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Randal McCloy Improving, Still In Critical Condition; Britain Closes Its Embassy In Jordan Due To Terrorist Threats; Israel Prays And Holds Vigils For Ariel Sharon; Computer Electronics Show Gadgets

Aired January 7, 2006 - 09:00   ET


BETTY NGUYEN, CNN ANCHOR: The hopes of a West Virginia mining community lie with Randal McCloy this morning. Coming up, we will have the latest on the sole survivor of the Sago Mine tragedy. From the CNN Center in Atlanta, good morning, everybody. I'm Betty Nguyen. This is CNN SATURDAY MORNING.
TONY HARRIS, CNN ANCHOR: And good morning, everyone. I'm Tony Harris. Thank you for starting our day with us. Our top story in just a moment, first a look at what else is happening right now. Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon underwent another brain scan today.

He's now had three surgeries to control bleeding in his brain from Wednesday's massive stroke. Doctors in Jerusalem haven't been able to assess the damage yet. They plan to discus Sharon's condition at 11:00 a.m. Eastern time.

Iraqi police are apparently once again in the crosshairs of insurgents, a car bomb detonates in a Baghdad neighborhood this morning wounding 13 people, and six of the injured are Iraqi police commandos.

A memo by two congressional advisers says President Bush's justification for domestic eavesdropping may be on shaky ground. According to the AP, the 44-page document says no legal precedent seems to exist for the president to bypass the courts. The administration maintains the president had the authority after the 9/11 attacks.

Funeral services are being held right now for one of the New Jersey police officers killed when his emergency truck plunged from an open drawbridge. You are looking at live pictures of relatives and colleagues of officer Robert Nguyen gathering for the event. Nguyen and officer Sean Carson died after helping other officers place warning flares to make drivers aware of the damaged bridge. This happened on Christmas night.

NGUYEN: We begin this hour with the Sago Coal Mine tragedy and the desperate effort to save the loan survivor. Earlier this morning I had a chance to seek with Randal McCloy's physician about the treatments and prognosis so far.


DR. RICHARD SHANNON, ALLEGHENY GENERAL HOSPITAL: Randall has been very stable. He had a very good night, a restful night. He -- we've made considerable progress in stabilizing a number of his injuries and this morning we're going to begin our reevaluation of his neurological status.


NGUYEN: CNN's Chris Huntington is covering the Randal McCloy story for us in Pittsburgh and he filed this report.


CHRIS HUNTINGTON, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Perhaps the most encouraging sign of Randal McCloy's progress was the smile on his wife Anna's face as she described what she'd do when he wakes up.

ANNA MCCLOY, MINER'S WIFE: I don't know that I'm going squeeze him. I'm going to squeeze him because right now it's kind of hard to hug him like you want to hug him and I'm going to just tell him how much I love him and how much I'm proud of him.

HUNTINGTON: The doctors treating McCloy at Pittsburgh Allegheny General Hospital say many of his vital signs are improving, but he is still in critical condition.

SHANNON: Randy is holding his own in the face of what are six or seven serious life-threatening issues. And he's demonstrated today the ability for some of those things to get better. Now we have serious issues with the lung and we have serious concerns that remain with the brain.

HUNTINGTON: Dr. Shannon says he is most worried about McCloy's left lung, which had been collapsed, and he's still collecting fluid. The most recent CAT scan shows McCloy's brain injuries appear to have stabilized.

DR. JAMES VALERIANO, NEUROLOGIST: So far what we see are posterior injuries, so part of the brain that would have to do more with sensation and possibly even vision would be a possibility. The more anterior parts of the brain, which you would think of more as your thinking abilities and those types of things right now, look pretty well intact.

HUNTINGTON: McCloy has received two treatments and may receive more in a pressurized oxygen chamber. He remains under heavy sedation in a medically induced coma, that's helping his brain to rest, but preventing the doctors for measuring the full extent of his brain damage. Doctors say another key to McCloy's recovery is his ever- present family.

MCCLOY: My little boy -- I told him his dad had worked very long hours and that he was tired so he had to rest. He was sick and my little boy says well that's OK because my daddy's going get better for me.

(END VIDEOTAPE) NGUYEN: Well, we know that many of you have been following the story very closely like all of us here. What is your take on it? Could anything have been done differently at the Sago Mine? Send us your replies. E-mail us at We'll read them on the air.

