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CNN SUNDAY MORNING
Military Reopens Investigation Into Tillman's Death; Al Jazeera Broadcasts Al-Zawahiri's New Videotape
Aired March 5, 2006 - 09:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The investigation results indicate that Corporal Tillman probably died as a result of friendly fire while his unit was engaged in combat with enemy forces.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
TONY HARRIS, CNN ANCHOR: Well, that was what the military said a year ago about the death of Army Ranger Pat Tillman when he was killed by friendly fire. Now the Pentagon's call for a criminal investigation to crackdown on protocol.
And good Sunday morning to you from the CNN center in Atlanta. I'm Tony Harris, on this the 5th day of March.
BETTY NGUYEN, CNN ANCHOR: It's Oscar Sunday everybody. Good morning. I'm Betty Nguyen. We're going to have more on the development in the Pat Tillman investigation in just a moment, but first, some other stories making news right now.
Long before the sun rose, President Bush returned to the White House from his trip to south Asia. His plane landed about four hours ago. Mr. Bush says his visits to Afghanistan, India, and Pakistan have enhanced U.S. security.
In Indonesia today, thousands of Muslim demonstrators denounced President Bush as a terrorist and demanded that U.S. troops leave Iraq and Afghanistan. The rally in front of the U.S. embassy in Jakarta ended peacefully and under the watchful eye of some 2,000 police officers.
HARRIS: Osama bin Laden's right-hand man delivers a new message in a tape that first aired yesterday on the Arabic TV network al Jazeera. Ayman al-Zawahiri extended his congratulations to Hamas. The militant group is forming a new Palestinian government. He also condemned newspaper cartoons of Islam's prophet which have sparked international protests.
One worker is still missing and presumed dead in a fire in a West Virginia power plant. It started inside this 1,000 foot tall smokestack that is under construction. A helicopter was able to pluck three other workers from the stack. They managed to stay out of reach of the flames. It's ceremonial, but no dog and pony show. This is Alaska's famed Iditarod race. Eighty three teams showcased their skills in yesterday's 11-mile ceremonial start through Anchorage. Today the 1,100 mile race begins in earnest.
NGUYEN: Well, here's what's happening this hour of CNN SUNDAY MORNING. Muslim again Muslim. The civil unrest in Iraq just won't end. Can the new Iraqi leaders prevent a civil war? We'll take you live to Baghdad.
And after being cornered in one part of town and cut off from their income, a group of women shut down the Las Vegas strip and stormed Caesar's Palace. We'll take a closer look at the forgotten gamble in Sin City. And before you go in debt with your purchase, the bling bling is not for everyone. If tinsel town is tempting you with its caviar wishes and champagne dreams, well, we're going to tell you why keeping up with the Jones can actually be bad for your health.
HARRIS: But at the top of this hour, Pat Tillman walked away from the NFL and became a poster child of the all volunteer military, but now the Army has opened a criminal investigation into his death nearly two years ago in Afghanistan. The Pentagon says the probe does not suggest a crime was involved, but, instead, is to make sure that Army protocols are finally followed. Regardless, the case creates yet another embarrassment for the military.
(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)
MAJ. GEN. DON SHEPPERD, CNN MILITARY ANALYST: I think this gets very muddy, because so many people have talked so much and given so much testimony. This is just -- it's just an unfortunate as can be. Here's a great guy. He gave his life for his country, did the best he could, and as you said, could have been used as a poster child. That could have been somebody's motivation, and now all this is dug up and it all looks dirty and nasty, and it's a bad mark on the military. It doesn't get any uglier.
(END AUDIO CLIP)
HARRIS: Well, initially the Army said that Tillman had been killed by enemy fire.
NGUYEN: President Bush is back at the White House well before dawn this morning. Mr. Bush returned from his three-nation trip to south Asia. He visited Afghanistan, India, and Pakistan. Mr. Bush says Pakistan is not being offered the same nuclear deal that he pledged to its arch-rival India. Both countries say they need help in addressing their growing needs for energy.
Let's see what's next for the president as we take you live now to Washington and CNN White House correspondent Dana Bash. What's on the agenda, Dana?
DANA BASH, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Hi Betty. Well, you know, it's a long tradition for presidents to try to overcome political problems, bad news at home by escaping to the world stage, but that hasn't been a tactic frankly that's worked for this president, especially lately. While the president was away, in south Asia, the debate raged, especially over the controversy, over the deal allowing a Dubai company to control, or at least operate, the ports, six U.S. ports. Most members of the president's party since Mr. Bush has been away, appear to be digging in against it rather than rallying around the president.
