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New Video Released of Captured British Sailors; Pet Food Recall; Miracle Could Lead to Pope John Paul's Sainthood

Aired March 30, 2007 - 07:59   ET


SOLEDAD O'BRIEN, CNN ANCHOR: And good morning. Welcome back, everybody. It is Friday, March 30th.
I'm Soledad O'Brien.

Hey, John.

JOHN ROBERTS, CNN ANCHOR: Hey. Good morning to you, Soledad.

From Washington, I'm John Roberts, in today for Miles. We're following some of the big stories down here.

Thanks for joining us today.

We begin, though, with breaking news overseas, new video of the captured British sailors. Iranian TV just releasing new video of what it says is a sailor's confession.

Take a listen.


NATHAN THOMAS SUMMERS, CAPTURED BRITISH SAILOR: I'd like to apologize for entering your waters without any permission. And it happened back in 2004, and our government promised that it wouldn't happen again. And again, I deeply apologize for entering your waters.


ROBERTS: CNN's Jim Boulden standing by live right now in London outside the prime minister's residence at Number 10 Downing Street to bring us the very latest.

Jim, we just got some reaction from Prime Minister Tony Blair. Not happy about seeing his people on television yet again today.

JIM BOULDEN, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: That's right. We're seeing a war on words using television. We saw that statement coming from that British sailor, and now Prime Minister Tony Blair has just released this statement, which he says he is, of course, very upset about all of this.


TONY BLAIR, BRITISH PRIME MINISTER: I really don't know why the Iranian regime keeps doing this. I mean, all it does is enhance people's sense of disgust at catched (ph) personnel being paraded and manipulated in this way. It doesn't fool anyone.

And what the Iranians have to realize is that if they continue in this way, they will face increasing isolation. The United Nations yesterday, the European Union today, will be talking to other key allies over the weekend. And we've just got to pursue this with the necessary firmness and determination, but also -- but also patience, because there is only one possible conclusion to this, and that is that our personnel are released safe and sound.


BOULDEN: John, it looks last night that there might have actually been some kind of diplomatic solution, but today, now with all this video coming out, it looks unlikely that we might see this resolved in the next few days -- John.

ROBERTS: You've been talking to some of the families. You talked to the family of Nathan Summers.

What have they told you?

BOULDEN: Yes, we spoke with Nathan Summers' father. He lives in Cornwall in southwest England. And he saw this video, of course, on the television for the first time. He said he's very distressed to see his son on camera making this alleged confession.

Of course, no one here in the U.K. believes it's a real confession. In fact, you can hear a voice of somebody speaking off camera to the young Mr. Summers when he was speaking. So it is really just adding to the distress of the families here and adding pressure on the governments to try to do something to try to resolve this peacefully -- John.

ROBERTS: All right. Jim, you're going to continue to watch this story today. We'll keep coming back to you. Thanks very much, Jim -- Soledad.

O'BRIEN: At the Pentagon, of course, they are monitoring developments this morning in Iran very closely.

Let's get right to Barbara Starr with an update.

Barbara, good morning.


CNN has now learned that the British military has conducted a resupply mission. That's what they're calling it in the North Arabian Gulf.

A small British resupply ship arrived actually on Wednesday, but we are just learning of it now in the North Arabian Gulf, carrying what is described as a small platoon of Royal Marines and additional supplies and equipment, including some of those small patrol boats, those RIB boats, those Zodiac-type boats that the marines and sailors were on when they were captured by the Iranians. So all they are saying is very few words about all this.

A small platoon of Royal Marines and some additional boats and supplies have now arrived in the North Arabian Gulf. Perhaps the message the British are sending, we are told, is that they will continue their operations in the Gulf. They won't be chased out by this incident -- Soledad.

O'BRIEN: Let's talk a little bit, Barbara, about the message that the U.S. is sending. There is some movement going on in the water, in the region.

What's happening?

STARR: Well, indeed, the U.S. also is resupplying, replenishing, if you will. The U.S. Navy has now announced that its carrier, the USS Nimitz, is leaving the West Coast of the United States and will go to the Arabian Gulf -- to the Persian Gulf area. It will replace the carrier Eisenhower.

