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3 More U.S. Soldiers Charged With Rape & Murder in Mahmoudiya Case; Russian Airline Crash; North Korea Threat

Aired July 9, 2006 - 09:00   ET


TONY HARRIS, CNN ANCHOR: Good morning, everyone.
We are following this breaking news out of Iraq.

The U.S. military has announced more charges in the slaying of an Iraqi family in Mahmoudiya. The military says three soldiers have been charged with participating in the rape and murder of a girl and killing three members of her family. A fourth soldier has been charged with dereliction of duty for failing to report the case.

Last week a fifth soldier, Steven Green, now discharged, was charged in this case. He pleaded not guilty at a federal court in Kentucky.

BETTY NGUYEN, CNN ANCHOR: Let's get right to CNN Senior International Correspondent Nic Robertson, who joins us live from Baghdad with the latest on this.

Nic, what more do you know about these charges?

NIC ROBERTSON, CNN SR. INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, we do know that the four soldiers who are charged in this particular case are currently in Iraq. It is not clear exactly what their status will be as of this time, but those charges that they are now -- that the U.S. military has now announced here, that three of the men are charged with the rape and murder of the young Iraqi woman and then the further killing of three of her family members. The connection, obviously, with Steven Green -- the charges of former private 1st class Steven Green.

We don't know what is going happen in the short term to those soldiers, whether they will be transferred out of the country or held on their particular base, but this now announced in the U.S. military here, that these four soldiers -- the four soldiers being charged with dereliction of duty for failing to report these incidents, now charged here -- Betty.

NGUYEN: So, Nic, let's be clear about this. Some of the soldiers now charged are still serving in Iraq, correct?

ROBERTSON: That's correct. Steven Green -- former private 1st class Steven Green had been discharged from the military. He was back in the United States. He'd been discharged with conduct unbecoming to a soldier. He was picked up, and he has been charged in a civilian court. The others who took part in this, or alleged to have taken part in this attack, are still soldiers. And from what we understand, from the way the charges are read at this time, these four soldiers are still in Iraq -- Betty.

NGUYEN: All right.

Let's shift gears for just a minute, because it has really been a bloody day of sectarian violence in Iraq. Give us the latest on that. Some 40 killed, I understand.

ROBERTSON: More than 40 killed, according to the emergency police here in Baghdad. Gunmen had started at 6:00 a.m. this morning driving around a mostly Sunni neighborhood in the west of Baghdad. They were stopping people at the roadside, asking to see their identification papers, reading their names, and if they were Sunnis, which they could tell from their names, then shooting them dead.

One eyewitness said he walked out of his house this morning in the area, saw a pile of four bodies, another three bodies piled up by a bus stop, another five bodies piled up somewhere else. And the Iraqi Islamic Party, a moderate Sunni political party, say that one of their parliamentarians was shot and killed in his house at 7:00 in that neighborhood this morning, and they say they know of at least one family who have also been killed, a mother and her children, killed in these attacks in this particular neighborhood of Baghdad -- Betty.

NGUYEN: Nic Robertson joining us from Baghdad with all these latest developments.

Nic, thank you for that.

HARRIS: And now back to our top story. The U.S. military announcing more charges in the slaying of an Iraqi family in Mahmoudiya. The military says three soldiers have been charged with participating in the rape and murder of a girl and killing three members of her family.

Let's get more background on this case from our Arwa Damon.


ARWA DAMON, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): This plain concrete house may have been the scene of a gruesome crime, a crime the U.S. government says was committed by U.S. soldiers. Almost four months later, despite the house being cleaned out, bloodstains and evidence of burning can still be seen in these Associated Press pictures.

The crime, the alleged rape of a young woman, identified as Adir Kasum Kassam (ph), believed to be barely in her 20s. She, her little sister and her parents murdered. Their bodies burned in what authorities say was an attempted cover-up.

"We found them dead in the house," the girl's brother, Ahmed Kassam (ph) says. "We also found the house blackened and smoke erupting from it." Her uncle, Amed Taha (ph), says, "The Americans are behind this incident. People in the area saw the Americans, but they are afraid."

The bodies were buried quickly back in mid-March, but the story of what happened here is only now being told. Following the arrest in the United States of Steven D. Green, a former Army private first class, accused by the U.S. government of being one of those responsible for the rape and killings.

And now the Iraqi government is investigating. And the Iraqi prime minister expressing outrage, blaming a system in which U.S. forces in Iraq are immune to Iraqi prosecution, accountable only to the U.S. government.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translator): We believe the immunity given to international forces is what emboldened them to commit such crimes in cold blood. This requires that such immunity should be reconsidered. We affirm we must participate in investigating crimes committed against the Iraqi people.

