Return to Transcripts main page


Sanjay Scrubs In: Surgery for Burned Iraqi Boy; Simpson Out on Bail; Protest in Jena

Aired September 20, 2007 - 07:59   ET


KIRAN CHETRY, CNN ANCHOR: And welcome. It is Thursday, September 20th. Glad you're with us.
I'm Kiran Chetry.

JOHN ROBERTS, CNN ANCHOR: And good morning to you. I'm John Roberts.

Some breaking news to tell you about this morning. There will reportedly be a new tape from Osama bin Laden, and it could be released this morning.

According to IntelCenter -- that's the U.S. organization that monitors Islamist Web sites -- the tape is titled "Come to Jihad," and in it bin Laden declares war on Pakistani president Pervez Musharraf and his army.

Earlier, we spoke with terrorism analyst Laura Mansfield about the strength of al Qaeda in Pakistan.


LAURA MANSFIELD, TERRORISM ANALYST: Al Qaeda is a strong presence in Pakistan, and I believe it's continuing to increase -- increase in terms of prestige and in terms of its reach. The incidents of the Lal Masjid this summer, or the Red Mosque, has greatly enflamed the situation.


ROBERTS: Pakistan's president, Pervez Musharraf. The target of the tape says he will seek reelection on October 6th and dismiss the declaration of war from bin Laden -- Kiran.

CHETRY: Well, now to a long-awaited surgery that viewers like you helped make possible. We've been following the story of Youssif. He is the 5-year-old Iraqi boy whose face was horribly burned when masked gunmen doused him in gasoline and set him on fire in Baghdad.

Well, you responded. Thirteen thousand donations have poured in to CNN's Impact Your World, and it really has, it's helped change Youssif's life.

CNN Chief Medical Correspondent Sanjay Gupta is in Sherman Oaks, California.

Where you're about to scrub in with Youssif's doctors. The best of the best at the Grossman Burn Center.

Hi, Sanjay. Good morning.


Yes, it's pretty early here in the morning. And Youssif is already in the building behind me, getting ready for surgery. This has been obviously something that's been planned very meticulously.

The projected cost, incidentally -- a lot of people have been asking this -- for everything, for all of the operations that he is going to need, about $300,000. And as you already mentioned, that money was easily raised after the story started airing on CNN and More than 13,000 different donations.

The specific plan for today -- I've been talking to Dr. Grossman about this -- I have a little animation to show you exactly what's going to happen.

Some of the most critical parts of his entire process is going to take place today. You see a couple of the burned areas right along his nose, going into his lips. These are some of the most cosmetic areas of the face, some of the most difficult to operate on. They are also badly burned. Those areas are actually -- that area of scar and burn tissue is actually going to be removed and then some skin is actually going to be placed over that.

In addition to that, and this is very important, you can see those dotted lines in various areas. They're actually going to put some tissue expanders in to actually expand some of his normal skin and then, ultimately, they'll take that expanded skin and sort of stretch it over burned skin, both on his neck and over his right ear.

As you and John have mentioned, this is a process that's going to take place over several months. But today's operation, what's going to take place in the next hour or so, is probably the most crucial in all of this -- Kiran.

CHETRY: Wow. That's really unbelievable. And as we said, I mean, this is, what, a world renowned burn center. It's Dr. Grossman himself that's going to be conducting this surgery today.

GUPTA: Yes, absolutely. And, you know, he's had some remarkable results with other patients as well, being able to take care of these sorts of burns.

But I'll tell you as well, one of the caveats I think both for Youssif and his family -- and Dr. Grossman is obviously very aware of this -- is that it is very difficult at this juncture to try and predict exactly what the outcome will be. Obviously, you'd like to hope and believe that it will be a return to a very normal appearance, but it's very hard to say.

People heal at different rates, they heal with different amounts of scarring. It may require more operations. There is the risk of infection.

This is a long process and there are lots of potential risks. And again, when you're talking about this part of your face, in here you have some of the most cosmetic areas of the body, obviously. But the way that the skin grows is different than any other place in the body, so to make at all work requires a lot of coordination, and today is when at all starts.

CHETRY: All right. It will be interesting to get your report back, what you observe in the operating room today.

Sanjay, thank you.

GUPTA: Thank you.

CHETRY: Also, to find out what you can do to impact your world, go to

ROBERTS: Incredible. We'll be watching that one closely.

O.J. Simpson is now free on bail and back in south Florida, arriving overnight on a flight from Las Vegas. He posted the $125,000 bail yesterday after facing a Las Vegas judge. Meanwhile, another suspect in the case has been arrested.

CNN's John Zarrella is live outside of Simpson's Florida, live from Miami.

And John -- I don't know if John can hear me.

John, can you hear me?

No, we don't appear to have John dialed in. So what we'll do is we'll get that all fixed up.

