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American Morning

Alternative Fuels; Torino 2006

Aired February 21, 2006 - 09:33   ET


SOLEDAD O'BRIEN, CNN ANCHOR: Olympics for many folks, me included, the Olympics begin tonight. The Games obviously going on for more than a week. But now it's time for women's figure skating, and that really is the event at the Winter Games.
Let's get right to CNN's Larry Smith. He's live in Torino.

Hey, Larry, good morning to you. Give us a preview of what we can expect tonight.

LARRY SMITH, CNN SPORTS CORRESPONDENT: Well, Soledad, I'm with you, this is the reason so many people will watch the Winter Olympics is the women's figure skating. The name you have to start with really is Russian Irina Slutskaya. The Russians have been dominant in figure skating, so why not go with what ain't broke right? I mean, they've won men's, pairs, last night's ice dancing, and now Slutskaya, who won silver in Salt Lake four years ago.

Now the three Americans bidding for gold, Sasha Cohen, the 21- year-old who won the U.S. national championship, her first national or world championship in her career. She leads the way. Emily Hughes is next. She's the 17-year-old younger sister of Sarah Hughes, who surprised by winning gold back in Salt Lake City in 2002. She is the injury replacement for Michelle Kwan. She finished third at nationals, and the third, the less talked about, but certainly probably the most athletic of the trio is Kimmie Meissner, the 16- year-old who is just the second American woman ever to land a triple axle. Tanya Harding was the first, and so don't count her out either. These three certainly all very talented and all have their -- are in the own right medal contenders -- Soledad.

O'BRIEN: I kind of have this other drama, which is this Shani Davis and Chad Hendrick. They are going to compete against each other tonight. And they just don't get along is a nice way to put it, right? See that's a good way to spin it, right?

SMITH: That's exactly. They don't get along. Now to be fair, we have not heard yet from Shani Davis and his side. He has not talked to the media during this competition. What it comes to is Chad Hendrick upset that Shani Davis did not compete in the team pursuit last week. Davis put his own individual 1,000 meters competition on Saturday, which he did win gold in, ahead of the team effort, and so Hendrick felt that was kind of selfish. You know, what are you going do? They're both highly competitive. Both have already won gold medal in these Games, as has Joey Cheek. He also running tonight in the 1,500 meter, as well as Derrick Para. He set an Olympic record when he won gold in the 1,500-meter four years ago. So here's what's interesting, is that Hendrick will be in the next-to-last group, and then he's the world record holder, and then Davis runs last. So Davis could have the last laugh in all of this. He will see the time Hendrick sets and know what he will have to do in order to beat him.

O'BRIEN: And I've to send a shout out to Derrick Para. What a great guy. Remember that, with his daughter in the stands. That was a wonderful thing to see four years ago.

SMITH: He was one of the great stories of Salt Lake. Great to see him here, too.

O'BRIEN: Oh, absolutely. Yes, it sure is.

All right, Larry, thank you very much for the update.

Let's get to the medal count for everybody who's keeping track. Germany is leading the way with 18. Norway follows with 17. The U.S. is tied in third place with Austria, 15 medals apiece.

ROB MARCIANO, CNN ANCHOR: That's pretty good, to be that close to Germany and Norway.

OK, President Bush says the U.S. is closer to a day when we won't have to rely on foreign oil for our cars.


GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We seen some progress, by the way, when it comes to hydrogen fuel cells. They tell me that the costs of manufacturing hydrogen fuel cells has been cut in half, which is good. Research is taking place. Could be a new technology available, so that when your children take their first driver's test, or when some of your children take their first driver's test, they will do so in a hydrogen-powered automobile.


MARCIANO: Well, are we really that close to a hydrogen-based solution? Joining us now from Ann Arbor, Michigan is Jean Jennings, editor-in-chief of "Automobile" magazine.

Good morning, Jean.

2020 -- that's the year he's gunning for large-scale production of hydrogen-based vehicles. Do you think that's realistic?

JEAN JENNINGS, "AUTOMOBILE" MAGAZINE: Yes, I do. I think he's right.

And I just want to point out that he said the exact same thing in 2003.

MARCIANO: And you don't think we're any closer, or you're just saying that he's still on track? JENNINGS: 2010 is right. We have to be very realistic about this. First of all, not jump right in with both feet and say this is the be all end all. For one thing, we're still using a substantial amount of energy to produce hydrogen to fuel the vehicles that are out there now. And they cause a lot of greenhouse emissions. So one of the problems is where does the hydrogen come from?

