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All Charges Dropped in Duke Lacrosse Case; Don Imus Out at MSNBC; Explosion in Iraq, Imus out at NBC, Charges dropped against Duke lacrosse players, weather, where people live longer, greenhouse gases

Aired April 12, 2007 - 07:00   ET


SOLEDAD O'BRIEN, CNN ANCHOR: Good morning. Welcome back everybody. Thursday, April 12th. I'm Soledad O'Brien.
MILES O'BRIEN, CNN ANCHOR: And I'm Miles O'Brien. We thank you for joining us. This morning, for the first time in more than a year, those three former Duke lacrosse players, once accused of sexual assault, are free and clear in the eyes of the law. All charges against them are dropped. North Carolina's attorney general says they are innocent and says the case against them was a tragic rush to accuse by a prosecutor who now faces possible disbarment.

CNN's Jason Carroll is live from Durham, North Carolina with more.

JASON CARROLL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Miles, the attorney general's office investigated the case for three months. Not only did they drop the charges, the attorney general says Durham's district attorney pushed forward when he should have taken a step back.


CARROLL (voice-over): After more than a year, the three former Duke University lacrosse players finally heard the North Carolina attorney general echo what they had insisted all along.

ROY COOPER, NORTH CAROLINA ATTORNEY GENERAL: Based on the significant inconsistencies between the evidence and the various accounts given by the accusing witness, we believe these three individuals are innocent of these charges.

CARROLL: During an emotional news conference, the three players described what it feels like to be publicly vindicated.

DAVID EVANS, FMR. DUKE UNIVERSITY LACROSSE PLAYER: It's been 395 days since this nightmare began and finally today it's come to a closure.

COLLIN FINNERTY, FMR. DUKE UNIVERSITY LACROSSE PLAYER: Knowing I had the truth on my side was really the most comforting thing of all throughout the past year.

CARROLL: Collin Finnerty, Dave Evans and Reade Seligman never wavered from their original statements to police, that they had not raped an exotic dancer hired to perform at a team party last Spring. READE SELIGMAN, FMR. DUKE UNIVERSITY LACROSSE PLAYER: This entire experience has opened my eyes up to a tragic world of injustice I never knew existed.

CARROLL: The rape charges had already been dropped, but in a dramatic news conference Attorney General Roy Cooper said he was also dismissing the remaining kidnapping and assault charges.

COOPER: We believe that these cases were the result of a tragic rush to accuse and a failure to verify serious allegations.

CARROLL: Cooper called Michael Nifong, the Durham district attorney who originally brought the case, a rogue prosecutor, who had over reached his authority.

COOPER: The Durham district attorney pushed forward unchecked. There were many points in this case where caution would have served justice better than bravado. And in the rush to condemn, a community and a state lost the ability to see clearly.

CARROLL: Defense attorneys also criticized how the media initially covered the case.

JIM COONEY, ATTORNEY: If they had done what journalists are supposed to do and spoken truth to power, they could have slowed this train down.

CARROLL: But the harshest criticism was leveled against Nifong, who had publicly criticized the players for months, but then, when the allegations began unraveling, asked the attorney general to take over the case. Nifong now faces ethics charges on allegations he mishandled the case and kept evidence from the defense.

Nifong has not publicly responded to those allegations. Reade Seligmann says Nifong did not do enough to uphold the moral obligations of his office.

SELIGMAN: If police officers and a district attorney can systematically railroad us with absolutely no evidence whatsoever, I can't imagine what they would do to people who do not have the resources to defend themselves.

CARROLL: Defense attorneys say the final act of justice should be to remove Nifong from office and have him disbarred.


M. O'BRIEN: All right, apologize. We've obviously got an audio problem with Jason Carroll. We'll get back to him a little later. Soledad?

S. O'BRIEN: What an interesting case. Those young men, you wonder how long it's going to take for them to recover from this. A year of their lives literally gone.

M. O'BRIEN: It's awful they lost a year. It's good they're young and sort of can maybe turn this into a learning experience.

S. O'BRIEN: What, that the justice system for them failed? I think that's what they took away. There is some crucial evidence this morning that may be lost in the case of those eight fired federal prosecutors. That's according to published reports. The White House says about 50 staffers and officials, including Karl Rove, used a private e-mail system to discuss, among other things, the prosecutors.

Well now those e-mails may be gone. The law requires all official White House business to be done on government computers and saved. The White House says it is trying to recover the lost e-mails. Members of Congress investigating the case of those fired prosecutors would like to see those e-mail. Miles.

M. O'BRIEN: Military families this morning dealing with a big bomb shell from the Pentagon. The one-year tour of duty is no more; 15 months in Iraq and Afghanistan will now be the rule. Defense Secretary Robert Gates says it's the best way to sustain the troop build-up in Iraq into next year. He says the longer tours will ensure troops get 12 full months at home between overseas deployments.

