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CNN SATURDAY MORNING NEWS
Oil Hits Record High, Gas Prices Soar; Voters Go To Polls In New Orleans; High Gas Prices Could Spell Trouble For Republicans; U.S. And China Compete For Oil; Iraq Finally Has Prime Minister Designate; Robert Mann Interview
Aired April 22, 2006 - 10:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
TONY HARRIS, CNN ANCHOR: OK. Up, up and away. Hold on to your wallet! Oil hits another record high and gas prices go soaring again.
It is Saturday, April 22nd. Good morning, everyone, from the CNN Center in Atlanta. I'm Tony Harris.
ZAIN VERJEE, CNN ANCHOR: And good morning to you. What's that for?
I'm Zain Verjee in for Betty Nguyen this morning. Thanks so much for starting your day with us. We are going have much more on the gas price frustration factor this hour, but first a check of the headlines now.
It's decision day for voters in New Orleans. They're heading to the polls to decide the race for mayor. Twenty candidates are challenging incumbent Mayor Ray Nagin. A live election update from New Orleans is just minutes away.
Another show of opposition today from protestors in Nepal. An estimated 200,000 people marched toward the palace in Kathmandu today. They're protesting the king's absolute rule. Many want an end to the monarchy.
King Gyanendra took direct power in February of 2005 after sacking the government. Opposition leaders have rejected the king's promise to return political power to the people and they're calling for him just to step down.
HARRIS: Signs of political progress in Iraq today. The Parliament began the long-await process of forming a new government, they're considering a new candidate for prime minister. Shia lawmakers have selected Jawad al-Maliki to replace Ibrahim al-Jaafari, and a Sunni Arab politician was just elected the new speaker of Parliament.
A developing story out of Afghanistan. Four Canadian soldiers have been killed in a roadside bombing in Kandahar province. A military spokesman says the soldiers were traveling in an armored Jeep when the bomb exploded. In all, 15 Canadian troops have died in Operation Enduring Freedom.
VERJEE: This Georgia Tech student was arrested and accused of providing support to terrorists. Today a friend of his is due in court in New York. Family members say the young men knew each other through the Muslim community in Atlanta. The second man who faces arraignment today is a 19-year-old arrested this week in Bangladesh.
New information in the latest CIA leak investigation. The Associated Press identifies the office fired for leaking classified information is Mary McCarthy. The AP says that she was an intelligence analyst who admitted leaking information to a reporter. The information led to stories about a network of secret CIA prisons.
HARRIS: And coming up, Americans are all fired up over high gas prices. With nobody in sight to fire at, President Bush says he knows sharply-rising gas prices hurt working people and small business. What's the political price he could pay for the pumped up pump prices? It has some endangered Congressional Republicans shaking on the stump.
And on the world political stage, the U.S. competes with China for the available oil supplies. Is it just a matter of supply and demand?
VERJEE: A high-stakes election, a city's future on the line. Voters in New Orleans are casting ballots in the mayor's race today. They're deciding, essentially, who is going to be in charge of rebuilding the city. Polls have been open for about three hours now.
Sean Callebs joins us live from some of those super polling sites. Sean, what's turnout been like so far?
SEAN CALLEBS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: You know, Zain, turnout has been amazing. Everyone predicted it would be a high turnout. People have been streaming in and out of this gymnasium here on the campus of UNO throughout the morning.
And behind me you can see a number of people wearing purple shirts. Now, those people are very important. They're volunteers from the neighboring parish, St. Tammany, and basically there are so many precincts in this area that had been closed because of the flooding.
Well, they're instructing people where to go. They have these little laminated cards and once they tell them exactly where to go inside, they can pull of a little stick-em, and attach it to it, so very helpful.
Things are moving extremely well here. There's also a hotline to call the secretary of state if they have any concerns. A great deal at stake. And what we're hearing from people as they come in, very educated voters who know exactly what they want.
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UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Oh, I think it's very important because we need to recover and I was and looking at all of the houses in Lakeview and the east and the Ninth Ward and nothing has been done since the storm. So it's essential that we get somebody in office who can do something.
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CALLEBS: So who is going lead the city for the next four years? There are 23 people on the ballot. A couple have dropped out, so 21. Among the front runners, of course, current Mayor Ray Nagin, the Lieutenant Governor Mitch Landrieu, and businessman Ron Forman.
Again, a very heavy turnout, Zain. But we should have some indication, perhaps a couple of hours after the polls close at 8:00 Central, who appears to be in the lead -- Zain.
VERJEE: Civil rights groups are watching the turnout quite carefully, aren't they?
