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AMERICAN MORNING

Spain Fallout; Family Coping with Loss; Charles McCoy Taken into Custody

Aired March 17, 2004 - 08:31   ET

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

BILL HEMMER, CNN ANCHOR: Alright, just a tick past 8:30 here in New York. Nice to have you on St. Patrick's Day. Hope you're keeping warm out today, because winter is still here.
SOLEDAD O'BRIEN, CNN ANCHOR: Yes, it is.

HEMMER: In a moment, deeper into this top pick about U.S. relations overseas in the wake of the terror attacks in Spain last week. Robert Kagan, Carnegie Endowment, following it extensively. We'll talk to him and find out whether or not the White House has serious cause for concern on that matter, in a moment.

O'BRIEN: Also this morning, more on the big snow that truly is putting a dampener on spring's arrival. Lots of damage across the country to report. Maria Hinojosa's going to show us what's happening in Boston this morning, where it's safe to stay, not so pretty.

HEMMER: That's right. Hopefully it melts today. All right.

Top stories now at the half hour. Authorities say the suspect in the Ohio highway shootings is now caught. Charles McCoy Jr. arrested in a Las Vegas hotel earlier today. Ohio police released his photo and a description of a car on Monday evening. McCoy suspected in two dozen shootings on and around Interstate 270. A live report just moments away here on AMERICAN MORNING.

Officials say they'll investigate how a classified videotape which may have shown Osama bin Laden was leaked. That footage first airing on NBC was shot by an unmanned CIA Predator drone above southern Afghanistan back in August of 2000. The videotape shows a group of people, including a tall man in a white robe. Analysts say that may have been bin Laden. Much more on this in the morning here also.

President Bush welcomes Ireland's Berdeay Hern (ph) to the White House today on St. Patrick's Day. The two leaders expected to talk about an upcoming June summit in Ireland. They'll also take part in a traditional shamrock ceremony at 10:30 a.m. Eastern Time.

Congress wants an update on a computerized passenger screening system. The two-year-old product would rank all airline passengers according to their likelihood of being a terrorist. One airline trade group says before the plan is implemented, it wants privacy principles in place. The House Aviation Subcommittee will look into whether or not privacy concerns have been addressed in a hearing later today in D.C. If you're looking for a bit of history, go online. That's because a house in Hope, Arkansas where former President Bill Clinton lived as a boy is now up for sale, on eBay in fact, 950 square foot home. The bidding now at $105,000, already in one week. Mr. Clinton lived in that home for three years, from the age of five until about eight. The auction closes in three weeks. Hope, Arkansas.

O'BRIEN: You know, I don't know, he only lived there three years. It doesn't seem like...

HEMMER: IF walls could talk? What are you saying?

O'BRIEN: From age 5-8, if the walls could talk, they would say absolutely nothing.

HEMMER: This much history.

O'BRIEN: Exactly.

For a 100 grand. Congratulations to the bidders.

(WEATHER REPORT)

O'BRIEN: A top official in Spain's outgoing government says the investigation into the Madrid train bombings last week is what he calls a decisive phase. Meanwhile, an Algerian who is being held in connection with the bombings has gone forward before Spain's top judge, and Spain says it is adopting permanent security measures to protect airports, sports venues and other key installations against terror attacks.

But what will be the long term effects of the bombing on U.S.- European relations? Robert Kagan of the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace wrote an op-ed piece about that. It appeared in yesterday's "Washington Post." He joins us this morning from Washington.

Nice to see you, sir. Thank you for being with us.

ROBERT KAGAN, CARNEGIE ENDOWMENT FOR INTL. PEACE: Good morning.

O'BRIEN: We were talking with Senator Biden yesterday on AMERICAN MORNING, and here's what he had to say, a very flattering way, about you:

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. JOSEPH BIDEN (D), DELAWARE: One of the leading neoconservatives, Mr. Kagan said today in "The Washington Post" editorial, we've got to get off this unilateral kick against Europe, and we have to make amends in a sense and mend fences with Europe, so that the terrorists don't succeed in convincing Europeans to pull away from us.

