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Trashing Hallowed Ground: Slave Cemetery Slated to Become Trash Landfill; Vetting Janet Napolitano; Reaction to Charges Against Plaxico Burress

Aired December 3, 2008 - 15:00   ET


RICK SANCHEZ, CNN ANCHOR (voice-over): Coming at you right now: A cemetery where slaves were buried will be replaced by trash.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I'm sure the tombstones say rest in peace. How can they rest in peace if you are moving them?

SANCHEZ: And the politicians who approved it allegedly got campaign money from the landfill company. We are all over it.

Did Janet Napolitano, who may head Homeland Security, condone an infamous immigrant raid? We are checking the facts.

A dozen generals and admirals with 80 stars among them send a message to Barack Obama: Stop the torture now.

And, Plaxico, Plaxico, what are you doing to your team, to yourself? He is now suspended, and New Yorkers are just angry about the whole thing.

What you are saying at 3:00 p.m. in New York, lunchtime in Seattle and everywhere in between on the air and on the net. This is national conversation begins right now.


SANCHEZ: You heard that conversation I had moments ago with Kyra Phillips. It is probably one of those stories that -- I came across it early this morning, but it has left me thinking and I have been wanting to share this with you, because when you really think about it, who in this country has contributed more than slaves have, brought here against their will, built a country in many ways, while at the same time they were being treated ruthlessly, they were being whipped?

And what is left of them? Very little. There might be some unmarked graves in some places. There might be cemeteries. In fact, there is one in the Atlanta area. And that cemetery, that cemetery, we now learn, is about to be taken down, replaced as it were by a trash landfill, a trash landfill.

Think of the symbolism that is involved. In this story as we go deeper into the story, we also find out that the commissioners who have voted to replace this slave cemetery, or this cemetery where many slaves have been buried, I should say -- they are not all slaves -- this cemetery was approved by commissioners who accepted money in many cases from the very landfill company that wanted that to become so.

We have lined up a guest, because he has written a book on the subject. The book is called "Dumping in Dixie." He found out that in cities throughout the South, all the landfills are in African-American neighborhoods.

And he's going to be joining us in just a little bit.

But the first thing I want you to watch is this report that really capsulizes what is happening with this case in Atlanta.

The reporter is Eric Philips. He's from WSB.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: All in favor, aye.


ERIC PHILIPS, WSB REPORTER (voice-over): It was unanimous. The Clayton County Board of Commissioners voted in favor of moving more than 300 graves, some of them graves of slaves, from here at the Union Bethel AME Cemetery near Hartsfield-Jackson Airport to another cemetery. The descendants of some of those buried at the cemetery attended the meeting. The commissioners' decision had them fired up.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I'm sure the tombstones say rest in peace. How can they rest in peace if you are moving them?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The decision between slave graves, graves that have been there 120 years, or taking the money and digging those graves up and making a bigger landfill to dump trash, that seems so simple to make. I just knew you would get this one right.

PHILIPS: Commission Chairman Eldrin Bell admitted receiving campaign contributions from Stephens MDS, the rock and dirt recycling company who petitioned the board to remove the graves, so that it can expand its landfill there. Opponents say, in fact, all of the commissioners received contributions from the company.

ELDRIN BELL, CLAYTON COUNTY COMMISSION CHAIRMAN: But I make my decision in the best interests of the county that I serve, after weighing all of these matters very carefully

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We will certainly be drafting up a letter to the attorney general's office of Georgia, Thurbert Baker. We will certainly be drafting a letter up to the ethics commission. And the families still have 30 days to appeal.


SANCHEZ: Again, that is Eric Philips.

This happens more in the South than anyone else. And the author of "Dumping in Dixie" is Robert Bullard. The professor is going to be joining us in just a little bit. He was supposed to be on the air with us right now, but, apparently, we are having some kind of technical difficulty reaching out to him. So, stand by, because we're going to join him in just a little bit, and I do really want you to hear what he has to say. He's done a very through investigation about this and he has found out some details that he wants to share with you.

In the meantime, many of you have already been contacting us on this story as we have been bringing it to you, like this one that came in moments ago. This is on

The comment: "It does not surprise me. Sadly, the memory of the dead is only for the memory and no one else cares. Sad thing. I can see a new road."

And Wayne says to us, "As long as it happened in the USA, I believe it."

By the way, when we come back, we're going to be talking about the admirals and the generals, 12 of them, who have decided that they want a very stern message sent to the Barack Obama administration, even before it starts. And the message is very simple: As military advisers, as experts, we say to you, shut down Gitmo and stop the torture.

We will have that for you as well. Stay with us.

We will have the professor when we come back.


SANCHEZ: Welcome back.

