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American Morning

Israeli Warplanes Bombing Beirut Airport; Police in Mumbai, India Casting Wide Net as They Search for Culprits in Train Bombings

Aired July 13, 2006 - 08:30   ET


SOLEDAD O'BRIEN, CNN ANCHOR: All morning we've been watching news breaking news out of the Middle East. Israeli warplanes bombing the Beirut Airport, warning Lebanese civilians that more attacks are going to follow. And then within the last hour, Hezbollah rockets hitting the Israeli town of Safed, as Hezbollah threatens attacks on the Israeli city of Haifa as well.
Let's go right to Martin Indyk this morning. He's a former U.S. ambassador to Israel. He's now the head of the Saban Center for Middle East Policy. It's nice to see you back. Thanks for talking with us.

MARTIN INDYK, FMR. U.S. AMB. TO ISRAELI: Thank you, Soledad.

S. O'BRIEN: So much to update folks on, as we see the attack, and counter attack, and threatened attack and threatened counter attack, do you think that we're close to seeing, frankly, all out war in the Middle East on several fronts?

INDYK: Well, I do think there's going to be an escalation over the next few days on the Israeli/Lebanon front. I think in Gaza things will calm down a little bit, simply because it's just very difficult for Israel to fight two wars on two fronts at the same time. As to whether it's going to spread beyond that, I would not expect that to happen, but I do thank that the Israeli/Lebanon dimension of this is going to get very serious very quickly, with already Israeli towns and cities targeted, with the Israelis warning in the southern suburbs of Beirut that the people need to evacuate there, because that's where Hezbollah headquarters are. And Hezbollah now talking about protecting -- attacking Haifa and they have rockets to do so.

I think what the Israelis will want to move into the south of Lebanon, and try to push Hezbollah forces and all those rockets, if they can find them, north, and then see where the situation goes from there. And Hezbollah will respond to that. That means that civilians on both sides are going to be targeted.

S. O'BRIEN: So certainly an escalation, at least in the short- term. The French foreign minister, as you know, has said this response by Israel is disproportionate. Do you agree?

INDYK: Well, the question of disproportion really depends on what we're talking about. There was an unprovoked act of aggression by Hezbollah...

S. O'BRIEN: Kidnapping soldiers. INDYK: Israel had already withdrawn from Lebanon six years ago, just as they've withdrawn from Gaza last year. And Hezbollah and Hamas in similar tactics are doing their best to try to undermine moderates and escalate the situation for their own purposes.

Israel has a basic problem -- how does it deter further kidnapping and get the soldiers back? If it simply responds to the kidnapping, by saying OK, let's make a deal, it will be encouraging more kidnapping. So it has to try to re-establish its deterrents.

Beyond that, Soledad, there is the problem that the political people on both sides are undermined by this, both the moderate Palestinian leader, President Mahmoud Abbas, and the moderate Lebanese prime minister, that President Bush is now trying to defend, and it's the extremists that are calling the shots. In Israel, you have for the first time in a long time only politicians as the prime minister and the defense minister, and they, because they're politicians and not generals, like Sharon was, or Rabin was or Barak, they find it much harder to hold back and exercise restraint because their public is calling for retaliation.

S. O'BRIEN: President Bush was holding a joint news conference with the German chancellor, Merkel, and here is what he had to say when he was asked to, I guess clarify his concerns about what could happen in Lebanon.

Let's listen.


GEORGE W. BUSH, PRES. OF THE UNITED STATES: We've been working very hard through the United Nations and with partners to strengthen the democracy in Lebanon. The concern is that any activities by Israel to protect herself will weaken that government, and we have made that -- or topple that government.


S. O'BRIEN: What do you make of his remarks?

INDYK: Well, he's right, there is a problem that these aggressive acts by Hezbollah are undermining the Lebanese government, that the United States has done so much to try to build up.

But the problem with the president's statement is two fold. First of all, Hezbollah is in the government. There are ministers in the government. And secondly, what he does -- and I'm sure he didn't intend this -- is send the signal to Hezbollah, that if they keep it up, if they keep on firing these rockets, the United States is going to turn around and pressure Israel to exercise restraint so as to protect this fledgling Democratic government in Lebanon.

