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Fighting in Najaf; John Doe Takes Rumsfeld to Court; Kerry Addresses Firefighters Convention in Boston; Smallest Baby Ever to Survive

Aired August 19, 2004 - 09:30   ET


BILL HEMMER, CNN ANCHOR: Going to get you down to Wall Street. We're watching this -- this economic picture here shaping up. A few seconds away from the Dow 30 getting started here.
Finished above 10,000 yesterday -- first time in a while that we can remember here -- rallying about 110 points in the positive territory yesterday. Oil prices again continue to be a major concern: $47 or a tick over that yesterday. Weighing heavily on the markets, and we'll see how that impacts things today.

The other thing you've got to watch today also, in the tech sector, is what happens with Google with that IPO today and -- oh, we went there before we had the bell. No problem.

Nasdaq market side -- the founders of Google were supposed to be on hand today, so we'll see if that goes public at 1831. Up about 36 points in trading yesterday. There you go, on the right -- up close. Two very wealthy men about to come that way with Google. GOOG is the ticker symbol.

Stocks open for business. Back in a moment her on AMERICAN MORNING right after this.


HEMMER: All right, welcome back, everyone. Watching the story out of Iraq again. The breaking news out of Najaf -- appears that Iraqi officials were deadly serious about that ultimatum for Muqtada al-Sadr and his fighters there. In the past 16 minutes or so, we started getting reports of very intense fighting outside the compound of the Imam Ali Mosque. I'll get you back to Baghdad in a moment here for the latest this hour.

HEIDI COLLINS, CNN ANCHOR: Also in Iraq, but on a different topic, the extended duty for reservists. Well, one guardsman thinks it's unfair, and he's filed suit against Donald Rumsfeld, several other top military officials, as well. We'll talk to one of the soldiers' lawyers in just a moment.

HEMMER: Also, she looks like a typical teenager, but a young girl was no typical baby when she was born. In fact, she's the world's smallest surviving baby ever. Elizabeth Cohen shares her amazing story in a moment.

First, though, let's get back to Iraq and do it quickly now. John Vause standing by there live. And it was about 16 minutes ago where one of our CNN producers, Kianne Sadeq, was actually inside the shrine, observed the fighting that was ongoing there. Has now come out of the shrine, but says there is nothing but destruction on the street outside.

Back to John in Baghdad with more. What do you have, John?

JOHN VAUSE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Hello, Bill. All we can tell you now is that fighting continues around the mosque. We do not know if there is any assault planned for the Imam Ali Mosque. But when Kianne Sadeq was inside the mosque, she got some very, very valuable information from al-Sadr's aides.

Firstly, they are now claiming that the radical Shiite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr is not inside the mosque. They would not say where he is. We have no way obviously to independently verify that claim.

She also said that Muqtada al-Sadr has rejected that ultimatum, that threat which was issued by the minister of state a few hours before this fighting began in Najaf. Muqtada al-Sadr rejecting the authority of the interim Iraqi government.

We do know that al-Sadr's people were saying that he was willing to negotiate with the peace delegation that was sent from Baghdad from the Iraqi National Conference, because, he said, that represented most of the Iraqi people. But he rejected those ultimatums, those demands placed on him a few hours earlier by the minister of state, who warned that this kind of military operation was just hours away.

The minister of state also said that that military operation would not damage the mosque in any way. So far, it appears that there has been minimal damage to at least two of the minarets at the Imam Ali Mosque.

The situation, as far as U.S. forces, Kianne Sadeq reporting heavy U.S. forces surrounding the mosque, also U.S. snipers on the rooftops of the buildings surrounding the Imam Ali shrine. Also, she says, a lot of the members of the Mehdi Army are outside the gates. She said there were two rings they had to get through before they got to the Imam Ali Mosque: a ring of protection put around the mosque by U.S. tanks, Humvees, and U.S. Marines; once they got through that, there was another layer of Mehdi Militia which they had to get their way through.

She reported heavy fighting, sniper fire, and very, very loud explosions. She also reported from inside the mosque, saying that they appeared to be in good spirits, that there were several hundred, possibly a few thousand inside the mosque. This is one of the largest mosques in the entire Middle East, so it's not unreasonable to think it could hold thousands of people inside that mosque. They're in good spirits. They are chanting "Muqtada, Muqtada."

