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The Situation Room

Florida Residents Rocked By Wilma Wait Hours For Water and Ice; White House Anxiously Awaiting CIA Leak Probe Outcome; Bomb Rips Through Crowded Israeli Marketplace; Air Force Academy Coach Makes Controversial Comments About Race; Wal-Mart Might Change Health Care Benefits For Its Workers; BlackBerry Involved In Law Suit

Aired October 26, 2005 - 15:00   ET


WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: I'm Wolf Blitzer. And you're in THE SITUATION ROOM, where new pictures and information are arriving all the time. Standing by, CNN reporters across the U.S. and around the world to bring you the day's top stories.
Happening now, it's 3:00 p.m. in the South Florida disaster zone, where residents rocked by Wilma wait hours for water and ice. Millions of people are still without power, and some may have to wait weeks for the lights to go back on.

Here in Washington, the White House waits anxiously as the CIA leak investigation goes down to the wire. Will top administration officials be indicted?

And it's 9:00 p.m. in Israel, where a bloody bombing rips through a crowded marketplace. Is the region headed for a new round of violence?


Stunned by the devastation left by Hurricane Wilma, South Florida's trying to pick itself up and get moving again. But it's very slow going when the most basic necessities, water, food, gasoline, electricity, are hard to come by.

Our senior correspondent, Allan Chernoff, is joining us now live from Oakland Park in Florida. Where exactly is Oakland Park, Allan?

ALLAN CHERNOFF, CNN SENIOR CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, we're in the northern portion of Broward County, I would think about 40 miles north of the Miami area.

And over here, it was very busy until just about a half-hour ago, when they ran out of ice and water. FEMA certainly did deliver, bringing three truckloads of ice and water here. Hundreds of people drove by in their vehicles. Also, they were lined up right over here by the community center. And the lines were quite long, but they did move very quickly -- most people waiting in line here no more than a half-hour for sure -- some people just whisking right on through.

They had National Guardsmen here, volunteers, city officials, very valuable commodities, of course, in a town that is still without power. In fact, the very site where they were handing out the water, you can see the power lines are down still, just yanked down by Hurricane Wilma. This is the type of line that a utility crew told me yesterday normally carries 7,600 volts of electricity -- obviously, not live right now, but a perfect example of all of the work that still has to be done around here before people can get the power back, get their refrigerators back on and, also, of course, the need for electricity to pump sewage out, so that the water, in fact, is potable around here.

So, at the moment, still, ice and water are critical commodities. They are trying to get another truck over here -- thus far, though, nothing more, although, Wolf, we can report, hundreds and hundreds of people were very well-served here.

BLITZER: They were very well-served, but there are, presumably, lots of other people that still need ice and water badly.

CHERNOFF: No question about that, Wolf. And it is a logistical challenge. Just one example of that, yesterday, FEMA was trying to get ice and the water over here while people were lining up beginning at 11:00 in the morning. The truck didn't show up until 4:00 in the afternoon. Tempers were flaring. A huge improvement today, so FEMA certainly getting its act together, at least at this site.

I cannot tell you exactly what has happened at other sites, but there are dozens of them around southern Florida. So this just one example of what's happening around here.

BLITZER: All right, thank you very much, Allan Chernoff, reporting for us.

The damage that Wilma inflicted on South Florida caught just about everyone by surprise.

Joining us on the phone now, the mayor of hard-hit Broward County, Kristin Jacobs.

Mayor, thanks very much for joining us. How bad is the situation now?

KRISTIN JACOBS, MAYOR OF BROWARD COUNTY, FLORIDA: Well, we at -- as some that are not familiar with Broward County may not know, Broward County has about 1.7 million people. And 95 percent of our county is without power. Right now, we're estimating 600,000 -- 860,000 homes are currently without power. We are at least fortunate that we had cool weather that descended upon us yesterday.

With 120-mile-an-hour winds blowing through our county, you can understand that we have had massive damage to some structures and mostly landscaping, trees that have gone over and pulled up, water mains along with them, which has compromised water to most of the county, which is currently on a boil-water order.

We're experiencing some difficulties with the water distribution, that water is not being -- water and ice is being distributed by the state. I heard somebody say FEMA. It is a state operation right now. And, logistically, it is a massive community to try to move this through. And we are working through it, getting better with every hour.

I think, truly, we expected that many of the residents would have had enough water and fuel to make it through the very first day following a storm. And so, that has presented some problems. But we are getting there. And we're pretty confident that, as we move through the next couple of hours, many of the -- the new processes that are being put -- put into place are going to yield the best results.