Wow. Take a look at all the comments that we are getting on this story already. I mean, they are literally pouring in with immediacy and a real sense of passion as well.

Let's start, Robert, if we can over on the Twitter board if we can. The first one: "That Atlanta commission board needs to be disassembled."

And then Claudia watching us says: "Black people, wake up. So many of our black elected officials" -- she is right on, by the way -- "believe trash is more important than our ancestors."

Curious says: "Shame on the country for moving these graves. Amazing what money can buy. No wonder the families are outraged."

Diva says: "You are shocked? Black people are second-class citizens. Obama may have made strides, but the race is far from over."

And, finally: "Why not removing Arlington Cemetery? Slaves were heroes in their own ways. Shameful and insensitive. Viva America," though.

And let's go over now to MySpace and you will see there we just got this comment in as well, Rob. "How horrible. These commissioners should be fired. So disrespectful and just morally wrong."

To be fair with these commissioners, we are in the process of establishing contact with them. We have been calling their offices all throughout the day. And at least one of them has said that they are willing to come in to talk to us about this story, if not today, then certainly tomorrow. And we will share their comments with you.

In the meantime, we told you about Professor Bullard, who has written a book about trashing Dixie and he's going to be joining us in just a little bit. We understand it is just a matter of getting his microphone just right now. And you will be hearing his comments.

Other stories that we're following right now as we move along, generals, 12 of them, between them, they have 80 stars, stopped to talk to Barack Obama's administration officials today to send a very clear message that they think that Gitmo should be shut down and that the U.S. policy that we presently have on torture should be obliterated, stopped immediately.

We have one of the generals talking to us now. It is a rear admiral, I should say. U.S. Navy Rear Admiral John Hutson is good enough to join us now from Washington, D.C.

How did the conversation go? Were they receptive to your message?

REAR ADMIRAL JOHN HUTSON (RET.), U.S. NAVY: I think they were very receptive, Rick. The conversation went very well.

It was productive. It was very forthright. We have come together. We are a group of 12, but we are a subset of about 40 admirals and generals who over the course of the last three years have been dealing with this very important issue. And we came here to talk with the transition team. We talked with Greg Craig and Mary De Rosa and Eric Holder, the attorney general nominee, to tell them how important we think it is that the new president say up front in the inaugural speech that the United States is not going to engage in torture or enhanced interrogations and then go through a series of actions to demonstrate that.

And -- and we feel this way, basically, because it -- we think that gaining actionable intelligence is so incredibly important to protecting the United States and protecting U.S. troops and that those kinds of interrogation techniques are actually less effective. They are ineffective ways of doing it.

SANCHEZ: But, interestingly enough, there are those who would think, as a military man, Admiral, you would want every single advantage that you can get with these darn terrorists, and you are going to do whatever it takes to take them down and get information from them. That is what some would argue.

HUTSON: And they would be absolutely right.

We want to do -- take those actions that are most likely to get actionable intelligence. And, as it turns out, torture, enhanced interrogation, is not it. What we are advocating are interrogation techniques that have been proven through time, time-tested going back to World War II and beyond that actually do get good actionable intelligence. That is our whole point, so that we are trying to get rid of the stuff that doesn't work, the stuff that smears the good name of the United States, domestically and internationally, and get the intelligence that we really need to protect the United States.

SANCHEZ: Well, it sounds like you are saying the Bush administration got it wrong. And I guess my follow-up question to that is, why did they get it wrong? Why weren't there enough admirals and generals like yourself from the very beginning of this to say, no, don't do that; don't send them to Egypt or some other country that you know is going to torture them?

HUTSON: Well, we have been working on this issue for a long time.

You know, as I said, this group was brought together three years ago by Human Rights First. We have been singing this song as loudly as we can for a long time, because we feel so strongly about it. And it is not a comfortable position for us to be in, particularly.

You know, we wish this issue would go away and that the administration had gotten it right. But it goes on. We need to fix it. The United States needs to get back on track in order to get that kind of intelligence that we need and to clear our good name.

SANCHEZ: If Gitmo closes down, one of our viewers wants to know, what do you do with those folks who are there?

HUTSON: Well, there are a series of steps that need to be taken. And not all of those people are exactly the same. Some of them, we need to prosecute. You know, the U.S. district courts over the -- since 9/11, federal courts have convicted 145 terrorists. We need to get those bad guys to court and get them convicted and put them in jail.

SANCHEZ: So, you are saying they should be treated like any other criminal, and they shouldn't be set aside somewhere and dealt with in some different or I suppose peculiar way?

HUTSON: They are not warriors. They are not soldiers. They are criminals. Those that have engaged in criminal activity are thugs. They're criminals. They are terrorists. We ought not treat them like warriors.

