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AMERICAN MORNING

Breaking News: Pope Back In Hospital; Terror Awareness; Tainted Breast Milk?

Aired February 24, 2005 - 07:30   ET

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


BILL HEMMER, CNN ANCHOR: Blue skies now. It's going to be white later tonight, huh?
SOLEDAD O'BRIEN, CNN ANCHOR: Yes.

HEMMER: Four to six inches.

O'BRIEN: Which is just what we don't need.

HEMMER: It's still winter.

O'BRIEN: Yes, it is.

HEMMER: Welcome back, everybody. It's 7:30 here in New York.

Back to the pope's condition in a moment. He is back in the hospital today suffering from a relapse of the flu. Delia Gallagher is a longtime correspondent at the Vatican. She is here in a moment to tell us what she knows and what she's learning from Rome. So, we'll talk with Delia in a moment.

O'BRIEN: Also, this shocking headline from a new study about women who are nursing. It seems many women who are nursing have a component of rocket fuel in the breast milk. We're going to talk to a specialist about how that happens and what it means for babies' health.

HEMMER: How could that happen? A good question.

Let's get to Rome right now. Pope John Paul II back in the hospital with new breathing problems and a fever apparently.

Delia Gallagher is a CNN Vatican analyst, also a contributor to inside the Vatican. She is in Rome.

And welcome back here. What can you report on what you know about his condition?

DELIA GALLAGHER, CNN VATICAN ANALYST: Well, Bill, he was taken to the hospital just about two hours ago. The early reports that we have suggest, as you say, it was a relapse of the flu, possibly this breathing difficulty that brought him to the hospital in the first place.

If you remember, it was a sort of larynx difficulty which constricted his breathing. And we do know that he's running a fever. However, he is conscious. And we will have to wait for doctors' reports to ascertain exactly what's going on. But it is likely that it is something similar to what we saw two weeks ago -- Bill.

HEMMER: He read from his balcony this past weekend. How did he appear in public, and how did he sound?

GALLAGHER: Well, the funny thing is he looked actually fairly good -- good for the pope, that is. And he didn't look any worse than before he went into the hospital. He was speaking rather strongly and clearly, still in a very debilitated state as we're used to seeing him.

However, you'll notice that in the past two weeks, he didn't go outside. They've kept him in his papal apartments. Even yesterday, they did a video link from his apartments for his general audience.

So, they've been trying to keep him in. It's very cold here. But nonetheless, this flu has relapsed, despite their best efforts.

HEMMER: Is there any reason to think that this trip is more serious than the last one?

GALLAGHER: I get the feeling there is a certain cause for alarm here at the Vatican this morning. Many people are concerned that within such a short time span, he's been sent back to the hospital. It was serious the first time. It's serious again just because he's already in a debilitated condition. However, that's not to say that he can't come out of this one just like he's done many times in the past -- Bill.

HEMMER: There is one report that says a statement will be released from the Vatican on Friday morning, which is about 24 hours away. Why would they wait that long? And is that standard operating procedure for the Vatican?

GALLAGHER: Absolutely. That's standard practice over here. We get one bulletin everyday at about noontime. So, we've already had ours for today, and we'll be waiting tomorrow for the official word from the Vatican. That doesn't mean, of course, that we don't get some news here and there throughout the day, which we'll be reporting. But the official word from the Vatican comes at noon from the pope's spokesman. So, we'll have to wait for tomorrow for that.

HEMMER: All right, Delia, thanks for that. Delia Gallagher there in Rome. Next hour, we'll talk with John Allen. He's in New York actually, a Vatican analyst as well. We'll talk about the pope's condition then. Delia, thanks -- Soledad.

O'BRIEN: Let's get to the other stories making headlines this morning with Heidi Collins.

Good morning.

HEIDI COLLINS, CNN ANCHOR: Hi. How are you, guys? And good morning to you, everybody.

"Now in the News."

President Bush is set to meet with Russian President Vladimir Putin in Slovakia next hour. The meeting comes as President Bush is wrapping up his three-nation visit to Europe. The president addressed crowds in Bratislava's town square last hour. He called Slovaks friends, allies and brothers in the global fight for freedom.

