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American Morning

South Africa Miners Trapped; Airport Death; Stocks Slip

Aired October 04, 2007 - 06:00   ET



UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's always nice when you come out from underground. These guys (INAUDIBLE).


CHETRY: Thousands of trapped miners pulled to safety in a dramatic all-night rescue. We're live from the mine.

Edge of disaster.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We watched the trees snapping and cracking and more boulders come down to our feet.


CHETRY: A landslide brings down a neighborhood.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: These houses have already failed. They're in a landslide.


CHETRY: Should these high-priced homes ever have been built here?

Plus, ticking time bombs.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It kind of creates pressure around this. It pops off the concrete.


CHETRY: Hidden dangers in aging dams and why so little is being done to fix them on this AMERICAN MORNING.

And welcome. It's Thursday, October 4th. Glad you're with us on this AMERICAN MORNING. I'm Kiran Chetry. JOHN ROBERTS, CNN ANCHOR: And I'm John Roberts. Thanks very much for joining us.

It's an incredible story. A mechanical failure at a gold mine. More than 3,000 workers trapped over a mile underground. Rescue efforts underway right now to save to them. So far more than 2,000 workers have been rescued since the accident early yesterday morning.

In this CNN exclusive video, you can see some of the workers coming up out of that mine. They were trapped when an air pipe snapped and damaged an elevator. The workers are being pulled out through a smaller cage in another mine shaft. That gold mine is located in Carletonville, South Africa. That's north of Johannesburg. And joining us now with the latest is CNN's Robyn Curnow.

And, Robyn, some more workers came out of the mine just a few minutes ago?

ROBYN CURNOW, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, and a few more are coming out right now, as you can see behind me, John. Just (INAUDIBLE) in front of them. They come out wearing their hard hats and their overalls and they're very disheveled and tired-looking expression on their faces. Many of them, when the cage opened and the lift comes to the surface of the shaft, they see daylight for the first time in nearly two days. Some of them yell. Some of them shout. Many of them are just so exhausted. They're given a sandwich and some water and they just make their way quietly down that way where they're going to just go home and sleep.

It has been a remarkable recovery effort, John. As you touched on, 3,200 workers. Men and women, I must add. There are about 200 to 300 women down there that have been systematically brought to the surface over the past 12 hours. It's going to take another six hours or more to get the remaining 1,000 or more who are still trapped about a mile and a half beneath me. So all in all, a very dramatic day, but good news because there are no injuries and no fatalities.

ROBERTS: Have you had a chance, Robyn, to speak with any of those workers as they come up out of the mine to talk to them about the conditions that they were in, sort of how they managed to keep their wits about them and stay calm through the past 36 hours?

CURNOW: Well, it's quite amazing, I suppose, under those circumstances how the human spirit always triumph. And initially this accident was triggered by a pipe falling, which then triggered an electrical cut. So the entire mine went into pitch darkness.

Now with 3,200 people all together in the dark, many of them said they felt like they were upside down. They just absolutely lost sense of their bearings. It was such a disorientating experience.

But they got themselves together and what has been quite remarkable is that they got themselves organized into groups of 25. So they were manageable. They were small groups. And they've been keeping each other basically supported in these small groups. And these small groups that are systematically being brought up to the surface over the past few hours.

ROBERTS: Just an incredible experience for those people, but it looks like all of them are going to be brought up safely. Mine officials say that they could have all 3,200 up by later on today. In the next little while here on AMERICAN MORNING, we're going to be speaking with the acting CEO of that mine about those rescue efforts and about what went wrong and the safety record at mines in South Africa.


CHETRY: Well, we take you now to a landslide in La Holla, California. Witnesses there saying they could hear the trees snap and feel the earth move as they watched the street literally sink before their eyes. Well now 111 dream homes are in danger of being swallowed up by a landslide in the hills outside of San Diego.

Now that collapse left a huge crater across a four-lane road, fifteen feet deep and half of a football field across. The city says that $6 million homes were damaged, one destroyed. It happened just hours after a local leaders sent out a written warning to some residents. Some residents say they never got it. We're going to talk with the homeowner who had to run for it later on AMERICAN MORNING.


ROBERTS: New details this morning about the fire that killed five workers in a power plant in Colorado. It happened deep underground in a water tunnel at Xcel Energy's power station in Georgetown, Colorado. That's just west of Denver. Last night rescuers and the Clear County sheriff told reporters that fresh air didn't get to the men in time because they weren't sure exactly where they were trapped.


UNDERSHERIFF STU NAY, CLEAR CREEK COUNTY, COLORADO: There were 11 people working in or around the portal. When the fire initiated, one party ran back in to try to assist and then became one of the victims that was transported. None of the bodies had any burn marks on them and that is what I do know. There was no sign of trauma. There was no sign of any burning.


