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CNN Saturday Morning News

More Severe Weather; Al Qaeda Training Video; Iran and the UN

Aired February 24, 2007 - 09:00   ET


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Crude and chilling. You're looking at what is purportedly videotape of al Qaeda fighters building a bomb.
T.J. HOLMES, CNN ANCHOR, CNN SATURDAY MORNING: Al Qaeda at work. Is the terrorist group gaining strength in Afghanistan? CNN's Anderson Cooper investigates.

From the CNN Center in Atlanta, hello to you all I'm T.J. Holmes, and this is CNN SATURDAY MORNING.

BETTY NGUYEN, CNN CO-ANCHOR, CNN SATURDAY MORNING: Good morning, T.J., and good morning everybody, I'm Betty Nguyen. That story straight ahead. But first, a check of the morning's top stories.

HOLMES: Now in the news, severe weather and the possible touchdown in Texas. No, we're not talking football here. These are pictures of a funnel cloud near McLean, Texas. There have been reports of two tornadoes in north Texas. A high wind advisory is in effect there.

Also, a man hunt for an alleged kidnapper happening in Florida. This is a 13-year-old Parrish, Florida, who was abducted from a bus stop and tied to a tree in a remote area. The boy freed himself several hours later.

NGUYEN: Well, nothing like a good old implosion to start your day off. This one just over an hour ago in Charlotte, North Carolina. Took just 16 seconds and about 400 pounds of dynamite to take down the city's old Duke Energy building.

In other news, investigators are combing through the wreckage of a high-speed passenger train that derailed in northwest England. One person died in that accident, more than 20 others were injured, several critically. They're still trying to determine what caused several of the cars to jump the tracks sending them down a steep embankment.

There's some tough talk about Iran's nuclear program. Vice President Dick Cheney warned all options are on the table if Iran continues enriching uranium. His comments came today during a news conference with Australian Prime Minister John Howard in Sydney.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The touchdown, folks. I think we've got it.

(END VIDEO CLIP) NGUYEN: It was a scary moment for many in McLean, Texas, and you can see why. Look at the middle of your screen there. That's a funnel cloud coming through town on the front edge of a severe weather system that is. The National Weather Service received reports of five tornadoes in Texas and Kansas.

Lets take you to Nebraska now a short break in the ice and snow in favor of heavy rains. You can see the ice from the frozen river breaking up and being swept downstream by floodwaters. Evacuations could be ordered near Omaha today.

Check these out; these are live pictures from St. Louis, affiliate KSDK. They're preparing for heavy rain today and severe thunderstorms are in the forecast. We'll keep a watch of all of that.

HOLMES: And all over that forecast for us and keeping an eye that our Reynolds Wolf, who's got a lot of things going on the map this morning. Good morning to you sir.

REYNOLDS WOLF, CNN METEOROLOGIST: Good morning. You know it really is like a giant blender, a giant weather blender. On one side, you've got a lot of snow and on the other side we are talking about the heavy rain, the potential of tornadoes, strong winds, large hail, it's going to be a big mess.

Let's start off with the icy stuff first. We're talking about snowfall stretching from International Falls southward to St. Cloud, Minneapolis could see up to a foot of snowfall as we make our way overnight into Sunday and early Monday morning.

Out to Denver, Denver is going to miss out on the heaviest snowfall. Much of it moving to the east across the Great Plains as we head back towards the parts of the Midwest. Take you to Omaha, Nebraska, southward to Kansas City. We've had stronger storms pop up there. What's interesting about St. Louis is they're right near the freezing point, right above that say in Alton, you're going to be dealing with a little mix of freezing rain as well as some ice and snowfall, but farther to the south it's going to be scattered showers and storms.

This is the culprit. This is the big thing that's making all of this happen. This area of low pressure, the powerful low pulling in a lot of cold air from the north. That moist air coming in from the Gulf of Mexico. All going to pile together especially in parts of the Midwest and southeastern U.S.

