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Mattel Apologizes to China in Toy Recall; More Blackwater Accusations; Clooney Recovering

Aired September 22, 2007 - 11:00   ET

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


BETTY NGUYEN, CNN ANCHOR: Hello everybody, it is Saturday, September 22nd and you are in the CNN NEWSROOM. I'm Betty Nguyen.
ROB MARCIANO, CNN METEOROLOGIST: And I'm Rob Marciano, in for T.J. Holmes. Lots happening this hour, here's what's going on straight ahead.

NGUYEN: Blackwater backlash. The biggest private security firm in Iraq is facing new accusations this morning.

MARCIANO: Also George Clooney's crash, the Hollywood heartthrob ends up in the hospital. We'll tell you how he's doing.

NGUYEN: Plus delays, lost luggage, even being stuck on the tarmac. Are you tired of hassles when it comes to airline travel? I'm going to talk live with a woman behind a passenger's bill of rights.

There's even more controversy this morning for a major U.S. security contractor in Iraq. Sources say U.S. prosecutors have launched a probe to determine whether Blackwater employees had been involved in illegal weapons sales. A Blackwater source calls the allegations baseless. Now Blackwater was already under fire in connection with a deadly incident in Baghdad last weekend. The Iraqi government accused Blackwater guards of an indiscriminate attack on Iraqi civilians. And CNN's Suzanne Simons has the details.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

SUZANNE SIMONS, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Just days ago, the Iraqi government wanted them gone, accusing Blackwater employees of opening fire on civilians last Sunday. According to an initial incident report by the State Department provided by an industry source to CNN, Blackwater employees were responding to hostile fire so great, it disabled one of their vehicles.

But Iraqi witnesses say they were targeted for no reason. Depending on whose account you believe, as many as 20 people were killed.

Then Friday without further explanation an about-face. The company is resuming normal operations in Iraq without any resolution to the incident that outraged the Iraqi government. And left the State Department all but paralyzed when had it came to movement outside the Green Zone. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice on Friday reiterated the government's need for private security companies. CONDOLEEZZA RICE, SECRETARY OF STATE: It is extremely important to recognize that we're doing important work there, we need protection for our diplomats. And I'm quite certain that with good will we can resolve this.

SIMONS: The White House didn't offer further explanation but focused instead on a joint U.S./Iraqi commission set up to investigate.

DANA PERINO, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: Loss of life was deeply regrettable. That's why Secretary Rice and Prime Minister Maliki have decided to set up this joint commission. We'll see where it takes us.

SIMONS: But it was a different story among lawmakers, who were calling for greater transparency and accountability when it comes to private security contracts that cost taxpayers billions of dollars. That's where the Senate Democratic Policy Committee focused its attention on Friday.

SEN. JAMES WEBB (D), VIRGINIA: It's been kind of amazing to me in the nearly a year now that we've been up here with all the legislation moving so fast in our attempt to bring some accountability in the larger sense to the war and to American strategy at large and all these other things that this particular problem has kind of flown by us.

SIMONS: It's an issue not likely to go away as the government strives to bring more troops home while admitting it couldn't do the job in Iraq without hired help. Suzanne Simons, CNN, Atlanta.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

NGUYEN: OK, here are the fast facts on contractors in Iraq. Right now, there are 20,000 to 30,000 private security contractors in Iraq and more than 100 security companies. Blackwater is one of the biggest. And they even provide security to U.S. Ambassador Ryan Crocker. And if you're paying for it, U.S. military and State Department spend billions on these private security company contracts.

MARCIANO: Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki will address a U.N. general assembly in New York next Wednesday. Al-Maliki has been under fire for the slow pace of political reforms in Iraq. He's expected to discuss that issue in his speech. Al-Maliki is also scheduled to meet with President Bush next week.

Also in New York next week, Iran's President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, known for his anti-American, anti-Israeli rhetoric. He's not only going to visit the U.N., he'll be making a speech at Columbia University. The prospect of that appearance is already prompting controversy.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

CHRISTINE QUINN, NEW YORK CITY COUNCIL: There is no reason why he should be extended the privilege, not the right, but the privilege of an invitation to such a prestigious university where he will use that stage to spew his hate.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MARCIANO: Ahmadinejad also wanted to visit Ground Zero, the site of the World Trade Center attack, but the New York officials nixed that request on safety grounds saying Ground Zero is now a construction site.

And looking ahead, President Ahmadinejad sits down with CNN's Christiane Amanpour for a one-on-one interview Wednesday. Be sure to tune in for that, Wednesday night at 10:00 Eastern on "A.C. 360."

