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American Morning

Code Blue Emergency for Walter Reed; Atlanta Bus Crash: What Went Wrong?; Timely Warning: Early Move to Daylight Saving Time

Aired March 05, 2007 - 06:00   ET


SOLEDAD O'BRIEN, CNN ANCHOR: Market slumps. Stocks plunge again in China and Japan overnight. Can Wall Street avoid its own nose dive today?
MILES O'BRIEN, CNN ANCHOR: War wounds. Congress set to grill military commanders today about conditions at Walter Reed. And more heads could roll.

S. O'BRIEN: Exit alarm. Disturbing new information about that off-ramp bus crash that killed four college baseball players.

M. O'BRIEN: And a showdown in Selma. Surprise comments from Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama in a city forever tied to the civil rights struggle.

We're live from Washington, New York and Atlanta often this AMERICAN MORNING.

S. O'BRIEN: And good morning, everybody and welcome. It is Monday, March 5th. I'm Soledad O'Brien.

M. O'BRIEN: I'm Miles O'Brien. We're glad you're with us.

S. O'BRIEN: We begin in Afghanistan this morning and the fallout from a NATO air strike that killed at least eight. An Afghan official says the militants fired on a NATO base just north of Kabul overnight. This morning, Afghan President Hamid Karzai is speaking out. CNN's Nic Robertson is live for us in Kabul.

Nic, good morning.


The Afghan president condemned the incident yesterday near Jalalabad Airport in the eastern Afghan. That's when a U.S. military convoy was attacked by a suicide bomber driving a vehicle. One soldier was injured, treated at a base. But it was part of a complex ambush . . .

S. O'BRIEN: All right. Obviously we're having some satellite problems there with Nic Robertson. We're going to get back to him in just a little bit. He was updating us exactly on the implications and the fallout now in the wake of that air strike by NATO forces in which eight people were killed.

Miles. M. O'BRIEN: Let's focus on Washington for a moment. Congress goes to the scene of the crime, as it were, opening hearings at Walter Reed Army Medical Center. Commanders will be called to account for conditions in building 18, an outpatient dorm. Vets staying there complained about mice and cockroaches, walls covered in mold.

Some heads have already rolled at Walter Reed, as you know by now. The hospital's commander, Major General George Weightman fired after six months on the job last week. The Army's secretary, Francis Harvey, resigned, partly for trying to bring Walter Reed's former commander, Lieutenant General Kevin Kiley, to replace Weightman. And now Major General Eric Schoomaker will take over at Walter Reed.

Full coverage this morning with Pentagon correspondent Barbara Starr and AMERICAN MORNING's Bob Franken, live outside Walter Reed where the hearings will begin today. Let's begin at the Pentagon with Barbara.

Barb, just give us a preview.

BARBARA STARR, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Miles, I have to tell you, Army officials looking ahead to today are already telling us they expect this day, in the words of one official, to be very ugly, very personal. They are prepared to face a very contentious hearing later this morning at Walter Reed ,as you say. All of them to be called into account. How this could have happened after so many months, after so many promises of the best medical care for America's wounded troops.

General Weightman, the former commander, and Lieutenant General Kiley, the man who was commander before Weightman was fired, are both expected to testify. And in the cross-hairs, Miles, will be General Kiley because many of these problems clearly arose while he was commander at Walter Reed.


M. O'BRIEN: So heads may roll again. Who might they be?

STARR: Well, I think that most people do feel that Kiley is truly in the cross-hairs at the moment. He knows it. People have spoken to him. We have not. He's not talking to reporters. But he knows he is facing a day of very tough questions. He does expect, we are told, some personal attacks. There may be very public calls for his resignation. And this will be extraordinary. He is a three-star general. A respected commander up until this point.

But the question will be, Miles, how could all of these problems arisen? They didn't happen overnight. It built up over months. And how could nobody in the Army, up until a few weeks ago, have really noticed it?


M. O'BRIEN: Barbara Starr at the Pentagon, thank you. The president has promised a commission to investigate the situation at Walter Reed. AMERICAN MORNING'S Bob Franken will be looking at past commissions and just what gets done. The issue of follow-up a little later on the program.


We were talking about those NATO air strikes. Let's get right back to Nic Robertson. It looks as if we've reconnected our satellite.

Hey, Nic, good morning. Can you hear me?

ROBERTSON: Hey, Soledad. I hear you loud and clear.

I was just talking about a suicide car bomb that approached and detonated. A convoy of U.S. solders yesterday. Following that, a complex ambush. The soldiers fired upon from a number of directions with small arms fire. They returned gunfire.

