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American Morning

E. Coli Cropping up in Five States; James Kim Tribute; Wii Warning

Aired December 08, 2006 - 06:00   ET


MILES O'BRIEN, CNN ANCHOR: Outbreak unleashed. New this morning, E. Coli bacteria now in five states. Taco Bell closing more restaurants, facing its first lawsuit from parents of a sick child.
BETTY NGUYEN, CNN ANCHOR: Talk about a swan song. Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld says good-bye to troops at the Pentagon today. Will he show any sign of regret for the Iraq War?

M. O'BRIEN: And the truly heroic efforts of James Kim now coming to light. A special tribute to the father who died trying to save his family in the Oregon wilderness on this AMERICAN MORNING.

Good morning. It's Friday, December 8th. I'm Miles O'Brien.

NGUYEN: Good morning, everybody. I'm Betty Nguyen in for Soledad today.

M. O'BRIEN: Welcome to you, Betty.

NGUYEN: Thank you.

M. O'BRIEN: We begin with growing fears and a widening investigation in that E. Coli outbreak linked to Taco Bell restaurants. More than 80 people now sickened by the deadly bacteria in five states. The company took green onions off the menu after they tested positive for E. Coli. But is that the sole source of the outbreak? AMERICAN MORNING'S Alina Cho joining us with more on this story.

Good morning, Alina.

ALINA CHO, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Good morning to you, Miles.

It seems so at this point. You know, it seems every morning we're hearing about how this outbreak is spreading. More people are sick, more Taco Bells are closed and federal investigators are still trying to pinpoint the source of the dangerous bacteria.


CHO, (voice over): Taco Bell has closed all 14 of its restaurants in Delaware after another confirmed case of E. Coli linked to the fast-food chain. A 15-year-old girl was hospitalized for five days last month after eating at in a Taco Bell in New Jersey.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The bacteria can live on a surface for some time. The bacteria can be lethal. So we're taking this very seriously and asking people to take precautions accordingly.

CHO: The E. Coli outbreak has now spread to five states, with as many as 84 people sickened in Connecticut, New York, New Jersey, Delaware and Pennsylvania.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Once they diagnosed her with E. Coli, the first thing they said was, did you eat at Taco Bell?

CHO: On Wednesday, Taco Bell pulled green onions from all of its 5,800 restaurants nationwide after lab tests showed that could be the source of the outbreak. Federal health facials are also looking at other ingredients. Meanwhile, the first of what could be many lawsuits against the fast-food chain has been filed in New York's Suffolk County. The family of 11-year-old Tyler Gormatack (ph) claims eating at a Taco Bell made him sick.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Anybody who's ever endured this type of illness will tell you, it's a tremendous discomfort that you go through. At this point, Tyler, a few weeks later, is now steadily improving. But the end result is unknown at this point in time. We don't know if he'll make a full recovery or not.


CHO: So more on the source of the outbreak. Health officials are focusing on those green onions. Otherwise known as scallions. They're trying to find out exactly where those green onions may have been contaminated. Was it at the California farm where they were grown, the New Jersey plant where they were cut, washed and bagged., or the New Jersey warehouse which distributed the green onions to all of the Taco Bell restaurants in the northeast. They are also looking at other vegetables. And, you know, there are a lot of variables here, Miles. Still trying to sort it all out.

M. O'BRIEN: I should say. These suspect green onion, did Taco Bell buy them all out or could there be other restaurants that have them?

CHO: They did. You know, that was my first question, you know, could other restaurants be effected. It seems that Taco Bell did buy all of the green onions. The restaurants affected have been sanitized. Of course, some of them have been closed. So we'll wait to see what happens next.

M. O'BRIEN: Alina Cho, thank you very much.

In our next hour we'll talk to the man who is heading the consumer protection in the E. Coli outbreak with the federal government.


NGUYEN: Looking forward to that.

In the meantime, we're turning now to the war in Iraq. Here's what's new this morning. Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld holds his final town hall meeting at the Pentagon this morning, saying farewell to staff.

President Bush meets with House and Senate leaders from both parties at the White House this morning. It's expected to begin right around 8:30 Eastern.

And 20 insurgents killed in a U.S. security sweep. Gunfire opened up on coalition troops in an al Qaeda controlled area about 50 miles northwest of Baghdad. The coalition troops called in an air strike.

Well, President Bush says he will wait for Pentagon, State Department and White House reviews before making any move on the recommendations on the Iraq Study Group. The president met with his biggest supporter of the war, British Prime Minister Tony Blair. That happened on Thursday. Here's CNN White House correspondent Suzanne Malveaux.


SUZANNE MALVEAUX, CNN CORRESPONDENT: British Prime Minister Tony Blair has two months left, President Bush, two years. And what happens in Iraq will largely determine both leaders' legacies. So while they stood together in the beginning of the war, they emphasized that they will stand together in trying to find a way out. Both of them acknowledging that things are not going as planned. President Bush saying it's bad in Iraq.

