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BBC Journalist Released ; Glasgow Suicide Note Found; Pakistan Violent Standoff; Scooter Liberty Probation; Kansas Crude Oil Spill; Ghoulish Coincidence; Chocolate Study; Tuberculosis Scare; Senator Joe Biden; Hilton Hotels; Poolside Safety
Aired July 04, 2007 - 08:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
BETTY NGUYEN, CNN HOST: Well, we are following a breaking news story out of the Middle East. The 114-day ordeal of a BBC reporter Alan Johnston, is over. Yes, early this morning he was released in Gaza, thin and pale, but obviously thrilled to be out of what he called a living nightmare.
These are the latest pictures of him at the British embassy. Johnston was held by the army of Islam bound up, his life threatened. He's in Jerusalem right now talking about how he got through it.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ALAN JOHNSTON, FREED BBC JOURNALIST: The first month, I was in a place where I could see the sun and -- but for the last three months I was in a room where the shutters were always drawn and so I had no -- no sun, I couldn't see the sun at all and that was depressing. That was the last -- basically three months since I saw the sun. Although in the last -- the very last place, the last two days, I could see it again.
Maybe it will be a while before I really know quite how I've been affected by this thing, but at the moment I feel well and I think physically and mentally as I can really kind of expect to. You know, it's a big effort to keep your mind together really in those situations. And as I say, maybe I won't know for sure for a while, but I feel very good at the moment. It's fantastic actually to have left Gaza.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
NGUYEN: Well, Johnston also revealed that his captors let him listen to the BBC on the radio. And one of his colleagues told us in the last hour they made a point of reading messages from the listeners around the world, on the air, just so Johnston could hear how much there was out there.
And CNN's Ben Wedeman knows Johnson personally, actually talked with him this morning. Ben joins us now live from Jerusalem.
Got to ask you Ben, how did he sound?
BEN WEDEMAN, CNN NEWS CORRESPONDENT: Betty, he sounded great. He really sounded happy and excited and thrilled to be finally free after this horrendous ordeal. And I must say, he seems to have held up remarkably well, given the circumstances. He told me, it was a nightmare and there were times when he didn't think he would ever be let out, but low and behold, here he is, finally back among us.
I'm hoping to see him in about an hour at a press conference he'll be holding here in Jerusalem. But as I said, he sounded great, considering what he's been through -- Betty.
NGUYEN: And he also had a lot of praise for Hamas. Talk to us about that.
WEDEMAN: Well, what he's seen -- nobody knows Gaza better than Alan -- is that since Hamas took over in Gaza on the 14th of June and he was, as you said, able to follow the news very closely through this radio, his captors gave him, and what is clear is that Hamas was instrumental in winning his freedom. And there's a variety of reasons for that.
One of them, of course, is they're looking for the P.R. bonus of winning the freedom of a Western journalist, but there's another level to all of this and that is that the clan that was holding him, the Dagmoush clan that lives in central Gaza City, is one of the main obstacle to Hamas' taking over the Gaza Strip in its entirety and Alan was sort of an impediment for them to really go after this clan.
Now, also, the group that was holding Alan, the so-called Army of Islam, which comes out of this clan, many Hamas officials, not just Hamas officials, but independent observers, say it was really the thin end of al Qaeda's wedge in Gaza and Hamas was not ready to tolerate al Qaeda coming into Gaza. Not necessarily because they've signed on to the global war on terror, but simply because out of pure Machiavellian reasons, they don't want a political challenge from that direction. So it's a very complicated situation and it's not simply because Alan is in some way sympathetic to Hamas. He's a realistic journalist and knows the situation there very well.
NGUYEN: Yeah, very complicated, indeed. Ben Wedeman joining us live this morning from Jerusalem. What a great day. He's finally free. Thank you, Ben.
JOHN ROBERTS, CNN NEWS ANCHOR: Breaking news in the U.K. terror plot to tell you this morning. Sources are reported to CNN that suicide note was found a following the attack in Glasgow. CNN's international security correspondent Paula Newton is following all of the developments this morning, joins us now live from London.
Paula, do we have any information on what was actually in this note or just the existence of it?
PAULA NEWTON, CNN INTERNATIONAL SECURITY CORRESPONDENT: The existence of it. It is characterized as a typical suicide note and the fact that the language was unequivocal, meaning there was no doubt as to what the suspects were up to and what they hoped to accomplish. Also we have learned that those two suspects in Glasgow, before that attack, were carrying their passports. That is the same as what happened during the July 7 bombings here in London. John, normally, someone trying to engage in a suicide attack does want the recognition and wants to be clearly identified and so they will make sure they're carrying something like a passport -- John.
ROBERTS: Paula, a question that was being asked yesterday is was this a plot that was hatched there in Britain or were these people dispatched to Britain, perhaps by al Qaeda, to pull this thing off? Is there any more information on that front?
NEWTON: Very interesting, today that in terms of some of the suspects coming up, apparently, on a list that the domestic spy agency MI-5 had means that what is looking more likely is one or two on the orders of al Qaeda in Iraq, came here to infiltrate another group of medical professionals, people who had been here already. And that is looking like the most likely scenario, but people still saying here that this does look like it has all of the hallmarks of an al Qaeda operation, some orchestration going on from al Qaeda -- John.