(END VIDEO CLIP) O'BRIEN: And, in fact, in that op-ed piece, you wrote this. Here' a little bit. You said, "The Bush administration needs to recognize it has a crisis on its hands and start making up for lost time and mending trans-Atlantic ties, not just with the chosen favorites. What do you specifically think the administration should be doing right now?

KAGAN: Well, I think, you know, it's obviously late in the day, but I think it's important to realize one of the lessons of the Spanish elections is that it's not entirely enough just to have the government on your side, if the publics in these countries are so against the United States.

Now, I'm not suggesting the Bush administration can turn around and win over all the European publics, but I do think that too little has been done to try to convince Europeans, both of the nature of the threat, which I would hope the Spanish bombing should show, but also of how sincerely the United States wants to work with Europe, be guided by Europe, and work sort of shoulder to shoulder in this larger battle against al Qaeda. It's not too late to start making that point. And I think that the administration really needs to go forward and conduct some effective diplomacy in Europe now.

O'BRIEN: The administration has indicated that it might actually seek a new U.N. resolution that would help persuade the incoming prime minister to keep the troops in Iraq. Do you think that that would be, as you described a moment ago, one of the steps in the right direction?

KAGAN: Yes, although I wouldn't hold out any great hope that this incoming Spanish leader is going to change his mind. He ran on a platform of pulling out of Iraq. That's what the voters seem to have asked for, so I doubt that that's the issue.

But even if that's the case, even if Spain does pull out, the United States should try to ease as many of the concerns as are reasonably possible in Europe. But I just think it's important also to realize the Europeans have an important responsibility in this, and it would be a catastrophe if the result of the Spanish elections is that Europeans decided that they are safer if they keep their distance from the United States.

O'BRIEN: When you look at this new poll that comes from the PEW (ph) Global Attitudes Project, the unfavorable ratings, really incredibly high, the countries that are listed there, starting with Britain at 57 percent unfavorable rating -- I'm having trouble with that word this morning -- of President Bush, going up to Jordan, with 95 percent unfavorable rating for the president. What do you think the relevance is of these numbers, and of those countries listed?

KAGAN: Well, you know, these polls don't shows something that's remarkably different from what previous polls have shown. There's no question that we have had a growing gap between the United States and Europe, and obviously some of the Arab countries, over how to deal with the war on terrorism more broadly, but specifically, obviously on the question of Iraq, so that's not really new. And you know, this wouldn't be the first time that European's didn't like a particular American president. That's not the key issue. The key issue, is can Europeans and Americans now realize that they are in this fight against al Qaeda together? The Europeans cannot fight al Qaeda without the United States, anymore than the United States can fight al Qaeda without Europe, and I think that is what we should get out of these Spanish elections. They don't have to like the president, but they have to realize that their own interests are intimately tied up with America's interests.

O'BRIEN: As are America's interest with theirs. Robert Kagan joining us this morning from the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace. Thanks for your time. Nice to see you.

KAGAN: Nice to see you, too.

HEMMER: About 20 minutes before the hours. Another poll to look at. Nearly a year after the beginning of the U.S. invasion in Iraq, a CNN/"USA Today"/Gallup poll showing most Americans think it was worth it; 55 percent of those surveyed say the situation in Iraq was worth going to war; 43 percent say it was not. A bit closer when the question is whether or not the war has made the U.S. safer from terrorism. Fifty percent say the U.S. is safer, 47 percent disagree. That is within the poll's margin of error. Ten percent saying there was no change. That poll was conducted, by the way, before the bombings in Madrid last Thursday.

On the issue of Iraq now, a member of the First Infantry Division, the 1st ID, was killed in a roadside bomb in Baghdad on Sunday. That soldier became the 565th soldier to die since the war began a year ago. Many who have lost their lives have also left families behind.

