Return to Transcripts main page


Benazir Bhutto Barred From Leaving Home; More Bank Losses on Subprime; Kerik Indictment: Arraignment Expected Today; iPod and iPhone Danger

Aired November 9, 2007 - 07:59   ET


JOHN ROBERTS, CNN ANCHOR: And good morning to you. Thanks very much for being with us on this Friday, the 9th of November.
I'm John Roberts.


We have breaking news on the struggle for democracy and the situation going on right now in Pakistan.

Police have barred opposition leader Benazir Bhutto from attending a massive rally against President Pervez Musharraf and his cancellation of the constitution. They barricaded her home with concrete, barbed wire -- police. She was seen speaking into a microphone that was being blared on a loudspeaker demanding that they stand down. But now it looks like she will not make it to the protest that she was supposed to lead, the protest that she asked her followers to go to.

Meanwhile, there are also the first deaths being reported in the wake of the president's state of emergency. Four killed in an apparent suicide bombing. That took place in Peshawar.

State Department Correspondent Zain Verjee joins us on the phone. She's in Islamabad, where the situation has been changing by the minute this morning -- Zain.

ZAIN VERJEE, CNN STATE DEPT. CORRESPONDENT: Kiran, things seem to have died down a little bit here now. The security forces are still around but the barricades around -- with armed -- heavily armed with AK-47s.

It really was a test of will and a show of defiance, really, for Benazir Bhutto. She's under lockdown.

Earlier this day, there were hundreds of police and security forces refusing to let her out. Her supporters cut through the barbed wire and she rammed her car trying to get through, but they wouldn't let her.

There were rows and rows and barbed wire. There were a few trucks there. And it was very difficult for her to leave.

But she was sitting in a white bulletproof car, criticizing Pervez Musharraf, criticizing the police, asking them to get out of the way. She had some supporters here. They were chanting, "Down with Musharraf! We want Benazir to be prime minister!"

But the situation now has definitely eased. She has gone back inside, and it seems as though she is effectively under house arrest, although we were told moments ago by her spokeswoman that they haven't been officially served with any order of detention -- Kiran.

CHETRY: Zain Verjee reporting on the phone from Islamabad, Pakistan, this morning.

Thank you.

ROBERTS: Just in this morning, Merck has agreed to pay nearly $5 billion to settle thousands of lawsuits over injuries and deaths linked to its painkiller Vioxx. The drug maker had faced roughly 27,000 lawsuits and Merck once vowed to fight each and every one of them, but has capitulated with the settlement.

Vioxx was approved to relieve arthritis and other types of pain. It was taken by an estimated 20 million Americans before Merck pulled it off the market in 2004 because of a possible heart risk. The FDA estimates that Vioxx may have contributed to nearly 28,000 heart- related deaths between 1999 and 2003.

So the settlement obviously big news. We'll see how the stock does today.

Ali Velshi will have more on the business news coming up for us in a little while -- Kiran.

CHETRY: Well, the man who shot and paralyzed Alabama governor George Wallace back in 1972 is expected to get out of a Maryland prison today. Arthur Bremer shot Wallace during a presidential campaign stop. Wallace, a Democrat, was forced to quit his bid for the White House. He died in 1998.

Bremer is now 57 years old. He served 35 years of a 53-year sentence.

Former president George Bush blasting anyone who criticizes his son's decision to invade Iraq and his handling of the war. In a rare interview with "USA Today," Bush 41 says that too many people have forgotten what he calls the "extraordinary brutality" of Saddam Hussein's regime. He also went on to say that we can't go back to the status quo and that things would not be better in the Middle East if Saddam Hussein was still in power.

And a questionable Halloween costume has the head of Immigration and Customs Enforcement in hot water. Democrats putting on hold Julie Myers' confirmation to the position of assistant homeland security secretary. Myers hosted a Halloween party where an employee showed up wearing dark makeup, dreadlocks and prison stripes. She posed with him for a photo and was a member of a three-judge panel who gave him the most original costume award.

Later apologizing, saying it was inappropriate and that she didn't realize the employee disguised his skin color. She apologized to homeland security staff in an e-mail. Some lawmakers though say she needs to do more.


SEN. SAM BROWNBACK (R), KANSAS: I asked her to reach out to groups like NAACP and others. She said that they would do that to describe and discuss what took place and what actions they're taking in the future, and outreach efforts that they're making.


CHETRY: Myers faces a possible Senate vote on her nomination next week -- John.

ROBERTS: Four minutes after the hour. And it looks like bad news in the markets today. Dow futures down sharply for today's open as more banks report losses in the billions.

Ali Velshi at the Business Update Desk with that for us this morning.

Looking a bit like a Black Friday here, huh?

ALI VELSHI, CNN SR. BUSINESS CORRESPONDENT: Yes, it's another day, another bank writedown. This time from Wachovia.

