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American Morning

Bringing Home Troops; Surveying the Damage From Humberto; Benoit's Diary Reveals Depression; President's Report: What Happens Next in Iraq?

Aired September 14, 2007 - 08:00   ET


JOHN ROBERTS, CNN ANCHOR: Hanging ten there this morning on this Friday, September the 14th.
Good morning. Thanks very much for being with us.

I'm John Roberts, here in Washington.

HEIDI COLLINS, CNN ANCHOR: Hi, everybody. I'm Heidi Collins in New York, in for Kiran Chetry this morning.

ROBERTS: Good to see you this morning, Heidi.

COLLINS: Thanks.

ROBERTS: Thanks for coming up from Atlanta.

We start this morning with the troop withdrawals announced by President Bush just last night. The plan calls for roughly 21,000 troops to be brought home, and word just coming in to CNN that meetings will begin today at the Pentagon to figure out just which units to bring home.

Barbara Starr is at the Pentagon this morning following this breaking news.

What are you hearing, Barbara?

BARBARA STARR, CNN PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT: Well, John, the president spoke last night. Starting today, as you say, Pentagon planners will begin a series of meetings here to figure out the details. Which troops will come home first?

That, of course, is something of intense interest to so many military families across the United States waiting for their loved ones. About 21,500 troops scheduled to come home by July under the president's plan. But who will it be?

Will it be the units that have been there the longest? Will the Pentagon stick with the time-honored plan of first in, first out? Or will it be some of the surge troops who have arrived there since February? That's all to be worked out right now.

Defense Secretary Robert Gates is expected to hold a press conference later today to meet with the Pentagon press corps to talk about all of this. I think you can count on the fact one of the questions Mr. Gates will have to answer is, why is this withdrawal plan really progress in Iraq? Doesn't it just take the military back to where they were in December 2006?


ROBERTS: One of the open questions, Barbara, after the president's speech last night was when might we hear about troops beyond the so-called surge coming home, the remaining 130,000 or so U.S. troops that will remain after these surge forces are drawn down? You talked with General Petraeus one on one earlier this week. Did you get any sense of his thinking on that front?

STARR: All indications are that General Petraeus, as he always does, is holding his cards very close to his vest, if, indeed, he has any answer on this right now. Officially, his answer is he doesn't know, that it's just too soon to say.

And as you point out, John, that really is the critical indicator of additional progress. Once you start going below the 130,000 standard troop level -- because right now, actually, this surge means that some troops will stay, some of the support troops will stay in Iraq, so it's very hard to make any calculation at this point whether it really is a fundamental withdrawal below that 130,000 level. A lot of questions for Secretary Gates on all of this later today -- John.

ROBERTS: And the president indicating also last night, Barbara, that U.S. troops may be there for decades to come.

Barbara Starr at the Pentagon this morning.

Barbara, thanks -- Heidi.

COLLINS: It is the fastest developing hurricane in recorded history. Humberto went from tropical depression to full-blown hurricane in less than 24 hours. The storm surprised Texas and Louisiana, bringing 85-mile-an-hour winds and dumping more than a foot of rain in some places. Residents are surveying the damage now this morning.

We have team coverage as well. Reynolds Wolf is at the CNN weather center for us today and Sean Callebs is in High Island, Texas.

Sean, let's begin with you.

SEAN CALLEBS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, you may be able to hear there's a helicopter hovering right overhead. It's been here for sometime, clearly trying to get some aerials of the damage here in High Island. This, where the brunt of the storm came through. A storm that really caught the 500 residents in this small community completely off guard.

You're looking at this house here. It belongs to 69-year-old Connie Peyton (ph). And she actually rode out the storm in this.

When she went to bed, it was just a mix of storm clouds offshore, maybe gust of winds up to 50 miles an hour. Well, around 2:00 in the morning, her roof blew off. It's in the trees back in that area. And that is really what happened to a lot of these residents here.

They say they had absolutely no warning that this was going to be a hurricane, that this kind of damage could happen to this area. Well, High Island is actually called that because it's actually 25 to 35 feet high. Storm surge wasn't a problem, but the rain that fell here, as much as 15 inches in parts of Texas and Louisiana, causing big problems.

Today is the day they really hope to get the cleanup going in earnest and put Humberto behind them. Back to you -- Heidi.

COLLINS: All right. Sean Callebs for us from High Island, Texas, this morning.

Sean, thanks.


COLLINS: Time now to check in with our AMERICAN MORNING team of correspondents for other stories new this morning.

Pro wrestler Chris Benoit's diary is raising more questions now about his mental state when he strangled his wife and smothered his son.