Another twist in this case, memorabilia dealer Bruce Fromong, who was confronted by Simpson and his associates that night in the hotel room, called into "LARRY KING LIVE" from his hospital bed. Fromong suffered a heart attack on Tuesday. He called in last night, didn't mince words about whether someone had waved a gun at him in the hotel in Las Vegas.


BRUCE FROMONG, CONFRONTED BY SIMPSON: Let's end the speculation right now. Yes, there was a gun. It was right in front of my face.


ROBERTS: Fromong went on to say that O.J. was not the person with the gun but he says that Simpson needs help.


FROMONG: I hope O.J. gets help. You know? I hope O.J. gets help. Does he -- you know, what he did was wrong, absolutely, no doubt about it.


ROBERTS: If convicted of the most serious charges, Simpson faces life in prison.

Let's go back to John Zarrella in Miami. We've got him hooked up now.

Any idea where O.J. is at this point?

JOHN ZARRELLA, CNN CORRESPONDENT: That's the big question this morning, John, where is O.J.?

He arrived in south Florida last night, didn't come into Miami International Airport. He arrived at Ft. Lauderdale Airport with his girlfriend, who had accompanied him and was out with him in Las Vegas.

He was escorted off the flight. The last one to come off the plane. They allowed passengers to leave first. Then, with some security from the Broward Sheriff's Office, he was led out.

They got their luggage. He went to curbside where a vehicle was waiting for him. And then he and his girlfriend disappeared.

One report that maybe they stopped at Miami International to pick up another car that was there, but he never showed up back here at his south Miami home. Behind the hedges, down the palm-lined driveway is O.J.'s house, but he did not come back here. Some thought that maybe he went and spent the evening at his longtime girlfriend's house, but that, of course, unconfirmed.

Another report, John, from a journalist who was on the flight, that O.J. was very composed, no problems on the flight at all. And when this journalist approached him and talked with him, O.J. said that he perhaps would be going back to Las Vegas in October for that next scheduled hearing.

So the big question here today, is O.J. going to show up back at his house? When is he going to show up? And if he does, is he going to have anything to say?


ROBERTS: Well, you will be there in the eventuality that he does show up.

John Zarrella in Miami for us this morning.

John, thanks -- Kiran.

CHETRY: Also new this morning, the New York Police Department saying no to a request from Iran's president. Mahmoud Ahmadinejad will be in New York on Sunday. He is scheduled to speak before the United Nations General Assembly. Well, he asked if he could enter the fenced-in World Trade Center site because he says he wanted to pay tribute to the victims of 9/11. The police say, sorry, the area is off limits.


RAY KELLY, NEW YORK POLICE COMMISSIONER: Construction is ongoing. So we did allow, obviously, on September 11th people to go into the site. Construction is now back in full swing. So I think it would not be possible to have him go to any area, other than the area where most of the public goes.


CHETRY: Well, U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Zalmay Khalilizad a little more blunt about it. He says the U.S. won't let Ahmadinejad use Ground Zero as a photo-op. He went on to say if Ahmadinejad wants to honor the 9/11 victims, his country can stop supporting terror groups like Hezbollah.

Well, we have an AMERICAN MORNING update for you now. You may remember this woman. That's this woman who wants to be a doctor, as well as her lawyer.

Well, a judge rejected this Harvard student's request. She wanted extra break time during her nine-hour medical licensing exam so that she could pump breast milk.

Her name is Sophie Curier (ph). She's a new mother. Her baby is about four and a half months old, and she made her case right here last week.

Well, a judge has now ruled -- a judge said that Curier (ph) has other options, saying the test is offered a number of times during the year and that she can take it when she is done breast feeding. Curier (ph) has since started a blog about her experience. She says she hopes her case draws national attention to the problems faced by nursing mothers.

So, again, John, the judge rejecting her argument that she should be allowed that extra time. Instead saying, you've got to wait to take that test.

ROBERTS: Well, that's a shame for her.

Agriculture Secretary Mike Johanns is expected to resign, clearing the way for a Senate campaign. A White House announcement is scheduled this morning. Sources say Johanns will run for the Nebraska Senate seat that is being vacated by fellow Republican Chuck Hagel.

Johanns served as Nebraska's governor for six years before going to Washington to head up the Agriculture Department in President Bush's second term.

Hillary Clinton is slamming Vice President Dick Cheney in the wake of a loss by Senate Democrats over Iraq policy. Republican senators blocked a measure that would limit the time that U.S. troops spend in Iraq. The proposal was four votes short of passage.

Last night at a fund-raiser in New York, Hillary Clinton blasted Cheney's role in shoring up support for the war.


SEN. HILLARY RODHAM CLINTON (D-NY), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: You can always tell when the Republicans are restless because the vice president's motorcade pulls into the Capitol and Darth Vader emerges.


ROBERTS: That bill, by the way, sponsored by Virginia Senator Jim Webb, would have required that U.S. troops spend as much time as home as they do deployed -- Kiran.