BLITZER: There was plenty of warning that this hurricane, Wilma, was heading your -- heading your way, almost a week's worth of warning. What -- what -- what did -- what did you miscalculate, not necessarily you personally, but state and FEMA, because there are, as we see, a lot of long lines? People are desperate for water and desperate for ice. They have no electricity, no power, no gas.

JACOBS: I think one of the issues for -- I can't so much speak for the state, as to why their trucks are not rolling in with the amount of water and ice. Certainly, this storm followed the projected -- the projected path as clearly as -- as was delineated for days outside the storm.

As far as fuel is concerned, with the lack of power coming in, Broward County's Port Everglades delivers fuel to 13 counties in South Florida, as well as the airports for Miami-Dade County, Broward County and Palm Beach County, including the Homestead Air Force Base. So, fuel coming in at the port is a concern and power out there.

We have all of the fuel that we need. The issue is getting it out to the service stations that are currently working off of generators to be able to deliver that fuel to the customers. As soon as power becomes available, as soon as the oil companies start bringing in their generators, we believe that should shorten some of the lines throughout -- that you're seeing throughout the county for fuel.

Water and ice is going to be a little bit less of an issue, water in that many of the mains are coming back online. And so, folks won't need to stand in line for water. But in fact, our grocery stores are open. And water and ice are for sale, as well as being handed out at these facilities.

BLITZER: Kristin Jacobs, the Broward County mayor -- Mayor, good luck to you. Good luck to everyone in Broward County.

JACOBS: Thank you.

BLITZER: And, far from Florida and far from their homes across the United States, thousands of American tourists still stuck in Wilma's wake in Mexico. They weathered the storm in Cancun and other resorts along the Mayan Riviera. Many are making it out today. At least nine flights from U.S. commercial airlines are being sent to bring back Americans. Airline officials say the flights could continue through the weekend. U.S. consular officials are providing food and medicine, trying to help make arrangements for passage home.

Other stories we're following right here in Washington: The White House may feel like a sauna today for some top Bush administration officials, as they sweat out the CIA leak investigation. The special counsel probing the disclosure of a covert operative's identity met today with a federal grand jury here in Washington -- no indictments yet, but they could be in the offing.

CNN's Dana Bash is standing by at the White House.

But let's begin with our national correspondent, Bob Franken. He's outside the courthouse here in Washington. Bob, what exactly happened today?

BOB FRANKEN, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, we know that the case was discussed. We have been led to believe that. But there have been no public indictments released yet, if there are going to be any indictments.

The possibility exists that there was a vote for some secret indictments for a variety of reasons and that we're only awaiting an announcement. Of course, there's also the possibility there will be no indictments. The grand jury's term is supposed to run out Friday. The special prosecutor, as you know, could ask for a delay in ending this grand jury. He could even go to other grand juries.

Meanwhile, there's some people who are more nervous than others, probably, about all this, among them, the president's deputy chief of staff, the man who has been his chief political adviser throughout the career of President George W. Bush as a politician. Karl Rove left his house today, heading into the uncertainty of what the grand jury was going to do.

Similarly, at the home of Scooter Libby, who is the vice president's chief of staff, speculation that there might be some action taken against him. He has -- his name and Karl Rove's have come up repeatedly in the questioning by the special prosecutor, we're told, over whether they were the ones involved in leaking the name of Valerie Plame, identifying her as an undercover CIA operative. She's the wife of a harsh critic of the administration.

Right now, nobody is saying anything publicly, certainly not the special prosecutor, Patrick Fitzgerald. We're told he's in his office. And we're waiting to see what it is he plans to do next.


BLITZER: Bob Franken, we will check back with you. Thank you very much. And, only moments ago, over at the White House, the president was meeting with the prime minister of Macedonia. And reporters asked questions, one reporter asking the president a question.

Listen carefully to this exchange when the -- he was asked, the president, whether he was preparing his staff for possible indictments. Listen to what happened.


QUESTION: Sir, have you directed your staff to prepare at all for the indictments? (CROSSTALK)





BLITZER: The president declining to respond to that question, just as he declined to respond to a similar question yesterday when he met with the president of Kurdistan in the Oval Office.

The White House officials can only wait and wonder who among them might possibly be indicted in this leak probe.

Let's go over to the White House, our correspondent there, Dana Bash. It must be a pretty awful mood among of a lot of these officials, Dana.

DANA BASH, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: You know, Wolf, this is going to sound bizarre. But I talked to some officials who were actually disappointed that it sounds like the special prosecutor is not going to make announcements today.

This is a White House -- the people who work in the building behind me, basically, they're waiting to exhale. There is a lot of anxiety -- it's really palpable -- as to what will happen. Will anybody be -- here be indicted? They certainly have been thinking about this -- at least -- at least, it's been on the back burner -- for two years.

