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Pakistan in Crisis; Broadway Stagehands on Strike; Bernard Kerik Takes a Fall; Norman Mailer Dies

Aired November 10, 2007 - 11:00   ET


T.J. HOLMES ,CNN ANCHOR: Hello there, everybody. It's Saturday, November the 10th and you are in the CNN NEWSROOM and we are glad you're in the NEWSROOM with us. I'm T.J. Holmes.
BETTY NGUYEN, CNN ANCHOR: And hi there everybody, I'm Betty Nguyen. Happening right now, new protests but there could be an end in sight to the state of emergency in Pakistan. We talk to the leader of the opposition, Benazir Bhutto, about the crisis.

HOLMES: And they say the show must go on. That's just something they say, because the curtain is closing on Broadway right now. We are live with the latest.

NGUYEN: And he was combative, controversial, not to mention one of America's greatest writers. We are remembering literary lion Norman Mailer in the NEWSROOM.

HOLMES: But up first here, promises and protest in Pakistan. That is the story today, where government promises have so far failed to silence critics of general and President Pervez Musharraf and his controversial state of emergency that has been declared.

The office of Pakistan's attorney general says the emergency order will end within a month, but so far little evidence that it's winding down. And sources tell CNN three reporters from the British newspaper "The Daily Telegraph" have been ordered to get out of the country.

NGUYEN: Former Pakistani Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto is no longer confined to her home, but she is barred from visiting another prominent person. The Musharraf critic, the ousted chief justice of the Supreme Court.

CNN's Zain Verjee spoke with Bhutto and she says she hasn't talked to President Musharraf for a week.


BENAZIR BHUTTO, FORMER PAKISTANI PRIME MINISTER: I have not spoken to him since we decided to part ways for this protest. But before we parted ways, I did speak to him.

ZAIN VERJEE, CNN STATE DEPARTMENT CORRESPONDENT: When did you speak directly on the phone or in person?

BHUTTO: Not recently. Not since we decided as a party not to have any more contact.

VERJEE: But your advisers are speaking to his advisers so there has been contact and discussions?

BHUTTO: I have told my advisers not to speak and they're not mandated to speak, and I have told them that unless General Musharraf retires as chief of army staff as constitutionally mandated and unless the election schedule is adhered to, we should not send conflicting messages.

VERJEE: So you're saying, on the record, that you will categorically not speak, have any kind of communication, with General Musharraf? You have nothing to do with him?

BHUTTO: That's right, unless he meets these conditions. Then we can review the situation.

VERJEE: What do you say to critics, though, who say Benazir Bhutto is really playing a double game here. You're sitting on the fence. On the one hand calling for mass protests, on the other hand, leaving the door open for negotiations, and sort of you're the person in the country that can really mobilize the people on the street and you're using that as leverage over General Musharraf.

BHUTTO: Well I would say that's partially wrong and that's partially true. I'm not playing a double game. I'm very open about it. But I'm playing a middle game. I'm taking the middle path. I'm not taking an extreme path. I'm taking a middle path, and I have a difficult responsibility. There are some leaders in this country who do not have the strength to win an election and cannot form a government and they can take an extreme position and play to the gallery.

But my responsibility and that of other regional parties that can form governments is a different one, and so I'm taking a middle path like them, saying that these are the demands and this is what we want done. And if it's not done, well he should step aside.

VERJEE: Do you commit yourself to restoration of the Pakistani judiciary headed by Chief Justice Chaudhry just the way it was before the state of emergency was declared? Is that what you want?

BHUTTO: Well, I certainly want the revival of constitution, and that includes the restoration of the chief justices and the other judges of the Supreme Court.


NGUYEN: And of course, we will continue to follow the state of emergency in Pakistan.

In the meantime, we want to tell you about a grim milestone for U.S. troops in Afghanistan. 2007 is now the deadliest year since the invasion. Six American troops died yesterday when they were ambushed in the mountains of eastern Afghanistan. And that brings this year's death toll to at least 100. HOLMES: Well, he is either unlucky in love or something's up. Police believe something's up in the case of a police officer whose wife has disappeared. Drew Peterson is now a suspect in the disappearance of his current wife Stacy. His last wife was found dead in a bathtub. That was ruled an accident, however. But Drew Peterson now says that his current wife left him for another man and she's not really missing. But police now say they're investigating the case as a potential homicide.

We're now getting reaction from Peterson's stepmother.


PAM BOSCO, STACY PETERSON'S STEPMOTHER: There's been mixed emotions. The family has gone through a lot this past week. So I think like I said, the news out today gives us new hope that we will find Stacy and we hope that this case will progress a little bit faster now.


HOLMES: And Kathleen Savio is the name of Peterson's third wife. She's the one that was found dead in a bathtub three years ago. At the time, the coroner's jury ruled that that death was accidental. But the new twist here now is that prosecutors plan to exhume Savio's body to take another look at that case.