CHETRY: Well, thousands of protesters are about to begin their march on tiny Jena, Louisiana, claiming racial injustice for six black students. The six are accused of beating a white student. They were initially charged with attempted murder, charges that some say were excessive, and tensions have been rising since last year, when a black student sat under a tree where white students sit. The next day, nooses were hung from that tree.

AMERICAN MORNING'S Sean Callebs is live in Jena this morning.

And we can see behind you buses. They were expecting thousands. How is it shaping up so far today, Sean?

SEAN CALLEBS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: You know, Kiran, they are getting thousands. It is still much earlier than they told people to arrive and they are pouring in.

If you look over here, these folks are actually on a bus from New Orleans. This is the busiest guy in the whole place here. He has been running herd over all of these bus as they come down this one little narrow thoroughfare right down here.

All the buses come here. They drop people off. And then they make their way into this baseball field.

Now, earlier, they had cars coming in. But you know what? It filled up so quickly. There are, indeed, thousands and thousands of people here.

The crowd estimates today vary wildly. They tell us there could be anywhere from a few thousand to as many as 60,000.

Now, let's get back to the reason why all these people are here.

This is what you're seeing on shirts all around here, "Release the captives." It's all about the Jena 6, as the six young African- American teenagers are now known.

We also heard from the district attorney who had been somewhat muted on this thing for months. One of the teens, 16-year-old Mychal Bell, has been in a jail since December, not able to (INAUDIBLE). His conviction was overturned. Well, the D.A. says this isn't about race at all. He says it's about a very dangerous fight.

The six teens accused of beating Justin Barker in a fight that happened on the school grounds last year. What the civil rights leaders gathering here, Kiran, want to know is, why wasn't this handled in school? Why did charges of attempted murder have to be filed first?

They've been pared back, but there is a massive demonstration going on here. The baseball field out there is already filling up. The Reverend Jesse Jackson is going to be speaking here. And later, another group of demonstrators with Al Sharpton will be marching on the small courthouse.

Now, basically this town is shut down for the day, Kiran. It is a town of about 2,900, predominantly white. The authorities have turned crowd control security over to the state police and they are monitoring everything so far. It has been a very peaceful morning, everything has gone just as planned. Perhaps a crowd bigger than they thought, however, at this hour -- Kiran.

CHETRY: All right. Very interesting.

Sean Callebs, we'll check back in with you this morning. Thank you very much.

Also, tonight, Kyra Phillips will be going behind the headlines to investigate just what happened in the case. "Judgment in Jena," it airs tonight, 8:00 Eastern Time.

And we check in with Rob Marciano right now. He is tracking some extreme weather for us.


ROBERTS: A small plane crashes in a shopping center parking lot. And the rescue is on. We'll talk with one of the good Samaritans who rushed to the rescue next on AMERICAN MORNING.


ROBERTS: Coming up to 16 minutes after the hour now.

Good Samaritans rush to the rescue of those on board the small plane that crashed in a parking lot in Chattanooga, Tennessee, last night. No one on the ground was hurt, but all four passengers on the plane were taken to a hospital after they were pulled out of the wreckage.

Robin Flores, an attorney, was among the people who helped in the rescue. He joins us now live from the crash site.

Robin, thanks for being with us.

How did this whole thing begin for you? ROBIN FLORES, HELPED PLANE CRASH VICTIMS: Well, my wife and I were over at this LongHorn Steakhouse eating dinner. We were sitting over by the window and first heard a noise, a loud thud. And I looked out the -- looked out the window and saw a vehicle that was spinning and a big item that was coming to stop.

And it didn't dawn on me it was a airplane at first. I just thought it was a car wreck. I took a double-take and said to myself it's an airplane.

So I went outside and went across the street to start looking around to see if there was anybody injured. It was real quiet. And the first concern that we had was that, you know, with the smell of fuel, you know, fire, obviously. So that's -- my concern was to see who was hurt.


FLORES: There was a vehicle, as you can probably see, that was smashed up underneath the airplane. Another one that's on its top.

ROBERTS: Yes. We should point out that the car that you saw spinning was the car that had been hit by that aircraft as it came in for that emergency landing, got flipped over and was spun around like a top.

You rushed over to the aircraft. We saw the extent of the wreckage there. It's pretty busted up.


ROBERTS: Did you have any idea that anybody could of survived that?

FLORES: I was really surprised that there wasn't anyone fatally injured. When I looked in the windshield of the plane itself, there's a man that was laying across the front seats. And he had a big gaping wound on his head.

I went around to the door that was open -- the door to the plane was open. There was a woman that was inside and there was a large fellow in a football jersey inside.

And I went inside and looked to the right where the fuselage had broken to see if anyone was there. And then we helped the man with the head wound out. And then once we got him out, I then went up underneath the airplane...


FLORES: ... to check the SUV and couldn't really see any of the SUV. I had to crawl between -- up under the mane. There was a space about so big.

