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AMERICAN MORNING

Pressure Rising on Don Imus Over Racist Remarks

Aired April 10, 2007 - 07:00:00   ET

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


SOLEDAD O'BRIEN, CNN ANCHOR, AMERICAN MORNING: Leadership Conference also going to call for Imus' job. Leaders want the FCC now to get involved. And the Rutgers' women's basketball team -- those members, or the members that Imus insulted last week, they are also going to be speaking out this morning. Jim Acosta is live on the Rutgers' campus for us.
Jim, I guess I should add, Imus to that list. He's going to be talking too this morning. Good morning.

JIM ACOSTA, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Good morning, Soledad.

Yes, Imus is definitely on the agenda here on the Rutgers' campus. The Rutgers women's basketball team is scheduled to break its silence about this controversy at a press conference that is scheduled for 11:00 this morning. The players will finally have their say about Don Imus, whose racial slur earned him a two-week suspension.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

ACOSTA (voice over): Don Imus went looking for redemption on of all places Al Sharpton's radio show. But the civil rights leader would have none of it.

DON IMUS, RADIO TALK SHOW HOST: Would you be willing to come on my program to discuss your point of view?

REV. AL SHARPTON, CIVIL RIGHTS ACTIVIST: Are you going to announce it as your last show?

IMUS: No, I'm not, I mean --

SHARPTON: Well, then I'm not coming on. We're going to deal with the accountability of the statement.

IMUS: Awesome rough girls from Rutgers. Man, they got tattoos.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Some hardcore hoes.

IMUS: That's some nappy-headed hos.

ACOSTA: What Imus and his executive producer said about the Rutgers squad was not the duos first verbal assault on African- Americans.

REV. JESSE JACKSON, CIVIL RIGHTS ACTIVIST: This was not a slip of the lip, this was a point of view. ACOSTA: Which is why the nation's Black Journalists Association said it was time to take Imus off the air.

BRYAN MONROE, NAT'L. ASSN. OF BLACK JOURNALISTS: I think it's important that at some point America draws the line, and says this far, no farther. That America knows what the standards of decency are. That you can't impugn young ladies like this and get away with it.

ACOSTA: In response to the uproar MSNBC and CBS radio announced they are suspending Imus for two weeks starting Monday.

BRIAN WILLIAMS, CBS EVENING NEWS: Taken off the air --

ACSOTA: Al Sharpton wasn't buying it.

SHARTPONT: I have faith that people will mobilize and he will be fired.

ACOSTA (on camera): On the Rutgers' campus Imus is accused of ruining a golden moment for the women's basketball team, which made it all the way to the NCAA championship. Their sense of pride here has turned to pain.

RICHARD MCCORMACK, PRES., RUTGERS UNIV.: They represented Rutgers in an exemplary fashion of which we're extraordinary proud and then he says that. Why? Why? Why? Why?

(END VIDEOTAPE)

ACOSTA: Don Imus has offered to apologize personally to the Rutgers' women's basketball team. No word here yet whether the ladies here have accepted that offer -- Soledad.

S. O'BRIEN: I think I would like to watch that apology and the fallout from that apology from a bunch of angry, young women. That would be good TV. All right. Thanks, Jim Acosta, for us. Appreciate that.

We'd like to hear from you, too, this morning. Is a two-week suspension sufficient punishment for Don Imus? You can go to right to cnn.com to vote; see the latest results, too. Right now, 61% of people who responded say, yes, it is enough; 39 percent said, no, it is not enough. Remember, this is not a scientific poll.

MILES O'BRIEN, CNN ANCHOR, AMERICAN MORNING: Those British sailors and marines held by Iran will not be able to sell their stories after all. The British defense secretary did an abrupt about face after a huge backlash from the public, politicians, and family members who have lost loved one in the war. The ban came too late to stop two former captives from cashing in. Faye Turney, the only woman in the group, already sold her story. So did the youngest of the group, Sailor Arthur Bachelor (ph).

S. O'BRIEN: And 16,000 troops may have to stay in Iraq four months past their current tour of duty. General David Petraeus is asking Defense Secretary Robert Gates to extend them. Petraeus says the troop increase is working and he needs the higher levers through the summer.

And 13,000 National Guard combat troops might heading to Iraq to replace some regular forces. They are the 39th Infantry Brigade, which is based in Little Rock, Arkansas; the 45th from Oklahoma City and the 76th from Indianapolis and the 37th from Columbus, Ohio. Many of them have already done a tour of duty in Iraq.

M. O'BRIEN: Meanwhile, in Washington, the political fight over paying the bills for the war is coming to a head today. Democrats still insisting the money have some strings attached. The president rejecting any calls for bringing the troops home at a date certain. Suzanne Malveaux live at the White House with a preview of what's ahead now that everybody is back in town.

Suzanne.

SUZANNE MALVEAUX, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Miles, the Senate is back in town, the House will soon come back to Washington in about another week or so. But it is really all about who's controlling the debate here.