NGUYEN: Well, O.J. Simpson is cooling his heels for three days at least. His Vegas court hearing won't resume until Tuesday. So far though no witness has put a gun in Simpson's hand, but they have testified two men with Simpson were armed. Whether Simpson knew the men had weapons could be critical for the judge. He's trying to decide whether there's enough evidence to put Simpson on trial. Simpson is charged with armed robbery and kidnapping and prosecutors say he and his buddies held up a memorabilia dealer. Simpson though insists he was retrieving stuff stolen from him.

HOLMES: Well 9/11 propelled him to the national stage. A Republican on the rise, now former top cop Bernard Kerik is fighting criminal charges of his own. Also a presidential candidate is putting some daylight between himself and his old friend. Mary Snow now in New York for us.


MARY SNOW, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Once New York's top cop, former police commissioner Bernard Kerik is now under federal indictment for corruption charges. Following his arraignment, he left the court and took no questions, but vowed to fight the charges against him.

BERNARD KERIK, FMR. NEW YORK POLICE COMMISSIONER: My life has been marked by challenge. Whether it was growing up, being a cop, Rikers Island, the New York City Police department was the worst challenge until this time, my challenge during and after 9/11. This is a battle I'm going to fight. SNOW: Inside a federal courtroom Kerik pleaded not guilty to 16 counts on charges of conspiracy, tax fraud, and making false statements. Prosecutors allege Kerik accepted at least a half million dollars in gifts over several years while he was a city official, but never reported it. They allege he received more than $250,000 in renovations from a company seeking to do business with the city. And free rent, equivalent to approximately $236,000 at a luxury Manhattan apartment. Prosecutors say the apartment was paid for by someone Kerik agreed to do business with.

MICHAEL GARCIA, U.S. ATTORNEY: It's a sad day when this office returns an indictment against a former law enforcement officer, particularly one who served in positions as high as those held by Bernard Kerik. But we will not hesitate to pursue any public official who violates his oath and betrays the public trust, as Mr. Kerik is alleged to have done.

SNOW: Among the charges, prosecutors claim Kerik lied to the White House and other federal officials when he was being vetted for the post of homeland security secretary in 2004, a nomination supported by Rudy Giuliani. Kerik withdrew his nomination citing issues with a nanny. Giuliani now calls his then endorsement of Kerik a mistake.

RUDY GIULIANI (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: In that particular case, I pointed out that I made a mistake. I made a mistake in not clearing him effectively enough. I take the responsibility for that.

SNOW: As Giuliani seeks the Republican presidential nomination, his one-time friend faces trial, marking a dramatic fall from grace. Kerik rose from the detective ranks and went on to become both corrections and police commissioners under Giuliani.


NGUYEN: The long arm of the law finally catches up with a long- time fugitive. Debra Ann Gavin escaped from a Georgia prison in 1974. She was serving a robbery sentence. Federal marshals found her this weekend living an ordinary life in a small Texas town. Gavin had earned a nurse's degree, married, even raised a family. At first police thought she he would put up a fight.


COREY BRITT, DEP. FEDERAL MARSHAL: She said she needed to tend to her dogs so she was allowed to do that. While she was doing that, she obtained a shotgun. Pretty quick after we started talking to her and asked her to drop the gun, she complied.

LINDA VEITCH, STYLIST: You think you know people, but you don't know people.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: People have secrets. And hers have actually caught up with her after all these years.

(END VIDEO CLIP) NGUYEN: Secrets, all right. Police say Gavin stayed on the freight and narrow during her 33 years on the lam. Did her husband and children know about this checkered past? Well, that's not clear just yet.

HOLMES: All right first, it was the Hollywood writers. Now a new picket line on the streets of New York. Jim Acosta, say it ain't so.

JIM ACOSTA, CNN CORRESPONDENT: That's right. Broadway stagehands are on strike. And that means as many as 24 Broadway productions may be going dark tonight. We'll have the story coming up in a live report.

NGUYEN: Also -- a surprise snowfall. The winter wonderland caught many people off guard. We're going to show you where the snow is headed.

HOLMES: Also -- remembering a literary legend. You're watching CNN, the most trusted name in news.


NGUYEN: All right. So first it was TV and moviewriters. Now it's the Broadway stagehands. Just moments ago, stagehands went on strike against Broadway producers, shutting down dozens of plays and musicals on the great white way.

CNN's Jim Acosta is live in New York. And Jim, several things unfolding here. One, people have traveled many miles, spend a lot of money to watch the plays which they're probably not going to get to see today. And two, did this strike start early?

