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Israel Strikes Gaza: Response to Rocket Attacks; Stem Cell Showdown; Flammable Furniture

Aired June 20, 2007 - 07:59   ET


JOHN ROBERTS, CNN ANCHOR (voice over): Collision course. President Bush in a new showdown with Congress today over stem-cell research and set to offer something new.

Plus, First Lady exclusive.

LAURA BUSH, FIRST LADY: I'm looking forward to voting for the first Republican woman president.

ROBERTS: Laura Bush one-on-one from the White House on this AMERICAN MORNING.


ROBERTS: And good morning to you. Thanks for joining us. It is Wednesday, the 20th of June.

I'm John Roberts in New York.


Hey, John. I just got my cardio in, for sure, running -- racing from the Map Room of the White House, back here to the roof of the Chamber of Commerce building.

We had a lovely interview with First Lady Laura Bush, and we're going to be hearing more of that coming up in the next hour.

ROBERTS: All right. We'll get back to you just in a couple of minutes here.

We start in Iraq this morning, where thousands of U.S. and Iraqi troops are stepping out their offensive on suspected al Qaeda strongholds in the city of Baqubah, north of Baghdad. Today is the second full day of Operation Arrowhead Ripper. The U.S. military says at least 30 insurgents have been killed so far. Soldiers also found and destroyed several stockpiles of weapons and at least 14 IEDs.

To Gaza now, where Israel has launched its first airstrike since Gaza was taken over by Hamas. Israel says it carried out airstrikes aimed at rocket launchers. Four Palestinian fighters were killed in that attack.

CNN's Ben Wedeman is live now in Gaza. Ben, what's the latest from there? How was this whole thing provoked?

BEN WEDEMAN, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, this is really ordinary, standard procedure here in Gaza. Rockets are fired out, the Israelis respond in. It hasn't really happened in the past week or so, as everyone has been distracted by the current upheaval here in Gaza, but, by and large, it's pretty normal news.

What we have just learned is that the Israeli foreign minister, Tzipi Livni, has called the Palestinian prime minister, Salam Fayyad, to emphasize the importance of the formation of the new Palestinian cabinet. And she told him that this will allow the two sides to really start to make progress on many of the key issues that have been essentially in paralysis during the time when there was this national unity government run by Hamas -- John.

ROBERTS: Ben, you've spent so much time there in Gaza. Can Hamas be defeated by trying to squeeze it out of the process? I mean, would Palestinians in Gaza rise up against Hamas, seeing that the Fatah-led faction in the West Bank is starting to get all of these plums from the Israeli government?

WEDEMAN: Well, certainly, John, I think that's what the United States, Israel and the European Union would like to see happen. But when you speak to people here on the ground it's a much different view.

The feeling is that pressure, economic, political, and even military pressure on Hamas, has not worked in the past. And the probability is it will not work in the future.

There is a tendency to try to find the people you want to work with, as opposed to the people who actually are in control and on the ground. The feeling is that sooner or later, the United States and Israel are going to have to accept the fact that Hamas, like the general region-wide Islamic trend, is something everyone is going to have to eventually learn to live with. So economic pressure, political pressure, military pressure hasn't yielded much so far, and many people are skeptical it's going to yield much in the future -- John.

ROBERTS: All right. Well, as we've seen, Ben, certainly for the moment, nobody in either the United States or Israel seems comfortable to try to live with Hamas.

Ben Wedeman for us in Gaza City this morning.

Now let's go back to Kiran in Washington.

CHETRY: Thanks, John.

Well, as we've been talking about, I just came back from the White House. I had a chance to speak with First Lady Laura Bush. And she has been speaking out about world issues like human rights, atrocities in Burma, as well as AIDS, HIV and malaria prevention in Africa.

I also asked her about the presidential campaign and specifically what she thought about the campaign of the former first lady.

Let's listen.


CHETRY: The woman who ran this house before you got here is looking to move back. Politics aside, though, is a woman president a good thing, in your opinion, for our future?

BUSH: Sure, absolutely. I'm looking forward to voting for the first Republican woman president.

CHETRY: Are you still trying to actively recruit Secretary of State Rice?

BUSH: No, I've given up on that.


CHETRY: And we're also going to be hearing a little bit more about what Mrs. Bush said ahead of her trip to Africa. She leaves this coming Monday, as we said, for the initiative to increase awareness for treatments for HIV-AIDS, as well as malaria, John.

Meantime, there's been a head-on collision. It's coming up later today, and it's between politics, science and ethics. And for the second time, President Bush will use his veto pen to veto a bill that would ease restrictions, expand federal funding, if you will, on embryonic stem-cell research.

So what does that mean for science and medicine, and what exactly is at stake for the average person?

Dr. Sanjay Gupta joins me here in Washington today with more on that.

Great to see you.


CHETRY: Scientifically speaking, is this a setback for research on stem cells?