But after the gunfire ended, a number of Afghan civilians were killed. Eight civilians according to U.S. military, 10 civilians according to the Afghan officials here, killed in that. A number of wounded taken away to local hospitals.

And that's what caused President Hamid Karzai today to condemn the incident. But he didn't say who he apportioned blame to. U.S. military officials here have said that the Taliban, who they believe are responsible for the attack, knew that they were attacking this convoy in a civilian neighborhood, knew that by doing that that would risk the possibility of civilian casualties and they very clearly blame the Taliban for this incident. Also it pains (ph) to point out, they try to avoid whenever possible any civilian casualties.


S. O'BRIEN: So now there's an investigation trying to determine if, in fact, they were targeting civilians or what happens next, Nic?

ROBERTSON: Well, there will be both a U.S. military investigation and an Afghan investigation. And they'll both look at why the incident happened and very likely try and draw conclusions to avoid this happening in the future.

Why is this critical to the Afghan government? Why is it critical to NATO and the U.S. military here? Because what they don't want to do is to drive people into the arms of the Taliban. If Afghan civilians die, the Taliban, they believe, will capitalize that in a publicity campaign and try and win support. And at this time it is all about the government here taking control of the country and stopping the Taliban encroaching into areas as they have been and as everyone expects them to make a big effort to do as spring comes in here.


S. O'BRIEN: Nic Robertson is in Kabul, Afghanistan, for us this morning.

Nic, thank you.

Outside Atlanta, federal investigators say they're going to recommend changes to that exit ramp where that charter bus crashed early on Friday. For now, though, the ramps open and those who survived the crash are coming back to Ohio.


S. O'BRIEN, (voice over): Bluffton University baseball players and their parents returning home on Sunday from Atlanta where four teammates died in a bus crash on Friday. John Betts lost his son David, a sophomore. He came back to Ohio wearing David's Bluffton baseball cap.

JOHN BETTS, SON DIED IN BUS CRASH: He died doing what he loved and who he enjoyed being with. And I think that's a very important part for us as a family to know that he was very, very happy in the last moments and seconds of his life.

S. O'BRIEN: Three of David's teammates died too, freshmans Cody Holp and Scott Harmon, and Sophomore Tyler Williams. The bus driver and his wife, Jerome and Jean Niemeyer, were also killed.

Crash investigators believe the driver mistook an exit ramp for the regular HOV lane on I-75. The charter bus apparently failed to stop at the top of the ramp, careening across the intersection before plunging on to the interstate below. Twenty-nine passengers were injured in the crash. Several remain in Atlanta hospitals, including the team's coach, James Grandey.

JIM GRANDEY, FATHER OF BLUFFTON BASEBALL COACH: About all he remembers, he remembers sitting -- what he called was on the median. It might have been the berm of the road up against some concrete, looking at the bus on its side and thinking, my goodness we must have fallen off.

S. O'BRIEN: Federal investigators are now looking closely at this highway interchange that has seen more than 80 accidents in the past decade.

KITTY HIGGINS, NTSB: I personally believe we should be talking to the state of Georgia to see whether there is any sort of interim step. Not necessarily a recommendation coming from us, but is there something that the state of Georgia could do to recognize that it shouldn't be business as usual at that intersection.


S. O'BRIEN: So is the state of Georgia going to make changes? We talk with a spokesman for the State Department of Transportation coming up in our 8:00 Eastern hour this morning.

Miles. M. O'BRIEN: Brace yourself for another wild ride on Wall Street today. The trading day is over along the Pacific Rim and there's more red ink on the pavement. In Tokyo, the exchange dropped more than 3 percent. Hong Kong, the Hang Seng down 4 percent. Shanghai, which tripped the sell-off last week, another 2 percent in red ink.

In Europe, they're in the middle of their trading day. The German and British exchanges are tanking as well. More on what's ahead for Wall Street when we "Mind Your Business" in just a few minutes.


S. O'BRIEN: NAACP president, Bruce Gordon, is stepping down. He's been in charge only for 19 months. Gordon says the cause is growing strain with the board members over the NAACP's management and future operations. A search is now underway for a replacement.

The fight for black votes in a showdown in Selma, Alabama, on Sunday. Senators Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama marched together, along with former President Bill Clinton and civil rights leaders, marking the anniversary of Bloody Sunday. That, of course, is the violent civil rights march that eventually led to the Voting Rights Act. Earlier in the day, Obama and Clinton spoke at separate sites just a few hundred feet from each other. Listen.


