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American Morning

What's Next For Jill?; Iran Earthquakes; Search For Missing; Immigration Battle

Aired March 31, 2006 - 06:00   ET


SOLEDAD O'BRIEN, CNN ANCHOR: Good morning. Welcome to Friday. I'm Soledad O'Brien.

Her ordeal is over, but when is Jill Carroll coming home? We're live in Baghdad with the latest on her release and what comes next.

S. O'BRIEN: A deadly earthquake wiped out villages in Iran, dozens of people are now dead, hundreds more are injured. We're live with the very latest on this developing story this morning.

In Kansas, roaring tornadoes, raging fires, the Midwest hit hard by severe storms.

M. O'BRIEN: Model behavior at its worst. Naomi Campbell booked for assault, again, and still looking marvelous, we might add. What happens now for her?

And burning fat in the heartland. When the games aren't about winning, it's all about losing.

S. O'BRIEN: We begin this morning with any word of when will Jill Carroll is coming back to the U.S. We believe, at this time, she's still in Baghdad.

For more details, let's go right to senior international correspondent Nic Robertson. He's live for us in Baghdad.

Hey, Nic, good morning.


We know that Jill is still here, we just don't know when she's going to be leaving or even how she's going to leave at this stage.

S. O'BRIEN: Quick question for you, Nic. When we see these pictures. You know yesterday we certainly all noted how calm and collected, frankly, Jill Carroll looked right after her release. Now there's word, though, that her captors threatened her right before they let her go. What did they say to her?

ROBERTSON: Well, we know from "The Christian Science Monitor" that they told her that she shouldn't have any communication with the Americans. She shouldn't go to the Green Zone, because the Green Zone, the secure international zone here, according her captors, was infiltrated by Mujahedeen, infiltrated by insurgents. And that if she communicated and talked with Americans that would be bad for her.

No doubt she had in the back of her mind or maybe the insurgents had put there the case of the Italian journalist who was freed, only to be -- have her vehicle shot at on the road to the airport in Baghdad. So perhaps, at that moment, she was very scared about what to do next.

Indeed, we understand it was a "Christian Science Monitor" reporter here in Baghdad that said, no, what you need to be doing now is going to the Green Zone and getting in that sort of secure environment -- Soledad.

S. O'BRIEN: And also the details about her release now, Nic, that we are learning from "The Christian Science Monitor" really interesting, I think.

ROBERTSON: Absolutely. The details are fascinating here. We know that she appeared on television very soon after her release. Well, apparently, when she was taken to this Sunni party political headquarters here in Baghdad, she was told that the interview she was going to do was for their internal party use only, yet within minutes, it turned up on Iraqi television.

And, at that moment, she hadn't been with U.S. officials. She wasn't yet, perhaps in her own mind, out of the danger zone and into entire safety. This was still a part of the process of getting to a very, very safe and secure place. There were two journalists kidnapped right outside that building where she gave the press conference just last month -- Soledad.

S. O'BRIEN: Nic Robertson with an update on Jill Carroll and her situation this morning.

Thanks, Nic. We'll check back with you a little bit later -- Miles.

M. O'BRIEN: Western Iran shaken by deadly earthquakes overnight. Buildings buckled and collapsed during three quakes. We're being told by officials there are 66 dead, hundreds more injured. The epicenter of the strongest quake, about 210 miles southwest of Tehran.

Journalist Shirzad Bozorgmehr joins us on the phone now from Tehran.

Shirzad, good morning.


You could feel the earthquake that shook the western province of Lorestan in Iran beginning last night and early this morning, Friday morning. The strongest measured 6.0 on the Richter Scale and it took place at about 1:30 GMT.

It -- so far the fatalities number about 66, according to officials, and 1,246 injured. Officials are saying that most and almost all the injured have been transported to hospitals. And they're waiting for tents and blankets and foodstuff to arrive which is on the way.

