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American Morning

Pet Food Recall Expanded; War of Words Over War in Iraq Escalating

Aired April 03, 2007 - 07:00   ET


MILES O'BRIEN, CNN ANCHOR, AMERICAN MORNING: I'm Miles O'Brien. It's good to be back after a week of vacation. And we're like ships in the night. You're on your way out.

S. O'BRIEN: I know, tomorrow.

M. O'BRIEN: All right.

S. O'BRIEN: You're just back. That's all right.

M. O'BRIEN: You enjoy your break, too.

S. O'BRIEN: Thank you.

M. O'BRIEN: I'll have to go on (ph), while you're gone.

S. O'BRIEN: One of our top stories this morning is a medical story. It's a new report that is challenging the way women over 40 treat their health. A physician's group now says you can wait until you're 50, maybe, in some cases before you need to get a mammogram.

The American Cancer Society says, no, that is not the case. They directly contradict each other, in fact. We're paging Dr. Sanjay Gupta for a little more clarification. He's in Atlanta this morning.

Hey, Sanjay. Good morning to you.


S. O'BRIEN: Lay it -- I mean, spell it out for us. This is a new study, but they're completely contradictory findings.

GUPTA: Yes, you know, doctors don't always agree with each other. And there is not consensus recommendation yet that has changed. Couple things to keep in mind; it is confusing and this isn't really based on any new studies. This is based on what is called an analysis, a meta-analysis of old studies, as well. So, some of this information has been out there but aggregated by the American College of Physicians to come out with some new findings, they say.

First of all, it's confusing. Even "The Washington Post" headline changed over the last 24 hours. "Washington" headline first said, "Mammogram risks outweighed benefits"; now they say, "Mammogram recommendations challenged". So even they are sort of backing off a little bit.

What they're basically saying, the American College of Physicians, is that women in this specific age group before the age of 50, 40 to 49 should discuss their risks for breast cancer every one to two years. That is different than the old recommendation of get a mammogram every one to two years. Another one, as well, was doctors should talk to their patients about benefits and risks of mammograms. They should inform women age 40 to 49 of the benefits and the harms.

One of the harms, I'll just point out to you right now, is this concern that if you're getting a lot of mammograms you may find things that are not particularly problematic finding but that will lead to biopsies, it will lead to unnecessary worry and anxiety. This is something people have been concerned about for some time.

So, really the American College of Physicians saying a little shift -- you know what, 40 to 49, not as much a benefit, necessarily. At 50, everyone agrees benefit of mammograms. But the decision to get a mammogram should be based on that impendent risk and benefit, a woman's preference, and breast cancer risk.

Let me point out as well, Soledad, you and I just talked last week about the fact that women of particularly high risk should get not only a mammogram but an MRI, as well. So you have one side of the spectrum over here, and another side of the spectrum saying, women may not need as many mammograms all together, Soledad.

S. O'BRIEN: But you know it is still confusing. I just had my first mammogram now a couple weeks ago, since once I turned 40. And now I'm not really sure what to do. Do I go back every year and get another mammogram? Or do I say, well, I'm in that 40 to 49 range, maybe I don't need it? I mean, is the final take away, talk to your doctor? Which, you know, I appreciate that, no disrespect, doctor, but, I'd like to some facts to work with here.

GUPTA: You should talk to your doctor. And I think it's always a surprise to me that we had a one size fits all for so many of these screening tests. I think that was a little bit archaic. With all that we know now, with the genetic testing we can do, with the detailed family history we can get. The different types of diagnostic procedures there are, it shouldn't be a one-size fits all. There should be people who should be considered for certain tests more than others.

So, for example, if you have had a history of breast cancer, obviously, yourself, if someone in your family has had a history, or you and your family members have had a genetic mutation. Not everyone gets that checked, but if someone happened to get that checked, then it's important to get the mammogram and possibly an MRI, as well.

Another thing to keep in mind, Soledad, with regards to family history a lot of people out there say, well, I don't have a family history. I don't need to worry about this. People from American Cancer Society say is, well, you might be the family history. You might be the first person. Mammograms actually find cancers in many more women who never had a family history versus women who do.

So, it's important to sort of keep all of these things in context. But beginning at age 40 is what the American Cancer Society says, every year starting at age 40. National Cancer Institute, another cancer society, even a little different, every one to two years. So, it varies from woman to woman out there.

S. O'BRIEN: All right. Sanjay, thank you very much.

GUPTA: Thank you.

S. O'BRIEN: Miles.

M. O'BRIEN: The latest on the war over the war in Iraq. President Bush is getting ready to issue a new warning to Congress this morning, after Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid threatened to cut off funding for the war altogether. Vice President Cheney firing back yesterday.


DICK CHENEY, VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: The fact is that the United States military answers to one commander in chief in the White House, not 535 commanders in chief on Capitol Hill.


CNN White House Correspondent Elaine Quijano live now with the latest on this escalation in the fight between the president and Congress.

Good morning, Elaine.


