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Winter Storm in Midwest; Straight Talk on Iraq: McCain Clarifies Remarks; Inside North Korea: A Family Story; The N.Y. Philharmonic Performs in North Korea

Aired February 26, 2008 - 06:00   ET


KIRAN CHETRY, CNN ANCHOR: But also a personal journey for our Alina.
JOHN ROBERTS, CNN ANCHOR: Well, you know, our viewers just watched a little more than an hour of that. It was pretty stunning to see the New York Philharmonic there, and they sounded so fantastic as well.

CHETRY: As always. They certainly do. Well, we could be in for some headaches today. Thanks to mother nature yet again.

ROBERTS: Absolutely.

CHETRY: A wintry mess.

ROBERTS: Yes. We begin this morning with a winter storm warning for parts of the Midwest this time. Indiana and Ohio bracing for snow, sleet and rain today. Illinois could see up to eight inches of snow in some areas by this afternoon, and air travelers are already feeling left out in the cold. More than 300 flights have been canceled at Chicago's O'Hare International Airport, and the airport is expecting major flight delays as the day progresses. Some other airports as well that are fed by O'Hare expecting delays.

Forty mile-an-hour winds could create whiteout conditions on the roads making driving extremely dangerous for morning commuters. The Department of Transportation got an early jump on the storm yesterday, putting dozens of trucks out on the street. Our Jacqui Jeras is at the extreme weather center in Atlanta tracking the storm for us. And what are we looking at for today, Jacqui?

JACQUI JERAS, AMERICAN MORNING METEOROLOGIST: Really an ugly mess if you're trying to travel, anywhere from Chicago into the northeastern corridor, down into the southeast. This is a big storm, and it's affecting millions of people today. The best thing I can tell you is that Chicago is starting to clear out. You still have some light snow. We're going to have some blowing and drifting, but watch for improvements as we head throughout the day.

Cleveland is going to be one of the worst locations in the nation today for your travel. It's going to be an ugly mess with heavy snow looking for quite a bit of accumulation. Now the northeast, we're just getting started here. The rain and the snow for the most part isn't going to hit until the afternoon hours when the worst of it will be arriving. But we're still already looking at some very low overcast conditions, and that's why we're anticipating airport delays to get started, probably after the 7:00 hour this morning.

Here's some of the worst places we're expecting the delays. New York City metros expecting delays over two hours because of low clouds and rain. Two hours in Atlanta because of thunderstorms. And Chicago because of the gusty winds and blowing snow. We're looking at delays of over an hour there, not to mention makeup from all the cancellations yesterday.

Severe weather moving through the deep south right now. A new severe thunderstorm watch has been issued here across parts of Central Alabama and also into much of Georgia. This includes the Atlanta metro area, and there is a line of severe storms coming through right now just in time for the big rush hour. We can expect to see 60 to 70-mile-per-hour winds with these storms as they blow on through -- John.

ROBERTS: That's an awfully big swathe of bad weather today. And Jacqui, thanks for the update. We'll go back to you and get some more on that this morning because it's a very important story we're following. Jacqui Jeras in the weather center. Jacqui, thanks -- Kiran.

CHETRY: An update on the presidential race for you. There are some new poll numbers out this morning, a week before the critical March 4th primaries. The March 4th primaries have Texas, Ohio going to the polls. Big, big delegate-rich states.

And according to the latest CNN/Opinion Research Corporation poll, Barack Obama has taken the lead over Hillary Clinton in Texas. Obama gaining two points since last week, and Hillary Clinton losing four points.

Also, according to our poll of polls, that's an average of three separate polls, Clinton still leads Obama 49 percent to 39 percent in Ohio. Ohio has 141 delegates at stake for the Democrats.

ROBERTS: When the Democrats debate tonight for the last time before the March 4th primaries, which Hillary Clinton is going to show up? After making nice at the last debate on CNN, Senator Clinton is taking aim at Senator Obama's credentials. With a speech on Monday in Washington, Clinton suggested that Obama has got a lot to learn about foreign policy.


SEN. HILLARY CLINTON (D-NY), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: The American people don't have to guess whether I understand the issues, or whether I would need a foreign policy instruction manual to guide me through a crisis, or whether I'd have to rely on advisers to introduce me to global affairs.


ROBERTS: The Obama camp returned fire saying Clinton's vote to authorize the war in Iraq shows her failed judgment on international issues. Obama has also accused Clinton of flip flopping on NAFTA, the North American Free Trade Agreement. He claims that she fought for the deal along with her husband back in 1993 and has now changed her position. Last night, David Gergen, who worked in the Clinton White House, told CNN's Anderson Cooper that was not the case.


DAVID GERGEN, CNN. SR. POLITICAL ANALYST: I was actually there in the Clinton White House during the NAFTA fight. And I must tell you, Hillary Clinton was extremely unenthusiastic about NAFTA. She -- and I think that's putting it mildly. I'm not sure how she objected to all the provisions of it. She just didn't see why her husband, why that White House had to go do that fight. She was very unhappy about it, wanted to move on to health care.