This morning in Washington, there's another battle brewing between Democrats in Congress and the president over stem cells. The president poised to veto, once again, a bill that would allow federal funding for embryonic stem cell research. Senate Democrats pushed the bill through yesterday, but not by a veto-proof margin.

President Bush opposes federal support of the research, because it involves destroying human embryos. Scientists say those stem cells could fight many now incurable diseases.

S. O'BRIEN: Several weeks after the first of dozens of dogs and cats nationwide began dying and endless confusing pet food recalls began, there are still many questions about the cause. And today, hearings are taking place on Capitol Hill to determine why better safe guards are not in place and why all those problems were not detected sooner.

Meanwhile, pet owners and pet food suppliers are anxiously awaiting some answers. "AMERICAN MORNING's" Chris Lawrence has our report.


CHRIS LAWRENCE, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): With so much tainted food taken off the shelves, the Nevada Animal Disease and Food Safety Lab says the worst is over for thousands of pet owners.

DR. ANETTE RINK, NEVADA ANIMAL DISEASE AND FOOD SAFETY LAB: IF they're not sick yet, they probably won't get sick.

LAWRENCE: But just this week the FDA added 12 new brands of cat food to the recall and pets like Misha are still wasting away.

BERNI HUBER, CAT OWNER: She has less than two weeks to live.

LAWRENCE: Berni Huber says his cat dropped a third of her body weight and barely moves.

HUBER: Before she ate this nasty stuff, no, she was a playful cat.

LAWRENCE: Huber says the vet discovered damage to her kidneys and liver.

(on camera): Ultimately, who do you hold responsible? Where does the buck stop?

HUBER: My biggest blame right now is two-fold. One with the FDA, and Nutra.

LAWRENCE (voice-over): The FDA discovered the chemical melamine in wheat glutton used to make the pet food. Huber believes they should have caught it sooner. Menu foods bought the wheat glutton from Kem Nutra, which imported it from China. So we tried to get answers at the supplier's headquarters in Las Vegas.

(on camera): My name is Chris Lawrence from CNN. I was hoping to speak to someone from Kem Nutra.

(voice-over): A spokesman told me Kem Nutra immediately stopped shipping the wheat glutton when the problem was discovered. They are cooperating with the FDA in conducting their own internal tests. But Doctor Anette Rink doubts melamine is the answer everyone is looking for.

RINK: We don't really know what the toxic component is in any of the recalled pet foods.

LAWRENCE: She says some owners may be attributing natural death to the pet food scare. Bernie Huber looks at his once healthy cat and can't help but disagree.

HUBER: It's OK. It's OK.

LAWRENCE: Chris Lawrence, CNN, Las Vegas.


S. O'BRIEN: That's so sad. There's kind of a twist in the pet food recall story. The chief financial officer of Menu Foods apparently sold 14,000 shares of his company stock, which is worth about 90,000 dollars, three weeks before the recall of pet food by his company. Those shares now worth about 54,000 dollars. Menu Foods says the timing of his sale was just a coincidence. While the company started getting calls at about the same time the stock was sold, a spokesman said the executive, Mark Wines (ph), wouldn't have known about it so quickly. The calls didn't really start to cause alarm, according to the spokesperson, until about a week later.

M. O'BRIEN: Now to the outrage over Don Imus' racist remarks. NBC making the decision last night to fire him. Just within the last hours, Imus responded on his radio show.


DON IMUS, RADIO SHOW HOST: As you all know, MSNBC yielding to enormous pressure, which I do understand, canceled the simulcast of this program. And so we move on. Somebody was talking to me about the outrageous level of hypocrisy on everybody who knows better. And I says, well, you know, I shouldn't have said it. And then somebody else said, well, you got caught in a slow news cycle. And I said sometimes it doesn't snow on Christmas.


M. O'BRIEN: CBS radio says it is monitoring the situation closely. That's a quote. So far no decision to cancel the program heard on 70 stations nationwide. Imus begins serving a two-week suspension on Monday. The Reverend Al Sharpton plans a protest outside CBS headquarters today. He wants Imus fired. And Barack Obama is the first presidential candidate to call for Imus' job. He says he won't appear on his show again.

A literary giant has left us this morning. Kurt Vonnegut, the satirical novelist, who best captured the insanity of war, died yesterday in New York City. He wrote about 19 novels, including "Cat's Cradle," and "Slaughterhouse Five," the latter inspired by his experience as a German POW during the allied fire bombing of Dresden during World War II.

Vonnegut took a fall a few weeks ago at home, suffered a brain injury. He was 84.

