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CNN SATURDAY MORNING NEWS

Scientists Say There Could be More Eruptions at Mount St. Helens; Just How Safe are Prescription Drugs?

Aired October 2, 2004 - 09:00   ET

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


BETTY NGUYEN, CNN ANCHOR: Well, good morning from the CNN Center here in Atlanta. This is CNN SATURDAY MORNING, October 2. I'm Betty Nguyen.
DREW GRIFFIN, CNN ANCHOR: I'm Drew Griffin. If you're just waking up on the West Coast, it's 6:00 a.m. We're going to have the latest on Mount St. Helens shortly, but first let's get to the headlines, shall we?

A doctor in Samarra say five more bodies arrived at the hospital overnight. U.S. and Iraqi troops are tightening their grip on the city where they killed more than 100 insurgent fighters Friday. At least one U.S. soldier has been killed as well.

Scientists say there could be more eruptions at Mount St. Helens in Washington state. Within hours of yesterday's eruption, seismic readings indicated pressure building again inside that volcano. Nobody hurt in the eruption, but some seismic instruments at the dome of the volcano have apparently been destroyed.

Documents released in the Kobe Bryant case give conflicting accounts of the hotel room encounter between Bryant and the woman who later accused him of rape. The case was dropped last month when the woman said she would not testify against the Los Angeles Lakers star.

President Bush campaigns today in Ohio. Stops scheduled in Columbus, Mansfield, and Cuyahoga Falls. Senator John Kerry in Orlando, Florida. He and running mate John Edwards also have a fund- raiser tonight in Washington.

NGUYEN: And here's what we've got coming up. The aftermath of U.S. assaults on insurgent strongholds in Iraq. We'll go live to Baghdad for the latest.

Just how safe are prescription drugs? This week's recall of a popular medication begs that question. An export joins us later in the hour.

And how's the Mount St. Helens feeling this morning after a case of the hiccups, as they call it? We'll take you live to the volcano.

GRIFFIN: In fact, we're going to do that right now. Scientists saying Mount St. Helens could stage more steam and ash shows. The volcano erupted into the blue sky over Washington state yesterday. It destroyed nothing except some seismic instruments stationed on the lava dome.

Details from Donna Tetreault. She is at the scene this morning. Good morning, Donna.

DONNA TETREAULT, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Good morning, Drew.

Well, scientists say that yesterday's explosion spewed out rocks the size of cars, if you can believe that. And this all started earlier in the week small earthquakes, a series of small earthquakes, really thousands of earthquakes took place here. And then that eruption took place yesterday.

This is the biggest (UNINTELLIGIBLE) seismic event here, volcano event in 18 years at Mount St. Helens. And scientists call this a hiccup, or one scientist also called it a throat-clearing. Now, this hiccup or eruption happened about noon Pacific. The explosion forced out steam and ash, all harmless, according to the U.S. Geological Survey.

The (UNINTELLIGIBLE) column vented for 24 minutes and headed about 10,000 feet into the air. The explosion occurred on the south side of the volcano's lava dome. That's where cracks had been detected.

This was really a spectacular event. Scientists don't believe at this point that there is any danger. Hundreds of tourists have made their way to the mountain to see the activity. Scientists do believe there will be more explosions in the coming days or weeks, but that those explosions will be small.

Now, this event is very different from the 1980 explosion, where 57 people were killed, causing $3 billion in damage. And after yesterday's explosion, the seismic activity did die down, but pressure is still building. And scientists say they will continue to monitor the volcano until they can determine that it has fallen back asleep, Drew.

GRIFFIN: Donna, this was preceded by a bunch of little earthquakes. Are they still having earthquakes up there?

TETREAULT: Well, the seismic activity did die down. And at this point we're waiting for updates from scientists. And they'll be updating us. They've been updating about 10:00 our time, Pacific Time, so we'll wait for that to hear more on that, Drew.

GRIFFIN: All right, Donna, looks cold there this morning.

TETREAULT: It is.

GRIFFIN: Mount St. Helens isn't the only volcano residents of the Pacific Northwest are concerned about.

Meteorologist Rob Marciano, familiar with the area and its activity joins us now from the Weather Center. Hi, Rob.

ROB MARCIANO, CNN METEOROLOGIST: Hi, Drew. I know you're familiar with the area as well. I'll ask you a couple of questions just a sec. Here's a map of the 1980 eruption and what the ash plume did at that time. (UNINTELLIGIBLE) it spread as far east eventually as Colorado, with, you know, little bit of a dusting here. Most folks affected were east of the Cascades across Yakima and central and eastern Washington with that westerly flow.

