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Former Alaska Senator Killed in Plane Crash; Charlie Rangel Defiant

Aired August 10, 2010 - 18:00   ET



Happening now, breaking news: former U.S. Senator Ted Stevens killed in a plane crash. Also on board, the former NASA chief, Sean O'Keefe. We have learned he is alive. We're going to Alaska.

Also, prison politics heating up the race for Arizona governor, as the manhunt continues for one of two convicted killers who escaped.

And an embattled U.S. congressman challenges his colleagues to kick him out of the House of Representatives. You will hear Charlie Rangel's defiant speech.

We want to welcome our viewers in the United States and around the world. I'm Wolf Blitzer. You are in THE SITUATION ROOM.

We are following the breaking this hour, a plane crash in the Alaska wilderness that has claimed the life of former Senator Ted Stevens. Also on board, former NASA Administrator Sean O'Keefe. He is now confirmed to be among the survivors.

CNN's Casey Wian is working the story for us. He's in Anchorage with the latest.

What are you picking up, Casey?

CASEY WIAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Wolf, we just landed about an hour ago in Anchorage, Alaska, which is quite a ways away from that crash site.

But I did just get off the phone with a man named Eric Shade (ph), who is a commercial pilot. He is one of two commercial pilots who initially spotted the crash last night, and alerted authorities that there was a crash, and that there were going to be victims.

He told me about the scene of the crash. What he said is that the plane simply ran into the mountain. The plane was carrying nine passengers, and we have since learned that five of those passengers were killed, including former Alaska Senator Ted Stevens, but there have been four survivors.

Rescue crews, it took them a long time to get to the scene of that crash because it is a remote area and because there were very bad weather problems. Mr. Shade, that commercial pilot who first spotted the crash, said that when he flew over the area, the clouds were so low, they were almost down to the level of where the plane was lying, about 1,000 feet up the side of a mountain.

He said that there was no evidence of fire when he overflew the crash site, and it looked like the fuselage had traveled 200 feet up the mountain after it impacted. Also, the wings were on the side. They were knocked back. He said that the whole front of the plane was smashed in. He said he was very surprised that there were any survivors at all.

We are still waiting for those survivors to be transported to a hospital here in Anchorage. Meanwhile, there are expressions of grief and condolences for Senator Stevens and his family. We just landed at the airport here in Anchorage, Alaska. It is named after Senator Stevens. He is the person who originally wrote the legislation that allowed Alaska to become a state.

One of the interesting things that we have also learned, though, is he had a fear of flying. He said it was a job hazard of being a politician in Alaska, because there are so many remote locations here and not good roads and it's the only way to get around.

His first wife died in a plane crash back in the 1970s. And during an interview in the late 1970s, he expressed fears that the same thing might happen to him. He called it an occupational hazard. And, unfortunately, that is what has happened tonight, Wolf.

BLITZER: You want to be in politics in Alaska, you have got to fly. No doubt about that.

All right, Casey, we will check back with you.

Let's check in with our CNN meteorologist, Chad Myers, right now. He has been studying this area where this crash occurred.

What are you finding out, Chad?

CHAD MYERS, CNN METEOROLOGIST: Well, we have used the word remote all day. And to find the word urban in Alaska would be about 1 percent of the population area.

There is Anchorage hundreds of miles away over here into Dillingham and then 38 miles away is a lake called Lake Nerka. That's where these men were fishing, coming back I believe from a fishing trip getting back into Dillingham for their flight eventually back to Alaska to Anchorage and then out. Dillingham to Lake Nerka 38 miles, very simple flight, very easy flight and fast flight.

But there are the finger lakes here, basically, Wood River lakes, Wood River Mountain Range through here, that kind of the Finger Lakes of New York that go like this. The finger lakes here go east to west a little bit. We will zoom through here, because the lakes are all about 50 feet above sea level. They're pretty low, and they all run into the sea.

But there are mountains in between the lakes and very rugged mountains up and down, almost straight up and down at times. Mountaintops are 3,000 feet high. The ceilings of the cloud cover was 1,000 feet.

So, this plane, this plane was very close to the bottom of the cloud cover. We call it the lifting condensation level and as it was flying from Lake Nerka all the way back toward Dillingham, possibly even making a stop -- we don't know where this plane was going. There is no flight plan. There doesn't have to be a flight plan, because this is basically a VFR, visual flight rule, flight. They knew where they were going.