The country's fourth largest bank saying that in October, the value of its portfolio related to subprime mortgages or investments in subprime mortgages is going to be down by about $1.1 billion, and that brings their total exposure to a little bit over $2 billion. And what this means to the average person is the bank is saying that is their exposure, that is the amount of money they have outstanding connected to loans that might not get paid, connected to an investment that might not be worth anything. It doesn't mean that that is all that they're writing off, but it's about this uncertainty about how exposed our nation's banks are to the subprime crisis.

Wachovia is a very large bank. We've heard, of course, this news from Merrill Lynch, from Citi, and from others. And in those cases, their CEOs stepped down as a result of them. So this could be an instance of all of the major banks trying to get out in front of this thing and say how bad this is. Again, it could just be a continuation of them learning how bad it is.

The Dow futures are down in triple digits right now, so that is where you can expect trading to open this morning. This comes a day after Ben Bernanke was at Capitol Hill saying that economy is slowing down and is going to slow down in the last three months of this year.

We're now in the final two months of the year. He didn't say we were going into a recession. He was pushed on that, and he refused to comment on that. He said they haven't calculated that.

But right now we're looking for another down day on the Dow, or at least another down open on American markets when they start in an hour and a half -- John.

ROBERTS: Just to double check, you said down triple digits?

VELSHI: Yes, triple digits. Right now Dow futures were off about a hundred points as we were talking.

ROBERTS: Katie (ph), bar the door.

Ali, thanks.



CHETRY: Time now to check in with our AMERICAN MORNING team of correspondents for other stories new this morning.

New York City's former top cop and one time close friend of GOP presidential candidate Rudy Giuliani is expected to face federal charges today -- tax fraud, corruption and conspiracy.

AMERICAN MORNING'S Alina Cho is on the story and she's following all of the angles, including whether or not this is going to have an impact on Rudy Giuliani's presidential race.

ALINA CHO, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, Kiran. Unfortunately, it already is.

Rudy Giuliani's connection to Bernard Kerik is, at the very least, a major distraction on the campaign trail and it could haunt him. Now, Kerik, you'll recall, is the man who literally stood by Giuliani as police commissioner on 9/11. He became a national figure as a result of that, and Giuliani stood by him, too, backing him as a nominee for homeland security secretary back in 2004. That was a nomination that ultimately failed.

Well, today, an indictment will be unsealed detailing federal charges against Kerik, including tax evasion and bribery. Giuliani, as New York's mayor, appointed Kerik as corrections commissioner, then police commissioner. He has admitted his mistake was not properly vetting him.


RUDY GIULIANI (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I made a mistake in not checking him out more carefully, but when you balance that mistake against all of the successes that we had, I think the overwhelming record is a record of great success.


CHO: Now, the charges against Kerik stem from accusations he took $165,000 in renovations to his Bronx apartment from a construction company with alleged mob ties that was trying to curry favor with the city of New York. Now, Kerik is accused of accepting that gift without reporting it as income and paying taxes on it.

Now, earlier this year, Kerik rejected a possible plea deal. He's already pleaded guilty to state misdemeanor charges, but, Kiran, as for what kind of effect this might have on Giuliani, the critics are out already. They're saying that, you know, he places too much emphasis on loyalty, not enough on good judgment. Giuliani has said he's not perfect and he is not campaigning as the perfect candidate.

CHETRY: All right. Alina Cho, thanks so much.


ROBERTS: Hey, if you've got an iPod or an iPhone, there's a new study out this morning that's raising some health concerns about those ubiquitous white earphones and also what's inside the phones themselves.

Chief medical correspondent Dr. Sanjay Gupta at our medical update desk in Atlanta.

So a lot of people just took the ear buds out of their ears and perked up when they hear this, Sanjay. What's it all about?

DR. SANJAY GUPTA, CNN CHIEF MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes. You know, we're talking about these cables. A lot of people know about these. And not even so much the ear buds themselves as the actual cord.

They apparently have a lot of phthalates in them. And that's something that's actually prompted the Center for Environmental Health to actually file a lawsuit against Apple.

Now, we're talking about the stuff that makes these cords so flexible, so malleable. We've been talking about these phthalates for sometime now.

Now, the interesting thing is, if you talk about the overall phthalates, they now are on the California's list of banned substances. So you can't have any phthalates in many of these products, especially children's toys. So that's sort of the basis for this lawsuit.

But even more interesting, I think, is that Greenpeace actually took iPhone and decided to dismantle it and try to figure out exactly what is in one of these iPhones in terms of some of these potentially toxic substances. They found, for example, high levels of bromide. That's a potentially toxic substance. And also more phthalates again.

And to put it in a little bit of context, John, for you, is that .1 percent is considered the upper level of acceptable limit there, and what they found is 1.5 percent, so 15 times higher than what they should have had in these particular products. So not such good news for Apple there, but, again, remember, as we've been talking about, it's really hard to quantify just how much of a risk these phthalates are. Most of the studies have been done on animals. There's not human trials that actually show that they might be harmful, but a lot of people worried about it nonetheless.

