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Airport Death: New Details on Investigation; New Use for Drug: May Help Alcoholics; Marion Jones Relay Teammates Asked to Give up Medals

Aired October 10, 2007 - 07:59   ET


JOHN ROBERTS, CNN ANCHOR: And welcome back on this Wednesday, October the 10th.
Thanks for being with us.

I'm John Roberts.

KIRAN CHETRY, CNN ANCHOR: That's right. And I'm Kiran Chetry.

You know, thanks to picture phones and video cameras and the Internet, everyone can be a police officer these days.

ROBERTS: This is a really interesting grassroots organization. Wait until you hear from the woman.

CHETRY: We look forward to it.

But meanwhile, we start with a CNN exclusive. New details about the day that Carol Ann Gotbaum decide in mysterious circumstances at the Phoenix Sky Harbor Airport.

For the first time, we're hearing from her husband, Noah Gotbaum. He says that if the airline or police had treated his wife with some dignity, she might still be alive today. Gotbaum was arrested and handcuffed when she went into a rage after missing a flight that was supposed to take her to alcohol rehab. She ended up dying in a police holding cell.

AMERICAN MORNING'S Alina Cho has been following this story closely for us, and she has some exclusive new details about exactly what went on at the airport before Carol Gotbaum died.

Good morning, Alina.

ALINA CHO, CNN CORRESPONDENT: That's right. Good morning, Kiran.

But we want to begin with the audiotape. And we should be clear that we obtained this audiotape with Noah Gotbaum's blessing. It is the first time you will hear from the husband of Carol Ann Gotbaum in his own words. In a passionate eulogy that was delivered on Sunday in New York, Gotbaum talked about how he thought his wife's death could have been prevented.

(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP) NOAH GOTBAUM, CAROL ANN GOTBAUM'S HUSBAND: If the airline or the police authority had treated Carol with some modicum of sensitivity and grace, or one single person at that airport had put an arm around her shoulder, sat her down, and given her some protection, she might still be with us today.


CHO: Noah Gotbaum also talked about his wife's sickness.


GOTBAUM: My beautiful girl, so ashamed to seek help. And many of us, myself included, perpetuated that, because we simply didn't understand the disease. We said it can't be. It must be something else causing this.

These are diseases that have to be understood and treated. Not swept under the rug, demonized and hushed up.


CHO: Also some new details about just what happened on the day she died. CNN has learned that Gotbaum arrived at Phoenix Sky Harbor Airport completely sober. We know that, because according to our source, she sent a series of e-mails, made several phone calls and was "entirely lucid".

Now, we're told that Gotbaum then went to a sports bar at the airport. By all accounts, she had a bite to eat and likely a few drinks. Our sources tell us that when the toxicology comes out in the next several weeks it will show that there was indeed alcohol in Gotbaum's system.

Now, CNN has also learned that Gotbaum flew into a rage not when she missed her initial connection, as was widely reported, but when she couldn't get on to the next flight. When a stranger kindly offered to give up his seat, Gotbaum was told she couldn't do that because it was a security breach. And that explains something that a lot of people were wondering about, why she started yelling and screaming, "I'm not a terrorist!"

Now, one other interesting detail to note, the medical examiner, the very same woman who performed the autopsy on Gotbaum, Dr. Ann Bucholtz, went back to the holding cell where she died and recreated the scene. The doctor was handcuffed and shackled, even secured to a bench, put herself into the same position. And she was able to do this because she was about the same size as Gotbaum.

Both were 5'7 and there was only about a five-pound difference in their weight. And Kiran, we're told that there were photographs taken of that recreation, but so far, those pictures have not been released to the public.

CHETRY: All right.

Alina Cho, thank you.


CHETRY: Well, it's time now to check in with our AMERICAN MORNING team of correspondents for other stories new this morning.

Both the Dow and the S&P breaking records. And Ali Velshi is at our Business Update Desk with details for us this morning.

Hi, Ali.


We've been talking about these records a lot, but it's been a while since we've had another one. The Dow yesterday closing 120 points higher to get to another record. That's after some good earnings came in and the Federal Reserve released the minutes of its previous meeting, the September 18th meeting where it cut interest rates.

That helped the markets. The S&P also closing at an all-time record high.

