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AMERICAN MORNING

Autopsy to be Performed on Anna Nicole Smith; Iraq Intel Report; Libby Defense: Russert Grilled on CIA Leak

Aired February 9, 2007 - 07:59   ET

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


SOLEDAD O'BRIEN, CNN ANCHOR: New this morning, there's violence flaring in Jerusalem. Muslim protesters are clashing with Israeli police.
We've got the latest pictures for you.

MILES O'BRIEN, CNN ANCHOR: Sudden death. New details about what may have killed Anna Nicole Smith possible today. What now though for her fortune and her 5-month-old daughter?

S. O'BRIEN: Plus, special assignment, "Children of the Storm." Spike Lee helps us out as we ask kids in New Orleans to show us their lives through their own eyes on this AMERICAN MORNING.

M. O'BRIEN: Good morning to you, Friday, February 9th.

I'm Miles O'Brien.

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

Thanks for being with us.

An autopsy's going to be performed on the body of Anna Nicole Smith. It's expected some time between 9:00 and 9:30 a.m. Eastern Time. And medical examiners are hoping they're going to be able to figure out just what killed the former "Playboy" playmate.

At 11:30 a.m. Eastern Time, an emergency paternity hearing is scheduled in Los Angeles. Now, that's to determine just who's the father of Smith's 5-month-old baby girl. Police tell CNN that the hotel room where Anna Nicole Smith was found has been cleared this morning.

Smith's death, like her life, was unexpected and the subject, of course, of much speculation and much fascination.

CNN's Susan Candiotti in Broward County, Florida, just outside the coroner's office this morning.

Hey, Susan. Good morning.

SUSAN CANDIOTTI, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Good morning, Soledad.

Right, that autopsy is scheduled to begin in about an hour or so, to be performed by the chief medical examiner here. He said through his spokesperson that they do expect some results to come out today and he will come out and talk with reporters at some point. We don't yet know precisely when.

Now, if there is a natural cause of death, we could learn some results fairly quickly. If not, of course toxicology reports could take weeks to complete -- Soledad.

S. O'BRIEN: Then you have this paternity case going on at the same time, because, of course, there is this whole battle over the baby and over potentially a lot of money.

What's happening there?

CANDIOTTI: Sure, who's the father? That's the question. And Anna Nicole's ex-boyfriend, Larry Birkhead, claims that he is. Howard K. Stern, smith's partner, says, no, I am.

A paternity suit has been filed. You have this emergency hearing in Los Angeles later today, where they will try to figure out not only who is the father, but potentially a custody battle. You know, it's been going on already. That will be continuing in court this day, no doubt.

S. O'BRIEN: Still complicated, even with her death.

Susan Candiotti in Broward County, Florida, for us this morning.

Thanks, Susan -- Miles.

M. O'BRIEN: Last night, Anna Nicole's sister, Donna Hogan, called in to Larry King.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

LARRY KING, HOST, "LARRY KING LIVE": How, Donna, did you get the news today?

DONNA HOGAN, ANNA NICOLE SMITH'S SISTER: Actually, I was tracked down by the media, of course, and told. So that was really bad.

KING: Can you say you were totally shocked?

HOGAN: Yes and no. I mean, yes -- it's still shocking. It still has not hit me that this is really happening. But not really shocked because of her lifestyle and everything.

I mean, you know, I mean, it's just something that you don't wish to happen. But you know, in the back of your mind, you're knowing some day it might.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

M. O'BRIEN: Earlier on AMERICAN MORNING, we talked to "Entertainment Tonight's" Mark Steines, the last reporter to interview Anna Nicole Smith. He described how distraught she was after her 20- year-old son Daniel died in September. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MARK STEINES, "ENTERTAINMENT TONIGHT": We have found out that after the death of Daniel, at some point Anna did jump in her pool, attempt suicide at that point, and was found by Howard face down in the pool. Howard screamed for help, her bodyguard Moe (ph) came out, who is a paramedic, and took her from the pool, administered CPR, and saved her life at that point.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

M. O'BRIEN: Still a lot of questions about how Anna Nicole Smith died and what happens now. You can follow it all, of course, CNN.com -- Soledad.

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

(NEWSBREAK)

M. O'BRIEN: Another damning report about the intelligence used by the Bush administration to justify the invasion of Iraq. The report comes from a Pentagon watchdog agency and it points the finger at one of the key architects of the war.

For more details, we go to CNN's Barbara Starr, live from the Pentagon -- Barbara.

BARBARA STARR, CNN PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT: Well, Miles, hard to believe that we're almost at the fourth-year anniversary of the war in Iraq, and still discussion about the faulty intelligence leading up to the war. About an hour and a half from now, the Senate Armed Services Committee will release a report that will be very damning, front and center.

