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Immigration Battle; War Crimes & Punishment; Hope & Healing

Aired March 28, 2006 - 07:30   ET


JOHN ROBERTS, CNN ANCHOR: Look at that. Passions on both sides of the issues. We'll be talking with one gentleman who's very passionate about this whole immigration issue, CNN's own Lou Dobbs, coming up very soon.
SOLEDAD O'BRIEN, CNN ANCHOR: Also this morning, we're talking about a medical question. How do your emotions affect how you're going to do medically? Dana Reeve, one project she did just months before she died took part in this documentary. The producer of the documentary said she wasn't a believer all when she started the project. We'll talk to that producer this morning not only about Dana Reeve and her commitment to the project, but also if she, the producer, changed her mind, too.

ROBERTS: Yes. Apparently a big connection between the way you feel mentally and physically.

O'BRIEN: Alternative medicine. It's really making some inroads into traditional medicine as well.

All that ahead this morning. First, though, Carol with an update on the top stories.

Hey, Carol.


Good morning to all of you.

Charles Taylor, one of the most wanted criminals in the world, has simply disappeared. CNN's working to get more details for you on this developing story. Taylor is the former Liberian president and war lord. He's wanted by the U.N. backed war crimes tribunal for crimes against humanity. The official word is that Taylor disappeared. But we're hearing that a number of his supporters have been detained amid fears they may have staged an armed uprising.

In the Mid East, a rocket attack as Israelis vote for a new government. Two people killed in southern Israel. Islamic Jihad claims responsibility for the attack. How the next Israeli parliament deals with hardline Palestinian government is a key issue for the voters today. The new government will decide the future of the Mid East peace talks.

Interest rates expected to go up again. New Fed Chief Ben Bernanke is presiding over his first meeting with the interest rate committee. He's expected to raise interest rates to 4.75 percent. This would be the 15th straight increase since mid 2004.

Loneliness may be a contributing factor to high blood pressure. A new study shows lonely people had pressure readings up to 30 points higher than those surrounded by friends or family. Researchers call this result stunning. They say go out, volunteer, and make yourself useful.

But not like this guy. The man accused of sparking that brawl at the Pistons Pacers game last year is now appealing. John Green was convicted of assault for punching Ron Artest. Green was also the one who threw the cup that started the whole thing but the judge dropped that charge. If the conviction sticks, Green will face up to 93 days in jail and a $500 fine. So it took long enough and it's not resolved yet.

O'BRIEN: Yes, can you believe that it's been going on for such a long time.


O'BRIEN: All right, Carol, thank you.

Time to check the weather. Chad's got that for us.

Good morning, Chad.


O'BRIEN: Well, hundreds of protests involving hundreds of thousands of protesters in France. Students and union workers are upset over an employment plan that calls for fewer restrictions on firing younger workers. Already trains and subways have been disrupted while extra security is being prepared for any possible violence. CNN's Paula Hancocks is live for us in Paris this morning.

Paula, good morning.

It looks like we're having some technical difficulties with Paula's live shot. We'll see if we can get that up in just a moment.

Let's turn and talk a little bit about immigration reform, which is topping the agenda on Capitol Hill. John's got that.

ROBERTS: All right. Thanks very much, Soledad.

On the streets of several major U.S. cities as well, immigrants, legal and illegal, and their supporters protested a House bill that would make being in the country illegally a felony. A Senate Judiciary Committee proposal is far more to their liking. CNN's Lou Dobbs has followed this issue very closely. His "Broken Borders" series looks at immigration policy in the United States and he joins us now from Sussex, New Jersey.

Good morning to you, Lou.

LOU DOBBS, CNN'S "LOU DOBBS TONIGHT": Good morning, John. ROBERTS: Let me quickly frame out what passed through the Senate Judiciary Committee yesterday and is going to be taken up by the full Senate today. The major controversial provision of this is a guest worker program that would allow illegal or undocumented immigrants to seek residency status after being in the country for six years and paying a couple of thousand dollars in fines. What's your position on the bill, Lou?

DOBBS: My position on what the Senate is doing is that it's an amnesty program. It is putting at least 11, as many as 20 million people to the front of the line. We have a backlog of legal immigrants to this country of three million awaiting naturalization and visas. It is an unconscionable act that pits the lowest paid two million Hispanic workers in this country against illegal predominantly Hispanic illegal aliens. As demonstrated in a study by the Pew Hispanic Center.

This is unconscionable. It is a sellout. Something we're used to seeing on the part of this Congress and this administration, frankly. It's a sellout to corporate interest and illegal employers who should be being punished, not given a free pass. Because middle class, hard working men and women and their families are paying the price for this.