And so Mr. Bush comes back to that debate still raging, and also, the fact that his standing across the board, issues really across the board, lower than when he left, particularly on the issue of terrorism. That is perhaps the issue, Betty, that most concerns this White House. While the president was over promoting his alliance with President Musharraf of Pakistan, for example, promoting his ability, he says, to make Americans more secure since 9/11. Americans in this country really feel that he is not doing as well as he had been in fighting terrorism, Betty.
NGUYEN: Dana, there's another big issue that will surely be debated because Bush entered into a nuclear agreement with India during this trip. Now this must still be approved by Congress. So how tough of a sell is that going to be?
BASH: It could be pretty tough. Essentially what the president did while in India, the White House considers this a big success, is agree to share U.S.know-how and even nuclear fuel with India in exchange for them allowing international inspections. Now, this is a major departure in U.S. policy. For 30 years, India has refused to sign on to the nuclear nonproliferation treaty and still -- they still are. So many members of Congress say, wait a minute, why are we giving preferential or special treatment to India and really rewarding them for defying the international community when it comes to trying to deal with nuclear nonproliferation?
Now, the president made very clear that he believes that different policies should apply to different countries. The White House says that India is perhaps more responsible now, but members of Congress think that it's simply rewarding India, perhaps for the basic bottom line and that is that India is a major economic powerhouse. So it's going to be very interesting, Betty, to see how this goes through Congress.
NGUYEN: Going to be a fight. Dana Bash, thank you so much Dana.
HARRIS: In news across America now, New Orleans Mayor Ray Nagin is going the extra mile in his bid for reelection. Yesterday Nagin traveled to Houston, Texas, to campaign. An estimated 150,000 New Orleaneans now call Houston home. The Crescent City. mayoral primary is less than two months away.
Police in San Bernardino, California say punk rock concert turned violent with several people and two police officers injured. Police say they responded to a stabbing call at the concert when the crowd of 1,500 turned on them, pelting police with rocks and bottles. Officers used pepper balls and tear gas to disperse the unruly group.
If you are wondering where all the four-legged victims of the Gulf coast hurricanes are, well, just check your local paper. Many cities are having Katrina adopt a dog-a-thons. The nonprofit group Pet Connect held an adoption fare outside Washington yesterday to find owners for 23 dogs and cats displaced by the storm.
And in the age of Blackberry, email, faxes, a simple message shoved in a bottle sent floating away gets a response believe it or not. A Louisiana man found it and sent a return letter to Rhode Island. Now the east coast woman, family and friends, are promising to help the man and his town which was destroyed by hurricane Rita.
NGUYEN: What are the chances of that? What a story?
HARRIS: Long odds.
NGUYEN: It would take a major power outage or natural disaster to stop the gambling in Las Vegas. We know that. But a group of single mothers did just that. They shut down the strip. The anniversary of storming Caesar's Palace, that's next on CNN SUNDAY MORNING.
HARRIS: And later, the world will be watching, well, with the stars wear their bling all along the red carpet. That Halle Berry.
NGUYEN: She's pretty, isn't she?
HARRIS: Timeless, timeless, I tell you.
NGUYEN: She's a beauty.
HARRIS: Then tomorrow, millions will try to copy what they watched. See you tonight.
NGUYEN: Good luck, right.
HARRIS: The man known as the trend whisperer joins us live. Good morning Bonnie.
BONNIE SCHNEIDER, CNN METEOROLOGIST: Good morning. As we talk about Los Angeles, we're looking at temperatures right now at 47 degrees, Las Vegas, currently 44. It's cold there. We have a live picture to show you of Las Vegas this morning, folks. Getting up early, maybe planning your day or coming home after a late night, you never know. Let's look at Las Vegas. We're going to have a check of the entire nation's forecast coming up next on CNN SUNDAY MORNING.
HARRIS: And if you are just joining us, getting ready to leave home for church services this morning, thank you for spending some time with us. Our top stories this morning, President Bush is back home from his three-nation trip to south Asia. Mr. Bush praised Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf's commitment to the war on terror.
An al Qaeda leader surfaces in another videotape. Ayman al- Zawahiri condemns the recent cartoons depicting the prophet Mohammed and he congratulates Hamas, the militant Islamic group that's forming a new Palestinian government. The Arab network al Jazeera released the tape yesterday.
The Pentagon has ordered the Army to launch a criminal investigation into the death of pro football player and ranger Pat Tillman. Tillman was killed in 2004 by fellow soldiers in a friendly fire incident in Afghanistan. Sources tell CNN the Pentagon wants to know if his death was a result of negligent homicide.
NGUYEN: As they say, viva Las Vegas. Look at the sun coming up over in this live picture. Las Vegas, Sin City, an oasis of money in the Nevada desert, and on any given day, you could leave richer than you arrived, but on March 6th, 1971, Las Vegas was the center of one of the most courageous demonstrations in the city's colorful history, one that would ultimately change Nevada's racial landscape.