By the way, if you happen to have, say, a digital camera. You snapped a few pictures of some interesting weather phenomena. Dark clouds, maybe hail or snow you want to share, load them into your computer and simply go to and send a quick ireport and it will give you all the instructions to share the pictures not only with us but with millions of others.

All right. Back to you.

NGUYEN: Always look forward to those ireports. Thank you, Reynolds.

WOLF: Absolutely.

HOLMES: All right. We now want to turn to the war on terror and al Qaeda posting a new tape on the Website. On it, al Qaeda fighters are allegedly taking part in a training exercise, making bombs and executing attacks. CNN's Anderson Cooper reports.


ANDERSON COOPER CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice over): Crude and chilling. You're looking at what is purportedly videotape of al Qaeda fighters building a bomb. The nails are put into the IED to create maximum destruction. According to Intel Center, our terrorism- monitoring group, this terror tape was made by al Qaeda in Pakistan along the Afghanistan border in early 2006. U.S. intelligence officials say al Qaeda's influence in the area is increasing, and they're teaching their deadly bomb building and suicide bombing techniques to the Taliban.

The flash point for both groups is an area known as Waziristan, a province in Pakistan. It's a haven for al Qaeda and the Taliban, a base, U.S. military officials say, to conduct cross-border raids into Afghanistan. Pakistan says it's an ally in the war on terror, but recently signed a peace deal in Waziristan with pro Taliban militants. This after dozens of Pakistani soldiers and tribal elders were killed in this area.

On the tape we see what are purportedly members of al Qaeda openly conducting training exercises in Pakistan, guns are fired, and rocket-propelled grenades are launched. Then at night they leave their position for what Intel Center says is an attack on a Pakistani military outpost. First we hear the pops of gunfire, they're followed by explosions, then the apparent aftermath. We see what appear to be the bodies of Pakistani soldiers as al Qaeda fighters take weapons and ammunition. The tape ends with al Qaeda setting fire to the outpost. The flames and the bodies a bloody testament to al Qaeda's growing strength.

Anderson Cooper, CNN.


NGUYEN: Violence in Iraq is a daily reality, especially the infamous IED, or improvised explosive device. But imagine those same bombs going off in a city right here. The White House is imaging it today with a national security drill. It is just a drill. CNN White House correspondent Elaine Quijano joins us live as people are getting prepared for this. Good morning, Elaine.

ELAINE QUIJANO, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Good morning to you, Betty. That is right, behind closed doors this morning, members of the president's homeland security team are meeting to discuss how they would respond if the United States were to be attacked by terrorists using IEDs or improvised explosive devices. The White House is strongly emphasizing that this is a fictional scenario only and not based on any kind of threats to the U.S.

The government calls it a tabletop exercise, and it's being led by the president's homeland security adviser Fran Townsend. Also taking part, officials from a number of agencies, including the FBI, the Justice Department, and the Pentagon. This is the fourth time in a little over a year that the White House has conducted drills like this. Other exercises have focused on the pandemic flu, on a smallpox outbreak, and on a hurricane. We don't expect any pictures, Betty, or even a readout of what is taking place right now. It's going to be lasting a few hours. And President Bush himself is not taking part. The bottom line with all of this, though, is that the White House does not want to panic people, but they want to ensure, of course, that government officials are ready just in case.


NGUYEN: It's just a drill but an important one at that. Elaine Quijano, thank you.

HOLMES: In Iraq, the U.S. military says troops conducted three raids targeting members of al Qaeda in Iraq. Dozens of suspected terrorists were arrested. During a raid in Mosul, U.S. forces say they confiscated a large amount of Syrian and Egyptian currency, fake passports, and I.D. cards were taken there. There were also raids west of Fallujah and north of Baghdad's al Mira neighborhood. Among those arrested, the alleged leader of a car bomb cell.

NGUYEN: Meanwhile, Senate Democrats are taking a new approach to limit the U.S. military role in Iraq, and this comes after Republicans were successful at blocking debate on President Bush's plan to increase troop levels. CNN's John Roberts reports.


