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AMERICAN MORNING

Port Security; Cruise Ship Crime; McCoffee Taste Test

Aired March 7, 2006 - 07:30   ET

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


SOLEDAD O'BRIEN, CNN ANCHOR: Who's shooting that this morning?
MILES O'BRIEN, CNN ANCHOR: Well, that's our coffee-tasting facility looking back at us at the Time Warner Center there, Columbus Circle.

SOLEDAD O'BRIEN: Oh, it's beautiful.

MILES O'BRIEN: The lower right portion of the screen, can you see us waving? Well, that's right, we don't have a window in here. I forgot. And there we are looking back. There is the crew shooting that shot. We have this Columbus Circle covered, you might say.

SOLEDAD O'BRIEN: Right.

MILES O'BRIEN: Every angle.

SOLEDAD O'BRIEN: Oh, that's beautiful.

MILES O'BRIEN: And we're going to go down on that corner there right by the subway stop and we're going to harass New Yorkers, which is always fun, right?

SOLEDAD O'BRIEN: When you can offer them free coffee, that's not harassment at all. The truth is, at this hour, people will love it. It's a taste test. We're going to give them three choices.

MILES O'BRIEN: You're walking on the street of New York and somebody says here, drink this. What do you do? Do you drink it?

SOLEDAD O'BRIEN: Absolutely.

MILES O'BRIEN: I move on. I move . . .

SOLEDAD O'BRIEN: It's free coffee.

MILES O'BRIEN: I move on.

SOLEDAD O'BRIEN: Oh, no, you haven't lived here long enough to know it's a phoebe. Come on, man, they'll love it. They'll love it.

MILES O'BRIEN: It will just be interesting to see who's going to go for this idea.

SOLEDAD O'BRIEN: I bet you $5 everybody.

MILES O'BRIEN: The idea is, McDonald's is coming up with -- yes, we'll do a fiver.

SOLEDAD O'BRIEN: Everybody. You will have not one person turn you down.

MILES O'BRIEN: Not one person. That's a bet.

SOLEDAD O'BRIEN: Unless they're not a coffee drinker.

MILES O'BRIEN: All right, that's fine. That's reasonable.

SOLEDAD O'BRIEN: McDonald's. Who are the other two choices? Dunkin' Donuts

MILES O'BRIEN: We're going to do Dunkin' and Burger King. And the reason we didn't do Starbucks is, number one, it's so distinctive, number two, it's a different price point.

SOLEDAD O'BRIEN: Yes, so . . .

MILES O'BRIEN: So we're kind of doing in this price point. We're going to see what you think about these coffees, because McDonald's is, you know, kind of upgrading.

SOLEDAD O'BRIEN: We're going to do our own here, too.

MILES O'BRIEN: Of course.

SOLEDAD O'BRIEN: Yes.

MILES O'BRIEN: Of course, because we certainly love the coffee.

SOLEDAD O'BRIEN: That's ahead.

First, though, a look at the news this morning. Carol's got that.

Hey, Carol, good morning.

CAROL COSTELLO, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Good morning.

Good morning to all of you.

We've got some new images to show you this morning of hostages being held in Iraq. The Arabic network al-Jazeera airs a 25 second video, shows a British citizen and two Canadian. A fourth man abducted with the team, an American, is not shown on this tape. In the meantime, new attacks in Iraq. At least four people were killed in a series of car bomb attacks and shootings.

South Dakota now at the center of abortion battle. Its governor signed an abortion ban into law, but opponents have three months to collect nearly 17,000 signatures to delay the law. If not, it will go into effect in July. Both sides gearing up for a major legal fight.

Take a look at this woman. She's 75 years old and she's accused of armed robbery. The woman managed to get away with about $5,000. It turned out the gun she used wasn't even loaded. She led police on a short 40-mile-per-hour chase. She's now being held on $100,000 bond. Her husband apparently can't afford the bail. The woman says she acted to help people who are starving to death and nobody cares about hem.

And rocker Rod Stewart losing a battle with a Las Vegas casino. A federal judge has ordered him to pay $3 million after a canceled show back in December of 2000. Stewart apparently missed the show because of throat surgery. His law says they will appeal the verdict. Hard to imagine why the judge would decide that way when you're having throat surgery it's not like you can sing.

MILES O'BRIEN: That would be a problem, yes. That would slow down the singing ability, wouldn't it?

COSTELLO: It certainly would. We'll keep following that one.

MILES O'BRIEN: We will keep you posted. Thank you very much.

