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Priest's Mission in Haiti; Nervous Europeans

Aired March 15, 2004 - 06:29   ET


CAROL COSTELLO, CNN ANCHOR: Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon says there's been no progress on the road map to peace so he will go it alone and implement his own plan to withdraw from Gaza. Sharon will outline his new initiative today. It comes on the heels of a suicide bombing that killed 10 people in Israel's port city.
Let's head live to Jerusalem now and Paul Hancocks -- hello, Paula.


Well, Ariel Sharon will be outlining the details. He's expected to give a speech in the Knesset, the Israeli parliament, in just a few hours from now. The, about 40 opposition members of Knesset actually petitioned to bring him in front of the parliament so that they could hear more about his plan and let him elaborate on his plan. They’ll be voting whether or not to approve the speech. But this won't be the ultimate vote on the disengagement plan.

Now, it still looks as though Ariel Sharon will be going to the United States at the end of this month -- maybe March the 29th is a date that's been bandied about here -- to meet George W. Bush, to talk about his disengagement plan. But he has said that if there is no progress on the road map to peace in the next few months he could well have that unilateral withdrawal of the settlement in Gaza.

Now, the peace process does look like it's on hold at the moment, after Ariel Sharon cancelled his talks with his Palestinian counterpart, Ahmed Qorei, which was supposed to be as early as Tuesday, as early as tomorrow. That was after the suicide bomb on Sunday -- a twin suicide blast which killed 10 Israelis. The two suicide bombers died also and 18 Israelis were injured.

This happened at the Israeli seaport of Ashdod, a very busy seaport, which happened at about 5:00 p.m. local time on Sunday evening.

Now, it was a significant suicide blast, because it was a very strict security zone. There would have been a strict entry, a strict perimeter zone as well, and one of the suicide bombers managed to penetrate that.

The Palestinian Authority condemned the attack after that, and said that they do need to get back to the negotiating table with the Israelis, but that doesn't look like it's going to happen anytime soon -- Carol.

COSTELLO: Paula Hancocks reporting live from Jerusalem this morning. Many thanks.

Washington doesn't like it, but former Haitian President Jean- Bertrand Aristide is heading back to the Caribbean. He and his wife left the Central African Republic today. They're flying to Jamaica to be reunited with their two young children, who have been in the United States but are now in Jamaica.

Aristide left Haiti two weeks ago in the face of advancing rebels. He insists he was abducted by the United States and forced to leave. Washington denies it.

And the crisis in Haiti has prompted one Catholic priest from Fairfield University in Connecticut to go to the impoverished nation to lend a hand. Father Paul Carrier joins us live by phone from Cap Haitien.

Good morning.


COSTELLO: You flew there Saturday. Tell us what that was like.

CARRIER: Hello, Carol. I flew from New York to Port-au-Prince, and the flight wasn't very full. And when we did arrive, it's usually a tradition that when you land, people applaud, and no one applauded. There was a great somberness on the flight.

And once arriving in the airport, we went to the airport, and there were U.S. Marines there at the doors. So, it's a very different atmosphere than I was here -- when I was here in January, Carol.

COSTELLO: Oh, I can only imagine. So, after you got off the plane, where did you go? And tell us a little bit about your program in Haiti.

CARRIER: Thank you. Well, we went to -- I went to the municipal airport in Port-au-Prince to take a flight to Cap Haitien. And, again, landing in Cap Haitien, which I had done so many times over the past several years, the airport looked like it had been hit by a tornado or a firestorm. All of the buildings had been destroyed, and all that really was left was the runway and a couple of small buildings, where they could still process people to land.

And when I got there, I was greeted by the head of the program that we support in Cap Haitien and with some of the kids in the school. And it was a great reunion, first of all, to see them safe and healthy. And knowing what they've been through over the past weeks, it was a great reunion, even though, again, the airport looked devastated.

COSTELLO: And, Father Carrier, when you say kids, who old are we talking about?

CARRIER: Well, in the program, the kids range from ages 9-10 to 16. And we have some who are still on the streets that we work with during the day in a special program in town, and those who are then able go to a special village that we have outside of town, where they live full time and they do school and vocational programs, and spiritual development as well.

COSTELLO: Well, we're looking at some of the pictures that you sent back to us right now. Tell us what life is like right now for those children when they're not in the school that the Americans have built?