ROBERTS: And thankfully they didn't have all of the experience of al Qaeda in Iraq because, typically, those suicide bombs go off. Paula Newton for us, on Greater Marlborough Street for us this morning. Paula, thanks.
NGUYEN: Also, new this morning, there are signs of progress at a violent standoff in Pakistan. Look at this, nearly 700 radical Islamic students have come out of a mosque in Islamabad and surrendered. Thousands more still remain inside. Twelve people were killed yesterday during the confrontation.
Scooter Liberty's two-year probation might be lifted. The judge who sentenced him saying that probation normally follows a jail term and since President Bush commuted Libby's jail term the judge now wants new arguments from lawyers on whether Libby should be on probation. President Bush says he hasn't ruled out a full pardon.
And thousands of gallons of spilled crude oil moving with flooded rivers in Kansas are now within just a few miles of a lake that serves a source of drinking water for people in Tulsa, Oklahoma. Emergency workers say water supplies are not in immediate danger since most of the oil is still just floating on the surface.
And it was all a ghoulish coincidence. At least that's what a Connecticut teen is saying about a Wikipedia entry about wrestler Chris Benoit. It turns out that 19-year-old Stanford resident changed Benoit's Wikipedia profile to reference to his wife before her body had been discovered. Police say he didn't know about the murder/suicide that left Benoit, his wife, plus their 7-year-old son dead.
ROBERTS: Seven minutes after the hour and time now to check in on some of the other big stories with our AMERICAN MORNING team of correspondents. Chocolate lovers celebrate because today really may be your independence Day. CNN medical correspondent, Elizabeth Cohen is live in Atlanta.
What's the good news -- Elizabeth.
ELIZABETH COHEN, CNN NEWS CORRESPONDENT: Well, John, I'm going to tell you this is going to be the happiest, yet the most disappointing segment you'll probably do on AMERICAN MORNING all day today. The good news for chocolate lovers is that yet another study has found that eating dark chocolate can lower your blood pressure. Not a ton, two or three points, but you know what that's probably enough to make some sort of maybe perhaps small health difference for a lot of people.
However, here's the disappointing news. Guess how much chocolate people ate to get that benefit? I'm going to show you right here. This right here is how much chocolate they ate. They ate 30 calories worth of chocolate. That is a kiss and a half. So we have that right here. This is all they ate. They had one and a half kisses. I don't know if they had kisses, but this is the amount they had. That is not much. The concern if you eat more your weight's going to go up so your blood pressure will go up.
ROBERTS: Hey, every little bit helps, though, even if it's a couple of kisses. Elizabeth thanks very much.
Millions of people are going to be taking a dip in the pool today. Greg Hunter is poolside in Gladstone, New Jersey. He's got some advice for parents.
What are they talking about -- Greg.
GREG HUNGER, CNN NEWS CORRESPONDENT: Well John, I'm poolside here in Gladstone. And you know, if you just listen just for a second. It's really quiet out here. You can hear the birds singing and you can hear, you know, some planes off in the distance. Well, peace and quiet when you're talking about a pool for a toddler is not your friend. We'll talk about how you can protect your toddlers around the pool this Fourth of July and this summer.
Back to you -- John.
ROBERTS: Look forward to that. Greg, thanks very much. Got some good tips coming up.
Dangerous heat and a storm watch for the holiday. Rob Marciano at the CNN Weather Center.
What are you looking at -- Rob.
ROBERTS: All of those years of drought and now they're saying turn off the water. Rob, thanks very much. Talk to you soon -- Betty.
NGUYEN: John, listen to this. It doesn't appear it was the extensively drug resistant form of tuberculosis after all. Doctors say Andrew Speaker has a more treatable form of TB, but still, he should not have been traveling. His case sent off an international health scare and last night on AC360 Speaker and his wife railed against the Centers for Disease Control for how they handled the whole thing.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ANDREW SPEAKER, MISDIAGNOSED WITH MOST DANGEROUS TB: Well, I think they owe an apologies to the people that they scared. It just -- I know they do dual testing here where when they're running a test to see whether or not something has tuberculosis or what kind, they run two at the same time to make sure the results are correct. They created a huge international panic. They scared, you know, millions of people around the world.
SARAH SPEAKER, ANDREW SPEAKER'S WIFE: I say, too. I know I was just reading, MDR-2 is something it is something that we're definitely not something you're happy you have and I know it's difficult to treat. You know, MDR there war half a million cases in 2004. I don't know the latest year, but you know, I think it's the term XDR is what -- is what scared people to such a degree and, also, because the diagnosis Andrew was put on some very scary drugs, I mean, some drugs with some very awful side effects.
A. SPEAKER: That I wouldn't have been put on.
S. SPEAKER: That he wouldn't of been put on.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
NGUYEN: MDR-TB is treatable with drugs and because doctors in Denver caught the mistake Speaker will likely not have to undergo lung surgery.
