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American Morning

Clinton and Obama: Rhetoric Heating up In Iowa; Teddy Bear Teacher Home; Sweet Medicine: Honey for Kids' Cough; New Bonnie and Clyde; Rate Freeze Proposal

Aired December 04, 2007 - 07:00   ET


KIRAN CHETRY, CNN ANCHOR: Private groups doing their own toy inspections. Protecting your kids or confusing consumers. We're looking out for you on this AMERICAN MORNING.
Welcome back. It is Tuesday, December 4th. I'm Kiran Chetry.

JOHN ROBERTS, CNN ANCHOR: Good morning to you. Thanks for joining us. I'm John Roberts.

Breaking news overnight. She is home. A teacher who is tossed into a prison in Sudan for letting her kids name a teddy bear Muhammad. She's back in Britain this morning.

The Sudanese government had sentenced Gillian Gibbons to 15 days in jail for insulting Islam. The only thing that saved her, a presidential pardon. There were angry mobs that took to the streets by the thousands actually calling for her execution. All over a decision made by a group of 7-year-olds about a stuffed animal and what to name it. But today, she is still thinking about those students.


GILLIAN GIBBONS, RELEASED FROM SUDANESE PRISON: I wouldn't like to put anybody off going to Sudan. In fact, I know of a lovely school that needs a new teacher.


ROBERTS: Emily Chang is live at our world update desk in London with more on this. And Emily, it's great to see her in such good spirits considering what she's been through.

EMILY CHANG, CNN CORRESPONDENT: She was in remarkably good spirits. She said she's been terrified the whole time, but remarkably she's been treated well every step of the way, including by the Sudanese. She landed this morning at London's Heathrow Airport. She was greeted by her son, her daughter, and, of course, the press. She was freed after heated negotiations between the president of Sudan and two British lawmakers who are also Muslim. Those two lawmakers flew with her on the plane back to the U.K. When she landed, she looked relieved, relaxed. She even cracked a couple of jokes. She spoke briefly by phone to Prime Minister Gordon Brown. And then, here's a bit more of what she had to say.


GIBBONS: I'm just an ordinary middle-aged primary school teacher and went out there to have a bit of an adventure and got a bit more adventure than I bargained for. I don't think anyone could have imagined that it could have snowballed like this.


CHANG: Well, if she was looking for an adventure, she certainly got it. And even after all of it, she only had good things to say about that school and Sudan. As for what is next, she says she plans to spend Christmas with her family then start looking for a job. Now, we do have a crew on the ground near her home in Liverpool, England. It's been cordoned off. There are police standing by. So quite an exciting homecoming for someone who says she's just an ordinarily primary school teacher -- John.

ROBERTS: What's the reaction been there in Britain, Emily, to this idea that it took a presidential pardon to get her out of jail?

CHANG: Well, certainly everyone here in Britain thought she had made an innocent mistake and that the Sudanese government had reacted very extremely and that people there certainly overreacted. Certainly in Sudan, it seems like the government has very much embraced this ruling, or this presidential pardon after it happened.

About 40 people were protesting outside the British embassy, which didn't compare at all to the hundreds of people who were protesting before. So it seems like everyone has very much calmed down and that this is pretty much over and done with.

ROBERTS: It seems people have a difficult time understanding why people would call for her execution over this as well. Emily Chang for us in London today. Emily, thanks. Now, let's head over to Kiran.

CHETRY: And now, we're following deadly storms slamming the pacific northwest. Hurricane force winds, up to 10 inches of rain fell in some parts of Oregon and Washington. States of emergency declared in both states. In the Seattle area, landslides, sinkholes, and deep pools of water stranding drivers in flooded streets. Emergency workers using boats to rescue them.

Three hundred National Guard soldiers called up to help with the relief efforts. Two deaths are being linked to the storms. Flood warnings are up for seven coastal rivers in Oregon, and transportation officials say that the coastal range is impassable.

In the northeast, more trouble because of weather. At least 17 deaths being blamed on a winter storm. That storm brought a slippery mix of rain, sleet, and snow. Some areas of New England getting as much as 20 inches. New Hampshire, four to six inches of snow. And the Boston area and Cape Cod as well dealing with a mix of sleet and snow. All of it bad news for travelers. There were hundreds of flights delayed into New York City. They were delayed because of wind and ice. For more now on the extreme weather, Rob Marciano at our weather update desk. Any relief in sight for either coast?

ROB MARCIANO, METEOROLOGIST: Well, the east coast will get a little bit of relief from the snow, unless you live next to a great lake, which is where the snow is going to come down today. Here's on the radar scope, and then we'll go over some of the rain -- the snowfall totals, which for the most part, has stayed away from the larger areas, larger cities across the northeast. And that's the good news.

So here's the radar. You can see it happening right here, with extremes of lake effect snow bands beginning to come in off the Great Lakes, so some of these getting all the way down to the New York City area. There are still flood warnings that are posted for the pacific northwest. Rainfall expected to continue there for the next 12, maybe 18 hours.

But the big winds, some of which went over 120 miles an hour, have moved east and will be hitting folks who live in places like Wyoming and northern parts of Colorado. Another update in 30 minutes. Kiran, back up to you.

CHETRY: All right. Rob, thanks so much --- John.

