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Cairo in Complete Lockdown; Pennsylvania School Experiments With Segregation; Amazon eBooks Outsell Paperbacks; Deadly Nerve Agent Disappears; Egypt Erupting; Mandela's Health Scare

Aired January 28, 2011 - 05:56   ET


T.J. HOLMES, CNN ANCHOR: Ahead on this AMERICAN MORNING, Egypt is erupting. Right now, Cairo is on lockdown. The Internet shut down. This is expected to be a huge day of protests. Are they are on the brink of a revolution? Also President Obama weighing in.

KATE BOULDAN, CNN ANCHOR: And a Utah Army base is also shut down after a deadly nerve agent disappeared. It was only a quarter of a teaspoonful, but it could have been catastrophic. We'll tell you where the chemical finally turned up.

HOLMES: Also, a Pennsylvania high school being accused of going backwards, segregating students. But they say they're trying to boost test scores. Can this work?

BOULDAN: And attention, all you snackers. That would be me and T.J. included. If you're craving a Cheese Doodle, perhaps, or reaching for those Ruffles this morning, wait until you hear what those salty snacks will do to your body 30 minutes after you swallow.

HOLMES: Yes. We've got a lot to talk about this morning. That's a story you certainly want to hear. Kate and I will be back in just a moment. Hope you stick around for AMERICAN MORNING.


HOLMES: Ahead on this AMERICAN MORNING, Egypt is erupting. Right now, Cairo is on lockdown. The Internet is shut down. And this is expected to be a huge day of protests. Are they are on the brink of a revolution? Also, President Obama weighing in.

BOLDUAN: And a Utah army base is also shut down after a deadly nerve agent disappeared. It was only a quarter of a teaspoonful but it could have been catastrophic. We'll tell you where the chemical finally turned up.

HOLMES: Also, a Pennsylvania high school being accused of going backwards, segregating students but they say they're trying to boost test scores. Can this work?

BOLDUAN: And attention all you snackers. That would be me and T.J. included. If you're craving a cheese doodle perhaps or reaching for those Ruffles this morning, wait until you hear what those salty snacks will do to your body 30 minutes after you swallow. HOLMES: Yes. We've got a lot to talk about this morning. And that's a story you certainly want to hear. Kate and I will be back in just a moment. Hope you stick around for AMERICAN MORNING.


HOLMES: Good morning. Nelson Mandela hospitalized. Amid growing concern and speculation about his health, we are just though getting new information.

BOLDUAN: And a Pennsylvania school trying a very unusual experiment. Separating kids by gender, language, even race. Why they say it's helping kids learn. This is AMERICAN MORNING.

Good morning, everybody. It is Friday, thank goodness. January 28th, 6:00 here in the East. I'm Kate Bolduan in for Kiran Chetry this morning.

HOLMES: And good morning to you. It's been a while since I've had a chance to work with you.

BOLDUAN: I know.

HOLMES: It's good to be back with you. And hello to you all. I'm T.J. Holmes. I want to start with what we are seeing right now in the Arab world. Something that is simply unprecedented.

It seems that one after the other now, country after country, we are starting to see protests and turmoil and sometimes even violence in the streets. We're seeing these clashes happen in a number of Arab nations and many are calling this a domino effect.

One of the latest we're seeing is in Yemen. Clashes taking place there. This, of course, a key Al Qaeda battleground where stability in this country is vital. But thousands of people have been taking to the streets there and the latest round of protests we're seeing against their president there.

BOLDUAN: But so far, the biggest clashes and maybe the most troubling to the U.S. are, of course, in Egypt, a nation on the brink really right now. This morning, it is bracing for possibly the largest protests it has seen all week. The police presence is growing, we're told, and we are hearing that a prominent opposition leader was arrested and it has already turned deadly. At least six people have been killed.

You're seeing the video right there. We want to -- seeing video of the protest right there. We want to show you also a video shot from Sinai. It's disturbing to watch. We want to warn you of that. It shows a man actually being shot. He is on the left of the screen you're seeing there. And you can see him picking up a rock and walking several steps and then he is shot by security services.

HOLMES: We want to turn to our Fred Pleitgen who is in Cairo for us this morning. Fred, good morning to you. We're hearing several things. And I wondered if you can you set the stage for us. This was supposed to be the big day of protest, the day of anger some were even calling it. How are things so far and also give us the update on the Internet in and messaging services being blocked out?

FREDERIK PLEITGEN, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Sure. Absolutely, T.J. Basically what's happening right now is that the security services here in Cairo are bracing for what's to come. I can show you that even right in front of our office which is in downtown Cairo, you can see security forces there lining up at the other side of the street. A lot of that is happening here in downtown, especially in a place called Tahrir Square, which is sort of the main square where these protests started out a couple of days ago. And there you can really see security forces amassing as well.

What happened is about half an hour ago, Friday prayers ended here. So right now, we expect that things if they do kick off, they will kick off in the next couple of hours, maybe the next 1 1/2 hours or so.

