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American Morning

NATO Air Strike Kills Afghan Civilians; Congressional Hearings Today on Walter Reed; U.S., North Korea Begin Diplomatic Talks Today

Aired March 05, 2007 - 07:00   ET


SOLEDAD O'BRIEN, CNN ANCHOR, AMERICAN MORNING: ... the most amazing thing that happened in my life. He said, what about the birth of your children? I said, oh, yeah, that first.
M. O'BRIEN: Oh, yes, there is that.

S. O'BRIEN: And then my tribute song.

O'BRIEN: Congratulations.

S. O'BRIEN: It was fun. Thank you, thank you.

M. O'BRIEN: Next hour of AMERICAN MORNING begins right now.

S. O'BRIEN: Markets slump, stocks plunge again in China and Japan overnight. Can Wall Street avoid it's own nosedive today? We'll take a look.

M. O'BRIEN: War wounds: Congress to grill military commanders today about conditions at Walter Reed. 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. A surprise comments from Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama in a city forever tied to the civil rights struggle.

We are live from Washington, New York and Atlanta this morning.

S. O'BRIEN: Good morning, welcome, everybody. Monday, March 5th, I'm Soledad O'Brien.

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

Today Congress goes to the scene of the crime, as it were. Opening hearings at the Walter Reed Army Medical Center; commanders will be called to account for conditions in Building 18. There you see it. It's an outpatient dorm, deplorable conditions there. Vets staying there complained about mice and cockroaches; walls covered in mold. These are our wounded warriors.

Some heads have already rolled at Walter Reed. The hospital's commander, Major General George Weightman fired after six months on the job, last week. Then the Army Secretary, his boss, Francis Harvey resigned, partly for trying to bring back Walter Reeds former commander, Lieutenant General Kevin Kiley, and now Major General Eric Schoomaker will take over.

We have two reports on the fall out at Walter Reed. Barbara Starr is at the Pentagon, AMERICAN MORNING's Bob Franken live outside Walter Reed, where the hearings will begin in a little bit. Let's begin with Barbara at the Pentagon.

Barbara, give us a preview.

BARBARA STARR, CNN PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT: Miles, Army officials already know they are facing a very tough day. A senior army official telling CNN they expect this hearing to be, in his words, "ugly".

They expect, in his words, "personal attacks against the Army's senior leadership for the situation at Walter Reed." Not just these deplorable living conditions, but fundamentally much deeper problems. What was going on at Walter Reed? What kind of procedures and programs were there to help hundreds of seriously wounded troops recover over the months that they were staying there?

This is becoming an issue far beyond Walter Reed; Secretary of Defense Bob Gates getting involved. And, of course, now, President Bush saying he wants a commission to investigate all military health care facilities in the country that are dealing with the wounded -- Miles.

M. O'BRIEN: Barbara, tell us what may lay ahead? Heads are rolling already. What else are we going to see? What is the next shoe to drop here, do you think?

STARR: Miles, quite clearly, indeed, the next shoe to drop will be the fate of Lieutenant General Kevin Kiley. The three-star general who was the commander until last year, he was in charge of Walter Reed during the time frame in which many of these problems developed. So far, General Kiley has not lost his job, but we do know that he personally, today -- as he faces this hearing -- as he faces what is expected to be very tough questions from Congress, General Kiley knows his job is on the line.

People have spoken it him say he wants to keep his job, that he wants to be part of the solution, but it's going to be very difficult for the Army to explain how they can make him part of the solution when so many of the problems clearly appeared to have sprung up while he was in command -- Miles.

M. O'BRIEN: Barbara Starr at the Pentagon, thank you.

President Bush is promising a commission to investigate Walter Reed. AMERICAN MORNING's Bob Franken looks at past commissions and what gets done or does not. That's in our next half hour -- Soledad.

S. O'BRIEN: Outside of Atlanta federal investigators say they will recommend changes to that exit ramp where a charter bus crashed early on Friday.

For now, though, the ramp is open and those who survived the crash are coming back home to Ohio.


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

JOHN BETTS, SON DIED IN BUSH 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. Freshman's Cody Holp and Scott Harmon, and sophomore Tyler Williams. The bus driver and his wife, Jerome and Jeanne Niemeyer.