Well, the message today from the president is that he's not blinking on this issue of a timetable for U.S. troop withdrawals in Iraq. That's essentially the message he wants to send later today when he appears in the Rose Garden.

Now, a senior administration official says this morning, President Bush will meet with Defense Secretary Robert Gates before coming out to the Rose Garden and making those remarks. Now, the White House has been keeping tally and reminding reporters regularly of the number of days it's been since President Bush has submitted his war funding request to Congress. And, Miles, you can expect when the president comes out to the Rose Garden again today that we will likely hear the same thing -- Miles.

M. O'BRIEN: Elaine Quijano at the White House. Thank you very much.


S. O'BRIEN: President Bush's remarks set for 10:10 a.m. Eastern time and CNN will carry that live when it happens.

It will be a very short turn around back to the war zone for some of those recalled Army troops. The Pentagon is sending the 10th Mountain Division back to Iraq after only 10 and a half months at home. They're supposed to be off for 12 months. Some of the 4th Infantry going back to Iraq just after seven months of rest -- Miles.

M. O'BRIEN: State Department is trying to track down a retired FBI agent who has gone missing in Iran. His family lost contact with him several weeks ago and hasn't been seen from or heard from since. Zain Verjee live now at the State Department to bring us more on this.

Zain, first of all, what do we know about this man? I know the State Department is not releasing his name and "The Miami Herald" has released his name and confirmed his name. We're not going to do that, but what do we know about him?

ZAIN VERJEE, CNN STATE DEPT. CORRESPONDENT: The State Department says he disappeared several weeks ago. Officials have been telling us that he was on an island off the coast of southern Iran, called Keesh (ph) Island. The State Department Spokesman Sean McCormack had this to say about him.


SEAN MCCORMACK, SPOKESMAN, STATE DEPT.: He is a private citizen. He was there on private business. And we don't see any linkage whatsoever between this case and any other ongoing cases that may have been in the news recently.


VERJEE: The State Department also says that he's currently not working in any way for the U.S. government. Officials say that he was working for an independent author/producer really trying to arrange an interview. But Miles, we really don't have any detail about that.

The FBI has confirmed, as you say, to CNN that he was a former FBI official who retired 10 years ago; an agent who was following organized crime in the United States. They are careful, though. They insist that he was not working in any intelligence capacity. Miles, there's no indication at all that he is being held at this point by Iranians.

M. O'BRIEN: Can you tell, Zain, what is the State Department doing about this? Are they involved in an active search for him or if it is just a standard missing persons type of scenario? That doesn't mean they would actually be pounding the pavement?

VERJEE: Right. Up to now they have been treating, and are in fact, treating it still as a missing person's case. The State Department is in touch with the family, but what they have been doing, Miles, is they have gotten in touch with the Iranians via the Swiss. And they're sending a message saying, look, there is an American missing and let us know if you have any information about it. But there is nothing like search groups or teams in the works, or anything like that.

There are a lot of moving parts here. And they're still trying to figure out exactly what happened. And they have reached out to the Iranians and asked them what happened.

M. O'BRIEN: Of course a lot of why we're even discussing this has to do with the facts that those British Marines and sailors being held by the Iranians. There is no apparent link here, right?

VERJEE: No. The State Department has made that very clear. They insist there is no link. And the reasons, Miles, that they're giving is that this man disappeared several weeks ago. And the British sailors were captured after that. So, they're insisting that there isn't, in this case, and we really shouldn't take events that we see in the news and link it, at this point, to this missing American.

M. O'BRIEN: Zain Verjee at the State Department for us. Thank you.


S. O'BRIEN: Tensions easing just slightly between Iran and the United Kingdom, as Iran's chief negotiator now says that sailors, those 15 captured sailors, will not go on trial. We're hearing from British Prime Minister Tony Blair this morning, who says he thinks the next two days are "fairly critical" -- that's a quote -- to resolving the crisis. The eight sailors, seven marines have been held since March 23rd.

M. O'BRIEN: House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and a bipartisan delegation of high-level politicians are expected in Syria this morning. Pelosi told reporters in Lebanon she has no illusions, but great hope for her meeting with Syrian President Bashar al-Assad. She is expected to talk about the fight against terrorism, Syria's role in Iraq and Syria's support of Hamas and Hezbollah. The White House says Pelosi's trip undermines U.S. policy.

S. O'BRIEN: More dramatic pictures to show you this morning, they're coming to us from the South Pacific. Take a look at this. This is the waves of the tsunami coming onshore in the Solomon Islands. That's amazing. That is just northeast of Australia. If you've been following the story, with us, since yesterday, the tsunami followed two earthquakes.

And 24 people are confirmed dead this morning; 20 villages in the Solomons wiped out. The waves in some places as high as 30 feet. Now, rescuers are saying they expect that number of dead to increase -- to go up -- as they continue to search for the missing. Some international aid is just starting to arrive. And, actually, it's hard to get into what they believe are some of the worst-hit areas. So we'll be able to update you as some rescuers and some aid gets into those islands.

