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American Morning

Rescue of Family Trapped in Woods; Giuliani Rushed to Hospital; FICO; CIA Interrogation Tapes

Aired December 20, 2007 - 8:00   ET


JOHN ROBERTS, CNN ANCHOR: -- rescued from snowy mountains after three cold nights lost out in the woods. We'll talk with the two men who discovered them coming up. The next hour of AMERICAN MORNING starts right now.
Breaking news, Rudy Giuliani rushed to the hospital overnight. A grueling campaign swing makes an unexpected stop. A live update on his condition and what's next for the campaign.

Warm welcome home. A family found three days after disappearing in the woods, huddled together in blinding snow.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It was really, really scary.


ROBERTS: We'll talk to the people who saved their lives.

The slimming effect. Surgery that is more than cosmetic. Saving lives of the obese. Whether the risk is worth it on this AMERICAN MORNING.

Good morning, thanks very much for being with us on this Thursday, the 20th of December, just a few days left until Christmas. I'm John Roberts.

ALINA CHO, CNN ANCHOR: That's right, five days. We're so glad you're with us this morning everyone. I'm Alina Cho, Kiran Chetry has the morning off.

ROBERTS: We start this hour with breaking news. Republican presidential candidate Rudy Giuliani is expected to be released from a hospital in St. Louis today after being admitted overnight for what is described as flu-like symptoms. Giuliani was apparently not feeling well all day Wednesday while campaigning throughout Missouri. He was interviewed by CNN's Wolf Blitzer during "THE SITUATION ROOM" from Columbia, Missouri yesterday.

And later on, after Giuliani's campaign plane left for New York, he became very ill, the plane had to turn back to the airport in St. Louis and he was taken to the hospital from there. CNN's John King is in Indianola, Iowa this morning for us with more on Giuliani's condition.

What's the latest word from the campaign, John?

JOHN KING, CNN CHIEF NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Good morning John. Aides with the mayor in St. Louis say that he's in good spirits this morning. They expect him to be released from that hospital in St. Louis a little bit later this morning and go back to New York City. He did have some fundraisers scheduled today in New Jersey. His campaign manager will go to those instead and aides say no definite decision made yet but they do expect him back on the campaign trail in New Hampshire tomorrow. As you noted, a bizarre turn of events. The mayor was in Missouri yesterday for a day of events including that interview with CNN's Wolf Blitzer.

They say he got on the plane, he was heading home to New York and he hadn't been feeling well all day. Suddenly had a severe headache, some other flu-like symptoms, spoke to his personal physician who suggested, look, as a matter of precaution why don't you turn the plane around, get on the ground and go to the hospital and check yourself in. So we were told there were some tests taken overnight, we don't know exactly what those tests were, and that the mayor was treated for those flu like symptoms. Again, they say he is in good spirits this morning. We're waiting for definitive word as to exactly when he will be released but his aides say they expect that later this morning and back to New York City after a brief health scare, but they say he's doing fine this morning -- John?

ROBERTS: John, has there been any characterization of exactly what those flu-like symptoms were?

KING: Beyond a severe headache and perhaps some dehydration, they say the mayor wasn't feeling well, probably has a cold. Obviously all of the candidates are a little bit exhausted at this point in this grueling campaign. They say he was not vomiting, was not having those kind of flu-like symptoms. But they say after a pretty rough day when he got on the airplane it got especially bad. The headache especially, they say, was quite severe, other symptoms and again on consulting with his doctor they decided the best thing to do was not leave him up in an airplane for a couple of hours, but to turn around and land and check himself into the hospital for those tests.

They say fine spirits this morning. We are trying to get a bit more information though, John, on exactly, any additional symptoms he might have had and specifically on any -- not only the tests at the hospital but anything taken, common in these cases you get hydrated if you have flu-like symptoms or something like that. But we don't have the specifics just yet this morning.

ROBERTS: Pretty significant that they would actually turn the plane around and then take him directly to the hospital.

KING: That's right.

ROBERTS: John, thanks for that update. We'll see you back here in about half an hour's time with more analysis from the campaign trail. Looking forward to that. Alina?

KING: All right.

CHO: New CNN opinion research poll in Iowa released this morning, the top democratic candidates are in a statistical dead heat. Just four percentage points separate Hillary Clinton, Barack Obama and John Edwards. Over on the Republican side, the poll shows Mike Huckabee leading the pack still with 33 percent this time. Mitt Romney in second with 25 percent. Rudy Giuliani has 11 percent and John McCain and Fred Thompson tied at 9 percent.

Also new this morning, the tapes are gone but the paper trail remains. The CIA says it will release documents to Congress as early as today relating to terror interrogation tapes that were destroyed back in 2005. The decision came after the House Intelligence Committee threatened to subpoena two agency officials. The White House insisting there was no cover-up after "The New York Times" said four administration lawyers were in on the talks over whether to get rid of the tapes -- John?

ROBERTS: In Florida, four people are dead after this chemical blast, 14 others injured in it. The explosion obliterated (INAUDIBLE) laboratories plant and was felt by people nearly a mile away. The plant produces solvents and fuel additives. Witnesses described the chaos. Officials with the U.S. Chemical Safety Board are expected to arrive on the scene this morning to begin an investigation.

