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AMERICAN MORNING

Jackson Verdict Watch; MADD Gets New President

Aired June 9, 2005 - 08:30   ET

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


VALERIE MORRIS, CNN ANCHOR: Actor Macaulay Culkin goes home after pleading guilty to drug charges in Oklahoma. The actor received a one year deferred sentence and a $940 fine for possessing marijuana and a medication without a prescription. Culkin was arrested last September when police stopped a car in which he was a passenger. Authorities say he has undergone a drug assessment, qualifying him for probation.
And two former America West pilots have been convicted of being drunk in the cockpit. The two were arrested back in July of 2002 as their plane was pushing back from the gate. It was revealed during testimony that the pair drank 14 beers between them several hours before the flight. They could face up to five years in prison. That's the very latest -- Carol.

CAROL COSTELLO, CNN ANCHOR: All right, thank you, Valerie.

From its humble beginnings 25 years ago, Mothers Against Drunk Driving has grown into a national organization with more than two million members and supporters. This morning, MADD will reach another milestone when Glynn Birch becomes the group's first head dad.

Glynn Birch is in our Washington bureau. Good morning, Glynn.

GLYNN BIRCH, NEW MADD PRESIDENT: Good morning, Carol. How are you?

COSTELLO: Well, I'm fine, but you must be even better. First of all, congratulations.

BIRCH: Well, thank you very much.

COSTELLO: What's it like to be the head mom?

BIRCH: It's an honor. I'm excited about being national president for such a prestigious organization as Mothers Against Drunk Driving. They've been doing great work.

COSTELLO: Oh, they absolutely have. Take us back, though, to 1988, when you first became involved with MADD. Tell us the circumstances.

BIRCH: Well, May 3rd, 1988 is when my 2-year -- almost 2-year- old son was had it by a drunk driver. He was out with his cousins. They heard the ice cream truck in the neighborhood. They went out to the street to get ice cream and suddenly a speeding vehicle came barreling through, struck my son, driving over 70 miles per hour, drug his body over 150 feet before the car came to a stop. My son didn't have a chance.

COSTELLO: Well, of course you were seeking help on so many levels. Why did you go to MADD?

BIRCH: Well, my attorney suggested I go to MADD because they knew that they would know how to deal with the problems of a drunk driver and also help me through the court systems. It was the best advice he could give me. I called the MADD office and today that's why I'm here. A victim advocate helped me. She helped me to navigate through the court systems. She helped me to deal with the problem of the loss. I'm sure you can imagine how tragic it is to lose a son.

COSTELLO: I cannot.

BIRCH: You always expect your kids to grow.

COSTELLO: I just cannot. I cannot imagine the pain you must have felt. The reason they were able to help you like that is because there is federal money set aside for victims of drunk drivers. Right now in Congress there is a move -- actually they're poised to put that money into a general fund. How might that affect MADD?

BIRCH: It's going to affect MADD. A compassionate nation will not leave the victims in their greatest need of support. Just this year alone, 2005, we've helped over 31,000 victim survivors this year. But out of that funding, you know, a victim advocate, as mine was, there to help me. They would no longer be able to be there. We've trained over 1,000 trained victim advocates out of that funding. We want that funding to be there tomorrow. Victims need us.

COSTELLO: So you're going to be in Washington. You're going to be lobbying. And that will be a great accomplishment, if you're able to get that done. But what has been the greatest accomplishment over the years that you've been involved in MADD?

BIRCH: Well, I want to say that over the past 25 years, you know, we're celebrating life. That's the theme of this year. We saved over 300,000 lives along with our partners. We want to continue to do that. We want to save lives and prevent injuries. We have a plan and we want to make sure that Congress understands our plans and implements it.

You know, America does not have to suffer. 17,000 lives per year is too many lives. That's one every 30 minutes. It's got to stop. It's 100 percent preventable. And we want to make sure the focus is still there. It's every man, every woman, every child that it's affecting and we want to make sure the nation knows that it's got to stop. Let's make sure we have the funds there for the highway safety bill to make sure that we are able to meet our priorities.

COSTELLO: Well, it sounds like you have the passion to get it done. Glynn Birch, the newly-minted president of MADD. Again, congratulations and thank you for joining us.