The two leaders also were adamant that despite the Iraq Study Group's scathing report that their mission in Iraq is sound. President Bush said that both have read the Iraq Study Group report in its entirety, but reading it and adopting it are two different things. President Bush says that he will look at internal reviews from the Pentagon, the State Department and the National Security Council before making any decisions. And then when he's made up his mind, he will deliver a major address to the American people about his policy in the next couple of weeks.

Suzanne Malveaux, CNN, the White House.


M. O'BRIEN: In Iraq, a lightning-quick raid by British and Danish troops may have netted some of the leaders of a Shiite militia linked to the sectarian violence there. CNN's Cal Perry live now from Baghdad with the latest.


CAL PERRY, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, good morning, Miles.

While most of the country finds itself under the weekly Friday curfew, it seems like coalition troop are on the move in a big way in two sections of the country. First, in Basra, British troops, some 750, in what they're calling their largest combat operation since the initial invasion, backed by 250 Danish troops, took a southern section of that southern city. Five insurgents detained there. And while reports are still early, we do understand no casualties on either side at this point.

About 100 miles to the north of Baghdad, in the town of Samarra, U.S. troops on the move. They came under heavy fire from insurgents. They called for air support. They took out a building int hat area. They went into that site after the air strike. They found 20 dead insurgents, a lot of documents, quite a few explosives and they are telling us that they believe those 20 insurgents are al Qaeda operatives based on the intelligent that they found in and around that site.

And, Miles, as we've discussed many times, the more the U.S. troops are on the streets, their level of exposure rises. And, again, we heard from the U.S. military today, yesterday a U.S. soldier was killed in Baghdad by a improvised explosive device. That is a roadside bomb. That brings the today to 32 U.S. troops killed so far this month.


M. O'BRIEN: Cal Perry in Baghdad. Thank you.

A stunning report this morning suggests the sectarian violence in Iraq may be funded in part by Saudi Arabia. The Associated Press reporting private Saudi citizens are funneling cash to their fellow Sunnis in the Iraqi insurgency. That money, often trucked across the border, is used to buy guns and explosives that target Shiites and U.S. troops. The report says the Saudi are trying to stem the influence of Iran, which is accused of supporting Shiite militias in Iraq.


NGUYEN: Outgoing secretary of defense holds his final town hall meeting at the Pentagon today and he could face questions about Iraq, the Iraq Study Group's report and his decision to resign. Pentagon correspondent Jamie McIntyre has more.


JAMIE MCINTYRE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: His formal farewell will be one week from today with all the pomp and pageantry befitting an outgoing secretary of defense, but today will be Don Rumsfeld's last town hall meeting with Pentagon employees. It's something that Rumsfeld initiated back before September 11th to talk to the 24,000 civilians and military personnel in this building. It's a chance to share his thoughts and get some feedback from the workforce he oversees.

This will be his swan song. It's not clear how much he'll say about the war in Iraq, the very critical assessments offered by the Iraq Study Group, or even his own personal plans after he leaves office later this month. The setting is the Pentagon auditorium, where he will take questions from Pentagon workers, but not any news reporters. Rumsfeld is expected to get a warm sendoff, despite his reputation for being a tough boss. In fact, in these kind events, he is invariably charming and sometimes funny.

When he steps down next week, after nearly six years, he will be just two weeks shy of having been the longest serving defense secretary ever. A distinction that will still be held by Robert McNamara, who like Rumsfeld also left office after presiding over an increasingly unpopular war.

Jamie McIntyre, CNN, the Pentagon.


M. O'BRIEN: Security watch this morning. The government considering a plan to loosen security at the country's airports. This according to "USA Today." It would let unticketed passengers pass through security checkpoints, something banned since 9/11. And it would allow people to meet family and friend at the arrival gate. The idea is being tested with hotel guests staying at Dallas-Ft. Worth and Detroit airports.

And it's a start. Six overseas ports will begin screening cargo for nuclear and radiological material before it heads to America. Homeland Security say that's about 7 percent of all U.S.-bound cargo. Locals will run the checks, but U.S. officials will make the final call on allowing shipments. One port involved is operated by D.P. World. That's the Dubai company at the center of the port security debate earlier this year.


NGUYEN: New this morning, firefighters are working to control a spreading wildfire. It started by a broken down car. Check this out. The fire is moving quickly with the help of 30 mile-per-hour wind gusts. It's already charred 1,000 acres. In Bakersfield, near the Grapevine, that's about 70 miles north of Los Angeles. Chris Van Horne of our affiliate KERO has the latest from Curran (ph) County, California.


CHRIS VAN HORNE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: The fire started here in Curran County at about 6:30 Thursday evening when a car driving southbound on Interstate 5 caught fire on the right-hand shoulder and the flames quickly spread to the west at about 30 to 45 mile-per-hour winds pushing it to the west. Within that first 45 minutes, about 100 acres had burned. Four hours later, 1,000 acres had burned. One hundred firefighters from Curran County Fire, Los Angeles County Fire and the California Department of Forestry are working on the fire. On the western edge of the fire is where they were attacking it at this hour, trying to put the flames down. It is zero percent contained and there were some homes threatened but the firefighters were able to secure the areas and they look like they are in a safe position. Reporting for KERO TV, I'm Chris Van Horne in Curran County.