AMERICAN MORNING'S Alina Cho is at our National Update Desk now with more on this story.

Alina, good morning.

ALINA CHO, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Hey, Heidi, good morning to you.

It's been nearly three months since pro-wrestler Chris Benoit killed his 7-year-old son and his wife before killing himself. And for most of that time, the speculation had been that so-called 'roid rage was to blame. But a television stage has obtained portions of Benoit's diary that are raising some big questions about his mental states in the months prior to the killings. Now, some are saying that depression, not 'roid rage, may have been the reason Benoit snapped.

Now, according to CNN affiliate WSB in Atlanta, those handwritten entries written in 2005 were addressed to Benoit's close friend and fellow wrestler Eddie Guerrero. Now, Guerrero died in 2005 of an enlarged heart and Benoit was apparently extremely upset about that. He wrote, "I'll be with you soon."

Now, Benoit's father's attorney says that diary shows signs of dementia and depression.


CARY ICHTER, BENOIT FAMILY'S ATTORNEY: It appears as though he was having some thoughts about his own mortality.

(END VIDEO CLIP) CHO: Now, doctors say brain scans on Benoit showed similar findings. In fact, at the time of death, Benoit's brain was so severely damaged it apparently resembled the brain of an 85-year-old Alzheimer's patient. And Heidi, doctors believe that brain damage was likely caused by multiple concussions he suffered in the ring -- Heidi.

COLLINS: Yes. Of course, still trying to figure out if, in fact, those concussions and that damage would then lead to the violence that happened. Of course, a lot more to be discussed about that.

Alina Cho, thank you.

CHO: You bet.

COLLINS: And now Japan is going back to the moon. It is the largest mission, in fact, to the moon since the Apollo flights.

CNN's Monita Rajpal is following this from our World Update Desk in London this morning.

Hi there, Monita.


Yes, it's a $480 million probe that the Japanese space agency's hoping will give it some respect. Apparently, there have been a lot of critics of the space agency saying that it doesn't have the vision to really compete with other leaders in space, exploration in East Asia, such a China and India.

Now, this Kaguya, as it's called -- it was named after a fairy tale princess -- is going to take 21 days to reach the moon, where it will then -- it also has a high-definition television on board, where it will take photographs of the Earth rising from the moon's horizon. And footage of which will then be sent back to Earth. So these really pretty pictures that will be sent back. It will then orbit the moon for about a year or unless -- until it runs out of gas.

It's a really -- a really highly competitive industry in East Asia. Just to give you an idea where everyone stands right now, China plans to watch a lunar orbiter by -- let's see, by the end of this year and an unmanned vehicle on the moon by 2010. India, by this -- by next year, that is, 2008. And the U.S., a lunar orbiter next year.

So, again, very highly competitive. And the Japanese space agency saying it hopes this will light the fire under Japanese politicians to actually start investing in their space exploration program -- Heidi.

COLLINS: Yes, a fascinating story.

All right. Monita Rajpal, thank you -- John.

ROBERTS: Well, chocoholics, this one is for you. A new study says there is no such thing as a chocolate addiction.

Medical Correspondent Elizabeth Cohen is in our Boston bureau with more.

And I can hear it, Elizabeth, across the country, the collective utterings of women across America saying, "What?"

ELIZABETH COHEN, CNN MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: "What? I really am addicted to chocolate." I know I myself have said that many times, I'm just addicted to chocolate, so I can't control myself, I've just got to have that chocolate bar.

Well, this study is, indeed, disappointing. So let me explain before anyone freaks out.

This study says that chocolate is not truly addictive. Now, people have heard these reports that chocolate has chemicals in it that are mood lifters, and this new study says that's true, so, you know, it might make you feel happy, but it's not truly addictive.

So they say it is delicious, you might crave it, but they say, you know what? The chemicals that are in chocolate are also in avocados and cheese, and you never hear anyone say, "Oh, I've just got to have my daily avocado, got to have an avocado" -- John.

ROBERTS: Well, you know, though, I do have a guacamole craving from time to time. But hang on here. Let's look a little further into this physical craving for chocolate. If there is no addiction, why this need that some people feel?

COHEN: Well, you know what? Chocolate is fatty and it's sweet. And you know what else is fatty and sweet? Mother's milk.

And so our brains are really programmed from day one to crave things that are fatty and sweet. But cravings and addictions are two different things. If you're truly addictive to, let's say, a drug, you'll do anything to get that drug. You'll rob a bank, you'll ruin your marriage, you'll ruin your career. And I have to say, I've never heard anyone go that far for chocolate.

