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AMERICAN MORNING

When is Jill Carroll Going Home?; Dozens Dead After Strong Earthquakes Hit Western Iran

Aired March 31, 2006 - 08:00   ET

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


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

SOLEDAD O'BRIEN, CNN ANCHOR: And I'm Soledad O'Brien.

Waiting for any word on Jill Carroll's next step. When is she going home? We're live with the very latest on this developing story.

M. O'BRIEN: Dozens dead after strong earthquakes hit western Iran. Entire towns destroyed, leaving hundreds injured.

More than 20 tornadoes leave a lot of damage in their wake across the Midwest yesterday. Are more storms on their way today? We will check with Chad Myers on that.

S. O'BRIEN: And drug smugglers are reaching new lows as they look for new ways to bring drugs across the border.

And not very model behavior, very stylish, though. Naomi Campbell booked on assault charges. Yes, handcuffs under that beautiful fur coat. What made her act out? That's ahead on AMERICAN MORNING.

M. O'BRIEN: The hostage ordeal for Jill Carroll is just about over.

The question this morning -- when will she be coming home?

Senior international correspondent Nic Robertson live in Baghdad -- Nic, bring us up to date.

NIC ROBERTSON, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Miles, we know that Jill is still here in Baghdad. We know that she's gone through a medical exam and we do know that when the time for her to go home does arrive, it's probably going to be a very closely guarded secret. We've seen that with other people who have been released here, that for security reasons, we're not told until their wheels are up exactly what -- exactly how they've left and when they have left.

And it's still a question here, exactly how did Jill win her freedom?

The "Christian Science Monitor," her employer, seems to be equally in the dark. They said they had no conversations with her kidnappers. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

RICHARD BERGENHEIM, EDITOR, "CHRISTIAN SCIENCE MONITOR": The fact is we don't think we were ever in contact with the hostage takers. There were a couple of people that did come forth and claim that they had Jill or could facilitate her release, but not one of them was able to provide any proof that they had her. And when that was demanded, they simply faded into the woodwork.

I have to say, there literally were no active negotiations that we know of.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ROBERTSON: And probably this is going to be a center for a lot of interest for intelligence officials here, just who did have Jill and what was the mechanism for freeing her -- Miles.

M. O'BRIEN: Nic, this is a good occasion to sort of remind us how many hostages remain out there. I know Jill and her family and the "Monitor," for that matter, have been trying to underscore the point there are many others being held.

ROBERTSON: There are, indeed, a lot of people being held in Iraq, probably too many -- probably so many, nobody can actually begin to name them all. And a lot of them are being taken for financial reasons. But there are some still very high profile ones out there -- Reem Zeid and Marwan Khazaal, two journalists who have been kidnapped in Baghdad in February. They're still missing. The "Christian Science Monitor" has highlighted their plight.

There are also at least four contractors, at least two U.S. contractors, still being held hostage. Their status is unknown at this time. And, as I say, countless other Iraqis being kidnapped, purely, it seems, in many cases, for financial gain from what appear to be, in many cases, criminals -- Miles.

M. O'BRIEN: Interesting. Two types of kidnappings -- those for financial purposes and those for political purposes.

All right, Nic Robertson, thanks very much -- Soledad.

S. O'BRIEN: People are returning to their homes today in Kansas after strong storms there set off some prairie fires. The fires, sparked apparently by drowned power lines, destroyed at least five homes near Hutchinson, Kansas.

Officials also believe at least one tornado touched down in the area.

Let's get right to CNN national correspondent Gary Tuchman.

He's live in Hutchinson. That's about 40 miles from Wichita -- hey, Gary, good morning to you.

How is it looking? GARY TUCHMAN, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, Soledad, good morning to you.

And it's looking better than it did a few hours ago. You know, we came to Kansas to twisters. Instead, we're covering fires caused by the one twister that landed here about 16 hours ago. And the fires apparently caused by either downed power lines or lightning bolts that hit the area.

But there are at least 14 different fires here in Reno County, Kansas. This is a storage shed. Not so bad considering the fact that the family in that house right there saw the flames come up to about five feet away from their house. They've been spraying it down with a hose all night and all day to keep the fire away from the house.

But at least five different houses in this county were destroyed from the fires that started.

Now, about six hours ago we were here on the screen. The flames were much bigger at that point -- the families standing around, spraying their hoses, hoping the winds wouldn't shift and burn down their house.

Fortunately, they're considering themselves very lucky here. The man who owns this storage shed inside had a collection, he said, of Coke bottles, Hot Wheels and antiques. He's lost them all, but he's very grateful it wasn't worse.

