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American Morning

Historic Withdrawal in Gaza; Iraqi Leaders Scramble to Meet Constitution Deadline; '90-Second Pop'

Aired August 15, 2005 - 09:30   ET


SOLEDAD O'BRIEN, CNN ANCHOR: Welcome back, everybody. It's half past the hour on this AMERICAN MORNING. I'm Soledad O'Brien.
CAROL COSTELLO, CNN ANCHOR: And I'm Carol Costello in for Miles this morning. A live report on the latest from Baghdad, as leaders there try to make a deadline for the nation's constitution.

O'BRIEN: Since they're looking about 29 minutes away, many people are not exactly hopeful they're going to make it, but we'll see. More on that this morning.

Also a check of some of the other stories that are making headlines.

Kelly Wallace has that. Good morning.

KELLY WALLACE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Hello to you, Soledad, and, Carol. And good morning again, everyone.

Here are some of those stories now in the news.

There are reports of clashes between Afghan forces and suspected militants. According to officials, nearly 30 suspected members of the Taliban have been killed. Security has been stepped up ahead of legislative elections next month.

Indonesia's government and separatists from Aceh province have signed a peace agreement aimed at ending three decades of conflict. The signing ceremony in Helsinki was transmitted live by videolink to Jakarta in Indonesia. The fighting between those two have killed about 15,000 people. Rebels are set to start turning over weapons to authorities next month.

A follow-up to a story we've been telling you about this morning. Georgia police are look forge a motive in an apparent murder/suicide this morning at a hospital in Atlanta. Officials say a man shot and killed his wife, who was in the intensive care unit, then turned the gun on himself. Police say the woman was in her 70s, but are not releasing any names. No other injuries have been reported.

And the PGA Tour resumes today after a series of thunderstorms forced a rain delay. Phil Mickelson is leading by a stroke after sinking a three-foot par putt. You it there on the 14th hole when the final round was suspended. Meanwhile, Tiger Woods had something to smile about. He finished with birdies in the last two holes for a two under 68. Oh, is he happy there? I can't really tell. COSTELLO: He looked intriguingly like Soledad did on her...

O'BRIEN: Golf lesson this weekend.

WALLACE: And Tiger was currently tied for fourth place. Here's the thing, though. So yesterday the temperature, 100 degrees. Today, a reported high of 86. So maybe it's not so bad that the rain forced a delay.

COSTELLO: Exactly.


O'BRIEN: All good news for them.

WALLACE: All good news.

O'BRIEN: And it's weird, shocking, how much Tiger and I look alike when we play.

COSTELLO: I know, it's amazing. People have said that before.


Let's talk about Iraq this morning. Iraq's constitution will be presented on time. At least that is what Iraq's national security adviser told us an hour ago on AMERICAN MORNING. Very little time left, and if an agreement is not reached soon, the Iraqi government could be in crisis by the end of the day. Aneesh Raman is live in Baghdad at the convention center, where Iraqi leaders are gathering this morning.

Aneesh, are they going to have a constitution or not? What do you think?

ANEESH RAMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, we're not quite sure. The press behind me starting to file in to where the national assembly is set to meet less than half hour from now, and it remains unclear whether any compromise has been bridged between the Shia Kurd coalition and the Sunnis on the main issue of federalism that has stalled this process leading up to today. Dr. Rubaie, it seems, is on the extreme end of the spectrum, entirely optimistic that a draft is set to be announced.

We just spoke to a Sunni negotiator, who says as we speak now, a group of leaders from the Sunnis, the Shia, the Kurds and the secular Iraq are meeting to try and hash out issues, and they have given themselves three additional hours to try and resolve what is brewing into a political crisis.

The importance of today, though, not lost on anyone. This is a key step in moving this process forward. And as the national security adviser, Dr. Rubaie, said earlier, a key step for Iraq.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) DR. MOWAFFAK AL-RUBAIE, IRAQ NATL. SECURITY ADVISER: The more we get into the political process and the less the insurgency and the terrorism will have any justifiable reason behind the indiscriminate killing of the Iraqi people.


