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African-Americans Currently Favor Clinton Over Obama

Aired February 27, 2007 - 07:00   ET


MARK SILVA, REPORTER, "THE CHICAGO TRIBUNE": When the attack occurred, the base went to a code red and sirens blared and trucks were moving. And we did see a plume of smoke, but we saw it from such a distance that I count tell you it was the exact same thing.
Nevertheless, the vice president's party started scrambling and preparing for a fast departure. And we moved out of Bagram just shortly after noon local time. It was about 12:01, I believe, when we lifted off. They moved out in post haste, making it clear the vice president was safe.

But I've seen the statement from the Taliban leader who said they were trying to get to Cheney. There were about 50 more obstacles between them and Cheney. I can tell you that.


SOLEDAD O'BRIEN, CNN ANCHOR, AMERICAN MORNING: That was Mark Silva of "The Chicago Tribune." He's traveling with the vice president -- Miles.

MILES O'BRIEN, CNN ANCHOR, AMERICAN MORNING: Our Pentagon Correspondent Barbara Starr has been to that sprawling U.S. air base in Bagram many times. She joins us with more of a sense of security there. As we just heard, 50 more layers probably between the bomber and the vice president.

Give us a sense of the security you saw when you were there.

BARBARA STARR, CNN PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT: Well, Miles, that base is very secure. By all accounts, this occurred at the outer security checkpoint. That is an area where all traffic, all people, entering and leaving the base are stopped and checked.

It can be quite a chokepoint, actually. Trucks line up, military vehicles, the Afghan workers, hundreds of them that work on the base every day. I have sat at that check point line. It's a very uncomfortable place to be, because that is when you are most vulnerable.

There's an Afghan village area just outside that gate, a lot of people milling about. I don't think we'd want to discuss any security arrangements for the vice president, but the question would have been, had he planned to go through that gate by vehicle, whether they would have cleared out the area, or they would have allowed that line of trucks and people that are always at that check point to stay there? That would have been a very vulnerable place. But the reporters traveling with the vice president are exactly correct. This gate is perhaps half a mile or more from the VIP area where Mr. Cheney was most likely staying. Quite a distance from the air field. There's a lot of security on Bagram. It's hard to see how the Taliban would have gotten close to the vice president -- Miles.

M. O'BRIEN: Barbara, let's talk more about the vice president's trip and his message. He was in Pakistan and spoke with the president there, Pervez Musharraf. And by all accounts delivered a very stern message to him about U.S. concerns that Pakistan is not doing enough to root out Al Qaeda and Taliban in those mountains near Afghanistan.

STARR: Absolutely. The vice president is the third top official to be in Pakistan in recent weeks. Defense Secretary Gates was there. General Abizaid was there. All delivering the same message to Pervez Musharraf: That the U.S. understands his delicate situation, but that he has to move against the Al Qaeda safe haven on that border.

The U.S. has strong evidence, officials say, that there are new training camps. There is money and organization of Al Qaeda re- emerging in that area, and the key concern, of course, is, does that money, organization and troops mean Al Qaeda is regrouping enough to launch another attack? Do they have that capability? That's the top concern. That's why they want Musharraf to move against that area -- Miles.

M. O'BRIEN: Barbara Starr at the Pentagon, thank you.


S. O'BRIEN: Washington's war over Iraq begins anew new today. The Democrats get their biggest chance to go head-to-head on the president's plan for Iraq. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, the Defense Secretary Robert Gates and the Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman General Peter Pace, all appear before a Senate Appropriations Committee later today.

At stake is the $100 billion the White House is seeking for Iraq. And this comes as two Senate Democrats, Delaware's Joe Biden and Michigan's Carl Levin, will unveil their plan to repeal and rewrite the 2002 authorization for the Iraq war.

Under their proposal, the role of the U.S. military in Iraq would be limited to training and counterterrorism. With the stated goal of withdrawing all U.S. troops not involved in the mission by March of 2008. CNN's Andrea Koppel is live for us this morning on Capitol Hill.

Andrea, good morning.


This is going to be the first chance for Biden and Levin to pretty much lay out that proposal for their colleagues behind closed doors when they hold their weekly meeting later today. It's also going to be the first chance for the cosponsors to get their finger on the pulse of the caucus to see how much support there is among Democrats for reauthorization resolution. In a preview of the kind of heated debate we could expect to see as soon as this week, on the senate floor, Republicans are arguing that to pass this resolution would be to tie the hands of commanders on the ground.


SEN. JOHN THUNE (R-SD): These are very, very troubling developments and proposals, particularly when you consider them in light of what the constitutional role of the Congress is, when it comes to these types of matters. Congress does not have the expertise, nor the constitutional authority to micro manage tactics in a war.