Having said that, there has been a lot of advance out there in the two other areas. One is, where do you store the hydrogen in the car? The third problem is, where do you get it on the road? Where's the infrastructure? And there's a lot going on in those fronts.

Almost every major manufacturer has a hydrogen vehicle or two out there. Many of them are leasing vehicles on a commercial front.

This is a place, by the way, where General Motors has a really good story to tell. They made the first fuel cell in 1967. And they have several different concepts out there. They have partnerships with fuel companies and with other car companies to produce hydrogen fuel cells and to produce fuel. They are going to...

MARCIANO: I'm sorry. Let me interrupt you. The big buzz right now with environmentalist are the hybrid gas and electric cars. You think that's going to go away and these hydrogen cars are going to take over?

JENNINGS: Without a doubt. First of all, this is a stopgap technology. What we're going for is absolute zero emissions and a sustainable resource. So this -- what we want is solar-powered hydrogen or some other way to create hydrogen to then use in your car.

MARCIANO: OK. Well, President Bush seems to be on board with you, as well. Here's what he said yesterday about hydrogen.


BUSH: When hydrogen is used in a device called a fuel cell, it can deliver enough electricity to power a car that emits pure water instead of exhaust fumes. It's an exciting new technology. We're a ways down the road from bringing it to fruition, but we are spending $1.2 billion over five years to research this important opportunity.


MARCIANO: Who is we? Where is that 1.2 billion going? Does it get spread out to the auto companies? Or is independent U.S. government type of research?

JENNINGS: Don't know where that money is going, but that is the figure he used in 2003. So I don't know if we're in those five years now. I can tell you California's spending money -- and to produce their own initiative. They're the California fuel cell, I believe, it's initiative. And I don't know if the money is going there. And I don't know if the money is going to the government. There are two places, Ballard and UTC, which are the main producers of hydrogen fuel cells. MARCIANO: Well, let's hope the money is going to the right place and we can get this exciting new technology on board in the next 15 years.

Quick question, they look kind of weird, some of these cars. Would you buy one?

JENNINGS: Well, Honda has one right now that they are leasing to a private consumer and it doesn't look weird at all, doesn't look weird at all. And I'm ready for it.

MARCIANO: All right. Good news. We'll have our pocketbooks ready as well.

Thanks, Jean Jennings, editor-in-chief of "Automobile" magazine, talking about the hydrogen-based solution, getting rid of oil-based cars. Thanks very much.

JENNINGS: Thank you.


O'BRIEN: Andy is "Minding Your Business." That's coming up next on AMERICAN MORNING. What do you have for us?

ANDY SERWER, "FORTUNE" MAGAZINE: I am, Soledad. This is what I've got.

What happens when the Amish or Mennonites get sick? Well, first of all, they negotiate better rates with hospitals, but they also take the train to Tijuana. It's a great story, coming up next on AMERICAN MORNING. Stay tuned.


O'BRIEN: Welcome back, everybody. Let's get right to Andy. He's "Minding Your Business."

Good morning.

SERWER: Good morning, Soledad.

Let's go down and see how stocks are faring at this hour on Wall Street. There's the Big Board, up 24 points. Those Dow Jones Industrials are. A couple stocks moving this morning. Wal-Mart announced a good fourth quarter, but warned about next year. That's sending that stock down one percent. Home Depot doing very well, firing on all cylinders. Earnings up 23 percent. That stock is moving up.

And Merck is moving up as well. You may remember on Friday hearing over the weekend that a jury found the question was not liable in a retrial in a federal case where there was a mistrial. Still, more Vioxx trials to come for that company, however -- lots more, thousands more. This is a great story in "The Wall Street Journal" you might want to check out this morning concerning the Amish and Mennonites, who of course live in Pennsylvania. They live what they call plain lives, of course, as you well know, not using electricity. But they do believe in health care insurance. So they went to the heart of Lancaster Regional Medical Center, and began negotiating with the hospital administration, and they drove a pretty hard bargain. They got their costs of care down to about Medicare level, which is about half of what an uninsured patient's cost would be.

