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AMERICAN MORNING

Will Iran Close Its Doors to Nuclear Inspectors?; A Brutal Attack Caught on Tape

Aired January 13, 2006 - 08:00   ET

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


MILES O'BRIEN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Good morning.
I'm Miles O'Brien.

Will Iran close its doors to nuclear inspectors? World leaders, including those at the White House, watching closely. We're live on this story.

CAROL COSTELLO, CNN ANCHOR: I'm Carol Costello in for Soledad.

A brutal, senseless attack caught on tape. Men with baseball bats beating the homeless. More on this ahead.

M. O'BRIEN: Meantime, President Bush back in Katrina country with a message of hope. But some residents have a message of their own. We're live in New Orleans.

And bracing for severe weather across the Southeast. It could get nasty. We're on the tornado watch on this AMERICAN MORNING.

COSTELLO: And a happy Friday to you.

It is so strangely warm in New York. It's 41 degrees right now. But what's it going to -- what's the high going to be today, in the 50s? And it's January.

M. O'BRIEN: Flip-flop weather in January.

We've got some news to get to and we'll talk to Chad in just a moment about some wild weather in the Southeast, as well.

But we begin in Florida. A disturbing series of attacks targeting homeless, one of them fatal. And one of those brutal beatings caught on videotape.

CNN's John Zarrella in Miami -- John, give us the latest on this investigation.

JOHN ZARRELLA, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Miles, there's just no explanation for what transpired in the overnight hours Thursday, very early morning Thursday. Police are looking for -- don't have them yet -- two to four young men who brutally attacked three homeless men in very close proximity to one another. One of those beatings, this one you see here, captured on a surveillance camera at a university in Fort Lauderdale. This man, fortunately, survived his attack. A second man found at a church nearby also survived his attack. But a third man, 44-year-old Norris Gaynor, his body was found on a park bench by a man who said he was one of Gaynor's friends.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He was on the bench. He was slumped over and all you seen was a pool of blood, you know, and just sitting there. No one was around.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ZARRELLA: Now, police say that they do have leads. They do hope to make, obviously, make arrests in this case. And they do believe that all three of these cases, Miles, are linked. It's pretty clear that that's the way police are going with this, although there is no real hard evidence at this point to show that all three are linked.

But, police say, it does appear pretty clear -- Miles.

M. O'BRIEN: Hard to imagine a more vulnerable generally. We're talking about people sleeping on the street. Obviously they're concerned.

Are police doing anything? Are shelters doing anything to help the homeless right now?

ZARRELLA: Yes, they are. In fact, a very urgent appeal went out last night. Homeless advocates went under interstate bridges in the Fort Lauderdale -- Interstate 95 bridges in Fort Lauderdale with flashlights, urging the homeless to get off the streets, to get into shelters. Police went through the neighborhood showing pictures of the two men that we saw on that surveillance tape and also trying to get the word out to get the homeless off the street last night just in case these men come back -- Miles.

M. O'BRIEN: CNN's John Zarrella in Miami.

Thank you very much, John -- Carol.

COSTELLO: To Washington now and talk of Iran and the growing stand-off with the world. France, Germany, Britain, the United States all Fed up with Iran for allegedly resuming a nuclear research program. The Europeans are referring Iran to the U.N. Security Council now. And the United States is backing them up.

Iran says if they do that, it's going to block all surprise inspections of its nuclear facilities.

Elaine Quijano live at the White House now -- Elaine, when do we expect the president to weigh in on this?

ELAINE QUIJANO, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Good morning to you, Carol.

Well, Iran is certain to be a main topic of discussion when President Bush sits down later this morning with Germany's new chancellor, Angela Merkel. Now, Chancellor Merkel is the first woman to hold that position in her country, as well as the first chancellor to grow up in what was communist East Germany.

Their meeting comes at a time when Britain, France and Germany, as you mentioned, the so-called E.U.3 countries, have signaled that their talks with Iran have reached a dead-end. They have recommended that Iran be referred to the U.N. Security Council, particularly after Iran took steps this week to resume uranium enrichment in violation of international agreement.

