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American Morning

Brazil Plane Crash; Senate's All-Nighter; New Terror Report; On The Frontlines; Dow Record Run; U.K. Report On Afghanistan; Violent Dogfighting Ring

Aired July 18, 2007 - 06:00   ET


JOHN ROBERTS, CNN ANCHOR: Breaking news from Brazil. Deadly slide. A plane skids off a runway, jumps a highway and crashes into a building. Was enough done to make the runway safe?
A senate sleepover. They brought in cots, but was it all just a big show?


SEN. HARRY REID, MAJORITY LEADER: So we have no choice but to stay in session.

SEN. SUSAN COLLINS, (R) MAINE: All this is, it's a political stunt.


ROBERTS: Pizza, pillows and politics on this AMERICAN MORNING.

Ah, they stayed up all night, but did they really pull the sort of all-nighter that they said they were going to.

KIRAN CHETRY, CNN ANCHOR: Or did they do shift work instead? Not the full Senate . . .

ROBERTS: Exactly.

CHETRY: All the time debating. I'm sure the pizza got eaten. Who knows if the pillows got used.

ROBERTS: I'm sure that the Capitol staff ate the pizza if no one else did.

Good morning to you. Thanks for joining us on this AMERICAN MORNING. It's Wednesday, July the 18th. I'm John Roberts.

CHETRY: And I'm Kiran Chetry.

We start the hour with breaking news. We have some new developments this morning in Brazil's second major air disaster in less than a year. Investigators are getting set to inspect the runway in just a few hours at Congonhas Airport after a TAM Airlines A320 crashed during a storm in Sao Paulo late yesterday. Witnesses say that it skipped across a busy road during rush hour, slammed into buildings, possibly a gas station. And the death toll is high. At least 200 people were killed. That includes all 176 passengers on board, as well as people on the street who were hit. The runway has been repeatedly criticized by pilots and others for simply being too short. Just one day earlier, two planes slipped off the runway because of bad weather. CNN's Miles O'Brien is at the CNN Center with more on this for us.

Hi, Miles.


CHETRY: In fact, wasn't there -- didn't this actually go to court, an issue about this runway being too short and the dangers that lurked because the runway just simply was not long enough for some of these big planes to land safely.

O'BRIEN: Yes, the runway is about 6,300 feet. It puts it in the neighborhood a little less than what you'd find at LaGuardia Airport in New York. About the same as Washington National Airport. But hemmed in by all kinds of buildings and neighborhoods. And a Brazilian judge had, in fact, ruled that these larger airplanes were not safe in operating at this particular airport.

Ultimately that got reversed and, of course, the airplanes were still coming in there. The fact is, this is an old airport surrounded by densely populated areas. And airplanes maybe have outgrown the capability of this particular airport.

CHETRY: You know, we also talk about some of the fatalities on the ground, which just adds to the tragedy. Apparently there's at least supposed to be, what, about two miles of area around the runway in case a plane would, let's say, overshoot and be able to get out safely. That wasn't the case here.

O'BRIEN: Yes. In a perfect world you have a lot of space. They call it overrun space. You go to a place like Dallas/Ft. Worth Airport here in the United States, lots of field and extra space at either end of the runway. So if something bad happens, there's a buffer zone. In cases like this airport or, say, Midway Airport here in the United States, there isn't that kind of capability.

Now there is some technology out there that can slow an airplane down. It's sort of -- it's thin concrete which the airplane actually kind of sinks into at the end of a runway, which can make up for the fact that there's not a big buffer zone. But, clearly, that was not there in this case.

CHETRY: There are also a lot of people that criticized Brazil's air safety record in general, citing pressure on the pilots to keep with these schedules even if they're dealing with less than desirable weather, as well as some other questions about whether or not they do all they can to insure safety.

O'BRIEN: Yes, there were questions raised. Of course, there was a mid air crash over the Brazilian Rain Forest several months back which caused a lot of questions about the air traffic control system. And that's one of the things they will look at. Were air traffic controllers harried and was this a busy time for the airport with bad weather. And did they sort of encourage that crew to expedite their approach. And in the course of doing that, did they land too fast.

We should remember, though, that ultimately the responsibility for a safe landing, for the conduct of the flight, rests with the flight crew. If they were told to expedite and they didn't like what they saw, it's their decision and their responsibility to go around.

CHETRY: Yes. And some other questions actually about whether or not the pilot did attempt to try to get that plane back up upon realizing that things were not working out with the landing.

