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AMERICAN MORNING

Suspect Named in Ohio Shootings; Interview With Radek Sikorski; Unitarian Ministers in New Paltz, New York, Face Criminal Charges for Conducting Same-Sex Marriages; A Year in Iraq

Aired March 16, 2004 - 9:00   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.

SOLEDAD O'BRIEN, CNN ANCHOR: An all-out search for one man in Ohio named by police as the prime suspect in a string of highway shootings.
Authorities in Spain bringing in more suspects in the Madrid train bombings and possibly uncovering an intricate web of terror in Morocco.

And it was just like any other spec in the sky, until it moved. Now tiny Send is changing what we know about the far reaches of the solar system.

Those stories all ahead on this AMERICAN MORNING.

ANNOUNCER: From the CNN Broadcast Center in New York, this is AMERICAN MORNING with Soledad O'Brien and Bill Hemmer.

BILL HEMMER, CNN ANCHOR: All right. Good morning. Great to have you with us. Nine o'clock here in New York.

Stories this hour, authorities trying to stop same-sex marriages now by going after the ministers. We'll talk to two Unitarian clergy members who could face criminal charges for what they did in the small town of New Plats, New York, north of New York City in the Hudson Valley.

O'BRIEN: Also this morning, a man awarded $20 million in damages for what he said happened to him at a popcorn factory. We'll hear his story. And it's a case that's changing everything that we thought we knew about the safety of processed butter flavoring.

HEMMER: Yes, bizarre story. And a lot of cash, too.

O'BRIEN: Right. Opening the door for another 29 cases that follow his.

HEMMER: All right. Also, Jack cafferty with us.

Good morning, Jack.

JACK CAFFERTY, CNN ANCHOR: Hello there.

Should John Kerry reveal the names of the leaders that supposedly have told him how much they hope he defeats President Bush in the upcoming election? Big brouhaha going on about that -- am@cnn.com if you want to write.

HEMMER: Like a ping pong ball, huh? Back and forth the last several days.

Top stories now top of the hour. Another U.S. civilian dead in Iraq. A fourth American civilian died overnight from wounds sustained in a drive-by shooting in Mosul yesterday. A fifth is being treated at a U.S. military hospital. The victims worked for a religious based group here in the U.S.

California, police are looking for more evidence in a bizarre mass killing in Fresno. Yesterday, officers removed a dozen empty coffins from the home where they had found the bodies last Friday. The coroner says all nine had been shot to death. Police have a suspect in custody. Marcus Wesson faces an arraignment hearing tomorrow in California.

Grammy-winning pop singer Whitney Houston entering a drug rehab facility. Houston's publicist says the singer checked into a rehab center last night. No other details available now. In a 2002 TV interview, the 40-year-old singer admitted to using drugs in the past.

A late winter storm dropping more than a foot of snow across sections of the plains. In Nebraska, heavy snow made driving almost impossible there. Forecasters say the storm expected to move to the Northeast today. Pennsylvania first, then New York expected to be hit the hardest. What time it starts coming down is something we're all watching the skies for.

(WEATHER REPORT)

O'BRIEN: Police have a suspect in the Ohio highway shootings. They're looking for Charles McCoy Jr. They say he is armed and dangerous. But authorities didn't say how they connected McCoy to the shootings.

Sean Callebs is live from Columbus, Ohio for us this morning.

Sean, good morning.

SEAN CALLEBS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Good morning, Soledad.

Indeed, in recent weeks, authorities had described the suspected shooter as someone who would become more brazen in his attempts. And now, for the first time, authorities have identified the subject, 28- year-old Charles McCoy.

Now, people in the Columbus area woke up to this headline today: "Wanted," with the grainy picture of the suspect right underneath it. He is 28 years old, 5'7", weighs 185 pounds and drives a green Chevy Metro. And all of that is important because it fits the description that a handful of eyewitnesses at the various shooting scenes have described.

Now, McCoy lives with his mother. And apparently authorities had him under surveillance last Friday. That is the last time that he was seen for sure. There could have been some in the interim, but they aren't quite sure about that at this point. Sheriff's deputies also chose to go public with this information at this time after published reports show that apparently the shootings were linked by ballistic information from some guns that authorities had seized from McCoy's father.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

CHIEF DEP. STEVE MARTIN, FRANKLIN COUNTY SHERIFF'S DEPT.: The most important thing, and the reason that we wanted to get this out, which we've done throughout this investigation, is to notify the public and you guys from the media and to get this information out as soon as possible. That is the key issue for us right now, is to locate this guy. When we do, we'll give you some additional information. But right now, that's the only information I'm going to give.

