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American Morning

Foley Fallout; Amish School Shooting; Nuclear Test Threat; Rice's Mideast Mission; Deadly October; Going to Pot

Aired October 04, 2006 - 06:00   ET


SOLEDAD O'BRIEN, CNN ANCHOR: Good morning, it is Wednesday, October 4. I'm Soledad O'Brien.

Here is a look at what is happening this morning.

It will be another day of damage control in Washington, Republicans on Capitol Hill trying to contain the fallout from the Mark Foley page scandal. House Speaker Dennis Hastert resisting calls for his resignation.

S. O'BRIEN: In Lancaster County, Pennsylvania, a prayer vigil for the victims of those deadly shootings at an Amish school. Funerals will be held tomorrow and Friday for the five little girls who were killed. Four other girls are still hospitalized in critical condition, another is in serious condition.

M. O'BRIEN: North Korea states plans to test a nuclear bomb on the front burner at the U.N. Security Council today. Japan says it will hold a summit on the matter next week, China and South Korea a part of that. China urging North Korea to hold off on tests.

S. O'BRIEN: Right now, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice is headed to Israel and the West Bank for talks with Israeli and Palestinian leaders. The secretary will meet first with the Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas. Secretary Rice wants to show support for Abbas in his standoff with Hamas hardliners.

Before the trip, Secretary Rice talked about the crisis in Darfur. She says the situation there cannot be tolerated by the rest of the world. Rice also says Sudan's government must reverse course and let U.N. peacekeepers intervene to stop the bloodshed.

M. O'BRIEN: In and around Chicago this morning, crews still working to restore power knocked out by Monday's severe storms. More than 86,000 customers still without electricity as of last night.

Chad Myers at the CNN Center with the forecast.

Good morning, -- Chad.



Back to you.

M. O'BRIEN: Thank you very much, Chad.

Another day and another stunning revelation from disgraced Congressman Mark Foley. Speaking through his attorney, the lawmaker, accused of sending lurid messages to Capitol Hill pages, claims he is gay and was molested by a priest when he was a teen. Foley made those statements from an alcohol rehab center. Foley's lawyer insists none of this is meant as an excuse, however.

We get more from CNN's Brian Todd.


BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The attorney for a disgraced former congressman tells reporters that disturbing incidents in his client's past may have contributed to the behavior that ruined his career.

DAVID ROTH, MARK FOLEY'S ATTORNEY: Mark has asked that you be told that between the ages of 13 and 15 he was molested by a clergyman. Mark will address this issue further upon his release from treatment.

TODD: Along with that, David Roth says Mark Foley accepts responsibility for inappropriate e-mails and instant messages with young men, blaming alcoholism and mental illness, but says Foley denies ever having sexual contact with a minor.

Roth also says Foley is a gay man. This follows other surprises about Mark Foley's alleged contacts with former pages. According to "ABC News," Foley had Internet sex with a former page just before going to vote on the House floor in 2003. ABC says its transcripts of those exchanges were provided by former pages.

(on camera): A different former House page tells CNN he was warned early on about Mark Foley. Mark Beck-Heyman didn't want to go on camera. He says those first warnings about Foley were general in nature. And he says it wasn't long in that summer of 1995 before Foley introduced himself and got friendly.

(voice-over): Foley asked the page -- quote -- "want to go out for some ice cream?" Beck-Heyman says he turned that down because he was working and says Foley later told him they should get together in San Diego the following summer. Beck-Heyman says they never did.

Beck-Heyman was a Republican then, but is now a Democrat. Beck- Heyman says he didn't think much about Foley's approaches to him at the time, but they seem more significant in retrospect.

CNN contacted several other former pages to ask if they got any warning about Foley or other congressman. Some said they heard gossip, but...

SAMUEL BURKE, FORMER CONGRESSIONAL PAGE: They never said stay away from this congressman, never. KARA FRANK, FORMER CONGRESSIONAL PAGE: He was very nice to us. I mean, again, I never got that creepy feeling from him or anything and I never heard any stories. So to hear this, I mean, it's just very shocking.

TODD: Another former page tells CNN -- quote -- "a supervisor mentioned Foley was a bit odd or flakey and did not connote by tone or otherwise that he should be avoided."

A senior federal law enforcement official tells CNN FBI agents are trying to track down former pages to question them about Foley and to make sure the electronic communications attributed to him are authentic.

Brian Todd, CNN, Washington.


S. O'BRIEN: Now to that Amish school shooting. We're learning more about the gunman, Charles Roberts, and his activities right before the attack.