Let's show that video again of the eruption. The winds were different this time around. We're looking from the north to the south, and you can see how the plumes kind of drift towards the south and west, meaning there's offshore flow. The winds were in the opposite direction. So if this thing were to make a big eruption like it did or even half the size of what it did in 1980, put the city of Portland, which is about 50 miles to the south and west, would be covered with ash.

But as it stands, this was just a little guy, and my friends last night that I talked to in Portland said they have crystal clear blue skies all day long, so not much of an issue.

Mount Hood is another volcano that is just to the east of Portland of concern, but really of greater concern is this mountain. I think we have video of Mount Rainier, which is just to the south and east of Seattle. This one towers over 14,000 feet. St. Helens, before it erupted 1980, was around 10,000, and Mount Hood is about 11,000, so this one definitely the biggest across the north, north, Northwest. And it is real close to Seattle.

So if this thing were to erupt -- and that's the possibility, of course, they would know it ahead of time, but if it were to erupt, the debris and lava flow and or at least the lahar and debris flow that would go down the mountain certainly would affect populated areas in Seattle.

So Drew, I know you've been in the base of this mountain. I know that you've worked in Seattle. And I assume you can confirm that. Tell me what else you know about it, (UNINTELLIGIBLE).

GRIFFIN: Oh, my gosh, it would just be something terrible. You know, you know, Mount St. Helens is so remote. And around Mount Rainier, there's just, especially if it blows out the side like Mount St. Helens did, that could really spell trouble for a lot of people. And of course the air traffic for months and months was affected by Mount St. Helens. So it would be a big deal.

MARCIANO: It's a neat site. I climbed it and was on the top of that rim looking down into the crater, and you saw that little lava dome where this most recent eruption is. And beyond that, the trees, and I know you've seen this, the trees just look like a nuclear blast even 25 years later.

GRIFFIN: Well, you heard what Donna said. This little burp had rocks the size of cars being tossed around. So that shows you the strength of this. When the original partion (ph) of that mountain blew, it just annihilated an entire forest, which still lays dormant today. MARCIANO: The other thing I'm amazed about is how well these guys can monitor this thing and come up with a number like a 70 percent chance of an eruption, and within the next 12 hours the thing's is burping like this. So these guys are good, and we're glad to have them around. And we'll know well ahead of time whether Mount Hood or Mount Rainier or some other volcano will erupt. That's the good news.

GRIFFIN: Well, if Mount Rainier goes, get out of the way.

MARCIANO: Yes, for sure.

GRIFFIN: Thanks, Rob.

MARCIANO: OK.

GRIFFIN: There's some rumbling in Sicily as well. Scientists keeping a close eye on Mount Aetna spewing steams of lava on the Italian island there. The hyperactive volcano has been even more volatile than usual lately, but so far the lava is posing no threat to the residential areas.

NGUYEN: Now to the battle for Iraq, which was renewed this week with a fight to retake Samarra. Street to street, U.S. and Iraqi troops are trying to take the city back from insurgents. Pentagon sources say it is the start of what will be a broader offensive. There's been sporadic gunfire in Samarra this morning after intense fighting there yesterday.

U.S. forces have also been assaulting another insurgent stronghold. A hospital, or hospital officials in Fallujah say a new round of air strikes has killed at least nine Iraqis, including some children. The U.S. military says it was targeting terrorists.

The insurgents have also been on the attack as well. Small arms fire has killed an American soldier in Baghdad. U.S. forces are also clashing with insurgents in Baghdad's Sadr City slum.

The situation in Iraq is a major issue for most Americans going to the polls in one month, but many Iraqis feel their lives won't change no matter who is in the White House.

CNN's Brent Sadler takes a look at how some civilians in Baghdad are feeling.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

BRENT SADLER, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): A middle-of-the- night presidential debate, Baghdad time. Some Iraqis tuned in, but most of the embattled population slept.

But viewers claim it makes little difference to them which candidate wins the White House race. "Nothing will change," says Whalid Najif (ph), a retired teacher. "They are two sides of the same coin." The debate may not resonate so much here, but some opinion is split on which candidate is best for Iraqis. "We support Kerry," says Whalid, "because if he wins the election, he'll withdraw U.S. troops from Iraq. Bush wouldn't."

The flip side, "Kerry was just a military man," says Jimia Majid (ph), a former civil servant. "Bush has more experience in office. He's better."

Overshadowing the U.S. political debate here is the daily threat to life and limb, with harsh accusations that no matter the circumstances, the U.S. is responsible.

A Baghdad blast site where car bombs killed dozens of children Thursday. American troops attending the opening ceremony of a new sewage plant were handing out candy to children. "Handing out candy? Why?" says Mustafa Abdul Karim. "They're using the kids for their own protection." Twisted logic that is shared by many who grieve here.

