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American Morning

Russian Plane Crash; Nuke Showdown Coming?; John Mark Karr Facing Justice

Aired August 22, 2006 - 08:59   ET


SOLEDAD O'BRIEN, CNN ANCHOR: In Ecuador, thousands of victims of last week's volcanic eruption are in need of food and shelter and other supplies, according to the Red Cross. Today there's some warnings, in fact, that those people could be in dire straits.
We'll update you on that story in just a moment.

RICK SANCHEZ, CNN ANCHOR: Suspected terrorists in court this morning in London. Some heavy security greets the men accused of planning the airline bombings, and we're certainly going to be telling you all about that.

O'BRIEN: Also, the suspect, John Mark Karr, we've been following what his -- people who may or may not be his attorneys have been telling us this morning. He is awaiting an extradition hearing in Los Angeles.

We'll tell you what's happening there and what could be his next steps just ahead.

First, though, some breaking news. We want to update you on what's happening out of Russia.

A passenger jet -- we just told you about this a couple of minutes ago -- 170 people on board, disappeared while it was flying over the Ukraine. We are getting word now that in fact some of the wreckage has been found. The wreckage of the plane has been found on the ground in Ukraine. That word coming to us from The Associated Press.

There were initial reports, in fact, from officials who believed early on that the plane had crashed after sending an SOS message. The plane was going from the Black Sea resort of Anapa to St. Petersburg when it disappeared from the radar screens. That word coming from the Emergency Situations Ministry spokesperson quoted in The Associated Press.

We're going to work on this story, bring you an update on the cause of that crash now that they found some of that wreckage on the ground in the Ukraine, 170 people on board the flight.

First, though, word from Iran about the future of its nuclear program. We're expecting it any minute. A response to the Security Council's demand to stop enriching uranium is what they are expected to follow up on.

CNN's Aneesh Raman is the only U.S. TV correspondent who is in Tehran, and he is live for us this morning there.

Hey, Aneesh. Good morning.


We're standing at the very busy Tajrish Square in northern Tehran. The people here, no sense of unease as they wait for word from their government.

Not far from where I stand, though, is where we expect at any moment Iran to officially hand over, in the Iranian official's words, a comprehensive reply to the deal that has been offered Iran to suspend its nuclear program. It is likely, from what we're hearing, to be lengthy.

Iran will by detail, point by point, respond to the deal at hand, and also will likely call for further talks. Iran says it is willing to talk, but there can be no precondition that the country suspend its nuclear program. That, of course, is what it's required to do by the U.N. by the end of the month.

So, we don't know exactly when this hand-over will take place between the country's chief nuclear negotiator and representatives from France, Germany, Russia, China, Britain and the U.S. On behalf of them sitting in is the Swiss Embassy here because the U.S. has no diplomatic ties with Iran -- Soledad.

O'BRIEN: Aneesh Raman for us this morning.

Aneesh, a quick question before I let you go. Where are you this morning?

RAMAN: Yes, we're just at a main square. And you can see behind me a very rare live glimpse of life on the main streets here in Tehran.

People just going about their daily business. Many of the main newspapers aren't even open today despite the big news we're expecting. The reason being, today is a very auspicious Muslim holiday. It is by the Muslim faith the day that the prophet was given his mission by god.

And so they are often more celebrating than they are concerned what's going to happen. Also, a sense, perhaps, that there is very little they can do, that all of this now is in the hands of their government. And a little bit of unease, quietly, at least, about what may happen next -- Soledad.

O'BRIEN: Aneesh Raman for us this morning in Tehran.

Aneesh, thanks -- Rick.

SANCHEZ: You know, actually, Iran's decision may not set things in motion immediately at the United Nations. That's because its deadline for Iran hasn't passed yet. The U.N. deadline, that is.

CNN's Richard Roth is live at the U.N. right now trying to explain this to us.

I'm a little confused, Richard. Was it supposed to happen at 8:00? We're an hour behind that now. Or is it kind of an ongoing window?

RICHARD ROTH, CNN SR. U.N. CORRESPONDENT: Well, they will just take it when it come here at the United Nations. Aneesh is probably closer to the scene to know minute by minute the tick-tock, but the diplomats will be called in and given this response from Iran. Though, under the Security Council resolution, they have until August 31st.

