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An Airline Went Down; Senate Judiciary Chairman Step Closer to Holding the White House in Contempt; Your Favorite TV Show Soon be Back

Aired November 30, 2007 - 06:00   ET


JOHN ROBERTS, CNN ANCHOR: Breaking news. No survivors after a commercial jet goes overnight.
Showtime at the Apollo.




ROBERTS: Courting voters in Clinton country.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We have to work hard to convince black people.


ROBERTS: Plus a dramatic new twist in the case of the exploding cell phone on this AMERICAN MORNING.

And good morning to you. It is Friday, November the 30th as we say farewell to another month. I'm John Roberts.

KIRAN CHETRY, CNN ANCHOR: I'm Kiran Chetry. Hurricane season officially ends today as well. How about it?

ROBERTS: It's a good day all around.

CHETRY: Make way for winter.

Well, we start with breaking news on the economy and what it could mean for your money. Last night, Fed chair Ben Bernanke dropped strong hands about rough times ahead for American consumers and he says that the Fed needs to stay, quote, "alert and flexible" to head off any threat.

So does that mean we can expect another rate cut on the horizon? Well, Wall Street apparently already thinks so.

Ali Velshi is at the business update desk with more. Hi, Ali.

ALI VELSHI, CNN SR. BUSINESS CORRESPONDENT: Good morning, Kiran. A little bit of good news for investors. The markets have been very strong this week because of the expectation of a rate cut that's coming and -- that could be coming in about 11 days. Last night in a speech in Charlotte, North Carolina, Ben Bernanke basically said, "If you're having trouble figuring out this economy, you're not alone."


BEN BERNANKE, FEDERAL RESERVE CHAIRMAN: Economic forecasting is always difficult, but the current stresses in financial markets make the uncertainty surrounding the outlook greater than usual. We at the Federal Reserve will have to remain exceptionally alert and flexible as we continue to assess how best to promote sustainable economic growth and price stability in the United States.


VELSHI: Sustainable economic growth and price stability. Price stability means inflation. Now what they're talking about is looking at the things that matter in the next 11 days are going to be how people are shopping, how they're spending, how retail sales are going. And of course, next Friday, one week from today, we get the monthly employment report, the jobs numbers, and if we start seeing unemployment going upward, that probably puts it in the bag for a rate cut.

December 11th is the day to watch. Most people are expecting another 25 -- one quarter of a percentage point cut in interest rates. We'll be following that very closely between now and then. Right now futures looking up on the news that another rate cut might be coming -- Kiran?

CHETRY: All right, Ali, thanks.

ROBERTS: We're also following breaking news from Turkey this morning. A passenger plane carrying 58 people crashed over night. It went down in the mountains in Isparta in southwestern Turkey just minutes before it was set to land. Rescue helicopters reached the wreckage, saw a plane in pieces, and reported back that there was no one left alive to save.

Our Emily Chang has late breaking details from our world update desk in London. And Emily, the weather, as I understand at the time, was pretty good. Any idea what caused this plane to go down?

EMILY CHANG, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, right now the cause of the crash is still unknown. The weather at the time could not have been better. Rescue workers right now going through the wreckage but say there is little hope of any survivors. It took off about 1:00 a.m. It was just a short flight from Istanbul to Isparta. About 1:36 a.m. local time the pilot radioed in requesting permission to land and didn't indicate that anything was wrong, but strangely it went off the radar.

The wreckage is strewn across an area of southwestern Turkey, about seven miles away from the airport in Isparta. Distraught relatives said to be rushing to the airports in Isparta and Istanbul. Some going directly to the scene, trying to find anything about what happened to their loved ones. Now the airline CEO said the plane had no apparent technical problems. Again, the weather at the time could not have been better.

There is a team of experts at the scene. They are looking for the plane's black boxes, and hopefully those boxes will give them some information as to how and why this happened -- John?

ROBERTS: Emily, as we can see in these pictures, there are large sections of the fuselage that were still intact. This was a variation of the MacDonnell Douglas MD-80, which is in wide use in this country and around the world.

Do we know anything about the safety record of this particular aircraft?

CHANG: Well, as far as Atlasjet itself, none of its planes have ever crashed before. Back in 2005, one of its planes went off the runway in Istanbul, but no one was hurt. But as far as we know, this airline has a very good safety record.

ROBERTS: All right. Emily Chang for us this morning with the latest from London. Emily, thanks. We'll get back to you a little bit later on with more. Right now let's go over to Kiran.

CHETRY: Well, there are wwo big stories about your health, and they top what's new this morning. First it was trans fats. Now the government wants to shake up the way we look at salt. The Food and Drug Administration held a hearing yesterday that could change how much salt is added in processed and restaurant foods. I mean right now we know a lot of it are in both of those things.