ROBERTS: As we pointed out, Sanjay, when we were talking about Bisphenol A and phthalates the other day, it's really, you know, when they're scrubbed or when they're heated up that these phthalates start to come out. So do we know what the phthalates that are in the ear bud cords and the other chemicals inside the iPhone could actually migrate either through your ears or through your skin? I mean, would you have to eat your iPhone to get this type of poisoning?

GUPTA: Well, it's a good question. And we don't know. You know, most of these studies have been done on rodents, for the most part, so whether or not it's something that could even be transdermal, cross through the skin, or something you have to inhale or ingest, as you suggested, unclear.

But here's something that's interesting, is that a lot of studies were done on single phthalate exposures. And now we know we have about a billion pounds made of this stuff every year in the United States alone and multiple different phthalates. So, you know, the likelihood of them being in combination possibly causing some detrimental effect is something that hasn't been studied as well.

For Apple's part, it's important to point out they say by the end of 2008 they're going to get rid of all bromides in their products, so they think that that will make them safe remember.

ROBERTS: Right. But just to point out, in this study, the rodents were actually fed the chemicals, right?

GUPTA: That's right. So they were ingested. And it's unclear whether the inhaling of the transdermal would make a difference.

ROBERTS: All right. So the immediate takeaway is, don't eat your iPhone or your ear buds.

GUPTA: Or breathe it in.

ROBERTS: Sanjay, thanks.

GUPTA: Thanks.


CHETRY: "Quick Hits" how.

Considered the Rolls Royce of poker chips, as many as 20 million Paulson brand poker chips are made every year and used in homes and popular casinos. Well, now the Arizona Department of Health Services issuing an alert lert about dangerous lead levels in the poker chips. The lowest level was four times the EPA's legal limit. The highest, 750 times higher than the standard.

How to handle Iran. A Republican senator says the president is going about it all wrong.

We have Chuck Hagel joining us live on AMERICAN MORNING next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK) CHETRY: Senator Chuck Hagel delivered a speech yesterday critical of President Bush and the U.S. policy with Iran. The Republican senator, who is also a member of the Foreign Relations Committee, says that the U.S. should pursue direct, unconditional and comprehensive talks with Iran.

Joining us now from Capitol Hill to discuss his remarks, Senator Chuck Hagel.

Good to have you with us this morning, Senator.


CHETRY: You know, about an hour ago we talked about the Iran issue with John Bolton, the former U.S. ambassador to the U.N. And he commented on your call for direct, unconditional talks with Iran. Let's listen.


JOHN BOLTON, FMR. U.S. AMBASSADOR TO U.N.: I think that would be a bad mistake. I don't think Iran is going to be chitchatted out of its nuclear weapons. They've been pursuing a 20-year-long strategic decision to acquire this capability. They are very close to it. We've missed a lot of opportunities, precisely by engaging in diplomacy via the European Union.


CHETRY: Senator, do you think that the U.S. can talk Iran out of getting a nuclear weapon, especially if they are as close to getting one as Bolton contends?

HAGEL: Well, our current strategy has been working so well, don't you think? The fact is, the Middle East, the world is more combustible, more complicated, more dangerous today than it's ever been. And it's mainly because somehow we've gotten in our minds that great powers don't engage. Somehow diplomacy doesn't include talking to people.

I've always found whether it's a complicated foreign policy issue or something personal in your life, you cut to the middle of it. This doesn't mean you give up anything. But you must engage, because if you don't engage, you can't get out, what are the differences, where are the common interests? Just as we did with Iran and Afghanistan, where they worked closely with us when we invaded Afghanistan.

What is happening in North Korea today is a result of patient, wise, smart, alliance-building, creative foreign policy. We are moving North Korea in the right direction.

We didn't attack them. We worked with the other powers in the area to find a solution. And we're getting there.

Yes, it's frustrating. But what is the alternative? Do we want to go to war again? We're already in two wars and we've got another war brewing in Pakistan. So we could try that.

CHETRY: Yes. Our latest polling -- and our latest polling clearly shows that the majority of the public is against any type of military attack on Iran.

You also said yesterday that the U.S. has to make it clear that it's not seeking a regime change in Iran but a change in behavior. How do you put that into practice? How can U.S. officials get Iran to change its behavior?

HAGEL: Well, first, we have to understand something very fundamental in foreign policy. We have very limited control and influence over most of the things in the world.

Look at Pakistan. Look at that zone of the world, that border between Afghanistan. We have limited ability to influence that. We can help.

It's the same thing with Iran. We can't dictate, we can't say we don't like your government, therefore you're going to have to change your government because you're going to have to play by our rules.

That has gotten us in a lot of trouble in the world. Therefore, the world as combustible and dangerous as it is today.

CHETRY: You know...

HAGEL: You engage. You find common denominator interests. That's the way we've done it for 60 years since World War II -- containment, working with allies, bringing common purpose to it.

CHETRY: You know, our military leaders in Iraq are insisting that Iran has been responsible for supplying weapons to Iraqi insurgents and say that their support has caused hundreds of U.S. troop deaths to this point. So how can we turn a blind eye to that and actually trust the Iranian government to keep their word in any negotiation?

