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PAULA ZAHN NOW
Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon on Life Support; What Caused West Virginia Mining Accident?; Interview With West Virginia Governor Joe Manchin; Unpatriotic Games in Colorado; Creative Ways To Get Revenge For Life's Little Annoyances
Aired January 5, 2006 - 20:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
PAULA ZAHN, CNN ANCHOR: And good evening, everyone. Really appreciate your being with us.
Tonight, as the only survivor of a mine disaster clings to life, a startling possibility -- a final message to loved ones from one of the mine victims.
ZAHN (voice-over): The search for answers -- could words written in the final hours of a miner's life help solve a mystery of a mine disaster? And what about the lone survivor still in a coma?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We don't know what happened. And the only person who does know what happened can't talk, can't relate to us in any way.
ZAHN: Tonight, hope, faith and the search for facts in West Virginia.
Shock and awe -- grief for a soldier who became part of the community.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: My husband was killed over in Iraq.
ZAHN: Then outrage and fury over the truth.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I was sickened. It felt like somebody in my family had died.
ZAHN: Why would a Colorado town turn against a war hero?
And Web cam rescue. She owes her life to the tiny camera on her computer and her eagle-eyed children 7,000 miles away.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Hello.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Hi, we have kind of a weird thing here. The lady that called was calling from Norway.
ZAHN: An amazing rescue that could only happen in our wired world.
(END VIDEOTAPE) ZAHN: Tonight, we are also keeping a close watch on the status of Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon, in critical condition and on life support after a major stroke and brain surgery.
We're going to get to that in a little bit.
But we start with the West Virginia mining disaster. The lone survivor is clinging to life tonight, and we have more news on his condition in a moment. I will also be speaking with the governor of West Virginia, Joe Manchin.
First, though, what we're beginning to learn about what caused the tragedy that took the lives of a dozen men at the Sago Mine.
Rusty Dornin has been working on this all day long. She has just filed this report.
RUSTY DORNIN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): There were plenty of safety violations here. But none were serious enough to shut down the Sago Mine.
Now investigators on site will look at every detail of what happened before and after the explosion Monday. What caused it? One thing that will be studied are these series of lightning strikes in the area around the mine that morning. According to a company that tracks lightning strikes in the U.S. for the federal government, there were three strikes within a few miles of the mine, close enough and strong enough, they say, to have ignited the explosion.
NICK DEMETRIADES, METEOROLOGIST, VAISALA INC.: The investigators will be able to figure out whether or not lightning really played a role. But they were at about the right time and about the right location, and with one of them being four to five times the average magnitude of a cloud-to-ground lightning strike, it's definitely a cause for concern.
DORNIN: Also under the magnifying glass will be the rescue efforts. Could teams have gone in sooner? Was it done efficiently, and how did the miscommunication that caused so much agony really happen?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Tell us our families are coming out alive.
DORNIN: The autopsies of the 12 trapped miners are under way. A spokesman for the medical examiner's office told CNN they plan to release the bodies to the families by Friday afternoon.
Autopsy results will be only released to the families, until results of the official investigation are released.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: How is he doing?
CORRINA PERRY, FATHER SURVIVED MINE EXPLOSION: e's holding his own. DORNIN: Corrina Perry has been on an emotional roller coaster this week. Her father, Roger, survived the blast, but his best friend and Corrina's uncle Marty Bennett died.
PERRY: This is my dad, and then this is Marty here.
DORNIN: A man with a great sense of humor, he took precious care of his wife, Judy (ph), who suffers from emphysema. But there was never a question about his other love.
PERRY: He just enjoyed it. He enjoyed the mines. I mean, that was -- he said -- like he said, that was -- that was his life, and it's the only thing he really -- he knew -- he knew how to do.
DORNIN (on camera): Even though he knew it was very dangerous?
PERRY: Uh-huh. Yes. And, I mean, other than that, he loved doing family things, family gatherings, and he always spent time with his mother and father, too.
DORNIN (voice-over): In the nearby town of Philippi, a memorial is going up, a tribute to the men who died, men who have left behind fond memories, as well as angry questions.
DORNIN: That anger still seems to be focused more on the miscommunication following the explosion. Most of the families and the people we have talked to in the community are really hoping that the company will not be to blame for this accident and that it turns out to be a freak of nature, because this mine is really the backbone and the life's blood of this community -- Paula.
ZAHN: Rusty Dornin, thanks so much for that update.
And this is West Virginia's deadliest mining accident since 1968, when 78 men died in an explosion. And one of the victims of that disaster was the uncle of my next guest, West Virginia Governor Joe Manchin.
Thank you very much for joining us tonight, Governor.
GOV. JOE MANCHIN (D), WEST VIRGINIA: Thank you, Paula, for having me.
ZAHN: Our -- our pleasure.
You have heard the anger from the families...
ZAHN: ... seen the outrage, seen the frustration. In your judgment, what is the most troubling question that has to be answered by this investigation?
MANCHIN: Paula, first, let me just say, from the families' standpoint, I feel the anger.