President Bush, again, will go before a friendly audience, the American Legion about 10:30 this morning, again, to make his case. I'm told there are not going to be new nuggets, necessarily. Maybe just a few here, but he will reiterate his message here, again, saying he will paint this as a picture of members of Congress, who are overstepping their bounds. That is what he is going to say.

He's going to say that this is a matter that is up to the generals, not up to the 535 members of Congress to decide how and when the war will be conducted, when to pull these troops.

He is also going to say that there is some progress, not only in Iraq, but in Afghanistan, the 300 plus new Australian troops that are going over, NATO forces that have been able to take over some of the Taliban. And, in Iraq, he's going to say, once again, pleading for some time and patience; saying, look, you only have half of the American and Iraqi brigades that are in force, that are in place, already seeing some diminishing sectarian violence.

Miles, we'll have to see whether or not this is going to be something that will play well to the American people. Already, again, the White House trying to shape this debate in their favor -- Miles.

M. O'BRIEN: You know, it's hard for the American people to get a real sense of when the money might really run out for those troops in Iraq. You hear Democrats say, well, it will be well into the summer. You hear Republicans with a different story. What is the best estimate?

MALVEAUX: You know, it really depends on who you ask. Because, Miles, that is a very good point here. A lot of different numbers being emphasized for different political reasons. You'll hear the White House talk about this kind of countdown, 64 days now, that they have requested this supplemental, this war spending. They will talk about that mid-April deadline, that they'll say, well, that's when the Pentagon will have to start shifting some money around.

And then they'll mention mid-May when they believe that some of those funds will be depleted. You'll have to see things that will affect the training. There will be some delays in actually sending some folks to different areas. So, it really, once again, depends on who you ask, and where your political points, kind of political point you're making.

M. O'BRIEN: Suzanne Malveaux at the White House, thank you.

Lawmakers will also take up the thorny issue of federal funding for stem cell research. The Senate likely to approve the idea and that sets the stage for another presidential veto. Democrats are marking 100 days of their congressional reign now. And they're riding pretty high. Right now 40 percent of the nation approves of the job lawmakers are doing, that's up 25 percent from the election last fall. The numbers from Associate Press/IPSOS polls -- Soledad.

S. O'BRIEN: The former First Lady Betty Ford is back home this morning after the surgery she had last week in Rancho Mirage, California. Her office says she's resting comfortably. She's recovering well. Still no word, though, on why exactly she had surgery. Mrs. Ford turned 89 on Sunday.

More words of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. are just coming to light and they're set to go to the highest bidder. We brought some of those words to you earlier in the year. Those notes and documents were sold for $32 million.

Now, more papers are emerging; 25 documents that provide insight into Dr. King's thinking.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

S. O'BRIEN (voice over): The papers stored away for nearly 40 years are said to be drafts of some of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.'s speeches, and letters and other documents. They go up for auction next week.

PAUL BROWN, OWNER, GALLERY 63: I've had an African prince contact me just this morning, and several research institutions contact me and several private dealers contact me.

S. O'BRIEN: Paul Brown, owner of an Atlanta auction house, says the papers belong to an elderly Maryland woman, a friend of the civil rights leader. Brown hasn't yet had an expert authenticate the documents, which is something the King family wants.

The family, though, is not waiting to speak out. They're vowing to halt the auction.

ISAAC NEWTON FARRIS, JR., NEPHEW OF MARTIN L. KING., JR.: They need to prove that they have acquired these papers legally and if they can't, and don't want to cooperate, then, unfortunately, we will have to litigate. S. O'BRIEN: The King family recently sold a large collection of Dr. King's papers to the city of Atlanta. Some of which were put on display at the Atlanta History Center. The speeches, sermons, notes and personal library are now at Martin Luther King's alma mater, where earlier this year I got unprecedented access to the collection.

(On camera): It is preserved here at the library for Morehouse College. The start of what is literally a treasure of Dr. King's thinking at the critical moments in civil rights history.

(Voice over): Brown estimates the documents he has could fetch up to $300,000 and he says he's open to selling them to the King family.

BROWN: I don't really want to be embroiled in a controversy with the King family. I just want to sell the papers to the highest bidder.

S. O'BRIEN: But the King family isn't interested in buying the papers.

FARRIS: The bottom line is my uncle owned his work. Therefore, his estate now owns his work.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

S. O'BRIEN: (AUDIO GAP) papers is remaining anonymous. The auction house says she obtained them in a debt settlement with a radio station that was connected to Dr. King -- Miles.

M. O'BRIEN: Coming up, freezing weather around the country, fire season in South Florida, flames right next to a busy highway. Chad tells us whether firefighters will get any help today.

Plus, "Imus In The Morning" suspended for two weeks. And questions for his political guests. Will they still want to appear on his show?

And is he a patient or is he a prisoner? CNN gets to talk with a man quarantined for more than eight months now with a rare form of tuberculosis. Is he getting the treatment he deserves?

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

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

M. O'BRIEN: Developing story from Florida this morning. Dry weather fueling a huge brush fire along Alligator Alley, that's the stretch of I-75, which goes through the Everglades. Thick smoke forced police to close sections of the interstate yesterday, but the road is back open this morning, we're told. The fire has burned 10,000 acres since Saturday, but it's not threatening any homes out there.

