The Web      Powered by


Return to Transcripts main page


How High Will Gas Prices Go? Nancy Reagan Supports Stem Cell Research

Aired May 9, 2004 - 16:30   ET


FREDRICKA WHITFIELD, CNN ANCHOR, CNN LIVE SUNDAY: Here's a look at the latest developments at this hour. In Florence, Italy, five people suspected of recruiting suicide bombers are under arrest. Italian officials say the Al Jerian Emom (ph) and four teenagers were recruiting people to carry out attacks in Iraq. The arrests were part of an extensive yearlong investigation.
New allegations and pictures of prisoner abuse at Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq. They come from Pulitzer Prize winner journalist Seymour Hersh in his latest article in "The New Yorker" he writes that U.S. military commanders did nothing about abuse allegations from the International Committee of the Red Cross.

The first court-martial proceeding in the prisoner abuse scandal begins in just ten days. Army specialist Jeremy Sivits is one of seven Americans facing criminal charges. His trial will take place in Baghdad.

The man who spent three weeks as a hostage in Iraq says photos of the abused had an impact on the way he was treated by his captors.


THOMAS HAMILL, FORMER HOSTAGE IN IRAG: When they came out with the tapes of the -- what's going on with the prisoners over there and I hated that. That had an affect on me captive the last few days. I hate that happening. They asked me about it and one thing about it, we're going to take care of it. They're going to justice. They're going to be punished and but the ones that are holding us hostage over there, they're not going to be held accountable unless we go get them. I don't have anybody to arrest them, put them on trial so we have to go get them and take them out.


WHITFIELD: Thomas Hamill was driving a truck for Halliburton Subsidiary when his convoy was ambushed last month he says that during his hostage ordeal, his captives shackled him, brandished weapons and threatened his life. Hamill was able to escape a week ago, he returned to Mississippi earlier yesterday after being treated at U.S. military hospital in Germany.

On this Mother's Day, we like to bring you a story of an U.S. Soldier, a mother, who survived an ambush in Iraq. She's now struggling with the trauma that haunts her day and night. CNN's Chris Burns has her story. (BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

CHRIS BURNS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: It was some of the worst fighting since the war. A young woman from Wheeling, Illinois, her first time in a foreign land. Was caught in the middle of it. Army Specialist Mandy Aguiler a mother of two is trying to come to grips with her trauma at Lanchduel (ph) Medical Center in Germany.

SPC. MANDY AGUILAR, U.S. ARMY: It was an ambush on Easter Sunday. Right outside of -- right outside of Baghdad pretty much. We were -- I drive with a fuel hauling company. And we drive 5,000-gallon tankers. And it was -- it was really bad. We were out there for a couple of hours.

BURNS: Under fire?

AGUILAR: Under fire.

BURNS: With three wounded soldiers, the convoy called for air support but the insurgents shot down the helicopter, killing the two pilots.

AGUILAR: When it went down everybody was, it was like we almost lost hope when they shot the chopper out of the sky because you don't see that except in the movies. You know? You don't see helicopters getting shot down.

BURNS: Black Hawk down?

AGUILAR: Yes. It was almost like a movie. Like, you know, you were watching a movie. It was slow motion. And everybody stopped. And just watched the chopper go down. I mean, everybody stopped shooting for like 30 seconds. It just went completely silent out there. I mean, even they stopped shooting at us.

BURNS: Tanks and reinforcements led her convoy to safety. Though Aguilar wasn't hurt, she says she's struggling with severe posttraumatic stress.

AGUILAR: I can't get in my truck. I hear noises like bombs going off certain other people don't hear. Well, other people don't hear. Just me. When mortars go off, it's pretty bad.

BURNS: How do you react to that?

AGUILAR: I either run or I'll squat down behind something in like a little ball.

BURNS: And then there are the nightmares.

AGUILAR: There are mortars that are being locked in on me. And I can't move. I just stand there and watch them coming. I can't go anywhere.

BURNS: Aguilar is getting counseling and medication. She says she feels guilty she left her comrades back in Iraq but she knows it's better not to return just yet.

AGUILAR: If I was out there and something bad happened because I did something, like, I froze out there or something, I would not be able to live with myself if another soldier died trying to help me.