ROBERTS: Both Senators Clinton and Obama have sharpened their criticism of NAFTA in Ohio, where trade and job losses are major issues.

No firm answer today about who sent around this photograph of Barack Obama wearing traditional African clothes during a trip to Kenya back in 2006. The photo was posted online with claims that it was being circulated by Clinton staffers. The Clinton campaign says it didn't know about the photograph and didn't authorize its release. Obama has been fighting false rumors that he's a Muslim. Obama says he is a Christian and has never been a Muslim -- Kiran.

CHETRY: Some blunt talk this morning from the straight talk express. Senator John McCain says his chances of winning the White House this November may well depend on the success of U.S. policy in Iraq. Yesterday, McCain tried to clarify some of the remarks he made last month, suggesting that U.S. troops might be in for 100 years in Iraq. A remark that Democrats pounced on.


SEN. JOHN MCCAIN (R-AZ), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: By the way, that reminds me of this 100-year thing. I was asked at a town hall meeting back and forth how long would we have a presence in Iran. My friends, the war will be over soon. The war for all intents and purposes, although the insurgency will go on for years and years and years, but it will be handled by the Iraqis, not by us.


CHETRY: CNN's Dana Bash following the McCain camp, joins us from Cleveland this morning. Good morning, Dana.

DANA BASH, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Good morning, Kiran. I think what was most interesting about what you just heard from John McCain in this town hall yesterday is that he was not asked about that 100-years comment that he made back in New Hampshire. He was just asked a general question by a voter in a town hall about progress in Iraq. And he thought, well, you know, I'm going to use this as an opportunity to clarify that comment, because as you said, Democrats have been all over him and it really speaks to where we are right now in terms of the debate and where we are in terms of the calendar.

Because John McCain is the first to admit that he did well and came back from the political dead last summer because of the fact that things turned around on the ground in Iraq, because his -- he has backed the military strategy and he really is so associated with that. You know, and I asked him shortly after that town hall, about the fact that he realizes how important what's going on in the ground is, as to what's going on in his personal political life.


SEN. JOHN MCCAIN (R-AZ), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I think that clearly my fortunes have a lot to do with what's happened in Iraq, and I'm proud of that because Senator Clinton and Senator Obama said that we could not succeed militarily. We have. They said we could not succeed politically. We have. I think that the American people will recognize that, and we will continue to succeed in Iraq.


BASH: And that came after a couple of minutes on his bus with reporters yesterday where he actually went as far as saying that he will lose. He will lose the nomination or he will lose actually the election in November if he can't convince Americans that things are better on the ground in Iraq.

It really is fascinating to see, Kiran, the reality that he did a pretty good job of appealing to Republicans in the primary season as somebody who was on the right side of this debate all along. But he realizes just in the words he used yesterday and in the actions that we're seeing behind the scenes that it is going to be quite different to try to convince the general public, which is a lot more war weary, especially when you look at states like where I am right now in Ohio, that he's on the right side of the war in Iraq when he's up against two Democrats, whichever gets the nomination, who are very, very vehemently against this war.

CHETRY: Dana Bash for us in Cleveland this morning, thank you.

ROBERTS: In a country where people are forced to listen to pre- tuned radio stations, musical history was made this morning. Our national anthem being played in Pyongyang. The New York Philharmonic Orchestra is performing right now in North Korea's capital, playing both the U.S. and the North Korean national anthems along with music by Gershwin and Dvorak. It is the largest culture group to ever perform in the country from the United States.

Our Alina Cho is inside North Korea on a very personal mission, and she'll join in just a few minutes time.

Meantime, Veronica de la Cruz here with other stories new this morning. Good morning to you.

VERONICA DE LA CRUZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Good morning to you, John, Kiran. And good morning to all of you out there.

The Senate is expected to vote today on a proposal to order troops home within 120 days. That vote is expected to fail. However, Democratic Senator Russ Feingold is planning to keep pushing bills designed to cut war funding.

And in the meantime, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi says the troop buildup in Iraq is not temporary. She made the comments after a recent Pentagon projection showed about 8,000 more troops will stay in Iraq this summer than expected. Top commanders say that number could change if security on the ground improves.

And the marine corps is asking the Pentagon to investigate allegations that blast-resistant trucks aren't being sent to the front lines in Iraq quick enough. One critic accusing marines of mismanagement, saying the delay has led to hundreds of combat deaths. According to an internal report, cost was a driving factor in the decision to turn down an urgent request from battlefield commanders for MRAP three years ago.

Pakistan managed to take down YouTube across the globe Sunday. The two-hour blackout happened after Pakistan tried to restrict only its own citizens from accessing the popular video sharing site. The government insists the ban is needed to block offensive material that could spark deadly violence.

