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New Attacks in Beirut Kill as Many as 14; Hezbollah Militants Striking Back With Rockets in Haifa

Aired July 17, 2006 - 09:30   ET


MILES O'BRIEN, CNN ANCHOR: Good morning to you. I'm Miles O'Brien.

We have breaking news out of the Middle East to get to this morning. New attacks in Beirut have killed as many as 14 people. And for the first time the Lebanese army hit by Israel. Meanwhile, Hezbollah militants are striking back with rockets in Haifa. That's where we find CNN's Paula Hancocks. She's standing by for us.

Paula, good morning.

PAULA HANCOCKS, CNN NEWS CORRESPONDENT: Hello Soledad. Well, we have seen a tremendous amount of rockets in Haifa, Israel's third largest city. But very few of them have actually caused a casualty. Now, we know around 30 rockets plus have been hitting northern Israel and Haifa itself, this Monday through the day. And we have had many air sirens which basically give residents of Haifa and other towns a minute, in theory, to get into cover. But to be honest, there's hardly anybody on the street for them to be able to get undercover.

Now, we do understand that one building has been partially collapsed in one of the rocket attacks. And if we just look over to the north this is where we're seeing the Lebanon border. It's very misty so you can hardly see it. But, about 25 Miles in that direction is where these rockets are coming from.

Now, as I say, many did land in the sea but one hit a building. We understand at least 11 people have been injured in that particular attack. One of them was injured seriously. Part of that building caught fire after the attack itself. Now, we also know that one -- a court room was also hit. But most people are not at work at the moment, so if shops, if restaurants, if courtrooms are hit, then there are no casualties because many people are just staying at home.

S. O'BRIEN: Paula Hancocks has our report this morning. We're taking a look at some of the videotapes she's go in of just the street scene, see people pressed against the building. Obviously a horribly fearful time for them. Paula, thanks -- Miles.

M. O'BRIEN: One of the reasons the Middle East conflict remains so intractable is the land they are fighting over is considered sacred to three religious, at least. And that puts some historic places with deep meaning right in harm's way. CNN Faith and Values correspondent Delia Gallagher looks at what could be lost in all of this. Hello Delia.

DELIA GALLAGHER, CNN NEWS CORRESPONDENT: Hi, Miles. You know, it's not called the "holy land" for nothing. The Middle East is the spiritual home of many of the world's religions, and many are watching these important landmarks that are also caught in the crossfire.


(voice-over): It's almost impossible to bomb a town in the Middle East without hitting a piece of history. Israel, Lebanon, Syria, Iraq, full of ruins and shrines, provide a foundation for many of the world's major religions. Biblos (ph), the Mediterranean Sea town where Israeli ships are now blockading Lebanon is one of the oldest continuously inhabited cities in the world. Just 22 miles from Beirut, the city dates back to 7,000 b.c. the word "bible" comes from Biblos. The papyrus from which the bible is written believes to have entered from this port now under siege.

JON ALTERMAN, DIR. OF MIDDLE EAST PROGRAMS: The number of religions in religious movements that have started, not only in Lebanon and Israel, but even in places like Syria that may soon come under conflict. There are people all over the world who look here for their spiritual inspiration and now they see bombs and bullets flying both ways.

GALLAGHER: The Israeli city of Haifa, where two missiles landed Thursday, is the worldwide headquarters of the Baha'i faith founded in Persia in the 19th century. Mount Carmel, high above Haifa, is the site of the Jewish prophet Elijah's cave. Mount Carmel's also home to the Carmelites, a Roman Catholic monastic order of the 12th century that is still there today.

Also hit by bombs was Zefad or Safed in upper Galilee, the ancient home of Kabbalah, the mystical form of Judaism began in the 16th century. The book of Genesis traces Noah's son and grandson to this area. Safed made headlines in modern times when Madonna, the pop singer, not religions figure, visited in 2004.

In the middle of the fighting in southern Lebanon is the town of Cana, there place where Jesus was said to have turn water into wine.

