Iranian aggression in the Persian Gulf. While exact terms of that deal have not been worked out, it apparently includes the sale of satellite- guided bombs, naval vessels, air to air missiles and Patriot missiles. Congress has to approve the arms package before it can move forward.

HOLMES: Now, we turn to some politics this morning. It's going to be a busy day for the presidential contenders.

Senator Hillary Clinton is talking to college Democrats in Columbia, South Carolina. Meanwhile, Senator Barack Obama campaigning in the Midwest today. He's speaking at a rally in Des Moines, Iowa.

Meantime, former Senator John Edwards, he's calling on Democrats to stop criticizing each other. You can imagine who he's talking about. He's telling them to focus their fire on the Republicans.

Meanwhile, GOP contender John McCain is campaigning in the South Carolina cities of Greenville and Spartansburg.

Kansas Senator Sam Brownback -- he's making several campaign appearances in Iowa.

And former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney, he's focusing on Florida. Romney is holding a meet and greet this morning -- or this hour, right now, happening in Miami.

And if you want to know what touched off that war of words between the top two Democratic contenders, Clinton and Obama, you need to see the CNN/YouTube Democratic debate. You can watch it again in its entirety tonight and Sunday night at 9:00 Eastern.

Catch both of them if you want to.

Now you need to get your questions ready for the GOP presidential candidates. Yes, they're going to get their turn at it. You can watch the CNN/ YouTube Republican debates. They'll be live interactive on TV and online, only on your home for politics, CNN. And that is happening September 17th in St. Petersburg, Florida.

NGUYEN: Well, three years after the 9/11 Commission issued its report, Congress has finally passed legislation adopting many of its recommendations. The House approved the package yesterday, following Senate approval on Thursday. And among other things, the bill requires screening all cargo on passenger planes. And it shifts more homeland security funding to high risk areas like New York and Washington.

It now goes to President Bush for his signature.

In another move to bolster security, the U.S. and Europe have agreed to new rules about sharing airline passenger data.

CNN's Kathleen Koch has all the details.


KATHLEEN KOCH, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The new agreement with the European Union requires airlines traveling from Europe to the United States to give the Homeland Security Department a broad array of passenger information. Currently, name, address, phone, e-mail contacts, itineraries, credit card information and current hotel reservations are shared and analyzed at the National Targeting Center.

Now airlines, if they have the data, will also be required to pass on passengers' racial or ethnic origin, political opinions, religious or philosophical beliefs, trade union membership and data on health, traveling partners and sexual orientation.

But under the agreement, that information is only to be used when lives are at risk, such as in a terrorism investigation.

RUSSELL KNOCKE, SPOKESPERSON, HOMELAND SECURITY DEPARTMENT: We're going to be able to connect the dots more quickly and we're going to be able to provide our front line personnel with a powerful tool that really can help to save lives.

KOCH: Privacy advocates are most worried about the government's plans to keep the information for 15 years, long after the plane has landed and its passengers deemed not to be an immediate security risk.

JIM DEMPSEY, POLICY DIRECTOR, CENTER FOR DEMOCRACY AND TECHNOLOGY: This is part of a broader trend of the government building databases on the ordinary, lawful activities of ordinary, law-abiding people, keeping that data, going back to it, mining it -- and the risk of abuse, mistake, false accusation.

KOCH: The Homeland Security Department insists passengers will have the right to see the information being collected about them, and the chance to correct it if there's a mistake.

(on camera): The U.S. government will begin collecting the data on inbound passengers August 1st. It hopes to eventually secure similar agreements with Asia and South America for information on passengers traveling here from those countries.

Kathleen Koch, CNN, Washington.


NGUYEN: And we'd like to remind you to stay tuned to CNN day and night for the most reliable information about your safety and your security.

Well, some young celebrities fighting very public battles with substance abuse.

So how are drugs impacting other young Americans?

HOLMES: Also, a little later, overcoming public embarrassment. Whoa. Oh. There are many ways to take a fall.


HOLMES: Reynolds be careful over there.

WOLF: I'm not going next.

I'm not going to be falling next.



NGUYEN: We want to get you a quick look at what's happening right now.

Investigators from the National Transportation Safety Board are expected to be in Phoenix today. Helicopters from two local television stations collided while covering a car chase. All four people aboard the two choppers were killed.

Let's give you a live look now.

A memorial service is underway in Connecticut for a mother and two daughters killed during a brutal home invasion. Two paroled burglars have been charged with the crime.