So the game may not be over. And they will certainly wait until that final point to hear about Iran's nuclear program.

Russia and China always think it's better to keep talking and not impose sanctions, though they have agreed to another discussion at the end of the month with their fellow council members, U.S., France and Britain, should Iran not freeze its uranium enrichment program.

U.S. Ambassador John Bolton concerned about reports that Iran refused entry to U.N. nuclear inspectors the other day.


JOHN BOLTON, U.S. AMB. TO U.N.: They've obstructed the work of the IAEA repeatedly in Iran. They've concealed things from -- form the IAEA inspectors. They've falsified data. They've destroyed facilities. So more obstructionism doesn't surprise me at all.


ROTH: The European Union has offered the carrot and stick approach, Rick. They've offered economic incentives to Tehran. That's what they will be rebuffing if they turn down this latest deal.

The United States at the moment still saying, let's look for a diplomatic solution. President Bush saying, let's work in concert with the allies on this -- Rick.

SANCHEZ: Richard Roth following things there from the U.N.

If you hear any word, certainly we'll be getting back to you.

Thanks so much, Richard.

And Iran, by the way, is not the only country posing a nuclear threat right now. North Korea is protesting joint U.S. and South Korean military exercises that started yesterday. And it says it may take retaliatory action if the exercises continue. The threats come amid concerns that North Korea may be planning a nuclear test.

Soledad, over to you.

O'BRIEN: Thank you. John Mark Karr could soon be heading to Colorado to face charges in the JonBenet Ramsey murder case. The suspect has an extradition hearing today in Los Angeles.

CNN's Drew Griffin is in L.A. for us this morning.


DREW GRIFFIN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: By all accounts, it should be a very brief hearing. John Mark Karr is expected to waive his extradition rights, agreeing to go back to Colorado and face the murder charge in the JonBenet Ramsey case from 1996. The question will be, will Mr. Karr be represented by an attorney or will he represent himself?

That hearing is going to take place later this morning inside the criminal courts building here in Los Angeles. He did see a couple of attorneys yesterday in his jail cell at the Los Angeles County jail, but as of right now we do not know if an attorney will represent John Mark Karr in the extradition hearing that will take place here in Los Angeles.

Drew Griffin, CNN, Los Angeles.


O'BRIEN: We spoke in the last hour with attorneys who met with Mr. Karr yesterday and asked about the comments to reporters that he was in fact maybe there when JonBenet Ramsey was killed.

Listen to what she had to say.


PATIENCE VAN ZANDT, ATTORNEY WHO MET WITH KARR: He had no time to think about what he was going to say, and the magnitude of the import that is being give to words he spoke under extreme pressure, tired, frightened, harried by reporters and law enforcement officials, is -- it's not realistic and not practical when you think about it to take those few statements, isolate them, and try to extrapolate from that the entirety of what he's trying to communicate.


O'BRIEN: Karr is being held on suspicion of first degree murder. He's not been charged yet -- Rick.

SANCHEZ: Escaped prisoner William Morva is back behind bars this morning. This is in Blacksburg, Virginia. Monday authorities had to shut down the campus of Virginia Tech University while they searched for the alleged killer.

We're going to get more now from CNN's Kathleen Koch.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE) KATHLEEN KOCH, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice over): It was a tense 36-hour manhunt, and students on their first day of class at Virginia Tech were caught in the middle.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We were in class for about 15 minutes, and then the S.W.A.T. guys came in with their machine guns and told us to exit the building as quickly as possible.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And I was like -- I mean, I was, like, "What's going on?" He's like, "Some killer is on the loose." I was, like, "All right, I'll stay in. Don't worry about it."

KOCH: But by 3:30 in the afternoon, 24-year-old suspect William Charles Morva had been caught. Police say officers found Morva along a trail near campus hiding in a briar patch with a gun, wearing only a pair of gym shorts.

KIM CRANNIS, INTERIM CHIEF, BLACKSBURG POLICE DEPT.: It's very thick through there, and they came upon Mr. Morva underneath some brush. He was challenged, he did not resist coming out from under the brush.