And new numbers to tell you about out this morning, showing the nation's home foreclosure crisis is getting worse. The number of homes and foreclosure jumped 57 percent in January. That's according to lender network, Realty Track; 233,000 homes got at least one notice last month about overdue payments.

From the Oscars -- made history on Sunday night but not for something good. According to preliminary research, ratings for the three-hour show sunk to an all-time low, averaging just 32 million viewers. Oscars' previous low was back in 2003 when the show coincided with the start of the Iraq war.

And that's what is new this morning. We're going to send it back to John and Kiran. You know, I was reading the analysts were blaming the war, again, and also the fact that there weren't a lot of movies out that appealed to a general audience. I mean, I really saw "Juno."


CHETRY: Right. There were no big blockbusters this year.


CHETRY: No "Lord of the Rings" type situation.

DE LA CRUZ: Exactly.

CHETRY: But also, I wonder if the writers strike had anything to do with it.

DE LA CRUZ: I'm sure.

CHETRY: I mean, a lot of people felt like, don't get your hopes up because the show might not even go on like we're normally used to seeing it.



DE LA CRUZ: And then people were kind of blindsided by it.

ROBERTS: I wanted to see -- I wanted to see "No Country for Old Men" and couldn't find it in a theater anywhere.

DE LA CRUZ: Yes. Good point.

ROBERTS: So -- yes.

CHETRY: I'll try to get it for you, or I could re-enact it.

ROBERTS: Why don't you re-enact it?

DE LA CRUZ: Yes, I'd like to see that.

CHETRY: Thanks, Veronica.

There's a new study that says about half of teens are less likely to understand famous historical references. Out of 1,217 year-olds, only 52 percent knew George Orwell's 1984 dealt with Big Brother. Just 51 percent knew McCarthyism referred to Senator Joseph McCarthy and the communist scare, and even less knew about the Civil War. Only 43 percent knew that it was fought between 1850 and 1900.

Not all hope is lost though. The study's author say that kids can text message -- I'm kidding -- that kids do well on topics regularly covered in school. Ninety-seven percent knew "I Have a Dream" was Martin Luther King, Jr.'s famous speech. The authors say that more focus needs to be put on humanities and liberal arts.

ROBERTS: Everybody knows what Big Brother is now. It's that CBS series, which holds these people in the house.

CHETRY: Right.

ROBERTS: You're watching the "Most News in the Morning."

Break in case of extreme emergency. It's called the doomsday vault. Thirty-five million seeds buried in cold storage way up north. How they could one day save the world.

And after a historic concert in North Korea this morning, our Alina Cho shares her personal stories of the impact that the Korean War on her family.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) ALINA CHO, CNN CORRESPONDENT: My 90-year-old grandmother says food was scarce. She starved so her children could eat. It is only the second time I've ever seen my dad cry.


ROBERTS: We've got more of Alina's touching story coming up.

And storm warnings up in the Midwest. A messy travel day on tap for drivers and flyers. We're tracking all of the extreme weather, and a live shot there from Chicago this morning. We've got that for you ahead on AMERICAN MORNING.


ROBERTS: Fifteen minutes after the hour, and take a look here. New pictures just in of a monumental musical performance. The New York Philharmonic Orchestra playing a historic concert in Pyongyang, North Korea. It is the first American orchestra to ever play in that country. Broadcast live on state-run CVN (ph) Radio, including "The Star Spangled Banner" and Gershwin's "An American in Paris."

The delegation of nearly 300 people made the trip to Pyongyang. It is the largest American presence in the country since the Korean War ended more than 50 years ago. And our Alina Cho traveled with the orchestra. She joins us live from the hall where the concert just wrapped up. And Alina, a pretty extraordinary musical and diplomatic event there.

ALINA CHO, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Oh, in so many ways, John. Good evening from Pyongyang. I should mention right off the top that the man known as the dear leader, the general, Kim Jong-Il, was not in the audience tonight, but that did not take away from the performance. The New York Philharmonic literally just walked off the stage behind me. There was standing ovation. There was laughter. There was cheering. Really, a remarkable 90-minute concert, during which there was great symbolism.

Both the North Korean national anthem and "The Star Spangled Banner," Gershwin's "An American in Paris," and the finale, "Arirang," the most well-known Korean folk song famous on both sides of the DMZ. Really historic in so many ways, the first American orchestra to play here in North Korea. The largest American delegation to come to Pyongyang since the end of the Korean War. That conflict ended in 1953 with so many tens of thousands of Korean families torn apart, including my own.


CHO (voice-over): Looking at my parents today, you would never know how much they've suffered. They are survivors of the Korean War.

JAI CHO, ALINA'S FATHER: All of this wasn't here at that time.

CHO: Much of their story I'm hearing and seeing for the first time. There are people I'm meeting for the first time, too, like this man, who my father says taught him how to farm during the war to help feed the family. My dad was just 13.

