Skip to main content
Search
Services


 

Return to Transcripts main page

AMERICAN MORNING

The Next Move In Iraq; Pope's Trip To Turkey; Police Shooting Protest; The Trip Home

Aired November 27, 2006 - 06:00   ET

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


SOLEDAD O'BRIEN, CNN ANCHOR: Diplomatic push. President Bush heads to eastern Europe and the Middle East, trying to turn the tide in Iraq.
MILES O'BRIEN, CNN ANCHOR: The pope on his own mission, facing protests of thousands of Muslims awaiting his arrival in Turkey.

S. O'BRIEN: Deadly force. Five undercover New York City police officers fire 50 shots. An unarmed groom-to-be is caught in the cross fire. How did it happen? We'll take a look.

M. O'BRIEN: And will you be giving thanks for a smooth trip home from your holiday weekend? We'll have a travel update ahead on this AMERICAN MORNING.

S. O'BRIEN: And good morning. Welcome, everybody. Hope you have a nice holiday weekend. It is Monday, November 27th. I'm Soledad O'Brien.

M. O'BRIEN: And I'm Miles O'Brien. We're glad you're with us.

President Bush embarking this morning on a high stakes diplomatic mission aimed at turning the tide in Iraq. He is slated to meet with the Iraqi prime minister in Jordan, despite threats that summit could prompt a huge rift in the Baghdad government. Before he heads to Amman, the president will visit the former Soviet republics of Estonia and Latvia. In Riga (ph) he will attend a two-day NATO summit where he will shore up support for the battle against the Taliban in Afghanistan. We have reports from AMERICAN MORNING's Bob Franken in Washington and Arwa Damon in Baghdad. We begin with Bob.

Good morning, Bob.

BOB FRANKEN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Good morning.

And when the president goes to the European capitals, he's really laying a foundation for discussions about Afghanistan. But then he goes on to Amman, Jordan, and that is where some really vital meetings are going to be held with the premier now of Iraq ,who is under pressure from the Shia factions in his government not to even meet with the president. But the president has to look for some sort of way out of this situation that continues to deteriorate. And, of course, a situation back home in the United States, where the Democrats have taken over Congress and politically the Iraq situation is deteriorating here, too, Miles. M. O'BRIEN: Bob, as he heads to Jordan, the king of Jordan, over the weekend, on ABC's program, was talking about the possibility that there could be no less than three civil wars underway simultaneously in the Middle East. We're talking about Iraq, Lebanon and the situation in Gaza. Is it the assumption, is it the king's assumption, that Iraq is the triggering point for all this unrest regionally?

FRANKEN: Well, actually, the king is saying, that in terms of priority, possibly one of the others of those three is the real important number one priority, and that is the Palestinian conflict. He says that is really at the core of all of this. The core of the United States problems with the Muslim world. That is number one. Lebanon is number two, perhaps, and then Iraq. But, of course, Iraq is what is so occupying the United States interest now for obvious reasons.

M. O'BRIEN: Let's talk about the diplomatic push on the part of the administration. The vice president was in Saudi Arabia. The secretary of state is on her way to the region, as well. The president, obviously, with this mission. Lots of things in motion right now.

FRANKEN: A lot of things in motion and a lot of things that are being discussed that we don't really see right now. You pointed out that the vice president is in Saudi Arabia trying to get the Saudis to pressure their fellow Sunnis in Iraq. You have the secretary of state conducting what amounts to a shuttle kind of diplomacy, too.

You also have the Iraq Study Group. That group in the United States that is putting together a proposal. "The New York Times" reports what has been widely discussed, and that is there may be an effort to urge Syria and Iran to get involved. Already, Syria and Iran are getting involved without the United States really providing a push. What's interesting here is neither Syria, nor Iran, have the U.S. interests at heart at all, as anybody can see. But they do have their own interests there since each country neighbors Iraq.

M. O'BRIEN: Bob Franken in Washington, thank you.

That summit between the president and the Iraqi prime minister could trigger a serious political rift in Baghdad. A top deputy to the Shiite power broker, Muqtada al-Sadr, has said al-Sadr will pull his powerful faction out of the Iraqi government if the meeting happens. Will al-Sadr make good on that threat and could that cause the Maliki government to crumble? Let's go live now to Baghdad and Arwa Damon with more on that.

Hello, Arwa.

ARWA DAMON, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Good morning, Miles.

Now, Iraq's national security adviser, Muwaffaq al-Rubaie, dismissed that threat as it just being Muqtada al-Sadr trying to flex his political muscle. But this is Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al- Maliki's support base crumbling from within. Remember, he largely owes his job, the prime ministership, to the support of Muqtada al- Sadr's block and now they are threatening to pull out of his government.

Yesterday, for example, the prime minister traveled to Sadr City. That is the Shia stronghold and the Mehdi militia stronghold, which is loyal to Muqtada al-Sadr. He traveled there to visit the relatives of bombing victims. And according to Iraqi officials, his convoy was stoned, there in an area where he is meant to be getting most of his support from.

Now yesterday we also heard the prime minister, who is now trying to save his crumbling government and nation, in a joint press conference with his fellow Sunni, Kurdish and Shia leaders, make a statement for the first time. He said, let's be honest, the security situation is a reflection of a lack of agreement within the political process.

Miles.