And that's the big story here. There were tornadoes that came -- at least three tornadoes in the State of Kansas, one in the State of Nebraska. No serious injuries from the tornadoes.

Soledad -- back to you.

S. O'BRIEN: Yes, you're right, that's excellent news.

Gary Tuchman for us this morning.

Gary, thanks.

Let's turn right to Chad for a look at the threat today -- hey, Chad, good morning.

CHAD MYERS, CNN METEOROLOGIST: Probably not -- good morning, Soledad.

Not as much of a threat of tornadoes today as we had yesterday. Actually, that threat for tornadoes actually comes back tomorrow and it's back to the west again. So I'll show you how that all happens.

The storm today will be here, the red zone all the way from, really, Michigan, Ontario, all the way back down into Louisiana and Texas. That's where the severe weather will be today.

Notice another storm coming into the West. That low there that's in Nevada will eject and be back into the Plains tomorrow. So the storm that's here today will move off to the East tomorrow, make rain showers in New York and Boston, kind of coming and going, showers. And then the sun will be out and those showers will be back again.

But this is the area of severe weather that we're concerned with for tomorrow, from Kansas back to Oklahoma and into northern Texas. There's nothing at all there today, except a south wind again today that's blowing back more moisture.

Here's where the rain is now, moving into Indianapolis, eventually into Cincinnati. No real airport delays with this today and the planes can fly through this rain, whereas of yesterday, there were so many storms through the Plains, the planes literally had to fly around the whole complex, and that slowed down the air space a little bit there.

Soledad -- back to you.

S. O'BRIEN: Chad, thank you very much.

A time honored tradition. Every year in April we spring forward one hour to usher in daylight savings time. Don't forget to push your clocks ahead at 2:00 a.m. on Sunday. And you'll enjoy that extra hour of daylight.

For the first time, all of Indiana is going to spring forward, as well. That's going to leave Arizona and Hawaii as the only states that do not observe daylight savings time. That might change -- Miles.

M. O'BRIEN: President Bush facing the heat of immigration and that battle south of the border this morning. He's wrapping up a major summit in Mexico.

Our White House correspondent, Elaine Quijano, has had the tough duty in Cancun. She's actually been probably working a lot harder than she'd like to in Cancun, for sure -- Elaine, bring us up to date on the summit, please.

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

Yes, trilateral meetings are on the schedule for today, so President Bush is going to be sitting down with the leaders of Canadian and Mexico, Canada's prime minister, Steven Harper, and Mexico's President Vicente Fox.

Now, Canada and Mexico are the U.S.'s largest trading partners. So, as you might expect, trade and economic issues are going to be among the topics that the leaders discuss today.

On Thursday, much of the focus was on the issue of immigration. We saw the day begin with the three leaders taking a tour of the nearby Mayan ruins at Chichen Itza, followed by some bilateral meetings and a private dinner.

Now, of course, the big issue between the U.S. and Mexico is this topic of immigration. Mexico would very much like to see a guest worker program implemented in the U.S. And despite continued opposition from some of his fellow Republicans, President Bush reiterated yesterday his support for one.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I am committed to having a comprehensive immigration bill on my desk. And by comprehensive I mean not only a border security -- a bill that has border security in it, a bill that has interior enforcement in it, but a bill that has a worker permit program in it. And that's an important part of having a border that works.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

QUIJANO: Now, with the Senate taking up this highly charged issue, President Fox acknowledged to reporters yesterday that he understood this issue of immigration was largely out of his and President Bush's hands, that it was a matter to be decided by the U.S. Congress -- Miles.

M. O'BRIEN: Elaine, I'm curious about the personal dynamics between President Bush and Vicente Fox. They -- President Bush began his term with Mr. Fox considered one of his close friends, politically or however you want to put that, and then, of course, they split on Iraq, and, of course, have split on these immigration issues.

How are they getting along?

QUIJANO: Well, you know, certainly there have been tensions, as you've pointed out in the past. And, of course, an over arching goal at any of these kinds of meetings is to smooth over and manage those relationships.

But what was particularly noteworthy, Miles, is something that might not have seemed so newsy. But the very fact that President Bush took time out yesterday for a cultural diversion, essentially, taking that tour of the Mayan ruins at Chichen Itza, he did that at the invitation of President Fox. And it should be noted, as well, that this could perhaps very well be the last time that President Bush and President Fox sit down face-to-face as presidents. President Fox is nearing the end of his term.

Also, it was striking to hear yesterday, even though this issue of border security and immigration, those have been major points of contention, for President Fox to say to reporters that he understands full well that the United States Congress is the one that is going to have to decide this issue was striking -- Miles.