Also, it appears that they do have some kind of medical help in there. And the U.S. has fears that Muqtada al-Sadr took that six-week lull before the fighting began to stockpile weapons inside that mosque, so it could be set for quite a showdown -- Bill. HEMMER: All right, John. John, thanks for that. Keep us updated, again, out of Baghdad and also in Najaf and what's happening there. Thanks -- Heidi?

COLLINS: An American combat veteran is suing Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld and other Pentagon brass over what's called the "stop-loss" order. The order keeps National Guard soldiers on duty in Iraq after their scheduled departure date.

The plaintiff in the suit is anonymous, but his lawyer, Joshua Sondheimer, is with us this morning from San Francisco. Mr. Sondheimer, thanks for being with us.


COLLINS: I want to ask you, your client is anonymous, but what can you tell us about his situation? Why file this lawsuit?

SONDHEIMER: Well, he's a decorated combat veteran. He served in Iraq during the invasion of Iraq last year and into October. And he has almost nine years of active duty, military service. He signed up -- his current enlistment is just a one-year enlistment in a program they call "Try One," which allows active duty veterans to try a year of service in the National Guard to see if it's compatible with, you know, their family life and, you know, their needs.

And that enlistment is supposed to expire in December, and he's now being asked to stay on indefinitely, for now, to serve in Iraq -- but potentially even longer.

COLLINS: So, is that what makes his story different from the 40,000-some-odd soldiers who have been called on as stop-loss soldiers, as well? I mean, why don't we have 40,000 other lawsuits?

SONDHEIMER: That's a good question. We think that this case may inspire others to challenge the policy, as well. But there are many other soldiers who are in a similar circumstance.

COLLINS: Is that what you think should happen? There should be lawsuits up to the number of 40,000? I mean, where will we get our troops from?

SONDHEIMER: Well, there is the option of expanding the army. Congress is certainly pushing for that, and the military has opposed it. And there should be a public debate about whether a draft is needed. But it's unfair to impose the burden of -- you know, of having a greater sized military to respond to the needs in Iraq and elsewhere by placing the burden of extended service on soldiers who have already fulfilled their service obligations to the country.

COLLINS: But is this not an executive order directly from the Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld, presumably with the president's backing when a stop-loss is called?

SONDHEIMER: Well, the order that you may be referring to doesn't apply, first of all, to John Doe, the petitioner in our case. And beyond that, it's an executive order that relates to responding to the threat of terrorist attacks against the United States.

And no one can seriously argue that now that the regime of Saddam Hussein has been displaced from power, that Iraq poses a threat of terrorism against the United States.

COLLINS: Well, given what we're seeing in Najaf, I bet there are some people who would argue that this morning.

Joshua Sondheimer...

SONDHEIMER: There's no question that, you know, troops are at risk and there's fighting going on. But the question is whether there's a threat of terrorist attacks against the United States similar to the 9/11 attacks and whether Iraq poses that threat.

COLLINS: Joshua, thanks so much for your time this morning. Again, Joshua Sondheimer, appreciate it.

SONDHEIMER: Thank you.


HEMMER: Twenty minutes before the hour. Carol Costello watching the other news. Good morning, Carol, at the CNN Center.

CAROL COSTELLO, CNN ANCHOR: Good morning, Bill. I certainly am.

In Boston, Massachusetts, right now, Senator John Kerry is addressing the International Association of Firefighters Convention. I believe we have live pictures to show you. He arrived at the center just a short time ago. And right now, he is addressing the subject of this next story.

One of Senator John Kerry's war critics is coming under fire. Larry Thurlow is leading member of the Vietnam Veterans group that claims Kerry's Bronze Star citation is fabricated. The military record cited in "The Washington Post" show Thurlow received a Bronze Star in the same manner as Kerry. Thurlow has not authorized the release of his military records.

Healthcare is reportedly -- we're going to go back to Boston and listen in to what John Kerry has to say about that.

Let's listen.


SEN. JOHN KERRY (D-MA), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: ... for all Americans, for our security, for the issues that really matter to people, that they just don't want to talk about. We're going to put a real agenda in front of this country that moves America forward. America can do better. We believe that. And when we lead it, it will do better. That's what this race is about.


