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AMERICAN MORNING

Publicity Ploy Arrests: Scare in Boston; Beheading Plot? Major Investigation in Birmingham, England

Aired February 1, 2007 - 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: Publicity stunt panic. Two arrests overnight in Boston after harmless light boards planted cross the city bring in the bomb squad and outrage, too.
MILES O'BRIEN, CNN ANCHOR: Storm front. Snow in the plains. Ice expected along the East Coast. Hundreds of flights already canceled.

S. O'BRIEN: And politics and parenthood. Vice President Dick Cheney's daughter, Mary, talks about her pregnancy and the uproar it sparked on this AMERICAN MORNING.

Good morning. Welcome, everybody. Thursday, February 1st. I'm Soledad O'Brien.

M. O'BRIEN: And I'm Miles O'Brien. Thanks for being with us.

S. O'BRIEN: We begin in Boston this morning where two men are under arrest. The mayor and the governor and a lot of other people are furious over a marketing campaign that went very, very wrong. Here's some videotape on what was on one of the suspects websites.

His name is Peter Berdovsky. And you can see, he's putting up some of these light boards. That's exactly what caused so much havoc on Wednesday.

Now these light boards have been up in 10 cities for the last couple of weeks. A computer rail passenger noticed one on Wednesday morning and called police. So police found it and they blew it up.

A security official said it looked like an IED, an improvised explosive device. It's got a circuit board that lights up and you can see, we've got some of the videotape here, a little face on it, a character that appears to be flashing a middle finger. Well, it was these things that kept police on the run all day, responding to reports of these suspicious packages in nine locations in and around Boston, including Boston University Bridge and Longfellow Bridge.

Police closed the Charles River to boat traffic, car traffic. Got some pictures of this. It was just absolutely a mess, as you can imagine.

So what were these devices? It turns out it was a marketing campaign gone horribly awry. They were promoting a cartoon that airs on Adult Swim, which is part of Turner Broadcasting's Cartoon Network. Around 5:00 last night, police say Turner Broadcasting sent a fax to city hall explaining exactly what the devices were.

In a separate statement Turner Broadcasting said this, "we apologize to the citizens of Boston that part of a marketing campaign was mistaken for a public danger. We appreciate the gravity of this situation and, like any responsible company would, are putting all necessary resources toward understanding the facts surrounding it as quickly as possible." Well, last night, The Cartoon Network ran its own apology during commercial breaks. All that, though, not enough for Boston's mayor, Tom Menino, is furious.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MAYOR THOMAS MENINO, BOSTON, MASSACHUSETTS: It's all about corporate greed. It's all about Turner thinking they're powerful, they can do whatever they want in the media and that's wrong.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

S. O'BRIEN: Well you can see here, Peter Berdovsky and Sean Stevens arrested last night. They face charges of placing a hoax device in a way that incites panic, which is a felony. It's unclear at this time if they were the employees of Interference Inc., which is a third party company that was hired to do the marketing campaign. Hopefully we're going to learn a little bit more about that this morning. And we should mention that Turner Broadcasting is also the parent company of CNN.

Miles.

M. O'BRIEN: In the southeast this morning, a huge mess in the making as they brace for the worst kind of winter storm -- ice. Smack dab in the middle of it all? The nation's busiest airport, Atlanta's Hartsfield-Jackson. Delta preemptively pulled the plug on 200 flights and that will have a ripple effect all across the country today. So if you're flying anywhere, call or log on ahead.

We have complete coverage, of course. Rusty Dornin live from Atlanta. Severe weather expert Chad Myers at the CNN Center. Let's begin with rusty.

Rusty, what are you seeing?

RUSTY DORNIN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Miles, we're at a critical point right now. Of course the darkness is just before the dawn. It's also the coldest. But it's been maintaining a temperature of about 33, 34 degrees, so we don't see the sleet and ice in downtown Atlanta.

Now what we're going to show you now is what they call the downtown connector. It's the nightmare of every commuter in Atlanta. It's where I-75 and 85 connect, smack dab in the middle of downtown. And as you can see, it's flowing very well. There is no sleet or ice yet.

The Department of Transportation officials, about 300 of them, have been traveling the high ways, putting down gravel and salt and that sort of thing. They say still the bullet's going to hit up in northeast and maybe northwest Georgia where they are seeing some snow and ice.