Take a look at these shots sent in by I-Reporter Eric Beatty. He lives about four miles away from the plant, tells us he thought the blast initially was a plane crash. If you have I-Reports of the blasts, send them in to us but remember in all cases, don't put yourself in harm's way and make sure that they're your photos and not somebody else's.

Is cancer a death sentence for uninsured patients? A study published overnight has some truly frightening findings. The American Cancer Society says the uninsured are nearly twice as likely to die within five years. This is the first national test of its kind and it's really one that sheds light on the troubling obstacles standing in the way of those without standard health care.

CHO: John, the remarkable story of a family who survived three days in the snowy California Mountains after getting lost while looking for a Christmas tree. We got new pictures just this morning taken by the Dominguez family. The first set showing them smiling as they're looking for their tree but these pictures later on in the ordeal show them huddling together and sticking their feet in each other's jackets to try to stay warm. Last night on "ANDERSON COOPER 360," Chris Dominguez described what it was like.


CHRIS DOMINGUEZ, RESCUED AFTER 3 DAYS IN THE WOODS: We were under a tree and my dad went to go get some more branches so that we can put it over the tree so that, because by then, the snow is going and going. It was getting thicker and thicker. And so he just went out and I was with Josh and Lexie and trying to keep them warm and he was out cutting branches to cover up the trees. We just all huddled up together and tried to stay as warm and out of the snow as we possibly could.


CHO: The father Frederick Dominguez actually used twigs to spell out the word help in the snow. They ate snow to survive and when they heard the helicopter, everyone did what they could to get noticed.


FREDERICK DOMINGUEZ, RESCUED AFTER 3 DAYS IN THE WOODS: My daughter heard a helicopter, dad, helicopter. So I jumped up bare- foot and all I ran across the rocks. When I found the snow it was deep by that time and then just started waving my hands. When they turned around, man, it was just like, I was just praising God and saying, thank you, Lord, thank you, Lord, because I knew we had made it at that time.


CHO: They're calling it a Christmas miracle. All four of them are expected to be OK despite a little frostbite and a touch of hypothermia. Guess what, all of them will join us tomorrow morning they will be our guests. And in just a couple of minutes we will talk to the pilot and to the paramedics who rescued the Dominguez family. John?

ROBERTS: Looking forward to all of that. Seven minutes after the hour now and time to check in with our AMERICAN MORNING team of correspondents for other stories new that we're following this morning.


ROBERTS: For the millions of Americans who are morbidly obese, new research suggests that weight loss surgery may be a good way to shed pounds and maybe even save your life. Dr. Sanjay Gupta is back with us now and a medical update desk. He has details on this good news for people who are very overweight. Sanjay?

DR. SANJAY GUPTA, CNN CHIEF MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: You know I was struck by a few things here John. First of all, about 200,000 of these procedures were performed last year. That was more than I thought and that's in the United States. Around the world the number of these weight loss operations have actually quadrupled so it's really popular, not just here but everywhere around the world. Talking about gastric bypass surgery, talking about lap band surgery. As you mentioned to try and help people lose weight who are morbidly obese.

The question for a long time is how good is it? How much of an impact does it make on one's overall health? New studies actually coming out talking specifically about the lower likelihood of death in the next several years, 40 percent decrease in death rates among people who had this operation who were morbidly obese. That's impressive. Heart disease goes down. Cancer deaths as you see there go down. But also things like diabetes, those improved.

Studies have shown over and over again, we've talked about this John. That just losing five to 10 percent of your body weight can have a significant impact on those things. There are people who try and diet, there are people who try and exercise to lose weight and they simply cannot. And for them if they are morbidly obese, what these studies are sort of pointing to is that these operations may provide a benefit not just in terms of slimming down but in terms of warding off some of those detrimental health effects as well. John?

ROBERTS: Sanjay, you keep using the phrase morbidly obese. How overweight do you have to be to qualify for the surgery or rather be a good candidate for the surgery? Are we talking 20, 30 pounds or more?

GUPTA: Well it's interesting, and this may be one of the most common questions I get. What the doctors will say is look you have to have a body mass index of 40 or higher. Whenever I say that people just look at me and say well, what does that mean? This is how I try and break it down for people. I think this is important. On average if you're a 5'4" woman, that usually means about 210 to 220 pounds. For a man who's 5'8", about 265 pounds plus. That generally is going to put you in that morbidly obese category.

One thing I should mention as well John, obviously there's a lot of virtues as you're hearing about possibly getting these operations, they are still major operations. Four out of a thousand people will have significant complications, even die from these operations. Despite the fact that you may qualify, despite the fact that you may have failed diet and exercise, this is still not something to be taken into lightly.

ROBERTS: But for some people it may be a good alternative. Sanjay Gupta for us this morning. Sanjay, thanks and of course Sanjay will be back a little bit later on with his mailbag answering some of your questions that you've been submitting over the week. Alina?

CHO: All right, thanks John. It's a number that could decide what you drive and where you live and the scoring system is changing. Our personal finance editor Gerri Willis with the shifting credit stores and what you need to know coming up.