GUPTA: I think a lot of scientists would say yes. But I think the real answer to that question, if you ask them really, you know, to sort of dissect it all down, is we don't know, because there hasn't been any of the promise of embryonic stem cells. None of that has actually come to fruition as of yet. So we can't say for sure we're not going to develop a treatment for Parkinson's or for spinal cord injury or Alzheimer's or something like that.

So it's hard to say for sure. But this whole idea that there are three different types of cells out there -- there are what as known as totipotent cells which come from the very earliest stages of an embryo -- they can develop into anything, including another human being. Pluripotent, which is what the president specifically used in his statement today, can turn into just about anything as well, except for a human being. So, just about any type of cell line except for an entire organism.

CHETRY: But he made the distinction with not wanting to approve any type of research that would destroy a human embryo. But you're saying there are other types of embryonic stem-cell research that wouldn't?

GUPTA: So there's two -- there are other types of stem cells, period, whether they are, you know, adult stem cells, for example, which come from your bone marrow, which, incidentally, is the only proven way so far that we have to actually see some of the promise of this. They use bone marrow to treat leukemia, for example, other blood cancers.

But there are also ways to get embryonic stem cells without destroying human embryos. There's been a couple of very interesting scientific developments.

Just a couple of weeks ago, they talked about this idea that you can actually teach a cell that is actually further along to regress, to act more like an embryonic stem cell, which I thought was fascinating. So you take a -- you don't destroy an embryo, but you just teach it to act more primitive.

Or, there's something known as pre-implantation genetic diagnosis. People have heard about this, where you actually take one cell out of a fetus to check for any kind of genetic abnormalities, for example.

Well, scientists said, well, what else can we do with that cell? Can we actually use it to grow embryonic stem cells? And the answer seems to be possibly yes. So, you know, there might be some other avenues there to get embryonic stem cells without destroying fetuses.

CHETRY: So the science continues and the progress continues, hopefully, in that vein?

GUPTA: It's one of the most political science ethical things we cover. It's interesting.

CHETRY: It really is.


CHETRY: Dr. Gupta, great to see you.

GUPTA: Thanks. Good to see you.


ROBERTS: Charleston, South Carolina, is grieving this morning after losing nine firefighters in a fast-moving fire in a furniture warehouse yesterday. The fire burned very hot and very quickly. That's because furniture, particularly the type that was in the warehouse, is extremely combustible.

Greg Hunter has been looking into all of this. He's in Atlanta and joins us now.

Greg, what did you find through your investigation?

GREG HUNTER, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, John, a lot of that furniture in the warehouse was upholstered furniture. And it was synthetic furniture.

For example, this is a very popular kind of furniture. It's upholstered in microfiber. It looks like leather, like suede, but it's not. It's actually synthetic. And it covers polyurethane foam.

Now, when exposed to an open flame, this is a very good source of fuel, and also one of the reasons why that fire moved so fast.


HUNTER (voice over): Tests conducted in a special lab showed how fast synthetic materials burn. After one minute and 48 seconds, the smoke alarm goes off. Less than two minutes later, the fire is out of control.

Now, imagine this couch multiplied by hundreds of sofas in the South Carolina warehouse, and you have an extremely large and fast- moving inferno. But there are workable solutions. As of July 1st, mattresses will have to pass a strict flammability standard that makes mattresses burn slowly like this one.

TOM CHAPIN, UNDERWRITERS LABORATORIES: It will burn slowly enough that you can get out of your home safely.

HUNTER: Tom Chapin from Underwriters Laboratories demonstrates how important the fire-retardant coating on a mattress is.

CHAPIN: I have now exposed this to the inner materials.

HUNTER (on camera): Oh. Now it's taking off.

(voice over): Incredibly, there are still no government regulations mandating furniture companies to make their products fire- resistant. On average, 10 people die every week as a result of furniture-related fires.

(on camera): If we had a flammability standard for furniture, would the fire in that warehouse have burned that fast?

CHAPIN: Based on what we know about the situation, if products were designed as they are with the new mattress flammability standard, I think the fire would have been much smaller.

HUNTER: Would it have burned as hot?

CHAPIN: Not nearly as hot, and would not have burned as fast.

HUNTER (voice over): Fire safety advocates say they've been asking for that same safety standard in furniture for years.

JOHN DEAN, NATIONAL ASSOCIATION STATE FIRE MARSHALS: We have been waiting for more than a quarter century for someone here in Washington to answer our call for help.

HUNTER: The industry's largest trade group, American Home Furnishings Alliance, says the best solution at this time is to adopt the currently voluntary standard as a mandatory national standard.


HUNTER: The American Home Furnishings Alliance says that that voluntary standard has greatly reduced the number of upholstered furniture fires. Now, their critics say that that standard doesn't go far enough, it's not strong enough.

Meanwhile, the Consumer Product Safety Commission says it's looking into the possibility of having a furniture flammability standard for upholstered furniture, much like the mattress standard is today, as it goes into July 1st. Now, that is probably years off. So, meanwhile, what do you do as a consumer to protect yourself?