Pulled the windshield out to look inside the SUV, went inside, didn't see anyone in there. And by that time, the Officer David Huggins (ph) from the Chattanooga Police Department had showed up and was asking -0- you know, was asking me if there was anyone in that vehicle. I told him no, obviously.

ROBERTS: So what prompted you, Robin, to get up from your dinner there and run over and not just observe what was going on, but to try to help out in effecting the rescue of the people who were on board?

FLORES: My first thought was fire.


FLORES: And I wouldn't -- I wouldn't wish death by fire on anybody.


FLORES: And, you know, it just seemed like the right thing to do. You know, it wasn't a big deal. And then I left.

The police officers -- by the time all of the injured people were accounted for, I was more in the way than anything else. And so I left. My wife and I left.


FLORES: There wasn't really anything else to do.

ROBERTS: Well, good on you for you and that other woman that we saw earlier this morning, Melissa, and the other fellow in the football shirt who we don't know his name, for getting out there and pitching in. Good Samaritans all, and perhaps you did something to really help those folks out.

Robin Flores joining us this morning from Chattanooga, Tennessee.

Robin, thanks.

FLORES: My pleasure.



ROBERTS: Well, welcome back to the most news in the morning.

It was easily our favorite video of the day yesterday.

CHETRY: That's right. Three little bears running wild in a yard having a ball on this hammock. And you know, the more we watched it, though, we thought, wow, I mean, who is behind the camera there?

Well, we found her. It was Susan Kehoe is her name. She joins us this morning from New Jersey out in front of her famous hammock.

Thanks for being with us, Susan.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Look at me. Look at the camera.


ROBERTS: Oh, good. You can hear us. That's great.

Hey, how did this whole thing begin for you yesterday? You and your husband, I understand, were in the kitchen just sort of looking out in the backyard?

KEHOE: No. What we were doing -- what I was doing was working alone in the house and I saw a bear in the backyard on the hammock. And all of a sudden, two others came and I grabbed my camcorder and I took a picture of them with the camcorder.

CHETRY: Have they -- have they paid a visit to the hammock before? You know, oftentimes we hear about bears being attracted by perhaps the scent of the trashcan, looking for some food. But they clearly wanted to play on your hammock.

Has that ever happened before?

KEHOE: One time there was one bear that came last night -- I mean last year, and she was on the hammock. But it's very unusual to see three bears at one time fighting over a hammock. And the reason why there were probably three bears here is because it was garbage day, and they have to come through my yard to go through the garbage up -- you know, up on the other roads that people don't contain properly. And those are my photo opportunities.

ROBERTS: Right. It's almost like Goldilocks in reverse there. You've got the three bears coming to try out the hammock.


ROBERTS: You say that the bears often come through when it's garbage day. How long have you been dealing with these bears?

KEHOE: Well, I'm not dealing with them. I'm enjoying them. And the garbage days are Monday and Thursday. Today is Thursday. And these gentlemen here had the opportunity to see a couple walk through.

CHETRY: Yes. In fact, we have the video from that. When our own crew was setting up the shots, apparently there was another one.

Let's check that out. This was taken earlier this morning while we were setting up.

And there -- you're standing there calmly and there is a bear not too far. There you go chasing it away.

Do you ever get scared of those bears?

KEHOE: No, I don't. Not at all. I've been living up here for over 20 years and I've got accustomed to seeing them and dealing with them properly containing my garbage. And I've never felt threatened at all.

ROBERTS: Right. Yes, you live in a rural part of New Jersey, up there in the northwest corner, not far from the Mountain Creek ski area.

You know, yesterday when we showed the video, we said we didn't know if it was brave or stupid to be out there filming the bears. And we didn't mean to be condescending, but, you know, we had a guy on a little bit later on in the morning who had been mauled by a bear. And we all hear these warnings about getting between a mother and her cubs.

You don't sense that danger?

KEHOE: You have to be cautious around any wild animal, and the mauling of the bear I believe took place in the West. All of the maulings appear to be in the West. Hardly any happen here on the East, because in the East, they're more familiar with people and surroundings. And they're very -- they're very timid.


CHETRY: Yes, we saw in that video how quickly that bear ran away when you sort of ran up on it.

In this picture, what happened afterward? How long did they stay and play around on that hammock and when did they decide to take off, Susan?

KEHOE: They only stayed there about three minutes, and then I decided it's time for them not to get used to seeing me. So I scooted them back in the woods.


KEHOE: But I just couldn't miss that photo opportunity. It was too funny.

ROBERTS: Yes, it certainly was cute. It was really the shot of the day. And you've got to wonder if, you know, that hammock is going to become the new garbage can type of attraction for these bears.

They like it as much...

CHETRY: It was their own personal jungle gym.

Well, Susan, thanks for sharing it. We had a lot of people who just were tickled by that video as well. So thanks for coming out and talking to us this morning.

KEHOE: OK. Thank you.