RAMAN: And, Soledad, that is the backdrop of the politics that is taking place right now. Still on the table, is the possibility that this government if a draft is not put forward today could be resolved or would be forced to enact new law to give themselves an extension, both thought be incredibly crippling for this political process, and a very bad message to the insurgency about what is taking place, all of this laced with the desperate hope that these steps could, in fact, curb the violence and make lives better for the average Iraqi -- Soledad.

O'BRIEN: Thirty minutes and counting. Aneesh, thanks. We'll see -- Carol.

COSTELLO: It's a historic moment many Palestinians believe they would never witness. Today Israeli troops are handing eviction notices to settlers in the Gaza Strip, and the deadline to vacate is midnight Tuesday.

Ben Wedeman in Gaza with the latest.


BEN WEDEMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): A pep talk to Palestinian security troops before taking up positions around the Jewish settlement of Netsayeem (ph).

"We bear a huge responsibility," Major Abu Ahmed (ph) tells his men, "to stop our people from bleeding, to stop anyone from preventing the Israeli pullout." A triumphal cheer before boarding the buses to take up positions they fled at the beginning of the Palestinian uprising.

Israelis may be debating the significance of if all, but not on this bus.

"This is a victory for all the Palestinian people," Shadi (ph) tells me.

"From Gaza to South Lebanon, because Palestine is ours," says another. It will be the job of this somewhat disorderly force to ensure no one from the Palestinian side interferes wit evacuation.

Battle songs blaring, gunmen from Islamic Jihad staged a victory march through the streets of Gaza City. While shortly after midnight, when the Israeli evacuation officially began, Hamas holds thanksgiving prayers for what they see as a triumph of armed resistance.

And just to make clear who's the boss, the Authority deployed policemen and a bulldozer to knock down a house belonging to a senior authority official who they say built illegally on state land. The authority says this house demolition is a message to anyone, officials or militants, who think they're above the law.

FARAH ABU MADAIN, ADVISER TO PRES. MAHMOUD ABBAS: We are not going to accept to anybody in settlement or outside the settlement to capture, and to occupy and to build.

WEDEMAN: So they're bringing down the house.

(on camera): The timing of this operation is not coincidental. The Palestinian Authority has deployed its troops around the Jewish settlement, while the militants are claiming credit for the Israeli pullout. The Authority wants to show it's in control and in command.

Ben Wedeman, CNN, Fedlaheya (ph), Gaza.


O'BRIEN: Authorities say they have recovered all but two of the bodies from the crash of that Cypriot jet in Greece on Sunday. All 121 people onboard were killed when the plane which slammed into a mountain on its way to Athens. Authorities say a loss of cabin pressure may have doomed that flight.

CNN's Chris Burns has more for us.


BURNS (voice over): The wreckage was scattered wide in the hills north of Athens. All that was left intact was the tail section. No survivors to be found. The Helios Airlines Boeing 737 filled with vacationers was on a flight from Larnaca, Cyprus, to Athens, when the pilot reportedly radioed about a problem with the plane's air conditioning. Minutes later, air traffic controllers lost communication with the plane. The Greek Air Force scrambled two F- 16s, whose pilots saw a chilling sight.

MAKIS CONSTANTINIDES, GREEK CYPRIOT OFFICIAL: They were on the aircraft, and it seemed that the aircraft was without any control. I mean, the pilots were not there.

BURNS: Officials say the F-16s also saw the Boeing's co-pilot slumped over and oxygen masks hanging, indications of a catastrophic loss of cabin pressure.

One relative reported receiving a text message from one of the passengers, saying -- quote -- "The pilot has turned blue in the face. Cousin, farewell. We're all freezing."

DR. MARC SIEGEL, NYU MEDICAL SCHOOL: Over minutes, that would occur. You actually would suffocate. The blue color is from lack of oxygen in the tissues.