Now, yesterday, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said the U.S. strongly supports the E.U.3 and said the Iranian government has chosen confrontation over negotiation.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

CONDOLEEZZA RICE, NATIONAL SECURITY ADVISER: The government of President Ahmadinejad has done nothing but confront the international system ever since he came into power, confront the international system in their behavior on the nuclear issue, confront the international system with outrageous statements that I don't think have been made in polite company in many, many, many years.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

QUIJANO: Now, Iran insists that it has a right to continue with its nuclear program and insists that its research is being carried out for peaceful purposes. Nevertheless, European leaders clearly banding together, along with the United States, to send the message to Iran that its behavior is not acceptable -- Carol.

COSTELLO: Elaine Quijano live at the White House this morning.

Thank you.

We're going to hear more about this controversy during a news conference with President Bush and the German chancellor later this morning.

That comes your way at 11:25 Eastern right here on CNN.

M. O'BRIEN: Eighteen hours, 700 questions and no serious red flags. Judge Samuel Alito is done with the Senate Judiciary Committee. He seems to be well on his way to a seat on the Supreme Court.

AMERICAN MORNING'S Bob Franken has been watching this all week for us -- Bob, It seems as if all that early talk about filibusters and all that has gone completely by the boards.

BOB FRANKEN, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Pretty much so. The hearing room is empty right now, but we will witness the hearings wind down with a bunch of panels of experts for and against Samuel Alito. After the Democrats tried repeatedly and failed to score some points against Samuel Alito, questioning him hard, trying to pin him down, and failing, on matters of abortion, presidential power, some of his personal matters in association with a club that virulently opposed diversity on the Princeton campus and other questions about some financial dealings he had.

They were not able to score at all. There is every indication that the Democrats will delay the vote next Tuesday, that the chairman of the committee, Arlen Specter wants, to get this out of committee. They'll delay it using the parliamentary permission they have to put things over for a week.

Little chance that they're going to filibuster because the political risks outweigh the possibilities that they could successfully block Alito.

In fact, the president called from Air Force One last night. This was after a week, by the way, where Mrs. Alito sort of turned the tide after the Democrats were hammering at her husband. She turned the tide by leaving the room in tears, causing quite a bit of feeling that the Democrats were being a bit too aggressive.

Anyway, President Bush called from Air Force One last night to give the airborne version of a high five to Samuel Alito. And, Miles, there is no truth to the rumor that Oprah Winfrey called Mrs. Alito.

M. O'BRIEN: Let's -- just a few thoughts on Mrs. Alito.

She has not spoken to reporters since she broke down.

Do we expect to hear from her once the dust settles?

FRANKEN: I wouldn't think so, unless somebody lands the interview. I suspect that bookers all over the country will be scrambling to try and do that. But she has been the quiet wife sitting in the background. And, as I say, spoke volumes when she left the room in tears.

M. O'BRIEN: And I don't expect she'll be the type to go jump the couch with Oprah.

Thank you very much, Bob Franken.

Let's check some headlines now.

Kelly Wallace in with that -- good morning, Kelly.

KELLY WALLACE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Good morning, Miles.

And we are beginning in Iraq. We are hearing that a U.S. military helicopter has gone down in the northern part of the country. The wreckage was apparently found near a group of mud huts in Mosul. The crew apparently had been trying to help a group of Iraqi police who came under fire. Military officials say two pilots are seriously injured. So far it's not clear if the helicopter was shot down.

Doctors are carrying out a new round of tests on Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon today. Things apparently not looking as good as had been hoped. According to some Israeli media reports, doctors are saying they're very worried that the prime minister is not easing out of his medically induced coma and were hoping he'd be awake by now.

A member of the Kennedy clan in prison for murder is going to stay there for years to come. A source who has been close to the case for many years says Connecticut's Supreme Court rejected an appeal from Michael Skakel. He was convicted back in 2002 for the 1975 bludgeoning death of his neighbor, Martha Moxley. Both were 15 at the time. Skakel's attorney had argued that prosecutors waited too long to bring him to trial. The official ruling is expected today.

San Francisco police say a device found in a Starbucks bathroom was not a bomb after all. The coffee shop was evacuated earlier this week, after an employee found what looked like a homemade bomb in the bathroom. It turned out there was no explosive material in it. Police say a man who was arrested on unrelated charges has admitted to planting the device and he's executed in court today.