I was there in 1968. And it's -- it's a human, natural direction to go. I wanted answers. I was mad. Everything goes through your mind. And I can only tell you that -- that myself and my entire administration, we're in the support mode to support every one of the families of the -- of the victims. And, also, most importantly, right now, is supporting the survivor, Randal and his family, Anna and them.
With that being said, you look at the whole turn of events. We really don't know. And to start jumping and blaming and -- I said, this is not -- not a time to blame. I can only tell you, I was present for the -- about 4:00 to 5:00, I think. I arrived on Monday, and I was present until the entire end.
And I saw people committed, professional, dedicated, committed people. They were willing to sacrifice their safety and really their own life to save somebody else's. Everyone tried and did everything they could that I could see and judge from that.
ZAHN: Sure. There was a tremendous...
MANCHIN: With that, when you look back, we're going to have a full investigation.
That investigation will tell us what caused this horrible, horrible accident. And is there some things we can do, anything at all, that will prevent it from ever happening? My goal in West Virginia is to never have another mine accident or fatality. And we are going to work towards that.
ZAHN: So, you're confident...
MANCHIN: Last year was our safest year in years.
ZAHN: So, you're confident this...
MANCHIN: But, with that, one fatality is too much.
ZAHN: You're confident this investigation then will get all of those answers?
MANCHIN: Almost -- yes, when you have -- you will have the federal and state working on this and they will leave no stone unturned, Paula, to find the cause. And, once you find the cause, you can find out, was it something that was a human error?
Was it something that could have been prevented, or was it something that could not have been? We really don't know. But we will be able to get to the bottom of that. And, also, I'm asking for an investigation in the communications, because I saw the human suffering also that comes from communication that has gone awry. No matter whose fault it might have been, it was not intentional.
People were grabbing ahold of everything. Myself, I got caught up in the euphoria. I was in the church with the families most of the time. When that came across, I was there also. And I was asking our people. I said, do we have any confirmation on this or whatever? But I thought maybe the news was of such -- of such hope and such revelation that they didn't go through the normal channel and just they got -- came another channel.
And people got caught up. But there was no intentions of doing anything to harm anybody.
MANCHIN: They wanted to help them.
ZAHN: But, Governor, for three hours or so, these families were under the mistaken belief that, in fact, their loved ones were alive.
And we understand, about 20 minutes after the bells started pealing in this church, that you had been given some kind of indication that might not be the case.
MANCHIN: Paula, it was about...
ZAHN: Do you think should have been your responsibility at that point to at least address that concern to some of these family members to not build false hope?
MANCHIN: Oh, Paula, hindsight, you know, there are so many things that -- that you could have done, I'm sure, differently.
Let me just explain the events as I saw them. It was really about 45 minutes. And, let me tell you, afterwards, I came from the church, went up to the hill, because we had had no confirmation. And I also encountered -- everyone was excited. And I'm thinking, my goodness, it must be factual. It's true, then.
And we're all caught up in this euphoric state. From that standpoint, then, I was, you know, in another room. You had the command room, where the -- people were talking to the rescuers. And that's a professional group, and let them -- you know, we leave them alone, let them do their job. And then word would come from there.
I was prepared. Someone said, Governor, would you want to go greet the miners as they came out? And I says, absolutely. So, I'm putting on my -- all my mining gear to go down and meet them and shake them and tell them that we're there with them; we are going to get them to the hospital, get medical attention, whatever they need. So, we were prepared for all that.
ZAHN: But at what point -- at what point did -- did you have any idea that maybe the news wasn't going to be good coming out of it?
MANCHIN: Well, about 45 minutes, I'm thinking -- and I can't tell you, because time was just -- I mean, at that time, it was going in a -- in a whirlwind.
In about -- in a 45-minute arena or something of that sort, someone said, Governor, there might be some -- some difficulties on this. There might be some inaccuracies. And I said, what is it? And they said, we don't think there's 12 alive. We are not sure, one, two. We are not -- I says, can you -- anybody give me an actual figure? They were working on that, because they were changing crews and shifts and people going back and this and that.
And,you know, the track was out. So, people had to walk in a lot of the way, once they got back to what we call two left. And that took time. So, by the time things were confirmed -- and I would just say the officials -- the officials that were giving the account and giving the updates to the -- to the -- to the people, to the families, I would just only say that they were wanting to be absolutely certain that they had accurate.
And, hindsight, that could have been done differently. I'm sure everyone would tell you that.
MANCHIN: They could have down and says, listen, that's not factual. Please, don't take that. We're not sure yet. Hold still.
Everyone would have been up and down, deflated. Now, let me go through some events. At 10:00 that morning...
ZAHN: well, unfortunately, Governor, we have just got about 10 -- 10 seconds left, because we're running into a commercial wall here.
Well, let me say this real quick, Paula. The people in West Virginia, are the proudest, greatest, hardest-working people you have ever met. They are committed to their family, the miners are. They work for their families, their state. And they are proud to provide the energy for the United States of America. These are good people.