They have been there a hundred times. Planes like this take off and land thousands of times a day in Alaska, but yesterday was tough. It was 7:30 at night. The sunset did not even happen until 10:30 at night, so there was still light outside, but something else obviously, Wolf, went wrong. Visibility only about two miles at times. Maybe that was not enough for something to get avoided.

BLITZER: Yes, the National Transportation Safety Board only now just beginning this investigation.

Chad, thank you.

Ted Stevens was the longest serving Republican senator in U.S. history.

CNN's Joe Johns covered Stevens for many years.

Tell us about this individual, this U.S. senator.

JOE JOHNS, CNN SENIOR CORRESPONDENT: Very old-school. He came from a completely different era.

And when you look at the way he worked on Capitol Hill, you are reminded more of perhaps an LBJ or somebody like that. He had so many friends. Ted Stevens launched 1,000 ships both here and back home in Alaska.

But the thing that was interesting about him was that unlike so many politicians today, he was not afraid to make enemies. He was not afraid for people to hate him, not afraid for people to fear him. And that in and of itself was the essential thing, the way he wielded power while a powerful chairman of Appropriations and other jobs on Capitol Hill.

People ask, it is appropriate to allow such a senator with so much power to control the earmarking process or should earmarks be controlled based on merit? And that was the rub for Ted Stevens.

BLITZER: It's interesting that the Senate Republican leader today, Mitch McConnell, said this senator, Senator Stevens, did more for his state than any other senator ever did for any other state.

JOHNS: There's no question. One of the think tanks in town actually estimated that he brought $3.2 billion in earmarks to the state of Alaska, just Alaska. It is really a remarkable legacy. And you go to that state, the first thing you see when you get off the plane at Anchorage is, the airport is named after him. People loved Ted Stevens. And I can tell you, but for that Justice Department case that went down so terribly, to everybody's detriment, Ted Stevens would probably still be in the Senate right now.

BLITZER: Yes. I think you are probably right. All right, thanks very much for that.

Joe Johns covered Ted Stevens in the U.S. Senate.

Let's get a little bit more on Sean O'Keefe, who we now know survived the crash, along with his son Kevin. O'Keefe is the CEO of the North American branch of EADS, a European aerospace company. Prior to that, he was chancellor of Louisiana State University. He is also best known as the former NASA administrator. He held the role from 2001 until 2005, a period that saw achievements like the Mars rover missions, as well as the tragedy of the Space Shuttle Columbia disaster.

O'Keefe has held other government positions, including deputy director of the Office of Management and Budget, secretary of the Navy, and comptroller, chief financial officer of the U.S. Defense Department during the first Gulf War, when he then worked for the first defense secretary, Dick Cheney, and chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, General Colin Powell.

Jack Cafferty is coming up next with "The Cafferty File."

Then, a prison break heats up Arizona politics, with a rival blaming Governor Jan Brewer for the escape of convicted killers.

Also, details of a huge advance in Alzheimer's research -- the simple test that may predict who will get the disease.

Plus, a massive aid package for struggling states. Is it a desperately needed lifeline or just more government tax and spending?


BLITZER: Jack Cafferty is here with "The Cafferty File" -- Jack.

JACK CAFFERTY, CNN ANCHOR: It's the American dream, right, get rich, retire early, and then live out your days in the lap of luxury. But just how much money would it take for you to consider yourself rich?

You'd likely get a different answer from everybody you asked. There are a lot of factors involved: what part of the country you live in, how extravagant your lifestyle is, how much you save, et cetera, et cetera. takes a look at the question how rich is rich? Some of the experts they talked to say it takes between $2 million and 12 million in savings to be rich.

One definition of "rich" is being able to live comfortably without working. And by that standard, in New York, it would take about $300,000 a year to cover living expenses, taxes, monthly spending allowance. For someone wanting to retire at 35, that means they'd need $12 million in savings. Who retires at 35?

In other parts of the country, about $100,000 a year would be enough to live comfortably, which means you'd need about $4 million in savings to retire at 35. Of course, retiring that early doesn't happen for many people, especially in this economy.

If you're willing and able to keep working until you're 65, you will only need about $2 million to retire.