That will be a one-for-one swap, but at this point it looks like two U.S. Navy aircraft carriers will remain in that region. The Nimitz on its way to the Gulf to replace the Eisenhower -- Soledad.

O'BRIEN: All right. Barbara Starr at the Pentagon for us this morning.

Thank you, Barbara.

Some new developments to share with you as well in the pet food recall. The FDA is holding a news conference. That's going to happen in just about two hours. They're going to release preliminary results of their investigation.

Now, the animal rights group PETA, People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, is claiming that the recall of wet food does not go far enough. They're going to ask the FDA to include dry food in that recall, too.

Menu Foods is now facing class action lawsuits in several states, including California.

AMERICAN MORNING'S Chris Lawrence has our report.

It looks like we do not have Chris Lawrence's update. We're going to see if we ca grab that and get back it you with that as soon as we can get it.

We've made, of course, repeated attempts to talk to the heads of Menu Foods, also the FDA, to talk about this tainted pet food scandal. So far, those requests have been turned down. We're going to keep asking, of course.

In the meanwhile, while we're working on that, let's get right back to John in Washington, D.C. -- John.

ROBERTS: Thank you very much. Developing news in the weather front right now. Residents down South on alert for more extreme weather today. This, after as many as 67 tornadoes touched down in the Plains and Rockies since Wednesday. Some of those twisters turning very deadly, as well.

We get right to Chad Myers, who has got the very latest for us.


O'BRIEN: Hey, Chad. Let me ask you a question. In Atlanta, do you have a lot of friends who've had to deal with this tainted pet food problem?

CHAD MYERS, CNN METEOROLOGIST: You know, I've heard about it a few -- I've talked to my friends who have pets, and they don't.

O'BRIEN: Really?

MYERS: It doesn't seem like it affected us very much, no.

O'BRIEN: I know so many people. As you know, 95 brands.

MYERS: Yes, right.

O'BRIEN: Ninety-five brands had to be pulled off store shelves.

Chris Lawrence has an update on what's happening today.


CHRIS LAWRENCE, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice over): Two months ago, Butch was a happy, healthy dog. Now Butch's owner holds his cremated remains and blames his death on Menu Foods.

(on camera): Have you called the company?

JULIE MITCHELL, BUTCH'S OWNER: Yes, I have, and it is so hard to get through.

LAWRENCE (voice over): Julie Mitchell says she's called a dozen times, and not once has she been able to speak with the company that made Butch's dog food.

MITCHELL: You know, Eukanuba is supposed to be healthy for your animals, good for your pets. And unfortunately, it killed mine.

LAWRENCE: When scientists discovered rat poison in the same brand Butch was eating, Mitchell hired a lawyer.

(on camera): We know hundreds of pets have already been affected, but is that all?

TIMOTHY PRINCE, ATTORNEY: That's the tip of the iceberg.

LAWRENCE (voice over): Attorney Timothy Prince represents several pet owners in southern California, but he believes there are thousands more victims out there.

PRINCE: The courts are kind of choosey about which cases are appropriate for a class action, but I think this has all the makings.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The issue of the litigation will have to -- will follow up in due course. Our principal concern is pet safety.

LAWRENCE: Menu Foods says it will pay the medical bills for owners who can prove their pets got sick from the tainted food.

Some owners can't forgive themselves for feeding their pets the food that may have killed them.

MITCHELL: I know it's not my fault, but still, I gave it to him.

LAWRENCE: Julie Mitchell adopted Butch when he was three months old, raised him for seven years.

MITCHELL: There's not one day that doesn't go by where I don't sit here and tell him that I miss him.

LAWRENCE: She wants the company to compensate pet owners for emotion distress, as well. And a class action suit means she won't have to wage that fight alone.

Chris Lawrence, CNN, San Bernardino, California.



O'BRIEN: Mystery revealed this morning, and it could be another step towards sainthood for Pope John Paul II. A nun from France -- her name is Sister Marie-Simon-Pierre -- am I saying that right, Delia? Yes?

