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AMERICAN MORNING

Oklahoma City: Ten Years Later; Scare at Sea

Aired April 19, 2005 - 09:30   ET

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


SOLEDAD O'BRIEN, CNN ANCHOR: Over at the Nasdaq market site, the composite index opens at 1,912, up nearly five points. And that takes us right to the half hour on this AMERICAN MORNING. I'm Soledad O'Brien in New York.
BILL HEMMER, CNN ANCHOR: I'm Bill Hemmer live in Oklahoma City again. We are only about 30 minutes away from the beginning of this very special memorial, remembering the victims of the Oklahoma City bombing. We'll be here for every minute of that. And all morning long we've been talking with people whose lives were changed forever ten years ago today, as the memorial starts to fill up this morning.

In a moment, the story of the first woman taken into surgery that day. She took the next ten years of her life and devoted it to the memorial behind me to teach others around the world about the lessons learned here in Oklahoma City. Soledad, she is a remarkable woman and she left a lasting impression on us. We'll talk to her in a moment here.

O'BRIEN: Looking forward to her story. Thanks, Bill.

Let's get right to the headlines with Carol Costello this morning. Hello.

CAROL COSTELLO, CNN ANCHOR: Hello, Soledad. Good morning to all of you. "Now in the News," Roman Catholic cardinals will set to resume their conclave within the next half hour. The 115 cardinals took a break after a session this morning. The black smoke, as you can could see, signaling no new pope was selected. The group will meet at their hotel for mass before resuming their positions at the Sistine Chapel.

As families and friends remember the Oklahoma City bombing, many also reflect on the violent end to the standoff in Waco, Texas. Federal agents stormed the Branch Davidian compound 12 years ago today. Cult leader David Koresh and some 85 followers, including children, were killed. Oklahoma City bombers Timothy McVeigh and Terry Nichols apparently sought revenge for the Waco tragedy.

Prosecutors will get another chance to question the accuser's mother in the Michael Jackson trial. At one point, the woman said Jackson, quote, "managed to fool the world" and that he really doesn't care about children. That testimony was stricken. Proceedings resume in just about two hours.

COSTELLO: And the food pyramid is getting a makeover. The new shape will be announced at any time later today. The USDA being very tight-lipped about this, but officials say they hope the new symbol will persuade Americans to eat better. I don't know that the actual shape will change, but you never know. Maybe it will change into a trapezoid.

And the little humvee rolling off the assembly line. General Motors is introducing its bright red Hummer H3. One of the major perks of the petite version, it gets about 20 miles to the gallon. The original, if you remember, got only nine, Bill.

HEMMER: Carol, thank you.

Back here in Oklahoma City now, many people here have spent the past ten years trying to forget that terrible day when the federal building was attacked. But there's one survivor doing what she can to make sure the bombing is never forgotten.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

HEMMER (voice-over): ... wonders why she made it and so many others did not.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Smoke billowing from the federal court building downtown.

HEMMER: Flying glass severed her jugular and left a hole in her esophagus. She was the first victim in surgery that awful April morning.

POLLY NICHOLS, BOMBING SURVIVOR: I'm blessed, I'm fortunate, I'm lucky everything went very well for me that day.

HEMMER (on camera): That's the journal building, right? So you were on the left side over here.

(voice-over): Nichols was working in the building across the street.

(on camera): That building is 80 years old, right?

NICHOLS: Yes.

HEMMER: Good construction.

NICHOLS: It's a wonderful building.

HEMMER (voice-over): She spent nine days in the hospital, with a window overlooking the destroyed federal building.

NICHOLS It was kind of cold and rainy and the huge search lights were just pouring down onto the site and it made it very uncomfortable. The trees around...

HEMMER: For ten longs years, she has used her pain to teach the lesson that violence is not the answer for political change. Nichols helped raise the millions needed to build a world class memorial and museum. It is personal, in countless ways. NICHOLS: Doris Adele Higginbottom (ph).

HEMMER: Higginbottom was her cousin, age 44, killed on the fifth floor of the Murrah building, remembered, like the others, with a bronze granite and glass chair.

NICHOLS: She was in the time of her life, a very happy time of her life. She had planted a garden and her life will not be lost in vain. I promise you that.

HEMMER: She also promises that in her second chance at life, this sacred ground will touch people.

NICHOLS: OK, let's leave.

HEMMER: Forever.

NICHOLS: Nothing we do can change the past, but everything we do can change the future.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

HEMMER: Polly Nichols served on the board of the Oklahoma City national memorial and museum. She has dedicated her life to it and will continue to serve in that fashion.

And later tonight, Paula Zahn sits down for an exclusive interview with Terry Nichols' ex-wife, Lana Padilla. Nichols has given her a message to be read on air and you will hear that message later, here on CNN. Paula comes your way at 8:00 Eastern, 5:00 on the West Coast.

HEMMER: Back here in Oklahoma City now, just minutes away from the beginning of the memorial service -- Soledad.

O'BRIEN: All right, Bill, thanks.