The American Medical Association says that sodium is generally considered safe, but that most Americans consume two to three times more than is healthy. For years, doctors have warned that too much salt can contribute to high blood pressure, to stroke, as well as heart disease.

Also, some alarming news for the millions of people who work the grave yard shift and that includes those of us on this show. The World Health Organization says working overnights can increase your risk of cancer. The organization says that research shows that higher rates of breast and prostate cancer in people that work that shift.

At night, your body makes melatonin, which can help fight off tumors. But people working the shift are usually under artificial light at that time, which disrupts their melatonin levels. Researchers say that changing the color of the light in work spaces could help readjust the person's body clock and restore melatonin.

Well, the government announcing some progress on gun safety. The Justice Department saying that the number of people banned from buying guns because of mental health problems has more than doubled since the Virginia Tech shootings. Attorney General Michael Mukasey made the announcement yesterday during his first public remarks since taking the position. He said 32 states are contributing to the list, and he's urging the rest to get on board.

Had Seung-Hui Cho been on the list -- that's the Virginia Tech shooter -- he likely wouldn't have been able to get the guns he bought to kill 32 people at Virginia Tech last April -- John?

ROBERTS: Coming up now at five minutes after the hour, Miami investigators are looking for what they call an unknown suspect in the shooting death of NFL player Sean Taylor.

The Washington Redskins star was shot early Monday morning at his home in Palmetto Bay just south of Miami. Police are still investigating the possible link to a burglary reported at his home earlier this month where someone forced open a window and left a kitchen knife on a bed. His father, Florida City Police Officer -- Police Chief, rather, Pedro Taylor, spoke exclusively with CNN's Rich Sanchez.


PEDRO TAYLOR, SEAN TAYLOR'S FATHER: Sean is a young man that took a passion to football at a very young age. And not only that, he took a passion to be a scholar/athlete. It's been a dream of his to accomplish so much and he had a goal to reach, and that was to get to the top of the pyramid, which he did.


ROBERTS: Police are still trying to come up with a motive for the shooting other than maybe just perhaps a random robbery. A fellow NFL player who has known Taylor since childhood told the Associated Press that Taylor was, quote, "pretty much scared every day of his life," because former friends had been targeting him for three years now.

The Redskins will honor Taylor this weekend by wearing the number 21 on their helmets.

Osama bin Laden apparently sending out a new message. This time he is telling Europe to stop helping the United States and Afghanistan. Arab news network Al Jazeera aired a new audiotape yesterday. Bin Laden says he alone is responsible for 9/11 and that the Afghan people and government knew nothing about it. He also accuses NATO troops of killing women and children indiscriminately.

This would be bin Laden's fourth tape this year. U.S. analysts say the voice does appear to be his and the tape appears to contain no specific credible threat.

Pakistani opposition leaders split this morning on participating in elections. Pakistan's president Pervez Musharraf says he will end the state of emergency in that country by December the 16th and hold elections on January the 8th.

Benazir Bhutto says she is going to run for prime minister, but Nawaz Sharif plans to boycott the elections -- Kiran? CHETRY: Well, there are some more shocking revelations this morning in the case of missing Illinois mom Stacy Peterson. There is a new report in the "Chicago Sun-Times" today that she told a clergy member that her husband confessed to killing his third wife and made it look like an accident.

Now a pastor is also coming forward saying that she requested a meeting because Drew Peterson was making her afraid. This was back in August, three months before she vanished. The church said that the pastor made a, quote, "judgment call" in not alerting police.

AMERICAN MORNING's legal analyst Sunny Hostin joins us now. So, these are sources that are recounting this type of information if it is indeed true. What is the obligation when it comes to clergy to alert police or others in these types of situations?

SUNNY HOSTIN, AMERICAN MORNING LEGAL ANALYST: Well, you know, in this type of situation, the clergy does not have the -- it's not necessary for him or her to do anything. Communications between a parishioner are completely, completely privileged. It's really much like when you speak to your attorney or you speak to your doctor and you say something that is privileged, the clergy doesn't have to say anything.

CHETRY: There are cases, there are instances where they do have to alert police. What are those?

HOSTIN: Absolutely. If it's child abuse or absolutely if someone is going to do harm to themselves or someone else. Let's say you go to your priest, and you say, "I am going to kill my wife" or "I am going to kill my child." That clergy member has, has to go to the police and report it.

But in this case, what we're hearing is what she said, I think, is "I'm afraid of my husband. My husband told me that he had already killed someone," that he has committed a crime.

CHETRY: Right.

HOSTIN: That's very, very different. And I think that the clergy member in this case made the right call.