DAMON: The U.S. military says it will engage with the prime minister on the issue of immunity.

(on camera): But with emotions already running high in Iraq, what is alleged to have happened in this house will likely make the job of U.S. troops here even more difficult.

Arwa Damon, CNN, Baghdad.


HARRIS: When the smoke clears, the death toll is likely to rise from a plane crash in Siberia. So far we know at least 120 people were killed, about 25 others are still missing. Fortunately, dozens survived.

Live now to CNN's Matthew Chance in Moscow.

And, Matthew, the pictures we've been seeing from the site over the last 40 minutes or so give us a real sense of the size and scope of this disaster.

MATTHEW CHANCE, CNN SR. INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: That's right. It was clearly a very big air catastrophe indeed.

As you say, those figures, at least 120 bodies that have been located on the aircraft so far. Another 25 people at least are still on the list of missing persons. Some of them I expect will be found inside that smoldering wreckage. But officials say they believe some of the passengers, when the airplane came to a standstill and burst into flames, actually managed to jump off the aircraft and then run away, and they haven't come back. And so they're appealing for them to return so they can at least be accounted for.

At least 53 people -- and these are quite surprisingly high figures, I think -- 53 people survived the crash, including at last six children, three crewmembers. Most of them are being treated at local hospitals for what are very severe injuries. Most of them burn injuries, as you might expect.

Let's have a look back, though, at what we know happened to this flight.

It was a scheduled Siberia Airlines Airbus A310 aircraft that was on an apparently pretty uneventful flight, for the most part, at least, from the Russian capital, Moscow, to the Siberian city of Irkutsk. The problems didn't start until the plane touched down on the landing strip. Then, it failed to stop, it overshot the runway, it crashed into a concrete fence, onward into a building, and then burst into flames.

Investigators say they've located the flight recorders from the flight already. There's about 600 rescue workers on the scene sifting through that wreckage. So they hope to have answers within the next few days and weeks as to what was the cause of this catastrophe.

Back to you.

HARRIS: OK. Matthew Chance for us in Moscow.

Matthew, appreciate it. Thank you.

NGUYEN: So the diplomatic showdown over North Korea's missile test could go to the U.N. Security Council as early as tomorrow. North Korea, meanwhile, remains defiant. Its ambassador to Australia bluntly warns that any attempts to stop the missile tests could lead to war.

CNN's Kathleen Koch joins us from the White House with the latest on this.

Any response to that?

KATHLEEN KOCH, CNN CORRESPONDENT: No, not yet, Betty. But I will tell you a little bit -- a little bit more about what North Korea's ambassador said.

And North Korea is basically defending its missile test last week, insisting that they were "routine military exercises" aimed at improving its ability to defend itself. But that ambassador to Australia, in an article that appeared in a Melbourne newspaper, warned that North Korea would have "no option" but to take "stronger physical actions of other forms should any country take issue with those tests." And, of course, plenty of countries are.

Chief among them, Japan. Japan right now is circulating a very strongly-worded resolution in the United Nations that would require sanction against North Korea. Now, the United States, France and Great Britain support those sanctions, but very importantly, Russia and China, which both have veto powers, oppose those sanctions.

The U.S. envoy, Christopher Hill, he has been making the tour of East Asian capitals over the last week, trying to rally support for that resolution in the United Nations. And he is in Tokyo today, and he talked with CNN, saying he is upbeat about the chances of success.


CHRISTOPHER HILL, ASSISTANT SECRETARY OF STATE: You know, there's an ongoing discussion in New York. These discussions are always tough discussions. I draw some sense of optimism from the fact that I think everybody was pretty outraged by this outrageous action. So we'll see.


KOCH: Now, President Bush refuses to engage in one-on-one talks with North Korea. Instead, continuing to insist that it come back to the table for the six-party talks that have been stalled for months.

Meanwhile, the U.S. military, the Navy, says that it is -- this is not a reaction to the situation in North Korea, the deployment of a U.S.-guided missile destroyer in a Japanese port. It arrived there just yesterday. The Navy says that the deployment of the USS Mustin was preplanned, that it's basically simply replacing another vessel, Betty, that will be rotating out of the region.

Back to you.

NGUYEN: CNN's Kathleen Koch at the White House.

Thank you, Kathleen.

KOCH: You bet.

NGUYEN: And to our viewers, be sure to join us at the bottom of this hour for our exclusive one-on-one interview with U.S. envoy Christopher Hill on the North Korean threat.