A man named Douglas Feith, he was the undersecretary of policy in the run-up to the war here in the Pentagon, and he ran intelligence operation in this building that was very controversial, especially on Capitol Hill. So a report is now being issued by the Senate looking at -- it's an IG report, actually, from the Pentagon. And it sayings Mr. Feith's office "... developed, produced and then disseminated alternative intelligence assessments on the Iraq and al Qaeda relationship, which included some conclusions that were inconsistent with the consensus of the intelligence community."

What does it add up to? Faulty intelligence.

M. O'BRIEN: Are you OK, Barbara?

STARR: Oh, sorry, frog in my throat.

M. O'BRIEN: All right. All right. We're going to press on, if you're OK.

It's critical of Doug Feith. The question is, does he become here a bit of a scapegoat in the absence of Donald Rumsfeld, the man at the top of the Pentagon during all this time? STARR: Yes, absolutely. This is really a reflection, I would say, of the very poor relationship that they had on Capitol Hill. But the report is going to conclude that things have gotten better since the intelligence reorganization.

M. O'BRIEN: All right, Barbara. We're going to give you a break. We'll have you back a little later.

Thank you.

Barbara Starr at the Pentagon.

Some House Democrats want to close the prison at Guantanamo Bay. Pennsylvania's John Murtha, Jim Moran of Virginia say the prison is counterproductive to U.S. efforts to win overseas support for the war on terror. Murtha would like to -- who is a strong critic of the war, would like to add closing of the prison to some legislation. It now holds about 400 people there -- Soledad.

S. O'BRIEN: All right. Let's turn to the CIA leak trial now.

The defense was taking aim at NBC newsman Tim Russert. Russert took the stand -- oh, there's Nancy Pelosi. Well, let's update that story, too, because we were telling you this as well yesterday.

You know there's a debate over the government plane that she rides on. Now it turns out that the House sergeant-at-arms, whose name is Bill Livingood, says, no, it was his decision to request a larger plane for Nancy Pelosi's use. And that comment, of course, derails the House Republicans' arguments that Pelosi was pushing for the plane.

Listen.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

REP. NANCY PELOSI (D-CA), HOUSE SPEAKER: I never asked for a larger plane. This is a myth that they're talking about on the floor. They have nothing to say to the American people about the war, about the economy, about global warming and the rest. So they have this game they're playing.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

S. O'BRIEN: It's a nice plane, I've got to tell you. There it is right there. Regardless of who asked for it, it's a nice plane. It's a military version.

Let's go back to the plane, shall we?

The 757 has got a bed, a private bed, an entertainment center, and a crew of 16 for that plane.

The CIA leak trial now, which is what I was telling you about just a moment ago. It was Tim Russert who is on the stand this time at the defense's request. Libby's attorneys quickly used techniques, kind of like the ones Russert uses when he's questioning his guests on "Meet the Press."

AMERICAN MORNING'S Bob Franken tells us how it all turned out. He's in Washington this morning.

Kind of turning the tables there, Bob. Good morning.

BOB FRANKEN, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, yes, but if he's a half glass -- a half full glass kind of guy, then Russert's going to realize he got an awful lot of P.R. out of this. If he's a half empty guy, it's because, well, he got a taste of his own medicine.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

TIM RUSSERT, HOST, "MEET THE PRESS": I have to go to work.

FRANKEN (voice over): After several hours of relentless questioning, Tim Russert was finally able to leave the stand after a defense attorney had charged Russert was elated at the prospect of an indictment for Scooter Libby. He pointed to his appearance just hours before the indictment on the Don Imus program.

RUSSERT: I mean, it was like Christmas Eve here last night, you know? Santa Claus is coming tomorrow. Surprises. What's going to be under the tree?

FRANKEN: Tim Russert said he was merely excited about a major news story. Defense attorneys were trying to undermine his credibility.

The day before, Russert had contradicted Scooter Libby's sworn testimony that Russert had informed Libby about Valerie Plame's work as a CIA operative. Plame is the wife of Joseph Wilson, who had harshly criticized Bush administration contentions about Iraq's weapons program. Shortly thereafter, her secret cover was blown in press reports.

Libby resigned as Vice President Cheney's chief of staff after he was indicted in October 2005 on five charges of illegally lying during an investigation into the leaks.

Russert's testimony throughout cross-examination was riddled with "I don't recall"(s), "I don't remember"(s), a point lawyers said the defense needed to emphasize to make the case that Libby was to busy, too distracted to remember what he knew and what he told to whom.

At day's end, as Russert said on NBC's "Nightly News," it was time for his table to unturn.

RUSSERT: As someone who makes his living by asking questions on "Meet the Press," being on the receiving end, in a box in a courtroom, a witness box in a courtroom, is a much different experience.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

FRANKEN: Well, now Russert has an idea of what his guests feel like on "Meet the Press," except, Soledad, he had to tell the truth.