According to Underwriters Laboratories, they say go natural, use natural fibers when decorating your home, cotton curtains, wool rugs. And leather couches -- now, your couch is a huge source of fuel because of this polyurethane foam, but the leather on the outside of the cushion is actually fire retardant.

And I witnessed a few months ago up at Underwriters Laboratories that the leather couch burned next to a microfiber couch, like a cushion like this, took almost three times as long for it to reach a flash-over. And the flash-over for a leather couch wasn't nearly as big as a flash-over for a coach coated in microfiber protecting this polyurethane foam.

So, go natural, go leather, and it will help give you more time to escape a fire.

Back to you guys.

ROBERTS: Pretty incredible the intensity with which that synthetic fabric does burn.

Greg Hunter for us in Atlanta this morning.

Greg, thanks.


CHETRY: Well, your "Quick Hits" now.

And a seven-alarm warehouse fire in Philadelphia is now under control. But about a hundred nearby residents had to leave the area, and one person was hurt. It started in some cars that were parked near that building.

There's also a new twist in the case of a missing nine-month pregnant woman in Ohio. Police say that a newborn girl with her umbilical cord still attached was found near where 26-year-old Jessie Davis disappeared. Police took a DNA sample from the baby to test for a match to Jessie, who was carrying a girl.

Can poverty be solved by paying poor people to take their kids to the doctor or make sure they're going to school? It's an unusual and controversial new plan that we're going to talk more about straight ahead on AMERICAN MORNING.


CHETRY: Wildfires burning in Colorado topping your "Quick Hits" now.

More hot, dry and windy weather expected today as firefighters work to put out the fire on Colorado's western slope. High winds are spreading the fire, which now covers more than a thousand acres.

And firefighters have control of a wildfire that's burning in San Diego. The main part of the fire contained with the help of helicopters. They were doing water drops. There were no reports of damage or injuries.

And how many people does it take to rescue a kitten? Well, in Parkersburg, West Virginia, it took two fire trucks, five firefighters, several animal rescuers, and 250 gallons of water to get a two-pound kitten. There she is being held up by the scruff of the neck. It wasn't until firefighters flushed the water enough to wet the kitten's paws through the pipe that the feline then rushed into the hands of a rescuer.

ROBERTS: Hey, but necessity is the mother of invention.

Cold, hard cash for going to class, graduating from high school, or even acing a test. This fall, a pilot program in New York City will be doling out the dollars, trying to get those in poverty out. Is it a good idea?

New York City Deputy Mayor Linda Gibbs joins us now.

Good morning to you. Thanks for being with us.


ROBERTS: So this is going to be set out almost like a scientific study. You're going to have a test group and you're going to have a control group.

How many students will be involved, how many schools? How much will this cost?

GIBBS: Well, this two-year pilot is testing conditional cash transfers. This is a program that has proven to work in other countries. Most of them are lower, moderate income. This is the first time it will be tried in a wealthy country.

And it will be a pilot that will cover two years, and we'll have several thousands families participating. And the question is, can cash incentives improve the outcomes that we know are related to reducing poverty?

ROBERTS: What have studies in this these other countries shown?

GIBBS: They have shown not only higher educational achievement, better school attendance, better health outcomes, but they've shown overall that the well-being in those families has improved. What we're doing is taking those models that typically incentivize health and education behaviors, but building on them and trying to add elements that make sense for our economy, for our socioeconomic status.

ROBERTS: Well, let's take a look at what you've got planned. We've got some of these incentives. We'll put them up on the screen.

For example, $40 for a perfect math test. That's an average, because you get less at the earlier grades and more at the later grades. Fifty dollars a month for good attendance, 95 percent attendance. Four hundred dollars for graduating from high school.

This pays not only the students, but the family members as well. Each family member would get -- who is working full time, adult, would get $150. And then $200 for each family member getting an annual medical checkup.

Who receives the money?

GIBBS: For the most part, it's the head of the household. When the children get to the high school years, we believe that some of that money should go to the children, because its their own decisions about their educational engagement that can make a difference. And so we believe they ought to be incentivized as well.

ROBERTS: Now, what do you say to critics who say that this is not going to instill a love of learning among these students, it's going to instill a love of money, particularly among the adults who are going to get it?

GIBBS: This works in many ways just like the tax code works. We use the tax code to incentivize a whole range of behaviors that we want people to engage in through the incentive of cash, and so it takes that same theory and applies it to those who are poor.

And oftentimes there is a high cost to being poor. If you take your child to the doctor, that means you could be missing out on your hourly wage income. People don't have a vacation or sick time, and so it really recognizes that there are real opportunity costs of engaging in what are already highly-valued activities in the household.

ROBERTS: Well, good luck with the program. I know a lot of people are going to be watching it very closely. There will be a microscope on it.