KOCH: Police say Morva was hiding just 150 yards from where the sheriff's deputy corporal Eric Sutphin had been shot to death. Morva had escaped from authorities Sunday morning when he was transferred from jail to a local hospital for treatment of a leg wound. Police say Morva overpowered the deputy, took his gun, and shot to death the hospital security guard who tried to prevent his escape.

Authorities promise security during prisoner transfers is being tightened.

SHERIFF TOMMY WHITT, MONTGOMERY COUNTY, VIRGINIA: This is a very tragic, tragic incident, and we have to learn from it, even if it's a simple shift in a direction of travel. We have to learn from it.

KOCH (on camera): Among the charges Morva now faces, capital murder, assault on a law enforcement officer, and felonious escape.

Kathleen Koch, CNN, Blacksburg, Virginia.


O'BRIEN: Here's a look at some of the other stories that are happening this morning, as well.

Eleven suspects in that alleged plot to blow up planes over the Atlantic are in a London courtroom today. They arrived under tight security. At least four of them are being held until the next court appearance next month.

SANCHEZ: Indian investigators say there's been a breakthrough in last month's deadly train bombings. Police fatally shot one man and arrested another in Mumbai today. No word yet on how it is connected. The bombings killed 186 people. Officials say excessive speed is to blame for a deadly train accident in northwestern Spain. Six people were killed when the train derailed near the city of Miada (ph) just yesterday.

O'BRIEN: It's day two of the second Saddam Hussein trial. The two co-defendants testified, saying a military maneuver back in the 1980s was in fact aimed at Kurdish rebels, not civilians. Saddam Hussein is charged with genocide in this trial.

SANCHEZ: The inmate accused of opening fire in a Georgia courthouse has died. Police say the 28-year-old, Timanti Lamar (ph), grabbed a deputy's gun and then shot him. That deputy is doing OK, we're told this morning.

O'BRIEN: Former president Gerald Ford expected to remain at the Mayo Clinic for several more days. Doctors implanted a pacemaker in Ford on Monday. He is 93 years old.

Food and other supplies are desperately needed in Ecuador. Thousands of people there are now homeless following a volcanic eruption that killed four people and destroyed a total of 10 villages.

O'BRIEN: Tourist resorts in northern Greece being devastated this morning by massive fires. Those fires forcing thousands of vacationers to evacuate the area, and one death is being blamed on the fires so far.

SANCHEZ: Also, more rain is in the forecast for Amarillo, Texas. Heavy thunderstorms flooded streets and stranded plenty of cars, as well.

Much the same in Tempe, Arizona. Several cars got stuck in the water despite warnings to stay off the roads.

Time for a check of the forecast. Chad Myers standing by.

You know, they don't get a lot of rain in places like Phoenix, Arizona.


SANCHEZ: But boy, when they get it they get it, don't they?

MYERS: It's the summertime problem when there's not a jet stream over them. So when a storm pops, it sits in the same place for hours, and then you get significant rainfall. Totals start to pile up and then it starts to run off.

Newark, you have 30-minute airport delays. We'll back you up, though, to yesterday. This is actually a storm totals map.

Radar estimating where all the rainfall was. Anywhere that you see yellow, that's three inches of rain or more. And, yes, we have quite a few spots.

But notice this really -- it just lies right along a front, a stationary boundary that's pretty much in the same place today. So the storms will be in the same place today. Therefore, more potential for more flooding today.

The first named Cape Verde or African storm, if you will, of the season will be later on today. It will be Debby. In fact, it will even turn into Hurricane Debby, according to all of the computer models and the hurricane center. A Category 1 hurricane by late Friday night, into Saturday morning.

Not really much here in the Caribbean. Watching kind of a -- kind of just a little explosion there of cloud cover. Cancun, Havana, all the way over to Grand Cayman, but so far no spin to that storm at all.


MYERS: Back to you guys.

O'BRIEN: All right, Chad. Thanks a lot.

MYERS: Sure.