And as part of our weeklong series on the year in Iraq, Jason Carroll is spending some time today with one family that is coping with loss.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

JASON CARROLL, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): A year ago, Shelly Percorni (ph) was living the American dream, a nice home in North Carolina, a loving husband, a beautiful daughter. Last March 23rd, it all changed. Her husband, Lieutenant Frederick Percorni, a Marine, was killed in Iraq. One of the last letters he sent to their daughter Taylor, a cherished keepsake:

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: "I love you very, very much, I miss you so much my heart hurts, and I hope I get home to you and mommy soon, and don't forget me. Lover always, daddy."

CARROLL: Gone was the dream of a life together and the financial and emotional support that is part of that dream.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The first month everybody was there, they were helping, and then they all go away, and you're going, wow, it is just a lonely feeling. Percorni had to sell the house in North Carolina, but found an apartment in New York City, and a way to ease the loneliness.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Did you get that flag that had your husband's name on it?

CARROLL: Perconri works for the Intrepid Fallen Heroes Fund, created to support families of troops killed in action.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It's called an F-11 tiger.

CARROLL: Now she reaches out to other widows needing help.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It's just a hard thing to ask for help.

CARROLL: Or emotional.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You are tired of doing it by yourself all the time.

CARROLL (on camera): There just seems to be this person who just seems very strong and just a different person.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I think I have grown. I think through this tragedy in my own personal life with myself, and my daughter and my family, everything I have gone through in the last year has made me grown.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Mrs. Shelby Percorni.

CARROLL (voice-over): Percorni, who got an award for her work, says it helps knowing she's helping others, always realizing the part of her own life that can't be changed.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: when she asks for her daddy or cries when she gets hurt, I can't give her that, knowing that she'll have to grow up without her daddy, it just -- it breaks my heart knowing, and I don't how you can -- I can't fix it, and I always want to fix things, and I can't.

in my own personal life with myself and my daughter and my family, everything I have gone through has made me grown.

Reporter: She got an award for her work, and says it helps knowing she's helping others, always realizing the part of her own life that can't be changed when she asks for her daddy, I can't give her that. It breaks my heart knowing she will grow up without her daddy, and I don't know how -- I can't fix it and I always want to fix things, and I can't.

CARROLL: Jason Carroll, CNN, New York.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

HEMMER: About 18 minutes now before the hour. In a moment here on AMERICAN MORNING, back live to Ohio, more on the capture of the man suspected in a string of shootings in Columbus, picked up in Vegas. We'll get to that. Also it's St. Patrick's Day, and it's not just the hats and clothes that will be green. We will look at what's on the menu as well.

And for all those on low-carb diets, what's really low an expert tells us what's really low carb and what is not. An expert tells us the answer in a moment on AMERICAN MORNING.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

O'BRIEN: An update now on some breaking news that we've been reporting for you all morning. Charles McCoy, 28 years old, was taken into custody near the Stardust Casino just two days after he was named a suspect in the Columbus-area highway shootings. That word coming to us from Las Vegas Police.

Let's take you now to Jose Montoya. He is the Public Information Officer for the Las Vegas Police Department. He joins us this morning by phone.

Mr. Montoya, thank you for being with us. Let's start first with some of the details about the arrest of Charles McCoy. Give me the circumstances of how he was finally taken into custody.

JOSE MONTOYA, PUBLIC INFORMATION OFFICER, LAS VEGAS POLICE DEPT.: Yes, ma'am.

Shortly, a little bit before at 12 midnight local time, we received a call at our communications center of a gentleman that stated that he was over at the Sports Book at the Stardust Hotel and Casino on Las Vegas Boulevard, which is known as "the strip." The gentleman told us that he was talking to an individual, that he believed that individual was, in fact, Charles McCoy. He said he had talked to him. He had seen pictures. The gentleman was driving a green Geo Metro vehicle with Ohio plates. He -- the gentlemen told us that he confirmed that there was a Charles McCoy, a person by the last name of McCoy that was registered to the Budget Suites, which is located at 1500 Stardust Road here in Las Vegas, Nevada, which is located just behind the Stardust Hotel and Casino. Our detectives went and interviewed this gentleman a little bit further, confirmed the information. And we, in fact, then began a surveillance with our patrol officers, our detectives from our fugitive section, and general assignment detectives.

