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British Marines and Sailors Arrested by Iran; Poisoned Pet Food; Tornadoes in the Midwest; New Jersey Radio Shock Jocks Talk of Illegal Immigrants; Sex Slave Trade in Asia

Aired March 24, 2007 - 09:00   ET


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's a traumatic brain injury, and so we've given him the best shot that he has to recover.
GUPTA: It's incredible stuff. See more of what goes on in the OR and in the personal lives of the residents by watching the special "Grady's Anatomy" this weekend at 8:00 p.m. and 11:00 p.m. Eastern.

Now of course, tune in every weekend to "House Call," where we're helping you live a healthier life. It's our goal. Thanks for watching. I'm Dr. Sanjay Gupta. Stay tuned now for more news on CNN.

T.J. HOLMES, CNN ANCHOR, CNN SATURDAY MORNING: From the CNN Center in Atlanta, good morning to you all. I'm T.J. Holmes, and this is CNN SATURDAY MORNING.

NGUYEN: Good morning, everybody. I'm Betty Nguyen. We want to thank you for starting your day with us.

HOLMES: Well disputed waters, is diplomatic trouble. Iran seizes 15 British marines. And just within the last hour, new developments to tell you about. We're live in Tehran.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: How can you call this La Cucaracha and it not be racist?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Well we didn't mean it with any offence. The name of this to me is irrelevant. It's what the program is, and the program is to get rid of illegal immigrants because they're a danger to our country.

NGUYEN: But here is a radio campaign that is really raising some eyebrows. Public service or just plain racism? These guys want their listeners to turn in illegal immigrants.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We're not interested, and we've told you that repeatedly. We've told you we're not interested every day you call. And you continue to call.

HOLMES: Pushed into a bad loan. Are consumers or the lenders to blame for the nation's foreclosure spike? CNN's personal finance editor Gerri Willis gives you both sides of the story in today's "Open House."

NGUYEN: We do have some new developments this hour in a diplomatic dispute involving Iran, and 15 British sailors and marines. An Iranian news agency report says the British troops have "confessed to straying in Tehran's territorial waters." Britain insists they were in an Iraqi waters. Middle East correspondent Aneesh Raman joins us now from Tehran with the latest on this. What have you learned so far today, Aneesh?

ANEESH RAMAN, CNN MIDDLE EAST CORRESPONDENT: Betty, good morning. That confession, word of it came from a top Iranian military official saying that the 15 British marines and sailors had confessed to an act of, in Iran's words, blatant aggression, trespassing into Iranian waters. We also understand today from Iranian state-run news services that the 15 British personnel had been moved to Tehran for questioning. They are safe, according to Iranian officials, but no word on when they will be released.

The British government through the ministry of defense is maintaining that its personnel were in Iraqi, not Iranian waters, when they were seized by members of Iran's elite revolutionary guard yesterday. Also the British government urgently trying to get the safe return of their personnel. CNN understands that they are putting pressure on local governments within the Middle East to try and make that happen. Now, just to remind our viewers what took place yesterday morning that sparked what is emerging is a tense standoff.

It happened around 10:00 a.m. local time in Iraq. A waterway that is called to the Iraqis and Iranians a different name. It is a river that flows into the northern part of the Persian Gulf. In certain areas south of Basra, it is itself the border between Iran and Iraq. So you can understand why there is some confusion on the waters in terms of which side you are on. Yesterday morning the British military was out patrolling the waters as they do at the request of the Iraqi government for smuggled goods. They found a cargo ship, they boarded it and they checked it. They were leaving and the 15 personnel went up to six boats when Iran's revolutionary guard came took them to the Iranian side of -- in the Tehran water and then subsequently, we understand to Tehran. Again, no word on when they will be released, but this is continuing to be a tense standoff for Iran at what is already a very sensitive time for this country, Betty.

NGUYEN: No doubt. But Aneesh, at least once before, in 2004, there was somewhat of a similar incident. Talk to us about that.