NGUYEN: (voice-over): After World War II, many poor black southern immigrants packed their bags and headed west under the guise of better living and what was to become a glitzy city. Jobs were plentiful in Nevada's new government defense plants and new resorts were popping up on the desert horizon, but for African-Americans looking to escape the racism of the south, they seemed to have left one bad situation to find another. Over the next few decades Las Vegas remained heavily segregated. The city's African-American population took residence west of the railroad tracks, the only place they were allowed to live.
By the 1970s many black marriages ended from the financial and social strain, and a staggering number of African-American mothers who had relocated to Las Vegas with their husbands ended up raising their children on their own. They became reliant on the state's welfare system. Their monthly checks were hardly enough to pay rent and buy groceries week to week, so when state legislators cut or reduced welfare benefits, 1,500 protesters, men, women, children, white, black, Hispanic, led by the irrepressible Ruby Duncan, a welfare mother herself, marched right into Caesar's Palace and demanded an audience. It was at Las Vegas's most opulent resort they chanted, held signs reading "Nevada Gambles with Human Life" and "Nevada starves children." The demonstration brought gamblers and the casino cash flow to a screeching halt for an hour.
This unprecedented action made the news. The "Washington Post" headline read "High Rollers Don't Know Vegas' Poor are There." The single mothers discovered they had powerful allies, including actress Jane Fonda, civil rights activist Ralph David Abernathy and Julian Bond who marched on Caesar's along with local and national lawmakers, like then Democratic presidential candidate Jimmy Carter and top legal experts who fought their case.
In less than a month after the benefits were cut, the state's welfare administrators folded and the ladies won their battle to have them reinstated. Those friends in high places helped secure funding so these mothers could establish Operation Life. Today's oasis was shaped by those courageous ladies who stormed Caesar's Palace 35 years ago.
NGUYEN: And tomorrow marks the 35th anniversary of the day protesters stormed Caesar's palace in an effort to defend their right to government assistance. The details are in this book "Storming Caesar's Palace" written by Dartmouth professor of history Annelise Orleck. She joins us now from Hanover, New Hampshire. Thank you for being with us. Also, two of the women behind the movement Ruby Duncan and Mary Wesley are in Las Vegas, still in Las Vegas. Good morning, ladies.
RUBY DUNCAN, WELFARE RIGHTS ACTIVIST: Good morning.
NGUYEN: We're going to start with you out there in Sin City, as they call it. Ruby, what was the straw that broke your back when it came to this, and you said, you know what, I'm not taking it anymore? I am going to fight this.
DUNCAN: Well, we women decided that we better fight for ourselves because we know no one else would, because the welfare department was giving us pure hell for trying to take care of our children.
NGUYEN: But why Caesar's Palace? Why did you want to walk on into that place and shut it down, basically, for the moment, at least while you were in there?
DUNCAN: Well, there were many marches led up to Caesar's Palace. About 6,000 people were there with us. We decided that we would go to the stature that was in Caesar's because we wanted to make sure that Caesar's take the message to God, that George Miller, the state director, was abusing women, children, and families.
NGUYEN: Mary, you took part in this march as well. This was really quite a bold statement. Though you were determined, you had to have been a little frightened too because this was a move that not many women would have made back then?
MARY WESLEY, WELFARE RIGHTS ACTIVIST: Well, when you were as poor as we were, you had no choice. You can't go no further down. So we just took ourselves -- condition (INAUDIBLE) we knew the kids needed food, clothing. They needed medicine, so we needed -- we didn't have food stamps here, and our pay was so -- such a small amount we could not make ends meet. So we had to take and do something because what else could we do? We couldn't get any poorer and the money that they was giving us was not feeding those kids. We didn't have the right, proper clothes for them, the education and now the health. And so we had to start someplace, and we wanted them to see a better part of Las Vegas, a nicer place, so they would not look back, but always look forward to something better.
NGUYEN: What you did changed the landscape out there. The benefits were restored, and Ruby, later you guys created Operation Life which is now a model for anti-poverty programs today. Tell us a little bit about Operation Life and what it did. DUNCAN: Operation Life was a great program because all the women came together after we had proven our goal and made sure that women were put back on welfare, although all of them didn't get a chance to get back on. But we built a medical center. We built a program for poor senior citizens. We built scattered housing for poor mothers who couldn't afford to pay high price for housing. We made sure that we brought in the WIC program for women, infants, and children.
NGUYEN: What a (INAUDIBLE)
DUNCAN: Yes and we brought in the medical program within Operation Life that was part of the Operation Life program, which was the EPSDT program, early periodic screening diagnostic and treatment.
NGUYEN: A whole host of services that you provided through that. Annelise, I want to bring you in now because you wrote a book about this storming of Caesar's Palace. It took you 13 years to write. Why did you want to write about this?
