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AMERICAN MORNING

Bush's Victory Strategy; Financial News Update; 'Morning Coffee'

Aired November 30, 2005 - 06:00   ET

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


SOLEDAD O'BRIEN, CNN ANCHOR: Good morning, I'm Soledad O'Brien.
A plan for victory in Iraq, that's the president's focus today with a major speech just hours from now, as well as a 35-page war plan set for release this morning. We've got a preview.

MILES O'BRIEN, CNN ANCHOR: I'm Miles O'Brien.

Outrage in New Orleans, Katrina victims who died in the flood still unidentified after bureaucratic red tape puts DNA testing on hold. We'll have an exclusive report ahead.

S. O'BRIEN: And a break in the case, two men suspected in this liquor store rampage are now in police custody. Authorities still looking for more suspects on this AMERICAN MORNING.

Good morning. Welcome, everybody.

M. O'BRIEN: Good morning, we're glad you are with us this morning.

A big case getting to the Supreme Court this morning.

CAROL COSTELLO, CNN ANCHOR: Absolutely.

M. O'BRIEN: Could be some fundamental issues decided.

S. O'BRIEN: Yes, no question about that.

Carol has got a look at the news this morning.

Good morning.

COSTELLO: Good morning. I feel so low in my chair.

S. O'BRIEN: Would you like my pillow, because I sit on a pillow. You can have it.

COSTELLO: I feel like standing.

M. O'BRIEN: I feel like one, too.

S. O'BRIEN: Here, here, have that, sit. It's comfy, too. Here.

M. O'BRIEN: Much better. There you go.

COSTELLO: This is good.

S. O'BRIEN: OK. Good.

COSTELLO: This is good. Now I'm dominant.

M. O'BRIEN: Wait a minute, now I'm low.

(LAUGHTER)

COSTELLO: Hey, good morning, everyone.

Miles is right, the difficult issue of abortion does come up today at the Supreme Court. Justices will hear arguments on a New Hampshire law that requires a parent be notified if their underage daughter seeks an abortion. The case is not a challenge to Roe v. Wade.

They have been missing since Saturday, and now a videotape of four kidnapped Westerners is being shown on the Arab television network Al Jazeera. The tape was released by a group calling itself the Swords of Justice and they are now accusing the four men of being spies. An American, a British citizen and two Canadians are being held. They are linked to the Christian Peacemaker teams. That organization says it works for the rights of Iraqi prisoners.

Virginia death row inmate Robin Lovitt will not become a statistic in the history of capital punishment. Governor Mark Warner commuted his sentence to life without parole. He would have been the nation's 1,000th execution since the Supreme Court allowed capital punishment to resume in 1976. And the grim milestone is now expected to come on Friday in North Carolina. We'll keep you posted.

A follow up to a story we've been telling you about, two men now in custody after a pair of liquor stores in Oakland, California were vandalized. Authorities say they are still looking for at least four others. Police say a 23-year-old man and a 73-year-old man turned themselves in on Tuesday.

At least five people died as a blizzard swept across the Plains. The blizzard knocked out power to thousands and forced roads to close across the Dakotas, Minnesota, Nebraska and Kansas. Officials in those states say most roads have now reopened. The blizzard dropped snow as far south as the Texas panhandle.

And a long, hard hurricane season ends today, but not with a whimper. Jacqui says Tropical Storm Epsilon, the 26th named storm of the season, could bring dangerous surf conditions to Bermuda over the next few days. The storm is far out in the Atlantic, though.

And, Jacqui, please tell us it's not expected to make landfall.

JACQUI JERAS, CNN METEOROLOGIST: No, not worried about it. Good. Just another letter in the Greek alphabet.

COSTELLO: Got it. Good. JERAS: Hopefully. Only in the history books because it's another named storm. But, yes, it shouldn't really bother anybody, so that's some good news.

But, yes, today is the official last day. You can't always go by what the calendar says, right, because it can continue. And we've had storms even in the month of December.

(WEATHER REPORT)

M. O'BRIEN: Thank you very much, Jacqui.

President Bush talking about victory in Iraq today. Just over three hours from now, the president is going to lay out details of his strategy.