NGUYEN: He looked very thin and there were long pauses but as you'll see Fidel Castro addressed a wide range of current topics during a pre-taped interview on Cuban television. It was his first TV appearance since June and it may have been an attempt to knock down rumors that the ailing Cuban leader is dead. After seeing the video, some members of the Cuban exile community in Florida, well, they expressed their disappointment.

Scooting past Cuba, Florida a little bit, tropical depression that fired up, now on shore. But CNN's Reynolds Wolf track that. Other stuff going on, what's happening?

(WEATHER REPORT)

MARCIANO: A Massachusetts college student is free on $750 bail after her arrest at Boston's Logan Airport. Police accused Star Simpson of staging a bomb hoax. Her lawyer said police overreacted, but as Dan Hausle of CNN affiliate WHDH reports, many of Simpson's fellow students think she made a mistake.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

DAN HAUSLE, WHDH CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): MIT's campus is home to the best and brightest of a generation, but students say classmate Star Simpson's actions at the airport may have dimmed that reputation.

JOEY LEMBERG, MIT FRESHMAN: An MIT student, you would think would probably be smart enough not to do something like that.

HAUSLE: But many on campus say they had already seen Simpson for several days on campus wearing what airport security called a hoax device. Friends say it was actually an elaborate electronic name tag Simpson had created and worn for career day. The incident echoes the recent ad gone bad scare where some other youthful artwork caused another bomb scare.

GEORGE TRPICH, MIT POST-GRAD STUDENT: I think that's art with bad taste. She could have took a more intelligent approach, maybe made not such a big stink.

HAUSLE: Simpson is a sophomore electrical engineering major and secretary of a student group called MITERS, the MIT Electronic Research Society. The group appears to be put electronics to elaborate and sometimes artistic use. Simpson's sweatshirt read "Socket To me, course VI." Socket as in light socket and Course VI, one of the most popular majors, the curriculum includes either electrical engineering or computer science.

Whether it was art or electronic, most students didn't think it was too bright to wear the device to the airport.

ELIZABETH KIM, MIT SOPHOMORE: Even if she considered that art, going into a public area with something that looks like a bomb, that probably wasn't a good idea.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

NGUYEN: That was Dan Hausle of affiliate WHDH. Check this out though. Classes canceled again today at Delaware State. We're going to get a live report with the latest on the campus shootings.

MARCIANO: And there's been another incident involving nooses on a high school campus. Those stories and more straight ahead in the NEWSROOM.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

NGUYEN: Not a crazed gunman, just kids who did stupid things. That's how Delaware State University portrays yesterday's campus shooting. Well our Kathleen Koch is in Dover with the latest. And bring us up to speed on what they're calling kids just doing stupid things.

KATHLEEN KOCH, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Betty it does sound like universal officials are certainly downplaying the incident that occurred early yesterday morning. Latest in the investigation is that they have questioned and released two persons of interest but right now, no arrests.

The shooter is still at large in this case. Now they say that what happened, police officials, was that early Friday morning, a group of eight to 10 students left a campus dining hall between midnight and 1:00 a.m., made their way to a pedestrian mall nearby at which point someone produced a gun, fired four to six shots.

Some of those shots striking two 17-year-old students from the Washington, D.C. area. The "Washington Post" is identifying them as Shalita Middleton and Nathaniel Pugh. Middleton shot twice in the abdomen. She's in serious condition. Pugh shot once in the ankle is in stable condition.

And university officials right now say as far as they know, to what they see and according to their investigation, this looks like a simple case of student on student violence.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

CHIEF JAMES OVERTON, DSU POLICE: I'd like to try to put this incident into perspective. This was not an act of terrorism, this was not a crazed gunman who found his way onto the campus. What our investigation is telling us is that it was a student involved in this incident, a Delaware State University student, that caused this incident and once captured will have to face the consequences of his actions.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KOCH: Now, classes have been canceled here for a second day in a row. The university is open, the 300 acre campus to students only for sporting events. And officials really say right now they don't have any idea when they will resume class for the 3,700 students who attend the university here. Betty?

NGUYEN: Kathleen Koch joining us live today. Thank you, Kathleen. Rob?

MARCIANO: A search is under way this morning for a missing Chicago woman. 28-year-old Nalah Franklin was last heard from Tuesday when she sent a text message to her boyfriend. Police say Franklin had recently filed a report saying she was threatened by an acquaintance, but she did not ask for protection. Police say Franklin's computer and car are missing.