M. O'BRIEN: Arwa, let's talk about what's going on in Tehran today. The Iraqi president, Jalal Talabani, is there. What is that diplomatic effort going to accomplish potentially?

DAMON: Well, Miles, Iran and Iraq have had a fairly strong diplomatic relationship over the last few years now since the fall of Saddam Hussein. Now according to Iraq's foreign minister, Hoshyar Zebari, the president carries with him a message to Tehran and that is that Iran should not be fighting its battle with the United States and with other coalition partners at the cost of Iraqi blood.

Now the two countries do have what some people are calling an uncomfortably close relationship. In fact, British and American intelligence indicates that Iran is directly responsible for arming, funding, financing, training death squads and militia groups that are operating here. Now on the diplomatic front, both countries are trying to work together to control their borders, to control the security situation, which really impacts the entire region.

Miles.

M. O'BRIEN: Arwa Damon in Baghdad, thank you.

Soledad.

S. O'BRIEN: Angry demonstrations are already setting the scene for Pope Benedict XVI's trip to Turkey. About 25,000 protesters turned out in Istanbul. They were chanting, waving banners. The Vatican is also making plans for some fence mending, as well. The majority of Turkey's population is Muslim and many people here have not forgiven the pope's comments about religious violence and Islam. CNN's Alessio Vinci in Rome this morning.

Alessio, good morning.

ALESSIO VINCI, CNN CORRESPONDENT: And good morning to you, Soledad.

You know, Turkey is often described as a country bridging the east and west. And during his trip there, the pope will certainly try to bring the two sides closer together. Not just the Muslims and the Christians, but also the Roman Catholics, as well as the eastern orthodox Christians. It will be a difficult challenge for the pope, which he recognizes, but he also asked people to pray for him.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

VINCI, (voice over): Pray for the success of my journey, Pope Benedict asked pilgrims in St. Peter's Square on the eve of his difficult trip to Turkey. At exactly the same time, though, in Istanbul, thousands of nationalist Turks gathered to protest the pope's upcoming visit. There were far less than the hundreds of thousands organizers hoped would show up. But a vociferous minority, nevertheless, closely watched by security officials.

Days after a small group chanting "Ala is great" stormed one of the buildings the pope is expected to visit. And weeks after a gunman fired shots outside the Italian consulate in Istanbul, shouting that it would strangle the pope.

Not enough to deter the Vatican. The pope is expected to meet with the spiritual leader of the world's orthodox churches and gather in prayer with other Christian minorities. But this marks his first trip to a Muslim country since quoting a controversy statement by a 14th century emperor, linking violence with Islam.

JOHN ALLEN, VATICAN ANALYST: The clash of civilizations that Benedict sees in the world today is not between Islam and the west, it's between belief and unbelief. That is between a culture that prizes religion and the supernatural and cultures that don't. And in that struggle, he thinks of Muslims as natural allies.

VINCI: The pope expressed regret for the damage his speech in Germany last September caused, but did not offer a full apology. Vatican officials confirm that as a sign of respect towards the Muslim faith, Pope Benedict plans to visit the blue mosque. Essentially emulating his predecessor John Paul II, widely credited with building bridges with the Muslim world by becoming the first pope to enter a mosque when he traveled to Damascus in 2001.

ALLEN: I think Benedict believes that those bridges having been built that, you know, it's now time to walk across them. In other words, you know, dialogue has to be more than being polite to each other. It has to be more than tea and cookies.

VINCI: The pope is on a delicate mission, with all sides willing to talk and perhaps finally willing to listen to each other.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

VINCI: And, Soledad, the security, of course, remains a major concern, like every time the pope travels outside of the Vatican. There are reports this morning in one Italian newspaper that Italy has sent a small contingent of special forces to Turkey to protect its embassy and its consulates there. This, of course, in addition to the tens of thousands of police officers who will protect the pope both in Ankara and in Istanbul (INAUDIBLE) when he travels there. And, of course, in addition to the hundreds of Vatican security personnel that the Vatican -- that the pope always travels with.

Back to you, Soledad.

S. O'BRIEN: But, Alessio, I'd be curious. Of course, the pope mobile, as much as it's, you know, inclosed, it's also very open. I mean that's part of it, to give people, as the pope's driving down the street, an opportunity to see and be very close in some ways to the pope. Is that going to change at all as he's going through Turkey?

VINCI: Well, my understanding is, according to a former Vatican spokesman, that this time around the pope will not travel with the pope mobile. Primarily because there are not large crowds of faithful who will be waiting for the pope along the streets of both Ankara (INAUDIBLE) or Istanbul, for that matter. So we understand that part of the security measures will be that the pope will travel in one of three identical limousines. Therefore, leaving those who would eventually try to harm him to guess in which car he is. So we do not expect that the pope will be seen in Turkey during his trip.

Soledad.

S. O'BRIEN: Alessio Vinci for us this morning.

Alessio, thank you.

And a programming note. Anderson Cooper is going to be reporting live from Turkey for the pope's visit this week. Special coverage begins tonight at 10:00 p.m. Eastern. Of course, you can join us tomorrow beginning at 6:00 a.m. for an international town hall meeting. A network-wide look at the pope's visit and the issues of religious tolerance and differences. When calling it "When Faiths Collide." That's all day tomorrow right here on CNN.

Miles.