You're absolutely right that this is the day that many believe will be the biggest day of protest here in Egypt. And it really is in question whether or not the government might survive this day if, in fact, it turns out to be as big as people think. The organizers say they want about one million people to attend at least throughout the country. This again, of course, is something that is being organized via Twitter and Facebook where people are trying to update each other and you alluded to the fact that the government has tried curtail that by cutting the Internet. That is, in fact, the case.

Most Internet providers are down. Certainly ours here are down. We're trying to find ways to get around that. Cell phone usage has also been cut and you can see sort of online how people on Twitter are trying to advise each other about certain small, little Internet providers that are still working. They're asking people who have password shield and Internet access with that small provider to open that for other people to use and there are even people going door-to- door to organize as many as possible for this protest that many believe could be a pivotal moment in this country's history, T.J.

HOLMES: And Frederik, the president there, Hosni Mubarak, has so far been fairly absent and silent. Have we heard much of anything from him? Do we expect to hear anything from him?

PLEITGEN: We've not heard anything from him at all. He has indeed, as we say, been absolutely silent throughout all of this. What we have heard, however, is we've heard statements from the ruling party which many say have been nothing short of disappointing. They say it appears as though the government is in a state of denial. They had a press conference which they held yesterday where they talked about, you know, possibly having talks with these people who organized these protests. But at the same time they said that the clashes were only being conducted by people who are troublemakers, who are coming from the outside. And that's certainly not something that we've been seeing as we've been on the streets here especially in towns like Suez where you've seen these big clashes. People there told us they're fed up. There's very high unemployment. They don't believe that they have the opportunities that they should have. And inflation also is killing them. And also the big thing that a lot of people are calling for is more social justice here in this country which as we've seen in the past couple of days does have a very, very repressive security apparatus -- T.J.

HOLMES: All right. Frederik Pleitgen on the ground for us in Cairo. Frederik, we're going to continue to check in with you throughout the morning. Thanks so much.

BOLDUAN: And after three days of silence, President Obama is now pressuring President Mubarak to listen to the Egyptian people and make some, quote, "absolutely critical reforms," calling on both sides really to work things out peacefully.


BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: My main hope right now is that violence is not the answer in solving these problems in Egypt, so the government has to be careful about not resorting to violence and the people on the streets have to be careful not to resort to violence.


HOLMES: This is a delicate dance for the president really and the Obama administration and this country because Hosni Mubarak is a strong U.S. ally. There's an "A.M. Extra" for you now. Egypt gets about $1.3 billion a year in U.S. aid. That is the fourth most of any country after Afghanistan, Pakistan and Israel. Meanwhile, Egypt has been critical in the peace process, even helped to mediate some negotiations with Hamas, help get some cease-fire agreements in place. Also, Egypt hosts every two years something called "Operation Bright Star." That is the largest multilateral military exercise with America in the Mideast.

Also, the president you may remember, he chose Cairo, Eygypt in June 2009 for his big speech to the Muslim world. You have been hearing a lot about social media and the critical role it is playing right now in Egypt and people trying to organize and get the message out. Well, coming up in just a few minutes, we're going to be touching base with our Mohammed Jamjoom. He has the update on the social media. He's at our CNN International desk.

BOLDUAN: Also new this morning, NASA marking a somber anniversary today. It was 25 years ago, if you can believe it, today that the shuttle Challenger exploded over Florida. Seven astronauts died aboard Challenger including a school teacher Christa McAuliffe. You'll never forget that. The crew will be honored this morning during a special service at the Kennedy Space Center.

And former South African President Nelson Mandela is being discharged from a Johannesburg hospital this morning. At a news conference just within the past half hour, the government officials said the 92-year-old Mandela suffered an acute respiratory infection. Mandela will receive treatment at home. Officials say he is in good condition and there's no reason to panic about his health. That's good news. HOLMES: Yes, always a concern. He's 92. He looks great. But still any time there's any little thing with him people start to speculate. Nice to know he's going to be discharged.

BOLDUAN: Exactly.

HOLMES: All right. We're dealing with the weather. You came up from D.C.


HOLMES: You've all been getting hit certainly there a lot. New York as well.

BOLDUAN: Has had enough.

HOLMES: Enough. That's a good way to put it. Enough, folks. But New York right now has been a little aggressive in its efforts that are still under way trying to clear the side streets. Amtrak, an update here, has resumed service between Washington and Boston. The airports back up and running in the region as well, but still going to take some time to get back on those regular schedules. A lot of things were cancelled and delayed. So everything is open. That's a good start. It's still going to take a little while to get back on track.

BOLDUAN: Talking about getting back on track, this is an interesting one. During the storm about 100 subway riders here in New York City, only New York City I would like to add, had no choice but to take over a subway train. Yes. They took it over. It all happened about 2:00 a.m. yesterday morning. That's when passengers were diverted to a station in Coney Island and told service was shut down. I guess they had nowhere to go. A conductor opened the doors to a stalled train and turned on the heat for them. Not long after that, transit police told the folks they had to go. But they refused to budge.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I said I have nowhere to go. I'm not leaving, you know. You know, there's no way I'm going to get home because I remember the blizzard.