ROBERTS: Five minutes after the hour now. New this morning, Iran says it welcomes U.S. intelligence that says it is not building nuclear weapons. A surprising national intelligence estimate says Iran stopped its nuclear weapons program in 2003 and wouldn't be capable of building a bomb before 2010. President Bush is sure to be asked about this one when he holds a news conference at the White House. It's set for 10:00 a.m., of course, we'll be carrying that live.

Also with the news conference, President Bush plans to push Congress to get something done on spending taxes and the war budget. The president says Congress has nearly a year's worth of unfinished business to take care of in just the next few weeks. Senate majority leader Harry Reid says it's the president who's holding things up by refusing to work with congress.

CNN will have live coverage again at the president's news conference beginning at 10:00 a.m. Eastern. It will be the first time in more than a month that the president will take questions from reporters.

Another round of attacks between Senators Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama. Stumping in Iowa, Clinton suggested Obama has too little experience for the oval office, and she accused him of a rush to campaign.

Obama's camp fought back saying he doesn't need lectures from "someone who followed George Bush to war in Iraq."

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) SEN. HILLARY CLINTON (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Which makes more sense? To entrust our country to someone who is ready on day one to make the decisions and the changes we need? Or to put America in the hands of someone with little national or international experience?

SEN. BARACK OBAMA (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I had not been planning to run for president for however number of years some of the other candidates have been planning for it.


ROBERTS: What Obama was referring to there were statements by Hillary Clinton that Obama's kindergarten teacher, a third grade teacher, had said that, yes, he did have aspirations to become president way, way, way back early in his life. With a month before the primary, Clinton and Obama find themselves in a dead heat in Iowa.

On the Republican side, John McCain talked with New Hampshire voters about his health care solutions. The Arizona senator says he will work to make health insurance more affordable rather than requiring everyone to buy coverage like some of his rivals. McCain is proposing a $5,000 family tax credit, and he says costs would come down if doctors charge based on the time spent treating the patient instead of how many tests they ordered.

One man who is gaining some ground in the race for president is Governor Mike Huckabee. Soaring in the Iowa polls, Huckabee is now reaching beyond the Christian conservatives who first ignited his dark horse campaign. One of the biggest criticisms from Republicans, though, is that, when it comes to taxes and spending, the governor and Hillary Clinton are basically cut from the same cloth. Here's what he told our Anderson cooper about all that.


ANDERSON COOPER, CNN CORRESPONDENT ((on camera): There's a quote from a Republican state senator in Arkansas who said that you have a preacher's mentality when it comes to spending. That you see needs, and you believe it's government's responsibility to fill those needs.


COOPER: But you did raise taxes on fuel, on sales, on cigarettes, on beer.

HUCKABEE: When we raised taxes for fuel, we did it to rebuild our road program.


ROBERTS: He is quick to point out, though, he may be a preacher, but he's not a prude. He loves his rock and roll. He's a bass player, by the way, and all but worships Rolling Stones guitarist Keith Richards, who years ago got a ticket in Arkansas.


COOPER: You pardoned Keith Richards?

HUCKABEE: I pardoned Keith Richards for a $162 misdemeanor traffic violation.

COOPER: That may come back in the general election, you know.

HUCKABEE: I hope it does. We get to talking, and Keith says, hey, man, you know I've been here before. You know the sheriff in Fort Acedona (ph).


ROBERTS: Not a bad impersonation. So far, Governor Huckabee has spent about $1.7 million on his campaign. Put that in a little bit of context for you. That's $52 million less than Mitt Romney has spent -- Kiran.

CHETRY: How about that?

All right. New this morning. Workers' rights groups, one of them saying that Victoria's Secret has a shameful secret. According to the National Labor Committee, the DK garment factory in Jordan, that's where Victoria's Secret lingerie is made, workers are forced to put in 100 hours a week for 75 cents an hour with no overtime. And when employees complained, they didn't just lose their jobs.


CHARLES KERNAGHAN, NLC DIRECTOR: Management's response was to have six of the workers imprisoned who had organized the protest.


CHETRY: Victoria's secret says it has a team investigating the allegation.

Federal officials plan to investigate a $1 billion September 11th insurance fund. The Department of Homeland Security wants to know why the fund created by Congress to cover claims from ground zero workers is fighting cases in court rather than paying medical claims. The top lawyer for New York City defends the lawsuit, saying that the World Trade Center captive insurance company is not a compensation fund, and it's obligated to defend against legal claims. Some 8,000 individual claims related to 9/11 are still awaiting judgment in the federal court system.

Well, if you think flights are packed now, just wait. The nation's six biggest airlines reportedly cutting back schedules despite the incredible demand for seats because fuel is getting too expensive. According to "USA Today," American, United, Delta, Continental, Northwest, and U.S. Airways have all decided to book 5 percent fewer seats for January compared to last year. That includes eliminating some routes or just switching to smaller planes -- John. ROBERTS: Ten minutes after the hour. We know that cough and cold medications are now off limits for young kids. Could the solution, though, lie in your kitchen? Our chief medical correspondent Dr. Sanjay Gupta is at our medical update desk. And honey from the bee is what we're talking about this morning, Sanjay.

DR. SANJAY GUPTA, CNN CHIEF MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes. Good morning, John. I'll tell you, after we did these cough medicine stories for kids and how they might be problematic especially for young children, we just got tons of e-mails saying, well, now what? I mean, what are parents supposed to do about this?