M. O'BRIEN: Happening this morning.

Two men close to the poisoned former spy are sick themselves. One of them is a Russian businessman. He now has symptoms similar to Alexander Litvinenko's before he died. Seven workers at the hotel where the meeting took place also test positive for low levels of the radioactive poison.

The heroic dad who set out into the Oregon wilderness to save his family died of hypothermia. Unclear when James Kim died, however. But searchers believe he hiked more than 10 miles in a desperate search for help after his car got stuck in the snow on a mountain road. Kim's wife and two daughters also were rescued alive and well on Monday.

In Phoenix, police believe they have captured a serial killer. They say Mark Goudeau is the city's baseline killer. Goudeau to be charged with nine counts of murder, five counts of sexual assault, 10 counts of kidnapping. The baseline killer so named because many of the crimes took place along Baseline Road in Phoenix.

CNN has learned lightning may have sparked the deadly explosion at the Sago Mine. West Virginia investigators coming out with their report next week about what happened at the mine that trapped and killed 12 men.

This morning, crews in New York will start tearing down the Deutsche Bank building damaged in the 9/11 attacks five years ago. The 41-floor building filled with toxic debris and bone fragments from the twin towers has been the focus of a battle over who should pay for its demolition.

And new prison is ready in Guantanamo Bay, replacing the older detention center seen here. The new facility, $37 million price tag, 40 detainees have already been transferred. Right now about 430 men are held at Guantanamo suspected of links to al Qaeda or the Taliban.

NASA looking toward tomorrow night to launch the space shuttle Discovery. Low, thick clouds and poor visibility scrubbed the first launch attempt last night. Weather does not look good for today either.


NGUYEN: Well, a lot of you better bundle up before heading out to work today. Coming up, Chad Myers will tell you just how cold it's going to get. Brace yourself.

Also, a rare but powerful display of nature's fury in the streets of London. Look at this. We're going to get a closer look at the stunning devastation. Plus, high-protein diets and cancer. A new study with important news for all you carnivores out there. That's ahead on this AMERICAN MORNING.


M. O'BRIEN: Top stories we're following for you.

E. Coli now in five states. The newest cases in Delaware and Connecticut. At least 84 people infected, many of them eating at Taco Bells.

The beginning of the end for outgoing Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld. He'll hold his final town hall meeting at the Pentagon today before he leaves office next week.

About quarter past the hour. Let's check in with Chad Myers and get the forecast.

Hello, Chad.


NGUYEN: Well, cleanup is underway right now after a freak tornado just ripped through a London neighborhood. Six people were hurt and hundreds of people out of their homes because of the damage. CNN's Paula Newton is live in London with the latest. She joins us now.

Good morning.


You're right, the cleanup is underway. And, in fact, maybe as many as two dozen homes will be uninhabitable and they'll just have to be razed to the ground.

You know, we were sitting here in central London. It did get very dark. All around central London, many of us were forced to look outside. It was just so dark, Betty. It was not to be believed. But what happened in this London neighborhood really took everyone by surprise.


NEWTON, (voice over): It began with a clap of thunder that seemed to jolt the entire city. Then came rain and hail. But for this London neighborhood, mother nature was just getting started. Winds approaching 130 miles an hour and, finally, the tornado's signature. The funnel cloud.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It came fast. I was actually shrieking with shock because it sounded like a train going by and it like shook the walls.

NEWTON: This boy tried to outrun what he called a mass of black smoke.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And there were bricks were going everywhere. I could see things hitting the walls and I was trying to get out of the gate. And we got out, me and my friend, and we were running up and it was terrifying.

NEWTON: Patia Chadly's (ph) daughter had just awoken from a nap when she grabbed the baby. Moments later, bricks came flying through her windows, landing in the crib. Patia says she hit the floor and covered her daughter, who had just had been released from hospital with pneumonia. And then she prayed.

PATIA CHADLY: And I kept thinking, oh, God, please, I've just got her back. Don't take her back. Don't take her away from me again. I honestly thought we were going to die. Honestly. The house is a mess. There's no glass. There's no roof. Everything is blown up. Everything. It's just -- it's pure devastation in there. It's unbelievable.

NEWTON: Where it touched down, the twister showed little mercy. Rooms ripped open like the tops of tin cans, brick walls demolished an the bricks flying like bombs through homes. About 100 homes were affected and miraculously only one person was hurt seriously enough to go to hospital.

Some said it looked like something out of the "Wizard of Oz." This isn't Kansas. While gale-force winds are nothing new and a few dozen tornadoes do hit Britain every year, rarely has one hit London. This was a spectacle that seemed to drop right out of the sky.