CNN's Allan Chernoff is live for us in Lancaster County in Pennsylvania.

Allan, good morning.

ALLAN CHERNOFF, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Good morning to you, Soledad.

And this crime is so horrific, shooting little school girls execution style, it makes you wonder what possibly, possibly could have been the motive here.

Well police yesterday said that Charles Roberts had been holding a deep, dark secret for 20 years that he revealed just minutes before beginning his shooting rampage at the schoolhouse just behind this cornfield here. He told his wife during a cell phone conversation, and also in his suicide note that he left, he said that he had actually molested two relatives about 20 years ago when he was 12 years old and these relatives were just preschoolers. And he also confessed that over the past two years he had been having dreams of doing it again.


COL. JEFFREY MILLER, COMMISSIONER PA. STATE POLICE: There were two minor family members of Roberts that are alleged to have been molested as of this time, but this is solely based on the statement from Roberts. We have no other confirmation of that at this time.

But we believe these minor relatives of Roberts, and this is alleged to have occurred 20 years ago, were between 3 and 5 years old. It's unknown what type of molestation, whether it was fondling or inappropriate touching or sexual assault, or if anything occurred. We don't know.


CHERNOFF: Police believe that Roberts had been plotting to molest the 10 schoolgirls that he was holding but that he panicked when the police arrived and simply began shooting -- Soledad.

S. O'BRIEN: The details of this crime are really -- are getting more and more shocking, I think, every day. Allan, let me ask you a question about long-term recovery for the people in this community. The Amish clearly very faithful, they're very forgiving people, how do you think that's going to play into how they eventually will react to these shootings?

CHERNOFF: Well it's really how they're reacting even right now. Last night we spoke with a reverend who had actually attended burial preparations at one of the victim's homes. He said these are just an unbelievably forgiving people. Even as a father was helping to prepare his daughter's body for burial, he was speaking of how it's necessary to forgive and simply accept what has happened. I mean it's just astounding to so many people who are outside of the community, but the Amish very peaceful and very, very forgiving people.

S. O'BRIEN: Allan Chernoff for us this morning in Lancaster County.

Thanks, Allan -- Miles.

M. O'BRIEN: Along the Pacific Rim, North Korea's neighbors issuing some stern warnings after the Kim Jong-Il regime announced it would test a nuclear weapon. China, Japan and South Korea planning a series of summits in the coming days to try to defuse yet another standoff with Pyongyang. North Korean diplomat insists a nuclear test is not provocative, only about self-defense.

CNN's Sohn Jie-Ae joins us now from Seoul, South Korea with more, -- Jie-Ae.

SOHN JIE-AE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, Miles, North Korea's neighbors, South Korea, Japan and China, were all swift to react to North Korea's announcement that it would test its nuclear weapons.

The first to react was Japan. Japan and North Korea have the most difficult relationship. Japan came out and strongly condemned North Korea.

Then came South Korea, which has a relatively better relationship with North Korea. The South Korean president saying that although there should be stern measures toward North Korea, that it was also important to be cool-headed towards North Korea as well.

The most serious reaction to all of this came from China, the traditional ally of North Korea, they urged calm for all partners involved.

Now the summit in the days to come, the new Japanese Prime Minister Abe will visit both China and South Korea. And it will be interesting to see how the three countries can coordinate their positions toward North Korea -- Miles.

M. O'BRIEN: Is -- when you say it will be interesting to see how they coordinate it, how much agreement is there on a course of action in response?

SOHN: It has -- there are slightly different perspectives. South Korea wants a peaceful resolution of this at all costs. Of course South Korea neighbors North Korea and so any type of armed conflict on the Korean peninsula would be devastating to South Korea. So South Korea is urging a peaceful resolution at all costs. But the Japanese reaction is a bit different, their position toward North Korea is a lot more hard-lined. And China is actually the opposite. So it will be difficult to really coordinate.

But North Korea has placed these countries in a very difficult position. And so these countries, at some point, will have to reach an agreement on how to deal with the North, again, to deal it -- deal with it so that the issue is resolved once and for all -- Miles.

M. O'BRIEN: Sohn Jie-Ae in Seoul, South Korea, thank you -- Soledad.

S. O'BRIEN: Just minutes from now, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice is expected to arrive in Tel Aviv. She's going to be talking with the Israeli prime minister and the president of the Palestinian Authority. Expectations, though, are low for any big breakthroughs.