S. O'BRIEN: We continue to monitor this big explosion we were telling you about happening in Baghdad. We are getting reports that the explosion took place inside the Iraqi parliament building, in fact in a restaurant inside the parliament building around lunch time. Apparently there is word that some parliamentarians, many parliamentarians -- one of the words that we were reading in printed reports, were having lunch. Details are just coming in right now. That parliament building is actually inside of the green zone. More information as soon as we get it.

Also this morning, tornado watches happening in the south. Spring snowstorms in the upper Midwest. And the snow is a factor in a very hard landing for that plane over night in Michigan. Chad Myers is next with a look at the day's extreme weather.

And if you want to live longer, who doesn't, you might need to discover the secret of Okinawa, Japan or Lomalinda (ph), California. Doctor Sanjay Gupta goes looking for the world's blue zones -- that's what they call them -- straight ahead on AMERICAN MORNING. The most news in the morning is right here on CNN.


M. O'BRIEN: Most news in the morning, right here on CNN. Extreme weather slamming parts of the Midwest. In central Indiana, powerful thunderstorms and possible tornadoes left a trail of damage last night. Several cars and homes in the Indianapolis area hit hard. Countless trees and power lines also knocked down. No reports of injury.

And in Michigan, a risky landing overnight. The nose gear on a North West Airlines jet collapsed during a hard landing in a snowstorm at the Traverse City Airport. The plane careened off the runway. Fifty passengers, three crew on board; nobody hurt. About a quarter past the hour right now. Chad Myers at the CNN Weather Center. It's April, Chad. It doesn't feel like it.


S. O'BRIEN: Don Imus, as we have been telling you all morning, out at MSNBC. CBS Radio says they are going to closely monitor the situation -- that's a quote -- during his two week suspension. Bruce Gordon is a former NAACP president. He is also a current CBS board member. He's in Baltimore this morning. It's nice to see you, Mr. Gordon. As always, thanks for talking with us.


S. O'BRIEN: Fill me in; you are the only black member of the CBS board. There's ten white guys, one Hispanic female, one white female. Was there some kind of emergency session of the board when this news broke? How's it been working?

GORDON: There has been frequent contact between the CEO and some of us on the board. Obviously, I have a unique interest, given the circumstances. There is a lot to be thought through. Obviously, the statements made by Imus don't require a lot of thought. They were outrageous; they were wrong; and they deserve a consequence.

S. O'BRIEN: OK, then that leads me right to my next question. Which is, if they don't require a lot of thought, then why is the statement from CBS Radio that, essentially, CBS Radio is going to continue to speak with all concerned parties and monitor the situation closely. What is your reaction to that official statement from CBS?

GORDON: Well, I say a few things. One, I'm confident that management is taking the situation seriously. In a conversation I had last night, there were at least two things that mattered. One was it was their belief that the meeting today, scheduled between Imus and the team, needed to take place. Not that it would necessarily influence the outcome, but in sort of the flow of events. It was their belief that the meeting needed to occur first.

In addition, to be very clear, and I'm probably going further than I should, Imus is an employee of CBS. He was not an employee of NBC. So there are certainly some details that have to be thought through before any final decisions can be implemented. So, I'm not as much concerned about the pace or timing of the decision, as I am that the decision be the right decision. That's where my attention is being focused.

S. O'BRIEN: Is this essentially, Bruce, about money? Is it sort of doing the math on there are X number of advertisers who are pulling out. Imus brings in Y number of dollars. We crunch the numbers and say, it's worth it to us to pull him off the air, or wow, it's really not worth it to us to pull him off the air, CBS' eyes?

GORDON: I'm not sitting in the room going through the checklist, but I don't really think that that's the flow of the thought process. I think what Don Imus did is clear to everyone. It was unacceptable. It was wrong. And it requires consequences. I believe CBS management understands that.

S. O'BRIEN: You think that he should be fired, I know that. Do you think CBS management believes he should be fired?

GORDON: I think they do, but once again, they have got to make the final call. And they're going to get to that conclusion. I think they are going to get there fairly quickly, but they want to be thoughtful. This is not about speed. It's about doing what's right.

S. O'BRIEN: Let me run a chunk of what Imus had to say on WFAN this morning. I think we have this. Play this, guys.


IMUS: And I didn't sense a lot of courage on the part of the people at CBS, although I had a good meeting with Les yesterday. And I like a lot. He's a good guy. But sometimes it doesn't snow on Christmas.


S. O'BRIEN: Well, he goes on to say there, Bruce, that he is not going to talk to Larry King. He's not going to talk to Barbara Walters. I love them, he says, but I'm not going on a talk show tour. I have apologized enough. The only people I want to talk to are these young women, but the story is not over.

GORDON: Well, you know, Soledad, frankly, for me personally -- let me personalize this. There's a fine line. Clearly, I have a reaction and a responsibility as a director of CBS. And I'm carrying that through. And I think I've been fairly clear. As an African- American man in this country, Don Imus violated our community. He attacked beautiful, talented, classy women. And when those women showed themselves to the country a couple days ago, I think that his words, matched with their images, made it clear to America that Don Imus was wrong and to hear his little sound bite that CBS hasn't shown much courage, shame on him.