CHETRY: Legally speaking and investigatively speaking, how does this affect what police are going to do now in terms of the disappearance of Stacy?

HOSTIN: Well, I don't think it's going to change very much actually. I think that it goes to motive. It gives them -- it doesn't give them any more leads, but it does give them the right perhaps to start speaking more to her family members, perhaps speaking to parishioners. But I think, again, that the clergy member made the right call here.

CHETRY: Quick question that when it comes to the investigation into the death of his third wife, Kathleen Savio. Can police interview this clergy member and say, yes or no, did Stacy say to you that she thinks Drew -- that Drew told her he killed his last wife?

HOSTIN: No. No, they can't. And we really need this sort of privilege for the free exercise of religion and they can't -- they may try to, but I think that the clergyman isn't going to say anything.

CHETRY: So, OK. Sunny Hostin, great to see you. We'll see you back here in an hour on another really fascinating case. Thanks.

HOSTIN: Thank you.


ROBERTS: Just about 10 minutes after the hour now.


CHETRY: Well, a lawsuit over O.J. Simpson's book "If I Did It" tops your "Quick Hits" now. Fred Goldman said he's going after a file sharing Web site in Sweden that lets people download the book for free. Goldman owns the book's rights and says that the Web site has cost him $150,000 so far.

ROBERTS: Coming up on AMERICAN MORNING, Barack Obama and the black vote.


TATSHA ROBERTSON, EDITOR, "ESSENCE" MAGAZINE: So he's talked about more, you know, more broader issues. That doesn't always work well with African-Americans.


ROBERTS: AMERICAN MORNING'S Chris Lawrence hits the streets of Harlem to see what Barack Obama needs to do to appeal to black women. Is Oprah the answer? Find out ahead on AMERICAN MORNING.

ANNOUNCER: "Minding Your Business" brought to you by...


ROBERTS: Coming up on 15 minutes after the hour. To politics now and Barack Obama's New York state of mind. This morning he is going to have coffee with Mayor Michael Bloomberg. Last night it was show time at the Apollo. Comedian Chris Rock introduced Obama at a fund-raiser at the famed Harlem Theater, and then Obama took the stage, making his pitch to African-American voters, many of who are not convinced that he is the right candidate for them.


SEN. BARACK OBAMA (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I'm tired of reading about Jena. I'm tired of reading about nooses. I'm tired of hearing about a Justice Department that doesn't understand justice. When I am president of the United States, we will have a civil rights division that actually is investigating crimes. (END VIDEO CLIP)

ROBERTS: Chris Lawrence covered last night's event and he joins us now from outside the Apollo Theater.

Chris, that whole area there is ground zero for the Clintons. Bill Clinton has got his office just down the street. How did Obama fare in swaying voters there Apollo?

CHRIS LAWRENCE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: John, he changed more than a few minds here last night. And you said it, this is Clinton country. He's office I can see it from here just a couple blocks down the street. And Bill Clinton's wife is extremely popular. So there's definitely a gap out there that Senator Obama needs to close.


ROCK: Mr. Barack Obama.

LAWRENCE (voice over): Barack Obama arrived in Harlem to cheers, but he's still got work to do courting black women.

LAQUETTE LUCAS, VOTER: I don't want to just vote for Barack because I'm African-American because that's just too typical.

LAWRENCE: Even Obama's supporters agree.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: When she and I do errands like campaigning, we have to work hard to convince black people.

LAWRENCE: Especially black women. Sixty-eight percent of who prefer Hillary Clinton. That's more than two to one.

ROBERTSON: She is who she is. Where Obama, you know, has to prove that he can -- you know, his message can resonate with everybody.

LAWRENCE: "Essence" magazine editor Tatsha Robertson says Obama has to prove to white voters he'd be everyone's president. So some black women may feel he's not specifically connecting with their concerns

LUCAS: Maybe he has to bring that across a little bit more strongly in his delivery.

LAWRENCE: Another factor, Clinton herself and how black women relate to her.

ROBERTSON: Even though she's Hillary Clinton, they see themselves, you know, within her, dealing with the family issues, the infidelity issues.

LAWRENCE: Robertson says Clinton's ultimate embarrassment is her greatest asset.

ROBERTSON: She decided, you know, whether she wanted to stay or not, and I really think, you know, people respect that about Hillary Clinton, especially black women.

LAWRENCE: Now Oprah Winfrey is about to hit the trail on Obama's behalf, and his wife is campaigning in beauty salons in South Carolina, with the primaries just eight weeks away.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: If he could create some inroads there, he's going to have a very good chance of winning that state.


