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North Korea Will Get Frozen Cash in Exchange for Promise to Shut Down Nuclear Program; McCain Plans Major Campaign Speech Today
Aired April 11, 2007 - 07:00:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
ALINA CHO, CNN CORRESPONDENT: A spokesperson for Procter & Gamble said, quote, "Effective Friday, April 6th P&G pulled all of our brand advertising from the MSNBC daytime rotation ... That is until we can evaluate the situation fully."
And in this statement from the office supply chain, "Staples is pulling ads from Imus' program on MSNBC. Recent comments made on the program prompted us to revise our decision to advertise, and as of now, we are not advertising on the program."
Now, later this week, we are told by the university, the team, the coaching staff, and Don Imus will meet face-to-face for the first time, time and place to be determined. That meeting will be private. Yesterday I sat down with the team captain who told me what it felt like to be the target of racist remarks by one of the most powerful men in the media.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ESSENCE CARSON, RUTGERS PLAYER: It was just like we were so vulnerable at that point. We were like the innocent little child that gets struck by a hit and run. No one really knows why or understands why it happens. But it does, and then you just are left with a bunch of broken hearts.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CHO: The players have not said whether they believe Don Imus should resign. They said that will depend on the outcome of the meeting, what Imus says to them during that face-to-face meeting. For now, though, Don Imus' punishment is a two-week suspension, Soledad, and he will begin serving that on Monday.
S. O'BRIEN: Alina Cho for us on the Rutgers campus. Thank you, Alina.
The team captain, Essence Carson, who you just saw there, talking to Alina and the Rutgers Coach C. Vivian Stringer will be talking to us in a few minutes at 7:15 a.m. Eastern this morning -- Miles.
MILES O'BRIEN, CNN ANCHOR, AMERICAN MORNING: Now to another college campus and another story with racial implications. Defense attorneys are telling CNN the three former Duke University lacrosse players accused of sexual assault by a stripper in March of 2006 will be exonerated today. CNN's Jason Carol covering this story from the very beginning. He joins us now live from Raleigh -- Jason. JASON CARROLL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Good morning to you, Miles.
Hearing a lot of information down here in Raleigh-Durham about the timing of the announcement from the attorney general's office. We are hearing from both sides -- both sides saying they expect an announcement any time soon. It could be today. It could be sometime this week.
In fact, just yesterday, very late yesterday, Reid Seligmann, he is one of the lacrosse players, his family arrived in the Durham area late yesterday expecting the announcement. The question, Miles, is what type of announcement will come down?
Defense sources telling us they are very confident that all three players, Reid Seligmann, Colin Finnerty and Dave Evans will be exonerated. But there's also a question, Miles, in terms of how they will be exonerated.
In other words, will the attorney general's office come out and say that these boys committed no crime, or will they come out with what the defense says could be some sort of a weaker statement and say based on our investigation, we find no evidence that a crime was committed. That sort of leaves a window open.
And, Miles, our sources are telling us that if the attorney general's office comes out with that weaker statement, the defense will hold a press conference where they will -- where they will lay out a detailed timeline, which they say will show all three of these boys could not have committed the crime. One of the details in that press conference will be an American Express right from Colin Finnerty, which they say shows he could not have been there when that crime was allegedly committed -- Miles.
M. O'BRIEN: Meanwhile, through all of this, the prosecutor who pushed this case, in the midst of a re-election campaign, allegedly trying to curry favor with the African-American community, now facing possible disbarment. Tell us about that.
CARROLL: Well, basically, Miles, just to remind those who have been following this case, you'll remember that Michael Nifong recused himself -- asked to be recused from the case in December. Attorney general's office agreed. Right after that defense attorneys filed charges with the state bar basically saying -- accusing Michael Nifong of misconduct and of obstruction of justice.
There's going to be a hearing. The first hearing on that is this Friday. That's a lengthy process. We're just in the beginning stages of that, but Nifong looking at trouble especially if the attorney general's office comes out, as expected -- at least from the sources that we're hearing -- and decides to exonerate these boys in some way, shape, or form.
M. O'BRIEN: Jason Carroll in Raleigh, North Carolina, thank you.
S. O'BRIEN: A possible breakthrough to tell you about over night in the push to shut down North Korea's nuclear program. Let's get the very latest from Zain Verjee. She's at the State Department in Washington, D.C.
Good morning to you, Zain.
ZAIN VERJEE, CNN STATE DEPT. CORRESPONDENT: Good morning to you, Soledad.
The U.S. Treasury Department says that it's going to release North Korea's money that has been frozen for the past 18 months at a bank in Macao, known as Banco Delta Asia. We're talking about the sum of $25 million just to be given back, with no strings attached.
There's been a delay in the process in making that happen. North Korea essentially, Soledad, has insisted give us the money back, or we're not going to take steps to shut down our nuclear facility at Yongbyong (ph), which it's expected to be under a February 13th agreement.