S. O'BRIEN: Are you insinuating that some of those politicians don't always tell the truth?

FRANKEN: No, no, no.

S. O'BRIEN: Bob Franken, I am shocked.

FRANKEN: Shocked.

S. O'BRIEN: Thanks, Bob. Shocked.

Still to come on this AMERICAN MORNING, a state of emergency to tell you about in the Northeast, as it snows more and more. Rob Marciano's live for us in upstate New York this morning.

ROB MARCIANO, CNN METEOROLOGIST: We are standing right here on the frozen shores of Lake Ontario. Not a whole lot of snow right now, with the exception of all this blowing snow.

A live report is coming up.

CANDY CROWLEY, CNN SR. POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: I'm Candy Crowley in Springfield, Illinois. Senator Barack Obama announces his presidential campaign here tomorrow. More on that coming up -- Soledad.

S. O'BRIEN: And of course you want to stay with us for the AMERICAN MORNING guide to the Grammy's. We'll tell you who to watch -- oh, Mary J., I hope she wins. I love her.

That's straight ahead. Stay with us.

AMERICAN MORNING is back in just a moment.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

M. O'BRIEN: The most news in the morning right here on CNN.

Two of the stories we're following for you right now.

Anna Nicole Smith's autopsy set to begin next hour. Smith died yesterday after her personal nurse found her passed out in her hotel room in Florida.

And America's new top commander in Iraq is in Baghdad this morning. General David Petraeus officially takes charge this weekend.

In upstate New York this morning, they're digging out from that, an epic snowstorm. Seven feet on the ground already, another two feet expected.

CNN's Rob Marciano is in Oswego. That's 40 miles northwest of Syracuse. He's on the shores of Lake Ontario on thin ice this morning.

Hello, Rob.

MARCIANO: Hi, Miles.

Well, there's probably some spots that are thin, so I'm not going to venture out too much. The locals kind of giving me the evil eye. We're about 10 feet from shore, so I think we're safe, but this is just an incredible sight.

First of all, the winds have picked up incredibly in the last half hour. Look how they're just whipping off the lake, taking the snow and ice with it. Blowing snow is probably going to be a bigger issue today because the lake-effect snow bands have taken a break for now.

Look over my shoulder as the waves crash in here over Lake Ontario. Over the past couple of weeks they've just frozen and built up mounds of ice and snow. And there's still broken ice being carried by the waves and the swells, swells easily of 10 or 15 feet out there. It looks more like an angry Atlantic than a Lake Ontario.

This lake at times can be over 200 feet deep. Actually, the average is 280 feet deep, so it doesn't freeze over the winter, unlike Lake Erie, which does. And that's why they're getting so much snow here, on top of the fact that it's been unusually mild this year.

So those water temperatures are a little bit above normal. So when those west winds pick up that snow, dumps it on the eastern side of the lake, that's why we're seeing this snow pile up.

Officially here in Oswego, we've seen five feet. Seven feet up around the Tug Hill Plateau, where elevation is more of a factor. Even though we're getting a break today, lake-effect snow warnings are in effect through Monday morning for another potential of one, two, maybe even more feet than that, and no real letup in the cold air is expected.

Fifteen degrees right now, 40 mile-an-hour winds. It feels a little more like five or 10 below.

So definitely cold, but it looks like the roads aren't all that bad. They had a chance to catch up on that. But it looks like if we get another foot or two, we're going to start to break some records.

M. O'BRIEN: Well...

MARCIANO: An amazing scene here from the southern shores of Lake Ontario.

Miles, back to you.

M. O'BRIEN: Yes, you look like Amanson (ph) or Scott out there. You know, you might as well plant a flag while you're there.

All right. Rob Marciano on the shores of Lake Ontario, looking like he's above the Arctic Circle.

About quarter past the hour. Chad Myers at the CNN weather center.

(WEATHER REPORT) .

S. O'BRIEN: Senator Barack Obama is planning a big speech tomorrow. We expect that he's going to actually formally announce that he is running for president. Now, he might have the thinnest political resume in what's become a very crowded field, but he certainly can draw a crowd.

Our senior political correspondent, Candy Crowley, live for us in Springfield, Illinois.

Candy, good morning to you.

CROWLEY: Good morning.

S. O'BRIEN: Let's talk about the month, Candy, that has passed since Obama made his original announcement and said that he had another announcement that was going to follow in about a month.

What's happened in that month? Has he been able to leverage the celebrity into really drawing more people to him?

CROWLEY: Well, he certainly still draws great crowds. He was on a college campus in Washington, D.C., and pulled in thousands of kids. So obviously, he still is sort of that star as he has been. But what's -- what we need to do here is see how he translates that into votes and into the polls, because right now in most of the polls, he trails Hillary Clinton.