There may be a way to bridge the gulf on that controversial ports deal. Some Republicans in Congress say the solution is allowing a U.S. firm to serve as a subcontractor of the United Arab Emirates base ports operator. No matter how the deal is ultimately structured, the U.S. government would retain control of port security in America. It's an important point. No matter what, the U.S. would be in charge of the security. But those who suggest Dubai is not tough on terrorism or does not take the security issues seriously consider this, a tour of the port of Dubai seen only here on CNN. Wolf Blitzer is there.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

WOLF BLITZER, CNN CORRESPONDENT, (voice over): It's state-of- the-art technology designed to see through heavy metal containers. It can detect illegal drugs and contraband weapons and ammunition. It can also detect chemicals and biological agents. And perhaps, most important, it can detect nuclear equipment as well.

If there were, God forbid, a radiological bomb inside a container, they would be able to determine this?

AHMED BUTTI, DIR. GENERAL DUBAI CUSTOMS: Absolutely. Yes.

BLITZER: They would see that?

BUTTI: Yes.

BLITZER: This hand-held piece of equipment can detect radiation levels.

BUTTI: We have the -- also the machine that will trigger that.

BLITZER: Ahmad Butti is in charge of Dubai customs. During an exclusive behind-the-scenes tour, he proudly showed off the technology, the hardware and the software that are already used in Dubai, and he spoke of the even more sophisticated equipment now on the way that could detect a dirty bomb.

BUTTI: We are in the process right now in working together with Department of Energy of establishing all our gates to put the radiation machine to detect that and we have team from our inspectors already they are in -- on the states right now to be trained how to operate these machines.

BLITZER: This multimillion dollar mobile scanner can literally see inside the containers. Highly trained operators can focus in on even the smallest details. The same can be done inside this structure. Here in Dubai, when it comes to security and checking what's inside containers, they say they are not worried about politically incorrect ethnic profiling.

What percentage would you say are actually physically inspected?

BUTTI: Some from certain countries, a hundred percent sometimes.

BLITZER: Oh really?

BUTTI: Some countries, no, 30. Some countries, 20. It depends where it's coming from. It depends the companies.

BLITZER: How suspicious it is?

BUTTI: Absolutely.

BLITZER: He won't say which countries have everything inspected, through presumably this Iranian ship loaded with Iranian cargo, which we drove by, would be a prime target for a thorough inspection.

BUTTI: Our country, it's based on commercial. Based on the trade. Based on the tourism. So we are division of (INAUDIBLE) to develop the tourism and the commerc (ph) and the finance (INAUDIBLE). You cannot have these things if you don't have a proper security.

BLITZER: Some 1,600 people work for Dubai customs. Ahmad Butti says every one undergoes a thorough background check.

MOHAMMED SHARAF: They tell them that we have inspected your box, we have seen . . .

BLITZER: Mohammed Sharaf is the chief executive officer of Dubai Ports World, the firm seeking to take over operations at six major U.S. ports.

How often do they -- do they find anything in the container that's dangerous?

SHARAF: Well, they don't tell us. They just tell us, OK, stop the box and send it to their facility. What's in there, they don't tell us, they just inspect it the way that they want to.

BLITZER: Wolf Blitzer, CNN, Dubai.

(END VIDEOTAPE) MILES O'BRIEN: For the latest updates, a little business of analysis on today's top stories, we invite you to check out "The Situation Room." Wolf has taken his room with him to Dubai today starting at 4:00 p.m. Eastern. A special edition. You don't want to miss it. See it only here on CNN.

And you'll only see Chad Myers here on CNN, as a matter of fact, right?

(WEATHER REPORT)

SOLEDAD O'BRIEN: Can you imagine if you were the victim of a violent crime on a cruise ship? You're on vacation and you're attacked. And then when you go and complain, authorities basically do nothing about it because they say, well, you know, it happened at sea, the jurisdiction is sort of murky. This morning we're going to talk to a woman who says that exact thing happened to her and now she's testifying before Congress.

MILES O'BRIEN: Interesting. We will look forward to that.

Also, a bizarre trial in France. A tennis dad accused of poisoning his daughter's opponents.

SOLEDAD O'BRIEN: And the survival rate for U.S. troops who are wounded, higher than it's ever been. And 90 percent now wounded and survive. It's great news. The question, though, is why. This morning, Kelly Wallace takes us to the only army medic school in the country. That's ahead. Stay with us.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SOLEDAD O'BRIEN: In the past three years, 28 passengers have disappeared from cruise ships, nearly 200 incidents of sexual misconduct have been reported. Cruise ship safety is going to get a hearing on Capitol Hill today. Janet Kelly is among those testifying. She was sexually assaulted on a cruise to Mexico six years ago and she joins us from Washington this morning.