ROBERTS: All right. Good to see you.

CHETRY: Well, here is a look at a story coming up that you can't miss. You know, this video that Susan shot, of course, will probably make its way on to YouTube, if it hasn't already. And, you know, YouTube, of course, is the new Internet sensation. Maybe it's not so new.

But now this is new. You can apparently earn college credit at one school for watching YouTube.

ROBERTS: It had to happen, yes. One college offering what may be the first course about the video-sharing site this fall. We'll talk with the professor and one of his students.

More on that when AMERICAN MORNING returns.


ROBERTS: Welcome back to AMERICAN MORNING. And thanks for joining us on this Thursday, the 20th of September. I'm John Roberts.

CHETRY: And I'm Kiran Chetry.

And there's word this morning of another tape from Osama Bin Laden, which will reportedly be released as soon as this morning. According to Intel Center, a U.S. organization that monitors Islamist Web sites, the tape is titled "Come to Jihad." And in it, Bin Laden declares war on Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf and his army. It's not clear whether the tape will have video or just audio.

And also new this morning, protesters getting ready to march at this hour in Jena, Louisiana, demonstrating against what they feel is racial injustice in the charging of six black students for the alleged beating of a white student. The students face charges of aggravated second-degree battery and conspiracy.

Here's a look at live pictures from Jena right now. The town is virtually shut down. It's a town of under 3,000 but, today, that swelled. The population protesters are coming out en masse because they say these charges were extreme and they say that it was unnecessary for a fight among high school students to be taken that far. Although family members of the boy say that he was badly beaten and injured. Today's demonstration is being compared to the civil rights struggles of the 1960s.

In the last hour, I asked the Reverend Jesse Jackson why he says the Jena march is like the march on Selma, Alabama in 1965.


REV. JESSE JACKSON, RAINBOWS/PUSH COALITION: What makes this like Selma is that there is Jim in every state. More blacks in college in every state. It's like the criminal justice system has elapsed on blacks and some says people come in here to go back home to fight their own Jena as we fight for equal protection under the law.

(END VIDEO CLIP) CHETRY: Well, tonight, CNN's Kyra Phillips goes behind the headlines to investigate just what happened in this case. "Judgment in Jena" begins tonight at 8:00 p.m. Eastern.

We also have some new information now to breaking news that we were following for you all morning. An explosion and fire tearing apart a three-story apartment building this morning. It happened in Deerfield Beach, Florida, that's about 15 miles from Ft. Lauderdale. And you saw it live on CNN.

We'll have now learned that five to eight people were injured, minor injuries like smoke inhalation. They say that many of the residents were able to get out in time. When they talked about this explosion, they say the cause is still unclear but there were propane tanks in the building and also a natural gas line that runs under a nearby road.

ROBERTS: Now, there were a flurry of them last week and another earthquake hit Indonesia this morning. A 6.7 magnitude quake hit the island of Sumatra. No tsunami warnings were issued this time around though. It was just last week that an 8.4 quake struck off of the island's coast that killed at least 23 people, brought several strong aftershocks, many of them magnitude 7 and above.

A brief scare in Japan after the world's largest nuclear power plant caught fire again. The same plant that started leaking radioactive water after an earthquake in July. It's been under repair since then. The Tokyo Electric Power Company says the fire was out in about half-hour's time and did not cause any major damage or any new leaks.

There's no school today for 12,000 kids in a dozen New Jersey towns after someone made a bomb threat, no school. Police say a letter sent to the mayor of Emerson, New Jersey set off a wave of closures that started yesterday afternoon. The letter read all three schools would be blown out on Thursday, September 20th, at 11:30 a.m. with two other schools in nearby towns.


DR. VINCENT TAFFARO, EMERSON SCHOOL SUPERINTENDENT: Seriously, in light of the times that we live in, it's important that we respond appropriately to all threats made to our schools and our students.


ROBERTS: Bomb sniffing dogs swept Emerson schools yesterday but police say they did not find anything.

CHETRY: Well, Ali Velshi is "Minding your Business." He is live from Washington this morning where the chairman of the federal reserve will be answering questions from Congress a little more than an hour from now. Hi there, Ali.

ALI VELSHI, "MINDING YOUR BUSINESS": Hey, Kiran. The highlight of my month because we're going to hear from Ben Bernanke in language that you and I can probably understand because he will be asked questions by members of the House Banking Committee. He will be there with Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson and they will be talking about the subprime prices and what they're planning to do about it and what the fed and the government are going to do for people who are going to lose their homes because their mortgages have re-adjusted.

But remember, it's a two-part problem. One is the credit problem and the second run one is the housing market. So, I want to give you some sense of where we are in the housing market. Let's look at the price of a median existing home and a median new home in the United States. A median is the one at which half of the home sold are above that price and half are lower. An existing home is $3,700 cheaper than it was at the same time last year and a new home about $5,340 cheaper than it was last year. So, the drops are not all that substantial.