He's the guy who didn't have courage. He's the guy who showed a weakness by allowing that kind of language and that kind of behavior to creep into his show.

S. O'BRIEN: So what happens if CBS says, you know what, we have done the math. We have really analyzed the situation. And we think he should stay. Two-week suspension and that's it. What do you do, as the only African-American member of the CBS board?

GORDON: First, I dare not speculate on that outcome, because my sense is that that's not where this will end up. But as an African- American on the board, I believe that I belong at that table. I believe my presence at the table has been useful in working the situation through. So I dare not speculate on what might happen, since I'm confident that CBS ultimately understands that a zero tolerance policy, as it applies to this kind of behavior, can only lead to one outcome. And I am going to be optimistic that that outcome will be realized and that it won't take long.

S. O'BRIEN: Oh, we'll see what that outcome ends up being. Won't we? Bruce Gordon joining us this morning, a member of the CBS board, the former president of the NAACP. Nice to see you, Bruce, thanks.

GORDON: Thank you, Soledad.

M. O'BRIEN: Coming up in the program, a big bomb blast inside the fortified Green Zone in Baghdad rocks the Iraqi parliament. There are reports of injuries and deaths. We will hear live from Baghdad in just a moment. Stay with us.


S. O'BRIEN: Welcome back. We begin with breaking news out of Iraq. A major explosion in the Iraqi parliament building. That's a building that's inside the green zone in Baghdad. CNN's Kyra Phillips is live for us in Baghdad. Good morning, Kyra.

KYRA PHILLIPS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Good morning, Soledad. This, I can tell you, just happened within the past 20 minutes or so, an explosion inside where the Iraqi parliament meets. It's actually in the old convention center under the Saddam days. It's in the fortified green zone. But I have to tell you, even though this is big news, it's a huge deal. Obviously there's an explosion there where the Iraqi parliament meets, this does not come as a surprise.

As you know, there's been a lot of attacks into the green zone, within the green zone. We still can't confirm if this was a bomb that was inside the cafeteria where the Iraqi parliament actually goes to have lunch once it's finished with the session, or if it's something that came in from the outside. As you know, we talked about mortars that have come into the green some. For example, the U.N. secretary general, when he me to visit, not long ago, there was a mortar attack, when he and the prime minister, Nouri al Maliki, were meeting. You remember, it really shook the building and also shook up the U.N. secretary-general.

Also, military that work within the green zone have told me a number of times mortars coming in, hitting their workout area, not far from the pool inside the green zone where a lot of U.S. military works out. So this is not a surprise that this has happened. Also a couple weeks ago, you might remember, Admiral Mark Fox saying that they found two suicide vest bombs inside the green zone.

So, we still can't confirm that this is something that came from the outside into the convention center area where the Iraqi parliament meets, or if, indeed, it was a bomb that was planted in the cafeteria where that explosion happened. We did talk to one person inside of there, right after this happened. They didn't want to give their name, but it's somebody that works within the Iraqi parliament, saying that the roof had collapsed in that area of the cafeteria.

And so far we are getting reports from the U.S. embassy that no Americans have been hurt in the explosion, but possibly Iraqi employees. That's all we to this point know right now, Soledad.

S. O'BRIEN: All right. Kyra Phillips, with an update for us. Thank you, Kyra.

M O'BRIEN: With conflicting views on the economy out there, retailer Target is definitely rising high on positive sales. About 25 minutes past the hour, Ali Velshi Minding Your Business.


S. O'BRIEN: Those three Duke lacrosse players have been exonerated, but after living under a cloud of suspicion and the media spotlight for more than a year what do they do next? We are going to talk to their defense attorneys straight ahead.

And can where you live effect how long you live? Dr. Sanjay Gupta's series "Chasing Life" takes a look at places where living to 100 might be practically the norm. You're watching AMERICAN MORNING. The most news in the morning is right here on CNN.


SOLEDAD O'BRIEN, CNN ANCHOR, AMERICAN MORNING: Good morning everybody. Welcome back. Thursday, April 12th. I'm Soledad O'Brien.

MILES O'BRIEN, CNN ANCHOR, AMERICAN MORNING: And I'm Miles O'Brien. We are glad you are with us this morning. We are following breaking news from Iraq right now, an explosion at the Iraqi parliament building. That's inside the fortified green zone. Numerous casualties reported.

Also, Don Imus dumped by NBC. He still has his radio show but a big protest is planned this morning to pressure CBS radio to cancel that as well.

S. O'BRIEN: And what's next for those former Duke lacrosse players who have now been cleared of assaulting a stripper? There's new pressure too this morning on the DA who indicted them.