J. CHO: How are we going to survive? You know, having enough food to eat, having enough firewood to, you know, warm the house.

CHO: After the North Korean army invaded Seoul in 1950, my dad's family fled the city and walked here to the countryside. It took them four days.

My 90-year-old grandmother says food was scarce. She starved so her children could eat. It is only the second time I've ever seen my dad cry. Today looks totally different. My mom was only seven when the war broke out. She remembers hearing North Korean soldiers marching outside her home. Her family was afraid, especially for her older sister, because those soldiers were kidnapping girls in their teens. But only the healthy ones. So my mom's sister deliberately starved herself.

KIM CHO, ALINA'S MOTHER: She was thin, you know, and sick.

CHO: She and the rest of my mom's family survived, but the fate of two of my dad's uncles, to this day, is still unknown. They disappeared during the war. No one is quite sure if they were kidnapped or defected because they were never seen again.

K. CHO: Hope you can find -- hope a miracle happens.

CHO: Which brings me here to North Korea.

CHO (on camera): Being here in Pyongyang has been an extraordinary experience for me personally. I know I have relatives here in North Korea somewhere. That's why every time I look at somebody, I can't help wondering, could I be related to them? I also can't help thinking, if things had been just a little bit different I could be living here, too.

CHO (voice-over): The North Korean government says there is just not enough time. This time to find the lost uncles. My government guide, Mr. Jang (ph), told me he has sadness for the separated Korean families.

CHO (on camera): It's sad, isn't it?

CHO (voice-over): He said if I come back, maybe I'll have better luck then.


CHO: When I came here to North Korea, I never in my mind believed that I'd actually be able to meet my father's two uncles, but certainly in my heart I held out hope. So in that sense, it has been a bit of a sad moment for me. But remember, the story of my family is really a classic Korean story. There have been some family reunions over the years, most notably in the year 2000. But those reunions are unique because those relatives were able to see each other but only once. So, John, in that sense those family reunions were not only highly and extraordinarily emotional, they were also bittersweet -- John.

ROBERTS: Really, really a touching story, Alina. And as you mentioned, one that could be repeated thousands of times across North and South Korea as people try to, you know, reconnect with families that have been separated for so long.

CHETRY: And an opportunity for Alina that many don't get, which is amazing.

ROBERTS: Yes. And we should reiterate to people, too, while hostilities ended back in the 1950s, they're still technically in a state of war. They only signed an armistice of cease-fire. So that's the reason why there's, you know, so much division between North and South Korea.

CHETRY: Right. Wow.

Brought a tear to my eye when she said the first time. Why do I have to ever see my father cry? Very emotional.


ROBERTS: Pretty incredible.

CHETRY: Great work, Alina. And, of course, you can check our Web site, Also, follow Alina's journey as she continues to report from North Korea.

Still ahead as one of the most popular stories on, something called the Noah's Ark for plants. It's a plant burying millions of seeds in the arctic as a last resort to save the planet. Now, the seed bank is being dubbed the doomsday vault. There's a look at it right now.

They're collected from varieties of crops from around the world to maintain the food supply and to preserve the human race in the event of any type of global catastrophe.


CARY FOWLER, GLOBAL CROP DIVERSITY TRUST: What we're trying to do is freeze the seeds because if you want to conserve them for a long time, you simply freeze them. So we found the coldest spot in the mountain where it's naturally below freezing, and will be even worst case climate change scenario 200 years from now.


CHETRY: But can they outsmart mother nature? The first seeds are being buried today, and our Becky Anderson is watching the whole thing live in Norway. She's going to be joining us with more details in our next half hour.

And still ahead, a surprising number of Americans are willing to walk away from the fate they were raised in. Maybe join a new religion. We're going to tell you about a dramatic new trend, one of the first-ever comprehensive studies on religion in America ahead on AMERICAN MORNING.


CHETRY: Welcome back to AMERICAN MORNING. 6:25 right now here on the East Coast. But Ali Velshi is not on the East Coast. He is "Minding Your Business" this morning from Laredo, Texas, touring the state on CNN's Election Express. He's meeting voters on the ground, talking to them about what matters most when it comes to our nation's economy. And, of course, all of this ahead of the big March 4th primary in Texas. You are in Laredo, known as the town that NAFTA built. Hey, Ali.

ALI VELSHI, CNN SENIOR BUSINESS CORRESPONDENT: It's a fascinating place. Kiran, it's with great sadness that I have left the cowboys and the cowboy hat behind after a few days on the weekend. But now, we are in a whole different kind of place. Texas really is a whole country in one state. And I'm in one of the border towns -- Laredo, El Paso, Brownsville, McAllen -- those are the other major border cities in Mexico. And between them, 1.8 million people live in them. There are other crossings, but these are the major commercial crossings.