O'BRIEN: Yes. I mean you basically have two options. When you land and you realize you're skidding, or hydroplaning, as you would down a highway, you can either try to continue stopping, but if that's not working -- these are split second decisions, obviously. You're going 160 miles an hour on a hunk of runway less than a mile long, or about a mile long, you have to make a quick decision.

There are witness reports which seem to indicate this flight crew made the decision to floor it. To put the throttles to the firewall and try to regain altitude once again and just wasn't enough space to do that.

I should tell you also, there's all kinds of notices on this airport, to pilots, that there can be serious down drafts at this particular airport because of the mountainous region around there. If those downdrafts came into play, that also could be a factor here.

CHETRY: Yes. They're certainly looking at weather being a factor as well because of the rain.

Miles O'Brien, thank you for the insight.

O'BRIEN: You're welcome.

ROBERTS: Now to the Senate's all-nighter and where it stands on pulling troops out of Iraq. They have been at it all night and they're still going. Shift work, though. Senator John Kerry on the floor right now. This is a live picture, by the way. So yes, in fact, he is up there speaking at four minutes after 6:00 Eastern Time.

CHETRY: He looks tired.

ROBERTS: Oh, yes, a little bit. Looking like he's got a little bit of that 6:00 a.m. sag. They had been up all night, but it's really just been a couple of senators every hour that have been out there debating. It's not like everyone was there. Democrats did stage this all-nighter, though, to put pressure on Republicans to go along with a troop withdrawal plan. CNN congressional correspondent Dana Bash is live on Capitol Hill.

Dana, how has it been going there?

DANA BASH, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, just like you said, John, certainly the lights have been on here at the Capitol all night long. But the truth is, most senators actually went home. The Senate majority leader actually gave up on or maybe gave in on his plans to hold attendance votes to make sure that senators were here at 2:00, 3:00 and 4:00 in the morning. But just like you said, there was kind of a staggering of senators on the Senate floor.

In fact, there were speakers continuously throughout the night. And I've got to tell you, star power did not dictate what kind of speaking slot these senators got. John McCain was on the Senate floor about 4:00 in the morning. He was speaking for quite some time. Followed by sort of bleary-eyed Hillary Clinton. She followed him in the 4:00 hour. So that is really sort of the kind of thing we saw, just continuous speakers all night.

And I'm sure, John, I'm sure you're trying to figure out what happened with those much talked about cots. If anybody used them. Well, the truth is, I stopped by in the room right off the Senate floor on my way here to see if there was any evidence of any use of those cots. One of them looked like somebody had slept in them. In fact, we're told perhaps it was one of the freshman senators, Bob Casey of Pennsylvania. He's one of the senators who doesn't have a secret hideaway in the Capitol. So perhaps he had to use that cot for just a couple of hours of some shuteye.

ROBERTS: So how many Republican minds did the Democrats change overnight by doing this, Dana?

BASH: Probably the answer to that is none. You know, I mean that, of course, big picture, was the goal Democrats insisted, to try to change Republican minds, to convince those who have been vocally opposed to war, opposed to the president's strategy to actually vote with the Democrats on their withdrawal deadline. They're going to have that vote in several hours, later this morning. And at the end of the day, probably will see three, maybe four Republican votes. Not nearly enough for Democrats to actually pass that legislation.


ROBERTS: All right. Well, keep watching it. We'll get back to you. Dana Bash on Capitol Hill.

Dana, thanks.

And coming up, we're going to hear from both sides. Republican Senator Saxby Chambliss and Democratic Senator Barbara Boxer both join us at 7:30 Eastern.

CHETRY: Well, terror worries this morning from the homeland to overseas. CNN's Kelli Arena has new information from the Department of Homeland Security on keeping cities safe. We also have our Pentagon correspondent, Barbara Starr, in Afghanistan traveling with Joint Chiefs Chairman Peter Pace. We're going to begin with Kelli, though.

And, Kelli, you had a chance to talk with some intel officials yesterday. Did they get specific about what it is they're seeing that convinces them al Qaeda is, indeed, rebuilding?

KELLI ARENA, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, good morning, Kiran.

The intelligence officials who briefed us on yesterday's intelligence report say that their information shows al Qaeda leader, namely Osama bin Laden and Ayman al-Zawahiri, have opened up lines of communication again with the field. Now it's sporadic communication, but they are talking. And al Qaeda has been able to form a whole new command structure, replacing some of the leaders that were lost with experienced lieutenants. And it's also training operatives in camps in Pakistan and forming new alliances with other terror groups.

So, yes, some very specific signals there.