ROBERTS: No holiday for the presidential candidates today. Many of them are campaigning in Iowa, but Democrat Bill Richardson is working the crowds in the Granite State, New Hampshire. New polls have Mitt Romney as No. 1 among Republicans there. CNN's Mary Snow is live with us now from Manchester, New Hampshire. So, Richardson's pretty much got the state all to himself today -- Mary.
MARY SNOW, CNN NEWS CORRESPONDENT: Absolutely, John and he's welcoming that. You know, as a -- considered a second-tier candidate in the Democratic presidential field, this is exactly what a candidate, like Bill Richardson, needs. And how do you get noticed? Make some noise. And that's exactly what he did last night at the Greenville Pots and Pans Parade.
This is a tradition dating back to the first world war. And this is part of his attempt to really get out there, talk one-on-one with voters, press the flash and he has the spotlight all to himself, here in New Hampshire, among Democratic contenders. And this has really been the challenge for him is to break out among the candidates who are in the top tier and taking a look even at the money.
Bill Richardson raising $7 million for this past quarter which was an improvement from the first quarter, but when you put it into context, Barack Obama, who led the pack, had raised more than four times what Bill Richardson is making, so this is really the challenge for him.
Also one of the things he's been trying to do here to get his message out, he's been aggressive in taking out campaign ads here, and also in Iowa. And you know, talking to voters about the money and the polls, they say, you know, they keep an open mind and they look at 2004 when Howard Dean had been doing so well among Democrats, but then ultimately lost the primary here -- John.
ROBERTS: Mary Snow for us in Manchester. Mary, thanks very much.
And coming up, Senator Joe Biden is going to join us live from the campaign trail in Iowa. That's coming up next. There he is.
On AMERICAN MORNING.
ROBERTS: Coming up to 60 minutes after the hour, Here at AMERICAN MORNING, we've been taking a look at the presidential candidates from both major parties to ask them about the defining moments in their political careers, what makes them stand out from the rest of the pack. Joining me this morning and taking a quick break from his campaigning in the state of Iowa, Democratic presidential hopeful Joe Biden, he's with us from Des Moines this morning.
Joe, good to see you.
SEN JOE BIDEN (D-DE), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Good to see. We'll ask you about your defining moment in just a second. But first of all I wanted to get your thoughts in the Libby commutation.
BIDEN: Well, it's another example of this president abusing power, John. Look. The reason they put in the Constitution, the power of the president to commute a sentence or to pardon is to right an injustice. What was the injustice here? This is a guy that committed perjury, he was put in jail by a federal prosecutor as a Republican, a Republican judge sentenced him and the president goes ahead and commuted him. It's just -- you know, he has no sense of the American sensibility. It's flat -- it kind of blows my mind that he would go ahead and do this at this stage of his presidency.
ROBERTS: Now, the claim by President Bush is, of course, that the sentence is handed down by the judge and as requested by Patrick Fitzgerald, the prosecutor, was excessive. Let me take you back to 1998 when Republicans in the House were moving toward articles of impeachment against President Clinton for lying under oath. You said at a speech to the National Press Club, November 18, "He has already been sentenced to a hundred yours of same in the history books, which is not an insignificant penalty."
So President Bush is saying, well, listen, I commuted the sentence, but Libby is left with a not insignificant penalty, he's got a felony conviction on his record and has to pay a quarter of a million dollar fine.
BIDEN: Well, I think it's a whole lot different here. Here you have a case where this involves national security. One of the reasons for the sentence, under the sentencing guidelines, which the president says he supports, was an order to get Libby to talk about more about what, in fact, has happened and what the surrounding elements just beyond him. Now this, obviously, Libby's not going to say anything about anything at all. And here you have a national security issue that the guy gets no time.
Look, it's not even so much whether or not, you know, he should or shouldn't have the time or the sentencing is too long. The president of the United States, at this moment, communicates to the whole world and all of the American people that one of his cronies, that is going to get a jail sentence for committing perjury, he's not going to let him go to jail. I mean it's kind of basic. It's not even complicated. The American public (INAUDIBLE), they know it smells bad and it doesn't make the president look good and it diminishes the country.
ROBERTS: Well Joe, let's move ahead and let's talk now about the topic de jour, which is what defines you as a candidate. What is your defining political moment and how does it separate you from the others in the field?
BIDEN: Well, I don't know how it separates me from the others. But I think my defining moment as a candidate is that I've been through an awful lot. I've been, in terms of my personal life, my personal health, the losses that I've had and I think the defining element of me is I get back up. My dad used to have an expression. He says, "Success is not measured by whether you get knocked down, it's how quickly you get back up." And I've done exactly what I've said in public life. I'm not saying others haven't. And I think the defining element of me is that I do what I say and I've been able to get things done.
ROBERTS: You know, the fund raising numbers, of course, just came in. Barack Obama leads the pack with about $31 million. You trail the pack with 2.4. I know you've got very, very low overhead, but can you stay in the race?
BIDEN: Oh, yeah. No, look, John. I can stay in the race. We have a full-blown staff out here. I don't have to have a 50-state strategy, here. I have a four-state strategy. We'll be able to raise enough money to keep the best organizations in the first four primary states. And you know, as well as I do, John, if I do as well as I hope I will do, and that is exceed expectations here in Iowa, win New Hampshire, I'll be able to raise all of the money I need going to those early states.