She nods yes.

She emerged this morning. Her identity has been kept a secret until just now. She says she was praying to the pope after he died and she was cured of Parkinson's Disease.

Hence, you have miracle number one.

Delia Gallagher is CNN's faith and values correspondent.

Is that right?


O'BRIEN: Allegedly.

GALLAGHER: It still has to be approved. She says it's a cure, and the Vatican has to look at it and declare whether or not it's a miracle. So... O'BRIEN: Tell me a little bit about this.

GALLAGHER: So, she says, in 2005, two month after the pope died, she and her nuns in her convent prayed to him. She was suffering from Parkinson's, as you said, which is the same disease he had, and sort of very severe shakes and so on. She couldn't even write.

And almost to the day, two months after he died, she woke up one morning and was completely cured. She didn't have those symptoms anymore. Her handwriting was clear, she didn't have the trembling, and so on. And then she went through a series of medical examinations.

O'BRIEN: And doctors agree? They say she's cured of Parkinson's?

GALLAGHER: The doctors that have examined her say it is unexplainable medically how this change has occurred.

O'BRIEN: OK. So this means he's now fast-tracked for sainthood?

GALLAGHER: Yes. He was fast-tracked by the pope -- by Pope Benedict as soon as he was elected. That was one of the first things Pope Benedict did, putting John Paul II on the fast track, which was something he himself had done, of course, for Mother Teresa. I mean, popes are allowed to decide that they don't want to wait that five- year period that is normally required after somebody dies in order to start this whole process.

So, here we are only two years after John Paul II's death, and we are already at the end of the first stage, and almost up to a beatification. But...

O'BRIEN: How close are we to beatification? I mean, realistically?

GALLAGHER: Well, it could be a few -- yes, certainly as fast as a few months. I mean, it could be anything from a few months to next year. You know, now, all of these documents, all these thousands of pages that they have to gather about his life and all of his writings and people that knew him, and, by the way, people who object to him becoming a saint.

At the Vatican, there are files of people who have objected to this process, yes.

O'BRIEN: Really? I bet those are very skinny files.

GALLAGHER: No, I've seen them.

O'BRIEN: Really?

GALLAGHER: There's a big binder of them and lots of letters.

O'BRIEN: On what grounds? GALLAGHER: I mean, compared to -- well, you couldn't read them, but compared -- to the pros, you know, there are not that many. But they are there, and they have to present those also to the cardinal and say, here is all the evidence. And then, of course, the pope ultimately is the one who puts the official stamp and says this is good to go.

O'BRIEN: Wow. Fascinating stuff. And he will, eventually.

GALLAGHER: We think so.

O'BRIEN: All right.

Delia Gallagher for us this morning.

John, back to you.

ROBERTS: Thanks, Soledad.

Still to come this morning, questions for Google and its satellite images of New Orleans. Is it giving people the wrong idea?

And who could forget the runaway bride. This morning, the Albuquerque Police Department is trying to capitalize on its role in her story.

We'll show you how.

And a new risk for smokers, how lighting up might put you in the bad graces of your boss and make your nonsmoking colleagues stand out.

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


ROBERTS: Sixteen minutes after the hour now. You're looking at the blossoms here in Washington on Capitol Hill.

Are those cherry blossoms or dogwood blossoms? A little bit of an argument here. We think they're cherry blossoms. Pulling back, and they're revealing the fabulous Library of Congress.


O'BRIEN: The White House is under fire on two fronts this morning. Calls for the attorney general's resignation are not fading, and now both the Senate and the House have passed Iraq spending bills that the president's threatening to veto.

What's all this effect on the 2008 race?

Candy Crowley is in Washington, D.C., for us.

Hey, Candy. Good morning to you.

Is it too early to say, really?

CANDY CROWLEY, CNN SR. POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: It is. We still have, as we say every day -- and sooner or later we'll stop saying -- but there's a long time to go in this presidential race. I mean, figure a year from November is when Americans make their choice.