M. O'BRIEN: Outrage in New York City this morning. A bridegroom-to-be is dead, two of his friends in the hospital after plain clothes cops fired a barrage of bullets outside a strip club early Saturday morning. Fifty shots fired in all and it's unclear why the unarmed men became targets. And now the police commissioner is a target for some community leaders calling for his ouster. Mary Snow joins us from police headquarters in New York City with more.

Good morning, Mary.

MARY SNOW, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Good morning, Miles.

And this weekend's shooting is now being investigated by both the police department and the Queens district attorney's office. There is still many unanswered questions. And yesterday, dozens of people gathered in a vigil demanding justice.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

REV. AL SHARPTON, NATIONAL ACTION NETWORK: How many shots?

CROWD: Fifty.

SHARPTON: How many shots?

CROWD: Fifty.

SNOW, (voice over); The crowd, led by the Reverend Al Sharpton, counted to 50 to mark the number of shots fired by New York City police officers, killing one man and injuring two others early Saturday morning. Twenty-three-year-old Sean Bell was killed just hours before he was to be married. His two friends, one seen here, received multiple gunshot wounds. Police say no weapons were recovered. And outraged members of the community are demanding answers.

SHARPTON: All of these rumors don't answer the question of why three unarmed men were shot down with 50 shots in our community.

SNOW: Early Saturday, the three men left a bachelor party at a Queens strip club that was under surveillance. New York City Police Commissioner Ray Kelly says undercover officers were watching the men and there were suspicions one may have had a gun. Kelly says a plain clothes officer on foot approached the men's car and was struck before the car hit an unmarked police van, adding that the officer was treated and released for an abrasion on the shin.

RAYMOND KELLY, NYPD COMMISSIONER: The officer was struck and the minivan was hit at just about the same time. And then the officer opened fire.

SNOW: In all, Kelly says five officers opened fire, including one officer who fired 31 shots. Meaning, he had to reload his 9 millimeter. That has prompted one state senator to get involved, demanding a full investigation.

MALCOLM SMITH, NEW YORK STATE SENATE: Why would that happen when there's no return fire at all. That's the biggest question.

SNOW: As the community waits for answers, Bell's fiancee and family members joined in a vigil. And one of Bell's friends is calling for calm.

MIKE JONES, BELL'S FRIEND: Just have warm hearts but like don't have hot heads. Because hot heads is how this incident happened in the first place. We've got to do this in a way that will respect Sean's memory.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

SNOW: Now the police department says that the five officers who were involved in the shooting have been put on administrative leave and their guns have been taken until this investigation is more complete. Also, members of the family, along with one community leader, are expected to meet with the Queens D.A. today.

Miles.

M. O'BRIEN: Mary, there's so many questions as to why they were even staking out that particular strip club in the first place. Do we know what they were looking for in the first place?

SNOW: Well, the police commissioner said that this particular club had several violations in the past and that this undercover unit was watching this strip club for narcotics and for prostitution. And what happened, according to the police commissioner, is that when these men came out, there had been a group of eight. And he said that there had been some verbal altercation. The police commissioner says one man mentioned that there may have been a gun and that is when all this -- that's why these men were being followed. But he also pointed out that no gun had been found in their car.

M. O'BRIEN: All right. Mary Snow in New York City this morning. Thank you.

The Reverend Al Sharpton will join us during our 7:00 Eastern hour, about 45 minutes from now, right here on AMERICAN MORNING.

Soledad.

S. O'BRIEN: Happening this morning.

Iranian state TV is reporting that a plane has crashed in the Tehran airport. It killed 38 service men and the crew members, as well. The crash happened just after takeoff. The transport plane is owned by Iran's revolutionary guard.

Aa Hawaiian police officer hurt in an accident during President Bush's stop last week in Hawaii is dead from his injuries. Steve Cavella (ph) and two other officers crashed on a wet road while they were escorting the president's motorcade in Honolulu.

In Atlanta, investigators are reviewing the death of a 92-year- old woman who was killed during a drug raid on her home. Police say Katherine Johnson (ph) shot at the officers, wounded three as they tried to break through her door. They had a no-knock search warrant which is meant to keep suspects from destroying evidence. Police say they found a small amount of marijuana in Johnson's house.

The ground search has been called off for two young brothers missing since Wednesday from a Red Lake Indian reservation in Minnesota. Tristan White and Avery Stately were last seen playing in the yard at their home in Red Lake. The FBI is now offering a $20,000 reward for information leading to the boys' return.

Two homemade acid bombs exploded in a Wal-Mart in Maine over the weekend, injuring eight people. It happened in Skowhegan, Maine, which is about 50 miles east of Bangor. Two 15-year-old boys now face charges for criminal use of explosives.

M. O'BRIEN: Coming up, we have your traveler's forecast. And look who's here -- Chad.

S. O'BRIEN: In person.

CHAD MYERS, CNN METEOROLOGIST: In Andy's seat.

M. O'BRIEN: Wow. Wow.

MYERS: I came up to try to get a red coffee mug, but all they had was this paper cup.

M. O'BRIEN: We're going to have to work on that for you.

S. O'BRIEN: Wait, because Miles has two is the problem.

MYERS: Right. Well the gift shop doesn't open until 10:00. So they didn't let me in there.

M. O'BRIEN: There you go.

MYERS: Good to see you guys.