Mustafa weeps for his 14-year-old son and an Iraqi dream. "Where is democracy?" he cries. "Where are the promises made by our prime minister?"

Promises like the return of sewage treatment, an essential service, destroyed by the blasts.

Faiza Abdul Rida had a job at the new plant, witnessed the carnage, and speaks the thoughts of many here. "If this is the price of freedom," says Faiza, "we don't want it. We were living safely under Saddam Hussein."

(on camera): Morale may be low in places, admit Iraqi government officials, but it should get better. Conditional, they say, on U.S. backing to defeat insurgents and regain control.

Brent Sadler, CNN, Baghdad.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

GRIFFIN: If you couldn't stay on top of the news this week, we're going to rewind and take a look back.

After a wild ride on the way up, the private "Spaceshipone" reached suborbital space and later landed safely. "Spaceshipone" needs to fly one more time to win a $10 million prize. The second flight planned Monday.

The company that manufactures Vioxx announced it's pulling the arthritis drug off the market. Merck and Company's voluntary withdrawal is based on a clinical trial showing a possible risk of cardiovascular complications. More on prescription drug safety at 9:00 a.m. Eastern this hour with chief of rheumatology at Duke University Medical Center. He'll be our Betty's guest.

And in Samarra, thousands of U.S. and Iraqi forces killed more than 100 insurgents in an operation to root out rebels in the city. In recent weeks, U.S. and Iraqi troops have been working to regain control of the city at the northern edge of the dangerous Sunni triangle.

Tomorrow we'll fast forward, take in what's going to be making news in the spotlight in the week ahead.

And newly released documents give us some new insight about the Kobe Bryant case. We're going to tell you about that.

NGUYEN: Plus, on the road again with President Bush. We'll take you live to his next stop.

And good morning, New Orleans. See your favorite swamp critters chow down on some Cajun food and dance to your favorite Cajun and Zydeco music there today at the 20th annual Louisiana Swamp Festival. Rob will have your complete forecast right here on CNN SATURDAY MORNING.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

GRIFFIN: It's 9:15. Welcome back to CNN SATURDAY MORNING. I'm Drew Griffin.

Here's a check of what's making headlines this morning.

The sounds and sights of warfare in Samarra, where U.S. and Iraqi forces trying to uproot insurgents. The fighting seems to have calmed this morning after yesterday's intense battle, but there's still sporadic gunfire.

There could be more rumblings to come from Mount St. Helens. The volcano spewed steam and ash yesterday, its first major eruption in 18 years. Scientists say there could indeed be more eruptions.

Shifting themes. George Bush, John Kerry, back on the campaign trail after a sharp debate over Iraq and the war on terror. Their focus now, the economy.

NGUYEN: And that leads us to our e-mail question of the day. Will you watch the next presidential debate, and why? All you have to do is send your responses in to wam@cnn.com, and we'll read those responses on the air.

Little later on CNN SATURDAY, at noon Eastern, the ethics guy will be on hand to help you make the right choice. If you find yourself facing a moral dilemma at home, with your friends, or at work, why not ask Bruce Weinstein, the ethics guy? All you have to do is e-mail your questions to him. Here, the address is on the screen, it is ethics@cnn.com. If you've got questions, he's got answers each Saturday at noon Eastern right here on CNN.

GRIFFIN: Let's take a look at news across America.

Less turbulence for U.S. Airways. The carrier and its pilots union have struck a tentative deal on a new contract. No word on details. U.S. Airways had been pushing for pay cuts, saying it's in danger of going out of business. U.S. Airways filed twice now for bankruptcy.

Atlantic City, New Jersey, thousands of hotel casino workers walked off the job and onto picket lines at seven casinos. They want a three-year contract and continued casino-funded healthcare. Roulette wheels still spinning, why, well, dealers and other casino workers aren't included in this job action.

NGUYEN: In Massachusetts, counselors are on hand this weekend at an elementary school north of Boston after a car accident. Police in Stoneham say an elderly driver lost control of his vehicle yesterday, hopped a curb, injuring a dozen children and adults.

And in California, a legal brawl over Barry Bonds's 700th home run ball, well, that is over. A judge says the fan who ended up with it is the rightful owner. Steve Williams had been sued by another fan who says the ball was stolen from him during a mad scramble. Williams says he plans to sell that ball. But of course.

More details now from the newly unsealed documents in the Kobe Bryant case. The papers show conflicting accounts of the NBA star's encounter with a woman who accused him of raping her. According to those documents, she told police Bryant ignored her pleas, and she says she knew Bryant heard her and her words, because "every time I said no, he tightened his hold around me."

The woman also says she cried during the encounter and that she led Bryant to believe she only wanted a kiss and a hug. She says she didn't intend to have sex.