Dana Bash begins our coverage.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

DANA BASH, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): In a preview of what the White House is billing as a major speech on Iraq, the president suggested troops could start coming home soon but warned too soon would be a terrible mistake.

GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I want our troops to come home, but I don't want them to come home without having achieved victory. And we've got a strategy for victory.

BASH: The president will try to define that strategy, aides say, in more detail than ever before, focusing on progress Iraqis are making in securing their own country. A senior official says Mr. Bush will admit it's taken more time than expected to properly train Iraqi security forces. But he'll cite some 120 Iraqi battalions in the fight, 40 leading missions, and tout specific regions, like a road formerly known as Death Street that are now safe and under Iraqi control.

NICOLLE WALLACE, WHITE HOUSE COMMUNICATIONS DIRECTOR: This is a clear road map for the conditions being in place for Iraqis to defend and secure their own country, which is, of course, the condition that has to be met for United States troops to come home.

BASH: The president still says he'll make that decision based on advice from his military commanders.

A Democrat just back from Iraq who wants U.S. troops to stay reports progress but warns it may be slow going.

SEN. JOSEPH LIEBERMAN (D-CT), ARMED SERVICES COMMITTEE: The Iraqis are beginning to show much more self-sufficiency. They're a long way from being able to take it on their own.

BASH: The White House has tried several times before to turn around slumping support for Iraq with speeches billed as major. After Cindy Sheehan captured August headlines, Bush aides promised to explain their Iraq policy better with this VFW speech. That was two months after using the same tactic with this prime time address.

BUSH: Is the sacrifice worth it? It is worth it.

BASH: Yet, they lost support. In June, 52 percent of Americans said it wasn't worth going to war, two months later 54 percent. Now 60 percent, 6 in 10 Americans, say Iraq wasn't worth it.

BILL MCINTURFF, PUBLIC OPINION STRATEGIES: What the headlines say every day in Iraq is how many poor people got blown up and how many American soldiers were killed. That's the reality that's shaping opinions about Iraq.

BASH (on camera): To overcome that, Bush officials say they now believe Americans are willing to stay in Iraq as long as they think they can win. A word the president is using more often. And aides concede the public yearns for a plan, which is why the White House plans to declassify a document they say proves there is one.

Dana Bash, CNN, the White House.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

M. O'BRIEN: We, of course, will bring you the president's speech live about 9:50 Eastern Time, 6:50 Pacific, so stay with us.

S. O'BRIEN: Outrage in New Orleans. We've certainly said that a lot. Three months since Hurricane Katrina and bodies are still lying in a storage room yet to be identified. The city's coroner says it's because the state has not signed a contract with a company to do DNA testing. And he says it's a frustrating experience.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DR. FRANK MINYARD, ORLEANS PARISH CORONER: So, you know we have to rely on DNA. And it should have been done, you know at least started a month ago, but it hadn't been, and so now we just have to wait. And the families of course are the ones who are suffering.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

S. O'BRIEN: So far, CNN has not been able to contact Louisiana health officials about the problem.

Coming up, though, in our next hour, we're going to talk to the city council president. Ask him just who is to blame and what he thinks needs to be done.

And there certainly is plenty of anger to go around. Mayor Ray Nagin was hit with all kinds of complaints in a town hall meeting on Tuesday.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It is a hard thing to believe that the United States of America is spending nearly $1 billion per week in Iraq, and here in New Orleans, United States, we're being neglected. Now why do we have to beg and plead with our president, our congressmen, our elected leaders to tell them that we need help when it's on the media every day, OK? This is the United States of America.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

S. O'BRIEN: Another resident suggested that New Orleans residents should board buses and take their complaints directly to Capitol Hill -- Miles.

M. O'BRIEN: Still to come on the program, the president's decisions on any troop withdrawal depend a lot on the Iraqi military. So are they really ready to step up and protect their own country? We'll take a look at that.

S. O'BRIEN: U.S. troops still in Iraq have to be well prepared for anything. We're going to take you live to Turkey this morning for a look at some of the training techniques that they are using.