ROBERTS: It took rescuers some six hours to reach the bodies. Four other workers managed to escape the fire.

New Mexico Senator Pete Domenici is retiring for health reasons. The 75-year-old, six term lawmaker will make an official announcement today. He will say that he is suffering from a brain disorder that is a form of dementia the 75-year-old says he's confident that he can serve the remaining four month in his current term but he can't be sure how he will be seven years from now. Domenici has been an influential Republican voice on budget issues. That opens up yet another seat in the 2008 elections. It's a town of high stakes and higher crime. Now people want to know who's in charge after Atlantic City's mayor just disappeared. Mayor Bob Levy went awol last week amid reports that the feds were investigating his military record. Levy admitted to campaigning on false claims that he was a green beret in Vietnam. His attorney said his client is on extended medical leave but would not give any specific details.


CHETRY: Well, the House today is expected to pass legislation designed to do more to regulate private security firms in Iraq like Blackwater USA. The House measure would extend the criminal jurisdiction of U.S. courts to any federal contractor working alongside military operations. Senate Democratic leaders plan to quickly follow suit and to get that bill to the president.

Former President Jimmy Carter's trip to Darfur was supposed to help bring peace, but instead Carter reportedly got angry with security personnel who wouldn't allow him to visit a refugee camp. Carter reportedly shouted, "you don't have the power to stop me," but he told CNN that it was all just a misunderstanding.


JIMMY CARTER, FORMER U.S. PRESIDENT: I decided to go and visit the mayor, in effect, of the city. He's the chief of the village. But what I told my security is that I want to go and visit the chief in his home. Then a Sudanese security agent, whom we had not seen before, said that we were not permitted to go and visit the chief because it was not on the schedule. And so I told him that I felt free to go wherever I chose inside Darfur, inside Sudan because I had the approval of the president of Sudan.


CHETRY: Well, also reportedly Carter was warned by U.N. staff accompanying him to leave or "someone is going to get shot." So Carter left, never getting where he wanted to go in the first place.

A major agreement today between North and South Korea. The two sides came up with an eight-point plan which includes a pledge to seek an official end to the Korean War. The two sides have technically been in a state of war for the past 54 years. They did sign a cease- fire back in the 1950s, but there has yet it be any official declaration of peace.


ROBERTS: Seven minutes after the hour and time to check in with our AMERICAN MORNING team of correspondents for other stories new that we're following this morning.

New details today about the events leading up to that bizarre death of Carol Anne Gotbaum while in police custody at Phoenix's Sky Harbor Airport. Alina Cho has the latest now at our national update desk.

Alina, this is a story that many people can't believe, a woman could miss her flight and within side of 40 minutes be dead. What's the latest?

ALINA CHO, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, John, good morning.

You know, there's word of a videotape possibly and some phone calls just after she missed her flight. You know, there have been two autopsies. Toxicology results could be weeks away. But this morning, John, we're learning the lawyer hired by Carol Ann Gotbaum's family tells CNN, he believes he knows how she died. Attorney Michael Manning says Gotbaum was manhandled by police and says she likely died of something called positional asphyxia. That can come from violent, forceful restraint, which experts say can create an inability to breathe.


MICHAEL MANNING, FAMILY ATTORNEY: It can come from a compression of the diaphragm. It can come from bending forward. It can come from having your hands cuffed behind your back. I think it can come from a struggle in connection with a restraint. Lots of ways it could happen.


CHO: Now, Phoenix Police dispute that account, saying officers followed procedure when they arrested, handcuffed and shackled Gotbaum after she became irate from missing her flight. In a statement released last night, police said officers tried unsuccessfully to calm Gotbaum and described her as loud and uncooperative. Now CNN has learned there is videotape of the actual arrest, but no word yet on when it will be released to the public.

Now Gotbaum was headed, as many know by now, to an alcohol treatment center in Tucson. Today we're learning had things been a little different, she may have never ended up in Phoenix. "The New York Times" is reporting this morning that the 45-year-old mother of three, who lived in New York City, was supposed to fly direct to Tucson but took a connecting flight, John, because she wanted to see her kids off to school.

ROBERTS: Yes, it's all a matter of timing sometimes. And it will be really interesting, Alina, to see that tape because there is such a disagreement between how eyewitnesses and how the police describe that arrest.

CHO: It may help clarify things.

ROBERTS: Thanks.

Yes, well, I don't know if we can get that tape later this morning, but it certainly would be great to see.

Alina Cho for us this morning. Alina, thanks very much.

AMERICAN MORNING legal contributor Sunny Hostin, by the way, is going to have more on this story at 6:15 Eastern. So stay around for that.

Oil prices dip below the $80 mark while stocks slip on Wednesday after record highs earlier this week. Ali Velshi at our business update date.