M. O'BRIEN: We focus on a warning system in the Indian Ocean, after the tsunami, which you covered. There really wasn't much warning there, was there? S. O'BRIEN: There was no time. We talked to Chad about this yesterday. There was absolutely as it happened, it happened. And no time whatsoever to warn them.

M. O'BRIEN: There is another gold-plated bombshell about to drop in the 2008 Oval Office sweepstakes. "The New York Times" is reporting Barack Obama has amassed a $20 million war chest. That's just $6 million shy of Hillary Clinton's $26 million. John Edwards comes in with $14 million. On the GOP side, the man with the most Benjamins, Mitt Romney, the former Massachusetts governor with $21 million. Rudy Giuliani raised $14 million and John McCain with $12.5 million.

S. O'BRIEN: Taking a look at the CNN gas gauge for you. Gas prices are up again. The ninth week in a row, that I had to deliver that bad news. The national average for a gallon of regular unleaded is $2.71. That's up from $2.43, which we told you about last month. The price last year was $2.59. The state with the most expensive gas is California, that is kind of typical, averaging almost $3.27 a gallon. The cheapest is South Carolina $2.48 a gallon there.

M. O'BRIEN: The Supreme Court has weighed in on global warming and it is a big blow to the Bush administration. The Court ruling states can sue the federal government to force regulation of carbon dioxide emissions for new cars. And the ruling says the federal Environmental Protection Agency should now consider carbon dioxide a pollutant, and thus regulate it. The White House has opposed any regulation of greenhouse gases.

S. O'BRIEN: And there is another reason to think twice, read your label before your feed your pet this morning. This time there is a salmonella scare to tell you about. Eight in One Pet Foods says its dog, cat and ferret treats may be contaminated with salmonella. That is not just dangerous for your pet, it could be dangerous for the person who handles the food, as well. The recall affects Dingo Chick'n Jerky, Dingo Kitty Chicken Jerky, Dingo Ferret Chicken Jerky. If you have them, they say, throw them out.

M. O'BRIEN: Coming up in the program, we're headed to the tsunami zone. New pictures coming in this morning of the waves hitting the Solomon Islands. We just showed them to you. We'll go there live, though, for the latest on the search for survivors.

And we're live from Washington; Cherry Blossom Festival time. There's a pretty picture. Chad Myers is there to tell us all about it. We're watching -- we're all watching, you're watching, all of us watching AMERICAN MORNING. The most news in the morning right here on CNN.



UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: They're over, they're around, they're under, and you just feel like you've seen the most beautiful one you can see. (END VIDEO CLIP)

M. O'BRIEN: Achoo! Ah, it's cherry blossom time. And the blossoms are a'bloomin' at the time they should be, which is actually kind of unusual. Sometimes they don't cooperate so well. The first two weeks of April Cherry Blossom Festival time. And they're just perfect this year. Of course, we're talking about the 3,700 plus Japanese cherry trees along the Tidal Basin of Washington, a gift of the country of Japan to the United States.

Chad Myers is right in the midst of them. I read this morning that in return the U.S. gave the Japanese dogwood trees, back in 1915. I wonder if they have a dogwood festival? Probably not.


But did you know that the first trees, that should have been coming to America, were supposed to be here in 1910. And when 2,000 of those trees arrived in Seattle off the boat they were filled with bugs and mice. And they had to actually be burned there in Seattle before they could be brought here.

So, two years later they drafted other root stock onto more bug resistant roots and then they brought the trees here two years after they were actually supposed to be here. But a shame that they had to burn the first 2,000 because, obviously, American farmers were very concerned that we would be random and foreign bugs on to the soil. And they didn't want that.


S. O'BRIEN: We got some of the first pictures in this morning from the South Pacific, where an earthquake and tsunami have ravaged the Solomon Islands. That's northeast of Australia; 24 people confirmed dead and 20 villages in the Solomons wiped out, as waves as high as 30 feet hit those islands.

John Roughan is on the phone from the capitol Honiara. And he is the secretary to the prime minister of the Solomon Islands.

Thank you for talking with us, sir. We certainly appreciate your time.

I know you have been a resident of the Solomon Islands for 50 years. Can you describe for me exactly what happened and what did you see and feel when the tsunami hit?

I'm not sure we have Mr. Roughan's audio. Guys can you double check this for me?

Mr. Roughan, can you hear me? This is Soledad O'Brien at CNN.

No, obviously, he can't hear me. Let's see if we can get that connection. We've been showing you these live pictures as that wave comes on shore, 30-foot waves. If we have a chance, to show folks the wide shot of the homes under water. Wow, it really is reminiscent of what we saw, not only in Thailand -- look at this, in a way -- Hurricane Katrina. The blast just blowing the homes.

And keep in mind people here, they don't have the prefab homes and don't have materials shipped in, they use local materials. So it's not built at all to withstand anything like a tsunami, which would frankly be hard to withstand anyway.

