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CNN SUNDAY MORNING

Violence in Iraq Escalates; Winter Olympics Come to a Close

Aired February 26, 2006 - 07:00   ET

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


TONY HARRIS, CNN ANCHOR: And good morning, everyone.
"Now in the News," in Iraq, explosions continue to reverberate through the country despite extended curfews. Five hours ago, in Hilla, the city's main bus station was bombed, injuring five people. Sunni and Shia mosques have been stormed or bombed in Baghdad and two U.S. soldiers have been killed by a roadside IED in western Baghdad.

Two security guards who helped prevent Friday's attempted bombing of a Saudi oil processing complex have died. The confirmation comes from the Saudi interior ministry. The guards died yesterday at a nearby hospital. A Saudi al Qaeda group has claimed responsibility for the attempted bombing.

In Tehran, scenes from Friday are being repeated today. Iranians are burning flags in front of the British Embassy, protesting Wednesday's bombing at a Shiite mosque in Iraq. Iran is accusing Western nations of organizing the attack as an attempt to spark an Iraqi civil war between Shia and Sunni Muslims.

BETTY NGUYEN, CNN ANCHOR: We want to continue to monitor a developing situation outside of Kabul, Afghanistan, where a riot has erupted at a notorious prison there. Afghan police have surrounded the high security complex built back in the era of Soviet occupation. Now, a recent U.N. inspection of the facility called for the release of prisoners, noting the conditions violate every standard of human rights.

The winter Olympic games wrap up today in Torino, Italy, so many fans are picking up souvenirs. Hockey and cross-country skiing are the two final contests. The U.S. ranks second in the medal count with 25. The closing ceremony includes a carnival theme and the promise of a surprise sports celebrity -- are you guessing who it is -- who will be extinguishing the Olympic flame.

Well, there is some sad news out of Hollywood this morning. According to The Associated Press, tough-talking television and film actor Darren McGavin has died. Some of his small screen credits include "Kolchak: The Night Stalker" and "Riverboat," but he may be best remembered for his fatherly role in the 1980s comedy "A Christmas Story."

Remember that?

HARRIS: Yes. That's a good one.

NGUYEN: McGavin was 83 years old.

And actor Don Knotts has also died. The 81-year-old known my millions as deputy Barney Fife passed away Friday night at a Los Angeles hospital. He was surrounded by family and a long-time friend, actor Andy Griffith.

Be sure to tune in tonight for a special encore presentation of "LARRY KING LIVE," "A Mayberry Reunion with Don Knotts and Andy Griffith." That's tonight, 9:00 Eastern, right here on CNN.

From the CNN Center in Atlanta, this is CNN SUNDAY MORNING.

Good morning. Last day of the weekend.

HARRIS: That's right.

NGUYEN: Getting ready to go back to work, everybody, but we're going to get you informed before do you.

I'm Betty Nguyen.

HARRIS: And I'm Tony Harris. Good morning, everyone. Thanks for starting your day with us.

Coming up in the next three hours of CNN SUNDAY MORNING, the games subside and the gala pumps up. The 20th winter Olympics come to a close. And Alpine skiing aside, the U.S. has some gold to cheer about. Just not as much as I think you wanted or were hoping for.

We'll take you live to Torino.

Plus, spring-breakers are trading their drinking and partying to spend their vacation rebuilding rooftops and getting dirty. Find out about this alternative spring break.

Then at 9:30 Eastern, remembering the New Orleans that was and wondering if it will ever be the same again.

NGUYEN: Topping our news this morning, the prospect of an Iraqi civil war looms larger, with the level of violence escalating between Shia and Sunni Muslims. Mosques from both denominations have been attacked today. And while you slept, there have been numerous roadside explosions and a bus station bombed. All of this happened during Iraq's extended civilian curfew.

Let's go now to CNN's Aneesh Raman, live in Baghdad with the latest on this.

All of this happened under curfew -- Aneesh.

ANEESH RAMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Betty, the curfew that we're in, this 34-hour extraordinary curfew, only in the capital. There's regular curfews throughout the country. But we've this morning from an important voice. That of Shia cleric Muqtada al-Sadr.

He just arrived in Iraq after travels abroad in the southern Shia city of Basra. There, speaking to crowds, he called for unity, something we've heard from other Shia leaders, but not necessarily for calm. He's called for further demonstrations after Wednesday's attack on the Askariyah mosque to take place this week.

Now, Muqtada al-Sadr also had some fiery rhetoric for the United States. He calls them the occupying force. He blames a lot of the issues that Iraq faces as being routed in the initial invasion.

But again, an important call for calm there that comes on the heels of an important political meeting that took place in the capital last evening at the invitation of the prime minister. All of the major political leaders met, the Sunni, the Shia and the Kurds. They talked about how they can begin talks on the unity government, which, of course, in the mind of U.S. officials is the only political end game to bring stability to Iraq. No concrete announcements coming out of that meeting, but the photo op of all of them sitting there is clearly meant to resonate with the Iraqi people that they are trying to find common ground.

Now, the big issue that the country faces is whether those calls among the leaders will be heeded by the Iraqi people. That said, the violence in the country did continues in Basra, in the southern Shia city. An explosion took place near a Shia mosque there shortly before Muqtada al-Sadr gave his speech.

At least two people were wounded. You see the video, the aftermath there.

Also south of the capital, in the city of Hilla, a car bomb exploding at a bus station. At least five people have been wounded. Those are the initial casualty numbers we have.

So, the big question now is, tomorrow, if they do lift this curfew in the capital, will the demonstrations continue or will the relative calm we've seen over the past few days that has been enforced continue even with the curfew lifted -- Betty.

NGUYEN: Yes. We'll have to watch and see for that.

Also want to talk about President Bush. He has reached out to some of the religious leaders there in Iraq. Tell us about that.

RAMAN: Yes, he's called virtually every leader. When you talk about the Sunnis, he's called them. The Shia he's called, both the religious and the political leaders. When you talk about the Kurds, he's called the Iraqi president, Jalal Talabani. As well is the president of the National Assembly in Kurdistan, Masoud Barzani.

It shows you how much is at stake for the United States government in terms of forming a unity government here as a prevention for civil war and civil strife. The U.S. ambassador to Iraq, Zalmay Khalilzad, has been feverishly been talking to leaders ever since Wednesday morning's attack. They are well aware that everything that the U.S. has invested here and the climate for the U.S. troops that remain here is being tested by these days of violence and proceeded today and the days to come -- Betty. NGUYEN: All right. CNN's Aneesh Raman.

We'll be checking in with you throughout the morning.

Thank you, Aneesh.

HARRIS: And turning now to the discovery of a suspicious powder inside a dorm at the University of Texas, officials say it is now looking increasingly unlikely that it is the deadly poison ricin.

