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AMERICAN MORNING

Report on Friendly Fire Incident in Iraq; 'Paging Dr. Gupta'

Aired March 29, 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: All right, 8:31 here in New York. Good morning. Welcome again. One of the most frightening scenarios for terrorism is an attack with biological weapons. A new report shows why. Barbara Starr from the Pentagon in a few moments looking at that issue and why the Pentagon has been reluctant to let that report go. We'll get to that in a moment. Barbara standing by.
SOLEDAD O'BRIEN, CNN ANCHOR: Also this morning, talk about your big plans for spring break. The man with $20 million to spend who really just wants off the planet. We're going to talk to him this morning about what he's going to be doing next spring.

HEMMER: All right, top stories now here at the half hour, national security adviser Condoleezza Rice reiterating again that she will not face the 9/11 Commission in public. Speak on CBS' "60 Minutes" last night, Rice said she has nothing to hide from the panel, but cannot testify publicly. She said no sitting national security adviser has ever testified before Congress.

Military sources in Iraq say U.S. soldiers shot and killed four insurgents in the northern town of Mosul today. Meanwhile, Shiite Muslims in Baghdad demonstrating against the closure of a newspapers. The U.S. civilian administrator in Iraq, ambassador Paul Bremer, ordered the paper closed for 60 days. Ambassador Bremer claims the paper's articles insight violence against coalition forces in Iraq.

Opening statements set to begin in the trial of a Texas mother accused of stoning two of her three sons to death. Psychiatric experts for both the prosecution and defense say that Deana Laney (ph) was legally insane when she used rocks to beat her sons. The woman told police that God ordered her to do it. One of the three boys is recovering.

Back overseas: Afghanistan's elections have been postponed from June until September. Afghan President Hamid Karzai says elections will be moved back due to low voter registration. Only a fraction of Afghanistan's 11 million eligible voters have registered. President Karzai hopes to educate Afghans on the electoral process and encourage them to vote before the month of September.

Entertainment, a doggie reunion No. 1 at theaters over the weekend. The "Scooby Doo" sequel took in $30 million this opening weekend. "Ladykillers" with Tom Hanks finished in second place with 13 million, "Passion of the Christ" still strong at No. 3.

You're up to date now, 8:33 here in New York City.

(WEATHER REPORT)

O'BRIEN: Some news out of the Pentagon this morning: a friendly fire incident in Iraq, and a report about bioterrorism readiness.

Barbara Starr live for us at the Pentagon for us this morning.

Hey, Barbara, good morning.

BARBARA STARR, CNN PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT: Good morning to you, Soledad.

Well, officials now confirming that later today, they do expect to release a long awaited report on one of the friendly-fire incidents from the war in Iraq. It was last March 23rd during the battle for Al Nasiriyah when there was a very serious friend friendly-fire incident, as many as 10 U.S. Marines killed as they were attempting to take a bridge in that town when apparently, apparently, a forward air controller accidentally called in gunfire, airborne gunfire, on their location. It was a very chaotic, violent fight for the town, for those two bridges. And all indications are now that apparently some very unfortunate mistakes were made. We expect to hear more about all of this later today when this report is released almost a little bit more than a year after the incident took place -- Soledad.

O'BRIEN: And what about this bioterrorism report, Barbara?

STARR: Soledad, the Pentagon has now released portions, but we have to tell you, it's only portions, of a report that they commissioned, unclassified, on the nation's preparedness for bioterrorism after those anthrax attacks in 2001. One of the conclusions of the report, in fact the major conclusion of the report, was, quoting now, "the anthrax attacks revealed weaknesses in almost every aspect of U.S. biopreparedness and response." But only portions of the report have now been released because the Pentagon says there are too many details in there that could give some hints to terrorists -- Soledad.

O'BRIEN: All right, Barbara Starr for us at the Pentagon this morning. Barbara, thank you -- Bill.

HEMMER: Well, there's a first time for this, and perhaps a last time. Over the weekend, a Florida man asked his 8-year-old son to move the family van while he mowed the lawn. Well, the van got out of control, big surprise, hit the father, plowed into the home. Apparently not the first time that youngster has been behind the wheel, in the state of Florida.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JOHN PEZY JR., FATHER: He's moved by van before. But when he cranked it up, the choke was closed and the idle was real high. He didn't even think about it, he just throwed it in gear, and pushed it through the house there. You can see what happened.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

HEMMER: Eight years old.