Miss Kelly, thanks for talking with us. Certainly appreciate your time and your story is really pretty awful so we're grateful that you're going to kind of share some of the details with us.

You went on a cruise. You had had a very tough time. Your 18- year-old daughter had died. Your husband had suffered a heart attack. He survived the heart attack. And you wanted to kind of get away, travel with some neighbors and just take a little bit of a break. The last night of your cruise, something really horrible happened. What happened?

JANET KELLY, SEXUALLY ASSAULTED ON CRUISE: Yes. It was a -- you know, we had been beat up pretty good and we went to take -- you know, I had an opportunity to go on a cruise with some neighbors. And on the last night of the cruise, it was in between the show and dinner, I had a drink at the bar and there was a drug put in it and the crew member took me to a location marked for crew members only and sexually assaulted me.

SOLEDAD O'BRIEN: What do you remember of that night? I mean, did you see him put the drug in?

KELLY: No.

SOLEDAD O'BRIEN: Were you awake when you were being assaulted . . .

KELLY: Yes.

SOLEDAD O'BRIEN: Or were you knocked out?

KELLY: No. He, you know what, I did not see him put, you know, obviously, did not see him put the drug in my drink. So -- but -- and what happened is the best way I can describe it is, I was in like a semi-unconscious state, you know. I mean you're just like in a dream state and I just didn't have all my bearings about me. I wasn't able to stop it, unfortunately.

SOLEDAD O'BRIEN: So after a horrible time in your life, you go on a cruise to relax, I mean, and then this happens.

KELLY: Yes.

SOLEDAD O'BRIEN: And, of course, it's the last night on the cruise. So what did you do?

KELLY: Well, and that's the thing. The last night. And this is -- a lot of times this is when these crimes happen is the last night. I think that there -- you know, it's very premeditated. And I woke up, I was really disorientated. I had to catch a plane. You know, you've been traumatized. If I could of, I just would have crawled underneath the carpet. It was just such a horrible experience. I was frightened. I feared for my safety. I just wanted off of the ship.

SOLEDAD O'BRIEN: But that's -- but you didn't just get off the ship. You actually went to the authorities when, you know, when you sort of finally got it together.

KELLY: I did.

SOLEDAD O'BRIEN: Pretty quickly. And in California where you're from and they did a rape test on you to determine, in fact, if you had been raped and sort of gather some evidence. What happened?

KELLY: Well, actually, I'm in Arizona.

SOLEDAD O'BRIEN: Oh, I'm sorry.

KELLY: So it was a little bit different. Yes, I had to catch a plane that morning and the whole thing was very traumatic. I mean I had a major meltdown at the airport. It was really not pretty. And then I finally got home. You know, I had got a hold of my best friend and asked for advice because I was just really in a panic-stricken state. And she said go get on the plane and go home and let's take it from there and I did. I went to the hospital, reported it and completely cooperated with the authorities.

SOLEDAD O'BRIEN: And the authorities, you say, in some ways have let you down. It went back and forth with the FBI.

KELLY: You betcha.

SOLEDAD O'BRIEN: No one sort of picked up the ball and ran with it and helped you, did they?

KELLY: You know what, you know, I was just really disenchanted with the whole -- the way the system worked for me, and that's one of the reasons why I'm speaking out today because I really hope that we can fix what's broken here because I didn't feel like I had justice. And I'm really hoping by coming and speaking today at Congress that they can fix it so that the next guy does get justice because it just really wasn't right how it was handled. The crew member that did this to me was actually re-employed.

SOLEDAD O'BRIEN: He was fired and then hired by another cruise liner.

KELLY: Correct.

SOLEDAD O'BRIEN: Let me read to you a little bit of what the international -- the president of the International Council of Cruise Lines says. His name is Michael Crye. And he says, "cruising is one of the safest vacations available with an outstanding record that demonstrates the industry's commitment to safety and security. The cruise lines cooperated with Congress in gathering these statistics to further demonstrate that cruising is an exceptionally safe vacation."

When you read and hear that, what do you say to him?

KELLY: Yes. No, no, no, no, no. There's really a breakdown of communication between, in my case, and I think that this still happens as we're seeing on the TV all the time, people are disappearing. I think there's a breakdown of communication between the FBI and the cruise lines as to what is being reported. There was no main database, you know, where terminated employees can get in there and get their name in there where they're all reporting to so that, you know, each cruise line, each individual cruise line is getting the same information.

SOLEDAD O'BRIEN: Well, as we mentioned, those hearings begin in Congress today.