And I just don't want the light to be shed in the wrong direction. These people work hard. They're good people. We support them. And we're in a support mode to make sure we do whatever we can for the family of the deceased, to make sure their life is as normal as possible that we can help them, and also to Randal and his family.
ZAHN: And we will be updating his condition in just a moment.
We really appreciate your time....
MANCHIN: Thank you.
ZAHN: ... West Virginia Governor Joe Manchin.
MANCHIN: Thank you. And thank...
ZAHN: And love to have you back as...
MANCHIN: Thank you for the prayers for the family.
ZAHN: That is our distinct pleasure. Look forward to having you come back as the investigation moves on.
We just talked with the governor about the survivor, the lone survivor, the one person who might be able some day to tell us what happened Monday morning, when an explosion ripped through the Sago Mine.
But, unfortunately, Randy McCloy tonight is still critically ill in a coma. And just hours ago, he arrived at a hospital in Pittsburgh after being moved 80 miles, from Morgantown, West Virginia.
And Chris Huntington joins me now from Pittsburgh with the very -- very latest.
What are the doctors telling you, Chris?
CHRIS HUNTINGTON, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Paula, they brought Randy McCloy here to Allegheny General Hospital in Pittsburgh, so that he can be treated with pressurized oxygen in what is called a hyperbaric chamber.
This is something that, ordinarily, you might have heard of treating people with the bends from diving. What they needed was a chamber big enough to accommodate McCloy, but also the fact that he's on a respirator, a mechanical breathing assistance device. So, this is a specialized chamber. It's a big one.
The doctors in West Virginia said they had considered this treatment earlier, but they needed to get McCloy stable enough to move. They had been -- he has shown good recovery in some of his vital signs. His heart, lung, liver and kidney function was to a point, Paula, where they felt they could move him.
We're told by doctors here at Allegheny General that McCloy is undergoing his first treatment, a 90-minute treatment in the pressurized oxygen chamber. He will, apparently, undergo two of these treatments a day. The -- the hope is that forcing more oxygen into Randy McCloy will help him, ultimately, recover full brain function -- Paula.
ZAHN: Of course, that's what his family and everybody else is praying for.
Chris Huntington, thank you so much for that.
To get more now on some of the challenges doctors face in trying to treat Mr. McCloy this way, let's turn to our senior medical correspondent, Dr. Sanjay Gupta.
So, Doctor, how serious is this young man's condition tonight?
DR. SANJAY GUPTA, CNN SENIOR MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: I think pretty serious, Paula.
I mean, if you look at all the different ways that you measure something like this, the different organ systems, his kidneys, his liver, his lungs, and now you are talking about his brain as well, all of these have had some negative effect on him over the last couple of days.
And while he may be more stable, stable enough to transfer to another hospital, the fact that, you know, he's now getting hyperbaric oxygen for the first time, that's concerning. Some -- some doctors would say, some doctors that I have spoken to would say it's maybe too late for the hyperbaric oxygen to actually help in terms of his brain function.
We won't know, obviously, for a few days, but it is very concerning -- Paula.
ZAHN: And when we talk about this brain damage, is there any way of knowing, based on what doctors have told us, if this kind of damage is reversible through this kind of treatment?
GUPTA: Well, the right answer is, it's a little bit early. We should know more in a couple of days, I would say.
But here's what we do know. He did not appear to have a significant blast injury from the explosion to his brain, but he does appear to have some signs at least of an early stroke on his MRI scan, which is a more sophisticated brain scan. And that's not encouraging at all.
Paula, what happens in the situation of carbon monoxide is, the carbon monoxide essentially makes it impossible for lots of oxygenated blood to get to the brain. So, what you are sort of left with is almost a stroke of your entire brain. And that's exactly the situation you don't want to be in.
The hyperbaric chamber that Chris was just talking about may force some more oxygen up to his brain. The question is, is it enough and is it soon enough as well, Paula?
ZAHN: And exactly how does this treatment work? We're looking at a very odd looking instrument, which is the chamber. Explain to us what exactly is done.
GUPTA: There's two ways to treat carbon monoxide poisoning.
One is to get just 100 percent oxygen, literally put a mask on or a breathing tube in and give 100 percent oxygen. The other way to do is to go into a chamber like this. You are actually taking that oxygen and putting it under pressure. So, you are sort of forcing it into the body. You're forcing it into the blood, and you're forcing the carbon monoxide that still may be lingering in the blood out.
So, that's the purpose of a chamber like this. As Chris mentioned, it's the same thing that is used to treat the bends. In that case, the problem is nitrogen. In this case, the problem is carbon monoxide. The whole point is, get the carbon monoxide out, get more oxygen in.
ZAHN: Dr. Sanjay Gupta, our expert on medical matters, a practicing neurosurgeon himself, we don't necessarily want to have to rely on you on these kinds of stories, when we're talking, in the case of Ariel Sharon and his -- his brain situation, and this young man's situation.
Sanjay, thanks so much.