I wanted to point out that if you do keep your investments diversified into something like the S&P 500, you would have doubled your money now in five years. Since October of 2002, it is now up 100 percent.

Take a look at how the markets have done just this year alone. So for all of the talk about the sky is falling, if you've kept your investments in place, look what you've done.

The Dow is up 14 percent. The S&P 500, 10.5 percent. And the Nasdaq up 15 percent. So it's a good lesson to investors that, through all of the ups and downs of the markets, if you follow a particular strategy that is suited to you, you could actually do fairly well.

We're in earnings season right now, so we're expecting more of these report cards, these quarterly report cards from America's businesses to see where their strong points and their weaknesses are, and we'll continue to follow that. We're also a few hours away from the UAW-Chrysler negotiation deadline, Kiran, so we'll keep you posted on that as well.

CHETRY: That's right. We'll be watching that closely. Ali, thanks a lot.


ROBERTS: It's a pill that's used by migraine suffers and now it looks like it might help alcoholics as well.

Our chief medical correspondent, Dr. Sanjay Gupta, in Atlanta this morning and joins us.

What are we talking about, Sanjay?

DR. SANJAY GUPTA, CNN CHIEF MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: We're talking about a medication known as Topamax. This is a medication a lot of people might be familiar with, often used to treat migraines, often used to treat epilepsy as well. Researchers are actually looking at it as a possible treatment for alcoholism. It can be very difficult to treat.

What they found after 14 weeks of taking this medication, it seemed to reduce the number of heavy drinking days, and also the number of drinks per day and the number of sort of days of continuous abstinence from alcohol as well. So some potential good news out there.

In case you're curious, the medication actually works by blocking dopamine. Think of dopamine as sort of the feel good neurotransmitter in the brain. If you can block that, people don't get as good a sensation from drinking alcohol as they previously did, which might lead to less drinking.

You should know as well that this particular study was actually funded by the makers of Topamax, although we did talk to some doctors who were not involved with the study at all, and they say this might be beneficial for some people, not as beneficial for others. And it's sometimes difficult to figure out exactly who's going to get benefit. It costs about $350 a month as well -- John.

ROBERTS: So we always think about side-effects with these medications. Almost every medication has got its side-effects. What about Topamax?

GUPTA: Yes, it does, and some of them are pretty significant side-effects as well. Think about difficulties with concentration. People have actually talked about actually being confused on the medication as well.

Remember, this is a population of people who are coming off alcohol as well, so there's a couple of confounding factors. They might get tingling and itching, they might bet drowsiness and dizziness. And also weight loss. And pay attention to that last one, because a lot of the other medications out there to potentially treat alcoholism actually cause weight gain, so they sort of cite this as a possible benefit because it's that weight gain that makes a lot of people stop the medication. If you're getting weight loss instead, that might actually be a benefit -- John.

ROBERTS: So what other medications are out there? I guess one that most people are familiar with is the one that makes you violently ill when you drink alcohol.

GUPTA: It's an awful medication. You're absolutely right. It's called Antabuse, appropriately named, and it does exactly that.

What it does, it sort of creates this reflex in your body so every time you drink alcohol you just want to puke. You want to throw up, and you get really sick. Naltrexone sort of blocks a lot of those receptors in the brain as well, some of those feel good receptors. That's what some of the other medications are based on.

Obviously, counseling, things like AA, obviously, a huge part of therapy as well. The latest studies have shown actually combining AA with some of these other medications seem to be the most beneficial.

ROBERTS: All right. Frank talk for us this morning from Dr. Sanjay Gupta.

Sanjay, thanks -- Kiran.

GUPTA: Thank you.

CHETRY: I think that's actually a medical term.


CHETRY: Yes, apparently.

ROBERTS: I'm not sure about that, but it certainly described the feeling that you get.

CHETRY: Yes. Maybe TMI this morning.

I'm just teasing you, Sanjay.

Well, traffic can get pretty ridiculous in Los Angeles. Well, now people say that this new traffic plan is taking ridiculous to new heights.

There's a proposal, as part of an expansion of the 405 Freeway, to include a commuter bridge, right? So people can walk over it. No, no, not people, animals.