S. O'BRIEN: And likewise.

MYERS: It is so nice to be up here. The shopping is out of control here. It's the city that never sleeps, and that's good for us because we never sleep.

M. O'BRIEN: That's true. Absolutely.

MYERS: So we're going to get a -- I talked to a bunch of cab drivers yesterday and they said today -- they thought today would be a busier travel day than yesterday because so many people could buy cheaper tickets on Monday than on Sunday that today was actually going to be a big rush trying to get in the morning. So we'll get to all that and the weather.

S. O'BRIEN: Cab drivers know.

M. O'BRIEN: And the weather was good yesterday for travel, wasn't it.

MYERS: Perfect.

S. O'BRIEN: Beautiful. We had no difficulty coming back yesterday.

MYERS: There were to many planes in the air. We had volume delays.

M. O'BRIEN: To many planes in the air. It's always something.

MYERS: Exactly.

M. O'BRIEN: All right, thank you, Chad. See you in a minute.

Also ahead, the post-Thanksgiving travel rush. We'll take a little further look at it. We'll look at how the long journey home went for millions of Americans. And a battle royale of the tuxedos. Who will win? A well dressed spy or some birds who were just born that way? We'll tell you ahead on AMERICAN MORNING.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

S. O'BRIEN: Welcome back, everybody. Some of the day's top stories that we're following for you this morning.

A suicide bomber attacks a convoy in southern Afghanistan, kills two Canadian soldiers.

And preparations are underway in Beijing for those six party talks aimed at ending North Korea's nuclear program. U.S. Assistant Secretary of State Christopher Hill is in Beijing.

M. O'BRIEN: There's no place like home. It's too bad a click of the heels won't get us there. It is back-to-work day for most of us. Still a little groggy from the turkey induced tryptophan and the football marathon. But dry, fly and wait we must to make our way back to our work-a-day world. Allan Chernoff is that LaGuardia Airport, across the river from where we are right now. How's it looking, Allan?

ALLAN CHERNOFF, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Good morning, Miles. Not too bad right now.

You know, there were two things that most of us dread about Thanksgiving, Aunt Sadie's (ph) casserole and the traveling. Now, of course, Aunt Sadie's casserole never seems to change, but the traffic wasn't all that bad for most of us.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

CHERNOFF, (voice over): After a long Thanksgiving weekend, travelers rushed back to make it to work by Monday morning. Despite a the few setbacks, the trip home was relative smooth, at least for the masses. Unlike Wednesday into Thursday, when rain and snow snarled already congested traffic in the northeast, Sunday's weather cooperated, keeping roads fairly clear for those traveling by car. But in some places, like New Haven, Connecticut, traffic backed up anyway. Not from winter weather, but from the sheer volume of travelers. On Pennsylvania's Interstate 79, traffic remained heavy but flowed smoothly to the relief of drivers.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I'm surprised a little bit, yes. I think maybe a lot of people might have been taking the airplanes.

CHERNOFF: At Los Angeles International Airport, one of the nation's busiest, a technical workers union, representing more than 7,000 members, staged a strike outside a terminal. But it didn't seem to affect holiday travelers. Denver International Airport had a busy but seemingly calm day. Air traffic in Florida was also above average on Sunday, with Orlando's airport reporting 100,000 travelers. But short security lines and on-time departures gave passengers something to be thankful for. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I was expecting it to be a little bit more hectic, but it's been pretty tranquil.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

CHERNOFF: Ah, tranquillity at the airport. Not something we typically experience here in New York, even on non-holiday weekends.

Miles.

M. O'BRIEN: So how was the casserole this year?

CHERNOFF: Well, there certainly was an equivalent. And I can tell you, I passed on it, Miles. As always.

M. O'BRIEN: I kind of put him on the spot there. All right, Allan Chernoff, thank you very much.

Let's head to -- where are we headed to? Let's head to Chad. Chad over there in the new and improved New York weather center.

Chad.

MYERS: That's right. They built my own set over here for me. Thank you, guys.

(WEATHER REPORT)

S. O'BRIEN: Well, a tap dancing penguin helped draw a lot of traffic to the movies this weekend. "Happy Feet" number one at the box office for the second weekend in a row. Raked in $51.6 million from Wednesday to Sunday. Rounding out the top five, the new blonde Bond, "Casino Royale," followed by Denzel Washington's "Deja Vu." "Deck The Halls" and "Borat" still in the race there, coming in at number five. Made over $10 million this weekend.

Coming up this morning, President Bush hits the road again, heading toward a crucial summit with the prime minister of Iraq. We'll take you live to Washington, D.C., for a preview of his week.

And we're "Minding Your Business" with a first look at how the holiday weekend of shopping went. Will it be a green Christmas for retailers? We'll let you know straight ahead. Stay with us.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

M. O'BRIEN: All right, bosses out there, pay close attention to your employees today. They may appear to be working.

Soledad, you on-line shopping?

S. O'BRIEN: Yes, I am, actually.

M. O'BRIEN: It's Cyber Monday and she's already shopping.

ALI VELSHI, CNN CORRESPONDENT: No, no, I'm working on that project.

S. O'BRIEN: That's right.

M. O'BRIEN: Good morning.

VELSHI: This is Cyber Monday.