Now, Bill Richardson, the Democratic presidential candidate, is in North Korea. He met with officials there, and this is what he had to say earlier today.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GOV. BILL RICHARDSON (D), NEW MEXICO: The BDA issue is resolved, and now we need to move forward. The North Korean government told us that with that issue resolved, the DPRK would move promptly, within a day after receiving the funds, and, therefore, within that day, invite the IAEA to Pyongyang or inspectors to drop the terms for shutting down the Yongbyong (ph) reactor.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
VERJEE: Soledad, if North Korea does actually follow through on that, it would be the first time they're actually showing any indication of pulling back on nuclear development, at least since 2003, where it actually kicked out inspectors and started up and fired up its facility at Yongbyong (ph) -- Soledad.
S. O'BRIEN: Of course, shutting down a nuclear facility, as you well know, is not as easy as, oh, flip the switch, there you go. It's shut down. It's much more complicated than that.
VERJEE: Exactly. It's much more complicated, and it will take time. Now, North Korea has said that they're not going to take any steps to do that until they get this money back. They still have to get the money back, although the way has been cleared.
Basically they have until Saturday, which is a 60-day deadline for them to shut down the reactors. You say it's going to take time. There are indications, though, hence from the State Department, that there could be an extension. One State Department official said yesterday that closing down the plant too fast could lead to technical problems, that could lead to safety issues.
Although, one other thing to add, Soledad, officials that have spoken to CNN have told us that there are indications that the Yongbyong (ph) facility is being shut down, but it's not really clear if there are technical problems, or if a political decision has been made overall to take the action and shut it down.
S. O'BRIEN: Better to miss the deadline by a little bit than to rush the shutdown. Zain Verjee for us this morning at the State Department. Thank you, Zain.
M. O'BRIEN: In Washington this morning the politicians are posturing over how to pay for the Iraq war and whether there will be any deadlines for bringing the troops home. Yesterday President Bush invited Democratic leaders to an Oval Office meeting to discuss the matter, and then he insisted there will be no negotiating over timetables.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We can discuss the way forward on a bill that is a clean bill, a bill that funds our troops without artificial timetables for withdrawal and without handcuffing our generals on the ground.
SEN. HARRY REID (D-NV), MAJORITY LEADER: The president is inviting us down to the White House with preconditions. That's not the way things should operate.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
M. O'BRIEN: The president says he will veto any war funding bill that includes deadlines for troop withdrawals. Democrats do not have the votes to override that veto. Amid the political squabbling, the Pentagon is drafting marching orders that would extend tours of duty for nearly every service man and woman who serves in Iraq. CNN's Barbara Starr, live at the Pentagon with more.
Good morning, Barbara.
BARBARA STARR, CNN PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT: Good morning to you, Miles.
It seems like we're talking almost every day now here about troop extensions, troop deployments, troops going early. Just yesterday we were talking about a possible extension of the tour for 15,000 troops. Now the Army is saying it is considering offering a proposal that would extend the tour of duty in Iraq for all Army troops.
Right now, they served a one-year tour of duty. They're talking about extending that now to 15 months on the ground, on the frontline. Why? Well, it's becoming a very tough problem, of course, to keep enough troops in Iraq for that so-called surge for the security operations that are underway. But several sources we have talked to, here at the Pentagon, caution about this notion of extending the tour of duty for everybody in the Army in Iraq because of the fairness issue.
You know, the Marine Corps serves about a seven-month tour of duty. If the Army goes to 15 months, twice as long, that may well be a morale buster -- Miles.
M. O'BRIEN: Barbara, the timing on all this, why is this coming up now?
STARR: Ah, well, you know, it's basically becoming a math problem. Look at it this way. The requirement for troops on the ground in Iraq is 20 combat brigades. That's what General Petraeus, right now, says he needs. So, 20 combat brigades, 3,500 troops a piece.
How do you keep that going? They have enough to keep going through summer, but now the indications are they want to extend this force level on the ground through the autumn, and if they're going to do that over the long-term, they have to either come up with 3,500 fresh troops almost every month, or make some fundamental changes in how they do business in Iraq -- Miles.
M. O'BRIEN: Barbara Starr at the Pentagon. Thank you.
You would think with a title like "czar" people would jump at the chance. But the White House is having a hard time finding a general to fill a proposed "war czar" slot. This comes from today's "Washington Post". The paper says three retired four-star generals have turned the job down.
Marine General Sheehan, Army General Jack Keane and Air Force General Joseph Ralston. General Sheehan tells the paper, quote, "they," referring to the White House, "don't know where the heck they're going. Rather than go over there, develop an ulcer and eventually leave, I said no thanks.
The article says the White House was hoping to create the post to better oversee the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.
