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CNN SUNDAY MORNING

Nagin to Face Louisiana Lt. Gov. Landrieu in Runoff for Mayor of New Orleans; Al Jazeera Airs New bin Laden Audiotape

Aired April 23, 2006 - 07:00   ET

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


ZAIN VERJEE, CNN ANCHOR: No winner yet in New Orleans. Residents will be heading back to the polls on the 20th of May to decide who'll be the city's next mayor. Incumbent Ray Nagin got the most votes but he did not win a clear majority. Nagin will face Louisiana Lieutenant Governor Mitch Landrieu in the May run-off. Both men are democrats.
TONY HARRIS, CNN ANCHOR: Don't blink, you'll miss another gas increase, two more cents overnight, that's how much a gallon of unleaded regular gas went up overnight. That's the latest information from AAA. To get a real idea of what's going on, take a look at this. Today we are paying --

VERJEE: Oh, boy.

HARRIS: Another day of outrage. 39 more cents per gallon on average than we were just a month ago. And experts say we'll likely see even higher prices ahead.

VERJEE: Increased violence in Afghanistan leaves a security guard dead. A U.S. funded Afghan construction company came under attack in Kandahar province last night. The company's director says Taliban guerrillas killed a guard and wounded two others. 14 vehicles were burned.

HARRIS: Early morning in Baghdad, crews battled fires from a rocket attack outside Iraq's defense ministry. The rocket landed at 8:00 a.m. Baghdad time, at an entrance used by workers to enter the heavily fortified compound just inside the green zone. Six Iraqis were killed and two wounded in the attack.

VERJEE: And happy birthday, that is to Britain's Queen Elizabeth, she turned 80 on Friday.

HARRIS: Looks great.

VERJEE: Yeah, she does, doesn't she. It was really all about the pomp and the ceremony as five days of marvelous festivities come to an end. Some royal fans waited along the street for hours just to personally wish the queen happy birthday. It's officially celebrated also throughout Britain sometime in June actually. And the reason is, Tony, the weather. People can eventually go outside and celebrate in June. The queen's 15 years past her retirement age also, and she's still hanging tough and keeping a full schedule.

HARRIS: Looking great.

Well at the CNN Center this is CNN SUNDAY MORNING, 7:00 a.m. here in Atlanta and 6:00 a.m. in New Orleans. Good morning, everyone, I'm Tony Harris.

VERJEE: He went easy on me yesterday, so I decided to come back. I'm Zain Verjee in for Betty Nguyen, thanks so much for being with us.

HARRIS: We have a lot coming up over the next three hours. This week marked the seventh anniversary of the Columbine massacre and one student says it's the best thing that has happened to her. How she's turned her survivor's guilt into a spiritual awakening.

And at 8:00 a.m. eastern, time's ticking and the race is on to repair the levee system in New Orleans before the start of a new hurricane season. But can the city beat the clock? Plus -- the incredible harmonies of multi Grammy winners Take 6 are blending their voices with Aaron Neville to help rebuild homes in New Orleans. And at 9:00 a.m. eastern, wake the kids, slap your husband, grab a cup of coffee, 9:00 a.m. eastern Take 6 in the house.

VERJEE: The unofficial results are in, but the race still isn't over. New Orleans voters go back to the polls next month to decide who will become mayor and oversee the city's reconstruction. The choice is down to the current mayor and the son of a former mayor. Gulf coast correspondent Susan Roesgen has the details.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

SUSAN ROESGEN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Mayor Ray Nagin [ applause ] and Lieutenant Governor Mitch Landrieu, they finished one and two in the primary and now they'll face each other in the run-off next month.

LT. GOV. MITCH LANDRIEU, (D) MAYORAL CANDIDATE: We in New Orleans will be one people. We will speak with one voice and we will have one future.

ROESGEN: Landrieu comes from a prominent political family. His father Moon Landrieu was mayor of New Orleans from 1970 to 1978. And his sister is U.S. senator Mary Landrieu. As a former state legislator and now lieutenant governor, Landrieu has promised to overcome the friction between city and state officials that he says has slowed the city's recovery. But Mayor Nagin says now is not the time for the city to experiment with new leadership. Political analysts say if it weren't for Katrina, he would have cruised to a second term. Instead he'll have to rally supporters for the run-off.

MAYOR RAY NAGIN, (D) NEW ORLEANS: There are too many people who thought this city should go in a different direction. But the people, the people have said they like the direction we're going in.

ROESGEN: The votes were carried in to be counted under armed guard, part of the extra precautions taken by state election officials who knew the world would be watching. Now they're getting ready for the final race on May 20th. Susan Roesgen, CNN, New Orleans.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

HARRIS: Look, Americans everywhere are fuming over high gasoline prices. AAA reports the national average rose another two cents overnight to $2.90 per gallon. Now perhaps most frustrating is that even President Bush may be powerless to do anything about it. Instead the president used earth day yesterday to talk up one long-term alternative.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I saw cars and buses that run on hydrogen instead of gasoline. And that emit pure water instead of exhaust fumes. This nation does not have to choose between a strong economy and a clean environment. We can have both at the same time.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

HARRIS: Okay, in a few minutes we will take a closer look at how gas prices could shape the political landscape this summer with senior political analyst Bill Schneider.

VERJEE: Congresswoman Cynthia McKinney continues to be dogged by last month's confrontation with a capitol hill police officer. The Georgia democrat who was in Atlanta yesterday to meet with constituents, was asked about the incident at least four times by a reporter. McKinney objected to the questions and walked away still wearing a live microphone. Renee Starzyk of affiliate WGCL explains what happened next.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

RENEE STARZYK, WGCL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Cynthia McKinney had a warm welcome for the people in her congressional district. This monthly Q&A, her first since she was accused of punching a capitol police officer.

REP. CYNTHIA MCKINNEY (D), GEORGIA: Now, what can we do for you?

STARZYK: McKinney's accused of hitting the officer who stopped her at a security checkpoint. She was not wearing the special pin that identifies her as a member of congress. The congress woman first accused the officer of racial profiling, then backed down and apologized, calling the whole thing a misunderstanding. So, what did she tell her constituents about the incident?

Has anyone asked you about your confrontation with the capitol police officer?

MCKINNEY: Actually, you, media people are the only ones who are asking about that.

STARZYK: McKinney still refuses to answer questions about the scuffle, saying she wants to focus on what's important to voters.

You're talking about issues. Has the confrontation made it harder for you to focus on the issues?

MCKINNEY: You're a distraction because that seems to be all you want to talk about. But people here understand that my representation is much larger than any discrete incident.

STARZYK: McKinney then got up and walked out. Her microphone still on.