Before you go, I've got to ask you -- the mayor changed his political affiliation from Republican to unaffiliated. What is that all about? Is he getting ready for a run at the '08 election?

GIBBS: Well, this mayor is one who is not bound by any dogma. He is willing to try new things. He's willing to take on tough tasks, to be bold and to be ambitious. And I think that this reflects the kind of nonpartisan pragmatic solutions that he's brought to government, and that is he is really championing nationwide.

ROBERTS: So non-dogmatic, but let's see if his karma is to run for the 2008 election.

Linda Gibbs, deputy mayor of New York City.

Thanks very much. Appreciate you coming in -- Kiran.

GIBBS: Thank you.

CHETRY: Well, a possible drop at the pump topping our "Quick Hits" now.

The average gallon -- the price of gallon of gas could drop below $3 today. At least according to AAA. Prices have been falling for about three weeks now.

And this one is a little hard to believe. "Variety" is reporting this morning that Donald Trump will produce a reality show about life as a pageant queen. The show will feature the winners of three pageants as they live in the same New York apartment.

So what's the hard to believe part? Well, former Miss USA Tara Conner, the one who almost lost her crown for bad behavior -- well you wouldn't expect from a pageant -- set to serve as chaperone for the girls.


CHETRY (voice over): Coming up on AMERICAN MORNING, she helped American troops, then became a target in her own country.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: They just destroyed everything in my life, and they destroyed all of my family.

CHETRY: Was it worth it? The life of an Iraqi interpreter and her new life in America, next on AMERICAN MORNING.



ROBERTS: Twenty-two minutes after the hour.

Same-sex marriage is one step closer to reality in New York. Your "Quick Hits" now. A bill passed in the state assembly yesterday, but the state Senate isn't expect to act any time soon. Governor Eliot Spitzer supports the bill. Massachusetts currently the only state to allow same-sex marriages.

Former president Jimmy Carter is blasting the Bush administration again. This time on Mideast policy. Mr. Carter accuses the U.S., Israel and the European Union of trying to divide the Palestinians by supporting Mahmoud Abbas' new government in the West Bank, while at the same time shunning the Hamas-controlled Gaza Strip.

CHETRY: CNN is devoting the day to stories about Iraqis who have had to flee their country searching for a home. I had a chance to sit down and talk with a woman who worked as an interpreter for the Americans in Iraq. Her family was attacked and she had to flee to the United States. It's a story of personal courage and also of the many Americans who have helped her.


SHARA, IRAQI ASYLUM SEEKER: I just miss them like very terribly.

CHETRY (voice over): This clock set to Iraqi time is one small connection to friends and family left behind for an Iraqi woman that we're calling Shara.

Shara was forced to flee Iraq when she became a target of insurgents after accepting a job for the U.S. military at the start of the war.

(on camera): When you first got the job as an interpreter working with the Americans, what was that like for you?

SHARA: It was very nice. I'm like -- I was so excited about that job. Like, I was so happy.

CHETRY (voice over): Shara worked to help rebuild her country's destroyed infrastructure.

(on camera): Even though you were doing civilian stuff, civilian contracts, there's always a military presence, a U.S. military presence?

SHARA: Yes. Yes.

CHETRY (voice over): But in October 2004, Iraq became increasingly unstable. Shara began receiving threatening notes telling her to stop working for the Americans.

SHARA: I was scared like something would happen.

CHETRY: Those feelings turned into a frightening reality for Shara and her family.

SHARA: My mom was sitting with me. Like, we were talking. She just disappeared for like one or two minutes, and I just heard a very, very big bombing.

CHETRY: The bomb blast left Shara's mother for dead. She ended up losing her leg.

SHARA: My immediate family never blamed me, but me now, nothing ever in this world will mean anything for me after my mom is like that.

CHETRY: Shara spent months at her mother's bedside at a U.S. military hospital. Eventually her mother returned home, but Shara still feared for her life.

The U.S. Defense Department arranged last November for her to come to the U.S. Still, there is no guarantee she can actually stay here.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What we're going to do then is have you review that, and then we'll send it off to immigration.

CHETRY: Attorney John Wynn (ph) is working on Shara's case without charge, filing a petition for political asylum.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It certainly seems that she is very deserving based on the sacrifices that she has made already for the U.S. government.

CHETRY: Shara, along with an Iraqi family, lives with her American sponsor, a widower named John who has done what he can to help in her struggle.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: There was so much pain in her life, but she has gotten so much stronger.

CHETRY: Antidepressants help, but they can't stop the constant nightmares about the bombing.

(on camera): How do you deal with missing your family?

SHARA: I keep myself busy all the time. Because when I'll be busy, I don't think a lot. But like, when I look at my pictures, I just like remember every simple thing about them. It's very hard.


CHETRY: And Shara clearly gets very broken up when she talks about it, especially about how much she misses her mother and the fear she feels when she makes those phone calls and her mother doesn't pick up the phone after the first few rings. It brings her back to that day where her mother suffered because of her work interpreting for the Americans.

