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AMERICAN MORNING

Quake Rescue Efforts; Cereal Lawsuit; '90-Second Pop'

Aired March 30, 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: It's 7:30 here in New York. Good morning, everybody. It's nice to have you along with us today. I'm Bill Hemmer.
CAROL COSTELLO, CNN ANCHOR: I'm Carol Costello, in for Soledad today.

HEMMER: Our top story at this hour, a potentially important development in the Terri Schiavo story. Her parents filing an emergency petition overnight, back to the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals in Atlanta. The court extended a filing deadline for the Schindlers, but it has not said whether or not the entire court will hear the case. This time around, lawyers are arguing about federal judges, not considering the substance of the case, specifically disputes over whether or not Terri Schiavo ever stated she would not want to be kept alive by artificial means. Much more on this story as we get it throughout the morning here. That's our first headline.

Back to the others now with Kelly Wallace.

Hello. Good morning.

KELLY WALLACE, CNN ANCHOR: Thanks. Good morning, Bill and Carol. Good morning to all of you.

Here are some of those stories "Now in the News."

A health update on the pope. As we've been telling you all morning, the Vatican is confirming Pope John Paul II is now getting nutrition from a nasal tube. It is part of an effort to boost his recovery from last month's tracheotomy. The pope appeared in public just about three hours ago. He blessed crowds from his window overlooking St. Peter's Square, but he was not able to speak.

Friends and colleagues are remembering on this day Johnnie Cochran as a brilliant lawyer. He reached fame for his successful defense of former football star O.J. Simpson. Among the best known quotes from that trial -- quote -- "If it doesn't fit, you must acquit," a reference to a glove found at the murder scene. Cochran died Tuesday of a brain tumor at his Los Angeles home. His family was at his side. Johnnie Cochran was 67 years old.

President Bush is set to award the first Medal of Honor for service in Iraq to a fallen soldier. Sergeant First Class Paul Smith was killed nearly two years ago in a battle for control of Baghdad's airport. His children and widow will receive that award at the White House next week. And news about the first lady, Laura Bush, on a whirlwind tour of Afghanistan. These pictures just in to CNN this morning. The first lady covering a lot of ground in a very short period of time. She's meeting with Afghan President Hamid Karzai and showing support for women's education. Mrs. Bush will also sit and talk with some U.S. troops stationed at Bagram Air Base, north of Kabul.

I think she's on the ground some five hours, covering a lot of ground. It was a big surprise, too.

HEMMER: It sure was. A big secret, too, out of D.C.

WALLACE: Exactly, for security reasons, of course.

HEMMER: Thank you, Kelly.

WALLACE: Sure.

HEMMER: We want to get to Southeast Asia right now. Rescue officials there, in Indonesia specifically, are frantically searching for survivors from that powerful quake on Monday. Officials now say as many as 1,000 may have died, most of the victims on the remote island of Nias, about 75 miles from the epicenter of that quake.

CNN's Hugh Riminton joins us from Medan in Indonesia.

And, Hugh, you had a chance to go to that island. How bad was the damage?

HUGH RIMINTON, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Certainly, Bill, over the last 12 hours or so, the main town on the island of Nias, it's a place called Gunungsitoli. I've walked around that for many hours, looking at the damage. I've flown over it in a helicopter and also in a fixed-wing plane.

I can tell you that the commercial center of that main town on the island has been effectively obliterated. Buildings that were in general not more than two or three stories high have all been flattened entirely to the ground.

There's been a desperate scrabble I saw from building after building as people with bare hands tried to get at people who may be trapped. They were recovering bodies, taking enormous risks among all of the rubble, given that aftershocks were going on almost continuously. I never saw in the time that I was walking around anyone emerge from that rubble alive.

Tonight on the island of Nias and also on another major island just to the north, there are probably as many as 100,000 people still sleeping out, despite the fact that this is still the end of the rainy season, because they either have no homes to go to or they're terrified of going back into structures that could collapse on them again -- Bill.

HEMMER: Hugh, we have heard from so many people that as a result of the tsunami back in late December that the rescue operation, the recovery effort has been made somewhat easier this time around. Has that been your experience?