M. O'BRIEN: All right, we apologize for the audio. We're going to try to make contact with Shirzad again and we'll bring that report back to you as soon as we get it -- Soledad.

S. O'BRIEN: All right, let's move on then.

The U.S. Navy is helping search for about a dozen people still missing after a boat sank on a dinner cruise off the coast of Bahrain near the capital of Manama. About 150 were onboard that boat. Fifty- seven now at least reported dead. More than 60 others rescued though.

CNN's Kevin Flowers is in Manama. He joins us by phone.

Hey, Kevin, do we know any more details about what may have caused this accident?

KEVIN FLOWERS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: At this point, officially, we don't. But what we do know is that a celebratory dinner cruise off the coast of Bahrain ended in disaster last night. That's when a tourist boat with, as you said, almost 150 people sank just a mile off the coast.

Now a massive search-and-rescue operation, as you indicted, has recovered the bodies of 57 passengers. And Bahrainian officials tell us that 67 survived the sinking and that currently 13 others remain unaccounted for.

Now among the dead were both nationals from Europe and Asia. The interior ministry telling CNN that 17 Indians and 13 Britons were among those who drowned.

Now CNN spoke earlier with a gentleman who was aboard the boat before it took off. And he recorded that the two-level cruise boat appeared to have too many people on its upper level and that it felt unstable and seemed top heavy to him.

Now local media here in Bahrain are quoting the owner of the cruise line as saying that the boat had a capacity for 100 passengers. And that despite the warning from the captain to those renting the boat, they still insisted with embarking with over 130 passengers. The official total is 137 at this point. But Bahrainian officials are saying, at this point, that the incident is still under investigation -- Soledad.

S. O'BRIEN: So then with that information about potentially overburdening the boat, it seems that that would move the focus away from terrorism as a possible cause, do you think?

FLOWERS: The Bahrainian officials here have gone -- well, they have said they don't -- they're being reticent about the details of what happened. They have gone to great pains to stress the point that they do not believe this is terrorism, that there are no signs that this was an act of terrorism in any way, shape or form. So the question remains whether it's just a matter of whether this boat had too many people on it and warnings weren't listened to -- Soledad.

S. O'BRIEN: Kevin Flowers, joining us this morning, thanks for the update. Appreciate it -- Miles.

M. O'BRIEN: That donnybrook over immigration still raging on Capitol Hill. While the Senate debates this hot topic, the president is enmeshed in the issue at that summit in Cancun, Mexico.

We get the latest from our White House correspondent Elaine Quijano.


ELAINE QUIJANO, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT (on camera): The North American summit wraps up today with tri-lateral meetings scheduled and capping with a joint news conference with President Bush, Mexico's President Vicente Fox and Canada's Prime Minister Stephen Harper.

Now on Thursday, the main focus was on illegal immigration. As Congress takes up this highly charged issue, President Bush said that he wants to see an immigration bill on his desk that includes three things: border security, interior enforcement, but also that controversial temporary guest worker program he proposed.

As for Mexico, President Fox said that he understands dealing with the issue of immigration is a shared responsibility and said that his country is taking steps to crack down on smugglers who facilitate illegal immigration.

Elaine Quijano, CNN, Cancun, Mexico.


M. O'BRIEN: You can get all the news coming out of the Cancun summit tonight when Lou Dobbs anchors a "BROKEN BORDERS" special. It's a live report, 6:00 p.m. Eastern, right here on CNN -- Soledad.

S. O'BRIEN: Severe weather reeking havoc in parts of Kansas. A number of tornadoes spotted on Thursday, including, take a look at this one, this is in Reno County. It's believed to actually have touched down twice. Several homes were damaged. Many trailers were completely overturned.

The even bigger threat, though, is coming, it's what came after a large prairie fire that may have been started by lightning or a downed power line. Gusty winds then fueled the blaze. Burned about 5,000 acres.

All that brings us right to Chad, our severe weather expert.