NGUYEN: And from North Carolina, reports of nooses found at a school. Students and faculty at a high school in High Point say they found four nooses hanging from a tree. School officials sent letters to parents saying such behavior will not be tolerated.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SONYA CONWAY, GUILFORD CO. SCHOOLS: We also recognize that the more attention ideas start bubbling up that maybe weren't there to begin with, so we hope that you all work with us and also convey how serious something like this is.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

NGUYEN: For now though, extra security has been called in. And counseling is available for anyone who needs it.

MARCIANO: And in Jena, Louisiana, so-called Jena 6 defendant Mychal Bell remains in jail this morning. Yesterday, a judge refused to release Bell even though his conviction in the beating of this white student was overturned by an appeals court because he was tried by an adult.

Attorneys aren't commenting on what happened in court yesterday because Bell is a juvenile. Thursday, the case drew thousands of protestors to the small Louisiana town. They rallied against what they see as a double standard in the justice system.

We're going to check in with our dot.com desk in just a bit, Veronica de la Cruz has been scanning the e-mails, lots of responses to this controversial issue. Good morning, Veronica. VERONICA DE LA CRUZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, good morning, Rob. Lots of passionate responses this morning to the e-mail question about whether a noose represents a prank or a hate crime.

Let's go ahead and take a look at a few one of them. This first one is from Michael B. He says, "This is not like flying a flag, or wearing the wrong gang colors by mistake. It is a deliberate act of hate and intimidation and should be a hate crime."

From 16-year-old Ramona in Maryland: "Is a gun a prank? Is a knife a prank? Then how is a noose supposed to be a prank? If it was just a prank, who were they expecting to laugh? I don't think anyone is laughing at this so-called prank. This is more so a hate crime because there is not funny at all about a noose, just as there is nothing funny about a gun or a knife."

This next one is from David Holman at Purdue University who says: "I believe the incidence of two minors hanging nooses from the back of their truck was a prank, a prank motivated by racism. To not charge them with a hate crime would be reinforcing their behavior."

Jessica S. in Adrian, Georgia writes: "It is no different than brandishing a weapon in public. Nooses were used to murder thousands of innocent people and that is exactly what they represent - murder."

This final one, Rob, is from David Evans in Washington: "The nooses hanging from that redneck's truck are a constitutionally protected form of free speech. It would be a dangerous precedent to prosecute this emotionally and socially backward buffoon for it. The brass knuckles they found in the truck are another matter. If it is illegal to have them, then the person should be prosecuted for it."

Again, that's David Evans in Washington D.C. If you would like to weigh in with your thoughts, you can send us an e-mail to weekends@CNN.com. Rob?

MARCIANO: David sounds like a lawyer. A lot of well thought out answers there. Thanks, Veronica.

You can see an encore presentation of CNN's special investigative report, "Judgment in Jena." That's tonight at 7:00 p.m. Eastern only on CNN.

NGUYEN: All right, ladies, listen up, George Clooney has been hurt in a motorcycle wreck. But not to worry because coming up, we're going to let you know exactly how he's doing.

MARCIANO: And ever since O.J. Simpson has been back in the news, we've been seeing a lot of this woman. Meet O.J. Simpson's girlfriend. That's just ahead.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

NGUYEN: And welcome to the celebrity corner. Yes, I get put in the corner every now and then. And this time because one of Hollywood's biggest box office draws is out of action today. Yes, George Clooney is nursing a broken rib, scrapes and bruises after a motorcycle spill. He and companion girlfriend Sarah Larson collided with a car outside New York City. Now Clooney's spokesman said the actor is in a whole lot of pain, but he insists the accident won't disrupt filming on Clooney's new movie with Brad Pitt.

And just what trouble did pop starlet, tartlet, whatever you want to call her -- doesn't need. Yes, that's more trouble. Los Angeles Police have charged Britney Spears with hit and run and driving without a license. Video shows Spears Mercedes convertible scraping a Mercedes wagon during a blonde parking moment. That was unfair, whoever wrote that. Spears took time though to eyeball the damage but apparently left without reporting the accident. She's scheduled for arraignment October 10th. If convicted, she could get a year in jail, Rob. What would we do?

MARCIANO: You know, I probably would have to leave the country. And for the record, she, for whatever reason, is not blonde there.

NGUYEN: This is very true.

MARCIANO: But I agree with the moment.

This borders on the celebrity corner, but we'll go with that. The sixth and final suspect in the O.J. Simpson robbery case is out on bail this morning. And Simpson himself is out of the public view. Not quite the case for his long-time girlfriend Christie Prody. CNN's John Zarrella now has the juice's squeeze.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

JOHN ZARRELLA, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The woman in the sunglasses and red baseball cap tried keeping a low profile as she waited for the luggage at Fort Lauderdale Airport.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: How`s he holding up?