MCKINNEY: Oh crap, now you know what? They lied to Coz and Coz is a fool.

STARZYK: Coz is Coz Carson, one of the congresswoman's aides. At some point McKinney realized her microphone was on. She returned and tried to tell us what video and sound CBS46 is allowed to use.

MCKINNEY: Anything that is captured by your audio that is captured while I'm not seated in this chair, is off the record and is not permissible to be used. Is that understood?

(END VIDEOTAPE)

VERJEE: That report was from Renee Starzyk of our Atlanta affiliate WGCL.

HARRIS: Other stories across America this morning, a grisly hit and run in California. Have you heard this story? Police say a driver struck and killed a woman walking along a freeway, then sped away with half the victim's body smashed through his windshield. The driver was caught and arrested when he stopped to toss the woman's body in a dumpster.

A neo-Nazi rally in Lansing, Michigan sort of fizzled. Hundreds of counter demonstrations showed up to shout down members of the national socialist movement. The white supremacists said they were taking a stand against illegal immigration. Police kept the two sides apart.

Unbelievable but true. The neighborhood was abuzz, that's for sure. Millions of bees were found in the walls of a house. Who knows how long they were there happily making honey. The hive was six feet tall and two feet wide. On the plus side, bee keepers collected about 15 pounds of honey.

VERJEE: From bees to another buzz, distracted drivers. Maybe you know a few. Tony? Are you one of them?

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I use my cell phone, I'll read, I'll do crossword puzzles.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: One hand on the wheel, one hand looking down dialing.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: When they start screaming, you know if you're driving down the highway, you have to do something for them. (END VIDEO CLIP)

VERJEE: Bad habits behind the wheel, does that sound familiar? Some new research that actually may surprise you.

HARRIS: And in the midst of suffering, Crystal Miller found hope in the Columbine tragedy. She writes, "I know beyond a shadow of a doubt that I went through Columbine so that I might love and help others." Her story ahead in our "Faces of Faith."

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

HARRIS: A midday thunderstorm cut across central North Carolina yesterday. High winds and hail downed power lines, big trees, limbs crashed through the roofs of some homes. The National Weather Service recorded about 1200 lightning strikes. The fires that followed are blamed for destroying several apartment units and some houses in Raleigh. That's the storm Zain that Reynolds was following yesterday. And I took a peek behind him, as he's got his map up. What are you following today, I saw, there's another line of storms out there you've got your eye on?

(WEATHER REPORT)

VERJEE: Two cents overnight, five cents this weekend. That's how much more we're all paying for a gallon of gas. It's really tough on the budget. It's getting on our nerves with mid term elections coming this fall though, will the president and his party take the blame? CNN's Bill Schneider joins us now from Washington this morning. Bill, growing consumer discontent and those elections, not a good mix. How much could the high price of gas actually hurt republicans in the mid term elections in November?

BILL SCHNEIDER, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: Well Zain we have some direct evidence that it can hurt republicans. They are very angry about the situation and especially frightened by the news of the possibility of gas shortages. Most Americans live in suburbs, and inexpensive and accessible gas is really what they depend on for the American way of life. Right now the latest polling, we looked at a poll taken by "ABC News" and the "Washington Post" that shows the more concerned you are about gasoline prices, the more likely you are to say you will vote democratic for congress. Republicans in congress are aware of this. They are just as eager as democrats to take advantage of this issue and protect themselves.

VERJEE: How do they deal with the perception by the public, at least, many of them who look at President Bush and Vice President Cheney and their ties with big oil and then price gouging by oil companies? How do they grapple with that?

SCHNEIDER: Well, democrats are of course raising the issue of price gouging, and it's very likely to be happening in a situation like this where oil prices are being driven up. I'd say one of the main factors is international concern about what could happen in Iran, what's happening now in Nigeria, what's happening in Venezuela. All of those fears are driving the market price up. And price gougers take advantage of it. Democrats are demanding that congress investigate price gouging and republicans are joining in on this. It could do some good in the short-run. But in the long run, the only answer is likely to be -- or even in the medium run, the answer is likely to be more fuel efficiency, alternative fuels such as the president was talking about yesterday. But that's not likely to have a major impact on gas prices within the next six and a half months. And that's the time frame for politicians before the mid-term election.

VERJEE: When you talk about alternative energy and what the president was doing, pushing proposals to boost some spending on alternative energy, do you think that the White House is hoping that the high gas prices would eventually push congress to act on the energy proposals that were laid out in the state of the union address?

SCHNEIDER: I think they are hoping that. It does give the issue greater urgency. But what you're hearing in congress right now is price gouging, investigations, do something. The view of most Americans is when prices are going up, somebody's up to no good. And that is probably true. They're taking advantage of the situation, but I'm not sure it's the entire cause of the situation.

As I say, there are international fears, there's high demand for energy in places like India and China that are growing very fast. So, you really have to have a sense of proportion about this. Yes, investigating price gouging is important, but long-term solutions are also crucial.

VERJEE: What can Americans do?

SCHNEIDER: Well, they obviously have to conserve gasoline. They have to think about buying more fuel efficient cars, they have to think about their energy usage. Most Americans already have their cars and are dependent on gasoline, but they have to figure out ways of conserving that's sensible for them, it's necessary given the price of gasoline actually. But it also will do a lot to alleviate the situation and the shortages.

VERJEE: Some good perspective from our senior political analyst Bill Schneider, actually in New York this morning. You made it from Washington to New York in the span of a three-minute interview. That's talent. Thank you. Have a good day.

We want to know what you think. Our e-mail question today is this, what can politicians do to deal with high gas prices? E-mail us at weekends@cnn.com.

HARRIS: What causes 80 percent of car crashes? Hint, you probably do it every time you get behind the wheel. The answer when we return.

VERJEE: And the war in Iraq costs U.S. taxpayers billions of dollars. How much is wasted? We're going to take a closer look, that's ahead on CNN SUNDAY MORNING.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

HARRIS: Sure, we know we're supposed to keep our eyes on the road when we drive but who hasn't fiddled with the radio or a cell phone? Who? Who among us. These everyday distractions can be dangerous, even deadly. Kathleen Koch has this report from CNN's "Paula Zahn Now."

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

KATHLEEN KOCH, CNN CORRESPONDENT: It's become such a part of daily driving that Americans don't even try to hide their bad habits behind the wheel.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I use my cell phone, I'll read. I'll do crossword puzzles.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: One hand on the wheel, one hand looking down, dialing.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: When they start screaming, you know, if you're driving down the highway, you got to do something for them.

KOCH: But new research has found nearly 80 percent of crashes involve just such types of distracted driving within three seconds before the incident.