And, unfortunately, Chad, we've had lots of severe weather to talk about with you lately. CHAD MYERS, CNN METEOROLOGIST: All kinds yesterday. I mean the storm really wound up, the winds got going. Don't know if that prairie fire was lightening or not or just maybe something natural. But the wind, if it's not raining, that wind that comes with a thunderstorm can really push those fires along.


Miles, are you tired this morning? I am.

M. O'BRIEN: Yes, I'm tired every morning, as a matter of fact, -- Chad.

MYERS: You know I have -- you have bad news for us, though, for the weekend.

M. O'BRIEN: Yes, stay with us, I want to show you all a picture. Take a look at this picture of Central Park, the east side.


M. O'BRIEN: Isn't that a beautiful sunrise?

MYERS: Nice.

M. O'BRIEN: Come Monday, forget about it.


M. O'BRIEN: It's not Daylight Savings Time, it's daylight shifting time.

MYERS: Right.

M. O'BRIEN: And those folks who get up at those ridiculous hours, like 7:00 in the morning,...

S. O'BRIEN: That would be you and me and Chad and everybody...

M. O'BRIEN: You know the people who get up a little later,...

S. O'BRIEN: Yes.

M. O'BRIEN: ... they're the ones that take the advantage, because we'll be...

S. O'BRIEN: Yes.

M. O'BRIEN: When we go to sleep at 7:00, Chad, it's going to be, you know, broad daylight out, right?

MYERS: Right.

M. O'BRIEN: Yes, so there you have it.

MYERS: And dark in the morning. M. O'BRIEN: Spring forward time is what we're talking about. It happens over the weekend.

S. O'BRIEN: Sunday, right, we spring forward?

M. O'BRIEN: Yes, what is it, 2:00 a.m. Sunday. So you have to wake up at 2 a.m. and change your clock then, right?

MYERS: Right.

M. O'BRIEN: Isn't that the way you're supposed to do it?

MYERS: That's why you're always tired.

M. O'BRIEN: Tired.

MYERS: Right.

M. O'BRIEN: So don't forget, push your clocks ahead and enjoy your extra hour of daylight. For us, we just lose it. We just lose it.

S. O'BRIEN: Not all about you, -- Miles.

M. O'BRIEN: It isn't?

S. O'BRIEN: I know crazy to say.

M. O'BRIEN: All right.

S. O'BRIEN: But everyone else will enjoy the time.

M. O'BRIEN: By the way, that reminder is especially important for folks in Indiana, listen up,...

S. O'BRIEN: Yes, a big change.

M. O'BRIEN: ... it's your first spring forward moment in some places. In the past, they've stayed on Eastern Standard Time in some locations in Indiana. It was really a never-ending source of confusion. And so finally they've just said, you know, let's just go with the flow here on...

S. O'BRIEN: Yes, it's kind of strange that some of the counties didn't have it and some did.

M. O'BRIEN: Yes, I mean you know if you had to cross counties, you know no one ever knew what time it was in certain places.

All right, there is more anger in New Orleans, this time over the city's levee repairs. We'll tell you why Louisiana's governor is furious about what she calls monumental miscalculation.

S. O'BRIEN: And then remember we told you this story yesterday, Congresswoman Cynthia McKinney's run-in with the Capitol Hill police? Looks like she's got more to say about the dust-up. We're going to hear from her this morning.

M. O'BRIEN: Plus, cops busting Naomi Campbell. I bet it's a wonderful looking mug shot. We'll tell you why the supermodel may need a refresher course in anger management, perhaps.

Stay with us.


M. O'BRIEN: I think Lou Dobbs has a little mole in our control room. That's the Lou Dobbs theme song.

S. O'BRIEN: Yes, it was.

M. O'BRIEN: He's everywhere.

S. O'BRIEN: Just to send a message to Lou, we're thinking of you in Cancun.

M. O'BRIEN: We're thinking of you. We love you. Enjoy your trip down there.

Let's check in with Carol Costello in the newsroom.