SEN. BARACK OBAMA, (D) PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: So don't tell me I don't have a claim on Selma, Alabama. Don't tell me I'm not coming home when I come to Selma, Alabama. I'm here because somebody marched for our freedom. I'm here because ya'll sacrificed for me. I stand on the shoulders of that (ph).

SEN. HILLARY CLINTON, (D) PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Well, I'm here to tell you poverty and growing inequality matters. Health care matters. The people of the Gulf Coast and New Orleans matter. Our soldiers matter. Our standing in the world matters. Our future matters. And it is up to us to take it back.


S. O'BRIEN: African-American voters could play a key role in choosing the Democratic presidential nominee. Clinton and Obama are neck-in-neck in the most recent polls of black Democrats.

Two new polls on a Republican presidential candidate race. Former Massachusetts Mitt Romney won a straw poll over the weekend. It was taken at a meeting of the conservative political action congress. Romney's 21 percent is four points ahead of former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani, followed by Senator Sam Brownback and then former House Speaker Newt Gingrich, and Senator John McCain, who did not attend the conference. A "Newsweek" poll of registered Republicans has Giuliani with a huge lead over McCain or Romney in any kind of theoretical head-to-head contest. And Andrew Giuliani, Rudy's 21-year-old son, says their relationship is strained. There he is playing gulf. It's the result, he says, of Rudy's divorce from Andrew's mother, Donna Hanover, and his marriage to Judith Nathan. You'll remember back in 1994 - here was Andrew at his side, at his dad's side during the mayoral inauguration. Andrew's now a sophomore at Duke. He says his dad would make a good president, but he's not going to be campaigning for him. Andrew says he's to busy with golf. He's pursuing a career as a golf pro.

M. O'BRIEN: More arctic air on its way once again to parts of the nation. Chad Myers will explain up next.

Also, what can be learned from last week's devastating tornados in Alabama? We're taking a lock from above with the man who issued the tornado warnings that afternoon.

And, sure, it sounds like a good idea. But is there a dark side to an extra hour of daylight this early in the year? We'll explain ahead on AMERICAN MORNING.

The most news in the morning is right here on CNN.


M. O'BRIEN: In Enterprise, Alabama, this morning, the schools will not be open. In fact, they will remain closed for the week while folks in that city try to pick themselves back up after that killer tornado last week. The experts will be poring over the data and the wreckage, trying to learn what they can do to make forecasts better in the future. On Friday, I flew over the wreckage as one meteorologist got a firsthand look at the aftermath of the storm he first saw on his radar screen on Thursday afternoon.


M. O'BRIEN, (voice over): Flying low and slow over Enterprise, Alabama.

BOB GOREE, NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE: Yes, there's home damage a person received.

M. O'BRIEN: We were joined by the man who 24 hours earlier issued the tornado warning for Enterprise. Bob Goree is a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Tallahassee.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: There's the high school. I said that is definitely the ground zero of this event.

GOREE: Yes, it's humbling to see the power of these tornados, these major tornadic thunderstorms. And then finally when that vortex hits the ground and structures and other entities get in the way. And to see that damage is just amazing.

M. O'BRIEN: What he saw surprised him. The area damaged much smaller than expected for a tornado this strong. GOREE: And it was still apparently having a difficult time bringing all that tornado circulation down to the surface, because with the strength of the storm, we would have suspected it would have stayed on the ground a little bit longer. But we're glad it didn't.

M. O'BRIEN: Goree issued a tornado warning about 20 minutes before the tornado hit Enterprise High School. The third warning that day. He says the latest Doppler radars allow meteorologists to see tornados in the making sooner than ever, but there are limits to the technology.

Of course the sad fact here is, just (INAUDIBLE) and people dying.

GOREE: That's the continued challenge. We'll never be perfect when it comes to safety, and especially with mother nature or even other hazards that we run into. We have to accept that sometimes we're dealt a cruel blow and people suffer the consequences.


M. O'BRIEN: So the question remains this morning, should the principal of Enterprise High School sent those kids home earlier in the day? The problem is, every time they tried to do that, another warning was issued. And, of course, they all assumed the interior hallway of that school was a safe place for those kids to be. So maybe the real question is, should we have safe rooms set up in these high schools as they do in some parts of the country?

S. O'BRIEN: Absolutely, yes. I mean, if they could possibly do it. And, of course, with the time -- you know, easy to look back in hindsight as we go over mistakes that were made.

M. O'BRIEN: Of course. Yes.

S. O'BRIEN: It is quarter past the hour. That means time for Chad Myers at the CNN Weather Center.

Hey, Chad, good morning.