Now, we're here in Laredo in this quaint little square with, you know, historic buildings around us. But, in fact, about two blocks to either side of me are two major bridges that go into the United States. More than 10,000 trucks per day cross between the United States and Mexico carrying freight between those two countries. That accounts for about 38 percent of all the trade between those two countries, which means that the issues here in Laredo and this area of southern Texas are NAFTA and trade. Immigration is a major issue, and gas prices are a big deal around here.

We spent some time last night talking to some truckers. We're going to tell you what they had to say to us about the trucking and freight industry and about gasoline prices. A little early here in the square in Laredo, so we don't have people walking around just yet. But we will very shortly. We'll be talking to them as well. So we're in Laredo today getting a flavor for what people in Texas are thinking in these border states -- Kiran.

CHETRY: Sounds good, Ali. We'll check in with you throughout the morning about it. And sorry to see that you're not bottle-feeding a buffalo this morning but, you know, a new day brings something new.

VELSHI: A surprise.

CHETRY: Thanks.

ROBERTS: Have you changed your religion or dropped out of your faith all together? A Pew study out today shows that nearly half of Americans, 44 percent, have changed their religious affiliation, leaving the one that they were raised in. Fifty-one percent of people say that they are Protestant, but that number is declining. Seventy- eight percent of Americans are Christians. Evangelicals, the largest denomination, and Catholics the next largest. Which brings us to this morning's "Quick Vote" question, about Americans making a leap of faith. Have you made a change, kept the faith or called it quits? Cast your vote at We will have the first tally of votes coming up later on in this hour.

CHETRY: Well, you're watching the "Most News in the Morning." A winter storm in the Midwest could be a major headache for air travelers across the country, and it's not easy on the roads, either. Check out the plows working overtime in many cities. We're tracking the extreme weather, letting you know where you can expect to see some of the biggest problems today and also the flight delays for you coming up.

And speaking of flying, risk in the air. You heard about this story. A passenger died in flight. He was asking for oxygen, and her family members say that the airline did not do enough to save her, that those tanks were empty. What can you expect an airline to do for you if you get ill during a flight? We're going to talk about that and have today's headlines when AMERICAN MORNING comes right back.


JOHN ROBERTS, CNN ANCHOR: Live pictures this morning from Atlanta. If we stay on this long enough, you probably get a chance to see some lightning. A lot of heavy, heavy storms moving into the area. And you know what that means, most likely delays at Hartsfield International Airport. One of the busiest airports in the country. So many people fly out of there.

We're keeping our eye on all of the bad weather for you on this Tuesday, the 26th of February. Welcome back to AMERICAN MORNING. There you go.



ROBERTS: I was trying to stretch it out.

CHETRY: All right. Well, we got it for you. Just a brief bullet though, but a blast of winter in the Midwest this morning. A storm that can dump nearly a foot of snow in some places making air travel and travel on the roadways a bit of a mess today. Where is this storm and this system heading?

Well, CNN's Jacqui Jeras tracking extreme weather for us. She also has the flight delays from the weather desk in Atlanta. And Rob Marciano is on the ground in Chicago for us. We start this morning with Rob.

Hey, what's it like out there?

ROB MARCIANO, CNN METEOROLOGIST: Well, it is snowing and it is blowing. It's cold and miserable. It's been like that for a good chunk of the winter here in Chicago. They have seen almost twice as much snow as they normally do this season. So again, a little bit winter weary here in Chicago, no matter how tough and hard they are.

Check this out, Chicago River frozen over a little bit there trying to get over to Lake Michigan. We are right downtown Chicago on the magnificent mile, their equivalent of 5th Avenue. And it is a spectacular site. But that right there, pretty much says it all. The wind blowing, the snow coming down and ice on the river.

Life does go on here in downtown Chicago, because we are in the city, because we are close to the lake. You know, it is pretty much just wet. Got about four to five inches of snow last night. Traffic is moving, so that's not going to be too much of an issue. But obviously O'Hare one of the busiest, if not the busiest airport in the country, united a huge, huge hub there.

There is this ongoing battle between Chicago-O'Hare and Atlanta, as far as which one is the busiest and ironically enough, these are the two spots that are going to see, well, the worst weather. So that's going to be the rough go. And Jacqui Jeras will have more on that.

Kiran, back up to you.

All right, Rob Marciano for us out there in the windy city. And as you said, boy, they're getting more than their share this season. Thanks, Rob.

ROBERTS: Bad effect. Let's go south to Atlanta. Check in with Jacqui Jeras at the weather update desk there tracking extreme weather and flight delays caused by a storm that's moving into the Atlanta area.

Good morning, Jacqui.


CHETRY: New this morning. Congress could be going after Roger Clemens. "The New York Times" reports that a House Committee has referred Clemens to the Justice Department to investigate whether he committed perjury during his testimony two weeks ago. The pitching star told the committee that he has never used performance-enhancing drugs, but then his former trainer Brian McNamee and his former teammate Andy Pettitte contradicted that testimony.