Is it's interesting. We've been looking, and one of the studies caught our eye, John. As you mentioned, it is about honey. Actually, trying to compare honey as a possible cough medicine as compared to over the counter cough medicines and just a placebo. And they found, in fact, it had significant benefits just using some honey about 30 minutes before bedtime.

First of all, some parameters. The kids slept better. Parents slept better as well. I bet, by the way. Symptoms less severe. The cough less frequent. And overall, the symptoms of the cold less bothersome. All good things there, John. It appears to be three reasons as to why honey works.

First of all, just the topical effects of honey on a sore throat. Also, the sweetness of honey tends to increase salivation, which also can be -- take care of some of those symptoms. And finally, there are some antioxidant properties to honey that may be beneficial long term. But some benefit there, maybe an option for some parents.

ROBERTS: We want to talk about dosage here. How much honey do you need to be effective?

GUPTA: Well, the one thing important about that, John, is that children under the age of 1 probably don't have enough immunity to actually fight off something known as botulism, and honey can actually be something that spreads botulism. That's a caveat. For children under 1, this is probably not a good option.

As you get older, ages 2 to 5 for example, half a teaspoon before bedtime. 6 to 11, a teaspoon. 12 years plus, two teaspoons. Obviously, it's a little bit of a moving dosage to sort of get the idea. More honey is probably not going to be a problem. Some parents also mix it with a little bit of non-caffeinated tea, for example, as well.

ROBERTS: Wow. That could be incredible. Going back, Mom or your grandma were right, you know, about this whole thing.

GUPTA: It turns out they were right about a lot of things.

ROBERTS: Sanjay, thanks for joining us on that.

GUPTA: Sure.

ROBERTS: We'll see you again soon on another topic -- Kiran.

CHETRY: Well, the Patriots great escape topping the "Quick Hits". Tom Brady's game-winning touchdown pass with 44 seconds left kept the New England's perfect season alive. The Pats are now 12-0 after the dramatic 27-24 victory over the Baltimore Ravens last night.

Striking TV and movie writers meeting again with producers today for contract talks. The west coast head of the writers guild says the two sides have made little progress. He's calling on individual producers to break ranks and to negotiate with the guild on their own.

Still ahead, an armed robber puts a gun to the head of a jewelry store clerk, but it wasn't just the jewels in the case he was after. We'll tell you why he had a tough time getting what he wanted.

Also, they're young. They're good looking, wore nice clothes, traveled the world. Seems like they had everything. Maybe because police say they were stealing it. A modern day Bonnie and Clyde ahead on AMERICAN MORNING.


ROBERTS: Coming up to 16 minutes after the hour, and some incredible shots of the morning in our "Quick Hits" now. A stranded driver stuck on his car as flood waters fill the streets of Olympia, Washington. Nearly a foot of rain fell on some spots in the northwest over the past couple of days.

More help is on the way to Bangladesh. Residents unloaded boxes of food from a U.S. Navy chopper. Three weeks after the cyclone hit, the United Nations says close to 3 million people are in dire need.

And here come the Santa cops. Police in the Philippines are patrolling the streets of Manila in Santa hats, all an effort to make themselves more visible during the holiday season when more crimes tend to happen in crowded places. Not sure exactly what it does to their credibility, though, -- Kiran.

CHETRY: All right. Well, a young Philadelphia couple accused of a massive identity theft scheme. Police are calling Jocelyn Kirsch and boyfriend Edward Anderton, the new Bonnie and Clyde, saying they financed their fun by stealing their neighbors' identities.

Our Alina Cho joins us now with more on this case. They look like a happy little couple honeymooning, but there's a dark side.

ALINA CHO, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes. That's them in front of the Eiffel Tower right there in Paris, you know. And Kiran, you're right. The amazing part about this story is that this couple allegedly funded their lavish spending sprees by preying on their very own neighbors.

Now, Philadelphia police tell our affiliate WPVI that 22-year-old Jocelyn Kirsch and her boyfriend, 25-year-old Edward Anderton jetted off to places like Paris, London, Hawaii, even Turks and Caicos. She allegedly spent $1,700 on hair extensions, and they paid for all of it, police say, by breaking into their neighbors' apartments and stealing their identities.


DETECTIVE TERRY SWEENEY, PHILADELPHIA POLICE: They were living the life. For want of a better term, they were living the life at the expense of and victimization of other people.


CHO: Now, Kirsch and Anderton are out on bail now. Reports say police caught them after one neighbor was told she had a package waiting for her at the local UPS store. Well, she didn't order anything. Authorities apparently watched the store and arrested Kirsch and Anderton on Friday when they went in to pick up the package.

Now, when police went to their apartment, they reportedly found among other things, more than $17,000 in cash, an industrial sized I.D. making machine, and dozens of keys to their neighbors' apartments and mailboxes. Now, unclear just how they allegedly got the keys. Also unclear just how many victims there are, but there are several. And in just the past year, this so-called Bonnie and Clyde reportedly spent more than $100,000.

Authorities say they had no reason to live a life of crime. They come from well-to-do families, Kiran. He was a graduate of the University of Pennsylvania, and she apparently was a student at Drexel University. And police say they were parasites in this apartment building.

CHETRY: Unbelievable. What are they facing in terms of prison time?

CHO: Well, they could face up to two years. Listen, the FBI and the U.S. postal service are involved in the investigation now, and they're facing a host of charges, including I.D. theft, fraud, forgery. And if they are convicted on at least some of these charges, they could be in prison for up to two years.