KOPPPEL: Now unlike the unsuccessful vote that we saw earlier this month on that nonbinding resolution that was opposing President Bush's plan to send thousands more troops to Iraq, which had the support of seven Republicans who broke with President Bush, it already appears, Soledad, that at least two of those Republicans, Minnesota's Norm Coleman and Chuck Hagel of Nebraska, are not likely to support it. That really doesn't bode well for this resolution at this stage.

S. O'BRIEN: No it certainly doesn't sound that way. No vote expected this week. When do you think it may make it to the floor for a debate and then a vote?

KOPPEL: This week they'll be debating, basically implementing the remaining recommendations of the 9/11 Commission. And if Republicans don't offer any Iraq related resolutions, what's likely to happen -- or amendments to that 9/11 resolution -- what's likely to happen is that it wouldn't come up for another couple of weeks when they debate the president's supplemental funding. That $100 billion that Condi Rice will be up here testifying about.

S. O'BRIEN: That's good. Well, all right, Andrea Koppel for us on the Hill. Thanks, Andrea.


M. O'BRIEN: Also happening this morning in eastern Sri Lanka. Tamil rebels accused of firing on helicopters carrying the American and Italian ambassadors; both ambassadors were hurt slightly.

President Bush getting ready to swear in John Negroponte as deputy secretary of State, Condoleezza Rice's chief deputy. That will happen late today. Negroponte is returning to diplomacy after serving as President Bush's first-ever director of national intelligence.

The jury goes back to work today in the Scooter Libby trial, the 11-member jury. One woman dismissed yesterday after revealing she had, or read, something over the weekend, having something to do with the trial. The judge opting not to activate an alternate, forcing the deliberations to start over. Libby is charged with lying to investigators looking into who leaked the name of a CIA agent to the press.

And it takes a licking: The price of a first class stamp may be going up 2 pennies, to 41 cents. But for the first time, the Postal Service is also considering a "forever stamp" that if purchased now would be valid no matter how high the rates might go up in the future.

S. O'BRIEN: That would be a good investment at this point.

Al Gore is firing back this morning, on critics who say he is not practicing what he was preaching in his documentary "An Inconvenient Truth." The day after Gore took home an Oscar for that movie, critics are charging that Gore's mansion in Nashville devours over 20 times the national average in kilowatt hours. The average electric bill is 1,200 bucks -- a month! $1,000 a month for the gas bill.

Spokeswoman says that Al Gore -- rather a spokeswoman for Al Gore told CNN that the Gores make up for all of that. The Gores purchase, she said, all their power through the local Green Power Switch program. It's 100 percent renewable power and they are in the midst of a renovation, which includes installing solar powered panels on their home, which will enable them to use less power.

M. O'BRIEN: Coming up, a powerful storm is hitting the West. Right now, it's making a bee line for the rest of the country. Rob Marciano will tell us what we can all expect.

Top Democrats divided over the war in Iraq. Can they find some common ground?

And a heavy price. Parents of a 200-pound, eight-year-old boy could lose custody today because of his weight. That's ahead on AMERICAN MORNING. The most news in the morning is on CNN.


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

Democrats go back to work today on a plan to block the president's war strategy. Republicans feel pretty sure that they can block any resolution on that. James Carville is a Democratic strategist and CNN political contributor. Frank Luntz is a Republican strategist, he's also the author of a new book called, "Words That Work."

Nice to see both of you, gentlemen. Thanks for talking with us.


And James, let's begin with you.


S. O'BRIEN: Midterm elections, many people say, were a referendum on the war in Iraq and yet when you look specifically at Democrats' positions on the war, they're in disarray, all over the place. There's not unity there, how big of a problem is there? CARVILLE: First of all, every Democrat but two in the House and one in the Senate opposed the surge. That's a strong amount of unity.

S. O'BRIEN: And that's where the unity ends.

CARVILLE: No, it doesn't, excuse me?

There are 45 Senate Democrats that are for Senator Levin's proposals, for a phased withdrawal. Every Democrat favors some withdrawal over a period of time. So, yes, there is some disagreement, but they are against the surge and they are for withdrawal over a period of time.

Now the essence of a quagmire, and Frank is a man that knows words, the essence of a quagmire is -- well, it's a quagmire. And you are sort of short on really good solutions here.

S. O'BRIEN: OK, but then, Frank, I'll send it to you. At the same time, the voters seemed to send a message which was -- do something. We've announced to the Republicans -- do something. Are they going to be satisfied with nonbinding resolutions that don't do something?

FRANK LUNTZ, REPUBLICAN STRATEGIST: That's the whole issue is that it seems like there's too much politics being played when people's lives are at stake.

A quagmire is an important word, but so is the word consequences. And the public looks at this and says they don't like where they are. James is right. They don't like where they are, where we are right now. But they also don't like the consequences of some of what the Democrats are offering.

You have some people who want to leave right now. Some people who want to leave a year from now. The Republicans, George Bush, doesn't want to be in Iraq forever, but the consequences of getting out right now, are just too damaging, too frightening for what we know would happen in Iraq should an immediate departure be forced on America.