CHRISTIE PRODY, O.J. GIRLFRIEND: Very well.

ZARRELLA: That`s not easy, when for more than a dozen years you have been the woman nearly always seen with O.J. Simpson. That didn`t change this week. Simpson`s girlfriend, Christie Prody, stood by her man in court in Las Vegas and at his side on the trip back home to Miami.

STEVE DUNLEAVY, NY POST COLUMNIST: She was just resting. (INAUDIBLE) but that`s about it. So it was very uneventful.

ZARRELLA: But their lives together have been anything but uneventful. From Minnesota, Prody met Simpson in Los Angeles, during his first trial. Now as he faces another courtroom fight, it's Prody defending him.

PRODY: O.J. - I've known him for 12 years, sweetheart. He does not need to burglarize or rob or kidnap anybody. He's just getting his stuff back that was stolen from him from a friend of 20 years. ZARRELLA: Prody is more that 20 years his junior. By 1999, they were both living here in Miami. That year, a 911 call placed by Simpson from Prody`s apartment.

(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)

911 DISPATCH: Anybody there need rescue?

O.J. SIMPSON: They been doing drugs for two days with (name deleted) who just got arrested on cocaine and I`m trying to get her to leave her house and go into rehab right now.

(END AUDIO CLIP)

ZARRELLA: Police said the woman was Prody. From behind her door, Prody says she wasn`t even there.

PRODY: This thing has been a total misunderstanding. This had nothing to do with O.J. and I. No problems between the two of us. This was a friend of ours.

SIMPSON: It had nothing to do with me, nothing to do with my girlfriend and me. Don`t go there.

ZARRELLA: We tried to reach people who know Simpson and Prody, only one, Prody`s uncle, would talk with us. On the phone he says: "She`s a good kid, a nice person, she keeps a low profile, she doesn`t seek the limelight."

But the limelight finds her. In 2000, Prody is caught using Simpson`s handicapped parking detail and she is arrested on a bench warrant for driving with an expired license.

They had an on again/off again relationship. And during one of the off periods, Prody gives an interview to the National Enquirer about cocaine use and abortion, saying: "For years I could never admit that the man I loved could have killed his ex-wife in cold blood." She adds: "But I no longer believe in his innocence."

But she always ends up back with Simpson. And her story now, Simpson couldn't hurt anybody.

PRODY: I still believe that. That's why I'm here. Do you think this is fun for me?

ZARRELLA: Between 2000 and 2006, Miami-Dade Police have responded to 11 incidents involving Prody from a hotel altercation with Simpson to allegations she stole Percocet and Xanax from a neighbor. Charges were never pressed.

And now while Simpson remained secludes, it`s Christie Prody forced in to the spotlight to defend her man, whether she likes it or not. John Zarrella, CNN, Miami.

(END VIDEOTAPE) ZARRELLA: New information just into CNN on this morning's search for a missing Chicago woman. WLS-TV is reporting that police have found the car of 28-year-old Nalah Franklin in Hammond, Indiana. Franklin was last heard from Tuesday when she sent a text message to her boyfriend.

Police are now searching a lagoon near where Franklin's car was found. Police say Franklin had recently filed a report claiming she was being threatened by an acquaintance, but she did not ask for protection. We're working this story and we'll bring you the latest information as soon as we get it.

NGUYEN: Well officials with Mattel toys are apologizing yet again. Find out why some are so upset with the company for this apology.

MARCIANO: And airline passengers say it's time someone respected their rights. We'll find out more about the passenger bill of rights just ahead.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

NGUYEN: Time now for an update on our top stories.

A major U.S. security contractor is downplaying reports of a federal investigation into allegations its employees have been buying and selling weapons in Iraq. A source at Blackwater security says only two workers were involved and says those workers were acting without the knowledge of the company.

And a tropical depression brings rain to the Gulf Coast, but despite earlier concerns, the depression did not develop into a more dangerous tropical storm.

MARCIANO: Twenty million toys recalled. Now Mattel is apologizing to China -- quite forcefully and quite publicly. And one U.S. congressman says hey, it should be the other way around.

Here's CNN's Christine Romans.

(BEGIN VIDEO TAPE)

CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Mattel's CEO in Washington this week apologizing to Congress and the American people for a summer of toy recalls.

ROBERT ECKERT, MATTEL CEO: Our standards were ignored and our rules were broken.

ROMANS: Apparently not by the Chinese. A senior Mattel executive was in Beijing apologizing to China.

THOMAS DEBROWSKI, MATTEL EXECUTIVE VICE PRESIDENT: Mattel takes full responsibility for those recalls and apologizes personally to you, the Chinese people and all of our customers who received the toys that were manufactured. ROMANS: In a choreographed and carefully worded apology, Mattel's vice president of worldwide operations, Thomas Debrowski, told China's product safety chief, Li Chiangjiang...

