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American Morning

New Air Safety Rules; Juror in Chief?; Katrina: We Are Not OK

Aired December 02, 2005 - 08:59   ET


MILES O'BRIEN, CNN ANCHOR: Good morning. I'm Miles O'Brien.
New rules for airline travelers being announced minutes from now. How will they affect your travel plans? We'll have a live report from Washington.

SOLEDAD O'BRIEN, CNN ANCHOR: We're monitoring those pictures from the National Press Club.

I'm Soledad O'Brien.

We've got exceptional surgery under exceptional circumstances. That's what doctors are saying this morning about the first face transplant.

Details ahead.

M. O'BRIEN: And President Bush in the jury box? The White House says, hold on a minute, but the judge may not want to wait so long. A live report from the White House on this AMERICAN MORNING.

Mr. President, Waco County, Texas, would like you to serve as a...

S. O'BRIEN: On the jury.

M. O'BRIEN: ... member of a jury. And the summons hasn't quite gotten where it should be. I think, you know, mail forwarding to 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue.

S. O'BRIEN: And he's kind of busy and all.

M. O'BRIEN: There's that, too. There should be like a presidential exemption on that, don't you think?

S. O'BRIEN: Well, and he's not even in the right state to be serving.

M. O'BRIEN: That, too.

S. O'BRIEN: So...

M. O'BRIEN: But, you know, it is our civic duty.

S. O'BRIEN: Many issues. We're following that story very closely. We're also going to be talking about a security briefing that's about to get under way in Washington, D.C. You're looking at live pictures from the National Press Club, and that's where the TSA is going to be briefing us about the very new -- or changes in these new rules about how airline passengers are being searched for some items, significant changes, really, in the way since things have been done since 9/11.

Details now in our CNN "Security Watch." And Jeanne Meserve live for us at Reagan National Airport in Washington, D.C.

Jeanne, have passengers told you what they think about these new changes?

JEANNE MESERVE, CNN HOMELAND SECURITY CORRESPONDENT: Really varied reaction to these rules which are intended to give screeners more time to search for explosives, which authorities consider the greatest threat to aviation. And also, to make screening a little less predictable so terrorists would have a harder time gaming the system.

Let me tell you what the changes are.

More pat-downs of passengers. They're going to be pulling people out of line and patting not just their backs and their abdomens, but also their arms and their legs below mid-thigh. The TSA, in a briefing to airports yesterday, said this would be done on a random basis, there would not be profiling by ethnicity or by race.

In addition, they're also changing the rules on what you could bring on in your carry-on bag. Small scissors like these. Scissors under four inches of length are going to be allowed. So are tools like this, tools under seven inches.

Some tools will still be banned, things like drills and saws. Also, knives still on the forbidden list.

Reaction from the travelers we talked to this morning very mixed.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Listen, these guys got to do what they've got to do make it safe for us, and I'm all for that. So whatever they feel necessary, I think that's what we should go by.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: People are used to the rules now, and I think they should just leave them the way they are.


MESERVE: Flight attendants and some members of Congress are not happy with these changes. They're asking, has the TSA forgotten what happened on 9/11? But some travel groups endorsing them, saying they believe this will make air travel safety. They're expected to go into effect December 20.

Back to you.

S. O'BRIEN: So Jeanne, why are these changes being made now?

MESERVE: Being made now because there's a new administrator at the FAA -- excuse me, at the TSA who has a different view of how security should be done. Also, a recognition that explosives have -- have gained an importance. Also, a lot of screener time is spent on those very small objects.

They say about 25 percent of the time they're pulling things like those small scissors out of bags. They want to put them -- have their attention more put on the explosive threat rather than the threat of the small objects. And they say there have been other changes in security that have made airplanes safer. You've got reinforced cockpit doors, you have federal air marshals, and overall, a better screening procedure.

S. O'BRIEN: Jeanne Meserve is at Reagan National Airport for us this morning.

Jeanne, thanks.

We're monitoring the TSA press conference. We're expecting to hear from Kip Hawley in just a little bit. Right now they are doing some introductions, and we'll bring that to you live as soon as they get right to it. We're going to monitor it -- Miles.

M. O'BRIEN: Let's go across the river now to the White House. President Bush taking a pass of becoming America's juror in chief, at least for the time being.

