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President Obama Touring Asia; 9/11 Alleged Terrorists Trial to be Held in New York

Aired November 14, 2009 - 11:00   ET


T.J. HOLMES, CNN ANCHOR: Hello there, everybody. From the CNN center, you are in the CNN NEWSROOM for this Saturday, November 14th. I'm T.J. Holmes.

BETTY NGUYEN, CNN ANCHOR: Hi there, everybody. I'm Betty Nguyen. It's 11:00 a.m. here in the east, 8:00 a.m. out on the West Coast. Let's get right to it.

HOLMES: President Obama arriving in Singapore, it's the second stop of his eight-day Asian tour. He's attending the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation forum also known as APEC. Earlier in Tokyo, the president pledged to strengthen U.S. ties with Asia, declaring America a nation of the Pacific. He says all Americans should know what happens in Asia has a direct effect on their lives here.


BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: These are steps that the United States will take to improve prosperity, security, and human dignity in the Asia Pacific. We will do so through our close friendship with Japan, which will always be a centerpiece of our efforts in the region.

We will do so as a partner through the broader engagement that I've discussed today. We will do so as a Pacific nation with a president who was shaped in part by this piece of the globe. And we will do so with the same sense of purpose that has guided our ties with the Japanese people for nearly 50 years.


NGUYEN: So, why does this trip matter so much? Well, Asia, for all intents and purposes is America's banker. China, Japan are the two biggest holders of treasury securities to the tune of $1.5 trillion. Asia's also the place where millions of American jobs have gone over the past decade.

Now, that said, here's the breakdown for you. The president will visit four nations over eight days, the first stop, Japan, where he met with their prime minister. This hour the president is in Singapore and he'll also visit China and South Korea. Now the trip's mission to try diplomatically to Prod leaders to get tough on North Korea for its nuclear program. The president will also try to persuade China, an economic powerhouse, to buy more U.S. goods.

HOLMES: From the onset of the President's Asian tour -- excuse me -- over the decision to try those accused on the September 11th terrorist attacks, including the confessed mastermind Khalid Sheikh Mohammed just blocks away from ground zero. CNN Senior White House Correspondent Ed Henry has more from Tokyo.


ED HENRY, CNN SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Some of the president's biggest problems followed him to Asia, especially news that 9/11 mastermind Khalid Sheikh Mohammed and four other Guantanamo detainees will be sent to New York for trial, raising questions about whether the Obama administration can get guilty verdict in civilian court.

OBAMA: I'm absolutely convinced that Khalid Sheikh Mohammed will be subject to the most exacting demands of justice. The American people will insist on it. My administration will insist on it.

HENRY: And at a news conference with Japanese Prime Minister Yukio Hatoyama, the president was also pressed on whether he's taking too long to decide on new troop levels in Afghanistan. Mr. Obama promised an announcement soon but made no apologies for the delay.

OBAMA: I am very pleased with how the process has proceed and those who participated, I think would acknowledge that it has been not an academic exercise but a necessary process in order to make sure that we're making the best possible decisions.

HENRY: Hatoyama is pledging several billion dollars in reconstruction funds for Afghanistan but has abruptly stopped refueling ships headed to war. The new prime minister ran on a platform of asserting Japanese independence, which is why he's also pushing hard for U.S. troops stationed in Okinawa, a source of major protests here, to be relocated to more remote areas of the country.

YUKIO HATOYAMA, JAPANESE PRIME MINISTER (through a translator): It will be a very difficult issue, for sure, but as time goes by, I think it will become even more difficult to resolve the issue.

OBAMA: Both Yukio and I were elected on the promise of change, but there should be no doubt, as we move our nations in the new direction, our alliance will endure.

HENRY (on camera): Meanwhile, the president's alliance with his white house counsel is ending after Greg Craig resigned Friday. He's being replaced by democratic attorney Bob Bauer in a move that white house aides say is amicable, but other democrats together with the move say that Craig was forced out because of mistakes dealing with the closure of Guantanamo, yet another sign that dealing with terrorist suspects has become very, very difficult for this White House.

Ed Henry, CNN, Tokyo.


NGUYEN: President Obama urging congress to slow down on Ft. Hood. He says lawmakers shouldn't look into intelligence failures until police and military officials complete their work on the shooting. Mr. Obama has already ordered his own intelligence review of Major Nidal Hasan, the accused gunman.


OBAMA: If there was failure to take appropriate action before the shootings, there must be accountability. Beyond that, and most importantly, we must quickly and thoroughly evaluate and address any flaws in the system so that we can prevent a similar breach from happening again. Our government must be able to act swiftly and surely when it has threatening information. And our troops must have the security that they deserve.


