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American Airlines Canceling More Flights; Looking for Answers: Pentagon Roundtable

Aired April 11, 2008 - 11:00   ET


TONY HARRIS, CNN ANCHOR: Good morning again. Good Friday to you, everyone. You're informed with CNN.
I'm Tony Harris.

BETTY NGUYEN, CNN ANCHOR: And I'm Betty Nguyen, sitting in for Heidi Collins.

HARRIS: Developments keep coming in to the CNN NEWSROOM on Friday, the 11th of April. Here is what's on the rundown.

NGUYEN: A fugitive Marine captured in Mexico. The mother of the murdered victim speaking out just a short time ago on CNN.

HARRIS: A blizzard on the high plains, severe storms in the South. Extreme weather gripping much of the country.

NGUYEN: Oh, and it's another bumpy day for American Airlines' passengers -- 570 flights canceled -- in the NEWSROOM.

HARRIS: And we start this hour with Iraq. Several developments to tell you about. In the war zone, U.S. air strikes kill a dozen suspected insurgents. Those strikes in Baghdad and Basra over the last 24 hours.

And the U.S. military says Iraqi soldiers have found a grave with 33 bodies at a house south of Baghdad. They think the bodies have been there more an year.

Also word today from Shiite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr's office. A top aide to al-Sadr has been killed, gunned down today in Najaf.

And this just moments ago from Defense Secretary Robert Gates. He says he doubts radical Shiite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr would be subject to arrest by U.S. forces. Al-Sadr wants the U.S. out of Iraq. He is believed to be in Iran. His Mehdi army has been fighting Iraqi forces in the Sadr City section of Baghdad.

We will get a live report from CNN's Jamie McIntyre at the Pentagon later this hour.

NGUYEN: Well, American Airlines canceling more flights today. And that means more stranded passengers.

Our Susan Roesgen has that.


ANDREW TOUPIS, STRANDED PASSENGER: I was unable to get a hold of the airline to find out if my exactly flight was canceled. So got here and it was canceled.

SUSAN ROESGEN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice over): We tried to help Andrew Toupis save his family reunion. But when we left him at the American Airlines counter, it didn't look good. Thousand of passengers again were stranded.

(on camera): Could you have given them advance notice?

MARY FRANCES FAGEN, AMERICAN AIRLINES: We gave them as much notice we could give them.

ROESGEN: American says it had to comply with what it calls technical issues raised by the FAA involving wiring in the wheel wells. But the FAA gave American and other airlines using MD-80s a warning about the problem in 2006.

SEN. CHARLES SCHUMER (D), NEW YORK: The U.S. economy can't afford to have one of its major airlines just shut down for days. And the FAA took no interest in enforcing these regulations until it surfaced that FAA employees were turning a blind eye to some flagrant violations.

ROESGEN: Those flagrant violations were brought to light by CNN's Drew Griffin, investigating lax inspections by the FAA on Southwest airplanes. But no comfort for passengers like Dora Toupis, whose husband never did get the flight they wanted to the family reunion.

DORA TOUPIS, STRANDED PASSENGER: You know, you just feel completely helpless. And, you know, there's not much you can do. I mean, we are at their mercy basically, you know.

ROESGEN (on camera): I hope you get home.

D. TOUPIS: Thank you.

ROESGEN: About 50 other airlines, both domestic and international, fly MD-80s, but American has the most -- nearly a third of its fleet.

Susan Roesgen, CNN, Chicago.


NGUYEN: Well, another airliner also in trouble. Frontier Airlines filing for bankruptcy, saying it has a cash flow problem. The Denver-based carrier promising business as usual while it shores up its finances. Frontier says passengers will still fly and employees still have their jobs.




HARRIS: Looking for answers, reporters question Defense Secretary Robert Gates and Joints Chiefs chairman Admiral Michael Mullen.

Live now to CNN Senior Pentagon Correspondent Jamie McIntyre.

Jamie, we've been waiting for you all morning. Boy, tell us what the secretary had to say this morning.