Kathleen Koch live at the White House with that story.

Kathleen, when was the president called to serve?

KATHLEEN KOCH, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Miles, and we'll tell you, there's a background story here. "The Waco Tribune-Herald" broke the story yesterday, and that was how the White House found out about it.

Spokesman Scott McClellan said it was through media reports that they heard that a jury summons to serve on the jury in McLennan County, Texas, had been sent to President Bush's address in Crawford, Texas. But apparently three that summons was never received.


SCOTT MCCLELLAN, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: Apparently the summons was for Monday, December 5. We have since called the court to inform them that the president has other commitments on Monday, and that he would like to reschedule his jury duty. And so we'll be working with the court to reschedule his jury duty.


KOCH: Now, coincidentally, it was just last week that former presidential candidate Senator John Kerry was selected to serve on jury duty in Massachusetts. Senator Kerry served for two days as jury foreman on a civil case in Boston. The senator said he was a little surprised at being selected, but he said it was very interesting and instructive, and that he enjoyed it.

And Scott McClellan did emphasize yesterday that the president is -- while his jury duty is going to be rescheduled, the president does believe that serving on a jury is an important civic responsibility -- Miles.

M. O'BRIEN: Well, we're glad we got that message out. All right.

Kathleen Koch, thanks very much.

KOCH: You bet.

Let's check some other headlines now. Carol Costello here with that.

Good morning, Carol.

CAROL COSTELLO, CNN ANCHOR: Good morning, Miles.

And good morning to all of you.

It could be shaping up to be a very happy holiday season on Wall Street. The Dow Jones Industrial jumped more than 100 points on Thursday, the best upswing in a month. Stocks are at a four-year high and just within the 11000 mark on the Dow. And the 215,000 jobs that were created last month all good signs for the economy. The jobs report just released this morning.

We'll have much more business news later on, because you know Andy will be in.

Everyone is talking about that face transplant operation in France. So, what do you think the woman said when she woke up after surgery? Well, doctors told the press, she said, "Thank you."

Doctors say she's doing well and that they carried out the procedure because it was the only way to help the woman. She had lost her lips and nose after being mauled by a dog. The partial face transplant came from a brain-dead woman.

Remember the mall shooting in Tacoma, Washington? Well, we're getting a better idea of how it went down.

Police releasing chilling 911 calls apparently made from inside the mall. The suspected shooter telling the 911 operator he had an assault weapon. Listen.


OPERATOR: Sir, what is it we can do for you here at 911?

SUSPECT: Oh, I'm just alerting them that I'm about to start shooting right now.

OPERATOR: Where are you located? Sir, where are you located?

SUSPECT: Follow the screams.

OPERATOR: I'm sorry, you're on a cell phone. I don't know where you are.

SUSPECT: Follow the screams.

OPERATOR: The cell phone doesn't give me any location, sir.

SUSPECT: Follow the screams.


COSTELLO: The suspected shooter calling 911 himself. And then on that -- on that phone call on that tape you hear the shots rang out. People understandably afraid. Here's a call from one eyewitness.


OPERATOR: Just stay where you're at, OK?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: OK. He's -- everyone's running. I think he's coming again. Please hurry.

OPERATOR: Do whatever you need to do to keep yourself safe.



OPERATOR: Maldonado is accused of shooting six people. He has pleaded not guilty.

In the meantime it's a -- pretty much a snow day across parts of Washington State. Drivers out there, well, you may not like it, but the skiers are having a good time.

And in the Sierra Mountains of California, some tough going for these drivers as well. This is Interstate 80, where the snow has been piling up. And we could be getting some on the East Coast. We'll hear from Jacqui in just a minute.

And in Ohio, one mom says hold on. Her 6-year-old son might be kicked out of school for touching a classmate's bottom. The school district claims the first-grader was being excessively affectionate and acting inappropriate.

Mom says he was suspended once for touching a girl's bottom, but this latest incident was an accident and her son apologized. And the mother is now appearing on the local media in Cincinnati, Ohio. Maybe we'll get more information on this story, oh, in the hours ahead.

Let's head for the forecast center now to check in with Jacqui Jeras.


M. O'BRIEN: Coming up on the program, we'll check in with one of the people we met in our "Week of Giving" last week. Find out why she says small signs of progress in New Orleans really don't mean much to her.