S. O'BRIEN: We have certainly heard from Republicans who seem to be pushing the issue on Democrats that cutting funding for the troops, meaning not supporting the troops -- which if someone goes for that, that seems like political suicide. Not supporting the troops you will probably not get re-elected ever again, in your entire lifetime. Can Republicans just win on that official they keep pushing that?

LUNTZ: Look, there are no winners or losers. And it is strange for James and I to be here. But we both agree that we want to protect these people; that we want them to be able to do their jobs. We also -- I think we agree -- that getting rid of Saddam Hussein was better, not worse. The question now is, how quickly can we get out? What's the most effective way to get out? And how do we make sure that the troops have those things that they need to do the job that they need?

S. O'BRIEN: But sometimes those two things are contradictory.

Go ahead, James.

CARVILLE: Consequence is a very good word, Frank, and the consequences of an inept strategy, of the premise that the war is falling apart on us, having insufficient troops, have all come back to haunt us. And it's this president that needs to take responsibility for the mess that we are in.

And I certainly didn't think invading this country was a very good idea from the beginning, of that, I can assure you.

LUNTZ: But if that's the case and we look at the presidential candidates and this has worked its way. You listen to John Edwards. He has the courage to say he made a mistake. You hear Barack Obama who was against it from the beginning. I don't understand why Senator Clinton doesn't just say the words, I made a mistake. It doesn't make sense to me.

Senator Clinton, be courageous and tell people what you genuinely believe rather than playing politics.

CARVILLE: Any chance to attack Hillary, we'll just unleash on that. Actually, I think she has a very courageous thing. She said she'll get us out in 2008. She said knowing what she knows now, she obviously wouldn't have done that. But if we want to have a Hillary hate fest here, we can do that, too.

S. O'BRIEN: Well, you know --

LUNTZ: It's not a hate fest. It's about accountability.

S. O'BRIEN: That's actually good question. Certainly not a hate fest, but I think Frank is raising a good point, which is there are many people who say, OK, either your vote was a mistake or it wasn't a mistake. Decide.

CARVILLE: You know, what, Soledad. She's addressed that any number of times. And she said, if you can't deal with it, then vote for somebody else. I like that answer. You go, girl. That's a very good answer. How many times is she going to answer it? If I knew what I knew now, I wouldn't have done it, and I got a plan to get out and that's what it is.

LUNTZ: But separate this from politics. If you ask the voters of Iowa and New Hampshire, and I've had a chance to go there, and do a number of these Dial (ph) sessions. And these are people who support Hillary Clinton. They actually want her to be candid. They want her to speak from the heart, rather than from the head. They don't want her to use sound bytes. There are Republicans who now said they made a mistake. Why can't Senator Clinton, when so many members of her party are frustrated with the direction. James, it's OK to say --

CARVILLE: You know, Frank, Frank --

LUNTZ: It's OK to say she made a mistake. We're human beings. We're not perfect. CARVILLE: First of all, let me go back and repeat, because apparently people are having trouble understanding what I'm saying. Senator Clinton has said if she knew what she knew now she wouldn't do it, and if you can't deal with her position on the war, then vote for somebody else.

But every time something comes out, it's always, let's go out and attack Hillary today to see what we can do. I think her position makes imminent sense. It wouldn't be a position that I didn't agree with her vote to begin the war, but what does it make? She's where she is now. The country is where she is. She has a good plan to get out of there. You know what, she doesn't make decisions frivolously and I'm sure that she gave a lot of thought to her vote.

LUNTZ: Here's to --

S. O'BRIEN: That's going to be our final word on that, gentlemen, because we're out of time.

LUNTZ: OK, you got it. You got it.

S. O'BRIEN: Frank Luntz and James Carville, joining us this morning. Thank you, gentlemen.

CARVILLE: Thank you, Soledad.

S. O'BRIEN: Miles.

M. O'BRIEN: It's about a quarter past the hour, Rob Marciano is at the CNN Weather Center this morning, in for Chad.


S. O'BRIEN: How about this for a big baby? Brand new delivery at the St. Louis Zoo. I'm kind of cheating because it's a baby elephant, 236 pounds. She's the second Asian elephant born at the zoo in just seven months. She's 34 and a half inches tall. No name yet. She's staying close to her mother, Rani (ph). Her grandmother, Ellie, and her aunt, which is seven-month-old Malia. Cute.

M. O'BRIEN: I guess she's going to stick around for a while. She brought her trunk.

S. O'BRIEN: Oh, you know, must you? Must you?

M. O'BRIEN: I'm sorry, I must, yeah.

S. O'BRIEN: OK, other side of the spectrum. No, you have to shush.

This one just born, three ounces. Look at that. Oh, so cute. Baby panda born on Friday in China. A female cub. Vets say she's healthy. Her delivery sets three records. Her mother, Ji Ni, is the oldest in the breeding program, 13 years old to give birth. The longest pregnancy, 324 days. And the earliest --

M. O'BRIEN: Huh, 324 days for that? It's not even cute. Give me the elephant.

S. O'BRIEN: It's cute. And the earliest born in the year, and 19 pandas born at the center last year, and 17 of them survived. So, really their odds have been improving.