JAMIE MCINTYRE, CNN SR. PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT: Well, right out of the box, Tony, he tried to reduce the daylight between himself and his boss, the commander in chief, President Bush, explaining further his remarks yesterday, his more hopeful prognostication that there could be troop withdrawals by the end of the year, while President Bush and General Petraeus seem to really put that on hold. What Gates essentially was he's on the same page and the same line, the same word as the president. But he did acknowledge that perhaps he was a little more hopeful.


ROBERT GATES, DEFENSE SECRETARY: I certainly hope, continue to hope, that conditions will allow us to remove more troops by year's end. That hope for a return on success is shared by the president, General Petraeus, Admiral Mullen, and the chiefs.

But we're all realistic. The history of this conflict has demonstrated that we must always be prepared for the unpredictable and that we must be extremely cautious with our every step.


MCINTYRE: Secretary Gates had high hopes for everything from Iraq's ability to influence Iran, to reduce violence of levels -- levels of violence. And also, he was -- said he was very confident that there would be fewer U.S. troops in Iraq next year, although he didn't say what that number was. And he said based on that, he was confident that the U.S. would be able to provide additional troops to Afghanistan. And he said while that would be something that the next president would have to sign off on, he was also confident that that next president, be it a Democrat or a Republican, is going to want to have the same level of success in Afghanistan.

Another interesting moment was a question about Muqtada al-Sadr, who, of course, is controlling a lot of the militias in Iraq, and in some ways, is more responsible for the levels of violence going up and down depending on whether he's issued a cease-fire or not. The latest reports put him in Iran.

He was asked if Muqtada al-Sadr returned to Iraq, would he be arrested? And Secretary Gates said he didn't foresee that action at all. In fact, he said what they really want is for Muqtada al-Sadr to work within the Iraqi system, and if he is willing to do that, the U.S. is willing to work with him as well -- Tony.

HARRIS: That's -- boy, very interesting. All right.

Jamie McIntyre for us at the Pentagon.

Jamie, great to see you. Thank you.

NGUYEN: Eight Florida teenagers, well, they should be in school but instead they are in a Florida court today for this. It's a widely viewed videotape beating of another teenage girl, one of her classmates, in fact.

The prosecutor says the six girls and two boys will be tried as adults. They face charges of kidnapping and battery and witness tampering. The youngest, just 14 years old.

Now, you don't see it here, but police say at one point the victim is knocked unconscious when her head is slammed against a wall. Police say the teens made the tape because they wanted a video to post on the Internet.

Well, families of victims from the Virginia Tech massacre reached a settlement with the state. Lawyers say 21 families have agreed to an $11 million settlement. The money will compensate those who lost loved ones and pay medical bills for the survivors.

The mentally disturbed student killed -- a mentally disturbed student killed 32 people on campus last year, as well as taking his own life. And Virginia's government calls the settlement very positive, but he points out that families who didn't agree to it could still file suit.

HARRIS: Betty, an amazing story. Just as -- this is just an amazing story. A crossing guard remembered as a hero for saving the life of a child. It was the ultimate sacrifice.

Maureen Kocot of affiliate WBNS has details.


MAUREEN KOCOT, REPORTER, WBNS (voice over): Medics tried to save Diane Sharp (ph) after this dump truck ran over the crossing guard. A witness who didn't want to be identified says the truck was going faster than the school zone speed limit.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: He wasn't doing 20 miles an hour. There was no way. There was no way, because her body went hurling.

KOCOT: The truck driver is clearly devastated. Investigators say he told them he was doing the speed limit, just never saw the crossing guard and child in the road. The view from Chopper 10 shows no skid marks, which does indicate the driver never slammed on his brakes. It's just as clear the crossing guard had to make a split second decision, save herself or save the boy crossing at the time.

CHIEF ROONEY GARNETT, HILLIARD, OHIO, POLICE: It's my understanding that she saw the truck coming, and either shielded him or tried to push him out of the way, and he's still here and she's not. I believe that she saved his life, yes.

KOCOT: Hilliard accident scene investigators and the highway patrol spent the day measuring and weighing and calculating, trying to figure out if the driver was going too fast. Parents say Sharp (ph) was wearing a bright vest and carrying a red stop sign.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: And we were like, how could you not see her? She was there in the middle of the road.


HARRIS: WBNS is report thing morning that the truck driver expected to be charged in this accident.