LAWRENCE: Yes. Now, there aren't enough black voters in Iowa or New Hampshire to make a huge difference, but about half the Democratic voters in South Carolina are black and more women than men vote. It's especially important this year because South Carolina is right before that big Super Tuesday where all those other states are going to vote. So, whoever wins that state is going to have a heck of a lot momentum going into February -- John?

ROBERTS: Chris, what about African-American men? How are they feeling about Barack Obama?

LAWRENCE: Completely opposite. You know, the latest CNN poll from about a month ago shows black men prefer Obama by a small margin. Now, he took a little bit of a hit when the nation's first elected black governor, Doug Wilder, from Virginia, the ex-governor of Virginia, cooled a little bit and initially really supported Obama and the said, "Oh, I do support him but haven't really endorsed anyone yet."

But overall, I got to tell you, even the people here who favored Hillary Clinton had nothing but good things to say about Obama. He has no real negatives that we could see from talking to people. So, with a slight nudge here or there, those numbers could flip quickly.

ROBERTS: And the nudge could be a win in Iowa. We'll see what happens there. Chris Lawrence for us this morning up there in Harlem. Chris, thanks very much -- Kiran?

CHETRY: Mug shots doctored of the president and his most trusted adviser are on display in a very famous public building. Someone's version of art stirring up political controversy.

Also ahead on AMERICAN MORNING, a new twist to a story we first brought you yesterday. A Korean man not killed apparently by his exploding cell phone. Now the truth comes to light. Was it a cover- up? Next.


ROBERTS: It's almost 24 minutes after the hour. This was just a bizarre story. Yesterday we told you about a man in South Korea who police thought may have been killed by a cell phone that exploded in his breast pocket. Well, it turns out that there may have been a little more to the incident than just the cell phone.

Our Veronica De La Cruz joins us now with an update. Good morning to you.


Pretty dramatic turn of events. Yesterday we told you about a man found dead in his workplace. His mobile phone melted into his shirt pocket. Well, preliminary autopsy results show the damage to the 33-year-old's internal organs was too great to be caused by a cell phone explosion. The AP now reporting that a co-worker has since confessed to accidentally killing the rock quarry worker. He apparently ran over the man, moved the vehicle to hide evidence, and then blamed the mobile device.

But still not clear how the phone that we're looking at right here -- this is the -- how it melted. The Korean paper is reporting the police have charged the co-worker with vehicular manslaughter.

And while a cell phone may not have been responsible for the man's death, the Consumer Products Safety Commission in the United States says that there is still some importance to exercising caution. Cell phone batteries can explode.

Back in July, a Chinese man died when his cell phone apparently exploded in his pocket. And just yesterday a New Zealand news Web site posted video of a cell phone that exploded in the middle of the night. It was charging next to a man's bed. It was sitting right there on the nightstand. But no injuries have been reported. And as we mentioned yesterday, there are no instances of a person being killed an exploding cell phone here in the United States. But the watchdog group, the Wireless Consumers Alliance, says it does get reports of exploding cell phones, at least one report a month. I mean it is something that we do hear about so still you have to (INAUDIBLE).

ROBERTS: Yes. They say never throw those batteries in the fire, but I've never heard of one just blowing up while it's on the charger.

DE LA CRUZ: Well, it does happen. So you've got to be careful.

ROBERTS: Well, at least we cleared this case up, though.

DE LA CRUZ: Right. Right.

ROBERTS: That did really seem bizarre.

DE LA CRUZ: Yes, it was.

ROBERTS: Veronica, thanks.

DE LA CRUZ: Of course.


CHETRY: Well, bird watching doesn't get much better than this. Check it out. They are the "Hot Shot" of the day. Meredith Ashby(ph) spotted a proud bald eagle while vacationing in central Florida. The bird itself is an American history -- an American success story fighting back from the brink of extinction with the help of conservationists and the government that it represents.

But there you see a beautiful bald eagle. Nice shot. Thanks so much for sending that in.

By the way, if you have a "Hot Shot," send it to us. The address is Include your name, where you're from, a little about the picture or video, and please make sure the image is yours.

ROBERTS: So 26 minutes after the hour, a look at the story coming up on our next half-hour here in AMERICAN MORNING that you can't miss.

You know, we've seen some of these stars getting really at the paparazzi. Julia Roberts, the latest one all fired up now.

CHETRY: That's right. We're going to see how the actress turned the tables on the paparazzi. She was the one doing the chasing and it was all caught on tape. We're going to show that to you coming up. Also the day's headlines when AMERICAN MORNING comes right back.


ROBERTS: Shot of the atrium outside of the White House in Washington, D.C. Of course, that's to mark World AIDS Day, which is tomorrow. It's kind of a middling day there in Washington today. Fairly cool. Looks like it's going to be that way.