And in Oklahoma, hundreds of homes are being evacuated ahead of fast moving wildfires. High winds are driving fires in south-central Oklahoma. More than 30,000 acres have burned there since Thursday. There are no reports of injuries, but dozens of homes have been destroyed -- Chad, are they going to get any help from the weather today to fight those fires?

CHAD MYERS, CNN METEOROLOGIST: Not really. The wind behind the cold front actually picking up. In a different direction, but picking up a little bit. The cold front pushing the storms into the Southeast, Birmingham, Atlanta, all the way up to Nashville now this morning.

That whole area will blow through Atlanta and even forecasting some power outages through the Atlanta metro area tomorrow, is the National Weather Service, because of wind there maybe gusting to 40 miles per hour, the same wind that's gusting in Oklahoma.

(WEATHER REPORT)

M. O'BRIEN: Coming up, President Bush says he's seeing some big improvements in New Orleans since Katrina hit. But how much of New Orleans did he really see and how much does it jive with reality? We have a reality check for you.

COSTELLO: Also, a baby boy saved after a carjacker stole the SUV he was in. His family's cell phone company could have helped find him earlier, but refused to help. That's ahead.

M. O'BRIEN: And Soledad's off. But we'll bring her back through the magic of videotape. She talks to a Golden Globe nominee. Terrence Howard is his name. Find out why he tried to turn down the role that landed him the nomination.

That's ahead on AMERICAN MORNING.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

M. O'BRIEN: President Bush arriving in New Orleans yesterday, his ninth visit since hurricane Katrina struck. He spent some time in New Orleans and went on his way to Mississippi, touring the Katrina ravaged parts of that state, as well.

While he was in New Orleans, he offered a rather sanguine view of how things are going there.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: New Orleans is reminding me of the city I used to come to visit. It's a heck of a place to bring your family. It's a great place to find some of the greatest food in the world and some wonderful fun.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

M. O'BRIEN: All that may be true, but does it really reflect what's going on in the City of New Orleans?

Ed Reams is a reporter for WDSU in New Orleans. You know him. He was the one who was inside the Superdome, as a matter of fact, immediately post-Katrina. And we've talked to you all throughout this, Ed.

I'm curious, that kind of rhetoric, how that falls on New Orleanian ears.

ED REAMS, WDSU-TV REPORTER: Well, Miles, when you talk about the president saying that he's seeing pretty dramatic change, it's hard for people who are not back in their homes to think anything is pretty dramatic down here, other than the fact that they're not back in their homes.

A lot of people still just trying to get back into the city, trying to figure out exactly what's going on with insurance, trying to figure out what's going on with any kind of grants, just trying to figure out the master plan of the city.

Right now people are not getting a lot of answers. So when they hear the president saying that he's seen a pretty dramatic change, a lot of folks who want to come back here and that are here right now just don't see it that way.

M. O'BRIEN: I wonder, as we look -- you probably can't see it right now, but we're seeing some shots of neighborhoods as you speak there, just kind of drive-bys. The president didn't really see that yesterday, did he?

REAMS: No, he came in straight from the airport, drove in. He was supposed to take Marine One, but because of so much fog in the area he drove in. But it was along the interstate and from the airport to the convention center, it looks pretty good. There are areas that didn't really flood or had minimal flooding. The hard hit areas are places that the president would not have passed, places that are still struggling just to try to figure out what the future of that particular neighborhood is going to be.

So the president did not see with his own eyes these particular areas. And we simply just are not seeing the kind of movement that a lot of people would like to see.

M. O'BRIEN: I wonder if this could add to the frustration there. Let's, of course, we saw this week the rollout of this rebuild plan. As you know, very controversial. Not very many people happy about it. As a matter of fact, let's listen to just a few of the people who reacted to it as it was brought forward just a couple of days ago.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes, I'm angry. I'm quite angry. I have reason to be angry and I want something done about it.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We're in the mud. We're cleaning out our homes and all we're asking for is a little help and a little support. If you can't give us direction, get the hell out of the way.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

M. O'BRIEN: Is the president weighing in enough, providing the direction, the focus and the clear statements that people in New Orleans really thirst for?