We confirmed that there was, in fact, a Charles Mccoy registered to a room at the Budget Suites. However, the vehicle was not in the parking lot. So they began a surveillance. Twenty minutes later, the green Geo Metro with Ohio plates pulls up to in front of the apartment this gentleman was registered at. Our officers approached him, identified themselves as police officers, took him in custody without any incident, without any fight, any struggle. He did say that his name was Charles McCoy. He had identification to the same. He is currently being interviewed by our detectives, and that's basically what we have at this time.

O'BRIEN: At a press conference held a couple of days ago, investigators said that Charles McCoy purchased a gun, that he might be armed and dangerous, that he was suicidal and homicidal. Has any weapon been found in his motel room, or in his car or on his person?

MONTOYA: My understanding is that there were no weapons on his person. We are in the process of obtaining a search warrant to search his room and to search his vehicle at this time.

O'BRIEN: Outside of confirming his name and showing I.D., has he said anything of note?

MONTOYA: No, ma'am, I don't know. Like I said, they are currently interviewing him at this time, so I don't have that information.

O'BRIEN: Jose Montoya is the public information officer for the Las Vegas Police Department, joining us. Mr. Montoya, thank you very much for your time. Appreciate it -- Bill.

HEMMER: All right, medical news, quickly this morning. Which products are truly low carb and which are not? The FDA hopes new labeling guidelines may ease the confusion. Johnny Bowden is the author of "Living The Low Carb Life." He's with us now this morning in Dallas, Texas.

Good morning to you. Nice to have you on our program today.

JOHNNY BOWDEN, AUTHOR, "LIVE THE LOW CARB LIFE": Good morning. Great to be here.

HEMMER: So the FDA wants to do its own guidelines. What do you say now about the current guidelines. You walk into a grocery store, you read the label, and you can believe how much of that then?

BOWDEN: Well, I think if you go with products made by reputable companies that have been around a while, they're not Johnny-come- latelys to the low-carb craze, I think you can pretty much trust them when they talk about net carbs. I think you are going to see lots of people getting on the bandwagon, and you're to have to -- it's going to be consumer beware.

HEMMER: Yes, I'm looking for a definition of "net carb." What is net carb content?

BOWDEN: Net carb is a very easy thing to understand. Remember, when we are doing a low-carb diet, what we're really looking at is what, is the impact this food is going to have on your blood sugar? Net carbs is just the total amount of carbs, minus the fiber. Fiber has no appreciable effect whatsoever on blood sugars. So they subtract the fiber and sometime the sugar alcohols from the total carbs, and they give you the net carbs, which is the amount that is going to really impact you. That's all you got to really worry about.

HEMMER: You know, listen, the brand name for Atkins continues to get more and more popular. You can see it when you walk into delis here in New York City. You have got that Atkins label right next to the product that they're trying to sell. Practical ways to measure for low-fat carbs, other than looking for that Atkins a.

BOWDEN: Well, and that is one good way, because it's a reliable brand you can count on. I think there will be other reliable brands that you can count on. But definitely, the net carb is the thing that you're looking for. If you are looking at a regular label, you just look at the carb label, and you subtract the fiber. If it's got 25 grams of carbs, and 15 of fiber, you are looking at 10 net carbs.

HEMMER: Listen, this is so popular. Back in the '90s, you're well aware that low-fat was the craze then. What did you learn from the 1990s that may dictate a trend here today?

BOWDEN: Well, I think what we have to learn is that there's no free lunches. We can't just take the soundbite that carbs are bad the way we did with the '80s about fat, and think that just because something is low in carbs, we can eat unlimited amounts of it, unlimited amounts of junk food, as long as it has no carbs. That's not the way it's going to works.

HEMMER: Johnny Bowden, thanks for talking.

BOWDEN: Or we're going up in the same...

HEMMER: I appreciate your time today.

Wind up in the same what, by the way/

BOWDEN: Wind up in the same idiotic place we were in the '80s, with tons of low-fat garbage food.

HEMMER: I thought you were going to say boat, but idiotic place in the '80s, we'll take that. Thank you. Nice to talk to you.