NEWTON: Given really the ferocity of the winds, they were very lucky that, again, it was only six people were hurt. One was taken to hospital. Everyone got the fright of their lives, though. And as you can see right here, they are starting to clean up and really having to look at structural damage.

Most of the people that live in this neighborhood have had to spend the night away from their homes. It's affecting more than 300 people at this point. And, again, they're still shaking their heads thinking what in the heck happened? They really were not expecting it.

NGUYEN: Well, I think some of us are just shaking our heads just wondering, wow, 130 mile-per-hour winds, 100 homes damped and only one person was hurt bad enough to be sent to the hospital. Was there any kind of a warning system? Is that something that could really been attributed to the fact that there were no large numbers of people hurt in this?

NEWTON: No, not at all. Believe me. It came without warning and they don't have that kind of sophisticated warning system here at all. And although certainly in the United States we're used to it. And Britain does get its fair share of tornadoes. There isn't any kind of a warning system, Betty. And we had also reports of people who were on a British Airways flight above this tornado and they all were saying they felt like the plane was going to absolutely flight right out of the sky. So, as I said, unexpected even at air traffic control.

NGUYEN: Some lucky people there. Even though there is damage, very lucky to be alive.

Paula, thank you for that.

M. O'BRIEN: Medical news for you this morning. A surprising link between protein and cancer. And new study says those high-protein diets might increase the risk of cancer. Tests show that people on low-protein diets who exercise regularly have lower levels of certain hormones proven to raise the risk of pre-menopausal breast cancer, prostate cancer and colon cancer.

Coming up, that Hewlett-Packard corporate spying case finally comes to a close. Ali Velshi tells us how it ended in "Minding Your Business."

Also, a house that's going to need some improvements after a home delivery that went awry, you might say.

NGUYEN: Yes, slightly.

M. O'BRIEN: We'll tell you how this happened. They deliver for you, they say.

Plus, Nintendo issues a safety warning about its new Wii video game system. What parents need to know about one of the hottest holiday gifts if you're lucky enough to have it. Something to think about while you're in line waiting for it. Stay with us.


M. O'BRIEN: Happening in America.

A dramatic fire at an apartment building in Nashville sparked by a car crash. The fire raged on for two hours, but luckily most of the residents weren't home. One firefighter suffered some minor burns. The driver of the car took off on foot.

Indiana. Dangerous whiteout conditions trigger a major pileup in Markell (ph). Look at all the twisted metal there. A total of 30 cars and trucks smashed along Interstate 69. A few people hurt. The interstate closed for four hours while the mess was cleaned up.

In Georgia, talking about home delivery. Well, that's actually living room delivery.


M. O'BRIEN: A FedEx truck barrels into a house in Henry County. Quite a shot there. The driver parked the truck to deliver the package, apparently forgot the emergency brake. The truck started rolling right into the house. The homeowner was inside, saw the whole thing happen. No one was hurt.

NGUYEN: Well, that's a good thing. I guess she got her package, no doubt.

M. O'BRIEN: Yes, she got the package and a few more, looks like.

NGUYEN: Yes, a few more.

M. O'BRIEN: Yes.

NGUYEN: Well, in New York, a different kind of delivery to tell you about. A quick-thinking 11-year-old helped an aunt deliver her baby. Snyder Matelas (ph) is his name. He was getting ready for school when his aunt went into labor, but he kept calm and put to use some valuable lessons that he learned from a sixth grade pre-nursing class, believe it or not. He remembered to protect the baby's head and he even cut off the umbilical cord. Mother and baby are in the hospital, both healthy.

Meanwhile, in Chicago, a mid-air delivery. Officials at O'Hare International say a woman gave birth to a baby girl during a flight from Mexico late Wednesday night. Luckily there was an obstetrician onboard to help. Mom and baby, well, they're doing just fine this morning.

And in New York City, a computer lab instructor at La Guardia Community College is charged with taking bribes from students. Prosecutors say he promised good grades if students gave him money or even wine. He could get seven years in prison if convicted.

Check this out in Rhode Island. The tax man giving the candy man a break. Starting next month, candy made with flour, like licorice and Kit-Kat's, will be tax-free. The new state law doesn't consider food made with flour to be candy. Rhode Island made the change to bring its sales tax in line with other states.

M. O'BRIEN: Hewlett-Packard trying to put the spying scandal behind it. Ali Velshi is here "Minding Your Business."

Hello, Ali.

ALI VELSHI, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Good morning, Miles. And welcome to Betty.

HP, as you know, has been involved in this spying scandal for some time. Five people have been charged criminally. This doesn't effect them, but the company settled a lawsuit as it was filed. The attorney general filed a lawsuit related to this. HP settled it on the spot. $14.5 is what they paid in settlement. And of the $14.5 million, $13.5 million will go to fund state and local investigations into privacy invasions or intellectual privacy. HP got a lot of kudos from this. It didn't do badly on the stock market. We're expecting trading to open again this morning. But after hours training showed that investors didn't punish the company for it and the attorney general said it was a good move for cooperating.