ANNELISE ORLECK, AUTHOR, PROF OF HISTORY: I always have been interested in poor mothers' political movements. My grandmother was a garment worker, single mom. She raised three children sewing button holes for 40 years in a New York garment shop, so that was my first interest. And I wrote about poor Jewish women's activism. When I first heard about the accomplishments of Ruby Duncan and Mary Wesley and the mothers of the west side, I was really excited. On the one hand, it sounded familiar and there were commonalities with this poor Jewish women's movement of years before, but on the other hand, poor black single mothers are probably the most stigmatized and denigrated group in our culture and these women fought back.
They said it was unacceptable for children to go hungry in the shadow of the Las Vegas strip, where millions of dollars are thrown away every year. So they shut down the strip. They convinced a reluctant Las Vegas legislature to bring in medical programs and food programs and then they opened up the first clinic in their community, the first library, which the library district had been unwilling to do because they said, you know, that poor black people didn't read. They opened up as Ruby mentioned senior housing, a public swimming pool, a wide range of programs and their political vision moved me because what they said was that any society, any caring society, certainly one so affluent as ours, should be able to give to all children, what any mother wants for her own children -- decent medical care, food, housing, shelter. That's a political vision.
NGUYEN: I have to ask you very quickly, though, looking back at history and looking to today, has the system changed all that much?
ORLECK: Well, the system is different in that there's no longer AFDC, the direct aid to poor mothers, but there are lots of programs that poor mothers can take advantage of, including these community development grants and social services grants that Operation Life took advantage of and I think in the aftermath of hurricane Katrina it's more important than ever that we take notice of the model of Operation Life and that we see that poverty can be best fought when we tap the spirit and potential of poor mothers and poor people themselves. NGUYEN: Well said. Ruby, I wish I could give you the last word here. We're just simply out of time. Ruby Duncan, Mary Wesley, Annelise Orleck, what you have done is captured histories so that others can learn from it. Thank you for your time today.
WESLEY: Thank you very much.
DUNCAN: Thank you very much.
HARRIS: And still ahead, from hairstyles to clothes, and all the accessories, the bling, bling you see on the red carpet tonight in Hollywood will soon be at your local mall. That's a nice dress. That's not bad.
NGUYEN: Stopped you in your tracks, didn't it?
HARRIS: Should you shell out the big bucks to be like the stars? The man called the Trend Whisperer.
NGUYEN: Not to be confused with the horse whisperer.
HARRIS: Yeah, yeah, don't want that to happen, he joins us in the next half hour of CNN SUNDAY MORNING.
HARRIS: Any work going on out there?
NGUYEN: Just a little bit.
HARRIS: Anything going on?
NGUYEN: Are you working right there? (INAUDIBLE) at least
HARRIS: Weather is going on. Weather is going on.
NGUYEN: Bonnie is definitely working today.
SCHNEIDER: I'm always working.
HARRIS: Thank you,Bonnie.
SCHNEIDER: We can show you some folks that never sleep. They say New York's the city that never sleeps. So is Las Vegas. Folks are up early this morning. The temperature is 44 degrees. It's a beautiful morning. Check out the Las Vegas strip now. This is the good-looking shot there courtesy of our affiliate KVBC in Las Vegas. That sunshine, should be a nice day there, and the lights kind of twinkling in the background.
Well, unfortunately, for northern California, it's not going to be a nice day. We already have rain to speak of. In Sacramento, the temperature is 49 degrees, San Francisco, checking in at 52. And the rain is falling in northern California. We have rain in Sacramento, north of San Francisco in the Napa area the rain is coming down, and also in Modesto. San Jose dry for the moment, but we're keeping rain in the forecast certainly for there.
The big concern from San Francisco is not necessarily the rain. It's more of the wind. There's a high wind warning in effect. That goes until 6:00 tonight. These are current wind speeds in San Francisco and in Oakland, pretty strong, but we're expecting them to get stronger this afternoon, and the wind gusts as well will also get very powerful, up to about 58 miles per hour on the high side so we'll be watching for that.
A closer look at the rest of the country shows that we're also checking for some snowy conditions in Chicago. The snow is falling. We're expecting one to three inches. Eventually milder air will come into play, and that will help to melt any snow that accumulates, but out to the west, the big concern is that storm that's bringing in some snow and some rain and some wind out back towards northern California. This is northern California. Southern California looks dry for the Oscars tonight. Got to have a dry red carpet, right?
HARRIS: Yeah, yeah. Look at that (INAUDIBLE). Bonnie Schneider.
NGUYEN: Told you I was working. Alive and well. Thank you, Bonnie.
HARRIS: Thank you. You know, this could be the most critical time when it comes to establishing peace in Iraq. Next on CNN SUNDAY MORNING, efforts to stop what could turn into an all-out civil war. We will take you live to Baghdad when we come back.
