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Crunch Time for Military Families Across the United States

Aired August 24, 2005 - 06:00   ET


CAROL COSTELLO, CNN ANCHOR: It is Wednesday, August 24, and it's crunch time for military families across the United States. The fate of hundreds of bases, military bases, hangs in the balance. Some will shrink, some will expand and some will get the Pentagon's ax.
Also, trading shots. Pat Robertson says let's kill him. Jugo Chavez says Pat who?

And the government wants you to get more miles to the gallon. But will that mean less pain at the pump?

ANNOUNCER: From the Time Warner Center in New York, this is DAYBREAK with Carol Costello and Chad Myers.

COSTELLO: Good morning to you.

We'll have more on those stories in a minute.

Also ahead, the future -- is the future now? We'll look at the hydrogen cars already on the street and ask are they worth it?

And ladies, listen up. Something already in your medication cabinet could protect you from colon cancer.

First, now in the news, a Peruvian plane carrying 100 people has crashed in a jungle. Officials say at least 37 people were killed. Fifty-two managed to survive. It's not clear how many of them were injured. Some Americans were on board that plane. The pilot was trying to make an emergency landing during a storm.

An assassination attempt in Baghdad. Iraq's deputy justice minister escaped during an attack on his convoy. But police say gunmen killed four of his guards and wounded five others.

In ceremonies in Iraq today, U.S. Army Colonel James H. Coffman was presented with the Distinguished Service Cross, the Army's second highest honor. Coffman was cited for his actions in helping relieve defenders of a police station against an insurgent attack in November. This is the first time the medal has been presented in Operation Iraqi Freedom. Congrats to him.

To the Forecast Center and Chad -- good morning.


(WEATHER REPORT) COSTELLO: It is down to the wire. The Base Closure and Realignment Commission begins meeting two hours from now to make final decisions on which Army, Navy and Air Force bases should be shut down or downsized. Commissioners have vowed not to rubber stamp Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld's plan. But the commission's chairman says Rumsfeld's recommendations are solid.


ANTHONY PRINCIPI, BASE CLOSURE REALIGNMENT COMMISSION CHAIRMAN: Well, I think there's -- a significant percentage of the recommendations have merit. That's not to say we're not going to reverse or accept the secretary's recommendations in their entirety. We have some fairly strong views about certain recommendations and -- but I think, by and large, many of the recommendations are grounded in military value.


COSTELLO: A lot of people don't want to hear that this morning.

For what's at stake, let's go live to CNN Radio's Dick Uliano.

He's in Washington -- hello, Dick.


COSTELLO: So what is at stake?

ULIANO: Well, some 62 major bases across the United States and 775 smaller bases are proposed for closing or consolidation. This is what the Pentagon has proposed. And in the past, the base closing commission has gone along with 85 percent of what the Pentagon has proposed.

But, you know, the big question today is will the commission go along with most of these changes? And, Carol, really, the unknown factor is that we are now in the post-9/11 environment and Anthony Principi. The chairman of the commission, has said in recent weeks that he's concerned about shifting military away from the Northeast and just having much of the U.S. military domestically in the South. He wonders about the wisdom of that.

So they will enter their final deliberations today. They'll talk until Friday, morning until night, go into the weekend if they have to, to send their list on to President Bush.

COSTELLO: Dick Uliano reporting live from Washington for us this morning.

She is heading back to Texas. Cindy Sheehan, the grieving mother whose son was killed in Iraq, plans to resume her anti-war vigil right outside of President Bush's ranch today. A family emergency forced her to leave last week. Her mom had a stroke. But other activists have kept the heat on the president, prompting him to finally speak out about Sheehan.


GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: She expressed her opinion. I disagree with it. I think immediate withdrawal from Iraq would be a mistake. I think those who advocate immediate withdrawal from not only Iraq, but the Middle East, would be -- are advocating a policy that would weaken the United States. So I appreciate her right to protest. I understand her anguish. I met with a lot of families. She doesn't represent the view of a lot of the families I have met with. And I'll continue to meet with families.


COSTELLO: Yes, he will, because some of those meetings will take place today. The president will spend time with families of fallen soldiers and speak to military personnel in Idaho.

In the meantime, military families and activists who support President Bush have started their own tour. They call it "You Don't Speak For Me, Cindy," and they clashed with Sheehan's supporters in Sacramento, California. The caravan of Bush backers is heading to Crawford, Texas to join fellow supporters, who have set up their own camp.