The documents show Bryant painted a far different picture when police questioned him. Bryant says his (UNINTELLIGIBLE) accuser told him she hoped to have sex. He says she never cried and even gave him a goodbye kiss. He also asked if the woman wanted money.

Criminal charges against Bryant have been dropped, but the woman has filed a civil suit against the NBA star, Drew.

GRIFFIN: Now our weekly look at developments in the war on terror.

Death sentences Yemen, a new terror tape, and what President Bush knew before the war.

A Yemeni court is where we begin, sentencing two men to death in the bombing of the U.S.S. "Cole" in the year 2000. One of them is believed to be the mastermind of that attack, which killed 17 U.S. sailors. The U.S. has been holding that person in a secret location.

It appears to be the real thing, the CIA saying the voice on a newly surfaced audiotape is probably that of al Qaeda's number two man, Ayman al-Zawahiri. The speaker urges Muslims to fight what he calls an anti-Muslim coalition led by America.

And finally, warnings of trouble even before the Iraq war started, two classified reports prepared for President Bush two months before the invasion. Sources say those reports warned a war could spark an insurgency with Saddam loyalists and terrorist groups joining forces.

Coming up, honesty check. The story about a group of young men put to the test.

NGUYEN: Plus, a great way to float away from all your troubles. Rob Marciano's forecast is just over the next cloud.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

NGUYEN: Well, good morning, N'Awlins, as they like to call it. This is a look at the Superdome there. Blue skies above, a little cloudy, not too bad, though. Rob Marciano has the forecast shortly.

But first, here's a little sports news for you, Drew.

GRIFFIN: Yes, you know, if you watched the program "Seinfeld," you probably saw that episode finding New York Yankees owner George Steinbrenner's soft spot was a little hard, but nine New Jersey boys did find it.

Dick Brennan of CNN affiliate WNYW picks up the story from there.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

CHRIS OSMON, TICKET FINDER: Four hundred and sixty-two dollars' worth of tickets.

DICK BRENNAN, REPORTER, WNYW (voice-over): It could have been a case of finders-keepers. These seventh grade boys, nine young baseball fans, found an incredible prize on the street, $20,000 worth of Yankees tickets scattered around this intersection.

OSMON: There was a split-second when we found the tickets that I thought, these are tickets that we might be able to use.

BRENNAN: The envelope, containing 70 Yankees tickets for the playoffs and World Series, had, believe it or not, fallen off a truck. The prize tickets could have fetched $100,000 on the Internet.

ROBERT WECK, SUMMIT, NEW JERSEY, POLICE: They could have kept them and either tried to go themselves, or sell them. But without hesitation, they flagged down a police officer or called us, and we went and got them.

GEORGE STEINBRENNER: Good deeds are always the right thing to do.

BRENNAN: George Steinbrenner rewarded the boys' integrity. He invited them to Yankee Stadium to see their team clinch the division title.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

GRIFFIN: (UNINTELLIGIBLE) Dick Brennan with that story. And by the way, the Yankees have captured their seventh straight American League East title. NGUYEN: Good for those boys.

Hey, we want to show you something full of hot air, and for that, of course, we go to Rob Marciano. Good morning, Rob.

MARCIANO: Hi, guys.

They, George gave them tickets to a game that means absolutely nothing. I love that. That's (UNINTELLIGIBLE).

NGUYEN: Oh, Rob.

MARCIANO: Oh, sorry, I'm...

NGUYEN: It's a good gesture.

MARCIANO: And it's my team, I should...

NGUYEN: ... (UNINTELLIGIBLE) in it.

MARCIANO: You're right. Hey, speak...

NGUYEN: Let's get to the hot air and the balloons.

MARCIANO: All right. Beautiful pictures for you out of Albuquerque, New Mexico. Look at that. The Albuquerque International Balloon Festival, or fiesta, as they like to call it, 900 of those beautiful balloons will be taking flight for the next nine days. Yesterday morning, it was just picture perfect, light winds and cool temperatures, and nothing but clear skies. And they're loving life.

A little bit chillier this morning, and winds are whipping, so I'm not sure they'll have as good a luck as that. But that is a sight to behold, it's a grand tradition down there in New Mexico, and it's going to be happening over the next week.

(WEATHER REPORT)

MARCIANO: Enjoy your weekend.

NGUYEN: Yes, thank goodness, I think we will enjoy it now. Thank you, Rob.

MARCIANO: You got it.

NGUYEN: Want to give you a live picture now from Columbus, Ohio, where President Bush is touring the state this morning for some campaign stops. He'll be speaking shortly.

You can expect very few days off for George Bush and John Kerry over the next four weeks. We're on the road with the president. That is live on CNN SATURDAY MORNING.