CARRIER: Well, right now, I think that, you know, things are, like I said, tense. People are frightened, and people are nervous as to what's going to happen next.

The children themselves, I think the program has been able to give them some sense of normalcy. I mean, again, the directors of the program have been very good supporting the kids, being with the kids, helping them talk about what they're going through. Because, again, these children have lived through incredibly dark times -- not just in the past few months, but really all of their lives: instability, upheaval, insecurity, poverty, incredible obstacles to their growth and development.

COSTELLO: Can you see American Marines on the streets from where you are?

CARRIER: Well, in Cap Haitien, they're not here yet, Carol. The only people who are here are the rebels, who took over the city three weeks ago, and they ride around in trucks with their guns. And the Marines are still in Port-au-Prince. So, Cap Haitien is still run by the rebel soldiers, who came in from the Dominican Republic and elsewhere.

COSTELLO: Do the people associated with your school want the U.S. Marines there?

CARRIER: I think right now definitely, in the sense of providing some security and certainly looking forward to the peacekeeping force of the United Nations. Because, again, I don't think they feel there will be no security and no order until the people are disarmed -- both sides are disarmed.

COSTELLO: Jean-Bertrand Aristide is going to Jamaica to visit his children. He'll be very close to Haiti. Haiti is not far away from Jamaica. How do people feel about him where you are?

CARRIER: You know, Carol, what's interesting is that now people just don't talk about it. They're not talking about politics. They're not talking about Aristide. It's pretty much like the first coup in 1991. People just stopped talking about politics, because they're afraid of being associated with one side or the other, because they don't know whoever they're speaking with if they're going to be turned in or if they're going to be arrested, picked up or killed. It's an incredible feeling. Nobody wants to talk about it.

COSTELLO: All right, Father Carrier, you're going to be with us tomorrow morning once again on DAYBREAK around this time to maybe introduce us to some of the children there. Father Paul Carrier live on the phone from Haiti this morning.

CARRIER: Thank you, Carol.


COSTELLO: Five days till spring. Only five days. We'll be right back.


COSTELLO: We're back. It's 6:40 Eastern Time.

In Fresno, California, police investigate whether there was a cult-like relationship between Marcus Wesson and his family. Wesson is in jail this morning, charged with the grizzly murders of nine family members.

Police say Wesson is both the father and grandfather of some of the victims. His son by another woman fully stands behind his father. Here's what he had to say.


SERAFINO WESSON, SON: I'm not going to say it, because maybe he did, but I'm just finding it hard to believe it. He's the best dad anybody could ever have. He looks dangerous, like how big he is, all of the long dress. He looks really dangerous, but I just can't -- but he's just a gentle guy. I can't believe he did it.


COSTELLO: Wesson is being held on $9 million bond pending arraignment.

In Pittsburgh, the pastor of the 131-year-old Ebenezer Baptist Church will rise out of the ashes -- that's what he's saying. But there was a bigger loss in Saturday's fire. Two veteran Pittsburgh firefighters were killed when the bell tower of the burning church collapsed.

CNN's Adaora Udoji has the story.


ADAORA UDOJI, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): To so many, like Anna Bowman (ph) and her son, Craig Clark (ph), the historic Ebenezer Baptist Church was far more than just a building.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Because I've had so many memories here. I was baptized in 1936.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And I was married here, buried a grandmother, a great-grandmother here -- just a lot of history here.

UDOJI: A day after the church burnt down, they and several hundred members found themselves together at the generosity of a neighbor -- a nearby Seventh Day Adventist church, which opened its doors.

But weighing most heavily on their minds: the toll of the vicious fire.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: There were firefighters that risked their lives, and in the process two lost their lives.

UDOJI: Two of Pittsburgh's veteran firefighters, both in their early 50s, were crushed to death when the city's oldest black church crumbled. All told, at least 31 firefighters were injured, 9 very seriously.

Investigators are now looking at what started the fire. Some suspecting it was caused by an electrical problem.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We don't worship the church. We worship the Lord. So, (UNINTELLIGIBLE) fall down. We'll just go into a field somewhere and have church there. It really don't matter.

UDOJI (on camera): At more than 130 years old, the church has survived many crises and thrived. And even though the bricks are coming down, members say this will be no exception.