S. O'BRIEN: Plus, more people in New Orleans' Lower Ninth Ward get their first up-close look at the damage. Can they rebuild? We're going to take a closer look at that, too. That's ahead on AMERICAN MORNING.


M. O'BRIEN: Live pictures, the city of New Orleans. This is Lee Circle in the background there. You see the Crescent City Connection.

Traffic moving a little bit there. The center part of the town coming alive to some degree, but large parts of the city still in the dark, not even any drinkable water.

Let's catch you up on a family we first told you about last week. You might remember Will Tebo from our "Week of Giving" series. He's a fine young man. He's now attending Georgetown Prep in Bethesda, Maryland, free of charge after his school, also a Jesuit school, was destroyed in New Orleans.

Now, tomorrow, a letter written by Will's mother, Cecile Tebo, will be published in the New Orleans "Times-Picayune." In it she stresses the city of New Orleans, her city, and its people are not OK.

Here's the letter in Cecile's own words.


CECILE TEBO, NEW ORLEANS RESIDENT: "So, my friend calls me from North Carolina and says, 'Wow, I was just watching the news and it looks as though the city is doing great. The French Quarter looks wonderful and I see that the zoo is back. You must be so much better.'"

"My response, 'No, we are not better at all. We have received no assistance from either our homeowners or flood insurance despite the fact that we met with adjusters in September. The home we are renting will no longer be available in three weeks.'

'Our trailer has not arrived. We have never met with a FEMA adjuster. We are broke and we will be homeless again in three weeks. No, we are not OK.'"

"I know I speak for thousands and thousands of people who called New Orleans their home. The attention received in early days of this tragedy was relentless. Our pain and suffering touched every home in this country, in this nation, on a daily and sometimes hourly basis. But now, as thousands continue to suffer and drown in grief and despair, the cameras have stopped, the attention has left us to suffer alone in fear and broken promises."

"I sat today with hundreds at the FEMA station. The looks in everyone's eyes display the heartache and sadness of what has happened to them."

"The insurance companies have robbed us of future hopes and are responsible for the now ongoing mental anguish of uncertainty, fear, and inability for many of us to even take a step in the rebuilding process."

"My job is to work the streets with our heroic police officers, trying to assist them in response to calls of a mental health nature. The calls these days are generally from those who have given up. They have lost everything and are completely devastated."

"A precious, dear friend of mine took his life not long ago. The agony of what lay ahead was simply too great to bear. Others are making this same choice because the agony, hopelessness and helplessness are greater than one's own ability to cope."

"Why is the media, who tends to love the horror stories, not sharing this news? We are living the ultimate nightmare."

"No, we are not OK, and we cry for your help."


M. O'BRIEN: Cecile Tebo joining us now from New Orleans.

Cecile, it must have been hard to write that one.

TEBO: It was. It was. But we are -- we are so desperate, and I sunk so low myself that I woke up Monday morning and was just, like, I have to do more. And out came that letter.

M. O'BRIEN: Yes. It must have been -- when your friend said, hey, things look great, that must have really triggered it, because I think many people in New Orleans have this sense that the world has kind of moved on to other things, whether it's the war in Iraq or just Christmas shopping.

TEBO: Yes.

M. O'BRIEN: And largely has forgotten the plight of New Orleans. And, you know, in fairness, we should talk about the whole Gulf region here. There are parts of Mississippi where people are feeling the same pain.

TEBO: Absolutely. I mean, and there is a feeling of total abandonment, and that was a fear. That was a fear.

It was interesting. My husband last night, he said, "You know, we all remember 9/11. How many people know the date of this hurricane? How many people are thinking 8/29?"

M. O'BRIEN: Maybe we should all be thinking that way, 8/29. TEBO: Yes, 8/29.

M. O'BRIEN: Give us a sense. You know, you refer to the frustration of the insurance adjusters and FEMA. Give us a sense of what that's like fighting that battle on a daily basis. You must at times want to just throw your hands up and give up.

TEBO: Oh, we have received nothing. Nothing. And we started early in the game. We started September 10 meeting with adjusters, talking to our insurance companies, really feeling like we were ahead of the game. And to this date we have not received anything.

It is constant phone calls. We have not met with a FEMA adjuster, we have not received our trailer.