QUESTION: Why are you saying he's armed and dangerous?

MARTIN: Because we believe he bought another gun. That's why.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CALLEBS: A somewhat animated news conference at times yesterday. Now, throughout this investigation, authorities have always said they believed that the shooter lives in this vicinity, the area of 270, just south of the city. And indeed, McCoy lives basically right in the heart of the area that has been terrorized since May of last year. Twenty-four shootings in all, including one fatality, November 25th, 62-year-old Gayle Knisley was killed when she was driving as a passenger in a car.

Soledad, back to you.

O'BRIEN: Sean Callebs with an update on that case. interesting to see how quickly they are able to round up this young man. Thanks, Sean. Appreciate it.

Bill?

HEMMER: To Spain now, where authorities say they arrested an Algeria man in connection with the train bombings on Thursday in Madrid. Officials also believe they have the names of as many as eight Moroccan men who carried bombs on to those trains.

One man in custody has links to suicide attacks in Casablanca from last May. And those attacks, which killed about three dozen, have been tied to Al Qaeda. All told, authorities are holding six people: the Algerian, three Moroccans, and two Indians.

President Bush, meanwhile, has spoken by phone with the incoming Spanish prime minister who swept to power Sunday. Both men promised yesterday to continue the fight against terrorism. But a White House spokes person says the future of Spanish troops in Iraq was not talked about yesterday. Radek Sikorski is with the American Enterprise Institute, once holding several high-level positions in the Polish government in Warsaw. Our guest now from D.C.

Nice to have you. Good morning to you.

Want to get some European reaction on this. The European commissioner yesterday, the chief, Romano Prodi, said -- and I'm quoting now -- "It's clear that using force is not the answer to resolving the conflict with terrorists."

I'm not quite sure if he's referring to Madrid or Iraq or both in general. But your response to what was said there?

RADEK SIKORSKI, AMERICAN ENTERPRISE INSTITUTE: These are outrageous remarks. As a European, I'm embarrassed and angry. Mr. Prodi talks about a conflict with terrorists. This is criminal activity.

Almost 200 Europeans have just been murdered in Madrid, and the correct response to go after the terrorists and punish them for what they've done and not talk about not using violence. I believe that Mr. Prodi wants to be the prime minister of Italy. What Al Qaeda is hearing is, get rid of Mr. Berlusconi, a democratically-elected government of Italy, and when I come in I'll make a deal with you.

HEMMER: How deep is this debate now developing between what's happening on the European continent and what we're hearing here in the U.S.?

SIKORSKI: It's very serious. Spain is defecting to the group of countries that wants to build a European Europe. That would be a counterweight to the United States. The implications of this are well beyond Iraq. We are a step closer to a socialist anti-American Europe.

HEMMER: Wow. That is a heck of a statement there.

There's also conservative umbrella group known as the European People's Party, quoting -- saying what happened in Spain last Thursday will, "go down as the day when Islamic fundamentalism was seen as dictating the outcome of a European election." Is this what happened here?

SIKORSKI: Well, it's the second European election, which turned on the Iraq war. The first one was in Germany. And, of course, this is a very worrying trend. And everybody should examine its conscience schuss about having done everything possible to prevent it.

I'm afraid there have been also failures of American diplomacy. Europeans, many of them do not feel that Iraq is their war, and that's because the war has not been promoted. Aims establishing democracy in Iraq and other aims of this war have not been sold to the American public by the U.S.

HEMMER: Help us understand this, though. You made a comment to our producers last night saying European politicians will now see that being close as an ally with the U.S. is not a good thing politically. It's not good at the ballot box. What are the implications of that statement if, indeed, that's true?

SIKORSKI: Well, as I said, two European countries have already -- forces that oppose the U.S. won because of the Iraq war. Other politicians will no doubt notice.

Where I come from in Poland, the opposition is even more pro- American fortunately than the government. But I think the U.S. needs to make an investment in its alliance with those countries that have been helpful to it. I think, for example, military assistance to the New NATO members would be very well received and would shore up the U.S. position.

HEMMER: One final question. Donald Rumsfeld just about a year ago made this comment about the old Europe and the New Europe. He put Poland, your home country, in the New Europe. We had comments yesterday saying that old Europe has now won with the election results in Spain. Is there now a split that you can see discernibly in Europe today?