S. O'BRIEN: Coming up this morning, the Asian markets plunge overnight. What does it mean for Wall Street today? We're "Minding Your Business" straight ahead.

And the United States and North Korea sit down for a historic one-on-one today. We'll tell you if any breakthroughs are expected.

Those stories straight ahead on AMERICAN MORNING. Stay with us.


S. O'BRIEN: Welcome back to the most news in the morning.

A few would have predicted when North Korea tested its first nuclear device four months ago that North Korea and the U.S. would be sitting down today for one-on-one talks. Senior U.S. correspondent Richard Roth joins us this morning.

Richard, good morning.


Well, you've heard of those six-party talks. Because of agreement there, it's led to two-party talks. Face-to-face, North Korea and the U.S. today.


ROTH, (voice over): The last time North Korean diplomats were on the sidewalks of New York . . .

PAK GIL YON, NORTH KOREAN AMBASSADOR TO U.N.: I said sanctions will not solve the problems at all. OK, OK, please do not block my way.

ROTH: North Korea had just tested a nuclear device.

GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: North Korea is a regime arming with missiles and weapons of mass destruction while starving its citizens.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's very ironic that we are where we are now.

ROTH: Today, both sides are changing tunes and sitting down to talk.

DARYL KIMBALL, ARMS CONTROL ASSOCIATION: Both sides recognize that the situation was worsening. The only option was to really bargain with one another.

ROTH: The goal of these new talks, as farfetched as it once sounded, normalizing relations with a recent multi-nation agreement negotiated by China, the U.S. appears more willing to deal, or forced to deal, given failures abroad, especially in Iraq. Election losses. The Democrats advocate more dialogue, even with dictators. And the departure of hard-liners on North Korea.

JOHN BOLTON, FORMER U.S. AMBASSADOR TO U.N.: I don't see any real utility to these talks. I think that they simply help legitimize North Korea. I don't think there's any chance that North Korea will voluntarily give up its nuclear weapons.

ROTH: But today's Bush administration seems convinced, unlike with Iran and Syria, Kim Jong-il, though unreliable and unpredictable, has made serious overtures worth exploring.

CONDOLEEZZA RICE, SECRETARY OF STATE: Diplomacy is a matter of just talking. It is a matter of getting results. And when you sit down to talk, I think you want to have some belief that you can get results. (END VIDEOTAPE)

ROTH: Now, a State Department spokesman has already warned, don't expect anyone to run out of the room with a peace agreement.


S. O'BRIEN: Yes, lowering expectations as they say.

So two days of talks. Who are the people doing the talking?

ROTH: Chris Hill, the U.S. assistant secretary of state. Well versed at U.S./North Korean dialog. And a North Korean minister. Maybe South Korea will join in too. Some talking today and a get reacquainted dinner tonight.

S. O'BRIEN: So if they're not going to come out with a peace agreement, what do they expect they might come out with?

ROTH: Well, what's important for the U.S. is to test North Korea here, because the agreement worked out last month, a series of steps, North Korea must shut down its nuclear reactor in this tight 60-day window and then you go from there.

S. O'BRIEN: All right. We'll see how it goes. Richard Roth, thanks, as always.


M. O'BRIEN: Brace yourself. It could be a wild ride on Wall Street. Once again, they're seeing red in the Pacific and the European exchanges are doing more of the same. Stephanie Elam joining us with a look at the markets and what's ahead.

Could be troubling, huh?

STEPHANIE ELAM, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Could be a little bit of trouble, Miles.

And this is not so much of a surprise here when you see what's happening with this sort of instability since last week when we saw the sell-off in China. Well we saw today that the Tokyo markets also had a sell-off, dropping about 3 percent. Futures so far this morning for the U.S. markets looking for a down start as well.

But this drop in Tokyo is in line with the other east Asian markets, mainly in China. Now part of the issue there is that the yen is appreciating. That means the yen is getting stronger. And so because of that, investors are selling off their stocks. And that's keeping investors at bay because they just like don't really want to get in there right now. So that's part of the issue that we've seen there.

Now let's move on and take a look at Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke. He had some comments while speaking at Stanford University. He was talking a bit about globalization and he said it may boost U.S. inflation. And he points to recent increases in energy, as well as commodity in some developing markets, such as China, as well as India, and that's pushed up prices there.

Taking a look at the markets overall last week. We saw the Dow drop off 4.2 percent. It was the toughest week on Wall Street since 2003. The ride may not be over because there's nothing really big coming out until Friday. So no big anchors to tell us what's going to happen, but look for a weak start today.