ROBERTS: You've never seen my son when he wants a Snickers bar.

Hey, the guilt about chocolate, then, is it OK to give into our chocolate cravings even if it's not an addiction?

COHEN: You know, there's really no reason not to eat chocolate. I mean, it's fun and it's sweet and it tastes good. But, of course, you have to eat it in moderation. Just a little bit of chocolate, let's say two squares or so, might even give you a health boost, especially if it's dark chocolate. It has these things called flavonoids that are good for your heart.

But remember, that's a square or two a day. And if you eat much more of that, you could get fat and completely reversing any health benefits those flavonoids might have given you.

ROBERTS: Yes. If you eat any more than two square of chocolate, just take them and tape them right to your thighs.

COHEN: There you go.

ROBERTS: Elizabeth Cohen for us in Boston this morning.

Elizabeth, thanks.

COHEN: Thanks.


COLLINS: See, the flavonoids in the chocolate and the natural coagulant in the wine? It's a perfect combo, right?

ROBERTS: You're going way beyond me.

COLLINS: Well, hear what Americans think after watching the president lay out his plans for troops in Iraq. We take the pulse of voters in Iowa right after the break.

And don't get on this duck's bad side. Mascots go at it and a touchdown celebration gets ugly.

It's all ahead on AMERICAN MORNING.


COLLINS: Welcome back to AMERICAN MORNING, everybody.

Reaction from voters this morning to the president's plan for troops in Iraq. The best political team in television has set up many bureaus in the key early election states of Iowa, New Hampshire and South Carolina. Last night, we watched the speech with people in Des Moines and asked if they were satisfied with the president's plan.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I think it's baby steps. With what we have in office now, any little step helps, because right now they've been very hesitant to do anything at all.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We need to stay there until we help rebuild their communities and make sure that the small communities are safe. I would say stay until the job is done.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Take 30,000 troops out is a start for the people. I want the troops to come home now, but you ask the troops, to a man or to a woman, they don't want to come home until their job is complete.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We're in trouble. We don't know how to get out. How do we get out?


COLLINS: Lots of different opinions, as you see there. Reaction from voters in Iowa last night to the president's speech -- John.

ROBERTS: And how about some analysis from a member of the best political team on television? CNN Chief National Correspondent John King with me here in Washington. He's in our bureau. We're across the street from the White House here this morning.

John, you observed last night after the speech that this has really shifted the debate from whether troops will come out to how many and when, but what was the president not saying last night?

JOHN KING, CNN CHIEF NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, what was most striking, John, to people who have watched the president throughout the Iraq war was how he laid out his terms for bringing the troops home, because as you noted earlier in the program, the president will present a report to Congress today that shows unsatisfactory or failing grades or OK or average grades on all of those benchmarks laid out. And yet, the president, who has consistently said he would only bring the troops out when Iraq was ready, when the Iraqis were ready to stand up, when the security benchmarks and the political benchmarks were met, is now saying he will bring troops home absent meeting those goals.

Many there see a president moving to the center. Maybe because he has to. Maybe because they don't have the troops to sustain the surge. But he still changes the political dynamic, and many now see a political opening to push him to do more, and many actually believe behind the scenes his own generals are telling him that next spring and summer they want to bring home more troops, too.

ROBERTS: You know, at the same time the president was talking about bringing troops out, he talked about this enduring presence in Iraq. Some senior administration official suggested that the Korean model could be something to be looked at for Iraq, which may mean an enduring presence of decades.

How is that likely to go over with the American public, John, which in increasing numbers wants to see troops brought out of Iraq?

KING: A very difficult political sell because it has not been explained to the public since the beginning of this war. But John, even if you talk to senior foreign policy advisers, to a Barack Obama or a Hillary Clinton, people who say get all of the troops out as soon as you can, many of them will concede privately that they can see 30,000 to 50,000 U.S. troops staying in Iraq for five years or more. Some say even 10 years or more.

So, in the foreign policy community, if you get away from the partisan debate, there are many who say there will have to be a sustained relationship. The president called it an enduring relationship that would be three to five years, perhaps even longer, after most combat troops come out. You don't hear much of that in the political debate right now though because it is such a partisan, polarized debate between the Democrats saying bring them home now and the president saying we'll do this on my terms.

ROBERTS: And let's look at the impact, too, on the '08 election. We had reaction last night from a couple of prominent Republicans.

Let's take a listen to what they said.


SEN. JOHN MCCAIN (R-AZ), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I think we can achieve some more success within months.

RUDY GIULIANI (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: This is just a battle in a much wider war. The Democratic candidates rarely used the word "Islamic terrorism," if at all, but that's what we're involved with here.