M. O'BRIEN: A conciliatory tone.

All right, Elaine Quijano in Cancun, thank you very much.

For all the news coming out of the Cancun summit, watch "LOU DOBBS TONIGHT."

He's live from Cancun. His Broken Borders special report continues at 6:00 Eastern time right here on CNN.

Carol Costello watching some other stories for us -- Carol.

CAROL COSTELLO, CNN ANCHOR: I am, indeed.

Good morning to all of you.

The search underway now for 13 people missing in the Persian Gulf. A cruise ship capsized off Bahrain carrying more than 130 passengers. At least 57 bodies have been recovered so far. The majority of them workers that are -- they were working on a new world trade center in Bahrain. That's why they were on the ship, to get there. U.S. Navy divers and helicopters are helping with the search for survivors.

Health officials in western Iran say the hospitals are filled to capacity. The region rattled by three earthquakes and aftershocks. Iran state television say at least 66 people have been killed, 1,200 injured. Officials say most people were sleeping during the quakes and some refused to leave their homes.

Today is a year since the death of Terry Schiavo, but there is no end to the controversy over her life. The Florida woman was disconnected from a feeding tube. Her battle went all the way to the Supreme Court. Two new books could help rekindle the debate, one by her husband, the other by her parents. Both were released this week.

You remember "The Rifleman?" well, it looks like the parting shot for the Winchester rifle that the rifleman is firing, the gun that won the West, is being discontinued after 150 years. A Connecticut factory that makes the rifle being closed today. There was some discussion about potential buyers but nothing worked out.

And police say it's not only criminal, it's sacrilege. Drug runners using tombstones with the image of the Virgin Mary to smuggle cocaine from Mexico. DEA agents busted 12 people in New York and Texas. They seized $12 million worth of cocaine and a half a million in cash. More arrests expected.

Back to you -- Soledad.

S. O'BRIEN: All right, Carol, thank you very much.

Ahead this morning, pretty frank talk from the guy who is in charge of the federal Katrina recovery effort. We're going to talk about what it means for the folks who live down there.

Also, now that hurricane season is almost upon us again, is FEMA going to be better prepared this time around? FEMA's acting director is going to talk with us about all of that.

M. O'BRIEN: I sure hope so.

All right, here's a little thing. You throw a cell, you see the inside of a cell. Naomi Campbell showing us a very stylish perp walk, handcuffs beneath the poncho. We'll bring you up to date on why the super model is in some fairly super big trouble.

Stay with us.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

S. O'BRIEN: Recovery in New Orleans could take a quarter of a century. That's what the government's Katrina relief point man is saying. Don Powell says the timetable, though, depends on many factors outside the federal government's control. He also said that rebuilding the levees will cost now nearly three times the original estimate. Louisiana Governor Kathleen Blanco calls that an outrage.

With the start of the 2006 hurricane season bearing down upon us, will the battered Gulf Coast be prepared?

We talked about that with the president's point man for disaster response.

(BEGIN VIDEO TAPE)

S. O'BRIEN: David Paulison is the acting director of FEMA, the Federal Emergency Management Agency.

He's just back from the Gulf Coast.

It's nice to see you.

Thanks for talking with us this morning.

DAVID PAULISON, ACTING FEMA DIRECTOR: It's good to be here this morning.

S. O'BRIEN: You're just back.

How do things seem to you there?

PAULISON: Things are really starting to improve. Downtown New Orleans is starting to come back to life. Of course, some of the suburbs, like the Lower 9th Ward, are still just totally devastated.

S. O'BRIEN: Bad.

PAULISON: Baton Rouge, obviously, all the traffic, but a lot of hubbub. You know, everything seems to be open.

We were down there, really, to meet with the parishes and meet with the state to talk about evacuation planning for the upcoming hurricane season.

S. O'BRIEN: And it is so difficult to believe that you're planning for the upcoming season, which is just about two months away.

What's the plan? I mean what -- or what's different about the plan this time around?

PAULISON: Well, what is different is we have 94,000 families and travel trailers, mobile homes. And probably by the time hurricane season comes around, we'll have over 100,000. Normally, these families would have ridden out a category one or a category two storm in their home.

S. O'BRIEN: You can't do it in a trailer.

PAULISON: Right. But now they're in travel trailers, so they can't do that. So even in a category one storm, we're going to have to evacuate them. So we wanted to sit down with the parishes and with the state and find out what the shortfalls are in their evacuation plans and where we can fit in up front, as opposed to waiting for something to happen.