SANCHEZ: That is a good point, but the other thing that I am thinking about as I'm listening to you talk is the following. Are you afraid or should I be afraid if my son goes into the military, which he very well might...


SANCHEZ: ... that he will be treated in a similar way as we have treated some of our prisoners? Is that -- how big of a concern is that point that John McCain, by the way, made many, many months ago? HUTSON: We want to make sure that the United States takes the moral high ground.

Now, I can't promise you that, if your son goes into the military -- and I hope he does -- that how he is going to be treated if he is captured by the enemy. But, as John McCain said, you know, it is not about them. It is about us.

And if we maintain the moral high ground, we are at least in a position where we can argue that this is the way it should be across the board. We are not -- this group of admirals and general isn't so naive as to believe that everybody is going to live up to our standard, but we sure as heck should live up to our standard ourselves.

SANCHEZ: Rear Admiral John Hutson, you know what? It is a pleasure to listen to somebody like you.

HUTSON: Thank you, sir.

SANCHEZ: We appreciate you taking time, sir, to talk to so many Americans watching us right now.

HUTSON: Thank you. Thank you.

SANCHEZ: By the way, Chris, do we have the professor yet? All right. He's sitting down, putting on a microphone. We're going to have him in just a little bit.

Again, he has written this book. The book that he has written is called "Dumping in Dixie." Think ant that, the idea that all the landfills in the South tend to be in African-American neighborhoods. Why is that, we asked? He will tell.

And we will also retell the story of what is going on right now.

As a matter of fact, there is the professor coming up to the set right now.

Thank you, professor, for being with us. You are going to be join us in just a minute and taking some of our calls and taking some of the questions from people as well.

Stay with us. Here he is. We will be right back on cue.


SANCHEZ: And we welcome you back.

Something else to take note of now, if you didn't see my interview with the toughest sheriff in America yesterday, I encourage you to go to my blog. It is at And watch it. We're really proud of this new blog that we have just put out in the last week.

And you will hear him -- That is Sheriff Arpaio -- deny the abusive conditions in his jail as detailed by the 1996 Justice Department investigation, where it warned of excessive force. What else did they say? Hog-tying prisoners, restraint chairs being used, where some prisoners died, a code of silence among several guards, no way for abused inmates to try and complain to anybody after having their constitutional rights trampled.

Now, for those of you who have sent me notes here and said, wait a minute, Rick, so what, they are prisoners, they're inmates, well, let me remind you of something. He runs a jail. It is not really a prison. See, a jail is where you go when you have been picked up for a crime and are awaiting a trial. Innocent until proven guilty?

And many of those in that jail were there simply because they could not afford the pay bail. So, what if that were your son who were picked up for a crime that he had not been proven guilty of yet and he called and said, hey, mom, dad, I didn't do this, and then he ended up worse, like one of these guys, these guys, 11 inmates who died while in those jails?

Resulting lawsuits have taxpayers -- that's is many of you watching right now -- who paid out tens of millions of dollars to those inmates' families. Now, if the Justice Department calls you out and 11 people die in your jails, shouldn't you show some remorse?

Watch the interview. You decide whether Sheriff Arpaio showed remorse.

And then there's this question, the question of Arizona Governor Janet Napolitano. As we reported, she did recently yank state funding for Arpaio's immigration raids. And that is important. However, in the mid-1990s, she was the U.S. attorney for Arizona. And, as we reported, she stood side by side with Arpaio, literally side by side, during that investigation, and later accepted his support when she ran for governor and won. Quid pro quo?

You may want to know what the answer is to that question. And we want to ask her that question, especially now that Barack Obama has chosen her to be the next head of Homeland Security. So, we will continue asking her to come on this show and explain. So far, no luck getting her.

The professor with a book called "Dumping in Dixie," he is coming up next. Stay with us.


SANCHEZ: And we welcome you back.

Joining me now is professor Robert Bullard. He has written an interesting book. It's called "Dumping in Dixie: Race, Class and Environmental Quality." And the reason that we are reaching out to him after writing this book is a story that has developed here in the city of Atlanta.

It's in Clayton County, where several commissioners have decided that they're going to take a cemetery where slaves have been buried and replace it with a trash landfill. There are some pictures that we have been getting in of this cemetery.

There's a lot of arguments and a lot of ways of looking at this, but symbolically alone, it seems insulting, does it not, professor?

ROBERT BULLARD, "DUMPING IN DIXIE: RACE, CLASS AND ENVIRONMENTAL QUALITY": Rick, it is not only insulting. It's offensive.

And if you look at the situation here, it is a case where Jim Crow, segregation, created a space where black people could bury their dead. And now you are talking about removing that space, and replacing it with garbage.


SANCHEZ: The little bit they have left, right?