BURNS: Do you think you can get over that? Is it possible to get over that and go back?

AGUILAR: Honestly, sir, I don't know. I'll find out when I get back stateside and, you know, talk to the doctors. I'm hoping I can. I'm a mom. I have two kids I got to take care of when I get back home.

BURNS: Torn between her children and her fellow soldiers she both calls family. Chris Burns, CNN, Germany.


WHITFIELD: We turn now to Afghanistan where authorities are investigating more deadly attacks there. Two men including a Swiss national were found beaten to death in a cobble garden today. Police say a motive is unclear but judging from the appearance, the victims were obviously from other countries.

Meanwhile, in Eastern Afghanistan, a blast hit a car carrying U.N. election workers but no one was hurt in that incident.

In southern Afghanistan, 35 Taliban, suspects including a senior commander, have reportedly been captured in an U.S. crack down. An Afghan commander says hundreds of American troops began canvassing the insurgency plagues region on Friday. He says they encountered no resistance during the raids. Which also turned up numerous weapons. The U.S. military isn't commenting on that operation.

Further north, American forces are hoping to make their presence felt in yet another Afghan region that has been plagued by lawlessness. CNN's senior international correspondent Nic Robertson has been watching U.S. Marines embark on a new mission aimed at curbing the violence and fostering stability.


NIC ROBERTSON, SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT, (voice over): Marine helicopters hug the mountains. Heading into one of Afghanistan's most dangerous provinces. Once a Taliban stronghold, Oruzgon is now the base of operations for over 2,000 recently deployed marines.

COL. FRANK MCKENZIE, U.S. MARINE CORPS: Our mission here is to improve the general security environment. And that will lead to successful elections.

ROBERTSON: Barely two weeks at their new camp, securing their own base, also a priority. Mile upon mile of razor wire still being laid out. Operations, though, already underway. More than 1,000 marines spread throughout the province not just to enable safe elections, but thwart Taliban and others turning Oruzgon into a transit route for anti-coalition elements.

MCKENZIE: Oruzgon sits central to Afghanistan. It's large geographic bow, it is a natural transit point for people moving east and west across Afghanistan that don't have the opportunity to go down and use the ring road so it is sort of the keystone to the rest of the country.

ROBERTSON: Assistance to Afghans is intended soon to expand beyond the $5 a day these men earn helping to construct the base. Already, though, election officials who have had two colleagues killed elsewhere in Afghanistan this week see the benefit in the marines' presence.

MATTHIAS LEITNER, UNAMA POLITICAL AFFAIRS: This really also gives us a type of feeling of security. And confidence that this can be successfully concluded, this process.

ROBERTSON (on camera): If marines are successful, bringing stability to this area, aid officials say the real benefits could be felt long after the elections. If charity organizations feel security is sufficient for them to move back into the area in numbers. Nic Robertson, CNN, Afghanistan.


WHITFIELD: In other news around the world, Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon has cancelled his trip to Washington, D.C. he wants to use the time to rework a plan for pulling settlements out of Gaza and the West Bank. Sharon include party rejected the disengagement plan earlier in the month.

A rare tornado in southern China left at least two people dead. One was killed when the twister struck. The other was electrocuted trying to rescue someone trapped in the debris. Dozens of people were injured. Hundreds of home were destroyed or damaged.

French President Jaques Chirac laid a wreath at the tomb of the unknown soldier in Paris this weekend. France is paying tribute to the heroes of World War II from now until June 6th. The month of celebrations will culminate with a 60th anniversary of the D-day landing in Normandy.

Supporters of embryonic stem cell research now have a powerful conservative voice in their corner. Last night, former First Lady Nancy Reagan made a passionate public plea for more scientific studies. She appeared as star-studded dinner benefiting the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation. Her support for stem cell research has been known for sometime but she said watching her husband slowly deteriorate prompted her to get more involved.


NANCY REAGAN, FORMER FIRST LADY: Ronnie's long journey has finally taken him to a distant place where I can no longer reach him. We can't share the wonderful memories of our 52 years together. And I think that's probably the hardest part. And because of this, I'm determined to do what I can to save other families from pain.