NGUYEN: Well, hormones and milk, should you be concerned? Dr. Gupta takes a look.


NGUYEN: All right, just a minute. It is a household chore that nobody likes to do. So, how about this for an alternative? Bull Mastiff on trash duty.

HARRIS: Love it.

NGUYEN: Love it.

HARRIS: A new health concern is emerging in Wisconsin. And parents aren't taking any chances. They are getting their kids vaccinated after two new cases of highly contagious measles have been confirmed in the Milwaukee area. Measles can result in severe complication, including encephalitis, pneumonia and death.

NGUYEN: With higher gas prices and a recession looming, do you really want to pay more for hormone-free milk? Wal-Mart just announced it will sell only hormone-free milk, but is it really worth it?

CNN's Chief Medical Correspondent Dr. Sanjay Gupta takes a look.


DR. SANJAY GUPTA, CNN CHIEF MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: What you are hearing about here is part of a growing movement. Wal-Mart sort of joined several other stores in offering free milk of growth hormone, milk that's free of growth hormone. Other stores, including Kroger's, Safeway, even Starbucks, have been offering this for some time.

Now, a lot of consumer advocates are very concerned about having this substance in milk and its potential detrimental effects. But as we investigated this a bit, to be clear, there is not enough science to support that there is any detriment as of yet. Consumer advocates are saying, look, the science just simply hasn't caught up. What we are talking about here specifically and what the concerns are overall, take a look. What they talk about is a possible increase in cancer risk. And they also talk about antibiotic resistance. This comes from the Oregon Physicians for Social Responsibility.

Part of the concern is you give these growth hormones, they turn into the substance known as IGF-1. And in some animal studies that has increased cancer risks. Again, there's no specific link in humans.

Now, also, as part of this, we talked to the USDA, and they say they've looked at all the studies that exist right now. They say the studies don't prove a link between what is known as rbST or Recombinant Bovine Somatotropin and cancer. And the amount of this IGF substance that you absorb overall is very tiny.

There is also another concern that's been out there for some time. It was based on this survey of about 17,000 girls, and they found that overall, generationally, girls started to have earlier puberty. And the question was, could milk and specifically the growth hormone in milk, be causing that accelerated puberty?

Again, there's no specific science to suggest this, but there is enough of a concern out there that you are starting to see this movement. Lots of milk available now without any sort of growth hormone. The prices will likely come down as well. So some good news there.

Back to you.


NGUYEN: All right.

So, to get your "Daily Dose" on health news online, just log on to our Web site. You will find the latest medical news, a health library, and information on diet and fitness. The address,

HARRIS: Talking black. A preview of CNN's conversations with black America -- live in the NEWSROOM.


VIOLA VAUGHN, CHAMPIONING CHILDREN: When a girl reaches the age when she can help in the house, the mother starts keeping this girl at home. That girl begins missing school, missing homework, and she starts to fail. It's a downward cycle.

My name is Viola Vaughn. I came to Senegal from Detroit, Michigan. I started a girls education and self-sufficiency program.

I had put a limitation of 100 girls. That's the maximum. That's all I was going to do.

I came to Senegal to retire. And the girls said, No. We want to take to you 10,000.

We take girls who have already failed in school. They have learned how to perfect a skill, to produce products for export.

We have the pastry shop. In the sewing workshop they make sheets, they make dolls. They make any kind of household linens.

Half of the funds goes back to them. The other remainder goes into an education program.

Come on. Give me a hug.

We do this all the time.

They are passing school. They are opening businesses. And I see the success.

Right now we already have seven girls in universities. It's their program, and they run everything. I'm there just to make sure all the I's are dotted and the Ts are crossed.

Here I am retired, and this is the best job I have ever had in my life.




NGUYEN: OK, driving for five Tiger Woods. And, can the master do it again? We are live at Augusta for round two.

HARRIS: Are we really?

NGUYEN: We are.

Everybody on this Friday, you are in the CNN NEWSROOM. I'm Betty Nguyen.

HARRIS: Good to see you, Betty. I'm Tony Harris. Want to take you to New York City now -- downtown. Downtown Manhattan. Boy, a pretty confusing scene from these pictures. The pictures will improve here in a second, and you will get a better sense of what has happened here. A car has actually run over a man.