Now out at Atlanta's Hartsfield Airport, of course, as you said, Delta has canceled 200 flights. AirTran has also canceled 50. Most of those flights were flights coming into Atlanta. They didn't want to have them spend the night and then have them get in the big line for de-icing.

They are making the decision whether to deice planes as we speak. 6:00 a.m. Eastern was the time to make that decision. And they just say at this point they're just not sure. If the temperature drops any more before the sun comes up, then that's the point they're going to have to start deicing. And it's also the point when we could be getting sleet and ice on these highways. And what you're seeing now could rapidly turn into a nightmare.

Miles.

M. O'BRIEN: Rusty Dornin, thank you very much.

Let's go to our severe weather expert, Chad Myers. Didn't even go home last night. Stayed in the hotel right next to CNN Center.

Chad, it sounds like Atlanta's right on the edge of this thing.

(WEATHER REPORT)

S. O'BRIEN: In Washington, D.C., the Senate makes a deal over the president's troop buildup plan for Iraq. A compromise resolution by Republican John Warner and Democrat Carl Levin is going to go to the floor next week. It opposes sending any new troops, but promises, though, to protection funding for the troops that are already in Iraq. What's not in it, any language that Levin originally wanted, calling the buildup "against the national interest." Some senators oppose any resolution. They say it sends a signal to troops that they're not being supported. Well, what do the troops think? AMERICAN MORNING's Sean Callebs has been talking to some of them in Ft. Stewart in Georgia this morning.

Good morning Sean.

SEAN CALLEBS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Good morning, Soledad.

Indeed the decision to send an additional 21,000 troops to Iraq is being felt here, moving up the deployment date for hundreds of troops at Ft. Stewart. Now the troops that we did have a chance to speak with said they're trying to ignore all the political activity in Washington, knowing that they are soon scheduled to change the Georgia landscape for a battlefield in Baghdad.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

CALLEBS, (voice over): Real bullets, real rockets, and members of the 37th Cavalry know the reality is, resolution or no resolution, they are getting ready to join soldiers being sent to Iraq. PVT. CHRISTOPHER WEISENBERGER, U.S. ARMY: You can always train more, but we train with the time we have and we get to see our families, we get to see our families. So I'm ready to go.

CALLEBS: But before reaching Baghdad, soldiers at Ft. Stewart are caught in a different kind of battle, a struggle between President Bush and senators, who are supporting a non-binding resolution that says adding 21,000 more troops is against the U.S. national interest.

SGT. LARRY MITCHELL, U.S. ARMY: Reality is reality. So you can ignore negative stuff but it's still going to be there.

CALLEBS: Training to go house to house, door to door, troops know just what to do. But a confrontation between Congress and the Bush administration is something else.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You see our folks, soldiers that we're focused on, on what we have to do and making sure that we're going to make a positive difference with the Iraqi people and with ourselves. And we'll let the rest of it take care of it.

CALLEBS: It's a sacrifice for people like 25-year-old mother of two, Carlia Mulholland. She's getting ready to say good-bye to her husband, a tank commander, who's heading to Iraq for the third time.

CARLIA MULHOLLAND, SOLDIER'S WIFE: I don't really like having him go back over again. And sometimes, you know, you get to the point where you're like, it's been enough. But he's our president.

CALLEBS: As the war goes, in many ways so does Hinesville, Georgia, home to Ft. Stewart. Those who have loved ones in Iraq say harsh reality means more than heated rhetoric.

CAROLINE CRISSMAN, SOLDIER'S WIFE: Frustrating to deal with, this all fighting over here when no matter what you decide, my husband's still over there and still in harm's way.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

CALLEBS: Now troops will be training here next week. The same time, the Senate is scheduled to be discussing the resolution. Now the commanders here say they are charged with keeping their troops ready to fight, the morale high, at a time when the war is becoming increasingly unpopular.

Soledad.

S. O'BRIEN: That could be quite a challenge. Sean Callebs for us this morning.

Thank you, Sean.

Miles.

