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Report: Some Generals Want to Declare Victory Over al Qaeda in Iraq; Rapper T.I. Faces Weapons Charges in Atlanta; Whose Water Is It?; Report: Deaths Declining for Many Types of Cancer

Aired October 15, 2007 - 09:00   ET


HEIDI COLLINS, CNN ANCHOR: Good morning, everybody. You are in the CNN NEWSROOM.
I'm Heidi Collins.

Watch events come in to the NEWSROOM live on this Monday morning. It is October 15th and here's what's on the rundown.

Rush hour in L.A. I-5, north of the city, reopens today after a spectacular tunnel pileup and inferno.

Al Qaeda in Iraq. A report this morning says U.S. generals are urging the president to declare victory over the terrorists.

And the number of people dying from cancer is falling fast. What's behind the dramatic plunge?

Staying alive, in the NEWSROOM.

It is 6:00 am in Los Angeles, and thousands, literally thousands of commuters, are waking up to see their dream came true overnight. A few hours ago, crews reopened most of Interstate 5, a major north- south freeway in L.A. County. But drivers are still being urged to avoid it if they can. Not surprising, looking at those pictures.

The route between L.A. and Santa Clarita had been closed since a deadly crash inside the truck tunnel on Friday. A pileup of more than two dozen vehicles ignited in an inferno. Two men and a baby were killed.

The fire reached temperatures of 1,400 degrees. Steel melted. Concrete exploded. Winds whipped through the tunnel and fanned those flames.


DEPUTY CHIEF JOHN TRIPP, LOS ANGELES FIRE DEPARTMENT: There were 20 people that were in that tunnel with the raging fire going as we were trying to get to them and they were able to assist each other. And I think that's very commendable, to how all those people were able to help each other without the first responders able to get there and assist them.

And we're, again -- very unfortunate that we did have the deceased, that we did. But at the same time, I think when we look at tunnel fires that have happen around the United States, let alone around the world, it's pretty miraculous that those people were able to get out like they were.


COLLINS: Boy. The tunnel does remain closed, but crews are working to replace several more supports now in the structure.

Here is what we know about this thoroughfare. Interstate 5 is the major north-south route along the West Coast. State officials say that stretch of freeway around Santa Clarita carries 225,000 vehicles each day.

How vital is the roadway? Well, California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger issued an emergency declaration. That allowed the state's Office of Emergency Services to help clear the roadway.

Report out this morning, some generals want the president to declare victory over al Qaeda in Iraq.

CNN's Barbara Starr is live at the Pentagon for us this morning.

And Barbara, "The Washington Post" reports the military believes that al Qaeda in Iraq is crippled.


Indeed, that story in The Post says that that's what some generals believe. You know, but we've been down this road before.

I think everyone rembers the pictures of President Bush a couple of years ago, standing on the deck of an aircraft carrier, announcing basically "Mission Accomplished". And, of course, that did not prove to be the case. That's a scenario that no general in the U.S. military wants to see replayed. So, there's a lot of caution right now.

But what are the real facts? Well, al Qaeda certainly has been dealt some very serious blows. Violence is down. Deaths of U.S. troops are down. Attacks are down.

Many U.S. generals noting that al Qaeda's attacks in Iraq appear to be much less well-coordinated. By all accounts, they do appear to be on the run in some cases.

But Heidi, I can't emphasize enough, there is an awful lot of caution behind the scenes, because, of course, they've been down this road before and they have seen time and again al Qaeda and other insurgent groups continue to regenerate themselves and launch new attacks -- Heidi.

COLLINS: So obviously, it seems like, Barbara, that's the reason not to declare all-out victory. I mean, you have success in some areas and not as much success as they would like to see in others. STARR: I think that's exactly right. What many generals are saying is, sure, al Qaeda has been dealt some very crippling blows. You know, almost every day, they announce they've captured or killed people who are affiliated with al Qaeda in Iraq. But there are other threats.

There are still foreign fighters crossing into Iraq. And, of course, Iran continues to be a major factor with its support for both Shia and Sunni insurgency groups.

So, even if we're seeing some reconciliation, of course, out in western Iraq, for example, in Al Anbar province, an awful lot of concern remains about what's going on in the rest of the country. A lot of very hopeful signs, but it doesn't seem like anybody is ready to stage another one of those big ceremonies just yet -- Heidi.

COLLINS: Yes, understood.

All right. CNN's Barbara Starr for us this morning from the Pentagon.