CHETRY: Unbelievable. Alina, thank you.

CHO: You bet.

ROBERTS: A sticky fingered thief finds some trouble with a swollen fingered jewelry store clerk. Police in Thousand Oaks, California, say the suspect held a gun to the head of the 83-year-old and stole her wedding ring. You can see he had a tough time getting the ring off. The woman's family says that's because her knuckles are swollen from arthritis. The robber also took a separate ring and a loose diamond. The woman wasn't hurt thankfully. That suspect still on the loose -- Kiran.

CHETRY: Awful.

Conservative radio host Michael Savage headed to court. Your "Quick Hits" now. Savage suing an Islamic group for using part of his show where he called the Koran a "throwback document and a book of hate." Savage says he lost $1 million in ad revenues when the council on American Islamic relations used the clip to target his advertisers.

And Pat Robertson handing over the reins of the Christian Broadcasting Network to his son Gordon. The 77-year-old Robertson announced the change yesterday on the network's flagship show "The 700 Club." Robertson will stay on as chairman and will also keep his post as president of Regent University.

Well, mortgage lenders and the government could be ready to strike a deal to help stop the mortgage meltdown. But will it help you? We're "Minding Your Business" coming up.

Also, we tag along with toy avengers. These are private groups that are doing their own toy inspections. So are they protecting kids or just confusing the consumer? Our Greg Hunter is looking out for you. That's ahead on AMERICAN MORNING.


ROBERTS: Twenty-three minutes after the hour. Welcome back to the most news in the morning here on CNN. Chemistry class or meth lab? Your "Quick Hits" now.

A high school teacher in California is under arrest for using his chemistry lab to make methamphetamine. Investigators say he was trying to import a key ingredient in making meth.

A passenger injured on board a speeding Amtrak train. It crashed in Chicago last week. He's suing the railroad and the Norfolk Southern Freight Company. The suit accuses both rail lines of negligence. Transportation officials have said the Amtrak train was going 25 miles an hour more than the track's speed limit when it slammed into the freight train. Dozens of people were injured.

And food safety will be the focus of a Senate committee hearing today. The panel will examine an FDA plan to give the agency more authority over domestic and imported products. That includes the ability to refuse admission of food imports, certify high risk foods, and issue mandatory recalls.

CHETRY: Is there a reason why we showed the McDonald's french fry video? Just to make us hungry?

ROBERTS: Just trying to make you hungry.

CHETRY: Europe could be getting its own version of Las Vegas, by the way. Developers are planning to build 32 hotel/casinos, two theme parks, and a race course and a stadium all in a desert region of eastern Spain. The project is called Grand Escala, which means large scale, and it would cost roughly $25 billion to build. How about that one?

Twenty-four minutes past the hour. Ali Velshi "Minding Your Business" right now. Could there be hope on the horizon with this mortgage mess? ALI VELSHI, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes. We've been talking about a mortgage freeze proposal that's being negotiated between the Treasury Secretary, Henry Paulson, and major lenders in the country. Now, before we all -- we want to tell you all about this. But before we get carried away doing the White House's public relations, I should tell you who's not getting relief in this thing, and the list is pretty long.

In fact, more people are not going to get a mortgage freeze than are. Excluded from the plan as we understand it right now, and the plan has not been announced are borrowers who are already behind on their payments. Borrowers who are able to refinance into a fixed-rate mortgage. Those who could afford a re-adjustment in their rate. And those who aren't subprime but do face increases in their mortgages.

So the only people who are going to get a freeze in their mortgage are people who could afford to pay their mortgage only if the rate was increased. Now, for those of you looking at rates and those of you who can refinance to a fixed rate, I just want to tell you the fixed rate for a 30-year mortgage right now is standing at around 6.1 percent. That's the lowest it's been since October of 2005.

So people like to talk about the fact that rates are going up. 30-year fixed mortgage rates are not. Now, if you are subprime, you're not going to get a rate like that. And if you're buying a house for more than $417,000, you are considered a jumbo loan, and you're not going to get a rate like that. Those rates are higher. So again, the number of people who can get 6.1 percent is smaller than everybody.

But 30-year mortgage rates still are -- I'm just telling you that's the truth. That's what you can get if you are -- if you fall between subprime and jumbo, which is still most of America. The subprime --

CHETRY: Why are you laughing at me?

VELSHI: Why are you laughing? It's true.

ROBERTS: For soon to be new homeowners.

VELSHI: Blame the markets. December 11th, next Tuesday, the fed is expected to lower interest rates again. That will have an affect on the mortgage markets. So those of you thinking of locking into a mortgage, you might want to wait a week.

CHETRY: All right. Good advice.

VELSHI: I thought I'd threw a little advice on that one.

CHETRY: Thank you.


CHETRY: Good to have you around, Ali.

ROBERTS: Ali, thanks.

It's a $1 million question. If you received a huge check and you knew that it couldn't be yours, would you cash it or return it? Well?

CHETRY: What? Oh, I would return it because I'd be scared I'd get in trouble.

ROBERTS: There you go. All right. Well, Jerry Mika returned a check to the state of Utah mistakenly made out for $2 million, even though he says he knows he would have put that cash to good use. He's joining us coming up in our next hour here on AMERICAN MORNING.

It brings us to this morning's "Quick Vote" question. If you found a check for $2 million, would you return it, or would you cash it? Cast your vote at

Right now, 72 percent say yes, they would return it.