HAGEL: Well, I'm not turning a blind eye to it. I bring that out -- brought it out in my speech yesterday.

CHETRY: But they deny it. They deny it repeatedly, is what I'm saying.

HAGEL: Well, that is beside the point of trying to engage. Let's look at what your options are here.

Your options are trying to engage. That is precisely why you engage. That's precisely why you want an opportunity to sit face to face with them and say you've done this, we know you've done this, this has to stop.

Now, why would they stop? Now, that's one option.

Another option is continuing to muddle along, struggle along, stumble along, and make the world more dangerous, or another option is to attack Iran. Now, of those three, I think I know where I will come down.

Yes, they are a dangerous regime. Yes, they are a state sponsor of terrorism. We know that.

The issue is not an inventory of problems. The issue is, how do you fix it? How do you direct all of your might, your influence, your diplomacy, your economic power, your military power to deal with the issue so it will stop? That's the issue.

CHETRY: Senator Chuck Hagel joining us this morning from Capitol Hill.

Thanks for your time.

HAGEL: Thank you.

ROBERTS: What can you do now to get your home ready for winter to avoid paying the price in high heating bills? Later, our Gerri Willis has got some tips for you.

That's ahead on AMERICAN MORNING.


ROBERTS: At 24 minutes after the hour, we're watching your money for you now. With colder temperatures finally here, oil prices at record highs this week, heating your home this winter is going to cost a lot more than in did in years past.

CHETRY: Yes. Yet another thing you have to worry about this winter, how high could your bill end up going, and what can you do to get your house ready for winter?

CNN's personal finance editor, Gerri Willis, and really Mrs. Fix It today, because you have a lot of things to show us about what we can do to try to help try to stem this rising cost of heating your home.

GERRI WILLIS, CNN PERSONAL FINANCE EDITOR: Well, let's talk about this cost first.

Most folks will be facing about a hundred bucks more this winter if you have conventional forced air heating. Now, if you use oil, which a lot of people do out there in the Northeast, the Midwest, you're looking at almost $400 more this year just with the increase in prices.


WILLIS: And it wasn't pretty last year either. So there are great things you can do to fix this up. We're going to start with something called GREAT STUFF. This is just a sealant, $5 to $6 a barrel -- or a bottle.

CHETRY: Stay back.

WILLIS: Yes. Stay back. I don't want to get this on your suit.

Now, what you do -- you see how this works. You just spray this in cracks and crevices and holes around the perimeter of your house, and it expands to fill the gaps.

ROBERTS: Right. And it eventually solidifies like this.

CHETRY: Pretty hard.

WILLIS: That's right.

ROBERTS: And any idea what the insulating value of this is?

WILLIS: Well, John, good. The insulating value is good. I don't have a number for you, but as you can see, what it does is it expands in that crack, fills all the holes, plugs it right up.

ROBERTS: I've done a lot of this in my home in Virginia.

WILLIS: Yes, that's good stuff.

ROBERTS: It's good stuff. It works.

WILLIS: Now, this is familiar to you, I'm sure, weather stripping. It's very simple. You put it around the windows and the doors. You know, again, it's stopping all those -- plugging the gaps, it's stopping the leaks. Very easy to use.

CHETRY: And it's so much better than that Saran Wrap stuff you used to have to blow dry.

WILLIS: Very sad. And ugly, too, right?

ROBERTS: And its' got phthalates in it, right? Or did back then.

WILLIS: All right. So, if you have in-wall air-conditioners units, you want to cover those up as well. This is just a little cover for the exterior of the air-conditioner. You can see how this works here.

I use one that goes on the inside. It's quilted. This particular one I think costs about $6. It's very, very cheap, helps you save a little money.

And I want to talk, too, about programmable thermostats.

John, you said you wish you had one. Maybe we can hook you up.

ROBERTS: Yes, I do. I just never got around to buying one.

WILLIS: Forty bucks. Really cheap. It saves you 10 percent on your bill.

What you're doing is just regulating the temperature of your home. It's really very easy to use. You want to bring that temperature down about 10 to 15 degrees when you are not there.

And I want to get very quickly to insulation. You're used to seeing those pink fiberglass, right?


WILLIS: Cents per square foot, really cheap, but it's actually -- fiberglass is spun glass.


WILLIS: It breaks off, it gets in the air, it irritates your skin. This -- you've got to feel this. This is made out of blue jeans.

ROBERTS: Really?


CHETRY: That's pretty neat.

WILLIS: So it's green. It's more expensive, about 25 percent more expensive than pink fiberglass. But at the end of the day you can feel good about what you're doing.

Lots of innovations in this field. This is actually mushrooms. Yes.

It's mushrooms that they're growing and using as insulation. It's not commercially available yet, so we don't know what the prices would be.

ROBERTS: Isn't that amazing?

CHETRY: Where would you put this in your house?

WILLIS: You would put it maybe in the attic. They're still working it out in the walls. This would be something you would use like fiberglass insulation, but it's not available yet.

ROBERTS: And we're running out of time, but you want to know where the leaks in your house are?