NGUYEN: Several of the 13 Ft. Hood victims will be laid to rest this afternoon. Among them Staff Sergeant Justin Decrow of Illiana, Army Reserved Staff Sergeant Amy Krueger of Wisconsin and Private Michael Pearson of Illinois.

HOLMES: Well, another arrest in a child sex abuse case in Missouri that reportedly goes back decades. Excuse me. Darrel Mohler is the sixth member of his family charged with rape. He was arrested yesterday in his home in Florida, one day after calling the allegations against his brother and four adult nephews reports felonies, these allegations including bestiality and forcing children to fake marriages to relatives.

This supposedly all happened back in the 1980s and 1990s. Missouri investigators say they have completed their search of the property once owned by the Mohler family. No word yet on exactly what was found.

NGUYEN: Well, a train wreck in India today has killed at least six people. It happened in the northwestern part of the country, and the train was bound for New Delhi. Investigators say 15 cars rolled on their side when the driver suddenly braked because of poor visibility. Well, a broken rail track punctured one of the cars that was speeding, and that apparently led to the fatalities.

HOLMES: Team spirit took an unexpected turn for the worse last night in Union, South Carolina. A wall collapsed just after halftime at a high school football game. Check out the chaos.


(People shouting)



HOLMES: Well, in all here a little more than two dozen students fell six feet to the ground when the Stadium Wall gave way. Twelve students were hospitalized. None of those injuries, however, are considered life-threatening. The engineers are trying to determine exactly what went wrong with that Wall.

NGUYEN: Well, what is going on the East Coast? We're going to find out right now with Karen Maginnis because they have dealt with a nor'easter that caused quite a few problems.

KAREN MAGINNIS, CNN METEOROLOGIST: Yes, they really have. Take a look at this. This is from a website called weather bonk. I know that sounds strange, This is from Eastern Massachusetts from just a couple of minutes ago. There you can kind of see the waves out there looking very ominous. They are still under a coastal flood warning until later on this evening. So they'll have to deal with that.

Still a nor'easter still plaguing that area. The nor'easter essentially a nor'ida because there was a weather system moving through, Ida a hurricane in the Golf of Mexico and became a tropical storm just before it made landfall. And it moved across the southeast, as it moved across the southeast, the remnants merged with this other weather system and now it's just lying off the southern New England coast. But that moisture is still moving back onshore.

So as it continues to do this, it's not allowing that moisture to escape from those bays and those inlets, so it's still being thrown onshore, so there's beach erosion. Those bays and inlets are filling up. Some of those roads are still closed. We've got some pictures shot yesterday out of Huntington, Maryland.

This is right around the piney point area. You see those folks sandbagging. That's because they're trying to save these homes in this area from going into the Chesapeake Bay. And that was a very real possibility. I suppose it still is today because they are still under a coastal flood warning.

Well there you can see, they're still digging up the area, still trying to protect these homes. They were pounded by the high winds, the heavy waves, and it looks like it is going to ease up just a little bit as we go into this evening. But as I mentioned, that area of low pressure that once was Ida is still trying to move away.

This is very late in the season for this to be happening. But nonetheless, they have really been bearing up under this. All right. Let's talk about those winds. Up around hurricane force. Ironic that it would be hurricane-force winds when this system was past hurricane- force winds. It was down to a tropical storm, meaning winds were right around 39 to just under 74 miles an hour. So somewhere in there. And it was much less than that.

So in the forecast, what we're looking at is a weather system that's going to be developing out across the interior west. Here we go. We're looking at it. This could bring a couple of feet of snowfall into the Central Rockies right around this four corners region into New Mexico. Mild temperatures across the southwest, and there will be another weather system back across the interior west as we go into the latter part of the weekend -- T.J., Betty, back to you.

HOLMES: That's an awfully active pattern. All right, Karen. We appreciate it. Thanks so much.

NGUYEN: Well, a new report shows two groups are getting the H1N1 virus more than the rest in at least one major city. I will tell you who they are and what's going done about it.


NGUYEN: Missed opportunities. That is the message in the republicans' weekly address after the house passed, the health care reform bill. Take a look.


REP. MARK KIRK (R), ILLINOIS: The Pelosi health care bill has no significant lawsuit reforms and does not guarantee your medical rights from government waiting lines or restrictions. In the teeth of the great recession, the Pelosi bill would impose ten new taxes on the American economy.

The top combined tax rate for my state of Illinois would be four percentage points higher than for France. The democrat bill levies new taxes on health insurance, income, and even pacemakers. The bill also cuts health care for seniors. My parents and many of yours. With $500 billion in cuts for Medicare doctors, hospitals and advantage patients.


HOLMES: Our first lady Michelle Obama is defending the health care bill saying it will make Medicare more stable. Mrs. Obama was talking to women and senior citizens' advocates yesterday.


