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American Morning

Arrests Made in Huge Heist in England; Leeches Sucking Out Sickness

Aired February 24, 2006 - 06:30   ET


SOLEDAD O'BRIEN, CNN ANCHOR: There have been some arrests made in that huge heist in England. Police say they might be getting closer to cracking the case.
Also this morning, that controversial port deal now delayed. Was it Congress or the president that stepped in? We'll explain what happened.

And medicine goes medieval. Old world remedy, leeches. It could offer some new home, though, to millions of patients. We'll tell you that story, as well.

MILES O'BRIEN, CNN ANCHOR: I have this pain in my neck. Could you pass the leech? I don't know. Ah, that's really delightful.

S. O'BRIEN: Those are so nasty. I mean -- good morning. I hope you're enjoying your breakfast. Here's a leech to show you.

M. O'BRIEN: So much for that.

S. O'BRIEN: Ooh.

M. O'BRIEN: All right. We'll try to do that gingerly for you.

Anyway, let's talk about that big robbery. That big robbery in Great Britain just getting bigger. Authorities now say thieves have stolen perhaps as much as $88 million. So far, three arrests have been made. The robbery took place at a bank depot in Tonbridge, England, about 35 miles southeast of London, and that's where we find our Jim Boulden.

Jim, tell us about the arrests.

JIM BOULDEN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Miles, you're right, it's been three days since those armed raiders came here and stole all that money. And the police say they have now made three arrests.

Two of them were arrested yesterday, and they've been taken to police stations here. We haven't heard a lot about them. It's possible those two are somehow tied to inside information.

The police say this kind of -- this raid, they must have had inside information, they must have known what goes on inside this -- this building here. And so those two arrests very likely inside information. The other one is a 41-year-old woman who was arrested at a bank. Believe it or not, the local media is reporting that she was trying to depazt up to 6,000 pounds of money, and the word "Tonbridge" was on this money. Tonbridge is the town we're standing in right now.

We haven't had that confirmed yet. We do know she was arrested for handling stolen goods. But the only thing stolen from here, Miles, was cash. So we should be hearing in the next few hours more from police more about that arrest.

M. O'BRIEN: So, Jim, the cash actually has "Tonbridge" on it?

BOULDEN: Well, the idea was that some of the cash stolen from here was wrapped and it might have had a name on it.

M. O'BRIEN: Oh, I see.

BOULDEN: Now, that's what some of the press is speculating. And so we might be hearing more about that. But we do know she has been arrested for handling stolen goods. The only thing stolen was cash.

M. O'BRIEN: Wow. You'd think she might take that wrapper off maybe.

Let's talk about the van. There was an image of a van that might have been used in the heist. Tell us what we know about this.

BOULDEN: Yes. Well, the van pulled up right here early Wednesday morning, a 7.5 ton truck. They had to move thousands and thousands and thousands of bills.

That truck was seen on a CCTV video. And they have released two shots of this van pulling up to this gate and also loading some of the money. That van is still missing.

The police have announced in the last hour they have found a number of vehicles involved in this case. One was the Volvo car, and they found that burning last night. So that means that the robbers are still very nearby because that car was found burning very near here.

M. O'BRIEN: All right. A quick question. If they got a shot of the van, did they get a shot of anybody putting money into it?

BOULDEN: They haven't released it to us, but I'm sure they have. They just haven't shown us...

M. O'BRIEN: I suspect so, yes.

BOULDEN: ... those faces yet.

M. O'BRIEN: All right, Jim Boulden. Very interesting. Keep us posted.

Let's get some more headlines in. Kelly Wallace in the newsroom with that. Good morning, Kelly.

KELLY WALLACE, CNN ANCHOR: Good morning again, Miles.

We're beginning with President Bush, who will be addressing growing tensions in Iraq this morning when he gives a speech on the war on terror. The president is urging restraint on all sides following -- following Wednesday's destruction of a major Shia shrine in Iraq. He says the suspected al Qaeda attack is a "evil act" designed to fuel civil war.