GRIFFIN: Plus, new concerns about the safety of medical remedies, this after a popular prescription drug was yanked from the market this week. A medical expert tells us what to look for, coming up on CNN SATURDAY MORNING.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

NGUYEN: Back on the campaign trail, President Bush leaves Washington behind, bound for the Buckeye State.

GRIFFIN: That story is coming up. But first, here's what's happening right now in the news.

Pentagon sources say the military operation unleashed in Samarra is just the beginning of a nationwide campaign in Iraq to defeat the insurgency there. More than 100 insurgents, terrorists, have been reported killed in Samarra. One U.S. soldier also died. The Pentagon hopes success in Samarra will boost the morale of the Iraq's newly trained recruits and build confidence that security is possible.

Britain's prime minister, Tony Blair, says he's absolutely fine after having his ticker reset. Doctors used an arterial catheter and radio waves to remedy an irregular heartbeat or flutter. They say it should be a permanent fix. Mr. Blair was at the London hospital only a few hours before returning there to his official residence, 10 Downing Street. He says he'll be back in the office on Monday.

In Salt Lake City, Utah, the whereabouts of Lori Hacking has been solved. Decomposed human remains found in a county landfill have been positively identified now as that of the 27-year-old woman. Her husband is charged with her murder.

NGUYEN: Now to the race for the White House. President Bush and Senator Kerry put the spotlight on pocketbook issues today. Bush will pitch his economic agenda during a campaign swing through Ohio. And his first stop is Columbus. CNN's Suzanne Malveaux is there, and she joins us with the latest. Good morning, Suzanne.

SUZANNE MALVEAUX, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Well, good morning, Betty.

While Cleveland is predominantly Democratic, Cincinnati Republican, Columbus is both geographically and politically right in the middle. That is where the president is going to be today. And, of course, I cannot overstate how important Ohio is to this president. He won it by just 3.5 percentage points last time around. This is his 27th visit. He was here just six days ago.

The president, of course, is going to be focusing on his domestic agenda first. He is going to be talking about the importance of home ownership before the National Association of Homebuilders. He's going to go on to Mansfield, where he's going to expand that message before he attends a very large, large rally we're expecting.

Now, Southwestern Ohio for decades has been a Republican stronghold. This administration desperately trying to hold onto that support, but it's expected to be kind of a tough sell here. Ohio, as you know, devastated in the manufacturing industry. The job loss, unemployment rates 6.3 percent, manufacturing. But the president is going to stress his economic policy. He's going to stress his healthcare policy, education, and so forth, saying he's making a difference, as well as you may expect, Betty, he's also going to continue to try to cut down the arguments that his opponent Kerry made in that first presidential debate. He'll continue to say that Kerry's positions on Iraq are inconsistent, that he would not make a good commander in chief, and that he is a waffler, that he is bad for allies.

Now, this debate, of course, has raised the stakes for the next two. The next one, of course, on Friday. We're told that the Bush administration, the president already working on his message when it comes to that following debate.

And, Betty, should also let you know as well the Democrats are not just going to let the president blow in here and deliver his message without responding. The Democratic National Committee is releasing its own ad today to coincide with the president's visit. They're going to be talking about some of the things that they believe has been very bad for the state under the Bush administration, Betty.

NGUYEN: The clock is ticking. All right. Thank you. Suzanne Malveaux in Ohio today.

The Bush-Cheney campaign headquarters in suburban Seattle was burglarized this weekend. The state GOP chairman says three laptop computers containing campaign plans were stolen, and he says he thinks the burglary was politically motivated. But police say there's no evidence of that, Drew.

GRIFFIN: Democrat John Kerry also highlighting the economy today on his travels. Senator Kerry expected to deliver a speech in Orlando, Florida, accusing President Bush of forgetting middle-class families and favoring wealthy special interests. Tonight there is a Kerry-Edwards fund-raiser in the nation's capital.

Some of rock music's former biggest stars have launched a 10-day concert tour aimed at defeating President Bush. It's called Vote for a Change, or Vote for Change. Bruce Springsteen and R.E.M. getting things started last night in Philadelphia. They and other groups will perform in 30 cites, mainly in battleground states, including Ohio, Michigan, and Florida. Proceeds go to the group ACT, which raises money for Democratic candidates.

NGUYEN: Let's talk about the e-mail question of the day. All morning long we've been asking you, Will you watch the next presidential debate?

And we got some answers from Ed in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. He writes, "Yes, I will watch the next debate. I wasn't going to watch the last one, and I'm glad I did. I'm more interested in the domestic issues and policies than in the foreign policy and look forward to what each has to say, especially on the economy and health care."