They've been searching the snowy mountains for more than half an hour before they saw someone waving. We'll talk to the helicopter pilot and the paramedic who helped rescue the Dominguez family. A story we've been telling you about all morning long. That's ahead on AMERICAN MORNING, stay with us.


ROBERTS: Fourteen minutes after the hour. An amazing story of survival and a Christmas story to last a lifetime. Frederick Dominguez and his three kids went searching for a Christmas tree but instead ended up lost in the snowy California woods for three days. Yesterday, they were rescued.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) DOMINGUEZ: My daughter heard, dad, helicopter. So I jumped up bare-footed and all I ran across the rocks, fell in the snow and it was deep by that time, and then just started waving my hands. When they turned around, man, it was just like, I was just praising God and saying thank you lord, thank you lord. Because I knew we had made it at that time.


ROBERTS: You can imagine how you would feel. You see the helicopter, you're out there frantically waving and it turns around and comes to get you. Joining me now are the two men who discovered the missing family. Steve Ward, a California Highway Patrol helicopter pilot, David White a first officer and paramedic with the highway patrol, they join me now from Auburn, California. First of all gentlemen, let me say congratulations, great work that you did.

Thank you.

ROBERTS: Steve, so lay it out for us. You were the fellow who spotted the father down there frantically waving his arms. What was the scope of the search, what were the conditions like? Take us there.

STEVE WARD, PILOT, CA HIGHWAY PATROL: The conditions were miserable. We had been waiting for a window of opportunity to get up there because the weather was in, it was snowing. We had been up there for about 30 minutes searching and we were being forced out of this canyon because of the weather moving in. As we were working our way down and out of the canyon, I looked down through the chin bubble and I saw Mr. Dominguez climbing out of a culvert waving his hands.

So we started to orbit around him and as we did that, I looked down and Dave and I both saw help written in the snow with some branches. So we just formulated a plan to try to find a place to land which was close by and hovered down and landed and we made contact with the family.

ROBERTS: Amazing. So you actually hadn't seen the help sign that they put out there? It was the father running out waving his arms. Is it easier when you're in conditions like that to spot movement than something static on the ground?

WARD: That's what I saw. I saw him waving his arms. Had he not been moving we would not have seen him because the tree line was very dense and he came climbing out of a culvert. I caught his movement out of the chin bubble and we were just very lucky.

ROBERTS: Wow. Dave, you checked them out when you landed. How were they given the fact that they were out there in the wilderness for three days?

WARD: Officer White was the first one out to make contact with the family and maybe Dave can tell you how they were.

DAVID WHITE, FIRST OFFICER & PARAMEDIC, CA HIGHWAY PATROL: You know what? They were in remarkable condition. For them to actually get out and to walk up to the helicopter after three days in the subfreezing temperature with the snow on the ground, I was amazed. They complained about their feet hurting which is expected. They were wet, they were cold. But they were in very, very good condition.

ROBERTS: Dave, had you been running out of hope that the search would turn up anything? Three days is a long time to be lost out there.

WHITE: It sure is and with that kind of condition, we were hoping that we would have one of those miracles that we wouldn't be having a different story right now. So we are very, very happy when we found them waving at us.

ROBERTS: Were you surprised of their tenacity? They just went out for a couple of hours to try to find a Christmas tree and ended up having to spend that long out there in the snow. Were you surprised to see that they made it through and made it through in as good a condition as they did?

WHITE: Absolutely. I was very surprised. Like I said, the conditions up there were horrid. The small window of opportunity that we had to find them, it was just -- it was nothing short of a miracle.

ROBERTS: Wow. Steve, we hear about these situations, at least once a year, famous one of course last December in Oregon where that husband and wife went out in the wilderness, their car broke down, they got separated, she was rescued, he was later found dead. How can people avoid these situations? It seems to me that one of the interesting things about this case is they all stayed together awaiting rescue.

WARD: Yes, they stayed together. But just a reminder, if you're going to be hiking in the woods, it's always nice and you should have a backpack with you and possibly a hand-held GPS and a cell phone with you.

ROBERTS: So even if you're just going out to look for a Christmas tree, you should carry with you that survival equipment?

WARD: Yeah. If you're walking out in the woods where there is snow and you're going to be walking away from your vehicle, it's good to have that stuff with you.

ROBERTS: As you said, the conditions were so bad. You couldn't see people on the ground with the helicopter unless they were running out waving at you. You can imagine it's easy to get turned around too if you were there on the ground. Steve Ward, Dave White, from the California Highway Patrol. Again gentlemen, congratulation and thanks for being with us this morning. Appreciate it.

WARD: Thank you.

WHITE: Thank you.

ROBERTS: Tomorrow, a reminder here on AMERICAN MORNING, the whole Dominguez family is going to be joining us. We'll talk to them about their ordeal.

CHO: Talk about a Christmas miracle. You know they said that they actually talked about food while they were there. I'd try to avoid it but they were dreaming about soup, brownies and pizza. So hopefully they've been able to eat some of that.