CHETRY: You know, Kelli, also I saw a great deal of information coming out of Iraq about how al Qaeda could become even stronger if it decides to capitalize on the relationship there, this subgroup, if you will, al Qaeda in Iraq. What are they saying about that?

ARENA: Well, al Qaeda in Iraq has its own fund-raising network. Very important. The battlefield there provides on the job training for operatives. The situation itself, Kiran, has become a really great recruiting tool. And there are leaders there who have operational experience. It's the only al Qaeda affiliate which has said publicly that it actually wants to hit the U.S. homeland. And so there is a concern that al Qaeda could direct all of those resources to an attack against the United States.

CHETRY: All right. Kelli Arena, thank you.

ARENA: You're welcome.

ROBERTS: Coming up now to nine minutes after the hour. Let's go to Barbara Starr who is traveling with General Peter Pace, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. He's in Afghanistan today.

Barbara, what's on the agenda for General Pace?

BARBARA STARR, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, General Pace is here, John, meeting with a number of U.S. and NATO commanders here in Afghanistan. And topping the list, of course, is the operation against the Taliban and al Qaeda in this country. As we all have learned over the last several days, the U.S. intelligence community greatly concerned that on the other side of the border, just over the border in Pakistan, al Qaeda is once again on the rise, finding a safe haven there, staking operations and training with the possibility of crossing much more than they have been back here into Afghanistan. So right now, as we speak today, there are 20,000 U.S. troops on Afghanistan's eastern border with Pakistan. That, John, is an all- time high.

ROBERTS: Barbara, his visit to the region comes at the same time that a British parliamentary report suggests that NATO is in danger of losing the battle there in Afghanistan and potentially the Karzai government could be in danger. How concerned is General Pace that things are not going well in Afghanistan? STARR: Well, U.S. officials have always known that President Karzai really exists on a thin, razor edge of success. His government is fragile. The warlords in this country, the drug trade in this country continue to really be dominant factors.

President Karzai is the president. He does the best he can. But I don't think anybody really thinks at this point that Karzai, even all these years after the 9/11 attacks, has really solidified his control over this country. There are indeed remote villages, remote areas where there is no question but that the Taliban are recruiting and the Taliban are in control of some of these areas.


ROBERTS: Our Barbara Starr for us this morning from Bagram in Afghanistan, traveling with General Peter Pace.

Barbara, thanks. We'll talk to you a little bit later on.

And we're also going to be talking about the strength of al Qaeda with Fran Townsend -- she is the White House's homeland security adviser -- at 8:30 Eastern Time this morning.

CHETRY: Well, some other headlines new this morning.

A major development in the manhunt of a military trained Army sniper accused of killing his estranged wife while she performed on stage. Sheriff's deputies say that the manhunt is over. They closed in on 36-year-old David Munis. And as they were doing it, he shot himself in the chest. He died a few hours ago. Police say they believe that Munis fired a single bullet through a window and killed his estranged wife, Robin, while she was singing with her band at a club in Cheyenne, Wyoming. Overnight, police say that Munis left behind a couple of messages.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He did scribble a couple notes on some cardboard. Evidently he'd found that at the campsite. What's on that, I have no idea.


CHETRY: The day before the shooting, Robin Munis had called police to tell them that her husband was harassing her about their impending divorce.

Also we now know what drugs pro wrestler Chris Benoit was on when he died, and also that his wife and son were drugged. Toxicology reports show that Benoit had 10 times the normal level of testosterone in his system, as well as the anti-anxiety drug Xanax and the pain killer hydrocodone. His wife and son also apparently had sedatives in their system when they died.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The theories on whether or not Chris sedated his children -- or his child or his wife before suffocating them both, that is what it is, it's just theory.


CHETRY: The medical examiner said that there is no evidence steroids played a role in the deaths.

A criminal indictment and a career in crisis for Atlanta Falcons quarterback Michael Vick. He is indicted, along with three other men, for allegedly running a horrific dogfighting operation. According to court documents, dogs fought until death. Losing dogs were electrocuted, drowned or shot.

ROBERTS: Our AMERICAN MORNING team of correspondents is working these stories new this morning.

Extreme weather and storms in south Florida. Chad Myers joins us from the Weather Center in Atlanta.

How bad it is down there, Chad?


ROBERTS: The Dow Jones keeps on going with its record run. A fourth straight session now. Even broke through 1,400 briefly yesterday. Ali Velshi joining us now with that.

The bulls really on a run there, Ali.

ALI VELSHI: Well, 14,000, actually, just for a few moments. Half an hour into the trading. Yesterday when we started off, we were about 50 points from 14,000, which is just another milestone. Now we're about 30 points away. The Dow actually recovered.