The price tag, nearly $500,000. This is a picture from the "L.A. Times". It shows the bridge that would be expanded, and it would include a five-foot animal lane, but critics are saying, how, really, would animals know to use it?

Environmentalists do support the plan, but one critic says, what are they going to do, have Dr. Dolittle standing there directing the animals?


CHETRY (voice over): Coming up on AMERICAN MORNING, the Marion Jones trickle-down effect.

MARION JONES, OLYMPIC WINNER: I have betrayed your trust. I have let my country down and I have let myself down.

CHETRY: She brought disgrace to herself and now she is dragging her former Olympic teammates with her. We'll talk to one of Jones' teammates who is being asked now to give back her medal. And does she feel duped by Jones' dumping?

Find out ahead on AMERICAN MORNING.



CHETRY: Well, Marion Jones gave back her medals after being embroiled in a steroid scandal and admitting to using them. Now her relay teammates are being asked to do the same thing.

Jones has returned all five of her metal medals from the 2000 Sydney games after admitting she did use steroids. Two medals were for relay winds, a gold and a bronze.

Passion Richardson ran with Jones on the 4x100 relay team that won that bronze medal. It's a medal that Passion could lose not because of something she did, but because of something her teammate join.

Passion joins us now from Lexington, Kentucky.

Thanks for being with us today.


CHETRY: So we are getting the news from the U.S. Olympic Committee. They released a statement saying that, "We believe the relay team members should voluntarily relinquish the medals. Because of a very bad decision made by one athlete, these medals were won unfairly."

Do you think they should be asking you, who did not cheat, to give up your medal, Passion?

RICHARDSON: Of course not. You know, I did things the right way, and that was something that I worked for, for years.

For me, that was the ultimate dream, was to make it to the Olympic games. And that dream, you know, finally it came -- it became a reality for me. And so for me to have to relinquish something that was at no fault of my own because of someone else's poor choices and decisions, no, I don't think I should voluntarily give up my medal.

CHETRY: Now, the chief executive of the committee says that they can't force anyone to do this, that it would be voluntary.

So will you be giving your medals back?

RICHARDSON: Voluntarily? I don't think so.

I mean, if they ask for it, then I would have to make a decision. You know, should they call and ask for us to return our medals. But I don't think that anyone who rightfully won their medal is going to voluntarily relinquish it after working so hard to achieve that.

CHETRY: Right.

You know, we heard the really sad and emotional words from Marion Jones when she announced that she had, indeed, taken performance- enhancing drugs. Let's listen to her for a second.


JONES: And so it is with a great amount of shame that I stand before you and tell you that I have betrayed your trust.


CHETRY: Do you feel betrayed by your teammate?

RICHARDSON: Oh, I feel extremely betrayed, because now, because of a decision that she made, you know, the rest of us have to bear the shame of what she did, you know? Now, my character comes into question, and rightfully so. I understand, you know, the world wanting to believe that because she was dirty, then there's a great possibility that the rest of us was dirty as well. So, I mean, I understand, you know, the public's view, but, of course, I mean, I feel extremely betrayed.

CHETRY: You know, did you have any suspicions at the time that she was taking performance-enhancing drugs? How close are you as teammates in your everyday lives and routines? Would you be able to expect something like that?

RICHARDSON: You know, we don't train together. So my thing is, you know, I would like to give each one of my teammates the benefit of the doubt and think that we are all competing fairly.

If, you know, she says she was competing fairly, so you give them the benefit of the doubt that they are competing fairly. So, you know, unfortunately the events are what they are.

CHETRY: Right.

RICHARDSON: And, you know, it doesn't matter what I think she was doing. Whatever I think is not going to change the outcome of the situation.

CHETRY: You know, with all the high profile cases like this and the whole BALCO scandal, how serious of a problem do you think steroid use is in track and field?

RICHARDSON: You know, it's very uncertain to say. Again, like I said, you know, you want to give each athlete the benefit of the doubt that they're doing it, that they're performing clean, and they're competing fairly. But right now, with all of the events that's taking place, you know, in track and field right now, all of the cases, you know, it's not looking well. It's not looking well for the sport of track and field.

CHETRY: Well, you won it fair and square, Passion Richardson. It's to be determined whether or not they try to make you give your medals back for 2000.

