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AMERICAN MORNING

Muslim Protesters Clash With Israeli Police; Seven Feet of Snow in Upstate New York; Anna Nicole Smith's Last Interview

Aired February 9, 2007 - 06:00   ET

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


MILES O'BRIEN, CNN ANCHOR: Sudden death. New details this morning about what may have killed Anna Nicole Smith and what now for her fortune and her five-month-old daughter?
SOLEDAD O'BRIEN, CNN ANCHOR: State of emergency. Parts of the Northeast have been paralyzed by six to seven feet of snow and it's still coming down.

M. O'BRIEN: Pressing the press. The tables turn on Tim Russert, who may be the crux of the case against Scooter Libby.

S. O'BRIEN: And special assignment. Children of the Storm. Spike Lee helps kids in New Orleans show us their lives through their own eyes on this AMERICAN MORNING.

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

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

S. O'BRIEN: Today an autopsy is going to determine if Anna Nicole Smith died by accident or was it suicide, was it homicide, or was it just natural causes. Here death, like her life, unexpected and, of course, the subject of much speculation and fascination too. Anna Nicole Smith was a "Playboy" playmate, a tabloid cover girl, the widow of an oil tycoon. Smith's attorney said she'd been suffering from the flu for the last couple of days. And we learned that a private nurse called for help when Smith was found unconscious in her hotel room in Hollywood, Florida.

Now, her body guard began performing CPR before she was taken to the hospital, which is where she died. Smith was in Florida without her baby daughter, Dannielynn. There's going to be a paternity hearing this morning actually in California. CNN's Susan Candiotti is in Broward County, Florida, this morning.

Susan, good morning.

SUSAN CANDIOTTI, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Good morning, Soledad. How are you?

S. O'BRIEN: I'm well, thanks.

Let's begin with the autopsy. When do we expect it to happen? And how quickly will we know the results? CANDIOTTI: Well, Soledad, they expect to begin the autopsy sometime between 9:00 and 9:30 this morning. It will be performed by the chief medicine examiner here in Broward County and one of is top assistants. And we do know that they are expecting some kind of preliminary results today.

And they will be meeting at about 11:00 this morning to decide where things stand and when they plan to meet with reporters later this day. If the death was by natural causes, the medical examiner has said that he thinks they'll be able to announce things fairly quickly. But if not, of course, toxicology reports, as an example, could take weeks to complete.

And one other thing. If, for example, Anna Nicole Smith's partner, Howard K. Stern, wishes to have the body released to him anytime soon, or any other family member for that matter, first there would have to be a preliminary death certificate issued before something like that could happen.

S. O'BRIEN: You phrased that as partner. And, of course, that's part of the whole mystery, isn't it? Is he actually married to her, which has been claimed? Was any marriage that they had actually legal and binding? And then you have this paternity case that involves Smith and a boyfriend who's released a statement saying that he's grieving for the mother of his child, who now stands to inherit a lot of money. What do we know about that paternity case?

CANDIOTTI: That's right. Yes, he's an ex-boyfriend, Larry Birkhead. And soon after Anna Nicole Smith's daughter was born, he filed a paternity suit. He has been fighting this for the last few months, trying to determine who is the father. He claims he is the father of that baby. Well, he has requested and apparently will get later this day in Los Angeles a special hearing to try to move this paternity suit along. Technically he is asking a judge for a DNA sample from Anna Nicole Smith. Now her lawyers are saying we know that this is her child. But evidently, according to his lawyers, this is all part of the paternity suit.

S. O'BRIEN: Susan Candiotti for us. Even in her death, the story continues to be twisted and convoluted as always.

Thanks, Susan.

And you want to stay with us right here on AMERICAN MORNING. Coming up a little bit later, we're going to be talking to Mark Steines. He's the host of "Entertainment Tonight." He's interviewed Anna Nicole Smith many times ever since her son, Daniel's, death. And later, at 7:00 in the morning, our senior legal analyst, Jeff Toobin, is going to talk with us. You heard us talk about just a few of the numerous legal battles that are shaping up now, like the paternity and, of course, the estate. We'll cover all that with Jeff Toobin straight ahead this morning.

Miles.

M. O'BRIEN: In upstate New York this morning, they are digging out from an epic winter storm, even as more snow is on the way. Seven feet of snow on the ground already, another two feet expected before the weekend. CNN's Rob Marciano is in Oswego, 40 miles northwest of Syracuse, on the shores of Lake Ontario, in the bull's eye of that lake effect show.

