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American Morning

Latin America Visit; Key Figures; Saving Daylight; Baby Guru Battle

Aired March 09, 2007 - 06:00   ET


SOLEDAD O'BRIEN, CNN ANCHOR: Secret snooping. The FBI is under fire this morning for under reporting how often they're after your private information.
MILES O'BRIEN, CNN ANCHOR: Yankee go home. Thousands of protesters in the streets as President Bush kicks off his good will tour of Latin American.

S. O'BRIEN: Left behind. Reports of children separated from their parents. Detainees who where flown across the country. The governor of Massachusetts says enough.

M. O'BRIEN: And through their eyes. Our "Children of the Storm" go behind the cameras to show their everyday lives after Katrina.

Live from New Orleans, London, Washington and New York on this AMERICAN MORNING.

S. O'BRIEN: Good morning. Welcome, everybody. It's Friday, March 9th. I'm Soledad O'Brien.

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

We begin in Washington and some tough questions about our civil liberties. A tough report being released this morning from the government watchdog office, the Justice Department. It accuses the FBI of reaching into our private records a lot more often than first thought. In 2005, the FBI approved more than 9,000 warantless requests for e-mail, telephone or financial information on U.S. citizens in the previous two years. But the Justice Department's inspector general says the real number is about 20 percent higher. The report suggests the FBI is overwhelmed with requests and the bookkeeping was shoddy. FBI Director Robert Mueller will hold a news conference at 11:30 a.m. Eastern Time to respond to the report. We, of course, will bring it to you live.


S. O'BRIEN: In Brazil it's been a not so warm welcome for President Bush on the first leg of his Latin American tour. Thousands of protesters in Brazil are angry about the war in Iraq and also leery about a deal on ethanol. CNN's Elaine Quijano is traveling with the president. She's in Sao Paulo this morning.

Elaine, good morning. ELAINE QUIJANO, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Good morning to you, Soledad.

And in addition to all that, the White House insists that President Bush's five-nation tour here in Latin America is not an anti-Hugo Chavez tour, but, of course, the president is trying to improve the United States image, ever mindful of Chavez's attempt to widen his influence.


QUIJANO, (voice over): President Bush wants to talk ethanol with Brazilian President Lula de Silva.

GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: It's in our national security interests and our economic security interests and for environmental concerns to develop alternatives to gas lease.

QUIJANO: The two are expected to sign a deal encouraging greater ethanol cooperation. Yet with much of the U.S.'s ethanol coming from corn, some Republicans say the deal could hurt America's corn growers and ethanol producers.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We need to build here in this country, not provide so that we can build it in a competing country.

QUIJANO: Experts say the ethanol deal and the focus on Brazil play into a larger, unspoken goal for the president's seven-day swing through the region.

PAULO SOTERO, DIR., BRAZIL INSTITUTE WOODROW WILSON CTR.: By highlighting, for instance, the President Lula acknowledging Brazil as the largest and most stable democracy in South America, you are, in a way, counter President Chavez.

QUIJANO: Venezuelan socialist President Hugo Chavez has called President Bush "the devil" and has thought to tap into anti-American sentiments in the region. With his country awash in oil, Chavez has used that revenue to spread his influence throughout the hemisphere, feeding off what some says has been U.S. neglect of Latin America after September 11th.

SOTERO: The trip was perceived in Brazil and the other parts of the region little bit of too little too late, but late is better than never.


QUIJANO: Now interesting to note, later today when President Bush arrives in Uruguay, Hugo Chavez will actually be leading a rally of thousands, it's expected, in Argentina, just across the river, basically, at a soccer stadium there. And just how to respond will be an interesting challenge for the Bush White House. Obviously, officials know that Chavez's rhetoric may appeal to some. At the same time, the U.S. is very mindful not to elevate Chavez in any way, shape or form in its response.


S. O'BRIEN: Elaine, has anyone in the White House responded to the suggestion by some people that the ethanol deal that they're working on could actually do more harm than good to corn growers?

QUIJANO: We haven't heard anything extensive just yet. Keep in mind, this is a deal that hasn't even been signed yet between the United States and Brazil. But certainly the president's argument is that with greater cooperation between the two countries, that the United States can only benefit. The U.S. and Brazil, of course, the world's largest ethanol producers. And the president thinks that, quite frankly, the United States can certainly benefit from some of the technologies. So look for him to make those arguments when he speaks about it later today.