M. O'BRIEN: All right. We'll be watching.

Thank you, Stephanie.

Top stories of the morning coming up next.

Congress looks for answers today about conditions at Walter Reed Army Hospital. Once again President Bush calls for a commission. A look at past commissions and the follow-up. We'll hold him accountable for that.

Also, as families mourn, questions remain. Could a deadly bus crash have been prevented. New scrutiny today of highway exit ramp safety.

And is DST the new Y2K. Moving up. Spring forward brings new worries for computers that run your life. We'll explain if everything's going to melt down this next weekend, ahead on AMERICAN MORNING.

The most news in the morning right here.


S. O'BRIEN: Welcome back to the most news in the morning. It is Monday, March 5th. I'm Soledad O'Brien.

M. O'BRIEN: And I'm Miles O'Brien.

S. O'BRIEN: Here's some breaking news we're watching for you this morning.

Out of Iraq, another massive explosion to tell you about in Baghdad. More than two dozen people already reported killed.

M. O'BRIEN: Also, in the next couple of hours, Congress will grill commanders about conditions at Walter Reed Hospital. We have our Bob Franken looking into President Bush's crisis management. As he has done in the past, he is appointing a commission to look into all of this. We will look back on previous commissions on other subjects and see how they have done.

S. O'BRIEN: And the feds say there should be better warnings on that interstate exit ramp where a bus carrying the Bluffton University baseball team crashed. We're taking a look at other dangerous exits, too, tell you how you can protect yourself as you hit the road this morning.

M. O'BRIEN: Plus, Y2K 2.0? Chris Lawrence will show us how this weekend's change in Daylight Saving Time is confusing everything from your Blackberry to your bank account. Happening early this year.

S. O'BRIEN: Oh, we don't want to revisit that again.

M. O'BRIEN: No. It was kind of a dud, though. Wasn't it? Well, hopefully this will be a dud.

S. O'BRIEN: No. Let's hope it's a dud this time around, too.

All those stories, much more on those straight ahead.

This morning we start, though, with a closer look at Walter Reed Army Medical Center. Commanders there are going to called to account for conditions in building 18, an outpatient dorm with mice and cockroaches, full of mold. President Bush is calling for a commission to give Walter Reed a thorough review.

AMERICAN MORNING'S Bob Franken is outside of Walter Reed this morning with a look at the president's past calls for commissions and how those went.

Bob, good morning.


You'll remember that Andy Warhol called Washington Hollywood East. And, you know, there are some similarities.


FRANKEN (voice over): When politicians and other celebrities get into trouble, they often go into rehab. But just as often, when there's scandal in Washington, like the one at Walter Reed hospital, someone calls for a commission.

GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I'm announcing that my administration is creating a bipartisan presidential commission.

FRANKEN: The president's announcement Saturday didn't stop one Democrat from having his own novel idea Sunday.

SEN. CHARLES SCHUMER (D), NEW YORK: ... an independent commission to look at all of the outpatient facilities throughout the country.

FRANKEN: We can't seem to have too many commissions. Or can we?

SEN. TRENT LOTT (R), MISSISSIPPI: Let's don't pass the buck where a study is done, three months, six months, and they come back and it will wind up at somebody's door.

FRANKEN: Former congressman Lee Hamilton knows commissions. He's been co-chairman of both the 9/11 Commission and the Iraq Study Group.

LEE HAMILTON, DIRECTOR, WOODROW WILSON CENTER: The value of commissions sometimes can be hugely important in the public policy debate. Other times they're just totally ignored.

FRANKEN: Or followed selectively.

When the Iraq Study Group said it would not oppose a short-term redeployment of U.S. troops, President Bush ordered his so-called surge. And sometimes things don't happen right away. Take the study group's recommendation to hold diplomatic talks with Iran and Syria. No way, said the administration. Well, guess's who attending some regional meetings with the U.S.?

CONDOLEEZZA RICE, SECRETARY OF STATE: The Iraqi government has invited all of its neighbors, including Syria and Iran, to attend both of these regional meetings.

HAMILTON: Well, the political heat can be very strong on a policymaker.

FRANKEN: Which means some commissions just can't be ignored, like a 9/11 Commission or a base closing commission. But when it comes to commissions, Lee Hamilton is one of the kings.

HAMILTON: Well, I'm serving on a new commission. And the commission is on the war powers.


FRANKEN: Which means, Soledad, that for the foreseeable future, Lee Hamilton, like Washington, will not be out of commission.