So what they're doing here -- you see there Karl Rove before the cameras just a little while ago, earlier today, making it clear that he is trying to do what others here insist, to a person, that they are doing as a coping mechanism -- that is to keep doing their work, do as much as they can that they can actually control. But earlier today, even the White House spokesman admitted they're paying attention.


SCOTT MCCLELLAN, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: We're continuing to focus on what the American people care most about. Those are the things that we can do something about.

We obviously continue to follow developments in the news. And I'm -- I'm sure, when the special prosecutor has more to say, he will do so at the appropriate time.


BASH: Now, Wolf, you mentioned that the president was asked a question and didn't answer. And, at that time, he was meeting with the prime minister of Macedonia. That is just one of many events that the White House had planned for the president today in what one aide called a strategy to sort of put him in a parallel universe from all of the talk, all of the chatter, that -- that event. He had events with congressional leaders, a bill-signing. He had a big speech on the economy.

And just before I came out here, they announced that he was actually meeting with the president of Ghana. So that is the strategy today, activity, activity, activity.

BLITZER: Projecting business as usual as best as they can. Thanks very much, Dana. We will get back with you as well.

Jack Cafferty has been off this week. He'll be back on Monday to weigh in on this and other stories.

But coming up next, skimping on health care. A Wal-Mart plan to cut costs raising some eyebrows. Are they putting the squeeze on employees? We have the memo. And we will have details.

Plus, racial football -- a U.S. Air Force Academy coach under fire for comments about black athletes and white athletes. We have that story.

And a little bit later, blown cover -- a look at the damage done by outing a CIA spy. That and much more all coming up in THE SITUATION ROOM.

Stay with us.


BLITZER: You're back in THE SITUATION ROOM. Welcome back.

The Bush administration is beset by problems right now. But the most immediate problem seems to be that CIA leak investigation and the indictments it may bring.

Joining us now from New York, our senior legal analyst, Jeffrey Toobin. Jeff, walk us through the process right now. The grand jury -- we're told the federal grand jury convened this morning for a few hours. The special counsel, Patrick Fitzgerald, he was going back and forth. What's going on, presumably, assuming this -- this grand jury is supposed to wrap up by Friday?

JEFFREY TOOBIN, CNN SENIOR LEGAL ANALYST: OK. Well, if there was a witness -- there could have been -- a witness was simply testifying, and the prosecutor was asking questions. Remember, there are no defense lawyers and no judges in a grand jury.

It could be as well that an indictment has been presented to them and the prosecutor is explaining the indictment, is saying what the elements of each charge is, is reminding the grand jurors of what the evidence they have heard in the case is and why they should vote for the indictment. It -- it -- it could be that the -- the grand jurors were asking questions. The grand jurors are allowed to participate. They could be asking questions, either about the future of the investigation or whether they -- they believe any indictment should be brought.

So, it could be a lot of different things. But it does seem that this grand jury, at least, will end its -- its business on Friday, unless Pat Fitzgerald asks for an extension.

BLITZER: I have been told by some of the lawyers who are very close to this investigation that that is very possible, that it would not necessarily be a big deal for the presiding judge, Judge Hogan, to grant a request to extend this grand jury, even though it's been in business for 18 months.

TOOBIN: You know, as -- as a legal matter, it's not a big deal. Grand juries are often extended. But this is a long investigation. This has been two years on essentially, a single case. And I don't think Pat Fitzgerald feels any pressure, being the professional that he is, to indict or not to indict. But I do think he feels a pressure, like professionals often do, is to wrap this thing up. This is not the world's most complicated case. It's complicated. Two years is a long time. And -- and, so, I -- I would be surprised, frankly, out of all the results, if an extension of the grand jury is -- is the result.

BLITZER: And -- and I have also been told -- and you can elaborate on this -- that, since this is -- if -- if there is a crime, it would be a white-collar crime. It almost certainly would not be a sealed -- a sealed -- indictment. It would be filed with the clerk. The judge would put it on the docket. It would become public knowledge within 24 hours, unless the prosecutor decides to announce it even more speedily.

TOOBIN: That -- that seems right to me. The reason prosecutors file a sealed indictment, which means a secret indictment, is that they don't want the bad guys to find out about it and -- and thus, flee or assault the witnesses, or -- or do something that could compromise the investigation.

In a white-collar case, where all the known suspects are virtual public figures or big public figures, no one thinks anyone's going to flee. So, I think a sealed indictment here would be very surprising.

BLITZER: And under normal circumstances -- and correct me if I'm wrong -- the prosecutor would give a heads-up to the defense attorneys, that they -- he would either tell them about the indictment, give them the indictment, or tell them it's coming before a public announcement were made.

TOOBIN: That's usually the case, not always. It's usually the -- the -- the source of some negotiation between the prosecutor and the defense lawyer.