SANCHEZ: Well, and we understand. I think most people get that as they are watching us, but you wonder with these commissioners in particular -- by the way, the commissioners have a dark skin as well. And that is an interesting part of the story.

And they have also according to all the reports, including the one that we read today from the NAACP, and at least one commissioner doesn't deny it, took money from the company that represents the landfill. That says what to you?

BULLARD: Well, it says there is money in garbage and there's money in debris and waste.

And the mere fact that the -- there are African-American commissioners making decisions about a particular site, it does not really take away from the fact that historically decisions that were made to locate landfills oftentimes were made when African-Americans were not in control. And, so, the first assault or insult was placing that landfill that people -- that they want to expand in that area next to that grave site.

SANCHEZ: Here is what is interesting. I was startled when I started reading parts of the book. The information that you came across many years ago when you were living in Houston as a professor was that, well, this happens in a couple of cases.

But, according to your information, the more you looked into it, the more prevalent you found it became, in some cases, 100 percent.


Well, in the case of Houston, Houston is the fourth largest city. It's unique in that it does not have zoning. And what we found from 1925 up to 1978, 100 percent all the city-owned landfills were located in black neighborhoods.

SANCHEZ: One hundred percent. BULLARD: One hundred percent. Six of eight of the incinerators. And three out of four of the privately owned landfills were located in predominantly black neighborhoods, even though blacks only made up 25 percent of the population.

SANCHEZ: But let's be fair. Some would argue, you know why? Because they happen to live in the inner city, and in those parts of the city, real estate is much cheaper. And if a government needs to by land or acquiesce land, they are going to take that, as opposed to the more expensive land in Buckhead or a place like that.

BULLARD: Well, that is the usual response, but that is not empirically verifiable. What we have found is that the case...

SANCHEZ: Why not?

BULLARD: It's not -- because the case that -- the example that -- the lawsuit that was brought in 1978 was a black middle-class suburban neighborhood of homeowners -- 85 percent of the people owned homes, nice homes in Houston, nothing out there except brick homes and trees.

And, so, this company decides, OK, let's put this landfill there. So, this was not a ghetto. It was not a poverty pocket. When we expanded Houston case to do "Dumping in Dixie," we looked at Louisiana. We looked at West Virginia.


BULLARD: The pattern. We looked at the South and the Southern United States.

And what we found is that, even though African-Americans make up only about 22 percent of the Southern region, over half of the landfills are located in predominantly black neighborhoods. So, it is not random. It -- there is a pattern.

And the pattern, even when you control for housing values, property values, land values, income, education, the most potent variable for predicting where these things are, it is race.


SANCHEZ: Professor, one last question. These commissioners, do you believe they should recuse themselves? Do you believe that they have an established conflict of interests in this case?

BULLARD: Of course they do. Of course they do.

I think they should recuse themselves. And I think that there has to be another look at the historical nature of this particular cemetery, cultural. Before you can put a site, a landfill, a waste -- you have to do the analysis, environmental impact, health impact, and cultural. This cemetery, you know, over 100 years old.

(CROSSTALK) SANCHEZ: Money talks, professor.

Here is what we are going to do, to be fair to them. We have invited them to come here. Hopefully, they will be here. If not today, they will be joining us here tomorrow.

We will continue our discussions with you and we will talk to them as well. And we will stay on top of this story.

By the way, the book again -- it's a great title -- "Dumping in Dixie" by professor Robert Bullard.

Thank you, sir, for coming in to talk with us.

BULLARD: Thank you.

SANCHEZ: We appreciate it.

The Janet Napolitano case, Barack Obama has chosen her to be the next head of security for the United States' Department of Homeland Security. The question is, did she do the right thing when she was governor of Arizona, secretary-general -- attorney general of Arizona? That is what we are looking at.

And we will have it for you when we come back.


SANCHEZ: Check out our blog if you get a chance -- And by the way, people are checking out what we're doing. And they're responding right now on MySpace and Facebook. We're getting comments as we speak.

As a matter of fact, here is Noel Aragon. He's writing to us and saying: "And then you wonder why minorities have a hard time getting out of poverty. Today they want to trash a historical cemetery. What will they want to trash tomorrow?"

"Hasta quando?," he goes on to say -- "How long?," in Spanish. That's the translation.

Let's go to This is zonian56 watching the newscast. And this is the point she wants to make: "You noted that the commissioners are black and the professor's case rests on racism. My hypothesis is racism ends at the pocketbook.

A point well made, in both cases. Again, we make a commitment to continue to follow that story for you. And we'll have the commissioners on if they will oblige here tomorrow.