Barbara, thank you for that.

Well, even the young cannot escape the sting of war. Deadly attacks in Iraq today.

Five people dead. Two of them children under the age of ten. Three were teenagers. All of them killed when mortars hit military bases in southern Iraq.

Twenty-eight other Iraqis were injured. Women and children among them. The violence follows attacks yesterday that killed 24 Iraqis.

The deadliest, a car bomb in Samarra. That's north of Baghdad.

Also, two more U.S. soldiers have been killed. One in combat, another in a non-combat-related incident. Those deaths bring the U.S. military death toll in Iraq to 3,830.

A reported plot against Russian president Vladimir Putin not putting off his travel plans. Mr. Putin spoke at a news conference with German chancellor Angela Merkel today. He confirmed he will travel on to Iran.

Russian news reports quoted an intelligence source as saying terrorists had been trained to carry out an assassination attempt in Iran. Iranian officials reject those reports. Mr. Putin said if he paid attention to all the threats against him, he would never leave home.

Rapper T.I expected in court today. He was arrested in a sting operation over the weekend. Federal agents say he had a bodyguard buy machine guns and silencers. More guns found in his home and car.

Our T.J. Holmes looks at the charges and the rapper's background.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You see ATF jackets, you pretty much understand what's going on.

T.J. HOLMES, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice over): Agents searching T.I.'s suburban Atlanta home say they found six firearms in a walk-in safe in his bedroom closet. The 27-year-old rapper is barred from owning firearms after a felony drug conviction nine years ago.

Authorities say T.I., whose real name is Clifford Harris, was trying to add three machine guns and two silencers to his arsenal when they arrested him in a midtown Atlanta parking lot.

RAQUEL WHITE, WITNESS: We saw the ATF agents swarming out of their cars. Atlanta police cars were there. I was told there was a black gun that they pulled out of the Range Rover.

HOLMES: T.I.'s music is based largely on a culture of drugs and guns. He calls it trap music, the trap being that underworld where drugs are sold. His music deals with that lifestyle.

He made his big screen debut last year in "ATL," a film featuring hip-hop culture in his hometown. His next movie, "American Gangster," costarring Denzel Washington and Russell Crowe, releases next month.

Real-life violence entered T.I.'s life last year when a gunman riddled his van with bullets as he and his entourage drove down a Cincinnati highway. His personal assistant was killed and three people were wounded. No arrests were ever made.

T.I.'s first court appearances on the gun charges is set for Monday in Atlanta.


COLLINS: Again, that was our T.J. Holmes reporting.

Right now, though, we want to get to a severe weather situation. Rob Marciano is in the weather center for us this morning.


COLLINS: Meanwhile, on that same note, wars between the states over water. Millions of people need it. Marine life, too.

So what's the answer? Eric Philips from our Atlanta affiliate WSB reports.


FRED BAUMANN, LAKE LANIER DIVER: I would guess there's at least between 40 million and 400 million shellfish, mussels, that have died.

ERIC PHILIPS, REPORTER, WSB (voice over): Fred Baumann has been diving in Lake Lanier for 13 years. Never before has he seen lake levels this low and dead mussels in such abundance. Part of the problem, he says, is the Army Corps of Engineers releases water from Lake Lanier to save endangered sea life in lakes in Florida.

BAUMANN: We're trying to save a few mussels in Florida and a few fish in Florida. And yet, we're losing at least 40 million here in Georgia. They're not endangered, of course, but nonetheless, these are vital for our interests because they purify our water.

PHILIPS: A resource that serves as drinking water for much of metro Atlanta. But Baumann doesn't blame the Army Corps of Engineers. He says they're just following governmental guidelines.

Add to that a lack of rain and erosion, which is causing silt to build up at an alarming rate, and Baumann believes there's cause for concern.

BAUMANN: At this point, I believe Congress needs to look at a long-range picture of what's going on and come up with policies that ensure our drinking water and the future of our cities. We either fix it now or fix it later. And fixing it later, a lot of people are going to suffer.


COLLINS: More on the severe drought in the Southeast is coming up in our next hour. We're going to be talking to an expert who is looking very closely at what he calls a water shortage doomsday scenario.

We'll tell you all about that.

And whoa. Cowboy cred. A former Latin leader questions President Bush's.

Also, sent to the bench. A Muslim girl not allowed to play soccer.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You can't play with the headscarf.


COLLINS: Did the referee go too far or was he just following the rules?