CNN's Ed Lavandera has more details from Austin.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

ED LAVANDERA, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice over): Hazardous material teams removed coin slots from a washer and dryer inside the laundry room of this dormitory on the University of Texas campus in Austin. Thursday afternoon, a female student discovered a powdery substance in her roll of quarters as she started washing clothes.

Friday night, one of the preliminary tests on the substance the powder suggested the powder was the deadly toxin ricin. Within hours, almost 400 students were evacuated from their rooms.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: About 11:00, they came by our doors, and they knocked on them and they told us that there was the police and a health adviser and they wanted to speak to us in the auditorium.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And did they tell you how many students may have been contacted or may have contacted this stuff?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes, they told us that it was just the girl and her roommate, and they decontaminated everything that she had touched and she had been around, and that there was no need to worry, but if there were symptoms just to give them a call.

LAVANDERA: The discovery launched an intense investigation, which included the FBI and the Joint Terrorism Task Force. At this point, federal officials say there is no link to terrorism.

The student holding the roll of quarters and her roommate have been evaluated, and officials say they've shown no symptoms of being exposed to the ricin poison. And medical investigators in Austin say it does not appear that the substance discovered is ricin.

COMMANDER MIKE ELLIOTT, TRAVIS COUNTY EMERGENCY SERVICES: We had one, you know, presumptive test that came back positive out of three, and so the likelihood of it actually being ricin in this situation is extremely unlikely.

LAVANDERA: Students are being allowed back into the dorm. Only the laundry and the student's room where the roll of quarters was kept are still off limits. There are several theories about what this powdery substance might be. One investigator said it could have come from the bank where the student received the quarters. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Banks and lending institutions use a powdery material to clean the quarters as they get processed through prior to wrapping. You know, think about the number of people who are touching the money and what germs may be passing on. And this is a material that could be cleaning them.

LAVANDERA (on camera): More testing on the powdery substance will be done in Fort Detrick, Maryland, at an Army research center that specializes in testing hazardous materials. But officials say it could take at least a day to get the final results.

Ed Lavandera, CNN, Austin, Texas.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

NGUYEN: In stories "Across America" this morning, a Texas judge declares a mistrial in the murder trial of a mother accused of cutting the arms off her 10-month-old daughter, killing the baby. The jury could not reach a unanimous verdict on the 37-year-old, Dena Schlosser. Now, prosecutors aren't saying if they're going to retry the case.

HARRIS: Orlando, Florida, police made at least a dozen arrests yesterday as Neo-Nazis tried to march through a predominantly black neighborhood. The rally quickly turned into a fistfight -- look at this -- between the Neo-Nazis and counter-demonstrators. Charges range from disorderly conduct to battery on a law enforcement officer.

NGUYEN: And in California, an apparent helicopter flying lessons turned deadly for some students. Look at that crash accident there.

While the instructor suffered severe head injuries, the chopper went down yesterday 25 miles north of Los Angeles. Authorities are uncertain who was at the controls at the time of that crash, which remains under investigation.

HARRIS: And still ahead, promises. Police at ports, will it keep your family safe? That's the question. The deal to sell control of some U.S. ports to a foreign company is still causing controversy, but is there a compromise in sight?

NGUYEN: Plus, religion and faith in this country, it is a hot topic. Adding to the mix? A new religion. A little later, an introduction to Universism. What is it? And what followers believe without faith?

HARRIS: Where's Bonnie Schneider?

BONNIE SCHNEIDER, CNN METEOROLOGIST: I'm right here.

HARRIS: There she is.

Good morning, Bonnie.

SCHNEIDER: Good morning.

(WEATHER REPORT)

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

HARRIS: A congressional showdown over an Arab company managing terminals at key U.S. ports may have been diffused. There's word Republican leaders are working on a compromise that would allow the plan to move forward and at the same time ease the fears of some lawmakers who are worried about security risks.

CNN's White House Correspondent Elaine Quijano explains.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

ELAINE QUIJANO, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT (voice over): After a flurry of weekend activity, word of a possible compromise over the controversial Dubai Ports World deal. CNN has learned that top Republican congressional leaders are crafting a compromise that would allow the transaction to go forward, but only with a 45-day review of national security issues.

A top aide to Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist tells CNN his office is encouraging Dubai Ports World to ask the government's Committee on Foreign Investment which reviewed the deal for the extra investigation. The Republican chairman of the House Homeland Security Committee, Congressman Peter King, telling CNN, "I am hearing from sources close to the negotiations that DP World is agreeable to a 45- day national security investigation. It is a very positive step, but we have to see what the details are. This time Congress should be briefed throughout the process."

Even as discussions were taking place behind the scenes, the criticism continued out in the open.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: There are many reasons why this transaction fails the basic test of common sense with regard to our nation's homeland security.

GOV. BILL RICHARDSON (D), NEW MEXICO: If I were a member of Congress, which I was once, I would vote to block this. I think it's that serious.

QUIJANO: Before the weekend, that's exactly what lawmakers, including some Republicans, had been threatening to do. And President Bush had threatened to veto any such legislation with officials as late as Friday, saying there was no need for an additional review since the deal they argued had been thoroughly vetted.

STEPHEN HADLEY, NATIONAL SECURITY ADVISER: And at the end of the day, no agency indicated that they had a national security problem, and therefore, the company was informed that the administration's process would go no further. So that process is over.

QUIJANO (on camera): Neither the White House nor the company, DP World, will comment on a possible compromise. An official with the Treasury Department which leads the Committee on Foreign Investment would only describe the situation as fluid. Elaine Quijano, CNN, the White House.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

HARRIS: All right. So we want to know what you think about this ports deal situation. Would selling six U.S. ports to the United Arab Emirates weaken U.S. security? That's the question this morning.

E-mail us your thoughts. Let's get the inbox fired up this morning -- weekends@cnn.com. We'll read some of your responses a little later in the program.

NGUYEN: We're going to turn now to some security concerns at one of the nation's busiest airports. A new study suggests carrying out a terrorist attack at Los Angeles International Airport is just too easy. And it is not the first time serious security risks have been spotlighted.

CNN's Ted Rowlands has that report.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

TED ROWLANDS, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice over): Long lines and easy access make Los Angeles International Airport an attractive target for terrorists. That according to the Rand Corporation's latest findings on the airport's security.

MICHAEL WERMUTH, RAND CORPORATION: You could actually cause a lot of fatalities and injuries with a fairly small bomb in a suitcase.

ROWLANDS: The airport is vulnerable, according to the study, because at peak hours, the lines for ticketing, baggage screening and passenger screening are so long that huge groups of travelers are concentrated in small areas.

WERMUTH: A terrorist walking up into a middle of a line, a long line, or a big congregation of people with something in what would appear to be baggage to be checked on an airplane detonating at that point could kill a lot of folks.