SIKORSKI: The balance of power between forces that are comfortable with American leadership and those that are -- that would like to create a Europe that is a counterweight to the U.S. have shifted. This is very serious. Spain has been a pivotal country. And something should be done to counterbalance this.

HEMMER: Nice to talk to you. Radek Sikorski, a very intimate view of what's happening in Europe, and as we reflect on that back here in our own country. Appreciate it. Thank you, sir.

SIKORSKI: Thank you.

O'BRIEN: Still to come this morning, popcorn doesn't seem dangerous certainly, but a jury decided that working in a popcorn factory could be. We'll tell you about a worker who won a $20 million judgment.

HEMMER: Also, a pair of Unitarian ministers taking a stand on same-sex marriage now have to face the law. They will join to us talk about it in a moment.

O'BRIEN: And there's something out there in our solar system beyond Pluto. We've got details about the discovery just ahead on AMERICAN MORNING.

Stay with us.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

O'BRIEN: Testimony continues today in the Jayson Williams trial. The former NBA star charged with manslaughter in the shooting death of a limo driver back in February of 2002. More testimony heard yesterday, dramatic at times from the players from the Harlem Globetrotters. Paul "Showtime" Gaffney said that he and a teammate checked the wounded man for a pulse. Gaffney and three other Globetrotters testifying with immunity, initially telling police that they were downstairs at the time of the shooting. They say Jayson Williams told them to say that -- Soledad.

O'BRIEN: Two Unitarian ministers in the village of New Paltz, New York, face criminal charges for conducting same-sex marriages. It is believed to be the first prosecution of clergy for performing such ceremonies. Similar charges were brought against Jason West; the major of New Paltz, after he presided over the state's first same-sex marriages last month.

Joining us this morning to talk about their case, ministers Kay Greenleaf and Dawn Sangrey, along with their attorney, Robert Gottlieb.

Good morning to all of you. Thanks for being with us.

Reverend Greenleaf, let's begin with you. As you well know, the mayor of New Paltz, a young gentleman, was stopped by the courts from continuing to go ahead with these same-sex marriages. Why did you then decide to step in?

KAY GREENLEAF, UNITARIAN MINISTER: Well, initially, my partner and I went to New Paltz because we wanted to be married by Mayor West. And since I was there, I told the people that were working with him that if it came to a point where there were too many couples wanting to be married and he needed some help, that I would be willing to volunteer to step in and perform some of the ceremonies.

O'BRIEN: Did you know that stepping in would be taking over essentially?

GREENLEAF: No, I did not. I did not know that. But when it became obvious to him that he needed to pull back, and they called me to let me know he was not going to be doing services, I said, "Well, I'll do them." And then I called Reverend Sangrey.

O'BRIEN: Were you worried, Reverend Sangrey, that as went the mayor so could you go as well, but you might be prosecuted? That you would be the next target?

DAWN SANGREY, UNITARIAN MINISTER: It wasn't something that I even thought about.

O'BRIEN: Really?

SANGREY: Yes. Kay asked me if I would come and help her marry some people who wanted to get married. And that was where I was coming from.

O'BRIEN: So when charges were filed, were you just absolutely shocked?

GREENLEAF: Well, no. Excuse me for jumping in here. O'BRIEN: Go ahead.

GREENLEAF: By that time we knew that this was a strong possibility. It was -- from the outset, we knew that it was potential. Because we both believed in what we were doing, that it's the right thing to do, we were willing to take that risk.

O'BRIEN: Mr. Gottlieb, how unusual is it for a D.A. to charge members of the clergy for performing same-sex marriages? And what's your legal leg to stand on? Because you know what? I hear them admitting they've done it.

ROBERT GOTTLIEB, ATTORNEY: Well, there's no question they did it. It's highly unusual. It's dangerous. It's offensive. It's shameful.

The fact of the matter is, these two incredible, wonderful ministers committed no crime. Same-sex marriages, religious ceremonies, have been going on for generations here in New York City and elsewhere.

O'BRIEN: But the civil ceremonies haven't.

GOTTLIEB: But there's really no distinction. Whether you get married in a church, a synagogue, or in city hall, every ceremony has a civil component. Marriage is marriage.

For a D.A. to decide to bring it into the criminal court has no place in this country. And I'll tell you why.