Crash investigators believe the driver mistook and 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. And 29 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 on what he calls the median, it might have been the berm or 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 looking closely at this highway interchange that's seen more than 80 accidents in the past decade.

KITTY HIGGINS, NTSB: I personally believe that I -- you know, we should be talking in the state of Georgia to see whether there is sort of any interim steps. 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: Will the state of Georgia make changes? We'll talk to a spokesman for the state department of transportation coming up in our next hour -- Miles.

M. O'BRIEN: Some developing news from the overseas stock markets: Exchanges across Asia and Europe posting losses overnight. The Tokyo exchange dropping 3 percent. Shanghai, you remember that one, it tripped the sell off last week, lost another 2 percent. There is still time left in trading in Europe, but the markets there are currently tanking, as well.

President Bush speaking to the Hispanic Chamber of Commerce in Washington today. He'll give them the low down on his upcoming South American trip. The president leaves Thursday for a six-day tour of Latin America.

In Iraq at least 26 kills, 54 wounded this morning as a car bomb explodes in central Baghdad. Smoke from the explosion, in a book market, in a busy commercial district, could be seen all throughout the city.

In Britain today we're e expecting a big court decision in the latest investigation into Princess Diana's death. Could force Prince Charles to testify. Mohamed Al-Faed (ph) insists the crash that killed his son, Dodi, and the princess, was a murder plot. Last year authorities concluded the crash was an accident.

The NAACP President Bruce Gordon is stepping down. He's been in charge for 19 months. Gordon says he wants out, partly because of growing strains with the board members over management style and the future of the NAACP -- Soledad?

S. O'BRIEN: The fight for black votes in a showdown in Selma, Alabama. Senators Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama were both there on Sunday marking anniversary of the violent civil rights march in Selma. Senior Political Correspondent Candy Crowley is in Washington, D.C., for us.

Candy, good morning.


Religion, civil rights, and politics filled Selma, Alabama, yesterday, as Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama helped mark the 42 anniversary of Bloody Sunday, one of a series of marches which lead to the Voting Rights Act.


CROWLEY (voice over): Competing for the attention and votes of African-Americans, Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama spoke at churches within shouting distance of each other. Each laying claim to the legacy that was Selma.

SEN. HILLARY CLINTON (D-NY), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: It is the gift that keeps on giving. Today it is giving Senator Obama the chance to run for president of the United States! And by its logic and spirit, it is giving the same chance to Governor Bill Richardson, a Hispanic, and, yes, it is giving me that chance, too.

SEN. BARACK OBAMA, (D-IL), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: 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 y'all sacrificed for me! I stand on the shoulders of giants.

CROWLEY: This was two high-profile competitors united by a cause giving roughly the same message.

BILL CLINTON, FMR. PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: All the good speaking has been done by Hillary and Senator Obama today. CROWLEY: Make that three high-profile people. Former President Bill Clinton, often referred to in the American-American community as the first black president, came along, too. Another sign of how fierce the competition is for the black vote.

Consider John Lewis, who was beaten in the original march from Selma in '65. Sunday, he was in church with Barack Obama and then walked holding hands with Hillary Clinton. Ask him who he'll support.

REP. JOHN LEWIS, (D-GA): Well, it's a very difficult position to be in, but it's a good position to be in. We have choices.

CROWLEY: Obama, Clinton, Clinton and Lewis walked across the Edmund Pettis Bridge Sunday where 42 years ago marchers were stopped with dogs and horses and police batons, this time only the cameras got in the way.


CROWLEY: When John Lewis, and others, walked over that bridge 42 years ago, they were fighting for voting rights for African-Americans. It is a measure of success that yesterday a black man, and a woman, were in Selma courting that same vote, now considered key to the success of a Democratic candidate for president -- Soledad.

S. O'BRIEN: It is certainly interesting to note, Candy Crowley for us this morning. Thanks, Candy.


M. O'BRIEN: A couple of new polls on the Republican presidential candidate race, former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney won a straw poll over the weekend. Not exactly a landslide. It was taken at the meeting of Conservative Political Action Conference. Romney got 21 percent, four points ahead of former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani; followed by Senator Sam Brownback; former House Speaker Newt Gingrich, and Senator John McCain, who wasn't even there.