CALLEBS: Without question. That has been the biggest thing. The Reverend Jesse Jackson and other civil rights leaders challenged this election legally, saying they believe the disenfranchised were kept -- thousands of people out of the Democratic process, those who left this area.
But all indications so far by the early mail-in ballots of people who voted early, that the voting is basically breaking down along the racial lines before the city was flooded, meaning about 65 percent non-white, about 35 percent white.
But people will be watching, they want to know, and it is going to be interesting to see how this turns out. Because if one candidate does not get more than 50 percent of the vote, then there will be a runoff May 20th.
VERJEE: Live from one of the super polling sites, our super Sean Callebs. Thanks.
Pity I can't say the same about you.
HARRIS: It was going so well for so long! Well, the world turns and things like that. Thank you, Zain.
Some Hurricane Katrina evacuees in Atlanta are taking a road trip to cast their votes. They loaded onto buses last night for a quick there and back trip. Organizers call it the Freedom Caravan. The buses drove through the night so displaced residents can make their voices heard. More than 16,000 people who couldn't make the trip to New Orleans requested absentee ballots.
Also making the trip back home is CNN political analyst and New Orleans native Donna Brazile. She joins us now live. Donna, good to see you.
DONNA BRAZILE, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: It's good to see you, too, Tony.
HARRIS: You see Zain over here ripping on me.
BRAZILE: It's good to be home in the Crescent City.
HARRIS: Yes, in the Crescent City. Good to see you.
BRAZILE: Good to be here.
HARRIS: Hey, I have to ask you, 21 candidates, as Sean just mentioned a moment ago. Too many candidates. I just want your response to this. Too many candidates, too cumbersome a process, and too soon for this election. What do you think?
BRAZILE: This is a historic election. For the first time in our 288-year history, this election will determine how this great city is rebuilt. This is about the rebirth of the Crescent City, so many, many, many displaced voters are eagerly trying to get to the polls today to cast their ballots so that they, too, can be heard in the rebuilding process.
HARRIS: OK, let's talk about that process. One pollster there who I believe you know, Lee Silas, says that he expects voters to send a message. What do you think that message is? There's probably several messages.
BRAZILE: Well, Silus Lee is one of the great pollsters in our Democratic Party. Let me just say this, that what I've seen over the last couple of days being here and, of course, Reverand Jackson has raised some very strong concerns about having access to the ballot, but the Secretary of State Office and others in this city are working very hard to get people to focus on the potential to get out the vote and to participate all throughout the city.
In some of the mega precincts, there have been lines all morning long. So I think we're going disprove all of the critics and tell them that New Orleans is ready to come back and Louisiana is ready to be rebuilt.
HARRIS: Oh, Donna, you don't -- come on, come clean. Now, you don't like this idea of these mega polling places. What you really wanted here were satellite polling places in some of the areas like Atlanta, San Antonio and Dallas. That's what you really wanted and you are secretly disappointed by what's going on today.
BRAZILE: No question. Well, look, I'm going wait until after this afternoon to really judge whether or not this was a successful election, but let me just say, you know, Reverend Jackson and others, they were absolutely right. We should have given the people who were displaced in Houston and Atlanta and Memphis an opportunity to vote right there, but I think the Secretary of State's Office, they're allowing people today to fax their ballots in to Louisiana.
There were a lot of people who post-marked their ballots. They have promised to count these votes. We have to improve access to the polling places. We should not change precincts the day before the election, but this is an unusual election.
You know, given what happened in this city, given the problems that we have right now with getting electricity back on, we cannot conduct election in places where, you know, the facilities are not even habitable. So I think we're doing the very best job.
And, again, we're encouraging people to come out today to vote. We're encouraging people, if they still have their absentee ballots, to fax them in to the Secretary of State's Office, get everything in on time so that you can be heard in this rebuilding process.
HARRIS: OK, one last question, Donna. Again, thanks for your time this morning. This is part of what you're doing. Handicap this race for us.
BRAZILE: Well, I'm a Democrat, so you know I'm hoping that some of the top Democrats place one, two, three, four, five, but I really do believe that if we have a strong tough turnout today this election could come down to the incumbent mayor, Mayor Nagin, the Lieutenant Governor, Mitch Landrieu. Or it could come down a real close race between, you know, Mr. Landrieu and Mr. Ron Forman, who's a businessman in this area.
I don't know who the winner is. It all depends on the turnout and what neighborhoods and what communities are able to get out the vote. In an ordinary election, I could guarantee you that the results would have gone one way, but in this unusual election, I can't predict this one.