CNN will carry President Bush's speech live this morning, and it's set to begin at 10:05 Eastern.

A thankful end to a hostage crisis in Phoenix. A man who allegedly pulled a gun during a legal proceeding is now in custody.

He had taken nine people hostage at a federal office building. One woman managed to escape before police helped secure the release of the remaining hostages last night.

A Florida man is recovering in the hospital after a fiery run-in with a Taser gun. A police officer in Daytona Beach says the man refused to drop a knife, so she aimed the Taser with 50,000 volts at his chest. His shirt immediately burst into flames because his chest pocket had a butane lighter inside.

Perhaps another reason to say hold those fries. Researchers at Harvard University found that women who ate the most potatoes had a somewhat higher risk of getting Type II Diabetes. The risk was even greater among heavy French fry eaters, especially those who ate fewer whole grains. Part of the reason, potatoes cause a rapid, strong rise in blood sugar.

Will millions of BlackBerry users be saying bye-bye to their beloved wireless device? A federal judge could issue a ruling today that would lead to the virtual shutdown of BlackBerry, both sales and services. It would be the latest twist in a long-running patent dispute between a Virginia company and one based in Ontario.

And some tidbits for you Tom-Kat fans. It turns out Katie Holmes was accepted to Columbia University back in 1998, but now, according to AOL entertainment site, the actress' father is demanding a refund from Columbia. The amount, $500, the non-refundable deposit he put down the year she began starring in "Dawson's Creek."

And Soledad and Miles, according to the site, apparently Katie Holmes' dad sent a letter to the university asking for the money back and an official with Columbia told the site, "What does he not understand about the word 'non-refundable'?"

S. O'BRIEN: I'm surprised they wrote that. I'm surprised they didn't just write, "Ha, ha, ha, ha, ha. Have you lost your mind?" Five hundred dollars? The woman is having Tom Cruise's baby. They don't need the $500.

Oh, for goodness sake. That's a bizarre story. We need to know more about that one.

Kelly, thank you.

Thirty-six minutes past the hour. Let's get a look at the forecast this morning.

Good morning, Bonnie.



S. O'BRIEN: All right. Thank you very much.

M. O'BRIEN: Thank you, Bonnie.

Today, in our final hour of AMERICAN MORNING, a special hour on our medical series "30- 40-50." Our medical team, Dr. Sanjay Gupta and Elizabeth Cohen, will be here looking at what you need to know before you go to the doctor, whether you're in your 30s, 40s or 50s. Hence the name of the series "30-40-50."

We think of these things.

And they're going to be taking your questions. If you have one, send us an e-mail now. You can go to our Web site,, or send one to Or you can IM us, AOL Instant Message, CNN_AM, and we'll try to get as many of those comments and questions on the air as possible.

We should warn you, we're not going to take real specific things that would require, you know, a diagnosis by the doctor.

S. O'BRIEN: Like, yes...

M. O'BRIEN: Keep it general.

S. O'BRIEN: ... don't call us with your own little personal issue. But I think there are some really interesting questions to ask about -- one that we were talking about this morning, stress and early hours and weight gain and things like that. All those things. I mean, that's all of us here.

M. O'BRIEN: In other words, news for Soledad, stress, early hours.

S. O'BRIEN: No, that's every -- a lot of people -- a lot of people -- I said don't get personal, but then I'm, like, but here's my question.

M. O'BRIEN: Soledad's questions.

S. O'BRIEN: But seriously, that's my question I'm going to ask about this morning.

M. O'BRIEN: And an important question is, when to do the leeches. Miracles of modern medicine be damned. Send in the leeches, my leech (ph)!

We'll look at why some doctors are prescribing the -- prescribing -- prescribing -- yes, that's it -- the slimy blood suckers.

S. O'BRIEN: That's nasty.

A flawless segue to Mardi Gras.