In a case like this, the -- the -- the defense lawyers have been in a lot of touch with the prosecutors. And if a prosecutor -- if a defense lawyer said, look, give me a heads-up if you're going to indict my client, that's almost always honored. But it has to be requested by the defense attorney. It doesn't happen as a matter -- as a matter of course.

BLITZER: All right. Let's shift gears to another important legal story happening in Washington.

Harriet Miers, the Supreme Court nominee, she got a second chance to redo that questionnaire, which the first -- first one, she got an F by a lot of the members, Democrats and Republicans. The second questionnaire being made available to the Senate Judiciary Committee now. What's going on, according to your analysis?

TOOBIN: Well, we are told that this -- this questionnaire is going to be turned in around 7:00 tonight. And the key issue that the senators, Senator Specter and Senator Leahy of the Judiciary Committee, raised was, we want to know more about what you have done as White House counsel. What kind of constitutional opinions did you render?

Now, on Monday, President Bush said, there's a red line that we're not crossing, which is the advice that he gets from his White House counsel. He doesn't want to disclose that sort of attorney/client information. That conflict between what the Senate wants and what the White House wants to give could be another thing that imperils this already troubled nomination.

And we should know what kind of information is disclosed by some time tonight.

BLITZER: All right. We will be reading it very, very carefully. And I'm sure you will be reading it more carefully than most of our viewers. Thanks, Jeff, very much.


BLITZER: And we will have much more coming up here in THE SITUATION ROOM on the CIA leak investigation. That's coming up. Also, we will have some live updates from the courthouse, we will hear about the fallout over at the CIA from the outing of one of its secret operatives.

Still to come right now, cutting down on health care costs -- a Wal-Mart memo that puts the squeeze on employees. We have the memo.

Plus, racial football? An Air Force Academy coach shares his theories on black athletes. We will find out why he may now be in some hot water.

Stay with us.


BLITZER: Our Zain Verjee is on assignment all of this week, filling in on AMERICAN MORNING. That's in the morning here on CNN.

But Andrea Koppel is here at the CNN Center in Atlanta with a closer look at some other stories making news. Welcome back, Andrea.


Lebanon's top prosecutor has filed charges against two brothers in connection with the assassination of Former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafik Hariri. Both were already in custody. The two are members of a pro-Syrian Islamic fundamentalist group and were prominently mentioned in a recently released U.N. probe into the killing. That report suggests the involvement of both Syrian and Lebanese officials.

You can add Croatia to the ever-growing list of European countries that have confirmed cases of bird flu. The European Union said the deadly strain of bird flu was found in dead swans in Croatia. That country has now stopped exporting its live poultry. And Croatia also says that they have disinfected and quarantined the area near where the dead swans were found. They have also killed all birds that were nearby.

Now, Rumania, Turkey, and Russia have also recently confirmed cases of bird flu.

And on the French-governed island of Reunion, preliminary tests indicate three new cases of the more serious version of this, the avian flu, in humans. The French health minister reports three residents of the Indian Ocean island contracted symptoms and were tested after vacationing in Thailand. Now, according to the World Health Organization, there have been 121 cases of humans contracting the virus worldwide. And, Wolf, 62 of those were fatal.

An extremely rare gull sighting is drawing bird watchers to the shores of Lake Champlain in Vermont. The black-tailed gull is normally found along the coasts of Japan and way over the other side of the world in Northwest China. Naturalists say the bird may have ended up in Vermont after being thrown off course in a storm or perhaps even hitching a ride on a ship.

You know, it -- it sounds funny, Wolf, when people think about that, but it's actually extremely serious. And it's a really troubling development, the fact that you have got these birds that can fly all over the world and spread bird flu.

BLITZER: And one of great fears is, it could arrive here. So far, it hasn't. Let's hope it doesn't.

KOPPEL: That's right.

BLITZER: Thanks very much, Andrea Koppel. We will get back with you shortly.

The U.S. economy -- President Bush says it is resilient. He made the comments to the Washington Economic Club earlier today.

Our Ali Velshi is joining us now, a little fact-check. How resilient is the economy, Ali?

ALI VELSHI, CNN ANCHOR: Well, you know, Wolf, this one of those instances where I -- I don't want to be -- be greedy, but I need the wall. I need a wall to give you a sense of -- of -- of the U.S. economy, because I don't know how much that wall costs, but I -- I have to express it there. Thank you. Let me...

BLITZER: All right, I am moving away.

VELSHI: Take a look at this.

BLITZER: I am moving away.

VELSHI: Take a look at this, all right?

This is -- this is $11 trillion, 750 -- let's -- we have got to straighten that out -- $750 billion. That's the size of the U.S. economy. That's U.S. GDP.