About 12 minutes past the hour, Chad Myers at the CNN Weather Center watching for any relief for firefighter there and there may be some rain, right? (WEATHER REPORT)

S. O'BRIEN: Don Imus is suspended. He'll be off the air for two weeks starting next Monday. That is not enough for lots of people. There is some growing pressure for him to be fired. Imus tried to explain his racist remarks yesterday on the Reverend Al Sharpton's radio show.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

IMUS: Everybody who is calling me a racist. Everybody who is calling me a bigot, everybody who says, I don't know anything about him, I've heard people say, I don't know what's in his heart. And I don't know, I've never listened to his show, but I want him fired. That's an ill-informed decision.

SHARPTON: Let me say this, we're going to take a break, we're going to come back and talk to Brian -- I don't know what's in your heart.

IMUS: I want people to make --

SHARTPON: I'm not going to call you a name. I'm not going to call you a bigot. I'm going to say what you said was racist. I'm going to say what you said was abominable. I'm going to say you should be fired for saying it.

IMUS: That's fine.

SHARTPON: You could be fired and the nicest guy in the world, but you ought to be fired.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

S. O'BRIEN: More perspective this morning from April Ryan, she is the White House correspondent and Washington bureau chief for American Urban Radio Network. She's in Baltimore this morning.

April, nice to see you, as always. What are your listeners saying today?

APRIL RYAN, AMERICAN URBAN RADIO NETWORK: My listeners are irate. They're just so upset about this. It is something that continues to happen with this person.

S. O'BRIEN: So, they say he should be fired. You know, it got such slow traction, at first. Some people have said, well, it was the holiday weekend and it was days before Imus actually even started retracting and kind of doing the apology tour, that we're in the middle of.

RYAN: Yes, yes.

S. O'BRIEN: Why do you think the traction was so slow? Does the holiday explain it? RYAN: Well, I think the holiday is part of it, but, unfortunately, Soledad, race is an issue that doesn't always make the front page. And it takes that slow build up and a lot of the civil rights leaders to put some fire behind it for it to really become a major news story, and it has now.

S. O'BRIEN: Gwen Ifill has a really terrific op-ed in "The New York Times" today. I mean, really nails it, I thought. And she's a friend and she's really brilliant.

RYAN: Yes.

S. O'BRIEN: And she says, you know, the biggest problem of all, it wasn't funny. There's nothing funny about a bunch of white middle- aged men sitting around mocking a bunch of young women who probably had one of the biggest disappointments in their lives -- their young lives, at this point. Why do you think Don Imus gets so many chances, where other shock jocks, in the past, would have been out of a job?

RYAN: As you said, he has done this before. Gwen Ifill, apparently was one of the butts of his jokes, and also, recently, Mya Angelo, and now this. This is a perpetual thing with him. And I guess it's about ratings; it's about money. And this is one reasons why he is not fired. He has been suspended versus back in 1999, the Greaseman, he talked about the dragging death of James Burt, saying I understand now why they dragged them behind trucks. That was something to incite. So I guess, that is why he was fired. This wasn't as egregious as that, but it was still -- it was awful just the same.

S. O'BRIEN: I've been listening to what some of our journalistic colleagues have been saying, many who go on his show, along with politicians, he has a lot of journalists on, too.

Tom Oliphant, from the "The Boston Globe", said this, "Whatever problem there was, I think he took care of it with his statement on Friday." Evan Thomas who is with "Newsweek" said this. "He should not have said what he said, obviously. I am going on the show though. I think if I didn't it would be posturing. I've been going on the show for some time, for quite some time.

So, I guess I don't understand the difference between posturing and drawing a line in the sand, to say you disagree with something so much it makes you stick up for your values -- whatever.

Do you think other journalists are going to say, I need to be on his show. It's worth my time to be on his show. Once this blows over I'll be back on his show, or do you think other people will say -- there will be a mass movement to say, no, no, no.

RYAN: I think right now it's about women and minorities. It's not just about minority women. It is women and minorities he's offended, and humanity as a whole.

Some of the colleagues I've talked to in the White House -- that have gone on the show, they say, hmm, I don't know. We'll just have to wait and see. We'll see how the winds are moving with this Imus show. But, you know, Soledad, it is very interesting. You are talking about people saying he has apologized. Dana Perino, the deputy White House press secretary, I asked her about the comments yesterday. And she said he has apologized and the president thinks that's the appropriate thing to do.

S. O'BRIEN: Yeah, no one is saying a whole heck of a lot. That's my one statement, I'm done. I think it was no comment from one of the politicians who appears on his show. No comment, because I don't want to be involved in this one. We'll wait until it blows over.

RYAN: Right, right.

S. O'BRIEN: I guess, we'll wait and see if he actually ends up talking to some of these young layers. April Ryan, always nice to check in with you, catch up with you. Thanks for talking with us.

RYAN: Great to be with you, Soledad.