A "Newsweek" poll of registered Republicans has Giuliani with a huge lead over either over McCain or Romney in a theoretical head to head primary contest.

The Giuliani family making news this morning. Andrew Giuliani, the mayor's now 21-year-old son -- quite a golfer he is, by the way -- he calls his relationship with his dad strained after his mother divorced his dad and married Judith Nation.

Now, young Andrew once appeared with his father. This is back in 1994. You remember this. This is his dad's inaugural speech, and he was talking along and fidgeting and all that. We all had fun with that. Andrew now says he's too busy with golf and college to campaign with his dad now.

And of course, all the day's political news is available any time of the day or night the place to find it -- Soledad. S. O'BRIEN: Ahead this morning, if you think it's cold today, wait till we tell you how cold it will be tomorrow. Chad's going to have your "Travelers Forecast".>

Also, up next. And what can we learned from last week's devastating tornadoes in Alabama? We'll take a look with the man who first issued the tornado warning.

And from head-to-head, to face-to-face, the U.S. and North Korea sit down to talk diplomacy. Can they put all that anger behind them? You're watching AMERICAN MORNING. The most news in the morning is right here on CNN.


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

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

A major explosion to tell you about in Baghdad; 26 people are dead after a car bombing took place in a busy commercial area this morning.

Coming up on quarter past the hour, let's get right to Chad Myers that CNN Weather Center. He's watching some cold weather for us.


M. O'BRIEN: In Enterprise, Alabama, this morning, the schools will not be open. In fact, they will remain closed for the entire week while folks in that city try to pick themselves back up after that killer tornado last week.

On Friday I flew over the scene of the wreckage as one meteorologist got a first-hand 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, METEOROLOGIST, NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE: There's home damage, the first we've seen.

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: That is definitely the ground zero of this event.

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

O'BRIEN: What he saw surprised him. The area damaged much smaller than expected for a tornado this strong.

GOREE: 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.

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 see tornadoes in the making, sooner than ever, but there are limits to the technology.

O'BRIEN (On camera): The sad fact here is, this worked, people died.

GOREE: That's the continued challenge, it will never be perfect when it comes to safety, 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: The question this morning remains, should the principal of that school have 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 assume the interior hallway of that school was a safe place for those kids to be. But those cinder block walls, Soledad, crumbled.

S. O'BRIEN: Right, and they do.

O'BRIEN: And you know, we talked on Friday with an expert, in Oklahoma, Tornado Alley, they have safe rooms with steel reinforced areas to put kids in these circumstances. Maybe all schools should looking at how safe those hallways really are.

S. O'BRIEN: Oh, it's a terrible disaster. That's a shock.


S. O'BRIEN: Then, how about this, this is north of Ft. Worth in Texas. Video tape that was so shocking. Did you see this? Police are releasing it now. It shows two teenagers, helping young -- we mean young children -- smoke pot. It's utterly horrifying. The kids are five years old and two years old.

They're the nephews of one of the teenagers, apparently seen on this videotape. At one point you see one of the suspects putting the marijuana cigarette in the baby's mouth. The kids have taken -- the mother said she was sleeping at the time. The kids were taken away and they've been put in foster care, and the suspects face felony charges. O'BRIEN: Well, at least they're out of their hands in foster care.

S. O'BRIEN: But, you look at the five-year-old, this kid is holding a marijuana cigarette like he's done this before. This doesn't look like it's the first time. He's also inhaling, you know -- it's --

M. O'BRIEN: It's just a horrifying piece of tape, really. Unbelievable.

S. O'BRIEN: That's brutal. Just shocking. I hope they throw away the key, honestly.

M. O'BRIEN: Yeah.

S. O'BRIEN: Moving on. Robots that do dishes and mow the lawn and iron your clothes. It's about time, I say. It's no longer science fiction. We're "Minding Your Business" straight ahead with that story.

And the United States and North Korea sit down for an historic one-on-one, today. We'll tell you if any breakthroughs are expected. That's straight ahead on AMERICAN MORNING. We're back in just a moment.


S. O'BRIEN: Welcome back. You're watching the most news in the morning. Few people would have predicted it when North Korea tested its first nuclear device that that nation, and the United States, would be sitting down today for talks. Senior U.N. Correspondent Richard Roth is with us this morning.