CHARLIE KLAUER, VIRGINIA TECH TRANSPORTATION INSTITUTE: Most of the studies that have been done in the past, nearly all of them, deal with just looking at how driving behavior or how different types of distractions actually degrades driving performance. This is the first study that actually links those types of behaviors to crashes and near crashes.

KOCH: It was a mammoth study, 100 cars packed with cameras and sensors were driven by 241 people in the northern Virginia and Washington, D.C. area for more than a year. Researchers caught one driver on his cell phone nearly striking a child on a tricycle. Another driver putting in a CD almost loses control of his car. Later the same man, very drowsy, runs off the road.

In another case, the driver looks down at something in the car, swerves to miss the vehicle in front of her that stops and then hits a telephone pole. Altogether, the cameras captured 82 crashes. 761 near crashes, and more than 8,000 close calls. Researchers for the first time were able to quantify which bad habits were the riskiest. They found reaching for a moving object increases the risk of a crash by a factor of nine. Drowsiness by four. Reading or applying makeup by three times. And dialing a handheld device, like a cell phone, by nearly three times.

The most common distraction, not surprisingly, was the cell phone. Researchers found the identical number of crashes were caused whether dialing, talking, or listening. Most easily distracted, younger drivers. The study found those age 18 to 20 were four times more likely to have an inattention related crash than those over 35. Researchers hope proving a direct link between bad behavior behind the wheel and crashes might persuade drivers to change their ways. Others believe only laws can force drivers to behave like those in three states, and being considered by five that ban driving with a handheld cell phone. Kathleen Koch, CNN, Washington.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

HARRIS: And be sure to join Paula Zahn weeknights at 8:00 eastern, 5:00 pacific right here on CNN.

VERJEE: Your tax dollars wasted in Iraq? Critics say some U.S. contractors have seized the opportunity to get rich quick wasting billions of dollars. We're going to bring you the details.

HARRIS: And finding faith in tragedy. Columbine survivor Crystal Miller reflects on her life, saying, "When Columbine happened, I thought everything was over. But God made it clear I was marked for life, not marked for death." Her story straight ahead.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

HARRIS: And this just in to CNN, the U.S. military command reports three more American soldiers killed in Iraq today. The troops were killed when their vehicle was hit by a roadside bomb near Baghdad. Their deaths make eight Americans killed this weekend in the Iraqi capital. And then, there were two in the election for New Orleans mayor. Of the top two vote getters, neither incumbent Ray Nagin or challenger Lieutenant Governor Mitch Landrieu got enough votes to avoid a run-off. The run-off will be held on May 20th.

Like gas fumes, gas prices are rising skyward making us all a little woozy. About a nickel a gallon higher just this weekend. And we're paying 39 cent more per gallon on average than we were a month ago.

Georgia Congresswoman Cynthia McKinney thought she was off the record, she wasn't. While meeting with her constituents, a reporter asked her four times whether her scuffle with a capitol hill cop adversely affected her standing in her district. She abruptly walked away but her microphone was still live. She later insisted the Atlanta TV station not use an off-hand comment she made, but the station aired it any way.

Four months of political bickering and finally a break-through in Iraq's political stand-off. The parliament has named Jawad al-Maliki as the new prime minister designate. He now has 30 days to put together a cabinet. President Bush says it's an historic achievement for Iraq and a positive development for the U.S.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: The agreement reflects the will of Iraqi people, who defied the terrorists by voting to choose the men and women who will lead their nation forward. And this historic achievement by determined Iraqis will make America more secure.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

HARRIS: But Massachusetts Senator John Kerry says the U.S. should give Iraqi leaders an ultimatum, form a unity government by May 15th or the U.S. will pull its troops out immediately.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. JOHN KERRY (D) MASS: Iraqi leaders have responded only to deadlines, a deadline to transfer authority to provisional government, a deadline to hold each of their three elections and it was the most intense 11th hour pressure that just pushed aside Prime Minister Jaafari. So we must be tough and we must set another deadline to extricate our troops and get Iraq up on its own two feet.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

HARRIS: The formation of an Iraqi government is seen as a crucial step in bringing U.S. troops home. Zain.

VERJEE: Tony.

HARRIS: I have an idea. Let's take a moment here. Let us benefit from all of your international experience. Your thoughts on the formation of this new government and this new prime minister designate, and what the challenges are for this man and for this new government.

VERJEE: The challenges are formidable. I mean Washington is saying this is a break-through finally after four months of stalled discussions. They have been unable to agree on a prime minister and finally they come up with Jawad al-Maliki. But he faces the issue of getting the country united. It's really deteriorated with all the sectarian violence that has escalated under Ibrahim al-Jaafari. You also have to deal with the insurgency. That's going to be an issue. He's got to put forward a security plan. Everybody is waiting to see what kind of shape that would take and most importantly though is the economy. I mean Iraqis don't have food, electricity, basic, water. The economy is in absolute tatters so he's going to have to address that.

HARRIS: So here he is, why is he going to be better than al Jaafari?

VERJEE: Nobody knows for sure. He is much more decisive, he's seen by many, much more tough-talking, much more decisive. Al Jaafari was seen by many as very weak, ineffective and indecisive. One of the biggest challenges that Jawad al-Maliki is going to face is, as he puts together the cabinet -- as we said, he has 30 days -- but he's got to deal with the interior ministry issue. The Sunnis look at the interior ministry and say, you need to clean that up. There are death squads that are being run, Shia death squads run by the interior ministry that are the target of Sunnis and the interior ministry denied that, but U.S. troops have found something like 173 Sunnis tortured, malnutrition some time ago, so they want that cleaned up.

HARRIS: OK. So this is a story. Now look, this is another chapter for Iraq. Four months since this last election, the formation of this new government and it's another situation where we just have to wait and see, keep our fingers crossed and hope that they can get this altogether and sort it out.

VERJEE: Exactly and it's going to be tough because it's Iraq. I mean nothing is definitive and anything is possible. Al-Maliki has to navigate very carefully through all the land mines here. If he's too lenient on issues for example like cleaning up the interior ministry and other issues, the Sunnis can accuse him of sectarianism and he has to be careful not to alienate the Shias. One of the key issues that you also have to address is that of militias. There are controversial militias in Iraq that are tied to political parties like the Mehdi army and the Badr brigade. Zalmay Khalilzad, the U.S. ambassador to Iraq has said, the militias are the problem. They pose the threat to real democracy in Iraq. And they are responsible for some of the most killings of Iraqis, but most Iraqis say you know what, the army can't protect us, the militias can. And so he's got to navigate through that and just one last thing, he said yesterday, in his first policy speech, al-Maliki, the prime minister designate, that he would like to see the militias folded into the Iraqi army. The U.S. wants them disarmed. So we'll see what happens.