CHETRY: Tell us about that.

ROBERTS: You've got a great idea here. A little bit of incense. Just burn that and create a little bit of smoke.

WILLIS: Yes. And you will see those drafts move the smoke. You can tell easily where they are, fix the problem.

ROBERTS: Yes. So you just hold that up to...

CHETRY: And you see where it goes.

ROBERTS: ... to your door or to electric outlets, something like that, and see where the smoke is.

CHETRY: That's right.

WILLIS: You know, recess lighting is a very big place where people have problems and they don't realize that they have drafts coming in and out. It's something important to think about.

ROBERTS: And it makes your house smell nice as well.


WILLIS: Back to the '70s. Back to the '70s, right?

ROBERTS: ... thank you for the tips.

And don't forget to watch Gerri on "OPEN HOUSE" this weekend. She's going to be talking about how your vote next year could affect your pocketbook. Plus, scoring a good loan even if your finances aren't that perfect.

All of that, keeping out of debt this holiday season. "OPEN HOUSE," Saturday, 9:30 a.m. Eastern, right here on CNN, repeated 3:30 on Saturday and 3:30 Sunday afternoon, right here on CNN.

CHETRY: Is smells like a yoga studio in here now.

WILLIS: Well, that's not a bad thing.

ROBERTS: It's not hot enough, though.



KIRAN CHETRY, CNN, ANCHOR: Welcome back. It is Friday, November 9th. I'm Kiran Chetry.

JOHN ROBERTS, CNN, ANCHOR: And good morning to you. I'm John Roberts.

Breaking news to tell you about from Pakistan where a tense standoff appears to be over, outside of the home of opposition leader Benazir Bhutto. There was a struggle to try to set her free after police surrounded her home and barbed wire and concrete barricades. She was seen on a microphone demanding that the police stand down but now it looks like she's not going to make it to a planned protest against President Pervez Musharraf. She has given up on her attempts and gas gone back inside the house.

A warning from the FBI. Al Qaeda may be plotting attacks against shopping malls in Chicago and Los Angeles. The fed say the warning is merely a precaution and they're trying to confirm if the threats are credible. They remind us that this is not the first time that malls have been allegedly targeted during the holiday shopping season.

CHETRY: Well should the victims of the deadly Minneapolis bridge collapse get money from the state and, if so, how much? Well, that is what Minnesota lawmakers will be trying to decide today. A subcommittee will meet this morning to hear from victims of families and from lawyers. The question is whether or not a fund should be set up like the one that's in place for the victims of 9/11. The i-35w bridge collapse as you remember happened back in August. 13 people killed and more than a hundred hurt.

What is the greatest story ever told? Well, if you ask the man who created the weather channel, he'll tell you it's global warming. John Coleman posted a blog on making his position clear saying "it is the greatest scam in history. I'm amazed, appalled and highly offended by it. Global warming; it is a scam. Some dastardly scientist with environmental and political motives, manipulated long term scientific data to create an illusion of a rapid global warming. Coleman did stress this doesn't mean he is against conservation.

ROBERTS: He is going to hear a little more about that, I would say.


ROBERTS: I would think.

Time for our ballot jackpot where we stuff our hot topics into a box and pull them out at random and ask our guests to weigh in. Today, we're putting a twist on the segment by talking not with pundits but with seasoned journalists instead of campaign strategists.

CHETRY: That's right. And joining us today to play today Mark Halperin, senior political analyst for "Time Magazine." Good to see you, Mark. And author of the "Undecided Voter's Guide to the next election." Also from Washington, Josephine Hearn, a reporter with the politico. Good morning Josephine, nice to see you as well. All right, let's go for it.

ROBERTS: Let's kick it up. Can we throw our hand in here and pick out a topic at random. Oh, OK. Here we go. Rudy review.

Of course, Bernard Keric apparently turning himself in today. He's going to be indicted on a number of counts. They're sealed right now so we don't know exactly what he's facing. Mark, how far is this going to stick to Rudy Giuliani because he was his police commissioner. He also recommended him to President Bush as secretary of Homeland Security.

MARK HALPERIN, SR. POLITICAL ANALYST, "TIME": They were thickest and they're still a problem for Giuliani but I don't think this is going to be a problem just because we're talking about it. Someone else, some republicans, some interest groups, some democrat is going to have to try to make this an issue. If it doesn't happen, Giuliani is hailed at brilliantly so far. I don't think this is decisive unless someone steps forward and tries to use it to attack Giuliani,

Well, certainly Marc the democrats are trying to make it an issue, sending out e-mails, that sort of thing, calling it carrot gate.

HALPERIN: Not enough, I think it's going to be more than e- mail. It's going to have to be a candidate or again maybe one of those shadowy 527 interest groups with ads. Somebody's going take to elevate this to get this to the voters attention because so far it's not breaking through and as I said, I think Giuliani is handling it from a political point of view really well.

CHETRY: The campaign (inaudible) Josephine, Ron Paul's cash, I think he broke, shattered all types of one-day records raising $4.2 from his website in just 24-hour period. How does he then take that and take all of the internet buzz and actually translated it into doing a little better in the polls because he is still pretty close to the bottom.