GRIFFIN: Here's our next writer. "Yes, I'll watch the next presidential debate, because I believe it's the only way for me to really see what the candidates stand for. I don't believe any of the ads on television. Ralph, registered to vote for 50 years. Way to go, Ralph.

Thanks for sending us your e-mails, every one of you, this morning. It's been fun.

NGUYEN: And we'll have another question next weekend.

The time right now is 9:35 Eastern.

Washington, D.C., may be a partisan city, but there is one thing all Washingtonians can agree on, and that is Leonard Slatkin, the National Symphony Orchestra's music director. He is a local and national treasure, and he joins Robert Novak in this week's edition of The Novak Zone.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

LEONARD SLATKIN, MUSIC DIRECTOR, NATIONAL SYMPHONY ORCHESTRA: Williams.

ROBERT NOVAK, HOST: Welcome to The Novak Zone. We're at the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts in Washington, D.C., with Leonard Slatkin, music director of the National Symphony Orchestra.

Maestro, you grew up in a musical family. Your father was the famous Felix Slatkin, who was a, not only a classical violinist but he was concertmaster of the 20th Century-Fox orchestra, he was Hollywood Bowl conductor, arranger and conductor for Frank Sinatra. Did you think of going in that route toward the movies and show business rather than classical music?

SLATKIN: I did for a while, but to some degree, when you grow up in that milieu, and you have all those incredible artists, you don't think of the film music industry as being anything other than classic. To us, all music was the same. My parents always said, If it's good, it's good, it doesn't matter what category you put it in.

NOVAK: Now, you were the conductor in the symphony orchestra. You still are the conductor emeritus of this, of the St. Louis Orchestra. What's the difference in conducting (UNINTELLIGIBLE) orchestrating a large Midwestern city like St. Louis and here in the nation's capitals?

SLATKIN: My years in St. Louis were wonderful, exciting years. And when you conduct an orchestra there, as would be for almost any community in the United States, you're the center of cultural attention. You determine the entire policy of how music, at least, will go in that area.

In Washington or some of the other major capitals, you're part of a larger picture. You try to collaborate with your colleagues (UNINTELLIGIBLE) in opera, ballet, drama, certainly here at the Kennedy Center, because we have so much going on, it's really like one piece of a gigantic puzzle.

NOVAK: Leonard Slatkin, you recently celebrated your 60th birthday, quite young for a conductor, and you recently had a celebratory concert of the National Symphony on September 26. What did you do special to celebrate that occasion?

SLATKIN: Well, the fact is that so many people, friends and colleagues over the years, came to participate was touching beyond belief. The fact that Itzahk Perlman was here, Pinky Zuckerman, James Galway, the LeBeque (ph) sisters, Michelle, Camilla, friends and colleagues for all these years came. So for me, the celebration was simply being able to thank everybody for having been part of my life and sharing musical experience.

But along the way, a lot of good stories, lot of good memories from the past, and a lot of us thinking, Well, let's see how much we have left in us.

Go.

I think you have the cue for, Yah-da-da-da-da-da-da-da-da-da-da- da-da-da-da-da, but we'll do it slowly one time.

Ah, no, see, it's, Yah-dump-da-dah-da.

Violins, you play together here, 114.

For those of you, longer, Yaah-daah-daah-dum. You play that pitch with the piano on the fourth 16, no earlier. Yah -- da-da-da- da-da-da-da-da-da-da-da-da-da-da-da, pah. One seventy-seven, everybody. Go.

That's it. We can start at the beginning, in tempo.

That's it. Good.

NOVAK: Now, you have traveled around the world and had concerts in Europe. What's the difference between a European audience and an American audiences? Are they more attuned? Are they more sophisticated about music?

SLATKIN: I wouldn't use the word sophisticated. What I would say is that a lot of European audiences, as well as Japanese audiences, by the way, and Koreans, are a little more versed in school about what classical music is about. They know more of their roots and traditions. Here, we tend to downplay music in schools. We don't really do education the way we used to.

NOVAK: Do you think, maestro, that the -- that music can bridge some cultural gaps? I believe the Iraqi orchestra was here recently. Do you think that can be an effective instrument of bringing people together?

SLATKIN: I think music is a great healing force. One of the vivid memories I have immediately after September 11 attack wasn't so much what people said, but the members of Congress stood on the steps and sang, that they used music to express part of their sorrow and their grief and pride in the country. NOVAK: You mentioned the fact that when you were in school, you had very good musical training. I was in the high school band. I played the clarinet, not that well, but I enjoyed it.

SLATKIN: You have a colleague with Mr. Greenspan, who is a clarinetist as well.

NOVAK: Oh, he was (UNINTELLIGIBLE) play.

SLATKIN: I'm sure you were fine.

NOVAK: But do you think that today's kids don't have the opportunity that we had, because of economic constraints and budget crunches limiting musical education in the schools?