M. O'BRIEN: And the demise of the housing bubble may have been greatly exaggerated, I'm happy to tell you. Boy, it's an up and down kind of thing, isn't it? We'll update that in our financial news ahead on AMERICAN MORNING. Stay with us.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

S. O'BRIEN: Well he's got a big speech today, really trying to set the agenda for what's happening in Iraq.

M. O'BRIEN: Yes, he's talking about creating, well, it'll be interesting to see if he uses the term timetable or benchmarks for victory.

Carol, has some more on that for us now.

COSTELLO: I do, indeed.

President Bush is hoping to drum up support for the war in Iraq. The president is set to give a major address this morning at the Naval Academy in Maryland. Before it begins, aides are set to release an unclassified report on the efforts in Iraq. It's expected to include lessons learned and details about the enemy. We will have live coverage of the president's address. That begins around 9:50 Eastern.

Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton perhaps taking her strongest stand on Iraq so far. The New York senator is defending her vote to authorize military action, but is also calling on President Bush to bring troops home. She wants a withdrawal to begin next year. The statement appears in a letter e-mailed to thousands of constituents in New York.

A warning about a drug sometimes used to help women become pregnant, it could lead to birth defects and miscarriages. The drug is marketed under the name Famara. It's made by the Swiss company Novartis to treat breast cancer in post-menopausal women, but is sometimes prescribed as part of a fertility treatment. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration now looking into those reports. You're fired, but there's a twist. Donald Trump is moving his signature phrase to Los Angeles. The sixth season is set to air in California. It's the first time the series will take place outside of Manhattan. "Apprentice 6" -- "Apprentice 6" is set for next fall.

The pretty women -- the "Pretty Woman," I should say, still has what it takes. Julia Roberts is once again the highest paid actress in Hollywood. That's according to Hollywood Reporter's annual women in entertainment power list. She reportedly earns $20 million a movie, despite taking time off to have those twins.

And country couple Tim McGraw and Faith Hill are teaming up with Amazon.com to help hurricane victims. From today until December 20, different artists will release new songs through the Web site. McGraw kicks off the drive today with a brand new song, "Louisiana," of course named after his home state.

Let's head to the Forecast Center now to check in with Jacqui Jeras.

Good morning.

JERAS: Good morning, Carol.

(WEATHER REPORT)

S. O'BRIEN: All right, Jacqui, thank you for the update. We'll check in with you again.

Let's talk business. Let's talk money. One day we're talking about the real estate boom has gone bust, the next day new numbers, different story. Why the back and forth?

Carrie Lee has got some financial news for us.

CARRIE LEE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well we're talking about new homes sales for October. Report came out yesterday. A big surprise for Wall Street, because we saw a record 1.42 million homes sold during the month. People were expected a bit of a decline. We actually saw a 13 percent increase from September, the biggest month- over-month hike since April of 1993. So a lot of people questioning is this the end of the housing bust -- boom, rather? Is this an anomaly?

I will say a couple of things here. First of all, new home sales, very small part of the housing market. Number two, people might be buying new homes, trying to lock in a relatively low mortgage rate because rates have been rising. And also some people say new home sales a sign of future housing activity. And that's because new home sales are booked when a sales contract is signed. Existing home sales are booked when a sale has actually closed. So it could be a bit of an anomaly.

A lot of people, though, scratching their heads over this. But I will say the consensus seems to be that most people, including the National Association of Realtors, says the housing peak has definitely passed.

M. O'BRIEN: Well let me ask you this -- Carrie.

LEE: OK.

M. O'BRIEN: How long have we been talking about the bubble bursting now?

LEE: A long time.

M. O'BRIEN: A long time.

LEE: A long time. You can't say -- you can't talk about housing without the word bubble bursting, pretty much.

M. O'BRIEN: Right.

S. O'BRIEN: What does it all mean for Miles, Carrie, is what I want to know, and his recent purchase as he moved to New York?

LEE: Well you probably bought it pretty close to the high level.

M. O'BRIEN: Pretty much peak, yes.

LEE: But you probably got a pretty decent mortgage rate still, so.

M. O'BRIEN: Yes.

S. O'BRIEN: Not all bad news, see.

M. O'BRIEN: That makes me feel so much better. Thank you -- Carrie.

LEE: There you go. There you go.

S. O'BRIEN: Thank you for the visit and update for us.

LEE: OK, my pleasure.