M. O'BRIEN: Spring certainly coming in like a lion in parts of the country. Snow in Chicago, possible tornadoes in other parts of the Midwest. Chad Myers tells us what is going on and where the extreme weather could hit today.

S. O'BRIEN: And these folks are a lot more likely to live to 100 than most of us. It has a lot to do with where they live. We are paging Dr. Sanjay Gupta for an explanation. That in just a moment.

First though breaking news out of Iraq. A large explosion has taken place inside the Iraqi parliament building, happened within the last hour. We are hearing that there are many casualties. That's from some reports on the ground. The explosion was in a cafeteria, a restaurant apparently where many parliamentarians eat lunch. The parliament building is inside of Baghdad's very fortified green zone. No word yet if the bomb was brought into the building or if, in fact, that restaurant, the building was hit from the outside by a mortar.

Elsewhere in Iraq, a suicide truck bomb exploded. It happened this morning on a major bridge in northern Baghdad. Parts of the bridge collapsed and sent cars into the river below. The bombing killed 10 people, injured 26 others.

Don Imus as we told you, has been dumped by NBC. The network's news president announced it last night that it was canceling the simulcast of Imus' show that airs on MSNBC after the radio host's on- air racial slur.


STEVE CAPUS, NBC NEWS PRESIDENT: I think this particular remark was way over the line. This was - I think he -- this is -- they had gone further with this one than they had ever gone before. There's no question that this was the final straw. And it caused a lot of to us examine what was on that program.


S. O'BRIEN: The Reverend Al Sharpton plans to hold a protest today outside of CBS radio to demand that company as well fire Imus.

Effective immediately, every U.S. soldier who is serving in Iraq and Afghanistan has to serve 15 months. Defense Secretary Robert Gates says U.S. forces are stretched thin. He's going to up their tours from 12 months to 15 months, says that's the best way to keep the force in Iraq and Afghanistan at the current levels.

This morning in Washington, another big battle brewing between Democrats in Congress and the president. This time it is over stem cells. The president is poised to veto a bill that would allow Federal funding for embryonic stem cell research. Senate Democrats pushed the bill through yesterday but not by a veto-proof margin. The president opposes Federal support of the research because it involves destroying human embryos.

And a literary giant left us this morning. Kurt Vonnegut, the satirical novelist who captured the insanity and absurdity of war in his novels, died yesterday in New York City. He wrote 19 novels including "Cat's Cradle" and "Breakfast of Champions," and "Slaughterhouse Five." Kurt Vonnegut took a fall two weeks ago at his home and suffered some brain injuries. He was 84 years old.

M. O'BRIEN: Free and clear at last, those former lacrosse players for Duke University no longer in legal trouble. Reade Seligmann, Collin Finnerty and David Evans heard the words they wanted to hear from North Carolina's attorney general.


ROY COOPER, NORTH CAROLINA ATTY GENERAL: Based on the significant inconsistencies between the evidence and the various accounts given by the accusing witness, we believe these three individuals are innocent of these charges.


M. O'BRIEN: Music to the ears of the defense team as well. We are joined by the attorneys. They join us from Raleigh, North Carolina. Doug Kingsbury and Bill Cotter, attorneys for Collin Finnerty, Joe Chesire, attorney for Dave Evans and James Cooney, the attorney for Reade Seligmann. Good to have you all with us gentlemen. I don't know who's who, so I'll just throw it out there and we will take it away. First of all, let's talk about what it was like to hear those words. Why don't we start with you, Mr. Cooney. Did you expect to get such a full statement of innocence?

JIM COONEY, ATTORNEY FOR READE SELIGMANN: We had had a really open dialogue with the prosecutors for some time, unlike our relationship with Mr. Nifong. And we had had inklings that they felt very strongly these young men were innocent and that they felt the least the justice system could do in North Carolina is start to give them their good names back. So we were hopeful. But until we heard them, nobody was 100 percent confident.

M. O'BRIEN: All right. Tell me this, I'm curious and I will just throw this out there, how about you. One of the attorneys take this. I did a Google search this morning. There's 126,000 hits that came up for Reade Seligmann, 92,600 for Collin Finnerty. How do they get beyond this? That's going to always be with them for the remainder of their lives.

JOE CHESIRE, ATTORNEY FOR DAVE EVANS: One of the ways that they get beyond it was with the generous and thorough investigation of the attorney general in his announcement. The other thing, as Bill Cotter has said and he is so right. These three young men are wonderful young men. They are very bright. They are diligent. They are disciplined. They have a lot of character. And they will prove who they are when they have that chance now that this cloud is over them. Will they ever get past it? No. Will people not know that they were charged with this? They will know that. But these young men are going to do great. They're going to do wonderful.