Meanwhile, another story that we've been looking into is called the Chandler Roundup. It happened in 1997 in Arizona. It has been called a horrendous abuse of power by some, where the rights of U.S. citizens were trampled, in some cases, because, as one police official said -- you may not believe these words were uttered, but they were -- because these people "smelled, smelled undocumented." Quote. Stop quote.

Joining us now is Ruben Navarrette. He's a columnist with the "San Diego Union-Tribune."

He goes on to say -- and this is an interesting point that you make, Ruben, in this column that you've shared with us -- that Janet Napolitano all but looked the other way when she was in charge in Arizona and this raid or roundup took place.

Make your case.

RUBEN NAVARRETTE, "SAN DIEGO UNION-TRIBUNE": Rick, first, thanks for having me.

Absolutely, Janet Napolitano looked the other way. Everybody knows this in Arizona. I -- before I became a syndicated columnist, was a metro columnist and a reporter in the Arizona at the "Arizona Republic." And our paths -- Janet Napolitano and I -- we crossed paths. She was just a baby politician. I was a baby columnist. We were both just starting out.

And in her first role as U.S. attorney, she had complete jurisdiction over the Border Patrol. The Border Patrol had been co- conspirators in the Chandler Roundup -- had teamed up with local police officials in Chandler to sweep the entire city of Chandler -- this is a suburb of Phoenix of about 150,000 people -- over the course of four days in late July.

They didn't know whether they were using a reasonable suspicion or a probable cause standard to stop people. And so, therefore, they ended up stopping people willy-nilly who had dark skin, who had -- spoke with Spanish accents, coming out of the grocery stores, asking them to produce citizenship papers and birth certificates.

SANCHEZ: So this roundup -- I mean let's...


SANCHEZ: Let's talk about the roundup and then we'll move on to Janet Napolitano at the time. But what you're saying about the roundup is -- it sounds like you're saying it was almost Gestapo-like. You're not saying there's anything wrong with enforcing crimes against people who are undocumented...


SANCHEZ: ...or in this country illegally, right?

NAVARRETTE: Absolutely. Rick, I'm the son of a cop. My dad was a cop for 37 years. I don't need lectures from people -- other people -- about the importance of enforcing our laws.

But, also, these are people, in this particular case, who are U.S. citizens and.

SANCHEZ: Huh. NAVARRETTE: Now, what part of legal don't they understand?

If, in fact, you or I are coming out of a supermarket and because of our complexion, we're pulled over and asked to produce our birth certificate. And if we don't have it, we're hauled downtown and detained for several hours -- that's something that not -- should not happen in this country.

SANCHEZ: So what did she...

NAVARRETTE: And it did happen in Arizona.

SANCHEZ: What did she or maybe I should ask what did she fail to do?

NAVARRETTE: Not do. What she failed to do was to own up to her responsibility as the chief federal officer in Arizona. She had complete jurisdictional over the Border Patrol. She should have launched an investigation into what the Border Patrol did, punished those responsible. Instead, she kicked the matter up to the Justice Department, to Janet Reno, with a referral, and that's where it died. Nothing ever happened.

SANCHEZ: So a copout?

NAVARRETTE: She let others take the heat.

SANCHEZ: Was that -- is that a copout?


SANCHEZ: And, if so, why?

NAVARRETTE: Well, I'm glad you asked, because Janet Napolitano has great political antenna. She has known since she was a baby politician what it takes to get up the ladder. She became -- after this incident -- attorney general for the State of Arizona and then governor and now head of Homeland Security. She has been on a meteoric rise.

The reason she's so good at this is because she stays the heck away from powerful people as they beat up on little people. It's not that Janet has anything against little people, she just doesn't like to tangle with bullies who can hurt her political career.

SANCHEZ: That's an interesting way of stating it. Let me share with you something, because we called around and made some inquiries. We checked with some of your colleagues, for example, at the "Arizona Republic" just to be fair about this. They say, well, they agree partially. But they go on to say she vetoed a slew of bills that would have made the situation worse. And she recently yanked state funding...


SANCHEZ: ...which would have helped to fund Joe Arpaio's immigration raid.


SANCHEZ: So is she changing or has she gone the other way?

How would you characterize it?

NAVARRETTE: Here's -- well, Rick, here's the deal. What those folks are talking about in Arizona is what she did as governor. And that's fine. As governor, she has straddled the fence. I don't think it's a bad thing to seek out the middle ground on the immigration issue and tick off both the right and the left. That's what she has done as governor.

But a lot of those people in Arizona don't have the institutional memory that goes back 10 years to tell you what she did as U.S. attorney. And that's what we're talking about here. Ten years ago, she did a very bad thing. She let her own personal ambition get in the way of enforcing the law. That is not something you're supposed to do when you're the chief law enforcement officer in Arizona at the federal level. And so those people in Arizona are merely judging her in terms of what she did as governor, not what she has done or did previously.