JOHN ROBERTS, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice over): It's an audacious move, a measure to repeal and replace the 2002 authorization for war in Iraq. The original premise now null and void, claims co-author, Senator Joe Biden.

SEN. JOE BIDEN, (D) PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: The original mission, weapons of mass destruction, Saddam Hussein, compliance with the U.N. Resolutions, all been met. No weapons, Saddam's gone, there is compliance.

ROBERTS: So it's time to change the mission, says Biden. His proposal would limit the U.S. role to counter terrorism and training Iraqi forces and remove all combat forces not necessary for that task by March of 2008. Battling the insurgency and sectarian violence would become an Iraqi responsibility. The proposal roughly follows the recommendations of the Iraq study group and carefully stays away from the politically poisonous issue of dialing back the war by cutting off funding for the troops. But even some fierce critics of the war feel it's far too early, that the troop increase should at least be given a chance.

MICHAEL O'HANLON, BROOKINGS INSTITUTION: It seems to me the logical thing is to wait four to six months and use that four to six months to evaluate the surge and then to develop some Plan B proposals.

ROBERTS: The measure also sets a firm timetable for withdrawal, which some military analysts believe would only validate the insurgent and terrorist strategy.

BRIG. GEN. DAVID GRANGE: To attack the length of a campaign because we're not good at long-term commitments and attack morale using the media as a tool, and they're very savvy at it.

ROBERTS: Unlike the very recent non-binding resolutions on the troop build-up, Biden's measure has teeth. He also admits it has no hope of attracting the 60 votes needed to pass. So why try to rein in President Bush with resolutions intended to fail?

BIDEN: To try to put pressure on him to stop, this is a process. We've got to keep coming forward. Whether or not we can pass it, it is a rational, logical next step.

ROBERTS: It also puts Democrats' names on a list of votes that they can take out on the campaign trail in 2008 and try to change the war knowing that they'll never succeed, also means Democrats can't get blamed for anything that goes wrong.

John Roberts, CNN, Washington.


NGUYEN: John Roberts will have much more on the situation in Iraq a little bit later today on "This Week at War" at 7:00 Eastern only on CNN.

HOLMES: Coming up, we'll tell you about a call that could save a life.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We've used it for all kinds of things from missing people to water and sewer issues in the county, power outages, et cetera.

HOLMES: Instead of you calling 911, 911 calls you. But not everyone thinks is a great idea.

NGUYEN: Also, whatever happened to good customer service? Well, stick around because coming up at the bottom of the hour, Gerri Willis tells us how to complain competently.

Plus this --

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: No penalty is too soft, is too tough a penalty on something like this.

HOLMES: We're going to tell you about two students and a confiscated ipod and how that leads to a teacher being in the hospital. CNN SATURDAY MORNING continues. Stick around we are going to be right back. (COMMERCIAL BREAK)

HOLMES: Checking some stories across America now, students in a bit of trouble, maybe a lot of trouble. A teacher who took an ipod from a student in class winds up in the hospital. Officials say the teacher was confronted by the student in the hallway of this Philadelphia high school. A second student came in, and the teacher fell, breaking two bones in his neck. And now the students face assault charges.

NGUYEN: Well, students on video without their knowledge. A Portland, Oregon police officer made his own crude version of the popular "Girls Gone Wild" videos starring a bunch of unsuspecting high school girls. It apparently happened while he was assigned to watch over the school. That officer resigned when the tape first surfaced, but now he could have his police certificate yanked.

HOLMES: And a New Hampshire couple has put a video on Youtube in the hopes of saving the woman's life. Lee Buckley has leukemia and needs a bone marrow transplant. She and her husband Andrew are asking people to join the National Bone Marrow Registry and Lee says it as an opportunity to also help others.

NGUYEN: Whether it is a tornado or another crises, your phone is often your lifeline, and you know how to dial 911 in case of emergency. That is the drill. But in a growing number of places, the reverse is also true. If there's an emergency, someone will dial you. CNN's Gary Nurenberg explains.