There you can see -- there we go, 14,000. That happened yesterday morning. Now today are we going to make another record? We've had four in a row. We've had 31 this year. More than 50 in the last year on the Dow. There are some issues today that we're facing. In a couple of hours, we're going to get an inflation report.

And then later in the day, we're going to hear from Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke. He's going to be speaking to Congress. And he's going to get questions about the state of the economy.

Plus, there were some earnings out yesterday that gave people some pause about how healthy this market is. So today the futures are pointing to not a positive opening. Today might not be the day for 14,000.

But again, for those of you who have been watching this, this is the day and this is the week to take a look at your portfolio and think about rebalancing it. This has had quite a run. Better than 10 percent so far this year for the Dow and the S&P.


ROBERTS: Some good advice. Ali Velshi for us. Thanks very much.

"Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows." It's coming out very soon. But is the secret out already? Alina Cho is on this story for us.

Good morning, Alina.

ALINA CHO, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Hey, good morning to you, John.

Don't worry, we're not going to give away the ending. But it's quite possible that someone else has. Numerous websites have posted photographs of what appears to be every single page of the seventh and final installment of the series, "Deathly Hallows." They look like amateur photographs. Some of the websites have just posted the ending, by the way.

The big question is, how do we know it's real. There's great debate about that. What we can tell you is, even if you're not looking for the ending of the book, some leakers have posted the pages on websites that have nothing to do with "Harry Potter," like celebrity websites and chat rooms. So you may not even be looking for the ending and it will just pop up. So watch out.

Author J.K. Rowling and the publishers have gone to great lengths to safeguard the book's content until what they are calling "Midnight Magic." That's 12:01 a.m. Saturday, the official release of the book. Rowling has hinted that two or more characters are likely to die. And, of course, many are wondering whether the boy wizard himself will survive.

True "Harry Potter" fans are doing everything in their power to avoid these websites. I can tell you, John, that we asked one of our production assistants to do research for us on this this morning. She's a "Harry Potter" fan. She did it, but she was a bit reluctant because she didn't want to spoil it for herself.

ROBERTS: Well, you know what they say, Alina, browsers beware, right?

CHO: That's right.

ROBERTS: Alina, thanks very much.


CHETRY: All right. Thanks, John.

Well, is NATO losing the war on terror in Afghanistan? And what can help them win? There is a new report. It's brand new and it's just out. And we're going to hear from Nic Robertson about it coming up in a live report in just a couple of minutes, next on AMERICAN MORNING.


CHETRY: Lawmakers in the U.K. say that the NATO mission in Afghanistan is in danger of failing and that top military generals say that dropping the ball in Afghanistan could lead to a domino effect in the region. Senior international correspondent Nic Robertson joins us from London right now to talk more about the report and what it means for the war on terror.

Good to see you this morning, Nic.


CHETRY: This report really paints a dire picture. What are the main problems, though, that they cite about how the NATO mission in Afghanistan is currently being run?

ROBERTSON: Well, they say the biggest problem is that there aren't enough troops. There are about 37,000 NATO troops at the moment. About 7,000 of those are British. And that they say at least two more battalion, several thousand more troops, are required.

But they say that's just the tip of the iceberg, that the British troops are there, don't have all the equipment that they need. That they need more helicopters. They say that the international community doesn't just not provide enough troops, but it doesn't even recognize the scale and scope of the problem in Afghanistan. That there's a long-term commitment that's need, that the international community hasn't woken up to. And it is not just about troops, not just about getting enough NATO troops there, they say. What's required is more economic investment as well, to go hand in hand with what those troops are doing there.


CHETRY: One of the things, when you talk about the economic investment, trying to eradicate the opium, the poppy plant, which is extremely lucrative for farmers, and when these crops are destroyed, what is the backup source of income for people?

ROBERTSON: And often there isn't a backup source of income. And one of the points of this report is that Britain's ministry of defense has said that they're not going to get involved in destroying the opium poppy crops in Afghanistan that are incredibly lucrative, that do provide money for Taliban and other insurgent troops. They say they're not going to do that until there's an alternate livelihood. But that is in contrast with what other departments in the British government are saying. So this report indicates that there are differences of opinion, not just within the British government, but in the international community over what needs to be done about the opium poppies.

One of their biggest complaints as well is criticism of other NATO nations, saying that the United States, Britain and Canada are bearing the brunt of all the sort of violent conflict, if you will, where nations like Germany and France don't allow their troops to get involved in the conflict there. And they say that if it continues in this way, NATO strategy there cannot succeed on the fighting and on the opium poppy front as well.