Now, U.S. GDP, this is the value of all economic transactions in the United States. That is one-fifth of all money exchanged in the entire world, is -- is the U.S. gross domestic product. That's how we measure the economy.

Now, the reason this is important is because two-thirds of this economy, two-thirds of everything that happens in this country, when it comes to money, whether it's taxes, or health care, or things you buy, or travel, or investments, is people, is consumers buying things. The American consumer is responsible for two-thirds of this economy, which means the American consumer has got to believe that this is a strong and healthy economy.

And that's part of what the president was out to do today. It's been a -- a series of speeches he's been giving. This was to the Washington Economic Club. He covered 10 or 15 different topics. It was wide-ranging. But part of the -- the impression one, I guess, was to get from that speech is that the economy's in good shape. We have got some -- some crosswinds. There are some things that could challenge it. But, fundamentally, job creation has been strong. Inflation has been kept under wraps.

The president used it as -- used it as an opportunity to talk again about conservation, about more refineries needed, about drilling in the Arctic natural wildlife preserve. But what -- what it was, the message was that things are OK in -- under the economy.

The -- the issue, Wolf, as we have discussed before, is that that's not borne out by what we hear from Americans. The -- the survey of consumer confidence that we saw last week indicates that consumer confidence is at its lowest level in two years. We have had more job losses than we have had in two years. That of course, is largely due to Hurricane Katrina.

But right now, we have got a mixed economy -- some people going as far as to say that these high energy prices we're facing could push us into a recession, because eight of the nine previous recessions in this country were -- were preceded by energy spikes. So the president out there, trying to get the message out that the economy is stable. This follows on the appointment of Ben Bernanke as the next Fed Reserve chair. We're hearing that those nomination hearings -- those confirmation hearings could be happening as early as November, Wolf.

So, that's where we kind of stand with the economy.

BLITZER: All right, another half-an-hour to go before the markets close.

VELSHI: Thank...

BLITZER: We will see how that is...


VELSHI: Thank -- thank you -- thank you for lending me the wall.

BLITZER: The wall is a nice wall, isn't it?

VELSHI: I like it.



BLITZER: ... thanks very much.

Just ahead, it's a controversial proposition. Can black football players run faster than white ones? One football coach with the United States Air Force Academy has given his opinion on the matter. Now he's run up a flurry of criticism.

And, in parts of South Florida, snaky lines of cars waiting for gas. Many are also waiting for food and water two days after Hurricane Wilma. We will tell you about the situation there.

Stay with us.


BLITZER: Welcome back. The United States Air Force Academy has already caught flak for aggressive evangelical work on campus. Now, the coach of its football team is under fire for some controversial comments about race.

CNN's Brian Todd is joining us now live. He's got the details. Brian?

BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, Fisher DeBerry has a very long and successful track record at the Air Force Academy. He was also involved in that controversy you just mentioned over religious intolerance at the school. And with that issue and now his comments about African-American athletes, he's put the school on the defensive.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE) TODD (voice-over): Faced with the possibility of a second consecutive losing season, frustrated by a drubbing from Texas Christian University on Saturday, Air Force football coach Fisher DeBerry was quoted as saying the loss was due in part to his opponent having more African-American players who could run well. Here's what he said when asked later to elaborate.

FISHER DEBERRY, AIR FORCE ACADEMY FOOTBALL COACH: African- American kids can run very, very well. That doesn't mean that Caucasian kids and other descents can't run, but it's very obvious to me that they run extremely well. I just want to recruit speed. We need to find speed, as much as anything. But the black athlete seems to have, you know, statistically, program, program, program, you know, seems to have an edge as far as the speed is concerned.

TODD: Contacted by CNN, Air Force Academy officials have said they would issue a statement on DeBerry's remarks, but no statement has been issued yet. They also said Coach DeBerry was not doing any more media interviews on this story.

We asked sports sociologist Richard Zamoff of George Washington University if he could make any interpretation other than racial stereotyping.

RICHARD ZAMOFF, GEORGE WASHINGTON UNIVERSITY: Well, I think it borders on racism. It certainly was an insensitive comment. I would put it in sort of historical perspective. He's certainly not the first coach and certainly not the first commentator to make stereotypical, insensitive, racist comments about the connection between African- Americans and sport.

TODD: In more than 20 years at Air Force, Fisher DeBerry has been hugely successful, 17 winning seasons, 12 bowl victories. With that, he's said to have acquired enormous power at the academy. One former player told CNN that DeBerry, a civilian, has the nickname Five Star.

The coach is also an evangelical Christian who at one time hung a banner inside the locker room saying, in part, "I am a member of team Jesus Christ." At the school's request, he took down that banner and the academy says he no longer preaches to his players as he once did.