BURNS: Greek authorities confirmed they have found at least one of the plane's two black box voice recorders, which could offer clues to the cause of the crash. In the meantime, relatives must go through the agonizing task of identifying their loved ones among the dead.

Chris Burns, CNN, Athens.


O'BRIEN: Greek authorities ordered autopsies to determine if the passengers were dead prior to the crash because of oxygen deprivation.


Ahead on "90-Second Pop," rock 'n' roll bad boy Tommy Lee hits the book for a new reality show.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I don't sound so good.


COSTELLO: Is there more to him than sex drugs and rock 'n' roll? Plus, Paula Abdul's in the clear with Fox. But has the Corey Clark scandal really been put to bed? That's ahead on AMERICAN MORNING.


O'BRIEN: Thinking of switching careers? If you like traveling and don't mind long hours, there may be some openings, hundreds of thousands openings actually, in the future. With that story, plus a check of Wall Street, Ali Velshi is in for Andy Serwer. He is "Minding Your Business" this morning.

ALI VELSHI, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, and I'm going to tell all these people who are looking perhaps for a career change how to do that in a second.

Let's first take a look at how markets are doing. We have got slightly stronger markets today. The Dow's off about eight points, but no big losses there. Right now we're looking at the price of oil pulling back a bit, 49 cents to $66.37.

Now you want it keep your eye on is Delta. We were talking about these -- more swirling discussions about bankruptcy possibly. Delta's off about 14 percent, a tiny little stock to start with, but it is down. Agilent is announcing the sale of its chip unit, for $2.66 billion. It's up 15 percent, and Time Warner, Carl Icahn deciding that he wants to split this company up to get a little bit more core value for shareholders. So those are the things we're looking at on the markets today.

Now, the big story...

O'BRIEN: All right, you gave me the question. Ready? Here's a quiz for you. What do Elvis, pigtails and reefers have in common?

COSTELLO: Reefers as in?

O'BRIEN: Just answer the question. This is a family show.

VELSHI: Reefers -- Elvis and pigtail. These are things you might want to know if you want to be a truck driver, because there's a shortage of truck drivers coming up. Elvis was a truck driver. Pigtails are they little coiled wires that connect the front of the truck to the back, and a reefer is a refrigerated trailer used to transport food.

Now, there are going to be a shortage of...

O'BRIEN: I knew that.

VELSHI: Yes, no, exactly. Between retiring and turnover, they're going to need about 500,000 new truckers over the course of the next 10 years, so study up on reefers and things like that.

COSTELLO: OK, good buddy.

O'BRIEN: Yes, 10-4. Ali, appreciate it.

"CNN LIVE TODAY" is coming up next.

Daryn Kagan, what are you working on?

DARYN KAGAN, CNN ANCHOR: As usual, we have a lot going on.

Carol, thank you. Coming up at the top of the hour, insurgents in Iraq are stepping up their attacks, and to help them fight back, U.S. troops are getting upgraded body armor. A look at what's being done to keep American soldiers safe.

And after a major weather delay, the PGA championship wraps up today. We're going to go live to Springfield, New Jersey to see if they have a winner. Phil Mickelson thinks he can hang on and do it. We will see.

Back to you.

COSTELLO: We will. Thank you, Daryn.

"90-Second Pop" straight ahead. Rock 'n' roll's bad boy Tommy Lee goes back to school for a new reality series. Find out whether the show deserves a spot on the dean's list. That's next on AMERICAN MORNING.


COSTELLO: I feel like we all should be noshing, whipping our hair around. It is time for another episode of "90 Second Pop," starring Jessica Shaw from "Entertainment Weekly," Andy Borowitz from, and Danyel Smith, author and journalist and a pop newcomer. Welcome.


COSTELLO: You will have so much fun.

SMITH: I'm ready.