KELLY: Yes.

SOLEDAD O'BRIEN: Janet Kelly, thank you for talking with us this morning. We certainly appreciate it.

KELLY: Oh, you're welcome. You're very welcome.

SOLEDAD O'BRIEN: Thank you.

KELLY: Thank you. SOLEDAD O'BRIEN: Business news is up next and Andy's got that.

Andy, what do you have for us?

ANDY SERWER, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Soledad, an auto giant fesses up to bribery.

Plus, if you're shopping for a new car and looking for some incentives, don't try the usual suspects. We'll explain coming up next on AMERICAN MORNING.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SOLEDAD O'BRIEN: Business news to talk about. A bribery scandal at DiamlerChrysler.

MILES O'BRIEN: A scandal.

SERWER: Yes, when you put it that way, Soledad, how can we resist?

SOLEDAD O'BRIEN: That sounds better, doesn't it?

SERWER: Yes.

MILES O'BRIEN: The 2006 Chrysler scandal.

SOLEDAD O'BRIEN: Wow.

SERWER: Yes.

MILES O'BRIEN: Yes.

SERWER: Well, this company has been coping with this questions of scandal for quite a while now and they've been investigated by the Securities and Exchange Commission and the Department of Justice here in the United States. Obviously a German-American company. Just today, though, they are announcing that several employees are being dismissed or fired for paying bribes to officials in Africa, Asia, and Eastern Europe. And it's a . . .

SOLEDAD O'BRIEN: For what? Bribing them to do what?

SERWER: Well, you know, they were involved in Iraqi Oil for Food scandal where they paid Iraqi officials money and so presumably these Iraqi officials would buy DiamlerChrysler products, trucks, cars and trucks in Iraq. And this is the same sort of thing. And, you know what's interesting, when you talk to people who do business overseas, they'll tell you, well, there's a thin line between a bribe and just getting a deal done, which would be sort of like a fee to do business in a country. That can be a bribe. And interestingly, in Germany, as recently as 1997, bribes were so legal that they were tax deductible. That is no longer the case. And, in fact, they have new rules . . .

SOLEDAD O'BRIEN: Hard to deny if you've listed it on your tax return, isn't it? SERWER: Right. Yes. Paid bribe to Indonesia official, $5 million. That's a tough one indeed.

Want to do another little car segment here and talk about incentives. You know, U.S. automakers have been relying on incentives for years and they've really hurt profits. They've been weaning themselves from them. In fact, just lowering sticker prices, which still hurts profits but it's a little less variable. Now foreign automakers are doing the same thing. Japanese and Koreans and Germans have been playing the incentive games. So you can see here, their incentives in February versus last February, February of '05, you can see the foreign automakers up a lot more than the U.S.

MILES O'BRIEN: Why are they playing that game? They have cars that are selling well?

SERWER: Well, not all of them are.

MILES O'BRIEN: Oh, OK.

SERWER: And like, for instance, Mercedes, and so they've been doing that just to get market share. That's what it's all about. Then you don't make any money.

MILES O'BRIEN: But go for the market share?

SERWER: Yes.

SOLEDAD O'BRIEN: Good to advertise.

SERWER: Yes.

SOLEDAD O'BRIEN: Get your name out there.

All right, Andy, thank you.

SERWER: Thank you.

MILES O'BRIEN: So how do you like your coffee?

SOLEDAD O'BRIEN: A little milk, no sugar.

MILES O'BRIEN: A little milk, no sure.

What do you like?

SERWER: A couple of shots of espresso.

MILES O'BRIEN: You're like a red eye guy.

SOLEDAD O'BRIEN: Is that why you're like kicking (ph) . . .

MILES O'BRIEN: Are you a Starbucks guy?

SERWER: Yes, I am. I like Starbucks coffee.

SOLEDAD O'BRIEN: I love Dunkin' Donuts coffee.

MILES O'BRIEN: Dunkin' Donuts.

SOLEDAD O'BRIEN: But I drink Starbucks.

MILES O'BRIEN: There is a new entry into this milieu, coffee milieu, OK, which you should be aware of. And I don't know if you say milieu at McDonald's what that's going to get you.

SERWER: Give me a cup of joe is what you say.

SOLEDAD O'BRIEN: A whole lot of nothing is what it's going to get you.

SERWER: Huh? Say what?

MILES O'BRIEN: Say what is right.

SOLEDAD O'BRIEN: Do you want the number one or the number two?

SERWER: Yes, value coffee.