M. O'BRIEN: Yes.

VELSHI: IT follows Black Friday. Black Friday apparently quite successful. According to the National Retail Federation, about 18 percent higher than last year over the course of this entire weekend. Now that means that . . .

S. O'BRIEN: So that's people shopping or money brought in?

VELSHI: People shopping. No, that's dollar value of what's been sold. $360 was the average spend this weekend. Now the average spend is estimated to be about $800 for the whole season. So there are a bunch of people who are 40 percent done of their entire spending.

But, Black Friday, you know, we were there at the Roosevelt Field Mall early in the morning. Apparently a third of shoppers who were shopping on Friday were there by 6:00 a.m. Half of all shoppers by 9:00 a.m.

M. O'BRIEN: There by 6:00, wow.

S. O'BRIEN: Wow.

VELSHI: A lot of people haven't -- anecdotally didn't feel like it was crazy or out of control. There were some long lineups, but apparently it's been a strong weekend and it continues today with what I think might be the least productive day in business of all, Cyber Monday, where people get on the Internet and start completing their sales.

M. O'BRIEN: And there are deals out there today?

VELSHI: Yes.

M. O'BRIEN: That's why people do it today. Because, I mean, the idea of the Internet is you can do it anytime, right?

VELSHI: The idea is that there are deals to get you to buy. Electronics, typically, around this time of year. You'll find about 83 percent of retailers are offering no shipping charge, and that is apparently the biggest deal which gets people to buy things. Thirty percent of people will buy one thing online -- 30 percent of people will do most of their shopping online for the holiday. Fifty percent of people will touch at least one thing online.

Now today is going to be not a very productive business day but Friday -- what have you got?

S. O'BRIEN: Monday, two-day sale. Wow. VELSHI: Two-day sale.

S. O'BRIEN: Best Buy.

VELSHI: Best Buy.

M. O'BRIEN: Now, you know, the thing is, with all these bargains out there, there's an expectation of deals. They're going to have to -- these prices are going to have to stay low, aren't they?

VELSHI: Yes. And the biggest deal right now is flat panel TVs. If you're buying a flat panel, you've seen the price come down dramatically and that's probably where you're going to get your biggest deal. But there's tight margins on these things.

Want to tell you about the market. Friday was one of the lightest days of the entire year. And as a result, you saw the Dow drop about 60 points. The Nasdaq was up. The S&P was flat. We're going to see some of that come back today because there are normal traders in the business. But the things to worry about, and I'll tell you about this in about an hour and a half, is the dollar. The dollar took a steep drop last week and that's going to have an effect on business.

M. O'BRIEN: All right. What else do you got? What's coming up?

VELSHI: I'm going to talk to you more about holiday shopping. Who's buying and where those deals are when we come back.

M. O'BRIEN: Thank you, Ali.

S. O'BRIEN: Interesting, interesting. Thanks, Ali.

Coming up this morning, President Bush is on the road again this morning. He's heading toward that summit with Iraq's prime minister. We were telling you all about that last week. We'll take you live to Washington this morning for a look at what exactly is at stake.

Plus, some new developments in the mysterious death of a former spy who was apparently poisoned at a London sushi bar. That and more straight ahead on AMERICAN MORNING.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

M. O'BRIEN: President Bush heads to the Middle East for a high- stakes summit. Could the meeting lead to the crumbling of the Iraqi government?

S. O'BRIEN: The pope is hoping to mend fences of his own with Muslims. He's preparing for his trip to Turkey.

M. O'BRIEN: A clandestine kill. Looking for clues into the poisoning death of a former Russian spy.

S. O'BRIEN: And Michael Richards apologizes again, taking his case to the Reverend Jesse Jackson. Those stories, much more ahead on AMERICAN MORNING.

M. O'BRIEN: Welcome back, Monday November 27th. The holiday is over. We hope you had a good one.

I'm Miles O'Brien.

S. O'BRIEN: And I'm Soledad O'Brien.

The Bush administration is putting on the full-court press for a change in direction in Iraq after the most violent weekend there since the U.S. invasion. President Bush leaves for Europe in just about 30 minutes. He's stopping in Estonia and Latvia for a NATO summit. Then he travels to Amman, Jordan, for those critical talks with the Iraqi prime minister, Nouri al-Maliki.

AMERICAN MORNING'S Bob Franken is live for us in Washington, D.C.

Bob, good morning to you.

The Iraq Study Group meeting today. Reports say that they're going to recommend that Iran and Syria are involved in some way in the solution to Iraq.

Tough sell to the administration?

BOB FRANKEN, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, it's public tough sell, although it is probable that back-channel kinds of efforts to get Iran and Syria involved in this have been under way. Of course for the public face, Syria and Iran are not considered friendly to the United States interests, and the administration goes to great pains not to have any public amicable dealings with them.

The key word here is "public". But the world of diplomacy is oftentimes conducted behind the scenes.

Both Syria and Iran, even with their problems with the United States, have a very strong interest in some sort of stable Iraq, because both of those countries are neighboring. And the United States faces the possibility that it may have to take advantage of the interests of people who are normally adversaries to try and help resolve this situation.

Of course, this is not the only effort that is going on. It's becoming quite regional.

Vice President Cheney was in Saudi Arabia over the weekend. Among the topics on the table, the Sunni majority in Saudi Arabia would like to appeal to the Sunnis in Iraq to try and settle down a little because an inflamed Iraq would threaten the whole region.

