Up next on News 7--
Fed Chairman Alan Greenspan is urging Congress to cut some benefits for FUTURE Social Security recipients.
And, a jury is considering the fate of a former Giles County minister accused of child molestation.
We'll have a live report.
Sunny and cool today with a few more clouds tomorrow, could we see a little snow late tomorrow. I'll let you know in your forecast.
Stay with us News 7 at noon, starts right now.
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Baby boomers may see their Social Security checks get smaller, years before they plan to retire.
Fed Chairman Alan Greenspan says the retirement of large numbers of Baby Boomers in a few years will make the deficit picture a lot worse.
And he's telling Congress it should cut future Social Security benefits, instead of raise taxes.
However, Greenspan says benefits paid to current retirees should not be affected.
He says if benefits are trimmed for FUTURE retirees, it should be done well before the money is needed, so that people can plan.
Meanwhile, Congress isn't expected to touch the issue this year, because of the upcoming election.
U-S military officials confirm the deaths of two soldiers today in a chopper crash.
This is the 15th chopper the U-S military has lost in the Iraqi campaign.
Officials say the helicopter went down in a river, about 120 miles from Baghdad.
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[IN Q=It is not known]
((BRIG. GEN. MARK KIMMITT/CHIEF SPOKESMAN FOR U.S. FORCES IN IRAQ: IT IS NOT KNOWN IF THE ACCIDENT WAS DUE TO MECHANICAL DIFFICULTY, ENEMY FIRE, OR ANOTHER POTENTIAL REASON. THE SISTER SHIP ESCORTING THE AIRCRAFT DID NOT OBSERVE ENEMY FIRE AND AN INVESTIGATION IS UNDERWAY TO DETERMINE THE CAUSE OF THE ACCIDENT. ))
[SUPER=01-Brig. Gen. Mark Kimmitt/Chief Spokesman for U.S. Forces in Iraq;]
[OUT Q=of the accident]
Meanwhile, a roadside bomb near Falluja destroyed two U-S vehicles travelling in a convoy early today.
It's not clear yet if there were any casualties from that incident.
((KIM TOSS TO LEO))
LEO in WX-CENTER
(LEO TOSS to KIM)
[TAPE#=1:38:35 on 03-52]
At this hour, a jury is deciding if a former Giles County minister is guilty of molesting several children.
53 year old Roger Holcomb faces four counts of aggravated sexual battery and two counts of taking indecent liberties with a child.
[GILES COUNTY DOUBLE BOXES=Kimberly/Rachel/STARLINK;]
Rachel DePompa has been following the case. She joins us from outside the Giles County Courthouse in Pearisburg.
Rachel, how long has the jury had the case?
[ENG#=ROLLED FROM THE TRUCK.]
[Gile County DOUBLE BOXES=Kimberly/Rachel;]
The Supreme Court is drawing a bolder line between church and state when it comes to students.
The court is allowing states to withhold scholarships from theology students -- even if the money is available to students who study just about anything else.
The seven-to-two ruling says Washington state had the right to deny a taxpayer-funded scholarship to a college student who was studying to become a minister.
The ruling could affect President Bush's plan to allow more church-based groups to compete for government money. The administration had argued the state was wrong to deny the scholarship.
The dissenting justices say the student's treatment amounted to discrimination against a religious minority.
[TAPE#=04-03 TC 26:18]
Mel Gibson's film, "The Passion of the Christ" opened to the general public today.
Some have said the depiction of the execution of Jesus is anti-semitic.
Justin McLeod spoke to some movie goers in Roanoke last night to get their opinion of the controversial film.
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[SUPER=04-The Passion of the Christ; :00]
[SUPER=01-Rev. Chris Lewis/First Baptist Church of Roanoke; :14]
[SUPER=01-Rabbi Manes Kogan/Beth Israel Synagogue; :57]
[SUPER=01-Kathy Chittum/Grandin Theatre; 1:20]
[OUT Q=JM, News 7]
((((NAT SOUND OF THE FILM))
The Passion of the Christ depicts the last twelve hours of Jesus' life.