BOLDUAN: I am not leaving. They all ended up staying on the train until service was restored around 6:00 a.m.

HOLMES: Well, let's turn to Rob Marciano now.

BOLDUAN: That's something hard.

HOLMES: Yes. Rob, you do what you have to do. Where do you want those folks to go? But anymore snow? You said this thing is going to kind of get out of here. Someone said yesterday. Are we done? ROB MARCIANO, AMS METEOROLOGIST: That storm is done.

HOLMES: Sounds like another one.

BOLDUAN: Yes, but --

MARCIANO: That one was not quite over yet. Before we get to the forecast, I want to run down some of these numbers. Here are some of the records not only in New York but in New Jersey and parts of Connecticut for the month of January as far as the record amount of snowfall that we've seen.

Three feet in Central Park. The old record setback in 1925, 27 inches. Newark seeing over three feet. LaGuardia 32 inches. And Bridgeport seeing over 40 inches. So, that's the record for January. The all-time record for Central Park is 36.9 inches. That means in the next couple of days if we can get one inch of snow, it will be the snowiest month on record. That was set, by the way, in February of last year.

Temperatures cold enough for snow. There's a little bit of snow approaching the I-95 corridor but this is a very weak system. But it may be enough to squeeze a half an inch or an inch of snow out. But that's it. And we'll see snow showers throughout the weekend. But if we get an inch, you know, we have bragging rights for being the snowiest month on record.

HOLMES: That is nothing.

BOLDUAN: No one wants bragging rights for that.

HOLMES: No, we don't.

MARCIANO: I know but, you know --

BOLDUAN: Do we even need to talk about -- I mean, I come from a sunny state (ph), but T.J., he just bought his first pair of snow boots.


MARCIANO: It's better than blowing out the record by 10 inches, you know.

HOLMES: Good to see you buddy. We'll talk to you plenty throughout this morning.

MARCIANO: All right. See you.

BOLDUAN: Thanks.

HOLMES: Well, coming up, a story that is going to get you talking. A Pennsylvania high school trying something that the courts said you can't try. Segregation. But the school says they're trying to help the students. We'll explain.

HOLMES: And girl scouts cutting back on their cookie varieties. So thin mints in or out? I want to know. We'll tell you.

HOLMES: I'll update that for you. And also, Charlie Sheen had to be rushed to the hospital. This story involves porn stars, prostitutes and a suitcase full of cocaine. We'll explain. It's 11 minutes past the hour.

BOLDUAN: Good morning, everybody.


HOLMES: Fourteen minutes past the hour. Welcome back to this AMERICAN MORNING.

This is going to have a lot of people outraged when you hear it. A Pennsylvania school trying segregation. This is in McCaskey East High School in Lancaster, Pennsylvania. But let me explain what they're doing here.

This is a voluntary mentoring program. And what they do every morning for six minutes, it's kind of a homeroom, they separate the students by gender and by race. They place the students into a room with a teacher of the same race and same gender. The idea here is to start a mentoring program. They believe that if kids see someone that is successful just like them this could help them in their academic scores. Some say this is just going backwards. What do the students think?


DOMINIQUE MILLER, MCCASKEY EAST: Well, at first, I was against it 100 percent. You know I was against it.

MILLER: Because I kind of agree with other people, they thought it was going segregate the school. That's how I felt too. But, now, actually, the home rooms are collided, the (INAUDIBLE) rooms, and you hear them speak and hear what they're talking about and it's not just six minutes every day, it's kind of like you realize what this is really about.


HOLMES: So, you hear it. Again, it's six minutes every day. They also do 20-minute sessions a couple times a month. It just started at the end the year. So, it's brand new.

The principal is still defending this program, saying they're trying to build these strong bonds. And they can see them developing between the kids and their teacher role models.

BOLDUAN: An ex-reporter will meet the press. Jay Carney is replacing Robert Gibbs as White House press secretary, figuring (ph) all this out. You see him right there on the right of your screen. He's Vice President Joe Biden's communications director and a former "TIME" magazine reporter.

I had a pleasure of working with him in the past. I look forward to working with him in the future.

HOLMES: Not the story you tell me yesterday.

Well, also, they are trying to ease the gridlock in the Senate and they are doing this by proposing some new rules. The Senate has voted 92-4 to end what's called a "secret hold." This was where essentially one person anonymously could hold up legislation. They are doing away with that.

Also, they have banned amendments from being read aloud if they've already been publicly available for 72 hours. This is a very popular tool up there, these huge amendments you can waste the whole time if you just made somebody read the whole thing. But the key is that there's no change to the filibuster. That is the one that is always used and always used as a threat, probably the most powerful tool to stop legislation. That was not changed.