A D.A. -- I'm a form assistant district attorney right here iIn Manhattan. I ran for district attorney. I know that a D.A. -- and Mr. Williams, the D.A. knows he has the absolute discretion to decide, you know what? This belongs in civil court. This belongs in the legislature.

Don't abuse the criminal justice system by bringing him these incredible people, ministers, clergy, to have the community dare say that they're criminals. That -- it is offensive.

O'BRIEN: Has it surprised you, Reverend Greenleaf and Reverend Sangrey, just how vociferous and heated and hostile at times this debate has gotten?

GREENLEAF: I have really not felt much heat from it. My congregation is 100 percent behind what I'm doing. They agree that this is a stand that must be made. And they're quite pleased that I'm making the stand in it. Dawn has had the same reaction from her people.

O'BRIEN: Have they told you what potential fallout you could have? I mean, are we looking at time in prison if they're convicted on this?

GOTTLIEB: Well, sure. Any misdemeanor could bring one year in prison, plus fines. But you know what? That's not even the point. People should understand that when the D.A., who says he has no choice -- he's trying to take the moral stand, he has no choice if there was a crime committed in his view, there are crimes on the books such as adultery. It's a misdemeanor. It's a crime here in the state of New York.

And we said to Mr. Williams, the D.A., when we met with him last week, we dare think -- dare say that he knows people who have committed the crime of adultery. Friends, neighbor, other politicians. He's used his discretion and not prosecuted them. That's what he should have done here.

O'BRIEN: Well, we will see what ends up happening in this case. Attorney Robert Gottlieb, along with Reverend Kay Greenleaf, and also Reverend Sangrey, thanks for being with us. An interesting case, and obviously huge implications around the globe.

GOTTLIEB: Yes.

O'BRIEN: Bill?

HEMMER: Soledad, in a moment here, a new group of rock royalty. Last night, Prince among the many artists inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. Who else is on the new list? After the break.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

HEMMER: All right. And welcome back. Good "Question of the Day" with Jack.

CAFFERTY: The Bush administration wants John Kerry, who's running for president, to name these leaders who he, Kerry, claims want him to defeat President Bush. Yesterday, Vice President Dick Cheney said that when Senator Kerry was challenged at a campaign event over the last weekend to give names he said, "That's none of your business."

Mr. Cheney said Americans deserve to know who Senator Kerry is talking about. That's the question. Should John Kerry identify the leaders who he says want him to defeat President Bush?

Rafael in Atlanta, Georgia, says, "Senator Kerry need not be compelled to reveal his sources. Why? Because in the coming days, those sources will reveal themselves through the news in a de facto manner. Case in point, the recent Spanish elections."

Mike in New York writes: "When you put references on your resume, you should expect to have them checked. Even if these leaders do exist, their identities are of great interest to the American people."

Bobby in Fort Walton Beach, Florida: "Kerry should release any names of world leaders wishing for a Kerry victory when Cheney releases the attendees' minutes and files of the energy policy meetings."

Tit for tat. Fair is fair. We got a lot of those, by the way, saying that, where are the minutes and information from the energy meetings?

And finally, Terry in Omaha, Nebraska: "Yes, Kerry should reveal the names of the leaders who want Bush removed, and Bush should reveal the name of the person in the White House who outed the CIA agent."

O'BRIEN: Are you getting lots of those, too?

CAFFERTY: A few. Not as many as -- everybody remembers those energy meetings. I mean, it's interesting. That was what, three years ago, and we've gotten a lot of mail saying they never told us who was at those energy policy meetings.

HEMMER: You know, on the bigger issues, I think if you pay attention to the polling right now -- granted, seven and a half months away -- you're starting to see the weaknesses for President Bush and the weaknesses for Senator Kerry. They knock on the president for his economic policies; they knock on Senator Kerry for this whole issue of flip-flopping and wishy-washy on issues going one way one time and one way the next, which is how the White House tried to categorize him from the very beginning.

Remember the early days? You got to define your guy before he defines you.

CAFFERTY: Well. It's going to get pretty ugly probably in the next eight months.

HEMMER: Did we say potholes earlier?

CAFFERTY: I, for one, am looking forward to it.

HEMMER: Stay tuned.

From New York City last night, the artist formerly and now currently known as Prince also known as a Hall of Famer. Have a listen from last night here at the Waldorf.