And Vice President Dick Cheney went to the hospital today to have a device that monitors his heart replaced. That device was implanted six years ago and doctors said the battery was running low.

HOLMES: Well, with his grip on power in jeopardy, Pakistan's President Pervez Musharraf is apparently reaching out to political opponents.

Sources tell CNN Musharraf had a secret meeting in the Gulf emirates of Abu Dubai with an exiled Pakistani opposition leader.

Benazir Bhutto had two terms as prime minister in the 1980s and '90s, but later fled Pakistan to avoid corruption charges. This will be the first meeting between Musharraf and Bhutto since Musharraf seized power in 1999.

NGUYEN: All right, have you seen this dramatic rescue video?

If you haven't, take a look. Ooh, there it is. OK, a KPHO-TV news crew was covering flooding problems in Phoenix when that pickup truck hydroplaned and skidded off the roll -- off the road, that is -- and it rolled over, as you see there, upside down in a drainage ditch. The scramble was on because two teenagers and two toddlers were trapped inside. Witnesses jumped in that water and after a few terrifying moments, they got the doors open and pulled everyone out.

Police say everyone was wearing their seat belts and no one was seriously hurt.

Thank goodness.

HOLMES: A good thing they were wearing their seat belts. That's good to hear.

Some of the most dramatic video we've been seeing in the past few weeks...

NGUYEN: Look at that.

HOLMES: ...has been weather-related video. And some of that's been brought to us by our Reynolds Wolf. I know you've got some more this morning you're kind of fond of that you're going to give us, too, but...


HOLMES: Well, Barry Bonds now a home run away from tying "Hammerin' Hank". Bonds let go of number 754 right there, last night against the Florida Marlins. It came in the first inning in front of a friendly Bonds crowd there at AT&T Park in San Francisco.

And tonight, he's going to get a chance to tie the record at 755 against Dontrelle Willis of the Marlins.

NGUYEN: We're watching to see what happens.

In the meantime, though, a judge in Southern California is warning Nicole Richie that he can hit her with the Paris Hilton treatment, shall we say.

Yesterday in Los Angeles, Richie pleaded guilty to driving under the influence of drugs. She got 90 hours in jail, plus a fine and three years' probation.

Richie's friend, Hilton, had a problem upholding probation and had to serve more than 20 days. We all watched that happen.

Well, the judge told Richie if she makes the same mistake, he will lock her up for an entire year.

All right. So Nicole Richie, Lindsay Lohan and several other young Hollywood starlets, all young, all pretty, all linked to suggestions of illegal drug use.

CNN's Josh Levs is here with some of the latest information that young people are actually getting high and by the numbers.

JOSHUA LEVS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes. And it's really interesting, you know, when this happened with Lindsay this week, well, she said the cocaine is not hers. But when this happened and there was this was an arrest, I got to thinking, OK, what can we use this as an opportunity to learn about?

What's the news story here?

One thing we can all do is learn how prevalent drugs really are among young people in America.

So we went piecing through the figures and we found some. And you're going to find that the number of kids doing some of these drugs is probably higher than you suspect.


LEVS (voice-over): Lindsey Lohan says the cocaine authorities found in her possession did not belong to her. Whether that's true or not, it is a reminder of young people's access to drugs, which experts on drug abuse call one of the nation's most important challenges.

A federal study in 2005 found the number of kids using drugs grows through the teen years. Among 16- and 17-year-olds, 17 percent said they are current users of illegal drugs. Eighteen- to 20-year- olds reported the highest rate of any age group -- 22 percent.

By far the most used drug, marijuana; following by prescription drug abuse, including methamphetamine; inhalants; hallucinogens; and cocaine.

Around 1 percent of teens and 2 percent of young adults said they had used cocaine in the past month. And the number of teens who have experimented with drugs is much higher. Last year, the National Institutes of Health found 42 percent of high school seniors have tried marijuana. 8.5 percent have tried cocaine.

Federal statistics also break down drug use among teens of different races and have found the highest rate among American Indians, at 19 percent; followed by 11 percent of blacks; 10 percent of whites; 9 percent of Latinos; and 3 percent of Asians.

Overall, the rate of drug use among youths has dropped a bit since 2002.

JOHN WALTERS, OFFICE OF NATIONAL DRUG CONTROL POLICY: Rejecting a life of drug abuse has become a nationwide movement among young people, just as unhealthy behavior with regard to substance abuse became a kind of movement almost three decades ago.