But thanks for joining us and sharing your story with us today.

RICHARDSON: Thank you very much.



CHETRY: And welcome back to AMERICAN MORNING.

CNN has spent the past several months looking at the threats to the environment for a very special, a wonderful documentary, really, called "Planet in Peril".

Well, this morning, Jeff Corwin takes us to Madagascar with a look at what's being done there to avoid an extinction crisis.


JEFF CORWIN, "PLANET IN PERIL": This is a place where 90 percent of the wildlife can be found nowhere else on Earth.

(on camera): There he goes.

(voice over): This is a place where only 10 percent of the natural habitat remains. This is Madagascar.

It is one of the world's largest islands, isolated from mainland Africa for more than 160 million years. The small pockets of the forest explode with life. But you have to look closely.

(on camera): If you let your eyes just sort of drift down the trunk of this tree, you will see spots of liken and moss and little bumps along the bark. What's so amazing is that there is a lizard here. It's hard to see. The camouflage is that good.

It is a Uroplatus Gecko. It just moved. Isn't that amazing?

It also perfectly illustrates how many of the animals here survive. They survive by being specialists. This creature is so specific to this tree, to this habitat, it cannot survive anywhere else.


CORWIN (voice over): And that is why Conservation International's Russ Mittermeier is here.

MITTERMEIER: This is (INAUDIBLE), yes? This is an area that we really want to protect.

CORWIN: His group is working to protect what are called biodiversity hotspots, regions that are both unique and threatened.

MITTERMEIER: If you're going to try to divert an extinction crisis which we're facing right now, you've got to focus a lot of attention on hotspots like Madagascar.

CORWIN: Of all the animals here, the most well-known is the island's primate, the lemur.

(on camera): Where did you see them? This way?


CORWIN: Oh, look at this.


CORWIN: I see. I see. There's the (INAUDIBLE).

Oh my goodness. Look at this.


CHETRY: The "Planet in Peril" CNN special with Anderson Cooper is going to be airing Tuesday and Wednesday, October 23rd and 24th, at 9:00 Eastern.

And trust me, we had a chance to get an early look.


CHETRY: Wonderful documentary.

ROBERTS: It really is fantastic, in glorious high-definition television as well. And you can see those geckos up close.

CHETRY: It's almost like that's what high-def was built for.

ROBERTS: Exactly.

CHETRY: You know, those types of stories.

Well, coming up, a story that you really can't miss. George Clooney's medical records, they were leaked after that motorcycle accident that he got in with his girlfriend. Well, now there is some major fallout at the hospital they went to.

ROBERTS: Oh, yes. A lot of hospital workers got in trouble.

Exactly what are the rules about what you do when a celebrity like George Clooney comes into your hospital? Dr. Sanjay Gupta has been looking through the regulations. He's going to join us in a little while.

We'll have that story and the headlines coming up for you on AMERICAN MORNING.


CHETRY: Welcome back. It is Wednesday, October 10th. Glad you're with us. I'm Kiran Chetry. ROBERTS: Good morning to you. I'm John Roberts.

New this morning. Students in Crandon, Wisconsin, returning to classes today after a deadly weekend shooting rampage. The 20-year- old Tyler Peterson gunned down six young people at a party, including his former girlfriend. A seventh victim was shot three times but he survived by playing dead until Peterson left the house. Later during a confrontation with police, authorities say Peterson shot himself three times in the head. The last bullet was the fatal shot.


J.B. VAN HOLLEN, WISCONSIN ATTORNEY GENERAL: Each of the three head shots were fired while the gun was in contact with his skin or extremely close to the skin. These shots were fired by a handgun. These three head wounds are consistent with self-inflicted wounds and not consistent with long-range rifle fire.


ROBERTS: Initial reports had said that Peterson was killed by a police sniper. The attorney general says that Peterson was shot once by police, but it was in the bicep, not a fatal wound.

In Washington state this morning, investigators are taking over the scene of that deadly airplane crash involving members of a skydiving group. The final three victims were removed yesterday. All ten people on board were returning from a skydiving trip to Idaho when the plane went down. Family members offered an emotional thank you to the search crews yesterday.