Cancer death rates dropping faster than ever, but why? Medical Correspondent Elizabeth Cohen will fill us in after a quick break.


COLLINS: The American Cancer Society is out today with its annual report. It shows death rates are declining for many types of cancer. Other cancers though remain stubborn killers.

Medical Correspondent Elizabeth Cohen is joining us now with more details on this.

We would like to hear the good news first.

ELIZABETH COHEN, CNN MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: OK. Well, the good news is the American Cancer Society says that, at least to some extent, Americans can give themselves a pat on the back when it comes to preventing cancer. They say that all those messages -- don't smoke, get the right screening tests -- they're actually having some effect.

So, let's take a look at those numbers to see how these cancer death rates are coming down.

They've come down 2.1 percent. They went down from 2002 to 2004.

Especially striking are the decreases in colon cancer. That went down 4.9 percent for men and 4.5 percent for women. Those are big drops...


COHEN: ... for just two years. And Heidi, the cancer society really credits people like Katie Couric, who have gotten the message out, get a colonoscopy, because when you catch colon cancer early, 90 percent of the people survive. It's just too often it's not caught early because people don't get colonoscopies.

COLLINS: Yes. That's an amazing statistic if you can catch it early.

COHEN: Right. It really is, right.

COLLINS: Ninety percent, wow.

All right. Unfortunately, we do have to hear the bad news, too. Any cancers just really not improving at all?

COHEN: Right. There are some cancers where the death rates are not going down.

For example, liver cancer is one of those. And experts say the reason for that is -- well, there are probably many reasons, but one reason is obesity. It's that when you are obese, you're more likely to get liver cancer.

And we all know that obesity rates for Americans are on the rise. Also, Hepatitis C is playing a role in this. But that's one where there's not quite so much good news.

COLLINS: Well, if you had to pick three things that we could all do every day to really improve our chances -- that's probably a weird question -- but what would they be?

COHEN: Well, there are three very specific things that people can do to prevent getting cancer. And the first one we just mentioned, which is keep yourself at a healthy weight.

A lot of people think that keeping yourself at a healthy weight is something you do to prevent heart disease, which is true. But it also can prevent getting cancer.

Another thing, don't smoke. You know, by now, that's just a no- brainer. Don't smoke.

And then, thirdly, get the recommended screenings. And the American Cancer Society, on their Web site, has a list of cancer screenings that people are supposed to get. But get those screenings and get them at the age that you're supposed to get them.

COLLINS: Very good. Helpful information, as always.

Elizabeth Cohen, thank you.

COHEN: Thank you.

COLLINS: Now we'll tell you about this. Legal maneuvering by Senator Larry Craig. The Idaho republican trying another tactic this morning to get his guilty plea overturned.

For some people, ordinary foods turn toxic. We're going to be talking with an expert about Celiac Disease coming up in just a moment.

ALI VELSHI, CNN SR. BUSINESS CROWLEY: I'm Ali Velshi, "Minding Your Business" in New York.

Oil tops $85 a barrel this morning. I'll tell you what that means to you when we come back in the NEWSROOM.


COLLINS: Another attempt by Idaho senator Larry Craig to clear his name. He is filing an appeal today hoping to reverse a judge's decision to keep his guilty plea in place.

Craig was arrested in a police sting in a Minneapolis airport men's room. He pleaded to disorderly conduct at that time. Then he tried to withdraw that plea earlier this month. Craig says he will keep pursuing his legal options and he still says he is not resigning.

Oil prices are at a record high, hovering around $85 a barrel in trading this morning. That means you're likely to pay more for heating and gasoline this winter.

Ali Velshi is here now, "Minding Your Business".

Nobody likes to hear this, Ali.

VELSHI: No. And it just seems to be going on and on.

Friday, we hit a record on oil. It settled at the New York Mercantile Exchange at $83.69. And then it just kept on going forward. And this morning, it actually topped $85 for a barrel of oil.

Now, when you translate to gasoline, which is what most people think about, Heidi, you're only paying about $2.75 a gallon. It's actually down a little bit from last week. But fundamentally, this heating oil thing, particularly if you live up here in the Northeast, that starts to affect people because they pay for more of that in bigger chunks. And that's when people start to decide not buy, you know, something else, or not to spend as much on holiday shopping, or not to take a trip.

So you're definitely going to see the impact of oil prices.