SANCHEZ: Ruben Navarrette, columnist, "San Diego Union-Tribune."

Thank you once again...

NAVARRETTE: Thank you.

SANCHEZ: ...for bringing it to our attention, this story about the Chandler Roundup -- 1997, for those of you who want to look up more on this. And we'll try and provide some of this on our blog, by the way.

There are comments coming in from some of you in Arizona as you watch us do this story who, like Reuben said, defend Janet Napolitano's actions as governor -- like this one that came in on MySpace. She's watching our newscast. You see her there. She says: "Rick, I love you. But, seriously, leave the governor alone. She has not done nothing wrong when she has fought for our state. And she will fight for our country."

So there you go -- another viewpoint on this conversation that we're having.

Plaxico Burress. Plaxico, Plaxico, Plaxico -- what next in the Plaxico case?

It seems all of New York wants to know. And many around the country are wondering how something like this could happen with a mature -- in parentheses -- adult. His story, the developments -- we'll be talking with the legendary Warner Wolf -- and those of you in New York know exactly who I'm talking about -- when we come back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK) SANCHEZ: You know, we're always trying to fight for the little guy on this show everyday from 3:00 to 4:00 here on CNN, because I always consider myself a little guy myself -- as I'm being reminded now by one of you who's watching this newscast, Les. He's kind of reprimanding me here, actually.

Let's go to the Twitter board, if we can, Johnny or Robert: "Rick, you are a minority and you acted surprised about what happened in Arizona. Arizona was the last state for Martin Luther King to be chosen as a federal holiday," he writes.

Also this. This is Cecivy. She says: "That's sick, Rick. There just isn't respect today for humankind."

She may be referring to both of the stories that we've been bringing you today.

And here's another one, because there's something else that I'd like you to take note of on this afternoon, as we bring you this newscast: "Say what you will about professional athletes and their respective sports promoting bad behavior. There's a line, as far as one team is concerned, and its star -- its well-known bad boy superstar -- just crossed it. No, it's not Plaxico Burress.

Listen to this.


SEAN AVERY, DALLAS STARS: I just wanted to comment on how it's become like a common thing in the NHL for guys to fall in love with my sloppy seconds.



Imagine being a reporter and you hear him say that. You were expecting him to talk to you about the game -- about hockey.

What was Sean Avery, hot shot forward to the Dallas Stars, talking about what there?

We checked and we found out. And, unfortunately, we have to show it to you now -- or fortunately. His ex-girlfriend, actress Elisha Cuthbert -- did I say that right? All right -- who is apparently hooking up with a player on another team. And for making that spontaneous comment about sloppy whatever yesterday to a group of reporters, who just expected some actual hockey comments, this guy has now been suspended from the game. He also has to go to the principal's office, if you will. He has to meet with the NHL commissioner in New York over his comment. That came out of nowhere.

Avery's team stands by that decision, by the way. Owner Tom Hicks told "The Dallas Morning News" that if the league didn't suspend him, the team would have: "This organization will not tolerate such behavior. We hold our team to a higher standard and we'll continue to do so."

This from a world of hockey. Think about it for a minute. This is a sport where assault and battery on the ice will only net you a few minutes in the penalty box.

We'll be right back.


SANCHEZ: Yes. And you can also go to our blog, by the way, It's brand new. We're really proud of it. Dave has been working hard on this thing -- Dave Johnson. A big thumbs up, keep it up.

By the way, we're going to get to this Plaxico story in just a minute.

But first, your comments. I've got to bring some of these in. We'll start with MySpace -- Facebook, there you go, on the right.

Christine, watching this newscast. She wants you to know -- I guess she wants me to know: "You're awesome." Thank you, Christine. "I think that slave graveyard being dug up so they can make a dump is so immoral. Don't these people have a soul? I hope they can't sleep at night because, considering this, how dare they?"

Well, now let's go to And this is interesting, because look at the comments we got. I just read you that story about the hockey player, right?

Look what people are writing. Mortimas says: "Wow! A hockey player getting benched for an off color remark. What if he would have just punched the reporter?"

I guess then it would been fine. No, I just said that.

Cariann is watching. She says: "Hello. He's a hockey player."

And then Edgar says: "Professional athletes have no college education and always do dumb stuff."

That may not necessarily be true. That's not even nice, as a matter of fact.

Let's go to somebody who really is nice -- Glenda, CNN Espanol.

She's going to speak a little Spanish and do a...


You're nice, too.

SANCHEZ: ...lakalakalaka (ph) with anybody. So let me say to her, que tal?




We missed you today on our show.

SANCHEZ: Well, I had...