S. O'BRIEN: Miles.

M. O'BRIEN: They're all scrambling for ten-foot poles right now, I think.

S. O'BRIEN: Yes.

M. O'BRIEN: All right, with all the attention focused on Imus what should happen to his executive producer, Bernard McGuirk? He actually was the first with the slurs, and it is part of a pattern. On February 2 he said Barack Obama has "a Jew-hating name", that's a quote. On March 6 he spoke about Hillary Clinton's speech in Selma, Alabama. You remember that speech, right? He said she was trying to sound black in front of a black audience. And she, quote, "will have cornrows and gold teeth" before this fight with Obama is over." McGuirk has been Imus' producer for 20 years.

S. O'BRIEN: What is wrong with these people? I mean, truly, what is wrong with them? That is my editorial comment, I'm moving on.

M. O'BRIEN: They're desperate to be funny. Let's leave it at that.

Coming up, some life-saving tips from Dr. Sanjay Gupta. Things you could do, starting today, to stay cancer free.

Plus, patient or prisoner? This man is considered extremely dangerous, but it's not because he committed any crime, it's because of an untreatable disease he has. Is it fair to quarantine him like they are? Stay with us for more AMERICAN MORNING.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

M. O'BRIEN: In Phoenix this morning an innocent man is sitting in a jail hospital, held against his will, in conditions you would expect for an inmate. We first brought you this story last week. He is getting criminal treatment only because he is very sick, and very contagious. Thelma Gutierrez got exclusive access to the patient.

THELMA GUTIERREZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice over): On the fourth floor of this Phoenix hospital, in a high-security jail ward, a patient is behind bars. He is considered dangerous, but not because he's committed a crime, but because he has a deadly drug-resistant strain of tuberculosis.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I think that was a threat to the community.

GUTIERREZ: He is 27-year-old Robert Daniels. For the past eight and a half months he has lived behind the doors of the sealed, specially ventilated room, without human contact. He was forced into quarantine by the Maricopa County Health Department and this is the first time that anyone outside of the hospital has seen him. CNN was given rare access to the ward.

(On camera): You've been there for eight months.

ROBERT DANIELS, TB PATIENT: Yeah.

GUTIERREZ: What have those eight months been like?

(Voice over): But we had to interview Daniels on the phone because he's contagious. Daniels says here he's treated like a prisoner, not a patient.

DANIELS: All of a sudden you've been called an inmate. You've been given a booking number and the room you're in have bars on the windows. There is no shower.

He has made his bed now and he has to sleep in it.

GUTIERREZ: The Maricopa County sheriff department and health officials say here Daniels was warned to wear a mask in public, he didn't. So, he was ordered into quarantine by the court.

DANIELS: Of course, I'm regretting what I did. I should have been a little more mature about all this.

GUTIERREZ: Daniel says he understands why he is in quarantine but says the conditions are unbearable. Ever since the sheriff's department took away his TV, radio and computer.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: When I first met Robert, the case didn't seem right. Robert was not an inmate, but, yet he was being treated like an inmate.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: One of Daniel's nurses, who didn't want to be identified blew the whistle. . The ACLU has stepped in saying his constitutional rights are being violated.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It really made me very upset to think that us, in America, could treat a patient so punitively.

GUTIERREZ: Daniel's treatment could take years. Torture, he says, because his wife and son live in Moscow.

DANIELS: Every day I sit on the bed and I remember my wife. And I realize I can't talk to her. I sit there and cry. What else do I have to do? Because I couldn't do nothing, nothing.

GUTIERREZ: Robert Daniels is not sure when he'll be able to see them or anyone else again.

Thelma Gutierrez, CNN, Phoenix, Arizona.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

M. O'BRIEN: In just a few moments we'll speak with the sheriff of Maricopa County and ask him why Robert Daniels is being treated just this way -- Soledad.

S. O'BRIEN: Price of oil tumbles as tensions in the Middle East eases somewhat. If only the price of gas would follow, huh? It's 25 minutes past the hour and Ali Velshi is "Minding Your Business".

(BUSINESS HEADLINES)

S. O'BRIEN: Top stories of the morning coming up next. It may be the most important thing you see today, a new report detailing the best ways to avoid getting cancer. Dr. Sanjay Gupta joins us. He'll be bringing it to us.

We just heard from a patient with a rare form of tuberculosis, locked away in Arizona. Coming up next, we'll talk to the sheriff who is in charge of his controversial treatment.

Plus, Don Imus speaks out on the controversy that could end his career. You're watching AMERICAN MORNING, the most news in the morning right here on CNN.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SOLEDAD O'BRIEN, CNN ANCHOR, AMERICAN MORNING: Good morning everybody. Welcome back, everybody. It's Tuesday, April 10th. I'm Soledad O'Brien.

MILES O'BRIEN, CNN ANCHOR, AMERICAN MORNING: And I'm Miles O'Brien. Thanks for being with us.

S. O'BRIEN: Several developing stories we're watching for you this morning. The radio host Don Imus just on the verge of being suspended for two weeks after the racist remarks he made about Rutgers women's basketball team. Question now is, can he save his career?

M. O'BRIEN: Also ahead, the Pentagon expected to tell thousands of troops in Iraq to cancel their summer vacation plans, if they had them. Their tours of duty likely to be extended. We'll tell you by how long and why.