KELLY CRAIG, BROTHER OF CRASH VICTIM CASEY CRAIG: The people, my friends, they were all my family, obviously, my brother, but we love you guys. Thanks for coming out and helping. The rescuers, search and rescue, appreciate it. And just keep it intact and let us know everything that you can possibly let us know.


ROBERTS: Investigators say that the only hard evidence they have about the crash is the radar, which shows the plane making a rapid, very steep decent before it went into the mountains.

CHETRY: Police in the Madeleine McCain's case want DNA samples and fingerprints from guests who stayed at the same resort where Madeline went missing. The move is said to have come after detectives uncovered evidence of a possible kidnapper. The "London Times" says Portuguese police have samples from the McCann's hotel, which they cannot identify. The British police are now interviewing former guests.

And a warning this morning from the FBI for law enforcement officers in Dallas. The FBI says an alleged leader of the Aryan Brotherhood is trying to get names of federal agents, state troopers and police officers. The FBI says it may be a plot to either rob or threaten them.

A consumer safety alert for you this morning about a potentially fatal flaw in the design of a bassinet made by Simplicity. A 4-month- old baby in Missouri died of accidental asphyxiation after slipping out of the side feet first and becoming trapped between the railing and the mattress. The bassinet model is Simplicity's four in one and not part of last month's recall of a million other baby beds made by Simplicity.

ROBERTS: It's 25 minutes now before the top of the hour. Some scary moments for people stuck on a roller coaster for what must have seemed like forever this past weekend. More than two dozen riders were left hanging upside down for nearly an hour and a half at the Six Flags amusement park in Largo, Maryland. They were riding the two- face, flip side coaster. One of them, French McGee decided to call 911 for help.


DISPATCHER: Prince George's County Emergency Center...

FRENCH MCGEE: We're in Six Flags Great Adventure and the ... ride is stuck. And we're probably 15, 30 stories up in the air... stuck.

DISPATCHER: What city is that?

FRENCH MCGEE: What city? Six Flags.


ROBERTS: Sounded like that congressman from Staten Island there. When workers finally brought the ride down it raced to the bottom and braked violently enough to injure 12 people. The ride has been shut down since and inspectors are trying to determine what went wrong.

CHETRY: You know, if you're hanging upside down long enough, you'd be cursing too.

ROBERTS: I would think so.

So, George Clooney comes into your emergency room. Would you be able to keep quiet about it? As many as 40 employees of a New Jersey Hospital have been suspended for potentially blabbing about their star patient. Clooney and his girlfriend were in a motorcycle accident last month. They went to the Palisades Medical Center for treatment. An internal investigation turned up employees who had accessed his records. That's a violation of privacy standards. They are accused also of leaking the information to the media. Joining us now with his take on this is chief medical correspondent Dr. Sanjay Gupta. So, was it right to suspend these workers?

GUPTA: Well, you know, there is a federal oversight of this exact kind of behavior, John. You might be familiar with it. It's called HIPA, the health insurance portability and accountability act. The whole thing was, you know, they figured out that as medical records became electronic, there was going to be a lot of questions about privacy. How do you sort of make those things, keep them out of people's eyes who shouldn't necessarily be looking at some of those records and that is why they established some of these guidelines and suspension is one of the sort of known penalties for someone who violates HIPA. It can actually be more severe than that, John. If someone actually accesses someone's medical records for some sort of commercial gain. You know, he takes those medical records and then sells them to the media or to whoever, it could actually be much more severe. Could be up to $250,000 and ten years in prison for that as well. So, this is a regulation federally, it's got some teeth, John.

ROBERTS: I don't know of any suggestion that the information was actually sold as opposed to just leaked. But how safe are your records? You know, when you go into a hospital for a procedure and sometimes some of those procedures can be embarrassing, let's say. How reassured are you that, or should you be that your medical records are going to remain a secret?

GUPTA: Some of that is institution dependent. Some hospitals, for example, will actually create these blocks so only certain people who have direct contact with you and direct oversight over your medical care have access to these electronic records. Other hospitals sort of have it opened to anybody who has a password and can access the hard wire system of the medical records.