Thousands of U.S. troops have been killed or maimed during the war in Iraq. Some U.S. contractors have apparently seized the opportunity to get rich quick. Allegations of fraud, theft and waste are circulating on a mind-numbing scale. CNN's Tom Foreman has this report from Anderson Cooper 360.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

TOM FOREMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): After the shock and awe came rebuilding, more than $30 billion worth from U.S. taxpayers, billions more from other countries including Iraqis themselves. Money for roads, schools, power lines, bridges, prisons. What troubles attorney Alan Grayson is how some of that money was dolled out.

ALAN GRAYSON, ATTORNEY: They were getting cash. There was over $600 million of cash disseminated with essentially no controls at all.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Cash?

GRAYSON: Cash, that's right.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Bundles of money.

GRAYSON: That's right. They took a thousand $100 bills and they put a rubber band around it and that was called a football. It's called a football because they would take it and they would pass it to each other.

FOREMAN: Grayson has filed dozens of lawsuits for whistle blowers who say they witnessed widespread fraud by U.S. firms in Iraq, an often nonexistent accounting by coalition officials. The law prevents him from naming the companies or talking about how they have responded. But the office of the U.S. special inspector general for Iraq reconstruction says undeniably there have been problems. GINGER CRUZ, SIGIR: In a lot of cases we are talking about cash that was handed out to people in duffel bags and finding out what happened to that cash, if those projects were completed and holding people accountable has been a difficult challenge for us but we are doing it.

FOREMAN: One of the few fraud cases to reach court so far involved a company called Costra (ph) Battles, which contracted to provide security at the Baghdad airport.

(on-camera): Last month a Federal jury here heard accusations that Costra Battles used padded invoices and forgery to rake in millions and although the company has steadfastly denied those charges, the jury ordered Costra Battles to pay $10 million in damages.

And taxpayer rights advocates are convinced fraud, incompetence and overcharging by many U.S. contractors, large and small, have taken a grave toll on rebuilding.

JAMES MOORMAN, TAXPAYERS AGAINST FRAUD: The taxpayers lost money.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: U.S. taxpayers.

MOORMAN: U.S. taxpayers.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: How much?

MOORMAN: No one knows for sure but it's in the billions and the Iraqi people lost money. Their money is lost too.

GRAYSON: The development fund of Iraq was looted by war profiteers and warlords.

FOREMAN: Government investigators are now using satellite photos to monitor work sites and inspectors in Iraq to try to track down all the unaccounted for billions. They have more than 70 criminal investigations under way.

CRUZ: I would say that the taxpayers should feel fairly comfortable that we are doing a fairly adequate job and we are seeing progress because of our work.

FOREMAN: But Alan Grayson is pessimistic. You think there's been a genuine gold rush in Iraq?

GRAYSON: What I see every day in my own work is that the fraud is rife.

FOREMAN: He is convinced many U.S. companies went to Iraq, took the money and ran and they are running still. Tom Foreman, CNN, Washington.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

VERJEE: You can join "Anderson Cooper 360" on weeknights at 10:00 Eastern on CNN.

HARRIS: She lived through the horrors of Columbine and found faith in the process. Coming up, Crystal Miller's journey of hope and healing in our faces of faith. Reynolds, good morning.

REYNOLDS WOLF, CNN METEOROLOGIST: Good morning. Well yesterday we had some scattered showers moving through our nation's capital and that line of storms now moving out to sea, but you may see a little bit more activity into the afternoon. Here's a live image out of our nation's capital, where conditions are looking pretty good this morning. Not only do they look good, but things sound good compliments of the beautiful music of Take Six. They're going to be in the studio later on this morning. If you get a chance to tune in and meet them, it's coming up in just a few moments right here on CNN.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

VERJEE: Believe it or not, more than three million Americans commute at least 50 miles each and every day. And on top of that, many driver's spend hours stuck in bumper to bumper traffic. Could there be a better way to get to work?

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: If we're going to the moon, there has to be other ways to get to our jobs.

I get up (INAUDIBLE) every day. I have to be at work at 7:15 and I often find myself dashing across the parking lot to make it. It affects my life. It affects the way I feel, that feeling of, am I going to make it on time? Time is such a valuable thing. It's up to three hours of a day that I sit in my car and that's a huge amount of my life wasted. I would be willing to change anything that would make my commute less painful.

MILES O'BRIEN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: It is really painful when you add up all the time we spend in our cars, grinding our teeth as we grind our way through traffic. But what if we could commute through the wild blue yonder, breezing past the gridlock below?

WOODY NORRIS: One day not too far into the future, people are going to get off the ground and are going to be able to get airborne.

O'BRIEN: Woody Norris is a man with big ideas. The inventor's latest project, the air scooter. Don't let its looks fool you. This flying machine is ingenious for its simplicity. It is an odd hybrid design with blades like a helicopter, a handlebar like a motorcycle and a specially designed light-weight four-stroke engine.

NORRIS: Turn the throttle, you go up. Release the throttle and you come down.

O'BRIEN: Due to hit the market later this year with a price tag of about $50,000, Norris says the air scooter could make rush hours a thing of the past. NORRIS: With the air scooter, it's a direct line the way the bird flies. There's a lot more space up there than there is down here on the ground. So we think that's going to solve the congestion problem.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

VERJEE: Updating our top stories now, the New Orleans mayor's race is headed for a run-off next month. Incumbent Mayor Ray Nagin and Lieutenant Governor Mitch Landrieu finished first and second, but neither got an outright majority.

The cost of filling up just keeps going up. AAA says the average gas price is up to $2.90 a gallon nationwide. It's well over $3 a gallon in some parts of the country.

Six middle school boys from North Pole, Alaska are accused of plotting to kill fellow students and faculty members. Rumors about the alleged plot led to a police investigation. The seventh graders were arrested yesterday.

HARRIS: April 20, 1999, seven years ago inside the halls of Columbine High School in Littleton, Colorado, 12 students and a teacher died at the hands of two teens on a murderous rampage, Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold. But one bright spot to emerge from that dark tragedy, stories of survival and faith and the remarkable things some of the survivors went on to do. Crystal Woodman Miller is one of those whose life was changed that horrible day. She recounts the Columbine massacre and her growing faith in her book "Marked for Life." Miller travels the world carrying with her firsthand testimony on the power of faith and healing. Crystal, good to see you.

CRYSTAL WOODMAN MILLER, AUTHOR, "MARKED FOR LIFE": Thank you. Good to see you.

HARRIS: It's great to have you here.

MILLER: Thank you.

HARRIS: "Marked for Life," that's an interesting title. What does it mean?