Who ever thought that oil slipping below $80 a barrel would be good news.

ALI VELSHI, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, who would have thought that . . .


VELSHI: I'm away for a couple days and I miss a record on the Dow. We have a couple things going on.

First of all, the Dow hit a record on Tuesday and then slipped back a little bit yesterday. We actually lost about 80 points on the Dow. We also lost on the Nasdaq and the S&P because we're getting an unemployment report again tomorrow. The monthly unemployment report. We're expected to have created 100,000 jobs.

But you remember what happened very surprisingly last month when we had our unemployment report, John. We ended up losing 4,000 jobs. So the market's a little bit nervous because they want to know whether there are jobs being created, what the unemployment rate is and what the Fed is likely to do on October 31st when it meets again on interest rates.

The other thing, as you mentioned, oil prices below $80 a barrel for the first time in a while. $79 and change is where it ended up closing. $79.94. Just a few cents down. No major move, but we have seen a trend downward in the price of oil over the last few weeks. We'll see where that goes. And, of course, what most people are concerned about is how that affects their gasoline prices.

However, as we get into the winter heating season, for those people who heat with oil and natural gas, the price of crude oil is going to start to matter more because those expenses tend to be pretty high. I'll follow all of that and more news as the morning continues, John. Back to you.

ROBERTS: That 14,000 mark, Ali, seems to be a bit of a weird one for the Dow. Every time it hits that . . .

VELSHI: That's the one that, yes, it comes back down again.

ROBERTS: Bad things happen. Yes.

All right, Ali, we'll see you soon.


ROBERTS: Rob Marciano in the studio with us this morning here on the CNN weather desk. Tracking extreme weather. Something brewing down there in the New Orleans area today.


CHETRY: Well, some real-life controversy on Wisteria Lane. The producers of the hit show "Desperate Housewives" and ABC under fire this morning over some comments made by Teri Hatcher's character, Susan, in the season premier last Sunday. Take a listen.


TERI HATCHER, ACTRESS, "DESPERATE HOUSEWIVES": Can I check those diplomas because I would just like to make sure that they're not from some med school in the Philippines.


CHETRY: Well, that is not sitting well with Filipinos around the world. An executive producer for "Desperate Housewives" says it was not the show's intention to "disparage the integrity of any aspect of the medical community in the Philippines." ABC says it may edit the line out of the show for future broadcasts.

Well, maybe losing her kids was a wake-up call for Britney Spears. At least according to "OK" magazine, she may be checking into rehab in Antigua as early as this weekend. She'll reportedly be treated for depression and alcohol at the Crossroads Center. It was founded by rock legend Eric Clapton. That's actually the same facility where she spent a one-day rehab stint earlier this year. She also completed a rehab stint at a facility in Malibu, California.

Also yesterday, in continuing Britney news, she was a no-show at a custody hearing where a judge ruled that she only gets supervised visits. Her ex-husband, Kevin Federline, keeping primary custody of their two young sons for now.

Well, we are learning more details this morning about the death of a woman in a Phoenix airport. Did the police behave properly and what are more witnesses saying as more witnesses start to come forward and give their side about what they witnessed the day that she died. The legal options also for the family next on AMERICAN MORNING.


ROBERTS: Well, some of the shots that you've got to see in your "Quick Hits" now. The birth of a new solar system. Now, this isn't exactly a real picture. This is an artist sketch of something that was spotted by a NASA telescope. Astronomers say it shows the formation of a rocky earth-like planet around a star that is slightly larger and much younger than our sun. Could it be the birth of a solar system quite like ours?

Police on Capitol Hill will be looking at security camera footage today to figure out who was behind a series of suspicious fires inside two Senate office buildings. They say that fires were started yesterday in garbage cans in four different women's buildings. The Dirksen and Hart office buildings were never evacuated, but senators did get e-mail alerts about the incidents. Police say the fires were also set in women's bathrooms at the Hart building. That was two days last week. No injuries have been reported, but they're definitely looking for someone who may be either a prankster or a pyromaniac this morning.


CHETRY: All right, John, thanks.

Well, there are some new details this morning about the moments leading up to the mysterious and bizarre death of Carol Ann Gotbaum at Phoenix Sky Harbor Airport. Some of them are based on police officer reports and also 15 witness statements. In fact, one witness, according to "The New York Post," saying that Gotbaum was thrown to the ground and an officer was so rough with her that it looked like she suffered a separated shoulder.

Police, though, say she was yelling, screaming. That she threw her PDA, almost hitting another passenger. Investigators are also now saying how they think she died and they're talking more about the desperate attempts they made to try to save her life inside of that holding cell. Police have scheduled a news conference for later today.