Hello, Rob.

ROB MARCIANO, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Hi, Miles.

We bring you this broadcast this morning from the southern shores of Lake Ontario. I'm actually standing on frozen chunks of ice that have been built up here by those waves, by winds that are gusting over 40 miles an hour. Look at this mound of snow and ice behind me. So this is on the shores. As you can imagine, with five to seven feet of snow building up around town and heavy drifts, clearing those roads can be an ongoing battle.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

DAVE BARNETT (ph), SNOW PLOW DRIVER: This lever here is the front plow.

MARCIANO, (voice over): For Dave Barnett, the job of keeping roads open in Oswego County is endless. With snow falling at a rate of up to five inches per hour, visibility can drop quickly.

It looks pretty heavy. You see a big sheet of white out there.

BARNETT: Slow down. As soon as you see a white out, the first thing you're doing is slowing down, moving into the curb a little bit because you can feel your wing there, so you know where you are basically.

MARCIANO: Cleared roads can also mean buried cars and clogged sidewalks and stranded residents. And when there's no where else to push the snow, it gets hauled and dumped here, an old reservoir where it will sit til spring.

DR SCOTT STEIGER, PROFESSOR OF METEOROLOGY: They've been plowed since Friday. Last Friday.

MARCIANO: Doctor Scott Steiger teaches meteorology at Oswego State.

STEIGER: OK, Jason, so what's going on right now?

JASON: We can see there's more northwesterly winds.

MARCIANO: With labs and instruments right on Lake Ontario, he and his students know lake effect snow. And they're trying to figure out who's getting it and how much.

STEIGER: Well, it's very difficult to forecast exactly where it's going to hit. These bands are only five to 10 miles wide.

MARCIANO: They're also trying to determine how much longer this area will have to deal with this marathon-like event.

STEIGER: It's definitely not over yet. And then, as we go into Saturday, the winds are going to realign out of the west and in the same area, northern central and northern Oswego County could see another two to three feet on top of the 70 inches they already have -- 78 inches they already have.

MARCIANO: Historic event?

STEIGER: Historic event I would say for sure.

MARCIANO: And this arctic blast has made southern shores of Lake Ontario look more like the south pole. Waves freeze as huge mounds of ice. White caps break in the distance against darkening clouds, as the next band of lake effect snow rolls in.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

MARCIANO: As far as the snow is concerned right now, it's not snowing, but those lake effect bands continue to build off the lake and roll in from time to time. Varying from one spot to the another. The National Weather Service, as a matter of fact, with this cold air not seemingly to want to let up, has reissued or extended the lake effect snow warning right through the weekend until 7:00 a.m. on Monday. And maybe they'll even extend it past that.

This morning, winds are 40 miles an hour gusting at times. The temperatures is actually about 15. So the wind chills, a brutal five to 10 below. So the cold weather just doesn't seem to want to let up.

Miles, you've been to places like Greenland and the arctic. This certainly feels and looks like it here this morning. Back to you.

M. O'BRIEN: Yes, I should say. All right. Well, hopefully you're not on thin ice there, Rob.

Thank you very much.

Severe weather expert Chad Myers will stop by, quarter past the hour of course, and he'll tell us a little bit more about how much snow could fall in upstate New York.

Soledad.

S. O'BRIEN: The defense took aim at NBC's Tim Russert on the stand of the Lewis Scooter Libby trial. They used techniques that Russert employs himself when he questions his own guests on "Meet the Press." Libby's accused of lying to prosecutors trying to find out who leaked the name of the CIA operative. AMERICAN MORNING's Bob Franken has been following the trial for us.

Good morning, Bob.

BOB FRANKEN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Good morning, Soledad.

And, you're right, this was a grilling worthy of a Sunday talk show host, except in this case the griller was the grillee.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: (INAUDIBLE).

TIM RUSSERT, NBC NEWS: 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 Clause 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 recalls, I don't remembers, a point lawyers said the defense needed to emphasize to make the case that Libby was too 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: And after Russert, the prosecution rested on Monday. The defense starts. And to paraphrase from the movie, "My Cousin Vinny," their argument will be that everything you've just heard is wrong.

Soledad.

S. O'BRIEN: See if that works. Bob Franken for us this morning.

Thank you, Bob.