Syria says it is cooperating with the United Nations over plans to pull out its troops from Lebanon. A Syrian official says Lebanon must be ready to -- quote -- "fill the vacuum left by the withdrawal of its troops." The announcement comes following the uproar over a powerful explosion in Beirut earlier this month that killed former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafik Hariri. Some people in Lebanon blame Syria for the attack. The Syrian government denies the allegations.

A schoolteacher in central Tennessee is free on a $50,000 bond this morning after being accused of having a sexual relationship with a 13-year-old boy. Pamela Turner's lawyer entered a plea of not guilty yesterday on her behalf to 15 counts of sexual battery by an authority figure and 13 counts of statutory rape.

And in Baltimore, Maryland, emergency crews are working this hour to clear a derailed train. Officials say three cars from a freight train jumped the tracks last night, shutting down a key tunnel. No injuries have been reported. The cars were apparently empty and stayed upright. Authorities hope to have the tunnel cleared by tomorrow.

It probably could have been a whole lot worse.

O'BRIEN: No question. All right, Heidi, thanks.

When it comes to keeping America safe from terrorism, law enforcement officials cannot do it alone. They say they need our help as well.

In today's "CNN Security Watch," Chris Lawrence has more on a class that's teaching average folks just how to spot a terrorist.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

CHRIS LAWRENCE, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice over): This Wichita grandmother has chased out drug dealers and helped police crack down on crime, but that was when watching her neighborhood was easy.

DOROTHY NAVE, NEIGHBORHOOD ASSOCATION PRESIDENT: Now, you have to worry about global things. I mean, you know, what's going on in other parts of the world is going to eventually affect your neighborhood, too.

LAWRENCE: Criminals she can handle, but Dorothy Nave is concerned about a terrorist attack in America.

(on camera): Do you think it can happen again?

NAVE: Yes. LAWRENCE (voice over): The question that's been bugging her: What, if anything, could she do to stop it?

NAVE: The military is trained and a lot of your government officials are trained, but your ordinary persons in the neighborhoods, they're not trained. They don't know what to look for.

LAWRENCE: Which brought Dorothy to this free class and Dr. David Carter.

DR. DAVID CARTER, TERRORISM EXPERT: What we're looking for is behaviors, not physical profiles.

LAWRENCE: A former cop, he's got a grant from Homeland Security to teach police about intelligence.

CARTER: When McVeigh started buying ammonium nitrate, that was unusual.

LAWRENCE: Now, Dr. Carter is showing average folks how to trust their instincts about, say, conversations that just don't feel right.

CARTER: So you work here? How does this operate? They're starting to ask questions which go beyond mere curiosity.

LAWRENCE: But suspicion can only go so far, and he wants people to be prepared, not paranoid.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Like a Muslim family on vacation at Niagara Falls videotaping Niagara Falls as a family.

LAWRENCE: The eventual goal is developing a direct line in which federal agents send an alert to local police, who tell trained community members specifically what to look for.

CARTER: I mean, it's going to be driven by the threat.

LAWRENCE: The tips have already changed how Dorothy looks at her own neighborhood.

NAVE: You're go to these classes, and you're made aware of some of the things that's going on. Then when you see it, hey, that's exactly what they were talking about. I'd better call 911.

LAWRENCE: It's a call she's made before for petty crimes, and one she's now prepared to make if she suspects something far more serious.

Chris Lawrence, CNN, Wichita.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

O'BRIEN: Interesting program. Be sure to stay with CNN day and night for the most reliable news about your security -- Bill.

HEMMER: This story this morning out of Chicago. A call to a radio talk show from a self-described bank robber turns out just the break investigators say they needed. The caller bragged that he and five accomplices robbed a bank of 81 grand, and that a bank employee was in on the deal. Listen here.

(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We knew the girl that worked in the bank, so we set everything up. We planned it out, turned my house into the bank actually, and planned it out for, like, weeks.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Really?