O'BRIEN: Let's update you on what we were telling you about just a few moments ago, that Russian plane crash. A Russian passenger jet, in fact, with 170 people on board has crashed in the Ukraine after it sent out an SOS message. That according to emergency officials.

It's a Tupolev TU-154 plane. It was en route from the Russian Black Sea resort from Anapa to St. Petersburg, and it disappeared from the radar screens while it was flying over Ukraine. That word from the Emergency Situations Ministry spokeswoman.

Thirty bodies, according to Interfax news agency, 30 bodies have been recovered, have been found. The wreckage reported near the Ukrainian city of Donetsk. Rescue workers are on the scene, according to those reports coming to us from reports on the scene and also The Associated Press -- Rick.

SANCHEZ: And as we go to break, let's update you now on another developing story that we have been following for you for the better part of the last three hours or so. This is coming to us now from Iranian TV, and what they are saying or indicating is that Iran has made a decision about its nuclear program.

Don't know what exactly that decision is as to whether they will respond or not to the U.N. resolution asking them to check their nuclear program. But we're checking on it ourselves and we'll update you as soon as we get the information.

O'BRIEN: And then later this morning, we're following up on a tragic story for millions of elderly Americans abused by the very people they should be trusting the most. We'll tell you one woman's ordeal just ahead on AMERICAN MORNING.


SANCHEZ: Let's go to a CNN "Security Watch" now.

The investigation into the alleged airline terror plot is moving forward. Eleven people charged are appearing in a British courtroom today. So far, though, the first four suspects have been ordered held until next month.

CNN European Political Editor Robin Oakley is joining us now live from London to bring us some of the details of this story.

Good morning, Robin.


And this is the most significant development so far in a terrorist plot which police here are saying was an attempt to commit murder on an unimaginable scale.


OAKLEY (voice over): Nearly half the 23 suspects held since a plot to blow up airliners on their way from Britain to the United States was revealed on August 10 have now been charged with terrorist offenses and are facing a first court hearing.

SUSAN HEMMING, COUNTERTERRORISM PROSECUTION CHIEF: Eight are currently being charged with two offenses relating to the alleged plot to manufacture and smuggle the component parts of improvised explosive devices onto aircraft and assemble and detonate them on board. Those individuals are being charged with conspiracy to murder and the new offense of preparing acts of terrorism contrary to Section 5 of the Terrorism Act 2006.

OAKLEY: Along with the eight individuals facing that double count, three others have been charged with possessing materials useful to terrorists or failing to disclose information which might have prevented a terrorist attack. Eleven more suspects are still being held without charge, and one has been released.

Scotland Yard's anti-terrorism chief has outlined the kind of evidence the police have.

PETER CLARKE, DEP. ASSIST. COMMANDER, SCOTLAND YARD: This includes important, indeed highly significant, video and audio recordings. I can also tell you that since the 10th of August, we have found bomb-making equipment. There are chemicals, including hydrogen peroxide, electrical components, documents and other items.

We've also found a number of video recordings. These are sometimes referred to as martyrdom videos.

OAKLEY: Investigators have so far searched 69 houses, flats, business premises and vehicles. Four hundred computers and 200 mobile phones have been seized. And investigators say it will take many months to examine all the material.

(END VIDEOTAPE) OAKLEY: Police say the scale of this investigation is immense and its span will be worldwide. But we have now had the first formal steps with the terrorist suspects arriving here at court today under very tight security, being driven down into the basement behind shuttered metal doors. Four of them so far have appeared before a district judge and been remanded in custody. And we await to see what happens to the others -- Rick.

SANCHEZ: Robin Oakley joining us there with the very latest from London.

We thank you.

By the way, stay with CNN day and night for the most reliable news about your security -- Soledad.

O'BRIEN: Coming up this morning, we'll take a look at some of the risks for former president Gerald Ford. He's had a pacemaker implanted. So what are the chances for a full recovery?

Dr. Sanjay Gupta has got that up next on AMERICAN MORNING.


O'BRIEN: In this morning's "House Call," former president Gerald Ford, he's now recuperating after doctors at the Mayo Clinic implanted a cardiac pacemaker. The 93-year-old Ford was admitted last week for tests and evaluation.