CHETRY: Thirty-eight degrees right now and cloudy. Shaping up for a high a little bit later on in the day, what, mid-40s?

ROBERTS: Yes. Looks like it's going to be a cool weekend down there, though.

CHETRY: How about that? Did you get a chance to look? I know you were in St. Petersburg yesterday? Did you get a chance to see any of the White House Christmas decorations? It's gorgeous up there.

ROBERTS: I did. Yes. Well, you know, the first lady always takes everybody on a wonderful tour of the White House. They just do it up so beautifully. You were at the Christmas party last year.

CHETRY: And the theme was really neat. The national parks and all of our national landmarks. So, pretty cool. Well, welcome, once again. It's Friday, November 30th. I'm Kiran Chetry.

ROBERTS: Good morning to you. I'm John Roberts.

We are following breaking news out of Turkey today were an airline went down. All 56 people on board are feared dead. It crashed in the mountains near the southwestern city of Esparta (ph) just minutes before it was to land. The plane, a McDonnell Douglas 83 was in pieces when rescue teams arrive by helicopter five hours later. A spokesman for Atlasjet says it's still not clear why the plane went down, but the spokesman ruled out weather because it was pretty good at the time.

CHETRY: Well, new this morning, police in New Zealand question a teen accused of being the mastermind of an enormous cyber network. The 18-year-old released without charges by police say he is still part of the investigation. Eight people have been indicted so far. 13 arrested here in the states. Police say this network is made up of hackers who seize control of computers around the world and then use them to cause chaos, anything from attacking websites to skimming millions from bank accounts.

Federal Reserve chairman Ben Bernanke hinting at another interest rate cut. Speaking to a business group in Charlotte, North Carolina last night. Bernanke said the housing slump and high oil prices are creating "headwinds for the consumer." Bernanke says that the fed policy makers have to remain and will remain extremely alert and flexible. Many are taking that to mean that there will be a rate cut at the next regularly scheduled fed meeting, that's December 11th.

And the senate judiciary chairman step closer to holding the White House in contempt. Patrick Leahy says that presidential aides are not covered by executive privilege and that they must testify on what they know about the firing of federal prosecutors. The White House says he is wasting time.


DANA PERINO, WHITE HOUSE SPOKESWOMAN: We were baffled by the decision. Senator Leahy himself has said that these contempt filings would be futile, and yet, they continue to move forward with them. They only have six legislative days left in the session. Their focus should be on funding the troops, making sure the intelligence gap remains firmly closed, and bypassing a budget, which is something that our country, our democracy should be able to do.


CHETRY: Senator Leahy says that the White House is stonewalling. He could ask the full senate to move on contempt charges in December.

ROBERTS: Also new this morning, a clergyman reveals a shocking confession in the case of missing mom Stacy Peterson. He told the "Chicago Sun Times" that Stacy came to him and said her husband, Drew, confessed to killing his third wife and to making it look like an accident. Investigators are re-examining Kathleen Savio's death back in 2004. It was ruled accidental when her body was found drowned in an empty bathtub.

A body found beside a Kansas highway appears to match the description of the missing college student, according to investigators. 18-year-old Emily Sander has been missing since last week. She was last seen leaving a bar with 24-year-old Israel Mireles, who is now the suspect in the case. Sander lived a double life, college student by day, Internet porn star named Zoey Zane at night. But police don't think that that has anything to do with her disappearance. In Mississippi, the ex-boyfriend of missing college student Latasha Norman has led police to her body. Cops have now charged Stanley Cole with murder. He is going to be in court today. He was already facing an assault charge for allegedly hitting her. The 20- year-old Norman had last been seen November 13th as she left a class at Jackson State University.

Hitting the deck on Interstate 95. Take a look at this. Sheriff's deputies taser a man trying to stop him from pacing back and forth on the highway and holding up the morning rush in South Florida. The deputies say they decided to deliver the jolt after the guy pulled a knife on them. He was complaining that cars were chasing him all night. He may not face any charges. The man was taken to hospital for observation. You're on a highway. Of course, you're going to think cars are chasing you.


Well, a Wisconsin man is being charged with murder and several other charges after police say he admitted slipping his girlfriend a pill causing her to miscarry on two different occasions. Joining us now with more on this case is AMERICAN MORNING's legal analyst Sunny Hostin. This is such a bizarre case to begin with because the woman says that she felt suspicious after miscarrying for a second time and actually saved a smoothie that her boyfriend who was married to someone else gave her. Had it tested, and indeed, it turned up having RU-46, known as the abortion pill in it.