ROWLANDS: To fix the problem, which was initially pointed out in 2004 by Rand, the study recommends adding more security personnel. The study also recommends establishing a vehicle checkpoint system.

LAX, the world's fifth busiest passenger airport, has long been considered a target for terrorism. Investigators believe that convicted terrorist Ahmed Rassam was planning a millennium attack on the airport. Rassam was arrested in late 1999 at the Canadian border with bomb-making materials in the trunk of a car.

Since then, according to the Rand report, some improvements in security have been made at LAX but more are recommended.

CHIEF WILLIAM BRATTON, LOS ANGELES POLICE DEPT.: Nice recommendations, but as to their feasibility, you need a balance, need versus reality, versus resources, versus actual benefit. ROWLANDS: Los Angeles Police chief William Bratton has seen the report but is not convinced that spending the money needed to implement those recommendations is worth it. And he does not think that this airport is unsafe.

BRATTON: No, I don't. Los Angeles is probably one of the best policed airports in America, bar none. There's no airport in America that has the level of police visibility and security.

ROWLANDS: Airport officials said they plan to review the Rand findings with the airlines and other stakeholders before making any changes.

Ted Rowlands, CNN, Los Angeles.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

NGUYEN: And you'll want to be sure to stay tuned CNN both day and night for the most reliable news about your security.

HESS: The fiery Shiite leader Muqtada al-Sadr is calling on Muslims to stop fighting against each other and instead unite against the U.S. occupation in Iraq. Today he called on his followers to hold joint prayers at Sunni mosques next Friday, despite a curfew to put a lid on the Muslim-on-Muslim violence.

The violence raged on today. At least five people were wounded when a minibus rigged with explosives detonated inside a bus station in the Shia town of Hilla.

In Basra, an explosion outside a Shia mosque injured several people. And a roadside bomb in Baghdad killed two U.S. soldiers.

And efforts to oust Philippines' president, Gloria Arroyo, press on today. A Marines colonel urged Filipinos to turn out and protect officers implicated in an foiled coup plot. Arroyo declared a state of emergency Friday after she learned of the alleged plot. There have been calls for her to resign in recent weeks over questions about the legitimacy of her reelection.

Man.

NGUYEN: Yes.

Just ahead, as New Orleans celebrates Mardi Gras, we recall the devastating images that stayed in our minds in the days following Hurricane Katrina. Take a look at this.

New Orleans Convention Center then. Now, we're going to take you there today and show you how it's changed.

HARRIS: Plus, we will give you an advanced look at the big stories coming up this week, including the resumption of the Saddam Hussein trial.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK) NGUYEN: Well, there's no levee breach, no, Katrina, Rita or FEMA. Just a real good time.

New Orleans is in the height of Mardi Gras season. This year's Carnivale is a tribute to those who didn't survive the storm. But this festival also bears witness to the overcoming power of the human spirit.

Our Sean Callebs has more on Saturday's big party in The Big Easy.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

SEAN CALLEBS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Think about the way this facility was about a half a year ago. It was the flash point for everything that went wrong.

Well, there are 10,000 people in here again tonight. If you can look back that way and get an idea of some of the guys here in the (INAUDIBLE) parade, it is the largest of all the Mardi Gras parades.

There are 2,200 people here. You can tell these guys are more interested in throwing beads than having their pictures taken.

But to give you an idea, a lot of these people suffered as badly as a lot of families in the New Orleans area. About 10 percent of these people lost their homes, lost everything. We talked to them, should there be a Mardi Gras celebration.

The city is spending about $2.7 million in overtime for emergency officials to take care of this, but to a person, everybody we've talked to, they say they understand where a lot of that concern comes from. But people say the city needs to breathe again, needs to live again. And while the party may be scaled down, believe it or not, from years past, you can tell, Carol, people here are just having a great time.

We have some stuff up here that we've been tossing out this evening. It's amazing. You just wing it down there. You think you could do some damage, but these people couldn't be happier. Couldn't be happier.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

NGUYEN: Oh, it looks like it's a good time.

And speaking of good times, yes, they're still out there, up early in the morning. You're looking live at Bourbon Street this morning, where festivities will pick up in about five hours. A lot of people haven't even been to bed just yet. And we're going to bringing you live reports from New Orleans throughout the day.

We'd like to you join us, though, as well, tomorrow morning, 6:00 Eastern, for a Mardi Gras to remember.

Then, at 10:00 p.m. Eastern, CNN's Anderson Cooper takes a sneak peek at Fat Tuesday preparations as Mardi Gras celebrations wind down.

HARRIS: Betty, Bonnie Schneider is here talking about flooding, near-record rainfall amounts almost in Texas?

SCHNEIDER: That's right.

(WEATHER REPORT)

HARRIS: All right, Bonnie. Thank you.

NGUYEN: Well, religion without faith. Can you believe it? One does exist without -- or can one exist without the other? Well, apparently it can because there's one that we're going to be talking about.

HARRIS: We're going to talk about it, yes. Yes. Catholicism, Judaism, Buddhism, these are just some of the religions practiced around the world. And now you can add one more, Universism.

We'll tell you what the new religion is all about when we start the next half hour of CNN SUNDAY MORNING.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

HARRIS: And good morning, everyone. Headlines now in the news. Across Iraq, Muslim on Muslim violence rages on, despite heightened security in Baghdad. A rocket landed on homes near a Sunni mosque. Police say at least four people are dead. In Basra, an explosion outside a Shiite mosque wounded two civilians. Also today, two U.S. soldiers were killed by a roadside bomb in western Baghdad. A daytime curfew to help calm the violence in Baghdad and surrounding areas is now in its third day. It was supposed to be lifted yesterday, but was extended because of ongoing civil strive. It's designed to prevent people from gathering and providing targets for suicide attackers and gunmen.

NGUYEN: Signs of a compromise over the U.S. port controversy. Republican lawmakers are shaping a deal that would allow an Arab-based company to run six major U.S. ports. Sources tell CNN the deal would first have to undergo a 45-day investigation of national security issues.

Two security guards who helped prevent Friday's attempted suicide bombings at a Saudi oil complex have died from their injuries. Two bomb-filled cars got past the first entrance to the plant but before the attackers could go further, they were confronted by guards who opened fire. The vehicles blew up, killing the attackers.

You knew him as the grouchy dad in the 1983 comedy classic "A Christmas Story." Actor Darren McGavin has died according to AP reports. He became one of the busiest actors in television and film, landing starring roles in five television series. McGavin died Saturday at a Los Angeles area hospital with his family at his side. He was 83.