BIRCH: Thank you. All right. Thank you very much, Carol. BILL HEMMER, CNN ANCHOR: All right, Carol. 25 minutes before the hour. In a moment, the Reverend Jesse Jackson is our guest in Chicago. Yesterday he was in California visiting with Michael Jackson in the hospital. We talk to the reverend in a moment here when we come back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

HEMMER: The fifth day of jury deliberations in Michael Jackson case will begin in a few hours. While the accused waits for a verdict, a rift has developed over who's allowed to speak on his behalf. Jackson attorney Tom Mesereau released a statement on Wednesday: "I have not authorized anyone to speak or hold any press conferences on behalf of Michael Jackson or his family." A gag order is in effect, which the defense team will continue to honor.

Among those who have spoken for Jackson lately is the Reverend Jesse Jackson, my guest now in Chicago. Reverend, good morning. Welcome back here.

REV. JESSE JACKSON, M. JACKSON FAMILY FRIEND: Good morning.

HEMMER: Before we get to this whole dust up between who can speak for whom and why, you visited Michael Jackson in the hospital yesterday. How was he doing?

JACKSON: You know, we spent about an hour together in the hospital last night. He really -- he was in great spirits. He really was kind of ebullient. I think the pain is subsiding. His pain in his back has been real. Mike fell on the stage in Munich a couple years ago and has periodic severe back spasm, excruciating pain. And the back is getting better. His spirits have never been greater.

Michael is convinced that, as he says in the most private sessions, of his innocence. He believes in this jury as having the compassion to be fair and thinks that Tom Mesereau has made the best and strongest of arguments. And so Michael really was kind of up last night and looking forward to the confusion and looking forward to acquittal.

HEMMER: Do you know if he left that hospital?

JACKSON: Yes, he did. It was just a kind of periodic routine visit. He went kind of late at night, assuming that all of the cameras had kind of gone away. They really had not. There was a camera hiding in the bushes, kind of a TV paparazzi, if you will. But I was impressed last night with his spirit. I mean, Michael has had the pain of watching those he felt he had been most generous toward betray him, as he feels -- as he projects it -- and testify against him. He thinks in the face of cross-examination, they've all wilted, all because of some stench of money trail, which suggests something -- a lack in credibility.

He's also concerned about the political climate. You know, when this thing started two years ago, the sheriff, in extraordinary fashion, took 75 armed deputies into his house and ransacked the house and took out personal items. Came out, had a huge press conference, said we got him, looking for more witnesses. That triggered the involvement of district attorney. Even this week, with an unsequestered jury, they're showing tours of where Michael's jail cell will be where he will sleep. So in that climate, there's certain sensitivities.

But Michael still feels, in spite of that, this jury has heard evidence, will meet reasonable standards as the level; he'll be sent free.

HEMMER: OK, if I could, reverend, Thomas Mesereau, you talked to him yesterday, right?

JACKSON: I did.

HEMMER: Was that statement directed at you when you come before the microphones and speak on behalf of Michael Jackson.

JACKSON: No, it was not.

HEMMER: And did he tell you, you can't talk anymore, we have to adhere to the gag order issued by the judge?

JACKSON: No, actually Tom Mesereau and the legal team is under a gag order, and they have honored the gag order.

The excellent spokesman has been Raymone Bain. I think at one point she said she talked to Mesereau constantly, and it could have been interpreted that she was his surrogate. That would force on him a reprimand from the judge. To avoid that, he went to the judge saying, I have no surrogate, no one speaks for me and the Jackson family. It sounds like he was covering his back. Raymone Bain has done -- hello.

HEMMER: I can hear you. Go ahead, reverend. Still there? We had a bit of this problem a few moments ago. That's with your the earpiece right there.

Reverend, can you hear me? We're going to hang on for just a second here. If not, our apologies.

The Reverend Jesse Jackson there in Chicago talking about this dustup with Tom Mesereau about who can talk and who cannot. Trying to clear some of this us. I just want to give it another beat here just to see if we can get the signal back in. Doesn't look like it's going to happen. Our apologies to the reverend in cutting off that interview.

Here's Carol.

COSTELLO: He was on a roll too, wasn't he? Things happen.

(WEATHER REPORT)

COSTELLO: Cubans routinely risk their lives to leave the country. Lucia Newman has the story of a man who got out once, but now needs to escape again.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

LUCIA NEWMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): This video is as close as Bernardo Heredia can get to his daughter, all because he made a sacrifice for his brother. A sacrifice that turned out to be bigger than he ever imagined.