CHETRY: Oh, you see that.

ROBERTS: Twenty-eight percent say, no, they'd keep it. We'll tally the votes throughout the morning. You've got to figure, though, somebody is going to figure this out, right?

CHETRY: Yes. Obviously, I mean, a little accounting error on the part of the state of Utah. But, you know, I mean, still I guess -- I'm sure for a brief moment it crosses everyone's mind. Should I just cash the check and run to Peru or something or Tijuana?

ROBERTS: They'd probably find you there.

CHETRY: Yes. You're right. They would.

Anyway, but Jerry didn't do it because he was afraid of getting caught. He's a good guy. We'll talk more to him coming up in about an hour.

Meanwhile, the top stories of the morning coming up next, including a new push for safer toys. These are nonprofit groups that are stepping in, doing their own tests. They're not waiting for the CPSC. They're not waiting for recalls. So why would the government have a problem with it?

Well, we're going to find out. We're going to have a list of toys that groups say should be off the shelves that are still there.

Also, what is it about the holidays that causes heart attacks? We're paging Dr. Sanjay Gupta ahead on AMERICAN MORNING.


JOHN ROBERTS, CNN, ANCHOR: Sunrise over New York this morning. Some clear skies there because it is cold outside. 31 degrees right now, only going up to a high of 36. Some snow flurries. You see the clouds kind of moving in there. Also, high winds today. And of course you know what that means. KIRAN CHETRY, CNN, ANCHOR: That it's even colder.

ROBERTS: And not only that, but getting in and out of the local airports where a little tiny bit of a breeze will hold things up. Going to be difficult today.

CHETRY: But a gorgeous sunrise.

ROBERTS: Lovely sunrise. But enjoy it while you got it because it's going to change. It's Tuesday, December the 4th. Thanks for joining us on this AMERICAN MORNING. I'm John Roberts.

CHETRY: And I'm Kiran Chetry.

Breaking news overnight. The teacher who did time for letting her kids or her students in her class name a teddy bear Muhammad, is back in Britain this morning. Gillian Gibbons arrived home after Sudan's president gave her a pardon from her 15-day prison sentence for insulting Islam. Early this morning, she talked about how something that seemed to be so innocent became an international incident.


GILLIAN GIBBONS, RELEASED FROM SUDANESE PRISON: Well, I was very sad to think that I might have caused offense to people. Very, very upset about it. I'm just an ordinary middle-aged primary school teacher, and I went out there to have a bit of an adventure and got a bit more of an adventure than I bargained for. I don't think anyone could have imagined that it could have snowballed like this.

On my second day in prison, somebody told me that they'd seen me in the paper in Sudan. And then I had a meeting with the British consul, who told me that, they said that we need to phone your next of kin. And I said, well, don't worry about it. They'll only worry. And then they told me that it was in the British press. I mean, I missed most of it. I really, the thing about being in prison is you're so isolated. You don't really hear what's going on. The first prison I was at was just like downtown prison, sort of like a lock-up. I mean, I was treated the same as any other Sudanese prisoner in that you're just given the bare minimum of comforts really. And then I was moved to another prison. And then the Ministry of the Interior sent me a bed, which is possibly the best present I've ever had.


CHETRY: Well, now Gibbons says she's planning to spend Christmas with her family, and she's going to be looking for a new job.

ROBERTS: Also new this morning, no criminal charges will be filed in the myspace teen suicide case. The prosecutor in Missouri says he will not seek charges against the adults accused of bullying a 13-year-old girl online because no laws were broken. The parents of Megan Meier say their daughter killed herself last year after receiving mean messages on myspace from someone she thought was a boy named Josh. Police say a mother from the neighborhood and her then 18-year-old employee turned out to be Josh. They were trying to find out what Megan was saying about the woman's own daughter. Megan's mother told Anderson Cooper she's disappointed by the decision but won't let it keep her from seeking justice for others.


TINA MEIER, DAUGHTER KILLED HERSELF: I absolutely hold the mother responsible and the father. The father knew what was going on also. I don't feel this is a defeat. To me, it is one step further that we're going to go. We have to work with lawmakers, and the internet has moved so quickly, and the laws have not.


ROBERTS: The Meier family says it does not plan to file a civil lawsuit, but they do want the law changed so that if something like this ever happens again, it will be considered a crime.

Three of the suspects in the murder of Sean Taylor will appear at a hearing today via video conference. The fourth suspect is being handled differently because he's a juvenile. All face charges of unpremeditated murder and armed burglary. Kiran.

CHETRY: Well, Tippi Hedren became famous for being attacked by fictional birds in the Hitchcock film. Now, there's a real life tiger attack in an animal sanctuary she runs just on the outskirts of the Mojave Desert in California. A worker at the preserve was repeatedly bitten by the tiger when he tried to clean its cage. He's currently in stable condition, expected to be OK. Hedren starred in the classic Hitchcock movie "The Birds." She opened the sanctuary back in the 1970s to help wild animals that were abandoned by circuses and zoos, and she also lives on that property.