TODD: This all comes on the heels of an internal investigation that began late last year into charges of religious intolerance at the Air Force Academy. Non-Christian cadets had complained that Christians there got preferential treatment.

Earlier this year, guidelines were issued on religious tolerance, and the academy launched its own program to teach cadets and staff about respect. That resulted in an overhaul of the academy's leadership as did an earlier scandal and new policies put in place.


BLITZER: Any indication, Brian -- I know you've read into this -- how the players themselves may be reacting at the U.S. Air Force Academy?

TODD: No indication right now. They are very closed-mouthed about this scandal. The academy has said that it will hold a teleconference, some kind of news conference, they hope, later today. And we hope to get more clarification on Coach DeBerry's comments at that time.

BLITZER: Brian, thank you very much. We'll check back with you on that.

Still ahead, it's been two days since Hurricane Wilma whipped through Florida. How are the residents of the Sunshine State faring? More than three million of them are still without power. We'll look at a survey of the damage.

And the maker of everyone's best friend, the BlackBerry, lost a high court appeal today. What will it mean for BlackBerry users? Stay with us.


BLITZER: Here's a look at some of the hot shots coming in from our friends over at the Associated Press, pictures likely to be in your hometown newspaper tomorrow.

In Davie, Florida, no gas. That's the sign outside many stations on the southern part of the state. The owner of this one says she actually does have gas, but no electricity to pump the fuel.

In Pikapekee (ph), Florida, sitting with the dogs. An 11-year-old Yanni (ph) and 10-year-old Morgan (ph) hold on to their pets outside their flooded homes as crews work in the background to restore power.

In Bosnia, a newly discovered mass grave. A boy and his grandmother stand outside the site containing bodies of more than 100 people. Many of them are believed to be Muslims from Srebrenica.

And in Havana, Cuba, ladies in white. The group of mothers and wives are sharing the EU's top Cuban rights prize. They've held peaceful demonstrations every Sunday for the past two years to protest the detention of political dissidents in Cuba.

And that's today's hot shots, pictures worth a thousand words, from our friends over at the Associated Press.

Take a look at this. We're getting some live pictures in -- over Opa Locka, Florida. In the southern part of the state, this helicopter and another one carrying the secretary of Homeland Security, Michael Chertoff, and his delegation, his party. They're down there inspecting the damage resulting -- that resulted from Hurricane Wilma. He's going to be speaking to reporters fairly soon. We'll monitor what he's saying.

There have been serious problems over the past two days. The enormity of Wilma in Miami-Dade, Broward, Palm Beach County, caught a lot of people by surprise. There are very long lines, very long lines for gasoline, for food, for water, for ice. And he's going to answer questions on what's going on. You see that microphone right now. The U.S. Coast Guard base there at Opa Locka in Miami-Dade County. We'll go there live once the secretary starts speaking.

Other news we're following. It's a private document that probably wasn't meant for public eyes. In an internal memo, Wal-Mart suggests ways to cut employee benefit costs. But some of the suggestions are stirring up lots of criticism.

CNN's Mary Snow is joining us with details on the document. Mary, what's happening?

MARY SNOW, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Wolf, this was supposed to be a private document. Now Wal-Mart is coming under the microscope for changes it's proposing to health care benefits for its 1.2 million workers. Now, those changes were outlined in an internal memo that was obtained about a group called Wal-Mart Watch. It's highly critical of Wal-Mart, saying its benefits and wages are too low.

Now, Wal-Mart confirms the memo is authentic, that it's an early draft of a proposal to the board of directors. The document details ways to cut down on spending for health care, as it tries to contain damage to its reputation. What's gaining attention is the fact that, while it's trying to curb spending, the company acknowledges in the memo that currently, 46 percent of workers' children in the company have no insurance or are on Medicaid. It also states the need that it could cut costs by having a healthier workforce. It points out that its workers are getting sicker than the national population, particularly in obesity-related diseases. And one suggestion it makes to deal with that is to attract a healthier workplace and design all jobs to include some physical activity. It cites as an example that cashiers could do some cart gathering.

Now, Wal-Mart released a statement saying it has pretty good benefits to begin with and says its board is taking a particularly close look at its health benefits, saying every business in America is facing the harsh reality of skyrocketing health care costs. They are having conversations in their boardrooms just like we are having in ours.

The one group taking note of Wal-Mart's suggestions is Family USA, a health care consumer advocacy group. It says Wal-Mart's policies could spell changes for workers who have nothing to do with the company.


RON POLLACK, EX. DIRECT, FAMILIES USA: My biggest concern is that, since Wal-Mart is such a large company, it might induce other companies that are doing the right thing and are providing much more generous coverage to, you know, have a race to the bottom. And that's going to be harmful to all workers across the country.


