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American Morning

New Massacre Claim; Incentives for Iran?; Protection Money

Aired June 02, 2006 - 06:31   ET


MILES O'BRIEN, CNN ANCHOR: Happening this morning, murder charges expected against seven Marines and a sailor being held at Camp Pendleton in California. They are linked to the killing of an Iraqi civilian west of Baghdad in April.
Jury selection starts today in the seventh trial involving Vioxx. A New Jersey grandmothers says the painkiller caused her to have a heart attack, left her with permanent heart damage.

And with a week to go until the World Cup kicks off in Germany, there are worries of racism at the games. This after a series of incidents at matches in Italy, including the display, as you see there, of Nazi flags. Not a pretty picture.

Good morning to you. I'm Miles O'Brien.


Let's get right to a developing story coming to us out of Iraq. Earlier this morning, Iraq's prime minister said that he wants to see the U.S. files in the Haditha investigation. That investigation should be wrapping up soon, but now there are allegations of a separate massacre, allegedly, also, by U.S. forces.

Let's get right to CNN's John Vause. He's live for us in Baghdad.

John, good morning.


Iraqi police have CNN that U.S. soldiers shot and killed five children, four women and two men in the village of Abu Seffa in the town of Ishaqi on March 15th. Now, according to Iraqi police, they say they were told by witnesses that 11 members of this family were kept inside a room in their home for about an hour before being shot and killed. After that shooting, Iraqi police say they found bullet casings, the type only used by U.S. soldiers in Iraq.

Now, at the time of this incident back on March 15, the U.S. authorities here gave a very different account. They said a suspected al Qaeda operative was inside the house. When U.S. forces arrived, a firefight broke out. Four people were killed, including a number of civilians.

Today, the U.S. military would only say that an official investigation is under way. What we don't have here, as opposed to the alleged massacre in Haditha, is an alleged motive as to why these 11 people may have been shot and killed by U.S. soldiers -- Soledad.

S. O'BRIEN: The investigation now under way. John Vause for us in Baghdad.

John, thank you -- Miles.

M. O'BRIEN: Well, I guess you could call it a blueprint for resuming nuclear talks with Iran. The U.S. and five other world powers agreeing on a set of incentives and consequences.

Elaine Quijano has the U.S. reaction. She joins us now from the White House.


ELAINE QUIJANO, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: A senior U.S. official tells CNN the U.S. is satisfied that Russia and China are on board with possible incentives against Iran if necessary. That following the announcement in Vienna that the five permanent members of the U.N. Security Council, plus Germany, have come together on an agreement to offer a pack ang to Iran.

No word yet, though, on details of what might be offered in the way of incentives or negative consequences. But it comes on the heels of President Bush's own efforts to lobby the leaders of Russia and China on this issue.

Nevertheless, the announcement in Vienna was made not by the U.S. secretary of state, Condoleezza Rice, but instead by the British foreign secretary. The message intended to be that the United States is not the only country concerned about Iran's nuclear ambitions, that, in fact, this is an issue the entire world community is concerned about.

Elaine Quijano, CNN, the White House.


M. O'BRIEN: Thank you, Elaine.

Time for a check of the forecast. Chad Myers with that.

Hello, Chad.



M. O'BRIEN: All right. Thank you, Chad.

MYERS: You're welcome.

S. O'BRIEN: Thanks, Chad.

Still to come this morning, a massive wildfire is creeping toward the edge of a Phoenix, Arizona, community. We'll tell you that and show you these pictures, too.

M. O'BRIEN: And there is T-H-I-S...





M. O'BRIEN: Wow. That is an English word, folks. She's imperturbable, blithe, even insouciant.

S. O'BRIEN: Spell any and all of those words for me, Miles.

M. O'BRIEN: I can't even pronounce them.

A 13-year-old calmly takes the crown as the nation's top speller. She is just cute. Look at that smile. That's a $42,000 smile, at least, and maybe more later.

But first -- we're going to talk to her later. But first, a look at what else is making news on this Friday morning.


M. O'BRIEN: Welcomed news for Orlando and Memphis is being met with anger in New York and Washington. We're talking about the Department of Homeland Security's grant program. Orlando and Memphis added to the list of cities getting federal money to fight terrorism, but some other cities are getting much less than they expected.