S. O'BRIEN: All right, Elaine Quijano for us this morning Sao Paulo.

Thanks, Elaine.

Demonstrators have been turning out in Columbia, too. The president's heading there on Sunday. CNN's Karl Penhaul will show about that a little bit later this hour. And I'll be in Mexico on Tuesday. We're broadcasting live as President Bush meets with the Mexican President Calderon. We're going to take a look at the immigration crisis from that side of the border. That's on Tuesday on AMERICAN MORNING.


M. O'BRIEN: One of the most important measures of our country's economic health being released this morning. It's the big enchilada. The unemployment rate. Ali Velshi is here with more.

Good morning, Ali.


You know we've been talking about are we headed toward a recession or are we not? We're going to talk more about that later. But when you're considering all the things that go into the economic pie, the unemployment rate is probably the biggest. It's actually not the rate, it's your job and your chances of having a job.

Right now in the country we've got an unemployment rate of 4.6 percent. Most folks are expecting in about two and a half hours that the rate will be the same, but there is a fairly significant percentage of economists who are thinking it might tick up a little bit to 4.7 percent.

Now here's how it pans out across the country. The interesting thing about the unemployment rate is it's not even across the country. Those areas in green are areas where the unemployment rate is at or lower than the national average. Those areas in red are where it is higher than the national average. So you can see in the rust belt and in the west, we've got places where the unemployment rate is higher.

We're looking to see what happens in terms of the rate and in terms of how many jobs are added. That's where we might be expecting some weakness. Fewer jobs added than we're used to. In fact, fewer jobs added since perhaps the beginning of 2005.

That plays into how people feel. If the job situation is not great, they spend less. If they spend less, businesses spend less, hire fewer people and that's when you start getting yourself into a recession. But we'll talk more about that later in the show.

M. O'BRIEN: I'm curious about the West Coast here. I understand the rust belt and the industrial shift that's going on there. What's going on on the West Coast that is making unemployment a problem?

VELSHI: Well, you know, one of the things that's been going on is shifts in the kinds of labor that we have. And I'll talk about this a little bit later. Unemployment is a raw number of people who are employed. They're the kind of jobs that also make a difference in what kind of employment you've got. So you've got the actual number and how much people are earning, what kind of jobs, and we'll talk about that a little later.

M. O'BRIEN: Ali Velshi, thank you very much.


S. O'BRIEN: The White House is promising to veto a new plan to pull U.S. troops out of Iraq. House Democrats came out with a timetable to could bring troops home by the end of this year if the Iraqi government fails to meet security requirements. Now Senate Democrats want to bring the troops home by next March. That's tied to renewed diplomatic and political and economic strategies to end the ear.

And the Scooter Libby trial is over for now, but former CIA agent Valerie Plame is going to testify before Congress next week. A House panel is looking into just how the White House handled the leak of her identity after her husband questioned pre-war intelligence on Iraq.

M. O'BRIEN: Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich coming clean today about an extra marital affair. Gingrich admitting he was cheating on his wife at the same time he was going after Bill Clinton during the Monica Lewinsky affair. Gingrich has not said he's running for president next year, but he did register on a poll of conservatives last weekend.

There's a new man at Walter Reed to help America's wounded cut through all that tape, we hope. The Army creating the position of deputy commanding general, naming Brigadier General Michael Tucker to fill it as Walter Reed's bureaucrat buster. He'll act as a go- between, taking care of any problems that wounded soldiers of their families might have.


S. O'BRIEN: Happening this morning.

Investigators are trying to figure out why a tour helicopter crashed in Hawaii. Four people were killed. The chopper went down at an airport on the island of Kauai. The pilot apparently radioed to say that he was having hydriodic problems. The crash comes just one month after the Federal Aviation Administration announced new safety standards for air tour companies.

In California, a 4.7 magnitude earthquake hit Bridgeport, about 114 miles east of Sacramento last night. There were several smaller after shocks. There were no reports of any injuries or any damage.