BERNARDO HEREDIA: I can't touch her.

NEWMAN: Like thousands of Cubans, Bernardo Heredia left Cuba 11 years ago on a raft, barely making it to Florida alive, when he settled in Las Vegas, fell in love with a Cuban-American, and began raising a family while working as a taxi driver. In March, he returned to Cuba for a two-week vacation.

HEREDIA: I come to visit my family. And talking to my brother, he was desperate to leave this country.

NEWMAN: So Bernardo Heredia agreed to help him. His brother, Fidel, who looks almost exactly like him, used Bernardo's passport to leave the country, flew to Mexico, DHL'd the passport back to Bernardo in Cuba, and then crossed the border to the United States to get asylum.

But when Bernardo came back here to the Havana airport to fly home to Las Vegas, he was arrested. Immigration officials knew someone else had already left Cuba three days before on the same passport. A month later, after confessing to the plan, he was released, but only from jail.

HEREDIA: They didn't charge me with anything. They just say, "You want to stay in this country? There's going to be punishment. You are never going to leave this country by plane again, period."

NEWMAN: Bernardo says authorities confiscated his passport and his green card and told him he would replace his brother. Now he chokes back tears as he watches the home video he brought with him to Cuba to show off his daughter.

Back in Las Vegas, its his brother who is now holding 2-year-old Angela Marie on his lap. Fidel Heredia is now living in Bernardo's house, happy to be in the U.S. but upset about his brother. Would Fidel be willing to return to Cuba so Bernardo can go home?

FIDEL HEREDIA, BERNARDO HEREDIA'S BROTHER (through translator): I'd be willing to go back only if they first promise that nothing will happen to me. But it's been a long time since I believed their promises.

NEWMAN: At first, Bernardo's common law wife of 10 years was angry at both brothers.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I was mad, you know, because, what about me? What about the baby? You know.

NEWMAN: But after three months, anger has been replaced by despair.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We've never been separated since we been together like this long, never. And I don't know if I'm going to see him again. And I wonder, you know, how is she going to grow up to be? She need her daddy. She need a father figure.

NEWMAN: Hundreds of miles away, Bernardo is equally desperate to get home.

B. HEREDIA: All my life is over there. This country is saying that they don't want revenge. This is revenge. I mean, what is the purpose of holding me here? I mean, what can they win?

NEWMAN (on camera): Here at the U.S. Diplomatic Mission in Havana, officials told him there was nothing they could do to help, because although he lives in Nevada legally, he's not a U.S. citizen.

(voice-over): Bernardo says a month ago he tried leaving on a raft like did he 11 years ago, but had to swim back after the raft capsized far offshore. He says he's not sorry he helped his brother. But it's hard to live with the price he's paying.

(on camera): What's the hardest part about all this for you?

B. HEREDIA: This.

NEWMAN (voice-over): Lucia Newman, CNN, Havana.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

COSTELLO: Bernardo Heredia first left Cuba 11 years ago. Right about that time, Cuban law changed. Now Cubans who left the island illegally after September 9th, 1994 are not allowed back for visits, as Bernardo was.

HEMMER: In a moment here, 13 minutes before the hour, bribing students to take summer school. Free iPods. Seem to be doing the trick pretty well overseas. I bet, huh. Andy is back "Minding Your Business" after this.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

HEMMER: All right. Welcome back.

JACK CAFFERTY, CNN ANCHOR: A Wal-Mart executive out of a job after approving an ad that some people deemed tasteless. And those people were right. And go to school. Get an iPod. Those stories, plus a preview of the markets. Andy Serwer is here "Minding Your Business."

ANDY SERWER, "FORTUNE" MAGAZINE: You know, Jack, when you and I become the arbiters of taste.

CAFFERTY: I consider I'm already there.

SERWER: OK. Wal-mart has gotten in zoning fights all across the country as it tries to put up in new stores and especially supercenters. It's in a battle in Arizona to put up a store near Flagstaff. There's a local Proposition 100 to block larger stores with supermarkets in them, and they had run a P.R. campaign, an ad in the "Arizona Daily Sun" that equated this Proposition 100 with Nazi book burning. You can see here, it says, "If the government wants to ban books, what are they going to ban next?" Wal-Mart stores? You know, it's a little bit of a leap.