ALTERMAN: One of the things we see in other conflicts is that when something does get hit, people all over the world feel a personal connection, they see intimation, but there's also a spiritual connection. So in the event that something goes horribly wrong and one of the religious sites does get hit we can imagine the resonance of that is going to be much, much more than merely gunfire back and forth.


GALLAGHER: Now I spoke with morning with representatives of the Franciscans and Caramelite orders in Israel, they tell me no Christian churches have been directly hit, but at the monastery at Mount Carmel, which is on the hill overlooking Haifa they felt the effects of just three more hits just as I was talking to them, but they said so far no damage to their property.

M. O'BRIEN: You know, obviously security is a concern here, but what can they do, really, to secure against something like this?

GALLAGHER: Well, there is no extra security for these sites, Miles. I mean, with the exception really of the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, which is the church where they say Jesus' tomb was in Jerusalem, there's no extra security. The Israeli have some security around that, but in these other site there's no extra security and the people that I talked to there say, you know, they are in this with everybody else so they don't expect any extra security.

M. O'BRIEN: Can we presume the sites are off-limits as targets for all sides.

GALLAGHER: Well, presumably, of course, yes, they would not intend to hit them, but of course they could be part of the collateral damage.

M. O'BRIEN: All right, Delia Gallagher, thank you very much.

GALLAGHER: Thank you.

M. O'BRIEN: Soledad.

S. O'BRIEN: Happening this morning, the space shuttle "Discovery" landed very smoothly at Cape Canaveral in Florida just about 20 minutes ago. It's the first landing at the Kennedy Space Center in four years. Only the second shuttle mission since the "Columbia" disaster. "Discovery" spent 13 days in space.

President Bush is on his way back to Washington, D.C. From the G-8 Summit in Russia where the Mideast crisis was front and center. Before leaving today world leaders began work on organizing an international force for Lebanon. Meanwhile no immediate breakthrough on some of the other big issues like farm subsidies and industrial terrorists.

A deadly end to an Oregon international air show. Oh take a look of vintage British fighter jet slammed into a house in a crowded neighborhood yesterday, then it burst into flames. The pilot was killed, an empty home destroyed. Nobody on the ground was hurt.

The New York doctor who is suspected blowing up his Manhattan townhouse has died from his injuries. The Upper East Side building collapse a week ago following that massive explosion. Authorities believe that Nicholas Bartha blew up the $6 million town home rather than sell it. He was in the middle of a very bitter divorce settlement.

Boston's "Big Dig" is going from bad to worse. The Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney says tests have revealed a systematic failure with a ceiling suspension system and it could take months to repair. Another ramp was closed to traffic yesterday nearly a week after a woman was crushed to death by falling concrete inside a tunnel. Firefighters in southern California are hoping for the best, bracing for the worst, though. The 62,000 acre Sawtooth fire is now just about 70 percent contained, a small are adjacent fire, about 20 percent contained. Thunderstorms in the forecast today could help some efforts. Lightning, though, could spark other fires. That's a big concern there.

M. O'BRIEN: Oh, we're having a heat wave and no one is sing about it either. The thermometer could hit 100 today in Philly, 99 right here in New York City. I can hardly wait to get on the subway. Not. AMERICAN MORNING's Alina Cho.


M. O'BRIEN: I'm here in my air conditioned studio, hearkening down to you where it is already what? Is it in the 90s already?

CHO: Oh well, you know what? According to Chad Myers it's 80 degrees in Central Park, Miles, but it feels like 90, at least. You know, the temperatures are climbing. The forecast for New York City is 99 degrees today, but it's going to feel like it's 105. In fact, it's going to be so oppressively hot that the city is opening up hundreds of cooling centers. Now those are essentially air conditioned rooms that people can go to try to beat the heat.

CHO: Of course New Yorkers are doing what they can to stay out of the heat, or not. Mark Kaczmarczyk is one of them. He's one of those who is not beating the heat. Look at what you're wearing here. Give me a sense of what you've got here. You've got the flip-flops...