For the first time, one of the men who was in the coal mine on the day of the explosion is telling us his incredible story.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
OWEN JONES, MINE EXPLOSION SURVIVOR: There was no warning, no nothing, just an incredible amount of air, more than what you can possibly imagine.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ZAHN: So, the question tonight is, how did he get out of there safely? What happened when he actually went back inside, trying to reach the men who were trapped?
We're also watching the day's other major story in Israel -- is there any hope for Prime Minister Ariel Sharon after his major stroke?
Plus, a story that thrilled some Colorado radio listeners. How could they have known it was too good to be true, and why did a community turn on a man who was supposed to be a war veteran?
ZAHN: Welcome back.
One of the most incredible stories to come out of the Sago Mine disaster is about two brothers who went into the mine together that morning. Unfortunately, only one would come out alive. His name is Owen Jones. And even after he barely escaped with his life, he struggled to go back into the mine to rescue his brother and his co- workers.
Here's Brian Todd with a story of luck, loss and brotherly love.
BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Owen Jones looks out over these hills and thinks about what he lost and what he could have lost. Jones was deep inside the Sago Mine early Monday morning, not far behind his older brother Jesse.
JONES: There was no warning, no nothing, just an incredible amount of air, more than what you can possibly imagine and dust. And you could not see. It absolutely blew me. I tried to got up on the man trip to try to get off and get out of it somewhere, somehow. And it blowed me off of it.
TODD: In the darkened chaos, Jones says, he collected himself and was able to walk out of the mine with the rest of his crew. They all knew, with carbon monoxide swirling around, how dangerous it was inside. JONES: They begged me to go. But I said, I have got a brother in here. I'm going to see if there's -- I got to stay. I'm going to see if there's anything I can do.
TODD: Jones says he and some others pushed back inside slowly, but the air was too poisonous to breathe and he couldn't get close enough to save Jesse.
(on camera): Forgive me for asking you this. Do you feel any sense of guilt that you got out and your brother didn't?
JONES: You always feel that. Yes. It's going through my mind like a tape recorder, just over and over, wish that they would have tried this, wish I could have done that. Yes. Yes. It hurts you.
TODD (voice-over): Jones says he's worked these mines for 16 years, his two older brothers, even longer. He does not believe Jesse died instantly.
(on camera): What do you think he was doing in his last moments?
JONES: Probably thinking of his family, his daughter and all. He was a good dad. He loved his little girl very much.
TODD: Owen Jones says he does not blame the mining company for the accident and says the company did the best it could to respond to it. He doesn't know whether he will go back to work as a miner, but he says he will never go back to the mine where his brother died -- Paula.
ZAHN: It took an awful lot of strength to do what he did with you.
Brian Todd, thanks so much.
We are hearing that one of the dead miners actually left a note. Who has actually seen it, and what did the note say?
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
RON HICKS, HOSPICE CARE SOCIAL WORKER: It's something that gives these -- these -- these family members something to hold on to, something tangible that they can take, and they can hold in their hand and think that, you know, these are the last words that, you know, my -- my son ever said.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ZAHN: So, what is it that was in those words that these families have found so comforting? And how was the note ever found. We are going to go back to West Virginia in just a moment.
And, then, a little bit later on, we change our focus quite a bit, a high-tech rescue that wouldn't have been possible just a few years ago. Will our story send you to the nearest computer store? We will let you decide.
ZAHN: Now we get back to our coverage of the mine disaster in West Virginia. What you are about to hear could turn out to be the most startling and emotional news of the day. I'm talking about the reports of a final message to loved ones scrawled by a miner in the darkness after the deadly explosion at the Sago Mine in West Virginia.
Kimberly Osias has been looking into that, and she has just returned with this report.
KIMBERLY OSIAS, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): We may never know exactly what happened during the more than 40 hours that passed before rescue crews reached the miners. But now there are clues.
Relatives say one of the 12 men who died in the Sago Mine left behind a note to his loved ones. While no details have been released, the note apparently sought to reassure the family that the men weren't suffering.
HICKS: I think it's very symbolic. I mean, it's something that gives these -- these -- these family members something to hold on to, something tangible they can take and they can hold in their hand and think that, you know, these are the last words that, you know, my -- my son ever said, or, you know, my -- my husband has ever said. And I'm privileged to be able to have these.
OSIAS: Bill Rogers, whose brother-in-law died in the mine, says the note seems to indicate the men were -- quote -- "going to sleep."
He told me their only comfort would be that there was no suffering, that they died without pain.
For the families the men left behind, the new words offer mixed blessings. Pastor Howard Swick's church has been keeping its doors open for mourning and comfort.
HOWARD SWICK, PASTOR: The people that I have ministered to have been almost like abuse victims.
OSIAS: And, like abuse victims, the scars will be invisible, but they will carry them forever.
OSIAS: Quite frankly, Paula, the details on this story are a bit scarce. And that is because these families are dealing with that grisly process of identifying the bodies, obviously highly, highly sensitive.
And while they are willing to talk about it, perhaps on the telephone and in person, as you can well understand, they simply are not ready to go on camera. ZAHN: I certainly get that, as I think the rest of our audience does.