RIMINTON: That's true. They got some of the best emergency assessment people in the world on the scene very quickly. These are the ones that have been working on that catastrophe at Banda Aceh in the north of the island of Sumatra. They were in relatively quickly, able to say what they needed: expert search and rescue help, expert medical help, both evacuation and also first-aid treatment and assessment. Also, a need for water and shelter.

Now, the call went out and was immediately answered. Countries as far as away as Japan, Australia, are already sending help in.

The Singaporeans sent in three heavy lift helicopters. It made an enormous difference. The first two helicopters cleared the critically injured, who had to be medivaced. There was no hospital for them. Te hospital is too badly damaged. They were lying in a sports field, waiting to be evacuated. So Singapore's involvement in that, just that one thing, has certainly saved some lives over the last few hours -- Bill.

HEMMER: Hugh Riminton the in Medan in Indonesia -- Carol.

COSTELLO: Thanks, Bill.

A mom from California is suing three major cereal manufacturers this morning. She says the companies intentionally misled consumers with claims of low-sugar cereals that are replaced by equally fattening carbohydrates.

Jennifer Hardee is suing General Mills, Kellogg's and Kraft Foods, the parent company of Post. She joins me now from Sacramento, along with her lawyer, Harold Hewell.

Good morning to both of you.

JENNIFER HARDEE, SUING CEREAL COMPANIES: Good morning.

HAROLD HEWELL, HARDEE'S ATTORNEY: Good morning.

COSTELLO: Jennifer, the cereals in question are Cocoa Puffs, Cinnamon Toast Crunch and Trix. Just the names of them sound fattening to me. What led you to believe they would be healthier?

HARDEE: The 75 percent less sugar, the advertising that they have on the box as you're walking down the cereal aisle.

COSTELLO: Describe that advertising to me. Is it written prominently on the boxes?

HARDEE: It's very prominent.

HEWELL: It is. As you walk down the eye aisles, you'll see that the 75 percent less sugar, the one-third less sugar, the reduced sugar, is often in typeface as large as the name of the cereal itself. It's very prominent.

COSTELLO: Let me read two quotes for you from Kellogg and also from General Mills.

Kellogg told us that -- quote -- "We believe this case is entirely without merit. These products demonstrate Kellogg's ongoing commitment to provide consumers with a range of offerings that meet their taste and nutritional preferences."

General Mills told the Associated Press that they "never made specific health claims. Consumers wanted less sugar, so we gave them less sugar."

That sounds reasonable. Isn't it up to you, Jennifer, to check the box to see what other ingredients is in the cereal?

HARDEE: The problem with the back of the box is it's -- you have to be pretty highly educated in order to understand the different carbohydrates and how it actually works in the body.

HEWELL: Also, if you're to look at the nutritional panel, you read on the front, "low sugar." And you look on the nutritional panel and it says, "three grams of sugar." It looks like the sugar has been reduced, and it has. But you have to look further and find out that they've boosted the refined carbohydrates, which the body treats the same as it does the sugar. So, there is really no nutritional benefit to the consumer, to the mother trying to buy healthy foods for the children.

COSTELLO: Hal, let me read you this from Kraft Foods.

HEWELL: Sure.

COSTELLO: It says, "Half the sugar Fruity Pebbles is the first step in a process designed to respond to what consumers want from this popular cereal. We're looking to see if there are ways to improve the product's nutritional profile in the future. It's a process that takes time."

Does that make you feel better?

HEWELL: Well, no. My question is, why would they have these low-sugar ads so prominently displayed on the boxes? As you walk down the aisle, the consumer is inundated with them. You don't see the nutritional panels on the side. If they wanted to say that it was a wash or that it was just as nutritious or had the equivalent nutrition of the old stuff, they could have simply said, less sugar, more carbs. I mean, that would have been truthful advertising as far as I'm concerned.

COSTELLO: Two more questions. Jennifer, was there any damage to your kids because they ate this cereal?

HARDEE: I'm not doing this for damages to my children.

COSTELLO: Why are you doing this?

HARDEE: I'm doing this because I don't think they should mislead consumers in thinking that they're feeding their children something healthier.

COSTELLO: And, Hal, what do you expect to get from these lawsuits?

HEWELL: Well, she made a good point. We're not seeking personal injury damages for children who may have gained weight or have diabetes or anything like that. This is strictly a misrepresentation suit. And what we're trying to seek is to have the courts stop what we contend are misleading practices, and to have these companies make restitution to the consumers who have bought these goods believing that they were healthier than they actually were.