ACOSTA: I think it did, and, yes, I mean, if you just look at what's happening out here, this is not what people expect when they he travel halfway across the country or across the world to see a Broadway production. The lights may be going out on Broadway tonight for as many as two dozen Broadway productions because of the stagehand strike.

And this is the story behind me. You can see it unfolding. It just started this morning at about 10:00. We saw the picket signs come out.

The stagehands, these are the guys who work behind the scenes, do a lot of the technical work on the shows, are now picketing in front of the St. James Theatre which is the host of none other than "How the Grinch Stole Christmas." Maybe just a little bit of irony there. We've seen everything but a tear streaming down the cheek of Cindy Lou Who this morning as people have been showing up wondering whether they're going to see the Grinch and finding out that their plans to see a Broadway production have been canceled.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We pull up and all of a sudden we hear everything's going dark. And the kids are, like, what does dark mean? No lights? Yeah, basically, no lights and no show. So it's a shame that they start with a kids play. That's disappointing for the children, you know. We're all adults. Hopefully they would figure some adult solution out and not take it out on the kids.


ACOSTA: Ouch. Don't take it out on the kids. That's what that mother said right there. We're already hearing other sentiments like that.

And one has to wonder, the timing of this strike, what the stagehands were thinking, pulling out a work stoppage right before the matinee, the opening matinee of "How the Grinch Stole Christmas." Perhaps putting themselves in the position of being painted as the Grinch down here on Broadway for the upcoming holiday season, which is a big season down here.

What is this all about, this labor disagreement between the theater owners and the stagehands? Well, the theater owners would like to limit the number of stagehands that they have working on a certain productions to keep costs down. The stagehands are just balking at that proposal.

And all of this somewhat ties into the writers strike that we saw earlier this week. Those writers that went on strike shutting down a lot of TV and film production, a lot of these stagehands out here today thought that they were going to have work available to them because they thought, well, we're not working down here on Broadway.

Perhaps we could go down out and work at some of the other TV and film productions around town. Now the writers strike might throw a monkey wrench into that. So this is a big deal here in New York City, Betty. It's not often that we see two major work stoppages in the entertainment industry happening at the same time. But that's what we have going on right here in New York City.

NGUYEN: You may not see tears down the face of Cindy Lou Who, but you might see it on those tourists there who have come a long way to now maybe catch a movie instead. OK Jim, thank you.

Well the other big entertainment industry strike does continue. He mentioned it there, the TV and movie writers strike is now in its sixth day with no end in sight. Late-night network talk shows were in reruns all this week. NBC says non-striking "Tonight Show" staffers may face layoffs next week.

HOLMES: Well a great American voice of the 20th century falls silent. Celebrated author Norman Mailer died today at age 84. He burst into the literary scene in 1948 with his masterpiece "The Naked and the Dead." Mailer went on to write some 40 books and earned two Pulitzers. His style broke traditional barriers between fiction, biography and journalism. Mailer's turbulent personal life made as many headline as his writing. Six marriages, nine children, a drinker, a drug user, bombastic, boastful and extremely competitive with contemporaries like Capote, Vidal and Woolf. One critic calls Norman Mailer the crazy uncle of American literature.

NGUYEN: He's definitely going to be remembered in many ways.

HOLMES: In a lot of ways.

NGUYEN: In China, though they're teammates.

HOLMES: But on the court here in America, they're doing battle. Don't miss the hype surrounding the NBA's Chinese twin towers.

REYNOLDS WOLF, CNN METEOROLOGIST: And we'll get in some scattered showers, not just rain but snow showers in parts of the Northeast. We'll let you know what that it's going to mean for the rest of the day and for the rest of your weekend. That's coming up in just a few moments.


HOLMES: A live picture here of the shuttle Atlantis. It appears that it's ready for a journey here. Well actually, it just got done with a journey.

NGUYEN: It was moving so slowly you might have missed it.

HOLMES: Just arrived at the launchpad, I do believe it has. It takes about six hours to move the space shuttle from the hangar to the launchpad. We have been watching it all morning. Betty and I have been.

NGUYEN: It's been fascinating.

HOLMES: We came in early just to watch it. And it actually crawls along. The reason it takes so long, it goes a half mile an hour from the hangar to the launchpad. But the launch will be going a lot faster. It's scheduled December 6th.

NGUYEN: Yes, it's about the only time you can actually outrun the shuttle.

Hey, another day of containment and cleanup in San Francisco Bay and along California's Pacific Coast. About 58,000 gallons of bunker fuel spilled after a container ship hit the Bay Bridge on Wednesday. The accident didn't damage the bridge, but much of the spill from the ship has drifted into the Pacific Ocean. More than a dozen beaches are closed and dead and injured sea birds have been found coated in black goo. Researchers are trying to save hundreds of birds. And experts say it may be weeks, even months before all that mess is cleaned up.