HARRIS: This just into CNN. Britain has indefinitely closed its embassy in Jordan because of the danger of terrorist attacks. That's according to the foreign office. A spokesman for that office would not comment on whether there had been a specific threat against the embassy in Amman saying only that the closure was prompted by the security situation in Jordan.

The foreign office also updated its advice from Britons who were visiting Jordan warning that terrorists may be in the final stages of planning attacks against westerners in places frequented by westerners. Once again this just in to CNN. Great Britain is indefinitely closed its embassy in Jordan. We will have additional information for you as it becomes available.

At synagogues throughout Israel, worshippers are reciting a prayer for Ariel Sharon who suffered a major stroke three days ago. We're expecting an update from Sharon's doctors in under two hours from now. They may have the results of a new brain scan taken earlier this morning, but it is not just the Israel's who should be concerned at this point in time. CNN's Tom Foreman tells us why.


FOREMAN (voice-over): Not far from the Capitol in downtown D.C., like many Americans waiter Ben Parker knows he should care about what's happening with Ariel Sharon. He's just not sure why.

BEN PARKER, WAITER: Well, yes. He's been a pretty -- he's been in the spotlight over in the Middle East for a long time helping shape policy and what's going on.

FOREMAN (on camera): Does he affect your life?

PARKER: I'm sure he does. I don't know of any -- I don't know of what the connection would be.

FOREMAN (voice-over): If you care about the war in Iraq, about gas prices, international trade, terrorism, even tourism, Sharon matters because all these issues are affected by what happens in the Middle East.

Sharon was among the last of the old Middle East leaders, many of whom once fought each other and have been dying or disappearing from power for ten years -- in Israel, among the Palestinians, in Syria, in Jordan, in Iraq and in Saudi Arabia.

For better or worse, they were well known, generally predictable and American foreign policy was built around them. Aaron David Miller knows that because he was an adviser to six secretaries of states. AARON DAVID MILLER, POLITICAL SCHOLAR: Those who fought this conflict over the last 50 years and those who also have had a role in helping to address it are now passing from the scene.

And we'll be up to a new and relatively untested set of leaders to inherit the not so Holy Land in this case and to try to grapple with the very difficult situation that exists on the ground right now.

FOREMAN: The Saudi royal family is under pressure. Relations between Palestinians and Israelis remain uncertain and volatile. Democratic reforms in Egypt, even with the long-time president, are slow and shaky. In short, the Middle East vacuum created by the old guards' disappearance is filling with uncertainty.

TAMARA COFMAN WITTES, BROOKINGS INSTITUTION: And the squabbles amongst the youngsters, the relative youngsters over who will come next to the seat of power are squabbles that don't have any clear mechanism for resolution.

FOREMAN (on camera): And no clear outcome at this point.

WITTES: That's right.

FOREMAN (voice-over): The United States has tried many times to broker agreements to ease the region's old conflicts. There was always progress, but never peace. But again, these people physically fought over the land and now the struggle passes to the next generation, there and here.

(on camera): So all of that said as a young American, what do you hope emerges from the new, young leaders in the Middle East?

PARKER: That they're more willing to compromise and, you know, find peaceful solutions.

FOREMAN: That's always been the hope -- peace, stability and benefits for people in and out of the Middle East.

Tom Foreman, CNN, Washington.


HARRIS: Coming up more on the uncertain climate in Israel, what are the prospects for Middle East peace with Ariel Sharon's health in the balance and how will this affect Israel's relationship with the United States? We'll find out. Much more ahead on CNN SATURDAY MORNING.



NGUYEN: Well if you're waking up to a cold morning you are not alone. Even Miami, Bonnie is chilly today.

(WEATHER REPORT) NGUYEN: Yes hopefully it will come soon, though it's not going happen today. So crank up the heat and stay indoors. Tony.

HARRIS: Doctors in Jerusalem plan to hold a briefing on the condition of Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon at 11:00 a.m. Eastern. Sharon's condition combined with the up coming Palestinian elections could cause further turmoil in the Middle East.

How does all of this affect U.S. and Middle East policy and the peace process. Aaron David Miller joins us from Washington to help sort it all out as a former state department advisor. Aaron helped formulate U.S. policy in the Middle East and the peace process. And Aaron good to talk to you this morning.