HARRIS: And good morning again, everyone. "Now in the News," President Bush came back to Washington from his south Asian trip about, oh, four hours ago now. Despite protests and violence the president was upbeat about his visit to Afghanistan, India, and Pakistan. Mr. Bush says the trip has enhanced U.S. security. The president's last stop is Pakistan.
Meantime, President Bush rejected a Pakistani appeal for civilian nuclear assistance deal, the same one the White House is offering I understand. Mr. Bush says the two rival countries have different needs and different histories.
NGUYEN: The Pentagon has ordered a criminal probe into the death of a former pro football player and Army ranger Pat Tillman. Tillman was killed back in 2004 by follow soldiers in a friendly fire incident in Afghanistan. Now CNN has learned the Army will investigate whether his death was a negligent homicide. We'll have more on that.
Also, Osama bin Laden's right-hand man delivers a new message in a tape that first aired yesterday on the Arabic TV network al Jazeera. Ayman al-Zawahiri extending his congratulations to Hamas. The militant group is forming a new Palestinian government. He also condemned newspaper cartoons of Islam's prophet which have sparked international protest.
And two dozen dogs left homeless by hurricane Katrina get the chance for a new home in Maryland. Oh, look at the pooch. Hundreds of pets survived the storm, but temporary shelters in the Gulf Coast are closing. The animal welfare group, Pet Connect, is working very hard to find those some new families. A vet says the dogs aren't mean, just scared to death.
HARRIS: It seems we say this a lot. It's been another deadly day in Iraq. Religious violence keeps flaring in the country on the brink of an all-out civil war. Gunmen masquerading as police commandos stormed a Sunni mosque in western Baghdad. Three guards were killed, six more wounded in the assault. CNN Aneesh Raman is live in Baghdad with the very latest.
Aneesh, good morning to you.
ANEESH RAMAN, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Tony, good morning. That attack took place late yesterday, as you say, in the western part of the capital. Gunmen wearing uniforms similar to the Iraqi police commandos stormed the Sunni mosque. A one-hour gun battle ensued leaving at least three guards at the mosque wounded -- killed, sorry -- some six others wounded. Meantime today, also in the western part of the capital, gunmen opening fire on a minibus killing two relatives of one of the country's most prominent Sunni sheikhs, and wounding in that attack, another Sunni imam. It comes after a blood week at the capital alone. A number of car bombs, suicide bombings, it also saw a number of days with the government putting in place an extraordinary daytime curfew. We saw one in the capital on Friday to prevent attacks on mosques ahead of noon prayers on Friday.
So, the situation does remain tense. The government trying to control things. These curfews seem to have done some measure of success in keeping the mass protests off the streets, which has led to a lot of the initial sectarian attacks and reprisal attacks that we saw against the Sunnis. But, things definitely remain incredibly complicated here, specifically as well, in terms of the politics and who is running the country -- Tony
HARRIS: Aneesh, in some way or another that country has to get a handle on the militias.
RAMAN: It does. If there ever was a need for Iraq to get leadership it is now. If ever there was a need to control the militias, it's now. The big issues, of course, is the Iraqi security forces. They are in number enough to secure areas of the capital, not nearly enough to secure the country and so Shia militias, especially, have said through their leaders that if the government cannot protect our people, cannot protect our religious sites, then the militias will have to do that.
Now, over the weekend Iraq's interior minister, Bayan Jabr, says he is working to integrate the militias into the government security forces, but really that's a nonstarter until the government itself can secure the locations and the people, and that's a nonstarter until the government forms -- Tony. HARRIS: Oh my goodness. How complicated is this? CNN's Aneesh Raman for us in Baghdad. Aneesh, thank you.
NGUYEN: Well, later this morning Pakistan's president General Pervez Musharraf will be Wolf Blitzer's guest on "Late Edition." One issue at hand, Mr. Bush did not offer Pakistan the same nuclear deal that he pledged to its archrival, India. Here's what President Musharraf said in the interview that finished taping just a little bit earlier.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
PERVEZ MUSHARRAF, PAKISTANI PRESIDENT: Our need, vis-a-vis with United States, is totally different between -- as far as Indian needs with United States is concerned.
And I'm a very strong believer that this tendency of being Indo- centric in all relations is absolutely -- doesn't have a rationale, and I don't like to do that at all. Pakistan has its interests, and United States has its interests in Pakistan. We need to see that, and we need to move forward on that track, and I think both of us moved forward.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
NGUYEN: In about nine minutes from now can you see the rest of that interview with Pakistan's president. CNN's "Late Edition" with Wolf Blitzer airs at 11:00 Eastern, 8:00 Pacific.