Now to the grieving family of fallen Army Ranger Pat Tillman and their fight for answers. The Pentagon is reviewing past Army investigations into Tillman's death, at the family's request. The football star joined the Army after September 11 and was killed in Afghanistan last year by friendly fire. But Tillman's parents were initially told their son was killed fighting the Taliban. His father says: "The other investigations were frauds. I am not involved with political agendas. I only want to get to the bottom of this."

Let's talk about religious broadcaster Pat Robertson, because he's stirring up even more controversy. He's now using the bible to speculate about Islamic terrorism. On Tuesday's broadcast of "The 700 Club," Robertson notes that Muslims see themselves as descendants of Abraham's son Ishmael. And he goes on to say, and I quote: "The bible talks about Ishmael as being a wild ass. He's just uncontrollable. And it's almost like this seed of rebellion and uncontrolled anger has, you know, seeped into these people."

Those comments come one day after Robertson called for the assassination of Venezuela's president, something President Jugo Chavez dismissed.


PRES. JUGO CHAVEZ, VENEZUELA (THROUGH TRANSLATOR): I don't know who that person is. I don't know him. And as far as his opinion of me goes, I couldn't care less.

(END VIDEO CLIP) COSTELLO: More food for thought. "Time" magazine's online edition says: "A public effort to whack Chavez offered from right- wing Christian establishments so closely aligned with President Bush is just what Chavez needs to keep his approval ratings soaring as high as the price of the Venezuelan oil he controls, the largest crude reserves in the hemisphere."

In other "Stories Across America" this Wednesday, police in Glendale, Arizona trying to learn the motive for the shooting deaths of two Wal-Mart employees. A suspect now in custody. Police say he drove his car into the store's parking lot and shot each man several times. Both victims are teenagers.

An Idaho prosecutor says he'll seek the death penalty against Joseph Duncan. Duncan, a sex offender, is accused of killing three people and kidnapping 8-year-old Shasta Groene and her 9-year-old brother Dylan in May. Dylan Groene was later found dead. Shasta Groene was found with Duncan July 2nd at a Denny's Restaurant in Idaho.

The mother of the teenage boy who accused Michael Jackson of sexual molestation is back in court, but this time she is the defendant. She's been charged with five counts of welfare fraud for allegedly obtaining nearly $18,000 in welfare payments.

Still to come this hour, Delta's downward spiral. What will it take to rev this airline's economic engines? Wait until you hear how much money people have lost on Delta's stock.

And another fleet gets a new face. We'll check out this merger makeover. We're talking about US Airways now.

And later, the measures one city is going to in order to protect its airport.

But first, here's a look at what else is making news this Wednesday.



COSTELLO: Thanks, Barry, for singing about DAYBREAK.

Now a follow-up to a story we'll be covering for you. The Florida State Seminoles will still be the Seminoles. Oh, happy day, Chad. The NCAA has removed the college from a list of 18 schools that were restricted from using a Native American name. The NCAA notes the use of the nickname had the backing of the Seminole tribe in Florida, so that makes that OK. The other nicknames they're not so sure about yet.

Your news, money, weather and sports.

It's 6:12 Eastern.

Here's what's all new this morning.

A Peruvian passenger jet has crashed in the jungle near an airport, killing nearly 40 people. Several Americans were on board. The pilot was apparently trying to make an emergency landing in a storm.

In money news, new home sales figures for July come out this morning. You know, the market has been red hot. We'll see if it stays that way when the Commerce Department releases that report at 10:00 Eastern.

In culture, Clay Aiken is hoping the housing market is hot. The "American Idol" runner-up is selling his Los Angeles area home. He plans to return to his North Carolina hometown. I guess that would be pop culture and not really culture.

In sports, not true, says Lance Armstrong. The Tour de France champ denies a French newspaper report that he said he used drugs in the 1999 race -- Chad.

MYERS: And good morning, Carol.


COSTELLO: That's a look at the latest headlines.

Still to come on DAYBREAK, investors know the airlines have seen better days. Consider this. If you bought $10,000 in Delta's stock back in the '90s, oh, you know what it's worth. But wait until the rest of you hear what it's worth.

Also ahead, global positioning systems -- they're not just for technical geeks anymore. See which one can track your kids.

We'll be right back.


COSTELLO: Time now for a little "Business Buzz."

The assembly lines at the Hyundai Motor Company are going down. Union officials decided today to have workers walk off the lines for two hours tomorrow and six on Friday. The partial strike is an effort to get higher wages and better working conditions for South Korea's largest auto maker.

Check out the new colors for US Airways. The airline unveiled the new colors in Phoenix. Aren't they pretty? This is the paint scheme the airline will use after the merger with America West in the fall. The top of the plane used to be dark blue, but now it's white. And hopefully that will keep the planes cooler during layovers.