Whirlpool is selling Hoover. Whirlpool acquired Hoover and other brands like Kitchen-Aid and Jenn Air when it merged with Maytag. It's now selling Hoover to a company based in Hong Kong, that also makes Dirt Devil and Milwaukee Power Tools, for $107 million. Whirlpool is also looking to sell its commercial microwave division, Amana, if anyone's looking to buy.

And stocks were down a little bit yesterday. Thirty-one points lower to 12,278. What we're expecting today at 8:30 eastern, just a couple hours from now, is a November jobs report. The unemployment rate at now at 4.4 percent. We're expecting it to go up to 4.5 percent. And, remember, next Tuesday the Fed decides on whether or not it's increasing interest rates or leaving them exactly where they are.


M. O'BRIEN: Thank you, Ali. What's next?

VELSHI: We're going to be talking about hybrid cars and whether they're worth the money.

M. O'BRIEN: Oh. Whether they're profitable or . . .

VELSHI: Well, Nissan says they're not profitable because people don't think they're worth the money. So I'm going to tell you about that.

M. O'BRIEN: Ah, there you go. Interesting. All right.

Thank you, Ali.

Up next, drastic measures. Taco Bell closes its doors in Delaware as an E. Coli outbreak spreads now to five states. We'll have the latest for you.

And on TV he showed us his passion for electronics. And via life he showed us tremendous courage. A special tribute to James Kim when AMERICAN MORNING continues.


M. O'BRIEN: An outbreak on the move. E. coli now cropping up in five states. Taco Bell closing more of its restaurants, facing its first lawsuit.

NGUYEN: New twist in the murder of that Russian spy. Radiation now reportedly turning up in former KGB agents, as well as a London hotel and workers there.

M. O'BRIEN: And Nintendo out with a warning about its hot, new video game. Why some gamers are saying, "We have a problem," on this AMERICAN MORNING.

Good morning to you. It is Friday, December 8th. I'm Miles O'Brien.

NGUYEN: Good morning, everybody. I'm Betty Nguyen, in for Soledad today.

M. O'BRIEN: That E. coli outbreak is widening, and so is the investigation. More than 80 people in five states now sick with the deadly bacteria, much of it linked to Taco Bell restaurants.

CNN's Alina Cho joining us here with more -- Alina.

ALINA CHO, CNN CORRESPONDENT: It is widening, Miles.

Yes, the latest Taco Bell has closed all 14 of its Delaware restaurants after another case of E. coli was confirmed in that state. Now, the first case was reported in New Jersey a little more than a week ago. That was back on November 29th.

Since then, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration says cases have been reported in New York, Pennsylvania, Connecticut and now Delaware. More than 80 people have gotten sick.

So what's the source? On Wednesday, Taco Bell pulled green onions from all of its 5,800 restaurants nationwide after lab tests showed that could be the source of the outbreak. But we should mention, health officials are testing several vegetables used in the restaurants just in case.

And in what could be the first of many lawsuits filed against the chain, the family of an 11-year-old boy in New York is speaking unspecified damages with the claim that eating a taco at Taco Bell, Miles, made him sick.

M. O'BRIEN: I suspect that will be the first of many.

CHO: Many.

M. O'BRIEN: Yes.

CHO: You're talking about more than 80 people sick, yes.

M. O'BRIEN: Once again, you know, a lot of people associated E. coli with meat. We've seen spinach and now green onions. Produce is a problem here.

CHO: It certainly is. You know, and the packaging was done in New Jersey. This -- these green onions were grown on a farm in California. They were distributed from a warehouse in New Jersey.

So they're still trying to pinpoint exactly where the green onions, if these are, in fact, the source of the outbreak, where these green onions were contaminated. So still a lot to sort out.

M. O'BRIEN: All right. Thank you, Alina Cho.

Next hour we're going to talk to one of the government investigators who's on the trail of this E. coli outbreak.

Happening this morning, many at the Pentagon getting their last chance to say good-bye to Defense Secretary Rumsfeld. He holds his final town hall meeting at the Pentagon this morning. He'll take some questions. Rumsfeld resigned the day after the midterm election. His official farewell ceremony is next week.

Also, a final White House meeting for some congressional leaders this morning. The president focusing on recommendations from the Iraq Study Group this week. So far, the president refusing to publicly embrace any of the 79 points, including the one for a phased withdrawal of U.S. troops from Iraq.

In Phoenix, police believe they've captured a serial killer. They say Mark Goudeau is the city's "Baseline Killer." Goudeau to be charged with nine counts of murder, five counts of sexual assault, 10 counts of kidnapping. The "Baseline Killer" so named because many of the crimes were along Baseline Road in Phoenix.

This morning, crews in New York will start tearing down the Deutsche Bank building, damaged in the 9/11 attacks five years ago. The 41-floor building which was near the twin towers is filled with toxic dust and the remains of 9/11 victims. It will come down in stages over the next year.