We've also got that dollar coming down again a little bit against the euro, against the pound, and against the Canadian dollar. So that affects things. You can see there, it's going to cost you a $1.42 to get a euro, $2.04 to get a pound, and $1.03 to get a loonie.

So fundamentally, we've got a few problems on the horizon. Things are looking pretty good on the economic side, but this oil, you know, matter is a bit of a concern -- Heidi.

COLLINS: Only $1.03 to get loonie, huh?

VELSHI: Yes. Oh, I just came back -- yes, $1.03 to get loonie. It was kind of loonie.

I was just in Canada over the weekend...


VELSHI: ... and you can pay in U.S. dollars and get your change in whatever they happen to have in the till. It's kind of interesting.

COLLINS: Understood.

VELSHI: Now, you know...

COLLINS: Some people are really putting off their European trips because of that because...

VELSHI: Well, and -- which is interesting, because today marks one of the most exciting days in air travel in decades.

COLLINS: I know. This has been a long wait, too.

VELSHI: Yes. This A380 finally got delivered. The first one got delivered to Singapore Airlines.

This is the double decker, biggest passenger plane ever to fly. It took off from Toulouse, which is in France, which is where Airbus's headquarters are, over to Singapore.

That first plane is going to fly on October 25th, and all of the seats in that plane -- by the way, that's me getting on to an A380.


VELSHI: All of those seats on that first flight were sold on eBay, raising...

COLLINS: There you are.

VELSHI: ... more than $1 million for charity. Yes, it's a huge plane.

COLLINS: I know.

VELSHI: I mean, it's a really big -- it's like two big planes on top of each other. Fascinating.

COLLINS: What's it feel like to sit in there? I mean, do you just feel like it's enormous?

VELSHI: You know, that coach section that I was in feels very much like a big, you know, wide-bodied plane. The seats weren't really much bigger.

There's a lot of technology in the plane. When you start to see the staircases, though, some of them will have bars. The first class suites, not seats, suites...


VELSHI: ... and the business class seats, that's where you start to see the difference. But even in that first one that Singapore has, after all the business seats, 12 business -- 12 first class suites, 60 business class seats, still 400 coach seats. You know, 471 people on that plane.

So, it's moving a lot of people, much more than the 747 did, which has been the biggest one for decades.

COLLINS: Yes. And do you get the champagne and the rose petals sprinkled on your seat that we saw in your video?

VELSHI: I didn't.

COLLINS: That's all right. You got to ride on it. Very cool.

All right.

Ali Velshi, "Minding Your Business" this morning.

Thank you, Ali.

VELSHI: See you, Heidi. Yes.

COLLINS: Safe and sound this morning after being lost in a dark, cramped cave for 30 hours. That's what happened to three University of Texas students.

They were rescued over the weekend from a 500-foot crawlspace. Look at these pictures now. Wouldn't want to be in there.

Twisting tunnels, very easy to get lost. But the students made sure they could be found. They left behind a trail of leaves.

They also left a message with their friends, send help if we're not back by midnight. And they weren't.

A fire official talked about the rescue on CNN's "AMERICAN MORNING".


D.J. WALKER, AUSTIN FIRE DEPARTMENT: These folks were really a textbook example of what you should do when you're planning a trip. Tell somebody where you're going. Take plenty of food and water.

They left a breadcrumb trail to find their way back out. They really did do a good job of trying to prevent this from happening. But accidents happen and they got off their breadcrumb trail and wound up in a mazy (ph) section of the cave and got lost.


COLLINS: Breadcrumbs or leaves, both do the trick, apparently. The students were tired and hungry, of course, but otherwise OK.

And clearing the wreckage from a massive truck pileup. What does the accident mean for Los Angeles area commuters this morning?

And the rapper with a record arrested in a weapons sting. Court appearance for T.I. today.

A Muslim soccer player wears a headscarf and gets the boot.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I felt I let down the team because I didn't get to play.


COLLINS: That young lady's battle to get on the field coming up in just a few minutes.


COLLINS: L.A. County commuters getting something of a break this morning. Most lanes of Interstate 5 are now reopened after a deadly tunnel crash.

Here is CNN's Peter Viles with the story.


PETER VILES, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice over): All that is left of 18-wheelers caught in a deadly fire that turned an interstate highway tunnel into a raging inferno, where temperatures reached an estimated 1,400 degrees. Three people were trapped and killed, including an infant, but 20 people managed to make it out alive. TONY BRAZIL, TRUCK DRIVER: There was an accident in front of me. I come to a stop and then they just started hitting me, one right after another. They turned me around in there. And I could just keep -- I could hear trucks hitting back, back further, just bang, bang, bang. And I got out. These two were on -- this one over here was on fire by that side. And a couple of drivers come over the top of the truck and said, Get out of here! Let's get out of here!"