Getting a first look inside the Eisenhower executive office building after a fire that damaged vice president Dick Cheney's office. This picture just into CNN. Take a look there. White House Press Secretary Dana Perino says the vice president's ceremonial office was damaged by smoke and water from fighting the flames. The fire broke out at the building right next door to the White House yesterday with camera crews from all over the world camped right outside. It was out within a half an hour. Felt like a lifetime to some people. Perino also said it appears the fire started in a second floor electrical closet.

States trying to clean up their own act, but the feds say no. Why new rules for greenhouse gases were shot down.

It's hard enough to get a mortgage, now it's getting even more confusing. Changes to your credit score and what it means for your financial future. That's ahead on AMERICAN MORNING.


ROBERTS: Twenty three minutes after the hour. Just in to CNN, President Bush will be holding a press conference in the Brady Briefing Room at the White House there at 10:00. Just after 10:00, 10:01:30, just enough time to get him on the air. This is traditionally his year-end wrap-up press conference, he does this every year. They don't like to give us too much advance notice. They like to spring these things on us.

CHO: We know it's going to happen, we just don't know exactly when, so now we know.

ROBERTS: Another surprise, but they like to spring it on us. The president will be talking about the legislative session for 2007, talking apparently about the good, the bad, and the unfinished when it comes to legislation. We'll of course have live coverage of that for you this morning, 10:00 a.m. Eastern here on CNN.

CHO: Going to have a long opening statement about eight minutes and then he will take lots and lots of questions, we expect.

ROBERTS: He likes to do these things because it signals that, OK, now he can get out of town for the holidays.

CHO: That's right. Head to Crawford.

Time now for our hot shot of the morning. Anyone can put Christmas lights on a house but it takes, well, a special person to put them on their body. Take a look at this Candy Strand in Tallahassee, Florida covers herself from head-to-toe in lights and then dances around in front of her house every night during the holiday season. Now that takes some guts! She usually spends about four hours a night dancing for folks in the neighborhood. That is some sight. If you've got a hot shot send it to us, the address Be sure to include your name, where you're from, a little bit about the picture or video and one more thing. Of course, make sure the image is yours and not somebody else's.

ROBERTS: The company that produces credit scores is changing the way that it scores you.

CHO: How could that change the game when you go for your next car loan or your mortgage? CNN's personal finance editor Gerri Willis is here with what this all means for you. It's so confusing when I was reading the research. A lot of it doesn't make sense, so break it down.

GERRI WILLIS, CNN PERSONAL FINANCE EDITOR: Well I'm telling you, credit scoring itself is always confusing but what FICO is trying to do, the folks there, they want to change credit scoring because in the wake of the mortgage meltdown, they're trying to figure out a way to make credit scoring more accurate, make it make more sense. You know your FICO score is your financial DNA. It determines how much you pay for loans, whether you get a job even, it's really important. Let's look at the changes here. Basically it stops authorized user provisions.

What that means if you gave your wife a credit card in our name that you pay you're not going to be allowed to do that anymore. If you gave the college student, your kids, a credit card you can't do that anymore. There will be higher penalties for delinquencies, more points for on-time payment and if you have different kinds of debt out there, mortgage, credit cards, that's all going to benefit you.

ROBERTS: So what do people need to do to make sure that they're not hurt by the change?

WILLIS: Well, if you're one of these authorized users you need to go out and establish your own credit score, your own credit history. Because without it it's difficult to get a job, it's difficult to get a loan so you really need to do that. Now more than ever you have to pay those cards off on time because you're really going to be penalized for it. And you may feel like, because this system is going to boost scores for a lot of people a little bit and the penalties are not high for having a lot of cards you may think, hey, I'm going to go out there and I'm going to open up a bunch of cards. I don't recommend that. It's an encouragement to have more debt.

ROBERTS: Just to ask you for clarification, do you need to pay the cards off on time or make sure that you make the payments on the card?

WILLIS: I'm talking about making the payments on time each and every month because that's really what's going to hurt your credit score.

CHO: But you also should limit your credit, you shouldn't be too close to your credit limit, right?

WILLIS: That's right. You want to make sure that when you take those credit cards out if you have a 10,000 dollar limit that you're not spending up to $10,000. That really penalizes you.

CHO: Where can people go to find their new credit scores? You should wait a while to do it, right?

WILLIS: Yeah, this isn't going to go into effect until the middle of next year, probably at the earliest. Go to, you can pay $16, get your credit score. That's the one you want to look at. This is the one that most banks and financial institutions use. Take a look at that. It's always good to know your credit score.

ROBERTS: Yeah, you don't want to end up like that guy playing the guitar in the seafood restaurant, like we see on television. Gerri thanks very much. Are you going to have more of this on "OPEN HOUSE" this weekend?

WILLIS: We're talking about a lot of things on "OPEN HOUSE." We're going to have a lot of holiday information this weekend. How to spend your money most efficiently and what to worry about if you're shopping sales this weekend.

ROBERTS: All right, 9:30 on Saturday and then repeats 3 o'clock Saturday and Sunday afternoon.

WILLIS: 3:30 p.m. on Headline News Saturday and Sunday.

CHO: Looking forward to it.