There's a lot of that going on. The U.S. is acknowledging that it can't go it alone, which it had been so long criticized for doing. Now there's an effort to really reach out and make this an international effort, particularly in the region -- Soledad. S. O'BRIEN: So if you look at what Jordan's King Abdullah is saying, his issue is it's not just Iraq, there are big other issues in Lebanon, other issues in the Palestinian territories, as well.

Is their conversation going to encompass all of these things?

FRANKEN: Well, the United States has always claimed that success in Iraq would be what -- the beginning of what could be an overall comprehensive Mideast peace. And what the king of Jordan is saying is that what has really happened is that the entire Mideast has gotten more volatile. As a matter of fact, he says that Iraq is not the top priority as far as the Mideast is concerned, that the big priority is the Palestinian-Israeli confrontation. Then there's Lebanon, and then Iraq.

S. O'BRIEN: Bob Franken for us this morning.

Bob, thanks for the update. Appreciate it -- Miles.

M. O'BRIEN: Angry demonstrations are already setting the scene for the pope's trip to Turkey. About 25,000 protesters turned out in Istanbul, chanting and waving banners. The majority of Turkey's population is Muslim, and many there have not forgiven the pope's comments about religious violence and Islam.

CNN's Alessio Vinci in Rome with a preview.

Hello, Alessio.

ALESSIO VINCI, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Hello, Miles.

Those demonstrators were just showing a small portion of the Turkish population as a whole if you imagine that Istanbul counts 14 million people, and yesterday only about 15,000 showed up at that demonstration in downtown Istanbul. Certainly anti-papal sentiment has grown in Turkey, not just in Turkey, but throughout the Middle East. But the pope has expressed his regrets for the harm that his comments have made, and most Turks appear to have accepted those -- those regrets.

Indeed, we are getting reports that it is possible that the Turkish prime minister tomorrow will be meeting the pope in Ankara when he arrives there. He was among one of the most vociferous critics of the pope after he made those comments linking Islam and Turkey.

So it is important to know that those anti-papal demonstrations are organized by nationalist groups, by extreme Muslims groups who only represent a small fraction of the population as a whole who would like to see a pope's apology. They know they will not get one, but they would like to get at least an acknowledgment that he does not hate Islam, he does not believe that Islam is a violent religion.

That said, most people in Turkey today are expecting the pope and are welcoming him.

M. O'BRIEN: Alessio, why doesn't the pope just apologize for those comments?

VINCI: Bell, because I think that deep inside he believes that there are some portions of Islam, and not the Islamic religion, but the culture, who have some link with violence. And the reaction that we have seen throughout the Middle East certainly indicates that is -- that is true.

So he would not want to back track because, first of all, it is also important to know that the pope's constituency is not just the Muslim world. He also has to appease or to talk to Christians and Catholics around the world. And they believe, of course, that the pope's words were true.

So it is a pope that perhaps used the wrong words, perhaps used a wrong example. But deep inside, he really believes that there is a problem with violence and religion, and Islam is shown in some instances that the two are -- the two are linked.

M. O'BRIEN: Alessio Vinci in Rome.

Thank you.

A programming note for you. Anderson Cooper will report live from Turkey for the pope's visit this week. Special coverage begins at 10:00 Eastern.

And join us tomorrow beginning at 6:00 Eastern Time in the morning for an international town hall meeting. A network-wide look at the pope's visit and the issues of religious tolerance, indifferences called "When Faiths Collide." That's all day tomorrow on CNN -- Soledad.

S. O'BRIEN: Straight ahead this morning, a quick check of the forecast on this back-to-work Monday.

Plus, another apology from Michael Richards of "Seinfeld." We'll tell you what he had to say when he talked to the Reverend Jesse Jackson.

That's straight ahead.

Stay with us.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

M. O'BRIEN: Stop just a moment before you head out the door. Look who's headed into our door here. Chad Myers was willing to brave the holiday travel rush.

It wasn't so bad though, huh?

CHAD MYERS, CNN METEOROLOGIST: It wasn't.

M. O'BRIEN: Yes.

MYERS: You know how they say don't go to Studio 54 because nobody goes there anymore? Well -- and it's always full. Well, nobody flew yesterday, it didn't seem. My flight was full, but there wasn't 25 people waiting on standby.

Today is the day.

M. O'BRIEN: So you were expecting a nightmare, didn't see it. I think today may be the day, yes.

(WEATHER REPORT)

S. O'BRIEN: Thank you, Chad.

MYERS: You're welcome.

S. O'BRIEN: Next up on the apology train, the Reverend Jesse Jackson's syndicated radio show. We're talking about the comedian Michael Richards, who's still trying to make amends for that racist rant during his standup act. And he tells CNN that his recovery goes far beyond just saying sorry.

CNN's Brooke Anderson has our report this morning.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

MICHAEL RICHARDS, ACTOR: I know I have hurt them very, very deeply. And now I can -- I can -- I can say I am deeply sorry for this.

BROOKE ANDERSON, CNN ENTERTAINMENT CORRESPONDENT (voice over): Michael Richards is apologizing once again for his racist rant at a comedy club in Los Angeles.

(on camera): Richards came here to Premiere Radio Networks to sit face to face with Reverend Jesse Jackson on his nationally syndicated radio show "Keep Hope Alive" to personally ask for forgiveness from the African-American community.