But I'm excited that so many people -- look, I have niece who's in Baton Rouge, her fiance, they're driving this morning, they're driving people back and forth from Baton Rouge. People want to vote. They want to have their voices heard in this process, and they want to rebuild Louisiana and especially they want to rebuild New Orleans.
HARRIS: It is good to see you on the ground in your home in New Orleans. It really is. Donna, thanks for your time this morning.
BRAZILE: It's good to have a po' boy sandwich, fully dressed, and it's good to see the people are coming back and it's great to know that the American people will stand by us as we rebuild this great state.
HARRIS: CNN political analyst Donna Brazile with us this morning. Donna, thank you.
BRAZILE: Thank you.
VERJEE: A key day for Iraqi politics. This just coming to CNN. Iraq's Parliament has elected Jalal Talabani to another term as the country's president. He's a Kurd and he's been serving as transitional president. He is going to preside in the same role over the next four years.
Earlier on, Iraq's Parliament also elected a Sunni-Arab politician as it's new speaker. Jawad al-Maliki is the name that has been put forward as a nominee for prime minister. Now, he really needs to be formally endorsed by the Parliament. And if that happens that should clear the way for Iraqis to form a national unity government.
There's been no government since December the 15th. It's just been stale-mated. They haven't been able to agree on a prime minister, many arguing that that's really what's energized the insurgency. The predecessor, Ibrahim al-Jaafari was really seen by many as weak, ineffective, indecisive.
And the new prime minister is going to be facing enormous challenges in Iraq -- an economy in tatters, a growing insurgency, as well as increased Sunni-Shia tensions. We'll continue to follow the developments out of Iraq on what is a significant day.
HARRIS: And if you are just waking up this morning, brace yourself. Gas prices went up three more cents ...
HARRIS: ... overnight and if rising gas prices are driving you nuts, you are not alone.
VERJEE: We're going to meet Congressmen -- yes, Congressman Jim Gerlach.
HARRIS: Jim Gerlach.
VERJEE: Exactly. Like the rest of us, he's going to be feeling the pinch, but unlike the rest of us, he might lose his job over high gas prices. We're going to take a closer look at the politics at the pump in just a moment.
VERONICA DE LA CRUZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT: And which stories are making that most popular list this morning? We're counting down the top 10 stories on CNN.com in our .com countdown which is happening in less than 60 seconds. Don't go away.
DE LA CRUZ: What are people clicking on at CNN.com? We're taking a look on our .com countdown starting with number 10.
Like you probably heard by now, the price of oil has hit an all- time high. It's cruised past $75 a barrel. Gas shortages have already been reported on the East Coast.
And number nine, union leaders representing pilots for Delta have avoided a walkout. They've reached a tentative concessions deal aimed at getting the airline out of bankruptcy. Part of the deal includes a 14 percent pay cut for pilots.
And number eight, speaking of airline travel, more and more credit cards are offering rewards these days. So which one are you? Are you an airline monogamist, a free flight junky maybe? A hotel loyalist? Well, this article helps you pick the best card to fit your lifestyle.
And our seventh most popular story on CNN.com, David Lee Roth says good-bye to radio after three-and-a-half short months. Roth was hired to replace Howard Stern back in January. His replacements, the shock jocks who do the who do the "Opie and Anthony" show. Three-and- a-half months. We're going to have numbers six, five, and four coming up. I'm Veronica de la Cruz for the .com desk.
VERJEE: If you filled up your car yesterday you probably saved about three cents a gallon over filling it today. That's how much more it went up while you were asleep. It's risen more than 30 cents a gallon in just the last month and it's up about 60 cents from a year ago. Nationwide, there's no relief anywhere. For people who must drive a lot, the expense is really adding up quickly.
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UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Actually I've been putting like $25 a day in my gas and I'm in sales. So I need my car. This is ridiculous. I mean, it's going to really effect the type of car I get.
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VERJEE: And it's not just regular people who are feeling the pain. The sticker shock could have a major impact on Capitol Hill as well.
HARRIS: Well, for his part, President Bush is cleanly aware of the negative impact that high energy costs could have on the economy. He spoke about it at an appearance yesterday in Silicon Valley.
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GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We've got a problem when it comes to our dependence on oil. I know the folks here are suffering at the gas pump, rising gasoline prices is like taking a -- is like a tax, particularly on the working people and the small business people.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HARRIS: Well, acknowledging the issue may not be enough to satisfy most Americans. A recent ABC News/"Washington Post" poll shows sharp disapproval, 74 percent, of President Bush's handling of high gas prices and that could spell trouble for his party in November's mid-term elections.