Let's get right to CNN's John Vause. He's live in Jerusalem for us this morning.

Good morning, -- John.


When the secretary of state arrives here in about 20 minutes from now from Cairo, she'll head straight off in the next few hours to have a meeting with the Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas in the West Bank city of Ramallah. She will ask the President Abbas what can the U.S. do to bolster his leadership? Abbas has been locked in a power struggle with the Islamic militants Hamas ever since they were elected to office earlier this year.

After that meeting, Rice will then meet with the Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert. He's facing his own problems at home. His poll numbers are at a record low. Many Israelis believe he bungled the war with Hezbollah. So both the Israeli and the Palestinian leaders are facing their own domestic problems.

And while there is a genuine desire here, it seems, by the U.S. to try and strengthen Abbas as leader of the Palestinian Authority, the bigger picture in all of this is trying to build that coalition of moderate Muslim leaders to stand up against those who Washington consider to be the bad guys of the region, Iran's Ahmadinejad, Hezbollah in Lebanon, as well as Hamas in the Palestinian territories. And that's why, before she arrived here, Secretary Rice met with leaders from Saudi Arabia, from Egypt, from a number of the Gulf states. And what she heard over the last 24 hours is if the U.S. wants to have any credibility here in this part of the world, it has to be actively involved in at least trying to resolve the Israeli- Palestinian conflict -- Soledad.

S. O'BRIEN: So then she arrives and it's in the middle of these violent clashes between the Palestinians. What possibly can she accomplish?

VAUSE: Well the key to supporting Abbas against Hamas will always be Israel. It sounds very convoluted. But what Secretary Rice will need to do is try and push the Israelis to give a few concessions to President Abbas. For example, the Israelis had been withholding Palestinian sales tax and customs duties for the last nine months. It's collected by the Israelis on behalf of the Palestinians. There's about $250 million there.

What Secretary Rice will try and do is push the Israelis to release some of that money directly to President Abbas to start paying some of those wages which haven't been paid for months in the Palestinian territories. And paying wages is a really good way to make friends, a really good way of bolstering President Abbas. But at this stage, it seems the Israelis will oppose that. So it's all about trying to get concessions from Israel in supporting President Abbas.

S. O'BRIEN: John Vause is in Jerusalem for us this morning.

Thanks, John -- Miles.

M. O'BRIEN: The wave of violence not ebbing in Iraq. In just the first few days of this month, at least 14 U.S. troops have been killed. This, as the Shiite-led government tries to forge a plan to keep the peace between warring religious sects.

CNN's Michael Ware live in Baghdad with more on all of this, -- Michael.

MICHAEL WARE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, Miles, just an hour and a half ago we saw the violence in Iraq continue as if unrelenting. I mean this is the daily grind. We saw a triple bomb attack on a ministry of industry convoy just 90 minutes ago. So far, the death toll from that stands at 12 Iraqis with 70 wounded.

And, as you say, this comes on the back of just the first three- and-a-half days of this month and the death of 14 U.S. troops. This follows September when more than 70 U.S. troops were killed. Yesterday morning, 30 executed bodies were found just in the capital Baghdad alone, many of them with signs of torture. This doesn't account for the rest of the country. Attacks are on the rise, suicide bombings are spiking. This country very much is in the grip of the holy month of Ramadan and an offensive by the insurgents -- Miles.

M. O'BRIEN: Michael, I know that the Shiite-led government in Iraq is attempting to come up with some sort of plan to address this sectarian violence. There is a proposal out there. Is it likely it will do any good? Is it likely it will be endorsed and embraced by all parties?

WARE: Well, Miles, given that it's you know very powerful factions within this Shia-led government that's responsible for a large proportion of the sectarian killings. In fact, this U.S.-backed government actually runs its own death squads. It does lead to some cynicism about any kind of plan that emerges.

Let's look at the four-point plan that the Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki, a relatively powerless figure who doesn't have his own militia to back him up, hence the U.S. forces are attempting to prop him up, comes up with a plan proposing committees to address violence. Three levels of committees, some on the local level within the capital, one an arching oversight committee and the third a media committee.

Now this is supposed to include Sunni and Shia politicians and other figures. Problem is the Sunnis who will be on this committee did not in any way represent the insurgency so there will be nothing from them. And members of the government representatives, membership from there will come from the very factions that are responsible for a lot of the violence -- Miles.

M. O'BRIEN: And I guess if the -- it seems unlikely that the answer to this violence is to create a series of committees.