But joining us now with more on this is legal contributor Sunny Hostin.

Sunny, great to see you.


CHETRY: So both sides, Gotbaum's family attorney giving more detail, as well as the Phoenix Police Department. And one thing, though, that the family lawyer said was that witnesses say they saw cops carrying a "non-combative, non-resisting" Gotbaum into the holding cell and this witness is saying, "wondered if she was dead." And at the time before she even went into the holding cell.

Now, of course, police strongly refute that, but will autopsy results ever be able to clarify the time of her death?

HOSTIN: They should. And that's going to be very important. This case is going to turn on the facts. And I'm sure that the family is investigating this because they want to find out what happened and perhaps bring a civil action against the police department.

I was looking at the timeline based on the police department's statement. If you look at it, at 2:49 they received this call indicating that there's someone that's being disorderly. Within 15 seconds, there are three police officers there. They drag her to the ground by their own admission. They handcuff her behind her back. They drag her to a police cell. Seven additional officers were there. At 2:53 is when this happens and at 3:29 she's dead. That is a very, very tight time frame and if you have witness statements saying that she was being cooperative, nothing was wrong, they shackled her, it looks a lot like too much aggression by the police department and possible negligence. They may be responsible for her wrongful death.

CHETRY: Phoenix Police also releasing a statement saying that when she wasn't allowed to board her flight she "became agitated, loud and at some point threw her handheld PDA" device, like a phone, "just missing a citizen, which broke into pieces." Now they say they arrested her because they couldn't calm her down.

We've all been frustrated at the airport. Obviously this behavior is not recommended. But is that enough -- throwing, you know, a phone -- to be arrested?

HOSTIN: Well, it could be disorderly conduct, disturbing the peace. That is one thing. It's a misdemeanor. You know, people get that for urinating in the street. And, fine, arrest is one thing, but dragging someone to a holding cell, throwing them on the ground, that's borderline police brutality. This is going to be, I think, a very, very difficult case for the police department.

CHETRY: They also describe, when we talk about what a lot of people are trying to figure out how she could have possibly strangled herself with handcuffs. New details from the police department that they believe it was handcuffs and then the handcuffs were attached to the shackles to the bench. They believe what she may have done is been able to slid them underneath, through her legs and back up and that's what they're talking about when they found her.

Now her family is very upset because they say the medical examiner's report, at least the initial report, doesn't mention certain body parts that you'd want to know about, including her throat muscles and other things. So when are we going to find out more detail about an exact cause of death?

HOSTIN: My understanding is that the report should be coming out this week and that's going to be a very, very interesting, interesting and very important report. We also know that she vomited while they were trying to resuscitate her, which sometimes is evidence of strangulation. And I'm sure that Dr. Gupta can say a little bit more about that. But I think this is going it be an extremely important report for the legal aspects of this case.

CHETRY: Quickly, before we let you go, do you think these witnesses, some 15 now coming forward, could be called to testify or at least give their testimony to police or prosecutors?

HOSTIN: Without question. Without question. And if there's going to be a civil case here, we're going to see their depositions as well.

CHETRY: Sunny Hostin, always great to see you. Thanks.

HOSTIN: Thank you. CHETRY: John.

ROBERTS: It's just such an incredible case.

The Army meets its 2007 recruiting goal. Your "Quick Hits" now. Eighty thousand new soldiers signed up in the 2007 budget year that ended on September the 30th. Some people are predicting, however, that 2008 may be a tough year for recruiting as the Iraq War grows increasingly unpopular.

The new chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff is in Iraq this morning. Admiral Michael Mullen is taking a week long trip to Iraq and Afghanistan to size up progress on the wars in those regions.

Twenty-three minutes after the hour. Swimming into the record books with both hands and both legs tied behind her back. Why one father is facing allegations of child abuse in China.

And living on the edge of disaster. A road buckles and the earth moves in the hills of southern California. An update on the race to save an entire neighborhood. Can it be saved? Ahead on AMERICAN MORNING.


CHETRY: There's a shocking story out of China about just how far a parent pushed his kid hoping for athletic achievement. A father says that he helped his 10-year-old daughter train for her dream of swimming across the English Channel by sending her up a freezing, cold river with her hands and feet tied. The Chinese paper reports that she was blue when she came out of the water three hours later. The father swam alongside of her. He is insisting it was all her idea.

ROBERTS: Wow. That's an unusual idea.

CHETRY: Well, a look at a story coming up in our next half hour that you just can't miss. A fellow in London road his bicycle into a train station, fell on to the tracks and narrowly missed getting slammed by a train. There you see, he fell off the platform there. We're going to show you more of this a little bit later on. You know, a passerby comes over and takes a look, you know, encourages him, hey, buddy, get up off the tracks. We'll show you how this one came out. We'll tell you that he didn't, didn't die, let's put it that way. All right. That story coming up when we return on AMERICAN MORNING.