(voice-over): But they will remember the two men who paid the ultimate price in trying to save their church -- a debt they know that can never be repaid.

Adaora Udoji, CNN, Pittsburgh.


COSTELLO: A disaster fund has been created to help rebuild the Ebenezer Baptist Church in Pittsburgh. The pastor of another Pittsburgh church has already donated $10,000.

Spanish troops in Iraq will come home -- those words from Spain's new leader in his first interview since winning the general election. Spaniards are struggling to come to terms with the worst terrorist attack in their history -- 200 people killed in last week's train bombings. Investigators fear al Qaeda may have carried out the attacks in revenge for Spain's support for the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq.

And terrorism fears in Europe have spiked since the commuter train bombings in Madrid. Security is beefed up, and there are concerns in Germany, France, Italy and Poland.

British authorities announced undercover officers will be riding the London subway.

CNN's Sheila MacVicar is live from the British capital to tell us more.



What has really got intelligence agencies and security services throughout Europe worried is that they picked up no hint of the attacks in Madrid, the planning for the attacks in Madrid, if, in fact, they are linked to some kind of Islamist extremist group, whether it's al Qaeda or not. The intelligence agencies throughout this continent had apparently no idea that these attacks were in the planning.

Now, over the course of the last number of years since September 11, we have seen a number of various plots spoiled, some of them here in the U.K., some of them elsewhere in Europe. But it seems that on this occasion, intelligence services for all of the focus that they have put into tracing and tracking and trying to stay at least one step ahead of any terrorist organization heard nothing about this plot.

Now, we know that Spanish authorities have got five people under arrest. Three of them are Moroccans. One of them has previously come to the attention of Spanish investigators and Spanish intelligence services for his links to the accused leader of Spain's al Qaeda cell. And it does seem to be almost beyond belief that someone was linked that close in this time would not be under some form of surveillance -- Carol.

COSTELLO: As far as security on board trains in London, can you get into more -- can you get into that more, too, for us, Sheila?

MACVICAR: Well, the British government is revealing today that 3,000 extra police officers of one kind or another will be, if you will, riding Britain's rails. That includes, of course, London's famous underground system that's used by three million people every day and its extensive network of trains -- trains, of course, being an important part of daily travel for commuters, who come into city centers from more outlying communities.

And, again, there is, of course, a tremendous vulnerability, as we saw at Madrid last week. We don't have airport-style security, and that's one reason to reassure the public that they're putting those policemen out there -- Carol.

COSTELLO: Sheila MacVicar reporting live from London this morning.

Your news, money, weather and sports. It is 6:46 Eastern Time. Here are the headlines.

New York held its largest terrorism drill since 9/11 at Shea Stadium. In the exercise, a mock bomb went off in the seats. Victims were hauled off to some 60 hospitals, and police searched for suspects -- all to see how prepared the city is to handle such things.

Scott Peterson's attorney plans to file a motion today seeking a second change of venue. Mark Geragos says based on juror questionnaires, he doesn't believe Peterson can get a fair trial in Redwood City, California. Everybody thought he'd be a shoe-in, and he was -- Russia's President Vladimir Putin with his second four-year term. Early returns show he racked up more than 70 percent of the vote.

In money, this silver dollar may be the first coin ever minted in the United States. Experts say it's 210 years old. A coin collector says he bought it last year for millions of dollars. He's insuring it today for $10 million.

In sports, Maryland beat Duke for the ACC championship. Still, Duke gets one of the top seeds of the NCAA tournament. Other top seeds go to Kentucky, the SCC returning champions, Saint Joseph's and Stanford.

In culture, famed tenor Luciano Pavarotti says good-bye to opera, again. After more than 40 years of high C's, Pavarotti had his last stage performance Saturday night at the Metropolitan Opera House in New York.

And in weather, there will be showers along the southeast coast today, and expect some rain and snow in parts of the Midwest, including Omaha and Des Moines.

Those are the headlines. Your next update is coming your way on "AMERICAN MORNING" at the top of the hour.

We'll be right back.


COSTELLO: All right, we have given you the hour. Time to see if you know what we've said this past hour. It could mean getting your very own DAYBREAK coffee mug. Yes, you could win a coffee mug.