(MUSIC)

HEMMER: Prince among the many inducted into the Hall of Fame last night -- Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. Also honored at the Waldorf last night, the late singer George Harrison, Jackson Browne, Bob Seger, the 50's doo-wop group The Dells, 60's jazz rockers Traffic, '70s blues rock band ZZ Top. They were the '80s, too, though.

Jann Wenner, co-founder of the Rolling Stone Magazine, getting together for an all star jam, which included Keith Richards and Kid Rock and Tom Petty. Pretty strong sound last night at the Waldorf here.

CAFFERTY: Isn't the Hall of Fame in Cleveland?

CAFFERTY: Would you get off it?

O'BRIEN: The industry people don't want to go to Cleveland. And I say that with great respect. They want to go to the Waldorf Astoria for the event.

HEMMER: Only for this, though.

CAFFERTY: Then why did they put the Hall of Fame in Cleveland?

HEMMER: There are two ceremonies.

O'BRIEN: Because the people want it to be in Cleveland and voted overwhelmingly.

HEMMER: There are two ceremonies.

O'BRIEN: The industry people. Am I right about that?

HEMMER: One in New York to get publicity, and one in Cleveland and do it. You're right, Soledad.

Jack, you see that right there? Tell it to the hand.

O'BRIEN: Oh, that was so cold.

Still to come this morning...

CAFFERTY: Do they have any openings at Fox?

O'BRIEN: ... a woman who was accused of murdering one of her unborn twins has entered her plea. We've got details on her story -- we've been following this for days now -- ahead.

Stay with us. You're watching AMERICAN MORNING.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(STOCK MARKET REPORT)

HEMMER: Welcome back.

O'BRIEN: And it is exactly half past the hour on this AMERICAN MORNING. In just a few minutes, a story of a jury sending a powerful message to a popcorn maker, saying it should have protected employees from processed butter flavoring. We're going to hear from a man at the center of the case who says his lungs were ruined by the oil.

He got lots of money for it. We'll see how the other cases that are coming forward look as well.

HEMMER: Also this hour, nobody loves a good space story more than Jack Horkheimer, right, Jack?

JACK HORKHEIMER, EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR, MIAMI PLANETARIUM: Right.

HEMMER: Director of the Miami Planetarium with us in a few moments, sharing his thoughts on Sedna. It's not very big, but suddenly the planetoid is the talk of the solar system. We'll talk with Jack in a moment here in Miami.

O'BRIEN: Let's get right to our top stories, though, first.

The search continuing for a man suspected in the series of Ohio highway shootings. Authorities have issued an arrest warrant for 28- year-old Charles McCoy Jr. He's been linked to 24 shootings since May on and around Interstate 270. Investigators say McCoy is armed and dangerous.

The U.S. military has released more detainees from a prison camp at Guantanamo Bay in Cuba. The Defense Department says it transferred 23 Afghan and three Pakistani detainees for release. The men spent last night in Afghan custody before they were released.

And U.S. politics. Democratic presidential candidate John Kerry is awaiting today's primary results from Illinois. The Massachusetts senator will spend the day in West Virginia. He's going to meet with veterans of Huntington and then attend a campaign rally in Charleston.

A Utah mother accused of murder for not getting a c-section has pleaded not guilty. Prosecutors claim that Melissa Rowland refused medical advice to undergo a c-section for delivery of her twins, and as a result one was still born. She's facing another hearing today.

And in Florida, a 12-year-old girl lucky to be alive after she plunged 45 feet off a bridge in a car accident on Sunday. Amanda Young was thrown from her mother's SUV when it was hit by another car. She's had to have her spleen removed. She suffered a broken leg. But other than that, she is fortunately OK.

HEMMER: That is a story of survival. Look at that.

(WEATHER REPORT)

HEMMER: All this week, CNN is looking back at the state of Iraq a year after the start of that war. Our special series continues today with one family's struggle and story. For them, much as changed. Some for the better and some not.

Here's Jane Arraf in Baghdad.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

JANE ARRAF, CNN BAGHDAD BUREAU CHIEF (voice-over): A year ago, Amal Ibrahim and Nabil Abdul Cafour were preparing for war, stocking up on rice and sugar, telling the children god would protect them if bombs fell. One year later, they have exchanged worry over the war for worry over almost everything else.

Amal and Nabil live next door but they have divorced. For 24 years, she's been a flight attendant for Iraqi Airways. Now she's home taking care of her three sons. And she doesn't know what to tell them about the future when the present seems so unsafe.