CNN's Dana Bash has that story.
DANA BASH, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Just hopping in the car these days is a reminder of a growing problem for Republican Congressman Jim Gerlach of Pennsylvania. Spiking gas prices are adding more anger and volatility to an already dicey political climate.
REP. JIM GERLACH (R), PENNSYLVANIA: Yesterday we find out that the retiring CEO of ExxonMobil is getting a retirement package of nearly $400 million. And that drives people nuts. It drives me nuts.
BASH: No wonder he is worried. He's a Republican in a tight race this year and this constituent is asking about a letter Democrats sent the president on the issue.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He put some pressure on the oil companies to reduce their profits a little bit to help ease the gasoline pricing. Do you know anything about that? Or is there anything being done?
BASH: He tries to turn the question to his advantage saying he hopes concern about gas prices now will help spur long-term changes.
GERLACH: I think we have a major opportunity now with gas prices going so high to say wait a minute, we shouldn't have to rely on foreign oil for our energy needs.
BASH: Gerlach is one of many endangered Republicans on the defensive back home about prices at the pump.
SEN. CHARLES SCHUMER (D), NEW YORK: The price of gasoline is going up, up, up.
BASH: Democrats are holding political events at gas stations. Here's another one in New Jersey.
SEN. ROBERT MENENDEZ (D), NEW JERSEY: In fact, the high cost of gasoline hurts every sector of our economy.
BASH: And a four-page strategy memo tells Democrats how to take advantage of the issue, "pledge that, as a member of Congress, you will fight for families in your district, not the oil and gas executives for which this Republican Congress has fought so hard."
Both parties have sought political benefit from soaring gas prices before without much evidence it worked. But Republicans fear this year may be different. Anger over gas prices plays into their biggest problem.
STU ROTHENBERG, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: I reinforces the existing mood, a mood of pessimism, a sense that the country is headed in the wrong direction. And anything that affects people's lives negatively is probably going to hurt Republicans in Congress.
BASH: CNN has learned GOP Congressional and Bush aides met Friday scrambling to be more proactive. Top Republicans will send the president a letter Monday, encouraging him to investigate possible price gouging and they'll try to waive some requirements for cleaner but more expensive gasoline.
Also House Republicans will likely call oil executives to testify about their huge profits. Frustrated Republicans may try to deflect political damage, but they know there's not much they can do to bring gas prices down.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Well, I always put 20 bucks in, but I'm finding it's taking me shorter distances. BASH: Jim Gerlach and other Republicans in trouble can only hope April's shock eases by November's election.
Dana Bash, CNN, Washington.
VERJEE: And we want to know what you think about gas prices this morning. What or who do you think is to blame? E-mail us your thoughts. We'd really like to hear from you. Our address is weekends@CNN.com.
And no matter who you think is to blame, the fact that the U.S. now has to compete like never before for its share of the international oil market is a fact. Our Candy Crowley takes a closer look at this crude awakening.
And we want you to use your mouse instead of your motor to find the cheapest gas in your neighborhood. Click on to CNN.com and find out how much you spend on fuel a year and for a link to gasbuddy.com. That's gasbuddy.com.
CNN SATURDAY MORNING continues in just a moment. Stay with us.
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HARRIS: Oh, look at this. A beautiful shot. Is that the Bay Bridge in San Francisco. Is that what we're looking at, Reynolds?
REYNOLDS WOLF, CNN METEOROLOGIST: Yes, it is. Beautiful shot this morning.
HARRIS: That's great. That's great. Now, here's the thing. You saw the graphics we put up for folks to read at home. Two of the warmest years in the last 100 occurring inside the last decade, 1998 and last year in 2005.
So Reynolds Wolf on this Earth Day 2006, it's time for you to come clean to the folks at home. Tell the truth about global warming. It is real and it is, my friend, verifiable.
WOLF: Well, I believe it is the real deal. There's no question that we are getting warmer, but the question is, is it caused by people? Is it caused ...
HARRIS: It's our aerosols. It's the aerosol cans, it's the emissions from our cars. That's what it is.
WOLF: You know what? The only thing -- I think that it certainly plays a little bit of a part ... HARRIS: A little bit?
WOLF: A little bit, not the whole thing.
There's a study out of Duke University that says that since 1980, the sun's output of energy has increased from 10 to say, 30 percent, which certainly plays a huge part in it. The sun has a huge part to do with global warming.