And you also knew him as a bumbling deputy Barney Fife on "The Andy Griffith Show" or the would be swinger landlord Mr. Furley, remember that, from "Three's Company." Well, actor Don Knotts has also died. He was 81. He won five Emmys for playing Barney Fife and tonight you can watch one of Don Knotts' last TV appearances on a special "Larry King Live." It's a rebroadcast of the Mayberry reunion with Andy Griffith. That's tonight at 9:00 Eastern.

HARRIS: You know we call this segment "Faces of Faith," but this morning a religion that wants nothing to do with faith. In fact it avoids words like "faith, dogma" and even "God." It's called Universism. Tom Foreman takes a closer look.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

TOM FOREMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): In the heart of Alabama iron country, where faith runs generations deep, a new religion is being forged, but heaven, hell, even God don't matter much here. Because Universism is all about the inability of anyone to know anything. That's the inspiration of medical student, philosopher, founder Ford Vox.

FORD VOX, FOUNDER, UNIVERSIST MOVEMENT: The idea is that there is no external truth, that there is no objective truth, that we should all strive to adhere to, rather there is an ongoing, continuing search for truth.

FOREMAN: The Universist Web site displays a lengthy manifesto, pages of press coverage, even rings with a flashy hurricane-like logo. The three-year-old group claims 10,000 members, including atheists, agnostics and people who are disillusioned with traditional faith, like Lindsay Tillery.

LINDSAY TILLERY, UNIVERSIST: A religion shouldn't be the rituals you do on Sunday.

FOREMAN: She grew up a strict Southern Baptist but was never comfortable with church doctrine or leaders.

TILLERY: I can't believe that someone else that's a human being that's never spoken with God can be able to tell me what I need to do to get closer to that God, any more than I could tell them.

FOREMAN: By definition and custom, Universism may not really be a religion at all. Consider almost every religion has some deity, a set of rules or even laws.

CHRIS LELAND, FOCUS ON THE FAMILY: And they have normal religious rites and rituals and this really doesn't follow that. It's more of a philosophic, more sort of theologic group than it is actually a religion at least in my mind.

FOREMAN: John Armstrong, a Universist theologian of sorts says it is certainly a religion, just not like others. Are you against established religions?

JOHN ARMSTRONG, UNIVERSIST: We are against faith. We are against the imposition -- FOREMAN: What does that mean "against faith"?

ARMSTRONG: Faith basically we define as letting other people think for you, basically saying here are the established truths that govern this universe and you need to just have faith. In other words, don't question them. You should simply believe them.

FOREMAN: Nothing on faith? No truth trusted? Sounds familiar.

JERRY SEINFELD: So we go in to NBC. We tell them we got an idea for a show about nothing. They say, what's the show about? I say nothing.

There you go.

SEINFELD: I think you may have something here.

FOREMAN: Some call Universism the Seinfeld of religion, no ministers, no real rules, no churches nothing except endless evening talks on politics, life, death, love, all questions, no answers. Some people would say this religion already exists and it's called college.

ARMSTRONG: I'd never thought of it that way before.

FOREMAN: Is it possible? Still, believers like it.

TILLERY: I like the fact that I can go in this group and be an individual. I don't have to pretend like I believe what everyone else believes because that's what you're supposed to believe.

FOREMAN: The Universists know they have a long way to go. Most of the world's great religions are hundreds, in some cases thousands of years old. Who knows? Maybe a lot of them looked like this in the beginning, a diverse group of disaffected souls, heading out into the world with the gospel of uncertainty. Tom Foreman, CNN, Birmingham, Alabama.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

HARRIS: To help us understand more about Universism, we're joined by David Rutland, vice president of the Universist movement. David, good to see you this morning. We've been looking forward to this conversation all week. Thanks for being with us.

DAVID RUTLAND, VP, UNIVERSIST MOVEMENT: I bet you have Tony. Thank you very much.

HARRIS: Hey, I noticed that you may not agree with the "Seinfeld" reference but did you think it was funny.

RUTLAND: Oh, yes. Actually we don't see that as a negative at all. "Seinfeld" was a unique and innovative show that broke the mold and Universism is the same way.

HARRIS: All right. So explain to us why, I really want to understand this. Explain to us why this is a religion. You don't use words like "faith." You don't refer to God.

RUTLAND: Right.

HARRIS: So why is this a religion?

RUTLAND: Well, religion comes from the Latin word religar, which means to bind and in most religions, adherents are bound to certain metaphysical truths and concepts. But in Universism, we're bound to our dedication and devotion to the ongoing search for that truth in our own personal lives.

HARRIS: So is the search for truth more important than finding the truth?

RUTLAND: Well, you know, once you find a truth, then it becomes objectified and solidified and it becomes a dogma basically for people. We feel that every individual has their own interpretation of that truth and that once you find it, you know, you've stopped your search, which is really the best thing that we have going as human beings.

HARRIS: You believe in a creator?

RUTLAND: Some of us do. We don't say that there isn't one. It's based upon what you find true for yourself.

HARRIS: All right.

RUTLAND: There's evidence -- I mean there could be.

HARRIS: Go head.

RUTLAND: Sorry. There's evidence that, some people find evidence that there could be a creator and some people they don't. They just -- it's based upon what you find to be true.

HARRIS: Well, David Rutland, do you believe in a creator?

RUTLAND: I believe, my own personal beliefs are that there is an energy to the universe that at times we may be able to interact with. I don't put a label on it. I don't put a God label on it at all. I think that actually gets in the way a lot of times but again, that's my own personal belief.

HARRIS: Do you believe in Jesus?

RUTLAND: That's a good question, because there's historical evidence for and against. I mean, you can find --

HARRIS: David Rutland, do you believe in Jesus?

RUTLAND: Now, how do you mean that? Do I believe that he existed?

HARRIS: As man or man as divinity?

RUTLAND: I don't believe that any of us can say for sure. You can find examples in Jesus's teachings that speak to you.

HARRIS: You say that, David and it sounds like you don't believe. You know that, right?

RUTLAND: Personally, no. Ultimately, you're trying to nail me down here, Tony? Personally?

HARRIS: So then you don't believe in the resurrection.

RUTLAND: I would have to have evidence myself. I'd have to have my own personal reason and experience would tell me that it was a fact.

HARRIS: You know what, one of the criticisms is that this is nothing more than a speech and debate club. How do you respond to that?

RUTLAND: Oh, yes, well, you know, the endless hours of evening talks and the yada yada yada factor. No. We engage in conversation, of course and debates and the Universism is a very lively and diverse group. I've learned so much through my involvement about all the different philosophies you could say that are under the umbrella of Universism, that we also have volunteerism going on. We engage in political issues that are under the --

HARRIS: Stop there, stop there David.

RUTLAND: Principles ...

HARRIS: Stop there for a second.

RUTLAND: Yes.

HARRIS: Does this religion have a view of the war in Iraq?