UMANA: But you're coming tomorrow.

SANCHEZ: I had a personal issue that I can't share with you on camera.


SANCHEZ: But I'll tell you about it later.

UMANA: You don't have to tell the details. It's OK.

SANCHEZ: It was stupid. Not anything bad, just dumb.

UMANA: Yes. But we were -- we wait -- we expect you tomorrow at 11:00 a.m.

SANCHEZ: I'll be there.

UMANA: OK. But let me tell you what's going on. We're going to go to Brazil. Apparently the worst is over, Rick. But this is the story. More than one million people have been affected in Brazil by this flood. At 120 have died and there are many more that have disappeared.

Now, in Southern Brazil, a place called Santa Catarina, this is the place most battered. There's some of the major highways that have been destroyed. Approximately 80,000 people without a home now.

SANCHEZ: That's crazy. You know, it's funny, that every time I see those pictures, I harken back to my experience as a correspondent working with Anderson Cooper at "A.C. 360" and at Katrina. You just see floods and your mind immediately goes to that and you know how desperate people become when they lose their homes.


SANCHEZ: And in some cases...

UMANA: And everything. It's hard.

SANCHEZ: ...their lives.

UMANA: And most of these people are poor. So that's hard.

SANCHEZ: Yes. That's even more difficult -- as they were in parts of New Orleans, we should remind viewers. Thank you so much, Glenda.

UMANA: Ciao.

SANCHEZ: We appreciate it.

Warner Wolf -- he's a legend in New York City. I mean, if you grew up in New York City, you watched this guy on TV every night doing the news. And there he is ready join us once again, because everybody in New York is talking about this Plaxico Burress story. I don't know if people feel story for him or just are angry at him.

I would tend to think, Warner, it would be the latter, wouldn't it?

WARNER WOLF, IMUS IN THE MORNING SPORTS: No. They think he's stupid.

SANCHEZ: Really? So...

WOLF: Yes, a bozo move. The Giants are winning without him. So that's the bottom line. If they were losing...

SANCHEZ: Well, he was suspended last night.

WOLF: I'm sorry?

SANCHEZ: He was suspended last night, is that right?

WOLF: Yes. Well, now you -- well, the deal is -- right. He's put on the list. He's finished for the year without pay. But you know what, Rick, I have to think if he played for the Dallas Cowboys, who brought back "Pacman" Jones, or the Bengals, who brought back Chris Henry, he wouldn't have been suspended, because you have different organizations. I think he'd be still being played.

But that's the way it is. The Giants are run by Misters Mara and Tisch, a class organization. Get out.

SANCHEZ: You know what's interesting about this story is it's gone way beyond a sports story now. You've got a lot of stuff going on. You've got a hospital that possibly is being investigated because somebody at the hospital tried to hide this from the police. You've got Pierce, one of the linebackers on the team, who apparently may be investigated for obstruction of justice because he was hiding the gun. And then you've got the mayor of New York saying this.

Let's listen to this again, Wolf.

WOLF: Right. Well, listen...


MAYOR MICHAEL BLOOMBERG (I), NEW YORK: I think it would be an outrage if we didn't prosecute to the fullest extent of the law, particularly people who live in the public domain and make their living because of their visibility. They are the role models for our kids. And if we don't prosecute to the fullest extent of the law them, I don't know who on earth we would.


SANCHEZ: Well, that's amazing for the mayor to come out and make those comments.

Did it take you by surprise when you heard that?

WOLF: No, because they put that into effect two years ago. I mean, that's the law. If you're not going to abide by the law, then why have the law?

Then you would have chaos. He should be no different than anybody else.


WOLF: And, you know, by the way, they did suspend the doctor who didn't report the gunshot. And as far as Antonio Pierce, he could be charged with obstruction of justice. That still remains to be seen.

SANCHEZ: That's amazing.

Well, we'll keep following this.

You look good. You look good, Warner Wolf.


SANCHEZ: Thanks so...


SANCHEZ: (SPEAKING SPANISH) Mucha gracias. You do well.

Let's -- I mean, we'll get together again, OK?

WOLF: All right.

SANCHEZ: We appreciate it. Legendary Warner Wolf.

Ellen on shopping in America -- her take. We've got The Fix for you tonight. It's the one time where we put everything together that you've missed during the day and the evening.

We'll be right back.


SANCHEZ: We talked to Warner Wolf just moments ago. Now we're going to talk to another Wolf. This is, as Larry King would often say, my man, Wolf Blitzer.

What do you have -- Wolf? WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: We've got a lot going on.

Warner Wolf, by the way, a really good guy. I remember when he was a sportscaster here in Washington, D.C.