M. O'BRIEN: Senator Joe Biden is campaigning for forgiveness this morning, after he began his presidential bid on a sour, divisive note. The Delaware Democrat managed to simultaneously toss his hat into the ring and put his foot in his mouth. Biden, well-known as a man of many words, was evaluating his competitors with a reporter for "The New York Observer." Here's what he said about fellow Senator Barack Obama.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. JOE BIDEN, (D) DELAWARE: I mean you've got the first sort of mainstream African-American who is articulate and bright and clean and a nice-looking guy. I mean, that's a storybook, man.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

M. O'BRIEN: Clean and articulate. Racially charged words to many ears. Biden went to the political version of confession last night, appearing on "The Daily Show" with Jon Stewart.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BIDEN: I spoke to Barack today.

JON STEWART, "THE DAILY SHOW": I bet you did.

BIDEN: I also spoke to Jessie and Al Sharpton and I also spoke . . .

STEWART: And Michael Jordan and anybody you could get your hands on. The Jackson Five. Who else?

BIDEN: Michael didn't call me. Look, what I was attempting to be, but not very artfully, is complimentary. This is an incredible guy. This is a phenomenon. This guy is -- and, look, the other part of this thing is, the word that got me in trouble is using the word clean. I should have said fresh. What I meant is he's got new ideas. He's a new guy on the block.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

M. O'BRIEN: For his part, Senator Obama says he didn't take the comments personally. He says they are historically inaccurate, however.

Soledad.

S. O'BRIEN: Because Jesse and Al ran for president. As Al said . . .

M. O'BRIEN: They're pretty clean. They take baths.

S. O'BRIEN: He took baths every day.

Vice President Dick Cheney's daughter, Mary, is speaking out for the first time about her decision to have a baby. Cheney's pregnant. She's due in the spring. She and her partner of 15 years, Heather Poe, are going to raise the child together. She told a panel at New York's Barnard College, "when Heather and I decided to have a baby, I knew it wasn't going to be the most popular decision. This is a baby. This is a blessing from God. It is not a political statement. It is not a prop to be used in a debate, on either side of a political issue. It is my child."

Mary Cheney also talked about her father's interview last week with CNN's Wolf Blitzer. She said she agreed with her father that a questions about conservatives criticizing her pregnancy had crossed the line.

Miles.

M. O'BRIEN: Schools closed, flights canceled, all because of an ice storm brewing in the south. Severe weather expert Chad Myers has details.

Plus, scary moments on board a cruise ship near Antarctica. Wasn't an iceberg, but an island that nearly sank it.

And Iran's president, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, is he a blessing for the Bush administration? There's a provocative question for you. A closer look ahead on AMERICAN MORNING. The most news in the morning right here on CNN.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

S. O'BRIEN: Welcome back, everybody. The most news in the morning is right here on CNN.

Two developing stories we're watching this morning. Two men were arrested overnight for a PR stunt. Light boards of cartoon characters were mistaken for bombs across the city of Boston. It kept the bomb squad working for much of the day.

And congressional compromise. Democratic Senator Carl Levin and Republican John Warner agreed to disagree with President Bush's plan to increase troops. Their new resolution expected to go to the floor of the Senate next week.

M. O'BRIEN: Well, at least they don't have to row like Shackleton's stranded crew. But passengers on an Antarctic cruise liner are off their damaged ship, now steaming north to safety. The Norwegian ship, Nordkapp, hit the rocks near Deception Island, of all places. No injuries reported. The captain was able to get the ship off the rocks and into a sheltered bay. A sister ship was called to the rescue. The 300 passengers now on it Argentina-bound. The Nordkapp is damaged but not taking on water. It's summer now in Antarctica. Temperatures range from five to 50 degrees.

About quarter past the hour right now. Chad Myers at the CNN Weather Center.

You've got the forecast for Deception Island, right?

(WEATHER REPORT)

S. O'BRIEN: Well, it seems that Iran's president, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, defies the United States every chance he gets, whether it's refusing to back down on Iran's nuclear program or railing against Israel. But he might just be a blessing for some people here in the U.S. Here's CNN's State Department correspondent Zain Verjee with our report.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

ZAIN VERJEE, CNN CORRESPONDENT, (voice over): Could Mahmoud Ahmadinejad be a neocon's best friend? Iran's president has been described by some in the U.S. as a gift from God. Experts say his hard, nuclear stance, his explosive anti-semitic rhetoric makes it easy for them to project Iran as a grave danger and they're successfully pushing for the U.S. to apply more pressure and confrontation with one objective.