I believe Mr. Roughan is back with us.

Can you hear me, sir? No, we are having some big audio problem with our connection to the Solomon Islands. We'll see if we can fix that and check in with him.

He lived on those islands for 50 years and it will be fascinating to get his perspective on just what happened there -- Miles?

M. O'BRIEN: All right. We'll keep you posted on that. And we'll get him back with us as quickly as we can.

This just in to CNN, meanwhile, an Iranian diplomat who has been held in Iraq for the last two months, was just released this morning. This is according to Iranian media. His name is Jalaal Shararafi (ph). He is the deputy secretary of the Iranian Embassy in Baghdad. He was released as Iran and Britain negotiated the release of 15 British sailors and Marines, perhaps this would be the beginning of the end of that tense situation.

Up next, for sale. One major league baseball team, its curse hopefully not included. We'll have the details on that.

While the world is watching Chicago's Olympic dreams are suffering from a major PR problem. AMERICAN MORNING coming right back. Stay with us.


M. O'BRIEN: This just into us, live pictures. Oh, my gosh, look at that, we're right onboard. La tejalave (ph). La tre agran vesse (ph). And lots of tests today for them. They just broke the record. They just broke the record, folks, topping 354 miles an hour and their hair isn't even messed up. Not bad.

It is the V-150 bettering the previous record of 320.2. Look at that thing go! Holy tamoli! I wonder what the cows think of that. You know -- I guess it's gone so quickly they don't know. At 320.2, was the previous record set by the same train back in 1990, but short of Japan's magnetically levitated train, Maglev, which set a speed record of 361 in 2003. There you see all of them congratulating each other there.

S. O'BRIEN: That is a train full of journalists and officials.

M. O'BRIEN: Champagne for the winners. Not in the cockpit, though, right? Just keep your eye on the rails there. As Jim Bittermann is on board. We can't get a hold of him, the cell phone won't even work, it is going so fast.

S. O'BRIEN: Wow. Wow, wow, wow.

Well, you've seen the videos over and over again, of the off-duty Chicago police officers caught on tape allegedly beating up a woman, and the bartender in a bar. Well, you know this is a PR nightmare. We talked to the Chicago superintendent who said he was horrified by it. The Chicago's top cop now retiring. CNN's Ed Lavandera in Chicago for us this morning.

Hey, Ed, good morning.


This announcement came as quite a surprise yesterday, a man who has spent nearly four decades on the police department, abruptly resigning. They won't say it's because of this scandal, but many people in this city can't help but think so.


LAVANDERA (voice over): This video replays over and over across Chicago, drunken off-duty police officer Anthony Abbate (ph) beating up a young female bartender because she stopped serving him drinks. And that is just one chapter of this scandal. Videotape of an earlier bar brawl involving Chicago officers could soon be released with all this as a backdrop, the city's top cop has resigned.

PHIL CLINE, CHICAGO POLICE CHIEF: Leaving during these times of challenge makes my decision even more difficult.

LAVANDERA: Chicago's mayor says the cases were mishandled.

CLINE: They should have acted immediately to discipline officers, and no special treatment should be given to protect them.

LAVANDERA: Critics say the police department with more than 13,000 officers is protecting its own. Some officers shielded a body at a court hearing from reporters and cameras, while others issued tickets to news crews covering the story.

The identities of the off duty officers involved in the other police beating at this Chicago bar have not been released. They weren't suspended until last week, more than three months after it happened. The videotape of that altercation is still under wraps. And the attorney for the victims of this attack says they have been told the video shows responding officers failing to help.

SALLY SALTZBERG, VICTIM'S ATTORNEY: They then used what we believe to be the code of silence that is rampant in the Chicago police department, to call off those nine officers. When those nine officers came to the scene, we have been were told there was blood everywhere, and the attack was continuing, and those officers just left the scene.

LAVANDERA: Phil Cline spent the last few weeks defending his department's reputation. CLINE: Oh, it's terrible. It's embarrassing for the police department. Especially, the Abbate (ph) tape. Like I say, it has been shown all over the world. We're as outraged as every citizen that sees that, because it doesn't reflect the good Chicago cops.

LAVANDERA: Cline had planned to retire by the end of the year, but the city's outrage seemed to have speeded up his timetable.


LAVANDERA: The attorney representing the four victims from the December beating asked a judge yesterday to reveal the names, or to have the names made public, of the officers involved in that attack, and the videotape of that attack. But the judge ruled that the videotape will be kept sealed for the time being, but has ordered the city to make those names of those officers involved in that beating made public within the next seven days -- Soledad.

S. O'BRIEN: All right. I guess, alleged beating, at this point. Ed Lavandera for us this morning. Until we see the tape, which will be very interesting to see. And there are other reports of other beatings, too.

Ed Lavandera for us. Thank you, Ed.


M. O'BRIEN: A new chapter for that mortgage company that has become the poster child for the sub-prime lending meltdown. The chapter is Chapter 11.

About 27 minutes past the hour. Carrie Lee "Minding Your Business".