S. O'BRIEN: A report out today shows that sex abuse claims against Catholic Church are steadily dropping. The report compiled by the U.S. bishops says 714 claims were made last year; 69 fewer than the year before, 2005. The church paid almost $400 million in settlements in 2006, but that was down by $68 million. Since the year 1950 the church has paid out $1.5 billion to settle thousands of molestation claims.
We have another pet food recall to tell you about. Menu Foods, once again in the news, recalling pet food made in Streetsville, Ontario, Canada. The company previously recalled cat and dog food that was made at its plants in New Jersey and Kansas, because of contamination by an industrial chemical. You want to log on to CNN.com for a complete list of all the food that's been recalled.
M. O'BRIEN: Coming up, spring snow in the Midwest already delaying flights in Chicago. Chad Myers tracking the morning's extreme weather.
Plus, Imus and the Rutgers women's basketball team. We'll talk to the head coach and the team captain.
And he was mauled by a mountain lion. His wife fought the lion off with a pen. Saved his life. We'll talk to them, see how they're doing.
You're watching AMERICAN MORNING, the most news in the morning right here.
M. O'BRIEN: This just in to CNN. This comes from the East Coast of Florida; Melbourne, it is. This is what's left of an apartment complex there. It blew up a couple of hours ago, apparently after a natural gas leak. Seven are hurt, including a three-year-old and an 11-month-old baby. Two are missing in the rubble. Firefighters are searching for them right now, as you see.
It's about a quarter past the hour right now. Chad Myers watching the weather for us, and as he said a while ago, it looks more like February than April.
M. O'BRIEN: Coming up in the program, handfuls of candy and a very close call for a store clerk. It's a robbery that -- is a little different. We'll show you the video.
And an air pistol is just the start. Pictures of women in bondage, and Chinese fortunes, it's the strange case of the lovelorn astronaut -- getting stranger. AMERICAN MORNING continues after a moment.
M. O'BRIEN: Happening in America this morning: In Tennessee, northeast of Nashville, a fire destroys a lakeside home that once belongs to Johnny Cash. The singer and his wife, June Carter Cash, lived there until they died a few years ago. The new owner Barry Gibb, of the Bee Gee's, was in the process of renovating the house. The cause of the fire not known.
In Florida the case of the former astronaut, Lisa Nowak, takes another weird twist. Orlando Police say they found a computer disk in Nowak's car containing photos and drawings depicting female bondage. There are also British pounds and 69 unidentified orange pills in the vehicle. Nowak pleaded innocent to a number of charges, including attempted kidnapping after she drove from Houston to Orlando two months ago confronting a woman she suspected of being a romantic rival.
Auburn, Maine, now, a suspected peeping Tom has some explaining to do. The owner of this historic inn, the Munroe Inn is accused of suspected of putting a hidden camera inside that clock radio. He faces one count of violation of privacy. He claims he was simply trying to catch an employee who was breaking things.
S. O'BRIEN: Sure.
M. O'BRIEN: Sure.
In Arizona a bust at the border. This is a weird one. It's not the kind of bust you would normally expect at the border, if you know what I mean. Customs officers recovered more than 1,000 stolen wedding gowns. You never know who'll turn up, right? The dresses worth more than 3 million bucks. Thieves took the donated gowns from a Scottsdale parking lot last November. They were on their way to California for a cancer fundraiser. The organization grants wishes to dying cancer patients. Kind of hard to fence dresses.
In Milwaukee, a couple of crooks with a sweet tooth. This is a surveillance video from the gas station showing one of the suspects grabbing an arm full of candy and heading out the door. And the clerk chases him, which is not a good idea, clerks. One of the suspects fires a gun. Fortunately, the bullet only tore a hole in the clerk's pants. Police are still looking for the suspects.
S. O'BRIEN: Look now, this morning, at how the Rutgers women's basketball team is reacting to Don Imus' racially offensive comments and all those repeated apologies. The team has agreed to meet privately this week, most likely, with Imus.
Joining us this morning from the Rutgers campus in Piscataway, New Jersey is Coach C. Vivian Stringer and Team Captain Essence Carson.
Ladies, nice to see you. Thanks for talking with us. We appreciate it. Let's begin with the coach if we can.
Have you set a specific date, a specific time for this meeting with Imus? Can you tell us what it is?
COACH C. VIVIAN STRINGER, RUTGERS WOMEN'S BASKETBALL: No, I can't tell you the time, date, nor location, with all due respect for our own privacy.
S. O'BRIEN: Because you --
STRINGER: We need to have this -- this is a personal meeting between Mr. Imus and this team as well as the parents of the young ladies.
S. O'BRIEN: So you know the date and time, you just don't want to let any of the media know so you can have a serious one-on-one, you know, team to him conversation.
Essence, let me ask you a question. He said he is sorry in at least eight different ways that I have counted now. Do you get the sense that he is sincere when he says he is sorry?