That's the -- that's the description that we are getting -- that a car has actually run over a man after going up on a sidewalk, and up several steps. You will see the scene in just a moment here of the state supreme court building. Again, downtown Manhattan. There you go, a better view of it all. Pretty dicey for a while here. The car smashed into a coffee cart, we understand. Went up the steps before hitting the man. And a pretty tough scene for the guy in question here. Emergency workers actually had to use a power saw to free him. We understand he has been freed. Presumably on his way to a hospital right now for treatment.

For a while there, the driver, we understand was lying on the sidewalk after being removed from the vehicle. And a court officer at the scene described the driver as being incoherent. So, that's the scene. Live picture now. Our affiliate in New York WABC, providing the aerials for us. We will keep an eye on this situation. As you can see, a real mess there on the steps of the state supreme court building downtown Manhattan.

NGUYEN: Quote, "I loved her." That coming from a U.S. Marine shortly after being arrested in the killing of his pregnant comrade. Marine Corporal Cesar Lauren was nabbed at a roadblock in Mexico last night. Police say he didn't put up a fight. They say he claimed to have spent the last three months sleeping in avocado groves and eating the fruit.

Prosecutors in North Carolina want Lauren brought back to face a murder charge. Meanwhile, the remains of fellow Marine Maria Lauterbach were found in his backyard in January. You will recall that. Well, she accused him of raping her, and Lauterbach was eight months pregnant at the time. Prosecutors have not said if Lauren was the father.

And a news conference from Jacksonville, North Carolina, is set for 2:00 p.m. Eastern this afternoon. When it does happen we will bring it to you live. Meanwhile though, trouble in the skies. Yes, flier anger growing worse today. As American Airlines takes another 570 flights off the board. So when you add up the week's chaos, here is what you get. Thousands of flights canceled, 0.25 million passengers stranded.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It is frustrating. You know, I -- I understand that they are trying to do the best they can do. But -- it is very inconvenient.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: That's horrible. They -- considering the organization, they could have easily at least put in place in their call centers a recording -- something that would give us some direction.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We spent most of the day on the phone and on the computer, because our flight was canceled and it was kind of a nightmare trying to get through to them and find out what was going on.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: They don't answer their phone. Everything is busy, you can get through to anybody.

(END VIDEO CLIP) HARRIS: CNN is having conversations with black America, that's something you don't want to miss. Our Don Lemon is here to tell us all about it. Don, this started last week as I recall. It was fun to watch last week.

DON LEMON, CNN CORRESPONDENT: It was very interesting to watch last week. That was the perfect week to start, because of the 40th anniversary of Dr. King's death, but we're doing it again. I have to ask you some questions, we're having conversations with black America, in order to have a conservation it's more than one person.

HARRIS: Absolutely.

LEMON: OK. So, I went down, other voices, right, so we talked to white Americans about what they wanted to know from black Americans. So, Tony, how would you prefer to be addressed? I started asking the questions, and they asked me the question.

They said, do you -- are you negro, are you African-American, are you black, are you colored, are you a person of color? people say they have no idea what to call --

HARRIS: They call me Tony. Can they me Tony?

LEMON: Right. So, what would you -- they said what would you rather be called? So, I kind of found myself on the hot seat, but it was very interesting. We talked about everything from affirmative action, to the use of the n word to what have you. And so, these are candid conversations, one person I talked to says why did we have to talk about race at all? Take a listen to this.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I wonder really deep down why people don't really want to just live and forget about race, and just try to make a better life. Don't lean on that as a crutch. That's probably my -- I guess deep down question.

LEMON: What do you mean by don't lean on it as a crutch?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I think you have to just be you, and you can't think oh, because I'm, you know, black or something, I have a disadvantage. You may have it, but everyone has a disadvantage of some type. I think I do in many ways, too, because I'm a woman, for one thing. And so, I think everyone has one and they are called excuses really.


LEMON: The thing is, she is a very nice lady. As Senator Obama said, as Senator Clinton has said, you have to -- you have these conversations about race and you have these trigger words, and everyone gets so heated. And you don't want to offend anyone.