As is often the case, northern Minnesota is getting an early taste of winter. Duluth reported an inch and a half of snow, and it was blamed for several traffic accidents. They were just surprised by all the snow that fell. What happened to those meteorologists up there?

(WEATHER REPORT) HOLMES: We'll turn to some sports here. Basketball, the rookie versus the veteran when China's giants of the NBA battle each other on the court. And China tuning in in a big way. Here now, Jaime Florcruz in Beijing.


JAIME FLORCRUZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The NBA season has just kicked off, but for these Chinese fans, the big game is now. Young and old, they all gather to watch the match-up between NBA teams featuring China's two basketball stars playing in Houston, Texas, thousands of miles away.

On one end of the court is Yao Ming, an NBA all-star playing center for the Houston Rockets. On the other, Yi Jianlian, the NBA rookie playing forward for the Milwaukee Bucks. The big game aired on 19 TV stations and two Web casts, drawing more than 200 million viewers in China. Some watched the game in their living rooms while others gathered in sports bars.

It's really like a gathering of fans watching the Super Cowl in the U.S. or watching the Arsenals playing Manchester United in Europe. Fans are divided and the atmosphere is electric.

These factory workers cheered for the 27-year-old Yao. "Yao Ming is China's pride," one said. "I cheer for him because he is the best."

Twenty-year-old Yi Jianlian has his share of fans. "As he gets more experience and improves his skills," this teenager gushes, "he will be one of the best in the NBA."

Yao and Yi are already towering icons in China, endorsing goods and services for Chinese and multinational companies. Their success in the NBA, experts say, will help China reach one of its Olympic dreams.

XU JICHENG, SPORTS COMMENTATOR: Yao Ming playing in the NBA. So the next year, China has a dream to be the breakthrough in basketball. Their aim is the top six or getting a medal.

FLORCRUZ: Chinese fans hope their two idols will score slam dunks when they play on their home court of the Beijing Olympics next summer.

Jaime Florcruz, CNN, Beijing.


NGUYEN: Fanfare surrounding that.

HOLMES: And the match-up, the experience did prevail as it often does. Yao Ming's Rockets beat Yi's Bucks 104-88.

NGUYEN: He has a few inches on him too, right?

HOLMES: He's got feet, look at that.

NGUYEN: He's huge, what?

HOLMES: 7'6". He makes this guy, who's probably close to seven feet himself look short.

NGUYEN: Look short, exactly. If we - especially if I stood up next to him --


NGUYEN: This is really a kind of a shocking idea. Listen to it -- guns for gas, another way to fill up your tank.

Plus --

JOSH LEVS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Nationwide, people have concerns about the cost of gasoline these days. We are going to take a look at some things President Bush has said about addiction to oil and then we're going to look at what he's actually done, if at all, to relieve that addiction. I'm Josh Levs, that's coming up. T.J.?

HOLMES: All right, thank you, Josh.

And a town torn apart by tornadoes, months after the devastation, Greensburg, Kansas, making a comeback. See how the same element that destroyed the town is being used to rebuild it.


NGUYEN: Get you a quick look at what's happening right now. There are new clashes in Pakistan today despite the government's promise that the controversial state of emergency declaration will be lifted within a month.

And the disappearance of a suburban Chicago police officer's wife is now being called a potential homicide and investigators say the husband clearly is a suspect.

Plus NASA is getting ready for a new mission. Atlantis is right now being rolled out to the launchpad two weeks before its scheduled liftoff.

A 1969 law keeps millionaires and billionaires from dodging the taxman, but the law was never pegged to inflation. Every year as wages increase, the tax sucks in more and more middle class families. Maybe you are feeling it. Well, if Congress doesn't fix the problem by the end of the year, 25 million taxpayers will get stuck paying thousands more in taxes and the White House has passed a bill correcting the problem, but now it's up to the Senate. Here's congressional correspondent Jessica Yellin.


JESSICA YELLIN, CNN CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Ron and Sharon Jakubek are worried. If this tax bill doesn't become law, their lives will change dramatically.

RON JAKUBEK, TAXPAYER: I just feel like the, you know, middle class is getting squeezed out.

YELLIN: This year, the alternative minimum tax, which was meant to capture money from millionaires, could hit some families earning $50,000 a year. And a family of four with a household income of $75,000 could see their tax bill double.

Democrats have proposed a solution that would help millions of Americans avoid that new tax. Republicans object to the way it's paid for, because it raises taxes on others.

REP. TOM REYNOLDS (R), NEW YORK: You're going to hear tax gap, tax fairness, tax equity. I promise you that results right here in this bill as a tax increase.

YELLIN: Democrats say, not so fast. The only ones paying more would be financial bigwigs, managers of major investment organizations, like private equity firms and hedge funds.