S. O'BRIEN: Trailing is because of the criticism. That's a tough one, which is he lacks experience.

What's the strategy for fighting something like that? He's only been a senator for two years.

CROWLEY: Well, yes, he's only been on the national scene for two years, but those -- if you take a look at his resume, he certainly has been -- he was a community organizer, for instance, in Chicago. He's been a professor of law at the University of Chicago, Harvard, Columbia. So he has lots of -- everybody describes him as brilliant.

They look at him as a fresh face. So he is going to be selling himself as something different on the national scene. And they think that has resonance right now when the American people are saying we need something different, and they think he fills that niche.

S. O'BRIEN: Now, here you have a guy who is a really credible black candidate, and yet, a lot of people are talking about Hillary Clinton and the black vote. When you look at some of the headlines, they'll say, "So Far Obama Can't Take the Black Vote for Granted," "Obama's Appeals to Black," sort of open question. "Black Leaders Not Sold on Obama."

I mean, that's just three of a handful of these kinds of headlines. How big of a problem is this for him? CROWLEY: It's a problem right now, but those -- people who know him in Chicago say this is ridiculous that people are saying that he can't relate to the black community because he was, again, a community organizer. They say he has focused on a lot of issues that do help minorities.

So they think that with time, he can pull over that group. But if you look at the polls right now, you see that Hillary Clinton does in fact have more support among the black community than Barack Obama. You also find, interestingly, that he pulls most of his support percentage-wise from whites more than he does from blacks. And there was a poll in New Hampshire that showed that Obama was more popular with those who made $75,000 and up than he was with those who make less income.

So right now he is appealing largely to more affluent white voters. But again, his advisers think that will change as people begin to learn more and more about his background.

S. O'BRIEN: And right now we've got a lot of time as the race goes on.

Candy Crowley is our senior political correspondent.

I bet we're going to talk about this again some time, and very soon.

Thanks, Candy.

CROWLEY: I think so.

S. O'BRIEN: And, of course, all the day's political news is available on the CNN.com news ticker. Any time, day or night, just click on cnn.com/ticker.

AMERICAN MORNING is back in just a moment.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

M. O'BRIEN: Columbus Circle, New York City.

Let's say you're in the market for a big flat-panel TV, and you're surfing the Web and you find one for, say, $200. What do you do? A, buy it right away, B, look for something cheaper, or C, hang onto your wallet? The correct answer is, C, of course, hang onto your wallet.

Gerri Willis here with another episode of "Buyer Beware."

Hello, Gerri.

GERRI WILLIS, CNN PERSONAL FINANCE EDITOR: Hello. Good to see you.

Two hundred bucks for a flat-panel big-screen TV, you've got to run in the other direction. M. O'BRIEN: Yes.

WILLIS: And here's why. For the third year in a row, the Better Business Bureau says it got more complaints about consumer electronics scams than anything else. And that means people whoa re shopping online at discount electronics Web sites, they need to watch out.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

WILLIS (voice over): The Better Business Bureau of metro New York named several discount electronics Web sites it says have generated a number of complaints. Just surf the Web and you'll see lots of promises of great deals on digital cameras, computers and other electronics.

But is the deal too good to be true? Often, yes.

SUSAN MCMILLAN, BBB OF METRO NY: They go online and they see these artificially low prices, and they think that they're getting a bargain. But, you know, then they get the merchandise after they've paid for it, and it's either broken, it's not what they expected, and they realize they might have gotten something better at a nationally- known chain.

WILLIS: We talked with one man who found out the hard way. He bought a video camera online to tape his cousin's wedding. When he learned the camera wouldn't arrive on time, he canceled the order. But the online company he bought it from didn't refund all his money. He says it charged him a $722 restocking fee.

ALEX MERMELSTEIN, ALLEGED SCAM VICTIM: I fell victim to low prices. I've learned from this experience that low prices can't make up for quality and name recognition.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

WILLIS: Yes. Amazing, isn't it? I can't believe that poor fellow.

But of course you want to make sure -- it's buyer beware out there, as you were saying, Miles.

M. O'BRIEN: You know, it's amazing to me, we say this time and again, but, you know, people kind of get caught up in the frenzy of a bargain or something. It just happens time and again, doesn't it?

WILLIS: Or something, absolutely. Well, there are a few smart things you can do.

Use a reputable retailer, somebody with a bricks and mortar store. If you have a problem, you can actually go to the store.

Use a credit card when you're shopping online, because then you can dispute the charge if you have a problem.

And, of course, be wary of super, super low prices, because that could be a real ripoff.

I just want to remind everybody, Saturday morning is "OPEN HOUSE." You've got to join us Saturday morning, 9:30 a.m., right here on CNN.