BOLDUAN: Not changed.

But new this morning, the rollercoaster for Rahm Emanuel continues. He's officially back on the ballot. The Illinois Supreme Court ruled the former White House chief of staff can run for what he's called his dream job, mayor of Chicago. It rejected -- the court rejected a lower court's ruling that he didn't meet the residency requirement to run for mayor because he was, of course, living in Washington for the past couple of years.


RAHM EMANUEL, CHICAGO MAYORAL CANDIDATE: I think that the voters deserve the right to make the choice of who should be mayor and I think what the Supreme Court said was in short -- basically in short, that the voters will make the decision who should be mayor.


BOLDUAN: Voters will decide and early voting in the race starts Monday.

So, this is a good one. They were one of the most iconic couples in pop culture. That is, of course, until their break up in 2004, T.J. That's not our relationship we're talking about.

HOLMES: I didn't realize they broke up.

BOLDUAN: Well, they did. And this morning, Ken is pulling out all of the stops to try to win Barbie's heart back once again.

HOLMES: Please stop.

BOLDUAN: I only speak the truth. The toy maker is putting up billboards in New York and Los Angeles with Ken professing his Barbie love.

HOLMES: Oh, stop it.

BOLDUAN: The same as exes (ph) -- who met 50 years ago. They looked good, have also been flirting on Facebook.

HOLMES: Did she go to another man? Was there another guy?

BOLDUAN: She's very private. I don't know the ins and outs of hers.

HOLMES: Well, she's Barbie. You can't live a private life.

BOLDUAN: She is quite a celebrity.

HOLMES: OK. Also, this is something that concerned you and a lot of people are concerned about this this morning.


HOLMES: Girl Scouts, the cookies they are doing away with some of them.

BOLDUAN: Which ones?

HOLMES: OK. Ones you never heard of. OK, there's a You Berry Munch. Are you familiar with that one?


HOLMES: OK. Also, there are some sugar free chocolate chip cookies that are going to be done away with.

BOLDUAN: That defies logic.

HOLMES: Yes. Probably good idea. But the one us love are going to stick around. We're talking about the iconic one, the Thin Mints, the Samoas, we all love the Samoas. The Caramel Delites, the Tagalongs, the Do-Si-Dos, I didn't know about that name, the shortbread and the Lemon Cremes those are going to stick around.

But they are doing this because year after year, they have seen decline in their profits. They make $700 million in these cookie sales. That's a big deal. But it has been going down. Some of those other cookies that you and I don't eat, the names we didn't know of, do away with those and concentrate on the ones everybody loves.

BOLDUAN: To you.

HOLMES: To you.

BOLDUAN: It's all that matters to you.

HOLMES: All right.

BOLDUAN: Shortbread still there for me.

HOLMES: Stephanie Elam joining us here now.

Good morning to you.


STEPHANIE ELAM, CNN BUSINESS CORRESPONDENT: I'm just talking about the cookies because they apparently have different names on the East Coast and the West Coast, it's all like Do-Si-Dos and some of those have different names, which I didn't know until my producer, (INAUDIBLE), showed me her little form for her niece. They have different names.

HOLMES: It's regional.

ELAM: It's regional. That's why some people call them by some things, but it seems like --

BOLDUAN: Soda and pop.

ELAM: Sort of just like that except for whoever says pop.


ELAM: OK, sorry.

Anyway, moving on. Let's talk about reading fundamental. And apparently, that's what a lot of people are doing electronically over at Amazon because they're saying that this is the first time that they've actually seen the electronic books, the ebooks outselling paperback sales on

We're talking about in the U.S. here specifically. These Amazon Kindle or I should say, these ebooks, you can read them on their Kindle and you can also read on your iPhone or iPad.

They're not just for that one mode there. But they're saying, if you take a look at this, for every 100 paperback books, 115 ebooks are being sold, and that is just since the beginning the year. Also, take a look at this. They're saying for every three Kindle ebooks that then you will find Amazon sells just one hardcover book.

Now, of course, that's for this year as well. I'm sure for a lot of people out there who like the hardcover books, they want to get it as soon as it comes out, that's different. They want to read it. And then you got the whole people who like the feeling of a book and you have these people who like --

BOLDUAN: That's the one thing I heard. While it's very helpful, I like to see how much further I have to go.



ELAM: Yes. I also have this whole thing where I read the very last sentence of every book right before I start it.

BOLDUAN: You're one of those people.

ELAM: Just one last sentence, the very last sentence. It's a little trick.

HOLMES: I didn't know that about you.


ELAM: But I don't read books any more since because I have a child.


HOLMES: Stephanie, thank you. We'll see you again here shortly.

BOLDUAN: Up next on AMERICAN MORNING: salty snacks. You know they're not good for you, although they're delicious. But a new study shows just how much damage they can do. I'm sorry.