There is also a hearing today on Capitol Hill that will focus on food safety. The heads of several major food companies are expected to appear. Steve Mendell, CEO of Westland-Hallmark Meat Company refused to appear and voluntarily might be subpoenaed. Why?

Well, that's the company where 143 million pounds of meat produced by them were called earlier this month after video surfaced showing potentially sick cows being dragged, and in some cases pushed with fork lifts into the slaughterhouse. Obviously, against regulation.

German treasure hunters resume their search today for gold that they believe was buried by the Nazis. Geological readings at the site in Northeastern Germany located a cave ten yards underground possibly containing precious metals. The treasure hunter has contend the Nazis buried nearly two tons of gold in a mountain when it became clear they were going to lose World War II. The expedition was halted last week due to safety concerns.

A Tampa police officer escaped serious injury despite being dragged -- there you see it -- four blocks by the driver of a suspected stolen car. The police helicopter was what was able to capture that on videotape.

The driver sped off during a traffic stop. The police officer caught in the passenger side door. The officer eventually was able to free himself, fell on to the pavement. Only minor scrapes and bruises, even though that car is going pretty fast. The driver now charged with several felonies including attempted murder of a police officer.


ROBERTS: Wow! That's pretty extraordinary. The video looks like it's the infrared that what they called FLIR, Forward Looking Image Infrared, from the helicopter there. Wow! Incredible. Lucky he wasn't killed.

American Airlines is rebutting claims about its response to a medical emergency. This is a story that we first told you about yesterday. 44-year-old Carine Desir died on Friday on a flight from Haiti to New York. A relative say the crew was slow to respond and treated her with an empty oxygen tank and faulty defibrillator.

Let's bring in AMERICAN MORNING's legal analyst, Sunny Hostin.

What sort of protections do people have if they are flying, then they get ill?

SUNNY HOSTIN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, you know, we've heard a lot about the Airline Passenger's Bill of Rights, that a little bit different. But the FAA we spoke with this morning, the spokeswoman said that commercial flights always have to have no fewer than two oxygen tanks and they have to have this defibrillator.

We know, at least, the defibrillator was available, they tried it on her, it was working, but there is a bit of dispute as to whether or not the oxygen tanks were full. Whether or not they were working and I think, John, what's very interesting is that the doctor on board that started to help said the defibrillator was available but I can't confirm whether or not the oxygen tanks had the level of oxygen necessary. And I think that's very telling here.

ROBERTS: Officials from American Airlines have responded to the accusations coming from Desir's Family. They said, quote, "American Airlines can say oxygen was administered and the automatic external defibrillator was applied. We stand behind the actions and training of our crew and the functionality of the on-board medical equipment."

And as you pointed out, this is a far different story than Desir and their attorneys are telling us.

HOSTIN: That's right.

ROBERTS: Saying that the two oxygen tanks were empty, the automatic external defibrillator did not work correctly. If it's down that there was some deficiency in the medical equipment available on- board that aircraft, is American Airlines liable?

HOSTIN: I think they're going to be liable. There is no question if that is what is found. We know that there is going to be a lawsuit. And we have two different sides of the story. We have the American Airlines story. Now, we have the family's story. I think there is no question that this happens in lawsuit, John. That's why things go to trouble because you have different sides of what happened.

But I think typically, you know, someone doesn't have the duty to help out but it's the same as if a doctor sees someone on the side of the road, that doctor doesn't have to stop. But once the doctor stops and starts helping out, if that doctor is negligent, there is liability here. The airline was supposed to have certain medical equipment on-board, they started to help and that medical equipment, if found faulty, will lead to liability here.

ROBERTS: Does the fact that she was found to have died from natural causes, heart disease, and you could make the case that even if you applied all the medicine in the world, she still might have died. Does that protect the airline from some liability?

HOSTIN: I don't think so. You know, my husband's a doctor and we were talking about this late last night. He was saying this sort of dying of natural causes is a very, very vague, vague determination. And what we really going to have to look at is the facts in this case. She was complaining that she could not breathe right before she died. Her cousin is saying she said, "I can't breathe," and we know that there were doctors on board.

So, there's going to be testimony and depositions and all that sort of thing. But at the bottom -- at the end of the day, this woman who died on the airline and it is quite possible that American Airlines is going to be liable.

ROBERTS: So bottom line, there is still a lot more to be heard about this.

HOSTIN: And we're going to hear a lot more about it. No question.

ROBERTS: All right. Sunny, thanks very much. Good to see you this morning.

HOSTIN: Thank you.

ROBERTS: It's one of the most popular stories on right now. Should you fly if you're not feeling well? We're asking our Dr. Sanjay Gupta about what medical conditions are especially dangerous in the air. That's coming up at the top of the hour.