We have absolutely no idea what Iraq is going to look like on the ground in, you know, a year and, what, several months from now. So, to say this is going to hurt Republicans or help Democrats is sort of a leap, but anything that really speaks to the war, Republicans believe does hurt them at this point, because the war is wildly unpopular among the public. Their sentiment is with the Democrats, and the Republicans know full well that they're on the minority side here when it comes to the war.

O'BRIEN: And you've got to admit that the Democrats have gotten traction in the last week or so on Iraq spending, certainly on the attorney general debacle, I think it's fair to call it at this point. The question is, can they keep that traction to '08?

CROWLEY: Well, and that's -- that's the key question here, because as we watch the whole funding bill unfold, what we have here is sort of a struggle for the headline. Who's going it get blamed for this? Will it be the president for not signing the bill and vetoing it, or will it be the Democrats for sending the president a bill that they know he can't sign?

So, you're going to have this P.R. struggle between now and the middle of April, maybe some time a little later, which will tell you who wins or who loses. But right now, advantage Democrats.

O'BRIEN: OK. And with advantage Democrats, though, when you go to the polls it's actually advantage Republicans. Let's talk about some of them.

For example -- this is a "TIME" magazine poll, by the way, taken March 23rd to the 26th. When you do Clinton versus McCain, actually, it is Clinton who has 42 percent, but McCain wins with 48 percent. Clinton versus Giuliani, Hillary has got 41 percent, Giuliani 50 percent.

Look at Obama versus McCain, 43 percent for Obama, 45 percent for McCain. Similar numbers when you're talking about giuliani. Advantage Democrats, but not so much when it comes to the polls.

CROWLEY: Well, it's intrusting. First of all, one of the things is, you're not talking about a party here, so much as you're talking about individuals and their strengths.

It's interesting to look at the Republican Party and the polls on Giuliani, on John McCain, and on others in the race, Mitt Romney. There is sort of a lukewarm welcome to those particular candidates.

When you start polling voters nationwide, the very things that give Republicans pause about Rudy Giuliani, his stance on social issues, about John McCain, his sort of maverick status that makes them not quite know where he's going to come down on an issue, the idea that Mitt Romney has flip-flopped on some of the social issues, those things which give Republicans pause sort of are welcomed in the larger voting pool, particularly among Independents, who like those maverick streaks and who look at them more favorably than the Republican Party itself right now.

O'BRIEN: We will see.

Candy Crowley for us this morning.

As always, thanks, Candy.


O'BRIEN: Let's go right back to John in Washington, D.C.

ROBERTS: Thank you, Soledad.

Just ahead on AMERICAN MORNING, something new for iTunes if you want something more than just one song at a time, or you already have some songs from an album and want more.

And not the brightest move. A suspected crook returning to the scene of the crime. Oops.

Stay with us on AMERICAN MORNING.


O'BRIEN: Got smokers in your office? A new study says everybody pays the price.

Smokers take more sick days than nonsmokers. They have worse performance on the job than nonsmokers.

There are two studies in the journal "Tobacco Control" that also found that smokers displayed a higher rate of personality disorders and bad behavior than nonsmokers. Participants included men and women between 16 and 65.

I guess across a lot of different jobs. That's kind of a strange one.

STEPHANIE ELAM, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Adding some fuel to some fires in some offices today.

O'BRIEN: Pete, aren't you glad you quit?

Yes, he says.

iTunes -- business news now -- offering a new format to customers, giving them a break.

I think this is a smart idea.

Coming up at 25 past the hour, and Stephanie Elam is "Minding Your Business".

ELAM: Indeed, it is. I mean, let's say you go out and you buy an album -- you buy a song, and then you say, wait, you know, I want the rest of the album. Well, now you can do that without getting penalized for having already bought that one song.

So, now, what's happening at iTunes? If you say, let's say, one song off of an album, then you type, "I want the whole album," then they'll just take away 99 cents from that $9.99 album. It makes a lot of sense if you think about it.

The music industry is very happy with this, because they want to keep the profitable album format. The service would be called "Complete My Album," and you can take advantage of it within the first 180 days after you buy that song.