Good morning.


S. O'BRIEN: One-on-one talks, what do you think they'll cover in two days?

ROTH: Well, the State Department says don't look for a peace agreement to come out after these two days of talks. There is a lot to discuss. The goal, some sort of normalization in a rare meeting between the North Korea and the U.S., face to face 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 say the 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.

DARYL KIMBALL, AMRS CONTROL ASSOC.: It's very ironic that we are where we are now.

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

KIMBALL: 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 far fetched as it once sounded, normalizing relations. With a recent multi-nation agreement negotiated with 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 hardliners on North Korea.

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

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

CONDOLEEZZA RICE, U.S. SECRETARY OF STATE: Diplomacy is not 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.

ROTH: The U.S. will get a good early indication of how much North Korea really wants to cooperate, Soledad, in steps towards normalization and dismantling their nuclear program.

S. O'BRIEN: All right, Richard Roth, U.N. correspondent. Thanks, Richard -- Miles.

M. O'BRIEN: Well, PALM used to have the smart phone market in the -- palm of its hand. But now it may need a hand just to compete. It's 25 minutes past the hour. Stephanie Elam is in for Ali Velshi this morning.

Good morning, Stephanie.


Remember how things just changed. I remember when PALM was just the way to go. You heard PALM and people got excited. It was so cool.

M. O'BRIEN: The ol' PALM Pilot back in 19 -- I remember seeing that thing and wow! This was --

ELAM: It was cool.

M. O'BRIEN: Immediately fascinating.

ELAM: I had one.

M. O'BRIEN: Then the Trio came out.

ELAM: Then the Trio came out and it was also very cool. And now it looks like they're being eyed as a takeover for Nokia. That speculation actually lifted PALM's stock 11 percent on Friday. That is it's highest level in eight months.

Well, this is according to "The Wall Street Journal", that PALM is working with Morgan Stanley to take a look at its options. That could include buying something, being bought, as well as an investment by a private equity firm.

Motorola, another company mentioned there as a possibly looking into taking over PALM. And obviously, here, a chance for the company to get in sync with another company that is really doing things that are innovative helping take that technology and moving it forward.

Also want to tell you a little bit about robots. This is a fun story, I like this one.

According to the International Federation of Robots, there are more than 1.9 million --

M. O'BRIEN: There's an International Federation of Robots?

ELAM: Isn't that funny? That's what I like about it.

M. O'BRIEN: There's a federation for everything.

ELAM: The IFR, doesn't that sound good? It sounds very technical.

But, anyway, they have all these robots and they say they're in use -- in private and domestic use in 2005. South Korea actually leading the move to robotics. They see it as one of the 10 economic drivers for them. They're actually investing $50 million in research, every year, for a decade there. We already have the first publicly listed robot company, iRobot. You know the little vacuum robot thing?

M. O'BRIEN: Yes, the little vacuuming thing. I wonder, when you call the IFR, does a robot answer the phone?

ELAM: That's a good question. It should.

M. O'BRIEN: All right, Stephanie. Thank you.

The top stories of the morning are coming up, including outrage in Afghanistan. A NATO air strike and a firefight and there are some civilians dead. We're live in Kabul with the details.

Also Congress demanding answers today about conditions at Walter Reed hospital. President Bush is calling for a commission to look in to it. What next?

Questions this morning after a deadly bush crash in Atlanta. Just this how many other interstates exits are accidents waiting to happen?

And DST meets Y2K. Say, what you say, that's Daylight Savings Time. A timely warning for you and your computers this weekend. You have to keep everything in sync. You're watching AMERICAN MORNING. We'll give you all you need to know. Stay with us. Most news in the morning, right here.


MILES O'BRIEN, CNN ANCHOR, AMERICAN MORNING: Good morning. Welcome back to the most news in the morning. It is Monday, March 5th. I'm Miles O'Brien.

SODEDAD O'BRIEN, CNN ANCHOR, AMERICAN MORNING: And I'm Soledad O'Brien. Thanks for being with us.

M. O'BRIEN: We got a busy Monday morning for you, watching news coming in from Afghanistan. A NATO air strike, a fire fight, some civilians killed and the accusations are flying. President Karzai speaking out this morning. We're going to bring you up to date with that. Nic Robertson on the ground there.