AMAL IBRAHIM, FLIGHT ATTENDANT (through translator): I am an optimistic person. Thank god I always say to myself, things will get better. The reality is, it was bad and it's getting worse. ARRAF: Worried about safety, she escorts her 8-year-old son, Tarik (ph), from his school just a block away. "It's not about gain," says Ibrahim, who is 15. "Now there are weapons in school. Before there weren't."

Amal has been told the transportation ministry might stop paying Iraqi Airways employees at any time. On this day, she goes to a coalition-run office that tries to help Iraqis find jobs.

Meanwhile, across town, her husband Nabil is at work at the struggling oil ministry. Nabil makes only a little bit more than his prewar salary of $60. Half goes to help support the children. He was robbed of his first paycheck after the war, he says.

NABIL ABDUL CAFOUR, OIL WORKER (through translator): I said, "This is my salary, let me keep it." When he pointed the pistol at my legs, I said he was going to shoot me.

ARRAF: He tries to be optimistic about the future for his sons, but his eyes fill with tears.

CAFOUR (through translator): You can't feel anything tangible that will be good for them.

ARRAF: Amal and Nabil lived through the terror of dictatorship and the pain of three wars. But a year after the last one, for them, the future and its uncertainty seem just as frightening.

Jane Arraf, CNN, Baghdad.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

HEMMER: This summer, June 30th, a substantial day in Iraqi history. The handover of power to Iraqi authorities is scheduled for that day -- Soledad.

O'BRIEN: The oils used to flavor microwave popcorn caused a man to develop a serious lung disease. That is what a Missouri jury concluded yesterday when they awarded $20 million to Eric Peoples. His is the first of dozens of cases brought by factory workers who claim they were exposed to toxic fumes without warning or proper ventilation.

Earlier this morning, I spoke to Eric Peoples, also his attorney, Kenneth McClain, in Missouri, and I asked Peoples for his reaction to the award.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

ERIC PEOPLES, AWARDED $20 MILLION FOR LUNG DAMAGE: We were relieved that it was over after two weeks of trial. It was a whole new experience for us just to have it done. And also, we were very proud of what we accomplished.

The main goal five years ago when we contacted the first attorney was to have somebody notice that there was a problem and that something needed to be done. And I feel with the jury's verdict yesterday, that we've done that. Our goal has been met.

O'BRIEN: You worked at the plant from October of 1997 to March of 1999. Give me a description of what exactly you do and what kind of exposure you had to these oils. And was there any ventilation? Did you ever wear a mask? Things like that.

PEOPLES: The most exposure I had was when I did a job called the oil mixer. I would mix the butter flavorings with the salt and soybean oil and coloring to be put into the bags of microwave popcorn.

I would lift 20 to 30 of these buckets up to just about head level to dump them into the mixing vat. From there, the agitator was turned; it would mix it. From Niash's (ph) report, once this stuff becomes heated, it becomes a vapor, and the vapor just spread throughout the warehouse.

O'BRIEN: The manufacturer in the plant continued throughout the trial to deny any sort of liability. Tell me a little bit about this compound and also the manufacturer's position during the trial.

KENNETH MCCLAIN, ATTORNEY FOR INJURED MAN: Diacetyl is what gives butter flavor its buttery taste and smell. In fact, it's found naturally in butter at trace levels.

But in order to make an artificial butter flavor taste and smell like butter, they increase that diacetyl level to about 10 percent, which is what we believe causes the injury, the unusually high level of diacetyl, which can vaporize at very low temperatures by the evidence. It was 85 degrees, so a hot day in Joplin will cause this material to vaporize.

So, it's this material that gets into the air and causes the lung damage. It caused Mr. Peoples' lung damage, but not just people in his classification of mixing the oil, but even people as far down the line as working in quality control, who merely pop microwave popcorn in the laboratories. So this is a very potent chemical that was sold without any warnings and without any instructions about how to use it safely.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

O'BRIEN: That was Kenneth McClain, also Eric Peoples joining us this morning. In addition to this problem, the EPA is setting the chemical's release from the bags when popcorn's made in a microwave oven.

HEMMER: Amazing story.

A break here in a moment. Prosecutors say Dennis Kozlowski stole millions and spent lavishly. What do his lawyers say? We'll get to that story in a moment.

O'BRIEN: Also, what's so special about Sedna? We're going to find out what science has learned about our solar system and find out why Pluto really isn't a planet. Those stories ahead as AMERICAN MORNING continues. (COMMERCIAL BREAK)

O'BRIEN: You know, they say seeing is believing. And astronomers have never seen anything like the planetoid named Sedna. It is the most distant object ever spotted in our solar system, more than eight billion miles from Earth.