RAMAN: Yes there was. June 2004, pretty much in this exact same area, eight British military personnel were taken by the Iranian revolutionary guard for the same offense, for passing into Iranian waters. They were held for three days, during which they were broadcast on Iranian television blind-folded and confessing to having passed into Iranian waters. The British then, as they do now, contended that they were in fact in Iraqi waters. The Iranians then as they did then, contend that they were in Iranian waters. The hope is if the past is any predictor, the military personnel in custody now will be released in a matter of days, if not weeks.

NGUYEN: All right. CNN's Aneesh Raman joining us live from Tehran today, if there are any developing reports they will be coming straight to you, thank you, Aneesh. HOLMES: He gave up a pro football career to fight in Afghanistan and he was killed by friendly fire. And this morning we're now getting new developments in the Pat Tillman story. According to the "Associated Press," a Pentagon investigation will recommend that nine officers be held accountable for mistakes following Tillman's death. That includes up to four generals. For weeks, the army told Tillman's family he died in an ambush in April of 2004. However, dozens of soldiers knew he had been killed by friendly fire.

NGUYEN: Well, this morning there are new questions, new controversy in the firing of those federal prosecutors. A late-night revelation once again puts embattled Attorney General Alberto Gonzales right in the spotlight. The justice department reveals Gonzales discussed the dismissals in a meeting held in late November, and that could contradict his claim that he was out of the loop on the firings. Critics from both parties have called for Gonzales to resign or be fired. They say the federal prosecutors' firings were motivated by partisan politics.

HOLMES: At least 15 cats and a dog dead? Apparently they have been poisoned. Some scientists now say they have found rat poison in samples of pet food from that massive Menu pet food recall. So now the big question everybody's asking how exactly did it get there? CNN's Stan Nuremberger reports for CNN.


STAN NURENBERGER, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice over): More than a dozen dead animals later, and exactly one week after the announcement of a massive pet food recall, one possible culprit revealed.

PATRICK HOOKER, NY STATE AGRICULTURE COMMISSIONER: A collaborative effort between the New York State Animal Health Diagnostic Center at Cornell University and the New York State Food Laboratory identified aminopterin, which is a toxic chemical --

NURENBERGER: A chemical found in rat poison. Researchers say high levels of it was found in samples of recalled cat food and by manufacturers menu foods. Food made by the company is believed to have killed at least 16 cats and dogs, many of them suffered from kidney failure. One of the victims was this dog, Princess, a bullmastiff that died suddenly after eating IAMS brands Select Bites one of 95 brands of gravy style dog and cat food yanked off store shelves. Pet owners have filed lawsuits.

SANDY BOBB, SUING MENU FOODS: Sick to my stomach that how a company like that could, you know -- where is the quality control? How did something like this happen?

NURENBERGER: A question Menu Foods says it is determined to answer.

PAUL K. HENDERSON, PRESIDENT, MENU FOODS: How did this substance get in to our products? At this stage, we don't know. Our immediate next steps will be to begin testing all of the suspect raw materials with the goal of quickly identifying the means through which this substance entered our supply chain.

NURENBERG: Stan Nurenberger, CNN, Atlanta


NGUYEN: At least 16 people are hurt, more than a dozen tornadoes ripped through eastern New Mexico yesterday. Look at this. The worst damage in Logan and Clovis. Powerful storms packing some 13 tornadoes, damaged buildings, sent power lines flying and flooded streets. Some two dozen mobile homes were destroyed. At least five people are hospitalized in critical condition because of those storms.

HOLMES: And Bonnie Schneider here with us, other folks in other parts of the country are going to be kind of under the gun today as well, is that right?

BONNIE SCHNEIDER, CNN METEOROLOGIST: That is right. We are definitely looking at that and we also have those numerous tornado reports, 15 and if you look closely at this board here this is from the Storm Prediction Center, most of the tornadoes actually happen in a very small area. You saw some of the video, and this is in eastern New Mexico, right on the border with Texas. Let's take a walk over here and I can show you the set-up of how things came to be and what we can expect for today. We have a strong area of persistent storm systems working their way from the west to the east along Oklahoma's border there all the way into Texas. This is the set-up yesterday, where we saw the tornadoes break out in Logan and in Clovis.