Heavy snow is pilling up in upstate New York. Chad Myers has a look at that for us. Plus, we're watching the very tense situation now in Jerusalem. Violent protests breaking out at one of the holy land's most contentious religious sites.

And the sudden death of Anna Nicole Smith. People who knew her best speak out. You're watching AMERICAN MORNING. The most news in the morning is right here on CNN.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

M. O'BRIEN: Breaking news from Jerusalem this hour. Muslim protesters clashing with Israeli police inside the walls of the Old City. You're looking at live pictures right now.

It's happening on one of the most disputed pieces of real estate in the Middle East. Muslims call it the Al-Aqsa mosque, the third holiest site in Islam. It's also a holy land for Jews. The Temple Mount.

The clash apparently sparked by some renovations to a walkway near there. By the way, this is right next to the Western Wall, which is one of the most holy places for Jews. That walkway was damaged by a snowfall a few years ago. Anytime anybody does anything to this piece of turf, there can be trouble. And that's what we're seeing unfold right now. CNN's Ben Wedeman is on the phone right now with the latest.

Ben, how did it all unfold? What's happening now?

BEN WEDEMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, at the moment, it's grown fairly quit for the first time in about 40 minutes. Just hearing the occasional blast. Probably from stun grenades. How it happened, we're told by the Israeli police, is that some worshipers began throwing rocks at some of the -- primarily (ph) the Israeli police and border guards who have been stationed in large numbers around the Old City and around the Al-Aqsa compound itself. As many as 2,500 out today.

Once those rocks began to be thrown, apparently the forces responded with stun grenades and possibly tear gas as well. We're also hearing reports of rubber bullets being used. And there too (ph) as a good 35 to 40 minutes of intense, I call just call it chaos really, as the Israeli security forces entered the compound of the Al- Aqsa mosque, which, of course, it's holy for Jews as well. It's the (INAUDIBLE) Temple (INAUDIBLE).

And those clashes went on for a good 35 minutes. (INAUDIBLE) red areas and in other parts of the Old City as well, keeping in mind, of course, it's (INAUDIBLE) anyone -- any males under the age of 35 (INAUDIBLE) the mosque compound itself. So many of them congregating were on the outskirts of the Old City. And the fact is occurred between both youth and the police as well.

M. O'BRIEN: Ben, I think what -- we're looking at the walkway that is kind of at the center of this dispute. Can you tell us what was it that got Muslims so upset? And this coming right after, I guess, they were finishing their Friday prayers. What is it about that walkway that has them disturbed?

WEDEMAN: Well, the reason why -- this walkway is being renovated by the Israelis. They said that the walkway in 2004 was severely damaged by an earthquake and subsequent heavy snowfall. And so what they want to do, the Israeli officials say, is renovate it, make it structurally sound so that they can remove an older wooden ramp that was built in its place.

Now, the Israeli officials say that there's no damage being done to the structure of the mosque's compound. That they're willing to install live Internet cameras to put out a 24-hour picture so that anyone who wanted to would see that the structure is not being damage. But given the lack of credibility that exists between Muslims and Jews here, no one seems to give these claims much credence. And, therefore, because we've heard day after day after day, Muslim leaders condemning this renovation work and calling for Palestinians to come to the mosque, to express their anger and try to stop the renovation work from going ahead.

M. O'BRIEN: So the allegation is that they're somehow undermining or damaging the mosque itself? At this point, what do we know about whether anyone has been hurt in all of this?

WEDEMAN: We understand that so far that at least three policemen have been wounded and an undetermined number of protesters have also been wounded. In fact, from where we are on the Mount of Olives, looking into the compound of the Al-Aqsa mosque, I did see several stretchers being rushed from one area to the other. So the clashes have not ended, it appears, and therefore probably the number of wounded on both sides is inevitably going to go up.

M. O'BRIEN: And I think it's worth reminding people, it was Ariel Sharon, the former prime minister's visit to this very site which sparked so much of the violence that we have seen over the past few years.

WEDEMAN: Yes, that is right. Arial Sharon, who was in an opposition here, the Israeli opposition leader, visited the compound of the Al-Aqsa mosque in September of 2000. That sparked riots by the Palestinians, which snow-balled into what has become known as the (INAUDIBLE) or the second Palestinian uprising, which has left several thousand Palestinians dead and thousands of Israelis dead in a series of attacks and counter attacks, suicide bombings, incursions that have never really ended. Even at the moment, the Israelis are now talking (INAUDIBLE) saying that this work and these disturbances could be the beginning of a third (INAUDIBLE). So the situation is grim. Grim indeed.