COSTELLO: You will not believe it. Let's start first with Tommy Lee. And before we begin, you know, he's going to the University of Nebraska. This is a new reality show. So we wanted to show you a little bit of the program.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Your mass number is 16, your atomic number is eight. How many protons and neutrons?

TOMMY LEE, ROCKER: You're totally stumping me.


LEE: I'm totally stumped.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It's not a big deal, it's not a big deal. OK...

LEE: Should I just take something else?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: No. You can't give up.

LEE: I think I'm going to cry.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: No, don't cry. Come on, try.


COSTELLO: Oh, poor Tommy! He's with his tutor, and he still can't get it.

ANDY BOROWITZ, BOROWITZREPORT.COM: It's so sad. You know, I'm usually in favor of a college education -- for everyone but Tommy Lee. I just don't think this is a good idea, because I -- I've read these reports and I hope this is true, that he and Pamela Anderson are actually going to get back together. They're talking about marrying again. I'm just afraid if he gets all smart and educated, they will have nothing to talk about.


BOROWITZ: And that concerns me.

COSTELLO: You know, the weirdest thing about this is he's not actually enrolled in the University of Nebraska, he's just using it as a backdrop.

BOROWITZ: Right. Well, that's sort of a disclaimer. It's like, Nebraska is saying, we didn't actually enroll him, however, we letting him use our entire campus for a reality show.

SHAW: Exactly. We'll take the money, but we're not going to enroll him. But how many schools do you think actually turned him down?

COSTELLO: A lot of them did. In fact, there was a big protest at the University of Nebraska. They didn't want him there. A lot of the professors didn't want him there.

BOROWITZ: Well, Harvard didn't want him, because the president of Harvard wants to prove that men are better at math, so that wouldn't work out.

COSTELLO: He would probably have accepted Pamela.

SHAW: I wonder how the tutor's parents feel about the fact that she's doing that. And I like how he said, you know, I'm going cry, which is like, the oldest thing in the book to get, you know -- to get a young girl to date you in college.

BOROWITZ: He's hot for teacher.

COSTELLO: He's hot for teacher, but he could be teacher's father, which is kind of creepy.

BOROWITZ: Yes. It is.

COSTELLO: Let's move along to something else that's kind of creepy, but maybe not. Paula Abdul, cleared of all charges.

SHAW: Yes. After 600 hours of legal work and three-and-half months....


SHAW: Fox and the production company behind "American Idol," they have decided Paula Abdul, not guilty of having an affair with Corey Clark, the former "American Idol" contestant.

COSTELLO: Isn't this kind of suspect because Fox did its own investigation?

SHAW: And they're not releasing any of the information or the results. But we believe them. Who doesn't believe them?

SMITH: I'm just glad the CIA wasn't called in. It all seemed very overly important. And I felt like, can we get on with it, please? Let her judge, let her judge.

COSTELLO: Really? Having sex with one of the contestants, unfairly helping him. That's cheating, Danyel.

SMITH: That's not what the report said. That's not what the report said. They said nothing could be proven. The conversations, one side or the other, no one was right, no one was wrong. They don't know, Paula's back. COSTELLO: So Paula's back, but did it hurt her in the long run careerwise?

SMITH: Well, now she's not going to do the dance show anymore. She's not -- can we dance, shall we dance, are we dancing? She's not going mess with that.

SHAW: "So You Think You Can Dance?" I like the rumor that Whitney Houston was maybe going to take over for her. I thought that was fabulous.


BOROWITZ: For credibility, that would have been perfect.

COSTELLO: That would have been fantastic. An upgrade.

SHAW: No skill there whatsoever.

BOROWITZ: Upgrade.

SMITH: As long as Bobby was invited.

COSTELLO: Oh, yes, that show's just too much to take.

Let's move along to Faith Hill, because she has a brand new album out and it's breaking records. So let's listen to a bit of it.


FAITH HILL, SINGER (singing): 'Cause a Mississippi girl don't change her way just 'cause everybody knows her name. Ain't big-headed from a little bit of fame....