MICHELLE OBAMA, FIRST LADY OF THE UNITED STATES: And there's been a lot of misinformation on this topic, so, you know, I want to be clear. Nancy Ann mentioned this. Not a dime of the Medicare trust fund will be used to pay for reform. Health insurance reform will not endanger Medicare. It will make Medicare more stable and more secure. By eliminating wasteful subsidies to private insurance.


And cracking down on fraud and abuse throughout the system. This administration believes that we can bring down premiums for all our seniors and extend the life of the Medicare trust fund. And my husband believes that Medicare is a sacred part of America's social safety net, and it's a safety net that he will protect, he will protect with health insurance reform.


NGUYEN: Well, the CDC estimates 22 million Americans have gotten sick with the swine flu. And these people don't want to become part of that statistic, so check them out. They lined up in force early today at a suburban Atlanta High School for the H1N1 vaccine. Because of high demand and short supply, vaccinations were limited to babies, toddlers, pregnant women and people with chronic medical conditions.

HOLMES: Well, researches involve and have discovered a startling detail about the H1N1 flu virus. African-Americans and Latinos in Boston are getting it more than the rest of the city's population. CNN'S Deborah Feyerick explains.


DEBORAH FEYERICK, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The first Haitian Baptist Church in the heart of Boston feels as if it could just as easily be in the heart of Haiti. The service is in Creole, the signs in French, and the message on this Sunday is universal. The pastor urging everyone to put aside doubts that many Americans have and get their flu shots.

UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN: Enough are skeptical about the flu vaccine.

FEYERICK: Girley Diroshe (ph) is helping administer vaccines to her congregation as part of an unprecedented program by Boston health officials who discovered what they called an alarming trend. Blacks and Latinos disproportionately affected by the 2009 H1N1 outbreak in the City of Boston last spring.

BARBARA FERRER, EXEC. DIR., BOSTON PUBLIC HEALTH COMMISSION: Three-quarters of the people who were hospitalized in the City of Boston were flu were blacks and Latinos, even though they make up less than 50 percent of the population.

FEYERICK: In Boston, health officials say underlying medical conditions like asthma and diabetes may be one factor. But there other reasons, as well.

(on camera) There's also the issue of money. Parents can't afford to stay home and take care of a sick child. That means the child goes to school and the parent who may also be infected goes to work.

(voice-over) Nationwide the CDC found 50% of H1N1 deaths from April to August were among black and Latino children. Still, Boston is one of the only cities tracking swine flu by race. Officials there now classify minorities as high risk along with all pregnant women and children.

(on camera) Do you think Boston would have a higher mortality rate in the minority community were it not for this anticipated H1N1 vaccination program?


FEYERICK (voice-over): Dr. Anita Barry and her team of epidemiologists discovered the trend and nurses like Cindy Theodore targeted churches, tapping into the persuasive powers of pastors to get the word out.

CINDY THEODORE, R.N., BOSTON PUBLIC HEALTH COMM.: They're in church every week so, that's one way to get to talk to these people and offer them the help.

FEYERICK: Boston hopes to vaccinate roughly 300,000 people in the high-risk category.

(on camera) The CDC recently announced an estimated 540 children have died from H1N1 since the pandemic started in April.

Deborah Feyerick, CNN, New York.


NGUYEN: Well, mosque and Islamic schools caught in the middle of the government crackdown on businesses with alleged ties to Iran. We have those details.


HOLMES: One of our top stories we're keeping an eye on, President Obama arriving in Singapore a short time ago for today's Asia Pacific Economic Summit. If that's too much of a mouthful, you can just call it APEC. It's the president's first trip to Asia since he took office on January.

NGUYEN: Well, NASA officials sounded pretty optimistic for their next scheduled launch of the Space Shuttle Atlantis. Liftoff set from Monday afternoon just before 2:30 Eastern time and it's one of only six remaining Shuttle mission.

HOLMES: Hey, you want some of the Madoff's collection, it is up for grabs that we speak hundreds of items belonging to the now convicted finance CEO, being sold at an auction in New York. Proceeds will help reimburse the thousands of those victims in the Ponzi scheme. We'll have more top stories coming your way in about 20 minutes.

NGUYEN: Well, Muslim-Americans are lashing out at the federal government, and it's moving to seize a number of properties with possible links to Iran.

HOLMES: Mosques, Islamic schools, some of those buildings we're talking about, and Muslims say they're being unfairly targeted. Here now CNN'S Brian Todd.


BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): A Manhattan skyscraper, mosques and Islamic schools in five states, properties controlled by entities that U.S. officials say funnel money to Iran's nuclear program. One of the properties, an Islamic center in Houston, where the board chairman makes one thing clear.