ROBERTS: Red Sox pitcher Curt Schilling says Roger Clemens should lose his last four Cy Young awards. He has won a record seven of them. The problem is that Clemens was named in the Mitchell report as having used steroids and human growth hormone from 1998 to 2001. Schilling wrote on his blog that Clemens should either get his lawyers to get a retraction, not just ask for one, but get them or baseball should take his awards away. Clemens has denied ever taking steroids or human growth hormone.

It brings us to this morning's quick vote question, should Roger Clemens have to give those four Cy Young awards back? Cast your vote at Right now 67 percent of you say yes, 33 percent say no. We'll continue to tally the votes throughout the morning.

CHO: From the lab to your dinner table. We'll tell you about a system for tracking cloned livestock to let consumers know exactly what they are eating.

And Rudy Giuliani's health scare. How is he doing and when will he go back on the campaign trail? We'll have that and the rest of today's news when AMERICAN MORNING returns. Stay with us.


CHO: Welcome back everybody. It's Thursday, December 20th. I'm Alina Cho. Kiran Chetry has the morning off.

ROBERTS: Good morning to you, I'm John Roberts.

This just in to CNN, President Bush holding his final news conference of 2007 at 10:00 a.m. eastern time. It's a live look at the White House for you now. White House Press Secretary Dana Perino says that the president will take an opportunity to wrap up the end of the legislative session for 2007, talking about the good, the bad and the unfinished when it comes to legislation. He is also expected to say that lawmakers have a responsibility to work through 2008 on issues of importance to the American people, even though it is an election year. CNN of course, will have live coverage of the president's news conference at 10:00 a.m. Eastern.

Also breaking news this morning. Republican presidential candidate Rudy Giuliani will be checking out of a St. Louis hospital later on today and returning to New York. He was admitted late last night after suffering what his campaign calls flu-like symptoms. A Giuliani spokeswoman says precautionary tests were done at the hospital and found nothing of concern. The aide says Giuliani had suffered from a severe headache and other symptoms. He apparently wasn't feeling well all day Wednesday as he campaigned throughout Missouri.

He even sat down for a lengthy interview with CNN's Wolf Blitzer during yesterday's "SITUATION ROOM" in Columbia, Missouri. It probably was not a result of the interview but he later became very ill and then felt worse after his plane took off for New York. They actually had to turn the plane around after a consultation with his personal physician and went back to St. Louis. Giuliani's next campaign events are tomorrow in New Hampshire. Aides say it's likely he will be able to make all of them. Alina?

CHO: But he's cleared his schedule today. Also new this morning, the remarkable story of a family who survived three days in the snowy California mountains after getting lost while looking for a Christmas tree. We have some new pictures this morning taken by the Dominguez family. The first set showing them smiling as they're looking for the tree but things got worst quickly. These pictures from later on in the ordeal show them huddling together and sticking their feet in each other's jackets to try to stay warm. The father, Frederick Dominguez, spoke last night about how he felt while trying to stay strong for his kids.


F. DOMINGUEZ: I'm scared. You know you can't let them know you're scared so I'm telling them we're going to be all right, I promise you we'll be all right. So I was relying on God. I just said, God, I completely need you now because my kids, you know, you go into survival mode. And every parent would do that. You know you should just go into survival mode. You will do anything to sacrifice yourself because it's your kids. These are your kids.

(END OF VIDEO CLIP) CHO: They actually made it home in their hospital gowns last night. And last night on "ANDERSON COOPER 360" Christopher Dominguez described the elation he felt when the family saw the helicopter in the sky.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)X C. DOMINGUEz: I told my dad, the helicopter, the helicopter! Josh saw the helicopter. My dad he just ran out there and started waving his arms screaming help, help! And that's when they started circling and going down and going down and we were all just happy, happy to be rescued!


CHO: That's the understatement of the year. All four of them are expected to be OK, despite a little frostbite and a touch of hypothermia. And guess what, all of them will join us as our guests tomorrow on AMERICAN MORNING.

A bid by the states to reel in greenhouse gases has been shot down by the EPA. The fed said no to California's bid to place its own emission limits on cars, trucks and SUVs. 16 other states were waiting to see if that would go through. The decision is being looked at as a victory for automakers naturally because many cars currently in the showrooms right now wouldn't meet state requirements. The EPA says the Bush administration is moving forward with a national solution, not a patchwork of state rules.

A new system to track cloned animals is designed to ease consumer concerns about eating cloned livestock or their offspring. The country's two largest cloning companies are proposing a national registry to follow cloned animals as they move through the food processing chain. It would allow food to be labeled, quote, "clone free." That would be good for consumers. The Food and Drug Administration says it hasn't found any risks in eating cloned livestock but hasn't formally approved the program. John?

ROBERTS: On the heels of the alleged rape of a KBR employee in Iraq more female contractors are now coming forward with claims of sexual assault. Jamie Leigh Jones told a house sub committee that the problem goes beyond her. Congressman Ted Post says three women have reported attacks while working for KBR, a former subsidiary of Halliburton. Jones is suing both companies saying she was raped in July of 2005 by a coworker. She told lawmakers there are nearly a dozen other victims.


JAMIE LEIGH JONES, FORMER KBR CONTRACTOR: Numerous other women have contacted me who were assaulted and raped and were then retaliated against for reporting those attacks. There are at least 11 others that my attorneys are aware of.