(END VIDEO TAPE) LEVS: But a close look at the figures also shows that some have actually gone up when you really piece through these. For example, cocaine use among young adults.

And now, Betty, authorities say that the rise of the Internet has actually introduced new challenges because it's what a lot of kids use to get some of these drugs.

NGUYEN: So if they're getting it that way, I guess the question now is are you seeing higher numbers of people in urban areas, young people in urban areas, as opposed to, rural areas, delve in drugs?

LEVS: You know what?

Yes, in the cities, not so much. You know, it's interesting, well, you do see certain drugs. You see marijuana is higher and overall is higher in urban areas. But the number of kids using meth and using others things that are categorized as prescription drugs is actually the same in what the government calls non-metropolitan areas from metropolitan areas, which shows that this -- what was called the war on drugs -- really applies everywhere.

NGUYEN: Absolutely.

LEVS: Yes.

NGUYEN: All right, CNN's Josh Levs.

We appreciate it.

LEVS: And CNN's Betty Nguyen back with us.

So awesome.

NGUYEN: Back in action.

LEVS: Everyone is savoring today. Everybody is so happy to have Betty back. We've got an audience.

NGUYEN: It's great to be back. It really is.

LEVS: Yes.

NGUYEN: We've a lot going on today. What a day to come back.

LEVS: Yes.

NGUYEN: Thank you, Josh.

LEVS: You've got it.

HOLMES: Meanwhile, a rape case dismissed for a lack of an interpreter. But we found one.


SYLVANUS CORNEH, VAI SPEAKER: I will do anything, anything at all that this government asks me to do. I am their guest.


NGUYEN: And the legal outrage doesn't end there. You can hear much more about this right here in the CNN NEWSROOM just minutes away.


GERRI WILLIS, PERSONAL FINANCE EDITOR (voice-over): The average plastic bag takes 500 years to degrade and with Americans throwing away 100 billion of them each year, one eco organization decided to do something about it. They tapped high end British designer Anya Hindmarch, who came up with a $15 solution.

ISABEL SPEARMAN, ANYA HINDMARCH LTD.: Anya was approached by We Are What We Do. And they came to her because they wanted her to design a reasonable shopping tote.

WILLIS: Reasonable

on the wallet and its impact on the environment. The "I Am Not A Plastic Bag" bags are made of cotton, a reusable and renewable resource, and desirable because they were produced in limited edition.

SPEARMAN: We had to kind of create this media debate, this kind of wanting that one bag.

WILLIS: And those who couldn't get one, hopefully they got the idea to seek out their own reusable shopping totes, which you'll have to do because there are absolutely, positively no more Hindmarch bags left in the U.S.

That's this week's Greenhouse.



HOLMES: Well, this story we've got here for you is just an outrage, a story we've been following all week.

NGUYEN: Yes. An accused child rapist walks free when the court can't find an interpreter.

Can you believe that?

Our Gary Tuchman found one.


GARY TUCHMAN, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): This is the man at the center of a legal storm because of a bizarre technicality that is hard to believe.

Mahamu Kanneh, charged with the horrifying crimes of raping and repeatedly molesting a 7-year-old girl and of molesting a one-and-a- half-year-old girl, both relatives of his.

But now, the charges against the Liberian immigrant have disappeared.

JOHN MCCARTHY, MONTGOMERY COUNTY, MARYLAND PROSECUTOR: We believe that that decision to dismiss these charges was improper.

TUCHMAN: Why were such serious charges dismissed?

Because a court clerk was unable to find an interpreter fluent in the rare language known as Vai who could stay through the entire trial. A court-ordered psychiatrist told the judge an interpreter was necessary.

MCCARTHY: The bottom line is that any delays caused by the attempt to find an appropriate and qualified interpreter is not attributable to the prosecution and legally was the responsibility of the courts and should not serve as the basis for dismissing the charges against the defendant.

TUCHMAN: But Judge Katherine Savage disagreed, saying on the bench, "This is one of the most difficult decisions I've had to make in a long time."

She cleared the charges because she says the long delay violated Kanneh's constitutional right to a speedy trial.

Keeping them honest, we investigated what went wrong.

An estimated 100,000 people in the world speak the West African tribal language of Vai. The court office in Rockville, Maryland says it worked hard to find someone anywhere in the country who could be with the suspect during the trial. Over two-and-a-half years, it couldn't successfully do so. But after researching about two-and-a- half hours...