UNIDENTIFIED MAN: We are not affiliated with any organizations. We lease this building and that's all I'm prepared to say at this point.

TODD: But the U.S. government has begun legal action to seize those properties and their profits, alleging that their owners violating American law. How? Jonathan Schanzer is now with the Jewish policy center which advocates a tough line against Iran. He was a treasury department counterterrorism analyst until 2007 and says this step is about U.S. sanctions against Iran.

JONATHAN SCHANZER, FORMER TREASURY DEPT. ANALYST: We have made it illegal for the Iranians to do business in this country, and it is based on that that these allegations have been leveled.

TODD: U.S. Officials have long suspected the owner of those properties, the New York based Alavi foundation, is a front for the Iranian government and the federal complaint puts Iran's Ambassador to the U.N. Mohammad Khazaee in the middle of the web.

It says Khazaee meetings with the Alavi Foundation director said it was necessary to increase the profit from the building in Manhattan, that Khazaee would determine the composition of the board of directors of the foundation, and that Khazaee told foundation officials, quote, "If there is an issue that needs to be conveyed to Tehran, let me know, I will convey it."

(on camera) Contacted by CNN, an adviser to Ambassador Khazaee did not comment. A lawyer for the Alavi Foundation says they've been cooperating with the U.S. government but will fight these allegations and are confident they will win. Muslim-American groups, meanwhile, don't buy the government's argument that it's only targeting the landlords of these mosques.

They say they're really not seizing mosques and the tenants and the people who worship at these places are OK.

IBRAHIM HOOPER, COUNCIL ON AMERICAN-ISLAMIC RELATIONS: Well, even though the government says they're not targeting the worshippers at the mosques, they're the ones who are going to be negatively impacted.

TODD, (voice-over): Abrahim Hooper says that's because of all the media coverage now descending on these mosques. He wonders how many worshippers will stop going to them and he says the timing couldn't be worse coming a week after the Ft. Hood shootings.

Brian Todd, CNN, Washington.


HOLMES: Let's turn to Richmond, California now, where they're getting some help out there trying to heal the students at the high school. Richmond High School. That was the site of the horrific gang rape not long ago. They're calling in an old pro.

Kim carter, you remember him, possibly, from the movie "Coach Carter." He returned to his former high school Thursday. Famous coach. He hosted a charity game there. It was a game between police officers and firefighters there. They are trying to help the kids get their minds off of what happened there and trying to move on, also trying to help raise awareness on student safety. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

COACH KEN CARTER, FORMER RICHMOND HIGH SCHOOL COUNCIL: For this to happen, the assault, it kind of put a black eye on Richmond. And this is our way of starting to rebuild and heal.

SGT. BISA FRENCH, RICHMOND POLICE DEPARTMENT: We see that when kids are involved in sports and other activities, they're less likely to get in trouble.


HOLMES: Again, a welcome diversion maybe for a lot of those students still trying to come to terms with what happened out there. Six suspects are in custody for that attack.

NGUYEN: Well, some say she came out of nowhere and invigorated John McCain's run for the white house. Well, now Sarah Palin is hitting the road again. But the question is, is this a book tour or the beginning of her bid for a higher office?


HOLMES: It's more than eight years now after the 9/11 terror attack, new controversy emerges over prosecuting those in the case, including the terrorist mastermind, the so-called or alleged mastermind Khalid Sheikh Mohammed. Possibly doing this all in a New York federal court.

NGUYEN: Yes. You know, some say holding the trial in New York is a huge security risk and an affront to the victims. CNN Jeanne Meserve has the latest.


JEANNE MESERVE, CNN HOMELAND SECURITY CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Just blocks from where the world trade center once stood, the man who allegedly plotted its destruction will face trial in a federal court. Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, who has confessed his role and four others, will be moved from the detention center at Guantanamo Bay to New York City. Attorney General Eric Holder says prosecutors will seek the death penalty, and he thinks they will get it.

ERIC HOLDER, ATTORNEY GENERAL: I'm quite confident that we're going to be successful in the prosecution efforts.

MESEARVE: Holder's predecessor, President Bush's Attorney General, called the decision to move the cases out of military commissions unwise.

MICHAEL MUKASEY, FMR. ATTORNEY GENERAL: This step appears to have resulted simply from a commitment to close Guantanamo within a year because regardless of the reality on the ground, it has a poor image.

MESEARVE: Capitol Hill critics were even harsher. SEN. JOHN MCCAIN (R), ARIZONA: I do not understand why a war criminal should be able to have the same rights as a common criminal.