None of the promises that were made to us are coming through. And I was one of the ones to come back to this city. We were encouraged to come back. I work for the police department, I came back, I started working, assuming that our insurance companies would come through as they have promised us.

You know, we are insured, and part of that insurance is that we will be taken care of when our world crumbles. And it has not happened to any of us. I speak for thousands.

I talk to people every day just wondering, "Have you received anything?" And the answer is always no. And there is just total disbelief.

I've paid insurance premiums for 25 years, and if I didn't pay on time I got penalized, right? Paid the penalty. Where are they?

M. O'BRIEN: Well, yes, it's supposed to be a contract, isn't it? You know?

TEBO: Yes, it is.

M. O'BRIEN: We were looking at your House, and I know you've actually just sort of started some work on spec, if you will.

TEBO: Yes. Well, out of our pocket.

M. O'BRIEN: Yes. And I know that comes with a great financial burden along with all that.

TEBO: Yes.

M. O'BRIEN: Do you regret going back? Do you think maybe it would have been smarter to stay away? And do you think a lot of people might feel -- might feel the same way?

TEBO: Miles, I mean, I'm tossed. I am from here. This is my great city.

My heritage is here, my husband's heritage is here. Our children's home is here. They wanted to come back. And we took the risk. And being a parent, being 45 years of age, I am filled in fear that maybe we didn't make the right choice. And if we didn't, what's going to happen to us next?

M. O'BRIEN: All right. We wish you well. Stay in touch with us, OK? Keep us posted.

TEBO: I will. Thank you.

M. O'BRIEN: As we mentioned before, Cecile Tebo's letter will be published tomorrow in the "Times-Picayune." You can see it online -- Soledad.

S. O'BRIEN: Ahead this morning, is there enough charity to go around? Recent disasters may have tapped out donors. So what does that mean for the needy this holiday season? We're going to take a look at that just ahead on AMERICAN MORNING.


S. O'BRIEN: Charities count on getting about half their donations this time of year, but with the tsunami and Hurricane Katrina and the earthquake in Pakistan, donations are way down. So in our "Extra Effort" today, a way to help, replacing the usual holiday gifts with donations to charities.

Lauren Young is a personal business editor for "Businessweek."

Nice to see you.


S. O'BRIEN: I think this is a terrific idea. People talk about Katrina fatigue, just that no one's -- that you hear too much about the tragedy at some point. Do you think there's donor fatigue in the same way, people just cannot think about donating anymore?

YOUNG: There is donor fatigue. People opened up their wallets earlier this year, and this is the crucial time for most charities. The time between Thanksgiving and Christmas is when they get about half of all their donations.

S. O'BRIEN: So just those five weeks?

YOUNG: Just those five weeks. About $70 billion is typically poured out to charities.

S. O'BRIEN: We were talking earlier about gifts for people you just don't know really what to get, so often you kind of just do a default, you just pick out something. I guess really donations to a charity are a great idea for those people and others.

YOUNG: I think it's a really good way to give something. Who needs more stuff, right? But it's a way of acknowledging that person, and at the same time doing good. And you get the tax break. You get the tax break for writing the check.

S. O'BRIEN: Right. So win, win, win all around.

YOUNG: Right.

S. O'BRIEN: Let's get to some of the Web sites. The first one we want to talk about is, which is a really easy name to remember. What do you find there?

YOUNG: This is a really good site, especially if you don't know the person that well, because they help you identify charities. For example, I have a sister-in-law who is a vegetarian. I can go and look on animal rights and maybe match up and find the right organization to give for her. And they also have a lot of background information on the charities, too.

S. O'BRIEN: What's that?

YOUNG: I love this site, because you can just give a charity check, and then the person gets to go and pick the charity. So instead of putting the onus on you, I think this is a really good idea because people, then, they get to sit down and think about it.

S. O'BRIEN: They can spend your money in a charitable way.

YOUNG: I love it when other people spend my money.

S. O'BRIEN: Yes. Do they take a percentage out?

YOUNG: They take a small fee typically for this. It's a $5 processing fee at It's not so big, but they are -- they have to pay for their rent and to keep the lights on, too. So you're not paying a lot, but you are paying a little bit.

S. O'BRIEN: You have some sites that I think are great for kids, because I think this is the time of year when it's really good to get kids involved, you know, in remembering those who are less fortunate.