JOSEPHINE HEARN, REPORTER, "THE POLITICO": Well, it's incredible really how well he has done, but this was a several-week effort. Everyone decided, all of his supporters decided to give on that day to make a statement and get the headlines. I think it's interesting, because before the internet, you never would of seen this kind of grassroots action. I mean, the 1 in 50 people who are ga-ga about Ron Paul would have never found each other and been able to organize in this way. I think it's an incredible testament to how much the internet can change campaigns. I know he is staffing up. He is preparing to use some of that money and so we'll see how he does in the coming weeks.

ROBERTS: He is going to try to do it again as well. Do you think Josephine or Mark that this could maybe elevate his position to the point where he gets a speaking place at the republican convention?

HALPERIN: He could become a player in the party but he is so out of step with most republicans, at least the other candidates on Iraq. I think the key question is how does he spend this money? It's great that he raised it but he has to spend it effectively in Iowa and New Hampshire. Still a long shot to be the nominee but don't doubt that these other republicans are worried that he's going to start taking votes from them. We might see a little bit of attack by Ron Paul in the coming weeks.

ROBERTS: Well, candidates never seem to have a problem spending money, do they? Another topic - Obama flag flap. Josephine, Obama's campaign and he called this a dirty trick. He was seen with his hands down in front of him while other people, other candidates had their hands on their hearts. It was said it was during the pledge of allegiance, Obama said, no, it was during the national anthem. What do you make of it this? Is this all ado about nothing?

HEARN: Well, I think rookie mistake. We have to remember that four years ago, Obama was a state senator in Illinois. He hasn't been on the national stage very long and he still going to make these little mistakes from time to time. The rule is always error on the side of more reverie, right? If there is a prayer, bow your head. If there's a pledge of allegiance or any sort of, you patriotic thing you should put your hand our heart. So, I don't think it indicates any kind of broader thing about him. I just think it's a mistake.

ROBERTS: All right. Thanks very much for joining us. Josephine Hearn and Mark Halperin, interesting twist on ballot jackpot for us today. Folks, we'll see you again real soon.

HEARN: Thank you.

HALPERIN: Appreciate it, John.

ROBERTS: All right.

CHETRY: Well, still ahead, celebrities join the striking workers on the picket lines in L.A. and New York. In fact, there was a protest right in front of our Time Warner Building yesterday. Stars coming out to show their support for fellow union members who want residual payments when their work is offered on DVDs and the internet. Chris Maloney from "Law and Order, SUV" talked about how the strike is affecting his show's crew.


CHRIS MELONI, MEMBER, WRITERS GUILD OF AMERICA: The crew, people who work very hard to really physically make the show, it's hurting real bad. You know, these are working class people. That Christmas is coming up. And, you know, it's a bummer.


CHETRY: The show really hurt by the strike is Fox's "24." Fox's "24" will not air a new season this year because only eight episodes were written before that strike.

ROBERTS: A popular kids' toy containing a chemical linked to the date rape drug and almost killed one little boy and inspired his mom to take up a very big fight. She's going to tell us about it just ahead.

Plus, workout secrets from U.S. soldiers in Iraq that may help reduce your stress. That's ahead on AMERICAN MORNING.


CHETRY: Breaking news. This just in to us right now. This is a picture of Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport in Atlanta where a concourse is shut down because of a small electrical fire. If you're familiar with that airport, this is in concourse C. This is a concourse that usually services Airtran Airways as well as Atlantic Southeast Airlines. According to a spokesman from the airport, this fire broke out about two hours ago in an electrical closet in that concourse. It was put out quickly but he did not know at this point whether or not the entire concourse has been evacuated or they're allowing passengers to enter from a department part from the transportation mall. He said that in terms of delay we're encouraging passengers to check with their respective airlines so that they can up to date information about any changes to their flight. Again, one of the busiest airport in the nation, Atlanta's Hartsfield-Jackson International and a small electrical fire causing some problems over there on Concourse c. So, if you're flying Airtran Airways or Atlantic Southeast Airlines and you're flying out of Atlanta you may want to double-check that today just to see if anything is changed for you.

ROBERTS: 43 minutes after the hour. A hospital with a V.I.P. list. The UT Southwestern Medical Center in Dallas has a list of 6,400 people, wealthy individuals and their family who are donors or could potentially could become donors. If these people become patients, they get special treatment. The hospital defends the list saying the benefits are greeting at a door or escorting or free parking. The hospital insists no one gets preferential medical treatment or free care. But that brings up to this morning's "Quick Vote" question, should hospitals have a VIP patient program? Cast your vote at Right now, 13 percent of you say yes and overwhelmingly 87 percent are ringing in with the big no this morning. We'll continue to tally the votes throughout this morning.

Coping with stress is a big part of daily life for U.S. soldiers in Iraq. Could their exercise regimens help you be healthier and live a less stressful life here at home? We're paging Dr. Gupta, CNN's chief medical correspondent. He is in Atlanta this morning. Sanjay, you would think that if they have a remedy for stress in Iraq, it certainly might be able to work over here.