COSTELLO: Now, word is that she dyed her hair brown because she wanted more cred.

SMITH: She wanted to take it home to her country roots. America loves this, pop fans love this, country fans love this. It's like she's Jenny from the block only, she's not really chasing Shania Twain any more. She's back home, "I'm just a Mississippi girl." So I actually think she's going to do really well with this. She's number one this week's pop charts, number one this week country charts. It's huge for her.

BOROWITZ: But what I don't understand is, don't hometown girls dye their hair blond to look like Faith Hill? Maybe she's confusing her fan base now.

COSTELLO: I don't understand that.

SMITH: I'll bet she is.

COSTELLO: And the weird thing about this, you mentioned Jenny from the block. Jennifer Lopez got a little, too, like, sheik and fabulous and wanted to be with the home people.

SMITH: Exactly.

COSTELLO: And so Faith Hill sort of doing the same thing with this song?

SMITH: She wants to be --exactly. She wants to come back home, she feels like she's been chasing Shania a long time. I think also with her big album "Breathe," 6.5 million, but the last one was only 2.5 million. So I think she wants to look -- I don't know, humble, back home. Get back into me again. I'm your girl. Root for me.

SHAW: And I think we all know that women with brown hair, hotter!


SMITH: That's what I've always thought.

COSTELLO: We're hot!

BOROWITZ: Another unbiased view from "90 Second Pop."

COSTELLO: Exactly. Thanks to all of you. It was fun as usual. Jessica Shaw, Andy Borowitz, and Danyel Smith. See, wasn't this the most fun you've ever had in your life?

SMITH: Oh, pure excitement. Pure excitement.

COSTELLO: I know what you're going to do after the show now.


O'BRIEN: Is it too late to second that? We are hotter.

COSTELLO: You're hot, Soledad.

O'BRIEN: Back at you, Carol.

CNN LIVE TODAY is up next up. Tomorrow on AMERICAN MORNING, we're talking about Arab-Americans in film. Some say Hollywood's typecast them as terrorists. At least one filmmaker, though, is out to change that. We're going to take a look at his groundbreaking new film. That's tomorrow, 7:00 a.m. Eastern. We're back in just a moment.


O'BRIEN: You know what they say, it takes two to tango. This is me and Brad dancing together. No, joking. These are the dancers that are taking part in the World Tango Championship competition in Buenos Aires, where they really know how to tango. More than 400 couples, strutting their stuff. The competition starts out, goes through Saturday. The top prize is $1,700.

COSTELLO: That's it? O'BRIEN: That's it?

COSTELLO: $1,700?

O'BRIEN: Categories: Ballroom tango, stage tango. $1700? I mean...


O'BRIEN: You can't even fly yourself to Buenos Aires for that kind of money.

COSTELLO: Exactly.


O'BRIEN: Still got to go, hey, your wife is lying about (INAUDIBLE), is what they're going to go. $1,700...

VELSHI: Yes, no, that's...

O'BRIEN: Well, I guess it's all in the joy of victory, if you win.

VELSHI: Right. Keeps them moving, yes.

O'BRIEN: Absolutely.

COSTELLO: I'm becoming nauseated. I think I'd rather have more money.

O'BRIEN: Look how cute they look, though. My daughters take ballet, where they do tango lessons for grown-ups, too. Hope springs eternal, right?

WALLACE: I'd like to know how to dance like that.

VELSHI: I'm glad you all have dance partners so that I didn't have to be thought of wearing that and dancing like that.

COSTELLO: Why? I think they got the nice outfit on...

VELSHI: I've got three feet. Yes, I'm not good.

COSTELLO: I've got three feet.

VELSHI: But thanks for letting me be the guy on the show!

O'BRIEN: We're very happy to have you.

O'BRIEN: That's it. We're out of time today. Let's throw it down to Daryn Kagan. She's over at the CNN Center. She's going to take you through the next few hours on CNN LIVE TODAY. Good morning.