Also on "Late Edition." NATO Supreme Allied Commander General James Jones discusses the war on terror, the war in Iraq, and NATO troops in Afghanistan. A lot on the plate. That's "Late Edition" with Wolf Blitzer at 11:00 a.m. Eastern.
Well Tony, are you more into, who gets the Oscars or what are they wearing?
HARRIS: Well, not with this late of pictures this year, I'm not into the Oscars, so I'll go with B.
NGUYEN: What they're wearing? The bling-bling all on the red carpet. You know, a lot of people watching just to see that, what people are wearing. It's all about the fashion these days.
HARRIS: That's probably what we'll be talking about tomorrow. Oh, man. Many of you might just shell out a lot of money just to look like the stars you see on TV tonight. Is that healthy? Well, you've heard of the horse whisperer. Now we have the answers coming up from a man called the "Trend Whisperer". That's next.
LAUREN BRENNER, FOUNDER, PURE POWER BOOT CAMP: One, two, three.
My name is Lauren Brenner. I'm the owner, founder of Pure Power Boot Camp. This is a military-style fitness facility. We specialize in getting people to overcome obstacles, both physically and mentally. Our most popular program is called the "Tour of Duty." It's four times a week for six weeks. Everyone gets personal guarantee by me. If you do not improve your fitness level, I train you free of charge indefinitely until you do.
Go lower. Don't get soft on me.
AMANDA RUDEY, RECRUIT: It's actually really fun to have people yell at you and motivate you like that.
FREDRICKA WHITFIELD, CNN NEWS CORRESPONDENT: After spending almost six years as a Wall Street trader, the former Syracuse University tennis player swapped her high heels for combat boots.
BRENNER: After 9/11 I really wanted to make a difference in society, I wanted to figure out a place that when you walk in, there's accountability, there's respect.
WHITFIELD: In 2003 Brenner brought Fort Knox to the Big Apple, literally. The nation's only indoor obstacle course mirrors the Army's Confidence Course at Kentucky's military base. To add to the authenticity, Brenner enlisted former Marines to help her whip clients into shape.
BRENNER: The crazy thing to me is, I'm considered the toughest by a real Marines that they're oh, he's a softy, he's the nicest guy in the world, and I'm the crazy one.
WHITFIELD: With 715 recruits this year, Pure Power Boot Camp's success has thrown Brenner into the spotlight. She's a fitness contributor on NBC's "The Today Show" and is hosting the program "Fit Family," this spring, on Fit TV. Future plans for Pure Power Boot Camp include new programs and franchising throughout the country.
BRENNER: This is blood, sweat, and tears in this place. And whether I own 100 of them, this is still going to be home.
NGUYEN: All right, let's take a look at our top stories this Sunday morning. President Bush is back at the White House after a three-nation swing through south Asia. Mr. Bush made stops in Afghanistan, India, and Pakistan, and he arrived back in Washington just before 5:00 a.m. Eastern Time.
The U.S. Army says it will open a criminal investigation into the death of Pat Tillman. The army ranger and former pro football player died in Afghanistan nearly two years ago in a case of friendly fire. The Army wants to know if negligent homicide was involved.
And we have new tape out of southern California where riot police used teargas to break up a punk rock concert. They say they went in to get a stabbing victim, and the crowd then turned on them, but people in the group say the police wouldn't let them out of the arena. And finally, it's time to mush in the Alaskan wild as the 34th annual Iditarod gets underway in earnest today. A field of 83 canine competitors got the boots on, and they're biting at the bit to win it all. The ceremonial start yesterday in anchorage gave people an up- close look at all the times.
HARRIS: The winners of last night's Independent Spirit Awards may be a prelude as to what we can expect at tonight's Oscars. Oh, that's that "Brokeback" is that (INAUDIBLE), the gay cowboy love story "Brokeback Mountain" won best picture, and its creator Ang Lee was named best director. Philip Seymour Hoffman took the best actor award. He's also an Oscar favorite for his portrayal of author Truman Capote. Felicity Huffman, also an Oscar nominee. What was this film?
HARRIS: "Transamerica" in which she plays a man preparing for a sex change operation. The Independent Spirit Awards honor the best in lower budgeted edgy filmmaking.
Well, it is night of glitz and glam as Hollywood stars strut their stuff on the red carpet from designer gowns to diamond-studded jewelry, our favorite celebrities will be dripping with style, and many of you will watch from home. With visions of bling and more bling dancing through your head, in our celebrity-obsessed society, we want the same designer clothes and expensive cars that Jessica Simpson and Donald Trump own, but in the race to have the very best, is Middle America leaving behind the means to do all of this? Joining me now from New York is Arnold Brown, known as the "Trend Whisperer". He is also co-author of "Future Think." hmm. "How to Think Clearly in a Time of Change."
Arnold, good to see you this morning.