MARK KACZMARCZYK, NEW YORKER: It's required beach wear when you're headed to the beach. You know, I got to do the flip flops, sunglasses, as little as possible. Just to, you know, to stay cool.

CHO: The bathing suit underneath. But you won't show us.

KACZMARCZYK: I have the bathing suit. I won't show you, I promise.

CHO: OK, well you're one of the lucky ones. You've the day off work today, so you're headed to the beach.


CHO: You're not worried about being too hot?

KACZMARCZYK: Well, you know I'm going to position my towel and my chair so I can have my feet in the water, and occasionally, you know, get cooled off naturally.

CHO: OK, now you were born in New York, but you've been away a while.

KACZMARCZYK: I have been.

CHO: Take as little getting used to though, doesn't it. I mean, this is pretty hot even for New York today.

KACZMARCZYK: It is, I was out in Oregon for four years and you know, they don't get the humidity and the first summer I came back here it took, you know, a couple weeks to get used to it. You know, you put up with it.

CHO: You do put up with it.


CHO: You have to. Don't have a choice. Now, did I hear you say you've got tomorrow off, too?

KACZMARCZYK: I'm embarrassed to admit I have tomorrow off also. I work the weekend. How's that?

CHO: OK. All right, OK, fair enough. Fair enough, Mark Kaczmarczyk, thank you so much for joining us.

KACZMARCZYK: My pleasure.

CHO: Have a great time at the beach.


CHO: I know you've got to get going pretty soon.

You know, New York is just one of several cities across the country, particularly in the Midwest and the northeast, that's going to be feeling the heat today that could see record highs. Some basic advice, Miles, of course, try to stay out of the heat if you can. If you've the day off go to the beach. Wear sunscreen, lots of it, drink plenty of water. And you've been hearing this throughout the morning, try to avoid strenuous activity during the sun's peak hours, that's between 11:00 a.m. and 4:00 p.m. and if all else fails, of course, it's not the beach but right behind me is a fountain in New York's Columbus Circle, right there. May not be able to take a dip, but you may be able to go in there and feel the water. Not sure if it's allowed, Miles.

M. O'BRIEN: Don't encourage anything that might be, you know, upset the New York Police Department. Alina, I got to tell you something, you always look great. Always.

CHO: Oh, you flatter me.

M. O'BRIEN: But the long sleeves? You really -- aren't you going to get a little hot with that?

CHO: Well, I'm going to take it off as soon as I get inside the mall here. I've a t-shirt on but I thought I'd try to be a little professional for you.

M. O'BRIEN: Oh no, you look like a million bucks. All right, just stay cool, stay cool.

CHO: All right.

S. O'BRIEN: Two quick points. First today, Alina, is the birthday of the air conditioner, I'm being told in my ear.

M. O'BRIEN: Really.

S. O'BRIEN: Happy birthday air conditioner. How appropriate.

M. O'BRIEN: Who invented the air conditioner?

S. O'BRIEN: Hundred and four years old. I don't have the slightest idea.

M. O'BRIEN: Heracio S. Airconditioner.

S. O'BRIEN: Rather we'll just have -- rather, Willis Haviland Carrier. Carries.

M. O'BRIEN: Carrier, of course. Carrier.

S. O'BRIEN: Secondly, Alina, don't go anywhere near the fountain. When my kids would try to jump in they'd stop you and say they throw all kinds of chemicals in. So people should not be splashing in the fountains on a hot day.

M. O'BRIEN: Oh, they just tell you that. They don't really...

S. O'BRIEN: No, it's kind of nasty. You don't want to go in there.

M. O'BRIEN: Yeah, you don't want to do that. OK. All right. Good words to the wise there.

Let's get a check of the forecast. Chad Myers, you wearing flip- flops and shorts?

CHAD MYERS, CNN METEOROLOGIST: You know, starting May 1, when I get out of this suit that's all there is. It's Key West formal for me. T-shirts, shorts, flip-flops, right.