DR. SANJAY GUPTA, CNN, CHIEF MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: Absolutely. And exercise is something that we associate certainly with the military, all branches of the military, boot camp, for example, in getting that very chiseled body but it becomes harder as you might imagine to try to get some of that exercise in a war zone, in a combat zone so you may be interested to know they have a 15,000 square foot gym inside the green zone in Iraq and about 500 to 600 soldiers actually use this gym on any given day. It's obviously good for their physical endurance. This is something that took some time to plan but is actually obviously available now for most of the soldiers over there. But this question that you bring up in terms of the possible effects on stress. Well, there is a combat psychologist, Heidi Kraft, who has actually been traveling with the marine expeditionary force and has written a book with her experiences but talks specifically about that very issue. We had a chance to sit down and talk to her and this is what she said.


DR. HEIDI SQUIER KRAFT, COMBAT PSYCHOLOGIST: Cardiovascular exercise, for me, ended up being a real source of stress relief and a way to kind of balance myself physiologically which helped me feel more balanced for my patients.


GUPTA: This whole idea, John, I think it's become more than just anecdotal evidence but actually doing some sort of physical exercise, sort of modulates your cortisol levels, which are the stress hormones. It helps alleviate stress and is well proven now. So the fact that they can get that as some sort of technique in Iraq or other war zones is a very good thing both physically and mentally, John.

ROBERTS: Being in the field with a lot of the troops too that they not only go to the big exercise facility but you know, they'll put a couple of sandbags on the end of a stick and use that. Any thing that they could, any exercise I guess is good, isn't it?

GUPTA: Absolutely. You know when I was out there in Iraq, I mean, obviously, the stress was overwhelming. You were out there as well. You would see people in front of their tents, time that they could, doing abdominal crunches, doing push-ups, things like that and they were doing it, I think, a lot for their physical but also for their mental well-being. They have specific sort of exercise routines that they ask of the men and the women on a regular basis. Men, for example, in the marines have to do these dead arm hangs. They had to do abdominal crunches, a 3-mile run. The women have to do the flex arm hang and has a similar exercise routine. But again, for both the physical and mental well being.

ROBERTS: Yes, basically, just don't be sitting around. Sanjay, thanks. Will see you again next week. Kiran.

GUPTA: All right, sir.

CHETRY: Well, this one probably for many of you that heard it may think this is the most shocking toy recall yet. The components of a wonderful date rape drug, GHB were found in colorful beads of popular kid's toy known as Aqua Dots. Well, my next guest became a force behind the recall after her infant son survived a terrifying ordeal. They are called "Bindees" by the way in places like Australia or other kids have gone through similar things. Shelby Esses joins us from Little Rock, Arkansas with her son Jack. He's 20 months old and Dr. Matt Jaeger who treated jack. Thanks to all of you for being with us.

SHELBY: Thank you for having us.

DR. MATT JAEGER: Thank you for having us.

CHETRY: What a cutie by the way. I have a daughter who is about this same age and these kids will put anything in their mouths at that age. Shelby, what happened to Jacob?

SHELBY ESSES, SON SURVIVED AQUA DOT SCARE: He was playing in his sister's bedroom and she is the one with the Aqua Dots. They were up out of his reach and he climbed to get them and got them down and ate some and came stumbling out into the living room and kind of was weaving around and fell down and his dad went to pick him up and he was completely limp. Then he started throwing up so we knew we had to get him in the hospital and we put him in the car. And on the way to the base clinic, we live on Little Rock Air Force base, he passed out.

CHETRY: Oh man, that must have been just terrifying for you, Shelby. And when you took him to the hospital, Dr. Jaeger, I'm sure this isn't one of the things that first comes to mind that a child by eating beads would have a reaction similar to the effects of taking a date rape drug. How did you even get to the bottom of that? Well, in the beginning, we were very confused because we knew he had ingested the little beads because, as he even once he got to our hospital, after he was transported by our helicopters, he was already throwing up, continuing to throw up these beads so with we knew they were definitely in his system, but we didn't have any idea what the components of these beads were, so we actually continued, in addition to thinking about what could these Aqua Dots have done to him, we continued to look for other sources or other types of more common ingestions. But it was quite a while until before we figured it out. He actually got better at our hospital before we had a firm diagnosis. It was actually mom who did a lot of research on her own after Jack got better and went home and kind of stayed after the company and was able to get a hold of a list of ingredients from the company.

CHETRY: Wow. And so Shelby, what did you find? What do you think the ingredients or these components were that ended up turning into GHB in his body?

ESSES: The one for butylenes glycol apparently is what metabolizes into the GHB. I didn't know anything about that. I just gave the list who took it to the toxicology lab for us.

CHETRY: At this point, do you want to sue or what do you want the company to do at this point?

ESSES: I haven't really thought about that. I really just wanted the product to be recalled and that was our main goal through all of this so we had no intention of suing. As of now, we haven't really put much thought into it, really.