MILLER: "Marked for Life" really I think epitomizes the journey that I've been on thus far seven years later. Really I believe that it's not -- no longer am I marked by my past or the decisions I made or the regrets or even the tragedy itself, but I'm marked with purpose. I'm marked with Jesus himself and so that's exactly why I have written this book, is I believe that there's really so much good that has come from the events at Columbine.

HARRIS: We'll talk about the 20th in a moment, but take me back to a couple of other days. Let's talk first about the 19th, April 19th. What do you remember about the day before?

MILLER: April 19th? I was an ordinary 16-year-old girl, had 16- year-old thoughts on my mind, hair, wardrobe, makeup, the test that I forgot to study for and of course the deep yearning to belong. Every student wants to feel accepted by their peers. They want to be popular. I mean, I just, I was a normal girl. And that -- in many ways came at a very high price, you know. Of course most weekends you could find me partying, drinking, giving guys little pieces of my heart time and time again, just thinking that it would fill this emptiness, this void that was in my life.

HARRIS: So the 20th. Walk us through that. Don't spend a lot of time on it but just walk us through it and tell us -- paint a picture of some the more vivid moments from that day.

MILLER: Of course that afternoon I chose to pass my lunch hour away in our school library, myself and two of my friends headed there because I did have a test to study for. And we had been in the library about five minutes when absolute chaos broke out. We heard students screaming and running. In fact we heard a teacher come running through saying that there was guys with guns and bombs. Initially we thought it was a joke, some sort a senior prank, that this couldn't possibly be happening in our small town of Littleton, Colorado.

But quickly learned that the situation was all too real, as we noticed a student who had been very badly wounded. And it was too late to run or hide and so we got underneath of our tables and it was at that time that I realized that I better make some pretty serious decisions in my life. In fact, a good friend of mine who was under the table with me vowed to take a bullet for me. And it was at that moment that I cried out to God and I said God if you're real, God get me out of here alive. I will serve you, I will give you my life just give me a second chance. I'll quit doing all these things. God just give me another chance.

HARRIS: And you survived it.

MILLER: I did.

HARRIS: And you moved on, obviously, and you tell us that it was the best thing to happen to you.

MILLER: Absolutely. I believe that with full assurance that Columbine was the best thing that ever happened to me that day because, not because of the death and the destruction, but because of the person that I am today. I believe that it really shook me to the core of who I was. And it caused me to really see who and what I was living for. And I realized that I think for the rest of my life I would have been very wishy-washy not knowing who I was or who I lived for and it gave me really the ability to be bold and it gave me a platform to step out there regardless of what people think about me, regardless of the cost.

HARRIS: Have you in your own life forgiven Harris and Klebold?

MILLER: Absolutely. It was tough. There were days where I didn't want to. I thought I'm 16 years old. My whole life has turned upside down. I can't imagine going on in this life, yet it was day by day just going OK guys, I can't do this. I cannot forgive these boys. Give me the ability to do so and it was a moment by moment reliance upon him. But I can honestly tell you, if I was to look into their eyes today, if they were still alive, I could say I forgive you.

HARRIS: How are you, just a final question? How are you today? I know you're married and probably planning a family at some point down the road here. How are you?

MILLER: I'm great. With the ability to just use this, this Columbine and bring it full circle and share hope with people and this -- in this dark and desperate world, I'm so grateful for the opportunity, for the life that I've been given. And I'm grateful for my husband, he's such a support. And it's just been a wonderful journey over the last seven years. I never thought at 23 I would have a book.

HARRIS: Boy, it's good to see you.

MILLER: Thank you so much.

HARRIS: You are a published author and great to see you. You look so good and that's a great smile on your face and we're happy to see it and the best for the rest of your life.

MILLER: Wonderful, thank you. Take care.

VERJEE: So optimistic.

HARRIS: How about that? Wasn't that great?

VERJEE: Well, another story that we have been focusing on. You have been emptying your pockets at the pump so who should pay the price? Do you think the politicians should? We have been asking you that this morning. What can lawmakers do to deal with the high gas prices?

HARRIS: We will read a few of your e-mails and check the morning forecast for the nation after this quick time out.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

WOLF: OK. Let's play the maybe game. Maybe you happen to be a golfer, OK? Follow me here. Maybe you just want to play a round of golf, but you're not sure where in this wonderful country to go. Try Houston, that's right, Texas. Things should be pretty good there today. We're expecting skies -- that is the biggest golf ball I have ever seen. It's like the death star. It's going to be beautiful out there, 85 degrees out there, a mix of sunshine and clouds and I'll tell you with that southeast breeze at five to 10 miles per hour, in the afternoon it could crank up to 20. So if you have the wind at your back, boom, those drives can just keep going and going and going. Of course, you're just going to say it's all your own muscle causing it. That's what I would do. That's for sure.

A little bit farther to the north though, there's going to be a chance of some storms popping up mainly for portions of Oklahoma, a little bit north of the Red River Valley, the primary threat we're seeing from this, the potential for some heavy rain, lightning of course and possibly some nickel, dime-sized hail. So that's one area we're going to have to watch. Some people up in Billings, our good friends up there are saying when is this spring thing going to start because they're going to be seeing some snowfall today, possibly four to six inches in some places there.

In the central valleys of California, there's the potential for some rain, but in the high elevations of the Sierra, we could be seeing some snow. Very quickly in terms of temperatures, we're expecting a high of 90 degrees in Phoenix today, 70 in Salt Lake City. As we wrap it up, there is the -- well, looking pretty good for portions of St. Louis over to Washington, DC, 72 degrees. And for New York and Boston, mainly some upper to mid 50s. So all things considered, it looks like a pretty nice day weather-wise around the country. If you're a golfer or if you're not a golfer, whatever you do for fun, it should be a perfect day for you especially with umbrellas if you happen to be in parts of say Oklahoma or north Texas.

HARRIS: Are you going to play with us on the e-mails here?

WOLF: Why not (INAUDIBLE) .

VERJEE: (INAUDIBLE)

HARRIS: Here is a question we have been asking you this morning. What can politicians do to deal with the high gas prices? There is the address. You can -- there's still time for you to send us an e-mail along. Bob writes I truly believe the government can do something now. High gas prices are ruining our economy. Everything is going up because of energy prices. We are canceling our vacations because of the high price of fuel. Thanks, Bob.

VERJEE: Donovan Lord from Dallas, Texas says politicians need to stop playing the game of politics and do what's best for our country. Push for and campaign for sustainable alternatives to oil and gas. If they would have done it when they were warned 20 years ago, this wouldn't be an issue now.

WOLF: And unknown -- what a kooky name. Unknown says that politicians should take an extended vacation and not come back to Congress. Because they can't agree on how to solve this problem as long as they are getting money under the table from big oil companies. Very interesting.