MILLER: Thanks Tony. Good to be here.

HARRIS: Well let's see how many of these questions we can get to. In your mind do the Palestinian elections move forward regardless of the condition of Sharon?

MILLER: I think the answer to that is yes. There's a down side to holding them because the Hamas is likely to do very well that could create additional uncertainty, but they ought to go forward. If we, the United States, believe in democracy, free and fair elections then they ought to go forward and I suspect they will.

HARRIS: Aaron, what happens if you end up with Palestinian elections that produce a strong Hamas?

MILLER: The question is you will end up with Palestinian elections that will produce a stronger Hamas, roughly between 18 and 30 percent of the votes is what they've been polling. They're likely to do much better. The question is whether Hamas is prepared to give up the gun.

If they believe they can continue to negotiate and participate in a Palestinian authority and still carry out terror and violence against Israelis then it seems to me not only are they going to be in trouble, but so is Mahmoud Abbas and the Palestinian authority.

HARRIS: Yes. Sharon moves off the main stage. Who moves on to that stage? Ehud Olmert is number two. Does he want to be the number one? Does he want to be prime minister?

MILLER: I think the answer is yes. I think there are two key questions that have to be answered and we ought to watch in the next several months before the Israeli elections on March 28th. Number one is can Ehud Olmert demonstrate that he's a forceful, decisive Israeli prime minister during this transition period.

And second, will the party that Sharon created, the Kadima Party which is filled with strong personalities, will they rally behind Mr. Olmert and not fall back on infighting and factional politics? I think those are two key questions, but in truth, Tony, there's not a human being alive that can tell you on March 29th who the prime minister of Israel is going to be. HARRIS: How significant a blow is it for this administration, the Bush administration to have Ariel Sharon to fall into such ill health right now particularly at a time when there is this fight, this global fight on terrorism and also the situation in Iraq. I mean, how difficult is it to have a leader who has been as predictable as Ariel Sharon for this administration to be in such ill health?

MILLER: I think it's a significant setback. It has less to do with the global war on terror. Any Israeli prime minister will continue to be an American ally and likewise for Iraq. The question is this. Sharon drove the train on Israeli-Palestinian issues and he proved to be historic and quite decisive in his disengagement from Gaza.

The question is who or what will follow him? In the absence of a decisive Israeli prime minister what will the policy of the United States be? It may well be that the time for American decisions could be approaching later this year.

HARRIS: And Aaron, who live leads that diplomatic effort for the United States? I understand there are a couple of envoys, U.S. envoys in the area today, but who takes the lead role? Is this something for Condoleezza Rice?

MILLER: Secretaries of state normally do this empowered by the president or a special envoy. It seems to me that's the key question. The administration has to decide whether or not this issue is a top priority and the president needs to empower an envoy in order to implement his policy.

HARRIS: Aaron David Miller thanks for your time this morning, we appreciate it. Great insights.

MILLER: You're welcome. Thanks.

NGUYEN: Insurgents, elections, bombings and democracies, we hear a lot of what is happening in Iraq, but what's happening on the ground and in the country. Two U.S. senators on a fact-finding tour in Iraq check in with us. We have that live interview coming up in the 10:00 Eastern hour, but first --

HARRIS: Today's e-mail question centers on the tragedy that unfolded this week in West Virginia. It's simple. What should have been done differently, if anything? That's our address. Back after this.


NGUYEN: From gadgets at the show in Las Vegas to wacky warning labels that make you go what? Veronica De La Cruz joins us now from the desk to tell us what people are clicking on this morning. Everything's wacky.

VERONICA DE LA CRUZ, CNN.COM DESK: Everything is wacky, especially at the International Consumer Electronics Show. We're going to get to those gadgets in a second. NGUYEN: That's cool stuff there.

CRUZ: Yes. But people are also interested in news about a certain teen idol.

NGUYEN: Lindsay? Is that her first name?

CRUZ: Don't give it away.

People are definitely excited about what's happening at the International Consumer and Electronics Show. We're going to take a look at some of these quirky gadgets. Everything from this Lego slot machine that we're looking at to a Robo reptile that is automated and senses his own environment to, get, this Betty, the entertainer. Yes.