WARE: Absolutely. I mean this is just a shell game, Miles. This is just moving pieces about the table or shifting pieces across the chess board. I mean that's what a lot of this is about.

I mean we've heard much about the so-called Battle of Baghdad, Operation Together Forward, tens of thousands of American and Iraqi troops trying to reclaim this city from insurgents, militias and death squads. Well this is just a matter of perception. It's impossible. We see that the killings continue and in fact are rising during this operation. Much of it is smoke and mirrors to give the impression to local Iraqis and domestically to Americans back home that something is being done; but in reality, there is very little behind it -- Miles.

M. O'BRIEN: Michael Ware in Baghdad, thank you very much.

Still to come on our program, an unusual twist in Nevada's drug debate, religious leaders now favor legalizing marijuana. We'll explain.

Also, a new twist on the old runaway bride story as a pair of meddling parents go to great lengths and distances to try to keep this couple from getting hitched. That's ahead.


M. O'BRIEN: In Nevada, a campaign to legalize marijuana use is bringing together some strange political bedfellows, a coalition of priests, preachers and rabbis offering their support to a November ballot initiative which would legalize, regulate and tax small amounts of pot.

We get more from Victoria Campbell of our affiliate KRNV in Reno.


VICTORIA CAMPBELL, KRNV-TV REPORTER (voice-over): It's one of the more unlikely groups you might expect to be supporting the legalization of marijuana, religious clergy, including leaders of various Christian and Jewish faiths, say they are in support of Question 7 which would legalize marijuana use by adults while regulating and taxing the manufacture, distribution and sale of the drug.

NEAL LEVINE, CAMPAIGN MANAGER: The coalition is multi- denominational. It is state-wide. And we are getting supports from all aspects of the religious community.

REV. PAUL HANSEN, HOLY SPIRIT LUTHERAN CHURCH: I think it's really an issue of justice and morality. The current laws do not really work in terms of keeping our children away from marijuana.

DICK GAMMICK, WASHOE COUNTY DISTRICT ATTY.: This is about drugs, a known, dangerous drug. And when I say gateway drug, I don't mean people are necessarily addicted to marijuana and have to move on, they make either addictive, which you can get, or they make a choice to move on to other drugs.

CAMPBELL: Washoe County District Attorney Dick Gammick says drug laws have been successful and have helped drug users recover from addictions.

GAMMICK: They spend at least a year there. They have to get a job. They have to pay back. They have to finish their education. They have to be drug tested and lay off drugs. If they successfully complete, those charges are dropped and their records are expunged and we have a productive citizen. Now you give me a program that's better than that.

CAMPBELL: But religious leaders say it's time to simply admit defeat with many drug laws. And they say voting yes on Question 7 is the way to do it.

HANSEN: Do we just pretend that we can legislate it away? Do we pretend that we can use police and the court system to legislate it away? Experience has shown that that isn't working.

CAMPBELL: In Reno, Nevada, Victoria Campbell for CNN.


M. O'BRIEN: If Nevada's Question 7 is passed, it would remove penalties for adults who use marijuana in their house and create a system for the legal growth and sale of up to an ounce of pot to adults -- Soledad.

S. O'BRIEN: Still to come this morning, one for the record books, the Dow opens today at an all-time high. Will stocks keep going up? We'll take a look.

Plus, a thrill seeker gets way more than he bargained for, he's left hanging above an amusement park for a long time. We'll tell you how they were able to get him down. That's ahead on AMERICAN MORNING.


M. O'BRIEN: After nearly seven years and a few days of waiting, the Dow finally hit its record high. So now what?

Stephanie Elam "Minding Our Business" this morning. Andy is out.

Hello, Stephanie, good to have you here.

S. O'BRIEN: Good morning.

STEPHANIE ELAM, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Good morning. Good morning. Thank you. That's right, it's nice to be here on a day that has something about records in it. So this is good. This is good.

M. O'BRIEN: Yes, enjoy it.

ELAM: So the record, in case you're wondering, 11,727. And that trounces the old record by five points, which was set on January 14 in 2000. So, obviously, it's taken about six-and-a-half years, and that was at the end of that Internet tech bubble coming to a wrap there. And since then we've seen the Dow have a slump and now come back after 9/11. All of those things depressing the markets.

But it was actually helped out by those sharply lower oil prices. And that helped bring the market up. So you see the oil prices go down and we see the markets lift. So that's the catalyst here.

M. O'BRIEN: So are we poised for a correction? I'm being half empty.

ELAM: You're being half empty totally about this.