SUNNY HOSTIN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: It really is unbelievable. He's not only having an affair with her, because he was married, they also had another child together. They had a 3-year-old child. And so he told -- it's been reported he told police officers he did do this. He didn't want to have any more children. And so, he slipped this pill in her drinks twice. Not once, but twice. And he's been charged with just a laundry list. I had to write it down because he's been charged with so many things.

We're looking at first degree murder of an unborn child, second degree recklessly endangering someone's safety, placing foreign objects in edibles, possession with intent to deliver prescriptions, stalking, burglary, two counts of violating a restraining order. He is looking at a lot of time. And I think what's most important here and the takeaway is that statistically, most women that are victims of crime are typically really victims of people that they know.

This stranger on stranger crime with women is not generally the norm. And it really underscores that. We're seeing it with the Drew Peterson case. We've seen it with Scott Peterson. Women are victimized by people that they know.

CHETRY: This is the other interesting part. Wisconsin is one of 37 states that has a fetal homicide law. So in this case, if he was not in the state that had that, what would he be charged with in this situation, doing harm to her?

HOSTIN: Doing harm to her perhaps, because we know that this type of drug is very -- a serious, serious drug. And sometimes people die from that. And so, he would have been charged otherwise. But the fact that this state does have that charge is very, very important. We know that there's been a lot of legislation. There's a federal law that protects unborn children. And so I'm sure that we will see perhaps legislation in other states for this type of law because this is something that can't happen.

CHETRY: Fascinating for a number of reasons that she had the wherewithal to get this tested, and know about it. You know, if this drug is also prescription only.


CHETRY: And apparently, he was sent it from overseas.

HOSTIN: He was sent it from overseas, it's been reported. And as a mother and as a woman, he is sort of the advocate and the protector for her unborn child, and the law is now recognizing that.

CHETRY: Wow, Sunny Hostin, thanks for being with us.

HOSTIN: Thank you. CHETRY: John?

ROBERTS: 37 minutes after the hour. Charges against hip-hop star Akon. "Quick Hits" now. More news and more (INAUDIBLE) here on CNN. Endangering the welfare of a child among the charges after Akon tossed a 15-year-old off the stage at a concert. The 15-year-old landed on a girl who says she suffered a concussion. She also says that she's hired an attorney to look into all of this.

And Goran Visnjic, who was Dr. Luka Kovac on E.R. settles a child support case. Visnjic admitted that he was the father of an 8-month- old born to a woman back in some country of Croatia. Visnjic has been married since 1999 and just adopted a baby boy with his wife this spring.

One of the Iraq war's biggest critics changes his tune. Is his voice strong enough to bring more Democrats around to the president's side?

CHETRY: Coming up on AMERICAN MORNING, parents forced to choose between their adopted child and their country.


ALINA CHO, CNN CORRESPONDENT: That's an incredible sacrifice.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Isn't it? I mean, he's our son.


CHETRY: AMERICAN MORNING's Alina Cho investigates why so many families are being torn apart. One couple's emotional journey to bring their baby home is ahead on AMERICAN MORNING.


CHETRY: 41 minutes past the hour now. Rob Marciano is off today. We have Reynolds Wolf at our weather update desk tracking extreme weather. So, hurricane season is over, now you've got to worry about the storms in some parts of the country, wintry weather.


ROBERTS: Reynolds, thanks so much. 42 minutes after the hour. A setback for Barack Obama tops today's "Political Ticker." Former Virginia governor Douglas Wilder, the nation's first elected black governor, is backing off the plans to endorse Senator Obama for president. Wilder lavished praise on Obama over the summer, but in a new interview for "Jet magazine," he says that wasn't an endorsement. He says for nor, he's going to stay on defense.

The John McCain campaign putting its spin on Wednesday's CNN YouTube Debate. An internal memo written by the Senator's campaign manager called McCain "the only candidate on stage who sounded like a president." The memo said the key to winning was acting with dignity and staying away from party inciting.

First it was a hawk, then it was a dove, but now Democratic congressman John Murtha has changed his mind again apparently. He's just back from Iraq and says the troop build-up there. The so-called surge is working. His criticism of the war was a driving force for Democrats opposing President Bush.

Politics running into family in New Jersey. Kate Whitman, 30- year-old daughter of Christie Whitman says she'll run for Congress in New Jersey's seventh district next year. Her mother was once governor and also headed up the environmental protection agency. And you can find all the day's political news around the clock 24 hours a day, 7 days a week at Now, let's go over to Kiran.

CHETRY: It's an international crisis for some families. They've done the long and hard work of preparing to adopt a new baby internationally, heading around the world to pick up their new son or daughter and are now in limbo, unable to come home. AMERICAN MORNING's Alina Cho is following this story for us. We're specifically talking about Vietnam here.