AMERICAN MORNING'S Bob Franken is live in Washington, one of the cities getting less.

Hello, Bob.


Well, one thing that the Homeland Security secretary, Michael Chertoff, has done is he's united Republicans and Democrats. Unfortunately, against him.


MICHAEL CHERTOFF, HOMELAND SECURITY SECRETARY: The measures of protection for a community is not driven just by whether that community's politicians control the spending of money.

FRANKEN (voice over): The political leaders of Washington and particularly New York are contemplating whatever pressure they can exert to reverse 40 percent cuts in anti-terrorism funds. What's perhaps most troubling to many New Yorkers was the conclusion by Homeland Security that the city had no national monuments or icons to protect.

REP. CAROL MALONEY (D), NEW YORK: I mean, have they been to Wall Street? Have they been to the financial district? Have they been to the -- all the important museums and national icons that we have in our city?

FRANKEN: Federal funds for the two September 11th targets, New York and Washington, are being cut back this year in favor of smaller cities.

CHERTOFF: If some communities are operating from a low level of preparedness, those deserve extra weight.

FRANKEN: Communities like Omaha, Charlotte, Louisville, and Orlando, which has a few icons of its own, that have complained they've been overlooked until now.

SHERIFF KEVIN BEARY, ORANGE COUNTY, FLORIDA: I'm sure glad to be one of those 46 of the groups that got it. So show me the money.

FRANKEN: But the chairman of the House Homeland Security Committee is irate. Peter King of New York says he'll try and make someone very sorry.

CHERTOFF: I hope that we don't confuse disappointment with grants with a desire to exact retribution.


FRANKEN: So there's little chance that there's going to be any changes in all this. The money is going to be going to cities other than Washington or New York. And then you can worry about the retribution from the politicians of those cities -- Miles.

M. O'BRIEN: So is there a little bit of election year politics at root here?

FRANKEN: Well, that's one of the complaints that was made, that New York and Washington are not exactly Republican strongholds, where some of the other cities are. That, of course, is dismissed by the Homeland Security.

M. O'BRIEN: Bob Franken in Washington, D.C.

Thank you very much, Bob -- Soledad.

S. O'BRIEN: Well, spelling has a new queen. The young girl from New Jersey, she has been crowned.

M. O'BRIEN: Princess. Is she a princess or queen?

S. O'BRIEN: She can be queen. She's 13, her name is Katharine Close, and she is the first girl to win the Scripps National spelling Bee in seven years.

Brianna Keiler has details for us from Washington. Hey, Brianna. Good morning.


This was all whittled down from an initial field of 275 people, and in the end it came down to a word that you probably never even heard of.


CLOSE: Ursprache, U-R-S-P-R-A-C-H-E, ursprache.

KEILER: When all was spelled and done, 13-year-old Katharine Close of New Jersey won the Scripps National Spelling Bee. For the first time, all the raw emotion broadcast live on primetime TV.

The buzz over the bee started with the 2002 documentary "Spellbound," following eight young people in pursuit of the national title.


KEILER: It wasn't long before Hollywood made its own version, this year's "Akeelah and the Bee." The drama of spelling is practically made for TV. Just ask James Maguire, author of the book "American Bee".

JAMES MAGUIRE, AUTHOR, "AMERICAN BEE": These kids spend hundreds of hours, sometimes even thousands of hours studying, and it finally comes to that moment when they walk up to the microphone, you know, they're all by themselves, and they encounter these huge challenges, these long, obscure words.

KEILER: But the words weren't always so long or obscure. In 1932, the winning word was knack. In 1940, therapy.

The competition has become fiercer, but in the end, contestants either get it or they don't. and after hundreds and in some cases thousands of hours of preparation, it all comes down to one defining moment.


KEILER: And just in case you're curious, Soledad, that final winning word, ursprache, is German in origin and it means a parent language.

S. O'BRIEN: Oh, well, that explains it all.

I want to ask you a question. What would a competition be without a little -- a little drama? And there was a point when there was someone who was disqualified who then was actually reinstated because the judges had made -- had made a mistake. Tell us about that one.