The question is, I asked are you ever -- do you ever feel like people are going to call you racist or biased because you have a legitimate question about race that you want answer to it and you are frayed to say it. So, these people -- I commend them. They were very honest with us, and we have more questions on that.

HARRIS: I think you hear that response to the question, and then you understand why there needs to be a conversation.

LEMON: A dialogue. Right.

HARRIS: Don, what else do you have coming up for us this afternoon?

LEMON: We are going to be talking to college students as well. OUR T.J. Holmes is at North Carolina A&T where he's having conversations with African-American college students, historically black universities. That's part of our Black in America series. Also, conversations with black America.

Then we have also have Michael Baisden, who you know, a radio host -- the famous Michael Baisden, doing his radio broadcast from here -- from CNN radio. We are going to be talking to him, dipping into his radio show to see what people are talking about there. Then Rose Rock.

HARRIS: Yes, Chris's --

LEMON: 27 children -- was going to say the mother of Chris Rock. 27 children. 17 of her own. She raised all of them. None of them -- in trouble the law. Or, as she says, has babies mamas and all that stuff. She has got a new book out. Our Fredricka Whitfield's going to be talking to her.

HARRIS: I can't wait. All right, Don, appreciate it. Thank you.

LEMON: Thank you, Tony. Good seeing you.

HARRIS: Yes, good to see you, man. And, once again, don't miss Conversations With Black America live on CNN and today 1:00 until 4:00 p.m. Eastern time.

NGUYEN: Well, we do have some news just in to CNN that we want to tell you about the state house in Boston has been evacuated. That's why you see so many people standing there right outside. Here is what we know so far. According to reports, a pungent smell occurred in the building, and then firefighters went running through the hallways.

Even a school orchestra that had been playing on the grand staircase was evacuated, along with workers and other visitors. Again, there was a fire alarm. Don't see any smoke from this vantage point, but a pungent smell did occur and they had evacuated the Boston State House. So, as soon as we get more information on this, we will bring it to you.

HARRIS: Round two of the Masters Tournament. Turn a light on or something. In full swing right now, Tiger Woods driving for five after a first round even par start. In which he admitted, I guess, that -- Larry Smith, there he is live, at Augusta. Tiger, I guess, admitted that he might have been a little nervous getting the Masters under way yesterday.

LARRY SMITH, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, I heard that. I'm like -- are you kidding me, really you're Tiger Woods, how are you nervous about anything these days, especially golf? But, yes Tiger even par. He tees off 1:52 Eastern time today. His second round.

But, you know, we have seen this before Tiger never shoots under 70 in the first round of the Masters. So, there is no concern in terms of him being in jeopardy possibly of not winning his fifth green jacket. Currently, Trevor Immelman, who is the overnight co-leader, and Brent Sndedeker are tied for the lead right now at six under par.

But, there are so many stories out here on the course at the first major of the year. One of them -- one gentleman could see his career end, the end of today at age 35. Trip Kuehne is his name, and he is a part of golf history. He led the 1994 U.S. Amateur Championships by five holes with 12 holes to go, only to see a young Californian named Tiger Woods rally to beat him.

Now, while Woods went on to super stardom, Kuehne never turned pro. He remained an amateur, and now is playing in the Masters for the second and final time. He will walk away from the game to instead spend time with his family.


TRIP KUEHNE, 2ND MASTERS APPEARANCE: It very much made me the person that I am today. And it's great to always be linked with Tiger in that tournament. The way I look at it, yes, I didn't win the tournament there was two champions that day. Tiger became a champion golfer, and hopefully, I'm in the process of becoming a champion business person.

PHIL MICKELSON, 2-TIME MASTERS CHAMPION: He has put his family life and his business life, and doesn't want to travel -- wants to be in one place and be able to raise his son and be with his wife. I have a tremendous amount of respect for that.

KEUHNE: They are living their dream, and I'm living my dream. Just -- chapter of my life's coming to an end, hopefully on Sunday and not Friday. To me, this is the ultimate place for me to end. It's the greatest tournament in competitive golf. It was -- the golf course and the tournament were founded by the greatest amateur player ever to play. So, why not?


SMITH: Well, Keuhne was a former college roommate of Phil Mickelson's at Arizona State. He shot a 78 yesterday. And again, will tee off today here in just a few moments, trying to improve on that and make the cut and play on through the weekend.