ROBERTS: As we had been reporting today, Iran's foreign minister this morning is welcoming the findings of a new U.S. intelligence report. Among the findings of the latest national intelligence estimate, Iran stopped its nuclear program back in 2003, and Iran is "less determined" to develop nuclear weapons that has been judged since 2005. It says the earliest that Iran could produce a nuclear weapon is likely somewhere between 2010 and 2015. Our State Department correspondent Zain Verjee is following the story for us now. She joins me now. Zain, the White House trying to put a positive spin on this saying confirmation that Iran had a nuclear program and that they stopped it. But is this another case of them overstating the intelligence/

ZAIN VERJEE, CNN, STATE DEPARTMENT CORRESPONDENT: Well, yes, according to this report, it does seem that way. They do seem to have got it wrong. The U.S. has been warning for months that Iran is on a high speed, one-way lane to developing a nuclear bomb. Now all of a sudden, it's changing its tune, saying in this report international pressure on Iran has worked. Iran may not be so determined to get a bomb, and has actually slowed down the process. The report also, John, and this is significant - undercuts the whole idea that there needs to be an urgent military strike on Iran and suggests that, you know, there actually is time to negotiate. And national security adviser Steve Hadley says what this report does is it offers hope that the problem can be solved diplomatically and without the use of force as the administration has been trying to do, he says. John.

ROBERTS: All of this, of course, comes out at a time when the United States is seeking a third round of sanctions against Iran. What does it do for its pursuit of sanctions? We heard from France, just a few minutes ago, who says it thinks the international community should keep the pressure up.

VERJEE: Well, that's what the United States says. This really does nothing. The U.S. has been arguing that it's the diplomatic pressure which has been sanctioned, sanctions, sanctions, which has actually worked and made Iran respond. The U.S. is arguing that it's got the right strategy, which is more international pressure along with a willingness to negotiate a solution with Iran. The U.S. is in the past months, has toughened its own sanctions against Iran, has pushed international sanctions through the U.S.. As you said, it's looking for a third now. Some Iranian experts say those sanctions isn't the way at all. What needs to happen is that this is an opportunity, and there's got to be a lot more direct engagement with Iran. Secretary of State Rice, John, has really been involved in a bit of a tug of war really in the administration over how to deal with Iran. She's the one that's been pushing for more diplomacy, and we need to wait and see if this report actually strengthens her hand.

ROBERTS: Right. Well, certainly, they've offered up some pretty powerful talking points to their opponents with this latest report. Zain Verjee for us this morning from the State Department. Zain, thanks. Kiran.

CHETRY: Well, help for your kids' coughs could be sitting right in your cabinet. There's a new study that find a teaspoon of honey can soothe a cough. Doctors at Penn State University says honey, especially buckwheat honey, soothes the throat. They also noted that honey should not be given to children under the age of 1 because of a rare but serious risk of botulism. The news comes amid recent warnings that cough and cold medicines shouldn't be used in children under 6. The study, by the way, was funded by the National Honey Board. And appears in the archives of Pediatric and Adolescent Medicine.

Well, it's the season for heart attacks? Doctors say yes, actually. Up next, Dr. Sanjay Gupta will explain why this time of year can be so dangerous for people with heart conditions and what you can do to protect yourself.

ROBERTS: Coming up on AMERICAN MORNING, what toys can you trust?


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I am shocked and concerned that we found asbestos dust.

ROBERTS (voice-over): Dangerous toys invading store shelves. How to make sure your holiday gift is safe. And is the government doing enough to protect your kids? Find out ahead on AMERICAN MORNING. (END VIDEO CLIP)


CHETRY: Well, what is it about the holidays that makes December and January the deadliest month for heart attacks? We're paging Dr. Sanjay Gupta to find out. You know, one thing that comes to mind, of course, is you're doing a lot of eating, and there's a lot of stress involved.

DR. SANJAY GUPTA, CNN, CHIEF MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes. Absolutely. And people will certainly point to those as factors. The rich meals, not just a lot of it, but rich foods in particular, more alcohol as well, lots of stress just getting from place to place. Those traditionally have been pointed to as the culprits. I'll add another one to that list, and I think an important one that a lot of people may not recognize, and that is just simple denial. People reluctant to disrupt the holiday gathering because they may start to have symptoms. People in a strange city, or a city that they're not used to, and not knowing the hospitals or having their doctors in that area, or just forgetting to take their medications. These might be equally important factors as well, Kiran, when it comes to overall heart disease and possibly heart attacks. Something to keep in mind.

This may be one of the most important things we talk about in the next couple of months. People know the symptoms of a heart attack. You probably heard about most of them - shortness of breath certainly. Chest pain is another one. But light headedness, that's another one. That's one to keep in mind. Nausea. Heartburn can be another one. Those are things you might confuse with indigestion, for example, vomiting, and arm discomfort. I bring up all those symptoms, to say that sometimes you get confused especially this time of year when you've got those big meals. You may have a drank a little bit of alcohol and have some stress. Make sure to get these things checked out if you're having some problems, Kiran.

CHETRY: You know and the other factor that you always hear about people getting heart attacks when they're out shoveling snow or when they're doing, exerting themselves in ways they normally don't around the holidays. So, are hospitals making any changes knowing that December and January typically are the deadliest for heart conditions?

GUPTA: They are. And let me say one thing about the cold climate as well because obviously there is concerns about people shoveling snow when they haven't been exercising all year long. But if you look at the data there isn't actually a huge difference between colder climates and warmer climates. So people in the south or in warmer climates shouldn't think that they are somehow immune to this. They've got to pay attention to this as well. Regarding hospitals, there are a lot of changes that are going on all year long.