(on camera): How do you say swimming in Vai?


TUCHMAN (voice-over): We found a Vai speaking Liberian immigrant who lives about 15 minutes away from the courthouse who would have served as an interpreter if asked.

CORNEH: I would do anything, anything at all that this government asked me to do. I am their guest.

TUCHMAN (on camera): This story strikes high on the outrage meter. But what may be more outrageous involves the question over whether Kanneh needed an interpreter to begin with, because CNN has learned that Kanneh graduated from this Maryland high school back in 2005 -- one of the best high schools in the state, where most certainly you needed to know more than Vai to get by.

(voice-over): At McGruder High School, a student is not allowed to get a diploma without passing four years of English. A source in the school says Kanneh did not even find it necessary to take the English as a second language course that is offered.

And there's more.

JEREMY BROWN, ACCUSED MAN'S NEIGHBOR: But you're right there, number seven.

TUCHMAN: Jeremy Brown lives next door to Kanneh.

(on camera): And how long have you lived here?

BROWN: About a year.

TUCHMAN (voice-over): We wanted to talk to Kanneh about his case and language skills, but nobody was home at Apartment 7. So we asked his neighbor this.

(on camera): Does he speak English?


TUCHMAN: And does he speak pretty good English?


TUCHMAN: So on a scale of one to 10 of English proficiency, what would you say he has?

BROWN: Probably a seven or an eight.

TUCHMAN (voice-over): No one, from the judge to court clerk to Kanneh's public defender, would speak to us about the case, because prosecutors filed an appeal. An appellate court would have the authority to make the charges reappear, but if the appeal fails, Mahamu Kanneh will not ever go to trial on these charges.

Gary Tuchman, CNN, Rockville, Maryland.


NGUYEN: That is an eye opener.

HOLMES: You can see where the outrage comes from there.

Well, also, this story may not be outrageous.

Some people just can't take no for an answer, can they?

NGUYEN: Well, give him some credit because he tried.


NGUYEN: All right, we can all relate to this. I imagine that you've received a credit card, at least an application for one, that you didn't want, right?

HOLMES: Yes. NGUYEN: Well, how about actually getting those cards in the mail, not one, not two, but 2,000?

HOLMES: We're going shopping, Betty, if I get 2,000 credit cards.

NGUYEN: Yes, we are.

Bring it on.

HOLMES: Well, a New York man is digging out of a plethora of plastic.

Details now from Tim Fleischer of CNN affiliate WABC.


TIM FLEISCHER, WABC NEWS CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Just two credit cards -- that's all Frank Van Buren wanted.

(on camera): They sent you how many?


A total of 2,000.

FLEISCHER (voice-over): Two thousand -- all with the same account number.

VAN BUREN: This is only one box.

FLEISCHER (on camera): You got two of these boxes?

VAN BUREN: Yes, I got two of these boxes, one about four or five weeks ago. And then I found this on Monday morning in the hallway where anybody could take it.

FLEISCHER (voice-over): And not just take it -- look on the back. Not one with an activation strip.

(on camera): Your account would be trashed?

VAN BUREN: Yes. That's my opinion.

I asked them about that. And I got a -- I got a very -- I didn't get an answer.

FLEISCHER (voice-over): Especially now, with credit card fraud and identity theft major consumer concerns.

VAN BUREN: Identity theft is one issue. Corporate responsibility is another issue. And customer service is the third issue.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You know, it's scary. You just have to be really careful with who you give information to.

FLEISCHER: From Exxon Mobil, frustratingly, Frank says... VAN BUREN: They told me they will not take them back.

FLEISCHER (on camera): What were you going to do with 2,000 credit cards?

VAN BUREN: I'd have to shred them again. I'd have to have someone spend three hours on a little shredder shredding these things.

FLEISCHER: Each one of these?


FLEISCHER: How would you get rid of them?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I'm such a compulsive person, I would probably cut them up individually and then write a letter back to Exxon informing them of the same.

VAN BUREN: And here I am. I've got this dilemma. I have work to do and I've got to shred. It's good exercise.

FLEISCHER (voice-over): An exercise in frustration.


HOLMES: And, of course, Exxon Mobil checking out why -- how this could have happened that he got all those cards. So they're looking into it.


Somebody is being asked a lot of questions about that one.