HARRIS: First the good news.


HARRIS: No one was hurt.

NGUYEN: OK. Got it.

HARRIS: Now the bad news.

NGUYEN: Oh, we can see the bad news right there.

HARRIS: Yes, we will tell you more about this boulder's bull's eye in 25 minutes.



UNIDENTIFIED MALE: There was a man floating down the river.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: All of a sudden, he just popped underneath the water.


NGUYEN: Swept away and fighting for his life. We will show you the end of this dramatic ordeal from New Mexico when we come back.

REYNOLDS WOLF, CNN METEOROLOGIST: And scattered showers and storms possible in parts of the country. But for some of you, you're going to have a perfect day. We'll show you what you can expect coming up in just a few moments.


HARRIS: And our top stories this morning.

Three more U.S. soldiers are charged with rape and murder in the deaths of a family in Iraq. The case revolves around an alleged incident in Mahmoudiya in March. The three are charged along with former soldier Steven D. Green, who has been discharged and pleaded not guilty last week. A fourth soldier was charged with dereliction of duty in the case.

Bodies of Iraqi civilians littered the streets of western Baghdad today. Bands of gunmen pulled victims from cars and off sidewalks. Dozens were killed and wounded before U.S. and Iraqi forces were able to seal off the area.

An eyewitness captures tragedy on his camera phone. At least 120 people are killed when a Siberian jetliner crashes on landing. Somehow dozens escaped the inferno, but several more are missing.

NGUYEN: Well, you know, the view from where Reynolds Wolf is standing is not so bad. Something you might want to capture today and actually get outside and enjoy it if you have the chance.

HARRIS: There you go.

NGUYEN: How's it looking, Reynolds?


NGUYEN: Thank you, Reynolds.

WOLF: There you go. You bet.

NGUYEN: All right. Now for some other stories making news "Across America" today.

A candidate for Connecticut governor escaped unhurt, but two dozen others were injured when an elderly driver plowed into a crowd. Three of the Democrats, Ned Lamont's campaign staffers, were treated for various injuries.

HARRIS: Now, the U.S. Coast Guard chased a speeding boat packed with 30 illegal immigrants off the coast of Florida yesterday. Look at these pictures. Officials say three suspected smugglers were arrested, one woman died of unknown injuries. The speeding boat rammed the Coast Guard vessel several times before it was stopped.

The little panda who is such a big draw at the National Zoo in Washington...

NGUYEN: Look at the panda.

HARRIS: ... a big birthday bash in just a couple of minutes. Tai Shan turns one today. Zoo officials say he will be treated to a frozen fruitcicle.

That's all you get?

NGUYEN: I guess that's all a panda wants.

HARRIS: OK. What a panda wants, a panda gets. It's estimated just over one million people have come to see Tai Shan since he went on display last December.

NGUYEN: Yes. Apparently, he's easy to please with that fruitcicle. That's all? OK.

Well, look at this. A rescue miracle in Albuquerque, New Mexico.

Here's what happened. Rain came down so hard and so fast overnight it sweeps a teenager away. The rushing water happened so quickly, but fortunately rescue teams were quick as well.

Sasha Andrade from CNN affiliate KOAT shows us how fast things can go wrong, but still in the end how they can go right, too.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: There's a man floating down the river.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: All of a sudden, he just popped underneath the water.

SASHA ANDRADE, REPORTER, KOAT (voice over): Witnesses say it was all happening so fast. A 15-year-old boy dragged along the arroyo by raging waters. This is video you'll only see on 7. Rescue workers spot the boy and think they'll be able to rescue him, but then...

EDDIE GUTIERREZ, RESCUE WORKER: The two meet right here. There's a certain point in the middle there where he went under water.

ANDRADE: Here is that moment captured on camera. He slips under the water and doesn't come back up. Crews worked frantically to find him, hoping that all is not lost. All eyes remain on the rapid water, searching for a glimpse of the victim.

GUTIERREZ: That's when he popped out close to me. Through the rope in front of him, and luckily he was able to grab it from there.

ANDRADE: After that intense moment, the 15-year-old is pulled out of the arroyo and into safety. Amazingly, he's going to be OK.

Some might call his rescuer a hero, but he says it was all in the line of duty.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's just doing our job, you know. Anybody else, another station would have done it.


NGUYEN: Yes, they would have, but they did it very well. That kid is alive.

And that was Sasha Andrade reporting from CNN affiliate KOAT in Albuquerque, New Mexico.

HARRIS: Hey, look, stick around. The Sunday "WaterCooler"...