They're not laughing there, are they?


A new chapter for New Century Financial, Miles. Now, this had been the top independent lender for sub-prime mortgages in the country. Well, they're reorganizing and Chapter 11 bankruptcy filed. They are cutting over half of their work force, 3,200 jobs. This market clearly imploded in February. Shares of New Century now being de-listed by the NYSE. This market is really in trouble.

Some really fascinating stats here. These lenders made $640 billion worth of sub-prime loans last year, twice the level that we saw in 2003. They amounted to about 20 percent of U.S. mortgage lending overall. And now about 13 percent of those sub-prime mortgages are delinquent. This is an industry in a lot of trouble right now.

M. O'BRIEN: A bit of a tail spin right there.

LEE: Yep.

M. O'BRIEN: Probably the first of many. LEE: Oh, yes. This is just the beginning.

M. O'BRIEN: Carrie, thank you very much.

S. O'BRIEN: The morning's top stories straight ahead.

Another pet food recall to tell you about. Another health alert, opening up debate about when women should get mammograms. Should you have one at 40? That story ahead on AMERICAN MORNING. The most news in the morning is right here on CNN.


SOLEDAD O'BRIEN, CNN ANCHOR, AMERICAN MORNING: Good morning. Welcome back, everybody. It's Tuesday, April 3rd. I'm Soledad O'Brien.

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

Happening now, brand-new video just coming in of that deadly tsunami in the southern Pacific regions. Parts of the Solomon Islands washed away by waves as high as 30 feet. We'll have the very latest for you ahead.

S. O'BRIEN: Also big debate in the medical community today. It affects every woman over the age of 40. Should you get a yearly mammogram? At least one group is making a surprise recommendation, but there is more to it than meets the eye.

M. O'BRIEN: Yet another pet food recall that dog and cat owners and ferret owners, matter of fact, need to know about, this one because of a potential threat of salmonella.

S. O'BRIEN: And take a look at these beautiful pictures. That is the garden of Gethsemane. This is where the bible says Jesus was betrayed by Judas. Our search for the truth about Jesus continues from the holy land this holy week and it's straight ahead.

Let's begin with that new pet food recall. Pet treats are being recalled for a possible salmonella contamination, for that other recall affecting wet food and some dry brand food. U.S. health officials have told import inspectors to detain, to stop those wheat gluten shipments from a Chinese company. We're now hearing that the Chinese company in question, they deny shipping tainted wheat gluten. They say they strictly test all their products. AMERICAN MORNING's Greg Hunter is live at a pet shop in New York with a look at how you can keep your pet safe today, especially, Greg, in light of this new information, new recall. Good morning.

GREG HUNTER, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Hey, good morning. We're talking about the old one this morning. We're at Petco and they have a whole floor dedicated to dog and cat food. They also have dog and cat treats. Now, that has kept these folks, as you can see, with all the products really busy during this last recall. Matter of fact the manager told me they work two, three, four times a day doing something with this recall. But it hasn't been easy for the consumer, either. Just about the time people think, it's great. I can walk out and I can go get my favorite pet food and, bam, there's another recall. So what can you do to take control and to help protect your dog or cat? Listen up, here it is.


HUNTER (voice-over): This is how pet store owner and dog boarder Marcia Habib starts her day, checking the Internet for recalls for both wet and dry pet food. So you got to research this every day.

MARCIA HABIB, OWNER, SUTTON DOG PARLOUR: We have to do it every day. That's the first thing we do every day.

HUNTER: The list on the original recall website, is daunting. There can be dozens of products for each manufacturer on the list. Making things more complicated, there are now at least three more websites to check for recalled pet food. Experts like Dr. Ann Hohenhaus of New York's Animal Medical Center still do not know exactly what is poisoning pets in the tainted food.

DR. ANN HOHENHAUS, THE ANIMAL MEDICAL CENTER: I don't think we know what it is. The story is really confusing. So how the rat poison and the melamine (ph) both fit into the story is really perplexing and unclear.

HUNTER: Still a mystery?


HUNTER: So what should concerned pet parents do? Well, you can check the many websites every day for recalled food or when all else fails, you can look for one ingredient that seems to be the string that ties all recalled pet food together. The big headline here for consumers is if you're worried at all and you don't know if it's on the recall list or not, the main ingredient to look for for a pet owner is --

HOHENHAUS: Wheat gluten.

HUNTER: Number one?

HOHENHAUS: That's been the offending ingredient that's been common in all of these recalled foods.


HUNTER: You can look for wheat gluten on the ingredient section of every dog and cat food bag. It is required to be on every single bag. Listen, it could be wet food. It could be dry food. It could be cat food. It could be dog food. It could be dog and cat treats, but just because there is wheat gluten in there it doesn't mean necessarily it is a recalled product or it's a bad product. But according to Dr. Hohenhaus, she says, hey listen, if you want to hit your default position, you don't want to look on all the many, many different websites, just for right now, don't buy things with wheat gluten in the product. That's the one string through this entire recall process, it's wheat gluten. Look out for that and you'll be pretty safe when it concerns this recall. As far as the salmonella, that's a whole other recall. Soledad.