Just outside Bakersfield, California, firefighters now have that brushfire along Interstate 5 about 40 percent contained. It's burned 6,000 acres so far. The flames were sparked by a truck fire last night -- Betty.

NGUYEN: Miles, this is just such a heart-wrenching stories. Colleagues of 35-year-old James Kim are honoring his life by showing the world how they remember him. Kim died of hypothermia while trying desperately to get help to his wife and young daughters who were stranded in the Oregon wilderness.

Now, his co-workers at CNET posted a video tribute to Kim. CNET's tech editor is a father and a friend.


JAMES KIM, DIED OF HYPOTHERMIA: Hey, everybody. It's James Kim here, senior editor of MP3s at CNET. And I have with me the first look (ph) in my palm. To transfer tracks and other media to it, you're going to have to have this cable. So don't lose it.

This is a device that's designed for preschoolers, recommended ages 3 and up. It's a digital audio player, and my 3-year-old daughter actually approves of it. She picked it up and started using it and started having fun with it without any direction at all. In fact, she skipped the manual, just like her dad does.

I'm at the San Francisco Apple event, where we've seen the launch of three new iPods, including this one right here. This is the Apple iPod Shuffle. The second generation. As you can see, I'm wearing it.

This is the holiday edition...

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The holiday edition.

KIM: ... where we're reversed.


KIM: Not everything's reversed. I'm all still on this side.

It comes in four different colors, including this very beautiful Forever Princess version. My daughter really loves this one.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: James, your love of what you did here at CNET was contagious. We're glad we had the chance to enjoy your intelligence, your talent, and your joy in life. And to the Kim and Fleming families, we share your grief and send you our heartfelt condolences.

Rest in peace, James. You will be missed.


NGUYEN: That story really has touched a lot of people. Many of whom just didn't even know him but saw the heroics in what he did.

James Kim is survived by his wife Kati and their daughters, 4- year-old Penelope and 7-month-old Sabine.

M. O'BRIEN: A courageous hunt for help there.

If you've seen -- or if you've been outside this morning, chances are you already know bitter cold sweeping all across the country.

Chad Myers will be along next with the latest on the deep freeze. Better bundle up.

And Wii may have a problem. How the new video game, the hot one from Nintendo, might hurt you, or the person playing right next to you.

Stay with us.


NGUYEN: Here's a look at the top stories that we are following for you.

A new $37 million prison at Guantanamo Bay. The U.S. now moving terror suspects into that new facility.

And NASA hoping the weather will allow space shuttle Discovery to launch tomorrow. Bad weather scrapped last night's liftoff.

Well, it seemed like a good idea for two Rhode Island police officers, flash your badge, skip the Playstation line, right? Well, the two cops, one from Providence, one from Warwick, are under investigation now for allegedly using their influence to skip ahead of a long line of shoppers at a Providence mall to get a Playstation 3 the day that they went on sale.

Remember those lines? They were huge. Well, two security officers in charge of the line, they have since been fired -- Miles.

M. O'BRIEN: All right. You can't use that badge for that.

If you're among the thousands of people doing all you can to get your hands on a Nintendo Wii, you should know that once you get your hand on it, the hard part might keeping a grip on the thing.


M. O'BRIEN: I can't do the safety strap. That's a problem right there.

(voice over): Veteran gamers James Ransom Wiley (ph) and Chris Grant (ph) strapped me in for a Wii bit of fun.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: So what do you want to start with, tennis?

M. O'BRIEN (on camera): Tennis.

(voice over): The Wii controller is more like a magic wand. Wave it and your onscreen avatar mimics your motion. The problem is, it's easy to get caught up in the action.

Look what happens when we start boxing.

(on camera): Am I hitting you or are you hitting me?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He's hitting you.

M. O'BRIEN (voice over): The same thing happened to James' mom, and this controller bears the scar.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And my little cousin kind of bounced forward as my mom stepped forward.

M. O'BRIEN (on camera): And he goes forward?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes. And just, crack. You know?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And then the battery cover flips off and the batteries go flying.

M. O'BRIEN (voice over): In fact, Wii users are bombarded with a series of warnings to be careful. This one reminds players to tightly secure the wrist straps.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Nintendo maybe underestimated how much people were going to enjoy moving their arms, getting off the couch and really swinging their arms. And they may be doing it a little too much, a little too hard, and the engineering isn't holding up. M. O'BRIEN: Which is to say, the straps are breaking and the controllers are flying through windows, into ceiling fans, stereos, laptops, and even some expensive flat-screen TVs. The gory details documented on the Web site

Chris (ph) and James say the real trick is to tone down the body language. You see, the controllers are more sensitive than you think.

(on camera): Is this less fun?



UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The game doesn't have a lot of strategy in it. It's really about getting up and swinging your arms and stuff.