We're going to have Reverend Jesse Jackson on to talk about predatory lenders. We're talking about banks, too, who are raising the bar on mortgages. You'll want to know about that, particularly if you're in the market for refi.

And winter weather home protection.

We're covering it all.

M. O'BRIEN: So frozen pipes and stuff?

WILLIS: Well, yes.

M. O'BRIEN: Have you had them?

WILLIS: Well, my furnace conked out, and I took a lot of the good advice we get on the show and I did not have frozen pipes.

M. O'BRIEN: So I think you can put that on your expense report as research, right? Yes. I think you ought to do that. Try that.

WILLIS: You're watching the money today, right?

M. O'BRIEN: Gerri Willis, "OPEN HOUSE."

Thank you for dropping by.

WILLIS: Thank you.

M. O'BRIEN: Soledad.

S. O'BRIEN: Let's take a look at what's happening this weekend on CNN.

Betty and T.J. are in Atlanta.

Good morning.

BETTY NGUYEN, CNN ANCHOR: Good morning, Soledad.

T.J. HOLMES, CNN ANCHOR: Good morning.

NGUYEN: You know he is one of the most popular Democratic hopefuls for 2008.

HOLMES: Yes, maybe you heard about this guy, Barack Obama. Well, Senator Obama, now, he's scheduled a major campaign announcement for tomorrow morning, and CNN with the best political team on TV, will bring you live coverage when that happens.

NGUYEN: Also, should married couples, get this, be required to have children or face annulment? A group wants to make that a law in Washington State. And so find out why and what it has to do with same-sex marriage.

HOLMES: Plus, what happens when you have Joe Pesci and the Beatles?

(MUSIC)

HOLMES: Well, it just puts you in the mood. We're going to run down...

NGUYEN: Or out of it.

HOLMES: ... run down the worst love songs of all time for Valentine's Day.

NGUYEN: And that one is up there, believe you, me.

All that, plus live reports from around the world. That begins tomorrow at 7:00 Eastern.

So, Soledad, you like the song?

S. O'BRIEN: I've got to tell you...

M. O'BRIEN: I'm sorry, I love that song.

S. O'BRIEN: I like the song. And Joe Pesci is not so bad. I'd say he was better than I thought he would be.

NGUYEN: Really?

S. O'BRIEN: It didn't make me want to run out and call my husband and say, "Hey, baby. How are you doing?"

(CROSSTALK)

M. O'BRIEN: He's not Barry White.

S. O'BRIEN: He's no Barry White. But who is? Not everybody can be Barry White.

NGUYEN: We'll leave you alone. Thanks, Soledad.

S. O'BRIEN: It wasn't horrible -- kind of.

All right. Let's talk about another Super Bowl ad that's under fire for being insensitive.

Twenty-eight minutes past the hour and Stephanie's "Minding Your Business."

Good morning.

STEPHANIE ELAM, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Good morning. It makes you wonder, if you pay $2.6 million for an ad during the Super Bowl and more people are upset after it runs, is that better for the company overall? So we have already heard one commercial that had an issue. But now we've got a new one.

Let's talk a little about the GM ad. And you may remember this one.

It seemed so sad when you were watching it. It was all going along with the tune of "All By Myself," and it showed a robot that was actually dreaming about killing himself if he just didn't live up to GM standards. And then he wakes up and he keeps on going with his job.

Well, a suicide prevention group had a problem with the overall commercial, saying it might give people the idea that killing themselves is a good idea if you have problems.

At this point, GM says that they're not going to get rid of the ad, but it does make you wonder if they're thinking all this hoopla gets more people thinking about GM? Who knows.

Let's move on and take a look, though, at the other big topic of this week when it came to Super Bowl ads, and that was definitely Snickers. Obviously, that ad did get pulled after some groups said that overall, this was just a homophobic commercial when it showed two men lip-locking over their need to have a Snickers.

So, obviously, when you look at these kind of stories, it makes you wonder, though, if you get all of this attention afterwards, is it really worth it for the company? Maybe it does more.

M. O'BRIEN: I think so.

ELAM: Yes.

S. O'BRIEN: Maybe. I don't know.

ELAM: It gets people talking about it.

S. O'BRIEN: Well...

M. O'BRIEN: Leverage.

S. O'BRIEN: ... one of those is funny, but then the one where they're like beating each other, not so funny.

ELAM: Not so funny. But it does get people talking, and that's what the companies people want.

S. O'BRIEN: But maybe in a negative way. Doesn't make you want to run out and have a Snickers.

All right, Stephanie, thanks.

M. O'BRIEN: We've to work on our spots. A little more buzz about them would be good.

Top stories of the morning all coming up next. Violent protests in Jerusalem right now. A live report from the old city where the conflict is heating up on a disputed piece of real estate.