SEAN MCCORMACK, STATE DEPARTMENT SPOKESMAN: The whole point of our policies are to try to get the Iranian regime to change its behavior.

VERJEE: Now the U.S. is cranking up the heat, vowing to hit at Iranians fueling the Iraqi insurgency. Five are already in custody. The U.S. is compiling evidence to prove Iran's deadly interference in Iraq. And a second U.S. aircraft carrier is steaming through the Gulf, a reminder to Iran of America's military might. It's all rattling nerves in Tehran.

AFSHIN MOLAVI, NEW AMERICAN FOUNDATION: There is serious concern that Iran faces a very troubling national security threat, i.e. potential military confrontation with the United States.

VERJEE: Even Ayatollah Khomeini seems nervous, expressing concern through a newspaper that reflects his views that Ahmadinejad is deepening Iran's international isolation and is hurting its economy. Lawmakers, leaders, students, disillusioned by the lack of jobs, blaming their president for U.N. sanctions over its nuclear program and questioning if Ahmadinejad is the right man for the job.

U.S. and western diplomats say the internal friction is evidence the pressure is working. But experts say the U.S. isn't taking advantage of it.

TRITA PARSI, IRANIAN AMERICAN COUNCIL: The past behavior of the Bush administration has been, that when it has been in a position of strength, it has chosen not to negotiate because it has felt that it didn't need to negotiate.

VERJEE: Harder tactics toward Iran could backfire. Analysts warn that if hardliners in the U.S. continue to push, Iranians could forgive Ahmadinejad all, close ranks behind him, making neocons his best friend.

Zain Verjee, CNN, at the State Department.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

S. O'BRIEN: Coming up this morning, investors expecting another dose of bad news from the U.S. auto industry. We're going to tell you why as we "Mind Your Business" straight ahead.

Plus, giving this kitty a bath. Have you seen this videotape. It's online. It's a big, big hit. But, gosh, oh my gosh, it really is awful. Cat lovers are furious. We're going to show you the video tape making a big splash straight ahead on AMERICAN MORNING. We're back right after this.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

S. O'BRIEN: AMERICAN MORNING has the most news in the morning. Here's what we're watching for you.

Ice and snow starting to bear down on states from Tennessee to North Carolina. Hundreds of flights have already been canceled.

And Democratic Senator Carl Levin and Republican John Warner agree on a new resolution opposing President Bush's plan to send 21,000 new troops into Iraq.

M. O'BRIEN: You never know what you'll find on YouTube. Here's one that is near the top of favorites. It shows a cat in a washing machine. The clips had more than a half million hits. As you can imagine, animal lovers are not too happy about it. Jeanne Moos will tell you about a this story and we tell you, no animals were harmed in the making of this piece.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

JEANNE MOOS, CNN CORRESPONDENT, (voice over): The cat may be out of the bag, but it's in the washing machine.

You put the cat in the machine.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The cat?

MOOS: Actually, the pet washing machine is old hat. But this video on YouTube is making a splash. Kitty washing machine set to music.

MUSIC: Under the sea. Under the sea. Darling it's better down where it's wetter, take it from me

MOOS: Kitty's only in the wash cycle for less than a minute on YouTube, but cat wash rocketed on to BuzzFeed, which tracks the most discussed topics on the web. The result? Pet culture wars. Is it a feline concentration camp or is it horrible? Really, really horribly funny?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It looks like it's dying. Why would do you that?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: That's awful! Oh.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: How do you know when it's done? Is the cat dead or something? MOOS: Well actually a full wash, rinse and dry lasts about 20 minutes and the folks who market Pet Spa to pet groomers say it reduces pet stress. Tell that to kitty.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Is it tumbling around or something?

MOOS: No, no, it doesn't tumble.

The water comes out in massaging jets. The makers say it gets pets really clean and dogs really like it, though cats tend to freak out at first. Who wouldn't freak out?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It's OK, babe, you're just taking a shower.

MOOS: And we all know how much cats love showers. Type in "cat bath" and you get 400 hits on YouTube. This one's entitled "cat bath hell." Maybe a cat washing machine would be easier.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: No, that looks illegal.