KEILER: That was 14-year-old Daryn Hooks (ph0 from North Carolina. She was booted out of the competition earlier yesterday because the judges said she misspelled her word. Obviously, she was very disappointed, but later they realized it was their mistake, she actually spelled it correctly. So they brought her back in, and ultimately she finished in third place after stumbling on the word "icteritious".

S. O'BRIEN: I'm not even going to ask you how you spell that, Brianna.

Brianna Keiler for us this morning.


Stay with AMERICAN MORNING. We're going to be talking to the new champion, Katharine Close, coming up in the 8:00 hour -- Miles.

M. O'BRIEN: That's what your kids say when you give them peas. "That's icteritious, mom."

Still to come on the...

S. O'BRIEN: It might be, actually. I don't know.

M. O'BRIEN: Still to come on AMERICAN MORNING, the federal government cuts terror money for New York and Washington and gives more to Omaha and Louisville. Is it pork barrel security?

And infertile couples go shopping for the perfect egg. A young woman can cash in if they meet a demanding profile. We'll explain coming up.


M. O'BRIEN: This just in to us, some new tape on a developing story. The U.S. is investigating another alleged massacre in Iraq, this one happening in March.

This is new video that is coming into us through the APTN news service. The dateline is Ishaqi, near Balad in Iraq. The incident took place, as we say, in March.

Iraqi police are saying 11 people were deliberately rounded up and killed by U.S. troops, some of them women and children. This disputes claims by the U.S. military, a story we're obviously tracking, particularly in the wake of the Haditha incident, allegations of a Marine massacre there.

We'll keep you posted -- Soledad.

S. O'BRIEN: Also happening this morning, military investigators reportedly plan to exhume bodies after that alleged massacre in Haditha. "The Washington Post" says that evidence may have been missed because the deaths were initially not treated as crimes.

Indianapolis police are investigating the killings of seven people at a home near a woman's prison. Local media reports say the victims were shot execution-style and that some of them were children.

And firefighters are battling a massive wildfire in northern Arizona. The 2,000-acre fire has burned already at least four buildings, including two homes.

Back to that developing murder mystery in Indianapolis now. Just a short while ago, police named a 28-year-old suspect in the killings of four adults and three children.

Reporter Russ McQuaid of CNN affiliate WXIN joins us from the crime scene this morning.

Russ, good morning. What do we know about this?

RUSS MCQUAID, REPORTER, WXIN: Good morning, Soledad.

It was just about 10:00 last night when some neighbors on this porch we're standing on heard gunshots. They saw a young woman run into that house. I'll step out of the way and show you this house on Indianapolis's east side on Hamilton Avenue, where the family of Emma Valdez (ph) lived.

Four adults and three children, one of them as young as five years old -- a woman ran up to that front porch, went to the front door, and was literally dragged inside that door by her assailant. More than a dozen gunshots rang out.

Now police say they are looking for a man by the named of Desmond Turner. Moments ago, Indianapolis police chief Mike Spears said Turner should be considered armed and dangerous.


CHIEF MICHAEL T. SPEARS, INDIANAPOLIS POLICE: It's helpful to get this out to the public. Someone knows where this man is. And we want to know. And I would suggest to anyone who knows where Mr. Turner is that they treat him as armed and dangerous.


MCQUAID: This looks like a home invasion robbery. Not only are they looking for Desmond Turner, they're looking for a possible accomplice.

We have yet to come up with a name for him. However, witnesses told detectives they saw two men perhaps entering and leaving this home last night on the city's east side. And one neighbor told me she knew as recently as yesterday afternoon. She spotted Desmond Turner driving up and down this street in front of this home in a maroon pickup truck.

The investigation continues into what is perhaps the worst mass murder in the history of the city of Indianapolis -- Soledad.

S. O'BRIEN: Russ, let me take a quick question and ask you a question here. We've been talking about the proximity to a women's prison. Is there any sense that that has anything to do with this crime?

MCQUAID: No, not at all. This side of town has known its share of trouble. Just 10 years ago another very bad murder, just down this way two or three blocks, a triple murder involving three children. This has nothing to do with the vicinity of the women's prison, which is an urban prison on Indianapolis' east side.

S. O'BRIEN: Russ McQuaid is with WXIN, joining us with an update.

Thanks, Russ -- Miles.