So I got my wallet and my phone. And I was able to squeeze between that truck there and the wall.

VILES: Fire officials say it is miraculous that so many escaped.

JOHN TRIPP, DEPUTY CHIEF, L.A. COUNTY FIRE DEPARTMENT: There were 20 people that were in that tunnel, with a raging fire going, as we were trying to get to them. And they were able to assist each other. And I think that's very commendable to how all those people were able to help each other without the first responders able to get there and assist them.

VILES: All of this began late Friday -- a chain reaction pileup that led to a huge vehicle fire that burned all night and most of Saturday

(on camera): And just to give you an idea of how hot this fire burned and the damage it did to these vehicles, this is the remains behind me of the big rigs that were stuck in that fire. Almost two dozen vehicles were burned and they are burned beyond recognition. There's almost nothing about this wreckage that even looks like it used to be a truck.

(voice-over): Peter Viles for CNN, Santa Clarita, California.


COLLINS: Coming up in just a few minutes, we want to check out that commuter situation this morning now, Monday morning. And as we said, we did learn that the road, Interstate-5, has reopened, just a few hours before rush hour began. So we're going to be checking in with a live reporter there and see how things look this morning.

Meanwhile, Rob Marciano is with us now this morning to get another look at the weather situation.

It looks like we're still talking about the Midwest. But, you know, the people in the Southeast are wishing that they could get some of those storms and some of that precipitation, I think.

ROB MARCIANO, CNN METEOROLOGIST: Yes, that would be nice. I wish it was that easy.

COLLINS: Can't we make that happen?


COLLINS: Meanwhile, rapper T.I. -- real name Clifford Harris -- expected in court today on federal weapons charges. Harris arrested in a sting operation over the weekend in Atlanta. Federal agents say he had a bodyguard buy machine guns and silencers for him. They say weapons also were found in the rapper's car and home.

According to court documents, Harris is a convicted felon. He is not allowed to own guns. His attorney says don't rush to judge.

Playing cowboy -- a former Mexican leader suggests President Bush is better suited for a pickup than a horse. But some Texans say, what's wrong with that, partner?

Here now, our Ed Henry.


ED HENRY, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): For President Bush, so proud of his Texas ranch, where he clears brush and rides his bike, it was a nasty charge from a friend.


LARRY KING, HOST: You refer to him as a windshield cowboy.


HENRY: In a new book, former Mexican President Vicente Fox claims that unlike, say, Ronald Reagan, Mr. Bush is better suited for riding a pickup truck than a horse, based on their time together in Mexico.


VICENTE FOX, FORMER PRESIDENT OF MEXICO: You can notice when somebody gets near and his hand and the way he touches the horse, you immediately know that he's not a cowboy.


HENRY: And their summit at Mr. Bush's Crawford ranch.


FOX: He drives very well, but I don't think he rides very horses very well.


HENRY (on camera): I'm not a real cowboy. Maybe I'm playing one on TV, but I've never even ridden a horse until now. I'm in Crawford, Texas. I needed to get the scoop somehow. White House officials say they don't do book reviews, so they're not reacting to Vicente Fox's comments. So we decided to go to a rodeo event near the president's ranch and talk to some genuine cowboys.

JACK SHOAF, BYNUM, TEXAS: Oh, you know, cowboys shooting from the hip, riding wild. HENRY (voice-over): Jack Shoaf reckons the media likes to play up the stereotypes, but says there's no shame in riding trucks instead of horses.

SHOAF: That's why a lot of cowboys -- a lot of ranchers use trucks to travel around and check their pastures. It's -- it's more economical. It's a sign of the times.

HENRY: Besides, said Lee Percivill, the commander-in-chief is doggone busy.

LEE PERCIVILL, CHINA SPRINGS, TEXAS: These horses have to be exercised every day. And I don't believe the president has a lot of time for that right now. Now, later on in his life, he probably will have.

HENRY: And for the record, nobody goes calling this gentleman a windshield cowboy.

PERCIVILL: I might have to assume they don't know what they're talking about.

HENRY: Ed Henry, CNN, Crawford Texas.


COLLINS: For some people, ordinary foods turn toxic. We're going to be talking today with an expert about celiac disease and tell you what it is.