ARNOLD BROWN, AUTHOR "FUTURE THINK": Good morning, Tony.
HARRIS: Trying to understand this -- and Betty is here.
NGUYEN: He's having a hard time.
HARRIS: I'm having a little difficulty with this. And Betty's going to help me out because, you know, she's young and she's hip and understands this culture...
NGUYEN: That's right. No.
HARRIS: And pop culture and everything. So, here's my first question to you, Arnold. Is it that people will watch tonight and see the outrageous jewelry and the bling and the clothes...
NGUYEN: It's not so outrageous?
HARRIS: And will they want to be celebrities themselves? Are they having these visions of dressing like Halle Berry and others?
BROWN: Well, there are two aspects of it. No, 1, people always used to watch the Oscars because they wanted to see what celebrities looked like and then emulate them -- their clothing, hairstyles, and all these other things. What you have today is now what you might call the democratization of celebrity. It's possible now for everyone to become a celebrity, what with reality TV, video cell phones and blogs and all these other things, so people are now watching that to see what they are supposed to look like as celebrities.
HARRIS: What they are suppose -- and then, Betty, for assistance they go to these magazines. These -- am I right, Arnold? They go to the magazines like "People," what is this? "In touch," "Life," and "Style."
NGUYEN: To see what people are wearing, what they're doing. But you know, let me ask you this, I mean, there's all this talk that it's not healthy, but what's so unhealthy about it because a lot of everyday folks don't have the access to the stylists and all this and that, so this is the easiest way to get it.
BROWN: Exactly. I don't think there's necessarily anything unhealthy about wanting to emulate celebrities or be like celebrities because it's aspirational and, you know, one of the great attributes of America has it's been an aspirational society. The problem for celebrities is, is when everybody becomes a celebrity, how do you distinguish yourself as a star, as a real celebrity? So you've got to do something. You've to become more extreme.
NGUYEN: Yeah, over the top.
BROWN: Or what a lot of celebrities are doing is you are try to do something that other people can't do, other celebrities can't do, and that's have an impact on the world.
BROWN: So, you have the Bonos and the Angelina Jolies and people like that.
NGUYEN: The Oprah Winfrey's. Yes. Uh-huh.
HARRIS: Well, Arnold, take us back to the red carpet because this is what you do. You're the "Trend Whisperer."
NGUYEN: Yeah, what does that mean, anyway?
BROWN: I haven't the slightest idea.
HARRIS: Yeah, good for you. Good for you.
NGUYEN: Because we didn't either.
HARRIS: Because I am wondering, are you expected -- you mention that celebrities will feel this need now to differentiate themselves and maybe go a bit over the top. What -- are you expecting to see some pretty outrageous kind of things tonight in dress?
BROWN: Well, I think you will -- I don't know that you'll necessary see outrageous dress.
NGUYEN: No Bjork.
BROWN: But you will constantly see repeated outrageous efforts to stand out from the crowd. Look, when you live in this country where you have millions of millionaires and the things that used to be considered luxury, which were expensive, and they're now available to everybody. Everybody can fly first class or you can buy shares in a private jet or you can buy shares in a luxury vacation home. How do you separate yourself from the millions of others who can now do what you do?
HARRIS: Well, here's the other thing. You mention that it's accessible to everyone. These dresses tonight, what in a week, Betty, two weeks they'll be able at the mall and knockoffs and...
NGUYEN: At discount prices, exactly, and that's something I think that is beneficial from watching the stars and wanting to emulate them is the fact that people can actually go out and get this stuff, and be able to afford it without breaking the budget.
BROWN: Well, the fact is some of these things will be available tomorrow because they get a hold of the designs early, and they do the knockoffs, and they're in the stores the next day. The irony of it is that the stars don't pay for the dresses.
NGUYEN: I know, isn't that crazy? The people who have it all don't have to pay a dime for stuff that people would give their whole week's paycheck for.
BROWN: Exactly. Right.
HARRIS: So Arnold, are you going to be watching tonight?
NGUYEN: He is the "Trend Whisperer". That's what he does.
HARRIS: Yeah, yeah, yeah, but so, what are you going to be watching for?
BROWN: Well, I'm going to be watching Jon Stewart because it came down to a contest between him and me, who was going to host the Oscars.
HARRIS: Nice. Nice.
BROWN: And for some reason they picked him.
NGUYEN: All right. Quickly, what are your picks, best picture?
BROWN: I have to confess, I haven't seen any of them yet.
NGUYEN: Are you serious Mr. Trend Whisperer, himself?
BROWN: The first year I haven't seen any of the movies yet. But I will. I'll get to see them.
NGUYEN: Well, you know what? That's evidence that it's all about the fashion.
HARRIS: Enjoy the show tonight, Arnold. We appreciate your time. Thank you, sir.
BROWN: Thank you.