M. O'BRIEN: The gestation period, to weight ratio, for pandas is astronomical. It's amazing.

S. O'BRIEN: It's amazing. I thought my pregnancies all lasted like 324 days.

M. O'BRIEN: It just seemed like it.

S. O'BRIEN: At least.

M. O'BRIEN: Coming up, a group of states is working together to curb greenhouse gases. Ali Velshi is "Minding Your Business" with that.

Plus, an unbelievable find. Some say, really unbelievable. Is it really the family tomb of Jesus? We'll take a look ahead, on AMERICAN MORNING. Stay with us.


M. O'BRIEN: Welcome back. Most news in the morning, right here.

If it is true, it undermines the very foundation of Christianity. If it is not, it could be the biggest hoax of all time. We're talking about a cluster of tombs in Jerusalem that some are saying contain the remains of Jesus, his wife, and son. No, we're not reading a chapter from the "Da Vinci Code." CNN's Tom Foreman with more.



TOM FOREMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice over): It's an idea worthy of a Hollywood spectacular, that the tomb of Jesus has been found. And that's the point of the new documentary from James Cameron, the director of "Titanic."

JAMES CAMERON, FILM DIRECTOR: To a layman's eye, it seemed pretty darn compelling. And as a documentary filmmaker, I was very, very attracted to this story. I said, I think literally, this is the biggest archaeology story of the century.

FOREMAN: But Father David O'Connell of Catholic University believes something else.


FOREMAN: Skeptics and scholars are hammering this claim. First, on the geography. The tomb was discovered near where Jesus is believed to have been crucified in Jerusalem. But that doesn't explain why many other members of his family would also be buried in the same place, more than 60 miles from their home.

O'CONNELL: The Jesus of history is often referred to as Jesus of Nazareth. Joseph, the father, is from Nazareth. Why would they be buried in Jerusalem? It doesn't make sense.

FOREMAN: Second, the odds. Team Cameron says caskets from the tomb bear names. Jesus, Joseph, Mary, Mary Magdalene. You find all those names in one tomb by accident, they say, defies probability.

(On camera): The skeptics, however, say those names were common back then. These tombs may have held hundreds of people. And they question the interpretation of the tomb markings anyway.

(Voice over): And third, the DNA. The movie and novel "The Da Vinci Code" suggests that Jesus and Mary Magdalene were secretly married, with a child. And astoundingly, Cameron's researchers insist one of the caskets says it contains the son of Jesus. They say they were able to take DNA from the supposed Jesus box and the one from Mary Magdalene.

SIMCHA JACOBOVICI, DOCUMENTARIAN: The DNA did not match. The forensic archaeologists concluded they must be husband and wife.

FOREMAN: Like the Shroud of Turin, this tomb has been surrounded with questions since it was discovered in 1980.

DARRELL BOCK, DALLAS THEOLOGICAL SEMINARY: There are a lot of questions here, but the answers do not point in the direction that these are the bones of Jesus.

FOREMAN: Believing this is, or isn't, the tomb of Jesus still comes down to faith. Tom Foreman, CNN, Washington.


S. O'BRIEN: Compelling theory, just might not be true.

So how did Wall Street's biggest buyout deal become environmentally friendly? It's 25 minutes past the hour, which means it's time for Ali Velshi who is "Minding Your Business".

Good morning.


This was the deal to buy out the big Texas utility, TXU. Let me show you how this deal did actually became environmentally friendly. It was the biggest deal announced, but before announcing the deal to buy out TXU, the buyers got together with a couple of environmental groups and won their support.

How did they do that? They announced they'd scrap plans to build eight out of 11 coal-fired plants that TXU had planned to build. That was going to save 56 million tons of carbon emissions a year.

It's a trend that's catching on. If you want to be as green as TXU, you can become part of a more consumer trend we've been following. You offset your carbon footprint. In other words, you pay money to support some activity that neutralizes the carbon emissions that you personally contribute to.

Some examples of that include driving a car, using disposable diapers, traveling by plane. A number of small companies have started up. You can pay them money to undertake activities that offset your pollution, basically. Critics say it might have the effect of actually allowing people to go on with their energy sucking behavior, with a clear conscience. But it is catching on.

And we've been reporting this morning that Al Gore's big house is partially green. Gore produced bills that showed he purchased 108 blocks of green power for each of the past 3 months. It's worth about 432 bucks a month extra, he paid for to use solar or other energy sources coming into his house.

One group says that's about the equivalent of recycling 2.5 million aluminum cans, or more than a quarter million pounds of newspapers. So it might be a trend that folks want to take advantage of, Soledad.