Boy Scout versus bear -- his tent bears out the evidence.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Do you see the scratch marks, the claws?

And it is telling you that that is definitely not just a small bear. That's actually a very large bear.


COLLINS: How a teenager used his training to survive. Wow! (INAUDIBLE).


COLLINS: We want to quickly take you back to the story that we've been telling you about out of L.A. this morning. A deadly tunnel fire over the weekend. There were fatalities. And now this morning, of course, people are really having a tough time with the commute.

We want to take you directly to Eric Spillman.

He is with our affiliate in L.A., KTLA -- Eric, we see some fog behind you there. I'm sure it's not helping matters at all. ERIC SPILLMAN, KTLA CORRESPONDENT: It isn't. But there's some good news for Los Angeles commuters. And that is that they've managed to reopen Interstate-5 in both directions for the first time since that horrific crash Friday night.

This road, of course, so important to both commuters in the L.A. area and to big rig drivers. They carry so many loads of goods and cargo into the L.A. area here.

It was shut down for three days because underneath the freeway there is a truck tunnel. And on Friday night, there was a horrible collision inside that tunnel -- a chain reaction crash involving as many 30 big rigs inside there. They all plowed into each other. Three people were killed. Ten others were hurt.

Well, the fire -- the intense fire from that crash may have caused damage to the tunnel and to the freeway over it -- that runs over it, that crosses over it. So they had to check. Inspectors had to come in and look for signs of weakness. They worked non-stop. They managed to shore up the tunnel so that they could reopen the freeway this morning, which they did. Shortly after midnight they began reopening the freeway.

I mean it was a nightmare for people here over the weekend, because there's really no easy way to get around this freeway. You kind of have to use it if you're heading to the north out of L.A. County. So people were waiting in horrible delays that were lasting two hours or more. This morning, people were able to get to work. They were able to drive. They're able to use Interstate-5. They don't have to take a detour.

That's the latest from the Newhall Pass, just north of Los Angeles -- Heidi, now back to you.

COLLINS: Yes, it is definitely amazing that they got it reopened, but still obviously so very sad for those -- those fatalities, three of them to mention here.

Eric Spillman, thanks so much for the update, coming from our affiliate KTLA this morning.


COLLINS: Attacked by a black bear -- 14-year-old Chris Malasics was camping with his Boy Scout troop when a bear ripped through his tent. Always prepared, the Boy Scout used his training.

Today, he talked to Kiran Chetry on CNN's "AMERICAN MORNING".


KIRAN CHETRY, CO-HOST, "AMERICAN MORNING": You can obviously tell where the bear just ripped his way through.

How did it start? CHRIS MALASICS, SURVIVED BEAR ATTACK: My friend got pulled out from the other side and he came in and woke me up. The bear pulled out his pad he was sleeping on. It's like a little mattress. And after a while, he came in and woke me up. And then the bear came over and stepped right here, collapsed the tent. The poles were all bent. These poles are from a different tent. And then he cut that open and grabbed me out.

CHETRY: Yes, and we have your jeans, actually. You can see where he just -- he literally tore through the pocket, this part.

And were you hurt?

MALASICS: Yes. I got a seven inch and a four inch mark on my butt.

CHETRY: How did you know -- how did you get the bear away from you?

MALASICS: Well, I just played dead, because that's what they told us in the training when I went to New Mexico.


COLLINS: Wow! And calm, too. Some other campers heard the commotion, though. They flashed lights, banged pans and the bear eventually went away.

Sent to the bench -- a Muslim girl not allowed to play soccer.


IMAN KHALIL, FORCED TO MISS GAME: He looked at me and says, "You can't play with the head scarf."


COLLINS: Did the referee go too far or was he just following the rules?


COLLINS: You already know to catch us weekday mornings from 9:00 until noon Eastern. But did you know you can take us with you anywhere you go on your iPod?

The CNN NEWSROOM pod cast -- it's available 24-7. A lot of cool stories that we record just for that that you won't see here during our broadcast. Again, you can find it 24-7 right on your iPod.

October is Celiac Disease Awareness Month.

You might be saying what disease awareness month?

If you are someone who doesn't feel very well after eating or suffers from a host of gastrointestinal discomforts, if you know what I mean, you could have celiac disease and just not know it. As someone who has the disease and is a spokesperson for the non-profit National Foundation for Celiac Awareness, it's my job to help explain.