Kimberly Osias, thank you.
Coming up next, we change our focus once again. I will be joined by Wolf Blitzer in Jerusalem. Wait until you hear what religious broadcaster Pat Robertson actually said about why the Israeli prime minister had a stroke.
And, tonight, the latest on the prime minister's condition. Is there any hope for him to recover?
ZAHN: We have another major story to talk about tonight. As we speak, Prime Minister Ariel Sharon lies unconscious in a Jerusalem hotel. Doctors say it may be as long as three days before they can actually bring him out of a medically-induced coma. Only then will they get a better idea of just how much his brain was damaged by yesterday's stroke. Our own John Vause is keeping up with what the doctors are saying at this hour.
JOHN VAUSE, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): At a time of national crisis and uncertainty, this was perhaps the most telling image of the day, the Israeli prime minister's empty chair at an emergency cabinet meeting in Jerusalem.
Like many Israelis, the man who is now acting prime minister, Ehud Olmert, was worried. The strain was obvious on his face. We pray and hope for good news from the hospital, he said. But the news remains grave.
This is the intensive care ward where Ariel Sharon is being treated. He is on life support and remains in a medically-induced coma, which could last for three days. But his doctors refuse to give any indication of the prime minister's chances of recovery. That, they say, is impossible.
DR. SHLOMO MOR-YOSEF, DIRECTOR, HADASSAH MEDICAL CENTER: Gradually we'll try to awake the prime minister in order to see his response and his brain activities.
VAUSE: Israel's rabbis asked the country to pray.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It pains us to see that the leader of the Jewish people is hospitalized.
VAUSE: But for some Jewish settlers in the West Bank, there were celebrations. They had come to despise the prime minister because this past summer he gave up Gaza to the Palestinians, a unilateral withdrawal, which he said was necessary for the security of Israel.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translator): As far as we are concerned, there is justice in a judge, he says. Whoever harms the land of Israel, the land of Israel will harm him.
VAUSE: And there were celebrations too for Palestinians in Gaza. These signs read, "Death to Sharon" and "Go to Hell." The whole region will be better off with him gone, says this Hamas spokesman, because Sharon carried out massacres and terrorism for decades.
To many Palestinians, Sharon is a war criminal, held responsible for the massacre of hundreds of refugees in Lebanon in 1982. The prime minister who ordered the assassination of militant leaders, who unleashed the Israeli military after a wave of Palestinian suicide bombings.
On the news of Sharon's health crisis, the Tel Aviv stock market was down sharply. The currency, the shekel, also slid against the dollar. And as the prime minister clings to life, there will be many days, even months of political turmoil ahead, not just for Israel, but for the entire region.
VAUSE: Ariel Sharon has a reputation as a fighter, the heroic soldier who took part in all of Israel's wars. But as hours turn to days, there are growing fears here that perhaps this is one battle that he might not win, Paula.
ZAHN: John Vause, I think everybody is sorry to hear that. Thank you so much for the update. Here in the United States, there has been an outpouring of support, affection and concern, of course, for Prime Minister Sharon. But religious broadcaster Pat Robertson actually suggested today that the prime minister's stroke was divine retribution for Israel's withdrawal from Gaza, giving back land to the Palestinians.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
PAT ROBERTSON, EVANGELIST: Now Ariel Sharon, who is again a very likable person, a delightful person to be with. I prayed with him personally. But here's at the point of death. He was dividing God's land.
And I would say, woe unto any prime minister of Israel who takes a similar course to appease the E.U., the United Nations or the United States of America. God says this land belongs to me. You better leave it alone.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ZAHN: We now turn to SITUATION ROOM anchor Wolf Blitzer, who joins us from Jerusalem right now with some reaction from the Israelis. Those comments being condemned by some Americans. What's the reaction there in Israel?
WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: Well, I spoke with the Israeli ambassador to the United States, Daniel Ayalon, who simply said it was outrageous to hear this, especially from someone like Pat Robertson, who was widely seen as a strong supporter of Israel. The Israelis, Paula, had spent a lot of time over recent years trying to cultivate evangelical Christians in the United States. So by and large they are pretty much shocked by what Pat Robertson had to say.
Although as John Vause reported in his piece, there's a small group of Jewish settlers who have come to despise Ariel Sharon and there are even some who have similarly suggested that God would punish him for the decision to force those Jewish settlers out of Gaza. So there's a tiny element like that, even here in Israel. But there's pretty much surprise and outrage that Pat Robertson would say that publicly.
ZAHN: With as precarious as Prime Minister Ariel Sharon's medical condition is tonight, a lot of folks are wondering if he doesn't make it, what the impact will be on the ongoing peace talks and how it affects the U.S. administration and its involvement with those talks.
BLITZER: It's a great question and no one has a good answer for that question, Paula. Palestinians have their own election scheduled for January. Mahmoud Abbas, the Palestinian authority president, is facing a stiff challenge from Hamas, other militant groups within the Palestinian community.