S. O'BRIEN: All right, Greg Hunter for us this morning, thank you, Greg. We at AMERICAN MORNING, we're making a repeated request to talk to the people who run menu foods, ask them to appear on our program because we got lots of questions for them. So far, they have turned us down left and right. FDA though says they're going to talk to us tomorrow morning. We will be doing an interview with the FDA to update you on the pet food recalls. Miles?

M. O'BRIEN: In Washington this morning, the war of words over the war in Iraq is escalating. Vice President Cheney firing the latest shot blasting Congress for trying to put restrictions on the president and force an end to the Iraq war.


DICK CHENEY, VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: It is time for Congress to stop the political theater and send the president a bill he can sign into law. By delaying funding for the troops, the Democrats believe they can make the president accept unwise and inappropriate restrictions on our commanders. It's nothing less than an attempt to force the president's hand. They're going to find out they misread George W. Bush.


M. O'BRIEN: The words sparked by Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid who says he is ready to take drastic action. He says he'll push to cut off money for the war if the president rejects Congress' proposal to begin withdrawing U.S. troops. President Bush slated for a rose garden appearance on all of this at 10:10 Eastern this morning. CNN will bring it to you live, of course. Soledad?

S. O'BRIEN: First pictures are in this morning from the South Pacific where an earthquake and then a tsunami ravaged the Solomon Islands, northeast of Australia. CNN obtained these pictures this past hour 24 people confirmed dead, 20 villages in the islands wiped out as waves reported as high as 30 feet. Rescuers are expecting, actually, that number of people killed will increase as they make headway in their search for some of the missing today.

M. O'BRIEN: We have a new record to tell you about, a land speed record for a train, a high-speed train, a very fast high-speed train clocking 357 Miles an hour just outside Paris. There you see it, fast train (INAUDIBLE). It means very fast train. It's a pretty succinct name for it, wouldn't you say? It actually -- look at that thing go. Double decker high-speed bullet train beating a record it set back in 1990 by a long shot. That was 320 and change. Our own Jim Bittermann is on the train and enjoying some champagne, no doubt. No, he's working. He'll join us in about 30 minutes. There you see some of the pictures as they were onboard there certifying the record. And we'll check in with him and see what it is like to be on that train as it went nearly 360 Miles an hour. S. O'BRIEN: What do you see out the window on that train? Is it just one massive blur?

M. O'BRIEN: Just a big green blur I think.

S. O'BRIEN: One would think so, interesting.

M. O'BRIEN: We'll ask him.

S. O'BRIEN: Florida Gators waking up today back-to-back champions. They are the best in college basketball, second year in a row, topping Ohio State last night. The core was 84-75. More salt in the wound for the Buckeyes. Florida beat Ohio State for the national championship in football, too, this year.

Straight ahead on AMERICAN MORNING, questions about women and mammograms. Should every women who's over the age of 40 get a mammogram every year? The debate has been opened up again today. We'll take a look.

And a security leak at Radio Shack. Thousands of customer records found not shredded in a Texas dumpster.

And then we continue our series all this week, the truth about Jesus. We're live in the holy land. Coming up a stop in the garden of Gethsemane where it is said that Judas betrayed Jesus. You're watching AMERICAN MORNING. The most news in the morning is right here on CNN.


S. O'BRIEN: Welcome back everybody. All this week, we're taking a live look about the truth about Jesus. We're live from the holy land. Each day of this holy week we're visiting a different sacred site. Today CNN's Atika Shubert is live in the garden of Gethsemane where the bible says that Jesus prayed the world and then was betrayed by Judas. Atika, good morning.

ATIKA SHUBERT, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Good morning, Soledad. I'm actually in front of the church that is built over what is supposed to be the exact spot where Jesus is said to have prayed in the bible. According to the gospels, Jesus and his disciples came after the last supper to a place called Gethsemane, which means olive press and this olive grove here is believed to be that location and it is here that Jesus is said to have wrestled with his own death, the idea of his death, his own mortality.


SHUBERT (voice-over): Olive trees said it be nearly 2,000 years old. Silent witnesses perhaps to what the bible describes as Jesus' most difficult test and his ultimate betrayal here in the garden of Gethsemane. These stairs are believed to be one of the routes Jesus may have walked over the Mount of Olives to preach in the temple of Jerusalem in the week before his crucifixion. It is here in the garden of Gethsemane that Jesus is said it have wrestled with the prospect of his own death, gazing over the tombs of the Kidron (ph) valley.

FATHER JEROME MURPHY O'CONNOR, BIBLICAL SCHOLAR: I think the struggle was for self-mastery, that Jesus had been forced to think about his death as something imminent by the size of the great tombs in the valley. In other words, personality was coming apart under fear.