(END AUDIO CLIP)

HEMMER: That call was made back in September. Last week, the FBI finally tracked down the caller, charging him and one accomplice with robbing the bank. The search is now on for four others who might have been involved. No such thing as a smart criminal, right, Soledad?

O'BRIEN: Oh, my goodness. I mean, you know, that one moves to the top of the list of really, really stupid criminals. That's all you can say about that.

Let's turn and get a look at the weather now.

(WEATHER REPORT)

HEMMER: There was a shocking worry for new mothers. Scientists find a toxic ingredient for rocket fuel in their breast milk. What nursing mothers should know in a moment. We'll get to that.

O'BRIEN: Also, a sign that the country's police force needs to go through training again. That story is ahead on AMERICAN MORNING.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

O'BRIEN: Is a toxic component found in rocket fuel contaminating women's breast milk? A new study says that may, in fact, be the case. It contends that the component for chlorate was found in the breast milk of dozens of women in 18 states. How much of it should concern mothers who are nursing?

Dr. Steven Goldstein is professor of OB-GYN at NYU Medical Center right here in New York City.

Nice to see you. This is really scary stuff for anybody who is nursing mother or recently has been a nursing mother, like myself. So, where does this come from, this perchlorate.

DR. STEVEN GOLDSTEIN, OBGYN PROF., NYU MEDICAL CTR.: Well, it occurs naturally, but it's also in rocket fuel. It's in fertilizer. It's in explosives. And apparently it's getting into the water table as well as the food system.

O'BRIEN: How much of a risk is it? First, let's talk about the mother herself, the moms.

GOLDSTEIN: Well, perchlorate inhibits your take-up of iodide, which is a form of iodine, which is necessary to make thyroid hormone. Thyroid, as you know, controls metabolism in adults. It also controls metabolism in infants. But for infants, it's also involved for brain development.

O'BRIEN: So, you're less worried when you hear reports like this about the adults, because we're assuming women, probably men as well, have perchlorate.

GOLDSTEIN: But another key factor to his is we have enough iodide to make hormone for several months. Infants need to turn this over every 24 hours. They don't really store their iodide. So, their needs are much, much greater.

O'BRIEN: So, if they're only getting their nutrition from their nursing mother, then they're not probably who has perchlorate in the breast milk. They're probably not getting enough thyroid developing and brain developing.

GOLDSTEIN: Well, let's not scare people. They shouldn't stop nursing. In other words, nursing has a lot of benefits. Nursing will cut down on infections, makes allergies less, and boosts the immune system and may even reduce certain chronic diseases like diabetes.

The American College of OB-GYN and the American Academy of Pediatrics strongly recommend that women nurse for six months. And this report is not a reason for women to be afraid of nursing, because perchlorate, unlike trace elements like mercury or lead, is not stored. It simply inhibits the up-take of this iodide. So, the way to overcome it is to increase the iodine in your diet.

O'BRIEN: How do you do that?

GOLDSTEIN: well, iodized salt.

O'BRIEN: More salt?

GOLDSTEIN: Well, it may, because a lot of processed foods that have salt in them, the salt isn't iodized. Kelp, shell fishes. You know, talk to your doctor about ways to crease iodine in your diet.

O'BRIEN: When one of your patients, when one of your nursing mothers comes in and says, I need you to check out my kid and make sure that there is not some kind of damage going on. I want to know if I, in fact, am passing along this problem to my child. What do you tell them?

GOLDSTEIN: Well, unfortunately, there's no test. It's not like I can take a nursing mom tomorrow, give me a sample of your milk, send it to the lab at NYU, where I work, and get a report on the perchlorate level. So, all that we can really do -- the study that came out was a research study. This is not a commercially-available test. So, the answer here is to make sure that you increase your dietary intake of iodine. O'BRIEN: Is there any kind of supplement you can take to do that, I mean a pill?

GOLDSTEIN: Not that I'm really aware of.

O'BRIEN: Really?

GOLDSTEIN: You know, none of this is all that surprising, though. This isn't that new. Look at the warnings about fish, PCBs and mercury. We're poisoning our air, our land, our waters, our food chain. I mean, 40 years ago, PG&E was dumping hexavale (ph) and chromium into the land in Hinckley, California. This is just another long list in what are we doing to our children.