One of the things to concern ourselves with though is most homes are existing homes and median new homes, it's a big deal because all the construction that goes into those homes means more jobs. And we've lost a lot of those jobs. Also, look at mortgage rates. Right now, a 30-year mortgage rate is less expensive than a one-year adjustable rate mortgage. That's something to consider for people who have adjustable rate mortgages that are resetting at higher prices.

We are going to be following the home price story and what the Henry Paulson, the treasury secretary and Ben Bernanke, the fed chair have to say to the House Banking Committee and that starts at 10:00 p.m. Eastern and I'll be here covering it -- Kiran.

CHETRY: Sounds good. Ali Velshi live for us in the nation's capital. Thanks.

ROBERTS: T.O.'s touch-down no-no -- the NFL has fined Dallas Cowboys wide receiver Torello and his latest touchdown celebration. Here it is. Owens said he was fined a good chunk of money for Sunday's end zone celebration that included him using the goal post and football props to poke fun at the Patriots sidelines spying scandal.

Barry Bonds has called the man who bought his 756th home run ball an "idiot. " That man, Mark Ecko faced $750,000 for the ball, now asking fans what he should do with it. The choices on his Web site are give the ball to the hall of fame, brand it with an asterisk or blast it into outer space.

Well, they say it's easier in some cities to find a gun than a fresh vegetable. It could be the root of obesity and diabetes crisis in urban areas of America. Dr. Sanjay Gupta shows us a growing movement to change all that. That's coming up.

I'm sure, you may have watched it over and over again but should kids be paid to study it? We'll go to the YouTube college class ahead on AMERICAN MORNING. CHETRY: 40 minutes past the hour right now. Rob Marciano is keeping an eye on some stuff over here on the satellite.

ROB MARCIANO, AMS METEOROLOGIST: Yes, kind of looks like a mess but it's getting a little bit better organized. I know it looked messy earlier but watching that thing right there. It could be getting into something. It's already kind of creating a bunch of rain across parts of Florida and flooding conditions across the northeast coast from Jacksonville, Flagler Beach.

Some of the video showing almost tropical storm-like conditions. Locals describe it like a bit of a northeasterly. See the waves, big time surf, beach erosion and winds are gusting to 47 miles per hour and some flooding. All right. Back to the satellite we go and then we'll show you a little bit of radar action because most of the rain has moved up to the Carolinas and coastal parts of Georgia and that's where we're seeing the threat for flooding today in spots.

From this satellite, we go back over to the Gulf of Mexico where the center of this thing is. It's starting to spin a little bit and that has us concerned in the National Hurricane Center is going to fly not one not two but eventually three planes into this thing. One of which is a G-4 Gulfstream to really get a handle on where this thing might be going. Talk about that in the coming days.

Meanwhile, yesterday afternoon it is baseball season. The fall classic coming up. Hopefully the Yanks will be there but, for sure, the grounds crew will be hard at work man at manicuring the grass and the infield.

Yesterday afternoon, I got the chance to hang out with the guys working the field at Yankee Stadium. All that it takes to maintain the mound, infield and outfield it is a lot more than you would think. It's a big thrill for me as a longtime Yankee fan but I learned quite a few things as to what has to be done. You have to keep the field level. You got to keep the grass green and you got to, most importantly, Kiran, you got to keep those high-paid players happy.

CHETRY: That's right. They don't like when their field is messed up. They listen to guys like you of course. They need to know what the weather is going to be like so they can make sure...

MARCIANO: Weather is a huge thing. That's the first thing they do when they get in there in the morning. They check their radar on the Internet and they also have a weather services that they actually pay for to get a handle on what is going to happen with the weather. And lately the weather has been good, as has the Yankees luck. They're on their way to taking over the Sox.

CHETRY: You'd you be much happier if Johnny Damon, maybe Roger Clemens call you personally to find out what the weather is like?

MARCIANO: Yes. That hasn't happened.

CHETRY: We have his number. Call anytime.

MARCIANO: Please do. It would be free.

CHETRY: Rob, thanks. John.

ROBERTS: Fresh fruit and vegetables could be hard to come by in some cities. And some people say it's why obesity and diabetes are reaching record levels there. Our chief medical correspondent, Dr. Sanjay Gupta has been looking into this for his CNN special coming up this weekend. "Fed Up America's Killer Diet."



DR. SANJAY GUPTA, CNN CHIEF MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): In one of the toughest neighbors in Chicago, a garden of plenty.

(on camera): What are you growing in here?

REDMOND: Yes. Any number of things. Those are collar greens.

GUPTA: Green, leafy vegetables.

REDMOND: Absolutely.

GUPTA: Something that's hard to get around here otherwise?

REDMOND: You will not be able to find this around here.

GUPTA (voice-over): Madonna Redmond planted the first seeds of what she calls urban farm sites when she couldn't find fresh produce nearby. You see, there are no supermarkets here, only convenience stores. With no place to buy fresh food, Redmond says no wonder many in the neighborhood suffer from high blood pressure, diabetes, and obesity.