CAFFERTY: Maybe the government will ban some of the books and CDs that wal-Mart doesn't allow at stores to sell to people in this country, huh?

SERWER: Yes, want to buy Jon Stewart's book, you can't get it there. "Playboy" magazine.

CAFFERTY: Yes, I mean, they censor, heavily censor, some of the stuff they sell.

SERWER: Anyway, this gentleman, the P.R. director in Arizona and Southern California for Wal-Mart resigned. He said he needed to spend more time with his family. I love that line.

CAFFERTY: You never take a job saying I want to spend less time with my family. You never hear of that, I'm taking this job because I want to spend less time with my family.

SERWER: Moving across the pond to England, unemployed teens in Britain are being offered an iPod to go to summer school. I don't see any problem with this. What are they going to give them, fish and chips? That's not going to get them in class. Some people in Britain, though, are complaining that this amounts to bribery. Well, it's sort of a time-tested parental thing to do, isn't it.

CAFFERTY: Anything to do to get a kid in the classroom.

SERWER: These iPods are hot. Fifteen million of them being sold. I'm doing an article on it in "Fortune" magazine. I did one of these ads, you know these ads, Jack, the iPod ads. Let's see if we've got one. I put myself in one. See, that's moi, with my little (INAUDIBLE) hat.

CAFFERTY: I'm not sure that would help.

SERWER: Hello! Calling Steve Jobs. Nice choice. Yes. Nice color there, too.

COSTELLO: Love the cowboy hat.

SERWER: Yes, thank you.

Let's talk about the markets yesterday, down a little bit. The White House backing off its projections of growth for the balance of the year. Double sixes down. The futures are mixed this morning, Jack. Alan Greenspan testifying at 10:00 a.m. Eastern.

CAFFERTY: All ears on the chairman. SERWER: Indeed.

CAFFERTY: Thanks, Andy.

SERWER: You're welcome.

CAFFERTY: Time for the "File." The House Ethics Committee has stalled for a second time this year because of a dispute between Republicans and Democrats. Lawmakers now say it could take months, maybe even until next year, before the Ethics Committee will decide whether to look into the activities of House Majority Leader Tom DeLay. DeLay's accused of violating the rules on lobbying and travel. Now DeLay says the Ethics Committee should not focus just on him, but should conduct a broad investigation of all members compliance with the rules. Pay attention to this part. Since the 109th Congress convened in January, the House Ethics Committee has operated for one day, one day.

SERWER: Must have been a long day.

CAFFERTY: Moving on, talk about the pot calling the kettle plastic. Joan Rivers is criticizing Robert Redford for being the victim of a bad facelift.

SERWER: Oh, please.

CAFFERTY: Rivers tells the Web site The Scoop that the 67-year- old Redford had, quote, "such a bad job, God, whoever did him should be ashamed, or maybe he left it too long, so it's more obvious," end quote. The 72-year-old Joan Rivers, and that's not nearly a close enough close up to make the point we're going to make here, may not think that Redford has benefited from his facelift, but Joan Rivers has retired the trophy for the funniest looking plastic surgery ever done in the United States.

SERWER: Yes.

CAFFERTY: Another example of being an arbiter of taste.

SERWER: You sure are.

CAFFERTY: And finally, I'm not sure they always have the best ideas, but you always count on PETA for a good demonstration. During a protest in front of a Providence, Rhode Island statehouse on Monday, these animal rights activists packed themselves into large containers with cellophane to resemble supermarket meat trays, sort of human pork chops, if you will. PETA says it's part of their meat package tour. The human pork chops are meant to compare eating meat with cannibalism. They're oversized price stickers warn, quote, "Billions of animals are abused and violently killed because you eat meat." Get help.

HEMMER: What do you think that is a pound, Andy?

SERWER: What about suffocation, Bill?

HEMMER: That, too.

(CROSSTALK)

HEMMER: I thought you were doing a very fine imitation. Can you try that again.

SERWER: Yes.

CAFFERTY: The problem is that at the end of the demonstration some of them wouldn't come out. They liked it in there.

COSTELLO: Oh Jack.

SERWER: The arbiter.

COSTELLO: In a moment, today's top stories, plus new tips from the American Heart Association helps keep you in shape. It's called the No Fad Diet. We've got all the details for you straight ahead on AMERICAN MORNING.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

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