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American Embassy Attacked in Greece; Interview With Lance Armstrong

Aired January 12, 2007 - 07:00   ET


MILES O'BRIEN, ANCHOR, AMERICAN MORNING: Breaking news. The U.S. embassy attacked overnight in Athens with a rocket propelled grenade.
ALINA CHO, ANCHOR, AMERICAN MORNING: Selling the plan, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice going overseas to defend the president's new plan for Iraq.

And a new poll just out showing how Americans feel.

O'BRIEN: A killer in the room. Deadly gas could be seeping into your hotel room, and there are very few laws to protect you.

CHO: And Lance Armstrong out front again, challenging Congress to do something about cancer, and talking live with us, right here on AMERICAN MORNING.

O'BRIEN: Good morning to you, Friday, January 12th. I'm Miles O'Brien.

CHO: And I'm Alina Cho in for Soledad this morning. Thanks for joining us.

O'BRIEN: We begin in Greece and the attack on the U.S. embassy there. Authorities are investigating a rocket attack at the embassy in Athens.

A rocket-propelled grenade hit the building causing minor damage. No one hurt, fortunately. The grenade apparently fired from a street just beyond the embassy gates.

The U.S. ambassador to Greece is condemning the attack. Police are investigating claims that a left-wing group called the Revolutionary Struggle may be responsible.

CHO: Here at home, just about everywhere you look, winter weather is making news - again. Storm warnings, freezing rain, wind chills, flooding and new warning this morning about a massive ice storm brewing.

CNN's Rob Marciano is in Steamboat Springs, Colorado, and severe weather expert Chad Myers at the CNN Weather Center in Atlanta.

Chad, let's begin with you. Good morning.

CHAD MYERS, CNN METEOROLOGIST, ATLANTA: Good morning, Alina. This storm - there's going to be a snow storm in the Rockies where Rob is, but as it moves into the Plains, it's going to be a completely different animal.

There will be snow across parts of Nebraska and Kansas. There's Colorado, there's Denver right there.

But the bigger part of this storm will be how the cold air comes down from the north and then warm air tries to ride over the top of it. Very typical what we call in meteorology a conveyor belt system.

Think of the air coming in from Texas and then hitting up a conveyor belt. As it rides up and over, the colder and heavier cold air, it is going to rain down through it. And when it rains into air that's 25 degrees, that's not a good thing.

Ice storm through here, right at the breaking point, right at the 30 degree mark, and this could stretch through some major cities, and we talked about anywhere from Texas through Oklahoma City, Tulsa and right on up even into maybe Fort Wayne, South Bend. Chicago, you're not out of it either. Just depends how this storm goes from here - Alina.

CHO: Travel's going to be a mess, Chad.

MYERS: It will.

CHO: All right. Thanks. We'll talk to you a bit later.

Another winter storm is heading for the Rockies, as Chad just said. Bitter cold and the fourth snow storm in a month in Colorado today.

CNN's Rob Marciano in Steamboat Springs for us. Rob, good morning.


Behind me the snow cats are hard at work preparing the slopes here at Steamboat for another day of skiing. And, of course, any natural snow they get is good news for ski resorts.

But like with anything in weather, good news, bad news. When you get too much snow, the avalanche threat begins to increase, and we'll see that today and tomorrow.

Yesterday, we went out with an avalanche search and rescue team to see just how they dig somebody out of the snow.


MARCIANO (voice-over): Just a week after a massive avalanche at Berthoud Pass, another winter storm is aimed at Colorado. And Coloradoans will again be under the threat of sliding snow, especially those who play in the back country. Dave Hill is with Routt County search and rescue. He gets the call when someone is buried in an avalanche. And in his business, time is everything.

DAVE HILL, ROUTT COUNTY, COLORADO, SEARCH AND RESCUE: If we can get to you in the first 15 minutes, you have about an 80 percent chance of surviving. That chance begins to drop off drastically after that.

By the time we hit 30 minutes, you have a 50-50 chance of being alive when we get to you.

MARCIANO: In essence, the people you're with are your best chances for survival. So it's crucial they carry the proper equipment and know how to use it. A probe, a shovel, and most importantly, an avalanche beacon.

HILL: Yes, I'm starting to get a signal.

MARCIANO: The beacon transmits and receives a signal from others in your group. Here, a beacon has been hidden in the snow. This searcher homes in on it in seconds.

Even so ...

HILL: One of the oldest pieces of avalanche technology we have, and still one of the best.

MARCIANO: Search dogs can smell a human buried deep in the snow.

HILL: The whole idea is that somebody is up there in the snow, and they need to go and find them.

MARCIANO: You want to find me? OK.

It's time to hide in the snow cave for a little demonstration.