One of the biggest one is something known as door to balloon time. What that means basically is that if someone comes in with chest pain and needs to have one of those blood vessels going to their heart opened up with a balloon, they need to have that done in as expeditious a fashion as possible. About 90 minutes is what most hospitals strive for. So somebody arrives in the emergency room door, they're diagnosed, they start treatment. And within 90 minutes, they're actually getting that artery opened up. That's the goal, and that's what hospitals are trying to do. They're trying to avoid some of those heart attacks.

CHETRY: All right. Sanjay, good advice. By the way, if you have a question for Dr. Gupta, e-mail us. Go to Sanjay answers your questions each and every Thursday right here on AMERICAN MORNING.

ROBERTS: It's just about 44 minutes after the hour. A string of toy recalls have got parents on high alert. And perhaps confused this holiday season.

CHETRY: Well, so are all the lists of dangerous toys created equal, and who is behind them? Our Greg Hunter is looking out for you to help clarify things for parents who are going to be shopping.

ROBERTS: Good morning.

GREG HUNTER: And good morning, Kiran, John. Well, at least two nonprofit groups say they put out their own list of dangerous toys, and they are saying that the government and manufacturers are not doing enough for toy safety.


HUNTER (voice-over): Things that pop out. Powerful magnets that stick together. And potentially harmful chemicals.

JAMES SWARTZ, W.A.T.C.H.: It's airplane glue.

HUNTER: Just a few toys on store shelves that one nonprofit organization says parents should avoid buying. For example, the Jack Sparrow spinning dagger.

SWARTZ: Our concern is with eye injuries, potential for blunt force injuries.

HUNTER: For 35 years, world against toys that cause harm, or W.A.T.C.H., a group founded by Boston trial lawyers, has warned about things like possible choking hazards.

SWARTZ: You can see that these pieces fit right into that choke tube.

HUNTER: Including Mattel's "Go Diego Go Animal Rescue Boat." It's the only toy on W.A.T.C.H.'s ten worst toys list to be recalled, and it was done by Mattel itself after "an extensive investigation." Five other companies on W.A.T.C.H.'s list told CNN their products meet federal safety standards. W.A.T.C.H. isn't the only group checking safety.

LINDA REINSTEIN, ASBESTOR DISEASE AWARENESS ORG.: I am shocked and concerned that we found asbestos dust. HUNTER: Linda Reinstein lost her husband to an asbestos-related illness and founded the nonprofit Asbestos Disease Awareness Organization. It recently did tests on holiday toys and says it found asbestos dust in this CSI Fingerprint kit.

REINSTEIN: We had it triple confirmed by three independent government certified labs.

HUNTER: The manufacturer Planet Toys says "these kits do not contain asbestos." CBS Television, which markets the product, tells CNN "we have asked our licensee to immediately conduct an independent test." The Consumer Product Safety Commission says non-government groups that put out independent warnings only confuse people.

JULIE VALLESE, CPSC: Different list that are out there are very subjective. They are the beliefs of that organization or that group.

HUNTER: The watchdog groups insist parents need more safety information.

SWARTZ: What we say is it shouldn't be our job and it shouldn't be the job of consumers and families around the country who have to go into toy stores and wonder whether the toys that are actually making their way to the shelves are safe.


HUNTER: The CPSC says it supports a plan to create an independent third party that would test and certify toys are safe. The plan is currently under consideration. For a complete list of toys on the W.A.T.C.H. list, you can log on to Also, you can report to me fraud, waste, or abuse on that website, morning.

CHETRY: That's unbelievable, the CSI kit, the situation about asbestos since I thought that asbestos was banned.

HUNTER: It was banned up until 1991, and there was a court case that partially removed the ban. Still banned in flooring and things like that, but for appliances and allegedly some toys, it's not banned.


HUNTER: And even though the EPA says that any exposure will hurt you, and the dust is the most important, the most damaging part because you can breathe it into your lungs. And this CSI kit...

CHETRY: I know. I bought one for my niece. It does have dust because you use fingerprinting.

HUNTER: That's right because the dust, they say, allegedly, has asbestos in it. And the dust is the most harmful part.

ROBERTS: Yes. that's pretty stunning. Greg, thanks. Good tips this morning. Money, drugs, guns. Some of the talk that we found on personal myspace pages belonging to the men accused of killing NFL star Sean Taylor. Our internet correspondent Veronica de la Cruz shows us more in just a little bit.

And pushing, shoving, and allegedly shouting racial slurs. New surveillance tape of a former idol who may have hit rock bottom. That's ahead on AMERICAN MORNING.


ROBERTS: Welcome back to the most news in the morning here on CNN. And if you're just joining us, here's a look at what's making headlines this morning.

Breaking news overnight. A teacher who did time for letting her kids name a teddy bear Muhammad in Sudan is back in Britain this morning. Gillian Gibbons arrived home after Sudan's president gave her a pardon from her 15-day prison sentence for insulting Islam.

Surprising intelligence out now that Iran is not building nuclear weapons. A new national intelligence estimate says Iran stopped its nuclear weapons program back in 2003 and would not be capable of building a bomb before 2010. Iran saying this morning that it welcomes the report. President Bush is sure to be asked about this when he holds a news conference at the White House set for 10:00 a.m., of course, we'll carry that live here on CNN.

And winter weather causing trouble all over the country. Hurricane force winds and heavy rains slamming the northwest. Roads in Washington state and Oregon are closed after flooding, downed trees and landslides. At least three deaths reported there.