(END OF VIDEO CLIP) ROBERTS: Officials from the justice department refused to attend the hearing saying they have an ongoing investigation. KBR says her lawsuit is without merit.

Controversy in Nicaragua over the fate of an American cleared of raping and killing his ex-girlfriend. Eric Volz has been ordered released by a Nicaraguan appeals court, but prosecutors say they are going to appeal. During his trial ten witnesses claimed Volz was somewhere else when his ex was killed. But a man who was originally charged with the crime was offered immunity and testified that he saw Volz nearby. Volz' mother is now in Nicaragua. She is demanding his immediate release.

CHO: Thirty-six minutes after the hour. New numbers just in to CNN on the gross domestic product, the GDP. What does it mean for the economy? Ali Velshi minding your business. So is this good news or bad news Ali?

ALI VELSHI: Good news. The GDP is the growth in the economy as measured by many different things. Let me tell you a little bit about GDP. It's the market value of all the goods and services that are produced by the United States. An all inclusive measure. Now for July through September, the economy grew by 4.9 percent. This is the number we already had but we always get a final confirmation and that's what we got this morning. Stock investors like a strong GDP, it means there will be good corporate profits.

However, strong GDP can trigger inflation because that means there's lots of money out there, there's lots of demand. And negative GDP can mean a recession. In fact, typically it's not the real definition of it but a couple of quarters, which means six months of negative GDP is what we described as a recession. So, so many of our viewers out there think that we're already in a recession, we're not. We're 4.9 percent growth on the upside. You have to be negative to actually have a recession.

Now, the cloud around this one is that most people suspect that the final three months of this year of 2007 will drop to somewhere between one and one a half percent and we could go lower next year. So we're not out of the woods, but we did have a few strong months in the middle of the year.

CHO: Glimmer of hope. All right, Ali Velshi, minding your business, thanks.

ROBERTS: It is approaching 38 minutes after the hour. The latest Iowa CNN Opinion Research Corporation polls are out this morning. On the Republican side Mike Huckabee out in front with 33 percent. Just behind him is Mitt Romney with 25 percent. Rudy Giuliani in third with 11 percent and John McCain and Fred Thompson are both tied for fourth place. On the democratic side, it is still a statistical dead heat. CNN's chief national correspondent John King joins us now live from Indianola, Iowa with more.

When you look at Huckabee's lead John, he's stretching it out there, but when you look at the issues, he's only leading on one issue, abortion. Mitt Romney leads on three most bread and butter issues. Rudy Giuliani on terrorism and John McCain on the war. Can Huckabee translate his single issue appeal, it is a single issue appeal, into a win in Iowa?

KING: Well, that is the defining question John, with two weeks to go until the Iowa caucuses, I would take it a bit further than that. There was no question that his biggest appeal is among evangelicals who listen to him, oppose abortion, listen to him, oppose same sex marriage and say this is the man we've been looking for. Remember three or four months ago John, we were talking about the conservative base and the party is still frustrated, still looking for a candidate, well here in Iowa they have found one in Mike Huckabee.

But it's not just his positions on the issues, they like him and they trust him. And that likeability and the trust factor is helping Mike Huckabee here. Again though, you mentioned an important point, some of the other issues are just as or equally important. The economy for one, Mitt Romney leads on that issue. It is one of the issues he will hammer in the final two weeks here, trying to say that Mike Huckabee as governor of Arkansas was to the left of Bill Clinton. We'll see if it works.

ROBERTS: Hillary Clinton the other hand leads on all of the issues except for the environment but the Democratic race is much closer. How do you account for that?

KING: The Democratic race is -- I've essentially it comes down with some of the same factors in the Republican race. Likeability is a big factor her. Personal characteristics are wining out over the issues in the state of Iowa. We see a different thing in our polling yesterday. In New Hampshire, which you're right, Hillary Clinton is feeling better though here in Iowa this week than she was last week, in the sense that her position on the issues, whether it's the economy and healthcare, has stabilized. And she is ahead of her rival.

So she will try to play that up but right now the Democrats here in Iowa seem to be ready for a presidential candidate they like, someone with the personal characteristics they like. Which is why you see Hillary Clinton not only stressing the issues in which she has strength, but also trying the softer approach in her advertising and events, trying to deal with the likeability factor.

ROBERTS: John, we've been talking all morning about the fact that Rudy Giuliani had to interrupt his campaign because he went to the hospital there in St. Louis not feeling well. He was campaigning in Missouri while almost everyone else was either in Iowa or New Hampshire or South Carolina. What's he doing in Missouri?

KING: It's the lake state strategy John and it is a risky strategy and that risk was exacerbated, amplified overnight by a new NBC? Wall Street Journal public. It showed that Rudy Giuliani dropped 13 points nationally last month. He's no longer the clear national frontrunner, he's now tied with Mitt Romney nationally. And the question is, will that have a domino effect? Giuliani told Wolf Blitzer yesterday well he's ahead like 18 or 20 of the two dozen states that will vote on February 5th. But most of those states have been following the national poll lead. Now that Giuliani does not look so strong, does not necessary look like the most electable Republican next November, it will be interesting to see over the next week or ten days if those state polls shift as well. If they do, Giuliani's decision to not play as hard in the early states like Iowa, New Hampshire and South Carolina could come back and hurt him in a very big way -- John?