It is a film one local minister says is a must see.
[IN Q=It was just an experience]
((REV. CHRIS LEWIS/FIRST BAPTIST CHURCH ROANOKE: IT WAS JUST AN EXPERIENCE THAT YOU LEAVE THE THEATER WITH THE QUESTION ON YOUR MIND WHAT DO I DO WITH WHAT I JUST EXPERIENCED.))
[OUT Q=I JUST EXPERIENCED]
An experience Rev Lewis admits is intense.
The movie is considered the most graphic depiction of Christ's death ever put on film.
But it's not the violence that is getting all the attention, it's whether the movie is anti-semitic.
[IN Q=I tried to watch]
((REV. CHRIS LEWIS/FIRST BAPTIST CHURCH OF ROANOKE: I TRIED TO WATCH THE FILM WITH THE ALL THE CRITICISMS IN THE BACK OF MY MIND AND I JUST SIMPLY DIDN'T SEE ANY TYPE OF ANTI SEMITIC MESSAGE.))
[OUT Q=anti-semitic message]
But some believe the movie blames Jews for Christ's death.
One local rabbi who hasn't the seen film but knows enough of the controversy fears not the message of the movie but rather the reaction to it.
[IN Q=People who will be]
((RABBI MANES KOGAN/BETH ISRAEL SYNAGOGUE: PEOPLE WHO WILL BE EXPOSED TO THE MOVIE WILL HAVE A DIFFICULTY UNDERSTANDING THAT OTHER PEOPLE HAVE THE RIGHT TO BELIEVE DIFFERENTLY.))
[OUT Q=to believe differently]
Rabbi Kogan hasn't decide whether he'll see the movie.
But plenty of people in the Roanoke Valley have decided to see it.
The Grandin Theater has sold over 400 advance tickets.
[IN Q=It's huge]
((KATHY CHITTUM/GRANDIN THEATER: IT'S HUGE. WE'VE PROBABLY HAD OVER 20 CHURCHES CALL US TO FIND OUT IF THEY CAN RENT OUT SPECIAL SHOWS.))
[OUT Q=RENT OUT SPECIAL SHOWS]))
Gibson's film is powerful enough to convince one man to PAY to see it in the movie theater.. something he hasn't done in 52 years.
The Reverend Jerry Falwell says he's boycotted Hollywood movies since the early 50's.
He's making an exception for "The Passion" and he's urging his congregation to go as well.
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[IN Q=Because I want]
((REV. JERRY FALWELL/LIBERTY U. CHANCELLOR: BECAUSE I WANT THIS TO BE A BLOCKBUSTER TO SAY THANK YOU TO MEL GIBSON FOR REFUSING TO ALTER HIS STRONG BELIEFS IN THE GOSPEL ACCOUNTS OF THE PRICE THAT CHRIST PAID FOR OUR SINS.))
[SUPER=01-Rev. Jerry Falwell/Liberty University Chancellor]
[OUT Q=paid for our sins.]
A number of churches including Falwell's have rented out blocks of seats at local movie theaters that will be showing the film.
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Coming up next on the newscast, a prison fire forces the evacuation of 100 inmates.
Also the defense has rested in the case of Domestic Diva Martha Stewart. We'll latest from New York after the break.
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[COMM BREAK #1]
The death toll has risen to 560 in the aftermath of yesterday's strong earthquake in Morroco.
The Red Cross says that number could rise even higher because of aftershocks and poor rescue equipment.
Rescue workers with dogs are looking for survivors, but the head of Morocco's emergency response unit is doubtful they'll find any.
Meanwhile, thousands of those who did survive the six-point-five magnitude earthquake are now homeless.
The Red Cross is hoping to raise more than two million dollars for tents, blankets, heaters and food.
A fire at a New Jersey prison forced the evacuation of nearly 100 inmates today.