Father was treated at a hospital. Police could not say whether or not the boy was injured.

O'BRIEN: What was he thinking about?

HEMMER: Not sure. Can't make this up.

O'BRIEN: You can't let an 8-year-old drive. Could the kid's feet even reach the pedals?

HEMMER: I think you are a very good mother.

O'BRIEN: Of course, I live in New York City. My kids don't have access to a car.

That's crazy.

All right, still to come this morning, a man who plans to go on a space mission, and why he's willing to pay big bucks for the chance.

HEMMER: Also, a taste of honey could help you fight cancer. Dr. Sanjay Gupta tells us why in a moment here.

O'BRIEN: And Prince's new venture. He fought the old establishment by not joining them. Now he's fighting the new establishment by trying to beat them. We'll explain ahead, as AMERICAN MORNING continues.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

HEMMER: There is some sweet news about the health benefits of honey. And Dr. Sanjay Gupta from the CNN Center join us with more on this now.

Sanjay, good morning to you.

DR. SANJAY GUPTA, CNN MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: People have talked about honey for a long time. The ancient Egyptians use it for all sorts of medicinal properties, and it sort of became an old wives tail. It doesn't really provide any medicinal properties or not. That's been a question for some time.

But now, there is a lot of testing out there, lots of studies out there, to try and look at the value of some of these alternative herbs and therapies and things like that, and honey made that list. A study coming out looking at 25 people, specifically comparing two types of different honeys. What they found are four tablespoons of specifically honey increased cancer-fighting, heart-disease fighting, antioxidants, these antioxidants something you and I have talked about so many times, Bill, and they specifically look at two types of honey, the dark honey, also known as buckwheat honey, and the light honey. And they found that the dark buckwheat honey was actually going to be a bit little better now.

Studies like this have come out before. University of Illinois had a study about this, showing the beneficial effects of honey. But now we're starting to get more evidence that, in fact, honey instead of other sweeteners, might actually provide more of these beneficial properties -- Bill.

HEMMER: So if you're going to take this study and listen to it, should people be adding this to their diets?

GUPTA: Well, you know, all the study authors we talked to and researchers certainly there are better ways to get antioxidants than having to go get the honey. Fruits and vegetables are certainly going to provide that for you. But if you're going to take honey, if it's something you are thinking about taking, two tablespoons of the dark buckwheat honey, are probably going to be your best bet. You're going to get your biggest bang for the buck in terms of overall antioxidant properties. I should add that sometimes these can be pretty expensive as well. Some of these specific dark buckwheat honeys.

But there are other foods that do provide antioxidants. A lot of people ask me about this, what are those foods? Well, there they are. Red grapes, wine, juice. We talk about that a lot. Cocoa beans, apples and onions, also lots of antioxidant properties. Again, why take antioxidants? Ward off heart disease, maybe Parkinson's, Alzheimer's, but probably just to feel better, not get as many colds or infections, though.

HEMMER: One more thing, I know you're a doctor, not a dietitian, but is honey a better sweetener than sugar, or are there other options out there that you'd recommend?

GUPTA: Here's the thing about sweeteners. When you're comparing honey to sugar, for example, you're still going to get the calories, 64 calories or so per tablespoon. But you're also going to get these antioxidant antioxidants. So if you sort of want to get a two-fer in terms of -- neither one of them is going to provide you with fat, which is good -- but if you want to get a two-fer in terms of the sweetness, as well as some of those antioxidant properties, honey is probably going to be a better bet for you -- Bill.

HEMMER: Thank you, Sanjay. Talk to you later, OK.

GUPTA: Thank you.

HEMMER: All right, bladder cancer is the fourth leading cancer killer among men. And a new study shows that a diet rich in vitamin E may cut the risk of bladder cancer by 50 percent. It's the vitamin e found in foods like nuts and olive oil that appear to help. Researchers are not exactly sure how it works. Those findings were released at a cancer conference in Orlando -- Soledad.

O'BRIEN: Science now: A record-breaking jet launched by NASA may some day radically change the way we fly.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Launch, launch, launch.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Sequencer reset.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O'BRIEN: NASA set a speed record on Saturday with the launch of the unmanned test aircraft called a scram jet. It zoomed to a record speed of about 5,000 miles an hour. That is more than seven times the speed of sound. The supersonic combustion scram jet engine breathes air. Apparently, the technology could make space flight a lot easier and also might cut long airline flights in half.