S. O'BRIEN: Bob Franken for us this morning at Walter Reed Medical Center.

Thanks, Bob -- Miles.

M. O'BRIEN: A closer look this morning at that horrible bus crash in Atlanta. Were there signs of trouble at that freeway exit?

It appears the bus driver mistook an exit ramp for the regular high occupancy vehicle lane on Interstate 75. The bus hurdled up that ramp, blew through a stop sign and then drove off the edge of a bridge. Six were killed, 29 passengers injured in that crash.

Let's take a look at a driver's point of view look at that. Let's drive up that interstate. I want to take a look.

John (ph), freeze it right there for just a moment if you could.

All right. Now, take a look. This is very interesting right here.

You'll notice here there is an arrow pointing to the left, but there's not a yellow rectangular box saying "left exit" or "exit only". That, according to the federal rules, is something that should be there.

Let's move a little bit further up the ramp here. It wouldn't take long if you're traveling 60 or 70 miles an hour.

All right. Let's stop here one more time if we could.

Once again, look at the exit sign there. It doesn't make it entirely clear that it is a left exit only type of scenario. It does show that it has that high occupancy vehicle lane there. And you could, I suppose, draw the conclusion that that little arrow or that little diamond is leading you on the HOV lane.

And one more time, John (ph), let's go up to the end of the ramp if we could, John, and move the tape forward.

And as you go up, look at the pavement below, and what you'll see is, first of all, two signs there indicating stop signs. We just kind of blew by that.

Go ahead a little further.

It says "stop" ahead there. And then, of course, the two stop signs right at the top there.

So, it's a mix of confusing signs and very clear signs. Either way, it's a very confusing intersection, if nothing else, because it's an unusual intersection.

So, what are the rules on how it should be designed and what the signage should look like?

AMERICAN MORNING'S Greg Hunter joining us from a busy interchange on D.C.'s beltway with more on that.

Greg, good morning.


Well, I'm at a place called the Mixing Bowl. It's here in Maryland. And behind me, if you take a look at the Mixing Bowl here, it is -- you can see why they call it the Mixing Bowl. It's where 395, 95 and 495 all -- all combine and meet each other here and in Maryland -- in Virginia, sorry.

So, what this is a place where it's the most congested, it's the most accident-prone area, one of the most accident-prone areas in the Washington, D.C., area.

Now, imagine if this is -- a half-million cars a day pass through here, mostly people who are from here. Now, imagine what it would be like if you passed through here for the very first time.

Well, we talked to a transportation expert, Fred Hanscomb (ph). He talked about people drive under driver expectation. Drivers expect certain things. For example, drivers expect to exit on the right-hand side of the road. Now, that busload of kids, the driver was exiting on the left- hand side of the road. That violates driver expectation.

So one of the things you absolutely have to have is a rectangular sign that you mentioned earlier that said "left exit," which should be yellow with black lettering. That's number one.

Number two, HOV lanes. Those people were exiting left and they were in an HOV lane. HOV lanes need to be very distinctly marked, and those lanes should have either an arrow pointing down saying "HOV," high occupancy vehicle, or they should have diamonds or both. And we found more than a dozen ways to legitimately and uniformly mark HOV lanes.

And finally, the last thing is the sign should look the same, the same shape and the same color, day or night, whether your headlights hit it or whether sunlight hits it. So, there are certain rules of the road. Even though left-hand exits violate driver expectation, HOV lanes in the area they were isn't what they really expected to do. There are certain things that the state has to do, signage on the roads that actually marks uniformly these unusual situations -- Miles.

M. O'BRIEN: Well, Greg, let's talk about the actual design of the exit. We've been talking about the signage.

Are there rules on, say, the length of the exit ramp, that kind of thing?

HUNTER: Well, no, there are no rules on the length of the exit ramp at all. I mean, here in Springfield, Virginia, where I'm standing here now, they have exit on-ramps and all kinds of things. And it's -- what dictates an exit ramp is how much right of way, how fast the traffic is going, whether it's a left or right-hand exit, that's what dictates the exit ramp.

And so, the long and the short of it is there are no real rules on exit ramps, how long they should be, but there are rules on how they should be marked, whether left or right. You know, the bright yellow signage, the HOV lanes have to be marked in a certain specific way. And by the way it looks on that tape, doesn't look like -- it looks like it could be marked better. It certainly looks like it could be marked better -- Miles.

M. O'BRIEN: I have driven that intersection, and it is confusing.

Thank you very much, Greg Hunter.