SHUBERT: The basilica of the Agony houses a rock, said to be the very one on which Jesus prayed, but historians say the exact spot remains unknown.

STEPHAN PFANN, PRESIDENT, HOLY LAND UNIVERSITY: The site of the garden Gethsemane fairly certain is much bigger than the size of that church. So, it could have happened anywhere in that garden.

SHUBERT: It is also here that Judas is said to have kissed Jesus, identifying him for arrest. But the only witnesses keep their secrets, whispering to those that come to visit, revealing nothing.


SHUBERT: Now, Soledad, as you can see behind me, this site is very popular. Pilgrims during holy week come here. Also tourists, lots of visitors. As a result, unfortunately, the garden of Gethsemane is actually gated. So you can't actually go into the garden, certainly not during peak hours, but you can still see inside, see some of those fantastic olive trees that are still growing.

S. O'BRIEN: It looks absolutely beautiful. Atika Shubert for us this morning, another fascinating trip, thanks, Atika. Our trip through the holy land continues tomorrow. We'll take a look at what could be the true tomb of Jesus and the church that's at the center of so much dispute. No fewer than three different faiths are fighting over it. That's tomorrow right here on AMERICAN MORNING.

M. O'BRIEN: It is spring in Washington and that means the hot air there is being put to good use for once, prompting the annual eye- popping cherry blossom blooming along the tidal basin on the Potomac River. The trees one of the best imports from Japan ever. Live pictures there as you see the tourists getting an early start out there. Hey, why aren't they watching AMERICAN MORNING. Anyway, they were initially a gift from the emperor in 1915. There's a follow on gift in the '60s and it's now a huge tourist extravaganza. 700,000 plus people show up to walk, as they were just walking along the basin. Here's what they're saying.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I'm just here to enjoy the day with my son, coming out to see some of the cherry blossoms that are coming out.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: They're over, they're around, they're under and just, you feel like you've seen the most beautiful one you can see.

(END VIDEO CLIP) M. O'BRIEN: Can't make it this week, don't worry, officials say there will be plenty of blooms around until the middle of the month, which is pretty much the cherry blossom festival time. It's nice when the festivals and the bloom sync up so nicely. Quarter of the hour, Chad Myers is here to tell us, it isn't always that way, is it?

CHAD MYERS, CNN METEOROLOGIST: No, 1990, it was March 15th the bloom and then the party started in April and the party was already over by the time the party started. It has been as late as about April 14th for the blooms to get into full bloom. They call full bloom or peak when 70 percent of all of the available buds on the Yoshino cherry trees are popped open and that's pretty much today and tomorrow. So, we're right in the peak. The peak weather will, in fact, be today. We're headed up to 80 degrees today; We'll call it 79, but it's close enough. People walking under these trees, under the branches. It is really a spectacular event here. Talking to a couple from Racine, Wisconsin, just a couple of minutes ago. She said the best part about this show is that in two weeks it's gone. If you're not here to see it now, you're just not going to see it for another full year. It is a fleeting moment. It's a fleeting party and festival for these guys, but they are enjoying the day today.

Here's the forecast for you today and we will see severe thunderstorms in the Midwest, probably the biggest storms we've seen for a while with the potential for tornadoes, all the way from Chicago through St. Louis, into Kentucky and even into Texarkana. That's where the large hail, damaging winds and tornadoes will be. The problem is that weather will move over DC tomorrow maybe knocking down a few of these petals but so far not all of them we don't think. The petals are still pretty good stuck to the trees at this point. Back to you guys.

S. O'BRIEN: All right, Chad, thank you.

Connection between age and autism coming up. New evidence about when parents start to have a family and a child's chances for autism rather.

Plus, some new guidelines challenge everything women have been told about mammograms. We'll tell you what you need to know straight ahead on AMERICAN MORNING.


M. O'BRIEN: Health headlines this morning, a new warning out on autism. Doctors saying older parents are at greater risk for having an autistic child. For parents 40 and older, women had a 30 percent greater risk and men a 50 percent greater risk compared to people aged 25 to 29.

Some news about depression. Could doctors be over diagnosing it? New research says some people just suffering stress like from divorce or losing a job may be diagnosed as being depressed, but their feelings are really normally for the stress and they may not need antidepressants. Those drugs are a $12 billion a year business in America. And one more reason to keep your weight under control. Obese and over weight people are 50 percent more likely to get asthma than people of normal weight. Researchers noted the connection but didn't say obesity causes asthma. They do say the extra strain on the respiratory system aggravates the condition.

S. O'BRIEN: There's some new guidelines out this morning about mammograms. A physician group now says you can wait until you're 50 maybe before you need to get a mammogram. The American Cancer Society disputes that. They say, no, that's not the case. We're paging Dr. Gupta this morning for a little clarification. He's in Atlanta. Sanjay, good morning to you. Who exactly -- why would you not get a mammogram?