M. O'BRIEN (voice over): Besides, the experts disagree. We caught up with chiropractor Karen Erikson (ph) at the Toys 'R' Us store in Times Square.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: This is my advise. Use -- the game is intended to do standing up. Stand up and play the game standing up. Try to use your whole body when you do it rather than just your wrist.

M. O'BRIEN: She says the Wii is a winner because it will uproot some couch potatoes and get them moving.

Just take it easy, take frequent breaks, and stretch between rounds.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Oh! You took me out.

M. O'BRIEN (on camera): A knockout.


NGUYEN: You are so scary with this.

M. O'BRIEN: We -- yes, I am.

We repeatedly asked the folks at Nintendo to talk with us about the allegations of faulty straps. They've been unavailable all week.

Their president did hold a news conference in Japan yesterday where he said the company is investigating some of the problems, but has not made any decisions about any design changes. But as you can see here, if we can get a close-up of this, it's got this thick strap here. But what may be the flaw in it is it has this little thin wire, a little bit of, you know, almost threadlike.

NGUYEN: You could snap that right off.

M. O'BRIEN: Well, and that's -- that's what's been happening. So it will be interesting to see what Nintendo does. They may beef up that strap in the future. NGUYEN: Well, I don't think you should not do the full range of motion. That's the point.

M. O'BRIEN: It defeats the purpose.

NGUYEN: Right.

M. O'BRIEN: That is the point of the game.

NGUYEN: And I do get out of control with it, too. Full tennis swings.

M. O'BRIEN: The thing is, you know, you wouldn't go out and play four solid hours of tennis, real tennis.


M. O'BRIEN: But my 14-year-old boy would play four solid hours on this kind of tennis.

NGUYEN: Well, you've got to take a break. Sit on the couch.

M. O'BRIEN: You need a break. You need to take a break.

NGUYEN: Good stuff there, though.

Well, the time right now, 6:44 Eastern. Chad Myers is at the CNN weather center with the traveler's forecast.


M. O'BRIEN: Coming up, just in time for Christmas, it will cost you more to fill up your sleigh. Why do gas prices go up just when more people start hitting the road? Interesting coincidence.

Plus, a stunning new twist in the poisoning death of a former Russian spy, this time involving the employees of a London hotel.

The latest twist ahead on AMERICAN MORNING.


M. O'BRIEN: Let's take a look at the grid this morning, see what stories we are following for you here on CNN.

Lower right portion of your screen, at the White House today the president will have a meeting this morning with some of the outgoing leadership on the Republican side of Congress. The outgoing majority leader, Bill Frist, he's leaving the Senate entirely. The House speaker, Dennis Hastert, who still is in Congress but will obviously no longer be the House speaker because of the change in the balance of power in Congress.

A little later, the president will meet with South African president Thabo Mbeki. Incoming 12, that's NASA television. That's the space shuttle, still on the launch pad. It didn't get off the launch pad last night, bad weather.

The weather is horrible today at the Kennedy Space Center. They won't even try. The seven-member crew will suit up and try again tomorrow night, 8:46 p.m. Eastern Time for that second attempt for the launch of the space shuttle Discovery to the International Space Station.

There's Matthew Chance, incoming 14. He's in Moscow and he's about to tell us all about Alexander Litvinenko. A true-life story that reads like a spy novel -- Betty.

NGUYEN: In fact, we're going to be talking about that right now, Miles.

There are more twists and turns in this mysterious murder of that Russian spy. Two men close to the poisoned former spy are sick themselves, and employees of a London hotel are now testing positive for radiation.

CNN's Matthew Chance is in Moscow and he joins us live with the latest on this mystery, Matthew, that just seems to widen.

MATTHEW CHANCE, CNN SR. INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: It certainly does, Betty, and it doesn't seem that this investigation, which is involving at least nine British police officers here in the Russian capital, is actually making any progress at all in getting to the bottom of this at this stage.

What we know certainly is that two of the people who the British investigators want to -- want to question because they were with Mr. Litvinenko in London on the day on which he was poisoned, both of those individuals have now been confirmed by Russian authorities, at least, to have fallen ill with what appears to be radiation sickness as well. Certainly one of them, Dmitri Kovtun, apparently fell ill just after being questioned by the British team of investigators which is working alongside a Russian police team as well. The investigators have still to question the other witness, Andrei Lugovoi.

Again, both of these individuals were people who met with Alexander Litvinenko at the Millennium Hotel in central London. We're also hearing from there, as well, seven staff members from that hotel in Mayfair have also been -- been detected to be contaminated with that radioactive isotope, Polonium-210.

So this investigation is getting wider and wider, and ever more complicated as well given the announcement. The Russian authorities have also launched their own murder investigation, and an investigation into attempted murder now that these witnesses are falling ill.

NGUYEN: Matthew, talking about complications, you've got the British investigation, you've got the Russian investigation. Is it causing, I guess, a strain between Russia and the U.K. when it comes to their relations?