And to tell you the truth, I'm sure that again, your emissions, that certainly plays a big part. It does, but I'm not thinking it's the key thing. The key thing is Mr. Sun.
HARRIS: More in intense energy from the sun in combination, a combination play here ...
WOLF: In combination.
HARRIS: ... with what we're doing on Mother Earth on this Earth Day.
WOLF: It does play a part. I would say so.
HARRIS: But if we look at this map we'll see some global warming.
HARRIS: Thanks, Reynolds. It's east versus west in the battle over global oil reserves.
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CANDY CROWLEY, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Meet the leaders of the two biggest oil-consuming countries on the planet: the People's Republic of China, the United States of America.
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VERJEE: Our Candy Crowley takes a closer look at the politics of petroleum. That's next on CNN.
VERJEE: If you are just tuning in this morning, topic A is the high cost of gasoline. Fueling the feverish rise is crude oil which closed yesterday at a record $75.17 a barrel. That essentially translates at the gas bump as an average $2.86 per gallon. The price is much higher in some places. CNN's Kyung Lah joins us now from a gas station on Capitol Hill. Good morning.
KYUNG LAH, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Good morning, Zain. Gas here at this gas station is $3, well over, $3, $3.09 for the cheap stuff and the gas station manager says he anticipates he'll be bumping up that price, probably within the next half hour or so. I was talking to Julie Lever (ph). She just pulled up here to pay for some gas and this is affecting your pocketbook as well.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Absolutely and I'm glad to hear that he's going to wait to raise the prices so I can fill my tank.
LAH: And how is that affecting what you buy elsewhere?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Well, I rent cars and it certainly is reducing the number of times that I rent a car because I don't want to have to pay for the gas. When I picked this car up, it was originally the car they were going give me did not have a full tank and I asked them to keep that one and give me one that was already full because I knew I'd have to fill it back up.
LAH: So even though you don't drive every day, it's still affecting your budget.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Oh, yes. Oh, yes. I'll take public transportation even more. I've been doing that, but this makes luxury trips to rent a car kind of too expensive at this point.
LAH: Judy Lever, we're going to let you go and let you fill up before they bump up the price. The manager expecting to raise that in the next 30 minutes on so. He's saying that it went up just a few cents even from yesterday. Reporting live from Washington, I'm Kyung Lau, back to you, Zain.
VERJEE: Thanks a lot, Tony.
TONY HARRIS, CNN ANCHOR, CNN SATURDAY MORNING: Oil and gasoline consumption is not just a U.S. problem. It is a global issue. CNN senior political correspondent Candy Crowley explains how booming countries like China are ratcheting up demand.
CROWLEY (voice-over): Holy gas pains, America, $3.19 for regular in Los Angeles and in Chicago.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I think it sucks.
CROWLEY: Ever wonder how it came to this?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I think it's because of a shortage of oil.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I know that the world situation is tenuous and that the oil companies will take advantage of any opportunity to stick it to us.
CROWLEY: Kind of, but think economics 101. Think supply and demand.
PHIL FLYNN, ENERGY ANALYST: This has been a story of incredible demand in China. What people are starting to realize, if you look at the upside potential for China demand over the next 10 to 20 years, there's not going to be enough oil left for anybody else. CROWLEY: Meet the leaders of the two biggest oil-consuming countries on planet, the People's Republic of China, the United States of America.
BUSH: China's home to an ancient civilization and it is helping to shape the modern world.
CROWLEY: It's not just about pandas, anymore. This is no longer Ronald Reagan's China, no longer a waking giant, China is a walking giant, powering through the days on an economy growing by as much as 10 percent a year and increasingly, China is a speeding giant, dumping bicycles for cars, 10 million privately-owned cars and 57 million more Chinese are expected to buy a car in the next 15 years. They're going to need a lot more gas. Overall, energy needs are expected to more than double by 2020. Where in the world does China get that supply? The same place the U.S. does and elsewhere.
JEFFREY BADER, BROOKINGS INSTITUTION: They're getting about 10 and 11 percent of the oil from Iran. So it's going to be kind of a push-pull with China on Iran.
CROWLEY: The United States thinks China, having used the global marketplace to prosper, needs to step up to the plate and help solve global problems. Case in point, Iran where the Bush administration thinks China has been pulling punches on Iran's quest for nuclear weapons because China wants to protect the key oil supply line and while the subject came up at the White House, it appears the U.S. got milquetoast.
PRES. HU JINTAO, CHINA (through translator): Both sides agree to continue their efforts to facilitate the six-party talks to seek a proper solution to the Korean nuclear issue and both sides agree to continue their efforts to seek a peaceful resolution of the Iranian nuclear issue.