HOLMES: And I want everyone to answer this question before we come back from commercial break. Your boss walks in and says, "Well, how would you like $12 million?" Do you think your response would be, "Sorry, boss, I don't deserve it"? Well, someone just did that.

It's 21 minutes past the hour.


HOLMES: Well, at 24 minutes past the hour now.

Actor Charlie Sheen has been hospitalized. He was rushed to the hospital the other night. Now, reportedly, this was after a 36- hour bender. His publicist saying that he actually has a hernia. But, TMZ, of course, this the celebrity news Web site, saying that this had to do with a suitcase full of cocaine that was a part of this bender. Also, there were porn stars at this party at his house.

We'll have much more on his condition, but just one more in a long line of disturbing incidents would say for this actor.

BOLDUAN: We're getting an update the next hour on that one.

But, also, a 13-year-old girl wakes up from a coma to a jaywalking ticket. Takara Davis was walking home from school in Las Vegas when she crossed the street and was hit by a car. KVVU in Las Vegas says she was rushed to the hospital and placed in a medically induced coma and as she was going into emergency surgery, the cops issued her mother the citation.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I just swallowed that big lump and rode it through.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I was in the hospital and I didn't know what happened.


BOLDUAN: A judge dismissed the ticket because the car was actually in a legal crosswalk.

HOLMES: A jay walking. Sometimes common sense just flies out the window. I'm glad they did the right thing and dropped it.

One more in terms of common sense here. Did you know salty foods and snacks are actually bad for you?




HOLMES: Go ahead guys, put the breaking news banner on the bottom of the screen there.

Yes. It's bad for you, bad for your heart. But maybe what we didn't know is that the damage starts right away. This study we have now says that 30 minutes after you scarf down salty potato chips, maybe French fries, there is a clear scene, you can see it clearly that there's a change in your arteries and impairs the ability of blood vessels to widen.

So, you may think you're doing damage down the road -- you're doing damage right there.

BOLDUAN: I don't think that's going to stop me, though.

HOLMES: I doubt it as well.

Well, coming up, a story we were telling you about yesterday about a Utah Army base that to be on lockdown. We now know why. Would you believe a quarter teaspoon of a chemical was the cause for this? We'll explain.

BOLDUAN: It's pretty amazing stuff.

Also, in Egypt, following the story as it's unfolding again today on brink of revolution, a huge protest is expected today. And social media is playing a critical role right now. Mohammad Jamjoom is monitoring that for us from the CNN international desk. We'll have more, coming up.


BOLDUAN: Welcome back to AMERICAN MORNING. We're crossing the half hour right now and our top story this morning again: Egypt continues to erupt.

HOLMES: Yes, we are starting to see a fresh wave of mass protests. They are getting underway already today. But much more expected throughout the day, could leave the country, some are saying, on the brink of revolution. Police have already warned President Hosni Mubarak, they could lose control of demonstrators who are demanding that he step down after some 30 years of being in control of that country.

We know at least six people have been killed in clashes with police there over the past three days.

Our Nic Robertson is in Alexandria for us this morning. Thousands of people are protesting in the streets there; reports of police firing tear gas. Nic is on the line with us now.

Nic, good morning to you. What are you seeing in Alexandria where you are?

NIC ROBERTSON, CNN SR. INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (via telephone): Well, everything happened essentially half an hour ago when the (INAUDIBLE) mosque within seconds of the last words being spoken violence erupted between 500 to 1,000 people gathered in the street, outside for the parade and several hundred or so police were armed with tear gas guns. It originally erupted right there at that moment and it's now running battle through the streets of Alexandria, between police who were firing tear gas in the air, stinging to the eyes. It gets in your nose and it gets in your throat.

People have been climbing lamp posts, tearing down pictures of Hosni Mubarak. (INAUDIBLE). You know, it's a very, very tense standoff with several thousands of protesters. More people are coming in all the time. Essentially, in the city, we're seeing columns of black smoke rising from some buildings (INAUDIBLE).

BOLDUAN: Nic, it's Kate Bolduan here. One thing that we've been hearing in the past few days, it seems that the protesters far outnumbered the police presence and they almost surprised the police in how many -- how big the crowds were. Is that what you're seeing in Alexandria as well?

ROBINSON: Certainly at the very beginning, before the parades, there were several hundred. I counted about 200, 250 maximum police and four times that in people attending prayers and more people coming in.

So, the police do seem outnumbered, actually in riots in many parts of the world. And what make these riot police different to me is they are young. They are not, you know, 6'6" strong -- heavy, strong police that you see in some countries. These are men who are perhaps, 5'6", 5'8". They have some protective clothing but not a lot. They are armed with bamboo canes.

And really aside from this tear gas and the weapons they have, the crowds, they are not a match for this crowd. So, it does at the moment, the crowds are able to move in the city where they want to.

BOLDUAN: Nic Robertson following the ongoing protests in Alexandria for us -- Nic, thanks so much. Stay safe.

HOLMES: And we have been hearing so much about how social media is playing a role in organizing many of these protests happening there.