So here are the questions. In what city did police diffuse a bomb in a minivan in front of a U.S. consulate? And, on a lighter note, what was that DAYBREAK photo of the day?

E-mail your answers now to --

So, I'm going to say the questions again.

CHAD MYERS, CNN METEOROLOGIST: There they are. There they are, yes.

COSTELLO: In what city did police diffuse a bomb in a minivan in front of a U.S. consulate? And, what was that DAYBREAK photo of the day?

E-mail us, and you could win your DAYBREAK coffee mug, and you can find out if you won by watching us tomorrow at 6:10 Eastern Time.

MYERS: And I will give it away.

COSTELLO: Yes, Chad will be out Vanna White.

MYERS: The phantom mug, those are not quite made yet, but you will have the first one.

COSTELLO: Well, here's a beautiful yellow one. Isn't that nice?

MYERS: Yes, it is. But not the ones you can buy down at the CNN stores. These will be special for our viewers only.

COSTELLO: Absolutely. Thank you, Chad.

MYERS: You're welcome.

COSTELLO: It's time for a little business buzz right now. Is the fountain of youth in a face cream? Gosh, I hope so. Of course, the FDA says no way.

Carrie Lee has more live from the Nasdaq Marketsite.

This is depressing.

CARRIE LEE, CNN FINANCIAL NEWS: Well, you know, this is an age- old issue, it seems, Carol -- this hope-in-a-jar concept.

Now, regulators are increasingly looking at some of these over- the-counter products, seeing if the ads can really back up what these products do. The latest here, the Food and Drug Administration sent a warning letter to a company called University Medical Products, basically saying the company went too far when it claimed that its products helped to boost collagen production, also reduce deep wrinkles by up to 70 percent.

The implications here, or the issue, there's a legal concept known as "puffery," and what that basically means is it's legal for cosmetics companies to brag that their products can make women look more beautiful or even perfect. However, under FDA rules, the companies cannot claim that packaging -- that in their packaging, that products can affect a skin structure or function.

And it's kind of a fine line here, pun intended. Take a Loreal ad, for example, citing a derma-smoothing complex. Proctor & Gamble citing revolutionary cell scare.

The bottom line, Carol, when you look at the packaging, you have to be very careful to not perhaps think that your expectations are going to be too high if you buy it and then use it.

COSTELLO: So, the secret of youth remains money and plastic surgery.

LEE: And maybe a visit to a dermatologist instead of something over the counter.

COSTELLO: Or one of those alpha-hydroxy peels. Thank you...

LEE: Just a...

COSTELLO: Go ahead. LEE: I just wanted to say a quick look at futures. We are expecting a weaker open for stocks. We saw a lot of selling last week. And in case people forget, we have now exactly one month before the tax filing deadline for 2003. Today is March 15 -- Carol.

COSTELLO: Thanks for the reminder. Carrie Lee live from New York this morning.

Chad joins me for "The Lightning Round" coming up, but first here are the latest headlines.


COSTELLO: Oh, I was expecting lightning. It is time for "The Lightning Round." I know it is. Chad's getting ready. He doesn’t have our lightning effect ready. He's reading the e-mails coming in.

MYERS: There are so many of them. Oh, my god!

There we go. Now, I've got it.

COSTELLO: Well, it's about time!

MYERS: There was -- actually, the person that answered the first question didn't give a city; he gave the country. We were asking for the city. So, actually the second correct answer...

COSTELLO: The city in that country, yes.

MYERS: Correct.

COSTELLO: All right, let's get on with "The Lightning Round" now.

MYERS: All right, I'm ready. OK.

COSTELLO: Mel Gibson's "Passion" is good for Hollywood, too. "The Passion of the Christ" was the top film at the box office once again for a third weekend in a row, taking in nearly 32 million bucks. And it's already over the 200 million mark. It's unbelievable.


COSTELLO: I know, Chad, you can't get enough of Britney Spears, because I know how much you love her. You'll be happy to hear the pop princess has just signed a deal with Elizabeth Arden, Inc. to develop her own line of perfumes and cosmetics.

MYERS: Like she needs makeup.

COSTELLO: I knew you liked her.

And you wouldn't normally put these artists together: Jackson Browne, the Dells, George Harrison, Prince, Bob Seger and ZZ Top -- all inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.

That does it for us. "AMERICAN MORNING" starts right now.


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