GARY NURENBERG, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice over): When 7-year-old Colin Christopherson got lost in the woods in Olins, Maryland on a freezing night earlier this month.

SHERIFF MIKE EVANS, CALVERT COUNTY, MARYLAND: We realized we were going to need help.

NURENBERG: So Calvert County Sheriff Mike Evans asked for it by using an automated calling system to phone about thousands of Colin's neighbors with a recorded plea.

KATRINA TEDFORD, NEIGHBOR: After that, my husband got dressed up, took a flashlight, and went over to meet where they were meeting to go out in the woods and look for the little boy.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I got a spotlight, and I got my 16-year-old boy Colby, and we started walking through the woods.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: A couple of hundred people came out in this community to volunteer to search.

NURENBERG: Baldwin County, Alabama, used a similar system to warn residents with targeted calls during hurricane Katrina in 2005.

KEVIN MCCARTHY, REVERSE 911: They would start with the lowest lying areas that would flood and work their way inland so that people could actually get access to the roads and get out of the area.

NURENBERG: Some areas use sirens to warn of tornadoes, accidents at nuclear plants, or rising water. Lady Lake, Florida, did not have a mass calling system in place when a deadly tornado touched down earlier this month.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The storms arrived in the dead of night; around 3:00 a.m. most of the people around here were asleep.

NURENBERG: McCarthy says his reverse 911 system can solve problems like that.

MCCARTHY: You can reach out to those people in the area that's affected, and either seek their help or make sure they know what they need to know.

NURENBERG: Proponents of the systems also see uses in the event of a terrorist attack, calling the thousands of workers in these office buildings only blocks from the White House, for example, to say it's time to evacuate.

EVANS: We've used it for all kind of things from missing people to water and sewer issues in the county, power outages, et cetera.

LILLIE CONEY, ELECTRONIC PRIVACY INFO. CTR: There needs to be rules and policies in place.

NURENBERG: Privacy advocates worry about all those unsolicited calls.

CONEY: It should be strictly up hand, if it's your cell phone, if it's your home phone, you should be able to say I volunteer to participate in this particular program.

NURENBERG: The system in Calvert County uses only listed numbers unless those with unlisted phones do opt in. And in Calum all those volunteers paid off. After about five hours in the freezing cold, he was found unharmed.

Gary Nurenberg, CNN, Olins, Maryland.


NGUYEN: Well, if you plan to hit the road this weekend, don't forget to work and work out.

HOLMES: Yes, our fitness guru Jerry Anderson. There he is, my goodness. Look at that shirt.

NGUYEN: It's awfully shiny.

HOLMES: They call him shiny suit man. Look at Jerry. We got four simple tips to keep in mind as you travel. But before we get to that and I know you can't wait. Gerri Willis has a preview of this morning's "Open House." GERRI WILLIS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Coming up at 9:30 a.m. Eastern, a special edition of "Open House" ripped off. You can fight for your consumer rights with banks, credit cards, contractors, and insurance companies. We're going to take you through it step by step.

And we'll show you how to keep your car mechanic honest. That's "Open House," the show that saves you money, 9:30 a.m. Eastern right here on CNN.


NGUYEN: So are you taking a trip, worried about working in a workout? Well, don't worry about it because all you need is a plan. Fitness guru Jerry Anderson has four simple ways to keep it on the go. Hey, we haven't even introduced you as of yet. Can you just wait, shiny shirt man? Just wait a second.

JERRY ANDERSON, FITNESS EXPERT: I can't tell you. It's the clothes. This is hot.

NGUYEN: You're ready to go.

ANDERSON: I'm hot.

NGUYEN: Jerry, there you are. So when people are on the road and they are carrying their shiny shirts like you are, what should they do to make sure they get that workout in?

ANDERSON: Right. The most important thing is the first thing you got to do, you got to plan ahead. The key is call the hotel. If they don't have a fitness facility, you got to find a way to work out. Most hotels have different clubs you can go to to work out free. Call the club and find out where it's at, because if you don't plan ahead, you're not going to be able to work out. That is the number one thing is plan ahead. You can go on They'll tell you all the hotels that's available for a workout, very important.