She also acknowledges how much help she's had from Americans along the way, from those who saw to it that her mother got the treatment she needed, to the colonel who helped her come over here to America. And like we said, to her attorney and her sponsor, who with doing everything they can to see to it that she gets permanent status in some way, shape or form here in the United States.

Now, to date, the U.S. has taken in only about 800 refugees from Iraq. There are moves under way though to expand those numbers. In fact, the State Department is looking to give political asylum to 500 Iraqis a year. That would be a big jump from the current number of 50.

By the way, if you'd like some more information about World Refugee Day and to find out how you can help, please head to -- John.

ROBERTS: Thank you, Kiran.

Twenty-six after the hour. Ali Velshi here "Minding Your Business".

Cell phones, it's the new Internet.


This is funny that you and I are talking about this, because I think we've both downloaded one ring tone each in life. But a couple of new things.

For Verizon users, they're introducing a service today which is going to allow you to transfer money to someone else using a service called Obopay if you're both registered. The recipient and the sender both have to be registered on Obopay.

It's a good concept. The idea is eventually you will be able to pay retailers with it, too, assuming the retailer you want to use uses this and not a competing system. Initially, you have to link it to a credit card or a bank account, but eventually it will be integrated into your Verizon bill. So you'll make a payment and do that.

The other thing that we're looking at is AT&T is launching a video -- a mobile service so that you can exchange video with other people. Now, you need one of these fancy 3G phones to do it. It's going to cost you between $5 and $10 a month, or 35 cents a minute without a plan.

Ironically, this is not going to be available on the iPhone which comes out in just over a week, because that's not a 3G phone.

ROBERTS: All right.

VELSHI: Yes, you and me both. I don't think either of us are going to be too involved in it.

ROBERTS: It always just -- you know, these little things, they cost you so much money.

VELSHI: Yes, mine is just for phone calls. I just answer the phone and hope it works.

ROBERTS: Ali, thanks. We'll see you later on this morning. VELSHI: OK.

ROBERTS: Checking the top stories on our Web site now and your "Quick Hits".

They call her the ponytail bandit, a woman who is suspected of robbing three banks in three states, each time wearing a baseball cap with her blond ponytail pulled through the back of the hat.

And one of the most popular stories on this morning, Web cams used to prevent cheating on tests. Online college courses have had trouble preventing cheating, but a Web cam allows an instructor to keep an eye on students even if they are thousands of miles away.

Tyson is pledging to raise its chickens without antibiotics, but does that really mean healthier? That story coming up.


CHETRY: And welcome back to AMERICAN MORNING. It is Wednesday, June 20th. I'm Kiran Chetry here in Washington, D.C. this morning.

ROBERTS: And good morning to you. I'm John Roberts here in New York. You had a chance to sit down with first lady Laura Bush at the White House about an hour ago. Now we head to Baghdad this morning.

The U.S. military claims at least 30 insurgents have been killed in the first day of Operation Arrowhead Ripper. It's a joint push by U.S. and Iraqi forces north of Baghdad.

Lieutenant General Raymond Odierno is the commanding general of the Multi-National Corps in Iraq, and he joins us now from Camp Victory in Baghdad.

General Odierno, what's the goal of Arrowhead Ripper here?

LT. GEN. RAYMOND ODIERNO, MULTI-NATIONAL FORCES, IRAQ: First, it's a little bit bigger. It's a large-scale corps operation that's going on in several different areas within Iraq. One of them being Arrowhead Ripper in Baqubah. Another one happening in Arab Jabor (ph), in third ID's area, and another operation going on in Multinational Force West, out north of Fallujah, and a series of operations in order to go after al Qaeda strongholds in and around Baghdad that is affecting our ability to provide security to the populace of Iraq.

ROBERTS: Is this because you believe a lot of what happens in Baghdad comes outside the city itself?

ODIERNO: It is our assessment that many of the accellerants that we call them, truck bombs, car bombs and other things, originate outside of Baghdad. We call it the Baghdad belts, the area surrounding Baghdad, that try to influence the population inside of Baghdad.

ROBERTS: General Odierno, we certainly hear a lot of opinions about this in Congress these days. Let me go to you there on the ground there and ask, the so-called surge, is it working or not?

ODIERNO: Well, first off, the full surge just got into place on the 15th of June. So, you know, it takes some time for the soldiers to get used to the area they're in because it's a very complex environment.

So, in my mind, we have to give it a little bit of a chance yet. I would say 60 to 90 days from now we give it an initial assessment on how well the surge is doing. In order to comment on the surge now, in my mind, is much too premature, because it is just now beginning in its full glory.

ROBERTS: Do you have any early indications?

ODIERNO: Well, I would say, for example, our ability to do these operations that we're doing now. We weren't able to do that before. So we can maintain security forces inside of Baghdad while we're simultaneously conducting operations in Baqubah, Arab Jabor, Fallujah, that allows us to keep pressure on them.