John Kerry was four and five, respectively, in Iowa and New Hampshire, 10 days before those races, he won both of them and he raised I think $57 million on the Internet and 11 days after he won New Hampshire. Now, granted, it's exactly right -- and that's what this is going to be.
Put it another way, let's say you have $100 million and you come in third in Iowa, you just have a nice bank account!
ROBERTS: And got to give at all back, too.
BIDEN: Which wouldn't be bad. Wouldn't be bad!
ROBERTS: That's not a bad bank account. Senator Biden, thanks very much for joining us. Good luck, today. Hey, thanks an awful lot, John.
ROBERTS: Happy Fourth of July.
BIDEN: Happy Fourth of July.
NGUYEN: And speaking of money, the announcement of one of the biggest deals tops our "Quick Hits."
Hilton Hotels will be sold to the Blackstone Group, which is an investment company, for $26 billion. Hilton owns Doubletree and Embassy Suites, Hampton Inn, now combined with Blackstone's other hotels, the company will control 600,000 hotel rooms worldwide.
There's also some new numbers that show this has been the worst year for flight delays since the government started keeping track. Cancellations are a big part of the problem and shot up 80 percent compared to last year.
And on a hot summer day there is nothing better than a dip in the pool, but there is danger out there, too. And Greg Hunter is live poolside to tell us how to keep those kids safe, that's next on AMERICAN MORNING.
NGUYEN: It only takes a second for a young child to slip out of sight and if you're near the water, it's all it takes to bring a disaster. More than 375 children drown each year in swimming pools. CNN's Greg Hunter is poolside to show us how you can save a life. And he joins us this morning.
Greg, it can be pretty simple, you need to know the tools to use.
HUNTER: You do, Betty. And you know what, I'm at, as you said, out in New Jersey. It's really beautiful and peaceful out here. There's a nature reserve behind us. Listen to the sounds you hear. You can hear the birds singing. It's quiet. That's the same sound you hear when you're toddler drowns in your pool and you never hear them do this. But if you have a pool alarm, you would hear them. The guy we're about to meet wishes he had one.
MICHELLE SCALZI, ALEXIS' MOTHER: I was more worried when we were playing in front that she would get hit by a car or something, you know? I never -- never in a million years thought this would happen.
HUNTER (voice-over): Mike and Michelle Scalzi, whose lives changed in an instant, last June, when their 2-year-old daughter Alexis wandered out alone to the backyard pool and drowned.
MIKE SCALZI, ALEXIS' FATHER: There's no words to describe how we feel. The pain is just -- the pain is too much.
HUNTER: Her father tried to revive Alexis, but was never trained in CPR. Now, the Scalzis are raising awareness about pool safety. The importance of learning CPR, and installing pool alarms. Here's how they work. When a weight of 15 pounds or more falls into the pool, like this doll, a sensor triggers a high pitched sound.
Other safety measures to consider, an automatic cover and a fence around the pool with a self-latching gate. And even an alarm on the back door, signaling that a child has gone outside. But parents still must keep a sharp eye out, and remember, drowning can happen quickly.
JULIE VALLESE, CPSC: Drowning is a silent act. Parents often think that they're going to hear screaming or splashing or cries for help. But that's not actually true.
HUNTER: Mike, who was home alone that day, had only taken his eyes off Alexis for a few minutes.
MIKE SCALZI: Our goal is to keep Alexis' memory alive and try to prevent another children from drowning.
HUNTER (on camera): Should have had a pool alarm?
MIKE SCALZI: We -- we wouldn't be talking today.
HUNTER (voice-over): Michelle is now pregnant. The Scalzis don't know when they'll be ready to roll back the tarp and use their back pool again.
HUNTER: Custom Pool Safely, the people that demonstrated this particular safety devices, it goes on the pool like this. They say they're going to donate a few dozen to Lexi's Legacy, to the charity out there. But the people at Lexi's Legacy, the Scalzi's say, hey listen, they need cash donations to keep this thing going. You can logon to firstname.lastname@example.org. They have a bank (INAUDIBLE), the whole deal, they have somebody handing the money, no them, and they are asking for your donations if you want to save some kids lives -- Betty.
NGUYEN: Greg, it is a very important tool. And since you last filed a report on this story about a month ago, what kind of response have you seen?
HUNTER: He has given away, or his charity has given away about 4,000 pool alarms. No doubt they're going to save some kids. They had people calling as far away, remember, he's in upstate New York, as far away as Alaska to send them a pool alarm. You do have to pay for shipping. but they retail for something like $200, this one is $500 and you pay for shipping, something like $15 for a pool alarm to save your kids' lives. So, that's not a lot of money if you're talking about your child -- Betty.
No, it is a very small price to pay. Greg Hunter, we appreciate your time this morning. Good information. Thank you.
ROBERTS: We're following breaking news out of Britain, this morning. Investigators say they found a suicide note and passports from the Glasgow Airport attackers. We're live with the latest on the investigation coming up next on AMERICAN MORNING.