S. O'BRIEN: Chad thanks. Coming up this morning, a tragic oversight following one of the biggest recalls in U.S. History. We'll tell you why a mother is suing tire maker after her son's deadly accident. Take a look what is left of his car. That story and much more ahead on AMERICAN MORNING. We're back after this short break.


S. O'BRIEN: You might remember back when Firestone recalled millions of faulty tires, the tires were replaced, but not all of them. Some drivers overlooked their critical spare tire. CNN's Drew Griffin joins us from the CNN Center in Atlanta with more of the repercussions and ramifications of that.

Drew, good morning.

DREW GRIFFIN, CNN NEWS CORRESPONDENT: Yeah, it's happening now, Soledad, a problem that should never be happening. These older Firestone tires still failing on some Ford SUV in deadly roll-overs because drivers overlooked them during one of the largest tire recalls ever. These are spare tires that few owners worry about until they actually use them.


(voice-over): Six years ago Firestone recalled 6.5 million tires because they were vulnerable to sudden tread separations. They offered to replace the older radial tax and wilderness tires still stands, but according to data from Firestone as many as 200,000 of these tires were never turned in. One reason, Sean Canen, auto safety consultant, says during the height of the recall substitute tires were scarce.

SEAN KANE, SAFETY RESEARCH AND STRATEGIES: Some folks brought the vehicles in unbeknownst to them the spare wasn't replaced. They didn't crawl under the vehicle to see if it was a new tire and if it was not a Firestone, for example. There's many, many circumstances why these tires ended up in the spare wells on Explorers.

GRIFFIN: The spare tire on an Explorer is attached to the underbelly of the vehicle. You can't even see the brand name without crawling underneath the car. Linda Scudera's 20-year-old son was killed two years ago when his '93 Ford Explorer flipped over near Miami. It was a used vehicle with 100,000 miles on it and four new tires, but just days before the accident her son, Anthony, noticed a leak in one of those tires and replaced it with the spare he found under his vehicle. The spare was a recalled Firestone and took only three days to fall apart. Scudera, not wearing his seatbelt was ejected and killed.

LINDA SCUDERA, VICTIM'S MOTHER: The treads peeled completely off the tire. My car went out of control; my son didn't even have a chance.

KANE: These are clearly classic scenario. In the crashes we've seen, tires go on the vehicles, within a short period of time -- in one case, as soon as a couple of days, that tire suffer as catastrophic tread belt separation, the vehicle becomes uncontrollable and tends to roll over.

SCUDERA: I don't want any other mother to go through what I went through. It's the worst thing in the world to bury your child. I had no idea how dangerous that tire was.

GRIFFIN: Linda Scudera is suing Firestone over her son's death. Firestone denies responsibility and blames her son. Firestone says it continues to reach out to anyone who still owns one of these tires made in the 1990s: the Firestone Radial ATX and Wilderness AT tires.

A spokesperson says, "bring them into a company-owned store and we'll replace them, no questions asked, free of charge. It's in everyone's interest," she said, "to get those tires off the road."


How many are out there? That's the big question, Soledad. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration decided to do a -- just a random check of older Ford SUVs. Workers crawling under SUVs, they found roughly 10 percent still have these outdated Firestone spare tires that should have been turned in a half a dozen years ago.

S. O'BRIEN: In other words a whole heck after lot are still out there. Drew Griffin, that's a scary -- that's a scary report. You can see Drew's full report on "Paula Zahn Now" at 8:00 p.m. Eastern -- Miles.

M. O'BRIEN: CNN "Live Today" is coming up next. Daryn Kagan has that for us, and she will give us a preview right now. Got to listen up, right?

DARYN KAGAN, "LIVE TODAY": Here I am. Morning, Miles. Coming up on "Live Today," new rocket attacks in northern Israel, but Beirut is still a target of Israeli missiles. The latest Mideast developments with live reports across the region. And a brutal heat wave, we'll show you the danger zones and give you tips on how to keep your cool. Join us at the top of the hour.