MILES O'BRIEN: In any case, McDonald's has gone upscale in its coffee. Of course, the right temperature. They've already gone through that hurdle. But they're doing the gourmet thing. And here's Jeanne Moos with a little taste test.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

JEANNE MOOS, CNN CORRESPONDENT, (voice over): Imagine instead of ordering a Big Mac, walking into McDonald's and asking for a smooth or bold, move over Starbucks, here comes gourmet McCoffee.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: McCoffee.

MOOS: You know the premium coffee war is heating up when it trickles down to McDonald's.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: That's good. I like that.

MOOS: McDonald's.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Are you serious?

MOOS: In an unscientific, totally amateur taste test . . .

Choice number one.

We gave folks three kinds of coffee.

Down the hatch, ladies.

Without telling them what was going down the hatch.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The first one, what did I drink?

MOOS: You drank Dunkin' Donuts, Starbucks, McDonald's new premium.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Oh.

MOOS: Groan all you want.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I prefer this one.

MOOS: It's McDonald's.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Really? Aw.

MOOS: Fooled even the fussy French.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: This one would be may the better one.

MOOS: McDonald's.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: My goodness.

MOOS: It's natural to think of McDonald's as the coffee of last resort. Now, they've got a new gourmet supplier, Gavina and Sons has been around for over a century. OK, so the new McDonald's brew isn't as strong as Starbucks.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: This has got more kick.

MOOS: But Starbucks took a beating in our survey.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It tastes tart. Yes, cheap.

MOOS: Cheap?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Aw.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I don't like the smell on this, but I'll take it.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: A harsh roast.

MOOS: But the same lady also roasted McDonald's.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: This is a little watery. This needs a little help.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Horrible.

MOOS: You hated the new premium McDonald's.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Of course I did.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I think this one's the best. That's a second and that's the worst.

MOOS: You like McDonald's coffee better than Starbucks.

Our survey ended in a dead heat of the 30 or so people who swigged sample after sample.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Am I going to have a colonoscopy or something? OK.

MOOS: A third preferred Dunkin' Donuts. A third preferred Starbucks and a third preferred McDonald's. McDonald's will still be the cheapest of the three.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Are they going to add transfats to that like they do with their french fries?

MOOS: Who needs transfats when you only have eyes for caffeine.

Is that what happens when you get caffeinated?

Jeanne Moos, CNN, New York.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

SOLEDAD O'BRIEN: He's putting that on a little bit.

MILES O'BRIEN: How did he do that? How did he do that?

SERWER: (INAUDIBLE) that guy (INAUDIBLE).

SOLEDAD O'BRIEN: Well, you'll see, we brought the little coffee out.

MILES O'BRIEN: We have a, b, c. We have no idea what is in a, b, c, but we do know it is, one of them is McDonald's, one of them is Burger King, one of them is Dunkin'.

SOLEDAD O'BRIEN: I bet I know which Dunkin' is because Dunkin' is what I drink.

MILES O'BRIEN: Well, Dunkin', yes.

SERWER: This is hard. This is hard. This is not like Coke and Pepsi.

SOLEDAD O'BRIEN: So what we're going to do is do our own little taste test.

MILES O'BRIEN: No, I just did a quick sample and it's not as obvious as I thought it would be.

SOLEDAD O'BRIEN: No, I wouldn't necessarily think that. You take milk in your coffee?

MILES O'BRIEN: The old McDonald's stuff I thought had a bad after-taste.

SOLEDAD O'BRIEN: So we're going to do a taste test here and then you're going to go out and query some New Yorkers as well. Believe me, they're going to love it. Free coffee.

SERWER: We start at this end.

MILES O'BRIEN: I'm telling you.

SOLEDAD O'BRIEN: Oh, there it is. Right here.

MILES O'BRIEN: Yes.

SOLEDAD O'BRIEN: Look, look, she's loving it. She's tasting it. She's involved.

MILES O'BRIEN: What do you think? What do you think? Can she hear me?

SOLEDAD O'BRIEN: I don't think she can hear you. I think he's just --

MILES O'BRIEN: Oh, they don't have that rigged up.

SOLEDAD O'BRIEN: But she's sipping it. That's her third sip that I've seen. We've got the results of that taste test and our taste test coming up in the next hour.

MILES O'BRIEN: I can tell you, I think I know what B is. I'm not going to say.

SOLEDAD O'BRIEN: Really?

MILES O'BRIEN: All right. So, anyway, we will be back. We will give you our best assessment. Of course, it is a subjective thing. You might want to do your own test. But, as a matter of fact, join along at home. Go get some coffee and join along.

Anyway, top stories after a break. Stay with us.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

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