HARRIS: And what we're asking for -- yesterday was about griping. We griped, we griped. Today we are just asking for some thoughts on a solution, solutions, perhaps. Here's the question again. What can politicians do to deal with high gas prices? There is the address, weekends@cnn.com. The next hour of CNN SUNDAY MORNING begins in a moment.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

VERJEE: News out of Iraq this morning. Three U.S. soldiers have been killed near Baghdad. They died when their vehicle hit a roadside bomb. Eight American soldiers died in the capital this weekend.

Also in Baghdad, rocket fire left six Iraqis dead. Police say that attack was part of a series of mortar rounds that exploded in the center of the city. Three hit inside the heavily fortified green zone where the Iraqi parliament meets.

HARRIS: New Orleans will have to do it again. There's no clear winner in yesterday's race for mayor. Incumbent Ray Nagin took most of the votes but didn't get a clear majority. Nagin will face Louisiana Let. Governor Mitch Landrieu in a run-off election next month.

Paying more at the pump? Two cents more since yesterday and five cents since Friday. That is what AAA says is happened to U.S. gas prices. Some analysts predict this price run-up will slow, but it's not happening yet.

Protesters chant and wave flags, facing off against police. This is the scene again in the streets of Kathmandu, the capital of pal. Bans on cell phones went into effect yesterday for the second time in a month. There is a curfew, and the demonstrations against the king's absolute rule are in their third week, and we'll have a live report in 15 minutes.

VERJEE: Hail to the queen and happy birthday, too. Queen Elizabeth II has turned 80 this past week and what a week for the empire. Lots of the former empire, lots of parties and plenty of pomp. The celebration winds down today with crowds of well-wishers waiting hours just to great the majesty.

Hello from the CNN Center, this is CNN SUNDAY MORNING. It's Sunday the 23rd of April. 8:00 a.m. at CNN Headquarters in Atlanta. Good morning, I'm Zain Verjee filling in for Betty Nguyen.

HARRIS: Good morning everyone, I'm Tony Harris. Thank you for being with us.

The top story, and then there were two. The crowded field of candidates for mayor of New Orleans is a lot smaller this morning, but the race is still not over. A runoff next month will determine who will receive the crescent city's rebuilding after hurricane Katrina.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

HARRIS (voice-over): Two familiar names emerge from a field of nearly two dozen candidates. Incumbent Mayor Ray Nagin and Let. Governor Mitch Landrieu face each other in a May 20th runoff. Nagin finished first despite the controversy over come of his comments, like the time he was blasted by critics for saying that New Orleans would remain a majority black chocolate city.

NAGIN: I stand here before you a humble man, someone who never thought that I would have this kind of support. After some of the crazy things I've said. But I have said some things and I have done more things. And I'm going to continue to live by my deeds. So excuse me every now and then if I go a little too far.

HARRIS: Landrieu, the son of the city's last white mayor says the election shows that residents are willing to work together to rebuild. LT. GOV. MITCH LANDRIEU, (D) MAYORAL CANDIDATE: We have said loudly and clearly that we will push off the forces of division and that we will find higher common ground, that we tried to find on that fateful day, August 29th, 2005, when we literally found ourselves in the same boat. We were in the same boat then, and we are in the same boat now.

HARRIS: Just holding the election was a daunting task. Voters were scattered across the country, polling places were damaged by Katrina. But the Louisiana secretary of state calls it a success.

AL ATER, LOUISIANA SECRETARY OF STATE: It seems that we've had a very good election. All the polls are closing down. Been very, very smooth. Really and truthfully the only technical problem that we had all day long was the one where we lost power at one of the precincts for about 30 minutes.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

HARRIS: The secretary of state estimates about 107,000 people voted. That puts the turnout percentage in the high 30s.

VERJEE: It's a multibillion-dollar question; will the levees protecting New Orleans be fixed before the hurricane season? The Army Corps of Engineers says, yes. Scientists studying the rebuilding efforts, though, say no. So who is right? CNN's Sean Callebs is keeping them honest. It's an exclusive interview you saw first on "Anderson Cooper 360."

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

SEAN CALLEBS, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice over): The New Orleans levees. The only protection the city has from the waters that surround it. Repairs to the levees along with massive new floodgates are supposed to be ready by the start of hurricane season June 1st. it's a race against time, and a scientist and an engineer on the project tell CNN, the deadline cannot be met.

The two men say the demands are too great, and despite a valiant effort by the Army Corps of Engineers, it's unrealistic to expect the multibillion-dollar repairs to be finished. The scientist told CNN he is urging the corps to go public with news of the likely delay. But despite the voices to the contrary, the colonel, heading up task force guardian says New Orleans will be safe.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Some of the work will be -- will be ongoing after June. It's not a question of one June will come and all the bulldozers will be the levees.

CALLEBS: But there a lot of variables that could hold things up, wind could have a big impact and four giant chair-like devices weighing 75 tons have to be lifted and placed on pilings, just like Lego pieces according to the Corps of Engineers. And the margin for error, perhaps two inches. To complete floodgates 11 iron plates weighing ten ton apiece have to be lifted and attached to the skeleton of the floodgates. Too much wind, and it becomes too dangerous to use the crane.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We're doing an amount of work in a short amount of time that's unprecedented.

CALLEBS: There are earthen levees being raised as well. Too much rain could slow efforts to use heavy machinery in muck and mud.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I'm very confident that we will be done and be able to provide pre-Katrina levels of protection before one June.

CALLEBS: The Corps knows the world is watching and the deadline is approaching.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The proof will be in the pudding on one June and at some point our work will get tested by Mother Nature.

CALLEBS: No one is eager to test the system, but they may have to soon. Hurricane season is less than a month and a half away.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

HARRIS: Breaking news into CNN, Al Jazeera has just we understand aired what it says is a new audiotape from Al Qaeda's leader, Osama bin Laden. You're looking at pictures now, a signal feed from Al Jazeera on your screen right now. When we get one of these tapes, Zain, what we are most interested in, first of all is our ability to authenticate that it is, in fact, Osama Bin Laden. That process is ongoing right now.

The second thing we want to do is to pick up on any time stamps. That gives us a sense of the immediacy of the tape, when it might have been recorded. Is it a new audiotape, is it dated? And on this particular audiotape that Al Jazeera just aired a short time ago, there is one relevant time stamp. The speaker does reference the recent elections of the Hamas government in the Palestinian authority, in the Palestinian territory.

So we are working feverishly right now to authenticate everything that we can. We are monitoring the tape for its authenticity. And we will continue to do that throughout the course of the morning and bring you more of the details of this tape as we get them.