Joining us this morning from Miami to talk a little about Sedna, also the latest on Mars, Jack Horkheimer. He is the director of the Miami Planetarium.

Hey, Jack. Good morning. Nice to see you, as always.

HORKHEIMER: Good morning, Soledad.

O'BRIEN: What exactly is the big deal here with Sedna?

HORKHEIMER: Well, Sedna is the largest and most distant object we have found so far in the solar system. It's about eight billion miles away right now, which is really about three times farther away than Pluto. But what's interesting is that it is actually at its closest to the sun practically right now.

In its orbit, which lasts 10,500 years, it will actually go as far as from us as 84 billion miles away from us. So the only reason we've really caught a picture of it right now is because, relatively speaking, it is so incredibly close.

O'BRIEN: We've been calling Sedna a planetoid. And, in fact, an astronomer we were talking with earlier this morning who worked on the team that discovered Sedna said that he doesn't even think Pluto is a planet, as well.

So what exactly is a planetoid? And is the descriptions and definitions of planets very flexible? There might be eight, there might be nine, there might be 10

HORKHEIMER: You've got it, Soledad. There's been argument about Pluto for the past 10 years. You see, Pluto is very, very small.

When I was a kid, we thought Pluto was Earth size. We now know that it's even smaller than our moon, only about 1,500 miles wide. And Sedna is about 1,000 miles wide.

So the interesting thing, though, is that these objects also have orbits that aren't in the plain of our sun's solar system. They're not in the plain.

What happens is, these objects, Pluto and Sedna, have what we call very eccentric orbits which carry them highly above and below the plane of our solar system. So this is one of the reasons we think that we can reclassify even Pluto as a different kind of object.

We might call Pluto a (UNINTELLIGIBLE) object. They're talking about Sedna as being an ort object. And there's dispute about that. But I kind of like the word "planetoid," because planetoid it means planet-like. It's icy and rocky. And, you know, Jack Cafferty will just love this because he's obsessed with the red rocks on Mars. Tell Jack that this is a very red object. So he's got another red object in the solar system to quip about.

O'BRIEN: Yes, he's absolutely obsessed with science and space. There he is right now.

CAFFERTY: They've found another round thing in space. Is that the bottom line here? Another round thing going around out in space? I am overcome.

O'BRIEN: Yes, apparently, that is what we're learning.

Jack Horkheimer, as always, nice to see you, Jack. Thanks for being with us.

HORKHEIMER: Keep looking up.

O'BRIEN: Thanks -- Bill.

HEMMER: We will. He's talking to you, Jack.

For the record, Chad Myers said it would snow. It is here in Manhattan. It's snowing here. We'll watch that throughout the day here. It could be several inches on the ground by later tonight.

Also in a moment, a cable TV star takes the stand in a corporate fraud trial. What she told the jury. Andy has that after the break here.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

O'BRIEN: A former starlet takes the stand in a corporate fraud trial. Andy Serwer has a look at that. Plus, a look at the market open. He is "Minding your Business" this morning.

Let's start with the market, shall we?

ANDY SERWER, EDITOR-AT-LARGE, "FORTUNE" MAGAZINE: Let's do that, because we're roaring ahead this morning. I like to bring you good news, sometimes, Soledad.

O'BRIEN: And I love good news.

SERWER: It's not only bad news. OK, here we go.

Eight-six points out of the gate, Lehman Brothers up, 3M is up, and also MGM. They have the $6 to $9 dividend. That stock is way up. What a surprise that is.

Let's talk about what's going on a little bit here with regard to the Kozlowski trial. Summations here now. This trial finally winding down. It began in September. Can you believe that? The Koz's (ph) lawyer talking to jurors yesterday, saying forget about the ice statue with the vodka coming out of its situation. Forget about the $6,000 shower curtain. Forget about the mistresses. This is a man you've got to judge on the merits of the case.

And then he quotes one of our presidents. "It has really been my experience," wrote Abraham Lincoln, "that folks who have no vices have very few virtues." Now, I like that bar. That's a low bar. That's my kind of bar.

What do you think, Jack?

O'BRIEN: What exactly is he saying about his client?

SERWER: Well, yes, he's saying he's done a lot of bad things. And you can't be a good guy unless you've done a lot of bad things.