S. O'BRIEN: And what did you discover about the shortfalls?

PAULISON: Well, they -- first of all, they're doing very well. I'm very pleased with what the state has done. I'm very pleased with what the parishes have done as far as getting ready. And they are identifying some of those shortfalls now. And they'll get to those, too.

One of the things that I did see is they need help in preparing their plans. So we're sending technical experts down to help them with those. And there's transportation needs.

What really surprised me was the number of people with special needs who have already moved back into the area.

S. O'BRIEN: There will be no shelter in the city where people can go?

PAULISON: The mayor is committed, the state of -- the local mercuman (ph) is committed. They will not open those last resort shelters like they did before. People are going to have to find out where they're going to go and move to shelters outside of the area.

S. O'BRIEN: Will you have supplies in for people? Will you have busses that take them out of the city?

PAULISON: And that's what we're doing. Where those shortfalls are, where those parishes that tell us that we have special needs people or we have a large population that doesn't have transportation, we're going the make sure those things are in place. And that's why we're there now instead of waiting for something catastrophic to happen and then try to run around and trying to find those assets.

S. O'BRIEN: When I did an interview with Mike Brown, we were talking about, you know, this now -- we had been running pictures of aerials of people, you know, down at the convention center. And he sort of said he was surprised. And it was so surprising to me, I felt like well, we're filling FEMA in on what's happening? I mean that -- that's concerning, too -- it should be -- to any American citizen.

What's changed that that's not going to happen again, that instead FEMA is out front, not sort of, you know, watching TV monitors and figuring it out on the back end? PAULISON: Yes, what you just pointed out is what one of the -- one of the failures that we had was not having a good situational awareness of what was going on on the ground. You know, no disrespect, we shouldn't have to watch CNN to find out what's going on.

We should...

S. O'BRIEN: Yes, that scares me, as a citizen.

PAULISON: We should have our...

S. O'BRIEN: I mean I'd like to...

PAULISON: ... own people down there. And we did some of that in Rita and much, much better in Wilma. We had people that, in Hurricane Wilma, in the governor's office, 30 people in the state of O.C. (ph), people in all of the major counties, people at the Hurricane Center. We had enough people down there to know exactly what was happening. And we kind of did that on the fly just by looking at what happened in Katrina and simply what went wrong.

And so we put those things in place. And now they're going to be in place. We're going to codify all of that and make sure that's part of our plans, where we will be down there ahead of time, you know, making sure that we know what's going on, making sure the state knows what's going on and the locals.

The state has to be prepared. That's why we were down there over the last few days with George Foresman, the undersecretary for preparedness, and I were down there talking with the state, talking with the parishes. And then personal preparedness, one of my big issues. People have to take some responsibility for taking care of themselves, making sure -- and I know you hear this over and over again -- making sure they have...

S. O'BRIEN: But a lot of people don't do it. I mean everyone knows how -- can recite it, but don't do it.

PAULISON: A three day supply of food, water, ice, you know, medicine, flashlights, batteries, all the things they know they have to have if a storm comes, have those ready now. Now is the time to get ready.

S. O'BRIEN: Director Paulison, nice to see you.

Thanks for talking with us this morning.

PAULISON: Thank you very much.

S. O'BRIEN: We appreciate it.

M. O'BRIEN: It's been a year now since Terry Schiavo died and if there's anything that case has taught us, it is the importance of a living will. But are most of us heeding that lesson? We will take a closer look. And later, baseball investigates alleged steroid use by Barry Bonds and others. We will look at what it means for the game and the superstar who is on track to break baseball's most hallowed record. I guess it -- yes, it's probably one of the more hallowed records, I guess. It's a big one. It's a big one. Will anybody care is the question?

Stay with us.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

M. O'BRIEN: When I was in college, the legendary columnist Art Buchwald volunteered his time as an adviser for our campus newspaper. We always looked forward to his visits and the good lessons he provided.

Now, Mr. Buchwald, we're sad to report, is dying, and in the course of that is offering a lesson to us all.

Here's Bob Franken.

(BEGIN VIDEO TAPE)

BOB FRANKEN, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Art Buchwald has always tried to enjoy life. But now, as he prowls the hallways of the Washington Home Hospice, he's dying the same way.

ART BUCHWALD, SYNDICATED COLUMNIST: I'm having the best time of my life. They let me eat anything I want. They take care of me and it's a wonderful thing.

FRANKEN: At age 80, Buchwald's kidneys are failing. But he's decided against dialysis. So he's saying good-bye to his friends and loved ones.