M. O'BRIEN: Ben Wedeman in Jerusalem. We will be back with him throughout the morning. Keep you posted on what's going on inside the Old City of Jerusalem.

Soledad.

S. O'BRIEN: A few minutes past quarter past. Let's get right to Chad with a weather update for us. He's watching that snow in upstate New York.

Hey, Chad, how's that looking?

(WEATHER REPORT)

S. O'BRIEN: Coming up this morning, Microsoft's billion-dollar investment, is it paying off? We're going to break down these early sales numbers for Vista. We're "Minding Your Business" straight ahead.

Plus, children of the storm. Spike Lee joins our special protect, helping young storm survivors document their lives in New Orleans.

That story is ahead on AMERICAN MORNING. We're back in just a moment.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

S. O'BRIEN: Welcome back to the most news in the morning.

And our special project. We're calling it "Children of the Storm." I was in New Orleans the other day handing out cameras to nearly a dozen students from across that city. Asked them to be our eyes and our ears on the ground, telling us about everyday life in New Orleans as their community changes or maybe doesn't change in some ways.

We've got some young people to introduce you to today. There's 12-year-old Sophy Bedru (ph). There she is. She lives in a mobile home. Dreams of returning to her home that was badly damaged in St. Bernard Parish.

And then right there, that's Shantee Reneau (ph). She travels regularly to the lower ninth ward. She says there's nothing happening there.

Fifteen-year-old DeShawn Davny (ph). He lives in a small and very crowded apartment. Church volunteers have been helping him rebuild his home.

Progress is slow, but are they hopeful or are they hopeless? Over the next few days and months, you're going to hear and see all about it.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

SPIKE LEE, DIRECTOR: Seven days a week. There should not be a day that doesn't go by where you're not filming. Can everybody make that promise?

CROWD: Promise. Promise.

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

LEE: You're 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 Albritan (ph), gave them a 101 before they started taping.

DAVID ALBRITAN, PHOTOGRAPHER: Push that. And lightly open the door. And the tape pops out.

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

LEE: 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: An 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, you know, tragedy happened, you still can strive through. Even though 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: 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 pretty much like Hawaii now. It's like they don't really care.

S. O'BRIEN: 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 don't want to go out and half, half, ruddy put (ph), right?

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

ALBRITAN: 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? And just say, hello, and give your name on the camera. Everybody do it.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Hello, my name is Shantille (ph).

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: My name is Brittany.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Hi. My name is Josh. How are you?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I could give you my (INAUDIBLE).

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.

Michelle, will you hand out my e-mail address to everybody.

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

(END VIDEOTAPE)

S. O'BRIEN: That was Brandon Franklin (ph) shooting my shot, naming me Gumbo. I think I like that. He and the other 10 students are going to begin turning in their tapes the end of this month. We've asked them to do regular installations of their work and we'll bring it to you here on AMERICAN MORNING.

M. O'BRIEN: It should be quite a gumbo, actually, really.

S. O'BRIEN: Yes, it should be. It really should be. They're a very diverse group across the city, each with their own story they want to share.

M. O'BRIEN: Shoot, shoot, and shoot some more, kids, and don't zoom too much, right?

S. O'BRIEN: Yes. And if you are interested in seeing some of their videotape, we've actually posted it on pipeline. Go right to pipeline on cnn.com/pipeline and you can see what they've already done, what we've shot with them, and continue to follow it.

M. O'BRIEN: Fascinating. Watch it unfold.

One record company is starting to see things Steve Jobs' way. Now what's that campaign they had, "think different." Grammatically incorrect, but think different. They're thinking different. Twenty-five minutes past the hour. Stephanie Elam is "Minding Your Business."

Hello, Stephanie.

STEPHANIE ELAM, CNN CORRESPONDENT: That's the journalist in you. I always wanted to ad a ly every time I heard that to, differently.

M. O'BRIEN: Yes, I know.

ELAM: Good morning, Soledad and Miles.

And this is a story that we have been covering for two days now. And it just is not ending. First of all we have Apple, Steve Jobs, coming up and saying the music industry needs to get rid of their anti-piracy software. And then after that, the music industry said, hey, no, you need to loosen up your software.

