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Georgia Lawmakers Weigh in on Childhood Obesity; Fancy Freebies; Boston's FleetCenter Auctioned Single-Day Naming Rights on eBay

Aired February 18, 2005 - 06:28   ET


KELLY WALLACE, CNN ANCHOR: What's safe and what's not when it comes to painkillers? The FDA weighs in.
And a bonus for customers or bogus giveaways? Before you sign up for a free gadget, listen up.

It is Friday, February 18, and you are watching DAYBREAK.

Good Friday morning to you. From the Time Warner center in New York, I'm Kelly Wallace, in today for Carol Costello.

"Now in the News."

There has been a suicide bombing attack near a mosque in southern Baghdad. At least 17 people are dead, another 20 injured. The U.S. military reports there has been a second explosion near a mosque in western Baghdad. No word on casualties there. The blasts come a day before Ashura, the holiest day of the year for Shia Muslims.

President and Mrs. Bush leave Sunday for some fence-mending in Europe. The president says he plans to remind European leaders of the interest shared by Americans and Europeans.

Russian President Vladimir Putin is defending Iran. He says he is convinced Iran does not have nuclear weapons, and he pledges to keep cooperating with Iran on its nuclear program. The U.S. has criticized Tehran's nuclear program, fearing it is developing nuclear weapons.

Prosecutors have investigated a Canadian woman's charge that comedian Bill Cosby drugged her and groped her. The prosecutors found insufficient evidence to file any charges against Cosby.

It's time to check the weather again with Rob Marciano, in for Chad Myers.


WALLACE: Turning to some medical news. A university researcher says more drugs like Vioxx and Celebrex are awaiting approval, and he's warning the FDA against rushing them to market. Hearings are being held in Washington on so-called Cox-2 inhibitors. Those are painkillers like Vioxx, Celebrex and Bextra. Vioxx was pulled off the market because it may cause heart attacks or strokes.

Dr. David Graham, an FDA whistleblower, describes that risk.


DR. DAVID GRAHAM, FDA WHISTLEBLOWER: It would be probably more significant than smoking or diabetes or hypertension. It may be more important than the combination of several of those factors in a patient. For the lower dose, it's probably more than hypertension, a little less than diabetes and a little less than smoking.


WALLACE: Meanwhile, mixed messages today from Merck Research Labs, maker of Vioxx. Company President Peter Kim says Vioxx could be back on the market if the FDA decide its benefits outweigh its risks.


DR. PETER KIM, PRESIDENT, MERCK LABS: If this committee and the FDA agree that what we are dealing with here is a class-affect, then I think it would be important for us to take the implications of that conclusion into consideration with regard Vioxx, particularly given the unique benefits that Vioxx provides.


WALLACE: But another Merck official, Dr. Ned Braunstein, says not only Vioxx, but other drugs of the same class, like Celebrex and Bextra, may cause heart problems or strokes. Celebrex and Bextra are made by Pfizer, and they are still on the market.

Well, as you know by now, President Bush has chosen the first- ever director of national intelligence. The appointment of John Negroponte to the newly-created post is drawing praise and criticism.

CNN's Soledad O'Brien will speak to a national security insider on "AMERICAN MORNING."

That's a tease there, Soledad. Good morning to you.

SOLEDAD O'BRIEN, CNN ANCHOR: Absolutely. Hey, Kelly, good morning to you.

As you mentioned, some people are very pleased and others not quite so pleased. This morning, we talk with 9/11 Commissioner Tim Roemer. He points out that -- and you will notice -- that when they named John Negroponte they also named his deputy, who has a very strong background in military intelligence. And he says there's a reason for that.

This morning, we're going to talk to him about why he thinks John Negroponte may not be the right man for the job. He also is going to tell us why he thinks that naming a national intelligence director was not a priority for the White House.

That's ahead this morning, Kelly, in just a little bit at the top of the hour. Back to you.

WALLACE: All right, Soledad, a busy news morning indeed. We'll see you in about 25 minutes or so. Thanks so much.

Well, the crusade against childhood obesity could play out on children's report cards in Georgia if some lawmakers get their way.


WALLACE (voice over): Many schoolchildren are already nervous about bringing their report card home. Now, some Georgia lawmakers want report cards to also list students' body mass index, an effort to help curb childhood obesity.