NGUYEN: You love "The WaterCooler."

HARRIS: Well, I do. It's straight ahead, with wackiness.

NGUYEN: Oh, yes. You don't want to miss this bizarre sight that's been wowing folks all across Europe.

Is that a -- no, that's not a real -- is it? Is it a real elephant? It can't be.

HARRIS: No, it's not what you think, Betty. It's not.

NGUYEN: Well, we'll get to the bottom of this. You've got to see it to believe it, next.


NGUYEN: I love that sound. Tony hates it, but that's OK. That's the way we roll around here.

HARRIS: Yes, it's disturbing.

NGUYEN: Sometimes we really see interesting, unusual stories that we talk about amongst ours.

HARRIS: Right. So we thought we would share them with you.

NGUYEN: Why not?

HARRIS: OK. We call the segment "The WaterCooler." You know that by now, right?

First up, check out this behemoth...

NGUYEN: What? That's not real.

HARRIS: ... stomping around Antwerp, Belgium. Be afraid.

NGUYEN: Be very afraid.

HARRIS: Be very afraid. It is a giant mechanical elephant that... NGUYEN: Spewing water, no less.

HARRIS: Exactly. It plays a central role in a piece of street theater, the colossal beast. A little history background here. It first showed up on the streets of downtown London. That was back in May.

NGUYEN: All right. Now we're going to take you to Albany, New York, and an amazing story of survival that some people really call a miracle.

Look at this building. You see -- you see how tall that is? Well, a 4-year-old fell out of an 11th floor window and somehow lived.

HARRIS: Oh, man.

NGUYEN: Here's how. A metal awning actually broke the boy's fall, saving his life. Although seriously hurt, he was conscious and talking when paramedics arrived.

Now, get this, though. On top of it all, he was rushed to the same hospital where his mother works as a receptionist.

Needless to say, charges are pending against the child's mother. We understand that boy was left home alone.

HARRIS: Oh boy.

And talk about close calls. This teenager was mowing the lawn last weekend. What got into him? Probably some restitution, public service in the house.

NGUYEN: Right.

HARRIS: Listening to Metallica on his iPod Nano, and then he blacked out. He doesn't remember, but his clothes show the signs of a lightning strike.


HARRIS: What is that on the side of his face there?

NGUYEN: He got burned.

HARRIS: Is that a little injury there?

NGUYEN: Well, no, I think those are chops. Those are sideburns, but if you look a little closer to the ear...

HARRIS: Are they?

NGUYEN: ... I think that's where you can see.

HARRIS: Oh, I got you.

(CROSSTALK) HARRIS: So, he's OK. The iPod is toast. And he says he knew that the storm was approaching, but like most of us he figured he had a little more time.

NGUYEN: Keep it going. Keep it going.

HARRIS: And then pow! There you go.

NGUYEN: And as we noted yesterday, it blew a hole in his pants.

Just wanted to throw that out at you. Don't be on the iPod when a storm is coming in, or a cell phone or anything like that.

HARRIS: The Sunday edition of "The WaterCooler." To find out more about these stories...

NGUYEN: I'm just telling the truth. I'm getting the information to the viewers. That's what we do, Tony.

NGUYEN: ... just head on over to

NGUYEN: He's not buying it.


What do you get when you combine a boulder the size of a small car with, say, a small car?


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The rock looks like a boat.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Is there a car under it?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: There's a car under the rock.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: There's a car under the rock.


NGUYEN: Yes, there is a car under there. The good news and the bad news of this story out of Colorado, well, we'll tell you both, next.

HARRIS: And do you have to be loco to be a locavore.

NGUYEN: A loco who?

HARRIS: Only if you're crazy about fresh food.

CNN SUNDAY MORNING continues in a minute.


NGUYEN: Three more U.S. soldiers are charged with rape and murder in the deaths of a family in Iraq. The case revolves around an alleged incident in Mahmoudiya back in March. Now, the three are charged, along with former soldier Steven D. Green, who has been discharged. A fourth soldier is charged with dereliction of duty in this case.

Also from Iraq, gunmen roamed a western Baghdad neighborhood shooting unarmed Iraqis as soon as they identified them as a Sunni. More than 40 are dead. A witness says the gunmen also burned homes. U.S. and Iraqi forces were killed in to seal off that area.

Check this out. A fiery and deadly crash in Siberia. This is some new video coming in to CNN. At least 120 people were killed when a plane skidded off a runway during landing and slammed into a concrete wall and then burst into flames. You can see some of the smoke there. More than 50 people actually survived this crash, but they did sustain some injuries and were sent to a local hospital, about two dozen are still missing.