But here's what's happening right now. Our low pressure is exiting New Mexico and working its way into Colorado. And as it does, things are going to change dramatically. We're looking at a lot of heavy rain ahead of the system here. We're seeing it right now over parts of Kansas. And this is where the weather could get rocky later today in terms of thunderstorms and hail and strong winds. But look what's happening on the back half of this storm. This low is pulling down the colder air behind it. So we're looking at a spring snowstorm for the front range of Colorado. We could see as much as 18 inches of snow before it's all said and done. That's why there is a winter storm warning west of Denver in the mountains and the foothills, not in Denver itself. We're just looking at rain there. Higher elevations, though, you'll see heavy snow, blowing snow through Pueblo, and then watch out for flooding over the Panhandle of Oklahoma and north Texas once again today, as that moisture pushes to the east. So a lot happening as we transition, even though we're in spring, we're still looking at some winter weather.

Betty and T.J.

NGUYEN: Yeah, people need to be on the watch today for the storms. Thank you, Bonnie.

HOLMES: Human sex trafficking. The number is staggering here. Mostly women and children are the victims. Anderson Cooper takes us to Southeast Asia. That's when we return.

VERONICA DE LA CRUZ, CNN.COM: And good morning to you. I'm Veronica De La Cruz. What are people clicking on this morning at I have the list of the hottest stories. That's next from the dot-com desk.

But first, a preview of today's "Open House" with Gerri Willis.

GERRI WILLIS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Coming up at 9:30 a.m. Eastern a special edition of "Open House" from Washington, DC. the mortgage meltdown has finally hit capital hill. We are here to cover the first hearing on the collapse of the sub prime sector and to tell you how your loan might be affected.

Plus, how to raise your credit score and lower your taxes. That's "Open House," the show that saves you money, 9:30 a.m. Eastern right here on CNN.


HOLMES: Well, you just know you're going to get people talking and create a bit of a buzz when the subject is immigration. Plenty of opinions out there about it, but there is a new controversy over the issue, stirred up by two New Jersey shock jocks. CNN's Jim Acosta has the story.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: 3:36, Jersey guys, center of the storm again.

JIM ACOSTA, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice over): When radio shock jocks Craig Carton and Ray Rossi, aka, the Jersey Guys, sound off on the issue of illegal immigration, they do it in their usually take no prisoner style.

CRAIG CARTON, "THE NEW JERSEY GUYS:" If you are here illegally, you are breaking the law.


CARTON: No better, no worse than a guy that robs a liquor store or the guy that waits to case your house out and rob you of your belongings. You are a criminal.

ACOSTA: And they don't stop at calling undocumented workers criminals. The Jersey guys are urging their audience to report anyone who even looks illegal to immigration officials, using what they consider a catchy name to publicize their campaign.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: La Cuca -- what is it?

CARTON: Gotcha.

ACOSTA: La Cuca gotcha.

A not so veiled take on the old Mexican folk song Lacocarocha (ph), where the cock roach. But not everybody is singing along.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The implication is there that you're talking about finding cockroaches?

CARTON: No, I do not.

RAY ROSSI, "THE JERSEY GUYS:" No, the name itself is really from an 18th century Mexican song. The song is probably --

ACOSTA: The La Cucaracha means cockroach. That's what it means.

CARTON: Yeah, apparently, it does, but the goal wasn't to call Hispanics or illegal's cockroaches.

ACOSTA: State lawmakers and Hispanic roots in New Jersey accuse the "Jersey Guys" of whipping up vigilantisms, like minutemen with microphones.

WILFREDO CARABALLO, (D) NEW JERSEY STATE ASSEMBLE: The broad brushed characterization against Latinos by "The Jersey Guys" dehumanizes a portion of our state's population and it fosters hate.

ACOSTA: Franklin is an illegal immigrant who lives in New Jersey but doesn't want his last name used. He is afraid "The Jersey Guys" are making him a target. He says he risked his life coming to America, stowing away on a train like this one.