So there's a catch there.

One other thing to tell you about today. How about a cell phone that runs on a AAA battery? Well, Philips Electronics has developed it. They're saying that after your battery runs out, you can stick in a AAA battery -- there you go, right there on the side -- and it will give you three hours of talk time.


ELAM: It was developed, along with Energizer and an Israeli chip company, so that you can still use a rechargeable AAA if you want to. And in that case, the battery will also recharge whenever you connect it to the outlet.

O'BRIEN: That's a great idea.

ELAM: It is a good idea. And it's safer, if you think about it it. Let's say you just, like, are out somewhere or stranded. If you could just get a battery, if you carry those in your car, you're safer if your battery dies.

O'BRIEN: All right. I'm in. I want one. Yes! Yes, Stephanie! Selling it.

Thank you, Stephanie.

John, back to you.

ROBERTS: You know, you really had me on that iTunes thing, right up until the catch.


ROBERTS: That's what blew it. I have got a lot of single songs from albums, but I probably had them for longer than 120 days.



ROBERTS: The White House still backing the attorney general this morning. Alberto Gonzales is facing the fallout from his former chief of staff's testimony yesterday. One of the senators there was Republican Orrin Hatch, and he joins us now.

Good morning to you, senator.

SEN. ORRIN HATCH (R), UTAH: Good morning. How are you?

ROBERTS: I want to play a little bit of sound for you from yesterday's hearing. We know that Alberto Gonzales when he had his press conference back on March 13th said that he didn't have any involvement in the selection of these judges, these seven judges, in this particular case, who were fired and replaced, but yesterday his former Chief of Staff Kyle Sampson seemed to contradict that some.

Take a listen.


KYLE SAMPSON, FMR. CHIEF OF STAFF FOR ATTY. GEN.: I don't think the attorney general's statement that he was not involved in any discussions about U.S. attorney removals is accurate.

HATCH: Is what? Is accurate?

SAMPSON: I don't think it's accurate.

HATCH: So he was involved in discussions contrary to the statement he made in his news conference on March 13th?

SAMPSON: I believe, yes, sir.


ROBERTS: Senator, you have been supportive of the attorney general thus far. After hearing that testimony yesterday from a fellow who used to work with when you chaired the Judiciary Committee, can you still stand behind Alberto Gonzales.

HATCH: Yes, I can. He's an honest man. And, frankly, this is kind of a flap that's really over -- I call it a tempest in a coffee cup, because there was absolutely no evidence at all that the Justice Department was trying to interfere with ongoing intervention in their cases. In fact, none, no evidence at all. Just conjecture on the part of Democrats.

It was badly mishandled, there's no question about that. But Gonzales has always been an very honest, straightforward, straight- shooting person. I don't think he should be, you know -- he should be removed because of this flap.

Now, I talked to him after "The Washington Post" article came out and indicated that he had had some knowledge about this, and he told me, he said, yes, I had some general knowledge, but I didn't have the specific knowledge that some will say that I've had. He said I -- really, I was relying on my people.

ROBERTS: But some of your Republican colleagues like Senator Chuck Hagel and Lindsay Graham of South Carolina have a problem with this perception of shifting stories, and they say that his credibility has been terribly wounded. If his credibility has been wounded, do you think that he can continue on as attorney general?

HATCH: Well, that remains to be seen. He's going to appear, I think, on the 17th of this next month, and he'll have an opportunity to explain himself then. And I presume he'll be able to explain, look, yes, I made some mistakes, and, yes, I feel bad about it. But I'm still doing everything I should at the Justice Department.

You know, there were some bad mistakes here. This was a very badly handled situation. All they had to do was say to these eight people, look, you've served well with distinction; we now want to remove so we can give somebody else an opportunity to serve in these really, really interesting and good positions. And they didn't do that. They raised the issue of the performance, which Democrats interpret narrowly.

ROBERTS: As political.

HATCH: And of course you can't interpret it narrowly, because they weren't running them down as individuals, but they were saying there were reasons they weren't following the advice of the Justice Department or they weren't doing this or weren't doing that.