M. O'BRIEN: It's an up and down world, isn't it?

All right, thank you, Carrie. We'll see you a little bit later.

Still to come in the program, how much is the air up there? A lot. We'll tell you how much it's going to cost some New York builders just to buy air. That's when AMERICAN MORNING continues.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

M. O'BRIEN: Interesting music choices this morning, Jerry (ph). We need to get a list what he's got in mind. Hey.

COSTELLO: You aren't always asked.

M. O'BRIEN: It's -- we call this "Coffee Talk," right? COSTELLO: No, "Morning Coffee."

M. O'BRIEN: I'm sorry, "Morning Coffee." Coffee talk amongst yourselves.

COSTELLO: I think we'd have to pay for that if we used that. "Morning Coffee."

M. O'BRIEN: We would. We probably just had to pay. And we got our coffee table. We have new stuff on here.

COSTELLO: That's...

M. O'BRIEN: Can you get a shot of that? I mean I don't -- but I can't figure out what it is.

COSTELLO: It's potpourri.

M. O'BRIEN: Potpourri.

COSTELLO: Yes, it's potpourri.

M. O'BRIEN: Yes, and how apropos because you have a potpourri of news items for us.

COSTELLO: Why I certainly do.

M. O'BRIEN: Yes, you do.

COSTELLO: So let's get right to it.

M. O'BRIEN: Let's get to it.

COSTELLO: We have heard about teenagers taking their parents' cars out for a joyride, but that is nothing compared with this story out of Arizona. It seems a 13-year-old boy took a police car out for a spin, but he did it after escaping from a detention center. But wait.

M. O'BRIEN: Hudspah. He's got hudspah.

COSTELLO: It gets better. Listen to this.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: 911 emergency.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Hi, was at the detention thing, and I snuck out and I stole a police car.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

COSTELLO: Hey, he's honest, right?

M. O'BRIEN: True confessions, at least, yes. COSTELLO: Yes. He called 911 on the police officer's cell phone. So now he is back at the detention center, but he still says that when he gets older he wants to join the police force.

How much do you think the air over your head is worth? In New York City it will cost you a pretty penny. A construction company is paying $430 a square foot for the air. Yes, let's zoom into the air.

M. O'BRIEN: Stand fine (ph) with the Google map there.

COSTELLO: Loving that, Park Avenue and 60th right by Central Park.

M. O'BRIEN: Yes. Yes.

COSTELLO: That's where the very expensive air is in this city.

M. O'BRIEN: That's some fancy real estate there. Yes.

COSTELLO: Yes, this company wants to build apartments.

M. O'BRIEN: Live picture, by the way.

COSTELLO: But they have to buy the airspace from two other buildings. The total cost, $37 million for nothing, for air.

M. O'BRIEN: I guess you could say the air is on the air there, you know.

COSTELLO: Well, no, because you know there's not much land space available in New York...

M. O'BRIEN: That's true.

COSTELLO: ... and you have to buy up.

M. O'BRIEN: You buy up.

COSTELLO: Yes, so it's per acre of air now.

M. O'BRIEN: But I wonder if the air bubble is going to burst anytime soon, if you know what I mean?

COSTELLO: I'm going to leave the studio if you don't quite with...

M. O'BRIEN: OK. Onwards. Onward.

COSTELLO: Just kidding.

M. O'BRIEN: Potpourri continues.

COSTELLO: Yes, let's talk about Terrell Owens, because his situation just keeps on getting stranger. First, Jesse Jackson came to his aid after Owens was suspended by the Philadelphia Eagles. And now Senator Arlen Specter wants a piece of the action. After all, he is from Pennsylvania. Senator Specter threatened to have the Senate investigate the Owens case. But now he's backed off a little, and he's referred the matter to the Justice Department. So he must be a Philadelphia Eagles fan, right?

M. O'BRIEN: That's please (ph). Yes, I guess so.

COSTELLO: You know everyone loves those little snow globes. You just shake them up and it's the middle of winter. But now they have become super sized. Take a look at this Web site. It's Gemmy.com. Let's listen to a bit from the Web site, shall we?

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Even when it's not snowing outside, it's always snowing inside the Gemmy air blown inflatable snow globe. Over 1.5 million realistic snow pellets are self-contained inside the globe, so there's no snow mess.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

COSTELLO: That's right. And this giant snow globe is six feet tall. You can pick one up for about $150. It's the new inflatables -- Miles.