REP. NANCY PELOSI (D-CA), HOUSE SPEAKER: The bill is about tax fairness. It's about fiscal responsibility, and, again, it's about keeping America competitive.

REP. JIM MCDERMOTT (D), WASHINGTON: The Republicans are willing to say that 50,000 rich fat cats are more important than 21 million middle-class folks in this country.

YELLIN: It's not clear this bill will get through the Senate and the president has vowed to veto it, which is cause for concern to the Jakubeks. The disagreement over this bill is even more intense in the Senate. Democrats there are still trying to see if they can find an alternative way to pay for this bill or whether they should pay for it at all.

Jessica Yellin, CNN, Capitol Hill.


HOLMES: Well gas prices are so high some people he are actually using their gun to get gas. No, they're actually not holding up the gas station. They're actually - police in Cleveland, Ohio are offering free fill-ups for people who bring in a unloaded working handgun to the city's convention center today. They first 450 people to surrender a handgun will get a $100 gas card. Cleveland officials hope the guns for gas swap will help curb the city's high homicide rate.

NGUYEN: I wonder why they're just limiting to 450. I mean if you're trying to get the guns off the street, just bring them all in.

HOLMES: They can't give out all the money. Maybe they have so much money for the budget of the gas. Maybe that's it.

NGUYEN: Is that what it is? We'll see how that works. HOLMES: We'll see how it works. And Josh, we were talking to you earlier. You say we need to this in a year or so and see if the rates go down.

NGUYEN: Maybe a week or so.

LEVS: A week or so, six months or so. If you were somebody who was going to commit a homicide, are you now not going to because you got $100 of free gasoline?

HOLMES: Well, you need gas in your car to go commit a crime.

LEVS: Maybe it's one stone, two birds. All right, I don't have all the time in the world I'm being told. OK so here's the deal folks. Because everyone is so concerned about the price of gasoline these days, we decided to take a look at President Bush's record compared to what he says he wants to accomplish and see what he actually has accomplished.


LEVS (voice-over): With gas prices soaring, the president often says he's trying to solve energy woes.

GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: For too long, our nation has been dependent on foreign oil.

LEVS: Has he helped relieve that addiction? During his years in office, America's gasoline consumption has continued its climb from 8.6 million barrels a day to 9.2 million barrels. That's 385 million gallons every day. And the percentage of foreign oil has jumped. This is striking, given what he said in 2000 when he was running for office, attacking the Clinton administration.

BUSH: Today we import 56 percent of our oil. In 20 years on our current path, that figure could be as high as two-thirds.

LEVS: Guess what? Under his presidency, it's that high now. The U.S. imports two-thirds of its oil, and critics point out that while he often talks about --

BUSH: Renewable sources of energy.

LEVS: His funding requests for renewable energy programs have actually stayed the same at about $1.2 billion each year.

Last year the president introduced new programs called the American Competitiveness Initiative and the Advanced Energy Initiative aimed in part at steering drivers away from gasoline.

The White House Office of Management and Budget says the president has increased research funding and developed international partnerships to accelerate research and the use of clean energy technology.

Still, when it comes to breaking this addiction, even the president isn't promising much concrete success by the time he leaves office.

BUSH: This bill and the work we've done in reducing gasoline usage in the United States by 20 percent in the next 10 years.


LEVS: And that will bring us to 2017. But the thing is by then, there will have been at least one more administration, if not two. And they're going to enact their own policies and then these new presidents or president if there's two terms will end up assuming responsibility. So even if you look that far ahead, it's not necessarily going to be President Bush's legacy himself.

NGUYEN: Well, we do know, Josh, there's now a Democratic Congress. So what's the latest when it comes to them and the energy issue? Have they made any progress?

LEVS: That's fair. Well, you know what happened? It sounded like they were. This was another item on the list of things Democrats made us think were going to happen.

If you look back to June, they're having a news conference in the Senate saying, hey, we passed this great legislation for energy. It's really going to bring about change in America.

A lot of major leaders were talking about it. But what happened was the House had its own version. Then the House and the Senate couldn't get together anyway. Anyway, there hasn't been energy legislation passed through this Congress. That's one thing we're hearing complaints about. Democrats say they're still on it. They'll push this year, they'll push next year. So far no major legislation to change anything.

HOLMES: So many other things going on, right?

LEVS: They've been busy accomplishing.

NGUYEN: A lot.

HOLMES: That's the reality. Thank you.

Well folks, starting from scratch.

NGUYEN: Yes, a town literally blown away is on its way back. And it's going green. I'm going to take you there next in the NEWSROOM.

HOLMES: But first, your environment and your health in today's Greenhouse report. Gerri Willis has a look at a natural substitute for synthetic wall coverings.


GERRI WILLIS, PERSONAL FINANCE EDITOR (voice-over): Synthetic wall coverings can be harmful to your health and environment. Clay plaster is an earth friendly alternative to acrylic, cement or lime plaster and is just as easy to apply.