The Israelis have their election scheduled for March 28th. That election is going to go forward no matter what happens with Ariel Sharon and his very grave condition right now. And Sharon was widely expected to take his new party, this centrist party, Kadima Party, forward and win that election at the end of March.
But if he can no longer run for political office, it's unclear who will lead that party, unclear if there will be that party. Certainly unclear how Likud and Labor will do with their respective leaders. So it's pretty much an open question, what happens next in Israel? It's going to be a great political story, but it's going to be one that's going to force everyone around the world, especially the United States, to be worried what happens next.
ZAHN: Wolf Blitzer, thanks for that late report. We kept you up to the wee hours of the morning there.
Coming up for months, some Colorado radio listeners followed the triumphs and tragedy of a young woman in the military.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Sounded very friendly to us. And we thought, we could adopt this woman as our soldier.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ZAHN: In the beginning, she won everyone's love. Coming up next. How did she also end up breaking their hearts and why?
Plus, do you need some strategies to cope with junk mail and some of life's other annoyances? Stay tuned. We've got some info for you.
ZAHN: Tonight, Iraq is reeling after the deadliest day of insurgent attacks in four months. At least 130 people died in a pair of suicide bombings, one near religious shrines in Karbala; the other was in the city of Ramadi.
Also, five more American soldiers were killed near Baghdad when their armored humvee was blown up by a roadside bomb. And those attacks follow yesterday's deaths of at least 44 people after a suicide bomber detonated his explosive vest during a funeral procession.
No matter what your feelings are about the war, your heart has to go out to those who have lost loved ones over there. And that's why our next story will probably shock, or at a minimum, outrage you. We're about to take you back to a town in Colorado, where people were pouring their hearts out last summer for a patriotic young woman in the military after she told a very compelling and heartwrenching story on a local radio station.
But it ended with a very bitter surprise, and a lot of people feeling very exploited. Sean Callebs has the story, and it's about to make you wonder just what was she thinking?
ROBERT SR. JOHN, RADIO PERSONALITY: I'm just here, I'm looking for funny stuff.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Well, when are you going to do the redneck church?
SEAN CALLEBS, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): To Grand Junction, Colorado, they are simply Robert and Libby, radio personalities who often take phone calls, including one they got months ago from Amber Kenney, a young woman from Grand Junction who said she was off to join the army and begin boot camp.
JOHN: Sounded very friendly to us. And we thought, you know, we could adopt this one as a soldier, adopt a soldier, because we've always wanted to do that, want our station to do that. And then follow her.
CALLEBS: It was the beginning between a six month relationship between the community and Amber, who was merely a voice on the radio. Libby heard it from listeners all the time.
LIBBY JACKSON, RADIO PERSONALITY: Oh, tell Amber hi for us.
CALLEBS: While she said she was in boot camp, Amber's calls were broadcast to Grand Junction all the time, for a period six months. The community was really falling for this patriotic woman, and her husband, Jonathan, who listeners learned was already serving in Iraq.
Then, in February, there is day Iraqis went to the polls, a dreaded phone call for all to hear.
SARAH KENNEY, CALLER: Have you guys heard the news?
JACKSON: No, what?
KENNEY: My husband was killed over in Iraq, in active duty.
JACKSON: Amber, no!
JOHN: When? When? When? When?
KENNEY: I heard Saturday afternoon.
JACKSON: Oh, my gosh.
JACKSON: Oh, Amber.
And I was sickened. I thought it was like -- it felt like somebody in my family had died.
CALLEBS: Amber told the station, because Jonathan died, she had been discharged from the service and was back in Grand Junction. Robert and Libby said the town of 45,000, that got to know Amber over six months, now rallied around her, sympathetic calls, offers of assistance. Homefront Heroes, a veteran support group, was eager to pitch in.
Phylis Derby started the organization and says Amber described her husband's heroic death.
PHYLIS DERBY, HOMEFRONT HEROES: He died saving an Iraqi child. And they were moving children out of the area and he got caught in the crossfire.
CALLEBS: But Amber's story had holes in it. Libby and Phylis scanned the Department of Defense Web site. Not a word about Jonathan Kenney. And when Amber says her husband's body was being flown to Iowa, no mention in the local newspapers. Amber left this message with Derby after a reporter called the Iowa funeral homes, looking for confirmation of the soldier's death.
KENNEY: He's not going to find that funeral home because the funeral home that he's at is not listed, and the family owns and they do not want to be contacted by any media.
CALLEBS: Libby spent a weekend questioning herself and the emotional investment in Amber's story. JACKSON: And then I came to work the next morning and got the newspaper. And opened it up and said woman's story of lost soldier may be a hoax. And I just -- I was just sick. I mean, sick.
CALLEBS: It was all a big lie.
JACKSON: We dragged everybody in this, you know? People are going to quit giving to Homefront Heroes. What are we going to do?
CALLEBS: We couldn't get Amber, whose real name is Sarah Kenney, to speak with us. Her family says she has a job now, but wouldn't say what and that Kenney is doing well and working to put this behind her.