Also ahead, just when they thought it was out, it kicks back up. We told you just a little while ago that that chemical fire was out in Kansas City. Well, maybe not.

Plus, a special assignment: Children of the storm. Spike Lee and her sidekick Gumbo helping kids in New Orleans to help show us their lives through their own eyes.

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

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

M. O'BRIEN: Developing story -- violence in Jerusalem. Muslim protesters clashing with Israeli police. New pictures and a live report, straight ahead.

S. O'BRIEN: Plus, special assignment: children of the storm. Spike Lee is giving us a hand ads we asked children in New Orleans to show us life through their eyes. They're ready to go. They've got their cameras in hand. They're live from Jackson Square on this AMERICAN MORNING.

Hi! They're waving to us; we're waving back to them.

Good morning, everybody. Friday, February 9th. I'm Soledad O'Brien.

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

A developing story in Jerusalem this hour. Muslim protesters clashing with Israeli police inside the walls of the Old City. It's happening on one of the most disputed pieces of real estate in the Middle East. The Al Aqsa Mosque is the third holiest site in all of Islam. It is also holy land for Jews, the Temple Mount, as they call it. A tense place, so tense even some renovations on a walkway can insight violence, as we're seeing unfold today.

CNN's Ben Wedeman is here with more of an explanation -- Ben.

BEN WEDEMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, Miles.

In fact, we're hearing more blasts coming from the Old City. You can probably hear it right now. This after a period of relative calm, a few hours where there's very little was going on. In fact, I think we'll have the cameras zoom into the area, which is just to the north of the Aqsa compound. We saw earlier today, of course, severe clashes breaking out as Israeli forces entered the compound itself, firing stun grenades and tear gas. And earlier, we heard some rubber bullets being fired. Now, all of this is being caused, as you said, by what might in other places seem insignificant, the rebuilding of a dirt and stone ramp leading up to the sanctuary, to what Muslims call Al Hara Sharif (ph), the noble sanctuary; known to Jews as the Temple Mount. And since then, we've had repeated outbreaks of fighting going on.

According to the Israeli police, 15 of their men have been wounded in these clashes, 17 Palestinians wounded, in addition to 17 others who have been arrested by the Israelis. So as you may be able to hear -- and we can actually see some of the flashes -- there are still clashes ongoing in the Old City -- Miles.

M. O'BRIEN: Ben Wedeman in Jerusalem, thank you.

(NEWSBREAK)

S. O'BRIEN: A look now, Miles, at a special project we have for you. It's called Children of the Storm. I was in New Orleans the other day, handing out cameras to 11 students from all points across the city. And over the next couple of months, they're going to be our eyes and ears on the ground, showing us how the city is changing, or in some cases, how the city's not changing. These young people, who really are the future of New Orleans, are going to be giving us a firsthand account of life there right now. And we started rolling tape with the help of director Spike Lee.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

SPIKE LEE, FILMMAKER: Seven days a week there should not be a day that goes by where you're not filming. Can everybody make that promise?

CROWD: Promise.

S. O'BRIEN: The idea is very simple.

LEE: You've each been given a camera. And we want you to record your life, what you're doing, what's in and around you.

S. O'BRIEN: Famed director Spike Lee and I traveled to New Orleans.

LEE: Amanda.

S. O'BRIEN: Handing out cameras to 11 Katrina survivors. We asked them to tape their experiences growing up in the city. They'll record through the second anniversary of the storm this August. Our photographer, David Albritton, gave them a 101 before they started taping.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Push that, and lightly open the door, and the tape pops out.

S. O'BRIEN: But we're getting ahead of ourselves.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: That is the story, though. S. O'BRIEN: First, there was a discussion about life in New Orleans now.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I commute every day.

LEE: Every day?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: And hour and 20 minutes, yes, sir.

LEE: Who are you living with now again?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: A close friend of mine. And it's really hard. At times you feel like I'm 16 and I'm on my own.

S. O'BRIEN: The students already know what they want to show the world.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What I want to do is make it an inspiration to kind of inspire other young people, and show them, you know, even though that big tragedy happened, you still can strive through, even through it's a big, big struggle.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I want to show the nation that it's not anything like it used to be, and it probably never will be.

S. O'BRIEN (on camera): Do you feel a little bit forgotten?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I feel like we're the lost city. And really, to me, New Orleans feels like an island to the United States. We're pretty much like Hawaii now. It's like they don't really care.

S. O'BRIEN (voice-over): As the talk winds down, Spike Lee heads out and the students start to learn their craft.

LEE: So we're expecting to get some great footage. So you're doing this for the world. Remember, it's not just for yourself. So you've got to come correct. You want to go out half-half, (INAUDIBLE) right?