RUTLAND: Individuals within our religion would. You know, Tony, you don't have to watch this channel for very long to see what faith is doing to the world and has done for thousands of years. There's a lot of that woven into the war in Iraq, too. You have rhetoric on both sides that are faith-based and people are suffering and dying every day in this world because of faith. It's not like your sweet grandmother's faith. That sounds very nice and everything, but that leads down a very dark path.

HARRIS: OK, David, let's leave it there for now. We will have more discussions on Universism, I'm sure in the days --

RUTLAND: Very good.

HARRIS: Yeah, yeah, down the road. David we appreciate it. Thanks for your time this morning.

RUTLAND: Any time. Thank you very much.

HARRIS: Sure.

RUTLAND: Bye.

NGUYEN: Very interesting. Well, we're going to take a trip now around the world with the help of Danielle Elias. Danielle, what's going on? What are we going to see?

HARRIS: A lot.

DANIELLE ELIAS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes we do have a lot. Well, Betty and Tony, an alleged coup, a state of emergency, and all sorts of rumors in the Philippines. Who is and who isn't supporting the president? The answers aren't exactly clear but one thing is. Political turmoil reigns. We'll have that and much more when we go global, next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

HARRIS: Time go global this morning and first stop the Philippines. A bunch of stuff happening all over the world. Philippines where there's all kinds of political turmoil.

NGUYEN: You have to hear about this. Our Danielle Elias joins us from the international desk with all those details. It's heating up Danielle.

ELIAS: It sure is, Betty. The Philippines as you say remains under a state of emergency. A Philippine officer has called for protests against the removal of the head of the Marines. The Marine chief was relieved of duty after an attempted plot to overthrow President Gloria Arroyo. The Marines are rumored to be one of the groups involved in an alleged coup. Following this, Arroyo declared a state of emergency where rallies and protests have been banned, but thousands of people still marched.

A warning from Mahmoud Abbas. The Palestinian president says he would resign if he feels he no longer has authority when the new Hamas government takes over. Hamas won January's parliamentary election over Abbas' Fatah party. Now Abbas wants the militant group to renounce violence and recognize Israel's right to exist before taking power. Washington and its allies have said they won't deal with Hamas until it does those two things.

Inmates at a high security jail in Afghanistan have rioted. They've seized control of a cell block after forcing the guards out. Afghan officials say the Policharki prison holds al Qaeda and Taliban prisoners. The facility is considered one of the most notorious prisons in Afghanistan. In the 1980s thousands of Afghans who protested communist rule were tortured and killed. Betty.

NGUYEN: All right. Thank you, Danielle.

Well Tony, when you decide your financial long-term future, shall we say.

HARRIS: OK.

NGUYEN: Which do you choose is more important, your retirement or saving for your children's college?

HARRIS: I'm not retiring.

NGUYEN: Never, ever? You're never going to give it up.

HARRIS: Why would I? So what's the other option?

NGUYEN: Your kids' college.

HARRIS: That's it; we'll take care of that.

NGUYEN: All right. We'll see if you're right, because the experts have sorted all of this out.

HARRIS: This is my plan.

NGUYEN: But you got to think about yourself at some point, right?

HARRIS: I know.

NGUYEN: If you don't take care of yourself, how are you going to have the means to take care of your kids?

HARRIS: That's what happens when you have kids.

NGUYEN: We're going to get to the bottom of this and we're going to get some expert advice. We'll see if Tony is right or wrong right after this break. He's probably wrong, though. He usually is.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

HARRIS: All right, here's the deal when talking dollars and cents, the bottom line is, your financial future depends a lot on what you do right now. CNN.com's Melissa Long offers some tips for smart financial planning.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

MELISSA LONG, CNN.COM: Whether you're in your golden years or just celebrating your first job out of college, cnn.com has your guide to long-term financial planning. If you're sandwiched between caring for your kids and parents while still planning for your financial future, experts say that if you have to choose between saving for your retirement or a child's college education, choose retirement.

If you care for your parents, you should organize their financial and medical records and establish a budget for them or maybe it's time for a new career. Young worker will likely change jobs seven to 10 times during their careers and this gallery offers some helpful hints for your search. While you're planning, we want to know about the status of your long-term goals. Send us your thoughts and stories. It's all online at cnn.com/longterm. At the dot com desk, I'm Melissa Long.

(END VIDEOTAPE) NGUYEN: All right Tony. Let's review now, which is the smartest choice, your retirement or your children's education?

HARRIS: In the words of my 8-year-old daughter, whateva! I am working until I drop because --.

NGUYEN: I think you're right in the sense it's your plan.

HARRIS: It's my plan. That's my plan.

NGUYEN: Although experts say save for your retirement.

HARRIS: I don't know from experts.

NGUYEN: That's all I'm saying.

From flooding out west to snow in the northeast, it is tough going for many folks across the country. Look at that, yeah. Talk about tough going.

HARRIS: That's Texas. That's Texas. And what about the south? Bonnie Schneider has your full weather forecast and that is next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

NGUYEN: Tony, it's been raining a lot on the east coast.

HARRIS: Nothing compared to Texas.

NGUYEN: I was going to say, it doesn't even compare to what is happening in Texas especially in Dallas. Bonnie, my mom calls me every day, says it's raining again.

BONNIE SCHNEIDER, AMS METEOROLOGIST: Absolutely and we have that here in Atlanta too, another wet weekend. Things are starting to dry out though. This is the latest picture here from our radar in Dallas, Texas, from Ft. Worth, nice and dry at this hour, but watch out for saturated roads. We had well over two inches of rain yesterday and in a drought-stricken area, it's good to get the rain but not so much so soon and that's why we saw the flooding unfortunately for a good portion of Texas.

Now speaking of flooding and fast-moving rain, look what's happening in Florida right now. Heavy, strong thunderstorms are working their way across south Florida at this hour, Ft. Myers getting hammered. These storms do have dangerous lightning and very gusty winds associated, so stay inside until the storm passes. Now as we look to the south, we're also looking at temperatures that are pretty chilly. Nashville this morning checking in at 28 degrees. A cold front that passed through the region now has produced some strong northerly winds behind it and that's making it feel pretty cold in Nashville.

That's nothing compared to what's happening up here in the northeast. We have conditions where it's 15 degrees in Boston. It is 18 degrees currently in New York City and north of Boston in Manchester, New Hampshire, get ready for a cold one, a few snow flurries still falling. You're looking at a live picture of beautiful Manchester, New Hampshire, just north of Boston. As you can see, the snow is on the ground, it's on the rooftops there and they had a couple of inches of snow, not too bad as far as a lot to shovel, but here's the bad news. The wind chill factor today in New Hampshire will be below zero. That's during the day, not just in the evening hours. So we're looking at this bitter blast of arctic air we've been talking about it since last week. Today is Sunday. It's on the way in. The front drops down, it pulls down this really cold air, not just for New Hampshire but for Boston, New York City, down through D.C., even parts of northern Georgia will feel things getting a lot colder, at least in the wind chill factor we'll feel that brisk northerly winds.