ROBERTS: So John, these are candidates who were sort of hoping against hope that they would be clear of the Iraq war by the time that they tried to run for president. They were told last night, you may well inherit it.

What do they do with that?

KING: Well, privately, they're hoping that the president does continue to bring troops home and it is less and less of an issue by next November. But John, it is critical.

The thing to watch for is, do any of those top-tier Republican candidates break from the president and join the moderates? I heard Dana Bash talking about Lamar Alexander earlier in the program, John Warner we know in the Senate. Do any of the presidential candidates join those in saying the president didn't go far enough?

So far, the top-tier Republicans are not doing that. That helps the president.

ROBERTS: And quickly, John, on the Democratic side, did last night's speech strengthen their arguments, or might General Petraeus have a March surprise up his sleeve when it comes to further troop drawdowns?

KING: The most difficult part for the Democrats who are trying to compromise with the Republicans, perhaps get from 130,000 to 100,000 by the end of 2008 in terms of troop levels in Iraq. The most difficult dynamic for them is their presidential candidates want more. They want all of the combat troops out by 2008. It makes it harder for the legislators to compromise when the presidential candidates or the face of the Democratic Party right now say it's not good enough.

ROBERTS: Chief National Correspondent John King with us this morning, part of the best political team on television.

John, thanks.

KING: Thank you.

ROBERTS: Heidi. COLLINS: All right. Want to get to this now.

Half of Americans lose $2,000 in cash a year. They just lose track of how they spend it, believe it or not. Ali Velshi is going to be telling us more about that.

And, well, hey can't talk, so two mascots decided to duke it out. It's a beat-down, blow by below, when a duck attacked a cougar.

Don't miss it coming up on AMERICAN MORNING.


COLLINS: Want to give you this information just in to CNN now.

Apparently, O.J. Simpson is being questioned in connection with a casino robbery. It's all happening in Las Vegas. The information coming in to us from our CNN affiliate there, KVBC.

Here is what we know at this time, according to them.

Apparently, he is accused of breaking into a room at the Palace Station Casino. It happened sometime yesterday. Police are confirming that they are questioning Simpson and several other people.

Not too many other details available at this time. But we do expect a statement from police. We will monitor that for you.

So, once again, the headline here, apparently O.J. Simpson is being questioned now in connection with some type of robbery out in Las Vegas.

We'll follow that story and bring you any more information should we get it.

Meanwhile, though, it is time to check in with Ali Velshi, who is "Minding Your Business" today.

Talking about people's money and them just really having no idea where it all goes.

ALI VELSHI, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes. And you know what? I've got to tell you, I'm one of these people.

We talked earlier this week about Bank of America charging more money to people who are not their customers using their ATMs. I'm one of these guys.

I take out little bits of money at a time because I think maybe it controls my spending, because when I have too much cash it disappears.

COLLINS: But then you pay those fees if you don't go to the right ATM.

VELSHI: No, I get it coming and going. I end up with the fees. But the thing is, here's what happens. Money just disappears from your pocket.

And Visa did a study on this to try and convince people to use their Visa check cards, and I'm not endorsing that. I'm just saying Visa studied 2,000 people and where their money goes.

Men say they can't account for $59 a week.

COLLINS: Not $60, but $59.

VELSHI: Fifty-nine dollars is the average. Three thousand dollars a year, and more than half the respondents, the male respondents, said it mostly disappears on a night out on the town.

COLLINS: Shocking.

VELSHI: Women can't account for $52 a week, but two-thirds of the women who can't account for this money say that it gets lost in shopping.

Now, here is the thing. Everybody seems to know where their money gets lost. So you would think they could keep better track of it.


VELSHI: Seven percent of the respondents at the far end said that they can't keep track of $100 a week. That's over $5,000 a week.

Now, that's a lot of dough. When you think about what you can do with that, I mean, this is not I have a coffee habit or I have a smoking habit and I know that if I didn't smoke or I didn't drink my coffee I would save that money. This is just lost money.

I think it's fascinating. And I'm guilty. I'm one of them.

COLLINS: You are guilty. Wow. That is a lot of money, $5,000 a year.

VELSHI: It's a big problem, yes. Worth thinking about.


VELSHI: Worth thinking about where the money is and somehow accounting for it, so that you can at least say, I drink too much, I spend too much, I buy too much, I smoke too much, whatever it is.

COLLINS: Receipts.

VELSHI: Receipts.

COLLINS: Keep all the receipts. Right?

VELSHI: Figure it out.

COLLINS: All right. Or just blow it off.

VELSHI: Or just blow it off.