SNOW: Just one of the groups that is taking aim at Wal-Mart. Now the company is expected to take up these proposals at a board meeting coming up in November -- Wolf.

BLITZER: All right. Mary Snow, reporting for us from here in Washington. Thank you, Mary.

Let's get a little bit more on this Wal-Mart memo. Our Internet reporter Abbi Tatton is checking the situation online. What are you picking up, Abbi?

ABBI TATTON, CNN INTERNET CORRESPONDENT: Well, Wolf, that once- private memo is now very easily available online., this is the official site -- news site of Wal-Mart, has posted a later version of it at its site.

And if you look, you can see the concerns about Wal-Mart's -- that Wal-Mart has about its public reputation. It cites specifically that group Wal-Mart Watch that you can find at They have the earlier draft version of the memo there that is downloadable at that site.

This is a group that was started earlier this year with funding from some union money, also from non-profits and private individuals, to highlight to the public what it perceives are the problems with Wal-Mart. And they have an online team aggressively putting this information out there. There's online petitions and also downloadable information, for example, about possible sermon topics about this.

Wal-Mart, for its part, has been stepping up its online operations as well. They recently started a blog after the Hurricane Katrina. It's called "Stories of Hope," highlighting what its workers have been doing in the wake of the hurricanes. Is it all stories of hope. When we asked them what would happen if a story that wasn't so hopeful was submitted to the blog, they said, in the two months of doing this blog, they still haven't received one -- Wolf.

BLITZER: All right, Abbi, thank you very much.

Up next, a deadly suicide bombing in Israel. The Islamic Jihad is claiming responsibility. We'll go there live.

And much more on the CIA leak. Do Democrats on Capitol Hill see all of this as a golden opportunity?



BLITZER: Welcome back. Look at this. We're getting some pictures, live pictures, coming in from notice from the Port of Miami right now. The Carnival ship Imagination now returning from its cruise, coming back to Miami. All those tourists, all those people on the cruise ship are going to disembark. They're going to get off the cruise ship and go about their ways, wherever they're going. But one life -- one sign, at least parts of Miami returning to some semblance of normality.

Andrea Koppel is joining us once again from the CNN Center in Atlanta with a closer look at other stories making news. Hi, Andrea. KOPPEL: Hi there, Wolf.

In South Korea, we've got some really fascinating pictures to show you here. There's some 4,000 workers in Seoul who took to the streets in protest. They are demanding the reinstatement of 120 short- term workers. And these workers lost their jobs after units of the company Hyundai -- make all those cars -- allegedly shut down earlier this year.

Look at that. I mean, there were hundreds and hundreds of people out there. Protesters were throwing rocks, gas bombs. And, not surprisingly, they clashed with police. You can see what they're doing there to buses. There were about 100 people who were hurt in that.

Now, wildlife officials and volunteers are struggling to keep a handful of whales afloat. We told you about this story yesterday. After three pods beached themselves in southern Australia, about 70 of the whales were found dead just this morning after coming ashore on a remote beach overnight. This after some 60 whales from two earlier groups had died in the same area just yesterday. And Wolf, it is not known why the whales are stranding themselves.

Earthquake victims in the remote Kaladaka valley of Pakistani- controlled Kashmir are finally receiving their first major shipment of United Nations aid. Boats loaded with food and all kinds of supplies began making deliveries in that very hard hit region yesterday. Until then, logistical challenges had kept all but a small trickle of aid from reaching the valley. It's way up there in the mountains. And, officials says they're only now beginning to understand the scope of the devastation in that area.

Many residents of South Florida are still without basic necessities. Two days after Hurricane Wilma tore across the state. More than two and a half million homes and businesses are still without electricity. And utility officials say that some customers may not be back online for three weeks. An insurance industry estimate puts the damage to insured property alone at $6 to $10 billion, Wolf.

BLITZER: Getting back to those stranded whales, there's some suggestion, I've heard that sonar signals from ships could be causing those whales to do what they're doing. What are you learning about that?

KOPPEL: You know, I had that same question. I had seen a story about this years ago. And in fact, I went on to the ScienceDaily Web site -- it's not just whales, it's also dolphins. And, I found out that the Royal Australian Navy said that they had had a couple of ships in that exact same area beginning on Tuesday until Wednesday. Apparently, they were looking for a historic Dutch vessel that was somewhere in that area.

Now the Royal Navy, the Australian Royal Navy is saying that it didn't, that their sonar was not what caused the whales to beach themselves. They say that the whales had begun to beach themselves before their ship arrived. But is it one of the theories out there, Wolf. BLITZER: All right, Andrea, thank you very much. We're going to get back to Andrea soon.