Now the story, and this is where it gets really interesting also goes on to talk about how the Anabaptists are both of these religious sects are called together, traveled to Tijuana by train -- Mexico to seek medical treatment, that is, again, below cost. Of course, we know a loft people go to Mexico to get medical treatment and medications because it's cheaper than here. But they take the train all the way there. And there are special clinics which have set up to do business specifically with these people, and they're actually sending sales reps back to Pennsylvania. So you can see how...

O'BRIEN: That must be weird to see Amish people walking around in Tijuana.

SERWER: Apparently they are. The story talks about the women wearing the starched bonnets walking around that part of the world.

O'BRIEN: I mean, seriously, don't you think?

SERWER: But you can see how our medical system, when you try to stop something here, it creates another business there.

O'BRIEN: Absolutely.

SERWER: And it's just fascinating stuff. And you really should check out this article. Great piece.

O'BRIEN: Yes, it sounds good. All right, Andy, thank you.

SERWER: Thank you.

MARCIANO: When there's a market, people show up.

SERWER: Yes, that's it.

"CNN LIVE TODAY" is coming up next. Daryn Kagan is at the CNN Center in Atlanta. What are you working on?

DARYN KAGAN, CNN ANCHOR: Good morning to you, Rob.

Straight ahead, we are challenging "The Da Vinci Code." The controversial bestseller is moving to the big screen. And so to head off the critics, filmmakers are giving them a pulpit on the Internet. We'll have a preview for you.

SERWER: And women's figure skating hits the ice in Torino. Who will skate away with gold? I'll ask someone who knows all about Olympic pressure. 1998 Olympic gold medalist Tara Lipinski is my guest. We'll see you in a few minutes.

O'BRIEN: Looking forward to that. That's terrific.

Daryn, thank you.

And guess what we have coming up this morning, Queen Latifah. I love her so much. She's going to join us live in the studio. There she is, coming our way. Her career has never been hotter.

SERWER: Hey, Queen.

O'BRIEN: Do you call her Queen?

SERWER: I do. She is royalty. I call her, her highness.

O'BRIEN: She is royalty. But you know, today, she is honoring women who are making a difference. We're going to talk about this important project. "A.M. Pop" is just ahead.

Stay with us, everybody. We're back in a moment.


O'BRIEN: Here we go, U-N-I-T-Y.

Queen Latifah. There she is in that video, celebrating her new star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. The star actress and of course hip hop artist. That's her song you're hearing in the background there.

Positive role model for women around the world. Today she is in New York. She's going to honor five women who have helped inspire confidence and self-esteem in other women. They're called the Curvation Project Confidence Awards.

Queen Latifah joins us this morning.

I'm such a huge fan.


O'BRIEN: Thank you for coming in to talk to us. We appreciate it. Now we should explain the Curvation -- is this project, lingerie for women. And you're the creative director, and you're one of the...

LATIFAH: I'm one of the endorsers of the product.

O'BRIEN: ... as well.

LATIFAH: And so...

O'BRIEN: And I think to a large degree, you have been a real inspiration. Because here you are, you know, selling lingerie. And you're not like what we might normally picture as the bra and panty model. I mean, right? LATIFAH: I'm not what you might typically imagine, but I am a typical consumer. So there are a lot of women who relate to me and my size and the whole brand.

O'BRIEN: Relate to you -- you're so modest -- who love you.

LATIFAH: You know, I mean, It's mutual. I mean, I try to love myself. I try to exude confidence. Because I know it was tough for me growing up at different points in my life. And so it's kind of been my mission to sort of present a more confident view.

O'BRIEN: In the media, you'd think like only people who are size 2 or size zero get to wear bras and panties, right? I mean, to some degree. Like everybody's like this little stick figure! I mean, it's true. And it's like, real people actually, you know, get to wear cute stuff.

LATIFAH: Yes, real people wear cute stuff. We like cute stuff. So...

O'BRIEN: Tell me about these awards.

LATIFAH: Well, this award is all -- Curvation was kind of founded for curvaceous women, and to exude confidence in curvaceous women, which is something Queen Latifah has always been about. Not to speak of myself in the third person, but I've always been about that. So we, you know, linked up. And we've been working together for years and we share that common mission of inspiring confidence in women. So we decided to honor some people who -- in this country who have been sort of promoting the same idea.

O'BRIEN: Five women got picked. But, yes, hundreds of applications.

LATIFAH: Over 350 applications.

O'BRIEN: And these are pretty remarkable stories.