COSTELLO: Jennifer Hardee and Harold Hewell, thanks so much for joining AMERICAN MORNING this morning.

HARDEE: Thank you.

HEWELL: Thank you.

COSTELLO: Heidi Skolnick is a nutritionist. She also has been following this case.

Good morning to you.

HEIDI SKOLNICK, NUTRITIONIST: Good morning.

COSTELLO: So, let's talk about the lawsuit, first of all. Is it warranted?

Well, I don't think I can speak to the legal terms of the lawsuit. What I can tell you is that in terms of truth of advertising and labeling, if they said on the label that made a health claim, which is regulated by the FDA, that this cereal would reduce the risk of diabetes, for instance, that would be misleading. They're saying there's less sugar, and there is less sugar.

But, you know, if you take a Twinkie and have, you know, a lower fat Twinkie, it doesn't turn into a stir-fried vegetable. You know, so, I think you need to look at what it starts with.

COSTELLO: Yes, but that's true. But sugar has become the big evil in this country. People think sugar is the thing you should not eat in any kind of quantity.

SKOLNICK: Well, I think it's easy to villainize one aspect of one part of a whole food. But, you know, let's start with when you look at cereals, choose a cereal that's whole grain, you know, whether there's sugar on it or not.

You could take a great bowl of, you know, oatmeal, Quaker Oatmeal, and put on some, you know, sugar on top and some raisins or berries and have some orange juice and some yogurt with it. That's a great whole meal. The sugar in that whole entire meal becomes much less, and you're starting with whole grains. And there are plenty of whole grain cereals out there that you can either choose to have sugar-coated, like a Frosted Mini Wheat, or without the sugar. COSTELLO: But if a cereal has a name like Cocoa Puffs, it's probably...

SKOLNICK: So, you know, what do you expect?

COSTELLO: Yes. Heidi, thanks for joining us this morning -- Bill.

HEMMER: It's 20 minutes before the hour now. A check of the weather.

(WEATHER REPORT)

COSTELLO: Tech stocks are on the slide, but one company gets a boost after investors hear about the new boss. Andy is "Minding Your Business."

HEMMER: Also, the Williams sisters are serving up a whole, new TV show, their own reality program. The 90-second poppers today are taking on Venus and Serena's new gig. That's ahead this hour on AMERICAN MORNING.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

HEMMER: Welcome back. Here's Jack again, "Question of the Day."

JACK CAFFERTY, CNN ANCHOR: Thank you, sir.

The Colorado Supreme Court has thrown out a death sentence after jurors consulted a Bible during deliberations. Instead, Robert Harlan, who raped and killed a waitress in 1994, will serve life in prison.

Several jurors consulted such Bible verses as "an eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth." The court said jurors should have made their decision -- quote -- "without the aid or distraction of extraneous texts."

The question is this: Should jurors be allowed to use the Bible during deliberations?

Chris in Maryland writes: "I don't know how you can deny a juror a Bible during deliberations. Being on a jury is tough. You're deciding the fate of someone's life. Many people have to turn to their faith for the strength to make tough decisions."

Kathy in Texas writes: "No, it's conceivable that a person believing the Bible and God to be literal and irrefutable would be able to use select specific passages from the Bible to influence a timid or insecure juror."

Giselle in Wisconsin writes: "Where on earth does this crap stop? There was a reason for a division of church and state 200 years ago. If you want to revisit it, be prepared for some chaos."

Robert in Washington -- why are you doing thumbs-up over there? You like that one.

COSTELLO: I love that one.

CAFFERTY: OK.

ANDY SERWER, "FORTUNE" MAGAZINE: Where on earth does this stop, is that the part you like?

CAFFERTY: Robert in Washington writes: "It's a little bit tricky, considering people have been trying to get the Bible and Christ out of courts and government buildings for some time. However, I think they should use and live by the Bible."

And D.W. in California writes: "Only for personal prayers. No juror should be allowed to share the contents of the Bible or any other reference book with the rest of the jury in order to influence their deliberations."

HEMMER: What did this defendant do again?

CAFFERTY: He raped and murdered a waitress and paralyzed a woman who tried to come to her aid.

COSTELLO: And...

CAFFERTY: He's a real...