Also in the news this morning, the Feds say there should be better warnings on the interstate exit ramp where a bus carrying the Bluffton University baseball team crashed. We're going to drive that ramp, as you see right there, we'll take you right through it and we'll show you how in some cases it can be very confusing driving up that particular ramp.

S. O'BRIEN: Also this morning, the countdown is on to another congressional grilling, military commanders answering to those filthy conditions at Walter Reed today. We're going to take a look at President Bush's crisis management reflex (ph). He's now called a presidential commission to take a look into Walter Reed and overall care for veterans.

Plus, Y2K 2.0. (INAUDIBLE) will be back to show us just how this weekend's change to daylight savings time is confusing everything from your blackberry to your savings account.

O'BRIEN: We begin this morning though in Afghanistan talking about the fallout from that NATO air strike and the firefight, as well. An Afghan official said militants fired on a NATO base just north of Kabul overnight and this morning we're hearing from the Afghan president, Hamid Karzai. CNN's Nic Robertson is live for us in Kabul. Nic, you look at some of these pictures, angry, angry people What are the implications?

NIC ROBERTSON, CNN CORRESPONDENT: The implications are that this will be used by the Taliban, the death of civilians will be used by the Taliban to build support for them and perhaps generate more fighters. This is something U.S. military and NATO commanders here want to avoid. This is something Afghan officials want to avoid. But the U.S. military and NATO have seen on many occasions the Taliban either running and hiding in peoples' houses after an attack or setting up, as they did in this particular case, their ambush closer to a civilian area. But this appears to be at least part of the Taliban's strategy to build support so that Afghans can see negative things happening to them rather than positive things and this the Taliban hope will give them more fighters. Now, what NATO and what the Afghan government are trying to do is reaffirm their message that they're here to help and they're here to rebuild the economy, that they want to put in place key projects that will help not only stimulate the economy but bring a better life to Afghans. It is a military struggle, but the implications at each battle there are political ramifications, Soledad.

S. O'BRIEN: Nic, there was this incident there (INAUDIBLE) over night, what do you know about that?

ROBERTSON: The very latest from U.S. military officials in (INAUDIBLE) they say a U.S. base there had a rocket fired at it by combatants. They don't know exactly who they were. The rocket missed. They then watched to see what was happening around the base. They saw enemy combatants they described them going into a compound. They called it an air strike on that compound. They say that nine people were killed in that strike. But according to the deputy governor, when those two 1,000-pound bombs were dropped on that compound, according to the deputy governor in the province, five women, three boys and one man were killed. The interior ministry here, as well, does say that they there were nine civilian casualties. They say it's under investigation at the moment, but coming so hard on the heels of that incident near Jalalabad (ph) airport in the east yesterday, it, again, highlights the difficulties of conducting operations and again, in this situation, U.S. military says that the Taliban or whoever were the attackers knew that they were putting civilians in danger by carrying out attacks and perhaps running into their compound afterwards. Soledad?

S. O'BRIEN: Nic Robertson reporting from Kabul this morning, thank you Nic. Miles?

M. O'BRIEN: Thank you Soledad. 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 southbound. The bus hurdled onto the ramp to Northside Drive and blew right through a stop sign and then drove off the edge of that bridge. Six were killed, 29 passengers were injured, that bus carrying baseball players down to Florida.

Let's drive up that exit ramp. I've done it many times myself having lived in Atlanta and look at the signs. First of all, let's stop it right there, if we could, John. Take a look at this sign right here. What is really important here is this is a left exit, but no where on this sign do you see a yellow box with black lettering indicating that this is a left exit, exit only scenario. Let's move it along, go up this ramp a little bit. Imagine going up this ramp also say at about 65 or 70 miles per hour. Let's stop it here right now and take a look over here. Once again, this exit has that diamond which is associated with high occupancy vehicle lanes, but no special indication about the left exit nature and if you're just looking for the diamond, you might thing that this HOV lane is something you would do if you went up that exit.