M. O'BRIEN: There's no way to go with it.

S. O'BRIEN: In all seriousness, though, Mardi Gras is gong to look a little bit different this year because of Hurricane Katrina. We're going to talk this morning to one guy who's going to play a big role in it. His family has been building these floats for more than 70 years. They were hard hit by Katrina.

We'll talk about that.

M. O'BRIEN: We'll also show you one of the strangest disaster drills we have ever seen.

Stay with us.


S. O'BRIEN: That right there was a leech. So how fast would you run screaming from your doctor's office if he recommended putting a leech on you?

Listen to this latest medical advancement for people who are suffering with arthritis, osteoarthritis, actually, specifically. And it might actually be that one of the oldest treatments around is working.

Allan Chernoff has our story this morning.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: That's a great one.

ALLAN CHERNOFF, CNN SR. CORRESPONDENT (voice over): Bloodsucking leeches chomping on Matt Aselton's knee.

MATT ASELTON, PATIENT: I can feel a little bit now, yes.

CHERNOFF: No, Matt is not a "Fear Factor" contestant. The former college football player is seeking relief for his arthritic knee at the Center of Health and Healing of Beth Israel Medical Center.


CHERNOFF: He's the first patient in the initial U.S. study of how leeching may help osteoarthritis victims.

ASELTON: It feels great. They don't hurt. They just kind of wiggle around and drink the blood.

CHERNOFF: It takes about an hour for the leeches to gorge themselves on what amounts to two teaspoons of blood, after which they simply drop off.

ASELTON: Totally cool.

CHERNOFF: Two years ago the FDA approved leeches to promote healing in patients who had fingers, ears or limbs reattached. By cleaning out coagulated blood, leeches promote regrowth of veins.


CHERNOFF: Osteoarthritis, though, is an entirely different application.

(on camera): Though leeches are bloodsuckers, they actually donate to their host in return for their meal, which is why scientists believe they have medical value. As they're sucking, their saliva gos into the bloodstream, and that saliva contains a blood thinner, a painkiller and an agent that expands the blood vessels.

(voice over): Combined, those ingredients in the leech's saliva somehow appear to deliver pain relief and improve mobility. A study in Germany found a single leech treatment helped some arthritic patients for up to six months.

DR. ARYA NEILSEN, CONTINUUM CENTER: In the process of eating, they actually are able to effect a change in the joint that we're unable to see by any other means.

CHERNOFF: But some surgeons are skeptical.

DR. THOMAS SCULCO, ORTHOPEDIC SURGEON: To believe that the anticoagulants that the leech, in fact, releases from its saliva could impact what's happening inside a knee joint is hard for me to imagine.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: And this is oozing a bit. Yes, that's good.

CHERNOFF: Still, Matt Aselton is optimistic his treatment will pay off.

(on camera): Do you feel any different?

ASELTON: Not really. I'm sure there's going to be some residual thing. I don't feel any different right now, but imagine I will.

NEILSEN: Got it.

CHERNOFF: And Arya Neilsen believes leech treatment could be effective not only for pain in knees, but other joints, as well.

(on camera): Most people hear leeches and they think, this is just absolutely gross.

NEILSEN: That was my first impression, as well, until I started to work with leeches.

CHERNOFF: And now?

NEILSEN: And now I think they're fun.

ASELTON: Oh, nice.

CHERNOFF (voice over): Each treatment at the health and hearing center runs $600 and, no, insurance does not cover the cost.

Allan Chernoff, CNN, New York.


S. O'BRIEN: "Now I think they're fun."


S. O'BRIEN: The patient though, believe it or not -- and I guess, you know, he's in a fair amount of pain -- he says he feels noticeably better since he's been treated.

The Continuum Center for Health and Healing is at the Beth Israel Center. It's here in New York. It's actually right around the corner from where I live, and they have a lot of holistic healing processes, and then, you know, actual medical doctors, too.