Police in Covington, Ohio, which is near Cincinnati, are taking a look for anybody who fired a shot into the 12th floor room at the Radisson Hotel there last night. Nobody was hurt, but the whole hotel had to be evacuated.

And 34-year-old Washington state woman Kelly Hill is now under arrest. Police say she was in a speeding car that was being driven by this young man, 12-year-old Jake Frey -- he's her boyfriend's son -- when it crashed into an SUV last week in Woodland, Washington. Now Frey was fatally injured. Hill is being charged with suspicion of first degree manslaughter.


M. O'BRIEN: The black boxes from that Indonesia 737 that crashed and burned the other day in the hands of Australian experts this morning. They will take a few days to download and decipher the memory chips and the cockpit voice and flight data recorders. The pilots insist it was not their fault, that a violent down draft caused them to land too fast and too far down the runway. Twenty-two people killed, 118 survived.


And five people were injured in last Friday's deadly charter bus crash. Well, they're still hospitalized in Atlanta. On Thursday, authorities finally released that tape of the 911 call from one of the bus passengers. Listen.


OPERATOR: About how many? Give me an estimate so I know how many ambulances? How many?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We're talking 50. Not 50 -- well, at least 33 people on this bus.

OPERATOR: OK. You all on the expressway or are you on the street?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I think we fell off the expressway. We hit a road and fell off a actual bridge.


OPERATOR: The bus fell over the bridge?


OPERATOR: OK. Now, we've got help coming out there now. They'll be there shortly, OK?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I've got to get out of here.

OPERATOR: All right.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: All right. Bye-bye.


S. O'BRIEN: That crash killed four members of the Bluffton University baseball team from Ohio. Also killed, the bus driver and his wife. Two of those players who died in the crash, Tyler Williams and Cody Holp, were both 19 years old, were laid to rest on Thursday.


M. O'BRIEN: In Massachusetts, the governor is blasting federal immigration agents for a green card raid he calls heavy handed. The feds already flying about 150 of those caught in that raid to Texas to be processed for deportation. It happened in New Bedford, Massachusetts, at a leather mill. More than 300 illegals, most of them women, arrested. Sixty mothers were released already so they could care for their kids. The governor says no one else should be flown out of the state until they can be sure no children will be left parentless.


GOV. DEVAL PATRICK, (D) MASSACHUSETTS: The stories of humiliation, of fear, of anxiety and uncertainty that reflect, I think, for me, not what this country at its best is about.


M. O'BRIEN: Officials with immigration and customs enforcement are defending their actions, saying they are treating the detainees humanly.


S. O'BRIEN: Ahead this morning, you may be able to put away that scarf and those mittens this weekend, finally. Severe weather expert Chad Myers will tell us what's in store. We hope it's good news.

And daylight savings time starts this weekend. It's three weeks early for those of you keeping track. But is the effort to save energy worth all the problems that this change is going to create. We'll take a closer look. And a day in the life of Katrina's young survivors. With their own eyes, they'll tell us how they're getting by. It's a part of our special series "Children of the Storm," straight ahead on AMERICAN MORNING. The most news in the morning is right here on CNN.


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

The FBI is under fire this morning after a new government report out today accuses the agency of under reporting the number of requests it made under the Patriot Act to get private information.

And thousands of demonstrators are protesting the president's trip to Latin America. President Bush is in Brazil today.


M. O'BRIEN: It is about quarter past the hour. Chad Myers at the CNN Weather Center. And he's got the big weather story for us today.

And tell me the cold temperatures are leaving us, right?


M. O'BRIEN: We're springing forward earlier this year. So early, it's not even spring at all. But winter forward doesn't really have the same ring to it, does it? Congress moved the clock moving up three weeks supposedly to save energy. That's a dubious claim and it has a lot of unintended consequences. AMERICAN MORNING's Bob Franken is at the U.S. Naval Observatory this morning, the official timekeepers to the U.S. government. He joins us with more.

Good morning, Bob.


And by now, Miles, we've certainly heard a lot about the problems from the geeks -- excuse me, the technical experts. The ones who talk about our computers and our Blackberries. But as you pointed out, we're at the U.S. Naval Observatory, home of the vice president, the famous undisclosed location, and also the master clock. So when you see that clock over there and it says it is 6:16:33, you can set your watch by it. Of course, it will be an hour later on Sunday morning and a lot of other people are not happy about that.