Let's go up a little bit further. You're going up this ramp, probably much faster than this, take a look right here at this point. Let's stop it right now and what you have here is plenty of warning here that there is a stop sign ahead. Two signs on either side indicating a stop sign. Let's go up to the top here. If you look at the pavement going up there, you'll see it says stop ahead, as well. Of course, that is right down here and then, of course up here is a stop sign.

So, it's a combination, a mixed bag there of confusing signs and signs which are fairly clear that this is an exit with a stop sign at the end. Confusing intersection. If nothing else, it is confusing because it is a left exit. The question is, were things violated? Were rules violated in designing that intersection? Is the signage not up to snuff? AMERICAN MORNING's Greg Hunter joining us now from the busy interchange on the DC beltway. He's in Springfield, Virginia, this morning. Greg, what are the rules?

GREG HUNTER, CNN CORRESPONDENT: First of all, let me tell you about this interchange in Springfield, Virginia. It's called the mixing bowl. Why? Let me show you why. Look back up here, it's where 495, 95 and 395 all meet. There's an HOV lane, you can go left, you can go right, you can go straight. It's one of the most congested areas in the Washington, DC, metropolitan area, 500,000 cars a day pass through here. It's also a place that is one of the most accident prone places in the DC area.

First of all, can you imagine coming through here if you've never seen it before? Well, according to a transportation expert we talked to, he says that drivers operate very much on driver expectation, first thing, left-hand exits. There are 50 right-hand exits, according to this transportation expert (INAUDIBLE) for every one left-hand exit. So the expectation is unusual and even though the expectation is unusual, that left-hand exit has to be marked in a uniform way. It has to have a yellow sign, black letters, left exit or exit left has to be there.

Second thing, HOV lane, those kids on that bus on an HOV lane. HOV lanes need to be marked very specifically. Arrow pointed down and diamonds to show the HOV lane and diamonds in the HOV lane. You showed a sign with the arrows pointing over in the HOV lane. That's kind of confusing and kind of violates, you know, what the normal standard, uniform marking of an HOV lane. The arrow should have been pointing down. I'm sure they'll address that in the future. Also, all the signs have to look the same whether it's daytime or nighttime. They have to reflect about the same color and look about the same shape whether it's daytime or nighttime. Miles?

M. O'BRIEN: Greg, let's talk about the actual design of the exit. We talked about the signage. What are the rules about the length of the ramp, that kind of thing and were any of those rules violated?

HUNTER: Well, here's the amazing thing about exit ramps. There are no real rules dictated by how much right of way there, how fast the highway is exiting, how fast the highway is going. Is there somebody entering the highway behind you as you're exiting the highway? All those things come into play when you design an exit. It doesn't have to be 500 feet long or 800 feet long or 50 feet wide. It just depends on the actual highway and the use of it. So there are no real rules, no standardization when it comes to exits on highways. Miles?

M. O'BRIEN: Greg Hunter in Springfield, Virginia, thank you. Soledad.

S. O'BRIEN: Coming up this morning, the race for the White House is getting even more interesting today. 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.

And senators Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama court the black vote in Selma, Alabama on a historic day.

Plus, Americans spring forward early this year and there are some fears that could cause some major computer glitches. We'll take a look. You're watching AMERICAN MORNING, the most news in the morning right here on CNN.


S. O'BRIEN: This news in the morning, right here on CNN. Let's talk about the 2008 presidential race, shall we? The former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney won a straw poll over the weekend taken at the meeting of the conservative political action conference. Romney's 21 percent is four point ahead of the former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani, followed by Senator Sam Brownback, former House speaker Newt Gingrich -- he's not even in the race -- and Senator John McCain who didn't attend the conference. A "Newsweek" poll, registered Republicans, has Giuliani though with a huge lead over both McCain or Romney in any kind of theoretical head-to-head contest.

Let's get to Democrats now, Senators Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama marked a historical moment in the civil right movement, bloody Sunday. That of course was the day 42 years ago when African-Americans demanded the right to have their votes counted. Clinton and Obama were both in Selma, Alabama on Sunday staking their claim on the African-American vote.


SEN. HILLARY CLINTON, (D) PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: The voting rights act gave more Americans from every corner of our nation the chance to live out their dreams.

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'm coming to Selma, Alabama! I'm here because somebody marched.