ESSENCE CARSON, RUTGERS TEAM CAPTAIN: I'm sorry, but we haven't received a personal apology. We have heard about these apologies, and that's why this meeting that we're going to have with him, which is private, is going to be so crucial. Because, you know, he gets to state his apologies. We get to know the man behind the camera, behind the video broadcaster, behind the radio broadcaster, just as much as he gets to know the young women behind the basketball team, the young women behind the remarks.
S. O'BRIEN: Coach Stringer, you know, you talk a lot in the press conference about your faith, and I know you talk about your faith a lot. Are you inclined to go into this meeting and forgive, or not?
STRINGER: I can promise you that I am going into this meeting with an open heart and open mind. I just -- I just know that I will always be very protective of my young ladies. I suffered the same hurt and so many people across this world suffer hurt, and we have to have change. So I promise you that it is through strength, and it is through God's strength that we've been able to stand and overcome the kinds of things that we have. So I trust that he will guide us.
S. O'BRIEN: You've held back, though, on calling for him to lose his job. As your players do, too. I noticed in the press conference. I have to imagine if you had said similar remarks, you know, you would be out of a job. They wouldn't even let you pack up your office. If your boss had said the same thing, he would be gone immediately. Why do you think there's another standard for him? Why hesitate to call for him to be fired?
STRINGER: Well, you know, you also heard him say that the color is not black or white. The color is green. The color is green. And I think we all understand that the all mighty dollar too often rules and trumps anything else that happens. And I think we need to sit back as a society, step back as a society and reckon with that. And determine is there a value that you place on diminishing the dreams of young people?
Are they not supposed to be our future leaders? And aren't we as adults supposed so to set leadership examples? And is it OK, as long as we make millions of dollars? There are so many things in our country that aren't right, that should be. But I'm saying that at this particular time, because of the comment directed toward this specific group of young women who are just aspiring to make this world a better place, you know, that it's time that America -- not anyone else -- that we, John Q Public, the average, common citizen of this country saying enough is enough.
It's not just Mr. Imus. It's happening. The moral decay is everywhere in this country. And if we really want this world to be a better place, we've got to, you know, make that happen. And so people's voices need to be heard.
The women -- it wasn't just the women. It was an attack on women. How can you absolve yourself from any of this? You know, you have to think that it could be your daughter, granddaughter, your aunt, your niece, whatever.
Then, as it relates to color, is it right to call any -- to make any type of ethnic or racial jokes? It isn't. You know, and then as it relates to the seriousness of the woman's basketball athlete, or female athlete, period, there should be the same level of respect for that athlete who is giving of her heart and soul. Are we not equal in this universe in God's creation of this universe? Does not the women athlete deserve respect and dignity as well?
S. O'BRIEN: I can tell that Don Imus is going to get an earful from you when that meeting goes off, whenever it goes off. Final question for Essence.
You know, when we talked yesterday, Essence, you said, not only the words themselves were hurtful, but that the timing. You know, he stole your joy, the moment you should be celebrating for such an accomplishment. You got a bunch of satellite trucks parked out in front of the school now, but they're not talking about your accomplishments. He stole your joy. Tell me about that.
CARSON: Well, I mean, after, you know, returning home from Cleveland, we expected a warm welcome from the many fans that have followed us through the entire season. We got that warm welcome for about a couple seconds before we were as a team informed about his remarks.
Quite a few of us, you know, laughed about it. I myself was quite, you know, enraged at first, but -- and he just stole the whole moment. Now we have all the media attention focusing on something that's so negative. That's why we're just trying to, you know, in turn, turn it into something positive. Make something of this moment and not only put ourselves in a light, but speak for something that we know is right, against something that we know was wrong.
S. O'BRIEN: Thank you for raising that and talking with us this morning. Essence Carson and Coach C. Vivian Stringer with the Rutgers basketball team.
Thank you, ladies. Appreciate it.
STRINGER: Thank you very much.
S. O'BRIEN: Miles.
M. O'BRIEN: Well, just in. The numbers are in for Citigroup, America's biggest bank, announcing a big bloodletting today. Ali Velshi "Minding Your Business" this morning -- Ali.
ALI VELSHI, CNN FINANCIAL CORRESPONDENT: Good morning.
We were expecting these numbers and it's not typical outside of the auto industry where we've seen these big layoffs but Citigroup announcing 17,000 job cuts worldwide; 9,500 U.S. jobs moving to locations where those jobs can be done less expensively.
This will save Citigroup over $10 billion over the next few years. The criticism of these cuts is that it is largely a cost-saving measure, and that the bank may have other issues to deal with in terms of growing and returning profitability to shareholders and being a better experience for consumers.
But at this point this is a very, very large layoff. 17,000 -- we're still waiting to break down the numbers. Citigroup saying that most of that 17,000 on the worldwide side is not in the United States, but 9,500 U.S. jobs will stay within the Citigroup family, but be moved overseas, which doesn't likely mean that -- employees in the U.S. are not going to be moved. It just means that Citibank will keep those jobs.