S. O'BRIEN: All right, Ali, thank you.

Top stories are coming up next. New pictures coming in from the attack on the air base in Bagram over night. Happened during the vice president's visit. We'll bring them to you as soon as we get them in.

And the race to '08 and an unusual challenge for Senator Barack Obama. We'll tell you how he's fighting for votes from African- Americans.

And drastic measures. Parents of obese children, could they loose custody of a 200-pound little boy, who is just 8 years old? He's now at the center of a custody fight.

And we know what garlic does to your breath, but what does it do for your heart? New research on garlic, straight ahead.


MILES O'BRIEN, CNN ANCHOR, AMERICAN MORNING: Developing story now, a suicide bomb blast rocks a U.S. base in Afghanistan. Vice President Dick Cheney was inside at the time.

SOLEDAD O'BRIEN, CNN ANCHOR, AMERICAN MORNING: Heavy price. The mother of a 200-pound eight-year-old boy could lose custody today because of his weight.

M. O'BRIEN: And separating fact from fiction. A new take on garlic and the popular claim that it can lower your cholesterol on this AMERICAN MORNING.

S. O'BRIEN: Good morning. Welcome back, everybody. It's Tuesday, nearly fell off of the set there, February 27th. I'm Soledad -- it's the high heels. M. O'BRIEN: We'll get the carpenter in here and fix that for you. I'm Miles O'Brien. We're glad you with us.

S. O'BRIEN: Let's begin with what's happening this morning starting in Afghanistan. The Taliban claiming responsibility for a suicide bombing, happened outside a base during a visit from the Vice President Dick Cheney. At least three people died in the blast this morning. One of the victims is reportedly an American. Vice President Dick Cheney never in any danger, we're told. He was about a half mile away from the explosion.

In Iraq, there's more evidence that Iran could be supplying Shiite insurgents around Baghdad. U.S. troops have uncovered a huge stockpile of weapons, including items they say are manufactured in Iran. The weapons are capable of piercing truck armor, are similar to devices that have killed U.S. troops in the past.

The wars in Iraq and Afghanistan tying the military's hands when it comes to potential trouble in the future. A new Pentagon report says there is a significant risk that the U.S. would be unable to fully respond to another military threat right now. Pentagon hopes to ease the problem by adding more troops to the army and to the Marines and securing more money for equipment.

Back to work for the jury today in the Scooter Libby trial, one juror light. She was dismissed on Monday after revealing that she had seen or read something over the weekend having to do with the trial. Eleven jurors will now decide Libby's fate. Libby is charged with lying to investigators looking into just who leaked the name of a CIA operative to the press. Miles.

M. O'BRIEN: Let's get you caught up on the presidential campaign trail now. He's not even an official candidate yet but John McCain is picking up some big political firepower. His Senate colleague from Virginia, John Warner, endorsing McCain for president. Warner says McCain's military experience and leadership are essential qualities for our next president. McCain is expected to formally announce his candidacy next month.

Rudy Giuliani is explaining his political conversion from Democrat to independent and of course now Republican. Giuliani quoted Winston Churchill who said and we paraphrase, if you're not a liberal when you are 20, you don't have a heart. But if you're not a conservative at 40, you don't have a brain. Giuliani says Republicans understand the economy better.

No love lost between them. Two Democratic front-runners appearing together and will cross that bridge when they come to it. Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama both slated to appear at the remembrance of the 1965 Selma to Montgomery voting rights march. It's the first time anyone can recall the two major candidates attending the annual event at the same time. Soledad.

S. O'BRIEN: You would think that African-Americans would be warm to Barack Obama, but his candidacy might be running into an age-old question, which is, is he black enough? CNN senior political correspondent Candy Crowley takes a look for us this morning.


GEORGE WILSON, HOST, GW ON THE HILL: We certainly want to talk about whether or not race is a factor.

CANDY CROWLEY, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): George Wilson, host of XM radio's "GW on the Hill" hears it all the time.

WILSON: Is America ready for a black president? And the overall consensus at least from my callers is that America is not ready for an African-American president.

CROWLEY: Even at a rally for Barack Obama, you hear it.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I'm being honest, no. It's bad that America is not ready for that, but I don't think they are.

CROWLEY: Polls show whites are more likely than blacks to say America is ready for a black president, which may be part of why much of the African-American company is cool to Obama.

WILSON: When white America has embraced a candidate as they have Barack Obama, there's a certain amount of distrust that goes with this among a number of African-Americans.

CROWLEY: In the black community, Hillary Clinton polls 15 to 20 points better than Obama, the benefit of both name recognition and deep Clinton roots in the community. Obama suffers, in part, because voters are not familiar with him and there is doubt whether the son of a white woman from Kansas, a black man from Kenya raised in Hawaii and educated in elite schools can relate to the black American experience. This has been described as not black enough, a notion and a phrase that civil rights leader John Lewis rejects.