HILL: Do you have the radio so you can talk to us and let us know what's going on? And then we'll start the exercise and let the dog find you.

MARCIANO: Yes, tell him to hurry.

HILL: Got it.

And Rob, this is Dave with a radio check. How do you hear me?

MARCIANO: Hear you loud and clear. Everything's good.

HILL: OK, then.

And so, he is working around the pile right now, trying to find a good spot where the odor comes through.

We're going to go ahead and help the dog out a little bit. Still use them for the primary search. We're just trying to make it easier for them to confirm that they've really you.

MARCIANO: For rescue dogs it's merely a game. But for those stuck deep under an avalanche of snow, it could be a lifesaver.


MARCIANO (on camera): Just got off the phone with the Avalanche Information Center here in Colorado. And they say, with all the wind they've had these past couple of days, there's not a whole lot of snow right now to slide.

But as that snow begins to load up again today and the wind begins to blow it tonight, avalanche risk will increase tomorrow.

The jacket I was wearing in that piece has yet something else. Winter storm clothing makers are actually implanting avalanche devices right into the jacket.

This is a Reiko (ph) reflector, and it helps searchers who are searching around your area with the proper radar to actually pick up the jacket you're wearing.

But still, Alina, as Dave said, 15 minutes or 30 minutes, that's about all they'd have for time to get you before things get really hairy there. So, we'll see what happens over the next day.

Right now, avalanche danger not too bad, but when the snow begins to pile up today, winds blow tonight, the risk becomes worse tomorrow.

CHO: Rob Marciano, live for us in Steamboat Springs, Colorado. Rob, thanks.

O'BRIEN: Now to the war in Iraq and fresh evidence this morning that the Bush administration has a hard sell ahead to convince Americans that adding more U.S. troops is a plan for success.

The results of a new CNN opinion research poll just out. Senior political analyst, Bill Schneider, has the numbers now from Washington. Good morning, Bill.


Well, on Wednesday night, President Bush announced his new plan for Iraq, more than 20,000 additional American troops.

The public's response? Two-to-one negative. In fact, half the public say they strongly oppose the build-up.

Democratic voters are virtually united in their opposition, 88 percent opposed. And the president's base? Two-thirds of Republicans support President Bush on Iraq.

But we're beginning to hear criticism from Republicans, like Senator Chuck Hagel, who called President Bush's plan, "the most dangerous foreign policy blunder in this country since Vietnam." Hagel speaks for 30 percent of Republican voters, who oppose Mr. Bush's plan.

O'BRIEN: Bill, President Bush says troops will have a well- defined mission. Does the public agree?

SCHNEIDER: President Bush said, "Our troops will have a well- defined mission." The public does not agree, Miles. Only 35 percent believe President Bush has a clear plan for Iraq.

Now, that's up a bit from the 25 percent who felt that way before he spoke. But 63 percent of Americans still do not see a clear plan.

O'BRIEN: Do Americans see a clear alternative on the Democratic side of the aisle?

SCHNEIDER: Well, you know, Democrats want to go in the opposite direction, a phased withdrawal of American troops.

President Bush said he considered that option and concluded that, "to step back now would force a collapse of the Iraqi government."

But the American people say they have more confidence in Congressional Democrats than in President Bush when it comes to Iraq.

You know, maybe the speech didn't work, because only 43 percent of Americans watched it. But even among those who did watch it, only 27 percent said it made them more likely to support the president's policies. Half said it made no difference - Miles.

O'BRIEN: Bill Schneider, thank you very much.

The poll we just reported, part of a new partnership. Today, CNN announcing the CNN Opinion Research Corporation poll. Plan to bring you the most accurate, most insightful public opinion polling anywhere - Alina.

CHO: An alert now for all travelers about a safety concern in your hotel.

Should all hotel rooms be equipped with a carbon monoxide detector?

The father of a man who died of apparent carbon monoxide poisoning at a hotel in Florida is speaking out, and only to CNN.

Susan Candiotti is live from Ft. Lauderdale with more. Susan, good morning.


Whether you're on vacation or a business trip here in South Florida or anywhere in the United States, beware of the potential for carbon monoxide poisoning. More than 20 people now claim they were sickened by the odorless, invisible gas known as the silent killer, at a single hotel in Key West, Florida. And for one man who lost his son, the tragic loss has now revealed a stunning lack of uniform regulation for carbon monoxide detectors in hotels.


RICHARD LUEDERS, CARBON MONOXIDE VICTIM: I would not wish this on anyone.

CANDIOTTI: Two days after Christmas at the Doubletree Grand Key Resort in Key West, Richard Lueders lost his only son, Thomas, to apparent carbon monoxide poisoning. The fire chief says he suspects a malfunctioning boiler next to their room was to blame.