So, really when you look at it, it be many more people than that losing their jobs. We'll continue to follow the story and the impact it will have on consumers.
M. O'BRIEN: Thank you, Ali.
M. O'BRIEN: Soledad.
S. O'BRIEN: Top stories of the morning are coming up next. We're going to take a look at the Duke lacrosse case. Will the charges be dropped today? We'll have the very latest.
And a new development in the heartbreaking story about life and death for a little boy. Parents still fighting the state to try to keep their child on life support.
Plus, we'll hear from the California man who survived a mountain lion attack after his wife came to his rescue. They'll both join us live.
You're watching AMERICAN MORNING. The most news in the morning is right here on CNN.
MILES O'BRIEN, CNN ANCHOR, AMERICAN MORNING: Good morning to you, Wednesday, April 11. I'm Miles O'Brien.
SOLEDAD O'BRIEN, CNN ANCHOR, AMERICAN MORNING: I'm Soledad O'Brien. Thanks for being with us. More trouble for radio host Don Imus this morning. Major corporate sponsors now pulling their advertising dollars from his show.
M. O'BRIEN: All eyes on North Carolina this morning, reports charges against those former Duke lacrosse players could be dropped today.
S. O'BRIEN: Then the fight over a little boy who is on life support in Texas. Why doctors, not his parents, could decide whether he lives or dies. Sanjay Gupta takes a look at what the little boy has. It's called Leigh's disease. It's a rare condition that makes this little boy so sick.
We begin, though, with a possible breakthrough in North Korea's nuclear disarmament to tell you about this morning. North Korea reaffirming its promise to shut down its nuclear reactor and that comes as Pyongyang is being assured it can have the $25 million in frozen funds sometime today or tomorrow. New Mexico's Governor Bill Richardson has been in North Korea pressing them to meet Saturday's deadline for shutting down that reactor. This morning he made a rare crossing from North Korea into South Korea.
Here in the United States the government wants more spying power. National intelligence director Mike McConnell is looking for much broader ability to go after potential national security threats and is changing the rules used by a secret court. His wish list includes planting audio bugs and hidden cameras, searching luggage, and break into homes to make copies of computer hard drives.
The latest in the standoff over funding the war in Iraq. President Bush inviting Democrats to come to the White House next week to talk. Leaders of the House and the Senate say the president is not leaving any room to compromise, though. The president is demanding that they bring to him a bill that has no deadline for withdrawal of troops. Miles.
M. O'BRIEN: Senator John McCain is trying to get his straight talk express out of the ditch and back on the road to the White House today. He will deliver what is being billed as a big speech on Iraq at a Virginia military school. This after he went to Iraq and painted a rosy picture. Critics say he was wearing rose-colored glasses. Senior political correspondent Candy Crowley joining us now with more from Washington. Candy, what's the point of this speech today?
CANDY CROWLEY, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, the point of the speech, I think, is two-fold. One is to talk again about his view on Iraq. McCain has said, listen, I would rather win a war than a campaign. He is stuck with this war as much as George Bush. People see John McCain as a supporter of this war even though he has been highly critical with the way that it's been carried out. This is yet another chance to use a big forum, VMI, Virginia Military Institute, to talk about why the war is important, why he thinks we have to stay, what he thinks would happen if we don't stay.
Second of all, the campaign of John McCain has been slow to get off the ground, as you noted. This is another way and it's one of three speeches that he's going to give this month. Another is on the economy, another on his domestic policy. So it's another way to kind of jump-start this campaign, which has been languishing certainly in terms of money raised and in some cases in the polls.
M. O'BRIEN: Let's give folks out there a sense of the kinds of comments right now and one in particular which McCain has sort of had to back off from. He was actually on the Wolf Blitzer program and he was talking about General David Petraeus, who is the leading general in Iraq and how he gets around in Baghdad. Let's listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. JOHN McCAIN (R) PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: That's why you ought to catch up on things, Wolf. General Petraeus goes out there almost every day in an unarmed Humvee. I think you ought to catch up. You see, you are giving the old line --
(END VIDEO CLIP)
M. O'BRIEN: Since then on "60 Minutes," he backed off that and said there were no unarmored Humvees at all. He has a real credibility problem now with voters, you think?
CROWLEY: Well, you know, let's look at the voters he is now appealing to, and that is Republicans. Three out of four still support this war, so he is in good stead there. But obviously what McCain's people thought from the very beginning was that because he was a prisoner of war in Vietnam for almost six years, because he does heavy -- has heavy-duty credentials as a military informed policy expert due to his experience on Capitol Hill, they thought that even if voters didn't agree with him, that they would at least respect his opinion given his past. Now there's some thought that he needs to further explain what he is talking about in terms of why he thinks we ought to stay there. Not so much about this rosy scenario because as he said, listen, I think I could have walked through Baghdad without these armored vehicles, without the protective vests. Nonetheless, McCain, as you saw there and in other interviews, has kind of backed off a little and said, listen, obviously there's still some big problems over there.