CHETRY: Oh, it will be interesting to see what the reaction is from nations like France and Germany to this report.

Nic Robertson in London for us. Thank you.

Also in just a few moments we're going to be speaking to a remarkable young man who recently flew to Afghanistan. He didn't have his parents' permission to do this. They should have known, though, because two years ago he snuck into Iraq.

ROBERTS: Atlanta Falcons quarterback Michael Vick is in big trouble this morning. He's facing federal charges basically accused of torturing dogs. Larry Smith from "Headline News" has got the details for us. He's live from Atlanta this morning.

This involves a dogfighting ring, Larry, at Michael Vick's home in Virginia. This has been hanging over him for some time now, but the indictment just came down yesterday.

LARRY SMITH, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, that's right, an 18-page indictment. I hope my mics on. I believe you can hear me there, John. An 18-page indictment. The federal authorities first went to his property in Virginia back in April. They actually went there to look for -- cashing a drug warrant for Vick's cousin. That led to all this other evidence.

But again, Michael Vick back in April tried to blame all the problems on his cousin. It turned out, instead, this indictment now says Vick was at the center of this. He and three other men charged, indicted by a federal grand jury, of operating not only operating a drugfighting ring, but also operating it across lines as well as well.

ROBERTS: Right. Dogfighting ring. I think you said, actually, drugfighting.

SMITH: I'm sorry, dogfighting. Yes,. Sorry about that. Yes.

ROBERTS: So the big question, Larry, is, what now for Michael Vick?

SMITH: Well, what's next for him right now, a trial in the next few months. He's probably watching to make sure that one of the other three men doesn't, you know, turn evidence on him and go against him. He may want to try to do that himself to kind of head them off at the pass.

Now the NFL, the Falcons training camp -- again, Michael Vick, the Atlanta Falcons quarterback. Training camp begins a week from today. Now long before this happened, there was some talk at Falcons because of his other off field incidents that have not been in the positive light, might try to cut Michael Vick. But because of salary cap ramifications, that probably won't happen. So we look to see him in a uniform this year. As for his career, who knows?

ROBERTS: All right. Larry Smith for us this morning from "Headline News" down there in Atlanta.

Larry, thanks. We'll check back in with you as the situation continues to develop around Michael Vick.

CHETRY: Well, a fiery plane crash in Brazil leaves at least 200 people dead. And now this morning pilots are speaking up about the difficult conditions at this particular airport. We're going to talk to a pilot whose made the tricky landing there hundreds of time, ahead on AMERICAN MORNING.


ROBERTS: Hey, it's 27 minutes after the hour now.

"On Our Radar" this morning, coming up in our next half hour, remember a kid named Hassan Ferris (ph)?

CHETRY: Yes. The name rings a bell.

ROBERTS: A couple of years ago he snuck his way into Iraq. Some people, though, say he might have had some help from his father at that time, but it certainly surprised his mother, who didn't know he was going to a war zone.

Well, he's done it again. He went back to another war zone. This time Afghanistan. Spent some time there in Kabul. He's now in Dubai on his way back. There's a picture of him there in Afghanistan.

CHETRY: Do his parents know this time?

ROBERTS: He called them from Miami International Airport while he was on his way over and said, mom, I'm going to Afghanistan. They had just given him back his passport. They took it away from him when he went to Iraq.

CHETRY: I know. He's has to have some help. Where do you get the money to buy -- you know it's not cheap to travel internationally.

ROBERTS: Apparently his mother gave him $5,000 for helping her with her investments. And so he has this investment fund. He's been spending some of that money on that. So we're going to be talking to him coming up.

CHETRY: All right.

Also, there was a huge, you know, the iPhone. This is fashion's version of the iPhone. It's this canvas bag that says in huge letters on it, "I'm not a plastic bag." It's being sold through Whole Foods. And apparently, and we'll show you it a little bit later, we're in the same building as Whole Foods, there is already a line around the block. It's been since 4:00 in the morning, people lining up to get their hands on this canvas grocery bag that's selling for $15.

ROBERTS: Green is very en vogue. Apparently it rained on them as well.

So here we have the Senate threatening an all-nighter. They can't really do it. But we've got people lining up for an "I'm not a plastic bag."

CHETRY: That's right, it's all - not only to be sheek (ph) but to be green. So we'll have much more on both of those stories coming up on AMERICAN MORNING.


CHETRY: All right. We're just getting in some new information, actually, out of Baghdad from U.S. forces. The military announcing a big arrest. They say it's the most senior leader of Al Qaeda in Iraq.