Lou, does it really put them to the front of the line? Because it does stipulate that they have to wait at least six years.

DOBBS: It absolutely does and puts them on a path to citizenship. And in any other term -- John, you've covered Washington. You know what this is. This is a sham. This is oviscation (ph) and it's a device. And it is unconscionable what both the administration and Congress have done in terms of border security and what they're now attempting to do with the guest worker program.

A guest worker program has not worked anywhere in the world. It won't work here.

ROBERTS: Does the Sensenbrenner bill, which would criminalize all undocumented immigrants in this country and also provide for construction of a 700-mile fence along the border, does that meet with your criteria for what an immigration reform bill should look like?

DOBBS: Well, frankly, no, John, it does not. But it is the best attempt at at least moving toward enforcement of our borders and security at our borers.

Look, we can't reform -- let's all be really honest about this. We can't reform immigration in this country if we can't control immigration. And we can only control immigration if we control and secure our borders. And this is a ridiculous attempt on both the parts of the Republicans and the Democrats. Democrats seeking votes, the Republicans seeking cheap labor they can continue to exploit in corporate America instead of dealing with the real issue. Our ports are absolutely vulnerable to a terrorist attack. Only 1 percent of the cargo at most is screened for radiation. A little over 5 percent is being inspected. Our borders, three million illegal aliens crossed our borders last year.

You just reported that two -- going through ports of entry where we have control of the border, the few ports of entry we have on our northern and southern borders, they've got material through, according to the General Accountability Office, for two dirty bombs. At what point do we just acknowledge that the Homeland Security Department is a joke and that this Congress is in the pockets of the corporate interest and middle class America, working men and women in this country, are simply without representation and absolutely still, four and a half years after September 11th, vulnerable to terrorist attack?

ROBERTS: Lou, over the last for our five days, hundreds of thousands of people on the streets of American cities protesting against the Sensenbrenner bill. One of those people who joined the protest in Los Angeles yesterday was the mayor, Antonio Villaraigosa. Let's take a quick listen to what he had to say to the crowd yesterday.


MAYOR ANTONIO VILLARAIGOSA, LOS ANGELES: And we say to Sensenbrenner, there are no illegal here today. The only thing illegal is a proposal that would demonize and criminalize 11 million people.


ROBERTS: So Villaraigosa there saying, in essence, there is no such thing as an illegal immigrant in the city of Los Angeles. The only thing illegal is the bill before the House and maybe before the Senate to try to criminalize being an immigrant in this country who has come over without documents. What's your response to what he said?

DOBBS: Well, my reaction to the mayor is, first, he needs to be very careful when he's pandering his rhetoric, heated and appropriate, I guess, for a politician who doesn't want to be concerned about either border security or rational and humane immigration policies. The mayor later was begging those -- and, remember, he's talking to high school students on Cesar Chavez Day.

Cesar Chavez, 30 years ago -- and, John, I covered the border with Mexico. Cesar Chavez was -- no one has ever worked harder for migrant rights than Cesar Chavez, creating the United Farm Workers Union. He was absolutely opposed to illegal immigration because Cesar Chavez understood that for the United Farm Workers to make it, and for migrant workers and Hispanic workers at the lowest end of this wage chain in this country, they had to have protection against illegal immigration because that is the way in which employers exploit them and keep their wages down.

Illegal immigration is costing this country at least a hundred billion dollars a year in depressed wages, social costs, the cost of incarcerating. Just about a third of our prison system is made up of illegal aliens. And to do this on Cesar Chavez Day I think is just unconscionable and I think the mayor owes Cesar Chavez's memory an apology. And those children, half of whom will drop out in high school -- in southern California half of Hispanics drop out of high school -- they should be in school, not out demonstrating on an issue that they clearly don't understand, nor which their political leaders are providing great standards or solutions.

ROBERTS: Well, big debate coming up on this today in the Senate. I know, Lou, that you're going to continue to watch the story.

DOBBS: Absolutely.

ROBERTS: And tomorrow, by the way, Lou Dobbs lands in Mexico for a summit between the U.S., Canada and Mexico. Immigration will be one of the topics there. Three leaders plus Lou live from Mexico all week. That's starting tomorrow at 6:00 Eastern.

O'BRIEN: The Supreme Court's about to consider a landmark case and one that could have far-reaching implications. At issue is President Bush's powers to create war crimes tribunals for Guantanamo prisoners. Here CNN Senior Pentagon Correspondent Jamie McIntyre.