ROBERTS: Maybe having to scramble a little bit there. John King for us this morning, Indianola, Iowa. John, thanks -- Alina?

CHO: All right thanks John. If you're just waking up on the west coast, coming up in about 20 minutes the nominations for the Screen Actor's Guild Awards will be announced out West. So far this is the only show given a waiver by the Writer's Guild to hire writers. And you're looking at a live picture there of the silver screen theater at the Pacific Design Center in West Hollywood. The Screen Actor's Guild by the way has been an ally of the writer's union and many of the actors have picketed alongside the writers. The academy awards and the Golden Globes were both denied waivers.

A robber fights a clerk and the clerk actually won. We're going to show you how he put the bat to the bad guy. And up next, Dr. Sanjay Gupta opens up his mailbag to answer your questions. One of them, what are the side affects of downing too much caffeine? Uh, uh. Find out next on AMERICAN MORNING.


BARNEY GIMBEL, WRITER, FORTUNE: Eco friendly hotel tips on this week's "Road Warriors." Treat a hotel room like your own home and one way you can do that is by turning off the lights when you leave, simple stuff. Turn off the air conditioner when you leave. Put a note on the air conditioning make sure the cleaning crew doesn't turn it back on. Little things like that really make a difference. Conserve water and energy by simply not having them change your sheets everyday. A lot of the hotels now have cards that you can put on your bed in your bathroom that says please state here if you don't want me to change the sheets, if you don't want me to change the towels. Bring your own shampoo and conditioner to a hotel. Using those little bottles they give you, while that's nifty, wastes a lot of plastic or takes a lot of energy to produce.



ROBERTS: Forty-six minutes after the hour. A would-be robber is foiled by a store clerk who wouldn't back down. The man entered a convenience store in Lowell, Massachusetts with a knife, demanding cash but the clerk Perry Ashford fought back with a bigger weapon. He grabbed a baseball bat and also pepper sprayed the guy.


PERRY ASHFORD, STORE CLERK: The next time somebody comes in and robs me, I said I'm going to spray him with the spray, beat him with the bat and then call the cops.


ROBERTS: And he certainly made good on that promise. The suspect punched the clerk before running away without any money. Ashford says it's the third time he has been robbed while working at the convenience store. He says if it happens again, he'll react exactly the same way. Not to be recommended though. All week we asked you to send your health related questions into our resident expert, Dr. Sanjay Gupta.

CHO: Well now he's opening up his mail bag, chief medical correspondent and live in Atlanta for us. So, Sanjay, a lot of viewers have been emailing us about this high fructose corn syrup. A lot of people are confused about it. So, is it dangerous to have in your food or not?

DR. SANJAY GUPTA, CNN CHIEF MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: Well high fructose corn syrup is a sweetener that has high calories and low nutritious value. We talked about this a couple of days ago because they were thinking about imposing a tax on high fructose items in San Francisco. Yeah, if it's one of those substances that sounds like bad for you as really as it doesn't do anything good for you. There's a lot of corn out there and a lot of that corn is turned into this high fructose substance.

Now, people want to avoid it because they're concerned about obesity, they're concerned about getting too much of the substance into themselves or their children. You have to stick to the basics. I know that's easier said than done sometimes, but fresh fruits and vegetables, water instead of sugary sodas and really read the labels. Because you'll see these high fructose substance in so many processed foods out there. Take the time to read the labels and try to find things that avoid that.

ROBERTS: Sanjay, our second question comes to us from Willie, he's in Layton, Utah, talking about the HIB vaccine recall. Can you explain more about the vaccine recall, which was mentioned on AMERICAN MORNING last week?

GUPTA: Yes, so the HIB vaccine first of all is for Haemophilus Influenza, type B. That's a bacteria, it's not the flu shot, this is a bacterial vaccine. The problem was in the whole process of creating that particular batch of vaccine, there was a concern that part of the sterilization process was missed and there was a risk of bacteria actually getting into it and contaminating the vaccine. There weren't any reported cases of that but because that particular process had been missed, they recalled it.

Now if your child did get the vaccine and they're doing OK, they're still vaccinated. The vaccine still worked but there was concern because of so many of these vaccines being recalled, but there's now fewer than they expected. So they're asking children between the ages of 12 and 15 months to defer this. They're asking the parents obviously on behalf of the children to defer this until some more of the vaccine comes in. CHO: All right Sanjay, we have a question from Vatsalya in Morrisville, North Carolina, kind of about all of those energy drinks that are so popular like red bull. So, can too much caffeine be bad for you? I'm really concerned about this one.

GUPTA: You know what's funny Vatsalya and Alina, we get this question a lot and there was an interesting study that came out. We actually talked about this on AMERICAN MORNING, about the fact that if you drink a lot of these energy drinks, even if you're a healthy person, it can increase your heart rate by about nine percent, increase your blood pressure about 10 percent. Now if you're a healthy person, have had no heart problems, this really is going to be inconsequential for you, you're not going to have problems with this in the long term. If you're someone who has had some heart problems in the past, you probably do need to watch it.