So, it's probably pretty open in most hospitals to anybody who is working in the hospital and has access to the system. Which can be a little frightening. That's why a lot of people sign these waivers with when you work in a hospital saying you will not release any of this information to anybody else who is not directly involved with patient care and that is why the penalties are so stiff, for example, when someone accesses records who has no reason to. They have no contact with this patient, no involvement with the care. This happened incidentally with President Clinton when he was up at the New York Hospital as well for his heart surgery. A lot of people were actually looked at and reprimanded for having accessed his overall medical records as well.

ROBERTS: Interesting. Well, I guess the official position of George Clooney is he believes that he has a right to his privacy but he doesn't necessarily want to see medical workers suspended because of it. Sanjay Gupta, thanks.

GUPTA: Thank you.

ROBERTS: And don't forget, we got Sanjay's mailbag coming up tomorrow as well. So get your questions in

CHETRY: Well "Quick Hits" now. Camilla Parker Bowles is a grandma. Her son and his wife just had a baby girl named Lola, born yesterday. That makes Prince Charles Lola's step-grandfather. Camilla and Charles say they're ecstatic.

Also, new this morning, a new Nobel Prize winner. The Nobel Prize in Chemistry awarded to Gerhard Ertl of Germany. His studies help explain why the ozone layer is getting thinner, how fuel cells work and why iron rusts. This also happens to be Professor Ertl's 71st birthday, so congratulations.

Charlize Theron getting a high honor. We'll give you a hint. It's not an Oscar but it certainly is a title that is coveted by Hollywood. We'll show you more coming up.

ROBERTS: Coming up on AMERICAN MORNING, green fashion.


Fleece like this is actually made from a recycled soda bottle. They can melt them down, turn it into a fleece and sell it to you.

AMERICAN MORNING'S Greg Hunter finds out if buying green clothing means you have to lose your shirt in the process and are the clothes really eco-friendly.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Cotton actually uses a huge amount of pesticides.



ROBERTS: 17 minutes now to the top of the hour. Who is the sexiest woman alive? Well, according to "Esquire" magazine, it's Charlize Theron. The blonde bombshell is the magazine's latest pick. The November issue hits the stand on Tuesday. Theron is wearing a bikini in the revealing photo shoot with a look on her face that is very difficult to describe.

Rob Marciano down there in Atlanta, looking at extreme weather today. And more heat across the east and not just because we're looking at Charlize Theron this morning there, Rob. Look at Rob. Rob is late to the game. Kind of like the New York Yankees. You know, they just, you know, collapsed in the short going there.

CHETRY: He can't hear us.

ROBERTS: Rob, can't hear us? So, we're not going to go Rob? OK.

CHETRY: Either that or he got so steamed up from watching the Charlize Theron photos and blew his earpiece out.

ROBERTS: Either that or he is still so upset about the Yankees that he just, you know, he just can't do it anymore.

CHETRY: This is the best part about Rob not being able to hear us. We can just make fun of him. Well, OK. Going green, by the way, doing your part to take care of the environment. It's a big trend right now with cars, with homes and even fashion. In fact, eco- clothing is now sold at places like Wal-mart, the Gap, and, of course, all over the internet. But how can you be sure that the clothes you're buying really are eco-friendly. They are not just saying so or trying to market it that way. Well, AMERICAN MORNING'S Greg Hunter checked it out. He joins us right now with more. Hi Greg. GREG HUNTER, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Hey Kiran. The sales of these kinds of clothing, bags, things like that up 30 percent. Environmentalists say green is the new black.


HUNTER (voice-over): You can't tell by looking. But these examples of oat couture are mostly recycled garbage. Fabrics that use less energy and pesticides to produce.

How do you know something is green? Not just the label so they sell something.

ORLI COTEL, SIERRA CLUB: Well, the first thing is you can look for a label that says organic or for organic cotton because since cotton is an agricultural product you know that it's being regulated and it's going to be organic if it says so.

HUNTER: Levi's puts a green "e" on its organic cotton jeans. Other manufactures put tags with percentage of organic or recycled material like this has handbag made out of recycled plastic bottles. Green fashion comes in many forms. These items from Patagonia are made mostly out of recycled polyester clothing dropped off in bins at its stores so synthetic can be eco-friendly as long as you're making new clothes out of old ones. When it comes to natural fibers, cotton isn't always as green as you might think.