FRANKLIN, ILLEGAL IMMIGRANT (translator): In god's eyes, we're all the same. The only difference between us and the people on the show is that we're foreigners and they're from here.

ACOSTA: How could you call this La Cuca gotcha and it not be racist?

CARTON: We didn't mean it with any offense. The name to me is irrelevant. It's what the program is, and the program is to get rid of illegal immigrants because they're a danger to our country.

ACOSTA: To defend themselves, "The Jersey Guys" held a press conference and aired it live. The toughest questions --

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: People want to know if you're not desperate for ratings.

CARTON: That is a good question.

ACOSTA: Came from the Spanish-speaking reporters.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The Latin community is looking for an apology. Do you have anything to say to them?

CARTON: I will not apologize to any community because I don't believe I've offended the community.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: "The Jersey Guys" are not the problem; the problems are the illegal aliens!

ACOSTA: Boosted by their on-air supporters, "The Jersey Guys" vow to continue. Are you keeping the name?


ACOSTA: The name's not going anywhere?

CARTON: No. We don't apologize for any aspect of this project.

ACOSTA: And that includes the ending for the project, May 5th, also known as Cinco De Mayo.

Jim Acosta, CNN, Trenton, New Jersey.


NGUYEN: Well, surf it up at Want to check in now with Veronica De La Cruz for some of the stories that you are clicking on this morning. Hey there, Veronica.

DE LA CRUZ: Hey, Betty. Good to see you.

It might be time to have that talk about the birds and the bees with your teen. The story very popular this morning, the cost for birth control pills have doubled at student health centers across the United States, and that has got health officials worried students will stop using them altogether.

Due to a recent change in a Medicaid bill, it now costs more for drug companies to make birth control pills, and fewer companies are willing to offer discounts.

Also popular this morning at, two of Anna Nicole Smith's diaries have been sold for more than $500,000 to a German businessman. The late Playboy model's 1992 diary was sold for $282,500. Her 1994 diary went for $230,000 in an ebay auction on Thursday. The buyer wants to remain anonymous, but he reportedly plans to sell the information to the media. Smith's 1992 diary consists of 26 entries, and the 1994 diary, oh about 30 pages.

Also popular, there is this, there she is, Miss USA. 21-year-old Rachel Smith of Clarksville, Tennessee won the crown last night. The journalism graduate intern last year for the "Oprah Winfrey Show." Congratulations to her. She succeeds Tara Conner. Of course, you can find all that online at And I believe that T.J. has a crush on this Miss USA? T.J., is that right?

NGUYEN: Well, I don't know if I'd go that far, but can you just keep rolling the video for T.J.'s sake?

DE LA CRUZ: Yeah, exactly.

NGUYEN: Thank you, Veronica.

HOLMES: I don't know if crush is accurate. Maybe infatuation.

DE LA CRUZ: Well, you think she's hot. Infatuates, fine. NGUYEN: Apparently, many people do. She is Miss USA, right?

DE LA CRUZ: Exactly.

HOLMES: It is the morning show. I can't say this girl is hot. She's a journalism graduate, she's --

NGUYEN: She's hot; I'll say it for you.

HOLMES: She's a smart woman.

NGUYEN: Yes, which makes you even hotter.

OK, ahead on the cost to put a roof over your head. We're going to tell you why it just got a little cheaper last month. That is ahead on CNN SATURDAY MORNING.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: There really is nothing like the death in the eyes of these children inside these brothels who are just being serially raped.

HOLMES: Well, he's talking about the sex trade. The cover now being ripped off this dirty little secret. Our Anderson Cooper traveled to southeast Asia, where in some cities, human trafficking is nothing more than economics and preying on the week and the poor is just business.


ANDERSON COOPER, CNN CORRESPONDENT: The crime is unthinkable, the numbers staggering. Women and children taken from their homes, sold as sex slaves.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: There really is nothing like the death in the eyes of these children inside these brothels who are just being serially raped.