S. O'BRIEN: So that was a message of what you're doing is working, Hezbollah.

INDYK: That's how Hezbollah will read it. They're very smart. Nasrallah is very smart, and I think what the president needs to be doing at this moment, even though it may sound counterintuitive, and certainly the French aren't doing it, is to say Israel has a right to defend itself, these rocket firings have to stop, the soldiers have to be returned, this is unprovoked aggression and it will not stand. Because that's the best way to show there will be no daylight between Israel and the United States in the international community.

S. O'BRIEN: The U.S. is involved on so many fronts -- in Iraq, in Afghanistan, dealing with Iran, dealing with North Korea. A lot doesn't -- often when there's progress in the Middle East, it's because there's not a lot going on and the U.S. is so focused, you know, it's really at the top of the list. Do we have a problem here now with so much else happening on the international stage, that frankly, even at a day like today, where we're seeing these counter attacks and attacks and more counter attacks, it's not got the focus?

INDYK: That's true. And it will require -- because this situation is escalating, it will require the United States to lead an international effort to try to calm the situation down and come forward with some kind of diplomatic solution. And you have to understand that everything's connected in the Middle East. So Iran is behind Hezbollah and Hamas, and Iran is at the moment the focus of the G-8 attentions, we go to the summit in Russia, because of its nuclear programs. So it's very convenient for Iran to derail that process by having all of us focus on what's happening in Lebanon.

S. O'BRIEN: Martin Indyk is a former U.S. ambassador to Israel, also now the head of the Saban Center. Thank you for talking with us. As always, it's always a pleasure to have you -- Miles.

MILES O'BRIEN, CNN ANCHOR: Police in Mumbai, India casting a wide net as they search for the culprits in the train bombings on Tuesday. Investigators say they've questioned as many as 400 people. Eight bombs exploded simultaneously on trains and at a station, 186 died. Investigators now suspect two regional terror groups. Amid Tuesday's chaos and carnage, some unlikely heroes emerged who, in some cases, saved the day.

Seth Doane is in Mumbai.


SETH DOANE, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Nearly every day Bekram (ph) is here, sitting on the side of this busy Mumbai street, across from a railway stations, weaving baskets to sell on the market. Bekram not only works here, but lives here, too. He and a half dozen family members sleep under a tarp, which they also use for shelter during the monsoon rains.

Many of the slums in Mumbai, like Bekram's, are right next to the railway lines. He was just across the street when one of the trains targeted by terrorists exploded.

In the chaos of those first few minutes following the attacks, before police, before rescuers, many of the first responders here came from the slums. "I was sitting here working," he says, "and suddenly I heard a bang, so we went there to rescue." These first pictures after the attacks show what Bekram might have seen, chaos and carnage.

"We saw smoke blowing out of the compartment, the bodies strewn around somewhere in pieces, some without hands. I looked for those who were breathing faintly. We carried them to passing cars," he tells me.

Bekram says others from these slums came to help, too, all before police made it to the scene.

(on camera): Look at these cramped conditions inside these slums, and imagine entire families living their whole lives here. Mumbai is a city that's known for its slums. In fact, the largest slum in Asia is right here in this city. But

Since the terrible attacks on commuter trains on July 11, Mumbai's slums are now being known for their stories of compassion.

(voice-over): "I was scared, but when you see such scenes, would you turn your back?" he asked me.

Following an attack, you see the pictures of horror, but often just a little later, you start to hear of the good that happened, too.

"There are many people who will give their lives for other people," he tells me.

This city, Mumbai, has a heart. Visiting, you could just walk by these slums without paying attention. Life here is pretty much as it was before the attacks. Bekram has baskets to sell, but he now has a wonderful human story to tell, too.

Seth Doane, CNN, Mumbai.



S. O'BRIEN: Coming up this morning, there's a question raised in a pretty interesting new book. Here's the question, "Are African- American pro athletes really just really well-paid slaves?"