The body mass index is determined by a formula based on weight and height, and signals whether a person is overweight or obese.

FRANCESCA SMITH, STUDENT: Mainly the report card is to show your grades, not your weight. You don't get into a college because of your weight. That's nobody business. It's my personal business.

WALLACE: The bill, introduced Wednesday, would not only require that the report card show the child's body mass index twice a year, but also tell parents whether it is below, within or above the normal range.

STEPHANIE BENFIELD, GEORGIA STATE HOUSE: This might be a little wake-up call. We're not trying to stigmatize. We're not trying to say, you know, your child is fat. But we're trying to get the message across that you need to be healthy.

WALLACE: If the proposal makes the grade and becomes law, Georgia would not be the first state to grade students' weight. Arkansas already requires body mass index to be included, along with grades, on students' report cards. Like Georgia, Texas, Pennsylvania and New York are considering such a system.


And "The Atlanta Journal-Constitution" reports Georgia legislators have unsuccessfully tried to ban soft drink machines in schools, require recess or add physical education classes to the school in their battle against obesity.

Well, it's time to hear from you. This morning we've been asking, what do you think? The "Question of the Day" here on DAYBREAK: Should weight be included on school report cards?

And here are some of your responses.

We have a response from Mary. She says: "If the government is so concerned about the weight of our nation's children, why don't they provide our schools with enough funding for physical education programs?" Phys-ed is not only good for the body but the mind, too, Rob. That's also what Georgia was looking at, trying to boost physical education classes in schools.

ROB MARCIANO, CNN METEOROLOGIST: Well, you know, it costs money. So, you know, where does it all come from?

Another one, and I think we've heard this once before, at least the theme. When I was in school over 40 years ago, my weight and height was always included in my report card. I don't see anything wrong with giving reports to parents to show how your child is growing."

The other point of controversy is BMI, this body mass index. It's a long e-mail, but it was from a personal trainer, who argues that that can often be inaccurate or misleading, especially if you have a lot of muscle mass. And so, I don't know how that portrays. The kids as they get older into high school they get a little bit more muscle, a little less fat.

So, it's a dicey little area we're getting into. What else do you have?

WALLACE: And there's word behind the scenes our DAYBREAK executive producer and producers have looked at their BMI. We won't report their findings here, though.

I have another one here, a Jack from Clifton Park in New York. He says: "Unfortunately, many parents seem to have little sense of what is right for all their children. The parents blame factors unrelated to themselves for all of the problems they have with their children, including eating, drugs, education and just taking responsibility for themselves." He says, "How do you convince parents that going to McDonald's twice a week is not healthy for their children?"

All right, well, keep those e-mails coming. Obviously a provocative topic for all of us on this Friday.

Well, sign up for a service, get free stuff. Coming up, are these giveaways as good as you think?

Also ahead...


CAROL COSTELLO, CNN ANCHOR: You are the rock star. Are you really a rock star?

DALE EARNHARDT, JR., NASCAR DRIVER: Well, I act like one sometimes.


WALLACE: We're jealous of Carol Costello. She keeps it real with Dale Earnhardt, Jr. We'll look at NASCAR's image with the Daytona 500 just around the corner.

Here, though, first, a look at what else is making news this Friday morning.


WALLACE: And welcome back. It's time now for a little "Business Buzz." Remember the days when banks would give away toasters to customers? Well, now banks and other companies are going high-tech with their freebies.

For all the answers, we turn to Carrie Lee at the Nasdaq Marketsite.

Good morning -- Carrie.


Yes, the trend is still going on, but it's very 21st century. "USA Today" is reporting that the new customer giveaways are increasingly high-tech. Things like iPods, PDAs, DVD players are all very hot items.

Here are some examples: Avis, Orbitz and United Airlines are all giving away BlackBerry e-mail devices. If you open an account with Ameritrade, the online broker, then you can get a Palm One PDA. Open an account with Bank One or Chase and you can get a DVD player.

Now, it sounds good and it certainly is a good thing, but you have to be aware of the details. If it sounds too good to be true, well, sometimes it is. If you get that BlackBerry device from Avis, for example, you're still going to have to pay the monthly subscription charges. It could be worth it, but just aware of that.