Northwest Airlines mechanics' strike is now entering day five and although cancellations are up over last year, Northwest seems to be weathering the storm fairly well.

But as Carrie Lee tells us, the airline in the deepest trouble may be Delta.

CARRIE LEE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: They need a lot more than a paint change for this carrier, that's for sure.

We know Delta has been struggling to stay out of bankruptcy, to stay airborne. Well, the stock is now at an all time low -- $1.41 per share. Hard to believe, isn't it?

COSTELLO: That takes the breath right out of you, doesn't it?

LEE: I know. I know. It really does. And the carrier has lost over $10 billion, or about $10 billion since the beginning of 2001. Delta has the biggest debt burden, by far, of any major airline, including pension plans that are under funded by $5 billion.

Now, to illustrate just how poor Delta's stock performance has been, if you bought $10,000 worth of Delta's stock at the beginning of 1999, that same investment at yesterday's closing price would be now just worth over $400.

Very depressing, isn't that, when you think about the average investment and how much money you would have made? That means you would have lost about 95 percent of your initial investment. Delta, of course, isn't the only airline in trouble. $65 per barrel and low fare competitors have all hurt the country's big five carriers.

So the big question for Delta now is do they try to raise more cash by borrowing or by selling more assets or join competitors US Airways and United and try to reorganize in Chapter 11? A lot of analysts say even if Delta does declare bankruptcy, it still might not be able to emerge as a profitable stand alone company so.

COSTELLO: You always hear when a stock goes that low. You might -- you think, oh, maybe I'll buy.

LEE: The bargain hunters come in...

COSTELLO: Let's...

LEE: ... but, you know, these stocks can go to zero and that does happen sometimes. So $1.41 not too far away. Hard to believe, two shares of Delta in some areas of the country worth about the same as a gallon of gasoline.

COSTELLO: That's just bizarre.

LEE: I know.

COSTELLO: I guess I've heard that if you want to invest like in Delta and buy that cheap stock, in the short-term it might be OK, but in the long-term it's never a good thing.

LEE: No, no, no. Well, you know, it can always rebound. Who knows? But I think a lot of day traders come in and they try to buy it one day, sell it the next.


LEE: So very risky if you're going to get involved with the stock now.

COSTELLO: I'm not a gambler.

Thank you, Carrie.


COSTELLO: We'll be right back.


COSTELLO: If you are directionally illiterate, take heart. There is a GPS out there just for you, and your kids, and your business. And you will be amazed at how many gadgets there are that can help you find everything from a street to your children.

"Popular Mechanics" is talking about this technology in its new issue.

And Ben Chertoff, a research editor with the magazine, is here with a compass.

Good morning, Ben.


COSTELLO: So, it seems like a million of these things are being made now.

Why is it so easy now to make these things?

CHERTOFF: Well, what happened was the FCC required cell phones to know where they are for 9/11 purposes. So the result is most cell phone companies use GPS to put inside of the phone and now cell phones are the dominant application of GPS. There are 50 million GPS enhanced phones in the U.S. alone.



COSTELLO: And there are a lot of settles up there to help.

CHERTOFF: Exactly.

COSTELLO: Well, let's run down some of the most nifty gadgets.

Let's start with the Garmin.

CHERTOFF: Yes, well, you have the Garmin. This is the IQM5. And what it is -- if I can make it light up now -- it's a fully functional pocket PC. So it's like a very high powered PDA. Plus it's got this antenna on the back and that gives it GPS functionality. COSTELLO: Wow!

CHERTOFF: So in addition -- so what you do is you put all your contacts in here and in addition to just finding out the address of someplace you want to go -- let's say you're a real estate agent and you have to show a bunch of houses, you can also get full turn by turn driving directions. It's essentially just as functional as a car nav system, but you can take it with you.

COSTELLO: That's -- I need one of those desperately. And I'm not even a real estate agent.

OK, let's go to the next one, because I love this one. This is from Timex.

CHERTOFF: Yes, this is the Timex Body Link. And this has been out for a little bit. This is a new version of it. So what this is, it's a Timex Iron Man watch so you can run -- this is the same thing that you'd have if you're a runner or if you're...

COSTELLO: I have one on right now.

CHERTOFF: Exactly.

COSTELLO: Except that one is better, so I want to trade.

CHERTOFF: Well, see, what this has, in addition to it, is you've got a full heart monitor. So this goes around your chest and it monitors your heart rate. And it's also got this little GPS receiver that goes on your arm.

COSTELLO: My gosh.