COTEL: People think cotton is all natural and that means it's a great green choice but cotton actually uses a huge amount of pesticides, second only to corn in the U.S. So, if you want to wear cotton clothing, it's a great choice but make sure you get organic if it's available because that will make a difference.

HUNTER: This top is made out of bamboo. A sustainable crop that doesn't require pesticides but don't be bamboo-zled, it may not be as ecofriendly as it seems.

ANNE BERNSTEIN, GOMINYC: Basically, the bamboo needs to be broken down somehow and that is a chemical process.

HUNTER: Eco-boutique owner, Ann Bernstein says she researches every item she buys. She says sometimes the chemicals use to make bamboo clothes and the energy used to ship them aren't always as green as they could be.

BERNSTEIN: Right now, most bamboo is being made in China so that process isn't really being regulated.


HUNTER: Bernstein says you should really research a product. She researches everything she sells in the store. She says there's an upside and there's a downside to be an eco friendly, for example, Pategonia. They actually put on their website upside and the downside to their products. This is a completely waterproof jacket and 100 percent recycled. The up side. The down side is there a coating on the outside very common in the industry that they say maybe not as ecological friendly. So upside down is like 100 percent recycled. As this Patagonia, another 100 percent but a recycled Patagonia fleece and if you feel this, it is made out of plastic bottles. This feels very soft, very nice.

CHETRY: And these purses also, they seem like they are made out of rubber tires.

HUNTER: This is called used rubber. Smell this. Just take a delicious smell.

CHETRY: It smells like a tire.

HUNTER: It smells deliciously rubbery and clean. I love it. I'm not being facetious. I really love it. Now, look at this right here, this bag.

CHETRY: The shaving kit for you?

HUNTER: And one of my favorites is, this is like Army tested. It's a bag. It's called a Juice Bag. The company, Juice Bag (inaudible) and has a solar panel on the outside and will recharge your iPod or your small devices.

CHETRY: That's pretty neat.

HUNTER: Or your cell phone and it's made out of recycled material.

CHETRY: Pretty neat. Greg, thanks for showing us all of this stuff.

HUNTER: All right.


ROBERTS: Deliciously rubbery and clean.

OK. It's 12 minutes before the top of the hour.

CNN NEWSROOM just minutes away now. Tony Harris at the CNN Center with a look at what's ahead. Good morning, Tony.

TONY HARRIS, CNN, ANCHOR: Rubbery and clean. Good morning.

ROBERTS: And deliciously so.

HARRIS: Yes, good morning, John. On the NEWSROOM, rundown for you this morning.

She died in police custody at the Phoenix Airport. Now her husband speaks out in a CNN exclusive.

Chrysler workers threatening to walk off the job in about two hours from now. Health care for retirees and hourly wages thought to be the sticking points. And a Pennsylvania man tries to pay with a $1 million bill. One problem, there is no such thing as a $1 million bill. We cover all of the breaking news for you this morning. You're in the NEWSROOM, just minutes away, top of the hour, right here on CNN. John, back to you.

ROBERTS: All right. Tony. Will see you then.

Bundle up and pay up, your "Quick Hits" now. The government says we will pay 10 percent more to heat our homes this winter. $88 more than last year. Researchers say this winter is expected to be colder than last year and crude oil prices rising topping $80 a barrel ahead of the inventory report due out today.

Coming up on AMERICAN MORNING, handicapped parking bandits.

Just really irked me to see people that looked like they maybe shouldn't be parking in those spaces and they were.

They walk fine. Some even run. Ever wonder how they qualify to park in a handicapped spot? Meet the woman who is catching imposters red-handed ahead on AMERICAN MORNING.


ROBERTS: Does it get under your skin when you see someone who is not supposed to be parked in a handicapped spot? Well, now there's something that you can do about it. A website has been launched this past spring and it allows people to post information about vehicles that seem to be abusing the system. It's called And its creator, Maureen Birdsall sends the information that she gets to state DMVs. She joins us now from Walnut Creek, California. Maureen, good to see you. How did this get under your skin?