HARRIS: Israel carries out more strikes against targets in Gaza. The Palestinian's prime minister's proposed cease-fire has been rejected. Israel says the offensive will continue until Palestinian militants release a captured Israeli soldier and stop firing rockets into Israel.

NASA managers could decide today whether the shuttle "Discovery'" belly needs to be fixed when astronauts take a space walk this week. A tiny piece of fabric is sticking out of a tile. Early consensus it probably won't be a problem. For complete coverage of breaking news and today's top stories stay with CNN, the most trusted name in news.

NGUYEN: Returning now to the rising tensions with North Korea, U.S. envoy Christopher Hill has a very tough job. Some countries, like Japan want a strong condemnation from the U.N. Security Council to last week's missile test, others, notably China and Russia threaten to block such a resolution. Right now, Hill is in Tokyo for further consultation before heading to Russia. And earlier, CNN's Sohn Jie-ae sat down with him in Seoul, South Korea, for an exclusive one-on-one interview.


SOHN JIE-AE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: You've met the Chinese counterparts and most of the South Korean counterparts, two countries that seem to have the most leverage with North Korea. Have you found that they are willing to use that leverage that the point?

CHRISTOPHER HILL, ASSISTANT SECRETARY OF STATE: I think, first of all, both countries -- both China and South Korea, I think, have really been outraged by what the North Koreans did. And you know, in the case of the Chinese, it's particularly difficult. I mean, China has been a good friend to the DPRK, they provide daily amounts of food and fuel, clothe them in the winter, they've really helped North Koreans. They asked for one thing from North Korea, to not fire this missile. Chinese foreign ministry spokesman made the request and North Korea went ahead anyway.

So I think we're now in the situation where we have to see, what are you going to do about this? And what kind of leverage is necessary to get the DPRK to stop behaving like this and start behaving like a civilized country. And so I've had good discussions with them and I think we all agree on the need to be firm and the need to be together and the need to speak with one voice.

SOHN: Mr. Bush said that the U.S. was pursuing diplomatic options, but there were other option. Realistically, what other option are there?

HILL: Well, I don't think anyone wants to take anything off the table. Of course, there are other option, but, you know, one issue we have to do is take measures to protect ourselves. We need to find the means to deny North Korea the financial means to buy missile technology or nuclear technology. So, we really want to make sure that we're not allowing North Korea to go around and pick up the technology or to trade in these components.

You know, they're going to have to understand that if they engage in these kinds of practices, if they have one of the world's worst human rights policies in the world. I mean, and if they continue to try to develop weapons of mass destruction, they're going to find that a lot of their transactions in the world get looked at very carefully.

SOHN: Just be clear, at this point, is Washington not willing to sit down bilaterally with North Korea to resolve the situation and are you not willing to accept North Korea's invitation to actually go to North Korea?

HILL: You know, we are committed to making, finding a diplomatic solution through a six-party process. There's a good reason for this. It's not a bilateral issue. When North Korea fires off scud missiles that's not a U.S.-North Korea bilateral issue, that's a regional issue that involves all of us. Now, as a matter of communication, I mean, are we able to get to the North Koreans? Are we able to have direct talks with them? Of course, we are, but we're not ready to do is to put aside the six-party process. Put aside these other countries or escort these other countries out of the room while we then have bilateral negotiations with the North Koreans.

SOHN: Is North Korea getting ready to test another missile?

HILL: Well, what we know with some of these scuds is they pulled them out of storage facilities and fired them off, so it's entirely likely they can pull out additional scuds and fire them off. You know, I'm not sure why they would do that, but I'm not sure why they did the first salvo, either. So, it's possible, but I don't think we any information on it.

SOHN: If they did, would that change things?

HILL: I think it would just be further indication that they're simply not listening to anybody.


NGUYEN: And you'll want to stay with CNN both day and night for any developments on North Korea, under secretary of state Nicholas Burns will discuss the North Korean threat on CNN's "Late Edition with Wolf Blitzer." That's this morning at 11:00 Eastern, so tick around for that. And tonight, "CNN Presents" gives you a rare look at the brutal world of life in North Korea. "Undercover in the Secret State," that airs at 8:00 Eastern.

Well, they don't call them the Colorado Rockies for nothing. Take a look at that. Some hikers probably found the primo parking spot, but well, you see? Cheryl Preheim from CNN affiliate KUSA has the story.


CHERYL PREHEIM, KUSA REPORTER (voice-over): What was plain to see was bad enough.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The rock looked like a boat.