M. O'BRIEN: Let's listen to what Reade Seligmann had to say yesterday just for a moment.


READE SELIGMANN, CLEARED OF ALL CHARGES: This entire experience has opened my eyes up to a tragic world of injustice I never knew existed. If police officers and a district attorney can systematically railroad us with absolutely no evidence whatsoever, I can't imagine what they would do to people who do not have the resources to defend themselves.


M. O'BRIEN: Mr. Cotter, let's talk about that whole issue. First of all, how much did the defense cost? Have you guys tallied up how much their defenses cost?

BILL COTTER, ATTORNEY FOR COLLIN FINNERTY: No, but it was a lot. It was a lot.

M. O'BRIEN: Are we talking seven figures? Is this a seven-figure bill when you combine it all?

COTTER: Sure. Sure. And we are talking about people who had some means. We're also talking about people who assisted or a lot of the parents in the lacrosse family assisted. So, this -- there was a lot of money spent on this. And like Reade said, he's lucky there was because there are a lot of people in North Carolina jails and jails across this country who don't have the means. They have wonderful appointed lawyers who are not given the means to assist them in representing those people. And that injustice goes on every day.

M. O'BRIEN: Mr. Kingsbury, let's talk about what is next legally. Are there possibilities of lawsuits? And who might get sued?

DOUG KINGSBERY, ATTORNEY FOR COLLIN FINNERTY: Well, I know that all of the families are going to sit down now and consider carefully all of their options. But I know that they also would like to resolve things amicably without litigation, if possible. And we are encouraged that all of the parties, including comments from the attorney general yesterday, suggest that everybody involved would like to resolve this in a fair and amicable way and we're encouraged....

M. O'BRIEN: So who might get sued?

UNKNOWN: I think those things are all on the table. No decision's been made about that.

M. O'BRIEN: Is it possible the accuser would be sued?

COTTER: It's possible that anyone that caused these boys harm would be sued.

COONEY: You've got to remember, this accuser is a mentally disturbed young woman. And that's really all we can say about it because there are a number of records in the court file that are under seal. If she really wants the truth to come out, she needs to lift that seal and let the public know exactly what the attorney general was referring to and what the real truth is about her and once you see that truth, you will understand why we really don't think there are any further actions to take against this woman.

M. O'BRIEN: All right. Are you going to push for unsealing those records then?

UNKNOWN: We can't do anything one way or the other. It's all up to her. She's the one who had them sealed. She and Mr. Nifong had them put under seal to begin with and she's going to have to consent to having the seal lifted.

M. O'BRIEN: All right. Thank you, gentlemen, Doug Kingsbery and Bill Cotter, attorneys for Collin Finnerty, Joe Chesire, attorney for Dave Evans and James Cooney, attorney for Reade Seligmann. Thank you all for being with us this morning. Soledad?

S. O'BRIEN: Ahead this morning, the very latest on the explosion at the parliament building in Baghdad. There's word of fatalities. We got more details coming up in just a moment.

Also ahead this morning, was it the heavy snow that caused this plane to skid right off the runway while it was landing in Michigan? We'll take a look.

And can where you live affect how long you're going to live? We are paging Dr. Sanjay Gupta for the answer. You are watching AMERICAN MORNING. The most news in the morning is right here on CNN.


M. O'BRIEN: We're following some breaking news out of Iraq. Word just in, at least one lawmaker is dead after an explosion inside the Iraqi parliament building. That is inside the fortified green zone in central Baghdad. At least five more people are injured. The explosion went off in a cafeteria where members of parliament were having lunch. It's unclear if a bomb was brought into the building or whether it was struck by a mortar. A live report from Baghdad is coming up shortly. Soledad.

S. O'BRIEN: There were some very scary moments for passengers of a Northwest Air link jet that landed early this morning in northern Michigan's Traverse City airport. The jet's nose gear apparently collapsed while it was landing in heavy snow. It sent the plane skidding. The plane finally stopped about 300 feet past the end of the runway. That's got to be terrifying. Fifty passengers, three crew members on board. Nobody was hurt.

The spring snow is causing problems across the Midwest. Things are almost back to normal at O'Hare International after a snowstorm forced the consolation of hundreds of flights there. Seven inches of snow fell around Chicago yesterday and kids were treated to a springtime snow day. Plow operators picked up a little OT, good for them, bad for the people who had to slog through it. Another Chicago landmark, Wrigley Field, was crippled by the snow though. Wednesday's game between the Cubs and the Houston Astros was postponed.

In central Indiana, powerful thunderstorms and possible tornadoes too left a trail of damage. Take a look at some of these pictures. It happened last night. Several cars and homes in the Indianapolis area hit very, very hard. A number of trees and power lines also knocked down. There were no reports though of any injuries there. Considering that damage, that's good luck. 45 minutes past the hour almost and Chad Myers is watching more extreme weather for us today. Hey Chad. Good morning.