More importantly, I'm hoping it will allow us to maintain it over a long period of time, and continue to buy the time and space necessary for the Iraqi security forces to take over.

ROBERTS: General, you recently said that the city of Baghdad itself is only 40 percent secure. Sectarian killings are down there a little bit, but they're exploding across the country. Are you actually affecting the violence in Iraq, or are you just moving it elsewhere?

ODIERNO: Well, I think that bottom line is what I really said is I think about 70 percent is in pretty good shape in Baghdad, and there's 30 percent that is still -- we still have a lot of work to do and is really what I said.

But anyhow, to answer your question, we expected this, and what's good is we have forces that can deal this in and around Baghdad. We will have to do some adjustments, and will adjust as we go along. I have the capability now to make, though, adjustments.

What I have to do is watch the enemy, work and think what the enemy is going to do and make minor adjustments to go after him, but our goal is to have no safe havens within Iraq. The Iraqi security forces play a huge role in this, and we're working very closely with them in order to make this happen.

ROBERTS: General Odierno, we've heard in recent days about thousands of American soldiers and Marines coming from Iraq with mental problems. An Army mental health recommendation suggested soldiers should be given one month off for every three months in combat. Is that possible?

ODIERNO: Well, I'm not sure. I think we have to be very conscious of this. I've looked at the study. I've talked about it with my commanders. The soldiers here are under a lot of stress. It's a stressful environment, and it's on a daily basis, so what we try to do internal to the country is rotate soldiers away from areas that are a bit hotter than others. We do it based on, let the local commanders decide what the timeframe is that they're able to do that, and we do that in order to for them to get a break and allow them to relieve some of the stress they have, but it's not a month for every three months. We're not able to do that here at this time.

We do rotate, though. For example, I was at a unit today out in Diyalah province, where they do two weeks there and one week back. And that's the rotation that they go through in rotating their forces through a patrol base that is in a fairly hot area.

ROBERTS: General Odierno, good luck with Arrowhead Ripper up there in Diyalah and the other operations that you've got going throughout the country. Some real good news out of Iraq would be a welcome think.

Lieutenant General Ray Odierno, thanks very much for being with us.

ODIERNO: Thank you.

CHETRY: First Lady Laura Bush is taking an active role on issues, like human rights in Burma, as well as health concerns, specifically HIV and AIDS, as well as malaria prevention in Africa. Today is World Refugee Day. And when I had a chance to sit down with Mrs. Bush a little earlier this morning, I asked her what is being done about refugees, especially those from Iraq.


LAURA BUSH, FIRST LADY: We welcomed to our country more refugees than all the rest of the nations combined. And, obviously, we're especially concerned about the Iraqi refugees. People who were there, who are trying to build their government, trying to build a stable country, which is what our goal is as well, who have left because of terror, really, because of the chance of violence and the fear of violence.

We will welcome many of those refugees, both from Iraq and Afghanistan into the United States. We also spend about $80 million a year working with refugees, Iraqi refugees, in there in the camps in Lebanon.

CHEYRY: One of the key points that a lot of analysts say is that you have to find a way to help refugees get some sense of normalcy so they can continue to contribute. The fear with Iraq is if everybody --

BUSH: Leaves then...

CHETRY: The brain drain and how do you rebuild?

BUSH: And that is a problem for countries around the world. Many countries who have lost their best and brightest, because of instability or violence within the country, war, in many cases. It's a huge suffering for those countries. And the quicker we can stabilize those countries so that people can go back, then we have so much better chance of building a stable country because the people that are there.


CHETRY: On Monday, the first lady is going to leaving for Africa, and that's where she is focusing on reducing the spread of malaria, as well as AIDS there.



CHETRY: Coming up on AMERICAN MORNING, six little lives.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: They have held, and changed and fed. Everyone is doing wonderful.

CHETRY: Up close and personal with the Arizona sextuplets. The joys, the worries. The proud papa joins us ahead on AMERICAN MORNING.


CHETRY: Tyson, one of the country's top chicken producers, has announced that it is going to be making its fresh chickens and raising them now without antibiotics. They're launching a $70 million ad campaign to make sure that message comes your table.

And chief medical correspondent Dr. Sanjay Gupta joins me here in Washington today. And it's going to say in big letters, "raised without antibiotics, but it got me thinking, why did they use antibiotics in all chickens in the first place?

DR. SANJAY GUPTA, CNN CHIEF MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, you know, they sort of use it indiscriminately. They just figure, you know, we'll give the chickens all different kind of antibiotics to keep them from getting diseases; as opposed to giving antibiotics specifically to animals that need it or to prevent or treat disease, it's just used sort of as a big hammer, and that's it's been used for a long time.

CHETRY: So they're rolling out this ad campaign because they want people to know, raised without antibiotics. Is that better?

GUPTA: You know, I think for an individual it probably makes no difference, especially if you've cook your chicken. You're going to cook out most of that stuff, and cook out any potentially bad bacteria as well.