FRANKEN, (voice over): The airline industry calls the early jump ahead an onerous challenge. It messes up schedules, particularly overseas. The literally down to earth farmers don't like it either. Of course, they never did like daylight savings time. They already get up early enough. And it confuses the cows. It upsets the milking schedule. It can also really play havoc with Saturday night/Sunday morning's bar time. So if you're among those who are not pleased, blame this guy.

REP. ED MARKEY, (D) MASSACHUSETTS: It lowers the number of traffic fatalities when the hour of daylight is moved to evening. It helps people who have trouble seeing because in the light they can move around in the evening much more freely. It helps, you know, with the issue of energy savings.

FRANKEN: Congressman Ed Markey bases his conclusions on those energy reductions on studies done in the 1970s. But many U.S. government officials are skeptical, pointing out that was then, this is now.

CRAIG STEVENS, DEPARTMENT OF ENERGY: Today we have energy efficiency. Today we have conservation. Today we have better technologies and better appliances. So I think we're all going to be curious to see, once this is all over in November, to see what the difference is.

FRANKEN: The law requires that in November, the Energy Department will begin to study whether the extended daylight savings time really did make much of a difference. But according to Congressman Markey, it's an idea whose time has come, an hour early, of course.

MARKEY: In addition, it also brings a smile to people's faces.


FRANKEN: Well, we'll just have to see about that. But like it or not, Miles, daylight savings time is going to be with us three weeks early, so this time on Monday morning you and I will have even more of an excuse for being so in the dark.

M. O'BRIEN: Oh, we'll be smiling, all right. Yes, that brings a smile to my face, for sure. All right, Bob Franken. What time is it now? Never mind.

FRANKEN: What time -- you know . . .

M. O'BRIEN: I know. All right. Thanks a lot.


S. O'BRIEN: Ahead this morning, we'll tell you about an e-mail scam that has burned some of the biggest brokers on the Internet. Ali Velshi will take a look at a so-called pump and dump scheme as he minds your business this morning.

And one of the world's best known childcare experts is the target now of some very angry moms. Now (INAUDIBLE) could all end up in court. We'll tell you what's happening straight ahead on AMERICAN MORNING.


S. O'BRIEN: In Britain she's sort of a super nanny. Author Gina Ford is one of the world's best known experts on how to raise a baby. Fans swear by her strict methods. Critics say she hates children. All this debate now could end up in the courts. CNN's Paula Hancocks is live for us from London this morning.

Hey, Paula, good morning.


Well, as any mother will tell you, everyone always has an opinion on how you should bring up your baby. But at this point, in the British markets, the difference of methods is now going to cause a very nasty turn (ph). We have in the red corner, Gina Ford, who's sales of baby books account for a quarter of the British childcare market. And in the blue corner, you have the owners and the founders of a very popular parenting website.


HANCOCKS, (voice over): The preschool rush. Recognized by mothers the world over. Lisa Peets has read all the books on how to raise her children, include those by author Gina Ford, but she's not a fan of her strict methods. Ford says the baby must be fed by 7:00 a.m. The parents must eat by 8:00 a.m. And the baby must be allowed to cry so it learns it will not always be picked up.

LISA PEETS, MOTHER & INTERNET LAWYER: For example, she suggests that parents and children have separate beds. And for this one, at least, you couldn't put him down in his own cot. He screamed like hell all night long. So we ended up just letting him sleep in our bed and it was easier for everybody.

HANCOCKS: But some critics have been brutal. Ford alleges there was a defamatory campaign against her on the British parenting website, Mumsnet. Public postings in the sites discussion areas have called her "a psychopathic child-hater" and "mentally unbalanced." Ford won't talk on camera until mediation with the founders of the website ends, but she told CNN, "I can tolerate criticism of my methods, but I cannot accept vial and relentless attacks against me and my family." The founders of Mumsnet stopped all discussion of Ford on their website when threatened with legal action. Action more likely to succeed in Britain than in the U.S.