DEBROWSKI: The vast majority of those products that were recalled were the result of a design flaw in Mattel's design, not through a manufacturing flaw in China-run factories.

ROMANS: The very public apology highlights just how critical China is for Mattel. Sixty-five percent of Mattel's toys are made there. Mattel, reeling from toy safety scandals, apologizing for damaging China's reputation. And Mattel also said it recalled more toys than necessary, something a stern looking Li called unacceptable.

To many, the whole event seem and effort to appease Beijing.

REP. MICHAEL BURGESS (R), TEXAS: They're doing what they have to do to protect their ability to do business in that country. Fine. I'd really like to see them expend some effort on doing business in this country.

ROMANS: Mattel has apologized to American consumers in full page ads and before Congress.

ECKERT: We were let down and we let you down.

ROMANS: Now Mattel doing its best not to let China down.

Christine Romans, CNN, New York.

(END VIDEO TAPE)

MARCIANO: On to Motor City. They are close to a deal in Detroit. There's word this morning that General Motors and the United Autoworkers Union are close to reaching an historic agreement. At issue is health care. And if a deal is made, it would transfer the huge burden of retiree health care to a trust fund managed by the union. The two sides are reportedly meeting this weekend.

NGUYEN: Pardon me. Pardon me. Coming through, kiddo. You know, business travelers are applauding, though, Southwest Airlines. You've heard all of that at the airport, right?

Because families will no longer board first. Kids, get in line just like everybody else.

Rob is smiling over here.

Southwest may be trying to free up more seats for business fliers. They tend to buy more last minute, higher-priced tickets. Now, the budget carrier is all coach with no reserved seats, meaning first come, first served. Now first really means first, no matter what your age.

And speaking of travel, almost as scary as snakes on a plane, passengers stuck on a plane. You probably heard some of the horror stories -- hour after hour with no food, no water, toilets overflowing, tempers flaring.

Well, Kate Hanni knows firsthand what it's like to be stuck on a plane. She was stranded with her family for nine hours on a flight in December and now she is striking back.

But she did do this first, though. She quit her job and founded a coalition for the airline passengers bill of rights.

And she joins us this morning from Philadelphia to tell us what she hopes to do.

Now, for us to truly understand what you've been through and why you decided to take on the airline industry, give us just a little glimpse into what it was like on that plane that didn't take off for nine hours.

KATE HANNI, AIRLINE PASSENGERS' BILL OF RIGHTS: Well, the level of intensity on a plane when you've been in it -- actually for 13 hours, because we flew for four hours and then had nine-and-a-half hours in addition to that on the tarmac, with toilets overflowing, no food but also witnessing ambulances, HAZMAT and police cars going to planes to arrest people on the adjacent aircraft that were stranded, as well.

The tension that built up in the back of the plane where we were sitting was so extreme and the things we could hear that the pilot couldn't hear and the flight attendants couldn't hear that were going on were very scary -- scary for my children, scary for us.

And it was one of those gentlemen that was about to have tarmac rage that caused the pilot to finally declare an entire on board emergency and take the plane in without permission.

NGUYEN: My goodness.

HANNI: No one should go through that.

NGUYEN: Well, and you're hoping that others don't.

So describe to me the main points in this passenger's bill of rights, which you've helped craft.

HANNI: Well, you know, the primary points are safety issues. A lot -- there's been a lot of misrepresentation about customer service. This really isn't about customer service. This is about keeping diabetics healthy, keeping people in the same level of health when they exit an aircraft as they are when they enter an aircraft -- hopefully in a pretty good state of well-being.

We want to be able to have people have the chance to get off a plane at some point and right now the airlines can hold you indefinitely.

NGUYEN: I mean you're saying three hours. That's the time that you're allotting in this passenger's bill of rights. HANNI: Well, we would love to have three hours. But what the House approved this last week is actually a deplanement strategy that's going to allow the airlines to present a plan and for the DOT to approve those plans. So it may not end up being three hours across- the-board. But there was a compromise involved on our part in order to get the language into the bill, because it wasn't in the bill at all. And we're very happy about it, by the way, because there's also a consumer advisory committee that will have to be made up of airline consumer advocates. Hopefully I'm one of them.

NGUYEN: Well, who decides when you can leave?

Because I understand at some point, especially in this bill, it allows the pilots to make that determination. And critics are really looking at that with a sharp eye, because they're saying it allows loopholes for the airline industry, because if you're putting it in the pilots' hands, the airline can come back and say, you know, that determination may not have been correct and it's not our fault.