Here's Soledad.

Speaking of food this morning, Andy Serwer takes a look at all things green on this St. Patty's Day, including the food. A look at that ahead, as AMERICAN MORNING continues.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

O'BRIEN: And welcome back.

JACK CAFFERTY, CNN ANCHOR: March Madness time, both on the basketball court and apparently in the stock market. With that, and a look on what's on the St. Patrick's Day menu, Andy Serwer is here "Minding Your Business," a decent day yesterday after the Fed decided to leave rates alone.

ANDY SERWER, "FORTUNE" MAGAZINE: That's correct, Jack.

Dow up over 81 points yesterday, and it looks like we might have some more good news this morning, because futures are up. There, you can see that was yesterday.

Let's move on to some more important matters, though. CAFFERTY: Andy the great Serwer.

SERWER: You are the one from Nevada, so we'll get to that in a second. We have got everyone's picks here, all four of us, and let's go through them quickly.

Soledad, first of all.

O'BRIEN: I have to tell you, actually, Todd, your producer Todd, because my husband was traveling, got stuck in the snow, couldn't help me.

HEMMER: Todd did this.

O'BRIEN: Well, he oversaw it.

SERWER: Yes, channeled. This is a Shirley McClain moment. Anyway, let's see what you got here, Kentucky, Wisconsin, North Carolina and Stanford, getting in touch with her inner badger there. That's kind of nice. Let's move on. And the champion, Stanford. Hey, that's the Harvard of the west.

O'BRIEN: That's why I picked them.

SERWER: I know.

OK, let's move on quickly to Bill, Kentucky, Pittsburgh, what else you got, Duke, UConn. No Ohio teams there, Bill. What's up with that? Kentucky is pretty close to Ohio.

HEMMER: Yes, it is.

SERWER: All right, let's go on to Jack, Jack from great state of Nevada, so he knows a little bit about this kind of stuff, gaming and stuff. We've got Kentucky, Oklahoma State, Duke, Syracuse, Jack? Syracuse, you're for a repeat there, huh?

CAFFERTY: I'm sorry, you can change it if you want.

SERWER: I am not going to change it. Do you want me to change it for you?

And then my picks here, we've got Gonzaga, Wake Forest, Texas and Stanford. I am picking Texas, kind of an unusual, Texas. The Final Four is in San Antonio.

OK, let's move on to food. This is part of our continuing series, Soledad's midnight craving.

HEMMER: To keep Soledad happy.

O'BRIEN: Somewhere before the 9:00 hour, I need to eat, so Andy is now...

SERWER: Of course, we have the Krispy Kreme St. Patrick Day's edition. O'BRIEN: All right, I will taste it.

SERWER: You go.

The green and white cookie and a black and white cookie is a New York staple for the "Seinfeld" episode "Bringing the Races" together. It's a very weird show. Green bagels, of course, as well.

And I like these snakes here, the candy snakes. St. Patrick's supposedly drove the Snakes out of Ireland, of course is a myth, because there never were any snakes there. Those are from Neman's (ph) of Watosa, Wisconsin, the bagels. Watosa -- yes, Wawatosa (ph), OK. Thanks. The green and white cookies are from the bagel brothers of Rosalind (ph) Heights, Long Island. Yes, a kosher bakery, of course, for St. Patrick's Day -- Jack.

CAFFERTY: I'm Irish, so I can say this. I think it's the dumbest tradition I've ever heard of, making green food for St. Patrick's Day, and drinking green beer. This is stupid.

O'BRIEN: Take a bite into this Krispy Kreme and you will change your mind, mister.

SERWER: What about those cookies? You want the green snake?

CAFFERTY: I don't want anything.

HEMMER: He's perfectly happy.

O'BRIEN: Happy St. Patrick's Day, Jack.

No, I'm fine, thanks.

Still to come this morning, the man police were hunting for in connection with a string of shootings in the Columbus, Ohio now in custody. More details coming into us. We'll bring you them just ahead on AMERICAN MORNING.

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Taken into Custody>


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