VERJEE: And we'll address these questions.

We turn now to stories from across America. In Lansing, Michigan, potentially explosive neo-Nazi demonstrations remained orderly. Hundreds of counter demonstrations showed up to shout down the national movement. The white supremacist said they were taking a stand against illegal immigration and police kept the two sides apart.

HARRIS: A second American school deals with students reportedly planning mass murder. Police in a North Pole Alaska town arrested half dozen seventh graders who police say had an elaborate plan to kill classmates and teachers. Authorities believe they stopped a similar plot last week in Kansas. The anniversary of the Columbine School massacre was Thursday. A bear attack in the rugged Olympic Mountains of western Washington State to tell you about. The bear attacked a hunter, breaking his arm before a second hunter shot and killed the bear. The injured hunter lost a lot of blood and was rushed to the nearest hospital. But he is expected to survive.

And once again, OK, let's move forward to talk about gas prices. OPEC officials scheduled a sit down in June, whether this session will have any kind of an impact or effect on oil production or gas prices is anyone's guess. In the meantime, prices at the pump up again overnight, an average, it stands at $2.90 a gallon and to make matters worse, there's a shortage of some of the gas in some markets. CNN's Kareen Wynter has more.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

KAREEN WYNTER, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice over): You've heard the complaints.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: This is ridiculous. This is not -- this is not normal.

WYNTER: So now what? The consumer analysts warn, strap in for a bumpy ride. With record-high gas prices ahead of the peak summer driving season.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Then what happens after that is anybody's guess.

WYNTER: Never mind predictions. Many frustrated drivers like Rachael Leigh want solutions to what some consumer groups call energy crises.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Every time you see the price of gasoline go up at the pump, you can hear ka ching, ka ching in the bank accounts of the oil companies.

WYNTER: Experts say speculators gambling on the spot market as well as the industries switch to less polluting ethanol have fueled costs. The state average for a regular unleaded in California, $3.05 a gallon, up nearly 60 cents from this time last year. At this Beverly Hills gas station, $4 for full-service, high-octane fuel. To drive down prices, some economists suggest temporarily increasing oil production, so supply catches up with demand.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: By June, we'll probably have overproduced more than we need in June. July, we'll start to see prices come down.

WYNTER: Analysts say consumers also play a crucial role.

CAROL THORP, AUTO CLUB OF SOUTHERN CA: Some of the solution to the oil problems, and people don't like to hear this, but it is true, lies within ourselves. It's the type of cars we buy. It's how much we drive. It's how we drive when we're driving. It's whether we take advantage of public transportation if it's available and telecommuting. WYNTER: Kareen Wynter, CNN, Los Angeles.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

VERJEE: President Bush suggests Americans should prepare themselves to wean themselves from gas-operated vehicles and consider hydrogen-powered cars. Here's what he had to say on Earth Day yesterday in California.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

BUSH: I saw cars and buses that run on hydrogen, instead of gasoline. And that emit pure water instead of exhaust fumes. This nation does not have to choose between a strong economy and a clean environment. We can have both at the same time.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

HARRIS: So what do you think? What can politicians do to deal with high gas prices? E-mail us your thoughts. There's the e-mail address, WEEKENDS@CNN.com.

VERJEE: On the edge of a revolution, another day of battle between the king's security forces and thousands of protesters in Nepal. A live report coming up on CNN SUNDAY MORNING.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

CAROL COSTELLO, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice over): According to "Golf Digest," there are over 27 million golfers in the United States. One of the biggest misconceptions about golf is that it's not a physically demanding sport. However, the reality is that golf swing is a complex and repetitive move, and a lot of golfers suffer from back, hip and shoulder injuries. Researchers at the golf and fitness lab at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center are trying to prevent injury.

JOE MYERS, UNIV. OF PITTSBURGH GOLF LAB: We can improve golf performance and decrease injury by changing the physical fitness level of the golfer.

COSTELLO: Reflective markers were placed on the golfer and monitored with a 3d motion analysis system, complete with high-speed cameras and then researchers were able to measure what the golfer's body is doing during the golf swing.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I'm trying to increase my strength and increase spinal flexibility along with trying to learn good spinal mechanics.

COSTELLO: This evaluation can cost between $50 and $850, and for that each golfer receives a personalized fitness program to improve their performance. Let's hope they "follow through."

Carol Costello, CNN.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

HARRIS: Just want to update you on now on the breaking news into CNN. In the last ten minutes or so the Al Jazeera network has just aired what it calling a new audiotape from Al Qaeda's leader, Osama Bin Laden. Now, that recording aired just a short time ago inside the last half hour on Al Jazeera. Our senior Arab affairs editor is actually right now translating that tape. When she has finished that process, she's going to give us a call, and she will share with us what she has learned, but once again, just to update you on the breaking news. Inside the last ten minutes the Al Jazeera network has just aired what it is calling a new audiotape from Al Qaeda's leader, Osama Bin Laden. We will bring you the latest as soon as we get some additional information on this story.

VERJEE: The curfew and the cell phone ban in the Mountain Kingdom of Nepal failed to prevent more clashes today in Kathmandu. Officially the curfew set to end two hours from now, but riot police have already confronted thousands of pro democracy protesters. CNN's Dan Rivers is in the capital and he joins us live from Kathmandu. Dan what is it going to take to end this crises?

DAN RIVERS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: I really don't know. We've just come back from the ring road, which surrounds the city, and have been really violent clashes out there. The police have been firing rubber bullets and tear gas at the protesters and the protesters have been fighting back with bricks and stones and pretty much anything they can find to throw at the police and soldiers. And this has been going on all afternoon. There aren't quite the same number of people out there today as there were yesterday, but there were, again, a good couple of thousand in the area we were at, and it was really a pitched battle for a couple of hours there. It was really very volatile.

The police were forced to retreat at one point. Then they charged the crowd. Then they retreated, and then they charged. This went on for quite some time. But crucially in the center of Katmandu, where I am now, it's all quiet. The curfew is holding here. They've thrown a cordon around the whole edge of the city and they are stopping anyone from going in.

VERJEE: Dan, the Maoist insurgency has been going on since, I believe, 1996, the Maoists want to overthrow the monarchy and create a communist state in Nepal. To what extent are Maoists organizing and inciting the demonstrators?

RIVERS: I've seen no evidence at all for that so far. It's very difficult to tell, though. The people, who are out there, you know, look like ordinary, regular people. It's very difficult to tell if underneath it all it's being orchestrated at all by the Maoists on or if the Maoists are infiltrating the protesters. Certainly I haven't seen anyone who is wearing any sort of militia uniform. I haven't seen any of the protesters carrying guns or anything like that. At the moment it looks genuinely like it's a real spontaneous outpouring of anger from the people. I mean, there are lots of women and children out there; for example, there are lots of kids throwing stones. There are lots of teenagers throwing stones. It's not just the men. There's a whole mixture of society out there, all-fighting for democracy.