Miles, back to you.

M. O'BRIEN: Thank you very much, Daryn. Coming up, we're going to be "Minding Your Business." Want a sneak peek at TV's new fall line-up? Throw out the "TV Guide" and check in your refrigerator instead. We'll explain that one ahead.


S. O'BRIEN: All this news and bad news out of the Middle East. What sit going to do to oil prices? One can guess it's not going to be good news. Carrie Lee's "Minding Your Business" this morning.

Good morning.

CARRIE LEE, CNN NEWS CORRESPONDENT: You know, it's been interesting, Soledad and Miles, we've seen a little bit of a seesaw regarding oil prices and the early market indications so far this morning.

First of all, let's take a quick look at the Dow Jones Industrials and you can see not such a bad day up by 50 points. Stocks have reversed, earlier losses in the premarket session because oil prices have come down to about $76.25 a barrel. This lower than the record closing price of 77.03 we saw on Friday. And the reason for this turnaround, right around 8:00 a.m. Eastern Iran -- a report Iran had accepted an incentive to resolve the dispute over its nuclear program. So, with everything going on in the Middle East that's at least a bit of good news when it comes to oil prices, and so far stocks. So, that's the latest on the markets. Now, here is an interesting story when it comes to advertising and, Miles, you're probably like this one because there are a lot of puns involved when you go...

S. O'BRIEN: She has your number.

M. O'BRIEN: If the shoe fits.

LEE: Really -- no service left unadvertised or that's the way it might seem this fall. CBS is going to start etching some advertising on eggs. They're working with a company called Egg Fusion, so for example you open the refrigerator, you look to see if there are cracked eggs in the grocery store, it'll say something like "scramble to win on CBS, "hard boiled drama," or one relating to "CSI," "crack the case on CBS." So...

M. O'BRIEN: Or egg-stra good programming.

LEE: So many...

S. O'BRIEN: That's on AMERICAN MORNING. Can we get in on the idea?

LEE: So, we'll see if it takes off. They're starting this fall. They haven't actually done it yet, but...

M. O'BRIEN: Are sure it's not a yolk?

LEE: The company that does this...

S. O'BRIEN: You setting him up. You deserve that.

LEE: They actually laser etch the expiration date on eggs, so now they're branching out and, you know, if you look at the egg a couple of times, right? At the grocery store, the refrigerator, crack it open in the morning...

S. O'BRIEN: Wow, why is anybody advertising on my eggs (INAUDIBLE) or crack it oup and make an omelet. Come on. Who would read...

M. O'BRIEN: You can't TiVo...

S. O'BRIEN: Oh, I want to save this for later. That's so ridiculous.

M. O'BRIEN: Thank you.

S. O'BRIEN: Thank you Carrie.

M. O'BRIEN: That was the story of the morning as far as I'm concerned.

Coming up in the top of the hour, continuing live coverage of the fighting in the Middle East. We're going to check in with our correspondents throughout the region. Also a beautiful picture-perfect homecoming for the space shuttle "Discovery." That's the first landing at the Kennedy Space Center in about four years and it went well. We're going to recap the mission with former shuttle commander Eileen Collins. Live pictures now as the crew transport vehicle -- there you see it there, like you see at Dulles Airport, one of those vehicles that has the little scissors on it. The crew is getting on there right now and we'll see them soon where they go around and kind of kick the tires and take a look at their vehicle after the 4 million mile journey. Stay with us.


S. O'BRIEN: Tomorrow on AMERICAN MORNING a special series, it's called "Inside Autism." We're going to take a look at the possible causes of this disorder. We'll show you how doctors are trying to treat it. That's tomorrow on AMERICAN MORNING.

M. O'BRIEN: That's all the time we have for this edition of AMERICAN MORNING. Daryn Kagan is at the CNN Center to take you through the next couple of hours on "CNN LIVE TODAY."

Hello Daryn.


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