JOHN ROBERTS, CNN NEWS ANCHOR: Pictures this morning from Carletonville, South Africa, as more miners come out of that Harmony Gold Mine. They have been trapped for more than 24 hours when an air pipe broke off and damaged an elevator and caused a power failure. More than 3,200 miners trapped underground and now more than 2,000 have come up. And apparently the rescue efforts are proceeding and they hope to get all the miners back up by the end of the day there in South Africa. We'll talk with the active CEO of that mine in just a little while about the rescue efforts and about the safety record of that and other mines in South Africa and how something like that could ever happen.

CHETRY: They all look happy and incredibly calm for their ordeal.

ROBERTS: Oh, yeah.

CHETRY: Absolutely. Well, welcome back once again. Thanks for being with us on this October 4th. I'm Kiran Chetry.

ROBERTS: And good morning to you. I'm John Roberts.

CHETRY: Hundreds of people living in the hills of southern California are being told to get out of their homes after a landslide swallowed a road near San Diego. The collapse left a huge crater, 15 feet deep. There you see the road just literally falling away. Half a football field across. The city said that million dollar homes are damaged, destroyed or at risk. It all happened in La Jolla, California.

"AMERICAN MORNING's" Chris Lawrence is there now with more details this morning.

Hi, Chris.

CHRIS LAWRENCE, CNN NEWS CORRESPONDENT: Good morning, Kiran. You know the major slide is over, but the soil is still shifting slightly. And there's going to be some mixed news today for the families that live anywhere near this incredible crater. Can you imagine looking outside your front door right now and seeing that in front of your street?

Some of the families are going to be allowed back into their homes today. That's the good news. But the fire chief told me, as they inspect more homes, more of them are going to get red tagged, which means some families will get the worst news imaginable. They're going to be told your home is now uninhabitable.

Anyone would be shocked to hear the ground buckle, and as one man told us watched a mountain slide into his backyard swimming pool.

But this really came as no surprise. Residents noticed cracks in the pavement earlier this summer and the city had obviously been monitoring the area for weeks, even going so far as install above- ground water lines and put emergency crews on alert.

Some residents are very upset and say the city told them nothing that would indicate anything like this could happen at their homes. But officials say they warned certain families, even before the collapse, the day right before the collapse, that it wasn't safe for them to sleep in their homes.

JERRY SANDERS, MAYOR OF LA JOLLA, CALIFORNIA: We have contacted the most immediately affected people over and over and over again. The city will maintain contact with them. But it's perfectly natural when you have an incident like this to be upset. And I wouldn't expect anybody who has been affected not to be upset.

LAWRENCE: Some of the residents have a theory about why this happened and they blame water leakage, but right now that is just a theory. Some of the geologists don't agree with it and they say the soil is just naturally unstable -- Kiran?

CHETRY: All right, Chris Lawrence for us live in La Jolla, thank you.

ROBERTS: New this morning, top secret U.S. documents that show the CIA walked a very fine line between interrogation and torture. According to the "New York Times," at the same time the Justice Department was giving public assurances it did not condone torture, it released secretly opinions about questioning terror suspects. Those opinions endorsed the harshest techniques, all OKed by then Attorney General Alberto Gonzales. They also reported gave the green light for the CIA to use painful and physical and -- painful, physical and psychological tactics on terror suspects -- head slapping, simulating drowning and exposure to frigid temperatures apparently all fair gain. The techniques were not considered cruel, inhuman and degrading and within the standard that were set by Congress.

Iraq is getting an arm shipment from China. Iraq's president said the country paid $100 million for light military equipment to supply police because the U.S. was too slow in doing it. Military analysts say it's a frightening thought since Iraq already lost track of close to 200,000 weapons supplied by the United States, weapons that could be in the hands of Sunni and Shiite militias.

Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez is accusing the United States of trying to provoke a military uprising against him. Chavez claims the CIA is behind the distribution of leaflets at army bases calling for a coup. The U.S. State Department is not commenting on Chavez's statements. Chavez survived a short-lived coup attempt back in 2002 after 19 people were killed during street protests.

CHETRY: There are some new details about the fire that killed five workers at a power plant in Colorado. It happened deep underground in a water tunnel at Xcel's Energy Power Station in Georgetown, Colorado. Rescuers say that fresh air didn't get to the men in time and that they were not sure where they were or exactly they were trapped. Four other workers escaped from the tunnel and were treated at a hospital and released.

Well, family members of the workers killed in the collapse of the Crandall Canyon Mine in Utah spoke to Congress yesterday. The brother of one of the men said the mine chose productivity over safety. And four relatives said that the miners were worried about mine safety but didn't want to complain for fear they would lose their jobs.