According to the Obama administration, the cutoff point that makes someone rich is about $200,000 a year. The president wants to extend the Bush tax cuts for all Americans, except individuals making more than $200,000 or couples making more than $250,000 a year. That's about 2 percent of the population.

So, here's the question: How much money makes you rich?

Go to Post a comment on my blog.

BLITZER: It depends on your definition of rich.

CAFFERTY: There you go.

BLITZER: All right. A lot of people have different definitions, as you say, Jack. Thank you.

There is some encouraging news about today a disease that impacts millions of people around the world and their families, Alzheimer's.

BLITZER: And joining us now, our CNN senior medical correspondent, Elizabeth Cohen. She is the author of a brand-new book just out entitled "The Empowered Patient."

This is a critically important, even, I must say, a lifesaving book that we are going to talk about, Elizabeth, in just a moment.

But I first want to talk about some of the news of the day. Apparently, there's a new test that can pretty accurately predict whether someone is going to get Alzheimer's.

ELIZABETH COHEN, CNN MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, Wolf. This is a huge advancement in medical science, because up until now, there really has not been a way to predict who would get Alzheimer's.

What researchers did is, they gave people spinal taps. They got some of their spinal fluid out by putting a needle in their back and they found that if certain proteins were in that fluid, that person had a much higher risk of developing Alzheimer's later in life.

Well, as usual, the rest of us -- we all sort of need to catch up with new technology. The question is, if this test becomes widely available, do you want it? Do you want to know that you are likely to get Alzheimer's, considering that there is not much you can do to stave it off? -- Wolf.

BLITZER: But there is a possibility that the results of this new test will help researchers come up with some new ways to deal with Alzheimer's and perhaps stop the onset of Alzheimer's; isn't that right?

COHEN: Yes, that is right.

And that is why, from a medical science point of view, from a research point of view, this is huge.

However, from a patient, consumer point of view, you want to take a step back and think, do I really want this test if it becomes widely available?

BLITZER: Especially if there is nothing you can do to stop it in the interim.

All right, let's talk about your new book, "The Empowered Patient." You wrote this book in part because of a personal experience that you and your family went through, Elizabeth. Share that with us.

COHEN: That is right. A few years ago, my mother was having health problems, and she was misdiagnosed. And that is why I wrote this book.


COHEN (voice-over): My mother, Sheila Schwartz, is a firecracker. Mother of four, grandmother of 11, wife, lawyer and social worker. She's been active and healthy her whole life. But around the time she turned 60, something changed. She began feeling achy and dizzy. Her blood pressure went up and she was so tired. My mother says her family doctor told her "don't worry about it."

(on camera): They told you, "look lady, if you just stop working so hard, your blood pressure will come down."


COHEN: So they kind of patted you on your head and said -

SCHWARTZ: Go home. Calm down.

COHEN (voice-over): My mother didn't question her doctor.

(On camera): Were you an empowered patient?



SCHWARTZ: No. I was unempowered in this process. I was an empowered mother. I was an empowered social worker. I was an empowered teacher. I was not an empowered patient.

COHEN: Did you just trust the doctors?

SCHWARTZ: That's what I was brought up to do.

COHEN: A good girl from the '50s.

SCHWARTZ: Forties.

COHEN: From the '40s.

(voice-over): Then one day, my mother flew in to visit me in Atlanta. I could tell she felt awful.

(on camera): And you remember what we did while you were there.

SCHWARTZ: You called your physician who came in on a Saturday and saw me.

COHEN: And he had a theory you had what's going in your adrenal glands.

SCHWARTZ: Adrenal Adamson.

COHEN: And those are growths on the adrenal gland.

SCHWARTZ: That was affecting my kidney functions.

COHEN: It was like this a-ha moment.

SCHWARTZ: That's right.

COHEN: Now, it makes sense.

SCHWARTZ: Now, it makes sense.

COHEN: It turns out my mother all this time had been seriously ill. If it had been caught earlier, a pretty simple treatment would fix the problem but instead it's come to this. She needed a kidney transplant. My mom's life depended on the success of this surgery.


BLITZER: All right. So, how is your mom doing after that kidney transplant, Elizabeth?

COHEN: Wolf, I'm so happy to say, thank goodness, she is doing great. The transplant worked beautifully. We are so grateful. We are especially grateful to our cousin who donated the kidney to her.

BLITZER: How old is your mom now?