SCOTT NELSON, NATURAL WALLS: A coat of primer, which is a non- toxic primer that has a very sharp sand in it that just makes the clay stick to it nicely. And then a first coat, you're going to let that dry, then a second coat of the plaster.

WILLIS: One plus for plaster is 100 percent natural.

NELSON: Most of the material comes from recycled materials from other industries like crushed limestone would come from the stone industry.

WILLIS: And you can texture the clay on the walls to match the room.

JEREMY PETTY, NOHO MODERN: We have about two or three different textures of American clay going on. One that's very highly waxed, polished finish that almost looks like a Venetian plaster, but really at almost half the cost and with no chemicals.

WILLIS: That's this week's Greenhouse.



NGUYEN: Greensburg, Kansas, nearly vanished in the blink of an eye, flattened by a tornado in the middle of the night. It looked like the end. But, it wasn't. I went to see for myself and found the town setting a new standard for rebuilding responsibly.


PAMELA MUNTZ, TORNADO SURVIVOR: You could hear it just ripping the house away. You could hear the roof going. You could hear things hitting the house.

NGUYEN: May 4th, 2007, an F-5 tornado nearly wiped Greensburg, Kansas off the map.

MUNTZ: I really felt like we were going to die that night.

NGUYEN: In fact, 11 people did die. The rest are left with this -- painful reminders of what the town used to look like.

MUNTZ: She lost her job. The church was gone.

NGUYEN: Pamela Muntz has lived here 32 years. She says the only way to heal is to focus on the future and today, part of her future just arrived.

MUNTZ: When it got here today, it became reality. It became reality. It's really here. It's going on the foundation. It's reality.

NGUYEN: And it's emotional for you. MUNTZ: It is. It is emotional. It is. You don't realize how important your home is. To me, your home is your safe haven and we've not had a safe haven for five months.

NGUYEN: She now finds peace of mind in this customized modular home. It comes already built and it's designed to be energy efficient.

MUNTZ: It's all together! It's one piece now. It's not two pieces!

NGUYEN: That's the beauty of starting over. The tornado wiped the slate clean. Now the town is rebuilding with a conscience. The goal is to go green, create a place that is so environmentally friendly, it sets the standard for communities across the nation.

Where was your basement?


NGUYEN: Steve Hewitt, who also lost his home in the tornado, is the city administrator helping lead the way.

HEWITT: By building efficient homes, you're seeing less energy wasted. By not wasting energy, then you have an opportunity to be friendly to your environment, which is important because we're not building a town. We're not making 10-year decisions. We're making 100- year decisions. We're building a town for our kids, not just for ourselves.

NGUYEN: Which is why students are taking part in the design. Just listen to some of the ideas on the table.

LEVI SMITH, HIGH SCHOOL SOPHOMORE: Geothermal energy, we're talking about wind energy.

TAYLOR SCHMIDT, HIGH SCHOOL JUNIOR: Use of a lot of natural lighting and we're going to have -- we're trying to get -- Kansas has the opportunity to -- is giving schools the opportunity to be wind powered and if that came through, it would just be incredible. That we have our own wind turbine and we're completely self-reliant, energy wise.

NGUYEN: It's almost ironic how the same element that destroyed the town is being used to rebuild it. But according to city planner, Stephen Hardy, it just makes sense.

STEPHEN HARDY, BNIM CITY PLANNER: They're really starting to understand that that means money. There is money blowing around in the air, that it's a resource that they can harness.

NGUYEN: While still in its early phases, the plan is already creating a buzz that's attracted camera crews from the Discovery Channel. Producer Johnny Gould says Discovery plans a 13-part documentary called "Eco Town."

JOHNNY GOULD, PRODUCER, PILGRIM FILMS: For a lot of these people, green was a color on the wall and now they're learning that building green can be a type of nail or a specific type of siding or a special window that you use that's more energy efficient.

NGUYEN: And that can be more expensive. Part of the challenge is getting people to make the investment now so they'll save later. But when most of the town is still living out of FEMA trailers, there are those who just want their house built the fastest way possible, even if it's not green.

How much of this town is going to be eco friendly?

HEWITT: Well, our goal is to make everything eco-friendly. I think we've got - is that a goal we can reach? I don't know. We're sure going to try.

NGUYEN: And this grandmother of two is determined to do her part.

MUNTZ: I see this house and I'm so excited and I'm not even thinking about starting over. It is a new life and it's going to be good.

NGUYEN: For both her family and a town that's raising the bar on what it means to rebuild responsibly.