Good morning, -- Carol.

CAROL COSTELLO, CNN ANCHOR: Morning. Good morning to all of you.

An airstrike in Gaza to tell you about and the Palestinians blame Israeli forces. A car exploded outside a mosque earlier today. A suspected militant leader was behind the wheel. Israeli forces deny any involvement.

In the meantime, there is word Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon may have more surgery next week. He's still in that coma. Surgeons reportedly removed a large part of his skull earlier this year and will try to reattach it.

New York is set to release recordings of 911 calls made from the World Trade Center on September 11. That's expected to happen about four hours from now. Only the operators' voices will be heard. Not all of the 28 victims on the tapes have been identified yet. We could also hear from the victims' families. They're expected to make a statement later today.

While President Bush is in Mexico focusing on immigration, a Senate panel is trying to figure out if he should be reprimanded over the domestic spying program. Lawmakers are looking into attempts to censure the president. Among those set to testify today, former White House Counsel John Dean. His testimony helped put President Richard Nixon from office during the Watergate scandal.

Jurors in the Zacarias Moussaoui trial asking for a definition of weapons of mass destruction. The question coming on the first full day of deliberations. The jury is asked to decide if Moussaoui should face the death penalty for lying to authorities about the planned September 11 attack. Deliberations set to resume later today.

New anger over the cleanup from Katrina, the Bush administration says it could take up to 25 years for New Orleans to fully recover. And the cost to repair those levees, a ghastly $10 billion. That is three times the original estimate. A furious Governor Kathleen Blanco calls it a monumental miscalculation. It's not clear how it happened.

And fast-moving wildfires near the Texas panhandle, heavy smoke just miles from the country's only nuclear weapons assembly facility, more than a dozen homes north of Amarillo were destroyed. The fires are now under control. One couple came back to find their car, though, gutted by flames. You can see them walking away. They combed what was left of their home before they headed off to a hotel.

Man, my heart aches for them, -- Chad.

MYERS: Yes. Did you see how that smoke was going right along the ground, Carol, it wasn't going up? That's because the wind was blowing almost 60 miles per hour there. When you see smoke doing that, going completely horizontally and not vertically, you know that there's no chance for that smoke to rise, it's just going to go splat right across. And that's why, obviously, the fires were spreading as fast as they were.


Back to you guys.

S. O'BRIEN: We're loving that, Chad.

M. O'BRIEN: Yes, pretty good.

S. O'BRIEN: Seventy degrees practically today in New York.

MYERS: I know.

S. O'BRIEN: That is great news.

All right, let's talk about business news, auto industry.

CARRIE LEE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Could be a very big day for Delphi. The company is expected to ask a judge to void its labor contracts. Delphi, UAW, General Motors all talking up through yesterday to try to reach a labor deal lowering wages for Delphi's 34,000 hourly workers. Well, they weren't able to come to terms, and now Delphi is expected to ask the judge once again to cancel the union contracts.

Now they could potentially delay it. They've done this three times before. People don't seem to be expecting that this time around, though.

And a couple of other things here, GM is involved, of course, because they spun Delphi off in 1999. So they're expected to supplement some wages and benefits here. Some other things happening, voiding the contracts could potentially trigger strikes. Now this won't happen immediately. The judge isn't likely to rule on canceling the contracts until May. But still, Delphi workers have authorized a strike in that event.

And of course if this happens, it would be devastating for General Motors. Could push them closer to Chapter 11, because GM relies on Delphi for a lot of its parts. In fact, Delphi also supplies all of the big automakers with parts. So, if they strike, if this becomes a big problem, well you can imagine how devastating this is going to be for the auto industry.

M. O'BRIEN: So it could shut down Ford assembly lines, potentially?

LEE: Ford, Nissan.

M. O'BRIEN: Really? Wow!

LEE: All of the major ones. Delphi is the place to go for parts.