HANNI: Absolute -- that's an absolute myth. If there is a time frame that -- the way this bill is written, on the House side -- and it's been voted on the floor and accepted -- so the way it's written, if they -- if the airline presents a plan and says we will get you off in three hours and that plan is violated for any reason, there will be civil penalties involved.

So it's wrapped up. There's not much wiggle room for them anymore, assuming that this is adopted by the Senate, which we now have to go fight and have people call their senators immediately. They need to come to our Web site, fliersrights.com and sign our petition. And they need to call their senators and say please adopt what the House has.

NGUYEN: Well, but for them to did that, they need to understand exactly how it's going to work.

And when you talk about penalties, what exactly are you spelling out here?

HANNI: Well, the Department of Transportation is the one that has to assign what civil penalties are going to be involved. So far, they haven't mandated what the civil penalties would be. And I'm sure it would be based on how long the stranding was.

So...

NGUYEN: So there's a lot still to be ironed out in this passengers bill of rights?

HANNI: There's some. But essential needs on the tarmac is in there. So you will be fed, watered, temperature controlled, hygienic toilets, which we don't have right now. Chronically delayed and stranded flights and canceled flights will have to be reported accurately to the people. We had a -- we have a lot of wins, assuming that all of this comes through the conference and becomes law and the president doesn't veto it -- this is an enormous step forward for passengers rights.

And our group is not going anywhere. We're going to continue to monitor them and keep putting out report cards. And if they don't come through and our government doesn't come through, believe me, we're going to let everyone know about it.

NGUYEN: Well, I know another group that's keeping a close eye on this is the airline industry.

What kind of reaction have you gotten from that aspect?

HANNI: Well, they're starting to raise the heat. And what I'm finding very interesting is that there have been a couple of articles that have come out almost dismissing our coalition as if it's not a viable coalition, which is fascinating, because absent our coalition, there would not be this legislation. And we've got all of the consumer groups -- U.S. PIRG, Consumer Union, Consumer Federation of America -- that represent 52 million people that have signed letters and sent them to every congressman and senator saying they agree with us and want this law to be passed in as strong a language as possible. And, you know, so the airlines are starting to come out -- they threatened to come out as soon as there was deplanement language included. Rangel -- when the House passed the bill the other day and I was watching on C-SPAN -- said he may have put his job at risk by forwarding this out of Ways and Means. And I thought that was fascinating.

NGUYEN: Well, you know what's going to be fascinating is to see how this bill finally is hashed out and what, in fact, are the details of it and the ramifications should it not be adhered to.

Kate Hanni with the airline passengers will -- bill of rights, I should say.

We appreciate your time today.

Thanks.

HANNI: Thank you so much for having me.

NGUYEN: Sure.

MARCIANO: Boy, that's one of those things, you know, if you're stuck in a plane for that long, you can just see the passion in her eyes what it -- what it must have felt like.

All right, coming up, we're going to talk about artifacts of war.

NGUYEN: Find out where memories of America's most recent battles are being gathered, right here in the CNN NEWSROOM.

(BEGIN VIDEO TAPE)

GERRI WILLIS, PERSONAL FINANCE EDITOR (voice-over): Go green in your home office and save big bucks at the same time. Refill your ink cartridges instead of throwing them out. Over 350 million cartridges end up in landfills every year and refilling your old cartridge won't just help the environment, it's half the cost of a new one.

Stores like Cartridge World will refill virtually any make or model of cartridge or refill, or you can refill your own using kits from the Web.

Stick to rechargeable batteries, as well. The initial price may seem steep, but think of how many packs of disposables you will buy and throw out over the life of one rechargeable battery.

When it comes to purchasing office equipment, consider checking into a company's carbon footprint before purchasing their products. Go to climatecounts.org to view a ranking of companies in order of their greenhouse gas emissions and plans for change.

That's this week's Green House.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MARCIANO: Got you.

Instant history -- items from the war on terror already on display in Washington.

CNN's Pentagon correspondent, Barbara Starr, has that story.

(BEGIN VIDEO TAPE)

BARBARA STARR, PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Here at the Marine Corps Museum outside Washington, D.C., there's more than just musty artifacts of history. Items fresh off the battlefields of Iraq and Afghanistan are being readied for permanent display. This Al Qaeda banner was captured in Fallujah. It was seen in torture videos like this one used to intimidate Iraqis.

OWEN CONNER, MARINE CORPS MUSEUM CURATOR: The banner says it's the Islamic Secret Army Platoon, Black Banner Battalion. And it says in Arabic: "to kill them so they won't be trouble."