M. O'BRIEN: Yes.

ELAM: Well, right now I can tell you that oil is at $58.68. That's almost $20 below a barrel of where it peaked before. So that means right now we're looking for the futures today to actually show the markets actually opening up higher, again, because people are liking this right now.

M. O'BRIEN: All right. OK.

S. O'BRIEN: The answer is no. I guess no correction any time soon.

M. O'BRIEN: I guess...

ELAM: As of today, right now, no, that's true.

We also want to take a look at September auto sales because those numbers are coming out, and the big company here, Toyota, which actually really did well to beat out the big three automakers. Toyota's sales were up 25 percent from last year. Obviously that's driven by the Camry and the Corolla, which are the third and fourth best-selling vehicles in the month.

And then GM and Chrysler, they also had some strong small gains there, but Ford's sales were actually off by 5 percent there. And we know Ford has been struggling to turn around their operations. It's been really housed here. But...

M. O'BRIEN: No stopping Toyota though.

ELAM: No stopping Toyota right now. They're the one to beat. But before you write off all of the Fords and the GMs, right now the number one selling truck in the U.S. was once again the Ford F-Series pickup, or a selling vehicle I should say. Overall though, 1.35 million autos were sold during the month of September and that's up from last year by about 2 percent.

M. O'BRIEN: All right.

S. O'BRIEN: Interesting.

ELAM: So people are still buying cars despite the oil prices and gas and all that.

S. O'BRIEN: Right, you wouldn't necessarily know it with all the bad news...

ELAM: Yes.

S. O'BRIEN: ... we've been having on that front for a while.

ELAM: Right.

S. O'BRIEN: Stephanie Elam, thank you. We'll check in with you again in a little bit.

M. O'BRIEN: Thank you, -- Stephanie.

ELAM: Sure.

S. O'BRIEN: Morning's top stories are straight ahead, including another twist in the Mark Foley affair. The disgraced former congressman comes out with details about his own life and his own past.

And he went AWOL to make up for his sins he committed in Iraq. Now a wayward U.S. soldier has surrendered in Kentucky. An update on that story as well ahead on AMERICAN MORNING.


M. O'BRIEN: Happening this morning, China urging North Korea to hold off on its announced plans to conduct a nuclear weapons test. The U.N. Security Council is set to discuss the matter in New York later today.

Any minute now, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice expected to arrive in Israel for talks with the Israeli and Palestinian leaders. She'll meet first with the Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas. Rice wants to show support for Abbas in his standoff with Hamas hardliners.

And less than an hour ago American Roger D. Kornberg won the Nobel Prize for chemistry. He won for research on how cells use genetic information to produce proteins.

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


Expect a renewed defense of House Speaker Dennis Hastert again today. The speaker is under pressure to resign his leadership role in the wake of the Mark Foley e-mail scandal.

CNN Congressional Correspondent Dana Bash has more for us this morning.


DANA BASH, CNN CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: House Speaker Dennis Hastert has already rejected a call from a conservative newspaper that he step down, and today he will continue an offensive to try to stop an all-out revolt against him and other Republican leaders amid accusations they did not do enough to stop the Mark Foley sex scandal. Now, he's been working the phones, calling Republican colleagues in the House, and also the speaker has been calling in to talk radio, trying to calm the anger, especially among many conservatives who think the GOP leadership turned a blind eye to a serious problem that involved teenagers in their care.

Now, Speaker Hastert is continuing to insist that mistakes might have been made, but he is trying to show that he's trying to tackle the issue from a political standpoint head-on and encourage Republicans to continue to aim their fire at Democrats, not at him.

Now, GOP congressmen are back home getting an earful from angry constituents, and more importantly, potential voters about this. But so far, no Republican lawmaker has called for the speaker to step down. But some, especially those who are in very tight races, have come close, making it very clear in several written statements that if the Republican leadership really did know anything that could have stopped Mark Foley and didn't do anything about it, they would lose Republican support.

Dana Bash, CNN, Capitol Hill.


S. O'BRIEN: On a campaign swing out West, President Bush is addressing the Mark Foley sex scandal publicly for the first time.

Elaine Quijano is travelling with the president in California. (BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

ELAINE QUIJANO, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: President Bush wraps up his West Coast campaign push today with stops in Arizona and Colorado. He's hoping to focus the spotlight on national security amid the political fallout in Washington over the Mark Foley scandal.

On Tuesday here in California, the president said he was dismayed and shocked to learn of what he called unacceptable behavior by Foley. The president also made clear he is standing by House Speaker Dennis Hastert, saying that he backs Hastert's call for an investigation.