S. O'BRIEN: Interesting.

M. O'BRIEN: All right, Kodak.

LEE: Yes, online photos, Kodak. One employee has -- is dealing with a lawsuit with Kodak, alleging that the company, without customer knowledge, wanted to lower the resolution for photos that people, Kodak's customers, store on its easy share online photography site. Of course you lower the resolution if you want to reprint pictures or something like that.

M. O'BRIEN: Yes.

S. O'BRIEN: Right.

LEE: They're not going to look as good. The problem Kodak has, as do other online companies, as more and more people come on, as they want to store their photos, it can be very expensive, very difficult, yes, to store all of this capacity.

S. O'BRIEN: Takes some space.

LEE: Now Kodak says it would not diminish photo quality without customer knowledge. We don't know if they were actually ever definitively planning on doing this, but this is what this employee, who was fired, is alleging.

M. O'BRIEN: That's a tough business.

S. O'BRIEN: Yes.

LEE: Yes, it is. It is.

M. O'BRIEN: You know it's a thin margin business I can see... LEE: Well now they're starting to sell printers and things like that.

M. O'BRIEN: Yes.

LEE: So they have to keep rolling with the times.

M. O'BRIEN: Thanks, -- Carrie.


M. O'BRIEN: Have a good weekend.

S. O'BRIEN: Thank you

LEE: You, too.

S. O'BRIEN: Let's get right back to Carol. She's got a look at what's coming up in "Morning Coffee."

Good morning again.

COSTELLO: I sure do. Coming up, flag waving gets some Houston kids and their principal in big, big trouble. Plus, the middle school Holocaust experiment that has some parents just a little bit upset. Your cup of "Morning Coffee" is next on AMERICAN MORNING.


S. O'BRIEN: It's good to start the morning with the Go-Go's. Can't beat that.

COSTELLO: I know. I was just thinking of how great it would be to take a vacation, but that song went through my head.

M. O'BRIEN: Like right now, let's go. Come on.

COSTELLO: I'm ready now.

S. O'BRIEN: All right, I'm ready.

COSTELLO: No, we have to do "Morning Coffee" first,...

M. O'BRIEN: Yes, let's do that first.

COSTELLO: ... because it's a good one this morning. Are you ready?

M. O'BRIEN: They're always good.

S. O'BRIEN: What you got?

COSTELLO: Thank you very much. I appreciate that.

Hey, Lou Dobbs, meet Principal Pambello. He's got a flag for you. Of course that flag came with a price. Principal Pambello is now in big, big trouble. Here's the story.

He's a principal at Reagan High School, and he hoisted the Mexican flag atop his Houston school. Higher-ups ordered the flag taken down. And now, as you can see, there's an empty pole. But wait, it is not over, because 88 percent of the kids that go to this Houston school are Hispanic. They say they will put that flag up today. And if they do, they will make it a tad more controversial.

The principal had the Mexican flag just under the U.S. flag and the Texas State flag, but students there say they want the Mexican flag to come before Texas.

S. O'BRIEN: That's a lot of flags for one little pole.

M. O'BRIEN: I should say.

COSTELLO: Students are very serious about this, so we could see some activity there today.

S. O'BRIEN: Why can't they just put all the flags up to celebrate their Mexican heritage? Put the U.S. flag up, obviously, and then a flag of Texas.

COSTELLO: A good question.

S. O'BRIEN: And all the flags will fit. Can't we all just get along? Come on.

COSTELLO: Apparently not.

M. O'BRIEN: Thank you very much, Rodney (ph).

S. O'BRIEN: All right.

M. O'BRIEN: OK, onward.

COSTELLO: Talking about getting along, parents are upset about this, too. They're upset over this surprise school experiment at Apopka, Florida. That's just outside of Orlando. Students with last names starting with L through Z were given yellow stars, like that. And this was part of a Holocaust Remembrance Day. The parents say those students that were then forced to stand at the back of the classroom and move to the end of the lunch line.