WHITFIELD: Letters of support from Former Presidents Ford, Carter and Clinton were read at last night's dinner but the White House has been silent. Three years ago, President Bush signed an executive order limiting such research to existing stem cell lines.

Well how high have gas prices gone? And how much higher might they still go? We've got the answers to both questions when CNN LIVE SUNDAY continues.

Also ahead on this Mother's Day, can the relationship you have with your child help determine if he or she becomes president? Find out what history tells us.


WHITFIELD: Well, get ready for another round of sticker shock at the pump. Gas prices have jumped another 10 cents in the last two weeks; they are expected to go even higher during the summer. The traditional peak driving season in the U.S., the average price for a gallon of self serves regular gas nationwide right now $1.93 a gallon.

Skyrocketing gas prices may fuel a summer of discontent for motorists. How did they get so high? And why are they still going up? Roben Farzad has been following the rising rates for "Smart Money" magazine. He joins us from Boston. Good to see you.

ROBEN FARZAD, "SMART MONEY" MAGAZINE: Hi Fredricka. How are you?

WHITFIELD: All right, I'm doing pretty good. We could all be doing better though if the gas prices did drop a little bit. But for now we'll deal with what's right before us. So just last Friday, the crude oil went up to $40 a barrel and that's the highest it's been in 14 years. What's going on?

FARZAD: Just a combination of factors really. One is as you mentioned entering the summer driving season. So naturally, prices ratchet up at this time of year, but in addition all this news out of Iraq has been terrible and for the first time, we saw militants there target Iraq's Basra's oil facility which is a chief exporting hub, and there was an attack, also, followed at a Saudi Arabia petro chemical facility and the fear is out there that terrorists are going to escalate this campaign to the oil front.

And already jittery oil market where oil constantly breaking new barriers, $32, $34, $36 and now $40 a barrel and people feeling this $2 a gallon pinch at the pump.

WHITFIELD: And in fact, you know, you mentioned Saudi Arabia with this most recent attack at an oil contractor's office. The fear is there might be more and if there is yet another attack, particularly in Saudi Arabia region, we could end up seeing crude oil prices up to $60 a barrel? FARZAD: Yes. I'm seeing the $50 number bandied about alarmingly. A lot of analysts are out there saying they would not be surprised if much of the status quo continues and successful attack takes out one of these facilities and we take it off line. That in combination with low stockpiles, the OPEC keeping somewhat a tight bias would be worrisome. OPEC right now has fair capacity of 2.2 million barrels and that is a third of where it's historically been. Even if OPEC wanted to loosen the spigots, they're somewhat constrained in how much they can. How much room they have left.

WHITFIELD: Gas prices are certainly at an uncomfortable level but I'm not seeing any indicators that people are being a little bit more conservative about their driving. So we are entering a very busy driving season.


WHITFIELD: People are hitting the roads for the summer and late spring trips. Is this an issue of people just have to suck it up and get used to the fact that we may be looking at gas prices over $2 a gallon this summer?

FARZAD: You know, I don't know what threshold it really starts to hit people but it's definitely the topic of cocktail parties and people who bump into me are like you know, I'm mugged at the gas station here and when you're talking about a car that, you know, SUV or a light truck that cost $50, $60 to fill up and a lot of people live a commuting lifestyle coming in from the suburbs, that becomes prohibitive and that has fed this recent surge of popularity for the hybrid vehicles that are hitting the market from Toyota and Honda. I predict that you are going to see a trend away from the gas-guzzlers. GM is stepping in and announcing incentives for Hummer. I mean the fact that they have to subsidize the Hummer, the most luxurious and, you know, exorbitant of vehicles is worrisome.

WHITFIELD: More car companies like Ford and Lexus among them who are really touting these new hybrids that they are hoping to unveil a little bit later on to kind of join the fleet of hybrids that are already out.

FARZAD: Indeed.

WHITFIELD: This is indeed an answer, you know, to the growing gas problem. Roben Farzad thanks very much for joining us a "Smart Money" magazine.

FARZAD: Great Fredricka.

WHITFIELD: and you know we got our fingers crossed that maybe things will turn around for everybody. That would be nice. Take care.

FARZAD: Have a good time today.

WHITFIELD: All right, thanks a lot. You to.