M. O'BRIEN: Candy Crowley, who's part of the best political team on television. Thanks for being with us this morning.
CROWLEY: Sure, Miles.
It's looking like a big announcement is possible today, the Duke lacrosse sex scandal. Three former members of the Duke University lacrosse team expected to converge on Raleigh, North Carolina, today. There you see one of them arriving yesterday. They are there to learn whether the remaining charges against them will, in fact, be dropped and sources are telling CNN the trio will be exonerated. No official confirmation from the North Carolina attorney general's office just yet, however. In March of 2006 you'll recall a stripper claimed she was sexually assaulted by members of the lacrosse team at an off campus party at this house. She later changed her story. The charges were reduced. The district attorney who pushed the case faces possible disbarment now.
In the Bahamas, the DNA evidence is in, and there is no longer any doubt this morning who fathered the late Anna Nicole Smith's daughter. Smith's one-time boyfriend Larry Birkhead emerged from the courthouse saying yesterday I told you so. Seven-month-old Dannielyn has been the center of a paternity and custody battle, at least three men claiming to be her father since Anna Nicole died of an accidental drug overdose on February 8th. Another hearing coming up on Friday to discuss custody.
S. O'BRIEN: Heat is being turned up on Don Imus this morning. Two major companies say they will no longer advertise on the show. AMERICAN MORNING's Alina Cho is on the Rutgers campus in Piscataway, New Jersey. Hey, Alina. Good morning. ALINO CHO, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Hey, Soledad. Good morning to you. Those two major sponsors are household names, Procter & Gamble and Staples. Both companies have released statements, first from a spokesperson from Procter & Gamble. Quote, effective Friday, April 6th, Procter & Gamble pulled all of our brand advertising from the MSNBC daytime rotation. That is until we can evaluate the situation fully. And this from the office supply chain Staples, is pulling ads from Imus' program on MSNBC. Recent comments made on the program prompted us to revise our decision to advertise, and as of now, we are not advertising on the program, end quote.
Now, later this week the team, the coaching staff and Don Imus will meet face-to-face for the first time. Again, that is later this week. That meeting will be private. The coach, for her part, told AMERICAN MORNING just a moment ago that she is going into that meeting with an open heart and an open mind. The players, when I asked them whether they believe Don Imus should resign, the team captain, Essence Carson, told me, Soledad, that that will depend on what he tells them during that meeting later this week.
S. O'BRIEN: We're all waiting to hear that. Alina Cho for us this morning on the Rutgers campus. Thank you, Alina.
Ahead this morning, one little boy's parents fighting a life or death battle with the state of Texas. There he is right there. The hospital could make the decision to pull him off of life support. Paging Dr. Sanjay Gupta on the story.
Plus, it is totally an amazing story of survival. A 70-year-old man survived a mountain lion attack. His wife fights off the animal. We talk to both of them live this morning right here on AMERICAN MORNING. The most news in the morning on CNN.
S. O'BRIEN: The latest now in a truly heartbreaking tug-of-war in Texas over a terminally ill little boy who is just 17 months old. The judge now says that the family of little Emilio Gonzales can keep him on life support for at least nine more days. (INAUDIBLE) briefly, the hospital's moved to remove life support. Emilio is in an Austin hospital. He's hooked up to tubes that help him breathe and help him eat. He has Leigh's disease. It's a disorder that causes the brain tissue to die. A law that was passed by then Governor George Bush lets the hospital make the life or death call in this little boy's case. Another hearing on the matter is, in fact, scheduled for next week. Let's page Dr. Sanjay Gupta for more on this story. First and foremost Sanjay and good morning, what's Leigh's disease? I've never heard of that.
DR. SANJAY GUPTA, CNN CORRESPONDENT: It's a very rare disorder. About one in 36,000 babies can actually develop something like this. What happens is, it sort of attacks the very core of cells, the mitochondrial DNA and the specific mitochondria that are affected are the ones that are responsible for the central nervous system, the brain, the spinal cord, the optic nerve. So someone can have degeneration of all those things, including blindness. They may have difficulty swallowing, all that sort of stuff.