The state fire marshal says there's no record the boiler was ever inspected.

LUEDERS: We believe that some good needs to come of this incredibly tragic situation.

CANDIOTTI: Twenty-six-year-old Thomas Lueders was on a holiday trip with his dad to the Florida Keys.

LUEDERS: My last vision of Tom was on the bed in the room, reading a book. I remember falling in the shower. And then I think I tried to get up, and that was pretty much when the lights went out.

CANDIOTTI: When Lueders came to the next day, he was in an oxygen chamber. No one told him about his son.

LUEDERS: A feeling came over me. And frankly, I felt Tom's presence.

When that happened, I knew he was gone.

CANDIOTTI: Lueders later learned other hotel guests fell ill from CO poisoning in the same room five days earlier.

LUEDERS: It just leaves you just completely perplexed. How could it be?

CANDIOTTI: Citing an ongoing investigation, neither the hotel nor its management company would answer any questions about the incidents.

The hotel does not now have CO detectors, but told CNN it plans to install them when it reopens.

LUEDERS: What happened to Tom should not have happened to anyone in this country. And for want of a $20 carbon monoxide detector.

CANDIOTTI: Eleven states require CO monitors in homes. Only seven of those states also require them in hotels. After five La Quinta guests suffered carbon monoxide poisoning near Denver in 2001, the hotel chain began installing detectors on some of its properties.

Marriott requires them at all of its hotels. Hilton and Holiday Inn did not respond.

Richard Lueders vows to fight for laws making CO monitors mandatory in every state.

What do you think Tom would think of this, your efforts?

LUEDERS: I think he would be happy to know that we would be doing the best we could to be sure that he was the last person to have this kind of experience.


CANDIOTTI: Currently, there are no federal laws governing the installation of carbon monoxide detectors in homes or in hotels. This is what one of them looks like. They run anywhere from $20 to $50.

Mr. Lueders now says he packs one in his suitcase wherever he goes - Alina.

CHO: Susan Candiotti live for us in Ft. Lauderdale. Susan, thank you.

O'BRIEN: Coming up, a look at all the winter storm warnings all across the country. Snow, ice, flooding, rain - you name it. Severe weather expert Chad Myers has his hands full, and he'll cipher it all out for us in just a little bit.

And say good morning, Lance. Lance Armstrong joins us with his latest stage in life - getting Congress to do more about cancer. We'll talk with him just ahead.

You're watching AMERICAN MORNING, the most news in the morning, right here.


CHO: Top headlines right now. British Prime Minister Tony Blair speaking this hour. There are reports that the U.K. might reduce, not increase, the number of British troops in Iraq.

And Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice hitting the road a day after getting grilled by Congress. She'll present the new plan for Iraq to leaders in the Middle East.

O'BRIEN: There's a good chance you know someone who is battling cancer. Nearly 1.5 million Americans get a cancer diagnosis each year.

Of course, it is no longer the death sentence it was a generation ago, but there is still a lot more work to be done before we find a cure.

With that in mind, we've put together a cancer fighting dream team. Dr. Sanjay Gupta and cancer survivor, Lance Armstrong, who will join me a little bit later, is previewing this morning a show called "Saving Your Life," CNN special.

Sanjay, good to have you with us. Tell us about your program.

DR. SANJAY GUPTA, CNN CHIEF MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, it is called "Saving Your Life." This is something that we're very proud of. We've been working on it for several months, trying to take a look at where we are in this battle against cancer.

And obviously, Lance Armstrong is one of the truest warriors, if you will, in this war.

You know, there are so many things that happen to somebody when they're first diagnosed with cancer, Miles. It's very much a very confusing process. Sometimes they're a deer in the headlights. They don't know how to navigate a hospital.

One of the things we're talking about is, what do you do? What do you do if you're confronted with this diagnosis? How can you make it easier? What's going to make you more likely to go see the doctor, get screened? And what are the things that you can do right now to save your own life?

But also, some of the survivor stories are remarkable. I think this is an optimistic hour about how people are winning every day on a personal level, but there is so much work still to be done by society.

This is something really worth looking at. I think cancer is one of those things that, as you said, affects so many, that sometimes it just glazes over people.

Fifteen hundred people die a day of cancer. And I think we really shine a bright light on some of the problems that still need to get fixed.

O'BRIEN: Well, you know, Sanjay, as you well know, my sister is dealing with this right now. She's recovering from surgery. I've been talking to you about it.

And we talk about patients becoming empowered and trying to learn as much as they can. In a way, there's so much information out there, so much of it contradictory, it's difficult to sort through it all.

GUPTA: It is. It absolutely is. You're starting to see things that are going to make that easier. It's not going to be fixed overnight by any means.