M. O'BRIEN: Ahead on AMERICAN MORNING, more allegations U.S. Marines crossed the line and killed an Iraqi civilian without justification. They're being held at Camp Pendleton in California. Murder charges could be filed today.

And you'll meet a man who has a plan for the levees and the flood control system in the city of New Orleans. The Corps of Engineers now admits it has a shoddy system. We'll tell you what might be a good idea for the future there.

Stay with us.


S. O'BRIEN: Home Depot shareholders will now get to ask whatever they want. That's kind of good news if you're a shareholder.

CARRIE LEE, CNN FINANCIAL CORRESPONDENT: Isn't that nice of the company?

S. O'BRIEN: Yes.

LEE: They're now letting shareholders ask questions at the shareholder meeting. They weren't able to do that last week, believe it or not.

S. O'BRIEN: Yes, they just had to kind of sit there and listen and take it.

LEE: Exactly. It's amazing. Even though shareholders do own the company, it's publicly traded, right?

Well, Home Depot's meeting last week lasted only 30 minutes. CEO Bob Nardelli was the only board member to show up. No Q&A, 30 minutes, the meeting was over.

Well, as you can imagine, people wrote into the company, e-mails, phone calls, they didn't like it. So now Home Depot is reversing course, letting shareholders ask general questions at the company's annual meeting.

S. O'BRIEN: Why did they do that?

LEE: They -- they just didn't -- I guess they wanted to keep it short and just kind of keep things moving along. And, you know, there's a lot of criticism about this company lately, and particularly Nardelli. He's made $124 million in compensation since 2,000. The stock it down, though, 9 percent since then.

S. O'BRIEN: Oh, so that's why -- that's why they want to keep it short.

LEE: Yes. So a lot of -- a lot of disgruntlement.

Lowe's, by the way, tripling over that time. Home Depot down 9 percent.

So, that's the latest there.

Wal-Mart's annual meeting today, Fayetteville, Arkansas. The company's got some challenges lately.

They're trying to hold onto their lower-income customer base and also start to attract the high end. You know, they brought in some designers recently, like Mark Eisen and some others.

Of course, they have their court battles, trying to expand some places in California and other states not wanting Wal-Mart to come into town. So it will be interesting to see what comes out of the Wal-Mart meeting today. But I think those shareholders will at least be able to ask questions.

M. O'BRIEN: They will take questions.

LEE: Yes.

M. O'BRIEN: Good.

S. O'BRIEN: You know, you think -- what did you say, how much does Nardelli make?

LEE: About $124 million since 2000. That doesn't include tens of millions in stock options.

S. O'BRIEN: One would think that would -- that would -- more than 30 minutes.

M. O'BRIEN: I think 10 minutes of questions, at least.

LEE: Yes. I'll tell you another thing Wal-Mart (sic) said out of that meeting. Nearly a third of voting shareholders with held their support for his re-election.

M. O'BRIEN: That's a big number very unusual.

S. O'BRIEN: Wow.

LEE: Thirty-two percent, yes.

M. O'BRIEN: That's very unusual.

S. O'BRIEN: Wow. Wow. Wow.

All right. Carrie Lee, thank you.


M. O'BRIEN: Thanks, Carrie.

Let's get a quick check of the forecast before the top of the hour -- Chad.

MYERS: And good morning, Miles.


MYERS: The next hour of AMERICAN MORNING actually starts right now.

S. O'BRIEN: Seven Marines and a sailor from Camp Pendleton could face murder charges as early as today. They're linked to the death of an Iraqi civilian. This incident, though, has nothing to do with the Haditha investigation. We'll explain.

CSI Iraq. Forensic experts could soon be called in to examine exhumed bodies from the alleged massacre in Haditha.

M. O'BRIEN: Execution-style killings in Indianapolis. Police are now pursuing a suspect in the murder of seven people, including three children.

Washington and New York take a major cut in anti-terror funding. Anger now over homeland security money and how it's been handed out.

Also this...


CLOSE: Ursprache, U-R-S-P-R-A-C-H-E, ursprache.



S. O'BRIEN: There she is, the new queen bee. Or is the new bee queen? She is the nation's top speller. We're going to talk to her live this morning.