NGUYEN: Starting off with this picture from Boston today. What a beautiful day on this Fourth of July. What you're looking at is across the Charles River at Cambridge as people will no doubt come out to celebrate the fireworks on this Independence Day.
ROBERTS: A very pretty day.
NGUYEN: It is beautiful. And it is Wednesday, July 4th. Happy Fourth of July everybody. I'm Betty Nguyen in for Kiran today.
ROBERTS: And good morning to you. I'm John Roberts. Thanks for being with us. We're following a breaking story from the Middle East right now. The 114-long day ordeal of BBC reporter Alan Johnston is over. Early this morning he was released in Gaza. Johnston was being held by the Army of Islam. Bound up, his life threatened, forced to make hostage videos. He is in Jerusalem right now talking about how he got through it.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ALAN JOHNSTON, FREED BBC REPORTER: The first month, I was in a place where I could see the sun and -- but for the last three months I was in a room where the shutters were always drawn and so I had no -- no sun. I couldn't see the sun at all. And that was depressing. That was the last -- basically three months since I saw the sun. Although in the last -- the very last place, the last two days, I could see it again.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ROBERTS: Johnston also revealed that BBC Radio was his lifeline in captivity. He called them this morning to thank them. We talked with the BBC's world news editor earlier on AMERICAN MORNING.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JON WILLIAMS, BBC WORLD NEWS EDITOR: He called me as he was crossing over from the border from Erez into Israel. And he told me that for the best part of three months, he had been able to hear what we had been doing on his behalf, on the BBC World Service, by listening to a radio that he had managed to get a hold of. And for us, that was a vindication of our policy to keep his name in the public eye and make sure that everybody remembered that Alan Johnston was abducted in Gaza.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ROBERTS: We've heard from Alan Johnston's parents this morning. They talked with reporters from their home in Scotland and said they never gave up hope that they would see their son again and described what it was like to hear his voice on the phone.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GRAHAM JOHNSTON, FREED JOURNALIST'S FATHER: It's a wonderful morning, I can't tell you. We got the phone call late last night from the BBC. And we're absolutely overjoyed. It has been 114 days of a living nightmare. And just to hear his voice. He telephoned us. There was a lot of noise in the background and I think he has been jostled a lot. And all he said was, hello, dad. And I said, hello, son, how are you? Are you all right? He says, I'm a hundred percent. And then the phone was cut. So that's all we've had from him so far but we've seen him on the box and it's just incredible. It's been a long 114 days.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ROBERTS: It truly is an Independence Day for Alan Johnston and we're expecting to hear more from him. He will have a news conference within the hour and we will be carrying that here on the box.
NGUYEN: Well, to London now. And breaking news in the U.K. terror plot. As we have been reporting, sources have told CNN that a suicide note and passports were found after the attack on the airport in Glasgow. CNN's international security correspondent Paula Newton is following all of these developments for us this morning and she joins us live from London.
Paula, have you been payable to determine or get at least any information as to what might have been in that suicide note?
PAULA NEWTON, CNN INTERNATIONAL SECURITY CORRESPONDENT: What we've been told is that the language contained in that note is unequivocal, meaning there can be no debate as to what their intention was in terms of launching that attack at Glasgow Airport. Also very interesting that they had their passports on them before trying to launch that attack.
We saw, during the July 7th bombings, two years ago, that those suspects also had their -- carrying their passports. It really is a template for these kind of attacks, meaning people want recognition. They want to be identified.
Investigators now really looking at this as perhaps al Qaeda- directed plot. One or two of the suspects here as ring leaders trying to then recruit and radicalize several other medical professionals -- Betty.
NGUYEN: Yes. Speaking of the those medical professionals, you know, we've learned that many of those suspects are doctors and, in light of that, we're getting word this morning that the Prime Minister Gordon Brown has ordered a review to Britain's state-run health service. What can you tell us about that?
NEWTON: Well, of course, it is something that the government would have been under pressure to do when it came to light how desperate the National Health Service here was for doctors and the fact that although they did criminal background checks, that really some of the checking perhaps was not as thorough as it should have been.
I also want to point out to our viewers that getting a work permit here in Britain is much easier than trying to actually acquire one in the United States. And also you can acquire a work visa for as long as five years and then apply for citizenship so it's entirely possible that these doctors were on a five-year work visa, after which they would of applied to be British citizens.
And I think that's what is very worrying here. It is a bit of a domestic issue in the sense of the shortage of doctors, something all of us can relate to around the world, but now the government asking for a review and wondering how they actually vet those kinds of candidates into the system -- Betty.
NGUYEN: CNN's Paula Newton joining us live from London today. Paula, thank you.
ROBERTS: We're learning more about the suspects in that they may have been specially recruited by al Qaeda while living in the Middle East. Peter Bergen is a terrorist analyst for CNN. He joins us now live from Seville in Spain.
And, Peter, this idea that every member of this suspected cell was either a doctor or a member of the medical community, does this represent an entirely new type of threat?
PETER BERGEN, CNN TERRORIST ANALYST: No. I don't think so, because, in fact, as you know, Ayman al-Zawahiri, for instance, is the number two in al Qaeda. He's a surgeon. So the idea of it, somehow doctors -- it would be surprising that doctors are involved in this kind of conspiracy to me is not so surprising.