NGUYEN: That's great, Here's another thing that I do. I pack the tennis shoes; I pack the clothes thinking I'm going to do it. At some point, I got to get realistic because it doesn't always happen. So how can I make sure that I do get that workout in, be realistic about it?

ANDERSON: You're right, Betty. You got to be realistic. Because what happens is only 40 percent of people who travel work out. You have to be realistic. The bottom line is you should focus on saying, you know what, I'm going to do 50 to 75 percent of my normal workout. Don't try to do 100 percent. That will keep you on board. You want to keep your habits in place. Be realistic, stay on board, and don't try to do everything you normally do. Keep your habit in place. If you lose your habit, you're going to bring home more than your extra luggage. Your luggage will be around your waistline. That could be a major problem.

NGUYEN: That's not the kind of luggage that I want to bring home. ANDERSON: There you go.

NGUYEN: In trying to be realistic, not always do workouts have to be in the hotel gym, correct?

ANDERSON: Right, yes.

NGUYEN: When you're on vacation, you're doing a lot of exercising just getting from place to place.

ANDERSON: Right, exactly. What you can do, walk, walk, walk. Walk through the hotel, walk around the hotel, walk through the airport. Betty, some hotels will bring up a treadmill or life cycle to your room. All you got to do is, boom, and make a call. They'll bring it up, charge you a little bit extra, but for $20. It's worth the meal, if you skip one of those high fat meals that's $20, you can get the treadmill, and you got it right in there. While you're watching CNN, you can be on the treadmill. Very simple, walk, walk, walk, fat, fat, fat, off, off, off. Yes.

NGUYEN: And at some point, though, you do need to pack some resistance, correct? You need to really use those muscles.

ANDERSON: You've got to pack the resistance. The simple and easy thing to do, Betty, is grab yourself some resistance, just like this. You can do curls with resistance bands, upright rolls; you can do squats with it. You can do a lot of workouts. Pack resistance. And a lot of hotels have what they call a fit kit, where you call downstairs. Boom, they send you up a fit kit. You get bands, weights, mats, and a video. Everybody is acting like Arnold Schwarzenegger, where you can get the hotel next to you and get a full-fledged gym. Pack some resistance or get a fit kit from the health club or the hotel you're staying at. If the hotel don't have it, don't stay there. You can stay fit on a vacation, on traveling. You have to do it because your health is the most important thing to you, Betty. It's unbelievable.

NGUYEN: Apparently, there's no excuse, right?

ANDERSON: There's no excuse.

NGUYEN: It's available everywhere. If it's not, pack it with you.

ANDERSON: You have to do it. You can pack it up with the shiny shirt.

NGUYEN: Thanks for your time. We'll see you next weekend.

ANDERSON: All right.

NGUYEN: So what's your problem? We know you have a problem. Whether you have an exercise issue or nutritional nightmare, we want to hear from you. Just e-mail us Jerry will answer your questions next week at 9:00 a.m. Eastern right here on CNN. So send those in. Now up next, a consumer empowerment zone. Love this. Gerri Willis will tell you how to stop car repair scams and how to spot a lemon.

Also next hour, could this dream girl become a golden girl tomorrow night? That's Jamie Foxx. We're talking about Jennifer Hudson on the left. We'll take a closer look.

And at age 11 new images of the JFK assassination. We're going to show them to you and talk with the curator of the Sixth Floor Museum in Dallas.


HOLMES: Well, now in the news, some tense moments in northern Texas. The National Weather Service getting reports of two twisters there. Even more high wind advisories are in place. Right now also some bad weather to tell you about in Nebraska. Heavy rains are already causing some flooding near Omaha. Rivers of broken ice are flowing downstream. And on top of those flooding problems now parts of the state under a blizzard warning.

We've got a lot more top stories and what not coming to you. Now we want to check in with Reynolds Wolf for a quick check of that severe weather.