S. O'BRIEN: The center is legit, I've got to tell you. But the leech, oh, that was nasty.


M. O'BRIEN: How do we go from leeches to Andy? I don't know.

SERWER: I'm not a leech.

M. O'BRIEN: I don't know.

S. O'BRIEN: We're just going to say business news now.

M. O'BRIEN: Business news next.

SERWER: An abrupt change here on the program.

M. O'BRIEN: Yes.

SERWER: Big changes afoot in retailing at Sears, where else?

Plus, get ready for a slim-downed Heine. We're talking beer, of course, coming up next on AMERICAN MORNING.


S. O'BRIEN: Abe Vigoda 85. SERWER: Yes, he's looking good.

S. O'BRIEN: Steven Hill.

SERWER: Steven Hill, the big day for Steven Hill.

S. O'BRIEN: He's 84.

M. O'BRIEN: The big day. The big day.

SERWER: For Steven Hill.

M. O'BRIEN: And once again, we prefer people who older than we are.

S. O'BRIEN: Absolutely.

M. O'BRIEN: So thank you.

S. O'BRIEN: We feel better about ourselves then.


M. O'BRIEN: Somehow, some way, we feel younger now.

S. O'BRIEN: Andy is "Minding Your Business" in just a moment.

First, though, Kelly's got the headlines.

Hey, Kel.

WALLACE: Hello there, Soledad.

A delay in that controversial U.S. ports deal. An Arab company, Dubai Ports World, has agreed to hold off on part of its billion- dollar deal to take over operations at six American ports. Some U.S. lawmakers argue that the agreement could pose a risk to national security. A White House official says the extra time could give Congress a "comfort level" on the deal.

No word yet on how long this delay will last.

President Bush will say more about the growing tensions in Iraq. He is set to deliver an address this morning on the war on terror. CNN will have live coverage of the president's speech, which is set to begin at 10:05 Eastern Time.

There is a three-alarm fire burning right now in New York City. And we're going to show you some pictures from the scene there.

This is Brooklyn, just outside Manhattan. It's at an apartment building. We understand at least four people are confirmed dead, two are believed to be injured. No word on whether any children were inside that apartment building.

The final big weekend of Mardi Gras now under way. Last night there were three parades on St. Charles Avenue. The biggest included a tribute to the area's lost. A float draped in black with a banner reading, "We celebrate life, we mourn the past, we shall never forget."

And, of course, we want it remind you, AMERICAN MORNING live from the Gulf all next week, six months after Katrina.

Well, this might look something -- like something that escaped from a zoo gift shop. But, in fact, Tokyo Zoo was conducted an emergency drill in case of a real animal escape. The zoo crew even pretended to shoot the fake gorilla with a fake tranquilizer dart, and the gorilla played along, as you see, falling right to the ground.

And what can we say, a disappointing finish for American figure skater Sash Cohen. She fell on her first two jumps but still managed to earn a silver medal. The gold went to Japanese skater Shizuka Arakawa, the first medal for Japan in these winter games.

And get this. Just two years ago she had planned to retire.

Russian Irina Slutskaya taking home the bronze.

Bonnie, again, I stayed up way too late watching those results.

SCHNEIDER: I didn't stay up and heard this morning. What a surprise ending that was.

WALLACE: Absolutely.


M. O'BRIEN: All right. Thank you very much, Bonnie Schneider. Appreciate that.

Andy Serwer is here. Sears still kind of flailing away, trying to put a wrench on things, tighten things up a little bit, that kind of thing.

SERWER: Yes. I think that's right.

You know, Sears came out of bankruptcy, they combined with Kmart. They were a big hit with investors. The stock soared. But as far as shoppers go, well, the jury is it still out.

They have been retooling, as Miles has suggested, trying to figure out the right strategy. Now word is they're going to be redoing their off-mall stores, their standalone stores, and converting them into a concept called Sears Grand.