Our Mohammed Jamjoom is live for us at the CNN international desk.

Mohammed, good morning to you. You were tasked this morning with keeping an eye on the updates from social media, on Twitter, on Facebook coming out of Egypt. But it was striking to talk to you this morning. There's not a whole lot you can report and there's a reason for that.

MOHAMMED JAMJOOM, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, that's right, T.J. I mean, social media has played such an integral role in getting protesters out into the street and demonstrating in Egypt in the last several days. But as of the last several hours, the Internet has essentially been shut down in Egypt.

People have not been able to tweet. They have not been able to go on Facebook. It's quieted down.

But I do want to show you some of the things that have been going on in the last couple of days. Let me show you this Facebook page. This is a group, one of the main groups that's been involved in organizing protests for today.

Now, as of yesterday, by the hour, thousands of people were agreeing to attend the protests today that were happening. As of last night, 85,430 said they would attend. We don't know if all of these people are inside Egypt. But nonetheless, they were accepting this invitation to attend the protest. But the last post on this Web site was Wednesday.

Now, let me take to you a Twitter page for a user in Cairo, this is from (INAUDIBLE) from last night, 14 hours ago, "All Internet is being cut in here. This may be a last tweet." And we're seeing tweets like this really being echoed around Twitter. We're seeing a lot of people that were very active in the last few days. They quieted down since last night.

And let me take to you Twitter trends. These are Twitter trends out of Cairo, Egypt. Let me show you for the last several hours. Words like dictator, land lines, blackout, Mubarak.

Also, one of the most searched terms, @BenCNN, our senior international correspondent, Ben Wedeman. Now, Ben Wedeman has been very active in the last few days in tweeting. About an hour ago, he tweeted, "Will be extremely difficult to relay news from the field. No freedom of press to cover. No freedom of expression and assembly."

But an hour before that, he tweeted, "Alert, cell phone, BlackBerrys down, plus Internet. This message is relayed by land line thru CNNHQ."

Now, what Ben did, used a very none traditional means to get this out on Twitter. He called the international desk right behind me. He spoke to Talia (ph), the editor who was minding him and got his message out on social media that way. And we're seeing others in Egypt and throughout the Middle East that are trying relay their messages in these nontraditional means through social media -- T.J.

HOLMES: And, Mohammed, people will remember what we saw in Iran a couple of summers ago, where people organized, and Iran shut down essentially the press there. And we couldn't get information out to the rest of the world. What they are also trying to do in Egypt right now is not to allow people to get their message around within the country.

JAMJOOM: Absolutely right. What's different about Egypt is, these pictures, these videos are getting out. The authorities there know that. There is media that is in Egypt. So, that message is being relayed through the networks, through CNN and other networks.

What the Egyptian authorities want to happen is for these messages to get out within Egypt so that people can find a way to gather and to protest, because social media over there and the Internet has played such a key role in getting people out on the streets, they are concerned about that. That's one of the reasons this is trying to be blocked right now -- T.J.

HOLMES: All right. Mohammed Jamjoom at the international desk for us at the our world headquarters in Atlanta, we appreciate you. Great respect for people to understand what is exactly is happening. We'll continue to check in with you throughout the morning. Thanks so much.

JAMJOOM: Thank you.

BOLDUAN: And up next on AMERICAN MORNING: former South African President Nelson Mandela is going home from the hospital after a bit of a health care. We'll tell you what his doctors are saying this morning. And Zain Verjee will be live with us from London.

HOLMES: Also, take a look. There has been a lot of snow falling in a lot of places. And it got so heavy on the roof of a school that it caused the roof to collapse. We will show you these scary pictures ahead.

It's 36 minutes after the hour.


BOLDUAN: Going home this morning. Former South African President Nelson Mandela is being discharged from a Johannesburg hospital after quite a little health scare.

HOLMES: Yes, he's the 92 years old. He looks great. He's looked great all his life really. But there he is. And any time he has a health issue of any kind, people get concerned.

Our Zain Verjee live for us in London.

Zain, good morning. Such a beloved figure. And at his age, I mean, he could sneeze and people get concerned about his health.

ZAIN VERJEE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes. You know, and people here in our newsroom and around the world and particularly, in South Africa, were just holding their breath to see what they would say at this press conference because there was kind of a news and information blackout. So, there was so much speculation.

So, a huge sigh of relief. Nelson Mandela is OK. He is going to be discharged from the hospital that he's been treated at in Johannesburg. He's going to go home and have home care there.

They said at a press conference that we were covering here that he's doing very well. Don't panic.

The doctor came out and said specifically, he was suffering from acute respiratory infection. And he was treated and he responded really well to it. He's also suffered in the past from tuberculosis.

So, you're looking at pictures there the last time he made a public appearance. This is at the closing ceremony of the World Cup football/soccer in South Africa.

So, good for Nelson Mandela. He's going to be OK for now.