One mother who lost her son wanted to say something else.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) SHEILA PHILLIPS, MOTHER OF BRANDON PHILLIPS: I want to speak on how much we miss Brandon and how we don't want anybody else to this happen to. At least make mines safer. It's just hard to have hope and to your heart broke every day and watch your grandson grow up without a dad.


CHETRY: Six workers were killed when the mine collapsed August 6th. Three others died attempting to rescue them.

ROBERTS: 36 minutes now after the hour. Rescue efforts are under way right now to save more than 3,000 miners in South Africa and the dramatic all night effort is paying off.

In this CNN exclusive video, you can see some of the miners coming up out of the mine. They were trapped when an air pipe snapped and damaged an elevator. The workers are being pulled out through a smaller cage in another shaft. That goldmine is located in Carletonville, South Africa, north of Johannesburg. We'll try to make contact with the mine's CEO. We hope to have him on in just the next few minutes and talk more about those rescue efforts.


CHETRY: Well, October 22nd, mark that down if you live in New York City. It's going to be a tough day to hail a cab. About nine of the 44,000 New York City cabbies are expected to walk off the job. The drivers are upset about new rules requiring them to have GPS systems and credit card readers in their cabs. This is their second strike in just two months.

Leading Democrats in Congress want a mortgage czar. They want someone to be appointed to deal with the wave of foreclosures on home loans.

Senator Chris Dodd compared the mortgage crisis is a slow-motion Katrina taking homes one by one.

Still ahead, collateral damage when the U.S. military bombs a giant beehive. We'll see more of the angry wasps and how they reacted.

Plus, the recent horror of a bridge collapse in Minnesota is raising a lot of questions about the hundreds of other dams and bridges across the country, many of them old. Could they withstand a bad storm? What's being done to keep them from crumbling?

We'll take a look ahead on "AMERICAN MORNING."


CHETRY: Welcome back. 40 minutes past the hour now. Rob Marciano gracing us with his presence in studio today.

Nice to see you. ROB MARCIANO, CNN METEOROLOGIST: I constantly lobby to get up here. Big, spacious fancy studio.

CHETRY: I know, and that little cot in the back for you.

MARCIANO: It's very nice. And look at this telestrator (ph), much bigger than the one in Atlanta.

CHETRY: And there's not a lot going on.

MARCIANO: There's not. That's good news, but, you know, don't be deceived.


CHETRY: Those two in Georgia, those are the ones that needed it?

MARCIANO: They're on the coast line, so it's kind of cheating. We need it in north Georgia, Tennessee, Kentucky, but we haven't seen a whole lot there. But we'll try to move it farther north to where we need it.

Here's the radar this morning, Kiran. Savannah, more rain. But it's all heading in this direction. We get it farther north and west, that would be a good thing. We'll try to work that for you.

CHETRY: I feel like Vanna White. Clear screen, clear screen. I'd like to buy an E.

MARCIANO: You know, Pat Sajak used to be a weather guy. Maybe we have a future in some kind of game shows.

CHETRY: How about that, your future's bright. Thanks a lot, Rob.

MARCIANO: We'll see you.

ROBERTS: Don't like where that one's going.

We've been telling you about families out of their homes right now in an upscale neighborhood in La Jolla, near San Diego. They're near a landslide that collapsed just straight and opened up a sink hole 50 yards wide. It's another reminder of America's crumbling infrastructure. Some neighborhoods fear they're one bad storm away from losing it all. 1,300 dams across the country are described as high hazards and could possibly give way.

"AMERICAN MORNING's" Sean Callebs is live in Delaware County, Ohio. He has more on this for us.

Good morning to you, Sean.

SEAN CALLEBS, CNN NEWS CORRESPONDENT: Good morning, John. It all sounds scary, if you think about it. No question the nation's roads, bridges and dams are getting older. The consequences for lack of maintenance could be devastating. And the number of dams that engineers say are unsafe and could trigger catastrophe may surprise you.


CALLEBS (voice-over): Helen Churtz lives on a ticking time bomb, on an earthen dam considered unsafe or a high hazard. That means if the dam is breached, people in its vicinity could die.

Helen can't imagine living anywhere else.

HELEN CHURTZ, BUCKEYE LAKE DAM RESIDENT: Summer days, very busy. You can look down from this view and you can see the sail boats out from the yacht club.

CALLEBS: Still, people risk everything to live near water.

(on camera): Lake, dam, houses -- what's wrong with this picture?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Putting a structure, a house with a basement onto an earthen dam is just insane.

CALLEBS (voice-over): The environmental group, American River, says if thousands of dams aren't reinforced and repaired now, a major catastrophe could happen.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE; People were going across that Minneapolis Bridge day after day, month after month and nothing had happened so far and in a terrible moment, of course, it failed.