COLLINS: All right. Ali, thank you.


ROBERTS: A duck versus a cougar. It sounds like a mismatch on paper, but on the field, well, check this out.

Two mascots went at it when Oregon took on Houston on college football's opening weekend. Apparently, the Oregon duck became upset when the Houston University cougar imitated one of his trademarks, push-ups, for total points after each touchdown. Moments later, the cougar was on the ground, the duck was throwing (INAUDIBLE) on the top of the cougar.

The cheerleaders had to come in and break it up. The duck was suspended for a game. But, you know, it doesn't really look like they were going at it too hard.

What do you think, Heidi?

COLLINS: I told you. I told you it was fixed. It was publicity stunt. No question.

ROBERTS: Well, I guess the suspension was real, though.

COLLINS: Yes. This is true.



ROBERTS: Welcome back and thanks for joining us on this Friday, the 14th of September. I'm John Roberts in Washington with one of the million dollar views of the nation's capital behind me. Imagine having that out the front window of your apartment?

COLLINS: Yeah, I like it a lot. Do you have an apartment that has that view?

ROBERTS: No, I don't.

COLLINS: OK, just checking.

Good morning everybody, I'm Heidi Collins in New York in this morning for Kiran Chetry.

I want to get straight to the president's message on Iraq. Some of you may have seen it last night in his prime time address. He delivers a progress report to congress now today after setting the stage for it last night in that address. The president announced gradual reductions of U.S. forces in Iraq, 2,000. 200 marines out almost immediately, 5700 troops home by Christmas. He attributed the withdrawals to some success with the so-called surge. Our Jamie McIntyre is at our Washington bureau this morning where he has been checking the facts for us. Hi there, Jamie. JAMIE MCINTYRE, SENIOR PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT: Good morning, Heidi.

COLLINS: Listen with me, if you will, to some of the comments that the president made last night. This one in particular regarding Anbar Province.


BUSH: Finally, in areas that have been cleared, we are surging diplomatic and civilian resources to ensure that military progress is quickly followed up with real improvements in daily life. Anbar Province is a good example of how our strategy is working.


COLLINS: Jamie, is Anbar Province a good example of how the surge is working?

MCINTYRE: Well, no, not really. Here's the problem with using Anbar as an example, first of all it's not that safe as we saw just this week with the assassination of a pro U.S. sheikh. Two, it's unique. It's a fairly homogenous area, mostly Sunni, it's been very difficult to replicate that model in other parts of Iraq. The third part about it is that the success in Anbar was really unanticipated, it began before the surge start, it wasn't really anticipated to happen as a result of the surge, and so it's not really the best example of whether the surge is working.

COLLINS: All right. We also want to hear a little bit more from the president regarding the thoughts of the international community and who may be getting involved in the situation in Iraq. Let's go ahead and listen to this one now.


BUSH: To the international community, the success of a free Iraq matters to every civilized nation. We thank the 36 nations who have troops on the ground in Iraq, the many others who are helping that young democracy.


COLLINS: Jamie, the State Department reports 25 nations. Which is it?

MCINTYRE: Well 36 sounds pretty impressive, doesn't it? I don't know where the president got that number. As you said, State Department says it's more like 25. The number of troops from other countries about 11,000 and almost half of those are British troops. But the reality is this operation is primarily a U.S. operation and, in fact, the lack of international cooperation is one of the things that's made it so hard and it's hard to get the international support because things aren't going well. So, again, only about half the picture shown in that statistic. COLLINS: All right, CNN's Jamie McIntyre from our Washington bureau this morning. Jamie, thanks for checking the facts, appreciate it.

ROBERTS: There is still plenty of danger on the frontlines of America's other war. With the Taliban making a resurgence in Afghanistan U.S. forward bases along the border between Afghanistan and Pakistan are under constant threat and in desperate need of supplies.

CNN's Nic Robertson takes us inside one of those bases this morning.


NIC ROBERTSON, CNN SR. INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): So remote, everything comes by air. Flavored drinks a rare luxury, sodas unheard of. Everything is prioritized limiting the number of troops sustainable here.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We call food class one.

ROBERTSON: Most important?

CAPT. JOEY HUTTO, U.S. ARMY: Yes, sir. We have ammo class five and class four reconstruction stuff. To get those items up to us takes a lot of air assets.

ROBERTSON: Mountains dominate forward operating base (INAUDIBLE) in Camdash (ph), northeastern Afghanistan and dictate not just a frugal, but a dangerous life for the soldiers here.

HUTTO: We have received small arms range inside of this compound, as well as indirect fires, the rockets.