NGUYEN: Well, THE NEWSROOM does continue at the top of the hour with Fredericka Whitfield.

She joins us now to see what's in store -- hi there, Fred.


HOLMES: How are you doing?

WHITFIELD: And we've got lots of questions, too, about other topics.



WHITFIELD: Yes, we'll bring you in on the noon hour.

We're all trying to figure out what's going on?

You've got athletes, you've got actors or actresses, high-priced celebrities and even astronauts all behaving badly.

Well, a lot of kids are looking up to these people on an ordinary basis, thinking these are their "American Idols".

Well, if this exemplifies being an "American Idol," what's going on?

How do we talk to our kids to kind of sort through all of this madness?

We'll have a psychologist who will be joining us to talk a little bit more about how you do talk to some of your kids.

And then legal matters still continuing in our legal segment with our guys in the 2:00 Eastern hour. This is a case that many people in Maryland and beyond are considering blasphemous because a rape suspect -- case dismissed because the courts couldn't find an interpreter. What's happening and what's next in that case.

NGUYEN: Yes, we just aired the Gary Tuchman story. They found one in about two hours...


NGUYEN: ...who didn't live very far.

WHITFIELD: Yes, and a lot of other media outlets have challenged the court system the same way.

NGUYEN: Well, we'll be watching for that.

WHITFIELD: Not good.

NGUYEN: Thank you, Fred.

HOLMES: Thanks, Fred.

Good to see you.

Thank you.

NGUYEN: All right. In a concert, but out of step.

HOLMES: Yes. Beyonce takes an -- oh, my goodness. Oh, poor thing. But the singer slipped, just one of many famous flops. We'll take a look.

You're in the NEWSROOM.

Stay here.


WILLIS (voice-over): Online passwords are the gateway to your private information. To make sure you're the only one with access, keep this in mind when selecting one. Make it lengthy. Each character that you add increases protection. Use a minimum of eight, but more than 14 is ideal.

Use the entire keyboard -- combine upper and lower case letters, numbers and symbols like these. Better yet, combine all that into a full sentence that's easy for you to remember.

And, finally, test it. You can find password checkers online that tell you how strong or weak your new protection is.

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.



NGUYEN: All right, catch a falling star, post it online.

HOLMES: Yes. Beyonce's concert slip just the latest YouTube tumble.

Our Jeanne Moos takes a look.


JEANNE MOOS, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): When's the last time you fell on your face or on your butt or off a stage?


KELSEY GRAMMER: Pretending I was a U.N. Interpreter. Oh, good lord. Oh. (OBSCENE WORD OMITTED). Oh, damn.


MOOS: It's bad enough when you're Kelsey Grammer. But imagine when a diva takes a dive in front of thousands of fans, many armed with cameras. That's what happened to Beyonce.


MOOS: A spokesperson said her hem got caught in her shoe and the moment was caught on YouTube, even though fans shooting home video of the Orlando, Florida concert reported that Beyonce asked good- naturedly...

BEYONCE: If any one of you got video of that, please don't put it on YouTube.

MOOS: Fat chance. And from YouTube it spread. The next thing you know, Beyonce is the number one video on, knocking giant tumor out of the top spot. And it takes a lot to dislodge a 33-pound tumor. Much was made of the fact that Beyonce bounced back. Her hair bounced even more. Fans posted praise like "takes a licking and keeps on ticking."

Lest you think we're reveling in Beyonce's misery, we're kind compared to the news anchor who couldn't stop laughing over a model who fell.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You try walking in those shoes.


MOOS: But, hey, plenty of falling news people get plastered on YouTube.




MOOS: Covering storms or stomping grapes.

But don't believe every journalistic misstep you see on the Web.


HUCK STORM: Well, last night there was a robbery at about 3:30 in the morning. Now police have...


MOOS: Apparently Chuck Storm is just a character dreamed up by the creator of this Web site. And Chuck Storm isn't so far from the reality of Al Roker.


AL ROPER: Right about now I go down. Oh!


MOOS: Al is featured on a Web site called You have to love their logo.

And as if falling weren't bad enough, there are all those slow motion replays. Cheer up, Beyonce -- at least you didn't end up like Carrie Bradshaw.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Oh, my god, she's fashion road kill.

(END VIDEO CLIP) MOOS: It's not how far you fall, it's how fast you recover.

And who says gallantry is dead?

To the rescue.

Jeanne Moos, CNN, New York.