REAMS: Well, Miles, you know, the president has said that he thinks that our area, the New Orleans area, should develop the plan for recovery. He wants to be the one that offers the resources, the money to do so. But the president has said all along that he doesn't want to be the person, or the administration doesn't want to be in the position of dictating what should happen in this particular area.

The president has been very hands off when it comes to what the plan should be. So he's trying to step back and at least try to be supportive as far as federal dollars are concerned, trying to get those monies here to not only rebuild the levees to pre-Katrina standards, but also bigger and stronger than they've ever been before.

The president has stayed away, though, from trying to dictate what this area should as far as the comeback.

M. O'BRIEN: But here's the one thing that a lot of people would like to hear that they haven't heard just yet. Bigger and stronger is good. The billions that have been appropriated, good. Category five protection is what a lot of people are wanting to hear, a clear statement from the federal government that this will or will not happen.

It hasn't happened yet, ahs it?

REAMS: No, and, you know, we have four-and-a-half months until the beginning of the next hurricane season. Obviously, even just the work to prepare what was damaged during Katrina, it's going to be a stretch to get that done.

So a lot of people still fearful in this area, Miles, just trying to decide whether to comeback and invest thousands and thousands of dollars just to try to get their homes back up and running when another hurricane could simply come our way. I mean we're talking category five protection would be decades down the road.

M. O'BRIEN: Give me -- the president was trying to be helpful and we all want to be helpful post-Katrina.

What are the -- do you see much glimmer of optimism right now?

REAMS: As far as the residents here?

M. O'BRIEN: Yes, just in general for the city.

What's happening now that is giving people some encouragement?

REAMS: Well, I mean, it really depends on who you ask. If you talk about optimism as far as the people who had minimal damage and are seeing their neighborhoods starting to come back, yes, they're going to be optimistic.

But as far as the people who lost everything, people in the Lower 9th Ward, people in Lakeview, people in Midcity and other parts of the area that saw total -- much of the devastation, they're not seeing much progress. And when you talk about optimism, I just don't see it right now. People are trying to get short-term relief and people are talking about long-term goals. And when they're not getting that short-term relief, people get frustrated. Their nerves are rubbed raw after four-and-a-half months of dealing with this kind of thing. There's not much optimism for them right now.

M. O'BRIEN: All right, good insights.

Ed Reams, always a pleasure talking to u.

Thanks very much.

REAMS: Thank you.

You bet.

M. O'BRIEN: Ed Reams does great reporting out of New Orleans for our affiliate, WDSU.

Ahead on AMERICAN MORNING, Soledad will talk to Golden Globe nominee Terrence Howard, star of two of last summer's most talked about movies.

Stay with us.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO TAPE)

SOLEDAD O'BRIEN, CNN ANCHOR: Actor Terrence Howard is on a tear. Great reviews for his work in "Crash" and up for a Golden Globe for his role in "Hustle and Flow."

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP FROM "HUSTLE AND FLOW," COURTESY PARAMOUNT PICTURES)

TERRENCE HOWARD, ACTOR: Hey, do me a favor. Come and put your hands right here, both of them. Now I'm putting mine here, too. You know what this means?

UNIDENTIFIED ACTOR: What?

HOWARD: It means we in charge. It means we've got our hands on the wheel. We in charge, not them tricks out there of mine. We in charge.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

S. O'BRIEN: Terrence Howard, good morning.

Nice to see you.

HOWARD: Good to see you.

S. O'BRIEN: Powerful stuff. Wow!

You've had a great year.

HOWARD: It's been a brilliant year, a brilliant year.

S. O'BRIEN: I think sometimes for actors, everyone's like look, an overnight success. And it hasn't been overnight for u.

HOWARD: It's been 20 years...

S. O'BRIEN: How long have you been...

HOWARD: I've been acting since I was 16. I'm 36.

S. O'BRIEN: Twenty? How hard has it been?

HOWARD: There were independent projects and I didn't do them because out of the kindness of my heart. I did them because I needed to do some work.