We're going to have a special interview. It's rare. It doesn't happen every day, Rick. But we're going to be speaking with Bill Gates -- one of the world's richest men. I had this exchange with him just a little while ago at George Washington University.

Listen to this.


BLITZER: How worried are you about the U.S. economy right now?

BILL GATES, FORMER MICROSOFT CHAIRMAN: Well, we're in uncharted territory. And we're certainly going to have a fairly serious recession. I think the right things are being discussed about stimulus. And you know, I'm sure we'll come out of it. But it could be a tough period.


BLITZER: Much more of the interview -- in fact, the whole interview. That's going to be in "THE SITUATION ROOM" -- part one today, part two tomorrow.

Also, we have a special interview -- a CNN exclusive interview -- with the former president of the United States, Bill Clinton. You're going to see it here. He talks about possibilities -- what's going to be ahead in the Obama administration for him and, of course, for his wife.

Rick, a lot coming up in "THE SITUATION ROOM."

SANCHEZ: Wolf Blitzer, always getting the best guests. I'll tell you, I'm jealous.

Thanks so much, Wolf.

BLITZER: Thank you.

SANCHEZ: We look forward to it.

All right, let's go to Ellen now. This is her take on shopping in America.

This is The Fix. Let's go to it.


ELLEN DEGENERES, HOST, "THE ELLEN DEGENERES SHOW": It's very exciting. There's 23 more shopping days until Christmas -- unless you're shopping for an American-made car. Then you've got like eight or 10 days tops. (LAUGHTER)



BARBARA WALTERS, CO-HOST, "THE VIEW": I got all dressed up because I have to do "The Colbert Report".


WALTERS: And I've got a big day and I wanted to look sort of jazzy. And so I said to him, Elisabeth, you -- it's a question. I said, do you like this dress?

There was this long pause.


WALTERS: And she said it's unique.




SHEPHERD: Stand up, Barbara. That dress is so fierce.

JOY BEHAR, CO-HOST, "THE VIEW": Do you like it?

SHEPHERD: I love that dress.



WHOOPI GOLDBERG, CO-HOST, "THE VIEW": Can I just point out...


WALTERS: She's trying to be nice.


WALTERS: She doesn't want to hurt my feelings.

HASSELBECK: I'm honest.

GOLDBERG: Well, here's the thing, the idea of you looking fat in anything...

BEHAR: Is ridiculous.

GOLDBERG: You'd have to be wrapped in Joy and I to look fat.




STEPHEN COLBERT, HOST, "THE COLBERT REPORT": Big relief today. The stock market is up 270. My 401(k) is now only practically worthless.


COLBERT: But this is great, because yesterday the Dow fell almost 700 points.


COLBERT: Money points.


COLBERT: Stockos. Seven hundred stockos.


COLBERT: Now, personally, I blame the geniuses at the National Bureau of Economic Research, who thought it would be a good idea to announce yesterday that we are now in a recession. Terrible move. Everybody knows you keep bad news to yourself...


COLBERT: ...holding it deep inside until eventually it kills you, OK?



Let them find out about your secret family in the video will.



SANCHEZ: And, of course, we've got New Yorkers who are talking to us today, e-mailing us and sending us tweets, like this one. This is Darth, who's watching our newscast right now. This is on the Twitter board, Johnny. He says: "I'm a New Yorker. Plax is annoying the hell out of me. His latest antic -- literally shooting himself in the foot -- or leg."

Sometimes the best writers are the people who aren't paid to write. Or maybe he is.

We'll be right back.

We're looking at the market and much more.


SANCHEZ: Two comments coming to us now from the right, appropriately so. Both of them well stated and both from viewers that we very much respect and write to us all the time as they watch our newscast.

This one's from Stitchbell (ph) -- Stitchgirl (ph). Pardon me. She says: "It's really funny how Rick won't cover Saxby Chambliss' big win. I really would like to talk about why Obama supporters failed to show up."

She makes a great point -- not to mention the fact that Barack Obama didn't come down here and actually campaign for Jim Martin. A point well made.

By the way, we didn't have the story because it was decided so early in the evening yesterday and had been covered extensively, although we did it have it in our original run-down.

Now let's go over to CWBuckett. He's watching us and he tweets to us with this comment: "Jeez, now we're talking about the rights of the dead. No concern for children in the womb, but the dead take precedence?"

A point well made, from a different viewpoint, as well.

Now, Susan Lisovicz is standing by.

And she's looking at a market that's looking up.

And this would be -- am I correct -- two days in a row?


SANCHEZ: We've been seeing more good signs than bad signs lately, at least as far as the market is concerned. That's good news.

Wolf Blitzer standing by right now with "THE SITUATION ROOM" -- Wolf, take it away.

BLITZER: Thanks very much, Rick.