JAMIE MCINTYRE, CNN CORRESPONDENT, (voice over): Osama bin Laden's alleged bodyguard and driver, Salim Ahmad Hamdan, is challenging the constitutionality of U.S. military tribunals. They were authorized by President Bush to try terrorist suspects after September 11th. The primary argument, designating suspects as enemy combatants and trying them outside the U.S. legal system violates the fundamental doctrine of separation of powers.

LT. CMDR. CHARLES SWIFT, ATTORNEY FOR SALIM AHMED HAMDAN: In this particular conflict, the president has asserted that he has basically a blank check to do whatever he deems necessary and we disagree with that.

MCINTYRE: Up to 490 suspected al Qaeda and Taliban prisoners now at the U.S. military base at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, 10 people, including Hamdan, face charges before a military commission. Defense attorneys and human rights groups say the commissions are fundamentally unfair. The administration argues the president is simply acting as a war-time commander in chief and that commission benefit from World War II precedent.

DAVID RIVKIN, FORMER JUSTICE DEPARTMENT ATTORNEY: It's not the presidential power's unlimited, but he is entitled to reasonable latitude. If they were to go -- Hamdan's lawyers in 81 of possible theories, it would be an unprecedented denial of the president's prerogative.

MCINTYRE: Other significant issues include whether Guantanamo prisoners can enforce Geneva Conventions protections in U.S. courts and whether a new law, the Detainee Treatment Act, just enacted by Congress last year, essentially renders the whole case moot. The Hamdan case has the potential of being a landmark ruling on the limits of presidential power. It will be heard by eight of the nine justices because Chief Justice John Roberts has recused himself because he was part of a three-judge panel that ruled against Hamdan. A decision in this case is expected later this summer.

Jamie McIntyre, CNN, the Pentagon.


O'BRIEN: Andy's "Minding Your Business" just ahead on AMERICAN MORNING.

What do you have for us?

ANDY SERWER, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Soledad, I'm going to tell you about the fastest way to get to the airport this morning. It's expensive, but is it worth it? We'll let you decide, coming up next on AMERICAN MORNING.


O'BRIEN: Before the break, Andy teased us with the best way to get to the airport, what we would pay.

ROBERTS: Let's guess. Let's guess.

SERWER: Chopper. Got to be. It's got to be the helicopter. It's the fastest way to get to the airport. Of course, you got to be able to fork over a hundred bucks plus to do this. Interesting story. It's the nation's first commuter helicopter line in more than two decades. Open for business yesterday in New York City. Going from Wall Street to JFK Airport. The cost is -- $139. Not so bad if you got it.

ROBERTS: You know, it's probably comparable to a private car service from that area to that airport.

O'BRIEN: Yes, but you can go to JFL for $40 from Manhattan.

SERWER: It's $45, the flat rate in the Yellow Cabs. Most car services, $50 to $100 plus. But, you know, if you've got the money -- you see they're going from Wall Street where the people have the money.

O'BRIEN: Actually it's so fast, right? What is it, a less than a 10 minute ride?

SERWER: Yes. And it's eight minutes actually to get out there. And actually the last commuter line was one that closed down in 1979. There was a fatal crash on top of the then Pan Am building in 1977. A bunch of people lost their lives. So good luck to these guys opening up this business and it will be interesting to see.

Another story we want to tell you about concerning the airline business is websites. These airlines are struggling to stay in business. Meanwhile, they're selling more and more stuff, and that may be putting it politely, on their websites. Offering, you know, the watches, the t-shirts, the beer mugs, the styrofoam . . .

O'BRIEN: An on-time arrival.

SERWER: Right. How about just making the planes run on . . .

O'BRIEN: I'd pay $10 for that. I really would.

SERWER: Yes, I mean, you know, it's pretty amazing. JetBlue is going to be doing a spa, they're going to be opening pretty soon. Just make the planes work on time, right?

O'BRIEN: I just want to get there on time, yes.

ROBERTS: You just want to have a seat, you want to leave on time.

SERWER: Cheap tickets, on time. Just a few basics, right?

O'BRIEN: Right, right, right. Have your seat. Oh, and no surly flight attendants and people at the desk being nice, too.

SERWER: Right. That's asking a lot.


O'BRIEN: I'd pay $20 for that.

ROBERTS: It's much easier to just sell stuff.

O'BRIEN: Right. Get a t-shirt.

SERWER: Right.

O'BRIEN: Thanks, Andy.

SERWER: You're welcome.

O'BRIEN: The Princeton Review is out with its annual list of colleges that give you the best bang for your buck. We're going to tell you which schools, both private and public, top that list, just ahead this morning.