CHAD MYERS, CNN METEOROLOGIST: Just when you thought it was safe to go back into the pool, good morning Soledad, La Guardia, now 60 minutes, O'Hare, already 90 and Philadelphia, 40-minute delays just from what we are seeing on the map. Just take a notice as to how large this system is, snowing in Marquette, raining down to the south, pouring in New York City, absolutely washing things out in New York City, Philadelphia, all the way down to BWI.

Farther to the south, thunderstorms across parts of the Carolinas and farther south than that, all the way back into the western part of the country, a completely different storm that will bring a severe weather event later on today to the Midwest and will bring nine inches of snow to Denver and the foothills around Denver. Look at this rain coming into Ft. Meyers across the Everglades. They are getting some pretty heavy rainfall the past couple of days. And clearly those fires that they had problems with in the Everglades are taken care of by Mother Nature sometimes.

Finally we get rain in a place that we need it. Miles, I don't think you need it in the northeast. Airports could be three, four, five hours behind today. So you're going to need to pack a lot of patience and a couple of books. Back to you.

M. O'BRIEN: Just travel another day, if you can.

MYERS: I'm afraid the train's going to be the fastest way out of town today.

M. O'BRIEN: All right Chad. Thank you.

Coming up, breaking news out of Iraq. A bomb goes off as the Iraqi parliament, members of that parliament each lunch. We'll bring you the latest.

Plus, where you live has a lot to do with how long you will live. We're going to take you to some destinations around the globe where it's a proven fact that people live longer. Why? Sanjay Gupta has some answers ahead on AMERICAN MORNING.


S. O'BRIEN: Is where you live the key to a longer life? That's the focus this morning of Dr. Sanjay Gupta's chasing life series. It's also the title of his new book and a CNN special this weekend. Sanjay joins us this morning talking about some hot spots, blue zones. Why are they called blue zones?

DR. SANJAY GUPTA, CNN CORRESPONDENT: It gives you a sense of comfort and sense that things might actually live longer there, as opposed to a red zone for example where everything sort of dies. I'm in the (INAUDIBLE) peninsula. People actually live longer there than in many other places around the world. So we wanted to find out what it is about these blue zones that we can adopt and adapt to our own lifestyle. Some of the things we found were kind of surprising.


GUPTA (voice-over): On the (INAUDIBLE) peninsula in Costa Rica, families are close. Hard works is the norm and there's no such thing as retirement. Take this man, Evincio (ph). He's 80 and still wakes at 4:30 every morning to work on this ranch.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This 80-year-old has the vigor of a 40-year old.

GUPTA: Dan Buettner and his research team have found Evincio and other men here 60 and older are four times as likely to reach 100 as compared to their counterparts in the United States or Europe. Buettner travels to longevity hot spots around the globe. He calls them blue zones.

DAN BUETTNER, FOUNDER, QUEST NETWORK, INC: Because most of longevity is dictated by our lifestyle as opposed to our genes, we believe that by going to these blue zones and methodically looking at what people do, we can distill out a de factor formula for longevity.

GUPTA: Costa Ricans on the (INAUDIBLE) peninsula eat a healthy diet. Plenty of vegetables and fruits like papaya and citrus fruits. The tortillas they eat are made using a special process that takes the husk off the corn and puts more calcium into it, helping to keep bones strong into old age. Buettner's team is also studying why people live so long in Sardinia, Italy, Okinawa, Japan and Loma Linda, California. Buettner says the blue zones offer a recipe for healthy living that could add eight good years to your life. And he offers this advice --

BUETTNER: Eat a plant-based diet, mostly plants. Number two, regular low intensity exercise, and then number three, invest in family and friends.

GUPTA: Buettner hopes the blue zones will ultimately teach people how to extend their golden years.


GUPTA: One of the things that really struck me as I was working on chasing is that people who live in these blue zones do not have easy lives. I thought they might, but they don't. By and large, they work really hard throughout their entire life. They don't retire. In many cultures there's not even a word for retirement. Maybe that's something that we can all learn even if we are living in a red zone like we are here.

S. O'BRIEN: Exactly. It seems like so much of that work is really physical. You see that guy chopping away. That's a full body workout at the age of 80. You talked about Sardinia. You talked about Okinawa too. What do they have in their diets or their lifestyles that makes them blue zones?