COLLINS (voice-over): For most people, going out to dinner is a fun experience -- great food, laughs and a break from the kitchen. But people who suffer from celiac disease have a lot more to think about when venturing away from their kitchens. They have to be sure they don't accidentally consume a protein called gluten. It is toxic to their systems and can make them very sick.

Gluten is found in wheat, barley and rye. That usually means everything from bread, pasta, fried foods, many sauces and desserts are immediately off limits. In fact, for some celiac sufferers, even a crumb of bread can do the same harm as a whole loaf.

Severe diarrhea, abdominal pain, bloating, headaches, irritability and fatigue are just some of the symptoms.

Some sufferers of this genetic autoimmune disease say they get a bit of gluten their systems and they are bedridden for days. If a person is unaware they have the disease and they continue to eat foods with gluten, the body will not absorb nutrients in food. That leads to malnutrition and other complications, like cancer, thyroid disease, osteoporosis, infertility, pregnancy complications, depression and other autoimmune diseases.

Celiac disease affects approximately three million Americans. But according to the National Foundation for Celiac Awareness, only 100,000 people know they have it. That means 97 percent of celiac sufferers are undiagnosed. All it takes is a simple blood test. A positive result means take the gluten out of your diet and you will likely feel like a brand new person.


COLLINS: If you are one of those people out there who just saw that and says hey, I might have this, we want to give you some more answers from a physician, Dr. Eileen Charabaty.

She is a gastroenterologist at Georgetown University Hospital who specializes in celiac.

Thanks for being here, doctor.


COLLINS: What is the most prevalent thing that you see when you are talking to patients that come into your office?

CHARABATY: Well, as you mentioned before, Heidi, a lot of patients come to us with multiple symptoms. They can have the diarrhea, the abdominal pain, the bloating -- the typical symptoms of celiac disease. But a lot of patients also present in an atypical way. Again, like you mentioned, they can just have fatigue, irritability, some depression, osteoporosis, infertility, joint pain.

So celiac can manifest in different ways and different manners. It can manifest at any time of your life, so we can see children, adults and even older people. And this is what makes it difficult sometimes to diagnose. People don't think about it who are a little bit -- old guilty feel about it (ph), old kind of physician. We rely on the typical symptoms of the diarrhea and the malnutrition, but, again, it can present in an atypical manner.

COLLINS: Yes, I think the question I get the most, though, is, you know, why is this a big deal?

So you have a sore stomach and, you know, you don't feel all that great a lot of the time.

How serious is it?

CHARABATY: It is very serious, because when you have the diarrhea, it's actually a manifestation of the inflammation of your gut -- an injury to your gut. So when your small bowel, who is responsible for absorbing nutrients and vitamins, is not able to do its work, you are going to develop a lot of nutrient and Vitamin Deficiencies.

In children, they will not grow the way they should grow. Adults can lose weight. You lose iron, Vitamin B, calcium and Vitamin D. And all of this will lead to anemia, neurological disorder, osteoporosis. So it does have an overall affect on your health, not just giving you G.I. symptoms.

COLLINS: Yes, and I think a lot of people, when they hear the possibility or the increased chances of getting cancer, really start to wonder if they're doing everything that they can for their bodies and possibly might then help them get to the doctor's office and get tested.

CHARABATY: Absolutely. There is an increased risk of two types of cancer in patients with celiac disease when it's left untreated. One is a non-Hodgkin's lymphoma, which is a type of malignancy of the blood, but that can also occur in the small bowel. There is also an increased risk of G.I. cancer. It can affect any location in the G.I. tract, from the food via the small bowel, the large bowel and the liver.

And by treating your celiac disease, you will decrease your risk of developing these malignancies.

COLLINS: OK, so gluten-free, gluten-free, gluten-free. We are getting better at knowing what that word is and when people go to the grocery store -- I've heard a lot of friends come up and say, hey, everything that I'm seeing now -- not everything -- but a lot of things I'm seeing now actually say gluten-free.

What is gluten?

And it's -- it's tough to explain. CHARABATY: So gluten is a part of a protein found in wheat, rye and barley, mostly. And so, in theory, it should be easy, or relatively easy, to avoid these grains. However, gluten can be found in many foods -- especially prepared foods, medication, cosmetics. It is often used in prepared food as an emulsifier or stabilizer. So gluten can hide in a lot of different food that you don't think contain wheat, rye or barley.

COLLINS: Yes, even medications.