But somebody that Lance and I know well is a guy by the name of Dr. Harold Freeman. And we talk a lot - we talk to him in the special. He's going to be one of our guests.

And he started this navigation program at Harlem, one of the most notoriously difficult areas to reach patients. And he's been able to create this navigation program that he wants to take national, so that when someone is worried about cancer - because of a family history, because of their own symptoms - they can figure out the very best information and how to get through a system.

Whether it's the very pragmatic of putting your primary doc with your oncologist and with your radiation doctor all together, or whether it be just figuring out where to get the very best information, it is remarkable.

And then there are Web sites like the Lance Armstrong Foundation Web site, which can point you immediately in the right directions. And this is important information for people to have.

O'BRIEN: Well, you've always got the good information. We do appreciate it.

GUPTA: Sure.

O'BRIEN: Sanjay Gupta. That's just the first stage of our promotional tour here for this program, "Saving Your Life." We're going to hear from Lance Armstrong a little bit later.

The program airs Saturday and Sunday night, 8:00 Eastern. And I don't think it's over the top to call it "Saving Your Life." This program could save your life.

Sanjay, thank you very much. We'll see you, sir, a little later - Alina.

CHO: Coming up, could the tide finally be turning for families waiting for their insurance companies to pay up after Hurricane Katrina? The ruling that could tip it all. That's ahead.

And how the airports get supplies to troops on the battlefield with almost exact precision. That's a story you won't want to miss. Stay with us on this AMERICAN MORNING.


CHO: Welcome back. Top stories.

A rocket-propelled grenade fired at the U.S. embassy in Athens overnight. No one hurt. Authorities suspect a Greek revolutionary group.

And British Prime Minister Tony Blair is about to speak. There are reports that the U.K. might reduce, not increase, the number of British troops in Iraq as we look then - Miles.

O'BRIEN: Thank you, Alina.

The U.S. Air Force can deliver bombs and missiles right down a chimney, if it chooses to. But what if it's a humanitarian mission and they're trying to drop food or water or other supplies with accuracy like that? Well, there's no more attaching pallets and parachutes, hoping it'll float just to where it's needed.

Jacki Schechner is here with the details. Hello, Jacki.

JACKI SCHECHNER, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Hello. Well, Miles, the Air Force is now in the business of strategic drops. It used to be that you would drop a pallet from 25,000 feet and it would just land wherever it landed, and then you had to get a donkey to bring the supplies up into the mountains.

Well, now they can get much closer. They can get within yards instead of miles. Here's how it works.

The pallets have a little box on them called an AGU - an airborne guidance unit. Inside that box there is a computer and a GPS system.

So, while this pallet is on the plane, they fire up the box. And the GPS system tells the pallet where it is now. Then they use a laptop - the airmen do - to send the plan wirelessly to the AGU. That tells the cargo where it's going to go. It also talks about what kind of weather is outside.

Then once this pallet gets pushed off the plane, that's it. There's no more communication. This thing is totally self-contained. It's very smart. The plane doesn't communicate with it at all anymore.

What it does is, it uses its plan. It adjusts for the actual weather outside. And then it basically steers it down where it needs to be. And this is landing within yards.

O'BRIEN: So, it guides the parachute? In other words, it's one of those directional type parachutes and actually pull on the cords, or whatever needs to be done, to get it in the right spot.

SCHECHNER: The technology within this box is so smart, that it can really guide itself. And not only the weather it's been designed to guide, but it can guide it depending on what the weather actually is outside.

This is really interesting. They can get as close as 160 yards in tests. In the field it's getting to about 280. But they say that this technology was rushed out into the field, because they needed it so badly.

So, they're going back. They're going to try to eventually get it down to 50 yards. So think about that - half a football field.

O'BRIEN: Not bad. All right.

SCHECHNER: Yes, pretty cool stuff.

O'BRIEN: Jacki Schechner, thank you very much - Alina.

CHO: Cool stuff. Miles, thank you. State Farm ordered to pay for refusing to cover damage done by Hurricane Katrina. Twenty-five minutes after the hour, Ali Velshi, "Minding Your Business."

This is a whopper of a verdict, Ali.

ALI VELSHI, CNN BUSINESS CORRESPONDENT: And Alina, so many of us have covered this type of story, you know how important this is.

Yesterday, a federal judge in Mississippi ordered State Farm to pay a couple whose home had been destroyed $223,000 - the full value of the home.

That wasn't the biggest deal. A jury then came back with a punitive award for the couple against State Farm for $2.5 million.

Now, the judge ruled that State Farm wasn't able to prove how much damage to the house was done by water. The contention here with State Farm and so many of the other insurers, is that they have denied claims to homeowners after the hurricanes, saying that water caused the damage, not wind. And water, as you know, is separately covered by flood insurance. You have to have flood insurance in order to get coverage for that.