The blaze broke out a little after four a-m at several temporary trailers at the East Jersey State Prison, forcing inmates to be transferred to the main prison facility.
All of the prisoners are accounted for, and none was injured.
The cause of the fire is under investigation, but authorities believe it was electrical.
The defense has rested in the trial of Martha Stewart.
Only one witness was called to the stand, and it wasn't Stewart.
Sharyn Alfonsi has more.
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[SUPER=03-New York, NY;]
[OUT Q=Alfonsi, for CBS News.]
Martha Stewart paused for photographers on her way into court Wednesday.
The domestic diva's days of striding up the steps here are
now numbered as her case comes to a close.
(Nats: Stewart Arrival)
Confident of an aquittal, Stewarts attorney Robert Morvillo says he
may only put two witnessses on the stand...and Martha Stewart won't be
among them. Steven Pearl, a former Stewart lawyer could help the
domestic diva clear up the obstruction of justice and making false
statement charges ...with his testimony.
At issue whether or not Stewart tried to hide an important phone message
from Investigators. Ann Armstrong, Stewarts assistant testified that
days before Stewart met with investigators her boss, stood over her
desk, took over her computer and altered a phone message that read
"Peter Bacanovic thinks ImClone is going to start trading downward."
Armstrong testified, Stewart then ordered her to change it back.
Days later when Stewart spoke to investigators....FBI agent Katherine
Farmer testified that Stewart told her she didn't know if such a message
existed. Steven Pearl is expected to testify (wild line: testified) that
his notes prove it was another attorney- NOT STEWART- who gave that
SHARYN ALFONSI REPORTING/Bridge: The defense has already asked the
judge to throw out the more serious charge of securities fraud. One the
judge herself, as called "novel" and "problematic".
A ruling on that moment is expected anytime. With
attorneys for Peter Bacanovic, Stewarts former stockbroker and
co-defendant, only calling 5 witness and Stewart's attorneys saying they
could finish dishing out her defense in just 15 minutes...Meaning
jurors may be deciding the fate of America's most famous homemaker as
early as Monday.
In New York, Sharyn Alfonsi for CBS News.
A company says Radford city council has turned down the potential of bringing a dozen new jobs to the city.
New River Industries thought it had finally found a real prospect for its old plant on main street.
The building has been sitting empty for 4-years.
Concept One wanted the land rezoned so it could create a private school for troubled 15 to 17 year olds.
Monday night a Radford city council member made a motion to approve the rezoning, but no one would second it... basically denying the request.
An N-R-I spokesperson calls the decision short sighted.
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[IN Q=The fact that ]
((KEN EHRHARDT: THE FACT THAT THE ZONING DISCUSSION WOULD PREEMPT ANYONE FROM BRINGING IN 60 TO 100 JOBS TO THE AREA FOR THE A LONG HAUL COMMITMENT IS UNCONCIOUABLE. I DON'T KNOW HOW THEY COULD DO THAT.))
[SUPER=01-Ken Ehrhardt/New River Industries;]
[OUT Q=they could do that.]
Several Radford council members expressed concerns all along with losing a prime industrial site.
Ehrhardt says Concept-One has left Radford and won't continue negotiating for the building.
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Coming up next, we'll see a baby's first steps,
but these feet are way too big for any booties. Stay with us.
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[COMM BREAK #2]
Taking your first steps is never easy, especially when so many people are watching--
[SUPER=03-San Diego, CA;]
This baby elephant is the subject of a lot of curiosity.
He wouldn't even be alive if his mother hadn't been rescued from an early death six months ago.
The 13-year-old African elephant was one of seven elephants in Swaziland that were scheduled to be killed because of overpopulation.
Now that she's safe and sound in California, she was able to give birth to the 250-pound bundle of joy.
On Wall Street at Noon, the DOW was UP ten points. The NASDAQ has gained four.