Senior Medical Correspondent Dr. Sanjay Gupta is at the CNN Center with more.

Hey, Sanjay. Good morning.


You know, a pacemaker is something that has become certainly a lot more common. People learned about them a lot after Vice President Cheney had one placed, as well. About 600,000 people around the world do have cardiac pacemakers.

I just got off the phone with some of the folks at the Mayo Clinic. We're not exactly sure why he's had the pacemaker put in, but there are a few different reasons that are the more common ones.

First of all, something known as bradycardia. That's basically when the heart is just beating too slowly. The pacemaker can actually help speed up the heart a little bit.

Also, something known as atrial fibrillation. A lot of people have heard about this. That's basically when the heart is not beating in a coordinated fashion, sort of beating in a discoordinated fashion. It sort of regulates that, as well.

Also, just a form of heart failure could also benefit from a pacemaker, sort of giving the heart a little bit of an extra push. That can help, as well.

It's a rather simple operation in the scheme of things. You know, it's basically a small operation, often done under local anesthesia, just placing the pacemaker itself underneath the collarbone, hooking up some electrical leads to the wire -- the wires, rather, to the heart. The heart is sort of an electrical organ, if you will, and sort of regulating that heartbeat again.

Sometimes it can even have another component to it which actually jolts the heart back to a normal rhythm if it goes into a wildly abnormal rhythm. But again, a fairly straightforward procedure -- Soledad.

O'BRIEN: What are the symptoms, Sanjay, that would -- would indicate that anybody, not just the former president, but anybody might need a pacemaker?

GUPTA: Well, you know, sometimes they can be rather vague. And certainly someone who is elderly, sometimes they can be confused with other symptoms as well.

But extreme dizziness, for example. That could just be because you're not pumping enough blood to the rest of your body. Significant dehydration, as well. Fainting or blood vessel damage. These can be some of the symptoms specifically of what is known as bradycardia, the slow heartbeat syndrome -- Soledad.

O'BRIEN: Let me ask you a quick question, Sanjay, before I let you go.

Normally, in the surgery, which, as you say is fairly common, the patient would be up that day walking around again. Why is the former president still in the hospital? And why is he going to there been for the next couple of days? Do you know?

GUPTA: Well, it's a good question. And part of that might have to do with what took him in the hospital the first place.

We do know that he was hospitalized for shortness of breath in Vale. He's had bouts of pneumonia in the past.

And I should point out, Soledad, both those things might be improved to some extent by a pacemaker, because once the heart starts pumping blood a little bit more regularly, fluid will stop building up in the lungs. That could have been causing the shortness of breath, as well.

Also, you know, Soledad, he's 93 years old. You know, we talked to the chief of cardiology at Emory University and he says he has done a pacemaker procedure in someone who's 104 years old.

So, it's elderly people who have this operation. But he just might be taking a while to recover from this.

O'BRIEN: That's a true optimist. Go ahead and get that pacemaker surgery when you're 104. Good for him. I hope it all ended very well for him.

GUPTA: Exactly.

O'BRIEN: Thanks, Sanjay. Appreciate it.

GUPTA: Thank you.

O'BRIEN: Sanjay Gupta, medical correspondent, for us this morning.

SANCHEZ: Some of the top stories that we have coming your way.

We're hearing Iran has officially responded to demands that it shut down its nuclear program. The question is, what was their answer?

We're going to try to tell you what we're getting from our sources on this as soon as we get more word.

Also, an unpopular war puts one country's leader in the hot seat. No, we're not talking about Iraq and the United States. We're talking about Israel in this case.



O'BRIEN: A few moments away from the opening bell ringing on Wall Street. The Dow Jones industrial average opens at 11,345. That's down more than 36 points yesterday.

Welcome back, everybody. I'm Soledad O'Brien.

SANCHEZ: And I'm Rick Sanchez, sitting in for Miles today.

O'BRIEN: Lots of stories to get to this morning.

Let's get right to Carol Costello with an update.

Good morning.


Good morning to all of you.

At least 170 people are feared dead after a Russian passenger jet goes down. The plane disappeared from the radar screens over Ukraine. Word is the pilot had reported heavy turbulence before the crash.