CHANCE: I think there's already been strains emerged between these two countries over the past several weeks as this issue has been really bandied around in the British press. There have been accusations being thrown that the Kremlin is involved. Those accusations, of course, coming primarily from Alexander Litvinenko himself, who issued that accusation from his death bed.

But there's also been a lot of reporting, a lot of government ministers, as well, in Britain sort of making the suggestion that there may be some kind of official involvement. That's very much angered the Russian authorities. They deny any knowledge of this, saying it's sheer nonsense that they would have been involved in anything like this. They said that in itself has placed a strain on relations.

NGUYEN: Indeed.

CNN's Matthew Chance joining us live from London.

Thank you, Matthew -- Miles.

M. O'BRIEN: Coming up, a car maker executive putting a damper on the hybrid hype. Ali Velshi will explain that, "Minding Your Business".

Plus, Britney Spears sings the praises of Victoria's Secret and responds to those revealing photos of her out on the town with Paris Hilton.

Stay with us for that. (COMMERCIAL BREAK)

M. O'BRIEN: Well, every car maker, it seems, wants to get into the hybrid market, right? Hybrid market, that is. But is it worth it?

Ali Velshi here "Minding Your Business".

ALI VELSHI, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Unclear if it's worth it from a financial perspective. It may be worth it to you if you're burning less gas and you think this is the way to the future. They are popular, particularly these Toyota Priuses, which have been the big sellers.

M. O'BRIEN: Those are Prii (ph).

VELSHI: Prii (ph), I guess, if you buy a lot of them.

Nissan, which is a particularly successful automaker, a senior Nissan executive in North America has come out and said that, look, it's not worth it. People don't want to pay up for a hybrid car.

Now, about one percent of the market in the United States is hybrid electric vehicles. You know, they run on electricity, and -- like a battery and gas, so they use less gas. The premium that you pay for it doesn't seem to make up for -- it isn't made up for by the gas you save.

I did a calculation when gas was about $3 a gallon. It you're a very busy, active driver, at $3 a gallon it might pay for it. Now with these lower prices, they don't.

There's a federal tax credit of $3,600 a car, up until the first 60,000 cars that a particular maker produces. So Toyota has blown buy that. So now you buy a Toyota Prius...

NGUYEN: You're not gong to get the credit.

VELSHI: You're not getting it back.

NGUYEN: Got you.

VELSHI: That said, Nissan is building its first hybrid sedan, the Altima, starting on Monday. And you're going to start to be able to buy that in January.

M. O'BRIEN: Why were they slow to enter this market?

VELSHI: You know, Nissan has been -- It's run itself very well. And I think what they figured is they don't want to invest what it takes to start in this business if they don't think it's going to catch on.

I suppose the fact is it's caught on. One percent seems small, but people are buying them. So they don't want to be left behind. But I don't think they think it's the end game.

M. O'BRIEN: Interesting.

NGUYEN: And coming up, we're gong to be talking a little bit about diamonds?

VELSHI: More about diamonds. This time, where you can buy them without hurting your conscience.

NGUYEN: All right.

M. O'BRIEN: All right. Ali Velshi, thank you.


NGUYEN: Well, here are some of the top stories on this morning.


NGUYEN (voice over): A deep freeze in the Deep South. After a hard freeze overnight, parts of Mississippi, Alabama and the Florida Panhandle can expect a repeat. Citrus growers and other farmers are warned to protect their crops again tonight.

A new chewable birth control pill is making its debut at pharmacies all across the country. The tiny spearmint-flavored pill has the same hormones as standard oral contraceptives. It's called Fimcom FE (ph) and runs $44 wholesale.

Britney Spears is speaking out for the first time since those R- rated shots showing her without underwear were splashed all over the Web. The singer writes on her Web site that she hasn't celebrated her birthday in two years. Her birthday was last weekend. She partied with Paris Hilton.

She also jokes, "Thank God for Victoria's Secret's new underwear line," and says she looks forward to a new year, new music, and a new Britney.

For more on these stories, log on to our Web site,

The next hour of AMERICAN MORNING begins right now


M. O'BRIEN: Outbreak unleashed. New this morning, E. coli bacteria now in at least five states. Taco Bell closing more restaurants and facing its first lawsuit from parents of a sick child.

NGUYEN: Remembering the heroic efforts of James Kim. A tribute to the father who died trying to save his family in the Oregon wilderness as autopsy results are released.

M. O'BRIEN: Swan song. Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld says good-bye to the troops at the Pentagon today. Will he show any regret for the war in Iraq?

NGUYEN: And the White House gone to the dogs? A holiday tradition, that is. It lives on today. Barney Cam, Miles' favorite, 2006. The new video just coming in on this AMERICAN MORNING.

M. O'BRIEN: Good morning to you, Friday, December 8th.

I'm Miles O'Brien.

NGUYEN: And I'm Betty Nguyen, in for Soledad today.

M. O'BRIEN: We begin with growing fears and a widening investigation into that E. coli outbreak linked to Taco Bell restaurants. More than 80 people now sickened by the deadly bacteria in five states.