Also, with Ameritrade and Bank One, those deals require a minimum deposit of $10,000.

Finally, if you see one of these solicitations via e-mail, be very careful about that. There are always scammers and spammers out there.

So, that is the latest there on the trends.

A quick turn to markets. Things are looking positive. It looks like stocks are going to open higher today after some selling yesterday.

Verizon and MCI are in focus, because Qwest has reviewed Verizon's offer to MCI, and now they're ready to launch another better bid for the telecom company. Remember, MCI chose Verizon over Qwest in a merger deal last week.

Kelly -- that's the latest.

WALLACE: Freebies always make everyone smile, don't they, Carrie? Everyone likes free stuff. LEE: Especially on Friday mornings. It sounds good, right?

WALLACE: It sounds good. All right, Carrie Lee at the Nasdaq Marketsite. Thanks so much and have a great weekend.

Well, how much would you pay to see your name in lights? How about your name on Boston's biggest sports arena? The FleetCenter has been auctioning off naming rights for a day on eBay.

Drew Curtis of the news and entertainment Web site submitted a winning bid for FleetCenter naming rights, and he has some pretty whacky ideas about what he can do with it.

Drew joins us live from Lexington, Kentucky.

And, Drew, thanks for being here. My first question: Why does a guy from Lexington, Kentucky, want to have naming rights for a sports arena in Boston?

DREW CURTIS, WWW.FARK.COM: Mainly because of the humor value, honestly. It's more of a fun joke for us to be able to play on other folks.

WALLACE: All right. We know that you paid $2,550 on eBay for these naming rights. We know that your idea -- we can't really say for sure. You're a Kentucky fan obviously, because you said the Duke -- S-U-C-K -- Suck Center. That didn't quite go over. But you are putting out a contest for some winning names. What are some of the names you're hearing?

CURTIS: Well, we asked our readership what they would like to see up there, and some of the suggestions included the Abe Bagota (ph) Memorial Center. Abe is not actually dead by the way. He is doing fine, he tells us. The UFIA Center, which is an in- joke. And the Yankee Stadium was a pretty popular submission as well.

WALLACE: Also I understand there was one, Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen, the stadium.


WALLACE: How popular was that one?

CURTIS: It was definitely up there. Unfortunately, the submission came in late in the contest. So, it didn't get as much exposure as the other ones.

WALLACE: And also, I love the Starbucks. Tell us about this Starbucks idea.

CURTIS: We also held a digital photo editing contest for people to ahead and change the image to give people an idea of what it might look like if the name had been changed to something else. And one of them was what if Starbucks had taken over the FleetCenter?

WALLACE: All right. So, obviously you had to come up with a choice. What did you decide and why?

CURTIS: I ended up going with actually the third place contest submission, which was Boston Garden. For people who aren't from the Boston area, that's the name of the center before they called it the FleetCenter when they sold the naming rights. And it was a fairly controversial decision by the company. And there are still a lot of people that would wish it go back to that.

So, I figured that would be kind of fun to go back to Boston Garden for a day.

WALLACE: That was a good one, not as whacky, though, as some of the others. It seems like you kind of went mainstream on us there.

CURTIS: Yes, sort of. I think it depends on whether or not the people over at the FleetCenter were actually there at the time of the controversy. We'll see if they actually end up accepting that one. But I did receive an e-mail from them yesterday, and they said that that sounded like the way they were going to go.

WALLACE: And very briefly, Drew, tell us about What is it?

CURTIS: Sure. Basically, it's a news repository, where we take about 50 to 75 of the strangest news stories of the day and post them for people to make comments on.

WALLACE: I like that. You say, an opportunity to share odd news with your friends.


WALLACE: Drew Curtis of Thanks for being here. We certainly appreciate it.

CURTIS: No problem. Thank you.

WALLACE: All right. Your news, money, weather and sports. It is just about 45 minutes after the hour. And here is what is all new this morning.

Police say a suicide bomber killed at least 17 people and wounded more than 20 others near a Shia mosque in Baghdad. Worshipers participating in a procession to the mosque were targeted.

Military sources also report a blast near another Baghdad mosque. No other details yet on that attack.

For the first time, Pope John Paul II reveals his thoughts about when he was shot back in 1981. In a new book, the pope recalls believing the bullet missed his vital organs because of divine intervention.