From record speed to the latest in commercial human space flight, Greg Olsen paying $20 million for a trip to the International Space Station. He's going to be the third private citizen to travel in space. The company, Space Adventures, will help send him into orbit on a Russian rocket. Greg begins training this week with a launch date that's scheduled for April of next year.

And, Greg, who paid absolutely nothing to be here on AMERICAN MORNING this morning is joining us. Thanks for joining us.

You know the first question is going to be, $20 million -- why?

GREG OLSEN, PRIVATE SPACE EXPLORER: I thought a long time about that. And I came to the conclusion that the value of this mission, which is scientific in nature, is not just an eight-day joy ride, but it's what happens afterwards, both for myself and the ability to be able to share this with a lot of people. We're going to publish the results in scientific journals, and what I really want to do is the educational part, where I share this with young people, especially in areas like Trenton, New Jersey, where we're going to focus on kids. I come from a modest background. I was born in Brooklyn, raised in Ridgefield Park, New Jersey, and found science and engineering to be the quick way up for me. So I hope to share this experience with others and help motivate them.

O'BRIEN: So you'll do the science part of it, but also, you really want to come back and start saying to folks, regular guy who went up in space. Are you nervous at all?

OLSEN: Not at all. I'm really looking forward to it and, you know, I don't feel it's a risk at all any more than I do about crossing the street on Fifth Avenue.

O'BRIEN: Well, you know, it's a little dangerous sometimes to cross the street at Fifth Avenue, depending on the time of day.

Tell me a little bit about the training. You're going to start training this week. What's the process exactly?

OLSEN: Yes. Well, it starts off with the theoretical part. I'll be reviewing my graduate physics days, where we'll study orbital mechanics, you know, just how the satellite stays up and all the physics involved, and there's a physical part. Obviously, you have to be in reasonably good shape to do it. And all of the procedures that are necessary to go up, both on the Soyuz vehicle, and on the International Space Station and then the deorbiting part, coming down. So there's a lot of training of procedures of what to do.

O'BRIEN: You look like you're in good shape? Are you in...

OLSEN: Thank you. Yes, I work out. I have a great trainer, Ruben Ortiz, back in Princeton, New Jersey.

O'BRIEN: Suddenly, you're like, Ruben, guess what, we have a new goal we're working forward for.

OLSEN: Yes, you bet, every day we work out. And my company, Sensors Unlimited, in Princeton, has been very supportive. I'm going to take our infrared camera up there and take a look at the Earth and the astronomy.

O'BRIEN: Who is paying the bill?

OLSEN: Mostly me. But for the camera, obviously, Sensors Unlimited developed that, with a lot of help from organizations like NASA. We've had research support to do that. So this is almost a payback mission.

O'BRIEN: Is your family supportive, or are they saying you're just crazy?

OLSEN: No, my two daughters, Christa and Kimberly, when I told them, they were excited and said, that's great, dad, we always liked that about you, that you go for it.

O'BRIEN: You talked to Dennis Tito, who was the first private citizen to go up on a spacecraft. Did he give you any advice?

OLSEN: Yes. He said just put your head down and do it. I like talking to Dennis. I mean, he's a real pioneer, and he gave me straight talk and a lot of good advice.

O'BRIEN: Wonderful. Greg Olsen, nice to have you in. Do you promise to come back when you're back and tell us all about it?

OLSEN: Yes, I do and share my experience. That's what I would love to do.

O'BRIEN: We would love it. Fantastic. I'll keep you to your word on that. Thank you so much.

OLSEN: Thank you.

O'BRIEN: Bill.

HEMMER: All right, in a moment here on AMERICAN MORNING, what's great for air passengers not so great for the big airlines. How budget carriers are now affecting the major airlines. Andy explains that, when you we come back after a break.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

HEMMER: All right, welcome back. JACK CAFFERTY, CNN ANCHOR: In the current air wars, the budget airlines are the ones in the pilot seat, and Prince is take on the mainstream in the music industry yet again. Andy Serwer is here "Minding Your Business." Got a check of the markets. Got a lot of stuff.

Welcome back. Did you have a nice vacation?

ANDY SERWER, "FORTUNE" MAGAZINE: I sure did, Jack.

CAFFERTY: Who did in the money last week? We were both gone.