BUCHWALD: They're surprised that I'm not scared and that, you know -- and I figured what the hell, I have no control, so I might as well enjoy what control I have.

FRANKEN: He exercises his control with a very precise living will, a stark contrast to last year's out of control bitterness that accompanied the death of Terry Schiavo, who had no formal end of life document.

(on camera): Since then, surveys show the percentage of American families with living wills has risen to about 30 percent. But that means about 70 percent don't have them.

DAVID REHM, CEO, THE WASHINGTON HOME: It's hard for us to confront our own mortality, which is really, of course, the underlying question when you begin to think about developing a living will. And it also difficult to talk with your family members.

FRANKEN (voice-over): The absence of a living will from Terry Schiavo led to the ugly family fight that continues a full year after her death. BOBBY SCHINDLER, TERRY SCHIAVO'S BROTHER: Under no circumstances would Terry ever would have wanted to die in such a horrible way.

MICHAEL SCHIAVO, TERRY SCHIAVO'S HUSBAND: We would be home watching TV and she'd see something on TV and she would tell me that, "I don't want any tubes. I don't want to live like that."

FRANKEN: Art Buchwald has left written instructions for his son Joel.

JOEL BUCHWALD, ART BUCHWALD'S SON: Having a document gives you cover. It gives you a sense of protection because you can always say well, you know, this is what they want. I'm simply following through on what they want.

FRANKEN: There are detailed steps for getting started on Web sites like www.caringinfo.org.

And Art Buchwald is outliving the predictions. He's still doing his column. On Thursday he wrote how he wakes up from a dream that he's gone to the airport for his final trip.

BUCHWALD: And I get to the gate and I'm sitting there waiting to go to heaven, or fly to heaven, and at the last minute they announce on the loudspeaker that the flight has been canceled for the day and they're going to put me on standby for tomorrow.

FRANKEN: He already has his ticket -- his living will.

Bob Franken, CNN, Washington.

(END VIDEO TAPE)

M. O'BRIEN: Now, Buchwald tells Bob Franken that he's spending his last days eating a lot of McDonald's. And, of course, as you can see, his sense of humor is still very much intact, and we're glad of that.

S. O'BRIEN: Oh, yes, gosh.

M. O'BRIEN: We wish him well.

S. O'BRIEN: Yes, absolutely.

Ahead this morning, Barry Bonds under the microscope again. This time, major league baseball is investigating his alleged steroid use. We're going to see what the probe could mean for Bonds's chase of the all time home run record.

Plus, cops bust Naomi Campbell. We'll tell you why this super model might need a little refresher course in anger management.

Those stories are ahead.

Stay with us.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

ANNOUNCER: You're watching AMERICAN MORNING with Soledad O'Brien and Miles O'Brien.

M. O'BRIEN: Brad, zoom back in there.

S. O'BRIEN: Yes, there's a bunch of people in red t-shirts.

M. O'BRIEN: It's a drill team or something.

What's going on?

Is it a park cleanup crew or are they -- oh, it's the morning calisthenics.

S. O'BRIEN: Oh, the morning calisthenics in Central Park. Of course. Of course.

M. O'BRIEN: Of course.

S. O'BRIEN: Those are jackets out there.

M. O'BRIEN: No, that's -- no, they're uniforms, though.

S. O'BRIEN: Is that City Year (ph) doing their morning calisthenics, I believe, every morning, not only in New York City, but (UNINTELLIGIBLE)...

M. O'BRIEN: Ah. Excellent. You are -- you are on fire, as well.

S. O'BRIEN: Oh, good to -- fuego!

M. O'BRIEN: En fuego!

S. O'BRIEN: Welcome back, everybody.

Ahead this morning, we're going to tell you a pretty amazing story. A woman suffers nearly a dozen miscarriages. I mean imagine just how awful that must be. So she turns to her best friend and says will you be my surrogate?

Her friend agrees.

Good news? What has turned from being one hoped for baby is now four babies. Here's the proof.

M. O'BRIEN: Wow!

S. O'BRIEN: There we go. We'll take you to the sonogram, shall we?

M. O'BRIEN: Wow!

S. O'BRIEN: We've got this amazing story just ahead on AMERICAN MORNING. M. O'BRIEN: Up...

S. O'BRIEN: Yes.

M. O'BRIEN: So I'm sorry...

S. O'BRIEN: Yes. I'm not telling you anymore. You have to wait and see.

M. O'BRIEN: OK. All right.

S. O'BRIEN: Hoped for one baby, getting four babies. We'll explain.

M. O'BRIEN: Oh, I'm dying to know.

Wow, that's awesome. And the rest is coming up.

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