NGUYEN: You know what's so interesting is so many people in the town, despite they're having to still live in these FEMA trailers re willing to wait, to wait to make sure that they rebuild the town green. And they're going to go all the way when it goes to the different nails, the types of insulation, the types of construction to make sure that this is going to be an eco-town of the future. It's truly setting the standard for the rest of the communities around the nation.

HOLMES: I remember when we saw that story, we couldn't believe that town was literally wiped out.

NGUYEN: You can see in the video, it still is. The slate is clean there. So for the first time -- how many times do you get a chance like this to start over completely? That's what they're doing, and they're doing it responsibly. There you go, see? That's where homes used to be.

HOLMES: We'll see them again down the road, see how that town works out.

NGUYEN: We'll be watching.

HOLMES: Well turning to a serious story here, a serious note. A lot of -- an issue that affects a lot of Americans, a lot of people as kids -- wedgies.

NGUYEN: I was wondering where you were going with that.

HOLMES: Two kids on a mission to wipe out the wedgie by doing that right there.

NGUYEN: How does it work?

HOLMES: You see how that works? It's the underwear.

NGUYEN: It is a scientific miracle, folks. You don't want to miss it. It's next.


NGUYEN: Well, it is not a sparkling palace for sure. Let's just say it's the tidy bowl. A house in South Korea built in the shape of a toilet. Why, you ask? We don't know. The house is flush with four bathrooms, each with motion sensors that activate classical music as you take care of your business. The house's showpiece is a bathroom with a floor to ceiling window. Thankfully, it turns opaque at the touch of a button. You don't want people watching you as you take care of that business. The other plan though is to charge $50,000 a night for folks who want to actually spend the night in the toilet.


NGUYEN: It will cost $1 just to visit the bowl. That's not bad, $1. I guess just to see it, not to spend the toilet.

HOLMES: But why do want to get in the toilet?

NGUYEN: And spend the night in the toilet. The doghouse is one thing, but the toilet?

HOLMES: The toilet is another.

NGUYEN: Going down the drain. All right, want to tell you about this. T.J. says he's never had one.

HOLMES: Never.

NGUYEN: I don't believe it. He has an older sister. I'm sure she's given him a wedgie.

HOLMES: Let's get her on phone right now. But, we have solved the problem of the wedgie. No more wedgies ever because a couple of Ohio twins, Jared and Justin Serovich, are the inventors of what they call the Rip Away 1000. They are breakaway boxers, underwear that stops the wedgie cold. You can't wedige. They're wedgie-proof. The third graders had us rolling this morning.


NGUYEN: Jared and Justin Serovich are the twin inventors of the Rip Away 1000. And they are joining us from Columbus, Ohio. All right Jared, I hear that you are the wedgie king. Did you just torment your brother with wedgies all the time? How did you guys come up with this?

JARED SEROVICH, CO-INVENTOR, "RIP AWAY 1000:" Well, one day in our basement we were giving each other wedgies and we got in trouble. NGUYEN: Of course you did.

JARED SEROVICH: So our mom said for somebody to invent wedgie- proof underwear as a joke. And we took them seriously and we invented them because there was the Invention Convention coming up and we needed something to make.

NGUYEN: Look at the face on Justin. Justin, your facial expression, it looks like you already have a wedgie as we speak.

HOLMES: And, fellas, help us -- oh, maybe you do.

Help us understand, fellas. It's been a while since we were in school. In school, even though you don't get wedgies, are wedgies still a problem? Do kids still do this to each other in schools these days?

JUSTIN SEROVICH, CO-INVENTOR, "RIP AWAY 1000:" Not really in our school.

JARED SEROVICH: In our school they don't, but in other schools, probably so.

HOLMES: Probably so. All right, now explain to us how these things work.

NGUYEN: Yes, we need a demonstration. Can one of you give the other a wedgie for us?


NGUYEN: Proudly.

HOLMES: All right.

NGUYEN: Walk us through it. Wow. Oh, that was kind of violent there, Jared, you are the wedgie king.

HOLMES: So wait a minute. Justin, you are underwearless right now is that right?


HOLMES: How is that for you?

NGUYEN: And he is very proud of it. Is that a victory dance for losing your underpants? All right. So tell me Jared, now that you've just ripped away his underwear, these things are Velcro, is that how they work?

JARED SEROVICH: Yeah. Because we put the -- cut the bottom seam and the side seams and secured it back with Velcro. So when they pull up like this, it will just rip away.

HOLMES: What's supposed to happen if somebody gives somebody a wedgie on a playground and these wedgie-proof underwear come out? Do you give the underwear back or keep them? What you're supposed to do with the underwear now that you've got them in your hand?

JUSTON SEROVICH: Well, the bully will probably have it as a souvenir, or when you tell a teacher, the teacher will have to give it back. The teacher will make the boy give it back probably.