HOLMES: He's going to be OK. When are we going to hear from him?

VERJEE: Well, you know, the deputy vice president was asked that, what were his words, what did he say? And he kind of gave us a flavor of the mood, really in the room and he said that Nelson Mandela was in good spirits. He was talking to people and he was actually teasing the deputy vice president. He was teasing his wife, Graca Michel, his ex-wife who was there too, Winnie Mandela, as well as a sister in the hospital.

But, you know, he is 92. He is frail. And one of the things we were saying today were helicopters, there were five of them or so, just around, as well as police and security and presidential escorts the road to his home has been closed off. So, they are going to move him carefully because he's so frail but they are taking security precautions, too.

BOLDUAN: And, Zain, let's talk about Japan. There's quite a big volcano erupting there, yes?

VERJEE: Yes, Kate. Just take a look at these dramatic pictures. If you were going to southwest Japan any time soon, you may have to forget it for a while because look at this video. These are pictures of Mt. Shinmoe and you can see the ash and the smoke just being belched up.

Guys, this is something like 10,000 feet or so high in the sky. So, a lot of flights have been disrupted in this area. So, this was the most interesting thing that I learned when I was looking at Mt. Shinmoe.

It looked familiar and T.J., Kate, it is because it was actually used as a location in one of the Bond movies, "You Only Live Twice." So, I don't know if you're a Bond girl there, Kate, or if you know what a Bond movie is, right?

BOLDUAN: I have many. I actually love the old Bond movies. I've -- lots to love them.

VERJEE: Who's your favorite Bond?

BOLDUAN: I would say Roger Moore.


HOLMES: Sean Connery.

VERJEE: Sean Connery for me.


BOLDUAN: No, I'm assuming the name of this volcano is not like 17 letters long like the last major volcano?

VERJEE: No, no, no. This one is easy. It's Shinmoe, Mt. Shinmoe. Easy.

HOLMES: No problem. Zain --

BOLDUAN: Zain Verjee, thanks so much.

And you can watch Zain every morning at 5:00 on "WORLD ONE," right here on CNN.

VERJEE: Thanks, guys.

HOLMES: All right. And I was asking this question of many of you out there. Your boss comes to you and wants to give you a huge raise, whatever that amount may be. And you say, you know what? I don't deserve it.

That is what this fellow is doing. This is Kansas City Royal pitcher Gil Meche. He is 32 years old. He has a guaranteed contract that would pay him $12 million next year. And he says he does not deserve it, says he didn't earn it.

What has happened is that he signed a five year $55 million deal back in 2007, a guaranteed contract here. But he has been hampered by a lot of injuries, hasn't been able to help the team the way he wanted to. So, he stepped up and said, I made plenty of money in my career. I don't deserve that because I'm not getting the job done.

BOLDUAN: That kind of honesty is very rare.

HOLMES: Rare. Oh, I thought maddening would be a better way to say it.

BOLDUAN: Since --

HOLMES: You know I'm upset.

BOLDUAN: Yes, I can see it.

HOLMES: But he wants to spend time with his family as well. He has young kids. He has other reason there. But, yes, you don't see that a lot.

BOLDUAN: Not a lot.

But still to come this morning, just what we need, a little more snow. Rob will have this morning's travel forecast. I shouldn't be laughing right after the break.

HOLMES: Also, of course, we have been talking about the big story, major developments happening in Egypt right now. This is a live picture -- you're seeing police forces starting to gather in a lot of place, several different cities around Egypt, expecting this to be a big day of protest as many are calling for President Hosni Mubarak to step down.

But we are starting to see this. This is a live picture we are able to bring to you. This is our camera from Alexandria, if I'm not mistaken. This is in Cairo actually. But we're getting live pictures out other. We will have the very latest from there and around Egypt on this AMERICAN MORNING.

It is 44 minutes past the hour.


BOLDUAN: Welcome back, everybody. Forty-six minutes after the hour, and we now know why the Dugway Proving Ground army base in Utah was shut down for 12 hours Wednesday night. It was kind of a big question. No one really understood why. A vile of deadly nerve agent, a deadly nerve agent disappeared about a quarter of a tea spoon. Not very much.

But the problem turned up during a routine inventory check prompting the commander of the base to immediately shut it down because it could have been catastrophic. That forced hundreds of people who work and live there to spend the night in their offices and theirs cars until the nerve agent eventually turned up.


COL. WILLIAM EMMETT KING IV, DUGWAY COMMANDER: Early this morning, we determined that, in fact, we had not lost accountability of the agent. It was just misplaced into a different container that was improperly marked. And so, I've gone through the notification procedures through the Department of Army, Department of Defense to let them know that we re-established accountability.


BOLDUAN: The base commander says even though the nerve agent was never actually lost, he considers the incident a serious breach and has launched an investigation. HOLMES: All right. We're going to turn to our Rob Marciano who is standing by for us in the Extreme Weather Center. Rob, good morning. What's our next problem area?