COHEN: She's 71.

BLITZER: So, she is doing just fine. She does not need dialysis or anything like that? COHEN: Nothing. She doesn't need anything. She was going to have to undergo dialysis if she had not received the kidney. She works as hard as you do, Wolf. I think you and she are the two hardworking people I know.

BLITZER: Well, God bless her.

Let's talk a little bit about why you decided to write this book. I assume it's because of you saw, at least in part, the way your mom was misdiagnosed.

COHEN: That is right. What I saw is that sometimes we need to challenge our doctors and be bad patients.

If my mother had said to that original doctor, hey, you know, I don't think this is not about me working too hard, I think that this is about perhaps something different, I feel very strange, she would have probably gotten her doctor maybe a little bit angry, but that that is OK.

I think sometimes we are -- especially women -- are people- pleasers and sometimes that not the right way to be and you really have to challenge a doctor. If they are telling you something that your gut says does not sound right, you need to ask questions.

BLITZER: And God bless your mom's cousin as well. He is a great man for going through this, in effect saving your mom's life.

COHEN: Absolutely.

He is indeed. He is a great man. A shout-out to Colonel David Cantor (ph), who donated the kidney. And he is her age, also, so they are both two incredible people.

BLITZER: All right, well, we wish both of them only, only the best.

The book is entitled "The Empowered Patient: How to Get the Right Diagnosis, Buy the Cheapest Drugs, Beat Your Insurance Company, and Get the Best Medical Care Every Time" -- the writer, Elizabeth Cohen, our senior medical correspondent.

Elizabeth, thanks very much.

COHEN: Thanks, Wolf.

BLITZER: A convicted killer on the run armed and dangerous, who is to blame for his escape? Prison politics now heating up in Arizona.

Plus, a brutal heat wave and hundreds of wildfires prompting a travel warning for Americans.


(NEWS BREAK) BLITZER: THE SITUATION ROOM, by the way, is on Facebook. Go to Click on the like button to become a fan. You will get the latest show updates, exclusives, behind-the- scenes material. CNNSituationRoom is now on Facebook.

The desperate hunt for an escaped convict takes a new political twist -- why the Arizona attorney general is warning that more prison breaks could likely be on the way.

And President Obama has just signed a new $26 billion jobs bill into law, but is the government spending too much money? I will ask a leading Democratic congressman.

And he swears at a passenger, then triggers the plane's emergency chute -- why some are calling this "Moost Unusual" flight attendant a hero.


BLITZER: Just hours after it was passed by the House of Representatives, the president has now signed a massive aid package for struggling states.

It includes $16 billion for Medicaid funding and $10 billion to help prevent layoffs of teachers and first-responders. The vote was near party lines, with Republicans overwhelmingly opposed.


BLITZER: And joining us now, Democratic Congressman Chris Van Hollen of Maryland.

Congressman, thanks very much for coming in.

REP. CHRIS VAN HOLLEN (D), MARYLAND: Good to be here, Wolf.

BLITZER: You have passed this $26 billion bill in emergency session right now. The Republicans make the point, this is what the Democrats do all the time. They tax and spend.

Why aren't they right this time; this is just simply more spending and more taxing?

VAN HOLLEN: Well, Wolf, let's look at what we are doing.

We have got millions of American kids who are headed back to school in the next six weeks, and we want to make sure that there is a teacher in the classroom, rather than empty classrooms. We also want to make sure we keep down class sizes.

And this bill is paid for. And here is how it is paid for. And this is important. It is paid for by shutting down these very perverse loopholes in the tax law that actually reward American companies that ship American jobs overseas.

(CROSSTALK) BLITZER: Just want to be precise on that, but that would be raising taxes on these American corporations?

VAN HOLLEN: What it would mean is that American taxpayers are no longer footing the bill that American corporations are paying to foreign governments.

Right now, you have got some very creative tax lawyers who have devised a scheme that requires essentially American taxpayers to foot the bill for the taxes they are paying overseas, whether it is in Asia or Europe.

And we say, there's no reason American taxpayers should have to foot the bill, number one. And, number two, it creates this very perverse incentive where companies are being subsidized for shipping jobs overseas. We don't pay their tax bill here at home, and so why should we be paying their tax bill to foreign governments?