REV. JESSE JACKSON, RADIO TALK SHOW HOST: You used the word "Nigger," and then the -- then the lynching scene. I mean, have you been here before?

RICHARDS: No, no, no, no, no. It's a first time for me to talk to an African-American like that. That's a first time for me.

I'm really busted up over this.

ANDERSON: But this isn't the first time he said "I'm sorry." This latest act of contrition comes nearly a week after Richards' appearance on the "The Late Show With David Letterman."

It wasn't well received.

SINBAD, COMEDIAN: That was the worst apology I have ever seen. That apology is -- it was a piece of trash. You can't go on "Letterman." That's the punk way out. ANDERSON: CNN was the only media outlet allowed in to Jackson's radio show, which included a call from Al Sharpton and featured comic Paul Mooney and two NAACP leaders in studio. We were asked to film the interview, but at the very last minute before the show went on the air, Richards became extremely uncomfortable with the presence of the cameras and we were told they were no longer permitted. Richards did allow brief filming only during a commercial break.

(on camera): Do you see yourself as a symbol of this bigger issue now?

RICHARDS: Perhaps a voice that got it in motion.

ANDERSON (voice over): Following the show, Richards spoke exclusively to CNN about what he plans to do next.

RICHARDS: Personal work. Deep personal work.

ANDERSON (on camera): As in therapy, psychiatry? What?

RICHARDS: Yes, to get to the depths of my -- of anger, the issues of anger. I'm seeing someone now.

ANDERSON: How do you think this went this morning?

RICHARDS: The African-American community is -- I mean, the leadership has -- has opened up the healing. And for that I'm grateful.

ANDERSON (voice over): Community leaders hope the healing extends to everyone, not just Michael Richards.

WILLIS EDWARDS, NAACP: We have to begin at home, too, within our own community. And begin today stamping out using that word, called the "N" word. We hope that everybody across America would join us in never allowing their children, allowing themselves to use the "N" word.

RONALD HASSON, NAACP: This word has no place in our society.

ANDERSON: Brooke Anderson, CNN, Hollywood.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

S. O'BRIEN: Richards is being advised by the famed New York public relations man Howard Rubenstein, who also offers his P.R. counsel to the New York Yankees and the NAACP Image Awards.

M. O'BRIEN: Coming up, President Bush leaving town within just a few moments, heading for a high-profile summit with the prime minister of Iraq. More on the test for both leaders ahead.

Plus, new information just coming in on the mysterious poisoning death of a former Russian spy.

Stay with us. (BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

CAROL COSTELLO, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice over): The holidays are a fun, festive time of year. Family, friends and lots of yummy food. But if you overindulge and now you're feeling stuffed like a turkey, here is something to keep in mind.

The average Thanksgiving dinner has 3,000 calories and 229 grams of fat. And if you want to burn off all those holiday calories, you'd better get started.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: A 170-pound adult would have to run a 10- minute mile for two and a half hours -- yes -- would have to swim or aerobic dance for six hours, or walk or ride their bike at a moderate pace for 10 hours. That's a lot of exercise.

COSTELLO: Newlyweds Sabrina (ph) and David Clark (ph) say they exercise before a holiday feast.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We try to stay active. You know? Like, we always work out Thanksgiving morning.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Go for a slow digestive walk after the meal. That way your body can begin to burn some of the calories, more of the calories that you have just ingested.

COSTELLO: Dana's (ph) best holiday take home advice is to limit your portion sizes and the amount of alcohol you consume. Also, slow down and savor the foods you love this holiday season.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We also, you know, keep saying every year we're going to cut this down, we don't need all this. But we keep adding it back in. It's tradition.

COSTELLO: Carol Costello, CNN New York.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

M. O'BRIEN: Welcome back. Let's take a look at the Monday morning grid, see some of the stories we are following you.

Go to incoming 12, if you would, Dean.

That's One Police Plaza in Manhattan downtown, and there's an investigation under way this morning. Five police officers are on administrative leave after firing together a total of 50 shots at a bridegroom-to-be and two of his friends. The bridegroom-to-be is dead, two of his friends in the hospital.

They were all unarmed. This happened at a strip club in Queens. A lot of outrage in New York City over that shooting right now. An investigation under way.

Over there, there's CNN International. They're doing a weather report.

Down below, incoming 17, there's Paula Newton, Paula Newton on the streets of London. She's about to tell us the latest on the death of that Russian spy. She looks like she's ready to go.

You ready? Thumbs up if you're ready, Paula.

All right. She's good to go.

Incoming 14, that's Allan Chernoff's live signal coming in from LaGuardia Airport. It looks like it's pretty busy there today. A lot of people have spilled over into Monday on their return trip back from the Thanksgiving holiday. Allan is there watching travel for you -- Soledad.

S. O'BRIEN: All right. Thank you very much.

Let's get to those new developments now on that story we've been covering extensively for you, that mysterious poisoning death of a former Russian spy.

CNN's Paula Newton is live in London with more on the investigation for us.

Hey, Paula. Good morning.

PAULA NEWTON, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Hey there, Soledad.