GUPTA: Their lifestyles are very similar in some of the things you were just saying. In Sardinia, as we sort of researched it, they have a local red wine there that is actually, if you examine it, it is actually full of polyphenals (ph) and these are the antioxidants that we talk so much about, that really sort of scrub the arteries clean of plaque and things like that. So that seems to be something in Sardinia. In Okinawa, they eat a lot of fish which we already knew about, the omega-3 fatty acids, but the tofu in particular has a substance known as phydoestrogens (ph) and the phydoestrogen again seems to be one of the substances that busts stress, lowers your LDL and seems to prolong heart health. So those are the substances that seem to work. S. O'BRIEN: What about Loma Linda, California? Some of these places it seems it's going to be impossible to recreate that. I could eat all the fish I want, but if I don't have exactly the right kind of fish or that kind of diet or that kind of low stress lifestyle, I'm not going to get the benefits fully. (INAUDIBLE) Loma Linda.

GUPTA: In Loma Linda, less to do with diet. I think it is the Seventh Day Adventist more than anything else. They don't drink. They don't smoke and they truly, truly take the Sabbath off. They take the day and they just completely are off. They don't think about work. They don't think about anything. Plus their stress helps them live longer they say.

S. O'BRIEN: I think I'm going to start doing that. I'm going to start taking the Sabbath off. Don't call me (INAUDIBLE)

GUPTA: I'll join you.

S. O'BRIEN: I would like that. That would be fun. Bring the family. All right Sanjay, thanks. Sanjay's book of course is called "Chasing Life." It's on sale right now. You can also catch Sanjay's hour-long CNN special called "Chasing Life" on Saturday and Sunday, 8:00 p.m. Eastern right here on CNN. Plus you can win a free autographed copy of Sanjay's book, no, it's not my copy. I'm not selling it for any price. Go to Miles.

M. O'BRIEN: You got a book and I didn't?

S. O'BRIEN: I did.

M. O'BRIEN: What's up with that. Sanjay?

GUPTA: I got you after the show Miles.

M. O'BRIEN: All right, thanks a lot. We're staying on top of a breaking story right now, an explosion in Baghdad inside Iraq's parliament buildings. We're told there are casualties. A live report is coming up at the top of the hour.

And Imus unplugged. He lost his TV show. Will he be bumped off the radio as well? You're watching AMERICAN MORNING. The most news in the morning right here.


S. O'BRIEN: The debate over climate change takes a major shift when a major player in big oil comes out in support of regulating greenhouse gas emissions. It's 57 minutes past the hour and Ali Velshi is minding your business. Good morning. That's kind of a biggie.

ALI VELSHI, CNN CORRESPONDENT: This is kind of weird because some folks continue to refuse to make the connection between carbon dioxide emissions and climate change and you'll find a lot of them in the oil patch. But oil giant ConocoPhillips has become the first U.S.- based oil company to support national regulation of greenhouse gas emissions. It's a big step. It's one that the two biggest U.S. oil companies, ExxonMobil and Chevron have been fighting. ConocoPhillips CEO James Malma (ph) told reporters that no particular event caused the company to change its position and he didn't endorse any specific type of regulation. But what he did commit to is increasing ConocoPhillips investment in alternative and renewable energy from $100 million last year to $150 million this year and he also said pretty clearly that alternatives to drilling, refining and burning oil are going to cost more and that cost is going to be passed on to consumers. The idea of a big oil company supporting emission limits isn't new. British-based company BP has tried to position itself as a leader in both alternative energy and greenhouse gas reduction for some time but its reputation as a leader has been tarnished by some lax safety practices that led to an explosion at a Texas plant which killed 15 people and two oil leaks in Alaska, but big, big steps in what I'm not afraid to say is the right direction.

M. O'BRIEN: Implicit in this is a growing body of thought that it's good business.

VELSHI: Absolutely it's good business. People will have to make choices. This will face us and companies that are ahead of this thing, figuring out ways to do it, will be the beneficiaries. That said, Exxon and Chevron, they're big companies.

M. O'BRIEN: Sticking to their guns. All right, Ali, thank you.

S. O'BRIEN: Coming up at the top of the hour, Chad Myers at the CNN weather center watching the weather across the country. Lots of it is ugly. You busy today?

MYERS: Still using natural gas in a lot of spots across the country to stay warm and I know a lot of people were hoping that they could shut that furnace off but not when you see this. A big spinner storm moving across Marquette, Alpena (ph) in Michigan, all the way up through and then the tail, the warmer tail, where it's raining, New York City down to Philadelphia. Many airports are very slow this morning. We will detail that in 15 minutes. The next hour of AMERICAN MORNING starts right now.

M. O'BRIEN: Breaking news, a deadly explosion inside Iraq's parliament building. A live report is straight ahead.

S. O'BRIEN: Pulling the plug. NBC dumps "Imus in the Morning" from its cable news channel. New reaction from Don Imus, plus a new push to pull the plug on his radio show.

M. O'BRIEN: Innocent and outraged, what is next for those former Duke lacrosse players cleared of sexual assault charges?

Plus, new problems for the district attorney who pursued them in the first place.

S. O'BRIEN: And a family affair. Dark secrets are expected today as a woman goes on trial


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