BLITZER: And there may be legitimate, excellent reasons for doing it, but I just want to be precise. In the end, this does represent a tax increase for these corporations?

VAN HOLLEN: Yes. What this means, Wolf, is that the American taxpayer will no longer be paying for the taxes they pay to foreign governments. And that eliminates this perverse incentive for them to ship American jobs overseas.

BLITZER: And the other accusation the Republicans make is, this is just simply a big payoff to a major pillar of the Democratic Party, the teachers union out there, who wanted this spending to go forward to help these teachers.

VAN HOLLEN: Well, I heard the Republican leader John Boehner refer to the teachers and the firefighters and the police as the special interest, as if they were some kind of a terrible group of people. I happen to think that we all have an interest in making sure that our kids have a teacher in the classroom, we all have an interest in making sure that the cop is on the beat, and we all have an interest the make sure that there is a firefighter in the neighborhood if something catches on fire. So, we believe that Americans are much better served having the teachers in the classroom rather than teachers standing in the unemployment line somewhere. So the choices are very clear. I mean, that I have p-- they have presented the choices clearly, teachers in the classroom at home or reward corporations that are shipping the American jobs overseas?

BLITZER: There's one other option that you could have done as well which is to cut spending elsewhere in the federal budget to pay for the $26 billion, because you know there is a lot of fat out there that you could probably find a way to cut.

VAN HOLLEN: Actually, Wolf, there are some cuts. In other words this is $26 million, a significant portion of it is paid for by shutting down the perversion loopholes, but there are other provisions that do eliminate spending. There's a rollback on some of the provisions on the recovery bill that people project will not be spent and not yet been committed and also rollbacks in spending in other areas.

BLITZER: Of the $26 billion, how much is in spending cuts?

VAN HOLLEN: Actually about $14 billion.

BLITZER: That is a significant sum.


BLITZER: But listen to John Boehner, the Republican leader in the House of Representatives, because he got emotional on this issue.

REP. JOHN BOEHNER (R), MINORITY LEADER: We are broke. We do not have the money to bail out the states. It is time for them to get their arms around their own problems. And not look to Washington to bail them out.

BLITZER: All right. Go ahead and respond to Boehner.

VAN HOLLEN: Well, it is misleading, because we are not passing on this is as a debt. You heard Mr. Boehner recently talk about how he supported giving the top 2 percent of Americans a big tax break, extending the Bush tax cuts for very wealthy and how he did not want to pay for it, and that is $700 billion over ten years, but this is fully paid for. The $26 billion is paid for partly by cuts and some by shutting down the loophole, and what we are making sure is that when the kids goat the classes in -- when the kids get to the classes in the next six weeks, there is going to be a teacher, and also, when you call for the police, they are going to be able to respond. We don't believe that we should be essentially addressing or the deficit on the back of kids and teachers and neighborhood safety. We believe it is better to find these offsets and shut down these tax loopholes that reward American corporations for shipping jobs overseas. It does not make sense.

BLITZER: How worried are you that if the unemployment rate remains at around 9.5 percent going towards November, your Democrats, and your colleagues in the House of Representatives are going to suffer a huge loss?

VAN HOLLEN: Well, what I think that we are all worried about, Wolf, is getting the economy moving again, and this is an important part of that, because obviously, if you fire a teacher rather than having a teacher in the classroom, not only do your kids suffer, but the fact of the matter is that is one more person on the unemployment line. So we need to continue to make progress. We have seen that over the last 18 months, we have gone from an economy where we were losing 700,000 jobs a month to one where we have seen positive private sector job growth, but we know that we are not there. That is why we are trying to pass this bill in the Senate to free up more credit for small businesses; again, our Republican colleagues have blocked it. We understand that people are hurting out there, and the question is, what are you going to do about it? We are continuing and trying to get out of the ditch we have found ourselves in, and fortunately today, the Republican colleagues are not -- they don't want to be part of the solution. BLITZER: All right. Chris Van Hollen, thank you very much.

VAN HOLLEN: Good to be with you.

BLITZER: A Congressman lets loose on the house floor.

CHARLIE RANGEL, NEW YORK: Well, I'm 80 years old, and I don't want the die before the hearing.

BLITZER: New York's Charles Rangel says he is not going anywhere and he is challenging his colleagues to kick him off.

And a flight attendant who walks off of the job in the most unusual way. Jeanne Moos is on the story.