This couple didn't have flood insurance, but the judge said that State Farm didn't give the jury enough information to allow it to segregate how much of the damage was done by wind and how much was done by water. And that seems to be the issue in so many of these claims, that the insurance companies aren't clear on how they're determining the split between water and wind.

Now, this all comes amid reports that State Farm and the attorney general of Mississippi are having, to reach a settlement in 639 claims. No word of that just yet, but we will follow on to see whether or not that settlement is reached - Miles.

O'BRIEN: Ali Velshi, thank you very much.

Top stories of the morning are next. Cycling champ and cancer survivor Lance Armstrong tells us about his latest fight - America's war on cancer.

Plus, spend it like Beckham. Soccer star David Beckham, making a big move to the U.S. I'd love to spend like him if I could. He's got his ever so posh wife there. That's ahead on AMERICAN MORNING.


O'BRIEN: Developing story for you. The U.S. embassy attacked in Athens, Greece overnight by a rocket-propelled grenade.

CHO: Storm warning. Growing concern about an ice storm brewing, the potential for dangerous travel and a dramatic power outage across three states.

O'BRIEN: Soccer and spice and a wad of cash so nice. International soccer star David Beckham, and the quarter billion dollar Hollywood payday.

Those stories ahead on AMERICAN MORNING: Good morning to you. It is Friday. January 12th. I'm Miles O'Brien.

CHO: And I'm Alina Cho, in today for Soledad. Thanks for joining us.

Happening this morning, ant-terror units in Athens, Greece looking for whoever fired on the U.S. embassy with a rocket-propelled grenade. No one was hurt; the building is heavily guarded and has often been the target of Greek protesters. Police are not saying who was responsible for the attack.

An ice storm is expected to begin in the south-central part of the country and spread north over the weekend. An inch of ice could coat the roads, and Chad says more than a million people could lose power as ice brings down the lines.

And the grilling of Defense Secretary Robert Gates and Joint Chiefs Chairman General Peter Pace resumes this morning. Both will be asked about President Bush's plan for Iraq at a hearing before the Senate Armed Services Committee. Miles.

O'BRIEN: Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice facing more blistering criticism today as she travels to the Middle East to explain President Bush's escalation of the Iraq war. This a day after she endured a tongue-lashing on Capitol Hill. CNN's Dana Bash joining us live from the hill. It was a remarkable scene.

DANA BASH, CNN CORRESPONDENT: It sure was, and today is round two of those congressional hearings, looking at the president's Iraq plan. The defense secretary and the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff will be before the Senate Armed Services Committee today, and if yesterday was any kind of preview, Miles, as you just mentioned, get ready for a combative event.


BASH (voice-over): From the moment she sat down, unrelenting criticism.

SEN. JOE BIDEN (D), CHMN. FOREIGN RELATIONS CMTE: I believe the president's strategy is not a solution. Secretary Rice, I believe it's a tragic mistake.

BASH: Across the Capitol the secretaries of state and defense came to sell the president's Iraq plan and were greeted with hostility and exasperation. What was unprecedented, how scornful Republicans were.

SEN. CHUCK HAGEL (R), NEBRASKA: This speech, given last night by this president, represents the most dangerous foreign policy blunder in this country since Vietnam, if it's carried out.

BASH: Republicans who think Mr. Bush is flat wrong to send more troops into what they call a deepening civil war. SEN. GEORGE VOINOVICH (R), OHIO: I have gone along with the president on this and I bought into his dream. And at this stage of the game, I don't think it's going to happen.

BASH: Republicans who say increasing U.S. troop levels has been tried before.

SEN. LISA MURKOWSKI (R), ALASKA: I'm not convinced as I look to the plan that the president presented yesterday that what we're seeing is that much different than what we have been doing in the past.

BASH: And Republicans joining Democrats in questioning whether the Iraqi prime minister can or will do what it takes to stabilize his country.

REP. JOHN MCHUGH (R), NEW YORK: I just have my doubts the Iraqis will show up. The track record isn't there.

ROBERT GATES, DEFENSE SECRETARY: If at the end of the day they don't keep the commitments that they have made to us, as I indicated before, we would clearly have to re-look at the strategy.

BASH: Under heated questioning from lawmakers, including five presidential hopefuls who sit on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, Bush lieutenants were forced to admit there are no guarantees this latest plan will work.

SEN. BARACK OBAMA (D), ILLINOIS: What leverage do we have that would provide us some assurance that six months from now you will not be sitting before us again saying, well, it didn't work.

CONDOLEEZZA RICE, SECRETARY OF STATE: Senator, the leverage is that we're not going to stay married to a plan that's not working in Baghdad.