PEETS: In the U.S., they tend to put a premium on free speech. In the U.K., in contrast, they tend to put premium on individual reputation, personal integrity and so on. So it's much harder to make a defamation claim in the U.S. than it is in the U.K.

HANCOCKS: Ford also has a loyal army of supporters. Victoria Evans swears by her methods. What some call regimented, she simply calls routine.

VICTORIA EVANS, MOTHER: My belief was that if I could get sleep and if Isabel could get sleep, we'd both be happier. And it's worked out that way. So I can't really understand what's wrong with what Gina's suggesting.

HANCOCKS: Proof there is no one way to bring up a baby.


HANCOCKS: Both sides at this point are saying that they hope legal action can be avoided and that mediation will work.


S. O'BRIEN: How does the mediation exactly work? Is it lawyers on both sides or what do they do?

HANCOCKS: Well, they will have the lawyers on both sides. I spoke to both parties earlier on this morning and they say, what they're expecting is one days of both sitting in separate rooms with their lawyers and a mediator will cross the corridor between the two of them, trying to hammer out some kind of agreement.

Now I spoke to the founders of Mumsnet this morning. They said that they were worried if this goes to court and they lose the battle, they could lose everything. They could lose their homes. And they say that they don't feel they were responsible for what other people were writing on their website.

I also spoke to Gina Ford who broke down on the phone when I spoke to her just an hour ago. She is absolutely mortified by what is happening. She said that there have been personal attacks on her and on her family and she is just desperate to try and put this behind her.

S. O'BRIEN: We'll see if the mediation works.

Paula Newton for us this morning, thanks.


M. O'BRIEN: Well, my mailbox is full of them, you know, those e- mail stock tips. Your is probably, too. As a matter of fact, more than five billion of them are sent each year. I think most of them come to my e-mail box, as a matter of fact. And now the Securities and Exchange Commission is cracking down. It's about 25 minutes past the hour. Ali Velshi is here with more on pumping and dumping.

VELSHI: I thought it was because I was in business news. I get these ones that say fast money, ride the bull, ready to explode.

S. O'BRIEN: I get them all the time, too.

VELSHI: About 100 million of them get sent a week. And now the Securities and Exchange Commission has actually suspended trading in 35 companies. The companies -- the penny stocks that are named in these things. So you get these e-mails and it says "fast money" and you open it up and it's a stock that's, you know, 1/6 of a cent but it's going to explode on Monday. Well, the SEC has closed in on these things.

What happens is, somebody is pumping these e-mails, getting people to buy them. People unwittingly buy these stocks and then whoever was pumping them ends up selling them for a profit. Maybe if you're the buyer, maybe you make some money on this thing too, but generally speaking, it's dangerous and these are unknown companies. The SEC is involved in that.

The SEC's made another move too. I'm sorry, this is not the SEC, federal court has ruled that Vonage has infringed upon patents from Verizon. This is bad news for Vonage owners. The technology relates to converting Internet calls to the traditional phone service.

It's ordered Vonage to pay $58 million in damage plus royalties to Verizon and the court has said that Vonage needs to pay Verizon a royalty rate if they're going to continue to use this service. What's unclear is whether Verizon is going to let them continue to use that service. So watch out if you're a Verizon customer.

There's your stock market, up about 10 points on the S&P. Up about 68 points on the Dow. Today, in about two hours, we're going to get that unemployment report for the month. We'll see how that goes. If unemployment picks up, expect a rough day on the stock market.

M. O'BRIEN: Thank you, Ali. Appreciate it.

Top stories of the morning are coming up next.

Including the FBI under fire. Just how often were FBI agents after your private records?

Also, we're right on the front lines of those protests against the president on his swing through Latin America.

And is it a book full of Johns? One woman says she's ready to spill and Washington is quaking. That's ahead on AMERICAN MORNING. The most news in the morning right here on CNN.


S. O'BRIEN: Welcome back, everybody, Friday, March 9th.

I'm Soledad O'Brien.

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

Thanks for being with us.


M. O'BRIEN: In Brazil, a not so warm welcome for President Bush on the first leg of his Latin American tour. Thousands of protesters there angry about the war in Iraq and leery of a deal over ethanol the president is poised to sign.

He's in Sao Paulo today, expected to sign that deal. The deal will essentially cash in on Brazil's ethanol industry.