The Sears Grand will have some food and appliances, hardware and toys. They're getting rid of the Sears Essential line.

To me, you know, do you want to go to Sears Grand which has this new stuff, maybe sort of, or do you just want to go to Wal-Mart or Target? You know how I feel about that.

M. O'BRIEN: I think.

SERWER: I mean, you ca see what I think.

M. O'BRIEN: You asked a rhetorical question.

SERWER: I have.

M. O'BRIEN: We think we know how you feel.

S. O'BRIEN: Well, why can't Sears, then, just compete with Wal- Mart or Target?

SERWER: Because...

S. O'BRIEN: I mean, is that what they're trying to do in those stores?

SERWER: It is, but they've falling so far behind people, Soledad. People get used to going to Target and Wal-Mart, especially with Wal-Mart super centers with the food. I think that's really working.

M. O'BRIEN: Why don't they just hone in on the tool and that kind of thing? Because that seems to be an area...

SERWER: Kenmore, tools.

M. O'BRIEN: Yes, that...

SERWER: ... Craftsman.

M. O'BRIEN: That stuff they still seem to own, right? No?

SERWER: They do.

M. O'BRIEN: Yes.

SERWER: That's good, but people want -- you know, they get that and then they want more stuff, so they do the Wal-Mart.

S. O'BRIEN: They want the Lowe's and they want the...

SERWER: Right.

M. O'BRIEN: Right.

SERWER: Yes, Home Depot and stuff.

S. O'BRIEN: Home Depot.

M. O'BRIEN: Right.

SERWER: Want to talk about Heineken. This is an interesting story we're talking about. We were talking about Heines earlier and we meant beer.

S. O'BRIEN: No, you were talking about Heines.

SERWER: I was -- OK, singular, I was talking about Heines.

M. O'BRIEN: Kind of a cheeky guy.

SERWER: Oh, Miles, that was good.

OK. Heineken is rolling out Heineken Light. They're going to be doing this new ad campaign, mostly on the Internet, which is kind of interesting. Get back to that in a second.

Now, they've already made Amstel, which is a light beer. So why do they need to do this? Well, it turns out, Amstel, drank mostly by female beer drinkers...

S. O'BRIEN: Right.

SERWER: ... and so what they want to do is lure men in. This is much like what happened with Coca-Cola.

You know, Coke came out with Tab, and mostly women drank it, and they said, oh, we don't want to mess with a brand by having anything called Diet Coke. Well, eventually, of course, they changed their mind and Diet Coke a huge drink, a huge success. And it didn't cannibalize regular Coke. Tab is kind of hard to find, though, nowadays, isn't it?

M. O'BRIEN: You can get it.

S. O'BRIEN: Yes.

SERWER: You're not a Tab drinker, are you?

M. O'BRIEN: There are Tab junkies. Why, no, I've heard about this.

S. O'BRIEN: I think they're -- I think they're pitching it as an energy drink now, too, because of all the caffeine in Tab.

SERWER: Right. Right. And the thing about it being online, this Heineken Light, is they're advertising on, So what does that say?

S. O'BRIEN: The most important question, how many calories are in it?

SERWER: Don't know.

S. O'BRIEN: Get back to me on that, man.

SERWER: All right. I'll get back to you on that.

S. O'BRIEN: That's all that really matters in a light beer.

SERWER: Yes, true.

S. O'BRIEN: Thank you, Andy.

SERWER: You're welcome.

S. O'BRIEN: Ahead this morning, the day's top stories, including these...

Iraq establishing a daytime curfew trying to control violence there.

And that controversial U.S. port deal delayed. One of the deal's biggest critics is going to join us this morning.

A seven-hour hostage crisis has ended in Phoenix. We've got details on that story.

And the makers of BlackBerry have a big day in court. We'll talk about that.

Plus, Sasha Cohen takes home the silver at the Olympics. We'll take you live to Torino.

Those stories all ahead on AMERICAN MORNING.

We'll be back in just a moment.