PREHEIM: Never mind what you couldn't see.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Is there a car in there?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: There's a car under the rock.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: There's a car under the rock.

PREHEIM: Well, that could be so much worse.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I hope that they weren't in the car.

PREHEIM: Four tons of solid rock falling from a rain-soaked canyon wall is no match for a Toyota Camry, so much so no one could be sure if anybody was inside it.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Can see from the size of that boulder, you wouldn't have survived it.

PREHEIM: The answer came more than an hour later.

THOMAS HEDGECO, CAR OWNER: The more of a view I got, the more my heart sank.

PREHEIM: When Thomas Hedgco (ph) and his friend Thomas Hedgehuck (ph).

HEDGECO: Please don't let it be the car. Please don't let it be the car.

PREHEIM: They saw the commotion.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He said, did you tow my vehicle? And I said, no sir, but we're have to. Did the rock fall on the back of it? I said, no, sir, it's on the top of it.

PREHEIM: A bull's-eye only nature could execute. HEDGECO: No, no. This is bad. Just put yourself in my situation. How would you react if you parked your car right there at that spot where -- I mean, it's not that big, you know, the rock fall, and it just hit my car like it was meant to happen. Karma got me. I don't know.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: One in a million chance.

PREHEIM: Looking for any consolation, Thomas Hedgeco tried to salvage his cell phone. It's got to be way in there, so -- it's worthless.


HEDGECO: Well, the tire held up, you know?

PREHEIM: I the end it was plain to see.

HEDGECO: I can't even look at it anymore.

PREHEIM: That the only consolation was that it wasn't so much worse.

HEDGECO Thank god I guess we're not inside.

PREHEIM: On highway 6, Cheryl Preheim, KUSA News.


NGUYEN: Look at that. I sure hope he had some good insurance. I really do.

HARRIS: Look, before you -- oh, wait a minute. Prop, grab the prop. Before you take the next bite of a banana or the tomato, you might want to consider where it came from.


HARRIS: It was probably grown south of the border, shipped to the U.S. and stored what's called a ripening room until it was put out on the shelf for you to buy. Sounds delicious, doesn't it?

NGUYEN: Well, some people are saying, no, it doesn't. But, like, check out this tomato, aside from the bite mark that Tony did on one of the breaks, it's firm, it's ripe. It's fresh.

HARRIS: There's no evidence.

NGUYEN: No evidence. That looks like your tooth right there.

HARRIS: Oh nonsense.

NGUYEN: But here's the deal, it was grown about 20 miles from here by one of our writers on this team. So the question is homegrown really better? Well, it does make a difference and more and more people are embracing it, but how practical is it to only buy foods produced within 100-miles of your home? We're going to find out.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Imagine being able to see something the size of a nickel from 10,000 miles away? Dr. Hal McAlister designed the Chara Ray to do just that.

DR. HAL MCALISTER, CHARA DIR. Georgia STATE UNIV.: We've been working for 20 years to build a facility in southern California that links together six independent telescopes and stitches them together as if they form a single telescope a thousand feet across.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The Chara Ray's brings to light information that astronomers simply couldn't reach before, all of this to feedback into the theory of how stars form.

MCALISTER: By learning more about the stars we learn more about our own star and really what gives us here life on earth.



HARRIS: A quick look at our top stories right now beginning with breaking news. Four U.S. soldiers in Iraq are charged with rape and murder. A young Iraqi woman was raped and then killed along with three members of her family in Mahmoudiya last March. A firth soldier is accused of dereliction of duty for failing to report it, all four -- all five are charged with conspiring with former Private First Class Stephen Green to commit the crimes. Green pleaded not guilty to the charges last week.

Another story developing out of Iraq this morning, them deliberately targeting Sunnis. More than 40 are dead. Police say masked men grabbed people off the streets in western Baghdad, singling out Sunnis, then killing them.

A fiery and deadly crash in Siberia. At least 122 people were killed when a plane skidded off a runway during landing. It slammed into a concrete wall and burst into flames. More than 50 people survived the crash, but are injured, about two dozen are missing.

NGUYEN: All right, Tony, you've heard of meat eating carnivores and plant-eating herbivores, how about omnivores that eat both meat and plants? Now there is a new breed. Welcome to the breed of the locavore, that's someone who eats primarily foods grown within 100- miles from where they live. Farmers markets are a favorite spot for them. Why be a locavore, you ask? Well, No. 1, better knowledge of how the food is grown or produced. No. 2, it's cheaper. The transportation costs are lower and No. 3 the food travels less and therefore it is fresher. Well, a group of culinary adventurers in San Francisco stepped up this locavore concept with what's called the "Eat Local Challenge." The band of locavores has grown since it started last year in 2005. And joining us this morning from San Francisco is the co-founder of "Eat Local Challenge, Sage Wan Wing.