BASH: Not one of the 21 senators on the Foreign Relations Committee, that includes 10 Republicans, came out in favor of the president's plan, Miles. Today's dynamic will be a little different before the Senate Armed Services Committee because among the questioners will be some supporters, high profile supporters, of the idea of sending more troops to Iraq, and that includes Senator John McCain. Miles.

O'BRIEN: Dana Bash, on the Capitol. Thank you very much.

The clock is ticking on the first 100 hours of the 110th Congress. So far 17 hours, 48 minutes down. The clock is holding now, 82 hours, 12 minutes to go. For those of you keeping score at home, here's what they've done so far. They have enacted the 9/11 Commission recommendations, among them mandatory inspection of all air and sea cargo entering the U.S. They voted to increase the federal minimum wage, up to $7.25. And last night members voted to expand stem-cell research. That's embryonic stem cells. Expect a presidential veto on that one. Today the House considers a bill to lower drug prices for seniors. Alina.

CHO: Any moment now British Prime Minister Tony Blair will be giving a speech on his country's military role in Iraq and Afghanistan. CNN's Robin Oakley live from London for us. Robin, what can we expect to hear from Mr. Blair today?

ROBIN OAKLEY, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Good morning Alina. Well, from Tony Blair it is going to be a reflection over the whole change in foreign policy and defense policy in the nearly 10 years that he has been in power with his Labor Party in Britain. He is going to talk about how the end of the Cold War changed the situation. How there aren't interstate conflicts in the same way for British forces anymore, that they've had to react and change to face up to the phenomenon of global terrorism, which he will insist requires global alliances.

He is basically going to defend his interventionist policy, the interventions in Kosovo, in Sierra Leon, and we can be pretty sure in Iran and Afghanistan, because he spoke yesterday on southwestern television in Britain and gave us a clue what he felt about that.


TONY BLAIR, BRITISH PRIME MINISTER: I think it is right for Britain, alongside our allies, to be in Iraq and Afghanistan, but it is a big decision to decide to be in that game still, in that business of being out and putting our forces in situations of danger.


OAKLEY: Tony Blair has begun -- or is just about to begin speaking down at a defense installation in southwest England, and we can expect a pretty strong defense from him of his alliances. He told us in a speech not long ago that it was a cop-out for Britain -- for people in Britain to say that they didn't like the policies of President George Bush, although they did like America. You have to take the two together, he says, Alina.

CHO: All right, Robin Oakley, we're going to go ahead and listen live at a little bit of Tony Blair's comments, and we're going to keep monitoring it, and we're going to get back to it a little later. Robin Oakley, thank you very much, Miles.

O'BRIEN: The president's push to send more troops into Iraq is putting a big strain on the soldiers and their families, of course, and it has Minnesota's governor up in arms as the National Guard there gets yet another call to duty. CNN's Keith Oppenheim with more.


KEITH OPPENHEIM, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Twenty-month- old Anna Fox can easily identify her father, Jared, in a photograph, but the truth is she mostly knows him from pictures. For nearly 2/3 of her young life, Sergeant Jared Fox has been gone, serving as an engineer with the U.S. military in Iraq.

(on camera): How are you doing?

CONNIE FOX, SGT. JARED FOX'S WIFE: I'm doing OK. I stay strong because that's what our family needs.

OPPENHEIM (voice-over): For Jared's wife, Connie, staying strong is about to get tougher. That's because Jared is a member of the Minnesota National Guard's first brigade, and Connie just learned Jared's year-long stay in Iraq will be extended by up to four months.

(on camera): You accept this, but the pain of separation is just below the surface?

FOX: Definitely, it's always there. You know, you're a single parent with a husband, and some days it's like why isn't he here, but you always have to remember, he is -- I'm very proud of my husband. You know, he is a soldier. That's what he does, and he is good at it.

OPPENHEIM (voice-over): The change in plan has been all too much for Tim Pawlenty, Republican governor of Minnesota, who has been critical of the president's plan to send more troops and especially upset the Minnesota guard is staying longer.

GOV. TIM PAWLENTY (R), MINNESOTA: That's not the general understanding that our soldiers had, or that their families had. It puts a very significant additional burden on them. It's unexpected, and it's extremely frustrating.

OPPENHEIM: Connie Fox manages her frustration by focussing on the positive. She thinks back to when Jared came home on leave during Thanksgiving and her daughter Anna recognized daddy.

FOX: Seeing her just go straight to him at the airport.

OPPENHEIM: (on camera): Knowing that that's her father?

FOX: Yes.

OPPENHEIM: That's great.

FOX: Completely worth it.

OPPENHEIM: You got to keep your eyes on the prize when he comes back.

FOX: That's right. Just waiting.

OPPENHEIM (voice-over): Keith Oppenheim, CNN, Foley, Minnesota.