MOOS: One outraged e-mailer compared it to waterboard, when interrogators pour water on suspects to get them to talk.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: They ought to try putting some humans in there.

MOOS: Well, actually, the lifetime show, "Off The Leash," did, and she survived. So did the now famous YouTube cat, though his owner did take him out early.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: They clean themselves.

MOOS: The makers of Pet Spa say the video misrepresents the product that they spent 13 years developing it with the help of animal behaviorists and no pet has ever been injured. But the People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals say "using this machine is as ridiculous as tossing toddlers in the dishwasher."

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: If it's squirted on the right place, it is would feel good.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I don't like that. Can I leave now?

MOOS: She can. Not the cat.

Jeanne Moos, CNN, New York.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

M. O'BRIEN: All right. I have a couple of dogs who would react the same way. So when they say dogs like it, that's not true.

S. O'BRIEN: It just seems mean to me. And that poor cat. Just listen to it without the music, because the music's time of timed well to what's happening, but I think it looks just really cruel.

M. O'BRIEN: You know what they say in showbiz, Ali, never follow an animal.

S. O'BRIEN: And there you are.

ALI VELSHI, CNN CORRESPONDENT: You know what's going to kill you, when you actually see my fantastic video here. It's by design, though. If you take a look at this. 8.25 percent is the number to think about. That's the number that's stayed the same. It's the prime rate. 8.25 percent is the rate that a bank gives its best customers and it's the rate that your adjustable loans are tied to or your consumer loans or some of your home equity loans, some mortgages, auto loans, credit cards, things like that.

It sits three percentage points higher than the Fed rate, which is 5.25. The Fed did not change those rates at their meeting. The first meeting of the year yesterday. That's because they said that the economy is doing OK and inflation tends to be under control.

Well, the markets like that. They also liked the fact that President Bush gave a speech on the economy yesterday morning. And they also liked the surprise visit by President Bush to the floor of the New York Stock Exchange.

The Dow was up almost 100 points. The S&P 500 up about nine points to 1,438, even though oil prices were higher. Oil was up yet again yesterday to over $58 a barrel.

The story to watch today, the auto makers. The Detroit auto makers are going to be reporting their auto sales from January and pretty much everybody expects those to be lower.

And, Soledad, we also have been following that U.S. Airways bid for Delta. That died yesterday. Delta said finally, no. U.S. Air said, fine, offer's off the table.

M. O'BRIEN: Really? That's it?

VELSHI: It's done.

S. O'BRIEN: It's done.

M. O'BRIEN: OK.

S. O'BRIEN: All right. We'll see what happens next.

Thank you, Ali.

VELSHI: OK.

S. O'BRIEN: Top stories of the morning are coming up next.

We're going to check in on that ice storm in the southeast.

Plus, the latest on two arrests overnight from that light board bomb scare in Boston.

That's straight ahead on AMERICAN MORNING. The most news in the morning is right here on CNN.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

S. O'BRIEN: Panic and payback. A publicity stunt gone wrong infuriates people in Boston. Two men are now under arrest and we've got some videotape of them planting those light boards that were mistaken for bombs.

M. O'BRIEN: Travel nightmare. Snow in the Plains, ice in the East Coast. Hundreds of flights canceled today.

S. O'BRIEN: And mother Mary is speaking out. Vice President Dick Cheney's daughter talks about her controversial pregnancy on this AMERICAN MORNING.

Welcome back, everybody. It's Thursday, February 1st.

I'm Soledad O'Brien.

M. O'BRIEN: And I'm Miles O'Brien.

Thanks for being with us.

S. O'BRIEN: Here's what's happening this morning.

(NEWSBREAK)

M. O'BRIEN: An icy winter wallop is aiming for the Southeast this morning, but you don't have to live there to feel its effects. Take a look at the radar picture. Winter storm warnings covering the south like kudzu. If you live in Georgia, Tennessee and the Carolinas, look out, and don't rush to work until you know the score.

(WEATHER REPORT)

S. O'BRIEN: In Boston, two men are under arrest. The mayor and the governor and a lot of other people are just furious over a marketing campaign that went very, very wrong. Here's some videotape that was on one of the suspect's Web sites. His name is Peter Berdovsky.