S. O'BRIEN: So Dave is going to teach you how to use your cameras.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: So everybody turn their camera on and point it toward me and hit record. You'll see the little red dot. That means you're recording. Everybody see a red dot? Just say hello and give your name on the camera. Everybody do it.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Hello.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: My name is Britney.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: My name is Josh.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Hit the button again and stop.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: How are you? S. O'BRIEN: You can call me whatever you want.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Gumbo.

S. O'BRIEN: I like that. Well, gumbo expects to see some good work.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Of course. This is a beautiful shot of her.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

S. O'BRIEN: That was Brandon Franklin right there, and there he is right there. He's along with the other students who are taking part in the project with us in New Orleans.

Hey, everybody. Good morning, again.

Let me first and foremost introduce you to our audience. You have in the front court there, Arianna Cassar (ph). She's in 11 grade, and Amanda Hill in 12th grade, and Brandon Franklin and Sophie Brudro. She's our youngest. She's in seventh grade. And Britney Ruiz in tenth grade.

And in the back row there, you've got Shantia Renault (ph), 10th grader, Cornell Carney in 11th grade, Darrell Alexander. He's a ninth grader. and Deshawn Dabney (ph), grade 10. We're missing two students. They couldn't make it to our live shot this morning. But we're expecting fine work from them as well.

Now, Brandon, I've asked you to be our spokesperson. In a nutshell, what would you like to show the world over the next several months that you get to tell your story?

BRANDON FRANKLIN, O. PERRY WALKER HIGH SCHOOL: Well, actually what I'd like to show them is the change and the good and the bad after Katrina, the good effects and the bad effects. And how you can come over your bad effects and how you can maintain them good effects.

S. O'BRIEN: What do you think, Brandon, is the biggest misconception that people who do not live in New Orleans have about New Orleans?

FRANKLIN: The big misconception about New Orleans I feel everyone has that does not stay here, on a day-to-day basis, they think something that they don't know, you know. As far as us young people, think all of us are out here doing wrong and things like that of that nature, and that is just not right. You know, that's something they discriminate, I should say.

S. O'BRIEN: You mean you should say you're getting blamed for a lot of the crime problems. We know there are some big crime problems in New Orleans.

FRANKLIN: Exactly. That's the No. 1 thing we're dealing with right now, besides the recovery of the Katrina. S. O'BRIEN: You know I asked you this when we met the other day. Are you feeling hopeful still? You've had your camera about a week now, been able to run around the city. I know Spike said shoot, shoot, shoot and shoot more, and don't forget to plug in your cameras in at night.

FRANKLIN: Oh yes.

S. O'BRIEN: What have you discovered in this short week?

FRANKLIN: Well, actually, what i've discovered in this short week is a lot of different thoughts from other people is not so much the same as mine. And actually, you know, I attend school in Algiers, and Algiers really didn't get affected by Katrina, so a lot of their lives haven't really been affected. So I realize I have to reach different parts of New Orleans to actually get the stories that I'm looking for.

S. O'BRIEN: Well, we'd like to hear that, because that means we get to hear that from everybody, all 11 of our students, hearing different stories.

FRANKLIN: Exactly.

S. O'BRIEN: Because not everybody was affected in the same way. Brandon Franklin and all of our students, you guys, I appreciate you getting up nice and early and helping us out. Going to be our eyes and ears over the next many months in the city of New Orleans.

Thanks, guys. Appreciate it.

If you have a question that you'd like to have the students consider, think about, maybe as they're going out to shoot, feel free to e-mail us. Go right to CNN.com/am. And send some thoughts and ideas. I know that they'd love to hear from you.

Also if you're interested in seeing some of our videotapes that we didn't have on the air today, go right to Pipeline, CNN.com/pipeline. We'd love to have you look at all the work we did with Spike Lee. And we're going to keep posting our videotape there as we get it in from our students every month.

M. O'BRIEN: You go, gumbo!

S. O'BRIEN: That's a cute nickname. Finally, I'm 41 years old and I have a cute nickname! A bad time.

M. O'BRIEN: Yes, CB handle. That's like '70s. Your call sign, Gumbo.

All right, still to come on AMERICAN MORNING -- a plan to save lives. New rules just announced in West Virginia. Hopefully, it will prevent another mining tragedy like the one that killed 12 people at the Sago Mine a little more than a year ago.

Also, James Blunt is on the list, the front-runners and favorites for this weekend's Grammy Awards.

Plus, we'll have predictions for the winner's circle. So take some notes. And you're watching AMERICAN MORNING, the most news in the morning right here.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(WEATHER REPORT)

(NEWSBREAK)

M. O'BRIEN: Coming up -- a sneak peek at Sunday night's Grammy Awards. We'll look at some of the favorites and find out which performances you'll want to tune in for.