Federal investigators say they'll recommend changes to the exit ramp off of I-75 in Atlanta. Coming up, we're going to ask the state's Department of Transportation if all of that is warranted. They have said that that exit met or exceeded federal safety regulations.

We'll try to sort that out for you -- Soledad. (NEWSBREAK)


S. O'BRIEN: The most news in the morning is right here on CNN.

Asia is seeing down arrows for a second straight week. Markets all across the Pacific Rim, including Tokyo and Shanghai, are posting losses overnight.

Plus, a major explosion in Baghdad to tell you about. At least 26 people killed in a car bombing in a busy commercial area this morning -- Miles.

M. O'BRIEN: This Sunday we spring forward. If it seems early it is, three weeks earlier, to be precise, and it could cause all kinds of havoc to the computers that rule our lives. It sounds a little like Y2K, doesn't it? Well, maybe. Let's hope so, since that was a bit of a dud in the end.

AMERICAN MORNING'S Chris Lawrence, he's here in person from the West Coast.

Talk about time change issues.


M. O'BRIEN: Chris, good to see you this morning.

LAWRENCE: Good to see you, Miles.

You know, when you look at this thing, you know, it's going to be more of an inconvenience than any kind of catastrophe. When you look at the time changing and things like that, it's going to affect our lives in a lot of different ways.

So, if you're rushing home from work and you're trying to squeeze in an extra hour of daylight, not much of a bad side. But it could affect our lives in a lot of little ways, and that's why companies are spending hundreds of millions of dollars to try to correct their computers.


LAWRENCE (voice over): The idea is simple enough. An extra hour of daylight to run, ride and play.

(on camera): It all sounds good, but where specifically could we see the problems?

PROF. LEONARD KLEINROCK, UCLA: We're going to see problems in airline reservation systems going down at the wrong time, in money transfer.

LAWRENCE: Moving up the spring forward date could meet confusion for anything made to adjust on the old Daylight Saving Time switch in April. Starting this Sunday, Professor Leonard Kleinrock says your computer could be off an hour. Microsoft and Apple are issuing updates to newer operating systems. Folks using older systems may have to figure it out them themselves.

KLEINROCK: Being off by an hour can be very significant.

LAWRENCE: Even the most sophisticated technology can get tripped up by a time change. Six of America's newest fighter jet, the Raptor, recently lost navigation and communication over the Pacific Ocean.

MAJ. GEN. DON SHEPPARD, CNN MILITARY ANALYST: They crossed the international dateline and all systems dumped. An airborne Y2K.

LAWRENCE: CNN military analyst Don Sheppard says a single computer glitch didn't account for the international dateline and left America's most advanced fighting machines deaf, dumb and blind.

SHEPPARD: Basically, a computer programmer missed some lines of computer code. It was an airborne Y2K which affected all of the computer systems on the airplane, the same thing that may happen on our hard-wired and our laptop computers having to do with Daylight Saving Time.

LAWRENCE: Does this sound familiar? A similar glitch in the year 2000 was supposed to bring down civilization as we know it. A lot of travelers were too afraid to fly. But the Y2K bug never truly bit. Some programmers got extra work, and the fearful emptied the shelves of survival goods.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: After the first set of errors -- and there will be a flurry -- people will become aware and they'll remember to patch or fix or permanently adjust.


LAWRENCE: The extra weeks of DST are good news for anyone longing to get out in the sun after work.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Once it's dark and I'm home, I just sit. And that's about it. When it's light outside, I feel I got to be outside.

LAWRENCE: The government hopes it will mean Americans will use less electricity and use their energy in other ways.


LAWRENCE: Now, the big headquarters will update most of your cell phones, TiVos, cable boxes, things like that, but you'll have to download a software patch for most of your Blackberrys, or else your calendar and your clock is going to be completely off.

M. O'BRIEN: Oh no. And so, if you've got an older system where you've got to do all that, you could just manually change the clock on your computer and, along with changing all the other clocks in your House, right? LAWRENCE: Sure. Like, Windows 2003, and it'll work. But in three weeks later you'll have to do it again, because it's set to automatically jump forward on that first Sunday in April.

S. O'BRIEN: Or you could wait three weeks for it to catch up.

LAWRENCE: Right. You could just do that.

M. O'BRIEN: You could do that.


LAWRENCE: And you can miss maybe three weeks of...

M. O'BRIEN: And this would happen every year as long as you'd keep that old system, right?

LAWRENCE: You'd have to do it again in the fall and again in the spring. Not a catastrophe, but an inconvenience.