And you can see in this video he and his partner putting up these light boards which caused so much havoc on Wednesday in the city of Boston. In fact, they've been up in 10 cities over the last couple of weeks.

A commuter rail passenger first noticed it though in Boston on Wednesday morning, called the cops. Police found it, blew it up.

Security officials said it actually looked like an IED, an improvised explosive device, got a circuit board that lights up. And you can see it sort of is a lit up character, appears to be flashing a middle finger.

It kept police on the run all day. They had to respond to reports of these suspicious packages in nine locations in and around Boston, including the Boston University Bridge, the Longfellow Bridge.

Police actually closed the Charles River to boat traffic. The car traffic, as you can see in some of the videotape we have, it was just absolutely a mess.

So what were these devices? It turns out, a marketing campaign that went horribly awry. They were promoting a cartoon that airs on Adult Swim. It's part of Turner Broadcasting's cartoon network.

Around 5:00 last night police say Turner Broadcasting sent in a fax to city hall explaining just what these devices were. In a separate statement, Turner Broadcasting said this, too -- "We apologize to the citizens of Boston that part of a marketing campaign was mistaken for a public danger. We appreciate the gravity of the situation, and like any responsible company would, we're putting all necessary resources toward understanding the facts surrounding it as quickly as possible."

Last night the Cartoon Network ran its own apology during commercial breaks. Not enough, though, for Boston's mayor, Thomas Menino.

Here's what he had to say.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MAYOR THOMAS MENINO, BOSTON: It's all about corporate greed. It's all about Turner thinking they're powerful, they can do anything they want in the media. And that's wrong.

I agree with the attorney general, we could use all the tools we have to make sure that not the guy who we arrested today pays, but also the people in the boardroom have some obligation also in this issue.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

S. O'BRIEN: Under arrest. Peter Berdovsky and Sean Stevens. They were arrested last night. They face charges of placing a hoax device in a way that incites panic, which is a felony.

We haven't heard yet if they're employees of Interference Inc., which is the company that was hired, the third party that was hired to do the marketing campaign. We're going to learn a little bit more about this this morning.

We should mention, Turner Broadcasting is also the parent company of CNN, and Mayor Menino estimates that the scare may have cost the city $500,000.

M. O'BRIEN: Somebody's going to have to write a check, I think.

S. O'BRIEN: Oh, yes. Someone's going to pay.

M. O'BRIEN: All right. In Great Britain this morning, some pointed questions aimed at police who staged that big raid yesterday in Birmingham. Nine were arrested, accused of plotting to kidnap and then behead a British Muslim soldier. But the tightly-knit Muslim community there is not buying it.

CNN International security Correspondent Paula Newton live in Birmingham with more.

Paula, what's the latest?

PAULA NEWTON, CNN INTERNATIONAL SECURITY CORRESPONDENT: And good morning, Miles.

You know, the police are still at it. Behind me they continue to search 12 properties, and they are going in with lots of equipment, trying to look for more evidence.

In terms of the community reaction you were talking about, it remains the same. They are quite skeptical. I just want to explain the difference here in Britain.

These people were arrested and they're being questioned. The police actually have 28 days to either charge them or release them.

People here on the street have told me time and again they want to wait to see the charges and if they're charged. They say they've seen it happen before, people arrested, taken into custody, and then released. The community here really has a hard time trusting the authorities, but having said that, our sources say that that's not the case this time, that these people were under surveillance for several months.

Overnight, Miles, a couple of developments. One thing is CNN was able to confirm that the person, the intended British Muslim soldier who was the target was, in fact, under police custody.

What has emerged since then -- and we don't know, we're not able to confirm this -- is whether or not there were some people on some type of a hit list. Some people are suggesting as many as 25. We cannot confirm that at all.

Another development is that they're trying to look now for evidence on whether or not this was in any way tied to al Qaeda. We again cannot get any information on that so far.

That's what this kind of evidence really is what they're looking for. They're trying to see exactly what kind of strings were behind this kind of alleged plot, if any -- Miles.

M. O'BRIEN: Paula Newton in Birmingham.

Thank you -- Soledad.

S. O'BRIEN: Vice President Dick Cheney's daughter Mary is talking for the first time about her decision to have a baby. Cheney's pregnant, she's due in the spring. She and her partner of 15 years, Heather Poe, are going to raise the child together.