MAUREEN BIRDSALL, FOUNDER, HANDICAPPEDFRAUD.ORG: Well, I'll tell you. I have a handicapped brother who has cerebral palsy. And I spend a lot of time driving him around in his van looking for van parking which is not an easy thing to find. And then more recently, my grandfather, who I would drive around frequently, again, I couldn't find handicapped parking and it would just irked me to see people that looked like that they maybe shouldn't be parking in those spaces and they were.

ROBERTS: So, you got this idea that if you take down their license plate number and you take down some other information and post it on this website. How many other people have joined in the cause here?

BIRDSALL: Well, I'll tell you, right now, we have close to 500 registered users. Which you don't have to register to use the website. We've had over 750 posts.

ROBERTS: I noticed that a lot of these posts seem to have a lot of information about the people who own the cars that are parked in these handicapped spaces. Have you got any way of checking to make sure that information is true?

BIRDSALL: No. Actually, we don't. That's really DMVs job if they want to send out an investigator.

ROBERTSON: One person I read is threatening to sue saying you don't know anything about them. Another here's another one, 43 years old, had open heart surgery, she wrote on your website, "If I go to target which is where you are now, I have to go straight in the snack bar area and catch my breath. But do I look disabled. No, I look totally able-bodied. Leave us alone. You do not walk in my shoes and you do not know me."

Is it possible here, Maureen, that a few innocent people might get caught up here?

BIRDSALL: Well, I'll tell you. This site is actually designed to help those people because a lot of people that don't appear handicapped are really tired of other people coming up saying gosh, you don't look handicapped. And what our site encourages people to do is never approach anybody.

ROBERTS: You said several times here this morning that you send this information off to DMV when you collect it. Have you gotten any feedback from them and do you have any idea what they do with the information once they get it?

BIRDSALL: You know, I haven't gotten any feedback from them but I don't expect it either.

ROBERTS: Maureen Birdsall, Interesting reading on the Internet. Thanks for being with us this morning. Good to see you.

BIRDSALL: Thank you very much.

CHETRY: Well, you've heard all about walking the bible. How about living the bible literally every day? Coming up tomorrow on AMERICAN MORNING, we're going to meet A.J. Jacobs. He transformed his life to live by the good book. Changing nearly everything about him from his beard to his clothing, what he ate, how he dealt with his wife? We talked with our Lola Ogunnaike for his new book, "The Year of Living Biblically."


The Lord giveth, and the lord taketh away and may the name of the Lord be praised.


CHETRY: So, how successful was A.J. at living by the word of the bible? He had a pretty dramatic transformation. The before and the after. Tomorrow on AMERICAN MORNING.

In the meantime, here is a quick look at what CNN NEWSROOM is working on for the top of the hour.

HARRIS: See these stories in the CNN NEWSROOM. CNN exclusive. The husband of the woman who died in police custody at Phoenix Airport speaks out about his wife's death.

Columbia students walking out of class today to protest racism. A noose found on a professor's door.

The first woman to command the international space station ready for blast off this morning.

Another food recall, this time pot pies. NEWSROOM, just minutes away, at the top of the hour, on CNN.


ROBERTS: New York Yankees manager Joe Torre is getting a strong endorsement from Rudy Giuliani. In a light moment from last night's Republican debate, Giuliani, the former mayor of New York and famous Yankees fan was asked to predict if Torre would get fired for his team's latest playoff collapse.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Just to test your forecasting ability, Mr. Mayor, will Torre keep his job?



GIULIANI: Joe Torre is the best manager in the history of the Yankees, at least in the modern era. And he's my friend.


ROBERTS: The fiery Yankees owner George Steinbrenner has the last word on all of these. His decision may not come until next week.

CHETRY: So, we wanted to know what you thought about it. Joe Torre, should he stay or go as manager of the Yankees. You cast your votes all morning for us at So, here is the final check of the voting. If George is listening to our viewers, let poor Joe stay. 78 percent saying Joe should stay on and 22 percent saying he should go.

ROBERTS: Of course, knowing Steinbrenner, he may look at that and say that's every reason to get rid of him. Let's hope not, though. Thanks so much for joining us on this AMERICAN MORNING. We'll see you again tomorrow.

CHETRY: That's right. CNN NEWSROOM with Tony Harris and Heidi Collins starts right now.

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