A huge protest broke out in Colombia, too. The president visiting there on Sunday.

CNN's Karl Penhaul is in Bogota.


KARL PENHAUL, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice over): A homemade explosive rocks a police riot truck. Hundreds of masked students run for cover as water cannons douse them. The chant is "Yankees out!"

FERMIN, STUDENT PROTESTER: So we fight not only for the Bush visit. It's also because we believe that a new Colombia is possible, that a new Latin America is possible.

PENHAUL: The interview abruptly ends as tear gas fired by the police rains down on campus.

FERMIN: We're fighting men.

PENHAUL: Radical students of Bogota's biggest public university normally reject contact with the media, but months ago I met some of their leaders, and on this rare occasion, they agreed to show me the protests from their perspective. Despite that acceptance, it's a chaotic scene, making it impossible to do an on-camera standup.

"He's coming to sell us out. We're fighting against Bush's visit," this student says. A team of his masked comrades launch fireworks through PVC pipes. Another group takes aim by the wall, where I'm taking cover, too.

Police and the government accuse communist rebels of infiltrating Colombia's university campuses. The students, though, reject the terrorist tag. They describe themselves as a mixture of communist sympathizers, anarchists, leftists and nationalists. Today, they're united with one aim -- "This is a demonstration of Colombian dignity. We will not become the slaves of U.S. imperialism," he says.

Karl Penhaul, CNN, Bogota, Colombia.


S. O'BRIEN: The State Department is leaving the door open to direct talks with Iran and Syria this weekend in Baghdad. The countries are taking part in a conference on the war in Iraq. A top State Department officials says if either Iran or Syria wants to talk about the stability in Iraq, the United States will listen. The White House has accused both countries of fueling the violence in Iraq -- Miles.

M. O'BRIEN: Here in the United States, violent crimes like murders and robberies are on the rise in big cities. This is according to a Washington think tank this morning. Fifty-six large U.S. cities, including L.A., Chicago, Dallas and Washington included in the report.

It says since 2004, the murder rate is up a little more than 10 percent among those cities, robberies up, too, by 6 percent. But the largest city of all, New York, did not participate in that survey -- Soledad.


S. O'BRIEN: Ahead this morning, the Newt Gingerich affair. The former speaker acknowledges that he cheated on his wife at the same exact time that he was grilling the president who was under fire for the Monica Lewinsky scandal.

We'll take a closer look at that.

Plus, our children of the storm, we'll check in with them, our eyes and ears on the ground in post-Katrina New Orleans.

You're watching AMERICAN MORNING. The most news in the morning right here on CNN.


S. O'BRIEN: Welcome back, everybody.

We revisit our "Children of the Storm" this morning. You'll remember we handed video cameras to 11 young people in and around New Orleans, and we asked them to be our eyes and ears on the ground.

Now, their first assignment was, show us a day in your life.

Here's what St. Bernard Parish resident Amanda Hill had to show.


S. O'BRIEN (voice over): For Amanda Hill (ph), a senior from St. Bernard Parish, money is the problem day in and day out. Her grandmother, Delores (ph), is 66 years old and working at McDonald's.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I wake up 3:00 in the morning to hearing my grandma crying because she doesn't know if she's going to be able to have money to put milk in the refrigerator or have bread on the table. Now she is so far in debt and so stressed out, I see physically she -- what it's doing to her.

S. O'BRIEN: Amanda (ph) is a good student. She dreams of going to a four-year college but can't afford it.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: There's a lot of things that I feel like I've worked so hard for and I've gotten nowhere.

S. O'BRIEN: Amanda's (ph) mother died when Amanda (ph) was just 11. She says her father is out of the picture and she's terrified about her grandmother's health.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I'm scared that I'm going to lose her. And she's all I have.

S. O'BRIEN: Almost every month, she visits her mother's grave. There's been no money for a headstone. UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: This is my mother's grave. She died seven years ago. And we don't even have a name plate for her. All it is square cement that I write on with a Sharpie.

S. O'BRIEN: Vicky Marie Hill, born July 26, 1971, died January 30, 2000.


This is just a couple of things you have to deal with. This is a day in my life.