Two-hundred milligrams of caffeine a day is sort of the upper limit of normal. Most Americans get more than that, especially if they start their caffeine consumption the morning and continue it all day long. Also, there's something else that's worth pointing out and they talk about this with regard to energy drinks. Something known as Saturday night syndrome, young people actually combining these energy drinks with alcohol. Alcohol is typically a depressant, yet the energy drink which is sort of a stimulant and you have people being wide awake while they're doing really dumb things. The Saturday Night Syndrome they call it.

CHO: The red bull's and vodka, I heard about that.

ROBERTS: Not just young people drinking ---

CHO: What do you mean?

GUPTA: Spoken like someone who knows John.

ROBERTS: Sanjay, thanks very much. "CNN NEWSROOM" just minutes away now, Heidi Collins at the CNN Center with a look at what's ahead.

Good morning, Heidi.

HEIDI COLLINS, CNN ANCHOR: Good morning to you John. That's right we have these stories coming up in the "NEWSROOM" rundown this morning. They didn't come back with the Christmas tree, they came back with their lives. Dad and three kids survived days in a snowy wilderness. It's a great story. And this one, her husband set her on fire, she survived but lost the will to live. Now, she looks to help others with her own recovery.

And what are the odds of this? Driver plows into not just one pool, but two, and she feels blessed. Join Tony Harris and me in the "NEWSROOM," we get started at the top of the hour, right here on CNN -- John?

ROBERTS: If you're going to drive into a pool better to drive into it while it's frozen I guess.

COLLINS: Yeah, and twice.

ROBERTS: Heidi, thanks, we'll see you soon.

CHO: Stay with us, coming up, the most memorable quotes of '07. Can you guess which ones made the list. Our Veronica De La Cruz will fill us in. That's ahead on AMERICAN MORNING.


ROBERTS: Well as we wrap up 2007 and prepare to usher in 2008, it's time to take a look back at some of the most memorable quotes of the year. And our Veronica De La Cruz has been looking through them and joins us now with a few. Good morning.

VERONICA DE LA CRUZ, INTERNET CORRESPONDENT: Good morning to you. Yale Book of Quotations editor, he has released his top 10 for 2007. And a lot of these quotes were made popular thanks to the internet. Coming in at number three, Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadenijad, who raised eyebrows with this comment.


AHMADENIJAD: In Iran we don't have homosexuals like in your country.


DE LA CRUZ: Yeah, you might remember that one. Ahmadenijad there making that remark at Columbia University in New York.


DE LA CRUZ: Pretty funny. Number two, who can forget this one as well, Ms. Teen South Carolina and her pageant answer to a question on geography. Take a listen.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I personally believe that U.S. Americans are unable to do so because some people out there in our nation don't have that and I believe that our education like such as South Africa and the Iraq, everywhere like such as. And I believe that they --


ROBERTS: Who can forget the great American map show of 2007.

CHO: It' a good thing she's cute.

DE LA CRUZ: Well that one is popular on the web. Also this one, extremely popular on the web, it is the most memorable quote of the year from University of Florida student, Andrew Meier.


Don't tase me bro? Don't tase me, I didn't do anything. (END VIDEO CLIP)

DE LA CRUZ: Remember that one. Getting kicked out of Kerry's speech. You have no idea, this thing exploded all over the web, also made it into a cell phone ring tone. There was even a video game that was made. T-shirts, comic books, everything.

CHO: It was the screen saver of at least one of our producers as well.

ROBERTS: And quote of the year, there you go.

CHO: But the quote of the year. There is the video game you can find it on Youtube, it's absolutely amazing.

ROBERTS: Veronica thanks. We'll see you again tomorrow.


CHO: Got a lot ahead on AMERICAN MORNING, stay with us, we're back on the other side of the break.


ROBERTS: Final check of the quick vote this morning. We asked should Roger Clemons give his Cy Young awards back. Curt Shilling says yes. Sixty-nine percent of you agree, 31 percent say no thanks very much for playing today we'll do it all again tomorrow.

CHO: There was a spectacular crash at a cycling race in Melbourne, Australia last night. Take a look at these pictures. Most of the pack crashed one writer fell. Wiping out the rest to cause a chain reaction just 450 feet from the finish line. 17-year old Jamie (INAUDIBLE) cart wheeled out of control across the fence lining the track. He flew nearly 30 feet causing that domino effect in which 13 other riders fell.

ROBERTS: That will leave a mark.

CHO: The remaining four cyclists sailed on through to the finish, miraculously Cras(ph) escaped without serious injury. Twelve of the other riders suffered cuts and bruises, but all of them managed to walk away from the crash. The accident happened, by the way, in front of a capacity crowd of 5,000. And there I saw you know a thing or two about bicycle crashes. Thankfully you're OK though.

ROBERTS: I wasn't in a pack like that on Thanksgiving Day, over the handle bars, landed on my head, broke a bone in my neck.

CHO: But you're on the mend.

ROBERTS: Well thanks so much for joining us on this AMERICAN MORNING. We'll see you again tomorrow.