Here's the way it shapes up for New York over the weekend and for the next couple of days. We're looking at a low temperature of 18 degrees tonight. It will feel like it's in the single digits and that holds true for tomorrow morning's commute on Monday as well. It does start to get milder by the time we get to Thursday, so that's good news. Now on the flipside, while it's getting much colder in the northeast, it's getting warmer out to the west. You can see temperatures are on the way up for Denver, all the way up tomorrow to 66 and 61 for St. Louis. So cold here and mild right here. Betty, Tony?

NGUYEN: OK, we'll be watching. Changing weather out there.

HARRIS: Bonnie, thank you. E-mail question.

NGUYEN: Yes, it's a good one this morning.

HARRIS: And the in box, hot this morning. Would selling six U.S. ports to the United Arab Emirates weaken U.S. security? Matthew and Jean write, I am a soldier in the United States Army and I don't think our president has his head on straight. This decision would only lead to more terrorists coming into our country. How do you think the families of the fallen soldiers will feel to know that their loved ones died in vain?

NGUYEN: Charles in Baton Rouge, Louisiana says, I doubt letting a UAE company have control will reduce security at our ports. What makes us think that they are secure now? If anything, a Middle Eastern company would make us more suspicious and hence, more vigilant.

HARRIS: And this from Tim, check this one out Betty. I can't believe that little gray-haired women are patted down at our airports to keep us safe and then we turn around and give our ports over to a government-owned company that has ties to the enemy and no red flags are indicated. It is another follow the money situation. Tim, thank you.

Here's the question once again. Would selling six U.S. ports to the UAE weaken our security? There's the address: weekends@cnn.com. It's hot. We thought it would be.

NGUYEN: A lot of people talking about it.

The next hour of "CNN SUNDAY MORNING" begins right now.

Shiite cleric, Muqtada Al-Sadr rallies Muslims against the U.S. occupation of Iraq. Al-Sadr appeared in Basra following an explosion at a holy Shiite shrine today, and a wave of reprisal attacks against Sunnis. He called for unity among all Muslims and accused Iraq's enemies of stirring up sectarian strife.

NGUYEN: And elsewhere in Iraq, despite curfews, violence continues to spread. A call bomb killed at least two people in the Shiite city of Hilla in Baghdad. A rocket lands on homes near a Sunni mosque killing at least four people. A roadside bomb kills a police commando and wounds two others. And two more U.S. soldiers fall in a roadside bomb explosion.

HARRIS: And next door in Iran, a repeat of Friday's demonstrations in Tehran. Iranians burn flags in front of the British embassy protesting Wednesday's bombing of a Shiite mosque in Iraq. Iran accuses western nations of organizing the attack as an attempt to spark a civil war between Shia and Sunni Muslims.

NGUYEN: In Afghanistan, police surround a notorious prison outside Kabul where a riot has erupted. Taliban and al Qaeda inmates reportedly gained control of a wing of the high security complex and took two female guards hostage.

Here's new video into CNN. Wire services report hearing bursts of gunfire inside.

HARRIS: He was Barney Fife. He was Mr. Furley and -- this is the one I love, Betty -- he was the incredible Mr. Limpet. I love that movie. Actor Don Knotts has died. He passed away Friday night at a Los Angeles hospital. His family and long-time friend, Andy Griffith, were by his side. Don Knotts was 81 years old.

Join us for a special encore presentation of "Larry King Live," a Mayberry reunion with Don Knotts and Andy Griffith. That's tonight, 9 eastern, right here on CNN.

NGUYEN: Don Knotts always brought smiles to our faces.

And TV and film actor Darren McGavin has also died. His many credits include the 1980's comedy "A Christmas Story." Remember that? And he stared in five TV series, including "Mike Hammer," "Riverboat," "Kolchak: The Night Stalker." Darren McGavin was 83.

From the CNN Center, this is "CNN SUNDAY MORNING, February 26. It's 8 a.m, here at CNN headquarters in Atlanta.

It's 7:00 a.m. in New Orleans. Take a look at the live pictures right now. Where people are enjoying a short break from the pain and drudgery of rebuilding. We're going live to Bourbon Street for all the festivities that are taking place this weekend.

Good morning, everybody. I'm Betty Nguyen. HARRIS: And I'm Tony Harris. Thank you for being with us.

Well, topping our security watch this morning, that controversial ports management deal will get a grown light if some congressional leaders have their way.

CNN has learned Republican lawmakers are seeking a compromise, which would allow an Arab-based company to manage terminal operations at six major U.S. ports.

Elaine Quijano has details.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

QUIJANO (voice-over): After a flurry of weekend activity, word of a possible compromise over the controversial Dubai Ports World deal. CNN has learned that top Republican congressional leaders are crafting a compromise that would allow the transaction to go forward, but only with a 45-day review of national security issues.

A top aide to Senate majority leader Bill Frist tells CNN his office is encouraging Dubai Ports World to ask the government's Committee on Foreign Investment, which reviewed the deal, for the extra investigation.

The Republican chairman of the House Homeland Security Committee, Congressman Peter King, telling CNN, quote, "I am hearing from sources close to the negotiations that DP World is agreeable to a 45-day national security investigation. It is a very positive step but we have to see what the details are. This time, congress should be briefed throughout the process."

QUIJANO: Even as discussions were taking place behind the scenes, the criticism continued out in the open.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JON CORZINE, GOVERNOR, NEW JERSEY: There are many reasons why this transaction fails the basic test of common sense with regard to our nation's homeland security.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BILL RICHARDSON, GOVERNOR, NEW MEXICO: If I were a member have Congress, which I was once, I would vote to block this. I think it's that serious.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

QUIJANO: Before the weekend, that's exactly what lawmakers, including some Republicans, have been threatening to do. And President Bush had threatened to veto any such legislation, with officials as late as Friday saying there was no need for an additional review since the deal they argued had been thoroughly vetted. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

STEPHEN HADLEY, NATIONAL SECURITY ADVISOR: And at the end of the day, no agency indicated that they had a national security problem and, therefore, the company was informed that the administration's process would go no further. So that process is over.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

QUIJANO (on camera): Neither the White House, nor the company, DP World, will comment on a possible compromise. An official with the treasury department, which leads the Committee on Foreign Investment, would only describe the situation as fluid. Tony --

HARRIS: Well, hang on a second, Elaine. It looks like we have -- forget about the Democrats for a second -- but it looks like we have some Republicans, who last week were screaming this deal, block the deal, block the deal. They seem to be in the process of paving the road for reversal. What is going on here?