MESEARVE: Khalid Sheikh Mohammed was water boarded 183 times, and defense attorneys will likely use that to try to block the use of his confessions. But the justice department says there is other evidence that is still not public. Critics fear there could be acquittals and that terrorists could be released into the United States, though current law prohibits that. But the father of a firefighter who died on 9/11, is just fine with the administration's decision to bring the alleged terrorists to New York.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Let them come back to the biggest stage in the world and they'll be shown -- they'll be given a fair trial and then they'll be executed as they deserve because they don't deserve anything less.

MESERVE: The attorney general also announced Friday that the man charged with plotting the attack on the "USS Cole" and four others will be tried in military commissions, not civilian courts. No announcement yet on where those commissions will be held and no word on how the administration will deal with the other 200 or so detainees still at Guantanamo, which the US hopes to close in the New Year.

Jeanne Meserve, CNN, Washington.


NGUYEN: All right, let's get the latest on the weather outside. It's kind of frightful for some folks for the things at Nor'easter. Karen Maginnis has been watching this for us. It's causing problems.

MAGGINNIS: Yes, it has and continues so. New Hampshire has 18 miles of coastline. I never knew that. You're looking at a couple of yards of the coastline there. It looks very wicked. This is out of Hampton, New Hampshire. And there you can see kind of a rough coast as Ida begins to exit that region.

Well, Ida is responsible for this. Actually, it was at Nor'easter. And the area of low pressure, which used to be hurricane Ida, tropical storm Ida and then kind of an amalgamation of a weather system and Ida, it moved across the coast, through the mid- atlantic, is now moving away. But still not allowing those water to exit those coastal and bays and inland areas so there's been beach erosion.

I want to show you the coastline of what happened in Virginia. Take a look at this. This is from our affiliate Wavy. This is in Norfolk, Virginia. They're saying that many of the roads here in the past 24 hours were pretty much just about impassable or nearly impassable. There you can see kind of a bird's-eye view of just how difficult it was.

Well, there have been coastal flood warnings that were going until about 10:00 this morning, but they've extended a lot of those until about 6:00 tonight. And a lot of these areas are going to be a lot better by this evening as what used to be Ida now Nor'ida, or the Nor'easter, begins to move on. Tomorrow is going to be a lot better.

As a matter of fact, it looks like the southeast is going to fare pretty well as temperatures are going to soar into the 70s. But we're -- look at Denver, 39. There's going to be an area of low pressure that kind of develops across the Rockies. Going to pull into the central plains, and TJ and Betty, could bring a couple feet of snowfall into those higher peaks of the central Rockies. Back to you.

NGUYEN: All right, thank you so much.

Folks, Sarah Palin, she is back in the spotlight. You probably already heard. The former Alaskan governor and Republican vice presidential nominee has a new book, best seller, but you can't buy it because it's not on store shelves. It's on store shelves, but you just can't buy it until Tuesday.

HOLMES: I didn't realize, she has a new book out?

NGUYEN: Yes, it's called "Going Rogue." Why you haven't heard of it?

HOLMES: No, it seems like there hasn't been much promotion ...

NGUYEN: Right.

HOLMES: There has been a media blitz about this thing. It's called "Going Rogue." Again, in full swing with this media blitz. CNN's Candy Crowley reports for us.



FEMALE-1: Sarah is a pro.

FEMALE-2: Yes.

FEMALE-1: She's a pro and so is Oprah.

CROWLEY: Apres Oprah -- the Bus Tour. Newly published book in hand, Palin hits the road. Kind of like a campaign.

SARAH PALIN: I think I'm going to have to cast my vote for the Maverick.

CROWLEY: She will visit mostly small and midsized towns in politically pivotal states, Iowa, Florida, Virginia, Michigan. Is this a book tour fuelled by politics or a political tour fuel by a book? Probably "yes." Sarah Palin is a twofer.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Sarah Palin generates a lot of news, and she's one of those people who manages to straddle that line between politics and soap opera in a way that Bill Clinton did.

CROWLEY: It's a lucrative combo. The Republican ticket's number two is Amazon's number one in non-fiction presales.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The danger for her, is she may have moved out of the political leader box into the celebrity box.

CROWLEY: She is as famous for her loyal following in the Republican party. As for the unsubstantiated and forcibly denied say- everything tales from this soon to be pin-up for "playgirl" magazine, the former boyfriend of Palin's daughter on CBS.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Just coming home from work and, you know, she'd be like, where's my retarded baby, all this.

CROWLEY: Even as she fended off Levi Johnston, and wrote her book, Palin has remained attentive to the core of her support, the conservatives who fell in love on the campaign trail.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You betcha. It's drill, baby, drill.