ROBERTS: Well, the way Kyle Sampson put it yesterday is that they were fired for, quote, not carrying out the president and the attorney general's priorities, which sound purely political.

HATCH: Well, it is political, because that's what these offices are, and every president sets priorities. Clinton had his priorities. This president's priorities are to go tough on gun cases, immigration matters, pornography, all of those the public would want to have. Now those are political decisions, but they're the right political decisions.

ROBERTS: Let me shift gears, if I could, to Iraq. What's your impression of the bill that came out of Congress yesterday, out of the Senate?

HATCH: Well, it's a disgrace, in my opinion, because, first of all, it undermines our troops. Yes, the House of Representatives and the Senate knew that the president was going to veto this bill. He's going to veto it. So why do we go through this exercise and indicate to our troops over there that we're not backing them like we should. I think it's abysmal that they've done it this way.

And, frankly, they're going to have to go back, and we're going to have to pass a bill that basically does not have a timeframe in there. Think about it, they talk in terms of following the polls. We shouldn't be following the polls; we should be doing what's right. And then they never have an answer -- what happens once we leave?

ROBERTS: Let me just get a quick answer from you, if we could, from you, because we're running out of time here.

HATCH: Sure. Sure.

ROBERTS: But we saw defection of a couple Republicans on this, Gordon Smith and Chuck Hagel. They are mavericks of the party, to say the least, very independent thinkers. But do you think that this is the beginning of more erosion than the Republican Party over this?

HATCH: Well, there are always people who, you know, you don't know where they're going it be.

But, look, we have to support our troops. They have to have the monies to do the things that have to do. We can't just walk out of there and say everything is going to be hunky dory. We know that's not going to be the case. And if we walk out of there and that the thing collapses, and it goes into civil war, and the whole Middle East becomes a conflict nation, we're going to spend a lot more money than we're spending now to try and resolve those problems. And if we leave little Israel sitting there all by itself, without any help, because of these radical Islamic people, who are about 5 percent of the total Islamic community, we're going to reap the whirlwind. We've got to fight this and we've got to stand tall, and we can't do this by the polls. We've got to do what's right here.

ROBERTS: All right, well, we're going to keep following this fight in Congress, no question about it.

I know that you're headed back to Utah. Have a safe trip, senator.

HATCH: Thank you so much.

ROBERTS: See you back here after Easter. Thanks very much.

Senator Orrin Hatch joining us this morning.


O'BRIEN: Story of the runaway bride back in the news today. Going to show you how straight ahead.

And who is the favorite to come out on top at the Final Four? we'll check in with Shamu. Yes, he's going to guess for us, straight ahead on AMERICAN MORNING.


ROBERTS: Here you go. This is one of the most incredible views you'll find anywhere in the world. A shot down the Mall from Capitol Hill. You see the Washington Monument there. Look at this, we're actually getting some blossoms on the trees, the leaves are beginning to come out. Fabulous day here on Capitol Hill.

Good morning. John Roberts with you on this AMERICAN MORNING.

Runaway bride Jennifer Wilbanks and one of the cops who tracked her are back in the news. You remember these pictures, Wilbanks being led through the Albuquerque Airport back in 2005, a blanket over her head. Well, one of the cops that's with her is officer Trish Hoffman. She's now become somewhat famous in her own right.

Doug Fernandez of our Albuquerque affiliate KOAT shows us why.


DOUG FERNANDEZ, KOAT REPORTER (voice-over): Jennifer Wilbanks walk of shame with a blanket on her head through the sun port put Albuquerque police in the national spotlight. Back in 2005, the so- called runaway bride was reported missing just days before her high- dollar Georgia wedding, and a high-profile nationwide search began. It ended in the Duke City (ph), with Wilbanks being ushered to a plane by APD spokesperson Trish Hoffman.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: A lot of people already for the last years have even said, oh, my gosh, you're the officer from the runaway bride.