ROBERTS: His name is Khalid al-Mashidani (ph), also known as Abu Shahed (ph). He apparently is not only a leader of Al Qaeda in Iraq, but he is the main go-between between al Qaeda in Mesopotamia and al Qaeda worldwide, including Osama bin Laden.

The announcement was made about a half an hour ago at a military briefing in Baghdad. We're going to get more information on this. And we'll keep you updated just as soon as that comes in to us here.

CHETRY: Meantime, Brazil's second major air disaster in less than a year. And we have new pictures just in now of the crash site in Sao Paulo.

An Airbus A320 crashed in a heavy storm. At least 200 people were killed in this crash.

Investigators are set to inspect the runway in just a few hours. Critics have complained for years though that this runway is quite dangerous, that it's too short, and that when you're dealing with a plane as big as the one we were talking about today, an accident was just bound to happen.

Juan Carlos Maimone is a former American Airlines pilot who has flown that runway -- flown that airport and landed on that runway hundreds of times. He joins me now.

Good morning.


CHETRY: There's still no official word, as we said. They're going to be sifting through that crash site more today. But from what you're hearing so far, what is your best guess as to why this plane crashed?

MAIMONE: Well, like you said before, it's a very heavy airplane coming into a very short runway for that type of aircraft. And on top of that, we have to think that it was rainy conditions out there. But at that particular time, a lot of water on the runway reduced dramatically the length of the runway that you can use to land that plane.

CHETRY: You say when you're dealing with bad weather, you have to subtract about 10 or 15 percent of the runway. So you're saying this pilot was dealing with about 4,500 feet of runway.

What would be a safe amount that you would need in terms of runway space to safely land a plane that big?

MAIMONE: With that kind of a weather, probably no less than 7,500 feet.

CHETRY: Boy, and that certainly wasn't the case here.

Apparently, also, this pilot then attempted to possibly continue and restart and get back up in the air. That did not work as well. But we're also talking about deaths on the ground, because there's not enough space between the runway and buildings that were in that area. So we're talking about fatalities on the ground as well.

What's the situation like landing at that airport?

MAIMONE: Well, absolutely. That's not at that airport only. It's all over South America.

They keep building a lot of businesses around the airport. And in most of the cases, they do not respect the escape segment that we have to have in case of emergency or mistake, pilot error, that we call. It's not enough space.

This is one of the main examples of what I'm talking about. You know, you don't have any space tom make mistakes, or even if you try to fly the airplane again.

CHETRY: All right.

Juan Carlos Maimone, landing that very same strip of airway many times -- of runway many times.

Thanks for joining us this morning.

MAIMONE: My pleasure.

ROBERTS: Now to the Senate's all-nighter. It's still going on at this moment. Here are some live pictures from the Senate floor right now.

And there's Senator Orrin Hatch, Republican of Utah, on the floor. You know, he's opening up the Senate for the early morning light here.

Democrats are trying to pressure Republicans into supporting a bill pulling troops out of Iraq. It doesn't seem to be working so far, though.

CNN's Lisa Goddard has been there all night. She joins us now with a little bit of color. What's it been like there, Lisa?

LISA GODDARD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: It was certainly unexpected. I thought that these senators would be in and out, more or less, all night. We expected a vote in the middle of the night, 3:00 a.m. Eastern Time, and instead, at midnight, Senator Harry Reid, the Democratic leader, announced, no, we're going to have a vote now at midnight and one five hours later.

A huge sigh of relief, John, among most senators when they got to take off very quickly to try and get a nap. So most of the night really we were seeing just two senators, one Democrat, one Republican, debating Iraq, as you see Orrin Hatch now trying to keep the floor going. It was a very substantive debate, but really just flying solo for most of these speeches during the night.

ROBERTS: You know, yesterday, we had Illinois senator Dick Durbin on, who promised that this was not going to be the sort of thing where they got lax and they let people go home to sleep. He said it's going to be business all night long, we have to make that point, we have to send that signal to people that we're serious about this.

So what happened to that plan?

GODDARD: It sounds like, talking to senators as they're coming out of the chamber, that senators on both sides put pressure on Harry Reid and said, listen, we've got to get some sleep. We just don't think it is reasonable to keep us up all night, especially for an issue when we pretty much know the outcome.

As Dana Bash reported at the top of the hour, we are expecting this vote coming up at 11:00 Eastern, in about four and a half hours from now, on this proposal to withdraw troops, and we expect it to fail. So pressure was on Harry Reid.

They said, listen, we need to get some sleep, have our wits about us for that vote, or just get some sleep because we want some sleep. And in the end, Harry Reid, for his own reasons, we don't know what they are, decided, no, we will give you guys some time off the floor.