CROWLEY: The reality is the U.S. no longer has the world playing field or the world oil supplies to itself. China, once an insular, isolated country has long since thrown open its bamboo curtain, posing problems and offering possibilities. Candy Crowley, CNN, Washington.
HARRIS: And we're asking you this morning, who do you blame for higher gas prices? A lot to go around, I think. Let's share some of your thoughts. So let us know by e-mailing us your thoughts at weekends@CNN.com. There will be much more on all of these issues tonight on "CNN PRESENTS" at 10:00 p.m., an-depth look at the debate over worldwide climate change in "Melting Point, " tracking the threat of global warming and that will be followed at 8:00 p.m. Eastern with "We Were Warned, Tomorrow's Oil Crisis."
VERJEE: You can call it "CSI" real life. Ahead here on CNN SATURDAY, we talk to a real forensic detective. We're going ask Dr. Robert Mann about the cases that he's worked on.
WOLF: And we have plenty of sunshine in parts of the country, but some scattered showers and storms possible on parts of the eastern seaboard. We'll show you who will get what coming up in just a few moments right here on CNN.
VERONICA DE LA CRUZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT: I'm Veronica de la Cruz at the .com desk. We continue now with our countdown of the most popular stories on CNN.com. Gas again is the topic of discussion for number six and number five, believe it or not.
Number six, which cars give you the best gas mileage? From the Mercedes E-320 to the Toyota Corolla, CNN's "Money" and men's.com have compiled a list of top cars that are smart buys and are good on fuel.
At number five, we know that pinch you may be feeling at the pump may be a little more like a punch in the gut. The number five most popular story, a list of your e-mails telling us how you have changed your lifestyle to accommodate those high gas prices.
And number four, do you like your job? Is it hot, trendy even? From blog editors to parent coordinators. A lot of interesting new positions have sprung up. I haven't heard of that one, parent coordinators. You can get the details online at CNN.com/most popular. We'll have the top three stories on our countdown when CNN SATURDAY MORNING returns.
HARRIS: And this just in to CNN, the Iraqi parliament meeting today and there are several developments to report, significant steps in the process to form a new government. CNN's Ryan Chilcote is following those developments for us from the convention center in Baghdad. Ryan?
RYAN CHILCOTE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Tony, Iraq finally has a prime minister designate. It happened just within the last few minutes here at the convention center. One of the leading Shiite politicians in the country was put forward. Jawad al-Maliki was named the prime minister designate by the recently-elected president.
This all became possible after the Iraqi alliance, that's the religious Shiite coalition that has the most seats in the parliament, put his name forward and withdrew the name of Ibrahim al-Jaafari for Iraq's top job after months of disagreement with the other parties whether they would support him.
Just last night they said that they were ready to submit Mr. Maliki's name. The Sunnis, the Kurds, the secular groups all said that they would support him and that is exactly what they have done just in the last couple of minutes, including in addition to also choosing Iraq's president -- sorry. One second there.
So right now we are joined by Dr. Pachachi. Thank you very much Dr. Pachachi. You are a member of course of the parliament. You were the acting speaker until the session began. Is this the moment that everybody's waiting for, a breakthrough in the political impasse that's going to bring perhaps, get the sectarian violence under control?
ADNAN PACHACHI, IRAQI PARLIAMENT MEMBER: Well, that's what we hope. Of course it all depends on the kind of government that will be formed. Now the families to designate Mr. Maliki has a month to choose his ministers and then go before parliament for a vote of confidence and if you receive that vote of confidence, then of course they will start governing the country. If he is unable to get this vote of confidence, then someone else will be charged for the government.
CHILCOTE: Thank you very much Dr. Pachachi. Dr. Pachachi again was the acting speaker of the parliament. He just participated in that parliamentary session. And of course, what he's saying there is it's very key for Mr. Maliki to form a government of national unity. That's what the United States has been saying is the only way out of the ongoing sectarian violence and the insurgency. He has one month to do that. Back to you, Tony.
HARRIS: OK, Ryan, thank you, significant steps in the political process in Iraq. CNN's Ryan Chilcote following those developments for us from Baghdad. Zain.
VERJEE: Tony, we want you to take a moment to think about events like the South Asia tsunami, the 9/11 terror attacks, and discovering the remains of a Vietnam soldier. The daunting task of identifying victims of those tragedies is really unimaginable, but for forensic scientists, it's an opportunity to help solve crimes and provide closure for grieving loved ones.