ALINA CHO, CNN CORRESPONDENT: That's right. It's an incredible story, Kiran. You know, it's really one of those things that you think, boy, it could happen to anyone. Imagine if you traveled halfway around the world to pick up the child you've just adopted legally and were told by the U.S. government that that child would not, at least for now, be allowed into the United States. Well, that's exactly what happened to one New York couple who adopted from Vietnam. An incredible story, and sadly, this family is not alone.


CHO: When David and Shannon French left for Vietnam last month to pick up baby Oliver, they couldn't wait to get there. They planned to be there for three weeks and home for Thanksgiving. Seven weeks later...

DAVID FRENCH, ADOPTING BABY FROM VIETNAM: I really can't describe what it's like to hold your son and, you know, have him look in your eyes and feel like inside you are stealing your heart against him so that he won't sense that there's anything wrong.

CHO: After the French's had legally adopted Oliver and after he was already in their custody, the U.S. government told them Oliver would not be granted a visa, at least for now, meaning the 6-month-old could not travel home with his new parents.

FRENCH: I was scared. Suddenly, what went from being a really joyful experience of becoming a father and a fascinating time spent absorbing Vietnamese culture, we suddenly felt like there was some suspicion that we'd done something wrong.

CHO: The U.S. government says communist Vietnam is currently under greater scrutiny following allegations of questionable adoption practices, like baby selling and birth parents being coerced into giving up their children. That's why the U.S. placed a temporary hold on visas for Oliver and at least 19 other newly adopted Vietnamese children.

THOMAS DIFILIPO, JOINT COUNCIL, INTERNAL CHILDREN SERVICES: You can only imagine, if this was your son or daughter and you were told that you were not allowed to bring them into the United States, that they had to remain there when you come home, I mean, that's just unimaginable.

FRENCH: We've got children's Tylenol, formula, diapers.

CHO: So, David is headed back to Vietnam, where his wife and baby are stuck. U.S. officials say Oliver and others like him could still get visas, but if that doesn't happen, the French's have two choices, give Oliver up or move to Vietnam for two years until they become legal guardians and can bring him home.

CHO: That's an incredible sacrifice.

FRENCH: Is it? I mean, he's our son. I think it's easy.


CHO: Now, in just the past week, the U.S. government actually changed the law, saying parents who adopt from Vietnam now must first obtain a visa for their child before traveling to Hanoi. It used to be just a formality really. And keep in mind, U.S. officials say, just because they're temporarily denying Oliver and others a visa doesn't mean he won't eventually get one.

They simply want more information about the case. They want to be sure the adoption is viable, legitimate, and they also want to protect the birth parents. They want to be sure there wasn't any baby selling going on, Kiran, or that the birth parents weren't coerced into giving up their child to create a family elsewhere. CHETRY: So, where does it stand right now with Oliver? And do they have reason to believe in this specific case that any of those things are the case, that there's, you know, questions about the viability?

CHO: Well, this is really an issue about the way Oliver was left at the orphanage. OK, it's a documentation issue. The French's call it a paperwork quibble really. The discrepancy is about whether the night watchman who found Oliver at the orphanage put an entry into his logbook. Now, the U.S. government says, listen, this is really about protection and making sure that everyone, all parties are protected, both the birth parents and the adopted parents. They want to make sure the adoption is legitimate before the birth parents bring the child home to the United States.

CHETRY: And as we understand, this is a situation that has happened a few years back as well, with Vietnam as well. It's a very popular place now to adopt?

CHO: That's right. You know, in 2004 and 2005, these very same issues came up, and the U.S. government actually placed a hold on adoptions from Vietnam. That hold was lifted sometime in 2006, and adoptions from Vietnam shut up. There were like 600 just this year. And for the French's, they said, listen, we chose Vietnam in part because there was a shorter wait time. You know, for China, it would take two years. For Vietnam, it was just ten months. Of course, they're caught up in this red tape now, but it's very palatable for parents who are really desperate, a couple desperate to start a family to wait ten months versus two years.

CHETRY: Right. Well, so 19 other families going through the same thing. Keep us posted...

CHO: Oh, we certainly will.

CHETRY:...On how it turns out. Great story. Thanks, Alina.

CHO: You bet.


ROBERTS: Another Grinch ruining Christmas. Time for "Quick Hits." Police in Providence, Rhode Island, busted a man they say was stealing UPS packages off of people's doorsteps. The delivery driver tipped off cops after he spotted the thief trailing his truck. Police tracked him to his house when they say they found some of the items wrapped under the man's Christmas tree.