M. O'BRIEN: I would call that a provocative question.

S. O'BRIEN: Yes, it is. The author's here to talk to us about that, and the book as well.

M. O'BRIEN: I bet he sells a few books with that one.

S. O'BRIEN: Oh, yes.

M. O'BRIEN: And creaking bones, sagging muscles. A sure sign nature is catching up to you...

S. O'BRIEN: Are you talking about me?

M. O'BRIEN: No, I am not. I'm not going to go anywhere near discussing your workout regimen. I'm talking about me! But there is a way to turn back the clock. What you need to know to release your inner six-pack, ahead on AMERICAN MORNING.


S. O'BRIEN: Is "slave" a word you'd associate with today's professional athletes? A new book by "New York Times" columnist William Rhoden says it might fit. It's called "40 Million Dollar Slaves: The Rise, Fall and Redemption of the Black Athlete." And the author, William Rhoden, is with us this morning. Very interesting book. You've been getting some great reviews. Obviously, it's a very provocative title. Tell me a little bit about where this title comes from.

WILLIAM RHODEN, AUTHOR, "$40 MILLION SLAVES": Actually it's an anecdote. There's a guy named Larry Johnson who played for the Knicks, an and in 1999, he boycotted the media; he wouldn't say anything. So finally, they kept fining him, and he said, OK, you want me to talk, I'm going to talk. And first thing he says, you know, "My teammates, we're rebellious slaves," And after that, for the next day in the paper, of course, they just, slave! Because he just signed this $40 million -- so anyway, the next season they were playing a game in L.A., and so during the timeout, they were walking toward the bench, and this white guy stood up and said, "Larry Johnson, you're nothing but a $40 million dollar slave!" And that was a cool thing.

And so it's a very interesting place to start, because why would a guy like even Johnson, why would somebody who's making that kind of money even begin to see himself as a slave on a plantation? I think once you begin to examine that -- and what I did, actually, I went all the way back to the plantation, and there was a thriving sports culture with black slaves running, boxing their way off the plantation, if they lived by the coast. Because plantation owners were big -- you know, there were big plantation games.

S. O'BRIEN: But there are many people would say, oh, come on, the plantation metaphor doesn't work just by virtue of getting a paycheck of $40 million, and if that's a plantation, sign me up.

RHODEN: Well, a lot of people say, even Bob Johnson, at the beginning, says listen, if that's a plantation, I want to be on it, but then as you begin to really examine the plantation, the problem is power. You know, you work on a plantation and part of the problem was slavery, not only was it cruel, but you didn't get anything out of the work that you created, you know what I'm saying? So the problem you've got now is that - and black athletes are not exploited. They are not exploited at all. They've got so much potential power, and the problem now -- we're at a point now of power, where you don't use it.

You know, I just saw Carmelo Anthony just sign an $80 million contract. But the problem is this -- if you're Dwyane Wade, if you're Lebron James... S. O'BRIEN: Any superstar, fill in the blank.

RHODEN: Anybody, and you start going into places, like advertising agencies, you go behind the scenes. Forget that the NBA is 80 percent black, but you start going places where outside of you, there are no black people at all, you know. You go into an advertising agency and they want you to do an ad campaign, and you say, wait a minute, do you guys have any black people working here?

S. O'BRIEN: Is it realistic to expect a young superstar who's making a ton of money to suddenly say, yes, you know, before I sign with your ad agency, I need to see the numbers from the Equal Opportunity Employment division?

RHODEN: Well, you don't have to go that far, but it absolutely is.

The defining person in my life, when I was a teenager back in the, you know, dark ages, you know, was Muhammad Ali. And Muhammad Ali was only 22, 23, and this guy's talking about, I'm not going to Vietnam, and you can take my title, you know. This is a 22-year-old guy. John Carlos, Tommy Smith, 1968 Olympics, 19, 22-year-old guys gets up on the stand after they win and raise their fists.

S. O'BRIEN: Black power salute.

RHODEN: The black power salute. Their lives are ruined, but they're young people. So I don't think there's an excuse just because you're young and rich to back away from responsibility.