HUTTO: Yes, sir. We've had soldiers injured and killed on this (INAUDIBLE).

ROBERTSON: Inside the secure wall?

HUTTO: Actually inside what we call our perimeter, the heskos themselves.

ROBERTSON: The insurgents are firing quite literally from these rocks that are right over us here?

HUTTO: Yes, sir. This is what we call our north base. As you can see, it's very severe terrain.

ROBERTSON: Attacks from every direction began ratcheting up mid August, almost daily at times.

HUTTO: We jokingly refer to this as the fish bowl because, once again, 360 degrees, we are visible. ROBERTSON: As the soldiers improve the base's defenses they are building trenches like those used in the First and Second World War. The trenches are run between the buildings so that when they do come under attack from insurgents on the high ground, they can move around the base safely to get between their different firing positions.

Nic Robertson, CNN, forward operating base Keating, Afghanistan.


COLLINS: Other headlines new this morning now. A 12-hour manhunt involving more than a thousand law enforcement officers is now over in South Florida. The gunman suspected of killing a Miami-Dade police officer and wounding three others was killed late last night in a shootout with police. Police cornered Shawn Labeet at a condo complex. He had been pulled over earlier in the day for driving erratically and opened fire on police. One officer died, one is still in the hospital.

Rudy Giuliani is firing back in print at He took out a full-page ad in "The New York Times", you see it there. The A- section to respond to the liberal group's General Petraeus ad. This one lists the accolades of America's top general in Iraq. It also goes after Hillary Clinton for saying the general's testimony required suspension of disbelief.


RUDY GIULIANI, (R) PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: What I don't think should happen in political discourse is the kind of character assassination that participated in, in calling him General betray us. That "The New York Times" gave them a discount to do and that Hillary Clinton followed up on with these attacks on his integrity.


COLLINS: Moveon's ad ran in the A-section on Monday. It was the first day of General David Petraeus' highly anticipated testimony to congress.

ROBERTS: The NFL has handed down fines for the New England Patriots and their head coach Bill Belichick after they were caught videotaping an opposing team's sideline. Half a million dollars in fines for Coach Belichick, a quarter million dollars for the team and they will lose at least one draft pick. Joining us now from Boston is deputy sports editor at the Boston Herald, Mark Murphy. Mark, what's the word up in Boston about the finding by the NFL that Belichick cheated? Is it a big deal or are people just saying he cheated, they got fined, let's move on?

MARK MURPHY, BOSTON HERALD DEP. SPORTS EDITOR: Oh no, certainly it's a big deal. I mean it's been all over the papers and TV and it's all the talk on the radio and everywhere else. You know, it's definitely got everybody's attention. ROBERTS: Roger Goodell, the NFL commissioner, said he chose this particular sanction because he thought it would hurt more than suspending Belichick for a game or two. He thought not just the fines but particularly the draft picks. If they do make it to the playoffs they lose next year's first round draft pick, if they don't make it to the playoffs they lose number two and three next year. But they had already traded for a first round for next year, so does this really impact them as much as Goodell might hope it does?

MURPHY: Well sure it does impact them. I mean number one picks in the NFL, they're gold. The patriots' front defensive line, for instance, the Richard Seymour, Ty Warren and Vince Wilfork are all former number one picks and are thought to be one of the best defensive lines in the game. So, these things are golden. But yes you're right, the pats did get another number one pick in a draft day trade last year and the one they're giving up is their own, which if they make the playoffs, would be a pretty low one. They have the San Francisco 49ers pick as their other number one.

ROBERTS: Right. The same thing happened in Green Bay November of last year where they kicked this guy Estrella off the field because he looked like he was videotaping the Green Bay Packers bench. I understand that Goodell warned Belichick before the preseason not to do this, then he went ahead and did it. That's pretty flagrant.

MURPHY: There was a memo that was sent out, I think, before the regular season began to all coaches and, you know, saying, you know, he was warning them all not to do this. After this came out, there was a lot of talk from coaches that this is something that does happen around the league. I mean, why else are offensive coordinators or defensive coaches putting their play sheet in front of their mouth when they yell out signals to the field? If not for they know they're being watched.

ROBERTS: If this happens kind of all the time, why the penalty so harsh?

MURPHY: Well, you know, it's not quite sure how often it does happen but I mean the bottom line is that the commissioner put down certain rules. As you said, the patriots, you know, be it arrogance or stupidity or whatever, you know, blatantly went against them and, you know, they were caught. He needs to make a statement.

ROBERTS: Boy. Big news in the sporting world today. Mark Murphy from the Boston Herald, thanks for being with us this morning, good to see you.