S. O'BRIEN: A lot's at stake for these two. Senior political correspondent Candy Crowley is in our Washington bureau this morning. Hey Candy. Have you noticed how everybody gets southern when they're in the south? (INAUDIBLE) They all become preachers and they all get very southern. How do you think, overall each candidate did? This is important because we've been talking really for a couple weeks now about the black vote and how pivotal it is going to be in the nomination process.

CANDY CROWLEY, CNN CORRESPONDENT: What was interesting was it is it was hard to stand out substantively because both of them, essentially gave the same message. What message do you give when you're at an iconic moment in civil rights history, other than the right to vote and we still have work to do and the next generation has things that they must pick up on and I'm here because of what happened 42 years ago today. They both gave that same message. Stylistically, I think you saw the difference. Obviously, Barack Obama much more into the sort of preacher role, Hillary Clinton more the political role. But this was such a mix of politics, civil rights and religion that it was really hard to differentiate between the two. Both of them got great receptions, both of them drew crowds that went around the block. So call it a draw.

S. O'BRIEN: It's still early on in the race right, so it can be a draw at this point. Let's talk a little bit about this new poll. Let's throw it up on the screen for folks to look at. If you look at the numbers for Barack Obama. This is black Democrats choice for nominee at 2008. So this is looking specifically at black Americans, 44 percent for Obama, that's up from 20 percent back in the end of December, beginning of January. Look at Hillary Clinton, that number is 33 percent, down significantly from what it was back in December, January. Explain this for me.

CROWLEY: First of all, it tells you that the African-American vote is up for grabs. Second of all, it tells you that it's not a monolithic vote. Beyond that, it tells you that what happened between January and the middle of February is that Barack Obama gave him announcement speech. He was out there in the news, people were explaining what his background was and over the course of time, both blacks and whites moved into his column as they got it know him better.

S. O'BRIEN: Let's talk Republicans. I got another poll for you. I'm not a big fan of polls, but let's throw this up. This is pretty indicative of what is going on here. Mitt Romney, the Republican nominee for president, the conservative political action conference straw poll, long title to say there, basically conservative, Mitt Romney got 21 percent. He didn't run away with it. Giuliani is right behind him at 17 percent, Brownback there, 15 percent. Newt Gingrich who is not even in the race placed ahead of McCain who didn't show up for the conference. That is significant. What do you make of this poll? CROWLEY: Not a whole lot because it's a straw poll of those who went to this convention. It is very easy to bring your people in to say, sign up, go to this convention and vote for me. I think more interesting than Mitt Romney coming in at first place is where Giuliani placed. They're all kind of bunched up in there. Giuliani has become sort of the surprise at this point in the race with how well he seems to be doing among conservatives. We say at this point in the race because in the national polls, we show this huge lead. You showed those polls earlier on, there is this huge lead by Giuliani and it sort of runs counter intuitively to what we thought would happen. We thought that Giuliani would not do well among conservative Republicans, at least the socially conservative Republicans because he's at odds with their social views, particularly on abortion, gay rights and gun control. But he's, nonetheless, doing well. I am reminded that I had a conversation with a Giuliani aide before last year's election who said, you know what, if Republicans get clocked in the 2006 election, they may be looking for a new template. They may be looking for someone a little different and outside the box.

S. O'BRIEN: It all comes down to electability (ph). I'm not a political correspondent, but even I know it's all about can you get elected. Senior political correspondent, Candy Crowley. OF course, she's part of the best political team on TV, thanks, Candy, appreciate it and of course all the day's political news available any time day or night on Miles.

M. O'BRIEN: It's about quarter of the hour, Chad Myers in the CNN weather center. He has some travel warnings for travelers today. Some extreme weather out there. Hello, Chad.

CHAD MYERS, CNN METEOROLOGIST: Little wind. Miles, I got a question for you. I want you to guess how many planes, commercial, UPS, FedEx, how many planes you think are in the air right now?

M. O'BRIEN: At this moment I'm going to guess, approximately 2,800.

MYERS: Wow, you missed it by 55.

S. O'BRIEN: Really?

M. O'BRIEN: Not bad, huh?

S. O'BRIEN: Did you cheat?

M. O'BRIEN: I didn't cheat. I actually look at this stuff. What a geek I am, right?

S. O'BRIEN: Wow. I have a new-found respect for you. Wow.

M. O'BRIEN: This is stuff that just wastes gray matter, that's what it is. We're looking frankly...

MYERS: Planes in the air for 600, Alex.