O'BRIEN: Outside of that big-picture question then, what do you advise people to do?

GOLDSTEIN: Be careful. I mean, moderation has always been what I tell people. When the whole thing came up about what kinds of fish to eat, I think the answer is to moderate your exposure to different things in the environment.

O'BRIEN: It's very scary stuff.

GOLDSTEIN: It sure is.

O'BRIEN: Dr. Steven Goldstein, thank you for talking with us, and thanks for the advice as well for nursing moms. Appreciate that.

GOLDSTEIN: Sure.

O'BRIEN: Bill.

HEMMER: Soledad, thanks.

Rather unusual out of Japan to talk -- an unusual story, rather, out of Japan. Police are being sent back for retraining after officers were caught on tape running away from a suspect. It started when police found a man with a bat, taking out his frustrations on his own car after a crash. Officers stand by. The man gets out and starts chasing the police. It wasn't until later when the officers subdued the man after he climbed into their cruiser. The Japanese prime minister calls the incident embarrassing. I bet -- Soledad.

O'BRIEN: Yes. That's kind of the right word there. All right.

It took awhile, but the former Enron chief, Ken Lay, may finally get his day in court finally. Andy is "Minding Your Business" up next on AMERICAN MORNING.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

HEMMER: All right, welcome back, everybody. New developments in the cases against several former big business executives. Andy Serwer is "Minding Your Business." He loves this story.

ANDY SERWER, "FORTUNE" MAGAZINE: I do.

HEMMER: Actually all of these stories really, because they're going one after the other after the other.

SERWER: It's keeping me employed, too. It's the trial update, and this one is from the department of finally, finally a federal judge is setting a trial date for the two bigwigs of Enron. Four years after this company collapsed, Jeff Skilling and Ken Lay's trial date will be -- there is Ken Lay right there -- will be set next fall or maybe even as late as December. Richard Causey, the chief accounting officer of the company, will be a part of that.

Skilling faces numerous charges. Lay faces less charges. Causey's lawyer says he needs more time. Reid Weingarten is his lawyer. That's also Bernie Ebbers' lawyer. No wonder why he doesn't have any time. Reid Weingarten is a busy guy.

HEMMER: A busy lawyer, yes.

SERWER: Meanwhile, also down in Huston, Lea Fastow, she is the wife of the former chief financial officer, Andy Fastow, also of Enron. She has been doing time. Her lawyer requested that her sentence be reduced to time served, seven months reduced from one year. He says most people who commit the same kind of crime she did, which is tax fraud, only get six months. Why should she get a year?

Also, she's doing what's almost considered hard time in a federal detention center in downtown Houston. She's not in any kind of Camp Cupcake, hasn't been outdoors, three women to a two-woman cell. The judge said I know these are difficult conditions, but we're sorry. That's what's going on.

HEMMER: Turning the screws on her, too.

SERWER: Yes. And finally here, in the Bernie Ebbers case, Bernie Ebbers' attorneys asked the judge, Barbara Jones, to dismiss all of the charges. The judge said no.

O'BRIEN: Oh, that's not going to happen.

HEMMER: That was a short conversation, was it?

SERWER: Yes. What about a judge of the case of the peers against...

JACK CAFFERTY, CNN ANCHOR: Well, they always do that, right?

SERWER: Yes.

CAFFERTY: They always move for dismissal, because, hey, you never know. You might catch a guy with a bad hangover.

SERWER: And the judge says, hey, I'm out of here.

CAFFERTY: If you don't ask, you don't get, right? That's...

SERWER: Well, that's true.

CAFFERTY: Yes.

O'BRIEN: Thank you, Andy.

HEMMER: Thank you, Andy.

SERWER: You're welcome.

CAFFERTY: You have to introduce me now.

O'BRIEN: Jack Cafferty has the "Question of the Day," which would be about Michael Jackson.

Good morning to you -- Jack.

CAFFERTY: Thank you, Ms. O'Brien.