HEMMER: And then shot the woman in the head down the road, right?

CAFFERTY: Paralyzed the woman who tried to come to her aid. Yes, he's a real altar boy, this guy.

COSTELLO: But the death penalty should be based on the basis of law. That's what you're supposed to do when you're on the jury. You're supposed to follow the rules of law.

CAFFERTY: Yes, ma'am. And I will.

SERWER: From now on.

COSTELLO: Which is why I liked that e-mail.

SERWER: From now on he will.

COSTELLO: OK.

CAFFERTY: And I will.

HEMMER: Thanks, Jack.

COSTELLO: Wall Street reacted to news that Hewlett-Packard has found a brand, new CEO. Andy Serwer is "Minding Your Business" this morning.

SERWER: Good morning, Carol. Some fear and loathing on Wall Street. First of all, though, yesterday stocks went down again, we can see here, and they've been going down day after day. The Nasdaq down 18 points, now at a five- month low, now down 9.3 percent for the year. That's not very much fun.

As we finish the first quarter this morning at 8:30 Eastern, we are going to get the final read on how the economy fared in the fourth quarter of last year. So we'll be talking about that later in the program.

Now, as Carol was saying, Hewlett-Packard does have a new CEO. His name is Mark Hurd. He is the former CEO of NCR. A lot of initials here. NCR, of course, was the former National Cash Register Company, which was owned by AT&T. And apparently, he did a bang-up job there. The stock was up 300 percent in the two years that he ran that company.

You may remember Hewlett-Packard tossed Carly Fiorina, its CEO, out on her ear in February. So we will see how Mr. Hurd does.

And finally here, yesterday we told you that MCI had accepted a bid by Verizon to be bought. You know, this has been going on and on. Leaving Qwest out in the cold. Now, published reports say Qwest is coming back. Don't bury me, I'm not dead yet, the serpent and the rainbow. But we will see how that fares later, too.

COSTELLO: Thanks, Andy.

SERWER: You're welcome.

HEMMER: In a moment here, there is controversy for Madonna, new controversy. Imagine that. We'll show you a picture of the costumes that apparently are outraging some of her critics. "90-Second Pop" after a break here on AMERICAN MORNING.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

HEMMER: This is a re-mix, isn't it? It's even worse than the original. Welcome back, everybody. Wednesday edition of "90-Second Pop." Our panel today, Amy Barnett is back with us from "Teen People."

Amy, good morning.

AMY BARNETT, "TEEN PEOPLE": Good morning.

HEMMER: Ten days by my watch, this guy right here, Toure, is still married, our pop culture correspondent.

TOURE, CNN POP CULTURE CORRESPONDENT: And still happily married.

HEMMER: Happily married, right.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We should ask if his wife is still happy, too. HEMMER: Rita! Jessi Klein from VH-1's "Best Week Ever."

Nice to see you again. Jess, good morning to you.

JESSI KLEIN, COMEDIAN: Thank you.

HEMMER: Let's start with Madonna. Let's show them the pictures. She's out with her husband, Guy Richey. She's dressed like a nun. He's dressed like the pope. Kind of questionable timing, Toure.

TOURE: Well, you know, are we really supposed to be outraged about this? Madonna has been appropriating religious iconography for shock value for years, now perhaps decades even. Whatever! I mean, really, come on.

KLEIN: Yes, I think the Catholic Church has to look at this from the perspective of, these two are capable of much worse. They made "Swept Away" together, far more offensive than this could ever be.

BARNETT: Well, I just don't understand. I feel like it's totally blown out of proportion. Like, why is the Catholic Church now denouncing Madonna again? I thought they put her on a bullet train to hell a decade ago.

(CROSSTALK)

TOURE: Exactly.

BARNETT: And (UNINTELLIGIBLE) on her hand.

HEMMER: She's Esther now, right? She's not Madonna.

TOURE: Oh!

BARNETT: Whatever. Well, I mean, is Esther now upgraded to the first-class sleeper berth on the bullet train to hell?

TOURE: Even with Esther, even with this picture, which is a little weird, but that's not what the outrage is about. Think about the '80s. It was Michael Jackson, Prince and Madonna, right? And superstardom will mess your head up. But she is the most normal out of all three of them. Who would have thought that?

HEMMER: Well, I think she's done much worse actually. I think it's kind of tame if you go back and look at her career.