CHARABATY: Absolutely. Even medication. And, as you mentioned before, the patient with celiac disease, they will require vitamin supplementation. And one of the tricky parts is to find the right vitamin that does not contain gluten.

COLLINS: And, unfortunately, my understanding is it's tough to research this because, really, there are no drugs to actually treat celiac disease.

So quickly, before we let you go, the research money, is it tough to come by?

CHARABATY: Well, for now, the treatment is to avoid gluten. And, unfortunately, there is not a lot of research money going into understanding better what is celiac disease and how to treat it better.


CHARABATY: So, pharmacological -- I'm sorry -- pharmaceutical companies haven't been interested yet in looking for a drug that will help patients with celiac disease. And that would be a wonderful thing, especially for children who have to follow a very restrictive diet.


Well, we appreciate that.

And we're going to be talking a lot more about all of those things, specifically the pharmaceuticals, coming up later in the week.

Dr. Eileen Charabaty, thanks so much for your time here today.

I want to direct people, also, to the Web site. For more information about celiac disease, symptoms and treatments, you can go to

A firestorm closes a major stretch of Los Angeles freeway over the weekend and today commuters plot a new path to work.

Severe drought reduces lake levels in North Georgia. New water worries for millions of people. We're going to be talking about that with an expert.

And missile defense -- tensions between the U.S. and Russia. One Polish town now at the center of the storm.


COLLINS: Well, it is cold and snowy in Colorado, but the Rockies are red hot. Baseball fans -- you know I'm not talking about the weather -- but meteorologist Rob Marciano certainly will, coming up in just a moment.

And a soccer player sent to the sidelines. A referee didn't like what she was wearing.

That story now from reporter Summer Smith.

She's with affiliate Bay News 9 in Palm Harbor, Florida.


SUMMER SMITH, BAY NEWS 9 CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Fifteen- year-old Iman Khalil of Springhill is showing off her skills as she plays an afternoon of soccer with her Hernando Heat teammates -- skills she didn't get to use Saturday on this same field in Palm Harbor.

I. KHALIL: He looked at me and he was like, "You can't play with the head scarf."

SMITH: Khalil, who is Muslim, wears a head scarf everywhere she goes -- even on the soccer field. But Saturday a referee said her head covering was a violation of the rules and ordered her to remove it or sit out. The decision shocked Khalil and her mother, Lisa Allen- Khalil.

LISA ALLEN-KHALIL, IMAN KHALIL'S MOTHER: We've experienced anything like this before. Iman has been playing soccer for many years and what she wears is pretty consistent from one game to another.

SMITH: To add more fuel to the fire, after the referee made his decision, league officials told him the girl wasn't breaking any rules and he should let her play. But he refused.

According to U.S. Soccer, players can only wear a standard uniform like their jersey, shorts and shoes, and anything extra is not allowed. However, this memo was sent out in 2002, stating that certain religions that require members to wear head coverings have permission to do so -- a memo the referee might not have read.

MICHAEL GANN, UNITED SOCCER ASSOCIATION: So, unfortunately, it was not available to the referee and he was not aware of it.

SMITH: We were not able to reach referee for a comment this weekend. In the meantime, Michael Gann, vice president of the United Soccer Association, who oversees the league, says a referee normally has the final say on the field, but in this case, believes the referee was wrong and overreacted.

GANN: The referees are expected to make discretionary calls. Unfortunately, sometimes they stick too far to the letter of the rule.

SMITH: Khalil says she just wants to put this behind her.

I. KHALIL: I felt really bad because I felt like I let the team down because I didn't get to play.

SMITH: And says while on the field, she just wants to focus us on her love of soccer, instead of her religion.

In Pinellas County, Summer Smith, Bay News 9.


COLLINS: Good morning once again, everybody.

I'm Heidi Collins.

Stay informed all day right here in the CNN NEWSROOM.

Here's what's on the rundown.

Crews get I-5 up and running just in time for the morning rush in Los Angeles. A horrific pileup shut down the road all weekend.

Where did all the water go?

Atlanta's reservoirs are drying up fast. The city and the Southeast struggling now with an historic drought.

T.I. accused of buying machine guns and silencers. A rap star goes to court this Monday, October 15th.

You are in THE NEWSROOM.

It is 7:00 a.m. In Los Angeles and thousands of commuters are waking up to see their dream did come true overnight. Just a few hours ago, crews reopened most of Interstate 5, a major north-south freeway in L.A. County. But drivers are still being urged to avoid it if they can.