She told a panel at New York's Barnard College, "When Heather and I decided to have a baby, I knew it wasn't going to be the most popular decision. This is a baby. It's a blessing from God. It's not a political statement. It's not a prop to be used in a debate, on either side of a political issue. It is my child."

Mary Cheney also addressed her father's interview last week with CNN's Wolf Blitzer. She agreed with her father, that a question about conservatives who have been criticizing her pregnancy had crossed the line.

Coming up this morning, much more on that nasty ice storm that's hitting the Southeast today. Severe weather expert Chad Myers is going to tell us just how bad it can get.

And we'll tell you why France's tough new anti-smoking law has some folks up in arms.

You're watching AMERICAN MORNING. The most news is right here in the morning on CNN.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

S. O'BRIEN: Here's a look now at stories that CNN correspondents around the world are covering today.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: South African's David Rattray became famous around the world for his passionate portrayal of Zulu history. He was a close friend of Prince Charles, who would sit entranced listening to his storytelling. Rattray made South Africans, whatever their color, proud of their past.

At a funeral here in KwaZulu-Natal, the friends and family who mourn him are reminded that violent crime is a daily reality in South Africa. Last year, more than 18,000 people were murdered in a population of 45 million. That makes about 50 funerals like this one a day, most of them ordinary South Africans who won't be remembered in this kind of honor, just be remembered as a crime statistic.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

MATTHEW CHANCE, CNN SR. INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: I'm Matthew Chance in Moscow.

Hundreds of journalists gathering in the Kremlin for one of the rare opportunities allowed to reporters to pose direct questions to the Russian president, Vladimir Putin. There's certainly plenty to discuss, not least the ongoing investigations into the poisoning in London last year of former security agent from Russia, Alexander Litvinenko and the killing of the prominent Russian journalist Anna Politkovskaya. Both were strong critics of the Kremlin. The Kremlin's energy policy also likely to be brought up. Its recent dispute with the neighboring country of Belarus briefly cut off supplies of oil to Western Europe, raising Western concerns about Russia's reliability as an energy partner.

What many people will be listening to, though, is any hints from Vladimir Putin himself about what plans he has for his future as his second and supposedly final term as Russian president comes to an end.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

JIM BITTERMAN, CNN SR. INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: I'm Jim Bittermann in France, where millions of French, or at least those who smoke, are being driven out of their offices by a new law that forbids lighting up in public places. The newspaper "Le Monde," in a front- page requiem to the cigarette, began by saying, "The World is Collapsing."

(END VIDEOTAPE)

S. O'BRIEN: For more on these or any of our top stories, log on to our Web site at CNN.com.

M. O'BRIEN: It's about quarter of the hour. Chad Myers at the CNN weather center with the traveler's forecast.

(WEATHER REPORT)

M. O'BRIEN: Coming up, a way to help you puff away your pain.

Plus, an alarming new study on kids and soccer injuries. A look at who is most at risk ahead.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

M. O'BRIEN: The most news in the morning is right here on CNN. Stories we're watching for you this morning.

(NEWSBREAK)

M. O'BRIEN: All right. I'll riddle you this: When are triple your earnings not enough.

S. O'BRIEN: When you're Google.

M. O'BRIEN: When you are Google. That is the correct answer.

Coming up, Ali Velshi will explain how Google's normally you would say fantastic earnings just don't make the street happy. We'll have that and more.

And Iran is tough-talking again. Its president may actually play into U.S. hands pretty well. In some sense, it could be a dream come true. You're watching AMERICAN MORNING. The most news in morning right here on CNN.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

M. O'BRIEN: Ali Velshi is here with word on two brand names you know so well, Google and Starbucks.

About five minutes before the hour, and it's time for business.

Hello, Ali.

ALI VELSHI, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Good morning.

You know, I use Google every single day. Starbucks I really have tried to avoid just because I praise these folks for the way they run a business, but I can't shell out that kind of money for a cup of coffee. But they're sprouting out all over the place. I'll tell you about Starbucks in a second.

Google came out with its earnings for the last three months of 2006. We're in the middle of earnings season. This company made more than $1 billion in that quarter. That's more than triple what they did a year earlier.