CHERTOFF: So what it does is, it takes the data from -- all wirelessly -- from this heart rate monitor and from the GPS and it puts together a comprehensive workout so it knows how far you've run, it knows how high your running and it knows the vertical elevation. So it can tailor a workout to you personally based on your endurance.

COSTELLO: And you won't get lost as you're running through the woods.

CHERTOFF: It'll actually navigate you home.

COSTELLO: Yes. So tell me the cost of both of these items, quickly. That one is?

CHERTOFF: This one, the system is $350 all set, all together. And that's from Timex.

COSTELLO: And the Garmin?

CHERTOFF: And the Garmin, this, the IQM5 is $750.


CHERTOFF: They have a cheaper version. This has Blue Tooth connectivity. They have a cheaper one for $450.

COSTELLO: Oh, OK. Well, that's better.

OK, let's go -- move on to the TomTom.

CHERTOFF: TomTom is very cool. This is more like your standard in car navigation system, except this is, of course, it's portable. You can take it out of your car and take it with you. It's touch screen, which makes it very easy to figure out, to plug in your address, where you're going. And this connects -- this is very cool -- this connects through Blue Tooth with your cell phone. So it downloads traffic data, real time traffic data into this thing, so you're not just getting the fastest route to where you're going...

COSTELLO: So you can get traffic reports off the radio...

CHERTOFF: Exactly. Well, off your cell phone, actually.

COSTELLO: ... like X.M. Radio. Off your cell phone.

CHERTOFF: And then it puts it, it puts -- you know, there is a construction site. It'll put a little dot in here and it will automatically reroute you around the traffic so you can...

COSTELLO: I love that.

CHERTOFF: ... which is great for New York.

Other systems like the AVIC-N2, which is installed -- that uses X.M. Satellite Radio; and then there's one coming out from Gramin that uses your F.M. antenna to get signals for traffic.

COSTELLO: That's just incredible.

OK, to keep track of your kids, the Wherifone.

CHERTOFF: This is so cool. And it's tiny.


CHERTOFF: This is the Wherifone from Wherify Wireless and it's a child sized cell phone. It's very simple to use. There are only five numbers on the screen and you don't dial with this. What you do is you pre-program in important numbers, say, your home number, your work number, your spouse's number, and that way a child can easily dial and get through. And in addition, this is a full functioning GPS tracking system.


CHERTOFF: So you give this to your kid and then if you're worried about where he or she is, you can go onto the Wherify site and you can actually pinpoint on a map exactly where they are within, you know, whatever the accuracy of GPS is at that specific time.

COSTELLO: That is excellent. CHERTOFF: It's very cool. The next generation, you'll be able to have a GEO fence. So if they go out of a certain area, you get an e-mail or a phone call.

COSTELLO: Excellent.

CHERTOFF: Exactly.

COSTELLO: Fascinating.

Thank you very much.

Ben Chertoff from "Popular Mechanics" us this morning.

We appreciate it.

CHERTOFF: Thank you.

COSTELLO: Still to come on DAYBREAK, forget gasoline. Hydrogen is the way of the future, and the future is a lot closer than you might think.

Plus, who is the Venezuelan leader targeted by Pat Robertson? What you don't know about Jugo Chavez might surprise you.

We'll be right back.


ANNOUNCER: From the Time Warner Center in New York, this is DAYBREAK with Carol Costello and Chad Myers.

COSTELLO: And good morning to you.

Thank you for waking up with us.

Coming up this half hour, Pat Robertson can't stand him. He wants him dead. But just who is Jugo Chavez and why is he making some people so mad?

And stop guzzling gas. There might be a better way to quench your car's thirst. We'll show you why a lot of people are high on hydrogen.

But first, now in the news, nearly 40 people are dead after a Peruvian passenger plane crashes in a jungle near the airport. Several Americans were on board that plane. The pilot was apparently trying to make an emergency landing in a storm.

Rescuers are trying to save an Alabama construction worker this morning. He got trapped after a sewer line collapsed at a construction site near Birmingham yesterday afternoon. Officials believe he's more than 20 feet underground.

One Tucson, Arizona resident says it's the worst flooding he's ever seen. The area got four inches of rain yesterday. More than 40 people had to be rescued from stalled cars and flooded homes.

And more flooding overseas. This frightened woman had to be rescued from her car in Austria. Oh, my. Flooding and landslides across central and southern Europe have killed more than two dozen people. And that woman's fine this morning -- Chad.

MYERS: Yes. And look at her face. She didn't look frightened.

COSTELLO: She didn't?

MYERS: No. She just looked like this...

COSTELLO: That's because she was stunned. She was in shock.

MYERS: Maybe it was stunned.

Yes, exactly.

Good morning, Carol.



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