In fact, I look back at some of the worst anti-terrorist incidents in the West in the last decade or so and found that the terrorists involved had tended to go to college and the two things they tended to study were engineering and medicine. So the fact that doctors involved on the surface, it's surprising since, after all, doctors are supposed to preserve human life, not destroy it.
But in practice, we've seen in terrorist movements not simply just al Qaeda but in other terrorist movements in the past that the sorts of people who engage in these activities tend to be pretty educated and being a doctor is, obviously, an example of somebody who is pretty educated.
ROBERTS: Peter, there are competing theories about whether or not this group was organized outside of Britain and dispatched to the U.K. by al Qaeda or if they organized once they were inside the U.K. What are you thinking about on that front? BERGEN: You know, John, I think it's all rather puzzling now. I mean, you know, when we talked about this two or three days ago, we were really thinking there would be a strong lead back to Pakistan and perhaps some al Qaeda direction. You know, it's still early days.
We may find -- I think that the end of the day, whoever led this cell, we will find will have trained in some shape or form with an al Qaeda or an al Qaeda affiliate perhaps in Pakistan, because I don't think that -- even though the execution of all of this was pretty amateurish, the actual plan itself, if it succeeded, was quite ambitious. So I don't think this was necessarily something these guys thought up on a weekend.
ROBERTS: So the question people are asking in this country, is the United States at risk of a similar plot? Some counterterrorism officials look at this and say, hey, this could be a blueprint for what might happen in the future in the United States?
BERGEN: Well, certainly, we've seen plots in the United States, but they've been much more amateurish than the one that we saw in Glasgow and London. I mean, the kinds of things that we see in the United States, generally speaking, have been really people planning to do things but without having necessarily things like propane gas cylinders that they've acquired or trying to conduct suicide operations.
I mean, it's plausible that it would happen in the United States, but the threat level in the United States is much, much lower than it is in the United Kingdom, where we are seeing these kind of things. You know, the plan to bring down 10 American airliners last summer.
ROBERTS: Right. Although I think perhaps more they were talking about the idea -- I think, Peter, perhaps they were talking more about the idea of a group of professionals coming into the United States on visas and infiltrating the cells here.
BERGEN: Oh, I see. Yes. I think that's pretty hard, you know, because the United States government has made it quite hard for people to come to the country. They don't really have the kind of radicalized Muslim population into which they might be able to draw support as they do in Britain. I think it's just a much harder target.
ROBERTS: Peter Bergen for us, from Seville in Spain this morning. Peter, thanks. Good to see you.
NGUYEN: The state of Illinois is starting mandatory brain scans for its National Guard. Your quick hits right now for you. All soldiers returning from Iraq or Afghanistan will be required to get one and the state hopes to detect problems that might otherwise go undiagnosed.
And movie night comes to Gitmo. Yes, detainees at the detention center in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, will soon be provided with more recreation options, including movie night. Some of the detainees are also being allowed to watch soccer matches.
NGUYEN: (voice-over): Coming up on AMERICAN MORNING, from combat boots to high heels.
SGT. JILL STEVENS, MISS UTAH: I am representing the nation, not only as a soldier now, but now as a title holder in the Miss America organization as Miss Utah.
NGUYEN: We hear from the newly crowned Miss Utah on the delicate balance of being a soldier and now competing for Miss America, next on AMERICAN MORNING.
NGUYEN: From combat helmet to tiara. Sergeant Jill Stevens (ph) is a member of the Utah National Guard and will represent Utah in the Miss America Pageant in January. Sergeant Stevens served in Afghanistan during Operation Enduring Freedom. And on this Fourth of July, she joins me live now from Salt Lake City.
Sergeant Stevens, Miss Utah, good morning.
STEVENS: Good morning.
NGUYEN: You know, I want to talk to you about the fact that you spent about a year in Afghanistan.
NGUYEN: What was that mission like there? What did you do?
STEVENS: Oh, there was many things. My one main duty was to be a medic for the soldiers, to pull support whenever they got sick or maybe they injured themselves during combat with shrapnel wounds from the rocket attacks.
But on the side I took up different activities to help keep my mind busy and focused on being in a combat zone. And so actually, I became a morale booster and found different projects to help boost the morale of soldiers around me.
NGUYEN: You know, we are looking at pictures of you right now in country, a lot of them with children -- women and children around you. Is there a specific memory that sticks out in your mind when you look back at that time, your service in Afghanistan?
STEVENS: Absolutely. It would probably be my last mission in the village Jegdalek (ph). It was hard because as I was leaving, my girls that I became so close to in that village, I was torn if they remembered or knew that I was going back to America at this time. And as I would turn around, there they were just waving as big as they could and blowing kisses and showing me "I love you" signs, things I taught them. And I tried not to cry because I was like, soldiers don't cry. But then the next scene, I saw my new friends wave an American flag in honor of what we were doing for them, and I will never forget that. And especially a good reminder today on the Fourth of July that -- of what we are doing for the country over there and for those people.