REP. JOHN LEWIS, (D) GEORGIA: I don't think he has any of the hang-ups that a lot of people that are victims of segregation and racial discrimination tend to have. I think he's free of it. And he's running as an American citizen.

CROWLEY: Forty-two years ago, Lewis was beaten in the voting rights march from Selma to Montgomery, a day which became known as bloody Sunday. Now 43 African-Americans serve on Capitol Hill. Thousands of black politicians serve nationwide.

LEWIS: In the depth of my heart, I believe it is possible for Senator Obama to become president of the United States. I think the American people are prepared to take that great leap. They are prepared to lay down the burden of race.

CROWLEY: Time has made Congressman John Lewis a true believer. Candy Crowley, CNN, Washington.


S. O'BRIEN: All the day's political news is available anytime day or night at Miles?

M. O'BRIEN: He is eight years old and he weighs in at 200 pounds. And now authorities are weighing whether to take him away from his family. At a hearing today, social workers will determine if Connor McCready's mom is loving him to death. CNN's Alphonso van Marsh joining us from London with the story. Alfonso, hello.

ALPHONSO VAN MARSH, CNN CORRESPONDENT: That's right Miles. At the surface, it seems like a story about one child's struggle with obesity, but there are much larger implications. Does the British government have the right to possibly take a child away from his mother simply because of what she feeds him?


Snack time at Connor McCready's house and weighing in at around 200 pounds, Connor is relishing every bite. A chicken drumstick may seem typical for a young kid, but Connor is just eight years old, almost four times the average weight for a kid his age. Connor's mother says she's obliged to answer her son's constant demands for more food but, British authorities say they are very concerned that the diet he's being fed could seriously damage his health. And now they are considering putting the child into care until he loses more weight. The implication, neglect.

NICOLA McKEOWN, MOTHER OF 200-LB 8-YR OLD: If I neglected Connor, he would be a skinny kid, a skinny little runt?

VAN MARSH: On a typical day, Connor starts with a bowl of chocolate cereal, followed by some toast with processed meat. Lunchtime means a burger and fries and sausages or a pizza, a whole pizza. It's fast food takeaway for dinner and toss in four bags of potato chips. And Connor's family admits that in addition to all of that, he scarfs down cookies and other snacks about every 20 minutes.

DR. MICHAEL MARKIEWICZ, PEDIATRICIAN: They love him. They actually love him to death. Literally, in fact, not saying they can't care for him, but what they are doing is, through the way they are treating him and feeding him, they are slowly killing him.


VAN MARSH: Now we understand that Connor's mother and grandmother will be meeting with health officials, with social workers, even nurses specializing in obesity as well as a police officer. And they'll also be an official from Connor's school. He's missed a lot of class due to health problems and due to bullying. Miles?

M. O'BRIEN: Alfonso van Marsh in London, thank you very much.

That story sound familiar? It is. Remember this girl you are about to see, Anamarie Regino (ph). She was three years old and weighed 124 pounds. The state of New Mexico took custody of her only for a couple of months. This was all about six, seven years ago. Now Anamarie is a 5'5", 250-pound fourth grader. Despite that, we're told she is apparently otherwise healthy. There she is. She's taking a drug which usually is given to diabetics that apparently slows down her weight gain. Her parents continue to insist that overeating is not her problem. They say she's just a big girl.

S. O'BRIEN: Wow. Coming up this morning, it's not easy being green apparently. Al Gore's Oscar glow is under a little fire this morning. We'll explain. Plus another legal twist in the circus that's been surrounding the death of Anna Nicole Smith. The final resting place is not yet final. We'll explain ahead on AMERICAN MORNING. The most news in the morning is right here on CNN.


M. O'BRIEN: The most news in the morning here on CNN. New images just in, U.S. medics trying to save the life of an Afghan man, one of dozens injured in a suicide bomb blast outside an American base this morning. Vice President Dick Cheney was inside that base at the time of the explosion. He wasn't hurt. Moments ago, Reuters reported the vice president said he believed it was aimed at undermining the government of Afghanistan.

And Volkswagen is recalling 790,000 Golf, Jetta and Beetle cars because of problems with a brake light switch. Soledad?

S. O'BRIEN: Happening in America this morning, more twists and turns in the Anna Nicole Smith case. An appeals court is ruling that Smith's body cannot be moved to the Bahamas until a challenge by Smith's mother is heard. Smith's mother wants Anna Nicole buried in Texas.

Singer Bobby Brown is in trouble again, this time in Massachusetts over $19,000 in missed child support payments owed to his ex-wife Kim Ward. Brown was arrested last night outside of a Canton high school where he had gone to watch his daughter take part in a cheerleading competition. A judge says Brown will sit in jail until the money is paid.

In California, a $2.35 million baseball card. There it is right there. 1909 Honus Wagner tobacco card sold for a record $2.35 million, anonymous southern California buyer. The card was once owned by hockey star Wayne Gretzky and it is called by collector's the holy grail of baseball cards.