Robert Mann is a forensic anthropologist and was the author of "Forensic Detective." In it he documents the process used to crack some of the nation's most compelling forensic cases. He joins us now live to discuss a few of the cases in his book. Thanks so much for being with us this Saturday morning. You're a forensic anthropologist, a bone detective, if you will. Give us a sense of what it's like to do the kind of work that you do.
ROBERT MANN, AUTHOR, "FORENSIC DETECTIVE": Well, it's fascinating work and it's kind of a combination of "CSI" and bones. If you love to do puzzles and you love to work cold cases, this is really the type of job that you would love.
VERJEE: Very exciting and challenging I presume, also for you, but how do you deal with the human side of it, the more painful side of it, dealing with families who are suffering?
MANN: We do deal directly with families and I think when we work in cases that where forensic scientists are able to kind of compartmentalize our motions, I think we're able to see through what we're doing so that we can stay focused and we can achieve the task at hand. It's always a very emotional thing, but it's always a very necessary thing as well.
VERJEE: It's an area that most of us know very little about, but many of us are very intrigued by. I know you have a couple of models of human skulls there with you. If you can show our audience what you have and also explain what you can get from doing analysis of those skulls about someone.
MANN: OK. I think people are sometimes surprised to know that you can tell so much information from the bones. Most of us think the skeleton is just underneath all the soft tissue and the flesh and just kind of keeps us up, but when you take away all the soft tissue, you take away the fingernails, the hair, all those things that make us familiar to one another, they are some of those features that are reflected in the skeleton underneath.
This is a model that you're seeing here and this is an adult Asian male. And what we're looking at is differences in size and shape. And for example a female - you can from the skull alone, you can tell a person's age at death, their race and their sex.
MANN: For example, females, their forehead is typically vertical and males, the forehead is sloping. If you reach behind your ear and touch, there's a bump back there. What you're touching is this bump right here. It's called the mastoid process.
That's very large in males and small in females and the same holds true for their large cheek bones in males and small cheek bones in females. And another interesting way would be to sell the sex of somebody and females, along the upper border here of your eye orbit is very sharp in females and it's blunt in males.
VERJEE: You said that was an Asian male. How did you know that? Can you tell that from the skull?
MANN: You can. You can tell again by the size and shape. There are ...
VERJEE: The race? You specifically designated that.
MANN: Yes. You can tell the race. One of the ways you can tell the race is, you can look at the roof of the mouth and it's very wide and very shallow. That's a very typical trait of an Asian, but you can also look at these nasal bones. The bones between your eyes right here. In a white individual they're very large. In an Asian they're very small and in an African-American or black they're intermediate. So just these one little piece of bone on either side of the nose, that will tell you the person's race.
VERJEE: What makes the case for you difficult from your experience, identifying victims. For example, I'm thinking specifically of Jeffrey Dahmer's first victim, Stephen Hicks. That was a particularly difficult one. Why?
MANN: It was very difficult for me because it was the first case that was very highly fragmented. Most anthropologists when you've got a skeleton that's found in the woods and the police bring it to you, the skeleton is complete and it's unbroken for the most part except maybe a gun shot wound or something like that. Jeffrey Dahmer set out to intentionally destroy those remains and so he did a very good job of it. So what he did is he took the 206 bones in the normal adult human skeleton and he turned them into thousands of bones. So when you do that, it make ours job that much more difficult, but we can still piece together bones and we can still tell you a lot. We can still tell a biological profile, your age at death, your race, your sex, your stature and even how you may have died and how long you've been dead.
VERJEE: You identified remains and identities through many x- rays among other things right, from when you were involved in identifying 9/11 victims. Give us a sense of your role in that and what the big challenges for you were.
MANN: Our labs, since I work for the Joint POW/MIA Accounting Command in Hawaii, it's a government lab, a military lab and since the Pentagon was a military organization, when terrorists struck at the Pentagon on 9/11, four of us, four anthropologists were sent to Dover Air Force base which is where the bodies were taken. And our role really is we're specialists in the skeleton and we're also very good at fragmented remains and burn remains.
So we worked hand in hand with the forensic pathologists and radiologists, the x-ray technicians, all of those different specialists and what we're able to do is normally you can take an x- ray of a body part and you may only be able to tell that it is an arm. An anthropologist may be able to say well, it's not only an arm, but it's the right arm, and it's the arm of a male and it's 30 to 40-year- old male.
VERJEE: You asked go about one case an awful lot, identifying the remains of the unknown soldier in Vietnam. Tell us how you did that?