TOURE: Yes.

HEMMER: Next topic, the Williams sisters.

KLEIN: The Williams sisters.

HEMMER: They're going to have a reality show, and it has nothing do with tennis.

KLEIN: Nothing to do with tennis. Venus and Serena will are going to have their own reality show on ABC Family. And the whole push of this is, we're just going to see them kind of hanging out, just hanging out, maybe going on some dates, hanging out with their family.

HEMMER: Jessi, are you going to watch this?

KLEIN: Well, here's the thing. I'm going to tell you why. I'm excited to see what endorsement deal they get, because they're such big stars. And I want to know what clothing line wants to be the official line of zoning out on your couch, talking on the phone.

TOURE: This is definitely going to be a fun show, because they're kooky. They're like big kids in a candy store with all of this money. They're trying to find themselves. They've been on the tennis court all their lives, but they're constantly, I want to design, I want to do this, I want to travel.

BARNETT: Really.

KLEIN: And then there's their dad.

TOURE: And then there's their dad.

HEMMER: Oh, he could be the star of the show actually.

(CROSSTALK)

TOURE: If Richard is in the show, it's going to be great, because he is the king of kooky.

HEMMER: Yes, listen, anytime these guys go on tour, they always talk about when they were younger, teenagers, when they're in cities like Paris they go to the museums first before they go to the tennis court.

BARNETT: Well, I don't know. I am totally going to watch this. I think it's going to be like "The Contender" meets "The Simple Life." Like, who is not going to watch this? But what I really want to know is what's up with Serena and Brett Ratner (ph)? Like, I'm really hoping...

KLEIN: Yes.

BARNETT: ... that there's a sub-plot in there about Serena and Brett Ratner (ph), the ultimate odd couple.

KLEIN: Interesting.

HEMMER: More from "Teen People." Look, they can beat the snot out of any two guys on the planet.

KLEIN: Oh, yes, exactly.

TOURE: They could. Oh, they could.

KLEIN: (UNINTELLIGIBLE) leave the studio today. HEMMER: Amy, the life of Johnnie Cochran is being remembered again today.

BARNETT: Oh, my goodness. This is...

HEMMER: What are your thoughts.

BARNETT: This is a very sad event. I mean, of course, this is a man who was very well known for defending victims in Los Angeles against police abuse for years. And then the O.J. case, you know, raised him to pop culture icon status. So losing him is a very sad thing, you know, but it's crazy. I mean, his name was -- you know, became a verb almost.

HEMMER: It sure did.

BARNETT: So any celebrity at this point who, you know, finds himself in a legal bind wants to "Johnnie Cochran' their case.

TOURE: Right.

BARNETT: You know?

TOURE: The thing I loved is the way he purported himself, the style with which he spoke...

BARNETT: Right.

TOURE: ... the rhythm, right, and the poeticness (ph). He's very, like, black preacher, very, like, Jesse Jackson.

BARNETT: A lot of rhyming. A lot of rhyming.

TOURE: Right. all of the rhyming, right? If the glove doesn't fit.

KLEIN: You must acquit.

BARNETT: Oh, yes.

TOURE: I mean, Johnnie Cochran was cool. And how many lawyers can you say that about?

HEMMER: The thing I remember, anytime he came into our program, it was like nothing else in the world bothered him.

KLEIN: Yes.

HEMMER: He had that air where he gave off this idea to other people that everything was going to be OK.

BARNETT: Well, you know, it's interesting. He had a really strong charisma. He had a way of speaking that people really -- you know, that resonated with people. And he became as famous as his clients for that reason.

HEMMER: Sure.

BARNETT: How many lawyers do you know that are referenced in movie dialogue, that are referenced...

TOURE: "Seinfeld."

BARNETT: ... in rap lyrics.

TOURE: "Seinfeld."

BARNETT: That are referenced on TV.

TOURE: And the character on "Seinfeld." Like, it blows my mind.

HEMMER: Remembering Johnnie Cochran today. Thanks to all three of you this morning.

All right, here's Carol.

COSTELLO: "Seinfeld!"

When it comes to taxes, what you don't know about deductions can hurt you. Tips on how you can get the biggest refund possible in our special series, "Many Happy returns." That's just ahead on AMERICAN MORNING.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

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