CHETRY: Well, Ohio is a possible make-or-break state in the presidential race. The Democrats debate in Ohio tonight. And why NAFTA is on everyone's lips. We're going to take a look at some of the big economic issues affecting that state and how it could affect voters.

And planning a seed at the top of the world. Our Becky Anderson live in far northern Norway at what's known as the Dooms Day Vault. What's being saved for future generations in the event of a huge global disaster? That's ahead on AMERICAN MORNING.


CHETRY: Welcome back to the most news in the morning. There's word in from the AP this morning that former Democratic presidential candidate Senator Chris Dodd is going to endorse Barack Obama. He's going to do that today in Ohio. And speaking of that state, we're just one week away to the primaries in Ohio, as well as Texas, Rhode Island and Vermont.

And tonight it's the final debate taking place between the Democratic candidates, Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton. Happening in Cleveland. And the economy is a major issue. In fact, both candidates blaming NAFTA. The North American Free Trade Agreement which critics say led to job loss in many states like Ohio.



SEN. BARACK OBAMA (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: We thought it was a bad idea, because it didn't provide enough protections from labor and environment.

CLINTON: I will revise and reform NAFTA and every single trade agreement that we have in America.

OBAMA: One million jobs have been lost because of NAFTA, including 50,000 jobs here in Ohio.


CHETRY: Well, Sabrina Eaton is covering the debate tonight for "The Cleveland Plain Dealer," the paper there. Sabrina, good morning and thanks for being with us.


CHETRY: If you can explain in a nutshell what impact, NAFTA, this trade agreement, has had and how many people feel about it in the state of Ohio. EATON: Well, in a nutshell, NAFTA is a four-letter word in northeast Ohio anyway. A lot of jobs have been lost here. When NAFTA was signed, there was an idea that other jobs would come in to replace it. Jobs that were kind of less heavy grunt work and manufacturing. That really hasn't materialized.

So, there is a lot of unemployment here. The economy is not as good as it was. It's created a lot of economic anxiety about just generally. You know, health care costs, the cost of everything, gas costs are up. You know, because the employment base isn't what it was.

CHETRY: And it's interesting because the polling showing right now at least, the latest poll of polls from Ohio has Hillary Clinton with a ten-point lead over Barack Obama right now. It's a 49 percent Clinton, 39 percent Obama. 12 percent, though, still saying they are undecided. So there is a window there. Is there any residual blame of Hillary over NAFTA since it was put into place under her husband's administration?

EATON: I don't believe that people are looking at Hillary Clinton and you know, hanging that albatross around her neck. However, I know that, you know, there has been a lot of back-and-forth about NAFTA. I believe the Obama campaign put out a mailer that cited some remarks that Clinton -- Hillary Clinton is disputing that she said, favoring NAFTA. So basically linking someone with NAFTA here is not a good thing.

CHETRY: Right. Ohio losing 200,000 jobs since 2000. You have an unemployment rate that's actually a full point higher than the rest of the nation. And the median household income, nearly $4,000 lower than the national average. So as we take a look at that and we see the struggles, also home foreclosures are pretty high in Ohio as well. I think, the third highest right now, what are people wanting to hear from the candidates?

EATON: I think they want to hear how they're going to get the economy around here, back on its feet. And I think people want to hear specific proposals. They're not interested in pie in the sky. They want to know how, you know, how jobs will be restored to this area.

CHETRY: You know, John McCain campaigning in Michigan got a little bit of flack from Mitt Romney at the time for saying, you know what? Sometimes, you have to face reality and face the fact that certain jobs may not be coming back. I wonder how his message is playing in Ohio where he said, you know, one of the ways to make sure that jobs stay is to cut taxes.

EASTON: Well, I think nobody really likes paying high taxes. However, you know, McCain isn't -- I mean, he's been campaigning a fair amount in Ohio. And I guess that will kind of heat up more in the general election. But he doesn't really have much of a race here. I think, you know, you were citing some poll numbers. He's by far, far, far ahead of his competitors but there is just not as much excitement in the GOP field as there is about the Democratic race. It's because the Democratic race is so much more tight.

CHETRY: And also it is getting a little nasty. In fact, there is a big flap to-do taking place over a picture that was circulating. It's Barack Obama. He's wearing -- I believe it is in a trip to Kenya, where he is wearing traditional garb. Let show the picture. There it is. And his campaign is claiming and accusing the Clinton team of circulating this.

The Obama camp firing back and saying this is dirty politics. How is that playing in Ohio? Do voters care about some of this behind-the-scenes negativity that seems to be going on between the two campaigns?

EATON: I think people regard it as childish, but somewhat entertaining. And I would hope that, you know, a silly picture of Barack Obama isn't going to necessarily alter people's perception.

CHETRY: Perhaps not of him, but of the Clintons?