FERNANDEZ: The story made headlines around the world, and people still talk about Wilbanks elaborate claims that she was abducted when she really just ran away.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Police in Albuquerque solved that crime in the matter of hours, and the rest of the country couldn't figure it out for several days.

FERNANDEZ: Now APD is using the story's staying power to try and recruit new officers.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Our goal is to get 1, 100 officers by the end of the year, and we're trying to be unique and creative.

FERNANDEZ: This recruiting ad showing Hoffman pulling on the veil of a woman dressed in a wedding gown wearing running shoes will appear on digital billboards across Albuquerque. The ads read "Running away from your current job? Call APD recruiting." And it's already working, with calls coming in from potential recruits from around the country.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Sixty-three articles have already been written since thins morning since it hit the wire. So that's more attention then we would ever get paying for advertising.

FERNANDEZ: APD is banking that the runaway bride's legacy will lead to future officers lining up to get on the force.


ROBERTS: Boy, any way you can market. That was KOAT's Doug Fernandez.


O'BRIEN: "CNN NEWSROOM" just a couple minutes away. Tony Harris is at the CNN Center with a look at what they've got ahead.

Hey, Tony. Good morning.

TONY HARRIS, CNN ANCHOR: Soledad, good Friday to you. Let's get you and John to your weekend here.

We have got these stories on the "NEWSROOM" rundown for you: Iranian TV broadcast video of three British captives, and one of the troops apologizing for entering Iranian waters. Iran calls that a confession.

More severe weather striking the plains -- a tornado left this mess on the edge of Oklahoma City. Violent storms could hit again today, particularly in Texas.

And a story that will have you in tears. A father returns from Iraq. Look at that. He surprises his baby boy in class. Heidi Collins will be with me here in the NEWSROOM. We get started at the top of the hour right here on CNN.

Back to you, Soledad.

O'BRIEN: Oh, I love that little boy, and I love his dad, and I love that story.

Good. All right, we'll see you later.

Heading into the Holy Week, it's of course, the most sacred week in the Christian calendar. It marks the final days of Jesus Christ, his death and his resurrection.

AMERICAN MORNING's going to be live in the Holy Land all next week following those last steps.

CNN's Atika Shubert has a preview of some of the sights she's going to show us.


ATIKA SHUBERT, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Every year thousands of Christian pilgrims come to Jerusalem, following the last steps of Jesus. From the place where Jesus ate his last meal with the disciples, to the Garden of Getsemeni (ph), where Jesus is betrayed and contemplates his own death, the streets where Jesus carried his cross, and the place the Gospel say Jesus was crucified, buried and resurrected, the myths and history of these sacred places and the politics that engulfs them today.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: One of the most precious, the most sacred sites in Christianity, that's why everyone wants to (INAUDIBLE).

SHUBERT: The story and the history behind the last steps of Jesus.


O'BRIEN: You want to join us starting on Monday and all next week, AMERICAN MORNING live from the Holy Land, tracing the last days of Jesus.

Back to John in D.C.

ROBERTS: Ahead on AMERICAN MORNING, the hits just keep on coming for Knut the cute polar bear. He's now the star of a music video. We're going to have it for you. We'll show it to you ahead on AMERICAN MORNING.



O'BRIEN: Well, you might do your best to stay ahead of your bills, but did you know that if you're late with one payment on anything it could mean huge fees on your credit card, not even connected to that specific late payment. It's called universal default.

Gerri Willis joins us to explain.

I never even heard of this.

GERRI WILLIS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Soledad, this is an amazing thing that the credit card companies do. Let's say you're 30 days late, maybe on your car payment, maybe on your rent, who knows. Your credit card operator decides to jack up your interest rates high, maybe as high as 30, 32 percent. So you're paying a lot in interest fees. Let me show you some numbers here.

For example, the average American with credit cards has about $8,000 worth of debt. So if they jack up your rate 32 percent, you're going to be paying as much as $213 a month in finance charges just for that one event.

O'BRIEN: When I get the credit card, I agree to a certain rate. They're allowed to jack it up any time they want?