MURPHY: Thanks for having me.


COLLINS: Blocking Internet searches tops your quick hits now. The European Union is looking into blocking searches for words like bomb, kill or terrorism. The EU's top security official said the restrictions didn't infringe on freedom of speech and said it was more important to protect people from terrorists. And Prince is taking on some online giants. The pop star says he intends to sue YouTube for allowing his videos and music to be posted. He is also taking on eBay saying they've allowed hundreds of knockoff and pirated items to be sold.

A wave of trouble for a man and his dog, but thankfully, an incredible water rescue was only a couple of surfboards away. Meet the surfers who saved the dog coming up on AMERICAN MORNING.


ROBERTS: Some of the best shots of the morning in our quick hits now. This one comes from a satellite way up in space. Tropical storm Ingrid, now the ninth named storm of the 2007 hurricane season. The National Hurricane Center says it formed Thursday night in the open Atlantic and still hundreds of miles from the Leeward Islands in the Caribbean. At the moment because of upper level wind shear not forecast to strengthen into a hurricane.

Twin lightning strikes caught on tape just off of Tybee Island in Georgia. I-Reporter Rick (INAUDIBLE) had the quick trigger finger that captured nature in action. But if you think that one's good, take a look at this one. It was a little bit more dangerous. I- Reporter Christy Narron caught this bolt of lighting as it hit a school library. She says that she was picking up her son from school when she noticed it and managed to be fast to the trigger with that as well. No reports of anyone being hurt.


COLLINS: And now an irony of all ironies to tell you about. A rising star chef diagnosed with stage four tongue cancer and he may lose his ability to taste. The one thing that he relies on to do his job. But he is optimistic about beating the illness. Here is the story now from CNN's Keith Oppenheim.


KEITH OPPENHEIM, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Grant Achatz is snipping cedar leaves. The aromatic cover of a new dish that I was the first to try.

GRANT ACHATZ, ALINEA CHEF: The idea is the mushrooms that are on top of the beef are mingling with the flavors of the cedar.

OPPENHEIM: That's really good, fantastic.


OPPENHEIM: Achatz is the head chef at Alinea, a Chicago restaurant ranked number one in the nation last year by Gourmet Magazine. Just 33 years old, he has became famous for menus that blend exotic tastes and textures.

ACHATZ: Everything I see, everything I hear, everything I touch I relate to food. OPPENHEIM: But his talent and his life could be in jeopardy. Achatz has stage four cancer. It began with pain on his tongue. At first it didn't seem like a big deal.

ACHATZ: And then it got really bad.

OPPENHEIM: Like how bad?

ACHATZ: Well to the point where it was affecting my speech to a great degree and I was not being able to eat solid foods and it became a big problem.

OPPENHEIM: The cancer spread to more than half his tongue. Most doctors recommended surgery to survive at the cost of potentially losing his pallet.

DR. EVERETT VOKES, ONCOLOGIST, UNIV. OF CHICAGO: There would have been maybe some taste but, clearly, a major compromise in how he would have been able to taste, talk and swallow.

OPPENHEIM: At the University of Chicago, Dr. Everett Vokes prescribed a different plan. First, reduce the tumor with chemotherapy and radiation, then consider surgery if cancer remains. For Grant Achatz, saving his tongue seemed like the only course.

ACHATZ: You're dealing with your tongue, your palette.

OPPENHEIM: Which were you more worried about, your career or your life?

ACHATZ: Career, easily. Yeah, because like I said before I never thought I was going to die.

OPPENHEIM: The truth is Grant Achatz doesn't know if he will beat this cancer, but so far, it hasn't taken his sense of humor.

ACHATZ: Look around. Half my staff have shaved heads, so I'm going to fit right in!

OPPENHEIM: And it hasn't slowed his determination to be one of the world's top chefs.

Keith Oppenheim, CNN, Chicago.


COLLINS: Grant's doctor says if his team can eliminate the tumor and Grant doesn't go into remission the next three years, Grant's chances of beating the disease are good.

ROBERTS: Wow, well we wish him well. Our prayers are with him.

"CNN NEWSROOM" just minutes away now. Betty Nguyen at the CNN Center down in Atlanta with a look at what's ahead.

Hey, Betty. BETTY NGUYEN, CNN ANCHOR: Hey there John.

I want to tell you about a shootout on the CNN NEWSROOM this morning. Miami police struggling today, four officers shot, one died. The suspect killed in a gunfight with police.

Also, President Bush reinforces his Iraq message today with a speech to marines. He says 5,700 troops should leave Iraq by Christmas.