So let's start with this one, for kids.

YOUNG: I like this site a lot, because you actually pick something that you're going to give. For example, for $5 you can buy five chicks (ph) for a family in Nicaragua. So it's something very tangible that the kids can understand. Or a tire for a healthcare worker in Africa.

So you let the kids sit down and decide. And I think it's really important. They don't need any more battery-operated toys. And no assembly required is really good for parents.

S. O'BRIEN: And in $5 increments, it really is money that kids can actually give their own money if they had some saved up.

YOUNG: And I would encourage that, too. I mean, maybe even encourage them just the way -- and this is important -- if your company matches when you're writing out these checks, double check on that. But maybe you should be asking your children to be matching a donation, too.

S. O'BRIEN: Mommy and daddy match.


S. O'BRIEN: Secret Santa?

YOUNG: I love Secret Santa because this matches you up with toy drives in your neighborhood. All you have to do is plug in your zip code. So I had fun doing that last night. But you -- all over the country you can go on and find a toy drive, and then you can actually go to the site and deliver those toys.

S. O'BRIEN: And that's at

How about these,, and

Let's start with What's there?

YOUNG: These are the crucial Web sites to do the background checks on the charities. Guidestar has a ton of information on charities all across the country. They let you know how they're spending your money, if they're spending a lot of money sending out those mailers as opposed to programming.

S. O'BRIEN: So the percentage of your money that's actually being spent to the charitable cause.

YOUNG: And it's really important, because you want to be giving to groups where your money has an impact and it's not being spent just to send out another mailing and give you those free labels that you probably put on your envelopes when you're sending out your...

S. O'BRIEN: So that's guidestar -- why am I having trouble saying that?

CharityNavigator -- let's put that one up as well -- .org. And These are all good sites to do a little background check.

YOUNG: Great sites for background checks, and a great way to give.

S. O'BRIEN: All right. Lauren Young, nice to see you, as always. Thank you very much for some great advice.

YOUNG: Happy Holidays, Soledad.

S. O'BRIEN: Thank you. Likewise.

Still to come this morning, a return to the Ninth Ward. We're going to talk to one resident who's got to decide now whether she's going to rebuild or just relocate. We'll take you live to New Orleans just ahead on AMERICAN MORNING.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK) S. O'BRIEN: Go ahead, hand them in.

M. O'BRIEN: Yes. Anyway, that's Paula Abdul that we're hearing there.

She's going sing for us. No, she won't sing for us.

S. O'BRIEN: I love that girl.

M. O'BRIEN: And she's going to sing for us. No, she won't sing for us. That's not how it works.

S. O'BRIEN: No. We want to talk to her. We want to dish dirt with her about "American Idol." Come on.

M. O'BRIEN: A little dish dirting. Dish dirting? Dirt dishing.

Anyway, you know, we should ask her about the cantankerous one, Simon. Because he just...

S. O'BRIEN: For five more years. And they never seem to get along. And I wonder how much of that is fake and how much of that is, you know, sort of good drama.

M. O'BRIEN: I mean, is it an old Dave Letterman thing, or is it, you know -- who knows? In any case...

S. O'BRIEN: And she's so nice. And I wonder, when you see the really bad people on "American Idol," I mean, doesn't she ever want to break out of the niceness and just say, "You suck?"

M. O'BRIEN: She never really says a mean thing, does she?

S. O'BRIEN: Never.

M. O'BRIEN: But anyway -- there she is. As sweet as she can. She always comes up with something nice, even when they're...

S. O'BRIEN: Even when they're terrible, yes.

M. O'BRIEN: Like this, listen.

S. O'BRIEN: Yes, this guy.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I don't really care about your opinion. I really could care less, because I'm 22 years old and...

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: She's so cushy, so fine. I'm inclined to drool.


M. O'BRIEN: I love it when they get back in their face.

S. O'BRIEN: Ooh, yes.

M. O'BRIEN: "I don't care what you say. I'm going to be a star. And I'm going to prove it to you." And they storm out. That's my favorite part.

S. O'BRIEN: And then they burst in tears.

M. O'BRIEN: Yes, because they have cameras all the way, of course.

S. O'BRIEN: Yes.

M. O'BRIEN: Anyway, we'll ask her all about that stuff in just a bit.