BLITZER: A defiant speech on the house floor by New York Congressman Charlie Rangel facing 13 counts of ethics violation. The 20-term Democrat is facing bipartisan calls for his resignation, but he said flatly he is not going anywhere and he challenged his fellow lawmakers to kick him out.

RANGEL: Hey, I'm 80 years old. All of my life has been from the beginning, public service. That's all I have ever done. Been in the army, been a state legislator, been a federal prosecutor, 40 years here, and all I'm saying is that if it is the judgment of people here for whatever reason that I resign, then, heck, have the ethics committee expedite this. Don't leave me swinging in the wind until November. If this is an emergency, and I think it is, to help our local and state governments out, what about me? I don't want anybody to feel embarrassed or awkward. Hey, if I were you maybe I wanted me to go away, too, but I am not going away.

BLITZER: Let's talk about this with CNN's John King. He is the host of "JOHN KING USA" which begins at the top of the hour. Is Charlie Rangel getting a fair shake right now?

JOHN KING, CNN ANCHOR: It is a tough question to answer, because the ethics process is so secretive and they are not supposed to talk about it. Those familiar with the process say remember if you go back over the months when this case was building, that the investigation was expanded several times as more allegations came in. There was what they call forensic accounting getting the tax records and the accounting records, and they say they have handled it as delicately and as smartly as they would like to. But there is a broader point here, Wolf, Democrats are furious at what happened today, Charlie Rangel using a point of personal privilege that a house member is entitled to use to go to the floor to make this case. Democrats wanted today to be about the jobs bill you were just talking about, them coming back into an emergency session. They wanted to project a message in this campaign year that we came back from our break, we did something important for teachers and firefighters, and instead, what are we talking about tonight and what was on all of the cable networks this afternoon, Charlie Rangel talking about an ethics investigation. It is a cloud over the Democrats. BLITZER: And Maxine Waters was on a radio show talking about her ethical problems as well.

KING: So, there is great frustration with the Democrats when they want to be fine-tuning their message for what they know is a very difficult year to begin with, and two of their senior members who have ethics controversies are out there talking about them. Now Charlie Rangel and Maxine Waters are innocent until proven guilty. They have every right to make their case, but there are a lot of Democrats frustrated with the bigger process saying, why weren't both of these cases dealt with weeks if not months ago, but adding then to it, they want their friends, Charlie Rangel, Maxine Waters to may of them friends, to just please be quiet about this, because when they talk about their own cases, every second spent on that is not a second spent on the Democrats dealing with the tough economic political environment.

BLITZER: You can't blame them for wanting to defend their honor and their integrity and their reputations.

KING: Well, Congressman Rangel has a primary coming up, and a lot of people saw that today was a sign he is nervous.

BLITZER: We will see what happens in Harlem. All right. I know you will have more coming up on "JOHN KING USA." Thanks John.

The manhunt for an escaped convict is fueling a new political debate in Arizona. Could more prison breaks in the state now be on the way?

And a flight attendant swears at a passenger then abruptly quits his job. Why he has now gone viral online.

Stay with us. You're in THE SITUATION ROOM.


BLITZER: The manhunt continues for a remaining convicted killer who escaped from an Arizona prison and now there's potential political fallout with the incident becoming an issue in the Arizona governor's race. Brian Todd is working the story for us. Explain what is going on Brian.

BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, the state's Democratic attorney general, his name is Terry Goddard, he accuses Republican governor Jan Brewer of pushing too hard to privatize too many of the state's prisons. That facility in Kingman, Arizona where the inmates escaped is a private facility, and when I spoke to Terry Goddard he said this about the push to make the prisons privately-run.


TERRY GODDARD (D), ARIZONA ATTORNEY GENERAL: So when you put these very high-risk, very violent offenders into a private situation which is designed to operate for a profit, and that means they are going to cut costs wherever they can, we are putting the public safety at risk, and that is impermissible.