In other news, some passengers on board of that Norwegian Dawn cruise ship are saying now that their experience reminded them of the Titanic. The liner was headed back to New York on Saturday when it was hit by a 70-foot high wave, smashing cabin windows, sending furniture flying. But could the rough weather have been avoided? I talked earlier with one passenger and the representative of the cruise line.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

CAREN HOGAN, PASSENGER ON NORWEGIAN DAWN: The cruise line, about four days before, they informed us that we needed to be back in New York at 5:00 a.m. on Sunday as opposed to, I think it's 8:00 a.m., that we had to be back three hours early and passengers had to be off the ship early. And they changed the itinerary to get back quickly, and they cut out Nassau, they added time into Miami and they added a second day at sea at the end of the trip. We wound up with a full extra day of sea at the end. BILL HAMLIN, NORWEGIAN CRUISE LINES: Actually, we would have been in that same track, whether or not we came from Miami or from Nassau at that particular point in the return to New York. We had been in the storm situation for several hours during the night and, in fact, we were running about ten hours behind, because we had reduced to what we call steering speed for safety and for convenience of the guests.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O'BRIEN: The cruise line says it's refunding part of the ticket cost to its passengers.

(WEATHER REPORT)

O'BRIEN: Well, for the first time in a long time, there's a little good news at the gas pump. Andy is "Minding Your Business." That's up next on AMERICAN MORNING.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

O'BRIEN: Welcome back, everybody. A little bit of relief at the gas pump, and the end of an era for a Times Square landmark. Want to look at those stories, plus a check of Wall Street this morning. Andy Serwer is "Minding Your Business."

Good morning again.

ANDY SERWER, "FORTUNE" MAGAZINE: Good morning again. I actually have some good news this morning.

O'BRIEN: Well, let's get right to it.

SERWER: We were talking about only having bad news. Good news.

The market's up, first of all, Soledad. You can see here, 51 points on the Dow. we Haven't seen that in days, almost weeks you could say. Let's see what's moving, Texas Instruments moving to the upside. Techs following the lead of that company.

Gas prices down this morning four cents nationwide to $2.24 a gallon, following the fall in oil prices from a record $58, to under $50. A landmark in Time's Square -- you can see those prices are still pretty high. That's out in California. So we've got a ways to go before they're back to a level that will make people happy.

A landmark in Time's Square apparently shutting down. Published reports saying that the Howard Johnson's in Time's Square will be closing. It's been there for years and years and years. You know, there are only nine Howard Johnson's restaurants left nationwide now.

O'BRIEN: Really, that's sad.

SERWER: The chain has really contracted. They had as many as 1,000 back in the 1970s. Obviously all sorts of competition leading to hard times there. We talked to one person at the store, and he said, "Yo, man, I read the papers, but they don't tell us nothing here." So we don't have a hard confirmation on that, just published reports. The company not responded to phone calls at this point.

And finally, this is the best news of the morning. It's free cone day at Ben & Jerry's. Today is the day Ben & Jerry's gives away ice cream. They've been doing it for 27 years. And here's the best part, Soledad -- I like this wrinkle -- they don't care how many times you come in the line. In other words, there's not someone there saying, hey, you've already been here once. You can keep going and going and going. If you want four free cones, five free cones, you just go.

O'BRIEN: Ten, 20.

SERWER: Twenty.

O'BRIEN: I like this story. It's the best of the morning.

SERWER: I mean, isn't that great? It really is a good thing.

O'BRIEN: If you're in midtown, of course, they're right here, Rockefeller Center.

SERWER: Yes, sometimes the lines can be kind of wrong.

O'BRIEN: Yes, well, that's why know no one's going to get in line 10 times.

SERWER: No, you'd spend your whole day doing that, although some people would do that.

O'BRIEN: Yes, maybe they would.

Andy, thanks, for some good news this morning.

SERWER: You're welcome.

O'BRIEN: Let's get right back to Bill in Oklahoma City again. Hey, Bill.

HEMMER: Soledad, hello again. Only minutes away now from the beginning for today's very special memorial. Oklahoma City and the nation, paying tribute to the 168 victims of the bombing that ripped apart the federal building. Our special coverage brings you all of that in a moment as we continue after this from Oklahoma City.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

O'BRIEN: A final look at the question of the day this morning.

JACK CAFFERTY, CNN ANCHOR: Thank you, ma'am.

The question is, should pharmacists be allowed to refuse to fill prescriptions? A growing number of them do in various places around the country, based on things like moral objections to the morning- after pill or birth control. Lots of mail. Melanie in Mt. Vernon, Indiana. She is a pharmacist. "As a professional in the state of Indiana, it's an essential responsibility of my job to be allowed to have the right to refuse to refill a prescription when we know it's a medication that is being abused.

O'BRIEN: Interesting point. We've been thinking about it from a totally different perspective, at least I have.

CAFFERTY: Well, I suppose you can, depending on your moral point of view, you could abuse the morning-after pill. They're talking about the fact...

(CROSSTALK)

CAFFERTY: Yes, phony prescriptions, drug addicts that come in, that kind of stuff. I think.

Reg in Thunder Bay, Ontario, "The insurance companies will cure this problem in a hurry with the first multibillion-dollar settlement caused by the lack of prescribed medication. If you think the doctors pay high insurance, wait until you see what these self-diagnosing pill pushers will pay."

And Alan in New York writes this, "Not only should pharmacist be allowed to refuse to fill birth-control prescriptions on religious grounds, I think waiters should be granted such a conscience clause, permitting them to refuse to serve sandwiches with ham or bacon in them on religious grounds."

O'BRIEN: I like that your people like to take an issue that's important and weighty and then twist it.

CAFFERTY: The world gets enough important and weighty. We spend 24 hours a day, seven days a week beating people over the head with serious and weighty. I enjoy the fact that people can take a jaundiced view of this stuff and not let it absolutely destroy their outlook on the world.

O'BRIEN: I hear you. Thank you, Jack.

Coming up we're going go right back out to Bill Hemmer for CNN's special coverage of the memorial in Oklahoma City. AMERICAN MORNING is back in just a moment.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

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