In money book publisher Random House says it has bought into VOCEL, a company that provides premium-branded applications for cell phones. But, no, don't expect the next John Grisham novel on your cell phone. Random, though, could provide services such as language study programs.

In culture, a number of impressive instruments are on the block at a major jazz music auction in New York City. They include trumpets used by Dizzy Gillespie and Louie Armstrong and saxophones used by Charlie Parker and John Coltrane.

In sports, New England Patriots linebacker Teddy Bruschi could be released from the hospital as early as today after suffering a mild stroke. Bruschi was hospitalized Wednesday when he complained of headaches. The 31-year-old played in the Pro Bowl just five days ago.

It's time to get another look the forecast.


WALLACE: Well, some people are calling it the new axis of evil. Syria is suddenly tops on the nation's foreign policy priorities. Will the appointment of the first director of national intelligence make a difference?

For that, let's check in with Bill Hemmer of CNN's "AMERICAN MORNING."

Good morning -- Bill. A very, very busy news morning.

BILL HEMMER, CNN ANCHOR: Indeed you're right. Kelly, good morning to you.

You mentioned Iran and Syria announcing earlier this week this alliance to confront what they consider are threats from the outside. Syria says it is not an anti-American move. But, again, the tensions are escalating day by day with the headlines we've been watching, Kelly.

President Bush says Syria is out of step with progress in the Middle East. He made those comments yesterday.

What will it take then to get Syria in step? We'll talk to the former Senate Majority Leader and Mideast envoy George Mitchell, among our many guests this morning on a Friday edition of "AMERICAN MORNING" at the end of the week here -- Kelly.

WALLACE: I know. Happy Friday, right, Bill?

HEMMER: See you in 12 minutes.

WALLACE: We'll be watching, yes, in just a few minutes from now. OK, Bill, thanks so much.

A correction now. Yesterday, we reported that PBS President Pat Mitchell was stepping down because of an episode of the cartoon "Postcards From Buster," which featured a lesbian couple. We said that the episode cost Mitchell her job. That is not accurate.

Mitchell says her decision to leave her post has, in her words, absolutely nothing to do with the cartoon episode. Mitchell actually announced that she will not renew her contract. She will remain on the job at PBS until her current contract runs out more than a year from now in June of next year. CNN regrets that error.

Still to come here on DAYBREAK, Britney's honeymoon hideaway is not so secret after all. Find out why she's steamed the whole world is about to get a glimpse.

And what's it like to be so famous you're known only as your suffix? Carol Costello talks to Junior. You won't want to miss that.

That's all coming up. This is DAYBREAK for a Friday.


WALLACE: And all morning we've been talking to you. Our e-mail "Question of the Day": Should weights be put on students' report cards? This, because lawmakers in Georgia are considering the message.

Well, now word we're hearing is that the state lawmaker who introduced the bill says she's going to drop the idea because of opposition to it.

Atlanta Democrat state Representative Stephanie Stuckey Benfield says she will not formally withdraw the bill that she introduced, but she won't pursue it. She says she has heard lots of opposition, mainly about the impact that such a measure of putting on weights on students' reports cards, what that would have and what impact it could have on students' self-esteem.

So, we'll be following it. But right now, the lawmaker who introduced the bill thinks she won't withdraw it, but she's not going to pursue it either.

It is just about 52 minutes after the hour, and here is what will be making news today on this Friday.

The president is expected to sign the Class-Action Fairness Act into law. The House approved the bill Thursday. It will require multi-state, multimillion-dollar lawsuits to be heard by federal judges instead of state courts.

Also in Washington today, the Emancipation Proclamation goes on public display at the National Archives. It's part of Black History Month celebrations. The paper and ink have deteriorated since President Lincoln signed it in 1863. So, the Proclamation is really right out of storage.

And reading material of a much lesser historical importance is on display today. That's right. The new issue of "Us Weekly" contains photos of Britney Spears' honeymoon trip with Federline. Resort employees snapped the photos, but Britney said she was assured the pics wouldn't go public. "Us Weekly" alleges Britney is only red because she's -- quote -- "not seeing the green from the photos." Ouch! Britney Spears, always in the news. Well, Carol Costello is off today, but she left a little something behind for all of us, something very, very special. We are just two days away from the start of the Daytona 500. It is called the "great American race." And for an increasing number of fans, it is the highlight of the sports year.