How the entertainer actually works is it's a remote control that you strap close to your heart. The device is attached to or is -- yes, it is attached to the TV set. If you keep your heart rate up with the entertainer, the volume on the TV set stays the same, but the second it starts to drop the volume goes down.

NGUYEN: That's a good idea.

CRUZ: The volume goes down. How's that for motivation.

NGUYEN: Here's how you fix it. Press caption. You can outsmart that thing.

CRUZ: From quirky, cool gadgets. We now move on to some wacky product warning labels. This one we're looking at is a heat gun that removes paint, which might heat up to about 1,000 degrees, right? On it the warning label reads, do not use as a hair drier.

NGUYEN: A good piece of warning.

CRUZ: Did that thought ever cross my mind? Another wacky warning label comes with a set of knives that warns you to never try to catch a falling knife. You never know.

NGUYEN: They have a firm grip on the obvious. Yes, they do.

CRUZ: There you go. Like you just mentioned users interested in watching the latest news which features teen idol Lindsay Lohan and it seams that she's admitted to having an eating order and dabbling in drugs. In an interview with "Vanity Fair Magazine." Now the teen star she's best known for her work in the "Parent Trap" and "Herbie Fully Loaded" and she's also a pop singer. Look how small she is there. She's pretty much grown up on screen and -- right?

NGUYEN: A lot of pressure. You know, it's Hollywood.

CRUZ: But it scarce me, if you think about it. She was voted the most influential teen by teen people in 2005 after Ashton Kutcher and she's a role model to young women. I mean, look at the size of her. I would hate to think that young women think they have to look like that.

NGUYEN: Well, maybe. If these confessions are indeed true, then there's a lot to be learned from it.

CRUZ: It's not just her; think of Nicole Richie or Paris Hilton. Come on girls start eating. Start eating.

NGUYEN: Unless your New Year's resolution is to step back from the table a little bit.

CRUZ: All right it is all available on line at

HARRIS: Hillary Duff lately?

NGUYEN: She's a little tiny thing, too.

HARRIS: Rail thin.

NGUYEN: What is it 98 pounds?

HARRIS: The Steve Martin movie.

NGUYEN: "Cheaper By the Dozen 2."

CRUZ: That should be their New Year's resolution. Start eating.

NGUYEN: I eat too much. That's my problem. Thank you, Veronica; we'll talk to you shortly.

HARRIS: All morning long we've been asking for your thoughts in our email question. What could have been done differently at the Sago Mine, if anything?

Cheryl writes, "I would hope with all of our 21st century technology we could find a way to ensure miners could be found quickly. Perhaps they could all carry GPS locators or at the very least the crew chief and then the rescuers could pinpoint their location." Thanks Cheryl.

NGUYEN: Debbie from New Jersey writes, "I feel if the governor and/or the CEO of the company had stopped the celebration until they could confirm what was really happening rather than waiting three hours before telling the families quote, there was there an error and it would not have been so devastating to the world."

Of course, we want to get your thoughts throughout the morning. Here's the question one more time. What could have been done differently at the Sago Mine, if anything? Let us know what you think about this. E-mail us at

"OPEN HOUSE" with Gerri Willis is just straight ahead. Tips on home decor for 2006 and financial resolutions for the New Year.

HARRIS: Need those. Next hour, the battle of the bulge for the entire U.S. population be overweight by 2040? Our guest at 10:0 a.m. Eastern thinks so unless we change our wicked ways, the ways we eat. His tips to beat the bulk. Straight ahead, we'll be right back.


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The cost? One to six million dollars per condo. If you can't afford to buy, renting is an option, too, but competition is on the horizon. The Magellan, an 800-foot luxury liner is expected to complete construction in about two years.

Amenities include an observatory a retractable marina, a heliport with two on-call helicopters and an aqua spa and a mini hospital. Its destination 150 countries and 300 ports of call. Two ways to reside on the ship. You could purchase a condo or buy fractional ownership, which start starts at $156,000 a month. But don't confuse this with timesharing.

RANDALL B. JACKSON, CEO, RESIDENTIAL CRUISE LINE: Lets say that you purchased one month, the month of December, you own that month for the next 100 years.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Also venturing to set sail for 2008 a 964- foot ship named the Orpha Lee. This adventure ship provides options to purchase or rather a traditional way as a cruise passenger.




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