S. O'BRIEN: Is it a death sentence?
GUPTA: There appears to be no cure and no way of really reversing it right now. Because it's so rare, we don't know a lot about it. Typically what happens is that you have the sort of spectrum of the disease. You have some mild cases. You have more severe cases and it sort of declares itself between the ages of about three months and two years, although frighteningly, a lot of babies can be born and look perfectly normal at birth. So you have no idea and it sort of progresses at some point. Some of the specific symptoms that a child will have, loss of motor skills, delayed development, seizures, vision problems. These are the sort of things that happened to Emilio. He wasn't diagnosed officially until he was 14 months old. So you get a sense of how difficult that can be. What the hospital is saying is look, there is no cure. This is absolutely irreversible and there is nothing more that we can do for the child, so this is how the ethicist for the hospital put it in terms of overall care.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MICHAEL REIGER, SETON ETHICS COMMITTEE: This child is someone who has an irreversible progressive fatal disease and what they're doing now is harmful to him. It's causing him to suffer. It's causing him pain, pain that we may not even be able to know about.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
GUPTA: Experts we've talked to says the pain can be managed if the pain is the concern. It also comes down to one of those difficult things. The mom says, look, he squeezes my hand, he smiles, he is responsive to me.
S. O'BRIEN: He is worth saving, in other words.
GUPTA: He is worth saving and she's his mother. The hospital says absolutely not. There's no way that he could possibly be responding. He doesn't have any of the function. The MRI has shown dying or dead tissue in his brain. It is difficult.
S. O'BRIEN: You know, usually it's the family that gets to make that decision, you know? It's not the hospital that gets to make the decision. Why is it -- to me at least the complete opposite of what I'm used to when I have read about these stories.
GUPTA: Very unusual, Texas is unusual for the reason you stated about that law, and usually -- this happens every day in the country, Soledad. Families and their doctors have to make these decisions about loved ones and usually it's just a mutually agreed upon decision, but ultimately, in most places, Texas aside, the family ultimately gets to make that decision and if they can't get the care at that particular hospital, they'll transfer care, which it sounds like what the Gonzales family is trying to do in this case as well over the next nine days. Essentially it's come down to a time clock now, nine days. S. O'BRIEN: So if they were to take this baby, 17 months old, this baby off of life support, what would happen to him? I mean, would he die in a day? Would he -- is it really what's keeping him breathing every single moment?
GUPTA: It really does sound like it. This ventilator, this breathing machine sounds like he is completely dependent on. You do have some patients that are somewhat dependent on and they'll start breathing on their own if you take them off.
S. O'BRIEN: He could live for years and years and years if he stays on the ventilator?
GUPTA: Well, the ventilator, that's sort of the (INAUDIBLE) step here. Take it off and probably no more than a day.
S. O'BRIEN: Gosh, what a brutal decision.
GUPTA: I can't imagine making that decision. Yeah.
S. O'BRIEN: How awful. What a terrible story. All right, Sanjay. Thank you for the insight about that disease. Miles.
M. O'BRIEN: It's now about a quarter of the hour. Chad Myers at the CNN weather center watching some unusual weather for us. Chad.
CHAD MYERS, CNN METEOROLOGIST: Just watching this little scroll down here at the bottom of the screen and Houston just popped up with 81. Doesn't that look like a fantasy compared to Minneapolis and Green Bay and Chicago where, yes, it is snowing this morning and the airports are going downhill quickly. O'Hare already downhill. Midway just checked in. Nashville, you get some thunderstorms off to your west. You're flying through the Midwest today, you'll probably have to fly around some of these storms. They will be higher than the plane can fly, so expect some reroutes there. Otherwise, we will see showers and thunderstorms from Chicago south of the snow and some of that will be severe right through Cincinnati and even into Atlanta, Georgia, late tonight.
Now, that is not the severe weather event that I was talking about yesterday, the one that will be right on top of the Midwest. For Friday, Chicago, there you go, ground stop, can't take off in some spots until 7:15, Central daylight time. Chicago, you're ground delayed one hour and 40 minutes already. New York City, pretty mild for the next couple of days, 50s. It gets very windy on Sunday and this storm on Sunday into Monday morning could be a big-time snowmaker and a headache maker for anybody getting in and out of the east coast on Monday morning. San Francisco, rain today, but then not bad. Soledad.
S. O'BRIEN: I was going to say, they're not getting snow there in San Francisco. Man, what day is it again? It's the 11th or something?
MYERS: It's the 11th of February -- I mean --
S. O'BRIEN: yeah. You're exactly right. All right, Chad. Thank you.
MYERS: You're welcome.
S. O'BRIEN: Ahead this morning, a California couple who lived through a terrifying mountain lion attack describe their ordeal. Wait until you hear how they survived. That's straight ahead on AMERICAN MORNING. Back in a moment.
M. O'BRIEN: Now it's time for the happy ending to a nightmare- inducing tale of a mountain lion attack. In January, Jim and Nell Hamm were taking a walk in the woods when a mountain lion attacked. The lioness went after Jim ferociously, as you see there. She met her match in Nell who was armed with only this, a pen and a stab to the eye and it was over. So how are they all doing now? Jim and Nell Hamm join us now from California Pacific Medical Center in San Francisco where he was treated. Jim, how are you feeling? You look great.