NGUYEN: Absolutely. You know, men and women are serving as we speak, as people prepare for their celebrations here in the United States. You know, you spent a lot of time over there. Yet you're still committed to the military. How long are you going to be serving?
STEVENS: At least a few more years. I love the life of a soldier. I've been in almost six-and-a-half years now. And I love every minute of it. But -- the adventures that it gives me. And it's going to be hard to say good-bye. I now I won't be in it for the rest of my life because I know I'll need to be a mother someday down the road. But...
NGUYEN: And you got to be Miss Utah headed to the Miss America Pageant.
STEVENS: Absolutely. I've got to represent my state.
NGUYEN: What made you want to go from combat boots to high heels and a tiara?
STEVENS: You know, I actually wanted to do something finally feminine in my life. And someone brought it across me that, hey, you should run for Miss Southern Utah University. And I just laughed. I was like, excuse me, I wear combat boots, I don't do heels. But then they explained to me what these girls do, that they truly make a difference. They create organizations and move people to action. And that was like a light bulb moment for me and I became intrigued ever since.
NGUYEN: And your platform is emergency preparedness. What do you want to say to the men and women today who are serving this country out in countries all across the world who are not having the hot dogs and fireworks but instead have a mission on their minds?
STEVENS: You know, just to keep smiling, to keep plugging away. It's tough. But to hopefully feel the support that we have for them. It's kind of hard. But I think that if they truly just keep focused on their mission and know that they're doing a lot of good over there, that that helped me. It's just to keep smiling and always plug away at it.
NGUYEN: And you're going to have to keep smiling because you have a pageant to get ready for, coming up, the Miss America Pageant. That is in, what, Las Vegas in 2008?
STEVENS: Yes, around January time, but they haven't set a date yet.
NGUYEN: All right. Well, best of luck to you, Sergeant Jill Stevens..
STEVENS: Hey, thank you. Thank you so much.
NGUYEN: Miss Utah, thank you very much, happy Fourth of July.
STEVENS: Happy Fourth to you as well.
ROBERTS: So amazing to see a beauty queen out there in the wild with no makeup, no blow dryer.
NGUYEN: But she was so beautiful, wasn't he?
ROBERTS: Well, it's raw beauty.
NGUYEN: The best kind.
ROBERTS: Hey, CNN "NEWSROOM" is just minutes away, Tony Harris at the CNN Center with a look at what is ahead.
Good morning to you, Tony.
TONY HARRIS, CNN ANCHOR: You should me with make-up and a blow dryer, yikes. Good morning, John. We have got these stories on the "NEWSROOM" rundown for you this morning. BBC reporter Alan Johnston celebrating independence. He is freed by Gaza kidnappers. He calls history r his ordeal a four-month nightmare.
Police say they have found a suicide note from one suspect in the U.K. car bomb plot.
Republican laggards, top Democrats raising almost 50 percent more cash than the leading Republicans so far this year. Our guest weighs in.
Melissa Long in for Heidi Collins on this Independence Day. CNN "NEWSROOM" just minutes away at the top of the hour on CNN.
John, back to you.
ROBERTS: Looking forward to it, Tony. We'll see you then. A political and media earthquake in Los Angeles. The mayor of L.A., Anthony Villaraigosa, is admitting his marriage is over and that there is another woman in the picture. She is a reporter for a local television station. It raises questions about ethics and Villaraigosa's political future.
CNN's Ted Rowlands reports.
TED ROWLANDS, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, whose marriage of 20 years has been publicly collapsing over the past few months, now acknowledges he's having a relationship with a television news reporter, Mirthala Salinas.
MAYOR ANTONIO VILLARAIGOSA, LOS ANGELES: It's true, I have a relationship with Ms. Salinas.
ROWLANDS: The latest chapter in a public unraveling of the mayor's personal life has been playing out since January, when people started noticing that he had stopped wearing his wedding ring. Last month, after weeks of dodging questions about the ring, he announced that he and his wife were splitting up.
Corina Villaraigosa, who voters saw faithfully at her husband's side in the run-up to his 2005 election victory, has filed for divorce. While Villaraigosa admits there's another woman now, he doesn't seem to think that voters will care.
VILLARAIGOSA: The vast majority of people base their sense of trust on what you do in your public life, whether or not you keep your promises. I said to people, when I first was elected, that I work as hard as you do from my first day to my last, that I accept responsibility as I have today, as I have every time it was necessary. I'll continue to do that.
But as I said, I'll leave the speculation to others. I'm not going to get into every detail.
ROBERTS: CNN's Ted Rowlands reporting. The mayor's girlfriend, by the way, works for Telemundo. A spokesman at the station says that Ms. Salinas was taken off of the political beat, which includes covering the mayor's office, 11 months ago.
NGUYEN: Well, more accounting problems for Enron. That tops your quick hits today. Twenty thousand former employees finally got their first payment from a settlement to repay them for retirement funds lost in Enron's collapse. But a computer glitch meant 13,000 people were underpaid and 7,700 were overpaid. A little bit of a mix- up there.