NGUYEN: Justin, you're having a good time. Are you enjoying not having any underwear on right now? What's going on? All right. You guys are too much for us. Well, you know, this thing was all the hit. Are we going to see these in stores anytime soon?

JUSTIN SEROVICH: Probably in a while.

JARED SEROVICH: When the stores call, they can carry them, but they haven't called yet.

HOLMES: I'm sure they will. We're going to have to let you go and we're going to have to let Justin, you get some underwear on.

NGUYEN: Please.

JUSTIN SEROVICH: I don't want to.

NGUYEN: You don't want any? OK. Keep your pants on then.

HOLMES: Justin, no, no, really.

NGUYEN: Take your hands out of your pockets, my friend. So nice talking to you both today. It's been a pleasure. Best of luck to you.

HOLMES: See you, fellows.

NGUYEN: Wedgie on.


NGUYEN: I just love those two.

HOLMES: I hope he got some underwear. No word on if he got underwear or not. But he was clearly enjoying being free.

NGUYEN: Freedom.


NGUYEN: Completely free. I'm sure someone will give them a call. There's a market for that somewhere, right?


FREDRICKA WHITFIELD, CNN ANCHOR: Well now that they've, you know, made the plea for folks -- I'm barging in on your conversation. It was so cute. Good morning.

NGUYEN: Good morning, Fred.

WHITFIELD: I'm sure the stores will be calling and placing the orders.

NGUYEN: The wedgie 1000.

WHITFIELD: I love it.

HOLMES: Can you top that at noon?

WHITFIELD: No, end of story. Well you know what, I don't know. Bill Schneider, have you seen him this morning? He has one heck of a hat. There you go. He is going to talk to us about why the west is so important in presidential politics. And some other things all presidential as well.

And we're going to talk about autism taking a very serious turn. You know what? The lady who delivers, Jenny McCarthy, she is one who makes you laugh, and really kind of breaks it down as to whether there are more cases of autistic kids or whether it's the fact that we're doing a better job of diagnosing them. She has really strong opinions about that and really how to treat autistic kids. Her child Evan is autistic. You know she wrote a book about it, "Louder than Words." It's a great book. If you've read any of her books, "Belly Laughs."

NGUYEN: She's hilarious, breaks down it down for you.

WHITFIELD: She sits down with us, talks a little bit. You'll want to catch a little bit about that.

NGUYEN: Very good, thank you, Fred. Stay free of the wedgies, OK?

WHITFIELD: Yes, I'm still liking that wedgie story. That was very cute, cute kids.

NGUYEN: All right, three men alive today because of one amazing act of bravery.

HOLMES: And one of these three men is honored for heroism because his fellow soldiers say he risked his life to save theirs. That story next.


NGUYEN: All right, let me paint this picture for you. Two of his men fell under enemy fire, but there was no way Lieutenant Walter Bryan Jackson was going to let them die.

HOLMES: The army is calling it extraordinary heroism and CNN's Barbara Starr has one of the ultimate, I've got your back stories.


CAPT. ERIC STAINBROOK, WOUNDED IRAQ VETERAN: I really thought I was going to pass away. I was in a lot of blood. And here was Lieutenant Jackson overtop of me. I thought he was going to be the last person I saw alive. MASTER SGT. DAVID SAPP, WOUNDED IRAQ VETERAN: I'm lying on the ground, in and out of consciousness. And Lieutenant Walter Jackson came running to go my aid, started administering first aid and firing at the enemy to get them to redirect their fire away from me.

BARBARA STARR, PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT (voice over): Two soldiers gravely wounded, reunited with Lieutenant Walter Bryan Jackson, the officer who risked his own life and was wounded himself trying to save them.

LT. WALTER BRYAN JACKSON, IRAQ WAR HERO: And I thought to myself, this is not the way I want to go out, you know, because I'm laying there prepared to die, essentially.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The president of the United States of America has awarded the Distinguished Service Cross to Second Lieutenant Walter B. Jackson.

STARR: Jackson has received the Distinguished Service Cross for what the army says is extraordinary heroism in Anbar Province in September 2006. There is an unshakeable bond amongst three men who thought they would die together on an Iraqi street.

JACKSON: Basically, I was thinking those two guys were the last two people I would see, so I was going to do whatever I could to help them out. So I shot as much as I could until I was out of ammunition. Then I went to reload and I didn't have the strength left to put that magazine back in the weapon.

STARR: Jackson refused medical treatment until his men were safe.

JACKSON: I knew I was wounded, but there were more important things to worry about, like the two guys with me that were much worse off.

STARR: The Distinguished Service Cross he now wears is the nation's second highest award for heroism in action. But these three combat veterans say it was surviving together that is the most important thing.

Barbara Starr, CNN, the Pentagon.


NGUYEN: What a great story of courage. Well, CNN NEWSROOM continues with Fredricka Whitfield. Hi there, Fred.