O'BRIEN: Coming up in the program, Lance Armstrong with a new stage. He is taking the cancer battle to Congress, and he will talk with us live here on AMERICAN MORNING about that in just a moment. David Beckham kicking Europe aside to come stateside. Why? Well, there's a lot of Benjamins in this deal. We'll tell you about that. AMERICAN MORNING coming right back, the most news in the morning.


O'BRIEN: Cycling champion and cancer survivor Lance Armstrong is mad as heck. He's not going to take it any more. The seven time Tour de France winner is blasting politicians for not doing enough to fight cancer, the nation's number two killer now. Lance Armstrong has teamed up with our Dr. Sanjay Gupta. They produced a program called, "Saving Your Life," and it might just do that. It airs this weekend. We'll tell you when to watch it in just a moment, but first the man himself, Lance, good to have you with us.


O'BRIEN: Tell us about this column you wrote on It really touched a nerve, what you said in it, and, first of all, give people the gist of what you wrote.

ARMSTRONG: Well, it was interesting. Just when we start to think that Americans don't really care about the fight against cancer or perhaps are distracted with other issues in the country, we post a column like that, and low and behold, it's one of the most viewed sites ever on, so it's refreshing to know that we truly care. The basis of the story was just a general impatience that I have and a whole army of people have with the way we're going about things, with the lack of funding, with the lack of attention, the lack the focus, and the lack of -- ultimately the lack of leadership.

O'BRIEN: Let's talk about this lack of funding and lack of leadership. How much of the problem right now, when you look at trying to find a cure for cancer, is a lack of money, and how much of it is just perhaps science reaching its outer boundaries?

ARMSTRONG: Well, you know, before we paint a dark picture, I should say that we've made tremendous progress. I wouldn't be sitting here today if we had not made progress. There's 10 million cancer survivors in this country, so, obviously, they feel like we've made progress. The point is that now is not the time to stall when it comes to funding. Now is not the time to stall when it comes to attention.

I think it's an interesting time scientifically, and the two things that you always need with any great team is leadership and young potential, and, you know, coming along right now, with a stalling that we're seeing, you are going to lose both of those things. So our focus and our objective now, and the millions of people that we have behind us, are to make it an issue again. Especially going into the 2008 elections.

O'BRIEN: Is it really though a question of money, and how much more should the federal government be doing? I mean, the private sector steps up quite a bit here. There's nearly five billion dollars that is donated by private individuals to help find a cure for cancer and to find treatments.


O'BRIEN: Is that enough?

ARMSTRONG: Well, we can always use more money. Again, I think the biggest issue is leadership, and leadership, you know, that not only starts in the White House, but it trickles down through Congress, through the NIH and straight to the NCI and, also, just on the community level, who is leading this fight. There's a lot of other issues here that money has helped in the past, just if you consider access for all Americans.

We could save a full 1/3 of all cancer deaths, 200,000 lives, just by providing the proper care to the people that need it the most. I mean, that's money we've already spent. Why not give it to the people that need it? That's the easy stuff. I tell people all the time, let's save one-third of them right now, and the final two- thirds, let's devote time and attention and money into research and finding cures for their issues.

O'BRIEN: Why do you suppose there isn't more of a focus and there isn't more leadership in this front, because everybody, one way or another, knows someone or has dealt with -- personally has dealt with cancer?

ARMSTRONG: Well, Miles, it's pretty simple. This is an old issue. It's become complacent. Nixon declared war in 1971, and that was a long time ago. There are new things that come along. There are distractions that come along in this country, and I'm not saying that one is better or more meritorious than the other. But if you look at the war that we face today, it's the topic that gets discussed all the time.

So when you come along and talk about cancer and funding, it's not, for lack of a better word, it's not sexy anymore. But, you know, we can all remember the frenzy around the bird flu. We can all remember the frenzy around SARS. People were freaking out. What we need now is we need people to reengage in the fight against cancer, and the cool thing about the column two days ago was that we learned that people care about it. People actually logged on, read the article, and passed it along to their friends, and to the tune of more than one million people.

O'BRIEN: Final thought here, personal note please. You're approaching now second tour season without training for the Tour de France. You are literally in a new stage of your life. Are you finding it as fulfilling? Do you miss training for cycling?

ARMSTRONG: Well, the answer would be I don't miss the racing. I sort of miss -- it's hard to not miss that -- being that fit. I still ride the bike on a daily basis. I ran the New York City marathon last year. I still try to --

O'BRIEN: We heard about that. ARMSTRONG: That was -- that was a lot harder than I thought, but I'm realistic as well. I know I'm 35, going on 36 years old, and I couldn't be doing what I did before, and the fact of the matter is there's a lot bigger things to do now. And act two is going to be just as exciting for me as act one was.