FARZAD: Take care. WHITFIELD: Here's what else is happening across America. The Columbus, Ohio, skyline is minus a familiar fixture. An implosion crew took only a few seconds to reduce the 16-story Baldwin Tower to a 20- foot high pile of rubble this morning. The Grant Medical Center will replace the 1968 building with a state of the art facility for heart procedures.

And Hazmat crews in Tualatin, Oregon are cleaning up from a train derailment that caused a 200-gallon diesel fuel leak. Nine rail cars left the track yesterday. Officials say no word on how many people were injured and certain so far that only one may have been hurt and environmental damage was minimal.

The Honolulu, Hawaii, fire department is trying to determine how a smoking military canister turned up on an Awhaho (ph) beach yesterday triggering an evacuation. Canister had dangerous phosphorus written on it. No injuries had been reported.

Well many of the men who have occupied the oval office have an often-overlooked link.

STEPHEN HESS, PRESIDENTIAL HISTORIAN: Presidents by and large had very, very strong mothers.

WHITFIELD: Want some proof? Bill Schneider brings it to us right after the break.


WHITFIELD: Mothers have played a very important role in politics. How? By having an influence on the president of the United States. Senior political analyst Bill Schneider looks at some really powerful first mothers.


BILL SCHNEIDER, SENIOR POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT, (voice over): For most presidents the critical influence over their lives has been their mothers.

BILL CLINTON, FORMER PRESIDENT: You want to know where I get my fighting spirit? It all started with my mother.

LOU CANNON, JOURNALIST: I think that Reagan's mother was the key to his development, to his success as an adult human being.

SCHNEIDER: Lillian Carter imparted her commitment to public service to her son. JFK got his campaign spirit from his mother, Rose, the daughter of a politician. Sarah Dell Roosevelt lived with her son, Franklin, his entire life. Even moving to Boston with him when he went away to college. Historians have noticed a pattern.

HESS: Presidents by and large had very, very strong mothers and often women who have had considerable problems in their lives and in their -- and in their families. Husbands who may be abusive or alcoholic or just not doing very well in life. But by golly, they have gotten behind their children or at least the child who becomes president.

SCHNEIDER: Richard Nixon's mother seemed to fit this pattern. So did Gerald Ford's. Not every president got along with his mother. Case in point, George Washington.

HESS: In fact, his mother bid him out of his estate. Complained to the Continental Congress about him. It was a very rough relationship.

SCHNEIDER: Two first mothers have also been first ladies. Abigail Adams, wife of the second president, mother of the sixth. Best remembered for her remarkable correspondence with her husband.

SEN. JOHN KERRY, (D) PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: If you read those brilliant letters between Abigail Adams and John Adams, you look at the way she kept that family together.

SCHNEIDER: And Barbara Bush, wife of the 41st president, mother of the 43rd and a considerable political force.

GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE U.S: Growing up, she gave me love and lots of advice. I gave her white hair.


SCHNEIDER: First moms do not shy away from politics. Barbara Bush has just written a Mother's Day fund raising letter for her son. Citing negative ads by John Kerry, she writes, I've been particularly disappointed in the personal attacks. There's a true political mother. How dare he attack my son? Bill Schneider, CNN, Washington.

WHITFIELD: And a Happy Mother's Day to all moms out there. Including my mom, my sister and friends.

All right. Looking ahead, attempts to turn America's ballot boxes into a high-tech system are running into some roadblocks. "Next@CNN" takes a look at why electronic voting may not be ready for November.

Then on "CNN Live Sunday" putting a MIT education to work at the blackjack tables in Las Vegas. Hear how one man's team of mass super stars broke the bank and how the casinos fought back.

And later "People in the News" profiles Carly Simon and Rod Stewart. Thanks for joining us. I'll be back with the headlines right after this.



On CNN TV E-mail Services CNN Mobile CNN AvantGo CNNtext Ad info Preferences
   The Web     
Powered by
© 2005 Cable News Network LP, LLLP.
A Time Warner Company. All Rights Reserved.
Terms under which this service is provided to you.
Read our privacy guidelines. Contact us.
external link
All external sites will open in a new browser. does not endorse external sites.
 Premium content icon Denotes premium content.