DR. SANJAY GUPTA, CNN CORRESPONDENT: That's a good question. The concern about mammograms is that, first of all, you could have radiation exposure, probably pretty limited risk there. But more concerning is that you might find things that aren't cancer. They're just normal findings, if you will, but that might lead to lots of biopsies. That might lead to lots of worry and anxiety.

First of all Soledad, these are not blankets or guidelines or recommendations. Lots of different physician groups out there weighing in here and they don't always agree on things. Like you said, the American Cancer Society sort of sticking to their guns on this, saying mammograms every one to two years or every one year even starting at age 40. What the American College of Physicians has done is looked at lots of data over the last several years and tried to make some consensus recommendations based on that. What they have found, basically, is that the benefits might be challenged a bit with regards to mammograms in a certain age group and that age group is women 40 to 49. Instead of having this one size fits all thing, they should discuss their specific risk for breast cancer every one to two years. That may lead to a mammogram. It may even led to an MRI scan, but it may lead to nothing as well, again according to his one organization.

Also, the doctors as part of the whole guidance should inform women age 40 to 49 of the benefits finding cancer early and the potential risks. Soledad, as I was thinking about this, something came to mind that comes up in medicine a lot and that is that what is good for the public health for people in general may not be good for individuals. So doctors may say, look, it's hard to say, 40 to 49 benefits versus risks. For my patients, I'm still going to recommend the mammograms and it does get confusing and controversial to some extent.

S. O'BRIEN: Let me ask you a question. Part of the problem, the risks are all the radiation that you get when you have a mammogram. So why not say to your patients, look, get an MRI, fewer risks. Why not? Is it not as good?

GUPTA: No, it's expensive. That really comes down to the issue when you talk about public health screening, are you going to start ordering $1,000 to $2,000 tests on every women basically 40 to 49 or even older than that. It's a costs issue. They are certain tests that we know that are better. They may not be the best screening tests in terms of all the criteria for screening tests, cost, effectiveness, all of that. I think it's just, frankly, just a cost issue with MRIs.

S. O'BRIEN: So for women like me who are 40 and older, I just had my first mammogram do I now say to my doctor, listen, I'd rather have an MRI and avoid the radiation. Do I just go ahead and keep getting a mammogram, even though there is that risk from the radiation in the mammogram? I mean, what do I do?

GUPTA: Again, talk to your doctor, which I know you don't like to necessarily hear, but talk to your doctor about your specific risks I think is important. Again, we are so used to having a one size fits all with regard to a lot of these screening tests. It doesn't surprise me in fact that we're starting to move more with all that we know about medicine and al that we know about the diagnostics of some of these cancers, we're not moving to more of an individualized sort of protocol which is (INAUDIBLE). And also, let me just address the MRI radiation issue. Again, I think the biggest concern is not so much the radiation. It is a concern, but the bigger concern is that you're going to start finding all sorts of things and then you're going to be like as a woman, what do I do about that? Is that cancer? Is it not cancer? Should I get a biopsy? They worry about it. They're anxious and it has been shown that we get a lot of unnecessary biopsies, biopsies that are completely normal. And can we cut down on those numbers and save women a lot of worry and anxiety. I think that's part of what goes into these recommendations, as well.

S. O'BRIEN: You're a doctor I like to talk to, Sanjay. Sanjay Gupta for us. If you would like to page Dr. Gupta on this issue or any other health story, go right to our website Thank you Sanjay. Miles.

M. O'BRIEN: Coming up in the program, fire in a Philadelphia building forcing a woman to jump from her window. I think we just saw it there. We'll tell you how she's doing.

And that lightning fast train ride in France this morning. Our Jim Bittermann was on board. We'll ask him what it was like. You're watching AMERICAN MORNING. The most news in the morning right here on CNN.


M. O'BRIEN: Bubble? What bubble? It is still a seller's market here in Manhattan. The average price of a Manhattan apartment is now about $1.28 million. Big bonuses on Wall Street keeping the demand and the prices up. Sales volume was up 12 percent first quarter. One brokerage says prices are up 6 percent and much more than that in the higher bracketed apartments, the four and five bedrooms.

S. O'BRIEN: I believe it. There is no bubble here in New York City.

CARRIE LEE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: You still see construction all over the place, high rise, high-end apartments going up all over town.

M. O'BRIEN: I am just breathing a sigh of relief. Thank you very much. Best news.

S. O'BRIEN: You feel good about the apartment you overspent for a couples years ago right.

M. O'BRIEN: I feel like a genius, yes.

ITunes is in trouble with the EU. The European commission says Apple's online music stores are hindering music sales. Carrie Lee is here to explain.

LEE: That's right. The way it works in Europe right now if you're an iTunes customer in say Germany or France, you can only buy songs through iTunes in that country and at the price set in that country. The prices do vary by country. So the European commission is now complaining about this and they are sending formal charges to major record companies, as well as Apple. Now, Apple says we wanted to offer a Europe wide single store all along, but that the record companies told it that its hands were legally tied. So, probably not the last we've heard on this story. This is totally unrelated by the way to the EMI Apple story we did yesterday. You were on vacation.