SLATKIN: I think there's no question about that, at least in the public sector. Private schools do it a little bit better. Many public school systems, though, have no programs going on. And that's very sad. It should be available, it should be part of our history, it should be indeed part of the history curriculum.

NOVAK: You also have been active in trying to develop conductors. Can you tell us about that?

SLATKIN: I think one of the most difficult things to do in my profession is to make that transition from the role of amateur, student, whatever it is, and all of a sudden you're thrust in front of a group of highly trained professionals. Your tools of communication change overnight. And many young conductors, and older ones, are not prepared for that change.

The institute is about helping them with that, understanding the difference.

NOVAK: That's the National Conductors Institute.

SLATKIN: That's right. And so it comes -- people come from all over now to participate as conductors, as auditors, and it's really to help, not teach how to conduct, but what to do when you're in front of a group of professionals. It's very different.

NOVAK: And now the big question for Leonard Slatkin, music director of the National Symphony Orchestra.

Maestro, if you had a choice to conduct your favorite work, what would it be?

SLATKIN: Hmm, that's always difficult. I like to have a glib answer and say, well, whatever I'm conducting at the time is my favorite work. But I think if I was going to choose one that I would just want to go out with, it would probably be the great C Major Symphony of Franz Schubert. I don't do it that often any more, but it's one work that has a resonance and that I adore doing every time I see this work.

NOVAK: Leonard Slatkin, thank you very much. And thank you for being in The Novak Zone.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

NGUYEN: And we do want to wish Bob Novak a speedy recovery. He fell in Miami after the presidential debates. He had hip surgery, and so far we're hearing he's OK, but we want him to get back real soon. Get well, (UNINTELLIGIBLE), Bob.

GRIFFIN: Apparently writing on his laptop to finish his column, so...

NGUYEN: But of course, he's a hard worker.

GRIFFIN: He'll be fine.

NGUYEN: That big question.

GRIFFIN: Right now, it's 9:43, just about a month to go before America heads to the polls. And "ON THE STORY" crews take you live to the campaign trail. That's coming up at the top of the hour.

NGUYEN: And the recall of the arthritis drug and painkiller Vioxx raises the question, how safe are the drugs we use? Ahead, a medical expert to talk about it.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

GRIFFIN: It's 9:46 in the morning. The headlines here.

In Iraq, sporadic gunfire echoes through the Sunni Muslim stronghold of Samarra. U.S. and Iraqi forces battling pockets of resistance. The Pentagon says the offensive the first in an effort to regain control of a string of cities before Iraqi elections take place in January.

All's quiet out west, at least so far. Live pictures. The sun crowns Mount St. Helens one day after it erupted yesterday. The volcano was dormant for 18 years, shot a plume of steam and ash two miles into the sky. That's what it looked like yesterday.

In Seattle, a pair of singles by the Mariners' Ichiro Suzuki (ph). Here's one right here. Sets a major league record for hits this season. He has 258 hits, breaks George Sisler's 84-year-old mark.

NGUYEN: We're going to shift gears a little bit. Millions of arthritis sufferers are wondering where to turn now. Drugmaker Merck has recalled the popular arthritis drug Vioxx. A study found it can double the risk of heart attacks and strokes. Doctors, patients, and insurance companies are busy trying to figure out the next step.

We want to talk more about the safety of Vioxx and other prescription drugs.

And joining me is Dr. David Pisetsky, the chief of rheumatology at Duke University Medical Center.

Good morning to you.

DR. DAVID PISETSKY, DUKE UNIVERSITY MEDICAL CENTER: Good morning.

NGUYEN: Well, let's talk about this Vioxx recall, because it has left a lot of people just frightened. They don't know where to turn, who to trust. Is this a result of drug companies just being too secretive about its information and its findings?

PISETSKY: (UNINTELLIGIBLE), the drug company is like most of science and medicine. It's remarkably open. The data on which this recall was based was freely available, and it was in fact, I think, a testament to the system that this data became out and was acted upon in a very prompt fashion.

For over five years, we've known there's a potential concern about Vioxx. And I think Merck acted very responsibly with these new data in terms of removing it from the market.

NGUYEN: I want to show you a quote from the FDA, where the acting FDA commissioner says, Lester, Dr. Lester Crawford, says, "Merck did the right thing by promptly reporting these findings to FDA and voluntarily withdrawing the product from the market."

But you just mentioned, you guys have known about this, or at least the industry has known about this, for some five years. Why is it just being taken off the shelves now?

PISETSKY: Right. Well, the drug of which Vioxx is a class -- these are the so-called coxibs -- or specific cyclooxygenase inhibitors -- were developed to be safer than the existing products, the nonsteroidal antiinflammatories. At that time, there was significant concerns about the side effects of nonsteroidal antiinflammatories.