But for society as a whole I think it does make a difference. You have a thing called antibiotic resistance, which for a long time was just theory, but now we know that it actually exists -- use more antibiotics and, in fact, you start to see resistance to the antibiotics for certain bacteria. And also you just have this overwhelming public desire not to have antibiotics in your food. Tyson said 91 percent of their consumers say they would prefer their chicken with no antibiotics. Whether that actually makes a difference in the individual, probably not, but that's what they would like.

CHETRY: Seems like more and more shoppers are seeking things out that are more natural. I mean, when you talk about antibiotics in food, not to mention hormones in food, in milk, and especially people like us who have children, we look at that type of thing as well. Is there a concern about hormones in this type of food?

GUPTA: Yes, it really depends who you ask. I've done a lot of research into this. I've talked about it in my book as well. But I think, like, bovine growth, for example, in milk is something that might be of concern to children in particular who drink a lot of milk. It's a bovine hormone, so it's for cows. But what does that do to the humans? I don't know that we know yet, and at lot of people will say, we'd rather not find out the hard way.

CHETRY: Exactly.

GUPTA: The offset of that, of course, is as you know, organic products are more expensive. It cost more money to actually get those growth-hormone free products, but you know, for some people, it's worth it.

CHETRY: The other interesting thing is, you know, I bring home an organic chicken, and my husband says, what is this, a pigeon? Because they's so much smaller than the big over-stuffer roasters you see. Is that not so natural for them to be so big?

GUPTA: Part of that is the hormones we were just talking about. But something else that a find very interesting is that a lot of chicken, even if they're labeled natural, are still injected, about 30 percent of them are injected with salt water. So not only does it plump up the chicken, making it look bigger, which is a bit deceptive, I think, at a minimum, but it also adds a lot of sodium content. And when you eat chicken, you're thinking you're getting this nice protein source, it's good for your heart, but all of a sudden you have five to six times the amount of salt that you thought you had, so that can be a concern as well.

It's hard to know. You've really to read the labels to find out how much the sodium is in there. Don't rely on the all-natural thing alone.

CHETRY: Educate yourself.

GUPTA: It's your body -- you have to.

CHETRY: You're right.

GUPTA: Dr. Gupta, great to see you, as always.

CHETRY: Thank you, Kiran. ROBERTS: CNN NEWSROOM is just minutes away. Heidi Collins at the CNN Center now with a look what is ahead.

Good morning to you, Heidi.

HEIDI COLLINS, CNN ANCHOR: Good morning there, John.

That's right. We have these stories coming up on the NEWSROOM rundown. Charleston grieves for nine firefighters. Experts say a furniture store fire may have been a flashover, a monster inferno so hot even the smoke burns.

And the missing pregnant Ohio woman -- an abandoned newborn turns up. Authorities run DNA tests to see if the missing woman is the baby's mother.

Plus, the U.N. marks World Refugee Day. We have live reports lined up from Iraq, Iran, Jordan and Chad. Our focus, the four million Iraqis who are displaced. Those stories coming up, NEWSROOM at the top of the hour right here on CNN.

ROBERTS: We'll see you then, Heidi, just 13 minutes from now.

Incredible pictures of a helicopter crash zooming all around the world. We'll show you that and some of the other most popular videos just ahead here on AMERICAN MORNING.


ROBERTS: Ten minutes now before the top of the hour.

The Vatican issues commandments for cars. That tops our quick hits. A 36-page document describes the do's and don't's of driving, saying that people should not drive drunk, succumb to road rage, or even consider a car to be an object of personal glorification.

The Duchess of York is throwing her support behind Paris Hilton. Sarah Ferguson wrote Paris a letter, telling her that she could pull out of the obstacles in her life.

Meantime, Hilton's neighbors in Hollywood Hills are circulating a different kind of letter, telling residents to call the cops and local politicians if there's too much media madness when Paris comes home next week, expected to be released on Monday.

And do the producers of "The Price is Right" want Rosie to come on down? Rosie O'Donnell says that she will likely be meeting with "Price is Right" producers this week. She's made it no secret that she'd like to host, replacing Bob Barker, who retired last week.

The most amazing videos of the day always end up on our CNN Web site. Veronica de la Cruz has been looking at what's most popular this morning and what isn't.

VERONICA DE LA CRUZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Good morning. And we're going to start with, like you said, everything always ends up there. The most popular video this morning, some of it at least, is a piece of tragic video. I want to show it to you. A lot of people are clicking on this video. It shows footage of an Australian Blackhawk helicopter approaching a Navy ship off the coast of Fiji.

Now, everything appears normal here, but then you see that something goes obviously very wrong. The chopper slamming out of the deck and flipping into the ocean.

The video, John, was released as the Australian military started an investigation into the crash, which happened seven months ago. The pilot and a crew member died in this crash, amazingly, eight others survived.