CALLEBS: Two month ago 13 people died when the bridge collapsed into the Mississippi River. That tragedy struck home for dam safety officials in Ohio.

SEAN LOGAN, OHIO DEPARTMENT OF NATURAL RESOURCES: It was a wake- up call, frankly. I think it's a wake-up call for all the states.

CALLEBS: Take Texas, for example. It has one dam inspector for every 1,500 or so dams. Alabama doesn't even have a dam safety program.

Although rare, when a dam gives way, the result can be catastrophic.

In March of '06, a dam collapse at the Colloca Reservoir in Hawaii killed seven people.

RODNEY TORNES, OHIO DAM SAFETY INSPECTOR: Creates pressure and pops off the concrete, that's why you see the concrete popping off in several different locations because the rebar itself has corroded.

CALLEBS: Safety concerns over this 90 year old damn in Girard, forced the city to drain the lake. Now, all that's left, 43 feet of crumbling concrete and steel, a big, empty field and $16 million in needed repairs.

JIM MELFI, MAYOR OF GIRARD, OHIO: There's every possibility that this beautiful lake may not be here in the future. So, we have to take the safety of residents and businesses very seriously.


CALLEBS: And a conservative estimate for repairs on dams in dire need of attention, at least $10 billion.

Here's something else to chew on. Recently the American Society of Civil Engineers graded our infrastructure. Bridges got a "C" and we know what happened in Minneapolis. Well, our nation's dams, John, they got a "D."

ROBERTS: Sean Callebs this morning for us in Ohio. Sean, thanks very much. We'll see you later on.


CHETRY: Bike riding in a subway station may not be a good idea to begin with, especially if police think you're intoxicated. Because look what happens. You fall on to the tracks. This is CC TV closed circuit television catching this in London. A man just fell on to the tracks while riding his bike and right before the train's coming, you see a woman who was standing there checking out to see if he was OK. He gets up. Apparently, she was encouraging him, get out of the way, get out of the way. He runs out and, then, just moments later you see the train come by. There it is zooming by and it completely crushes his bike.

Well, we're going it show you more on how this turned out, coming up.


ROBERTS: Coming up to ten minutes before the hour now. Welcome back to the most news in the morning on CNN.

Your "Quick Hits", Iran's foreign minister says the United States is in no position to attack his country. Speaking to reporters yesterday, in the final day of the U.N. General Assembly in New York, he said the Bush administration cannot afford another costly conflict in the region. He also said Tehran is doing its best to avoid confrontation in the Middle East.

Confirmation hearings for a new attorney general are back on track. Democrats had stalled the hearing hoping to force the White House to turn over sensitive documents related to the firing of federal prosecutors, but the White House refused. Michael Mukasey, a retired federal judge from New York is the nominee. Hearings are expected to begin in a few weeks time.

And an issue that could come up at that hearing, security details for federal judges like Mukasey. U.S. Marshals are charged with protecting them, but a new report found a huge backlog of cases and said, even when marshals review the threats, they didn't do a thorough job. Mukasey has come under direct fire for his old security detail, which was codenamed Eagle Detail. It lasted some 10 years and cost taxpayers $28 million. Kiran?

CHETRY: How about this one. This is a bike rider who narrowly avoids getting run over by a train. A man in London riding his bike -- there he is on the subway platform and, boop, falls over the edge. He picked himself up after this woman ran out to the tracks and told him there's a train coming, you better get up. You can see the train off in the distance getting closer and closer. It came by a few seconds after he was able to pick himself up and walk off the tracks.

Police are saying they believe he was under the influence of alcohol or drugs. And they said this was his second close call that very day. There goes the train. The bike was demolished. They say that earlier he almost electrocuted himself when he was walking his bike across the very same tracks. There he is, again. Safe and sound, though.

All right, how about this one, the world's smallest dog. It's official. It's Boo Boo the Chihuahua. That's a Chihuahua. It looks like a papiyawn (ph) to me. But who knows. It's only four inches tall, full grown. When she was born, Boo Boo was about the size of a thumb, weighing only an ounce, needed to be fed through an eyedropper. Now Boo Boo is in the Guinness Book of World Records for her lack of size.

And, yet, how lucky, so small, yet, her favorite food, Lay's potato chips. ROBERTS: You would think she would be so big eating food like that.

CHETRY: All right, well, congratulations Boo Boo.

Americans with disabilities more likely to smoke, in your "Quick Hits" now. According to federal researchers, one in four disabled people are smokers, compared to one out of five for people who are not disabled. Among the reason for the possible difference they cited people with drug and alcohol addictions are counted among the disabled and they're more likely to be smokers.