So the new class of drugs were developed to reduce that risk. What became clear over time is that there was a balance between gastrointestinal safety with cardiovascular safety. What was not clear was where that balance fit for each of the drugs. And it seems with Vioxx, there is more cardiovascular risk than the benefit you might get in terms of less GI side effects.

So I think while we had the data, it was the interpretation and the relative risk and benefits that had to be really understood much better before a recall would be considered.

NGUYEN: Doctor, quickly, we're out of time, but I need to ask you about consumers, people taking these drugs. What do they do now? Who do they trust? Where do they go?

PISETSKY: I think for each person that they, you know, they should consult their physician about what would be the most effective and the safest particular agent for them. There's no absolute safe or unsafe. It's for the patient and what other risk factors. So it's important to know if you've had potential problems with other existing agents, what your age is, whether you have any other problems.

All these should be discussed with your physician to come up with probably what would be the hopefully the safest and hopefully the most effective one for you.

NGUYEN: Dr. David Pisetsky, Duke University Medical Center. Thank you for your time and insight this morning.

PISETSKY: Thank you very much.

NGUYEN: Drew?

GRIFFIN: It was a very big day yesterday in Atlanta for one of the biggest people in Georgia.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Happy birthday to you, happy birthday to you...

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Happy birthday to you, happy birthday to you...

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Happy birthday to you, happy birthday to you...

(END VIDEO CLIP)

GRIFFIN: A birthday for President Carter. We'll tell you how old he is when we come back.

MARCIANO: And it was a very cold day yesterday in Denver, Colorado. KUSA brings us this live shot. It is currently 35 degrees in the Mile High City. Going to get up into the 60s today. So that's balmy compared to what you had yesterday. Good morning, Denver. We'll be back in a few minutes with the forecast around the country.

CNN live Saturday morning returns in a moment.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

GRIFFIN: Just before 8:00 in Denver. Look at the snow in the hills in the background. The Rocky Mountains, people starting to make their plans for the ski season.

NGUYEN: Want to go now to Washington and CNN's Kelli Arena, for the latest on "ON THE STORY" today. Give us a preview. Good morning.

KELLI ARENA, "ON THE STORY": Good morning. Well, we are "ON THE STORY" from here in Washington, to the campaign trail, to the battlefields of northern Iraq. Suzanne Malveaux and Candy Crowley will talk about the impact of the first presidential debate and what to look for in coming days. Kathleen Hays looks at the fallout of record oil prices on the economy and on the pocketbook. Barbara Starr and Jane Arraf have the latest on the fighting in Iraq. And I'll talk about terrorism concerns with just one month to election day. All coming up, all on "ON THE STORY."

Back to you, Betty and Drew.

NGUYEN: Love the blue you have on today, Kelli.

ARENA: Thank you.

NGUYEN: We got the same memo. Thanks. Looking forward to that.

All right, let's talk about weather.

GRIFFIN: Yes, see what Rob is wearing. Hi, Rob.

MARCIANO: Green.

GRIFFIN: Good.

NGUYEN: No blue.

MARCIANO: Yes, no blue. You know, I'm sliding (UNINTELLIGIBLE), trying to get those earth tones with autumn coming around.

(WEATHER FORECAST)

MARCIANO: So it is definitely feeling like fall in many spots. Get in the mood for it, guys. Back to you in the studio.

GRIFFIN: Thank you, Rob. We, there's a beautiful shot of Denver, Colorado, in the mountains in the background.

And we end the hour here in Atlanta, just down the street from CNN Center. Music, laughter filling the Carter Center to mark former president Jimmy Carter's 80th birthday. Performing at the gold Steinway grand piano built just for the occasion, Roger Williams, who shares the same birthday.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Happy birthday to you, happy birthday to you. Happy birthday, dear (UNINTELLIGIBLE), happy birthday to you.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Happy birthday to you, happy birthday to you. Happy birthday, dear (UNINTELLIGIBLE), happy birthday to you.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Happy birthday to you, happy birthday to you. Happy birthday, dear (UNINTELLIGIBLE), happy birthday to you.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

GRIFFIN: And, you know, Roger Williams, also 80 years old, played that piano for 13 hours yesterday, taking requests.

NGUYEN: Thirteen hours? Now, that's a party.

Well, we appreciate you spending your time with us this morning for CNN SATURDAY MORNING. GRIFFIN: "ON THE STORY" coming up next, after Betty does the news.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

TO ORDER A VIDEO OF THIS TRANSCRIPT, PLEASE CALL 800-CNN-NEWS OR USE OUR SECURE ONLINE ORDER FORM LOCATED AT www.fdch.com


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