MARCIANO: More snow in the same areas that got the big snow. So, that's what we're concerned about T.J. and Kate. Temperatures right now, the other thing is sub freezing. And temps got above freezing yesterday, especially, on some of the roadways. You saw some melting. And nobody doubt this morning on the way out the door, there's going to be some slick spots. So, be aware of that black ice. Definitively, a likelihood around the metro and New York area down to Philly up through Boston as temperatures are well below freezing.

And yes, we do have just a little bit more snow that is heading in this area. And with that, we're going to see, you know, potentially, some more accumulations. Jet, if you can drive (ph) me in play, that'd be sweet. I want to show what's going on just a little bit further to the west past the Appalachians. Pretty weak system that's developing there. Alberta Clipper doesn't have a whole lot of moisture with it. And these things move fairly quickly. So, will we get an additional inch of snow over the next couple of days?

If we do it before Tuesday in New York City, that will set the record for the all time snowiest month since we've been keeping records, which, by the way, was set last February. So, it's not like we've had two years in a row where it's been unbelievable as far as the snow goes. So, here it is. A lot of the moisture is actually heading down towards Snowshoe, West Virginia, probably seeing some fresh cow (ph) again today and a little bit of lake enhanced snow rolling across parts of the Western Great Lakes.

Thirty to 60-minute delays today in Philadelphia, D.C., Pittsburgh and Cleveland. Minneapolis is seeing similar numbers. And you go west towards California, not too shabby, some rain heading into the Pacific Northwest and warming up finally across parts of the south. We got some issues yesterday from Maryland up through Boston and including Rhode Island. This snow is very heavy.

And even though it was just a foot, I mean, I say that because, you know, relative to what we've had this winter, just one foot of snow collapsed this school house roof in Foster, Rhode Island. No word of injuries. I believe, schools were probably cancelled before this happened, but nonetheless, kids won't be going back to that school for some time. Also had some roof collapse in parts of, I think, I-6 (ph) Massachusetts. So, this storm system did more than just make it look pretty and give you a pain in the back to do some shoveling and did some damage.

And travel was definitely treacherous especially across Delaware and Maryland. The highest populated area corridor of the United States getting hammered again with the major snowstorm. What's coming down the pike now, though, is not major. A dusting to an inch or two as all we'll think over the next couple of days. T.J. and Kate, back to you.

BOLDUAN: All right. A dusting would be good because that snow was very heavy. We lost power at my house. I hope we have it back on now. We'll find out. Thanks, Rob.

MARCIANO: All right, guys.

HOLMES: Coming up, we're going to have your top stories.

Also, we'll be telling you about the latest incident with Charlie Sheen. He had to be rushed to the hospital. We'll tell you what he was reportedly doing.

BOLDUAN: Yes. Reportedly. Very interesting. Virgos are critical, meticulous, and reserved but don't get in the car with them, apparently. What your zodiac sign may say about your driving?

HOLMES: Also, we are working to confirm if this halftime show went according to plan.


BOLDUAN: Good news for all you Culture Club fans. You know, there are so many of you out there. T.J., included. Boy George announcing he and the band will reunite to celebrate their 30th anniversary in an interview with the BBC. He says the band is working on a tour and a new album.

HOLMES: Cannot wait to that. We'll get that (ph), too.

Another story to tell you about. This week, this mystery, this Biscayne Bay piano bar, if you will, the mystery has been solved, we do believe. You remember this, Biscayne Bay, how did this grand piano just end up there? It was put there. A guy put it there, thought it would be funny, part of the Corbin Art Project. Now, someone else has taken it away.

A musician -- you're seeing it here now. They are doing the right thing by the piano. They decided to go out a day on the sun and rescue it, essentially, is what they're saying. Dad said he had to finally give in to his sons saying, hey, this is the right thing to do.


CARL BENTULAN, RESCUED BABY GRAND PIANO FROM SANDBAR: nobody loves it. It was homeless. It was abandoned. He looked at me. You think somebody will rescue it. I said I don't know. He started getting up early before he had to get up. It's in the paper again this morning. Will you get it? you know, after that, I'm looking at him. Yeas, I'll get it.

LIAM BENTULAN, CARL'S SON: I think he's just one of a kind guy and when he told me, I thought I was like I thought he was kidding, but when I actually saw it, I'm like, you know, I was like oh, my God he actually got it. I am just shocked because I can't believe he actually did that for me. I'm just proud of him for doing this.


HOLMES: The kid had the right intentions but mystery solved. Piano rescued.

BOLDUAN: Mystery solved. We can all put to it bed now.

Let's show you some live pictures, actually, from Cairo where protests are under way again today. People are on the ground, and we'll have the latest coming your way right after the break.



HOLMES (voice-over): Good morning. We've got breaking news. Clashes and chaos in Cairo. The internet, shut down. Communications, disrupted. Egypt is going dark for people hoping for a brighter future on this AMERICAN MORNING.