REDMOND: I think it's definitely is related to the access to healthy food issue. I mean most of those diseases are diet-related.

GUPTA: Urban farm sites like this one in Chicago are part of a growing movement. Taja Sevelle started the non-profit urban farming two years ago in Detroit with a goal of eradicating hunger. The group has added gardens in New York, Los Angeles, St. Louis, St. Paul and Newark. Sevelle says urban farming is about a lot more than growing healthy food free for the taking.

TAJA SEVELLE, URBAN FARMING: There's a look in your eye when you don't have any hope. And I've seen that look of hopelessness and I've seen that look come back to life and not only come back to life, but come back to life in the big way.

GUPTA: A taste of the country in the city where the harvest is hope and better health.

Dr. Sanjay Gupta, CNN, Chicago.


ROBERTS: We got that story and a whole lot more coming up for you. Be sure to catch Dr. Sanjay Gupta's special "Fed Up! America's Killer Diet." It airs on Saturday and Sunday night at 8:00 p.m. Eastern right here on CNN.

CHETRY: Well, you probably watch it but what about studying it? Coming up, YouTube as a college class. What do they learn? We'll, we're going to meet the teacher and one of her students ahead.

Also Judge Ito weighs in on O.J. Is that Judge Ito? What his stunt double had to say about the new case and why it's causing a little bit of a stir with the real judge. Ahead on AMERICAN MORNING.


CHETRY: The CNN NEWSROOM is just minutes away. Now, Tony Harris is live in Jena, Louisiana with a look at what's ahead today.

Good morning, Tony.

TONY HARRIS, CNN ANCHOR: Hey Kiran. Good to see you. Good morning everyone.

Extensive coverage for you all day from Jena, Louisiana. Civil rights leader Jesse Jackson and, I believe, just moments ago, Al Sharpton, arrived here at the courthouse. I believe we actually have some tape of that. Joined by entertainment celebrities leading marches all day today. Protesters here in Jena as well supporting six young African-Americans they call severe criminal charges for a fight and attack, a racial injustice. Jena High School where it at all started -- racial tensions, nooses in a tree, a school yard beating, all six teens originally charged with attempted murder.

We are following this story throughout the day here in the CNN NEWSROOM. Heidi Collins with me in a couple of minutes at the top of the hour. Right here in the CNN NEWSROOM from Atlanta and Jena, Louisiana.

Kiran, back to you.

CHETRY: All right. Sounds good. Thanks a lot, Tony.

Well, meantime, it's a popular video sharing site, of course. Everyone knows about it now, YouTube. Well, now it's a college class. Learning from YouTube is being offered at a Pitzer College in California. So, what is the class all about and is it a good idea?

Joining me from the classroom where the course is being held, Professor Alexandria and Miranda Perry. She's a student who's taking the class. And they are live in Claremont, California this morning. Thanks for being with us, both of you.



CHETRY: Professor, why don't you start out by telling us what the course is like. What are the assignments like in the YouTube class?

JUHASZ: As hard as this may be to believe, the assignments are all on YouTube and that means the students have to post their work as videos or comments on YouTube and they're only allowed to do their research in YouTube that is until they vote to go off of YouTube, if they vote to go off of YouTube.

CHETRY: What do you mean?

JUHASZ: Well, I'm quite critical of the site but I'd like the students to figure out what they can learn there, what about our culture they can learn there and what they can learn about communication and expression but what are the limits of this space we're spending more and more time. Although there's a lot of media there but there are other structural limitations about how we have spoken historically, about how we acquire knowledge, about how we communicate with each other that are hard to do within the architecture of the YouTube site.

CHETRY: Well, professor, are we giving YouTube too much credit? I mean, isn't this another entertainment tool the same as if somebody was watching television or renting a movie?

JUHASZ: I think it can be used as an entertainment tool and for many people, that's what it is. I'm interested in democratic uses of the media. I'm interested in the history of, as a media study scholar, in history the media, some of the most important work of our culture has been produced -- personal expression, political media and there's no reason why YouTube can't be used to do the most serious work of our culture and in some places it is.

I want my students to push at this one new media forum to ask, can it do the important cultural work that we've been doing in academia for centuries? The media has been doing for a hundred years? Or are these new forms actually limiting our abilities as human beings?

CHETRY: Miranda, you're one who signed up for the class of about 30 people. It's very popular, filled up very quickly. You're paying about $3,200 for each of your classes on average. What do you think of it so far, has it been worth it?

MIRANDA PERRY, STUDENT IN YOUTUBE CLASS: Oh, yes. I definitely think that it has. I've taken a lot of classes and, you know, usually you're writing a paper, you know? You're reading about the subject. But in this class, it's been very unique just because not only are we studying this, but we're being a part of it, too. We're participating and we're really sort of examining the site at a depth that you don't usually get in a normal classroom or a normal sort of typical college course.