Democrats, they are beating Republicans when it comes to raising campaign cash. Contributions for the second quarter show the top Democrats collected more money than the top Republicans by about a 3-2 ratio. And Barack Obama alone has 250,000 contributors, more than Rudy Giuliani, Mitt Romney, and John McCain all combined.
Sunscreen labels tell you about SPF, but you also really need to know about UVA and UVB before you put on the sunscreen and go out today. You will want to stay with us because Dr. Sanjay Gupta is going to explain how to get the most cancer protection from your sunscreen.
NGUYEN: A smashing new way to relieve stress tops your quick hits today. Dozens of people trashed a hotel in Madrid. It was all part of a contest held by the hotel to help with renovations. You can see that. And allow winners to loose reduce stress levels.
And you can look for a big change in the Big Apple's fireworks show tonight. For the first time ever in New York some fireworks will actually be aimed into the East River. They are called nautical shells, and they will explode on the surface of the water instead of in the sky.
Check this out. Uncle Sam wants you to slow down. In Orlando, a police officer dressed as Uncle Sam is using his radar gun to catch speeding drivers. It's part of an operation to get drivers to slow down this holiday week.
ROBERTS: By now we should all know that we put on sunscreen when we're out in the summer sun. And we're supposed to buy the stuff that has the highest amount of protection. But now we're hearing that the labels on the bottles may be misleading, may not tell you the entire story. Dr. Sanjay Gupta joins us now from the CNN Center with more.
What is it that we don't know, Sanjay?
DR. SANJAY GUPTA, CNN CHIEF MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, this is very interesting to me, John. There are two different types of rays. There's UVB and UVA. Most people know that. They may have also heard the term SPF, sun protection factor. What they might not know is that SPF actually just refers to the UVB rays.
Take a look at the animation here. UVB, those are the most damaging ones. Those are the ones that are actually going to hit the surface of your skin, cause the wrinkling and put you at higher risk for skin cancer as well. UVA actually penetrates a little bit deeper though. You may not notice the effects. You may not get a sunburn, but they can also cause damage to the cells down deep.
Important, John, because when you look at that SPF, you're just getting sort of half the story here. And we know how much more important UVA is than ever before.
ROBERTS: So does that suggest, Sanjay, that no matter what is on the bottle, you don't really have an accurate indication of what level of protection you are getting?
GUPTA: Yes. I mean, you know what, if you read a lot of the bottles, and I do, I mean, they will say "broad spectrum," for example, which is a good thing. They will say, protects against both UVB and UVA. But as far as the actual specific numbers, the actual specific protection when you see 15 or 30 or 50 like you were just mentioning, that is just referring to the UVB. So you can't be sure what broad spectrum really means.
ROBERTS: And what about these waterproof or sweatproof sunscreens? Do they really work?
GUPTA: Well, you know, it's interesting, they can say waterproof and sweatproof, and that -- those statements aren't really regulated in terms of what they can say or not say. They are not really truly waterproof. They may be water-resistant. But we know that for the most part, any sunscreen, no matter the SPF, no matter what this says on the bottle, you probably have to reapply it every couple of hours because you're sweating it off or just washing it off.
ROBERTS: I had to go to the dermatologist last week to get a little lesion on the side of my nose biopsied. They are waiting to see back if it is cancer or if it is something that is just totally benign. But my dermatologist said, hey, we used to think that you had to have a minimum of 15 in terms of a sunscreen protection, and now it's higher. Is there any sort of generally accepted level that the medical community is going with?
GUPTA: Well, first of all, I hope your biopsy comes back fine, John. Thirty seems to be the number now. And this may seem a little bit made up, because you're someone who sort of follows the number, you say, well, why 30 now? It's all based on how much sunscreen people typically apply, how often they use it.
They found that people aren't using it enough to make 15 an acceptable number. If you put 30 on, it's going to give you a little bit more protection. You still have to reapply it as frequently as possible. The problem with going as high as 50 is it probably is going to wash off before it gives you the protection that an SPF 50 would.
All that means is, you know, it gives you -- it takes 50 times as long to get a sunburn as if you had no sunscreen at all. It will wash off before that anyway.
ROBERTS: And of course, some people put this stuff on, Sanjay, and think that they can spend all day in the sun, which isn't a good idea. Sanjay Gupta for us, from Atlanta, Sanjay, good to see you, thanks.
GUPTA: Thanks, John. Appreciate it.
HARRIS (voice-over): See these stories in the CNN "NEWSROOM." BBC reporter Alan Johnston free this morning. Gaza kidnappers held him nearly four months.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: They created a huge international panic.
HARRIS: Tuberculosis patient Andrew Speaker demanding an apology from the CDC.
The Fourth of July a sizzler for the West. Temps well past a hundred from Boise to Bakersfield. "NEWSROOM," just minutes away, top of the hour on CNN.
NGUYEN: Thanks so much for joining us on this AMERICAN MORNING.
HARRIS: Good to see you here. Good to see you here, too.
NGUYEN: It has been fun, all week long.
HARRIS: Thanks for coming up from Atlanta to help out.
NGUYEN: You're stuck with me the next couple of days.
ROBERTS: Sometimes you just get lucky.
NGUYEN: Tough job.
ROBERTS: CNN "NEWSROOM" begins right now.
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