But in a world where image is everything, can NASCAR keep up? You bet it can.


COSTELLO (voice over): No wonder they call him a rock star. Dale Earnhardt, Jr. is just what NASCAR ordered, and it's not because of his dad. He's cute, and oh so charming.

(on camera): So, I just read an article this morning that the purse for the Daytona 500 is $17 million.


COSTELLO: Like, that's the record.

EARNHARDT: That is a record.

COSTELLO: Oh, like you didn't know it was $17 million.

EARNHARDT: Well, I know what the winner gets. That's all I've got to worry about.

COSTELLO (voice over): See what I mean? Seriously, image is everything in NASCAR, carefully-crafted with just a little bit of country and a lot of rock 'n' roll.

NASCAR now boasts 75 million fans, or 1 in every 3 adults. That's up 20 percent from 2000 to 2001. Forty percent of those watching are the ladies, who love the image attached to the star. Jimmy Johnson is California dreamy. Ryan Newman is book smart. And they're all squeaky clean and friendly -- seemingly.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And you're able to see the whites in Michael Waltrop's (ph) eyes. How about that?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Bobby, come on.

COSTELLO: But how long can NASCAR control the hip-wholesome hero image? NASCAR drivers are fast becoming pop stars, and even Earnhardt worries.

EARNHARDT: It's a lifestyle out there that can, you know, be addicting, and, you know, you've just got to be careful. Hopefully, your parents raised you right, and you got good value and good morals.

COSTELLO: For now, though, the sport is unspoiled by such behavior. Image (UNINTELLIGIBLE) football and baseball. And maybe if NASCAR has its way, it will become America's pastime.

Carol Costello, CNN, New York.


WALLACE: And Carol looks like she's having a lot of fun with this one. There is more NASCAR news coming up on "AMERICAN MORNING." Carol will have much more with Dale, Jr. and a look at how NASCAR's popularity may be able to bring it to the last place you might expect.

Well, now NASCAR drivers pretty much stick to Ford, Chevy and Dodge, Rob. But who is driving the rest of the cars?

Listen to this: A study in "USA Today" shows that Rolls Royce has the highest median age among drivers at just a tick under 63 years old. Not surprisingly, Mercedes also skews toward the older age and edge. But the ages drop when you get to Porches and Jeeps. Kia has the youngest median age at just over 28 years old.

I did love when you look at Porsche, 43.4, Rob. Is that in the middle of the midlife crisis for men, they have to go out and get a nice sports car?

MARCIANO: Well, that's about the time you can actually afford one.


MARCIANO: But they didn't take into account you're driving around in a Rolls Royce. You can bring down that median age. I know you're not 62.

WALLACE: Yes, I'm not quite driving a Rolls Royce.

MARCIANO: You don't drive a Rolls?

WALLACE: Jetta. A Volkswagen Jetta for me.

MARCIANO: All right!

WALLACE: I was looking at the VW, 38.7. Must I admit on national television that it's pretty darn close, Rob?

MARCIANO: Let's see. I drive a Chevy Tahoe.

WALLACE: Where are you on the list?

MARCIANO: So, I'm 42.7 years, the median age.

WALLACE: And in the interest of full disclosure. All right. We're leaving it there. Need say no more. OK, Rob.

A look at the forecast before you fly is coming up. This is DAYBREAK for a Friday morning. We'll be right back.


WALLACE: It is Friday, and we are happy here. Rob has an update for all of you business travelers.


WALLACE: All right, Rob, you have a great weekend. It's great to be with you today and yesterday.

MARCIANO: Likewise.

WALLACE: All right. Coming up Monday on DAYBREAK, Carol and Chad return, and so does the morning "Coffee Quiz." Your chance to win a DAYBREAK mug at 6:50 Eastern. And we are so jealous of Carol. Also on DAYBREAK next week, actor Matthew McConaughey. You know, he's giving a "gentlemen, start your engine" queue at the Daytona 500 this weekend.

The news continues now with "AMERICAN MORNING." I'm Kelly Wallace in for Carol Costello. Have a great day.


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