Now, the president's comments came the same day that the conservative "Washington Times" newspaper called for Speaker Hastert to resign his leadership post. The White House is hoping to quell concerns over Republican leadership just five weeks before congressional midterm elections.

Elaine Quijano, CNN, travelling with the president in Stockton, California.


M. O'BRIEN: In Lancaster County, Pennsylvania, four Amish girls still in critical condition this morning, all victims of that schoolhouse shooting. Five of their sisters and friends died in that attack. And now we're learning more about the shooter and a very disturbing motive.

CNN Senior Correspondent Allan Chernoff joining us live now from Lancaster County -- Allan.

ALLAN CHERNOFF, CNN SR. CORRESPONDENT: Good morning to you, Miles.

Police believe that the possible motive in this absolutely horrific shooting was a deep secret inside of a man who, on the surface appeared to be an ordinary father.


CHERNOFF (voice over): Minutes before milkman Charles Roberts shot 10 schoolgirls and killed himself Monday, he revealed his deepest, darkest secret to his wife Marie during their final phone conversation. Twenty years ago he, he claimed, he had sexually molested two of his very young relatives when they were 3 or 4 years old. A claim that police are still working to confirm.

As he held the schoolgirls at gunpoint, Roberts told Marie where his suicide notes to his wife and three children were located and that he would not be coming home. In this letter to Marie, Roberts wrote he had dreamed for two years of molesting children again. Police say Roberts may have planned out to carry out his dreams at the Amish schoolhouse.

COL. JEFFREY MILLER, COMMISSIONER, PA. STATE POLICE: It's very possible that he intended to victimize these children in many ways prior to executing them and killing himself.

CHERNOFF: Roberts also spoke in the note to his wife about his anger that his firstborn daughter Elise died only 20 minutes after her birth.

MILLER: Roberts was angry with god for taking Elise, has outlined in his suicide note, stating that it had changed his life forever, and he was not the same since it happened. Roberts expressed hate towards himself and towards god.

CHERNOFF: Police quickly arrived at the schoolhouse, and authorities say Roberts panicked and began shooting the girls execution style.


CHERNOFF: Funerals for the five girls are planned for Thursday and Friday -- Miles.

M. O'BRIEN: Allan Chernoff in Lancaster County.

Thank you -- Soledad.

S. O'BRIEN: Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice is expected in Tel Aviv any minute now. She's wrapped up her meetings with moderate Arab states and now it's on to talks with the Palestinians and the Israelis. Meetings are planned today with key leaders there.

Let's check in on that with CNN's John Vause. He's live in Jerusalem.

Hey, John. Good morning.


We're expecting the secretary of state to arrive any moment. When she gets here she'll have a few meetings at the U.S. Consulate in east Jerusalem, and from there she'll head to the West Bank, to the city of Ramallah, for a meeting with the Palestinian Authority president, Mahmoud Abbas.

When she gets there, she will ask Abbas, what can the United States do to help bolster his leadership? Abbas has been locked in this power struggle with the Islamic militants, Hamas, ever since they were elected to office earlier this year.

Also here, while she is here, the secretary of state will hold a meeting with the Israeli prime minister, Ehud Olmert. He's facing his own problems. His popularity rating is around 22 percent, a record low. Many Israelis believe he bungled the war with Hezbollah.

So both the Israeli and the Palestinian leaders are in this very weakened position. So all of this, though, is because the secretary of state has come to this region. She was in Saudi Arabia. She was in Cairo, in Egypt. She held meetings with U.S. allies trying to form this coalition of moderate Muslim leaders to stand up against those who Washington consider to be the bad guys around this part of the world, Iran, Hezbollah, and Lebanon, and also Hamas.

And a key to all of that, what Condoleezza Rice was told over the last 24 hours, is that if the U.S. wants any credibility in this part of the world, then the U.S. must be involved in the Israeli- Palestinian conflict -- Soledad.

S. O'BRIEN: Realistically, though, what is expected that Condoleezza Rice can accomplish?

VAUSE: Well, for Abbas, at least, this is very significant, because he needs all the help he can get. So, a visit the by the secretary of state will at least be a symbolic gesture of support from the United States. And Secretary Rice is aware of that. She was told by those U.S. allies over the last 24 hours that much more needs to be done.