EATON: I mean, has the origin of that photo been conclusively traced to the Clintons? I can tell you that as a reporter I get a lot of negative e-mails about both candidates from Republicans. Because, you know, they want to tarnish them both prior to the November election. So I mean, I just don't know where the picture came from. Nobody has handed it to me personally.

CHETRY: All right. I got you. All right, well, Sabrina Eaton with "The Cleveland Plain Dealer." We'll be watching that debate tonight. It should be very interesting. Thanks for joining us this morning.

EATON: I will be blogging it. Thanks.

ROBERTS: Coming up now to ten minutes to the top of the hour. You're watching the most news in the morning. Ahead, details of a plan to pack away enough seeds to grow food for everyone. Just in case of Armageddon. We'll take you to the Doomsday Vault in Norway, coming up next.

Better enjoy your Wheaties in your toast, because the price of wheat went up dramatically on Monday. What's behind the rise and how much will it cost for your breakfast and more. That's ahead on AMERICAN MORNING.


ROBERTS: It is being called The Doomsday Vault and someday it could help save the world. The vault is buried under earth and ice in one of the northern-most spots in the world. And soon to be lock inside millions and millions of seeds. The first batch started arriving today. CNN's Becky Anderson is live this morning in Svalbard, Norway where it is really, really cold. How cold is it and what are you seeing there, Becky?

BECKY ANDERSON, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, it's more than minus 20, maybe minus 25. We're just a couple of degrees shy here of the North Pole, right up in the Arctic Circle. And we are here, as you say, for a very special reason, John.


ANDERSON (voice-over): In a feasible place it may be, it's precisely this spot's inaccessibility that makes it perfect for project that could just safeguard human existence for thousands of years to come.

This 100-meter tunnel connects us with a series of vaults where 4.5 million seed samples will eventually be stored. It's the brainchild of Cary Fowler, one of the world's leading agricultural scientists.

CARY FOWLER, EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR GLOBAL CROP DIVERSITY TRUST: What we are trying to do is freeze the seeds, because if you want to conserve them for a long time, you just simply freeze them. So, we found the coldest spot in the mountain, where it's naturally below freezing and will be even in worst-case climate change scenario 200 years from now.

ANDERSON: Should global catastrophe happen, he's confident the world's food supply will be safe, deep-frozen inside this mountain.

FOWLER: And that's what we're going to do. We're going to freeze the world's agriculture heritage.

ANDERSON: Full, safe protection for one of the most important natural resources in the world.

For the cold kills everything in here. Even the camera is finding it difficult to take. It's minus 15 at the moment. How much colder will it get, Cary?

FOWLER: It will go down to about minus 20.

ANDERSON: It wouldn't kill the seeds though?

FOWLER: No. The seeds like it that way.

ANDERSON: And they'll be on these shelves like these here?

FOWLER: Yes. We'll have samples of about 1.5 million different crop varieties sitting on the shelves here. The seeds can be conserved here for hundreds of thousands of years.


ANDERSON: And samples like this, John, in aluminum envelope like this are 500 seeds per envelope. There will be something like 2.5 billion seeds in that vault behind me within a couple of years. And the idea being that this is the last line of defense against the extinction of all crops. And as I said in that piece, should global catastrophe happen, hopefully, the world's crops are going to be staying frozen as it were in that arctic mountain behind me.

Funded by the Norwegian government to the tune of about $9 million. You got the international community here just minutes ago for the inauguration of this ceremony. It's a fantastic project they've set up here. We'll be the last people up here (OFF MIKE) for the perfect spot for freezing the agricultural heritage for thousands of years going forward.


ROBERTS: And let's hope that it remains just a good idea and is never actually put into practical use. Becky Anderson for us in a very, very chilly Svalbard, Norway this morning.

Wow! It looks like it's really cold up there.

CHETRY: Yes. It's amazing what they're doing there with that Doomsday Vault.

ROBERTS: Isn't it? Seeds from all over the world coming there just in case. But if the worst happens, who goes and opens the vault?

CHETRY: Hopefully, we'll leave that to the people that are here, after all, we're long gone.


CHETRY: Hey, you know, I was wondering if we could quickly take a look at our "Quick Vote" question and our "Quick Vote" results today. We asked the question about religion based on whether or not people -- based on this new study that came out by the Pew Research Group doing a huge study on religion in the United States.

And we asked, "Have you changed it?" Leap of faith. Have you made a change, kept the faith, or called it quits. Right now, we have 17 percent of you saying that you have -- 19 percent now saying that you have changed religions; 26 percent saying you stayed with the religion that you were born into, and 54 percent of you saying you've called it quits.

ROBERTS: That's a pretty extraordinary number. 54 percent say that they have just left religion all together.

CHETRY: We're going to be talking a little bit later in our next hour about that study and some of the implications of it, coming up.

Also, the Democratic National Committee chairman taking aim at John McCain. That's right. Howard Dean. He's going to be live with us. How he's going after the competition, ahead on AMERICAN MORNING.