STARR: These days, history walks right in the door.

CONNER: It's been amazing to me how many artifacts we have where the guys seem to be getting right off the plane and coming straight to the museum.

STARR: The museum directors want these things to sell tell the story of the war, including the growing role of women in combat.

BENJAMIN KRISTY, MARINE CORPS MUSEUM CURATOR: The artifact we have here is a flight suit -- a standard summer weight flight suit. It was donated by Captain Jessica Moore. She's one of a growing number of Marine Corps female helicopter gunship pilots.

STARR: There are these unmanned aerial vehicles, which show how entire units of Marines can be protected overhead from enemy fire.

CWO MICHAEL FAY, MARINE CORPS COMBAT ARTIST: This is the bag that I take my art supplies with. And it's -- actually, it's a combat trauma bag.

STARR: There is even official Marine Corps combat art. Chief Warrant Officer Michael Fay carried his paint and pencils into combat. This painting tells of his first patrol in Afghanistan.

FAY: The painting was called "All Eyes Down." And one of the things that you were very conscious of as you were patrolling was not only this beautiful golden light -- you know, sunset, purple mountains in the distance -- but that the ground behind you -- underneath you was, you know, was far from benign.

STARR (on camera): Are the Iraqi security forces holding?

(voice-over): That sign behind me, just like this one now on display, is used to warn Iraqis of danger.

FAY: What you see is the real dirt from Iraq where the blast caved the sign in.

STARR: The dirt, the reality of war, here and now, not waiting for history.

Barbara Starr, CNN, the Pentagon.

(END VIDEO TAPE)

MARCIANO: So Betty and I were just wondering, just how common is corn in the American diet?

NGUYEN: Well, because, you know, Rob, it seems like it's in almost everything -- and it's not always good for us.

Dr. Sanjay Gupta has those details. I know you've been asking and he's got it, in THE NEWSROOM.

But first, check it out -- our news quiz for you.

What percentage of calories in the average American's diet comes from soft drinks?

That answer is right after this.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MARCIANO: Before we went to break, we asked our news quiz -- what percentage of calories in the average American diet comes from soft drinks?

What do you think?

NGUYEN: Well...

MARCIANO: Ten percent.

NGUYEN: I can see the answer. That's no fair. I wouldn't have guessed that. I probably would have guessed higher, actually. MARCIANO: I assume that's from, you know, non-diet drinks.

NGUYEN: Yes. Not the light, as they call it in Europe.

All right, if the old saying, you are what you eat were true, we'd all be ears of corn that is because Americans eat a whole lot of it and it's not always good, at least for your body.

Chief medical correspondent, Dr. Sanjay Gupta, has a special this weekend called "Fed Up: America's Killer Diet," and here's a preview.

(BEGIN VIDEO TAPE)

DR. SANJAY GUPTA, CNN SENIOR MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Todd Dawson is a plant biologist who has looked at just how widespread corn is in the American diet. Like these trees, humans are carbon- based life forms. But not all carbon is the same. By testing a strand of hair for a type of carbon molecule unique to corn, Dawson can see just how much corn is in our diet -- and in our bodies.

TODD DAWSON, PLANT BIOLOGIST: We are what we eat with respect to carbon for sure. It's the carbohydrates and proteins that get built into our tissues -- in our hair, our muscle, our fingernail.

GUPTA: It turns out Americans eat a jaw dropping amount of corn -- usually high fructose corn syrup found in soda, salad dressings, ketchups and snack foods. Dawson has found that 65 to 70 percent of the carbon in America's diet comes from corn.

We asked Dawson to test my hair. The result -- 69 percent.

DAWSON: We're like corn chips walking, because we really have a very, very significant fraction of corn in our diet. And we actually can't even help it, because it's an additive to so many of the foods that we find on the market shelves.

I think where the danger comes in with corn is that much of the corn that's grown now in North America is going into making high fructose corn syrup. So it's not that the corn, per se, is bad, but it's the sweetener that is made from that corn that gets into many of the foods that we eat that Americans are probably consuming much too much of. And we now see that, you know, showing up as obesity and heart disease and the potential for Type 2 Diabetes.

GUPTA: Dawson's research shows there's much more than a kernel of truth to the old phrase, "you are what you eat."

Dr. Sanjay Gupta, CNN reporting.

(END VIDEO TAPE)

NGUYEN: And be sure to catch Dr. Gupta's report in its entire. The CNN situation in Iraq, "Fed Up: America's Killer Diet." That is tonight and Sunday at 8:00 Eastern.

MARCIANO: The CNN NEWSROOM continues at the top of the hour. Fredricka Whitfield is your host -- hi, Fredericka.