(on camera): The people in Grand Junction were furious that they'd been duped. The county prosecutor says he got dozens of angry calls from people who wanted Sarah Kenney punished. The DA thought her actions were unforgivable, even immoral, but did this big lie constitute a criminal act?
PETE HAUTZINGER, DISTRICT ATTORNEY: Originally when it first broke, it wasn't clear what her motivation was.
CALLEBS (voice-over): District Attorney Pete Hautzinger charged Kenney with criminal impersonation. That's usually associated with underage drinkers or impersonating an officer, a stretch, he thought, but Sarah Kenney had received no money, so he was in unchartered territory. Hautzinger wouldn't have to test his case in court. Serving as her own attorney, Kenney pleaded guilty to a felony, never explaining why she had lied.
HAUTZINGER: She had some good things going for her. I give her a lot of credit for having fallen on her sword and taken full responsibility for what she did.
CALLEBS: People tell us they hardly ever see her out. And while people window shop, Kenney is on probation for four years and has to undergo counseling. Kenney did apologize, but no one who embraced her then wants anything to do with Sarah Kenney now.
DERBY: My gut reaction was, why would you do this? Why would you lie?
JACKSON: She's just a liar. I mean, she didn't try to steal anything. She didn't -- well, she did break everybody's heart.
CALLEBS: It took a while for Robert and Libby to actually trust callers again, but they did, eventually even adopting troops. But before these pictures went up on the wall, the two made sure these guys were the real thing.
ZAHN: I guess you would do that after getting burned so badly and hurt so badly. Sean Callebs reporting for us.
Coming up next, one of the most unusual 911 calls you've ever heard. The operator was in California, but the caller was on the other side of the world.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TAMMY JORDAL: Her other son lives in the Philippines, and they have a cam on, a live cam, and she's on the floor.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ZAHN: What little piece of technology ended up saving her life. And do you have it? So stay with us.
ZAHN: "LARRY KING LIVE" is in town coming up in just a few minutes. Larry, I understand you're going to be hanging out with Howard Stern. The question tonight is, does he ever make fun of you on his show?
LARRY KING, HOST, "LARRY KING LIVE": Oh, he has on many occasions. I've guested on his show. He's been on this show before. Tonight should be a little different. He's signed the biggest media deal I think in history. And Monday, he debuts on satellite radio, a whole new concept for Howard Stern. And we're going to spend an hour with him and take calls. It's all ahead, in about 10 minutes, Paula.
ZAHN: Look forward to it. Yes, he's mentioned my name a time or two, but I can't tell you what he said, because my mother is watching tonight.
Wish him luck. Thanks, Larry. Have fun. Look for you at 9:00.
Coming up now, can you imagine you're home alone, when a medical emergency leaves you so helpless you can't even dial 911. Well it happened to the woman you are about to meet, but she survived because her family was keeping tabs on her, even though they were all away across the globe. How? It's all thanks to a very tiny computer gizmo. Ted Rowlands has the story.
KARIN JORDAL, DIABETIC: When I woke up, my living room was filled of all these with paramedics. And I wondered what was going on.
TED ROWLANDS, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Karin Jordal says she'd be dead had it not been for this, a Web camera, on top of her home computer.
JORDAL: My son put it up for me.
ROWLANDS: Both her sons, Tore (ph) and Ole live thousands of miles away overseas. They use Web cameras to stay close to their mother and to save money on long distance bills. Luckily, Karin's camera was left on the afternoon she went into insulin shock.
JORDAL: When you're into an insulin shock, you can't even take the phone and call anybody. You can't.
ROWLANDS: She was out cold all alone in her remote California home, in need of immediate medical care. More than 7,000 miles away in the Philippines, her son Tore noticed his mother lying in a strange position on her couch.
TORE JORDAL, SON OF DIABETIC (on phone): It was terrifying. I knew she was sick and I knew we had to get an ambulance because I've seen her sick like that before and I'm diabetic, too.
ROWLANDS: Unable to call 9-11 from the Philippines, Tore called his brother Ole in Norway, whose wife eventually got through to the San Bernardino County sheriff's department.
DISPATCH: Has she been ill?
TAMMY JORDAL: Has she been ill?
OLE JORDAL: I don't know.
T. JORDAL: She's diabetic. Her other son lives in the Philippines and they have a cam on, a live cam, and she's on the floor.
DISPATCH: OK, what is her name?
T. JORDAL: Karin.
ROWLANDS: The call was a first for the operator.
FIRE DISPATCH: Hello.
SHERIFF'S DISPATCH: Hi. We have kind of a weird thing here. The lady that called was calling from Norway. They have a live cam to their mother-in-law's house, at this house here. She's a diabetic and she's on the floor.
ROWLANDS: Captain Doug Nelson and his crew were sent on the call. CPT. DOUG NELSON, SAN BERNARDINO FIRE DEPARTMENT: The most unusual medical aid call I've been on.