CAFFERTY: You want a reality show? Put cameras on Kozlowski when he gets to the joint. That's a reality show.

CAFFERTY: No one has ever accused the guy of not being a nice guy.

HEMMER: But somebody once said the only normal people are the people you don't know.

CAFFERTY: There you go.

Let's talk about the Adelphia trial, the other one going on in Manhattan. Yes. Finally heating up.

We had the trip to Cancun by the board members last week. Now we're hearing about Peta Wilson. Yes, she's from "La Femme Nikita."

That's Tim Rigas. These are the family members, of course, on trial for using Adelphia, the cable company, as a personal piggy bank.

Here's Peta Wilson, star of the TV show "La Femme Nikita." There she is. She apparently was flying around on the corporate plane at least nine times in 1999 and 2000.

Just a friend apparently, Soledad. On the corporate time.

HEMMER: Send a plane.

O'BRIEN: That's nice.

HEMMER: Avoid security.

SERWER: Yes.

CAFFERTY: It's a great world we live in.

SERWER: It is.

O'BRIEN: That would be more important to stockholders. SERWER: Yes, it will. I guess so. I mean, who are we to judge, right?

CAFFERTY: You know, if it wasn't for all those people like that, this would only be a 30-minute show. We have a lot to be thankful for.

O'BRIEN: Amen. You're right.

HEMMER: What's up?

CAFFERTY: The "Question of the Day": Should John Kerry identify these leaders that he says want President Bush defeated? Here's some of the mail we're getting.

"Jack, I think you should approach the question in reverse. The list of world leaders who want Bush to remain in power would be substantially smaller."

Carol in Crossville, Tennessee: "Jack, of course John Kerry should reveal the names. Something of this importance shouldn't just be thrown out there. It should be verified. John Kerry is running for president of the United States, he's not running to replace Jayson Blair at The New York Times."

And Vaughn in Kettle, Kentucky -- ever been to Kettle, Kentucky?

HEMMER: No, I haven't.

CAFFERTY: We should go there and do AMERICAN MORNING.

HEMMER: Oh, yes.

O'BRIEN: OK.

CAFFERTY: She writes: "It's only March. The debate has descended to this already? Will Cheney and Kerry be throwing erasers at each other by June?"

SERWER: Do they do that in Kettle, Kentucky?

O'BRIEN: That would be interesting video.

HEMMER: You know, they're doing this poll online, cnn.com, 30,000 votes already.

CAFFERTY: On that same question?

HEMMER: Yes. Fifty-eight percent say Kerry should give up the names.

CAFFERTY: They're stealing our ideas from the Web site?

O'BRIEN: Today and every day, Jack.

HEMMER: Again. O'BRIEN: It's a good thing. Thank you, Jack.

Coming up this morning on CNN, the new American effort in Afghanistan to bring Osama bin Laden to justice. A live report coming up from Kabul on "CNN LIVE TODAY" with Daryn Kagan.

AMERICAN MORNING is back in just a moment.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

HEMMER: We will not share that with our viewers. We've got run. Tomorrow's Wednesday. Thanks for making us part of your day.

Here's Daryn Kagan.

CAFFERTY: Maybe they'll find another planet before tomorrow. Another planetoid perhaps.

HEMMER: Small planet.

(CROSSTALK)

O'BRIEN: Daryn, how are you?

HEMMER: Here's Daryn. Hey, good morning, Daryn. Save us, please.

DARYN KAGAN, CNN ANCHOR: I am here to save you. That is my job in life. You guys have a great day. Hey, stay warm in New York City.

HEMMER: We will. Snow's coming down on March 16th, Daryn.

KAGAN: Yes. It's that one last blast of winter. You enjoy it. Spring has sprung here in Atlanta. You guys have a great day. We will get started.

We are at CNN global headquarters in Atlanta. Good morning. I'm Daryn Kagan.

We always start with the headlines. Police in Ohio are looking for this man. Twenty-eight-year-old Charles McCoy Jr. of Columbus is a suspect in the series of 24 highway shootings around the Columbus area since last May. Police have issued a warrant for his arrest. We have the latest in a live report just ahead.

In Baghdad, a fourth American civilian died overnight from wounds in a drive-by shooting yesterday in Mosul. A fifth is being treated...



Sikorski; Unitarian Ministers in New Paltz, New York, Face Criminal Charges for Conducting Same-Sex Marriages; A Year in Iraq>


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