It's funny, John. I can hear my own mom at home watching this and rolling her eyes and saying, "Jeez, I really thought they were going to try and break out a more substantive debate." But in the end, there was a lot of debate but just not as many senators.

ROBERTS: All right. Yes, I think it was just a couple an hour, right? They went in shifts.


ROBERTS: Lisa Goddard for us this morning.

Lisa, thanks very much.

And coming up, we're going to hear from both sides. Republican senator Saxby Chambliss and Democratic senator Barbara Boxer both join us at 7:30 Eastern.

And we hear that it was Senator Boxer who went up to Harry Reid and said, so, come on, are we going to this vote like at 5:00, 6:00 in the morning? You don't want to do this at 3:00 a.m., do you?

CHETRY: Well, we're going to hear more from her on how it went, as well as from Senator Chambliss.

New this morning, by the way, a shift in the polls -- and this is pretty interesting -- in the race for the White House.

The latest CNN-WMUR New Hampshire presidential primary, for the very first time there are no white males among the top three Democrats. Hillary Clinton has the solid lead, followed by Barack Obama, and then Governor Bill Richardson, moving up ahead of John Edwards since the last poll.

Small numbers still within the margin of error. But it still is interesting.

We're talking to John Edwards in the 8:00 hour.

Also, on the Republican side, John McCain has slipped from second to fourth place in New Hampshire. Mitt Romney leading the pack, and Rudy Giuliani in second. Fred Thompson, who is still the unofficial candidate, if you will, in third place.




ROBERTS: Ignoring the obvious dangers, 17-year-old Farris Hassan recently flew to Afghanistan without his parents' permission. He went there to study the progress of human rights and the plight of street kids.

This, by the way, is not the first time that the Florida teenager has secretly traveled to a war zone. Back in 2005, he flew into Baghdad.

Farris Hassan joins us now from Dubai.

This is a trip that you started planning back in May, Farris. Why did you want to go to Afghanistan?

FARRIS HASSAN, TEEN TRAVELED TO AFGHANISTAN: Well, I went on June 24th to examine the reconstruction of the country, of the development of women's rights and education after 25 years of war, and how civil problems such as (INAUDIBLE) street children and lack of infrastructure are being met.

After exploring those issues, I remained behind in Afghanistan to work on a personal project, because through that time, you know, I met so many brilliant Afghan kids who are just so eager to learn and grow their minds, but who will be stifled and frustrated and pushed down because the Afghan educational system is so lacking in academic rigor and doesn't have an adequate venue for gifted children. So I want to change that.

And so I remained behind in Afghanistan to explore the prospects for building an elite, internationally competitive college preparatory school that will give Afghan students an education equal to what American students receive in elite prep schools in the United States.


ROBERTS: I'll ask you -- I want to ask you about that in a second. But let me -- let me first of all, just go back just a little bit.

HASSAN: Well, that's...

ROBERTS: Your parents, as I understand...

HASSAN: May I...

ROBERTS: Let me just ask this question if I could, Hassan. Your parents, as I understand it, had taken away your passport after your trip to Iraq. You just recently got it back.

What did your mother say when you called her from Miami airport to say, by the way, mom, I'm going to Afghanistan?

HASSAN: Yes. I just want to clarify, I called my uncle from -- from Dubai on my way to Kabul. And I didn't speak to my mother until I was in Afghanistan.

When I initially -- when I spoke to her, of course, like any mother, she would prefer that her son not visit dangerous countries, but later when I told her about the work I was trying to do, she has similar sentiments to me on helping the disadvantaged. So, you know, she was worried about my safety, but she knew I was doing good work, so she wasn't upset with me or angry.

ROBERTS: So the school that you would like to build there, how do you plan to do that? Where can -- can you get the funding, can you get the resources to do it there?

HASSAN: Yes. You see -- well, I want to finish what I was saying, that the goal of the school would be to send these Afghan students to top American universities where they'll study to become the future progressive leaders of Afghanistan.

And I spent hours upon hours each day for more than a week devising the curriculum, writing a proposal, talking to Afghan students about their experience in the public school system, and meeting with various people to garner partners in this project. For funding, we would go to USAID, the Asian Development Bank, the World Bank, and various other public funds to seek a public grant. And I'm also looking to reach out to private donors in the United States who are -- who would like to see a better Afghanistan. So if there's anyone watching that would like to assist, my e- mail address is Just send me an e-mail and let me know if you'd like to help.

ROBERTS: Do you think you'll be able to get this done?