ROBERTS: You know, I remember we aired that on CNN just a few days ago. Incredible video, and what a tragedy as well.

DE LA CRUZ: And I want to get you now to my favorite video of the day. This is at YouTube, and it is -- some of the most viral video out there. Everybody's blogging it, everybody's talking about it. And it's gotten more than a million hits.

Do you play Tetris?


DE LA CRUZ: Well, this is a Japanese game show, which mimics the video game, Tetris. Teams of players compete, it starts out kind of easy, and then it gets ridiculously, John, harder and harder and harder. There's -- that's easy.

Basically, it's a bunch of men in silver spandex trying to get themselves to fit through these moving walls, if you will. Take a look at this.


DE LA CRUZ: So, that's really it in a nutshell. I'm telling you, it is hysterically funny. I couldn't stop watching this. I'm hoping that they keep posting the episodes on YouTube so we can all continue to watch together. And again, this is the most viral video of the day and it's on YouTube.

ROBERTS: Those Japanese game shows really are hilarious.

DE LA CRUZ: Oh, they love the stuff, they can't get enough of it.

ROBERTS: Veronica de la Cruz, thanks -- Kiran?

CHETRY: Another story many people have been following, and that's the birth of sextuplets. An Arizona couple six times happier and probably a lot more sleep-deprived and busier than they were a week ago. That's when Jenny Masche gave birth to sextuplets, three girls and three boys.

So, how are the babies and their mom doing today? Well, Jenny's husband, Bryan Masche, joins us now, along with Dr. Jordan Leonard, who is helping care for the sextuplets there at Phoenix Children's Hospital.

And great to see both of you this morning. Thanks for getting up with us.


BRYAN MASCHE, FATHER OF SEXTUPLETS: Good morning. How are you doing?

CHETRY: Brian, I want to ask you about Cole. Last night, one of your sons, Cole, had to be put back on a breathing machine. How is he doing this morning?

MASCHE: I haven't been down to see him yet this morning. I did see him last night and his eyes were open. He was awake and alert. My wife and I were talking to him. I think Dr. Leonard can probably give you a little better explanation of medically how he's doing right now.

CHETRY: Dr. Leonard, fill us in on the condition of Cole and his brothers and sisters this morning.

LEONARD: Yes. Well, Cole's actually very stable. It was noticed in the past couple of days that it appears Cole has a connection between his bowel and his umbilical cord, and that connection probably has led to him having a small blood infection, so because of some of his difficulties of breathing, Cole was put back on a breathing machine last night.

CHETRY: And there were a lot of ...

LEONARD: The other five are doing well.

CHETRY: Oh, that's great news. A lot of people are concerned and interested, and they follow the struggles that some of these children can face, especially when they're born smaller or born early, or born as part of multiple births.

Dr. Jordan, how do you let your patients know and keep them informed of what they may be going through in terms of health concerns throughout the childhood?

LEONARD: Yes, it's a lot of counselling that starts even before the babies are born. With our colleagues here in Phoenix, we have a great opportunity to meet the families when they're first admitted, to have very frank discussions about the likelihoods of babies having problems when they are delivered early, especially in pregnancies like this where numerous babies are born at the same time.

CHETRY: Bryan, I want to ask you how your wife is doing and how prepared the both of you are for what's certainly going to mean major life changes.

MASCHE: Yes, you know, I don't think you can totally prepare for sextuplets. I think you make your best laid plans and you go to work with those. My family's been really supportive, her family has been really supportive. Her health is doing a lot better.

She had a little bit of a scare right after the delivery of acute heart failure situation that wound up being resolved rather quickly due to some great work of an intensifist and cardiologist. So, health-wise, she's doing better right now. She's hoping for a speedy recovery, that way, she can be involved in helping take care of the kids more.

CHETRY: Well, that's good news, and we wish you all the best. I know you're going to be certainly busy, but your life just got a lot happier, let's put it that way. is where people can go to find out more as well about how the babies are doing. Bryan Masche, as well as Dr. Jordan Leonard, thanks for joining us.

MASCHE: Yes, thank you so much. Have a good day.

CHETRY: And here's a quick look at what CNN NEWSROOM is working on for the top of the hour.


TONY HARRIS, CNN ANCHOR (voice-over): See these stories in the CNN NEWSROOM. A newborn abandoned on the doorsteps of an Ohio house. Police try to figure out if the baby's mother is Jessie Davis (ph), a pregnant woman missing a week now.

Israel lets desperate Palestinians leave Gaza on humanitarian grounds.

New York City's mayor switches from Republican to Independent. Analysts think Michael Bloomberg's setting the stage for a presidential bid.

NEWSROOM, just minutes away now on CNN.



CHETRY: Well, thanks so much for joining us on this AMERICAN MORNING. It's been a great morning here in the nation's capital, but I'll see you back in New York tomorrow, John.

ROBERTS: Come on back home. See you then, Kiran.

CNN NEWSROOM with Tony Harris and Heidi Collins begins right now.


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