M. O'BRIEN: One more thing to do.


M. O'BRIEN: All right. Thank you, Chris. Good to see you here.


S. O'BRIEN: Forty-seven minutes past the hour. Chad Myers is at the CNN weather center. He's watching some cold weather coming our way.


S. O'BRIEN: The race for the White House is getting even more interesting today. The former Massachusetts governor, Mitt Romney, gets a boost. Is he closing in on former New York City mayor Rudy Giuliani?

We'll take a look straight ahead on AMERICAN MORNING.




S. O'BRIEN: It could be another case of insider trading on wall street. The SEC is now looking at trades in the run-up to last week's TXU announcement.

Fifty-seven minutes past the hour. Stephanie Elam is "Minding Your Business."

Ooh, it's getting ugly on this one. STEPHANIE ELAM, CNN CORRESPONDENT: There's definitely a little bit of ugly in this one, Soledad. And it's something that we're seeing more of here. Ad it seems regulators are really looking in to see what's going on here.

And in this case of TXU, there's a buyout announcement that came out last week. But what has happened now, the federal judge has actually asked for some overall international investor assets to be frozen, as much as $5.4 million in investor assets for apparent illegal trading here.

Regulators claim a group of unknown investors had material non- public information that was key information ahead of this buyout announcement on February 26th. The Texas Utilities buyout is worth $31.8 billion, and obviously that's a lot that people would have loved to have been on if they had some insider information here. So we're going to keep our eyes on that.

The other thing I want to tell you about today is Vioxx. This is a drug made by Merck. You may remember it was pulled off the market in September of 2004. Well, a New Jersey jury has found Merck failed to provide enough warning about the health risks in one case. In another case, they actually said that Merck did give adequate warning.

Both of these cases tried together. In both instances, the jury found Merck guilty of consumer fraud, and obviously that is something that Merck is going to keep fighting, as they have 27,000 cases related to Vioxx. So we'll have to see what happens here.

S. O'BRIEN: Yes. And they're taking them one at a time, aren't they?

ELAM: Yes, they're active.

S. O'BRIEN: Stephanie Elam for us.

Thank you, Stephanie, "Minding Your Business" this morning.

M. O'BRIEN: Soledad the superstar. Where is your red dress, girl? Where is your red dress?

S. O'BRIEN: Stephanie was there, too. She was at this event.

M. O'BRIEN: Yes?

Did you get an award, too?

ELAM: No, I was supporting Soledad.

S. O'BRIEN: Did you see my brother stepped on my dress?

M. O'BRIEN: Look at Soleditty there. Yes, indeed.

S. O'BRIEN: I am so squeezed into that dress, it's not even funny. I cannot breathe.

M. O'BRIEN: OK. So you held your breath for a little while.

S. O'BRIEN: Yes, I did, for about four hours.

M. O'BRIEN: And Soledad, she has a bum knee. She had some knee surgery.

You did very well going up the steps. You were worried about that.

S. O'BRIEN: Yes, in high heels.

M. O'BRIEN: All right. So tell us what the award is.

S. O'BRIEN: My little baby brother right there.

M. O'BRIEN: Oh, isn't that nice?

But this was -- this is a big darn bill. This is the president's award of the NAACP.

S. O'BRIEN: Yes.

M. O'BRIEN: And look at you there. You don't even have the statue.

S. O'BRIEN: Look at that hairdo.


M. O'BRIEN: Why didn't you just put it around your neck?

S. O'BRIEN: I think they're putting my name on the statue. They give it to you and then they take it back to engrave it for you.

M. O'BRIEN: Wow. But explain why you got the award so people understand.

S. O'BRIEN: Just general.

M. O'BRIEN: Just because you're great.


M. O'BRIEN: You're generally great.

S. O'BRIEN: No. It was for some of our coverage, particularly Hurricane Katrina.

M. O'BRIEN: Look at that dress. You look fantastic there.

S. O'BRIEN: Isn't that a cute dress? Thank you. Thank you.

M. O'BRIEN: Anyway, but that's not the point. You were doing something...

S. O'BRIEN: No, not the point. It's about the journalism, Miles.

M. O'BRIEN: Yes, I know.

S. O'BRIEN: Sorry. Got distracted on the dress. It was -- it's a wonderful world, and it's -- you know, I'm still shocked.

And India.Arie did a tribute song to me.

M. O'BRIEN: Wow.

S. O'BRIEN: I'm still not over it.

M. O'BRIEN: Wow. I am so not worthy to sit here. But I'm glad -- I feel fortunate.

S. O'BRIEN: I said to my husband, "That is the most amazing thing that's happened in my life." And he said, "What about the birth of your children?"