COSTELLO: All right, we've heard what John Kerry has to say in Boston, of course, as he speaks. We'll have much more for you, but addressing, well, concerns about allegations that his war service medals were unwarranted.

Healthcare is reportedly a major reason why employment growth has been sluggish, according to sources cited in the "New York Times." Employers are reluctant to hire full-time employees because of health insurance costs. Those costs now average $300 per year per worker.

And stunning pictures this morning from the Mars rover Spirit. The golf cart-sized explorer sent back this image taken from a hillside, showing the plains of a crater and its rim on the distant horizon.

Looks like Arizona, doesn't it?

Scientists say the rover is finding signs that water may have left its mark on the bedrock in the crater.

Back to you, Bill.

HEMMER: Spirit is still going, Carol.

COSTELLO: Still going, with fascinating pictures.

HEMMER: Yes, indeed you're right.

Thank you, Carol.


COSTELLO: Meanwhile, the smallest baby ever to survive. Now she's 15 years old, and still surprising the medical world, and us all.

Stay with us, right here on AMERICAN MORNING.


COSTELLO: Talk about a special deliver. Madeline Mann weighed 9.9 ounces at birth. If you think about, that's less than a can of Coke. Fifteen years later, though, she's still the world's smallest surviving baby.

Elizabeth Cohen is in for Sanjay this morning. She's at the CNN Center with more now on Madeline and how preemies persevere.

Unbelievable story here.

ELIZABETH COHEN, CNN MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: It is unbelievable. And when you see the pictures, Heidi, you'll see how truly unbelievable it really is.

Madeline Mann was born 14 weeks early. Statistically speaking, she really should not have even survived. You see her next to the doctor's hand, the neonatologist who took care of her. And you can see just how tiny she is, but she's doing great.

Here she is today. She weighs only 60 pounds, which is about half of what you would expect her to weigh. She's got a touch of asthma. She needs glasses. But academically, she is in the 83rd percentile in her -- kids her age, so she's really just done terrific -- Heidi.

COLLINS: You've already said 9.9 ounces. Unbelievably small. So why did she survive and other preemies don't?

COHEN: Well, there are a couple of things that she had in her favor. First of all, she's female. And girl preemies just simply do better than boy preemies. Secondly, we said she was, we said 14 weeks early, which means she was 26 weeks gestational age. That's early. But there certainly have been preemies who have survived at 23, 24, 25 weeks. So she was early, but not as early as some.

Also she was born early, because her mother had a disease called preeclampisia, which is where the mother's blood pressure gets very, very high. Obviously, that's a bad thing. The one saving grace is that the stress of that high blood pressure can often make the baby's lungs develop much more quickly. It stresses them out in a good way, and so That could have helped her as well.

COLLINS: In terms of survival, though, I'm thinking, medical advances, technological advances -- do preemies do better these days?

COHEN: They do. They actually -- there have been many improvements since the 15 years when Madeline was born, and they all have to do with helping the lungs. The lungs are the last thing to develop when the baby is in the womb.

First of all, there's a medicine called surfactants, and what those do, is those take those lungs that can be almost be like cardboard, just very, very tough, and make it hard to breathe, they soften those lungs so that the baby has an easier time breathing. Madeline didn't have those. they weren't around when she was born.

Also, steroid shots for the mom. If they know that the baby might be born early, the mom can get some steroid shots. That also helps the baby's lung. Also, better ventilators, that can also help the babies breathe more easily.

COLLINS: All right, Elizabeth Cohen, thanks so much. We wish her the very best, even at 15 years old, huh?

COHEN: That's right.

COLLINS: Appreciate it.

Still to come, take a look at this: finally, Google, ready to trade on Wall Street? Well, how will Google employees fare as the company goes public. That's next. Stay with us right here on AMERICAN MORNING. (COMMERCIAL BREAK)

HEMMER: ... billion or something. I'm talking about.

Anyway, back on live TV here, trying to figure out what Google means. There as a definition for this. It means so many zeros after the one.

Anyway we're googling Google to see who becomes rich today.

And Gerri Willis is working for Andy Serwer.

Good morning to you.

GERRI WILLIS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Hey, Bill. Good to see you.