CHETRY: Well, it's interesting because you have to post a lot of this publicly online. Is that strange for you having your face and your opinions be out there for the world to see?

PERRY: Yes. You know, it is strange. I'm a typically very shy person so I'm not used to this sort of attention. But that's what YouTube is. It's people putting themselves out there. It's people who are anonymous making themselves known to the general public and I don't think we can really appreciate what the site is about unless we sort of do that ourselves.

CHETRY: It's interesting. I have a feeling some of the other colleges will be following suit because certainly it is a cultural phenomenon that seems here to say.

Thanks to both of you. Professor Juhasz as well as Miranda from Pitzer College in Claremont, California. Thanks for being with us.

JUHASZ: Thank you.

PERRY: Thank you.

ROBERTS: Interesting evolution for a site that Chad Hurley started so he could upload pictures of his cat. Incredible.

CHETRY: Isn't it interesting? Hey, CNN/YouTube debate.

ROBERTS: Unbelievable.

CHETRY: Political forum.

ROBERTS: And another one coming up in November as well.

ROBERTS: Judge Ito weighs in on O.J. or maybe he doesn't. What his stunt double had to say about the new case. That's ahead on AMERICAN MORNING.


CHETRY: Time now to introduce you to a CNN hero. These are people that make a difference in their own communities and, today, it's a man who lost a leg at the age of nine 9 to cancer but it hasn't slowed him down. He is now helping others in his very same situation.

Josh Sundquist is today's CNN hero.


JOHN SUNDQUIST: There's no way you can sort of separate having an amputation from the rest of my life. (INAUDIBLE) your chances is everything.

As a kid, no one my age ever beat me in a foot race. I figured I was probably one of the fastest people in the world. That was kind of what I told myself. I started having pain in my left leg when I was 9-years-old. The doctor found cancer. A lot of the grieving sort of happened for me before I lost my leg. I remember thinking can I just go out and live a normal life with one leg? An amputee that I met was a guy named Larry Klopeck. He drove a convertible and had a normal job and I was like, wow, you know, he lives a normal life. That is what really kind of turned the corner for me. I don't think most amputees have friends that are also amputees. Online, there wasn't really a good place to meet people centrally, provide information and ask for information and meet other people. And so I thought that just needs to happen.

I'm Josh Sundquist, and I created an online community for amputees to meet other amputees, ask questions and get answers.

I wanted it to be like a catchy name, you know? Like give me a hand or like a leg up. Every pun I could think of was taken. Finally, I thought less than four. Which admittedly is not quite a pun, but it's kind of catchy and also can be sweetly abbreviated.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I stumbled across a site looking for a T- shirt with an amputee on it. The site seems pretty cool.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I have a bad habit of staring at people that are staring at arm.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You make me laugh and if you only knew how that helps me out.

SUNDQUIST: That's the best feeling is that the community is sort of like rising up leaders from within by sort of taking the baton to other amputees and I think that's pretty cool.



ROBERTS: An explosion. A massive inferno this morning at an apartment in Deerfield Beach, Florida. A cadaver dog has now been requested on the scene after the roof came down there.

Joining us now live from Deerfield Beach with an update is WFOR reporter, Tiffani Helberg.

What's the latest from there? Tiffany.

TIFFANI HELBERG, WFOR REPORTER: Well, John, firefighters just gave me an update telling me there are areas of debris where the building has collapsed that they now expect they might find fatalities. Let me show you the scene that we're talking about. You can see that the roof was blown off into pieces of it are thrown for several blocks here.

Right now, we know they are bringing in the cadaver dogs to search the building. This all started with an explosion around 5:30 this morning that erupted into flames. The fire is out now and emergency crews are still trying to do head counts and tend to all of the people who escaped this disaster. Hundreds of them.

They tell us about five to eight people are injured. We've seen paramedics wheel several of them away in gurneys. They are also concerned about the structural integrity of that building. As you can see, firefighters are still in there searching for victims as we speak. That's the very latest.

Live in Deerfield Beach, I'm Tiffani Helberg. Back to you guys.

ROBERTS: All right. Tiffany, thanks very much for that.

Of course, we'll keep following that story throughout the day as officials are trying to come up with a cause of that explosion this morning.

CHETRY: And that's going to do it for us here in AMERICAN MORNING. Thanks so much for being with us. Will see you back here tomorrow.

ROBERTS: See you in the NEWSROOM with Tony Harris in Jena, Louisiana and Heidi Collins in Atlanta, begins right now.

HARRIS: And good morning, everyone. You are in the CNN NEWSROOM. I'm Tony Harris.

In Jena, Louisiana, thousands protesting criminal charges they say are excessive a schoolyard fight with race and the justice system on the nation's radar.

HEIDI COLLINS, CNN ANCHOR: And good morning everybody. I'm Heidi Collins.