Coming up next, one of Dana Reeve's final projects. A documentary on the connection between you your emotions and your health. We'll take a closer look ahead on AMERICAN MORNING. We're back in a moment.


O'BRIEN: Just three months before she died, Dana Reeve taped the introduction to a PBS documentary titled "The New Medicine." It's all about hope and healing.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) DANA REEVE, "THE NEW MEDICINE," PBS: Your emotional state has a tremendous amount to do with sickness, health, and well-being. For years my husband and I lived on and because of hope. Hope continues to give me the mental strength to carry on. But also, I'm convinced hope very directly influences my physical health.


O'BRIEN: Dana Reeve died earlier this month. The documentary premiers on Wednesday on PBS and Muffie Meyer is the producer and the director of "The New Medicine." She's in Washington.

Nice to see you, Muffie. Thank you for talking with us this morning.

MUFFIE MEYER, "THE NEW MEDICINE": Hi. Good morning, Soledad. It's nice to be here.

O'BRIEN: Thank you very much.

You did that interview three months before Dana Reeve died. How did she seem to you? She looks terrific in that piece that we showed in that clip.

MEYER: She seemed just like she looked. She was full of energy. Very cheerful. I think that she was filled with hope that she would be a survivor.

O'BRIEN: Let's talk more about hope, because she uses that word a lot and she's used it a lot even before this documentary. You make a distinction between hope and sort of being optimistic. What's the difference?

MEYER: I think that the difference is that an optimist sort of looks at the world and says, everything's going to be OK. But as we all known, we're grown-ups, sometimes things aren't OK. And what hope is, is hope sees all the pitfalls and all the possible stumbling blocks and problems and yet, with all that, it also sees a path, a way to recovery, to a better future, to, you know, possible recovery.

O'BRIEN: Hope is one of the emotions that you investigate as you were working on this documentary talking about the new medicine. What did you find in your documentary?

MEYER: One of the most interesting things I found was the fact that people can make a difference. What's really is important is that people find doctors who can speak with them, above all listen to them and partner with them in their health and in their disease, if they happen to have one. And what all of us can do is demand that we have a doctor who will do that. And we can. There are a lot of doctors out there, and if you don't have a doctor who will listen to you and partner with you, look somewhere else because it's really important to your health. It's not just nicey, nicey bedside manner, it's literally, clinically important.

O'BRIEN: New medicine refers to the sort of different approach, doctors treating you as a whole patient, as you point out, not just, you know, your one disease. Are you seeing a change, do you think?

MEYER: Yes. We traveled all over the country and it was amazing. There are a lot of doctors who are both practicing and teaching in this way where they really spend time with their patients and listen to their patients. We encountered a group of philanthropists, called the Brave Well Collaborative, who are a bunch of people who are pooling their funds to try and make a difference in medicine. WebMD is starting -- I believe they've launched an integrative medicine piece of their website for both doctors and patients. And all over the place, we've found patients who are talking with their pocketbooks and trying to find a kind of holistic medicine. A medicine where a doctor will look at them not as just a diseased breast or something like that, a diseased heart, but as a whole person.

O'BRIEN: Dana Reeve, back to her for a moment. You know, she has had always such an incredibly hopeful, strong attitude. It must be such a shock to you -- must have been when she died.

MEYER: It was completely shocking. I mean, I didn't know her. I had met her only at the time that we were doing the filming and she just seemed so strong and not sick. So it was -- the morning I heard I just -- like the whole rest of the country, I was in shock.

O'BRIEN: I know you've said that you were sort of a skeptic when you began the project. In light of what you know now, has that changed?

MEYER: Yes. It's interesting. I started out being very skeptical, very -- I have my antenna out against stuff that seems New Agey that doesn't seem to have a scientific basis that promises miracle cures. And what I found is, is that a lot of some modalities haven't been proved yet. But what I found is that there's an enormous amount of really good, hard science behind things like the idea that stress can affect your health and emotions can affect your health.

O'BRIEN: Things have changed for you then?


O'BRIEN: Muffie Meyer, the producer and the director of "The New Medicine." Thank you for talking with us. The documentary, we should mention, premiers Wednesday, 9:00 p.m. Eastern on PBS. You want to check your local listings.


ROBERTS: Things are changing throughout the medical world.

Top stories ahead.

Israel votes on a new parliament today.

Controversial immigration reform moves a step closer to becoming law.

Zacarias Moussaoui testifies he knew about the 9/11 attacks ahead of time.

The families of those two missing boys in Milwaukee say they are still optimistic that they'll see them again.

And it looks like General Motors is all set to cut hundreds more jobs. What's it going to mean for their employees?

That and more ahead on AMERICAN MORNING.



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