TODD: Now Goddard is running for governor himself, and he will likely oppose Governor Brewer in the election this fall, and he said he is not against privatizing all prisons, but he says this push to privatize so many of them, means that convicted murders like the three who escaped the Kingman facility are placed in some medium and minimum security jails. That facility is a medium security prison. Governor Brewer could not do an on camera interview for us but her spokesman sent us an email saying, "The attorney general is clearly being forced to make these reckless and irresponsible statements at the behest of the union bosses who back him politically and demand that he attempt to politically exploit this terrible tragedy." Goddard denies that he is acting on behalf of the unions. The governor's spokesman says they are not cutting prison spending and he says the state system of placing prisoners was actually used by the former Democratic governor Janet Napolitano who is currently homeland security secretary. And now Arnert Gaston who is a college professor who once ran New York's Riker's Island prison, he says private prisons can be effective but when I spoke with him he told me he wouldn't let guards at private jails watch violent offenders.


TODD: What could they not do?

PROF. ARNETT GASTON, UNIVERSITY OF MARYLAND: They could not arrest, they could affect an arrest, they were not empowered. They may not have sufficient training in arrest procedure. They may not sufficient training in escape prevention, riot techniques, responsibilities, responses to emergency situations that could require physical force up to and including deadly physical force.


TODD: Now Gaston says that it is imperative that guards have all of the training and certification as so-called peace officers, Wolf.

BLITZER: Well, do they have that training in Arizona?

TODD: We spoke to an official from the department of corrections who says that the state's private facilities the guards do not have that certification and they cannot make arrests. Now the guards at the state facilities can arrest escapees. This official did say that the guards at private jails do have the same training as the state correctional officers including training on how to deal with riots and they said they dealt with that successfully recently. They believe that the guards at this facility were adequately trained, but they acknowledge there was a human error that day.

BLITZER: Yes, thank you, Brian for that.

Lisa Sylvester is monitoring some of the other top stories in THE SITUATION ROOM right now. What else is going on? LISA SYLVESTER, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Hi Wolf. Well, an economic comeback is definitely not what the Federal Reserve would call it. The fed reported today a slower paced recovery in U.S. output and job growth will give the economy a modest boost in the near future, very modest. The fed also reiterated the importance of keeping the interest rates close to zero for an extended period of time to spur lending.

Pakistani officials say they have a disaster of enormous magnitude on their hands as flooding in the region has killed at least 1,200 people. Those fleeing are Afghan refugees living in shelters. Officials say that 14 million people have been affected, well over the number affected by the 2005 south Asia tsunami.

An oil leak has finally been stopped off of the coast of western India, three days after two ships collided. The tilted vessels spilled more than 50 gallons of oil and several shipping containers. Officials have suspended traffic into busy ports of Mumbai and are warning businesses that high tides could wash that oil ashore.

And old adage, a minute on the lips, a lifetime on the hips takes on dangerous meaning. A new study of more than 100,000 people found those with the biggest waistlines had double the risk of dying of heart disease and cancer. Doctors say you can easily reduce the chance of developing belly fat by cutting down on refined and processed carbohydrates. Always good to hear healthy advice, Wolf.

BLITZER: Good advice indeed but you have a good excuse for little belly fat, right, Lisa?

SYLVESTER: A little bit. I'm not sure how much of it is fat and how much of it is baby, but that baby is due any day now, Wolf.

BLITZER: If we don't see you here tomorrow we'll know why.

SYLVESTER: You'll know why.

BLITZER: All right. Lisa Sylvester is ready for an excellent, excellent moment, and keep us up to date on shall we say the breaking news. Thank you.

There is another way to follow what is going on in THE SITUATION ROOM, by the way. I'm on Twitter and I will tweet Lisa Sylvester's developments once those developments happen. You can get my tweets at That is all one word on Twitter.

How much money makes you rich? Jack Cafferty is standing by with your e-mail.

And a flight attendant loses it at the job, and now he is facing some very serious legal trouble over the way he quit. And CNN's Jeanne Moos takes a most unusual look.


BLITZER: Back to Jack for the Cafferty file. Jack? JACK CAFFERTY, CNN CORRESPONDENT: The question this hour is how much money makes you rich?

Jim writes, "Enough to live comfortably with good health and a happy family. That's rich. Jack it's too bad that so many idiots out there don't realize it until it's too late. America has become a materialistic society that's spoiled and fat and lazy. Kind of reminds me of Rome. I wonder what's next."

Ray in Nashville, Tennessee, "Just enough to buy Congress, Jack, just enough to buy Congress."

Lewis in Tennessee, "Enough to pay bills each month, buy food, save some each payday and maybe splurge on something every few weeks. I'm rich."