COOPER: According to the U.S. State Department, between 600 and 800,000 people are trafficked across borders every year. The U.N. puts the figure at more than a million, 70 percent of them are female, and 50 percent are children, most of them forced into prostitution. And the countries where we see it most Thailand, Cambodia, Burma, all here in Southeast Asia.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This is just a form of slavery that's allowed to run rampant in the world because it's tolerated by local law enforcement. And when you have massive amount of money to be made and you're allowed to prey upon children, this is an industry that just grows and grows.

COOPER: Some estimates show 2,000 to 3,000 trafficking victims in Cambodia have been forced into the sex industry. But the government is taking some actions to try to stop the tragic trade in human lives there, the U.S. government put the country on a watch list because it hasn't done enough. One organization, the coalition against trafficking of women says around 80,000 women and children have been sold into the sex industry in Thailand since 1990. It's horrifying, but it's big business, and it works here because it's truly a two-way traffic. Victims both imported and exported in most Southeast Asian countries, taking the shameful business across borders and around the world.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: One of the chief problems is just the lack of convictions of the sex traffickers and brothel-keepers. This is frequently the case because of corruption, corruption at the police level, corruption at the judicial level.

COOPER: Often the victims are lured by the promise of something better, a job, money, an education, opportunities they can't get in their small, often impoverished towns. And those who applaud this terrible trade are well paid for their efforts, with young girls often sold at a premium because the men who buy and use them believe they are most likely free of disease.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The Aids epidemic, many of these perpetrators and customers are looking for young children who they believe will make it harder to transmit the HIV/AIDS virus. Of course, that's a complete myth.

COOPER: Some governments in this region are making an effort with campaigns to raise awareness in shelters for abused women and children. With those involved with stopping the horrors of human sex trafficking agree, as long as there is demand, someone will be there to supply more helpless victims, and that demand is unlikely to end any time soon.


HOLMES: You can see a lot more on the global sex trade and what's being done to stop it tonight at 10:00 Eastern. In the "Newsroom" with Rick Sanchez here on CNN.

NGUYEN: Well on a completely different note, if you plan on looking for a home this weekend, there is good news to report this morning. The National Association of Realtors says home prices slid once again last month. The median price of a previously owned home dropped roughly $3,000. Consumers appear to be reacting to the price change. Sales of existing homes in February rose nearly 4 percent. The biggest percentage increase since March 2004.

And while prices for existing homes have been dropping, foreclosures, they are on the rise, and that's due in part to the large number of sub prime mortgages handed out over the past few years. The question of who's to blame for the growing number of loan defaults was the focus of a Senate hearing this week. And today's "Open House" with Gerri Willis talks about this. Things got pretty heated, I must add, when Gerri asked mortgage representatives about their industry's lending practices.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) UNIDENTIFIED MALE: People make poor decisions. Most of the time when a lender makes a poor decision, it's because the lender doesn't have the right information or assumes the wrong thing is going to happen. Sometimes borrowers make the wrong choices as well, and we've got to get them --

WILLIS: So we're blaming the consumers now? Is it important to blame the people who were out looking for loans and were advised to get into option arms? You've got to be kidding me!

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Consumers have to get good information and understand the decisions they're making.


NGUYEN: Decide for yourself. You can watch Gerri's interview coming up in less than ten minutes on a special edition of "Open House."

And at 10:00 a.m., look out navy seals and delta force there is a new gang in town. We have an exclusive look at an elite air force rescue team. That's right here in "The Newsroom."


HOLMES: Well, it looks like a single contaminated field is to blame for last year's deadly spinach E. Coli outbreak. Investigators have traced E. Coli-laced spinach to a crop-growing field in central California. They don't know if tainted water or animal waste caused that contamination. Last summer's outbreak killed three people. More than 200 people got sick.

NGUYEN: OK, remember O.J. Simpson's book "If I Did It"? Well, it caused such uproar, that it was never published. A California judge has ordered the Sacramento County Sheriff's Department to set a date to auction the book's rights. In "If I Did It," Simpson speculates how he might have killed ex-wife Nicole Brown Simpson and her friend Ron Goldman. Now auction proceeds will go to Goldman's family. And they're trying to collect on a $33 1/2 million civil judgment against Simpson.


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