S. O'BRIEN: Wow. MYERS: The good news is at least these planes are not really as big as on the map. But an awful lot of planes are in the sky already this morning and all of them, so far, pretty much on time. We do expect wind delays though across the northeast and those wind delays will begin to get 30, 45 minutes through DC through Philadelphia and New York City and Boston, as well. The high today in New York City, 43, never it feels that warm. Back out through the plains, this is where the cold air is coming through, Chicago, Detroit, Minneapolis the high today only 14, Rapid City 45. You get on the other side of the front, in fact it's fairly warm. Traveling to Vegas today, 72, to Phoenix today, 77 and a warm day through San Antonio, as well. Miles, back to you.

M. O'BRIEN: Thank you, Chad.

Sure, it's an extra hour of daylight for you. What does the early move to daylight savings mean for your computer which controls your life after all?

And news this morning for Japan, Detroit and Europe, see where your ride lands on a new list of best cars in the world. Stephanie Elam minding your business when AMERICAN MORNING comes right back. Stay with us.


M. O'BRIEN: This Sunday, we spring forward. If it seems early, it is. Three weeks earlier, as a matter of fact. It could cause all kinds of havoc to the computers that rule our lives. Sounds a little bit like Y2K, doesn't it? Well, let's hope so because that turned out to be a bit of a dud. AMERICAN MORNING'S Chris Lawrence joining us here much closer than he normally is. Normally, he's on the west coast. Chris, talk about the time change, here you are, you're actually enjoying the extra sleep. But let's talk about Y2K. 2.0, what this is.

CHRIS LAWRENCE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Exactly. You know, if you're fighting traffic and you're getting home and it's darn near dark, there's no bad side to this, but it can affect our lives in a lot of little ways. 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. It all sounds good, but where specifically can we see the problems?

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

LAWRENCE: Moving up the spring forward day could mean confusion for anything made to adjust on the old daylight savings 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 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 jets, the raptor, recently lost navigation and communication over the Pacific Ocean.

MAJ.GEN. DON SHEPPERD, CNN MILITARY ANALYST: They crossed the international data line and all systems dumped, an airborne Y2K.

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

SHEPPERD: Basically a computer programmer missed some lines of computer code. It was an airborne Y2K in which it affected all of the computer systems on the airplane. The same thing that may happen on our hardwired and our laptop computers having to do with daylight savings 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 hours and there will be a flurry (ph), people will become aware and they'll remember the 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.

When it's dark when I get home, I just sit and that's about it. When it's light outside, I feel like I've 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 automatically update most of your cell phones, Tivos and cable boxes, but you'll have to download a software patch for a lot of your blackberries otherwise your calendar and clock is just going to be completely off.

M. O'BRIEN: And what about if you have an older computer at home that doesn't have the latest Windows XP, what do you do?

LAWRENCE: Well, you can manually do it, but then you'll have to do it again in three weeks when your computer is set to spring ahead and then you'll have to do it again in the fall, as well.

M. O'BRIEN: Every year you keep that system, right?

LAWRENCE: Not a catastrophe, but an inconvenience, nonetheless.

M. O'BRIEN: Maybe somebody will come up with a patch that will change that.

LAWRENCE: Down the road.

M. O'BRIEN: Down the road, Chris Lawrence, thank you.

S. O'BRIEN: Coming up this morning, Congress looks for answers today about conditions at Walter Reed and, once again, President Bush is calling for a commission. We'll take a look this morning at past commissions and what's gotten done.

And more on that deadly Atlanta bus crash. We're going to talk to the Georgia DOT to find out what went wrong. You're watching AMERICAN MORNING. The most news in the morning is right here on CNN.


S. O'BRIEN: Before you hit the road today, take a look at where your car is on the list of the world's best, 59 minutes past the hour. Stephanie is watching "minding your business" for us in for Ali. Good morning.

STEPHANIE ELAM, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Good morning. That's right. For the second time in 10 years, the top 10 cars according to "Consumer Reports" are all from Japanese auto makers. This is including five new models, one being the Toyota Rav4, which