QUIJANO: Well, it's interesting, Tony. What this possible compromise does is it essentially allows both ends of Pennsylvania Avenue to save face.

The lawmakers will, in fact, be able to get their 45-day review. That's what a lot of them, including some Republicans, as you point out, really felt was necessary in this case. Because they said they were real national security concerns.

At the same time, President Bush, who was so adamant and continues to be of the mind that there was no additional review needed, he is able to still maintain his position because it's going to be the company asking for this government review.

And so neither side will appear to have been changing position on this one. We'll have to wait and see what develops later today. Tony --

HARRIS: It feel like it's got a little hazed up, fuzzed up.

Elaine Quijano for us at the White House.

Elaine, thank you.

And we want to know what you think. Would selling six U.S. ports to the United Arab Emirates weaken U.S. security? Here's the e-mail address: weekends@cnn.com.

NGUYEN: Well, a Cold War reminder is blasting its way into the future. Warning sirens that is used to alert Americans to a nuclear attack are getting a makeover in this post-9/11 world.

CNN's Gary Nurenberg has the details.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

GARY NURENBERG, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Warning sirens get your attention. Talking warning sirens do more.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ROBERT GRIFFIN, ALEXANDRIA EMERGENCY MANAGEMENT: The intent it to be able to give people a warning sign. And then a burst message explaining what the situation is.

ANNOUNCER: This is a test of the outdoor warning system.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

NURENBERG: San Francisco installed a $2 million talking siren system in 2004 using acoustical design maps to place 65 sirens in specific locations where they can most easily be heard.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JOHN FUOTO, ENGINEER, SIREN EXPERT: What you are trying to do is tell the public what it is they need to do to protect them.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

NURENBERG: Not far from the site of the 9/11 attack on the Pentagon, Arlington and Alexandria, Virginia, are doing tests to see if the talking sirens can effectively be used to inform the public in case of a terror attack in, or near, the national capital area.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

GRIFFIN: We have a variety of systems currently in place, including the ability to send e-mails, pages, telephone calls, reverse 911. We also have an a.m. radio station. But we recognize that we needed a system to contact people who may be outside, away from their computers.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

NURENBERG: Non-talking sirens have long been used near nuclear plants to warn of accidents. They're used near Washington's Mount Rainier to talk of a pending volcanic eruption.

The American military uses sirens to warn of trouble on military bases. Oklahoma uses them to warn of tornadoes. Sirens have recently been erected in Southeast Asia tsunami areas to warn of tidal waves.

That history, coupled with the new talking technology, could mean a more widespread use of sirens in urban areas.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

FUOTO: These systems have the capability of being multi-hazard- warning systems. Not just for terrorist events, but also for natural events and accidents.

(END VIDEO CLIP) NURENBERG: Planners are trying to get the new technology to work in areas as diverse as the urban canyons of a city and the wide open spaces of a shopping mall parking lot or suburban park. The test in Virginia should yield similar results by this summer.

Gary Nurenberg, CNN, Washington.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

HARRIS, Well, it's apparently a false alarm on the Ricin scare at the University of Texas Austin.

Authorities now doubt the powder found in a roll of quarters is Ricin. No one has shown symptoms of exposure to the powerful poison.

A student doing laundry had opened the roll of quarters, which came pre-wrapped from the bank. An early test indicated the powder was Ricin, but two new tests came up neglective. An Army lab is doing a final test to make sure.

And this reminder, stay tuned to CNN day and night for the most reliable news about your security.

NGUYEN: Well, coming up, Tony, Apolo's day in the sun.

HARRIS: Oh, no.

NGUYEN: Yes. On, no, it's oh, yes, after the stunning sprint to the finish.

We're going to go live to Torino, Italy.

CHRIS LAWRENCE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: They're cleaning up this morning after a pretty wild night in Bourbon Street, but is this Mardi Gras really giving people in New Orleans what they needed?

I'm Chris Lawrence, live, in the French Quarter with that story.

You are watching "CNN SUNDAY MORNING."

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

NGUYEN: Well, good morning and welcome back. Bonnie Schneider is watching the weather outside.

Getting a little hairy in some areas, Bonnie.

SCHNEIDER: That's right. But you know what's great, Betty? That we're going to have good weather for Mardi Gras in New Orleans.

NGUYEN: Yes, that's what we want to hear.

SCHNEIDER: It's actually improving.

NGUYEN: It was raining yesterday, right? SCHNEIDER: I know, that's -- exactly. There was some rain. So this is one last thing for folks to worry about that'll be watching parades this week. We're looking at an improving forecast from New Orleans from yesterday. And as we get closer to Fat Tuesday, I'll show you the reason why.

(WEATHER REPORT)

SCHNEIDER: Warm out to the west, and very cold out to the east. Betty -- Tony --

NGUYEN: I would say quite the contrast.

SCHNEIDER: Yes.

NGUYEN: Okay, Bonnie, thank you.

NGUYEN: It is the first Mardi Gras since the horrific storms, and it rained on their parade. Rain and the threat of thunderstorms chased many a partier into the civic center, where they went on all night long. No worries, though. The good times are still rolling on.

Let's check in with CNN's Chris Lawrence, live, on Bourbon Street, where people are still out and about. I imagine many of them haven't gone to sleep just yet. Chris --

CHRIS LAWRENCE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, you know, Betty, when was the last time you were coming back from a bar, at, you know, 7, 8 o'clock in the morning? Some of the folks here still, you know, stumbling, coming down the street, letting out of some of these bars right now.

The street sweepers are coming through. They're trying to get everything cleaned up because, you know, honestly Bourbon Street's probably going to be a mess again by tonight.

A pretty raucous crowd last night, very crowded on Bourbon Street. A lot of people out at the bars, throwing beads down from the balconies. A real tradition here on bourbon street.

A lot of people out having a good time. But the thing is, bars are packed. The clubs are packed. Some of the restaurants here on Bourbon Street are packed. But I don't know if this has been the economic boom some people were expecting for the city as a whole.

We talked to people who run some of the shirt stores, the antique shops, art galleries, places like that. They're not really seeing a whole lot of business from this Mardi Gras.

Most of the hotels are fairly sold out. And, again, you've got to put that in some kind of perspective because you've got maybe 10,000 hotel rooms that aren't even open. And some of those that are, are being used to house some of the workers who are here during the reconstruction.

You know, overall, though, a lot of people said they should have done this Mardi Gras just for the emotional boost it's given to people. When you take a look at some of the parades and things that have gone on here, it's brought out an incredible amount of families.

We talked to people who are seeing neighbors for the first time really since Hurricane Katrina came through here. The parade is giving them a chance to kind of get back together again and swap stories and ask how each other is doing. Really important part of Mardi Gras culture. Betty --

NGUYEN: Chris, I know you say it's brought back a lot of families. They've come out to enjoy the good times. But, you know, Mardi Gras also brings in a lot of out-of-towners, and with the hotel situation, are you seeing many this year?