HASSAN: Oh, I know we'll be able to get this done. I believe -- firmly believe, if your will is indomitable, then nothing else is.

ROBERTS: Well...

HASSAN: It's a matter of whether or not you're willing to put in the struggle. And I am, to fulfill -- to actualize this dream for this school, for these Afghan children. I'm going to make it happen. It's just a matter of you have to believe.

ROBERTS: Well, you certainly have shown that you have a tremendous amount of commitment, that you do something when you put your mind to it.

Farris Hassan joining us this morning from Dubai.

Farris, thanks very much.



CHETRY: Now, I never thought Ali Velshi would get excited about anything as much as the iPhone. However, today may rival the iPhone unveiling. It is the day that they're putting out on the market 20,000 of these cotton bags that they're supposed to be replacing your plastic grocery bags.

And Ali Velshi is actually right outside -- there it is.

How did you get one, Ali?

ALI VELSHI, CNN CORRESPONDENT: This is way weirder than the iPhone lineup. Let me just tell you, it is pouring rain out here. It's almost an hour before the Whole Foods store at Time Warner Center opens so that people can line up to buy these bags.

This line goes inside the center, all the way out here, around the corner, all the way down there. Way more than 300 people in line to buy this bag. And they're lining up at stores around the country to buy them.

This is an Anya Hindmarch bag. Anya Hindmarch, to those who know, is a designer, a London-based designer. Her bags usually go for hundreds of dollars.

Well, she's come out with this bag, which has really caught a trend. It says, "I'm NOT A Plastic bag," as you know, Kiran. And I'm not a plastic bag. But this is the trend. A lot of places are moving away from plastic bags. You are supposed to buy one of these and use it as your fashionable tote. Fifteen dollars, you're allowed to buy three of them today at various stores.

I really -- people are stopping me and asking me, "What is this line? Is there a concert? Is there something coming out? What's going on?"

No, it's a bag. Unbelievable.

CHETRY: Do you know, Ali, that in Taiwan, 30 people had to be sent to the hospital and riot police had to come out because of the stampede. Hopefully that won't be the case today in New York.

VELSHI: And they have had massive lineups in Hong Kong, in London. In fact, if you go on eBay, if you get one of these, I think the last I checked, there was a bid for about $250, and they've gone for higher on eBay.

This is quite a phenomenon. It's part of the trend though, Kiran, toward people wanting to be fashionable about being green and reducing their carbon footprint. Many companies -- IKEA is one of them -- has said they're going to start charging for plastic bags. They want you to buy their tote. But people probably aren't going to walk around town with an IKEA tote.

The idea is, you know, this is an inexpensive or relatively inexpensive bag that people will buy. And Anya Hindmarch is one of the designers that's capitalized on this. I think you'll be seeing much more of this over the course of the next year, the idea that going green is the new black.

ROBERTS: So, Ali, I'm impressed with one thing, and that is that you talked about the iPhone for weeks and you never got an advanced copy of it. But yet, there you are with your advanced cope of this bag.

VELSHI: There are only two copies of this that have been given out ahead of time. And I got one of them, guys. I did actually get this one.

I must say, I didn't know until I saw this this morning, how big a deal this was going to be here in New York.

CHETRY: Wow. Ali, who are you going to give that bag to? And might I say you look dashing this morning, better than you've ever looked?

VELSHI: It doesn't really go with my thing. But I think what you're wearing might work with this, Kiran.

ROBERTS: I think there's a bag in your future, Kiran.

CHETRY: All right. We'll check in with you later and see if the line gets any bigger. Thanks, Ali.


CHETRY: There are some new pictures coming in to us now from Brazil. It was the site of a plane crash. We're going to have a full report on what may have caused this big plane.

It was an A320 with more than 180 people on board. It went down in a really vicious storm last night there. We're going to have much more on the investigation this morning at the top of the hour.


CHETRY: All right. Welcome back. We're just about to the top of the hour.

One of the things we want to tell you about that's coming up a little bit later "On Our Radar" this morning are these new ankle bracelets which will be able to record alcohol use, so that if you've gotten in trouble for a DUI arrest or something else, you can actually wear this. It's actually -- the courts make you wear it.

And here you can see it on my leg right now. It's a little bit dark. But it is to be warn at all times.

And if you drink any amount of alcohol, it seeps through your skin. This goes off, your parole officer learns about it, as well as the judge in the case.

There are some high-profile celebrities, including Lindsay Lohan, that are wearing these now. We're going to talk much more about that coming up.

But the next hour of AMERICAN MORNING starts right now.