S. O'BRIEN: And later this morning, we're going to talk to Amanda (ph). Believe it or not, with all of that toughness in her life, she says she's still very hopeful.

We'll hear from some of our other kids, as well, a little bit later this morning.

And if you want more information about our young correspondents, you can check them out at -- Miles.

M. O'BRIEN: It's a fascinating glimpse at life there.

S. O'BRIEN: It's tough.

M. O'BRIEN: Lest we forget. Let's not forget what's going on there.

It's about a quarter of the hour now. Chad Myers at the CNN Center, and he is watching the weather for us and he's watching the mercury rise.


M. O'BRIEN: To politics now. John Edwards is opting out of a debate sponsored by FOX News and the Nevada Democratic Party. The Edwards campaign says the involvement of FOX News was part of the reason. FOX often accused of having a conservative bias. FOX is calling the Edwards decision unfortunate.

Former House speaker Newt Gingerich coming clean today about an extramarital affair. Gingerich admitting he was cheating on his wife at the same time he was going after Bill Clinton during the Monica Lewinsky affair. Gingrich has not said he's running for president next year, but he did do pretty well in a poll of conservatives last weekend.

And, of course, all the day's political news available to you any time you need it -- is the place -- Soledad.

S. O'BRIEN: Ahead this morning, if you have a stroke, you probably want to have it during the week and not on the weekend. We'll tell you about the weekend effect. It's not good news if you're a patient.

And some important news for new moms who are planning a C- section. There's a surprising new study on the risks straight ahead on AMERICAN MORNING.




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

The FBI is under fire today after a new government report accuses the agency of underreporting the number of requests they made under the Patriot Act to get private information.

And thousands of demonstrators are protesting President Bush's trip to Latin America. The president is in Brazil today -- Miles.

M. O'BRIEN: You know those Internet phones are all the rage, kids. And the technology is pretty cool. But in the case of Vonage, apparently owned by somebody else.

About five minutes before the top -- oops -- woo hoo, woo hoo.

Ali Velshi is here -- that's my Vonage commercial thing -- woo hoo.

ALI VELSHI, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, that's pretty good. A lot of people have that service.

M. O'BRIEN: They're not doing that this morning, are they?

VONAGE: A jury has ordered Vonage to pay $58 million to Verizon for infringing on three of Verizon's patents. Now, Vonage is a service that allows people to make phone calls using their Internet service rather than the traditional phone line. It's called VoIP, voiceover Internet protocol. It's typically cheaper than landline services.

Verizon had asked for almost $200 million in damages, claiming that vonage infringed on patents having to do with the technology to connect Internet calls to the traditional phone system, as well as for features like call waiting and voicemail. A jury said Vonage also infringed on a third patent having to do with wireless Internet phone calls. A jury didn't buy Vonage's defense that Verizon patents are not valid and has ruled that Vonage has to pay a 5.5 percent royalty rate on Vonage -- on those calls going forward.

Now, what does it mean? Stock of Vonage is down, and since it's likely that the company is going to have to pay up, you can presume that that penalty is going to work its way through to the customer. Also, on March 23rd, a judge is going to hear arguments -- and listen to this one -- on whether to actually block Vonage from using the technologies that are covered by the patent. So, this could get a lot more serious. Vonage, for its part, says it's going to appeal.

M. O'BRIEN: Surely if it came down to that, there would be some negotiations.

VELSHI: I think it's like the Apple -- the iPhone versus iPhone. Somebody is going to sit there and say, all right, either we're going to be totally out of business -- Vonage is not a financially very healthy company, though. They've been suffering losses.

They had a loss of about $65 million last year. Add $58 million to that. There's going to be some -- I think there's been no sleep at Vonage the last...

M. O'BRIEN: Pretty soon, that's some real money.


M. O'BRIEN: And it's a very competitive field.

VELSHI: It is.

M. O'BRIEN: A lot of players.

VELSHI: Vonage is the biggest player in that, but, you know, all of the cable companies are getting into it, too.

M. O'BRIEN: Yes.

All right. Thank you, Ali.


M. O'BRIEN: Some of the other stories we're looking at this morning for you.



S. O'BRIEN: Secret snooping. The FBI answering questions this morning just about how often they were searching our private information.