And now EMI, which is the record label behind ColdPlay, as well as the Rolling Stones, are saying, we're looking at actually talking to online retailers and selling our entire digital music catalog to them. This is according to "The Wall Street Journal." Let's see how this plays out. But if that did happen, anyone who has an MP3 player would be able to play their music.

Let's move on and take a look at the view from Vista. Microsoft's new operating system has been doing really well for PC sales. It turns out that PC sales rose 67 percent in U.S. retail stores in the first week on the market. Leading the charge was Hewlett-Packard. They saw their share of those sales up about 50 percent. Actually a little bit more than that. And so they did lead the industry with that. The last time a Windows operating system came out, it was XP in 2001. Vista delayed twice. So people have been waiting around to upgrade to this one.

Let's move on and take a look that the markets yesterday. The Dow, a little bit on the down side, off about 29 points yesterday, down to 12,638. And that was hurt by indications of weaknesses in the housing market, despite some strong retail sales numbers, as well as earnings results. The Nasdaq was also off less than two points though at 2,488. So we'll have to see if we can end the week here on a positive note and see what happens today.

M. O'BRIEN: Thank you, Stephanie.

S. O'BRIEN: We'll be watching it, no matter what happens.

ELAM: No matter.

S. O'BRIEN: All right, Stephanie, thanks.

M. O'BRIEN: Top stories of the morning are up next, including a startling new report on autism. We'll tell you how common the disorder really is.

Plus, we're going to talk to the last reporter to interview Anna Nicole Smith, "Entertainment Tonight's" Mark Steines. Did he see any signs of trouble?

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

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

S. O'BRIEN: The child who's now been left behind. An autopsy today on Anna Nicole Smith and a new fight for the custody of her 5- month-old daughter.

M. O'BRIEN: Extreme weather. Seven feet of snow on the ground in parts of the Northeast. More on the way.

S. O'BRIEN: Sounding a new alarm on autism. The devastating condition is more common in children than was first thought. The new numbers straight ahead on this AMERICAN MORNING.

Welcome back, everybody, Friday, February 9th.

I'm Soledad O'Brien.

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

S. O'BRIEN: Let's get right with some breaking news out of Jerusalem in this hour. Muslim protesters are clashing with Israeli police inside the walls of the old city. They are angry over Israeli construction that the protesters say is damaging the Al-Aqsa mosque, which is the third holiest sit in Islam.

CNN's Ben Wedeman is live for us in Jerusalem this morning.

Ben, good morning.

BEN WEDEMAN, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, good morning, Soledad.

Yes, we had some scenes of extreme violence within the compound of the Aqsa mosque, which is right behind me, known to Jews, of course, as the Temple Mount. What happened is that during Friday prayers, as they were just winding up, according to Israeli police, some of the worshipers began to stone Israeli security forces that are deployed in large numbers around the mosque compound and the old city of Jerusalem itself, as many as 3,000 today.

Israeli forces responded with stun grenades, we're told. Also with some tear gas, as well as in some areas rubber bullets.

They have subsequently taken over the mosque compound. Things have quieted down a good deal, although we do know there are clashes occurring not only in other parts of the old city, but also in the West Bank and various hot spots around there.

Now, we do know that already three Israeli policemen have been wounded. An unknown number of protesters as well -- Soledad.

S. O'BRIEN: Ben Wedeman for us this morning. Thank you, Ben -- Miles.

M. O'BRIEN: An autopsy to begin in a few hours in south Florida. Medical examiners hoping to find out what killed Anna Nicole Smith.

Smith's attorney says she had been suffering from flu systems the last few days. Apparently, a private nurse called for help when Smith was found unconscious in her hotel room in Hollywood, Florida.

Her bodyguard performed CPR before she was taken to the hospital, where she died. Her death surprised those closest to her.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JOHN JAMES, FRIEND OF ANNA NICOLE SMITH: I freaked out. I couldn't believe it. I thought it was the most unbelievable thing I'd ever heard.

JENNIFER SAGINOR, AUTHOR, "PLAYLAND": She did have that glamorous, voluptuous sort of appeal to her. And -- whereas most -- during that time especially, all of these supermodels were super skinny. And it was that full hair and chic look. And I think that her personality and vibrancy and being such that country girl type really -- it was refreshing to Hollywood.

I think so.