LAWRENCE: It's a smaller crowd. It's a much smaller crowd. You know, there were times here on Bourbon Street where you literally couldn't walk a few years ago.

It's crowded, thousands of people down here, but it are not that bad. And again, when you think about some of the out-of-towners come in. The kind of crowd that's come is really great for Bourbon Street, but I don't know how great it is for the other businesses. You know, you go one block over, either way, and you can walk pretty freely. I mean, it's pretty empty at night.

NGUYEN: Yes, Mardi Gras is supposed to be an economic boom for that state. And obviously this year it's been tailored back because of all that's happened.

LAWRENCE: Yes.

NGUYEN: Chris Lawrence, thanks. Let the good times roll down there. Have a good time.

LAWRENCE: Yes, thanks.

NGUYEN: All right.

CNN will have complete coverage of Mardi Gras in New Orleans. You'll want to tune in Monday at 6 a.m. eastern, for "AMERICAN MORNING." Then in "PRIME TIME," Anderson Cooper takes you inside Fat Tuesday parade preparations. That's at 10 p.m. eastern.

HARRIS: And still ahead, Betty, Apolo blasts off, saving the best for last.

Plus, the promise of a surprise sports celebrity extinguishing the Olympic flame. That's ahead when we go live to Torino, Italy.

That's next on "CNN SUNDAY MORNING."

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

HARRIS: What, after today, no more fanfare and all that?

NGUYEN: Can you believe it? It's going to be sad. HARRIS: No Olympics -- oh, I'm sorry.

NGUYEN: Are you marking me?

HARRIS: Did I mark you? Gee, my apologies.

NGUYEN: A thankless job up here, folks.

HARRIS: Two weeks -- wow.

The daring fetes and exciting finishes are winding down. This is the last day for the Winter games in Italy.

American, Apolo Anton Ohno, added gold and bronze medals to his Olympic collection yesterday. Ohno won the gold in the men's 500- meter short track speedskating. And he helped the U.S. earn a bronze in the 5,000 relay.

Let's go, right now, to CNN's Mark McKay, who is following all the action on this final day from Torino, Italy.

Mark, good to see you. Good morning, sir.

MARK MCKAY, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Always good to see you, Tony.

Not to name drop, but I did hang with Apolo Ohno, last night at one of the many parties here. And he had the actual medals on him.

Is he such a short guy, that you would think he would be leaning over, but this is the one he picked up last night? Gold in the 500- meter short strake speedskate. The 23-year-old leaving these games with three medals, along with a healthy dose of satisfaction

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

APOLO ANTON OHNO, OLYMPIC SPEEDSKATER: I couldn't have dreamt a better finish for this Olympics, you know. I've had the highs, the lows, the emotional upsets, the comebacks. What can I say? It's an unbelievable moment.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MCKAY: Ohno's elation, in stark contrast to the disappointment felt or, perhaps not, by U.S. skier Bode Miller. The U.S. skier came to Torino with high expectations.

Unfortunately, for him, he leaves these games 0-5. Saturday, the coup de gras, skiing off the course in the opening run of the slalom. How did Bode feel about his stay in northern Italy? Tony, he told reporters, quote, "I had an awesome Olympics. I wouldn't change a thing." So there you go.

HARRIS: What is he -- what -- all right. I got two questions for you. First of all, Betty would like to know, Mark, whether or not the Ohno guy asked about her?

NGUYEN: Tony, you are not supposed to say that out loud. I'm going kill you.

MCKAY: No, I did not hear it.

NGUYEN: Exactly.

HARRIS: And, second of all, we know we're just a couple of hours away from the closing ceremonies, and I understand there might be a bit of a surprise celebrity guest to extinguish the flame. What do you know?

MCKAY: Yes, we were trying to banter back and forth who that might be. You know, Italy's biggest sporting celebrity is Alberto Tomba. Oh, by the way, not to name drop or anything, I was with him last night as well.

So we don't know who that is going to be, Tony. But we do know that there will be a performance by Andrea Bocelli, the tenor. And they will have a carnival theme. You know Fat Tuesday is around the corner. So a carnival theme to tonight's closing ceremony in Italy.

HARRIS: Yes, and in Canada's Avril Levigne. She's pretty popular amongst the kids. She's performing, isn't she?

NGUYEN: You know her too, Mark?

MCKAY: Well, kind of appropriate as well, because the Olympics are going to Vancouver. The next Winter games are going to be in Vancouver in 2010.

HARRIS: Great.

NGUYEN: And he'll be name-dropping then.

HARRIS: It's been fun, Mark. Thank you.

NGUYEN: Thanks, Mark.

HARRIS: It's been a lot of fun.

NGUYEN: I can't until he comes back. He'll have some stories to tell.

HARRIS: Mark McKay there at Torino, Italy, for us.

NGUYEN: I know this person and that person.

All right. Thanks, Mark. Talk to you later.

All morning long we have been asking you for thoughts on our e- mail question. Would sell six U.S. ports to the UAE weaken U.S. security? Oh, we have gotten so many emails about this.

Nedra says, "I am saddened that we, in America, have come to a place where our vision is so clouded with oil that we would, in a post 9/11 environment, sell out ports to a company based in the Middle East. This is a dangerous undertaking and now it's clear why Osama bin Laden has been so quiet and waiting. Isn't that amazing?"

HARRIS: Yes.

Jay writes, "The single biggest problem in the United States is the fact that the might dollar rules all. People don't matter, opinions don't matter, and our safety and security doesn't matter. The one and only thing that caries any weight is the dollar."

NGUYEN: And R. Swope says, "Putting an Arabic entity in charge of port security is like putting a fox in the hen house saying, 'Don't eat the chickens.' It is a crazy idea."

NGUYEN: People are very strong about their feelings on this. And as you can see, a lot of lawmakers are too. So we'll see how it plays out. There's a compromise on the way. We've been talking about that all morning lone and we'll to continue to follow that for you.

Right now, I want to talk about spring break. Because when we think of spring break, we don't think of pictures like these. But this year, that is exactly what MTV and the United Way want spring breakers to do. It's a call to rebuild the Gulf Coast. That's coming up at 9 a.m. eastern.

HARRIS: But first, though, on this morning's "House Call" senior medical correspondent, Dr. Sanjay Gupta, takes a close look at vitamins and supplements. So before you pop those pills this morning, we will separate the fact from the fiction.

TO ORDER A VIDEO OF THIS TRANSCRIPT, PLEASE CALL 800-CNN-NEWS OR USE OUR SECURE ONLINE ORDER FORM LOCATED AT www.fdch.com

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