MANN: That was a very complicated case because politically and just the circumstances of the case. What happens is there were a lot of pieces of the puzzle missing in that case and in 1972, first lieutenant Michael Blassie was shot down over south Vietnam in An Loc Province. American forces couldn't get in there to get to the crash site and the remains so four or five months later, the South Vietnamese troops went in.
They were able to recover six bones, a little bit of pilot- related equipment and an identification card. All of that was taken back to the mortuary in Saigon. The identification media was lost, stolen and misplaced, we don't know. So all you had was six bones and when the scientists looked at those six bones and tried to compare to Michael Blassie's remains, the biological profile, the bones did not match his features.
The bones were of somebody who were older and shorter than Michael Blassie. Those remains were from Saigon from An Loc Province were labeled as unknown as X-26 and they were chosen of four candidates. There were four candidates that were selected to go into the tomb of the unknown from the Vietnam war. So of those four, the first two were immediately identified, were soon thereafter. The third one we couldn't be sure they were American. The fourth one we ended up saying X-26 could be an American and they were put in 1984. DNA technology came about. Secretary Cohen exhumed those remains and we were able to identify Michael Blassie all those years later with mitochondrial DNA from his bones and teeth. Technology existed.
VERJEE: Our apologies for that. We have lost one of the few people there with a technical glitch who can do some fascinating work, a forensic anthropologist, a bone detective, if you will, Robert Mann thank you so much for giving us an intriguing look into the kind of work that you do. We're going to take a short break. So stay with CNN.
DE LA CRUZ: Well, like we promised you, our countdown continues with the top three stories at CNN.com. For number three, do you remember that song "Laughter in the Rain", Neil Sedaka.
DE LA CRUZ: I love that. How about the Captain and Tenille, the "Muskrat Love Song?
DE LA CRUZ: Well, those songs unfortunately making the worst song ever list at CNN.com and I can't believe it. Also making that list, "Lonely Boy" by Andrew Gold and "Yummy, Yummy, Yummy" and I can't say I ever heard of that one and that's probably the reason why.
OK, number two. A man in Oregon went to the doctor complaining of a headache. His diagnosis, 12 nails found in the man's skull. Apparently the man was high on methamphetamines and suicidal when he fired 12 two-inch nails into his head with a nail gun.
And number one, drum roll, please. Tony, thank you. Talk about a diva. This swimsuit model has been arrested for allegedly hitting a flight attendant. May Anderson was on a flight coming in from Amsterdam and apparently continued being loud and violent when officers met her on the ground in Miami.
She was examined for alcohol and substance abuse and then transferred to county jail. Her modeling agency though says this is not common for Anderson who they say they have had nothing, but wonderful experiences with. I wish you could see her before picture because I know that you guys would recognize here in a heartbeat.
HARRIS: She's a swimsuit model. Yes. OK, so was that the mug shot?
DE LA CRUZ: That was her mug shot. Well, what do you think?
HARRIS: It was a mug shot. If it's a mug shot -- they go with the thing. DE LA CRUZ: No. We're seeing it up close. Look at her lip. She definitely looks like she's been in some sort of a ...
HARRIS: ...a little smackdown.
DE LA CRUZ: A little smackdown.
HARRIS: ... a little model smackdown.
DE LA CRUZ: "Muskrat Love," I can't believe it made that list. It's like one of my all-time favorite songs.
DE LA CRUZ: Yes.
HARRIS: We got to talk.
DE LA CRUZ: Do I have bad taste in music?
HARRIS: We can find all those stories.
VERJEE: We adore you anyway.
DE LA CRUZ: I loved you up until this point. ...
VERJEE: I should stop -- oh, the rain in Spain -- the rain in Spain ...
DE LA CRUZ: Thank you.
HARRIS: To our e-mail question, we've been asking you all morning this is the outrage of the week, weeks to come. What do you think? Who is to blame for high gas prices, Zain?
VERJEE: Matthew Miller's got an opinion and he says: "It's clearly Bush and I voted for him twice. The president, the Bush family and the Carlyle Group have made a fortune off very high gas prices."
HARRIS: And this from Zal, who writes -- he's from Toronto: "No doubt, the government, they use any excuse to rise the prices. Now this is Iran. Yesterday it was Iraq."
VERJEE: And Larry from Austintown, Ohio: "There's enough blame to go around. First, let's start with our leaders. We have an oil man as president and vice president. Enough said there."
HARRIS: Thank you for your e-mails. You did great this morning. Thank you so much. We'll have another question for you tomorrow morning. New next hour, should we have seen this latest spike in gas prices coming and how did we get to this point? CNN investigates after the break.
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