PENNY GENOVESE, FRIEND OF ANNA NICOLE SMITH: She inspired me. Yes, she changed my whole entire life. I mean, I have memories I'll never forget.

She's an amazing person. And, you know, the tabloids were so negative. They never focused on -- you know, like she had said in her interview, they never focused on where she came. And, you know, she made a name for herself. She made Anna Nicole.

DONNA HOGAN, ANNA NICOLE'S SISTER: She was funny. She was beautiful, of course. She's always been beautiful. She would always light up a room. She just -- she's just really, really going to be missed.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

M. O'BRIEN: Smith gave birth to a girl just five months ago. Two men are claiming to be the father.

Attorney Howard K. Stern is listed on the birth certificate, but Smith's former boyfriend, Larry Birkhead, says he's the dad. A paternity hearing is slated in L.A. today.

Stay with us on AMERICAN MORNING. Coming up in about 10 minutes, we'll talk to Mark Steines, host of "Entertainment Tonight," the last reporter to interview her."

(NEWSBREAK) S. O'BRIEN: In upstate New York this morning they're preparing for another two feet of snow. That's on top of the seven feet that's already on the ground.

CNN's Rob Marciano is in Oswego, New York. He's right on the shores of Lake Ontario.

Good morning, Rob.

ROB MARCIANO, CNN METEOROLOGIST: Soledad, we're here on the southern shores of Lake Ontario, where at times the winds are gusting 40 miles an hour, the temperature is 15 degrees. So wind-chills are well below zero.

About 10 feet from shore, standing on ice that has been built up by waves crashing in as these winds continually move this water up on to the shore. And for the past week and a half, it's been so cold that this is literally frozen solid, at least right here.

The farther out you go, it's not so solid, and there are actually waves probably building underneath this. And then you see these snowdrifts that are -- it feels like the Arctic out here, or certainly Antarctica.

Look at this mound of snow and ice behind me. That's got to be 15 to 20 feet high.

One of the main reasons we've seen such a huge amount of lake- effect snow is because it was so warm in January and December. And Ontario, unlike, say, Lake Erie, is a very deep lake. Out there in the middle of it, average depths are 280 feet. So it doesn't freeze up totally, with the exception of this -- of this shoreline.

Lake-effect snow bands have been wavering from one spot to the next. The hardest-hit areas are the eastern part of Oswego County. They've seen a bit of a break this morning, but still seven feet of snow has fallen so far. Here, at least five feet here. And lake- effect snow warnings have been extended until Monday morning.

Soledad, back to you.

S. O'BRIEN: All right, Rob. Thank you.

Rob updating us on the situation there.

In just a few minutes we're going to be talking to severe weather expert Chad Myers. He's going to tell us just how bad it could get in upstate New York and around the country, too -- Miles.

M. O'BRIEN: Coming up, the last reporter to interview Anna Nicole Smith. "Entertainment Tonight" host Mark Steines will join us live.

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

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

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

We're watching a very tense scene this morning in Jerusalem. Muslim protesters clashing with Israeli police over construction work that's being done at the Al-Aqsa mosque, which is the third holiest site in Islam.

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

M. O'BRIEN: An autopsy planned later today to try to determine what killed Anna Nicole Smith. The former exotic dancer, "Playboy" playmate, and billionaire's widow died suddenly in a hotel room in south Florida. Her life was a roller-coaster of ups and downs, and despite the fame and fortune, she frequently said a dark cloud hung over her.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ANNA NICOLE SMITH, MODEL: Everyone in my life has stabbed me in my back or has said something bad about me or sued me or blackmailed me for money or -- I've just -- my whole life, I've -- it's just been rough for me.

MARK STEINES, "ENTERTAINMENT TONIGHT": Is there a fight that needs to be fought yet? And how much is still in you?

SMITH: I feel strong. I'm tired. I'm really tired of the fight. But I'm not going to stop fighting until it's done.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

M. O'BRIEN: Now, that's an excerpt from the last interview she did last week with Mark Steines, the host of "Entertainment Tonight." He joins us from Hollywood, Florida.

Mark, good to have you with us.

STEINES: Thank you.

M. O'BRIEN: It seems she was on drugs or something during that interview. What was your impression?

STEINES: Well, I think if you look at the life of Anna Nicole Smith, it's pretty safe to make that assessment. But whether or not that is part of what ended her life, we're still waiting to find out. The autopsy report, I'm told, will be conducted today and we'll have some sort of answers soon. I think a lot of people are wondering exactly what it was.