CONDOLEEZZA RICE, SECRETARY OF STATE: The Palestinian people need to have a government that can serve their -- their needs, and we are all trying to support President Mahmoud Abbas. One of the reasons that I will go to the Palestinian territories is to talk with him about what more we can do to support him.


VAUSE: But the key to all of this will be Israel, how far the Israelis are prepared to go to make life a little easier for Mahmoud Abbas. Will Israel ease travel restrictions, for example, between Gaza and the West Bank? Is Israel prepared to open up full time the Carny (ph) crossing in Gaza so Gazan farmers can export their produce to world markets?

But right now it seems the Israelis are in no mood to make concessions, especially while one of their soldiers is still being held hostage in the Palestinian territories -- Soledad.

S. O'BRIEN: John Vause for us this morning in Jerusalem.

Thank you, John -- Miles.

M. O'BRIEN: Happening this morning in New Orleans, a court date for the owners of St. Rita's nursing home where 35 people died in flooding after Katrina. They will formally hear charges against them. Salvador Mangano and his wife Mabel face negligent homicide and cruelty charges.

In Texas, a guilty verdict for the company that owned a bus that exploded last year during the Hurricane Rita evacuation from Houston. Twenty-three people died as a result. Company owner James Maples convicted on maintenance and inspection charges but acquitted on a more serious account. Maples could face prison time and more than $1 million in fines.

In California today, a make-or-break hearing in the child pornography case against ex-JonBenet Ramsey suspect John Karr. Prosecutors lost the original computer seized from Karr in 2001. They want copies of child porn pictures Karr is accused of possessing admitted into evidence. Karr's lawyers say the photos should not be admitted as evidence because they say it's impossible to know when the copies were made and who had access to them.

Well, he fought in Iraq, earned a Purple Heart, but Specialist Darrell Anderson (ph) went AWOL in Canada rather than return to the war. And now Anderson has surrendered. He turned himself in to military officials at Fort Knox.

Anderson says he went AWOL to make up for sins he committed in Iraq. Those were his words. His attorney experts Anderson will be discharged in a few days without facing any charges.

And talk about being left hanging. When Allen Stone (ph) got on the ejection seat -- that's a thrill ride at the Tulsa State Fair -- he never thought one of the ride's bungee cords would snap. It did, leaving Stone (ph) dangling sideways 25 feet off the ground. It took rescue workers a half an hour to get a shaken but grateful Stone (ph) back to earth.

I wonder if he gets his money back for that ride?

S. O'BRIEN: I'm sure he does.

M. O'BRIEN: I think he probably does -- Chad Myers.

CHAD MYERS, CNN METEOROLOGIST: He gets to ride for the rest of his life for free.

M. O'BRIEN: Yes, pretty much. He can do the ejection seat any time he wants. I think that will probably be zero times.

MYERS: That's it. I'm going to use that coupon this many times.

M. O'BRIEN: All right.

Good morning.

MYERS: Good morning.


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

Still to come on this AMERICAN MORNING, much more on our top stories, including this week's alarming rise in American casualties in Iraq on the heels of a very deadly September.

Also, a man with a message for the pope hijacks a plane that's bound for Turkey. His plea for the pontiff just ahead on this AMERICAN MORNING.


S. O'BRIEN: Here's a look now at stories that CNN correspondents around the world are covering today.


MICHAEL WARE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: This is Michael Ware in Baghdad.

As the bloodshed continues to worsen here in Iraq, October has already become a gruesome month for U.S. forces, with 13 troops killed in these first three days alone. All but one of them to hostile fire, and seven killed in one day. This is on the back of September, when more than 70 U.S. troops were killed.

Violence continues against Iraqi civilians, with 30 executed bodies found in the capital yesterday alone. This is all during the holy month of Ramadan, a period when the insurgents traditionally launch an offensive. This is their fourth Ramadan offensive since the fall of Saddam's regime.




South Koreans awoke to the troubling news that North Korea announced that it was going to test its nuclear weapons. Alarmed at the possibility of rising tensions in the Korean peninsula, South Korean president Roh Moo-hyun urged both coolheadedness, as well as a stern reaction to North Korea's announcement. While many believe it could be a negotiating ploy by North Korea, many do hope that negotiations will take hold before North Korea makes good on its threat.




The hijacker was unarmed and the whole crisis lasted just a few hours. Turkish officials identified the man as a Christian convert and a deserter who wanted to seek the pope's help to avoid military service. Earlier reports that there were two hijackers on board the plane who were protesting the pope's upcoming trip to Turkey proved to be untrue. And Vatican officials this morning are saying that their visit in late November is still on.