S. O'BRIEN: Plus a CNN exclusive. A man locked up in prison. Not guilty of a crime, he's got a deadly disease that can't be treated with drugs. We're going to talk to the sheriff who's in charge of him.

M. O'BRIEN: We begin this morning with the growing pressure on radio host Don Imus to quit or be fired. The New York NAACP will join the chorus in a few hours. The group planning a news conference to demand Imus be shown the door. CBS and MSNBC are suspending the talk show host for two weeks starting Monday as punishment for those racial and sexist slurs aimed at the Rutgers women's basketball team. Imus talked about the situation with the Reverend Al Sharpton. Take a listen.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

REV. AL SHARPTON: What is any possible reason you could feel that this kind of statement could be just forgiven and overlooked?

DON IMUS: I don't think it should be. I don't think it can be. I think it can be forgiven, but I don't think it can be overlooked and I, when I originally apologized on Friday, I apologized and I didn't say what everybody says. If I offended somebody I'm sorry, because I knew I offended somebody. So, I apologized. But I didn't want to be portrayed as offering an excuse, saying what we have is a comedy show, which it is. I'm not a journalist. I'm not Tim Russert. I'm not a politician. I don't have any -- we don't have an agenda. Our agenda is to try to be funny. Sometimes we go too far, sometimes we go way too far.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

M. O'BRIEN: The other big part of the story will play out at 11:00 Eastern this morning. That's when the Rutgers players insulted by Imus are expected to speak. So stay tuned to CNN throughout the day. We'll keep you posted. Imus also just denied to NBC's "Today Show" that he ever called PBS correspondent Gwen Eiffel (ph) a cleaning lady. Eiffel was Capitol Hill correspondent for NBC at the time. Eiffel is out with an editorial for today's "New York Times." She says when she heard about the cleaning lady comment, she was taken aback but not outraged. But she wonders, writing today, to quote her now, why do my journalistic colleagues appear on Mr. Imus' program? That's for them to defend and others to argue about.

We want to hear from you this morning. Is a two-week suspension sufficient punishment for Don Imus? Go to cnn.com to vote and see the latest results. Right now 60 percent of you say yes and 40 percent of you say no. Remember, the poll is not scientific. Soledad?

S. O'BRIEN: Let's turn to Iraq now where 15,000 U.S. troops may have to stay in Iraq longer than expected. The U.S. commander, General David Petraeus says he needs in order to keep the new security plan working. CNN's Barbara Starr live for us at the Pentagon this morning. Hey, Barbara, good morning.

BARBARA STARR, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Good morning to you, Soledad. CNN was the first to report yesterday that the Pentagon is now considering a request from commanders in Iraq to extend the tour of duty for up to 15,000 combat troops to extend that tour by up to four months. Defense Secretary Robert Gates is reviewing it all and he may actually sign off on it by the end of this week, we are told. Why is this on the table right now? Commanders in Iraq say the reinforced troop levels, that so-called surge is having some results and they are going to need to keep more troops on duty, at least through the fall of this year. So, in order to do that, in order to crunch the numbers and make it work, they're going to have to keep some of these troops in Iraq for longer than their one-year tour in order to keep those higher levels up. Soledad?

S. O'BRIEN: Talking of higher levels, when you look at the numbers, the high levels frankly of the numbers of troops killed, especially (INAUDIBLE) if you just look at this month alone, the first half of this month alone. At what point when you have so many troops killed do people start feeling like this surge is not working or it's not worth it?

STARR: You know, what was so interesting when you asked me that, when I walk into the Pentagon yesterday morning, Monday morning, the first thing I heard from a senior official here in the building was, it was a terrible weekend. Of course, the U.S. lost 10 troops in Iraq over this past weekend and that was something that was of great concern, really stunned commanders here in the building. The troop level, the casualty rate is up right now and it is a matter of great concern. If you just look at the numbers for the first three months of this year, tragically the killed in action rate was 80 people a month or higher for U.S. troops. That's the first time it's been that high over a three-month period. So, while some parts of this so- called surge may be working, clearly U.S. troops right now are paying a very heavy price for that.

S. O'BRIEN: Maybe it's more troops, more targets, so it makes sense in some way. All right, Barbara Starr for us at the Pentagon. Thanks, Barbara, as always.

Some of the other headlines we're watching for you this morning. We're going to hear from both sides over the spending bill need to fund the war in Iraq. The president expected to repeat his plans to veto any bill that includes a deadline for pulling troops out of Iraq. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid's going to hold his own news conference after the president speaks and the senator says he'll move to cut off money for the war if indeed the president does go ahead and veto the bill.

Congress gets back to work today after its Easter break and the Democratic leadership riding high. Right now 40 percent of the nation approves the job that lawmakers are doing, according to a new Associated Press Ipsos poll. That's up from 25 percent right before the election last fall. So, 40 percent is not a great number, but better than it was I guess is the way to put it.

The price of gas is up nearly a dime over the past week. A gallon of regular unleaded now averages $2.87. Gas was going for $2.68 a gallon this time last year.