You know, the news this morning is that they will open an inquest into this death on Thursday. Unfortunately, that inquest will take quite some time. This investigation won't be wrapped up for at least weeks, and even the autopsy has proven to be a huge problem. Right now Alexander Litvinenko's body is in a state of limbo because authorities don't know whether it would be too dangerous to do that autopsy.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

NEWTON (voice over): His doctors called it chemical torture. And in the hours before his death, former Russian spy Alexander Litvinenko bared the scars of it. His organs failing, his body surrendering. But not his mind.

Until the last, he fingered the Kremlin, a charge echoed by his father.

"This regime is a mortal danger to the world. He fought this regime, he understood it, and this regime got him."

What actually got him, investigators say, is a rare radioactive element called Polonium-210. And now trying to figure out when and how he was poisoned is turning into a sensational whodunit. His friends say the Polonium should be like a fingerprint for police; it implicates Russian intelligence executing the government's orders.

ALEX GOLDFARB, VICTIM'S FRIEND: We know that the Russian regime has evolved into a kind of authoritarian dictatorship by now, with no checks and balances.

NEWTON: Russian President Vladimir Putin denies any and all involvement.

VLADIMIR PUTIN, RUSSIAN PRESIDENT (through translator): I hope that British authorities would not contribute to instigation of political scandals. It has nothing to do with reality.

NEWTON: It's now up to Scotland Yard to sort all of this out. Investigators are combing through Litvinenko's north London home, the sushi restaurant where he had lunch on November 1st, and the hotel where earlier that same day (INAUDIBLE).

All the sites are now contaminated with radiation and authorities are asking people who may have been affected to come forward.

JILL MEARA, BRITISH HEALTH PROTECTION AGENCY: Because we can analyze for it, and this is potentially a serious incident as a whole, we are pleased to offer this reassurance to people.

NEWTON: But police remain challenged by this bizarre murder that now threatens to strain relations between Britain and Russia.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

NEWTON: As a former secret agent, Litvinenko made plenty of enemies. He was one of Putin's harshest critics in recent years. But in truth, those enemies, many of them, may have had the means and the motives to silence him -- Soledad.

S. O'BRIEN: There's a report, Paul, in "The Independent" that says one theory might be that Litvinenko killed himself in order to discredit Putin's regime. What's -- what's sort of the general take on that theory?

NEWTON: You know, that was making the rounds on Friday, as well. In terms of all of this kind of intrigue, when it involves Russia, Soledad, I mean, the conspiracy theories have been floating thick and fast.

This, they're trying to say, is that he poisoned himself in order to do himself in, to make Putin and the Kremlin look bad in order to turn the tide on what they feel is an autocratic regime in Russia. Most of people, though, that I've spoken with -- and I spoke to a couple friends this morning on the phone -- say it's absolutely ridiculous that he would have put himself through what I described as chemical torture -- Soledad.

S. O'BRIEN: Yes, it sounds like a kind of a dire take to discredit Putin's regime, if that's what he was trying to do.

Paula Newton for us this morning with a mystery that keeps -- keeps on going.

Thanks, Paula -- Miles. M. O'BRIEN: Coming up, what kind of shopper are you? Are you a Black Friday or are you more a Cyber Monday? Today the people who wouldn't be caught dead in a long line at a mall get their chance to find an e-deal.

Online holiday shopping next on AMERICAN MORNING.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

S. O'BRIEN: Retailers are hoping that Black Friday's strong sales will continue today, because it's Cyber Monday.

Ali Velshi is "Minding Your Busy" this morning.

ALI VELSHI, CNN CORRESPONDENT: The day when nobody...

S. O'BRIEN: Happy Cyber Monday to you.

VELSHI: I'm doing no research. I'm just on the Internet. This is my research for this morning. It's where the deals are.

You know, they're expecting that retails sales this holiday season will be up about five percent over last year, which means for those of you who are going to spend around $800, you're going to spend five percent more. But where the jump is once again is in Cyber Monday.

This has only been around for two or three years. The idea that it's Monday, you've done some of your holiday shopping, now you're going to hit the Internet. And the sales are big right now.

Expecting a 24 percent jump over last year. And the biggest deal in Internet shopping this year, the biggest impediment to doing your shopping online has been shipping charges.

Now, you see that? Look at that, the free shipping.

S. O'BRIEN: That's not worth it.

VELSHI: Yes.

M. O'BRIEN: Right.

VELSHI: Now, 83 percent of retailers are offering free shipping. And that's...

S. O'BRIEN: Just today or for the holidays?

VELSHI: For the holidays.

S. O'BRIEN: Oh.

VELSHI: You can also ship until later.

Now, who was shopping in the first couple days? The first few days after Black Friday tends to be big deals on electronics and toys. So if you look at the crowds that were busting through lines on Friday, you might see that there were more men than women going into some stores, buying the TVs, the flats, panels, things like that.

M. O'BRIEN: Yes.

TO ORDER A VIDEO OF THIS TRANSCRIPT, PLEASE CALL 800-CNN-NEWS OR USE OUR SECURE ONLINE ORDER FORM LOCATED AT www.voxant.com

Search
© 2007 Cable News Network.
A Time Warner Company. All Rights Reserved.
Terms under which this service is provided to you.
Read our privacy guidelines. Contact us. Site Map.
Offsite Icon External sites open in new window; not endorsed by CNN.com
Pipeline Icon Pay service with live and archived video. Learn more
Radio News Icon Download audio news  |  RSS Feed Add RSS headlines