Picking the jury -- did you ride your Harley to work this morning by the way?

O'BRIEN: Do you like it? It goes with the boots.

CAFFERTY: The biker chick.

O'BRIEN: I've got the boots.

SERWER: Nancy Sinatra has got nothing on her.

O'BRIEN: You like it, huh?

SERWER: Yes, we do.

CAFFERTY: Yes.

O'BRIEN: Thank you.

CAFFERTY: The hell with them four kids, you know.

O'BRIEN: I'm getting desperate.

SERWER: You're getting out on the town, yes.

CAFFERTY: Picking the jury fits the rest of the Michael Jackson story, and that would be strange. Jackson is accused of molesting a little boy. And yet 8 of the 12 jurors are parents. One juror's sister was raped. One juror's grandson is a registered sex offender. And there are no blacks on the jury.

Between the cosmetic surgeries, the baby-dangling incidents, the Peter Pan lifestyle, where is Michael Jackson going to find a jury of his peers? That's the question this morning, sort of. The question is: Can Michael Jackson get a fair trial?

Jerry in Alpharetta, Georgia writes: "It's doubtful that he can get a fair trial. Many well-known celebrities such as Jay Leno have denigrated him on national TV. Such actions create bias. However, he is being tried in California, and you can get away with murder out there. Right, O.J.?"

Gary in Fuquay-Varina, North Carolina. Fuquay-Varina, North Carolina: "Jack, I don't have a problem with Michael Jackson's peers. It doesn't mean that the jury should be made up of rock stars any more than if a doctor went on trial the peers would have to be doctors, or if a journalist" -- the letter is very lame. But he lives in Fuquay- Varina, North Carolina. And I just wanted to mention that.

SERWER: I've never heard of it.

O'BRIEN: Yes, that's a good point.

CAFFERTY: I wanted to mention that town.

SERWER: I've been all over North Carolina, I've never heard of Fuquay-Varina.

O'BRIEN: I thought he made a good point.

CAFFERTY: Soledad liked your letter, Gary.

O'BRIEN: Peers, meaning he doesn't have to have superstars on the jury.

CAFFERTY: I understood what he was trying to say.

O'BRIEN: OK, well, you (UNINTELLIGIBLE) the poor guy.

(CROSSTALK)

CAFFERTY: I get to do what I want with these.

SERWER: It's somewhere between Wilmington and Asheville, that town.

CAFFERTY: Yes, Fuquay-Varina.

SERWER: Yes, OK.

CAFFERTY: You ought to see how it's spelled.

Chris in Rosedale -- let's see. No, wait. Robert in Tacoma. You got me out of my rhythm here.

O'BRIEN: Sorry.

CAFFERTY: "I believe he can get a fair trial, just not in this country. Everybody knows about the big payoff a few years ago."

Chris in Maryland writes: "There is no way Jackson gets a fair trial. He's supposed to have a jury of his peers. There are no other voluntarily albino, llama-taming freaks in the nation, are there?"

HEMMER: Oh, my! O'BRIEN: A similar spin on the other letter.

CAFFERTY: And finally, Mac in Mississippi writes: "Based on your previous comments, I, for one, am glad I don't have to live in a state where you would be on a jury deciding my fate. I'll be happy when you take your rightful place in the Smithsonian's last of the dinosaurs exhibit.

O'BRIEN: Ow!

SERWER: Wow!

O'BRIEN: That's not very...

HEMMER: I think that's where you can find Jack's sports coat right now, right?

SERWER: Oh, they're playing the sports coat card.

HEMMER: Cheer up, Gary Cooper.

SERWER: They're playing the sports card.

CAFFERTY: Do what?

HEMMER: I said, cheer up, Gary Cooper. Come on. We've got two more hours to go.

CAFFERTY: This is a strange group. I want to go to the jury pool when.

HEMMER: Top stories in a moment. No, you don't either.

CAFFERTY: And see some normal people.

HEMMER: We'll get you back to Rome in a moment. Developing news on the pope and his condition. Live to Rome after this on AMERICAN MORNING at the top of the hour.

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