CROWLEY: In recent weeks, Palin has railed against health care reform to thousands of anti-abortion activists, kept up an unusually active Facebook page, lent her endorsement to a conservative party candidate over a Republican one in upstate New York, and made robocalls on behalf of a conservative group in the Virginia governor's race.

A recent CNN opinion research corporation poll found 85 percent of Republicans say Palin agrees with them on their most important issues. Only 49 percent of independents felt that way, and it's hard to win national election with those kinds of numbers.

But if Palin is eyeing 2012, her biggest liability is not independent voters, the sideshows or her paint outside the lines style. The poll found that 71 percent of Americans do not think Palin is qualified to be president, exacerbated by the decision to quit as governor of Alaska.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Only dead fish go with the flow.

CROWLEY: It is the kind of rogueness that made her a household name, but in the end it may also make Sarah Palin a player who helped shape the party, not a player who leads it.

Candy Crowley, CNN, Washington.


HOLMES: Well, rows of boxes there displaying cases of memories. We'll show you what happens to momentos left at the Vietnam memorial in Washington.


NGUYEN: Checking top stories right now, President Obama is in Singapore to attend a summit of the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation, or you can just call it APEC. Earlier in Tokyo, the president pledged to strengthen US ties with Asia, declaring America a nation of the pacific. This is his first trip there since taking office.

HOLMES: At least six passengers dead after their train derailed in northwestern India early this morning. Twenty other passengers reportedly injured. A railway spokesman says, more than a dozen cars came off the tracks. Investigation is under way to find out what happened.

NGUYEN: Check this out, a really frightening scene at a high school football game in Union, South Carolina, last night. Just look at this video right here. What are they screaming at? You'll see in just a second because part of the stadium's concrete wall collapsed just after halftime. Authorities say some students fell about six feet. More than two dozen were hurt. Twelve were taken to the hospital.

So, visitors come, they pay their respects and leave thousands of momentos at the Vietnam war memorial at the national mall in Washington.

HOLMES: Then, park rangers collect the items lovingly left behind and take them to Vietnam memorial collection. Our photo journalist, Bethany Swain takes us on a tour.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The people started leaving things in 1982 and they're still leaving things. There's no precedent for this. And periodically, the rangers will pick things up at the wall and they'll transport them out to the facility. From '86, it was decided that this would become a formal collection.

And I think last year it was something like 6,000 objects that came in. I looked at us as being voyeurs and we didn't want it left at the wall so it's special. This was a softball that was left so you take from it what you will. This facility is not open to the general public. This is a rendering of a POW/MIA cage to draw attention to the MIA missing in action.

This collection is international in scope just as the Vietnam war was international in scope.

We have a lot of blackjack cards in here. I can't tell you why what's left, but we have over 100,000 objects in the collection. It's more than a collection of sorrow. It's also a celebration of life. We have this object that was left, boots, dog tag, a helmet.

When we say we have 100,000 objects, that's very conservative. Depends on how you count. Is this one or is this 300? I haven't cleaned it because it tilts so much in storage, but I often in which context this was used. We still are not able to determine the nursing school.

Sometimes people will write messages on the currency. Forget me not. When a person dies, that person doesn't die in a vacuum, not in isolation. Almost 60 percent of today's population was affected by Vietnam. You can't tell where you are until you understand where you've been, and we're preserving the past for the future.


NGUYEN: That is such a great story. And, you know, joining us now is CNN photojournalist, Bethany Swain. She shot that piece you just saw.

HOLMES: And she's launched our award winning "In Focus Series" nearly two years ago. Good morning to you. I want to thank you, first of all, for sharing that piece. We were glued to it. I assume going through there was quite an experience as well.

BETHANY SWAIN, CNN PHOTO JOURNALIST: It definitely was. It's amazing to see so many things that have been left and you don't know why the objects were left. One of my favorite items that was there, was that champagne goblet and the champaign glass. You hope they were celebrating something wonderful, but you don't know what. It was real interesting to see that they're kept and cared for as they have been since people started leaving the objects in 1982.

NGUYEN: Why specifically did you decide to do this "In Focus Series" and really highlight the veterans this time?

SWAIN: We wanted to do a series to highlight the work of CNN's photojournalists. This is the second time we've done this topic of stories on America's veterans. It's something very close to our hearts because many of the photojournalists who worked on the series have spent time in battle zones.

I know, I was really touched by the time that I spent in Afghanistan. This as a topic there are so many stories to tell. In the hour special that's airing at 3:00 eastern hosted by Tom Foreman, we have stories from World War II, from Vietnam, from people who fought in Korea and to current conflicts.

HOLMES: How do you go about picking the voters? You said the veterans this time. You can certainly get a lot of stories out of that. How do you go about picking? Is it tough, you got a lot of stuff to choose from out there, I assume.