A ruling in San Francisco being called a big step in making web sites more accessible to the blind. A judge clearing the way for a class-action suit against Target stores. The suit is seeking to force the site to work with site reading software which scans text images and reads the content out loud.

And still ahead, the holidays are the most crucial time of year for toy makers and sellers. But with all the recent toy recalls, will there be enough safe toys left on the shelves? Ali Velshi checks it out for us. He's "Minding Your Business" up next.


ROBERTS: Fifty years ago, the Soviet Union sent a metal ball into space. The launch of the satellite Sputnik ignited the space race and heightened the Cold War. Today, we have hundreds of satellites in space, giving us everything from satellite TV to satellite radio and GPS and all those other good things, as well.

CHETRY: All right, there it is. Welcome back to the most news in the morning. We have a look at one of the shots that caught our eye overnight. The National Guard ambushed by a cloud of hornets. It's an I-report that came to us from Afghanistan. A commander says they really rattled the nest when they cleared a path by blowing up a boulder. The camera was surrounded for 45 minutes. It almost looks like something out of a movie, a sci-fi movie, as all of those hornets -- they're not kidding when they say mad as a hornet.

ALI VELSHI, CNN SENIOR BUSINESS ANALYST: Was someone operating that camera?


VELSHI: Or they were they sort of standing alone?

CHETRY: You're right, they probably just had it set up there, otherwise that would be an amazing feat to stand that still while getting pelted with hornets for 45 minutes.

VELSHI: That's when you quit your job.

ROBERTS: Looks like the sort of place like where our Randy Kay does stand-ups.

CHETRY: At least she has the suit when she does it, right?

Three minutes before the top of the hour. Ali Velshi is "Minding Your Business."

Christmas not far away. Of course, the biggest shopping season and now concern about toys because of recalls.

VELSHI: We add up all these recalls. The millions of toys that are recalled and someone might figure out you might not get the toys you want for Christmas. Remember TMX Elmo last year? Nobody could get their hands on it? I can't tell you what the big toys coming up this year. That is not my area of specialty. I suppose I had better learn what they are because you need to make a decision whether you're going to buy that early or wait for the sales.

The toy industry is now saying they might have problems. The hottest toys just may not be available and they may not be able to stock up on them in time because so many other toys are not available that people who otherwise wouldn't have spent that extra money, that premium to buy the hottest thing this year, might get their hands on it because it's available and they've heard about it.

Typically, what happens is the holiday shopping season starts on Black Friday, the day after Thanksgiving. It makes up a very big percentage of sales for the $22 billion U.S. toy industry, that last month of sales. And sometimes people wait all the way until the week before Christmas to buy their toys because those sales -- the cuts become very deep at that point. Wal-mart has already announced big cuts on its toys very early this year and the idea is that the entire shopping season for toys is probably going to move closer to this end of things. Who knows how this is going to affect sales in the last quarter of the month -- the last quarter of the year.

But if you are looking for must-have toys -- again, don't know what those must-have toys are yet, but I'll be working on that.


CHETRY: ... parents can't keep their sanity.

VELSHI: I'll come interview you guys on that because I'm less likely to know than you are what the must-have toys are. But we'll tell you what they are.

ROBERTS: I'm out of whole thing

VELSHI: You're out of the game? You and me. We'll interview Kiran on he must-have toys.

CHETRY: Most kids are old enough that all they want now is cash.

VELSHI: And they could buy it themselves.

ROBERTS: Actually, my daughter is looking for a GPS for her new car.

VELSHI: Right, they'll probably still have those on the shelves.

ROBERTS: Yeah, I think so.


ROBERTS: Ali, thanks very much.

CHETRY: The fruit cakes and bad ties, can't guarantee it. Thanks, Ali. ROBERTS: A story coming up in our next half hour on "AMERICAN MORNING" that you can't miss, another escalation in this war of words between anti-war activist Democrats in Congress and Rush Limbaugh.

CHETRY: That's right. Veterans fighting back with a new television and radio ad taking on Rush, however, Rush says the guy featured in the ad is not who he was referring to when he made controversial remarks. We'll show it to you and talk more about it.

Our political hot topics coming up next hour of "AMERICAN MORNING" starts right now.

Breaking news.


UNIDENTIFIED CORRESPONDENT: They see daylight for the first time in nearly two days.


CHETRY: Urgent efforts this morning to bring thousands of trapped miners out of the darkness.

Feeling the heat. Phoenix police presenting their side of the story about the death of a woman in their custody at the airport.

And new details overnight, revelations about the health of a long-time Senator from New Mexico calling it quits, on this "AMERICAN MORNING."

Welcome. Thanks for being with us. It is Thursday, October 4th. I'm Kiran Chetry.

ROBERTS: Good morning to you. I'm John Roberts.