Steve in Guam, "For people my age, 26, I think we've all come to terms with the fact we'll work our entire lives. I will never be rich. The gap between upper class and middle-class has grown so far that it's now unobtainable."

Mark writes, "Whatever amount of money it would take to enable me to take a four day trip to Spain and back would probably cover it."

Rodney in Arkansas, "I don't know about specific dollar amounts but I consider myself very rich. I can keep up my monthly payments on a house, two cars and a few credit cards. I can go out to eat if I want to. I can buy an iPod or a large screen TV. I have more than I need. I should try to help out those who don't have so much."

Jane in Wisconsin, "Rich is an arbitrary number. If you make $50,000, $100,000 is rich to you. If you make $20,000, $50,000 is rich. People who I consider rich are Hollywood celebrities, professional athletes, news anchors, CEOs of companies, et cetera. Somebody making $250,000 is by no means rich."

Nina writes, "Bad question Jack. These days you ought to be asking how much money makes you poor."

And Jane another one in California says, "Having enough money to not have to worry about having enough money."

If you want to read more you'll find it on my blog on

BLITZER: Jane's got a good definition there. See you tomorrow. Jack thank you.

John King coming up at the top of the hour. John talks to the Republican and the Democratic candidates in Pennsylvania's very heated race for the U.S. Senate. That's coming up.

And it was a dramatic and most unusual end to his career. Our Jeanne Moos is following the flight attendant gone viral.


BLITZER: Here's a look at some hot shots.

In western France, visitors marvel at giant sculptures in the valley of the saints. The saints are legendary saints from Great Britain.

In Pakistan, flood survivors prepare a meal on the side of the road. Look at this.

In Jakarta, Indonesia, the woman prays on the first night of the Muslim holy month of Ramadan.

And in Moscow, a dog wears a mask to protect against the forest fire smoke affecting the city. Hot shots, pictures worth a thousand words.

He's a most unusual flight attendant. Now his abrupt and dramatic career exit is winning him a lot of fans. Here's CNN's Jeanne Moos.


JEANNE MOOS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Fasten your seatbelt Steven Slater. Faster than a cross country flight he went from flight attendant to ...

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Steven Slater, he's an American hero.

MOOS: With his own ballad.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Never felt irate. Won't you get irater. Well, my friends we have a hero now, Steven Slater.

MOOS: Reporters asked him --

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Why are you smiling?

MOOS: He made us smile when he went ballistic on the airplane intercom.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: To the blanking blanking who told me to blank off.

MOOS: He's even swearing in Taiwanese. Already immortalized in an animation, his name flitted around Twitter, my hero, free Steven Slater. If the sly don't glide give him a free ride. It was if freedom network met Jerry McGuire.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I'm going do what you all think I'm going to do which is just flip out.

MOOS: On a double bill playing aboard Airplane Two.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We're also out of coffee. MOOS: But in Slater's case it was grabbing beer on his way out that captivated everyone and had morning hosts fantasizing in song and the Daily Beast called Slater the new Sully. The Washington Post coined the phrase pulling a Slater saying we all dream of activating an escape slide. Talk about an exit. When reporters asked his attorney why Slater took the slide, he answered, because it was right there. Even his ex-wife came to his defense.

CYNTHIA SUSANNE, SLATER'S EX-WIFE: Definitely has the Joan of arc of the flight world right now.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You sound like you like him a lot for an ex-wife.

SUSANNE: He's fantastic. He's wonderful.

MOOS: But even wonderful people snap like in the Nicoderm commercial.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Stop it! Stop it, stop it, stop it. The last time I tried to quick smoking -- only two carry-on items.

MOOS: Passengers seeking a moment of Zen from the indignities of flying might appreciate this pillow flight. It's been a long time since flying felt light as a feather.

Jeanne Moos, CNN, New York.


BLITZER: You're going to want to join us here in THE SITUATION ROOM tomorrow. I'll be speaking with the president's national security adviser, the retired U.S. Marine Corps General James Jones. Remember also this. You can follow what's going on here in THE SITUATION ROOM. I'm on Twitter. You can get my tweets at WolfBlitzerCNN all one word. You can follow THE SITUATION ROOM on Facebook. Go to

That's it for me. I'm Wolf Blitzer in THE SITUATION ROOM. "JOHN KING, USA" starts right now.