VERJEE: Dan Rivers reporting to us from Kathmandu. Thanks Dan .

Tony.

HARRIS: We want to update our breaking news this hour, and that is the fact that Al Jazeera has just aired what it is calling a new audiotape from Al Qaeda's leader, Osama Bin Laden. We told you just a moment ago that our senior Arab Affairs editor Octavia Nasr was working over that audiotape. She is on the line with us.

And Octavia, good to talk to you, and I don't want to steal your thunder, but you've already contributed some of the information that you've learned from this tape to help us with the wire for CNN. So give us a sense of what you've heard, what you've been able to glean from the tape.

OCTAVIA NASR, CNN'S ARAB AFFAIRS EDITOR, (via telephone): Well, first of all, it does sound like Osama Bin Laden. CNN can never confirm for sure unless we see him that it is him. We wait for more technical analysis of the audio, but it does sound like Osama Bin Laden. And the information on the tape is new. Basically what he did, he talked about the very current events, especially the Hamas government opposition to the Hamas government by the west.

He attacked that, saying the proof of the crusader war against Islam. As a matter his whole speech seems to have that as a theme. He repeated this is the crusader war on Islam about four times that I counted in this short period of time that Al Jazeera aired. The other events he describes the Sudan. He describes the Somalia. And basically already the reaction, they had two terrorism experts, especially Al Qaeda experts, on.

What they are saying is that the lead here is that Osama Bin Laden is taken charge of Al Qaeda again. And, you know, we haven't heard from Osama Bin Laden since January. That was the last time an audio was released of him, and Al Jazeera aired this. Before that, he took about a year and a half that he was totally silent.

In the meantime, we heard a lot from his number two man, Ayman Al-Zawahiri. So basically what these experts are saying, this is Osama Bin Laden taking charge again, proving to the world that he is very well aware of what's going on around the world. He knows the latest news. He's also discussing the current events and telling his people basically to act. The gist --

HARRIS: So --

NASR: The summary, you know, if there is a summary here, is that he is trying to tell his supporters that there is a crusader war against Islam, and it's time for them to act.

HARRIS: Octavia, just a quick question. Are these experts that are on Al Jazeera, are they speculating on why Osama Bin Laden is asserting himself right now? You mentioned Ayman Al Zawahiri and also much of the controls for the activity in Iraq has been turned over to Zarqawi. So why now, why this timing?

NASR: This is speculation on their part, but these are people that know Bin Laden and some of them know him personally. What they are saying is that it seems that the leader of Al Qaeda has realized that it is now time for him to show up and show up strong. Now, you have to remember, Bin Laden hasn't spoken in a long, long time. And the tape that we got in January didn't really -- he didn't -- he didn't really try to rally the troops, if we are to use an expression that our audience would identify with.

HARRIS: Sure, sure.

NASR: So basically they are saying, this is rallying the troops. This is the old Bin Laden that used to submit these tapes so that his people will act. So if -- you know, if people are listening and they are waiting for a sign, this would be a sign for action. Now, there were no threats. He didn't call on any particular attack on any specific country, which he had done in the past. There are no specific threats here in his speech. But it's basically trying to tell people that he is, first of all, alive, that he is well, that he's well informed, and he wants his people to know that this is a crusade --

HARRIS: Sure.

NASR: Against Islam and its time for them to act.

HARRIS: Octavia, let me have you stay on the line with us, we've got to quickly get to a break, but we'll talk more about this tape on the other side of the break. Breaking news on CNN, a new tape from Al Jazeera, reportedly from Osama Bin Laden, a quick break. We will be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

HARRIS: Continuing to follow the breaking news, Al Jazeera airing an audiotape a short time ago, reportedly from Osama Bin Laden. Octavia Nasr is on the line with us. Octavia, just a couple of quick questions and Zain's going to jump in here with me as well. How long -- do we know how long this audiotape is?

NASR: Well, Al Jazeera didn't say how long the tape is. It also didn't say how it obtained it, and they never do. As a matter of fact, what happens usually is I will call them later on and try to find out. They will tell me how long the original tape, but, of course, this just happened, you know, this kind of information, we will late to get later. It's more important to put it out there for our audience before we get the small details.

HARRIS: Got you. We want to establish a couple of things. So at this point do you believe you've heard -- do you believe there is more for you to hear on this tape, correct?

NASR: Absolutely.

HARRIS: OK.

NASR: As a matter of fact, Al Jazeera was clear about this, they day is that he talked about other issues and they mentioned them, but usually CNN's style is to stay away from any information that CNN did not hear, firsthand. So we usually wait. And what happens, what happened in the past, is that the whole tape will surface on the Internet somewhere on one of the radical Islamic sites, and we will be able to translate the whole thing, and analyze it, because what we found also in the past is that what is news worthy for Al Jazeera might not be as news worthy for CNN.

HARRIS: Got you.

NASR: And some stuff that Al Jazeera omitted, for example, might turn out to be something that we are interested in.

HARRIS: I see, I see.

NASR: Are interested in as news and we will also bring it to the audience if we hear that, if we find that it's news worthy.

VERJEE: Octavia, why do you think we're getting an audiotape and not videotape?

NASR: You know, it has been, you know, of late this is the only thing we're getting from Osama Bin Laden. Experts have different opinions on this. First of all, they say an audiotape is easier to smuggle out, and, you know, less suspect to be caught. And, you know, lead back to him, so basically they say that this is a measure of security for Bin Laden.

You know, others say that he could be in a remote area where he doesn't have access to a camera crew and camera and tapes and all that. So audio is much easier to record and transport from one point to the other. The other reason experts would say is that he could be looking a bit different. He could be looking older. He could be -- he could have changed his appearance. So, you know, there are several reasons that you might want to look into when you get an audio and not a video, but that's also why CNN says we cannot confirm 100 percent, Osama Bin Laden, because we don't see him. So we wait for the technical analysis, usually CIA would do a technical analysis, comparing his voice here with his voice on older tapes that are known to be him. And that confirmation would come, you know, a day or two later.

HARRIS: Sure. OK Octavia you will join us at the top of the hour?

NASR: Absolutely.

HARRIS: And once again, we are following a breaking story, a new audiotape to Al Jazeera, purportedly from al Qaeda's number one, Osama bin Laden. More on this at the top of the hour. Right now, let's get you to Dr. Sanjay Gupta and "HOUSE CALL."

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