[SPORTS MUSIC UNDER]
Up next in the sports, John Elway is going back to work, this time making furniture.
And the Cavaliers give coach Pete Gillen a little more security as they defeat the Tar Heels.
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[COMM BREAK #3]
The Virginia Cavaliers men's basketball team hosted North Carolina last night.
Most believed that Pete Gillen had to beat 12th ranked North Carolina last night, or the show was over.
But the show is never over when you can shoot from the outside, and Roanoke's J.R. Reynolds did a great job in the first half of keeping UVa within shouting distance of the 12th ranked TarHeels.
JR had 14 points and Devin Smith hit for 20 points.
But the man was once again Todd Billet.
Down by a point with under 15 seconds to play - Billet ripped another three- point game winner.
[super=33-North Carolina #12/72/Virginia/74;]
UVa kicks up its Heels at Carolina's expense, beating UNC 74 to 72.
The basketball program at Liberty University is in some elite company. It is one of only four schools whose men's and women's basketball programs are at top their conferences.
Steve Mason has more.
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[SUPER=01-Randy Dunton/Liberty Men's Basketball Coach; :15]
[SUPER=01-Carey Green/Liberty Women's Basketball Coach; :30]
[SUPER=01-Crystal Peace/Liberty Women's Guard; 1:02]
[SUPER=01-David Dees/Liberty Flames Guard; 1:24]
[OUT Q=..... News 7 sports"][S-Randall]
The Hampden-Sydney Tigers won the ODAC men's basketball title and in the process earned an invitation to the NCAA tournament next month.
[SUPER=03-Salem/Last Night; :00]
One of the keys was the play of senior Brandon Randall - who pitched in 18 points and earned all-tournament honors.
Randall was the high scorer in the game or on his team - but no one hit more key buckets than the senior from Williamsburg.
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[SUPER=01-Brandon Randall/Hampden-Sydney Senior; :03]
[OUT Q=....GOING TO HESITATE."]
Randall - is the brother of Tech quarterback and shooting guard Bryan Randall who was in attendance Monday night along with their parents Edgar and Belinda Randall.
Brandon says his close knit family gives him energy on the court.
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[IN Q=I CAN...]
[OUT Q=...an encouraging me."]
Randall who is a straight A student majoring in Physics at Hampden-Sydney is also a Rhodes Scholar candidate.
John Elway was never known to relax during his playing days - now that he's retired, that's a different matter.
[SUPER=03-Denver, CO/1998; :00]
Yesterday the former Denver Bronco joined forces with Henry County-based Bassett Furniture.
Elway will have his own line of furniture known as "Elway Home."
It will feature an array of home entertainment centers, reclining sofas, sectionals and chairs.
The line of furniture will be unveiled in October in High Point at the annual furniture market.
A downtown Roanoke landmark could be percolating in a new location by the end of the year.
The H&C Coffee sign has long been the focus of a renovation campaign but the official fundraising began today.
In November, Roanoke City Council approved an ordinance for Downtown Roanoke, Inc. to move the sign from the top of Billy's Ritz to the Shenandoah Hotel nearby.
The sign needs extensive repairs before it can be relit.
But once the work starts DRI says it could be completed in a matter of months.
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[SOT 1:09 - 1:19]
[IN Q=Because I'd really like to see...]
((DAVID DIAZ/PRESIDENT, DOWNTOWN ROANOKE, INC.: BECAUSE I'D REALLY LIKE TO SEE THIS UP BY NEW YEAR'S EVE. LET'S HAVE A PARTY OR SOMETHING. BUT TO HAVE IT RUNNING BY THE END OF THE YEAR IS VERY AMBITIOUS.))
[SUPER=01-David Diaz/Downtown Roanoke, Inc., President;]
[OUT Q=end of the year is very ambitious.]
Organizers estimate they'll need 170-thousand dollars to restore and relocate the sign and create an endowment fund to keep it working.
A steering committee comprised of volunteers will determine how the money will be raised.
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