O'BRIEN: Lance Armstrong, enjoy act two, and good to see you.

ARMSTRONG: Thank you very much.

O'BRIEN: And make sure to watch Lance and Dr. Sanjay Gupta as they team up in the fight against cancer. That program is called "Saving Your Life." Its this Saturday and Sunday night, 8:00 eastern. Alina.

CHO: Something tells me he is still fit.

ARMSTRONG: He is not over the hill at 35. I just want to say that.

CHO: That's for sure.

You know, we like to call this professional -- Candiotti cam. Our Susan Candiotti down in Fort Lauderdale doing some duty for us.

O'BRIEN: Eye candy cam.

CHO: That's right. Take a look at that. It's going to be sunny and 76 today in Fort Lauderdale.

O'BRIEN: Chamber of Commerce weather.

CHO: That's right, 30 percent chance of scattered showers, and tomorrow will be even hotter, 80 degrees and sunny. Guess what, it's going to be 49 degrees in New York City today, and if you are in Billings, Montana, minus 12.

O'BRIEN: Get on a plane now. Head to Candiotti cam.

CHO: That's right, 48 minutes after the hour. Sounded a bit like Chad Myers, so we're going to get right to Chad at the CNN Weather Center. Hey, Chad, good morning.


CHO: All right, Chad. Thank you.

Coming up on AMERICAN MORNING Posh and Beck to kick it in America. International soccer star David Beckham in line for a huge Hollywood pay day. You're going to want to hear how much.

And minding your business, the name game in the cell phone world. Cingular to morph into AT&T. That's ahead on AMERICAN MORNING.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK) CHO: Welcome back. Tom-Kat, Brangelina, and now Posh and Beck. International Soccer star David Beckham is signing a whopping 250 million dollar deal to play for the L.A. Galaxy, bringing his pop star wife Victoria, Posh Spice. Two more stars drawn to the lights of Hollywood. AMERICAN MORNING's Chris Lawrence has more.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And then Beckham with the service in.

CHRIS LAWRENCE, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): He is a European soccer star, his wife a former Spice Girl. They're ready to take on America together. David Beckham has reportedly signed a 250 million dollar contract to play for the L.A. Galaxy.

LEIGH STEINBERG, SPORTS AGENT: Everyone in America will be talking about this signing at water coolers and schools.

LAWRENCE: Everyone in America talking about a man hardly anyone can even recognize?

DAVID BECKHAM, SOCCER STAR: I love it here. It's cool.

LAWRENCE (on camera): Do people even know who David Beckham is here?

KEN BAKER, "US WEEKLY": They do, but it's like one in 10.

LAWRENCE: "US Weekly" editor Ken Baker says that will change quickly. Not due to Beckham alone, because his wife is more famous here than he is. With the former Posh Spice, there are paparazzi's dream.

BAKER: There is no Hollywood power couple left. They've all either broken up or gotten old and went to raise babies. They have an opportunity to fill the void and become the next big Hollywood power couple.

LAWRENCE: Beckham is betting his popularity in Europe will follow him across the pond to a sport still watched by few Americans.

BECKHAM: I have never had any regrets, for in my life and in my career, and I never want to.

LAWRENCE: But mentioning him in the same breath as Britney Spears or Brad Pitt?

BAKER: There's a lot of agents in town right now frothing at the mouth about the idea of, wow, he is in Hollywood now. Let's book him for movies, let's get a TV show.

LAWRENCE: Beckham was an instant celebrity among American soccer fans when he visited in 2005. This time he is after a whole different level of fame.

Chris Lawrence, CNN, Los Angeles. (END VIDEOTAPE)

O'BRIEN: Coming up on AMERICAN MORNING, behind the words of Martin Luther King Jr., a look at his last speech and the piece of paper found in his pocket the day he was killed.

And go ahead, make my day. Eastwood versus Eastwood in the Golden Globe Awards. You're watching AMERICAN MORNING, the most news in the morning, right here.


CHO: Well we just had to show you these pictures. Take a look, how is this for trust? That might scare the blank out of me. This is Anna Julia Torres. She's getting a hug and a kiss from an African lion named Jupiter. She runs an animal shelter in Columbia, by the way, and for the past six years -- you know, these guys are friends -- she has fed and nursed the lion, who was rescued from a life of abuse in the circus.

In all, Torres helps take care of about 800 animals, but we don't know whether all of them are as affectionate as that there.

O'BRIEN: And that lion was not defanged?

CHO: No.

O'BRIEN: That was, wow. All right, glad they have a good relationship, wonderful.

CHO: They're very close.

O'BRIEN: Cingular may be no more. Ali Velshi is here to explain at 58 minutes past, by the way.




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