M. O'BRIEN: Why?

COSTELLO: People put them in their yard. You pump them up and then there's a fan inside that blows those 1.5 flakes of fake snow all around.

M. O'BRIEN: So you don't have to upend it, because that would be a problem?

COSTELLO: No, that would be hard.

M. O'BRIEN: You'd have to get the front-end loader in to do that.

COSTELLO: Yes. My neighbor has one, actually.

M. O'BRIEN: Really?

COSTELLO: In fact, he has seven inflatables in his yard.

M. O'BRIEN: I bet you'll have a crowd this holiday season driving by.

COSTELLO: I bet we will.

M. O'BRIEN: OK. You could do a lemonade stand or hot cocoa.

COSTELLO: Hot cocoa.

M. O'BRIEN: Yes, there you go.

All right. Thank you for your potpourri of news on "Morning Coffee."

Coming up on our program, our top story of the day, the president's speech on Iraq, when will Iraqi troops be ready to take over? We'll ask someone who has watched them in action. That's ahead on AMERICAN MORNING.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

M. O'BRIEN: This Sunday night, 8:00 Eastern Time, that's on the p.m. side of the clock, our "THEN & NOW" special with Larry King. We'll look at some of the newsmakers of CNN's first 25 years and see how they are doing now.

Here's a preview.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Heidi, do you think you will give the names in the black book?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: In the 1990s, Heidi Fleiss was one of Hollywood's notorious characters. The then 20-something daughter of a wealthy pediatrician used her family's connections to attract and service rich and famous clients as the Hollywood Madam. Her arrest and trial became headline news, but she never did reveal the contents of her black book and was sentenced to three years in prison for procuring prostitution and selling cocaine.

When Fleiss was released from prison, she started capitalizing on her notoriety, legally. Fleiss has a line of clothing called Heidi Wear and owns a West Hollywood boutique called the Little Shop of Sex. She also invested in her looks, undergoing plastic surgery.

HEIDI FLEISS, ENTREPRENEUR: I had the party, did the party, threw the party, was the party. I'm partied out. And I live every day to score. And there are lessons that I have learned.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Fleiss wrote a book about her experiences called "Pandering." She's also opening a legal brothel in Nevada. On the personal side, she recently faced off in court against former boyfriend and actor Tom Sizemore, accusing him of abuse.

The Hollywood Madam turns 40 this year and would like to be remembered for one thing.

FLEISS: That I took the oldest profession on earth and did it better than anyone on earth. That's it and that's all. Alexander the Great conquered the world at 32. I did it at 22.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

S. O'BRIEN: To be remembered for.

M. O'BRIEN: I guess it's an accomplishment, yes, whatever. It depends on where you set the bar, right? Still to come on the program, the White House says the troop withdrawal from Iraq hinges on the strength of the Iraqi military, but just how strong are the Iraqi forces? That is the big question this morning. We'll take a closer look when AMERICAN MORNING returns.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

ANNOUNCER: You're watching AMERICAN MORNING with Soledad O'Brien and Miles O'Brien.

M. O'BRIEN: Good morning from New York City. We're glad you're with us.

Big day as the president of the United States tries to clearly state what his goals for are in Iraq and what the progress toward victory is.

S. O'BRIEN: Victory, I think, is the critical word here. We're certainly seeing that a lot, but that's going to be something that the White House is going to maybe move away from the word strategy and talk about the you know winning victory in Iraq...

COSTELLO: As in we're not leaving until we win.

M. O'BRIEN: Yes.

COSTELLO: That's right, there is a new push to bolster support on Iraq. President Bush getting ready to deliver that major address this morning from a naval base in Maryland. Senior administration officials tell us the president will provide details into what it will take to bring some U.S. troops home. For months now the president has said the withdrawal depends on the ability of the Iraqi troops to battle insurgents. We will bring you live coverage of the speech beginning at 9:50 Eastern.

Also in Iraq today, more deadly violence. Eight construction workers riding in a minibus were killed when gunmen fired upon their vehicle. Iraqi police say it happened just northeast of Baquba.

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