Did somebody say Roxanne? Stay with us for AMERICAN MORNING.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

M. O'BRIEN: Ah, yes, that will be the highlight of the Grammy's for me, probably, Sting, Stewart Copeland, Andy Summers back together again, the Police playing on the big show on Sunday. But of course, they're not up for an award this year. It's been the mid-'50s when they last played together, so it seems.

Margeaux Watson is a staff writer for "Entertainment Weekly." She joins us with a preview of the big program.

Good to have you with us.

MARGEAUX WATSON, "ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY": Thank you. It's good to be here.

M. O'BRIEN: All right, let's start off now with album of the year, OK.

WATSON: Yes.

M. O'BRIEN: And some of the things we are looking for. On the tote board, the possibilities are -- let's bring it up, if we can -- album of the year nominees -- Dixie Chicks, "Taking the Long Way," Gnarls Barkley, "St. Elsewhere," John Mayer, "Continuum," Red Hot Chili Peppers, "Stadium Arcadium," Justin Timberlake, "Future Sex/Love Sounds." And your prediction is this one.

WATSON: Well, we...

M. O'BRIEN: Hang on -- we're going to play it first.

(MUSIC PLAYING)

WATSON: Yes. We would love to see Gnarls Barkley win for "Crazy." It was of the moment and totally "Timeless." We voted it album of the year for 2006. It was just a wonderful, wonderful album.

M. O'BRIEN: Catchy tune, stays with you. WATSON: Yes.

M. O'BRIEN: And you would like it. Do you think that the Grammy committee's going to go for it?

WATSON: I don't know. The Grammy Committee...

M. O'BRIEN: They're hard to predict, aren't they?

WATSON: They are hard to predict, and they may lean toward the Dixie Chicks. Even though Nashville kind of hates them, the more liberal Grammy voters are likely charmed by them.

Oh, I see, so kind of booed out of Nashville, loved in Hollywood kind of Hollywood kind of thing maybe.

WATSON: Exactly.

M. O'BRIEN: Red state blue state kind of thing there.

WATSON: Basically.

M. O'BRIEN: All right, let's move on now, song of the year -- let's put up tote board here. On the slate here, Mary J. Blige, "Be Without You," Carrie Underwood, "Jesus Take the Wheel," Dixie Chicks, "Not Ready to Make Nice," Corinne Bailey Rae, "Put Your Records On," and James Blunt, "You're Beautiful."

And your pick is this one.

WATSON: Yes. The Dixie Chicks, again, like we said, the more liberal Grammy voters are more likely to vote for them. We think that they a shoo-in. 2006 was a huge year for country, and the Dixie Chicks are up for five Grammys. Is just seems like likely that they'll take it.

M. O'BRIEN: So do you think there's an embedded political statement here? Maybe.

WATSON: Maybe. It was just a big year for country.

M. O'BRIEN: It's the country year. The Grammy goes country.

WATSON: Yes. Five of 2006's top 10 bestselling items in 2006 were country.

M. O'BRIEN: All right. Now new artist. That's always a fun one to watch. Let's look at the list there, James Blunt, Chris Brown -- is it how do you pronounce it? Imogen?

WATSON: Imogen Heap.

M. O'BRIEN: Imogen Heap, Corinne Bailey Rae and Carrie Underwood, and your prediction is this one.

Let's watch. WATSON: Definitely. Carrie Underwood, like we said, huge year for country. Carrie Underwood is a freshman voice. She's outselling all the other "American Idol" stars.

M. O'BRIEN: By a longshot, right?

WATSON: Yes, but a huge longshot. So she's definitely -- it's definitely Carrie's award to lose.

M. O'BRIEN: What does Carrie have that Ruben doesn't and all the others? What is it?

WATSON: Sales.

M. O'BRIEN: But come on, what is it? She's got the je ne sais quoi. What is it?

WATSON: She does. She has that kind of like, every girl, girl next door charm that, you know, America loves. She appeals to a broad audience, whereas Ruben and Fantasia appeal to a more niche R&B audience. She kind of like has that whole pop appeal, and that's America loves, and that's what drives sales.

M. O'BRIEN: All right, Margeaux Watson, thanks for stopping by, and we'll hold you to that, and we'll be watching on Sunday for the Grammys. She's with "Entertainment Weekly."

Here's a quick look at what "CNN NEWSROOM" is working on for the top of the hour.

LEON HARRIS, CNN ANCHOR: See these stories in the "CNN NEWSROOM" -- Trouble in Jerusalem. Israeli and Palestinians clashing today outside a disputed holy site.

Guns and grenades -- a salesman whose business is booming in Baghdad.

The Army showing off its new uniform for soldiers.

And an autopsy today on the body of model and actress Anna Nicole Smith. Her sudden death in Florida stunning friends and fans.

You're in the NEWSROOM 9:00 a.m. Eastern, 6:00 Pacific.

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