You know, I spent time with her in the Bahamas, and it was difficult. The interviews were difficult at times. But you have to remember, we found moments of clarity. I was with her last Monday and Tuesday, with Howard and Anna, as they took us through their new home, the home that they had just purchased and they were remodeling. And she was -- had a lot of clarity there. She was excited.

In fact, she took me into the room where the former exotic dancer put a pole. She was going to dance and continue her workout routines to lose the extra baby weight and her work with TrimSpa and get back into being a spokesmodel. She showed us the rooms that she was picking out to be the nursery for Dannielynn.

So she -- there was a lot of joy in her life. They talked about the boat that they came here to Hollywood, Florida, to get and take back to the Bahamas, how excited she was about that. But later in the day we did that interview, and Anna had to take a two-hour nap before we did that interview before she was just so weak.

She doesn't sleep well -- or she didn't sleep well. And there were periods of time throughout her day where she just needed to sit down and have some Anna Nicole time.

After the interview, we talked about Daniel -- or at the end of the interview we talked about Daniel, and she talked about the emotional toll it took on her life, how she stills has nightmares about him -- of him trying to find his way in the afterlife, trying to find someone that he can connect to, perhaps J. Howard Marshall. And she was really concerned about him.

And I felt a drifting away from Dannielynn. She didn't seem to be the attentive mother that she used to be back in October when I saw her. She didn't seem to know at times where Dannielynn was, where in October she knew exactly where she was and would hear her cry. So Anna Nicole was certainly...

M. O'BRIEN: Mark, it sounds like she -- it sounds like she was an emotional wreck. And coupled with that, she was losing a tremendous amount of weight very quickly. It doesn't sound like a very healthy recipe there.

STEINES: Well, yes. She was trying to lose weight.

When I saw her in October, she of course just had the baby and had a C-section. By February, she had lost some of her weight, but she wasn't back down to that tiny, tiny Anna Nicole Smith that we saw after the TrimSpa success, but then again she wasn't working out as much.

She doesn't go outside. There was so much paparazzi around, she was really forced to stay indoors, with the exception of a few trips back and forth.

I can tell you this, though, that we -- 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 Mo (ph) came out, who is a paramedic, and took her from the pool, administered CPR, and saved her life at that point.

So I don't know if that led up to this, where she just didn't feel like she could conquer all of the DNA stuff that's going on in her life, the accusations of Howard K. Stern murdering her son Daniel, and a TrimSpa lawsuit that is pending as well, and J. Howard Marshall. I mean, there was so much going on, and I don't know if that was just too much for her.

M. O'BRIEN: Mark, did she ever indicate she was suffering from postpartum depression?

STEINES: She never indicated that to me. If -- I mean, that certainly could be -- it's a great observation.

She was depressed quite often. In fact, after the interview last week, in our conversations with Howard, he told us she never really, really recovered from the final part of that interview where she was talking bout Daniel.

She did have a fever. I can tell you, the last few days of her life, when she came here, she had a fever when they got here. Before they came, Howard was actually suffering from the flu.

When they got into the hotel room behind me, there was a point where Anna's fever had reached 105 degrees, at which time they put her in an ice bath. This was when her private nurse was with her, Howard was there in the room, to get her temperature back down.

Her temperature went back down, they got her out of the ice bath, she was OK. The next day, which would have been Wednesday, Anna was in the bathroom, she slipped, she fell. They heard something.

They went to her and she was in her tub with no water, nothing else. And they had asked her if she had fallen, and she seemed a little bit out of it. But they checked her for any bruising or contusions or swelling and there was nothing.

She got out of the tub, she had a nice meal. Everything was fine. Then she went to bed. And that led to yesterday, when after taking a nap, I believe, she never came to and never woke up.

M. O'BRIEN: Mark Steines, co-host of "Entertainment Tonight."

Thanks for being with us.

STEINES: Thank you.

M. O'BRIEN: Soledad.

S. O'BRIEN: God, talk about a woman who's been in the media just -- I mean, she was only 39 years old and we have done so many stories about the legal wrangling. And now, of course, it continues with her estate and a 5-month-old baby. You know.

M. O'BRIEN: A hearing even today on this whole issue.

S. O'BRIEN: I know. Really quite a mess.

It's time to take a look at the weather now, 47 minutes past the hour. Chad is tracking some snowstorms for us, plus he's got the cold and flu report.