WILLIS: Absolutely. There is fine print in the agreement, they can jack it up when they want to, and this particular, specific kind of way of jacking it up is called universal default. Let me show you more numbers here, because this is interesting, $2,560 worth of fees if you're hit with this and have the $8,000 worth of credit card.

Now let's go back and look, if this didn't happen to you, you're paying, say, 10 percent. And we got these numbers from You'd be paying $66 a month in fees. The difference, $147 a month. You see how this just spirals and spirals out of control. Consumer advocates, of course, are outraged.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) ED MIERZWINSKI, CONSUMER ADVOCATE, U.S. PIRG: Even the regulators were upset, but they didn't slap any of the banks with fines, and that's the reason they're still doing it. The regulators sent around a little, please don't do this notice unless you can prove that the consumer really is a bad risk, but they're still doing it.


WILLIS: And, of course, as you know, Soledad, there were hearings in Washington about this, and we're still waiting to see if there's going to be any legislation, but there is plenty of heat, plenty of anger around this.

O'BRIEN: So what do you do if you find yourself suddenly in that category of paying more because of universal default?

WILLIS: Yes, well, you get a bill, and it will say suddenly that your rate is 30 percent, 32 percent. I'm hoping you're checking that, right.

But you may want to know now before that happens to you. So we've a got great Web site for you to go to at You can find out if you go to You can find out whether you're specific card, and you know, there are tons of cards out there, has this problem. Of course always, if you're going to be late with a payment, call your card operator ahead of time. It always makes sense to do that.

O'BRIEN: Late with any payment call your card operator.

WILLIS: Yes. I'm telling you, you have got to share information with these folks, and the best thing to do, go find one of these cards that doesn't do this, and get that card instead.

O'BRIEN: Wow. This is craziness. Another way they get you.

WILLIS: That's right.

O'BRIEN: All right, Gerri Willis for us. Thank you, Gerri.

WILLIS: And of course I just want to mention, "Open House" will be talking more about this. Also the mortgage meltdown, and if you're selling your house this spring, we'll have some great advice to you.

O'BRIEN: Excellent. Thank you, Gerri.

WILLIS: You're welcome.

O'BRIEN: John, back to you.

ROBERTS: All right, looking forward to that. Thanks, Soledad.

It's down to the final four this weekend in the NCAA basketball tournament. You've studied the stats and sweated over the office pool, but that's not how they pick them at Sea World in San Diego.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Hello, everybody, out there in basketball land. We're out at Sea World in San Diego, and we're talking basketball. Actually the killer whales really enjoy watching basketball, and so do the trainers, and the killer whales have some predictions for some basketball games this weekend. Actually baby Shamu's got one she'd like to show you. She likes the Bruins. UCLA Bruins is who she's hoping for. That's right. I think it's because she really likes the mascot. That's probably the winning thing.

It sounds like Shamu has got some other ideas over here. And actually Shamu and his friend here, they're really the experts at prediction. And let's go ahead. You know what, I know what you guys are predicting. You want the Florida Gators, right? That's right. They're predicting the Gators will win this weekend and take the whole tournament, and you know what, we've got a great big wave good-bye from all the killer whales here at Sea World of San Diego.

Have a great basketball weekend, everybody. Bye-bye.


ROBERTS: Championship game is Monday night. However it goes, it's a whale of a pick. And, Soledad, by the way, the ground hog Punxsutawney Phil is taking Georgetown.

O'BRIEN: Yes, I'm glad to see it's done so scientifically. I feel much better about that.

You know, the American swimmer Michael Phelps is making waves once again this morning. He just took home another gold medal at the world swimming championships. They're being held in Australia. He and his teammates won the 800-freestyle relay, seven minutes three seconds. That is a world record. Phelps fourth in the past four days. He is on fire.

Quick break. We're back with Knut, the cute polar bear. He's got a new music video, believe it or not. That's right after this.


O'BRIEN: I guess worldwide fame wasn't quite enough for cute little Knut the polar bear. He is the star, of course, of the Berlin Zoo, and now Knut has his own theme song, I kid you not. Here it is.



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