M. O'BRIEN: Why is it that that Honus Wagner card is the one? I wonder. We'll have to get into that a little later.

Al Gore is firing back this morning on critics who say he's not practicing what he preaches in the documentary "An Inconvenient Truth." A day after Gore took home an Oscar for that movie, critics are claiming he's a hypocrite. Gore's posh mansion in Nashville devours over 20 times the national average. The average electric bill there, $1200 a month. But a spokeswoman for Gore told CNN the Gores make up for all that. The Gores purchase all of their power through the local green power switch system. She says it is 100 percent renewable power. We're also told the Gores are installing solar panels for the roof of their home. About quarter of the hour now. Rob Marciano at the CNN weather center in for Chad Myers and he's looking at the west coast where this storm is just going to rake its way across the continental United States, right?

ROB MARCIANO, CNN METEOROLOGIST: Quite a bit of power Miles, you're right about that and some moisture with it slamming into California, Oregon and Washington. The entire west coast is getting hit with this. The mountains, as you can imagine at the higher elevation seeing quite a bit of snow. We have video for you from the Tahoe area, (INAUDIBLE) to be exact, in through the higher elevations of California. You can't even see. Traffic is stopped on I-90 over Donner Pass yesterday, two feet of snow in the last 24 hours in many spots. You couple that with this past weekend's storm and that's another two feet, 4 to 4 1/2 feet in places just to the west-southwest of Kirkwood, California and the snow keeps on coming down.

Here's the 24-hour, 48-hour forecast. I should say it does drive into Utah, it gets into Colorado and then beyond that it taps into the plains and just like the storm that came through last weekend, this one tap moisture from the Gulf of Mexico, kind of a complex weather situation, but the long and short of it is it will drive cold air from the north, pick up warm moist air from the south and between where those meet, severe thunderstorms are likely to break out. So extreme weather is possible, not only with the snow, but during the day tomorrow and then again on Thursday as thunderstorms begin to break out with this and we could see some hail and maybe some tornadoes with this. We'll keep you posted on that.

Meanwhile, the snowstorm that just doesn't want to go away. It's across the northeast, not a whole lot of action with this but it just keeps on coming in spots. Enough to dust the roadways, but not enough to keep the kids home from school. So not making everybody happy. Connecticut and Rhode Island seeing the brunt of this and western Mass, snowfall right now in Springfield, Massachusetts. Back to you guys in New York.

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

MARCIANO: You bet.

S. O'BRIEN: Ahead this morning, some news for your health. If you are taking a garlic pill for your cholesterol, you might want to stop. We've got new research to fill you in on. Plus that aspirin a day recommended for women might not be such a good idea if you're a guy. We'll tell you why. Those stories straight ahead on AMERICAN MORNING, back in a moment.


S. O'BRIEN: Welcome back, everybody. The most news in the morning is right here on CNN. At least three people are dead after a suicide bombing happened outside a U.S. base in Afghanistan during a visit from the Vice President Dick Cheney. Cheney was nowhere near this morning's explosion. And Democratic Senators Joe Biden and Carl Levin are expected to unveil a new plan today to start winding down the U.S. mission in Iraq. Miles?

M. O'BRIEN: In health news this morning, if your doctor is telling you to take an aspirin every day, keep on doing it, but listen to this. Aspirin, ibuprofen and acetaminophen can raise a man's blood pressure. That sounds bad doesn't it? Results from a news study, but doctors say the benefits of that daily aspirin still outweigh the risks. Keep on taking that pill, guys.

Regular, strenuous exercise may cut the risk of some breast cancers in women. I don't know about boxing, but anyway, regular strenuous exercise. That's according to a new study in the "Archives of Internal Medicine" that says running, swimming and aerobics can reduce the chances of early and invasive stage breast cancer.

And you think college kids are self-centered? You might be right. A new study shows students are more narcissistic than they were 25 years ago. Researchers say that's bad news because narcissists are more likely to be dishonest, over controlling and violent. Scientists will present their findings today in San Diego at the workshop on the generation gap. Who knew there was such a workshop? I guess that's a generation gap issue.

And a new study about garlic and garlic supplements and whether it really, really helps lower your cholesterol is out with morning. Medical correspondent Elizabeth Cohen joining us from the CNN center in Atlanta with more on that. Good morning Elizabeth.

ELIZABETH COHEN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Good morning, Miles. Ancient Egyptians used garlic to treat heart disease more than 3,000 years ago. In modern times, people flock to health food stores looking for garlic supplements. They are one of the best selling supplements available in health food stores. Here's the question. Does garlic really lower cholesterol because that's one of the claims that people sometimes make about garlic.