S. O'BRIEN: The second half of the title is "The Rise, the Fall and Redemption of the Black Athlete," which makes me feel like this has a really hopeful look. What makes you feel hopeful about young black men who are well paid and really living very cushy lives, frankly?

RHODEN: I think they're some young kids -- in fact, you know what, I think what turned a lot of people on was Katrina. I went down to -- I drove down to Mississippi with some NBA athletes, and I think a lot of them, by the time they got down to Biloxi, and a lot of them were from Mississippi, and they saw the devastation, they saw families just wiped out, and they realize, you know what, this could have been me, if I didn't grow to be 6'9", this could have been me. And I think that what they saw, you know what, the new promised land is economics. How can we use the money that we've got collectively to begin to create some things, some banks, some stuff. So I think there is...

S. O'BRIEN: So not just charity, but real power?

RHODEN: Real power. Real power, absolutely.

S. O'BRIEN: Interesting. It's a great book. William Rhoden is the author. It's "40 Million Slave." I mean, at one point, you're like, I love it, I hate it, I love it, I hate it! Thanks for talking with us this morning. Nice to see you -- Miles.

RHODEN: Great to be here.

M. O'BRIEN: Thank you very much, Soledad. We invite you to participate today in the Miles-cam segment, which is coming up at 10:30 Eastern Time on Send us your e-mails now to, special space shuttle, space station edition, although not limited to that necessarily.

Andy Serwer, what you got coming up?


Business news. More high-profile donors pull back pledges from Harvard University. And how'd you like to go to a college tour that really told you what's going on at the school? We'll tell you about that coming up next on AMERICAN MORNING.


S. O'BRIEN: No secret that your body changes with age. Some things are obvious, like you get heavier and get wrinkles and the gray hair, and the list goes on and on. Some things aren't, though, like your bones become more fragile. In our ongoing health series for people in their 30s, and their 40s and their 50s, Elizabeth Cohen has some age-defying advice for muscles and bones.


ELIZABETH COHEN, CNN MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Reporter: It's 5:00 in the morning, and Bill Cox and Tara Murphy are already exercising. They're avid rowers and extremely passionate about exercise. But as they've aged, these athletes have varied their workout routines to avoid major injuries.

BILL COX, ATHLETE: Muscle pulls, running was particularly one that you have to work with on calves, and you have to work on your achilles tendon and other things that at times would get sore.

COHEN: When it comes to exercising and age egging, there's a catch-22 -- exercise is crucial to keeping your bones and muscles young, however, too much impact can hurt you. So as you get older, it's a matter of finding that happy medium.

According to the American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons, as we age, our bones are constantly changing. In our 30s, bones begin to lose minerals like calcium, making them more fragile.

As we get into our 40s, we begin to lose actual bone tissue. But exercise can help regenerate bone tissue in minerals, slowing the onset of osteoporosis and arthritis.

DR. DAVID JOHNSON, WASHINGTON HOSPITAL CENTER: It's important in those that have arthritis and those who are trying to prevent arthritis to cross-train to get involved in a number of other sports, so that if your knees are starting to hurt or you sprain your ankle, then you can cross-train.

COHEN: Also in our 30s and 40s, our muscles begin to shrink and the number of muscle fibers decreases.

JOHNSON: So it's important, even more so, in the 30s and 40s and 50s and beyond to do stretching before you exercise and stretching after your exercise, to prevent injuries.

COHEN: Tara Murphy, who's 36, says it helps.

TARA MURPHY, ATHLETE: Because I'm more stiff. Touching my toes 20 years ago was much easier than it is now.

COHEN: Doctors say it's never too late to start exercising. Studies have shown that even people 50 and older who've never been active can improve their bone and muscles by taking on moderate exercise, like walking and light weightlifting. And go easy on the alcohol and coffee. Doctors say both can interfere with the absorption of calcium in our bones.

Elizabeth Cohen, CNN, Atlanta.



M. O'BRIEN The day's top stories are ahead. Stay with us.