Well the principal at the Apopka Memorial Middle School says he probably would do things differently because of all the complaints he got in. But he also says some kids learned an important lesson. But one parent says all his son learned was that he didn't want to be Jewish.

S. O'BRIEN: You know they do this every year. Every year there's a story about this, whether they're doing it -- they do a similar thing to show what slavery is like. Like this group of students won't have any rights and this group of students, they do. The Holocaust, same issue, it's controversial, don't do it if you're a principal. Don't do it. M. O'BRIEN: Yes, but what -- it's a good lesson.

S. O'BRIEN: The kids are little. They don't understand. They're humiliated.

M. O'BRIEN: Well Middle School is not little.

S. O'BRIEN: They're upset and it doesn't...


M. O'BRIEN: Middle School is old enough to understand this.

S. O'BRIEN: That's on the edge. I think that the...

COSTELLO: Boy, we could debate -- this would be a good debate, wouldn't it?

S. O'BRIEN: You know Miles and I start fighting.

M. O'BRIEN: I think it's a good learning experience.

COSTELLO: Hey, I love -- I'm loving that.

M. O'BRIEN: I do. I mean it really teaches them...


S. O'BRIEN: I think there is a better way to learn.

M. O'BRIEN: ... in a very poignant way. You can read about it...

COSTELLO: Well, let's...

S. O'BRIEN: Or students just are so upset.

COSTELLO: Let's lighten the mood, shall we?

M. O'BRIEN: Yes.

S. O'BRIEN: Sorry.

COSTELLO: We're going to lighten the mood now because it's "Morning Coffee."

M. O'BRIEN: You, you.

COSTELLO: My gosh.

S. O'BRIEN: Sorry, go ahead.

COSTELLO: Remember the other day when we were talking about a cat named Louis (ph) and Louis was terrorizing the tiny upscale town of Fairfield, Connecticut? Well, people in Berlin, Alabama, can do that one better. They say there's a tiger on the loose there, a very large Bengal tiger.

M. O'BRIEN: For real?

COSTELLO: For real.

M. O'BRIEN: Yes.

COSTELLO: So I guess Louis doesn't look all that menacing anymore, does he?

M. O'BRIEN: You know what, Louis could probably do a number on that tiger. What do you wan to bet?

COSTELLO: I don't know. Louis...

M. O'BRIEN: Louis the sixth toed mean...

COSTELLO: Yes, and you got that one big, long claw on his other toe.

M. O'BRIEN: ... cat. Yes, anyway.

COSTELLO: Anyway, that isn't of course the actual tiger in question. We just showed you an example.

M. O'BRIEN: A tiger seen here.

COSTELLO: It's a Bengal tiger, OK. But witnesses say this tiger that is roaming around is wearing a collar, so it might be someone's pet. An area woman does have 13 tigers living in her habitat, but she says they're all present and accounted for. So, there's a mystery in Alabama today.

S. O'BRIEN: It is.

M. O'BRIEN: She's out there counting. Are you sure 13? Wow! All right, we'll be careful in that part of the world.

COSTELLO: Careful in Alabama for God's sake.

S. O'BRIEN: You come here, be careful.

M. O'BRIEN: If you're in Berlin, be careful.

S. O'BRIEN: Thanks, -- Carol.


M. O'BRIEN: The morning's top stories are straight ahead, including a ban on "Brokeback Mountain." We'll tell you who's trying to keep that gay cowboy love story off the big screen.

S. O'BRIEN: Kind of late on that one, isn't it?

M. O'BRIEN: Yes, it's kind of...

S. O'BRIEN: It's out already.

M. O'BRIEN: Maybe it just got there.

Plus, Naomi Campbell accused of not-so model behavior. The supermodel busted by the cops again. From catwalk to perp walk for Naomi ahead on AMERICAN MORNING.