The stock, though, was a little bit down on that news because Google investors are spoiled. They're, you know, used to getting those kind of results, so the stock closed at a mere $501 and change yesterday. The high on that stock is about $513 and change.

Starbucks isn't that stratospheric in terms of the stock, but it is a very successful company. Its earnings and sales were higher, crediting those new breakfast and lunch items.

I don't patronize Starbucks, but I go in and check out how they run their business. Those things don't do it for me, but, boy, people love it. There's always a lineup, and the thing that fascinates me the most about Starbucks is how they've convinced everybody to not invest or earn interest on their own money but to give it to Starbucks on those little cards.

Twenty million of those little Starbucks cards worth almost $300 million were activated in the last three months of 2006. Maybe some people were giving them to others as gifts.

Starbucks is going to add 700 new stores in the next three months. So there's one near you -- Soledad.

S. O'BRIEN: Only 700?

VELSHI: Only 700, but five on this block.

S. O'BRIEN: It must be a slow month, huh, for Starbucks?

VELSHI: Yes.

S. O'BRIEN: All right, Ali. Thanks.

Got a story to tell you. It's actually an incredibly disturbing story. It comes to us from "The Kansas City Star."

It's called this: "Disturbing Video of KC Officers' Treatment of Pregnant Woman." It happened almost a year ago. We're just getting this videotape now. It was just released by the police.

The woman inside the car is named Sophia Salva (ph), and she's pulled over for a number of violations. She had warrants for mistreating a child and trespassing and driving with a suspended license. Apparently, she had a fake temporary tag on her car.

So she's pulled over. There are two officers. One's male, one's female.

She gets out and says, "Listen, I'm pregnant. I'm pregnant. And I am bleeding. I need medical help."

Here's what happens.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: She says she's pregnant.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I'm three months pregnant and I'm bleeding.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Don't cause an attitude with me.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I'm not.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It's called a menstrual cycle.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Can I go to the hospital?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You can go to the hospital when we're done with you.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

S. O'BRIEN: And that's pretty much what happened. At one point the cop said, "Well, you're bleeding, how is that my problem?" That was the answer.

Anyway, the cops arrested her. After she was released the next morning, she was brought to the hospital and she gave birth to a premature baby who died after one minute. She's now suing the Kansas City Police Department and the officers who were involved as well.

M. O'BRIEN: Were the officers ever suspended in any way? Was there ever any...

S. O'BRIEN: I don't know the details.

M. O'BRIEN: Yes.

S. O'BRIEN: I only know to hear that audiotape where they really just dismiss what she's saying -- I mean...

M. O'BRIEN: Wow.

S. O'BRIEN: A very tough story.

M. O'BRIEN: We'll keep you posted on that one.

We're coming up at the top of the hour. Chad Myers has a busy morning on his hands.

(WEATHER REPORT)

S. O'BRIEN: Publicity stunt panic. Two arrests overnight in Boston after harmless light boards planted across the city sparked bomb scares and outrage, too.

M. O'BRIEN: Storm front. Snow in the Plains, ice expected along the East Coast. Hundreds of flights already canceled.

S. O'BRIEN: And Politics and parenthood. Vice President Dick Cheney's daughter Mary talks about her pregnancy and some of the uproar it sparked.

All ahead on this AMERICAN MORNING.

Good morning. Welcome, everybody. It's Thursday, February 1st.

I'm Soledad O'Brien.

M. O'BRIEN: And I'm Miles O'Brien.

Thanks for being with us.

An icy winter wallop aiming for the Southeast this morning, but you don't have to live there to feel the effects.

Here's the radar picture.

Winter storm warnings covering the South like kudzu. Flights canceled in Atlanta. Expect ripple effects everywhere from that. If you're flying today, call or log in first.

If you live in Georgia, Tennessee and the Carolinas, you better look out.

CNN's Reynolds Wolf live from Charlotte, where it's coming down a little bit harder -- Reynolds.

REYNOLDS WOLF, CNN METEOROLOGIST: That's right, it is coming down as we speak. We're expecting anywhere from one to three inches of snowfall here in the Charlotte metropolitan area, but not just in Charlotte. In fact, over to the triad we could be dealing with that, just through the foothills and the Piedmont.

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

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