Thanks for being with us today.


NGUYEN: OK, let's talk about this. You've been eating local for quite some time now. What are the benefits of it? I mean, how has it changed your life? Has it changed your life that much?

VAN WING: Oh, yeah, absolutely. Yeah. The benefits are the food's fresher, actually, it tastes better, it's healthier for you and you know when you're doing it that you're making an environmental and a political choice. You're in a sense voting with dollars for the kind of world that you want to live in.

NGUYEN: OK, I hear you, there's a message, there's a political message, there's an environmental message, but physically -- because I have heard that if you eat local honey then you won't be as allergic to some of the things in your surroundings. So, is there a physical benefit to this?

VAN WING: Sure. Absolutely. Mainly, it's just as I said, that the food actually tastes better. Certainly there's that with honey and helping your allergies. Your -- the meat that you eat, for example, is probably grass fed it's not-- so it doesn't have a lot of hormones and antibiotics, things like that, the food will tend to be at least less of an environmental footprint, so it's healthier for you and for the environment and for then for the local economy.

NGUYEN: Well, you know, I've got some locally-grown tomatoes here with me and to be quite hones with you, you can kind of see a difference between the organic and the ones that are in the store that are all, you know, waxed up and they look great and especially the taste between the ones that are grown local and the ones that are shipped from here, there and everywhere. And speaking of these foods that are shipped in long distances, is it true that food, on average, travels about 1,500 miles before it gets to your dinner plate?

VAN WING: Yeah. Sometimes even further, actually. I mean, you think about it, if you're in the grocery store and you're looking at those apple, right? You have a choice between the apples that were grown in --for me, it would be maybe the apples that are grown in Washington, or the apples grown in New Zealand. That's a huge difference. Think the petroleum products that had to go shipping those unripe apples all of the way from New Zealand over to here and letting them sit and ripen in some room somewhere versus maybe the apples that were picked, you know, in the north of this state or just in this country and brought down...

NGUYEN: Because it's local, because it's closer to you, does it truly mean, honestly that it costs less? But, I mean, my question here is really in the fact of supply and demand, that the local farmers aren't going have as much demand, not as much completion so maybe they might be a little bit higher.

VAN WING: Well, it might not cost -- actually cost less as you're paying for it at the grocery store, but the price tag on those goods that come from far away is really quite high and it's just the subsidies that are not causing us to see those come right out of our wallet, but the health and environmental costs are really very high.

NGUYEN: I've got you loud and clear there. OK, so you help with what's called the "Eat Local Challenge." Tell me exactly how that works.

VAN WING: Well, how it works is we encourage people for one month every year to try to eat exclusively within 100-mile radius of where they live. The first month we did it was two years ago in August, which is pretty easy, actually, because the food that's ripe in August is great, but you'll find that once you start doing it and you find sources for local foods you actually start to kind of eat more locally throughout the rest of the year as well.

NGUYEN: All right, but there are some things, I mean, you got to honest with me, there are some things you just can't find local. For example, we've taken some e-mails from folks, our question today is would you consider this 100-mile diet and John says, "I would not consider the 100-mile diet as then I could not get the pineapples, mangos, the papayas that won't grow in the D.C. area. Also I'd miss the imported foods from Brazil that I buy at the import market."

So how do you do this challenge when a lot of what you eat and what you like to eat doesn't come from local farmers?

VAN WING: Well, the important thing really is to just be more conscious of where your food comes from in general. If there are things that you find are really important to you, like most people think coffee, you know, I can't live without my coffee in the morning and I'm with you on that one, you know? Then just recognize that it's special, that it's a special thing or that like say for example, pineapples or mangos or something. recognize that those come from a long way away and that they're -- it's going to be better to be eating them when they're in season and fresh. There's always been trade routes. I mean there's nothing wrong with getting food from far away, it's just that it's -- we should be more conscious of the fact that it's not -- it's shouldn't be an everyday occurrence.

NGUYEN: Yeah. You want to choose wisely. Exactly.

NGUYEN: Well, we appreciate your time, Sage, and I'll take a little bit of that challenge, as much as they don't want me to eat this I'm taking this home and eating it today.

VAN WING: Right.

NGUYEN: Part of the challenge. Thank you for your time today.

VAN WING: Thanks, Betty.