Of course, the founders are making a ton of dough off of this first and foremost. Sergey Brin, Larry Page, making a lot of money, $41 million each out of the IPO. Their remaining stake, $3.2 billion each, a ton of dough.

They're not the only ones, though, guys. There are some 900 new millionaires out of this company -- 900.

HEMMER: That company? Only that company?

WILLIS: Nine hundred, and 500 to 600 of those are going to be worth $2 million. But you know this is on paper only. Because in the stock market, as we know, anything can happen.

HEMMER: A lot of these people can't sell their shares for a while, right, depending on the agreement they have with the shares they're given?

WILLIS: Yes, typically there is some kind of a lockdown; they're not supposed to trade for a while, but hey, if you're an investor, interest in the GOOG shares -- G-O-O-G is going to be the ticker symbol. Often insiders sell out after a period of time. Stock trades down. You know, IPOs are not a fabulous investment for small investors, as we know.

HEMMER: They were in 1998, I think. Listen, why is that stock being held? At what point will they release it, do you know?

WILLIS: We're waiting. We're waiting. We're waiting. We're not sure when it's going to start trading. Of course, issued at 85 bucks, so that's the number you're looking to beat, if there's going to be any kind of pop. Nothing yet though.

HEMMER: OK, and I'm just told, 100 zeros.

WILLIS: One-hundred zeros. We have an answer to the question, oh great.

HEMMER: One-hundred zeros, Todd Bono (ph). Thank you, Todd, for that. Thank you, Gerri -- Heidi.

WILLIS: Thank you.

COLLINS: We have been watching something for coming to us from Boston now, Senator John Kerry addressing the International Association of Firefighters association. You see him there live.

Just a few moments ago, though, he addressed the criticism from the swift boat veterans, you know that the controversial ad that some of us have seen on television. Here's what he had to say about it.


KERRY: Over the last week, a group called Swift Boat Veterans for Truth has been attacking me. Of course, this group isn't interested in the truth. They're not telling the truth. They didn't even exist until I won the nomination for president.

But here's what you really need to know about them. They're funded by hundreds of thousands of dollars from a Republican contributor out of Texas. They're a front for the Bush campaign. And the fact that the president won't denounce what they're up to tells you everything that you need to know -- he wants them to do his dirty work.


COLLINS: Senator John Kerry defending his record today in Boston.

Jack is joining us.

HEMMER: There was a story in "The Washington Post," too, regarding that very issue, so continues to be out there.

COLLINS: Jack Cafferty joining us now, more on the presidential campaign, right?

JACK CAFFERTY, CNN ANCHOR: Coming up this weekend on "IN THE MONEY," Heidi, in a time of war, political spin kicking into high gear when it comes to the military records of these gentlemen. You may be surprised to learn -- or you may not, we're going to tell you anyway -- some of our most important presidents never heard a gunshot, never wore a military uniform.

We'll look at American presidents and their military record, and we'll see if we can figure out whether it makes a difference. That will be this weekend on "IN THE MONEY" Saturday at 1:00, Sunday at 3:00. And we certainly hope we don't get preempted.

Last week I think we got taken off the air for the hurricane, which is good. The week before, we got taken off the air so we could listen to some stump speech by a politician, and I didn't appreciate it one bit. Teresa -- should celebrities on juries? Teresa in Hammond, Louisiana writes this: "'It was a lot of fun. It was like being on her show,' according to fellow juror Suzanne Goodman (ph), who served with Oprah Winfrey on the Chicago murder trial. She now plans to appear on Oprah Winfrey's TV show." Teresa writes, answers, that answers the question, when has anyone ever described listening to the details of a murder and deciding a person's fate as fun."

Anthony in Dallas, Texas: "Absolutely. Before you're rich and famous, you're an American citizen. It's your duty and right, regardless of social status and fame."

And Denise from Metairie, Louisiana: "Yes, celebrity should be on juries, but not Oprah. She's opinionated and has a cult following of soccer moms who read what she reads, eats what she eats, and would vote the way she wanted them to vote."

That's all we have.

COLLINS: All right, Jack, thanks a lot.

Coming up on CNN in the next hour, back to Iraq for live update over the intense battle that could inflame Shiite Muslims, or help a fledgling government gain control. More on that coming up on "CNN LIVE TODAY." For now, though, AMERICAN MORNING will be back in just a moment.



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