And it was snow and sleet in the northeast. Six inches fell in Vermont, New Hampshire, and parts of central New York state. At least 17 deaths reported from that storm system.

CHETRY: Well, the suspects accused of killing NFL star Sean Taylor are scheduled to appear in court a little bit later this morning.

ROBERTS: And it appears as though these young men had some very interesting pages on myspace. Veronica de la Cruz joins us now with this story. Incredible.

VERONICA DE LA CRUZ, CNN, INTERNET CORRESPONDENT: Plenty of people using the social networking site, and it was interesting to see what was posted on the profiles belonging to these young men. If you check myspace right now, the profiles have been pulled. But CNN was able to take a look at them before the suspects' attorneys found out they existed. So, just take a look at some of these pictures. That's 19-year-old Jason Mitchell on the left. 17-year-old Eric Rivera Jr. on the right. You can see both holding up wads of cash. Mitchell's lawyers say the pictures and comments on the site such as looking for a scheme, and trying to get rich, are part of street culture. And the Miami police detective Eduardo Roque agrees. He spoke with CNN's Deborah Feyerick.


DETECTIVE EDUARDO ROQUE, MIAMI POLICE DEPARTMENT: Most of these kids, they want to portray themselves as being really bad. Because that's in style right now. So, what they do is they'll portray themselves as one of the baddest boys in town, and they live in this virtual world within their computers that they believe they can be just about anybody.


DE LA CRUZ: Further proof that may be true, Mitchell also posted a prison mug shot on his site. His lawyer says that it was taken after the teen was arrested for driving with a suspended license. The other two suspects also had myspace pages. 20-year-old Venjah Hunte last logged on to his in October. He's the oldest of the suspects. 18-year-old Charles Wardlow has three myspace pages. The one that you see here and again covered with images of money. All four men face charges of felony, first degree murder, burglary with a firearm and home invasion robbery while armed. That's according to court documents.

CHETRY: You know, it's interesting. They're not doing anything illegal. They're not holding up guns or doing anything that portrays violence, so why did myspace take them down? Just because they're suspects in this case?

DE LA CRUZ: Yes. Well, the lawyers, I'm sure, had something to do with that. But you know, we put a phone call into myspace, and they say they do not monitor or block content on user pages. They actually didn't comment on that. What they did comment on is they are working with the Miami Police Department on this case. And couldn't comment on the case because it's an active criminal investigation.

CHETRY: All right. Veronica, thank you.

Well, there are new surveillance tapes of a former American idol, apparently going off the deep end. Police in Tampa arrested Jessica Sierra for disorderly conduct last weekend after bouncers kicked her out of a club Saturday. She was caught on tape apparently drunk and shoving people out on the street. Also accused of trying to bribe a cop with sexual favors. The latest arrest comes less than two weeks after Sierra pleaded no contest to charges stemming from an altercation at a bar back in April.

Another round of verbal sparring between Senators Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama. Coming up, we'll talk about the fireworks in the race for the White House. You're watching the most news in the morning.


ROBERTS: Couple of minutes now to the top of the hour. Ali Velshi here "Minding your business." What kind of car did you buy the last time you bought a car? It seems increasingly people are buying. ALI VELSHI, CNN, BUSINESS CORRESPONDENT: Non-U.S. cars. We got the numbers in for November for all of the cars sold in the United States. Only the second time, non-U.S. brands have edged out U.S. brands. When I say non-U.S. brands, I mean what you might think of as imports or foreign brands except that many of them are made in the United States. Just a little bit. It was about 59-41 percent. But that is the second time that's happened. Car sales, vehicle sales in general in the United States are down by about 2 percent over the last year, about 1.5 percent. Look at that. Light trucks, which are the pickups we all know, are down 7.4 percent. This is November compared to last November. Car sales are actually up so that's the shift you're seeing. People who have to get into cars are saying, you know what, forget the gas guzzlers. That's a trend we've been seeing for a little while.

ROBERTS: 59-41 or 51-49?

VELSHI: 51-49.

ROBERTS: OK. You're right.

VELSHI: No, 51-49. That's right. 51-49.

CHETRY: You shifted that so much faster.

VELSHI: The chimps have that figured out. Even the non-hopping kangaroo would have figured that one out.

CHETRY: The strolling kangaroo.

VELSHI: How much was it? 51-49. They were close. OK. I was supposed to make that quick by the way.

ROBERTS: Ali, thanks.

CHETRY: Thank you.

Well, another round of he said, she said. You have Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama stepping up their verbal jabs once again as those polls tightened. Senior political correspondent Candy Crowley is live in Des Moines with the fight card Also, a scary set back for Youssif. Do you remember the little Iraqi boy who was badly burned. Well, surgeons raced to save him. We're going to tell you about the latest life changing surgery and how he is doing on this condition. His condition, straight ahead, and the next hour of AMERICAN MORNING starts right now.


CHETRY (voice-over): Home safe.

GILLIAN GIBBONS: I'm looking forward to seeing my family and friends.

CHETRY: The teacher tossed in jail over a teddy bear named Muhammad speaks out this morning for the first time. GIBBONS: I don't think anyone could have imagined that it could snowballed like that.

CHETRY: Bonnie and Clyde? Or the kids next door?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: They were living a life.

CHETRY: Police say this hot young couple (inaudible) their neighbors and stole their identity.