CHETRY: Wow. Quickly, before I let you go, Dr. Jaeger, is he 100 percent in the clear now?

JAEGER: He looks great. And he was really amazing. He was, you know, in this coma for about six hours and over the course of just a couple of minutes, went from being complete asleep to wide awake, acting like nothing ever happened. He looked just like this a few hours after this happened and we were all relieved.

CHETRY: Shelby, I can't imagine how terrifying that must have been for you. I guess no more Aqua Dots around the house. 4 million have been pulled from store shelves. A couple of other similar cases. Thank goodness Little Jack is okay. Thanks to all of you for being with us.

JAEGER: I appreciate it. Thanks.

ESSES: Thank you.

ROBERTS: Still ahead, a look at what's been flooding your inbox this week. Check out these moves. Soccer fans get their kicks at a game. What is most popular on the net. That's ahead on AMERICAN MORNING.


CHETRY: Welcome back. It's Friday. It means it's time to scour our inboxes for the best web videos of the week.

ROBERTS: Our Veronica de la Cruz has been keeping track of all the viral videos this week and she's here with a best of. What have you got?

VERONICA DE LA CRUZ, CNN, CORRESPONDENT: All right, well happy Friday to you guys. We're going to start with a piece of video from which is a website for animated cartoons and just in time for the '08 elections. We see the presidential candidates all dressed up like "Star Wars" characters and features Barack Obama as Luke Skywalker. Rudy Giuliani as Hans solo and Hillary Clinton as Princess Lea.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: If you're elected, are you going to recognize two-headed creature marriage?



DE LA CRUZ: Do you know who that was? Rudy Giuliani.

CHETRY: Yes with Bert and Ernie, right.

DE LA CRUZ: There you go, Dick Cheney as the shotgun wielding Obi Wan Kanobi who shoots an Ewok in the face? That is Now, we're ready to get you to South Korea, where are you? Are you ready for some football? All right, even if you aren't, these dancers at the Samsung Stadium are getting the audience all riled up for a sporting event taking place there. Just watch as they turn themselves into this human pixels, taking on the image of a soccer player scoring a goal. That is incredible. Those are all people down there, thousands of dancers and colorful costumes all pulling up. It's pretty amazing choreographed dance.

ROBERTS: They do that north of the border too except they all make pictures of Kim Jong-il.

DE LA CRUZ: You are right. It's pretty amazing. Nice to see that in America giving the Dallas Cowboys cheerleaders some run for their money. Finally, we will show you this video from a We see a bunch of brake dancers. They are really giving it all they've got. They're busting a move and everything looks good until one of the dancers had to do back flip off another dancer and bam! Instead of a full execution, he falls right on his back. Watch it one more time.

ROBERTS: That's going to hurt. He smacked his head twice.

CHETRY: I'm surprised that doesn't happen more with the moves they do.

DE LA CRUZ: What do you do in a situation like that? I guess if you're Beyonce, you get right back up and you ask the audience not to post it to youtube. Right?

CHETRY: And then of course, it's on there.

DE LA CRUZ: I know.

ROBERTS: Veronica, thanks. Will see you again next week.

The CNN NEWSROOM just minutes away now. Tony Harris at the CNN Center with a look at what's ahead today. Good morning to you, Tony.

TONY HARRIS, CNN, ANCHOR: Hey, good Friday to you, John. You can bet that clip is going to get some spins in the NEWSROOM this morning.

Crisis in Pakistan to tell you about. It's certainly on the NEWSROOM rundown for you. You can't lead a protest if you're stuck at home. That is exactly where Pakistan's government has opposition figure Benazir Bhutto.

Almost $5 billion, that's what Merck reportedly will pay to settle lawsuits over its painkiller, Vioxx.

And not exactly your routine police stop. A catholic school principal dressed in leather, fake breasts and fishnets. And, yes, he's got an explanation.

Also bumping heads over bathrooms. Which ones should transgender people use? What a mix? It's Friday in the NEWSROOM. Top of the hour, right here on CNN. John, back to you.

ROBERTS: Did you say catholic school principal?

HARRIS: Yes, I did.

ROBERTS: Looking forward to how you will explain that one. Thanks.

We'll be back after this. Stay with us.


ROBERTS: A final check on this morning's Quickvote question for you, should hospitals have a VIP patient program? And the answer is, the survey said - at last check, 13 percent of you said yes and a whooping 87 percent of you said no. To everyone who voted this week, thanks very much. We'll do it again starting on Monday morning.

Thanks so much for joining us on this AMERICAN MORNING program. We'll see you again next week.

CHETRY: Yes, have a great weekend. Meanwhile, CNN NEWSROOM with Tony Harris and Heidi Collins, starts right now.

HARRIS: And good morning, good Friday to you everyone. You are in the CNN NEWSROOM, I'm Tony Harris. HEIDI COLLINS, CNN, ANCHOR: Hi everybody. I'm Heidi Collins, watch events come into the NEWSROOM live on Friday, November 9th. Here's what's on the rundown, supporters