By the way, when he was asked wouldn't you have turned pro if you had beaten Tiger on that fateful day back in 1994, he says yes, he would have, because the offers would have been too great not to turn pro. Funny how things work out. HARRIS: That's right. I'm looking behind you. Is that one of the most beautiful places on the planet, Larry Smith?

SMITH: It really is. The azaleas are in full bloom. There's a great crowd today. A little colder this weekend, so bring your rain gear if you're coming out here, but it's just been a gorgeous week.

HARRIS: Larry, good to see you. Thanks, man.

NGUYEN: TV doesn't even do it justice. It's just a fabulous place.

HARRIS: HD is pretty good.

NGUYEN: Yes, that's true.

We're going to talk about this right now, though, a raid on a polygamous compound in Texas. We have new information that's coming to light.



NGUYEN: In the meantime, though, there is new information coming in about the raid on a polygamous compound in Texas. So let's take you straight to CNN's Sean Callebs, who joins us live from San Angelo, Texas.

And I'm just looking at this list of some of the things that they found inside the compound. Man, Sean, there is a lot to be questioned here.

SEAN CALLEBS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, without question. Authorities spent a great deal of time setting this up, going in there, making sure that all the information that was seized is cataloged properly. As you mentioned, San Angelo, which is about 40 minutes from where the sect was headquartered here in this area of Texas. Some of it very mundane. There's a lot of diaries, a lot of photographs, things listed as family trees. But then there's some stuff that clearly authorities are going to be looking at very closely.

A lot of correspondence apparently with Warren Jeffs. He is the former head of this polygamous who is now in prison in Utah, serving two consecutive terms of five years to life for his role in arranging marriages of underaged girls.

There's the list of correspondence with Warren Jeffs. There's also something listed as prison mail. Also, Warren Jeffs' records. And there's also some information that was seized from something called a house in hiding. And if we go through and look through a little bit more of some of the 88 pages that authorities have cataloged, there a couple of things we simply can't explain, but certainly got our attention. One is cyanide- poisoning documents. Another is listed as Neffe (ph) Jeffs firearms training documents. Those we'll have just to wait to talk to authorities to see what the concern could have been, why they are looking at those documents in particular.

We also know there has been a number of shredders that have been seized, as well as computers, cell phones, and apparently a very involved school system within that compound. There are a lot of school records that have been seized, as well as notes are listed as parent/teacher conferences.

We also have been able to pinpoint some of this documentation that shows that one father clearly fathered children from a number of different wives, something that certainly comes as no surprise. But it is very detailed information that is going to be cataloged and stored here. So investigators, district attorneys, and, of course, defense attorneys have an easy access to look at this information, as this case continues to move on -- Betty.

NGUYEN: Yes, but no doubt that cyanide-poisoning documents, that has obviously raised the eyebrows of a lot of people investigating this.

Sean Callebs joining us live. Thank you, Sean.

OK, so how's that second, maybe your third cup of coffee this morning?


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Very strong. Very good.


NGUYEN: All right, it may taste good, but hang on, because you won't believe where the beans have been.


NGUYEN: We are following all things politics today. And as you can see in these live pictures, Barack Obama speaking live at this hour at a town hall in Columbus, Indiana. And if you want to watch this in its entirety, you can go to and check it out.

HARRIS: And quickly now, new information of a confrontation. Let's get to the Pentagon for this one before I characterize it any further. Barbara Starr is there for us.

Barbara, good morning.


A U.S. military official has just told CNN that there has been mild but a confrontation once again with the Iranians in the Persian Gulf. Last night, the USS Typhoon, small U.S. Navy patrol craft was approached by three Iranian small boats. The Iranians were maneuvering in a taunting manner, according to the official. One of those Iranian boats coming within 200 yards of the Navy boat. Of course, that is not acceptable to the U.S. Navy.

By the way, why we say it was the Persian Gulf, it was outside the Strait of Hormuz. The Navy tried to get the Iranians to turn away to, the Iranian boats did. One of the Iranian boats, however, came within 200 yards of the U.S. Navy, leaving the crew onboard the Typhoon to fire a warning flare to get the Iranians to turn away. They did, and by all accounts, there were no further developments in that incident.