Another important story we're following out of the Middle East. A suicide bomber blew himself up today in a crowded marketplace in northern Israel. At least five people were killed, 21 other people were wounded. The Islamic Jihad organization is claiming responsibility.

Let's go live to CNN's Guy Raz, he's joining us from the coastal town of Hadera. What exactly happened, Guy?

GUY RAZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, sadly, Israeli recovery and rescue teams are experts now in cleaning up the aftermath of the suicide bombings -- the debris, blood-stained streets. And just about six hours ago, a suicide bomber entered a marketplace just behind me here in Hadera and detonated his vest, killing, as you say, five people, and injuring -- we understand now, at least 36 others.

Now as you say, the militant Islamic group, Palestinian group, Islamic Jihad, has taken responsibility for that attack, claiming it was carried out in retaliation for the death of one of its members killed in a shoot-out with Israeli soldiers on Monday in the West Bank town of Tul Karm.

Now, the Palestinian Authority has condemned this attack. But, Israeli government officials are calling on the authority to confront these groups, to disarm them and to do more to make sure that these kinds of attacks are not carried out in the future.


BLITZER: Guy Raz, reporting from Hadera in northern Israel. Guy, thank you very much.

This footnote, a fiery old refrain set in a chilling new warning today from Iran. Addressing thousands at a so-called World Without Zionism conference -- the president, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, echoed the words of Iran's late Ayatollah Khomeini when he called for Israel to be, quote, "wiped from the map." The new leader said a series of attacks will destroy the Jewish state and he blasted Muslim nations that recognize Israel.

Still ahead, does President Bush have an ethics problem? We're tracking the CIA leak investigation, the threat of an indictment or more and public opinion, up next.

A thumbs down, at least for now, for BlackBerry. Could a court ruling threaten e-mails at your fingertips?

Stay with us.


BLITZER: It's almost time for the markets to close and the closing bell. That means it's time for our Ali Velshi, who's got that and more. Ali?

VELSHI: You know, earlier I asked you if I could borrow the wall? If this next story I'm talking about comes to pass, I'm going to need rehab.

This is all about John Roberts. Now, we've been talking about Harriet Miers and the Supreme Court. John Roberts, in his duties on the Supreme Court today, went and denied a motion by Research in Motion.

Now, Research in Motion is the maker of the BlackBerry. And, the motion was to stay a ruling, this is all very complicated. But, somebody says that Research in Motion has used their technology and they've tried to get them to stop providing BlackBerry service in the United States.

RIM said we want no part of this. They asked The Supreme Court to stay that. John Roberts says, forget it, this thing is going back to court.

And what the company that's suing RIM, Research in Motion, wants to do, is shut down BlackBerry service in the United States. So, if they get their way, and this is two victories in a row for them, this thing is going to be a paper weight pretty soon. John Roberts obviously likes to write as opposed to BlackBerries.

BLITZER: So, is it possible, Ali, is that what you're saying, that's I'm going to lose my BlackBerry service?

VELSHI: I'm telling you, I'm telling you -- we're going to have to like, do -- I don't know what we did in the old days, whether we phoned each other. I don't know what it is.

BLITZER: We used to have beepers, if you remember.

VELSHI: You know, the whole world is changing. You know what else is changing, Wolf?

The fact that it's earnings season. Anheuser-Busch, the country's biggest brewer coming in with its quarterly results, 24 percent drop in profits. Now, some of it's got to do with other complicated things. But, one of the main things, this is a trend that's been going on for a long time. People are drinking less beer. They're going for these fancy drinks, these mixed drinks and wine and all sorts of stuff. Beer drinkers are suffering. So, BlackBerry users and beer drinkers.

Now, there's one piece of good news, here. And that is that $73 million worth of tax refunds in the 2004 calendar year have not been claimed -- of 2003-2004 have not been claimed. The IRS has a Web site called wheresmyrefund. Jacki, you got that?


VELSHI: You go to that site and you can hit on the, where's my refund? SCHECHNER: Yes, it says, where's my refund. What's interesting, Ali, is that you need to have your social security number, your filing status and then the amount of your refund exactly as it is on your refund itself. You need to know how much exactly you're owed.

VELSHI: I'm lucky to know when the tax deadline is.

SCHECHNER: I'm with you on that one, absolutely.

VELSHI: Seventy-three million bucks, the average amount owed to taxpayers is $871. Look, I've got no business giving anyone tax advice. But, please, if you're entitled to a refund, make sure you get it back.

Wolf, let's take a look at how markets are doing today.


BLITZER: Thanks, Ali. It's 4:00 p.m. in Washington and you're in THE SITUATION ROOM, where news pictures and information from around the world are arriving all the time.