Now, I had no idea that they would turn into what they turned into. I was just an actor trying to pay his mortgage.

S. O'BRIEN: As you are well aware, many of the roles that are offered to black actors are the role of pimp, the role of rapper, the role -- I mean I don't have to tell you all this.

So what is it like to get a script and there you are, you're playing the pimp?

HOWARD: When they first offered it to me -- I had just finished doing "Hart's War." It was just coming out. And I played a Tuskegee airman. But the movie, after $100, had failed badly. And even though I wasn't the lead in it, I was third lead, but I still bared some of the responsibility for it. And the first project that somebody comes to me with is hey, I've got a great project for you and it'll change your life, you know? It's to play a pimp who sells weed who ends up shooting somebody...

S. O'BRIEN: Wants to be a rapper.

HOWARD: ... and wants to be a rapper. And I literally said -- that's when I really thought, man, I should go kill myself. This is over. My whole career is done. This is -- and I refused to read the script for seven or eight months. And the director finally cornered me inside of the Chateau Marmont and he said just promise me, just read one paragraph, any paragraph in the script, and if you find a falsehood in it, then you never have to talk to me again. Because he said what I'm trying to do is assassinate the stereotype.

S. O'BRIEN: And did you read one paragraph?

HOWARD: I read the very opening monologue, man ain't like a dog. And the next thing I know, the script was finished and it took me two weeks to get him on the phone, because I wanted to make sure -- it was like I want to do this project. And this man had so much integrity, so much integrity. Because the studios offered him $10 million to do the movie if they had put a rapper in my place and if they would turn it into a comedy, a blaxploitative movie.

S. O'BRIEN: Wait, a comedy -- a hustler blows the comedy.

HOWARD: And he said no, I'm doing this film with Terrence Howard or I'm not doing it at all. And he said that for three years. So I didn't mind making $12,000 on it, because it was accomplishing Craig Brewer's dream, who did an amazing, amazing job with that.

S. O'BRIEN: And now, the Golden Globes.

HOWARD: The Golden Globes.

S. O'BRIEN: We've got our fingers crossed for you.

HOWARD: Yes.

S. O'BRIEN: We hope you win.

HOWARD: Yes.

S. O'BRIEN: Terrence Howard in "Hustle and Flow" and "Crash."

If you haven't seen them yet, you've got to go out and see them right away.

Nice to see you.

Thanks for coming in.

HOWARD: You, too.

Thank you. S. O'BRIEN: Best of luck to you.

What a pleasure to meet you.

HOWARD: Thank you.

(END VIDEO TAPE)

M. O'BRIEN: He seems like a nice guy.

Thank you, Soledad.

The Golden Globes will be held on Monday. We'll have a viewers guide for you, The Road To Gold, here on AMERICAN MORNING.

Coming up, our new you resolution. We met the participants. We know what they've got to do to get in shape. But what happens when they meet their trainers for the first time? The whip starts cracking.

Dr. Sanjay Gupta will keep them in line, as he has a 100 percent success rate, and he's determined to keep it.

Ahead on this AMERICAN MORNING.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

COSTELLO: Happy Friday.

We finally made it.

M. O'BRIEN: It's not over yet. It's Friday the 13th. Hopefully none of these lights will be dropping upon us.

Here's a wild story. You've heard about these cell phones with GPS. A lot of parents are getting them for their kids, myself among them, with the notion that if something ever happened bad, you could find your child.

COSTELLO: You would think so.

M. O'BRIEN: That is the theory, right?

COSTELLO: Yes.

M. O'BRIEN: Well, one couple had a horrifying accident, a situation occurred to them. Their car is carjacked. Their baby is in the back of the car. Inside the car is the phone with the GPS.

COSTELLO: And you say thank goodness, now we can track them...

M. O'BRIEN: They can track them.

COSTELLO: Right.

M. O'BRIEN: Well, there is a catch. It's almost FEMA-like, the kind of response they got from Sprint.

So we'll talk to the family and we'll talk to a spokesperson for Sprint, who says a lot of this is the way the laws are written.

COSTELLO: Yes.

M. O'BRIEN: We'll get into that.

COSTELLO: It's bureaucracy.

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

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