And, have you heard of this, the New England patriots head coach fined $500,000. The NFL says the patriots spied on the opposing team. We have that, plus breaking news when it happens in the NEWSROOM. That's at the top of the hour.

ROBERTS: Looking forward to it, we'll see you then Betty. Thanks very much.

Coming up next, hanging 10 with a local pooch. Meet two men who saved a dog from being possibly drowned. They'll join us live, as well as the dog, and her owner, that's ahead on AMERICAN MORNING.


COLLINS: Call it a wave of bad luck. A Michigan man's four- legged friend was washed off a pier into Lake Michigan earlier this week. Fortunately, two nearby surfers were able to rescue the 10- year-old dog from the very choppy waters.

Matt Smolenski and Joe Riapel are with us from the pier this morning at Grand Haven Beach and so is Shell-B. You see her there, the dog they saved. Aw! Look at Shell-B. And her grateful owner, Jack Badgero. We appreciate you guys being with us.

Jack I want to begin with you. You and Shell-B walk on this pier every day. I know how close you are with your dog. Tell me what happened?

JACK BADGERO, SHELL-B'S OWNER: I came out here about 2:00 in the afternoon on Tuesday. I heard the weather forecast, big gale coming in later that afternoon but I didn't think waves were going to be that big with Shell-B.

I got to the lower end of the pier down here and I got caught by a wave, spun me around 180 degrees and the next thing you know, Shell-B, she went flying by me off the pier and she was in the lake. These two guys here standing next to me, they're up there surfing. Joe come over here and he kind of was in the water there seeing the problem I was having with Shell-B and he kind of glided over there and grabbed Shell-B. He grabbed Shell-B and put her on the surfboard right here by the picnic table.

COLLINS: That's all right, you can just let her go, Jack. It's OK, hey listen, I want to ask Matt. Obviously, when you and Joe saw what happened, you must have been able to tell how upset Jack was. He was probably panicking. What exactly did you do to get in the water and try to save her?

MATT SMOLENSKI, RESCUED DROWNING DOG: We were actually already in the water. We were out about 20 yards from where Jack and the dog were and where the dog went in. The first thing that I heard was Jack screaming for the dog and I just, I knew we had to go get it.

COLLINS: How rough was the water that day, though? I mean, this was rougher than usual, wasn't it, Joe?

JOE RAIPEL: Yes, it was. It was an exceptional day for the waves. The waves were up to 8 to 12 feet. We were the only two guys out. It was very rough and we happened to be there at the right time.

COLLINS: You actually put the dog on the surfboard. We have shots of that, of her literally riding on the surfboard. I have to say she doesn't have a very pleasant look on her face but so glad to know that she made it through all of that. Look at her face there.

Hey Jack, it must have been pretty hard to watch all of this from dry land. How was she doing when Matt and Joe got her back to the beach?

BADGERO: Well, she was pretty well water-logged and everything. I was happy that she got back to the beach and kind of shook it off. At that time, I took her on home and I didn't think anything was going to get this big coverage on this. Like I said, I took her on home. She rested for a couple of hours and then I came back here about 7:00 when the waves were really big and they were in the fisherman's parking lot, the waves were coming in. And she wanted to go at them again. I wouldn't let her out of my van.

COLLINS: Yeah, quickly, Jack, I know that Shell-B is very, very special to you, she's an assistance dog and we are very glad to see that she is OK this morning. So I know that you are thrilled about the help that you got from Matt and Joe. We appreciate the story so much, guys. Thank you.

And of course to Shell-B, too.

BADGERO: You have a good day.

COLLINS: You too. I would talk to her but she is being kind of unruly so we'll let her go for now. Thanks again, everybody.

ROBERTS: There you go, a nice Friday morning, happy ending. Here is a quick look now at what CNN NEWSROOM is working on for the top of the hour.


T.J. HOLMES, CNN ANCHOR (voice-over): See these stories in the CNN NEWSROOM. Police searching for a motive in Miami. Four officers shot, one killed. The suspect shot dead in a gun battle with police.

Also, President Bush says 5,700 U.S. military service members should leave Iraq by Christmas. Cleanup day in Texas, left over from hurricane Humberto drenching the drought stricken southeast today.

Angry mascots, liven up the sidelines. The NEWSROOM at the top of the hour on CNN.



ROBERTS: Thanks so much for joining us on this AMERICAN MORNING. Kiran and I will see you again on Monday. Heidi Collins, thanks very much for coming up from Atlanta to be here this morning. Always good to see you.

COLLINS: You bet, all right John. Thank you. CNN NEWSROOM with Betty Nguyen and T.J. Holmes begins right now.