Hey, Chad. Good morning.

CHAD MYERS, CNN METEOROLOGIST: Yes, our cold and flu report now looks like a quilt. So we'll call it the cold and flu quilt.

(WEATHER REPORT)

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

MYERS: You're welcome.

S. O'BRIEN: Coming up this morning, new reports says mere children are diagnosed with autism. So the question, of course, is, well, why?

We'll take a look straight ahead on AMERICAN MORNING.

Stay with us.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

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

We're watching a tense scene in Jerusalem as we speak. Live pictures now. Muslin protesters clashing with Israeli police, upset over construction under way at the Al-Aqsa mosque. It is the third holiest site in Islam.

Defense Secretary Robert Gates in Europe as we speak, pressing NATO to send more troops to Afghanistan -- Soledad.

S. O'BRIEN: A new study finds that autism is more common in American children than previously thought. One in 150 American kids have autism. That's up from the old number, which was one in 166 kids.

Now, if you do the math, that means that roughly a half-million children and young adults may have autism and the related disorders. About 50,000 more than the earlier estimates.

Those numbers come from the CDC, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The CDC is not sure what's behind the increase. It could be better tracking, or it could b there's actually more prevalence of the disorder -- Miles.

M. O'BRIEN: Coming up, we're "Minding Your Business." All the cold weather is good for some. Some, that is.

And YouTube turning into a huge headache for law enforcement. AMERICAN MORNING'S Greg Hunter looks at why some say the site offers a how-to for criminals. You're watching AMERICAN MORNING. The most news in the morning right here.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

M. O'BRIEN: Well, the weather giveth and it taketh away. Yesterday we told you retailers are happy, but now when it comes time to buy some gasoline, well, you may be upset.

A few minutes before the top of the hour. Stephanie Elam "Minding Your Business."

Good morning, Stephanie.

STEPHANIE ELAM, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Good morning.

So you see oil prices going up. And then it's like, oh, my gosh, winter is here. Like we didn't know winter was coming.

M. O'BRIEN: We forgot.

ELAM: We knew this. We forgot. It look a long time on the Northeast, but we did know it was coming. Still, it seems to be having an effect when you take a look at oil prices.

They're around $60 a barrel this morning, but those icy temperatures that we're seeing here in the U.S., just ask them how they're feeling in upstate New York today with all the snow they're getting. It's helping to lift that -- that cost of oil right now. Also, yesterday there was a $2 jump there as well.

Also, another issue here. It's not just the cold weather. It's the tensions that we're seeing between the U.S. and Iran, as well as the violence in Nigeria also playing a part in that.

So, now while cold weather was playing there, it was also playing in retail sales. But in this case, it's a good thing.

Taking a look at retail sales for January, they came in better than expected. And normally, January is a slow period for retail sales. But people had their gift cards from the holidays and they were using them. Also, they're buying up left over winter clothing, because again, we don't winter was coming. So it was a surprise. People had to get their coats, I guess.

Soledad and Miles, back to you.

S. O'BRIEN: Is winter coming? Is winter coming?

ELAM: I think it's here. I don't know. I look like the Michelin Man when I'm walking around. So...

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

Some of other headlines we're watching for you this morning.

(NEWSBREAK)

M. O'BRIEN: We're coming up on the top of the hour. Chad Myers at the CNN weather center.

(WEATHER REPORT)

S. O'BRIEN: Breaking news. Violence in Jerusalem. Muslim protesters clashing with Israeli troops this morning.

M. O'BRIEN: Sudden death. New details today about what may have killed Anna Nicole Smith. And what now for her fortune and her 5- month-old daughter?

S. O'BRIEN: And state of emergency. Parts of the Northeast paralyzed by six to seven feet of snow, and it's still coming down.

M. O'BRIEN: And Barack Obama's big weekend. The Illinois senator making a major speech that might reshape the race for president ahead on this AMERICAN MORNING.

S. O'BRIEN: Welcome back, everybody. It's Friday, February 9th.

I'm Soledad O'Brien.

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

Thanks for being with us.

S. O'BRIEN: Let's begin with some breaking news out of Jerusalem this morning. Hundreds of protesters are clashing with Israeli police at the disputed Temple Mount. The protesters are angry over Israeli construction at the Al-Aqsa mosque. That is the third holiest site in Islam.

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