SWAIN: Absolutely. There are so many stories that are out there to be told. The photojournalists, we enjoy doing it in a different kind of style. As you notice, there's no reporter in that, the photojournalist they shot right and produce these pieces. It's a storytelling style, but letting people tell their own story.

There are so many different topics. This summer, we did stories on health care and we put a face on the health care crisis in America. And we also did a series this fall, Americana in Focus, jobs that last, that were telling stories of people who were doing the same jobs today that they were 50 years ago.

NGUYEN: And besides that, what else are you working on for this particular series?

SWAIN: So one of my favorite pieces from this series, is one that's done by photojournalist, John Toragowi. It's a story about a gentleman from World War II who credits his trumpet for saving his life from german snipers.

NGUYEN: Really. How so?

SWAIN: It's a wonderful piece. He was fighting in Germany and they knew there were snipers around, and they were afraid that snipers were going to fire. He decided to play that trumpet that 70 years later he still keeps with him. He credits it for saving his life. It's a very powerful story, and you definitely want to stay tuned. It's going to be airing at 2:00 eastern hour and in an hour special again at 3:00.

NGUYEN: That sound's terrific. Just really some moving pieces and you hear it from their own words. Just wonderful. Thanks so much for spending a little time of your day to do something that matters like that. We appreciate it.

HOLMES: Good to see you. Thanks so much.

NGUYEN: And you can watch the full hour of "Veterans in Focus -- Service, Struggle, and Success" this afternoon at 3:00 eastern and also find more at

HOLMES: The light bulb, the automobile, the internet. Pretty impressive inventions there, wouldn't you say? We'll see if anything that impressive is on the list this year. We'll look at some of the coolest inventions and some not so cool.


HOLMES: All right. Video games you control with your mind.

NGUYEN: And? Go ahead.

HOLMES: Skip that one.

NGUYEN: A bra that you can convert into a gas mask. We're not kidding. We did not make this up.

HOLMES: These are real inventions, and now we know this year's not up yet, but we've got some inventions to share on the list.

NGUYEN: The best and the worst of 2009.


JOSH LEVS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: The best inventions of 2009. From a light bulb that might be worth $10 million to an electric eye that sees for you. The list is out. This is it right here. It's from "Time" magazine, Time's website,, which is a partner of They say the best invention of the year is this -- NASA's ares rockets. We have some video for you. Three, two, one. Ignition. Liftoff of Ares i-x. Testing concepts for the future of new rocket design.

Time calls this the best and smartest and coolest thing built in 2009. It's designed to usher in the next generation of space travel, returning astronauts to the moon, and one day bringing people to Mars. Let's check out more of the top inventions. We're going to zoom it on the screen behind me.

We're starting off with this, this electric eye. Researchers are developing a microchip that can help blind people regain partial sight. The chip will be implanted into a patient's eye. It contains a tiny camera that transmits signals to the brain.

Check out this one. Tweeting by thinking. A doctoral student at the University of Wisconsin found a way to hook something up that monitors brain activity and he was able to concentrate on a letter, and it read them ultimately. He was able to use that to effectively type out a short tweet.

Over here, this is the $10 million light bulb. This could win a prize being run by the Department of Energy that is ultimately worth $10 million. It uses less than 10 watts. It has as much light as a normal 60 watt bulb and it lasts 25,000 hours.

Let's bang through a couple more. This is called the smart thermostat. This is a thermostat that would tell you how much energy all your appliances are using and it would be able to control them, turn them on and off.

And we'll end with this one, take a look here, controller-free gaming. You wouldn't need to hold anything in your hand to play these video games. You could use body movements and sound.

All these are some of the best inventions of the year. "Time" also points to some of the worst inventions of the year and we're going to zoom back in so I can show you two what's declaring the worst inventions of the year. Take a look here.

Snuggies for dogs. Come on, they're basically saying what are people thinking? And this you really have to see to believe. There it is, the gas mask bra, a bra that would break apart into two different gas masks. Now officially named by "Time" one of the worst inventions of the year. This is kind of an awkward shot.

Let's get to the graphic so you can see how you can see the entire list of the top 50 best inventions of the year according to "Time". It's in the blogs here, also Facebook and Twitter, josh/cnn. Let us know what you think. Some of these might be on the market in not too long.


NGUYEN: Very interesting. All right, you know if you thought that was cool, just you wait because the NEWSROOM continues with Richard Lui. RICHARD LUI, CNN ANCHOR: The fun does not stop here.

HOLMES: It continues.

LUI: Especially with all this impetus coming from the two of you.

Coming up, guys, we are going to talk in the next hour of CNN NEWSROOM, critics saying moving the trial of 9/11 suspects to New York endangers national security. They also say, why not keep accused Khalid Shaikh Mohammed and the likes in the military courts as was done after World War II.