We find out today, apparently, if this man right here, that's Larry Birkhead. You've seen him 10 million times now. We find out if he indeed is the father of Anna Nicole Smith's baby daughter. Bahama's court expected to release the results of a DNA test this afternoon. Birkhead's been insisting that he is in fact little Dannielynn's dad. Howard K. Stern, which is Smith's former attorney, has also been saying the same exact thing. No, he's the daddy. Miles?

M. O'BRIEN: In Phoenix this morning an innocent man is sitting in a jail hospital held against his will in conditions you would expect for an inmate. We first brought you his story last week. He's getting criminal treatment only because he is very sick and very contagious. Joining me now is the Maricopa County sheriff Joe Arpaio, who was instrumental in putting Mr. Daniels in this position. Robert Daniels is his name. Sheriff, good to have you with us. The conditions of his confinement, no visitation, no hot water, no showers, no TV, no cell phone, no natural light. If you were somebody accuse of a crime, we'd say fine. He's not accused of a crime. How do you defend that kind of treatment?

SHERIFF JOE ARPAIO, MARICOPA COUNTY SHERIFF'S OFFICE: He was a TV (sic) time bomb. He was placed into the jail that I run in a hospital. It is a Catch 22. He hasn't been charged with any crime, but a patient advocate took, placed a TV and a cell phone in his cell against my policies. This came to my attention recently. I looked at it and I probably will give him back his cell phone and his TV.

M. O'BRIEN: He'd like to be able to surf the Internet, what's the matter with that?

ARPAIO: We don't have a cable, a place to plug the computer into his cell. So, he's not going to get that.

M. O'BRIEN: But what about wireless service or something like that?

ARPAIO: Well, I don't know.

M. O'BRIEN: Couldn't you rig something up for him?

ARPAIO: He's not getting a computer. He's getting a cell phone and he's getting a little TV. I don't allow my 10,000 inmates to have television --

M. O'BRIEN: He's not an inmate. He's not an inmate. He's a patient, right?

ARPAIO: He's in my jail. But on the other hand, I'm going to relinquish my policy a little. He's going to get it back. If he messes up, I'll take it back out. If he's ever charged with a crime, then he's going to follow the policy.

M. O'BRIEN: It seems to me that there is some confusion here, sir, about punishment versus quarantine. Everybody would agree he needs to be in quarantine, Nobody wants this virulent form of tuberculosis to be spread. But he's being punished isn't he?

ARPAIO: I didn't put him in there. He's in my jail. Put him somewhere else. M. O'BRIEN: What about that. Where else could he be?

ARPAIO: That's a good question. That's the desired situation that we have here. What happens if there's 100 and 200 epidemic? What do you do? Maybe we ought to study that and come up with a different solution other than placing him in my jail system.

M. O'BRIEN: You proudly call yourself one of the toughest sheriffs in the nation, if not the toughest sheriff. For people who are not familiar I want to share some of the things you do there as relates to people who are in your jails. You only provide two meals a day, no salt and pepper, apparently that saves about 20,000 bucks a year. You require them to wear pink underwear and you also have female and juvenile chain gangs. You're a tough sheriff. Maybe in this case some of that toughness is not appropriate.

ARPAIO: Like I said, I'm going to give him back his cell phone and a little TV. So, I'm, once again, I am giving in. I think it's the right thing to do right now because he is not charged with any crime. If he was charged, I would never give in.

M. O'BRIEN: Let me ask you this, no one is suggesting he's going to be charged so just let's just leave that out there. Is there a solution? Can you in a creative way come up with a better way to keep this person, Robert Daniels, from being a threat to society without putting him in a situation where he's being treated this way?

ARPAIO: Yeah. Since he hasn't been charged, come up with some other facility, a hospital or some other place to put him other than placing him in the jail. '

M. O'BRIEN: If you or I had this terrible form of TB, where would we be in Phoenix?

ARPAIO: I don't know where you'd be. That's a good question. He wasn't complying with rules and regulations when he was on the street. Refused to wear his mask, figuring that he would be taken as a stick- up guy. He wasn't cooperative.

M. O'BRIEN: What about this. What if you put him on an ankle bracelet. He promised to wear the mask, he was under house arrest. Would you go along with that?

ARPAIO: Well, I don't know. Once again, I guess in a way I have to protect society, too. But this is not my issue. It's a health department issue and the courts. I just run the jails, but I run it the way I want to run it.

M. O'BRIEN: Maricopa County sheriff, Joe Arpaio, thanks for your time.

ARPAIO: Thank you.

M. O'BRIEN: Soledad?

S. O'BRIEN: Ahead this morning, battle against cancer. We're going to show you some of the best ways to try to keep yourself cancer free.

Plus, can coffee stave off Parkinson's disease? A new study may leave you asking for a second cup. You're watching AMERICAN MORNING. The most news in the morning right here on CNN.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

M. O'BRIEN: It's quarter of the hour. Chad Myers at the CNN weather center watching some cold temperatures, once again. Hello, Chad.