FREDRICKA WHITFIELD, CNN ANCHOR: How are you guys doing?

NGUYEN: We're doing all right.

WHITFIELD: Did you get a good morning?

MARCIANO: A great morning?

NGUYEN: So far, so good.

WHITFIELD: OK. Well, hopefully we can keep the momentum going throughout the day.

NGUYEN: Keep it rolling.

WHITFIELD: We've got a lot coming up in the noon hour.

You know all about Blackwater. These are the U.S. contractors that are doing work in Iraq. A few problems this week, from being banned to continuing their work in Iraq for a couple of days, and then now apparently back in business.

Well, you've also heard now new accusations about whether they' are, indeed, smuggling weapons into Iraq. We'll explore that topic further.

And somebody else who explores the topics, from new legislation to controversial court cases, our senior legal analyst, Jeffrey Toobin. Well, somehow he's found time to write a book about these folks -- the nine U.S. Supreme Court justices. "The Nine" is the title of the book. And he's going to join us to talk a little bit more about the secret world of the U.S. Supreme Court.

It is fascinating stuff.

NGUYEN: Yes, it is.

MARCIANO: Gosh.

WHITFIELD: Yes. I don't know how the man has the time to be on our air...

(CROSSTALK)

WHITFIELD: I know. And then write a book. And it's a comprehensive...

(CROSSTALK)

NGUYEN: We're a bunch of under achievers, I tell you.

WHITFIELD: Yes.

MARCIANO: That will be fascinating. WHITFIELD: We are low on the totem pole.

(LAUGHTER)

WHITFIELD: I'm feeling really small now.

MARCIANO: No.

MARCIANO: Good to see you, Fred.

We'll see you at noon.

WHITFIELD: All right.

NGUYEN: Thank you.

WHITFIELD: Take care.

MARCIANO: Well, don't tase me bro, remember that?

NGUYEN: Don't tase me, bro.

MARCIANO: Time after time after time this person was tasered.

(VIDEO CLIP OF POLICE OFFICER TASERING WOMAN)

NGUYEN: Well, this person had a completely different episode. Police tape shows -- that was a woman completely stunned by an officer. Days later, she says her suffering has not ended.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE) WILLIS (voice-over): The season for falling leaves is upon us.

Rather than bag them and trash them, why not try composting?

You can compost everything from leaves to pine needle to kitchen waste. Begin your compost pile in a sunny spot with three or four inches of straw or twigs. Add alternating layers of high carbon materials like leaves and plant debris, and high nitrogen materials like grass clippings and kitchen waste. Mix your pile well every two weeks with a pitchfork or shovel, and be sure not to let it dry out.

By next year, you should have a rich, dark hummus that can be used as fertilizer. (on camera): I'm Gerri Willis and that's your Tip of the Day.

For more ideas, strategies, and tips to save you money and protect your house, watch "OPEN HOUSE" every Saturday at 9:30 a.m. Eastern, right here on CNN. (END VIDEO TAPE)

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(VIDEO CLIP OF POLICE OFFICER TASERING WOMAN)

NGUYEN: You know it is agon -- just truly agonizing to watch. MARCIANO: It's a woman tasered by police again and again and again.

(VIDEO CLIP OF POLICE OFFICER TASERING WOMAN)

MARCIANO: The Warren, Ohio officer is on paid leave today while his superiors investigate this. According to his own police report, he tasered the woman seven times -- twice after she was handcuffed.

NGUYEN: Oh, my. Well, once handcuffed and in the police cruiser there, the woman did try to kick out the window. She was taken out of the car. The police report says she fell and hit her head on the pavement. And Heidi Gill -- that's the woman's name -- she says she still suffers from the injury, as well as blurred vision. Police picked up Gill, as Rob mentioned, after a bar fight. But she is due to be in court next month and I am sure she is ready to tell her side of this story, do you think?

MARCIANO: Well, no. It could have been worse.

NGUYEN: Really?

MARCIANO: They could have capped her.

NGUYEN: Well, Rob!

MARCIANO: You know, think about it. Back in the day before we had tasers, you know what they'd do, they could, you know, club her or hit her.

NGUYEN: But seven times and she was handcuffed.

MARCIANO: No. No, I'm not defending it. I'm just, you know, playing the devil's advocate.

NGUYEN: Oh, is that what it was.

MARCIANO: That looked pretty nasty going on.

NGUYEN: It could be worse, I guess.

MARCIANO: And it certainly looked painful.

NGUYEN: Oh, goodness. Well, she is recovering and we'll hear more on that case, I'm sure.

But the CNN NEWSROOM does continue with Fredricka Whitfield.

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