NGUYEN: Have a good one.
BROWN: All right, bye-bye.
NGUYEN: Well, three movies with gay characters could dominate the Oscars tonight, and that begs the question, is Hollywood out of touch with mainstream America? What do you think? We'll have your email comments. That's next.
NGUYEN: Time to check in with Howard Kurtz in Washington to see what's ahead on CNN's "Reliable Sources."
HOWARD KURTZ, "RELIABLE SOURCES": Good morning, Betty.
Coming up is President Bush being unfairly battered over the new videos involving Hurricane Katrina? David Gergen joins our discussion. We'll also go to New Orleans to talk about whether the national press is abandoning the city now that Mardi Gras is over.
The buzz about tonight's Oscars, are the liberal media helping Hollywood push a bunch of blatantly political films. And Stephen Colbert throws a temper tantrum over me. We'll tell him a thing or two. All next on "Reliable Sources."
NGUYEN: Going to give it to him. All right, Howard. We'll be watching. That's "Reliable Sources" coming up at 10:00 Eastern followed by Wolf Blitzer, "Late Edition" at 11:00 and "On the Story" at 1:00, so you want to stick around as we go in depth with the stories of the day. Look at that camera moving going on.
NGUYEN: Getting me woozy up here.
HARRIS: The seas are a little rough this morning. OK, Oscar picks. Should we do that?
NGUYEN: Let's get right to those Oscar picks.
HARRIS: All right, where's the full screen? Tony's picks, and then Betty's and then Bonnie's. Where are my picks? All right, there you go, that's the list. That's the A-list right there. There's not a problem there. "Crash" best picture, best actor, best performances category, Terrence Howard "Hustle and Flow." Best actress, because she is the best actress in this category Judi Dench.
NGUYEN: Yeah, but that doesn't mean she's necessarily going to win.
HARRIS: Yes, she's going to. She's going to win.
NGUYEN: Take it from me, the winner of the picks last year -- we're going to put mine up. That picture's not me. That looks a little more like Tony right there. There we go. All right, best picture "Brokeback Mountain" best actor Philip Seymour Hoffman from "Capote", and best actress, oh, this was a tight one, but I'm going to go with Reese Witherspoon, "Walk the Line," although Felicity Huffman is a really good actress and she might just take it.
Bonnie what do you think?
SCHNEIDER: Lots of competition this year. It's tough for me to decide as well. Best picture "Crash."
HARRIS: Yeah, good, good, good!
SCHNEIDER: Best actor Joaquin Phoenix, he did his own singing in that. Best actress Charlize Theron, best supporting actor Paul Giamatti, and best supporting actress Frances McDormand. She was also in "North Country." You can tell how many movies I watch.
NGUYEN: Yeah, right.
HARRIS: So, the -- it's that -- what's the Rachel Weisz "Constant Gardener."
NGUYEN: I think she's going to take it for supporting actress.
HARRIS: Got emails here for you this morning. Here's a question for you.
NGUYEN: We've had really good ones this morning too.
HARRIS: Do you think Hollywood is out of step with the mainstream?
NGUYEN: Go ahead, Bonnie.
SCHNEIDER: OK, "Yes, Hollywood has lost touch. I have no interest in hearing a lot of foul language; movies used to be made without the f-word in every other sentence."
That's from Ellen in Orlando.
NGUYEN: And Josatos in Puerto Rico -- oh, watching us all the way from Puerto Rico. He says: "Hollywood is merely reflecting the changes in tolerance and open discussion of subjects that were always considered taboo. There will always be conservative-themed options." HARRIS: And this from Mike: "You don't have enough money to make me go and watch "Brokeback Mountain" regardless of what awards it may, and has won. Hollywood's tastes and mine defiantly differ."
NGUYEN: Are you sure that's from Mike, Tony? Are you sure?
HARRIS: Well, I might add a ditto on that.
NGUYEN: It sounds like someone else I know here.
SCHNEIDER: Who shall remain nameless.
NGUYEN: Yes, who shall remain nameless. Hint, hint.
SCHNEIDER: You saw his picture up.
NGUYEN: So, you want to keep it tuned to CNN for the pre-Oscar coverage starting at 5:30 p.m. Eastern with a special edition of "Show Biz Tonight: Live from the Red Carpet," along with headline news, there. Then at 6:00 you can switch it over to CNN where you'll see Hollywood's coverage of the "Gold Rush," right here on CNN.
HARRIS: And Bonnie is with us now for a final check of weather today.
NGUYEN: That's all that matters, right? The center of the universe, the Oscars tonight. All right, well "Reliable Sources" is next, followed by "Late Edition" and "On the Story," so don't go away.
HARRIS: And Fredricka Whitfield will here all morning with you with the live news updates.
NGUYEN: Have a good day.
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