CHAD MYERS, CNN METEOROLOGIST: Good morning, Miles. It is three degrees above zero right now in Marquette, 28 in Detroit. So still a little bit chilly here across the northeast, but not breaking as many records as we broke yesterday. There's that cold air across the UP of Michigan, also up north of Michigan as well. We did have record lows yesterday and they were everywhere from Marquette through Duluth, even Baltimore, Maryland, and Islip out on the island, 28 degrees out there and that broke a new record for Monday morning.

We're not breaking any yet this morning but temperatures still could go down a little bit. The next observation, the next time that all the weather service offices go outside, take a look at the temperature, will be in about looks like six minutes from now. Memphis seeing some showers, so is most of Louisiana. Heavy rainfall there and some much-needed rainfall sliding across Florida today from Orlando northward through Ocala and Jacksonville. The next 48 hours, some of these purple areas here (INAUDIBLE), six inches of rain or more and that could cause some flooding in some of the areas, although Florida does runs off fairly well and the ground is pretty sandy for that rain to soak in. Soledad, back to you.

S. O'BRIEN: Good news, all right, Chad, thank you.

Health news this morning. A study out on the number of Americans who are more than 100 pounds overweight. The latest figures from 2005 show that 6.8 million Americans are morbidly obese, that is up from 4.2 million back in 2000. There could be an extra benefit for folks who perform the slow and graceful movements of Tai Chi (INAUDIBLE) fitness and balance. Apparently, it also might prevent shingles. That's part of a new study. Researchers found that older people who do Tai Chi had better immune systems to fight the painful skin condition. The study comes from the "Journal of American Geriatric Society."

And here's an unlikely way to avoid disease. People from families prone to Parkinson's who drink coffee or smoke are less likely to develop the disease. That's kind of a weird one, unclear why at this point. The study was published in the "Journal Archives of Neurology."

Every minute every day, three Americans develop cancer. One American will die from cancer. Those figures according to the American Cancer Society and a new study just released this morning shows what Americans are doing or in many cases maybe not doing to try to prevent getting cancer. So we're paging Dr. Sanjay Gupta to get more information on all this. Sanjay, good morning. DR. SANJAY GUPTA, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Good morning. That's striking to hear those numbers. That often someone dying, contracting cancer. We talked a lot about trend in this country with regards to cancer and some good news and bad news, like doctors like to say. With regards to cancer itself, some of the numbers in terms of overall deaths have actually decreased, but there's some worrisome trends in there, as well with regards to a couple things. Smoking, we talk about that a lot. Thirty percent of cancer deaths probably attributable to smoking every year. One of the worrisome trends here is the numbers have not gone down, in fact may have gone up slightly among high school students. So people who are very young who may develop some of the effects of this years down the road.

Also with regards to breast cancer. Breast cancer is about 15 percent of all cancer deaths. We talk a lot about mammograms. Some of the information on mammograms admittedly is somewhat confusing, but here's something to keep in mind is that the number of mammograms actually out there, the people giving them. Again, the numbers have not increased, probably decreased a little bit. Not getting that early screening, one of the best ways of trying to stave off breast cancer later on down the line.

Also if there is a bombshell out there, it has to do with obesity. We talk about this a lot, 20 percent of cancer deaths actually attributable to obesity. When it comes specifically, you talk about adults, the numbers have doubled. With kids, the numbers have tripled in kids. Kids only about one in five of them actually get the recommended amount of fruits and vegetables every day. Only about a third of them are getting the amount of exercise. Phys ed classes are being cut. They're not being offering the healthy lunches. It's hard out there, for sure. But these are some of the worrisome trends despite the fact that the overall number has gone down.

S. O'BRIEN: And it's the food, the diet that and exercise that really have some big links in whether or not you're going to develop cancer. Let's talk first about nutrition and diet. What is a good diet, basic diet that will help you avoid getting cancer?

GUPTA: It's not that hard. We talked a little bit yesterday about the seven colors of the rainbow and what you should eat every day. For kids in particular, five servings of fruits and vegetables every day. If you get that in there, that's probably going to give you most of the cancer fighting stuff that you probably need. Avoid processed food. That makes sense. Red meats, really try and limit that, as well. You don't need to avoid it altogether, but do try and limit that. As far as alcohol goes, this is another link. About one drink a day for woman and two drinks a day for men. That seems to be the best sort of overall diet. This is not adding anything fancy to it. But if you're trying to just ward off cancer, this seems to be pretty helpful.

S. O'BRIEN: What about exercise? Is there a bare minimum you need to be doing?

GUPTA: It varies a little bit for children versus adults again. For children, they're saying, you know, well for adults 30 minutes a day, five days a week for 45 to 60 minutes preferable if you can do it. And we put that in there, Soledad because a lot of people look and that and say, I just can't get that much time in.

S. O'BRIEN: That's a lot of time if you're busy.

GUPTA: If you're busy, 30 minutes if you can get that in for adults, 60 minutes for kids as well. The big concern as we've gone around the nation talking about this is that so many phys ed programs in school districts are being cut. A lot of schools only have one day of PE a week.