JIM HAMM, SURVIVED MOUNTAIN LION ATTACK: I'm feeling very good now. I've totally healed with the exception of my right hand and it's coming along.
M. O'BRIEN: And I know you were in good shape before. Are you getting out, taking walks and if so, I assume you do so with a little bit of caution about going into the woods.
J. HAMM: Yes. I do walk up to about four and a half miles now, but I haven't gone back into the woods.
M. O'BRIEN: I bet. Nell, what's it been like for you going through this whole ordeal?
NELL HAMM, JIM'S WIFE: Words just can't describe what we've been through, but everybody's thoughts and prayers have helped us through this thing.
M. O'BRIEN: Do you still get nightmares about it?
N. HAMM: No, not nightmares. Every now and then I think about it and shutter at what we've been through, but the end result has been great.
M. O'BRIEN: Jim, how about you, nightmares, flashbacks, are you sort of haunted by it I guess is what I'm asking.
J. HAMM: No nightmares, never had one. Flashbacks, I had many of them. I just kind of let them drift off by changing thoughts slowly and let them fade out and go on to different subject and now I don't have too many of them flashbacks.
M. O'BRIEN: Now, what are your thoughts? Do you think you'll ever take a hike in the woods again, the two of you together?
J. HAMM: I think only if it was with more people because a minimum of two in case something happens, but I don't like risking having the same thing happen twice, so if there was more people in a group I might.
M. O'BRIEN: In the midst of this, I know you celebrated your 50th wedding anniversary. I'm sure it was a very special one, one you will remember forever. Thank you both for being with us, and we wish you well and continued recovery. Coming up on the program --
J. HAMM: Thank you.
M. O'BRIEN: You're welcome. Coming up on the program, a home once owned by Johnny Cash goes up in a ring of fire. Just a short time before another famous singer was about to move in.
Plus, the Duke lacrosse sex scandal. Will charges against those three former players be dropped today? We'll have a live report. You're watching AMERICAN MORNING. The most news in the morning right here.
M. O'BRIEN: A congressional chairman flexes his muscle with big oil over the skyrocketing price of gas. We say go to it. A couple of minutes before the top of the hour. Ali Velshi minding your business. Hello Ali.
ALI VELSHI, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Good morning Miles. Dennis Kucinich, he's the chairman of the domestic policy subcommittee has written letters to seven major oil companies asking them a question we would like an answer to explaining the high price of gas. Let's talk about what we're doing right now. Gas is now at $2.79 a gallon. That's a national average for unleaded self-serve. Last month it was $2.54 a gallon, but look at the state averages. In California were looking at $3.24 a gallon, the lowest, Wyoming, $2.58 a gallon.
So Kucinich is asking these oil companies to explain particularly refining. He cited examples in California where says prices of refining a barrel of oil have jumped from $17 a barrel five years ago to $39 a barrel and that's creating a big upward swing in the price of gasoline. He also wants to know about refining capacity in California. Again, he says that in 1985 the refineries were operating at 76 percent of capacity, so lots of room to grow. Now they're running at 92 percent of capacity, which means that there's not enough room. If a refinery has to go down for maintenance or repair or switch over blends of gasoline, what happens is then they can't refine more gas and it becomes a supply and demand issue. Gas prices spike. We see this every spring. This is what happens. We're not growing refineries in this country. So he would like responses. He's asked for detailed and documented answers to a series of questions that he has laid out in a letter by April the 25th. We will be eager to hear what those responses are.
M. O'BRIEN: No one wants a refinery in their backyard.
VELSHI: They're dirty. They're hard to get approval for, but they are - and they're expensive, but we got to do something. We got to use less gasoline or build more refineries.
S. O'BRIEN: Got to go somewhere. Ali, thank you.
Some of the top stories of the morning. Most popular right now on cnn.com, a fire destroying Johnny Cash's home, the home which is near Nashville. Take a look at some of these pictures. Here we go. It's where the late singer wrote lots of his music, he and his wife, the singer June Carter Cash lived in the lakeside home until their deaths just a few years ago. The house is now owned by Barry Gibbs of the Bee Gee's, but he hadn't moved in yet. They're renovating the house and right now the cause is not known.
M. O'BRIEN: We are coming up on the top of the hour. Chad Myers at the CNN weather center. Chad, big weather story this morning is - it's a big blah across the Midwest isn't it?
MYERS: Yeah, going to have to be careful flying through any of this Soledad and I know you have a flight today and a lot of people trying to get across the country today. A little bit bumpy with this. Pilots are going to have to take their time and weave their way through a line of storms all the way from north of Nashville right through Nashville now, all the way back into west of Jackson and those little boxes you see are severe thunderstorm watch boxes.
There may be a few tornadoes today, but I really think that Friday will be the tornado day. A couple of red zones here with strong. Most of that strong weather will be a wind storm or a little bit of hail.
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