Then on the flip side, supporters say try them where they allegedly committed the crime. Show the world justice will be fairly served in a civilian court. We're going to talk about that, we got our legal guys. You're going to miss Avery and Richard, you're not going to miss him, you will catch them if you stay with us in the next hour.

Plus, it was a week ago today, the house passed this bill. It's the Senate's turn now and abortion and the price tag are in debate here. Will there be any GOP support? You might be able to here a dime drop on that one? Deputy Director, Paul Steinhauser sits down with me to hash it out what you will need to watch out for coming up this week, guys.

NGUYEN: All good stuff. All right, looking forward to it.

HOLMES: We will see you shortly. Good to have you.

LUI: Thanks.

HOLMES: Out of breath.

NGUYEN: You've got a lot to go. Get ready.

And we're going to take you to a golf course where it might be tough to decide whether you should use a 5 iron or a tire iron?


NGUYEN: All right. I don't think Tiger Woods would play this course. It's not really a whole lot there actually.

HOLMES: I'm sure he would do a good job on it anyway. There is, however, a nice view of rusty military hardware.


HOLMES: CNN's Sara Sidner takes us golfing in a war zone.


SARA SIDNER, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Take a few seconds to soak in a golfer's paradise. The only hint this is a golf course are the pins that mark the holes but it's paradise in Afghanistan because it's the only government course in the entire country. Mohammed Abdul runs the place. He's so serious about golf he has risked his life for the love of the game and this crumbling course. You said you were captured twice.

MOHAMMED ABDUL: Yes, twice. One the Russian and Taliban.

SIDNER: Jailed both times on suspicion of spying because foreigners frequented this place. Over 30 years he and his course keep coming under attack. When you talk about bunkers on this course, it's the real thing. First, the Russians invaded using this as a military base.

ABDUL: You see, I show the tank, old tank there. It's a Russian tank.

SIDNER: So, there's still a tank up there. I see it.

ABDUL: Old tank.

SIDNER: When the Russians left, then came the Taliban. Destruction from their attack is still visible. This used to be the golf club bar, blown up because alcohol was sold here. When Abdul returned after fleeing the war, he came to his course to clean it up. First thing's first, he hired sheep to walk the property in case of land mines.

SIDNER: So the sheep walks and in case there were mines it would be the sheep that got hurt. Poor sheep.

ABDUL: Well, I give money.

SIDNER: Abdul is back again to play and teach.

ABDUL: Put on the green.

SIDNER: Put it on the green, you mean the brown?

ABDUL: Yes. Nice shot.

SIDNER: If you don't make it to the imaginary green here, you're in for a bumpy ride. So beside the ditches, the rocks, and the oil and sand greens, there's one more thing you have to worry about when you come out here, and that's security. The road here is known for kidnappings and robberies. And that may explain why today I'm his only client, but Abdul isn't giving up his unwavering belief that Afghanistan's only golf course will see greener pastures.

Sara Sidner, CNN, Kabul.


NGUYEN: My goodness.


NGUYEN: Makes you thankful you can go to a course here, right?

HOLMES: Where there actually are greens.

NGUYEN: And no mines to worry about.

HOLMES: But he hired somebody for that.

NGUYEN: Sheep.


That's going to do it for Betty and I. We appreciate you hanging out here with us. We have a treat for you today, not that Fredricka is not a treat ...

NGUYEN: Absolutely.

HOLMES: You're stuck with me.

NGUYEN: But, Richard Lui, it's nice to see you.

LUI: You guys as well, we got a lot coming up. You guys have a good weekend by the way. I will see you possibly tomorrow on the tube.

And first this hour for you right here on CNN NEWSROOM, the Fort Hood shooting investigation. President Obama is urging Congress to slow down and take a deep breath. He says lawmakers should not look into intelligence failures until police and military officials complete their work at Fort Hood. Mr. Obama has already ordered his own intelligence review of Major Nidal Hasan, the alleged gunman.


OBAMA: If there was a failure to take appropriate action before the shootings, there must be accountability. Beyond that and most importantly, we must quickly and thoroughly evaluate and address any flaws in the system so that we can prevent a similar breach from happening again. Our government must be able to act swiftly and surely when it has threatening information, and our troops must have the security that they deserve.


LUI: Now, several of the 13 Fort Hood victims will be laid to rest this afternoon.

Now, for the decision to try five 9/11 suspects in a US courtroom is raising some alarms and drawing praise this weekend as well. The Obama administration will move the men from Guantanamo to New York for a criminal trial. The group includes the man the government says orchestrated the attacks Khalik Shaik Mohammad. Reaction? Generally split along party lines.