But it does underscore, Tony, the level of sensitivity on the high seas when the U.S. Navy is operating anywhere ...


STARR: ...with -- near the Iranians.

It was in January when those five Iranian speed boats approached three U.S. Navy war ships in the same general area. Of course, as we've seen this week, a lot of discussion about Iran's military involvement inside Iraq. Any time you talk about Iran and the Iranian military, it raises a lot of nerves around here, Tony.

STARR: Boy, it sure does. All right, Barbara Starr at the Pentagon for us. Barbara, thank you.

STARR: Sure.

NGUYEN: OK, so let's get to this story. Looking for a good cup of coffee these days?

HARRIS: Sure, yes, yes, yes.

NGUYEN: Well, not to worry because we have one. Rare and expensive, yes, because it has an exotic origin, shall we say.


NGUYEN: Here CNN's David McKenzie.


DAVID MCKENZIE, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Rich, dark, full of flavor. Caffe Rarro, counted as the world's most expensive coffee sold at Peter Jones, up (ph) market department store in London. It will set you back about $100 a cup. But the store says it's for charity.


MCKENZIE: For more than just the cost.

ZACHARIA: The things themselves are a Blue Mountain blend and a blend from Southeast Asia that's linked to a civet cat.

MCKENZIE: Linked to the civet cat? In fact, the cat-like Asian palm civet takes more than a passing interest in this brew. Each bean takes an arduous journey through the animal. The beans are connected, cleaned, roasted, and eventually enjoyed by the coffee connoisseurs the world over.

(on camera): Excellent.


MCKENZIE: This coffee might not have been digested through the bowels of an Indonesian palm civet, but it costs only a few bucks. They say, though, that for charity and exclusivity, people will line up to buy it.

(voice-over): We asked some Londoners whether they would pay for the drink with such interesting origins.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: No, that wouldn't interest me because that's dirty. That's foul.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: No, I'd give the money to charity. I wouldn't consume the coffee.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What I would do is I'll pay 200 pounds for charity if somebody else drank it.

GIOVANNI TOFTANO, DELONGHI: We're going to make it with a pimedon (ph) now ...

MCKENZIE (on camera): Of course.

TOFTANO: ...which is the long -- yes, of course ...

MCKENZIE (voice-over): But the expert assures me that the Rarro Company is something you should definitely try once.

TOFTANO: I think it's something that you will never try again. I think the taste is really great.


(on camera): Whew, very strong, very good.

(voice-over): So far, they've sold four cups of this stuff since Wednesday. They only have 59 tins left, so hurry.

David McKenzie, CNN, London.


NGUYEN: Did he say only four?

HARRIS: Yes, he did.

NGUYEN: Well, the reason is obvious, right?

HARRIS: I like the idea. I'll pay the money to charity if someone else will -- I love that one. NGUYEN: I wonder what the aftertaste is.

HARRIS: Oh gosh, Betty.

All right, taking out the trash, no one likes to do it. So, what do you do? Here's one man's answer. Meet Ronin, a five-year-old bull mastiff in Hagerstown, Maryland. Ronin's owner taught him to take out the trash without inspecting the contents, huh? Lloyd Weedon says Ronin loves to play fetch and that gave him the idea for cheap trash removal system.


LLOYD WEEDON, RONIN'S OWNER: I experimented. I was out in the yard one day, happened to be working on the car and there was a spare tire. And I asked him to get it. Believe it or not, he picked up the tire and brought it to me.


HARRIS: So, Lloyd says all it really took was a lot of time, some attention, of course. Oh, look at the love. Weedon's daughter adds a lot of snacks. Look at that, big pooch.

NGUYEN: I wonder if he could rent that dog out.

HARRIS: Come on.

NGUYEN: I'd be willing to pay.

HARRIS: There is certainly room for an extra set of paws in, yes, in the Harris compound, that's for sure.

NGUYEN: Well, the CNN NEWSROOM continues one hour from now. Big story developing today for you.

HARRIS: "ISSUE #1" with news on the economy is next.

I'm Tony Harris.

NGUYEN: And I'm Betty Nguyen. See you tomorrow.