And a Christmas icon under fire. America's top doc says it's time for Santa to slim down. Speaking in Boston, acting U.S. surgeon general Steven Gaustin (ph) says kids shouldn't be looking up to a role model who's overweight and eats so many cookies. Santa also under fire. Apparently, some places no longer allow him to say ho ho ho. Don Imus won't be saying ho ho ho at least.

Well, your favorite TV show soon be back. Studios make the writers an offer to end the current strike. We'll have details of that proposal ahead on AMERICAN MORNING.


ROBERTS: Coming up now to seven minutes before the top of the hour. If you're just joining us, here's a look at what's making headlines this morning.

We're following breaking news this morning out of turkey where an airliner went down. All 56 people on board are feared dead. The plane, an MD-80, was is in pieces, some of them quite large as rescue teams arrived at the scene. A spokesman for Atlasjet, (INAUDIBLE) aircraft, says it's still not clear why it went down, but the spokesman ruled out weather because it was quite good at the time.

A powerful earthquake hit the Caribbean today. The 7.4 magnitude quake was centered 40 miles northwest of Martinique. It was felt as far away as Puerto Rico and Venezuela. The quake lasted about 20 seconds and was long enough to crack roofs and leave cracks in buildings. Experts say the crack could have been a lot worse, but it struck 90 miles underwater.

Your favorite television shows may be back on the air soon. A new contract is on the table for Hollywood striking film and television writers. Studious presented the contract on Thursday offering $130 million in additional compensation for work shown on the Internet. That had been the sticking point in negotiations. Writers have requested a four-day recess to consider the proposal.

The bright lights are back on Broadway for the first time in nearly three weeks. The shows were back on as striking stagehands went back to work. As an incentive to fill the houses, theatergoers were able to get prime seats for many shows at just a fraction of the usual cost. New York City estimates it lost $38 million during the 19-day strike.

Live to the White House now, where at 28-foot banner for World AIDS Day. Its draped over the North Portico. It's going to stay there through tomorrow as the day President Bush has officially proclaimed World AIDS Day.

Kiran? CHETRY: 54 minutes past the hour. Ali Velshi "Minding Your Business" with some news on some big retailers right as we head into the shopping season.

ALI VELSHI, CNN CORRESPONDENT: No, we're in the middle of the holiday shopping season. Here's something you're not going to hear anyone say. I just went to Sears, and it was great. Sears profit for the third quarter coming in, 99 percent lower than the same time last year. Sears is, it's fair to say, a mess. Sears says that the problem is strong competition, which is kind of why we have business, economic concerns, and warmer than usual weather. Those are normal suspects.

What's really the problem at Sears? Been in one lately? Dowdy stores. They've cut back on their renovations. They're two slow to take markdowns. They're saddled with a whole bunch of old inventory that is now frankly out of date. And if you go into a Sears store versus going to a target franchise, which is a fun enjoy experience no matter where you are on the economic scale, Sears feels old. It's not really merchandised well. The average consumer is very smart about this.

When the gap was suffering through years of things not working out, you knew that. You'd go into a gap and say, why didn't you fold the stuff? And which one's girls? And which one's boys'? Sears is going through this problem. It is just dowdy. It was supposed to be turned around. Eddie Lambert (ph), that (INAUDIBLE) manager, he bought K-Mart back in 2003 on a bankruptcy. Sort of turn it around many months. Sears, supposed to turn that around, not working.

CHETRY: Yes. I still remember my dad used to go into Sears for tools and I always remember smell of rubber tires.

VELSHI: Diehard tool, craftsman too, diehard, batteries, tires, appliances. The biggest seller of appliances in the country. Guess what? We have a housing slowdown. People aren't renovating, they're not buying, not so good for appliances either.

ROBERTS: Even the tool section is getting a little bit dowdy.

VELSHI: Sears needs to decide, it's going to do something.

CHETRY: People go to home depot and lows for that stuff.

VELSHI: You just said that. Your dad used to do it. You see, that's what people tell me. My parents used to shop at Sears. We'll be back with more later.

CHETRY: All right. Thanks a lot.

Well, we still have a pregnant woman in Ohio allegedly thrown to the ground and tasered by a police officer. Well, now she is speaking out about what happened to her. We're going to hear from her ahead on AMERICAN MORNING.


ROBERTS: Breaking news. Dramatic new pictures of a deadly plane crash. This morning finding out what went wrong.

Power struggle. On the eve of elections, will the people's voice really be heard? Christiane Amanpour with a rare look inside Putin's Russia.

Plus hard hits. A new high tech way to tell if a player should come off the field on this AMERICAN MORNING. High technology, and it's helping out a lot apparently. We'll take a closer look at that. Friday, the 30th of November, thanks for being with us. I'm John Roberts.