ROWLANDS: Tore, who was still watching from the Philippines, was sending computer messages to the rescue crew. Captain Nelson heard the messages coming in and then saw the camera.
NELSON: At that point, I sat down, or kneeled down at the computer, and continued to talk with the family in the Philippines, trying to get as much information from them as I could about their mom.
ROWLANDS: The text of the instant messages from the Philippines is still on Karin's computer, the desperate attempts from a son trying to contact his mother, to a heartfelt thank you to paramedics.
Karin spent three days in the hospital. Her blood sugar level was so low, doctors say if help hadn't arrived when it did, she would have most likely suffered serious brain damage. Now home and healthy, Karin is back on the computer, talking to her sons, saving money with the Web camera that she says saved her life. Ted Rowlands, CNN, Pinion Hills, California.
ZAHN: What amazing luck she had that. When the guy in the car next to you cuts you off, how do you get back at him? Well Jeanne Moos has just what you need to deal with the life's little annoyances. Do you want to sign up? Stay tuned, we'll help you.
ZAHN: So no matter how even-tempered and well-adjusted you like to think you are, I'm sure there's something that gets to you. Annoying little things that other people do that drive you absolutely nuts. Well tonight, Jeanne Moos has some solutions for you.
JEANNE MOOS, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Name your pet peeve. Is it cell phones? Junk mail? Crazy drivers? Well, thanks to "Life's Little Annoyances," we've got strategies to fight back.
Take those subscription cards that cascade out of magazines. Some folks mail them back blank just to make the publisher foot the bill for the prepaid postage. And there's one guy who fills junk mail reply envelopes with actual junk to make them heavier and cost the sender more.
"New York Times" reporter Ian Urbina collected such anecdotes for his book -- annoyances like Starbucks' lingo. They want you to call a small a tall. Resist.
(on camera): I've got a small skim latte.
IAN URBINA, AUTHOR, "LIFE'S LITTLE ANNOYANCES": The same thing is kicking the Coke machine when it keeps your coins. It's not going to get your soda, but it feels pretty good doing it.
MOOS (voice-over): What annoys David Terry is the adult video store near his Hamilton, New Jersey home. He calls it a dump. So whenever he sees someone going into the porn store, he does the honk and wave to mortify patrons.
DAVID TERRY, ANNOYED BY ADULT VIDEO STORE: And they are thinking like, who was that? Was that my brother-in-law? Was that my boss?
MOOS: Maybe bad parking drives you nuts. When Jason Brunet (ph) sees someone taking up two spaces, he leaves a leaflet offering a free parking tutorial at this Web site.
(on camera): Wrong. Wrong. Correct.
(voice-over): But bad driving rather than bad parking spawned Roadragecards.com.
(on camera): Can you read?
(voice-over): There's a card for every occasion, like this really mean one to flash when you see a driver putting on makeup. With signs like, "I hope your cell phone gives you cancer," no wonder the cards carry the disclaimer: "may result in injury or even death." Though some folks can take a joke.
Each phrase comes in reverse so you can insult drivers through their mirror.
Who would think of this as a weapon against tailgaters?
Allan Doeksen modified his rear wiper squirter.
ALLAN DOEKSEN, ANNOYED BY SHOPPING CARTS: To spray directly on their vehicle when they're behind me.
MOOS: Allan also gets mad at shoppers who leave their grocery carts blocking the aisles.
DOEKSEN: I'll either put like expensive items in their cart or possibly some embarrassing items like condoms, perhaps, in their cart, as well, when they're not looking. So when they go to the checkout line, they're slightly embarrassed.
MOOS: What annoys Chris Baker (ph) is when the person in front of him in the express checkout has too many items.
(on-camera): So what this guy does is count the culprit's items out loud as the cashier scans each one -- five, six, seven.
(voice-over): But almost nothing annoys folks more than loud cell phone conversations. So a Chicago graphic designer has created cards you hand out to offenders.
(on camera): "We are aware that your ongoing conversation about your husband's vasectomy is very important to you, but we thought you'd like you to know that it doesn't interest us in the least."
(voice-over): If you're very tall, maybe you're annoyed by airline seats.
IRA GOLDMAN, INVENTOR, KNEE DEFENDER: I was tired of being bopped in the knees by reclining seats.
MOOS: So Ira Goldman invented and now sells the Knee Defender.
GOLDMAN: The table comes down, take the Knee Defenders, the seat won't recline.
MOOS: Whatever you do, don't use this on us. "TV B Gone" was dreamed up by a guy who was sick of seeing televisions everywhere. This universal remote turns off any TV. We caused confusion in the newsroom. ROB FREHSE, CNN ASSIGNMENT MANAGER: Did you see our TVS? They're all going black, in and out?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes, but, right, see, the thing is...
MOOS (on camera): Now, what could cause that?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: ... anybody could ...
MOOS (voice-over): Sometimes all these tactics do is give you a chuckle. But when facing life's annoyances, laughter is music to your ears.
Jeanne Moos, CNN, New York.
ZAHN: And that's all for us. Thanks for joining us tonight.
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