Stanford researchers decided to put this claim to the test. They said, does garlic really lower cholesterol and guess what they found out. They found out that it does not, that taking garlic supplements or eating raw garlic did not lower bad cholesterol and, in addition, it didn't raise or didn't affect at all good cholesterol. And it also didn't lower triglycerides. So basically, it really didn't do anything for your cholesterol. Now this is not the final word on garlic and cholesterol. This study had fewer than 200 participants, but it is an indication if you are taking garlic because you think it's going to lower your cholesterol, you might want to think about doing something else like changing your diet or getting a prescription. Miles.

M. O'BRIEN: So what is garlic good for aside from making your food taste good?

COHEN: There is some indication, there are some studies that show that garlic might be good for other things. For example it might be good at lowering blood pressure. It might work as an anti- inflammatory. That's a good thing. It might possibly lower the risk of cancer and it might fight infection. The jury is still out. Believe it or not, doctors really are studying this now. Garlic is under the microscope in many places.

M. O'BRIEN: So if you are taking these supplements should you stop?

COHEN: No. The experts that we talked to said look, if you are taking garlic and you think it's doing some good for you, go ahead and take it. It's not going to do you any harm. But you certainly don't want to think that it's going to fix a serious health problem. If you have serious high blood pressure, don't think that garlic is going to take care of it. You need to go to your doctor and see about doing other things that are a more sure bet than taking garlic.

M. O'BRIEN: OK. Thank you very much. Medical correspondent Elizabeth Cohen. Soledad.

S. O'BRIEN: Much more happening on AMERICAN MORNING, a deadly attack to tell you about at a U.S. base in Afghanistan and new reaction coming in from Vice President Dick Cheney who was inside that base at the time of the attack.

Plus, a claim about the tomb of Jesus. It is certainly a test of faith. We'll explain. You're watching AMERICAN MORNING. The most news in the morning is right here on CNN.


M. O'BRIEN: Tickets, you don't need no stinkin' tickets if you are flying on Northwest Airlines, well paper tickets at least. It's a few minutes before the top of the hour. Ali Velshi is here to tell us about how the e-ticket revolution has finally got to the point where, really, it's going to be an anachronism.

ALI VELSHI, CNN CORRESPONDENT: I didn't know this. Let's talk about New Year's Eve for a second. It sounds like it's a long ways away, but this one is going to be (INAUDIBLE) the deadline, the worldwide deadline for the elimination of paper tickets. I thought airlines were switching to e-tickets because it was more efficient than paper. I didn't know that there was an actual mandated thing going on. It's about cost savings. A paper ticket costs 10 times as much as an e-ticket when you count the printers and paper and ink. That adds up to about $3 billion a year in the industry. Northwest is going to become the first airline to switch over completely. It says it's already almost there, 99.9 percent for domestic ticketing, 97 percent for international travel. Why? Because Northwest charges a whopping 50 bucks if you insist on a paper ticket.

M. O'BRIEN: That would incentivize.

VELSHI: That would do it. In fact, all sorts of airlines and some of those virtual travel agencies charge you for a paper ticket. Only .1 of 1 percent of travelers do use paper tickets. The only time I've ever used them is because I've been forced to when I've made a booking and someone says, this has to be a paper ticket. And then you get charged for it. Now a few problems with paper tickets. They used to be used to transfer to another airline if your flight was overbooked or canceled.

M. O'BRIEN: They're like currency.

VELSHI: It's like currency because the airline that booked you that takes you would submit the paper ticket to the original airline for reimbursement. Nowadays they don't all take -- Northwest says all of its partners do, but I have had this problem where I had to be rebooked and one airline can't find the information. There's nothing to trace.

M. O'BRIEN: Interesting.

VELSHI: One assumes by the end of the year that should largely change.

M. O'BRIEN: Hopefully they'll work it out, but overall it's certainly much more convenient. You walk in, you do the kiosk.

VELSHI: Nothing to lose in my case.

M. O'BRIEN: That's exactly in my case. Thank you Ali. See you in a bit.

Some of the top stories are coming up ahead including the most popular right now on The Supreme Court weighs police action in 100-mile-per-hour chase is the headline if you can imagine it. For the first time, the high court is hearing a case about a police chase. Take a look at this one. This is the case in question. And the question -- the suspect is accusing the cops of undue force. He was left a quadriplegic after this 100-mile-an-hour chase. He claims that police escalated the whole situation.

Also from, U.S. food inspections are lagging. The Food and Drug Administration conducting just half the food inspections it did three years ago, even though we've heard so much lately about tainted peanut butter and contaminated spinach. Apparently they need to have a little more inspectors on the job.

Coming up at the top of the hour, Rob Marciano is at the CNN weather center. Rob, what's the big story this morning?

MARCIANO: A couple of stories. First on the east coast, Miles, a snowstorm that just doesn't want to go away, not a whole lot of snow with it. Schools for the most part are in session, but roadways in some spots are slick and some snow showers and flurries are in the forecast there and the bigger story, this storm coming into California, what it means for extreme weather in between. Details coming up. The next hour of AMERICAN MORNING starts right now.


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