SERWER: Yes, well someone, artist to be unnamed. Speaking of Prince, I want to talk about one of your favorite rock 'n' roll artists there in a second.

But let's talk about these carriers, airlines. Used to be you had the big guns. You had United, American, Continental and Delta, and the little boys, the gnats, sort of flying around, most notably Southwest Airlines.

Today, these are the airlines increasingly, Southwest, Jet Blue, Air Tran, that are calling the shots. The big guys are trying to raise fares because of the increased oil prices which are now at 13- year highs. They've been unable to do it. Because what's happening, as soon as they raise prices, Jack, people are flying over to southwest. And just a note about Southwest. They made more money over the past 10 years than any of the other airlines combined, than all the other airlines combined. Discount carriers now have 25 percent of the traffic in the United States.

CAFFERTY: Somebody said a few years ago that that was the trend, eventually hat we'd have nothing but small airlines across the country, a whole lot of them.

SERWER: That's true, except that you still need the big carriers to fly overseas. The discount ones don't do that for the most part.

CAFFERTY: All right, you mentioned one of my favorite recording artists. Are you talking about Johnny Cash?

SERWER: No, I'm talking about Prince, The Artist Formerly Known as, et cetera. He is going out and forming his own music store online. This guy who once called the record industry, or working for it, akin to slavery. So he's now sort of getting into his own thing. But the only problem is, two of his big albums aren't going to be for sale at his Web site, "Purple Rain" and "1999." So you won't be able to get "Little Red Corvette."

Was he writing this song about you, Jack, a "Little Red Corvette," "a body like yours ought to be in jail, because it's on the verge of being obscene. Move over baby, give me the keys. I'm going to try and tame your little red love machine." That wasn't about you, was it?

HEMMER: He was just talking that way two hours ago. CAFFERTY: Don't get caught up in it.

O'BRIEN: You can ask me about Prince.

CAFFERTY: What about the markets?

SERWER: All right, the markets last week all over the place, because of the political events, obviously. We ended up for the most part we were up, a little bit down on the S&P. Futures are pretty much higher this morning, though, Jack. European markets rocking, and big jobs report on Friday.

CAFFERTY: All right, thanks, Andy.

On to The Cafferty File: A school in Mexico City teaching little girls how to be perfect wives. The school is offering weekly after- school classes for girls between the ages of 13 and 18. The lessons include cooking, sewing, ironing, child care, plus special feminine touches, like putting flowers in the bathroom and getting initials embroidered on towels. Are you listening, Carol? The school's professor says these are skills that are in danger of being lost as more Mexican women join the workforce.

O'BRIEN: So then you have to work and do all that stuff, too, honey.

CAFFERTY: Where's my violin. I'll bring it tomorrow.

You had time to go see "Jersey Girl," didn't you? Stop it.

Oklahoma can take pride in being home to the dumbest criminal in America. This clown, Dan Johnson, broke into a house and stole a cell phone and $4 from the owners, and then he got tired and climbed into bed with them and went to sleep. Cops said it took them a few minutes to wake Johnson, who they say had had one or two cocktails.

"Maxim" magazine's new cover girl is a housewife and mother of three from Springfield. Turn-ons include a big belly and no inhibitions. Her idea of a perfect date, a romantic dinner, and then some window shopping for couches. She's Marge Simpson, and according to "Maxim's" editor in chief, she's the sexiest mama in all of tune town. Marge is on the cover of about 1/3 of "Maxim's" magazine's this month. The rest of them feature a picture of Paris Hilton. Fortunately, this two of identified in print, so that you won't have any trouble telling them apart. Marge Simpson.

SERWER: That's a reach. And it's not going to sell.

CAFFERTY: Probably not.

SERWER: Not for the "Maxim" crowd.

CAFFERTY: Didn't exactly go over here either.

O'BRIEN: I'm so not backing you up today with all the jokes about "Jersey Girl" you've made up on my behalf. SERWER: Sorry, Soledad.

O'BRIEN: No, you're not.

Still to come this morning, is it a big mistake for national security adviser Condoleezza Rice to not publicly testify before the 9/11 Commission? A closer look at that, just ahead on AMERICAN MORNING.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

HEMMER: In a moment here on AMERICAN MORNING, Michael Jackson's sexual molestation case will be presented to a grand jury in California in only a few hours from now. We'll get to that story, top of the hour here on AMERICAN MORNING, after this.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

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