S. O'BRIEN: Shocking isn't it, remember when you had to go every single day or three times a week.

GUPTA: An hour a week.

S. O'BRIEN: A million years ago when we were...

GUPTA: I know. I know. We need to change some of those trends.

S. O'BRIEN: It would be nice to bring that one back for sure. All right, Sanjay thank you. We'll chat with you a little bit later about your new book with some terrific tips.

GUPTA: I'll give you that diet I promised.

S. O'BRIEN: I'll take that, I need that. Miles?

M. O'BRIEN: Will I live to be 150 if I follow it, Sanjay?

S. O'BRIEN: Yes you will. I guarantee it.

GUPTA: Guaranteed. I'll be around for it.

M O'BRIEN: OK, excellent.

Coming up, a difficult decision for a family. And a life and death battle for a tiny baby and over who should decide, the parents or the hospital.

Another bomb scare in Boston, this time kids are involved. Stay with us for more AMERICAN MORNING.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

M. O'BRIEN: Happening in America this morning, a heart breaking tug of war in Texas over a terminally ill 17-month old boy. Emilio Gonzalez is in the hospital in Austin, hooked up to tubes to help him breathe and eat. He has Lee's (ph) disease, a disorder that causes the brain tissue to die. Today his mom, Katrina, will be in court trying to stop doctors from pulling the plug. A law passed by then Governor George Bush lets the hospital make the life or death call.

In Alabama, punishment for three former college students for a rash of church fires a little more than a year ago. Matthew Cord (ph) and Benjamin Mosley (ph) sentenced to eight years in Federal prison and ordered to pay more than $3 million in restitution. Russell Debusk (ph) sentenced to seven years. The arson spree began as a joke during a night of underage drinking.

Indian, a ruling that myspace is free speech. An appeals court backed up a teenager who had posted a foul-mouthed criticism of her principal on myspace. The principal complained. The girl was punished, put on nine months probation. The appeals court ruled her free speech rights had been violated.

S. O'BRIEN: He'll be off the air for two weeks, but is that enough? Coming up, the pressure that is building and could end the career of Don Imus. We'll have the very latest live.

Plus a request that will likely keep thousands of U.S. troops in Iraq longer than their scheduled tours. You're watching AMERICAN MORNING. The most news in the morning is right here on CNN.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

M. O'BRIEN: You know, I'm confused about the economy at this point. A few minute before the top of the hour. Ali Velshi is here. It seems like every morning we get an up and a down...(ph). Here's a down one.

ALI VELSHI, CNN CORRESPONDENT: This is a down. We're talking about housing a lot this week and we just got word from DR Horton that their sales for the first three months of this year, their orders are down 37 percent, the net orders for the first three months of this year. The dollar value of those orders are down 41 percent. If you recall about a month ago I was telling you about Donald Horton, the chairman of the company, the CEO, who said at a conference here in New York. He said 2007 is going to suck. Those are his words, not mine.

M. O'BRIEN: Technical term.

VELSHI: Technical term, 2007 is going to suck, all of it. They come out with these numbers. The largest drop, California, 59 percent fewer orders this first quarter than there were last year. The southwest has also been pretty rough, a 39 percent drop. The northeast has seen a 21 percent drop. DR Horton which is the biggest home builder in the country doesn't operate in the Midwest so we don't have comparative numbers in the Midwest.

M. O'BRIEN: So when they say this, that is probably industry wide.

VELSHI: Correct. If they're feeling it, they're all feeling it.

M. O'BRIEN: Thank you Ali.

S. O'BRIEN: Bad news.

Some of the top stories in the morning to share with you. Most popular right now on cnn.com. Howard K. Stern has hired Ramsey parents lawyer. It's all getting more complicated isn't it? Attorney Lin Wood (ph), you can see him there, whose clients include the parents of Jon Benet Ramsey will be representing Howard K. Stern, who is Anna Nicole Smith's lawyer turned partner. Lin wood says Stern may sue media organizations that he says have implicated him in the death of Smith and her son, Daniel.

M. O'BRIEN: Also on the web, space tourist, billionaire Charles Simoni (ph) made his money with things like Microsoft Word and Excel is now on the international space station. Where is he? There he is laughing, this is great up here on the right part of your screen. Well of course, he is having a blast. Just spent 20 million bucks, comes out to about $2 million a day. He and two Russian cosmonauts floated into the station this morning and on the ground applauding it all and offering up some good cheer is - there's Simoni. He's having so much fun there. He is flipping his gal pal Martha Stewart who was in mission control. She packed for him, a gourmet meal.

S. O'BRIEN: Nice thing about having Martha Stewart as a friend, you're going to eat well for sure.

Coming up at the top of the hour, let's get right to Chad Myers at the CNN weather center for a look at the top weather story of the morning. Good morning to you Chad.

MYERS: I like that billionaire ring, Soledad, don't you? Soledad O'Brien, billionaire. I own a mansion and a yacht.

S. O'BRIEN: Yes, yes, keep going. Forget the weather, keep going.

MYERS: Rain showers in New Orleans today and into Mobile, into Miami and they could use some rain down there. That may help that firefighting effort out there in the

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