NGUYEN: Well, if you want more information about the 100-mile diet here are two websites you can check out, and

So Tony, you up for the challenge? HARRIS: I'm writing them down right now. I'll check it out. Thank you. Thank you.

All right, here's the question, are you an internet junky? Like you could use a little on the wild side? Off the beaten path? Well we have that for you just a click away at Nicole Lapin has been I-spying and she'll give up the goods on the most popular stories at, that's about oh, five minutes from now.


NGUYEN: Well, it's about that time. Time to check in with Howard Kurtz in Washington to see what's ahead on CNN's "Reliable Sources."

Hi there Howie.

HOWARD KURTZ, "RELIABLE SOURCES": Hi Betty. Coming up, covering North Korea, we'll talk with the "New York Times'" Nick Kristof and Robin Wright of the "Washington Post" about reporting on the country that shuts most western journalists out.

Also a look at Lieberman's tough race in connect. Plus the needs journalists when you have the incredible popularity of these do-it- yourself video websites. And the author of "Black Hawk Down" weighs in on turning point in television coverage of crisis. All of that next on "Reliable Sources".

NGUYEN: Sounds good. I'll be watching, thank you Howard. That is "Reliable Sources" coming up at 10:00 Eastern and it is followed by Wolf Blitzer and "Late Edition" at 11:00.

Under secretary of state for political affairs, Nicholas Burns joins Wolf with some interesting information about North Korea's nuclear weapons program. Then the "Week at War" at 1:00 Eastern. You'll want to stay tuned as we go in-depth into the stories of the day all right here on CNN, the most trusted name in news.

HARRIS: A pirate's life for me! Yeah, we'll see. It's not really just for me, it's for me and for you and for your ma, your grandma everyone is going to see this movie this weekend. We're talking about "Pirates of the -- what is it the dead mans chest?

NICOLE LAPIN, CNN.COM DESK: "Caribbean Part 2."

HARRIS: All right, you're here to tell us, Nicole, how many people are actually going to see this movie? Is it No. 1?

LAPIN: It's No. 1.


LAPIN: Not only that, but it's breaking some records. It brought in $55 and a half million on Friday, making "Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest" the one-time biggest opener -- all time. "Pirates" beat out "Star Wars Episode 3" which brought in their $50 million last year. Now, depending how it does today the pirates are on their way to beating out "Superman." That was the weekend box office opener that brought in nearly $115 million.

Now, brace yourself though, it's two and a half hours long and if you want to get a peek on what it's like, just go to there's a review from Mr. Moviefone himself.

HARRIS: Don't we have a movie trailer there, or we just got the review from the -- just the review?

LAPIN: We've got the review, you got the trailer, you got everything.

HARRIS: Oh, great, great. OK.

LAPIN: Here's something else that's pretty popular. Dave Chappelle, he's telling CNN's Anderson Cooper, yes, I'm going to be watching tonight. That's because Comedy Central is playing Chappelle's lost episodes. Those are featuring some sketches that he started, but they never aired and they were never finished. You remember, Chappelle went to South Africa about a year ago and he left the year ago and about 50 million hunk of a contract.

HARRIS: Yeah, 50 million, right there on the table, Betty.

LAPIN: Comedy Central says they paid for those clips, so they want to air them and it's going to be the first in (ph) three shows.

And we're going from something everybody's talking to about, Chappelle, to something that people are little bit embarrassed to talk about including myself.

Stephen Fernandez is now saying he's sorry for urinating on Canada's war memorial last month. There he is. You saw that last picture. Pictures were snapped of him and his friends while they were in the act. The other two were too young to face charges, but Fernando is looking at some mischief charges.

HARRIS: At the least. At the least.

LAPIN: Well, here's what he says. He says he was very drunk and he really did not mean to disgrace his country. And he also tells people that they should find a washroom if they're not feeling so hot after a night out of partying.

NGUYEN: You know, that's really no excuse. He was drunk, I mean come on, it's a war memorial. Sacred grounds.

HARRIS: Pretty lame. OK, and we can find all of this...

LAPIN: You can find those pictures with caution; they're a little racy on

HARRIS: OK. Beautiful. LAPIN: Still tops the weather. It's a little awkward, but...

HARRIS: Yeah. And let's get you upstairs for one last check of weather now. Reynolds Wolf standing by at the CNN Weather Center. Good morning.



NGUYEN: All right, thank you Reynolds.

WOLF: OK, you bet.

NGUYEN: "Reliable Sources" is next, followed by "Late Edition" and "This Week at War," so don't go away.

HARRIS: And Fredricka Whitfield will be with you all morning with live news updates. Have a great Sunday.


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