LATIFAH: Everyone had great stories. I mean, everyone is doing a great job. It was very difficult to narrow it down to these people but, you know, they're all special and we wanted to make sure that there was something we could do for them.

O'BRIEN: Let's talk about two of them. And it almost like Publisher's Clearinghouse. Because you had the videotape rolling when you went to tell them that had been nominated and, in fact, had won.

The first is Lorraine Bowman (ph). She's from San Diego, California. Let's roll her videotape, then you can tell me a little bit about her and why she won. Here it is. Whoo, you won, you won!

LATIFAH: Well, Lorraine is special because, of course, she inspires confidence in young women. She's an entrepreneur and she's employed a lot of young people and helped them to come up and really feel good about themselves, and connect them back to good relationships with their parents. Because sometimes -- you know, my mom was a teacher and, you know there were things that students would tell my mother that they wouldn't even tell their parents. So I guess I relate especially to her and how she connects with the young people.

O'BRIEN: Yes, she's a pretty amazing woman. And the next we'll meet -- again, the next person, even more amazing. Yvonne Pointer (ph). She's from Cleveland, Ohio. And what a tragic story and a great -- look, she has no idea. She's about to run back inside.

LATIFAH: Like what's going on?

O'BRIEN: Tell me about her story.

LATIFAH: Well, you know, Yvonne had a kind of rough time growing up and dealt with some alcoholism issues and things like that. Early pregnancy. But her daughter really was an inspiration to getting her back on the right path and on her feet. And unfortunately, her daughter was abducted and murdered.

O'BRIEN: And the crime never solved.

LATIFAH: No. And so...

O'BRIEN: And she was a teenager, right?

LATIFAH: So, you know, she's been all about victim rights, victim advocation and...

O'BRIEN: She's got a scholarship in her daughter's name, which is amazing.

LATIFAH: Yes, a scholarship and...

O'BRIEN: And she wrote a book.

LATIFAH: So she is just one of those amazing people that's bounced back from a tragic situation and really inspires other people. So we got to give her props for what she's been able to do...

O'BRIEN: And all of them, I got to say, I mean, everybody who won is really, really remarkable.


O'BRIEN: It's so great to have you in New York. I got to tell you, I took my two daughters...

LATIFAH: I'm on CNN! I love it.

O'BRIEN: ... who are four and five -- four and five -- to see "Last Holiday," which is such a great movie.

LATIFAH: Oh, man. That's so cool.

O'BRIEN: It was so much fun, and it's nice to have something like I can watch and they can watch, too.

LATIFAH: That you can actually take them to see, right.

O'BRIEN: You know, which is cute. What are you working on now, artistically speaking?

LATIFAH: Well, I got another movie for your kids to go to.

O'BRIEN: Yes, really? Oh, of course, which is the animated. Out next month, right?

LATIFAH: "Ice Age 2." Yes, "Ice Age 2" will be coming out. And I'm working on a next album, so we can tour this summer. So I'm just looking to have fun and enjoy life.

O'BRIEN: We are so happy for you. You are just so blessed and it's so great to have you.

LATIFAH: Feel free to come join us at the awards today.

O'BRIEN: Well, you know, and feel free to come join us right here in our -- well, not -- this is our temporary studio. But we're moving.

LATIFAH: I think I have to come back and hang out with you.

O'BRIEN: We would love -- hang out with us any time you want. We're happy to hang out with the queen. Thank you so much.

LATIFAH: Thank you, Soledad. It's so cool to talk to you.

O'BRIEN: Congratulations to all the winners today.

LATIFAH: I sure will pass that on.

O'BRIEN: Quick break. We're back in just a moment. Stay with us, everybody.


O'BRIEN: A reminder. Next week on AMERICAN MORNING, we're going to be coming to you live from New Orleans. We've got special coverage of the first Mardi Gras since Hurricane Katrina struck New Orleans. And since we're taking the show on the road, we're going to be highlighting this big old thing.

MARCIANO: Look at that ride.

O'BRIEN: This is CNN's brand new state of art satellite truck. Can you tell it's a CNN truck with that logo?

MARCIANO: Looks like the jackets.

O'BRIEN: It's going to serve as our home base or bed since I will be sleeping in -- no, I'm kidding. We're not going to be sleeping that truck. It's our first stop -- in all seriousness -- is going to be CNN's Gulf Coast bureau. And remember, we're going to be coming to you live from New Orleans. That begins on Monday.