ROBIN OAKLEY, CNN EUROPEAN POLITICAL EDITOR: I'm Robin Oakley reporting from Dublin, where political reverberations continue over the loans the prime minister Bertie Ahern took from friendly businessmen back in the 1990s. In a two-hour grilling in the Irish parliament, Mr. Ahern admitted to a misjudgment and apologized to the Irish people, but he insisted he'd broken no law and infringed no code of conduct.

The opposition parties continue to press him on the detail, and only time will tell whether Mr. Ahern's apology went far enough to satisfy voters. But for the moment, at least, the prime minister seems to have weathered the storm.


S. O'BRIEN: For more on these stories or any of our top stories, you can go right to our Web site at

M. O'BRIEN: Still to come on AMERICAN MORNING, we've heard all kinds of horror wedding stories, haven't we? But this newlywed couple takes the cake. Even if they never got a chance to cut it.

How far will a parent go to keep their daughter from walking down the aisle? You'll hear the answer ahead.


S. O'BRIEN: Happening this morning, another day of damage control in Washington, D.C. Republicans on Capitol Hill trying to contain the fallout from the Mark Foley page scandal. House Speaker Dennis Hastert is resisting calls for his resignation.

China is urging North Korea to hold off on its announced plans to hold a nuclear test. The U.N. Security Council is set to discuss the matter later today.

And two U.S. pilots have been ordered now to surrender their passports and stay in Brazil. They were piloting a small plane that clipped a jetliner in midair. The jetliner crashed and killed all 155 people who were on board. The small plane was able to land safely.

M. O'BRIEN: Newlyweds Julianna and Perry Myers of Provo, Utah, have tied the knot. And boy oh boy do they have a story to tell the kids some day.

On the eve of their intended wedding day, Julianna's parents invited her on an out-of-state shopping trip. Julianna hopped in the car, unaware that they might have had a different motivation.

Here's Elizabeth Hur from our affiliate KTVX.


PERRY MYERS, HUSBAND: About as happy as you can be, right?

ELIZABETH HUR, REPORTER, KTVX (voice over): The newlyweds were nothing but smiles today, showing off their wedding bands and talking about how happy they are together.

P. MYERS: We were just glad the way it ended and that she just came back and she was OK. And we've gone forward since then.

HUR: Perry Myers' wife Julianna admits her parents tried to talk her out of the wedding.

JULIANNA MYERS, BRIDE: They have their concerns, their reasoning.

HUR: And when Julianna wouldn't budge, she says her parents offered to take her shopping the day before her wedding.

J. MYERS: I was totally confused and manipulated. Now I see what they did. It was kidnapping.

HUR: Authorities agree. Instead of shopping, they say the Reds (ph) forcibly took their daughter on a long drive all the way to Colorado and tried to change her mind. Julianna says her parents finally turned back when she made this promise...

J. MYERS: I said I will not call him.

P. MYERS: And I think it's just sad. It's so sad that this has to happen like this.

HUR: By the time Julianna returned to Provo she had missed her wedding and police had begun their investigation.

J. MYERS: Honestly, I don't understand. It had nothing to do with Perry. It is honestly a mental issue. And we are concerned about it. And that's -- that's why we want them to press forward with charges and hopefully get help in that way.


M. O'BRIEN: A heck of a way to begin a marriage, isn't it?

That was Elizabeth Hur of our CNN affiliate KTVX reporting to you there.

S. O'BRIEN: Whoa.

M. O'BRIEN: And Julianna's parents, Lemuel (ph) and Julia Red (ph), are charged with second-degree felony kidnapping. If convicted they could face up to 15 years in prison.

S. O'BRIEN: That's going to make Christmas at home a little strange with the relatives.

M. O'BRIEN: Yes. Whose house do you go to? I think we know. I think we know.

S. O'BRIEN: I'm sure there's a follow-up to that story coming some time soon.

M. O'BRIEN: Yes. We'll keep you posted.

S. O'BRIEN: Still to come this morning, from pinstripes to prison stripes. Two former Tyco executives say all those millions of dollars they were convicted of stealing, oh, it was all just a big mistake. A little dispute with the board, if you will. We'll explain ahead on AMERICAN MORNING.


M. O'BRIEN: You know they say there are no guilty people in jail. And prisoners always want to get out. And Dennis Kozlowski is no exception.


S. O'BRIEN: Let's get a check of the forecast with Chad.

Good morning, Chad. Good news, too?

MYERS: I do have good news.